Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1997
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 3: Disruptive Truths of God’s Kingdom
Chapter 3: The Exodus: The Disruptive Truth of Israel’s Separation from Egypt
Lesson 45 – Introduction to Exodus
09 Jan 1997
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
Tonight we are going to get into the Exodus proper. We have pretty well finished the call of Abraham although I am going to spend some time in Genesis tonight as a prelude to the Exodus situation. I remind you that reading the Old Testament is a very necessary exercise if your diet has been exclusively New Testament, because the New Testament presupposes that you have read the Old Testament. The addressees of the New Testament when it was written, when it was preached, were all basically Jewish who knew their Old Testament very well. So the New Testament writers assume that you know things about the Old Testament. When I was a new Christian I felt kind of stupid when I could look in the margins and it would say refer to such and such in 2 Kings and I barely knew there was a 2 Kings. That got me to thinking about this Old Testament so I spent many years in working with the Old Testament. In fact, when I went to graduate school I majored in a lot of Old Testament studies just to overcome my own weakness because I had no preparation, no background in it.
As we go into the Exodus we are going to encounter a similar thing that we encountered before with the creation, fall, flood and covenant. While we are dealing with those events last year we said if the Scriptures are the Scripture then they are the authoritative interpretation of history. Therefore, all the data has to fit the Scripture, not the other way around. And we said often times evangelical people do this, they will follow a study of biology, or geology or astrophysics or something like that, they will accept the whole framework as factual and then they will try to fit the Scripture in that. Then they wonder why there is a problem and what we have learned in church history is that every time we do that we wind up shooting ourselves in the foot. What we do is start off and interpret all the data, the so called secular data as well as the sacred data in the light of Scripture. We said that if we are Bible-believing Christians, we are very offensive to conscientious biologists, physicists, etc. they look upon us as sort of radical because we really disbelieve their whole structure.
That same probably is going to happen here, there is a mention in the notes handed out that the Exodus event can’t be found in secular history the way secular history is, if the Exodus happened, it happened inside of a closet somewhere. But we are going to show you that if you reanalyze the data you will quickly see that yes, the Exodus did happen; yes, the Egyptians remembered it, and yes, there were reports of the plagues written down by Egyptians. However, the way secular history is constructed, that is masked, so we will get into that, I am just warning you. I said when I started this whole five year tour that you would see the same thing over and over again and once you master the way of thinking, you will see that this occurs again and again, whether you are in Genesis or in Exodus or whether you are in the resurrection of Christ, it is always the same story, it is always the fact that the secular person or the pagan thinker has put all his marbles in a pattern and then tried to fit the bottle into the pattern and then said, ooh the bottle doesn’t fit, so the bottle is wrong. Where we come along is where we tip the whole bottle of marbles over, and start all over. And obviously that is radical, so the same thing happens here in the Exodus.
We have basically two things to cover. One is that going into the Exodus event, going into this time period, we have a problem with Abraham and his family and we have to look at Egyptian culture. Let me give you a little outline of the way the secular person looks at ancient history. Why are we bothering with all this about history and what happened in history? Because we said that the Bible is a witness in the court. Whenever you have a contract, it is a legal document and that contract specifies behavior. If you have a contract with an automobile dealer, you don’t expect to buy a lemon and he is held to certain things in the contract. And when you buy a house, you don’t expect to have the roof fall in the next week. So contracts are important because they specify behavior. The Old Testament, through Abraham, is a contract and God has His behavior patterns specified in that contract, so if He doesn’t behave the way the contract says, then He is not a faithful God. How do you measure God’s faithfulness? You have to have a yardstick and that’s the Bible is in its covenant structure. That’s why, from our point of view, we have Abraham and we have this Abrahamic Covenant. We have this Abrahamic Covenant promising a sea, a land and a worldwide blessing and this land is promised to this seed. Now the issue is going to be, does this land get into the hands of the seed, and who are the seed? We said we have to watch the terms of the contract.
The Abrahamic Contract has two levels to it. In the Old Testament the seed is Israel, and the land is the land of Canaan. That much is very clear. However, the Abrahamic Covenant makes an eternal promise and that is that the seed of Abraham will dwell in the land forever. The last book of the Bible, when the new heavens and the new earth were constructed, they were constructed around Jerusalem, which is the capital city of the land. So this land promise goes into eternity. Therefore, this land promise, while it is true in the Old Testament, it becomes eternally secure and true forever and ever in the book of Revelation. The seed is Israel, and throughout Israel’s history she gets kicked out of the land, then there is a return, then there is Christ, and the question is: who constitutes the seed? And Paul specifies in Romans that the seed is the regenerate people who are miraculously born through Abraham some way. For example, it starts off with Abraham and his first son, Isaac. That’s his first son, but he was miraculously born the first son, so it’s not just the physical seed of Abraham, it is a subset of that.
On to the time you get to Jesus Christ. And then, because we are adopted sons of Jesus Christ, we share in that seed promise. That’s how Galatians puts it together. But what are we aiming at here? What we are saying is that this plan is the plan of God that is sovereignly secure. It is not going to go away. Satan is not going to be able to stop it; nothing stops the sovereign plan of God. History is His story. That means that somewhere, somehow, this seed is going to multiply and go into the land. The Exodus is the step through which the seed becomes more than a family; it becomes a family and now a nation. So you go from one individual to a family, to a nation. The seed is growing, and the Exodus is the report that God is on the move. Exodus says there’s a pattern to history. You might want to note this in the notes before we get into the details of Abraham’s family.
Here is a little point of conversation, trivia, but it is really not trivia. When somebody talks to you about history, why don’t you sometime ask them, who do you think was the first person who wrote history? In school, you know what the answer is; in social studies they always taught you that the first historian was Herodotus. Thucydides was a historian. And these guys were Greeks in the 4th and 5th century before Christ and they said those were the first people to really compile history, before that, men did not have … they had tails, they had myths, but they didn’t really have history. That is the secular story. But you know that’s wrong? Do you know why it’s wrong? Because the Bible in Moses day set forth the framework for a history. Now it’s true, Moses reported Genesis, etc. but what I mean here is that beginning with the Exodus, we have a national historical experience. We have a certain pattern to this nation. It’s outlined in Abraham in the covenant, it’s going to be amplified in the Mosaic Covenant and that means that the men who live after Moses are going to look back to these contractual agreements and measure the performance of this nation of Israel. Therefore, beginning with the next book after the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, after the Pentateuch is finished, the very next book is the first history book, the book of Joshua. Why is that? Because Joshua is recording God on the move and it is an interpretation from God’s viewpoint of what is going on with this nation? It is a divine viewpoint of history. Joshua occurred and that whole narration, about 1400 BC. When did this secular person’s social studies course tell you was the first historian, Herodotus in the vicinity of 400 BC? Wrong, by a thousand years.
Joshua, the men who put the book of Joshua together, people who lived in the era of judges, these are prophets unknown to us but they were nameless prophets in the nation of Israel who gathered together these materials and wrote the first history. It was written in the 13th century BC. So we are talking about a thousand years before the Greeks, there was a history and historians would study this. People do not like to hear about this because they say, well, that’s religious history. When they use that word “a religious history” they get this tone to their voice and what they really mean is it’s a crummy history, it’s an unreliable history, it’s a history filled with myths, it’s not a real history. Well I beg to differ with you. The reason that it’s history and why these men were interested in history is because they were monitoring the performance of God in history. Their historical interest derived from a fundamental belief that by studying history you learned about God. History had meaning, in other words, because God had a plan. Forever that has been the motive for history; today, you hear it all over the place that we are losing our sense of history.
The Jews, particularly in our country are very concerned that here we are a generation, less than a generation, removed from the Holocaust and we have got kids in the public school system that don’t even know that the Holocaust happened. Some are even denying that it even ever happened. And the last remnants of the people that experienced the Holocaust are in their 80s, they are in the nursing home, they are dying and when these people are dead in the next ten years, there will be no eyewitness observers left to the Holocaust. Watch what happens. The reason for this constant harassment about history today is that people are convinced that there isn’t any meaning to history, so why bother to study it? Doesn’t that make sense? I think it does make sense, if you start off with the assumption that there is no meaning out there, why get excited, why not play a video game? But if in fact, history is HIS story, we ought to be very concerned with history. It ought to excite us, because history is the providential outworking of our Father’s plan. We ought to be the students of history. We ought to be excited about learning history. So, just a side as we move into the Exodus.
Let’s open our Bibles to Genesis because we’ve gone through Abraham and we want to quickly show a problem that developed in this family, starting in Genesis 37. In Genesis 37-50, we have a narration of the behavior of the first Jewish family, not very exciting. The reason that we are looking at this is because this is why there had to be an Exodus. You cannot have an Exodus until you have an entrance. There had to be an entrance into Egypt to solve a problem that Abraham’s family had. Let’s think of the generations now. Abraham, his son was Isaac and his son was Jacob. Does anybody know the altar name of Jacob, his other name in the Bible? Israel. When you use the word Israel, are you aware of the fact that you are really talking about a man’s name. It would be like saying America is Washington. We use the city of Washington, but sometimes we are so familiar with the use of the word Washington DC as a city, we forget that it is a man. And so, we use the word Israel so often that we forget that it’s a guy, that’s Israel, Jacob. And then Jacob had many sons and these became the tribes. We want to examine what is happening to this family. Keep in mind that the Abraham covenant says this family has a destiny and God in his sovereignty will fulfill the destiny of this family. The problem we always wind up with in religious circles is that we tend to be self-righteous. That God does great things with us because we are so great and He just has to walk along because we are so lily white and we do everything so much the right way that that is why we are blessed. Now as we look at the text of Genesis 37, let’s see how lily white and how perfect this family was.
In Genesis 37 we have the story of Joseph, notice verse 2 he was a teenager, 17 years old. He was working out with his brothers and in verse 3, “Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons.” Now there is a problem right there with the family. Were those sons, all sons of the same woman? No so now we have got…what is the politically correct term today? A blended family. So, we have a blended family here. That’s fine, obviously divorce happens and so forth, but what we are saying here is that we live in a fallen universe. Those kind of marital problems happen, and what we’re seeing is the fallout from it. We have a family that is mixed, different mothers, same father and for verse 3, we now have the father starting a problem because he prefers one son over the other. Now a father may do that, but it is very uncomfortable to everybody else in the family.
Verse 4 reports that all the other guys in the family realize that their dad had preferences, plus the fact he was the youngest son. Notice in verse 4, wonderful family love and fellowship, “so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.” So now we have the dysfunctional family operating. It goes on and describes them and by the time the whole thing is through, the end of this chapter, chapter 37 deals with an attempted murder of Joseph. How’s that for a nice righteous family that just is so good and so perfect that God has to work with them. See the issue isn’t that, the issue is God’s plan. It is always what God is going to do, not what we’re doing. Of course, what we are doing matters, but just look at the big picture here. What did God say He was going to do? He was going to do a work in history. And here’s the material He worked with. I find it encouraging frankly that He uses this kind of material to work with. That means He can use me. So, watch what happens in this family.
Let’s go to Genesis 38:1, another installment from the family diary; this one is a real ripper. “And it came about at that time, that Judah departed from his brothers, and visited a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah.  And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shuah; and he took her and went into her.  So she conceived and bore a son and he named him Er.  Then she conceived again bore a son and named him Onan.  And she bore still another son and named it Shelah; and, it was at Chezib that she bore him.  Now Judah took a wife for Er first-born and her name was Tamar,  But Er, Judah’s first-born was evil in the sight of the LORD, so the LORD took his life.  Then Judah said to Onan, ‘Go into your brother’s wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her and raise up the offspring for your brother.’ ” This was part and parcel of the way that families propagated in the ancient world.  “And Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so it came about that when he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed in the ground, in order not to give offspring to his brother.  But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD; so He took his life also.  Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law, Tamar, ‘Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son, Shelah grows up,’ for he thought, I am afraid that he too may die like his brothers.”
Notice the wonderful relationship that everybody has here in this spiritual adventure. It goes on, and finally we come down to a scene where Judah has basically lied to Tamar, he has made her a promise and he violates the promise. So in verse 14 she decides to disguise herself to sit by the road. The Hebrew has a very interesting thing in this passage and I want you to see a word that is used here. Genesis 38:15, “When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, for she had covered her face.  So he turned aside to her by the road, and said, ‘here now, let me come into you’;” for he did not know, she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, ‘what will you give me that, you may come into me?’  He said, therefore, ‘I will send you a kid from the flock.’ She said, moreover, ‘Will you give me a pledge until you send it?’  And he said, ‘what pledge shall I give you?’ And she said ‘Your seal and your cord and your staff that is in your hand.’ ”
What he is doing is that men in those days had a credit card; and around their neck was this string and it went through this cylinder. That cylinder had their name on it and when they signed a document, it would be in soft clay and they would roll that cylinder through the clay, then they’d bake the clay and that would be the record. This is what Judah had and Tamar is shrewd. She says, “give me your credit card. I want a pledge.” This perfectly identifies who he is. Verse 19, “Then she arose and departed, and removed her veil and put on her widow’s garments.  When Judah sent the kid by his friend the Adullamite, to receive the pledge from the woman’s hand, he did not find her.  And he asked the men of her place, saying….” Look at the translation in verse 21, I’m not sure of your translation but there is a critical little note here. If you have the new ASV, you will see that they have translated the word for harlot in verse 21 differently than they translated the word in verse 15. The word for harlot in verse 15 is harlot, but the word in verse 21 is a technical term that meant a prostitute in a Canaanite religious cults. This was a high-classed professional religious prostitute. So he thinks that Tamar is one of those!
What’s so fascinating is, what did you observe in the early parts of Genesis when Abraham sought a daughter for his son, where did he go and why? He sent out his servant to find a woman for his son, not among the native inhabitants. Why did he do that? Separation from the culture. The same thing went on in this generation, Isaac and Jacob. It got a little messy with Jacob, but still the idea was that he went north to get out of this Canaanite culture. The girls were nice but they were all pagan girls. So you don’t mess with them, you go back to the Semitic girls and that’s who we want our sons to marry. Well, isn’t it remarkable that as you move from this point, to this point, to this point, now down to here, look what you’re observing. Do you see the degeneration that is happening? This is a man who doesn’t even care about intermingling, not just with the Canaanites, but with the prostitutes of the Canaanite religion, a complete apostasy in his faith, apart from the moral problem, we have a religious problem in here in the text. People always read Genesis 38 like it is a moral problem and it is a moral problem, but it is deeper and more profound than that, it’s a religious problem. He is intermingling with Canaanite religion, which he should have known all along to be separate from this. We can go on and describe what happened there.
If you look at chapter 39, we immediately start digging up the Joseph cycle. From Genesis 39 all the way to the end deals with the drama of Joseph and this introduces Egypt. That’s why Genesis leads to Exodus. In this story, who is it that forced the Jews to go to Egypt? The Jews. Who sent Joseph down there in the first place? It was these clowns that tried to kill him and then screwed up and didn’t want to because… by the way Judah, remember he was the brother that intervened and said you’re not going to do this to my baby brother. He stepped in, because the other guys were ready to kill him, and he stepped in and stopped it. Then they passed it off as a fake murder to the dad. Joseph goes down there and the result of the drama is that he goes down there, the Lord works him through a prison and resurrects him and by the way, that’s a picture of death and resurrection in case you didn’t notice that theme. Here you have Joseph, he dies as it were, he goes to prison, but when he gets out of prison, he doesn’t come back to the same level he was, as a servant, he is elevated to become assistant and vicar to Pharaoh himself and it’s a picture of a man being elevated. Remember we said that justification as a picture doesn’t just forgive the past, but adds positive righteousness. Here is another example of this, another point of history. By the way, who is the Joseph of history? Is he known in history by another name? And, when we get into the end of this, I will show you some appendix where some guys re-think that they have identified Joseph—only if you have realigned history. His name was Amenhotep, and he was a man who lived in a time of great, great famine in Egypt, and he had power equal to the Pharaoh unknown in all of Egyptian history. So he stands out as a Joseph figure.
So we have this time period here from Genesis 39 to the end of the document and when the brothers come to Joseph at the end of this and they are in utter repentance or remorse for what they have done, completely humbled by this whole thing, we have a famous line in the last chapter. Turn to Genesis 50:20, here is the theme of the historical analysis of the meaning of the suffering of this family. It’s an eloquent portrayal of the power of God, evil and its sovereign purposes. Genesis 50:20, “And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” In other words, Joseph was able to forgive, not because he got gooey feelings for his brothers. The thing that enabled Joseph to forgive and relax, and not get his soul torn up with knots over this thing, how he’d been almost killed by his brothers, hated, ridiculed by his brothers and we can also say if you read the Joseph narratives carefully, he was kind of a brat in his younger years, but what enabled him to get through that without tying his soul up in knots was the fact that he realized God had accomplished a purpose through that and he was happy. It made him happy to realize that he was a component of a movement of God in history. So this is an eloquent verse, it’s worth memorizing and writing down in the margin somewhere. Genesis 50:20, God meant it for good, you meant it for evil. It’s the Romans 8:28 of the Old Testament. Wonderful verse!
I think we have looked here at enough of Abraham. I do want to point out, if you turn back to Genesis 12:8 a moment, I want to show you something else that shows the degeneration of this family and a certain movement. I wish this was a study of Genesis, but we have to go on very fast. In Genesis 12:8 you will notice a characteristic of the man, Abraham. “Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west, and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD.”
Another observation about Abraham, Genesis 13:18, “Then Abraham moved his tent and came and dwelled by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there be built an altar to the LORD.” Genesis 21:33, “Abraham planted a tamarisk tree and Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.” What is Abraham’s characteristic lifestyle? Giving testimony, giving testimony to God. How many times do you read of Isaac and Jacob doing that? Once in a while. How many times do you read these guys doing that? Never! God speaks to Abraham face to face, comes and visits him, remember, the angel, and they come and they share supper with him. Isaac has vivid dreams and I think there are one or two Theophanies. Jacob mostly has dreams, and by the time you get to Joseph, it’s all dreams and no Theophany. What do you notice happening? The family is getting more and more corrupt and God is pulling away. There is less and less intimacy with God. So we’ve got four generations here, four generations of a family: great grandfather, grandfather, father and son, four generations. And only in four generations, the first chosen family has gotten to the point where they are murdering each other, lying to each other, hating each other, and basically blowing it, all over the place! A totally dysfunctional family. If God operated on the principle that we do, He would have said, trash them, let’s start over. But God doesn’t do that. God pins Himself down, He said I have chosen to work with this family, and now I am sticking with it, pretty gross, but I’m sticking with it.
So now He brings Abraham’s son, the seed, through which the Messiah is going to come, and He takes them to Egypt. We want to look at Egypt. Why Egypt? Why not take them east to the Babylonian plain? Why not take them South to Egypt? We have to ask the question before we get to the Exodus from Egypt, we have to get to why was there an entrance into Egypt? Why this, from which He pulls them out. If He had to pull them out, why did He send them down there in the first place? There’s got to be a meaning and a purpose to this decision. We have a hint in the Abrahamic Covenant itself in Genesis 15. When God was talking to them in Genesis15:13, “And God said to Abraham, Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.  But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions.  “And as for you, you shall go to your father in peace…,” etc.
Then he has this cryptic remark in verse 16 that people read quickly and don’t pause carefully, to observe the text. “Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” The Amorites were the Canaanites. They were the people who dwelt not in Egypt, but in Palestine and God is saying these people, these Canaanite people are getting more and more and more corrupt! Where were Abraham and his family living? In Canaan. And what was happening to them? They were getting more and more and more corrupt. And what God is doing here? He is letting the Amorites get completely corrupt and what will happen to them? The Amorites and the Canaanites, in one of the most hotly debated passages of Scripture, the thing that offends anybody that has had any kind of awareness of the Old Testament, particularly if they have taken a course in religion or something. The holy war! You have the extermination of the Canaanites, the Amorites. Not only the men were killed, the women were killed, the babies were killed, and the animals were killed, a total extermination of a society. Talk about genocide!
This was a divinely ordered genocide that is very highly controversial. How could the God of love order the death of these people? But, he says here in verse 16, I am going to let them degenerate, by the fourth generation they will become so corrupt, that they will be ripe for My judgment, and I will remove them from the face of the earth. What do you suppose would have happened had He left the Jews there? By four generations, there wouldn’t be any difference, and there wasn’t. What do we see Judah doing? Going in and having sex with a Canaanite prostitute. So they have to be extracted from there.
God says in verse 13, I am going to take them to another place, “a land that is not theirs,” which means that it is going to be outside of Canaan, outside of this caldron of corruption, to “a land that is not theirs.” It’s interesting that he describes the Egyptians in verse 13 differently than the Amorites in verse 16. The Amorites clearly seem to be a real degenerate group that we know ultimately will be exterminated, but in verse 13 the Egyptians aren’t quite described that way. The Egyptians are described as people who will oppress, they will serve, they will separate themselves. We haven’t got time to go into the passage but even in Joseph’s day when he invites his brothers in, the Egyptians have the Jews sitting over here and the Egyptians, in polite society sit over here. We can describe the following in summary what happened here. Why did He send them in here? He sent them into Egypt to a deliberately segregated society. The Egyptians did not accept Semites. He put them into a segregated environment where they couldn’t amalgamate themselves; they couldn’t be culturally lost in the Egyptian milieu, because the Egyptians would not accept them. The Egyptians would oppress them, but the Egyptians would not accept them. They couldn’t be good Egyptians; they would never be acceptable.
By the way, the Jew has always had that problem! The Jews in France, if you know history and particularly the French history, you have probably heard of the Dreyfus case where Captain Dreyfus of the French Army tried to amalgamate himself as a Frenchman, tried so desperately, as Jews did in France, to become Frenchman and forget their Jewishness. And then came the Dreyfus case and here was the French government picking on this Jewish military person, making a spectacle of him. And it was from the rise of that; there was a young reporter in that courtroom that watched the court martial of Dreyfus. He later became the man who started Zionism. And the Jewish movement from modern Israel got started in a French courtroom, because the Jews of Europe realized after that they could not hide themselves, they couldn’t be Frenchman, they couldn’t be Germans, they couldn’t be Czechoslovakian, they could not amalgamate. Everywhere they went in Europe, they were always despised, they were always separated.
It’s the same thing here with Egypt, so we want to look a little at the structure of the Egyptian society. On page 44 of the notes I quote Hosea 11:1. The rest of the class I am going to pretty well follow the outline and notes, not that we’re not interested in this text of Scripture, but I’ve got to go through this pretty fast. “Egypt was chosen by God as the womb for ‘out of Egypt’ would God ‘call his son’, (Hosea 11:1).” In Hosea 11:1 the son is the nation Israel. What analogue in the life of Jesus Christ fulfills this thing? There was a little event not mentioned usually around Christmas stories, but there is an event in Christ’s life most of us remember around Christmas. What did Herod try to do? He tried to kill all the babies, right? Genocide.
Where did Joseph and Mary go to get out from Herod? Egypt. Then after that they came back and that little sojourn, not noticed too often, is the signal that this baby boy is following the pattern of the great nation of Israel. Israel went down to Egypt to escape the evil of the land, and at the proper time, she re-emerged and came back into the land. Jesus, as a young baby, was taken into the womb of Egypt and protected. And in the books of prophecy in the Bible, though there is great judgment given against Gentile nations, Egypt is always treated differently than the other nations, always a special thing. Isn’t it remarkable in the time of President Carter that the one nation that has made a treaty with Israel is Egypt, no one else. So the pattern continues right before our faces. Egypt is a special nation, she’s pagan, she’s not Jewish, but somehow, she always has a role in Jewish history.
However, in the notes it says that “From its founding by Ham’s son Mizraim until the Exodus a thousand years later, Egypt functioned like a ‘Gentile Millennium,’ featuring the most artistic and highest level of paganism in the world. As the most prominent remnant of the Hamitic Tower of Babel scheme, Egypt is referred to throughout the Scripture by Satan symbols: ‘Leviathan’, ‘Rahab,’ and the ‘Dragon,’ ” and I give all those references if you want to check them out. “Nevertheless, Egypt is never treated in the Bible as fit for total destruction as Canaan and Babylon are, apparently because she never so completely rejected God’s revelation as those nations.” Now we want to look at the artwork of Egypt. You have those four diagrams? And I have some of them here [blank spot]
Dr. Frankfurt, who I quote on the bottom of page 44, I just want you to follow that quote a moment, because this Frankfurt was an Egyptologist from the University of Chicago. University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins probably have the top two departments in Egyptology in the world. “The Egyptian belief was that the universe is changeless and that all apparent opposites must, therefore, hold each other in equilibrium. Such a belief has definite consequences in the field of moral philosophy. It puts a premium on whatever exists with a semblance of permanence. It excludes ideas of progress, utopias of any kind, revolutions, and any other radical changes in existing conditions.” Take your pencil and underline that little phrase, “it excludes ideas of progress, utopias of any kind, revolutions, and any other radical changes in existing conditions”’ it is an axiom of ancient Egyptian thought. What do you think the Exodus was? “In this way the belief in a static universe enhances, for instance, the significance of established authority.” Again underline “established authority.” Who was it that Moses had to deal with again and again?
All right, we want to look at some of the Egyptian art forms, because we want to watch this theme. The first one I am going to show you I didn’t get in the book. A little comment about Egyptian art: for a long time I thought gee, these Egyptian artists were kind of stupid. You have to interpret this with a certain kind of understanding, and the nearest thing that I can count in our everyday experience to this kind of art is if you look on the editorial page of the Baltimore Sun or something, you will see political cartoons. Have you ever noticed how a political cartoonist draws the faces of people? Oftentimes they will make a cartoon of a politician as having wings or something like that and he is trying to extend a message. Now if you were a person that was digging in Hartford County a thousand years from now and you dug up a copy of the Baltimore Sun and you saw that this was a representation of Hartford culture in the 1990s and you said to yourselves, gee look at this picture! And you saw this cartoon, and you look at the other funny pages at the other cartoons and those art forms look real. Then you go to this political cartoon and you say gee, they believe the guy had wings. You mean a President had wings. Was the artist crazy? No, it would be a total misinterpretation of that caricature. Right? What is the cartoonist trying to do when he does that? He’s trying to give you a message about the person’s character, that’s what that is.
Nobody in Egypt believed the Pharaoh had the head of a falcon. What that is giving us, however, is a message, that is an artistic rendition of the forces, character and place of Pharaoh. The falcon, remember, idolatry always makes God into an image of the creation. The falcon had a certain nature to him, aggressive, free, able to fly, not two-dimensional existence but three-dimensional existence. They were fascinated here; notice the serpent and the sun. Remember Yul Brynner in the film always has the serpent on his headgear? These were three depictions of the forces of nature and by drawing those like that, what they were saying is that Pharaoh, himself, is part of this great system of forces in nature. So he was seen as more than a man. He was seen as an integration point for society and for meaning. All of Egyptian society was integrated and sort of centered on the idea that Pharaoh was the mediator between heaven and earth.
If you look at one of those art forms there, that first one, which was a comb, a ladies comb, found in an Egyptian tomb, and the falcon god shows up three ways there. It shows up here, way in the top in a boat going across the sky and there again it was sort of like the sun and the falcon together because of this imagery, this image they had of the falcon. Then you have these wings. Again the appearance of this falcon god, who is now the sky. And then we have the falcon sitting here on top of this box. And these marks are translated to be the name of a Pharaoh. So here we have the Pharaoh, we have the sky, we have the sun, all united as one integrated system. Notice the sign for life. New Age people like this in their jewelry, but actually that was a sign of eternal life to the Egyptian art form and it’s Pharaoh that gives life. Then you will notice on the side of this comb that there are these two scepters. And these are the scepters that mean ordered welfare, peaceful society. So the message on this lady’s comb is a religious political cartoon depicting Egyptian beliefs about society, that all of nature is to be integrated, we obtain our peace and our welfare by having a smoothly running society with no changes in it, that Pharaoh is the absolute control.
This is why if you look on page 45 of the notes I quote again Frankfurt. Now it is another art form, but look at that quote, “[Pharaoh] was the fountainhead of all authority, all power, and all wealth. The famous saying of Louis XIV, “Le taus se moir” was levity and presumption when it was uttered, but could have been offered by Pharaoh and was a statement of fact in which subjects concurred. It would have summed up adequately [Egyptian] political philosophy.” Pharaoh was the state. In the Egyptian language there is no word for state, there is only a word for Pharaoh. Pharaoh is the state. If Pharaoh dies and something happens to Pharaoh, it ruptures the fabric of society. The Egyptians feared for chaos; they must not have chaos. Their answer to chaos was a strong authority of government centered in Pharaoh. Probably, by the way, this idea got started in Joseph’s day. What did the Pharaoh do in Joseph’s day? He saved the world. And what did he also do? He controlled all the land. After the famine, the Pharaoh became god walking on earth, because be controlled all the property. There was no freedom left.
Just a few other things on some of these artworks. Here is that pillar and the thing to think about on that pillar is, look carefully, at first glance when you look at this art you think is a straight line running down there. But look with your eye very carefully at how the artist stopped the line here, he stopped the line there, and he stopped the line here and he stopped the line there. Those lines do not connect, look at them again. They are not straight lines. They are the same thing that this woman had on her comb. They are those scepters. And those scepters are the sign of order, peace, and welfare. Now you notice the symbol up at the top: the sun. And down at the bottom, the last hieroglyph, there is a serpent there. But all those hieroglyphs from top to bottom depict the name of the Pharaoh. You know what that pillar is saying? That Pharaoh is the mediator between heaven and earth. See he formed a very powerful role in their religion and political belief and I give you all this background so when you read the book of Exodus you get a better feel for what’s happening here. It is not just two guys knocking it together, Moses and Pharaoh; it’s a lot more than that. It’s two completely different political, philosophic and religious beliefs that are in collision at the Exodus.
This is the other art form that you see in the notes, and what’s significant here was that Pharaoh appears with two gods and Egyptians artists didn’t use prospective in their drawing. And they had this kind of two-dimensional shape, so in Egyptian art; the size of the figure isn’t the closeness of him to you. The size of the figure in the Egyptian art is the importance of the figure. So by drawing Pharaoh, and if you notice the artist has drawn a line across the head of the god over to the head of this god, Pharaoh’s head actually is higher. The artist actually drew Pharaoh taller than the gods. So here we have a statement that Pharaoh lives, walks, breathes, in the realm of the gods. Deification, total deification of the leader!
If we look on page 45, I want to comment on the role of the sun and the serpent, this first one that we looked at. Drawing C, which is another one that does the same thing as this drawing, the serpent and the sun. “Drawing C shows how closely the sun and serpent appear in Egyptian art. Apparently to the Egyptian mind the sun and the snake shared certain characteristics: both move without normal means of propulsion. The sun illuminated the physical world; and if pieces of primitive were remembered in distorted form, the snake ‘illuminated’ the spiritual world…” By the way, a real spooky passage. Do you remember years ago, Jean Dixon, she was a lady that wrote all these books on prophecy and I forgot what her best seller was, but her first best seller, she had them all on the newsstands and everywhere you go and you saw in the supermarket, Jean Dixon Predicts whatever this book was. And you look at the first chapter and she is trying to tell you how she gets started in seeing her visions. She said I had a dream one night and a serpent appeared to me in this dream and he looked at me with his two eyes and I looked in to behold his eyes and they were full of wisdom. Now, lady did you ever read Genesis? So, here we have the same serpent symbol associated with wisdom and illumination. So what you’ve got here, probably, in these things like this in the art form, is a memory of Genesis that already has gotten perverted and convoluted in their thinking. Instead of being afraid of this serpent, they remember that the serpent was the one who promised the knowledge of good and evil. So now they really are turned on to serpents.
I want to conclude by taking you Exodus 1 and show you just a bit how it begins and urge you, if you haven’t done this before, to read this book rapidly. If you have a problem with time, I would say that chapters 12, 13, 14 and 15 are the critical ones as far as the Exodus itself is concerned, but if you really get gung ho, the hot stuff starts in chapter 7, that’s when the confrontation sets up between Moses and the Pharaoh. So you might want to start in chapter 7 and read through chapter 15; if you don’t have time, at least try to read from chapter 12 through 15. A closing question: Why do you think, when you start with the book of Exodus, it starts this way? Doesn’t this remind you of something in the New Testament? Why do you suppose these genealogies dropped into the passage? Think about what we have said. What is the grand scheme of the Abrahamic Covenant? Land, seed, and worldwide blessing. And what does the covenant do? It specifies behavior. And what does history do? It reports the behavior. The genealogies report the adventures of the seed of Abraham. Therefore, you find these genealogies and you’ll notice Exodus 1:1 starts “these are the names of the sons of Israel.” And so it’s the story of their lives and it sets you up for the Exodus. Whatever happens in the Exodus, ultimately, is the result of the life of what went on with the seed. The destiny of the seed is examined in the book of Exodus.
To sum up: we have looked and we have set up now our thinking for analyzing this confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh. It is not a confrontation merely of two men. It is a confrontation of two gods, two belief systems, two mighty ideas that one or the other will triumph, but they both can’t. These ideas will remain in tension forever; they are at war with one another. There can be no peace between the belief of the Pharaoh and the belief of Moses. Both are faith positions, but only one must win. And that is the story of the Exodus.