In Parshat Bo, the Torah describes the final three plagues. It is a dark chapter in Egypt’s history – literally.
Moses stretches his staff over Egypt and, by morning, an east wind sent by God carries locusts over the entire country. “It covered the sight of all the land and the land was in darkness … .” The locusts ate all of the crops, the greenery on the trees and all the grass. Pharaoh asks Moses to forgive him and “remove from me only this death,” and God sends a west wind and blows the locusts away. But God has hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he again refuses to let the Children of Israel leave. (Exodus 10:13-20)
Then, Moses stretches his hand to heaven, and God sends a deep darkness over Egypt. For three days, “no man could see his brother”. After that, for another three days no one could “rise from his place”. (Exodus 10:22-23) Pharaoh asks Moses to remove the plague, but insists that the Israelites leave their cattle as hostages. Moses refuses, and Pharaoh dismisses him.
Finally, God tells Moses to have the Israelites prepare for the Passover, by roasting a sheep for each family as a special meal, and marking the doorposts and lintels of their houses with the blood of the sheep, as a sign that the people there are Children of Israel. God then passes through all of Egypt, and strikes down the firstborn male in every Egyptian household. Only Pharaoh, who was the firstborn of his family, is spared. He runs to find Moses and Aaron, and says the Israelites should leave Egypt immediately.
All three plagues involve darkness. The plague of locusts covers the land, shutting out the light and consuming all the food of the Egyptians – the darkness of nothing to nourish the body. The plague of darkness is so thick it can be felt; no one could see his brother nor even get up – the darkness of no contact with other people or things. The plague of the death of the firstborn leaves the darkness of the soul in every Egyptian home.
Thus the Egyptians came to feel the punishment they had inflicted on the Israelites for 210 years by tormenting their bodies with hard labor, by trying to destroy their families and community, and by attempting to kill the firstborn Children of Israel.
From this darkness Moses leads his people on the Exodus, to find the light of God’s commandments at Mt. Sinai.
Sometimes we get involved in darkness so thick that it harms us or those around us. We can become so angry that we forget about other people’s feelings and say or do things that are hurtful. We can be so sure of our own ideas that we stop listening to anyone else. We can get so wrapped up in our own lives that we fail to notice the needs of our friends and family. When do these things, we stop living up to our promise to be Helpful, Friendly, Courteous and Kind.
A Scout is a person who leads the way for others. Lead yourself and others to the light by remembering the Scout Oath and Law.