[The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Greg Nooney and do not necessarily represent the opinions of this Church community.]
“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” Exodus 12:12-13.
The living tradition we as Unitarian Universalists share draws from many sources including “Jewish and Christian teachings which call on us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves.” (I don’t know why Islam was not included in that statement as it is also an Abrahamic religion with many of the same traditions.) Our living tradition does not however, preclude us to call to task other aspects of those teachings that deserve such critique. I want to acknowledge that I have the privilege to publish this posting which challenges some of those beliefs. I know that those beliefs are sacred to many, and my critique could be offensive to some. If you are in that situation, please feel free to scroll on, and ignore what is to follow.
According to Exodus, the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt for 430 years. They appealed to their god, Yahweh, or Jehovah, or Allah — he went be different names — to free them. Finally, he agreed to do something about it by appointing Moses to negotiate with the Pharaoh. But whenever Moses made some small headway, Yahweh would harden the Pharaoh’s heart, and sabotage the process. In Exodus 7:3-5 Yahweh explains his reasoning—he wanted the opportunity to show off with some miraculous signs. And so, he does, sending 10 plagues to punish the Egyptian people (the plagues had limited effect on the rulers). The last plague, as described above in Exodus 12: 12-13 was the execution of innocent children. (I’m ignoring for the moment those little lambs and goats, cats and dogs.)
And why did he do that? He did it to “bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt.”
Let’s consider this for a moment. (As an aside, it obliterates the notion that Yahweh is the only god). Again, like what often occurred in Greek and Roman god stories, us poor humans get caught up in arguments and competitions between gods. Yahweh watched the suffering of his chosen people for 430 years and did nothing. When he finally decided to act, it was by sabotaging his own mediator, and then massacring innocent children to show he was stronger and more powerful than the other gods in the area. (Growing up as a Catholic I was taught to be outraged when Herod killed little children in a failed attempt to kill the infant Jesus. See Mathew 2: 16-18). The only difference I can see is that Herod’s atrocious act covered a smaller area and didn’t kill nearly as many kiddos. Oh, and Herod was not a god. That too.)
I couldn’t make this stuff up.
Is it too strong to say that those who adhere to any of the three Abrahamic religions: Jew, Christian, Muslim, end up being apologists for a god who called himself a jealous god, and as a way to show off his power in competition with other gods, proved himself to be mean and vindictive, and a mass murderer of innocent children? I would like to believe that the New Testament of the Bible featuring Jesus who spoke much of love, counteracts these old-time practices. However, I can’t ignore the fact that Jesus commemorated Passover on the night before his own execution, and apparently had no problem with what happened that fateful day in Egypt.