Tag Archives: Bible

God’s Disproportionate Response to Egypt

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Despite the fact that many consider the Old Testament to be a man-made fabrication, billions of people worldwide do indeed believe it to be an authentic accounting of what took place thousands of years ago.  With so much of the world’s violence revolving around religious belief and doctrine, the lessons learned from the Bible are indeed relevant today, if for no other reason than the fact that people believe it to be true.  As the Jewish holiday of Passover approaches, the story of the enslavement of the Jewish people in Egypt is front and center.  In a time when Israel’s response to violence is once again being challenged by those who either wish her destruction, feel passivity will lead to peace, or look to appease the enemy, the story of Passover has become even more relevant.  When the statement is made that Israel’s retaliation to violence is a Disproportionate Response, the question one has to ask, especially this time of year is, was God’s reaction to Egypt subsequently a Disproportionate Response as well?

To get a better idea of whether or not this is the case one needs to know a little bit about the history as it is appears in the Bible.  The story starts with the Jewish people being seen as a threat to Egypt by the country’s new  King or “Pharoah”. His concern was that the Jews were multiplying too quickly and becoming too strong, therefore posing a threat to Egyptian society.  Despite the fact that they had done nothing to warrant these suspicions, the Jews were felt to be such a growing danger that they were enslaved, forced to do hard labor, and made to build ostentatious and glorious cities for Egypt’s Pharoah. When their number continued to increase, the Pharoah decreed that all newborn Jewish males should be thrown into the Nile River.  Moses, a child that would survive this systematic murder of Jewish male children, would ultimately be the man who would lead the Jews out of slavery. However, not before the Egyptians would go through tremendous suffering of their own.

When Moses ascended to his leadership role of the Jewish people he ultimately stood before the Egyptian leader and in the name of God implored him to “Let my people Go!”  When the Pharoah refused, God decided to punish the Egyptians with a variety of plagues.  The water turned to blood, the land would be infested with swarms of locusts, there would be a debilitating darkness, and the people and cattle would be cursed with boils and lice, just to name a few of the hardships God brought upon the Egyptian people. Was this fair?  Was it right for the Egyptians to suffer so tremendously merely because the Pharoah wanted to maintain his labor force? After all, the Jews who were allowed to live were  given enough food and shelter to survive.  Their social structure was kept in tact enough that men and women were able to get together and multiply to the point where they were deemed a threat.  Was it really fair for God to come down so hard on the Egyptians?  Did they deserve to suffer on such a high level merely because they would not let the Jewish people break out of their generations of bondage and suffering?  By today’s standards certainly not.  Today every level of injustice is measured with some sort of bias, often in favor of those committing the injustice.  But if you believe the story of Passover, the injustices committed by the Egyptians against the Children of Israel were not going to go unpunished by the most powerful being of all, God.

When Pharoah still refused to let the Jewish people go, the suffering would reach it’s pinnacle.  All of Egypts first born sons would be killed unless the Jews were freed. Pharoah in his arrogance and stubbornness refused to capitulate, causing the death of countless numbers of Egyptians sons, the most notable of which would be the son of the Pharoah himself.  Was all this necessary merely because the Jewish people were living as slaves?  Seeing as there was no United Nations back then there was certainly no governing body to condemn what was happening, but even if there had been, what were they going to do, condemn God?  Maybe, you never know.

When the Pharoah finally gave in, for a large part due to his own immense suffering at the loss of his child, he actually had second thoughts and sent his army after the Jews as they fled Egypt.  Up to the last moment, as the Jews were escaping Egypt, God would still cause suffering on the Egyptian people, causing multitudes of soldiers to be engulfed and washed away to their death in the Red Sea.  All this just so the Jews would live as free people.  All this suffering that befell the Egyptians truly must be seen as a Disproportionate Response on the part of the Almighty, should it not?

Of course the truth is a simple one.  If this did indeed happen as it is portrayed in the Old Testament, these harsh “Disproportionate Responses” were actions by God in defense and protection of the Jewish people.  But regardless of whether it was the Jews or anyone else, the message it sends is that taking away the freedom of an entire nation is indeed a crime punishable by great suffering.  If a people are being attacked or enslaved by another group of people, attacks against those that enslave them, persecute them, or murder them are not only acceptable, they are warranted.  Attacks against those who threaten a people’s sovereignty are warranted, regardless of whether or not the United Nations, the European community, or the likes of a Bernie Sanders find it to be acceptable behavior.

If man is truly created in God’s image, then there is no such thing as Disproportionate Response against those that wish to wipe out a nation.  If no other lesson is to be learned from Passover, this is one that should be, especially in the world in which we live today.

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From Netanyahu to Netanyahu, there is none like Netanyahu

gif-leaders-netanyahuWhen speaking of the greatness of Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, otherwise known as Maimonides, it is often said, “from Moses to Moses, there was none like Moses.”  This of course speaks to the importance and greatness of Moses in the Bible, the prophet that lead the Children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, and generations later the great impact Maimonides had in his and future generations as a Rabbi, philosopher and physician.

In June of 1976 the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacked an Air France plane en route to Paris from Tel-Aviv and forced it to land in Entebbe, Uganda.  With the support of the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, the hijackers took hostages, separating the Jewish passengers from the non-Jewish passengers and held the Jewish passengers hostage at Entebbe Airport. A group of 100 commandos, lead by Yonatan Netanyahu freed every single hostage on July 4, 1976, going down in history as one of the most amazing rescue missions of all time.  Sadly, Netanyahu, was killed during the mission.  He will always be remembered fondly as a great hero.

38 years later, Yonatan Netanyahu’s brother Benjamin is Prime Minister of the State of Israel during one of its most challenging times.  As is the case with any high-profile leader, Benjamin Netanyahu has his critics on both sides of the spectrum.  There are those who feel he is too compromising, accusing him of not having the willingness or stomach to do what needs to be done to eliminate Israel’s threats regardless of collateral damage or civilian casualties. The other critics go as far as saying he is a war criminal, guilty of leading a genocide against the Palestinian people.

I personally think he is a great man, one whose performance in the wake of tremendous pressure both internally and externally has been nothing short of exemplary.  His priority has been the safety and future security of the citizens of Israel.  He has shown respect for world opinion by publicly clarifying and explaining Israel’s actions, something expected from no other country, possibly with the exception of the United States.  He has displayed a calm leadership during chaotic times.  He has shown strength, reason, intelligence, and the quality he is given the least credit for, compassion.  I believe we are very lucky to have him.

From Netanyahu to Netanyahu, there is none like Netanyahu.

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