The Weekly D'rash and the Scriptures that we will be reading this Shabbat for Shemot from Rabbi Howard Silverman:
TORAH ~ Exodus 1:1-6:1
HAFTARAH ~ Isaiah 27:6-28:13, 29:22-23 BRIT CHADASHA ~ Hebrews 11:17-29
Toward the end of his life, Moses consecrated Joshua and commissioned him to the role of leader of Israel. He charged Joshua with the words “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you” (Deut 31:6). This is a powerful statement. Not only are the words powerful and true, but Moses is speaking from his own experience.
This week our Torah portion describes the birth and calling of Moses. Immediately after the story of his birth and young life, we read about the great courage of Moses (Exo 2:11–5:23) when he saves a Hebrew slave from the hands of an Egyptian taskmaster. When he realizes that this act became known, he escapes to Midian. It is here that Moses first encounters God. Moses learns that the God of Israel has chosen him to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt. He has no previous experience with God, and according to the text has no idea how he was going to do this great work to which God had called him. Moses does not see himself as a redeemer, nor really know or understand the power or attributes of God. Therefore he asks God what he shall say when the people ask him who this God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob really is. Moses is learning on the job that God is more powerful than Pharaoh, and indeed the one and only sovereign of the world.
It took a tremendous amount of courage for Moses to return to Egypt. He was hated by Pharaoh and mistrusted by his people. It took great courage for Moses to face his fears when he approached Pharaoh and said, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness’” (Exo 5:1). We know from chapter five that things do not go well. The Hebrew slaves are angry with Moses, and Pharaoh will not relent. God was equipping Moses and training him for his monumental task of leading the people out of Egypt and through the wilderness. God listens to Moses and equips and encourages him. The rest of the Torah is a biography of the life of Moses. In fact, the Torah ends when Moses dies. What we see in Moses is a man of faithfulness, vision, and perseverance. In the face of constant opposition and criticism, he obeyed God and was loyal to the task. What a role model for us!
We all face fears in life. Courage is a tremendous value that enables us to walk before the Lord in faithfulness and trust. For some people, courage may come more naturally than for others. But as Messiah followers our courage is rooted in the presence and promises of God. In Messiah Yeshua, we are empowered and equipped for the task! In the New Covenant Scriptures' Book of Hebrews chapter 11, we read about the courage of faithful people who continued the journey even though they did not see the promises of God come to their fulfillment. Some of them were martyred and others went to their graves having lived full lives but still waiting for the day of promise. These verses were written to encourage us to keep moving forward—always having our eyes fixed on Yeshua. Be strong and courageous! Yeshua is with you always, even to the end of the age!
Photo by Diogo Nunes on Unsplash
TORAH READING: EXODUS 1:1 – 6:1
1:1 Now these are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob; they came each one with his household:
2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah;
3 Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin;
4 Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher.
5 All the persons who came from the loins of Jacob were seventy in number, but Joseph was already in Egypt.
6 Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation.
7 But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them.
8 Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.
9 He said to his people, "Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we.
10 "Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land."
11 So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Raamses.
12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel.
13 The Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously;
14 and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them.
15 Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other was named Puah;
16 and he said, "When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live."
17 But the midwives feared G-d, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live.
18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this thing, and let the boys live?"
19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them."
20 So G-d was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty.
21 Because the midwives feared G-d, He established households for them.
22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, "Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive."
2:1 Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi.
2 The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months.
3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got him a wicker basket and covered it over with tar and pitch. Then she put the child into it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile.
4 His sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to him.
5 The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile, with her maidens walking alongside the Nile; and she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid, and she brought it to her.
6 When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, "This is one of the Hebrews' children."
7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women that she may nurse the child for you?"
8 Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go ahead." So the girl went and called the child's mother.
9 Then Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this child away and nurse him for me and I will give you your wages." So the woman took the child and nursed him.
10 The child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. And she named him Moses, and said, "Because I drew him out of the water."
11 Now it came about in those days, when Moses had grown up, that he went out to his brethren and looked on their hard labors; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren.
12 So he looked this way and that, and when he saw there was no one around, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
13 He went out the next day, and behold, two Hebrews were fighting with each other; and he said to the offender, "Why are you striking your companion?"
14 But he said, "Who made you a prince or a judge over us? Are you intending to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?" Then Moses was afraid and said, "Surely the matter has become known."
15 When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the presence of Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian, and he sat down by a well.
16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came to draw water and filled the troughs to water their father's flock.
17 Then the shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and helped them and watered their flock.
18 When they came to Reuel their father, he said, "Why have you come back so soon today?"
19 So they said, "An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds, and what is more, he even drew the water for us and watered the flock."
20 He said to his daughters, "Where is he then? Why is it that you have left the man behind? Invite him to have something to eat."
21 Moses was willing to dwell with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses.
22 Then she gave birth to a son, and he named him Gershom, for he said, "I have been a sojourner in a foreign land."
23 Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to G-d.
24 So G-d heard their groaning; and G-d remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
25 G-d saw the sons of Israel, and G-d took notice of them.
3:1 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of G-d.
2 The angel of the L-RD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.
3 So Moses said, "I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up."
4 When the L-RD saw that he turned aside to look, G-d called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."
5 Then He said, "Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."
6 He said also, "I am the G-d of your father, the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Jacob." Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at G-d.
7 The L-RD said, "I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.
8 "So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.
9 "Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.
10 "Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt."
11 But Moses said to G-d, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?"
12 And He said, "Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship G-d at this mountain."
13 Then Moses said to G-d, "Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, 'The G-d of your fathers has sent me to you.' Now they may say to me, 'What is His name?' What shall I say to them?"
14 G-d said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"
15 G-d, furthermore, said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'The L-RD, the G-d of your fathers, the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.
16 "Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, 'The L-RD, the G-d of your fathers, the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, "I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt.
17 "So I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey."'
18 "They will pay heed to what you say; and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt and you will say to him, 'The L-RD, the G-d of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now, please, let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the L-RD our G-d.'
19 "But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion.
20 "So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go.
21 "I will grant this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be that when you go, you will not go empty-handed.
22 "But every woman shall ask of her neighbor and the woman who lives in her house, articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and you will put them on your sons and daughters. Thus you will plunder the Egyptians."
4:1 Then Moses said, "What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, 'The L-RD has not appeared to you.'"
2 The L-RD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" And he said, "A staff."
3 Then He said, "Throw it on the ground." So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.
4 But the L-RD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail "-- so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand--
5 "that they may believe that the L-RD, the G-d of their fathers, the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Jacob, has appeared to you."
6 The L-RD furthermore said to him, "Now put your hand into your bosom." So he put his hand into his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow.
7 Then He said, "Put your hand into your bosom again." So he put his hand into his bosom again, and when he took it out of his bosom, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh.
8 "If they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign.
9 "But if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground."
10 Then Moses said to the L-RD, "Please, L-rd, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue."
11 The L-RD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the L-RD?
12 "Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say."
13 But he said, "Please, L-rd, now send the message by whomever You will."
14 Then the anger of the L-RD burned against Moses, and He said, "Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.
15 "You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do.
16 "Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as G-d to him.
17 "You shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs."
18 Then Moses departed and returned to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, "Please, let me go, that I may return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see if they are still alive." And Jethro said to Moses, "Go in peace."
19 Now the L-RD said to Moses in Midian, "Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead."
20 So Moses took his wife and his sons and mounted them on a donkey, and returned to the land of Egypt. Moses also took the staff of G-d in his hand.
21 The L-RD said to Moses, "When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.
22 "Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the L-RD, "Israel is My son, My firstborn.
23 "So I said to you, 'Let My son go that he may serve Me'; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn."'"
24 Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the L-RD met him and sought to put him to death.
25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin and threw it at Moses' feet, and she said, "You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me."
26 So He let him alone. At that time she said, "You are a bridegroom of blood "-- because of the circumcision.
27 Now the L-RD said to Aaron, "Go to meet Moses in the wilderness." So he went and met him at the mountain of G-d and kissed him.
28 Moses told Aaron all the words of the L-RD with which He had sent him, and all the signs that He had commanded him to do.
29 Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the sons of Israel;
30 and Aaron spoke all the words which the L-RD had spoken to Moses. He then performed the signs in the sight of the people.
31 So the people believed; and when they heard that the L-RD was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped.
5:1 And afterward Moses and Aaron came and said to Pharaoh, "Thus says the L-RD, the G-d of Israel, 'Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.'"
2 But Pharaoh said, "Who is the L-RD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the L-RD, and besides, I will not let Israel go."
3 Then they said, "The G-d of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the L-RD our G-d, otherwise He will fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword."
4 But the king of Egypt said to them, "Moses and Aaron, why do you draw the people away from their work? Get back to your labors!"
5 Again Pharaoh said, "Look, the people of the land are now many, and you would have them cease from their labors!"
6 So the same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters over the people and their foremen, saying,
7 "You are no longer to give the people straw to make brick as previously; let them go and gather straw for themselves.
8 "But the quota of bricks which they were making previously, you shall impose on them; you are not to reduce any of it. Because they are lazy, therefore they cry out, 'Let us go and sacrifice to our G-d.'
9 "Let the labor be heavier on the men, and let them work at it so that they will pay no attention to false words."
10 So the taskmasters of the people and their foremen went out and spoke to the people, saying, "Thus says Pharaoh, 'I am not going to give you any straw.
11 'You go and get straw for yourselves wherever you can find it, but none of your labor will be reduced.'"
12 So the people scattered through all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw.
13 The taskmasters pressed them, saying, "Complete your work quota, your daily amount, just as when you had straw."
14 Moreover, the foremen of the sons of Israel, whom Pharaoh's taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, "Why have you not completed your required amount either yesterday or today in making brick as previously?"
15 Then the foremen of the sons of Israel came and cried out to Pharaoh, saying, "Why do you deal this way with your servants?
16 "There is no straw given to your servants, yet they keep saying to us, 'Make bricks!' And behold, your servants are being beaten; but it is the fault of your own people."
17 But he said, "You are lazy, very lazy; therefore you say, 'Let us go and sacrifice to the L-RD.'
18 "So go now and work; for you will be given no straw, yet you must deliver the quota of bricks."
19 The foremen of the sons of Israel saw that they were in trouble because they were told, "You must not reduce your daily amount of bricks."
20 When they left Pharaoh's presence, they met Moses and Aaron as they were waiting for them.
21 They said to them, "May the L-RD look upon you and judge you, for you have made us odious in Pharaoh's sight and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us."
22 Then Moses returned to the L-RD and said, "O L-rd, why have You brought harm to this people? Why did You ever send me?
23 "Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done harm to this people, and You have not delivered Your people at all."
6:1 Then the L-RD said to Moses, "Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land."
HAFTARAH READING: ISAIAH 27:6 – 28:13, 29:22-23
27:6 In the days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will blossom and sprout, And they will fill the whole world with fruit.
7 Like the striking of Him who has struck them, has He struck them? Or like the slaughter of His slain, have they been slain?
8 You contended with them by banishing them, by driving them away. With His fierce wind He has expelled them on the day of the east wind.
9 Therefore through this Jacob's iniquity will be forgiven; And this will be the full price of the pardoning of his sin: When he makes all the altar stones like pulverized chalk stones; When Asherim and incense altars will not stand.
10 For the fortified city is isolated, A homestead forlorn and forsaken like the desert; There the calf will graze, And there it will lie down and feed on its branches.
11 When its limbs are dry, they are broken off; Women come and make a fire with them, For they are not a people of discernment, Therefore their Maker will not have compassion on them. And their Creator will not be gracious to them.
12 In that day the L-RD will start His threshing from the flowing stream of the Euphrates to the brook of Egypt, and you will be gathered up one by one, O sons of Israel.
13 It will come about also in that day that a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were perishing in the land of Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the L-RD in the holy mountain at Jerusalem.
28:1 Woe to the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim, And to the fading flower of its glorious beauty, Which is at the head of the fertile valley Of those who are overcome with wine!
2 Behold, the L-rd has a strong and mighty agent; As a storm of hail, a tempest of destruction, Like a storm of mighty overflowing waters, He has cast it down to the earth with His hand.
3 The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim is trodden under foot.
4 And the fading flower of its glorious beauty, Which is at the head of the fertile valley, Will be like the first-ripe fig prior to summer, Which one sees, And as soon as it is in his hand, He swallows it.
5 In that day the L-RD of hosts will become a beautiful crown And a glorious diadem to the remnant of His people;
6 A spirit of justice for him who sits in judgment, A strength to those who repel the onslaught at the gate.
7 And these also reel with wine and stagger from strong drink: The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, They are confused by wine, they stagger from strong drink; They reel while having visions, They totter when rendering judgment.
8 For all the tables are full of filthy vomit, without a single clean place.
9 "To whom would He teach knowledge, And to whom would He interpret the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just taken from the breast?
10 "For He says, 'Order on order, order on order, Line on line, line on line, A little here, a little there.'"
11 Indeed, He will speak to this people Through stammering lips and a foreign tongue,
12 He who said to them, "Here is rest, give rest to the weary," And, "Here is repose," but they would not listen.
13 So the word of the L-RD to them will be, "Order on order, order on order, Line on line, line on line, A little here, a little there," That they may go and stumble backward, be broken, snared and taken captive.
29:22 Therefore thus says the L-RD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: "Jacob shall not now be ashamed, nor shall his face now turn pale;
23 But when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, They will sanctify My name; Indeed, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob And will stand in awe of the G-d of Israel.
B’RIT CHADASHAH READING: HEBREWS 11:17-29
11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son;
18it was he to whom it was said, "IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED."
19 He considered that G-d is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.
21 By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict.
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter,
25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of G-d than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,
26 considering the reproach of Messiah greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.
27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.
28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them.
29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.