While reading the first chapter of Exodus this morning, I noticed a few elements of the story that I had overlooked before. Take a look at this:
Now a king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, "Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply, and in the event of war they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land."
This was certainly a draconian measure; furthermore, we see the extremity of that Pharoah's Hitleresque anti-semitism in this passage:
Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiprah and the other was named Puah; and he said, "When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live."
Pharoah was a baby-killer, and he was not timid about his prejudices in his mandates. We also note with curious interest that this practice of slaying the male babies is opposite of the historical Chinese practice of snuffing girl infants. Both policies are abominable, and should be outlawed everywhere in the world.
So we see here the mandating of what appears to be the first pogrom that we know of. As many who celebrate Pasach understand, persecution of Jewish people is nothing new in human history. Passover celebrations throughout the world commemorate the deliverance with which God can deliver his people from adversity.
Furthermore, we see that, as anti-semitism is no new development, neither is exodus necessarily an obsolete phenomenon.
In our era, for instance, our parents' and grandparents' generations witnessed a contemporary sort of exodus when Jewish people fled European persecutions, most notably the holocaust in Nazi Germany. With a little help from their friends, Jewish people were able to congregate in their ancient homeland, gather resources from their brethren across the world, and re-establish the nation of Israel.
Knowing what I do about Jewish values, I would expect that high standards of justice and mercy would be established and maintained in the Jewish state. So perhaps it was that expectation in my mind that provoked this semantic exercise as I read Exodus this morning: What if? the above-mentioned scripture were to have a different set of nouns inserted into its narrative, and be read like this:
Now a new prime minister arose over Israel, who did not know Abbas. He said to his people, "Behold, the people of the sons of Gaza/Palestine are potentially more and mightier in their influence than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them, or they will multiply, and in the event of war they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us..."
That would be a new kind of pogrom.