Monday, December 24, 2007

Shemot Summary

Pharaoh, fearing the population explosion of Jews in Egypt, enslaves them. When their birth rate continues to increase, he orders the Jewish midwives to kill all baby boys. A daughter of Levi (Yocheved) gives birth to a son and places him in a basket in the Nile in order to save him. Pharaoh's daughter finds and adopts the baby, even though she realises he is a Hebrew. She names him Moshe (Moses) meaning "drawn from the water". Miriam, Moshe's older sister, offers to find a nursemaid for the baby, and brings her mother to help raise him.

Years later, Moshe witnesses an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, and in anger kills the Egyptian. Moshe realises his life is in danger and flees to Midian where he rescues Tzipporah, whose father Yisro approves their subsequent marriage.

On Chorev (Mt. Sinai), Moshe witnesses the "burning bush" where Hashem commands him to lead the Jewish People from Egypt to the Land of Israel, which Hashem promised to their ancestors. Moshe protests that the Jewish People in Egypt will doubt him being Hashem's agent, so Hashem helps Moshe perform three miraculous transformations to validate him in the eyes of the people: Changing his staff into a snake, his healthy hand into a leprous one, and water into blood. When Moshe declares that he is not a good public speaker, Hashem tells him that his brother Aaron will be his spokesman.
Aaron greets Moshe on his return to Egypt and they petition Pharaoh to release the Jews. Pharaoh responds with even harsher decrees, declaring that the Jews must produce the same quota of bricks as before, but without being given supplies. The people become dispirited, but Hashem assures Moshe that He will force Pharaoh to let the Hebrews leave.

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