Parasha Inspiration – Beshalach

ה’ אִישׁ מִלְחָמָה ‘ה שְׁמוֹ׃

HaShem is a man of war, HaShem is His Name

Ex 15:3

In this week’s Torah portion, Israel has its back to the sea and is surrounded by the army of Egypt. This is the most technologically advanced army of its age. It has M1 chariots, and Israel has no chance. They’re going to be defeated and slaughtered before they can even leave Egypt. But the G-d of Israel saves them with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.

As Israel finishes crossing the sea which is been made dry ground, and the army of Egypt is utterly destroyed, Moshe and the children of Israel sing the Song at the Sea. In Exodus 15:3 we see this verse: HaShem is a man of war. HaShem is a man of war?

Indeed, the children of Israel have just seen that HaShem is indeed a man of war. He just defeated the greatest army on the face of the earth, miraculously. Does this really mean that HaShem is a man of war?

In reality, we see HaShem defeating Israel’s enemies all throughout Scripture, in both the Tanakh and the Brit Chadasha. It is often taught that the G-d of the Old Testament is a G-d of judgment and that the G-d of the New Testament is the G-d of grace. This is a misunderstanding of Scripture. In Matthew 11:20-24, we see 3 cities that are cursed by Yeshua. Among them is Chorazin. There is archaeological evidence that Chorazin was destroyed by an earthquake by the end of the 1st century CE

In Revelation chapter 15, the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb are being sung by the heavenly beings. Within Judaism, the song of Moses can refer to either the Song at the Sea or Moses’ song in Deuteronomy 32. Considering the context in Revelation 15 of the battles that have just been won, the text must be referring to the Song at the Sea. Certainly, this is referring to the G-d of Israel being a man of war.

We like to think of Yeshua as being the Messiah of love and grace, and in fact, He is. However, Yeshua is the same God who is the man of war. We see Yeshua’s frustration all through the Gospels. He overturns the money changer’s tables, he wipes the dust off his feet and moves on. Yeshua frequently teaches us the lesson that there is a balance between grace and judgment, Chesed and Gevurah.

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Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Steve was born on Lag B’Omer in Ann Arbor, MI but was raised in Gainesville, FL. The son of two University of Florida professors, he excelled in the sciences in school. In addition to his normal academic studies, he pursued his Jewish education studying with many Rabbis and professors of Judaic Studies from the University including visiting Rabbis such as Abraham Joshua Heschel and Shlomo Carlebach.