G-d tells Moses to inform the Jewish people that He is going to take them out of Egypt, however, the Jewish people do not listen. G-d commands Moses to go to Pharaoh and ask him to free the Jewish people. Although Aaron shows Pharaoh a sign by turning a staff into a snake, Pharaoh’s magicians copy the sign, emboldening Pharaoh to refuse the request.
G-d punishes the Egyptians and sends plagues of blood and frogs, but the magicians copy these miracles on a smaller scale, again encouraging Pharaoh to be obstinate. After the plague of lice, Pharaoh’s magicians concede that only G-d could be performing these miracles. Only the Egyptians, and not the Jews in Goshen, suffer during the plagues.
The onslaught continues with wild animals, pestilence, boils and fiery hail. However, despite Moshe’s offers to end the plagues if Pharaoh will let the Jewish People leave, Pharaoh continues to harden his heart and refuses to do so.
MAFTIR Exodus 9:33 – 35 ~ page 244
HAFTORAH Ezekiel 28:25 – 29:21 ~ pages 244 – 247
Speaking to the Babylonian exiles (with whom he had been deported in 597 B.C.E.), Ezekiel foresees their restoration to the Holy Land where they will live in safety. In 587 B.C.E., he warns Zedekiah, king of Judah, not to rely on an alliance with Egypt against Babylon. Applying the metaphor of the crocodile – the symbol of Egypt – the prophet declares that it will be dragged out of the river and become an easy prey to “the beasts of the earth and to the fowls of the heaven”. Egypt will be laid waste by the enemy and its inhabitants scattered among the nations. At the end of forty years, Egypt would be restored, but only as an inferior nation. (The prophecy against Egypt provides the link with the Sidra.) In a later prediction, (570 B.C.E.) Ezekiel names Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon as the invader of Egypt and adds that after this confirmation of his prophecy, the people of Israel will believe in his teachings and recognize the power of the Lord.
Parashah Study Questions
1. Why does the Torah repeatedly refer to Pharaoh as “Melech Mitzrayim” (íéøöî êìî) the king of Egypt”. He is not king, he’s the Pharaoh (6:11, 6:13)!
2. What are the two reasons why the blood was chosen as the first plague (7:17, 8:17)?
3. Why didn’t the wild beasts die as the frogs had (8:27)? What life lesson do we learn from this?
4. Have you seen the new movie “Exodus”? Who is better, Charleston Heston or Christian Bale? What important role and which character is missing from the newer version? What does this say about today’s generation?
5. What is a Tu B‘Shvat Seder? Why is it not more commonly observed?