Torah Study Date
Saturday, September 9, 2023
Exodus (Sh’mot) 12:24-12:33
Saturday, September 23, 2023
Starting at Exodus 12:34
Last session we discussed YHVH saying, you shall observe this thing as a law/statute for you and your children forever. What, R. Ben asked, is the thing to be observed? We thought it was the festival of the paschal lamb and unleavened bread. We noted that the word for law or statute is chak not halacha which is used later. We noted that the Israelites are to observe that service when they go to the land YHVH will give to them as he said. We noted that the text mentions a child who will ask why they observe that festival or service—as we are familiar with from the Pesach seder—and the answer to be given to the child that it is the pesach (halting, protection) sacrifice given because YHVH halted at the Israelites’ houses and saved them, rather than killing them, when he struck the Egyptians. After that, the Israelites knelt and bowed and did what YHVH had told them to do.
We noted the final plague finally taking place: all the firstborns of Egypt were killed, from the firstborn of Pharaoh on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner in the prison house to the firstborn of an animal. We noted the big cry in Egypt due to there not being any house in which there was not one dead. We noted Pharaoh finally telling the Israelites to go forth to serve YHVH as they had wanted and to take all their livestock with them. We noted Pharaoh had lost all his slaves and all their livestock, a great loss for him.
We noted that Egypt bore down on/was strong on the people to go lest they all die and that the word “strong” in recent passages had been applied to Pharaoh but now was applied to Egypt, presumably meaning the Egyptian people who, after all, had for some time been trying to get Pharaoh to let the people leave and stop the series of plagues.
Our artwork this week is from the Sarajevo Haggadah, a 14th-century Spanish Haggadah, Escape from Egypt (above) and Pursued by the Egyptians (below). The Israelites are shown, armed with swords, leaving a castle, holding their hands in the air, and carrying balls of unleavened dough over their shoulders (above). In a subsequent scene, the Egyptians are shown on horseback chasing the Israelites while Moses is parting the Red Sea so they can escape. The Escape painting is similar to one in the Golden Haggadah that we have seen before. Click on the link above for a seven-minute PBS video about the Sarajevo Haggadah.