I’ve never seen Disney’s Prince of Egypt nor all of Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, so I knew little about Exodus. I knew to expect the parting of the red sea at some point though—I’d been through the tour on the Universal Studios lot several times (where The Ten Commandments was filmed).
Unlike the expanse of Genesis, I appreciated the narrowed focus on Moses and his journey. This particular tale has all the elements of an interesting movie (which is why it’s been used for film material several times before—and coming soon, as it turns out). Here we have the hero archetype, and he undertakes quite a lot.
Exodus opens with Moses’ birth, which happens—shockingly—during unfavorable conditions. The new ruler of Egypt was paranoid about the size of the Israelite population, so he decrees that all newborn male Israelites must be killed. (These people simply cannot catch a break during these times.) Moses’ mother (when he’s three months old) sends him down the Nile river in a wicker basket. Luckily, said basket finds its way to the Pharaoh’s daughter, who rescues him and raises him as her own. I wondered where Moses’ father was, but he’s not mentioned.
They could have this story Indecision and been just as respectful of the content. Seems like no one has any confidence in themselves, their decisions, or even God. Even God changes his mind.
Moses grows to be a righteous man (naturally). Drama begins for him when he kills an Egyptian for hitting a Hebrew. (Though without more details, it’s hard to see if he was just here.) He flees to hide for his crime—sort of like Michael Corleone escaping to Italy in The Godfather, but different—where he marries and fathers a son. Once the Pharaoh dies, the enslaved Israelites need help, so God approaches Moses: you will lead your people out of Egypt. Moses, however, isn’t sure he’s the guy for the job. You’d think that if God told you that he had your back, you’d be fine. Of course, if I heard God’s voice through a burning bush, I might also have my doubts. So begins the first of many indecisions.
Side note: Given all of God’s powers, it seems strange what he chooses to communicate through, but there it is. I guess the point is convincing the hearer who he is, but still. I couldn’t stop thinking about a brief scene in The 3 Amigos that has a burning bush. Now I get the joke.
So Moses eventually agrees, albeit reluctantly. But not before the angry God resurfaces and performs some miracles to convince Moses. It also seems strange that if you were having a conversation with a burning bush that you would need more evidence, but again, I digress. But God is perhaps unsure of his own savior choice, for while Moses is en route, God tries to kill Moses (for some reason). Perhaps he was irked about not being believed the first time. Since everything in this book has to be communicated at least eight times, you’d think God would be more patient (or at least tolerant).
The indecision here is understandable though, right? For this to work as a story—one from which people learn—there has to be some resistance. If God had come down, told Moses what to do and he gets it done, the human element gets lost and the hero doesn’t get tested. Therefore, having him doubt himself only to discover that he can pull it off does create a good lesson. If I were cynical, I might question how much credit Moses should really get though, seeing as how God was pulling the strings.
Watching him deal with Pharaoh once he gets to Egypt, however, is enough to want to make you bash your head against the wall. Now there is someone who absolutely can’t make up his mind.