The next plague is darkness. After that, Pharaoh wants to talk to Moses as usual and he says in Exo 10.24, “Go and serve Yehovah; only let your flocks and your herds be detained. Even your little ones may go with you.” Now, this is surprising. Everyone is allowed to go except their livestock and herds. Pharaoh isn’t even trying to hide his intentions here, he wants to cooperate and he isn’t looking for something to make himself look good in the sight of the people. What does Moses do? He makes further demands!
Exo 10.25-26 says that he told Pharaoh that they must take all of the animals because they must make sacrifices and offerings and they don’t know which type of animal they will need to worship the Lord. So, nothing will be hind if Pharaoh wants to avoid future issues. Needless to say, Pharaoh isn’t very happy about with rejection, and he makes a counter demand to Moses in Exo 10.28. He tells Moses to go away and to not look upon his face again, If he does, he will die. Moses answers in Exo 10.29, ” You are right, I shall never see your face again.”
As Moses walks away, Yehovah tells him to go back and to give Pharaoh one last message. On this very night, about midnight, the first-born in the land Egypt will die (Exo 11.1-8). Now, this plague will be different. Israel will not be exempted unless they do something. They must bring a Korban Shelem, a lamb, and place the blood of this lamb on the lintels and doorposts of their houses. Now, why were the Hebrew first-born at risk?
It involves the concept of the “Bekor” or first-born, so we are going to take some time to teach this concept. Remember, earlier in this story, Israel was referred to as his “first-born” (Exo 4.22). Pharaoh is told he must release his first-born even before the plagues started. If Pharaoh failed to let them go, then the Lord will strike the first-born of Pharaoh. How and when did the Hebrews gain the status of first-born? Exo 4.22 is the first time Israel is referred to in those terms? Was this the status they had before Exo 4 or was it saying that would come after Exo 4?
Rabbi Fohrman says that this was a “hope for Israel’s destiny” and “something Israel had to earn.” But, when would they earn it? How would they earn it? Could it be that when the Lord threatened the first-born of Phar oh if he did not let the first-born of Israel go he was referring to this tenth plague? Is that when the Lord took Israel as his own first-born?
What Yehovah is telling Pharaoh was that there will come a time when I will kill your first-born, and my first-born will live. That would happen if Pharaoh rejected his demand. But how would Israel gain that status? It was through the Korban Shelem, the Passover lamb according to Fohrman. It was a change of status. It actually was a vehicle for a change from slave to first-born of Yehovah. But what does that mean?
The events of the Exodus as we have said before were to accomplish two things. They were to free the Hebrews and to show that Yehovah is the one, true creator God of all. If God set us free from bondage, wouldn’t you want to give that freedom back to God? But how? That is where the Korban Shelem, the “pesach” lamb comes in.
They were willing to do something totally unique for Yehovah because he wanted them to. They wanted to be first-born and that meant that this God, Yehovah, was their Father in heaven. He was not some “power” but a loving being who wanted to have a relationship. Now the Lord is the creator of all and in a sense everyone is related in a heavenly “family.” But, this is where one member of this family took a step to announce to everyone else that they were the first-born. The nation of Israel was created by God and they were the first and only nation to be declared by the Lord to be his first-born.
This declaration related to the Exodus. Was this the plan of God from the beginning? In Gen 1.1 we have the word “Bereshit.” The “B” in that word is “beit” and it means “House.” It is also written very big in a Torah scroll. God was building a “house” from the beginning. The Lord knew what he was doing, but the fathers that built that house didn’t. Things were revealed to them over the years as God’s plan moved forward, the this Passover lamb was part of that p[lan. The world needed a first-born who would go out and teach them about their creator God called Yehovah. They needed to be taught the things of God, and how they (the world) had a heavenly Father, too.
God wanted his values to be passed down to his children. The first-born can serve as a conduit between God and the other nations. That is the heart of what Yeshua said in Matt 28.19-20 when he said, “Go, therefore, and make talmudim (disciples) of all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit); teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Moses told Pharaoh the first time they met that Israel was God’s first-born (Exo 4.22-23). God wanted his children to serve him, as any father would. They would be taught and given instructions (Torah) on how to function as first-born in this world. They would be taken to the family land holdings in Canaan, and from there, they would teach what their Father taught them to the world (Deut 4.1-8). If Pharaoh denied God the ability to pass on his values to his children, then Pharaoh/Egypt would be denied the ability to pass on his values to his children.
The Passover was the first time Israel as a nation “served” Yehovah. This plague, as we have said before, involved them, too. They were not going to be exempted so they needed to make a decision. The Lord is going to require that Israel take a sheep or goat, and to bring it into their house. Sheep and goats were Egyptian deities by the way. Then the Lord said they were to slaughter the animal after four days, then put the blood from that animal on the lintel and doorposts of their houses.
In the conclusion, we will pick up here with the concept of the first-born and a comparison between the creation and the crossing of the sea.