Parshas Shemos

Words in bold represent changes to the traditional translation based on the Aramaic translation/commentary attributed to Onkelos the Ger.

Parshas Shemos

Chapter 1


1. These are the names of the sons of Yisroel who came[1] to Egypt with Yaakov, each came with the people of his household:

2. Reuven, Shimon, Levi and Yehuda,

3. Yisachar, Zevulun and Binyamin,

4. Dan and Naftali, Gad and Asher.

5. All the souls who issued from Yaakov’s thigh were 70 souls[2] and Yoseif who was in Egypt.

6. Yoseif died, and all his brothers, and that entire generation.

7. The children of Israel were prolific and swarmed. They multiplied and became exceedingly mighty, and the land was filled with them.

8. A new king, who didn’t enforce Yoseif’s decrees, arose over Egypt.

9. He said to his people, “Behold, the people of the children of Israel are too numerous and mighty for us.

10. Let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they may increase and it will be when war occurs they will also join our enemies. They will fight against us and go up from the land.”

11. They set evil taskmasters over them to oppress them with their labors;[3] they built treasure houses[4] for Pharaoh: Pisom and Raamses.

12. As they were oppressed, so they increased and so they spread. The Egyptians were afraid because of the children of Israel.

13. The Egyptians enslaved the children of Israel with harsh labor.

14. They embittered their lives with the hard labor – with mortar and bricks and all the labor in the field – all their labors that they made them perform, harsh labor.

15. The king of Egypt spoke to the Jewish[5] midwives, one of whom was named Shifa and the second of whom was named Puah.

16. He said, “When you deliver the Jewish women and you look at the birthstool, if it’s a boy, kill him. If it’s a girl, let her live.”

17. The midwives feared[6] before Hashem and didn’t do as the king of Egypt had said to them; they let the boys live.


18. The king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, keeping the boys alive?”

19. The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Jewish women are not like the Egyptian women, for they’re skillful.[7] Before the midwife comes to them, they’ve given birth.”

20. Hashem treated the midwives well; the people increased and became very mighty.

21. Because the midwives feared before Hashem, He made houses for them.

22. Pharaoh commanded his entire people, saying, “Every boy that is born to the Jews you shall throw into the river; let every girl live.”

Chapter 2

1. A man from the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi.

2 The woman conceived and delivered a son. She saw him, that he was good, and she hid him for three months.

3. When she was unable to hide him any longer, she took a reed box for him and caulked it with slime and pitch. She put the boy in it and placed it in the woodland on the bank of the river.

4. His sister stood at a distance to know what would happen to him.

5. Pharaoh’s daughter descended to bathe in the rivers, and her maidens walked on the side of the river. She saw the box among the woods and sent her servant girl, and she took it.

6. She opened it and she saw the boy. Behold, a child crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is of the Jewish children.”

7. His sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Should I go and call for you a nursing woman from the Jews and she will nurse the boy for you?”

8. Pharaoh’s daughter said, “Go.” The young woman went and called the boy’s mother.

9. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this boy and nurse it for me; I will pay your wages.” The woman took the boy and nursed him.

10. The boy grew up. She brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became a son to her. She called his name Moshe; she said, “Because I drew him from the water.”


11. It happened in those days that Moshe grew up. He went out to his brethren and he saw their burdens. He saw an Egyptian striking a Jewish man from his brethren.

12. He turned this way and that. He saw there was no man and he smote the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

13. He went out the next day and behold, two Jewish men fighting. He said to the guilty one,[8] “Why do you strike your fellow?”

14. He answered, “Who appointed you officer and judge over us? Do you intend to kill me like you killed the Egyptian?” Moshe was afraid. He said, “So the matter has become known!

15. Pharaoh heard of this matter and he sought to kill Moshe. Moshe fled from before Pharaoh. He settled in the land of Midian and he sat beside a well.

16. The chief[9] of Midian had seven daughters. They came, they drew water, and they filled the troughs to water their father’s sheep.

17. Shepherds came and drove them away. Moshe arose and saved them, and he watered their sheep.

18. They came to their father Reuel. He said, “How have you come back so quickly today?”

19. They answered, “An Egyptian saved us from the hand of the shepherds. He also drew water for us and watered the flock.”

20. He said to his daughters, “Where is he? Why is it you left the man? Call him and let him eat bread.”

21. Moshe agreed to stay with the man, and he gave his daughter Tzipporah to Moshe.

22. She delivered a son and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I was a stranger in a foreign land.”

23. It happened in those many days that the king of Egypt died. The children of Israel sighed from the work that was heavy upon them and cried out. Their cry from the servitude ascended to before Hashem.

24. Their groaning was heard before Hashem and Hashem remembered His covenant with Avraham, with Yitzchak and with Yaakov.

25. The servitude of the children of Israel was revealed before Hashem and Hashem said in His word to redeem them.[10]

Chapter 3


1. Moshe was tending the sheep of his father-in-law Yisro, the chief of Midian. He drove the sheep a place good for grazing, to the wilderness, and he came to the mountain on which the glory of Hashem was revealed,[11] to Horeb.

2. An angel of Hashem was revealed to him in a blazing fire from a thornbush. He saw and behold, there was the thornbush was burning with fire but the thornbush wasn’t consumed.

3. Moshe said, “I will turn aside now and see this great sight. Why doesn’t the bush burn up?”

4. Hashem saw that he had turned aside to see. Hashem called to him from the bush. He said “Moshe! Moshe!” He answered, “Here I am.”

5. He said, “Do not draw near here. Remove your shoes from upon your feet because the place on which you are standing is a holy place.

6. He said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitzchak and the God of Yaakov.” Moshe hid his face because he was afraid to look towards Hashem’s glory.

7. Hashem said, “The servitude of My people, which is in Egypt, has been revealed before Me and their cry because of their evil taskmasters has been heard before Me, because their pains are revealed before Me.

8. I will reveal Myself to save them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Chivites, and the Jebusites.

9. Now behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come before Me. Also, the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them is revealed before Me.

10. Now come, I will send you to Pharaoh. You shall bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

11. Moshe said before Hashem, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should take the children of Israel out from Egypt?”

12. He said, “Because My word will assist you. This will be the sign for you that I sent you. When you take the people from Egypt, you will worship before Hashem on this mountain.”

13. Moshe said before Hashem, “Behold, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers sent me to you,’ they will say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What will I say to them?”

14. Hashem said to Moshe, “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh.”[12] He said, “So shall you say to the children of Israel, ‘Ehyeh sent me to you.’”

15. Hashem said further to Moshe, “So shall you say to the children of Israel: Hashem, the God of your fathers, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitzchak and the God of Yaakov, sent me to you. This will be My name forever; this is My remembrance for every generation and generation.


16. “Go and gather the elders of Israel. Say to them: Hashem, the God of your fathers, has appeared to me – the God of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, saying, ‘I have surely remembered you and what is being done to you in Egypt.

17. I have said: I will bring you up from the servitude of the Egyptians to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Chivites, and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey.’

18. They will accept your word. You shall go – you and the elders of Israel – to the king of Egypt. You shall say to him, ‘Hashem, God of the Jews, was revealed to us. Now please let us go a three-day journey into the wilderness and we will sacrifice before Hashem our God.’

19. It is revealed before Me that the king of Egypt will not let you go – and not because his power is strong.[13]

20. I will send a plague of My strength against him and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will make among them. After that he will send you (out).

21. I will place the favor of this people in the eyes of Egypt; it will be that when you leave, you will not leave empty-handed.

22. A woman will request of her neighbor and of one near her home[14] utensils of silver, utensils of gold and clothing. You shall put these on your sons and your daughters, and you shall empty out Egypt.”

Chapter 4

1. Moshe answered and said, “Behold, they will not believe me and won’t accept it from me, for they will say: Hashem was not revealed to you.”

2. Hashem said to him, “What is that in your hand?” and he said, “A staff.”

3. He said, “Throw it on the ground.” He threw it on the ground and it became a snake. Moshe fled from before it.

4. Hashem said to Moshe, “Send out your hand and grasp it by the tail.” He sent out his hand and took hold of it, and it became a staff in his hand.

5. “In order that they will believe that Hashem, the God of their fathers, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitzchak and the God of Yaakov, was revealed to you.”

6. Hashem said to him further, “Now bring your hand into your chest.” He brought his hand into his chest. He took it out, and behold, his hand was white[15] like snow.

7. He said, “Return your hand to your chest.” He returned his hand to his chest; he took it out from his chest and behold, it had returned to be like his flesh.

8. “I will be, if they don’t believe you and they don’t accept the voice of the first sign, they will believe the voice of the last.

9. It will be, if they don’t believe also these two signs and they don’t accept it from you, take from the water of the river and pour it on dry land. The water that you take from the river will become blood on the dry land.”

10. Moshe said before Hashem, “Please, my Master, I am not a man of words – not from yesterday, not from the day before and not from the time that You spoke to Your servant. I am heavy of speech[16] and vague in language.”[17]

11. Hashem said to him, “Who gave man a mouth? Or Who makes him mute, deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, Hashem?

12. Now go and My word will be with your mouth. I will instruct you what you shall say.”

13. He said, “Please, my Master, now send through the hand of one who is fit to send.”

14. Hashem’s anger was kindled against Moshe. He said, “Isn’t there your brother, Aharon the Levi? It is revealed before Me that he will surely speak. Also behold, he is going out to meet you. He will see you and rejoice in his heart.

15. You shall speak to him and place the words in his mouth. My word will be with your mouth and with his mouth. I will instruct you what you shall do.[18]

16. He will speak to the people for you. It will be that he will be an interpreter[19] for you and you will be a teacher[20] to him.

17. Take this staff in your hand, with which you shall perform the signs.”


18. Moshe went and returned to his father-in-law Yeser. He said to him, “I will please go and return to my brethren who are in Egypt and I will see if they are still alive.” Yisro said to Moshe, “Go to peace.”

19. Hashem said to Moshe in Midian, “Go, return to Egypt, because all the men who wanted to kill you[21] are dead.”

20. Moshe took his wife and his sons, he mounted them on the donkey, and he returned to the land of Egypt. Moshe took in his hand the staff through which miracles from before Hashem are performed.

21. Hashem said to Moshe, “When you go to return to Egypt, see all the wonders that I put in your hand and perform them before Pharaoh. I will strengthen his heart and he will not send the people out.

22. You shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says Hashem: Israel is My son, My firstborn.

23. I said to you, “Send out My son and he will serve before Me” but you refused to send him out. Behold, I will slay your son, your firstborn.’”

24. It happened on the road, at the inn, that an angel of Hashem encountered him and sought to kill him.

25. Tzipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin. She brought it close before him and said, “For through the blood of this circumcision the bridegroom is given to us.”

26. He released him, then she said, “If not for the blood of this circumcision, the bridegroom would be deserving of death.”

27. Hashem said to Aharon, “Go to meet Moshe in the wilderness.” He went and encountered him on the mountain on which Hashem’s glory is revealed; he kissed him.

28. Moshe told Aharon about all the words of Hashem, that He sent him and all the signs He had commanded him.

29. Moshe and Aharon went and gathered all the elders of the children of Israel.

30. Aharon spoke all the words that Hashem had spoken to Moshe, and he performed the signs before the eyes of the people.

31. The people believed. They heard that Hashem had remembered the children of Israel and that their servitude was revealed before Him. They kneeled and prostrated.

Chapter 5


1. Afterwards, Moshe and Aharon came and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says Hashem, the God of Israel: Send out My people that they may celebrate a feast before Me in the wilderness.”

2. Pharaoh said, “The name of Hashem was not revealed to me that I should accept His word to send Israel out; the name of Hashem was not revealed to me and I will also not send Israel out.”

3. They said, “The God of the Jews came upon us. Let us go, please, a distance of three days in the wilderness. We will sacrifice before Hashem our God, lest He strike us with plague or the sword.”

4. The king of Egypt said to them, “Moshe and Aharon, why do you distract the people from their tasks? Go to your burdens!”

5. Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many and you are stopping them from their burdens!”

6. That very day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and his officers, saying,

7. “Do not continue to give the people straw for making bricks like yesterday and the day before; they will go and gather straw for themselves.

8. But assign[22] them the number of bricks they made yesterday and the day before; do not decrease from it because they’re lazy. That’s why they cry out, saying, ‘We will go and sacrifice before our God!’

9. Make the work heavier upon the men; they shall occupy themselves with it and not occupy themselves with idle[23] words.”

10. The taskmasters of the people and his officers went out and spoke to the people, saying, “Thus says Pharaoh: I will not give you straw.

11. You go and take straw for yourselves from wherever you find it because there will be no decrease in your work at all.”

12. The people scattered through the entire land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw.

13. The taskmasters pressed, saying, “Complete your same workload each day as you did before, when you were given straw.”

14. The officers of the children of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters set over them, were beaten, saying “Why didn’t you complete your allotment making bricks like yesterday and the day before, neither yesterday nor today?”

15. The officers of the children of Israel came and cried out to Pharaoh, saying, “Why is such being done to your servants?

16. Straw is not given to your servants, and they say to us, ‘Make bricks!’ Behold, your servants are beaten and your people sin upon them!”

17. He said, “You’re lazy! Lazy! That’s why you say, ‘We will go and sacrifice before Hashem.’

18. Now go work! Straw will not be given to you and you will deliver the quota of bricks!”

19. The officers of the children of Israel saw them (i.e., the Jews) in trouble, saying, “You will not reduce your bricks, each day’s (quantity).”

20. They encountered Moshe and Aharon standing to greet them as they departed from Pharaoh.

21. They said to them, “May Hashem be revealed to you and punish[24] because you made us our odor noxious in the eyes of Pharaoh and the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hands to slay us.”

22. Moshe returned before Hashem and said, “My Master, why did You bring harm upon this people? Why is it that You sent me?

23. Since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has mistreated this people and You haven’t saved Your people.”

Chapter 6

1. Hashem said to Moshe, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh, for he will send them out because of a mighty hand; because of a mighty hand he will drive them from his land.”

[1] Rather than “who are coming.”

[2] This word is singular in the Hebrew both times it appears in this verse; Onkelos renders the second occurrence plural.

[3] Rather than “burdens.”

[4] Rather than “storage cities.”

[5] As opposed to “Hebrew.”

[6] Onkelos renders this word in the singular.

[7] Literally, wise (as opposed to “robust” in the Hebrew).

[8] As opposed to “the evil one.”

[9] As opposed to “priest.”

[10] In this verse and the preceding, Onkelos downplays such anthropomorphisms as hearing, seeing and knowing.

[11] Rather than “the mountain of God.”

[12] “I will be that I will be.” Onkelos treats these words as a proper noun and leaves them untranslated.

[13] Rather than “except through a mighty hand,” though the Hebrew is difficult to parse.

[14] As opposed to “one who lives in her house.”

[15] Rather than “leprous.”

[16] As opposed to “of mouth.”

[17] Rather than “heavy of tongue.”

[18] The two instances of “you” in this sentence are both plural; this is evident in the Hebrew but not in English.

[19] “A mouth” in the Chumash text.

[20] “Elohim” in the Hebrew, leading to the difficult-to-understand reading “you will be as God to him.”

[21] Rather than “who sought your soul.”

[22] Rather than “lay upon them.”

[23] As opposed to “false words.”

[24] Rather than “judge.”

© Copyright 2021 Rabbi Jack Abramowitz