3. SHABBAT READINGS & COMMENTARY

Friday, January 20, 2006 | 
SHEMOT (Names): Exodus 1:1-6:1; Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23

In this week’s Torah portion (Parasha) we read about another “Prince of Egypt” who came after Joseph. Moses was born into a world that had already forgotten about Joseph (1:8). Contrary to Joseph, Moses started his life in a palace, being brought to Pharaoh’s house at just 3-months-old, but he ended up living among the slaves as a Hebrew. Joseph started as a slave and ended as a king! Both men were men of God and were in the right place, at the right time despite the opposite outcomes. This was all to fulfill God’s plan to save His people.

God began this plan with Moses, (Moshe in Hebrew), the “Great Prophet,” whom the Jews till today call Moshe Rabbenu, Moses our Teacher. Moses lived a very symmetric life divided in three equal passages of 40 years: 40 Years as an Egyptian ruler; 40 years in his own preparation in the desert; and 40 years as the liberator of his people, leading them through the wilderness until they were ready to enter the Promise Land. His first 80 years of his life are described in our Parasha.

Moses’ parents, Amram and Yochebed, from the tribe Levi, already had two children: Aaron and Miriam. Miriam comes from two words, “Mar” (bitter) and “Yam” (sea), alluding to the bitterness of the Jewish plight at the time of her birth with Pharaoh’s decree to drown every baby boy.

The hidden baby Moses was found at the Reed Sea by Pharaoh’s daughter. She immediately knew the crying baby was a Jew because he was circumcised. Pharaoh’s daughter was barren and therefore wanted a child. So she kept Moses and God lead her to his true mother to nurse the baby. God reunited the family for awhile.

We also read in our Parasha about the courage of the Gentiles toward the Jews. The two Egyptian midwives, Shifra and Pua, at risk of their lives, hid Jewish babies and God watched over them (1:15-22). Thanks to them, many were saved. They should be remembered as Corrie Ten Boom or Oscar Schindler who saved many Jews during the Holocaust. They are honored on the Righteous Gentiles Tree Boulevard at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.

When he fled Egypt into the Midian desert, God remolded Moses from a prideful Prince of Egypt into a humble man, “more than any man who was on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). He learned to depend completely on God’s mercy. Then he was spiritually equipped and ready for his high calling as the deliverer of God’s people.

During all the years of slavery, “God heard (The Israelites) groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob” (2:24). That’s the same with us. We can be sure that God hears every prayer and entreaty, but He answers in His time and on His terms.

It took time for Moses to be accepted as an anointed man of God by his people. “Let my people go,” he demanded of Pharaoh on behalf of the Lord. Then came 10 painful plagues. Here we see the first power struggle – after the Flood – between the god of this world (Pharaoh) and the true God of Israel!

We also see in the story of Moses a reflection of Jesus, the deliverer from bond slavery to sin as the “Mediator between God and man” (1 Tim 2:5) who brings us through the wilderness like Moses into the Promise Land representing the Kingdom of God!

- Michael Schneider -

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