Va-eira (I [God] Appeared)

Exodus 6:2 to 9:35

God heard the moaning of the Israelite people and sent Moses to free them. But, why didn’t the Eternal act through an actual appearance on earth or through a representative angel? Why did he act through a reluctant man… Moses?

moses rod 350God spoke to Moses and said to him, ‘I am the Eternal (YHVH), I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai, but I did not make Myself know to them by My name “YHVH….” (Ex. 6:2) And so God, again, meets with Moses and commands him to go to the Israelites and tell them that He [God] has heard their moaning. God continues the message: “I am the Eternal. I will free you from the labors of the Egyptians and deliver you from their bondage. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and through extraordinary chastisements. And I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God…. I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession….” (Ex. 6:6-8)

Then the Eternal tells Moses; “Go and tell Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to let the Israelites depart from his land.” (Ex. 6:10)

Why is Moses chosen to be God’s spokesperson?…. As the story continues, we see that Pharaoh looks to Moses – not God – to stop the plagues…. Later when Moses goes up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments and doesn’t return for forty days, the Israelites don’t call upon God for direction. They act to create another physical structure – the Golden Calf – which they can worship in the absence of Moses.

If God had appeared before the Israelites … and before Pharaoh – or if an angel of God had appeared – communication would have been more forceful. Everyone – Israelite and Egyptian – would have known that God was in control…. But, no…. God sent Moses and Aaron – a MAN and his brother. And we are told that Moses was imperfect. He had a speech impediment and found it difficult to communicate.

Yes, God’s appearance and a miracle that could have given the Israelites freedom and a path to their own land would have been a more forceful action.

God chose a different way to freedom. God’s plan involved a PARTNERSHIP between the Israelite people and God. The actions of Moses were just as essential as the actions of God…. And in order to complete the journey to freedom and the Promised Land, the Israelites had to become part of the actions.

It is not just God who is responsible for a more perfect world. The people … the Israelites must become working partners with God. This is one of the major themes of Torah. We see in the book of Exodus that Moses is more than a leader, a teacher, a prophet …. He becomes a symbol of this necessary PARTNERSHIP between God and man. For success, God needs Moses… God needs the Israelites … God needs mankind.

The success of God’s plan for a more perfect world demands the partnership of Moses and the Israelites…. And in the current world it also demands the partnership of God and us.

Earl Sabes

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

World Of Judaica
Learn Hebrew online with Israel's best teachers