Exodus 1:1-6:1

Exodus chapter 1, verse 1 to chapter 6, verse 1


Four hundred years after Jacob and his family settle in Egypt, a new Pharaoh comes to power and feels threatened by the Israelites, whose population has grown. He decides to make them slaves. He orders two midwives, Shifra and Pu’ah to kill all male children right after they were born. The midwives refuse, and Pharaoh then orders that all newborn boys be drowned in the Nile.

A Hebrew couple give birth to a son. They hide him and then decide to set him afloat on the Nile in a basket. The mother sends her daughter, the boy’s sister, named Miriam to follow the basket to see where it goes. Pharaoh’s daughter find the baby and saves him. Miriam arranged for the child’s mother to nurse him.

When the child grew more, Pharaoh’s daughter brought him to the palace to live. She names him “Mosel”, which means “I drew him out of the water”.

When Moses grows up he comes upon an Egyptian taskmaster beating a Hebrew slave. Moses kills the Egyptian and runs away from Egypt, settling in Midian. He meets the priest of Midian named Reul (also called Yitro), and eventually marries his daughter Tzipporah. They have a son named Gershom.

One day Moses is tending his flock. A sheep runs away and Moses follows it. He comes upon a burning bush, out of which he hears the voice of God. God tells Moses that he is to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and slavery to the Land of Israel. Moses tries to get out of this responsibility, and God provides signs and miracles that he can use to convince Pharaoh and Israelites that God really sent him. Moses’s brother, Aaron, will help him in this task, to be his spokesperson. Moses accepts this task and with Zipporah and his family, to Egypt.

In Egypt, Moses meets Aaron and they go to Pharaoh to demand that he lets the Israelites leave Egypt to worship God in the wilderness. Pharaoh refuses and instead, makes the Hebrews work harder,

Torah Portion in English

1) These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each coming with his household: 2) Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; 3) Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; 4) Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5) The total number of persons that were of Jacob’s issue came to seventy, Joseph being already in Egypt. 6) Joseph died, and all his brothers, and all that generation. 7) But the Israelites were fertile and prolific; they multiplied and increased very greatly, so that the land was filled with them.

8) A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph. 9) And he said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are much too numerous for us. 10) Let us deal shrewdly with them, so that they may not increase; otherwise in the event of war they may join our enemies in fighting against us and rise from the ground.” 11) So they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor; and they built garrison cities for Pharaoh: Pithom and Raamses. 12) But the more they were oppressed, the more they increased and spread out, so that the [Egyptians] came to dread the Israelites.

13) The Egyptians ruthlessly imposed upon the Israelites 14) the various labors that they made them perform. Ruthlessly they made life bitter for them with harsh labor at mortar and bricks and with all sorts of tasks in the field.

15) The king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16) saying, “When you deliver the Hebrew women, look at the birth stool: if it is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.” 17) The midwives, fearing God, did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live.

Getting to Know my Parasha

What Does my Parasha Say?

  1. Look at verse 8, above. What do you think it means that Pharaoh “didn’t know Joseph”?
  2. Why do you think that Pharaoh decided to make the Hebrews slaves?
  3. Why do you think the midwives refused Pharaoh’s orders. (Go to verse chapter 1, verse 15 for help).
  4. Why do you think Pharaoh’s daughter wanted to save Moses?
  5. Moses grew up in the palace. Why did Moses kill the Egyptian?
  6. What was Moses’s brother’s and sister’s names?
  7. When Moses said that he couldn’t do what God asked him to, what did God do?