Monday, May 28
Egyptians and Israelites Work Together
Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.
The Israelites had lived in Egypt for 430 years. They arrived with Joseph (you know, with the technicolor dreamcoat!), who had made quite a name for himself by saving the people from a famine. But over the centuries, the pharaohs began to forget what Joseph had done for Egypt. They became afraid because the Israelites were growing in alarming numbers. If they kept at this pace, they could easily overtake Egypt. So Egypt started to systematically enslave the Israelites, so by the time of Moses, they were powerless.
But 430 years was a long time for two cultures to co-exist. Inevitably, the cultures started to blend. Egyptians and Israelites intermarried. They took on each other's cultural and religious beliefs and rituals. Despite their second-class status, many Israelites were living fairly well, and many Egyptians were sympathetic to their plight.
When Pharaoh stood his ground against Moses, the battle raged primarily between the powers (Pharaoh and Moses), and between the Egyptians who wanted to remain in power and the Israelites who were oppressed. But there were many who did not want this war. These Egyptians were likely the ones who gave the Israelites what they needed to survive on their own. Many of these Egyptians also traveled with the Israelites when they finally escaped. "A mixed crowd also went up with them."
For those in power, it is fairly easy to establish an Us vs. Them dichotomy. And many who are not in power are happy to follow suit. But in the trenches, on the streets, for the average Josephine, life is rarely as black and white as that. It is much harder to establish Us vs. Them when "they" live next door and play with our kids. When Christians invite Muslims to enter conversations to foster understanding and acceptance. When Muslims invite Christians to participate in Islamic rituals to further enhance understanding and acceptance. When black police officers bridge the gap between the police and the black community. When women CEO's establish strong maternity and paternity leaves for their organizations.
Those in power might like the oppressive chasm. But on the streets, many of us are happy to share our silver and gold, our clothing, our food, our neighborhoods, our churches, our schools. Without the average Josephine, Israel could never have survived the trek. It's not just the people who fight that make freedom a reality -- it's also the people who love.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Exodus 12:33-42
The Egyptians urged the people to hasten their departure from the land, for they said, “We shall all be dead.” So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls wrapped up in their cloaks on their shoulders. The Israelites had done as Moses told them; they had asked the Egyptians for jewelry of silver and gold, and for clothing, and the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. And so they plundered the Egyptians.
The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. A mixed crowd also went up with them, and livestock in great numbers, both flocks and herds. They baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had brought out of Egypt; it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves. The time that the Israelites had lived in Egypt was four hundred thirty years. At the end of four hundred thirty years, on that very day, all the companies of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. That was for the Lord a night of vigil, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. That same night is a vigil to be kept for the Lord by all the Israelites throughout their generations.