Va’era’/”And I Appeared”, Exodus 6:2-9:35 covers over half (7 of the 10) of the plagues that take place in Egypt! But this all begins with an introduction of who Yahweh is and who He is going to be to Israel. It seems that there is now a shift in the type of relationship that differs from what has been known before. Abraham, Isaac’s, and Jacob’s relationship is characterized here as knowing Yah in the role of El Shaddai – the one who is all sufficient. Yet their descendant’s relationship will now be based upon their knowing him in the role of יהוה.
This is not the first reference of His name Yahweh, numerous verses describe him speaking to the Patriarchs using this name, so what then is being said here in this verse? (*It’s important to note that this revelation is going hand in hand with the reminder that Yahweh has an inheritance for Israel!)
The context must be looked at. This is declared at Mosheh’s second meeting with the Israelites – in Exodus 4:28-31 the response of the people to the message that Moshe brings is that they believed and worshipped – this time they are unable to hear! It seems then that something has happened after the initial introduction, which now causes the type of relationship to shift!
In the time between these encounters Pharaoh takes away the straw and the people must make bricks with stubble.
Exodus 5:11-12 – “Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not ought of your work shall be diminished. So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.”
Straw: Strong’s #8401 teben תֶּבֶן straw; from #1129 banah בָּנָה to build, rebuild, establish, cause to continue, to build a house or to establish a family
*Gematria = 452, same as #2994 yebemeth יְבֵמֶת sister-in-law, brother’s wife, brother’s widow; used exclusively to describe the Levirate marriage where the brother of the deceased will marry the widow who had no children in order to give her offspring that will continue the name and lineage of the deceased brother and continue on the passing of the inheritance and house.
What is this connection and why is it significant? The Levirate marriage emphasizes the importance of building the family name, lest it be cut off, and the continual passing on of that inheritance that is attached to that name! Hence the first thing addressed when Mosheh shows up on the scene is the fact that there is an inheritance waiting on them that Yahweh has promised them and the importance of knowing His Name! At the same time, this exposes Israel’s current condition! Rather than building the House of Yahweh, continuing to propagate His Name, and understanding that they have an inheritance that was promised, they are busy building the name and the family of Pharaoh!
Diminished: Strong’s #1639 gara’ גָּרַע to diminish, restrain, withdraw, abate, keep back, do away, take from, or clip; the first 3 uses of this term deal with Israel’s quota of bricks, the 4th reference is quite interesting – Exodus 21:10 – “If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish/gara’”.
*Could it be that the message from Pharaoh to Israel was that they could take Yahweh as another spouse/Husband (after all Egypt had a pantheon of them), but if they chose to do so, they were not allowed to diminish or withdraw their duties to Pharaoh!
Stubble: Strong’s #7179 qash קַשׁ stubble, chaff; from the root #7197 qashash קָשַׁשׁ to assemble, to gather, to collect, infers to gather to seek for something, or even to gather one’s self, as in to gather one’s thoughts together
*ק = The back of the head & ש = letter associated as representing Shaddai – El Shaddai, reference to Yahweh the All Sufficient!
It’s here that Israel makes a decision to reject Yahweh in the role that their Forefathers knew Him as! They turn their back (ק) on El Shaddai (ש) rather than diminish or take from Pharaoh who they have looked to as their husband!
*And to tie all this together, the value of straw/teben (452) – the value of stubble/qash (400) = 52 the value of #2992 yabam יִבֵּם to perform levirate marriage, perform the duty of a brother-in-law so the family name will not die out! This choice was all about whose house they would build, what name they would ensure continued, and what inheritance they were guarding!
Now back to the name of this portion – va’era! From the root #7200 ra’ah רָאָה to see, look at, inspect, perceive, consider, to learn about, to give attention to, to discern, to distinguish; gematria = 206, same as Dabar דבר Word/Promised Word! This also happens to be the name applied to the inheritance of Israel – the Dabar/Promised Land.
*When speaking of Abarahm, Isaac, & Jacob, Yahweh declares to Israel concerning their forefathers that they gave attention to, perceived, considered, and had discernment concerning the Dabar/Promised Word – their inheritance which is now being juxtaposed to Israel’s current state where they have failed to do so!
Here ra’ah is conjugated as va’era וארא which has a value of 208 – same as ‘azar (#247) אָזַר to arm, to gird up, to bind; as a soldier must put on his armor and gird up for battle
*Isaiah 45:5 – “I am Yahweh, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee (‘azar), though thou hast not known me:”
With this introduction it seems to send the message to Israel that Yahweh’s about to reveal that there is no God beside Him, and though they have not known Him and in fact have refused Him, He is now setting into motion a process by which they will be girded for battle and armed because there’s an inheritance that they will have to war for!
*It’s a cognate of #249 ‘ezrah אֶזְרָח a native-born person of a land, as opposed to a stranger or settler, one who had full rights – if they’re willing to fight for this, if they’re willing to know Yahweh, the promise is that they will be as one who has full rights in the Covenant that’s offered!
Yahweh: Strong’s #3068 Yehovah יְהֹוָה the existing one; from #1961 hayah הָיָה to be, become, come to pass, exist, happen, fall out; cognate of #1933 havah הָוָה to fall, become, exist, to happen, or to breathe
*This root havah is a cognate of ##1942 havvah הַוָּה destruction, calamity, evil, evil desires of the wicked; describes the calamities of life, which requires refuge in God for protection!
Could it be that because they have rejected Him in the role of El Shaddai (the one who is sufficient for them) that they will now yada’ – know Him intimately as Yahweh because they have been taught through experience that He is the Existing One, He Who Was, Who Is, & Who Will Be; and in the midst of great destruction and calamity (plagues) they experienced that He was the only Refuge able to offer protection and save!
Psalm 91:3 – “Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome (havvah) pestilence (deber).”
Deliver: Strong’s #5337 natsal נָצַל to snatch away, deliver, rescue, save, strip, or plunder; same term used in this Torah Portion in Exodus 6:6 as part of the 7 fold promise – “…and I will rid you (natsal) out of their bondage…”
*Breaking apart this term: נ = Seed/Word/Dabar & צל = tsel (#6738) shadow, shade – as in the shadow of the wings of the Almighty is my refuge! Their deliverance (and ours) comes via us understanding that His Word/Dabar is a refuge for us and we are able to abide within it as the analogy of abiding under His Wings!
Fowler: Strong’s #3353 yaquwsh יָקוֹשׁ fowler, trapper, bait-layer; from #3369 yaqosh יָקֹשׁ to lure, entice, snare, lay a snare or lure, set a trap, to be a bird catcher, to be taken in a noose; 1st reference is Deut. 7:25 describing graven images that would be a snare!
*In Isaiah 8:15 and 28:13 Israel is snared by their rejection of God’s Word (Dabar = Inheritance!)
Notice the 2 letter root though! קש which just so happens to form the word for stubble or chaff – what Israel was forced to gather when Pharaoh took away the straw. Remember, the moment Israel was obedient to gather the straw it indicated that they had turned their back on El Shaddai, rejecting the Promises and rejecting the Word, choosing rather to continue to appease Pharaoh. It’s this very rejection of the Dabar that is the snare of the fowler that brings the noisome pestilence.
Their rejection of Him in the role of El Shaddai sets in motion the plagues, 3 of which Israel themselves will experience! Why? To yada’ Him as Yahweh – to know by experience that He is a haven in the midst of pestilence, to know by experience that His Word is a refuge that we can abide in during times of trouble.
And it’s this that is encapsulated in that name Yahweh! Proverbs 18:10 – “The name of Yahweh is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.”
After the introduction of this name with the accompanying 7 fold promise, Yahweh ends on the note that He has a heritage for Israel (6:8). Here it is directly connected to the physical land, but throughout the Scriptures there are 2 items recognized as the heritage – 1) the Land 2) The Torah/the Word/Dabar (Deuteronomy 33:4).
Heritage: Strong’s #4181 mowrashah מוֹרָשָׁה a possession; from #4180 mowrash מוֹרָשׁ possession; from the root #3423 yarash יָרַשׁ to seize, dispossess, take possession of, inherit, disinherit, occupy, be an heir
*2 Words are seen that describe an inheritance/heritage. Mowrashah/Yerushah as well as Nachalah נַחֲלָה (#5159) this term is related to the word meaning river or stream (nachal) and just as the river flows downhill, so the inheritance flows down the generations naturally needing no effort on our part.
Yet the term Yahweh uses here to identify what He has for Israel is mowrashah! This term is an active verb meaning to take possession – it was a reminder that though they were the rightful heirs to the land and Covenant and Torah and it would flow naturally to them there was still a requirement on their end to do something about it! They would have to seize it lest it pass them by!
Breaking mowrashah מוֹרָשָׁה – מור (#4171) to change, exchange, to alter, it indicates a person changing their attitudes or decisions, an actual turning of one thing into another
רשה root (Klein’s Etymological Dictionary) to empower, to authorize, permit, allow, to possess, can literally infer to become a creditor (rather than a debtor)
If Israel will change their attitudes and decisions, if they’ll be transformed into who Yahweh intends them to be, then that transformation will empower them and authorize them to have access to the inheritance that has been set aside for them and is rightfully theirs!
They will no longer be seen as slaves (debtors in Egypt) with bondage as their heritage (passed down from one generation to the next) but will be seen one who stood up and took possession of what was rightfully theirs!
*This only happens when Israel changes their mindset though!
It’s no accident that the parshah then shifts gears and goes into a short genealogy (Exodus 6:14-27), only covering the first 3 sons of Jacob (Reuben, Simeon, & Levi). It’s interesting to note that these 3 sons, when last seen, are given the harshest blessings by Jacob upon his deathbed! All three are guilty of compromising the house in some manner causing them to lose the blessing of the firstborn status! Yet the focus is placed upon these 3 reminding all of Israel that they are guilty of the same! They’ve compromised the house and have lost the blessings and turned their back on their heritage as well!
Now we can understand why of the 10 plagues 3 affect Israel as well! Its tied right back to the 3 who rejected their inheritance! Israel invokes these 3 judgments the moment they reject their heritage and Yahweh in His role as El Shaddai. It is only when they now realize that He is the only refuge in times of trouble that they are severed and a division put between Egypt and Israel.
Exodus 8:22, 23 – “And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am Yahweh in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be.”
Division: Strong’s #6304 peduwth פְּדוּת ransom, division, distinction, from #6299 padah פָּדָה to ransom, deliver, redeem, rescue, to let loose – same word used to describe how we’re commanded to redeem the firstborn! Yahweh redeems Israel His firstborn when they acknowledge the task they’ve been given – it’s their job to possess the inheritance – the Dabar/the Land/the Covenant!