This week Daniel and Karl are joined by the great Phyllis Spiegel as they delve into Exodus, Ch. 12. On the surface, Ch. 12 seems like a lot of throat-clearing for Ch. 13. But it does, in fact, allow us to ask the most profound questions about God and society. If you’re interested in that kind of thing, this podcast is for you! Listen using the player below or subscribe through iTunes or your favorite podcasting network. The midrash that Daniel provides is below the player.
G‑d said to Moses: “Yet one more plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh . . .” (11:1)
Ordinarily, G‑d spoke with Moses only outside of the city, which was full of idols and impurities. On this occasion, however, He spoke to him in the throne room of Pharaoh’s palace. For Moses had said to Pharaoh, “You have spoken well; I will see your face again no more”; yet in the following verses, he conveys this new message from G‑d to Pharaoh! This means that G‑d appeared to Moses in the very epicenter of the idolatry and depravity of Egypt.
G‑d spoke to Moses . . . : “Please, speak into the ears of the people, that every man ask of his neighbor, and every woman of her neighbor, articles of silver, and articles of gold . . .” (11:2)
To what is this comparable? To a man who is locked up in prison and is told: “Tomorrow you shall be freed from prison and given a lot of money.” Says he: “I beg you, free me today, and I ask for nothing more . . .”
[But G‑d had said to Abraham at the “Covenant Between the Parts”: “Know that your children shall be strangers in a foreign land, [where] they will be enslaved and afflicted . . . and afterwards they will go out with great wealth” (Genesis 15:13–14).]
So G‑d had to plead with them: “Please! Ask the Egyptians for gold and silver, so that the Righteous One should not say: ‘They will be enslaved and afflicted’ He fulfilled, but He did not fulfill ‘and afterwards they will go out with great wealth.’”
(Talmud, Berachot 9b)
5 and every firstborn animal: Because they [the Egyptians] worshipped it, and when the Holy One, blessed be He, punishes any nation, He punishes its deity. — [from Mechilta, Bo, on Exod. 12:29]