Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #13 Sh’mot (Names) Sh’mot (Exodus) 1:1-6:1
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 27:6-28:13; Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 1:1-2:3(S)
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews: 11:23-26
We start a new book with the introduction of Moshe, a Levite from both parents backgrounds. We read of his miraculous rescue from the physical waters of the Nile; his growth and transition from an Israelite raised in secular royalty, and his transition from a fugitive to the one who would lead the Israelites out of Egypt under G-d’s instructions, grace, and justice.
Moshe’s encounter with G-d occurred when Moshe was in the role of a humble shepherd, caring for the sheep of Yitro, who was his father-in-law (Ex.3:1-10). When Moshe came to the mountain of G-d (Horev), he saw the flaming bush that was not being burned up (Ex.3:2). There is controversy whether Mont Horev is the same as Mount Sinai or whether it is close to it. Both are called the “Mountain of G-d.” The term Horeb/Horev translates as “glowing/heat.” It’s name seems to favor it being the same as Mount Sinai as this is where G-d gave Moshe the 10 Commands. Deuteronomy 1:6 also supports Horev being the same as Sinai.
The Sages relate that the burning bush was symbolic of the Egyptian exile; that G-d was in this lowly bush, because when Israel is in exile, He joins their suffering, so to speak. The bush itself represents Israel that could and cannot be destroyed or consumed because G-d will not allow His nation to be destroyed. But more than this, YHVH/Yahshua predestined Israel (all true believers) to be the Bride of Yahshua discussed in Revelation. We can see one of the differences in perspective on biblical interpretation between the Orthodox and Messianic Judaism in that Messianic Jews study the entire Torah which consists of the (TaNaKh) and the B’rit Chadashah, from which to draw our Torah knowledge as we seek wisdom from Above in connecting the two covenants. This is not to say there is two different covenants, but that the B’rit Chadashah (renewed, refreshed covenant, is like amendments to a constitution. YHVH gave us the laws/commands and YHVH as Yahshua showed mankind how to apply them with grace that mitigates justice. Literal obedience will not make us “true Jews.” It takes obedience out of love; law and grace alluded to throughout the TaNaKh but made explicit in the B’rit Chadashah. Our Orthodox brethren do not read the B’rit Chadashah, thereby missing the other half of the Torah given by G-d. Another difference in the translation is the context of the word “Israel.” Indeed, G-d will not allow the Israelites to be destroyed. But “Israelites” are not all biological Jews. According to the commands, laws, and statutes of G-d, the TaNaKh and the B’rit Chadashah outline who true Israelites or “Jews” are in the eyes of G-d (see the book of Leviticus); Romans 2-3; John 14; Revelation (Seven-fold witness). These are but a few references that illustrate the reality that the term “Israel” has more than one context; another name for Ya’akov; biological Israel; geographical Israel, and all true believers Israel (Ephraim and Judah Israel; one stick in the future described in Ezekiel).
The burning bush also may symbolize the judgment of G-d that was about to take place for Egypt. The use of the word “fire” in the Bible often refers to G-d’s judgement. The fire by night and the cloud by day that led the people out of Egypt and through the desert may indicate the justice of G-d and the grace of G-d on either end of the Israelites (YHVH/Yahshua) provides one example supporting the fire/judgement relationship.
Let’s now explore another section of the parashah that seems to stimulate many questions. In Ex. 4:24-26 we read “At a lodging-place on the way, Adonai met Moshe and would have killed him, had not Tzipporah taken a flintstone and cut off the foreskin of her son. She threw it at his feet, saying, “What a bloody bridegroom you are for me!” But then, G-d let Moshe be. She added, “A bloody bridegroom because of the circumcision.” Some people do not understand this passage and why it is even in the Torah. We need to understand the importance of the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision.
Moshe set out for Egypt with his newborn son and seemed to disregard the command of G-d concerning the circumcision to be done on the 8th day as a consecration of the son to G-d. As a result of his complacency, G-d was going to kill Moshe had Tzipporah not intervened and circumcised her son. The Sages mitigate this mis-judgement of priorities stating Moshe had to deal with the dilemma of placing his son at a higher risk of complications had he circumcised him then left for Egypt only three days after the procedure or should he wait three days before leaving for Egypt? The Sages sates that Avraham met the three men outside his tent and ran to them three days after he had been circumcised. Just as hospitality was Avraham’s priority as a G-d fearing man, G-d must always come first in our lives. Perhaps there was a lack of trust on Moshe’s part that G-d would protect the newborn in spite of the trip to Egypt because G-d commanded Moshe to go. Furthermore, Moshe either was or had made lodging arrangements before circumcising his son (Rashi from Nedarim 31b-32a). The translation of the narrative also varies in the Chumash giving the event a different interpretation. In the Chumash, the translation reads “So Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and touched it to his feet (Adonai translated as Hashem); and she said, “You caused my bridegroom’ s bloodshed!” So he (Hashem) released him; then she said, “A bridegroom’s bloodshed was because of circumcision.”
This example of the differences in translations and interpretations serves to illustrate the importance of seeking out several credible sources in our Torah studies. Humans innately have biases that can be infused into research of any kind, with a tendency to look at scripture using eisegesis instead of exegesis. That is, looking for explanations or “proof” of one’s own opinion not necessarily based on facts rather than letting scripture explain and validate scripture. The take home message regarding this narrative is that G-d must be our first priority. All else will follow and we need not worry about the “what ifs.”
Haftarah: Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah 1:1-2:3
This haftarah speaks to similarities between Moshe and Jeremiah as they were called by G-d for their specific missions. They were both humble men who initially attempted to recuse themselves from their G-d-given tasks. G-d reassured both men that they were prepared for their missions and that they would not be killed at the hands of their enemies. Jeremiah saw a staff from an almond tree, a symbol described in Numbers 17:23 to designate Aaron as the man G-d chose as the High Priest before all Israel, and to represent that the legitimate priesthood would remain with Israel. Only the Kingship would be lost through their disobedience. Similarly, we need to accomplish our purpose in life which is to glorify G-d as did these great prophets. Our specific mission is made known to us at G-d’s chosen time, whether in our youth or in old age. We need to prepare our hearts and minds to take advantage of the opportunities as they are presented. Like Jeremiah, G-d is with us to rescue us (Jer.1:19).
B’rit Chadasha Hebrews 11: 23-26
This narrative ties in nicely with our conversation about Moshe’s delaying his son’s circumcision with the idea that it could wait until he got to Egypt.
(11: 1) Trusting is being confident of what we hope for, convinced about things we do not see. 2. It was for this that Scripture attested the merit of the people of old.) Trusting or “faith,” Greek pistis.
Being confident, Greek upostasis (literally, “that which stands under”), what gives present reality to what we hope for. In contrast to the rest of the chapter, which analyzes various “heroes of faith” chronicled in the Tanakh, this verse sets forth a basic function of trusting, namely, that by trusting we understand—or, as the 11th-century Christian theologian Anselm put it, Credo ut intelligam (“I believe in order to understand”). Those who refuse to take the tiny step necessary to trust in G-d cannot understand the most basic truths: the benevolent consequences of faith are not only emotional but affect the realm of the mind.
23 By trusting, the parents of Moshe hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw that he was a beautiful child, and they weren’t afraid of the king’s decree.
24 By trusting, Moshe, after he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose being mistreated along with G-d’s people rather than enjoying the passing pleasures of sin. 26 He had come to regard abuse suffered on behalf of the Messiah as greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he kept his eyes fixed on the reward.
The author devotes more space to Moshe than to any of the other heroes of faith except Avraham.
Verse 23 The parents of Moshe, Amram and Yoch‘eved (Exodus 6:20), hid him by placing him in a basket to float in the Nile, so that he wouldn’t be killed according to Pharaoh’s decree. In answer to their faith, Pharaoh’s daughter found him there and raised him as her own son, even employing the child’s own mother to nurse him (Exodus 2:1–10).
24–26 Moshe had every possible advantage Egypt could offer. Jewish tradition maintains that as the adopted child of Pharaoh’s daughter he may even have been in line for the throne. But he also had knowledge of G-d’s revelation and of his own identity as an Israelite and chose being mistreated along with G-d’s people rather than enjoying the perquisites of his position, until finally (Exodus 2:11–15) he was forced to flee for his life.
26 He had come to regard abuse suffered on behalf of the Messiah …. Moshe did not know of Yahshua, nor is there evidence that he had specific knowledge of a coming Messiah, Savior or Son of G-d, although he did refer to a Star that would come out of Jacob (Numbers 24:17–19) and to a future prophet like himself (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18–19). But Yn 5:46 says that Moshe nevertheless wrote about Yahshua. One may fairly say that Moshe suffered on behalf of all G-d’s promises, both those known to him at the time and that G-d would make in the future; and, after the fact, it is clear that this implies his suffering abuse on behalf of the Messiah. Sha’ul, in many ways the Moshe of his day, suffered similarly
He kept his eyes fixed on the reward, which was “not seen” (v. 1).
May we learn and internalize the truth that G-d uses those He chooses no matter their past for His glory and that we need only be good and faithful servants, making Him or top priority in all things.