PARASHAT BO (COME)
SHEMOT (EXODUS) 10:1–13:16
HAFTARAH: JEREMIAH 46:13–28
This past week, as my family and I were going through a Bible study together, we discussed the fact that the one true living God is beyond our ability to describe; He is more powerful than we humans can comprehend. In other words, as the popular saying goes, “you cannot put God in a box”. This is so important for us to understand and remember when we study God’s Word, especially when we find it difficult to comprehend why God does or does not do things the way we would like Him to. In this week’s Parasha and Haftara portions, we learn of different ways in which God will accomplish His purpose and bring His justice on people and nations.
In our Parasha, we learn of the last three signs and wonders[i] which God did in Egypt (Locusts, Darkness, and the Death of the Firstborn) as His judgment over them. When we read the story, we understand that the end result was to free Israel from Pharaoh’s slavery so that they could journey back to the Land of Promise. However, God was also doing something unmistakable where Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and the children of Israel would know that He alone is the one true God. He also gave us an incredible foretelling of the ultimate story of redemption which would be accomplished in Yeshua the Messiah.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob brought Pharaoh to his knees. Just as a reminder, Pharaoh questioned God (Exodus 5:2), yet in this week’s Parasha, we find Pharaoh himself saying to Moses and Aaron:
“Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go, worship the LORD, as you have said. Take both your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and go, and bless me also.” Exodus 12:31–32
Not only did Pharaoh acknowledge God here, but he also asks for His blessing. Talk about being humbled by the God of Israel!
In our Haftara portion, we read:
“The word which the LORD spoke to Jeremiah the prophet about the coming of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to strike the land of Egypt.”
While the Egypt of this verse is obviously not under the same Pharaoh’s rule that was during the time of Moses & Aaron, we see that God uses men to bring His judgment over Egypt. Further on in the same chapter of Jeremiah, we find an interesting connection between the Parasha and the Haftara:
The LORD of armies, the God of Israel says: “Behold, I am going to punish Amon of Thebes, and Pharaoh, and Egypt along with her gods and her kings, indeed, Pharaoh and those who trust in him.”
God’s ultimate judgment over Pharaoh, Egypt, her gods and kings was to show them, and I believe Israel and the rest of the nations including us today, that He is the One and only true God. The connection between the two portions has to do with the fact that Jeremiah also speaks judgment over the Egyptian gods.
While not explicitly written in the Parasha, it could be suggested that the signs and wonders God performed were actually specific judgments on the gods of Egypt. For example, according to Egyptian mythology, the creator of the world, Atum, came through darkness to create other gods and subsequently, human beings. When reading this, one may understand the reason that darkness was the last sign of wonder before the Death of the Firstborn. It is entirely possible that God demonstrated His authority over the false god Atum (darkness) and by doing so, refuted the entire Egyptian myth of creation with the truth of His omnipotence.
What can we learn from this? Other than the obvious truth of God’s omnipotence, we can also reflect on areas in our lives to which we’ve given space for things that are not of God. For example, there are many false beliefs being peddled in the world, many mystical stories, conspiracies, and practices that are against God. We need to first know the truth, stand on the truth, and remind others to do the same in gentle humility.
[i] In Hebrew, they are referred to as את ומופת — oht u’mufet, which literally means “sign & wonder”.
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.