Parasha #13

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 Parashah #13: Sh’mot (Names)

(Exodus 1:1 – 6:1)

Additional Readings:
Isa. 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23; Jer. 1:1-2:3; Mat. 22:23-33, 41-46; Mar. 12:18-27, 35-37; Luk. 20:27-44; Act. 3:12-15; 5:27-32; 7:17-36; 22:12-16; 24:14-16; Heb. 11:23-26

Previous parashah recap – Last week we finished the book of Genesis with the death of Jacob and Joseph and the promise that Israel would come out of Egypt and back to the land promised to Abraham and his descendants.

  • As a whole, this parashah describes the suffering of the Israelites under bondage to the Egyptians; The birth of Moses and his miraculous salvation from out of the Nile river; and it also describes his calling to deliver Israel, and his encounter with pharaoh.

  • However, as you start to read the first chapter, there are areas which don’t seem to make much sense.

  • Exo. 1:15-19 – what was the purpose of a Hebrew midwife when all the Hebrew women gave birth by themselves before the midwives could even get there? Did the midwives lie? And if so, why would God have rewarded them for a lie? (which by the way, they were rewarded with something that was never mentioned elsewhere in the bible after; so does this mean that the reward did not come?).

  • Act. 7:22-23 – Moses is described in these verses as mighty in words and deeds before reaching 40 years of age yet we don’t find anything in our bible that talks about the mighty deeds of Moses BEFORE he left Egypt. Also as far as for him being mighty in words we are taught that Moses had a speech impediment… In Exodus 1, it speaks about Moses being looked after by pharaoh’s daughter, and later on killing an Egyptian which caused Moses to run away because pharaoh wanted to kill him. So somewhere in those few verses of Exodus something is missing about the mighty deeds of Moses (something equivalent to 4 chapters in size!).

  • If you read the account of Josephus (Antiquities of The Jews), he has a different account which brings more understanding as to why the parashah is titled “names”. When we read the parashah in our normal versions of the bible we struggle to see why the title is “names” when there are hardly any mentioned. In Josephus, it has the names of the few that came out of Egypt; the names of the parents of Moses and where they came from; and the names of Jethro and his line (Midianites) which link back to Esau. It also has the accounts of the mighty deeds of Moses.

  • In our bibles we go straight into the story of Exodus, but what used to be there is an account of what had happened in those centuries between Joseph and Moses. In that account we are told that the Egyptians grew delicate and lazy due to the prosperity of the Hebrews that passed on to the Egyptians, and because of those riches the Egyptians moved into the love of gain/mammon. From Josephus we are also told that there was a change of dynasty that moved from one royal family into a new family line; this lines up with our bibles where it says that the new pharaoh didn’t remember what happened through Joseph. And because it was not the same dynasty nor the same roots, all they had was the jealousy towards the wealth of the Hebrews, which is what we are told in our bible; and that is the link between the two books.

  • In the book of Josephus, we are also told that there was a prophecy given by some of pharaoh’s scribes and diviners. It stated that there would be a child born to the Israelites, who, if he was reared, would bring the Egyptian dominion low and would raise the Israelites up; that he would exceed all men in virtue and obtain a glory that would be remembered through all ages. This was so feared by the king that he decided to have all the Hebrew males killed. To do so, he ordered all newborn Hebrew males to be cast into the river to drown, and to this effect he commanded the EGYPTIAN midwives to keep an eye on the labours of the Hebrew women and to kill any males born; but they didn’t do that, and when asked why, they gave the same answer we find in our bibles. Because of what the midwives did, the Lord blessed them and made them heads of their families, which makes more sense because that was a tradition with Egyptian families but not with Hebrews…Egyptian women could be heads of a family and leading the line, but nowhere was this the pattern for Hebrew women. So Josephus makes it clear that they were in fact Egyptian midwives.

  • Also not found in our bible, pharaoh enjoined that if any parents should disobey him and venture to save their male babies, they and their families would be destroyed. Only then are we told about Moses, his parents, and the full account of him growing up with his first wife who was only briefly mentioned in our bibles (Num. 12:1). He married an Ethiopian woman who was the daughter of a king.

  • Moses left Egypt when he was 40yrs old, and became a shepherd for about another 40yrs before coming back to lead a full nation. During the 40yrs he was a shepherd he learnt how to lead a flock; that doesn’t make a person a mighty man of war, yet through the life of Moses we see that he stands with his people in war; a shepherd is not a man of war, it’s a man who has learnt how to look after the people. What Moses learnt during the first 40yrs of his life was to be a man of war, and if we take that information we can find out under which dynasty Moses was and which pharaoh was there at the time, because it actually has nothing to do with Rameses. Rameses was born between 130-200yrs after the death of Moses. In no account was Moses raised with any Egyptian prince, in fact Josephus stated very clearly there couldn’t have been any prince. If there had been a prince, Moses would have been killed; he was kept alive only because there was no succession to pharaoh nor his daughter.

  • The account of Josephus matches our bible concerning the lineage of Moses; we are told that Moses was born from the tribe of Levi, his mother was Jochebed, and his father’s name was Amram, one of the noblest sorts of Hebrews; a high lineage of the Hebrews; leading one of the tribes (Exo. 6:20; Num. 26:59). Amram was a direct son of Levi, who was one of the chiefs of the tribe. He was a man of prayer who prayed to the Lord for the deliverance of the Hebrews who kept on following the Lord and His instructions, and were severely and unjustly abused.

  • Moses was a type of saviour, and the story of Moses links to the story of Jesus who IS the saviour. Before the birth of Jesus there was one woman who prayed for 60yrs for things to change, and then Jesus came. Amram was a man who kept praying for the deliverance of the Hebrews until one night the Lord spoke to him in a dream about the coming of Moses as a saviour, the son of a prophecy who would have a glory that no man has had, and which would be remembered through all generations because of all the deeds that would be performed by him. It was also revealed that the child’s brother would become a priest for the Hebrews.

  • As proof that the dream Amram and Jochebed had was true, there was something specific about the birth of Moses that no one amongst the Hebrews ever had. First, the mother of Moses didn’t show that she was pregnant and no one could tell. And when she gave birth, she had no violent pain; so no one knew or heard that she had given birth, and this was how she was able to keep Moses hidden for 3 months. In our account of the bible, we are told that the mother was concerned and put a plan into place to relinquish the child, which is a complete contradiction to the account of Josephus, which states that Amram feared all of his family would be killed and therefore, since he had dreamt the prophecy from the Lord, he handed Moses over to God and decided to send him away.

  • In Josephus, the name of pharaoh’s daughter is given as Thermuthis, which isn’t mentioned in our bibles. And this is an important bit of information that helps us work out who’s dynasty was on the throne at that time.

  • According to the account of Josephus, Pharaoh’s daughter Thermuthis saw the raft, had it rescued and brought to herself. Then she opened it and fell in love with the child on account of his beauty, grace and size. On that part we are told that Moses was tall and so beautiful that people who would pass him by, would stop to look at him, and even after he was gone, they would still be thinking about him for a while, before coming back to their senses and walking away, for h e had the fairness and image of God, which lines up with the account of Steven in the New Testament where he says how the people would stop to look at him because of his beauty.

  • Exo. 2:7-8 – when you know about the rules of the Egyptians, it doesn’t make sense that they would listen to a random Hebrew girl. But there is something in the account of Josephus that is missing from our bibles. Thermuthis called for Egyptian women to breastfeed Moses but he refused all, and that’s where Miriam came in and suggested they try a Hebrew mother; and because Thermuthis was concerned for Moses, she agreed.

  • Later on Thermuthis brought the child to pharaoh to be an heir because she had not born any children of her own. Pharaoh agreed to that and put the crown and insignia of Egypt upon the baby, who threw the lot away. At the scene was a scribe, who, upon recognizing the child of the prophecy, tried to have him killed, but he was saved by Thermuthis and taken away to be raised under her protection.

  • With all this new information from the account of Josephus, our bibles make more sense.

  • In the complete Jewish bible, the name of Moses is Moshe (meaning ‘pulled out’). Moshe is a Hebrew word, but he was named by an Egyptian princess; So the Hebrew name had to be a translation. There are 2 words in Egyptian which formed the name of Moses:

    1. Mou (water) – In Arabic water is moiya.

    2. Eses (saved out of)

      When you combine the two words you get mouses/moueses

  • Quote from Josephus (Ant. 2.9.7:236c-237)“So the Hebrews depended on him, and were of good hopes that great things would be done by him; but the Egyptians were suspicious of what would follow such his education. Yet because, if Moses had been slain, there was no one, either akin or adopted, that had any oracle on his side for pretending to the crown of Egypt, and likely to be of greater advantage to them, they abstained from killing him”.

  • After that, when Moses was grown, there is a full account of how Ethiopia declared war against the Egyptians and started to conquer them. They put Moses in charge of the armies, who then led them to victory. During this war, Moses came to a city where he met the daughter of the king of Ethiopia who fell in love with him and sent her servant to bring proposition to Moses; to say that if he married her, they would make peace and stop the war. Moses agreed and peace was restored. He returned with the victory and a wife from Ethiopia, which made him heir to Ethiopia as much as heir to Egypt. This made the Egyptians even more jealous and ill disposed toward Moses, and especially pharaoh who thought that Moses might try to overthrow him and take the throne. This is why Moses fled after he killed the Egyptian slave master to protect the Hebrews. Stephen makes a clear point that Moses was moving into his destiny of looking after his people, but he wasn’t received by his brethren, which links up with Jesus. And this is why Moses fled Egypt the way he did, because pharaoh was threatened and wanted to kill Moses for all his mighty deeds, as it was called in the book of Acts.

  • Then we are told of Jethro who was of the line of Keturah, the last wife of Abraham after Sarah. His real name was Reuel (Exo. 2:18), Jethro being his title as a priest and meaning His abundance, His excellence (so Abundance or Excellency).

  • In Josephus, Moses helped the daughters of Jethro more than what our version of the bible tells us. In fact, his defence of them was so strong that the 7 of them went back to their father and recounted the mighty deeds of Moses and how he saved them. The wording used meant that they recounted more so about his features, stature and physical attributes; That is why Jethro decided to reward Moses by giving his daughter to him in marriage, because he knew that his daughter already ‘fancied’ Moses.

  • Exo. 3:1 – the mount of Horeb in Josephus is called mount Sinai. According to what the bible used to say, they are one in the same.

  • In the account of Josephus, the Hebrews go from 75 odd people to become over 600,000; that’s how strong they grew, and this matches up with the numbers given when they came out of Egypt.

  • Then Pharaoh died and God heard the distress of His people and put in place the second part of His plan; that was to send Moses back to Egypt to rescue the Hebrews and take them out of that land.

  • Mount Horeb/Sinai was sacred to the Midianites and they wouldn’t go there for fear of the Lord. But Moses went and saw a burning thorn bush in full blossom (according to Josephus’ account), burning with a fierce fire that didn’t consume the bush, nor its flowers or branches; but it was so fierce that Moses couldn’t get close to it. Then Yeshua/Jesus spoke through the fire to Moses.

  • Wherever you see written ‘THE angel of the Lord’, that refers to Yeshua/Jesus.

  • Moses was told to remove his shoes because he was standing on sacred ground. According to Josephus, Moses was also told to move away/go farther away and to not go further higher.

  • In the account of Josephus, Moses directly asks the name of God/Yeshua so that he could know what name to pray to and give in his oblations to Him, and the Lord answered “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” (I am what I am / I will be what I will be) – we are talking about Jesus here. He responded this way because Moses was not supposed to know His name. Not only that, but His answer also pointed toward eternity – He was, is, and is to come.

  • So where does the name Jehovah come from? It has never been a name of God. The Pharisees were fearful of saying the name of the Lord in vain and forbade people to pronounce His name. Instead, they put a system in place where they inserted pointers in the midst of the word He is/Yahweh, so that they would silently read it as such, but if they were to speak it out loud they would pronounce it differently. So in some instances to pronounce it Adonai instead of Yahweh it is spelt Yehowah; in others instances to pronounce it Elohim instead of Yahweh it is spelt Yehoweeh.

    But His name is Yahweh. Each time you have Adonai Yahweh, or Yahweh by Himself, it speaks about 2 different parts of the God-head.

  • Exo. 3:14-15 – For the first time God gives His name: the great I Am, or I will be (for He has no start nor end). Ehyeh meaning I am, as the first person of the present or future tense of the verb But when talking about God to others Moses is instructed to say He is, that is Yahweh, as in the third person of the present or future tense of the verb havah.

  • To simplify:

    Adonai = Lord

    Elohim = God/Gods (plural, as in 3 in one)

    Eloa = God

    Adonai Elohim = the Lord our God/s

    Yahweh = He is OR He will be

    Jehovah is meaningless – wherever you see Jehovah, it means Yahweh and reminds to say Adonai.

  • Moses was told to go back to Egypt to bring the people out of there. To convince the people, God gave 3 signs for Moses to use at will; And these were gifts given to Moses that he was able to do even after he led the people out of Egypt:

    1. to turn his cross/staff into a snake (which in Josephus, says specifically a snake ready to attack), which would turn back into a staff when grabbed by the tail

    2. to make his hand temporarily leprous when putting it under his garment, and returning it to normal by doing the same

    3. to be able to turn water into blood – which closely resembles Jesus being able to turn water into wine.

  • Everything that happened to Moses was lining up with the feasts that took place with Jesus Christ – Passover, Pentecost, unleavened bread etc. All the feasts that were fulfilled in the New Testament were first fulfilled under Moses in very specific ways.

  • Moses complains to God about his speech problems, to which God, after being angry at Moses for his lack of trust in Him, tells him that Aaron, his brother will speak for him.

  • As we go on reading we’ll find that Moses speaks to Pharaoh directly, and do so with all Egyptians. So Moses’ problem of speech is not related to any physical problem, but is in fact related to his lack of fluency in the Hebrew tongue.

  • Exo. 4:10 – This is why Moses says he is no better now after having spoken to God in Hebrew, that didn’t give him the knowledge of the tongue…

    And this is the only way to make the NT statement that Moses was mighty in words match the OT. There is a scripture which seemingly contradicts this but it’s just on surface:

    Exo. 6:12 (KJV, CJV, LXX) – we read uncircumcised lips, poor speaker or not eloquent. A study of the Old Greek word not eloquent is alogos (G249), which means irrational, brute, unreasonable. In the NT it’s translated “brute” twice and “unreasonable” once. That word is never associated with eloquence.

    Another word of importance here is the “and” (G1161) of “and I am not eloquent“. That word is a specific “and” which should be used as moreover, subsequently, and now. It’s used 397 times in the NT and never translated as “and”. Usually it’s “now”.

    So as we put all that together we obtain:

    ”And Moses spoke before the Lord, saying, Behold, the children of Israel hearkened not to me, and how shall Pharaoh hearken to me? Now I am irrational/unreasonable.”

    If we use the word uncircumcised lips it sheds the same light on it all, uncircumcised there meaning would be as unrighteous, speaking unreasonable things.

    What Moses was saying there, is that after his first confrontation with Pharaoh he had lost all credibility, nothing to do with any speech impediment.

  • When we read our bibles it would seem that out of the blue Aaron was called to be a priest because Moses was complaining about his speech. But it was already prophesied that Aaron would be the priest for the people, and the Hebrews already knew about it which is why they listened when Aaron was speaking.

  • Exo. 4:14-16 – God had already said to Moses not to speak to anyone else but Aaron, and that Aaron would be the main speaker to others.

  • A careful study of the first confrontation with Pharaoh shows us that is not what happened and that Moses didn’t follow what God had said but tried to do it in his own strength, he was in disobedience.

  • Exo. 5:1 – Let’s look at the wording in these few scriptures:

    “Moses AND Aaron said to Pharaoh…” It seemed that they BOTH spoke to him.

    Exo. 5:3-4
    “THEY said (…) met with US (…) let US go (…) WE can sacrifice (…) strike US…” It seems to refer to both Aaron and Moses. And Pharaoh’s answer was to both of them, he was addressing them both, wanting them to clarify what they were both saying.

    Exo. 5:5
    This verse in the KJV, Pharaoh clearly says “ye” (a plural ‘you’ addressing both Aaron and Moses). And to finish, Moses himself said that he was talking directly to Pharaoh (Exo. 5:22-23). So he was in disobedience to God, which lead to Exo. 6:12 with the acknowledging that he was seen as a irrational person now and that he would have no chance to be heard by Pharaoh. In other words Moses admits his own limitations and that he can’t do it by his own strength. Which is the start for God to be able to move in, when we move our ego out of the way.

  • After talking to God on the mountain Moses explained the situation to Jethro and then left with his family to Egypt (his wife and 2 children). They left on donkeys which lines up with Jesus coming into Jerusalem on a donkey. Princes and kings were riding on donkeys; this is important to note because when Jesus was riding in on a donkey, it was to say ‘I am the king’. The donkey was a sign of kingship/royal blood.

  • Exo. 4:18-20 – What was the name of the second son that Moses took with him? The first one was Gershom (Exo. 2:22). The name of the second son is given in Exo. 18:2-4. His name was Eliezer. And we can read here that after the incident of circumcision, Zipporah and her 2 sons were sent back to Jethro. Moses must have known that it would be dangerous, even life threatening to go and therefore he decided to leave his family behind for their own safety. This is important to note, for if God sends us into enemy territory, sometimes it is wise to leave our family behind.

  • On the way, Moses met Aaron, whom God had sent ahead. In our account they both went to see the Hebrews and talk to them, however, that was not the case. In Josephus, all the heads of the tribes of Hebrews followed Aaron when he went to meet Moses. This shows the importance of Aaron as a mouthpiece to the tribes of Israel. When they saw Aaron leaving they followed him, and when they also saw Moses they remembered the prophecy over him and knew that they would be saved. In Josephus it says that the Israelites were wanting to leave Egypt and were put into servitude by pharaoh who didn’t want to lose the riches they were bringing to him.

  • Exo. 4:24-26 – According to Hebrew tradition Moses got struck by a sickness bringing trembling so that he couldn’t move nor do anything. Zipporah, his wife, understood what she had to do and acted quickly to save Moses, for the Lord needs us to be fully under His instructions before sending us as His representative. This doesn’t mean that He cannot use us for ministry or other tasks, but being sent to represent Him to the world and powers to be, means we need to be entrenched in Him and His laws. It would be better to die than to make a mockery of Him, or fall mid-way into deception, becoming a servant of the enemy.

    The rabbis teach that Zipporah was happy with the circumcision, it wasn’t an accusation when she spoke to Moses, but that Moses was the one who resisted the circumcision (probably because being raised as an Egyptian, it looked barbaric; but it was the sign of the covenant with Abraham, which Moses was still under at this point of time). If he was to be as God to pharaoh and Aaron, he had to be perfect in all his ways, therefore he had to come under the covenant made with Abraham, which required circumcision not only for himself but for his family. The New Testament teaches us that to be a minister of the Lord we have to have our family under obedience also.

    This scripture in the LXX is more accurate:

    Exo. 4:24-26“And it came to pass that the angel of the Lord met him by the way in the inn, and sought to slay him. and Sephora having taken a stone cut off the foreskin of her son, and fell at his feet and said, the blood of the circumcision of my son is staunched: and he departed from him, because she said, the blood of the circumcision of my son is staunched”.
    By doing what she did, everything was made right and no more blood needed to be shed. When we read it in our versions of the bible we read it as if Zipporah was against Moses and angry/unhappy.

  • The first encounter Moses had with Pharaoh did not go well, and instead of listening to Moses, Pharaoh oppressed the Hebrews even more by giving them more work to do. So not only did they have to make their quota of bricks by day, but by night they also had to gather the straw to make them; and this made the people angry at Moses. In our bibles Moses was buckling under the Lord and under what the Hebrews were saying etc. but in Josephus, it says that Moses knew it wouldn’t be easy because of pharaoh’s hard heart, so he hardened himself against pharaoh and against the Hebrews and decided to go forward with it. So there was a strength of character described in Josephus that we don’t see in our versions of the bible. In Josephus we see Moses as a man of war who sets himself on a path and pushed through no matter what. This is the same kind of character we need to have as Christians, to harden ourselves against all opposition and push through in doing what God has called us to do, no matter what. To be warriors for the Lord just as Moses was.

  • In Josephus it explains why pharaoh was so upset at Moses. He thought Moses was being prideful and that his signs (given to him by God) were being used to belittle the Egyptian nation.

  • When we read the story of exodus we should read it from the Hebrews viewpoint. Moses was the archetype of Jesus who came to save the people. Moses had the role of Jesus and we have the role of the Hebrews; we are following Jesus just as the Hebrews followed Moses. We are coming to Him and He is there to take us out of Egypt (the world system/Babylon). This walk comes with trials, pain, heartache, lack and oppression from all sides…are we ready for that? will we be able to stand? At times we see that the Hebrews couldn’t stand; they went into complaining and disobedience because things got hard; but sometimes things will get harder before they get better, and we need to stay faithful and trust God. It actually works like that with deliverance itself: You come to the Lord, truly to Him, for deliverance, because of the oppression you’re under. And He will give you that, at least the taste of it, but things don’t get better straight away. Things usually get worst before full deliverance. When we read this story we need to ask ourselves, where do I stand? Because their journey started in Egypt and finished in the promise land; are you still in Egypt? Are you in the desert/wilderness? Where are you in your walk? Because when you know where you are at, you know the next fight ahead of you and what you need to overcome. And that’s where the story of Moses is so important to us; it shows us the pattern of our salvation and the stages and struggles we will face along the way. The whole book of exodus is about our personal walk; about being taken out of Egypt and learning to walk in total trust in the Lord until we enter the promise land.

  • Pharaoh and leviathan are one in the same, as mentioned in scripture (Eze. 29:3-5). When you have problems with the law, finances and the world system in general, you are being confronted with leviathan/pharaoh which means that everything Moses did to pharaoh should be the arrows in our quiver to defeat him because he was defeated by God. As people of God we can do the same. We just need to use the weapons given to us by God through His word.

    From now on, as we’ll go more into this book, read it to try to find out where you are at on this journey towards the Promised Land (the Kingdom of God).

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