In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Prov.3;6 ב”ה
Sh’mot- Va’era- Bo- A Better Tomorrow 5777
The Torah cycle is broken up into Parashiot or Sedrot, its name is taken from the first distinctive word in the Hebrew text of the portion in question, often from the first verse. The public Torah readings of these parashiot date back to the time of the Babylonian captivity (6th century BCE). Last week’s Parasha Va’era וָאֵרָא (and I appeared) has the numerical value of 7, and how many plagues were ‘revealed’ in Va’era- 7. This week’s parasha is Bo בֹּא (“go” or “come”) has a numerical value of 3 and this section contains the remaining 3 plagues about which we will read. This week, bezrat Hashem בעזרת השם, we will look at the deep issues revolving around the מכות מצרים, Makot Mitzrayim, their purposes and read compassionately with new eyes as if we have never read this before, as if we ourselves are a part of this account.
In truth, we are.
Yirmeyahu 32:17‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You,18 who shows lovingkindness to thousands, but repays the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, O great and mighty God. The LORD of hosts is His name; 19 great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, giving to everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds; 20 who has set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and even to this day both in Israel and among mankind; and You have made a name for Yourself, as at this day. 21‘You brought Your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and with wonders, and with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm and with great terror; 22 and gave them this land, which You swore to their forefathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey.23 ‘They came in and took possession of it, but they did not obey Your voice or walk in Your law; they have done nothing of all that You commanded them to do; therefore You have made all this calamity come upon them.
“There are times when people need serious therapy, medications, times when people are so low they need antidepressants to pull them out, but all that aside for now. What is depression? Something bad happened to me in the past, either in reality or my own perception. I allow the past to impact the present and what happened in the past dominates the present, it controls the present and convinces me that what happened in the past (or what I imagined happened in the past) which I am still suffering from now will continue to impact me in the future. This is psychologically very unhealthy. The healthy individual says, ‘What happened to me yesterday, is yesterday. Tomorrow will be a better day.’ If believe that tomorrow’s a better day, then how do I feel right now? I already feel better. Which means, do we let ourselves be controlled by the past, let it dictate the present and destroy the future? Or do we look at the past and say ‘That was terrible but because the future will be better I will be free from what happened in the past.’” (Rabbi Ari Kahn on Bo http://www.rabbiarikhan.com)
When we start to really think about it, it all comes to the issue of time, a slave ( to be enslaved ) past, present, future are all going to be the same? Their past, present and future have all been the same. Every day’s been the same. Every tomorrow has been the same as yesterday, it’s all they have known. So what difference does it make anyway? One gets stuck in a rut, and you get destroyed. Part of freedom from Egypt will be, “Because tomorrow I will be free…” I believe in that tomorrow, then my present gets transformed. The present tense, instead of being dictated by the past, gets liberated because of the future. Hashem wanted to teach this to the people, they needed to be liberated psychologically. To do this, they need to have faith in the future. This week we read some of the first commandments for the nation of Israel as a whole. (Including the commandment to sanctify the New Moon, the Passover and Unleavened bread feast observances.) The commandment of Matzah is this hope and a future. “You’re going to leave so quickly that your bread won’t even have time to rise. Then you’re to eat it as you go, and when you eat it eat it with marror because you must remember that you’re not slaves anymore, but you know what it was like to have bitterness. You were a slave, now you’re free, walking out of Egypt.” No longer tortured by the confines of time, the past, but to have belief in the future is freedom from Mitsrayim.
- Sh’mot 7; 4 When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments. 5 The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.”… 12 For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said. 14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is stubborn; he refuses to let the people go….. 23 Then Pharaoh turned and went into his house with no concern even for this. 24 So all the Egyptians dug around the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink of the water of the Nile…. 7 The magicians did the same with their secret arts, making frogs come up on the land of Egypt. 8 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, “Entreat the Lord that He …remove the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the Lord.” …13 The Lord did according to the word of Moses, and the frogs died out of the houses, the courts, and the fields. 14 So they piled them in heaps, and the land became foul. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the Lord had said…
- (Read Shm’ot 8;18-32) 25 Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.”…. 28 Pharaoh said, “I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Make supplication for me.” 29 Then Moses said, “Behold, I am going out from you, and I shall make supplication to the Lord that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people tomorrow; only do not let Pharaoh deal deceitfully again in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.” 30 So Moses went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the Lord. 31 The Lord did as Moses asked, and removed …the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants and from his people; not one remained. 32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go.
- Sh’mot 9;1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and speak to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 2 For if you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them, 3 behold, the hand of the Lord will come with a very severe pestilence on your livestock which are in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the herds, and on the flocks…. 6 So the Lord did this thing on the next day, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the sons of Israel, not one died. 7 Pharaoh sent, and behold, there was not even one of the livestock of Israel dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go….8 Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take for yourselves handfuls of soot from a kiln, and let Moses throw it toward the sky in the sight of Pharaoh. … 11 The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils were on the magicians as well as on all the Egyptians. 12 And the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had spoken to Moses….. 15 For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth. 16 But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. 17 Still you exalt yourself against My people by not letting them go….27 Then Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “I have sinned this time; the Lord is the righteous one, and I and my people are the wicked ones. 28 Make supplication to the Lord, for there has been enough of God’s thunder and hail; and I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.” 29 Moses said to him, “As soon as I go out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the Lord; the thunder will cease and there will be hail no longer, that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s. 30 But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the Lord God.”… 33 So Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread out his hands to the Lord; and the thunder and the hail ceased, and rain no longer poured on the earth. 34 But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned again and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not let the sons of Israel go, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses….
- Sh’mot 10;7 Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not realize that Egypt is destroyed?” 8 So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, “Go, serve the Lord your God! Who are the ones that are going?” 9 Moses said, “We shall go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we shall go, for we must hold a feast to the Lord.” 10 Then he said to them, “Thus may the Lord be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go! Take heed, for evil is in your mind. 11 Not so! Go now, the men among you, and serve the Lord, for that is what you desire.” So they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence…. 16 Then Pharaoh hurriedly called for Moses and Aaron, and he said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. 17 Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and make supplication to the Lord your God, that He would only remove this death from me.” 18 He went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the Lord. 19 So the Lord shifted the wind to a very strong west wind which took up the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea; not one locust was left in all the territory of Egypt. 20 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go….23 They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings. 24 Then Pharaoh called to Moses, and said, “Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be detained. Even your little ones may go with you.” 25 But Moses said, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice them to the Lord our God. 26 Therefore, our livestock too shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we shall take some of them to serve the Lord our God. And until we arrive there, we ourselves do not know with what we shall serve the Lord.” 27 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go. 28 Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me! Beware, do not see my face again, for in the day you see my face you shall die!” 29 Moses said, “You are right; I shall never see your face again!”
Was there a roller coaster of emotions for the Hebrews? You can go, you can’t go, you can go, you can’t go, you’re going but first you have to, you are free but we’re not going until morning…For a people who were already so demoralized, having been rendered as subhuman, (unable to relate to a normal functioning family structure, time investment, etc.) the concept of the Passover meal, where they were to come together, stay together, eat together, wait and pray together would have been all the more touching and meaningful. We should be practicing more than a simple reading of these texts. When we read through the plagues we should notice a bigger picture begin to form. Not only is Hashem directly opposing and obliterating the main false god’s of Mitsrayim, displaying His command of physical matter, nature, and perhaps most disturbing to Pharaoh….time. (One might consider, reason and excuse some of these phenomenon as coincidences or accidents but when God exerts His command of time this is a power which intimidates Pharaoh. Ex. Moshe asks Pharaoh ‘when shall I ask God to remove the frogs’ ,“tomorrow’ the swarms will be removed, at ‘midnight’ ) Over these passages we see Mitsrayim slowly become dismantled. There are several purpose of the plagues. They are meant to Judge Egypt, they are a form of justice (you caused suffering, you will thus suffer.) They are meant to make this powerhouse that is Egypt economically suffer (you enslaved, now you suffer economically). They are to teach a lesson to God’s people about His power and also to awaken the assimilated Jews to come out of the Egypt system (which was crumbling around them.) They also promote the breakdown of the Pyramid. The pyramid with Pharaoh on top and everyone else underneath, Pharaoh a self proclaimed god is rendered ineffectual and powerless. The passages above show the disintegration of Pharaoh’s control, the pyramid is broken and the advisors are commanding Pharaoh. “Send out the men!” Additionally Moshe, an ‘abhorrent Hebrew’, is boldly challenging Pharaoh and retorting without a hint of fear.
“ We all shall go! You shan’t see my face again!” Pharaoh has lost control.
# 6381 (v) Pala פָּלָא – to make singular, distinguished, to be great, extraordinary, to be wonderful, to consecrate, to exert ones strength. ( only occurrences:1 Ber, 2 Sh’mot, and I have given an example from Bem. and Dev. to show contextual variances in definition.)
- B’reshit 18:14 “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
- Sh’mot 3:20 “So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go.
- Sh’mot 34:10 Then God said, “Behold, I am going to make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform miracles which have not been produced in all the earth nor among any of the nations; and all the people among whom you live will see the working of the LORD, for it is a fearful thing that I am going to perform with you. [context: when the HASHEM passed by in front of him (Moshe) revealing his attributes of mercy.
– side note: #5674 avar עָבַר- pass over, pass through, pass by quickly, vanish, to pass by sin, forgive, to go beyond, to enter. This word is found in the preceding context- “pass by” and in the following….Sh’mot 12:12
‘For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the LORD….Sh’mot 12:23 “For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you. The underlined term is a different word Pasach פָּסַח, we may look at later, bezrat Hashem]
- Bemidbar 6:2 “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the LORD…
- Devarim 30:11 “For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach.
We are looking at some different words which relate to a concept which should greatly encourage us. God has designed for His people to be set apart. To be holy and separate for His service. In these cases this separation is meant to display the difference between those who are protected by Hashem and reside in His shelter, under His wings and those who shake their fist in the face of God (Those who rely and remain allied with evil and evil men.) To teach a lesson about the Creator for those who rely on the ‘nothings’/idols. To teach a lesson about Adonai, Master for those who are learning more about Him, firsthand…versus what they knew from their father’s experiences with Him. There is a time in life when displaying the love and compassion of Yeshua Messiah, which is meant for all creation, is applicable. Then there is a time when the line between right and wrong (biblical standard) becomes blurred, crossed over, and even ‘whitewashed’. If this is allowed to take place then we not only will be unable to see the line any longer…but the map to where the line was drawn to begin with gets thrown in a pile, misplaced and eventually burned as fodder in the fires of our own concepts of righteousness. Keep in mind the loving and gracious Messiah is also the author of the Torah- instruction of the Lord. There is a lot in His word about mingling and mixing of seeds, garments, peoples, most certainly for those who have His Name ‘declared upon them.’ In Egypt God Himself makes the distinction and the plagues, for the most part, do not effect his people or the place they were dwelling-Goshen.
#6395 (v) Palah פָּלָה – to separate, distinguish, to make distinguished or illustrious.
- Sh’mot 8:22 “But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, the LORD, am in the midst of the land.
- Sh’mot 9;4 “But the LORD will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing will die of all that belongs to the sons of Israel.”’”
- Sh’mot 11:4 Moses said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, 5 and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well.6 ‘Moreover, there shall be a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as there has not been before and such as shall never be again.11:7 ‘But against any of the sons of Israel a dog will not even bark, whether against man or beast, that you may understand how the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.
- Sh’mot 33;16 “For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?”
- Tehillim 4:3 But know that the LORD has set apart the godly man for Himself; the LORD hears when I call to Him.
- Tehillim 17;7 Wondrously show Your lovingkindness, O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right hand from those who rise up against them.
- Tehilllim 139:14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.
#7304 (v) ravach רָוַח- to be spacious, ample, loose, airy. (only occurrences in Tanakh:)
- 1Sh’muel 16:23 So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him.
- Job 32:20 “Let me speak that I may get relief; Let me open my lips and answer.
- Yirmeyahu 22; 1-16 (read for context) 13 “Woe to him who builds his house without righteousness and his upper rooms without justice, who uses his neighbor’s services without pay and does not give him his wages, 14 who says, ‘I will build myself a roomy house with spacious upper rooms, and cut out its windows, paneling it with cedar and… …painting it bright red.’15 “Do you become a king because you are competing in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him.16 “He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me?” Declares the LORD.
#7305 (masc n) revach רֶוַח – space, relaxation.(Found only in Tanakh in the following contexts )
word related to ruach- breath, wind, spirit.
- B’reshit 32:16 He delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on before me, and put a space between droves.”
- Sh’mot 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the LORD had said.
- Esther 4:14 “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”
- Eicha 3:56 You have heard my voice, “Do not hide Your ear from my prayer for relief, From my cry for help.”
So often when we have comfort and peace, when everything is going well with us we tend to pull back from the constant supplication and evident driving need, the yearning for Hashem (which often comes from within times of trial, struggle and pain.) In hardship we tend to identify with our human frailty and become more aware of our ultimate ‘helplessness’. We either reach out for our Shield, Savior, and Helper or plunge deeper into darkness and depression- a place where evil can prey upon our weakness and despair. When relief comes one can tend to slip back into the complacence of comfort and again forge an apparent distance from Hashem. The truth is that He is never far, He only waits for us to acknowledge Him. When we are suffering it is common to say things, bargain, promise even make vows to Hashem. Pharaoh did this very thing, made promises and then once relief was accomplished he went back on his words. He even rebelled further. When our prayers are answered we have the choice to be like Pharaoh, or be continually grateful that we were given relief, what’s more…our awe and fear (reverence) should be increased and thankfulness expounded.
#5668 (conj. prep.) avuwr עֲבוּר – for, while, because, because of, in order that. (All contexts for the book of Sh’mot:)
– When we are reading the bible and the author comes right out and says, “This is the meaning”, “What we are saying is”, “For this reason” or “This is why”….we should pay close attention. There are many questions we could ask about these Parashiot. What was the purpose for the plagues? Did God really need 10 plagues?
Was the purpose of the plagues to ‘take them out’?
- Sh’mot 9:13 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.14 “For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth.
- Sh’mot 9:14 “For this time I will send all My plagues on you [ לִבְּךָ֔ your heart] and your servants and your people, so that you may know ( תֵּדַ֔ע – form of Yada) that there is no one like Me in all the earth.
- Sh’mot 9:16 “But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth.
- Sh’mot 13:8 “You shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’
- Sh’mot 19:9 The LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever.” Then Moses told the words of the people to the LORD.
- Sh’mot 20:20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.”
In this complete context list for avuwr עֲבוּר we see an account of God’s “reasons”. All men are made in the image of God, we all house a holy spark of Hashem, this spark is either growing and shining out into His world or becomes buried deeper and deeper. If we, as examples of what God has called ‘set apart for Him’, are to reach people who are dwelling in darkness and deluded by deception….what logic is behind mimicking, tolerating, encouraging, supporting or condoning these wayward lifestyles? Will our permission and acceptance inspire them to see the error in their ways and bring them to the repentance we all should practice? Let us take Hashem’s example and make it our own. In the case of Egypt, there will be a time appointed for their restoration and repentance. In that day they will be as part of the family of Hashem.But this tikun doesn’t come without discipline, judgment, and reproof.
Yeshayahu 19; 22The LORD will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the LORD, and He will respond to them and will heal them. 23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. 24 In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”
#1644 (v) garash גָּרַשׁ – to expel, to put away, to divorce, to plunder, to spoil, to drive, to pasture, to be carried off, to be agitated (as the sea).
- B’reshit 3:24 So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.
- B’reshit 4:14 “Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
- B’reshit 21:10 Therefore she said to Abraham, “Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac.”
- Sh’mot 2:17 Then the shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and helped them and watered their flock.
- Sh’mot 6:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, an under compulsion he will drive them out of his land.”
- Sh’mot 10:11 “Not so! Go now, the men among you, and serve the LORD, for that is what you desire.” So they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.
- Sh’mot 11:1 Now the LORD said to Moses, “One more plague I will bring on Pharaoh and on Egypt; after that he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will surely drive you out from here completely.
- Sh’mot 12:39 They baked the dough which they had brought out of Egypt into cakes of unleavened bread. For it had not become leavened, since they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay, nor had the prepared any provisions for themselves.
(The preceding occurrences of garash are in order, there are several more in the context of promises regarding conquest of Cana’an, how God will drive out the enemies of his people, ex. Dev. 33:27 “The eternal God is a dwelling place, underneath are the everlasting arms; He drove out the enemy from before you,and said, ‘Destroy!’
-We will continue with occurrences in a different but FASCINATING context. How can we relate the concept of divorce with any of the passages we have read thus far? I see this as highly significant. Adam and Chavah were “put out” of the garden, having broken their vows to Hashem. Sarah seems to be asking this very thing of Avraham, “divorce this woman” and send her out. We have contexts of Egypt ‘divorcing’ the children of Israel. Sending her away. This point is not lost on us if we realize that the very purpose for their liberation is that they go to Sinai and be taken by Hashem as His Bride, and married at Mount Sinai.
These definitions may NOT be used interchangeably but we may be able to relate them and consider this idea.
- Vayikra 21:7 ‘They shall not take a woman who is profaned by harlotry, nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband; for he is holy to his God….14 ‘A widow, or a divorced woman, or one who is profaned by harlotry, these he may not take; but rather he is to marry a virgin of his own people….
- Vayikra 22:13 ‘But if a priest’s daughter becomes a widow or divorced, and has no child and returns to her father’s house as in her youth, she shall eat of her father’s food; but no layman shall eat of it.
- B’midbar 30:9 “But the vow of a widow or of a divorced woman, everything by which she has bound herself, shall stand against her.
Let us go back to a time when Egypt itself was in the hand of Yosef and the God of Yosef- Hashem. At the time when Yosef took a stand, as we discussed, to request of Pharaoh something which would not at all ‘look good’ in the sight of the nation. The burial of the ‘royal family’ outside of Egypt, in the Land of Cana’an. When Yosef requests that Pharaoh let them go to bury Ya’acov take a look at who and what would be remaining behind in Mitsrayim. This was a gesture to Pharaoh that indeed they would be returning.
B’reshit 15; 7 So Yosef went up to bury his father, and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 8 and all the household of Yosef and his brothers and his father’s household; they left only their little ones and their flocks and their herds in the land of Goshen. 9 There also went up with him both chariots and horsemen; and it was a very great company.
Now, Moshe stands before Pharaoh and is (I believe) making reference to this, Moshe is making a statement. Pharaoh’s response is imbued with fear, insecurity and also obstinance.
Sh’mot 11; 8 So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, “Go, serve the LORD your God! Who are the ones that are going?” 9 Moses said, “We shall go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we shall go, for we must hold a feast to the LORD.” 10 Then he said to them, “Thus may the LORD be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go! Take heed, for evil is in your mind.
Again it should be noted Moshe’s Phar’oh once boldly declared: “Who is the LORD (YHVH) that I should obey (shama) His voice to let Israel go (shlach- send out)? I do not know the LORD (YHVH), and besides, I will not let Israel go (shlach- send out).” (Sh’mot 5;2) Yosef’s influence in Egypt was that his Pharaoh did immediately uses God’s name (acknowledging Him) when he noted the goodness, the Godly spark, in Yosef. Yosef was able to maintain his moral integrity (as defined by his walk with Hashem) in the place of pressing and was also able to influence his community and the foreign nation surrounding. Moshe’s Phar’oh did not respond to God’s nudges and proving. Moshe’s Phar’oh did indeed come to acknowledge Hashem after much suffering and reproof, and as much as Hashem pursued his repentance, Moshe’s Pharaoh did not make a heart change.
Yeshayahu 45; 5“I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God.I will gird you, though you have not known Me; 6 That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me.I am the LORD, and there is no other,7 The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity;I am the LORD who does all these.14 Thus says the LORD,“The products of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush and the Sabeans, men of stature,Will come over to you and will be yours;They will walk behind you, they will come over in chains and will bow down to you;They will make supplication to you: ‘Surely, God is with you, there is none else, No other God.’
Sh’mot 10:11 “Not so! Go now, the men (gibbur- strong ones) among you, and serve the LORD (YHVH), for that is what you desire.” So they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence (panyim).
#5680 (adj./proper Noun) Ivriy עִבְרִי – Hebrew.
Following Ivriy עִבְרִי from its first occurrence gives us some more insight into how the “Hebrews” were viewed by the Egyptians. For our current purposes we’re going to look at the message from God to Pharaoh and the request Moshe is told to make. Follow Ivriy and see how this message changes, then we will discuss more the possible reasons behind the ‘request’.
- Sh’mot 3:18 “They will pay heed to what you say; and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt and you will say 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 5:3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God, otherwise He will fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.” (The “they” in this verse is Moshe and Aaron, there is no indication in the text that the elders of Israel have come with them as commanded.”)
- Sh’mot 7:16 “You shall say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness. But behold, you have not listened until now.”
- Sh’mot 9:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and speak to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.
- Sh’mot 9:13 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.
- Sh’mot 10:3 Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me.
- Sh’mot 21:2 “If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment.
- Devarim 15:12 “If your kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, then he shall serve you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free.
Did God need 10 plagues? If God was manipulating Phar’oh’s freewill, in reality He could have just caused him to release the Hebrews right off the bat. Many have asked the question, “Wasn’t it deceptive to ask for a three day reprieve?” From the passages above we can clearly see several things. Does the text ever say, let us go “AND WE WILL RETURN”? The purpose of their trip will be to serve Hashem, this is indeed their appointed purpose. Another, difficult to ‘take’, explanation may be that God didn’t express, “We’re going to erets Yisrael…” because the Exodus generation (save Calev and Y’hoshua) would never see the Land. (Another point: after the plagues, Pharaoh says, “Go and worship Hashem,” but then he and is whole army with chariots chase them down and try to kill them. At this point all “deals are off.) There is a progression in these texts, first “please let…” “the Lord has sent me to YOU, let…” “thus says the Lord, let…” “thus says the Lord, how long will you refuse to be humbled, let…” Additionally God’s system for bond slaves has always included a cap, a limit on their period of service. Therefore we see in the final two contexts how God’s design has differed from that of Phar’oh. In the Sh’mittah (a Shabbat for the land and those who work it) all bond slaves are released, unlike Egypt where there was no compassion or rest. Now we must ask ourselves why they are being liberated? What is the purpose of the Hebrews leaving Egypt? Is it for freedom? That they no longer be enslaved?
Devarim 5; 13 ‘Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15′You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.…
As we go through the Hebrew bible and these Torah texts, try and take note of how many of the commandments (mitzvot) are in connection to having experienced and then leaving or being taken out of Egypt. These, you will find, are numerous and from this we learn a lesson. The purpose of the plagues is to teach a lesson to the nations and to His nation Israel. These lessons are for then, now and for the future. The Children of Israel are being taken out for one purpose. To go to Sinai and ‘recieve’ the Torah (which is never separate from the ensuing, taking of that instruction and bringing it with them into the world, their lives, to the nations.) For the commandments they are to recieve to mean anything to them the people HAD TO INTIMATELY EXPERIENCE THE POSITION WITH WHICH TO IDENTIFY.
What would it mean to observe the Sabbath to someone who never had to work seven days a week,
to someone whose time was disposable and completely ‘their own’?
What would it mean to intentionally differentiate between clean and unclean foods to someone who had never hungered, who had been pampered and catered to…what value would it be? What sense of compassion and justice would the command to treat a bond slave with dignity (providing even for their bed, clothing, food and being forbidden to abuse them) be felt by someone who had never seen (and experienced) things from that station? The Torah commandments elaborated and set in stone at Sinai would be fleeting and perhaps even unreasonable to the Hebrews had they not gone through Mitsrayim and witnessed the plagues. After experiencing Mitstrayim, coming to Sinai…The Commandment becomes part of our makeup. The commandment becomes a moral imperative. To fill the commandments in Torah becomes, because you WERE slaves in Egypt. In more ways than one, you have to go through Egypt to get to Sinai.
Ezekiel 36; 22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
Yeshayahu 19; 1The oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to Egypt; The idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence, And the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them. 2“So I will incite Egyptians against Egyptians; And they will each fight against his brother and each against his neighbor, City against city and kingdom against kingdom. 3“Then the spirit of the Egyptians will be demoralized within them; And I will confound their strategy, So that they will resort to idols and ghosts of the dead And to mediums and spiritists. 4“Moreover, I will deliver the Egyptians into the hand of a cruel master, a mighty king will rule over them,” declares the Lord GOD of hosts.
The text above recalls the terror of Egypt. It expounds for us some of what the people have witnessed and what the Egyptians have experienced. Everything the pagan people have relied upon is literally burning down around them, and in the palace their stubborn king grasps his ego and threadbare legacy with iron claws.
Let us attempt to evaluate Pharaoh’s heart and the issue of freewill.
B’reshit 6;5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Matthew 15; 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander.
Yirmeyahu 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
Ezekiel 18:30-32 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”
Yirmeyahu 24;7 ’I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.
James 1:13-16 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.
Sh’mot 10:3 Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me.
When looking at the texts regarding Pharaoh’s heart, we need to understand that there are two terms being used. One, when Pharaoh is ‘hardening’ his heart. And another when God ‘hardens’ his heart. We may have commonly understood that God is making Pharaoh behave in a certain way by ‘hardening’ his heart, thus removing the essential human quality of free will. Let us look at the Hebrew terms:
Sh’mot 9;12/10;20,27/11;10/14;8 וַיְחַזֵּ֤ק יְהוָה֙ אֶת And the LORD hardened (Pharaoh’s heart)
#2388 (v) Chazak חָזַק – to make firm, to strengthen, to confirm, to become strong, to be obstinate, to take hold of.
- B’reshit 21:18 “Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him.”
- B’reshit 48:2 When it was told to Jacob, “Behold, your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel collected his strength and sat up in the bed.
- Lev 25:35 ‘Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you.
- Bemidbar 13:20 “How is the land, is it fat or lean? Are there trees in it or not? Make an effort then to get some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes.
- Devarim 1:38 ‘Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter there; encourage him, for he will cause Israel to inherit it.
- Devarim 11:8 “You shall therefore keep every commandment which I am commanding you today, so that you may be strong and go in and possess the land into which you are about to cross to possess it
– A better concept of God’s ‘hardening’ of Phar’oh’s heart could be that He is strengthening it. Sustaining Phar’oh’s heart in order to allow him to continue on his own path- to stay proud, maniacal, self serving. It is more that God is saying, this is what your heart really wants, I am going to give it to you. Why? “I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” Why? So that they could all perish? That is not the God I know. “Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. ” Acts 8; 22 Additionally we must remember God was deliberately and systematically exposing the false gods and pagan practices of Egypt and her like as pure folly. In order that all people, for all time, when studying these plagues would learn from Phar’oh’s choices and the consequences of them. God saw Pha’roh’s heart. God knew His man. God knows the heart of every man.
Sh’mot 8;15,32/9;7,34/10;1 וַיַּכְבֵּ֥ד לִבּ֖וֹ ה֥וּא and hardened his heart (Phar’oh)
#3513 (v) kavad כָּבַד – to be heavy, to be honored, great, vehement, plentiful, troublesome, burdensome,
to harden, to boast oneself.
Some of the varying contexts of Kavad will shed light as to what Pharaoh is doing to his heart. I believe it all has to do with self-glorification, pride, ego. A very powerfully deluding force.
- Devarim 28:58 “If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, the LORD your God,59 then the LORD will bring extraordinary plagues on you and your descendants, even severe and lasting plagues, and miserable and chronic sicknesses. 60 “He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt of which you were afraid, and they will cling to you.
- Sh’mot 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
- B’reshit 18:20 And the LORD said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.
- Sh’mot 5:9 “Let the labor be heavier on the men, and let them work at it so that they will pay no attention to false words.”
- Sh’mot 10:1Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for * I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may perform these signs of Mine among them (qereb-inward parts ),2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son, and of your grandson, how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I performed My signs among them, that you may know (yada) that I am the LORD.”
– This text is the only place where God’s ‘hardening’ is the same ( kabad ) as Phar’oh’s. This is at the outset of Parasha Bo, at the outset of the final three plagues. All plagues of Bo are connected to darkness, this last round is an affront to the pagan Egyptian false god of the sun-Ra (whose name mean evil in Hebrew):
- Sh’mot 10:15 For they (Locust אַרְבֶּה) covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every plant of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Thus nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field through all the land of Egypt.
- Sh’mot 10:21Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. 23 They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings.
- Sh’mot 12:29 Now it came about at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle. 30 Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead.
-The reality is that the immensity and enormity of the plagues, the dominion over time, space, nature and matter they displayed…the plagues alone would have in effect been the dominion over Phar’oh’s free will. What choice would Phar’oh feel that he had over such a force? What chance would he feel he stood against such power? Therefore, one way to look at it is that the “strengthening” of Phar’oh’s heart by God was actually giving him free will. It was giving Pharaoh the will to choose, his choices were ego led. His choices led to the destruction of his empire.
Yirmeyahu 46; 20 “Egypt is a pretty heifer, But a horsefly is coming from the north—it is coming!21“Also her mercenaries in her midst Are like fattened calves,For even they too have turned back and have fled away together; They did not stand their ground. For the day of their calamity has come upon them,The time of their punishment. 22“Its sound moves along like a serpent; for they move on like an army and come to her as woodcutters with axes. 23“They have cut down her forest,” declares the LORD;“Surely it will no more be found, Even though they are now more numerous than locusts and are without number.24“The daughter of Egypt has been put to shame, Given over to the power of the people of the north.” 25The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, says, “Behold, I am going to punish Amon of Thebes, and Pharaoh, and Egypt along with her gods and her kings, even Pharaoh and those who trust in him. 26“I shall give them over to the power of those who are seeking their lives, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of his officers. Afterwards, however, it will be inhabited as in the days of old,” declares the LORD.
When do the people become free? Which plague takes them out? If we look it is clear that after the plague of the firstborn, Phar’oh releases them and it is night. It is dark. Yet Hashem has commanded the people to stay put all night. Why stay a minute longer? Part of the extensive, ‘long’ Pesach commandments was to “stay inside all night ”. This is intentional, the people are not going to be sneaking out under cloak of darkness. They will leave in broad daylight, according to the command of their Master, ADONAI. In the ‘face’ of the false sun god Ra, whose dominion was the day.
They’re free at night, but Moshe takes them out in the morning.
- Sh’mot 12:22 “You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning. 23 “For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you.
Sh’mot 12:30 Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead. 31 Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, “Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go,worship the LORD, as you have said. 32“Take both your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and go, and bless me also.”
33 The Egyptians urged the people, to send them out of the land in haste, for they said, “We will all be dead.”
#2676 (Fem.N) chatsowt חָצוֹת – middle. ( from the root #2673 (v) chatsah חָצָה -to divide, to halve. Ya’acov divided his camp in preparation for the face to face with Esav, mitzvah to equally divide the profit made from an ox who was hurt and died, Moshe divided booty for those who went out to battle,etc. The only 3 occurrences in Tanakh: )
- Sh’mot 11:4 Moses said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt…
- Tehillim 119: 59 I considered my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies. 60 I hastened and did not delay to keep Your commandments. 61 The cords of the wicked have encircled me, but I have not forgotten Your Torah. 62 At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You because of Your righteous ordinances. 63 I am a companion of all those who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts.
- Job 34; 10-30 (read for context) 20 “In a moment they die, and at midnight people are shaken and pass away, and the mighty are taken away without a hand. 21 “For His eyes are upon the ways of a man, and He sees all his steps. 22 “There is no darkness or deep shadow where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves. 23 “For He does not need to consider a man further, that he should go before God in judgment. 24 “He breaks in pieces mighty men without inquiry, and sets others in their place. 25 “Therefore He knows their works, and He overthrows them in the night, and they are crushed. 26 “He strikes them like the wicked in a public place, 27 because they turned aside from following Him, and had no regard for any of His ways; 28 So that they caused the cry of the poor to come to Him, and that He might hear the cry of the afflicted—29 When He keeps quiet, who then can condemn? And when He hides His face, who then can behold Him, that is, in regard to both nation and man?—30 So that godless men would not rule nor be snares of the people.
The 10th plague is the first plague specified at the very beginning of Moshe’s mission in Mitsrayim, it is the plague that ‘takes them out’, and is the only plague that God performs ‘exclusively’ (there is no, lift up your staff, or strike this, or any involvement of Aaron or Moshe ‘doing’ anything). God says “I will kill, I will strike, I will go…”
- Sh’mot 4:21 The LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22
“Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 “So I said to you, ‘LetMy son go that he may serve Me’; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.”
Again, Pharaoh and Egypt are warned. They are told precisely what will take place. Because we know the mixed multitude that was with the Hebrews when they left Egypt included some Egyptians we can assume that they were either not a firstborn or that they did undergo circumcision and took part in the Pesach meal. This would have to include (real at least at that time, if not lasting) a heart change and attachment to Hashem of some sort. The blood itself was not some protective charm, indeed it is discussed that the blood may have actually been placed inside the homes so that the people could look upon the ‘covenant’ and really take in what was going on outside and how God was protecting them inside.
For unlike a common understanding, the Lord passed over the door to come inside
to dwell with His people and protect them as the destroying ‘angel’ did as he was commanded.
- Sh’mot 11:3-10 The LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Furthermore, the man Moses himself was greatly esteemed in the land of Egypt, both in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people. 4 Moses said, “Thus says the Lord… all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well. 6 Moreover, there shall be a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as there has not been before and such as shall never be again. 7 But against any of the sons of Israel a dog will not even bark,…that you may understand how the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’ 8 All these your servants will come down to me and bow themselves before me, saying, ‘Go out, you and all the people who follow you,’ and after that I will go out.” And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger. 9 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that My wonders will be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” 10 Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh; yet the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go out of his land.
In parasha Bo, we recieve the ‘first’ commandment given to the nation as a whole. This is the commandment of the sanctification of the New Moon, Rosh Chodesh. This commandment would allow them to mark and remember the seasons by using the luminaries God created for the explicit purpose of guarding and observing His moadim (set times, feasts and sabbaths.) In the beginning: God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons וּלְמֹועֲדִים and for days and years…B’reshit.1;14
Sh’mot 12; (read 1-13 for context) 2 “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you….11 Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the Lord’s Passover. 12 For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
B’reshit represents the beginning of time. With Rosh Chodesh, “Torah Time” is introduced. Slaves have no sense of time- their time is not their own. But as free people, they will now be able to dedicate, allocate and determine their own time. This is why this commandment, and soon after their exodus, the commandment of Shabbat become essential to their reconstitution as redeemed souls. They now have the choice to declare through their lives, their work and their rest
Whose order and sense of value in all aspects of life they will be submissive to.
Matthew 11; 28 Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
As we journey into Sh’mot, leaving Mitsrayim toward Sinai and the Land of Promise with these people I want us to remember what they have endured. To recall the depth of the damage and trauma they have undergone. This by no means will excuse some of the subsequent offenses, indeed I feel we may shift our focus from their outrages toward God’s mercies and long-suffering patience. Yet, let us be compassionate and try to identify with their past, which we are about to move on from (Egypt), as we look forward to the future. Let us, with them, believe that tomorrow’s a better day. God did this for them, when He tenderly, splendidly paints for them the reason to believe in tomorrow. In the midst of the giving of ‘laws’ (as we so often find in Torah) we catch a underlying message, hope, and beautiful glimpse at the heart of our King.: I will be your Instructor forever, you will have children, there will be a future, they will enter the land of promise
and when you do these things I ask you, you will be doing them with your families!
Sh’mot 12;24 And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. 25 When you enter the land which the Lord will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.’” And the people bowed low and worshiped.
God is Master of time and He is with you at every time, through every season. When God says forever, He means forever. Not only when we are at our best, perhaps especially when things seem the worst. We have a forever covenant that there is a land of promise for us. There is a rest appointed for us on a day that is all shabbat. We will enjoy it with our families. Whether that be physical children, or adopted parents, the memories of those we have lost whom are always with us, or friendships dear and deep as blood.
We will be together, today be blessed with faith in the future as we journey toward it together.
So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For whoever enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following the same pattern of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow.It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
(Hebrews 4; 9-12)
Resources: See homepage and My Resources entry for a complete list of links to resources I use to put together these posts.