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Shemote Ex 1:1 – 6:1

We begin the second of the Five Books of Moses that comprise the Torah with portion Shemote (Hebrew for “names”).  Here’s the context: And these are the names of the Children of Israel the ones coming towards Egypt with Jacob, each and his household came. (Ex 1:1)

Synopsis: From re-listing the names of the sons of Jacob, the Torah progresses to the politics – there rose a king who did not know Joseph (Ex 1:8).  He oppressed the Hebrews and decreed to kill Hebrew newborn males.  One of these babies was protected by his mother, but when he grew too large to hide, she put him in a basket in the Nile where eventually he was discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as her own.  She named him Moses.  Moses grows up and he sees an Egyptian overseer strike a Hebrew.  He kills the overseer, then escapes to Midian where he meets Tziporah, daughter of the Midianite priest Jethro.  They marry and have two sons.  At the age of 80, while shepherding for his father-in-law, Moses sees a bush on fire that is not consumed by the flames.  G-d speaks to Moses from the fire and tells him to go down to Egypt and free the Hebrews.  Moses, the reluctant prophet, takes much convincing.  G-d assigns Moses’ brother Aaron to be his spokesperson.  Moses and Aaron go down to Egypt and speak to the Pharaoh.  Instead of the Pharaoh’s releasing the Hebrew slaves, he makes their life harder.  G-d tells Moses that He will show His power to the Egyptians and eventually the Hebrews will be released.