Parashat Sh'mot

The Israelites are slaves to Pharaoh and God instructs Moses to liberate his people. Moses and Aaron approach Pharaoh, who refuses their request.

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The following article is reprinted with permission from Jewish Family & Life!

A New Pharaoh Rises

The sons of Israel in Egypt were fruitful in births, and the people grew strong. Now a new Pharaoh rose up over Egypt who knew nothing of Joseph. This Pharaoh was worried that the Israelite nation was too mighty. First he levied a tax on them, then he decided to make them slaves.

Next, Pharaoh ordered the Hebrew midwives, Shifrah and Puah, to kill all the Hebrew baby boys. But the midwives feared God and told Pharaoh that the Hebrew woman gave birth before they could arrive. God dealt well with the midwives and the Hebrews continued to multiply. The Pharaoh then commanded the people to throw every Hebrew baby boy into the river.

Moses is Born

Now, a Hebrew couple from the house of Levi had a son and kept him hidden for three months. When the mother could hide him no longer, she wove a basket, laid the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the banks of the river. Her sister placed herself at a distance to see what would happen to him.

When the Pharaoh's daughter came down to the river to bathe, she saw the basket with the crying child. She took pity on him so that when the baby’s sister asked, "Shall I call a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for you?" she said yes. The sister then fetched her mother. When the child had grown sufficiently, the mother brought him to the Pharaoh's daughter. She named him Moses because "I drew him from the water."

Moses Strikes an Egyptian

When Moses was an adult, he could see the burdens of his Hebrew brethren. One day, he saw an Egyptian man beating a Hebrew man. Moses turned this way and that and when he saw that no one was there, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

The next day Moses came upon two Hebrew men fighting. Moses said to the one in the wrong. "Why are you striking down your neighbor?" The man replied, "Who has made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?"

"So the matter is known," Moses said in fear.

Pharaoh heard too, and sought to kill Moses. Moses thus fled to the land of Midian. There he watered the sheep for the daughters of the priest of Midian and later married the priest's daughter, Tzipporah. She bore a son whom he called Gershom, for "I was a stranger in a foreign land."

In Egypt Pharaoh died, but the sons of Israel remained slaves. God heard the Hebrew slaves' cry of distress and remembered the covenant God had made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

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Nancy Reuben Greenfield

Nancy Reuben Greenfield has written three adaptations of the Torah, including an
interactive family version at, and an engaging
Jewish immigrant novel, The Golden Medina, available on itunes and Amazon.