Prophet Jeremiah
Fresco of prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel.

Haftarah for Bo

Jeremiah taunts the Egyptians.

Commentary on Parashat Bo, Exodus 10:1 - 13:16

In the Haftarah for Parashat Bo we read a part of Jeremiah’s prophecies against Egypt. Jeremiah foretells an attack on Egypt by Nebuchadezzar, King of Babylonia. Though Egypt is mighty, Jeremiah is confident that the Egyptian Pharaoh will be overpowered by the Babylonians.

Jeremiah taunts the Egyptians, reminding them that their gods would not withstand the power of the one true God. After the Egyptians flee from the Babylonians, Jeremiah promises, they will call their own Pharaoh “Braggart Who Let the Hour Go By” (46:17).

Egypt Will Return to Glory, Israel is Consoled

In the last three verses of the haftarah Jeremiah is less condemnatory, and in fact says that though Egypt, is soon to be destroyed, “afterward she shall be inhabited again as in former days” (46:26).

Then Jeremiah turns to Israel and delivers a short message of consolation. Even though Israel will be exiled, they will be redeemed, and God will deliver them back to their land. The nations around Israel will be destroyed for their bad deeds, but God says, “I will not leave you unpunished, but I will chastise in measure” (46:28).

Connection to Parashat Bo

In the Torah portion for this week we read about the final three plagues that God inflicts on the Egyptians before the Exodus: locusts, darkness, and the plague of the firstborn. Similarly, the haftarah describes the Egyptians being punished and falling before their enemies. Israel’s promise of redemption from Jeremiah is much like the promise that they received from Moses. But in Exodus, as in Jeremiah, the Israelites do not escape punishment: suffering from lack of food, water and faith as they travel through the desert to the Promised Land.

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