This week’s parsha has two themes: triumph and grumbling.
The triumph comes at the beginning when God tells Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea and the waters rush in and drown all the Egyptians chasing after the Israelites.
“Woohoo” shouts Moses and breaks into a song.
Who is like you among the gods, O God!
Who is like you, majestic among the holy ones,
Feared-One of praises, Doer of Wonders!
Then Miriam, his sister, brings out her tambourine and sings her own song, complete with dancing.
Sing to God, for God has triumphed, yes, triumphed,
The horse and its charioteer
God flung into the sea!
Miriam, we learn, is a prophet, the first one mentioned in the Torah.
But only three days after this high. the Israelites move out to the Wilderness of Shur. They settle by some beautiful springs but they start grumbling that they’re going to die of starvation.
Moses goes to God who tells him he’s going to rain down bread from the sky! And sure enough, down comes this stuff that looks like frost and tastes like honeyed bread! They call it “Mahn hu”, meaning “What is this?” which some people say was why they named the stuff “manna”. And it came down for them every day of their forty years of wandering.
Now a very important thing takes place: God orders Moses to tell the Israelites to gather manna for six days but not to gather it on the seventh! This is the first mention we get in the Torah of the Sabbath!
But then here comes the grumbling again. Some of the people do not listen to Moses and they go out and gather manna on the seventh day. Amazingly, though, they listen to Moses when he tells them to stop.
All the Children of Israel pack up and move to Refidim, where there’s no fresh water. What do you think happens? Yep. They start grumbling.
“Why did you bring us up from Egypt, to bring death to me, to my children and to my livestock by thirst?
Well, God tells Moses to strike the rock at Horeb and out comes water.
But of course, this is one of many times the Children of Israel grumble to Moses, and one of many times God performs miracles in answer.
Food for Thought
Do you think God would have provided manna and fresh water if the Israelites had not grumbled?