Shemot (Audio Portion)
Shemot means “the names,” and it is almost impossible to do justice in a few lines to such a majestic portion. We begin with the set-up of “the Pharaoh who did not know Joseph” and who therefore enslaves the Israelites (probably Ahmose I). Despite an edict to kill all Hebrew male infants, Moshe escapes and is adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter called “Bithia” by the rabbis, “Thermuthis” by Josephus or “Tarmuth” by the Talmud. Moshe is raised as a Prince of Egypt until he kills an overseer for beating a Hebrew slave. Then he flees to Midian and is given shelter by Jethro, priest of Midian, but it is in the wilderness outside of Midian that Moshe meets Abba YHWH for the first time as he climbs Mount Sinai. Abba YHWH reveals Himself and gives Moshe his true purpose—he is to return to Egypt and free the slaves. The portion though ends on a down note, with Pharaoh refusing and saying they must now make bricks without straw, so Abba YHWH warns a fearsome judgment is on the way.