HafTorah Portion Isaiah 27:6-28:13
Shemot opens with the naming of the tribes and their journey to Egypt. The children of Israel ‘were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them. ‘Exodus 1:7.
A new Pharaoh reigned who did not know Joseph, and began to fear the children of Israel. He ordered the midwives to kill the newborn males, ‘But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive. 18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?” 19 And the midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.” 20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty. 21 And so it was, because the midwives feared God that He provided households for them. 22 So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is born you shall cast into the river and every daughter you shall save alive.” Exodus 1:17-22.
Enter Moshe. His journey begins in chapter 2, literally from the moment he is born. His shaping to be a man of God began at birth and the physical journey began at 3 months old, when he was placed in the ark. Exodus 2:3-4 ‘But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank. 4 And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him.
Moshe is brought forth from the water by the daughter of Pharaoh, nursed and raised by his own mother. He was taught and lived in the Egyptian culture, yet he was and knew he was a Hebrew, as did his Egyptian ‘mother’. He was being prepared from the moment of birth.
He flees to Midian after the events of the Hebrew and Egyptian, where he finds refuge with Reuel , is given Zipporah as his wife, and has a son. “He called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land.” Exodus 2:22.
In Genesis chapter 3, Moshe has the encounter with the burning bush and Elohim, where God declares to Moshe: I AM WHO I AM, Exodus 3:14. When Moses stood before God at the Burning Bush inquiring about His name, God understood how important it was that Moses was able to reveal to the Israelites this important piece of information. In response, God told Moses ‘Ehye Asher Ehye’ (אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה) or simply ‘Ehye’ (אֶהְיֶה). In most English Bibles this name is translated as “I Am Who I Am” or simply “I Am.” The fact that it begins with Aleph (אֶ), the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, is indicative of the future tense. Therefore this name can be translated ‘I Will Be Who I Will Be.’
Genesis chapter 4, Moses complains about his speech (which happened during the incident with the coal and Pharaoh when he was but just a child). Elohim reassures him, and sends him to meet his brother Aaron, ‘…and the Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went and met him on the mountain of God, and kissed him. 28 So Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord who had sent him, and all the signs which He had commanded him. 29 Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel. 30 And Aaron spoke all the words which the Lord had spoken to Moses. Then he did the signs in the sight of the people. 31 So the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.’ Exodus 4:27-31.
In Genesis chapter 5, Moses and Aaron encounter Pharaoh, where the battle of the wills begins. Pharaoh, at that time is not threatened by Moshe, but rather insulted, and increases the suffering of the children of Israel. Moshe and Aaron are blamed by the Hebrews at which point Moshe blames God: ‘Then, as they came out from Pharaoh, they met Moses and Aaron who stood there to meet them. 21 And they said to them, “Let the Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us abhorrent in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.” 22 So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.” Exodus 5:20-22.
The Shaping of a man of God.
Isaiah 64:8 ‘But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our potter; we are all the work of Your hand.’
Romans 9:21 ‘Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?’
Isaiah 45:9 ‘Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?’
Isaiah 29:16 ‘You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding?’
Jeremiah chapter 18
Psalm 32:8 ‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.’
Proverbs 16:9 ‘The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.’
Proverbs 3:5-6 ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.’
Isaiah 30:21 ‘And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.’
Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’
Romans 8:28 is an interesting verse. ‘And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.’ Would this verse go with Matthew 22:14, many are called but few are chosen?
When we are called by God, we then have the choice to answer and listen to that call and gratefully become the lump of clay, to be formed by Him. When we hear the call and turn our ear from hearing Him, we have chosen to not be chosen. Matthew 11:15 ‘He who has ears, let him hear.’
SHEMOT / NAMES
HafTorah Isaiah 27:6-28:13
Brit Chadasha Acts 7:17-35
This Torah portion begins a new book, the second book of the Torah called Shemot which translates as ‘Names’. This parsha begins with the names of the sons of Jacob who went to Egypt, ‘Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, 7 but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them. 8 Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. 9 “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country. 11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites.’
Enter in Moshe. He is saved from death, rescued from water, raised in the Egyptian household, and eventually flees to Midian where Zipporah is given to him to be his wife. The end of Exodus 2 reveals the greatness of Elohim and the beginning of the journey of Moshe: ‘During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24 God heard their groaning and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.’
In Exodus 3 Moshe encounters God. In this chapter God makes the declaration of who He is – and interestingly, Moshe questions who he himself is. These are scenes that are indicative of God and Moshe, Elohim and man, the Creator and the created.
Moshe asks God two questions. His second question is in Exodus 3:13 when he encounters God at the burning bush, basically he asks of God ‘who are you?’ “Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God’s reply is: Ehyeh asher ehyeh, wrongly translated in almost every Christian Bible as something like “I am that I am”. But that limits God. Ehyeh asher ehyeh has a much deeper connotation. It means ‘I will be what, where, or how I will be’.
However, Moshe’s first question in Exodus 3:11 was ‘ Mi anochi, “Who am I?” God answered the second question yet He never directly answered Moshe’s first question. Instead, God reveals His plan, ‘And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” Exodus 3:12.
Maybe Moshe is indirectly asking and answering himself. In the Tanakh as a whole, the people who turn out to be the most worthy are the ones who question themselves of completing the task that God sets them to do. The prophet Isaiah, when given his mission in Isaiah 6:5 said, ‘I am a man of unclean lips’. In Jeremiah 1:6 Jeremiah said, ‘I cannot speak, for I am a child’. The greatest king of Israel, David, echoed Moses’ words, ‘Who am I?’ in 2 Samuel 7:18. And we all know the events of Jonah, sent on the mission to Ninevah and tried to run away only to be swallowed by a fish who then delivered him onto the shores of Ninevah.
These men of the Bible are not mythical Greek figures or people that sensed and designed their own great destiny, determined to achieve fame. They did not go to expensive universities nor do they have an ego sense of superiority and self-greatness. They were people who doubted their own abilities. There were times when they felt like giving up, even reaching such points of despair that they prayed to die. But they became vessels of God as He appointed them. There was work to be done – God told them so – and they did it. It is almost as if a sense of weakness is a sign of greatness. So God never answered Moses’ question, “Why me?”
We see this echoed in the words of Yeshua in the sermon of reversal in Matthew chapter 5.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’