Torah Study Notes 12-22-13

December 22, 2013
p. 346
Exodus is called “sh’mot” in the Torah – which means “names.”
1:1 “…the Israeli’s were fertile and prolific, they multiplied and increased very greatly…” They were situated in a region of the Nile delta known as Goshen.
1:8 Note the hapax legomenon (see: of “shrewdly” which means a single use of a word in a text. The word does not appear elsewhere in scripture. The Hebrew word is “wisely. RR: Why did they stay so long in Egypt? The initial reason for going to Egypt was to flee famine in the east. PG: There were clearly Israelites who did not know Joseph. Note that Joseph’s first son was named Menasha which means “I have forgotten.” Also, the Israelites have become integrated to some extent into Egyptian society so the notion of returning to their own land has been repressed. Contemporary scholarship suggests that the authors of this text were very ignorant of Egypt – particularly Egyptian geography. It has been argued that this was written during the Babylonian captivity and is a metaphor for the escape from Babylon. SN: This is a foundation story and highly politically motivated to support the Davidic line. It starts out with a genealogy and there is more of that as well as what makes a real leader. PG: Judah is elevated at the end of Exodus but up to then that tribe is not greatly mentioned. We also need to note Hermann Cohan’s analysis of nationhood vs people-hood.
PG: The arrivals at Ellis Island, although poor, were already middle-class in the sense that they valued education and had a rich culture. There was a background of study that was prepared for a life of the mind. SF: There is a mindset here, a set of values, that travel with these people.
1: 13 See footnote 15 on the etymology of the word “Hebrew” – “…they were not necessarily related except by common fate, and such may in part have been the case in their Egyptian slavery.” God is introduced here for the first time in the narrative. DC: Strange that they are killing the future workers as well as laborers. But now P has a warped obsession that they will become an army. Note that this is pre-Sinai so there is no “law” or “commandment” pertaining to murder. They are taking an intrinsically moral stand expressed in terms of “fearing God.” DC: Compare to the story of Jane Eyre who is brought up in an unethical household but still has the courage to stand up to power. Here the midwives are rewarded for their ethical attitude. Note the Hebrew word “erah” means awe as well as fear.

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  1. ibritter

     /  January 6, 2014

    Rabbi says “a prophet should never expect immediate results.” Which makes me wonder what a prophet should expect. Or, for that matter, if a prophet can expect anything more that anyone can expect.


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