By Mike Kreutzer
High-quality commentaries on Exodus (and other biblical books) are wonderful resources. They help us to understand the text and its context, and they can help us also to move beyond supposed “historical facts” to a deeper understanding of the biblical narratives. As the expression goes, they enable us to reflect on the “more-than-literal meaning.” (more…)
In his November 23rd column, David Brooks reflects on the Exodus narrative, and how its faded from American life. He writes that
The story of America…can be interpreted as a series of redemptions, of injury, suffering and healing fresh starts. Look at the mottos on our Great Seal: “A New Order for the Ages” and “Out of Many, One.” In the 18th century divisions between the colonists were partially healed. In the 19th century divisions between the free and enslaved were partially healed. In the 20th, America partially healed the divisions between democracy and totalitarianism. In the 21st, we have healing fresh starts still to come. The great sermon of redemption and reconciliation is Lincoln’s Second Inaugural. This is a speech of tremendous intellectual humility. None of us anticipated this conflict, or its magnitude. All of us “looked for an easier triumph.” None of us are fully in control. “Let us judge not that we be not judged.”
We asked attendees at Diocesan Convention to tell us what they’d learned from Exodus so far, and here are some of the responses we got back.
I am surprised by how wonderful it has been to preach and teach the Exodus story over the last months. It has deepened our whole parish’s understanding of how the Exodus story undergirds the Christ story and our understanding of how God acts in the world for us and with us.
This week Daniel and Karl are joined by the great Phyllis Spiegel as they delve into Exodus, Ch. 12. On the surface, Ch. 12 seems like a lot of throat-clearing for Ch. 13. But it does, in fact, allow us to ask the most profound questions about God and society. If you’re interested in that kind of thing, this podcast is for you! Listen using the player below or subscribe through iTunes or your favorite podcasting network. The midrash that Daniel provides is below the player. (more…)
Daniel and Karl delve into Jewish mysticism (and a little Christian mysticism, too) as they discuss Exodus Ch. 10. You can listen using the player below or by subscribing through iTunes. The midrash that Daniel provided is below the player.
J. White grew up Baptist and childhood church was in a parishioner’s home, so moving around to find places for worship and fellowship was part of her background. She’s been an Episcopalian for thirty years, and has noticed the typical Episcopal resistance to change. She thought that the focus on Exodus would legitimize the idea of doing something different. (more…)
Our Rabbi in Residence, Daniel Bogard, has been traveling the diocese leading Adult Forums at our churches. Here’s a video of his talk at Saint Anne’s in Westchester. Contact Karl Stevens (kpbstevens[at]gmail.com) if you would like Daniel to come and speak at your parish.
Daniel and Karl use Chapter 9 of Exodus as an opportunity to talk about idealism and realism, trauma and hope. In particular, they discuss ideas articulated in Rabbi David Hartman’s article “Auschwitz or Sinai?” You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes or your favorite podcast supplier, or listen to it below. Show notes and midrash are below the media player.
A DSO Big Read of Exodus
Chapters 9 & 10
(Rashi, 9:10) upon man and upon beast:
Now if you ask, “From where did they have beasts? Does it not say already, ‘and all the livestock of the Egyptians died’ (above, verse 6) ?” [I will answer that] the decree was leveled only upon those in the field, as it is said: “upon your livestock that is in the field” (above, verse 3), but he who feared the word of the Lord brought all his livestock into the houses, and so it is taught in the Mechilta (Beshallach 1) regarding “He took six hundred chosen chariots” (Exod. 14:7).
(Midrash Rabbah, 9:12) G‑d hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them
Following each of the first five plagues, it is written, “Pharaoh hardened his heart”; regarding the sixth plague it says, “G‑d hardened the heart of Pharaoh.” When G‑d saw that Pharaoh did not relent after the first five plagues, He said: Even if Pharaoh now wished to repent, I shall harden his heart, in order to exact full punishment from him.
(Rashi, 9:18) at this time tomorrow:
[Heb. כָּעֵתמָחָר lit., at the time tomorrow, meaning] at this time tomorrow. He made a scratch on the wall [to demonstrate that] “Tomorrow, when the sun reaches here, the hail will come down.” -[from Tanchuma, Va’era 16]
(Midrash Rabbah, 9:24) So there was hail, and fire flaring up within the hail
Imagine two fierce legions who were always at war with one another, but when the king needed their services for his own battle, he made peace between them, so that both should carry out the orders of the king. Likewise, fire and water are hostile to each other, but when the time came to do war with Egypt, G‑d made peace between them and both smote the Egyptians as “fire within the hail.”
(Rashi, 9:29) Moses went away from Pharaoh, out of the city, and spread out his hands to G‑d (9:29)
Moses did not wish to pray to G‑d inside the city, for it was full of idols.
(Midrash Rabbah, 9:33) The thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was no longer poured upon the earth
The hailstones which were on the way down when Moses prayed were suspended in midair, and did not reach the earth. When did they descend? In the days of Joshua they descended upon the Amorites, as it is written (Joshua 10:11): “It came to pass, as they fled from before Israel . . . that G‑d cast down great stones from heaven upon them.” The remainder will descend in the days of Gog and Magog.
Karl, Robin and Daniel delve into Exodus, Ch. 8, the plagues, the nature of good and evil, the nature of mercy and justice, and all the other large and intense questions, with a little midrashic humor thrown in. Listen here or subscribe on iTunes. The midrash that Daniel selected is below. (more…)
by Miriam McKenney
Exodus 14:35 Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.
My youth group is participating in The Big Read, Southern Ohio’s collective reading of the Book of Exodus. From the parting of the Red Sea to the repetitive instructions to build the Ark of the Covenant, we’re immersing ourselves into the word of God in old and new ways. (more…)