Monday, March 28, 2011

The Exodus By God : Moses separating the Red Sea

moses commanding the red sea to get separated
Exodus is a story that I've known for years. I know by heart the incident of the flaming bush, the miracle of the serpent/rod, the bloody river and the seven plagues. It was all perfectly clear to me until I read the King James Bible, and discovered the story wasn't as simple as I thought.
First of all, God was the one who caused everything. It is true the Pharaoh had the Israelites as his slaves, and God was trying to free his people from the Egyptian oppression. But the following quote, which was repeated many times, left me very confused:

the isralites are passing into the red sea
 "And the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land." (Exodus 11:10)(This quote is similarly repeated in Exodus 7:13, 9:7, 9:35 and 10:20,). I don't understand why the Lord would harden Pharaoh's heart? What was the need of it? What I understand of the story was that God wanted to free the Israelites and send them to the Promised Land. Like he said when he appeared in the flaming bush to Moses:

"I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; 3:8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey;" (Exodus 3:7-8).

He gave Moses signs so people would believe his story, and he walked with him to speak. If he indeed wanted to free his people, then instead of hardening the Pharaoh's heart, couldn't he have softened it? Maybe he needed the plagues to show all his power to the people, and make everyone see he is more powerful than any other god they worshipped. After all, he did say, "I the LORD thy God am a jealous God..." (Exodus 20:5). Still, I think that after the locust plague, when the Pharaoh asked for forgiveness and let the Israelites go, God again hardened his heart and decided to give him more plagues. If you think about it, the Pharaoh repented at least twice, and if God hadn't intervened, the Israelites would have gone from Egypt sooner. In the end, I think the Israelites wouldn't have made the journey to the Promised Land if God hadn't shown all his power and created so much fear amidst the people.

So I think Exodus was God's way to herd the people out of Egypt into the Promised Land where they could live in a covenant with him.

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