Parashat 13 Portion 46 – Shemot – Shem/Exodus 1:1-2:25

“In her penetrating analysis, Professor Leibowitz asks: What was the reason for the people’s exile to Egypt? Citing the normative Jewish understanding of evil, Professor Leibowitz states, “Like all other calamities that have overtaken us, this exile too was a punishment for sin.”

What was the particular sin of the Jewish people in this case? Their desire to assimilate. As proof of the people’s massive assimilation, Professor Leibowitz notes that when the children of Jacob first entered Egypt, they declared to Pharaoh (Genesis 47:4) that they intended to stay in Egypt only temporarily, “La’goor ba’ah’retz bah’noo.” Eventually, however, Genesis 47:27 reports, “Vah’yay’shev Yisrael…vah’yay’ah’chah’zoo vah,” that not only did the sons of Jacob settle in Egypt, they took permanent foothold in Egypt! (Heb niphal verb “achaz” – to be caught or grasped or settled).

Furthermore, the Midrash Rabba on the verse (Exodus 1:8), “Now a new king arose,” notes,
This teaches you, that when Joseph died, they [the Hebrews in Egypt] abrogated the rite of circumcision. They said, “Let us be like the Egyptians.” Because they did so, the Holy One, blessed be He, turned the love that the Egyptians bore them, into hatred…
The Midrash Yalkut Shimoni also confirms that the Hebrews of Egypt were entirely assimilated. On the verse (Exodus 1:7),”And the land was filled with them,” the Yalkut Shimoni explains that the amphitheatres and circuses of Egypt were filled with Hebrews.

The Ha’amek Davarpoints out cogently that, originally, Joseph had arranged for the Jewish people to reside in an exclusive ghetto area in the land of Goshen. The fact that during the tenth plague, the Al-mighty had to pass over the homes of the Hebrews that had the mark of the blood on the door, indicates that the Hebrews had forsaken Goshen, and were now entirely dispersed, living in Egyptian neighborhoods into which they had assimilated. Says the Ha’amek Davar, “the Israelites were punished for violating Jacob’s wish that they should live apart from the Egyptians in Goshen. The Midrash relates that they wished to be like the Egyptians. As a result of intermingling with them, they preferred to imitate them, and not be different. This is the reason why we [Jews] suffer persecution in every age, because we do not desire to keep apart from the nations.”

Nehama Leibowitz points out a keen difference between the approach of the Midrash and the approach of the Ha’amek Davar. According to the Midrash, the punishment that the Israelites experienced emanated directly from Heaven. G-d turned the love with which the Egyptians bore them into hatred. The Ha’amek Davar, who sees the punishment as a natural consequence of the people’s desire to assimilate, insists that the Hebrews brought the hardships upon themselves. The non-Jewish nations particularly resent the Jewish minority invading their economic and cultural life.

Professor Leibowitz refers to a number of Midrashim that regard the sufferings and the exiles of the Jewish people, not as punishment, but as a source of inspiration, one that serves a vital educational purpose. Citing the verse in Proverbs 13:24, “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” the Midrash in Shemot Rabba claims that whoever spares his son corrective punishment, drives him to delinquency and hates him. The fact that Absalom fell into evil ways is attributed to the fact that his father, King David, failed to correct him. Declares Professor Leibowitz, “Exile and suffering are here invested with the refining and purificatory character.” End quote.

See also:

Exo 1:1  And these are the names of the children of Yisra’ĕl who came to Mitsrayim with Yaʽaqoḇ, each one with his household:
Exo 1:2  Re’uḇĕn, Shimʽon, Lĕwi, and Yehuḏah;
Exo 1:3  Yissasḵar, Zeḇulun, and Binyamin;
Exo 1:4  Dan and Naphtali, Gaḏ and Ashĕr.
Exo 1:5  And all those who were descendants of Yaʽaqoḇ were seventy beings, as Yosĕph was already in Mitsrayim.

When we hear the names (shemot) of our “fathers” and what would “call” (Ber 49:1) them again in the last days, we remind ourselves that our call as present day believers resonates with their call. In other words, for the past 2000 years those whom YHVH has called can relate in many ways to what Yakov prophesied over his 12 sons. Modern day and end time believers are no better or worse than our Hebrew ancestors.

1Co 10:11  And all these came upon them as examples, and they were written as a warning to us, on whom the ends of the ages have come,
1Co 10:12  so that he who thinks he stands, let him take heed lest he fall.

So for example with Reuben we can relate to the call of sexual purity and the shame of sexual misconduct.
With Shimeon and Levi we too can relate to times of unkindness and how our actions deeply hurt others.
The problem with many believers is that they have short memories and often have hearing difficulties when it comes to their own faults and character flaws.  For YHVH’s set apart people the focus is always first to hear – “shema.” Today the focus of many believers is to experience blessings and miracles.

Ask the Ruach of YHVH to help you “shema” what He is saying to us through the other sons of Yakov.

Whenever the Father wants to deliver His people from bondage and establish His Kingdom and Rule on earth He seems to use a set pattern. He calls and prepares a leader or visionary; this leader lays down his life for this cause and for the people YHVH calls him to bring deliverance to.
The pattern seems to be the same; first 12 leaders then 70 messengers.

In the opening verses of this parashah we see this pattern established: First the fathers/leaders of the 12 tribes and then those with them which bring the total amount to seventy messengers or witnesses.

We see this pattern repeated with Moshe. He chose 12 leaders from the 12 tribes and then those with them totalling 70 men.
Num 11:16  Then יהוה said to Mosheh, “Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Yisra’ĕl, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them. And bring them to the Tent of Meeting, and let them stand there with you.

We see the same pattern with Yahshua. He chose 12 disciples and then those with them totalling 70.
Luk 10:1  And after this the Master appointed seventy others, and sent them two by two ahead of Him into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.
Luk 10:2  Then He said to them, “The harvest indeed is great, but the workers are few, therefore pray the Master of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.

It might shock some of us to know that Yahshua initially came only for the lost sheep of the house of Yisrael.

Mat 15:24  And He answering, said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Yisra’ĕl.”

We see a two- fold gathering in of the harvest: First the choosing of the twelve from the lost sons of Yisrael and the choosing of the seventy for the gathering in of the nations and the call to making disciples.

Mat 28:18  And יהושע came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Mat 28:19  “Therefore, go and make taught ones of all the nations, immersing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Set-apart Spirit,
Mat 28:20  teaching them to guard all that I have commanded you. And see, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Amĕn.

Yahshua did not die in vain. His disciples are found amongst all the descendants of the 12 tribes up to this day.

Act 4:12  “And there is no deliverance in anyone else, for there is no other Name under the heaven given among men by which we need to be saved.”

Php 2:9  Elohim, therefore, has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name,
Php 2:10  that at the Name of יהושע every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
Php 2:11  and every tongue should confess that יהושע Messiah is Master, to the esteem of Elohim the Father

Billy Graham was once quoted as saying:
“I think one of the first things I would do would be to get a small group of eight or ten or twelve men around me that would meet a few hours a week and pay the price. It would cost them something in time and effort. I would share with them everything I have, over a period of years. Then I would actually have twelve ministers among the laymen who in turn could take eight or ten or twelve more and teach them. I know one or two churches that are doing that, and it is revolutionizing the church. Christ, I think, set the pattern. He spent most of his time with twelve men. He didn’t spend it with a great crowd. In fact, every time he had a great crowd it seems to me that there weren’t too many results. The great results, it seems to me, came in his personal interview and in the time he spent with the twelve.”

Quoted in “Billy Graham Speaks: The Evangelical World Prospect,” Christianity Today, vol.3, no.1, p.5, Oct.13, 1958.

Exo 1:6  And Yosĕph died, and all his brothers, and all that generation.
Exo 1:7  And the children of Yisra’ĕl bore fruit and increased very much, multiplied and became very strong, and the land was filled with them.
Exo 1:8  Then a new sovereign arose over Mitsrayim, who did not know Yosĕph,
Exo 1:9  and he said to his people, “See, the people of the children of Yisra’ĕl are more and stronger than we,
Exo 1:10  come, let us act wisely towards them, lest they increase, and it shall be when fighting befalls us, that they shall join our enemies and fight against us, and shall go up out of the land.”

The book of Yasher gives some very interesting details about how powerful Yisrael had become and how they conquered armies who vastly outnumbered them. So they devised a scheme to enslave them.

Exo 1:11  So they set slave-masters over them to afflict them with their burdens, and they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raʽamses.
Exo 1:12  But the more they afflicted them, the more they increased and grew, and they were in dread of the children of Yisra’ĕl.
Exo 1:13  And the Mitsrites made the children of Yisra’ĕl serve with harshness,
Exo 1:14  and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all kinds of work in the field, all their work which they made them do was with harshness.
Exo 1:15  Then the sovereign of Mitsrayim spoke to the Heḇrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puʽah,
Exo 1:16  and he said, “When you deliver the Heḇrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death, but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.”
Exo 1:17  But the midwives feared Elohim, and did not do as the sovereign of Mitsrayim commanded them, and kept the male children alive.
Exo 1:18  So the sovereign of Mitsrayim called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and kept the male children alive?”
Exo 1:19  And the midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Heḇrew women are not like the Mitsrite women. For they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.”
Exo 1:20  So Elohim was good to the midwives, and the people increased and became very numerous.
Exo 1:21  And it came to be, because the midwives feared Elohim, that He provided households for them.
Exo 1:22  And Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Throw every son who is born into the river, and keep alive every daughter.”
Exo 2:1  And a man of the house of Lĕwi went and married a daughter of Lĕwi.
Exo 2:2  And the woman conceived and bore a son. And she saw that he was a lovely child, and she hid him three months.
Exo 2:3  And when she could hide him no longer, she took an ark of wicker for him, and coated it with tar and pitch, and put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the edge of the river.
Exo 2:4  And his sister stood at a distance, to know what would be done to him.
Exo 2:5  And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river, and her young women were walking by the river-side. And when she saw the ark among the reeds, she sent her female servant to get it,
Exo 2:6  and opened it and saw the child, and see, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, “This is one of the children of the Heḇrews.”
Exo 2:7  And his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Heḇrew women to nurse the child for you?”
Exo 2:8  And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” And the girl went and called the child’s mother.
Exo 2:9  And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, then I shall pay your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him.
Exo 2:10  And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Mosheh, saying, “Because I have drawn him out of the water.”
Exo 2:11  And in those days it came to be, when Mosheh was grown, that he went out to his brothers and looked at their burdens. And he saw a Mitsrite beating a Heḇrew, one of his brothers.
Exo 2:12  So he turned this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he smote the Mitsrite and hid him in the sand.
Exo 2:13  And he went out the second day and saw two Heḇrew men fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, “Why do you smite your neighbour?”
Exo 2:14  And he said, “Who made you a head and a judge over us? Do you intend to slay me as you slew the Mitsrite?” And Mosheh feared and said, “Truly, the matter is known!”
Exo 2:15  And Pharaoh heard of this matter, and he sought to kill Mosheh. But Mosheh fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Miḏyan. And he sat down by a well.
Exo 2:16  And the priest of Miḏyan had seven daughters. And they came and drew water, and they filled the troughs to water their father’s flock,
Exo 2:17  but the shepherds came and drove them away. Then Mosheh stood up and came to their rescue, and watered their flock.
Exo 2:18  And they came to Reʽuw’ĕl their father, and he said, “How is it that you have come so soon today?”
Exo 2:19  And they said, “A Mitsrite rescued us from the hand of the shepherds, and he also drew enough water for us and watered the flock.”
Exo 2:20  And he said to his daughters, “And where is he? Why did you leave the man? Call him and let him eat bread.”
Exo 2:21  And Mosheh agreed to dwell with the man, and he gave Tsipporah his daughter to Mosheh. 
Exo 2:22  And she bore him a son, and he called his name Gĕreshom, for he said, “I have become a sojourner in a foreign land.”
Exo 2:23  And it came to be after these many days that the sovereign of Mitsrayim died. And the children of Yisra’ĕl groaned because of the slavery, and they cried out. And their cry came up to Elohim because of the slavery.
Exo 2:24  And Elohim heard their groaning, and Elohim remembered His covenant with Aḇraham, with Yitsḥaq, and with Yaʽaqoḇ.
Exo 2:25  And Elohim looked on the children of Yisra’ĕl, and Elohim knew!

Parashat 12 Portion 45 Ber 49:28-50:26 Zech 14:1-11 Luke 23:13-34

This is the final parashah of Bereshiet – Va yechi – “and he lived” the sages taught that this final parashah of Bereshiet served as a transition for the next book of the Torah – Shemot – “names”  Yakov and his sons died in Mitzrayim,  yet we know that their future generations would live to re-enter the land of Yisrael – Kibbutz Galuyot – Amidah – ingathering of exiles.

It would be a few centuries before Yisrael returned once again to the Promised Land. Many would have died while waiting to return. This final portion although it gives the details of the deaths of Yakov and Yosef reminds us of the many descendants would come from them. It reminds us that there will be a resurrection after death.

    Gen 49:28  All these are the twelve tribes of Yisra’ĕl, and this is what their father spoke to them. And he blessed them, he blessed each one according to his own blessing.

When we read what Yakov had to say to some of his sons, it doesn’t sound like he was blessing them. Yakov understood the redemptive value even of their failures and short comings – see also the address of Yakov the brother of Yahshua to the 12 tribes.

Jas (James which should actually be transliterated as Yakov) 1:1  Yaʽaqoḇ, a servant of Elohim and of the Master יהושע Messiah, to the twelve tribes who are in the dispersion: Greetings.
Jas 1:2  My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
Jas 1:3  knowing that the proving of your belief works endurance.
Jas 1:4  And let endurance have a perfect work, so that you be perfect and complete, lacking in naught.

The individual and collective failure of the sons of Yakov and their descendants will have great redemptive value in the last days.

Rom 11:15  For if their casting away is the restoration to favour of the world, what is their acceptance but life from the dead?

Our Messiah taught that death was not final, but a stepping stone in reaching the purposes of YHVH.