According to the Talmud, when the angels were about to burst into song on seeing the Egyptian forces drowning, God rebuked them, saying, “How dare you sing for joy when my creatures were dying.” The Israelites, on the other hand, were allowed to sing. But what about Moses? How did he feel on seeing his adoptive countrymen drown? We know nothing of the years Moses spent growing up in the Egyptian court, but, given that a princess adopted him as her own son, presumably he was educated as a prince, surrounded by the Egyptian elite. Did he shed a tear when the first-born were struck, from the first-born of Pharaoh to the first-born of the prisoner in the dungeon? Did he shed another when the army was drowned? After all, he must have known that not all Egyptians were evil and wished the Israelites harm. It is thought that his adoptive mother was named Bithiah, which means daughter of God. Shifrah and Puah, the two midwifes who flouted Pharaoh’s order to kill the Israelite baby boys, according to some sources, were also Egyptian. Did Moses think upon such individuals, those who are rich not in wealth or power, but in integrity, courage and goodness, whose souls are kept pure, though surrounded by despotism, corruption and evil? These individuals lived in Egypt, as they live today in similar regimes around the globe. How little has the world changed!
Moses spends forty years pleading for the Israelites before God, asking over and over again for mercy, as he was shown mercy by an Egyptian princess. Perhaps we should bear this in mind as we read Bo, with its shocking tenth plague, balanced by the long-last liberation of the children of Israel.
Come along this Saturday at 10:30 and read the story of the final plagues and the exit from Egypt, join in song and prayer, as Pat Lipert leads us forth.