Before the Exodus...

Haggadah Section: Maggid - Beginning

The Context – The verses in plain English

Shemot (Exodus) begins after Joseph’s death, with a new Pharaoh who feels threatened by the Hebrews’ growing numbers. He decrees all male Hebrew babies must be killed at birth. When the Hebrew woman Jocheved gives birth to a boy, she places him in a basket on the Nile. Pharaoh’s daughter finds it and rescues the child, whom she names Moses and decides to raise as her own.

As a young adult, Moses flees to Midian, seeking refuge from Pharaoh’s persecution. He sees several of Reuel’s daughters in distress and comes to their aid. In gratitude, Reuel invites Moses to join his family for a meal. Now settled in Midian (and married to one of Reuel’s daughters), Moses sees God in a burning bush at the foot of Mount Sinai. God promises to deliver the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery.

For Discussion – What it means for advocates

1) Pharaoh’s daughter assumes responsibility for the baby Moses, despite his being a complete stranger and, what’s more, a Hebrew (and therefore an enemy of her powerful father). Why does she choose to get involved? What does this choice symbolize to us as we consider interceding on behalf of other communities?

2) Why is Reuel so insistent on breaking bread with Moses? How does food help build community? What other benefits accrue from sharing resources with people in need?

3) God reassures Moses that He will liberate the Hebrews. What is the significance of the “milk and honey” imagery? What, in effect, is God promising the Hebrews? What does that imply? How can we help bring God’s promise to struggling communities worldwide?

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