Structural Analysis – Shemot 2
"Emergence of a Savior"

Broader Context

  • Shemot 2 is part of the larger unit "Slavery and Redemption" which encompasses the first fifteen chapters of Sefer Shemot. For elaboration, various possible subdivisions of this bigger unit, as well as the relationship between Chapters 1 and 2, see Structure of Sefer Shemot.
  • Step 1 – Boundaries of the Unit

    "Emergence of a Savior" (Chapter 2)

    • Chapter 2 sets the stage for the redemption of the Israelites, introducing us to Moshe and describing how Hashem heard the Israelites' cries.1
    • Characters – In contrast to Chapter 1 which focuses on the nation as a whole, most of Chapter 2 shines the spotlight on Moshe.2
    • Plot – While Chapter 1 gives details of the bondage and Paroh's tyranny, Chapter 2 begins to plant the seeds of the redemption.
    • 2:23-25 and the Unit's Endpoint – The analysis presented here views 2:23-25 as the conclusion of the unit of Chapter 2.3

    Step 2 – Division into Scenes

    I. "Moshe the Child" (2:1–10)
    II. "Moshe the Man" (2:11–22)
    Afterword: "Hashem Hears" (2:23–25)

    Step 3.1 – Subdivision of Scene I

    A. "Moshe in Danger" (2:1-4)
    B. "Moshe is Saved" (2:5-10)

    • Scene I may be further divided into 2 subscenes, verses 1-4 and verses 5-10.8
    • Characters – Subscene A focuses on the interaction between Moshe and his family while Subscene B focuses on Moshe's interaction with an outsider, Paroh's daughter.
    • Plot – The first subscene portrays the dangers lurking for Moshe while the second details his salvation.

    Step 3.2 – Subdivision of Scene II

    A. "Moshe in Egypt" (2:11-15)
    B. "Moshe in Midyan" (2:16-22)

    • The second section of the chapter can also be divided into 2 subscenes, verses 11-15 and verses 16-22.
    • Setting – Each scene takes place in a different locale, Egypt and Midyan.
    • Plot – In the first subscene Moshe's intercession on behalf of others leads to his fleeing, while in the second his intervention leads to his finding sanctuary.
    • Characters – In the first subscene Moshe interacts with his brethren while in the second he involves himself with total strangers.

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