Parashah 15: Bo (Go)

Parashah 15: Exodus 10:1-13:16

Adonai said to Moshe, ‘Go to Pharaoh, for I have made him and his servants hardhearted, 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 all know that I am Adonai.’ Moshe and Aharon went in to Pharaoh and said to him, “Here is what Adonai, God of the Hebrews, says: ‘How much longer will you refuse to submit to me? Let my people go, so that they can worship me’” (Exodus 10:1-2).

This parashah is entitled Bo.  In Hebrew, bo has two meanings: Go and Come.  As Yahweh continues to judge Egypt, He is preparing Pharaoh to tell the Israelites to “Go” while also preparing the Israelites to “Come” to Him.   This parashah describes the last three judgments on Egypt and ends with Passover (Pesach).

Locusts, Locusts, Locusts – Plague 8

“Moshe and Aaron went into Pharaoh and said to him, ‘Here is what Yahweh, God of the Hebrews says, ‘How much longer will you refuse to submit to me?  Let my people go, so that they can worship me.  Otherwise, if you refuse to let my people go, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory.  One won’t be able to see the ground, so completely will the locusts cover it.  They will eat anything that you still have that escaped the hail, including every tree you have growing in the field.  They will fill your houses and those of your servants and all the Egyptians” (Exodus 10:3-6).

The judgment of the seventh plague is against three of Egypt’s gods: Set, Anubis, and Osiris.  Set, the god of storms and disorder is depicted as an animal with a curved snout, long, rectangular ears, a forked tail, and dog-like body.  He held a scepter which set him apart as a ruler over Egypt except that he had no power over the eastern wind that brought locusts and disorder to the land.

Anubis,  the jackal-headed god associated with death and embalming weighed the heart of a deceased person using an ostrich feather to determine its place in the afterlife.  He also protected the fields.  Under his watch, every fruit tree along with its fruit was devoured.  His power had been quenched by the Elohim of Isra’el.  Anubis’ authority over the ‘heart’ of a man was also being challenged by Yahweh’s ability to harden Pharaoh’s heart.  Pharaoh’s servants, not Anubis, had begun to weigh their leader’s heart and found it lacking when it came to the lives and land of his nation.

Osiris, the central figure in the ‘Order of the Morning Star,’ is the god of the afterlife, underworld and the dead.  Osiris also taught the Egyptians about farming.  He is depicted with green skin, a beard, and legs partially wrapped like a mummy.   He wore a crown with two large ostrich feathers and held a crook and flail.  With no green thing left in Egypt because of locusts, it became clear that Osiris had been defeated by Yahweh

The day after the plague of hail and fire, Pharaoh learns that locusts will cover his land.  There will be so many locusts that they will eat what the hail and fire had not destroyed.  They will fill the houses from Pharaoh’s palace to the average Egyptian.  With the prospect of this plague, Pharaoh’s servants begin to rebel against him and offer their own advice, “Let the people go and worship Adonai their God.  Don’t you understand yet that Egypt is being destroyed?” (Exodus 10:7)  

Pharaoh considers what his servants have said and calls Moshe and Aaron.  He tells them they may go worship Elohim; however he wants to know who is actually leaving with them.  Moshe explains that the Israelites will take everyone,  their young and old, their sons and daughters, their flocks and herds.

Pharaoh  responds with mockery and disgust. “Adonai will certainly be with you if I ever let you go with your children.  It’s clear that you are up to no good. Nothing doing!  Just the men among you may go and worship Adonai” (Exodus 10:11). 

The plague arrived by an east wind that blew on Egypt all day and night.  In the morning, the locusts invaded more severely than ever before or would ever be again.  They completely covered the ground so that it looked black.  They ate every plant growing from the ground and all the fruit on the trees left by hail.  Nothing green remained, not a tree nor a plant in the field in all of Egypt.

Pharaoh’s response: ”I have sinned against Adonai your God and against you.  Now, therefore, please forgive my sin just this once; and intercede with Adonai your God, so that he will at least take away from me this deadly plague!” (Exodus 10:17)

Pharaoh calls Moshe and Aaron and confesses that he has sinned against the Elohim of Isra’el.   He  asks them to intercede for him as his gods have no power.  Yahweh reverses the wind and it blows from the west so forcefully that it drives the locusts into the Sea so that not one locust remained on Egyptian soil.

“But Yahweh made Pharaoh hardhearted, and he didn’t let the people of Isra’el go” (Exodus 10:20).

Darkness, Darkness, Darkness – Plague 9

“Adonai said to Moshe, ‘Reach out your hand toward the sky, and there will be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness so thick it can be felt!’” (Exodus 10:21)

The judgment of the eighth plague is against Ra, the Egyptian god of the sun.   He is depicted as a man with the head of a hawk and had a sun disc or sun halo over his head with a coiled serpent.  It is from Ra that catholicism puts halos or shooting rays of the sun on the heads of their ‘saints’ or gods.  Ra was worshipped by the Egyptians as the supreme creator.  Yahweh proved the sun god was no match for the deep darkness in the souls of the Egyptians. They spent three days and three nights in the tomb of death’s abyss. 

Pharaoh receives no warning for this judgment. As soon as Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, Yahweh tells Moshe to reach his hand out to the sky.  A darkness that could be felt covered the entire land of Egypt for three days.  It was so dark that the Egyptians couldn’t see anything. No one could go anywhere for three days.  But in Goshen,  all the people of Isra’el had light in their homes.

Pharaoh’s response: “Go, worship Adonai, only leave your flocks and herds behind – take your children with you” (Exodus 10:24).

Pharaoh permits the Israelites to leave and take their children with them; however, they must leave their flocks and herds behind.  This is not a sufficient response for Moshe who reminds Pharaoh that in order to worship Yahweh, they will need their animals for sacrifice.

“But Adonai made Pharaoh hardhearted, and he would not let them go.  Pharaoh said to them, ‘Get away from me!  And you have better not see my face again, because the day you see my face, you will die!’” (Exodus 10:28)

Pharaoh prophesies.  He doesn’t realize that his own words will come back on him.  Moshe responds, “Well spoken!  I will see your face no more!” (Exodus 10:29)

Death of the Firstborn – Plague 10

“Moshe said, ‘Here is what Adonai says: ‘About midnight I will go out into Egypt,  and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt will die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh sitting on his throne to the firstborn of the slave-girl at the hand mill, and all the firstborn of the livestock. There will be a horrendous wailing throughout all the land of Egypt — there has never been another like it, and there never will be again.  But not even a dog’s growl will be heard against any of the people of Isra’el, neither against people nor against animals. In this way you will realize that Yahweh distinguishes between Egyptians and Isra’el.  All your servants will come down to me, will prostrate themselves before me and say, Get out! — You and all the people who follow you!’ and after that, I will go out!’ And he went out from Pharaoh in the heat of anger” (Exodus 11:4-8)

The tenth last and final judgment is against Pharaoh, the god over all Egypt. He is given a prophetic warning about what is going to happen in his land and even to him.  From the firstborn of Pharaoh to the firstborn of the slave girl to the firstborn of all the livestock, all the firstborns in Egypt will die. 

To understand the seriousness of the final plague, it is important understand the hierarchy in Egypt. The firstborn had absolute power within the family unit.  Pharaoh was the firstborn of a firstborn and through this birthright he came into power.  The judgment against the firstborn was a strong attack against a cultural system where the oldest ruled over the younger and lower class people needed slaves to control and dominate.

Selah

Moshe leaves Pharaoh’s presence ‘hot with anger.’

The Destroyer

The focus switches from Pharaoh and Egypt to Yahweh’s people, Isra’el.  Moshe and Aaron are no longer messengers to Pharaoh, but prophets to the Hebrews. Through them Yahweh prepares His people for His Pesach and their ultimate deliverance from Egypt.   He begins by sanctifying time. 

“You are to begin your calendar with this month; it will be the first month of the year for you” (Exodus 12:1).

Beginning with a new moon, Yahweh’s calendar would begin.  There are some who teach the timing of this new moon with the barley being ripe or aviv, but all the barley had been destroyed in Egypt would not have been a credible marker.  Along with the moon, Yahweh set the sun and stars in the heavens as signs to mark His holy seasons or mo’edim.  As an agricultural community, the Hebrews would have understood the new month began with the first new moon with the proper constellations in place.  Once the new month was established, they could begin counting the days, sunset to sunset.

“Speak to all the assembly of Isra’el and say, ‘On the tenth day of this month, each man is to take a lamb or kid for his family, one per household — except that if the household is too small for a whole lamb or kid, then he and his next-door neighbor should share one, dividing it in proportion to the number of people eating it” (Exodus 12:3-4)

Each family was to take a lamb from their flock and keep the animal until the fourteenth day of the month when the entire community was to slaughter it at dusk.  They were to take some of the blood and smear it with hyssop on the sides and top of the door frame at the entrance to the house where the family would eat the lamb.   It was to be roasted in the fire and served with matzah (unleavened bread) and maror (bitter herbs).  Nothing was to remain until morning, leftovers were to be burned up (Exodus 4:6-10).

By smearing the blood on the two sides of the door and the top of the door frame, they created the Hebrew letter chet.  The word picture is a ‘fence’ and symbolizes ‘protection in the inner chamber.’    Chet is also the first letter in the word chaim meaning ‘life.’

Hebrew Word Pictures

Life or chai – חיchet, yod

inner room protects like a fence from the hand

“Sprinkle me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:9).

Hyssop is a Biblical herb that is part of the mint family.  It is used for cleansing holy places and objects.  It comes from the Hebrew word ezob which means ‘holy herb.‘ Moshe uses hyssop to sprinkle the ‘blood of the covenant’ on the book of Torah (Exodus 24:8).  Hyssop (translated oregano leaves) was used to bring vinegar to Yeshua mouth when he was on the cross (John 19:29).  Today, hyssop grows wildly between the stones on what is known as the Western Wall in Jerusalem.   This herb was used to spread the lamb’s blood on the doorposts and lintel of individual homes  symbolizing they would be finally cleansed from all the filth and defilement they encountered while living in Egypt.

The Israelites were also told how to eat the meal and what to wear. They were to have their belt fastened, shoes on their feet and their staff in hand.  They were to eat quickly.

“For that night, I will pass through the land of Egypt and kill all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both men and animals, and I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt.  I am Adonai.  The blood will serve you as a sign marking the houses where you are; when I see the blood, I will pass over you–when I strike the land of Egypt, the death blow will not strike you” (Exodus 10:12-13).

In the movie, “The Ten Commandments,” the ‘angel of death‘ passes over Egypt.  However, Yahweh Himself is the one going to execute the judgment of death.  It won’t be an angel, but Yahweh Himself.  He will be the Destroyer or mashkhit.  This is not a person, but an attribute of Yahweh’s power.  It is actually in a verb form, not a noun,  and means ‘that which causes destruction.  Mashkhit is also used for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and in reference to the “lion who would destroy the nations,” or Yeshua (Jeremiah 4:7).   When the Mashkhit sees the blood on the house,  He will pesach or pass over that house because it has the ‘protection of life.’

There were several reasons for Yahweh’s Pesach. He wanted to once and for all time judge the gods of Egypt and show their impotence.   He wanted to reveal His power over life and death to the Israelites so they would trust Him as their Deliverer.  And,  He wanted a memorial for the children who would ask questions about the meal and pass His great deliverance from one generation to the next. 

“When your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this ceremony? Say, ‘It is the sacrifice of Adonai’s Pesach because Yahweh passed over the houses of the people of Isra’el in Egypt, when he killed the Egyptians but spared our houses. The people bowed their heads and worshipped.  Then the people of Isra’el went and did as Adonai had commanded Moshe and Aaron–that is what they did” (Exodus 12:25-28). 

“On that day you are to tell your son, ‘It is because of what Adonai did for me when I left Egypt.  Moreover it will serve as a sign on your hand and as a reminder between your eyes, so that Adonai’s Torah may be on your lips, because with a strong hand Yahweh brought you out of Egypt.  Therefore, you are to observe this regulation at its proper time, year after year’” (Exodus 13:8-11).

The traditional Pesach seder was developed to insure the memorial celebration. Within the hagadah (the telling), a small child asks four questions about the night and why it’s different from all other nights.  The father answers the questions by explaining what Yahweh did when He delivered their ancestors out of Egypt.  Each of the items on the seder (order) plate are a reminder to the eyes and the mouth. 

Yahweh’s Pesach was more than just delivering the Hebrews from sin.  It was about redemption, ‘buying back’ His treasured possession from Egypt.  Though the sign of the blood kept the Israelites alive, the Pesach was the execution of the prophecy to Abraham, bringing Yahweh’s people out from 400 years of slavery in a culture of death back to the Promised Land.

At midnight on the fourteenth day of the month, by the light of the full moon, Yahweh kills all the firstborn of Egypt from the firstborn of Pharaoh to the firstborn of the prisoner in the dungeon to the firstborn of the livestock.  Pharaoh is awakened by horrendous wailing as every house in Egypt had someone die.  Reeling from the cloud of death, the Egyptians wanted the Israelites out of their land as quickly as possible.  They didn’t want Yahweh to kill them too.

Pharaoh called for Moshe and Aaron during the night and said, “Bo.”

Pharaoh’s Response:  “Up and leave my people, both you and the people of Isra’el; and go, serve Adonai as you said.  Take both your flocks and your herds, as you said; and get out of here!  But bless me, too!” (Exodus 12:31-32)

Pharaoh does not admit his sin nor does he repent of it. He has hardened his heart against Yahweh. He has not listened to the cries of his people or the wisdom of his servants. He has still not accepted his humanity versus the deity and power of Yahweh Elohim.  In arrogance, Pharaoh requests a blessing.

Pharaoh has not willingly submitted to Yahweh’s command to let Isra’el go.  In his sorrow at the loss of his first born, he succumbs, but soon after the Israelites leave Egypt, he is arrogantly chasing them down.  He has cursed Abraham’s children and has brought the curse upon himself, his family and his nation.  The curse is not the ‘fat of the land,’ but the destruction of the land.  Blessings are only bestowed upon the obedient and Pharaoh has not been obedient.

The First Mo’ed – Pesach

“This Pesach 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” (Exodus 12:14).

The Hebrews have hope for the first time in four centuries.  They have been given a calendar created byYahweh Himself.   On this calendar,  two dates were circled: one for bringing an animal into their house and another for slaughtering and eating it.  Though the Pesach will be a one-time deliverance from Egypt, it will be remembered perpetually.  They aren’t going to remain as slaves or be destroyed by Pharaoh; they will become and remain for all time, through all their generations, the nation of Isra’el (Jeremiah 33:19-22). 

“This is the regulation for the Pesach lamb; no foreigner [non-Jew] is to eat it.  But if anyone has a slave he bought for money, when you have circumcised him, he may eat it.  Neither a traveler nor a hired servant may eat it.  It is to be eaten in one house.  You are not to take any of the meat outside the house , and you are not to break any of its bones.  The whole community of Isra’el is to keep it.  If a foreigner staying with you wants to observe Adonai’s  Pesach, all his males must be circumcised.  Then he may take part and observe it; he will be like a citizen of the land.  But not uncircumcised person is to eat it.  The same teaching is to apply equally to the citizen and to the foreigner living among you” (Exodus 12:43-49).

Yahweh gives regulations about Pesach for foreigners and slaves who desire to take part in the memorial as many Egyptians have come to be god-fearers.  A slave or a foreigner living among the people must become a citizen of the nation of Isra’el through circumcision.  No uncircumcised person may take part in Pesach, including uncircumcised Israelites.

According to Yahweh, circumcision and the faith that is symbolizes is necessary for becoming a citizen of the land.  It was not about converting to Judaism as was the situation with the Galatians.  The circumcision of conversion creates the burden of following manmade regulations and traditions that do not require faith.  The circumcision of Yahweh allows the slave and foreigner to take part in His mo’edim with His people as one who is adopted into His family.   For Yahweh, circumcision is not a religious act,  it is a sign of the faith covenant He made with Abraham through which all nations are blessed.  Signs are very important to Yahweh;   the ‘sign of the lamb’s blood made the difference between life and death.

Yeshua and Pesach

On the night of Yeshua’s betrayal, he celebrates a Pesach seder with his disciples.   The evening begins as every seder does with a memorial to the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt.  However, as his seder progresses, Yeshua uses the two of the cups of wine and the matzah to renew the marriage covenant that had been broken by the Israelites in the wilderness.  The disciples share the first cup of wine, the Cup of Sanctification,  sanctifying them as Yeshua’s betrothed bride.  As with every Jewish marriage betrothal, there was a bride price.  Yeshua takes the second cup of wine, the Cup of Redemption, and explains the bride price will be his broken body and blood, his very life (Luke 22:17-20).

With anti-semitism infiltrating the minds of church fathers in the first centuries, the Pesach seder was reduced to a short ceremony called ‘communion.’   It was no longer used to teach children about Yahweh’s historic deliverance of Isra’el from slavery.  It even lost the fullness of the message Yeshua offered those who would trust in Him: a betrothal,  a bride price, and the hope of a marriage feast with him in his coming Kingdom.

To understand the true purpose of Pesach, it is important to keep it as Yahweh commanded the Israelites and the foreigners who joined with them. It was to be a  perpetual mo’ed throughout the generations of Isra’el, not just until the Messiah came.

Sha’ul, the apostle to the foreigners to the covenant,  tells the Corinthians, a gentile congregation to “celebrate the Pesach Seder.” It is the way followers of Yeshua show forth his death until he comes again, not that his death ended the celebration.  A proper and complete Pesach seder in purity and truth as a memorial to Messiah’s work on the cross will unveil the eyes of the Jewish people and their covenant relationship will be restored through Yeshua.

“Get rid of the old chametz [leaven], so that you can be a new batch of dough, because in reality you are unleavened. For our Pesach lamb, the Messiah, has been sacrificed. So let us celebrate the [Pesach] Seder not with leftover chametz [leaven], the chametz of wickedness and evil, but with the matzah of purity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8). 

The Second Mo’ed – Matzah

“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” (Exodus 12:17-18).

Pesach is bound to matzah or unleavened bread through the exodus from Egypt.  Both memorials include the removal of chametz from the house and eating bread without leaven.  Chametz is literally ‘soured dough.’  In ancient times, leavening was done through a starter dough called chamtez.  Some of this starter dough or ‘soured dough’ was mixed with flour creating a leavened dough.  More flour was added to the sour dough starter to keep it alive for the next use.  By removing the chametz from their homes, the Israelites were literally throwing away the ‘lump of dough’ and had to eat unleavened bread for seven days until they could make a new starter ((1 Corinthians 5:7).

During the seven days of Matzah, the Israelites were to eat only unleavened bread.  This would remind them of how quickly they left Egypt.

“They baked matzah loaves from the dough they had brought out of Egypt, since it was unleavened; because they had been driven out of Egypt without time to prepare supplies for themselves” (Exodus 12:39).

Like Pesach, Matzah is a perpetual regulation to be celebrated from generation to generation because it is the memorial to the exact day the Israelites were set free from Egyptian slavery.  It is also the exact day that Isra’el had entered Egypt 430 years earlier with Jacob and his family of 70.  Through the blessing of Yahweh, the nation had grown to 600,000 men, not including women and children.  The festival of Matzah marked the end of the prophecy given to Abraham that his descendants would be enslaved in a foreign land for 400 years.

“All the people of Isra’el did just as Adonai had ordered Moshe and Aharon. 51 On that very day, Adonai brought the people of Isra’el out of the land of Egypt by their divisions” (Exodus 12:50-51).

Pidyon Ha-ben – Redemption of the Firstborn

“Set aside for me all the firstborn.  Whatever is firstborn from the womb among the people of Isra’el, both of humans and of animals belongs to me. …When Adonai  brings you into the land of Canaan, … and gives it to you, you are to set apart for Adonai everything that is first from the womb.  Every firstborn male animal will belong to Adonai.  Every firstborn from a donkey, you are to redeem with a lamb, but if you choose not to redeem it, you must break its neck.  But from people, you are to redeem every firstborn son” (Exodus 13:1,11-13).

Because Yahweh protected the firstborn of the Israelites, they became His possession and needed to be redeemed back to their families.  In order to redeem the lives of their firstborn animals, the Israelites needed to sacrifice a lamb.  If they didn’t want to redeem the animal, they were to break its neck.  Firstborn sons of the Israelites were also redeemed with a lamb. In the wilderness, Yahweh takes possession of the tribe of Levi in place of the Israelites’ firstborn sons. The difference between the number of Israelite firstborns and the Levites were ‘bought back’ for 5 shekels of silver each (Numbers 3:40-51).

“With a strong hand Adonai brought us out of Egypt, out of the abode of slavery.  When Pharaoh was unwilling to let us go, Adonai killed all the firstborn males in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of humans and the firstborn of animals.  That is why I sacrifice to Adonai any male that is first from the womb of an animal, but all the firstborn of my sons, I redeem.  This will serve as a sign on your hand and at the front of a headband around your forehead that with a strong hand Yahweh brought us out of Egypt” (Exodus 13:14:16).

Yeshua, the Firstborn

“He will call to me, ‘You are my father, my God, the Rock of my salvation.’ I will give him the position of firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. I will keep my grace for him forever,

and in my covenant be faithful with him’” (Psalm 89:27-29).

“When the time came for their purification according to the Torah of Moshe, they took him up to Yerushalayim to present him to Adonai (as it is written in the Torah of Adonai, ‘Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to Adonai’ and also to offer a sacrifice of a pair of doves or two young pigeons, as required by the Torah of Adonai’” (Luke 2:22-24).

“Grace and shalom to you from the One who is, who was and who is coming; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne; and from Yeshua the Messiah, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the earth’s kings” (Revelation 1:5).

“Also he [Yeshua] is head of the Body, the Messianic Community — he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might hold first place in everything. For it pleased God to have his full being live in his Son and through his Son to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace through him, through having his Son shed his blood by being executed on a stake” (Colossians 1:18-20).

Haftarah (Readings of the Prophets)

2 Kings 23:23

Ezra 6:19

B’rit Chadashah (New Testament Readings)

Luke 2:22-24

Luke 22:14-15

John 19:31-37

Acts 13:16-17

Hebrews 11:28 

Midrash Bo: Pesach Seder

The traditional Passover seder plate has a lamb shank bone, horse radish, a mixture of apples and nuts, salt water, parsley, and matzah.  Discuss how these items point to Yeshua.  If you have never celebrated a seder, click here.

.©2013 Tent Stake Ministries

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