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 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.
here to continue to Literary Analysis.
1 This assumes that the verses of 2:23-25 close this section rather than introduce the following chapter – see below. 2 See N. Leibowitz, Iyyunim Chadashim BeSefer Shemot (Jerusalem, 1970): 20 who elaborates on this contrast. 3 This would seem to be the understanding of the triennial Torah reading cycle, the division of the aliyot, and the chapter divisions, all of which connect 2:23-25 to the earlier part of Chapter 2. Also see below for the connection between the "וַיְהִי בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם" in 2:11 and "וַיְהִי בַיָּמִים הָרַבִּים הָהֵם" in 2:23. For a similar perspective, see the notes in Structure of Sefer Shemot for the option that Chapters 1–2 form a single unit and that 2:23-25 closes the circle for this larger unit by returning to the themes of the first part of Chapter 1.
Alternatively, though, the "Emergence of a Savior" unit may end with 2:22 (2:1-22 would thus be framed by a
marriage and birth at both beginning and end), with 2:23-25 serving as the backdrop for the subsequent unit of Chapters 3–4. Arguing in favor of this possibility is that verses 23-25 introduce themes which are then elaborated on in Chapters 3–4. [God's hearing of the nation's cries and His remembering of their forefathers is a major theme of Chapter 3 – see 3:6-7, 13, 15-16, and the death of Paroh is echoed in 4:19.] This second option may also find support in the Masoretic placement of a Parashah Petuchah at the close of 2:22 but only a Parashah Setumah after 2:25. It is also the unit division presented by Ralbag.
Finally, it is possible to combine both options and suggest that verses 23-25 serve as a bridge which allows for the transition between Chapters 1–2 and Chapters 3–4. According to this reading, Chapter 1 presents the enslavement of the Israelites, 2:1-22 introduces Moshe as their ultimate savior, and 2:23-25 informs us of God's decision to bring the bondage to a close (this is the first mention of God's role). Once all of the parties in this triangular relationship have been introduced, the Torah can then combine them in the story of God instructing Moshe to redeem the nation in Chapters 3–4. [From this perspective, Chapters 3–4 may also be considered a resumption of the Moshe narrative from 2:1-22, with 2:23-25 being a parenthetical condition necessary to set the stage for the continuation. For more, see the discussion of the past perfect form
"וּמֹשֶׁה הָיָה רֹעֶה".] 4 See David Thee's article, "משה–הילד והאיש", מגדים כ"ב (תשנ"ד): 42-30, where he discusses at length the division of the chapter into these two main scenes and points to the various parallels between the two halves. 5 Or, alternatively, as the introduction to Chapter 3 – see above. 6 Interestingly, these are the only two occurrences of the phrase in the Torah. It also appears in two places in Neviim – Shofetim 19:1 and Shemuel I 28:1. [4Q Exod b and the LXX actually read "הָרַבִּים" in both verses in our chapter - see Textual Variants.] 7 In the Afterword, the notion of "crying out" is repeated three times, but with different words ("וַיִּזְעָקוּ", "שַׁוְעָתָם", "נַאֲקָתָם"). See Literary Analysis for elaboration. 8 Cf. David Thee, "משה–הילד והאיש", מגדים כ"ב (תשנ"ד): 42-30, and similarly, R. Elhanan Samet, עיונים בפרשת השבוע סדרה שניה, שמות (ירושלים, תשס"ד): 237-232, who disagree with this division preferring to split the scene at 2:6. Both suggest that the finding of Moshe by Paroh's daughter constitutes the climax of the first scene, as this heightens the danger to Baby Moshe. The scene only shifts in verse 6 when we read that she has mercy upon him. Based on this division, both Thee and Samet develop a chiastic structure between the two halves of the scene, which highlights the salvation in the middle.