"They will chop down her forest, declares the LORD, dense though it be. They are more numerous than locusts, they cannot be counted. " - Jeremiah 46:23
The Torah portion for this week is Bo, which means "come," from Exodus 10:1-13:16, and the Haftorah is from Jeremiah 46:13-28.
In this week's Haftorah reading, once again we are told about the pending destruction of Egypt. In the Torah reading, Moses warned Pharaoh about the 10 plagues; in the Haftorah, we read about Jeremiah warning another Pharaoh. The times have changed but the story is the same. Would Egypt ever learn?
In describing the destruction that would come to Egypt, God said, "They will chop down her forest," declares the LORD, "dense though it be. They are more numerous than locusts . . ." In describing the enemies about to conquer Egypt, God compared them to locusts. This wasn't by accident. This is a direct reference to one of the 10 plagues that hit Egypt in Moses' time. By making this connection, God was telling Egypt that they should have learned from their past. But they didn't.
After the monumental and miraculous destruction of Egypt brought about in Moses' time, you would think that Egypt had learned its lesson and would never touch Israel again. Yet, we read in 1 Kings 14:25-26 that just after King Solomon's death, Shishak, king of Egypt, ransacked Jerusalem and even audaciously stole all Solomon's gold shields. Later on in 2 Kings 23:29-30, the Egyptian Pharaoh Neco killed the righteous king of Judah, Josiah. Numerous times throughout biblical history Egypt violated Israel's trust and either attacked or betrayed her.
In this week's Haftorah, God was basically saying enough is enough. The time for judgment had come.
Today, we have to ask the same question: Will Israel's enemies ever learn? Throughout history God has punished those who oppress Israel. Why do nations continue to provoke Him?
In Genesis 12:3, God says, "whoever curses you I will curse." As God said, it will be. Take a look at Joel 3:1-2, "In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land." God has restored the Jewish people to Judah. The nations have already divided up the land. The only thing left is judgment. As two parts of the prophecy have already come true, we must have faith that the rest will be fulfilled in due time. Enemies of Israel, take note!
However, Genesis 12:3 also teaches us that "I will bless those who bless you." God will bless those who bless Israel. It's time to take a stand. Speak up for Israel. Stand up for Israel. Bless Israel today, and may God bless you in return.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President