Torah Portion

Va’era

וארא

Exodus 6:2-9:35
Ezekiel 28:25–29:21
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YHWH: The Original Arabic Meaning of the Name

YHWH: The Original Arabic Meaning of the Name

God reveals his name to Moses as “I am,” from the Hebrew root ה.ו.י, “being.” The name YHWH, however, originates in Midian, and derives from the Arabic term for “love, desire, or passion.”

Prof.
Israel Knohl
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The Plague of Dead Fish

The Plague of Dead Fish

Moses striking the Nile to kill the fish and make the water stink eventually developed into the plague of blood: a case of mythological amplification and its reverse.

Dr. Rabbi
David Frankel
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How God's Revelation of the Name YHWH Continues to Enlighten

How God's Revelation of the Name YHWH Continues to Enlighten

When God reveals the name YHWH to Moses in Exodus, he says that not even the patriarchs knew this name, yet they all use it in Genesis. Critical scholarship’s solution to this problem led to one of the most important academic innovations in biblical studies in the last three hundred years: the Documentary Hypothesis.
Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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The Ethical Problem of Hardening Pharaoh's Heart

The Ethical Problem of Hardening Pharaoh's Heart

It seems unethical for God to deny Pharaoh free will and then punish him for his actions. Rashi, Nahmanides, and Maimonides all struggle with this problem, and each assumes that even Pharaoh deserves to be treated fairly.[1]

Prof. Rabbi
Shaul Magid
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The Missing Speeches in the Plague Narrative and the Samaritan Pentateuch

The Missing Speeches in the Plague Narrative and the Samaritan Pentateuch

Before several plagues, God commands Moses to warn Pharaoh. Moses delivers this warning, but his actual words are not recorded. In the plague of locusts, the opposite occurs, and God’s wording is not recorded while Moses’ warning is. The SP fills in these lacunae by recording each instance.

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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The Three Redactional and Theological Layers of the Plagues

The Three Redactional and Theological Layers of the Plagues

The plague story expanded over time in three main stages: The oldest stage (E) has Moses perform 3 plagues on his own; this was revised to create a story of an all-powerful God performing 8 plagues (J), utilizing Moses as a mouthpiece. Finally, the Priestly redactor revised this into our familiar narrative of 10 plagues, in which God uses the miracles to announce himself to Egypt and the world.

Dr.
Tzemah Yoreh
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The Resumptive Repetition (Wiederaufnahme)

The Resumptive Repetition (Wiederaufnahme)

A literary strategy used by pre-modern editors and authors that works in a similar way to the classic cinematographic catch-phrase, “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch.” (With an addendum by Prof. Marc Brettler)

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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Va’era

וארא

Exodus 6:2-9:35

וַיַּכְבֵּד פַּרְעֹה אֶת לִבּוֹ גַּם בַּפַּעַם הַזֹּאת וְלֹא שִׁלַּח אֶת הָעָם׃

שמות ח:כח

But Pharaoh became stubborn this time also, and would not let the people go.

Exod 8:28

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Exodus

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