Tag Archives: exodus

Exodus 35-40:

Building of the Tabernacle / Tent of Meeting:
Moses tells the Israelites this is what the Lord has commanded: “Take up among you a collection for the Lord. Everyone, as his heart prompts him, shall bring a contribution to the Lord. . ”  Thus, all the materials for the Tabernacle were gathered from donations from among the people.  God also calls expert artisans (Bezalel and Oholiab, etc. ) to work on the construction of the Meeting Tent.  Once the Tabernacle “mishkhan” is later consecrated and sanctified, it is no longer referred to as the Tabernacle, but now, the “Tent of Meeting” or “Meeting Tent.”  God will now dwell with His people, meet and have fellowship with them.  The people brought so many contributions that they had more than enough and Moses had to tell them to stop bringing contributions.  Yahweh dictates to Moses all of the specific materials and dimensions for the construction of the Tabernacle.  It is a heavenly blueprint that images the Tabernacle from Heaven.  “The veil was woven of violet, purple, and scarlet yarn, and of fine linen twined, with cherubim embroidered on it.” This is the veil in front of the Holy of Holies that is later torn when Jesus dies on the Cross.  The inner sanctum of the Holy of Holies of Yahweh is made accessible to all peoples through the death of Christ.  For now, the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat of Yahweh will lay hidden behind the veil in the Sacred Space of the Meeting Tent. The other Sacred objects, such as the Ark, the Table, the Altar of Incense, are often made of “acacia wood” and covered in gold, signifying Christ and the Incarnation.  The Altar of Holocausts is made with acacia wood and plated in bronze.  The Courtyard also has the bronze laver for washing.  As one enters the Tabernacle they proceed from “bronze” objects into objects covered with gold to “pure gold” as sanctity and Sacredness increases deeper into the Tabernacle.

The Meaning of the Tabernacle / Tent of Meeting:
The Tabernacle will be a “new Eden,” where God will once again dwell with His people in a Sacred Space.  The Edenic Outpost of the Tabernacle will be an outpost of sanctity and holiness in a sea of chaos, desert, and wilderness.  The Cherubim on the Tabernacle harken to this idea of the Cherubim guarding the Garden of Eden.  The Menorah in the Tabernacle harkens to the Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden too.  The same colors decorate the veils and curtains: violet, purple, scarlet, and white. Different materials (gold, bronze, wood) show varying gradations of sanctity and holiness in the Tabernacle. The deeper one goes into the Tabernacle the deeper one goes into holiness and Sacred Space.  Only the High Priest can go behind the Veil to the Mercy Seat and Ark of the Covenant (the footstool of God) once a year on the Day of Atonement (“Yom Kippur”).  This is the most holy place in the Sacred Space of the Tabernacle.  There are varying zones and gradations of Sacred Space around the Holy of Holies.  They also have varying degrees of Sacred objects and priests of varying Sacred Status that can access varying zones of the Sacred Space at specific Sacred Times (Feasts, Festivals, Sabbaths), all governed by specific policies and procedures dictated by God.  Yahweh is distinct from us.  There is an “otherness” to Yahweh.  Being in the very presence of God is dangerous.  Hence, breaking any of these rules or regulations or procedures can, and would, very likely lead to someone’s death.  One must be “whole” and sanctified and consecrated to enter the Tabernacle, and only at the proscribed times and with the proscribed actions.  Anything else risks the ritual purity of the Sacred Space and the presence of God leaving, and quite possibly the life of the offending person.   Ritual purity is crucial to maintaining the Sacred Space of the Tabernacle / Tent of Meeting.  This has nothing to do with immorality or sins, but is about “ritual purity” and being able to access the Holy Place of God.  To maintain this relationship and fellowship with God, one must follow God’s rules, be obedient to His requirements for the Covenant.  Then, God will bless the people and dwell with them.  Breaking the rules, will result in God cursing them, and leaving His people (as happens later in Israel’s history).  For now, it is all about re-establishing this “outpost of Eden” in the midst of the Israelites and progressing on God’s mission to sanctify His “firstborn son” of Israel.  This plan will lead Israel to proclaim Yahweh to the nations, drawing the Gentiles back into Covenant with God.  This is fulfilled obviously with the coming of Jesus, the Gospel and the New Testament.  The Tabernacle at Mt. Sinai, however, is the first step.   The Trinity also lay hidden in the Tabernacle from the Courtyard (which is Christ) to the Holy Place with the tongues of fire Menorah (which is the Holy Spirit) to the Holy of Holies (which is God the Father).  The three zones in one Tabernacle reveal the three persons of the Trinity of the one God.

Priestly Vestments:
The priests and High Priests vestments are similarly described with similar colors and materials.  Violet, purple, and scarlet yarn and “fine linen.”  Gold is threaded into the Ephod.  The names of the twelve tribes are also inscribed into it.  The breastpiece is filled with four rows of precious stones, twelve in all, matching the twelve tribes of Israel. The High Priest is the representative of all of Israel.  He is the intercessor and mediator before God for his people Israel.  He alone can enter the Holy of Holies once a year.  He has consecrated Sacred Status, who can enter the Sacred Space, on a specific Sacred Time, and perform Sacred Actions. Bells of pure gold are sewn into the bottom of the garment.  Later, Jewish tradition holds that the bells are there partially to know when the High Priest is performing the priestly actions in the Holy of Holies, and if he is struck down by Yahweh for making a mistake, then they would know. Supposedly a rope was tied around his ankle too so they can drag him out if he dies while in the Holy of Holies, since no one else could enter there within.  As the High Priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on the Mercy Seat on the Day of Atonement one can imagine the bells ringing, just as the bell rings three times at the consecration of the Eucharist in the Catholic Mass.   The other priests also wear “tunics of fine linen” just as Jesus wore a seamless tunic as He was brought to the Cross and crucifixion.  Jesus sacrifices Himself as both priest and victim.  The plate of gold on the head that says “Holy to the Lord.”

Tabernacle Completed:
“Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished; and the people of Israel had done according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses; so had they done.” (Ex. 39:32)  Then, they brought everything they had made and presented it to Moses.  “And Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, so had they done it. And Moses blessed them.” (Ex. 39:43)  Then, the Lord has Moses anoint and consecrate everything to Him to make it holy:  “Then you shall take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and consecrate it and all its furniture; and it shall become holy.  go to link 10 You shall also anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar; and the altar shall be most holy.  buy modafinil sweden 11 You shall also anoint the laver and its base, and consecrate it.  discount Maxalt 12 Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tent of meeting, and shall wash them with water,  13 and put upon Aaron the holy garments, and you shall anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve me as priest.” (Ex. 40:9-13)  After they had did all that Yahweh commanded, the Tabernacle was finally erected, consecrated, and finished, just as God had instructed. “So Moses finished the work.” (Ex. 40:33)

The Glory Cloud of the Lord Fills the Tabernacle:
Now, God dwells again with His people, just like again at Eden.  The microcosm of Eden is complete.  The Restoration has begun, first with Israel.  Yahweh leads His people Israel, and Israel has fellowship with their God.  “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would go onward; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not go onward till the day that it was taken up. For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.” (Ex. 40:34-38) Thus, ends the book of Exodus, the Lord stays with the camp of the Israelites throughout their wanderings in the wilderness.

The Intercommunion Controversy and Exodus – August 13, 2018

The German bishops are keeping at it. They are pushing the controversial agenda of intercommunion in certain instances for “mixed marriages” of Catholics with Protestant spouses. Accordingly, the German bishops published guidelines entitled: “Walking with Christ – tracing unity. Inter-denominational marriages and sharing the Eucharist.” It was released even after Pope Francis had sent a letter, via Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) Archbishop Luis Ladaria, S.J. to Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German Bishop’s Conference, in order to stop its publication. The guidelines argue that Protestant spouses should be allowed to receive the Eucharist, because it may cause “grave spiritual distress” to the spouse and the marriage if they are not permitted to do so. The German bishops plan to continue pushing the measure at the bishop’s conference plenary assembly in September.

However, as Cardinal Gerhard Muller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has argued, interdenominational marriage “does not represent a situation of ‘grave and pressing need.'” He further reflected: “Whoever wants to receive the sacramental Body and Blood of Christ must already be integrated into the body of Christ, which is the Church, through the confession of faith and sacramental baptism. Thus, there is no mystical, individualistic, and emotional communion with Christ that can thought of apart from baptism and the Church membership.” This follows the guidelines of the Catechism: “Ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic Church, ‘have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders.’ It is for this reason that, for the Catholic Church, Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible.” (CCC 1400) Or, in other words, only a person who is in full communion with the Catholic faith is permitted to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

Then, there is the question of Canon Law 844, paragraph 4, which “provides for the giving of Holy Communion to a non-Catholic who has no access to his own minister and who manifests the Catholic faith, if he is in danger of death, or in the judgment of the Diocesan Bishop or Conference of Bishops, another grave necessity warrants it.” The German bishops are using this as a kind of sacramental loophole. Yet, as Cardinal Raymond Burke points out, this exception is meant specifically for emergency, near-death situations. He recommends revising this paragraph, because of “its lack of clarity which has led to many contradictory practices in the matter of ‘intercommunion.'”

There are other, older, antecedents found in scripture to this idea of intercommunion. The Book of Exodus sheds light on the present controversy regarding the Paschal mystery. After all, the Paschal mystery originated in Exodus, as a sketch of things to come. After the original Passover, the Israelites were permitted to leave Egypt. Yet, it was not just the Jews who departed but: “A mixed multitude also went up with them.” (Ex. 12:38) Like the present controversy involving “mixed marriages,” the Israelites came out of Egypt as a “mixed multitude,” meaning they were not all practicing Jews. They were outside the Israelites’ covenantal bonds with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was at the dramatic scene at Mount Sinai that the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were established as annual, obligatory feasts as part of the Covenant. Later, apparently, some of the non-Jews of the mixed multitude, in the midst of the Israelite congregation, wanted to partake also of the Passover lamb and Unleavened Bread – prefigurements to the Eucharist and the Mass. How would Yahweh respond?

Yahweh declares: “no foreigner shall eat of it.” (Ex. 12:43) No foreigner, meaning no one outside of the covenantal seal, shall partake of it. If someone does want to partake in the Passover, Yahweh tells them to be “circumcised, then he may come near and keep it.” That is, He tells them to become Jews and observe the commands of the Law, to worship God “as a native of the land.” Basically, God tells the mixed multitude to convert and join the covenant. Only then, can they participate. God is adamant that there will be “one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” Yahweh does not give allowance for anyone outside the covenantal relationship.

Yahweh further declares: “In one house shall it be eaten; you shall not carry forth any of the flesh outside the house.” Just as none of the Passover meal should be eaten outside of the Jewish house, so too, the Eucharist should not be carried outside of the one holy Catholic Church. Even if one is baptized, the seal of the New Covenant (like circumcision in the Old), as Protestants are, the Eucharistic prerogative remains: it shall be eaten in one house, and none of its flesh shall be taken outside the house, that is, the faith of the Church. Communion should be given only to Catholics within the one Catholic Church.

This is the Fathers’ interpretation too. St. Cyprian said of this verse: “The flesh of Christ and the holy thing of the Lord cannot be cast out. The faithful have no home but the one church.” And: “The faith of the divine Scripture manifests that the church is not outside and that it cannot be rent in two or divided against itself, but that it holds the unity of an inseparable and invisible house. It is written concerning the rite of the Passover: “It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of its flesh outside the house.” St. Jerome likewise wrote, “All such efforts are only of use when they are made within the church’s pale. We must celebrate the Passover in the one house.” In other words, St. Jerome confirms the parallelism of the Passover as the Mass, and the one house as the Catholic Church.

The prefiguring shadow of the Eucharist inundated the Israelites throughout their wilderness wanderings. God was not subtle with His symbology. When the Israelites were hungry in the Sinai wilderness, God rained down bread from heaven for them to eat for forty years. When the Israelites saw it, they said, “What is it?” And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.” Later, the Israelites murmured against God and Moses saying “we loathe this worthless food.” In response, “the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.” If God punished such murmurings against perishable manna, how then can non-Catholics be allowed to partake in the new manna of the Holy Eucharist while deeming it “worthless food?”

In His Bread of Life discourse, the new Moses, Jesus, addressed directly a similar grumbling. He said: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever.” Some of the disciples murmured against the Eucharist saying, “This is a hard saying, who can listen to it?” Yet, Jesus did not soften His speech, rather He declared more forcefully: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Jesus forced the issue: “Do you take offense at this?” His disciples had to decide whether it was “worthless food” or not. There is no middle ground to the Real Presence. Many could not accept it, for after this “many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.” It is immediately following this episode too, perhaps not coincidentally, that Judas is revealed as Jesus’ betrayer. Indeed, the Real Presence is pivotal to the faith.

As Catholics receiving the Eucharist, we can answer the Israelites’ question from the desert, “what is it?” with rather another question, “who” is it? We can affirm, “It is our Jesus.” The psalmist wrote, “Man ate of the bread of the angels.” If this was just a shadowy wisp of the reality to come, how much holier is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in our new manna? How can the German bishops allow admittance to the Bread of Life by those who also deny it? As St. Paul addressed the gravity of this situation: “For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” Instead of catering to emotions and false-ecumenicalism, the German bishops should affirm the sacredness of the sacrament and invite them to a conversion of faith.

3Shares

Exodus 21- 24:

Laws and Regulations:
Yahweh begins to dictate His laws and regulations to the Israelites.  These are placing moral and ethical boundaries on behavior.  He limits retribution to “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” (Ex. 21:23-25)  This does not proscribe violence as many today commonly think, rather this places a limitation on violence.  Yahweh introduces the moral idea of proportionality.  Likewise, slaves are to be released upon the seventh year, “he shall be given his freedom without cost.” (Ex. 21:2)

Breaking the Ten Commandments deserves death:
What ensues is a list of proscriptions for dealing with people who break the law, which often times results in “must be put to death.”  Murderers are to be put to death.  Kidnappers “shall be put to death.”  Whoever strikes or curses his mother or father, “shall be put to death.” (Ex. 21:17)  “You shall not let a sorceress live.  Anyone who lies with an animal shall be put to death.  Whoever sacrifices to any god, except the Lord alone, shall be doomed.” (Ex. 22:17-19)  “Never mention the name of any other god; it shall not be heard from your lips.” (Ex. 23:13)  Like the Canaanite ritual, “you shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” (Ex. 23:19)

Keep the Feast Days:
Yahweh instructs the Israelites to keep the feast days, most probably Passover, Pentecost and Booths.  “Three times a year you shall celebrate a pilgrim feast to me. You shall keep the feast of Unleavened Bread.” (Ex. 23:14-15)

The Angel of the Lord:
The Angel of the Lord is Yahweh Himself, or in our New Testament Trinitarian understanding, more like God the Son in human form.  There is a purposeful blending of Yahweh and the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament, a sort of haziness and mysteriousness about who is Yahweh and who is His angel?  Are there two forms of Yahwehs, as Judaic second temple literature contemplated?  The intentional mysteriousness about the Angel of the Lord is a foreshadowing and the slow reveal of the three Persons of the Trinity.  It is the obscured reality in the Exodus that God is three Persons, but who are one.  Yahweh says, “See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. Be attentive to him and heed his voice.  Do not rebel against him, for he will not forgive your sin.  My authority resides in him.  If you heed his voice and carry out all I tell you, I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes.” (Ex. 23:20-22)  Who else but God can forgive sin?  Certainly not an angel.  Who carries the authority of Yahweh? Again, not an angel.  This is something, or more precise, someone, greater than an angel.  The angel is Yahweh, and Yahweh is the angel.  Yet, he is Yahweh, but somehow, mysteriously distinct from Yahweh. Yahweh is the angel in physical form, or most likely the second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ.  The words above presage the words of God the Father at the Transfiguration of Jesus: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Mt. 17:5)

The Warrior Angel of Yahweh and the Canaanites:
Just as the warrior Yahweh led the Israelites out of Egypt with signs and wonders and did battle with the Egyptians as a pillar of fire and cloud of smoke, so now too, the warrior Angel of Yahweh will do battle with the giant clans of the Canaanites to seize the Promised Land.  “My angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites; and I will wipe them out.  Therefore, you shall not bow down in worship before their gods, nor shall you make anything like them; rather, you must demolish them and smash their sacred pillars.” (Ex. 23:23-24)  Again, Yahweh, or the Angel of Yahweh, will do battle with His enemies and those who serve the demonic “gods.”

The Giant Clans and Descendants of the Nephilim Targeted for Destruction:
Just as Nephilim and their progeny were targeted for destruction in the Great Flood of Noah, so now too, their descendants who survived are targeted for destruction. The Canaanites and the giant clans, the descendants of the Nephilim, as seen back in Genesis 6:1-4, reside in the land of Canaan. They worship the fallen angels and devils through idolatry, and engage in cultic human sacrifice and orgies. Yahweh tells the Israelites they must be thoroughly wiped out and utterly destroyed.  The seed and the corruption of the Nephilim must be eradicated from the earth, and especially, from the Promised Land.  This is the only instance in the Bible where a group of people is targeted for total annihilation, a holy war.  The Hebrew word is kharam/kherem, or “devote to destruction.”  Wherever the bloodlines of the Nephilim and giant clans are found, they are to be eradicated. “I will have the fear of me precede you, so that I will throw into panic every nation you reach.  I will make all your enemies turn from you in flight, and ahead of you I will send hornets to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way.” (Ex. 27-28)  There is no clear cut answer in the commentaries whether the “hornets” are real, literal hornets (very probably), or figurative for the fear of Yahweh, or some other sort of plague or ailment, like leprosy.  In regards to the Canaanites: “You shall not make a covenant with them or their gods. They must not abide in your land, lest they make you sin against me by ensnaring you into worshiping their gods.” (Ex. 23:32-33)

The Ratification of the Covenant:
Then, Moses and “seventy of the elders of Israel” went up the mountain (Mt. Sinai) to worship Yahweh.  The number 70 is significant because it was 70 nations that were scattered amongst the earth at the Babel event, when God disinherited the nations.  God will now, through the Covenant with the one Jewish nation, “His portion,” begin to reclaim all the nations of the world, represented in the 70 nations scattered at Babel.  Through the seed of Abraham, all the world will be blessed.  The Israelites then offer holocausts and sacrifices of young bulls to Yahweh.  Then, “Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls; the other half he splashed on the altar.  Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people, who answered: ‘All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do.’  Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words of his.'” (Ex. 24:6-8) Then Moses and the seventy elders went up, “and they beheld the God of Israel.” (Ex. 24:10)  And finally, they have the sacred meal: “they beheld God, and ate and drank.” (Ex. 24:11)  Jesus later renews the New Covenant in His blood at the Last Supper, His own sacred meal of the Passover, transformed into the Catholic Mass.  As Jesus said at the Last Supper: “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Lk. 22:20)  The sprinkling of the blood of bulls of the Old Covenant is replaced with the blood of Jesus Christ in the New Covenant.  Moses then passed into the midst of the cloud on Mt. Sinai into the presence of God, and “there he stayed for forty days and forty nights.” (Ex. 24:18)

Exodus 20:

The Ten Commandments (“The Decalogue,” or deca logos – “the ten words”):
Yahweh makes sure everyone knows that the Ten Commandments do not come from Moses or any human.  He says: “And God spoke all these words, saying,

(1) “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous (“impassioned” is a better translation). God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousandsof those who love me and keep my commandments.”

(2) “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”

(3) Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work,but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.  For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

(4) “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

(5) “You shall not murder.”

(6) “You shall not commit adultery.”

(7) “You shall not steal.”

(8)  “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

(9)  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,” [you shall not cover your neighbor’s wife]

(10) “or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” [you shall not cover your neighbor’s goods]

The Ten Commandments are summed up with the words of Jesus, who quoted the Shema from Deuteronomy: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mk. 12:29-31)  The first three Commandments are for worshiping God, and the next seven Commandments are respecting your neighbor.  The Israelites greatly feared Yahweh as they witnessed Him in the “thunder and lightning, the trumpet blast and the mountain smoking,” and “so they took up a position much farther away.” (Ex. 20:18) Moses answers the people saying, “God has come to you only to test you and put His fear upon you, lest you should sin.”

Moses as Mediator:
The awestruck Israelites beg Moses to speak and mediate for them before Yahweh.  Following the theophany and the Ten Commandments, Moses is instructed in the “Covenant Code” of how to judge all matters related to Israel.  The Ten Commandments offer a general guideline for Israel to follow and established Moses as Yahweh’s regent and arbiter before the people.  Yahweh instructs Moses to make an altar of un-cut stones upon which “you shall sacrifice your holocausts and peace offerings, your sheep and oxen.” (Ex. 20:24)

De-Sexualizing Religion:
Yahweh also tells Moses that when he makes the altar “And you shall not go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness be not exposed on it.’” (Ex. 20:26)  In the ancient pagan religious cults, sacrifices to the “gods” were often times accompanied by sexual orgies and prostitution. Yahweh here is reiterating in no uncertain terms the de-sexualization of religion.

The Uniqueness of the Ten Commandments:
They are the only example of a covenantal relationship between a deity and an entire people.  The Commandments focus not only on the people’s relationship with their ruler, but morality is also intimately defined by their relationship toward their individual neighbor.  One cannot be moral and holy while treating their neighbor sinfully, thus raising the interpersonal and social moral obligations of each individual.  They are very simple rules and statements.  Not ambiguous or subjective.  They are simple, and absolute.  Yahweh gave the Commandments outside of Israel so as to be binding to all peoples, not just Israel or any one tribe.  They are binding for all peoples in all places and all times.  The Commandments are not relative, but absolute.  Each Commandment is directed to each person individually, addressing each person in Hebrew in the singular to emphasize the personal nature of the obligations.  Yahweh identifies Himself as the liberator of slaves.  And, what God demands in exchange for leading the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt is simply moral behavior.  The proper treatment of their fellow human beings is a foremost on God’s mind.  We are to love God first, but also to love God through loving our neighbor.

Other Insights into the Commandments:
(1) There are many false idols in today’s world.  It is not just a relic from ancient history when people bowed down to carved statues and other “gods.”  People obviously make idols out of many things today which they bow down to worship in effect, such as: money, sex, materialism, status in society, etc.

(2) Yahweh declares if anyone takes His name in vain that He will not them “hold guiltless” (Hebrew word y’nakeh), or in effect, if they sully God’s name then God will not cleanse their name.  One can think of Jesus’ statement about future persecution saying: “the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.” (John 16:2) Not only are they breaking the fifth commandment to not murder, but they are also taking the name of the Lord God in vain, and in the most perverse way imaginable, by murdering another person in the name of God.  One thinks of the murderous Islamic jihadis killing people in service to Allah while yelling Allahu akbar (“God is great”).

(3) Keeping the Sabbath “holy” is to keep it “separate” or “distinct” (Hebrew kadosh).  The Sabbath is to be set aside and separated from the rest of the work-week.  It is not only work that matters.  God matters too.  We are to honor God in our rest, just as He rested after the six days of creation.  A day of rest, a sacred time, is also when generally speaking family and friends come together.  The Sabbath highlights that man is made for more than just work, but for leisure. Leisure in a philosophical sense of resting one’s body and spirit, enjoying the world.  We partake in leisure of the Sabbath also by worshiping God (we go to Church!) and honoring the family.  The family is the domestic church, which produces and nourishes souls for eternal communion with their Creator.  The family also is Trinitarian in nature.  The love of the husband and wife produces a child, just as out of the love of the Father and the Son comes the Holy Spirit.  The parents are co-creators with God the Creator.  The Sabbath is like a weekly retreat from our lives to reflect on all that we have done.  The Sabbath, or going to church on Sunday, is like a weekly public announcement to the world that God created the world and we are going to honor Him.

(4) The father and mother are co-creators with God.  We honor parents because they gave us life.  Parents then form the building blocks of civilization through having children and establishing families.  Totalitarian regimes and ideologies often times try to tear down the family, so as to assert state or political control over individuals, such as what happened in communist Russia and China.  The building up of families bolsters society and civilization, while the tearing apart of families destroys society and civilization.  How many woes today in society, such as drugs and crime, are brought about by the dissolution of the family?

(5) The Fifth Commandment does not say do not kill, but do not “murder” (Hebrew word for murder is ratzach).  Do not murder innocent people.

(6) Obviously adultery is contradictory to the good of spousal and family life. It threatens the fabric of society and civilization.  It is an offense against the spouse, the family and community at large, and God.  Jesus often spoke of His relationship with the Church as a husband and wife marriage.  Yahweh in the Old Testament also speaks in spousal language between Israel and Himself bound in a Covenantal marriage.  To cheat on ones’ spouse is to mock the sacramental character of the marriage.  It makes a mockery of the sacred union between God and the Church, which marriage is an image of.  Husband and wife mirror Jesus and the Church.  To break the sacramental vow is to sin against the image of Jesus and His Bride.  Yahweh often times chastised the Jews as an unfaithful spouse when they slipped back into idolatry to worship other “gods.”

(7) In His prohibition against stealing, God is affirming the other Commandments.  Do not steal another person’s life, that’s murder.  Do not steal another person’s wife, that’s adultery.  Do not steal another person’s justice or reputation, that’s bearing false witness.  Do not steal another person’s belongings, that’s coveting.  Stealing human beings, such as in human trafficking, kidnapping, and slavery, is forbidden.  In the prohibition about stealing, and coveting your neighbor’s goods, Yahweh is declaring then that ownership and private property are good things. Private ownership is a good thing for people and society.  Tyrannical regimes (such as the Communists and Socialists have done) often times begin oppressing the people by stealing their land and private property. This is an offense against not stealing.

(8) Do not bear false witness means essentially do not lie.  Lying is strictly prohibited.  Jesus very harshly condemned lying saying it is in imitation of the Devil, for “When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)  Many of the great scandals and evils in history have been built upon lies, such as African slavery, Communism, Nazism, anti-Semitism, etc..

(9 & 10) Not coveting your neighbor’s spouse or your neighbor’s goods is prohibited because it leads to more sins, and worse sins, of murder, adultery, theft, lying, etc..  Lust in the heart, if not held in check, can lead to sinful actions.  Jesus knew this, and so, He further warned against even looking lustfully at a woman, “But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt. 5:28)  The Nine and Tenth Commandments are unique in that they legislate thought, not actions. Jesus reaffirmed this regulation of thought and heart.  We must keep our minds and hearts in check to not covet and to not lust.

The Ten Grumblings of the Israelites in the Wilderness, The Ten Commandments (“Statements”), Ten Utterances at Creation, and The Ten Plagues:
The pattern of ten goes throughout the Exodus. There were ten plagues on the Egyptians, ten grumblings or murmurings in the wilderness by the Israelites, and Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai.  These match the ten utterances of God in Genesis on the creation of the universe and the world. This bears witness that Exodus is in fact a type of second creation (or, third creation after Noah and the flood).

Exodus 16-19:

The Manna and the Quail:
From Elim, the Israelites set out into the desert of Sin.  Just as the Egyptians had suffered ten plagues sent from Yahweh, so now too, the Israelites will be tested by God with ten trials, the first of which was the bitter water at Marah.  The next test the Israelites suffer is hunger. They grumble to Moses that they are starving and have nothing to eat.  The Lord then said to Moses, “I will now rain down bread from heaven for you.  Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not.” (Ex. 16:4)  In the morning God promises to give them bread to eat and in the evening flesh to eat.  God says, “In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the Lord, am your God.” (Ex. 16:12) Here is a frequent pairing in Scripture of bread and meat. Moses later instructs Aaron to put some of the manna in the Ark of the Covenant with the Ten Commandments tablets. Jesus, who is the Eucharist, is carried in the new Ark of the Covenant, Mary.

Manna Foreshadows the Eucharist:
In John 6, Jesus references the manna in the desert as a sign of Himself in the Eucharist as the true bread from heaven.  This typology and foreshadowing of the Eucharist are obvious, and perhaps, the most striking of all the events of Exodus. The description of the manna even resembles that of a Communion host – white wafers.  Just as the Israelites live off the manna from heaven for their 40 years in the wilderness until they reach the promised land of Israel, so too, the Church lives off the body and blood of Christ in our earthly pilgrimage until we reached the promised land of heaven. “The Israelites ate this manna for forty years, until they came to settled land; they ate manna until they reached the borders of Canaan.” (Ex. 16:35)  God nursed the Israelite nation like a mother to a small child giving them food and water for forty years in the desert.  For forty years, He sought to break them of their slave mentality, and nurture them into a more mature faith and dependence upon Him.

Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse and the Eucharist:
“Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.” (John 6:32)  “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.  This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die.  I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh. The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”  So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;  he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.  He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.  As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.” (John 6:48-58)

Quail:
“In the evening quail came up and covered the camp. In the morning a dew lay all about the camp, and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.  On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, “What is this?” for they did not know what it was.  But Moses told them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. ” (Ex. 16:13-15)  Manna is a conjunction of the words what is this?  Again, the miracle of the manna and the quail link the bread and the flesh together as one miraculous event, in which Yahweh feeds and sustains His people.

Manna Regulations and the Sabbath:
Moses instructs the Israelites that they should gather “an omer for each person.”  Moses further tells them, “Let no one keep any of it over until tomorrow morning.” (Ex. 16:19)  This was part of God’s test of them.  Yahweh was providing for their “daily bread,” just as Jesus included this line in the Our Father prayer “Give us this day our daily bread.”  We are to trust that God will provide for our needs each day.  “Morning after morning they gathered it, till each had enough to eat; but when the sun grew hot, the manna melted away.” (Ex. 16:21) On the sixth day, Yahweh provides extra manna for the following day, the Sabbath, when they are instructed to not collect any food.  This demonstration shows that it is indeed a miraculous event.  The manna rains down from heaven for six days a week, but on the day before the Sabbath, extra manna comes down and does not “become rotten or wormy.”  On the Sabbath, the manna miraculously does not come down.  This is the beginning of God’s commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day by resting.  “On the seventh day everyone is to stay home and no one is to go out.” (Ex. 16:29)  The manna from heaven is linked to the Sabbath and the seventh day of creation when God rested. In the Eucharist that we receive on the new Sabbath, we become new creations in Christ.

The Water from the Rock at Horeb, and Jesus and the Holy Spirit:
Here again, the Israelites are tested, and murmur and grumble against Yahweh and Moses. “Give us water to drink.” (Ex. 17:2)  The Lord answers Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand the rod with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, that the people may drink.” (Ex. 17:5-6)  The water flowed out of the rock at Horeb.  This prefigures Jesus offering us the life-giving waters of the Holy Spirit. Again, in the gospel of John it reads: “On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and shouted, “If you are thirsty, come to me and drink! Have faith in me, and you will have life-giving water flowing from deep inside you, just as the Scriptures say.”  Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit, who would be given to everyone that had faith in him. The Spirit had not yet been given to anyone, since Jesus had not yet been given his full glory.” (John 7:37-39)  Jesus is the new Moses, providing not just water to quench our thirst, but the life-giving waters of eternal life.

Battle with Amalek and Moses’ Raised Hands:
Amalek came and waged war against Israel. (Ex. 17:8)  This is the fourth trial and crisis to befall the Israelites.  The Amalekites were another race of giants that existed here. Moses then commands Joshua to pick his best warriors to go engage the Amalekites in battle, and as long as Moses keeps his hands raised up, “Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight.” (Ex. 17:11)  As they rested Moses’ tired arms upon Aaron and Hur, his hands remained steady till sunset. “And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.” (Ex. 17:13)  The Lord instructs Moses to write down this victory over Amalek “as something to be remembered.” “I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under the heavens.” (Ex. 17:14)

The Israelites arrive at Mt. Sinai:
The most likely location of Mt. Sinai is probably Jabal al-Lawz (28° 39′ 15″ N, 35° 18′ 21″ E) in Northwest Saudi Arabia.  There are many fascinating similarities to Jabal al-Lawz and the scenes described in Exodus, not the least of which is the top of the mountain is blackened as if it has been exposed to extreme fire and heat.  Many other details found in the next few chapters of Exodus match archeological and geographic features of the Jabal al-Lawz mountain and vicinity.  There is a large split rock formation that seems to have had water flowing out of it as the wear on the rocks indicates.  There are pillars around the mountain, presumably demarking a distance the Israelites should stay away from the mountain when Yahweh is there.  There is an altar of stones at the base of the mountain with painted reliefs of a calf or cow worship. The local nomads refer to it as the mountain of Moses. The list of similarities and matching descriptions goes on and on.

Israel, God’s Special Possession, a Holy Nation:
Yahweh tells Moses, “Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (Ex. 19:5-6)  This is one of the most important lines in the Jewish Pentateuch.  God tells Moses and the Israelites, if, if they keep His covenant, then they will be God’s special people, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.  God is preparing them for a new Covenant.  A fulfillment of the old Abrahamic Covenant but now a deepening of it. God is drawing the Israelites out from the nations and separating them as a special, holy people to Himself alone.  Yahweh is drawing them into a new special relationship.  St. Peter draws on this same Exodus imagery and wording and applies it to Christian’s new creation in Christ.  He says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

The Great Theophany:
Yahweh tells Moses “I am coming to you in a dense cloud.” Tell the people to go sanctify themselves, “wash their garments and be ready for the third day; for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai before the eyes of all the people.” (Ex. 19: 10-11)  Yahweh will descend on the mountain on the “third day.” The mention the third day echoes the three days of Jesus in the tomb, and on the third day Christ rises from the dead. The people are to prepare and make themselves holy for three days in preparation, even to wash their very clothes. Yahweh tells them to “set limits for the people all around the mountain” and “take care not to go up the mountain, or even to touch its base. If anyone touches the mountain he must be put to death.” (Ex. 19:12) They are to be stones or killed with arrows.  Only when the ram’s horn resounds, can they go to the mountain.  Moses warns the people, “Be ready for the third day.” (Ex. 19:15)

The Terrifying Presence of Yahweh on Mt. Sinai:
“On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God; and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. And Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.  And the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the Lord to gaze and many of them perish.” (Ex. 19:16-21)  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  The Israelites were rightly terrified and afraid at the powerful presence of the Lord.  God came in a great display of power highlighting this seminal moment in the history of God’s people and the history of the world.

Exodus 12-15:

The Passover Ritual of the Sacrificed Lamb:
Yahweh prescribes the ritual for the Passover: on the tenth of the month of “Abib,” later known by the Babylonian name of “Nisan,” (this day, in the March-April timeframe, would now mark the beginning of the Jewish liturgical calendar) each family should procure a lamb, which “must be a year old male and without blemish.” (Ex. 12:5)  Yahweh is again instructing the Israelites to slaughter a god of the Egyptians, such as the ram-headed god Khnum.  This may have played a role in the Israelites overcoming a psychological barrier to their liberation.  By sacrificing one of the Egyptian gods (ie, a lamb), they psychologically prepared themselves to stand up against a collective 400 history of slave mentality. Each family should “take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb.  That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.” (Ex. 12:7-8)  The exodus covenant is sealed in blood.

Eat the Flesh of the Lamb:
“Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the Lord’s Passover. For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord.  The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” (Ex. 12:11-13)  The blood on the door is “a sign” for us, not God, to assure us that He will spare the Israelites despite the death happening all around them.  The Bible states five times that they must “eat” the flesh of the lamb. The Passover ritual would not be complete until they ate the flesh of the lamb.  So, it was not enough just to sacrifice the lamb, they also had to eat it entirely.  This is a foreshadowing of Christians eating the flesh of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Prefiguring Christ, the Lamb of God:
The year-old male lamb without blemish to be sacrificed has obvious typological significance: It prefigures the Christ as the unblemished Lamb of God sacrificed for our redemption, and the lamb eaten at the Passover meal anticipates our eating the flesh of Christ in the Eucharist.  Jesus celebrates and transforms the Passover ritual at the Last Supper, where the memorial meal becomes the new exodus from sin.  Just as the Passover had led to the freeing of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and from the bondage of Pharaoh, so too would Christ’s sacrifice free us from the bondage of the world and the devil’s slavery to sin.  The blood of the lamb was put on the doorpost as protection against the destroyer and death. So too, it is Jesus’ blood that covers us and protects us from evil and death.  Just as they ate the lamb, so too, do we eat the flesh of Christ in the sacrament of Communion.  Through Christ’s sacrifice of the Cross and the Eucharist, we passover from death into life in the new exodus to the eternal promised land.  St. Paul uses this same paschal imagery too: “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.” (1 Cor. 5:7)

Remembrance and Civilization Progress:
Yahweh tells them “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate..” (Ex. 12:14)  The idea of remembrance is a very important one in the Torah.  Thomas Cahill writes in his book The Gift of the Jewsthat the Jews were the first to break out of the cyclical worldview that dominated history, that is, nothing progresses scientifically, culturally, or morally.  The Jews were the first to break out of this cycle.  He writes, “The Jews were the first people to break out of this circle . . . It may be said with some justice that theirs is the only new idea that human beings had ever had.”

Feast of Unleavened Bread:
“Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. . ” (Ex. 12:15)  The unleavened bread (“matzah”) is a reminder of their hurried departure from Egypt.  The bitter herbs are meant to remind them of the bitter bondage of slavery they endured, and from which, Yahweh freed them.  Leaven is also symbolic of sins and evil influences that Israel must now remove from themselves.  This is why Jesus warns the Jews with the same paschal imagery, “Beware of the leavenof the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (Lk. 12:1)  Leavening is a process of fermentation of dough, which chemically breaks down and degrades the substance.  It is a form of decay and decomposition.  Symbolically, it represents sin and death.  The number seven echoes the seven days of creation, as the Israelites pass over in the exodus into a new world.  Yahweh is deadly serious that the Jews must observe the seven days of unleavened bread or they “shall be cut off from Israel.” The Feast of Unleavened Bread was intertwined with the Passover meal, just as the sacrifice of Christ became one with the bread of the Eucharist.  The unleavened bread clearly denotes the Blessed Sacrament, which Christ transformed into His very own Body and Blood.

Death of the First-Borns:
“Now it came about at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle.” (Ex. 12:29)  “There was not a house without its dead.” (v.30) This could also serve as a means of despoiling the Egyptians (who adhered to the firstborn primogeniture laws) of their priestly class and proper sacrifices. At last, Pharaoh and the Egyptians have finally had enough.  Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron, and demands them “Leave my people at once, you and the Israelites with you!” (Ex. 12:31)  The Lord also made the Egyptians well disposed to give the Israelites “whatever they asked for.”  (v.36)

The Departure from Egypt:
The Israelites had been in Egypt for 430 years.  “Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children.” (Ex. 12:37)  This was a crowd of mixed ancestry, so not just Jewish Israelites. There may well have been up to 1-2 million+ men, women and children total departing from Egypt.  The dough they brought out of Egypt was not leavened, so “they baked it into unleavened loaves.” (Ex. 12:39)

The Passover Regulations:
The Lord then lays down His regulations for partaking in it.  “No foreigner may partake of it.” “No transient alien or hired servant may partake of it.” Anyone who wishes to join in the observance of it “must first be circumcised, and then they may join in its observance just like the natives.” (Ex. 12:48)  This is no ordinary meal.  This is a covenantal ritual.  Only those circumcised into the covenantal relationship with Yahweh may partake of it and eat of the flesh of the lamb.  This is the same in our Catholic Church.  You must be baptized and initiated into the Catholic faith in order to partake of the Mass and holy Eucharist.  You must be brought into the sacramental Catholic fold in order to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Lamb of God.  It is not surprising then that Yahweh instructs them “you may not take any of its flesh outside the house.” (Ex. 12:46)  So too, we are not to offer the Eucharist outside the house of God or the Catholic community of believers.

Not Break Any Bones:
Next, Yahweh tells them, “You shall not break any of its bones.” (v.47) This, of course, is directly applicable to Christ on the Cross showing Him to be a prophetic type of paschal lamb.  St. John tells us: “but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.. . For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.” (Jn.19:36)  Contrary to typical Roman crucifixion practices of breaking the bones of the condemned (in order that they may die more quickly), the Roman soldiers do not break Jesus’ bones.

Paschal Lambs “Crucified”:
Later, sacrificial Paschal lambs were in a manner of speaking “crucified.” According to the Mishnah, at the time of the Temple, after killing the lamb, the Jews would pierce it with “thin smooth staves” of wood through the shoulders in order to hand and skin it.  In addition, a second skewer of wood was thrust “from its mouth to it buttocks.”  The two beams of wood then would form a cross shape, upon which the lamb was hung.  A second century Christian, St. Justin Martyr, describes the same thing.  He wrote: “For the lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of a cross.  For one spit is transfixed right through from the lower parts up to the head, and one across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb.” (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 40)  One can imagine the crucifixion of thousands of lambs across Jerusalem each year at the time of the Passover feast; thus, preparing the Jewish mind to accept the reality of the crucified Christ as the ultimate and final sacrifice.

Consecration of the Firstborns:
The Lord then instructs Moses to consecrate to Him “every first-born” of “both man and beast, for it belongs to me.” (Ex. 13:1)  This means to set apart for the service of divine worship.  The eldest sons and animals of Israel belong to Yahweh because He spared them in the tenth plague of His passing over Egypt.  The firstborn sons likely would be brought into sacred and priestly ministry, while the firstborn animals are kept for religious sacrifice.  Note: Later, in Num. 3:12 and 8:14-18, the Levites are chosen as substitutes for every firstborn son consecrated to God. The change occurs after the golden calf rebellion at Mt. Sinai.  The tribe of Levi ordained itself “for the service of the Lord” after the apostasy and idolatry of worshipping the golden calf.  Firstborn sons, thereafter, have to be redeemed or brought back into the liturgical ministry at the price of five shekels. (Num. 18:15-16)

Phylacteries:
The Lord tells Moses: “It shall be a sign on your hand and as a reminder on your forehead.” (Ex. 13:9)  This is what inspired the Jewish practice of wearing the small leather boxes containing Scripture verses, phylacteries or tefillin, to their left arm and forehead during prayer.  This is also described in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.  This was probably meant figuratively, although later generations took it literally as well.  The phylactery contains the Shema prayer (Deut. 6:4): “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”  The prayer, quoted by Jesus (Mk. 12:30), continues: “Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”  “Jesus later criticized the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees, who “do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.” (Mt. 23:5)

The Mark of the Beast:
It is interesting to note that in this monotheistic declaration in worship of Yahweh bound to their foreheads and hand, is later mocked and mimicked by the Antichrist with the mark of the beast.  The Book of Revelation reveals that anyone who “worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand . .” (Rev. 14:9)  The Holy Spirit seals us on our heads, and Satan, in his demonic counterfeit seals, and condemns, his followers with a mark on either their forehead or right hand.

Diversion into the Wilderness of the Sinai:
God could have led the Israelites directly into Canaan and the land where the Philistines dwelt.  However, “God did not lead them by way of the Philistines’ land, though this was the nearest; for He thought, should the people see that they would have to fight, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” (Ex. 13:17)  The Egyptians patrolled this area in north Sinai with a series of military forts.  So instead, God led them south from Ramses and Pithom to Succoth towards the desert along the way of the Red Sea.  Again, the Israelites are leaving not as slaves but as a conquering army. “In battle array the Israelites marched out of Egypt.” (v.18) They also brought Joseph’s bones along with them to bring back to Israel.

A Column of Cloud by Day and a Pillar of Fire by Night: 
“The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.” (Ex. 13:21)  The column of cloud and the pillar of fire never left its place in front of the people. Yahweh marches at the head of the Israelites.  It is God’s preternatural power and manifestation of His holy presence.  Isaiah wrote of it as  “He who put His Holy Spirit in the midst of them.” (Is. 63:11) St. Ambrose wrote the fire designated Jesus Christ and the cloud the Holy Spirit.  The cloud foreshadows Baptism and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, who cools our passions.  St. Paul in writing to the Corinthians said, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea;and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;” (1 Cor. 10:1-2)

Yahweh the Warrior:
Pharaoh remained obstinate and changed his mind exclaiming, “What have we done!”  With that, “Pharaoh’s whole army, his horses, chariots and charioteers, caught up with them as they lay encamped by the sea, at Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.” (Ex. 14:9)  Pharaoh came back for revenge and vengeance upon Moses and Israel.  Just then the Israelites look up and see the Egyptians, and become terrified.  They complain bitterly to Moses, “Far better for us to be the slaves of the Egyptians than to die in the desert.” (Ex. 14:12)  Moses answered them: “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” (v.13-14)  Yahweh is the divine warrior ready to fight for Israel.  Then, Yahweh does some defensive battle maneuvers to guard the rear. The angel of God, who had been leading the Israelites, now moved behind them.  This angel is the one who mediates and manifests God’s presence to the world. The column of cloud also left the front and went behind them.  Thus, they stood in between the Egyptian camp and the Israelites; blocking the Egyptians and protecting the Israelites.

The Miraculous Crossing of the Red Sea:
“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided.The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” (Ex. 14:21-22)  This is undoubtedly a miraculous event, and not simply a freak natural phenomenon.  It is perhaps the greatest miraculous event recorded in the Exodus and the Old Testament.  Yahweh is manifesting His divine power and delivering His people Israel with powerful miracles and wondrous signs.  The Israelites march through as with a “wall of water” to the left and to the right.  The Israelites passed through the water as on dry land.  Soon, the Pharaoh and the Egyptian army were in hot pursuit through the midst of the water.  The Lord cast “a glance” through the fiery cloud that threw the Egyptians into a “panic” and they “sounded the retreat.” (v.24)  “For the Lord was fighting for them against the Egyptians.”  Yahweh then tells Moses to stretch out his hand again over the sea, and “at dawn the sea flowed back to its normal depth.” (v.27) Pharaoh and the charioteers were caught in it and drowned.  “Not a single one of them escaped.” (v.28)  “Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses.” (Ex. 14:30-31) This is Yahweh’s mightiest act of deliverance for Israel and is frequently called as such in the Old Testament (Ps. 66:6; 106:9; Is. 51:10; 63:11-13)

Allegorical Baptism of the Red Sea:
The crossing of the waters of the Red Sea is a type of Baptism.  The people of God are brought out of bondage and slavery by being baptized in the waters of the Red Sea to free them from the oppressive Egyptians.  Similarly, Christians are Baptized in the sacramental water and made free of the stains of original sin.  We cross over into a new life in Christ.  St. Paul made the same allusions too: “and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” (1 Cor. 10:2)  The Egyptians were the stain of sin that the waters removed from the chosen people, Israel.  The waters of Baptism end the control of the devil in our lives and put to death our enmity with God.  We reemerge on the other side with a new faith and a new life.

Moses’ Hymn to the Lord as a Warrior:
Moses sings a song to Yahweh, a victory hymn honoring the Mighty Lord.  In verse 2, he says the Lord is my “savior;” in verse 3, “The Lord is a warrior.”  (Ex. 15:3)  In verse 13, “redeemer.”  Moses mocks the gods of Egypt again saying “Who is like to you among the gods, O Lord?” (v.11) Pharaoh and his charioteers “sank into the depths like a stone.” (v. 5) There are similar visions of the wicked sinking like stones in the sea (Jer. 51:63-64; Lk. 17:2).  This also is a foreshadowing of the future destruction of the antichrist’s kingdom of “Babylon.”  “A mighty angel picked up a stone like a huge millstone and threw it into the sea.” (Rev. 18:21)  The second half of the hymn is directed at future conquests over Canaan, the Philistines, Edom, and Moab.  Nations will tremble before the warpath of Yahweh.  The prophetess Miriam, Aaron’s sister, takes a tambourine and leads the women in dancing and praising God.  She represents a type of the Church, leading the faithful in songs of divine praise.

Bitter Water at Marah:
Moses then leads them from the Red Sea for three days through the desert without finding any water.  They arrive at Marah, where the people grumbled again (already) that the water was “bitter.” (Ex. 15:23)  The Exodus generation is infamous for their “murmuring” and “grumbling” against God and Moses.  Years later, Moses will look back at them as “a perverse and crooked generation.” (Deut. 32:5)  This, however, is the first of their crises, a lack of drinking water.  Each crisis highlights their precarious situation in the desert and their reliance on Yahweh’s providential care.  The Lord then pointed out to Moses a “certain piece of wood. When he threw this into the water, the water became fresh.” (Ex. 15:25)  The waters of Marah are made fresh by the wood.  Tertullian pointed out that this is a prefigurement of the wood of the Cross of Christ making holy and life-giving the waters of Baptism. (Tertullian, On Baptism, 9)

Oasis at Elim:
At long last, the Israelites come to Elim, “where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.” (Ex. 15:27)  This oasis had plenty of shade and water for the weary Israelites.  This location is still a dramatic oasis in the desert today with water and palm trees.

Exodus 7- 11:

Yahweh is Greater than Nature:
The God of Israel then confronts and conquers Pharaoh and Egypt, and all the gods of nature that the Egyptians worship.  God will get Pharaoh to release Israel by smiting Egypt with ten plagues.  One of the primary purposes of Genesis and Exodus is God disassociating Himself from nature, that He is outside of nature and greater than nature.  Man is no longer to worship nature or the things of nature.  God is outside of nature.  He existed before nature and the universe.  He is the very Creator of the whole cosmos, not confined to it.  Additionally, Yahweh is judging and showing His superiority to the pantheon of Egyptian deities. Yahweh is discrediting Egyptian polytheism.

Yahweh’s Plague Judgments of Egyptian Deities:
Yahweh is revealing Himself, His name, and seeks to, in effect, destroy the competition of idolatrous so-called deities through ten plagues. Speaking of the plagues on Egypt, the Book of Numbers says, “The Lord had also executed judgments on their gods.” (Num. 33:4) Similarly, the Book of Wisdom says, “For they went far astray on the paths of error, accepting as gods those animals that even their enemies despised; they were deceived like foolish infants. Therefore, as though to children who cannot reason, you sent your judgment to mock them.” (Wis. 12:24-25) The pseudepigraphical Book of Jubilees also highlights this point: And the Lord executed a great vengeance on them for Israel’s sake, and smote them through (the plagues of) blood and frogs, lice and dog-flies, and malignant boils breaking forth in blains; and their cattle by death; and by hail-stones, thereby He destroyed everything that grew for them; and by locusts which devoured the residue which had been left by the hail, and by darkness; and of the first-born of men and animals, and on all their idols the Lord took vengeance and burned them with fire.” (Jubilees 48:5) One can imagine the consternation and disbelief of Pharaoh and the Egyptians as their gods fail them in each successive plague:

 (1) First plague of Nile water turned into blood is against Hapi, god of the Nile and flooding, and Khnum, guardian of the Nile;

(2) Second plague of frogs is against the frog goddess Heket, depicted as a frog, who represented fertility and the flooding of the Nile;

(3) Third plague of gnats (or lice) is against the earth god, Geb/Seb;

(4) Fourth plague of flies and insects is against Uatchit, the god manifested as Ichneuman fly; and Kheper, god of beetles and flies;

(5) Fifth plague of diseased cattle is against Apis, the bull god, and Hathor, the cow goddess; and Amon, god associated with bulls;

(6) Sixth plague of boils and sores is against Shekhmet, the goddess of disease control, Imhotep, god of medicine, and Serapis, god of healing;

(7) Seventh plague of hail is against Nut, the goddess of the sky, and Shu, god of the atmosphere;

(8) Eighth plague of locusts is against Senehem, the god of pest control; Seth, protector of crops, and Isis, the goddess of life;

(9) Ninth plague of darkness is against Ra, Aten, Atum, and Horace, all gods of light and the sun; and Thoth, the moon god;

(10) Tenth plague of firstborns’ deaths is against Osiris, the god of life and patron of the so-called divine Pharaoh himself.

Other Symbolism:
Moses is now 80 years old. There are traditionally three 40-year divisions of Moses’ life.  Pharaoh’s royal headpiece featured a cobra representing the serpent goddess Wadjet. When the occultist magicians throw down their staffs they become serpents, representing Egyptian power. However, Moses’ wooden staff represents a sign of the Cross.  When Aaron throws it down before Pharaoh, it too became a serpent and swallowed up the serpent-rods of Pharaoh’s sorcerers.  This anticipates the “swallowing up” later of Pharaoh and the Egyptian army that chases the Israelites into the Red Sea.  And, later symbolism is reflected in the Cross of Christ swallowing up sin and death.  After the third plague of gnats, though “the magicians tried to bring forth gnats by their magic arts, they could not do so.” This is a turning point in the plagues.  The magicians finally confess that Yahweh’s power exceeds their own dark occult powers. They declare to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” (Ex. 8:15)  This finger of God is revealed in the third plague because it is the power of the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Trinity.

Moses as Mediator: 
Moses as mediator and intercessor is a constant theme throughout Exodus.  Moses pleads to Yahweh on behalf of the Egyptians and the Hebrews throughout Exodus. After the plague of frogs, Moses “cried to the Lord” to relieve the plague of frogs on the Egyptians. Moses as a type of Christ also foreshadows Christ as mediator and intercessor for his people.  Moses is depicted throughout Exodus praying efficaciously to Yahweh on behalf of his people, “and the Lord did as Moses had asked.” Jesus is the new Moses leading the new exodus to the promised land; just as Moses’ first miracle was changing the waters to blood, so too, Christ’s first miracle at Cana was changing the water to wine.

Three Cycles of the Plagues:
The plagues are grouped into three cycles of occurrences (ie, 1-3, 4-6, 7-9), with the tenth plague (10) as the climax.  In the first cycle of each plague (1, 4, 7th or blood, insects, and hail), Moses is instructed by God to go to Pharaoh “early in the morning” and wait for him, then issue the warning.  God is giving Pharaoh time to convert.  Before the second cycle of each plague (2, 5, 8th or frogs, pestilence, and locusts), God tells Moses to “go to Pharaoh” directly in his palace and forcefully confront him there.  In the third cycle of each plague (3, 6, 9th or gnats/lice, boils, and darkness), these are inflicted without any forewarning from God or Moses.  So, there are three cycles of plagues that go from a warning to confrontation to punishment without warning.  The three cycles also increase in severity and intensity from one cycle to the next. The three cycles of plagues climaxes with the worst plague of all, which is the 10th plague, the killing of all the first-borns.  The plagues also represent a reversal of the order of creation of life found Genesis 1: The Lord makes darkness prevail over light; waters become foul and unable to support life; He destroys plants, trees and fruits; He brings death to fish, frogs and cattle; and ultimately kills some human lives.  There is a play on words here too for Pharaoh to choose.  God tells Pharaoh to “send” His people, or He will “send” another plague upon him.

Apocalyptic Nature of the Plagues:
The apocalyptic prophet Joel wrote that, “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Joel 2:31) These are events depicting the end of the world.  However, the plagues of the Exodus foreshadow these events. The first plague is the Nile turning to blood, and the ninth plague is the three days of the sun turning to darkness.

The Three Days of Darkness:
The three days of darkness has long been in the apocalyptic mind.  Yahweh set a plague of three days of darkness over Egypt in order to set Israel free.  Jesus remained in the tomb for three days; as the light of the world died, the world remained in darkness for three days from Good Friday to Holy Saturday till the morning of Easter Sunday.  In the Book of Revelation, darkness also overtakes the sinful world of the antichrist, although three days is not specifically mentioned.  After the fourth trumpet, “a third of the sun, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars were struck, so that a third of them became dark.  The day lost its light for a third of the time, as did the night.” (Rev. 8:12) Similarly, after the fifth bowl is poured out on the antichrist’s kingdom, “Its kingdom was plunged into darkness.” (Rev. 16: 10)  Various mystics through the centuries have also prophesied about a three days of darkness shortly before the end of the world.

The Ten Plagues of Exodus and the Plagues of the End of the World:
There seem to be a lot of overlap and comparisons in the plagues against Pharaoh and the Egyptians in the Exodus and the plagues against the Antichrist and his kingdom, referred to as the trumpet blasts and bowls in the Book of Revelation. The judgment upon Pharaoh and the kingdom of Egypt is a type and forerunner to the judgment and punishment leveled against the antichrist and his followers.  The dramatic intervention in Exodus by God with miracles and wonders and judgment to extricate the chosen people from slavery under a tyrannical antichrist figure and bring them to the promised land is but an echo and foreshadowing of the dramatic events of the end of the world.  Here are the plague similarities between Exodus and the Book of Revelation:

1st Exodus plague, Nile’s Water turn to Blood:
Revelation 2nd Trumpet: “something like a large burning mountain was hurled into the sea.”  “A third of the sea turned to blood, a third of the creatures living in the sea died.” (Rev. 8:8-9)
Revelation 3rd Trumpet: “a large star burning like a torch fell from the sky.” “It fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water.”  And, “a third of all the water turned to wormwood.”(Rev. 8:10-11)
Revelation 2nd Bowl: “The sea turned to blood. . . every creature living in the sea died.” (Rev. 16:3)
Revelation 3rd Bowl: “on the rivers and springs of water.  These also turned to blood.” (Rev. 16:4)

2nd Exodus plague, Frog Infestation:
Revelation 6th Bowl: “I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast, and from the mouth of the false prophet. These were demonic spirits who performed signs.” (Rev. 16:13)  Just as Yahweh sent a plague upon Egypt of a frog infestation, so too, at the end of the world will the demonic frog spirits come forth from the Beast, antichrist and false prophet.  God condemns them just as He did the demonic frog deity Heket of Egypt, whose magicians also performed false “signs.”

3rd Exodus plague, Gnats/Lice: 
Revelation 1st Trumpet: “A third of the land was burned up, along with a third of the trees and all the grass.” (Rev. 8:7) The land is burned up in Revelation, similar to how Yahweh had Aaron “strike the dust of the earth” in order to turn it into gnats/lice.  In both plagues, the land of the earth and its inhabitants are stricken.

4th Exodus plague, Flies:
Revelation 5th Trumpet: “The sun and the air were darkened by the smoke from the passage.  Locusts came out of the smoke onto the land, and they were given the same power as scorpions of the earth.” (Rev. 9:2-3)  This does not equate exactly to “flies” but the idea of a swarm of flies darkening the air and other insects like locusts and scorpions are analogized.

5th Exodus plague, Death of Livestock:
1st Trumpet, again the land of the earth is struck killing lots of plants and animals.  This is the only equivalence to this plague.

6th Exodus plague, Festering Boils and Sores:
1st Bowl “Festering and ugly sores broke out on those who had the mark of the beast or worshiped its image.” (Rev. 16:2)
4th Bowl: the sun “was given power to burn people with fire.  People were burned by the scorching heat.” (Rev. 16:8)

7th Exodus plague, Fiery Hailstorm:
1st Trumpet, “there came hail and fire mixed with blood, which was hurled down to the earth.” (Rev. 8:7)
7th Bowl: “Large hailstones like huge weights came down from the sky on people, and they blasphemed God for the plague of hail because this plague was so severe.” (Rev. 16:21)

8th Exodus plague, Locusts:
5th Trumpet: “Locusts came out of the smoke onto the land, and they were given the same power as scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or any tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.” (Rev. 9:3-4) Just like the locusts of Exodus only affected the Egyptians and Pharaoh, and not the Hebrews, so too, the locust-demons of Revelation will only torment those who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads (i.e., Christians) and follow the antichrist.

9th Exodus plague, Three Days of Darkness:
4th Trumpet: “a third of the sun, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars were struck, so that a third of them became dark. The day lost its light for a third of the time, as did the night.” (Rev. 8:12)
5th Bowl: the Beast’s “kingdom was plunged into darkness, and the people bit their tongues in pain.” (Rev. 16:10)

10th Exodus plague, Death of Firstborns:
6th Trumpet: “a third of the human race was killed” by fire, smoke and sulfur. (Rev. 9:18)  “The rest of the human race, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, to give up the worship of demons and idols made from gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk.” (Rev. 9:20)  There is not an exact match for the killing of the firstborns, but a general plague killing a third of the human race.

Exodus and Revelation’s Parallels:
It is interesting too that Revelation calls “‘Egypt’ where indeed their Lord was crucified” referring to end-times Jerusalem. (Rev. 11:8) The parallels from Exodus’ plagues to Revelation’s end-of-the-world plagues are unmistakable: from the waters turning into blood and the life forms in them dying; to the infestation of demonic “frog” spirits; to the striking of the land and its creatures; to infestation of flies and demonic locusts; to festering boils and sores; to fierce fire and hail storms; to the three days of darkness; and to the mass killing of human life.  The plagues of Exodus are a sign and foreshadowing to the plagues of the end-of-the-world.  Just as the Hebrews were separated and singled out by Yahweh for special protection, so too, those Christians sealed with the Holy Spirit on their foreheads will be saved by God in the end.

The Seventh Trumpet:
The 7th Trumpet is never revealed, but St. John is told to “seal it up” till the proper time when the “mysterious plan of God” is revealed.  In the end, amid lightning, and rumbles of thunder, and earthquakes that will lay waste the entire earth, on the last day, as sin and suffering and death are, at last, vanquished and our eternal existence begins, God will say, in the same final words of Jesus on the Cross, “It is done.” (Rev.16:17)

Sacrifice, Idolatry and Abomination:
At one point after the plague of flies, Pharaoh agrees to permit Moses to go “in this land” to offer sacrifice to Yahweh. But Moses protests saying, “It is not right to do so, for the sacrifices we offer to the Lord, our God, are an abomination to the Egyptians.  If before their very eyes we offer sacrifices which are an abomination to them, will not the Egyptians stone us?” (Ex. 8:22)  Slaughtering flocks and herds of these animals was unthinkable to the Egyptians, who worshipped these animals’ representations as their gods, such as Apis and Mnevis the bull gods; Hathor the cow goddess, and Amun and Khnum the ram gods.  The Hebrews sacrifice the Egyptian gods as an offering to the one true and eternal God, Yahweh.  Hence, Moses insisted on offering the sacrifices to Yahweh at a three days journey into the wilderness.  Yahweh probably ordained the sacrifice as a means to disassociate the Hebrews from the idolatrous animal gods of the Egyptians.  For the Hebrews had been enslaved in Egypt for over 400 years and had become undoubtedly attached and tainted in some manner and form to the Egyptian idol worship.

Silver and Gold:
In fact, before the 10th plague, when the Lord knows Pharaoh will finally capitulate and release the Israelites, He tells Moses, “Instruct your people that every man is to ask his neighbor, and every woman her neighbor, for silver and gold articles and for clothing.” (Ex. 11:2) The Egyptians, after the ten plagues, were undoubtedly well disposed, to get rid of the Israelites with anything they sought.  Yahweh tells them they will be very agreeable to give them whatever they want at that point. The Israelites then leave Egypt finally, not as slaves poor and sullen, but as a conquering army, filled with “gold and silver” from their oppressors.  Unfortunately, that idolatrous religion from Egypt persisted with the Israelites.  Some time later, in the desert wilderness for 40 years, it will probably be this same “gold and silver” from the Egyptians that Aaron and the Israelites will meltdown into the “golden calf” to worship at the base of Mount Sinai. (Ex. 32:2-4)

The 10th Plague and the Killing of the Firstborn Sons:
Yahweh tells Moses that: “Every firstborn in this land shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh on the throne to the firstborn of the slave-girl at the handmill, as well as all the firstborn animals.” (Ex. 11:5)  This is probably an answer in-part to the bloodthirsty call by Pharaoh earlier to, “Throw into the river every boy that is born to the Hebrews.” (Ex. 1:22)  Just as the Hebrew slaves had been unable to protect their children, now the powerful Egyptians could do nothing to protect their children.  This echoes Yahweh’s earlier call to Moses and warning to Pharaoh: “Thus says the Lord: Israel is my son, my first-born. Hence I tell you: Let My son go, that he may serve me. If you refuse to let him go, I warn you, I will kill your son, your first-born.” (Ex. 4:22-23)  Israel is, in fact, the chosen nation and people that Yahweh will reveal Himself and His laws to the world.  Israel is Yahweh’s firstborn nation, and Jesus Christ born of the Jews will be God’s firstborn Son.  Again, the type and foreshadowing hold true; just as the Egyptians tried to kill the sons of the Hebrews and Moses, so too later, Herod will try to kill all the firstborn Jewish sons of Bethlehem and the baby Jesus.

Exodus 1-6:

Exodus Overview:
The book of Exodus is broken up into two halves: the first – the liberation of the Hebrews from Egypt; and the second – the establishment of the Covenant at Mount Sinai. The Israelites leave Egypt not as slaves or refugees but as a plundering army with gold and silver, dramatically attesting to the power of God’s deed. From there, they cross the Red Sea and enter into the slower drama of the wilderness experience in the Sinai Desert. There are four main themes associated with the book of Exodus: (1) Revelation (God reveals to Moses and Israel His name, YHWH); (2) Salvation (from Egypt and through the Sea and in the desert); (3) Covenant (the 10 Commandments at Mt. Sinai); and (4) Glory (YHWH comes to dwell with the Israelites in the Meeting Tent, Tabernacle and Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant.)

The Sons of Israel in Egypt:
Joseph and all his brothers eventually died, and “a new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt.” The Israelites were “fruitful and increased,” and “became so numerous and strong that the land was filled with them.” Jewish scholars have pointed out that “fruitful and increased” echoes the story of Creation when God told Adam and Eve to be “fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). This implies a type of “Second Creation” with the forming of the Jewish nation. God charged this specific group of people, the Israelites, with spreading monotheism to the whole world and a universal ethical and moral code. In short, they would make the one true God known to the world. The Jews would become God’s people who would prepare the way, and eventually, give birth to the Messiah.

The Midwives and the Hebrew Boys:
The Pharaoh and the Egyptians, however, grew fearful of them as a foreign people and a foreign bloodline in their country. So, set taskmasters over them, and “reduced them to cruel slavery.” “Thus they had to build for Pharaoh the supply cities of Pithom and Raamses.” The King of Egypt then orders the midwives working for the Hebrews “if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she may live.” (Ex. 1:16) “The midwives, however, feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt had ordered them, but let the boys live.” (Ex. 1:17) After the king confronted the midwives, the Pharaoh then orders all his subjects to: “Throw into the river every boy that is born to the Hebrews, but you may let all the girls life.” (Ex. 1:22)

The Slaughter of the Innocence:
This, of course, is a foreshadowing centuries later of King Herod’s decree to slaughter all the first-born males in Bethlehem, the slaughter of the innocence. Evil feeds off the blood of the most innocent, like the practice of infant sacrifice to Molech. King Herod was troubled by the Magi’s prediction of a male Savior born at the time, so in a jealous rage he tried to kill him, by killing all the young male babies. “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under..” (Mt. 2:16) Here too the Egyptians seek to snuff out the life of the Israelites by slaughtering all the newborn males. One source from the Midrash actually relates that Pharaoh was warned by his sorcerers and astrologers that a male savior of the Israelites was about to be born. This would explain why he sought to kill all the young male infants. This would be repeated again in the time of Jesus’ birth. Pharaoh was a type and forerunner to Herod, just as Moses was a type and forerunner to Jesus. Jesus is, in fact, the “new Moses.”

Water and the Birth of Moses:
Moses was born to ordinary Levi parents. However, “When she could hide him no longer, she took a papyrus basket, daubed it with bitumen and pitch, and putting the child in it, placed it among the reeds on the river bank.” (Ex. 2:3) Pharaoh’s daughter came down the Nile River bank and saw the basket among the reeds had her handmaid fetch it. She was “moved with pity” upon seeing the baby Hebrew boy, and decided to have one of the Hebrew women (his own mother) nurse him. Later, after “the child grew” Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him as her son, and called him Moses because “I drew him out of the water.” This is meant as a direct allusion to Noah’s Ark. The Hebrew word tevah is used for both Noah’s Ark and Moses’ wicker basket. Just as God had established a new world with the Flood and saving Noah from the waters in the Ark, YHWH would now establish another creation of the Jewish nation by pulling Moses from the waters. These are, of course, forerunners and a typology for Jesus, who makes us new creations through the waters of Baptism. The precursor creations of Noah and Moses give way to the truly new creation brought about by Jesus Christ the Messiah.

Moses Flight from Egypt:
After Moses had grown up, he witnessed an Egyptian striking a fellow Hebrew, and so, Moses slew him. Soon, the affair was known and Moses became afraid that Pharaoh would try to kill him. Moses fled to the land of Midian in the Arabian Peninsula. There, Moses is invited into the House of Jethro who has seven daughters. He marries his daughter Zipporah and have a son, Gershom.

The Burning Bush:
While tending his flock near the mountain of God, Mount Horeb, “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in fire flaming out of a bush.” (Ex. 3:2) “As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed. So Moses decided, ‘I must go over to look at this remarkable sight, and see why the bush is not burned.'” (Ex. 3:3) God called out to him from the bush “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.” God tells Moses He is the God of his father, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He has heard the cry of his people in affliction in Egypt. “Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey..”(Ex. 3:8) God then tells Moses that He is sending him to Pharaoh and to lead His people the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses responds, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?” God answers him, “I will be with you.”

I AM:
Then, Moses asks God if the Israelites ask him what is the name of God that sent him. “God replied, ‘I Am Who Am.’ Then He added: ‘This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.'” (Ex. 3:14) God tells Moses that His name is the verb “to be.” God is existence itself. God essence is being itself. “I Am Who Am” forms the letters YHWH, or with the Hebrew vowels, Yahweh. Yahweh is “Being,” “I Am,” or simply “Is.” The Hebrews considered the name of God too holy so subsequently through the Torah God is referred to simply as “Adonai” or “Lord.”

Jesus and I AM:
This is why Jesus’ proclamation centuries later that He is I AM is so shocking and the Jews were so scandalized. John chapter 8 has an incredible dialogue between Jesus and some of the Jewish hierarchy. They claim that Abraham is their ancestor and father. But, Jesus tells them: “‘Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.’ So the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him.” (John 8: 56-59) Jesus claims the name of God, and so, claims equality with God. Jesus and I AM are one.

Moses’ Mission:
Yahweh gives Moses his mission. “I am concerned about you and about the way you are being treated in Egypt; so I have decided to lead you up out of the misery of Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Ex. 3:17) Yahweh then tells Moses to assemble the elders of Israel and go to the Pharaoh to “permit us” to go three days journey into the desert to offer sacrifice to the Lord. God tells Moses beforehand that Pharaoh will not permit it but will force God to work “wondrous deeds.”

Moses’ Objections:
Moses objects to God, “suppose they will not believe me, nor listen to my plea?” God then changes Moses staff into a serpent. Then, He commanded Moses to take hold of the serpent, and when he did, it became his staff again. God then tests Moses again by turning his hand leprous, and back to normal again. Moses complains to the Lord again, “If you please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past, nor recently, nor now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and tongue.” (Ex. 4:10) The Lord losing patience with Moses commands him: “Go, then!” Yet, Moses persisted “If you please, Lord, send someone else!” Then the Lord became angry with Moses and said, ‘Have you not your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know that he is an eloquent speaker. . . He shall speak to the people for you.”

Moses’ Staff of God:
God commands him to take his shepherding staff with him by which Yahweh will work miracles. Moses remains a shepherd, but now he is the shepherd of the Israelites. This is also reminiscent of the humble David and his sling defeating the giant Goliath. Moses and his shepherd’s staff defeats the military might of Pharaoh and the Egyptian army.

God’s First-Born Son:
The Lord instructed Moses, “‘So you shall say to Pharaoh: ‘Thus says the Lord: Israel is my son, my first-born.'” Israel is God’s firstborn who He called out of Egypt. Israel is a foreshadowing again of Jesus, who is God’s firstborn and only Son. He too is also called out of Egypt.

Pharaoh’s Obduracy:
After Moses and Aaron make the request of Pharaoh to let the Israelites go for three days, even using the word “please” (“nah” in Hebrew) he refuses. Moses was essentially asking Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to offer animal sacrifices to Yahweh, but the Egyptians worshiped animals. The Israelites would in essence be sacrificing the gods of Egypt. Instead, Pharaoh tells the Hebrews, and their taskmasters and foreman, that they shall now have to gather their own straw and make the same amount of bricks for “They are lazy.” “Off to work, then!” Moses then bitterly complained to the Lord, “you have done nothing to rescue them.” (Ex. 5:23)

God’s Response:
Yahweh answers Moses, “I am the Lord. I will free you from the forced labor of the Egyptians and will deliver you from their slavery. I will rescue you by my outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as My own people, and you shall have Me as your God. You will know that I, the Lord, am your God when I free you from the labor of the Egyptians and bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your own possession – I, the Lord!” (Ex. 6:7-8)

The Four Promises and Four Cups:
These are the traditional verses why Jews drink four cups of wine at the Passover Seder. Each cup represents a divine promise: (1) “I will free you.. ” (2) “I will deliver you.. ” (3) “I will rescue/redeem you.. ” (4) “I will take you to be My people.. ” These are the same four cups of wine that Jesus and the Apostles celebrated at the Last Supper – the first Mass and Eucharist – and the next day at the crucifixion. Jesus frees us, delivers us, redeems us, and makes us His people. “And I will take you to be My people” is reminiscent of the ancient Jewish marriage contract (ketubah) in which a woman accepts a marriage proposal from a man and the man takes a wife. Israel and God are often shown metaphorically to be in a marriage relationship and covenant. This foreshadows the true Bridegroom and Bride, Jesus Christ and His Church. With Jesus’ Holy Communion and Crucifixion, He seals the marriage of Himself with His Church. Jesus and His followers are one, just as husband and wife become “one flesh.” The faithful of the Church are the bride to the Messianic groom Christ. In Heaven to come, as depicted in Revelation, the Church is at the “wedding feast of the Lamb.” The Bridegroom and Bride are united forever in the marriage of God and man.

Our Supersubstantial Bread – December 5, 2016

“Grant us this day our daily manna.” Dante, Purgatorio, Canto XI

The Lord has left us a mystery to contemplate. It is right there in the middle of the “Our Father” when Jesus teaches us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Mt. 6:11) This is generally recognized to mean pray for our basic daily necessities. (CCC 2837) This is true. Yet, hidden in the mundane and seemingly redundant word “daily” is the veiled, mysterious Greek word epiousios (επιούσιος). Epiousios is a unique word, sacramental-like in nature, a visible sign of a hidden reality. Epiousios occurs nowhere else in the Greek Bible except in the same Our Father passage in Luke 11:3 and the Apostle’s Didache. In fact, epiousios is not found anywhere else at all in Greek literature. The only recorded reference to epiousios, ever, is Jesus’ prayer.

As the early Church Father and master of the Greek language Origen (d. 254 AD) concludes, epiousios was “invented by the Evangelists.” The millennia have bore out his assertion that epiousios was a new word, a neologism of uncertain etymology. The usual Greek word for “daily,” hemera, is, after all, used elsewhere in the New Testament, but not in this instance. Why did St. Matthew and St. Luke feel compelled to create a new Greek word to accurately reflect the words of Jesus? They most likely had to use a new word to faithfully translate a novel idea or a unique Aramaic word that Jesus used in His prayer. What was Jesus’ new idea? Although there are multiple levels of meanings to epiousios, Jesus is making a clear allusion to the Eucharist. “Our daily bread” is one translation of a word that goes far above our basic needs for sustenance, and invokes our supernatural needs.

St. Jerome translated the Bible in the 4th century from the original Latin, Hebrew and Greek texts to form the Latin Vulgate Bible. When it came to the mysterious word epiousios, St. Jerome hedged his bets. In Luke 11:3, St. Jerome translated epiousios as “daily.” Yet, in Matthew 6:11, he translated epiousios as “supersubstantial.” The root words are: epi, meaning “above” or “super;” and ousia, meaning “being,” “essence,” or “substance.” When they are read together, we come to the possible translations of “super-substantial,” “above-essence,” or, in effect, “supernatural” bread. This translation as supersubstantial is still found today in the Douay-Rheims Bible. Taken literally, our supersubstantial bread is the Eucharist. (CCC 2837) In his commentary on St. Matthew’s gospel, St. Jerome states this directly: “We can also understand supersubstantial bread in another sense as bread that is above all substances and surpasses all creatures.”

St. Jerome also suggests that the Hebrew word for epiousios was the word maar meaning “for tomorrow,” invoking an eschatological interpretation of epiousios. In this sense, we are praying “this day” for our bread “for tomorrow,” or our future bread. We are petitioning God for tomorrow’s future bread today. Pope Benedict reflects on this “petition for an anticipation for the world to come, asking the Lord to give already ‘today’ the future bread, the bread of the new world – Himself.” This again has Eucharistic overtones, as the Catechism states, “the Eucharist that is already the foretaste of the kingdom to come.” (CCC 2837)

This eschatological interpretation is also borne out in the parable for the “coming day’s bread,” that Jesus teaches immediately following the Our Father. In Luke 11:5-8, Jesus tells the story of a man, who at “midnight” asks a friend to lend him three loaves of bread, as another friend of his has arrived from a journey and he has nothing to give him. As scholars have noted, there is the crucial matter of timing in this parable. In the morning the man can provide an abundance of food and bread for his guest, but at midnight he has nothing. This is an allusion to the fact that in the coming day of the Lord in heaven we will have a superabundance to meet our every need, both material and spiritual. But, as of yet, in this temporal life, a constant need remains.

Ours, like the man in the parable, is a matter of timing. We desire to have a measure of that superabundance now, and not just to meet our needs, but also to share with others. Thus, in praying today for tomorrow’s bread, we are praying to realize now, in time, a bit of the fulfillment of eternity. This is in line with the theme of “realized eschatology” that runs through the Our Father, in which we pray for “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Even now on earth, we share daily in the realized eschatology of the heavenly Mass.

In asking God for our daily, supernatural bread, we are also reminded of the manna from heaven that the Israelites supernaturally survived on in the desert for forty years. In the exodus, where there was no food or water in the desert, God miraculously rained down bread from heaven each day, both a supernatural and daily occurrence. In the morning dew, they gathered manna for their daily sustenance, and in the evening they ate the flesh of quail. As the psalmist says, “Man ate of the bread of the angels,” and “He rained flesh upon them like dust.” (Ps. 78:25; 27) The Israelites ate of the heavenly bread and flesh from the time they crossed the waters of the Red Sea (a foreshadowing of Baptism) until they reached the Promised Land (a foreshadowing of heaven). Then, as soon as they completed their journey, the heavenly manna ceased. (Joshua 5:12) Our daily manna is with us too from the time we enter into the Church until the time we cross over into eternity.

Jesus makes a direct connection of Himself to the manna from heaven, calling Himself the “Bread of Life.” The Jews, citing Moses and the manna from heaven, demanded a similar sign from Jesus. In response, Jesus tells them, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever.” (Jn. 6:51) Jesus is the new Moses, leading a new exodus, with a new heavenly manna. Like the Israelites’ manna, Jesus offers His bread and flesh for us to survive on for our journey. He tells them “he who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life.” (Jn. 6:54) Evidently Jesus wanted to make sure His scandalous words were not glossed over, because He repeated six times that those who eat His flesh and drink His blood have eternal life.

This theme of “eating and living forever” is mentioned in only one other place in the Bible – in the Garden of Eden with the Tree of Life. After the fall of man, God sent Adam and Eve out of paradise, lest he “take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.” (Gen. 3:22) However, now with the Incarnation of the God-man, Jesus, paradise is, at last, opened fully to humanity to “eat and live forever.” The Tree of Life, cut off to us by our sins, is now open to us through the tree of the Cross, and resurrection of Christ. The fruit of this tree is given to us sacramentally in His supernatural manna, the Holy Eucharist. It is our spiritual bread without which we cannot live.

Thus, Jesus is making a direct reference in the Our Father for our daily supernatural bread of the Eucharist. As Jesus instructs us in the beginning of the Bread of Life discourse to not work for “food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.” (Jn. 6:27) The theme of bread runs through the life of Christ, as visible signs pointing to a hidden reality. He is a priest-king, the order of Melchizadek, who offered bread and wine. He was born in Bethlehem, Hebrew for the “house of bread.” He performed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves to feed 5,000. He refers to Himself as the “Bread of Life,” the true manna from heaven. In the culmination of the Last Supper, the Passover feast and the feast of Unleavened Bread, He offered bread and wine as His Body and His Blood of the New Covenant. After His Resurrection, He revealed Himself to His disciples in the “breaking of the bread.” Jesus lives on with us sacramentally in the Holy Eucharist, under the guise of bread. In the final revelation He promises to give us “some of the hidden manna.” (Rev. 2:17) This is our food of salvation, our medicine of immortality, which gives eternal life. It is not surprising then that the disciples beseeched Jesus saying, “Lord, give us this bread always.” (Jn. 6:34) And, so it remains with us.

4Shares

Jesus and the Fulfillment of the Jewish Fall Feasts – October 18, 2016

“Spiritually we are all Semites.” Thus spoke Pope Pius XI on the eve of World War II, as Nazi Germany was about to launch its fateful war and Final Solution against the Jewish people. His words of solidarity are, of course, manifestly true. Christianity grew directly out of Judaism. Jesus was an observant Jew. The scriptures, the beliefs, and the rituals are all intertwined and interconnected between old and new. It is for this reason that St. Augustine can say, “the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New.” (CCC 129) Christian theologians refer to this biblical prefiguring and foreshadowing as typology. There is a unity in the divine plan linking the progressive stages of salvation history. The Old Testament, in its symbols and rituals, point to the Messiah, while the New Testament fulfills all of these in the person of Jesus Christ. In speaking of the law and the prophets, Jesus Himself said plainly, “I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Mt. 5:17)

This typology is evident in the Jewish memorial feast days. They are generally broken up into two seasons, the spring feasts and the fall feasts. They anticipated and foreshadowed Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, the Last Supper, the Eucharist, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. The feasts prepared Israel for the Incarnation. God obligated centuries of faithful observance of these feasts to place the seeds of understanding in the minds of Israel to prepare them to accept the Son of God when He finally was born into the world. While we as Christians no longer celebrate these Jewish feasts, they are still part of our common Judeo-Christian lineage. Jesus chose these major Jewish feasts to fulfill the central parts of His mission. As the catechism teaches, “His public ministry itself was patterned by His pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the great Jewish feasts.” (CCC 583) Jesus was formed by the feasts, and in fact, the central events of His life gave ultimate meaning to the feasts. (CCC 592)

The primary focus of the Jewish feasts was to prefigure the coming of Jesus. This is true of the fall feasts of Yom Kippur and Sukkot (Oct. 16-23rd this year). Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is primarily a prefiguring of Calvary. One of the most important aspects of Yom Kippur is the idea of the scapegoat. This is the one and only time of the year when the high priest would go behind the veil in the Holy of Holies in the Temple, dare to utter the name of God, the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, and offer the sacrifice of two goats. Upon one goat, the high priest placed his hands while confessing all the sins of Israel, symbolically conferring the sin to the goat. It was then sent off into the wilderness to die. The other goat was sacrificed, and the high priest sprinkled its blood upon the mercy seat in the Holy Holies. The high priest then came out and announced, “It is done.” This has clear similarities with the paschal lamb, and again, a foreshadowing of Christ and His last words from the Cross “It is finished.” (Jn. 19:30)

Calvary, of course, was sacramentalized in the Last Supper. The Mass became the feast of the new and eternal covenant. Just as the high priest entered the Temple and offered the sacrifice of goats, so too, does Christ enter the heavenly sanctuary and offer the sacrifice of Himself to the Father on behalf of our sins. The high priest of Yom Kippur is a ‘type’ of the true and eternal high priest of Christ in heaven. Christ Himself is both the high priest and the sacrifice. As the letter to the Hebrews states, “He entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” (Heb. 9:12) If God accepted Israel’s sacrifice of goats, as mere symbol of Christ’s sacrifice, how much more efficacious is the actual sacrifice of Jesus’ body and blood? The Day of Atonement finds its ultimate meaning in Calvary, and each Mass is the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement.

In this regard, Jewish tradition documents a miraculous event pertaining to Yom Kippur. In both the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds, they record that there was a scarlet cloth or strap tied to the scapegoat on Yom Kippur, as part of the sin offering. A thread from the crimson cloth was later tied to the Temple door. According to the Talmudic anecdote, every year when the goat was sacrificed, the thread would miraculously turn white, in recognition of God accepting their sin offering. One is reminded of Isaiah’s scripture “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” (Is. 1:18) Yet, as recorded in both Talmuds, this stopped happening some forty years before the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. This would have been about the time of Jesus’ crucifixion in 30 A.D. The scapegoat was no longer accepted in atonement for sin, but was superseded now by the sacrifice of Christ.

In contrast to Yom Kippur, the last fall feast is a little bit different. It is the joyous feast of Tabernacles, also known as the feast of Booths, or simply, Sukkot. Sukkot is the road map for the Church. It is ironic to call Sukkot a road map because it commemorates when the Israelites wandered seemingly aimlessly through the desert for forty years! But, their wanderings are representative of our wanderings as pilgrims on this earth. Just as the Israelites crossed the waters of the Red Sea and the evil Pharaoh was killed, so too, do we pass into new life through the waters of Baptism and sin is removed. Yet, the Israelites did not immediately make it to the Promised Land. Rather, they traveled in the desert wilderness for forty years with God leading them, who as “the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.” (Ex. 13:22) For forty years, God sustained them in the desert. Sukkot is a roadmap because it reveals God’s plan to sustain us.

It is in this intermediary period that we find ourselves today, as travelers in the desert wilderness of life. Sukkot reveals that we must stay close to God, and be fed with the supernatural manna from heaven, and the water of the rock. The Israelites ate manna from heaven each day. As Moses said of the manna on the morning dew, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.” (Ex. 16:15) This immediately reminds us of Jesus’ discourse on the Bread of Life. The Pharisees demanded a sign from Jesus, citing the miraculous manna from heaven story, but He answered them saying, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” (Jn. 6:35) Jesus reveals that He is the new manna from heaven, the Eucharist, which sustains us until we reach the eternal Promised Land.

God also quenched the thirst of the Israelites with the water from the rock. Sukkot commemorates Moses striking the rock in the desert and water coming out for the Israelites to drink. St. Paul tells us this rock and water was Christ. He says, “For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” (1 Cor. 10:4) In the time of the Temple, the priests would make a procession to the Pool of Siloam and draw water out with a golden pitcher. The high priest would then pour the water out on the altar in the Temple while reciting the verse from Isaiah, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Is. 12:3) This was to celebrate the days of the Messiah when the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all of Israel.

It was at the climax of the feast of Booths, on the eighth day, Shemini Atzeret, that scripture declares, “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” (Jn. 7:37-38) Jesus is telling them that He is the living water that is symbolized in this Temple ceremony. The living water is the Holy Spirit, and the sanctifying grace in faith and the sacraments, particularly the waters of Baptism. This is also reminiscent of Jesus’ discussion with the Samaritan woman at the well. He tells her, “the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn. 4:14) The Holy Spirit and the sacraments are the fulfillment of the water ceremony in the feast of Booths. This is our spiritual water from the rock, to sustain us in this age of the Church, from Christ’s first coming to His second coming.

Sukkot also has a deeper eschatological meaning to it. During the exodus, the Israelites had no permanent abodes. So, during Sukkot, the Jews commemorated this by building temporary “booths” or “huts” outside their house, and covering them with leafy branches or palms. The roofs were not supposed to be perfect but have openings, so they could view the stars at night. This again is allegory to us. Our lives are also imperfect, but in much the same way, we can look up to heaven and yearn for our permanent home with God. Scripture reminds us that we are “strangers and exiles on the earth… seeking a homeland.” (Heb. 11:13-14) It is perhaps fitting, then, that Jesus likely chose the feast of Booths to reveal His glory to the Apostles in His Transfiguration. (see Mt. 17:4) The Transfiguration gives us a glimpse and hope of the glory of God to come.

Thus, the Jewish feasts were a foreshadowing of Christ, and Christ fulfilled them with His life. They point to eternal truths of God and the Incarnation. The signs and symbols of the feasts were fulfilled in reality with the coming of Jesus the Messiah and the foundation of His Church. We no longer anticipate the coming of the final sacrifice in the paschal lamb or the scapegoat or the pouring out of water in the Temple. The Temple itself is no longer necessary, because we ourselves have become the temple of God. The Jewish feasts have been superseded by the sacramental reality. However, the feasts are still metaphorical roadmaps for us. We are to survive on the food God provides in the Eucharist and the water God provides with the Holy Spirit and the sacraments. We continue to learn the faith now through the celebration of the Catholic liturgical calendar, with its sets of feasts, and festivals and fasts. The primordial feast remains the Sabbath, or to Christians, the Lord’s Day, Sunday. It is the day set aside each week for rest and worship offered to God. The Mass is the foundational liturgical celebration of the Church. It anticipates the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb. This is our manna from heaven and our life giving water. Indeed, if but we believe, the sacramental life of the Church will sustain us, through our temporary wandering in this desert wilderness, to eternal life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0Shares