Thursday, March 19, 2009

EXODUS: Chapters 11 & 12

Chapter 11
Summary:God now tells Moses that he has one final disaster in store for the land of Egypt, stating that the Pharaoh will not only let the people go after this was done, but will practically throw them out of Egypt. He continues, telling Moses to have the women of Israel prepare to ask their Egyptian neighbors for costly gold and silver jewelry. (God had apparently made the Egyptian people become favorable towards the people of Israel. Moses was revered by the Pharaoh's officials and Egyptian people alike.)

Moses now announced to the Pharaoh* that God will pass through the land at midnight, killing the first born sons of everyone - from the oldest child of the Pharaoh, to the oldest child of the lowliest of slaves; even including the first born animals. He adds that God will not kill any of the Israelis nor their animals, adding that God is again making a distinction between the Egyptians and Israelis. Moses, red-faced with anger, stomps out of the palace upon finishing his proclamation.
Notes:1.) Despite Moses' assertion that the Pharaoh would "never see him again" at the end of Chapter 10, he apparently breaks his promise. The Pharaoh also fails to execute him as he had sworn to do also.
Thoughts:God has apparently saved his best "miracle" for last. He has Moses explain to the Pharaoh - despite the fact that Moses and the Pharaoh both said they were done talking with each other in the last chapter - that God will pass through the land at midnight killing off every first born male, from royalty to the lowliest of slaves, to even the first born male animals. Moses delivers his angry speech and storms off.

Despite all this massive death and destruction to the Egyptian people, God has forced and coerced the Egyptian people to favor the Israelis and prepares the Israeli women to demand all sorts of wealth, in the form of gold and silver jewelry, from the Egyptian people. To me this seems almost is if God is condoning and conspiring theft against the citizens of Egypt.

God once again wants to show distinction of his superior race of people over the "evil" Egyptians by sparing the Israelis from his "miracle" first born death curse.
Chapter 12
Summary:God tells Moses and Aaron that from here on out, this month will be the first and most important month to the people of Israel. God tells them that annually on the tenth day of this month that each family will get a lamb (and that if a family is too small, to share a lamb with their neighbors) - which has to be one year old, male, and free of defects. On the fifteenth day of the month, God explains to them that the lambs shall be slaughtered and that their blood shall be splattered on the door frames of each and every home. Each family shall then eat roast lamb that night, along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. God continues to command that the meat must be roasted, and not eaten raw or boiled, adding also that they may only eat it this night, and that anything left over shall be burned the next day.

God further instructs that this meal is to be eaten while wearing traveling clothes, walking shoes, with walking sticks in hand, and that the meal should be eaten hurriedly. This observance, he explains will be called the Lord's Passover, symbolizing that God will "pass over" the houses of the Israelis as he slaughters the first born in Egypt. God explains that the blood smeared on the doorways will be proof to God that his people obey him, and that when he sees the blood, he will "pass over" that house and not kill their first born.

God commands that this event shall be celebrated annually and is a permanent law to remind the people of Israel of this fatal night. He further explains that the celebration will last seven days, and for that period the people are to only eat bread made without yeast; and that anyone who disobeys this rule will be excommunicated from Israel. God further explains that there will be no work to be done on either the first or last day of the celebration, with the exception of food preparation. God also points out that no trace of yeast should be found in any homes during that time, and that these rules also apply to any foreigners who are living amongst them.

Moses then gathers the elders and instructs them to fetch lambs for this gruesome task, and commands that no-one shall be allowed outside this night for any reason.

That night at midnight, God killed all the first born sons in the land of Egypt. There was bitter crying throughout the land as there was not a house where there was not one dead. The Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron during the night and begged them to leave the land, and to take their flocks and herds with them. He then asked them for a blessing, as he states that the people of Egypt are as good as dead now.

The Israelis took their belongings, and the women as instructed, asked the Egyptian people for their gold, silver, jewelry and clothing. The Egyptian people, of whom God made favor the Israelis, were virtually stripped of everything they had owned.

That night the people of Israel left Ramses and started for Succoth; they numbered six hundred thousand men, not including their wives and children. People of all sorts went with them along with vast herds of cattle and enormous flocks. When they had stopped to eat, they baked bread from a yeastless dough.

The sons of Jacob and their descendants had lived in Egypt for 430 years, and it was on the last day of that 430th year that the people had left the land. This night was selected by God to lead his people out of the land of Egypt, so the people celebrated this date annually as the day of God's deliverance.

God then explained to Moses and Aaron more rules concerning the observance of Passover:
  • No foreigners may eat the lamb but if they are living with them and want to observe the ritual, the men must be circumcised.
  • Any slave that has been purchased may eat the lamb if they have been circumcised.
  • A hired servant, or foreigner, may not eat the lamb.
  • Everyone who eats the lamb, must eat it together in their respective homes, and must not carry it outside, nor shall they break any of the lamb's bones.
  • The entire congregation of Israel shall observe this celebration at the same time.
On that day, God brought the people of Israel out of Egypt, wave after wave of them crossing the Egyptian border.
Thoughts:God spends this chapter explaining to Moses, Aaron, and the people of Israel about their first mandatory annual holiday, Passover.

God - who was able to discern the Israelis from Egyptians before in his previous plagues in which he spared the people of Israel - now requires a sign from the people so that he knows which houses to skip as he travels around at night murdering the first born of each household. He tells the people that they're all to find a bunch of lambs to slaughter and to smear the blood of them all over their doors so that God knows which people to skip on his killing spree across Egypt.

He establishes a bunch of customs and traditions for what the people are to do with the lambs afterward: how to cook them, not to eat any bread made with yeast, and to wear their traveling clothes while eating. Anyone who doesn't follow these bizarre customs will be excommunicated from God's chosen people, even going so far as to specify that yeast should not even be present in their homes during this now annual holiday.

God then comes during the night slaying all the first born people and animals of Egypt, and spares those houses with bloody door frames. The Egyptians wake up in the night and cries of despair are heard throughout the land, as apparently not one single home in Egypt was spared of death.

The Pharaoh now basically insists to Moses and Aaron to get his people out of Egypt, but asks for a blessing as they leave considering that Egypt was now pretty much as good as dead.

God, who pulls his voodoo doll magic upon the Egyptian people, makes them receptive to giving the Israeli women all the gold, silver, jewelry, and clothes that they ask for which basically strips them of all of their belongings.

God somehow managed to time this whole excursion to fall on exactly the last day of the 430th year since Jacob's descendants moved to Egypt 430 years prior. This establishes another holiday as the date of God's deliverance. Remarkably, God manages to get all 600,000(!) men plus their wives and children out of the land of Egypt in one night, on foot. Over a half a million people, and probably closer to over a million once we add in the wives and children, out of Egypt on foot in one night. The possibility of 600,000+ people marching out of Egypt in an orderly fashion, on foot, with flocks and herds of animals, carrying all of their possessions (along with the gold and silver they "liberated" from the Egyptians), is ludicrous to consider, much less imagine.

The chapter jumps back to God further explaining the rules of how he wants his new holiday of Passover to be celebrated. Basically stating that anybody who isn't circumcised, doesn't get to eat any lamb, that the people of Israel have to celebrate and eat at the same time, and that nobody's allowed to bring any lamb chops outside. Whatever doesn't get finished that night goes uneaten and is burned the following day.

It's hard to see any significance in any of these strange and bizarre customs, and to me makes about as little sense as requiring that people have to wear silly hats and stand on one foot for an hour on their birthdays.

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