Judaism chapter III : Rise.
Abraham had a son named Isaac. Isaac had a son named Jacob.
Jacob was also called “Israel.” His kids were called “children of Israel,” or simply “Israelites.”
Jacob, also known as Israel, had twelve sons who went on to form the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Those sons had many children, and their children had many children. And so it went. More and more of them.
The more of them there were, the more powerful they became. They kept wandering throughout the land, always searching for optimal pastureland. And because there were a lot of them, it became easier and easier to fight and defeat other tribes to get the best land.
A famine is a super bad situation where there’s not enough food and people start to starve. Guess what? An extra super bad famine happened and the Israelites decided to head down to Egypt to find food and good pastureland. Was this a good idea? In the short term...yes.
They settled in the province of Goshen, which was close to the Nile River. For quite some time, things went smoothly. They kept making babies, and growing food, and taking care of their animals, and…
...worshiping their own God.
The Egyptians were big-time idol worshipers. They had tons of gods. They may have been more into worshipping tons of gods than anyone else in those days. They worshiped fish and birds and beetles and dogs and cats and crocodiles and...just a lot of different animals and gods and idols.
So they weren’t super excited about the Hebrews not being into idol worship. Eventually this became a problem, especially as the Hebrews continued making babies and growing their numbers.
The Pharaoh called together his senior advisors and asked them for solutions; for ideas of how could they deal with the Hebrews and their growing power.
From a pragmatic standpoint, the Egyptians were actually pretty smart, and their understanding of human psychology is commendable. Their reasoning went like this:
Slaves don’t think for themselves.
Slaves think as they’re told to by their masters.
If we make the Hebrews slaves, they will think - and believe - as we do.
So that’s what they did.
And that’s what happened.
The Hebrews slowly began to embrace the thinking and beliefs of their masters, the idol-worshipping Egyptians.
But the change was too slow, and they were still making babies, and their numbers were still too great, so the Pharaoh called together his advisors again, and this is what they came up with.
This is truly atrocious:
What they decided was to drown all the newborn Hebrew boys. That way, the Hebrew girls would be forced to marry Egyptian men, and the Hebrew culture, religion, and bloodline would be phased out. “Phased out” is what we call a euphemism. A euphemism is a nice way of describing something that’s horrible.
So that happened. Too horrible to even think about. But that’s what we have to do with history: sometimes think about the horrible things so we can fight to make sure those things don’t happen again.
Historians estimate that Moses was born 200 years and change after the death of Abraham.
Anyway, amidst this horrific time, an allegedly adorable baby was born. Aren’t they all. His name was Moses. According to the law, he was supposed to be drowned. But history is also filled with examples of good people breaking bad laws because they are wrong.
Thank goodness Moses’s mom was a lawbreaker. She refused to let her moderately-cute baby boy be drowned, and put him into a basket to float down the Nile...which was technically actually sort of following the law.
So baby Moses is floating down the river, and we never see him again…
...or do we?
Isaac, Jacob, Twelve Tribes, famine, Nile River, pragmatic, euphemism
This is an introduction to a ten-unit survey of Judaism - its history, peoples, beliefs and impact on the world today.
Education for most ages and for all curious people.
Written by Joseph Ivan Long with curiosity, humbleness, and a big grin.