Parshat beshalah: The nature of the Divine

‘And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry out [in prayer] to Me? Speak to the children of Israel and let them move forward’ (Exodus 14:15)

Photo by: Painting by Yoram Raanan
Chapters 14 and 15 of the Book of Exodus are among the most significant in the Bible from a theological perspective; defining for us the fundamental difference between monotheism and idolatry. Chapter 14 opens with God’s instructions that the Israelites: “Turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahirot [the gateway to the Temple of Horus] between Migdal and the sea, before the Baal [master] of the North….by the [Reed/Red] Sea.”

How strange that the description of their resting place – which will become a sacred shrine marking the most wondrous miracle of the Exodus, the splitting of the Sea – be associated with two major idols, Horus and Baal Zephon; and to add insult to injury, the very same description is repeated only seven verses later in Ex. 14:9.

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