“And God said to Moses, ‘Come to Pharaoh’” Exodus 10:1
At the very beginning of the sidrah, and not for the first time, God tells Moses to approach Pharaoh to demand the release of the Children of Israel. The verse here states: “And God said to Moses, ‘Come to Pharaoh’” (Exodus 10:1). The word “come” is very strange indeed. Surely it should say “go” to Pharaoh — as it does elsewhere?
Some see this as a tacit reminder and reassurance to Moses that the Almighty is omnipresent. If God is in the palace of the mighty ruler, there is no need to fear the caprice of any mortal king. As ultimate master of space and time, He, as opposed to Pharaoh, will be calling the shots; presiding with a concerned, if invisible, eye. So in telling Moses to “come”, the verse demonstrates whose palace it actually is, providing a timely and comforting reminder in a tense hour.
But perhaps there is another, altogether more psychological, dimension in the use of this word. The well-known motivational author Napoleon Hill suggests that, “The world has the habit of making room for the man whose words and actions show that he knows where he is going.” At this critical juncture, Moses, having utterly failed in his earlier attempts to impress his message upon Pharaoh, needed desperately to rally his own self-confidence and belief in where he was going. By regarding Pharaoh as a remote and awesome figure inhabiting an exalted world of power, Moses could only struggle to penetrate that world. If, however, he could see the king’s palace and court as a milieu no different to his own, then he might have a renewed sense of confidence and purpose in his task.
Thus God tells him, “Don’t go to the palace to speak to Pharaoh. Instead, imagine that you’re coming to my place — your place — and see what a difference that makes!”
RABBI REUBEN LIVINGSTONE