Thursday, July 08, 2004

Exodus 5

This is a transitional chapter. Moses has been given godlike powers. The people have come to believe God has sent him. And yet he's unable to do anything at all to help them cope with Pharaoh's oppression.

There are a couple of interesting points. One is that Moses and Aaron do an astonishingly poor job of persuading Pharaoh to let them go to worship God. They say that if the Hebrews don't worship God, He may turn against them. One can imagine Pharoah saying to himself, "And this is my problem?" Since Pharaoh is fixated on diminishing the power of the Hebrews, this would seem to be the answer to his prayer.

Another interesting point is that Moses and Aaron are permitted to speak the ineffable name of God, Jehovah, to Pharaoh.

Finally, this chapter exposes the futility of oppression. Pile an additional burden onto the heavy load of the slave and he ceases to be able to do any work. Beat him and no more bricks are made. When the goal of leaders ceases to be producing something useful and decays into controlling the subordinates, they have sown the seeds of destruction their own power. Such an obvious lesson, but one that every generation of leaders learns anew.


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