A Meaningful Story

A Meaningful Story

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A Meaningful Story

For my meaningful image, I chose the plague on the firstborn from Exodus 11-12.

Exodus 11-12 describes the plague on the firstborn which the lord casts upon the people of Egypt. It depicts the celebration of the Passover and the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. However, the means to this end are also depicted, those means being the death of every firstborn in Egypt "…from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill…" It is a religious image that portrays both the grace and the wrath of god.

This is a religious image not just because it is in the Bible, but because it represents the nature of God.

Exodus 11:5-7:
And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.
And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more.
But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.
These 3 verses exemplify the will and nature of the lord towards the Egyptians and the Israelites. He cast the plague among the Egyptians, but does not do the same unto the Israelites. This is a good example of the Christian teaching of "God is just" in this case being that god promised Moses freedom and delivered. However, one could also argue that since he only killed the firstborn of the Egyptians, that this violates that same teaching. The argument being that since god favoured the Israelites over the Egyptians, his actions are not justified.

The reason that this plague changed the pharaoh's judgment more than any of the previous plagues is that the previous plagues didn't affect the pharaoh much. The pharaoh wouldn't have cared much about hail or locusts because he would be safe inside his palace with shelter and warehouses of full food. It would've been the peasants that bore most of the brunt from the other plagues. When the last plague came, it affected him personally and created a harsher reality for him to live with.

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An example of this was in WW2 when America was only supplying weapons to the British as opposed to fighting. Then when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, it created a bigger response then the Invasion of Poland, Hungary and France because, it affected them directly. You could say that the ignorance of the pharaoh allowed his enemies to plan and exploit his weak points.

Of course, all of this analysis could be completely irrational and that the only reason that this story is in the Bible is that it would explain how the Israelites came from Egypt to Cannon. The scribes that wrote the Bible may have thought that a pharaoh simply freeing the Jews wouldn't be a very compelling story about god. One must remember that during that time many people were illiterate so the Bible would have been told verbally, and like most stories, the details are obscured with completely fictitious elements over time. It may be completely true that there was no plague and that there was simply the isolated death of the pharaoh's son that allowed the Israelites to flee Egypt.

Now if you take out the religious aspect and interpret this as a secular story with a moral, the moral could be "knowledge is power" or something similar. The reason being is that Moses knew about the coming of the plague and knew how to combat it. The pharaoh did not know it was coming and therefore could not prevent it.

In my opinion the image of the plague is a good religious story, but would otherwise fail in another context. In many religions and cultures, death is glorified. However, in most real life situations, even in war, death is despised. When you think of the Holocaust, you think of the 6 million Jews who died, not the few who survived. In Christianity, the death of Christ is glorified and surrounded with the sense of accomplishment, although Bible describes the death of Christ as a real world situation, not a legendary act. It is depicted as any other execution, with crowds cheering and the disciples mourning. My point is that in the Bible, death is emphasized too much and it is more than likely that the plague was mostly exaggerated. The reason for this being that a wrathful god was more compelling than a loving god during the times described in the Bible. This is not true today where Christians are taught to love rather than fear him. If the plague had happened today, it would be considered genocide and god would be put on tribunal. It is my opinion that religious stories excel in their context, but fail in modern life.

To me, this story is meaningful because it brings up many questions about the difference between religion perceived when the Bible was first written and today. Topics such as abortion, homosexuality, and blood transfusions have brought up major changes in how people perceive Christianity. A preacher during medieval times would say very different things compared to one today. This story is a relic from the time of Moses when God was given praise because he slaughtered his enemies, instead of loving them.
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