I was raised to believe I was a god. I knew, in reality, that I was a mere mortal, yet my office demanded that I keep up the pretense. My people needed to believe in me. I’ll admit I’m not the easiest guy in the world to deal with. I can be impetuous, whimsical, sarcastic, demanding, insufferable – but then, You know all about that – because that describes You, too! The difference is that you really believe that You are G”d.
I don’t doubt for one moment, at least, not any longer, that You are a god, and that you are very powerful, perhaps-no probably-more powerful than all the gods of Egypt (myself and my dynastic ancestors included.)
Nevertheless, I have to argue with your methodology. Was it really necessary to interfere directly with my emotions, and cause me to harden my heart on all those occasions when I was surely ready to surrender-at least for the moment? Did You really need to inflict all this damage and pain upon my people and my country?
I’ve heard tell that you did this all purposefully, just to demonstrate that You were indeed a more powerful god – in fact, according to You and Your people, the one and only G”d. C’mon. If you are really the One G”d (and yes, my people have experimented with this model before, so it’s not entirely impossible for me to consider) isn’t that just a little petty? If all other gods are false gods, no-gods, what do you need to prove? Why should you care if people recognize you and worship you?
Look – if you are the One G”d, then it is You, and not Hapi (or maybe You knew her as Saptet,) that makes the Nile flood every year. We certainly don’t believe in You or worship You, yet still You give us the life-sustaining waters, You gave us victories against our enemies, gave us years of plenty and years of famine. So don’t go telling me that You need to be worshipped before delivering the goods that enable Your creations to thrive (that is, assuming You created us, and didn’t just happen upon us fully formed and decided to be a god to us.) You do it on a whim or a fancy, You let us pray to our gods and let us think they were doing the work, when all the time time it was You, right? So why the big fuss now? Why are you suddenly feeling starved for attention? Can’t you just be happy pulling the strings in the background, and letting us foolish mortals worship our make-believe gods?
Yes, we have and have had dozens and dozens of gods. Could they all have been, as my ancestor Akhenaten (and I could get in big trouble just for saying his name, so maybe I should refer to him by his original name Amenhotep IV – the IV is silent, I guess) simply manifestations of just one godhead? At least for a brief period in our history, we got there. Go visit what’s left of Amarna. That was an opportunity you missed. We were ripe for one god – could You not have come to us then? (Or maybe that really was You, though we called you Aten, and You’re mad at us because we went right back to our many gods in short order so You gave up on us?)
These Ivri, these Hebrews, these, well, slaves-they seem to be important to You. Why you have chosen them, from all the peoples of the earth, for some sort of special relationship, is a puzzlement. I will not presume to understand Your choice. Egypt is a mighty civilization, and we’ve been around a long time – thousands of years. Why not us? Is there something we lack? Is there something we have done that displeases You? Yes, frankly, we’re not as mighty as we once were – though perhaps we will be again – but surely we were worthy of Your attention. If You had but come to us, we would have been building pyramids for You rather than the gods we now or have worshipped (and yes, I admit there have been changes in our belief system over the millennia.)
Look, after those first few plagues, I was quite ready to let the Hebrews go. I knew from the start it was a ruse – that Moses was interested in more than just going out into the wilderness to worship You. It was all such an obvious ploy. Nevertheless, I was ready to give in. You stopped me! I could feel it – feel my heart hardening, my mind changing. I felt like a puppet. It wasn't enough for You to do it once, You did it over and over again, each time inflicting worse punishment on my people and my land. You got something with the number 10, maybe?
How petty, too, that you so deflated my people that they were disposed to let these slaves walk off with a good portion of all our wealth.
While I’m ranting, did you have to pick Moses to be the thorn in my side. There’s quite a bit of baggage between us already, as You must know. Sigh.
Now You’ve left me with no choice. Yes, I’ll put on a good show of being angry and lead what’s left of my army to chase these Hebrews and either bring them back or run them into the sea. The fact is, I’m dispirited, I don’t have much fight left in me, but once again my position requires me to do the right thing for Egypt. I’m sure you won’t make it easy – in fact, I’m quite sure I won’t succeed, and will have to return in disgrace – if You even let me live, which You might not. I’m prepared for that. Not happy about it, but prepared. You’ve set the scene, and now we must both play our part in this charade. I have to pretend it matters – pretend I have a chance of success when I know I don’t. Well, I’ve been faking being a god to my people for years, so why not?
I have to tell You – given Your behavior, tactics, ethics, and all, I’m not sure I could ever bring myself to worship You. You are a pretty flawed god from my perspective. So maybe it’s all for the best that we part ways.
You have fun guiding these people back to the land they say You gave them back in Canaan. I’ll just bet they do something to piss You off enough to give them a really rough time of it. You might even give up on them entirely and find another people to champion. Do me a favor. I’m on to You. We’re on to you. Don’t come back to us.
©2013 by Adrian A. Durlester
Other musings on this parasha:
Bo 5772 - Lifting the Cover of Darkness
Bo 5771 - Keretz MiTzafon-Again! (not the same as 5769)
Bo 5769-Keretz MiTzafon
Bo 5768 - Good Loser (Redux 5763)
Bo 5767-Teach Your Children Well (Redux 5762)
Bo 5766 - Random Disjunctions and Convergences (Redux 5760)
Bo 5765-Four Strikes and You're...Well...
Bo 5764-Keretz Ani
Bo 5763 -Good Loser
Bo 5761-Cover of Darkness
Bo 5762-Teach Your Children Well