Last week’s Torah portion was from Exodus 6 -9 called “Va’era meaning “And I appeared” . In a Nutshell God reveals Himself to Moses in the burning bush as “I AM” and tells him by employing the “four expressions of redemption that He will,” bring out the Children of Israel from Egypt, deliver and save them from their enslavement, redeem them, and take them to Himself as His own chosen people, He will then bring them into the land He promised to the Patriarchs as their eternal heritage.
The four expressions of redemption represented at the Passover Seder by the Four Cups of wine relate to the four aspects of their liberation from Egypt:
1) “I will bring them out”
2) “I will save them”
3) “I will redeem them”
4) “I will take them to Myself as a nation, and I will be their God”— This is God’s blueprint for our Salvation, too!
Last week’s Torah ends with Ex. 9:27 and 34 read “Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. “This time I have sinned,” he said, to them. “The Lord is in the right and I and my people are in the wrong” but as soon as the plague is over he changed his mind and I quote “Pharaoh saw that the rain, hail and the thunder had ceased, and he hardened his heart, he and his officials."
This week’s Torah portion is from Exodus 10 – 13 called “Bo” meaning “Come” or “Go”..
There is a fascinating moment in the stories of the plagues that should make us stop and take notice. Seven plagues have struck Egypt and the people are suffering. Several times Pharaoh seems to soften only to harden his heart again. During the seventh plague of hail, he even admits his mistake.
Now Moses and Aaron tell Pharaoh about a devastating plague of locusts that will devastate the crops and fruit trees.
Now we hear something that we have never heard before.
10 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 2 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.”
The word “sign” here in Hebrew is made up of three Hebrew letters The Aleph, (meaning the oneness of God) the Vav (the nails) and the Tav (the cross). Therefore the word “sign” means “My God nailed to the cross.”
Pharaoh’s own advisers tell him that he is making a mistake. I quote “Pharaohs officials said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God. Do you not yet realise that Egypt is ruined?” Ex 10:7
Those words immediately transform the situation. This is one of the first recorded instances of how a lack of good sense and foolishness happens in government, even in big business and in our own lives.
Pharaoh is a deeply conservative man, charged with maintaining the longest living empire in the ancient world and not allowing it to be, as it were, undermined by change. What was he thinking? Let slaves go free and who knows what will happen next! Royal authority will seem to have been defeated; fractures that appear in the political structure of the seemingly unshakeable edifice of power, will seem to have been shaken, and that, for those who fear change, is the beginning of the end.
Under those circumstances you can see why Pharaoh would refuse to listen to his advisers. They were weak in his view giving in to pressure. That any sign of weakness in leadership only leads to more pressure and more capitulation. It is better to be strong and continue to say “no” and just endure one more plague.
We tend to see Pharaoh as both wicked and foolish. His advisers could see clearly, he was leading his people into disaster but he may well have felt he was just being strong while they were being fearful.
But it is Pharaoh who is portrayed as operating in foolishness and utter folly, not listening to his own advisers; he just couldn’t admit that the world had changed and he needed to shift into a whole new era. Enslavement of others against their will is an assault on human dignity and was no longer tolerated. The old way no longer worked. The empire over which he was presiding was growing old and the more obstinate he became, the closer he was to bringing tragedy upon his own people.
Knowing how to listen to advice, how to respond to change, and when to admit you are wrong, remain three of the most difficult tasks of leadership. Rejecting advice, refusing to change and refusing to admit you are wrong may look like strength to some, but is in fact the road to folly and foolishness and disaster strikes! And it did with the Plague of the Death of the Firstborn.
Exodus 11 Reads: “Now the Lord had said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely. 2 Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold.” 3 (The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.)
God instructed Moses to take a lamb, kill it and sprinkle its blood on the doorways of their homes so that as the Angel of Death Passed over Egypt, he would see the blood on their door posts and Passover. It was a lamb for a household.
God now made The Passover the beginning of the Hebraic Year called Nissan and gave detailed instructions how the Passover Lamb should be taken and killed and the blood placed on the doorposts of the houses, followed by the eating of the unleavened bread.
At midnight, in a most solemn account, the Lord smote the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from Pharaoh on his throne to the captive in his dungeon, as well as the firstborn of all the cattle. In that very night the Egyptians urged the Israelites to leave, thrusting their gold and silver upon them, six hundred thousand men...aside from children. And a mixed multitude also went up with them (Exodus. 12:37,38) of those who had married Egyptians. Every Israelite from that day forward, was commanded to teach the meaning of this Passover to his children.
Now the blood on the door post was a “sign” to the angel of death to Passover the house and was not daubed on any old how. The word “sign” in Hebrew here is different to the word given to Moses for Pharaoh. This time it is made up of two Hebrew letters - The Aleph is the first letter of the alphabet (meaning the oneness of God) and the Tav is the last letter of the alphabet – shaped like a cross in ancient Hebrew). Therefore, the sign blood represents “The Alpha and Omega” – the blood of Almighty God on the door posts.
According to the Rabbi’s in Chabad Ministries, The blood was painted on the door posts in the shape of the Hebrew letter “Chet”. Not a little bit this side, a little bit that side and a bit above the doorway…. No! It was very specific. The 8th letter of the Hebrew alphabet called a “chet”, is a symbol of a doorway and is shaped like a doorway. It looks like this: “חַ”
It has a value of 8 and 8 transcends a level that is beyond the natural order. “Chet” means everlasting life – not just Life. L’chaim! But everlasting Life. 8 represents the Messianic age and is also the number for grace and wisdom. “Chet” is the letter for “light”. The sides of the “Chet” that make up the letter are called “Vavs” which means the “nails” or tent pegs. The word Light refers to the “light that ascends” or returns to God”. Therefore, the blood on the doorposts means Life not death and means “The doorway of life and light from heaven”. 8 is also the number of new beginnings and Jesus resurrected on the 8th day portraying “resurrected life.”
The word “sin” begins with the letter “Chet”. Jesus became sin who knew no sin. 2 Cor 5:21. In this letter “Chet” the connecting line above the two “vavs” is called a zayin which means “Yoke” – “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” We are yoked with The Light. I have never made this connection before.
With faith in Jesus through the Cross, we pass over from death to life just as the angel of death passed over the doorways of the Hebrews in Egypt and saw the Blood of the Lamb on the doorposts and passed over sustaining life and not bringing death.
Centuries later when John the Baptist would meet Jesus of Nazareth at the River Jordan, his announcement was, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29), and that would be understood by every Hebrew present.
At The Passover feast there would have been four cups of wine on the table representing (1) the coming out; (2) the cup of salvation; (3) the cup of Redemption; and (4) the cup celebrating coming into the Promised Land. Sometimes it is 4 separate cups of wine or one cup filled 4 times.
On the night He was betrayed, Jesus celebrated Passover with His disciples, and took the third Cup of Redemption which traditionally signifies the slaying of the Passover lamb that spared the Israelites from the 10th plague of the slaying of the first born. This cup traditionally remembers how the Lord redeems Israel with an outstretched arm.
Therefore, it is so very poignant when Jesus tells His disciples that the wine in this cup is “My blood of the New Covenant, which is poured out for you for forgiveness of sins.” This was to be a perpetual memorial to remember to abstain from anything and everything which causes defilement in our lives.
The Passover is clearly the anticipation of the Cross of Christ where the judgment of God fell on Jesus Yeshua in our place. “For the Lord had placed on Him the iniquity of us all. Only those who receive Jesus as LORD “YHVH” Yud Hei Vav Hei meaning (Behold the hands, behold the nails) are (1) brought out, (2) saved, (3) redeemed and (4) brought into the loving arms of Yeshua/Jesus by the Blood of the Lamb.
Following the Passover is the feast of unleavened bread described in chapter 13 reflecting the sinless nature of Jesus.
Jesus said “I am the light of the world” “I am the way, the truth and the life”, ‘I am the door” – “no man comes to the Father but by Me.” Through the power in the blood, through the forgiveness and healing in the blood, we are redeemed in the life giving “Blood of the Passover Lamb” who takes away the sins of the world” a “sign” Aleph: Vav: Tav: “My God nailed to the cross” Yeshua HaMashiach Jesus Messiah.
Notes taken from a teaching by Rabbi Sacks on Political Leadership
The Torah Portion “Bo” In a Nutshell Chabad.org
Notes taken from El Shaddai Ministries The Feast of Passover
Notes taken from The Living Word on the “Blood on the Door posts”.