Ex 1:1 – 6:1
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)
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