Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Bo / “Go” Shemot / Exodus 10:1 – 13:16
Bo / “Go” Shemot / Exodus 10:1 – 13:16
I find it interesting that in the first verse of our weekly reading HaShem tells Moshe that He has hardened not just pharaoh’s heart, but also the hearts of his servants. Now He does say that the purpose of this is so that He “might shew these My signs before him…” (KJV) and also so that the tale may be told to his (just Moses’ or the whole of the people?) descendants.
Regardless, Moses and Aaron go to the pharaoh to inform him that a plague of locusts is due to arrive, unless he allows the people of Israel to go and serve their god, the only true God. As we come to verse 7 we read “And pharaoh’s servants said unto him, ‘How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?’”
I can only surmise that in comparing the words of the Lord in verse one with the words of the servants (cabinet officers) in verse seven, Moses and Aaron are seeing the first cracks in the resolve of the Egyptian hierarchy. Though Moshe and Aharon may not know that there are only three plagues to go, including this one, becoming aware of fractions developing within the government can only be encouraging.
Pharaoh listens to the wails of his advisors, calls the two messengers (םכלשׁ – shlichim) back to the palace, and tells them that they may go. However, he also wants to know whom it will be who is going. Not satisfied with the response of Moshe, pharaoh permits only the men to go. Of course that is not satisfactory, so, “LOOK OUT! HERE COME THE LOCUSTS!”
The locusts arrive via a strong east wind over the period of the rest of that day and night, they consumed all the herbs and the fruits of the trees of the land of Egypt. Voracious appetites must have been given them, for we are told that pharaoh “called for Moses and Aaron in haste” (vs. 16) in order to ask forgiveness and to have the plague removed. Moses, and the Lord, consented, and the locusts were driven out by a strong west wind. Guess what pharaoh did upon receiving the sought for relief? Yes. He reversed himself again and would not permit the people to leave.
As an aside, locusts are considered a delicacy by many in the Mideast, and it would seem likely that one way for the Egyptians to get rid of them would have been to eat them, but there seemingly were far too many locusts for that to occur. Also, according to wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locust) “(o)n swarming they are known to produce a toxin that renders them inedible and causes a skin reaction in sunlight.” So much for plague number eight.
Plague number nine is about to commence. This plague is unannounced, just as the third and sixth plagues were not predicted to pharaoh. It is interesting that plagues one, four, and seven were announced to pharaoh alongside the river, and plagues two, five, and eight were announced in the palace.
Darkness, is it not the foe of those who wish to see clearly, but the friend of those who do not wish for their deeds to be seen. In this instance, it is actually the means of hiding those who are not of the light. As I have mentioned numerous times over the past couple of years, I believe that this darkness was a result of the removal of the light found in Genesis 1:3 when God said “Let there be light.” Psalm 36:9 states, “For with Thee is the fountain of life: in Thy light do we see light.”
Without God’s light, the light of Genesis 1:3, we would not be able to see anything, even the sun, moon, and stars of Genesis 1:16. In Psalm 105:28 we read, “He sent darkness, and made it dark, and they rebelled not against His word. Who is they you may ask. It seems clear to me that “they” is a reference to the Israelites, and specifically Moshe and Aharon. Likewise, a perusal of Matthew 27:35 reveals “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour”. Is there a similarity, a foreshadowing, of the three hours of darkness just prior to Yeshua's death and the three days of darkness just prior to the death of the firstborn of Egypt?
Of course the pharaoh tells Moshe that the people may go, but again, only on his terms. Because of his obstinacy, he speaks prophetically when he tells Moshe and Aharon to leave his presence, for if he sees them again he will see to it that they will die. This reminds me of the High Priest Caiaphas’ prophecy that it would be better for one man to die for the country rather than that all should perish. The prophecy of pharaoh comes true, but only to the extent the Israelite die to Egypt at the conclusion of the crossing of the Red Sea. I do realize in making this statement that at various times some of the people that had left Egypt did want to return. Regardless, that is not the point being presented here.
Chapter 11 launches with the Israelites spoiling the Egyptians. Spoiling only occurs when one party is victorious over another party. Though the children of Israel are still in bondage, the victory has already been won. Like Rahab’s mention of the hearts of the people failing at the approach of the Israelites, the Egyptians are predisposed to show great favor to those who’s God is showing Himself to be so mighty. Verses two and three seem to be somewhat out of order here, based on the reading of the rest of the chapter. However, this could be the time when the Lord is revealing this part to Moshe, and Moshe parenthetically included verse three in its telling.
The ensuing part of the story is one with which we are mostly familiar – the announcement of the ultimate plague on Egypt – the death of the firstborns. Moses and Aaron have not left the pharaoh’s presence yet. The message is given to pharaoh through Moses (and Aaron) prior to them leaving pharaoh’s presence as recorded in verse eight.
It seems as if the final two verses of this chapter were included in its later recording, for they, particularly verse nine, have to do with HaShem having foretold that Pharaoh would not listen or bend his knee to the Lord as a result of any of these displays of His superiority over any and all of the gods of Egypt.
Information is conveyed to the people regarding the Lord’s command.
1. This will be the first month of your calendar.
2. Pick out an unblemished lamb of the first year on the 10th of the month.
3. On the evening of the 14th, all the lambs are to be killed.
4. Strike the doorposts with the blood.
5. Eat the roasted meat with unleavened bread.
6. Eat it all, or burn the remains.
7. Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
8. Do this yearly as a memorial.
Three times the basic message seems to be given in one form or another. The fourth through eighth verse of chapter eleven are spoken to Pharaoh and his court, 12:3 – 20 are spoken to the congregation of Israel, and 12:21 – 28 are spoken to the elders of Israel. The last two of this series strike me as being somewhat redundant, since it would be logical to presume that the elders would also have been included in the revelation of the details to the whole congregation. What I take away from the reiteration to the elders is that this is an extremely important piece of information for it has been mentioned twice. Though we are not told so, I tend to believe these elders were to make sure that the congregants under their authority realized the gravity of the situation as well as having them prepared for the trip home, to a home they had never seen.
Midnight came, and so did the Destroyer. We are told that there was not a household in the land of Egypt, save those who obeyed the warning of Moses, where the Destroyer had not visited and performed the duty assigned. Even the one who was to join his god Ra upon his death, even within his household had the Destroyer paid a visit to his firstborn son.
Amidst all their wailing, Pharaoh and all his people made it incumbent upon the children of Israel, that they were to leave, and the sooner the better! So they left, and along with them went a mixed multitude, likely other slaves and or citizens of Egypt who had had enough of Egypt’s inept gods and its heavy-handed and impotent leader.
The final major point I would like to touch upon in this teaching is the issue of 400 years, or even 430 years in the land of Egypt. In reviewing the Scripture’s position on this issue, and what greater source can we have, we need to focus on three specific Scriptures – Genesis 15:13, Exodus 12:40 – 41, and Galatians 3:17.
Genesis 15:13 (Septuagint) 13 And it was said to Abram, Thou shalt surely know that thy seed shall be a sojourner in a land not their won, and they shall enslave them, and afflict them, and humble them four hundred years.
Exodus 12:40 – 41 (Septuagint) 40 And the sojourning of the children of Israel, while they sojourned in the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan, was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And it came to pass after the four hundred and thirty years, all the forces of the Lord came forth out of the land of Egypt by night. (Septuagint)
Galatians 3:17 (KJV) And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
Let us pick these apart in order to discern the timeframe spoken of. Notice that in the Genesis record it is Abraham’s seed (Isaac) who will be the initial individual of the sojourning. A further investigation finds that Abraham is 75 years old at the time of this pronouncement, Isaac is born twenty-five years later, and his weaning party is five years after that (see Gen. 21:7 and Gen. 21:8). Though the five years can be thought to be presumed, and in a sense they are, the sages of old state that there is a five-year time frame between these two verses, and a five-year spread does fit the Scripture’s indication.
Notice that at the age of weaning, Ishma’el picks on Isaac. Also, though they are living in the land of Canaan, Abraham and his seed do not yet possess the land. Hence the wording “a land not their own” alludes not only to Egypt, but also to Canaan. Therefore, the afflicting began at Isaac’s weaning party thirty years following the Lord’s revelation of this to Abraham.
The Exodus and Galatians selections work together, because they show that the four hundred thirty years commenced at the announcement to Abraham, not upon the actual entering Egypt by Joseph, or even the entrance of Jacob if you prefer.
In figuring the dates of the lives of the patriarchs, it can be shown that beginning with Joseph’s arrival in Egypt until the Exodus is no more than two hundred ten (210) years. In fact, Isaac died at the age of one hundred eighty, which was the same year that Joseph, at the age of thirty, became second in command of Egypt.
Isaac was 60 yrs. old when Esau and Jacob were born.
Jacob was 91 yrs. old when Joseph was born; Isaac = 150/151 yrs. old.
Joseph was enslaved at 17 yrs. of age: Isaac was 167/168 yrs. old.
Joseph began ruling at the age of 30: Isaac was 180 yrs. old.
The ages for Isaac allow that he and Joseph likely did not share the same birthdate.
If we subtract for two hundred ten (210) years from Isaac’s death (that takes us back to the time of the original pronouncement), that leaves only one hundred ninety (190) years at his death for the rest of Abraham’s descendants to sojourn – being afflicted, enslaved, and humbled as it states in Genesis 15:13 – by other nations.
Therefore, it appears that the actual time spent in Egypt was two hundred twenty-seven (227) years from Joseph’s entrance, two hundred ten (210) from his accession to leadership, and two hundred one (201) from Jacob’s arrival two years into the famine. This time frame also makes much more sense of Genesis 15:16 where the Lord tells Abraham that his seed will come forth after just four generations. Four generations of approximately fifty years is much easier to fathom than generations of one hundred years each.
Our week’s reading then concludes in chapter 13 with some more pronouncements regarding the celebration of Pesach / Passover in the future, as well as the setting aside of the firstborn of their sons and herds. These can be covered in detail in later readings; I am in no way diminishing the importance of these instructions by closing here.