The Exodus Story

Haggadah Section: -- Exodus Story

In the beginning our ancestors served idols; but now the Eternal One has brought us into service, as it is said: "Joshua said to all the people: Thus said the Eternal God of Israel, `Your ancestors used to live on the other side of the river - Terach, the father of Abraham and the father of Nachor - and they served other gods. "And I took your father Abraham from beyond the river, and I led him throughout the whole land of Canaan. I increased his family and gave him Isaac, and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave Mount Seir to possess it, and Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt."

Blessed is God who keeps promises to Israel, blessed be the Eternal. For God foretold the end of the bondage to Abraham at the "Covenant between the Portions," as it is said: "And God said to Abraham, `You shall know that your children will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and they will be enslaved there and will be oppressed for four hundred years. But I shall also judge the nation who will oppress them, and after that they will come forth with great wealth.'"

Raise the cup of wine and say:

This promise made to our ancestors holds true also for us. For more than once they have risen against us to destroy us. In every generation they rise against us and seek our destruction; and the Holy One saves us from their hands!

Put down the wine cup and uncover the Matzah.

Come and learn what Laban the Aramean wanted to do to our father Jacob. Pharaoh had issued a decree against the male children only, but Laban wanted to uproot everyone - as it is said: "The Aramean wished to destroy my father; and he went down to Egypt and dwelled there, few in number; and he became there a nation - great and mighty and numerous."

"And he went down to Egypt" forced by Divine decree. "And he dwelled there" - this teaches that Jacob did not go down to Egypt to settle, but only to live there temporarily. It is said, "They said to Pharaoh, We have come to dwell in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants' flocks because the hunger is severe in the land of Canaan; and now, please, let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen."

"Few in number" as it is said: "Your ancestors went down to Egypt with seventy persons, and now Eternal has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven." "And he became there a nation" this teaches that Israel was distinctive there. "Great, mighty," as it is said: "And the children of Israel were fruitful and increased and multiplied and became mighty, and the land became filled with them." "And numerous," as it is said: "I caused you to thrive like the plants of the field, and you increased and grew and became very beautiful, but you were naked and bare."

"The Egyptians treated us badly and they made us suffer, and they put hard work upon us." "The Egyptians did evil unto us," as it is said: "Come, let us deal craftily with them lest they multiply and, if there should be a war against us, they will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the land."

"And they made us suffer," as it is said: "They set taskmasters over them in order to oppress them with their burdens, and they built storage cities for Pharaoh: Pithom and Ramses." "And they put hard work upon us," as it is said: "The Egyptians made the children of Israel work with rigor. And they made their lives bitter with hard work, with mortar and with bricks and all manner of service in the field."

"And we cried out to the Eternal, God of our fathers," as it is said: "It came to pass that the King of Egypt died; and the children of Israel groaned because of the servitude, and they cried out. And their cry for help from their servitude rose up to God." "And the Eternal heard our voice" as it said: "And God heard their groaning, and God remembered the covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." "And God saw our suffering," this refers to the separation of husband and wife, as it is said: "God saw the children of Israel and God took note." "Our labor," this refers to the "children," as it is said: "Every boy that is born, you shall throw into the river and every girl you shall keep alive." "And our oppression," this refers to crushing our lives, as it is said: "I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them."

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