Moral and Responsible Behavior Between Judges and Ruth

In: Religion Topics

Submitted By boutme2015
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EGYPTIAN SLAVERY AND THE TOWER OF BABEL SHEILA TULLER KEITER The Book of Exodus begins the story of Israel's enslavement in Egypt. A new pharaoh rises to power, one who did not know Joseph (Ex. 1:8). This new pharaoh ushers in a new regime and new policies. He embarks on a national program of enslavement and subjugation. Yet these policies are not as original as one might think, for they are reminiscent of the social-political experiment of another great building society, the people who built the Tower of Babel. The Torah deliberately links these two societies and passes judgment on both. The new pharaoh begins by bringing his cause to the Egyptian people, making the following pitch: 'Look, the Israelite people are much too numerous for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, so that they may not increase; otherwise, in the event of war, they may join our enemies in fighting against us and go up from the land' (Ex. 1:9-10). As presented in the text, the pharaoh's logic is hard to discern. His solution to the problem of Israel's burgeoning population is persecution and enslavement, rather than expulsion or genocide (Ex. 1:11). If they are too many, why not just kill them? Pharaoh does eventually order the killing of all the male babies born to the Hebrews, but only after his first policy prescription results in an Israelite population boom (Ex. 1:12, 16). Furthermore, if the Israelites represent a potential fifth column, why is Pharaoh afraid that they will leave the land? He should welcome their departure. Slavery, in and of itself, is not a reliable form of birth control. Nor does it engender the loyalties of the subjected population. Perhaps population control and national security were not Pharaoh's true aims. He was able to justify his subjugation of the Israelites with this pretext, but the lack of logic in his reasoning suggests that his…...

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