Thoughts on the First Parsha of Exodus (Sh’mot of Sh’mot)
1. Pharaoh orders the midwives to destroy the infant boys of the Hebrews. He discovers that they have not. Then in 1:22 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.”
He does not say “Hebrew sons”. Though implied, it is not said. It may be read as applying to all the sons of Egypt. So the generation of Egyptians he spoke this to in fact became the men who drowned in the Red Sea.
2. The word “bank” is given (i.e. river bank) in 2:3 and 2:4 but the Hebrew is two different words. In 2:3 the mother of the Son placed him in the basket and the basket upon the “bank of the River”. The word here is “S’fat (שפת)” or LIP. The daughter of the mother of the Son watches to see what will become of him. In 2:4 the daughter of the Pharaoh and her maidens were walking along the “bank of the river” where she saw the basket. Here the “bank of the river” is “Yad (יַד)” or HAND.
Of what significance is the use of two different words, two different body parts in the description of the river-bank? Do you think I know? LOL! Some thoughts: LIP produces sound, HAND produces action. The male child is passing from WORD/LOGOS/POTENTIALITY to ACTION/PRAXOS/ACTUALITY. This parallels John 1:1 and 14 “14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
3. The various names given for Moses’ father-in-law: the first “Reuel”. (רעואל). The name is given shortly after Moses rescues Reuel’s seven daughters her were watering their flocks (i.e they were shepherdesses) from shepherds. Shepherds is “re-im (רעים)”. Sp Reuel’s name is EL- Reu. EL, God of Shepherds. So this is a title rather than the name. Later we see the name as Jethro. So before Moses meets the God of the Israelites he becomes son-in-law to the God of Shepherds.
4. Moses pastures his father-in-law’s flocks on Mount Horeb. (חורבה). There he meets the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob who informs Moses that He will rescue the Israelites in Egypt and bring them to a good and spacious land, flowing with Milk and Honey. “And Spacious” is “ur’chava (רחבהו). Not only is Mitzraim the Torah’s name for Egypt, but it also means “a narrow, confining place”. Thus at Horeb, a good and spacious land is promised. The Hebrew for “Horeb” and “and Spacious” are anagrams. This reinforces the possibility of generalizing the story of Exodus. From a particular historic event it maybe read as a Soul’s journey from harsh confinement to spacious halls in the Kingdom of God. And on a psychological level is it not consistent with the developing fetus in the wound, passing through Narrow places into a good and spacious world of Creation? And further on that point: to what does the mention of the Puah and Shifra, the midwives who protected the Israelite boys speak of in regard to the sanguinary fanatics of Margaret Sanger’s Planned Parenthood? If the good midwives were praised, what will the judgment be upon all those who encourage and facilitate and actualize the destruction of developing humans?
5. In the Artscroll Interlinear Chumash for Exodus there is a note at 2:5 that is interesting. The Egyptian Princess is named, Bisyah.
As I often do when confronted by new words or names I attempted to discover the Hebrew underpinning. B I S Y A H. Hmm: בסיה? בשיאה? Then it hit me. This was transliterated from the Ashkenazi Hebrew pronunciation. But I have been learning Sephardic (or modern Israeli) pronunciation! Therefore the “S” sound might be written as ת (Tet). Bet-Yah! Daughter-of God!
I learned in a quick Google search that “Medrash Talpiyos quoting the Zohar” teaches “Bisyah and Tziporah were twins… whom Paroh and Yisro respectively, found in the market-place. On account of their beauty, they took them home and brought them up as daughters.” These names are more recognizable to many of us as Pharaoh and Yitro (Jethro). If true Moses would be Bisyah’s adopted son, and thus Tziporah’s nephew! But the Tziporah- Bisyah connection is just something I came across in trying to discover on what the Artscroll note at 2:5 is based.