Project Genesis

Teaching the Egyptians About G-d

Question: In Exodus 14:4 it says “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and he will come after them. I will triumph over Pharaoh and his entire army, and Egypt will know that I am God.’” Why would God want to show the Egyptians that he was the only God?

Answer: G-d wanted to show the world, not just the Egyptians, that He was the only true G-d. The Egyptians worshiped many G-d’s, and Pharoah himself thought that he was the G-d of the Nile River. The ten plagues and everything that surrounded that time period was a message to the world about the power of G-d. The Jews were strengthened and the Egyptians were terrified. The Jews were empowered and the world became aware of the power of the One, True G-d. The Jews were slaves, so there needed to be something drastic to change their mentality and make them realize that there was hope. The interaction of G-d in the world at that time helped to accomplish that.

Be Well,
Rabbi Litt

1 Follow-up »

  1. The questioner asked why G-d would want to show the Egyptians that He is G-d. The question was never addressed. If I may elaborate, if G-d is All that He is, why would He have a need or care what the Egyptians think? Why would G-d want?

    Whenever we speak in human terms about G-d, we are always working within our limitations – trying to find a way to describe the indescribable. In this case, maybe more accurate than saying that G-d “wants” would be to say that G-d has goals. The Ramchal in Derech Hashem explains: G-d has no needs or lacking; rather, his goal in creating this world was to create a community capable of receiving the good he would bestow. First Abraham, then Israel, become the basis for that community.

    But more: G-d’s ultimate goal is that the whole world should develop into a community capable of receiving goodness. Israel, a “kingdom of priests, a holy nation”, is “special among the nations” – by turning to G-d, by understanding his kingship, other nations can also grow close to Israel and thereby receive G-d’s goodness too. We say this hope every day in the Aleinu prayer; see the whole last half of the prayer. “(You will) fix the world under the kingship of G-d, and all humanity will call in your name…that to you every knee will bend and every tongue will swear…on that day will G-d be one and his name one.”

    Best wishes,
    Michoel Reach

    Comment by ATR — February 5, 2007 @ 10:59 am

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