Exodus: The Story of a Family

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Every good story has a beginning, middle and an end. The Biblical book of Exodus is no exception. While most of us know parts of the story, or even read along during Torah reading in synagogue, it is quite another to read the book from start to finish. Reading the book this way really brings out how much this book is about the transition of a family.

Enjoying Exodus: The Bible in Rhyme presents the entire book of Exodus in rhyming couplets.This presentation is a fun way for preteens, teens and even adults to read the book of Exodus as a whole. (At this point the books of Genesis, Exodus, Esther and Ruth are also available in rhyme.)

The book begins with Jacob and his whole family going down to Egypt to live near Joseph. It was through Jacob, who was given the additional name Israel, that we became known as the children of Israel. Being called the children of Israel is just one more way to remember that we Jews are really one family – large, yes, but one family all the same. Jacob’s family was in need of food and went down to Egypt to obtain some. (Of course, we could have a discussion about why Joseph did not get in touch with his family for so many years, but for now we will focus on his wanting to bring his family to Egypt to be close to him where he would provide for them and they could all be together). At this point the family was already 70 strong.

Exodus quickly jumps to the children of Israel coming under the rule of Pharaoh. Moses, who originally protested that he didn’t want to become a leader, stepped up and came to the rescue of the children of Israel, under God’s continual tutelage, even before they identified that they wanted a leader.

Thus, we get to the middle of the story – the rescue of the children of Israel. Moses along with Aaron repeatedly went to Pharaoh to ask to let the Jewish people go.

The Jewish people start off as a rebellious crew, not wanting to follow Moses. But they soon follow his directions and bring their cattle indoors, put blood on their doorposts and leave their homes, never to return. Yes, they complained to Moses and they did not always do what they were told. Then they complained some more. But, basically they remained a unit, much like a family, because indeed, they were a family and we are still that same family.

The end of the story is also one of unity. In the wilderness, all the children of Israel gave from their limited resources to build the Tent of Meeting, which was to be our meeting place with God; even though they had not been close to Him during slavery. Once the children of Israel were given the commandments and the teachings of God, they began building the Tent of Meeting just as God conveyed to them by Moses. They were not stingy and everyone collaborated.

The book of Exodus is all about the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren (and so on) of Jacob being not only a family, but a nation. We have shared experiences (such as slavery), shared promises from God (such as receiving the land of Israel as our homeland), and shared responsibilities (such as taking care of each other).

No, we do not all believe the same. No, we do not all act the same. No, we do not all worship the same. But, yes we are all from the same family. And yes, there is or should be a kinship among us.

The book of Exodus describes how we came together so very long ago. We went down to Egypt together. We stayed together under difficult circumstances of slavery. We united under the plagues. We escaped together. And then we all contributed to the Tent of Meeting which was to be our meeting place with God.

One important message that we are to take away from the book of Exodus is that we, the children of Israel, are one family. We should look after each other, protect each other, help each other and in short act as a family - if for no other reason than we are one.
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