The Burning Bush

Jan 4, 2015

וּמֹשֶׁה הָיָה רֹעֶה אֶת־צֹאן יִתְרוֹ חֹתְנוֹ כֹּהֵן מִדְיָן וַיִּנְהַג אֶת־הַצֹּאן אַחַר הַמִּדְבָּר וַיָּבֹא אֶל־הַר הָאֱלֹהִים חֹרֵבָה׃

Now Moshe, tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, drove the flock into the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of Hashem.

Exodus 3:1

וְאֶת־הַמַּטֶּה הַזֶּה תִּקַּח בְּיָדֶךָ אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשֶׂה־בּוֹ אֶת־הָאֹתֹת׃

and take with you this rod, with which you shall perform the signs.”

Exodus 4:17

Moses takes over herding his father-in-law’s sheep. One day, as he is herding the sheep, he comes upon a strange sight: a bush that burns but is not consumed by the fire. Once He has Moses’s attention, God tells him to go to Egypt and take the Israelites out of slavery, as He has heard the people’s cries of suffering in Egypt.


As the Israel Bible explains, the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, is connected to the Hebrew word tzarah, meaning ‘suffering’. The Biblical legacy of Egypt is the suffering of the Children of Israel.


What follows is a fascinating exchange, as Moses tries to argue his way out of the job. Citing everything from his own inability to speak effectively to the Israelites’ possible unwillingness to accept him, Moses concludes with a simple request: send anyone else but me. At this point, God gets upset with Moses and insists he go, promising his brother Aaron will accompany him.


The Burning Bush appeared in the Horev region, an area named for its harsh, dry conditions, today identified with the Sinai Desert. The name Horev appears several times throughout the rest of the Bible (see Exodus 17 and 33, Deuteronomy 1 and 4, 1 Kings 19 and Psalms 106 for some examples).


The Jewish people remain connected to their Biblical heritage even today. During Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, an operation to capture outposts in the Sinai region was named Operation Horev.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

  • Based on His conversation with Moses, it appears God has more in mind for the Israelites than simply their physical freedom from slavery. He outlines His plan to take the people out of Egypt and bring them to a land flowing with with milk and honey. Along the way, they will serve Him at this very place. What, then, is the Bible’s vision of true freedom? Is this how you would define freedom? Why or why not?


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