Torah – Exodus 13:17-17:16 Haftarah – Judges 4:5-31 Brit Chadashah – John 6:15-71
Beshelach “when he let go” is this week’s parasha (portion.) There is a lot that you will read and learn in the above listed verses. I encourage you to read for yourself and dig deep!
Much of this portion revolves around water. There is the dramatic account of the parting of the Red Sea. The children of Israel find themselves without water and thirsty in the wilderness before being lead to twelve wells. There is also the striking of the rock later, which sent forth water to satisfy the people and animals.
Let’s zero in on a single concept which is centered on a single Hebrew word, yotsab.
Exodus 14:13-14, “And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the L-RD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 “The L-RD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (NKJV)
You can see from reading the verses of this parasha that there is a lot going on. After more than 400 years of slavery and bondage in Mitzreim (Egypt), the Hebrew people finally were let go after ten plagues and all of the signs and amazing wonders that were displayed for all to see and experience. Now the people find themselves cornered…trapped as it seemed in another mitzreim. Remember that the Hebrew word for Egypt translates as a narrow place, a closed in place and even as a prison. This is surely how they must have felt being trapped with nowhere to run or hide as the mighty armies of Pharaoh closed in!
The people cried out in fear and dread for what was coming upon them. It might be easy for someone who was just casually familiar with this story to ask why G-d did this. Why did G-d allow this to happen? Why not just get them where they had to go. Clearly, we know there was an easier, shorter route. So why?
The answer to this question is found in the very first verse of this study.
Exodus 13:17, “Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that G-d did not lead them [by] way of the land of the Philistines, although that [was] near; for G-d said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.”
G-d knew the people were not ready to fight. He knew that the shorter route was going to have the people face war. So the way of the wilderness and the Red Sea was indeed the more merciful and loving way to take His children. Also, no doubt part of the plan was to reassure the people once again that despite their lack of emunah (trust or faith) that HaShem (YHVH) was indeed with them and more than able to do whatever was necessary to protect His people and preserve His plan.
So back to verse 13 and this Hebrew word yotsab. It is translated, depending on your version as “be still” or “stand.” Moshe (Moses) instructed the people to yotsab…be still – and see the salvation of YHVH. He prefaced this by telling them also to not be afraid.
Yotsab also has a meaning of present, as in present yourself. The message Moshe was giving the people at that place at that time, and to us here today is that no matter how things look, no matter how stacked against you the deck looks, our Father is indeed ultimately in control. The Father will always act on our behalf for our best outcome. This applies to the here and now, but as you might imagine, ultimately for our eternal state.
At no time did the people hear the instruction from Moshe or G-d to run around and act crazy. At no time were the people instructed to do anything at all. They were simply instructed to stifle fear and not be afraid. They were told to stand, be still or in other words do nothing. Simply present yourself and see with your own eyes the salvation out of what threatens you by your G-d!
Take this message to heart and put it into practice the next time the enemy roars. This is perhaps the ultimate display of emunah (trust). When our trust in Him is so complete that we are able to refrain from giving into fear and doing nothing but trust. Our tendencies is to think we have to “do something”. Somehow we have to get involved and help G-d out, right? While it is right that this is what we tend to do, it is wrong that we do it. Trust and obey!