April 8th, marks the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover (Pesoch, in Hebrew). Basically, skipping a lot of interesting stuff, the story goes that the Jews were slaves in Egypt. They were mistreated and a leader, Moses, emerged at the behest of the Jewish God, to represent him (God) and the slaves in front of the Pharaoh. Basically, God wanted Pharaoh to release the Jews. Pharaoh initially said, “No”. So, as the story goes, god turned all the water in Egypt into blood, killing all the fish and other aquatic life.
Pharaoh still said, “No”. So, in turn, God attacked with Frogs, Lice, Flies, etc. Finally God used the ultimate weapon, killing all of the Egyptian first born. To be saved, the Israelites had to place the blood of a lamb on their door. If they did that, the angel of death “Passed Over”.
With that, the Pharaoh changed his mind and allowed the Jews to leave. The Red Sea parted for them, and then they wandered in the desert for 40 years, During that time they received the 10 commandments. So, basically, they left Egypt as slaves and emerged 40 years later as “The Jewish People” – God’s children.
Sounds a bit far fetched, how much of it might be true? This from the Israeli Newspaper Haaretz (The Land):
We tend, in the midst of our disdain for Egyptian, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, to overlook the fact that one of the biggest events of the Jewish calendar is predicated upon reminding the next generation every year of how the Egyptians were our cruel slave-masters, in a bondage that likely never happened.
The reality is that there is no evidence whatsoever that the Jews were ever enslaved in Egypt. Yes, there’s the story contained within the bible itself, but that’s not a remotely historically admissible source. I’m talking about real proof; archeological evidence, state records and primary sources. Of these, nothing exists.
It is hard to believe that 600,000 families (which would mean about two million people) crossed the entire Sinai without leaving one shard of pottery (the archeologist’s best friend) with Hebrew writing on it. It is remarkable that Egyptian records make no mention of the sudden migration of what would have been nearly a quarter of their population, nor has any evidence been found for any of the expected effects of such an exodus; such as economic downturn or labor shortages. Furthermore, there is no evidence in Israel that shows a sudden influx of people from another culture at that time. No rapid departure from traditional pottery has been seen, no record or story of a surge in population.
In fact, there’s absolutely no more evidence to suggest that the story is true than there is in support of any of the Arab world’s conspiracy theories and tall tales about Jews.
So, this holiday, celebrating an event that probably didn’t happen, was celebrated by Jesus. That, of course, got him into a bit of a kerfuffle with the Romans.
To be continued …