Torah Portion

Shemot

שמות

Exodus 1:1-6:1
Isaiah 27:6–28:13 & 29:22–23
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Moses and the Fugitive Hero Pattern

Moses and the Fugitive Hero Pattern

The story of Moses follows a pattern that is typical of ancient Near Eastern fugitive hero narratives. However, when Moses goes to Mount Horeb, the plot deviates from the usual “divine encounter” feature. What does this tell us about the composition of the story of Moses and the Burning Bush?

Prof.
Edward L. Greenstein
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Exodus Through Deception: Asking for a Three-Day Festival

Exodus Through Deception: Asking for a Three-Day Festival

From God’s first command to Moses, through the story of Israel’s escape, the demand for a three-day festival in the wilderness plays a prominent role in the plague narrative. Part of this ruse was Israel’s request to “borrow” Egyptian finery for the festival. Why does God want the Israelites to use deception?

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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Exodus: The History Behind the Story

Exodus: The History Behind the Story

The Elephantine Stele and the Great Harris Papyrus both describe Pharaoh Setnakhte’s war against the Levantine usurper Irsu in 1186 B.C.E. Reading these accounts together with Manetho’s story of the war against Osarseph offers us a possible historical context for what eventually became the Bible’s story of the exodus of Israel from Egypt.

Prof.
Israel Knohl
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The Depiction of Jeroboam and Hadad as Moses-like Saviors

The Depiction of Jeroboam and Hadad as Moses-like Saviors

Set against the Pharaonic Solomon, Jeroboam frees Israel from servitude and founds the Northern Kingdom. Hadad plays a similar role on behalf of the Edomites. Why are these two “rebels” depicted as heroes?

Dr.
Tzvi Novick
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The "Egyptian" Midwives: Recovering a Lost Midrashic Text

The "Egyptian" Midwives: Recovering a Lost Midrashic Text

The tale of the heroic midwives in Exodus 1:15 records how they risked their lives to save male Hebrew babies despite the charge given them by Pharaoh. Who are these midwives? If they are Israelites, why would Pharaoh trust them with such a task and not suspect their loyalty to their own people? If they are Egyptian, why would they betray their ruler and risk their lives? A text discovered at the Cairo Genizah sheds new light on this exegetical conundrum.

Dr.
Moshe Lavee
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Dr.
Shana Strauch-Schick
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Did Pharaoh’s Daughter Name Moses? In Hebrew?

Did Pharaoh’s Daughter Name Moses? In Hebrew?

She named him Moses (מֹשֶׁה) explaining, “I drew him (מְשִׁיתִהוּ) out of the water” (Exod 2:10).

Dr. Rabbi
David J. Zucker
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The Ethical Problem of Hardening Pharaoh's Heart

The Ethical Problem of Hardening Pharaoh's Heart

It seems unethical for God to deny Pharaoh free will and then punish him for his actions. Rashi, Nahmanides, and Maimonides all struggle with this problem, and each assumes that even Pharaoh deserves to be treated fairly.[1]

Prof. Rabbi
Shaul Magid
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The Death of Pharaoh's Firstborn: A One Plague Exodus

The Death of Pharaoh's Firstborn: A One Plague Exodus

After commissioning Moses at the burning bush, God commissions Moses again in Midian, and then again on his way to Egypt. In this third commission, God instructs Moses to tell Pharaoh, “Let My son go, that he may worship Me, yet you refuse to let him go. Now I will slay your firstborn son” (Exod 4:22-23). How does this narrative fit into the exodus story?

Dr. Rabbi
David Frankel
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The Birth of Moses: Between Bible and Midrash

The Birth of Moses: Between Bible and Midrash

The details of Moses birth story do not entirely cohere. By examining the midrash, and sifting through layers of the Torah text itself, we uncover a series of problems and solutions in the story which help to elucidate the way the text and its traditions evolved over time.

Dr.
Jacob L. Wright
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“All of Jacob’s Descendants Numbered Seventy-Five”: The Opening of Exodus in the Dead Sea Scrolls

“All of Jacob’s Descendants Numbered Seventy-Five”: The Opening of Exodus in the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Book of Exodus begins with an accounting of the members of Jacob's family who went with him to Egypt. Our Torah, the Masoretic Text, lists 70 people. Dead Sea Scroll manuscript 4QExb, however, records 75 people. How do we account for this and other differences between the texts?

Prof.
Marc Zvi Brettler
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Despoiling the Egyptians: A Concerning Jewish Legacy?

Despoiling the Egyptians: A Concerning Jewish Legacy?

19th century Anglo-Jewish translators defended the Israelites’ behavior against the King James translation’s perceived accusation that the Jews “borrowed” the Egyptians belongings and never returned them.

Prof.
Leonard Greenspoon
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The Title “Pharaoh”

The Title “Pharaoh”

The change in usage over time and what this tells us about the biblical text

Dr.
Shirly Ben-Dor Evian
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How Does God Answer the Question: "What Is Your Name?"

How Does God Answer the Question: "What Is Your Name?"

A redaction-critical answer to why the Torah has God commanding Moses to tell the Israelites two different names, Ehyeh and YHWH.

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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Who Were the Hebrews?

Who Were the Hebrews?

“Hebrew” in the Bible is often assumed to be another word for “Israelite” – but what does the biblical evidence say and where do the ANE Ḥabiru fit it?

Dr.
Albert D. Friedberg
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YHWH: The God that Is vs. the God that Becomes

YHWH: The God that Is vs. the God that Becomes

The meaning of God’s names, especially YHWH, is central to Jewish theology. Two approaches have dominated: the philosophical, focusing on God’s essence (“being”) and the kabbalistic, focusing on God’s evolving relationship with Israel (“becoming”). Some modern thinkers such as Malbim and Heschel have looked for new syntheses or formulations.

Prof.
James A. Diamond
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Shemot

שמות

Exodus 1:1-6:1

וַיִּקְרָא אֵלָיו אֱלֹהִים מִתּוֹךְ הַסְּנֶה וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה מֹשֶׁה וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּנִי׃

שמות ג:ד

God called to him out of the bush: “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.”

Exod 3:4

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Exodus

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