Does the Lord’s Promise to be with Us Guarantee We will not be Harmed? פרשת שמות, Parashat Shemot , Bits of Torah Truths – Digging Deeper

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In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Shemot, there is a lot that happens. We read about Israel’s enslavement in Egypt (Shemot / Exodus 1), the birth of Moshe, his fleeing from Egypt, and staying with Jethro a priest of Midian (Shemot / Exodus 2:11-25). Moshe marries Jethro’s daughter and has children and while tending the sheep he sees God at the burning bush (Shemot / Exodus 3). The Lord commissions him to go to Egypt to set the people free and the Lord Promises to be with him. Moshe is given the power to perform signs as proof of the Lord God being with him, and Aaron becomes the spokesperson for Moshe. Moshe then goes before Pharaoh and Pharaoh increases the labor of the people. When the Lord speaks to Moshe to go to Egypt, Moshe responds saying, Shemot / Exodus 3:11-12, וַיֹּ֤אמֶר מֹשֶׁה֙ אֶל־הָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים מִ֣י אָנֹ֔כִי כִּ֥י אֵלֵ֖ךְ אֶל־פַּרְעֹ֑ה וְכִ֥י אוֹצִ֛יא אֶת־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃ But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and free the Israelites from Egypt?” וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ כִּֽי־אֶֽהְיֶ֣ה עִמָּ֔ךְ וְזֶה־לְּךָ֣ הָא֔וֹת כִּ֥י אָנֹכִ֖י שְׁלַחְתִּ֑יךָ בְּהוֹצִֽיאֲךָ֤ אֶת־הָעָם֙ מִמִּצְרַ֔יִם תַּֽעַבְדוּן֙ אֶת־הָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים עַ֖ל הָהָ֥ר הַזֶּֽה׃ And He said, “I will be with you; that shall be your sign that it was I who sent you. And when you have freed the people from Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.” (Sefaria) We notice here Moshe questioning based upon his humility, he said “who am I” (מִ֣י אָנֹ֔כִי) that I should go to Pharaoh and free the Israelites from Egypt? The Lord then responded saying, כִּֽי־אֶֽהְיֶ֣ה עִמָּ֔ךְ “I will be with you” and then God said וְזֶה־לְּךָ֣ הָא֔וֹת “and this shall be the sign to you.” We note how Moshe seems to be arguing about his inadequacy as a man of stature to stand before Pharaoh. We also note the significance of how the Hebrew text is written, the Lord’s response was that the sign will be that God will be with Him. Indeed, part of this sign is that the Lord will make his journey successful and bring the people back to this very mountain, but the most significant point is that the Lord will be with him (כִּֽי־אֶֽהְיֶ֣ה עִמָּ֔ךְ). If we consider the context, we find an interesting parallel in Shemot / Exodus 3, to the burning bush. Notice how the bush was not consumed because of the sustaining power of God. The Lord God commissioned the bush to a certain task and the bush was not consumed until having followed through with the task it was given. An alternate interpretation by Rashi on these verses speaks to whether Moshe may have had some doubts about the Lord God’s ability to save Israel. (Or HaChaim on Exodus 3:12 Part 1)

We note how powerful of a statement is it for the Lord to say that He will be with him (כִּֽי־אֶֽהְיֶ֣ה עִמָּ֔ךְ)! The commentary Daat Zkenim speaks specifically on this phrase וְזֶה־לְּךָ֣ הָא֔וֹת.

Daat Zkenim on Shemot / Exodus 3:12 Part 1
וְזֶה־לְּךָ֣ הָא֔וֹת, “and this will be the sign for you (that though unworthy, now they will become worthy of redemption shortly thereafter;” at that time I will make it plain to all the people that I have sent you to be their redeemer. [G–d is referring to what we read in the report of the revelation at Mount Sinai in Exodus 19,9: וידעו כי אתה שלוחי, [not exactly but words to this effect. Ed.] An alternate interpretation of this line: it is a response to Moses’ question why he had been found worthy to become this people’s leader. He had considered himself as unfit to speak with Royalty, and even if he had been worthy of that, he certainly did not deem himself worthy to take the people out of Egypt. G–d reassured him, implying that he was right, but seeing He would support him all the way, he would be able to fulfill his task. In fact the redemption would not be due to Moses’ actions, but to His actions, all the way. All you need to know is that I will not abandon you in your efforts. (Attributed to Rabbi Joseph Kara who heard it from a Rabbi David.)

Notice how Daat Zkenim draws out the idea of not being worthy to merit being delivered. The significant point that Daat Zkenim is making is that it was not because of Moshe’s actions, but because of God’s actions that he will be successful. The Lord promises not to abandon Moshe. Rashi on Shemot / Exodus 3:12 speaks of the sign of the burning bush that the bush was not consumed due to the mission God had laid upon it. In a similar manner, Rashi says that וְזֶה־לְּךָ֣ הָא֔וֹת כִּ֥י אָנֹכִ֖י שְׁלַחְתִּ֑יךָ “and this will be the sign unto you because I have sent you” the fact that the Lord God of Israel is sending Moshe is a sign to him coupled with the miracle of the burning bush. What the Lord is telling Moshe, due to Moshe having fled Egypt for his life, the Lord is telling him that he will not suffer any harm. In addition, it is not due to the merit of Israel that they should go forth out of Egypt. We read the last verse in the Torah portion according to Shemot / Exodus 6:1, stating וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה עַתָּ֣ה תִרְאֶ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֖ה לְפַרְעֹ֑ה כִּ֣י בְיָ֤ד חֲזָקָה֙ יְשַׁלְּחֵ֔ם וּבְיָ֣ד חֲזָקָ֔ה יְגָרְשֵׁ֖ם מֵאַרְצֽוֹ׃ (ס) Then the LORD said to Moses, “You shall soon see what I will do to Pharaoh: he shall let them go because of a greater might; indeed, because of a greater might he shall drive them from his land.” (Sefaria) These things were to occur purely for the glory of God and so that the Lord God would show His great power! This is the אות, the sign of believing in the Lord God Almighty, which provides us with a future expectation of something happening. These things reveal to us how the Lord God facilitates faith in the one whom He sends. This is what the Lord God was asking of Moshe, to believe in Him because He was with him (כִּֽי־אֶֽהְיֶ֣ה עִמָּ֔ךְ)! These Scriptures teach us that if the Lord is with us, nothing can stand against us! (see Romans 8:31)

The Scriptures we are looking at for this week are from Bereshit / Genesis 3:1-17.

ספר שמות פרק ג
[רביעי] א וּמֹשֶׁה הָיָה רֹעֶה אֶת-צֹאן יִתְרוֹ חֹתְנוֹ כֹּהֵן מִדְיָן וַיִּנְהַג אֶת-הַצֹּאן אַחַר הַמִּדְבָּר וַיָּבֹא אֶל-הַר הָאֱלֹהִים חֹרֵבָה: ב וַיֵּרָא מַלְאַךְ יְהוָֹה אֵלָיו בְּלַבַּת-אֵשׁ מִתּוֹךְ הַסְּנֶה וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה הַסְּנֶה בֹּעֵר בָּאֵשׁ וְהַסְּנֶה אֵינֶנּוּ אֻכָּל: ג וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אָסֻרָה-נָּא וְאֶרְאֶה אֶת-הַמַּרְאֶה הַגָּדֹל הַזֶּה מַדּוּעַ לֹא-יִבְעַר הַסְּנֶה: ד וַיַּרְא יְהוָֹה כִּי סָר לִרְאוֹת וַיִּקְרָא אֵלָיו אֱלֹהִים מִתּוֹךְ הַסְּנֶה וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה מֹשֶׁה וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּנִי: ה וַיֹּאמֶר אַל-תִּקְרַב הֲלֹם שַׁל-נְעָלֶיךָ מֵעַל רַגְלֶיךָ כִּי הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה עוֹמֵד עָלָיו אַדְמַת-קֹדֶשׁ הוּא: ו וַיֹּאמֶר אָנֹכִי אֱלֹהֵי אָבִיךָ אֱלֹהֵי אַבְרָהָם אֱלֹהֵי יִצְחָק וֵאלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב וַיַּסְתֵּר מֹשֶׁה פָּנָיו כִּי יָרֵא מֵהַבִּיט אֶל-הָאֱלֹהִים: ז וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה רָאֹה רָאִיתִי אֶת-עֳנִי עַמִּי אֲשֶׁר בְּמִצְרָיִם וְאֶת-צַעֲקָתָם שָׁמַעְתִּי מִפְּנֵי נֹגְשָֹיו כִּי יָדַעְתִּי אֶת-מַכְאֹבָיו: ח וָאֵרֵד לְהַצִּילוֹ | מִיַּד מִצְרַיִם וּלְהַעֲלֹתוֹ מִן-הָאָרֶץ הַהִוא אֶל-אֶרֶץ טוֹבָה וּרְחָבָה אֶל-אֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבָשׁ אֶל-מְקוֹם הַכְּנַעֲנִי וְהַחִתִּי וְהָאֱמֹרִי וְהַפְּרִזִּי וְהַחִוִּי וְהַיְבוּסִי: ט וְעַתָּה הִנֵּה צַעֲקַת בְּנֵי-יִשְֹרָאֵל בָּאָה אֵלָי וְגַם-רָאִיתִי אֶת-הַלַּחַץ אֲשֶׁר מִצְרַיִם לֹחֲצִים אֹתָם: י וְעַתָּה לְכָה וְאֶשְׁלָחֲךָ אֶל-פַּרְעֹה וְהוֹצֵא אֶת-עַמִּי בְנֵי-יִשְֹרָאֵל מִמִּצְרָיִם: יא וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל-הָאֱלֹהִים מִי אָנֹכִי כִּי אֵלֵךְ אֶל-פַּרְעֹה וְכִי אוֹצִיא אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל מִמִּצְרָיִם: יב וַיֹּאמֶר כִּי-אֶהְיֶה עִמָּךְ וְזֶה-לְּךָ הָאוֹת כִּי אָנֹכִי שְׁלַחְתִּיךָ בְּהוֹצִיאֲךָ אֶת-הָעָם מִמִּצְרַיִם תַּעַבְדוּן אֶת-הָאֱלֹהִים עַל הָהָר הַזֶּה: יג וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל-הָאֱלֹהִים הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי בָא אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתִּי לָהֶם אֱלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם שְׁלָחַנִי אֲלֵיכֶם וְאָמְרוּ-לִי מַה-שְּׁמוֹ מָה אֹמַר אֲלֵהֶם: יד וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים אֶל-מֹשֶׁה אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה וַיֹּאמֶר כֹּה תֹאמַר לִבְנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל אֶהְיֶה שְׁלָחַנִי אֲלֵיכֶם: טו וַיֹּאמֶר עוֹד אֱלֹהִים אֶל-מֹשֶׁה כֹּה תֹאמַר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֵיכֶם אֱלֹהֵי אַבְרָהָם אֱלֹהֵי יִצְחָק וֵאלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב שְׁלָחַנִי אֲלֵיכֶם זֶה-שְּׁמִי לְעֹלָם וְזֶה זִכְרִי לְדֹר דֹּר: [חמישי] טז לֵךְ וְאָסַפְתָּ אֶת-זִקְנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֵיכֶם נִרְאָה אֵלַי אֱלֹהֵי אַבְרָהָם יִצְחָק וְיַעֲקֹב לֵאמֹר פָּקֹד פָּקַדְתִּי אֶתְכֶם וְאֶת-הֶעָשֹוּי לָכֶם בְּמִצְרָיִם: יז וָאֹמַר אַעֲלֶה אֶתְכֶם מֵעֳנִי מִצְרַיִם אֶל-אֶרֶץ הַכְּנַעֲנִי וְהַחִתִּי וְהָאֱמֹרִי וְהַפְּרִזִּי וְהַחִוִּי וְהַיְבוּסִי אֶל-אֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבָשׁ:

Shemot / Exodus 3:1-17
3:1 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 3:2 The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. 3:3 So Moses said, ‘I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.’ 3:4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ 3:5 Then He said, ‘Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ 3:6 He said also, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. 3:7 The Lord said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. 3:8 ‘So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. 3:9 ‘Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them. 3:10 ‘Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.’ 3:11 But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?’ 3:12 And He said, ‘Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.’ 3:13 Then Moses said to God, ‘Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?’ 3:14 God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’‘ 3:15 God, furthermore, said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations. 3:16 ‘Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, ‘I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt. 3:17 ‘So I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey.’’ (NASB)

The most significant statement here is what we read about the Lord God being with Moshe, וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ כִּֽי־אֶֽהְיֶ֣ה עִמָּ֔ךְ וְזֶה־לְּךָ֣ הָא֔וֹת כִּ֥י אָנֹכִ֖י שְׁלַחְתִּ֑יךָ בְּהוֹצִֽיאֲךָ֤ אֶת־הָעָם֙ מִמִּצְרַ֔יִם תַּֽעַבְדוּן֙ אֶת־הָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים עַ֖ל הָהָ֥ר הַזֶּֽה׃ And He said, “I will be with you; that shall be your sign that it was I who sent you. And when you have freed the people from Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.” (Sefaria) Again, the reason Moshe fled Egypt was because he feared for his life. The Lord here commissioned Moshe to go back to Egypt and said saying He will be with him, was assuring him that he will not be harmed. Hashem tells Moshe that His presence will go with him such that he will not see harm. (Siftei Chakhamim, Exodus 3:12, Part 2) These things should cause us to ask ourselves a question. “Are we promised that we will not be harmed when taking the message of God to the nations?” This is a very important question in light of what the Hebrew text states, וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ כִּֽי־אֶֽהְיֶ֣ה עִמָּ֔ךְ וְזֶה־לְּךָ֣ הָא֔וֹת כִּ֥י אָנֹכִ֖י שְׁלַחְתִּ֑יךָ בְּהוֹצִֽיאֲךָ֤ notice here how the word לְּךָ (to you) is superfluous (unnecessary) as the Lord was emphasizing how he will not be harmed as going back to Egypt. The Lord God was making Him a promise. When we look at the NT text, as follows of Yeshua, walking in His footsteps, and taking the Message of the Gospel to the nations, are we promised no harm? The point is, though God is with us, His presence in our lives does not preclude us from persecution, or even death. Yeshua brought this point forward according to the NT saying, “They will persecute and put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed, by your perseverance you will secure your lives.” (see Luke 21:12-19) Notice the significance of this statement. This is synonymous to our having faith, believing in the God of Israel, and His Messiah, taking the message of truth, regardless of what happens, remaining faithful even unto death. In parallel fashion to the sustaining power of God with the burning bush (Shemot / Exodus 3) Yeshua says “not a hair on your head will be destroyed.” Note that the rabbis say the burning bush was not an illusion, rather it was a true sign from HaShem! (see Rashi and Siftei Chakhamim on Shemot / Exodus 3:12) As pertaining to faith, Moshe was to believe God regardless of whether the promise had been fulfilled or not. The Lord made a promise which was contingent on a previous promise, the promise of inheriting the Promised Land. This event had not happened yet (i.e. it had not been fulfilled). The promise God gave to Moshe וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ כִּֽי־אֶֽהְיֶ֣ה עִמָּ֔ךְ וְזֶה־לְּךָ֣ הָא֔וֹת כִּ֥י אָנֹכִ֖י שְׁלַחְתִּ֑יךָ בְּהוֹצִֽיאֲךָ֤ was a promise of a mission and of success. Again this promise of success had not been accomplished as of yet, this is what is facilitating faith in the one whom God is sending. The returning to the Mountain of the Lord was a promise of the giving of God’s Word to His people, the giving of the blessing of Torah. Note today in the modern theologies of the church the Torah is not considered a blessing from God. The Scriptures however show this not to be true (see Tehillim / Psalms 119). The words וְזֶה־לְּךָ֣ הָא֔וֹת is God’s promise that He will be at Moses’ side all the time, enabling him to face Pharaoh and anything that comes at him in life without fear or trembling because the Lord said כִּֽי־אֶֽהְיֶ֣ה עִמָּ֔ךְ. The significant aspect of all of these things is how the Lord promises to be with us. Note how Israel was redeemed in order to receive God’s Word. The people did not receive God’s Word first. They received God’s Word after they witnessed the power of God to redeem them from bondage. This generated faith and then following they received the Word of the living God!

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Dr. Duane D. Miller received his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering from The University of Akron Ohio. He is currently a Chemical Engineering Researcher. Duane’s research expertise has focused upon functional materials development for the control, conversion, and release of process gases in Energy production technologies. His R&D interests include computational chemistry, developing novel technologies for converting biomass to fuels and studying their fundamental interactions during the chemical conversion process. His past experience includes sorbent development for pre- and post-combustion CO2 and SO2 capture, selective absorption of H2S from methane streams, O2 capture for oxy-fuel combustion, photocatalytic reduction of alcohols, NOx reduction catalysis, the development of oxygen carriers to combust fossil fuels (CH4 and coal) for the chemical looping combustion processes, and the extraction of rare earth elements using patent pending sorbents. His research expertise has focused on operando-characterization using Infrared, Raman, and UV-Vis spectroscopy to observe the nature of the catalytic active sites and reaction intermediates under realistic reaction conditions, allowing direct correlation of molecular/electronic structures with catalyst performance during Gas-Solid / Liquid-Solid Adsorption and Photocatalytic Processes with real time online analysis of reaction products using ICP-MS and mass spectrometry. His current work involves a multi-disciplinary approach to developing, understanding, and improving the catalytic gasification of coal and methane, high temperature chemical looping combustion, and the catalytic decomposition and gasification of biomass and coal using novel microwave reactor.​ He has been studying the Hebrew Scriptures and the Torah for 20+ years and sharing what he has learned. The studies developed for MATSATI.COM are freely to be used by everyone, to God be the Glory!