Wednesday, February 27, 2019

#MeToo in the Bible - Session Three: The Matriarchs

#MeToo in the Bible - Session Three:  The Matriarchs

Sarah and Pharaoh:  10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”
14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, donkeys, servants, and camels.
17 But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” 20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had. (Gen. 12:10-20 & parallel to 20:1-8, 26:1-16).

Nahum Sarna, amongst others, says that there is evidence from Hurrian society, of which Abraham and Sarah might have participated, that there was a status known as “wife-sistership.” A Hurrian could adopt his wife as his sister and give her special status and she would be treated as a blood relative of the husband’s family. Abraham asked Sarah to tell the Egyptians that she was of this special class, and the Egyptians understood this legality and did not harm the couple. As knowledge of this custom faded, the story is now understood to be about the patriarch’s lying but its initial theme concerned recognition of this special status. This theory does not explain the wife-sister motif. It strains credulity to believe that these stories were initially not about deceit because the kings in each story respond as if they are being deceived.

Nahmanides says directly that the patriarchs simply erred: “Know that Abraham our father unintentionally committed a great sin by bringing his righteous wife to a stumbling-block of sin on account of his fear for his life.  He should have trusted that God would save him and his wife and all his belongings for God surely has the power to help and to save.  His leaving the Land, concerning which he had been commanded from the beginning, on account of the famine, was also a sin he committed, for in famine God would redeem him from death.  It was because of this deed that the exile in the land of Egypt at the hand of Pharaoh was decreed for his children.”

Gen. Rabbah 40:5; and TanhumaLekh Lekha 5: Abraham put Sarah in a chest so she wouldn’t be seen.  When the tax officials come to determine what Abraham is bringing into Egypt, they insist he open the box even after he offers to pay anything to keep it closed.  The midrash presents Abraham as one who cherishes his wife and is not willing to part with her. Sarah, in turn, is portrayed as someone whose value is greater than all the money in the world. When the tax officials see Sarah, they exclaim: “This one is not suitable for a commoner, but for the king”
When Abraham saw that Sarah had been taken to the palace of Pharaoh, he began to weep and pray to God. Sarah, too, cried out, saying: “Master of the Universe! when I heard from Abraham that You had told him, ‘Go forth,’ I believed in what You said. Now I remain alone, apart from my father, my mother, and my husband. Will this wicked one come and abuse me? Act for Your great name, and for my trust in Your words.” God replied: “By your life, nothing untoward will happen to you and your husband.” At that moment, an angel descended from Heaven with a whip in his hand. Pharaoh came to remove Sarah’s shoe—he hit him on the hand. He wanted to touch her clothing—he smote him. Even though Sarah told Pharaoh: “I am a married woman,” he did not desist from his efforts to touch her (Gen. Rabbah 41:2).

Maimonides, “The Ten Trials of Abraham”:
1.     Abraham leaves his homeland.
2.     Abraham’s exile to Egypt.
3.     Because of Abraham’s fear, Sarah is abducted.
4.     Abraham’s battle against “the four kings”
5.     Abraham’s takes Hagar as concubine
6.     Abraham’s being commanded to circumcise himself
7.     Sarah’s abduction by Abimelech
8.     Abraham’s decision to expel Hagar and Ishmael
9.     The binding and near slaughter of Isaac
10.   Abraham’s purchase of a plot for Sarah 

R. Peretz Wolf-Prusan “The Ten Tests of Sarah”:
1.     Sarah, trusts Abraham to go to Israel.
2.     Sarah’s is forced into exile in Egypt
3.     Sarah’s husband, fearing for his life, declares her to be his sister and Sarah is taken to Pharaoh
4.     Sarah is left while Abraham battles the 4 kings
5.     Childless, Sarah becomes a sister-wife to Hagar, her maidservant
6.     Sarah being informed that she, in her old age, will have a child, laughs.
7.     Sarah is again abducted, by Abimelech
8.     Sarah exiles Hagar and Ishmael
9.     Abraham has taken Isaac to Mt Moriah
10.   Sarah dies.

Rebekah, Jacob, Isaac and Esau:  Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.”
11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man, while I have smooth skin. 12 What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.”  (Gen. 27:5-13)

As far as the text tells us, Rebekah does not have any further contact with the son she loves. The obvious question to ask is: Why did Rebekah not approach Isaac with the prophecy?  At least one midrash appears to imply that time was of the essence and she could not take the time to speak to Isaac because Esau could return any minute. Rebekah assumed that if her conversation with her husband failed, she would not have enough time to prepare the meal and send Jacob in. However, hunting, skinning, and preparing the meal cannot take less time than having a conversation.

The method selected by Rebekah to carry out God's message to her when she was pregnant teaches that the ends justify the means. God's will must be carried out by human beings at all cost. If this means that one must lie and use trickery to make sure that God's will is fulfilled, so be it. Nahmanides (1194-1270) is somewhat perplexed as to why Rebekah did not tell Isaac of the prophecy prior to the birth of the twins. He ends with the following: By Him actions are measured (I Sam. 2:3). That is, God is all knowing, and He alone understands human actions.  

Rebekah and Jacob both face the consequences of their actions regardless of their intent. The consequences in both cases must have been emotionally draining and traumatic. It should be noted that the majority of the traditional commentators on this story attempt to solve the problems raised in the paper by arguing that Rebekah and Jacob did not trick Isaac, or that the trick was necessary in order to achieve a greater good.

Rashi, for example, comments that Jacob did not lie to his father; rather, when Isaac asks Jacob who is he, Jacob says, 'I am bringing you [the food] while Esau is your first-born.' Ibn Ezra dismisses this interpretation completely. According to his reading of the story, Jacob did lie and it is permissible for him to lie since there is a greater good involved.

It is interesting that both classical rabbinic interpretations of the text and medieval Jewish commentators do not fault Rebekah at all for this. Rebekah, so it seems, was justified in carrying out the hoax because of God's message to her.

To conclude, Rebekah's actions were intended to fulfill God's message which she heard. As the story unfolds, one is aware that although God has established an end, there is no course of action that God recommends. Rebekah, as the initiator, decides to create an elaborate hoax, thereby setting a chain of events. Isaac must live knowing that both his wife and his son tricked him. Rebekah is never again to see her beloved son. Jacob succeeds in stealing the blessing from his brother Esau but then is forced to flee to the house of his uncle who tricks him by switching an older sister for the woman Jacob wants. Later in the story, Jacob is deceived by his children who sold their brother into slavery. Yet the act of selling Joseph to a passing caravan secured a future for Jacob and his children, as the end of the Book of Genesis shows. Although I argued that the actions of Rebekah and Jacob were not sanctioned by the Torah, if one follows the Jacob saga to its conclusion the narrative shows, without the critical incident – the hoax – the Exodus from Egypt would not have taken place. The end toward which God guides the patriarchs was foretold to Abraham (15:13-14). The means by which this is achieved is fraught with inappropriate ethical decisions by the patriarchs as discussed above.

Laban, Leah, Rachel and Jacob:  16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”
19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.”
22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24 And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.
25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”
26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.”
28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. 30 Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. He worked for Laban another seven years.  (Gen. 29:16-30)

Jacob Couldn’t See Leah:  The text tells us that it was dark, and thus we can assume Jacob couldn’t see her properly. Samuel David Luzatto, (1800-1865) writes: “And there is no doubt that they had sex in the dark, and thus he did not recognize her until the morning.”  In fact, R. David Kimchi, (ca. 1160-1235) suggests that the rabbinic axiom not to have relations in the light is learned from this story:  “And it was in the evening” – the story teaches us that it is not fit for a person to have sex by candle light, and all the more so during the light of day.  He also suggests that Jacob was extremely modest, so much so that he did not speak with his new bride during sex or at any other time that night.  

Jacob Was Drunk:  Another approach, first suggested by Josephus, is that Jacob was drunk, ostensibly based on the fact that Jacob was coming from Laban’s feast; the Hebrew word for “feast,” משתה (mishteh), literally means “drinking party” (Ant. 1:301).   The image of someone being tricked—or forced—into sex because of drink is a motif in the Bible found in the story of Lot and his daughters (Gen 19:30-38).

What about Leah and Rachel?  Did Leah not think about the consequences of forcing herself on Jacob through trickery? These problems bothered the rabbis who offered homiletical explanations for the behavior of each woman.

Option One:  Jacob was intended for Rachel:  According to one tradition, Jacob asked to marry Rachel because he knew that Leah was intended for Esau. Jacob therefore asked Laban to give him Rachel’s hand in matrimony. Laban, also, saw that Esau had married Mahalath, and he worried about Leah’s marriage. Consequently, he decided to immediately give Jacob his elder daughter.  

Option Two:  Jacob had already fallen in love with Rachel:   Jacob asked Rachel: “Will you marry me?” She answered: “Yes, but my father is a deceiver, and you will not be able to best him. I have an older sister, and he will not marry me off before her.” He said: “I am his brother in deceit.” Jacob gave Rachel signs (so that he would be able to recognize her on the wedding night). When Leah was brought under the wedding canopy, Rachel thought: “Now my sister will be shamed.” She gave the signs to Leah. (BT Bava Batra).

Leah Is Not Complicit but Crushed: That night, Jacob lies with his new wife, but they do not speak much; they barely know each other anyway. The next morning, he sees that she isn’t the beautiful Rachel he remembers, but her less attractive older sister Leah, and he is angry. We do not hear how Leah feels upon seeing her new husband’s dismay and learning that he does not really want her, but her younger sister. Nevertheless, from Leah’s comments later in the narrative, we can imagine her reaction.

Leah is the “despised” wife (Gen 29:31). Leah is deeply pained by Jacob’s rejection of her and his preference for her sister. This makes more sense when we realize that Leah believed that Jacob had wanted to marry her originally.

Yet the Rabbis believe Jacob saw her as having been part of the deception, motivated to avoid a marriage to the wicked Esau.  For this, they say, Jacob wanted to divorce her (Gen. Rabbah 96:31).  She was unloved not only by her husband; everyone sneered at her. Sea voyagers would sneer at her, those traveling on the roads would sneer at her.  All would say: “This Leah, what she hides is not as what she reveals. She appears righteous, but she is not such a one. If she were righteous, would she have defrauded her sister?” (Gen. Rabbah 71:2).  When Jacob saw that God had remembered Leah with children, he said: “Will I divorce the mother of these?” (Gen. Rabbah 96:31). (The tribes of Levi and Judah, the two tribes that were superior to all the rest, descended from her.)

Yet if Leah knew all along that she was tricking Jacob into marrying her, would not the husband-theft have been the other way around? After all, Jacob wanted to marry Rachel and that was the deal he struck with their father.

Once we understand that Leah and Rachel were also fooled, however, we realize that from Leah’s vantage point, Jacob was supposed to be her husband. When Laban brought her to Jacob’s tent, in her mind, it was her wedding night and Jacob had just worked seven years just to marry her. As Leah experiences it, only in the morning, when Jacob takes a good look at her, does he decide that he has married the wrong sister and goes to Laban to correct this.

Thus, when Leah accuses Rachel of stealing her husband, she means it. And she continues to hope that he will change his mind and love her too. According to this reading of the story, Leah was just as shocked as Jacob that fateful morning, but with far fewer options for rectifying the situation. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

#Me Too in the Bible Session Two: Nameless Women

Image result for moses and pharaoh's daughter
#Me Too in the Bible: 
Session Two – Nameless Women
·         Cain’s Wife·         Seth’s Daughters·         Enosh’s Daughters·         Cainan’s Daughters·         Mahaleel’s Daughters·         Jared’s Daughters·         Enoch’s Daughters·         Methuselah’s Daughters·         Lamech’s Daughters·         Daughters of Men·         Noah’s Wife, Sons' Wives·         Shem’s Daughters·         Lot’s Wife·         Lot’s Daughters·         Potiphar’s Wife·         Shaul’s Mother·         Pharaoh’s Daughter·         Daughters of Reuel·         Daughters of Putiel·         Wisehearted Women·         Tabernacle Women·         Priestly Daughters·         Ethiopian Wife of Moses·         Midian Women·         Sisera’s Mother·         Gideon’s Wives·         Woman of Thebez·         Gilead’s Wife·         Jephthah’s Daughter·         Ibzan’s Daughters·         Manoah’s Wife·         Micah’s Mother·         Levite’s Concubine·         Four Hundred Virgins of Jabesh-Gilead·         Daughters of Elkanah·         Tabernacle Women·         Ichabod’s Mother·         Female Water-Drawers·         Musical Women·         Abigail’s Five Damsels·         Witch of Endor·         Daughters of the Philistines·         Mephibosheth’s Nurse·         Woman of Tekoah·         Ten Concubines of David·         Wench of En-Rogel·         Wise Woman of Abel·         Solomon’s Wives and Concubines·         Two Harlot Mothers·         Mother of Hiram·         Queen of Sheba·         Wife of Hadad·         Wife of Jeroboam·         Widow of Zarephath·         Mother of Elisha·         Widow and Her Pot of Oil·         Great Woman of Shunem·         Wife of Naaman·         Maid of Naaman’s Wife·         Mothers Who Ate Their Sons·         Sheshan’s Daughter·         Jabez’s Mother·         Shimei’s Daughters·         Machir’s Wife·         Heman’s Daughters·         Artaxerxes' Queen·         Shallum’s Daughters·         Barzillai’s Daughters·         Women of Mixed Marriages·         Job’s Wife·         Lemuel’s Mother·         Zion’s Daughters·         Virgins of Honor·         Isaiah’s Wife·         Jeremiah’s Mother·         Zedekiah’s Daughters·         Wicked Hebrew Wives·         Women Who Wept for Tammuz·         Ezekiel’s Wife·         Belshazzar’s Mother

The Wife of Noah:

Genesis: 7:7 “And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.”
4:19 “Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah. 20 Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes. 22 Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain’s sister was Naamah.”
Midrash Genesis Rabbah 23:4: And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Na’amah.  Rabbi Abba bar Kahana said: Na’amah was Noah’s wife. Why was she called Na’amah? Because all her deeds were pleasant (ne’imim). The Rabbis said this is a different Na’amah. Why was she called Na’amah? Because she beat on a drum to draw people to idol worship.
Rashi (on Gen. 4:22) comments, “she was Noah’s wife”
Zohar I:55:  Moreover, when Cain had killed Abel, Adam separated from his wife and cohabitated with two female elementals, and from his intercourse with them was begotten a great and numerous progeny of demons and elementaries who at night time appear in attractive forms and thus give rise to offspring like unto themselves…
Said Rabbi Hiya: "What signify the words 'And the sister of Tubal Cain was Naamah' (gentleness), and wherefore was this name given her? Was it to indicate that she possessed the power of seducing both human and angelic beings?"
Said Rabbi Simeon: "She was the procreatrix of all the demons of Cainite origin, and she it is that along with Lilith afflicts infant children with epileptic diseases."
Said Rabbi Abba: "Seeing that demons and elementals are subject to death, wherefore do Naamah and Lilith continue to exist through the ages?"
Rabbi Simeon replied: "All demons and elementaries do indeed die, but Naamah and Lilith together with Agereth, daughter of Mahlath their offspring, abide in the world until the day that the Holy One will banish them from the world.   

The Wife of Manoah (Sampson’s Mother):

Judges 13:2  A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”
Then the woman went to her husband and told him, “A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn’t ask him where he came from, and he didn’t tell me his name. But he said to me, ‘You will become pregnant and have a son. Now then, drink no wine or other fermented drink and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite of God from the womb until the day of his death.’”
Then Manoah prayed to the Lord: “Pardon your servant, Lord. I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.”
God heard Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman while she was out in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her. 10 The woman hurried to tell her husband, “He’s here! The man who appeared to me the other day!”
11 Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he said, “Are you the man who talked to my wife?”
“I am,” he said.  12 So Manoah asked him, “When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule that governs the boy’s life and work?”
13 The angel of the Lord answered, “Your wife must do all that I have told her.14 She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, nor drink any wine or other fermented drink nor eat anything unclean. She must do everything I have commanded her.”
I Chronicles 4:3 - These were the sons of Etam: Jezreel, Ishma and Idbash. Their sister was named Hazzelelponi.
Bava Batra 91a: Judge Ibzan had sixty children and held one hundred and twenty feasts when they married, but he did not invite Manoah and his wife to a single one of these celebrations. He reasoned: How will this barren mule repay me? This couple has no children, and they will never be able to invite me to their banquet. In the end, Manoah and his wife were blessed with a son, while all of Ibzan’s offspring died in his lifetime. This gave birth to the popular saying: “You begat sixty, of what benefit to you are the sixty. Try and beget one, who will be brighter than sixty.” That is, the only child of Manoah and his wife brought greater benefit than the sixty sons and daughters of Ibzan…
And Rav Ḥanan bar Rava says that Rav says: The mother of Abraham was called Amatlai bat Karnevo. The mother of Haman was called Amatlai bat Orevati. And your mnemonic, to ensure that the two are not confused for one another, is that a raven [orev] is impure, and in this manner, one remembers that Orevati is the grandmother of the impure Haman, while a sheep [kar] is pure, which indicates that Karnevo is the grandmother of the pure Abraham.
Rav Ḥanan bar Rava continues: The mother of David was named Natzvat bat Ada’el. The mother of Samson was named Tzelelponit, and his sister was called Nashyan. The Gemara asks: What is the practical difference as to what their names were? The Gemara answers: It is important with regard to an answer for heretics who inquire into the names of these women, which are not stated in the Bible. One can reply that there is a tradition handed down concerning their names.
The Widow of Zarepath: 
1 Kings 17:17-24 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him 18 And she said to Elijah, "What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to be to bring my sin and remembrance and to cause the death of my son!... And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, "O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again". 22 And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived… Now by this I know that you are a man of God."
Pirke d’Rebbi Eliezer 33:  Rabbi Simeon said: Owing to the power of charity the dead will be quickened in the future. Whence do we learn this? From Elijah the Tishbite. For he betook himself to Zarephath, and a woman (who was) a widow received him with great honor. She was the mother of Jonah, and they were eating and drinking his bread and oil; he, she, and her son, as it is said, "And she did eat, and he also" (1 Kings xvii. 15).

Batya Daughter of Pharaoh:
Exodus 2 Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
“Yes, go,” she answered. So, the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So, the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”

I Chronicles 4:17-18 One of Mered’s wives gave birth to Miriam,Shammai and Ishbah the father of Eshtemoa. 18 His wife from the tribe of Judah gave birth to Jered the father of Gedor, Heber the father of Soko, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah. These were the children of Pharaoh’s daughter Bithiah, whom Mered had married.

Megillah 13a Why is she, who we are told at the end of the verse was Pharaoh’s daughter Bithiah, referred to as Yehudiyya? Because she repudiated idol worship, as it is written: “And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself in the river” (Exodus 2:5), and Rabbi Yoḥanan said: She went down to wash and purify herself from the idols of her father’s house.
The Gemara understands that all the names referred to in the verse as children of Pharaoh’s daughter refer to Moses, as it will soon explain. The Gemara asks: Pharaoh’s daughter bore Moses? But didn’t she merely raise him? Rather, it is telling you that with regard to anyone who raises an orphan boy or girl in his house, the verse ascribes him credit as if he gave birth to him.
The Gemara explains how all the names in fact are referring to Moses: “Jered”; this is Moses, and why was he called Jered? Because manna came down [yarad] for the Jewish people in his days. He was also called “Gedor” because he fenced in [gadar] the breaches of the Jewish people. He was called “Heber” because he connected [ḥibber] the Jewish people to their Father in Heaven. He was called “Soco” because he was for the Jewish people like a shelter [sukka] and shield. He was called “Jekuthiel” because the Jewish people trusted in God [kivu laEl] in his days. Lastly, he was called “Zanoah” because he caused the iniquities of the Jewish people to be disregarded [hizniaḥ].

Midrash Exodus Rabbah 1:26:  "And the child (Moses) grew" The daughter of Pharaoh would kiss and hug and adore him (Moses) as if he were her own son, and she would not take him out of the king’s palace. And because [Moses] was so beautiful, everyone yearned to see him… “And she called his name ‘Moshe’” – From here you can learn about the merit of those that perform acts of kindness. Even though Moses had many names, the only name that was set throughout the Torah, was the name that Bathyah daughter of Pharaoh called him. Even the Holy One Blessed is He did not call him by another name.