Exodus (Shemoth) 10:1 – 13:16
HaShem said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh. I have made him and his advisers stubborn, so that I will be able to demonstrate these miraculous signs among them. You will then be able to confide to your children and grandchildren how I made fools of the Egyptians, and how I performed miraculous signs among them. You will then fully realize that I am HaShem.”
Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh. In the name of HaShem, Lord of the Hebrews, they said to him, “How long will you refuse to submit to Me? Let My people leave and serve Me. If you refuse to let My people leave, I will bring locusts to your territories tomorrow. They will cover every visible speck of land, so that you will not be able to see the ground, and they will eat all that was spared for you by the hail, devouring every tree growing in the field. They will fill your palaces, as well as the houses of your officials and of all Egypt. It will be something that your fathers and your fathers’ fathers have never seen, since the day they were in the land.”
With that, Moses turned his back and left Pharaoh. Pharaoh’s officials said to him, “How long will this man continue to be a menace to us? Let the men go, and let them serve their Lord. Don’t you yet realize that Egypt is being destroyed?”
Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. “Go serve HaShem your Lord,” he said. “But exactly who will be going?”
“Young and old alike will go,” replied Moses. “We will go with our sons and our daughters, with our sheep and cattle. It is a festival for all of us.”
“May HaShem only be with you just as I will let you leave with your children!” replied Pharaoh. “You must realize that you will be confronted by evil. But that’s not the way it will be. Let the males go and worship HaShem, if that’s really what you want!”
With that, he had them expelled from his presence.
Locusts: The Eighth Plague
HaShem said to Moses, “Extend your hand over Egypt to bring the locusts, and they will emerge on Egypt. They will eat all the foliage in the land that was spared by the hail.”
Moses raised his hand over Egypt, and all that day and night, HaShem made an east wind blow over the land. When morning came, the east wind was carrying the locusts.
The locusts invaded Egypt, settling on all Egyptian territory. It was a very severe plague. Never before had there been such a locust plague, and never again would the like be seen. The locusts covered the entire surface of the land, making the ground black. They ate all the plants on the ground and all the fruit on the trees, whatever had been spared by the hail. Nothing green remained on the trees and plants throughout all Egypt.
Pharaoh hastily summoned Moses and Aaron. “I have committed a crime,” he said, “both to HaShem your Lord and to you. Now forgive my offence just this one more time. Pray to HaShem your Lord! Just take this death away from me!”
Moses left Pharaoh’s presence and prayed to HaShem. HaShem turned the wind around, making it into a very strong west wind. It carried away the locusts, and plunged them into the Red Sea. Not a single locust remained within all Egypt’s borders. But once again, HaShem made Pharaoh obstinate, and he would not let the Israelites leave.
Darkness: The Ninth Plague
HaShem said to Moses, “Reach out toward the sky with your hand, and there will be darkness in Egypt. The darkness will be clear.”
Moses lifted his hand toward the sky, and there was an opaque darkness in all Egypt, lasting for three days. People could not see each other, and no one left his place for three days. The Israelites, however, had light in the areas where they lived.
Pharaoh summoned Moses. “Go!” he said. “Worship! Even your children can go with you. Just leave your sheep and cattle behind.”
“Will you then provide us with sacrifices and burnt offerings so that we will be able to offer them to HaShem?” asked Moses. “Our livestock must also go along with us. Not a single hoof can be left behind. We must take them to serve HaShem our Lord, since we do not know what we will need to worship HaShem until we get there.”
HaShem made Pharaoh stubborn, and he was no longer willing to let the Israelites leave. “Leave my presence!” said Pharaoh to Moses. “Don’t dare see my face again! The day you appear before me, you will die!”
“As you say,” replied Moses. “I will not see your face again.”
Preparations for the Final Plague
HaShem said to Moses, “There is one more plague that I will send against Pharaoh and Egypt. After that, he will let you leave this place. When he lets you leave, he will actually drive you out of here.Now speak to the people discreetly, and let each man request from his friend gold and silver articles. Let every woman make the same request of her friends. ”
HaShem gave the people status among the Egyptians. Moses was also very highly respected in Egypt, both by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.
Death of the First-Born
Moses said to Pharaoh in HaShem’s name, “Around midnight, I will go out in the midst of Egypt. Every first-born in Egypt will die, from the first-born of Pharaoh sitting on his throne, to the first-born of the slave girl behind the millstones. Every first-born animal will also die. There will be a great cry of anguish throughout all Egypt. Never before has there been anything like it, and never again will there be the like. But among the Israelites, a dog will not even whine because of man or beast. You will then realize that HaShem is making a miraculous distinction between Egypt and Israel. All your officials here will come and bow down to me. They will say, ‘Leave! You and all your followers!’ Only then will I leave.”
He left Pharaoh very angry.
HaShem said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you. This is so that I will be able to do all the more wonders in Egypt.”
Moses and Aaron had done all these wonders before Pharaoh. Still, because HaShem had made Pharaoh obstinate, he would not let the Israelites leave his land.
HaShem said to Moses and Aaron “This month shall be the head month to you. It shall be the first month of the year. Speak to the entire community of Israel, saying: On the tenth of this month, every man must take a lamb for each extended family, a lamb for each household. If the household is too small for a lamb, then he and a close neighbor can obtain a lamb together, as long as it is for specifically designated individuals. Individuals shall be designated for a lamb according to how much each one will eat. You must have a flawless young animal, a one-year-old male. You can take it from the sheep or from the goats. Hold it in safekeeping until the fourteenth day of this month. The entire community of Israel shall then slaughter their sacrifices in the afternoon. They must take the blood and place it on the two doorposts and on the beam above the door of the houses in which they will eat the sacrifice. Eat the sacrificial meat during the night, roasted over fire. Eat it with matzah and bitter herbs. Do not eat it raw or cooked in water, but only roasted over fire, including its head, its legs, and its internal organs. Do not leave any of it over until morning. Anything that is left over until morning must be burned in fire. You must eat it with your waist belted, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand, and you must eat it in haste. It is the Passover (Pesach) offering to me. I will pass through Egypt on that night, and I will kill every first-born in Egypt, man and beast. I will perform acts of judgement against all the gods of Egypt. I alone am HaShem. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are staying. I will see the blood and pass you by. There will not be any deadly plague among you when I strike Egypt. This day must be one that you will remember. You must keep it as a festival to HaShem for all generations. It is a law for all time that you must celebrate it. Eat matzah for seven days. By the first day, you must have your homes cleared of all leaven. Whoever eats leaven from the first day until the seventh day will have his soul cut off from Israel. The first day shall be a sacred holiday, and the seventh day shall also be a sacred holiday. No work may be done on these days. The only work that you may do is that which is needed so that everyone will be able to eat. Be careful regarding the matzahs, for on this very day I will have brought your masses out of Egypt. You must carefully keep this day for all generations; it is a law for all times. evening, until the night of the 21st day of the month, you must eat only matzahs. During these seven days, no leaven may be found in your homes. If someone eats anything leavened his soul shall be cut off from the community of Israel. This is true whether he is a proselyte or a person born into the nation. You must not eat anything leavened. In all the areas where you live, eat matzahs.”
Moses summoned the elders of Israel, and said to them, “Gather the people and get yourselves sheep for your families, so that you will be able to slaughter the Passover sacrifice. You will then have to take a bunch of hyssop and dip it into the blood that will be placed in a basin. Touch the beam over the door and the two doorposts with some of the blood in the basin. Not a single one of you may go out the door of his house until morning. HaShem will then pass through to strike Egypt. When he sees the blood over the door and on the two doorposts, HaShem will pass over that door, and not let the force of destruction enter your houses to strike. You must keep this ritual as a law, for you and your children forever. When you come to the land that HaShem will give you, as He promised, you must also keep this service. Your children may then ask you, ‘What is this service to you?’ You must answer, ‘It is the Passover service to HaShem. He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians, sparing our homes.”
The people bent their heads and prostrated themselves. The Israelites went and did as HaShem had instructed Moses and Aaron. They did it exactly.
The Final Plague
It was midnight. HaShem killed every first-born in Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh, sitting on his throne, to the first-born of the prisoner in the dungeon, as well as every first-born animal. Pharaoh stayed up that night, along with all his officials and all the rest of Egypt. There was a great outcry, since there was no house where there were no dead.
Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron during the night. “Get moving!” he said. “Get out from among my people – you and the Israelites! Go! Worship just as you demanded! Take your sheep and cattle, just as you said! Go! Bless me too!”
The Egyptians were also urging the people to hurry and leave the land. ‘We are all dead men!’ they were saying. The people took their dough before it could rise. Their leftover dough was wrapped in their robes and placed on their shoulders. The Israelites also did as Moses had said. They requested silver and gold articles and clothing
from the Egyptians. HaShem made the Egyptians respect the people, and they granted their request. The Israelites thus drained Egypt of its wealth.
The Israelites travelled from Rameses toward Sukkoth. There were about 600,000 adult males on foot, besides the children. A great mixture of nationalities left with them. There were also sheep and cattle, a huge amount of livestock.
The Israelites baked the dough that they had brought out of Egypt into matzah, since it had not risen. They had been driven out of Egypt and could not delay, and they had not prepared any other provisions.
The lifestyle that the Israelites endured in Egypt had thus lasted 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, all of HaShem’s armies
left Egypt in broad daylight. There was a night of vigil for HaShem, preparing to bring them out of Egypt. This night remains for the Israelites a vigil to HaShem for all generations.
HaShem said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the law of the Passover sacrifice: No outsider may eat it. If a man buys a slave for cash and circumcises him, then the slave can eat it. But if a gentile is a temporary resident or a hired hand, he may not eat the Passover sacrifice. It must be eaten by a single group. Do not bring any of its meat out of the group. Do not break any of its bones. The entire community of Israel must keep this ritual. When a proselyte joins you and wants to offer the Passover sacrifice to HaShem, every male in his household must be circumcised. He may then join in the observance, and be like a native-born Israelite. But no uncircumcised man may eat the sacrifice. The same law shall apply both for the native-born Israelite and for the proselyte who joins you.”
All the Israelites did as HaShem had instructed Moses and Aaron. They did it exactly.
On that very day, HaShem took the Israelites out of Egypt in organized groups.
Remembering the Exodus
HaShem spoke to Moses, saying, “Sanctify to Me every first-born that initiates the womb among the Israelites. Among both man and
beast, it is Mine.”
Moses said to the people “Remember this day as the time you left Egypt, the place of slavery, when HaShem brought you out of here with a show of force. No leaven may be eaten. You left this day, in the month of standing grain. There will come a time when HaShem will bring you to the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Yebusites. Eat matzahs for seven days, and make the seventh day a festival to HaShem. Since matzahs must be eaten for these seven days, no leaven may be seen in your possession. No leaven may be seen in all your territories. On that day, you must tell your child, ‘It is because of this that HaShem acted for me when I left Egypt.”
These words must also be a sign on your arm and a reminder in the center of your head. HaShem’s Torah will then be on your tongue. It was with a show of strength that HaShem brought you out of Egypt. This law must therefore be kept at its designated time from year to year.
Consecration of the First-Born
There will come a time when HaShem will have brought you to the land of the Canaanites, which he promised you and your ancestors, and he will have given it to you. You will then bring to HaShem every first-born that initiates the womb. Whenever you have a young firstling animal, the males belong to HaShem. Every firstling donkey must be redeemed with a sheep. If it is not redeemed, you must decapitate it.
You must also redeem every first-born among your sons. Your child may later ask you, ‘What is this?’ You must answer him, ‘With a show of power, HaShem brought us out of Egypt, the place of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us leave, HaShem killed all the first-born in Egypt, man and beast alike. I therefore sacrifice to HaShem all male firstling animals, and redeem all the first-born of my sons.’
These words shall also be a sign on your arm and an insignia in the center of your head.
All this is because HaShem brought us out of Egypt with a show of strength.
The Next Parsha : BeShalach Exodus 13:17 – 17:16
The Next Haftara: Judges 4.4-5.31 (Sephardi Tradition: Judges 5.1-31)