This week’s parasha is Bo, Exodus 10.1 – 13:16.[i] The Haftarah is found in Jeremiah 46.13-28 and the reading from the Besorah is from Luke 7.1-17, which records the accounts of the centurion’s faith and then the exercise of Yeshua’s authority over death as He raised the widow’s son.
This week’s narrative begins with Aaron and Moshe coming before Pharaoh another time, setting the stage for the eighth plague, that of locust. Once again, it is recorded that HaShem “hardened Pharaoh’s heart and those of his servants as it is written,
Then Adonai said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, because I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, so that I might show these My signs in their midst, and so you may tell your son and your grandchildren what I have done in Egypt, as well as My signs that I did among them, so you may know that I am Adonai.” (Exodus 10.1-2)
This is not the first “hardening,” as suggested by Exodus 7.2-5, with the purpose that “The Egyptians will know that I am Adonai…” (7.5). Then in 8.15 & 32, Pharaoh hardened his own heart. In this week’s portion we see as John Sailhamer suggests, “…God has hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he might perform the signs; but this time the sign is not for Egypt and Pharaoh. It is rather for Israel and their children, “that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians … that you may know that I am the LORD” (10:2).[ii]
It has been suggested that we may see the beginning of the importance of education in this parasha. At least three times, Exodus 10.2, 12.25, 13.8, Israel is told to tell their children when they ask, or even when they don’t, about what HaShem did as He prepared to lead Bnei Yisrael out of Egypt to their promised inheritance with the ultimate purpose of that they may know and remember that “I am the LORD.” The need for “knowing” the identity and power of HaShem was apparently not limited to the Exodus narrative. In John’s Besorah we read,
As Yeshua was passing by, He saw a man who had been blind since birth. His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” Yeshua answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. This happened so that the works of God might be brought to light in him. We must do the work of the One who sent Me, so long as it is day! Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9.1-5)
In this week’s Besorah the centurion was well aware of Yeshua’s authority as evidenced in his response, “…say the word and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this!’ and he does it” (Luke 7.7b-8). The centurion had no doubt as to Yeshua’s identity or His power. Perhaps, had Pharaoh such faith, the Exodus story might have been a bit different.
In the Haftarah, we once again see Egypt coming under divine discipline and judgment. In Jeremiah 46.13-24, we read about “the coming of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to strike the land of Egypt” (v 13). And while it appears that Jeremiah is simply foretelling what Nebuchadnezzar is about to do, in reality he is showing once again HaShem’s hand in the activity.
“Behold, I will punish Amon of No, Pharaoh, Egypt, with her gods and her kings—even Pharaoh, and them that trust in him. I will hand them over to those seeking their lives, into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and his servants. Yet afterwards it will be inhabited, as in the days of old” (Jeremiah 46.25-26).
Not only will Egypt be disciplined, but HaShem has promised that Egypt will once again “be inhabited, as in the days of old” affirming once again that one of the purposes of the discipline of the LORD is to bring about restoration. This fact is further affirmed in the last two verses of this Haftarah as HaShem encourages Jacob (Israel) not to fear or be dismayed because He is with them and will bring them back to their land as well and cause them to dwell in safety and shalom.
The second half of this week’s Besorah deals with the healing of the widow’s son. Whereas the centurion sought out Yeshua on behalf of his servant, in the case of the widow, in her grief, Yeshua was simply passing through the area. I am not going to enter into a discussion on the providence of the LORD at this point, I do believe that Yeshua was right where the Father wanted Him to be. However, the woman, unlike the centurion, did not seek out Yeshua – nor seemingly did her friends as when Yeshua healed the paralyzed man in Luke 5.17ff. She was at the end of hope and could only mourn her loss. Yeshua passed by, unannounced, and met her deepest need beyond her or her friends’ wildest expectations. The end result was the same as mentioned above, “fear took hold of them all, and they glorified God,” (Luke 7.16).
There are times, when we seek answers from the LORD, there are times when things are so bad that we don’t even know what or how to pray. But He who promised never to leave us or forsake us, (Deuteronomy 31.6 and Hebrews 13.5) will always be right beside us, in whatever condition or situation we find ourselves in.
[i] Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are from the Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.
[ii] Sailhamer, John H. The Pentateuch as Narrative: A Biblical-Theological Commentary. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1995 p 256.