"and I appeared"
Our par’sha this week is V’era, which means and I appeared. In the second verse Elohim tells Mosheh that in the past He had appeared to Avraham, to Yits’chaq and to Ya’akov as El Shaddai but that they had also known Him by His Name Y-H-V-H, representing His attribute of mercy. (Most English translations have mistranslated this passage.)
Par’sha V’era spans Sh’mot 6.2 through 9.35. It covers a variety of topics before concluding with the first seven of the ten plagues Y-H-V-H sent against Pharaoh and Mitsrayim as He prepared to deliver the Hebrews.
This par’sha also seems answers a question that seems to goes unanswered in T’hillim 95. Melek Da’vid began this psalm by inviting us to sing praises to Y-H-V-H, the Rock of our deliverance. He reminds us to come before His face with thanksgiving, for He is a great El and a great Sovereign above all mighty ones. He continues, calling on us to bow down and bend low, and kneel before Y-H-V-H our Maker, for He is our Elohim and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. Reading this I realize that we have a exceptional opportunity today. We can voluntarily bow our knee before Him and accept Him as Sovereign over our lives, or we can wait for the day to come when He has sworn that every knee will bow before Him.Yeshayahu 45.23
Melek Da’vid continued with words of caution as well. He wrote, Today, if you would hear His Voice, do not harden your hearts as in Mariah, and as in the day of Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers tried Me, have proved Me, though they saw My work. All too often today we witness people hardening their hearts against His Voice. They choose not to guard some of His commandments, electing to hold fast to the teachings of men instead. For us, we must be careful that in our zealousness to teach others to guard even the least of His commandments we do become guilty of breaking other commandments, such as representing traditions as commandments or neglecting to love our neighbors as ourselves. This happened to our forefathers and it happened more than once.
After the Exodus Isra’el forgot some of the commandments that they had just been given at Mount Sinai. They either worshipped a golden calf or allowed others to worship it without interceding to stop them. They listened as ten men demoralized an entire nation, claiming they were unable to go in and take the Land as Y-H-V-H had promised. Melek Da’vid reminds us of this fact as he continues his psalm. For forty years Yah was grieved with that generation and said, ‘they are a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know My ways.’
T’hillim 95 doesn’t really end. Melek Da’vid closed this psalm with an incomplete sentence. Y-H-V-H said, “As I swore in My wrath, ‘If they enter into My rest…’”, but then doesn’t tell us what happens if we do enter into His rest. I believe this week’s par’sha answers that question.
In the opening verses of Par’sha V’era, Y-H-V-H establishes some principles we should never forget. He appeared to Avraham, Yits’chaq and Ya’akov. Appeared is form the shoresh ראה, which means to see and to understand. The patriarchs of our faith not only saw Y-H-V-H, they knew Him and understood Him. They knew His Word and His Ways and they guarded His charge. They knew Him as El Shaddai, meaning they knew and trusted that He would supply all of their needs, whatever those needs might be. But even more, they knew His mercy and His grace. They knew Him as Y-H-V-H as well El Shaddai. We can have this same relationship with Him today. We can walk in such a relationship with Him that we know He will provide for all of our needs and we can know His mercy and grace as well.
In verse four Yah reminded Mosheh that He had established His covenant with Avraham, Yitz’chaq and Ya’akov, to give them the land of Kena’an . This was the land that eventually became known as the Land of Isra’el - and that covenant included their seed: not just their physical descendants, but their seed as well. Seed, translated from zera זרע, and in this context refers to those who graft into the people of Isra’el and produce the same kind of fruit as our patriarchs produced: love, faith, trust and obedience to Y-H-V-H our Elohim. Today, if you have chosen to become a part of Isra’el - Avraham’s seed - and you have the testimony of Y’hoshua as Messiah and you guard our Father’s commandments, then you are part of this covenant. Sha’ul of Tarsus recognized this truth and wrote in one of his letters, Know, then, that those who are of belief are sons of Avraham.Gal.3.7 And if you are of Messiah, then you are seed of Avraham, and heirs according to the promise.Gal.3.29 Being part of this covenant means you are also heirs to the promises given to Avraham and his seed as well. Some of those promises are outlined in this week’s par’sha and though they were given specifically to that generation, their principles remain intact and extend to us today.
In chapter six, verse five, Yah told Mosheh that He had heard the groaning of the children of Isra’el whom the Mitsrites were enslaving, and He had remembered His covenant. It is important, I think, to note that Yah had heard the groaning of B’nei Isra’el, not their murmuring and complaining. Groaning is from the phrase את־נַאֲקַת, from the shoresh נאק, that means to groan as in to call for help. It gives the impression of someone who has recognized their disobedience has resulted in their troubles - they aren’t blaming someone else for their troubles - and is calling out for help. Yah heard Isra’el’s groaning - as He will hear ours today. Unfortunately, He also hears when we murmur and complain, which is far different - and brings far different results.
complain is from mit’on’nim מִתְאֹנְנִים, from אנן, and means to mourn loss. It is used in B’midbar 11.1; And it came to be, when the people were as complainers, it was evil in the ears of Y-H-V-H. This type of complaining is self-serving in that the one complaining seems to be blaming someone else for their troubles.
murmur is from e’ha’meh אֶהֲמֶה, from המה, and means to agitate, to make a noise, once again with the impression of blaming someone else for your troubles.
Yah responds with deliverance for those groaning under pressure while murmuring and complaining is evil in His ears.
When Isra’el groaned under the weight of their servitude, Yah responded by remembering His covenant with Avraham and his seed. It wasn’t as if Yah had forgotten His covenant; He was simply waiting until His people called out to Him with the right heart. When they did, Yah responded with several promises.
He began by reminding His children Who He is: Y-H-V-H; the Elohim who had appeared to Avraham, Yitz’chaq and Ya’akov - the Elohim their fathers had trusted in and the Elohim who had never failed them. Now He promised Isra’el:
He would bring them out from under the burdens of the Mitsrites
He would deliver them from their enslavement
He would redeem them - with an outstretched arm and great judgments
He would take them as His people and He would be their Elohim and they would know it was Him doing all of this.
He would bring them into the land which He had sworn to give to Avraham, Yitz’chaq and Ya’akov. AND
this land would be their inheritance - forever.
What we sometimes tend to forget is that this was not new information for B’nei Isra’el. They were already award of these promises.
Yah had already told Avraham that his seed would be sojourners in a land that was not theirs
He had already told Avraham his seed would serve the people of that land, who would afflict them for four hundred years
He had already told Avraham that at the end of that time He would judge that nation and that
his seed would come out of that land with great possessions.B’reshith 15.13-14
Years later Yoseph had told his brothers that Elohim had sent him into Mitsrayim to preserve for them a remnant in the earth and to give life to them by a great escapeB’reshith 45.7 and that when they were delivered, they were to take his bones with them back into the Land of their inheritance.Breshith 50.25 So now, approximately four hundred years later, as Isra’el listened as Mosheh related Y-H-V-H’s promises to them, they didn’t listen to him. They had heard it all before. They had waited year after year for this promised deliverance, and yet they were still suffering under the cruel taskmasters of Mitsrayim. Mosheh wrote that they didn’t listen to him because of the hard slavery they were enduring and their shortness of spirit.Sh’mot 6.9
Shortness of spirit is from the Hebrew phrase mi’qo’tser ruach מִקֹצֵר רוּחַ - from the shoresh קצר. This same shoresh is used in B’midbar 21.4 to explain that the children of Isra’el became impatient - תִקצַר - at the journey around the land of Edom. B’nei Isra’el didn’t listen to Mosheh because their sufferings had made them lose their patience. They had grown tired of waiting on Yah to fulfill His prophecies and promises regarding them. They had already complained that all Mosheh had accomplished since his return was to make them loathsome in the eyes of Pharaoh and his servants. Mosheh had given them a sword to kill them with.Sh’mot 5.21 So they didn’t listen to Mosheh. They didn’t doubt that Yah would one day fulfill all the promises and prophecies He had given through Avraham and Yoseph; it just seems they didn’t believe they would be fulfilled in their lifetimes.
When Mosheh explained to Y-H-V-H that the children of Isra’el - His people - had not listened to him, Yah gave the command to bring B’nei Isra’el out of Mitsrayim, but there were other issues Y-H-V-H had to address first. Before delivering His people and bringing them to the land of their inheritance, Yah had to deal with the nation that had oppressed them. He had to deal with the leadership of Mitsrayim who had arrogantly declared he didn’t know Y-H-V-H and would not listen to the Elohim of the Hebrews. This set the stage for the ten plagues that would decimate Pharaoh, his armies and the land. At one point Pharaoh would even admit that he had sinned; that Y-H-V-H was righteous and that he and his people were the ha’rasha’im - the wicked ones הַרְשָׁעִים - though his confession was not accompanied by any change in his heart or deeds.
We aren’t told how long the ten plagues lasted, but we do know that it was another forty years and another generation after the Exodus before they entered the Land.