Nachshon's Leap

The rabbis teach that Nahshon earned merit for the entire tribe of Judah when he leapt into the sea, earning his tribe the right to the kingdom of the house of David.

Image: Painting of splitting of the Red Sea, © Lidia Kozenitzky, via Wikimedia Commons

Beshalach

Regular Shabbat Readings

  • Beshalach (בְּשַׁלַּח | When he sent)
  • Torah: Exodus 13:17-17:16
  • Haftarah: Judges 4:4-5:31
  • Gospel: Matt 14:22-33

Regular readings above are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the current Torah Portion Schedule for all these variations, and special portions.

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Exodus 13:17 | The Pillars of Cloud and Fire
    • Exodus 14:1 | Crossing the Red Sea
    • Exodus 14:26 | The Pursuers Drowned
    • Exodus 15:1 | The Song of Moses
    • Exodus 15:20 | The Song of Miriam
    • Exodus 15:22 | Bitter Water Made Sweet
    • Exodus 16:1 | Bread from Heaven
    • Exodus 17:1 | Water from the Rock
    • Exodus 17:8 | Amalek Attacks Israel and Is Defeated
  • Prophets
    • Jdg 4:1 | Deborah and Barak
    • Jdg 5:1 | The Song of Deborah

Portion Summary

The sixteenth reading from the Torah is named Beshalach, which means "When he sent." The title comes from the first verse of the reading, which can be literally translated to say, "And it happened when Pharaoh sent out the people." The reading tells the adventures of the Israelites as they leave Egypt, cross the Red Sea, receive miraculous provision in the wilderness and face their first battle.


The Israelites understood that they were to escape through the midst of the sea, but the sea had not yet split. Jewish legend says that Moses bade the Israelites step into the sea, but they were unwilling to do so until Nahshon sprang forward and plunged into the water. He struggled under the waves and nearly drowned. As the water washed over him, the LORD instructed Moses to lift his staff and stretch out his hand so that the water might split. Nahshon then led the Israelites to safety on the other side.

The legend of Nahshon’s leap of faith hints toward Messiah. The rabbis teach that Nahshon earned merit for the entire tribe of Judah when he leapt into the sea, earning his tribe the right to the kingdom of the house of David: “Nahshon jumped into the midst of the waves of the sea, followed by his tribe. Therefore the tribe of Judah merited the kingdom.” (Mechilta).

What did Israel say at the sea? They said, “The LORD shall reign forever and ever” (Exodus 15:8). The Holy One, blessed be He, therefore said, “I will make him king because He was the reason they proclaimed me as king at the sea.” (Mechilta, Beshalach)

The rabbis compared Nahshon’s leap into the sea to the willing sacrifice made by Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego when they stepped into the fiery furnace. Nahshon acted like a holy martyr voluntarily accepting martyrdom for the sake of sanctifying the name of the LORD. Through his voluntary act of “martyrdom,” so to speak, he obtained the privilege of becoming an ancestor of the kingly dynasty of Messiah.

Like Nahshon, Yeshua willingly laid down His life for the sake of His people. His death brought forgiveness for transgressions. He became the “great atoning prince.” Like Nahshon, the Messiah is the prince (nasi) over the tribe of Judah. The Messiah is the archegos of life in that He was the first to pass from death to life. In that sense, the Red Sea can be compared to death. Just as Nahshon led Israel through the sea to safety on the other side, Messiah leads the way through death to safety on the other side through His resurrection.

Adapted From: Torah Club Commentary Set: Shadows of the Messiah. Learn more about Torah Club and how you can start a Club of your own, or join a Torah Club in your area. Visit TORAHCLUB.ORG

Join the Conversation:

Biblical Calendars

Bring the beauty of Israel to your home, congregation or ministry every day. This year we are offering two biblical calendars: A new special edition Lampstand of Gold art calendar, and the classic Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel) edition. Plus, full customization options for congregations and ministries.

ORDER YOUR CALENDAR TODAY


More from Beshalach

Torah Portions Library

Sign in to access the portion library articles, or:

Join the FFOZ Community and unlock the complete Portions Library »


Share this Teaching

This year Torah Clubs are studying the Gospels from a Messianic Jewish perspective. Every week Club members encounter Yeshua of Nazareth in his Jewish context. Discover the historical and cultural backdrops of the gospels and be amazed as the teachings of Yeshua snap into focus and clarity. Unravel his difficult words and parables; study Jewish parallels to his teachings; and ultimately know Jesus better.

FIND A CLUB


EMAIL NEWSLETTER

The Weekly eDrash

Get inspirational teachings on the Torah Portions delivered to your inbox free every week. Insightful commentary from Genesis to Deuteronomy!

EMAIL NEWSLETTER SIGN UP


Related Commentary

Torah Portions Library

Sign in to access the portion library articles, or:

Join the FFOZ Community and unlock the complete Portions Library »


© 2022 First Fruits of Zion, Inc., All Rights Reserved

FOLLOW US ON

First Fruits of Zion

© 2022, All Rights Reserved

Copyright Privacy Contact Help Donate