Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parasha #15: Bo (Go) Sh’mot (Exodus) 10:1-13:16
Haftarah: Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 46:13-28
B’rit Chadashah: Revelation 16:1-21
This parashah begins with the last plague to affect Egypt before the Exodus. Previously, locusts consumed 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 can eat their own weight daily. One square mile containing a swarm could contain 200 million locusts. Pharaoh asks for forgiveness again, but we see that this is only superficial. Moshe intervenes, and the locusts are removed even though Pharaoh still did not allow the Israelites go into the desert. We are told in verse 6 that Pharaoh’s houses are filled first. The Sages tell us that the punishment came first to the one most responsible for the persecution. This should cause those who teach the Bible to reflect on their responsibility to teach G-d’s Word with truth and love. 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. This concept holds for all who are in a position to teach; including parents. Verse 9 points out that everyone is responsible for keeping G-d’s mandated festivals. It is not the wife’s responsibility, just men, or just 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). 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 and the Light of Yahshua with the Israelites. This “Light” is also spoken of in Revelation; the Light of the world; Yahshua! This time Pharaoh offers a partial deal to let the people go without their flocks and herds. Moshe declines, telling Pharaoh that everything must go. Pharaoh refuses and makes 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).
There was one more plague; the worst of all. This was the killing of the firstborn of every Egyptian and of the livestock. Verse 1 tells us that this plague would be complete. G-d’s justice decrees that one who refuses of his own free will to obey G-d and follow his Torah will be forced to do so in a less than optimal situation. The Sages teach whoever neglects the Torah because of wealth, will ultimately neglect it in poverty (Avos4:10). This is also true in the reverse. But G-d prepares the hearts of the Egyptians towards the Israelites so that they will easily surrender their gold and silver jewelry. It is important to note that G-d tells 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. These plagues demonstrate 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 January 1 is not the beginning of the year. January 1st is a product of faulty thinking in the Christian realm. If after all, Yahshua was born on the 25th of December, chosen to give Christians a day of their own apart from the celebration of the winter solstice on December 21, He would have been circumcised on the 8th day which would be January 1. Interesting that Dionysius Exiguus, the 6th century monk who established the modern system of dating the years did so from Yahshua’s designated date of circumcision, rather than His birthday! 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 the New Moon observance has been relegated in some communities to the women. 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 sits and talks around the food and catches up on the day. The Israelites are instructed to eat this meal in a hurry, ready to run. G-d is merciful in telling them why they are commanded to eat this meal in this particular way. He is about to judge Egypt and kill the firstborn. He is also merciful to allow them to eat at all before they are 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.
The next sentence should be marked in your Bible in some way. 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 simply was not abrogated in any sense of the word. Pesach (Passover) has been changed to Easter in the King James Bible and always falls on Sunday. The true Passover always falls on the 14th day of Nisan on various days of the week. Passover also does not biblically represent the resurrection of Yahshua. Before you say this festival wouldn’t represent Yahshua in any context, think again. This entire event foreshadows Yahshua’s sacrifice of Himself yet to occur. The resurrection is celebrated as the Feast of First Fruits that on the second day of the feast of Unleavened Bread which falls on Nisan 16 (April 12,2017). So, if we want to celebrate His resurrection, this is the time to do it. Interestingly, it is not commanded as one of the designated times of Adonai. 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 kitchens and anywhere else we keep food to look for food that contain 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.” Note an observance on the seventh day of Pesach. We will celebrate this as commanded on the 21st of Nisan (April 17 ,2017). 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 one piece of chocolate. We should follow Yosef’s lead in these situations. 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. You will read all sorts of Rabbinic laws on what is hametz and how to rid the home of it. Take care to check these laws against G-d’s Torah for you will not find all you read in the Book. We are also commanded to remove the types of grain that are included in hametz from our property, inside and out. We are not to seal it up and “sell it” to an unbeliever while leaving it on our shelves. This is also a Rabbinic way to circumvent G-d’s command.
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. 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. 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 other Jews, both 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 Sidrah is complimented by the prophecy of another Egyptian defeat 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. This haftarah ends with the good news that Jacob (Israel) need not fear. Although Jacob will be punished for past transgressions, 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 to 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 also 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 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 this chapter.
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
as evidenced by 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 this applies to Bavel
and/or Jerusalem. However, after reading the text closely and looking at
the sentence structure, I believe 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 turns to the subject of children and the duty of parents to educate them three times. Education is something that can never be taken away. Unless parents and/or clergy who properly teach G-d’s Torah hand down their memories and ideals to the next generation, the story of freedom and how to handle adversity is lost. 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 are the ones who are to come to the elders if we are sick or want special prayer (James 5:14). We are the ones who must return to our G-d in true repentance (Acts 3:19). Asking questions is mentioned in Ex. 12:26-27; Ex. 13:14). It is the duty of parents and teachers in any venue to encourage children and student of any age to ask questions. Religious leaders should encourage questions of their congregations to be presented in the appropriate venue. Asking questions with a humble heart and searching soul, indicates a desire to grow in our relationship with G-d versus a passive obedience and listening to anything a parent or teacher says. It is of little value to attend a class of any kind unprepared or to simply accept whatever information is presented without checking it for accuracy. Interestingly, Jewish thought (and G-d’s teaching) contradict the general practice in Christian churches that place children in a nursery, away from the main service. Judaism follows the instruction in G-d’s Torah as a religious obligation to teach children/students to ask questions and explore their innate sense of wonder. This is how they grow. This is how we as the Children of Israel grow. This is one of the main themes of Pesach.
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 on the steps of prayerful understanding and discernment that improves as we study, pray, learn, and obey. This should be our credo; study, pray, learn, obey! Just as the children of Israel are preparing to leave Egypt and begin their walk with G-d, Moshe tells the people to hand down this memory to their children as commanded by G-d through the mandate of celebrating Pesach. Indeed, during the Seder, the youngest child who can read asks questions. Children should be encouraged to ask, investigate, analyze, and explore. However, once the truth has been shared and the student comprehends it, it must be internalized and acted upon.
Another important point for parents and teachers to emphasize is 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