Why Did Moses Pray for Pharaoh? – 5783 Bo Aliyah by Aliyah

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There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.

Additionally, the Ashkenazic and Sepharidc, that is Eastern European and Spanish or Iberian Peninsula communities sometime differ on how they divide the Torah Portions.


This week’s Torah Portion is Bo: Exodus 10:1-13:16. The focus of this “Aliyah by Aliyah” will be the second aliyah.

Aliyah 2 – Exodus 10:12-23

Exodus 10:12 HaShem 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.”

EXO 10:12

The Passover Seder touches on the idea that the Hebrew slaves were kept hungry. It seems fitting that the Plague of Locusts was designed to chastise Egypt regarding that.

Exodus 10:13 Moshe reached out with his staff over the land of Egypt, and HaShem caused an east wind to blow on the land all day and all night; and in the morning the east wind brought the locusts.

EXO 10:13

Moses reaches out his staff when he was told to reach out his hand. Why is that OK? Later he is punished for striking a rock instead of speaking to it

Exodus 10:14 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.

EXO 10:14

The Pharaoh who didn’t know Joseph worried Israel would join an army against him as a “fifth column.” His actions have lead to an invading army attack for Israel’s sake.

Exodus 10:15 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.

EXO 10:15

Starving an enemy army or force is a classic wartime tactic. The Almighty employs it here, in a devastating fashion that testifies His Sovereignty.

Exodus 10:16 Pharaoh hurried to summon Moshe and Aharon and said, “I have sinned against HaShem your G-d and against you.

EXO 10:16

This is the second time Pharaoh admits fault.

Exodus 10:17 Now, therefore, please forgive my sin just this once; and intercede with HaShem your G-d, so that he will at least take away from me this deadly plague!”

EXO 10:17

Could Pharaoh have directly addressed the LORD? Would He have listened? Why the go-between?

Exodus 10:18 He went out from Pharaoh and interceded with HaShem.

EXO 10:18

Moses did as Pharaoh asked, like he had before.

Exodus 10:19 HaShem 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.

EXO 10:19

Locusts can be eaten. Them being blown away was likely down to prevent the Egyptians from using them for food instead of their ruined vegetation.

Exodus 10:20 But HaShem made Pharaoh hardhearted, and he didn’t let the people of Isra’el go.

EXO 10:20

Pharaoh’s hardness of heart was self-inflicted the first 5 times.

Exodus 10:21 HaShem 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!”

EXO 10:21

How can darkness be felt?

Exodus 10:22 Moshe reached out his hand toward the sky, and there was a thick darkness in the entire land of Egypt for three days.

EXO 10:22

Earlier Moses uses his staff for his hand, here he uses his hand as ordered. What makes these situations different?

Exodus 10:23 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.

EXO 10:23

What a clear demonstration of the contrast between those who far off from and those connected to the Almighty.


Closing Questions

Before I go, I want to answer a few questions. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.

1. Did Moses mix up his hand and staff?

2. Why did Moses pray for Pharaoh?

3. Did Pharaoh lose free choice?


That concludes my journey through Bo for the year 5783.

I hope these words have been a blessing to you.

May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.

This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.

Published by MJ Muñoz

Husband. Father. Believer. Writing a children's books series inspired by tokusatsu. Weekly Toku Analysis - https://mjmunoz.com/category/analyzer/

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