There are a lot of things that take place in this week’s Torah portion. We read how the Lord God led Israel by a pillar in the shape of a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night (Shemot / Exodus 13:17-22). Pharaoh decided to pursue Israel and mustered all of his army to follow them. (Shemot / Exodus 14:1-12) The Lord God saved Israel by dividing the red sea, the people walked through the sea on dry ground, and the Egyptian army was destroyed by the waters. (Shemot / Exodus 14:13-31). Moshe then writes a song because of the victory and deliverance God had given his people. (Shemot / Exodus 15:1-21) The people enter into the wilderness and become hungry, and the Lord provides them water, manna, and meat to eat. (Shemot / Exodus 15:22-16:21) The Lord gives commands concerning the Shabbat (Shemot / Exodus 16:22-31) and then the Lord provides water from the rock in a place they named Massah and Meribah. (Shemot / Exodus 17:1-7) Lastly, Israel fights against Amalek at Rephidim. (Shemot / Exodus 17:8-16) The part of this week’s Torah portion I would like to focus upon is from Shemot / Exodus 14:13-14, where the text states the following, יג וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל-הָעָם אַל-תִּירָאוּ הִתְיַצְּבוּ וּרְאוּ אֶת-יְשׁוּעַת יְהֹוָה אֲשֶׁר-יַעֲשֶֹה לָכֶם הַיּוֹם כִּי אֲשֶׁר רְאִיתֶם אֶת-מִצְרַיִם הַיּוֹם לֹא תֹסִפוּ לִרְאֹתָם עוֹד עַד-עוֹלָם: יד יְהוָֹה יִלָּחֵם לָכֶם וְאַתֶּם תַּחֲרִשׁוּן: 14:13 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. 14:14 ‘The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.’ (NASB) What is so interesting about these verses are how Moshe responds to the people’s fear with faith and trust in the Lord God of Israel. Moshe starts saying אַל-תִּירָאוּ “do not fear” and then tells the people to simply הִתְיַצְּבוּ וּרְאוּ אֶת-יְשׁוּעַת יְהֹוָה “stand and see the salvation of the Lord.” What this means is that the people were to trust in God and do nothing and watch Him work on their behalf for His glory. Moshe makes this clear in Shemot / Exodus 14:14 saying, יְהוָֹה יִלָּחֵם לָכֶם וְאַתֶּם תַּחֲרִשׁוּן “the Lord will fight for you, and you keep silent.” This means that the people were not to complain about their situation, but to keep quiet and wait upon the Lord. Rashi interprets these verses to say the following:
Rashi on Shemot / Exodus 14:14 Part 1
יִלָּחֵם לָכֶם means He will fight on your behalf; similar is (v. 25) “For the Lord fighteth for them (להם)”; so too, (Job. 13:8) “will ye contend for God (לאל)?” and thus, too, (Genesis 24:7) “and who spoke on my behalf (לי)”, and so, too, (Judges 6:31) “Will ye plead for Baal (לבעל)?”
Rashi looks at the words יִלָּחֵם לָכֶם and interprets this as the Lord fighting on behalf of the people. Other examples are given from Job, Bereshit / Genesis, and Judges, speaking of how the Lord continued to fight for His people throughout history. Rashi’s point is one should remain silent, we are weak, powerless to contend for God, and this is paralleled to Judges 6:31 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” (NASB) What these things are teaching us are how we are to remain silent and not accuse God of our situation, as in this case they were blaming Moshe and God as being guilty of taking them out of slavery to die. Moshe is emphasizing that it is the Lord God Almighty who will fight on their behalf. It is also interesting how Or ChaChaim on Shemot / Exodus 14:14, Part 1 interprets these verses.
Or HaChaim on Shemot / Exodus 14:14 Part 1
ה׳ ילחם לכם, “G’d will fight on your behalf, etc.” Inasmuch as the reason the Israelites had been frightened had been that they saw themselves confronting celestial forces, G’d tells them that the most powerful celestial force, He Himself, will fight on their behalf. When G’d is involved personally, even a thousand celestial forces equal to the guardian angel of Egypt are nothing to be afraid of.
What is interesting about the Jewish commentary on these verses is how these verses are interpreted as Israel fighting against celestial forces. The way this is interpreted, sounds like they are discussing how Israel is fighting against spiritual forces as opposed to physical forces, it was not just the Egyptian army the God was warring against. This sounds a lot like something Paul was writing in Ephesians. If we read through Ephesians chapter 6, Paul is drawing in many Torah concepts into his teaching beginning with children obeying their parents, etc. Paul is teaching right out of the Torah according to Ephesians 6. Paul also writes according to Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 6:13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 6:14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness. (NASB) Doesn’t this sound exactly how Moshe is speaking to the people to remain faithful, and how the rabbis are interpreting the meaning of Moshe’s statements? This does appear to be what Moshe is emphasizing to the people here and the rabbis are interpreting these Scriptures in parallel fashion to what Paul is saying, that Israel is not simply warring against the Egyptian army, but also the celestial forces, as the commentary puts it, against the guardian angel of Egypt, a demonic force.
The scriptures that we are looking at for this week are from Shemot / Exodus 14:13-31.
ספר שמות פרק יד
יג וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל-הָעָם אַל-תִּירָאוּ הִתְיַצְּבוּ וּרְאוּ אֶת-יְשׁוּעַת יְהֹוָה אֲשֶׁר-יַעֲשֶֹה לָכֶם הַיּוֹם כִּי אֲשֶׁר רְאִיתֶם אֶת-מִצְרַיִם הַיּוֹם לֹא תֹסִפוּ לִרְאֹתָם עוֹד עַד-עוֹלָם: יד יְהוָֹה יִלָּחֵם לָכֶם וְאַתֶּם תַּחֲרִשׁוּן: פ [שלישי] טו וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָֹה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה מַה-תִּצְעַק אֵלָי דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי-יִשְֹרָאֵל וְיִסָּעוּ: טז וְאַתָּה הָרֵם אֶת-מַטְּךָ וּנְטֵה אֶת-יָדְךָ עַל-הַיָּם וּבְקָעֵהוּ וְיָבֹאוּ בְנֵי-יִשְֹרָאֵל בְּתוֹךְ הַיָּם בַּיַּבָּשָׁה: יז וַאֲנִי הִנְנִי מְחַזֵּק אֶת-לֵב מִצְרַיִם וְיָבֹאוּ אַחֲרֵיהֶם וְאִכָּבְדָה בְּפַרְעֹה וּבְכָל-חֵילוֹ בְּרִכְבּוֹ וּבְפָרָשָׁיו: יח וְיָדְעוּ מִצְרַיִם כִּי-אֲנִי יְהוָֹה בְּהִכָּבְדִי בְּפַרְעֹה בְּרִכְבּוֹ וּבְפָרָשָׁיו: יט וַיִּסַּע מַלְאַךְ הָאֱלֹהִים הַהֹלֵךְ לִפְנֵי מַחֲנֵה יִשְֹרָאֵל וַיֵּלֶךְ מֵאַחֲרֵיהֶם וַיִּסַּע עַמּוּד הֶעָנָן מִפְּנֵיהֶם וַיַּעֲמֹד מֵאַחֲרֵיהֶם: כ וַיָּבֹא בֵּין | מַחֲנֵה מִצְרַיִם וּבֵין מַחֲנֵה יִשְֹרָאֵל וַיְהִי הֶעָנָן וְהַחשֶׁךְ וַיָּאֶר אֶת-הַלָּיְלָה וְלֹא-קָרַב זֶה אֶל-זֶה כָּל-הַלָּיְלָה: כא וַיֵּט מֹשֶׁה אֶת-יָדוֹ עַל-הַיָּם וַיּוֹלֶךְ יְהוָֹה | אֶת-הַיָּם בְּרוּחַ קָדִים עַזָּה כָּל-הַלַּיְלָה וַיָּשֶֹם אֶת-הַיָּם לֶחָרָבָה וַיִּבָּקְעוּ הַמָּיִם: כב וַיָּבֹאוּ בְנֵי-יִשְֹרָאֵל בְּתוֹךְ הַיָּם בַּיַּבָּשָׁה וְהַמַּיִם לָהֶם חוֹמָה מִימִינָם וּמִשְּׂמֹאלָם: כג וַיִּרְדְּפוּ מִצְרַיִם וַיָּבֹאוּ אַחֲרֵיהֶם כֹּל סוּס פַּרְעֹה רִכְבּוֹ וּפָרָשָׁיו אֶל-תּוֹךְ הַיָּם: כד וַיְהִי בְּאַשְׁמֹרֶת הַבֹּקֶר וַיַּשְׁקֵף יְהוָֹה אֶל-מַחֲנֵה מִצְרַיִם בְּעַמּוּד אֵשׁ וְעָנָן וַיָּהָם אֵת מַחֲנֵה מִצְרָיִם: כה וַיָּסַר אֵת אֹפַן מַרְכְּבֹתָיו וַיְנַהֲגֵהוּ בִּכְבֵדֻת וַיֹּאמֶר מִצְרַיִם אָנוּסָה מִפְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל כִּי יְהֹוָה נִלְחָם לָהֶם בְּמִצְרָיִם: פ [רביעי] כו וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָֹה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה נְטֵה אֶת-יָדְךָ עַל-הַיָּם וְיָשֻׁבוּ הַמַּיִם עַל-מִצְרַיִם עַל-רִכְבּוֹ וְעַל-פָּרָשָׁיו: כז וַיֵּט מֹשֶׁה אֶת-יָדוֹ עַל-הַיָּם וַיָּשָׁב הַיָּם לִפְנוֹת בֹּקֶר לְאֵיתָנוֹ וּמִצְרַיִם נָסִים לִקְרָאתוֹ וַיְנַעֵר יְהוָֹה אֶת-מִצְרַיִם בְּתוֹךְ הַיָּם: כח וַיָּשֻׁבוּ הַמַּיִם וַיְכַסּוּ אֶת-הָרֶכֶב וְאֶת-הַפָּרָשִׁים לְכֹל חֵיל פַּרְעֹה הַבָּאִים אַחֲרֵיהֶם בַּיָּם לֹא-נִשְׁאַר בָּהֶם עַד-אֶחָד: כט וּבְנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל הָלְכוּ בַיַּבָּשָׁה בְּתוֹךְ הַיָּם וְהַמַּיִם לָהֶם חֹמָה מִימִינָם וּמִשְּׂמֹאלָם: ל וַיּוֹשַׁע יְהֹוָה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא אֶת-יִשְֹרָאֵל מִיַּד מִצְרָיִם וַיַּרְא יִשְֹרָאֵל אֶת-מִצְרַיִם מֵת עַל-שְֹפַת הַיָּם: לא וַיַּרְא יִשְֹרָאֵל אֶת-הַיָּד הַגְּדֹלָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָֹה יְהוָֹה בְּמִצְרַיִם וַיִּירְאוּ הָעָם אֶת-יְהוָֹה וַיַּאֲמִינוּ בַּיהֹוָה וּבְמֹשֶׁה עַבְדּוֹ:
Shemot / Exodus 14:13-31
14:13 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. 14:14 ‘The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.’ 14:15 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. 14:16 ‘As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land. 14:17 ‘As for Me, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 14:18 ‘Then the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord, when I am honored through Pharaoh, through his chariots and his horsemen.’ 14:19 The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. 14:20 So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night. 14:21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. 14:22 The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 14:23 Then the Egyptians took up the pursuit, and all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and his horsemen went in after them into the midst of the sea. 14:24 At the morning watch, the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion. 14:25 He caused their chariot wheels to swerve, and He made them drive with difficulty; so the Egyptians said, ‘Let us flee from Israel, for the Lord is fighting for them against the Egyptians.’ 14:26 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots and their horsemen.’ 14:27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing right into it; then the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 14:28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even Pharaoh’s entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained. 14:29 But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 14:30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 14:31 When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses. (NASB)
These Scriptures from Shemot / Exodus 14:13-14, יג וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל-הָעָם אַל-תִּירָאוּ הִתְיַצְּבוּ וּרְאוּ אֶת-יְשׁוּעַת יְהֹוָה אֲשֶׁר-יַעֲשֶֹה לָכֶם הַיּוֹם כִּי אֲשֶׁר רְאִיתֶם אֶת-מִצְרַיִם הַיּוֹם לֹא תֹסִפוּ לִרְאֹתָם עוֹד עַד-עוֹלָם: יד יְהוָֹה יִלָּחֵם לָכֶם וְאַתֶּם תַּחֲרִשׁוּן: 14:13 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. 14:14 ‘The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.’ (NASB) are revealing to us the attribute of Mercy that God is giving to His people. This Mercy God is showing the people is coupled to God’s judgement over Egypt. This attributed of Mercy is defined by יִלָּחֵם לָכֶם “He will fight on your behalf” because this is how God delivered His people. The Lord God was going to conduct the entire war single-handedly and so the text states, וְאַתֶּם תַּחֲרִשׁוּן “You are to keep silent.”
One example from Scripture in regards to not complaining, are taken from the example of Hezekiah according to 2 Kings 19. Here we read how Sennacherib the king of Assyria had come invaded the land and was making war against Jerusalem. Hezekiah did not complain about his position, rather, he said in 2 Kings 19:3 “This is what Hezekiah says: ‘This day is a day of distress, rebuke, and humiliation; for children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to deliver them.’” Hezekiah humbled himself stating that it is not within him the power to overcome this army. Hezekiah was making a plea to the Lord God in heaven for help recognizing his own helplessness. This is similar to when Moshe told the people that all they had to do was contribute their silence and wait upon the Mercy of God.
In addition to these things, we also note how the Justice of God was extended over all of the Egyptian army indicated according to the text in Shemot / Exodus 14:28, כח וַיָּשֻׁבוּ הַמַּיִם וַיְכַסּוּ אֶת-הָרֶכֶב וְאֶת-הַפָּרָשִׁים לְכֹל חֵיל פַּרְעֹה הַבָּאִים אַחֲרֵיהֶם בַּיָּם לֹא-נִשְׁאַר בָּהֶם עַד-אֶחָד: 14:28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, Pharaoh’s entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained. (NASB) Here not one of them survived, they all lost their lives in the sea. Rabbeinu Bahya on Shemot / Exodus 14:14 Parts 1-2 explains saying “What was true in the past will also hold true in the future after the final war of Gog and Magog of which we are told that “God goes out and battles all these nations assembled against the Jewish people” (compare Zechariah 14:3).” As we can see throughout history, The Lord God fights our battles. The Midrashic approach on the words יְהוָֹה יִלָּחֵם לָכֶם וְאַתֶּם תַּחֲרִשׁוּן “God will fight on your behalf, you be silent,” are understood as how the Lord God personally fights for us as we see here ever after He killed all the Egyptians’ firstborn they still pursue you. This is interpreted as meaning these forces were attacking God and not just His people. The words וְאַתֶּם תַּחֲרִשׁוּן make it clear that it is not our battle but the Lords. The Lord God Almighty is the one who brings salvation, deliverance, and redemption. The message being given to us is how the Lord God was miraculously delivering His people even though they were just as guilty before God as the Egyptians as having worshiped idols, etc. It is within these Torah centric principles that we find Yeshua the Messiah doing what he did according to the NT account. In Yeshua, we see the Lord God Almighty working to save our souls, to deliver us, and to redeem us, just as our Father in heaven had delivered His people here in Parashat Beshalach. We are told the Lord God sent His son to do the work that was needed on our behalf (John 3:16) by laying down his life in place of ours. This is the same principle that we are reading here in the Torah, as there is nothing we can do on our own, all that we do, all that we have is due to God dwelling in our hearts and lives, for His glory! These are the things that Yeshua meant when he said according to Luke 24:44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (NASB) The Torah text explains to us the reasons Yeshua had to come, and he did so even though we are guilty, as guilty as the Egyptians, but God has shown us great mercy! Praise His Holy Name!