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Creating a World in an Instant

13 0 4

After a brief, opening recap of the Israelite tribes that had descended to Egypt, the biblical book of Exodus, in its eighth verse, introduces us to the new Pharaoh. In the very next verse, we are startled by this new Pharaoh’s declaration that the Israelites, sojourning among them, have become too great in number. And only one verse later, the new Pharaoh hatches a plan to curb the perceived power of the growing Israelite population in his realm, lest they pose a threat to the “real” Egyptians. Pharaoh’s incitement to preemptively quash what he views as the looming threat of the Israelites, notoriously sets the scene for all that is to follow – our ancestors’ enslavement and suffering for hundreds of years, as well as the permanent and powerful memory of that collective trauma that is embedded in western culture in general and in Jewish culture in particular.

As we begin the book of Exodus anew this year, I am especially struck by the abrupt and transformative quality of the book’s first recorded verbal statement. We know virtually nothing about the new Pharaoh, except, of course, for the clearly negative answer that what we know about him would elicit to the age-old question “Is he/she/it good for the Jews?” Notably, the verse informs us that Pharaoh specifically addresses “his people,”........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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