Thursday, January 3, 2013

Shemot (Names) Ex. 1:1-6:1

Shemot  (Names) Ex. 1:1-6:1                                                            שמות

Every time I come to this Parasha I am but mesmerized by the introduction, names, Shemot.  What is in a name? Why are names in the Torah so important?  I could never understand the importance of names until I understood the difference between Western thinking, (philosophy and abstract thinking) and the Eastern thinking (concrete, perceptible to the senses), Torah thinking.  It is interesting that name (shem) and soul (nefesh) have the same root.  Shem also means character; the character of the individual therefore is in his name.  Additionally we in the West, make a distinction between names as identifiers and titles.  Such was not the case in the Eastern mindset of the Torah, for example king and name are the character traits of the individual that carries both titles an example would be King David, both of these describe his character as a sovereign and the individual, a man after YHVH’s own heart.

Why then the following passage speaks of the sons of Israel, and Yaakov in the same sentence? Exodus 1:1: And these are the names of the sons of Israel who are coming into Egypt with Jacob; a man and his household have they come; Exodus 1:2: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Exodus 1:3: Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, Exodus 1:4: Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. Exodus 1:5: And all the persons coming out of the thigh of Jacob are seventy persons; as to Joseph, he was in Egypt.  Furthermore we are told the number, of people and whence they come from.  What is HaShem trying to tell us with these verses in the Torah? As I see it tells us that where we come from and to whom we belong are as important as how we do life. 

This is our heritage, that cannot be traded nor given away, we belong to this recounting of events, whether we are native born or grafted in, Romans 11:17: And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakes of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Romans 11:24: For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?  So in essence we are looking at our own family history, unraveling, that then teaches us how to comport ourselves in our family reunion. The Torah reveals the character of the chosen people, the priestly nation, a kingdom of priests at the service of YHVH.  Therefore the name and character of Israel, contender with man, contender with heavenly hosts (angels) and overcomer, describes in part the character of Israel.

As we continue to delve into this parasha we come across another verse, in Exodus 1:8: And there rises a new king over Egypt, who hath not known Joseph.  Who was this Joseph that so much attention is paid to in the Torah?  Joseph was a projection of the Messiah to come; he delivered his brothers from certain death, his father, his kin. He not only delivered his own from death he also delivered Egypt and the surrounding nations from certain doom.  Just as Messiah Yeshua, brings deliverance to all mankind so did Joseph, not of his own strength but that which the God of his fathers showed him to, he did as he was shown.  Joseph is a picture of Yeshua, and Pharaoh is a picture of the world and the government system in our current days.  Look around and see that they have forgotten Joseph, (Messiah).  They have forgotten the source of our salvation, they have forgotten YHVH the God of our fathers, they have forgotten the path of righteousness.

We often wonder, what is going on in this world why is evil so prevalent around us, and does it matter if we act righteous or not.  Look no further than the Torah and we get a glimpse of what are the consequences of doing the right thing no matter what is around us. What’s in a name, we kind of get back to the same theme in the case of the ones doing righteousness, they got their names (character) in Torah for acting and fearing YHVH, Shiphrah, and Puah the midwifes. Exodus 1:20: And God does good to the midwives, and the people multiply, and are very mighty; Exodus 1:21: and it cometh to pass, because the midwives have feared God, that He make for them households (Family). I am sure that there were plenty of good people around that time but they do not appear on the Torah by name nor they are mentioned.  Furthermore HaShem blessed these two righteous women, with life and family.

We know that Moses was born to the house of Levi, and that he grew in strength and knowing who he was and yet he was part of the house of Pharaoh yet identity is a prevailing thing in our lives (thing = word or utterance as found in the Torah, thing is not a real word in Hebrew, the word translated as thing is in reality word), our character is tied to our identity, and it pulls ever so strong, to the point that you cannot help but to teshuvah, return, to your roots.  As a result of this pull Moses ended up fleeing from Egypt due an act of passion, killing an Egyptian to interject for his own blood. We find that Moses found refuge in a strange land, Exodus 2:21: Moses was content to dwell with the man. He gave Moses Zipporah, his daughter. Exodus 2:22: She bore a son, and he named him Gershom, for he said, “I have lived as a foreigner in a foreign land.”  Yet he was a foreigner in Egypt he regarded his time in Median as a transient time.  The promise that was given to Abraham Yitzhak and Yaakov was too distant to remember and make it part of his life.  He yearned Egypt, and his family, had lost sight of his promise.  Sometimes we walk the same path that Moses walked, we loose sight of our promise, and blessings.

Yet we forget YHVH does not forget, Exodus 2:25: God saw the children of Israel, and God was concerned about them. In some translations it renders concerned with awareness and knowing their suffering. For this reason that God was concerned or knew and understood of his children’s suffering we see that he came down to deliver His children. Exodus 3:8: I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians.  Yes HaShem has a plan, yet HaShem always chooses to partner with man to achieve his wondrous works.  Exodus 3:10: Come now therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”  And what do we always do is complain see our own limitations and try our very best to slip past the opportunity to do HaShem’s work.  Exodus 3:13: And Moses saith unto God, `Lo, I am coming unto the sons of Israel, and have said to them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you, and they have said to me, What is His name? What do I say unto them?'

Isn’t it interesting that we often refer to the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, yet they did not know his name, HaShem’s name was not revealed until, Moses and his generation, until he chose to deliver them out of bondage from Egypt?  I can see so many parallels in my own life, I did not know the God of my fathers, I did not know his name, His Character until he rescued me from my Egypt, my bondage.  The current trend is that the Character of YHVH is not known because we have chosen to believe the lie that we belong to the Pharaoh to the world, we believe the lie, we only live once, when in reality we only die once, if we deject HaShem’s saving grace.  Get to know Him the giver of life, the lover of our soul, from Him where our spirit comes from, His character we represent here on earth, He told us whom He was, through our kin Moses: Exodus 3:14: And God saith unto Moses, `I AM THAT WHICH I AM;' He saith also, `Thus dost thou say to the sons of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.' Exodus 3:15: God said moreover to Moses, “You shall tell the children of Israel this, ‘YHVH, Jehovah, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name (my Character) forever, and this is my memorial to all generations.  The challenge is whom will you serve this day? Which Character will you represent this day?

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