Our Blog

This week Karl Stevens and Daniel Bogart dive into Ch. 2 of Exodus during their Chevruta Bible Study.  You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes or other fine podcast distributors, or listen to it using the player below.  Show notes are also below.


Show Notes

Karl mentioned Rachel Wheeler’s article “Charlottesville, Exodus, and the Politics of Nostalgia” from Religion and Politics.  You can read the whole article here.

Here’s all of the midrash that Daniel provided for this episode:

Exodus 2

1-2 ; Life with birth family

(Talmud, Sotah 12a) She saw him, that he was good (2:2)

At the time when Moses was born, the whole house was filled with light. For it is written here, “She saw him that he was good,” and elsewhere it is written (Genesis 1:4), “G‑d saw the light that it was good.”

3-10 ; nile/pharoah’s daughter story

(Rashi) [When] she could no longer hide him (2:3)

because the Egyptians counted her [pregnancy] from the day that he [Amram] took her back. She bore him after [only] six months and one day (Sotah 12a), for a woman who gives birth to a seven-month child may give birth after incomplete [months] (Niddah 38b, R.H. 11a). And they searched after her at the end of nine [months].


(Midrash Rabbah) She called his name Moses (2:10)

From here you can infer how great is the reward of those who perform acts of kindness. For although Moses had many names, the name by which he is known throughout the Torah is the one which Bityah, the daughter of Pharaoh, called him, and even G‑d called him by no other name.

11-15 ; Killing the Egyptian man

(Midrash Rabbah) He went out to his brothers, and looked on their suffering (2:11)

He saw great burdens put upon small people, and light burdens upon big people; a man’s burden upon a woman, and a woman’s burden upon a man; the burden which an old man could carry on a youth, and of a youth on an old man. So he left his suite and rearranged their burdens, pretending all the time to be helping Pharaoh. G‑d then said to him: “You have put aside your affairs and have gone to share the sorrow of Israel, behaving to them like a brother; I too will leave those on high and below, and speak only with you.”

Moses saw that they had no rest, so he went to Pharaoh and said: “If one has a slave and he does not give him rest one day of the week, the slave dies.” Said Pharaoh: “Go and do with them as you say.” Thereupon Moses ordained for them the Sabbath day for rest.


(Rashi) Moses grew up: (2:11)

Was it not already written: The child grew up ? Rabbi Judah the son of Rabbi Ilai said: The first one (וַיִּגְדַּל) [was Moses growth] in height, and the second one [was his growth] in greatness, because Pharaoh appointed him over his house. [From Tanchuma Buber, Va’era 17]


(Rashi) an Egyptian man (2:11)

He was a taskmaster appointed over the Israelite officers. He would wake them when the rooster crowed, [to call them] to their work. [From Exod. Rabbah 1:28]


(Rashi) -striking a Hebrew man (2:11) :

He was lashing and driving him, and he [the Hebrew man] was the husband of Shelomith the daughter of Dibri [who was mentioned in Lev. 24:10], and he [the taskmaster] laid his eyes on her. So he woke him [the Hebrew] at night and took him out of his house, and he [the taskmaster] returned and entered the house and was intimate with his wife while she thought that he was her husband. The man returned home and became aware of the matter. When that Egyptian saw that he had become aware of the matter, he struck [him] and drove him all day [From Exod. Rabbah 1:28]


(Midrash Rabbah) He looked this way and that, and when he saw that there was no man (2:12)

He saw that there was no hope that any righteous person would arise from him or his offspring until the end of generations.


(Midrash Rabbah) He killed the Egyptian (2:12)

How did he kill him? Rabbi Eviatar said: With his fist. Others say that he took a shovel and cracked his skull. The rabbis say that he pronounced G‑d’s name against him and thereby killed him; thus [the Hebrew he saw fighting the next day] said to him, “Do you say to kill me?”


(Rashi) two Hebrew men were quarreling: (2:13)

Dathan and Abiram. They were the ones who saved some of the manna [when they had been forbidden to leave it overnight, as in Exod. 16:19, 20]. [From Exod. Rabbah 1:29]


(Rashi) and he sought to slay Moses: (2:15)

He delivered him to the executioner to execute him, but the sword had no power over him. That is [the meaning of] what Moses said, “and He saved me from Pharaoh’s חֶרֶב ” (Exod. 18:4). [From Mechilta, Yithro 1, Exod. Rabbah 1:321]

16-22 ; midian / driving away the shepherds / tzipporah

(Rashi) 16–Now the chief of Midian had (2:16):

Heb. וּלְכֹהֵן מִדְיָן, i.e., the most prominent among them. He had abandoned idolatry, so they banned him from [living with] them. [From Exod. Rabbah 1:32, Tanchuma, Shemoth 11]

23-25 ; God hears the cries of the suffering of the Jews

(Midrash Rabbah; Rashi) It came to pass, in the course of those many days, that the king of Egypt died; and the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage (2:23)

He didn’t actually die, but was afflicted with leprosy, and his physicians said to him that his only cure is to slaughter Hebrew children—150 in the morning and 150 in the evening—and bathe in their blood twice a day.


(Chiddushei HaRim) The children of Israel groaned because of the bondage (2:23)

Until this point, the children of Israel were so deeply sunk in their galut that they could not even sense it. But now, when the first budding of their redemption began to emerge, they could begin to feel the depth of their suffering.