It feels to me like there’s a lot of hiding going on in the beginning of Exodus. Moses’s mother hides Moses from the Egyptians, who would have drowned Moses in the Nile. After she put him in a basket and places it in the river, Miriam hides to see what will happen to the baby. She hides the truth from Pharaoh’s daughter and doesn’t disclose that Moses’s mother is his wet-nurse. When Moses grows up, he hides from Pharaoh after killing an Egyptian who was beating an Israelite slave. God and the angel hide from Moses until Moses “turns aside” to study the burning bush.
Is all this hiding in the service of God? More specifically, God’s plan to save the Israelites. What would have happened if any of these steps had not occurred – if Moses had died as a newborn, as should have happened under the Pharaoh’s decree? If Miriam hadn’t hidden and then ensured Moses’s safety by having their mother continue to nurse him? If Moses hadn’t killed the Egyptian, or if he hadn’t fled to Midian? Would God have placed the burning bush somewhere in Egypt, or would there be a different savior of the Israelites? Was Moses preordained to be the person who led the Israelites to freedom? Why did God hide, anyway? Why was the test to “turn aside” necessary?
More generally, why did the Israelites hide from their freedom and their faith, often wanting to choose the “devil they knew” – slavery and bondage – instead of the difficulties of freedom and the responsibility of being faithful to God? Why did they build the golden calf? Why didn’t they trust God, after their prayers had been answered? What were they looking for? Were they really such fickle and weak people? What were they thinking?
I have no answers, but these questions fascinate me. Look out, all you who will be attending my Seder!
I’m participating this year in #blogExodus, a daily series of posts, tweets, and status updates relating to themes of Passover and Exodus, created by ImaBima. The series lasts for 14 days – not nearly as long as the Jews wandered in the desert all those years ago. You can find other posts via the #blogExodus hashtag.