Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study section. “Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, 'Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.'” (Exodus 13:17).
In last week’s study, after the last and most devastating of the Ten Plagues (Death of the Firstborn), Pharaoh finally relented in letting the Israelites go free. We should have noted it marked the beginning of a new life, at the beginning of God’s year (Ex 12:2). They were given annual holy days and similarities between the Passover lamb and that of the final Passover lamb in the Messiah, i.e. the meal took place in the night and neither had their feet broken (Ex 12:7, 46; John 19:36, 1Cor 5:7). There is a separate article specifically on the Passover. One is on www.forwardtoyahweh.com.
This week, however, in study section titled “Beshalach”, Pharaoh changes his mind and races after them to bring them back into slavery. God leads them through the sea to prevent them turning back into Egypt (13:17). Thinking they are lost in the wilderness, Pharaoh seemingly traps them against the Red Sea. There is no escape, or so it seems. God miraculously parts the waters so that His people pass through on dry land, while the Egyptians drown behind them. They and Egyptians would know who is the real God (14:18). In relief and thankfulness to God for this amazing victory over those who wished to enslave them, Moshe (Moses) and the Israelites sing a beautiful song called ShiratHaYam (שירתהים), the Song of the Sea. Some also call it AzYashir Moshe (then Moses sang), which are the first words of the Song of the Sea (Exodus 15:1).
The Song of the Sea (Exodus 15:1–18)
In true humility, this song gives no glory to the leadership of Moses or praise to the people for the faith it took to walk between walls of water, but totally gives the glory and praise to Yahweh God.
“I will sing to Yahweh, for He is highly exalted. Both horse and driver He has hurled into the sea” (Exodus 15:1). I suggest reading the song and compare it to songs or choruses sang today in worship. It tells the same account as the gospel teachers of the New Testament i.e. Exodus 15:16 … till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. 1Co 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. 1Co 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
Do song writers today have authority to change the template?
This song of Moses is, perhaps, also mentioned in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) as a song that will be sung by those who defeat the beast in the end times. However, this time they will be singing by the sea of glass instead of the Red Sea and holding harps instead of tambourines:
“Those defeating the beast, its image and the number of its name were standing by the sea of glass, holding harps which God had given them. They were singing the song of Moshe, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: ‘Great and wonderful are the things you have done, Yahweh, God of heaven’s armies!’” (Revelation 15:2–3).
Moses’ sister, Miriam, also goes out with the maidens and they dance for joy with timbrels which is interpreted to be tambourines. These were worship practices picked up in Egypt. Later, when Yahweh or Solomon set up their temple worship system we should see tambourines are not included. They cover up the sound of the human voice which is what is pleasing to Yahweh God. Today, drums and other loud instruments drown the voices of the congregation songs of praise. Because of these songs, this week’s Torah / Bible section is also called Shabbat Shirah (Sabbath of Singing) by the Jews.
Some verses to note:
Exo 13:8 And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. Exo 13:9 And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD'S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt (see also v14-`15).
Exo 13:19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. None of the Patriarch’s bones remained in Egypt even in death. Likewise, YHWH’s people do not remain in Egypt or see hell even in death).
Exodus 15:3 The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name. shows the war side of God. Verse 16 mentions the purchasing of the Israelites as does 1Cor 6:20 and 7:23. Verse 26 refers to how He will keep them if they keep His ways. If you as a New Testament believer claim the purchase covering of 1Cor 6:20 etc should you not also keep the condition? Exo 15:26 And said, IF thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee. Note God also feeds them with bread from heaven (as does the Messiah of the New Testament. Exo 16:4 Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or not.
Exodus 16:4 commands them not to collect any of the fallen manna from heaven on the seventh day to prove if they would “Walk in His laws or not”, does this not indicate the keeping of the seventh day Sabbath is a sign to God that you wish to be His and follow Him? You have passed the test as Abraham did in Genesis 22:12 (.. for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast ...). This test being given before the commandments were later given in chapter 20. See 16:23-28. All God’s promises are conditional on the keeping of His commandments. Faith existed from the beginning. Here is an example of those who had and those who had not. Like today some have faith God will provide if they obey Him and others want the provision without the obedience. Exo 16:19 And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. Exo 16:20 Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.
Exo 17:6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. See Num 20:8-11, Psm 78:15-16 and 1Cor 10:4. In short, it was YHWH who did the saving and providing in the Old Testament and in the New. It was Him who washed the 12 disciples feet, died at Calvary etc. We should remember this when focusing too much on the son who was the Father with an early name. They are the same yesterday, today and forever!
The Long Way Home: The Hebrew word Beshalach (בְּשַׁלַּח), the name of this study section, means when he sent or let go. Pharaoh didn't simply let the people go; he sent the Israelites away Exo 12:31 And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said. Exo 12:33 And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men.
The children of Israel had a quick lesson to learn about following God. They knew they were heading to the land of Canaan. They would have assumed that they would simply follow the coastal route up out of Egypt, along the Mediterranean, and be back in Canaan in a few days. God does not take shortcuts. When Pharaoh let them go, God did not lead them on the straightest, most direct route to their Promised Land, which would have taken them through Philistine territory and certain battle. Instead, He led them around and through the Red Sea or Yam Suf (literally, Sea of Reeds).
Why did God not take them on the quickest route and into battle? God did not want the Israelites to go through Philistine territory and immediately encounter a war, lest they lose heart in God’s protective care and run back to Egypt Exo 13:17 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:
The coastal highway was guarded by Egyptian garrisons. God did not want the military confrontations to dissuade the people. Besides, He had some important things to teach them in the wilderness before they arrived at Canaan. He wanted to deliver them at the Red Sea, teach them about His provision and give them the Torah at Sinai before leading them to the land. We are often in a hurry to reach our dreams and our goals. It is frustrating to take long cuts through the wilderness. God is more interested in seeing us develop in spiritual maturity than He is in seeing us arrive at our dreams and goals. He will often lead us on long, seemingly circuitous routes in order to teach us and prepare us for the things that lie ahead. He wants to build our character. When we rush in without His leading and training, we find ourselves surprised by the challenges and quickly overcome. God might not take you on the most direct route to fulfilling your destiny. Instead, He just might take you out of the way a bit, proving His magnificent love for you by parting a sea on the way or lighting your path during a time of darkness. Or you may simply return to your worldly ways Pro 30:8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Pro 30:9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
You may also be too mentally weak to take on the big change needed from what you like to what He wants of you. Note Moses and John the Baptise were separated from what they knew of the world in order to be trained. It took longer with Moses for reasons I will not list here, 1Co 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 1Co 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
With that firsthand experience of God’s Presence, your faith will be made stronger to sustain you in the trials that will certainly come to you further down the road. Still, as with any relationship, it takes more than one great experience to know who God is and understand His character, integrity, and love. So sometimes the journey to our destiny is more than roundabout; it is the long way. This truth is evident at the Red Sea. Even though the Israelites had the experience of walking out of Egypt with the spoils of the land and their firstborn sons still alive, that was not enough to calm their fears for long.
On the Way to the Promised Land: “And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD.” (Exodus 14:10).
The Israelites' reaction when they saw Pharaoh pursuing them confirms that they were not yet ready for battle. The frightened Israelites did the right thing with their fear: they cried out to God! Then they did the wrong thing: they blamed Moses for bringing them out of Egypt, only to be annihilated by Pharaoh’s soldiers. They considered it better to have been left to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness (Exodus 14:11).
Sometimes, when moving on the path to greater freedom, we may encounter fearful challenges and wish we had just stayed where we were no matter how painful or uncomfortable that old place felt. However, moving ahead means facing new challenges and seeing God’s power demonstrated as we overcome them. Moses reassured the Israelites that God would fight their battles for them and they would only need to hold their peace. “But Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.” (Exodus 14:13–14).
The Israelites had a dilemma: they were trapped between a big sea and an angry Egyptians army and Moses told them to “keep silent. On one hand, they could keep silent, hear the approaching chariots get louder and surrender to them in mighty fear and helplessness. On the other hand, they could keep silent, listen for Yahweh’s direction to move forward (kadima!) and obey Him “And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.’” (Exodus 14:15).
Their silence involved action. So often we are told to “wait upon the Lord” and we often accept this to mean "do nothing". It is true there are times when we must find the patience to simply do nothing but wait until God shows us His direction; however, there are also times when God says, “Move forward!” At those times, we are to rise up from bended knee in heroic faith and go! Plant and leave God to water. God has wonderful blessings and victories in store for us if we would only take the first steps of faith, trusting in His leadership and wisdom. Through Yahshua we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37).
Let us, then, not miss our orders to go forward with boldness and confidence to possess the Land that is ours. Moses demonstrated great faith to his people. We also need to encourage those who are fearful, reminding them of God’s great power, love, and faithfulness. “Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save you.’” (Isaiah 35:4).
The journey from Egypt to Mount Sinai symbolizes spiritual growth. Israel leaving Egypt can be compared to the new believer, a born-again infant. The baby has to learn to walk, to talk and to eat solid foods. Israel's first forty-nine days in the wilderness were filled with growing experiences. Soon after leaving Egypt, their food supplies were exhausted. Facing starvation, the children of Israel cried out, again complaining that it would have been better to have died in Egypt with a full stomach than to die of starvation in the wilderness. Miraculously, Yahweh sent a flock of quail for meat, and introduced them to the angelic bread with which He would sustain them in the wilderness for the next forty years. Every morning, a layer of dew settled over the camp of Israel. When the dew evaporated, it left behind a thin, flake-like covering that the Torah compares to frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they asked, "What is it?" The Hebrew word man (מן) means "what." Manna essentially means "whatchmacallit."
Manna was amazing stuff. It had all the nutrition necessary to sustain a large population for forty years. It appeared six days a week and in an adequate amount so that no one went hungry. It could be cooked, boiled or baked. However, it could not be stored. If anyone tried to hoard it, it turned rancid overnight. Manna can teach us about money and materialism. God provides the bounty of the material world for our welfare. He provides adequately for our needs, sometimes in scarcity, sometimes with abundance, but always with sufficiency. "He who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack" (Exodus 16:18). When we try to hoard wealth, though, it can turn into something spiritually ugly. Just as the manna turned rancid and wormy, hoarded wealth sickens the soul. It causes us to cling to material things. We feel we no longer need to rely on God because we can rely upon our savings and investments. We no longer need to pray for our daily bread, as Yahshua taught us to do. As Yahshua warned us, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:23). Yet this does not mean we are not to learn the lessons of Joseph in Egypt, providing for times of drought or hardship.
Not that there is any special merit in being poor; but it is much more difficult to be affluent and keep your spiritual footing. The wealthy disciple must exercise constant vigilance against the deceits of wealth. He must keep his hand open and generous, and he must be able to lay it all aside for the sake of the kingdom. It is not money that is the route of evil; but the love and serving of it.
Believe in God and in Moses.
Israel’s moment of personal faith occurred on the shore of the Red Sea. After they saw Pharaoh’s army destroyed and the deliverance God gave them through Moses, they fully placed their faith in God and in His servant Moses. The Torah says that “they feared the LORD,” meaning they understood that He punishes the wicked and rewards the righteous. It says “they believed in the LORD,” meaning they had faith in His saving power. It also says that they believed “in His servant Moses,” meaning that they now had faith in Moses as the agent sent by God. These statements summarize the Torah’s prescription for saving faith. Belief in Moses implies more than simple theism. To believe in God is one thing, but to believe in Moses requires believing in God as He revealed Himself through the Torah of Moses. Many people believe in God; but not so many believe the Torah. Not many people believe in God as He is revealed through Moses. This is why the Mechilta, an ancient commentary on Exodus, says, “One who believes in Moses believes in God.” One who believes in the Torah believes in more than just a vague sense of higher power; he believes in the God of the Bible.
Yeshua made a similar statement to His disciples, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1); Mat 23:2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: Mat 23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; (see also Mark 10:3, Luk 16:29, 31. Just as they had previously placed their faith in God, they need also to place their faith in Him as God’s agent of salvation. Just as Israel believed in Moses, the disciples needed to believe in Yahshua, the prophet like Moses. This faith in Yahshua is the critical distinction of a believer’s life. We find that many people today are willing to confess faith in God; but they seem embarrassed to confess faith in Yahshua or teachings of Moses (keeping all the commandments given by God through Moses). We are called “believers” because we believe in Yahshua and the words of God through Moses. The deliverance from Egypt, blessings and curses warning etc. We find salvation in Him because we place our faith in Him. We believe in God as He is revealed through the teaching and person of Yahshua. Joh 5:46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. Moses saved the children of Israel from Egypt, from Pharaoh and from the Red Sea. Yahshua saves us from sin, from Satan, from eternal death and He will bring us into the redemption and the kingdom.
Crossing the Red Sea and Baptism.
Paul wrote to the believers at Corinth, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were immersed into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:1–2).
In Paul’s day, one who wanted to become a disciple of Yahshua had to go through a ritual immersion. This rule applied to both Jews and Gentiles. Prior to the immersion, the new disciple confessed and renounced his sins in keeping with the tradition of John’s immersion. Then he descended into a gathering of living water “for the name of Yahshua.” The immersion brought ceremonial cleansing from Levitical impurity, and it symbolized spiritual cleansing, death, and resurrection. Judaism teaches that one who immerses in a mikvah (immersion pool) symbolically dies as he descends into the water and is reborn as he leaves the water. The apostles applied the death and rebirth imagery of the immersion ritual:
“Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Messiah Yahshua have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death … if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection (Romans 6:3–5)”.
For the apostles, immersion into the name of Messiah represented the transition from death to life, from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. By way of analogy, Paul saw the same imagery at work in the crossing of the sea. The children of Israel left Egypt, Pharaoh, and slavery behind as they descended into the water, and they arose on the other side as free men, a people ransomed by God.
Paul warned the Corinthians not to think too highly of themselves. Paul warned them that the generation that perished in the wilderness had similar credentials to their own. They had all been “immersed into Moses in the cloud and the sea,” yet they did not enter the Promised Land (which is compared to the Messianic Era). As the congregation of Israel left Egypt for their new life, and way of life, they showed their choice to follow God. They were first baptised by crossing the Red Sea to purify themselves in preparation for their journey to Mount Sanai. Then very soon after they got the commandments of how to live that new life among the surrounding world. Have you made the choice, been properly baptised, received and living by those commandments?
Haftarah (Prophetic) Reading: The Song of Deborah: Both the Torah portion and the Haftarah (prophetic portion) of this week’s study contain victory songs by God’s people. In the section, the Israelites sing the Song of the Sea extolling and honouring God for delivering them from Egypt. In the Haftarah, the Song of Deborah is sung when God gives them victory over General Sisera and the Canaanites.
“Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying: ‘When leaders lead in Israel, when the people willingly offer themselves, bless the LORD! Hear, O kings! Give ear, O princes! I, even I, will sing to the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.’” (Judges 5:1–3).
In the Song of the Sea, only God receives praise and glory while in the Song of Deborah, the actions of valiant men and women are also praised. There are several other connections between the Torah portion and this prophetic portion from the book of Judges. In both accounts of Israel’s victories, their enemies had assembled against them in chariots; but God threw their enemies into a panic. Also, in both the Law and prophets study sections, Israel’s enemies were swept away in water and the women celebrated by singing and dancing. We can use the gift of song to praise Yahweh for His goodness and mercy. Our response to the victories that God brings us in our lives can be freely expressed with rejoicing with singing and dancing, just as Moses, Miriam, and Deborah did. We must remember what they did in the streets should not be taken into the temple (church). There is and should be a difference between what we do for our celebrations outside service and inside which God specifically directs. “Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake, awake, sing a song! Arise, Barak, and lead your captives away, O son of Abinoam!” (Judges 5:12).
2Peter 1, a guidance. The Book of 2 Peter is similar in both order and content to the Book of Jude (2 Pet. 2:1 -3:3, cf. Jude 1:8-18). Peter, however, issues a warning concerning the false teachers that eventually would come, while Jude states that they were already present. This second letter of Peter was particularly directed against the gnostic and antinomian philosophies. Gnostics taught that in addition to believing in Christ, one must also receive the gnosis or esoteric knowledge (see Col. 2:8 -23). Peter refuted this idea by stressing the fact that they had already received the true knowledge (2 Pet. 1:16 -21).
Antinomians believe that since salvation was by grace alone, the requirements of the moral law were irrelevant. Peter devotes the second chapter to attacking the licentious Lifestyle that naturally resulted among those who held this belief. Paul also addressed this philosophy (Rom. 6) and denied the accusation that he himself held this view (Rom. 3:8).
Today, as the people of Israel stand surrounded by a sea of hostile enemies and bombarded by terrorism, may all Believers reach out to the Jewish People with words of faith and courage that God has indeed become our Salvation. He will fight our battles for us and as we go forward, we can be at peace as we trust in Him. Let us not forget, Jew or Gentile believers, we use the same scriptures, have the same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and are individual parts of His Church body. In fact I should be thorough and say, as a believer you are nolonger a gentile as that means ungodly, a heathen. In Yahweh and Yahshua His son you should not be ungodly.