Shemot/Va’era The Voice of the Sign 5777
The following Parashiot are celebrated in the month of Nissan and involve the Pesach remembrance. We can read through these sections of Sh’mot or we can begin preparing for freedom, leaving Mitsrayim this year, today. Just as one wouldn’t want to wait till the night before Pesach to clean out your Chametz, we need not wait to embrace the feeling of freedom, leaving narrowness….NOW is a good time to start tuning into it.
אֲנַחנוּ נִקְרָא Sefer Tehillim, Perek צד He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see? He who chastens the nations, will He not rebuke,even He who teaches man knowledge? The LORD knows the thoughts of man, that they are a mere breath. (9-11)
Sh’mot Perek ד Pasukim י – יז Then Moses said to the LORD, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent (I am not a man of דְּבָרִ֜ים devarim) , neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech (peh פֶּ֛ה mouth) and slow of tongue (lashan- לָשׁ֖וֹן) .” The LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s (לָֽאָדָם֒) mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? “Now then go, and I, even I, will be (eh’yeh אֶֽהְיֶ֤ה ) with your mouth, and teach you וְהֹורֵיתִיךָ (ve’ho’reh’tiy’cha- found only here in this form, Yara=root of Torah meaning to cast, throw, teach, instruct, show.) what you are to say.” But he said, “Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will.” Then the anger of the LORD burned against Moses, and He said, “Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. “You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be ( eh’yeh אֶֽהְיֶ֣ה) with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you וְהוֹרֵיתִ֣י (v’ho’reh’tiy, yara-root )what you are to do. “Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him “You shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.”
The only other place in Tanakh “v’ho’reh’tiy” I will teach you…is found is when Shmuel is addressing his people, the context begins as follows:
2 Samuel 12; 6 – 8 Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the LORD who appointed Moses and Aaron and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt. “So now, take your stand, that I may plead with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous acts of the LORD which He did for you and your fathers. “When Jacob went into Egypt and your fathers cried out to the LORD, then the LORD sent Moses and Aaron who brought your fathers out of Egypt and settled them in this place….. 18 So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel. 19 Then all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, so that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil by asking for ourselves a king.” 20 Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have committed all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. 21“You must not turn aside, for then you would go after futile things which can not profit or deliver, because they are futile. 22 “For the LORD will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the LORD has been pleased to make you a people for Himself. 23 “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way. 24 “Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. 25 “But if you still do wickedly, both you and your king will be swept away.”
Bemidbar 12; 3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.)
Moses was most humble, viewing himself as no one special. He did not wish leadership. Perhaps Moses’ very humility made him perfect for this role in God’s plan. As God wished to display His greatness to the Egyptians, a humble man would ensure that the focus remains on God, and not allow leadership to corrupt him.
[First occurrences in Torah of the words qowl, amar, shama, and nachash :
B’reshit Perek ג Pasuk ח They heard שָׁמַעְתִּי the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden…. 10 He said וַיֹּאמֶר, “I heard וַֽיִּשְׁמְעוּ the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”…13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent הַנָּחָשׁ deceived me, and I ate.”….17 Then to Adam He said וַיֹּאמֶר, “Because you have listened שָׁמַעְתָּ to the voice לְקֹול of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. ]
#559 (verb) amar אָמַר- to bear forth, to bring to light, to say.
#6963 (masc.n) qowl קוֹל– the voice, to call, proclaim, rumor, sound, noise, speech, words.
#8085 (Masc.n/Verb) shama שָׁמַע – to listen to attend, to obey, give heed, to hear and answer, to understand things heard, to render obedience, to announce, to tell.
# 5175 (masc. N) nachash נָחָשׁ- a serpent (so called from its hissing).
(First occurrences in Sh’mot)
Sh’mot 3:18 “They will pay heed וְשָׁמְע֖וּ to what you say לְקֹלֶךָ; and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt and you will say וַאֲמַרְתֶּ֤ם to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now, please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’
Sh’mot 4; 1Then Moses said וַיֹּאמֶר , “What if they will not believe me or listen יִשְׁמְע֖וּ to what I say בְּקֹלִי? For they may say יֹֽאמְרוּ , ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’” 2The LORD said וַיֹּאמֶר to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said וַיֹּאמֶר, “A staff.” 3 Then He said וַיֹּאמֶר, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent לְנָחָ֑שׁ ; and Moses fled from it. 4 But the LORD said וַיֹּאמֶר to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail”—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— 5“that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” 6The LORD furthermore said וַיֹּאמֶר to him, “Now put your hand into your bosom.” So he put his hand into his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. 7Then He said, “Put your hand into your bosom again.” So he put his hand into his bosom again, and when he took it out of his bosom, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 8“If they will not believe you or heed the witness לְקֹל of the first sign, they may believe the witness לְקֹל of the last sign. 9“But if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say לְקֹלֶ֔ךָ ,
….then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”
[ Before we move on take a look at the word used for ground. Following this word and the few occurrences it is found will teach us something about the connections in these accounts
# 3004 (fem.n) yabashah יַבָּשָׁה – that which is dry, on the dry, dry footed. (from a shoresh meaning “dry”- the flood waters were dried, the Israelites walked on dry land, the Jordan was dried before them.)
B’reshit 1:9 Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10 God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.
Sh’mot 14:16 “As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land…22 The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. … 29 But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
Sh’mot 15:19 For the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, and the LORD brought back the waters of the sea on them, but the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea.
Bezrat Hashem, we’re going to make some connections as to the purposes for the “signs of Moshe” he was given at Har Sinai. First, note that this place is known as Horeb חֹרֵב and the Mountain of God הַר הָאֱלֹהִים. This place is known as Sinai סִינַי. This title is connected to the following word/verses:
#5572 (Masc. N) s’neh סְנֶה – a bush, thorn bush.
(found only in this context and Devarim:
Exo 3:2 The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.So Moses said, “ I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.”4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
Devarim 33:16 And with the choice things of the earth and its fullness, and the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush. Let it come to the head of Joseph, and to the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers.)
The first sign occurred once the staff was thrown down, it was not touching Moshe. This is to show there is no sleight of hand here. The sign of blood also occurred when the water was separate from his touch, when it is in the earth (ground) it changed to blood. This shows that there was no tactile control or manipulation which all magicians need to perform their “deceptions”. These are not tricks, they are miracles, acts of God. God is the only One capable of altering natural law – only He created it, only He controls it. By design, God wished that our conviction of this most central idea – God as Creator – must be arrived at through thought, and understanding, not through amazement at marvelous feats. Our recognition of God as the Creator ‘must’ be apprehended through our reasoning. This is taught to be the highest form of recognition of God, and the preferred method to knowing Him, and His works. It is easy to witness a miracle, and be convinced, but in such a case, our mind forfeits the exercise of reasoning – THE mark of man’s perfection.
Both the staff and a serpent have similar appearances, they are narrow, elongated shapes. Once transformed into a serpent, the viewer might second-guess what he saw, “Was it in fact a staff before hand, or was it a serpent in some stiffened state?” Control of one’s emotions and clear thinking are required so as not to dismiss a miracle. Moses was given these signs for the very reason that the Jews were bent on disbelief in God’s appointment of Moses. Hence, subsequent to a sign, the Jews might seek to explain away the miracle. To say the very minimum about this specific sign, we may suggest that it teaches that God controls life. He can turn a lifeless staff into a living organism. God’s control of life would appear to offer the most impact on the Jews. Therefore God’s signs were indications of His control of life. But this was yet animal life. More impressive, was Moses’ hand becoming leprous. Here, God sought to teach that He controls human life. He does so in the negative (becoming leprous) as well as the positive (healing of Moses’ leprosy).
In order to minimize the affect of “astonishment”, God instructed Moses to first conceal his hand before it became leprous.If a hand became leprous in plain sight, it would overwhelm the viewer, prohibiting his mind from fully functioning. This feat would startle him. Therefore, God told Moses to hide his hand. God also gave Moses signs easily “duplicated” by the Egyptians. And as Rabbi Mann taught, this was for our reason that the viewer use intelligence to discern true miracles of God, from man’s sleight of hand. We may also suggest that the “voice” of each sign refers to the underlying “concept” derived by the mind, as opposed to the feat. God wished the viewer to understand each sign’s message – its “voice”. (Moses’ Three Signs Moshe BenChaim)
Why did things get worse for the people before they got better?
Sh’mot 5; 22 Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have You brought harm to הֲרֵעֹתָה this people? Why did You ever send me? 23 Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done harm to this people, and You have not delivered Your people at all.”
God is outside of time. ‘How can I have free will? God knows what I am going to do?’ The reality is, God knows already what you did. He presents for us the circumstances yet He already knows what the future holds, for him there is not “future” or past. This is why He Is, and He presents Himself to Moshe as Eh’yeh- I Am. I was. I will be. I am beyond these restrictions and this is how I will be related to as, I am…on My Terms. Still, in a way that you (we) can understand. This is why the Torah as the expression of God’s teaching, instruction, will, standard for a people set apart is also timeless.
(Please bear with the following digression before we address the question at hand:
If this will (for what Teacher teaches something He does not will to be known and adopted and applied) WAS before Adam ha rishon came into being, and IS still applicable for a people set apart for Hashem (not a stroke passing away as our Savior explicitly expressed), then we could say some form of this Will, will function in the times to come. Bezrat Hashem, we will still go into an in-depth study of Covenant.But for now think of it this way.
Covenant, Brit. We are the caretakers of the covenant (which covenant? Yes.) Using the Land Grant as an example. B’reshit 13;14The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15 for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.
Do any of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel right now have the right to give up that Land? To give away any of the Land? To sell the Land? To partition the Land? To diminish the value of the Land? Why? Why not? I believe one reason is because it would not be fair to the following generations. This covenant is for them too. What right would today’s covenant caretakers have to decide to do away with the responsibilities and benefits of that promise?
So too for the covenant made in the Garden, imagine if mankind “gave up” or “did away with” the fight against the destroyer, against sin. B’reshit 3; 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” So too for the covenant at Sinai, Sh’mot 19; 3 Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: 4‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. 5‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” 7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the LORD had commanded him. 8All the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do!” And Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD.
What right would any of us have for this or future generations to say, “this is not for us”, “we don’t need this anymore”, “we’ve partitioned this word to work for our lives”, “we give this up” it is no longer applicable or relevant for us? What right to we have to ‘give it away’?)
Coming back to the concept of God as being timeless and the question, Why did things get worse for the people? Moshe’s question: Why have You (God) done evil- ra to this people?
Looking at the selection below, there are four different Hebrew terms for the expressions of the B’nei Israel. This context is the ONLY place ALL four terms are found. This could mean many things. One of which could be that the intensity of their pain and suffering was unlike anything else that had been or (God willing) will ever be again. What we see here can give us great insight into the depth of their misery. If it was unmatched (let us submit), that would explain the great difficulty in the acknowledgment of God in their lives. It would help us understand their status and it should help us better relate to them as they ‘transgress’ in the wilderness.
Sh’mot 23 Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed אָנַח because of the bondage, and they cried out זָעַק; and their cry for help שַׁוְעָה because of their bondage rose up to God. 24 So God heard (וַיִּשְׁמַע) their groaning נְאָקָה; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25 God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them וַיֵּדַע.
# 3045 (v) yada יָדַע – to perceive, acquire knowledge, to know, to see, observe with the eyes, to be aware of, to understand, to forsee, to expect, to know by experience, to turn the mind to, to care for, to see about, to teach to acquaint.
As we have discussed before Yada יָדַע is often used in connection to a “covenantal knowledge”. Taking the context of the above verse which relates directly to the Covenant with Avraham, Yitsach and Ya’acov, it would be safe to apply this relation here. The people, although they cry out, are not directing these expressions to God. The text does not indicate that they are praying. There is no prayer here. Hashem is compassionate and certainly cares about each being personally, in this case it seems as though He is remembering the contract He made with Avraham. God may not be responding to a plea from them to Him. God is responding to the Covenant promises. Perek כב Pasukim יב – יד Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where (vav-and, not where) they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years “But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. “As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age.
There is much to be said about the duration of the period to which this prophecy and promise refers. The common uneducated answer is, “ The Jews were enslaved for 400 years.” One thing to note is that the period from Yitsach’s birth through the Exodus from Egypt is right around 400 years. This would make sense being that the promise is made consistent to the prerequisite that Avraham have a descendant. Yitsach is that descendant and once he is born the promise is initiated. Let us look at the terms of the promise. The first statement is that Avraham’s descendants will be “strangers” , this is quite different than the next term “enslaved” which is also different than the final word “oppressed”.
#1616 (Masc.N ) Gar גָּר – sojourner, stranger, person living outside of his own country, foreign shepherds, nomadic tribes.
The first place this word is found is in our promise. The next occurrence is when Avraham (in the Land of Israel- His Promised Land) calls himself a Gar while purchasing the cave at Machpelah.
B’reshit 23:4 “I am a stranger and a sojourner among you; give me a burial site among you that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” * Kitsch is born and although they may live in the Land they do not ‘own’ it yet, they are strangers in it. They ‘keep’ the covenant promise but have not yet realized its fruition.
** To feel strange, you don’t have to be a slave to suffer from feeling different. Pain and slavery are two different things.
# 5647 (v) avad עָבַד – to serve, to work, to worship, to serve YHVH, to impose servitude or labor upon, to be made to serve.
B’reshit 2:15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.
The 1st occurrences in Sh’mot describe the realization of Avraham’s warning: Sh’mot 1; 13 The Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously; 14 and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them.
** If you recall when we were studying the Mishkan, we discussed the difference between m’lachah (everyday grind, business dealings, personal gain, work) and avodah (which we associated in that context with “divine service”, the priests continued to maintain avodah even during the Sabbath rest, ceasing.) If we apply a similar definition here we might be able to realize that not only were the children of Israel working and serving Egypt in physical bondage, but they were also (some, perhaps many, of them) caught up in a spiritual entanglement (idol worship).
#6031 (v) anah עָנָה – till the ground, to bring earth into cultivation, to be afflicted, depressed, oppressed, to fast, to submit oneself.
The 1st occurrence in B’reshit of Anah is in the context of Avraham’s warning. The 1st occurrence of Anah in Sh’mot is : Sh’mot 1:11 So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel.
** What does one learn from slavery? This question should be asked in connection with the other- why did the oppression increase for them? Slavery teaches one a work ethic, discipline, the extent of one’s weakness and also strength. Before leaving Egypt, the people were slaves to Phar’oh, if they can take what they learned from their slavery out of Egypt to the Mountain of God and into the Marriage with God they will have some understanding of where He needed to take them in order for them to realize how much they needed Him.
Hebrews 11;23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after his birth, because they saw he was a beautiful child, and they were unafraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to suffer oppression with God’s people rather than to experience the fleeting enjoyment of sin. 26 He valued disgrace for Messiah above the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith Moses left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch Israel’s own firstborn. …
12;1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Yeshua, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, or lose heart when He rebukes you. 6For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastises everyone He receives as a son.” 7 Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you do not experience discipline like everyone else, then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Furthermore, we have all had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them. Should we not much more submit to the Father of our spirits and live?
When we seek to consider God’s ‘concept’ of time we must remember that He is timeless. When God communicates time to us it is not always literal or even mathematical. For example, one could look at time in the sense of accomplishments. You can look at a person’s life and see that they had accomplished so very much in a short period of time and it seemed ‘impossible’. On the other hand could it be that there is condensed into a short period of time so much abuse, pain and suffering that it too outweighed the “possibility” for the allotted time. When one seeks to ask, “How long was the slavery?” for the Children of Israel what could be said? What if we compared it to the Holocaust? How long was the period of abuse, pain and suffering from the Holocaust? Some would answer, ‘from about 1938-1947’. In reality the effects remain and continue, trauma, bad dreams, grandchildren who will never meet their relatives.
אֲנַחנוּ נִקְרָא Sefer Yeshayahu, all of Perek כז In that day the LORD will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, with His fierce and great and mighty sword, even Leviathan the twisted serpent; And He will kill the dragon הַתַּנִּין who lives in the sea.
When Moshe and Aaron come before Phar’oh there is something interesting we find in Hebrew. Bear in mind this context of Ezekiel: Ezekiel 29:3 “Speak and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,
“Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great crocodile הַתַּנִּים that lies in the midst of his rivers, that has said, ‘My Nile is mine, and I myself have made it.’
Sh’mot 7:9 “When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Work a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent לְתַנִּֽין.’”
10 So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the LORD had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent לְתַנִּֽין … 12 For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents לְתַנִּינִם. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.
# 8577 (Masc.N) taniyn תַּנִּין- a great serpent, sea monster, vast fish, a serpent, a dragon, a crocodile.
We are about to witness (so let us hear the voice of) the plagues and redemption of b’nei Yisrael. Before they are ‘saved’ they make the outward action to be obedient to God’s commands regarding the Pesach offering, meal, blood. Without the blood of the Lamb there is no salvation from Mitsrayim. Without the Pesach, which can only be eaten by the circumcised… when the once ger is a ger no longer. With that sign which Avraham received in connection with the covenant these members of his family are about to step into the next phase of the realization of his promise. [ “And you do not leave any man from the doorway of his house until morning… and God will not allow the destroyer to enter into your houses to smite you.” (12:22-23). To be an uncircumcised man is, at this moment, to risk being slain by the forces that God has unleashed.]
Sh’mot 7;19 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their reservoirs of water, that they may become blood; and there will be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.’” 20 So Moses and Aaron did even as the Lord had commanded. And he lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile, in the sight of Phar’oh and in the sight of his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood. 21 The fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. And the blood was through all the land of Egypt.
The signs of Moshe were meant to show the people of Israel to have them believe in God again and believe in him as well. ( Sh’mot 4; 16 Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him. 17 You shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.”)The signs that Moshe is bidden to show to Phar’oh are more than just wonders to evoke awe. ( Sh’mot 7;1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I make you as God to Phar’oh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.)The staff of Aaron becoming the Crocodile and swallowing all the counterfeit crocodiles (representing Phar’oh as seen in Ezekiel) is a direct affront to Phar’oh who has made himself as god, god of what? Phar’oh is (false) god of the Nile. Additionally, the Nile is not just the life source for the area, produce and support for the people, the Nile itself is a (false) god. Furthermore when the Nile’s waters are turned to blood, this is not merely…all the usable water is contaminated and “now we can’t make use of the necessity for physical continuity anymore”.
When the waters of the Nile are changed to blood this is a spiritual statement, “your god has been taken and stabbed and is bleeding out.” Furthermore, the Egyptians who later drown in the sea, when the children of Israel walk through on dry GROUND…are dying in their very belief system. The plagues are meant to fill what God said he would do to those who oppressed Israel. He never says he will punish them, only that they will be “Judged”. To the subjects of Pharaoh who considered throwing the Hebrew babies to their god as a sacrifice, determining…if they live then our god will have judged in their favor, Moshe- the one child who DID survive says with each and every plague “the gods of Egypt are not God”. The voice of this message comes from Hashem is directed not just to the Egyptians and Phar’oh, His people are also meant to learn from them and so are we.
We will pause this lesson here with the promises of redemption God delivers in Parasha Va’era וָאֵרָא – and I appeared. These promises correspond to the Cups of Wine that are partaken of during the Pesach Seder. ( Luke 22;18…do this in remembrance of Me.)
Sh’mot 6:6 “Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 ‘Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8‘I will bring you to the land which swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the LORD.’”9 So Moses spoke thus to the sons of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage.
The Hebrew term in bold above is the following (found only here in all of Tanakh) :
#7115 (Masc.N) kotser קֹצֶר – impatience.
There is an important word left out in the English. This verse could read… they did not shama (hear with understanding) the words of Moshe because of their impatient RUACH.
#7307 (Fem.N) Ruach רוּחַ- breath, wind, breeze, SPIRIT.
First found in B’reshit 1:2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
First found in Sh’mot in our context, the people can’t hear salvation because of their ‘short’ spirit.
Matthew 24; 10-13 At that time many will fall away and will betray and hate one another, 11and many false prophets will arise and mislead many. Because of the multiplication of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.
Let us not lose heart or spirit while we await our redeemer. Let us listen to the voice of the Prophet who spoke with God face to face as a man does with his friend. Let us know that the nothings and false gods of this world will be devoured to ruin. Let us know that there is an end to the pressing of Mitsrayim and God has promised us we are a part of His bride. Without the times of ‘bondage’ in the world the redemption is far less miraculous, or even necessary?! Let our concept of time be woven into the Timeless Eh’yeh Who Is and will always Be with us. In Egypt God forged for himself a Holy Nation and as we will soon see even there they were “set apart”. So may it be for us as well.
Yeshayahu 54; 16“Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals and brings out a weapon for its work; And I have created the destroyer to ruin.17 “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper;and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn.This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD.
resources? : see “My Resources” entry on homepage for links I use to compile these lessons, Kol Kavod L’ Adonai Owlam