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Torah Portion
Temple Shalom
A Reform Jewish Congregation
Chevy Chase, Maryland
This Week’s Torah Portion - B’shalach, Exodus 13:17–17:16 - Shabbat Shirah
Chapter 13

17 Now when Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although it was nearer; for God said, "The people may have a change of heart when they see war, and return to Egypt." 18 So God led the people roundabout, by way of the wilderness at the Sea of Reeds.

Now the Israelites went up armed out of the land of Egypt. 19 And Moses took with him the bones of Joseph, who had exacted an oath from the children of Israel, saying, "God will be sure to take notice of you: then you shall carry up my bones from here with you."

20 They set out from Succoth, and encamped at Etham, at the edge of the wilderness. 21 The Lord went before them in a pillar of cloud by day, to guide them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, that they might travel day and night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.

Chapter 14

1 The Lord said to Moses: 2 Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, before Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 Pharaoh will say of the Israelites, "They are astray in the land; the wilderness has closed in on them." 4 Then I will stiffen Pharaoh's heart and he will pursue them, that I may gain glory through Pharaoh and all his host; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord. And they did so.

5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his courtiers had a change of heart about the people and said, "What is this we have done, releasing Israel from our service?" 6 He ordered his chariot and took his men with him; 7 he took six hundred of his picked chariots, and the rest of the chariots of Egypt, with officers in all of them. 8 The Lord stiffened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he gave chase to the Israelites. As the Israelites were departing defiantly, boldly, 9 the Egyptians gave chase to them, and all the chariot horses of Pharaoh, his horsemen, and his warriors overtook them encamped by the sea, near Pi-hahiroth, before Baal-zephon.

10 As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites caught sight of the Egyptians advancing upon them. Greatly frightened, the Israelites cried out to the Lord. 11 And they said to Moses, "Was it for want of graves in Egypt that you brought us to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, saying, 'Let us be, and we will serve the Egyptians, for it is better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness'?" 13 But Moses said to the people, "Have no fear! Stand by, and witness the deliverance which the Lord will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will battle for you; you hold your peace!"

15 Then the Lord said to Moses, "Why do you cry out to Me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. 16 And you lift up your rod and hold out your arm over the sea and split it, so that the Israelites may march into the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will stiffen the hearts of the Egyptians so that they go in after them; and I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his warriors, his chariots and his horsemen. 18 Let the Egyptians know that I am Lord, when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen."

19 The angel of God, who had been going ahead of the Israelite army, now moved and followed behind them; and the pillar of cloud shifted from in front of them and took up a place behind them, 20 and it came between the army of the Egyptians and the army of Israel. Thus there was the cloud with the darkness, and it cast a spell upon the night, so that the one could not come near the other all through the night.

21 Then Moses held out his arm over the sea and the Lord drove back the sea with a strong east wind all that night, and turned the sea into dry ground. The waters were split, 22 and the Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. 23 The Egyptians came in pursuit after them into the sea, all of Pharaoh's horses, chariots, and horsemen. 24 At the morning watch, the Lord looked down upon the Egyptian army from a pillar of fire and cloud, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. 25 He locked the wheels of their chariots so that they moved forward with difficulty. And the Egyptians said, "Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt."

26 Then the Lord said to Moses, "Hold out your arm over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians and upon their chariots and upon their horsemen." 27 Moses held out his arm over the sea, and at daybreak the sea returned to its normal state, and the Egyptians fled at its approach. But the Lord hurled the Egyptians into the sea.

28 The waters turned back and covered the chariots and the horsemen--Pharaoh's entire army that followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. 29 But the Israelites had marched through the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

30 Thus the Lord delivered Israel that day from the Egyptians. Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the shore of the sea.

31 And when Israel saw the wondrous power which the Lord had wielded against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord; they had faith in the Lord and His servant Moses.

Chapter 15

1 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord. They said:

I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously;
Horse and driver He has hurled into the sea.
2 The Lord is my strength and might;
He is become my deliverance.
This is my God and I will enshrine Him;
The God of my father, and I will exalt Him.
3 The Lord, the Warrior--
Lord is His name!
4 Pharaoh's chariots and his army
He has cast into the sea;
And the pick of his officers
Are drowned in the Sea of Reeds.
5 The deeps covered them;
They went down into the depths like a stone.
6 Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power,
Your right hand, O Lord, shatters the foe!
7 In Your great triumph You break Your opponents;
You send forth Your fury, it consumes them like straw.
8 At the blast of Your nostrils the waters piled up,
The floods stood straight like a wall;
The deeps froze in the heart of the sea.
9 The foe said,
"I will pursue, I will overtake,
I will divide the spoil;
My desire shall have its fill of them.
I will bare my sword--
My hand shall subdue them."
10 You made Your wind blow, the sea covered them;
They sank like lead in the majestic waters.

11 Who is like You, O Lord, among the celestials;
Who is like You, majestic in holiness,
Awesome in splendor, working wonders!
12 You put out Your right hand,
The earth swallowed them.
13 In Your love You lead the people You redeemed;
In Your strength You guide them to Your holy abode.
14 The peoples hear, they tremble;
Agony grips the dwellers in Philistia.
15 Now are the clans of Edom dismayed;
The tribes of Moab--trembling grips them;
All the dwellers in Canaan are aghast.
16 Terror and dread descend upon them;
Through the might of Your arm they are still as stone--
Till Your people cross over, O Lord,
Till Your people cross whom You have ransomed.

17 You will bring them and plant them in Your own mountain,
The place You made to dwell in, O Lord,
The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands established.
18 The Lord will reign for ever and ever!

19 For the horses of Pharaoh, with his chariots and horsemen, went into the sea; and the Lord turned back on them the waters of the sea; but the Israelites marched on dry ground in the midst of the sea.

20 Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her in dance with timbrels. 21 And Miriam chanted for them:

Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously;
Horse and driver He has hurled into the sea.

22 Then Moses caused Israel to set out from the Sea of Reeds. They went on into the wilderness of Shur; they traveled three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 They came to Marah, but they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; that is why it was named Marah. 24 And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?" 25 So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood; he threw it into the water and the water became sweet.

There He made for them a fixed rule, and there He put them to the test. 26 He said, "If you will heed the Lord your God diligently, doing what is upright in His sight, giving ear to His commandments and keeping all His laws, then I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians, for I the Lord am your healer."

27 And they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they encamped there beside the water.

Chapter 16

1 Setting out from Elim, the whole Israelite community came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt. 2 In the wilderness, the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots, when we ate our fill of bread! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to starve this whole congregation to death."

4 And the Lord said to Moses, "I will rain down bread for you from the sky, and the people shall go out and gather each day that day's portion--that I may thus test them, to see whether they will follow My instructions or not. 5 But on the sixth day, when they apportion what they have brought in, it shall prove to be double the amount they gather each day." 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, "By evening you shall know it was the Lord who brought you out from the land of Egypt; 7 and in the morning you shall behold the Presence of the Lord, because He has heard your grumblings against the Lord. For who are we that you should grumble against us? 8 Since it is the Lord," Moses continued, "Who will give you flesh to eat in the evening and bread in the morning to the full, because the Lord has heard the grumblings you utter against Him, what is our part? Your grumbling is not against us, but against the Lord!"

9 Then Moses said to Aaron, "Say to the whole Israelite community: Advance toward the Lord, for He has heard your grumbling." 10 And as Aaron spoke to the whole Israelite community, they turned toward the wilderness, and there, in a cloud, appeared the Presence of the Lord.

11 The Lord spoke to Moses: 12 "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Speak to them and say: By evening you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; and you shall know that I the Lord am your God."

13 In the evening quail appeared and covered the camp; in the morning there was a fall of dew about the camp. 14 When the fall of dew lifted, there, over the surface of the wilderness, lay a fine and flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?"--for they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, "That is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: Gather as much of it as each of you requires to eat, an omer to a person for as many of you as there are; each of you shall fetch for those in his tent."

17 The Israelites did so, some gathering much, some little. 18 But when they measured it by the omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no deficiency: they had gathered as much as they needed to eat. 19 And Moses said to them, "Let no one leave any of it over until morning." 20 But they paid no attention to Moses; some of them left of it until morning, and it became infested with maggots and stank. And Moses was angry with them.

21 So they gathered it every morning, each as much as he needed to eat; for when the sun grew hot, it would melt. 22 On the sixth day they gathered double the amount of food, two omers for each; and when all the chieftains of the community came and told Moses, 23 he said to them, "This is what the Lord meant: Tomorrow is a day of rest, a holy sabbath of the Lord. Bake what you would bake and boil what you would boil; and all that is left put aside to be kept until morning." 24 So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered; and it did not turn foul, and there were no maggots in it. 25 Then Moses said, "Eat it today, for today is a sabbath of the Lord; you will not find it today on the plain. 26 Six days you shall gather it; on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none."

27 Yet some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found nothing. 28 And the Lord said to Moses, "How long will you men refuse to obey My commandments and My teachings? 29 Mark that the Lord has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you two days' food on the sixth day. Let everyone remain where he is: let no one leave his place on the seventh day." 30 So the people remained inactive on the seventh day.

31 The house of Israel named it manna; it was like coriander seed, white, and it tasted like wafers in honey. 32 Moses said, "This is what the Lord has commanded: Let one omer of it be kept throughout the ages, in order that they may see the bread that I fed you in the wilderness when I brought you out from the land of Egypt." 33 And Moses said to Aaron, "Take a jar, put one omer of manna in it, and place it before the Lord, to be kept throughout the ages." 34 As the Lord had commanded Moses, Aaron placed it before the Pact, to be kept. 35 And the Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a settled land; they ate the manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. 36 The omer is a tenth of an ephah.

Chapter 17

1 From the wilderness of Sin the whole Israelite community continued by stages as the Lord would command. They encamped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. 2 The people quarreled with Moses. "Give us water to drink," they said; and Moses replied to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you try the Lord?" 3 But the people thirsted there for water; and the people grumbled against Moses and said, "Why did you bring us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?" 4 Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, "What shall I do with this people? Before long they will be stoning me!" 5 Then the Lord said to Moses, "Pass before the people; take with you some of the elders of Israel, and take along the rod with which you struck the Nile, and set out. 6 I will be standing there before you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock and water will issue from it, and the people will drink." And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 The place was named Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and because they tried the Lord, saying, "Is the Lord present among us or not?"

8 Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, "Pick some men for us, and go out and do battle with Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill, with the rod of God in my hand." 10 Joshua did as Moses told him and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 Then, whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; but whenever he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses' hands grew heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur, one on each side, supported his hands; thus his hands remained steady until the sun set. 13 And Joshua overwhelmed the people of Amalek with the sword.

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, "Inscribe this in a document as a reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven!" 15 And Moses built an altar and named it Adonai-nissi.

16 He said, "It means, 'Hand upon the throne of the Lord!' The Lord will be at war with Amalek throughout the ages."

FromThe JPS Tanakh, The Holy Scriptures, (Philadelphia, Jerusalem: Jewish Publication Society) 1985.

This Week’s Haftarah - Judges 4:4–5:31
Chapter 4

4 Deborah, wife of Lappidoth, was a prophetess; she led Israel at that time. 5 She used to sit under the Palm of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites would come to her for decisions.

6 She summoned Barak son of Abinoam, of Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, "The Lord, the God of Israel, has commanded: Go, march up to Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun. 7 And I will draw Sisera, Jabin's army commander, with his chariots and his troops, toward you up to the Wadi Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hands." 8 But Barak said to her, "If you will go with me, I will go; if not, I will not go." 9 "Very well, I will go with you," she answered. "However, there will be no glory for you in the course you are taking, for then the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman." So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 Barak then mustered Zebulun and Naphtali at Kedesh; ten thousand men marched up after him; and Deborah also went up with him.

11 Now Heber the Kenite had separated from the other Kenites, descendants of Hobab, father-in-law of Moses, and had pitched his tent at Elon-bezaanannim, which is near Kedesh.

12 Sisera was informed that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor. 13 So Sisera ordered all his chariots--nine hundred iron chariots--and all the troops he had to move from Harosheth-goiim to the Wadi Kishon. 14 Then Deborah said to Barak, "Up! This is the day on which the Lord will deliver Sisera into your hands: the Lord is marching before you." Barak charged down Mount Tabor, followed by the ten thousand men, 15 and the Lord threw Sisera and all his chariots and army into a panic before the onslaught of Barak. Sisera leaped from his chariot and fled on foot 16 as Barak pursued the chariots and the soldiers as far as Harosheth-goiim. All of Sisera's soldiers fell by the sword; not a man was left.

17 Sisera, meanwhile, had fled on foot to the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was friendship between King Jabin of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite. 18 Jael came out to greet Sisera and said to him, "Come in, my lord, come in here, do not be afraid." So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket. 19 He said to her, "Please let me have some water; I am thirsty." She opened a skin of milk and gave him some to drink; and she covered him again. 20 He said to her, "Stand at the entrance of the tent. If anybody comes and asks you if there is anybody here, say 'No.'" 21 Then Jael wife of Heber took a tent pin and grasped the mallet. When he was fast asleep from exhaustion, she approached him stealthily and drove the pin through his temple till it went down to the ground. Thus he died.

22 Now Barak appeared in pursuit of Sisera. Jael went out to greet him and said, "Come, I will show you the man you are looking for." He went inside with her, and there Sisera was lying dead, with the pin in his temple.

23 On that day God subdued King Jabin of Hazor before the Israelites. 24 The hand of the Israelites bore harder and harder on King Jabin of Canaan, until they destroyed King Jabin of Canaan.

Chapter 5

1 On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang:

2 When locks go untrimmed in Israel,
When people dedicate themselves--
Bless the Lord!

3 Hear, O kings! Give ear, O potentates!
I will sing, will sing to the Lord,
Will hymn the Lord, the God of Israel.

4 O Lord, when You came forth from Seir,
Advanced from the country of Edom,
The earth trembled;
The heavens dripped,
Yea, the clouds dripped water,
5The mountains quaked--
Before the Lord, Him of Sinai,
Before the Lord, God of Israel.

6 In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,
In the days of Jael, caravans ceased,
And wayfarers went
By roundabout paths.
7 Deliverance ceased,
Ceased in Israel,
Till you arose, O Deborah,
Arose, O mother, in Israel!
8 When they chose new gods,
Was there a fighter then in the gates?
No shield or spear was seen
Among forty thousand in Israel!

9 My heart is with Israel's leaders,
With the dedicated of the people--
Bless the Lord!
10 You riders on tawny she-asses,
You who sit on saddle rugs,
And you wayfarers, declare it!
11 Louder than the sound of archers,
There among the watering places
Let them chant the gracious acts of the Lord,
His gracious deliverance of Israel.
Then did the people of the Lord
March down to the gates!
12 Awake, awake, O Deborah!
Awake, awake, strike up the chant!
Arise, O Barak;
Take your captives, O son of Abinoam!

13 Then was the remnant made victor over the mighty,
The Lord's people won my victory over the warriors.

14 From Ephraim came they whose roots are in Amalek;
After you, your kin Benjamin;
From Machir came down leaders,
From Zebulun such as hold the marshal's staff.
15 And Issachar's chiefs were with Deborah;
As Barak, so was Issachar--
Rushing after him into the valley.

Among the clans of Reuben
Were great decisions of heart.
16 Why then did you stay among the sheepfolds
And listen as they pipe for the flocks?
Among the clans of Reuben
Were great searchings of heart!
17 Gilead tarried beyond the Jordan;
And Dan--why did he linger by the ships?
Asher remained at the seacoast
And tarried at his landings.
18 Zebulun is a people that mocked at death,
Naphtali--on the open heights.

19 Then the kings came, they fought:
The kings of Canaan fought
At Taanach, by Megiddo's waters--
They got no spoil of silver.
20 The stars fought from heaven,
From their courses they fought against Sisera.
21 The torrent Kishon swept them away,
The raging torrent, the torrent Kishon.

March on, my soul, with courage!

22 Then the horses' hoofs pounded
As headlong galloped the steeds.
23 "Curse Meroz!" said the angel of the Lord.
"Bitterly curse its inhabitants,
Because they came not to the aid of the Lord,
To the aid of the Lord among the warriors."
24 Most blessed of women be Jael,
Wife of Heber the Kenite,
Most blessed of women in tents.
25 He asked for water, she offered milk;
In a princely bowl she brought him curds.
26 Her [left] hand reached for the tent pin,
Her right for the workmen's hammer.
She struck Sisera, crushed his head,
Smashed and pierced his temple.
27 At her feet he sank, lay outstretched,
At her feet he sank, lay still;
Where he sank, there he lay--destroyed.

28 Through the window peered Sisera's mother,
Behind the lattice she whined:
"Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why so late the clatter of his wheels?"
29 The wisest of her ladies give answer;
She, too, replies to herself:
30 "They must be dividing the spoil they have found:
A damsel or two for each man,
Spoil of dyed cloths for Sisera,
Spoil of embroidered cloths,
A couple of embroidered cloths
Round every neck as spoil."

31 So may all Your enemies perish, O Lord!
But may His friends be as the sun rising in might!

And the land was tranquil forty years.

From the JPS Tanakh, The Holy Scriptures, (Philadelphia, Jerusalem: Jewish Publication Society) 1985

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