8.7. “Marvels” for Persuading Pharaoh (7:8-13)

(8) The Lord said to Moses and Aaron,

(9) “When Pharaoh speaks to you and says, ‘Produce your marvel,’ you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and cast it down before Pharaoh.’ It shall turn into a serpent.”

(10) So Moses and Aaron came before Pharaoh and did just as the Lord had commanded: Aaron cast down his rod in the presence of Pharaoh and his courtiers, and it turned into a serpent.

(11) Then Pharaoh, for his part, summoned the wise men and the sorcerers; and the Egyptian magicians, in turn, did the same with their spells;

(12) each cast down his rod, and they turned into serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed their rods.

(13) Yet Pharaoh’s heart stiffened and he did not heed them, as the Lord had said.

(8) The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: Moses and Aaron receive God’s instructions as one. So far as their inner qualities are concerned, Moses and Aaron are equals.

(9) When Pharaoh speaks to you and says, “Produce your marvel,” you shall say to Aaron, “Take your rod and cast it down before Pharaoh.” It shall turn into a serpent: But to Pharaoh and the Egyptians it must appear that of the two, Moses is primary, and Aaron only follows his lead.

(10) So Moses and Aaron came before Pharaoh and did just as the Lord had commanded: Aaron cast down his rod in the presence of Pharaoh and his courtiers, and it turned into a serpent: This marvel, which was earlier intended to convince the Jews, is now directed to Pharaoh.

(11) Then Pharaoh, for his part, summoned the wise men and the sorcerers; and the Egyptian magicians, in turn, did the same with their spells: Unlike the Jews, who believed this sign when Moses performed it, Pharaoh is more skeptical.

(12) Each cast down his rod, and they turned into serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed their rods: So far, the contest is happening at the level of magic, and Aaron demonstrates greater skill in those arts than do Pharaoh’s magicians.

(13) Yet Pharaoh’s heart stiffened and he did not heed them, as the Lord had said: Pharaoh’s heart is stiff, which means that he is not motivated by fear and is able to think rationally. Pharaoh therefore makes a carefully measured decision: Expertise in magic, however exceptional, is not a basis for determining sound political action.

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Bible Dynamics, VOL. 2. EXODUS Copyright © by Orot Yerushalaim / P. Polonsky / English translation of the Torah by the Jewish Publication Society, New JPS Translation, 1985. With sincere gratitude for the permission to use. All Rights Reserved.

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