Saturday, January 30, 2010

Exodus, Chapters 5 & 6

Chapter 5

This is pretty clearly a labour dispute, as far as I can see. Moses and Aaron are kind of primitive labour organizers, Pharaoh is a classic bully boss, the Egyptians are his minions, and the Israelites suffer.

Moses and Aaron arrive in Egypt and ask Pharaoh to let them take their people into the wilderness for a 3-day bush bash. Pharaoh says no because he doesn't believe in their god. I can't really say I blame him. If I was a boss, and my employees came along and said they needed 3 days off for a religious celebration that involved killing goats in the forest, I'd be like, sure, but you're using your vacation days and I don't want to know anything about it. They claim that if they don't get these 3 days, God is going to either send them a plague or kill them all, which is so not what God said to them in Midian. And all the bosses out there are like, if I had a nickel for every time I've heard that excuse for why an employee needs a long weekend, I tell you, I'd be rich. Pharaoh says no, and tells them to get back to work. He points out that the Israelites are pretty numerous, and a labour disruption of this magnitude will have economic ramifications, so no. He tells his line managers not to gather straw for the Israelites to make bricks with, because apparently they're all brick-layers, but also tells them not to let the Israelits slow down production as a result, or to have any sympathy when they whine about needing to sacrifice for their god. Pharaoh sounds like the 'Bully Boss' from a book I read recently about crazy higher-ups.

So the managers to out and repeat Pharaoh's instructions, and of course there's a disruption in the production cycle, and because they're crazy, they beat them, then ask why the Israelites aren't producing like normal. The Israelites take this up the chain of command and ask Pharaoh why he's being so unreasonable, and explain how the Egyptians are making them go gather the straw. But Pharaoh, being a crazy bully boss, says the problem is they're lazy, and to make up for lost time they can't have three days off. The Israelite supervisors leave, after realizing he's nuts and on the way out they meet Moses and Aaron. They bitch at them that now Pharaoh is angry and might kill them. Moses doesn't have an answer, so he asks god why he's allowing this evilness to happen to his people and remonstrating him for not fulfilling his promise. Ah, the classic problem of evil: if god is all good and all powerful, there ought not to be any evil in the world, right? So either god isn't all powerful, or he isn't all good. Of course, Jerry would wimp out here and only say god created humans with free will, and if they do evil, it's their own fault. But he doesn't even adress this, because he would rather spend half a page explaining how Pharaoh is a pagan, which we knew already.

Chapter 6

God promises to fix Pharaoh, and reminds Moses of his covenant with the Israelites. He promises again to free them from the Egyptians and take them to Canaan. Moses tries again to convince the Israelites, but they aren't having it. God tells him to go to Pharaoh again, and Moses complains that his lack of speaking skills isn't leading to any results.

We then get yet another genealogy of the history of the Israelites since Jacob/Israel. We find out that despite god's decision in Genesis to limit the human life span to 120 years, Levi, Moses' father Amram, and Kohath, one of Levi's sons, all lived to be over 130. We also find out that Moses and Aaron's mother is also their father's aunt.

It all ends with god telling Moses once again to talk to Pharaoh.

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