My notes on Vaeira

Parashat Vaeira (Exodus 6:2-9:35)

Exodus 6 (continued)

6:23          And Aaron took him Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Naashon, to wife; and she bare him Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.

Comment: The Bible talks about many families and relatives serving in Gd’s big plan. Relatives may have more natural communications with each other, which can facilitate their cooperation.

Aaron: He is well known to be the first high priest of the Israelites (Exodus 28:4). He can also be regarded as the leader of the tribe of Levi (Numbers 17:3). His brother Moses is a prophet, so is his sister Miriam. His descendants will carry on the profession of priesthood in Israel (Exodus 29:29).

Naashon: Aaron’s brother in law. He is the leader of the Tribe of Judah (Numbers 7:11-12), one of the most important tribes in Israel. He is an ancestor of King David (Ruth 4:20-22).

Elisheba: Naashon’s sister and Aaron’s wife. A mother of priests in Israel. 

 “Elisheba” אלישבע is the original form of many common English names, including “Elizabeth”, “Beth”, “Liza”, etc. The meaning of “Elisheba” is not certain, mainly due to its second half.  The first part “Eli” clearly means my Gd. For the second part “Sheba”: most commonly it means sheva or seven, but it would be hard to understand why “my Gd” would be “seven”. Sheva may also be related to shevua (oath), but it is also not clear to me what it would mean by “my Gd” is an “oath”. Since the Bible originally does not show vowels and Hebrew letters originally do not differentiate between sh and s, I suspect that originally the name was “EliSavea”,  meaning “my Gd” is “satisfied” (savea).


Exodus 7

7:24          And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river.

Comment: The water in the river was turned into blood. Although blood contains 90% water, Egyptians did not drink blood as a substitute of water. This may be because as descendants of Noah, they were still careful to try to avoid drinking blood, which symbolizes life (see Genesis 9:4: “But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.”). The Bible didn’t tell whether the Egyptians succeeded in finding underground water. If they did, then this would be a special mercy from Gd that helped them avoid the need to drink blood. (However, I suppose in life-threatening situations one is obligated to drink blood to save life. See


Exodus 8

8:7          And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt.

Comment: The magicians only made things worse by bringing up more frogs. 


8:8          Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat the LORD, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the LORD.

Comment: From here we can infer that the magicians were incapable of removing the frogs.


8:18          And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast.

Comment: In this plague, dust was turned into lice. Lice are lives, dust is lifeless.  The magicians couldn’t create lives from the dust, unlike the true Creator Who could. This plague of lice demonstrates that the LRD is the creator of life and the master of life. The magicians had to acknowledge in the next verse: “This is the finger of Gd”! 


Exodus 9

9:4          And the LORD shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children’s of Israel.

Comment: “sever between”: Gd makes a perfect distinction so that nothing dies among the cattle of the Israelites. Possibly, this is to emphasize that the prevalence of deaths among the  Egyptian cattle is not a “natural phenomenon”. Ultimately, all deaths and lives are in the hands of Gd, even those that are superficially due to “natural reasons”.