Most people may know that the Passover holyday recalls Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. But did you know though that amazingly, one incident came close to jeopardizing the whole enterprise?
Just before Moses and Aaron confront Pharaoh, God threatens Moses for neglecting to circumcise his son. Had Moses’ wife, Tziporah, not intervened, God would have terminated Moses’ career. (Exodus 4:24-26) What is going on?
We get a clue from the language used in and around this event:
…the Lord met him (Moses)
… (Aaron) go into the desert to meet Moses…
While there are a number of Hebrew words throughout the Bible that translate in English as, “meet,” the specific root word used here is P-G-SH. One of the tools for understanding Scripture is to note when a Hebrew word is rarely used. In those cases, we should look for similarities in the unusual appearances. P-G-SH appears only four times in the Five Books of Moses. We see it twice in our instance in Exodus and twice while Jacob is on his way to meet his brother Esau.
…when Esau my brother meets you…
…what did you intend by that whole camp that I met…
Thus the word P-G-SH (meet) appears in only two stories in the Torah, both of which involve a man (Jacob/Moses) on a mission, traveling with his entire family, leaving his father-in-law (Lavan/Yitro). In the midst of the journey, each man encounters a Divine being who presents a mortal threat. (In Jacob’s case, he meets the angel with whom he wrestles, Genesis 32:25-33)
Ancient Jewish wisdom tells us that Jacob did not leave Lavan’s house as promptly as he should have, to some degree from fear at confronting the terrifying Esau. Similarly, Moses, on his way to confront a frightening Pharaoh, made an unnecessary stop at a hotel. (Exodus 4:24) Even though God had promised His protection, both men delayed approaching their destiny partially out of fear of a scary personality. In each case, they end up in a life-threatening situation. The lesson to us is clear: Despite our fears, avoiding our life purpose and destiny is more dangerous than meeting it head on.
You or I may not be on the level of Jacob or Moses. God may speak to us more subtly and our missions may be on a smaller scale. Yet each and every one of us has a purpose in life, the reason for which God put us on this earth. Invariably, we face formidable challenges on our road to accomplishment. Intimidating people often stand in our way, telling us we are foolish for following our path or even threatening us if we continue to move forward. The instances with Jacob and Moses remind us that when we have a mission to do, we should unhesitatingly race past all obstacles to do it. Like all else in Scripture, the details of the stories and the specific words used serve as blueprints for enhancing our lives, encouraging us to courageously meet our own destinies.
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