Friday, September 18, 2009

More Exodus

Moses, and his brother and mouthpiece Aaron, are charged with informing the Hebrews that I AM, the God of their ancestors, is going to take them out of Egypt and install them in the Promised Land. Moses has been given some magical powers (a staff that becomes a snake and a leprous hand that heals itself) to convince the Hebrews of his bona fides. Moses and Aaron are also charged with approaching Pharaoah about ketting the Hebrews leave.

At the same time, I AM hardens Pharaoh's heart so that he won't let the Hebrews leave in order that He may smite the Egyptians with a series of plagues. These culminate in the visitation of the Angel o' Death and the demise of every firstborn. (As a firstborn myself, I have always taken issue with this story. Why not the secondborn for a change?) The Hebrews take off, not before plundering, and Pharoah pursues them. Moses parts the Red Sea, the Hebrews cross on dry land, and the Egyptians are drowned.

The story strains credulity, but it makes for one powerful myth for nationbuilding later on. Does it matter whether the Hebrews actually fled fom Egypt? Not as far as I'm concerned. Which is a good thing since I'm pretty sure it didn't happen on the scale suggested by the story.

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