WEEKLY SCRIPTURE READING
Torah Portion: Parashat Shemot (“names”)
Shabbat: Jan. 14, 2023 / Tevet 21, 5783
Torah: Exod. 1:1-6:1
Prophets: Isa. 27:6-28:13 ; 29:22-23
New Covenant: Acts 7:17-35 ; 1Cor. 14:18-25
TODAY’S PRAYER OF AGREEMENT
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength”. Deut. 6:4-5
The Book of Exodus (סֵפֶר שְׁמוֹת) begins directly where the book of Genesis left off, by listing the "names" (shemot) of the descendants of Israel (i.e., Jacob) who came down to Egypt to dwell in the land of Goshen. Over time Jacob's family flourished and multiplied so greatly that the new king of Egypt – who did not "remember" Joseph - regarded them as a threat and decided to enslave them. The story is then told of the birth of Moses and how he was miraculously delivered from the waters of the Nile River to become a prince of Egypt.
The Torah's narrative then jumps ahead many years to tell the story of how Moses killed an Egyptian taskmaster who was abusing an Israelite slave - an act of treason that caused him to become an enemy of Pharaoh's court. Moses then fled to the desert region of Midian where he rescued Zipporah, the daughter of a Midianite priest named Yitro (i.e., Jethro). Not long afterward, Moses began to work for Jethro, married his daughter Zipporah, and had a son named Gershom.
After nearly 40 years living in Midian as a shepherd, God called out to Moses from the midst of a burning bush and commissioned him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt back to the Promised Land. When a bewildered Moses protested that he was inadequate for this task, God gave him three "signs" to authenticate his message. God also appointed his brother Aaron to be his spokesperson. Moses and Aaron then went to the Pharaoh and demanded that the Israelites be permitted to leave Egypt to worship the LORD in the desert. The Pharaoh, however, arrogantly dismissed Moses and his God, and increased the workload of the slaves by forcing them to make bricks without straw.
As the Israelites suffered even more, Moses despaired over his mission and asked the LORD why he sent him to Pharaoh in the first place: "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 replied to Moses, "Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for he shall let the people go because of a greater might; indeed, because of a greater might he shall drive them from his land" (Exod. 6:1).