Our Sages explain the hardships of the children of Israel under heavy bondage in Egypt as a learning and purifying process prior to standing before the Divine Presence. We have said many times that evil and negativity are just references for our free will to make the positive choices that bring us goodness, prosperity and true fulfillment and happiness. The only way to make positive choices is to have an absolute knowledge of what are their opposites. By absolute we mean a thorough and complete awareness of what we must avoid in order to pursue our destiny as individuals and as humankind.
This approach is the opposite of a partial or relative knowledge of evil and negativity, which justifies them as a “natural” part of our consciousness. The bondage in Egypt was the overwhelming and unbearable immersion in the materialistic approach to life under which ego (Pharaoh) is the god that dominates all levels of consciousness. When our attachment to ego’s fantasies and illusions becomes unbearable, for they are devoid of true meaning and fulfillment, we can finally recognize, value and cherish Love’s ways and attributes.
The harsh suffering of living under a meaningless and futile life is the darkness from where we seek the Light. God’s will is our total happiness and fulfillment as it was originally meant in the Garden of Eden, and we are destined to return there by making positive choices, though this is entirely up to us.
Thus we understand the learning process mentioned above when the Creator answers Moses’ complaint about Israel’s hardships in Egypt: “(…) and He said to him, ‘I am the Lord’.” (Exodus 6:2), because He determines the way we stand before Him. We have to reiterate that He gave us free will to either choose His ways or not. We as His People are destined to choose as He commands us and, in full awareness of our Covenant with Him, we choose His ways and attributes. These our Patriarchs saw in their relationship with Him: “I appeared to [lit. was seen over] Abraham, to [over] Isaac, and to [over] Jacob (…)” (6:3).
In the process of learning from the bondage to ego’s materialistic illusions we ultimately realize that Love’s ways and attributes are our true freedom, out of God’s Love: “And I will take you to Me as a people, and I will be a God to you, and you will know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” (6:7).
As we mentioned in other commentaries on the book of Exodus, Moses represents our highest knowledge of the Creator and Aaron the highest awareness of our connection to Him. These two qualities are the premises to relate to Him: “That is Aaron and Moses, to whom the Lord said, ‘Take the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt with their legions’.” (6:26).
Both Moses and Aaron represent the qualities that empower us to break up materialistic fantasies and illusions through the full awareness of Love’s attributes as the true references to approach life and the material world: “They are the ones who spoke to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to let the children of Israel out of Egypt; they are Moses and Aaron.” (6:27). Love is entitled and destined to direct and guide all the driving forces of life, ego included.
God’s Love gives us life to empower it with Love as our Essence and identity, and our highest knowledge of the Creator endows us to enthrone Love as the ruler over all levels of consciousness: “The Lord said to Moses, ‘See! I have made you a lord [lit. a god] over Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother will be your speaker’.” (7:1).
If we know nowadays the hardships it takes to make ego subservient to our will, imagine how difficult was then under the bondage in the one considered the most depraved society of ancient times. In this sense we understand the need to “hit” Pharaoh, the Egyptians and their land not with one or two but ten plagues. Mystic Sages explain that each plague represents a step to “sensitize” human consciousness by recognizing the Creator’s will as the sole owner and conductor of His Creation.
Blood is related to warm and affectionate feelings as the bearer and nurturer of life, opposite to water as inorganic and cold as a materialistic, egotistic approach to life. The river Nile was and still is the source of life for Egypt, and Egyptians took it for granted as if the river did not depend on the Creator’ will. By turning its waters into blood, they had to dig wells to drink from.
Frogs also have cold blood, and coming from the water to jump into ovens was another lesson to learn that, no matter how cold we may be, we must look for warming ourselves in the heat that represents our heart as Love. The lice as bloodsuckers also represent ego’s ruthless use of the source of life to satisfy its materialistic desires at the expense and suffering of others.
Wild animals represent harmful thoughts, vicious emotions, destructive passions and uncontrolled instincts which characterize the negative aspects of consciousness raised by ego’s negative agenda. Pestilence is the result of the destruction of ego’s misleading fantasies and illusions, and so skin eruptions as the effect of ego’s heated desires when out of control. Hail mixed with fire descended from the sky to teach us that opposite qualities such as water and fire can coexist together under the Creator’s will, as well as fire that burns and doesn’t consume, which represents God’s Love for us.
The plagues as lessons and steps to submit ego to the higher consciousness of Love are reminders that God’s Love is our Creator. By being and manifesting Love as the ruler and conductor of our consciousness we leave behind our exile and bondage under a purposeless life, and be ready to approach the meaningful and transcending destiny the Creator has for us. Our individual and collective Exodus begins when we make the choice to embrace Love as our true Essence and identity, and God’s Love as our Creator that sustains us.