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Issue #58 - 08/10
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The exile from Egypt in Ezekiel- another story.


The story of the Exodus from Egypt, from bondage into freedom, has become a major component of the Jewish heritage, throughout history. The story begins with a description of the people of Israel, by Pharaoh, the king of Egypt:


Ex. 1:9-"וַיֹּאמֶר, אֶל-עַמּוֹ:  הִנֵּה, עַם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל--רַב וְעָצוּם, מִמֶּנּוּ"  

"And he said unto his people: 'Behold, the people of the children of Israel are too many and too mighty for us".

As the ruler of the Egyptian people, Pharaoh could truly appreciate the danger, demographic and otherwise, that the Israelites presented. So he concocted ways of regulating and limiting their demographic dispersion in Egypt. These attempts included Draconian measures, such as hard labor and killing of first born sons. This is when Moses comes into the story.  His mission was to redeem the Israelite slaves and lead them into the promised land. In Hebrew, Moses means "to draw out". So he was to draw the people of Israel out of Egypt, like he was drawn out of the river and saved from death.     

The next stage in the exile from Egypt was the Revelation of God to Moses on Mount Sinai.
God revealed himself to Moses, as The god of the fathers (this is his relation to the people of Israel) and sent him to take his people out from Egypt:

Ex. 3:10 -"וְעַתָּה לְכָה, וְאֶשְׁלָחֲךָ אֶל-פַּרְעֹה; וְהוֹצֵא אֶת-עַמִּי בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, מִמִּצְרָיִם" 

 "Come now and I shall send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt".

The story then continues with the ten famous plagues, from the plague of blood to the death of the first born sons (of the Egyptians this time).

 The people of Israel went out from Egypt in the first month, as written in Ex. 12:51-

"וַיְהִי, בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה:  הוֹצִיא יְהוָה אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם--עַל-צִבְאֹתָם" 

The exile from Egypt

"And it came to pass on that day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts".

Now, there is no evidence that would imply that at this early stage the people of Israel actually "knew" God. Nor were they aware of his laws, or of the fundamental difference between the belief in God and idol worship. On the contrary, the people of Israel were promised to become the chosen people, only in Ex. 19, vs. 3-8:

 "וּמֹשֶׁה עָלָה, אֶל-הָאֱלֹהִים; וַיִּקְרָא אֵלָיו יְהוָה, מִן-הָהָר לֵאמֹר, כֹּה תֹאמַר לְבֵית יַעֲקֹב, וְתַגֵּיד לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.  אַתֶּם רְאִיתֶם, אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתִי לְמִצְרָיִם; וָאֶשָּׂא אֶתְכֶם עַל-כַּנְפֵי נְשָׁרִים, וָאָבִא אֶתְכֶם אֵלָי. וְעַתָּה, אִם-שָׁמוֹעַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ בְּקֹלִי, וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם, אֶת-בְּרִיתִי--וִהְיִיתֶם לִי סְגֻלָּה מִכָּל-הָעַמִּים, כִּי-לִי כָּל-הָאָרֶץ. וְאַתֶּם תִּהְיוּ-לִי מַמְלֶכֶת כֹּהֲנִים, וְגוֹי קָדוֹשׁ:  אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים, אֲשֶׁר תְּדַבֵּר, אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל"

"And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying: 'Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: Ye had seen what I have done unto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto Myself. Now, therefore, if ye will hearken unto My voice and keep My covenant, then ye shall be My own treasure from among all people; for all the earth is Mine; and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel."

 In verse 8, the people of Israel agreed to live by the covenant, saying:
"All the people answered together, and said: 'All that the LORD hath spoken, we will do'."

Only from that point forward can we speak about the people of Israel as committed to The Lord, and not a second before.

However, my dearest friends, this is not what Ezekiel, the prophet who prophesied in Babylon is telling us in another story about the exile from Egypt.



The relationship between the people of Israel and God is not a result of the renewal of the covenant that he had with the fathers, but of God's unending mercy.
In Egypt, the people of Israel knew the idols and God as well. The lord didn't want his name to be defiled and dishonored, so he took the people of Israel out from Egypt, as written in Ezekiel 20:5-9-


     וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵיהֶם, כֹּה-אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה, בְּיוֹם בָּחֳרִי בְיִשְׂרָאֵל, וָאֶשָּׂא יָדִי לְזֶרַע בֵּית יַעֲקֹב וָאִוָּדַע לָהֶם בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם; וָאֶשָּׂא יָדִי לָהֶם לֵאמֹר, אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם. בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, נָשָׂאתִי יָדִי לָהֶם, לְהוֹצִיאָם, מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם:  אֶל-אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר-תַּרְתִּי לָהֶם, זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבַשׁ--צְבִי הִיא, לְכָל-הָאֲרָצוֹת. וָאֹמַר אֲלֵהֶם, אִישׁ שִׁקּוּצֵי עֵינָיו הַשְׁלִיכוּ, וּבְגִלּוּלֵי מִצְרַיִם, אַל-תִּטַּמָּאוּ:  אֲנִי, יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם.  וַיַּמְרוּ-בִי, וְלֹא אָבוּ לִשְׁמֹעַ אֵלַי--אִישׁ אֶת-שִׁקּוּצֵי עֵינֵיהֶם לֹא הִשְׁלִיכוּ, וְאֶת-גִּלּוּלֵי מִצְרַיִם לֹא עָזָבוּ; וָאֹמַר לִשְׁפֹּךְ חֲמָתִי עֲלֵיהֶם, לְכַלּוֹת אַפִּי בָּהֶם, בְּתוֹךְ, אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם. וָאַעַשׂ לְמַעַן שְׁמִי, לְבִלְתִּי הֵחֵל לְעֵינֵי הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר-הֵמָּה בְתוֹכָם--אֲשֶׁר נוֹדַעְתִּי אֲלֵיהֶם לְעֵינֵיהֶם, לְהוֹצִיאָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם

"And say unto them: Thus sayeth the Lord GOD: On the day when I chose Israel, and lifted up My hand unto the seed of the house of Jacob, and made Myself known unto them in the land of Egypt; when I lifted up My hand unto them, saying: I am the LORD your God; on that day, I lifted up My hand unto them, to bring them forth out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had sought out for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the most beautiful of all lands; and I said unto them: Cast ye away every man the detestable things of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the LORD your God. However, they rebelled against Me, and would not hearken unto Me; they did not every man cast away the detestable things of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt; then I said I would pour out My fury upon them, to spend My anger upon them in the midst of the land of Egypt. However, I was wrought with My name's sake, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, among whom they were, in whose sight I made Myself known unto them, to bring them forth out of the land of Egypt".

What do we have here? A different tradition, that relates to the function of Ezekiel? (See also Ez. 16:3-8, 23:3).

My point of view is that every story  we read has its own target and its own storyteller and location. These different variables create different narratives, with one leading idea-

Don't be a slave and Don't let anyone else be a slave!

Main phrases of the post + transcription + translation





 מִצְרַיִם    mitsrayim   Egypt 
אֱלִיל  'ĕlîl   Idol 
גַּיִס חֲמִישִׁי   Gayis hămîšî   Fifth column 
מֹשֶׁה   mōšeh   Moses 
חִדּוּשׁ   hiddûš   Renewal 
מְחֻלָּל   mehullāl   Defiled 



A song about Ezekiel/ The High Windows



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