Parashat B'shalah

Moses leads the Israelites into the wilderness after their escape from Egypt. God sends manna to feed them and Amalek attacks the Israelites.

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The following article is reprinted with permission from Jewish Family & Life!

An Indirect Route

Now God did not lead the Jews out of Egypt on the most direct route but took the people by way of the wilderness. God went before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire at night so they could travel day and night.

Upon leaving Egypt, Moses takes Joseph's bones with him, recalling Joseph's dying words, "God will surely remember you and then bring my bones with you to the promised land."

God told Moses to camp by the Sea of Reeds. "I will then harden Pharaoh's heart so he will try to capture you there. Then I shall assert My authority over Pharaoh and everyone will acknowledge that I am the Lord." It happened just as God predicted. Pharaoh went after the Jews with his best army.

As Pharaoh's army approached, the Israelites cried out to the Lord and Moses in fear. "Why did you bring us here to die? Let us go back to Egypt and be slaves."

"Don't be afraid." Moses answered. "Stand firm. Watch how God will deliver you."

Then God said to Moses, "When you stretch forth your hand over the sea, it will split and you shall cross safely. But with a stiffened heart, the Pharaoh's army will go in after you. They may be mighty but I will prove that I am Almighty."

The Israelites Cross The River

Then the angel of God went behind the Jewish camp while a pillar of cloud went in front of the Egyptian camp so one would not come near the other.

Moses then stretched out his hand and the Lord commanded a strong east wind to split the water. With walls of water on either side, the Israelites crossed the river on dry land.

Then when the Egyptian army raced after them, God confounded them with mud to break their chariots' wheels.

Afterwards, God told Moses to stretch out his hand again and let the water return. By morning the sea had covered Pharaoh's army so that not even one of them remained.

When the Jewish people saw what the Lord did to the Egyptians, they trusted in God and Moses as God's prophet. The Moses and the Israelites sang this song unto the Lord:

"Who is like Thee, O Lord,
Among all the gods who are worshipped?
Who is like Thee, majestic in holiness?
Awesome in splendor, working wonders!
The Lord will reign for ever and ever."

Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, with her drum in her hand led the women in song and dance. "Sing unto the Lord for God has triumphed gloriously."

Searching for Water

From the Sea of Reeds, Moses led the people into a new wilderness. For three days they could find no water and when they finally did at Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. The Jewish people cried. So God showed Moses how to cast a certain tree into the waters to make it sweet. There God proclaimed, "If you will listen Me and do what is right in God's sight, then I will not plague you as I have the Egyptians, for I am the Lord and your Healer."

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Nancy Reuben Greenfield

Nancy Reuben Greenfield has written three adaptations of the Torah, including an
interactive family version at, and an engaging
Jewish immigrant novel, The Golden Medina, available on itunes and Amazon.