By The Finger of God, 3 — R.S. Notley

Rabbinic Commentary

The expression “finger of God” also occurs in a passage from an ancient rabbinic commentary on Exodus that is recited in Jewish homes every year as part of the Passover Haggadah:

Rabbi Yose the Galilean said, “How do we know that the Egyptians were afflicted with ten plagues in Egypt, but with fifty at the Red Sea? Of Egypt it is said: ‘Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.”’ But of the Red Sea it is said: ‘And Israel saw the mighty hand….’ With how many plagues were they afflicted by the ‘finger’? Scripture says with ten. Therefore we may conclude that in Egypt the Egyptians were afflicted with ten plagues, but at the Red Sea with fifty.” (Mechilta, Beshallah 6; to Exod. 14:31)

The first-century sage’s attempt to enlarge upon the greatness of the LORD’s deliverance of Israel from its slavery in Egypt underscores the importance of this event in the Jewish faith. Those who heard Jesus’ reference to the “finger of God” would have recognized the subtle intimation to God’s redemptive act.

Jesus responds to his accusers that if God is responsible for the liberation of the dumb man from his bondage to Satan, then God’s kingdom has been established in their midst. In this brief New Testament passage we can hear not only the Hebraic words of Jesus—באצבע אלהים (be-etsba elohim)—but also his understanding of the redemptive significance of his movement that he chose to call the kingdom of God.

Check back Friday for a new post.
See also Jerusalem Perspective


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