In last week’s Portion, Moses had failed in his attempts to convince Pharaoh to “let my people go”; in fact, Pharaoh challenged Moses by saying, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?” Well ….in this week’s Portion, V’Era (And he Appeared), he is about to find out who the LORD is!!
God started with His promise to Moses that He would deliver them from Egypt; then God stepped into the negotiation process, and the Plagues started. We see the first seven Plagues in this Portion, and I can’t help but see God’s Hand in each of them: the Plagues increased in severity (starting with their effect on the peoples’ comfort, then the death of their animals and ultimately ending with their own death)! And each succeeding Plague also increased in precision; first, geographically (Goshen is exempted from the Plagues after the first three); and then in their timing (Moses even asked Pharaoh to choose the specific time of day that the Plague would end). Only the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob could do that!
And with each successive Plague, Pharaoh “hardened” his own heart – by becoming more stubborn to God’s Will, and also by strengthening himself to endure the next Plague. By the 7th Plague, Pharaoh seemed to have a change of heart (pardon the pun) as he agreed to let Israel go to worship the LORD in the Wilderness.
By the end of the Portion, we can almost hear God saying to Himself, “Hold on, Pharaoh, you can’t give in now; I still have three more Plagues in store for you, so that you will know who I AM!” We will see next week that God takes over the “hardening” of Pharaoh’s heart to insure that he hangs in there to the 10th Plague.