Parashat Shemot tells of the Israelites’ affliction in Egypt, the hiding and rescuing of the infant Moses, Moses in Midian, the calling of Moses, circumcision on the way, meeting the elders, and Moses before Pharaoh.
In the Haftorah, lsaiah tells of a future redemption when Israel will be saved from the internal Egypt that holds them captive until today.
In the Apostolics, Matthew tells of the Magi who come seeeking the Messiah, the King of the Jews.
The first portion of the book of Shemot/Exodus is Shemot, which means “He Lived.” This is the thirteenth Torah Portion.
Torah Portion: Shemot 1:1-6:1
Haftorah: Isaiah 27:6-28:13, 29:22-23
Apostolic: Matthew 2:1-12
You can read the portions below:
These are the names of the sons of Isra’el who came into Egypt with Ya‘akov; each man came with his household: Re’uven, Shim‘on, Levi, Y’hudah, Yissakhar, Z’vulun, Binyamin, Dan, Naftali, Gad and Asher. All told, there were seventy descendants of Ya‘akov; Yosef was already in Egypt. Yosef died, as did all his brothers and all that generation. The descendants of Isra’el were fruitful, increased abundantly, multiplied and grew very powerful; the land became filled with them. Now there arose a new king over Egypt. He knew nothing about Yosef but said to his people, “Look, the descendants of Isra’el have become a people too numerous and powerful for us. Come, let’s use wisdom in dealing with them. Otherwise, they’ll continue to multiply; and in the event of war they might ally themselves with our enemies, fight against us and leave the land altogether.” So they put slavemasters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built for Pharaoh the storage cities of Pitom and Ra‘amses. But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more they multiplied and expanded, until the Egyptians came to dread the people of Isra’el and worked them relentlessly, making their lives bitter with hard labor — digging clay, making bricks, all kinds of field work; and in all this toil they were shown no mercy. Moreover, the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was called Shifrah and the other Pu‘ah. “When you attend the Hebrew women and see them giving birth,” he said, “if it’s a boy, kill him; but if it’s a girl, let her live.” However, the midwives were G-d-fearing women, so they didn’t do as the king of Egypt ordered but let the boys live. (ii) The king of Egypt summoned the midwives and demanded of them, “Why have you done this and let the boys live?” The midwives answered Pharaoh, “It’s because the Hebrew women aren’t like the Egyptian women — they go into labor and give birth before the midwife arrives.” Therefore G-d prospered the midwives, and the people continued to multiply and grow very powerful. Indeed, because the midwives feared G-d, he made them founders of families. Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every boy that is born, throw in the river; but let all the girls live.”
A man from the family of Levi took a woman also descended from Levi as his wife. When she conceived and had a son, upon seeing what a fine child he was, she hid him for three months. When she could no longer hide him, she took a papyrus basket, coated it with clay and tar, put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the riverbank. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him. The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the river while her maids-in-attendance walked along the riverside. Spotting the basket among the reeds, she sent her slave-girl to get it. She opened it and looked inside, and there in front of her was a crying baby boy! Moved with pity, she said, “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children.” At this point, his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Would you like me to go and find you one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter answered, “Yes, go.” So the girl went and called the baby’s own mother. Pharaoh’s daughter told her, “Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will pay you for doing it.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. Then, when the child had grown some, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter; and she began to raise him as her son. She called him Moshe [pull out], explaining, “Because I pulled him out of the water.” (iii) One day, when Moshe was a grown man, he went out to visit his kinsmen; and he watched them struggling at forced labor. He saw an Egyptian strike a Hebrew, one of his kinsmen. He looked this way and that; and when he saw that no one was around, he killed the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand. The next day, he went out and saw two Hebrew men fighting with each other. To the one in the wrong he said, “Why are you hitting your companion?” He retorted, “Who appointed you ruler and judge over us? Do you intend to kill me the way you killed the Egyptian?” Moshe became frightened. “Clearly,” he thought, “the matter has become known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he tried to have Moshe put to death. But Moshe fled from Pharaoh to live in the land of Midyan. One day, as he was sitting by a well, the seven daughters of the priest of Midyan came to draw water. They had filled the troughs to water their father’s sheep, when the shepherds came and tried to drive them away. But Moshe got up and defended them; then he watered their sheep. When they came to Re‘u’el their father, he said, “How come you’re back so soon today?” They answered, “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds; more than that, he drew water for us and watered the sheep.” He asked his daughters, “Where is he? Why did you leave the man there? Invite him to have something to eat.” Moshe was glad to stay on with the man, and he gave Moshe his daughter Tzipporah in marriage. She gave birth to a son, and he named him Gershom [foreigner there], for he said, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land.” Sometime during those many years the king of Egypt died, but the people of Isra’el still groaned under the yoke of slavery, and they cried out, and their cry for rescue from slavery came up to G-d. G-d heard their groaning, and G-d remembered his covenant with Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya‘akov. G-d saw the people of Isra’el, and G-d acknowledged them.
(iv) Now Moshe was tending the sheep of Yitro his father-in-law, the priest of Midyan. Leading the flock to the far side of the desert, he came to the mountain of G-d, to Horev. The angel of HaShem appeared to him in a fire blazing from the middle of a bush. He looked and saw that although the bush was flaming with fire, yet the bush was not being burned up. Moshe said, “I’m going to go over and see this amazing sight and find out why the bush isn’t being burned up.” When HaShem saw that he had gone over to see, G-d called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moshe! Moshe!” He answered, “Here I am.” He said, “Don’t come any closer! Take your sandals off your feet, because the place where you are standing is holy ground. I am the G-d of your father,” he continued, “the G-d of Avraham, the G-d of Yitz’chak and the G-d of Ya‘akov.” Moshe covered his face, because he was afraid to look at G-d. HaShem said, “I have seen how my people are being oppressed in Egypt and heard their cry for release from their slavemasters, because I know their pain. I have come down to rescue them from the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that country to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey, the place of the Kena‘ani, Hitti, Emori, P’rizi, Hivi and Y’vusi. Yes, the cry of the people of Isra’el has come to me, and I have seen how terribly the Egyptians oppress them. Therefore, now, come; and I will send you to Pharaoh; so that you can lead my people, the descendants of Isra’el, out of Egypt.” Moshe said to G-d, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the people of Isra’el out of Egypt?” He replied, “I will surely be with you. Your sign that I have sent you will be that when you have led the people out of Egypt, you will worship G-d on this mountain.” Moshe said to G-d, “Look, when I appear before the people of Isra’el and say to them, ‘The G-d of your ancestors has sent me to you’; and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?” G-d said to Moshe, “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh [I am/will be what I am/will be],” and added, “Here is what to say to the people of Isra’el: ‘Ehyeh [I Am or I Will Be] has sent me to you.’” G-d said further to Moshe, “Say this to the people of Isra’el: ‘Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh [HaShem], the G-d of your fathers, the G-d of Avraham, the G-d of Yitz’chak and the G-d of Ya‘akov, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever; this is how I am to be remembered generation after generation. (v) Go, gather the leaders of Isra’el together, and say to them, ‘HaShem, the G-d of your fathers, the G-d of Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya‘akov, has appeared to me and said, “I have been paying close attention to you and have seen what is being done to you in Egypt; and I have said that I will lead you up out of the misery of Egypt to the land of the Kena‘ani, Hitti, Emori, P’rizi, Hivi and Y’vusi, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ They will heed what you say. Then you will come, you and the leaders of Isra’el, before the king of Egypt; and you will tell him, ‘HaShem, the G-d of the Hebrews, has met with us. Now, please, let us go three days’ journey into the desert; so that we can sacrifice to HaShem our G-d.’ I know that the king of Egypt will not let you leave unless he is forced to do so. But I will reach out my hand and strike Egypt with all my wonders that I will do there. After that, he will let you go. Moreover, I will make the Egyptians so well-disposed toward this people that when you go, you won’t go empty-handed. Rather, all the women will ask their neighbors and house guests for silver and gold jewelry and clothing, with which you will dress your own sons and daughters. In this way you will plunder the Egyptians.”
Moshe replied, “But I’m certain they won’t believe me, and they won’t listen to what I say, because they’ll say, ‘HaShem did not appear to you.’” HaShem answered him, “What is that in your hand?” and he said, “A staff.” He said, “Throw it on the ground!” and he threw it on the ground. It turned into a snake, and Moshe recoiled from it. Then HaShem said to Moshe, “Put your hand out and take it by the tail.” He reached out with his hand and took hold of it, and it became a staff in his hand. “This is so that they will believe that HaShem, the G-d of their fathers, the G-d of Avraham, the G-d of Yitz’chak and the G-d of Ya‘akov, has appeared to you!” Furthermore HaShem said to him, “Now put your hand inside your coat.” He put his hand in his coat; and when he took it out his hand was leprous, as white as snow. Then G-d said, “Now put your hand back in your coat.” He put his hand back in his coat; and when he took it out, it was as healthy as the rest of his body. “If they won’t believe you or heed the evidence of the first sign, they will be convinced by the second. But if they aren’t persuaded even by both these signs and still won’t listen to what you say, then take some water from the river, and pour it on the ground. The water you take from the river will turn into blood on the dry land.” Moshe said to HaShem, “Oh, HaShem, I’m a terrible speaker. I always have been, and I’m no better now, even after you’ve spoken to your servant! My words come slowly, my tongue moves slowly.” HaShem answered him, “Who gives a person a mouth? Who makes a person dumb or deaf, keen-sighted or blind? Isn’t it I, HaShem? Now, therefore, go; and I will be with your mouth and will teach you what to say.” But he replied, “Please, Lord, send someone else — anyone you want!” At this, HaShem’s anger blazed up against Moshe; he said, “Don’t you have a brother, Aharon the Levi? I know that he’s a good speaker. In fact, here he is now, coming out to meet you; and he’ll be happy to see you. You will speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I will be with your mouth and his, teaching you both what to do. Thus he will be your spokesman to the people, in effect; for you, he will be a mouth; and for him, you will be like G-d. Now take this staff in your hand, because you need it to perform the signs.” (vi) Moshe left, returned to Yitro his father-in-law and said to him, “I beg you to let me go and return to my kinsmen in Egypt, to see if they are still alive.” Yitro said to Moshe, “Go in peace.” HaShem said to Moshe in Midyan, “Go on back to Egypt, because all the men who wanted to kill you are dead.” So Moshe took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey, and started out for Egypt. Moshe took G-d’s staff in his hand. HaShem said to Moshe, “When you get back to Egypt, make sure that you do before Pharaoh every one of the wonders I have enabled you to do. Nevertheless, I am going to make him hardhearted, and he will refuse to let the people go. Then you are to tell Pharaoh: ‘HaShem says, “Isra’el is my firstborn son. I have told you to let my son go in order to worship me, but you have refused to let him go. Well, then, I will kill your firstborn son!”’” At a lodging-place on the way, HaShem met Moshe and would have killed him, had not Tzipporah taken a flintstone and cut off the foreskin of her son. She threw it at his feet, saying, “What a bloody bridegroom you are for me!” But then, G-d let Moshe be. She added, “A bloody bridegroom because of the circumcision!” HaShem said to Aharon, “Go into the desert to meet Moshe.” He went, met him at the mountain of G-d and kissed him. Moshe told him everything HaShem had said in sending him, including all the signs he had ordered him to perform. Then Moshe and Aharon went and gathered together all the leaders of the people of Isra’el. Aharon said everything HaShem had told Moshe, who then performed the signs for the people to see. The people believed; when they heard that HaShem had remembered the people of Isra’el and seen how they were oppressed, they bowed their heads and worshipped.
(vii) After that, Moshe and Aharon came and said to Pharaoh, “Here is what HaShem, the G-d of Isra’el, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they can celebrate a festival in the desert to honor me.’” But Pharaoh replied, “Who is HaShem, that I should obey when he says to let Isra’el go? I don’t know HaShem, and I also won’t let Isra’el go.” They said, “The G-d of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go three days’ journey into the desert, so that we can sacrifice to HaShem our G-d. Otherwise, he may strike us with a plague or with the sword.” The king of Egypt answered them, “Moshe and Aharon, what do you mean by taking the people away from their work? Get back to your labor! Look!” Pharaoh added, “the population of the land has grown, yet you are trying to have them stop working!” That same day Pharaoh ordered the slavemasters and the people’s foremen, “You are no longer to provide straw for the bricks the people are making, as you did before. Let them go and gather straw for themselves. But you will require them to produce the same quantity of bricks as before, don’t reduce it, because they’re lazing around. This is why they’re crying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our G-d.’ Give these people harder work to do. That will keep them too busy to pay attention to speeches full of lies.” The people’s slavemasters went out, their foremen too, and said to the people, “Here is what Pharaoh says: ‘I will no longer give you straw. You go, yourselves, and get straw wherever you can find it. But your output is not to be reduced.’” So the people were dispersed throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. The slavemasters kept pressing them. “Keep working! Make your daily quota, just as when straw was provided.” The foremen of the people of Isra’el, whom Pharaoh’s slavemasters had appointed to be over them, were flogged and asked, “Why haven’t you fulfilled your quota of bricks yesterday and today, as you did formerly?” Then the foremen of the people of Isra’el came and complained to Pharaoh: “Why are you treating your servants this way? No straw is given to your servants, yet they keep telling us to make bricks. And now your servants are being flogged, but the fault lies with your own people.” “Lazy!” he retorted, “You’re just lazy! That’s why you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to HaShem.’ Get going now, and get back to work! No straw will be given to you, and you will still deliver the full amount of bricks.” When they said, “You are not to reduce your daily production quota of bricks,” the foremen of the people of Isra’el could see that they were in deep trouble. As they were leaving Pharaoh, they encountered Moshe and Aharon standing by the road; and they said to them, “May HaShem look at you and judge accordingly, because you have made us utterly abhorrent in the view of Pharaoh and his servants, and you have put a sword in their hands to kill us!” (Maftir) Moshe returned to HaShem and said, “HaShem, why have you treated this people so terribly? What has been the value of sending me? For ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has dealt terribly with this people! And you haven’t rescued your people at all!”
HaShem said to Moshe, “Now you will see what I am going to do to Pharaoh. With a mighty hand he will send them off; with force he will drive them from the land!”
The time is coming when Ya‘akov will take root;
Isra’el will bud and flower,
and fill the whole world with a harvest.
[The LORD] will not strike Isra’el,
as he did others who struck Isra’el;
he will not kill them,
as he did the others.
Your controversy with her is fully resolved
by sending her [into exile].
He removes her with a rough gust of wind
on a day when it’s blowing from the east.
So the iniquity of Ya‘akov is atoned for by this,
and removing his sin produces this result:
he chops up all the altar stones like chalk —
sacred poles and sun-pillars stand no more.
For the fortified city is alone,
abandoned and deserted, like the desert.
Calves graze and lie down there,
stripping its branches bare.
When its harvest dries up, it is broken off;
women come and set it on fire.
For this is a people without understanding.
Therefore he who made them will not pity them,
he who formed them will show them no mercy.
On that day The LORD will beat out the grain
between the Euphrates River and the Vadi of Egypt;
and you will be gathered, one by one,
people of Isra’el!
On that day a great shofar will sound.
Those lost in the land of Ashur will come,
also those scattered through the land of Egypt;
and they will worship The LORD
on the holy mountain in Yerushalayim.
Woe to the haughty crown of Efrayim’s drunks,
to the fading flower of its proud splendor,
located at the head of the rich valley
belonging to people overcome by wine!
The LORD has someone strong and powerful.
He comes like a hailstorm, a destructive tempest,
like a flood of water, rushing, overwhelming;
with his hand he hurls them to the ground.
The haughty crown of Efrayim’s drunks
is trampled underfoot;
and the fading flower of its proud splendor,
located at the head of the rich valley,
is like the first ripe fig of summer —
whoever sees it picks and eats it.
On that day, The LORD of Hosts
will be a glorious crown,
a brilliant diadem
for the remnant of his people.
He will also be a spirit of justice
for whoever sits as a judge,
and a source of strength for those
repelling enemy attacks at the gate.
But there are others reeling from wine,
staggering about because of strong liquor;
cohen and prophet reel from strong liquor,
they are confused by wine.
Led astray by strong liquor,
they err in their visions and stumble when judging.
All tables are covered with vomit and feces,
not a single place is clean.
Can no one be taught anything?
Can no one understand the message?
Must one teach barely weaned toddlers,
babies just taken from the breast,
so that [one has to use nursery rhymes]? —
Tzav la-tzav, tzav la-tzav,
kav la-kav, kav la-kav
z‘eir sham, z‘eir sham
[Precept by precept, precept by precept,
line by line, line by line,
a little here, a little there].
So with stammering lips, in a foreign accent,
[The LORD] will speak to this people.
He once told this people, “It’s time to rest,
the exhausted can rest, now you can relax” —
but they wouldn’t listen.
So now the word of The LORD for them comes
“precept by precept, precept by precept,
line by line, line by line,
a little here, a little there,”
so that when they walk, they stumble backward,
and are broken, trapped and captured!
Therefore, here are the words of The LORD, who redeemed Avraham, concerning the house
“Ya‘akov will no longer be ashamed,
no longer will his face grow pale.
When his descendants see the work of my hands
among them, they will consecrate my name.
Yes, they will consecrate the Holy one of Ya‘akov
and stand in awe of the G-d of Isra’el.
After Yeshua was born in Beit-Lechem in the land of Y’hudah during the time when Herod was king, Magi from the east came to Yerushalayim and asked, “Where is the newborn King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard of this he became very agitated, and so did everyone else in Yerushalayim. He called together all the head cohanim and Torah-teachers of the people and asked them, “Where will the Messiah be born?” “In Beit-Lechem of Y’hudah,” they replied, “because the prophet wrote, ‘And you, Beit-Lechem in the land of Y’hudah, are by no means the least among the rulers of Y’hudah; for from you will come a Ruler who will shepherd my people Isra’el.’” Herod summoned the Magi to meet with him privately and asked them exactly when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Beit-Lechem with these instructions: “Search carefully for the child; and when you find him, let me know, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had listened to the king, they went away; and the star which they had seen in the east went in front of them until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. Upon entering the house, they saw the child with his mother Miryam; and they prostrated themselves and worshipped him. Then they opened their bags and presented him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. But they had been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they took another route back to their own country.