Monday, January 12, 2015


Exodus 6:2 - 9:35

Rabbi Howard Cohen for Jewish Reconstructionist Communities

Two Prophets on Self-Deification

This week's Torah reading focuses on the first eight plagues God delivers unto the Egyptians because of Pharaoh's refusal to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt. Pharaoh's arrogant defiance of the word of God in Parshat Vayera is also the same theme of the haftarah. Moreover, in both selections prophets of God challenge the most egregious form of idolatry: self-deification. While addressing what appear to be events set in history, they are actually addressing a real and constant danger that exists hand in hand with free will.

Though the imagery is borrowed from this week's parsha, the haftarah, nevertheless, refers, to a different Pharaoh. The one against whom Ezekiel is prophesying is the ruler of Egypt in the year 587 BCE., one year before Jerusalem is destroyed by the Babylonians. What makes Ezekiel's prophecy interesting is the fact that it proves to be wrong! He predicts that Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, will "despoil it and plunder it" [Egypt]. However, as it were, Egypt did not fall to Babylon. Eventually, however, that nation does come to be dominated by the Greeks and later the Romans.

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