Thursday, January 22, 2015

Parashat Bo ("Enter!") Exodus 10:1-13:16



Parashat Bo ("Enter!")   Exodus 10:1-13:16
               
Today’s Parashah opens with a declaration of Power.  “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord.”

I was recently in a discussion about the Exodus movie; to see or not to see.  My church Pastor derided the movie in no short way which stired some loud opinion amongst the congregation (after the service).

Whilst I don’t have high expectations from Hollywood, didn’t care to see Noah, I understand my Pastor’s point of view.  The Exodus IS bragging rights by the Almighty.  It sets His precedent of Power, Might and Deliverance.  Of all the stories in the Torah, don’t belittle or mess with this one; surely.

How often in Scripture does the Almighty make such a proclamation that “you may know that I am the Lord”.   Actually this phrase occurs 5 times in the Tanakh..  Without wanting to get all Gemetria crazy on you, the number 5 is the number of Grace, the number of sacrifices, there were 2 sets of 5 in the Ten Commandments,  5 items (of just about everything) in the Tabernacle, the Psalms are divided into 5 portions, 5 books in the Bible with a single chapter  (2John, 3John, Philemon, Jude and Obadiah) , there are 5 books in the Torah and of course 5 books in the Brit Chadashah (if you included Acts).

So my point remains, don’t disempower one of the greatest moments in human history that God holds sacred; i.e don’t profane the sacred – be careful, movie makers.

Another point to this first verse is that Pharaoh had his heart hardened by God.  Is this fair?  I was very recently asked, “If God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, is Pharaoh really guilty?”   Then, if Judas was destined to be the betrayer, is Judas guilty?  Of course!   We read in the earlier Parashah that Pharaoh hardened his own heart in Exodus 8:32 “But Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also; neither would he let the people go.”    .  Also in 1 Samuel 6:6, we read, “Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts?”

When the hardness of our hearts reaches an unacceptable point by our own choosing, we may be given over to our sins, for his purpose  BUT we always have a choice.  As for Pharaoh, God hardened his heart by means of providing the circumstances and the occasion for Pharaoh to be forced to make a decision – he made the wrong decision. May the Ruach HaKodesh help us make the right choice.
And then the last 3 plagues came!

Makat Arbeh (מַכַּת אַרְבֶּה)Locusts (Exod. 10:1-20) 
Makat Choshekh (מַכַּת חוֹשֶׁךְ) Darkness (Exod. 10:21-29)    
Makat Bechorot (מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת)   Death of the firstborn (Exod. 11:1-12:36) 
    
It’s interesting that in Exodus 12:12, God says, "... and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord."   It appears that the plagues are a symbolic defeat of various false gods that were established in ancient Egyptian mythology:

    Water turned to blood - Hapi and/or Khnum (god of the Nile)
    Frogs from the Nile River - Heket (goddess of fertility and water)
    Gnats from the dust  - Geb (god of the Earth)
    Swarms of Flies - Khepri (god of creation, lord of flies or beetles)
    Death of Livestock - Apis (goddess of animals depicted as a bull); Osiris
    Ashes to boils - Isis (goddess of nature, healing and peace)
    Hail and Fire - Nut (sky goddess and sister of Geb)
    Locusts sent from the winds - Set (god of storms, darkness, and disorder)
    Three days of darkness - Ra (the Sun god) and Set (god of darkness)
    Death of the firstborn - Pharoah ("son of Ra"); Khnum/ Amon (ram god)

Adonai is the Almighty and must be reverenced (and feared) as such.  I was having a friendly chat to a mate (I can say mate cause I’m an Aussie) last week and we were discussing that Grace is the battleground and defence of the new Christian, whereas reverence and fear of God is the benchmark of maturity.

Blessings and Shalom.  Jon Eaton

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