1 One reason is that they serve a dual role. For Genesis is the book of creation, and it epitomizes the history of the world and the Jewish people. The period of the forefathers is, in essence, the DNA for their descendants, thus all which they are and do, and happens to them is destined to unfold and repeat in their descendants. The book of Exodus, is also known as the sefer of redemption. It recounts the descent of the Jews, and eventual salvation, and return to their penultimate glory, with all the miracles and wonders, the national revelation at Mount Sinai, receiving the Torah, and building the Tabernacle (traveling Temple, i.e. House for G-d to dwell amongst the Jewish people. Thus these events and characters play a role in both.
Secondly, the Malbim explains, the verses are illuminating how providence arranged our fall and denigration in the eyes of our Egyptian hosts. Our esteemed and beloved leaders all passed on; our being a small, select group quickly developed into a significant and rapidly increasing population to be reckoned with; And Joseph, the great hero of Egypt, who thrived on his enactments, was no longer.
2. Six. Yes -swarmed – a word normally used in reference to bugs and multi-legged things. This alludes to a most unusual birthrate of the Hebrews in Egypt, and the only clue as to how many offspring were hatching at a time – is the six-repitious words.
3. He intentionally ignored and forgot about Joseph – (in fact some say it was the very same king, with a new attitude) AS is the way of our goyish non-Jewish hosts over the centuries to succumb to self-serving amnesia over the beneficence and loyalty his Jewish citizens have indeed invested in their country.
4. For a fascinating essay on this scene, see the Malbim, who goes to lengths to show that the Hebrews were far from any real threat to the Egyptians. Indeed all of his concerns are barely justifiable even as paranoiac fears, and his real motive was to exploit them for slave labor – which was of course his only professed solution to Egypt Jewish-problem. Besides, he knew the Jews had no intention of staying, never mind usurping his kingdom, for they ever only came as ‘passers by, (as Yakov said to Pharoah), to return to their promised land as soon as it was feasible.
5. The more the afflicted the Jews, the more Hashem increased and strengthened His children.
6. Shifrah and Puah.
They were the heads of the midwives. (The Malbim, explains, based on the midrashim which interpret these names, one as the role of taking care of the mother, and the other for the baby.
The verse says they were rewarded (for not listening to Pharoah to kill the boys) that Hashem gave them Houses – which the sages say refer to the houses/dynasties of Cahuna (Cohen) , Levite, and Kingship.
The verse also implies a primary/secondary relationship between Shifrah and Puah. (by the superfluous, ‘first, and ‘second’ in the verse’ (The Malbim, goes his way, explaining this as relating to the first and second role in midwifery)
Since the only women we know to be the ancestors of these dynasties are Yocheved (Moshe’mother), who’s sons Moshe and Aaron Headed the Cohens and Levis, and Miriam, who was secondary to her, in being her daughter, and from whom the Davidic dynasty emerged, we can conclude, since the Torah comes to elucidate, and not confound, to clarify and not blur, that Shifrah and Puah, were no other than Yocheved and Miriam. (Who were later rewarded also by a most miraculous salvation of their son/brother/savior Moses)
7. To kill all the boys by throwing them in the Nile. (Interestingly, it was the Nile which saved Moshe when they needed to hide him. And once he was placed there, the massacres ceased, for Pharaoah’s astrologers told him that the redeemer of Israel had successfully been cast into the water. There are many parallels to be found here between the decrees and fate in Egypt to Haman and the Purim story)
They heroically resisted, claiming that the Hebrew women were tough and gave birth without assistance, and they could not act negligently. for the Hebrews who knew what about midwifery would catch them . (At first, Pharoah was ashamed at his inhumanity and did everything in secret.) Then he made open decrees to kill all boys, even Egyptians – for his astrologers were unable to determine if the Hebrew redeemer which he foresaw would be Hebrew or Egyptian (perhaps, since he was given an Egyptian name, raised by an Egyptian, in the palace of Egypt). At the end he was told to ease sores, to bathe in their blood, along with many other atrocities they did to us, as pioneers of our barbaric oppressors throughout our history.
8. Nobody in his family is mentioned by name – it is all recounted in an unprecedented oblique manner ‘a man went and tooka woman, and bore a son – .. The Maharal explains that we were not told about the specifics of moshe’s upbringing, lest we think that due to his great parents, or lineage did he rise to become our savior. For the truth is that it was destined to happen, for Hashem had promised us so, and if it would not have been this soul from this family our salvation would have just as well have been borne elsewhere. (This also helps to explain why Yocheved and Miriam are called Shifrah and Puah, for why must the Torah lead us on a hunt to infer their true identities. Some maintain that one reason they were givien Egyptian names at all, is the a name reveals and plays a role in our identity, thus Pharoah knew, that Jewish women would never yiled to pressure to kill Jewish children, so he attempted to taint their character by tacking onto them an Egyptian identity.
9. A great light shone . (As the verse implies something apparently extra good immediately upon his birth. )
Tradtion also says he was born circumsized – another sign of his greatness and completion.
10. Pharoah’s daughter named him Moshe, related to the fact that she drew (Mosha) him from the water. SHe is called Batya in later scripture, which means, daughter of Hashem, – for He said ‘ you adopted My child as a son, so I will adopt you as a daughter)
He has 10 names in total. His paretns called him Yekutiel. Most of his names are listed in Chronicles. (Avigdor, Yered, Avisocho, AviZanuach, Tovia, Levi, Chaver, Shamaya, Ben Nesanel) – they all of course, reflect some aspect of his life or character.
11. In the palace of Pharoah. (Just how far Hashem goes to nullify the plans of our enemies)
One reason Providence caused him to have such an upbringing, was so that he would not be held back by the slave mentality of his brethren.
His mother nursed him in her home for Batya until he was two.. This was brought on, by his refusal to nurse from the Egyptians – as the angels interfere ‘ this mouth, which is destined to speak with the divine presence, should suckle from idol worshippers?!! – (the Shulchan Aruch rules from here that, while all breast milk is kosher, it is preferable to give from a Jewish woman.. Rabbi Yakov Kamenetsky notes, that this implies that we are ought to raise every Jewish child as if to talk to the divine presence – i.e. to be as great as Moshe)
Question 2. Another reason the medrash says as to why the names (Shmos – hence the name of the second book of chumash) of the Jews, is that they are precious to Hashem, and even f they be as numerous as the dust of the earth, (as promised to Abraham) , they remain as precious to Him, and as individual as the stars of the heavens (at least when they elevate themselves through being good children. And so he counts them over and over again – as the fourth book Bamidbar/Numbers begins and ends, with censuses (by then a population in the millions,) as one who is fond of recounting his favorite coins or gems. An interesting measure-for=measure.
Why was it that, as a reward for fearing the Almighty, and not succumbing to Pharosh’s pressure, Shifrah and Puah were awarded the dynasties/houses of Cohanite, Levite, and Kingship.. So as far as homes – we could say that they were responsible for maintaining the continuity of the Jewish homes through their midwifery. But why these 3 in particular? As every good answer and insight is just waiting for us to ask the question. So Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik, points out that the Egyptians had not set out to utterly wipe out our people (Heaven forbid), as he only decreed against the boys (as he foresaw their saviour’s birth). And we know that as long as we have Jewish mothers, the family is Jewish. What then, is dependant on the father? None other than the tribal lineage in order to determine who is a Levi, a Cohen, and as well who is fit for the throne, and is descendant of David. Amazing how every piece fits in it’s place spot on.
12. See the parsha page for what it means to be a gadol in Israel (i.e. a mature leader among the Jews). And how a minor is someone who can only think of themselves (and even doing that well takes a good 13 years , and probably in our day and age a fair bit longer – hence one good reason why we uncharacstically delay a mitzvah – namely raising a family, for it requires the wherewithal to be able to take care of others in addition to oneself.
13. Moshe probably knew the matter was known, and moreso, his fear was not really that his brethren knew of his deed, rather that he would be apprehended now that a Jew had strayed so far , as to turn on Moshe. Thus, Rashi offers a deeper comment, that ‘the matter is now known’ is Moshe’s realization as to why the Jews were subject to such an awful fate, namely – that they ae corrupt and lack their potentially safe-guarding unity and faith. And he feared that they no longer would merit salvation – and that caused him great trepidation.
He had 7 names, and 7 daughters, including Tzippora, Moshe’s wife.
15.Gershom – I have been a stranger (Ger) in a foreign land’
Eliezer – no discussion is made of his birth or name (But in Parsha Yisro we are told that Eliezer is an acronym/conjuction of the phrase The God of my father who came to my aid against Pharoah.)
16.Their cries went up to Hashem, and He took into account His covenant with the forefathers, and He turned His countenance to their plight and was brought Himself to arouse His mercy.
Things had become exceptionally gruesome then, for Pharoah was stricken with Tzaraas – a skin disease, which his ‘doctors’ prescribed regular bathing in human blood. And so the Hebrew babies were mercilessly sacrificed for such a wicked goy – as the goyim would repeatedly display their inhumanity over the generations, such as the vile Nazi’s who decided that Jewish babies would serve a wonderful target practice.
17. In the burning bush – which like the Jewish people, would not be devoured by the fires it was in the midst in, nor in the furnaces of Auschwitz or any other destruction, the Jewish nation is eternal, and it’s core is divine and cannot be touched by human hands.
18. ‘ehyeh’ I will be’ and Hashem repeats the name a second time. It is essentials the same name as the essential ineffable name (outside of the Holy Temple it is forbidden to pronounce it as it is written), which we read as Adonoy, only Ahyeh – is said in first person. For a translation of the name we use, and used by Hashem in the rest of CHumash Yud, Hey, Vav, Hey – is a combination of the words ‘He was’ He is ‘ He will be’ – referring to his omnipresence, and precedence over time and space which He created.
This name also implies that ‘I will be’ with them in their distress. Thus when Hashem repeats it, He is saying, that I will also be with them in their future sufferings. To which Moshe responds, why tell them about future suffering when they are so troubled now, upon which Hashem, retracted the second name, and replaced it with G-d of Abraham Isaac. and Jacob, to whom I have promised redemption to their children.
19.A land which supports 7 great nations (to which they would be later challenged to not see as a threat, in the chapter of the spies)
and a land flowing with milk and honey – Which, interestingly our tradition records as referring to goat’s milk, and date honey.
We hope that there was a morsel or two for everybody here to ponder and enjoy.
Wishing you a lovely shabbos,
-Beth Shifra Crew