10 Names from Exodus: Happy Sukkot!

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Sukkot is a joyful holiday that follows Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) by five days.  Sukkot literally translates to "booths" in reference to the temporary dwelling structures God commanded His children to build during their "homeless" period.  In commemoration of Sukkot, we thought we’d list the names of those Biblical characters that were part of the action in the Old Testament’s (Hebrew Bible’s) Book of Exodus. Oddly enough, most of the players in Exodus are nameless, so our list is rather short (10 peeps in all).

 

Moses – Head Honcho and Grand Poo-Bah of the Exodus (excepting Yahweh, of course!) and underappreciated babysitter of the Israelites. Moses is basically God’s mouthpiece.  After his rather extraordinary encounter/conversation with a Burning Bush, Moses is appointed to lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt (where they are being oppressed by Pharaoh).  God uses Moses as His instrument to reestablish His covenant with the Promised People.  You might say Moses had “Face Time” with God on his iPhone speed-dial.  He led the Israelites across the Red Sea east into the desert where they wandered for 40 years, during which time Moses dispensed the Laws of God found atop Mt. Sinai. He died before reaching the Promised Land, but not before he saw it with his own eyes. Oh, and if that isn’t enough, Moses is credited as the author of the Old Testament’s first five books.  Learn more about Moses.

 

Miriam – Moses’ big sis. Aside from her talents as a singer and dancer, this triple-threat is also a leader and a prophet in her own right. Miriam is a gal with some gusto. You go girl! Perhaps, though, she gets a little too big for her ancient-petticoat when she questions Moses’ choice in a wife, suggesting that the “Lord speaks through [her] as much as [Moses]”. Big mistake, Miriam. Big, BIG faux pas. God responds to her insubordination by striking her down with leprosy for seven days (sparing her only because Moses asks that He does). Still, we like that moxie of hers. You might call her the First Feminist of Western Civilization.  Learn more about Miriam. 

 

Aaron – Moses’ and Miriam’s brother. He’s also remembered as the unfortunate engineer of the “golden calf” (for idol worship).  Another one of those irritating sibling blunders that Moses was forced to clean-up with Big Daddy. The golden calf incident really pissed off God. And we mean really. In fact, YHWH ordered the extermination of everybody (he was a jealous God, after all).  Again, Moses to the rescue. After Aaron’s request for forgiveness, he’s anointed the first High Priest of Israel. Apparently his positive qualities far outweighed his negative ones. Learn more about A-A-Ron. 

 

Jethro – Moses’ father-in-law and the lead singer of a 1970s British rock band, Jethro Tull (ok, we’re kidding on the second part). Jethro apparently means “abundance” (יִתְרוֹ) in Hebrew (perhaps in reference to his seven daughters?).  In any case, Jethro provides some wise counsel to Moses during the wanderings years. He basically teaches him the art of delegation.

 

Zipporah – Jethro’s daughter and Moses’ wife. Early on in Exodus, Moses helps Zipporah water her flocks so Jethro gives her to be his wife. Note to self: don’t go accepting watering favors from strange men. Her name means “bird” in Hebrew. Sepphora is the Greek version of her name.

 

Gershom & Eliezer – Moses and Zipporah’s sons. Gershom means “sojourner there” in reference to his Dad’s arduous journey toward the Promised Land and Eliezer means “God is help” in reference to God’s indispensible assistance in leading His children to the Promised Land. 

 

Israelites – If you read Exodus, you’ll find the Children of Israel were a wee bit prone to whining, despite the fact that God graciously answered their hunger and thirst prayers with an abundance of quail and manna, not to mention rocks that produce water. This is a rather impatient crowd to say the least; especially when they beg Aaron to fashion a “golden calf” that they can worship as they wait around anxiously for Moses to return from Mt. Sinai. Many of them are killed for their bad behavior before reaching the Promised Land. Learn more about the name Israel. 

 

Levites – You might say the Levites are the most obedient of the Israelite cliques wandering around the wilderness with Moses for 40 years. It’s also the tribe from which Moses and his family are descended, so no wonder they’re more loyal to their steadfast leader compared to their pesky brethren.  It’s the Levites who pretty much kill their non-behaving Israeli counterparts, so only the True Believers are left to honor the covenant.  Learn more about the name Levi.

 

Joshua – Moses’ successor.  After Moses died Joshua succeeded him as leader of the Children of Israel – whom he courageously led after many battles to take possession of the Promised Land from the Canaanites. Apropos, his name means “God is salvation.” Learn more about Joshua.

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