Four verbs in Exodus/Shemot 6:6-7 form the basis for the Rabbinic requirement of four cups at the Passover seder:
v’hozeiti — I will bring you out
v’hitzalti — I will rescue you
v’gaalti — I will redeem you
v’lakachti — I will take you
Additionally, v’hayyiti lachem leilohim — I shall be your God — is considered the “purpose” or “climax” of the list.
Beyond that, however, in verse 8, is v’eiveiti etchem el-ha-aretz — I will bring to the Land — and v’natati otah lachem morasha — I will give it to you for a heritage. A minority opinion requires a fifth cup in association with this promise — with the disagreement (four cups or five) resulting in Elijah’s cup.
For more on the highly packed few verses (Exodus/Shemot 6:2-8) that open this portion, see, e.g., Nechama Leibowitz, “I the Lord,” in New Studies on Shemot/Exodus.
The ascending order of these verbs is clear. The first involved an actual physical operation performed by human intervention,… the second direct intervention of God….The Third, an action performed by one member of a family for another (Cf. Lev. 25, 25) and the fourth — the most intimate. Benno Jacob aptly notes how the process of “I shall be your God” follows all these acts as the ultimate outcome….Justice (the release from slavery is but justice) to Compassion leading to feelings of Closeness and climaxed by Love. — Leibowitz,* p.123
Leibowitz and Cassuto both discuss the fact that we have here seven [a “perfect” number, biblically] clauses of promise and that “I am YHVH” appears four times in this passage:
The Divine action for the benefit of Israel is described in seven clauses [a “perfect” number], each of which begins with a verb in the first person, the verbs being linked together by a [vav] consecutive: and I will bring out — and I will deliver — and I will redeem — and I will take — and I will be — and I will bring –and I will give. Of these the first three (v.6) refer to the liberation; the middle two (v.7) establish the mutual relationship between the Lord and Israel; the last two (v.8) appertain to the acquisition of the Land….
The entire declaration, by its elevated diction, which approximates to poetic rhythm, by its triple (we may even say, quadruple) iteration of the solemn forumal I am YHWH, by its seven expressions of promise, which succeed one another like hammer blows, as well as by the threefold mention of the word ‘land” and of its being given [to the Patriarchs or their descendants], leaves a profound impression worthy of the exalted nature of the theme.
— Umbero Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Exodus* p.80, 81
* Please see Source Materials for complete commentary citations and more details.
The “Opening the Book” series was originally presented in cooperation with the independent, cross-community Jewish Study Center and with Kol Isha, an open group that for many years pursued spirituality from a woman’s perspective at Temple Micah (Reform). “A Song Every Day” is an independent blog, however, and all views, mistakes, etc. are the author’s.