Today is the 13th Sabbath of the annual Torah cycle: parashah (Torah portion) Shemot / Names, Exo 1:1-6:1. Read Exodus 1:1-6:1 at Bible Gateway.
This week’s Torah portion forms a chaistic structure. I have included the markings (s for stumah – weak – and p for p’tuchah – strong) for the paragraph divisions (see the teaching tools of Scripture) so that it can be seen that the paragraph divisions often reveal the chiastic structure.
1a) Exo 1:1-22 (p + p), God increases the children of Israel in spite of Pharaoh’s enslavement;
1b) Exo 2:1-22 (p), The birth and preparation of Moses as deliverer;
central axis) Exo 2:23-25 (s), God acknowledged the children of Israel;
2b) Exo 3:1-1-4:26 (p + p), The call, commission, equipping, and sending of Moses as deliverer;
2a) Exo 4:27-6:1 (p), Pharaoh cruelly oppresses the children of Israel in spite of God’s demand.
Furthermore, the front half of the structure, with its central axis, itself forms a smaller chiastic structure:
Exo 1:1-2:25 (p + p + p + s)
1a) Exo 1:1-5, Children of Israel in Egypt;
1b) Exo 1:6, Joseph died;
1c) Exo 1:7 (p), Increase ofIsrael, strangers in a strange land;
1d) Exo 1:8-14, Israel enslaved;
1e) Exo 1:15-16, Pharoah seeks to kill the Hebrew babies;
1f) Exo 1:17-21, Midwives seek to deliver the Hebrew babies;
1g) Exo 1:22 (p), Pharaoh seeks to kill the Hebrew babies;
central axis) Exo 2:1-10, Birth of Moses, a type of Messiah;
2g) Exo 2:22-12, Moses kills an Egyptian;
2f) Exo 2:13-14, Moses seeks to deliver his brethren;
2e) Exo 2:15a, Pharaoh seeks to kill Moses;
2d) Exo 2:15b-20, Reuel’s daughters delivered;
2c) Exo 2:21-22 (p), Increase of Moses, “stranger in a strange land”;
2b) Exo 2:23a, The king of Egypt died;
2a) Exo 2:23b-25 (s), children of Israel in Egypt.
The 2b pair also forms its own chiastic structure:
Exo 2:23-4:31 (s + p + p)
1a) Exo 2:23-25 (s), YHVH heard the groaning of the children of Israel;
1b) Exo 3:1-4:17 (p), YHVH met Moses on the mountain of God + words/ signs of YHVH;
1c) Exo 4:18-21a, Return to Egypt + Moses’ wife and sons + rod/ signs/ wonders;
1d) Exo 4:21b, YHVH will harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he will not let Israel go;
central axis) Exo 4:22, “Thus says YHVH: Israel is My son, My firstborn.”
2d) Exo 4:23, If Pharaoh refuse to let Israel go;
2c) Exo 4:24-26 (p), Encampment toward Egypt + Moses’ wife and son + circumcision;
2b) Exo 4:27-30, Aaron met Moses on the mountain of God + words/ signs of YHVH;
2a) Exo 4:31, YHVH looked on the affliction of the children of Israel.
The 2a pair also forms its own chiastic structure:
Exo 4:27-6:1 (p)
1a) Exo 4:27, YHVH told Aaron, Go into the wilderness;
1b) Exo 4:28, Moses told Aaron that YHVH will deliver His people;
1c) Exo 4:29-30, Moses + Aaron met the elders of Israel + YHVH would deliver them;
1d) Exo 4:31, The affliction of the children of Israel;
1e) Exo 5:1, Moses + Aaron told Pharaoh, Let My people go;
central axis) Exo 5:2-14, Pharaoh’s response (I do not know YHVH + increase their labor);
2e) Exo 5:15-16, The elders of Israel told Pharaoh, Let your people not deal unfairly;
2d) Exo 5:17-19, The trouble of the children of Israel;
2c) Exo 5:20-21, The elders of Israel met Moses + Aaron and told them that Pharaoh would kill them;
2b) Exo 5:22-23, Moses told YHVH that He has not delivered His people;
2a) Exo 6:1, YHVH told Moses, Pharaoh will drive you out (into the wilderness).