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Weekly D'rash and Parsha Yitro

This week the Torah portion describes the people of Israel meeting with God and

receiving the Ten Commandments. However, it begins with Moses’ meeting with

Yitro (Jethro) his father-in-law. I have always found it fascinating that this chapter

is in the text. It would be a very natural thing for the text to go from chapter 17 to

chapter 19. The story of Yitro plays an interesting role in the narrative of Israel

leaving Egypt and arriving at Mt Sinai. Yitro is the first non-Israelite to respond

positively to the testimony of the deliverance from Egypt.

Moses told his father-in-law all that the LORD had done to Pharaoh and the

Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had befallen them on the journey,

and how the LORD had delivered them. Jethro rejoiced over all the goodness

which the LORD had done to Israel in delivering them from the hand of the

Egyptians. So, Jethro said, “Blessed be the LORD who delivered you from the hand

of the Egyptians and from the hand of Pharaoh, and who delivered the people

from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the LORD is greater than

all the gods; indeed, it was proven when they dealt proudly against the people”

(Exo 18:8–11). The deliverance out of Egypt is the primary testimony of Israel to

the nations. Even before the covenant and calling of chapter 19, we see the fruit

of deliverance: a Midianite priest seems to embrace the God of Israel! But not

only does he embrace the God of Israel, he immediately is a blessing to Moses by

offering him good advice about managing this people. Later, we read that Rahab

embraced the God of Israel and was a blessing to Israel.

How amazing that when Israel is given the covenant calling and the Ten

Commandments, it is immediately preceded by the mutual blessing between

Moses and Yitro. This is surely a foreshadowing of things to come. When the

Gentiles in Asia Minor hear about the deliverance brought about by the Messiah,

they embrace the God of Israel. In Paul's letters to these congregations, we know

that his desire was that the nations would be a blessing to Israel. Expanding on

this, all people who embrace Yeshua are called to be a blessing to one another. In

Messiah Yeshua we share a spiritual connection. As we read in Romans 12:4–21,

“We are members one of another . . . so we, who are many, are one body in

Messiah, and individually members one of another”.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Howard

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