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Adonai Rophekha - the LORD your Healer
Chagall - Creation

Adonai Rophekha

Further thoughts on Beshalach

by John J. Parsons

After God miraculously split the sea and saved Israel, Moses led the people into the desert, but after three days their drinking water ran out. When they finally found a water source, however, the water was bitter and undrinkable, and the people complained. In most English versions we read that after Moses prayed, "the LORD showed him a tree and he threw it into the water, making the water drinkable" (Exod. 15:25). Note, however, that the Hebrew actually reads, "the LORD taught him a tree" (וַיּוֹרֵהוּ יְהוָה עֵץ), suggesting the "teaching tree" (אֵלוֹן מוֹרֶה) of Abraham (Gen. 12:6) or perhaps even the very Tree of Life (עֵץ הַחַיִּים). What do you think Moses was taught? That the fallen tree would ultimately yield mayim chayim - living waters... 

Immediately following this episode, the LORD admonished Israel and gave them decree and a judgment (חק וּמִשְׁפָּט) in order to test them:

אִם־שָׁמוֹעַ תִּשְׁמַע לְקוֹל יְהוָה אֱלהֶיךָ וְהַיָּשָׁר בְּעֵינָיו תַּעֲשֶׂה
וְהַאֲזַנְתָּ לְמִצְוֹתָיו וְשָׁמַרְתָּ כָּל־חֻקָּיו כָּל־הַמַּחֲלָה אֲשֶׁר־שַׂמְתִּי
בְמִצְרַיִם לא־אָשִׂים עָלֶיךָ כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה רפְאֶךָ

im  sha·mo·a  tish·ma  le·kol  Adonai  E·lo·he·kha,  ve·ha·ya·shar  be·ey·nav  ta·a·seh,
ve·ha·a·zan·ta  le·mitz·vo·tav,  ve·sha·mar·ta  kol  chu·kav,  kol ha·ma·cha·lah  a·sher  sam·ti ve·mitz·ra·yim  lo  a·sim  a·ley·kha,  ki  ani  Adonai  rof·e·kha

"If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God,
and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his mitzvot
and keep all his decrees, I will put none of the diseases on you
that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer" (Exod. 15:26).


It is interesting to note that the Hebrew verb used to describe "The LORD your healer" (i.e.,  rapha: רָפָא) is later used to describe Egypt's eventual return to the LORD: "And the LORD will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return (שׁוב) to the LORD, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them" (Isa. 19:22). Healing, in other words, ultimately concerns teshuvah (תְּשׁוּבָה) - that is, turning to the LORD God of Israel for salvation (i.e., yeshuah: יְשׁוּעָה). It is interesting to note that the LORD directed the people away from Marah south to an idyllic oasis named Elim (אֵילִמָה) where there were "twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees." Perhaps Elim was a foretaste of olam haba, the world to come, when healing will be for all Israel as well as for the 70 nations of the earth (Rev. 22:2).

Of course our ultimate healing is comes through Yeshua, the Son of God and Savior of the world (מוֹשִׁיעַ הָעוֹלָם). As it is written by the prophet Isaiah: "He [Yeshua] was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastening that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed" (Isa. 53:5):

וְהוּא מְחלָל מִפְּשָׁעֵנוּ מְדֻכָּא מֵעֲוֹנתֵינוּ
מוּסַר שְׁלוֹמֵנוּ עָלָיו וּבַחֲבֻרָתוֹ נִרְפָּא־לָנוּ

ve·hu  me·cho·lal  mi·pe·sha·ei·nu,  me·duk·ka  me·a·vo·no·tei·nu
mu·sar  she·lo·mei·nu  a·lav,  u·va·cha·vu·ra·to  nir·pa-la·nu

"But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastening that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed" (Isa. 53:5)

Hebrew Study Card

Notice that the word translated "stripe" (i.e., חַבּוּרָה, "wound" or "blow") comes from the same root as the word "friend" (חָבֵר) and therefore we can read this as "in His friendship we are healed." Yeshua gave up His life for us so that we could become his friends... As He later told us regarding his sacrifice: "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Indeed of Yeshua it may truly be said, Yesh ohev davek me'ach – "there is a friend who sticks (davek) closer than a brother" (Prov. 18:24).

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