Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Study Guide to Torah Portion BO

Parasha Bo
·         Exodus 10:1-13:16
·         Jeremiah 46:13-28
·         Romans 9:14-29

The Torah Portion at a Glance

The last three of the Ten Plagues are visited on Egypt: a swarm of locusts devours all the crops and greenery; a thick, palpable darkness envelops the land; and all the firstborn of Egypt are killed at the stroke of midnight of the 15th of the month of Nissan.

YHWH commands the first mitzvah/commandment to be given to the people of Israel: to establish a calendar based on the monthly rebirth of the moon. The Israelites are also instructed to bring a "Passover offering" to YHWH: a lamb or kid is to be slaughtered and its blood sprinkled on the doorposts and lintel of every Israelite home, so that YHWH should pass over these homes when He comes to kill the Egyptian firstborn. The roasted meat of the offering is to be eaten that night together with matzah (unleavened bread) and bitter herbs.

The death of the firstborn finally breaks Pharaoh's resistance and he literally drives the Children of Israel from his land. So hastily do they depart, there is no time for their dough to rise, and the only provisions they take along are unleavened. Before they go, they ask their Egyptian neighbors for gold, silver and garments, draining Egypt of its wealth.

The Children of Israel are commanded to consecrate all firstborn and to observe the anniversary of the Exodus each year by removing all leaven from their possession for seven days, eating matzah, and telling the story of their redemption to their children. They are also commanded to remember the Exodus and their resultant commitment to YHWH.   (adapted from chabad.org)

The Messiah in the Torah Portion
Pharaoh could have stopped the path of death and destruction in this week’s Torah portion by simply submitting to YHWH and obeying His voice. All Pharaoh had to do was heed the sign of the blood. Egypt could have been spared if Pharaoh would have paid attention to the first plague. The firstborn of each family could have lived if Pharaoh would have understood the message behind the Nile River turning to blood. 

In ancient times, the Egyptian society depended upon the Nile River for its existence. Thus, the Nile was considered the life-force of Egypt. The people considered the Nile the embodiment of their many gods. Each morning Pharaoh would rise and bathe in the beautiful water. When the Nile flooded or dried up, the Egyptians considered their god to be unhappy. To appease the Nile and calm the waters, they would even offer human sacrifices. 80 years before the Exodus, Pharaoh had commanded that every son born from the Hebrew slaves was to be cast into the river and drowned. Later, when Pharaoh ignored the prophet's command, the water turned to blood again. Through this blood YHWH was calling out to Pharaoh to repent of his sins and release the Israelites. Sadly, Pharaoh's response is repeated by millions each day. We read in Exodus that after watching the Nile turn to dahm / blood, Pharaoh simply turned away. He saw the blood and turned His back upon salvation. 

"And the magicians of Egypt/Mitzrayim did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he listen to them; as YHWH had said. And Pharaoh turned and went into his house neither did he set his lev (heart) to this also. And all the Egyptians dug all around the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river. And seven days were fulfilled, after YHWH had smitten the river," Exodus / Shemot 7:22-25. 

The Scriptures declare that "YHWH declares the end from the beginning" in Isaiah 46:10. When the Nile River was first turned to blood, YHWH was warning Pharaoh of a coming disaster. YHWH was offering Pharaoh an escape. "Life is in the blood," Leviticus 17:11. Pharaoh ignored the blood and brought death upon his entire family and people. The wages of sin is death but the blood offers life! 

The blood remained for 7 days giving the leader and his people plenty of time to repent. YHWH is so gracious that he always gives us time to turn to Him. During the time YHWH gives, man will either grow sorry for what he as done or he will allow his heart to harden. Pharaoh chose the latter. Notice too that Pharaoh turned to his magician's to see if they could duplicate the blood. Through the power of demons, the enchanters were able to seemingly copy the miracle of YHWH. However, they were not able to make the blood leave and allow the Nile to return to normal. The occult and the world have many false promises and false manifestations that seem to mirror moves of YHWH. The evil powers may be able to duplicate some of YHWH's miracles BUT the dark side can not stop YHWH's judgment. Life is not found in false fabrications but in the blood of the lamb of YHWH. Today, millions know the message of the gospel but turn to mediums, horoscopes, and witchcraft. Even Messianic believers have to battle the demonic powers behind the teachings of reincarnation and "practical" Gnostic kabbalah. The Messiah's message is pretty simple - life is in the blood! 

When Y'shua celebrated Passover he lifted the cup and said "this is the blood of the brit/covenant, unless you drink my blood and taste my flesh you can not enter the kingdom of YHWH." Again, He was proclaiming that life is in the blood.

His blood was the fulfillment of the prophetic blood of the Nile and the lamb's blood on the doorposts. We read in the book of Matthew that the disciple that betrayed Y'shua dipped his hand in the dish before the cup was offered. Even in the face of death, Y'shua offered eternal life to those at his table, including the one who would trade his life for silver. The blood covers all sin and all reproach, no matter what you have done, said, or thought. "And the dahm/blood of Y'shua ha Moshiach His Son cleanses us from all sin," 1 John 1:7. Forgiveness is found in the blood. 

The story is told of a man who has built up a huge debt and can't pay it. The man's wealthy boss comes along and pays the bill without telling his employee -- then calls him in to give him the good news. The man sits down, is handed the dossier of debts, and flips through the pages to see the list of bills he has accumulated. He thinks, "I'll never be able to pay all this. They're going to throw me in jail!" When the CEO sees the man's fearful countenance, he is perplexed. He says, "Excuse me -- did you look at page one?" The man flips back to the first page, which reads: "Paid in full." Our sins have been covered the debt of sin has been paid in full. 

Pharaoh could have been forgiven but he ignored the first and then the last sign of the blood. For our generation the first sign of blood is the dahm/blood of Y'shua shed for the forgiveness of sin. The second sign of blood will be seen by all when the "sun will be turned to darkness and the moon into blood, before that great and glorious day," Acts 2:20.

When Y'shua returns the world will once again see a sign of blood and be given another chance to repent. On that day millions will look upon the one whom was pierced and call upon Y'shua for salvation. As we await His return let us continually keep the dahm/blood of Y'shua in our minds. It is through His blood that we have been redeemed, forgiven, and given the victorious life. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives even to the end,” Revelation 12:11. 

We have the right to draw a faith blood line that the enemy can not cross. By remembering the blood of Y'shua and applying it to the door posts of our lives, no evil can triumph over us.

"Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver, or gold, from your futile spiritual conduct received by tradition from your fathers. But with the precious dahm/blood of Moshiach, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in YHWH, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your emunah (faith) and tikvah (hope) are in YHWH. Since you have cleansed your beings in obeying the emet/truth through the Ruach in sincere ahava/love of the Yisraelite brothers, love one another fervently with a clean lev, Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of YHWH which lives and abides forever, because all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, But the word of YHWH endures forever. Now this is the word that by the good news was proclaimed to you," 1 Peter / Kepha Alef 1:18-25. 

Applying the Portion to Life Today
"Egypt rejoiced when they went," says Psalms 105:38.  “This is comparable to a fat man who is riding on a donkey. The donkey longs: "O when will he get off me"; and the man longs: "O when will I get off the donkey." As soon as he gets off, the man is happy and the donkey is happy. Still I do not know: who is the happier?  So, too, when the Hebrews were in Egypt, and the plagues were befalling the Egyptians, the Egyptian were longing: "O when will the Israelites get out!" And the Yisraelites were longing: "O when will YHWH redeem us!" As soon as they went out, both were happy.  Still, I did not know: which was the happier? Until King David came and said: "Egypt rejoiced when they went," says one Rabbi in Midrash Tehillim.

Perhaps the Egyptians wanted the Israelites to leave because Pharaoh had finally conceded defeat.  The Egyptian gods had failed.  The cataclysmic spiritual battle was finally over.  The white flag of surrender was being raised as Pharaoh himself was finally permitting the exodus to occur.  The Hebrews and their Elohim had prevailed.

The plagues against Egypt had culminated with the tragic killing of the firstborn.  The darkness of death had swept the land and mourning was just beginning.  “At midnight YHWH struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well.  Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Mitzrayim (Egypt), for there was not a house without someone dead.  During the night Pharaoh summoned Moshe and Aharon and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship YHWH as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me,” Shemot/Exodus 12:29-32.

This devastation of death had shattered Pharaoh’s hardened heart to pieces.  Yet this plague did more than just break Pharaoh’s will.  A great deal more had occurred than just the killing of the firstborn. The tenth and final plague sent a resounding message to every home in the land.  The message of redemption was sounded where every firstborn Egyptian was slain and where every firstborn Hebrew was saved.  What was the message?  YHWH is the only Elohim worthy to be worshipped.  It is a message that is to be remembered to this day. “Bring to mind the former things, those of long ago; I am Elohim, and there is no other; I am Elohim, and there is none like me.  I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.  I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please,” Isaiah 46:9.

Forget for a moment the war between America and Al Queda.  Stop to consider the battle between YHWH and the gods of Mitzrayim (Egypt).  Their fight is over who controls Yisrael.  Their battle is over who does Yisrael acknowledge as Supreme.  In this week’s parasha, a worship war is being waged between tov (good) and ra (evil.)  Pharaoh wants to keep the Israelites in bondage to slavery, subjective to the false gods of Egypt YHWH wants His people to be free to worship Him and Him alone in Spirit and in truth.  Just who is Elohim of Yisrael?  What took place between Egypt and Yisrael in the natural was reflective of what was actually taking place in the supernatural. YHWH was defeating the gods of Mitzrayim (Egypt).  Here are a few points of this battle to consider:

YHWH first wants His people to journey for three days to worship.
Pharaoh does not allow this, and calls the people lazy.

YHWH desires an offering of sacrifice from Yisrael in a specific manner.
Pharaoh tells Yisrael to do it his way and just sacrifice while still in Mitzrayim. 

YHWH seeks total obedience to His will.
Pharaoh releases the Hebrews but not their herds or flocks, so they cannot sacrifice in accordance to YHWH’s will.

The war for Yisrael continues up until the tenth plague and finally a winner is declared.  A knockout punch is made to the gods of Mitzrayim by the mighty hand of YHWH!  The winner is YHWH Eloheynu.  “I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am YHWH,” said the Creator in Shemot 12:12.  Through the ten epidemics YHWH Elohim brings judgment upon the elohim or gods of Egypt Does all this talk of “elohims” sound confusing?

“In any language other than Hebrew, the term “God” comes down to us through numerous pagan cultures and does not accurately represent the Eternal One of the Hebrew Scriptures.  Although perhaps you have probably come to know Him by the term “God,” for the sake of truth and clarity, you need to know that “god” is actually a word etymologically connected to pagan deities…the term you need to learn is Elohim,” wrote Avi Ben Mordechai in his book Messiah Volume Three.

“Elohim” is the plural Hebrew term found throughout the Bible for “gods.”  Most English Bibles translate this same Hebrew statement as “God,” or “god,” or “gods.”  While the Hebrew word Elohim is unchanged, the only difference in the English is the capitalization by the publisher.  This is because the Hebrew word “Elohim” is a general term used throughout the Scriptures to describe spiritual beings or “mighty ones.”  The Egyptians, for example, had many elohim or “gods.”  According to Strong’s Exhaustive Dictionary the word “elohim” carries with it the connotation of judgment and literally means “gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used of the supreme God; occasionally magistrates.”  Elohim comes from the root word prefix “El” meaning “strength; as an adjective mighty; especially the Almighty (but used also of any deity):—God  or god, goodly, great, idol, might (-y one), power, strong.”  The term Elohim appears over 1,100 times in the Bible as a “title” describing YHWH.   

The problem is that the Egyptians worshipped many elohim, or spiritual beings, including Pharaoh himself.  The majority of the Egyptians did not acknowledge nor worship YHWH THE Elohim.  Remember the words Pharaoh spoke when Moshe first told him to let the Hebrews go… “Who is YHWH that I should obey when he says to let Israel go?  I don’t know YHWH, and I also won’t let Israel go.” Well, Pharaoh and all of Egypt would soon find out exactly who YHWH is.

The events of Exodus occur to share the fact that YHWH is the Almighty El.  Mitzrayim and the world have many Elohim while Israel has the One true Elohim.  The elohim/gods of Mitzrayim/Egypt were defeated and YHWH was proved the true Elohim in plain view of the world through the ten plagues.  “Who among the elohim is like you, O YHWH? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” Shemot/Exodus 15:11.  

Here is a short list of some of the false elohim/gods that were judged by YHWH.  This is just more proof that, “Elohim presides in the great assembly; he gives judgment among the “gods,” Psalms 82:1.

False elohim/gods judged
Osiris, Nile, Hathor,
Heka, pride
Egyptian priests, Ra
Scared beetle, Ba’alzebulb
Animals death
Osiris, Hathor, Ptah
Imotep, ritual of casting ashes
Pharaoh, Osiris
Seth, Isis, Anubus
Egyptian priests, Hathor, Ra, Suber, Amon-Re
Death of Firstborn
Pharaoh, Isis, Osiris, Horus

In the above chart you will find the name of Pharaoh many times. Pharaoh was defeated when his own son was killed.  The ruler’s firstborn, literally considered to be “god incarnate,” was just one of the various gods that were defeated.  “For YHWH Eloheynu is Elohim of elohim and Adon of adons, the great EL, mighty and awesome,” says Deuteronomy 10:17.

Through the building up of the plagues and the culmination of the final affliction Yisrael is finally released to worship YHWH.  Pharaoh no longer exhorts his supposed “control” over the Hebrews.  They are no longer subject to false Elohim of Mitzrayim.  They are free to worship YHWH Elohim.  No wonder Yisrael was happy to leave.  Yet it wasn’t just the Hebrews who left the land of idolatry and paganism. “A mixed multitude went up with them also,” says Exodus 12:38. Many left Egypt and the elohim of Egypt behind.

The Egyptians were humiliated because their gods had been defeated. They were also frightened that another plague would hit them if they held the Hebrews back.  They were happy to see the Israelites come and they were happy to see them go.  The Israelites were happy to go and the people of Mitzrayim were happy to let them go.  Who was happier?  Probably YHWH was the happiest of all.

Portion Points to Ponder
  1. The Hebrew name for this portion is “Bo.”  What does this mean?
  2. Read Jeremiah 46:13-28.  How does this relate to the story of Exodus this week?
  3. Consider the words found in Romans 9:14-29.  What did you learn from studying this passage?
  4. How does this Torah portion speak of the Messiah Y’shua?
  5. Describe two ways that you can apply this week’s Torah portion to your life.
  6. What was the eighth plague?
  7. Explain how a person can fulfill Exodus 11 and explain the Passover story to their son’s and their son’s sons?
  8. What kind of insect is a locust?  According to Leviticus 11:20-23 is this animal kosher for man to eat?
  9. Who recognized the need to let Israel go first – Pharaoh or his servants?  Explain how leaders sometimes are blind to what is best for the people.
  10. Moshe said the families of Israel were going to worship YHWH together.  Why did Pharaoh have a problem with the family unit leaving Egypt?  Explain how Satan tries to stop families from worshipping together today. 
  11. What did the locusts eat?
  12. What type of wind brought the plague of locust into the land of Egypt?  What is the meaning of this direction of wind?
  13. Pharaoh stated that he sinned against YHWH and then asked Moses to pray for Him.  Was this true repentance?
  14. Pharaoh didn’t pray to YHWH for forgiveness but asked Moses to do so for him.  How is this type of false repentance prevalent in churches today?  Compare to 2 Corinthians 7:10.
  15. What type of wind took away the locusts?  What is the meaning of this direction?
  16. What does it mean that “YHWH hardened Pharaoh’s heart?”
  17. The thick darkness lasted for three days.  Describe the significance of the three days in relation to Hosea 6:2.
  18. Were the children of Israel protected from the thick darkness?  How? 
  19. Moses and the nation of Israel could have left Egypt with their families after the plague of darkness bud didn’t.  Why not?  Didn’t YHWH just want His people to be free from slavery or did their mode of worship matter?
  20. Explain the last plague against Egypt.
  21. Why would the Egyptians willingly give up their riches to their Hebrew slaves?  How does the favor of YHWH cause your enemies to live at peace with you?
  22. At what time would the first born be killed?
  23. What protected the children of Israel from the death of the first born?
  24. Pharaoh saw the multiple signs of miracles against the pagan nation.  The Newer Testament states that a “wicked and perverse generation looks for a sign” but still does not believe.  How was the stubbornness of Pharaoh like the obstinacy shown by people today?
  25. When is the Biblical New Year, as explained in Exodus 12:1?
  26. Why do Jewish people celebrate the New Year in September with the month of Tishrei?
  27. The Hebrew Bible names the first month “Aviv.”  Why do people call this month “Nisan?”
  28. On the tenth day of the first month a lamb was to be taken as a future offering.  How is the number 10 full of meaning?
  29. Was one lamb enough for an entire household?  What if the family was too small?  How does this compare to Acts 16:31 that states, “you will be saved, you and your entire household.”
  30. How old was the Passover lamb sacrifice?  How long was it to stay at the home of the Israelites?
  31. Exodus 12 states that the sacrifice was to be eaten “between the evenings.”  Was the Passover meal on the night of the 14th of Aviv or on the 15th of Aviv?  Why do you believe this?
  32. How was the lamb to be cooked and then eaten?  Could there be leftovers the next day?
  33. According to Exodus 12, what three foods must be part of any Passover remembrance meal?
  34. Is communion a Passover meal?  Where does the Eucharist originate?
  35. What is the meaning behind the unleavened bread called “matzah?”  What can be learned from eating bitter herbs or lamb?
  36. How were the Israelites to eat the Passover meal – reclined or in a hurry?
  37. According to Exodus 12:27, is this the “Jewish Passover” or the Passover of YHWH?
  38. Who passed through the land of Egypt and executed judgment?  Was it YHWH or the death angel?
  39. The blood was a sign to whom on the night of Passover?
  40. How is Passover night a memorial to Bible believers today?  Explain how Christians keep the Passover?  What about the Jewish people?  How do you celebrate Passover?
  41. How many days were the Israelites to eat unleavened bread?  What is the Hebrew word for unleavened bread?
  42. Why would YHWH command “leaven” to be removed from the homes of the Israelites?
  43. What is the Hebrew word for “leaven” or “yeast” as found in exodus 12:20?  What type of foods include this ingredient?
  44. How many days is the Passover festival?  Is the “Festival of Unleavened Bread” a separate holy day?
  45. How many days were the people of Israel to eat matzah?
  46. What actions are allowed to take place on the first and last days of the “Festival of Unleavened Bread?”  Why is some type of work permitted but others prohibited?
  47. On what day of the first month does the Festival of Unleavened Bread begin?  When does it end?  Why would YHWH command this time of worship?
  48. Exodus 12:19 states that for “seven days shall no leaven be founding your homes.”  What should you do with your leavened items if they can not be on your property?
  49. What type of tree branch was used to spread the lamb’s blood on the door posts?  How does this verse correlate with Psalm 51:7 and Exodus 14?  Study these passages and explain.
  50. How were the Hebrew people to explain the Passover to future generations?  How are you sharing your faith with those younger than you?
  51. What happened to the first born on the night of Passover?  What happened to them after that Passover night?
  52. How did the death of the firstborn recall the evil actions of Pharaoh when he ordered the murder of all Hebrew boys?  Did Pharaoh reap what he sowed?
  53. Pharaoh finally releases Moses and the nation of Israel to leave in Exodus 12:32.  When he does this, Pharaoh also asks for a blessing.  Why the change of heart?  How does tragedy soften people’s stubborn attitudes towards YHWH?
  54. How did the Hebrew people plunder Egypt?  What would the gold, jewels, and cloth later be used for?  Why is this offering from the Egyptians important for the future worship of YHWH?
  55. How many men left Rameses in Egypt?  Where did they go?
  56. Was it only “Jewish” people that left Egypt?  What about the “mixed multitude” in Exodus 12:38?  Why is it important to recognize the great rabble of people that left Egypt and later received the Torah? 
  57. How long was Israel in Egypt as slaves?
  58. According to Exodus 12:44, could uncircumcised people keep the Passover?  Should uncircumcised people celebrate Passover today?  Does circumcision still matter?
  59. Where any bones of the Passover lamb broken?  How is this symbolic of the Lamb Y’shua whose bones were not broken according to John 19:36 and Psalm 34:20?
  60. How were the living firstborn consecrated to YHWH?
  61. How is the Exodus a sign on the hand and a reminder on the forehead of the believer today?  How do Jewish people apply Exodus 13:9?
  62. Does it matter what day we celebrate the Passover?
  63. What did you learn from this Open Bible study?

The Open Bible is a teaching series written by Daniel Rendelman of Emet Ministries.  Daniel Rendelman is the found and leader of Emet Ministries and the author of the book “Finding the Truth.”  He, his wife, and five children live in Newberry, South Carolina.  He can be reached at emetministries@gmail.com.  Find more teachings, audio messages, videos, and music at www.emetministries.com.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Torah Portion Shemot

By Daniel Rendelman of www.emetministries.com

Torah Portion: Shemot
·         Exodus 1:1-6:1
·         Isaiah 27:6-28:13, 29:22-23, and Jeremiah 1:1-2:3
·         1 Corinthians 14:13-25

The Torah Portion at a Glance

 The children of Israel multiply in Egypt. Threatened by their growing numbers, Pharaoh enslaves them and orders the Hebrew midwives, Shifrah and Puah, to kill all male babies at birth. When they do not comply, he commands his people to cast the Hebrew babies into the Nile.
A child is born to Yocheved, the daughter of Levi, and her husband, Amram, and placed in a basket on the river, while the baby's sister, Miriam, stands watch from afar.  Pharaoh's daughter discovers the boy, raises him as her son, and names him Moses or “Moshe” in Hebrew.
As a young man, Moses leaves the palace and discovers the hardship of his brethren. He sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and kills the Egyptian. The next day he sees two Hebrews fighting; when he admonishes them, they reveal his deed of the previous day, and Moses is forced to flee to Midian. There he rescues Jethro's daughters, marries one of them - Zipporah - and becomes a shepherd of his father-in-law's flocks.
YHWH appears to Moses in a burning bush at Mount Sinai and instructs him to go to Pharaoh and demand: "Let my people go, so that they may serve Me."  The sacred name “YHWH” is given to Moses as a sign of the Almighty’s power and existence.  Moses' brother, Aaron, is appointed to serve as his spokesman. In Egypt, Moses and Aaron assemble the elders of Israel to tell them that the time of their redemption has come. The people believe; but Pharaoh refuses to let them go, and even intensifies the suffering of Israel.
Moses returns to YHWH to protest: "Why have You done evil to this people?" YHWH promises that the redemption is close at hand.
(adapted from chabad.org)

The Messiah in the Torah Portion
Moses was never the same after YHWH spoke to him through the burning bush.  This event changed Moses and altered the course of human history.  Let’s look a little closer at this account and find the Messiah right in the middle of one of mankind’s greatest moments.

First, Moses saw the bush from far off.  The brightness of the flame attracted him to go closer.  Before we come to Y’shua we are in spiritual darkness.  But, there is something about the goodness and mercy of Messiah’s light that attracts us to Him.  Our journey of faith is not always an easy path but it is one towards light.  Moses, as well, had to climb up Mt Sinai to get closer to the Light of YHWH.  As he approached, he found a bush that was on fire but was not consumed. 

In Hebrew, the word used here for bush in Exodus 3 is “seneh.” This word is spelled samekh-nun-hey and literally means “thorn bush.”  This term describes the burning bush as a bramble.  The plant aflame wasn’t a beautiful azalea or an evergreen holly.  No, YHWH spoke to Moses through a thorn bush.  The Bible says that it was actually, “the angle of YHWH” that appeared to reveal the great tetragrammaton of yod-hey-waw-hey YHWH.  Acts 7:30 describes the scene by saying that the “angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mt. Sinai in the flame of a burning thorn bush,” NASB.  It is also interesting to note that later YHWH would tell Moses to build a tabernacle of acacia wood and cover it in gold in Exodus 26:29.  Acacia is a small tree whose branches are covered with very long thorns.  Would could these thorns symbolize?

As Moses heard the sacred name he also looked past the flames of yellow and red to see the spiky thorns.  Perhaps Moses thought of the trapped lamb that Abraham once found in a thorny thicket.  Or maybe, just maybe, the thorny bush was in a round shape like a crown – like the crown of thorns Messiah Y’shua would wear as He was being crucified?  All we know is that it was a thorn bush one a mountain top that YHWH used to call his servant Moses and reveal the true name.  YHWH is still using a crown of thorns from the hill of Golgotha to draw people to himself today. 

Applying the Portion to Life Today
Moshe and Aharon both took deep breaths as they approached the king of Egypt.  They had a radical message to take to the ruler.  Nevertheless, it had to be done.  The Almighty had spoken to Moshe and now Moshe had to speak to Pharaoh.  With butterflies in his stomach and a frog in his throat, Moshe began to speak.  His brother also presented the Israelite case before Pharaoh.  Their message was simple and their message was heard.  “Here is what YHWH the Mighty One, the Elohim of Israel, says “Let my people go so that they can celebrate a festival in the desert to me,” Shemot 5:1.  

These powerful words fell on silence and Pharaoh shifted in his huge throne.  He was definitely uncomfortable with this message.  His eyes seemed to dart wildly from side to side.  They seemed to be looking for something or someone.  His face moved as he looked at his statues, as he looked at his gods.  Perhaps he was searching for an altar to “YHWH” but he could not find it.  Then, almost without a sound Pharaoh stood and spoke with a booming voice, “Who is YHWH that I should obey when he says to let Israel go?  I don’t know YHWH, and I also won’t let Israel go.”

 Pharaoh knows well the gods of Mitzrayim (Egypt).  Yet he does not know or recognize the Elohim of Israel.  Pharaoh doesn’t know YHWH so Pharaoh doesn’t obey YHWH.  

Even today a distorted view of Father YHWH leads man to disobedience to His word and rebellion against his ways.  To answer Pharaoh’s question (and maybe yours) let’s look to the events of this week’s parasha.  Just who is the Elohim of Israel?  The answers might surprise you.

He is an Elohim to be feared
Early on in this portion Pharaoh instructed the midwives of Egypt to kill the children of the Hebrews if a boy was being born.  Yet, the Torah states that the midwives disobeyed the ruler of Egypt because they feared Elohim.  Fear, or deep respect, for YHWH will lead to obedience to YHWH.  And obedience always leads to blessing.  Evidently the midwives feared Elohim more than they feared Pharaoh.  Their defiance to a ruler of this world brought blessing from the Ruler of the universe.

Fear though is a tricky thing.  Fear of Elohim leads to profit but fear of man leads to bondage.   If you fear something or someone then this emotion could lead you to act irrationally or be scared of events.  For example, Pharaoh was motivated by fear to kill the Hebrews.  The Talmud says that astrologers had warned Pharaoh that a savior was to be born to Israel soon.  This caused Pharaoh to be afraid of what could happen in the future.  So in response to his fear of man, Pharaoh sought to kill off all possible boys who could grow and become the Redeemer that was prophesied.  The midwives preserved the lives of the Hebrew boys because they feared or respected YHWH.  Fear of man leads to death, while fear of YHWH leads to life.  When the Elohim of Israel is feared, actions of righteousness are performed and blessings come.  

He is an Elohim Who hears prayers
“During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to Elohim.  Elohim heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac / Yitz’chak and with Jacob / Ya’acov.  So Elohim looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them,” Exodus / Shemot 2:23-25.

The Israelites prayed for many years about their slavery.  They groaned about their harsh conditions.  YHWH heard their prayer and responded.  He listened and He answered.  The Elohim of Israel hears prayer and responds.  

He is Elohim of the mountain
In this parasha the burning bush is set aflame atop Mount Horev.  This peak is also called Sinai and the “mountain of Elohim” throughout the scriptures.  This is the mountain where YHWH reveals himself to Moshe.  He tells Moshe that Israel will assemble at this very place to worship as a nation freed from bondage and slavery.  Consequently it is here, on the mountain of Elohim that the Torah is given to Moshe.  Mount Horev is a place of worship, a place of holiness; it is a place of YHWH.  Here the “the glory of YHWH was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel,” Shemot 24:17.  Many Bible teachers also agree that it was on Horev that Y'shua’s transfiguration took place, thus revealing the glory of YHWH Y’shua.  

You see, mountain peaks are very important to the message of the Bible.  Much of the Messiah’s ministry and life took place on mountaintops.  The mountain is a place where man can do aliyah or ascension to meet with YHWH.  “Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of YHWH, to the house of the Elohim of Ya’acov.  He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”  The Torah will go out from Zion, the word of YHWH from Jerusalem,” says Micah 4:2.  The mountain is a place of meeting for instruction from YHWH.

On these high peaks Moshe was instructed to go to Pharaoh, Torah was given to Israel, and Y’shua delivered the “sermon on the Mount.”  The mountain of Elohim is where YHWH is revealed as teacher.  It is where man goes up and YHWH comes down and life is forever changed.  Notice the eternal pattern here – man goes up and YHWH comes down.

The Elohim of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’acov
“Then he said, “I am the Elohim of your father, the Elohim of Avraham, the Elohim of Yitzchak, and the Elohim of Ya’acov.” At this, Moshe hid his face, because he was afraid to look at Elohim,” Shemot 3:6.  It is here that this eternal phrase of the patriarchal name is first used.  The mighty one of Israel is the Elohim of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’acov.

For Moshe each name must have brought to mind how YHWH had interacted with these patriarchs in times gone by.  For us this title should still do the same.  YHWH is a personal Elohim.  He appeared and related personally to the founding fathers of the faith.  He called out to Avraham, He appeared to Yitzchak, and He wrestled with Ya’acov.  “Like the patriarchs each person should believe in YHWH on the basis of personal investigation, not merely tradition,” says the classic Jewish book “Etz Yosef.”  As Father YHWH He was with Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’acov He was with Moshe.  And is with us today.

This name is also a direct reference to the resurrection power of YHWH.  Y’shua quoted the Torah and said, “But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what Elohim said to you, ‘I am the Elohim of Avraham, the Elohim of Yitz’chak, and the Elohim of Ya’acov? He is not the Elohim of the dead but of the living.”  You see Avraham was dead yet YHWH is the Elohim of Avraham.  Just as He was, and Is, and Is to come YHWH is the Elohim of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’acov. 

The Elohim Whose name is YHWH
When you meet someone, usually the first thing you do is tell that person your name.  Next you hear them tell you theirs.  When a name is exchanged a bond is made.  Well, the Elohim of Israel has a personal name.  This designation is to be remembered forever and used for all eternity.  When a person calls on the name of YHWH a bond is made and blessings abound.  “Anyone who calls on the name of YHWH will be saved,” says the scriptures.

“Elohim also said to Moshe, ‘Say to the Israelites, ‘YHVH, the Elohim of your fathers—the Elohim of Avraham, the Elohim of Yitzchak and the Elohim of Ya’acov—has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation,’” Shemot 3:14.  What was spoken to him was four Hebrew letters that mirror the verb form of “to be.”  These four letters are “yod-hey-waw-hey” or “YHWH.”  This is THE name of the creator.  “YHWH” is found over 6800 times throughout the scriptures hidden behind the capitalized term “Lord” in English Bibles.  The Jewish Publication Society says, “YHVH was probably pronounced “Yahweh,” but in Second Temple times, as an expression of reverence Jews began to avoid uttering it, substituting “Adonai” and other surrogates.”  Why though would the Creator of the Universe reveal His name to Moshe, tell Moshe to use it, and command it to be used for all generations if He wanted to be called something different?  The Elohim of Israel is YHWH.  Moshe used His name and so should we.

Who is YHWH?
Much more can be discovered about YHWH in this weekly Torah account.  Just a little reading will discover that He is the Elohim of worship, the Elohim of miracles and wonders, and the Elohim of Israel.  What also takes place in this parasha is the defiance of Pharaoh.  Remember that is was Pharaoh who declared “Who is YHWH that I should obey when he says to let Israel go?  I don’t know YHWH, and I also won’t let Israel go.”  This trap of rebellion is easy to fall in if you don’t become acquainted with the truth about the Elohim of Israel.

The events that followed the dramatic conversation between Moshe and Pharaoh occurred to respond to that simple question.  The miracles, the plagues, and even the exodus are answers to Pharaoh’s query.  In our current portion, a battle began between the “gods” of Egypt/Mitzrayim and the Elohim of Israel.  The god of the Nile, the sun, the animals, and the god of Pharaoh will soon be triumphed over.  Pharaoh will finally obey YHWH and let Israel go.  This will occur when Pharaoh at long last understands that YHWH is THE Elohim of the Universe.

Honestly though, it is hard to obey someone you don’t know.  Many people don’t obey the commandments of the Torah because they don’t understand the Elohim of the Torah.  So, get to know Father YHWH.  Times of deception are now ending with the restoration of all things.  This restoration includes a proper understanding and knowledge of YHWH the Almighty.    Discover in this parasha and throughout scripture just Who YHWH is.  When you do you’ll be amazed, humbled, and led to obedience.  

Portion Points to Ponder

  1. Read Isaiah 27:6-28:13, 29:22-23, and Jeremiah 1:1-2:3.  How does this relate to the story of Genesis this week?
  2. Consider the words found in 1 Corinthians 14:13-25.  What did you learn from studying this passage?
  3. How does this Torah portion speak of the Messiah Y’shua?
  4. Describe two ways that you can apply this week’s Torah portion to your life.
  5. Why is this portion called “Shemot” in Hebrew?  Where does the term “Exodus” come from?
  6. Why doesn’t Exodus list the grandchildren of Jacob that came into Egypt?
  7. The children of Israel were fruitful and multiplied.  Where has this phrase been used before in the Bible?
  8. The new Pharaoh did not “know” Joseph.  What does this word “know” really mean in the Hebrew?
  9. Pharaoh was afraid that Israel would multiply and take over his nation.  What other rulers in the past have acted in fear and persecuted the Hebrew people?
  10. What cities did the Hebrew people build for Pharaoh? Were the Israelites blessed in their service to Pharaoh?
  11. In your opinion, why would the children of Israel grow in the face of persecution?
  12. Explain how the Egyptians made the lives of the Hebrews bitter.
  13. The midwives feared Elohim more than Pharaoh and did not obey his evil decrees.  When is it acceptable to blatantly disregard the authority of the government?  Did they sin by being untruthful to Pharaoh about the speed of the babies’ delivery?
  14. What river were the male children cast into to die?  Explain how this river was a god to the Egyptians.
  15. Pharaoh's sole concern was for all the boys to be cast into the river, while the fate of the girls did not seem to interest him. Why did he add, "Every daughter you shall sustain"?
  16. Who were Moses’ parents?  From what tribe did they descend?
  17. Moses was saved by being placed in an ark of wood.  Explain how this deliverance was similar to the story of Noach.
  18. How were the actions of Pharaoh to kill the sons of Israel similar to those of Herod in the New Testament?  What spirit was behind these actions?
  19. Why would the daughter of Pharaoh come to the wash herself in a river that was used to drown children?  Couldn’t she have had water brought to her?  What does Judaism teach about her?
  20. What emotion did the daughter of Pharaoh express upon looking at Moses in the basket?  Where else in the Bible does this emotion prompt action?
  21. Who named the baby “Moses?”  What does this name mean?  How is this name symbolic of his future as a redeemer of Israel?
  22. In your opinion, do you think Moses knew he was a Hebrew and not an Egyptian as he grew up and when he killed the Egyptian?
  23. Because of Moses’ sin of manslaughter, he faced capital punishment.  Moses was then exiled from the land and allowed to live in Midian.  How is this pattern of sin-hiding-exile found in the Creation account?
  24. What god did the priests of Midian worship?
  25. Are there any parallels between the actions of Moses at the well and the actions of Rebekah at the well in Genesis 24?
  26. Who was the wife of Moses?  What was the name of their son?
  27. Why did it take so long for YHWH to remember his chosen people and redeem them from harsh slaver?
  28. Who was Moses’ father-in-law? 
  29. At what mountain did Moses experience the burning bush?
  30. Who is “the angel of YHWH” that appeared to Moses at the burning bush?
  31. Why was Moshe told to remove his shoes?  Did the high priests wear shoes as he ministered in the holy of holies?
  32. What would later occur on the same mountain where the burning bush was sighted?
  33. How does YHWH describe the Promised Land in Genesis 3?
  34. What sign was Moshe to give to the leaders of Israel when they questioned Moses’ authority to lead them out of Egypt?
  35. What name did the Almighty reveal to Moses?  Has this name ever changed or is it “eternal?”
  36. Would the Hebrew leaders recognize the name of YHWH or would they be hearing it for the first time?
  37. How is YHWH’s name “a memorial to all generations?”
  38. What is the traditional Jewish view of the name YHWH?  What does mainstream Christianity do with YHWH’s name?  Why is there so much controversy about YHWH’s name?
  39. For what purpose was YHWH leading the people out of Egypt?
  40. Did YHWH promise Moses an easy faith or would he have trials?  Would Pharaoh agree to Moses’ demands?
  41. How did Moses answer YHWH at the burning bush?  Was he speaking in faith?
  42. Explain the sign of the rod and the serpent?  How would the serpent later be lifted up as a symbol in the wilderness?  What did Y’shua say about the serpent being lifted up in the wilderness in John 3?
  43. Why did YHWH show Moses the miracle of leprosy?  What does leprosy represent in the Torah?
  44. How many signs did YHWH show Moses on the mountain?
  45. Discuss how this verse speaks of Messiah Y’shua - Exodus 4:8, “It shall come to pass that if they do not believe the first sign that they shall believe the second sign.”
  46. What was the first plague given to the people of Egypt?
  47. What does it mean that Moses was of “slow tongue?”  Is this similar to Isaiah in Isaiah 1?
  48. Was it right for Moses to bargain with YHWH about going to Pharaoh?
  49. Compare Exodus 4:15 to Matthew 10:19.
  50. How are the antichrist and the false prophet a counterfeit of Moses and Aaron?
  51. What does it mean that “YHWH will harden Pharaoh’s heart?”
  52. Explain the Exodus 4:22 which says, “Israel is my son, even my first born.”  What is the significance of Israel being YHWH’s “firstborn?”
  53. Did YHWH give Pharaoh fair warning of the impending tenth plague death of the firstborn?  Could Pharaoh have repented and listened to the voice of YHWH and stopped this plague?
  54. How did Zipporah act righteously concerning her son’s circumcision?
  55. Study Exodus 4:25 which states “thou art a bloody husband to me.”  What did Zipporah mean when she said this?  Is circumcision important today?
  56. Where did Aaron and Moses meet?  How did they greet each other? 
  57. How did the leaders/elders of the children of Israel respond? 
  58. What moed / feast were the Israelites to celebrate to YHWH in the wilderness?  How long would it last?
  59. How did the Hebrews make bricks without straw?
  60. The Hebrew foreman and servants of Pharaoh spoke harshly to Moses and even called down judgment upon him.  Were these naysayers focused on leaving the bondage of Egypt?  Why or why not?

The Open Bible is a teaching series written by Daniel Rendelman of Emet Ministries.  Daniel Rendelman is the found and leader of Emet Ministries and the author of the book “Finding the Truth.”  He, his wife, and five children live in Newberry, South Carolina.  He can be reached at emetministries@gmail.com.  Find more teachings, audio messages, videos, and music at www.emetministries.com.