Beshalach – בְּשַׁלַּח
Parasha: Exodus 13:17 – 17:16; Haftarah: Judges 4:4 – 5:31
Exodus 16: Midrash Ecclesiastes (1, 1) relates how R. Berechiah said in the name of R. Yitschak, who lived before the year 300 AD:
“Just as there was a First Savior so there will be a Last. Just as it is said of the First Savior (Exodus 4.20) that ‘He took his wife and sons and put them on a donkey,’ so it is said of the Last Savior that ‘He is lowly and riding on a donkey’ (Zechariah 9.9). As the First Savior provided manna (Exodus 16), as it is written, ‘Behold I will pour out bread from heaven upon you,’ so will the Last Savior, as it is written (Psalms 72.16), ‘Let corn abound throughout the land.’ Just as the First Savior opened a fountain, so the Last Savior will provide water, as it is written (Joel 3.18), ‘A fountain will flow out of the LORD’s house.’”
All four gospels record Jesus’ miracles of the feeding of the multitudes. Just before his death Jesus chided the disciples on the way to Caesarea Philippi for their concern about what they would eat on the journey:
“Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand… or the seven loaves for the four thousand?” (Matthew 16.9-10)
And Jesus spoke of himself as the Bread of Life:
“I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world… I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6.32-35) [RS]
Exodus 17.8-16: “Then came Amalek and fought with Israel at Rephidim. And Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose for us men, and go out, fight with Amalek; tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.’ So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat upon it, and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.’ And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord is my banner, saying, ‘A hand upon the banner of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.’”
Amalek, trying to prevent the Israelites from getting to the promised land, symbolizes Satan resisting believers, after they have been saved. Moses’ hands are described (vs 12) as “emunah,” literally “faith.” When his hands were up, Israel won; when he dropped them, the enemy won. So it is also with our faith: when it is low we are susceptible to the attacks of Satan; when our faith is up, Satan cannot defeat us.
Note that Moses’ hands were holding a rod (vs 9). This rod symbolizes the cross. See John 3.14-15: “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” That story is told in Numbers 21.8-9, where God tells Moses to make a “nes,” the same word that is used in the Exodus 17 event (vs 15): “Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord is my banner (nes), saying, “A hand upon the throne of the Lord.”
By further comparing Exodus 17 and Numbers 21, we find an amazing thing. In Numbers 21 Moses lifts up the rod (nes); in Exodus 17.15 Moses declares that “the Lord is my nes.” This effectively means that God himself is on the nes. (We may compare the statement of Paul in Acts 20.28: “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with his own blood.”)
In verse 12 Moses sits on a rock. This too points to Jesus, who is the rock of our salvation, the cornerstone, the foundation of the church.
Similarly, in verse 16 Moses sees a hand lifted “on the throne of the Lord.” This hints at the atonement to come. Jesus is at the right hand of God, he is God’s right hand. He is the one who came to defeat Satan. See Psalms 20.6-7; Isaiah 52.10; and Acts 7.56; Romans 8.34, where Jesus is at God’s right hand. [DY]
Haftarah: Judges 4:4 – 5:31
“Rabbi Berechyah says in the name of Rabbi Samuel, ‘Even though things were created perfect, they were ruined by the sin of the first man, and they will not be restored until Ben Peretz (the Messiah) comes, as it is said (Ruth 4.18), complete. The restoration will happen because of six things, and they are the radiance of his life, his stature, the fruit of the land and the fruit of the tree, the radiant light of the shield, as it is said (Jdg 5.31), “those who love him are like the sun when it rises in its power.”’” (Genesis Rabbah 12.6)