Published Date: December 29, 2017
In this Shabbat’s weekly Torah portion Shemot Exodus 1:1–6:1, the children of Israel multiply in Egypt. Threatened by their growing numbers, Pharaoh enslaves them and orders the Hebrew midwives, Shifrah and Puah, to kill all male babies at birth. When they do not comply, he commands his people to cast the Hebrew babies into the Nile.
A child is born to Yocheved, the daughter of Levi, and her husband, Amram, and placed in a basket on the river, while the baby’s sister, Miriam, stands watch from afar. Pharaoh’s daughter discovers the boy, raises him as her son, and names him Moses.
In this week’s Haftara Prophets reading Isaiah 27:6–28:13; 29:22–23, parallels the week’s Torah reading on many levels. One of the parallels is the message of redemption conveyed by Isaiah—“and you shall be gathered one by one, O children of Israel”—that is reminiscent of the message of redemption that God spoke to Moses at the burning bush, a message that Moses then communicated to Pharaoh.
The haftorah vacillates between Isaiah’s prophecies concerning the future redemption, and his admonitions concerning the Jews’ drunken and Godless behavior. Isaiah starts on a positive note: “In the coming days, Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom, filling the face of the earth . . .” He mentions God’s mercy for His nation, and the measure-for-measure punishment He meted out upon the Egyptians who persecuted them. And regarding the future redemption: “You shall be gathered one by one, O children of Israel. And it will come to pass on that day that a great shofar will be sounded, and those lost in the land of Assyria and those exiled in the land of Egypt will come, and they will prostrate themselves before the Lord on the holy mount in Jerusalem.”