Exodus 4:18-17:16 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
(vi) 18 Moshe left, returned to Yitro his father-in-law and said to him, “I beg you to let me go and return to my kinsmen in Egypt, to see if they are still alive.” Yitro said to Moshe, “Go in peace.” 19 Adonai said to Moshe in Midyan, “Go on back to Egypt, because all the men who wanted to kill you are dead.” 20 So Moshe took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey, and started out for Egypt. Moshe took God’s staff in his hand. 21 Adonai said to Moshe, “When you get back to Egypt, make sure that you do before Pharaoh every one of the wonders I have enabled you to do. Nevertheless, I am going to make him hardhearted, and he will refuse to let the people go. 22 Then you are to tell Pharaoh: ‘Adonai says, “Isra’el is my firstborn son. 23 I have told you to let my son go in order to worship me, but you have refused to let him go. Well, then, I will kill your firstborn son!”’”
24 At a lodging-place on the way, Adonai met Moshe and would have killed him, 25 had not Tzipporah taken a flintstone and cut off the foreskin of her son. She threw it at his feet, saying, “What a bloody bridegroom you are for me!” 26 But then, God let Moshe be. She added, “A bloody bridegroom because of the circumcision!”
27 Adonai said to Aharon, “Go into the desert to meet Moshe.” He went, met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 Moshe told him everything Adonai had said in sending him, including all the signs he had ordered him to perform. 29 Then Moshe and Aharon went and gathered together all the leaders of the people of Isra’el. 30 Aharon said everything Adonai had told Moshe, who then performed the signs for the people to see. 31 The people believed; when they heard that Adonai had remembered the people of Isra’el and seen how they were oppressed, they bowed their heads and worshipped.
5 (vii) After that, Moshe and Aharon came and said to Pharaoh, “Here is what Adonai, the God of Isra’el, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they can celebrate a festival in the desert to honor me.’” 2 But Pharaoh replied, “Who is Adonai, that I should obey when he says to let Isra’el go? I don’t know Adonai, and I also won’t let Isra’el go.” 3 They said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go three days’ journey into the desert, so that we can sacrifice to Adonai our God. Otherwise, he may strike us with a plague or with the sword.” 4 The king of Egypt answered them, “Moshe and Aharon, what do you mean by taking the people away from their work? Get back to your labor! 5 Look!” Pharaoh added, “the population of the land has grown, yet you are trying to have them stop working!”
6 That same day Pharaoh ordered the slavemasters and the people’s foremen, 7 “You are no longer to provide straw for the bricks the people are making, as you did before. Let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8 But you will require them to produce the same quantity of bricks as before, don’t reduce it, because they’re lazing around. This is why they’re crying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Give these people harder work to do. That will keep them too busy to pay attention to speeches full of lies.”
10 The people’s slavemasters went out, their foremen too, and said to the people, “Here is what Pharaoh says: ‘I will no longer give you straw. 11 You go, yourselves, and get straw wherever you can find it. But your output is not to be reduced.’” 12 So the people were dispersed throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. 13 The slavemasters kept pressing them. “Keep working! Make your daily quota, just as when straw was provided.” 14 The foremen of the people of Isra’el, whom Pharaoh’s slavemasters had appointed to be over them, were flogged and asked, “Why haven’t you fulfilled your quota of bricks yesterday and today, as you did formerly?”
15 Then the foremen of the people of Isra’el came and complained to Pharaoh: “Why are you treating your servants this way? 16 No straw is given to your servants, yet they keep telling us to make bricks. And now your servants are being flogged, but the fault lies with your own people.” 17 “Lazy!” he retorted, “You’re just lazy! That’s why you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to Adonai.’ 18 Get going now, and get back to work! No straw will be given to you, and you will still deliver the full amount of bricks.” 19 When they said, “You are not to reduce your daily production quota of bricks,” the foremen of the people of Isra’el could see that they were in deep trouble.
20 As they were leaving Pharaoh, they encountered Moshe and Aharon standing by the road; 21 and they said to them, “May Adonai look at you and judge accordingly, because you have made us utterly abhorrent in the view of Pharaoh and his servants, and you have put a sword in their hands to kill us!” (Maftir) 22 Moshe returned to Adonai and said, “Adonai, why have you treated this people so terribly? What has been the value of sending me? 23 For ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has dealt terribly with this people! And you haven’t rescued your people at all!”
6 Adonai said to Moshe, “Now you will see what I am going to do to Pharaoh. With a mighty hand he will send them off; with force he will drive them from the land!”
Haftarah Sh’mot: Yesha‘yahu (Isaiah) 27:6–28:13; 29:22–23 (A); Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 1:1–2:3 (S)
B’rit Hadashah suggested readings for Parashah Sh’mot: Mattityahu (Matthew) 22:23–33; 41–46; Mark 12:18–27; 35–37; Luke 20:27–44; Acts 3:12–15; 5:27–32; 7:17–36; 22:12–16; 24:14–16; Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 11:23–26
Parashah 14: Va’era (I appeared) 6:2–9:35
2 God spoke to Moshe; he said to him, “I am Adonai. 3 I appeared to Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya‘akov as El Shaddai, although I did not make myself known to them by my name, Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh [Adonai]. 4 Also with them I established my covenant to give them the land of Kena‘an, the land where they wandered about and lived as foreigners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Isra’el, whom the Egyptians are keeping in slavery; and I have remembered my covenant.
6 “Therefore, say to the people of Isra’el: ‘I am Adonai. I will free you from the forced labor of the Egyptians, rescue you from their oppression, and redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 I will take you as my people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am Adonai your God, who freed you from the forced labor of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya‘akov — I will give it to you as your inheritance. I am Adonai.’”
9 Moshe said this to the people of Isra’el. But they wouldn’t listen to him, because they were so discouraged, and their slavery was so cruel.
10 Adonai said to Moshe, 11 “Go in; and tell Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to let the people of Isra’el leave his land.” 12 Moshe said to Adonai, “Look, the people of Isra’el haven’t listened to me; so how will Pharaoh listen to me, poor speaker that I am?” 13 But Adonai spoke to Moshe and Aharon and gave them orders concerning both the people of Isra’el and Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to bring the people of Isra’el out of the land of Egypt.
(ii) 14 These were the heads of their families: the sons of Re’uven the firstborn of Isra’el were Hanokh, Pallu, Hetzron and Karmi. These were the families of Re’uven.
15 The sons of Shim‘on were Y’mu’el, Yamin, Ohad, Yakhin, Tzochar and Sha’ul the son of a Kena‘ani woman. These were the families of Shim‘on.
16 These are the names of the sons of Levi with their descendants: Gershon, K’hat and M’rari. Levi lived to be 137 years old. 17 The sons of Gershon were Livni and Shim‘i, with their families. 18 The sons of K’hat were ‘Amram, Yitz’har, Hevron and ‘Uzi’el. K’hat lived to be 133 years old. 19 The sons of M’rari were Machli and Mushi. These were the families of Levi with their descendants.
20 ‘Amram married Yokheved his father’s sister, and she bore him Aharon and Moshe. ‘Amram lived to be 137 years old. 21 The sons of Yitz’har were Korach, Nefeg and Zikhri. 22 The sons of ‘Uzi’el were Misha’el, Eltzafan and Sitri. 23 Aharon married Elisheva daughter of ‘Amminadav and sister of Nachshon, and she bore him Nadav, Avihu, El‘azar and Itamar. 24 The sons of Korach were Asir, Elkanah and Avi’asaf. These were the Korchi families. 25 El‘azar the son of Aharon married one of the daughters of Puti’el, and she bore him Pinchas. These were the heads of the families of Levi, family by family.
26 These are the Aharon and Moshe to whom Adonai said, “Bring the people of Isra’el out of the land of Egypt, division by division,” 27 and who told Pharaoh king of Egypt, to let the people of Isra’el leave Egypt. These are the same Moshe and Aharon.
28 On the day when Adonai spoke to Moshe in the land of Egypt, (iii) 29 he said, “I am Adonai. Tell Pharaoh, king of Egypt, everything I say to you.”
30 Moshe answered Adonai, “Look, I’m such a poor speaker that Pharaoh won’t listen to me.”
7 But Adonai said to Moshe, “I have put you in the place of God to Pharaoh, and Aharon your brother will be your prophet. 2 You are to say everything I order you, and Aharon your brother is to speak to Pharaoh and tell him to let the people of Isra’el leave his land. 3 But I will make him hardhearted. Even though I will increase my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my armies, my people the sons of Isra’el, out of the land of Egypt with great acts of judgment. 5 Then, when I stretch out my hand over Egypt and bring the people of Isra’el out from among them, the Egyptians will know that I am Adonai.”
6 Moshe and Aharon did exactly what Adonai ordered them to do. 7 Moshe was eighty years old and Aharon eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.
(iv) 8 Adonai said to Moshe and Aharon, 9 “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ tell Aharon to take his staff and throw it down in front of Pharaoh, so that it can become a snake.” 10 Moshe and Aharon went in to Pharaoh and did this, as Adonai had ordered — Aharon threw down his staff in front of Pharaoh and his servants, and it turned into a snake. 11 But Pharaoh in turn called for the sages and sorcerers; and they too, the magicians of Egypt, did the same thing, making use of their secret arts. 12 Each one threw his staff down, and they turned into snakes. But Aharon’s staff swallowed up theirs. 13 Nevertheless, Pharaoh was made hardhearted; and he didn’t listen to them, as Adonai had said would happen.
14 Adonai said to Moshe, “Pharaoh is stubborn. He refuses to let the people go. 15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning when he goes out to the water. Stand on the riverbank to confront him, take in your hand the staff which was turned into a snake, 16 and say to him, ‘Adonai, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you to say: “Let my people go, so that they can worship me in the desert.” But until now you haven’t listened; 17 so Adonai says, “This will let you know that I am Adonai”: I will take the staff in my hand and strike the water in the river, and it will be turned into blood. 18 The fish in the river will die, the river will stink and the Egyptians won’t want to drink water from the river.’”
19 Adonai said to Moshe, “Say to Aharon, ‘Take your staff, reach out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, canals, ponds and all their reservoirs, so that they can turn into blood. There will be blood throughout the whole land of Egypt, even in the wooden buckets and stone jars.’” 20 Moshe and Aharon did exactly what Adonai had ordered. He raised the staff and, in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, struck the water in the river; and all the water in the river was turned into blood. 21 The fish in the river died, and the river stank so badly that the Egyptians couldn’t drink its water. There was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.
22 But the magicians of Egypt did the same with their secret arts, so that Pharaoh was made hardhearted and didn’t listen to them, as Adonai had said would happen. 23 Pharaoh just turned and went back to his palace, without taking any of this to heart. 24 All the Egyptians dug around the river for water to drink, because they couldn’t drink the river water.
25 Seven days after Adonai had struck the river, 26 (8:1) Adonai said to Moshe, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Here is what Adonai says: “Let my people go, so that they can worship me. 27 (8:2) If you refuse to let them go, I will strike all your territory with frogs. 28 (8:3) The river will swarm with frogs. They will go up, enter your palace and go into your bedroom, onto your bed. They will enter the houses of your servants and your people and go into your ovens and kneading bowls. 29 (8:4) The frogs will climb all over you, your people and your servants.”’”
8 (5) Adonai said to Moshe, “Say to Aharon, ‘Reach out your hand with your staff over the rivers, canals and ponds; and cause frogs to come up onto the land of Egypt.’” 2 (6) Aharon put out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. 3 (7) But the magicians did the same with their secret arts and brought up frogs onto the land of Egypt.
4 (8) Then Pharaoh summoned Moshe and Aharon and said, “Intercede with Adonai to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let the people go and sacrifice to Adonai.” 5 (9) Moshe said to Pharaoh, “Not only that, but you can have the honor of naming the time when I will pray for you, your servants and your people to be rid of the frogs, both yourselves and your homes, and that they stay only in the river.” 6 (10) He answered, “Tomorrow.” Moshe said, “It will be as you have said, and from this you will learn that Adonai our God has no equal. (v) 7 (11) The frogs will leave you and your homes, also your servants and your people; they will stay in the river only.” 8 (12) Moshe and Aharon left Pharaoh’s presence, and Moshe cried to Adonai about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh. 9 (13) Adonai did as Moshe had asked — the frogs died in the houses, courtyards and fields; 10 (14) they gathered them in heaps till the land stank. 11 (15) But when Pharaoh saw that he had been given some relief, he made himself hardhearted and would not listen to them, just as Adonai had said would happen.
12 (16) Adonai said to Moshe, “Say to Aharon: ‘Reach out with your staff and strike the dust on the ground; it will become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.’” 13 (17) They did it — Aharon reached out his hand with his staff and struck the dust on the ground, and there were lice on people and animals; all the dust on the ground became lice throughout the whole land of Egypt. 14 (18) The magicians tried with their secret arts to produce lice, but they couldn’t. There were lice on people and animals. 15 (19) Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh was made hardhearted, so that he didn’t listen to them, just as Adonai had said would happen.
16 (20) Adonai said to Moshe, “Get up early in the morning, stand before Pharaoh when he goes out to the water and say to him, ‘Here is what Adonai says: “Let my people go, so that they can worship me. 17 (21) Otherwise, if you won’t let my people go, I will send swarms of insects on you, your servants and your people, and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of swarms of insects, and likewise the ground they stand on. 18 (22) But I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people live — no swarms of insects will be there — so that you can realize that I am Adonai, right here in the land. (vi) 19 (23) Yes, I will distinguish between my people and your people, and this sign will happen by tomorrow.”’” 20 (24) Adonai did it: terrible swarms of insects went into Pharaoh’s palace and into all his servants’ houses — the insects ruined the entire land of Egypt.
21 (25) Pharaoh summoned Moshe and Aharon and said, “Go, and sacrifice to your God here in the land.” 22 (26) But Moshe replied, “It would be inappropriate for us to do that, because the animal we sacrifice to Adonai our God is an abomination to the Egyptians. Won’t the Egyptians stone us to death if before their very eyes we sacrifice what they consider an abomination? 23 (27) No, we will go three days’ journey into the desert and sacrifice to Adonai our God, as he has ordered us to do.” 24 (28) Pharaoh said, “I will let you go, so that you can sacrifice to Adonai your God in the desert. Only you are not to go very far away. Intercede on my behalf.” 25 (29) Moshe said, “All right, I am going away from you, and I will intercede with Adonai; so that tomorrow, the swarms of insects will leave Pharaoh, his servants and his people. Just make sure that Pharaoh stops playing games with the people by preventing them from going and sacrificing to Adonai.”
26 (30) Moshe left Pharaoh and interceded with Adonai, 27 (31) and Adonai did what Moshe had asked: he removed the swarms of insects from Pharaoh, his servants and his people — not one remained. 28 (32) But this time, too, Pharaoh made himself stubborn and didn’t let the people go.
9 Then Adonai said to Moshe, “Go to Pharaoh, and tell him, ‘Here is what Adonai, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, so that they can worship me. 2 If you refuse to let them go and persist in holding on to them, 3 the hand of Adonai is on your livestock in the field — on the horses, donkeys, camels, cattle and flocks — and will make them suffer a devastating illness. 4 But Adonai will distinguish between Egypt’s and Isra’el’s livestock — nothing belonging to the people of Isra’el will die.”’” 5 Adonai determined the exact time by saying, “Tomorrow Adonai will do this in the land.” 6 The following day, Adonai did it — all the livestock of Egypt died; but not one of the animals belonging to the people of Isra’el died. 7 Pharaoh investigated and found that not even one of the animals of the people of Isra’el had died. Nevertheless, Pharaoh’s heart remained stubborn, and he didn’t let the people go.
8 Adonai said to Moshe and Aharon, “Take handfuls of ashes from a kiln, and let Moshe throw them in the air before Pharaoh’s eyes. 9 They will turn into fine dust over all the land of Egypt and become infected sores on men and animals throughout Egypt.” 10 So they took ashes from a kiln, stood in front of Pharaoh and threw them in the air; and they became infected sores on men and animals. 11 The magicians couldn’t even stand in Moshe’s presence because of the sores, which were on them as well as on the other Egyptians. 12 But Adonai made Pharaoh hardhearted, so that he didn’t listen to them — just as Adonai had said to Moshe.
13 Adonai said to Moshe, “Get up early in the morning, stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘Here is what Adonai says: “Let my people go, so that they can worship me. 14 For this time, I will inflict my plagues on you, yourself, and on your officials and your people; so that you will realize that I am without equal in all the earth. 15 By now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with such severe plagues that you would have been wiped off the earth. 16 But it is for this very reason that I have kept you alive — to show you my power, and so that my name may resound throughout the whole earth. (vii) 17 Since you are still setting yourself up against my people and not letting them go, 18 tomorrow, about this time, I will cause a hailstorm so heavy that Egypt has had nothing like it from the day it was founded until now. 19 Therefore, send and hurry to bring indoors all your livestock and everything else you have in the field. For hail will fall on every human being and animal left in the field that hasn’t been brought home, and they will die.”’”
20 Whoever among Pharaoh’s servants feared what Adonai had said had his slaves and livestock escape into the houses; 21 but those who had no regard for what Adonai had said left their slaves and livestock in the field.
22 Adonai said to Moshe, “Reach out your hand toward the sky, so that there will be hail in all the land of Egypt, falling on people, animals and everything growing in the field, throughout the land of Egypt.” 23 Moshe reached out with his staff toward the sky, and Adonai sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. Adonai caused it to hail on the land of Egypt — 24 it hailed, and fire flashed up with the hail; it was terrible, worse than any hailstorm in all of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 Throughout all the land of Egypt, the hail struck everything in the field, people and animals; and the hail struck every plant growing in the field and broke every tree there. 26 But in the land of Goshen, where the people of Isra’el were, there was no hail.
27 Pharaoh summoned Moshe and Aharon and said to them, “This time I have sinned: Adonai is in the right; I and my people are in the wrong. 28 Intercede with Adonai — we can’t take any more of this terrible thunder and hail; and I will let you go, you will stay no longer.” 29 Moshe said to him, “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands to Adonai; the thunder will end, and there won’t be any more hail — so that you can know that the earth belongs to Adonai. 30 But you and your servants, I know you still won’t fear Adonai, God.” 31 The flax and barley were ruined, because the barley was ripe and the flax in bud. 32 But the wheat and buckwheat were not ruined, because they come up later. (Maftir) 33 Moshe went out of the city, away from Pharaoh, and spread out his hands to Adonai. The thunder and hail ended, and the rain stopped pouring down on the earth. 34 When Pharaoh saw that the rain, hail and thunder had ended, he sinned still more by making himself hardhearted, he and his servants. 35 Pharaoh was made hardhearted, and he didn’t let the people of Isra’el go, just as Adonai had said through Moshe.
Haftarah Va’era: Yechezk’el (Ezekiel) 28:25–29:21
B’rit Hadashah suggested readings for Parashah Va’era: Romans 9:14–17; 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1
Parashah 15: Bo (Go) 10:1–13:16
10 Adonai said to Moshe, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have made him and his servants hardhearted, so that I can demonstrate these signs of mine among them, 2 so that you can tell your son and grandson about what I did to Egypt and about my signs that I demonstrated among them, and so that you will all know that I am Adonai.” 3 Moshe and Aharon went in to Pharaoh and said to him, “Here is what Adonai, God of the Hebrews, says: ‘How much longer will you refuse to submit to me? Let my people go, so that they can worship me. 4 Otherwise, if you refuse to let my people go, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory. 5 One won’t be able to see the ground, so completely will the locusts cover it. They will eat anything you still have that escaped the hail, including every tree you have growing in the field. 6 They will fill your houses and those of your servants and of all the Egyptians. It will be like nothing your fathers or their fathers have ever seen since the day they were born until today.’” Then he turned his back and left.
7 Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How much longer must this fellow be a snare for us? Let the people go and worship Adonai their God. Don’t you understand yet that Egypt is being destroyed?” 8 So Moshe and Aharon were brought to Pharaoh again, and he said to them, “Go, worship Adonai your God. But who exactly is going?” 9 Moshe answered, “We will go with our young and our old, our sons and our daughters; and we will go with our flocks and herds; for we must celebrate a feast to Adonai.” 10 Pharaoh said to them, “Adonai certainly will be with you if I ever let you go with your children! It’s clear that you are up to no good. 11 Nothing doing! Just the men among you may go and worship Adonai. That’s what you want, isn’t it?” And they were driven out of Pharaoh’s presence.
(ii) 12 Adonai said to Moshe, “Reach out your hand over the land of Egypt, so that locusts will invade the land and eat every plant that the hail has left.” 13 Moshe reached out with his staff over the land of Egypt, and Adonai caused an east wind to blow on the land all day and all night; and in the morning the east wind brought the locusts. 14 The locusts went up over all the land of Egypt and settled throughout Egypt’s territory. It was an invasion more severe than there had ever been before or will ever be again. 15 They completely covered the ground, so that the ground looked black. They ate every plant growing from the ground and all the fruit of the trees left by the hail. Not one green thing remained, not a tree and not a plant in the field, in all the land of Egypt.
16 Pharaoh hurried to summon Moshe and Aharon and said, “I have sinned against Adonai your God and against you. 17 Now, therefore, please forgive my sin just this once; and intercede with Adonai your God, so that he will at least take away from me this deadly plague!” 18 He went out from Pharaoh and interceded with Adonai. 19 Adonai reversed the wind and made it blow very strongly from the west. It took up the locusts and drove them into the Sea of Suf; not one locust remained on Egyptian soil. 20 But Adonai made Pharaoh hardhearted, and he didn’t let the people of Isra’el go.
21 Adonai said to Moshe, “Reach out your hand toward the sky, and there will be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness so thick it can be felt!” 22 Moshe reached out his hand toward the sky, and there was a thick darkness in the entire land of Egypt for three days. 23 People couldn’t see each other, and no one went anywhere for three days. But all the people of Isra’el had light in their homes.
(iii) 24 Pharaoh summoned Moshe and said, “Go, worship Adonai; only leave your flocks and herds behind — your children may go with you.” 25 Moshe answered, “You must also see to it that we have sacrifices and burnt offerings, so that we can sacrifice to Adonai our God. 26 Our livestock will also go with us — not a hoof will be left behind — because we must choose some of them to worship Adonai our God, and we don’t know which ones we will need to worship Adonai until we get there.” 27 But Adonai made Pharaoh hardhearted, and he would not let them go. 28 Pharaoh said to them, “Get away from me! And you had better not see my face again, because the day you see my face, you will die!” 29 Moshe answered, “Well spoken! I will see your face no more.”
11 Adonai said to Moshe, “I’m going to bring still one more plague on Pharaoh and Egypt, and after that he will let you leave here. When he does let you go, he will throw you out completely! 2 Now tell the people that every man is to ask his neighbor and every woman her neighbor for gold and silver jewelry.” 3 Adonai made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people. Moreover, Moshe was regarded by Pharaoh’s servants and the people as a very great man in the land of Egypt.
(iv) 4 Moshe said, “Here is what Adonai says: ‘About midnight I will go out into Egypt, 5 and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt will die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh sitting on his throne to the firstborn of the slave-girl at the handmill, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 6 There will be a horrendous wailing throughout all the land of Egypt — there has never been another like it, and there never will be again. 7 But not even a dog’s growl will be heard against any of the people of Isra’el, neither against people nor against animals. In this way you will realize that Adonai distinguishes between Egyptians and Isra’el. 8 All your servants will come down to me, prostrate themselves before me and say, “Get out! — you and all the people who follow you!” and after that, I will go out!’ ” And he went out from Pharaoh in the heat of anger. 9 Adonai said to Moshe, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that still more of my wonders will be shown in the land of Egypt.”
10 Moshe and Aharon did all these wonders before Pharaoh, but Adonai had made Pharaoh hardhearted, and he didn’t let the people of Isra’el leave his land.
12 Adonai spoke to Moshe and Aharon in the land of Egypt; he said, 2 “You are to begin your calendar with this month; it will be the first month of the year for you. 3 Speak to all the assembly of Isra’el and say, ‘On the tenth day of this month, each man is to take a lamb or kid for his family, one per household — 4 except that if the household is too small for a whole lamb or kid, then he and his next-door neighbor should share one, dividing it in proportion to the number of people eating it. 5 Your animal must be without defect, a male in its first year, and you may choose it from either the sheep or the goats.
6 “‘You are to keep it until the fourteenth day of the month, and then the entire assembly of the community of Isra’el will slaughter it at dusk. 7 They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the two sides and top of the door-frame at the entrance of the house in which they eat it. 8 That night, they are to eat the meat, roasted in the fire; they are to eat it with matzah and maror. 9 Don’t eat it raw or boiled, but roasted in the fire, with its head, the lower parts of its legs and its inner organs. 10 Let nothing of it remain till morning; if any of it does remain, burn it up completely.
11 “‘Here is how you are to eat it: with your belt fastened, your shoes on your feet and your staff in your hand; and you are to eat it hurriedly. It is Adonai’s Pesach [Passover]. 12 For that night, I will pass through the land of Egypt and kill all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both men and animals; and I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt; I am Adonai. 13 The blood will serve you as a sign marking the houses where you are; when I see the blood, I will pass over [a] you — when I strike the land of Egypt, the death blow will not strike you.
14 “‘This will be a day for you to remember and celebrate as a festival to Adonai; from generation to generation you are to celebrate it by a perpetual regulation.
15 “‘For seven days you are to eat matzah — on the first day remove the leaven from your houses. For whoever eats hametz [leavened bread] from the first to the seventh day is to be cut off from Isra’el. 16 On the first and seventh days, you are to have an assembly set aside for God. On these days no work is to be done, except what each must do to prepare his food; you may do only that. 17 You are to observe the festival of matzah, for on this very day I brought your divisions out of the land of Egypt. Therefore, you are to observe this day from generation to generation by a perpetual regulation. 18 From the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month until the evening of the twenty-first day, you are to eat matzah. 19 During those seven days, no leaven is to be found in your houses. Whoever eats food with hametz in it is to be cut off from the community of Isra’el — it doesn’t matter whether he is a foreigner or a citizen of the land. 20 Eat nothing with hametz in it. Wherever you live, eat matzah.’”
(v) 21 Then Moshe called for all the leaders of Isra’el and said, “Select and take lambs for your families, and slaughter the Pesach lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop leaves and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and smear it on the two sides and top of the door-frame. Then, none of you is to go out the door of his house until morning. 23 For Adonai will pass through to kill the Egyptians; but when he sees the blood on the top and on the two sides, Adonai will pass over the door and will not allow the Slaughterer to enter your houses and kill you. 24 You are to observe this as a law, you and your descendants forever.
25 “When you come to the land which Adonai will give you, as he has promised, you are to observe this ceremony. 26 When your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this ceremony?’ 27 say, ‘It is the sacrifice of Adonai’s Pesach [Passover], because [Adonai] passed over the houses of the people of Isra’el in Egypt, when he killed the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” The people of Isra’el bowed their heads and worshipped. 28 Then the people of Isra’el went and did as Adonai had ordered Moshe and Aharon — that is what they did.
(vi) 29 At midnight Adonai killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh sitting on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock. 30 Pharaoh got up in the night, he, all his servants and all the Egyptians; and there was horrendous wailing in Egypt; for there wasn’t a single house without someone dead in it. 31 He summoned Moshe and Aharon by night and said, “Up and leave my people, both you and the people of Isra’el; and go, serve Adonai as you said. 32 Take both your flocks and your herds, as you said; and get out of here! But bless me, too.” 33 The Egyptians pressed to send the people out of the land quickly, because they said, “Otherwise we’ll all be dead!”
34 The people took their dough before it had become leavened and wrapped their kneading bowls in their clothes on their shoulders. 35 The people of Isra’el had done what Moshe had said — they had asked the Egyptians to give them silver and gold jewelry and clothing; 36 and Adonai had made the Egyptians so favorably disposed toward the people that they had let them have whatever they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
37 The people of Isra’el traveled from Ra‘amses to Sukkot, some six hundred thousand men on foot, not counting children. 38 A mixed crowd also went up with them, as well as livestock in large numbers, both flocks and herds. 39 They baked matzah loaves from the dough they had brought out of Egypt, since it was unleavened; because they had been driven out of Egypt without time to prepare supplies for themselves.
40 The time the people of Isra’el lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of 430 years to the day, all the divisions of Adonai left the land of Egypt. 42 This was a night when Adonai kept vigil to bring them out of the land of Egypt, and this same night continues to be a night when Adonai keeps vigil for all the people of Isra’el through all their generations.
43 Adonai said to Moshe and Aharon, “This is the regulation for the Pesach lamb: no foreigner is to eat it. 44 But if anyone has a slave he bought for money, when you have circumcised him, he may eat it. 45 Neither a traveler nor a hired servant may eat it. 46 It is to be eaten in one house. You are not to take any of the meat outside the house, and you are not to break any of its bones. 47 The whole community of Isra’el is to keep it. 48 If a foreigner staying with you wants to observe Adonai’s Pesach, all his males must be circumcised. Then he may take part and observe it; he will be like a citizen of the land. But no uncircumcised person is to eat it. 49 The same teaching is to apply equally to the citizen and to the foreigner living among you.”
50 All the people of Isra’el did just as Adonai had ordered Moshe and Aharon. 51 On that very day, Adonai brought the people of Isra’el out of the land of Egypt by their divisions.
13 (vii) Adonai said to Moshe, 2 “Set aside for me all the firstborn. Whatever is first from the womb among the people of Isra’el, both of humans and of animals, belongs to me.” 3 Moshe said to the people, “Remember this day, on which you left Egypt, the abode of slavery; because Adonai, by the strength of his hand, has brought you out of this place. Do not eat hametz. 4 You are leaving today, in the month of Aviv. 5 When Adonai brings you into the land of the Kena‘ani, Hitti, Emori, Hivi and Y’vusi, which he swore to your ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you are to observe this ceremony in this month. 6 For seven days you are to eat matzah, and the seventh day is to be a festival for Adonai. 7 Matzah is to be eaten throughout the seven days; neither hametz nor leavening agents are to be seen with you throughout your territory. 8 On that day you are to tell your son, ‘It is because of what Adonai did for me when I left Egypt.’
9 “Moreover, it will serve you as a sign on your hand and as a reminder between your eyes, so that Adonai’s Torah may be on your lips; because with a strong hand Adonai brought you out of Egypt. 10 Therefore you are to observe this regulation at its proper time, year after year. 11 When Adonai brings you into the land of the Kena‘ani, as he swore to you and your ancestors, and gives it to you, 12 you are to set apart for Adonai everything that is first from the womb. Every firstborn male animal will belong to Adonai. 13 Every firstborn from a donkey, you are to redeem with a lamb; but if you choose not to redeem it, you must break its neck. But from people, you are to redeem every firstborn son. (Maftir) 14 When, at some future time, your son asks you, ‘What is this?’ then say to him, ‘With a strong hand Adonai brought us out of Egypt, out of the abode of slavery. 15 When Pharaoh was unwilling to let us go, Adonai killed all the firstborn males in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of humans and the firstborn of animals. This is why I sacrifice to Adonai any male that is first from the womb of an animal, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ 16 This will serve as a sign on your hand and at the front of a headband around your forehead that with a strong hand Adonai brought us out of Egypt.”
Haftarah Bo: Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 46:13–28
B’rit Hadashah suggested readings for Parashah Bo: Luke 2:22–24; Yochanan (John) 19:31–37; Acts 13:16 –17; Revelation 8:6–9:12; 16:1–21
Parashah 16: B’shallach (After he had let go) 13:17–17:16
17 After Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not guide them to the highway that goes through the land of the P’lishtim, because it was close by — God thought that the people, upon seeing war, might change their minds and return to Egypt. 18 Rather, God led the people by a roundabout route, through the desert by the Sea of Suf. The people of Isra’el went up from the land of Egypt fully armed.
19 Moshe took the bones of Yosef with him, for Yosef had made the people of Isra’el swear an oath when he said, “God will certainly remember you; and you are to carry my bones up with you, away from here.”
20 They traveled from Sukkot and set up camp in Etam, at the edge of the desert. 21 Adonai went ahead of them in a column of cloud during the daytime to lead them on their way, and at night in a column of fire to give them light; thus they could travel both by day and by night. 22 Neither the column of cloud by day nor the column of fire at night went away from in front of the people.
14 Adonai said to Moshe, 2 “Tell the people of Isra’el to turn around and set up camp in front of Pi-Hachirot, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Ba‘al-Tz’fon; camp opposite it, by the sea. 3 Then Pharaoh will say that the people of Isra’el are wandering aimlessly in the countryside, the desert has closed in on them. 4 I will make Pharaoh so hardhearted that he will pursue them; thus I will win glory for myself at the expense of Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will realize at last that I am Adonai.” The people did as ordered.
5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people. They said, “What have we done, letting Isra’el stop being our slaves?” 6 So he prepared his chariots and took his people with him — 7 he took 600 first-quality chariots, as well as all the other chariots in Egypt, along with their commanders. 8 Adonai made Pharaoh hardhearted, and he pursued the people of Isra’el, as they left boldly. (ii) 9 The Egyptians went after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, with his cavalry and army, and overtook them as they were encamped by the sea, by Pi-Hachirot, in front of Ba‘al-Tz’fon. 10 As Pharaoh approached, the people of Isra’el looked up and saw the Egyptians right there, coming after them. In great fear the people of Isra’el cried out to Adonai 11 and said to Moshe, “Was it because there weren’t enough graves in Egypt that you brought us out to die in the desert? Why have you done this to us, bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we tell you in Egypt to let us alone, we’ll just go on being slaves for the Egyptians? It would be better for us to be the Egyptians’ slaves than to die in the desert!” 13 Moshe answered the people, “Stop being so fearful! Remain steady, and you will see how Adonai is going to save you. He will do it today — today you have seen the Egyptians, but you will never see them again! 14 Adonai will do battle for you. Just calm yourselves down!”
(A: iii) 15 Adonai asked Moshe, “Why are you crying to me? Tell the people of Isra’el to go forward! 16 Lift your staff, reach out with your hand over the sea, and divide it in two. The people of Isra’el will advance into the sea on dry ground. 17 As for me, I will make the Egyptians hardhearted; and they will march in after them; thus I will win glory for myself at the expense of Pharaoh and all his army, chariots and cavalry. 18 Then the Egyptians will realize that I am Adonai, when I have won myself glory at the expense of Pharaoh, his chariots and his cavalry.”
19 Next, the angel of God, who was going ahead of the camp of Isra’el, moved away and went behind them; and the column of cloud moved away from in front of them and stood behind them. 20 It stationed itself between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Isra’el — there was cloud and darkness here, but light by night there; so that the one did not come near the other all night long.
21 Moshe reached his hand out over the sea, and Adonai caused the sea to go back before a strong east wind all night. He made the sea become dry land, and its water was divided in two. 22 Then the people of Isra’el went into the sea on the dry ground, with the water walled up for them on their right and on their left.
23 The Egyptians continued their pursuit, going after them into the sea — all Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and cavalry. 24 Just before dawn, Adonai looked out on the Egyptian army through the column of fire and cloud and threw them into a panic. 25 He caused the wheels of their chariots to break off, so that they could move only with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Adonai is fighting for Isra’el against the Egyptians! Let’s get away from them!”
(A: iv, S: iii) 26 Adonai said to Moshe, “Reach your hand out over the sea, and the water will return and cover the Egyptians with their chariots and cavalry.” 27 Moshe reached his hand out over the sea, and by dawn the sea had returned to its former depth. The Egyptians tried to flee, but Adonai swept them into the sea. 28 The water came back and covered all the chariots and cavalry of Pharaoh’s army who had followed them into the sea — not even one of them was left. 29 But the people of Isra’el walked on dry ground in the sea, with the water walled up for them on their right and on their left.
30 On that day, Adonai saved Isra’el from the Egyptians; Isra’el saw the Egyptians dead on the shore. 31 When Isra’el saw the mighty deed that Adonai had performed against the Egyptians, the people feared Adonai, and they believed in Adonai and in his servant Moshe.
15 Then Moshe and the people of Isra’el sang this song to Adonai:
“I will sing to Adonai, for he is highly exalted:
2 Yah is my strength and my song,
4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
6 Your right hand, Adonai, is sublimely powerful;
8 With a blast from your nostrils the waters piled up —
11 Who is like you, Adonai, among the mighty?
12 You reached out with your right hand:
14 The peoples have heard, and they tremble;
17 You will bring them in and plant them
18 Adonai will reign forever and ever.
19 For the horses of Pharaoh went with his chariots
20 Also Miryam the prophet, sister of Aharon, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines, dancing, 21 as Miryam sang to them:
“Sing to Adonai, for he is highly exalted!
22 Moshe led Isra’el onward from the Sea of Suf. They went out into the Shur Desert; but after traveling three days in the desert, they had found no water. 23 They arrived at Marah but couldn’t drink the water there, because it was bitter. This is why they called it Marah [bitterness]. 24 The people grumbled against Moshe and asked, “What are we to drink?” 25 Moshe cried to Adonai; and Adonai showed him a certain piece of wood, which, when he threw it into the water, made the water taste good. There Adonai made laws and rules of life for them, and there he tested them. 26 He said, “If you will listen intently to the voice of Adonai your God, do what he considers right, pay attention to his mitzvot and observe his laws, I will not afflict you with any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians; because I am Adonai your healer.”
(A: v, S: iv) 27 They came to Eilim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and camped there by the water.
16 They traveled on from Eilim, and the whole community of the people of Isra’el arrived at the Seen Desert, between Eilim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after leaving the land of Egypt. 2 There in the desert the whole community of the people of Isra’el grumbled against Moshe and Aharon. 3 The people of Isra’el said to them, “We wish Adonai had used his own hand to kill us off in Egypt! There we used to sit around the pots with the meat boiling, and we had as much food as we wanted. But you have taken us out into this desert to let this whole assembly starve to death!”
4 Adonai said to Moshe, “Here, I will cause bread to rain down from heaven for you. The people are to go out and gather a day’s ration every day. By this I will test whether they will observe my Torah or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they have brought in, it will turn out to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” 6 Moshe and Aharon said to all the people of Isra’el, “This evening, you will realize that it has been Adonai who brought you out of Egypt; 7 and in the morning, you will see Adonai’s glory. For he has listened to your grumblings against Adonai — what are we that you should grumble against us?” 8 Moshe added, “What I have said will happen when Adonai gives you meat to eat this evening and your fill of bread tomorrow morning. Adonai has listened to your complaints and grumblings against him — what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against Adonai.”
9 Moshe said to Aharon, “Say to the whole community of Isra’el, ‘Come close, into the presence of Adonai, for he has heard your grumblings.’” 10 As Aharon spoke to the whole community of the people of Isra’el, they looked toward the desert; and there before them the glory of Adonai appeared in the cloud; (A: vi, S: v) 11 and Adonai said to Moshe, 12 “I have heard the grumblings of the people of Isra’el. Say to them: ‘At dusk you will be eating meat, and in the morning you will have your fill of bread. Then you will realize that I am Adonai your God.’”
13 That evening, quails came up and covered the camp; while in the morning there was a layer of dew all around the camp. 14 When the dew had evaporated, there on the surface of the desert was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the people of Isra’el saw it, they asked each other, “Man hu? [What is it?]” because they didn’t know what it was. Moshe answered them, “It is the bread which Adonai has given you to eat. 16 Here is what Adonai has ordered: each man is to gather according to his appetite — each is to take an ‘omer [two quarts] per person for everyone in his tent.” 17 The people of Isra’el did this. Some gathered more, some less; 18 but when they put it in an ‘omer-measure, whoever had gathered much had no excess; and whoever had gathered little had no shortage; nevertheless each person had gathered according to his appetite.
19 Moshe told them, “No one is to leave any of it till morning.” 20 But they didn’t pay attention to Moshe, and some kept the leftovers until morning. It bred worms and rotted, which made Moshe angry at them. 21 So they gathered it morning after morning, each person according to his appetite; but as the sun grew hot, it melted.
22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two ‘omers per person; and all the community leaders came and reported to Moshe. 23 He told them, “This is what Adonai has said: ‘Tomorrow is a holy Shabbat for Adonai. Bake what you want to bake; boil what you want to boil; and whatever is left over, set aside and keep for the morning.’” 24 They set it aside till morning, as Moshe had ordered; and it didn’t rot or have worms. 25 Moshe said, “Today, eat that; because today is a Shabbat for Adonai — today you won’t find it in the field. 26 Gather it six days, but the seventh day is the Shabbat — on that day there won’t be any.” 27 However, on the seventh day, some of the people went out to gather and found none.
28 Adonai said to Moshe, “How long will you refuse to observe my mitzvot and teachings? 29 Look, Adonai has given you the Shabbat. This is why he is providing bread for two days on the sixth day. Each of you, stay where you are; no one is to leave his place on the seventh day.” (S: vi) 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.
31 The people called the food man. It was like coriander seed, white; and it tasted like honey cakes. 32 Moshe said, “Here is what Adonai has ordered: ‘Let two quarts of man be kept through all your generations, so that they will be able to see the bread which I fed you in the desert when I brought you out of Egypt.’” 33 Moshe said to Aharon, “Take a jar, put in it two quarts of man, and set it aside before Adonai to be kept through all your generations.” 34 Just as Adonai ordered Moshe, Aharon set it aside before the testimony to be kept. 35 The people of Isra’el ate man for forty years, until they came to an inhabited land. They ate man until they arrived at the borders of the land of Kena‘an. 36 (An ‘omer is one-tenth of an eifah [which is a bushel dry-measure].)
17 (vii) The whole community of the people of Isra’el left the Seen Desert, traveling in stages, as Adonai had ordered, and camped at Refidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 The people quarreled with Moshe, demanding, “Give us water to drink!” But Moshe replied, “Why pick a fight with me? Why are you testing Adonai?” 3 However, the people were thirsty for water there and grumbled against Moshe, “For what did you bring us up from Egypt? To kill us, our children and our livestock with thirst?”
4 Moshe cried out to Adonai, “What am I to do with these people? They’re ready to stone me!” 5 Adonai answered Moshe, “Go on ahead of the people, and bring with you the leaders of Isra’el. Take your staff in your hand, the one you used to strike the river; and go. 6 I will stand in front of you there on the rock in Horev. You are to strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so the people can drink.” Moshe did this in the sight of the leaders of Isra’el. 7 The place was named Massah [testing] and M’rivah [quarreling] because of the quarreling of the people of Isra’el and because they tested Adonai by asking, “Is Adonai with us or not?”
8 Then ‘Amalek came and fought with Isra’el at Refidim. 9 Moshe said to Y’hoshua, “Choose men for us, go out, and fight with ‘Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with God’s staff in my hand.” 10 Y’hoshua did as Moshe had told him and fought with ‘Amalek. Then Moshe, Aharon and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 When Moshe raised his hand, Isra’el prevailed; but when he let it down, ‘Amalek prevailed. 12 However, Moshe’s hands grew heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aharon and Hur held up his hands, the one on the one side and the other on the other; so that his hands stayed steady until sunset. 13 Thus Y’hoshua defeated ‘Amalek, putting their people to the sword.
(Maftir) 14 Adonai said to Moshe, “Write this in a book to be remembered, and tell it to Y’hoshua: I will completely blot out any memory of ‘Amalek from under heaven.” 15 Moshe built an altar, called it Adonai Nissi [Adonai is my banner/miracle], 16 and said, “Because their hand was against the throne of Yah, Adonai will fight ‘Amalek generation after generation.”
Haftarah B’shallach: Shof’tim (Judges) 4:4–5:31 (A); 5:1–31 (S)
B’rit Hadashah suggested readings for Parashah B’shallach: Luke 2:22–24; Yochanan (John) 6:25–35; 19:31–37; 1 Corinthians 10:1–13; 2 Corinthians 8:1–15; Revelation 15:1–4