Bo means go (and come) in Hebrew. Go where? Or come where? We'll see, but you'll have to hurry.
matzot (unleavened bread) on a Passover seder plate represent the bread of affliction that the Hebrews ate in Egypt. Matzot also represent removal of sin, malice, pride, envy, and the host of sins. It is replaced with sincerity and truth for the one transformed by the sacrifice of the Lamb.
There are many theories about the 3 pieces. During the seder, the middle matzah is broken, wrapped in linen, and hidden. Yeshua said the broken matzah represented his body which was broken for us.
You shall also observe (
shamar) the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for
on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore, you shall observe (
shamar) this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance. (Ex 12:17)
Some aspect of the future exodus will occur "on this very day." The "hand" of YHVH represents the Exodus from Egypt through Moses. The "outstretched arm" represents all Passovers since and future, and Elijah represents this prophecy. What happened then will happen to me in my generation and in generations future until Yeshua returns.
From Exodus 12:17 there is a vital commandment. It is not so obvious in English because the wordplay is in Hebrew. The
Targum Onkelos does a good job of explaining it to the Aramaic- speaker of the first few centuries A.D., and the English translation and commentary elucidates Onkelos'.
Targum (English translation): You should
watch the unleavened bread, for on this day I will bring your hosts out of the land of Egypt. You should observe this day throughout your generation as an institution for all times.
The Hebrew root verb
shamar is variously translated as observe, keep, or even
watch over. Rashi states that it is required to 'watch over' the unleavened bread lest it become leavened. Ibn Ezra suggests that the 'watching' must commence from the harvesting of the grain.
Rashbam interprets the 'watching' as a requirement to 'make certain that you eat unleavened bread [on the festival] as a remembrance.' Rashi also cites a moral lesson from the Mekhilta. The word matzot (unleavened bread) may be read as
, 'commandments." Just as a Jew is required to 'watch over' the matzot lest they become leavened, so must a Jew 'watch' over the mitzvoth, and perform them as quickly as possible, without tarrying (the spiritual equivalent of allowing it to leaven
(Onkelos on the Torah, Drazin, I. & Wagner, S., 2006, Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House. pp. 66-67)
Why watch the matzah? Is it going somewhere? Will it escape if we don't?
One meaning of leaven (
chametz) is to grow sour. The Jewish sages write that chametz is an outside, foreign influence that penetrates the bread and changes its natural shape. What is our natural shape? Messiah Yeshua, who is the image of the Father. We are made in the image of Elohim. When we don't watch the Bread of Life, something very anti-Passover can happen.
Our hearts grow sour against Elohim or His people. This sourness changes our natural shape. That's what yeast does. It's a foreign substance that burps and passes gas as it works on the naturally sweet substances of combined wheat from the earth and water of the Spirit. It bubbles until we are bloated with sourness.
The more bloated that the believer becomes, the slower he is to answer the commandments. The commandments must be watched over so that we are quick to perform the ones we know to do. When we slow-walk the commandments, we give our hearts time to become chametz: sour, burping, and changing the natural shape that makes us ready to escape Egypt.
Watch the bread. Watch the commandment. Watch the Lamb.
The Chida explains that there are three ways one can fulfill the commandment of telling about People of Israel going out of Egypt. Ideally, the story should be told in the form of question and answer. The Talmud derives this from the Torah's description of Matzah as
'Lechem Oni,' the bread over which a person answers.
L'anot is "to answer."
Example: Ani oneh lekha - "I am answeringyou"
Four children ask these questions concerning why is this night different from all other nights?
- On all other nights we eat chametz and matzah, on this night, only matzah?
- On all other nights we eat any type of vegetable, on this night only maror?
- On all other nights we are not required to dip even once, but on this night we dip twice?
- On all other nights we eat sitting or leaning, this night only leaning?
The matzah is uncovered, and the questions are answered. A description of the "Four Sons" is given.
a. The wise son asks to learn the instructions in Scripture of Passover.
b. The wicked son says, "What does this mean to you?"
c. The simple son asks for the significance of Passover.
d. The son who does not know how to ask must be instructed from the beginning, when Abraham was delivered from a culture of idols.
a. The wise son asks to learn the instructions in Scripture of Passover. He accepts the validity of the Torah as transformative.
b. The wicked son says, "What does this mean to you?" He rejects the validity of the Torah as personally transformative.
c. The simple son asks for the significance of Passover. He inquires how the Torah is transformative.
d. The son who does not know how to ask must be instructed from the beginning, when Abraham was delivered from a culture of idols. He needs the instructions in order to ask the question and make a decision.
These four passages have become famous because of their appearance in the
on Pesach. "Three of these passages appear in Torah portion Bo in the section that deals with the final three culminating plagues and the exodus. It turns three times to the subject of children and the obligation of parents to educate them."
(Ulpan Or, 1/19/18, eNewsletter)
The answer to the wise son is based on two verses in Deuteronomy:
"In the future, when your son asks you, 'What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?' tell him: 'We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.'" (Dt. 6:20-21)
The answer to the wicked son is based on:
"And when your children ask you, 'What does this ceremony mean to you?' then tell them, 'It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when He struck down the Egyptians.'" (Ex. 12:26-27)
The answer to the simple son is based on:
"In days to come, when your son asks you, 'What does this mean?' say to him, 'With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.'" (Ex. 13:14)
The only one that does not mention a question, is:
On that day tell your son, 'I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.' (Ex. 13:8)
This son is not technically "answered," but "told," because he does not know how to construct the question.
Have you ever had questions, but you didn't even know how to ask them? Read the article below for encouragement.
A Ghost Prison, Moses, and Me
Attached is a link to a local writer's experience with a legendary gorge in Southeastern Kentucky. I've driven over this long, deep gorge many times on the Hwy 80 bridge. It's one of those places that is so wild and beautiful that it makes you imagine what kinds of creatures...or even people...could have lived in that place. In a few minutes after you cross the bridge, the mind moves on to more practical matters.
If you are in too great a hurry to read the article, then here is a summary:
As a young man, the writer wanted to explore this gorge where a Civil War prison camp was rumored to have been concealed. The problem was that no one seemed to have been able to explore the gorge, nor could anyone offer the young man knowledge of a path down into it. One man in particular told him it was impenetrable, not to even waste his time trying. He believed in the older man's wisdom, and for many years, he abandoned even thinking there was a way in, nor did he try.
The desire was so deeply imbedded, however, that eventually he started hiking and probing for ways down to the lost world of Civil War ghosts. There was a way in, but the route was brutal. One day he realized that right there adjacent to the main highway was a path. He tried it, and wonder of wonders, he was able to descend to the unexplored gorge. He writes,
"My face then flushed red with anger. I remembered the man who, decades ago, had given me his worthless advice. He had never peered into the gorge. He probably had never set foot anywhere near the place. I struggled for years searching for alternate routes, when the most direct ones were right under my nose.
I do not regret the search; I now know the area better. Also, I appreciate a valuable lesson learned; never take a man's word for it. Go check it out for yourself." (Patton, 2017,
The writer has so concisely summed up my journey to Moses. In childhood, I loved the Torah and its characters. When I learned to read, the early volumes of
The Bible Story by Arthur C. Maxwell (the ones you used to see in doctors' offices) became worn, while the last couple of volumes were only read a time or two. When I had questions about those early pages, I was told that they had somehow become irrelevant except as homiletical subjects. Nice moral stories.
The depths of those stories were inaccessible to me, and I struggled with the alleged incompatibility between "old" and "new." The bridge over them only made me daydream more about what was in there. I studied and studied alternate routes to reconcile the disparity between what my spirit knew was faith and what my intellect was fed as faith by books, teachers, and mentors.
When I realized that the words on those pages had been accessible all along, I, too, was angry at first. I'd followed the program (mostly), but I knew that no matter what I learned in church, that Yeshua, Peter, John, James, and even Paul had not abandoned those ancient pages of my curiosity to homilies:
"For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (Mt 5:18).
"For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin." (Ro 7:14)
"By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.
The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected." (Jn 2:3-5)
For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. (2 Pe 2:21).
But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. (Ja 1:25)
Both my Messiah and his students concealed the ancient path right there on the highway bridge of pages that started with "Matthew." Every time I hear the name Matthew, I think of Festus on Gunsmoke. But I digress. As the explorer said, in hindsight he learned a valuable lesson. Don't take someone's word for it. Look for yourself. It's not really hidden. You drive by it every day.
Don't be angry at the old man (Ro 6:1-7) who told us there was no way in; he was just passing on what had been passed on to him. Who was at fault? The old man who assumed the information was true, or the young man who didn't ask the old man if he'd ever looked for himself? The young man had heard tales of a ghost prison, but he was in a prison made of tradition mixed with misplaced faith. He was looking for a prison when he was actually in one!
Now, however, the young man knows the way. It's not as difficult to explore the gorge as legend alleged. Although he's found no evidence of an abandoned Civil War prison, the explorer has experienced many satisfying, wondrous days exploring this "inaccessible" natural wonder: springs, waterfalls, old-growth trees, and ancient rock formations. Moses, too, is an accessible wonder of Divine design. The old-growth trees of Adam, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and Miriam are still there teaching "new man" disciples of Yeshua who "believe Moses forever." (Ex 19:9) Those fantastic wonders of Elohim's creation are still concealed to those who believe it's inaccessible or not worth the effort.
How can we convince the "old man" that the beautiful, ancient pages are full of life and accessible even to the faith-handicapped man who is a "new man" to the Torah? Okay, now might be the time for a little homiletical life lesson.
1. Tell the old man that you've personally found the path. You have only explored a little, but there is so much there that you will never live long enough to see all its beauty and mystery unless Yeshua returns.
2. If the old man wants to see it, show him the way. But don't try to take him everywhere on the first hike and wear him out.
3. Don't be angry with the old man. In your search for the path, you did indeed learn a lot about the wrong way down. You can help those who are lost, frustrated, or both. All that learning is not lost; the Holy One was equipping you to help others.
There are other ways into the gorge, and there are other paths into the Torah. They can both brutalize your faith in Yeshua. Be careful with the agnostic guides of textual criticism and evolutionary archaeologists. Many of them begin with the assumption that it's only science, anthropology, or history. Moses is neither a history book, nor is it a grammar textbook. It is a book of faith and miracles. Life. The way is narrow, but it's right there in plain sight.