Before receiving the Torah on Mt. Sinai, God tells Moses to tell the people this: “You have seen what I have done to Egypt and that I carried you on the wings of eagles, and I brought you to Me. And now, if you surely listen to My voice, and you guard My covenant, then you will be to Me a treasure over all peoples, for Mine is all the Earth. And you will be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation: these are the words that you shall speak to the Children of Israel.” (Exod. 19:4-6)
Rashi comments: “You will be to Me a treasure over other nations. But do not say that you (Israel) alone are Mine, and that I have no others with you. However, what more do I have that My love for you is recognized? ‘For Mine is the entire Earth’, and they are before Me as nothing.”
Rashi teaches that Israel has nothing more than other nations, “do not say that you (Israel) alone are Mine, and that I have no others with you.” Meaning, all peoples are equal before God. So wherefrom is Israel’s “treasured” status? The last part of verse 5 answers this: “For Mine is the entire Earth, and they are before Me as nothing.” “Mine is the entire Earth,” means all peoples are equal. The Jew is treasured only by default of God’s despising the nations’ idolatry: “they are before Me as nothing” means due to their sin, the Jew is treasured by default…provided we observe God’s laws.
This was an essential lesson before the Jews received the Torah. The Jew sins philosophically thinking he is better than others. For God did not create “Jew” and “Gentile”, rather, man and woman. All members of mankind share the same couple, Adam and Eve, as our first parents. How then can the Jew think he is better?
Receiving the Torah on Sinai carried the prospect of the Jews’ haughtiness. These verses intend to correct the problem before it starts.