Parashat Ve’eira (And I Appeared)

Shemot (Exodus) 6:2-9:35

In my most recent blog entry, I wrote that our faithful God heard the cry of the Children of Israel, and He remembered His covenant that He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He saw their terrible situation, and in His perfect time, He began the process of redeeming His people and delivering them from slavery.

Our weekly portion this week starts with a wonderful reminder of what was written above: “God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them. “And I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned. “And furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage; and I have remembered My covenant. “Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. ‘Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. ‘And I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the LORD.’”” Exodus 6:2-8

In this Scripture portion, God speaks to Moses. The first thing He tells him is, “I am the Lord”, which is a reminder that He indeed is the One and Only Almighty God, the One who was, who is, and who is to come. It is also very significant that He reveals to Moses His sacred name, יהוה (Yod Hai Vav Hai), which He did not reveal when He appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Why did God only now decide to introduce Himself by this sacred name?

This marks a shift in the way God deals with the Children of Israel; by revealing to Moses His name, then reminding Moses of the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and then repeating all that HE would do (“I will bring you”, “I will deliver you”, “I will also redeem you”, “I will take you”, “I will be your God”), He brings Israel into a deeper understanding of Him as their Lord. He makes sure that they understand that He will do so in love and also for His own namesake.

The second important point that we can see is that God intended to glorify His name not only among the Hebrew slaves, but also among the Egyptians. Pharaoh, the people of Egypt, and all the people throughout the world would know that יהוה is the one true living God!

In last week’s parasha, Pharaoh makes a very revealing and tragic statement, “But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go.” Exodus 5: 2

Historically, it is known that Pharaoh considered himself god; the Egyptian people worshiped him as such, and considered him highest above all beings on earth. What Pharaoh said in Exodus 5 shows this to be true, while also revealing a prideful, stubborn heart.

Elohim, the creator of the world, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the one an only true God; He will not share His glory with anyone! He is greater than anyone or anything and is more powerful than any earthly power or ruler. In Exodus 7:4-5 He says,

“When Pharaoh will not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt, and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments. “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.”

And then in 8:22-23 (8:18-19 in the Hebrew Bible) He says, “ ‘But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of insects will be there, in order that you may know that I, the LORD, am in the midst of the land. ” And I will put a division between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall occur.’”

Again, in both examples above, God makes it clear that He does what He does in order that everyone would know that He is God Almighty. He also says that He will put a “division” or “redemption” [which is a more accurate translation of the Hebrew word used here (פדות -pedut)], in order to show the difference between the Children of Israel (God’s people) and the people of Egypt (Pharaoh’s people).

What can you and I take from this? First, we can be sure that God is the protector of His people. What a great hope and assurance we can have today knowing that we believe in the same God who performed such wonderful, mighty miracles for the Children of Israel! Second, we can rest in His wonderful redemption for all eternity!

But each person must choose for him/herself…to which group do you want to belong: God’s or the world’s?

This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel, January 25, 2017, and reposted with permission.