A Brief Note on First Impressions – Parsha Va’era

Parsha Va’era records the beginnings of God’s move into man’s historical consciousness. God, whilst creator of the universe and all that resided within, had until this point kept a low profile; he had  only communicated with Adam and Eve and with their son Cain, and, then with Noah. Similarly, he had appeared only to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and remained hidden from the inhabitants of the world. Now, God would unabashedly reveal Himself, and make His appearance at the centre of contemporary civilization – Egypt.

The Torah describes the challenges that faced God in completing this grand undertaking. Simply, He needed to reassure Moses that he was capable of fulfilling his role as God’s designated appointee. He needed to demonstrate to the Pharaoh that He was the dominant force in the universe and he needed to bend the will of the Egyptian King to force him to release of the Children of Israel from their bondage. Finally, he had to reacquaint the Children of Israel with Him and with the Covenant He had entered into with their forefathers.

Moses was never confident in his abilities to face the Pharaoh. He had shown great reluctance to accept the mantle of leadership that God had thrust upon him. To further aggravate his insecurity, his initial confrontation with Pharaoh had been answered with the collective punishment of the Israelites. They, in turn, had heaped scorn on Moses and on God. God again assured Moses that he had the power and strength to face the king of Egypt. He did so in a very interesting fashion. God had told Moses: “See, I have made you an Elohim over Pharaoh and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet”. Literally, Moses was to be like a god (Elohim) more powerful than the Pharaoh. So Moses, with this new found sense of empowerment would be confident with and capable in his mission.

The Torah then records a series of confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh and a series of demonstrations by God of His overwhelming power. It was His intent to bring the Pharaoh to his knees and to defeat the Egyptian so soundly, that would be forced to acknowledge that they had been defeated by God, the god of the Hebrews: “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not hearken unto you, and I will lay My hand upon Egypt, and bring forth My hosts, My people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt, by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am God, when I stretch forth My hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them”.

Through a series of precisely targeted strikes, He attacked the source of power of the Pharaoh and the strength of the Egyptian nation. God’s tactics were specifically chosen to drive a wedge between the ruler and the people, designed to astound and confound the foe by degrading their water and food supply and violating the personal well-being of its denizens. These strikes followed an almost natural progression, though they were cleverly framed to repeat natural events, and not supplant them.

Cumulatively these actions would hopefully demonstrate to and convince the suspicious Israelites of the authority of Moses and of the power of the God of their ancestors, who had now appeared to redeem them from slavery and lead them into the lands that had been promised to their forefathers.

This entry was posted in 2015, Exodus/Sh'mot, Va'eira. Bookmark the permalink.

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