Tag Archive | Hebrew

Parsha: Bo

I have been wanting to start posting notes on the weekly Torah portions (‘parsha’) for ages, and I have been planning to alternate between the Torah portions and the Anglican weekly lectionary readings for Sundays.

I would have liked to start in the Autumn with the beginning of the new Jewish year* and/ or in November at the beginning of the new Church year, but moving house and getting ill got in the way.

I can’t promise to be consistent, but I am at least at home, pretty laid-up and so with plenty of time on my hands for writing.

So instead of waiting for the next appropriate starting point, I thought I would just jump right in and look at the next portion, which is Bo! (Go!) in Exodus.

Torah: Exodus 10:1-13:16
Haftarah: Jeremiah 46:13-26
Brit Chadashah: Luke 22:7-30
1 Corinthians 11:24-34

For those not familiar with the Jewish ‘lectionary’ as it were, the weekly Torah portion is a set passage from the Pentateuch, the Haftarah is a passage from the prophets which in some way recalled the Torah passage to memory, when in times past Jews were forbidden from reading the actual Torah portion itself.

Brit Chadashah means ‘New Covenant’, or what is commonly referred to as the New Testament. Obviously this last selection does not come from Jewish tradition, but is selected to match the Torah and Haftarah portions according to topic. There is no agreed-upon selection from the Brit Chadashah across the board. Individual congregations may select their own passages, or they may use the suggested passages in The Complete Jewish Bible. I am using the selections from the Hebrew for Christians website.

Bo! is the penultimate installment of the Exodus story as the battle with Pharaoh comes to a dramatic end with the last three plagues: Locusts, Darkness, and the Killing of the Firstborn.

Pharaoh is still stubbornly refusing to let the Israelite slaves leave Egypt to go and worship their God in the desert, despite his officials telling him

“Do you not yet realise that Egypt is ruined?”

But, cryptically, we are told that God himself has ‘hardened Pharaoh’s heart’, “that you may know that I am the LORD.” From our modern perspective, this seems wrong, even cruel.  If the story is to be taken literally, it is surely hard to understand. But is it perhaps rather that God allowed him to be hardhearted? Allowed him to be his worst?

After the plague of Darkness, Pharaoh loses his temper with Moses – as though it is Moses stubbornly keeping on asking, as though the plagues were meant to change his mind instead. Pharaoh just doesn’t seem to get it. His stubbornness is greater than his fear of the LORD, even after the awesome plagues.

Then, before the last plague, God tells Moses that this incidence in the month of Nisan is to be marked in the calendar as the beginning of the new year* for the Israelites…

“Because the LORD kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honour the LORD for the generations to come.” Exodus 12:42

…and instructions are given for the Israelites to avoid being struck by the Angel of Death when he ‘passes over’ to kill the firstborn of every household: the slaying of the Lamb, the painting of blood on the doorposts. It’s important to notice that the Lamb is not just selected and killed, it is brought into the house to live with them for four days before being killed. Can you imagine?! Can you see the children loving those little lambs, cuddling up to them, and being heartbroken with they are killed for them to eat?

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven – Jesus in Matthew 18:3

Midnight comes, and the Angel of the LORD strikes down the firstborn of every household not protected, including Pharaoh’s, at which time he tells Moses to Go! Get out of Egypt! So the Israelites leave, but the Egyptians hand over their silver, their gold, their clothing to them as they go! “And thus they plundered the Egyptians.” What are we to make of this? Is it a kind of re-payment for the 400 years of slavery?

The Parsha ends with instructions on the consecration and ‘redemption’ of firstborn males (both of livestock and of their own sons).

“It will be like a sign on your hand a symbol on your forehead that the LORD brought us out of Egypt with his might hand.”

The Haftarah passage is a message from God to the prophet Jeremiah about His judgement on Egypt, and specifically the god Amon of Thebes, through the attack of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. Interestingly, each of the ten plagues of Egypt were linked with one specific god of the Egyptians, apparently designed so that everybody would see that the LORD ‘Jehovah’ is supreme over them all. See chart here (opens a pdf file)

Both new testament passages relate to the Last Supper and Jesus’ inauguration  of the eucharist; or, as Messianic Jews understand it, Yeshua’s addition of a fifth cup to the Passover seder. (See a really helpful analysis of the mystery of the fifth cup here.)

It is said that there are 70 aspects to the Torah, like a priceless cut diamond – every time you look at it, you see another facet. Beyond the literal interpretation which is often fraught with difficulty and disturbing scenes our modern sense cannot cope with, there is a rich treasure trove of symbolism that is easily missed if we don’t have our minds open to search for them, and of course I am barely scratching the surface here.

* On the topic of Jewish New Years, the new year at Passover as instructed her is not observed with any notable traditions that I am aware of, although it is called the ‘religious new year’ by some, the traditional new year is in the Autumn at ‘Rosh haShanah’, which is more properly the Feast of Trumpets. For a discussion of how Jewish New Year came to be observed in the Autumn, see here.

Happy New Year to you!


Honeymoon at Home

I had a most interesting and confusing dream, and I like to record them so I remember them better (you know how easily dreams disappear like a puff of smoke!) So I am sharing it, for whatever it’s worth. Feel free to psycho-analyse 🙂

I dreamt that Mark and I had got married (again) and that we were honeymooning at home in a big house, but that he had hurt his arm building a new room…

…I went out and was trying to find my way. I borrowed a bike at a big roundabout, and asked a policeman. I asked if he spoke English and when he did, I said I was glad because my Hebrew wasn’t very good! Then I asked for Queensbury Circle in London! The policeman told me I had a man’s bike that was too high for me, and I would be more comfortable if I went back and swapped it for a lady’s bike.

I arrived at a building where a Jewish comedian was being advertised as doing a show, and other people were handing out leaflets condemning him, saying his show was bad for Israel.

I now had a baby in a pram and I was in a rush.

One of the people handing out leaflets was my old friend Karen. She asked me, “how is your ex-husband”, meaning Mark. I answered “he is my husband again”. Then she asked, “is that your baby?” I turned back and smiled and said “yes” but I rushed on.

I went home to see my husband and asked him if he was feeling better, but his arm was still hurting.

I was woken up by a rogue alarm that went off at 7am on the bank holiday! (Thank-you, children!)

Well, all of this is weird and I hardly know where to start. Firstly, as far as I know, there is no thought of divorce or separation, and I hope there never will be!

I like the idea of a big new house. Maybe the new room is for the baby?

Honeymooning at home? Not very imaginative.

Queensbury, London, in Israel?

And I have a man’s bike? Too high for me?

And the hurting arm?

But the idea of a new baby in a pram is a nice one. Almost worth getting divorced for! 🙂

P.s. In the dream, he had cut off all his beautiful long, head-banging hair. I told him I won’t marry him again if the hair comes off 🙂

Jag har haft fullt upp!

It has all fallen apart a bit. I tend to do this. I tend to take on so much that I burn out and end up not finishing anything. (Sigh) The title is a Swedish phrase, which means roughly ‘I have had a full schedule’, or ‘I’ve been super-busy’! 🙂

I have picked up a dozen or more books and started them, but not finished them. In fact, I took a bunch of half-read books back to the library yesterday. I’m trying not to kick myself about the Read52 challenge. I don’t think I could catch up now, unless I get credit for good intentions!

I’m also so far behind in the Bible in 90 Days challenge this time that I really have no hope (or intention, sorry) of catching up. I also got to the end of Job just feeling that I was getting very little out of it this time round. Last year I read through faithfully every day, and marked all the words of God in red, and anything else important (like repetition and themes) in blue, and I really loved it. I saw new things in it and I’m really glad I did it. But this time, I had already switched to listening on audio Bible by the time I got to Joshua instead of actually reading it, as I was finding it so… boring! I really don’t want to feel that way about Bible reading.

So actually I’m juggling. I have a lot of plates to spin – being a wife and ‘mum’ with ME, homeschooling, housework, study, and trying to set up a Ministry / Business. I have never managed to find a great balance between homeschooling and housework – when the children were young, I figured that if I managed to get out of bed and the children were basically washed and fed and clothed and happy, everything else could look after itself.

I have been wondering why I decided to take on the extra spinning plates of study and business. Maybe a psychoanalyst is called for – do I have some need to set myself up to fail? Actually, I think I’m pretty driven, perhaps I need to prove myself in some way (I’m not sure to whom though or why). But being driven and fighting ME is a pretty tough battle. Actually I have heard that there’s quite a bit of evidence that a lot of people who get ME are A-type personalities (I tried to look for a good article to link to but I couldn’t find one).

I have never quite learned to pace myself either. I always seem to need to start something new, take on a little bit more, work a little bit harder. I help out at Scouts and Guides in a limited capacity, I teach (Sunday School, very basic Hebrew, adult Bible Study, although actually I haven’t done any classes since we moved down here as there doesn’t seem to be any interest), I’m now involved with two churches, I study (and now I ‘have’ to be studying my OU course, just about everything else looks more interesting which is another challenge! I’m even trying to learn Cornish in my ‘spare time’!)

I constantly feel on the edge of relapse, but resting doesn’t help anyway. I figure that, if I’m going to feel desperately tired and in pain whether I rest or get on with it anyway, I might as well just get on with it. Thankfully my ME is not severe (although I have had a few bad patches, and poor husband always seems me at my worst as I’m always pretty wrecked by the end of the day). I still don’t want to accept that it is ME to be quite honest. I would much rather have something that’s easily fixable, curable. But I don’t go to the GP anymore. My current one is nicer and more helpful than previous ones, but he’s no help really. When the blood-tests always come back negative or ‘borderline’ there’s no clear direction on how to treat me. So until and unless I can’t, I keep on keeping on. I keep picking up books and starting them. I keep trying to read my Bible. I keep studying and writing and doing my little groups. The children are washed and clothed and fed and reasonably happy. That sounds like a good life to me 🙂

Rounding up the Week

Shabbat Shalom! I hope you have all had a great week!

I am finishing up the week with debilitating backache, so I haven’t managed to get all the work I wanted to do done (and my husband has had to cook the shabbat meal! Thankfully I had everything prepared so it was just a matter of putting everything in the oven, but I am very grateful nevertheless!)

Following the post about the Japanese recipe, ‘Doria’, I did a little bit of googling about the interesting similarity between Japanese and Hebrew script, and I turned up this interesting article: http://originalbuddhajones.blogspot.co.uk/2008/09/old-japanese-words-have-hebrew-origin.html

and this video (in Japanese, with some English subtitles.)

I’m sure that, if you had time to research, it would be an interesting study.

We are facing the storm ‘Brigid’ this weekend, which is set to hit the west coast of Cornwall, so I’m praying it won’t be the storm of ‘apocalyptic’ proportions that the American weather forecasters are suggesting, but rather the little bit of wind and rain that the British forecasters have mentioned. 🙂

Have a great Shabbat!


The Lord’s Prayer

In response to OrthodoxMom3’s post on The Lord’s Prayer, I thought I would respond by posting a transliteration of the words in Hebrew:

Avinu Sheba-Shamayim,
Yitkadesh Shimkha
Tamlikh Malkhutkha,
Ye’ase Retzonkha,
Ba-Shamayim u-va’Aretz.
Et Lechem Chu’keinu Tein Lanu Ha-Yom.
U’ma’chal Lanu Al Chovoteinu
Keshe’mechalnu Af Anu Lechayaveinu,
Ve’Al Tevienu Lidei Nisayon,
Ela Tatzileinu Min Ha-Ra.

For more information, take a look at the post on Hebrew for Christians and the UK’s Wild Olive on the significance of Hebrew prayer for Christians.

Easy Like Sunday Morning

I just wanted to give you a snapshot of a perfect Sunday morning: DS#1, “Dragon-Tamer” is researching a maths problem on the internet beside me, DD, “Pony-rider” is sitting on my knee on the sofa, looking through books. DS#2 “Motor-biker” and DS#3 “Baba Zonee” are playing a pretend game on the floor with their wooden castle. We are listening to a CD compilation of mellow folk, jazz, reggae and more from Israel. The back door is open to the early summer and we can hear birds singing. It’s unadulterated loveliness! Daddy just came in and the two little boys have rushed to him to explain their game. This is as much a part of our home education as Monday through Friday. 🙂