By Rabbi David Hall
Torah: Shemot, Ex 1:1-6:1
Haftorah: Isa 27:6-28:13, 29:22-23
Shemot means "names". These are the names of the seventy people who came with Ya'akov into Mitzrayim (Egypt). Remember that Yoseph was already there. During the 450 years in Egypt, Israel multiplied greatly "and filled the land with them". Even though Israel was in the land of Mitzrayim which ultimately became her place of captivity, G-d prospered her greatly there.
There always seems to come a king who does not remember. This is the way our flesh is toward G-d. How quickly we forget His greatness and wonderful works. Then our flesh wants to take captive our spirit and force us back into the old bondage we once knew. This is the theme for Shemot (Exodus). Even as b'ney Yisrael (the sons of Israel) left Mitzrayim they quickly forgot the miracles of the plagues, the parting of the red sea and the provision of water from the rock in the wilderness. Complaints followed, bringing discipline.
This new king (Pharaoh) decided to actively work against this burgeoning sect of people by having the midwives destroy the male children. The outcome should tell us what happens when we fight against G-d's plans, in pursuit of our own. The midwives feared G-d and refused to cooperate. Later, Pharoh was able to cause the destruction of the male children of Israel and only Jochebed (Moshe's mother Num 26:59) was able to rescue her son from this death threat, by placing him in a basket made of reeds and pitch. She floated her son down the Nile. The princess (daughter of Pharaoh) discovered the child and claimed him for herself. Isn't it just like our G-d to cause our enemies to be the source of our blessings? Jochebed was paid to raise her own son. Baruch haShem! As a result, Moshe was trained in Pharaoh's courts becoming an excellent leader.
Moshe defended a Hebrew by killing the guard who was beating him. He buried the guard in the sand. Moshe became frightened when he learned that other Hebrews knew of the incident and left Mitzrayim. For some time he tended sheep for Yethro, who became his father-in-law. Just like David, who tended sheep for his father Yesse before taking the throne of Israel, Moshe learned about leading people through the care of his flock.
Moshe saw an amazing sight. Exodus 3:2 "And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed." This is very similar to the description of fire given in Acts 2:3 "And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them." This is another manifestation HaShem.
The interesting thing is that the bush was not consumed. The sight was simply a confirmation that the mel'ech (angel) of HaShem was present and that where Moshe stood was holy ground.
Moshe is from the same Hebrew root, meaning "drawn out", the same root as Mashiach, (Messiah, Anointed, consecrated). Actually, Moshe is a type of the Messiah and did draw his people out of Mitzrayim just as our Messiah has drawn us out of our Egypt (this world).
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