Moses and the Burning Bush

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Two men are walking to temple. The older man says to the younger man, "So, do you know why the Jewish people aren't voting for President Bush?" The younger man replies with an inquisitive "No." "Well," says the older man, "the last time the Jewish people followed a Bush they wound up wandering in the Desert."

This recent political joke is in reference to the Exodus story of Moses and the burning bush. As stated in the bible it reads:
"Moses was tending the flock of Jethro, his father in law, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Horev, the mountain of Elohim. The angel of YHVH appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush. He gazed: the bush is blasing fire yet the bush is not consumed!" (Exodus 3:1-2)

Exodus is the second of the five "books of Moses" that tells the story of the Exodus of Israelites from Egypt through the Sinai Desert. When Moses was born, the Israelites were oppressed by the Egyptian Pharaoh and bound to a harsh life of labor taking part in building some of the great public works of Egypt such as the pyramids, fortresses, and installations to regulate the flow of the Nile River. For fear that the Israelite population would continue to increase, the Pharaoh insisted that every male Hebrew child would be killed at birth. Ironically, during this oppressive period, Moses, the "future deliverer of Israel", was born. To protect his life, his mother sent him down the Nile in a specially woven ark. He was found by the Pharaoh's daughter who took him in and, to add to the irony, she hired his mother to be his foster nurse. The baby boy grew up and was adopted into the Pharaoh's household and named Moses. His name is derived from the Egyptian root "mose" meaning "son", but in the Bible, it is said to hale from the Hebrew root meaning "drawn out of the water."

Even though Moses, was raised as an Egyptian, he knew that he was truly Hebrew. After seeing an Egyptian taskmaster cruelly beating a Hebrew, Moses became so furious that he murdered the Egyptian. Fearing that the Pharaoh would find out what he had done, Moses fled to the wilderness, "the eternal safe retreat of outcasts from ancient society and of those in revolt against authority." Moses found himself in the Sinai Desert amongst other Semitics and befriended a family in which he was adopted into, and, later married into. With his father in law, Jethro, Moses moved from place to place with flocks in search of a place where vegetation was not scorched by the hot summer Sinai sun. In the mountains of the central Sinai range, he saw the vision of the burning bush that ordered him, by God, to return to Egypt and deliver his people from the harsh life of slavery instilled by the Pharaoh.

The Zohar, supposedly written by the Spanish Jewish Mystic Moses de Leon, presents some interesting additions to the excerpt from Exodus chapter 3. Several hundred years ago, de Leon passed around booklets of teachings and tales never heard or seen before by others of his community. De Leon claimed to others that he had only copied the information from an ancient book of wisdom written by a well known teacher of the second century who lived in Israel, Rabbi Shim'on son of Yohai. According to de Leon, after Rabbi Shim'on's death the book became a secret and was handed down to only a select few, including himself , and felt that he was to share the age old secrets by copying portions from the original book and selling them. When a young man named Isaac son of Samuel heard of the secret midrash teachings of Rabbi Shim'on he began a search for de Leon. After finding deLeon in Valladolid, Spain, Isaac agreed to meet with de Leon in Avila to view the secret manuscript. However during his journey to Avila, Moses de Leon fell ill and died. When Isaac heard of de Leon's death, he went to Avila to find the truth of the secret book. There, someone told him that Moses de Leon's widow said she had witnessed her late husband write the book from...
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