Parashat Bo (Come) Exodus 10:1-13:16
Haftarah: Jeremiah 46:13-28
In this week’s Torah portion one reads about Passover and the Children of Israel coming out of Egypt. This is known by the Rabbis as the “First Redemption”. The fact that Messiah Yeshua is called “our Passover” and He was crucified on the 14th day of Nissan, (Passover Day), informs the reader that Passover should be very important to the believer. This message is commanded to be told from one generation to the next (See Exodus 13:8). Immediately after the Word of G-d reveals this, it states,
“And it shall be for you for a sign upon your hand and for a reminder between your eyes; for the sake that the Torah of the L-rd shall be in your mouth, because with a strong hand HaShem brought you out of Egypt.” Exodus 13:9
What is the purpose of this verse and why does it appear in this section of Scripture? The verse reveals an on-going effect of redemption in one’s life. It teaches that Israel came out of Egypt to embrace and to follow the instructions of G-d, i.e. the Torah. When one responds faithfully, he has access to the same power that brought the Children of Israel out of bondage and into the will of G-d.
When one reads the entire 13th chapter of Exodus, he finds that this chapter is related to redemption, as one of its main topics is the “redeeming of the firstborn”. So twice there is a hint to redemption (Passover and the sanctifying of the firstborn). The rabbinical commentators connect this verse with what is said in verse 16,
“And it shall be for a sign upon your arm and for totafot between your eyes, because with a strong arm HaShem brought us out of Egypt.” Exodus 13:16
Although these two verses are similar, there are some significant differences. The word “your arm” is written with an extra letter which relates to G-d. It is the same letter that was added to Abram and Sarai to change their names. This additional letter may relate to the fact that when a person experiences redemption, one of the results is that HaShem enters into his life. The next difference is that instead of speaking of a “reminder” the Hebrew word טוטפות appears. According to Talmudic tradition this word relates to decorations which most understand as referring to the phylacteries (See Matthew 23:5). The phylacteries are worn on the bicep of the arm and on one’s forehead in between the eyes. According to tradition, they remind one to act and to think based upon the commandments. The third difference is the additional phrase found in verse 9, “for the sake that the Torah of the L-rd shall be in your mouth“. This sentence relates to HaShem’s third expectation of His people: to speak the commandments. The final difference is found in the concluding phrase, “because with a strong arm HaShem brought us out of Egypt“. In verse 9, the order of the words, “strong” and “hand” are changed, although in English this change is not normally reflected. What is the significance of this change in order? The change reveals an emphasis on the strength of the hand. It is proper to conclude that within this verse there are many references to power, the power to break free of sin and serve our L-rd. For this is what redemption is all about.
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