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Exodus 6:2-9:35Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Parashah 14: Va’era (I appeared) 6:2–9:35

God spoke to Moshe; he said to him, “I am Adonai. 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]. 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. 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.

“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. 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. 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.’”

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.”

But Adonai said to Moshe, “I have put you in the place of God to Pharaoh, and Aharon your brother will be your prophet. 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. But I will make him hardhearted. Even though I will increase my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 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. 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.

Moshe and Aharon did exactly what Adonai ordered them to do. Moshe was eighty years old and Aharon eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.

(iv) Adonai said to Moshe and Aharon, “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.”’”

(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.’” (6) Aharon put out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. (7) But the magicians did the same with their secret arts and brought up frogs onto the land of Egypt.

(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.” (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.” (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) (11) The frogs will leave you and your homes, also your servants and your people; they will stay in the river only.” (12) Moshe and Aharon left Pharaoh’s presence, and Moshe cried to Adonai about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh. (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.

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. If you refuse to let them go and persist in holding on to them, 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. But Adonai will distinguish between Egypt’s and Isra’el’s livestock — nothing belonging to the people of Isra’el will die.”’” Adonai determined the exact time by saying, “Tomorrow Adonai will do this in the land.” 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. 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.

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. 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

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

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