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January 6, 2024: Parashah Torah Portion Shemot

This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Shemot is taken from Exodus 1:1-6:1. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he answers two profound questions that Moses proposed to ADONAI at the burning bush: "Who am I, and Who are You?". We too need to analyze ourselves and ask these same questions as we too are called to prepare the way for ADONAI!


Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Parashah Torah Portion:

Parashah Torah Portion Shemot, Moses and the burning bush Exodus 1:1-6:1

Lion of Judah Speaks: Parashah Torah Portion Vayechi - Exodus 1:1-6:1:


As we enter this Torah Portion, we see Moses asking two questions.  Who am I, and Who are You?  Let’s look at the second question that was asked at the burning bush…Who are you? (Ex. 3:13). The first question was "Mi anochi?" (Who am I)? in verse 11.  Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?  How can I possibly get the Israelites out of Egypt?  On the surface the meaning is clear:  Who am I to be worthy of such a great mission? and how can I possibly succeed?  Notice Adonai answers the second part of the first question:  You will succeed because I am not asking you to do it alone!  In fact, I am not really asking you to do it at all…I will be doing it for you!

 

Elohim was saying to Moses that He wanted him to be His representative, His mouthpiece, His emissary, and His voice!  Elohim never answered the first question: "Mi anochi?" (Who am I)?  But perhaps in a strange way Moses answered the question himself. 

 

When we look in the Tanach as a whole, the people who turn out to be the worthiest are the ones who deny that they are worthy at all. The prophet Isaiah said, “I am a man of unclean lips.”    The prophet Jeremiah said, “I cannot speak, for I am a child.”  King David echoed the words of Moses by asking, “Mi anochi?"  We also have Jonah who just tried to run away.  In the Rabbinical writings we see that some believe that Ya’akov was about to run away when he found his way blocked by the man whom he wrestled…who knows for sure.

 

What we do know is that the heroes of the Bible are not figures from Greek or any mythology.  They are not people possessed of a sense of destiny, determined at an early age to achieve fame.  They don’t have a proper sense of their own worth and don’t carry themselves with superiority.  They didn’t go to Harvard, Yale or Brown and were not born to rule.  They were people who doubted their own abilities, and they felt like giving up at times.  They were people who prayed to die because of their despair.  However, they all became heroes of the moral life against their will.

 

There was work to be done, and Elohim told them so and they did it!  It is almost as if a sense of smallness is a sign of greatness.  Elohim never answered Moses, “Mi anochi?”  “Mi anochi” is not just a question about worthiness but it can also be a question about identity.

 

Moses was alone on Mt. Horeb and was summoned by “I AM that I AM” to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and  is not just speaking to Yah when he says those words but  is speaking to himself…Who am I or “Mi anochi?”

 

We have two possible answers to this question:  First: Moses is a prince of Egypt who was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter.  He grew up like an Egyptian and dressed and acted like one too.  He also looked and spoke like an Egyptian.  The name Moses is an ancient Egyptian word meaning “child.”  The etymology given in Torah shows that Moses means, “I drew him from water”, which tells us what the word suggested to the Hebrew speaker.  “Mi anochi” means Moses is an Egyptian prince!

 

However, the second possible answer could be that he was a Midianite.  He might have had an Egyptian upbringing, but he had been forced to leave and made his home in Midian.  He married Zipporah who was a Midianite woman and was content to live there quietly as a shepherd.  Remember he left Egypt as a young man and was already 80 years old at the start of his mission when he first stood in front of Pharaoh.  The majority of his adult life was in Midian, far away from the Israelites and far away from the Egyptians.  Moses was a Midianite!

 

When Moses asks; “Mi anochi” …He doesn’t just feel unworthy but he also feels uninvolved.  He may be Hebrew by birth but he hasn’t suffered the fate of his people.  He didn’t grow up a Hebrew, and he didn’t live among them.  He had good reason that they wouldn’t recognize him as one of them anyway.  How could he be their leader?  Why should he even think of becoming their leader?

 

He could have reasoned that their fate was not his; He was not part of it; He was not responsible for it; He did not suffer from it; and He was not implicated in it!  In fact, when he did intervene, they said to him, “Who made you ruler and judge over us?” (Ex. 2:13-14)

 

Look at the choice Moses faced in his life:  On one hand: If he didn’t intervene, he would be living as a prince in Egypt with luxury and at ease.  On the other:  Having lived as a shepherd for these past 40 years he has gained a very quiet and peaceful life with a wife and children.  It is no wonder Elohim’s invite to lead the Israelites to freedom was resisted!

 

Why then did Moses accept the charge?  Why did Elohim know that he was the man for the task?  We find a hint in the name of his first-born son; Gershom, meaning “foreigner there.” (Ex. 2:22).  He did not feel at home in Midian…that was where he was but not who he was!  However, the real clue is found in Exodus 2:11, “One day, when Moses was a grown man, he went out to visit his kinsmen, and he watched them struggling at forced labor.  He saw an Egyptian strike a Hebrew, one of his kinsmen.”  These people were his people!  He may look like an Egyptian but he knew ultimately, he was not.  It was a transforming moment!

 

Not unlike Ruth who proclaimed “Your people will be my people and your Yah will be my Yah”, Ruth was un-Jewish by birth but Moses was un-Jewish by upbringing.  However, both knew that when they saw suffering and identified with the sufferer, they could not walk away!  This is called a covenant of fate, “brit goral.”  There are Jews who believe and those who don’t.  There are Jews who practice and those who don’t.  But there are few Jews who, when their people are suffering, can walk away saying, “this has nothing to do with me.”

 

Listen, there is a fundamental principle of faith and that is faith in the collective fate and destiny of the Jewish people.  In the writings it is defined as “separating yourself from the community” and is believed to be a sin which will deny you a share in the world to come!

 

“Mi anochi?”, asked Moses but in his heart, he knew the answer.  I am not Moses the Egyptian nor am I Moses the Midianite because when I see my people suffer, I am and cannot be anyone other than, Moses the Hebrew! And if that imposes responsibilities on me then I must shoulder them!  For I am who I am because my people are who they are!  That is Hebrew, Jewish and Mashiach identity…then and now!

 

As we look at what is happening in Israel and the hatred all over the world, we must make a stand!  Even if it doesn’t reach us where we live, we still cannot separate ourselves from our community!  We can never walk away…we must pray, support, encourage and let our voices be heard.  We must let them know that I Am that I AM has sent us to be a voice in the midst of the wilderness…Prepare ye the way of Adonai!  Repent for the Messiah is coming soon!  Be ready!

 

Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha,

 

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Adonai’s appointed day is here so let us gather and worship together the goodness of our Elohim.  Arise watchmen and sound the alarm and let it be heard among the nations…Yeshua is coming and His bride must make herself ready!  See you at the altar!

 

Shalom Aleichem


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