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Here we see an amazing fulfillment of prophecy. Through Moses, G-d leads the children of Israel out of Egypt and they take with them Joseph’s bones just as Joseph requests in Genesis 50:25. The interesting part is the language used. We know that Joseph’s body was not simply laid in a cave and left to naturally decay. His body was embalmed and placed in a coffin. (Gen. 50:26) So why would Joseph use the word bones instead of body? Bones, of course, is simply another word to describe a dead person but it is also a reminder that a body without the spirit is a heap of bones.

“Thus says the L-rd G-D to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.”  Ezekiel 37:5

Despite the process of embalming, mummifying, or any other postmortem preservation the body is nothing but bones without the breath of life. You may ask, “Then what was the point of taking the bones? They were useless.” Indeed, they were useless but Joseph was taught that we are commanded to bury the dead (Deut. 21:23) and that the burial site is significant. (Gen. 23:4, 49:31, 50:13) Joseph desired to be taken out of Egypt and to receive a permanent and biblical burial. By the grace of HaShem Joseph’s request was fulfilled.

“As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt, they buried them at Shechem, in the piece of land that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money. It became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph.” Joshua 24:32

“By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.” Hebrews 11:22

I believe an addition lesson encapsulated in the text is the significance of a reputation. Our bodies do not last, but our reputation endures. Joseph had a reputation for being a man of G-d and a son of Israel. Being buried in a pagan land amongst a pagan people, whom G-d judged, would have diminished this reputation. Have we wisely prepared for the future? Have we evaluated our associations? We too, should conduct ourselves accordingly and ensure that our reputation glorifies G-d even after our death. Our lives are not our own.

This week we see a most brutal (yet deserving) exacting of punishment. HaShem not only preserves Israel but utterly destroys the Egyptian army. All of them.

“The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.” Exodus 14:9

Examples of Pharaoh’s selfishness and arrogance are littered throughout the book of Exodus. In this portion, Pharaoh launches his whole army against Israel, but Pharaoh himself is not mentioned when they pursue into the sea.

“The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.” Exodus 14:23

I do not believe that Pharaoh drown with the rest of the Egyptians. I believe Pharaoh’s cowardice spared him but he was forced to watch as his entire army, his protection, was decimated. He was the only one left standing which meant he was the only one to blame. HaShem punished Pharaoh according to his filthy sin of pride. By giving Pharaoh his desire (his life) He took from him what he needed. (security, safety) For those of us who read the Proverbs this should come as no surprise.

 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

In conclusion, this year I was struck by a wonderful verse in this week’s portion that paints a picture of a beautiful place and also symbolized Israel.

“Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water.” Exodus 15:27

Elim must have been a beautiful oasis in the midst of the wilderness! Plenty of fresh water, shade, and the sweet smell of palm trees surrounded the entire encampment. In addition, this verse symbolizes the ideal Israel. The twelve springs of water feed one large body of water just as twelve tribes of Israel encompasses G-d’s chosen people.  One nation, following one G-d. (Ez. 37:22) Also, the seventy palm trees are a canopy that cover those beneath just like seventy righteous men (Num.11:16) who protect and represent the people. G-d’s design is to have a united nation, serving Him, within the structure described in the Bible. May it be so soon and in our days.

Come quickly L-rd Yeshua!

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Throughout Scripture an east wind represents destruction and demonstration of power. It is an east wind in this week’s parasha that brings the locust swarm, it is an east wind that drove the sea back in next week’s parasha, and it is the power of the east wind that Ephraim will seek.

“So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the L-RD brought an east wind upon the land all that day and all that night. When it was morning, the east wind had brought the locusts.”  Exodus 10:13

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the L-RD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.” Exodus 14:21

“Ephraim feeds on the wind and pursues the east wind all day long; they multiply falsehood and violence; they make a covenant with Assyria, and oil is carried to Egypt.” Hosea 12:1

However, the plague is removed by a “very strong west wind.” In Exodus 10:19, the Hebrew word for “west” is yam and it is also the Hebrew word for “sea” in this verse. There are several other verses that use yam to describe west which is understandable because a sea, valley, or mountain was a helpful landmark to describe direction and location. Another Hebrew word for west is ma`arav. This word is only used 14 times in the Tanach and it is used to describe more of the general direction west. Nevertheless, the word yam is used to describe the wind in Exodus 10:19. Basically the yam wind drove the locusts into the yam. Isn’t Hebrew such a vivid and picturesque language? We would know that locusts were pushed toward the sea without even having the latter half of the verse! It is also intriguing that the locusts are destroyed in the Red Sea which is the same fate of the Egyptians. This is ironic too because Pharaoh describes the swarm as “death” in Exodus 10:17.

This parasha gives a detailed description of the pesach lamb and the activities carried out during the festival. There are two different words used to describe a sheep or lamb in this portion. The first is the word seh and the other is the word keves. The latter is used more often but seh is special. Seh is used to correlate the Messianic references in the binding of Isaac and the pesach lamb.

“Your lamb (seh) shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep (keves) or from the goats,” Exodus 12:5

“Abraham said, ‘G-d will provide for himself the lamb (seh) for a burnt offering, my son.’ So they went both of them together.” Genesis 22:8

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb (seh) that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7

Not only is this evidence of Yeshua in the Torah but these verses reveal the Messianic significance of physical salvation. We should not forget that we are literally commanded to remember the exodus from Egypt. Even David says that he will speak of G-d’s salvation all the day. (Ps. 71:15) Each example of physical and national salvation in the Torah is very important and it should remind us of our eternal salvation. Our prayers should be reiterations of these miraculous examples. Our sharing of the Gospel should never lack these descriptions. With this knowledge our observance of Pesach should become a harmonious blend of remembrance and hope. Remembering G-d’s mighty act of salvation and looking forward to the awe-inspiring return of His Son. In Matthew 25:32, Yeshua is described as the Shepherd who will separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep are His people and the goats are the wicked. Similarly, this week’s parasha describes G-d separating His people from the land of Egypt. Through Moses, G-d separated His people from Egpyt and through the Prophet like Moses G-d will separate His people from the decaying world. What a gracious and mighty G-d we serve!

“Shemot” or names is an intriguing name for this portion, wouldn’t you say? One may expect the genealogy of a patriarch or another long list of names. This portion does begin with the names of the sons of Israel but then it proceeds with the beginning of an amazing story of salvation. The first use of the word shem (name) is in Genesis 2:11 where it mentions the names of the four rivers that flow from the Garden of Eden. The verse says:

“The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.”

The interesting part about this verse is the similarities to this week’s portion. The name Pishon means “increase” which is exactly what the children of Israel did!

“But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.” Exodus 1:7

Also, “there is gold” in the land that the Pishon river encircles which is exactly what the children of Israel will possess when they are saved from Egypt!

“And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.” Exodus 3:21-22

As the portion progresses, we quickly discover that this portion and the whole book of Exodus is about salvation. Of course, the entire Bible is about salvation as well but Exodus records the miraculous details of G-d saving His people from Egypt. This event was so incredible that we are literally commanded to “remember” when HaShem brought us out of the land of Egypt in Deuteronomy 5:15. I find it interesting that G-d uses Moses to lead the exodus because G-d also used a river to spare his life or “save” him. This goes right back to the verse in Genesis that describes the river of increase flowing from the Garden of Eden. We await the day when everything will come full circle and we will dwell, once again, with HaShem in the Garden of Eden, but the only way that is possible is if He saves us through the blood of Messiah Yeshua.

To strongly emphasize the fact that Israel needed a savior, the phrase “ruthlessly made them work as slaves.” is repeated twice in Exodus 1:13-14. Life must have been absolutely miserable and it clearly reached the point where salvation by any human effort was impossible. Though G-d does not forsake His children (Dt. 31:6) and, as it says in Exodus 3:7, G-d heard the cry of the people and saw their affliction. Just as Pharaoh’s daughter took pity on Moses because he was crying G-d also took pity on the children of Israel and rescued them.

In the Bible names can describe a function, reveal character, string together many verse to form an idea, and they can identify something/someone. It is amazing to see that even in the midst of a death sentence on Hebrew male boys Moses was still able to survive and maintain his identity.

“One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people (mayechav).” Exodus 2:11

The word mayechav contains the root word ach which means “brother.” It is clear from this verse that Moses knew who he was and who his brothers were. You may say, “Well what about this verse?:

“They said, ‘An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock.’” Exodus 2:19

The daughters of Reuel thought Moses was Egyptian!” Personally I think he was disguised as an Egyptian or perhaps he always dressed like one. Otherwise he would not have been able to escape Egypt so easily. No one would question an Egyptian leaving Egypt but if he looked Hebrew the soldiers would have caught him. Besides Moses never refers to himself as an Egyptian, but he does call the Hebrews his brothers.

“Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, ‘Please let me go back to my brothers in Egypt to see whether they are still alive.’ And Jethro said to Moses, ‘Go in peace.’” Exodus 4:18

In conclusion, I recently had the privilege to hear an excellent response to the Sacred Name movement from Mr. Tim Hegg of Torah Resource.  The information about the class is on the home page of his website here. I bring this up because several verses in this week’s parasha contribute significantly to the biblical understanding of G-d’s name.

I leave you with a few questions to ponder this week.

Why was G-d about to kill Moses? (4:24)

What was the significance of Zipporah’s statements when she circumcised her son? (4:25-26)

What was significant about the 3 signs HaShem commanded Moses to perform? Why those signs? (4:3-9)

Why aren’t the names of Moses’ parents revealed until chapter 6?

Did Jochebed actually raise Moses and then give him to Pharaoh’s daughter? (2:8-10)

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