“Man is free, but everywhere he is in chains,” wrote a French philosopher in the mid-18th century, setting off a firestorm in Europe against monarchy.1 But more the three thousand years earlier, a greater shockwave resounded from within the superpower empire of Mitzraim.
This week’s Torah portion is שמות Shemot (“names,” Exodus 1:1–6:1).
The traditional complementary reading (haftarah) for Shemot is Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23.
The following are notes and recordings of studies by Hallel Fellowship teachers on passages in Shemot.
We don’t know for sure which pharaoh helped raise Moshe or which pharaoh Moses confronted to free the ancient Israelis from slavery. But in the following recorded discussion of the Torah reading Shemot is Heaven’s pattern for the Mashiakh Who delivers all from the bondage of living apart from the Creator.
If we can choose just one word to summarize the book of Exodus, it’s reconciliation. God used Moshe (Moses) to bring the descendants of Israel out of Egypt to be His people.
Even after the golden calf was made, God still wanted to reconcile to His people Israel, and Israel wanted to reconcile to Him. The people of Israel were willing to give much to be reconciled to Him to the point that Moshe had to tell the children of Israel to stop giving because the coffers were overflowing with gifts. They wanted Him to dwell with them.
God said through Paul that He began a good work in us. God will complete the good work. We are to be living stones. We will surround the Creator of Heaven and Earth and His Son, Yeshua (Jesus) the Mashiakh (Messiah). There will be no temple there, because the temple will be there all the time. The only temple will be the people He saved.
God ultimately used the Messiah to reconcile the world to Himself, no longer recognizing their transgressions. A clean slate, it’s all new. He doesn’t pay attention to our sins, transgressions and iniquities. We are to be ambassadors to reconcile people to God.
We need to look back on what we have learned in Exodus 1–6. Exodus is the most powerful book in the Bible because it reveals many aspects of God’s character.
One of the lessons of the Book of Exodus is that often, the good deeds of great men are “seldom remembered” while the memory of “men who do great harm” live on. This was true of both Joseph and Moses. As far as Egyptian history is concerned, both of these great men were rejected because of the arrogance of the Pharaoh.
We are blessed by God that we have the Torah from God Himself, who made sure their deeds is recorded for us. God has not kept His will a secret. It’s all in the Bible.
Try your best to ignore the cartoons and movies that purport to tell the account of Moshe (Moses). They take many liberties with the real record, imposing their own story lines on him. Important elements at the beginning of the book of שְׁמוֹת Shem’ot, also called Exodus, are God’s faithfulness to the promise made to Abraham that his descendants would face hardship but become a numerous people and blessing to the nations.
The first 80 years of Moses’ life are summarized in Exodus 1–3. It starts with his birth in Egypt and the end of chapter 3 tells us about his call to return to Egypt. The rest of the book focuses on the last 40 years of his life.
Exodus 4–5: Moshe returned to Mitsraim with Aharon; Tzipporah does emergency circumcision; Pharaoh rejects the first request for Yisrael to leave
Moshe (Moses) returned to Mitsraim (Egypt) and found Aharon (Aaron) was willing to help him accomplish the task God gave him to do. However, Moshe and his wife Tzipporah have a life-and-death confrontation with God first, and she saved them all by quickly circumcising a son. Once Aharon and Moshe set God’s plan into motion, they face Pharaoh and hit their first roadblock.
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Du contrat social ou Principes du droit politique” (“Of the Social Contract”), 1762. ↩
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