Now we are going to do a quick overview of Exodus and try to pull all of this together. We will bring out many more concepts, phrases and idioms as we do this. Then we are going to take a look at the Exodus story in a more detailed way than we have done before. Again, we aren’t going to go verse by verse but we will go into various concepts found in particular verses that will give us a good foundation for understanding the whole Tanak, as well as the Gospels and Epistles.
In Hebrew, Exodus is called “Shemot” meaning “Names.” The names of the sons of Israel who went into Egypt are listed. There are are many who are “unnamed.” No wives or children are mentioned in the list. The nation will grow and the Egyptians decide to initiate their form of “birth control” and began to kill the male children. This leads us up to the main issue of this portion of Scripture, the birth of Moses and his rescue. This is a great moment in Jewish history, yet there are no signs or announcements.
We find out in chapter two that a “man” married “a daughter of Levi” and she conceived a son. Because of Pharaoh’s decree, the child (Moses) is put into a basket or a floating “ark.” It is the same word (tayvah) used to describe what Noah built (Gen 6.14). Moses is put on the river Nile and his sister watches out for him. The daughter of Pharaoh rescues him, and he was brought into the house of Pharaoh.
But there is a major message here. Is this the story of the Deliverer, who works wonders, defeats a nation, shapes a people and brings the Torah to them direct from the mouth of God? No, it’s the story of an unnamed man and his wife and daughter, who love their son and brother. It is the story of an unnamed woman who shows kindness to a baby.
Nobody at this point knew the plan of God and there is no evidence for anyone believing this child was anything special. In a book called ‘Names” in a Torah portion called “Names” the real story is the actions of all the “unnamed” people in this story who ultimately play a role in God’s plan concerning the First Redemption. The choice is whether it is more important to do something or make a “name” for yourself. It is not important how many people knew the names (or ours). What is important is God knows our name.
That brings us to another concept. In Exo 3.5 God tells Moses that he is standing of “adamat kodesh” or “holy ground.” We have dealt with this concept in other teachings. It is the second time the word “kodesh” is used in the Torah. The first time it was used the Lord was talking about the Sabbath. So, the Sabbath and the kedusha of Sinai are linked.
In Exo 1.11 it says that Pharaoh knew the children of Israel were multiplying and so he decided to “afflict” the Israelites. The word for afflict is “anato” which has the root “aneh” which means to deprive. Now, this can refer to celibacy. In Gen 31.50 the word “mistreat” is “aneh.” Jacob swears he will not deprive Rachel and Leah. This same concept can be seen in 1 Cor 7.1-5. Is Pharaoh going to inflict hard labor on Israel so that they are so exhausted that they will refrain from marital relations? Well, if that was the plan it didn’t work because the nation increased. As a result, he decided to kill the male babies, but the women did not cooperate.
What was the real battle here? God promised that Israel would be fruitful and multiply, and Pharaoh is trying to limit that promise. The real battle is over fruitfulness and the women are the greatest warriors. In essence, by refusing to cooperate with Pharaoh’s edict, they did have a key role in the birth of the children of Israel as we know it. Even the word “Egypt” is revealing. In Hebrew it is “Mizraim” and it comes from “meitzar” which means “difficult.”
In Exo 1.1 it says that these are the “names of the sons of Israel who came.” One of the words used for the fertility of Israel is “vayishratzu” and it means “swarmed.” This alludes to Gen 1.21 and “shartzu” meaning “swarmed.” They become very numerous and “nameless.” Pharaoh decreed that the male children be thrown into the Nile River (Exo 1.22), yet the mother of Moses buts him into the river to preserve him. So, a “son” in Exo 2.2 and river are joined together for the purpose of life, not death. The very instrument Pharaoh uses to bring destruction is reversed by God to bring about Pharaoh’s destruction.
To really illustrate how God will do this, the name “Moshe” means to be “a child of” or “created him.” In other words, the Nile “created him” or he is a “child of” the Nile. Pharaoh said his name everyday. Was he blind about his own edict of throwing males into the Nile? God had a plan and he wanted Moshe (Moses) to live. He made sure that Pharaoh never realized the obvious. Israel is the only nation to be born with everything going against it (Ezek 16.1-5). Their testimony is that they had a God who saved them (Ezek 16.6-14). We have that testimony, too. God saves us from slavery, very often by “unnamed” individuals. Exodus shows us that the Lord is a Saviour, Redeemer and a Deliverer.
In Genesis, we saw how the Lord led Israel to Egypt. In Exodus, we will see how he gets them out. We learn in Exo 1.5 that seventy people went into Egypt. The number seventy is the number of nations (Deut 32.8). This tells us that the descent of Israel into Egypt would affect the nations. This is a continuation of God’s promise to Abraham, and it was always his plan. The Exodus is God’s way to show Pharaoh, Egypt and all mankind who he is. God’s plan has always been beyond the borders of Israel. He uses Israel in the status if a “bikur” or “first-born” to reach beyond the borders.
We know things changed for Israel in Egypt. They were prosperous, but now oppressed (Exo 1.1-22). Infanticide is initiated, but resisted, as we have seen. Moses now becomes the first central figure after the patriarchs (fathers). Some have asked, “Why did the mother of Moses go to the Nile?” It was because babies were being killed there, so the river would be the last placed they would look (Exo 2.1-3). She also knew the Nile was worshiped, so a baby in a basket would look like a gift from the Nile god, and he was.
We have talked about how the women were instrumental in the plan of God to save Moses (his mother, sister, the maidens, Pharaoh’s daughter). At Yeshua’s resurrection, it was the women who believed first. God uses women in his plans. He also knows how to thwart the plans of the enemy. Pharaoh tries to kill Moses, God saves him and has him raised in the very house of the man who tried to kill him. He actually plays a role in Israel’s deliverance as he is trying to destroy them.
Moses is about 40 years old when he kills the Egyptian who was abusing an Israelite, and he flees to Midian. He is 80 years old at the time of the Exodus, and 120 at the time of his death, as Israel is about to cross into the promised land. God has a long range plan in mind for Moses. In Acts 7.9-37 we have more details about Joseph through Moses given by Stephen before the Kohen ha Gadol (High Priest). He has been accused of being against the Temple and the Torah by false witnesses, which means he was not against the Temple and the Torah (Acts 6.13-15..”Moses” is Torah). As a side note, Christianity does teach against the Temple and the Torah, and yet they will say he was the first “Christian martyr.” But, teaching the Torah and being for the Temple is a strange testimony for the first “Christian.” In fact, it is Christianity that teaches against the Temple and the Torah, and who alters the customs Moses handed down. Stephen was the exact opposite of that.
We learn in the testimony of Stephen that seventy-five persons came to Joseph (Acts 7.14). This seems to be a contradiction from Gen 46.27, but Moses and Stephen are talking about two different things. Moses is talking about the seed of Jacob, those out of his loins. This number did not include the wives. Stephen speaks of all of them, including the wives, etc (Joseph’s eleven brothers, and sister Dinah, fifty-two of his brothers children, and eleven of his brother’s wives). This number conveys the idea of an eschatological congregation.
In Acts 7.16 the two burials of Jacob and Joseph are “mixed” together as one to show how close they were. The “tomb” refers to two places, Machpelah for Jacob and Shechem for Joseph. This is an example of “block logic.” Stephen is giving the traditional teaching here and he shows in verse 20 the birth of Moses. We will pick up here in Part 65.