Parashat Shemot (Names)

Shemot (Exodus) 1:1-6:1

This week, we begin studying a new book in the weekly parasha called Shemot (Exodus). The literal translation of the Hebrew is “Names”, which comes from Exodus 1:1: “These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household…” There are many various pearls of wisdom in this week’s portion, which are relevant to our lives today.

Chapter 2:23-25 describes the harsh, difficult reality of the Children of Israel during those times (this is my translation from the Hebrew text):

“ During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the sons (children) of Israel groaned because of their work (labor) and cried out (wailed). Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the children of Israel—and God knew.” Exodus 2:23-25

We have all been in tough, perhaps even desperate, situations. Like the Children of Israel, perhaps you cried out to God, hoping that He would change the situation, only to find that it got worse. Or perhaps you thought, “If only things were different…” Have you ever lost your hope? Have you ever taken your eyes off God?

When the king of Egypt died, perhaps the Children of Israel (who had been enslaved) hoped that their situation would improve or change. However, as the scripture indicates, nothing changed, and the children of Israel cried out for help, desperate to change their situation.

Our faithful God heard their cry, and He remembered His covenant that He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He saw their terrible situation, and in His perfect time, He began the process of redeeming His people and delivering them from slavery.

The first point I would like to make is that, regardless of the circumstances you are facing, God is with you. He is faithful, He sees everything, He knows everything, and you can find great comfort in this truth. In His time, He will deliver you from the situation, and during the challenge you face, He will give you the strength to stand firm.

The fact that God remembered His covenant is proof of His faithfulness! Regardless of where we are, whether or not we deserve it, our God is a trustworthy God and we can find great assurance in this truth! We can see this demonstrated in Exodus 3:6-10 when He calls Moses to deliver His people from Egypt:

“And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.””

This brings me to my second point: God called Moses to do something great, even though it was terrifying to Moses. In essence, God gave Moses the amazing honor to partake in His miraculous plan of redemption! There was no way that Moses could foresee just how miraculous it would be…he had to follow the Lord regardless of not being able to see the end result.

But we can understand Moses’ fear! He was, after all, a human just like you and me. How many times have we become paralyzed by fear because we focused on the huge mountain before us rather than on the One who can move the mountain?

“But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?””

My brothers and sisters, just like Moses, we have been called to something that is much bigger and greater than us. We are called to confront the “Pharaohs” of this world…we are called to partake in God’s miraculous plan of redemption, not only for Israel, but also to the entire world. But we can do nothing in our own strength. The giants are too big for us to conquer alone. We must look to Him and rely on His ability to move the mountain!

Are you looking to God, trusting Him to give you all that you need to fulfill the task He has given you? Or are you like Moses when God first called him, giving God all the reasons why you aren’t able to answer His call?

Just remember that you can indeed do all things through Him who gives you strength (Phil. 4:13)!

Shabbat Shalom,


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One Comment on “Parashat Shemot (Names)”

  1. What an amazing person Joseph was, doing a good job, sharing what God was doing in his life, reporting what was happening without concern (or awareness?) of the consequences, enduring hardship and injustice while continuing to pursue God with a good attitude, and following God all the days of his life! Everybody talks about Solomon, but Joseph delivered Israel and ruled over Egypt! Thank you for sharing about Joseph!

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