“On the First Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, ” Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat Passover?” Matthew 26: 17 NAB. During Easter and Holy Week Christians celebrate Jesus celebrating his national and ancestral holiday of the feast of Passover. Jesus the Redeemer and Deliverer was celebrating a holiday of Delivery and Redemption when he entered into the suffering and death of his Paschal mystery. According to the Bible the Hebrew had come into Egypt as wealthy administrators whose zenith was embodied in the man Joseph who struck a shrewd deal to help Egypt through a crisis and secure his people’s survival. Perhaps ties to Hyksos Semitic elements before or after their dynasty and ties to lands as far away as Babylon and as close as Canaan enabled the early Hebrew clans to play a key role as a small part of the Egyptian society and economy. But things change. “Then a new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt, He said to his subjects, look how numerous and powerful the Israelite people are growing, more so than we ourselves! Come, let us deal shrewdly with them to stop their increase, otherwise in time of war they too may join our enemies to fight against us and so leave our country.” Exodus 1: 8-9 NAB.
The Hebrews are enslaved (although neither in the systems we have known relatively recently nor in the system for individual war captives in Egypt) and when that doesn’t do the trick infanticide is commanded to keep them down. Doubtless many Hebrews gave children to any Egyptian who would save them. One of those saved was Moses who became the deliverer of the Passover. There are no real vowels from which English translates his name in the oldest texts. So we may say his name was Mss. The Pharaohs often had names like Ramses (Rmss) or Thutmose (Ttmss). As a Hebrew reared as an Egyptian Prince he was doubtless possessed of the name of an egyptian God followed by the “mss” name. He then removed that Pagan first syllable and had a new meaning given to the last two syllables of that name perhaps based on an event or perhaps based on a wall known story of Sargon which was in the Pharaoh’s Palace Library — and so his name tells a story. Moses’s struggles, spiritual journey and growing sense of Hebrew identity filled a period after he fled Egypt for killing an Egyptian and then returned to seek the deliverance of his people. Why would an atheistic team of scholars and scientists say he appeared to confront Pharoah at that time? Many such say the story is made up. But I say they are lazy cowards.
A man learned in all the vast science and wizardry of Egypt that an astute Princeling could learn there he added to it ties with Semite and nomads with old ties to his Hebrew Ancestors. He preayed and sought the help of God for a deliverance for his people. Through consultation and study steadied in prayer he became certain enough that a vast volcanic eruption was coming to the Eastern Mediterranean. The first shifting of plate and upheavals of the Earth came after he had already begun to prophesy to Egypt’s leaders. They found the water reddish and discolored and somewhat poisoned after the prophesied first quake. Hebrews rejoiced at this sign that their unique leader could predict the future. Frogs first, then gnats and then flies were driven from wetlands and wilderness and among the flies were stinging water creatures found in new puddles and flats. Moses preached and life got bad. Moses and his agents kept a sense of pace and theater building the tension and soon the bad water, gasses from fault cracks and rotting bodies and waste of insects led to devastating disease.
The Seventh plague of hail came as the first ashes coated with ice and snow stirred up storms with the early eruptions. These storms stirred up unprecedented numbers of bugs that swarmed to escape the hostile climate. Then the Locusts descended on a blighted land. Finally the main eruption poured forth and the ejecta cloud darkened the skies for three days. Moses had prevented the Hebrews from being victimized in these terrible ordeals — perhaps sacrificed or eaten and instead had made them feared when he preached and predicted all of this. In the Wealthy Houses many if the Heirs lived in areas of the building nearest the outgassing inlets and as the Hebrews gathered to pray, plan, drill at arms and feast these died in their sleep.
Then the Hebrews moved away from Egypt and found water courses diverted and dams of debris creating dry corridors. The crossed over these and when the Egyptians had second thought s the waters were returning to courses and the armies were cut off surrounded, flooded and washed away by the returning waters. The Hebrews followed a column of cloud near the coast by day as the cloud of the erupting volcano was visible and of fire at night as it glowed. Exhausted birds flying from lands devastated by the volcano fed them and the ashes fell down with humidity from the sea and caused little plants to produce food in the desert for flocks and people and this went on for a while and was called manna. With courage and faith they risked it all in a world turned upside down and found themselves free at the end. Unfortunately many seminaries are either illiterate or else see only how fairy tales are similar to these stories.
Jesus was also a real man who really healed the sick. He really fed the hungry and preached and led crowds. He came to Jerusalem knowing he would die horribly with the endless courage that typified him and his life. He came among other things to celebrate the Passover.
I do appreciate the glories of Egypt and Rome. I am not a romantic idealist purist who hates all trappings of power and pomp. But the great stories at the heart of Judaism and Christianity are also about human greatness. These are not worthless fools serving a worthy God. This is God drawing near to his people.
In recent posts I have been putting up a goodly number of more or less political postings. In fact, the last half-dozen have all been political without an exception. I could have interrupted these to do a personal post on my brother’s wedding but I did not. Having committed to this political expression I have decided to go on with the process for the immediate future. Everyone has got their discontents and their sense of what are the tolerable limits of their civic and social situation before they must take some kind of drastic action to change that situation or remove themselves from it. I am not arguing that whatever I will do is immediately and inextricably linked to what society as a whole will find to be the right and practical response. In fact, in may ways my own place is one of having lost that basic sense of trust in society which would be at the base and part of the very essence of such an assertion as I disclaim here. But on this holiday as we think of our civilization let us remember that civilization is more than power alone. Besides the unique and great criticisms of Moses and Jesus Egypt and Rome retained much of whatever habitability and decency they did retain because of others who sought more than just power in that sense and were also able people who could wield power.
Human Habitat, Resources, Sex and Reproduction, Military Culture, Bio-diversity, Really Understood Moral Hazard, Preservation of Momentum and Continuity of Resources are all themes I would like to address in my blog. I would like to draw near to a plan for reforming our society. However, I want to take a break to ponder God’s mercy in the redemptions we celebrate just now. As we move into SPRING, maybe a new springtime of a genuine and intelligent faith can find its way into our policy.
Happy Passover and Happy Easter.