The Bush is Not Consumed
In the Book of Exodus the Torah describes Moses’ first prophetic experience (Exodus 3:2-4:17). We are told that Moses said to himself: “Let me turn and see this great sight; why will the bush not be burned?” We are then told that God saw that Moses had “turned to see” so God called to Moses from the bush.
The narrative of the Torah makes it clear that it was entirely possible for Moses not to “turn and see” the burning bush. If Moses would have chosen the path of ignoring the burning bush we get the impression that God would not have spoken to him. It is only because God saw that Moses “turned to see” that God then called and spoke to Moses.
There is a deep lesson to be learned from this detail of the Scriptural narrative. We tend to enjoy our comfort and complacency and we tend to avoid concepts and ideas that we sense may upset the smooth flow of life to which we have become habituated. These ideas may be awesome and wondrous but we avoid looking them in the eye because we are frightened that we may have to move from the “business as usual” mode.
One concept which has the power to shake us from our sense of complacency is the burning bush of history. For the past several thousand years the Jewish people were but a bush on the landscape of human history. The Jewish people were dwarfed by the mighty nations around them in terms of power and wealth as a bush is dwarfed by the tall trees that surround it. The fury of these trees was directed at the Jewish people so that they were constantly faced with the fire of hate. Yet the bush did not get consumed. The Jewish people are still here as fresh and as vibrant as ever.
This holds true not only on the physical level but on a spiritual plane as well. The belief system of Judaism has faced the fires of hate, ridicule contempt and vilification in both Christian Europe and in the lands of Islam. Yet the bush is not consumed. Walk into the study hall of a Yeshiva and you will see how the bush is as verdant and lively as ever.
Look and allow yourself to be impressed by this wondrous phenomenon. Stop to absorb the miracle of Jewish survival. Don’t just walk on but “turn to see”.
Remember; if Moses would not have “turned to see”, then the greatest prophet we ever had would have missed his calling in life.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
A nice story (or concept ) equating the burning bush with the nation of Israel, a nation incidently I fully support. However as nice a concept as it is, it is a stretch too far. Why?….Because Stephen a Christian Jew tell us at Acts 7:30 “And when forty years were expired , there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.”
Furthermore, Yahweh told Moses at Exodus 33:20 KJV
And he said , Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live .
God uses angels numerous times as his representatives or messengers such as with Lot and Abraham, and John also a Christian Jew…. tells us at John 1:18 KJV “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
One could reply…but Deuteronomy 34:10 tells us… “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face”
Moses, though he never literally saw the very person of God, he had a more direct, constant, intimate relationship with God than did any prophet prior to Jesus Christ.
Because God said: “Mouth to mouth I speak to him,” this reveals that Moses had a personal audience with God (by means of angels, who have access to the very presence of God; (Mt 18:10). As Israel’s mediator, he enjoyed a virtually continuous two-way conversational communication arrangement. He was able at any time to present problems of national importance and to receive God’s answer. The later prophets simply continued to build on the foundation that had been laid through Moses.
The manner in which God dealt with Moses was so impressive that it was as if Moses actually had beheld God with his own eyes, instead of merely having a mental vision or a dream in which he heard God speak, which was the usual way in which God communicated with his prophets. God’s dealings with Moses were so real that Moses reacted as if he had seen “the One who is invisible.” (Heb 11:27)
When the Israelites cried out to God because of their slavery in Egypt, Yahweh took notice. (Exodus 2:23-25) At the burning bush, He said to Moses: “I am proceeding to go down to deliver [my people] out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a land good and spacious, to a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exodus 3:8)
How exciting it must have been to see Yahweh bring this about! When Pharaoh refused to let Israel leave Egypt, Moses informed him that God would turn the waters of the Nile into blood. Jehovah’s word did not fail. The water in the Nile River was turned into blood. The fish died, and the river water was undrinkable. (Exodus 7:14-21) Pharaoh remained obstinate, and Jehovah brought nine more plagues, describing each one in advance. (Exodus, chapters 8-12) After the tenth plague struck dead the firstborn of Egypt, Pharaoh ordered the Israelites to leave—and leave they did!….Exodus 12:29-32.
That deliverance opened the way for Yahweh to adopt Israel as his chosen nation. It magnified Jehovah as the Fulfiller of promises, the one whose word never fails. It demonstrated Gods’s supremacy over the gods of the nations. Reading about that deliverance strengthens our faith. Imagine what it must have been like to experience it! Joshua saw that Yahweh was without doubt “the Most High over all the earth.”—Psalm 83:18.
So to suggest that the burning bush is synonymous with the nation of Israel is slightly whimsical as it was Yahweh’s means to attract and impress Moses of His power and the ensuing adoption by God of the Israelite nation as a people through which the Messiah would come….all part of Yaheh’s plan which he put into action at Genesis 3:15 with His first prophecy… “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head,[=fatal] and thou shalt bruise his heel.[=not fatal]
You turned away (whimsically) and failed to get the analogy. God was not in the fire, but God chose it (an insignificant bush) & spoke through it. God spoke and is speaking through a people and some turn away to hear & listen to a different messenger, one who did not know God, since his words so often clearly contradict those of God & his Torah. That newer messenger, an ordinary man (great evidence shows that he most likely a fictional “man”), points back to the ways of Egypt, or of Caesars Rome, or of Babylon. That analogy would be one of a bright & shiny Christmas tree, that was cut down & will be thrown in the landfill, or into the fire.
It’s not that the burning bush ‘was’ Israel, it’s a picture that illustrates deep concepts through its points of similarity.
The gospels depict Jesus taking a similar technique when he alluded to the time that Jonah spent in the fish, so as to illustrate that he would die and be resurrected. This story was also used because it shows a Jew (Jonah) resisting God while other nations accepted him, and in the New Testament story, Jesus was criticising people who didn’t listen to him as if they also were ignoring God. Nowhere did he say that he ‘was’ Jonah.
Of course it’s important to be careful when drawing non-literal comparisons, because they can be persuasive even if the two things aren’t really alike. But it’s also an effective way of thinking about the present, by allowing a similar story from the past to symbolise or shed light on it. As long as truth is kept in mind on the literal level, these comparisons can be made based on even a subtle aspect of similarity, to shed new light on the patterns in our human experience of Hashem.
And in this case, it’s absolutely right to allude to the burning bush because it was a sign to Moses of God’s presence, and because although it was in flames it miraculously didn’t burn up. The Israelites in Egypt were also like a bush that was persecuted by fire but survived by the miracle of God’s favour and presence with them. Perhaps God chose this sign for His presence for Moses because it so closely fitted the redemption He was planning to bring about.
So it happens that the Jewish people are still preserved by God as His precious people, and as a light to the nations. For us to listen to the private conversation of that promise and that relationship (particularly in the Jewish scriptures), and to see the sign of a nation that has been miraculously preserved in its existence, its heritage, and its love for God in many places… is something to turn and look at more carefully. The question begins with wondering whether this is the place where God is making His presence known to us.
Reblogged this on 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources.
Hi, is it possible to attend Yeshiva via internet? thank you