Two signs accompanied Moses to Egypt, but ten miracles. An additional sign would bracket the deal when Moses and the Israelites returned to the holy mountain to worship there. The signs and miracles both addressed unbelief, but the miracles, which were plagues, had a history in Egypt. The specific plague was the plague of leprosy.
Where is that in the Torah?
But the LORD struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife. (Ge 12:17)
The wife of the Hebrew was held unlawfully. She did not want to serve Pharaoh, nor the man-god he thought himself. The Jewish sages say that the plagues were spoken by Sarai herself, including the plague of leprosy, until Pharaoh knew something was drastically wrong in his house and let her go with much wealth:
Therefore, he treated Abram well for her sake; and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels.
A military raid on Egypt couldn't have accomplished as much as the plagues! A key, however, is in Pharaoh's question to Abraham:
Then Pharaoh called Abram and said, "What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife?" (Ge 12:18)
Sarah was prophesied to be the Mother of Many Nations, kings of peoples would descend from her, Abraham's faithful wife. In Revelation, two women are presented at the end of the age: The Virtuous Woman Israel, who can be identified by her descendants who keep the testimony of Yeshua [Salvation, Resurrection of the Dead] and the commandments of Elohim.
The other woman is apostate Israel, The Great Harlot, Babylon, who commits whoredom with the kings of the earth. She also is identified by her descendants, who will be thrown onto a sickbed and plagued with pestilence, boils [an emergent place of the hair of leprosy], and all the plagues of Egypt before the Revelation is concluded.
In the Torah and Prophets, Egypt and Babylon can represent the 70 nations of the earth. In Revelation, the plagues of Egypt are visited upon the whole earth, and Israel, which is enlarged to include faithful non-Jews from among the 70, is warned to "come out of her," which is Babylon. Egypt and Babylon are equivalent expressions, but not identical.
Coming out of Babylon has two early contexts: Abram's leaving of the region of Ur, and the exiles of Israel returning after 70 years in captivity in Babylon. Israel's Light of the World is contrasted with the idolatrous "Ur" [light] of the world, and Israel has become the light of the world to the 70 nations, for according to the 70 who descended to Egypt, the nation was built in exile in Egypt. Paul urged the Romans to be like Sarah, Jerusalem from above, serving Adonai in love, not like Hagar, serving first as a slave and then as a proud woman against Sarah, testing Sarah to advance her and her son's own cause.
The Plague of the Government Informant
Rashi explains that the reason that Israel was punished with severe toil and hardship, more than all the 70 nations of the earth, was because the shepherd-nation were informers against one another. What Joseph learned about informing on brothers the hard way, so all Israel would have to learn. Consider yourself an Israelite? Beware the penalty for informing on your brothers (Ge 37:2). Love your neighbor as yourself. Baseless hatred and ill-treatment of brother and sister Israelites didn't just destroy the Second Temple, but the First Temple, and the ark was temporarily lost to the Tabernacle in Shiloh for the same reason [
ee-kvod, "there is no glory"].
Peace within Israel, which is judged more strictly, signals a time when that peace may extend to all 70 nations. Yeshua's birth was announced to shepherds as the beginning of such a peace and light to the Gentiles. The sages say that when Moses was born, the house was filled with the light of the Shekhina, for his mother saw that he was "good" in the same expression that Elohim saw that the Light of Creation was good in Genesis One.
They add that this is why Pharaoh's daughter drew him from the river, for she saw the radiant light of the Shekhinah from the basket made of reeds and willow shoots, representing both the reeds from the crossing of the
Yam Suf, or Sea of Reeds during Passover, and the willows of Sukkot, the Feast of the 70 Nations. Pharaoh's daughter hires
Yocheved, or Jochebed, "Yah's Glory," to continue nursing Moses' good light. Significantly, Pharaoh's daughter does not inform on Moses, but protects and nurtures him.
When Moses grows up and decides to defend his Hebrew brother being beaten by an Egyptian, he first looks this way and that. He is very careful that the Egyptians do not see him kill the Egyptian or bury him. Who, then, would have seen it? Only other Hebrews. The next day, Moses goes out and sees two Hebrews quarreling, about to come to blows. He reprimands them, probably thinking that they know he is on their side and will listen to them. They're brothers after all. Instead, they blab about his crime! Moses perceives it as a threat to inform to Pharaoh what he's done, and they do. The matter becomes known, and Moses is forced out of Egypt "by the sword of Pharaoh."
Moses' last thoughts of the Hebrews of Israel is that they are ungrateful informers. Who can trust them? Better to go and take his light to righteous Gentiles than to his own who didn't receive him, right? Moses "dwells" with the righteous man of Midian (a
cohen can mean either a priest or a prominent man in Scripture) and takes a wife, Tzipporah. He names his son Gershon, for he feels himself a stranger with no people and no country to call his own. The Israelite informers have made it impossible for him to dwell either with the Israelites or the Egyptians!
An interesting reading of this section of the Exodus is that where the text says that the "king of Egypt died" is not read as literal death by Hebrew scholars. In Scripture, a king usually loses the title of king when he dies, and then he is referred to by his name alone:
Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God. (Ex 2:23)
In this case, however, the text continues to call him the "king of Egypt." The rabbis interpret this as the "living death" of leprosy:
"Oh, do not let her be like one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes from his mother's womb!" (Nu 12:12)
The Hebrews should have rejoiced at Pharaoh's death, not groaned. The many souls of the slain kept crying out for justice, for "The soul of the slain cries out..." (Job 24:12) Although Pharaoh was plagued, he was unrelenting in his abuse. This set the Israelites' Father's heart aflame.
Rashi quotes from the tradition, saying that the plague of leprosy had already started on Pharaoh's house as a sign that he was holding the descendants of Sarai unjustly. They were already betrothed to another, to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whom Pharaoh claimed he didn't know.
What Did You Say Was in that Bush?
The warrior Moses had to become the shepherd Moses like his wife Tzipporah and her six sisters. He had to become a shepherd like Jacob had to leave the tents of study and safety. When he did, he was presented with the opportunity to see the heart of YHVH in a flaming thornbush. The grammar of the following text is inspiring:
The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. (Ex 3:2)
blabat-esh as "from the flaming heart in the midst of the bush..." What Moses sees is not just an Angel, not just supernatural fire, but the Angel in the flaming heart of YHVH...and that heart is aflame for His People Israel. The Hebrew word that describes how Moses was to remove his sandals on this holy ground suggests that they would simply drop off of him like a ripe olive fell from a tree.
If there was ever a time NOT to inform on the Hebrews, it was when YHVH's heart was aflame for them. Like Abraham, however, Moses stalls and argues against the Heavenly message and mission. Unlike Abraham, however, Moses is not arguing
for mercy and salvation, but
against it. What is his last memory of his people? Government informers! They're more likely to work with Pharaoh against me than with me. Seriously, find someone else. Moses repeatedly stalls with excuses: they won't listen, what is Your Name?, Pharaoh will not listen, what sign will you give?, etc.
The Hebrew men may have informed on Moses to the government, and in the pain of that old disappointment, Moses informed on the Hebrews to YHVH, whose heart was aflame for them.
What did Moses lose by arguing against salvation and mercy?
The battle of words. He went anyway.
The priesthood. His descendants were Levites, but Aaron's descendants were priests.
Moses is given two plagues as a sign that he should cease being a Heavenly government informant against his brothers. It is a sign that the Hebrews will recognize, for it will connect the fall from the Garden to their ancestor Joseph and Pharaoh's leprosy.
Informers Transformed: They'll Remember the Signs
Aaron was older, so Moses was uncomfortable going ahead of an older brother, a prophet. Moses is given two signs that it is okay to put the words in Aaron's mouth: the rod/serpent of evil speech, and the leprosy of evil speech. He had to take the signs to the elder men first. The older men would have the best memory of the stories of Eden and Joseph.
Some opinions are that Joseph never told his father what his brothers did to him once they were repentant and reconciled. He was cured of informing. It was only after Jacob's death that the brothers became truly afraid that Joseph would seek retribution, something that reflected Esau-like thinking, who resolved to kill Jacob after his parents died. Joseph, however, was neither an informant nor a brother-killer.
The two signs teach two significant lessons:
1. The snake's evil speech, delivered from an upright position, resulted in a crooked position in the dust of the earth. He said that Eve would be like Elohim if she ate the fruit. The snake's information in one respect was true, but twisted to serve his real purpose in informing on Elohim, which he concealed in the report. He didn't like being under authority in the Garden. Adam and Eve fell from the Lower Garden to the physical earth. Now faith in a resurrection would be the thread that tied humankind to their ancient memory of the Garden and a crooked snake.
2. Leprosy is a plague that results from evil speech, often gossip and informing on brothers and sisters, such as resulted in Miriam's one-week suspension for informing on Moses' private life. The color of leprosy in the beard of "a man or a woman" in Leviticus is yellowish-green, the same color of the Pale Horse (chloros) in Revelation. Leprosy is a supernatural sign on an informant or usurper of authority, particularly those of one's own "house."
Moses argued with Adonai, informing on his brothers who'd disappointed him forty years previous. They rejected both his brotherhood and authority to judge their quarrel. The signs were meant to scare Moses into better words and more faith in his Hebrew brothers. You want leprosy, Moses? Just keep arguing against the power of Elohim. You want to see your brothers continue in exile from the "land flowing with milk and honey," that said to flow in two of the Rivers of Eden?
Once they'd been through forty more years of tribulation, the Israelites would receive the signs. The older ones would remember the signs of the snake and the hand of leprosy. Never judge someone today on how they behaved forty years ago.
In Part Two,
A Snake and an Adulterous Woman, we'll examine a puzzling text from John Eight, in which Yeshua writes something in the dust. Although it may be related to Jeremiah's prophecy in Chapter Seventeen, the consecutive Torah portions from last week and this week may provide better context. Maybe it even hints to the week when the woman was caught in adultery, a week when Yeshua's silent teaching and its punishment would have been fresh in the minds of the accusers...especially the older ones who would remember a prophecy of a snake and leprosy. Part Two will also continue the theme of "Names" and provide context for the 70 Names of Jerusalem.