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Aside from the therapeutic benefits, singing is an excellent way to remember rhetoric. The songs found throughout Scripture are essentially melodious compilations of truth. This week’s portion ends right before the highly anticipated song that G-d commanded Moses to teach the people. Nevertheless, the portion contained the functions of the song.

“Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel.” Deuteronomy 31:19

“And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give.” Deuteronomy 31:21

The previous verses demonstrate that the song was to be both a witness and a reminder. Ideally people are less likely to sin the more witnesses are present. In this week’s parasha Moses called “heaven and earth to witness against them” (Deut. 31:28) as well as the song. In addition, G-d is always a witness to every occurrence. (Heb. 4:13) The result is more than enough witnesses to convict someone of even a capital crime. The conclusion is inescapable. It is impossible for man to abscond from conviction. One would assume such opposition would be sufficient for preventing transgression, but it did not suffice nor will it ever. However, the L-rd in His abundant mercy has provided means with which His chosen people avoid the deserving eternal damnation. The King of the Universe “sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 Jn. 4:10) The following excerpt from the “Song at the Sea” concisely reveals the same truth.

“The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” Exodus 15:2

G-d is, indeed, our song (in the case of this week’s portion a “witness” and “reminder”) and also our salvation. Praises and exaltation far beyond any human capacity are due to our gracious King. After singing the song of Moses, also include the song of the Lamb.

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” Revelation 15:3-4


In this week’s portion a great mystery is present.

“No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord. No one born of a forbidden union may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord. No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the Lord forever,” Deuteronomy 23:1-3

Why are groups of people mentioned who would, by default, not enter the assembly of G-d? Have we all not fallen short? Aren’t we all, by default, unable to enter the assembly of G-d? Could this mean, by implication, that there are some who do enter the assembly of G-d by default? The correct reconciliation of this possible contradiction escapes my level of knowledge. If you have or have heard a biblical explanation of Deuteronomy 23 please post in the comment below. One thing we do know is that the previous passage cannot be referring to an impossibility of these unique (pun intended), condemned people from being eternally saved. Look at the following passages:

“For thus says the LORD: ‘To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant–’” Isaiah 56:4-6

“But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.’” Ruth 1:16

In addition, remember Judah and Tamar! According to Levitcus 18:15 it is a forbidden union to uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law. Judah’s son Perez is a descent of Messiah Yeshua! (Matt. 1:3)

I am certainly not qualified to give a definitive answer on such a major issue. However, I was fascinated after reading the passage containing those who may not enter the assembly of the L-rd because we have studied examples of when those people do enter the assembly of L-rd! Perhaps this week’s portion contains yet another marvelous example of G-d’s abundant grace. Even though it is just and appropriate to condemn these groups, still G-d has mercy. Even though we are deserving of G-d’s wrath He has shown mercy and saved us. That is incredible and beyond understanding.

“I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!” Psalm 40:9-11

Moses often reminded Israel of the two consequences of actions: blessing for obedience and curses for disobedience. Moses could not have been more straightforward yet to this very day people seek biased justification and over-spiritualization to forsake all responsibility of true obedience. Unfortunately those people are too preoccupied avoiding legalism that they miss the amazing correlation between obedience and salvation. Here in this week’s portion, amidst the Moses’ supplications, was a verse that demonstrated the aforementioned correlation.

The first verse in this week’s portion framed the proceeding declarations in the portion.

“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse:” Deuteronomy 11:26

Look closely at this specific declaration:

“And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, you shall set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal.” Deuteronomy 11:29

It is intriguing that the blessing and the curse were set on two different mountains. Natural curiosity leads to a desire to research the definitions of each mountain. Take a look:

  • Gerizim = cuttings off
  • Ebal = stone or bare mountain

The mountains represented a visual manifestation of consequences for obedience or disobedience.   Deuteronomy 11 described the desolation and bare land that would result from disobedience.

“Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the LORD is giving you.” Deuteronomy 11:16-17

And Leviticus 11 recounted the incredible result of being one of G-d’s people.

“I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.” Leviticus 11:45

First, G-d saved the Children of Israel from Egypt to make a covenant then G-d commanded the people to be set apart. How can one be holy? Through obedience to G-d (Num. 15:40) and obedience comes with blessing. (Deut. 7:11-16; 30:16) Gerizim is the plural form of the verb garaz which means to cut, to cut off, or to separate, a definition that is similar to “holy” (kodesh) which means to separate and to “covenant” (beriyt) which comes from the root bara (to cut). Therefore those who obey, and receive the blessing that was set on Mount Gerizim, do so because of the covenant with G-d that called them to be separate from the world, destined for holiness. This covenant is not only physical through obedience to the commandment of circumcision but it is also spiritual through Messiah Yeshua Who gives a new heart. Deuteronomy 30 summarized the Good News and demonstrated what should be the desired distribution of blessings and curses that were set on the two mountains.

“And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.  And the Lord your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you.” Deuteronomy 30:6-7

Messiah Yeshua is the mediator of the New Covenant which enables faithful obedience. He has separated a remnant, cut a covenant with them, and leads them toward holiness. Baruch HaShem for His love and grace that counts us as part of that remnant! Baruch HaShem for His loving and gracious commandments that draw us closer to Him and bring such immense blessing!

A lesson in the importance of context is contained in this week’s parasha. At first glance it is easy to read the following two verses and claim the discovery of a contradiction.

“The LORD your God will clear away these nations before you little by little. You may not make an end of them at once, lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you.” Deuteronomy 7:22

“Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the LORD your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the LORD has promised you.” Deuteronomy 9:3

The parallel passage of Deuteronomy 7:22 is Exodus 23:29-30. Although note verse 28 of Exodus 23:

“And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you.” Exodus 23:28

Clearly the “nations” described in Deuteronomy 7:22 and Exodus 23:29-30 were the inhabitants of the Promise Land. On the other hand, Deuteronomy 9:3 was describing a present commandment revealed by the use of “today” (ha’yom). Also, note verse 2 of Deuteronomy 9:

“a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you have heard it said, ‘Who can stand before the sons of Anak?’” Deuteronomy 9:2

Clearly the “them” described in Deuteronomy 9:3 were the Anakim who stuck fear in the heart of the spies. Therefore both verses in this week’s parasha were true and both were accomplished. The inhabitants of the land needed to be removed while the Children of Israel simultaneously increased. However, when the time arrived to destroy the Anakim it had to be accomplished swiftly.

Both verses also contain important life principals. In regard to commandments we must be swift to obey and not delay! (Ps. 119:10) Though we must remember we can neither attain perfection nor holiness overnight. Once G-d saves us through Yeshua we must work out our salvation each day. (Phil. 2:12) Remember “..that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deut. 8:3) Yeshua used this verse to combat the temptation to turn stones into bread as suggested by Satan. (Matt. 4:4) This is an excellent reminder that we do not live by the produce of our own hands but by the will of our King, the Holy One, Blessed is He. Hallelujah!

This week’s parasha provides an additional parallel between Moses and Yeshua. During the many warnings against idolatry and the reminders of G-d’s Justice Moses stated the following:

“When you father children and children’s children, and have grown old in the land, if you act corruptly by making a carved image in the form of anything, and by doing what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, so as to provoke him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will soon utterly perish from the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess. You will not live long in it, but will be utterly destroyed.” Deuteronomy 4:25-26

Moses would call heaven and earth to witness against the idolater. This truth helps explain a passage found in Hebrews!

“Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.” Hebrews 10:28

Two or three witnesses are required by the Torah to administer a sentence of capital punishment and/or establish a charge.  (Num. 35:30, Deu. 17:6, Deu. 19:15) In Deuteronomy 4 the word for “witness” in Hebrew is (ha’idoti) הַעִידֹתִי (the root word is ud עוּד) which is a verb that literally means to testify, give warning, or to return. In Numbers 35 the word for “witness” is (ed) עֵד which is contracted from the same root (ud)עוּד and describes the noun “witness.” It is very interesting that the particular word used for the “witnessing” of heaven and earth can also mean warning or return. Perhaps this describes one of the purposes of having witnesses that are always around! First they serve as a warning to return to the ways of G-d then they become a condemning witness. It is impossible to escape both heaven and earth just as it is impossible to dwell somewhere G-d is not, for He is everywhere.

Moses stated that he would “call” heaven and earth to “witness.” Both words are the same and they are combined in Deuteronomy 4. Therefore it was as if Moses was including himself in the witnessing. If so, then that would be a total of three witnesses. Now, according to Scripture Moses shared many characteristics with Messiah Yeshua. (Heb. 3:2,5; Deu. 18:15; Jn. 5:46-47) One of the most important parallels to firmly grasp is that Moses wrote of Messiah Yeshua. (Jn. 5:46-47) Also, Moses wrote the law that G-d spoke to him. (Deu. 31:9) It is the law that condemns and it is Messiah Yeshua that saves but both were revealed by G-d written by Moses. That is why setting aside the law is a capital crime lacking mercy because it is also setting aside or rejecting Messiah Yeshua. The same witnesses adjudicate for both sins.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” John 5:39-40

May this never describe us. May we never separate Yeshua from His law. And may both be on our lips at all times.

It is fascinating to read footnotes such as the following: “The meaning of Azazel is uncertain; possibly the name of a place or a demon, traditionally a scapegoat; also verses 10, 26.” Uncertain? Mystery impetrates curiosity. Well, what do the Sages suggest?

1“Ibn Ezra and Naḥmanides both interpret Azazel as the name of the goat and this view is also found in the Talmud: “The school of Rabbi Ishmael explained it is called Azazel because it atones for the acts of the fallen *angels *Uzza and Azael” (Yoma 67b, cf. Targ. Jon., Gen. 6:1; Deut. R. 11:10).”

2“According to the sages and Rashi it meant “a steep, rocky or hard place,” in other words a description of its destination. According to Ibn Ezra (cryptically) and Nahmanides (explicitly), Azazel was the name of a spirit or demon, one of the fallen angels referred to in Genesis 6:2, similar to the goat-spirit called Pan in Greek mythology, Faunus in Latin. The third interpretation is that the word simply means “the goat [ez] that was sent away [azal].” Hence the English word “(e)scapegoat” coined by William Tyndale in his 1530 English translation of the Bible.”

Regardless of which interpretation suits your preference the Bible deliberately provides no explanation. During the service in which the goat for azazel is used an additional verse incited my curiosity.

“And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.” Leviticus 16:21

The last phrase is particularly puzzling. “By the hand of a man who is in readiness.” Further more the word for “readiness” in Hebrew is itti (עִתִּי) and this is the only time it is used in the whole Tanach. Here, I believe is a parallel to Yeshua. All of the people’s sins were affixed to the goat which meant there was need to expel the goat and thereby remove the sin. One of the most significant responsibilities rested on the man willing to contaminate himself to send the goat away into the wilderness. This action was the final step in removal of sin. Our Messiah Yeshua was also willing to bear the sin of the world, contaminate himself, and become the final step in removal of sin. He was a man who was in readiness. Gesenius’s lexicon suggests “opportune, at hand” as a suitable translation for itti. The following verse occurred right before Yeshua’s capture and contains Yeshua’s declaration that His time was at hand.

He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, “The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.”’ Matthew 26:18

To follow the previous rumination and conclude with an additional parallel to Yeshua the following verse demonstrates why Yeshua had to suffer and die for our sins.

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.” Leviticus 17:11

Ultimately it is the life that substantiates the blood to be sufficient for atonement. The animals that were sacrificed to atone for ritual impurity must die for the blood to function. Messiah Yeshua died for us so that by His life His blood would provide atonement. He taught His disciples this truth:

“for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.’” Mark 9:31

For such incredible grace and such humble sacrifice we should have His salvation on our lips daily. (1 Chr. 16:23) Praise the L-RD that this was His will that we might be saved!

“Yet it was the will of the L-RD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the L-RD shall prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53:10



One of the many biblical topics that has caused controversy and division is the concept of a covenant. I lack the time and wisdom to conclusively state the correct interpretations of the many mentions of covenants throughout the Bible but I would like to share a trend. The following verse is from this week’s portion:

 “And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant that the L-RD has made with you in accordance with all these words.’” Exodus 24:8

The trend I see throughout scripture is consistent with Hebrews 9 which speaks scrupulously about blood and its connection to covenants. The trend is that almost every covenant between G-d and man requires blood. This may be obvious to you and if so please ignore my intentional attempts to incite suspense. With Noah, many wicked died (blood) before the covenant was made. (Gen. 7:23) With Abraham, the sign of the covenant was circumcision (blood). (Gen. 17:11) Now with Moses, the sign is the blood of the offering and the Torah. If this is the trend then why would we expect the New Covenant to be any different? As it says in Hebrews 9:

“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9:22

Yeshua’s sacrifice was required to establish the New Covenant and secure our eternal redemption.  In the Torah the covenantal pattern is arranged and later in Jeremiah 31 the revelation of the New Covenant is detailed. Also, the Apostolic Scriptures expound upon the New Covenant and Yeshua’s involvement. Most error in regard to covenants originates from the attempt to define the biblical concept through one section or even a couple verses of Scripture. Without considering the whole Bible it is difficult to understand numerous aspects of Scripture including covenants. There are many other covenants and details to study but my intention is to equip you with a response to those who doubt the necessity for the blood of Messiah.

Speaking of doubts, I once heard someone say that the only concept in the Apostolic Scriptures they could not find in the Talmud or the Torah was “Love your enemies.”

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:27-28

I had never thought to research this statement until this individual mentioned this apparent inconsistency. Since then I have been on the lookout for a clear reference to loving our enemies somewhere in the Torah. In this week’s portion I believe there is a straightforward verse that is consistent with Yeshua’s words.

“If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.”  Exodus 23:5

It is commanded to help one who hates us! What does the L-RD command in Leviticus 19:18? Love our neighbor as ourselves. If our donkey had collapsed and we were striving for punctuality we certainly would not turn down a helpful hand even if it was someone we hated. So helping our neighbor as we would want to be helped is an act of love. Who is an enemy? Someone who hates us or seeks our destruction! Exodus 23 records a loving commandment to help rescue our enemies’ donkey and in so doing we are demonstrating love for our enemy.  We can rapidly dissipate ill feelings towards us by behaving sincerely with kindness and love. This is not easy but it is what G-d requires. Do you know of other references in the Tanach that implore us to love our enemies?

In conclusion, I have managed to distance myself from dissertating on the ambiguous topic of politics. The politics of today offer little benefit for selecting a candidate. Our own individual research is necessary. However, I can no longer resist because, right here in Parasha Mishpatim, there is a convicting commandment that is often disregarded.

 “You shall not revile G-d, nor curse a ruler of your people.”  Exodus 22:28

The Hebrew word for “ruler” in this verse is nasiy which means “one lifted up, chief, prince, captain, leader.” There is no question about whom this refers. The verse refers to our Commander and Chief and the fact that this commandment is juxtaposed with “you shall not revile G-d” further stresses the significance. Context reveals there are no exceptions or stipulations for this commandment. It is simply unacceptable and disobedient to curse our ruler. Practically speaking I believe Scripture is clear about praying for our leaders (1Tim. 2:1-3), voting for a man of knowledge and understanding (Prov. 28:2), and strengthening our community (Rom. 12:4-8). If, despite our efforts, a poor leader still manages to be elected then we should be even more mindful of the commandment not to curse him. In our society today, cursing, slander, judgment, and gossip have become commonplace and this is especially true for a public figure. Our duty is difficult but we must resist participating in any form of cursing toward our President. He is our leader and we will gain more if we treat him with respect. (Rom. 13:3)

By now we realize that names are significant for a variety of reasons. The prophetic characteristic of a name is one reason that is demonstrated beautifully in the opening verses of this week’s portion.

“Now Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had taken Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her home, along with her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (for he said, ‘I have been a sojourner in a foreign land’), and the name of the other, Eliezer (for he said, ‘The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh’).” Exodus 18:2-4

If you recall Exodus 2, Gershom is the only son mentioned yet two chapters’ later Scripture mentions Moses’ “sons.” (Ex. 4:20) Referring back to the verse in this week’s portion the intention for delaying the revelation of Eliezer’s name appears clear. At the time, the children of Israel only understood the oppression and the aberrancy of dwelling in a foreign land. Now, they are no longer enslaved and the source of deliverance is reiterated through the mention of Eliezer.

On a more practical note, I marveled at the simple conversation between Jethro and Moses and plan to use it as an example of the proper conversational sequence.

“Then Moses told his father-in-law all that the L-RD had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had come upon them in the way, and how the L-RD had delivered them.” Exodus 18:8

The sequence is as follows: Speak of the blessings and the mighty acts of G-d, then mention the challenges you have faced, and finally share how G-d has enabled you to overcome those challenges. Begin and end with praising L-RD. The same sequence is practiced when we eat. We bless G-d before and after. It is certainly no coincidence that both activities involve our mouth. If you have had the opportunity to read the ruminations of the Chofetz Chaim and/or the book of Proverbs you will begin to grasp the vacillating tendency of our mouth and the devastating punishments for misuse. Moses and Jethro’s conversation was important and it sets a high standard for our daily communication. The habitual practice of blessing G-d in each new conversation greatly reduces the opportunity to sin with our mouths.

In conclusion, this portion contains many manifestations of G-d’s awesome power. Not the least of which was the “sound of the trumpet” that “the people saw and trembled.” (Ex.20:18) That must have been frightening. There is also an amazing example of grace within one of the demonstrations of power.

“The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where G-d was.” Exodus 20:21

The word for darkness here is ha’araphel. Not only is this the first usage of this word for darkness but there is a couple other verses that mention the same darkness surrounding G-d. (1 Ki. 8:12, Ps. 97:2) 1 John 1:5 says that “G-d is light” and the previous verses describe the darkness as being around Him. Therefore it was a merciful act of a loving G-d to conceal Himself in a thick darkness so that the people were not immediately killed or blinded. The scene that unfolded in front of the people was magnificent, but it was just enough a human could endure to sear the vivid sight on the minds of every witness. For this reason G-d mercifully allowed Himself to be enshrouded by the cloud so that all would know that He is G-d and there is none other. His mercy with the children of Israel at Sinai reflects His mercy with those He has eternally chosen. Every single one of us deserve His wrath and destruction (Eph. 2:3) but by His unfathomable mercy He came, a little lower than the angels (Heb. 2:7), clothed in human form, and saved us. (Mt. 1:20-21) The final act of redemption will be even more glorious than the act at Mount Sinai and just as we have not forgotten the exodus we will never forget His eternal salvation. (Ps. 40:16)

Here we see an amazing fulfillment of prophecy. Through Moses, G-d leads the children of Israel out of Egypt and they take with them Joseph’s bones just as Joseph requests in Genesis 50:25. The interesting part is the language used. We know that Joseph’s body was not simply laid in a cave and left to naturally decay. His body was embalmed and placed in a coffin. (Gen. 50:26) So why would Joseph use the word bones instead of body? Bones, of course, is simply another word to describe a dead person but it is also a reminder that a body without the spirit is a heap of bones.

“Thus says the L-rd G-D to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.”  Ezekiel 37:5

Despite the process of embalming, mummifying, or any other postmortem preservation the body is nothing but bones without the breath of life. You may ask, “Then what was the point of taking the bones? They were useless.” Indeed, they were useless but Joseph was taught that we are commanded to bury the dead (Deut. 21:23) and that the burial site is significant. (Gen. 23:4, 49:31, 50:13) Joseph desired to be taken out of Egypt and to receive a permanent and biblical burial. By the grace of HaShem Joseph’s request was fulfilled.

“As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt, they buried them at Shechem, in the piece of land that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money. It became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph.” Joshua 24:32

“By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.” Hebrews 11:22

I believe an addition lesson encapsulated in the text is the significance of a reputation. Our bodies do not last, but our reputation endures. Joseph had a reputation for being a man of G-d and a son of Israel. Being buried in a pagan land amongst a pagan people, whom G-d judged, would have diminished this reputation. Have we wisely prepared for the future? Have we evaluated our associations? We too, should conduct ourselves accordingly and ensure that our reputation glorifies G-d even after our death. Our lives are not our own.

This week we see a most brutal (yet deserving) exacting of punishment. HaShem not only preserves Israel but utterly destroys the Egyptian army. All of them.

“The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.” Exodus 14:9

Examples of Pharaoh’s selfishness and arrogance are littered throughout the book of Exodus. In this portion, Pharaoh launches his whole army against Israel, but Pharaoh himself is not mentioned when they pursue into the sea.

“The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.” Exodus 14:23

I do not believe that Pharaoh drown with the rest of the Egyptians. I believe Pharaoh’s cowardice spared him but he was forced to watch as his entire army, his protection, was decimated. He was the only one left standing which meant he was the only one to blame. HaShem punished Pharaoh according to his filthy sin of pride. By giving Pharaoh his desire (his life) He took from him what he needed. (security, safety) For those of us who read the Proverbs this should come as no surprise.

 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

In conclusion, this year I was struck by a wonderful verse in this week’s portion that paints a picture of a beautiful place and also symbolized Israel.

“Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water.” Exodus 15:27

Elim must have been a beautiful oasis in the midst of the wilderness! Plenty of fresh water, shade, and the sweet smell of palm trees surrounded the entire encampment. In addition, this verse symbolizes the ideal Israel. The twelve springs of water feed one large body of water just as twelve tribes of Israel encompasses G-d’s chosen people.  One nation, following one G-d. (Ez. 37:22) Also, the seventy palm trees are a canopy that cover those beneath just like seventy righteous men (Num.11:16) who protect and represent the people. G-d’s design is to have a united nation, serving Him, within the structure described in the Bible. May it be so soon and in our days.

Come quickly L-rd Yeshua!

Throughout Scripture an east wind represents destruction and demonstration of power. It is an east wind in this week’s parasha that brings the locust swarm, it is an east wind that drove the sea back in next week’s parasha, and it is the power of the east wind that Ephraim will seek.

“So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the L-RD brought an east wind upon the land all that day and all that night. When it was morning, the east wind had brought the locusts.”  Exodus 10:13

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the L-RD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.” Exodus 14:21

“Ephraim feeds on the wind and pursues the east wind all day long; they multiply falsehood and violence; they make a covenant with Assyria, and oil is carried to Egypt.” Hosea 12:1

However, the plague is removed by a “very strong west wind.” In Exodus 10:19, the Hebrew word for “west” is yam and it is also the Hebrew word for “sea” in this verse. There are several other verses that use yam to describe west which is understandable because a sea, valley, or mountain was a helpful landmark to describe direction and location. Another Hebrew word for west is ma`arav. This word is only used 14 times in the Tanach and it is used to describe more of the general direction west. Nevertheless, the word yam is used to describe the wind in Exodus 10:19. Basically the yam wind drove the locusts into the yam. Isn’t Hebrew such a vivid and picturesque language? We would know that locusts were pushed toward the sea without even having the latter half of the verse! It is also intriguing that the locusts are destroyed in the Red Sea which is the same fate of the Egyptians. This is ironic too because Pharaoh describes the swarm as “death” in Exodus 10:17.

This parasha gives a detailed description of the pesach lamb and the activities carried out during the festival. There are two different words used to describe a sheep or lamb in this portion. The first is the word seh and the other is the word keves. The latter is used more often but seh is special. Seh is used to correlate the Messianic references in the binding of Isaac and the pesach lamb.

“Your lamb (seh) shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep (keves) or from the goats,” Exodus 12:5

“Abraham said, ‘G-d will provide for himself the lamb (seh) for a burnt offering, my son.’ So they went both of them together.” Genesis 22:8

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb (seh) that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7

Not only is this evidence of Yeshua in the Torah but these verses reveal the Messianic significance of physical salvation. We should not forget that we are literally commanded to remember the exodus from Egypt. Even David says that he will speak of G-d’s salvation all the day. (Ps. 71:15) Each example of physical and national salvation in the Torah is very important and it should remind us of our eternal salvation. Our prayers should be reiterations of these miraculous examples. Our sharing of the Gospel should never lack these descriptions. With this knowledge our observance of Pesach should become a harmonious blend of remembrance and hope. Remembering G-d’s mighty act of salvation and looking forward to the awe-inspiring return of His Son. In Matthew 25:32, Yeshua is described as the Shepherd who will separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep are His people and the goats are the wicked. Similarly, this week’s parasha describes G-d separating His people from the land of Egypt. Through Moses, G-d separated His people from Egpyt and through the Prophet like Moses G-d will separate His people from the decaying world. What a gracious and mighty G-d we serve!

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