Tag Archives: Pharoah

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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How the Lessons of Passover Still hold true

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As we approach the beginning of the holiday of Passover, I am struck by the fact that that many of the lessons learned from the holiday still hold true today.  It is very possible that the most significant lesson is that hatred towards the Jews is more often than not for the mere fact that we exist, not because of the actions we take.

What is so remarkable about the phenomenom of anti-Semitism is that when you look at it closely, it is rarely about the things Jews do wrong.  This is an important point. I do not claim that the Jewish people are perfect by any means.  Like any group we have some character traits that are appealing, some that are not.  We have produced criminals like any other group of people. Yet the rampant growth of anti-Semitism is not generated by a reaction to a Bernie Madoff, someone who actually caused harm to many people, it is more likely because of the religious Jew living in Brooklyn or the West Bank. The reason for this has nothing to do with behavior.  It has to do with growth.

When slavery began in Egypt the Pharoah rallied his people with the following words: ‘Behold the Children of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply.'” But the Jewish people were not violent, they were not aggressive or ambitious, they were merely members of the Egyptian community that were growing and developing.  They were actually more beneficial to Egypt than they were harmful. But despite the lack of reasoning behind this thinking, they were considered a threat.  How were they more and mightier?  They were a minority in Egypt.  But in their structure and cohesiveness they were strong and productive.  This was threatening to the Pharoah.

When we hear of Iran preaching the destruction of Israel, I always wonder how any reasonable person doesn’t ask themselves why Iran would care? Why would anyone care? Israel is a speck of land compared to the land surrounding it. Yet in its hard work and productivity, but most of all in its growth, it is considered a tremendous threat.  The truth be told, most of those calling for Israel’s destruction won’t say, destroy Israel unless Israel gives the Palestinians anything they want, they clearly call for Israel’s demise regardless of what actions Israel does or doesn’t take.  Ultimately it is for one simple and very sad reason.  It is a Jewish nation.

On paper a two-state solution might work if Israel was at war with the United Nations.  However, Israel’s enemies do not merely call on their departure from what they refer to as the “occupied territories”, Israel’s enemies call for its complete and total destruction.  The Palestinian people, the people the world seems to want to believe is persecuted by Israel, are actually the pawns in a much more devious and cynical game.  They are being used to create one of the most disgusting public relations farces in history.

For Israel, a prosperous and peaceful Palestine would be wonderful. But it’s not Israel that doesn’t want to see this happen, it’s those wishing to see the region rid of the Jewish people.  The Muslims and Arabs in the region don’t need Israel’s land.  They control over 99% of the territory in the Middle East. Yet somehow Israel is the cause of all the regions problems. Why?  Just as it was in Egypt at the start of all the troubles, it is merely because it exists.  “Come, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply.”  In the end, that is what is really about.  Not an occupation, not settlements, and not Benjamin Netanyahu. What it is really about is that not only are the Jews not going away, they are actually having the audacity to multiply. Something which was not acceptable to Pharoah, and not acceptable to the anti-Semite of today.  One can only hope and pray that today’s anti-Semitic leaders see the same fate as the Egyptian ruler did so many years ago and that  the Jewish people and all decent civilized people are allowed to live in the freedom so many have sacrificed so much to achieve.

 

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