On Kabbalat Shabbat, 1/20/17, we begin the book of Exodus, wherein Moses is birthed by 5 women, in defiance of the Pharaoh. Moses, with the help of Shiphrah, Puah, Jocheved, Miriam, and Pharaoh’s daughter, will come to liberate the Israelite slaves from the yoke of Pharaoh. On January 20, we may wish to pay particular attention to where liberation comes from, how it comes about, and the essential partnership of women. Please join us for a brief discussion of Parashat Shemot with Lay Leader and Hebrew Bible scholar Penina Weinberg. A festive oneg will follow the service, as we celebrate our possibilities as a people.
Infancy of Moses (Detail) from the Dura Europos Synagogue
Pay attention to what the Egyptian bible scholar Magdi Gendi** says about Pharaoh (bold is mine): “His main concern is to stay in power… He keeps believing that he is the wise king although he is mocked by the marginalized people… In fact… the people who defy his command are the marginalized people and even his own daughter… The Exodus narrative is a timeless one. A Pharaoh character exists in every generation. Pharaoh’s character represents a tyrant who oppresses the powerless people, who denies their rights to live, who bases his decisions on speculations, and sees the blessing to them as a threat to him. Pharaoh is a character who has a stubborn heart, full of arrogance and power. Pharaoh is a character who refuses to learn from experience and believes that he is the wise one.”
**Brenner, Athalya, and Gale A Yee, eds. Exodus and Deuteronomy. Texts @ Contexts. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012. Gendi, Magdi S. “Pharaoh as a Character in Exodus 1-2: An Egyptian Perspective.”