Monday, January 18, 2010

As I Recall: Moses Lets His People Go...Past a Whale.

Ahh, home sweet home. Today I returned from a stint dog-sitting for three dogs. Three of them. Let me explain to you something: in the math world, three is one more than two. In the dog world, three is actually about twenty million more than two. It's a complicated world, the dog world.

But now I am home, and my roommate's cat, Charlie, is back to lovingly appreciating my warm lap.

My trek from a foreign land where I was held captive by an evil ruler (Hildy, the jumping beagle) to my home, where God gives me manna from heaven (Charlie gives me arm-hair licks) has reminded me of another story. That of Moses.

I include this picture from Prince of Egypt, because, while I have heard the story many times, let's be honest. As soon as something is turned into a movie, that's how things look in my brain. Example: What does Hagrid look like? ...I rest my case.

And I apologize, for I have never seen the DeMille/Heston version which is a travesty and I shall add it to my Netflix. Right after Fern Gully and Memoirs of a Geisha.

But, in case you haven't seen the story (or would just like me and my admittedly terrible memory to recount it,) here you are.

So last we last checked in on the Bible, We had Noah, his family, and two of everything else. Except that raven that never flew back. He left a widow bird. And that's why today we don't have ravens. Wait...

Cut to roughly 80 gajillion years later. Noah's descendants have grown into God's Chosen People, the Hebrews. And somehow they have gotten themselves into a bit of a pickle. They are now slaves of the Egyptians. WHOOPS! Oh, God, the hijinks you get into time and again. You should write a book.

So okay. Slaves. That sucks. But the things is, these aren't no Woody Allens being whipped and forced to make papyrus. These are some broad-shouldered Jews. And the Egyptians are scared. Or maybe the Pharaoh caught wind of the whole Chosen People thing...I'm not sure. Maybe both. Important thing here is that Pharaoh gets his headdress in a twist about it and, in order to keep them from an uprising, demands every Hebrew baby boy is murdered. Because as we all know, the way into your slave's hearts and keeping them calm is by killing their little newborn miracles.

So in order to save Moses from assured death, his mother submits him to mere probable death by putting him in a basket and letting him careen down the river. As luck would have it, baby Moses floats on over to the Pharaoh's domain, and is adopted by the fine fine people who brought you such ideas as "Hey I know, let's kill all the Hebrew babies!"

Cut to years later. Moses is a grown royal prince and there's a new Pharaoh in town. One who is still not real keen on this whole pack-of-strong-Hebrews thing, and insists they remain as slaves.

So Moses is walking around by himself, probably petting a cat, trying not to get sand in his eyes, when WHOOSH!! The bush next to him catches on fire. This is the middle of the desert so spontaneous combustion isn't uncommon, I imagine. But then--get this--the bush starts talking. THIS, Moses will notice. So once he wipes himself, he realizes that this is God talking to him. And God is telling him that Moses needs to lead all the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt to their Chosen Land. Err, Promised Land. Whatever. To the land that God has been promising them somewhere between Noah and Moses, I guess. Moses, like everyone in every Bible story, basically tells the bush that what God wants sounds hard as hell and he'd really rather not. God says, "Too bad! No takesies backsies!" and goes back to Heaven.

So Moses hikes back to the Castle/Pyramid/wherever it is Pharaohs live and lets the guy know that he's going to go ahead and take all his slaves away, lol winking smiley face. No, no. What he says is, "LET MY PEOPLE GOOOOOO!" All overdramatic and with true conviction, so that the Pharaoh will concede. The Pharaoh isn't super pumped about this and tells Moses exactly where he can take the slaves (which I won't repeat here.) So Moses is like, "Alright man. You asked for it. Prepare for some freaky stuff to start happening."


Upon the people of Egypt comes a whole bunch of plagues. In no particular order (because, of course, I can't remember the order) we have:
- Frogs raining from the sky (cutest rain ever?)
- A bunch of locusts (and if you live in Chicago you know those cicadas are NOT AWESOME)
- And I think flies or some kind of bug. Those last two probably ruined the crops, and probably also made for some very lethargic rain frogs.
- Then he turned the river into blood,
- And killed all the livestock (But really, there's no water and no plants. Were the cows going to survive much longer anyway? Really?) and...
- Okay and then there were definitely a few more plagues but I don't remember them. So key part here is: Hell Hath No Fury Like A Yahweh Scorned.

The important thing is the FINAL plague. God tells the Hebrews to kill a lamb (which I guess were not part of the dead livestock thing) and spread the blood over their doors. That way, when he sends the Holy Spirit through the town that night, he'll know by the blood that the house belongs to one of his People. Because nothing screams "JEWS LIVE HERE" like a splash of lamb's blood. So the Hebrews do this, but the Egyptians do not. And that night God goes through the town and kills the first-born son of each household without the blood. SERIOUSLY the Bible is really into killing baby boys.

This final act is what convinces the Pharaoh to let Moses lead the Hebrews out of Egypt. The slaves pack up all their stuff quickly. This whole ordeal is what Passover is all about: "Passover" because God passed over the Hebrews houses. And they eat matzoh because the Hebrews didn't have time to let the bread rise. Jewish tradition knowledge gets a bit hazy from here but let me just say: matzoh + horseradish + apple butter = hhhhawesome. So yay for Moses and yay for the slaves. The end.

SIKE!!! Jaaaaaay kaaaaay. While the throngs are exodizing, the Pharaoh has a change of heart and decides to go after them. CRAP! Run, millions of people! RUN!! So they're running and the Egyptians are close behind and there are chariots involved and it's all very exciting until they get to the Red Sea. BAH! WHAT NOW? So Moses finds a rickety hanging bridge and they all get across until the last person and then the bridge falls off and the one guy just barely makes it!

SIKE AGAIN!!!! You guys are seriously gullible. No, Moses takes his staff (if you are going to lead a multitude, you will need a staff. FYI.) and he raises it in the air and he says the magic words and he plunges it into the river and God makes the river part, and the people walk across.

And here is where we must pause. Because here marks an important moment in Emily's life. It is the moment when she came to terms with a great and mighty fear. A fear which clutches her entire being. A fear which she will explain in another post. The fear...of whales.


This is another picture from The Prince of Egypt, where the people are walking past the wall of parted water, and the lightning illuminates the water. And a whale swims by. Apparently this is an awe-inspiring image to some. To me, it is bone-chillingly terrifying. If I was a slave walking by when that happened, I would be like, "Welp! That's about as much as I need to see. If anyone needs me, I will be back there, learning hieroglyphics." When I saw this moment in the movie, I think it was the first time I realized how scared I am of whales. It's been downhill since there. I will explain more later, promise.

So, amazingly, none of the Hebrews turns back around. They just keep on walking past the lightning beast. And when they all get out, the Egyptians are hot on their tail and still in the sea bed. So what does God do? Well, as a caring, loving God who appreciates all creatures great and small, he releases the parted sea and drowns every Egyptian in sight. HOORAY! *Our Godddddd is an awesome God, he reeeeeeigns from Heaven above with wiiiiiisdom power and LOVE, our God is an awesome Goddddd.*

So Moses and His People are free! Free to roam that is. Which they do. For a seriously long time. I think 40 years. Probably more? I don't really know why they can't just get over to where they've been promised. Clearly large bodies of water aren't an issue. But they roam, and I guess God gives them manna which is some kind of food. But it's pretty bland, considering he made it from rocks.

Oh, and some time during the Roaming, Moses goes up on a mountain and comes back with 10 Commandments from God. Thou shalt not kill, that kind of thing. And when Moses comes back down, he sees that people have built a golden calf and are now worshiping that instead of God. And Moses screams, "What the HELL people?! Do you realize how hard it was for me and God to get you here!?!? KILL THEM AAAAAAAAAAAAAAALL!!!"

And that (all of it) is why Moses is my homeboy.

Thanks for reading guys. Thanks for the encouragement. Thanks for existing, frankly. May I put in a little request for you--leave a comment here on the blog! It's easy! It's fun! And if you leave your first name, I'll know who wrote it! Exclamation points!


Laura said...

Well, now I have to comment. Oh, but also, you would not have put Fern Gully in there if I hadn't called you today.

Also, from this post it seems like God would be way into Pinch Poke You Owe Me A Coke. Also, he/she'd probably do that whole "pretend like there is something on your chest and then poke you in the face" gag. God thinks he's soooo funny.

Ok, this comment is turning into a mini-blog.


Anonymous said...

I hope this counts as my devotional time....I took me about as long as it did to get through the actual book of Exodus.;P
AND, as a side note, I haven't seen Fern Gully either. But today I got through Willow, Land Before Time AND All Dogs Go To Heaven. I still have Muppets take Manhatten and Nija Turtles to get through. Lova.

Laura: I love your "God thinks he's so funny" comment; it's so true. Whatta think noses are for - for God to laugh at.

Bryan said...

Hmm... suspicious... first blog entry I read and it's all about Jews and Whales. This reminds me of a certain Christmas ornament that just so happens to combine those two elements in a rather adorable way. Either we had a tremendous subconscious influence on you, or we somehow tapped into the not so distant future! I'd be fine with either, but if it's the whole tapping the future thing, well I can think of a few other areas I'd like to use that on.

But getting back on point, I will say that I rather enjoyed your retelling of this Bible story. I find your thoughts intriguing, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter. Well done. See you in the not to distant future.


sara gorsky said...

do you REMEMBER when we sang the prince of egypt song at blackburn college? BWAHAHAHA we thought we were such hot shit!


Liketohike said...

I think it's actually going to let me comment this time, and I have nothing to say. Except:
Pharoah, Pharoah! Ohhhh, baby, let my people go!

Anonymous said...

I have no idea who you are but this is fantastic. I found your blog because I was looking up cetaphobia (I think my bf has it) and I think I'm going to add your blog to my google homepage because you are quite entertaining.