Thoughts on Bo – 5779

This week’s reading from the Torah is Bo, Exodus 10:1-13:6. * The Haftarah is Jeremiah 46:13-28 and the reading from the Apostolic Writings is John 6:30–51.

In this week’s portion the main events are the completion of the plagues, number eight – locust (10:12-19), number nine – darkness (10:21-23), and finally number ten – the death of the first born (12:29-30). These are followed by the exodus itself (12:31-39). Between plagues eight and nine and the tenth plague and the exodus we read of the institution of the religious calendar beginning in the month of Abib or Nisan (12:2) and the rules and regulations concerning the celebration or observance of the Passover (12:3-28).

The portion begins with HaShem reiterating the situation to Moshe,

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)

ADONAI basically said, “Moshe, go,” or as some have suggested, “come to Pharaoh,” and guess what, after an initial request and seven plagues, Pharaoh is still not going to listen to you or to Me. However, he soon will listen and obey, as I do signs in the midst of Pharaoh and his servants, which will be irrefutable to dismiss. Not only that, but when your children and grandchildren ask, you will tell them all that I have done, and they too will know that I am ADONAI.” Moshe truly deserves a round of applause here. He did not want to go back to Egypt in the first place, he did not want to go before Pharaoh or for that matter Bnei Yisrael after they rejected his first message from HaShem. But none-the-less, he continued steadfastly going back before Pharaoh time and time again. If the narrative stopped here, we could learn much from Moshe’s example. He was tenacious in the face of adversary because he knew he had heard from ADONAI, even if he did not really feel qualified to do what he was called to do. It was this tenacity that carried him most of the way through the years of wandering as he led Bnei Yisrael to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

I believe that Moshe’s experience would give a hardy amen to Rav Shaul’s closing words to the Ephesians as he described the armor of God, “…after you have done everything, to stand firm,” (Ephesians 6:13). In this instance, I believe the CJB paraphrase missed the mark as it says, “…when the battle is won, you will still be standing.” Moshe did not have the guarantee that he would win the battle as it were. In fact, instead of a happy ending, after their long journey, neither he, Aaron, or their sister Miriam entered the Promised Land with the rest of Bnei Yisrael. In the Hall of the Faithful (Hebrews 11), along with those who were victorious in battle or miraculously delivered, we read about those who

…were tortured, after not accepting release, so they might obtain a better resurrection. Others experienced the trial of mocking and scourging—yes, and even chains and prison. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they were murdered with the sword. They went around in sheepskins and goatskins; they were destitute, afflicted, mistreated. The world was not worthy of them! They wandered around in deserts and mountains, caves and holes in the ground. And all these, though commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised – because God had provided something better for us, so that only with us would they reach perfection. (Hebrews 11:35-40)

Following the leading and direction of ADONAI does not always lead to the paths of victory or success as the world defines them, but it does lead us along a path that we do not have to walk alone. Again, Rav Shaul encourages the believers at Corinth as well as us today when he wrote,

We are hard pressed in every way, yet not crushed; perplexed, yet not in despair; persecuted, yet not forsaken; struck down, yet not destroyed… Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. For our trouble, light and momentary, is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison… (2 Corinthians 4:8 & 16-18)

The very fact that there are bumps and detours on our journey through life, even when we are attempting to follow the plans and purposes of ADONAI as we understand them, does not mean that He is not in control of our situations or not with us. A few years ago, Rabbi David Hoffman, Vice Chancellor of Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, gave a drash on this parasha. He concluded, “…God is ultimately unknowable. We will never be able to understand how God works in the world. Now with the great humility this knowledge must engender we are asked to commit ourselves to God none the less.” **

In the late 60s, composer Joe South wrote a song, which was made famous by country singer Lynn Anderson, entitled Rose Garden. The words of the chorus could well be spoken by the Almighty to each of us.

I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine there’s got to be a little rain sometimes
When you take you got to give so live and let live or let go
I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden. ***

We do have the promise from our Messiah, Yeshua, that if we “…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own,” (Matthew 6:33-34).

Shabbat Shalom

  • 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.

** last accessed on 10 January 2019

*** last accessed on 11 January 2019

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