Today's Reading: Genesis 49:1-Exodus 9:12
What's in today's reading: The end of Joseph's story, the beginning of Moses's, the plagues on Egypt begin.
I didn't even get through a whole week before I started getting sentimental and lazy in these posts. For that I apologize. I really want to focus on what is written, to whom it was written, and why it was written.
So far we've been reading history. Whether or not the creation stories, the Ark, the tower of Babel, and the rest are literal stories or the telling of truths in a manner the people of the time could grasp, it's still history.
We are continuing our history lessons and are about to move from history of individuals to the history of a nation. But before we do, there's one more person who's story we get to share.
Scholars and tradition tell us that Moses is the author of the first 5 books of the Bible, so in a sense the story of Moses is his autobiography.
Some scholars believe that the stories of creation, Noah, Abraham and so on from the first part of Genesis are from an earlier source that was probably handed down orally and not written down until compiled by Moses. Every people group has a similar oral tradition. Some claim that this waters down the facts and these oral histories can't be trusted. While it is true that storytellers sometimes embellish their stories to entertain their audiences, in every tradition that practices storytelling, they take great pride in preserving the truth and facts from one generation to the next. There is no reason to believe the stories written down by Moses are any different.
So the end of our story of Joseph is him bringing his brothers and father to Egypt to save them from the drought. The family of Israel is given their own land in Egypt and they make themselves at home. By the end of the drought, all of Egypt belongs to pharaoh (the people sold their land, and themselves into slavery, so they could eat. One could question is Joseph really 'saved' them from the drought if they paid so much to partake in the food stores, but this is a good example of why these stories can be trusted, they record the good along with the not so good about the people.
The drought ended. Jacob (Israel) passes away. Joseph passes away. And the nation of Israel is born. Happy in Egypt, they multiply. And multiply. And multiply. Pretty soon pharaoh is like "Dude, these sheep herders are going to over run the country! We should like put them to work so they'll stop making babies". Ok, that's probably not exactly what he said, but that's the idea.
So now our baby nation, before they could even figure out that that ARE a nation, are slaves. Put to work building the cities of Pithom and Raamses.
We are getting into some history that can be verified. While archaeologist disagree on where Pithom and Raamses are located, we are starting to see things in the Bible that we know to be true. Egypt did employ slaves. Some buildings were built in the manner described in Genesis (clay bricks made with straw). Sadly, some historians try to throw out anything that seems to confirm the Biblical record, claiming that those working on those projects are trying to confirm what is written rather than letting the facts speak for themselves. I am not an expert on such things, but we can't throw out the Bible as lies simply because it is a religious text.
So here's the descendants of Israel, now a people group unto themselves, slaves to Egypt. And then along comes Moses.
We learn all about Moses from the beginning, from his infancy, through his childhood being fostered by Pharaoh's daughter, murder, exile, and then a message from God.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob talked to God all the time (as did Adam, Noah, etc.). Genesis doesn't tell us how much Moses knew about God before the burning bush. Being raised in the palace, we can imagine that probably not much. But he did marry the daughter of a priest...
Now we see something that we haven't seen this clearly before. Miracles. A bush that doesn't burn, a staff that can be turned into a snake, water turned to blood. Things that seem impossible because they defy the laws of the known universe. Some people throw out the Bible simply because these things "can't have happened, they're impossible". But God wrote the laws of the universe, He's above them. He can do what he likes. Miracles might defy the laws of the universe as we mere humans see them, but that's how we recognize them when we see them. That is what makes them 'miracles'.
Moses goes to Egypt and tells pharaoh "Let my people go!". Everyone knows this story. The movie is still among the most viewed films of all time. While maybe no 100% accurate to the Biblical text, Charlton Heston's portrayal of Moses is on one of the best known performances in modern history. So I won't rehash a story that you probably know.
Our reading ends today with the 6th plague. 4 more to go.