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The LORD is revealed as Savior


Torah Portion: Parashat Va’era (“and I appeared”)

Shabbat: Jan. 21, 2023 / Tevet 28, 5783

Torah: Exod. 6:2-9:35

Prophets: Ezek. 28:25 – 29:21

New Covenant: Rom. 9:14-33


The Shema

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength”. Deut. 6:4-5


Last week's Torah portion (i.e., Shemot) told how Moses and Aaron were commissioned to go before Pharaoh and deliver the message: shelach et-ammi (שַׁלַּח אֶת־עַמִּי), "Let my people go" that they may hold a feast to me in the desert" (Exod. 5:1). Not only did Pharaoh dismiss the request, but he imposed even harsher decrees against the Israelites and caused them to suffer miserably. Moses then appealed to the LORD for help, and the LORD reassured him that Pharaoh would eventually relent because God's great power to save His people would be proclaimed throughout all the earth. In this week's portion (Va'era), the LORD told Moses that He was now going to fulfill His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by giving the Israelites the land of Canaan, and that he had heard the "groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians held as slaves" (Exod. 6:5). The LORD (יהוה) was now coming down to earth to fight and save his people! Israel would now know that He alone is their Savior and God. The "showdown" between the LORD and the so-called gods of Egypt was imminent, and God therefore encouraged the people with precious promises: "I AM the LORD (אֲנִי יְהוָה) and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgment; and I will take you to me for a people and I will be to you a God; and I will bring you into the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and to Jacob as an inheritance forever (these are the "expressions of redemption" we recall during the Passover Seder every year). Despite these wonderful promises, however, the people were unable to listen because of their "shortness of breath" (מִקּצֶר רוּחַ) on account of their harsh slavery. The LORD then told Moses: "Go in, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the people of Israel go out of his land," and the great battle between the LORD and the so-called "gods" of Egypt began. However, even after repeatedly witnessing the series of miraculous plagues issued in the Name of the LORD, the despot remained proud and unmoved, thereby setting the stage for the final devastating plagues upon the land of Egypt and the great Passover redemption of Israel.

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