Shemot – Shlishi

The Prince of Egypt

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Moshe grew up under Pharaoh’s own roof as a prince of the nation. He got in the habit of going out to see what his native people were up to. One day, he saw an Egyptian taskmaster beating a Jewish slave. (It’s possible that the taskmaster killed the slave; the Hebrew verb to strike could go either way.) Moshe struck the taskmaster down (there’s that verb again!) and buried him in the sand.

The next day, Moshe was making his rounds when he saw two Jews fighting. When he tried to break it up, one of the men said to him, “Who made you the arbiter? If I don’t listen, will you kill me, too?” This made Moshe realize that his actions were perhaps not the well-kept secret he had hoped. He knew that Pharaoh would not tolerate this, so he fled to Midian.

At the well of Midian, Moshe saw the seven daughters of the local priest. They were trying to water their sheep, but the other shepherds were harassing them, so Moshe rushed to their defense. He drove the shepherds away, then watered the girls’ flocks. The aid of Moshe enabled the girls to arrive home earlier than usual, so their father Reuel asked what had happened differently that day. (Reuel may be another name for Yisro, or it may be the name of Yisro’s father.) They told him about Moshe; Reuel responded by inviting him to dinner.

Moshe ended up living in Reuel’s home and marrying his daughter, Tzipporah. They had a son, whom Moshe named Gershom, from words meaning that he was a stranger there.

Later, the king of Egypt died. The children of Israel let up a huge sigh or moan from their oppression, which caused G-d to put the wheels of their salvation in motion, as He had promised Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov.

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