Jesus taught that because we are the light of the world, we should let our light shine before others Matt. Building community and relationships can be the object of our job, as in the case of community organizers, youth workers, social directors, event planners, social media workers, parents and family members, and many others. But they can also be elements of our job, whatever our occupation. When we welcome and assist new workers, ask and listen as others talk about matters of significance, take the trouble to meet someone in person, send a note of encouragement, share a memorable photo, bring good food to share, include someone in a conversation, or myriad other acts of camaraderie, we are fulfilling these two purposes of work, day by day.
Finally, godly work promotes the good life. God led his people out of Egypt in order to bring them in to the Promised Land where they could settle, live, and develop. Likewise, what Christians experience in the world is not ideal either. We still wait for a new heaven and a new earth. But many of the laws of the covenant that God gave through Moses have to do with ethical treatment of one another.
But there can be no light to the nations that is not shining already in transformed lives of a holy people. Grand Rapids: Baker, The literature in Old Testament theology on this point is immense both in scope and depth of analysis. Providing even a summary of the issues and approaches to this matter exceeds the scope of this article. For an able discussion of what is at stake and a fuller understanding of the position taken in this article, see Bruce K.
Elmer A. Grand Rapids: Baker, , Christopher J. He also equipped Aaron with skill surpassing that of the high officials of Egypt Exod. These disasters caused personal misery. Disease caused livestock to die Exod. Crops failed and forests were ruined Exod. Pests invaded multiple ecosystems Exod. In Exodus, ecological disaster is the retribution of God against the tyranny and oppression of Pharaoh.
But we can see that when economics, politics, culture, and society are in need of redemption, so is the environment. Each of these warnings-in-action convinced Pharaoh to release Israel, but as each passed, he reneged. Finally, God brought on the disaster of slaying every firstborn son among the people and animals of the Egyptians Exod. The appalling effect of slavery is to "harden" the heart against compassion, justice, and even self-preservation, as Pharaoh soon discovered Exod. This reversed the effects of slavery, which was the legalized plunder of exploited workers. When God liberates people, he restores their right to labor for fruits they themselves can enjoy Isa.
Work, and the conditions under which it is performed, is a matter of the highest concern to God. Moses, Aaron, and others work hard, yet God is the real worker. While on the journey from Egypt to Sinai, Moses reconnected with his father-in-law Jethro. This former outsider to the Israelites offered much-needed counsel to Moses concerning justice in the community. Israel had already experienced unjust treatment at the hand of the Egyptian taskmasters. Walter Brueggemann has observed that biblical faith is not just about telling the story of what God has done.
One of the first things we learned earlier about Moses was his desire to mediate between those embroiled in a dispute. In the current episode, we see just the opposite. First, he rendered legal decisions for people in dispute. Furthermore, it was detrimental to Moses and unsatisfying for the people he was trying to help.
All of the other cases were to be delegated to subordinate judges who would serve in a four-tiered system of judicial administration. The qualification of these judges is the key to the wisdom of the plan, for they were not selected according to the tribal divisions of the people or their religious maturity. They must meet four qualifications Exod. First, they must be capable. It describes people who have a clear understanding of commonly recognized morality that stretches across cultural and religious boundaries. Third, they must be "trustworthy.
Finally, they must be haters of unjust gain. They must know how and why corruption occurs, despise the practice of bribery and all kinds of subversion, and actively guard the judicial process from these infections. Delegation is essential to the work of leadership. Though Moses was uniquely gifted as a prophet, statesman, and judge, he was not infinitely gifted.
Therefore, the gift of leadership is ultimately the gift of giving away power appropriately. The leader, like Moses, must discern the qualities needed, train those who are to receive authority, and develop means to hold them accountable. The leader also needs to be held accountable. Wise, decisive, compassionate leadership is a gift from God that every human community needs.
Delegation is the only way to increase the capacity of an institution or community, as well as the way to develop future leaders. The fact that Moses accepted this counsel so quickly and thoroughly may be evidence of how personally desperate he was. This observation may encourage Christians to receive and respect input from a wide range of traditions and religions, notably in matters of work.
Doing so is not necessarily a mark of disloyalty to Christ, nor does it expose a lack of confidence in our own faith. It is not an improper concession to religious pluralism. On the contrary, it may even be a poor witness to produce biblical quotes of wisdom too frequently, for in so doing, outsiders may perceive us as narrow and possibly insecure. Christians do well to be discerning about the specifics of the counsel we adopt, whether it comes from within or without.
It is almost impossible to exaggerate their effect on subsequent history. They constitute the basis of the moral principles found throughout the Western world and summarize what the one true God expects of his people in terms of faith, worship and conduct. For these reasons, we will be attentive to what the text of Exodus actually says, for this is what we hold in common.
At the same time, we hope to be aware and respectful of the variety of ways that Christians may wish to draw lessons from this part of the Bible. Kenneth Barker, ed. We begin by recognizing that Exodus is an integral part of the whole of Scripture, not a stand-alone legal statue. Christopher Wright has written:. The common opinion that the Bible is a moral code book for Christians falls far short, of course, of the full reality of what the Bible is and does. The Bible is essentially the story of God, the earth and humanity; it is the story of what has gone wrong, what God has done to put it right, and what the future holds under the sovereign plan of God.
Nevertheless, within that grand narrative, moral teaching does have a vital place. And our mission certainly includes the ethical dimension of that response. Because this term is so central to the entire discussion at hand, it will help us to clarify how this Hebrew word actually works in the Bible. The word Torah appears once in Genesis in the sense of instructions from God that Abraham followed. It can refer to instructions from one human to another Ps. To highlight the rich and instructive nature of law in Exodus, we shall sometimes refer to it as Torah with no attempt at translation.
In Exodus, it is clear that Torah in the sense of a set of specific instructions is part of the covenant and not the other way around. In other words, the covenant as a whole describes the relationship that God has established between himself and his people by virtue of his act of deliverance on their behalf Exod. This is significant for our understanding of the theology of work. In Christian terms, we love God because he first loved us and we demonstrate that love in how we treat others 1 John Willem A. It can be a challenge for a Christian to draw a point from a verse in the book of Exodus or especially Leviticus, and then suggest how that lesson should be applied today.
How do we avoid the charge of inconsistency in our handling of the Bible? The diversity of laws in Exodus and the Pentateuch presents one type of challenge. Another comes from the variety of ways that Christians understand and apply Torah and the Old Testament in relationship to Christ and the New Testament. Still, the issue of Torah in Christianity is crucial and must be addressed in order for us to glean anything about what this part of the Bible says concerning our work. The following brief treatment aims to be helpful without being overly narrow.
God gave the Torah as an expression of his holy nature and as a consequence of his great deliverance. Reading the Torah makes us aware of our inherent sinfulness and of our need for a remedy in order for us to live at peace with God and one another. God expects his people to obey his instructions by applying them to real issues of life both great and small.
The specific nature of some laws does not mean God is an unrealistic perfectionist. These laws help us to understand that no issue we face is too small or insignificant for God. Even so, the Torah is not just about outward behavior, for it addresses matters of the heart such as coveting Exod.
Later, Jesus would condemn not just murder and adultery, but the roots of anger and lust as well Matt. However, obeying the Torah by applying it to the real issues of life today does not equate to repeating the actions that Israel performed thousands of years ago. Already in the Old Testament we see hints that some parts of the law were not intended to be permanent. In some important sense, he embodied all that the temple, its priesthood, and its activities stood for.
Much in the New Testament confirms the Torah, not only in its negative commands against adultery, murder, theft, and coveting, but also in its positive command to love one another Rom. In the end, only Jesus could accomplish this. On the other hand, new covenant believers do not work that way. For our purposes in considering the theology of work, the previous explanation suggests several points that may help us to understand and apply the laws in Exodus that relate to the workplace.
They are to be taken seriously but not slavishly.
On the one hand, items in the Ten Commandments are worded in general terms and may be applied freely in varied contexts. On the other hand, particular laws about servants, livestock, and personal injuries exemplify applications in the specific historical and social context of ancient Israel, especially in areas that were controversial at the time.
These laws are illustrative of right behavior but do not exhaust every possible application. Christians honor God and his law not only by regulating our behavior, but also by allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our attitudes, motives, and desires Rom. To do anything less would amount to sidestepping the work and will of our Lord and Savior.
Christians should always seek how love may guide our policies and behaviors. The Ten Commandments are worded as general commands either to do or not do something. These laws fit the social and economic world of ancient Israel. Gordon J. They are to be thought of not as the ten most important commands among hundreds of others, but as a digest of the entire Torah.
All the law, as well as the prophets, is indicated whenever the Ten Commandments are expressed. That is, when applying the Ten Commandments, we will take into account related passages of Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments. The first commandment reminds us that everything in the Torah flows from the love we have for God, which in turn is a response to the love he has for us. Nothing else in life should concern us more than our desire to love and be loved by God.
The other concern—be it money, power, security, recognition, sex, or anything else—has become our god. Observing the Ten Commandments is only conceivable for those who start by having no other god than God. In the realm of work, this means that we are not to let work or its requirements and fruits displace God as our most important concern in life. Jesus warned of exactly this danger. But almost anything related to work can become twisted in our desires to the point that it interferes with our love for God.
How many careers come to a tragic end because the means to accomplish things for the love of God—such as political power, financial sustainability, commitment to the job, status among peers, or superior performance—become ends in themselves? When, for example, recognition on the job becomes more important than character on the job, is it not a sign that reputation is displacing the love of God as the ultimate concern?
A practical touchstone is to ask whether our love of God is shown by the way we treat people on the job. If we put our individual concerns ahead of our concern for the people we work with, for, and among, then we have made our individual concerns our god. In particular, if we treat other people as things to be manipulated, obstacles to overcome, instruments to obtain what we want, or simply neutral objects in our field of view, then we demonstrate that we do not love God with all our heart, soul, and mind.
In this context, we can begin to list some work-related actions that have a high potential to interfere with our love for God. Doing work that violates our conscience. Working in an organization where we have to harm others to succeed. Working such long hours that we have little time to pray, worship, rest, and otherwise deepen our relationship with God.
Working among people who demoralize us or seduce us away from our love for God. Working where alcohol, drug abuse, violence, sexual harassment, corruption, disrespect, racism, or other inhumane treatment mar the image of God in us and the people we encounter in our work. If we can find ways to avoid these dangers at work—even if it means finding a new job—it would be wise to do so.
If that is not possible, we can at least be aware that we need help and support to maintain our love of God in the face of our work. David W. The second commandment raises the issue of idolatry. Idols are gods of our own creation, gods that have nothing to them that did not originate with us, gods that we feel we control. In ancient times, idolatry often took the form of worshiping physical objects.
But the issue is really one of trust and devotion. On what do we ultimately pin our hope of well-being and success? Anything that is not capable of fulfilling our hope—that is, anything other than God—is an idol, whether or not it is a physical object. In the world of work, it is common to speak of money, fame, and power as potential idols, and rightly so. Yet when we imagine that we have ultimate control over them, or that by achieving them our safety and prosperity will be secured, we have begun to fall into idolatry.
The same may occur with virtually every other element of success, including preparation, hard work, creativity, risk, wealth and other resources, and favorable circumstances. As workers, we have to recognize how important these are. The distinctive element of idolatry is the human-made nature of the idol. At work, a danger of idolatry arises when we mistake our power, knowledge, and opinions for reality. But what is wrongful use? It includes, of course, disrespectful use in cursing, slandering, and blaspheming.
But more significantly it includes falsely attributing human designs to God. Regrettably, some Christians seem to believe that following God at work consists primarily of speaking for God on the basis of their individual understanding, rather than working respectfully with others or taking responsibility for their actions.
The third commandment also reminds us that respecting human names is important to God. Do you know the name of the person who empties your trash can, answers your customer service call, or drives your bus? If these examples do not concern the very name of the Lord, they do concern the name of those made in his image. The issue of the Sabbath is complex, not only in the book of Exodus and the Old Testament, but also in Christian theology and practice.
The first part of the command calls for ceasing labor one day in seven. In the context of the ancient world, the Sabbath was unique to Israel. On the one hand, this was an incomparable gift to the people of Israel. No other ancient people had the privilege of resting one day in seven. Six days of work had to be enough to plant crops, gather the harvest, carry water, spin cloth, and draw sustenance from creation.
While Israel rested one day every week, the encircling nations continued to forge swords, feather arrows, and train soldiers. Israel had to trust God not to let a day of rest lead to economic and military catastrophe. Does it take seven days of work to hold a job or two or three jobs , clean the house, prepare the meals, mow the lawn, wash the car, pay the bills, finish the school work, and shop for the clothes, or can we trust God to provide for us even if we take a day off during the course of every week? The fourth commandment does not explain how God will make it all work out for us.
It simply tells us to rest one day every seven. The polarity that actually undergirds the Sabbath is work and rest.
The Tabernacle of Moses
Both work and rest are included in the fourth commandment. The six days of work are as much a part of the commandment as the one day of rest. Although many Christians are in danger of allowing work to squeeze the time set aside for rest, others are in danger of the opposite, of shirking work and trying to live a life of leisure and dissipation. If overwork is our main danger, we need to find a way to honor the fourth commandment without instituting a false, new legalism pitting the spiritual worship on Sunday worship against the secular work on Monday through Saturday.
If avoiding work is our danger, we need to learn how to find joy and meaning in working as a service to God and our neighbors Eph. There are many ways to honor—or dishonor—your father and mother. But Jesus pointed out that obeying this commandment requires working to provide for your parents Mark We honor people by working for their good. For many people, good relationships with parents are one of the joys of life.
Loving service to them is a delight, and obeying this commandment is easy. But we are put to the test by this commandment when we find it burdensome to work on behalf of our parents. We may have been ill-treated or neglected by them. They may be controlling and meddlesome. Even if we have good relationships with our parents, there may come a time when caring for them is a major burden simply because of the time and work it takes.
If aging or dementia begins to rob them of their memory, capabilities, and good nature, caring for them can become a deep sorrow. We are not told how this will occur, but we are told to expect it, and to do that we must trust God see the first commandment. Because this is a command to work for the benefit of parents, it is inherently a workplace command. The place of work may be where we earn money to support them, or it may be in the place where we assist them in the tasks of daily life.
Both are work. When we take a job because it allows us to live near them, or send money to them, or make use of the values and gifts they developed in us, or accomplish things they taught us are important, we are honoring them. When we limit our careers so that we can be present with them, clean and cook for them, bathe and embrace them, take them to the places they love, or diminish their fears, we are honoring them.
We must also recognize that in many cultures, the work people do is dictated by the choices of their parents and needs of their families rather than their own decisions and preferences. Even Jesus experienced such parental misunderstanding when Mary and Joseph could not understand why he remained behind in the temple while his family departed Jerusalem Luke In our workplaces, we can help other people fulfill the fifth commandment, as well as obeying it ourselves.
We can remember that employees, customers, co-workers, bosses, suppliers, and others also have families, and then can adjust our expectations to support them in honoring their families. When others share or complain about their struggles with parents, we can listen to them compassionately, support them practically for example, by offering to take a shift so they can be with their parents , perhaps offer a godly perspective for them to consider, or simply reflect the grace of Christ to those who feel they are failing in their parent-child relationships.
Sadly, the sixth commandment has an all-too-practical application in the modern workplace, where 10 percent of all job-related fatalities in the United States are homicides. Jesus said that even anger is a violation of the sixth commandment Matt. As Paul noted, we may not be able to prevent the feeling of anger, but we can learn how to cope with our it. Murder is intentional killing, but the case law that stems from the sixth commandment shows that we also have the duty to prevent unintended deaths.
A particularly graphic case is when an ox a work animal gores a man or woman to death Exod. Yet workplaces of all kinds continue to require or allow workers to work in needlessly unsafe conditions. Christians who have any role in setting the conditions of work, supervising workers, or modeling workplace practices are reminded by the sixth commandment that safe working conditions are among their highest responsibilities in the world of work.
The workplace is one of the most common settings for adultery, not necessarily because adultery occurs in the workplace itself, but because it arises from the conditions of work and relationships with co-workers. The first application to the workplace, then, is literal.
Married people should not have sex with people other than their spouses at, in, or because of their work. Obviously this rules out sex professions such as prostitution, pornography, and sex surrogacy, at least in most cases, to the degree workers have a choice. But any kind of work that erodes the bonds of marriage infringes the seventh commandment. There are many ways this can occur. Work that encourages strong emotional bonds among co-workers without adequately supporting their commitments to their spouses, as can happen in hospitals, entrepreneurial ventures, academic institutions and churches, among other places.
Work that subjects people to sexual harassment and pressure to have sex with those holding power over them. Work that demands so much time away physically, mentally, or emotionally that it frays the bonds between spouses. All of these may pose dangers that Christians would do well to recognize and avoid, ameliorate, or guard against.
Yet the seriousness of the seventh commandment arises not so much because adultery is illicit sex, as because it breaks a covenant ordained by God. Therefore, any breaking of faith with the God of Israel is figuratively adultery, whether it involves illicit sex or not. Therefore, work that requires or leads us into idolatry or worshipping other gods is to be avoided.
Christian actors may find it difficult to perform profane, irreligious, or spiritually demoralizing roles. Everything we do in life, including work, tends in some degree either to enhance or diminish our relationship with God; over a lifetime, the constant stress of work that diminishes us spiritually may prove devastating. The distinctive aspect of covenants violated by adultery is that they are covenants with God. Contracts, promises, and agreements are surely things we do in word or deed, or both. If we do them all in the name of the Lord Jesus, it cannot be that some promises must be honored because they are covenants with God, while others may be broken because they are merely human.
We are to honor all our agreements, and to avoid inducing others to break theirs. The eighth commandment is another that takes work as its primary subject. Stealing is a violation of proper work because it dispossesses the victim of the fruits of his or her labor.
It is also a violation of the commandment to labor six days a week, since in most cases stealing is intended as a shortcut around honest labor, which shows again the interrelation of the Ten Commandments. Stealing occurs in many forms besides robbing someone. Any time we acquire something of value from its rightful owner without consent, we are engaging in theft. Misappropriating resources or funds for personal use is stealing. Using deception to make sales, gain market share, or raise prices is stealing because the deception means that whatever the buyer consents to is not the actual situation.
Violating patents, copyrights, and other intellectual property laws is stealing because it deprives owners of the ability to profit from their creation under the terms of civil law. Companies, governments, individuals, unions, and other players may use their power to coerce others into unfair wages, prices, financial terms, working conditions, hours, or other factors. Although we may not rob banks, steal from our employers, or shoplift, we may very likely be participating in unfair or unethical practices that deprive others of what rights should be theirs.
It can be difficult, even career-limiting, to resist engaging in these practices, but we are called to do so nonetheless. Judicial decisions and other legal processes wield great power. Manipulating them undercuts the ethical fabric of society and thus constitutes a very serious offense. Although stated in courtroom language, the ninth commandment also applies to a broad range of situations that touch practically every aspect of life.
We should never say or do anything that misrepresents someone else. Brueggemann again provides insight:. Politicians seek to destroy one another in negative campaigning; gossip columnists feed off calumny; and in Christian living rooms, reputations are tarnished or destroyed over cups of coffee served in fine china with dessert.
These de facto courtrooms are conducted without due process of law. Accusations are made; hearsay allowed; slander, perjury, and libelous comments uttered without objection. No evidence, no defense. As Christians, we must refuse to participate in or to tolerate any conversation in which a person is being defamed or accused without the person being there to defend himself.
Pharaoh with his hosts pursued them in rebellion and hostility till, when the fact of his drowning overtook him, he said: I believe there is no God except the God in whom the Children of Israel believe. I am of those who submit themselves to Him. Thou has rebelled and caused depravity. This day We save thee in thy body so that thou mayest be a sign for those who come after thee.
This passage requires two points to be explained: a The spirit of rebellion and hostility referred to is to be understood in terms of Moses's attempt to persuade the Pharaoh. These figures are openly exaggerated in the Bible to incredible proportions said to have been , men plus their families forming a community of more than two million inhabitants. For our present purposes, the points to be noted because they are shared by both narrations are as follows: --the confirmation contained in the Quran of Pharaoh's oppression of the Jews in Moses's group. In fact, the balance is very uneven because some data pose many problems while others hardly provide subject for discussion.
It is, apparently, quite possible to say and without running much risk of being wrong that the Hebrews remained in Egypt for or years, according to the Bible Genesis 15, 13 and Exodus 12, In spite of this discrepancy between Genesis and Exodus, which is of minor importance, the period may be said to have begun long after Abraham, when Joseph, son of Jacob, moved with his brothers to Egypt. With the exception of the Bible, which gives the data just quoted, and the Quran which refers to the move to Egypt, but does not give any indication as to the dates involved, we do not possess any other document which is able to illuminate us on this point.
Present-day commentators, ranging from P. Montet to Daniel Rops, think that, in all probability, the arrival of Joseph and his brothers coincided with the movement of the Hyksos towards Egypt in the Seventeenth century B. There can be no doubt that this guess is in obvious contradiction to what is contained in the Bible Kings I, 6, 1 which puts the Exodus from Egypt at years before the construction of Solomon's Temple circa B.
This estimation would therefore put the Exodus at roughly B. This is precisely the time, however, that Abraham is supposed to have lived, and other data contained in the Bible tell us that there were years separating him from Joseph. This passage from Kings I in the Bible is therefore unacceptable from a chronological point of view.
The very obvious inaccuracy of these chronological data effectively deprives this objection of any value. Aside from the Holy Scriptures, the traces left by the Hebrews of their stay in Egypt are very faint. There are however several hieroglyphic documents which refer to the existence in Egypt of a category of workers called the 'Apiru, Hapiru or Habiru, who have been identified rightly or wrongly with the Hebrews.
In this category were construction workers, agricultural labourers, harvesters, etc. But where did they come from? It is very difficult to find an answer to this. Father de Vaux has written the following about them: "They are not members of the local population, they do not identify themselves with a class in society, they do not all share the same occupation or status.
Under Tuthmosis III, they are referred to in a papyrus as 'workers in the stables'. Under Sethos I, in circa B. In Egyptian writings the 'Apiru are mentioned once again in the Twelfth century B. The 'Apiru are not just mentioned in Egypt however, so did the term therefore apply solely to the Hebrews? It is perhaps wise to recall that the word could initially have been used to signify 'forced labourers', without regard to their origins, and that it subsequently became an adjective indicating a person's profession. We might perhaps draw an analogy with the word 'suisse' Swiss which has several different meanings in French.
It can mean an inhabitant of Switzerland, a mercenary soldier of the old French monarchy who was of Swiss extraction, a Vatican guard, or an employee of a Christian church. However, this may be, under Ramesses II, the Hebrews according to the Bible or the 'Apiru according to the hieroglyphic texts took part in the great works ordered by the Pharaoh, which were indeed 'forced labour'. There can be no doubt that Ramesses II was the Jews' oppressor: the cities of Ramesses and Pithom, mentioned in Exodus, are situated at the eastern part of the Nile Delta.
Today's Tanis and Qantir, which are roughly 15 miles apart, are in the same region as these two cities. The northern capital constructed by Ramesses II was situated there. Ramesses II is the Pharaoh of the oppression. Moses was to be born in this environment. The circumstances pertaining to his rescue from the waters of the river have al- ready been outlined above. He has an Egyptian name: P. Musa is the transliteration used in the Quran. Under this title the Bible refers to ten punishments inflicted by God, and provides many details concerning each of these 'plagues'.
Many have supernatural dimensions or characteristics. The Quran only lists five plagues, which, for the most part, are merely an exaggeration of natural phenomena: flooding, locusts, lice, frogs and blood. The rapid multiplication of locusts and frogs is described in the Bible. It speaks of river water changed to blood which floods all the land sic ; the Quran refers to blood, but without giving any complementary details.
It is possible to invent all kinds of hypotheses on the subject of this reference to blood. The other plagues described in the Bible gnats, swarms of flies, boils, hail, darkness, death of the first-born and of cattle have various origins, as was the case of the Flood, and are constituted by the juxtaposition of passages from many different sources. No indication of this is given in the Quran, whereas the Bible refers to it in great detail. Father de Vaux and P. Montet have both reopened studies into it.
The starting-point was probably the Tanis-Qantir region, but no traces have been found of the rest of the route taken which could confirm the Biblical narration; nor is it possible to say at exactly what point the waters parted to allow the passage of Moses and his followers. Some commentators have imagined a tide-race, due perhaps to astronomic causes or seismic conditions connected to the distant eruption of a volcano. The Hebrews could have taken advantage of the receding sea, and the Egyptians, following in hot pursuit, could have been wiped out by the returning tide. All this is pure hypothesis however.
It is possible to arrive at much more positive evidence in the case of the point the Exodus occupies in time. Apart from P. Montet, there are very few Egyptologists or specialists in Biblical exegesis who have researched into the arguments for or against this hypothesis.
In the last few decades however, there has been a spate of different hypotheses which seem to have as their sole purpose the justification of an agreement with one single detail in the Scriptural narrations, although the inventors of these hypotheses do not bother with the other aspects of the Scriptures. Thus it is possible for a hypothesis to suddenly appear which seems to agree with one aspect of a narration, although its inventor has not taken the trouble to compare it with all the other data contained in the Scriptures and consequently not just with the Bible , plus all the data provided by history, archaeology, etc.
One of the strangest hypotheses yet to come to light is by J. He relies for his information entirely on calculations made from calendars and claims that Tuthmosis II was reigning in Egypt at that time, and was therefore the Pharaoh of the Exodus. The confirmation of the hypothesis is supposed to reside in the fact that lesions of the skin are to be observed on the mummy of Tuthmosis II.
This commentator informs us without explaining why that they are due to leprosy, and that one of the plagues of Egypt described in the Bible consisted in skin boils. This staggering construction takes no account of the other facts contained in the Biblical narration, especially the Bible's mention of the City of Ramesses which rules out any hypothesis dating the Exodus before a 'Ramesses' had reigned.
As to the skin lesions of Tuthmosis II, these do not swing the argument in favour of the theory which designates this King of Egypt as the Pharaoh of the Exodus. The Tuthmosis II theory is not therefore tenable. The same is true for Daniel-Rops's theory in his book. It does not seem to be any better-founded than the preceding hypothesis. Father de Vaux's theory, that it was Ramesses II, rests on slightly more solid foundations. Gabalda and Co. Even if his theory does not agree with the Biblical narration on every point, at least it has the advantage of putting forward one very important piece of evidence: the construction of the cities of Ramesses and Pithom built under Ramesses II referred to in the Biblical text.
It is not possible therefore to maintain that the Exodus took place before the accession of Ramesses II. This is situated in the year B. The two other hypotheses outlined above are untenable because of the following imperative fact: Ramesses II is the Pharaoh of the oppression referred to in the Bible. Father de Vaux considers the Exodus to have taken place during the first half or towards the middle of Ramesses II's reign. Thus his dating of this event is imprecise: he suggests this period to allow Moses and his followers time, as it were, to settle in Canaan, and Ramesses II's successor, Pharaoh Mernaptah who is said to have pacified the frontiers after his father's death, to bring the Children of Israel into line, as depicted on a stele of the Fifth year of his reign.
Two arguments may be levelled at this theory: a The Bible shows Exodus 2, 23 that the King of Egypt died during the period when Moses was in Midian. This King was Ramesses II. The Exodus could only have taken place under the latter's successor. Father de Vaux claims however to doubt the Biblical sources of verse 23, chapter 2 of Exodus. This detail makes it impossible for the Exodus to have taken place at any other time than at the end of a reign.
It must be repeated that there can be little doubt that the Pharaoh lost his life as a result of it. Chapters 13 and 14 of Exodus are quite specific on this point: "So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him. Pharaoh king of Egypt "pursued the people of Israel as they went forth defiantly" Exodus 14,8. In addition to these verses, Psalm confirms Pharaoh's death and refers to Yahweh who "overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Sea of Rushes" Psalms , Thus, during Moses's lifetime, one Pharaoh died when Moses was in Midian and another during the Exodus.
There were not one, but two Pharaohs at the time of Moses: one during the oppression and the other during the Exodus from Egypt. The theory of a single Pharaoh Ramesses II put forward by Father de Vaux is unsatisfactory because it does not account for everything. The following observations are further arguments against his theory.
Montet has very discerningly resumed the original Alexandrian [ There can be no doubt that in the Golden Age of the ptolemies, historical documents on Antiquity were preserved at Alexandria, only to be destroyed at the time of the Roman conquest; a loss which is keenly felt today. It is found much later in the Islamic tradition as well as in the classic Christian tradition.
Lesetre, intended for religious instruction, the Exodus is mentioned as having taken place during Merneptah's reign in Egypt. Before examining them however, we shall first return to the Bible. The Book of Exodus contains a reference to the word 'Ramesses' although the Pharaoh's name is not mentioned. In the Bible 'Ramesses' is the name of one of the cities built by the forced labour of the Hebrews.
Today we know that these cities form part of the Tanis-Qantir region, in the eastern Nile Delta. In the area where Ramesses II built his northern capital, there were other constructions prior to his, but it was Ramesses II who made it into an important site, as the archeological excavations undertaken in the last few decades have amply shown. To build it, he used the labour of the enslaved Hebrews. When one reads the word 'Ramesses' in the Bible today, one is not particularly struck by it: the word has become very common to us since Champollion discovered the key to hieroglyphics years ago, by examining the characters that expressed this very word.
We are therefore used to reading and pronouncing it today and know what it means. One has to remember however that the meaning of hieroglyphics had been lost in circa the Third century B. It is for this reason that Tacitus in his Annals talks of 'Rhamsis'. The Bible had however preserved the name intact: it is referred to four times in the Pentateuch or Torah Genesis 47,11; Exodus 1,11 and 12, Numbers 33,3 and 33,5.
In the Latin version Vulgate it is written 'Ramesses'. In the Clementine version of the Bible in French 1st edition, the word is the same, 'Ramesses'. The French edition was in circulation at the time of Champollion's work in this field. In the French edition of the Clementine Bible, , for example, an interpretation of the word 'Ramesses' is given which makes total nonsense: 'Thunder of Vermin' sic.
The preceding data alone are enough to establish the following: a There can be no question of the Exodus before a 'Ramesses' had come to the throne in Egypt 11 Kings of Egypt had this name. Ramesses II. Ramesses II died. What is more, the Bible adds other highly important data which help to situate the Exodus in the history of the Pharaohs. It is the statement that Moses was eighty years old when, under God's orders, he tried to persuade Pharaoh to free his brothers: "Now Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron eighty-three years years old, when they spoke to Pharaoh.
Elsewhere however, the Bible tells us Exodus 2,23 that the Pharaoh reigning at the time of the birth of Moses died when the latter was in Midian, although the Biblical narration continues without mentioning any change in the sovereign's name.
Don Stewart :: Who Wrote the Book of Genesis?
These two passages in the Bible imply that the total number of years spanning the reigns of the two Pharaohs ruling at the time when Moses was living in Egypt must have been eighty years at least. It is known that Ramesses II reigned for 67 years B. For Merneptah, his successor, the Egyptologists are unable, however, to provide the exact dates of his reign. Nevertheless, it lasted for at least ten years because, as Father de Vaux points out, documents bear witness to the tenth year of his reign. Drioton and Vandier give two possibilities for Merneptah: either a ten-year reign, B.
Egyptologists have no precise indications whatsoever on how Merneptah's reign came to an end: all that can be said is that after his death, Egypt went through a period of serious internal upheavals lasting nearly 25 years. Even though the chronological data on these reigns are not very precise, there was no other period during the New Kingdom concordant with the Biblical narration when two successive reigns apart from Ramesses II-Merneptah amounted to or surpassed eighty years.
The Biblical data concerning Moses's age when he undertook the liberation of his brothers can only come from a time during the successive reigns of Ramesses II and Merneptah [ The period spanning the two reigns Sethos I-Ramesses II, which is said to have lasted roughly eighty years, is out of the question: Sethos I's reign-which was too short for this-does not square with the very long stay in Midian which Moses made as an adult and which took place during the reign of the first of the two Pharaohs he was to know.
All the evidence points towards the fact that Moses was born at the beginning of Ramesses II's reign, was living in Midian when Ramesses II died after a sixty-seven year reign, and subsequently became the spokesman for the cause of the Hebrews living in Egypt to Merneptah, Ramesses II's son and successor.
This episode may have happened in the second half of Merneptah's reign, assuming he reigned twenty years or nearly twenty years. Rowton believes the supposition to be quite feasible. Moses would then have led the Exodus at the end of Merneptah's reign. It could hardly have been otherwise because both the Bible and the Quran tell us that Pharaoh perished during the pursuit of the Hebrews leaving the country. This plan agrees perfectly with the account contained in the Scriptures of Moses's infancy and of the way he was taken into the Pharaoh's family.
It is a known fact that Ramesses II was very old when he died: it is said that he was ninety to a hundred years old. According to this theory, he would have been twentythree to thirty-three years old at the beginning of his reign which lasted sixty-seven years. He could have been married at that age and there is nothing to contradict the discovery of Moses by 'a member of Pharaoh's household' according to the Quran , or the fact that Pharaoh's wife asked him if he would keep the newly-born child she had found on the bank of the Nile.
The Bible claims that the child was found by Pharaoh's daughter. In view of Ramesses II's age at the beginning of his reign it would have been perfectly possible for him to have had a daughter old enough to discover the abandoned child. The Quranic and Biblical narrations do not contradict each other in any way on this point. The theory given here is in absolute agreement with the Quran and is moreover at odds with only one single statement in the Bible which occurs as we have seen in Kings I 6,1 N. This passage is the subject of much debate and Father de Vaux rejects the historical data contained in this part of the Old Testament, which dates the Exodus in relation to the construction of Solomon's temple.
The fact that it is subject to doubt makes it impossible to retain it as a conclusive argument against the theory outlined here. In the text of the famous stele dating from the fifth year of Merneptah's reign critics think they have found an objection to the theory set out here, in which the pursuit of the Jews constituted the last act of his reign. The stele is of great interest because it represents the only known document in hieroglyphics which contains the word 'Israel'.
It refers to a series of victories he won over Egypt's neighbouring states, in particular a victory mentioned at the end of the document over a "devastated Israel which has no more seed.
This objection does not seem tenable because it implies that there could have been no Jews living in Canaan all the while there were Jews in Egypt-a proposition it is impossible to accept. The 'Apiru or Habiru who have sometimes been identified with the Israelites were already in Syria-Palestine long before Ramesses II and the Exodus: we have documentary evidence which proves that Amenophis II brought back 8, prisoners to work as forced labourers in Egypt.
It is quite plausible to suppose therefore that Merneptah was obliged to deal severely with these rebellious elements on his borders while inside them were those who were later to rally around Moses to flee the country. The existence of the stele dating from the fifth year of Merneptah's reign does not in any way detract from the present theory.
Moreover, the fact that the word 'Israel' figures in the history of the Jewish people is totally unconnected with the notion that Moses and his followers settled in Canaan. The origin of the word is as follows:. According to Genesis 32,29 , Israel is the second name given to Jacob, son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham. Since it has been given to a single man, it is not surprising that it was given to a community or group of people in memory of a distinguished ancestor.
The name 'Israel', therefore appeared well before Moses: several hundred years before to be exact. It is not surprising consequently to see it cited in a stele from the reign of the Pharaoh Merneptah. The fact that it is cited does not at all constitute an argument in favour of a theory which dates the Exodus before the fifth year of Merneptah's reign. What it does do is refer to a group which it calls 'Israel', but Merneptah's stele cannot be alluding to a politically established collectivity because the inscription dates from the end of the Thirteenth century B.
It must therefore refer to a human community of more modest proportions. Editions du Cerf, Paris, , page Nowadays, we know that the entry of 'Israel' into history was preceded by a long formatory period of eight or nine centuries. This period was distinguished by the settling of many semi-Nomadic groups, especially the Amorites and the Arameans all over the region. In the same period, Patriarchs began to appear in their communities among whom were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob-Israel. The second name of this last Patriarch was used to designate the original group, the nucleus of a future political entity which was to appear long after Merneptah's reign, since the Kingdom of Israel lasted from or to B.
This event marks a very important point in the narrations contained in the Bible and the Quran. It stands forth very clearly in the texts. It is referred to in the Bible, not only in the Pentateuch or Torah, but also in the Psalms: the references have already been given. It is very strange to find that Christian commentators have completely ignored it. Thus, Father de Vaux maintains the theory that the Exodus from Egypt took place in the first half or the middle of Ramesses II's reign. His theory takes no account of the fact that the Pharaoh perished during the Exodus, a fact which should make all hypotheses place the event at the end of a reign.
Montet places the Exodus during Merneptah's reign, but says nothing about the death of the Pharaoh who was at the head of the army following the fleeing Hebrews. This highly surprising attitude contrasts with the Jews' outlook: Psalm , verse 15 gives thanks to God who "overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Sea of Rushes" and is often recited in their liturgy. They know of the agreement between this verse and the passage in Exodus 14, : "The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen and all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not so much as one of them remained.
These same texts are present in Christian Bibles. Christian commentators quite deliberately, and in contradiction to all the evidence, brush aside the Pharaoh's death. What is more however, some of them mention the reference made to it in the Quran and encourage their readers to make very strange comparisons. Les Editions du Cerf, Paris. It is obvious that the uninformed reader of the Quran is bound to establish a connection between a statement in it which-for the commentator-contradicts the Biblical text and this absurd legend which comes from a so-called popular tradition mentioned in the commentary after the reference to the Quran.
The real meaning of the statement in the Quran on this has nothing to do with what this commentator suggests: verses 90 to 92, sura 10 inform us that the Children of Israel crossed the sea while the Pharaoh and his troops were pursuing them and that it was only when the Pharaoh was about to be drowned that he cried: "I believe there is no God except the God in which the Chilldren of Israel believe.
Thou bast rebelled and caused depravity. This day W e save thee in thy body so that thou mayest be a Sign for those who will come after thee. This is all that the sura contains on the Pharaoh's death. There is no question of the phantasms recorded by the Biblical commentator either here or anywhere else in the Quran.
The text of the Quran merely states very clearly that the Pharaoh's body will be saved: that is the important piece of information.
When the Quran was transmitted to man by the Prophet, the bodies of all the Pharaohs who are today considered rightly or wrongly to have something to do with the Exodus were in their tombs of the Necropolis of Thebes, on the opposite side of the Nile from Luxor. At the time however, absolutely nothing was known of this fact, and it was not until the end of the Nineteenth century that they were discovered there.
As the Quran states, the body of the Pharaoh of the Exodus was in fact rescued: whichever of the Pharaohs it was, visitors may see him in the Royal Mummies Room- of the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. The truth is therefore very different from the ludicrous legend that Father Couroyer has attached to the Quran. The mummified body of Merneptah, son of Ramesses II and Pharaoh of the Exodus-all the evidence points to this-was discovered by Loret in at Thebes in the Kings' Valley whence it was transported to Cairo. Elliot Smith removed its wrappings on the 8th of July, he gives a detailed description of this operation and the examination of the body in his book The Royal Mummies At that time the mummy was in a satisfactory state of preservation, in spite of deterioration in several parts.
Since then, the mummy has been on show to visitors at the Cairo Museum, with his head and neck uncovered and the rest of body concealed under a cloth. It is so well hidden indeed, that until very recently, the only general photographs of the mummy that the Museum possessed were those taken by E.