Today is the 16th Sabbath of the annual Torah cycle: parashah (Torah portion) Beshalach / When he sent, Exo 13:17-17:16. Read Exodus 13:17-17:16 at Bible Gateway.
This week’s Torah portion forms a complex chaistic structure with smaller structures within it. I am posting the outline of the parashah first with the strong and weak paragraph divisions, and then the chiastic structure after it with the same paragraph divisions marked, so that it can be seen that the paragraph divisions help reveal the chiastic structure.
Exo 13:17-22 p God led them Himself in a pillar of cloud and fire
Exo 14:1-14 p The Egyptians pursued Israel + the LORD’s assurance of deliverance
Exo 14:15-25 p Moses parted the Red Sea + Israel escaped the Egyptians
Exo 14:26-31 p The LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea
Exo 15:1-19: Song of Moses + praise for what YHVH has done
Exo 15:1 s Song of Moses + Sing to YHVH, for He has triumphed gloriously!
Exo 15:2 s YHVH has become my salvation
Exo 15:3 s YHVH is a man of war
Exo 15:4 s He has cast Pharaoh’s army into the sea
Exo 15:5 s The depths of the sea have covered them
Exo 15:6 s YHVH’s right hand glorious in power + dashed the enemy in pieces
Exo 15:7 s YHVH overthrew His enemy by the greatness of His power
Exo 15:8 s YHVH made the waters stand upright
Exo 15:9 s The enemy said I will pursue and destroy them
Exo 15:10 s YHVH made the waters cover them
Exo 15:11 s Who is like YHVH glorious in holiness fearful in praises doing wonders
Exo 15:12 s YHVH’s right hand caused the earth to swallow them
Exo 15:13 s In mercy YHVH has led forth His people whom He has redeemed
Exo 15:14 s Philistia will be in anguish
Exo 15:15 s Edom, Moab and Canaan will be dismayed
Exo 15:16 s They will be in dread till the redeemed of Israel pass over
Exo 15:17 s YHVH will plant Israel in His established place
Exo 15:18 s YHVH shall reign forever and ever
Exo 15:19 p Egyptians drowned in the sea + Israel went on dry land in the sea
Exo 15:20-16:10: Dance of Miriam + complaints for what YHVH has not done
Exo 15:20-21 s Dance of Miriam + Sing to YHVH, for He has triumphed gloriously!
Exo 15:22-26 s Israel complained of no water + waters of Marah (bitterness) made sweet
Exo 15:27-16:3 s Israel complained of no bread
Exo 16:4-10 p YHVH answered that He will provide bread from heaven
Exo 16:11-36: YHVH provides manna + Sabbath rest taught
Exo 16:11-27 s YHVH provides manna + Sabbath rest commandment
Exo 16:28-36 p The Sabbath rest is YHVH’s commandment + memorial of manna
Exo 17:1-7 p YHVH provides water from the rock at Massah and Meribah
Exo 17:8-13 p Amalek fought with Israel + Joshua defeated Amalek
Exo 17:14-16 p YHVH will have war with Amalek from generation to generation
1a) Exo 13:17-18a, God led Israel by the way of the wilderness;
1b) Exo 13:18b, Israel went up from Egypt;
central axis) Exo 13:19, Moses took the bones of Joseph with him;
2b) Exo 13:20, Israel encamped at Etham;
2a) Exo 13:21-22 (p), God led Israel in a pillar of cloud and fire.
1a) Exo 14:1-15:21 (p+p+p+p+s), War with Egypt + YHVH’s triumph + memorialized;
1b) Exo 15:22-26 (s), Contention at the waters of Marah;
1c) Exo 15:27-16:1, Israel came to Elim (12 wells + 70 palm trees);
1d) Exo 16:2-3 (s), Lack of bread in the wilderness;
1e) Exo 16:4-5, YHVH will rain bread from heaven + that He may test them;
1f) Exo 16:6-12, Israel saw the glory of YHVH;
1g) Exo 16:13-15, Manna from heaven;
1h) Exo 16:16a, The thing that YHVH has commanded;
central axis) Exo 16:16b-27 (p+s): gathering manna day by day Exo 16:16b-21 + not gathering manna on the Sabbath day Exo 16:22-27; i.e., Sabbath rest instituted and taught;
2h) Exo 16:28-30, Sabbath rest is YHVH’s commandment;
2g) Exo 16:31, Israel called its name Manna;
2f) Exo 16:32, That future generations may see the bread from heaven;
2e) Exo 16:33-34, Aaron will keep bread from heaven + as a Testimony;
2d) Exo 16:35a, Provision of bread in the wilderness;
2c) Exo 16:35b-36 (p), Until Israel came to Canaan;
2b) Exo 17:1-7 (p), Contention at the waters of Massah and Meribah;
2a) Exo 17:8-16 (p+p), War with Amalek + YHVH’s triumph + memorialized.
There are smaller structures within it which I have not worked out yet, but I can see some of the elements. The Song of Moses plus the Dance of Miriam makes a structure. I also find it interesting that in the beginning of Exo 14, Israel faced a challenge which inspired fear (Pharaoh and the army of the Egyptians) and YHVH’s answer to them was that He would deliver them. In other words, Trust Me! I have got this! Then in Exo 15:27, Israel faced a challenge which inspired complaints (no bread) and YHVH’s answer to them was that He would provide bread for them. In other words, Trust Me! I have got this!
Interesting that I cannot make a single chaistic structure from the beginning of the parashah to the end. This is intentional, as God does not want us to miss the message of the little chiastic structure all by itself from the single strong paragraph at the beginning of the parashah! Dwelling on this: YHVH led Israel to these places of challenge. He purposely took them by a way that would trap Israel between Pharaoh and the sea. He knew that there was no water or no bread in the wilderness. Why does He lead His people, whom He loves, to places of lack, places of fear, places of testing?
To show Himself strong on our behalf. To triumph gloriously over our enemies. To provide water, and bread. To teach us to rest in Him rather than complain about our circumstances or our lives. All we have to do, is ask!