Torah Portion: Va’era(And I Appeared) Exodus(Sh’mot) 6-9
Haftorah Reading: Ezekiel 28:25-29:21
Tonight, we cover Moshe’s initial meeting with Pharaoh and seven out of ten of the plagues. I would like us to cover some spiritual truths that could be important to us. Let’s begin by talking about the names of G-d that we find in our Torah reading and the relevance of the Sacred Name of G-d expressed in Exodus/Sh’mot 7:5.
In our traditions and beliefs as believers we use the names of G-d interchangeably while in Hebrew the names are significant and carry different meanings. In Exodus/Sh’mot 7:5 we see the most Holy name of G-d used by the L-rd as He sends Moshe and Aaron off on their first visit with Pharaoh.
What do we see in this passage as G-d’s reason for what is about to happen to Pharaoh? G-d’s purpose is that Pharaoh and all Egyptians will know that He is the L-rd. The word “L-rd” is filled with meaning. We have seen it before in scripture but here we are able to see its deepest meaning. Before I go on, tell me what you see as the difference between the names L-rd and G-d. These are the two most common names used when we speak of Him.
In our readings up to now, we see that every ancient people had their own gods. The term was usually used to identify a deity that was geographically limited and had to be appeased by sacrifices to gain favor. This was the form of “god” that Pharaoh was familiar with. For the Hebrews the term G-d was not thought of as limited. His power was shown in creation. His judgments came when His people sinned. Pharaoh was not familiar with this idea.
However, in Exodus/Sh’mot 5:1-2, when Moshe first used the term L-rd Pharaoh said he had never heard this word. So here we read the L’rd’s stated reason, that Pharaoh would know, not only that He is not limited by time or space but that He is the only One that deserves our praise and faith. Last week at, at the burning bush, G-d told Moshe when asked, to tell them that he comes in the name of I Am Who I Am. This week, Moshe told Pharaoh YHVH had sent him. If you look at this word in Hebrew it has the letters for past, present and future tense of the verb “Be.” So, this name of G-d gives us a clear picture of who He is for us as well. He was, He is and He will always be with us. He is our everything. Nothing is outside of Him. In this Torah Portion Pharaoh is about to get a lesson in what that means.
One other word will help us grasp this situation more clearly. The word, “know” in these verses in Hebrew has as one of its major meanings, to know intimately as a husband knows his wife. After Adam and Eve came together intimately a child, a new life, was born. This word, “know” is used to indicate that intimate knowledge. When we know G-d intimately, through Yeshua, new life should come from that knowledge.
For the Egyptians, they were about to know against whom they stood. They would have the opportunity to find that intimate knowledge of G-d and change. That intimate knowledge was there to be grasped if they could let go of their limited view and spiritual misconceptions. For us this knowledge led us to the Messiah. It shows who the Father really is, not just what we have heard but we can grasp a faith in Him that will revolutionize our lives. So, this word, this one word, can open our eyes to who we are and who we were created to be. The Father knows our days from beginning to end. He has a plan for each of us. That plan should consume us. It should direct our lives every day.
When we look back at Exodus/Sh’mot 6:8 we read where the Hebrews could not hear, could not internalize Moshe’s message to them because they had anguish of spirit and cruel bondage. They could hear the words but they could not grasp the depth of what he was saying. To help us clarify their condition a bit let us look at anguish of spirit and see what Hebrew words are used. In Hebrew the words are “Ketzer HaRuach.” This phrase can be translated as, shortness of breath or shortness of spirit. In their lives they were so over worked and tired that their ability to hear Moshe and understand his words were limited. Do you ever find yourself in such a place? I think we all come to that place unless we guard our time and make the effort to have time with the L-rd. I urge you to not allow spiritual shortness of breath to be a way you live your life. Make time to hear what G-d is saying to you. Remember we all were created for the glory of G-d. How we live is important. Each of us has a purpose. In Esther 4:14 is Mordecai told Esther, “You were created for such a time as this.” This was G-d’s purpose for her. Her decision was what to do. Pharaoh also had a decision to make. He chose incorrectly.
One other Hebrew word before we end tonight. In Exodus/Sh’mot 7:10 we read where Aaron threw down his rod before Pharaoh and in English it says it became a serpent. However, in Hebrew the word is “taneem”. This word in Hebrew means crocodile, sea monster. Snake was listed as the fourth meaning with crocodile being the first meaning. Earlier in Exodus when Moshe was at the burning bush and he was told to throw down his rod. The Hebrew word used there was nahash, which in Hebrew means snake. However, in both these verses the words are both translated as serpent. We wonder why? The crocodile was a symbol of Egyptian power. Therefore, it would have made more sense to translate each word as it should have been.