"Oath of Asaf", 6th-century CE Jewish medical oath

  4th of Sh'vat, 5772
ד׳ בְּשְׁבָט תשע״ב
Sat, 28 January 2012

* TORAH * 
 * BO * 

The Death of the Pharaoh’s Firstborn (1872 painting by

Even if we consider the murdering of every Egyptian first-born male retributive payback for Pharaoh's earlier order to kill our newborn Hebrew males, we still must ask: do two wrongs make a right?
 God's hardening of Pharaoh's heart in Exodus 10:1 presents a theological problem on two levels. First, if God is the agent of Pharaoh's behavior, what does that imply about Pharaoh's free will? Second, if God hardens Pharaoh's heart in order to demonstrate God's power, we must ask: At what price the Israelites' liberation? Indeed, the ultimate result of Pharaoh's stubbornness is the murder of every first-born Egyptian male. Even if we consider this to be retributive justice, payback for Pharaoh's earlier order to kill all newborn Hebrew males, we still must ponder: Does one heinous crime justify another? And how do we come to terms
 with killing innocent children


The Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt 
(1830 painting by David Roberts)

The first Passover

God told Moses and Aaron to mark that month as the first of the months of the year. (Exodus 12:1–2.) And God told them to instruct the Israelites in the laws of Passover, and the Israelites obeyed. (Exodus 12:3–28, 43–50; 13:6–10.) (See Commandments below.)

The Angel of Death and the First Passover
 (illustration from the 1897 Bible Pictures and What 
They Teach Us by Charles Foster)

The plague of the firstborn

Lamentations over the Death of the
 Firstborn of Egypt
 (1877 painting by Charles Sprague Pearce)

In the middle of the night, God struck down all the firstborn in Egypt. (Exodus 12:29.) Pharaoh arose in the night to a loud cry in Egypt, summoned Moses and Aaron, and told them to take the Israelites and go. (Exodus 12:30–32.) So the Israelites took their dough before it was leavened, borrowed silver, gold, and clothing from the Egyptians, and left the Land of Goshen for Sukkot. (Exodus 12:34–37.) God instructed Moses to tell the Israelites to consecrate to God every firstborn man and beast, and Moses did so. (Exodus 13:1–2, 11–15.)


The haftarah for the parshah is Jeremiah 46:13–28.

Connection to the Parshah
Both the parshah and the haftarah describe God’s judgment against Egypt. The parshah reports that God told Moses to go (bo’) to Pharaoh (Exodus 10:1); the haftarah reports God’s word that Nebuchadrezzar would come (la-vo’) to Pharaoh. (Jeremiah 46:13.) Both the parshah and the haftarah report a plague of locusts — literal in the parshah, figurative in the haftarah. (Exodus 10:3–20; Jeremiah 46:23.) Both the parshah and the haftarah report God’s punishment of Egypt’s gods. (Exodus 12:12; Jeremiah 46:25.) And both the parshah and the haftarah report God’s ultimate deliverance of the Israelites from their captivity. (Exodus 12:51; 13:3; Jeremiah 46:27.)

The word that God spoke to Jeremiah the prophet, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon should come and smite the land of Egypt: 
Hadavar asher diber Adonay el-Yirmeyahu hanavi lavo Nevuchadretsar melech Bavel lehakot et-erets Mitsrayim.

Declare in Egypt, and announce in Migdol; announce in Noph and in Tahpanhes. Say: 'Stand forth and be prepared, for the sword has devoured all around you.' 
Hagidu veMitsrayim vehashmiu veMigdol vehashmiu veNof uveTachpanches imru hityatsev vehachen lach ki-achlah cherev sviveycha.

Why is your strong one overthrown? He did not stand because God thrust him down. 
Madua nischaf abireycha lo amad ki Adonay hadafo.

Rav * KOOK * Institute

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שבת שלום  & Have a niice week

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