Bo (Exodus 10:1 – 13:16)

This week, in order: the plague of locusts; the plague of darkness; the laws of Passover, teaching that Passover will continue to be observed “for all time” (12:17); the slaying of the firstborn; the exodus from Egypt; and laws concerning: matzah at Passover, the firstborn, and tefillin.  For ideas concerning natural explanations of the final three plagues, see, e.g., .

Random comments:

1. Remember when Joseph and his brothers went up from Egypt to bury Jacob in Canaan?  They left behind their children and livestock (Gen. 50:8).  Remember also that this whole “let my people go” thing has been presented as a short trip (cf. Gilligan’s “three-hour tour”).  Thus, after the seventh plague (hail), Pharaoh not unreasonably offers to allow only the men to go to worship the Lord in the wilderness, and after the ninth (darkness), he asks only that the livestock remain in Egypt.  At these offers, Moses insists that all will go, even the livestock, confirming suspicions that the Israelites do not intend to return.  After that, surely one would not expect Pharaoh to let the Israelites go until the tenth and most terrible plague struck.

2. Passover and Easter often overlap.  This year, for instance, Easter occurs on April 24 (the latest possible date is April 25 – see ) and the first day of Passover is April 19. My friend Stanley points out (thanks, Stanley) that the “paschal lamb” that is the Passover offering in Chapter 12 is a thanksgiving offering.   But in Christian theology (esp. the Gospel of John), Jesus himself is presented as a “paschal lamb” or Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) that is sacrificed to atone for humanity’s sins, i.e., as an atonement offering.  The motivation for the two types of sacrifices (thanksgiving and atonement) is quite different.  We will learn more about different types of sacrifices in Leviticus.

3. The commentators agree that the darkness of the ninth plague is not merely an absence of light.  Rashi describes it as a tangible, darker than normal darkness.  Sforno explains that the plague darkness did not allow any light to penetrate, which is why the Egyptians had no light in their dwellings in spite of the availability of lamps.  And there are those who link it to a solar eclipse, from which a date of the exodus is inferred, about 1300 BCE.  What is more terrifying that the thought of a physical darkness is a metaphorical, internal one, a darkness of the soul; that is, major depression.  Whether is seems to come out of nowhere or is a response to events (plagues will do that), depression is characterized not simply by individual symptoms such as sadness, lack of energy, vague physical ailments, sleep disturbance, appetite disturbance, etc. (see more at ) but by a profound lack of hope.  It’s not just that things are bad.  It’s that there is no hope that they will ever be better, that the darkly clouded sky will ever be blue again.  Surely this describes the Egyptians after the first eight plagues, while the Israelites had light (hope of redemption) in their dwellings.

Shabbat shalom,

Solar Eclipse

Joke of the Day Posted on | May 30, 2009 |
A few years ago, as a solar eclipse approached, some planetarium directors in Southern California sent out warnings to the community about the eclipse. They warned people not to look directly into the sun.
The planetarium received an indignant letter from a local resident. She said that if an eclipse was so dangerous, they never should have decided to hold one and ought to cancel it.
Meet the locust muncher [excerpts]

·        BRYAN LITTLELY  From: The Advertiser  September 22, 2010 12:01AM


MEAN EATING MACHINE: Farmer Terry Bediavas on his Paringa property with the “muncher” he designed to suck and smash plague locusts. Picture: SARAH REED Source: AdelaideNow

LOCUSTS, your days are numbered. Paringa farmer Terry Bediavas has made a machine to suck and smash to bits the locust plagues that threaten his crops – and his “Locust Muncher” is not a joke.

“Everyone just laughed at me when I told them what the hell it is,” Mr Bediavas said. “But it works … it’s a bit of fun, too.”

South Australia is facing the worst locust plague in 40 years. Some cropping and wine-growing regions are under threat for the first time.

A $12.8 million campaign – involving 130 government employees and seven planes spraying an estimated 453,000ha – is starting as immature locusts, known as hoppers, hatch within the next few days.

Authorities say public help is vital to pinpoint the hoppers because the “strike time” for spraying is limited to one month – after which they start flying and can ravage orchards, vineyards and pastures.

Spraying must be finished in time for residue to break down so it does not contaminate lucrative export crops and harm livestock. But Mr Bediavas is offering a back-up plan.


“The locusts were very bad in April. I saw them swarm up in big black clouds and there were times you could not see the ground for locusts,” he said.

“I thought, if only I had a big jet engine, I could suck the whole lot of them up and mash them.”

Even though his Locust Muncher can suck and destroy “hundreds of locusts a second”, Mr Bediavas says tackling plague proportions the likes of which are now bearing down on the Riverland and threatening to do millions of dollars worth of damage to crops, seems overwhelming.

“It didn’t seem like I was doing much to the plague when I used it because there were locusts just everywhere,” he said.

“But I could see them being sucked into the muncher and being spat out and that gave me great pleasure. I’d already resigned myself to the fact that I was going to lose my crop, but a few days of using the muncher and they were gone. My crop was saved and it actually is one of the healthiest I’ve had here.”

Mr Bediavas said he’d received some “joking about orders” for the Locust Muncher, mounted to his trusty Holden Belmont ute, but the “crazy” locust hunter would have the last laugh when desperate neighbours asked for his help.

Darkness Quotations

~ Darkness is only driven out with light, not more darkness. ~  
        Martin Luther King, Jr.

~ When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. ~
        Charles Austin Beard
~ Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people. ~
        Carl Jung

~ Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it. ~
        Terry Pratchett
(sent out 11 years ago)
Passover the Untold Story

Moses was running focus group sessions up until the actual moment of the Exodus, to decide on a fitting name for the new nation of runaway slaves. “Israelites” came back with a consistent 15-25 point score, well below the overall number one choice. But an hour before midnight a young Levite attorney specializing in Lower-Egyptian copyright law informed Moses that the name “Corinthians” was already taken. Other front runners: “Israel-regulars” and “Moses and the Chiffons.”
The figure of 600,000 Jews who left Egypt refers only to men between the ages of 20 and 60 with reasonably good credit. (In Talmudic sources the Exodus is frequently referred to as “The Great Consumer flight.”)

The Pascal Sacrifice may be substituted by a Nietzsche or Schopenhauer sacrifice.

I sent this item (shortened here) out 8 years ago, but is now a dead link.

Remember those little glass domes with a scene inside, water, and white flakes that looked like snow when you shook the thing?  I found these on the web (where else…):

Products of the Apocalypse, Inc., Specializing in Biblical Plague Snowdomes and Other Disasters
Swarm of Locusts Plaguedome

Can you imagine what a swarm of hungry grasshoppers sounds like? With this Plaguedome, you won’t ever have to! With a quick swish of your wrist you can cause millions of ravenous locusts to descend upon the world’s food supply! This 40mm diameter, glass dome was the first in the Plaguedomes line here at Products of the Apocalypse, Inc. Don’t let this one pass you over!

Currently, these 40mm domes are cast in the finest of plastique and glass and filled to the overflowing brim with good ol’ tap water and 10% antifreeze solution to keep you shaking up a storm during those hard winter nights. Every scene is individually designed to make each of the ten plagues extremely unique*.  Hours of tender, loving care are invested in each of these works of art to provide you with an experience of Biblical proportions.

* Extreme uniqueness may vary.

Here are comments on plaguedomes I found in 2011 from Millennium Hell (1999):

Right now there are only two domes available, The”Plague of Locusts Dome” and the “Three Days of Darkness Dome.”
You can look forward to the eight other forthcoming domes including Hordes of Frogs, Biting Flies, Unruly Lice, Pestilence of Livestock, Rivers of Blood, Lightning with Hail, the Death of your First Born, and of course, BOILS, BOILS, BOILS!

The staff at Plague Domes is committed to “customer satisfaction” and “bringing your favorite religious catastrophes deep into the coming millennium.”

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