Thursday, July 15, 2004

Exodus 12A. Social aspects

At last, events in Egypt reach their climax. God has differentiated Hebrew from Egyptian; now the rift must become physical.

The chapter is so rich that one can must take it by aspects. At the surface are the social aspects. A calendar is laid down. A principal feast day of the year is designated. The prescription to slaughter and consume fresh lamb, ensuring that Jews would stay near their pastoral roots, is applied. Bread stocks must be destroyed and made anew. The uncircumcised are forbidden to eat the Passover meal; indeed, any alien must have every male in his household circumcised. A format for instructing children in the basic legend of their identity is laid out, and a rationale for why Jews must be willing to sacrifice everything to maintain an independent identity is given to them.

Also, the relationship of the Hebrews with the Egyptians is established. God not only strikes down the firstborn of the Egyptians, but the Egyptians are left fearful, giving away their gold and silver to the Hebrews just to get rid of them. Oddly, Pharaoh demands that they bless him. It is not recorded that this demand was fulfilled. So, in sum, in Exodus 12, a relationship of lasting and supercilious hostility, is created between Jews and Egyptians.

The next section will continue this analysis.


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