Torah portion: Exodus 1:1-6:1
Haftarah: Isaiah 27:6–28:13, 29:22-23
New Testament: Acts 7:17-27, Hebrews 3:1-19, 11:22-28
In last week’s lesson we spent some time considering the prophets’ declaration of a Second Exodus in the “acharit ha yamim,” which is Hebrew for “latter days” or “end of the ages.” Therefore, this year, as we read the details of the First Exodus, we will be on high alert, heeding Paul’s warning:
“For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”
It appears we may be indeed the generation “on whom the end of the ages has come”; therefore, we must be diligent to search the Scriptures that we may understand the times, as it is written of the tribe of Issachar (1 Chron. 12:32), and understand, as they did, what we must do.
These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob… (Exodus 1:1). This is an exact repetition of Genesis 46:6 when Jacob and his family entered Egypt, thereby initiating their exile. With this week’s lesson, the theme of exile is developed until the book ends with a great crescendo of miracles with which the God of Israel will free them and set them on a path to Mount Sinai, where He will propose marriage to them and issue the ketubah, or the marriage covenant.
Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt (1:2-5). The sages note that while the Genesis passage included all of Jacob’s grandchildren, for a total of “seventy souls,” this week’s list includes only Jacob’s sons. They interpret this to mean that Jacob’s sons, like Joseph, were equal to the task of keeping themselves set apart; but that their grandchildren were not. Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation (1:6). One of the sages explains that in keeping the commandments of Yahweh, Jacob’s light was as bright as the sun; and that in the darkness of Egypt his sons reflected that light of Torah as the moon reflects the glory of the sun. This is the whole idea of being the light of the world as Yeshua commanded us. But, as Jacob’s sons were gathered to their fathers, one by one, Egypt’s darkness increased, with one exception, which we will discuss momentarily.
But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them (1:7). By the redundancy of this sentence, the Torah informs us of the extraordinary fruitfulness of the children of Israel. The Stone Chumash emphasizes this even further: The Children of Israel were fruitful, teemed, increased, and became strong—very, very much so; and the land became filled with them. Israel, according to numerous commentators, was only in Egypt some 200 years, though the LORD promised Abraham, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years.” (Gen. 15:13). Those who arrived at this conclusion propose that the four hundred years were not all in Egypt; rather, the affliction began with Isaac’s birth, citing that Josephus and historical evidence agree with the shorter time, according to an article posted by Apologetic Press which discusses this subject extensively. http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=796
So, how did 70 souls become two to three million people in the space of just over 200 years? The sages submit that the women of Israel must have had multiple births with each pregnancy, even as many as six, which is why the Egyptians became so alarmed. Need I remind you that in our day women have given birth to as many as eight babies at one time? “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land” (1:8-10).
Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses (1:11). The word “taskmasters” implies that the Israelites were first required to work in the form of a labor tax. The Book of Jasher details Pharaoh’s treachery. Using the call of “patriotism,” he first lured them into joining their Egyptian “brothers” in fortifying Egypt against their enemies, and, according to the Midrash, made much show in laboring with the first contingencies to demonstrate his own loyalty to the state. Then, scheming to make these volunteer positions full time occupations, Pharaoh soon sweetened the pot by offering daily wages, to which the Israelites apparently flocked. It seems the shepherds of Israel became quickly accustomed to and dependent upon these wages. When, according to Jasher, the Israelites became accustomed to the work and routine, the Egyptians one-by-one, were pulled off the job. Perhaps, when the Israelites noticed, their reaction was, “Oh, well, that just means more job security for me.” Pharaoh, meanwhile, began to train the Egyptians as cruel taskmasters, the initial idea being to keep the Israelites away from their wives as a form of birth control. Eventually, the Israelites were left to do the harsh work alone and Pharaoh announced there would be no more wages. Thus, the door to Pharaoh’s trap slammed shut and the whips and flogs of the Egyptian taskmasters compelled the Israelites to remain at the jobsite.
Is there a parallel to this today? Have modern shepherds fallen into a similar trap? Where is it written that pastors or teachers are to be strapped to a payroll? While they are most certainly to be compensated, both Moses and Paul decree this to be done in the forms of freewill tithes and offerings. In other words, shepherding and teaching are a call of God and a faith endeavor. Today, as the Spirit of God is revealing the pagan additives to Christian worship and is renewing the cries, “Come out from among them and be ye separate” (2 Cor. 6:17) and “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4), shepherds on payrolls are finding it all too easy to make excuses for the mixture so as not to rock the boat. The LORD, through His prophets, has much to say about such shepherds, which you can read for yourself. (Isaiah 56:9-12, Jer. 25:34-38, 50:6, Eze. 34:1-28, Zec. 10:3, 11:3-5)
But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves (1:12-13). God thwarted the plans of the Egyptians. The more they were tormented, the more Jacob’s descendants increased, the more the Egyptians were infuriated.
Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families (1:15-21).
The sages teach that Pharaoh’s astrologers had determined that the Deliverer of Israel was about to be born (Sotah 12b). This, of course, reminds us of the “wise men” who came to Jerusalem to worship the newborn Yeshua, initiating King Herod’s decree of the death of newborn boys (Mat 2:1-12). An interesting view is that one of the midwives was actually Jochebed, mother of Aaron, Miriam, and Moses. The Stone Chumash translates this last verse to read, “He gave them houses,” and explains that, as a reward for their bold defiance, God caused noble lineage to issue forth from the midwives.
Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank (2:1-3). The Torah emphasizes that the parents of Moses are Levites. Before they are identified by name, they are identified by tribe. The Torah wants us first to understand that this family was specifically chosen because they are Levites. We should stop here to introduce a curiosity, though to do so is to get ahead a bit in our lesson. Did you ever wonder why Aaron was free to go and to meet Moses in the wilderness? Did you ever wonder why Moses and Aaron seemingly went back and forth to Pharaoh’s palace unhindered by his guards? Did you ever wonder how they could just “appear” before Pharaoh without his or anyone else’s permission?
The answer, according to the sages, is that the Levites were not enslaved in Egypt. According to the account in the Book of Jasher (LXV 32-34), the Levites discerned Pharaoh’s treachery and did not run to volunteer for Pharaoh’s work duty; neither were they enticed by his offer of a daily wage. Therefore, the Egyptians ignored them. This could be a very important principle for the last generation. The Levites went about their business and they were pretty much under the radar. The reason Pharaoh had power over the rest of the Israelites is because they had either left their flocks or because they became so accustomed to their wages that they gave up their flocks for an easier life! The Levites, therefore, were allowed to grow unhindered into a nucleus of people who maintained the ways of Yahweh (Stone Chumash, pg. 47). These are compelling ideas which deserve prayerful consideration.
In any event, confronted with the increased likelihood that her son would be discovered, Jochebed boldly moved in FAITH! The writer of the Book of Hebrews puts it this way: By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict (Heb. 11:23). Jochebed’s faith was not blind; her actions demonstrated an intimate knowledge of the Torah. That she constructed an ark coated with asphalt and pitch was not lost on the God who previously instructed Noah to do exactly the same thing. In doing so, Jochebed, though perhaps unwittingly, appealed not only for the salvation of her son, but for the very salvation of the world! If Jacob’s offspring had not been saved, the Messiah of Israel would not have come forth. Such faith does not go unrewarded! The very arm of Pharaoh’s daughter would be the salvation of Jochebed’s son, and, therefore, of the children of Israel! Nothing, nothing, nothing is impossible for our God!
The Torah does not reveal Jochebed’s name or Amram, her husband’s, until next week. God wants us to understand, first and foremost, that this couple are Levites. Let’s go back for a moment to the introduction of these saints, this time quoting from the Stone Chumash: “A man went from the house of Levi and he took a daughter of Levi” (2:1). Numbers 26:59 informs us that Jochebed was “born in Egypt.” Some translations read she was “the daughter of Levi,” some say, “descendant.” In the opinion of Rashi, Jochebed was literally the daughter of Levi, was conceived in Canaan, and, was the missing person in the total of seventy souls which we discussed in Vayigash. But, if Levi begat her on the last day of his sojourning in Canaan, she would have been 130 years old at the time of Moses’ birth, a miracle that far exceeds the birth of Isaac to Sarah at age 90. Since the Torah makes no comment on such a miracle, it seems more likely that it is said she is a “daughter of Levi” in the same way that righteous kings are said to be a “son of David.” Jochebed was bold and courageous, like Levi, who, along with Simeon, dared to rescue his sister Dinah from the clutches of Shechem. Last week we were prompted to revisit the events at Shechem due to an obscure reference to it by Jacob when blessing his sons. Could this be the reason?
Jochebed’s name means “glory of Yah” and Amram means “lofty or exalted people.” Their offspring, Aaron, Miriam, and Moses, not only led Israel during the plagues and the Exodus, but the Levites were chosen as special ministers to the LORD in place of the firstborn of Israel. Jochebed’s influence is seen in the zeal of Pinchas in the Baal Peor incident (Num. 25:1-13) and the unswerving dedication of Zadok and his sons to King David and his successors. According to Ezekiel, it is the “sons of Zadok” who will be chosen to minister before Yahweh in the millennium (Eze. 40:46,43:19,44:15). Yahweh, through the prophet Isaiah, declares He will take some from among the gentiles and make them Levites (Isa. 66:20-21). Once again, these are important concepts that need much prayer and consideration.
Jochebed was not the only family member to move by faith. And his sister [Miriam] stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children” (2:4-6). There is no doubt in my mind that Jochebed and Amram had circumcised their son!
Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. And 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 (Exo. 2:7-9). Even as a young girl, Miriam, like her mother, did not shrink back from an opportunity to be an agent of Yahweh. Talk about contrast! If the story in Jasher is true, the Israelites became enslaved for accepting wages from Pharaoh because they left their calling to their families and flocks; but Jochebed, was paid wages because she kept the charge to be set apart. When the screams of mothers whose babes had been snatched from their arms could be heard in all of Goshen, Jochebed kept her wits about her because she trusted in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns” (Ps. 45:5). The writer of the Book of Hebrews puts it this way, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict” (Heb. 11:23).
Jochebed’s immediate reward was the awesome privilege of being able to bring her son back home to nurse him and nurture him in the ways of the Hebrews. She and Amram taught him all that they knew of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They did such a complete job that Moses, though he lived as the Pharaoh’s own son, never forgot his Hebrew heritage. When Moses would encounter Yahweh at the burning bush, Yahweh introduced Himself by saying, “I am the God of your father [Amram], the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (3:6) There was no doubt in Moses mind Who was speaking to him. He had heard the stories of Abraham’s encounters with God, as well as of Isaac’s, and Jacob’s. He had been told the story of the tiny ark his mother built, of the tears and prayers of Amram, Miriam, and Aaron that soaked it, as well of God’s mighty deliverance on his own behalf, not unlike that of Noah and his family. He had been prepared as a tot that God would one day speak to him and that, if he would cooperate, God would use him for great things, just as He had used his forefathers. Moses was prepared from an infant to encounter this God. Young parents and grandparents, please take heed. To my deep regret, I squandered the opportunity to teach my son and to prepare him to hear the voice of God Most High. How many times I have wished for another chance to do this most important job!
When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water” (2:10). Here is another allusion to Yeshua, the Living Water, or Living Torah who is mostly known today by the name “Jesus” which was bestowed upon him by the gentiles, just like the gentile daughter of Pharaoh named Moses. Note also the hint of Yeshua’s resurrection, as well as the resurrection of the righteous. The root of the word translated as “drew out” is literally to pull out, as in from a pit or from the earth. This word is used only two other times in the entire Bible and both times it is an exact duplicate, which means we should be on high alert. I am including the Strong’s numbers so you can look this up for yourself and ponder the depths of these verses.
He sentH7971 from above,H4480 H4791 he tookH3947 me; he drewH4871 me out of many waters;H4480 H4325 H7227 (2 Samuel 22:17 AND Psalm 18:16).
Who was sent from above to Mount Sinai? Who was sent to Bethlehem from above? Who “took” a bride at Mount Sinai? Who was taken from among the gentiles to be the Bride of Yeshua? Can there be more than one Bride? Or Bridegroom? Who was drawn out of the water and who will be drawn out of many waters? This phrase, “many waters” has the connotation of a great and plenteous teeming mixed multitude issuing from the semen of many peoples from many places. In other words, like the vast and extraordinary multiplication of the children of Jacob in Egypt, this verse pictures, for one thing, extreme fruitfulness. But, there is much more here! These verses could be the source of an entire lesson. Please don’t miss the opportunity to study this out for yourself!
One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh… (Exo. 2:11-14a). And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds. When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand (Acts. 7:22-25).
Foreshadowing the Egyptians being laid in the sand at the Red Sea by the Elohim of Israel, Moses dealt swiftly with the Egyptian who oppressed his brother. That the text says “he went out to his brothers” is verification that, though he was trained by Egyptians and had every advantage in their culture, Moses identified himself as a Hebrew. Out of love for his people, Moses acted presumptuously when he saw his brother being mistreated, and, in the process, he killed a man. But, God, who “causes all things to work together for good for those who are called, according to His purposes,” (Rom. 8:28) would use this very human event to promote Moses to his next phase of training as Israel’s deliverer. But, I am pretty certain that Moses, at least at this moment of crisis, had no clue to that. Notice also that the text informs us of two Hebrews who were arguing. The sages conclude that the bitter persecution by the Egyptians was because of the Hebrew’s bitterness toward one another. It is so easy, in this time of restoration of all things, to look at our brethren in the church and our brethren in the synagogues and point fingers, or worse, argue. Beloved, we have not been shown these great and mighty things for such evil purposes. Instead, we are called to be intercessors for the Body to be made whole, and there is ONE BODY, ONE SPIRIT, ONE LORD, and there is one set of instructions for the homeborn and the stranger alike (Exo. 12:49, Lev. 24:22, Num. 15:16,29). May the God of Heaven speedily grant us unity in fulfillment of Yeshua’s prayer in John 17! But, in the meantime, LOVE YOUR BROTHERS!
But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and watered their flock (2:15b-16). “Midian” means “strife,” “brawling”, and “contention.” The Midianites were the ancestors of Midian, one of Abraham’s sons by Keturah (Gen. 25:2), and it is most certain that in Moses’ day they retained some knowledge of the ways of Yahweh, as taught by their father. However, as we will see, by this time they were reluctant to take hold of all of Yahweh’s instructions. By the time that the Joshua generation would reach Shittim, where Pinchas’ zeal blazed forth to the glory of Yah in the incident of Baal Peor, the Midianites had left the godly heritage of Abraham and become full-fledged pagans (Num. 25).
When they came home to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come home so soon today?” They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock” (2:17-18). Dear children, if you can receive it, here is a reference to a group of people who, in the future, will be allowed to “come home” sooner than the rest because they have been delivered from shepherds who drove them away from Living Water. Hallelujah! “Reuel” means “friend of God.” The next time we meet him he has a new name, Jethro; and an upcoming Torah portion is named for him. Notice also that Moses is mistaken as an Egyptian by the seven daughters, another allusion to the gentile “clothing” cast on Yeshua by the gentiles.
[Reul] said to his daughters, “Then where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread” (Exo. 2:20). Here, prophetically speaking, the “friend of God” is calling for the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel, a.k.a. Ephraim, inquiring, “why has he left the Man [Yeshua]?,” and urging Ephraim to come and eat the Bread of Life.
And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land” (Exo. 2:20-21). In contrast with Ephraim, who “left the man [Yeshua]”, Moses was content to dwell with Him. As in the story of Joseph, again we are presented with Israel’s deliverer taking a wife outside of the nation of Israel and giving birth to foreigners. Joseph’s wife, Asenath, was the daughter of the priest of the sun god, Ra, which pictures the utter pagans in the earth today. Zipporah is the daughter of the priest of Midian, descendants of Abraham in the midst of “strife, “brawling,” and “confusion.” Could this picture the Body of Messiah today that is so disjointed, confused, and arguing with each other?
During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew (2:23-24). Surely there was rejoicing in Israel when the evil Pharaoh died after some 60 years on the throne. Surely his demise would bring better days to the Israelites; but, alas, to their great dismay, the next ruler offered no relief. But, God knew! Yahweh had promised to go with them to Egypt. Isaiah assures us that “in all their affliction He was afflicted” (63:9). Yeshua said, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me” (Mat. 25:40). Just as Moses went out to visit his people (2:11), so was God walking among Israel in Egypt. Not one injustice escapes His eyes. Beloved, don’t think for a moment that God overlooks any evil done to you or that you do to another. The day of His vengeance comes! The deliverer was being prepared; but it was going to take another 40 years for Moses to learn to be a shepherd!
Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness… (3:1a). The “friend of God” has a new name. Of the various meanings of the root of the name Jethro is found “abundance” “rest” and “remnant.” Note that the shepherd of the flock of strife and contention took His flock “to the west.” And so it is that the majority of believers in Yeshua find themselves today in western nations. Moses became the shepherd of his father-in-law’s sheep so that he could learn to shepherd God’s people. Gone was the pomp and circumstance of Egypt. Gone were the fancy clothes, the servants, the exotic, the libraries full of Egyptian wisdom. Now Moses’ assignment was to come out from all of that and learn to be a shepherd, like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Midrash states that a person who pities an animal will show compassion to a nation.
…and [Moses]came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” (3:1b-Note that God waited to see if Moses would turn aside before He called to him. Beloved, we, too, are often tested to see if we will “turn aside” from our busyness to hear His voice. The Creator of the Universe humbled Himself to appear as a small flame in the midst of a lowly bush; but, later, in the Exodus, He will appear as the Pillar of Fire and Pillar of Cloud. In the constant fire in a humble bush, God’s acknowledgement of Pharaoh’s hatred and the torturous conditions Israel endured are pictured. But the fire represents not only their torture, but His presence with them, and His promise that Israel would not be snuffed out. Indeed, He made this promise to Isaiah, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (Is. 43:5).
And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (3:4b-5). Moses answers, “Hineni” which means “I hear you calling and I am ready to obey!” Horeb and Mount Sinai are the same location and is called the “mountain of God,” because it is there the Torah will be given to the Bride. Horeb means “desolate” and “desert.” There is no consensus on the meaning of Sinai, though “thorny” and “thorn-bush” are suggested. Note that here, the LORD tells Moses “do not come near.” In contrast, in the instructions for keeping the Passover in chapter 12, He will instruct Moses to tell the people to “come near.” This word, qarab [kaw-RAWB], will be used over 90 times in the Book of Leviticus in regard to the offerings that worshipers may bring to the Tabernacle. Note, also, that Moses is instructed to remove his shoes. Joshua received the same instruction when he encountered the Angel of the LORD (Josh. 5:15). A rabbinical source says that the priests were not allowed to wear shoes in the tabernacle or Temple.
And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt” (3:6-10).
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exo. 3:11) Moses refused because he thought no one would believe him. The years of being in the wilderness had removed all of his pride and presumptuousness. However, God promised that he would not have to do it alone. “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” (3:12) God promises Moses that His presence would be so real through the upcoming drama that it will be a continuous sign of Moses’ calling. Have you yet experienced that? Are you aware of His presence as you go about you day? It is so in my life and I believe that promise is for any who will offer themselves in abandon to Him.
Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘[Yahweh] The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations’ (3:13-15). At this point we have an anomaly in the Hebrew script—a missing letter. Since Yeshua promised that not one jot or tittle should pass from the law, until all be fulfilled, we need to look into this. Normally, the word translated as “forever” is spelled with a vav, which looks somewhat like our apostrophe: l’olam. Without the vav, this word is translated as “concealed.” But, to the translators, it made no sense to say that God would be concealed throughout all generations, when He had obviously already revealed Himself to the patriarchs. That is, it would not make sense until NOW! The angel promised Daniel that at “the end”knowledge would be increased. “But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” As we have discussed over the last several months, our Father is revealing in our days that it was Yeshua who appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yeshua quoted the above verse, in part, when He said, “I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM; AND THE GOD OF ISAAC; AND THE GOD OF JACOB (Mat. 22:32).
Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”‘(3:16-17). Think on this from Moses’ viewpoint. It has now been 80 years since he left Egypt! For the last 40 years he has been tending sheep in the backside of nowhere, raising his two sons, being a shepherd, husband, and father. And now, suddenly, God starts talking to him out of a bush! The sages believe this conversation took place over a period of seven days while the two of them reasoned together. If this view is correct, does the bush represent the 7000 years until the “olam haba” [world without end]?
And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’ But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.” ( 3:18-22).
Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.'” The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. But the LORD said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand—”that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” Again, the LORD said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. “If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground” (4:1-9).
But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him. And take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs” (Exo. 4:10-17).
Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Please let me go back to my brothers in Egypt to see whether they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” And the LORD said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.” So Moses took his wife and his sons and had them ride on a donkey, and went back to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the staff of God in his hand. And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.'” (4:18-23)
Somehow, Moses’ objections were overcome and he surrendered to Yahweh’s instructions. He went home, informed his wife and family and started on the journey. But, God became so angry that He nearly killed him. At a lodging place on the way the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision (4:25-26). Here is the evidence that the priest of Midian [brawling, confusion] had departed from the ways of Yahweh. Moses’ son had not been circumcised.
The LORD said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD with which he had sent him to speak, and all the signs that he had commanded him to do. Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the people of Israel. Aaron spoke all the words that the LORD had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped (4:27-31).
Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.'” But Pharaoh said, “Who is [Yahweh], that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know [Yahweh], and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.” But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens” (5:1-4). Here is something to consider: Could this “three day journey” perhaps foreshadow three years in the wilderness in the Second Exodus? Didn’t the disciples spend three years with Yeshua? (For more info, please read last week’s lesson, Vayechi.
And Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens!” The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.” So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.'” (5:5-11)
So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. The taskmasters were urgent, saying, “Complete your work, your daily task each day, as when there was straw.” And the foremen of the people of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, “Why have you not done all your task of making bricks today and yesterday, as in the past?” Then the foremen of the people of Israel came and cried to Pharaoh, “Why do you treat your servants like this? No straw is given to your servants, yet they say to us, ‘Make bricks!’ And behold, your servants are beaten; but the fault is in your own people.” But he said, “You are idle, you are idle; that is why you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.’ Go now and work. No straw will be given you, but you must still deliver the same number of bricks.” The foremen of the people of Israel saw that they were in trouble when they said, “You shall by no means reduce your number of bricks, your daily task each day.” (5:12-19).
They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; and they said to them, “The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.” But the LORD said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.” (5:20-6:1)
This week’s haftarah portion speaks of the Second Exodus:
In that day from the river Euphrates to the Brook of Egypt the LORD will thresh out the grain, and you will be gleaned one by one, O people of Israel. And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain at Jerusalem… Isa 28:2 Behold, the Lord has one who is mighty and strong; like a storm of hail, a destroying tempest, like a storm of mighty, overflowing waters, he casts down to the earth with his hand. The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim will be trodden underfoot; … [Ephraim] will be like a first-ripe fig before the summer: when someone sees it, he swallows it as soon as it is in his hand. In that day the LORD of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people, and a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate… the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, they are swallowed by wine, they stagger with strong drink, they reel in vision, they stumble in giving judgment. For all tables are full of filthy vomit, with no space left. “To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the milk, those taken from the breast? For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” For by people of strange lips and with a foreign tongue the LORD will speak to this people, to whom he has said, “This is rest; give rest to the weary; and this is repose”; yet they would not hear. And the word of the LORD will be to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little, that they may go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken… (Isaiah 27:12-28:13).
We will continue this theme next week and beyond. Meanwhile, I would suggest you make a list of all of the verses in Scripture containing the phrase “in that day” which means “the day of the LORD” and in the Book of Revelation is called “the day of God Almighty” (16:4). Some of these prophesied events have occurred, some have not. Some that have happened are destined to be repeated, as we have discussed in the last several weeks concerning the “abomination that makes desolate.” My dear children, understanding history is critical to understanding Scripture, especially prophecy. We are the most blessed people who have ever lived on the planet because we have the ability to search out these things with the ease of no former generation. Do not squander your blessing! Until next week, shalom!