"go in "
This week’s we are studying Par’sha Bo, which spans Sh’mot 10.1 through 13.16. It begins with Y’H’V’H’s command for Mosheh to, go into Pharaoh. This doesn’t appear to be a very intimidating command until you consider all that has happened since Mosheh and Aharon returned to Mitsrayim.
The two brothers had first approached Pharaoh with Y’H’V’H’s demand that Pharaoh let His people go so they could celebrate a festival to Him in the wilderness.5.2 Pharaoh had not only refused, claiming he didn’t recognize Y’H’V’H, he told Mosheh and Aharon to get back their burdens5.4. To Pharaoh Mosheh and Aharon were just two more of the Hebrew slaves, but these slaves proved to be a thorn in Pharaoh’s side.
Even though they were slaves in Pharaoh’s eyes, they didn’t behave like slaves. They soon returned to Pharaoh to present proof Y’H’V’H had sent them. Aharon had thrown his staff down and it had turned into a serpent. Pharaoh’s magicians had done the same with their staffs, only to be humiliated before Pharaoh when Aharon’s staff swallowed up their staffs. When Pharaoh saw this, he hardened his heart and wouldn’t listen to Mosheh and Aharon. This set the stage for the series of plagues that were designed to destroy the Mitsrites’ faith in their false gods and set the Hebrew slaves free.
Over the course of the next few weeks or months, the Nile and all the fresh water had been turned to blood, killing all the fish in the river. This destroyed one food source. Then the land had been plagued with frogs. We can only imagine how pleased the people of Mitsrayim were when Pharaoh’s magicians increased the number of frogs in the land instead of getting rid of the ones Y’H’V’H had sent.
Next came the plague of gnats. Once again Pharaoh’s magicians were humiliated when they couldn’t duplicate this plague. Then swarms of animals started running wild through the land. When Pharaoh witnessed what may have seemed to them that some of their gods were running crazy through the land, he sent for Mosheh and Aharon and initially agreed to let them go. This time he asked that Mosheh to pray for him, although the Hebrew text actually reads thad he asked Mosheh to plead for him. (from עתר, to plead.)
Next came a pestilence on the livestock of the Mitsrites, a very grievous pestilence.9.3 This plague killed all the livestock of the Mitsrites, but none of the livestock of the Hebrews were effected. As a result, not only was another food source lost, the ability to work their fields with horses, donkeys or oxen was taken as well.
Then came the sixth plague - boils on man and beast throughout Mitsrayim. Even the magicians were unable to stand, which tells us that Pharaoh’s magicians couldn’t even protect themselves, much less anyone else.
This was followed by hail, thunder and fire which struck every man and beast that was left in the field and every plant and every tree. These were beasts בְּהֵמָה, not livestock מִקְנֶה, which means many of the animals that could have been hunted for food were destroyed plus whatever plants and fruit trees that were growing at the time. Now even more of the food sources for Pharaoh and his people were gone.
After each of these last two plagues, Y’H’V’H had begun hardening Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh and his servants had stood by helplessly and watched as their land was being devastated and now these two servants of Y’H’V’H Elohim were back. These two men, who Pharaoh considered to be his slaves, once again stood before him with Y’H’V’H’s same demands and more warnings of more disasters if Pharaoh refused. Pharaoh could have ordered their arrests and had them put to death at any time. Even so, they just kept coming back before him. Was it courage or faith? Or does faith produce courage?
This time, Mosheh warned Pharaoh that if didn’t let His people go, the locusts would come. Pharaoh refused and the locusts came. When the infestation was finally driven from the land, noting green was left - not on the trees or the plants. The last of Mitsrayim’s food supplies had now been destroyed and it was now that Pharaoh gave Mosheh his confession and his pleas in Sh’mot 10.16-17.
In verse sixteen Pharaoh hastily called for Mosheh and Aharon and confessed, I have sinned against Y’H’V’H your Elohim and against you. Here, after eight devastating plagues, Pharaoh confessed to breaking what the Messiah later described as the two greatest commandments of Torah. You shall love Y’H’V’H your Elohim with all you heart, soul and strength and your neighbor as yourself.Marqos 12.29-31
After the seventh plague Pharaoh had confessed he had sinned, now he confessed he had sinned against Y’H’V’H and Mosheh. It seems Pharaoh never learned the lesson we must all learn and that is that it is never enough to just confess one’s sins; confessions must be accompanied by a turn from sin. In fact, to truly be effective, confessions must be accompanied by a change of heart, not just actions. Pharaoh was still Pharaoh, a god until himself. He never changed his heart.
After his confession, Pharaoh voiced two pleas to Mosheh. First, he asked, please forgive my sin only this once and pray to Y’H’V’H your Elohim, that He would only turn away this death from me. Asking to be forgiven his sin only this once was a sign of defeat, not t’shuvah. In Sh’mot 10.3 Y’H’V’H had asked Pharaoh, till when shall you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Now, with his nation in shambles and his food sources destroyed, Pharaoh still refused to humble himself before Y’H’V’H and save his people. In fact, his prayer was only for himself.
His second plea was for Y’H’V’H to turn away this death from me. Did he refer to this death because he realized the food supply for Mitsrayim had been destroyed or was it because he finally realized the ultimate outcome that awaited those who chose to disobey the Elohim of the Hebrews? Was he finally beginning to realize what his servants already knew, that Mitsrayim was (is) destroyed?10.7
The locusts were followed by three days of a sudden, incredible darkness that effected all the land. There was no light anywhere except in the homes of the Hebrews. After three days, Pharaoh agreed to let the Hebrews go, but demanded they leave their flocks and herds behind. Mosheh told Pharaoh that this was not only unacceptable but that Pharaoh himself would have to provide the slaughterings and ascending offerings they would need. Pharaoh once again changed his mind and refused to let the Hebrews go.
When the tenth plague struck, Y’H’V’H himself weny out into the midst of Mitsrayim and killed all of their firstborn of man and beast, but not in the homes of B’nei Yisrael. But against the children of Yisrael no dog shall move its tongue, against man or beast, so that you know that Y’H’V’H makes a distinction between Mitsrayim and Yisrael.11.7 Even so, it would be more than just the first born of Mitsrayim that would face Y’H’V’H’s judgment that night.
Fourteen days after the new year which now would begin on the new moon of the Aviv1, the Pesach lamb was slaughtered and its blood was used to mark the doorposts and lintels of the Hebrew homes. As Y’H’V’H passed through the midst of Mitsrayim that night, killing the first-born of Mitsrayim, He also executed judgment on all the mighty ones of Mitsrayim.12.12 It became clear to all; neither Pharaoh or all the gods of Mitsrayim could protect or deliver them from the judgment of the Elohim of the Hebrews. As the cries of the Mitsrites filled the night, the Hebrews ate their first Pesach meal and prepared to leave the land of the affliction.
This is the story of the Pesach and our deliverance from Mitsrayim that we are commanded to tell and re-tell to our children and our children’s children. It is a law we and our sons are to guard forever.Sh’mot 12.24 As we get closer to the 14th and 15th of Aviv we will discuss Pesach and the seder in more detail. For now, let’s review the specific laws regarding Pesach in Sh’mot 12.42-49.
It is a night of watches unto Y’H’V’H, for all the children of Yisrael throughout our generations. (watches, from שִׁמֻּרִ֛ים, something to be guarded and observed throughout the night.)
No son of a stranger is to eat of it. Son of a stranger is from ben nokri, the son of a pagan or foreigner who is not part of Yisrael.
Any servant that has been purchased can eat of it once he is circumcised
A sojourner (toshav - one living in the land who has not joined himself to Yisrael) or a hired worker שָׂכִ֖יר does not eat of it.
It is eaten in one house
None of the flesh is to be taken outside of the house nor or we to break one bone of it
All the congregation of Yisrael is to perform the Pesach
When a stranger (a ger, one who is grafting into Yisrael) sojourns with us and performs the Pesach, he and all his males are to be circumcised and he shall be as a native of the land.12.48
No uncircumcised person shall eat of it.
There is to be one Torah for the native-born and for the stranger (ger) who sojourns among you.
These are the commandments of Y’H’V’H we are to follow, not adding to or taking away from them.
Sh’mot 12.27 also carries another important lesson concerning Pesach. When our children ask about the Pesach Seder we are to tell them: It is the Pesach slaughtering of Y’H’V’H, who passed over the houses of the children of Yisrael in Mitsrayim when He smote the Mitsrites and delivered our households. It is important that during our Seder we not only talk about the plagues and the death of the first born, we must also teach our children the deliverance, our redemption, Y’H’V’H performed on our behalf. It wasn’t just about punishing one group, it was also about delivering His people and was a foreshadowing of our redemption through MessiahY’shua.
Pesach is only a few weeks away, but now is the time to start preparing ourselves to observe this appointed time once again. With that, I’ll close with a few thoughts for us to ponder over the days ahead.
Does our faith produce the courage we need to do that which Y’H’V’H calls us to do? Not just in guarding the Pesach and the other appointed times, but in making talmidim of others and warning people of their sins?
Pharaoh considered Mosheh and Aharon to be no more than slaves. He didn’t understand. Today, many people consider those who have the testimony of Messiah Y’shua and have to chosen to guard Elohim’s commandments to be slaves to the old, outdated system of the Old Testament. They don’t understand.
Sometimes when plagues or other troubles come, the people of Y’H’V’H must endure them along with everyone else. Then there are times when Y’H’V’H delivers His people from hard. In either case, we must learn to rejoice, not harden our hearts against Him. As Ya’akov wrote, we must learn to count it all joy when we fall into various trials.1.2
We must ask ourselves is there anything in our lives preventing us from performing complete t’shuvah.
How serious will our observance of Pesach be? Do we really appreciate all Pesach represents?
6 Shevat 5776
16 January 2016
1 Aviv - green heads of grain, V’yikra 2.14