After Pharaoh sent the Israelites out of Egypt, God did not lead them straight through the land of the Philistines towards Cana’an (Israel), but rather towards the Sea of Reeds. Moshe was carrying Yosef’s bones, as Yosef had requested before his death. A pillar of cloud guided the Israelites by day, and a pillar of fire lit up their journey at night.

God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, who pursued the Israelites with his armed chariots. The Egyptians caught up with the Israelites, who were encamped by the Sea. Seeing the approaching army, the people cried out in prayer, and asked Moshe why they left Egypt only to die in the desert. Moshe told them not to fear; they will experience God’s salvation.

Moshe raised his staff; a wind blew and the Sea split. The Israelites walked through the dry channel, the water providing a wall on either side of them. The Egyptians entered the Sea but struggled to move forward.

Moshe raised his staff; the Sea closed on the Egyptians, drowning them. The Israelites saw the drowned Egyptians on the seashore. Together with Moshe, they sang the Song at the Sea (Shirat HaYam) which celebrates God’s miraculous salvation. The nation travelled on, experiencing three days in the desert without water. They came to a place called Marah, where the water was too bitter to drink. They complained to Moshe, who is shown a tree by God. Moshe threw the tree into the water, thus sweetening it.

The Israelites arrived in the desert and complained to Moshe that they were hungry. God told Moshe that he will send down a daily portion of ‘bread’ from the heavens. Moshe told the people they will also get meat in the evening.

The heavenly bread – called ‘man’ (manna) – fell between two layers of dew. Each household got a daily portion sufficient for its members. Moshe told them not to leave any over until the next day. Some people ignored this warning; their manna became infested. A double portion fell on Friday. Moshe told them to use the excess for Shabbat and not to go out to collect any manna on Shabbat. Moshe told Aharon to preserve some manna in a container, as a reminder to future generations.

The Israelites travelled to Refidim, but again did not find water. God told Moshe to strike a rock with his staff; water emerged from the rock. Amalek attacked the Israelites at Refidim. Joshua led the battle against them, whilst Moshe, Aharon and Chur (Moshe’s nephew) ascended a nearby hill. Whenever Moshe raised his arms, Israel overcame Amalek. Aharon and Chur supported Moshe’s tired arms. Yehoshua was victorious.

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