For the week of January 20, 2001 / 25 Tevet 5761
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 1:1 - 6:1
Haftarah: Isaiah 27:6 - 28:13; 29:22-23

The Blessing of Egypt

Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them (Shemot / Exodus 1:6,7).

In the retelling of Israel's history, Egypt is primarily remembered for our bitter suffering there. And bitter suffering it was! Pharaoh's insecurities and fear led him to insanely oppress and destroy an innocent people. But while this memory is indelibly fixed in our minds, it would be good for us to also recall that this is not the whole story.

While we should never forget how God miraculously delivered us from the hands of our oppressors, we should also never forget that Egypt was the place of our salvation. Our ancestors almost perished during a severe famine that effected much of the Middle East of those days. If God had not worked things out by having Joseph rise to prominence in Egypt, we would not have much of a story to tell.

The land of Canaan was the land of promise. It was also the place where we had our very beginnings. This is where Isaac and Jacob were born. But it was also a hostile and sinful land. Egypt may have been no more godly, but it was a place where we were able to become a distinct nation. This may not have been possible anywhere else. Due to Joseph, the people of Israel were able to live there in peace. And since the Egyptians regarded themselves as superior with no desire to mix with foreigners, the people of Israel were left to themselves. God blessed them and their numbers greatly increased.

But while Egypt was a place of blessing it was just a place of preparation. The Promised Land was to be their home. Many speculate that it took the eventual hardships to get them to leave Egypt. As a matter of fact, I don't recall the people crying out to be able to go to the Promised Land or any other land for that matter. They just wanted relief from their sufferings. As it turned out the only way to find that relief was to leave.

Often when things go well for us in a location or situation, we are not very open to change. We see that God is blessing us and don't want to risk hardship. But God does move his people from blessed situations to difficult places.

That's why we need to remember the whole story of Egypt. Egypt was a wonderful place to be for the time we were to be there. But a time comes to move on. It should not be necessary for things to go bad before we are willing to accept God's leading.

We should be grateful to God for his blessings, but never hold them so tightly that we neglect his directions.

Comments? Please e-mail:

E-mail this TorahBytes to someone? Click here

Subscribe? To have TorahBytes e-mailed to you weekly,
enter your e-mail address and press Subscribe

[ More TorahBytes ]  [ TorahBytes Home ]