Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sunday Sermonette: Hard, hard heart

I forgot to index last week's entry, it was Exodus 9. Here's Exodus 10, which makes very clear what is really going on here.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord.”
Let's review, because this is important. Earlier we learned that God would harden Pharaoh's heart. Pharaoh was inclined  to let the Hebrews go early on in this story, but God made sure that he did not because God wanted to inflict all these horrors on the Egyptians. The reason God wanted to do that is to prove his own power. And the only reason he wants the Hebrews to be freed in the first place is so they can worship him. God is a malignant narcissist and a psychopath.

So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me. [emphasis added] 4 If you refuse to let them go, I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields. They will fill your houses and those of all your officials and all the Egyptians—something neither your parents nor your ancestors have ever seen from the day they settled in this land till now.’” Then Moses turned and left Pharaoh.
Pharaoh’s officials said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God. Do you not yet realize that Egypt is ruined?”
Then Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. “Go, worship the Lord your God,” he said. “But tell me who will be going.”
Moses answered, “We will go with our young and our old, with our sons and our daughters, and with our flocks and herds, because we are to celebrate a festival to the Lord.”
10 Pharaoh said, “The Lord be with you—if I let you go, along with your women and children! Clearly you are bent on evil.[a] 11 No! Have only the men go and worship the Lord, since that’s what you have been asking for.” Then Moses and Aaron were driven out of Pharaoh’s presence.
12 And the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over Egypt so that locusts swarm over the land and devour everything growing in the fields, everything left by the hail.”
Again, it seems God can't perform this particular miracle without the help of Moses's magic wand. 
13 So Moses stretched out his staff over Egypt, and the Lord made an east wind blow across the land all that day and all that night. By morning the wind had brought the locusts; 14 they invaded all Egypt and settled down in every area of the country in great numbers. Never before had there been such a plague of locusts, nor will there ever be again. 15 They covered all the ground until it was black. They devoured all that was left after the hail—everything growing in the fields and the fruit on the trees. Nothing green remained on tree or plant in all the land of Egypt.
This particular plague is fairly realistic. The account claims it was the worst ever, but real plagues of locusts do pretty much devour everything. Of course they were a pretty common occurrence in the region so no miracle here.As with the cattle, God has already killed every plant in Egypt with the hail, but now he kills them again.
16 Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. 17 Now forgive my sin once more and pray to the Lord your God to take this deadly plague away from me.”
18 Moses then left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord. 19 And the Lord changed the wind to a very strong west wind, which caught up the locusts and carried them into the Red Sea.[b] Not a locust was left anywhere in Egypt. 20 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go.
Yep, Pharaoh really did intend to let the people go but the Lord once again hardened his heart. God doesn't want the Israelites to be freed nearly as much as he wants to murder all the first-born Egyptian males. That's his true objective, as explicitly declared here.
21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. 23 No one could see anyone else or move about for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.
Why couldn't the Egyptians light their oil pots? Don't ask.
24 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and said, “Go, worship the Lord. Even your women and children may go with you; only leave your flocks and herds behind.”
25 But Moses said, “You must allow us to have sacrifices and burnt offerings to present to the Lord our God. 26 Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind. We have to use some of them in worshiping the Lord our God, and until we get there we will not know what we are to use to worship the Lord.”
27 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go.
And again.
28 Pharaoh said to Moses, “Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die.”
29 “Just as you say,” Moses replied. “I will never appear before you again.”


  1. Exodus 10:10 Or Be careful, trouble is in store for you!
  2. Exodus 10:19 Or the Sea of Reeds


Don Quixote said...

I never understood--as a child in synagogue--why a a people we'd had to go through all of this. As I've mentioned, even after the Hebrews were finally let go in the story, Pharaoh's troops pursued them into the Red Sea and it took an extra miracle to save them.

The story never made sense to me. And kids can tell when stuff doesn't make sense. So it's all an allegory, therefore. But what is (are) the lesson(s)?

Cervantes said...

Well, the answer as far as I'm concerned is to be found in what happens next, the conquest of Canaan. The account we are about to read has the Israelites in continual war with their neighbors, as the aggressors. God orders the Israelites to massacre their enemies, and they succeed because he's badder than the other Gods. This is to establish the ruthlessness and power of God on behalf of the people he chose; the other people don't matter, they have no moral value. Sorry, it isn't at all pleasant and it isn't the way most Jews want to interpret this, but it's literally what it's all about.

And keep in mind it's the Egyptians, not the Jews, who have to go through the worst of it by far. As will happen soon enough to the people of Canaan,in fact it will be even worse for them.

Don Quixote said...

So a mythology of Egyptian captivity was constructed for a rationalization to make war?