Shemot/ Shemos (Names)
Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23 (Haftarah)
As we continue our journey in the Torah Portions, we will have a better understanding of why “Names” are important to Hashem. The ones who love and give glory to Hashem, their names become very important to HIM.
It is amazing how Genesis and Exodus are tied together! As we delve into this Parshah you’ll be able to see the connections in the Creation Story. Hashem separated the light from the darkness, and it happened again in Exodus when Hashem separated the Israelites (with light), and Mitsrayim (Egypt) with darkness. As we study these Portions, you’ll often see a phrase that is used often: seeing, saw, or to see. It is more than just seeing with the eyes, but to actually see within, taking notice, and having empathy for others.
I find the following connections (patterns) very exciting: The Ark that Noah built under the direction of Elokim and the Ark (basket) that Moses floated in, in the reeds were both covered in tar and pitch—the exact same substance! Moses, as a baby, floated along the Nile in the reeds, and when Elokim used him as the Deliverer, they were taken through the water—the Reed Sea.
Looking back, when Joseph (Yosef) was in Egypt with his family, life was good. They were taken very well care of so why would they want to go to the Promised Land? Isn’t it interesting to note that we tend to be like that too? When life is going great and everything seems to be going our way (in our comfort zone), do we like to be moved into a different place or given a different agenda? Hummmm.
Let’s continue on our exciting study of Moshe (Moses) in Exodus and see what it is that Hashem calls for.
~These are the names of the people who are exiting Mitsrayim (Egypt) ~
“‘These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each coming with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. The total number of persons that were of Jacob’s issue came to seventy, Joseph being already in Egypt. Joseph died, and all his brothers, and all that generation. But the Israelites were fertile and prolific; they multiplied and increased very greatly, so that the land was filled with them. A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are much too numerous for us. Let us deal shrewdly with them, so that they may not increase; otherwise in the event of war they may join our enemies in fighting against us and rise from the ground.” So they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor; and they built garrison cities for Pharaoh: Pithom and Raamses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they increased and spread out, so that the [Egyptians] came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians ruthlessly imposed upon the Israelites the various labors that they made them perform. Ruthlessly they made life bitter for them with harsh labor at mortar and bricks and with all sorts of tasks in the field. The king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, saying, “When you deliver the Hebrew women, look at the birthstool: if it is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, fearing G-d, did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, letting the boys live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women: they are vigorous. Before the midwife can come to them, they have given birth.” And G-d dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and increased greatly. And because the midwives feared G-d, He established households for them. Then Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, “Every boy that is born you shall throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.’” (Exodus 1:1-22)
The Pharaoh decreed all of the baby boys to be cast into the river, but to keep the female children. To cast out is a very strong word as in to “throw out the trash.” A decree to kill children is a very evil act; having much violence, fear, and hate. The meaning behind the name of “Pharaoh” is “The mouth of evil being spoken. “Pharaoh’s name isn’t mentioned, but the names of the two Hebrew midwives, Shifrah and Pu‘ah, mean Shofar and Beautiful. The midwives were given an order to kill all baby boys born. That would have been very scary and tragic, but they had a greater fear for Elokim. They refused to kill the baby boys. The Israelites grew abundantly and multiplied.
The women of Israel actually set the foundation….
“Pharaoh’s plans for the annihilation of the Israelite children are defeated by women—the human feelings of the midwives, and the tender sympathy of a woman of a royal birth, and a sister’s watchfulness in extremity. It was to the merit of the pious women that Israel owed it’s redemption in Egypt, say the Rabbis.”
A side note: Indecently on the count of “70” descendants, the mother of Moses was the “70th” (69 +1). Yocheved, birth mother of Moshe (Moses), was the daughter of Levi. Yocheved was married to Amram (grandson of Levi). Because of the age of Moses’ mother (130 years), she married her nephew (Amram) for a man young enough to father children [Yocheved was older than the age of Sarah when Sarah conceived]. Aaron was born three years earlier than Moses, Miriam was the oldest sibling. Moses was born just as they arrived in Mitsrayim (Egypt). Moses was born circumcised. Later on, Moses married Zipporah, who would later circumcise their son to save the life of Moses.
Yocheved in Hebrew means “Glory of G-d”. Moses’ father’s name, Amram, means “An exalted people.” Moses’ name was Egyptian, but Jews give names to their sons on the eighth day during circumcision. His Jewish name is believed to be “Tovia.” He was a “Goodly” child.
When the Glory of G-d is wed (Bride) with the exalted people (His Chosen) Redemption is our New Beginnings, called GOOD.
Yocheved could no longer hide her baby after three months (Moshe was three months premature). She made a wicker ark, coated it with tar and pitch, and laid the baby boy in the basket in the reeds of the river. She sent Miriam, his sister, to keep watch to where the ark went. The Pharaoh’s daughter was down at the river to wash (Mikvah). When she saw something floating, she sent her maidservant to get it. When the Pharaoh’s daughter opened up the wicker ark, saw a weeping baby, she took compassion upon the child and said, “This is one of the children of the Hebrews.” The sister of the baby asked if she should go and call for a wet nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child. Of course, she said “yes.” Interesting that the Egyptian women would have never done that, but a blessing they didn’t! Miriam fetched her mom.
The Pharaoh’s daughter told the woman to take the baby, nurse him, and to bring him to her when he no longer needed to be nursed. She paid her wages. The mother brought Moshe back to the Pharaoh’s daughter when he was older. He became the Pharaoh’s daughter’s son by adoption, named Moshe “Because I have drawn him out of the water.”
When Moses had grown and became great, he had empathy for others. He was able to set aside his “role” and have understanding and compassion for the feelings of others—he noticed!
He looked and noticed the burdens of the Hebrew slaves. He saw a Mitsrian (Egyptian) striking (whip) a Hebrew slave (his brother)/ Moshe looked this way and that way, smote the Egyptian, and buried him in the sand. And the next day, he broke-up a fight between two Hebrews (it would seem he wanted to resolve matters, keep others from being oppressed, and desired people to live in harmony). But when they asked Moses who made him the judge, and if he was going to kill them like the Egyptian, Moses became fearful that the Pharaoh would kill him and he fled to Midian. As he sat by the well in Midian, the priest’s (seven) daughters came to their father’s well to draw water, they poured water into the troughs to water the flock. Some shepherds arrived and drove them away, but Moshe stood up, helped the women, and watered their flock.
“When they returned to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come back so soon today?” They answered, “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds; he even drew water for us and watered the flock.” He said to his daughters, “Where is he then? Why did you leave the man? Ask him in to break bread.” Moses consented to stay with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah as wife. She bore a son whom he named Gershom, for he said, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land.” A long time after that, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites were groaning under the bondage and cried out; and their cry for help from the bondage rose up to G-d. G-d heard their moaning, and G-d remembered His covenant with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. G-d looked upon the Israelites, and G-d took notice of them.” (Exodus 2: 18-25)
Re’u’el is a title of Yitro- meaning “Friend of G-d.”
“‘Now Moses, tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, drove the flock into the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of G-d. An angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire out of a bush. He gazed, and there was a bush all aflame, yet the bush was not consumed. Moses said, “I must turn aside to look at this marvelous sight; why doesn’t the bush burn up?” When the LORD saw that he had turned aside to look, G-d called to him out of the bush: “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.” And He said, “Do not come closer. Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground. I am,” He said, “the G-d of your father, the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at G-d. And the LORD continued, “I have marked well the plight of My people in Egypt and have heeded their outcry because of their taskmasters; yes, I am mindful of their sufferings. I have come down to rescue them from the Egyptians and to bring them out of that land to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey, the region of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Now the cry of the Israelites has reached Me; moreover, I have seen how the Egyptians oppress them. Come, therefore, I will send you to Pharaoh, and you shall free My people, the Israelites, from Egypt.” But Moses said to G-d, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and free the Israelites from Egypt?” And He said, “I will be with you; that shall be your sign that it was I who sent you. And when you have freed the people from Egypt, you shall worship G-d at this mountain.” Moses said to G-d, “When I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The G-d of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” And G-d said to Moses, “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh.” He continued, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites, ‘Ehyeh sent me to you.’” And G-d said further to Moses, “Thus shall you speak to the Israelites: The LORD, the G-d of your fathers, the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Jacob, has sent me to you: This shall be My name forever, This My appellation for all eternity.’” (Exodus 3:1-15)
Hashem SAW that Moshe looked and saw the bush burning, yet Moshe NOTICED it was not being consumed. He didn’t just walk by it…. Not only did Hashem reveal to Moshe who He was by stating the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Jacob (Israel), but Hashem told Moshe His Name, which was never revealed to Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob.
This is my name forever; this is how I am to be remembered generation after generation.
WOW!! This is so powerful, and so humbling. Hashem’s name is above all others, Creator of all things– seen and unseen. Hashem wants us to personally know, believe, trust and love Him.
As I mentioned earlier, some may not want to be moved from their comfort zone. They may be too prideful, fearful, or set in their own “beliefs.” Only the Ruach ha’Kodesh (Holy Spirit) can set their hearts on Hashem. The Pharaoh was set in his ways, and his arrogance and pride hardened his heart from allowing Hashem to teach him differently (though he learned later—the hard way).
We need to remain teachable so that our hearts don’t harden from learning Torah.
At the burning bush, Moshe was given Hashem’s word that He would be with Moses, and would be his voice. He said, “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh [I am/will be what I am/will be].” Hashem wanted Moses to be sure to tell the children of Israel that G-d has surly visited him…They would then know Elohim has sent the deliverer as Joseph told the people before he died –that Hashem would surly visit them and they would carry his (Joseph’s) bones out of Egypt. So this phrase was a secret code Pakod Pakadeti—I remember I remember! I have remembered to take you out of Egypt and to bring you all to Eretz Yisrael. And they would know it was true!
The amazing thing about this is the Children of Israel knew Moses had a speech impediment (his lips were burned with hot coals as a toddler), with Moses saying this Hebrew word, Pakod Pakadeti , perfectly, they saw a miracle had taken place!
“‘But Moses spoke up and said, “What if they do not believe me and do not listen to me, but say: The LORD did not appear to you?” The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he replied, “A rod.” He said, “Cast it on the ground.” He cast it on the ground and it became a snake; and Moses recoiled from it. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Put out your hand and grasp it by the tail”—he put out his hand and seized it, and it became a rod in his hand— “that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Jacob, did appear to you.” The LORD said to him further, “Put your hand into your bosom.” He put his hand into his bosom; and when he took it out, his hand was encrusted with snowy scales! And He said, “Put your hand back into your bosom.”—He put his hand back into his bosom; and when he took it out of his bosom, there it was again like the rest of his body.— “And if they do not believe you or pay heed to the first sign, they will believe the second. And if they are not convinced by both these signs and still do not heed you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and it—the water that you take from the Nile—will turn to blood on the dry ground.’” (Exodus 4:1-9)
I need to point out some interesting connections:
- Did you notice that Moshe “fled from the serpent” in fear and Elokim wanted him to overcome the serpent; yet in Genesis, the serpent ruled over man by trickery? We need to trust that Hashem has everything in His power! Interesting spin on this!
- There are (3) signs Hashem speaks of that will come into play. G-d is a G-d of patterns. Hashem gave three signs for the Pharaoh to see: The staff (serpent), healing of the hand and water turned to blood.
Let’s look a little more:
“‘But Moses said to the LORD, “Please, O Lord, I have never been a man of words, either in times past or now that You have spoken to Your servant; I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” And the LORD said to him, “Who gives man speech? Who makes him dumb or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go, and I will be with you as you speak and will instruct you what to say.” But he said, “Please, O Lord, make someone else Your agent.” The LORD became angry with Moses, and He said, “There is your brother Aaron the Levite. He, I know, speaks readily. Even now he is setting out to meet you, and he will be happy to see you. You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth—I will be with you and with him as you speak, and tell both of you what to do— and he shall speak for you to the people. Thus he shall serve as your spokesman, with you playing the role of G-d to him, and take with you this rod, with which you shall perform the signs.” Moses went back to his father-in-law Jether and said to him, “Let me go back to my kinsmen in Egypt and see how they are faring.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” The LORD said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who sought to kill you are dead.” So Moses took his wife and sons, mounted them on an ass, and went back to the land of Egypt; and Moses took the rod of G-d with him. And the LORD said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the marvels that I have put within your power. I, however, will stiffen his heart so that he will not let the people go.’” (Exodus 4:10-21) 
Do we sometimes feel as though we are not qualified to be called as Hashem’s servant? We tend to forget Hashem doesn’t call the qualified. He calls those who are available and willing. Why do we limit Hashem’s power to perform miracles through us? He called Moshe by name, showed him signs, and yet, Hashem’s power was still questioned. We do not always trust the ONE who created us. Our Nefesh (flesh) cannot see or know what is spiritual because the Nefesh only knows what is carnal. It’s important that we place our Nefesh under our heel, allow Hashem to lead, and always trust Hashem ways are good. When we allow fear to rise up, we cannot function correctly; giving into the adversary (Evil Inclination).
How many times have we said to Hashem “I can’t do it, I am not qualified, send someone else?” Let’s be mindful and trust our Creator has a purpose and a plan for each and everyone one of us. Hashem loves and wants to bless us with great rewards. I think Moshe felt very intimidated having a speech impediment, unknowingly to what he was actually doing; placing his problems above Hashem’s capabilities (pride).
When G-d “hardened” Pharaoh’s heart, in the Hebrew, “hardened” means to strengthen. Elohim didn’t want the Pharaoh to give up his challenge and just let G-d have His way out of fear. Hashem wanted Pharaoh to have a change of heart, to turn his direction to Hashem’s way, and to repent. Hashem knew Pharaoh would need the strength to able to stand up against G-d without feeling fearful. Hashem “strengthened/ chazak” Pharaoh’s heart. The difference is: G-d strengthened Pharaoh’s heart, and when Pharaoh hardened his own heart, he let pride and arrogance rule him.
The Israelites only experienced the first three signs, while Egypt experienced the last seven as well. The Israelites were given light; they were covered (protected) while Egypt was not under Hashem’s covering. Of course, the lamb’s blood and blood from the circumcised males were placed on the door posts for death to Passover. Pesach is one of the commanded festivals to be kept for all generations. Hashem separates before the in-gathering.
I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you…
“Then the humble shall have increasing joy through the LORD, And the neediest of men shall exult In the Holy One of Israel. For the tyrant shall be no more, The scoffer shall cease to be; And those diligent for evil shall be wiped out, Who cause men to lose their lawsuits, Laying a snare for the arbiter at the gate, And wronging by falsehood Him who was in the right. Assuredly, thus said the LORD to the House of Jacob, Who redeemed Abraham: No more shall Jacob be shamed, No longer his face grow pale. For when he—that is, his children—behold what My hands have wrought in his midst, they will hallow My name. Men will hallow the Holy One of Jacob And stand in awe of the God of Israel.” (Isaiah 29: 19-23)
We have worked through this Parshah. Hopefully, more connections were made. It is so humbling and amazing how much love Hashem has for us. It is hard to understand how a G-d with so much Power and Glory, WHO is full of Majesty, loves us with an indescribable compassion. Very humbling.
 Exodus 1:1-22, Sefaria
 Exodus 2:18-25, Sefaria
 Exodus 3:1-15, Sefaria
 Exodus 4:1-9, Sefaria
 Exodus 4: 10-21, Sefaria
 Isaiah 29: 19-23, Sefaria