Shemot (Exodus) Chapter 4

18Moses went and returned to Jether, his father in law, and he said to him, "Let me go now and return to my brothers who are in Egypt, and let me see whether they are still alive." So Jethro said to Moses, "Go in peace."   יחוַיֵּ֨לֶךְ משֶׁ֜ה וַיָּ֣שָׁב | אֶל־יֶ֣תֶר חֹֽתְנ֗וֹ וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לוֹ֙ אֵ֣לֲכָה נָּ֗א וְאָשׁ֨וּבָה֙ אֶל־אַחַ֣י אֲשֶׁר־בְּמִצְרַ֔יִם וְאֶרְאֶ֖ה הַֽעוֹדָ֣ם חַיִּ֑ים וַיֹּ֧אמֶר יִתְר֛וֹ לְמשֶׁ֖ה לֵ֥ךְ לְשָׁלֽוֹם:
and returned to Jether, his father-in-law: to take his leave, for he had sworn to him [Jethro] (that he would not leave Midian except with his permission) (Exodus Rabbah 4:1). And he had seven names: Reuel, Jether, Jethro, Keni, [Hobab, Heber, and Putiel]. — [from Michilta, Yithro 1:1] See Rashi on Exod. 18:1 for the reasons for these names.   וַיָּשָׁב אֶל־יֶתֶר חֹֽתְנוֹ: לִטֹּל רְשׁוּת, שֶׁהֲרֵי נִשְׁבַּע לוֹ (נדרים ס"ה). וְז' שֵׁמוֹת הָיוּ לוֹ, רְעוּאֵל, יֶתֶר, יִתְרוֹ, קֵינִי, חוֹבָב, חֶבֶר, פּוּטִיאֵל:
19The Lord said to Moses in Midian, "Go, return to Egypt, for all the people who sought your life have died."   יטוַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהֹוָ֤ה אֶל־משֶׁה֙ בְּמִדְיָ֔ן לֵ֖ךְ שֻׁ֣ב מִצְרָ֑יִם כִּי־מֵ֨תוּ֙ כָּל־הָ֣אֲנָשִׁ֔ים הַֽמְבַקְשִׁ֖ים אֶת־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ:
for all the people… have died: Who are they? Dathan and Abiram. They were [really] alive, but they lost their property, and a pauper is considered dead. — [from Ned. 64b]   כִּי־מֵתוּ כָּל־הָאֲנָשִׁים: מִי הֵם? דָּתָן וַאֲבִירָם; חַיִּים הָיוּ, אֶלָּא שֶׁיָּרְדוּ מִנִּכְסֵיהֶם וְהֶעָנִי חָשׁוּב כַּמֵּת:
20So Moses took his wife and his sons, mounted them upon the donkey, and he returned to the land of Egypt, and Moses took the staff of God in his hand.   כוַיִּקַּ֨ח משֶׁ֜ה אֶת־אִשְׁתּ֣וֹ וְאֶת־בָּנָ֗יו וַיַּרְכִּבֵם֙ עַל־הַֽחֲמֹ֔ר וַיָּ֖שָׁב אַ֣רְצָה מִצְרָ֑יִם וַיִּקַּ֥ח משֶׁ֛ה אֶת־מַטֵּ֥ה הָֽאֱלֹהִ֖ים בְּיָדֽוֹ:
mounted them upon the donkey: The designated donkey. That is the donkey that Abraham saddled for the binding of Isaac, and that is the one upon whom the King Messiah is destined to appear, as it is said: “humble, and riding a donkey” (Zech. 9:9). — [from Pirkei Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 31]   עַל־הַֽחֲמֹר: חֲמוֹר הַמְיֻחָד, הוּא הַחֲמוֹר שֶׁחָבַשׁ אַבְרָהָם לַעֲקֵדַת יִצְחָק, וְהוּא שֶׁעָתִיד מֶלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ לְהִגָּלוֹת עָלָיו, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר "עָנִי וְרֹכֵב עַל חֲמוֹר" (זכריה ט') (פרקי דרבי אליעזר ל"א):
and he returned to the land of Egypt, and Moses took the staff: Chronological order is not strictly adhered to in the Scriptures.   וַיָּשָׁב אַרְצָה מִצְרָיִם וַיִּקַּח משֶׁה אֶת־מַטֵּה: אֵין מֻקְדָּם וּמְאֻחָר מְדֻקְדָּקִים בַּמִּקְרָא:
21The Lord said to Moses, "When you go to return to Egypt, see all the signs that I have placed in your hand and perform them before Pharaoh, but I will strengthen his heart, and he will not send out the people.   כאוַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהֹוָה֘ אֶל־משֶׁה֒ בְּלֶכְתְּךָ֙ לָשׁ֣וּב מִצְרַ֔יְמָה רְאֵ֗ה כָּל־הַמֹּֽפְתִים֙ אֲשֶׁר־שַׂ֣מְתִּי בְיָדֶ֔ךָ וַֽעֲשִׂיתָ֖ם לִפְנֵ֣י פַרְעֹ֑ה וַֽאֲנִי֙ אֲחַזֵּ֣ק אֶת־לִבּ֔וֹ וְלֹ֥א יְשַׁלַּ֖ח אֶת־הָעָֽם:
When you go to return to Egypt: You should know that with this intention you shall go, that you shall be steadfast in My mission, to perform all My signs before Pharaoh, and you shall not be afraid of him.   בְּלֶכְתְּךָ לָשׁוּב מִצְרַיְמָה וגו': דַּע שֶׁעַל מְנָת כֵּן תֵּלֵךְ שֶׁתְּהֵא גִּבּוֹר בִּשְׁלִיחוּתִי לַעֲשׂוֹת כָּל מוֹפְתַי לִפְנֵי פַרְעֹה וְלֹא תִירָא מִמֶּנּוּ:
that I have placed in your hand: He did not say this in reference to the three aforementioned signs, for He had not commanded that he [Moses] do them before Pharaoh but before Israel, in order that they would believe him, and we do not find that he performed them before him [Pharaoh]. But [regarding] signs that I am destined to put into your hand in Egypt, such as: “When Pharaoh speaks to you [i.e., asking for you to perform signs], etc.” (Exod. 7:9), do not wonder that it is written: “that I have placed,” [i.e., implying the past tense,] because this is what it means: “When you speak to him, I will have already placed them into your hand.”   אֲשֶׁר־שַׂמְתִּי בְיָדֶךָ: לֹא עַל שָׁלוֹשׁ אוֹתוֹת הָאֲמוּרוֹת לְמַעְלָה, שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא לִפְנֵי פַרְעֹה צִוָּה לַעֲשׂוֹתָם אֶלָּא לִפְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁיַּאֲמִינוּ לוֹ, וְלֹא מָצִינוּ שֶׁעֲשָׂאָם לְפָנָיו, אֶלָּא מוֹפְתִים שֶׁאֲנִי עָתִיד לָשׂוּם בְּיָדְךָ בְּמִצְרַיִם, כְּמוֹ "כִּי יְדַבֵּר אֲלֵיכֶם פַּרְעֹה וְגוֹ'" (שמות ז'); וְאַל תִתְמַהּ עַל אֲשֶׁר כְּתִיב "אֲשֶׁר שַׂמְתִּי", שֶׁכֵּן מַשְׁמָעוֹ, כְּשֶׁתְּדַבֵּר עִמּוֹ כְּבָר שַׂמְתִּים בְּיָדְךָ:
22And you shall say to Pharaoh, 'So said the Lord, "My firstborn son is Israel." '   כבוְאָֽמַרְתָּ֖ אֶל־פַּרְעֹ֑ה כֹּ֚ה אָמַ֣ר יְהֹוָ֔ה בְּנִ֥י בְכֹרִ֖י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל:
And you shall say to Pharaoh: When you hear that his heart is hard, and he refuses to send [the Israelites out], say thus to him.   וְאָֽמַרְתָּ אֶל־פַּרְעֹה: כְּשֶׁתִּשְׁמַע שֶׁלִּבּוֹ חָזָק וִימָאֵן לִשְׁלֹחַ אֱמֹר לוֹ כֵּן:
My firstborn son: [Firstborn is] an expression of greatness, similar to “I, too, shall make him a firstborn” (Ps. 89:28). This is its simple meaning, but its midrashic interpretation is: Here the Holy One, blessed be He, signed on the sale of the birthright, which Jacob bought from Esau. — [from Gen. Rabbah 63:14]   בְּנִי בְכֹרִי: לְשׁוֹן גְּדֻלָּה; כְּמוֹ: "אַף אֲנִי בְּכוֹר אֶתְּנֵהוּ" (תהלים פ"ט), זֶהוּ פְּשׁוּטוֹ. וּמִדְרָשׁוֹ: כָּאן חָתַם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עַל מְכִירַת הַבְּכוֹרָה שֶׁלָּקַח יַעֲקֹב מֵעֵשָׂו (בראשית רבה ס"ג):
23So I say to you, 'Send out My son so that he will worship Me, but if you refuse to send him out, behold, I am going to slay your firstborn son.' "   כגוָֽאֹמַ֣ר אֵלֶ֗יךָ שַׁלַּ֤ח אֶת־בְּנִי֙ וְיַ֣עַבְדֵ֔נִי וַתְּמָאֵ֖ן לְשַׁלְּח֑וֹ הִנֵּה֙ אָֽנֹכִ֣י הֹרֵ֔ג אֶת־בִּנְךָ֖ בְּכֹרֶֽךָ:
So I say to you…: in G-d's name, send My son etc.   וָֽאֹמַר אֵלֶיךָ: בִּשְׁלִיחוּתוֹ שֶׁל מָקוֹם שלח את בני:
Send out My son… but if you refuse to send him out, behold, I am going to slay, etc.: That is the last plague, but He warned him [Pharaoh] about it first, because it was [the most] severe, and that is what [Scripture] says: “Behold, God deals loftily in His power” (Job 36:22). Therefore, “who is a teacher like Him?” [A man of] flesh and blood who seeks to avenge himself against his fellow, concealing his plans, so that he will not seek rescue, but the Holy One, blessed be He, deals loftily with His strength, and no one is able to escape from his hand, except by returning to Him [by repenting]. Therefore, He teaches him [about possible punishment] and warns him to repent. — [from Tanchuma, Va’era 14, Exodus Rabbah 9:9]   הִנֵּה אָֽנֹכִי הֹרֵג וגו': הִיא מַכָּה אַחֲרוֹנָה, וּבָהּ הִתְרָהוּ תְּחִלָּה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִיא קָשָׁה; וְזֶה הוּא שֶׁאָמַר "הֶן אֵל יַשְׂגִּיב בְּכֹחוֹ" – לְפִיכָךְ "מִי כָמֹהוּ מוֹרֶה" (איוב ל"ו); בָּשָׂר וָדָם הַמְבַקֵּשׁ לְהִנָּקֵם מֵחֲבֵרוֹ, מַעֲלִים אֶת דְּבָרָיו, שֶׁלֹּא יְבַקֵּשׁ הַצָּלָה, אֲבָל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא יַשְׂגִּיב בְּכֹחוֹ וְאֵין יְכֹלֶת לְהִמָּלֵט מִיָּדוֹ כִּי אִם בְּשׁוּבוֹ אֵלָיו, לְפִיכָךְ הוּא מוֹרֵהוּ וּמַתְרֶה בוֹ לָשׁוּב:
24Now he was on the way, in an inn, that the Lord met him and sought to put him to death.   כדוַיְהִ֥י בַדֶּ֖רֶךְ בַּמָּל֑וֹן וַיִּפְגְּשֵׁ֣הוּ יְהֹוָ֔ה וַיְבַקֵּ֖שׁ הֲמִיתֽוֹ:
Now he was: [I.e.,] Moses.   וַיְהִי: משה בדרך במלון:
on the way, in an inn and sought to put him to death: [I.e., He sought] Moses, because he had neglected to circumcise his son Eliezer. Because he neglected it, he was [to be] punished with death. It was taught in a Braitha: Rabbi Jose said: God forbid! Moses did not neglect it, but he reasoned: Shall I circumcise [him] and go forth on the road? It will be dangerous for the child for three days. Shall I circumcise [him] and wait three days? The Holy One, blessed be He, commanded me, “Go, return to Egypt.” [Moses hurried to Egypt intending to circumcise Eliezer upon his return.] Why [then] was he to be punished with death? Because first he busied himself with [the details of] his lodging. [This appears] in tractate Nedarim (31b). The angel turned into a sort of serpent and swallowed him [Moses] from his head to his thighs, and then [spit him out and] swallowed him from his feet to his private parts. Zipporah therefore understood that it was because of [the failure to perform] the circumcision [that this occurred]. — [from Ned. 32a, Exodus Rabbah 5:5]   וַיְבַקֵּשׁ הֲמִיתֽוֹ: (המלאך ל)מֹשֶׁה: לְפִי שֶׁלֹּא מָל אֶת אֱלִיעֶזֶר בְּנוֹ, וְעַל שֶׁנִּתְרַשֵּׁל נֶעֱנַשׁ מִיתָה. תַּנְיָא אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹסֵי: חַס וְשָׁלוֹם, לֹא נִתְרַשֵּׁל אֶלָּא אָמַר, אָמוּל וְאֵצֵא לַדֶּרֶךְ, סַכָּנָה הִיא לַתִּינוֹק עַד שְׁלוֹשֶׁת יָמִים, אָמוּל וְאֶשְׁהֶה ג' יָמִים, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא צִוַּנִי לֵךְ שֻׁב מִצְרָיִם וּמִפְּנֵי מָה נֶעֱנַשׁ? לְפִי שֶׁנִּתְעַסֵּק בַּמָּלוֹן תְּחִלָּה (מכילתא). בְּמַסֶּכֶת נְדָרִים: וְהָיָה הַמַּלְאָךְ נַעֲשֶׂה כְּמִין נָחָשׁ וּבוֹלְעוֹ מֵרֹאשׁוֹ וְעַד יְרֵכָיו וְחוֹזֵר וּבוֹלְעוֹ מֵרַגְלָיו וְעַד אוֹתוֹ מָקוֹם, הֵבִינָה צִפּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּשְׁבִיל הַמִּילָה הוּא (נדרים ל"ב):
25So Zipporah took a sharp stone and severed her son's foreskin and cast it to his feet, and she said, "For you are a bridegroom of blood to me."   כהוַתִּקַּ֨ח צִפֹּרָ֜ה צֹ֗ר וַתִּכְרֹת֙ אֶת־עָרְלַ֣ת בְּנָ֔הּ וַתַּגַּ֖ע לְרַגְלָ֑יו וַתֹּ֕אמֶר כִּ֧י חֲתַן־דָּמִ֛ים אַתָּ֖ה לִֽי:
and cast it to his feet: She cast it before Moses’ feet. — [from Yerushalmi, Ned. 3:9]   וַתַּגַּע לְרַגְלָיו: הִשְׁלִיכַתּוּ לִפְנֵי רַגְלָיו שֶׁל מֹשֶׁה:
and she said: about her son.   וַתֹּאמֶר: עַל בְּנָהּ:
For you are a bridegroom of blood to me: You were a cause that my bridegroom would [almost] be murdered. You are to me the slayer of my bridegroom.   כִּי חֲתַן־דָּמִים אַתָּה לִֽי: אַתָּה הָיִיתָה גּוֹרֵם לִהְיוֹת הֶחָתָן שֶׁלִּי נִרְצָח עָלֶיךָ – הוֹרֵג אִישִׁי אַתָּה לִי:
26So He released him. Then she said, "A bridegroom of blood concerning the circumcision."   כווַיִּ֖רֶף מִמֶּ֑נּוּ אָ֚ז אָֽמְרָ֔ה חֲתַ֥ן דָּמִ֖ים לַמּוּלֹֽת:
So He released: [I.e.,] the angel [released] him. Then she understood that [it was] because of the circumcision that he had come to slay him.   וַיִּרֶף: הַמַּלְאָךְ ממנו, אז הֵבִינָה שֶׁעַל הַמִּילָה בָּא לְהָרְגוֹ:
she said, “A bridegroom of blood concerning the circumcision”: My bridegroom would have been murdered because of the circumcision.   אָֽמְרָה חֲתַן דָּמִים לַמּוּלֹֽת: חֲתָנִי הָיָה נִרְצָח עַל דְּבַר הַמִּילָה:
concerning the circumcision: Heb. לַמּוּלֹת concerning the circumcision. This is a noun, and the “lammed” serves as an expression meaning “concerning,” similar to “And Pharaoh will say concerning the children of (לִבְנֵי) Israel” (Exod. 14:3). Onkelos, however, translates דָמִים as referring to the blood of the circumcision.   לַמּוּלֹֽת: עַל דְּבַר הַמּוּלוֹת. שֵׁם דָּבָר הוּא, וְהַלָּמֶ"ד מְשַׁמֶּשֶׁת בִּלְשׁוֹן עַל, כְּמוֹ "וְאָמַר פַּרְעֹה לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל" (שמות י"ד), וְאֻנְקְלוֹס תִּרְגֵּם דָּמִים עַל דַּם הַמִּילָה:
27The Lord said to Aaron, "Go toward Moses, to the desert." So he went and met him on the mount of God, and he kissed him.   כזוַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־אַֽהֲרֹ֔ן לֵ֛ךְ לִקְרַ֥את משֶׁ֖ה הַמִּדְבָּ֑רָה וַיֵּ֗לֶךְ וַיִּפְגְּשֵׁ֛הוּ בְּהַ֥ר הָֽאֱלֹהִ֖ים וַיִּשַּׁק־לֽוֹ:
28And Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord with which he had sent him and all the signs that He had commanded him.   כחוַיַּגֵּ֤ד משֶׁה֙ לְאַ֣הֲרֹ֔ן אֵ֛ת כָּל־דִּבְרֵ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר שְׁלָח֑וֹ וְאֵ֥ת כָּל־הָֽאֹתֹ֖ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוָּֽהוּ:
29So Moses and Aaron went, and they assembled all the elders of the children of Israel.   כטוַיֵּ֥לֶךְ משֶׁ֖ה וְאַֽהֲרֹ֑ן וַיַּ֣אַסְפ֔וּ אֶת־כָּל־זִקְנֵ֖י בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל:
30And Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses, and he performed the signs before the eyes of the people.   לוַיְדַבֵּ֣ר אַֽהֲרֹ֔ן אֵ֚ת כָּל־הַדְּבָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־משֶׁ֑ה וַיַּ֥עַשׂ הָֽאֹתֹ֖ת לְעֵינֵ֥י הָעָֽם:
31And the people believed, and they heard that the Lord had remembered the children of Israel and that He saw their affliction, and they kneeled and prostrated themselves.   לאוַיַּֽאֲמֵ֖ן הָעָ֑ם וַיִּשְׁמְע֡וּ כִּֽי־פָקַ֨ד יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וְכִ֤י רָאָה֙ אֶת־עָנְיָ֔ם וַיִּקְּד֖וּ וַיִּשְׁתַּֽחֲוֽוּ: