This is a GREAT parasha on many fronts, including the fact that we were allowed to experience with YHWH's people the original Pesach - "Passover"! Our reading contains a continuation of the plagues YHWH sent to Egypt. If you read the portions, you saw that the final three plagues were: Locusts (Ex. 10:4, Ex. 10:12-15); Darkness (Ex. 10:21-23); Death of the Firstborn (Ex. 11). These plagues kept happening because it was YHWH's will to teach Egypt a lesson in who was really in charge!
Many people don't realize that each one of the plagues that YHWH sent upon Egypt were designed to "fly directly in the face" of the Egyptian "gods". As a matter of fact, let's take a look to see exactly what YHWH was doing....
The plagues, in order, were: Blood, frogs, lice, insects, death of livestock, sores and hail (Exodus 7:1 - 8:25); locusts (Ex. 10:4, Ex. 10:12-15); darkness (Ex. 10:21-23); death of the Firstborn (Ex. 11). These plagues kept happening because it was YHWH's will to teach Egypt a lesson in who was really in charge!
A study of the various plagues reveals some interesting facts as to why the Egyptians were so tormented by them. Interesting to note is that some of these plagues YHWH used were things that were important to the Egyptians who regarded them as gods, like the frogs. However, YHWH's power was manifest as greater than the Egyptian gods and His power was declared among the nations (Exodus 9:14, 16). The frogs were a symbol of life and fertility, and the plague caused them to become a curse to the Egyptians. Frogs are also a symbol of demons and unclean spirits.
The ancient Egyptians were extremely devout in their beliefs. They were dedicated to their gods and worshipped daily in many different ways. Their way of life revolved around these beliefs. They had a strong sense of justice and endeavored to do that which was right. Just like our society today, the common people abhorred adultery, stealing, murder and lying.
They were a highly sophisticated society with values and morals not unlike our own. Magic was commonplace for them as is demonstrated by the wearing of amulets to ward off evil. Magical texts were written in tombs to protect against would-be robbers. Many spells against snakebite had been discovered. Magical spells, rituals and concoctions were used to treat the sick or injured. If the magic did not work it was considered a will of the god, and not a failure of the magic.
The Egyptian peoples' calm acceptance of the strange, unusual events allowed them to reconcile themselves to either natural phenomena or to those things unseen. Every occurrence had spiritual meaning and had a unique god assigned to the act. Therefore they didn't wonder at these things that happened to them; they simply accepted that it was the will of the gods.
It is important to note that the Egyptian magicians were able to duplicate only two of the plagues: Blood (Exodus 7:22) and frogs (Exodus 8:3-7). It was when the magicians were NOT able to replicate the gnats or lice that they told Pharaoh "This is the finger of Elohim."
The plague of the lice is significant because the Egyptians were obsessed with cleanliness and hygiene. Remains of lice have been found in ancient tombs, as well as artifacts such as wigs, eye makeup palettes, tweezers, combs and razors. Egyptian men and women kept their heads shaved and would wear elaborate wigs because of the lice. Notice too that the plague of lice never was removed!
The plague of flies, symbolic of evil spirits, did not come near the set apart children of Israel who lived in Goshen...As a matter of fact, they had never been bothered by flies since they moved to Egypt when Joseph was "lord" of all Egypt (see Genesis 45:9; Genesis 45:10-13).
The plague of "murrain"(sores) upon the livestock was a series of highly infectious diseases, such as anthrax. Again, notice that the livestock of the children of Yisra'el were not affected. The flies were a contributing factor in the spread of the disease on the livestock, as they would bit the livestock and thus spread the disease or murrain. Boils symbolize uncleanliness - remember the Egyptians were big on hygiene! These boils caused such pain and cramping that the magicians couldn't stand or walk!
Exodus 9: 10 So they took ashes from a kiln, stood in front of Pharaoh and threw them in the air; and they became infected sores on men and animals. 11 The magicians couldn't even stand in Moshe's presence because of the sores, which were on them as well as on the other Egyptians.
The plague of hail (along with violent thunder and fire): One wonders - could the "fire" have been lightening that, up until then, they had not experienced? Yet again, we see YHWH's hand of protection upon the children of Yisra'el in the land of Goshen!
Through all this we see Pharaoh's heart hardened. The Hebrew word is chazaq - used over 300 times in the Bible. Strong's #2388: chazaq (pronounced khaw-zak') and amongst other things, means obstinate, to be strong and to withstand, but it is in the Pi'el stem, which is the intensive stem, and it means to make strong or hard. Therefore, since Pharaoh was considered a god to the Egyptian people, he was not willing to give up his "throne" and submit himself to YHWH, the King of Kings!
Locusts (Exodus 10:20): The swarm covered the sky, casting a shadow over Egypt. It consumed all the remaining Egyptian crops, leaving no tree or plant standing. Locusts breed when the ground is wet, and after the massive amount of hail, the ground would have been soaked.
This plague was directed specifically against the Egyptian god Osiris. This god was pictured as the one who manifested good and was considered "lord of lords and king of kings." The Egyptians depended on Osiris to protect them from locust swarms. This plague, brought by brought by the east wind and then removed by the west wind, proved this god to be powerless against the living Elohim of Yisra'el.
Pharaoh's officials begged him to let the Israelites go rather than suffer the devastating effects of a locust-swarm, but he was still unwilling to give in. He proposed a compromise: The Israelite men would be allowed to go, while women, children and livestock would remain in Egypt. Moses repeated YHWH's demand that every last person and animal should go, but again Pharaoh's heart was hardened and he refused to let the children of Yisra'el go.
Again, as with the preceding plagues, the gods of Egypt were silent. Makes you wonder what their worshippers thought as they saw the devastation! Where was Nepri, the god of grain? Where was Ermutet, the goddess of childbirth and crops? Isis is silent once again. Thermuthis, the goddess of fertility and the harvest was speechless. Seth, another god of crops, was also mute.
The plague of darkness (Exodus 10:21-29): This was direct attack on an Egyptian god, the god Ra, the sun god. YHWH's power was, of course, greater than those Egyptian gods and through these plagues YHWH was demonstrating the uselessness and futility of the Egyptian's worship of their pagan gods. "And Moshe stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days" The darkness made a mockery of the Egyptian god Rah - even the Egyptian magicians were powerless to replicate this plague!
Death of the firstborn (Exodus 11): The final act by YHWH of all the first born dying, all human firstborn, all animal first born - Pharaoh could no longer compete - as a god of Egypt he was defeated and afraid for his own life! When YHWH struck the Egyptian first-born dead, He was showing the Egyptians that they could do nothing against His awesome power...and we see Pharaoh finally giving in and letting the children of Yisra'el go. It seems Pharaoh was now afraid that he would be struck dead showing the people of Egypt that he was really a powerless man! YHWH showed up the Egyptian gods as useless and worthless - and we need to be very careful today to make sure we have no gods in our lives!
Shemot B. 10:2 quoted in Leibowitz says, "take you a lamb, and slaughter thereby the gods of Egypt and make the Passover." Research into ancient Egyptian sheep worship reveals this interesting tidbit: "Concerning sheep in the religious context of Egypt, the God Khnum had the head of a ram.
From the earliest beginnings of Egyptian civilization Khnum, originally the god of the source of the Nile and believed to have created all the other hundreds of gods and goddesses, was worshiped. Revered as the most important of the gods he was believed to have been self-created and it was he who made the first egg from which arose all of creation in its entirety.
The true Creator, YHWH, in one fell swoop made a mockery of and slaughtered every god the Egyptians worshiped! The above serves to bring home what YHWH says in Exodus 7:5 - "Then, when I stretch out my hand over Egypt and bring the people of Isra'el out from among them, the Egyptians will know that I am YHWH."
You may have noticed in this week's reading that a prophecy was fulfilled in Exodus 11:2-3 which refers back to what YHWH told Abraham in Genesis 15:14:
Genesis 15: 13 ADONAI said to Avram, "Know this for certain: your descendants will be foreigners in a land that is not theirs. They will be slaves and held in oppression there four hundred years. 14 But I will also judge that nation, the one that makes them slaves. Afterwards, they will leave with many possessions.
Exodus 11: 2 Now tell the people that every man is to ask his neighbor and every woman her neighbor for gold and silver jewelry." 3 ADONAI made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people. Moreover, Moshe was regarded by Pharaoh's servants and the people as a very great man in the land of Egypt.
In the Exodus, YHWH needed the Egyptians to be "predisposed" toward the people, because He needed the Israelis to have the needed material with them in the desert. Why? Because YHWH had much to teach them!
What does YHWH have them make while in the desert? The tabernacle and all its accouterments! Where else would they have gotten the materials (gold, silver, etc.) if they had not brought it with them - and gotten that from the Egyptians!
Contrasting that to the case of Joshua and the fall of Jericho, for instance, in the defeat of Jericho, YHWH has them KEEP the gold and silver for HIM (Joshua 6:24). They are not to keep the spoils FOR THEMSELVES (Joshua 6:19). But in Joshua 7, we see that some people kept for themselves what was meant to be destroyed (and they were killed for it). So, in checking "behind the scenes" to see why it was the same - the worthy materials were kept for YHWH; but it was also different because they were told to destroy the rest. In the Exodus, they took what YHWH needed, but did not destroy what was left.
Be that as it may and returning to our study, Israel managed to leave Egypt with many possessions, just as Adonai had promised Avram!
Exodus 11: 4 Moshe said, "Here is what ADONAI says: 'About midnight I will go out into Egypt, 5 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 handmill, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 6 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. 7 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 ADONAI distinguishes between Egyptians and Isra'el. (Note: That has never changed!)
8 All your servants will come down to me, 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. 9 ADONAI said to Moshe, "Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that still more of my wonders will be shown in the land of Egypt." 10 Moshe and Aharon did all these wonders before Pharaoh, but ADONAI had made Pharaoh hardhearted, and he didn't let the people of Isra'el leave his land.
Moving on to Exodus 12 we see the first Passover! Not Easter but Passover!
Please pay careful attention to what YHWH instructs His People to do FOREVER. (Remember YOU are His People - whether Jewish or Gentile background; there is no difference because we are all ONE in Messiah; see Galatians 3:28-29 and Romans 10:12-13.) And what does this indicate? That we are all to obey His "forever" commands; not just "the Jews." Remember, there were no Jews before Jacob gave life to his son Judah, where the term "Jew" originated - yet all believers had already been Torah observant, since the very beginning....
Exodus 12: 1 ADONAI spoke to Moshe and Aharon in the land of Egypt; he said, 2 "You are to begin your calendar with this month; it will be the first month of the year for you. 3 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 - 4 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. 5 Your animal must be without defect, a male in its first year, and you may choose it from either the sheep or the goats. 6 "'You are to keep it until the fourteenth day of the month, and then the entire assembly of the community of Isra'el will slaughter it at dusk.
Please note that Nisan (which was also called Aviv) is the FIRST MONTH of the Hebrew year...Which begs the question that is answered in this article: Why are there TWO new years?
Can you imagine how hard it must have been, especially for the children, to keep a lamb as a pet and then kill and eat it after four days? How much harder it must have been for YHWH to give up His own Son....
Exodus 12: 7 They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the two sides and top of the door-frame at the entrance of the house in which they eat it. 8 That night, they are to eat the meat, roasted in the fire; they are to eat it with matzah and maror. 9 Don't eat it raw or boiled, but roasted in the fire, with its head, the lower parts of its legs and its inner organs. 10 Let nothing of it remain till morning; if any of it does remain, burn it up completely.
11 "'Here is how you are to eat it: with your belt fastened, your shoes on your feet and your staff in your hand; and you are to eat it hurriedly. It is ADONAI's Pesach [Passover]. 12 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. 13 The blood will serve you as a sign marking the houses where you are; when I see the blood, I will pass over [Hebrew: pasach] you - when I strike the land of Egypt, the death blow will not strike you. 14 "'This 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.
Note He "will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt." He also executed judgment against evil in the world on the day Yeshua died and became our Final SIN OFFERING - which was on Passover! (Note, Yeshua was NOT a "sacrifice", per se, as nobody "sacrificed" him; rather, he martyred/offered himself. It was of HIS OWN doing! See our articles: which was on Passover! See Biblical feasts and Resurrection.)
As an aside, the Israelites were led out of Egypt and given physical liberation on 14 Nisan/Passover (Exodus 12:1-13) which foreshadowed Yeshua, the Passover Lamb whose death provided spiritual liberation [see Matthew, Mark, Luke and John]. Also, many of the European concentration camps were liberated on or around 14 Nisan, and Hitler committed suicide during this timeframe [April 30, 1945]. Coincidence?....
Now watch closely: In Exodus 12:16, YHWH sets up the Holy convocations - the 1st and 7th day of matzah. But not that year! For on the 15th, which is the 1st day of matzah today, for them it was the morning after the original "passover" when the first born died, so they could not observe a Holy convocation! Why? Because they were packing and moving! Indeed, they were "living" what would become our Passover Feast as YHWH decreed in Exodus 12:14!
Exodus 12: 15 "'For seven days you are to eat matzah - on the first day remove the leaven from your houses. For whoever eats hametz [leavened bread] from the first to the seventh day is to be cut off from Isra'el. (See the significance YHWH placed on this? Obedience is NOT an option! Leaven represents SIN.) 16 On the first and seventh days, you are to have an assembly set aside for God. On these days no work is to be done, except what each must do to prepare his food; you may do only that.
17 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. 18 From the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month until the evening of the twenty-first day, you are to eat matzah. 19 During those seven days, no leaven is to be found in your houses. Whoever eats food with hametz in it is to be cut off from the community of Isra'el - it doesn't matter whether he is a foreigner or a citizen of the land. 20 Eat nothing with hametz in it. Wherever you live, eat matzah.'"
Notice how YHWH keeps reiterating a few points such as eating ONLY unleavened bread during the specified times and that His People are to observe Passover from generation to generation as a PERPETUAL regulation. Eating matzah represents DOING something to commemorate the occasion! It's an act of obedience!
Why? Because he wants us to know that He is God and that HE is the one who brought His People out of Egypt. (Today "Egypt" is representative of all carnality/the nations without YHWH). We are to celebrate the Feast of Passover because YHWH brought Israel out of Egypt, along with many Egyptians/Gentiles who chose to come out with the Israelites, who were later instructed to observe His Torah exactly the same as the Israelites (Numbers 15:13-16). Note that YHWH was very specific about the specific day - the 14th day of Nisan, which is when His own Son, our Passover Lamb, would ultimately be nailed to the stake....
Exodus 12: 21 Then Moshe called for all the leaders of Isra'el and said, "Select and take lambs for your families, and slaughter the Pesach lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop leaves and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and smear it on the two sides and top of the door-frame. Then, none of you is to go out the door of his house until morning. 23 For ADONAI will pass through to kill the Egyptians; but when he sees the blood on the top and on the two sides, ADONAI will pass over the door and will not allow the Slaughterer to enter your houses and kill you. 24 You are to observe this as a law, you and your descendants forever.
Interesting that the children of Yisra'el had to apply the blood with hyssop to their doorposts...Hyssop is symbolic of purification that, along with the blood which is our redemption, we have hyssop of purification - David said in Psalm 51:7 purge me with hyssop!
YHWH also commanded the children of Yisra'el to have their loins girded, shoes on their feet and their staff in your hand. This represents our armor with which to fight haSatan; we must be ready at all times to share the truth!
NOTE: Yeshua was our Passover Lamb. He died on the 14th of Nisan, the very day YHWH caused His people to escape from the pagan Egypt, centuries before!
Exodus 12: 25 "When you come to the land which ADONAI will give you, as he has promised, you are to observe this ceremony. 26 When your children ask you, 'What do you mean by this ceremony?' 27 say, 'It is the sacrifice of ADONAI's Pesach [Passover], because [ADONAI] passed over the houses of the people of Isra'el in Egypt, when he killed the Egyptians but spared our houses.'"The people of Isra'el bowed their heads and worshipped. 28 Then the people of Isra'el went and did as ADONAI had ordered Moshe and Aharon - that is what they did.
It is important to remember that these instructions weren't "for the Jews" as Christianity insists. The Israelites in this scenario weren't "Jews"; they were "Hebrews" (which means, "to cross over.") The "people of Israel" even back then were a "mixed multitude" as many Egyptians joined the Hebrews as they made their exodus from Egypt....
Exodus 12: 29 At midnight ADONAI killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh sitting on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock. 30 Pharaoh got up in the night, he, all his servants and all the Egyptians; and there was horrendous wailing in Egypt; for there wasn't a single house without someone dead in it. 31 He summoned Moshe and Aharon by night and said, "Up and leave my people, both you and the people of Isra'el; and go, serve ADONAI as you said. 32 Take both your flocks and your herds, as you said; and get out of here! But bless me, too."
33 The Egyptians pressed to send the people out of the land quickly, because they said, "Otherwise we'll all be dead!" 34 The people took their dough before it had become leavened and wrapped their kneading bowls in their clothes on their shoulders. 35 The people of Isra'el had done what Moshe had said - they had asked the Egyptians to give them silver and gold jewelry and clothing; 36 and ADONAI had made the Egyptians so favorably disposed toward the people that they had let them have whatever they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
Note in verse 36, the prophecy from Genesis 15:13 was fulfilled!
Exodus 12: 37 The people of Isra'el traveled from Ra'amses to Sukkot, some six hundred thousand men on foot, not counting children. 38 A mixed crowd also went up with them, as well as livestock in large numbers, both flocks and herds. 39 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.
They baked matzah loaves (unleavened bread) because they didn't have time to prepare it properly. This foreshadows the time when Yeshua's coming will be "like a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5).
Exodus 12: 40 The time the people of Isra'el lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of 430 years to the day, all the divisions of ADONAI left the land of Egypt. 42 This was a night when ADONAI kept vigil to bring them out of the land of Egypt, and this same night continues to be a night when ADONAI keeps vigil for all the people of Isra'el through all their generations.
43 ADONAI said to Moshe and Aharon, "This is the regulation for the Pesach lamb: no foreigner is to eat it. 44 But if anyone has a slave he bought for money, when you have circumcised him, he may eat it. 45 Neither a traveler nor a hired servant may eat it.
Note that "no foreigner" is to partake of the Passover lamb...UNLESS they have committed themselves to YHWH, which includes the act of circumcision for males. The above shows that believing Gentiles are NOT exempt from circumcision!
Exodus 12: 46 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. (Yeshua's legs weren't broken, either - John 19:33-37.) 47 The whole community of Isra'el is to keep it. 48 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 no uncircumcised person is to eat it. 49 The same teaching is to apply equally to the citizen and to the foreigner living among you." 50 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.
Again note the above where YHWH instructs that the foreigner cannot partake of the eating of the lamb UNLESS he is circumcised! This means that he who joins to Israel also becomes subject to the laws of Israel - Torah. (See Numbers 15:13-16)
Ephesians 2: 11. Wherefore be mindful that you formerly were carnal Gentiles; and you were called the uncircumcision by that which is called the circumcision and which is the work of the hands in the flesh. 12. And you were, at that time, without the Mashiyach; and were aliens from the regulations of Israel; and strangers to the covenant of the promise;  and were without hope and without Elohim in the world. 13. But now, by Y'shua the Mashiyach, you who before were afar off, have been brought near by the blood of the Mashiyach.
 This pertains to physical circumcision alone, without Torah context/teaching.
 Greek reads "strangers to the Commonwealth of Israel". Aramaic reads "strangers to the regulations of Israel and to the covenant of the promise." YHWH identifies Israel according to their obedience to Torah as those who keep Covenant, rather than after the flesh. The Renewed Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34/Hebrews 8:8 is first made with Israel and Judah and then offered to others from the nations who choose to live in obedience to the Covenant.
Furthermore, in a very interesting admission, translator John Wesley Etheridge translates duboree d'Aisrayl here as "polity of Israel" but adds in his footnotes regarding this phrase, "the manners, or regulations, of Israel." In other words, he is looking at the nations' divorcement from the intricate rules of Israel and not some obscure moral distillation of Torah, as a bad thing! This reading even goes beyond my own rendering of "citizenship of Israel" but I believe the point is the same. If the Ephesians are citizens of Israel, then they are subject to her "regulations" as well!
Isn't it ironic also, that YHWH warned Pharaoh about what would happen if he didn't heed and let YHWH's people go. Pharaoh was not unlike those in "the world" today are also are not paying attention to the warning signs and Yeshua's warning:
Revelation 22: 13. I am Alap and the Taw, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the Completion. 14. Blessed are they who do His (Master YHWH's) Mitzvot, that they may have a right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city. 15. Without (will be) dogs and sorcerers, and whoremongers and manslayers and idolaters, and everyone that loves and does falsehood. 16. I Y'shua have sent my Messenger to testify to you these things before the assemblies. I am the root and offspring of Dawid: like the splendid star of the morning. 17. And the Spirit and the bride say, You come. And let him that hears, say, You come. And let him who thirsts, come; and he that is inclined, let him take the living water freely.
18. I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, that if anyone will add to them, Elohim will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. 19. And if anyone will take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, Elohim will take away his portion from the tree of life and from the Set Apart city, which are described in this book. 20. He who testifies these things, says: Yes, I come quickly. Amen. Come, Lord Y'shua!
Note: Very important! Y'shua is talking! so these are YHWH's Mitzvot (Commandments), not his. This is also the original reading in Revelation. The "wash your robes" line in verse 14 in many of today's translations was substituted later, as a way to downplay the obvious pro-Torah message at the end of the NT. This is, in effect, the last speech Y'shua gives to the world. There are actually two ancient Greek witnesses that are split on the matter, and one may have arisen as a scribal error between "poiountes tas entolas" (do his commandments) and "plunontes tas stolas" (wash their robes).
It is very important to note that Exodus 13:9 in this parashah reminds us of how adamant YHWH is about the obedience to His TORAH...and the "written Torah" hadn't even been given yet- which totally negates the claim of those who insist there was no Torah before it was written down! Take a look:
Exodus 13: 9 "Moreover, it will serve you 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 ADONAI brought you out of Egypt.
Torah commands have been around since the beginning, in the Garden of Eden when YHWH commanded Adam not to eat the "fruit" of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil....