These Signs of Mine

The slayer of the firstborn took no account of merits of innocence or guilt as he passed through Egypt. Faith and creed did not enter the equation.

The plague of locusts, by illustrators of the 1890 Holman Bible [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Regular Shabbat Readings

  • Bo (בֹּא | Come)
  • Torah: Exodus 10:1-13:16
  • Haftarah: Jeremiah 46:13-28
  • Gospel: John 19:31-37

Regular readings above are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the current Torah Portion Schedule for all these variations, and special portions.

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Exodus 10:1 The Eighth Plague: | Locusts
    • Exodus 10:21 The Ninth Plague: | Darkness
    • Exodus 11:1 | Warning of the Final Plague
    • Exodus 12:1 | The First Passover Instituted
    • Exodus 12:29 The Tenth Plague: | Death of the Firstborn
    • Exodus 12:33 The Exodus: | From Rameses to Succoth
    • Exodus 12:43 | Directions for the Passover
    • Exodus 13:3 | The Festival of Unleavened Bread
    • Exodus 13:11 | The Consecration of the Firstborn
  • Prophets
    • Jer 46:13 | Babylonia Will Strike Egypt
    • Jer 46:27 | God Will Save Israel

Portion Summary

The fifteenth reading from the Torah is named Bo (בוא), which means "Come." The title comes from the first words of the first verse of the reading, which say, "Then the LORD said to Moses, '[Come] to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart" (Exodus 10:1). The portion begins by concluding the narrative of the ten plagues, the tenth of which is the slaying of the firstborn. To avoid the plague, the Israelites are given the instructions for the Passover sacrifice and the laws of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Pharaoh finally consents to let Israel go, and they leave Egypt.

Moses and Aaron continued to wage a war of signs and wonders while Pharaoh continued to harden his own heart until God began to harden it for him. A plague of locusts descended upon Egypt, turning the sky black with their sheer numbers, stripping the ground as they devoured every living piece of vegetation. A plague of darkness blotted out the lights of Egypt creating darkness so heavy that it felt palpable—yet in the houses of the children of Israel, light still shone.

Finally, the signs and wonders culminated with a terrible and awe-inspiring final plague that struck at the heart of Egypt, even breaking through Pharaoh’s resilient pride: the plague of the slaying of the firstborn.

The LORD described how He would pass over Egypt around the middle of the night, striking dead the firstborn of every family—from the least to the greatest. The slayer would not even spare the firstborn of the cattle. Even Pharaoh’s firstborn son, heir to the throne of Egypt and heir to Pharaoh’s divinity, would not escape.

Juxtaposed against the drama unfolding in Egypt, the Passover sacrifice strikes an indelible impression on the mind of the reader. God set the stakes high. Death came to the land of Egypt—a judgment from heaven, a terror in the night, and it did not spare even the firstborn sons of the Israelites. The slayer of the firstborn took no account of merits of innocence or guilt. Faith and creed did not enter the equation. Previous plagues had shown particularity, sparing the children of Israel in the midst of Egypt. The tenth plague, however, dealt its blow impartially. Just as in life itself, death knows no boundaries, the final plague brought death to the righteous and the wicked alike.

The LORD required only one condition for salvation in this instance: the blood of the lamb on the doorway of the home. Only homes marked by the blood of a lamb could escape.

The Torah commanded the children of Israel to keep the Passover every year as an appointed time. For 3,400 years, the Jewish people have kept the legacy of the Passover alive with the annual celebration of Passover, the time appointed for redemption.

Adapted From: Torah Club Commentary Set: Depths of the Torah. Learn more about Torah Club and how you can start a Club of your own, or join a Torah Club in your area. Visit TORAHCLUB.ORG

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