Va’era—Fear

“Whoever feared the Lords word among Pharaoh’s servants sheltered his slaves and livestock indoors.”  (Ex. 9:20)

Very often, when the Bible speaks of the fear of the Lord or the attribute of being God-fearing it is talking about awe or piety.  But here, as Alter points out, “the idiom has been stripped down to its literal meaning: whoever was struck with terror by the grim threat of gods took the necessary steps to protect his slaves and livestock.”  The fact that some Egyptian officials are now genuinely terrified by Moses’ dire predictions is an indication that the Pharaonic front is beginning to crack.

Pharaoh himself, in the aftermath of this plague, admits that he has offended “this time” (Ex. 9:27).  But not the other times?  This suggests that he does not really regret his actions, but merely their consequences.  Moses replies, “As for you and your servants I know that you still do not fear the Lord God” (Ex. 9:30).”  And he’s right.

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