“Because there were no graves in Egypt, you brought us out to die in the wilderness?”
“You brought us out of Egypt to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?” (Exodus/Shemot 14:11, 17:3)
Notice the Israelites’ complaining, both before and after the dramatic rescue at the Sea of Reeds (aka Red Sea). In fact, it seems to be escalating. And it’s been pretty much non-stop throughout this portion, with the exception of the Song at the Sea.
Alan Lew, in Be Still and Get Going,* notes: “This line was, no doubt, uttered by the karmic ancestor of Henny Youngman.” (He is not the first to hear this echo.)
One might also notice that neither Moses nor God have overtly mentioned a plan for drinking water — although manna has been discussed at length and quail also appeared (16:13).
For a “lyrical commentary” — from God’ perspective — on this constant complaining, please see “Together, Today with a Desert to Roam,” composed for the occasion of my daughter’s becoming bat mitzvah, Shabbat Beshallach 5763.
* Full citations and additional information at Source Materials.
Click on the “WeeklyTorah” tag for more resources on the weekly portion throughout the year, or on a portion name for parashah-specific notes. (The series began with Numbers; posts for Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus are being drafted, week-by-week.) You can also zero-in on particular types of “Opening the Book” posts by clicking Language and Translation, Something to Notice, a Path to Follow, or Great Source in the tag cloud.
The “Opening the Book” series is presented in cooperation with the independent, cross-community Jewish Study Center and with Kol Isha, an open group pursuing spirituality from a woman’s perspective at Temple Micah (Reform). “A Song Every Day” is an independent blog, however, and all views, mistakes, etc. are the author’s.