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“And God said to Moses, ‘Come to Pharaoh’” Ex­o­dus 10:1

The Jewish Chronicle - - JUDAISM -

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

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