Messianic Education Trust
    Ki Tissa  
(Ex 30:11 - 34:35)

Shemot/Exodus 33:12   And Moshe said to Adonai, "Look! You say to me ..."

This verse comes at the start of a powerful block of text describing The Name ...

HaShem: literally, Hebrew for 'The Name' - an allusion used to avoid pronouncing the Tetragrammaton, the so-called 'ineffable' name of G–d
HaShem's revelation of some of His attributes to Moshe. Who Is ...

Hirsch: Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888 CE), German rabbi, author and educator; staunch opponent of the Reform movement in Germany and one of the fathers of Orthodox Judaism
Hirsch says, "At no part of the Torah does translation and explanation have to tread with greater care and diffidence than at the context of verses 12-23, for here we are led to the extreme limits of man's knowledge of G-d." The previous verses have narrated the incident of the Golden Calf, G-d's intention to wipe out the Israelites and start again with Moshe, and Moshe's self-sacrificing intercession for the people before G-d says that the people are to go ahead, to enter the Land, but that He is not going with them lest He should destroy them on the journey, so He will send an angel with them instead. It is at this point that Moshe starts talking to G-d.

The first word that Moshe says, , is in imperative form: Look! or See! as if Moshe is taking the L-rd to task: "Now see here!" Who Is ...

Sforno: Rabbi Ovadiah Sforno (1470-1550 CE), Italian rabbi, philosopher and physician; born in Cesena, he went to Rome to study medicine; left in 1525 and after some years of travel, settled in Bologna where he founded a yeshiva which he conducted until his death
Sforno interprets this as a plea; "'See!' means 'watch over us and do not conceal Your face from us over this!'" Moshe realises that without G-d's personal attention and presence, the project will fail; not only does G-d need to be personally involved, but the people need to be aware that He is still in control of them, their situation and their future. If G-d withdraws His face from direct contact, the life and spirit of the people will drop - they will cease either to be a witness for G-d or to be capable of carrying out His commands.

Who Is ...

Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105 CE), French rabbi who wrote commentaries on the Torah, the Prophets and the Talmud, lived in Troyes where he founded a yeshiva in 1067; focuses on the plain meaning (p'shat) of the text, although sometimes quite cryptic in his brevity
Rashi, on the other hand, has Moshe take a more diplomatic tack: "'Look!' means 'focus Your eyes and heart upon Your words!'" Rashi projects Moshe drawing G-d's attention to the inconsistency of what He has just said. G-d appears to be taking His hand off the tiller and leaving Moshe in charge, supported by an angel to administer the miracles where necessary. "Look!" Moshe says, "this doesn't add up; we're not going to be able to do it without You and our failure will rebound on You - it's Your name and Your reputation that are going to take the hit." Appearing to yield to Moshe's logic, HaShem agrees that He will go with the people after all and then allows Moshe to ask for and receive an outstanding revelation of His glory. Moshe's boldness and chutzpah win through.

In Luke's gospel, Yeshua tells His talmidim the parable of the widow and the dishonest or corrupt judge. Although the judge ignored the widow for a long time, eventually he gave in: "because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, lest by continually coming she wears me out" (Luke 18:5, CJB). Now, of course, Yeshua is not saying that G-d is like the unrighteous judge - chas v'shalom - but He is encouraging His disciples to engage with G-d. Whichever way you read Moshe, he refused to disengage and accept an angel instead of G-d; he persisted, reminding G-d of what He had already promised, and G-d rewarded his perseverance not only with a direct answer to the immediate question, but with a generous further revelation and relationship. Yeshua calls us to the same pattern of persistence and reward.

Further Study: Isaiah 62:6-9; Luke 11:5-13

Application: Have you been finding it difficult hearing from G-d lately? Do you struggle to engage with G-d in a meaningful way? Push on today and insist; even be bold or daring - G-d values our determination to maintain communication with Him and will come through for you.

© Jonathan Allen, 2006

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