Exodus: A trop ménager la chèvre et le chou, Hollywood finit par perdre l’essentiel (While the jihadist beheading and ramming rages on, Ridley Scott goes for the fake science and misses the real theology)

https://i1.wp.com/www.lyricis.fr/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Exodus-Gods-and-Kings-Affiche-Moise-Sea.jpg
https://scontent-a-ams.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpa1/v/t1.0-9/10390891_10152540658871339_6195176451240323638_n.jpg?oh=367655a35bda136d6a78dbb80d802ebb&oe=5534E99FIl faut noter qu’en France la majorité des déséquilibrés – c’est logiquement mathématique – est composée de chrétiens. On signalera aussi qu’il y a des déséquilibrés juifs, même peut-être beaucoup car ces gens-là se tourmentent depuis 2000 ans… Cependant, il n’a pas été porté à notre connaissance que des déséquilibrés chrétiens soient allés renverser des piétons ou attaquer à l’arme blanche des policiers en criant « gloire au Christ-Roi ». On ne nous a pas fait savoir non plus que des déséquilibrés juifs se soient rendus dans une banlieue « sensible » dans le but de tuer et de blesser en hurlant « l’an prochain à Jérusalem ! ». C’est pourquoi il me semble que le cas de Dijon, et peut-être celui de Joué-lès-Tours (si les espoirs de France Info se confirment), doivent être immédiatement retirés des mains de M. Cazeneuve pour être confié à celles, plus adéquates, de Marisol Touraine. Il s’agit bien là d’une nouvelle pathologie, inconnue jusqu’à maintenant et que la France peut être fière de breveter. Une discipline parfaitement reconnue de la psychiatrie porte le nom d’ethnopsychiatrie. Elle postule, avec bon sens, que les manifestations psychotiques d’un guerrier Masai ne sont pas tout à fait identiques à celles d’un berger corse. Que la paranoïa d’un chercheur d’or d’Amazonie peut revêtir d’autres formes que les crises d’un chasseur de phoques eskimo. Que les névroses d’un habitué des pagodes bouddhistes font appel à d’autres références inconscientes que celles d’un catholique confit en dévotion. On pourrait imaginer que – déséquilibré pour déséquilibré – lire le Coran n’appelle pas tout à fait les mêmes réactions que la lecture de l’Ancien et du Nouveau Testament. En conséquence de quoi on ne voit pas pourquoi on s’arrêterait aux cas de Dijon et peut-être de Joué-lès-Tours (toujours selon France Info que je me plais à citer pour le plaisir). En effet, croit-on que les milliers de ressortissants européens qui partent égorger en Irak et en Syrie soient très équilibrés ? Que des centaines de milliers d’autres, qui eux aussi, hurlent « Allah akbar » réclamant des fatwas contre les infidèles soient parfaitement sains d’esprit ? Benoît Raysky
Compare the collective response after each harrowing high-school shooting in America. Intellectuals and public figures look for the root cause of the violence and ask: Why? Yet when I ask why after every terrorist attack, the disapproval I get from my non-Muslim peers is visceral: The majority of Muslims are not violent, they insist, the jihadists are a minority who don’t represent Islam, and I am fear-mongering by even wondering aloud. This is delusional thinking. Even as the world witnesses the barbarity of beheadings, habitual stoning and severe subjugation of women and minorities in the Muslim world, politicians and academics lecture that Islam is a “religion of peace.” Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia routinely beheads women for sorcery and witchcraft. In the U.S., we Muslims are handled like exotic flowers that will crumble if our faith is criticized—even if we do it ourselves. Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats alike would apparently prefer to drop bombs in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond, because killing Muslims is somehow less offensive than criticizing their religion? Unfortunately, you can’t kill an idea with a bomb, and so Islamism will continue to propagate. Muslims must tolerate civilized public debate of the texts and scripture that inform Islamism. To demand any less of us is to engage in the soft bigotry of low expectations. Aly Salem
Les drones américains ont liquidé plus de monde que le nombre total des détenus de Guantanamo. Pouvons nous être certains qu’il n’y avait parmi eux aucun cas d’erreurs sur la personne ou de morts innocentes ? Les prisonniers de Guantanamo avaient au moins une chance d’établir leur identité, d’être examinés par un Comité de surveillance et, dans la plupart des cas, d’être relâchés. Ceux qui restent à Guantanamo ont été contrôlés et, finalement, devront faire face à une forme quelconque de procédure judiciaire. Ceux qui ont été tués par des frappes de drones, quels qu’ils aient été, ont disparu. Un point c’est tout. Kurt Volker
Aujourd’hui on repère les boucs émissaires dans l’Angleterre victorienne et on ne les repère plus dans les sociétés archaïques. C’est défendu. René Girard
De nombreux commentateurs veulent aujourd’hui montrer que, loin d’être non violente, la Bible est vraiment pleine de violence. En un sens, ils ont raison. La représentation de la violence dans la Bible est énorme et plus vive, plus évocatrice, que dans la mythologie même grecque. (…) Il est une chose que j’apprécie dans le refus contemporain de cautionner la violence biblique, quelque chose de rafraîchissant et de stimulant, une capacité d’indignation qui, à quelques exceptions près, manque dans la recherche et l’exégèse religieuse classiques. (…) Une fois que nous nous rendons compte que nous avons à faire au même phénomène social dans la Bible que la mythologie, à savoir la foule hystérique qui ne se calmera pas tant qu’elle n’aura pas lynché une victime, nous ne pouvons manquer de prendre conscience du fait de la grande singularité biblique, même de son caractère unique. (…) Dans la mythologie, la violence collective est toujours représentée à partir du point de vue de l’agresseur et donc on n’entend jamais les victimes elles-mêmes. On ne les entend jamais se lamenter sur leur triste sort et maudire leurs persécuteurs comme ils le font dans les Psaumes. Tout est raconté du point de vue des bourreaux. (…) Pas étonnant que les mythes grecs, les épopées grecques et les tragédies grecques sont toutes sereines, harmonieuses et non perturbées. (…) Pour moi, les Psaumes racontent la même histoire de base que les mythes mais retournée, pour ainsi dire. (…) Les Psaumes d’exécration ou de malédiction sont les premiers textes dans l’histoire qui permettent aux victimes, à jamais réduites au silence dans la mythologie, d’avoir une voix qui leur soit propre. (…) Ces victimes ressentent exactement la même chose que Job. Il faut décrire le livre de Job, je crois, comme un psaume considérablement élargi de malédiction. Si Job était un mythe, nous aurions seulement le point de vue des amis. (…) La critique actuelle de la violence dans la Bible ne soupçonne pas que la violence représentée dans la Bible peut être aussi dans les évènements derrière la mythologie, bien qu’invisible parce qu’elle est non représentée. La Bible est le premier texte à représenter la victimisation du point de vue de la victime, et c’est cette représentation qui est responsable, en fin de compte, de notre propre sensibilité supérieure à la violence. Ce n’est pas le fait de notre intelligence supérieure ou de notre sensibilité. Le fait qu’aujourd’hui nous pouvons passer jugement sur ces textes pour leur violence est un mystère. Personne d’autre n’a jamais fait cela dans le passé. C’est pour des raisons bibliques, paradoxalement, que nous critiquons la Bible. (…) Alors que dans le mythe, nous apprenons le lynchage de la bouche des persécuteurs qui soutiennent qu’ils ont bien fait de lyncher leurs victimes, dans la Bible nous entendons la voix des victimes elles-mêmes qui ne voient nullement le lynchage comme une chose agréable et nous disent en des mots extrêmement violents, des mots qui reflètent une réalité violente qui est aussi à l’origine de la mythologie, mais qui restant invisible, déforme notre compréhension générale de la littérature païenne et de la mythologie. René Girard
Peut-on imaginer personnage littéraire plus désagréable que le Dieu de l’Ancien Testament? Jaloux et en étant fier; obsédé de l’autorité, mesquin, injuste et impitoyable; vengeur et sanguinaire tenant de l’épuration ethnique; tyrannique, misogyne, homophobe, raciste, infanticide, génocidaire, fillicide, pestilentiel, mégalomane, sadomasochiste et capricieusement diabolique. Richard Dawkins
More and more geoscientists are willing to combine their work with such stories these days, in a budding discipline called geomythology. Volcanologist Floyd McCoy of the University of Hawaii, Manoa, says discussing myth has traditionally been “a good way to sink your own credibility”; it can put you on the list with flaky Atlantologists and other amateur zealots. But, says McCoy, “I’d be a fool to write it all off. There is a new realization that some myths have something to say.” Myths can sometimes alert researchers to previously unheeded geohazards; in other cases, where science has demonstrated the danger, legends “enrich the record” and reinforce the fact that people lie in harm’s way, says paleoseismologist Brian Atwater of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Seattle, who has spearheaded many studies of seismic events in the Pacific Northwest. The trick is teasing out which myths carry kernels of truth that can be connected to hard data. The movement traces in part to the 1980s, when scientists realized that the slow march of geologic time is sometimes punctuated by biblical-scale catastrophes, such as the giant meteorite that wiped out dinosaurs 65 million years ago. After this was accepted, some (usually those with tenure) felt freer to wonder if near-universal myths of great floods and fires implied that such disasters also have punctuated human time. (…) Paleoseismologists have a modern explanation: Quaking along the offshore subduction zone has produced at least a dozen huge tsunamis at intervals of 200 to 1000 years, as shown by shore deposits including inland sand sheets and mud that buried native camps. The most recent wave is dated through tree rings and other evidence to January 1700; scientists agree the next can come any time. The utility of myth became clear in the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. While up to 300,000 people are thought to have died, the indigenous seafaring Moken people of Thailand almost all survived. Their traditions warn that when the tide recedes far and fast—as happens before tsunamis—a man-eating wave is coming, and everyone should run. They did. Patrick Nunn, a geoscientist at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, believes such stories can be harnessed to find other hidden geohazards. He currently has a grant from the French government to collect tales that might pinpoint islands where scientists should look for warnings of earthquakes, volcanoes, or catastrophic landslides not included in written records. These include common motifs in which deities “fish up” islands from the water and sometimes throw them back. Nunn thinks such tales may encode sudden uplifts, subsidences, or flank collapses of islands, and he has already confirmed that sinking islands are not just myths. (…) Myth has also figured in work at Nyos, a crater lake in Cameroon that exploded and killed 1700 people in 1986. The disaster was at first a mystery, with no signs of volcanic eruption. Scientists finally figured out that carbon dioxide bubbling from deep rocks had slowly built up in the water, then burst out and suffocated all living things nearby—a phenomenon never observed by scientists. It could have been dismissed as a one-time fluke except for the fact that the region is full of stories about haunted lakes that rise, sink, or blow up. Anthropologist Eugenia Shanklin of The College of New Jersey in Trenton, who collected the stories, says many local people have taboos against living near lakes and instead dwell on high ground. Scientists now know that gas buildup affects at least one other lake in the region, Lake Monoun, as well as giant Lake Kivu in east Africa, which has 2 million people living on its shores. The myths “helped tell us it happened before, and it will happen again,” says geochemist William Evans of USGS in Menlo Park, California, who is working to remove gas now rebuilding in Nyos and Monoun. Next year, the Geological Society of London will publish Geology and Myth, a collection of papers by Shanklin, Nunn, and others. Co-editor Luigi Piccardi, a structural geologist at the National Research Council of Italy, says he hopes it will lead colleagues to take the field more seriously. Among other work, Piccardi has studied a cataclysmic 493 C.E. appearance at southern Italy’s Monte Sant’Angelo by the Archangel Michael, said to have left his footprint in the rocks—code, Piccardi says, for a big, previously unauthenticated earthquake. In the late 1990s, Piccardi found ample physical evidence for the event, including a dramatic fault scarp in the floor of the popular shrine to the apparition, long hidden until it was uncovered in archaeological excavations—the apparent “footprint.” In 2001, the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Rome upgraded the area to seismic high risk. This may also be an example of how geomyths are periodically reinvented in places where disasters reoccur: The shrine was previously an oracle and supposed entry to the underworld dedicated to the Greek seer Kalchas, who is mentioned in The Iliad. Piccardi’s description of the shrine is in press at Tectonophysics. Piccardi is currently studying the possibility that many ancient sites of worship and miracles are over active faults, on the theory that past rumblings and cracking have been transmuted into visits by monsters and gods. One such example is the oracle at Delphi, Greece. Here, priestesses were said to enter prophetic trances by inhaling the breath of the god Apollo from a magical chasm; people came from around the ancient world to hear their words. While the oracle was indisputably real, classical scholars wrote off the chasm as an invention—until geologist Jelle de Boer of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and archaeologist John Hale of the University of Louisville in Kentucky published a series of papers on the oracle over the past few years. De Boer and Hale showed that the ruins of Delphi lie over the juncture of two faults that conduct up psychoactive hydrocarbon gases through a spring, exactly as described in ancient accounts. (Why some prophecies were uncannily accurate is another question.) This summer, de Boer and Hale visited the partially excavated ruins of the oracles of Apollo at Klaros and Didyma in southwest Turkey and detected hydrocarbon gases there too. The process of translating myth into geology, or vice versa, can be murky, but Elizabeth Barber, a professor of linguistics and archaeology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California, believes it can be done scientifically. In the recent book When They Severed Earth From Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth, she argues that transmutations of reality into myth take predictable courses, with natural forces often turned into supernatural beings (Science,27 May, p. 1261). Some examples seem straightforward. A story from the Klamath people of Oregon about a battle between the chiefs of Above World and Below World is faithful in every geologic detail to the volcanic explosion of Mount Mazama and the formation of Crater Lake in its place, from the rain of burning ash and rock to many years of rainfall afterward that eventually filled in the crater—a process that started 7000 years ago. Other legends are more confusing. These include a hypothesis that the pillars of cloud and fire that guided the Hebrews from Egypt came from the 1625 B.C.E. volcanic eruption of Thera in the Mediterranean. Here, mismatches between dates of the events and problems with the Hebrews’route lead Barber to think the account is conflated from several real but distinct events. “The question is how often and in what cases you can take it back literally,” she said. Other researchers’ hypotheses about events as widely varied as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the death of King Arthur (said by some to relate to a catastrophic comet impact) suffer similar problems of time and space. Efforts to connect myths with comet or meteorite impacts have met with skepticism. Repeated, undetected big impacts in human time “contradict everything we know about the rate of impacts on Earth, and the inventory of what’s out there now, and their dynamics,” says David Morrison of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, head of the global Near Earth Object Working Group, which tracks celestial objects that might endanger Earth. The pendulum may have swung too far in favor of accepting myths, says social anthropologist Benny Peiser of Liverpool John Moores University in the U.K., who runs the Cambridge Conference Network, an Internet clearinghouse for catastrophist theories. Now that more people are willing to listen, he says, too many scientists are invoking myth “left, right, and center to explain everything.” In a paper at a late-October workshop on natural catastrophes in the ancient Mediterranean, he asserts that no major myths have yet met scientific standards, although he does credit some regional ones, such as the Pacific Northwest earthquakes. Kevin Krajick
From the Egyptian standpoint the departure of the Hebrews from Egypt was actually a justifiable expulsion. The main sources are the writings of Manetho and Apion, which are summarized and refuted in Josephus’s work Against Apion . . . Manetho was an Egyptian priest in Heliopolis. Apion was an Egyptian who wrote in Greek and played a prominent role in Egyptian cultural and political life. His account of the Exodus was used in an attack on the claims and rights of Alexandrian Jews . . . [T]he Hellenistic-Egyptian version of the Exodus may be summarized as follows: The Egyptians faced a major crisis precipitated by a group of people suffering from various diseases. For fear the disease would spread or something worse would happen, this motley lot was assembled and expelled from the country. Under the leadership of a certain Moses, these people were dispatched; they constituted themselves then as a religious and national unity. They finally settled in Jerusalem and became the ancestors of the Jews. James G. Williams
What in the world is going on with Exodus: Gods and Kings? It’s as if Scott couldn’t choose between two titles—one for the biblically attuned, another for everyone else—so he just crammed them together with a colon as buffer. Christopher Orr
Écrit par les juifs en exil à Babylone (597-537 avant J.-C.), l’Exode est une longue méditation sur un peuple sans roi et avec un Dieu, qui affronte un peuple avec des Rois considérés comme des dieux. C’est aussi une réflexion sur la place du roi et de la loi, face à l’arbitraire et à la dictature. De cela, l’auteur ne s’embarrasse malheureusement guère. Même si on peut lui savoir gré d’une certaine sobriété dans la représentation du divin. C’est à travers la bouche d’un enfant, un enfant têtu, parfois colérique, que Dieu parle à Moïse, et l’idée fonctionne bien. Mais Moïse, interprété par Christian Bale, manque d’épaisseur, et au fond, d’humanité. On ne ressent guère le déchirement d’un homme entre deux peuples, hébreu par sa naissance, égyptien par son éducation. Les quelques scènes domestiques avec sa femme Tsipporah sont convenues, et, au-delà des deux héros (Pharaon est joué par Joel Edgerton), aucune place n’est laissée aux seconds rôles, Aaron comme la mère et la sœur de Moïse sont tout juste évoqués. Le combat fratricide qui oppose Moïse au pharaon (Ramsès II, traditionnellement considéré comme le pharaon de Moïse, même s’il n’en existe aucune preuve) donne les meilleures scènes du film. Les dix plaies qui s’abattent sur l’Égypte, l’entêtement du pharaon, la cruauté du Dieu des Hébreux qui se venge sur les enfants égyptiens premiers-nés sont, finalement, assez fidèles au genre des pages bibliques. Cela se gâte pour le passage de la mer Rouge, noyé par une sorte de tsunami improbable et ennuyeux. Et la traversée du désert est bâclée en quelques images, alors que c’est bien là que se joue la constitution du peuple Juif. Au fond, c’est l’Égypte qui intéresse Ridley Scott, et non le peuple hébreu. Il reste de belles images d’un film très familial, qui peut au moins permettre d’éveiller l’intérêt des plus jeunes sur l’un des textes fondateurs de la civilisation judéo-chrétienne. La Croix
The maledictions in the curse-lists of Leviticus and Deuteronomy have been shown to be part of a stock of traditional curses employed during the biblical period in the geographical area extending from Israel to ancient Mesopotamia. Not only are they attested in the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), but also in the prophets; they also appear in the “curse” sections of contemporaneous ancient Near Eastern treaties.These “curses” reflect the kinds of things that could, and probably did, happen in this geographical area as a result of natural or humanly-imposed calamities. (…) perhaps a series of natural disasters occurred in Egypt in a relatively short period of time. Egyptian religion would have had to explain it. A link between these disasters and various Egyptian deities (expressing their displeasure) formed. No matter how Egyptians interpreted these disasters, Israelites could have accepted the notion that they were divinely caused but would have viewed them as contests between their patron and the gods of Egypt, the result of which were judgments against the gods of Egypt and their earthly representatives.Trace of this stage in the development of the tradition can be found in the Biblical narrative. During this, the interpretative stage, the plagues were theologized, providing cosmic meaning to the natural phenomena even as they were removed from the realm of what we would call “nature.” The Plague traditions, which were maintained orally by the Israelites until some time after the establishment of the monarchy, continued to be reworked in the land of Israel. There, far from the ecological context of Egypt, some phenomena natural in Egypt would have appeared incomprehensible to them and even fantastic, inviting imaginative embellishment. The Israelite traditors, those who passed on the tradition, were no longer familiar with the Egyptian cultural milieu in which the disasters had been theoligized and made meaningful by their ancestors. These traditors, therefore, made them meaningful within their own world view by connection the plagues, which initiated the emergence of Israel as a covenant community, with the creation of the world. Ziony Zevit
Not only have the exciting Biblical elements, such as a lonely baby floating down a raging Nile, a hero with a speech impediment sent to speak to the most powerful leader in the world, a brotherly side-kick, been edited out of the movie, God has been turned into a petulant child. This is the precise opposite of the narrative, which depicts a God who has control of every element of nature, including death and Pharaoh. But movie Moses’ exasperated cry, “Who are you punishing?” misses the textual point that the Hebrews were not subjected to the majority of the plagues. I should not be surprised as it seems no one involved with this movie has ever read the Biblical account. The movie is manipulative in its anti-religious polemic. All the supernatural elements of the story (which are in the Bible to make theological points about the God of the Hebrews and thus are literarily important to the characterization of God, regardless of one’s faith position) are stripped away or given a “scientific” explanation within the dialogue. It’s amazing that the movie had time for that when it rushed through the plagues. To my count, only eight or possibly nine were depicted (though the alligator plague might be an improvement on the text). The Egyptian priestess (apparently there was only one in Memphis) and the prophet are slain for incompetence. Moses is a firm atheist until he suffers a traumatic brain injury which makes him hallucinate a boy-god. Which brings us to the petulant, malicious boy-god, who plagues the Hebrews alongside the Egyptians, ignores Moses’ pleas for mercy and binds the Hebrews to him without choice in the final plague. Ellen White

Cachez ces boucs émissaires que je ne saurai voir !

Fleuve changé en sang et ulcères, invasion de grenouilles, poux, mouches et sauterelles, grêle et ténèbres, mort des troupeaux et des premiers-nés …

En ces temps étranges, en ce dixième anniversaire du tsunami de Noël 2004, où il est moins offensant de tuer des musulmans par drones que de critiquer leur religion

Et où une crèche de Noël peut se révéler plus menaçante que la dite religion qui appelle ses fidèles à égorger nos fils et nos compagnes

Où, à la Richard Dawkins, nos contemporains n’ont pas de mots assez durs pour dénoncer la Bible et le Dieu de la Bible

Et où, à l’instar de nos théologiens, scientifiques ou cinéastes, l’on s’escrime pour justifier la « cruauté d’un Dieu qui se venge sur les enfants égyptiens premiers-nés » …

Pendant des juristes égyptiens proposent de poursuvre les juifs en justice pour l’argenterie embarquée lors de l’exode …

Comment ne pas s’étonner, avec la sortie en salle de la toute dernière version hollywoodienne de l’Exode – déjà interdite, comme il se doit, au Maroc et probablement bientôt en Egypte même  …

De ce remarquable refus, en une année pourtant riche en films religieux, de notre époque de repérer dans les sociétés archaïques, comme le rappelle Girard, ce que l’on repère si facilement dans notre propre Moyen-Age ou l’Angleterre victorienne …

Qui, derrière une liste aussi incroyable et stéréotypée de malédictions et de calamités attribuées aux premiers hébreux, s’interdit de voir les mêmes fausses accusations d’empoisonnement des sources d’eau ou de crime rituel d’enfants qui justifièrent bien plus tard chez nous l’expulsion de leurs descendants médiévaux ?

Et qui, au-delà de son évidente dimension mythologique, finit par perdre toute la grandeur et la subversion d’un texte biblique …

Qui non content de se choisir, comme héros national, un métèque au nom égyptien et fils d’on ne sait pas trop qui (son maitre Ramses était au moins  fils de Ra), maqué de surcroit avec une Ethiopienne et qui n’atteindra et ne sera meme pas enterré sur la terre ancestrale …

Retourne, en une sorte de contre-histoire, lesdites accusations en actes délibérés d’une libération divine …

Jusqu’à en tirer, à la manière de ces hérétiques juifs qui un millénaire plus tard fonderont leur religion sur la plus infâme des mises à mort, … son propre récit fondateur ?

Review: ‘Exodus’ Is God-Awful

Scott Mendelson

Forbes

12/05/2014

Exodus: Gods and Kings comes to us courtesy of 20th Century Fox, which is distributing Ridley Scott’s $140 million would-be epic. The producers this time around are Chernin Entertainment, Scott Free Productions, Babieka, and Volcano Films. The film opens wide in America on December 12th, 2014, and it has already opened in some overseas markets as of December 3rd. Over the next few months, it will of course attempt to play a two-sided game. On on hand, the film will be targeting the overtly religious moviegoers that have made quite a bit of noise this year. On the other hand, 20th Century Fox wants the general moviegoers worldwide who just want a major spectacle-filled blockbuster regardless of the film’s would-be religious dogma.

Working in the film’s favor is the relatively well-known (if not “all-star” in a box office sense) cast, featuring the likes of Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, and John Turturro in roles of various sizes. Also of note is director Ridley Scott, who allows Fox to put things like “from the director of Gladiator” on the marketing materials. 20th Century Fox is one of the best studios in terms of overseas box office, so I can’t imagine anything less than a worldwide hit regardless of the film’s quality or racially-correct casting.

I’d love to tell you that the controversy over the race bending/whitewashing of the film’s cast will affect the box office in some kind of “that will teach you” kind of way, but that’s not true. Ridley Scott was mostly correct when he discussed the challenges of getting financing for a mega-budget spectacle without major (read – mostly white) movie stars. Until Hollywood puts more effort into actually crafting major movie stars outside of the mostly Anglo-Saxon variety, this is going to be an ongoing issue, even if I would argue that really only Christian Bale counts as a “movie star.” That’s of course why I was so tough on the new Star Wars film, because it by virtue of its guaranteed bank-ability has at least the potential to do things differently.

For those who aren’t Middle Earth junkies, Exodus has positioned itself as the proverbial “event film” of the Christmas season, where it will presumably get a boost after opening weekend from both Hanukkah (which starts on December 16th) and Christmas (December 25th). The big Christmas releases are mostly smaller-scale pictures, such as Into the Woods and the Oscar bait vehicles Unbroken and American Sniper. Not to spoil the review, but Exodus is not an Oscar contender. But considering Fox’s overseas mojo, it’s tough not to imagine the film becoming something of a global hit.

The Review:
Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings (trailer) is a terrible film. It is a badly acted and badly written melodrama that takes what should be a passionate and emotionally wrenching story and drains it of all life and all dramatic interest. It hits all the major points, like checking off boxes on a list, yet tells its tale at an arms-length reserve with paper-thin characters. It is arguably a film intended for adults, with violence that makes a mockery of its PG-13 rating, yet it has far less nuance, emotional impact, and moral shading than DreamWorks Animation’s PG-rated and seemingly kid-targeted The Prince of Egypt.

The film starts with an arbitrary mass battle scene, one which serves no purpose save for having a mass battle sequence to toss into the trailers. The primary alteration to the story is the inclusion of said gratuitous action beats. The film is relentlessly grim yet oddly unemotional, which is a tricky balance to accidentally pull off. The actors (who have all done excellent work elsewhere) are all oddly miscast, and that’s not even getting to the whole “really white actors playing Egyptians” thing. Oh right, that little issue… It’s actually worse than you’ve heard.

In retrospect, it may have been better to just make a 100% white cast similar to Noah. This film instead is filled with minorities in subservient roles, be it slaves, servants, or (implied) palace sex toys. Instead of merely having a film filled with only white actors, what the film does is implicitly impose a racially-based class system, where the white characters are prestigious and/or important while the various minorities are inherently second or third-class citizens almost by virtue of their skin color. I am sure this was unintentional, but that’s the visual picture that Exodus paints.

Now to be absolutely fair, even if Exodus was cast with 100% racial/ethnic authenticity, it would still be a pretty bad motion picture. The screenplay has our poor, miscast actors speaking in various accents and in a bizarre hybrid of “ancient times period piece” English and more modern American English, which leads to lines like “From an economic standpoint alone, what you’re asking is problematic,” which is Rameses’s (Joel Edgerton) response to Moses’s initial plea to “Let my people go!”

The key fatal flaws of Exodus is the lack of any emotional focal point and a lack of any real urgency to the proceedings. The film is so emotionally flat, really throughout the entire 150-minute run time, that it feels less like a movie than a handsomely-staged and visually-spectacular book report of the story of Moses and the Jews. The film stumbles badly in its second half as well, attempting to “deepen” the story by making Moses conflicted and offering hints that he was basically a terrorist (he explicitly states that they have to attack the civilians to nudge the government), regardless of the fact that God is basically going to do what God is going to do with or without his help.

As is arguably the case in the original text, Moses is a pretty passive protagonist. That would be less problematic with an additional character arc, like (for example) the conflict between loving brothers that powered The Prince of Egypt, but absent such a hook the film basically amounts to watching events we know all-too-well unfold onscreen with no engagement beyond visceral appreciation of the violence. Yes, the scene of chariots tumbling off a collapsing mountainside is pretty awesome, but it’s a weird thing to watch thousands of civilians die horribly and merely be impressed by the special effects.

There is one pretty terrific artistic choice. Ridley Scott cast an eleven-year old boy, Brit Isaac Andrews, to represent the all-might Lord and it’s divine. Eschewing the standard “might voice from the sky” shtick, Andrews plays God as a pissed-off, impatient, and petulant child. It’s both genuinely captivating and deliciously entertaining. It’s the kind of outside-the-box and courageous artistic gamble that exemplifies what is lacking in the rest of the picture.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Noah, but I admired that film’s go-for-broke imagination and relentless pessimism and for what was clearly as a “new” take on the old story. Nearly all of Exodus is a routine by-the-numbers retelling of an oft-told tale with little to justify itself beyond improved special effects. If I had to take a guess, I would speculate that the filmmakers were caught between two opposing goals. There was perhaps an intent to update the Exodus story not just with grander special effects and grimmer storytelling but with a certain ambivalence and reflection. But there was also the pressure to deliver a big-budget blockbuster that would appeal to mass audiences who don’t always want moral shades of grey in their spectacles as well as the devoutly religious who will walk into the film expecting to be offended on a theological level.

So the film ends up being arguably the worst of both worlds. It’s “dark and gritty,” utterly lacking in humor or excitement, and yet it’s simplistic and painfully straight-forward, offering little nuance and little artistic interpretation beyond hitting the expected goal posts. It adds needless action scenes in order to appear more action-packed and yet adds little emotional engagement or character development to make us care about said action. It is overly reverent to the sacred text yet offers no religious emphasis for the sake of not offending those outside the dogma. By playing it weirdly “safe”, it old-school pulpy excitement of Gladiator or the emotional and social nuances of the painfully underrated Kingdom of Heaven (which may be my favorite Ridley Scott film).

The film’s final moment is an onscreen text card dedicating the film to Tony Scott, who of course committed suicide two years ago. In that flash, we get all the makings of an entirely different film, a potentially superior and certainly more personal one that told the Moses/Ramesses story through the prism of Tony and Ridley’s relationship, whatever that might have been. I don’t know what that version of Exodus might have been, and it’s not my job to tell filmmakers what artistic choices they should have made, but that closing title card contains more emotional oomph that the entire 150-minutes of Exodus: Gods and Kings preceding it.

Voir aussi

Excruciating Exodus Movie Exudes Errors
Exodus: Gods and Kings reeks with wretchedness
Ellen White
Biblical archeology
12/18/2014
Colossal expense equals colossal waste for the new Ridley Scott movie Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014). The story has been changed so much from the Biblical narrative that it is barely recognizable.
My mother always taught me that if I don’t have anything nice to say, I should say nothing at all. If I were to follow her policy, this review of Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) would end now.

I should say I am not a purist. I understand that Biblical material needs to be added to in order to make a motion picture. After all, very rarely does the Bible give a physical description of a character. I also understand that changes might need to be made for technical reasons or to make the story flow — though Scott’s explanation for the racial make-up of his casting falls flat. Heck, I even like Dan Brown books. Sure, I notice the inaccuracies, but the man tells good stories. So why am I annoyed that Exodus: Gods and Kings bears almost no resemblance to the Biblical narrative? Because it pretends to be something that it is not.

It is beyond me to understand why one of the most action-packed, intense Biblical narratives needed such dramatic altering by writers Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine and Steven Zaillian. Their story was so different that if they didn’t use the Biblical names and released the same movie with a different title, I might not have even recognized it—especially with all the Arthurian mythology woven in—though the caricature and stereotypes that ran through the film shoved the viewer in that direction.

exodus-comic

Not only have the exciting Biblical elements, such as a lonely baby floating down a raging Nile, a hero with a speech impediment sent to speak to the most powerful leader in the world, a brotherly side-kick, been edited out of the movie, God has been turned into a petulant child. This is the precise opposite of the narrative, which depicts a God who has control of every element of nature, including death and Pharaoh. But movie Moses’ exasperated cry, “Who are you punishing?” misses the textual point that the Hebrews were not subjected to the majority of the plagues. I should not be surprised as it seems no one involved with this movie has ever read the Biblical account. This comic visually demonstrates the plague of darkness that affected the Egyptians but not the Israelites (Exodus 10:22–23). Image: bit.ly/1C3fxnd courtesy Barer at Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.
The movie is manipulative in its anti-religious polemic. All the supernatural elements of the story (which are in the Bible to make theological points about the God of the Hebrews and thus are literarily important to the characterization of God, regardless of one’s faith position) are stripped away or given a “scientific” explanation within the dialogue. It’s amazing that the movie had time for that when it rushed through the plagues. To my count, only eight or possibly nine were depicted (though the alligator plague might be an improvement on the text). The Egyptian priestess (apparently there was only one in Memphis) and the prophet are slain for incompetence. Moses is a firm atheist until he suffers a traumatic brain injury which makes him hallucinate a boy-god. Which brings us to the petulant, malicious boy-god, who plagues the Hebrews alongside the Egyptians, ignores Moses’ pleas for mercy and binds the Hebrews to him without choice in the final plague. All of these alterations were designed to make religion look senile. This is misdirection at best considering the blatant attempt to attract religious viewers with the movie’s “Biblical” subject matter.

My intention was to create a list of all the changes made to the text, the historical inaccuracies and the archaeological brutalities, but there are just too many of them. To do this would result in a review that was twice the length of the script itself. Even where I might be able to offer praise at the movie’s use of paleo-Hebrew (a single rudimentary mem), it was written on a full sheet of papyrus by a slave. Seriously?! What slave can afford to buy papyrus? Not to mention can read or write? I know I am not supposed to ask these questions, but I am also supposed to find at least something nice to say about everything. I guess I am just not very good at doing what I am supposed to.

Leaving aside the mutilations to the text, the historical record and the archaeological remains, the melodramatic nature of the characters made them phony and dislikable. Thus, even if you can put everything else aside, I would still recommend you skip this incredible waste of time and money.

ellen-whiteEllen White, Ph.D. (Hebrew Bible, University of St. Michael’s College), is the senior editor at the Biblical Archaeology Society. She has taught at five universities across the U.S. and Canada and spent research leaves in Germany and Romania. She has also been actively involved in digs at various sites in Israel.

Voir également:

« Exodus », Ridley Scott plus fasciné par l’Egypte que par Moïse

Ridley Scott livre un film aux beaux effets spéciaux, à l’image soignée, mais manquant d’humanité.
La Croix

23/12/14

EXODUS : GODS AND KINGS

de Ridley Scott
Film américain, 2 h 35

Après Noé au printemps dernier, voici Moïse : la Bible reste décidément une inépuisable source d’inspiration pour les cinéastes américains. Mais si le Noé de Darren Aronofsky était un film assez prétentieux, ce Moïse (Exodus, Gods and Kings) a l’avantage de n’être rien d’autre que ce qu’il annonce : un blockbuster à gros moyens financiers et humains, filmé par un Ridley Scott agnostique, et visiblement surtout intéressé par les scènes de combat ou les effets spéciaux. De ce point de vue, on ne s’ennuie pas, car le cinéaste de Gladiator (2000) parvient à recréer l’atmosphère de l’Égypte dans ses moindres détails, grâce à une utilisation astucieuse de la 3D et des images somptueuses.
Moïse manque d’épaisseur

Écrit par les juifs en exil à Babylone (597-537 avant J.-C.), l’Exode est une longue méditation sur un peuple sans roi et avec un Dieu, qui affronte un peuple avec des Rois considérés comme des dieux. C’est aussi une réflexion sur la place du roi et de la loi, face à l’arbitraire et à la dictature. De cela, l’auteur ne s’embarrasse malheureusement guère. Même si on peut lui savoir gré d’une certaine sobriété dans la représentation du divin. C’est à travers la bouche d’un enfant, un enfant têtu, parfois colérique, que Dieu parle à Moïse, et l’idée fonctionne bien.

Mais Moïse, interprété par Christian Bale, manque d’épaisseur, et au fond, d’humanité. On ne ressent guère le déchirement d’un homme entre deux peuples, hébreu par sa naissance, égyptien par son éducation. Les quelques scènes domestiques avec sa femme Tsipporah sont convenues, et, au-delà des deux héros (Pharaon est joué par Joel Edgerton), aucune place n’est laissée aux seconds rôles, Aaron comme la mère et la sœur de Moïse sont tout juste évoqués.
Un film très familial, aux belles images

Le combat fratricide qui oppose Moïse au pharaon (Ramsès II, traditionnellement considéré comme le pharaon de Moïse, même s’il n’en existe aucune preuve) donne les meilleures scènes du film. Les dix plaies qui s’abattent sur l’Égypte, l’entêtement du pharaon, la cruauté du Dieu des Hébreux qui se venge sur les enfants égyptiens premiers-nés sont, finalement, assez fidèles au genre des pages bibliques. Cela se gâte pour le passage de la mer Rouge, noyé par une sorte de tsunami improbable et ennuyeux. Et la traversée du désert est bâclée en quelques images, alors que c’est bien là que se joue la constitution du peuple Juif. Au fond, c’est l’Égypte qui intéresse Ridley Scott, et non le peuple hébreu. Il reste de belles images d’un film très familial, qui peut au moins permettre d’éveiller l’intérêt des plus jeunes sur l’un des textes fondateurs de la civilisation judéo-chrétienne.

Voir encore:

Exodus : que dit la science sur « les dix plaies d’Egypte » ?
Le film de Ridley Scott sort mercredi en salles. Quels événements réels auraient pu expliquer les 10 plaies d’Egypte ? L’analyse des chercheurs.
Hervé Ratel
Sciences et avenir
22-12-2014

INSPIRATION. Au moment où sort sur nos écrans « Exodus » de Ridley Scott, resucée de la superproduction de 1956 de Cecil B.DeMille « Les 10 commandements » en à peine moins kitsch, il peut sembler opportun de se poser la question : les multiples fléaux-invasions d’espèces nuisibles, phénomènes météorologiques exceptionnels, épidémies animales et humaines dont l’Egypte aurait été la victime lors de cet épisode biblique de l’Exode auraient-ils pu s’inspirer de faits réels ?

En effet, il est frappant de constater que la succession des plaies qui s’abattent alors sur pharaon et sur son peuple obéit à un enchaînement quasi naturel, chaque fléau pouvant se lire comme la conséquence des précédents selon la dynamique d’un terrifiant effet domino. D’ailleurs, dans le film de Ridley Scott, un des conseillers du pharaon s’essaye bien à une ébauche d’explication rationnelle pour expliquer la série de catastrophes en cours : la mort des poissons du Nil qui engendre une invasion terrestre de grenouilles, la pourriture des poissons attirant les mouches et les parasites, qui propagent des maladies parmi les animaux et les Hommes, et ainsi de suite… Las, dans le film, la clairvoyance de ce proto-scientifique contrariera pharaon et vaudra au malheureux de se tortiller le lendemain au bout d’une potence…

Pourtant, il est un évènement géologique majeur qui pourrait effectivement avoir donné naissance à la série de cataclysmes qui frappèrent l’Egypte ancienne et servi de ferment au mythe de la fuite de Moïse et des siens : l’éruption du mont Santorin.

CATACLYSME. Situé à 800 km à vol d’oiseau au nord-ouest du pays des pharaons, ce volcan de la mer Égée en bordure de la Crète entra en éruption en l’an 1645 avant notre ère avec la puissance explosive d’une quarantaine de bombes atomiques, ne laissant en lieu et place du cône volcanique qu’une immense caldeira béante ! En deux jours, 120 km3 de matières éruptives, soit 40 fois plus que lors de l’éruption du Vésuve qui ensevelira Pompéi en 79 après JC, furent expulsées à 30 km d’altitude dans un panache qui tutoya la stratosphère.

Sur place, les dégâts matériels et humains furent bien évidemment absolus : l’île et ses habitants cessèrent purement et simplement d’exister. On oublia même totalement durant des siècles que Santorin ait accueilli un jour une activité humaine jusqu’à ce que des fouilles entamées en 1967 exhument sous des couches épaisses de cendres et de pierres ponces, les restes d’Akrotiri, une des villes naguère florissantes de l’île.

En tout, une centaine d’autres éruptions du Santorin ont eu lieu au cours des 400.000 dernières années. La dernière en date remonte à 1950 et les géologues sont sur le pied de guerre pour repérer la prochaine à venir.

L’archipel de Santorin, constitué aujourd’hui de cinq îles, dont les trois principales Santorin, Thirassia et Aspronissi, est le vestige d’une seule île volcanique que la forme sphérique de l’archipel permet encore de se représenter.

CONSÉQUENCES. Mais, au delà des mers, quelles furent les conséquences de cette gigantesque éruption ? Ce qui est certain, c’est que les cendres du Santorin ont atteint le delta du Nil, des relevés stratigraphiques en attestent. De là à en conclure que l’un des plus violents évènements volcaniques à laquelle l’espèce humaine put être témoin ait inspiré un épisode de la Bible, il n’y a qu’un pas, franchi par Gilles Lericolais, géologue et directeur des affaires européennes et internationales de l’Ifremer qui travailla sur la question il y a quelques années avec un collègue new-yorkais, William Ryan. « À cause la courbure de la Terre, explique-t-il, les égyptiens n’ont pas été en mesure de voir l’éruption du Santorin. Mais nous pensons qu’ils ont du en subir fortement les conséquences. »

Première plaie d’Egypte
« ….toutes les eaux qui sont dans le fleuve se chargèrent en sang »

Autour du Santorin, on retrouve des ignimbrites rouges, des roches constituées de débris de laves acides. Charriées en masse lors de l’éruption, elles auraient été transportées jusqu’au Nil lui conférant une teinte carmin à l’image de la coloration que ces roches donnent à certaines plages de Santorin.

Certains chercheurs évoquent également la prolifération massive d’algues rouges éventuellement toxiques dans le fleuve suite au changement de conditions climatiques.

Deuxième plaie
« …les grenouilles montèrent et recouvrirent l’Egypte »

Les pluies torrentielles et l’augmentation du taux d’humidité de l’air consécutives à l’éruption auraient poussé les batraciens à sortir de leurs cachettes pour envahir en masse les villages et rejoindre leurs lieux de reproduction. Autre hypothèse : surchargé en sédiments rouges, le Nil s’est appauvri en oxygène, décimant les poissons et poussant les amphibiens à s’en extirper pour respirer.

Troisième et quatrième plaies
« …toute la poussière du sol se changea en moustiques »

« …des taons en grand nombre entrèrent […] dans tout le pays d’Egypte »

Sauve qui peut ! ont dû s’écrier les insectes devant le cataclysme, se repliant en masse vers le sud pour fuir son avancée. Profitant de la pluviosité, ils se sont mis à pulluler d’autant, transportant avec eux une kyrielle de maladies et d’affections diverses.

Cinquième plaie
« …tous les troupeaux des égyptiens moururent »

Rien d’étonnant à ce que la prolifération soudaine d’insectes nuisibles ait décimé le bétail. Plusieurs suspects ont été montrés du doigt. John Marr et Curtis Malloy, épidémiologistes au département de santé publique de New York penchent pour un moucheron du genre Culicoïdes. Porteur d’agents pathogènes pour les animaux, l’insecte présente la particularité de pouvoir véhiculer deux maladies virales distinctes : la peste équine et la maladie de la langue bleue qui touche principalement le bétail.

Sixième plaie
« …gens et bêtes furent couverts d’ulcères bourgeonnant en pustules »

Pour expliquer cette plaie, nous avons l’embarras du choix. Des larves de diptères, des maladies parasitaires comme la leishmaniose ou encore le caractère acide des précipitations peuvent tout à fait expliquer l’apparition de lésions cutanées sur les humains et les animaux.

Septième plaie
« …Yahvé fit tomber la grêle sur le pays d’Egypte »

Il n’est pas rare qu’une éruption volcanique s’accompagne d’orages de gros grêlons formés, non de glace, mais d’accrétions de cendres. Ce fut notamment le cas lors de l’éruption du mont Saint-Helens en 1980.

Huitième plaie
« …les sauterelles […] couvrirent toute la surface du pays… »

Suivant le sillage des autres insectes fuyant vers le sud, une infestation de criquets pélerins, dont l’une des aires de regroupement se situe justement autour de la mer rouge, a pu traverser l’Egypte ravageant les cultures et la végétation.

Neuvième plaie
« …il y eut d’épaisses ténèbres… »

Pour des raisons d’intensité dramatique devant aller crescendo, il se pourrait que les auteurs de cet épisode de la Bible aient bousculé la chronologie des évènements. Si les ténèbres ont envahi la région, c’est plus sûrement aux premiers temps de l’éruption, un nuage de poussières ayant obscurci le ciel des jours durant.

Dixième plaie
« …tous les premiers-nés mourront dans le pays d’Egypte… »

Ce dernier fléau, apex de la colère divine, ne doit pas être pris au pied de la lettre. Il semble plus vraisemblable que les conséquences de l’éruption et le déferlement de pluies acides aient rendu l’eau potable impropre à la consommation et qu’une famine ait commencé à se développer suite aux récoltes dévastées. « De plus, un changement d’hygiène dans la société égyptienne a pu provoquer le développement du choléra, en plus du paludisme et du typhus » ajoute Gilles Lericolais. Toutes les conditions étaient alors réunies pour éliminer les plus faibles et les nouveaux-nés.

Reste une interrogation : la gigantesque éruption du mont Santorin a-t-elle eu des conséquences à l’échelle mondiale ? Ce cataclysme majeur a-t-il été ressenti ailleurs qu’en Égypte? Pour entrevoir un début de réponse, il nous faut faire un bond dans le futur, au tout début du 19e siècle de notre ère. À suivre dans la seconde partie de cet article.

-Citations de la Bible extraites du Livre de l’Exode, chapitres 7 à 12. Bible de Jérusalem, traduction des dominicains de l’Ecole biblique. Editions Fleurus/Cerf

-D’autres exemples de bouleversements géologiques ayant pu inspirer des mythes : Science, Sep 2005, Kevin Krajick « Tracking myth to geological reality »

Voir de plus:

Once dismissed, myths are winning new attention from geologists
who find that they may encode valuable data about earthquakes,
volcanoes, tsunamis, and other stirrings of the earth
Kevin Krajick
UC Denver
Seattle, Washington: James Rasmussen, owner of a funky used-record store called Bud’s Jazz, and Ruth Ludwin, a seismologist at the University of Washington, Seattle, make an unlikely professional team. Late last year, they were walking down the beach near the bustling Fauntleroy ferry dock, searching for a reddish sandstone boulder. Native American legends—Rasmussen belongs to the local Duwamish people—say the boulder is haunted by a’yahos, a spirit with the body of a serpent and the antlers and forelegs of a deer. Old folks used to say not to look in the direction of a’yahos because it could shake the ground or turn you to stone.
“It was not at all clear to me what my grand-dad was talking about when he said you should be careful as you travel through here along the shore,” said Rasmussen. “Then I heard the scientific evidence, and it got me
thinking about the old stories.” The evidence is this: In the 1990s, geophysical images and excavations revealed a huge, hidden fault traversing Seattle. Disturbed soils and other evidence show that 1100 years ago, it produced a quake that would level Seattle today. Scientists agree that the fault could slip again at any time, toppling buildings and elevated highways. The city’s infrastructure is now being reinforced for disaster. Ludwin, Rasmussen, and others have documented at least five Seattle-area legend sites related to shaking, including the boulder, all aligned along the fault near old landslides and other signs of seismic violence. They conclude that the threat was encoded in folklore long before scientists uncovered physical signs.
More and more geoscientists are willing to combine their work with such stories these days, in a budding discipline called geomythology. Volcanologist Floyd McCoy of the University of Hawaii, Manoa, says discussing myth has traditionally been “a good way to sink your own credibility”; it can put you on the list with flaky Atlantologists and other amateur zealots. But, says McCoy, “I’d be a fool to write it all off. There is a
new realization that some myths have something to say.” Myths can sometimes alert researchers to previously unheeded geohazards; in other cases, where science has demonstrated the danger, legends “enrich the record” and reinforce the fact that people lie in harm’s way, says paleoseismologist Brian Atwater of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Seattle, who has spearheaded many studies of seismic events in the Pacific
Northwest. The trick is teasing out which myths carry kernels of truth that can be con- nected to hard data.
Deities of flood and fire
The movement traces in part to the 1980s, when scientists realized that the slow march of geologic time is sometimes punctuated by biblical-scale catastrophes, such as the giant meteorite that wiped out dinosaurs 65 million years ago. After this was accepted, some (usually those with tenure) felt freer to wonder if near-universal myths of great floods and fires implied that such disasters also have punctuated human time. In the
1990s, Columbia University marine geologists Walter Pitman and William Ryan argued that rising Mediterranean sea levels following the last deglaciation topped what is now the Bosporus Strait and roared into the Black Sea 7600 years ago, serving as the original inspiration for the biblical flood. Their work triggered sharp criticism and a torrent of research, resulting in growing acceptance of some sort of Black Sea flooding (
Science, 22 September 2000, p. 2021). Whether the book of Genesis somehow grew from this is a further step, admits Ryan, who presented his latest findings at the International Geoscience Program in Istanbul, Turkey, in early October. Recent studies on more local disasters have raised the field’s stock, with geoscientists connecting myths to past disasters in North America, the Mideast, Africa, Europe, and the Pacific. For example, Ludwin’s study on the Seattle fault came out this year in Seismological Research Letters, along with a paper in which she discusses dozens of aboriginal stories about times when the ocean along British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon rolled up in great waves, carrying away coastal villages. Native people often described these events as a battle between a great whale and a thunderbird.
Paleoseismologists have a modern explanation: Quaking along the offshore subduction zone has produced at least a dozen huge tsunamis at intervals of 200 to 1000 years, as shown by shore deposits including inland sand sheets and mud that buried native camps. The most recent wave is dated through tree rings and other evidence to January 1700; scientists agree the next can come any time.
The utility of myth became clear in the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. While up to 300,000 people are thought to have died, the indigenous seafaring Moken people of Thailand almost all survived. Their traditions warn that when the tide recedes far and fast—as happens before tsunamis—a man-eating wave is coming, and everyone should run. They did. Patrick Nunn, a geoscientist at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, believes such stories can be harnessed to find other hidden geohazards. He currently has a grant from the French government to collect tales that might pinpoint islands where scientists should look for warnings of earthquakes, volcanoes, or catastrophic landslides not included in written records. These include common motifs in which deities “fish up” islands from the water and sometimes throw them back. Nunn thinks such tales may encode sudden uplifts, subsidences, or flank collapses of islands, and he has already confirmed that sinking islands are not just myths.
He has correlated at least a half-dozen stories with actual land masses seen by early European seafarers but which are now gone; a few were never charted but have since been located just under the waves, exactly where the stories said they were. Nunn’s studies have also turned up a surprise. People on the volcanic island of Kadavu, Fiji, have a suggestive legend about a big mountain that popped up one night, and locals say they have heard rumbling from the main cone recently. In 1998, Nunn and others investigated the volcano but decided on preliminary evidence that it had not erupted for 50,000 years. The island has been inhabited for only 3000 years, so they concluded that the myth was imported.
Months later, a new road cut revealed pot shards under a meter-deep layer of ash. “The myth was right, and we were wrong,” says Nunn. Myths may provide unusually precise tools in the Pacific because some are tied to royal genealogies that can be roughly dated. In Hawaii, where the genealogies go back 95 generations, archaeologist Bruce Masse of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico has compiled stories of battles
between the fire deity Pele and others that seem to relate to volcanic eruptions; the reigns of kings at the time of the “battles” correlate within a few decades to radiocarbon dates of burned vegetation under lava sheets. Other tales apparently record celestial events. One, said to have taken place during the reign of King Kakuhihewa, narrates a human sacrifice at dawn interrupted by giant owls who fly across the sun. When Masse lined up the number of generations with recent NASA tables that calculate times of past events, he hit a match: A rare solar eclipse took place over Hawaii precisely at sunrise on 10 April 1679.
Myth has also figured in work at Nyos, a crater lake in Cameroon that exploded and killed 1700 people in 1986. The disaster was at first a mystery, with no signs of volcanic eruption. Scientists finally figured out that carbon dioxide bubbling from deep rocks had slowly built up in the water, then burst out and suffocated all living things nearby—a phenomenon never observed by scientists. It could have been dismissed as a one-time fluke except for the fact that the region is full of stories about haunted lakes that rise, sink, or blow up. Anthropologist Eugenia Shanklin of The College of New Jersey in Trenton, who collected the stories,
says many local people have taboos against living near lakes and instead dwell on high ground. Scientists now know that gas buildup affects at least one other lake in the region, Lake Monoun, as well as giant Lake Kivu in east Africa, which has 2 million people living on its shores. The myths “helped tell us it happened before, and it will happen again,” says geochemist William Evans of USGS in Menlo Park, California, who is working to remove gas now rebuilding in Nyos and Monoun.
Next year, the Geological Society of London will publish Geology and Myth, a collection of papers by Shanklin, Nunn, and others. Co-editor Luigi Piccardi, a structural geologist at the National Research Council of
Italy, says he hopes it will lead colleagues to take the field more seriously. Among other work, Piccardi has studied a cataclysmic 493 C.E. appearance at southern Italy’s Monte Sant’Angelo by the Archangel Michael, said to have left his footprint in the rocks—code, Piccardi says, for a big, previously unauthenticated earthquake. In the late 1990s, Piccardi found ample physical evidence for the event, including a dramatic fault scarp in the floor of the popular shrine to the apparition, long hidden until it was uncovered in archaeological excavations—the apparent “footprint.” In 2001, the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Rome upgraded the area to seismic high risk. This may also be an example of how geomyths are periodically reinvented in places where disasters reoccur: The shrine was previously an oracle and supposed entry to the underworld dedicated to the Greek seer Kalchas, who is mentioned in The Iliad. Piccardi’s description of the shrine is in press at Tectonophysics. Piccardi is currently studying the possibility that many ancient sites of worship and miracles are over active faults, on the theory that past rumblings and cracking have been transmuted into visits by monsters and gods.

One such example is the oracle at Delphi, Greece. Here, priestesses were said to enter prophetic trances by inhaling the breath of the god Apollo from a magical chasm; people came from around the ancient world to hear their words. While the oracle was indisputably real, classical scholars wrote off the chasm as an invention—until geologist Jelle de Boer of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and archaeologist John Hale of the University of Louisville in Kentucky published a series of papers on the oracle over the past few years. De Boer and Hale showed that the ruins of Delphi lie over the juncture of two faults that conduct up psychoactive hydrocarbon gases through a spring, exactly as described in ancient accounts. (Why some prophecies were uncannily accurate is another question.) This summer, de Boer and Hale visited the partially excavated ruins of the oracles of Apollo at Klaros and Didyma in southwest Turkey and detected hydrocarbon gases there too.

From story to data
The process of translating myth into geology, or vice versa, can be murky, but Elizabeth Barber, a professor of linguistics and archaeology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California, believes it can be done scientifically. In the recent book When They Severed Earth From Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth, she argues that transmutations of reality into myth take predictable courses, with natural forces often turned into supernatural beings (Science,27 May, p. 1261). Some examples seem straightforward. A story from the Klamath people of Oregon about a battle between the chiefs of Above World and Below World is faithful in every geologic detail to the volcanic explosion of Mount Mazama and the formation of Crater Lake in its place, from the rain of burning ash and rock to many years of rainfall afterward that eventually filled in the crater—a process that started 7000 years ago. Other legends are more confusing. These include a hypothesis that the pillars of cloud and fire that guided the Hebrews from Egypt came from the 1625 B.C.E. volcanic eruption of Thera in the Mediterranean. Here, mismatches between dates of the events and problems with the Hebrews’route lead Barber to think the account is conflated from several real but distinct
events. “The question is how often and in what cases you can take it back literally,” she said.
Other researchers’ hypotheses about events as widely varied as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the death of King Arthur (said by some to relate to a catastrophic comet impact) suffer similar problems of time and space. Efforts to connect myths with comet or meteorite impacts have met with skepticism. Repeated, undetected big impacts in human time “contradict everything we know about the rate of impacts on Earth, and the inventory of what’s out there now, and their dynamics,” says David Morrison of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, head of the global Near Earth Object Working Group, which tracks celestial objects that might endanger Earth.
The pendulum may have swung too far in favor of accepting myths, says social anthropologist Benny Peiser of Liverpool John Moores University in the U.K., who runs the Cambridge Conference Network, an Internet clearinghouse for catastrophist theories. Now that more people are willing to listen, he says, too many scientists are invoking myth “left, right, and center to explain everything.” In a paper at a late-October workshop on natural catastrophes in the ancient Mediterranean, he asserts that no major myths have yet met scientific standards, although he does credit some regional ones, such as the Pacific Northwest earthquakes. “That’s not all bad,” he says. “This is all so new, you expect more speculation than hard evidence. The refinements can come later.”
From his perspective as a storyteller, James Rasmussen, the record-store owner, also expresses reservations about how much myths can reveal. When he and Ludwin reached the spot where the a’yahos boulder was supposed to be, it was gone. In its place was a big wooden chair in front of someone’s beach house. “Maybe it’s been hauled away,” said Ludwin. “Maybe the tide buried it in the sand,” said Rasmussen. They poked around for a while among the foam cups, logs, and newspapers littering the beach and finally gave up. “Maybe some things show themselves for a while, and we get a little understanding,” said Rasmussen. “Then they go away again, and they don’t want to be found.”
Kevin Krajick is the author of Barren Lands: An Epic Search for Diamonds in the North American Arctic
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Exodus in the Bible and the Egyptian Plagues

Ziony Zevit

Biblical Archaeology Society

May 5, 2014

The Book of Exodus in the Bible describes ten Egyptian plagues that bring suffering to the land of pharaoh. Are these Biblical plagues plausible on any level? In the following article, “Three Ways to Look at the Ten Plagues,” Ziony Zevit looks at these Biblical plagues from various vantage points. There’s something unique about these Egyptian plagues as presented in Exodus in the Bible. They’re different from the curses to Israelites as mentioned in Leviticus. Some have connected the Egyptian plagues to natural phenomena that were possible in ancient Egypt. Torrential rains in Ethiopia could have sent red clay (“blood”) into the Nile, which could have caused a migration of frogs, further causing lice and flies, which caused the death of cattle and human boils. A second set of meteorological disasters, hailstorms (the seventh of the Biblical plagues) and locusts, may have been followed by a Libyan dust storm—causing darkness.

Many of the Egyptian plagues could also be interpreted as “attacks against the Egyptian pantheon,” Zevit notes. Many of the Egyptian plagues mentioned in Exodus in the Bible have some correlation to an Egyptian god or goddess. For example, Heket was represented as a frog and Hathor as a cow. An ancient Egyptian “Coffin Text” refers to the slaying of first-born gods.

A third way to look at the Biblical plagues is by asking, “why ten?” Ultimately the plagues served to increase the faith of the surviving Israelites. On this count ten could be connected to the ten divine utterances of the creation account of Genesis 1. In relating the ten Egyptian plagues, the Exodus in the Bible could represent a parallel account of liberation, affecting all aspects of the created world.

Three Ways to Look at the Ten Plagues
Were they natural disasters, a demonstration of the impotence of the Egyptian gods or an undoing of Creation?

Ziony Zevit

Biblical archeology

When the enslaved Israelites sought to leave Egypt, Pharaoh said no. The Lord then visited ten plagues upon the Egyptians until finally Pharaoh permanently relented—the last of the plagues being the slaying of the first-born males of Egypt. Some of the plagues are the type of disasters that recur often in human history—hailstorms and locusts—and therefore appear possible and realistic. Others, less realistic, border on the comic—frogs and lice. Still others are almost surrealistic—blood and darkness—and appear highly improbable.

Many questions have been raised about the plagues on different levels. Some questions are naturalistic and historical: Did the plagues actually occur in the order and manner described in Exodus? Are there any ancient documents or other types of evidence corroborating that they took place or that something like them took place? Can the less realistic and surrealistic plagues be explained as natural phenomena? Other questions are literary and theological: Is the plague narrative a hodgepodge of sources pasted together by ancient editors (redactors)? What is the origin of the traditions in the extant plague narrative? What is the meaning of the narrative in its biblical context? Beyond the obvious story, did the plague narrative have any theological implications for ancient Israel?

My research has not provided answers to all these questions, but it will, I believe, provide some new insights.

For centuries exegetes have been struggling with the order, the number and the meaning of the plagues. As early as the medieval period, Jewish commentators noticed certain patterns in the narrative that reflected a highly organized literary structure. In the 12th century, a rabbi known as the Rashbam (Rabbi Samuel ben Meir),1 [2] who lived in northern France, recognized that only certain plagues were introduced by warnings to Pharaoh, while others were not. To appreciate the pattern, divide the first nine plagues into three groups each; in the first two of each group, Pharaoh is warned that if he does not let the Israelites go, the plague will be visited on the Egyptians; in the third plague of each group, the plague strikes without warning.

In the 13th century Bahya ben Asher2 [3] and in the 15th century Don Isaac Abravanel3 [4] noted a certain repetitive pattern in who brought on the plagues. The first three plagues are brought on by Moses’ brother Aaron, who holds out his staff as the effective instrument (Exodus 7:19; 8:1; 8:12).a [5] In the next group of three, the first two are brought on by God and the third by Moses (Exodus 8:20: 9:6; 9:10). In the last group of three the plagues are brought on by Moses’ holding out his arm with his staff (Exodus 9:22–23; 10:12–13; 10:21 [the last without mention of his staff]).

These patterns indicate that the plague narrative is a conscientiously articulated and tightly wrought composition.

Taking the plagues as a whole, however, it is clear that they differ considerably from the curses with which the Israelites are threatened in the so-called curse-lists of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. In the curse-lists, the Lord tells the Israelites what will happen to them if they do not obey the Lord’s laws and commandments, if they breach the covenant. They will suffer, according to Leviticus, terror, consumption, fever, crop failure, defeat at the hands of their enemies, unnecessary fear; wild beasts will consume their children and cattle; they will die by the sword; they will be so hungry that they will eat the flesh of their children and, in the end, go into exile (Leviticus 26:14–26). Similarly in the augmented list of curses in Deuteronomy 28:15–60, they will suffer confusion, consumption, inflammation, madness, blindness, social chaos, military defeat, etc.

The maledictions in the curse-lists of Leviticus and Deuteronomy have been shown to be part of a stock of traditional curses employed during the biblical period in the geographical area extending from Israel to ancient Mesopotamia. Not only are they attested in the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), but also in the prophets; they also appear in the “curse” sections of contemporaneous ancient Near Eastern treaties.4 [6] These “curses” reflect the kinds of things that could, and probably did, happen in this geographical area as a result of natural or humanly-imposed calamities. True there is some overlap between these curses and the plagues. Dever (pestilence) occurs both in the Egyptian plagues and in the curse lists of Leviticus. 26:25 and Deuteronomy 28:21. “Boils” occurs in the curse list of Deuteronomy 28:35 while a locust-like plague is mentioned in. Deuteronomy 28:42. Nevertheless, in the Pentateuchal curse lists, the Israelites—on their way to the Promised land—are threatened with disasters they might expect in the ecological system of the land to which they were headed, not those of the land of Egypt from which they were fleeing.

The plagues visited on the Egyptians are quite different.5 [7] To understand their significance we should focus on Egypt in particular rather than the ancient Near East as a whole.

The most sophisticated attempt to relate the Egyptian plagues to natural phenomena does so in terms of Egypt’s ecosystem. According to this interpretation, the first six plagues can even be explained in their sequential order: The naturalistic account is connected initially with the violent rain storms that occur in the mountains of Ethiopia. The first plague, blood, is the red clay swept down into the Nile from the Ethiopian highlands. The mud then choked the fish in the area inhabited by the Israelites. The fish clogged the swamps where the frogs lived; the fish, soon infected with anthrax, caused the frogs (the second plague) to leave the Nile for cool areas, taking refuge in people’s houses. But, since the frogs were already infected with the disease, they died in their new habitats. As a consequence, lice, the third plague, and flies, the fourth plague, began to multiply, feeding off the dead frogs. This gave rise to a pestilence that attacked animals, the fifth plague, because the cattle were feeding on grass which by then had also become infected. In man, the symptom of the same disease was boils, the sixth plague.

A second sequence of plagues, according to this explanation, is related to atmospheric and climatic conditions in Egypt. Hailstorms, the seventh plague, came out of nowhere. Although not common, hailstorms do occur rarely in Upper Egypt and occasionally in Lower Egypt during late spring and early fall. In this reconstruction, the hailstorm was followed by the eighth plague, locusts, a more common occurrence. The ninth plague, darkness, was a Libyan dust storm.6 [8]

The final plague, the death of the first-born, although not strictly commensurate with the other plagues, can be explained in ecological terms. It may be a reflection of the infant mortality rate in ancient Egypt.7 [9] There is a problem with this explanation, however. According to the biblical narrative, the tenth plague struck all first-born males of whatever age, not just new-born infants.

This ecological explanation of the plagues does not prove that the biblical account is true, but only that it may have some basis in reality. As indicated, it also has weaknesses: The ecological chain is broken after the sixth plague, there being no causality between the plague of boils (the sixth plague) and the hail. The chain is again broken between the ninth and tenth plagues. In addition, there is no real link between the plagues in the seventh-eighth-ninth sequence (hail-locusts-darkness). Nevertheless, this explanation does firmly anchor the first six plagues in the Egyptian ecosystem, just as the curse-lists in the Torah reflect real conditions in the Land of Israel.

Moreover, two ancient Egyptian texts provide additional support. One is relevant to the first plague, blood. In “The Admonitions of Ipu-Wer,” dated at the latest to 2050 B.C.E., the author describes a chaotic period in Egypt: “Why really, the River [Nile] is blood. If one drinks of it, one rejects (it) as human and thirsts for water.”8 [10]

The second text, known as “The Prophecy of Nefer-Rohu” dates towards the beginning of the Middle Kingdom, about 2040–1650 B.C.E.; it relates to the ninth plague, darkness: “The sun disc is covered over. It will not shine (so that) people may see … No one knows when midday falls, for his shadow cannot be distinguished.”9 [11]

The ten plagues may also be interpreted as a series of attacks against the Egyptian pantheon. This suggestion finds support in Numbers 33:4 where we are told that the Egyptians buried those who had died by the tenth plague, by which plague “the Lord executed judgments against their gods.”

According to this suggestion, the plague of blood (No. 1) was directed against the god Khnum, creator of water and life; or against Hapi, the Nile god; or against Osiris, whose bloodstream was the Nile. Frogs (No.2) was directed against Heket, a goddess of childbirth who was represented as a frog. The pestilence against cattle (No. 5) might have been directed against Hathor, the mother and sky goddess, represented in the form of a cow; or against Apis, symbol of fertility represented as a bull. Hail (No. 7) and locusts (No. 8 ) were, according to this explanation, directed against Seth, who manifests himself in wind and storms; and/or against Isis, goddess of life, who grinds, spins flax and weaves cloth; or against Min, who was worshiped as a god of fertility and vegetation and as a protector of crops. Min is an especially likely candidate for these two plagues because the notations in Exodus 9:31 indicate that the first plague came as the flax and barley were about to be harvested, but before the wheat and spelt had matured. A widely celebrated “Coming out of Min” was celebrated in Egypt at the beginning of the harvest.10 [13] These plagues, in effect, devastated Min’s coming-out party.

Darkness (No. 9), pursuing this line of interpretation, could have been directed against various deities associated with the sun—Amon-Re, Aten, Atum or Horus.

Finally, the death of the firstborn (No. 10) was directed against the patron deity of Pharaoh, and the judge of the dead, Osiris.

Additional data from Egyptian religious texts clarifies the terrifying tenth plague. The famous “Cannibal Hymn,” carved in the Old Kingdom pyramid of Unas at Saqqara, about 2300 B.C.E., states: “It is the king who will be judged with Him-whose-name-is-hidden on that day of slaying the first born.” Variations of this verse appear in a few Coffin Texts, magic texts derived from royal pyramid inscriptions of the Old Kingdom and written on the coffins of nobility of the Middle Kingdom, about 2000 B.C.E. For example, “I am he who will be judged with Him-whose-name-is-hidden on that night of slaying the first born.”11 [14] Although the first-born referred to in the Coffin Text and probably also in the “Cannibal Hymn” are the first-born of gods, these texts indicate that an ancient tradition in Egypt recalled the slaying of all or some of the first-born of gods on a particular night.12 [15]

Assuming that some form of this pre-Israelite Egyptian tradition was known during the period of the enslavement, it may have motivated the story of the final plague. However, in the biblical story, he who revealed his hidden name to Moses at the burning bramble bush revealed himself as the Him-whose-name-is-hidden of the Egyptian myth, and alone slew the first-born males of Egypt. In this final plague, then, there was no conflict between the Lord and an Egyptian deity; rather through this plague the triumphant god of Israel fulfilled the role of an anonymous destroyer in a nightmarish prophecy from the Egyptian past.

One weakness in interpreting the plagues solely as a religious polemic against Egyptian gods, however, is that some of the plagues are unaccounted for; and not all of the plagues can be conveniently matched up with Egyptian gods or texts. Specifically, divine candidates are lacking for the third, fourth and sixth plagues—lice, flies and boils. Even if scratching through Egyptian sources might produce some minor candidates that could fill these lacunae, there is another difficulty with the religious polemic interpretation. The Egyptian material on which this interpretation rests comes from different times and different places. The extant data do not enable us to claim that the perception of the pantheon presented above was historically probable in the Western Delta during the 14th–12th centuries B.C.E. when and where Israelites became familiar with it. Nevertheless, despite these difficulties, the Egyptian material describing links between Egyptian deities and natural phenomena does provide us with some insights into the way the plagues were intended to be understood.

Another line of interpretation, however, results from Posing the questions: Why ten plagues? Why these ten plagues?

According to Exodus 7:4–5, the function of the plagues is didactic: “I will lay my hands upon Egypt and deliver hosts, my people, the Israelites, from the land of Egypt with great acts of judgment. And the Egyptians shall know that I am God when I stretch out my hand against Egypt.” Despite the reference to the Egyptians learning a lesson—namely, the Lord’s power—it seems clear that the real beneficiaries of the plagues were not intended to be Egyptians. If the education of the Egyptians was the reason for the plagues, the lesson was certainly lost on the intended beneficiaries. The true beneficiaries of the lesson that God said he would teach were the Israelites. As we read in Exodus 14:31: “When Israel saw the mighty act [literally ‘hand/arm’] which the Lord had done in Egypt, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.”

What ignited the faith of the Israelites was not their physical redemption from Egypt, but rather “the mighty act which the Lord had done in Egypt”—that is, the plagues.

What was there about the plagues that triggered Israel’s response in faith? Through the plagues the Lord demonstrated that he was the God of creation. As we examine the narrative closely, we will see how this notion is conveyed.

The first plague, blood, is described in Exodus 7:19. There we are told that Aaron is to take his staff and hold it over all of Egypt’s bodies (or gatherings) of water and they will become blood. The Hebrew word for “bodies” or “gatherings” of water is mikveh. This is the same word that appears in the opening chapters of Genesis when God creates the seas: “God called the dry land Earth, and the gatherings (mikveh) of waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10). The use of the word mikveh in Exodus 7:19 in connection with the plague of blood cannot fail to evoke an association with the creation of the seas in Genesis 1:10 and indicates the cosmic import of the plague. Similarly, the expression in Exodus 7:19 “Let them become blood” echoes the use of “Let there be(come)” in the creation story in Genesis.

However, in contrast to the creation, where the primeval waters are not altered by a creative act, the first plague demonstrates that God is able to change the very nature of things.

Plagues two, three and four—frogs, lice and flies—form an interesting triad. The frogs are associated with water, the lice with earth, and the flies with air. Frogs, we are told, came out of the “rivers, the canals, and the ponds of Egypt” (Exodus 8:1). In Exodus, the Nile swarmed with frogs which then covered all the land (Exodus 7:28–29), while in Genesis God says, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures” (Genesis 1:20). Understood against the background of Genesis, the frog plague in Egypt was a new creation of life, although not a beneficent one.

Similarly, with lice (the third plague) that came forth from the dust of the earth (Exodus 8:12–13). The lice correspond to the crawling creatures (remes) that come forth from the earth in Genesis 1:24.

Flies (the fourth plague) correspond to the flying creatures; in Genesis God orders that “flying creatures multiply in the land” (Genesis 1:22). In Egypt, the flies not only multiplied in the land, they filled the land. After the fly plague the situation in Egypt was a complete reversal of the one anticipated by the divine blessing to mankind in Genesis 1:28, where God tells man to “Rule the fish of the sea, the winged creatures of the heavens, and all living creatures which creep on the earth.” In Egypt, these creatures were totally out of control.

The fifth plague (pestilence) affected only animals, not men; and only the field animals of the Egyptians, not those of the Israelites (Exodus 9:3–7). In Genesis 2:18–20 the animals are created specifically for man. In the plague of pestilence, the domestic animals that were under man’s dominion were taken away from the Egyptians. That which was first created for man was first removed from the Egyptians by the first plague directed specifically against created things.

The sixth plague, boils, is the only one that does not fit easily into the pattern I have been describing. Perhaps it should be understood against the background of the Torah’s laws of purity: A person afflicted with boils is ritually unclean (Leviticus 13:18–23). This is complemented by the stringent demands of Egyptian religion during the New Kingdom, about 1550–1080 B.C.E., concerning the ritual and physical purity requited of priests before entering a sanctuary.13 [17] Egyptians considered themselves superior to other peoples. Pharaoh himself was a god and his officers were priests. Perhaps the image of these superior, “holier than thou” individuals suffering from boils, a painful and unaesthetic affliction, was humorous to the Israelites and was considered a barb against Egyptian religion.

The next two plagues, hail and locusts involve the destruction of another part of creation, primarily vegetation. What was not destroyed by the hail was consumed by the locusts. When these two plagues had run their course, Egypt could be contrasted to the way the world appeared after the third day of creation: “The land brought forth vegetation: seed bearing fruit with seed in it” (Genesis 1:12). By contrast, in Exodus 10:15 we are told that “nothing green was left of tree or grass of the field in all the land of Egypt.”

Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the plagues is darkness, the ninth plague. In Exodus 10:21–23 we read that a thick darkness descended upon all the land of Egypt for three days. “People could not see one another, and for three days no one could get up from where he was; but all the Israelites enjoyed light in their dwellings” (Exodus 10:23). What is described here is not simply the absence of light. The darkness is something physical, “a darkness that can be touched” (Exodus 10:21b). The alternation of light and darkness, of day and night, has ceased. Yet darkness and light exist side by side in geographically distinct places. The Israelites did have light. In short, in Egypt, God had reverted the relationship between darkness and light to what had been prior to the end of the first day of creation—that is, to the state that existed briefly between Genesis 1:4 and Genesis 1:5.

The final plague, the death of the first-born, is only a forerunner to the complete destruction of all the Egyptians at the Red Sea, or Reed Sea.b [18] Here we hear a twisted, obverse echo of the optimism expressed in Genesis 1:26, where God said, “I will make man in my image and after my likeness.” Instead of creating, he is destroying—first, the first-born, and then, at the sea, all of Egypt.

At the end of the narrative in Exodus, Israel looks back over the stilled water of the sea at a land with no people, no animals and no vegetation, a land in which creation had been undone. Israel is convinced that her redeemer is the Lord of all creation. It is this implicit theological principle that motivated the explicit creation of the literary pattern. He who had just reduced order to chaos was the same as he who had previously ordered the chaos.

One question still remains. What is the significance of the number ten in the Exodus tradition? Why ten plagues? The answer, I believe, is clear. The number of plagues in Exodus was meant to correspond to the ten divine utterances by which the world was created and ordered (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 28, 29).14 [19] The destruction of Egypt was part of the redemption of Israel, so the Exodus narrator tied his story of redemption to the story of creation through subtle echoes and word plays.15 [20]

Interestingly enough, there are two other accounts of the plagues in the Bible, one in Psalm 78:44–51 and the other in Psalm 105:28–36. These psalms differ somewhat between themselves; they also differ with the narrative in Exodus—regarding what constitutes a plague and the order in which they occurred.16 [21] These differences can be taken to indicate that the specific number and order of the plagues was less important to Israel than the fact of the plagues and what was revealed to Israel through them.

For the psalmists, authors of liturgical texts, there were only seven plagues, a number clearly evoking the seven days of creation. In Egypt, however, the cycle did not end in a Sabbath; it culminated in a silent devastation. At the end of the seventh day (plague), creation in Egypt had been undone.

This tangle of threads—creation, on the one hand, and deliverance from slavery, on the other—is gathered together and neatly knotted in the Sabbath commandment of the Ten Commandments. In the Ten Commandments as set forth in Exodus, the motivation for observing the sabbath (the fifth commandment) is to commemorate creation: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God: You shall not do any work … for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day” (Exodus 20:9–11). In the Ten Commandments as set forth in Deuteronomy, however, the reason Israel is commanded to observe the sabbath is different—not creation, but the delivery from Egyptian slavery. After being told to refrain from work on the sabbath—in the same language as in Exodus—the reason is given: “Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and the Lord your God freed you from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm [a reference to the plagues]; therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:15).

As we have already noted, Psalms 78 and 105 preserve a tradition of seven plagues. In the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, Israel is told to remember the seventh-day sabbath to commemorate the six-day creation; in Deuteronomy 5, Israel is to observe the seventh-day sabbath to commemorate the deliverance from Egyptian slavery by God’s outstretched arm involving, according to the tradition in the Psalms, seven plagues.

This explanation of the plagues and their number also answers some historical questions concerning the biblical tradition of the ten plagues:

1. The plague tradition includes calamitous events that do not derive from experiences in the Land of Israel; this establishes a prima facie case that the tradition has roots in an ecological system unknown to the Israelites living in their own land.

2. An Egyptian milieu not only provides a basis for explaining the plagues in terms of natural phenomena, it also allows us plausibly to link at least some of the sequences of plagues.

These two points lead me to conclude that a historical kernel must underlie the Egyptian plague traditions preserved in the Bible.

3. We can speculate a bit further: perhaps a series of natural disasters occurred in Egypt in a relatively short period of time. Egyptian religion would have had to explain it. A link between these disasters and various Egyptian deities (expressing their displeasure) formed.17 [22] No matter how Egyptians interpreted these disasters, Israelites could have accepted the notion that they were divinely caused but would have viewed them as contests between their patron and the gods of Egypt, the result of which were judgments against the gods of Egypt and their earthly representatives.18 [23] Trace of this stage in the development of the tradition can be found in the Biblical narrative. During this, the interpretative stage, the plagues were theologized, providing cosmic meaning to the natural phenomena even as they were removed from the realm of what we would call “nature.”

4. The Plague traditions, which were maintained orally by the Israelites until some time after the establishment of the monarchy, continued to be reworked in the land of Israel. There, far from the ecological context of Egypt, some phenomena natural in Egypt would have appeared incomprehensible to them and even fantastic, inviting imaginative embellishment.

The Israelite traditors, those who passed on the tradition, were no longer familiar with the Egyptian cultural milieu in which the disasters had been theoligized and made meaningful by their ancestors. These traditors, therefore, made them meaningful within their own world view by connection the plagues, which initiated the emergence of Israel as a covenant community, with the creation of the world.

For further details, see “The Priestly Redaction and Interpretation of the Plague Narrative in Exodus,” Jewish Quarterly Review 66 (1976) 193–211. The present article contains new material, however, some of which was not available when the aforementioned study was written, as well as a reevaluation of the significance of the data discussed there. Readers interested in a more technical discussion or in the literary history of the plague narratives or in more bibliographical information that is presented here may consult my earlier study and the remarks of N. M. Sarna, Exploring Exodus (New York: Schocken Books, 1986) 68–80.

“Three Ways to Look at the Ten Plagues” [24] by Ziony Zevit originally appeared in Bible Review, June 1990.

Notes
1. [25] Commentary to Exodus 7:26. The verse citations follow the traditional Hebrew enumeration.

2. [26] Commentary to Exodus 10:1.

3. [27] Commentary to Exodus 7:26.

4. [28] D. R. Hillers, Treaty and the Old Testament Prophets (Rome: PBI, 1964); M. Weinfeld, Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomy School (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), pp. 116–146.

5. [29] The devastating plague of locusts described in the book of Joel (6th century B.C.E.) is considered a unique event, not comparable to the Egyptian plagues. Similarly, in Joel 3:3–4 (2:30–31 in English), where the moon turns to blood and the sun to darkness; this is very unlike the plagues in Egypt if, in fact, the images in Joel are to be taken literally and not metaphorically.

6. [30] G. Hort, “The Plagues of Egypt,” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 69 (1957), pp. 84–103; 70 (1958), pp. 48–59. This is a very important and very sophisticated study which is most humble in drawing its conclusions.

7. [31] P. Montet, L’Egypte et la Bible (Neuchatel: Paris, 1959), pp. 97–98.

8. [32] J. B. Pritchard Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ANET), (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955), p. 441.

9. [33] Pritchard, ANET. p. 445.

10. [34] J. Cerny, Ancient Egyptian Religion (AER) (London: Hutchison’s University Library, 1952), pp. 119–120.

11. [35] M. Gilula, “The Smiting of the First-Born—An Egyptian Myth?” Tel Aviv 4 (1977), p. 94. Technical references and additional discussion are available in this brief study. M. Lichtheim renders the line from the ‘Cannibal Hymn’: “Unas will judge with Him-whose-name-is-hidden on the day of slaying the eldest,” noting that the line is difficult (Ancient Egyptian Literature. A Book of Readings. Vol 1: The Old and Middle Kingdoms [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973], pp. 36–38). The Coffin Text cited is CT VI:178.

12. [36] M. Gilula, p. 95.

13. [37] Cerny, AER, 118; S. Sauneron, The Priests of Ancient Egypt (New York: Grove Press, 1960), pp. 37–39.

14. [38] Cf. Mishnah Aboth 5:1, 4.

15. [39] This conclusion does not contradict the findings of source criticism. According to source criticism, the final redactor of the plague narratives and of the creation stories was from the priestly school, P.

16. [40] Both psalms are pre-Exilic, and probably formed part of the temple liturgy. (D. A. Robertson, Linguistic Evidence in Dating Early Hebrew Poetry [Missoula, Montana: SBL, 1972], pp. 135, 138, 143, 15–52; A. Hurvitz, The Transition Period in Biblical Hebrew: A study in Post-Exilic Hebrew and Its Implications for the Dating of Psalms [Jerusalem: Mossad Bialik, 1972] finds no linguistic reason to consider these psalms late.) A comparison of the three different presentations indicates a certain plasticity in the Israelite tradition of the plagues. The coexistence of conflicting, somewhat contradictory, parallel plague traditions tells against any attempt to explain the order of the ten plagues as reflecting a connected series of natural catastrophes and provides a qualification to the discussion above concerning the possibility of a sequential disaster. Although it is not impossible that some natural disasters ultimately lie behind the various plagues, the traditions in their extant forms cannot be employed to reconstruct what actually occurred. The implication of the three lists of plagues is that Israel did not preserve the details of the plagues or their number for their own sake, but rather recalled the significance of the plagues as events demonstrating a theological principle.

17. [41] Natural disasters would be perceived as forms of divine communication. Compare Amos 4:6–12.

18. [42] Cf. the contest between Elijah and the priests of Baal in 1 Kings 18.

a. [43] The verse citations follow the traditional Hebrew enumeration. See, for example, the New Jewish Publication Society translation (Philadelphia: 1985).

b. [44] See Bernard F. Batto, “Red Sea or Reed Sea? [45]” BAR 10:04.

Ziony Zevit is professor of Biblical literature and Northwest Semitic languages at the University of Judaism, the Los Angeles affiliate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
[1] Ancient Israel in Egypt and the Exodus: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/free-ebooks/ancient-israel-in-egypt-and-the-exodus/

[2] 1: #note01

[3] 2: #note02

[4] 3: #note03

[5] a: #end01

[6] 4: #note04

[7] 5: #note05

[8] 6: #note06

[9] 7: #note07

[10] 8: #note08

[11] 9: #note09

[12] Out of Egypt: Israel’s Exodus Between Text and Memory, History and Imagination: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/exodus/out-of-egypt-israels-exodus-between-text-and-memory-history-and-imagination/

[13] 10: #note10

[14] 11: #note11

[15] 12: #note12

[16] Was Moses more than an Exodus hero? Discovering the Biblical Moses in “The Man Moses” by Peter Machinist, originally published in Bible Review and now available for free in Bible History Daily.: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/exodus/who-was-moses-was-he-more-than-an-exodus-hero/

[17] 13: #note13

[18] b: #end02

[19] 14: #note14

[20] 15: #note15

[21] 16: #note16

[22] 17: #note17

[23] 18: #note18

[24] “Three Ways to Look at the Ten Plagues”: http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBR&Volume=6&Issue=3&ArticleID=13&

[25] 1.: #note01r

[26] 2.: #note02r

[27] 3.: #note03r

[28] 4.: #note04r

[29] 5.: #note05r

[30] 6.: #note06r

[31] 7.: #note07r

[32] 8.: #note08r

[33] 9.: #note09r

[34] 10.: #note10r

[35] 11.: #note11r

[36] 12.: #note12r

[37] 13.: #note13r

[38] 14.: #note14r

[39] 15.: #note15r

[40] 16.: #note16r

[41] 17.: #note17r

[42] 18.: #note18r

[43] a.: #end01r

[44] b.: #end02r

[45] Red Sea or Reed Sea?: http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=10&Issue=04&ArticleID=03&

Voir par ailleurs:

Mahomet, Jésus et Moïse
Non, tous les déséquilibrés ne crient pas « Allah akbar »
La gamme, déjà très riche, des pathologies répertoriées par la psychiatrie vient de s’enrichir. Comme la France, cette discipline est d’une fabuleuse diversité…
Benoît Raysky

Atlantico

23 Décembre 2014

L’individu qui a fauché une dizaine de piétons à Dijon était donc suivi psychiatriquement depuis longtemps. Ce n’est pas contestable et pas contesté. En revanche le fait qu’il portait une djellaba ne constitue aucunement un signe de dérèglement psychologique. Le fait qu’il ait crié « Allah akbar » en tentant de semer la mort sur son passage non plus.

Des déséquilibrés, il y en a à la pelle en France. Certains d’entre eux, sortis prématurément des unités de soins où ils auraient dû rester, tuent parfois, agressent, blessent.

On n’en parle pas trop. Juste ce qu’il faut. Si celui de Dijon fait la une des médias c’est précisément parce qu’il a crié « Allah akbar » et qu’il portait une djellaba. Il s’agit là d’un constat d’évidence. Et merci de n’y voir rien d’autre. Après c’est comme on veut. Si on est islamophobe on insiste sur son « Allah akbar » et sa djellaba. Si on est islamophile on appuiera très fort sur le bouton qui affichera le mot « déséquilibré » en évitant soigneusement toute allusion à la djellaba et à « Allah akbar ». Ainsi France Info, radio très peu casher mais très halal a beaucoup parlé du « déséquilibré » de Dijon.

Et, profitant de cet effet d’aubaine, la radio s’est gravement posée la question de savoir si peut-être l’islamiste de Joué-lès-Tours, abattu par la police, n’était pas lui aussi un « déséquilibré ». Dans la fabrique de l’info on fabrique de l’info selon une recette dont cette radio détient le secret.

Pour ma part soucieux d’équilibre (le contraire de déséquilibre !) et de modération je serais enclin au compromis c’est-à-dire au cumul. On peut être déséquilibré et musulman. Ou musulman et déséquilibré. Il faut noter qu’en France la majorité des déséquilibrés – c’est logiquement mathématique – est composée de chrétiens. On signalera aussi qu’il y a des déséquilibrés juifs, même peut-être beaucoup car ces gens-là se tourmentent depuis 2000 ans…

Cependant, il n’a pas été porté à notre connaissance que des déséquilibrés chrétiens soient allés renverser des piétons ou attaquer à l’arme blanche des policiers en criant « gloire au Christ-Roi ». On ne nous a pas fait savoir non plus que des déséquilibrés juifs se soient rendus dans une banlieue « sensible » dans le but de tuer et de blesser en hurlant « l’an prochain à Jérusalem ! ». C’est pourquoi il me semble que le cas de Dijon, et peut-être celui de Joué-lès-Tours (si les espoirs de France Info se confirment), doivent être immédiatement retirés des mains de M. Cazeneuve pour être confié à celles, plus adéquates, de Marisol Touraine.

Il s’agit bien là d’une nouvelle pathologie, inconnue jusqu’à maintenant et que la France peut être fière de breveter. Une discipline parfaitement reconnue de la psychiatrie porte le nom d’ethnopsychiatrie. Elle postule, avec bon sens, que les manifestations psychotiques d’un guerrier Masai ne sont pas tout à fait identiques à celles d’un berger corse. Que la paranoïa d’un chercheur d’or d’Amazonie peut revêtir d’autres formes que les crises d’un chasseur de phoques eskimo. Que les névroses d’un habitué des pagodes bouddhistes font appel à d’autres références inconscientes que celles d’un catholique confit en dévotion. On pourrait imaginer que – déséquilibré pour déséquilibré – lire le Coran n’appelle pas tout à fait les mêmes réactions que la lecture de l’Ancien et du Nouveau Testament. En conséquence de quoi on ne voit pas pourquoi on s’arrêterait aux cas de Dijon et peut-être de Joué-lès-Tours (toujours selon France Info que je me plais à citer pour le plaisir).

En effet, croit-on que les milliers de ressortissants européens qui partent égorger en Irak et en Syrie soient très équilibrés ? Que des centaines de milliers d’autres, qui eux aussi, hurlent « Allah akbar » réclamant des fatwas contre les infidèles soient parfaitement sains d’esprit ? Plus il y a de fous moins on rit.

PS : Un désiquilibré a foncé avec sa camionnette dans la foule à Nantes. Il s’appelle Sébastien F. (ouf !).Il ne portait pas de djellaba (ouf !). Il n’a pas crié « Allah akbar » (ouf !). Suite à tous ces événements, Hollande a convoqué d’urgence pour ce mardi matin un conseil interministériel. Sans doute pour parler des déséquilibrés. De tous les déséquilibrés ?

Voir par ailleurs

Des juristes égyptiens réclament aux ‘Juifs’ des dédommagements pour ‘les milliards’ de tonnes d’or prétendument spoliés lors de l’exode d’Egypte

MEMRI
Dans son numéro du 9 août 2003, l’hebdomadaire égyptien Al-Ahram Al-Arabi publie une interview du Dr Nabil Hilmi, doyen de la faculté de droit de l’université d’Al-Zaqaziq qui, en collaboration avec un groupe d’Egyptiens expatriés en Suisse, prépare un énorme procès contre « tous les Juifs du monde ». Voici quelques extraits de l’interview: [1]

Dr Hilmi : « (…) Puisque les Juifs manifestent des exigences à l’égard des Arabes et du monde, revendiquant des droits sur la base de documents historiques et religieux, un groupe d’Egyptiens en Suisse a ouvert le dossier du dénommé ‘grand exode des Juifs de l’Egypte des Pharaons’. En ce temps-là, ils ont volé aux Egyptiens de l’époque pharaonique de l’or, des bijoux, des ustensiles de cuisine, de l’argenterie, des vêtements, et plus encore, quittant l’Egypte au milieu de la nuit avec toutes ces richesses, aujourd’hui d’une valeur inestimable ».

Question: « Que vont faire les membres de ce groupe d’Egyptiens en Suisse à ce propos? »

Hilmi: « Le Dr Gamil Yaken, vice-président de la communauté égyptienne de Suisse, est venu recueillir des informations en Egypte. Nous avons constitué une équipe de juristes pour préparer la confrontation légale de rigueur qui vise la restitution, par les Juifs, de ce qu’ils ont volé il y a longtemps, [délit] à propos duquel il n’est pas possible d’invoquer la prescription. En outre, [ce vol] se base sur leur livre saint, qu’ils ont aussi invoqué en envahissant [la terre] des autres peuples.

Le Pharaon égyptien a été surpris de découvrir, un beau jour, des milliers de femmes égyptiennes pleurant sous le balcon du palais, implorant de l’aide et se plaignant de ce que les Juifs leur aient dérobé leurs habits et leurs bijoux, au cours de la plus grande escroquerie collective que l’histoire ait connue.

Le pillage ne concernait pas uniquement l’or. Les voleurs se sont emparé de tout ce que l’on peut imaginer. Ils ont vidé les maisons égyptiennes de leurs ustensiles de cuisine. Une des femmes s’est avancée vers le Pharaon, les yeux baissés, pour lui dire que sa voisine juive, qui vivait dans la maison située à droite de la sienne, était venue la trouver pour lui emprunter ses objets d’or, prétendant avoir été invitée à un mariage (…) Cette voisine juive a pris [les objets], promettant de les ramener le jour suivant. Quelques minutes plus tard, la voisine de la maison de gauche frappait à sa porte pour lui emprunter ses ustensiles de cuisine parce qu’elle avait des invités à dîner. En utilisant le même stratagème trompeur, les voleurs se sont emparés de tous les ustensiles de cuisine (…) »

Question: « On comprend qu’ils aient volé l’or, mais pourquoi les ustensiles de cuisine? »

Hilmi: « S’emparer de l’or était compréhensible. Il s’agit là clairement du pillage des ressources et des richesses d’un pays d’accueil, ce qui correspond bien aux mœurs et au caractère des Juifs. Le vol des ustensiles de cuisine, quand d’autres objets d’une valeur supérieure auraient pu leur être préférés, paraissait assez incompréhensible aux Egyptiennes. L’un des prêtres égyptiens a assuré que telle a toujours a été la sournoise méthode juive: chercher à provoquer un problème mineur lié aux besoins de la vie quotidienne pour occuper les gens et détourner leur attention de l’or volé et de sa restitution (…)

Une enquête de police a révélé que Moïse et Aaron – que la paix soit sur eux ! – avaient compris qu’il était impossible d’habiter en Egypte, malgré les plaisirs qu’offrait ce pays et alors même que les Egyptiens les associaient à toutes leurs activités, en raison de la nature perverse des Juifs avec lesquels les Egyptiens s’étaient réconciliés, bien que contre leur gré. Donc, ordre fut donné par les rabbins juifs de fuir le pays et de garder le secret sur cet exode – qui devrait se faire à la faveur de l’obscurité et en emportant le plus grand butin possible. Le code était: ‘A minuit’. En outre, les femmes juives avaient reçu l’ordre de voler l’or et les ustensiles de cuisine des Egyptiennes, et avaient obtempéré.«
Question:« Sont-ils partis individuellement ou en groupe? »

Hilmi: « Ils sont partis dans un convoi de 600.000 personnes, soit environ 120.000 familles. Il y avait quelques chariots dans le convoi, et une longue file d’ânes chargés des biens spoliés (…) Ils se sont enfoncés jusqu’au cœur du désert du Sinaï, pour tromper l’armée de Pharaon qui était à leur poursuite (…) Plus tard, ils se sont reposés et ont entrepris de faire le compte de l’or volé, découvrant qu’il y en avait 300.000 kilos. »

Question: « Mais les Juifs peuvent mettre en doute cette histoire avec leurs méthodes habituelles. Quelle est la preuve religieuse dont vous avez dit qu’elle se trouve dans la Torah? »

Hilmi: « Naturellement, les Juifs mettent en doute cette histoire parce que c’est dans leur intérêt. Mais la réponse est que ce récit se fonde sur ce qui est écrit dans la Torah. On peut le trouver dans l’Exode, [chapitre] 35, versets 12 à 36… »

Question:« Alors, quels arguments invoquer pour obtenir la restitution de notre or volé? »

Hilmi: « Il y a deux types de plaintes, l’une afférente à la religion, et l’autre afférente au droit. D’un point de vue religieux, toutes les religions monothéistes interdisent le vol (…) Cette interdiction figure également dans les Dix Commandements, que les Juifs ont reçu l’ordre [d’observer]. Ils ont donc le devoir religieux élémentaire de restituer ce qui a été volé, s’il existe encore.

D’un point de vue juridique, fuir en emportant les biens des Egyptiens peut revenir à un emprunt ou à un vol. S’il s’agit d’un emprunt, la chose a, sur le plan juridique, un caractère provisoire et non pas permanent, et donc [l’or] doit être restitué, avec intérêt, à ses propriétaires.
Par contre, si les Juifs ont pris les biens des Egyptiens non pas dans le but de les emprunter mais afin de les garder pour eux, en termes juridiques, il s’agit d’un vol, et ils doivent donc restituer les biens volés à leurs propriétaires, en plus de l’intérêt pour l’usage qu’ils en ont fait durant toute la période du vol ».

Question:« A combien estimez-vous la valeur de l’or, de l’argent et des vêtements qui ont été volés, et comment calculez-vous leur équivalent actuel ? »

Hilmi: « Si nous supposons que le poids de ce qui a été volé était d’une tonne, [sa valeur] a doublé tous les 20 ans, même si l’intérêt annuel n’est que de 5%. Une tonne d’or équivaut à 700 kilogrammes d’or pur – car nous devons nous rappeler que ce sont des bijoux qui ont été volés, et donc [que l’or contenait] un alliage de cuivre. Par conséquent, au bout de 1.000 ans, cela représenterait 1.125.898.240 millions de tonnes, soit 1.125.898 milliards de tonnes pour 1.000 années. En d’autres termes, 1.125.000 milliards de tonnes d’or, c.-à-d., un million multiplié par un million de tonnes d’or. Ceci pour une tonne volée. L’or volé est estimé à 300 tonnes, et le vol n’a pas duré 1.000 ans, mais 5.758 ans, d’après le comput juif. Par conséquent, la dette est très importante (…)
Sa valeur doit être calculée rigoureusement et conformément à l’information récoltée; après quoi, il convient d’ouvrir une action judiciaire contre tous les Juifs du monde, et d’Israël en particulier, de manière à ce qu’ils remboursent aux Egyptiens la dette mentionnée dans la Torah ».

Question: « Une solution de compromis est-elle possible? »

Hilmi: « On peut envisager un compromis. La dette peut être ré-échelonnée sur 1.000 ans, avec l’ajout d’un intérêt cumulatif durant cette période ».
[1] Al-Ahram Al-Arabi (Egypte), le 9 août 2003

17 commentaires pour Exodus: A trop ménager la chèvre et le chou, Hollywood finit par perdre l’essentiel (While the jihadist beheading and ramming rages on, Ridley Scott goes for the fake science and misses the real theology)

  1. A reblogué ceci sur L'horreur islamiqueet a ajouté:
    Je confirme: Je l’ai vu mercredi pour faire plaisir à ma famille et je confirme, en plus ce n’est même pas ridicule comme le film sur Pompei que je m’étais payé ici, donc on ne rit meme pas

    J'aime

  2. jcdurbant dit :

    Following Morocco, Egypt bans ‘Exodus’
    Cultural minister slams ‘Zionist’ movie for inaccuracies; decision comes day after Rabat bans Ridley Scott blockbuster
    By JTA December 26, 2014

    CAIRO, Egypt — Egypt has banned the Hollywood biblical epic movie “Exodus: Gods and Kings” citing historical inaccuracies, the culture minister said Friday, a day after a similar move by Morocco.

    Culture Minister Gaber Asfour told AFP Ridley Scott’s blockbuster was rife with mistakes, including an apparent claim that “Moses and the Jews built the pyramids.”

    “This totally contradicts proven historical facts,” Asfour said.

    “It is a Zionist film,” he said. “It gives a Zionist view of history and contains historical inaccuracies and that’s why we have decided to ban it.”

    The ban was decided by a committee comprising the head of the supreme council for culture, Mohammed Afifi, the head of the censorship committee and two history professors, said Asfour.

    Afifi said he took issue with the scene showing the parting of the Red Sea in which Moses — a prophet revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike — is seen holding a “sword” like a warrior, instead of a “stick.”

    Furthermore, he said, the parting of the Red Sea is explained in the movie as a “tidal phenomenon” rather than a divine miracle.

    Morocco has also banned the film, despite it already having been approved by the state-run Moroccan Cinema Center, media reported on Thursday, quoting theater managers.

    Hassan Belkady, who runs Cinema Rif in Casablanca, told media24 news website that he had been threatened with the closure of his business if he ignored the ban.

    “They phoned and threatened they would shut down the theater if I did not take the film off the schedule,” Belkady said.

    In March, Al-Azhar, Egypt’s top Islamic body, banned the screening of “Noah,” another Hollywood biblical epic starring Russell Crowe, saying it violated Islam by portraying a prophet.

    The film triggered controversy in the United States where some Christian institutions criticizing Crowe’s reportedly unconventional portrayal of Noah.

    “Exodus” has also sparked unkind reviews and upset some Christian groups, with critics saying Scott took too many liberties with the Bible and cast Western actors in Middle East roles.

    Egypt has censored other movies in the past, including the blockbuster “The Da Vinci Code” after protests from the Orthodox Coptic Church.

    But it did allow the screening of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of The Christ,” which depicts Jesus being crucified.

    Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet and was not crucified.

    Read more: Following Morocco, Egypt bans ‘Exodus’ | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/egypt-axes-exodus-film-citing-historical-mistakes/#ixzz3N8XMkxsl

    J'aime

  3. […] que de Moïse à Turing et de Solomon Northup à Martin Luther King, Hollywood sytématiquement l’histoire […]

    J'aime

  4. […] plus grand tueur de masse de l’histoire, Dieu vengeur tueur d’enfants, famille autrichienne censée fuir secrètement le nazisme par les montagnes suisses, premier film […]

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