Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Parashah Bo - "Go" Shemos (Exodus) 10:1 - 13:16

“Go,” the first word of the parashah.  Moshe is to go to Pharaoh.  If the word were “come” it would have a connotation of being summoned.  Pharaoh is not summoning Moshe here; HaShem is directing him.  Who is Pharaoh when compared to the L-rd?  This is significant,  for Pharaoh and his people consider him to be a god, but he has met his match, not only in the most significant event, the  “battle of gods”, but he also does not compare to Moshe man to man (cp. w/ Luke. 11:21 - 22).

“Go” to Pharaoh so that you (plural) can relate to your descendants how I made a mockery of Egypt.

“Go” humble yourself, Pharaoh, or there will be a locust swarm within all your border.

“Let them ‘go’.  The servants recognized G-d’s hand against them; Egypt is lost.

“Go” worship HaShem under my conditions.

Pharaoh’s response is not good enough; he still wants to maintain control; he still will not humble himself.  The locusts were sent (go) to Mitzrayim and it was saturated with them.  The entire land was covered with them.  Pharaoh’s response - “Come to me, Moshe and Aharon.”  Though he still was not totally humbling himself, he did have to admit that he had sinned to HaShem and also Moshe and Aharon.  Notwithstanding his admission, there was no repentance to go along with the admission of sin.  Therefore, he did not send the people to worship (i.e. - tell them to go).

The darkness of Pharaoh’s spirit, which was known and recognized by those around him was, in a sense, magnified to affect all his land.  A darkness that was more than just a lack of light as we know it enveloped the nation.  Psalm 36:9 states “For with Thee is the fountain of life: in Thy light shall we see light.”  In the first chapter of the Torah we notice that light was spoken into existence before any luminary.  Without the light of B’resheet 1:3 we would not be able to see anything of G-d’s creation, even the luminaries.  We can only see physically, emotionally, or spiritually by means of the fruit of the first utterance of the L-rd that is recorded.

It is that light, I believe, that was removed.  The people of the light still had light, but those who did not were utterly isolated and unable to move in the three-day darkness that ensued.  Three days in the tomb of darkness!  Does death hold sway over them or is it The Life that is in control?  What will happen at the time of resurrection?  Will Life rule in their spirits or will Death get the final victory?

Again Pharaoh sends the people to worship under his guidelines.  Of course that is not good enough.  As Moshe and Aharon leave the palace they are informed that there will be just one more plague - the end of this is near.

Yosef, during the famine of more than 200 years in the past, gained for the pharaoh all of the riches of the people of his own nation and other nations as well.  The people willingly gave to Pharaoh through Yosef, for they would receive life as a result.  Now, the people of Egypt are going to willingly give of the riches they now have to the Children of Yisra’el.  Life will again be their reward, for as the Children of Yisra’el “go", the plagues within the borders will cease.  The reception of the riches of Egypt also conforms to the promise given to Avraham that his descendants would leave with much wealth (Gen. 15:14).

Let us also recognize that for this tenth judgement upon the nation being judged, there is a warning.  It had been given to Moshe back in Exodus 4:22 - 23.  “You shall say to Pharaoh, 'So said HaShem, My firstborn is Yisra’el.  So I say to you, "Send out My son that he may serve Me" - but you have refused to send him out; behold, I shall kill your firstborn son.’”  The message is delivered now (Ex. 11:4 - 5).  The full ramifications are revealed to Pharaoh, his advisors, and his servants in attendance.  The result will be that “... all these servants of yours will come down to me and bow to me saying, ‘Leave - you and the entire people that follows you’”  They will be told to “Go (Bo)”!

The first twenty-eight verses of chapter twelve are an aside in our reading.  The information given here has obviously been spoken to the Children of Yisra’el at an earlier, unspecified time.  It also seems to have been spoken only to the entire assembly of Yisra’el and not to the Egyptians or any other part of the mixed multitude.  Verse 12:3 in Exodus begins with this statement to Moshe and Aharon, “Speak to the entire assembly of Yisra’el...”  Additionally, portions of verses twenty-nine and thirty record that “It was at midnight that HaShem smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt...and there was a great outcry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was no corpse.”

I suspect that it was shortly prior to the beginning of the month of Nissan that these instructions were given to the assembly of Yisra’el.  If that were the case, the people would have had opportunity to acknowledge it as the beginning of the year.  They are about to begin a new phase as the Children of Yisra’el, and that new beginning takes place in the first month of the year.  Furthermore, they are given the instructions for the choosing, sacrifice, roasting, and eating of the sacrificed lamb or kid, as well as all the other aspects pertaining to the coming Pesach and those in the eternal future (Ex. 12:14).  Additionally, all the guidelines for Firstfruits are revealed as well.  Having been instructed, the people should already be prepared for this specific night.

        It seems to me that anticipatory feelings beyond anything we have experienced must have been running rampant through Goshen, and especially in Moshe.  This was to be like nothing they had ever experienced.  It also required faith in the Word of the L-rd and the spokesmen of the   L-rd.  As midnight approached the silence in Egypt and Goshen must have been as thick and heavy as the darkness of the previous plague.  Suddenly there arose a wailing such as had not been heard since the people saw the ark’s door closed amidst the rising water of G-d’s wrath.  Pharaoh finally accedes to all of Moshe’s requests.  He tells them to “go” with all they possess and worship the L-rd.  It makes me wonder why, since YHWH has shown Himself so much greater than any of the Egyptian deities, why didn’t Pharaoh have any inclination to worship the Victor?  Of course he had not really repented, nor would he.  He just wanted this “Thorn” in his side to be removed.

The people, including a mixed multitude, begin to leave.  They had their unleavened dough as well as riches from the Egyptians.  Perhaps Moshe and Aharon asked for and received riches from Pharaoh himself.  They were being driven from Egypt (vs. 39) from all outward appearances.  However, it has already been stated by the Almighty that “...I shall take the Children of Yisra’el out from among them” (Ex. 7:5b).  He takes them about 35 miles from Rameses to Succoth.  Succoth means “booths, cottages, coverts, pavilions, tabernacles, and tents.  How fitting that the yet to be announced festival of Sukkot is to remember the Exodus from Egypt.

How fitting and G-d-like it is that this date of departure is the 430th anniversary of its presentment to Abraham, as well as the 405th anniversary of Isaac’s birth and the 400th anniversary of his weaning.

The end of chapter 12 is a rehashing of the pesach offering commands, which also includes the provisions for the people’s slaves, sojourners, hired hands, and proselytes.  Chapter 13 begins with the requirement that all the firstborn, man and beast, are to be sanctified to G-d.  Why the firstborn?  As it says in the final two verses of Exodus 13, “And it happened when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to send us out, that HaShem killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of man to the firstborn of beast.  Therefore I offer to HaShem all male first issue of the womb, and I shall redeem all the firstborn of my sons.  And it shall be a sign upon your arm, and an ornament between your eyes, for with a strong hand HaShem removed us from Egypt.”  YHWH told them to go, and they went!

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