Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #15: Bo (Go) Sh’mot (Exodus) 10:1-13:16
Haftarah: Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 46:13-28
B’rit Chadashah: Revelation 16:1-21
The first sentence of this parashah reminds us that G-d allowed Pharaoh and his servants to make their own choice to remain hardhearted (stubborn) to provide a greater contrast between their defiance and G-d’s power. Note that in the same sentence G-d states “so that I can demonstrate these signs of mine among them, so that you can tell your son and grandson about what I did to Egypt and about my signs that I demonstrated among them, and so that you will know that you will all know that I am Adonai.” Again, the purpose of our existence is to glorify YHVH/Yahshua. This event is just one example of how G-d “helps” us to do accomplish this mission. Note that He provides the signs, but we must perpetuate the witness. The plagues continue with the locusts that consume everything left after the plague of hail. Recall this includes the wheat that was underground at the time of the hail. G-d was merciful in allowing the Egyptians to have a source of food. This plague is described as an invasion more severe than there had ever been before or will ever be again. (Ex. 10:14). Locusts are capable of eating their own weight daily. One square mile containing a swarm could contain 200 million locusts. Pharaoh once again asked for forgiveness, Moshe intervened, and the locusts were removed even though Pharaoh still did not let the Israelites go into the desert. Furthermore, he did not show any concern for his own people. He asked for forgiveness of his sin and that G-d would remove the plague (EX. 10:17) “from me.” We are told in verse 6 that Pharaoh’s houses were filled first. The sages tell us that the punishment came first to the one most responsible for the persecution. This is why clergy should take their positions so seriously. Those who teach G-d’s Torah are held to a stricter standard of accountability than the flock. This does not by any means release us from personal accountability; it simply places more responsibility on the teacher who will optimally possess the character of a shepherd. Verse 9 points out that everyone is responsible for keeping G-d’s mandated festivals. It is not the wife and kid’s responsibility, or just the men, or just the elders. G-d commands observance by everyone.
Next, darkness was placed upon Egypt without a forewarning to Pharaoh. The air became so black that the Egyptians could not even see one another for three days. Some commentators say this darkness could actually be felt (Wilmington). Indeed, this is what scripture says (Ex. 10:21). This would have prevented the Egyptians from finding their way around for food or water. Yet G-d provided light for his people through the entire event. As Messianic believers we know there was physical light provided by the Light of Yahshua with the Israelites. This event also provides an example that we are to do our best to shine our lights, even in the darkest situations. This time Pharaoh offered a partial deal to let the people go without their flocks and herds. Moshe declined telling Pharaoh that everything and everyone must go. Moshe looked out for all; the people and the animals. Pharaoh refused and made the interesting statement, “And you had better not see my face again, because the day you see my face, you will die!” (Gen 12: 28).
But, there was one more plague to come. This was the killing of the firstborn of every Egyptian and of the livestock. Just as G-d looks after all His creation, so did Moshe in his request to Pharaoh to leave Egypt. Verse 1 tells us that this plague would be complete. G-d’s justice decrees that one who refuses to obey G-d and follow His Torah of his own free will, will suffer the consequences. G-d prepared the hearts of the Egyptians towards the Israelites so that they easily surrendered their gold and silver jewelry. It is important to note that G-d told the Israelites to go to the Egyptians, men to men, and women to women and ask for the jewelry. They had to act on their faith in G-d. They didn’t sit in their homes and wait for the Egyptians to drop the jewelry at their feet. It is no different today. Our faith is manifested by our actions based on our beliefs. The entire book of James speaks of this truth. Faith without works is dead! The plagues demonstrated before Pharaoh and all of Egypt demonstrated the power of G-d; that His power has no limits. Indeed His Name YHVH contains three words that describe this; YHYH (He was), HVH (He is), and HYH (He will be).
Verse 12 describes the Biblical mandate for establishing our calendar according to G-d. This is one reason we know, and the only proof we need, that neither January 1 nor Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the year. Rosh Hashanah is the secular New Year as is September in the Western world. January 1st is a product of faulty thinking in the Christian realm based on pagan celebrations of Yule and Saturnalia and their effort to choose a separate day on which to celebrate their version of “Christ’s” birth which was not even in December. They chose December 25 because it was in between the winter solstice that occurs on December 21 and the Calends of January celebration. The calends (Latin: kalendae, “the called”) were the first days of each month of the Roman calendar. The Romans assigned these calends to the first day of the month, signifying the start of the new moon cycle. On that day, the pontiffs would announce at the Curia Calabra which was a religious station used for the ritual observation of the new moon in ancient Rome, the number of days until the upcoming month at which time the debtors had to pay off their debts that were inscribed in the kalendaria, a sort of accounts book. Accordingly, if “Jesus” was born on the 25th of December, He would have been circumcised 8 days later on January 1. Such is the New Year designation. More extensive information on this subject is beyond the scope of this teaching but is necessary for readers to understand the authentic beginning of months according to G-d versus those set by humans. In Ex. 12:2 G-d says “You are to begin your calendar with this month; it will be the first month of the year for you.” This is the month of Abib in Hebrew or Nissan in Babylonian. This is the very first commandment given to the nation Israel as a whole. Observance includes men and women, although unfortunately the New Moon observance has been relegated to women in some communities. This sounds similar to what we observe in many churches today with more women in attendance than men. Observance of the New Moon is so important that a thousand years later during the period of the Syrian-Greek persecution that culminated with the miracle of Chanukkah, Rosh Kodesh (New Moon) was one of only three commandments whose observance was forbidden. The other two commandments were the Sabbath and circumcision.
Although the Hebrew name of the first month is Abib, the Babylonian name of Nissan was kept to remind the Jews of their redemption from Babylon which resulted in the building of the Second Temple (Ramban).
Ex. 12:3 describes how G-d carefully laid out the details of Pesach (Passover) which is a mandated festival. Notice that the entire assembly is involved. The word assembly in Hebrew derives from the word Ayin Dalet Tav (Adat) which means to fix or appoint. This implies that the word refers to a society united by a common calling; a community (R. Hirsch). This is the first time this word is used in the Torah, implying that the commandment of the pesach-offering was the beginning of a new era for Israel and a new relationship with YHVH as His Chosen People.
The lamb without defect in its first year is to be chosen for the offering. On the 14th of the month, the entire assembly slaughters these innocent animals. Note that the sacrifices occurred in the afternoon just as the time of Yahshua’s crucifixion and the time of his death, 3PM. In retrospect the people smeared some of the blood on the two sides and top of the door-frame at the entrance of the house in which they ate it with matzah (unleavened bread) and maror (bitter herbs). Similarly, Yahshua’s blood atoned for our PAST sins (Rom. 3:25; 2 Pet. 1:9) and provided a way in which we can be reconciled to G-d as a separated people as He prepares to take us out of spiritual Egypt, through the water, and into our own training ground in our spiritual desert. This is the first mention of leaven in the Bible and from this point on it comes to stand for evil. In the B’rit Chadashah leaven stands for Hypocrisy (Lk. 12:1), Rationalism ( Mt.16:6,12), Worldliness ( Mk.8:15), Evil conduct ( 1 Cor.5:6), and False doctrine ( Gal. 5:9).The meal the Israelites are commanded to eat before leaving Egypt is not your typical social gathering where everyone sat and talked around the food, catching up on the day. The Israelites were instructed to eat and run. G-d was merciful in telling them why they had to eat this meal in such a hurry. He was about to judge Egypt and kill the firstborn. He was also merciful to allow them to eat at all before they were taken out of Egypt. These examples are among many that illustrate how G-d provides our every need. Note that Pharaoh is not killed; even though he is a first born. He was allowed to live so that he could tell the world about G-d’s greatness. Even the enemy is sometimes used to glorify G-d!
The next sentence is just one of many that need to be internalized and acted upon by all true believers. Verse 14 states “This will be a day for you to remember and celebrate as a festival to Adonai; from generation to generation you are to celebrate it by a perpetual regulation.” Passover was not abrogated in any sense of the word and Easter is not synonymous! Pesach (Passover) has been changed to Easter in the King James Bible and is celebrated by most Christian denominations, always occurring on a Sunday. The true Passover always falls on the 14th day of Nissan on various days of the week. The Feast of Firstfruits is known as Reshit Katzir, the “beginning of the harvest”. In Biblical times, on this day a sheaf (omer) of barley (the first grain crop to ripen) was waved before the L-rd in a prescribed ceremony to mark the start of the counting of the omer, thereby initiating the countdown of 49 days to the harvest festival of Shavu’ot. The command for this celebration is found in Lev. 23:9-14. Therefore, we know that the celebration of the Feast of First Fruits or Reshit Katgi is included in the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The entire set of events from Pesach, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Firstfruits provide a beautiful picture of Yahshua setting us free, leading us out of Egypt, redeeming us, and delivering us to be with Him in the future. Again, the Feast of Firstfruits is included in the celebration/observance of the feast of unleavened bread that starts on the night following Pesach; the 15th of Nissan/Abib. Let’s continue; G-d’s not done.
Verse15 “For seven days you are to eat matzah (unleavened bread) – on the first day remove the leaven from your houses. We go all over our kitchen and anywhere else we keep food and look for food that contains yeast, self-rising flour, or anything that will cause the food to rise when added to water. “For whoever eats hametz from the first to the seventh day is to be cut off from Israel. On the first and the seventh days, you are to have an assembly set aside for G-d. On these days no work is to be done, except what each must do to prepare food; you may only do that.” G-d emphasizes this regulation in verse 17, “You are to observe the festival of matzah, for on this very day I brought your divisions out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you are to observe this day from generation to generation by a perpetual regulation. For a third time G-d says in verse 18, “From the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month until the twenty-first day, you are to eat matzah. During those seven days, no leaven is to be found in your houses. Whoever eats food with hametz in it is to be cut off from the community of Israel. – it doesn’t matter whether he is a foreigner or a citizen of the land. Eat nothing with hametz in it. Wherever you live, eat matzah.” It is clear we are to separate ourselves from sin. We may think for instance, that having a few crumbs of leavened bread won’t hurt anything. Or we may think that if we have leavened bread in the freezer, its ok, we just won’t open the package. But G-d uses the analogy of hametz in describing sin in our lives. Yeast puffs up the dough much as pride puffs us up. You cannot separate one little yeast grain from the rest. Once it is activated, it permeates the entire lump of dough. Such is the nature of sin. We may think we can handle temptation, one drink, just window shopping at stores where we’ve fallen to overspending before. In Yosef’s case, he knew that to flirt with temptation is to face ultimate defeat (Gen. 39:12). If only Eve did not have the conversation with the serpent (Gen. 3:1-6). We are to clean our homes and our lives of leaven. G-d repeats this command twice more in verses 24 and 25. This is a reminder of something we need to do on a daily basis in the spiritual context.
Verse 34 makes an interesting statement .The people took their dough before it had become leavened and wrapped their kneading bowels in their clothes on their shoulders. Could this be compared to putting on a tallit (prayer shawl) or the mantle of G-d’s Torah of sorts? The dough is without leaven representing no sin, and placed on their shoulders to be carried out of sinful Egypt into the wilderness experience. How about that: a travelling prayer closet with G-d’s Name on every corner. Our G-d had us covered even then!
In verse 38 we are told of a mixed multitude that accompanied the Israelites. These people were considered fellow travelers and as such partook of all the regulations and blessings of the Israelites. There were obviously non-Hebrews traveling with Israel, much as there are Gentiles traveling spiritually with Israel today. Remember that Kelev (Caleb) was a Gentile who accepted the mantle of G-d’s laws, regulations, and statutes. Again the consistency of G-d and His Torah are demonstrated throughout the entire Torah. He is reliable and true. G-d’s provision for the proselyte (who by the way chooses to follow G-d and His Torah freely) is mentioned again in Ex. 12:48. This is one of the many passages in which the Torah requires that a proselyte be treated as equal with all Jews, in their responsibility to observe G-d’s commands, festivals, regulations, and laws, and in reaping the blessings given by G-d to His people. Finally in Ex. 13:3 the word remember used in “Remember this day on which you departed from Egypt” is the infinitive form, implying that the Exodus should be remembered constantly. In rabbinic Judaism the rabbis state that we must recall the Exodus specifically every day fulfilled by the recitation of the third paragraph of the Sh’ma, which ends by saying that G-d took the Jewish people out of Egypt (Rashi).
Haftarah: Jeremiah 46:13-28
Our parashah is complimented by the prophecy of another defeat for Egypt that will take place eight centuries later. While Egypt was competing for world domination, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia would totally defeat them. Jeremiah describes Egypt’s hopelessness against Babylon, after making clear the reason for Egypt’s defeat is a result of their haughtiness and rejection of G-d’s dominion. The haftarah ends with the good news that Jacob (Israel) need not fear. Although Jacob will be punished for past transgressions (and that is why the name Jacob is used instead of Israel), his enemies will be destroyed. Jacob will survive and become stronger than ever. However, their survival is dependent on service of G-d. This is no different that our salvation once we are reconciled to G-d through Yahshua’s sacrifice (See Rom. 3:25; 2Pet. 1:9).When we strive to follow G-d’s Torah out of love and obedience, we have His assurance that we will emerge triumphantly in the end.
B’rit Chadashah: Revelation 16:1-21
1 The seven bowls of G-d’s fury spoken of in Chap. 15:1,7-8, contain the
the third set of seven judgments in this book, the others being the seal
judgments, and the shofar judgments. The bowl judgments are poured out in
2 Similar to the Anthrax plague that affected only the Egyptians in Ex. 9:8-11, these sores appear only on unbelievers (the people who take the mark of the beast and worship its image). Verse 11 speaks of arrogance equal to that of Pharaoh. Despite the pain of the sores, these people remain hardened. They never turn from their sins to glorify G-d (v. 9) but curse him to the end (v.21). They exercise their free will and G-d allows it!
5 O HaKadosh used in this verse is a term applied to Yahshua as Messiah
(Acts 2:27, 13:35), quoting Psalm 16:10.
9-10This is the B’rit Chadasha’s most cogent description of the usual behavior
pattern of those who totally harden their hearts toward G-d as did Pharaoh.
They curse the Name of G-d instead of turning from their sins and giving
Him glory. This is in direct rebellion to His stated purpose for humankind;
to glorify Him so the nations will know He is Adonai. Being antinomians,
anti-Torah, and materialistic, they remain unrepentant.
12-16 The sixth bowl dries up the Euphrates so that the kings from the east can
cross over to attack. The unclean spirits looked like frogs but are
miracle-working demonic spirits who go out to the kingdoms of the
world to assemble them for the final battle at Armageddon. Yahshua
inserts a reminder that He is coming like a thief in the night, and that we
must remain steadfast in Torah even then.
17-21 The seventh bowl reveals flashes of lightning, thunder, and the greatest
earthquake known to man. The Great Babylon is made to drink the cup
of G-d’s fury. Every island and mountain disappears. Seventy-pound
hailstones fall on the people, yet they still curse Him. Note the statement
that “great city was split into three parts” refers to Jerusalem! (Jeremiah
Chapter 25). There is a debate about whether or not this applies to Bavel
and/or Jerusalem. However, after reading the text closely and looking at
the sentence structure, I am of the opinion that this scripture is speaking
of judgment on Jerusalem and it is split into three parts. Regardless, we
will be held accountable for our sins; either in the form of temporal
punishment, or the loss of rewards in the world to come, just as were the
Egyptians, Pharaoh, and those Israelites who rebelled against Adonai in
It is no accident that in this parashah, the section that deals with the culminating plagues and the Exodus should turn three times to the subject of children and the duty of parents to educate them. Unless parents and/or clergy who properly teach G-d’s Torah hand down their memories and ideals to the students of any age, including young children, the story of freedom and how to handle adversity is lost. All we need do is look at our society today. What is fascinating in G-d’s Torah is the way it emphasizes the fact that the children must ask questions. This is an action initiated by the individual. This is a prominent theme throughout the Torah. We are the ones who must ask, seek and knock (Matt. 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-13). We must go to the elders if we are sick or want special prayer and not expect the elders to search us out. (James 5:14). AS the creation, we must return to our G-d in true repentance (Acts 3:19). Asking questions is mentioned in Ex. 12:26-27; Ex. 13:14).
Messianic Judaism is not a religion of blind obedience. Interestingly, in a religion of 613 commandments, there is no Hebrew word that means “to obey.” When Hebrew was revived as a living language in the 19th century, and there was a need for a verb meaning “to obey,” it was borrowed from the Aramaic: le-tsayet. Instead of a word meaning “to obey,” the Torah uses the verb Shema! The essence of the concept is untranslatable into English because it means to listen, hear, understand, internalize, and respond. Written into the very structure of Hebraic consciousness is the idea that our highest duty is to seek to understand the will of G-d, not just to obey it blindly. Why? Because we believe that intelligence is one of G-d’s greatest gifts to humanity. Our Torah walk is a progressive journey that requires prayer, study, and obedience that results in a deeper understanding of our G-d and what He expects of us. Our credo should be study, pray, learn, obey! Just as the children of Israel were preparing to leave Egypt and begin their walk with G-d, Moshe told the people to hand down this memory to their children as commanded by G-d through the mandate of celebrating Pesach throughout their generations.
It is paramount for us to understand that not all questions have immediate answers. Some require age and experience. Others take years of intellectual preparation. Still others cannot be answered at this stage in G-d’s timetable. Although we may not know what we do not know, if we remain diligent in our walk toward YHVH/Yahshua, He will teach us everything we need to know for the purpose for which He has created each of us.
Rabbi Tamah Davis