Making You God to Pharaoh

One of the least understood lines in the Torah comes from this week’s portion. God tells Moses “I place you in the role of God to Pharaoh, with your brother Aaron as your prophet.”[1] A person can be God to another?! What sense does that make?

          Of course, the term אלהים does not need to mean God; it can mean judge. It can also mean in the role of God, for through Moses will God perform the 10 plagues. The point here is that Pharaoh, who thought he himself is God, is going to be disproven by a mere mortal bringing plagues which wreak havoc upon Egypt. He will show Pharaoh that there is only one true God and what that God says goes. It will be a humbling lesson for Pharaoh to learn, and he never seems to learn it.

          The greatness of Judaism is that there is no such thing as absolute monarchy; rather, every person has equal rights. We do not answer to another master, only to God. While there was slavery in the Bible for those who ran into financial trouble, it was far from the ideal system with the goal being for each slave to become free. Moses illustrates that it is unacceptable for Pharaoh to impose corvee labor.

          In life we sometimes find that people are there to serve in the role of “judge” to us, or if you prefer as God’s messengers, helping us see the error of our ways and when we need to change course. May we not castigate those individuals but rather thank them for the important role they play in helping us make changes to become the best versions of ourselves.


[1] Exodus 7:1

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