shiur: parashas Beshalach 5782
“The pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, departed not from before the people.” – Exodus 13:22, JPS 1917 Tanach
Upon departing from their former lives as slaves in Egypt, B’nei Yisrael was provided with H’Shem’s presence in the form of “the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night.” Upon reaching the edge of the Sea of Reeds, “the angel of G-d, who went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud removed from before them, and stood behind them” (Exodus 14:19, JPS 1917 Tanach).
The Angel of G-d appears to be synonymous with the pillar of fire. One way to view this may be as the Angel of G-d actually standing between the Israelite camp and the camp of the Egyptian army. The pillar of cloud obscured the Israelite camp from the reach of the Egyptians. And, the Angel of G-d provided spiritual protection. Also, the Angel of G-d continued to accompany B’nei Yisrael on their journey through the desert:
“In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and, He bore them, and carried them all the days of old.”
– Isaiah 63:9, JPS 1917 Tanach