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Beshalach (when he let go)

Exodus 13:17 to 17:16, Judges 4:4 to 5:31


What did Moshe "cry" to God? (verse 14:15)?

What does it mean that the Israelites "saw the great hand" in verse 14:31? Does the progression in the subsequent song from "hand" to "arm" have meaninng?

In verse 16:9 Moshe and Aharon request that the Israelites "come close" to Adonai. In verse 16:10 the Israelites do not, but Adonai comes close to the Israelites.

Note that God teaches about Shabbat, with the mana, before the giving of the covenant of Sinai.

Compare Exodus 17, Numbers 20, and Numbers 33. The two geographical places which lacked water were named R'fidim and Kadesh. The rock is named M'rivah ("quarreling") and is present at both places.

In verses 15:25-26 we read about Moshe asking for drinkable water. God provides this, but also gives the Israelites chok v'mishpat (one statue and one law) and the promise that if they follow those two rules and the Pesach commandments then disease will never happen. What was this pair of rules? It must involve the priesthood of the firstborn, since the concept of "priest" is understood by the Israelites before the events of Mount Sinai (verse 19:22).

Jeffrey Feinberg notes that in Luke 8:25 Yeshua's disciples might have said in Aramaic "Who is like this?" after another incident of God commanding water.

The phrases "The Angel of the Lord" and "The Angel of Adonai" are equivalent (Judges 13:3,9). They appear in fourteen places. As Melech Elohim the angel is merciful; as Melech Adonai he is bossy and strict.

This angel appears elsewhere by other names—for example, in Joshua 5:13-15 as "the Captain of Adonai's army".

Traditional Jewish Commentary

The Hebrew word karov (13:17) has the possibility of meaning "relative" or "kin" (for example, see Leviticus 21:2, Leviticus 25:25, Ruth 2:20, or 2nd Samuel 19:42). Some rabbis suggest that Exouds 13:17 should be translated "And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God didn't lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines because they were kin, for God said, 'The people might change their mind from seeing war and return to Egypt'". In other words, the Philistines were kin of the Egyptians who would surely make war in an attempt to avenge the Egyptians, and God did not want to present a dilemna of divided loyalty to the Egyptians who were among the people of Israel.

The name Pi-Hachirot means "Mouth of Freedom".

The name Ba'al-Tz'fon means "Lord of the North", and is reputed to be an Egyptian idol that Pharaoh might trust to stop Adonai.

In Exodus 14:25 the word kavod refers to literal weight (of chariot wheels). In Exodus 14:17 the word kavod refers to weightiness of glory.

The Hebrew word man (what we normally pronounce as "mana") resembles the words for both "what is it?" (man hu, Exodus 16:15) and "gift" (matanah, Numbers 18:6).

"And all the congregation arived at the Desert of Sin" (16:1). The word Sin, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, has the same numerical value as ha'S'neh (the Burning Bush). He teaches that its name was changed to Sinai (with an extra Yud, whose numerical value is ten) because the Ten Commandments were given there.

In Eilim there was a spring for each tribe, and a palm tree for each elder.

The horses for the chariots must have belonged to God-fearing Egyptians who hid their animals from the hail.

Sforno links the complaining at R'fidim with the battle there. He says that the Israelites showed they lacked of faith, and Esau's firstborn's firstborn (the Amalekites) challenged them in an attempt to claim the status of the nation deserving to be chosen by God.

What were the chok oo'mishpat (statue and law) made at Marah after the waters turned sweet? The Talmud, in Sanhedrin 56b, conjectures they were the rules of observing Shabbat and honoring your parents, because in the second rendition of the Ten Words these commandments have attached to them the phrase "as Adonai your God has commanded you" (Deuteronomy 5:12, 5:16). Rashi disagrees slightly. Perhaps Rashi noticed that the first rendition in Exodus 20 does not contain that phrase in either place, so that is not really evidence that those commandments were taught as a pair in the wilderness before the Israelites reached Sinai. (Shabbat is introduced in Exodus 16, before Sinai, but in a manner which implies it was at that time a new thing for the Israelites.)

This is the longest Haftorah portion. It also has the Israelites escaping oppression, defeating panicked chariots, victors singing, and 40 years of rest.