Bo – “Go!”

The name of this portion of the Torah is Bo, which means “Go!”, and it takes us from Exodus 10:1-13:16. God tells Moses that He has hardened the hearts of Pharaoh and his servants, so that He will perform His powerful signs in their midst. The Jewish people are to tell their children and grandchildren of God’s power over the Egyptians so that they will understand that Adonai is the true God.

Moses and Aaron go and tell Pharaoh to let the Jewish people leave Egypt and worship Adonai, or there will be a great swarm of locusts that covers all of Egypt and consumes all the vegetation. After they left, Pharaoh’s servants plead with him to let the Jewish people go, and when Moses and Aaron return to Pharaoh, he asks them who will go to worship God. When Moses and Aaron tell him that all of Israel will go with their animals, Pharaoh states that only the Jewish men can go to worship God, and accuses Moses and Aaron of planning something evil.

After being expelled from Pharaoh, Moses is told by God to stretch out his hand over Egypt, and locusts will come. When Moses does this, the locusts invade Egypt and ate everything that wasn’t destroyed by the previous plague of hail. There were so many of them, they covered everything, and there has never been (or will be) such a large plague of locusts! Needless to say, this catches Pharaoh’s attention, and he quickly calls for Moses and Aaron to confess his sins against God and them, and to ask for their forgiveness and prayers to end this plague. Moses leaves Pharaoh and prays, and God drives the locusts into the Red Sea. But God had hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and Pharaoh wouldn’t let the Jewish people leave Egypt.

God then tells Moses to stretch out his hand toward the sky and darkness will cover Egypt. When Moses does this, Egypt went completely dark for three days; however, all the Jewish people had light where they lived! Even in times of great difficulty, God is able to take care of His people.

Pharaoh then calls for Moses and says that all the Jewish people can go to worship God, but their animals must stay behind. However, Moses states that the animals must come, because some are to be used as offerings, and that God will tell the Jewish people which animals to use. Pharaoh again refuses to let them go and tells Moses that if he sees him again, Moses will be killed.

In Chapter 11, Adonai tells Moses that there will be a final plague on the Egyptians, and then they will send the Jewish people away. The Jewish people are to ask their Egyptian neighbors for gold and silver. Talk about a nice going-away present! Adonai had made the Jewish people, who were their slaves, respectable in the eyes of the Egyptians.

Moses then tells Pharaoh that all the firstborn Egyptian sons will die, from the son of Pharaoh to the sons of the slaves, as well as the firstborn of the animals. The Egyptians will experience the most intense mourning. However, the Jewish people will be treated differently. This will show that God knows how to distinguish between those who are His people and those who aren’t.

In Chapter 12, God gives Moses and Aaron instructions how to observe the Passover. Beginning on the 10th day of the month of Aviv, occurring in March or April, each Jewish family must take an unblemished year-old male lamb or goat, and care for it until the 14th day of Aviv, when the animal is killed and some of its’ blood sprinkled on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the house that the animal is eaten in. If the families of their neighbors are too small to own such an animal, the family must share one of these animals with their neighbors. The animal’s meat is not to be boiled or eaten raw, but is to be roasted over the fire, and eaten quickly with bitter herbs and bread made without yeast. Nothing is to be left, and anything left over must be burned the next morning. The bones of the lamb are not to be broken, and no one who is uncircumcised and not part of God’s covenant may take part in this meal.

God also commands the Jewish people to perpetually remember this day, and one of the key commands in the remembrance of the Passover is the prohibition of eating any bread with yeast. The Jewish people were to remove all yeast from their homes on the first day of Passover, and for these 7 days, there can be no trace of yeast in their homes. The consequences for disobedience were severe. Anyone found with yeast in their house would be cut off from the Jewish people. A holy assembly was to take place on the first and seventh day of the Passover, and no work was to be done apart from preparing food on these days.

The holiday of matza, unleavened bread, was to be celebrated for seven days. No bread made with yeast was to be eaten during this time.

Moses told the Jewish elders to select the Passover lambs to be killed, and to place the blood of these lambs on the sides and top of the doorframe. No one was to go outside that night. That Passover night, God will see the blood on their doors and pass over their houses, while destroying the first born sons of the Egyptians.

The Jewish people did what the Lord commanded, and during that night, God killed the firstborn of the Egyptians and their animals, and judged the false gods of the Egyptians. Pharaoh then told Moses and Aaron to take the Jewish people, and their animals, and leave Egypt. When the Jewish people left Egypt, they received gold and silver from the Egyptians. They also left without yeast in their bread, due to leaving in such a hurry.

Roughly 600,000 Jewish men, along with the Jewish women and children, and their animals, left Egypt. They were free from slavery and oppression. They were joined by many Gentiles as well. The time spent by the Jewish people in Egypt was 430 years.

The parasha ends with God’s commands to dedicate the firstborn of the Jewish people, and their animals, to Him. Every firstborn son was to be redeemed, and any firstborn donkey not redeemed with a lamb was to have its’ neck broken. Moses tells the Jewish people to observe, and teach their sons to observe, the Passover when they come into the Promised Land, and that the consecration of their firstborn sons and animals are to be taught to their sons as a remembrance of God’s mercy and power in taking them from Egypt to the Promised Land.

In looking back at this passage, we see that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened for God’s purposes, so that God would show both the Egyptians and Jewish people that He alone is God, and there is no other. When people are determined to disobey God, He may let them remain in their sin, but use their stubbornness to accomplish His purposes. Let’s humble ourselves before God, and be obedient to His commands so that doesn’t happen to us!

We also see the importance of remembering God’s power when He delivered the Jewish people from slavery through the celebration of the Passover, and that innocent blood is used to cover God’s people from His wrath. However, the blood of the Passover lambs was a temporary covering, and could never eternally cover humanity from the penalties of sin. But we have a perfect Passover Lamb – Messiah Yeshua, who provided eternal atonement for all who believe in Him as Lord and Savior. And just like the Passover lambs, the bones of Yeshua, the Lamb of God, were not broken when He died on the cross for the redemption of our sins.

Just as the Jewish people were to remember the redemption of their firstborn males and God’s deliverance in the Passover, let’s constantly remember that the redemption for our sins was provided by Yeshua’s sacrifice, and boldly tell others about our faith in Him!