Posts Tagged ‘bitter water’

Parashah 51: Nitzavim (Standing)

Deuteronomy 29:10-30:20
(In a regular year, read with Parashah 52; in a leap year read separately.)

“Today you are standing, all of you, before Adonai your God — your heads, your tribes, your leaders and your officers — all the men of Isra’el, along with your little ones, your wives and your foreigners here with you in your camp, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water” (Deuteronomy 29:9-10).

Nitzavim is the Hebrew word for ‘ones standing’ as the Israelites prepare to enter the Promised Land.  They are the ‘ones left standing’ after the previous generation could not ‘stand’ due to their faithlessness. The Hebrew word for ‘stand’ is natzab and means ‘pillar’ or ‘garrison.’ The Israelites standing at the entrance to the Promised Land are the troops stationed to defend and guard the Land that Elohim will put in their possession.

As the Israelites stand before Adonai from the least of them to the greatest, the leaders, the children, and those who chop wood and draw water are reminded why they are in the presence of Adonai: to enter into a covenant, the covenant promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

“But I am not making this covenant and this oath only with you.  Rather, I am making it both with him who is standing here with us today before Adonai our God and also with him who is not here with us today” (Deuteronomy 29:14-15).

The covenant that Elohim made with the nation of Isra’el was not just for those standing in His presence, but for those in the future who were children of promise to Abraham and would join with Isra’el through adoption or ingrafting.

“Be assured, then, that it is those who live by trusting and being faithful who are really children of Avraham” (Galatians 3:7).

“And the foreigners who join themselves to Adonai to serve him, to love the name of Adonai, and to be his workers, all who keep Shabbat and do not profane it, and hold fast to my covenant, I will bring them to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Isaiah 56:6-7).

Wormwood

“So let there not be among you a man, woman, family or tribe whose heart turns away today from Adonai our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Let there not be among you a root bearing such bitter poison and wormwood. If there is such a person, when he hears the words of this curse, he will bless himself secretly, saying to himself, ‘I will be all right, even though I will stubbornly keep doing whatever I feel like doing; so that I, although ‘dry’ [sinful], will be added to the ‘watered’ [righteous].’ But Adonai will not forgive him. Rather, the anger and jealousy of Adonai will blaze up against that person. Every curse written in this book will be upon him. Adonai will blot out his name from under heaven” (Deuteronomy 29:18-20).

There are three types of wormwood herbs. Artemesia herba-alba which smells like camphor and is extremely bitter. Artemesia absinthium, a perennial herb with silky leaves that has small yellow flowers. The oil from the herb is dark and bitter and is used to make absinthe. Artemisia judaica is a bitter aromatic herb with clusters of small greenish yellow flowers and greenish gray leaves that grows in arid desert areas. Wormwood is used for medicinal purposes: as a tonic for stimulating sweating for a fever, liver disease, worms, and gall bladder issues. Wormwood is also called ‘gall’ in Scripture as when Yeshua was given wine mixed with gall. It was bitter and he refused to drink it (Matthew 27:34).

The danger of turning away from Adonai and serving other gods is to drink the bitter poison of wormwood that results in self-deception.  As a person turns away from Elohim, they secretly bless themselves believing that though they are sinning, they are still righteous. The consequence of living in this deception results in Adonai’s jealousy and anger, and He will blot those names out of His book.

“Don’t deceive yourselves by only hearing what the Word says, but do it!” (James 1:22) 

The Israelites are not the only people guilty of self-deception. With numerous man-made traditions combined with pagan god worship infiltrating the church over the centuries, many who are presented with the ‘other gods’ rooted in their celebrations stubbornly keep doing what they have convinced themselves is right.   Though they willfully sin and are ‘dry’ against obeying the Word, they believe they are ‘watered’ because of their faith in Yeshua.  Allowing self-deception to govern our lives is essentially blaspheming the Ruach haKodesh. There is no forgiveness for that sin (Mark 3:28-30).

“The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter” (Revelation 8:11, NIV).

Expelled from the Land

Generations will follow this Israelite generation that enters the Land, and along with foreigners, they will ask why the Land has become sick with plagues and is like Sodom and Gomorrah.  They will wonder why ‘I Am’ became so angry with Isra’el.

“It’s because they abandoned the covenant of Adonai, the God of their fathers. They went and served other gods, prostrating themselves before them, gods they had not known and which he had not assigned them.  For this reason, the anger of Adonai blazed up against this land and brought upon it every curse written in this book; and Adonai, in anger, fury and incensed with indignation, uprooted them from their land and threw them out into another land — as it is today” (Deuteronomy 29:25-27).

‘As it is today,’ Isra’el is returning to the Land from every nation in the world.   Though they are not living in obedience to Torah as they should, Elohim is gathering His people. After 1700 years of allowing Christian theology to flourish, He is restoring the message of the first-century church to the Jewish people. For nearly 80 years, Jews have been returning to their homeland or making aliyah. Messianic Jews, the remnant who trust in Yeshua, are also in the Land shining his light of salvation.

“It’s the same way in the present age: there is a remnant, chosen by grace” (Romans 11:5).

“On that day the remnant of Isra’el, those of the house of Ya‘akov who escaped, will no longer rely on the man who struck them down, but will truly rely on Adonai, the Holy One of Isra’el. A remnant will return, the remnant of Ya’akov, to the mighty God. For, although your people, Isra’el, are like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return” (Isaiah 10:20-22).

On the Feast of Tabernacles, the fullness of the ingathering of Isra’el will soon occur.  When that day comes, many Jews will make teshuvah or return to the covenant of Adonai. They will obey Adonai with all their hearts, minds and souls. In that day, their exile to the nations will end, and Adonai will show them mercy.

“It is that stoniness, to a degree, has come upon Isra’el, until the Gentile world enters in its fullness; and that it is in this way that all Isra’el will be saved. As the Tanakh says, ‘Out of Tziyon will come the Redeemer; he will turn away ungodliness from Ya’akov and this will be my covenant with them, …when I take away their sins” (Romans 11:25-27).

The Hebrew word for ‘mercy’ is rachamim and means ‘compassion and tender mercies.’ It comes from the root rechem which means ‘womb.’  ‘Mercy’ means to love as one loves an unborn child. When Isra’el is ‘reborn’ and comes out of the ‘womb,’ Adonai will end the global exile of His people.  The reverse of exile has begun as Jewish people are being birthed from the spiritual womb and acknowledging Yeshua as their Messiah.

“When the time arrives … you will return to Adonai your God and pay attention to what he has said, which will be exactly what I am ordering you to do today – you and your children, with all your heart and all your being…. God will reverse your exile and show you mercy; he will return and gather you from all the peoples to which Adonai your God has scattered you…. Adonai your God will bring you back into the land your ancestors possessed, and you will possess it; he will make you prosper there, and you will become even more numerous than your ancestors.  Then Adonai your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your children, so that you will love Adonai your God with all your heart and all your being, and thus you will live” (Deuteronomy 30:1-6).

Hebrew Word Pictures
Repentance or teshuvah – תשובה – tav, shin, vav, bet, hey
– covenant sign destroys the binding of the house, behold

Compassion or rachamim – רחמים – resh, chet, mem, yod, mem
– highest authority protects mighty, the mighty finished work

Womb or rechem – רחם – resh, chet, mem
– highest authority protects mightily

“For this mitzvah which I am giving you today is not too hard for you, it is not beyond your reach.  It isn’t in the sky, so that you need to ask, ‘Who will go up into the sky for us, bring it to us and make us hear it, so that we can obey it?’  Likewise, it isn’t beyond the sea, so that you need to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea for us, bring it to us and make us hear it, so that we can obey it?’  On the contrary, the word is very close to you — in your mouth, even in your heart; therefore, you can do it!” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)

According to Adonai, obeying His commands is not difficult even for those who do not have circumcised hearts. His commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). His mitzvot are not far away in the heavens or beyond the seas that the Israelites need someone to bring His words to them. They are with them, in their mouths, and even in their hearts!

Part of the promised new covenant is “no longer will any of them teach his fellow community member or his brother, ‘Know Adonai’; for all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest” (Jeremiah 31:34). The knowledge and understanding of Adonai and His instructions will be known by everyone because He will put them in everyone from the least to the greatest.

“I call on heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have presented you with life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore, choose life, so that you will live, you and your descendants, loving Adonai your God, paying attention to what he says and clinging to him – for that is the purpose of your life!” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Adonai calls on His two witnesses, the heaven and earth, to witness against Isra’el. He presents the Israelites (and us) with a choice between life and death, but in His mercy and favor, He tells them which to choose: LIFE! He doesn’t leave them in the dark eternally wandering in the wilderness, He gives them instructions for life in the Promised Land, for life in His eternal Kingdom.

“So Yeshua said to the Twelve, ‘Don’t you want to leave too?’ Shim‘on Kefa answered him, ‘Lord, to whom would we go? You have the word of eternal life. We have trusted, and we know that you are the Holy One of God’” (John 6:67-68).

The ‘final conclusion’ for our life is to love Adonai, pay attention to His Word, and cling to Him through every sorrow and joy, weakness and strength, provision and loss, restoration and hope. There is an answer for everyone who has ever asked, “Why am I here?”

“Human being, you have already been told what is good, what Adonai demands of you — no more than to act justly, love grace and walk in purity with your God” (Micah 6:8).

“Here is the final conclusion, now that you have heard everything: fear God, and keep his mitzvot; this is what being human is all about” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Yeshua’s Prays for His Talmidim

“Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, so that the Son may glorify you — just as you gave him authority over all mankind, so that he might give eternal life to all those whom you have given him. And eternal life is this: to know you, the one true God, and him whom you sent, Yeshua the Messiah.”

“I glorified you on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, glorify me alongside yourself. Give me the same glory I had with you before the world existed.”

“I made your name known to the people you gave me out of the world. They were yours, you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you, because the words you gave me I have given to them, and they have received them. They have really come to know that I came from you, and they have come to trust that you sent me.”

“I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given to me, because they are yours. Indeed, all I have is yours, and all you have is mine, and in them I have been glorified. Now I am no longer in the world. They are in the world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, guard them by the power of your name, which you have given to me, so that they may be one, just as we are. When I was with them, I guarded them by the power of your name, which you have given to me; yes, I kept watch over them; and not one of them was destroyed (except the one meant for destruction, so that the Tanakh might be fulfilled). But now, I am coming to you; and I say these things while I am still in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.”

“I have given them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world — just as I myself do not belong to the world. I don’t ask you to take them out of the world, but to protect them from the Evil One. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Set them apart for holiness by means of the truth — your word is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. On their behalf I am setting myself apart for holiness, so that they too may be set apart for holiness by means of the truth.”

“I pray not only for these, but also for those who will trust in me because of their word, that they may all be one. Just as you, Father, are united with me and I with you, I pray that they may be united with us, so that the world may believe that you sent me. The glory which you have given to me, I have given to them; so that they may be one, just as we are one — I united with them and you with me, so that they may be completely one, and the world thus realize that you sent me, and that you have loved them just as you have loved me.”

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am; so that they may see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you, and these people have known that you sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will continue to make it known; so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I myself may be united with them” (John 17).

©2018 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this Torah portion, the weekly readings of the Prophets and New Testament, Study Helps, and springboard for midrash, please purchase Open My Eyes: Wonders of Torah.

Parashah 16: B’shallach (After he had let go)

Exodus 13:17-17:16

“After Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not guide them to the highway that goes through the land of the P’lishtim, because it was close by …” (Exodus 13:17).

Pharaoh allowed the Hebrews to leave Egypt, but their journey had only just begun. Though they were fully armed from plundering the Egyptians, Elohim didn’t want them to become fearful and return to Egypt if the Philistines attacked. He led them on a route by the Yam Suf or the Red Sea. They traveled from Sukkoth to Etam at the edge of the desert.  Sukkoth is the same place where Jacob stayed after he met with Esau and put up ‘temporary shelters’ for himself, his family, and their livestock. As Joseph requested before he died, Moshe had his bones to be taken to the Promised Land.

The Cloud and Fire

“He spread out a cloud as a covering, and a fire to give light at night. They asked, and he brought them quail; he fed them well with the bread of heaven.  He opened the Rock, and water gushed out; it flowed like a river in the desert” (Psalm 105:39-41).

Adonai went ahead of His people in a cloud during the day and in a column of fire through the night, enabling them to travel both day and night.  The cloud shaded them from the desert sun and the fire kept them warm when the desert temperatures dropped. Neither the cloud nor the fire moved from in front of the people.

They set up camp in front of Pi Hahiroth between Migdol and the Red Sea, in front of Ba’al Tz’fon.  Elohim had them set up camp in this precarious place because it would make them appear as if they had lost their way and wandered aimlessly.

Pi Hahiroth means ‘mouth of water’ and faced Mount Tiran.  It is located at the point of the Sinai Peninsula on the Red Sea.   Ba’al Tz’fon means ‘lord of the north’ and was located on Mount Tiran, north of Pi Hahiroth.    Migdol means ‘watchtower’ and was centered between Pi Hahiroth and Ba’al Tz’fon close to the Red Sea. 

Pharaoh comes out of shock from the death of his son and remembers his slaves were set free and his cities are no longer being built. He hears the Hebrews are lost in the desert and Adonai hardens Pharaoh’s heart for the last time so that He would win glory to Himself at the expense of Pharaoh and his entire army.  He wanted the Hebrews to finally realize that He is Adonai Elohim.

Pharaoh prepares 600 chariots along with their commanders.  Adonai made Pharaoh so hard-hearted that he pursues the Hebrews with ‘a high hand.’ Some translations use the words ‘confidently,’ ‘proudly’ or ‘deliberately with assurance’ for ‘a high hand.’ The Hebrew words b’yad ramah suggest rebellion against authority. B’yad ramah is used in 1 Kings 11:26 to describe how Jeroboam rebelled against his father, King Solomon. 

The Egyptians chase after the Hebrews with their horses and chariots, their cavalry and army and approach them as they camp by the sea. The Hebrews see the approaching Egyptian armies and, already forgetting Adonai’s deliverance, cry out to Moshe.

“Was it because there weren’t enough graves in Egypt that you brought us out to die in the desert? Why have you done this to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we tell you in Egypt to let us alone, we’ll just go on being slaves for the Egyptians? It would be better for us to be the Egyptians’ slaves than to die in the desert!” (Exodus 14:11-12)

Moshe responded, “Stop being fearful! Remain steady, and you will see how Adonai is going to save you.  He will do it today – today you have seen the Egyptians, but you will never see them again!  Adonai will do battle for you.  Just calm yourselves down!” (Exodus 14:13-14)

Moshe’s faith had grown exponentially. The Spirit of Adonai flowed through him making him an earthen vessel with omnipotent power.  He was sure of what he hoped for and certain of what he didn’t see because he had witnessed the power of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh many times before (Hebrews 11:1).

Adonai tells Moshe to lift up his staff, reach his hand out over the sea, and divide it. When Moshe raised his staff to divide the waters of the Red Sea, the angel of Adonai who had been in front of the camp moved to the back. The cloud did the same until it stood between the Egyptian army and the Hebrews. One could not come near the other all night long.

A strong eastern wind begins to blow and the Red Sea separates, leaving not mud, but dry land. A million Hebrews, men women and children, walk across the sea on dry ground with walls of water on their right and left.  Their journey lasts throughout the night.   The Egyptians continue to pursue them, even following them into the sea.

Just before sunrise, Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh looks out at the Egyptian army “through the column of fire and the cloud” and they panic. Adonai causes the wheels of their chariots to break off and they can barely move in the mud.

Moshe reaches out his staff a second time over the sea and the water rushes back on the Egyptians and the entire military force drowns in the sea. When the Hebrews see what Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh had done against the Egyptians, they feared Him and put their trust in His servant, Moshe.

They sing a song to Adonai and the prophetess Miryam, the sister of Aaron and Moshe, takes a tambourine in her hand and all the women dance and sing, “I will sing to Adonai, for he is highly exalted: The horse and its rider he threw in the sea” (Exodus 15:1, 20).

The Hebrew shir is the word for ‘sing.’ It is in the future tense yashir, and according to some interpretations, Isra’el not only sang for their immediate deliverance, but prophesied about the Messianic Era. Because there is a nuance of ‘repetition,’ there is a midrash that discusses how Moshe sang a line and the people repeated it or responded with “I will sing to Adonai.”

“Our ancestors in Egypt failed to grasp the meaning of your wonders. They didn’t keep in mind your great deeds of grace but rebelled at the sea, at the Sea of Suf. Yet he saved them for his own name’s sake, to make known his mighty power. He rebuked the Sea of Suf, and it dried up; he led them through its depths as through a desert. He saved them from hostile hands, redeemed them from the power of the foe. The water closed over their adversaries; not one of them was left. Then they believed his words, and they sang his praise” (Psalm 106:7-11).

Shirat HaYam – The Song of the Sea

Highlighting the main idea in each section in the “Song of the Sea” reveals ‘I Am’ to His chosen people and mankind as Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, Yeshua (salvation), yad yamin (the right hand), ruach (wind), gibbor (warrior), tsur (rock) and the mishkan (dwelling place).

Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh – yod-hey-vav-hey
“Sing to yod-hey-vav-hey, for he is highly exalted! The horse and its rider he threw in the sea” (Exodus 15:1)

This is the first time the children Isra’el corporately acknowledge yod-hey-vav-hey as their Elohim.

Yeshua – Salvation
“Yah is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation” (verse 2).

In this verse Yah, a shortened form of yod-hey-vav-hey, (Yahweh), has become their yeshua.  For the Hebrews, yod-hey-vav-hey and His salvation (yeshua) are echad (one).

Gibbor – Warrior
“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh is a warrior; yod-hey-vav-hey is his name” (Exodus 15:3).

Adonai fought the enemy for His people.  After their deliverance from the Egyptians,  they declare to the nations around them who has protected and defended them.
Though Yeshua is considered a compassionate, merciful Savior, he is also a warrior.  He is not just any warrior, he is Commander in Chief of the armies of Adonai (Joshua 5:14-15).  He judges, makes war and strikes down nations –– beginning with Egypt (Revelation 19:11-16).

Yad Yamin – Right Hand
“Your right hand, yod-hey-vav-hey, is sublimely powerful; your right hand, yod-hey-vav-hey, shatters the foe” (verses 6-7).

Adonai is Spirit. He does not have literal arms and legs. This unique part of Adonai shows He is omnipotent or all powerful. Whenever Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh shows His divine power and intervenes in the matters of mankind, He uses His right hand. When He reaches out His right hand and holy arm to deliver His people, it is a revelation of Yeshua.

“Sing a new song to Adonai, because he has done wonders. His right hand, his holy arm have won him victory” (Psalm 98:1).

“Adonai has bared his holy arm in the sight of every nation, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation [yeshua] of our God” (Isaiah 52:10).

Ruach – Wind
“With a blast from your nostrils the waters piled up – the waters stood up like a wall…. You blew with your wind and the sea covered them, they sank like lead in the mighty waters” (verses 8, 10).

The wind piled up the waters for the Hebrews and then relented covering the Egyptians.  The Hebrew word for ‘blast’ and ‘wind’ is ruach.

The Ruach Elohim is Adonai’s very breath, the part of His life-giving essence. The Hebrews acknowledge that His Ruach blew from His nostrils and piled up the waters like a wall. When He blew from His nostrils a second time, and the waters covered their enemies.

Tzur – Rock
“The depths of the sea became firm ground” (verse 8).

Verse eight in the Orthodox Jewish Bible says, “And the tehomot were congealed in the lev yam (heart of the sea).” Tehemot means ‘springs which oozed up from the deep.’  Just dividing the waters didn’t make the sea bottom become firm, dry ground or charabah. There were oozing springs that left mucky mud.  The word for ‘firm ground’ in most translations is ‘congealed’ meaning ‘to change from a soft or fluid state into a rigid or solid state.’ Adonai congealed the oozing springs from the deep into solid rock.

Adonai is called the Rock of Isra’el (Genesis 49:24). He is a Rock of refuge and the horn or stronghold of salvation (Psalm 18:2). Adonai is the Rock of our salvation (Psalm 91:1). There is a cornerstone, a firm foundation stone that is laid in Tziyon (Zion) prophesying Yeshua (Isaiah 28:16 ). On the Rock of Yeshua, the Hebrews walked on the floor of the Red Sea from one side to the other.

When the Ruach Elohim blew a second time, ‘the springs of the deep’ returned to their original state and the Egyptian armies got stuck in the mud. The sea swallowed them along with their horses and chariots. Because Pharaoh and the Egyptians did not heed the word of Adonai, the rock became sinking sand.

“So, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on bedrock. The rain fell, the rivers flooded, the winds blew and beat against that house, but it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the rivers flooded, the wind blew and beat against that house, and it collapsed — and its collapse was horrendous!” (Matthew 7:24-27)

Mishkan – The Dwelling Place
“In your love, you led the people you redeemed; in your strength, you guided them to your holy abode. You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain which is your heritage, the place, Adonai, that you made your abode, the sanctuary, Adonai, which your hands established” (verses 13, 17).

Adonai is leading His people to the foot of the mountain where He first called Moshe. At this mountain, He will give them Torah, His instructions, and create the nation of Isra’el.  The Torah will include instructions for making His ‘dwelling place’ or Mishkan where Adonai will live the middle of Isra’el’s camp while they travel around the wilderness. After they enter the Promised Land, Adonai’s Temple will be established on Mount Tziyon in Jerusalem (Psalm 48:12); the Millennial Temple of Messiah will also be on the same mountain as Yeshua is the ‘dwelling place’ of the Ruach Elohim (Isaiah 2:1-3).

“Yeshua answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.’  The Judeans said, ‘It took 46 years to build this Temple, and you’re going to raise it in three days?’ But the “temple” he had spoken of was his body” (John 2:19-21).

The Nations

“The nations have heard and they tremble; anguish takes hold of those living in Philistia, then the chiefs of Edom are dismayed, trepidation seizes the heads of Moab,  all those living in Canaan are melted away. Terror and dread fall on them; by the might of your arm they are still as stone until your people pass over, Adonai, till the people you purchased pass over” (Exodus 15:14-16).

The terror of judgment that Egypt experienced firsthand caused the nations around them to fear the Hebrews. They heard about the Egyptian armies being killed in the Red Sea and they stood ‘still as stone’ until the Hebrews passed by their lands. No nation wanted to go to war with the people who Adonai defends.

Rafa-El – The Healer

Three days after the deliverance through the Red Sea, the Hebrews arrive in the Desert of Shur.  It is believed this desert is part of the Arabian desert on the northeastern border of Egypt. This is the same wilderness area the ‘angel of Adonai’ found Hagar when she ran away from Sarah.

Two events occur that involve water, a necessity in a desert. In between the two events, Adonai tells His people to pay attention to His commands and observe His laws.

Bitter Water
“They couldn’t drink the water because it was bitter. Moshe cried to Adonai, and Adonai showed him a certain piece of wood, which, when he threw it into the water, made the water taste good, sweet, drinkable” (Exodus 15:23, 25).

The word for ‘bitter’ in Hebrew is marah. From marah comes the name Miryam (Mary). The Hebrew word for ‘wood’ is etz and means ‘tree.’ Adonai shows Moshe a piece of wood or a part of a tree with no specific name. There are several interpretations for the meaning of the ‘tree.’ Some suggest it is symbolic of the cross on which Yeshua died.  Others suggest it is mankind, “For man is the tree of the field” (Deuteronomy 20:19).   Adam and Eve were given a choice between two trees, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. They had to choose between obedience to Adonai’s command or rebellion; they to choose between life or death. In Judaism, the etz represents the Tree of Life or Torah (Genesis 2:9 and Revelation 22:19).

Adonai tells His people that they must do what is right and pay attention to His commands. At the bitter waters, Adonai reveals an important aspect of His character that is conditional. If the children of Isra’el obey Him, then He will be their Rafa-el, Healer. The waters at marah need healing and only He can do it.

Torah directs us to Adonai, gives us wisdom, and reveals salvation. More importantly, the Torah holds the living water for our spiritual thirst. Though the cross is a nice symbol for the tree, it removes the significance of Rafa-el giving healed water to His people at marah quenching a spiritual thirst. The etz of obeying His commandments transforms undrinkable bitter water into sweet living water.

“If you will listen intently to the voice of Adonai your God, do what He considers right, pay attention to his commands and observe his laws, I will not afflict you with any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, because I am Adonai your Healer” (Exodus 15:26).

Hebrew Word Pictures
Marah (Bitter) – מרה – mem, resh, hey
– chaos highest authority, revealed

Etz (Tree) – עץ – ayin, tzade
– understand and pull toward

Mathoq (Sweet) – מתוק – mem, tav, vav, kof
– mighty covenant, what is behind the binding

Spring Water
“They came to Eilim [Elim], where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and camped there by the water” (Exodus 15:27).

After they leave marah, they camp at Elim which means ‘ram’ or ‘strong.’ Elim is an oasis possibly in the region south of the Suez Canal in the Egyptian delta, but also could be in Saudi Arabia. The Hebrew word for ‘springs’ is ayin, the same word ‘eye’ meaning ‘to see or understand.’ Ayin is the 16th letter of the Hebrew alphabet and represents the number 70.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Elim (Ram, Strong) – אילם – alef, yod, lamed, mem
– first strength finished work mighty urging forward

Spring (Eye) or Ayin – עין – ayin, yod, nun
– understand the finished work of life

Palm or Tamar – תמר – tav, mem, resh
– the mighty covenant of the highest authority

Jacob left Canaan and went down into Egypt with his 12 sons and their families.  This small nation consisted of 70 people. Over 400 years later, more than one million children of Isra’el camp in an oasis in the desert, an oasis that remains to this day.  Each tribe receives water from their own spring and puts up their tents in the shade of the 70 trees. This passage is evidence of El Shaddai’s promise to Abraham for many descendants who would be preserved after being enslaved in a foreign nation. At the springs of Elim, the Hebrews are refreshed, strengthened and encouraged after being tested.

The Hebrew word for ‘palm’ is tamar.  Palm trees symbolize those with great faith, who planted by water, bring refreshment to weary souls (Psalm 92:12-13). Tamar, who had sons with Judah, was considered righteous because of her behavior. Her womb flourished with twins, one of whom began the ‘scarlet thread’ blood lineage of Yeshua.

Adonai Yireh – The Provider

“I have heard the grumblings of the people of Isra’el.  Say to them: At dusk you will be eating meat, and in the morning you will have your fill of bread.  Then you will realize that I am Adonai your God” (Exodus 16:4-5).

One month after leaving Egypt and being refreshed under the trees at Elim, the Hebrews kevetch or whine again. They miss their pots boiling with meat and wish Adonai had killed them while they were still slaves. They grumble against Moshe and Aaron and accuse them of starving everyone.

“Here, I will cause bread to rain down from heaven to you.  The people are to go out and gather a day’s ration every day.  But this I will test whether they will observe my Torah or not.  On the sixth day, when they prepare what they have brought in, it will turn out to be twice as much as they gather on the other days” (Exodus 16:4-5).

Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh appears in glory from the cloud.  He responds to the grumbling with another test because He wants them to trust Him as Provider.   He promises to rain bread down from heaven on them each day, but on the sixth day He will miraculously transform one day’s rations into two.  He also promises them meat.

In the evening, quail appear and cover the camp while in the morning there is a layer of dew around the camp.  When the dew evaporated, there is a fine flaky substance on the ground.  They call it man hu or ‘What is it?’

“Yeshua answered, ‘I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world’” (John 6:48-51).

The Shabbat – The Sabbath Day

Moshe told them man hu or manna is the bread ‘I Am’ has provided as food. It appeared as fine as frost on the ground, white like coriander seed, and tasted like honey cakes.  Each man was to gather according to his appetite, two quarts per person for everyone in his tent.  The Hebrews followed Moshe’s instructions and no one had too much or too little. On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much or four quarts per person. According to Adonai’s instructions, two quarts of manna was collected and put in a jar to be kept for future generations to see the bread that He fed them in the wilderness.  The Israelites ate manna until they crossed the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land 40 years later.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Manna (What is it?) or Man hu – מן הו– mem, nun, hey, vav
– mighty life, reveal the binding

“This is what Adonai has said, ‘Tomorrow is a holy Shabbat for Adonai.  Bake what you want to bake; boil what you want to boil; and whatever is left over, set aside and keep for the morning; Because tomorrow is the Shabbat for Adonai, you won’t find any in the field.  Gather it six days, but the seventh day is Shabbat–on that day there won’t be any’” (Exodus 16:23-25).

Up until this time, the Hebrews did not keep the Sabbath day.  As slaves they labored every day in Egypt with no time for rest. After their hasty exodus from Egypt and their travels through the Red Sea, they had no time or place to rest.  Adonai now provides them with more than just food; He gives them rest.

Still, there were those who did not obey His command.  Some kept the daily manna until the next morning and it turned to worms.  Others went out on the Sabbath to gather manna and there was none.

“How long will you refuse to observe my rulings and teachings?  Look, Adonai has given you the Shabbat.  This is why He is providing bread for two days on the sixth day.  Each of you, stay where you are; no one is to leave his place on the seventh day.  So the people rested on the seventh day” (Exodus 16:28-30).

According to Hebrews 4, the Sabbath still remains.  Yet, there are those like the Hebrews who refuse to obey Adonai’s instruction. They don’t believe their manna will turn to worms (Isaiah 66:24). They work and gather and gather and work and never enter His rest.

The Rock

“He split a rock, and water gushed out, flowing as a river over the dry ground, for he remembered his promise to his servant Abraham” (Psalm 105:41).

The Hebrews leave the Desert of Sin and travel only a short distance until they quarrel again because there is no water.  They demand that Moshe give them water and accuse him of trying to kill their children and livestock.  This place is named Massah and Merivah, the place of testing and quarreling.

“Go on ahead of the people … take your staff in your hand, the one you used to strike the river; and go.  I will stand in front of you there on the rock in Horev.  You are to strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so the people can drink” (Exodus 17:5-7).

Hebrew Word Pictures
Massah (Testing) – מסה – mem, samech, hey
– mighty support protect

Merivah (Quareling) – מריבה – mem, resh, yod, bet, hey
– chaos of highest authority, finished work of the family, reveal

Horev (Mountain) – חרב – chet, resh, bet
– protect the highest authority of the house

Tzur (Rock) – צור – tzade, vav, resh
– pull toward to the binding of the highest authority

Mount Horev is the ‘inner room’ where Moshe met Adonai in the burning bush and received His memorial name, yod-hey-vav-hey. It is at Mount Horev where Adonai pours out His living water.

Adonai tells Moshe to go to a specific ‘Rock’ that he will know because Adonai will “stand in front of you on the rock.”  Moshe is to strike the ‘Rock’ with his staff. When he follows Adonai’s instruction, the ‘Rock’ split open and water gushes out fresh water for the Hebrews to drink.

“For, brothers, I don’t want you to miss the significance of what happened to our fathers. All of them were guided by the pillar of cloud, and they all passed through the sea, and in connection with the cloud and with the sea they all immersed themselves into Moshe, also they all ate the same food from the Spirit, and they all drank the same drink from the Spirit — for they drank from a Spirit-sent Rock which followed them, and that Rock was the Messiah” (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).

Sha’ul gives three significant facts about the ‘Rock’ in 1 Corinthians 10:4. Sha’ul uses Torah to state his case which is not merely based on tradition. First, it followed the Israelites. According to Jewish tradition, the ‘Rock’ was a literal rock, like a well and full of holes like a sieve, from which the water trickled and then shot up to the sky. The ‘Rock’ was the size of a large round vessel, surging and gurgling upward as from the mouth of this little flask, rising with them up onto the mountains and down with them into the valleys. Wherever the children of Isra’el would camp, it made camp with them on a high place, opposite the entry of the Tent of Meeting. It is believed that when Isra’el sang “Spring up, oh well! Sing to the well,” they were referring to the ‘Rock’ (Numbers 21:17).

The early church fathers rejected the idea of a literal rock because the concept came from Jewish tradition. However, several times in Torah, Moshe personifies the ‘Rock.’ From his personal experience and perspective, the ‘Rock’ was literal and it followed the Israelites.

“The Rock! His work is perfect, for all his ways are just. A trustworthy God who does no wrong, He is righteous and straight” (Deuteronomy 32:4).

“After all, how can one chase a thousand and two put ten thousand to rout, unless their Rock sells them to their enemies, unless Adonai hands them over?” (Deuteronomy 32:30)

The ‘Rock’ speaks to King David and makes a covenant with him. “The God of Isra’el spoke; the Rock of Isra’el said to me …” (2 Samuel 23:3). Isaiah speaks of the ‘Rock’ being eternal, “Trust in Adonai forever, because in Yah Adonai, is a Rock of Ages” (Isaiah 26:4). When Moshe asks to meet with Adonai face to face, he is told to stand in the crevice of the ‘Rock’ until the glory of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh passes by (Exodus 33:20-22).

Second, according to Sha’ul, the ‘Rock’ gave the Israelites spiritual drink. The water from the ‘Rock’ was not bitter water turned sweet or even a spring like those at Elim. This water was living water, brought forth by an act of Adonai that would quench the spiritual thirst of the children of Isra’el. Moshe struck the ‘Rock’ in the sight of the leaders, proving again that it was a literal rock. The ‘Rock’ can be spiritualized, but when Moshe hits the ‘Rock,’ why is it taught that the ‘Rock’ is Yeshua and he was only to be beaten once?

Third, according to Sha’ul, the ‘Rock’ is Messiah. The ‘Rock’ is Yeshua. This is why when Moshe hits the ‘Rock’ the second time, it is understood to be Yeshua. Yeshua is the ‘Rock’ which the builders rejected, but became the cornerstone of a spiritual Temple (1 Peter 2:7, Ephesians 2:19-22). He is a tested stone, a ‘Rock’ over which Isra’el will stumble (Isaiah 8:14).

“The very Rock that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone! This has come from Adonai, and in our eyes it is amazing” (Psalm 118:2-3).

El Nissi – The Banner

At Refid’im (Merivah), the Amalekites attack the children of Isra’el.  Moshe tells Joshua to choose men to go into battle.   In the morning when the fighting begins, Moshe along with Aaron and Hur, climb to the top of the hill with the staff of Adonai.

Moshe is 80 years old and continues to lead the children of Isra’el; however, he cannot actively participate in battles and be killed. As their leader, he is responsible to keep the fighting men focused on their job –– defeating the Amalekites.   He shows his leadership by using the staff that divided the Red Sea reminding the men of Adonai’s victory over the Egyptians and to trust ‘I Am’ will also win this battle for them.

By holding up his arms, Moshe symbolically offers a priestly blessing over the Hebrew armies. When his hands are raised with the staff, the children of Isra’el prevail against their enemy. When he gets tired and his arms slowly drop, the army begins to lose the battle. He discerns that when his hands are up, the children of Isra’el win so when he gets tired, Aaron and Hur step in, find a rock for him to sit on, and hold up his hands so that his arms remain raised until sunset. When the Hebrew army looks up to the hill, they see Aaron and Hur remaining faithful to Moshe who trusts Adonai to defeat the Amalekites.

“Adonai said to Moshe, ‘Write this in a book to be remembered, and tell it to Y’hoshua [Joshua]: I will completely blot out any memory of the Amalekites from under heaven’” (Exodus 17:14).

Moshe builds an altar and calls it yod-hey-vav-hey Nissi, (Adonai is my Banner). This is another attribute of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh who has now revealed Himself as the Rafa (Healer), Yireh (Provider) and now, Nissi (Banner) of Isra’el.

Yeshua and Laodicea
Revelation 3:14-22

In the message to the congregation of Laodicea, Yeshua reveals himself as “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, Ruler of God’s creation.” 

The Laodicean congregation was lukewarm, neither hot or cold, and Yeshua wanted to vomit them out of his mouth. To be hot means to be close to the fire of Elohim’s holiness.  To be hot means you are always seeking His presence, His ways, His life, His truth. To be cold means to be far away from Him and His presence.   Cold is a complete indifference to His commands, precepts, and statutes.  To be cold is to be a pagan from the nations, a foreigner, separate from Elohim, His people, His teachings, “without God, without hope in this world” (Ephesians 2:12).

Mixing hot and cold creates lukewarm. Lukewarm is a mixture of the holy hotness of Adonai and the profane coldness of the world exemplified with the golden calf.   Though the children of Isra’el had the right intention, their  worship was detestable to Adonai because it mixed the holy and the pagan.  Aaron rationalized their abominations, but it was still not acceptable to Adonai (Exodus 32).

The Laodicean congregation believed they were rich and had need of nothing, yet Yeshua saw them as poor, pitiful, blind and naked.   He tells them to buy gold refined by fire because they need a hot refining fire to remove the ugly dross and scum in their lives.

The Laodiceans believed they had the righteousness of Messiah, but will be ashamed when they are seen as naked. Man-made fig leaves do not cover their naked bodies any more than they covered Adam and Eve.   They also need eye salve because they have been blinded to their mixture of holy and pagan practices. They perceive themselves as holy, but have fallen into the great deception where the pure milk of the Word has been polluted with false god worship. They believe they are hot while they commit spiritual adultery and are sickening lukewarm (2 Corinthians 11:2-4).

The Laodiceans are so complacent, Yeshua tells them to “exert yourselves and turn from your sins!” ‘Exert’ means to put forth some serious physical action. The Laodiceans do not need to hear a message of ‘rest in me because you are saved;’ they need a ‘put forth some effort because you need to repent’ message. Yeshua loves this congregation which is why he rebukes them so harshly. He wants to heat them up and refine them so they aren’t vomit in his mouth.

Laodicea was situated on the Lycus River in the Roman province of Asia and was the meeting place for the Council of Laodicea in 360 CE.  It was at this council that many anti-semitic doctrines were established for the church and are still part of Christian theology today.

The Council of Laodicea and the Sabbath

“Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day.”

This canon by the council directly contradicts the Fourth Commandment given in Exodus 20:8-10.  Judaizing has nothing to do with obeying Elohim’s commandments.  Judaizing is the theology that requires a gentile believer in Messiah to convert to Judaism through ritual circumcision. Keeping the Sabbath has nothing to do with Judaism, but is an expression of faith in Yeshua through obedience to the commandments of Adonai.  This deliberate twisting of Judaizing has kept the church from obeying a Biblical commandment. It has also kept the church from provoking the Jewish people to jealousy.

“Rather [they should] honour the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, rest then as Christians.”

It becomes clear that those in Laodicea knew the ‘Lord’s Day’ was not the Sabbath. They obviously did not heed the warning given by Yeshua because their edicts have created a lukewarm church that mixes the holy ‘Sabbath’ and the profane ‘Sunday.’

This is a serious edict because the Sabbath is the memorial to creation and a vision of eternity. According to Yeshua’s message to Laodicea, he is ruler over creation, and as the ‘Amen,’ he has the final ‘so be it’ regarding the Sabbath. The decisions made at Laodicea nullified the command of Adonai.  Yeshua is the ‘faithful and true witness’ and, without his ‘witness,’ the ‘Lord’s Day’ is not Biblical truth nor faithful to Adonai’s command.

Yeshua stands at the door of the Laodicean congregation and knocks.  He wants someone to open the door so he can come in and eat with them.  If they open the door, there will be table fellowship and a Feast of Adonai! ‘Door’ in Hebrew is dalet and represents the Fourth Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” Yeshua desires to fellowship with the faithful who are willing to open the dalet of the Biblical Sabbath.

The reward for the overcomer in Laodicea is to sit with Yeshua on his Throne.  The action of sitting after a victory is an allusion to rest and cessation of work.  This is the meaning and purpose of Sabbath –– ceasing work and resting. 

©2018 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this Torah portion, the weekly readings of the Prophets and New Testament, and springboard for midrash, please purchase Open My Eyes: Wonders of Torah.