The Exodus

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

 


In this paper I would like to examine the most significant event in Jewish history: The Exodus from Egypt (Hebrew: Yetziat Mitzrayim). The Exodus was, arguably, THE seminal experience in Jewish history.

 

Why does the Torah enshrine the Exodus in our collective consciousness with an array of rituals while obscuring the date of Matan Torah[1], the giving of the Torah? Clearly this is designed to indicate the significance and importance of the Exodus. Further, when HaShem gave the Torah He introduced Himself as The One who took Israel out of Egypt, not The One who created the world. For Jews, the recognition of HaShem’s mastery, and our obligation to serve Him, comes from the Exodus, for it was then that we saw His omnipotence and became His people.

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:34 Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the HaShem your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?

 

According to the Ramban, the Exodus from Egypt is the foundation for the entire Torah, because all of the Torah’s principles concerning HaShem, derive their veracity from it. Because of this, we have two specific mitzvot to remember the Exodus every day and to tell the story on Pesach.

 

Remembering The Exodus

 

Because of the significance of the Exodus, the Torah commands us to remember the Exodus every day and to tell the story, in depth, on Pesach.

 

Chazal[2] teach that we are to remember the Exodus every day. There are two Torah pasukim, which form the mitzva of zekhirat Yetziat Mitzrayim, the daily remembrance of the Exodus

 

Shemot (Exodus) 13:3 And Moshe said unto the people: ‘Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand HaShem brought you out from this place; there shall no leavened bread be eaten.

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:3 Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.

 

We observe this mitzva, twice daily, in the blessing of “Emet VeYatziv” of the shacharit (morning) prayer and in “Emet VeEmuna” of the arbit (evening) prayer, both following the recitation of the Shema.

 

We also have a mitzva to remember the Exodus on the first night of Pesach and to tell the miraculous story of the Exodus from Egypt (sippur Yetziat Mitzrayim).[3] Rambam tells us that this mitzva is derived from these pasukim:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 3:3-8 And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand HaShem brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten. 4 This day came ye out in the month Abib. 5 And it shall be when HaShem shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month. 6 Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to HaShem. 7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters. 8 And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which HaShem did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt.

 

Thus the significance of the Exodus is enshrined in our prayers and in the Haggada which we follow on Pesach. This makes the Exodus and extremely important event. However, this is only the beginning, as we shall see.

 

The Starting Point

 

At this point we need to ask a very basic question: When did the Exodus “begin”. While we might suggest that it began with Moshe standing before Paro, or when we packed our bags and began walking. The haggada, however, suggests that the Exodus began with Avraham.

 

“Go and learn what Laban the Aramean planned to do to our father Yaaqov; for Paro decreed only that the male (children) should be put to death, but Laban had planned to uproot all, as it is said: “The Aramean sought to destroy my father, and the latter went down to Egypt and sojourned there, with a family few in number; and he became there a nation, great, mighty, and numerous.”

 

The haggada’s perspective is echoed by Yehoshua:

 

Yehoshua (Joshua) 24:1-5 And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God. 2 And Joshua said unto all the people: ‘Thus saith HaShem, the God of Israel: Your fathers dwelt of old time beyond the River, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor; and they served other gods. 3 And I took your father Abraham from beyond the River, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac. 4 And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau; and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; and Jacob and his children went down into Egypt. 5 And I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did in the midst thereof; and afterward I brought you out.

 

Why does the story of Yetziat Mitzrayim begin here?

 

The answer is simple but fundamental. When HaShem chose Avraham Avinu, He established a covenant in which He promised a special Land for Avraham’s offspring. However, that covenant, Brit Bein HaBetarim, the covenant between the parts, included an important clause, that before they would inherit that land, Bnei Yisrael would become enslaved in a foreign land from which HaShem would later redeem them.

 

It is important that we understand the starting point so that we can appreciate the next section of our study, where we examine the timing of the Exodus.

 

The Timing Of The Exodus

 

To begin this study we need to see where the Egyptian exile began. The Torah describes a covenant with Avraham that tells us exactly when the exile began. This is important because there is some confusion regarding the length of the Egyptian exile. The Torah tells us in one place that the exile lasted four hundred years, and in another place the Torah tells us that the exile lasted four hundred and thirty years. So which is it: 400 or 430?

 

To help us begin to unravel this puzzle, lets see what the Torah says about this exile that lasts four hundred years, at the Covenant Between The Parts:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 15:7-16 And he said unto him, I am HaShem that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. 8 And he said, Lord HaShem, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? 9 And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. 10 And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. 11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away. 12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. 13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. 15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

 

Rashi indicates that the four hundred year exile began when Avraham’s seed, Yitzchak, became a stranger in a strange land. This correlates with what we read previously in the haggada and in sefer Yehoshua, where we see that the Exodus began at the Covenant Between The Parts, though the birth of Yitzchak, thirty years later, was a critical part.

 

When did Yitzchak became a stranger in a strange land? Since Avraham’s land, his familiar home, was in Ur, then we must understand that Yitzchak was born in a strange land because Avraham had already been brought out of Ur. Thus we must understand that the four hundred years of the Egyptian exile began with the birth of Yitzchak.

 

Now, lets see where the Torah tells us that the exile lasted four hundred and thirty years:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 12:41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of HaShem went out from the land of Egypt.

 

This pasuk tells us that the Benei Yisrael, the Children of Israel, came out of Egypt 430 years to the very day that they went in. How do we reconcile this with the prophesy given to Avraham?

 

Chazal teach that the 430 year period began with the covenant that HaShem made with Avraham when He told Avraham that his descendents would be exiled, in Bereshit 15:13.[4]

 

Midrash Rabbah - Exodus XVIII:11 AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL JOURNEYED FROM RAMESES (XII, 37). R. Samuel said: As soon as they went out they baked the dough which they had kneaded, for it says: AND THEY BAKED UNLEAVENED CAKES OF THE DOUGH (ib. 39). AND IT CAME TO PASS AT THE END OF FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTY YEARS (ib. 41); that is from the time when the decree was pronounced, for they were only two hundred and ten years in Egypt, and on the day that they descended into Egypt they departed there from.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Genesis LXIII:3 NOW THESE ARE THE GENERATIONS OF ISAAC, etc. Abram was called Abraham, as it is written, Abram-the same is Abraham (I Chron. I, 27). Isaac too was called Abraham, for it is written, AND THESE ARE THE GENERATIONS OF ISAAC, ABRAHAM’S SON: ABRAHAM.4 Jacob was called Israel, as it says, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel (Gen. XXXII, 29). Isaac too was called Israel, as it is written, And these are the names of the children of Israel, who came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons (Gen. XLVI, 8). Abraham was called Israel. R. Nathan said: This is a profound teaching [for it explains the verse], Now the time that the children of Israel dwelt in Egypt (Ex. XII, 40) and in the land of Canaan and in the land of Goshen was four hundred and thirty years (ib.).

 

Therefore, the full story of the Exodus really begins with the Covenant Between The Parts, and hence HaShem’s choice of the Patriarch. Recall that the Covenant Between The Parts is not merely a promise of one event, but rather it defines an eternal relationship between HaShem and His people. Therefore, the story of the Exodus is only the initial stage of an everlasting relationship, for which we must thank HaShem for every year on Pesach.

 

Thus the 430 years of exile began when Avraham joined the covenant with HaShem when he made the covenant between the parts.

 

The 400 years of exile began at the birth of Yitzchak, thirty years later.

 

So far we have dealt with the two most prominent dates as found in the Torah. Still, we have yet another problem that is not addressed by these two dates. Rashi succinctly states this problem: “It is impossible to say that they spent 400 years in Egypt alone, because Kohath [the grandfather of Moses] was of those who came with Yaaqov [to Egypt]. Go and figure all his years [133 years], all the years of his son Amram [137 years], and Moshe’s 80 years [at which age he led the Israelites out of Egypt]; you will not find them [to be] that many, and perforce, Kohath lived many of his years before he descended to Egypt, and many of Amram’s years are included in the years of Kohath, and many of Moses’ years are included in Amram’s years. Hence, you will not find 400 years counting from their arrival in Egypt”.[5]

 

If we add the years of Kohath [who came to Egypt with his father Levi], plus the years of his son Amram, plus the years of his son Moshe, we find that:

 

133 years + 137 years + 80 years = 347 years

 

347 is still less than 400 years. Thus we realize that the Jews were in Egypt less than 400 years!

 

Additionally, if we begin the count of four hundred years from the birth of Yitzchak, we can come close to counting the years of the actual exile in Egypt. When Avraham was one hundred years old, Yitzchak was born.[6] We know that Yitzchak was sixty years old at the birth of Yaaqov,[7] and that Yaaqov in turn was one hundred and thirty years old at the time of the descent, for so he relates his age to Pharaoh at their audience.[8] Thus, a total of one hundred and ninety (60 + 130 =190) years elapsed from the birth of Yitzchak, until the descent to Egypt. This would leave two hundred and ten years (400 - 190 = 210) for the duration of the actual sojourn in Egypt, and could account for the genealogy of Levi, Kohath, Amram, and Moshe mentioned earlier. In addition, it would explain HaShem’s promise to Avraham that ‘the fourth generation shall return to here,’ for that is roughly the number of generations that actually passed in Egypt from the time of the descent until the Exodus.

 

According to Bereshit 17:16, the exile of Avraham’s descendents would last for four generations. We know from Bereshit 46:11 that Kohath went down to Egypt with Levi and Yaaqov. We know that Kohath’s son was Amram and that Amram begot Moshe. Moshe, the fourth generation did indeed come out of Egypt in the Exodus.

 

The two hundred and ten year exile began when Yaaqov and his family descended into Egypt as they were compelled to do by HaShem. The Bnei Israel were in Mitzrayim, Egypt, for 210 years, according to Chazal. This can be derived as follows:

 

  1. Yocheved, a daughter of Levi, was 130 years of age when Moshe was born.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Exodus I:19 AND THERE WENT A MAN OF THE HOUSE OF LEVI (II, 1). Where did he go? R. Judah, the son of R. Zebina, said: He followed his daughter’s advice. It was taught: Amram was the leading man of his generation; AND TOOK TO WIFE A DAUGHTER OF LEVI. It does not say ‘he took her back’, but HE TOOK, proving, said R. Judah, the son of Zebina, that he went through a marriage ceremony with her. He placed her on the bridal litter, Miriam and Aaron dancing before them and the angels saying: As a joyful mother of children (Ps. CXIII, 9). A DAUGHTER OF LEVI.Is it possible that she was 130 years old and could still be called A DAUGHTER? For did not R. Hama b. Hanina say it was Yocheved; and she was conceived on the way, and was born between the walls, as it is said: And the name of Amram’s wife was Yocheved, the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt (Num. XXVI, 59), [which we explain to mean that] her birth took place in Egypt, but not her conception,[9] and yet she is called DAUGHTER? -This shows, said R. Judah, son of R. Zebina, that the symptoms of youth came back to her.

 

Bamidbar Rabbah 13:20 “His offering was one silver bowl weighing 130 shekels” … This alludes to the fact that [Yocheved] was 130 years of age when Moshe was born. How do we know this? Yocheved was born ‘between the walls’ [at the border] when Israel came down to Egypt. She was therefore included among those who went down to Egypt, as it is written, “All the souls [born of Leah]... were thirty-three” (Bereshit 46:15). The sum total is given as thirty-three, whereas in the detailed account you only find thirty-two. Why? Because Yocheved was born ‘between the walls’ and was therefore counted among those who came to Egypt… Go and calculate: From the day when our ancestors came down to Egypt until the day when Moshe was born, a period of 130 years elapsed, Israel having spent 210 in Egypt. How do we know this? Because it says, “Redu shamah - Go down there” (Bereshit 42:2) [Redu = reish (200), dalet (4), vav (6) = 210]. Deduct from this 80 years, the age of Moshe when Israel left Egypt, and the remainder is 130. Thus we learn that Yocheved was 130 years old when Moshe was born.

 

Yocheved was the one recorded in Tanach[10] as born ‘between the walls.’ She was 130 years old when Moshe was born. Moshe was 80 years old when HaShem delivered Benei Yisrael from Mitzrayim. {210 = 130 + 80} This we see that the Benei Yisrael were in Egypt for two hundred and ten (210) years.

 

The Talmud also speaks of this 210 year period:

 

Nedarim 32a R. Abbahu said in R. Eleazar’s name: Why was our Father Abraham punished and his children doomed to Egyptian servitude for two hundred and ten years? Because he pressed scholars into his service, as it is written, He armed his dedicated servants born in his own house. Samuel said: Because he went too far in testing the attributes [i.e., the promises] of the Lord, as it is written, [And he sand, Lord God,] whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? R. Johanan sand: Because he prevented men from entering beneath the wings of the Shechinah, as it is written, [And the king of Sodom said it to Abraham,] Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.

 

The following table details what we have learned so far:

 

Start

End

Duration

Covenant between the parts

The Exodus

430 years

Birth of Yitzchak

The Exodus

400 years

Yaaqov and his family enter Egypt

The Exodus

210 years

 

Now that we understand how long the Egyptian exile was to last, let us examine the centrality of the events that ended that exile, as linked to the mitzvot.

 

The Centrality of The Exodus

 

I would like to begin by just listing some of the mitzvot that are linked to the Exodus. Then, I would like to see what links the Nazarean Codicil[11] makes with the Exodus. Afterwards, perhaps we shall have time to explore some of these mitzvot in more detail.

 

A mitzva occurs in the Torah at a specific place to allude to its sod. If the mitzva of the ingathering of the exiles[12] occurs in the Torah juxtaposed with the Exodus, it is because inherent in that mitzva is the sod of yetziat Mitzrayim, the Exodus from Egypt.

 

The centrality of the Exodus in the Torah is so absolute that its memory is linked with the following commands:

 

Oppression is forbidden (Shemot 22:21),

idolatry forbidden (Vayikra 18:3),

forbidden reptiles (Vayikra 11:44-45),

Love the ger toshav[13] (Vayikra 19:35),

Just balances (Vayikra 19:36),

Priesthood of the firstborn (Bamidbar 8:16-17),

Aaronic priesthood (Shemot 29:46),

His Name not to be profaned (Vayikra 22:32),

kosher food (Vayikra 11:45),

the command against usury (Vayikra 25:36-38),

Land Shabbat (Vayikra 26:42-45),

Joshua’s smikha (Devarim 34:9-12),

Peah and Leket[14] (Devarim 24:17-24),

Remember Amalek (Devarim 25:17),

No Ammonites or Moabites (Devarim 23:3-4),

The entire messianic genealogy (Devarim 23:3-4),

Cure for Lashon HaRa[15] (Devarim 24:8-9),

Birchat Hamazon[16] (Devarim 8:10-14),

Kill false prophets (Devarim 13:5)

The Ten Commandments (Shemot 20:1),

The Promised Land (Shemot 33:1),

the Mishkan (Shemot 29:46),

Shabbat (Devarim 5:15),

Hallel (Tehillim 114:1-8),

Pesach (Shemot 23:15),

the seder (Bamidbar 9:1-3),

Lag B’Omer,

Bikkurim (Devarim 26:8-10),

the Mosaic covenant (Devarim 29:1-2),

Shavuot  (Devarim 16:10-12),

Succoth (Vayikra 23:43),

manna (Shemot 16:6),

tefillin (Shemot 13:1-10),

Tzitzith (Bamidbar 15:39-41).

the Yovel (Jubilee) command (Vayikra 25:42),

Shmita freedom (Devarim 15:12-15),

mezuzah (Devarim 6:4-9),

Mashiach ben Yosef (Matityahu 2:15),

The calendar (Shemot 12:1-17),

The New Covenant (Yiremeyahu 31:31ff),

Freedom to serve HaShem (Galatians 5:1),

The redemption of the firstborn (Bamidbar 9:1),

the ingathering of the exiles (Vayikra 26:44-45),

The Messianic age (Yirmeyahu 23:1-8),

and the future redemption (Micah 7:15).

 

From this list we see that the centrality of the Exodus is so absolute that much of the Torah and the Mashiach are based on the Exodus. Do not think that there is any other event that even comes close to the importance of the Exodus. This is the central focus of history and the central point from HaShem’s perspective. While Christians believe that the death of Yeshua was the critical event of history, this event does not even come close to the centrality of the Exodus. Indeed, even Yeshua’s claim to be Mashiach is dependent and focused on the Exodus!

 

According to the Ramban, the Exodus from Egypt is the foundation for the entire Torah, because all of the principles concerning HaShem, upon which the Torah’s moral and ritual laws are based, derive their veracity from it. Insofar as human beings are concerned, there is little difference between no G-d and a G-d who is ineffectual, unaware or unconcerned. In all of the above cases, the impact on human life is negligible. If G-d not only exists, but also is aware, able and concerned, then life can have a higher meaning and the law can possess a transcendent source. But if He is unaware, uninvolved or impotent, then serving Him is futile.

 

The Calendar

 

See Shemot (Exodus) 12:1-17 where HaShem declares that Nisan is to be the first month, from now on.

 

The Ramban sees the mitzva of the making of the calendar as marking the centrality of the Exodus experience in the Jewish mindset. The months are simply a pointer to the month of miracles and redemption.

 

The Ramban said it this way:

 

“The children of Israel should mark this month as the first, and should count months in relation to this one; the second, the third, to the twelfth month. This is to ensure that we remember the great miracle (of the Exodus) for whenever we mention the month, we will (effectively) be mentioning the miracle. That is why there are no names of months in the Torah, but the Torah will say (for example) : “And it came to pass in the third month”(19:1) or “In the second month of the second year”.[17] This is the same notion as our counting the days of the week in relation to Shabbat. And this is why it says in the verse ‘it shall be the first of the months of the year FOR YOU’. In truth it is not the first month of the year (as the world was created in Tishrei), but it is the first month for you as it is a remembrance of our redemption.”

 

Indeed, the establishment of a calendar should be seen as a significant step in our march to freedom. A slave is not master of his own time. When I create a calendar, I am implicitly stating that I DO control my time, my rest days and holidays, my work days and solemn times. I am in control of my life. In this sense, the establishment of a Jewish month system at the verge of national freedom is most significant in all senses and the Ramban’s comment that our calendar begins at, and points to, our month of release and redemption is most appropriate. 

 

Forbidden Reptiles

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 11:44 For I am HaShem your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 45 For I am HaShem that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

 

The Talmud also speaks of this mitzva:

 

Baba Metzia 61b Rabina happened to be in Sura on the Euphrates. Said R. Hanina of Sura on the Euphrates: Why did Scripture mention the exodus from Egypt in connection with [forbidden] reptiles? — He replied: The Holy One, blessed be He, said, I who distinguished between the first-born and one who was not a first-born, [even] I will mete out punishment to him who mingles the entrails of unclean fish with those of clean fish and sells them to an Israelite. Said he: My difficulty is ‘that bringeth you up’! Why did the Divine Law write ‘that bringeth you up’ here? — [To intimate] the teaching of the School of R. Ishmael, he replied. Viz., The Holy One, blessed be He, declared, ‘Had I brought up Israel from Egypt for no other purpose but this, that they should not defile themselves with reptiles, it would be sufficient for me.’ But, he objected, is their reward [for abstaining from them] greater than [the reward for obeying the precepts on] interest, fringes and weights? — Though their reward is no greater, he rejoined, it is more loathsome to eat them [than to engage in the other malpractices].

 

Shavuot

 

What is the connection between the Exodus and the giving of the Torah, on Shavuot?

 

The Sefer Chinuch[18] explains, “For the main point and reason that Israel was redeemed and taken out of Egypt was so that they should accept the Torah at Sinai and keep its mitzvot”.

 

The Sefat Emet[19] explains that the culmination of the Exodus was actually at Mount Sinai, for only at that point was the freedom complete. It was as if the Torah itself was the document of the declaration of our freedom from slavery, for as Chazal state in Avot[20] “There is no greater ‘free person’ than one who is involved in Torah study.”

 

This principal can also be found in the Ramban.[21] Sefer Shemot was designed to document the history of the first exile, the Egyptian exile, and the redemption from it. Therefore, it begins with repeating the names and numbers of those who went down to Egypt, for this was the “beginning” of the exile. The Egyptian exile, though, did not end until the day they returned to their original state of spirituality and to the level of greatness of their forefathers. Therefore, when they left Egypt, even though (physically) they left and ended their slavery, they still were not considered redeemed and freed. But when they came to Mt. Sinai and built the Mishkan and HaShem returned to dwell his Shechinah amongst them, then, and only then, were they considered redeemed and free. Therefore, sefer Shemot (Exodus) ends with the commencement of the building of the Mishkan with HaShem resting His Shechinah there.

 

This is the connection between Shavuot, with the giving of the Torah, and the Exodus from Egypt.

 

Tzitzith and usury

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 15:38 Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: 39 And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of HaShem, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: 40 That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God. 41 I am HaShem your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am HaShem your God.

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 25:36-38 Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. 37 Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase. 38 I am HaShem your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.

 

The Talmud also speaks about this mitzva:

 

Baba Metzia 61b Raba said: Why did the Divine Law mention the exodus from Egypt in connection with interest, fringes and weights? The Holy One, blessed be He, declared, ‘It is I who distinguished in Egypt between the first-born and one who was not a first-born; even so, it is I who will exact vengeance from him who ascribes his money to a Gentile and lends it to an Israelite on interest, or who steeps his weights in salt, or who [attaches to his garment threads dyed with] vegetable blue and maintains that it is [real] blue.’

 

The Shema

 

Twice a day observant Jews observe the command to declare the Oneness of HaShem with the following words:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:4-12 HEAR, O ISRAEL: HASHEM OUR GOD, HASHEM IS ONE. 5 And thou shalt love HaShem thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; 7 and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and upon thy gates. 10 And it shall be, when HaShem thy God shall bring thee into the land which He swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee—great and goodly cities, which thou didst not build, 11 and houses full of all good things, which thou didst not fill, and cisterns hewn out, which thou the didst not hew, vineyards and olive-trees, which thou didst not plant, and thou shalt eat and be satisfied— 12 then beware lest thou forget HaShem, who brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

 

The Talmud also speaks about this mitzva:

 

Berachoth 12b THE EXODUS FROM EGYPT IS TO BE MENTIONED [IN THE SHEMA’] AT NIGHT-TIME. SAID R. ELEAZAR B. AZARIAH: BEHOLD I AM ABOUT SEVENTY YEARS OLD, AND I HAVE NEVER BEEN WORTHY TO [FIND A REASON] WHY THE EXODUS FROM EGYPT SHOULD BE MENTIONED AT NIGHTTIME UNTIL BEN ZOMA EXPOUNDED IT: FOR IT SAYS: THAT THOU MAYEST REMEMBER THE DAY WHEN THOU CAMEST FORTH OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT ALL THE DAYS OF THY LIFE. [HAD THE TEXT SAID,] ‘THE DAYS OF THY LIFE’ IT WOULD HAVE MEANT [ONLY] THE DAYS; BUT ‘ALL THE DAYS OF THY LIFE’ INCLUDES THE NIGHTS AS WELL. THE SAGES, HOWEVER, SAY: ‘THE DAYS OF THY LIFE REFERS TO THIS WORLD; ALL THE DAYS OF THY LIFE’ IS TO ADD THE DAYS OF THE MESSIAH.

 

Friday Night Kiddush

 

The Friday night Kiddush is where we declare that the purpose of Shabbat is “to remember creation and to remember the Exodus.” Because while HaShem created the entire world, it was through the Exodus from Egypt that mankind came to appreciate HaShem as the guiding hand of history. Here is the text of the Friday night kiddush:

 

Blessed are You HaShem, King of the Universe, who made us holy with his commandments and favored us, and gave us His holy Shabbat, in love and favor, to be our heritage, as a reminder of the Creation. It is the foremost day of the holy festivals marking the Exodus from Egypt. For out of all the nations You chose us and made us holy, and You gave us Your holy Shabbat, in love and favor, as our heritage. Blessed are you HaShem, Who sanctifies Shabbat. (“Amen”)

 

Thus we see that the Exodus is linked to the creation of the World.

 

The Hallel (Tehillim 114)

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 114:1-8 When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language; 2 Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion. 3 The sea saw it, and fled: Jordan was driven back. 4 The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs. 5 What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back? 6 Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams; and ye little hills, like lambs? 7 Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob; 8 Which turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters.

 

The Talmud also speaks about the Hallel:

 

Pesachim 118a Now since there is the great Hallel, why do we recite this one? Because it includes [a mention of] the following five things: The exodus from Egypt, the dividing of the Red Sea, the giving of the Torah [Revelation], the resurrection of the dead, and the pangs of Messiah. The exodus from Egypt, as it is written, When Israel came forth out of Egypt; as the dividing of the Red Sea: The sea saw it, and fled; the giving of the Torah: The mountains skipped like rams; resurrection of the dead: I shall walk before the Lord [in the land of the living]; the pangs of Messiah: Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us.

 

The Messianic Age

 

The Messianic age will speak of the Exodus in reference to the ingathering of the exiles.

 

Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 23:1-8 Woe unto the shepherds that destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture! saith HaShem. 2 Therefore thus saith HaShem, the God of Israel, against the shepherds that feed My people: Ye have scattered My flock, and driven them away, and have not taken care of them; behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith HaShem. 3 And I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 And I will set up shepherds over them, who shall feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be lacking, saith HaShem. 5 Behold, the days come, saith HaShem, that I will raise unto David a righteous shoot, and he shall reign as king and prosper, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, HaShem is our righteousness. 7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith HaShem, that they shall no more say: ‘As HaShem liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt’; 8 but: ‘As HaShem liveth, that brought up and that led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries whither I had driven them’; and they shall dwell in their own land.

 

The Talmud confirms this perspective:

 

Berachoth 12b It has been taught: Ben Zoma said to the Sages: Will the Exodus from Egypt be mentioned in the days of the Messiah? Was it not long ago said: Therefore behold the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say: As the Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, As the Lord liveth that brought up and that led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country and from all the countries whither I had driven them? They replied: This does not mean that the mention of the exodus from Egypt shall be obliterated, but that the [deliverance from] subjection to the other kingdoms shall take the first place and the exodus from Egypt shall become secondary. Similarly you read: Thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name.

 

The Reign of Kings

 

Rosh HaShana 2b R. Johanan said: How do we know [from the Scripture] that the years of kings’ reigns are always reckoned as commencing from Nisan? Because it says, And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month. Here Solomon’s reign is put side by side with the exodus from Egypt, [to indicate that] just as [the years from] the exodus from Egypt are reckoned from Nisan, so [the years of] Solomon’s reign commenced with Nisan.

 

In The Nazarean Codicil

 

The focus of the Exodus also permeates the Nazarean Codicil. Yeshua made constant reference to Moshe who’s primary mission was the leading of the Benei Yisrael in the Exodus.

 

The identification of Yeshua with the Exodus was given in the midrash of Matityahu (Matityahu 2:14) as the fulfillment of the prophecy given in:

 

Hoshea 11:1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.

 

We also see the destruction of the Egyptians in Mark’s account of Yeshua’s liberation of a man possessed by “an unclean spirit” named “Legion”. This pasuk evokes the image of Paro’s defeat at the Yam Suf: “And the unclean spirits . . . numbering about two thousand . . . rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea” (Marqos 5:13).

 

Hakham Shaul’s shiur is Antioch began with the Exodus. (II Luqas 13:17)

 

The rest of the Olam HaBa is predicated on the Exodus. (Bereans 3:14-19)

 

The new covenant, which is quoted verbatim in Bereans (Hebrews) 8, is described as the basis of the original covenant which was a result of the Exodus.

 

Moshe’s emunah, his faithfulness, is lauded in the book of Bereans (Hebrews) because he left Egypt in the Exodus. (Bereans 11:24-29)

 

The Exodus is given in the book of Yehuda (Jude) as the basis for the ultimate destruction of the wicked. (Jude 1:5)

 

The Exodus is referenced directly in Revelation 15:3, which speaks about the song of Moshe which Moshe sang at the Exodus and will be sung, again, in the end.

 

The Birth Of A Nation

 

The Exodus also represents the birth of the nation of Israel. This momentous event is called a birth because the events correspond exactly to the birth of a child.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 1:8-9 Now there arose a new king over Egypt , who knew not Joseph. 9 And he said unto his people: ‘Behold, the people of the children of Israel (Am Bnei Israel) are too many and too mighty for us;

 

Am = first use of “people” for Israelites.

 

We have examined all of the connections to a human birth in our study titled: thebirth.

 

Conclusion

 

The Exodus is the most influential historical event of all time because it did not happen once but is re-lived whenever HaShem’s people perform the various mitzvot and re-live the Exodus. In fact, the central mitzvot of the Pesach seder is the re-living of the Exodus and helping our children begin living through the Exodus. As the Haggada tells us: In every generation, each of us is obligated to see ourselves as having come out of Egypt.

 

Many of the mitzvot are a clarion call to the Benei Israel to re-experience the Exodus in order to remind themselves that HaShem is in control of everything.

 

Thus we see that the timing and the centrality of the Exodus has permeated history and is the heart and soul of Judaism, Christianity, and the world. It is the single most important event that has occurred in the history of the world!

 

 

* * *

 

Here, for example, in a “Drasha” (homily), Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum says:

 

“Any person that would present himself as the Jewish savior would immediately be put to the supreme test. He would have to come to the zekeinim (Elders) and tell them the precise moment of the Geulah. If he would be off by as much as one single day or perhaps even by a minute then they knew he was nothing but a con artist. When Shevet (tribe) Ephraim instituted a rebellion thirty years earlier, Klal Israel refused to go along with them. The zekeinim told them that the time of the geulah had still not arrived. They had reckoned the four hundred years incorrectly. They had started counting from the time of the “Bris bein hab’sorim.” They were not given any credence! The dates and times didn’t match the zekeinim’s carefully guarded mesorah”.

 

Along came Moshe with the exact precise day, hour and minute. He gave them the exact information they required. Remember Pakod[22] can mean appointed and also means count He gave them the precise appointed moment when HaShem will take them out of Mitzrayim. This is what is actually meant by the words pakod pakadati.  It means that Moshe gave them the precise appointed time when HaShem has counted them to finally be remembered. Knowing the two words themselves meant nothing; one had to know the precise moment when the Pokod Pokadeti would occur. The elders were of course absolutely convinced that he’s the right man. After all, how could anybody have known this great secret unless HaShem had revealed it to him! This is what HaShem meant when he told Moshe that they would listen to him. If you look into the posuk you will see that He was referring only to the elders to whom he was being sent. He had clearly instructed Moshe to go to the elders and tell them Pokod Pokadeti They needed absolutely no further proof. Pokod Pokadetiwas enough for them. After all, it matched the exact moment that Yosef had told them it would occur.[23]

 

* * *

 

By Rabbi Pinchas Winston

 

It was obvious from the start that the number of years that Rebi Yehudah held would be the duration of Techiyat HaMeitim was exactly the same number of years that the Jewish people had been in Egypt prior to their premature exodus from there: 210 years. A coincidence?

 

It means that, just as Jewish history began with 210 years of exile, it will end with 210 years of Techiyat HaMeitim. And, just as the 210 years of exile were followed by 40 years of wandering the desert, Techiyat HaMeitim will be preceded by forty years of Kibbutz Goliot — the Ingathering of the Exiles. Thus, 3,262 years of Jewish history will be sandwiched between 210 plus 40 years of exile/wandering, and 40 plus 210 years of ingathering/resurrection. Bookends of 3,262 years of history.

 

 

This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:

 

Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

4544 Highline Drive SE

Olympia, WA 98501

 

Internet address: gkilli@aol.com

Web page: http://www.betemunah.org/

 

(360) 918-2905

 

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Send comments to Greg Killian at his email address: gkilli@aol.com

 



[1] The giving of the Torah.

[2] Rambam (Hilchot Keriyat Shema 1:2:3)

[3] Hilchot Chametz U-matza 7:1; Sefer Ha-mitzvot, Positive Commandment 157.

[4] Seder Olam

[5] Rashi’s commentary on Shemot (Exodus) 12:40

[6] Bereshit 21:5

[7] Bereshit 25:26

[8] Bereshit 47:9

[9] According to our Hakhamim: the Israelites were 210 years in Egypt, counting from the time that Jacob and his family settled there. Since Moses was 80 years old when he stood before Pharaoh (the Exodus took place about a year later), and Yocheved was born as they entered Egypt, she must have been 130 years old when Amram took her back.

[10] An acronym for the Torah (Law), Neviim (Prophets), Ketuvim (Writings) – the so called Old Testament.

[11] The so called New Testament.

[12] Vayikra 26:44-45

[13] The convert

[14] The corner of the field and fallen sheaves to be left for the poor.

[15] Evil speech.

[16] Grace after meals.

[17] Bamidbar 10:11

[18] Mitzva 306

[19] Shavuot, year 1885

[20] Pirke Avot 6:2

[21] Hakdama to Sefer Shemot

[22] In Shemot (Exodus) 3:16, Pakod Pakadeti - פָּקֹד פָּקַדְתִּי is the key phrase that identifies the redeemer. It means, “remembering, I have surely remembered”! The use of the double letter “Pey” in Pakod Pakadati - I have surely remembered was a sign that Moshe was the true redeemer. When Moshe and Aharon came before the Elders of Israel (Shemot 4:30-31) and showed them the miraculous signs, they went to Serach, who was their elder, and said to her that a man had come and performed such and such signs. She said that the signs alone didn’t mean anything. They told her that he had also said Pakod Pakadati Eschem - I have surely remembered you. She then told them that this was the man who would redeem Bne Israel from Mitzrayim because she had heard from her father that the redeemer would use the double Pey. Based on her say so, they immediately believed that HaShem was redeeming them and that Moshe was his messenger (Shemot 4:31).

[23] SOURCE: Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum, “THE SPECIAL PASSWORD”, Camp Sdei Chemed