Egypt & Israel
In the biblical books that narrate Israel’s Exodus from Egypt and its journeys in the wilderness, it is not difficult to detect a series of contrasts between God’s treatment of the Egyptians and his treatment of the Chosen People.
Following the lead of the Book of Wisdom (or The Wisdom of Solomon), the earliest work to elaborate these contrasts, we may reduce their number to five—chumash—the mystic figure associated with the Torah. These five contrasts have to do with: (1) thirst, (2) hunger, (3) weather, (4) light, and (5) life.
First, because of the changing of the Nile into blood the Egyptians were deprived of water and suffered intense thirst (Ex. 7:17–24). The Book of Wisdom (11:5–7,14) sees this defiling of the Nile as a penalty especially appropriate to Egypt’s sin of drowning the newborn Israelite boys in that river.
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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).
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