Moses is a Parselmouth
January 29, 2012 Leave a comment
Heads up: there are some naked butts in this one. But also there is a cute stack of frogs.
OT: Exodus 7-10
God’s like, “Ok, Moses, you and Aaron keep hassling Pharaoh, but I’ll make him stubborn so I can show off my magic tricks. I’ll attack and bring my peeps out of there, and then the Egyptians will know who’s boss. Moses, when Pharaoh asks you to do your tricks, tell Aaron to do the staff-turning-into-a-snake thing.” So they go do the snake trick for Pharaoh, but he gets his “wise men and wizards” together and they do the same trick because of their “secret knowledge” (11). It probably went like this. Moses’s stick-snake eats all the other guys’ stick-snakes, but Pharaoh’s unimpressed. God’s like, “Ok, plan B. Go tell Pharaoh to release the peeps, and when he says no, whack the Nile with your staff and it will turn to blood and smell bad and all the fish will die and nobody will be able to drink it. That’ll be cool.” So Moses does all that, and the river turns to blood, as planned. But Pharaoh’s magician friends can do the same thing, so Pharaoh remains unimpressed. One would think the magician friends would use their “secret knowledge” to turn the river back to potable water, but no, they just make more blood. Also, did it occur to God and/or Moses that the Hebrews need to drink the Nile water too? In any case, now everybody has to dig wells to get non-bloody water. Great.
“Okay, plan C! Tell Pharaoh to release the peeps, and when he says no, I’ll rain frogs all over.” So Moses and Aaron tell Pharaoh to release the peeps, and he’s like “still no,” so Moses is like “Okay Aaron do the frog thing!” and then Aaron waves his arms around and then suddenly there are frogs all up in Egypt. But the Pharaoh’s magicians are like “look we can do it too!” and they add some more frogs. They really are just making things worse for themselves by doubling all the plagues. Anyway, Pharaoh is like, “Ok, Moses, this frog infestation is kind of gross, so if you pray to God to take the frogs away, I’ll let your peeps go to Burning Man.” Moses is like “Ok, when do you want me to pray for the frogs to go away?” Which seems like a stupid question, because obviously Pharaoh wants them gone as soon as possible, right? Wrong. Pharaoh asks Moses to pray tomorrow. Maybe he wants one more night to say goodbye to the frogs he’s befriended.
So Moses prays the frogs away. Except they don’t disappear; they all die. “Great,” Pharaoh thinks. “There’s no more hopping and ribbiting, but now my country is full of decomposing frog carcasses. Gross.” He changes his mind and doesn’t release the peeps.
God’s like, “ok, Moses, tell Aaron to use his magic wand to poke the dirt so lice show up everywhere.” I’m wondering why God doesn’t cut out the middleman and just talk to Aaron himself, or why Moses can’t do his own stunts. Anyway, Aaron does his thing, and “all the land’s dirt turned into lice throughout the whole land of Egypt” (17). Really? All the land’s dirt? If by “dirt” we mean “sand,” since this is Egypt, then the entire country is basically just made of lice now. I don’t think the society could continue to function. I’m pretty sure buildings built on writhing insect foundations would fall to the ground, people would be literally eaten alive, etc. In any case, the magicians once again try to make things worse by making lice of their own, except this time they can’t figure out how to do it, so they tell Pharaoh that this must be an act of God. But Pharaoh still refuses to release the peeps, which is pretty freaking stupid.
Next God sends insects of an unspecified nature on Egypt but spares Goshen to make it very clear who his favorites are. God calls Moses and Aaron over and he’s like, “Can’t your peeps just do their sacrifices right here?” And Moses is like, “No, because we’re going to be doing some freaky shit and when the Egyptians see it they will stone us to death. We need to go to the desert where nobody can see us.” Pharaoh is like, “Fine, you can go to the desert, but you can’t go too far, and you have to pray for me while you’re there.” Moses is like “Ok, it’s a deal. The bugs will go away tomorrow. You better not screw us over again.” So Moses goes and prays and God makes the bugs disappear but Pharaoh decides again not to release the peeps.
God has Moses warn Pharaoh that if he pursues in his dickery, all the Egyptian livestock (but none of the livestock belonging to the Israelites) will be infected with a fatal disease. Pharaoh’s like “BRING IT.” So God brings it, and all the Egyptian livestock die. But Pharaoh still won’t release the peeps. Next God has Moses throw a handful of ashes into the air which turn into soot and cover all of Egypt which somehow causes all the Egyptians (but none of the Hebrews) to break out in blisters. But Pharaoh still won’t release the peeps. Next, God threatens to rain deadly hail down on Egypt. Some people have caught on to the whole whatever-Moses-warns-us-will-happen-actually-happens pattern, so they bring all their livestock inside and huddle under their roofs. But others ignore the warnings and hang out outside with their cows and shit. Then the hail falls everywhere in Egypt (except in Goshen) and destroys everyone and everything that’s outdoors. So Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron and is like “okay! you win! you win! my bad! you can go! please stop the hail!” So Moses is like, “okay, as soon as I’m outside the city limits, I’ll make God stop the hail.” So he goes and stops the hail and then Pharaoh changes his mind and doesn’t let the Israelites leave. Which is kind of confusing, because didn’t Moses wait until he was outside the city? Did Pharaoh go bring them back? Can’t he wait to stop the hail until he gets way out into the desert instead?
Moses goes to Pharaoh and he’s like “Guess what’s next? Locusts! Locusts everywhere! Locusts eating all your trees! Locusts crawling all up in your homes! Locusts all over your children! Locusts! Locusts!” Pharaoh’s advisers are like “Um, Pharaoh, get with the program. It is time to release the peeps before Egypt is completely destroyed.” So Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron and is like “Okay, go do your sacrifices! Who all is going?” And Moses is like “All of us need to go.” And Pharaoh is like “Yeah right! I’m not letting all of you go. That’s very suspicious. You’re plotting something crafty. Your men can go, but the women and children stay here.” So God sends a locust shitstorm, and Pharaoh is like “OH GOD MAKE IT STOP I’M SO SORRY PLEASE FORGIVE ME I MESSED UP PLEASE MAKE IT STOP.” So Moses sends the locusts away, at which point Pharaoh promptly changes his mind. So then Moses turns Egypt pitch-black (except where the Israelites live) so nobody can move or see or do anything. Except somehow they are able to summon Moses and Aaron, and Pharaoh tells them all the Israelites can go to the desert – even the children – but the livestock have to stay in Egypt. But Moses is like “nope, we need to take all the animals with us, every single one, because we have to sacrifice some of them but we won’t know which ones we’re supposed to sacrifice until we get there.” And Pharaoh is like “well that sounds made up.” And he decides he’s done with Moses’s bullshit and sends him away and threatens him with death if he ever sees him again.
Magic staffs! Transfiguration! Freaky natural disasters! It’s like Harry Potter and The Happening by J.K. Shyamalan!
Also: Perseverance! Plucky underdogs! The American Dream!
At one point, somewhere between the blisters and the hail, God sends Pharaoh the following message through Moses:
By now I could have used my power to strike you and your people with a deadly disease so that you would have disappeared from the earth. But I’ve left you standing for this reason: in order to show you my power and in order to make my name known in the whole world. (15-16)
See, it’s easy to get carried away by the Passover story of slavery and abolition and magical retribution and hard-won freedom and the escape through the desert and so on. But the social justice narrative you usually hear is a far cry from the way the story is actually told in scripture. It’s not a battle of God against Pharaoh, or oppressor against oppressed; God makes Pharaoh stubbornly refuse to free the Israelites in order to achieve his real goal, which is to show off his power and “make [his] name known in the whole world.” In this light, God looks a little less like Abraham Lincoln and a little more like Tamburlaine.
OT: Psalms 13-14
God, how long do I have to suffer? Why aren’t you helping me? Come back and save me from enemies! I still trust you because you’ve been faithful.
Fools say in their hearts,
There is no God.
They are corrupt and do evil things;
not one of them does anything good. (1)
God looks to see if there are any good humans – nope, zero. Those jerks attacking my faithful people must be stupid to not be on God’s side. Eventually they’ll freak out when they see how wrong they were. God’s gonna make us win in the end!
Nope. I still hate the psalms.
Really, not a single person on earth is good? Psalm 14 says that God “look down from heaven on humans” to see if any of them are good, “but all of them have turned bad….No one does good – not even one person!” (2-3). But then in the next verse the narrator talks about “my people” (4), who are “the righteous generation” (5). Um…you might want to check your math there. Also, whenever Christians are like “don’t worry I’m not bigoted enough to think that atheists can’t be good people!” I’m like “okay well that’s nice of you but your God seems to disagree since he says that ‘not one of [us] does anything good’…but thanks?”
NT: Matthew 21
…is for tomorrow.