Daniel and Karl are joined by Maggie Leidheiser-Stoddard to discuss Exodus Chapter 6, a chapter full of quarreling with God, insecurity about leadership, and lots and lots of genealogy. We all ended up feeling sorry for Moses, and wondering why verses 26 and 27 go out of their way to assure us that it’s the Moses and Aaron the descendants of Levi who were battling Pharaoh, not some other Moses and Aaron. Were there a lot of Moses and Aaron’s running around in the ancient world?
Listen to episode using the player below, or subscribe to the podcast through iTunes. Scroll down to find the midrash we discussed today.
(Rashi, 6:2) God spoke to Moses: He called him to account since he [Moses] had spoken harshly by saying, “Why have You harmed this people?” (Exod. 5:22)-[from Tanchuma Buber, Va’era 4]
(Talmud, Sanhedrin 111a) G‑d spoke to Moses, and said to him: “I am G‑d. I revealed Myself to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob” (6:2–3)
G‑d said to Moses: I regret the loss of those who have passed away and are no longer found. Many times I revealed Myself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; they did not question My ways, nor did they say to me, “What is Your name?” You, on the other hand, asked from the start, “What is Your name?” and now you are saying to Me, “You have not saved Your people!”
(Rashi, 6:3) but [with] My name YHWH, I did not become known to them: It is not written here לֹא הוֹדַעְתִּי, “but My Name YHWH I did not make known to them,” but לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי, “I did not become known.” [I.e.,] I was not recognized by them with My attribute of keeping faith, by dint of which My name is called YHWH, [which means that I am] faithful to verify My words, for I made promises to them, but I did not fulfill [them while they were alive].
(Rashi, 6:5) And also, I heard: Just as I established and set up the covenant, it is incumbent upon Me to fulfill [it]. Therefore, I heard the moans [complaints] of the children of Israel, who are moaning.
(Nachmanides; Soforno) I will bring you out, I will save you, I will redeem you, I will take you (6:6–7)
The four expressions of redemption (represented at the Passover Seder by the Four Cups of wine) relate to the four aspects of our liberation from Egypt:
1) “I will bring out”—our physical removal from the geographical boundaries of Egypt;
2) “I will save”—our delivery from Egyptian hegemony (Egypt was a superpower that enslaved and oppressed many nations and peoples outside its borders);
3) “I will redeem”—the elimination of any future possibility of enslavement, by the “great judgments” inflicted upon the Egyptians;
4) “I will take you to Myself as a nation, and I will be to you a G‑d”—our election as G‑d’s chosen people at Mount Sinai, the purpose of the Exodus.
(Rashi, 6:9) but they did not hearken to Moses: They did not accept consolation. I.e., they despaired completely of ever being redeemed.
(Sefat Emet) Moses spoke before G‑d, saying: “Behold, the children of Israel have not listened to me; how then shall Pharaoh listen to me?” (6:12)
The previous verse, however, states the reason that the children of Israel did not listen to Moses—“because of their anguish of spirit and their cruel bondage.” Why, then, did Moses deduce from this that Pharaoh would not obey him?
But Moses knew that the power of a leader derives from his people. If he had not succeeded in penetrating their hearts, he would not be able to achieve anything on their behalf.
(Sifrei Beha’alotecha 91 / Rashi 6:13) and He commanded them concerning the children of Israel: He commanded regarding them [the Israelites] to lead them gently and to be patient with them.
(Rashi, 6:18) And the years of Kehath’s life and the years of Amram’s life etc: From this calculation we learn that the 400 year sojourn of the B’nei Yisrael which Scriptures talks about, it was not [spent] in Egypt alone but, rather [was calculated] from the day Yitzchok was born. [This can be calculated thus:] For Kehath was among those who went down to Egypt, [Now] calculate all his years and the years of Amram, [his son] and the eighty years of Moshe, you will find that they do not total 400 years, many of the [sons’] years are included in the fathers’ years
(Chizkuni) Amram took Yocheved, his father’s sister, as a wife (6:20)
Why did G‑d agree that a great man such as Moses should be the product of a marriage which is destined to be forbidden? (After the giving of the Torah, marriage with one’s aunt is regarded as incestuous.) Because no man is appointed as an authority over the community unless there is something objectionable in his past, lest he lord it over the community. (As was the case with King David, who was descended from the seemingly legally questionable marriage of Boaz and Ruth.)
(Rashi, 6:23) the sister of Nahshon: From here we learn that one who contemplates taking a wife must [first] investigate her brothers. — [from B.B. 110a, Exod. Rabbah 7:5]