Sunday, October 24, 2010

Exodus: Chapters 10-16

Number of times Pharaoh hardens his heart: 3
Number of times God hardens Pharaoh's heart: 8

I guess once upon a time free will was not the philosophical and moral sticky widget it is nowadays? By modern standards, this part of Exodus is super sketchy! Also it is super formulaic, it is just plague, repentant Pharaoh, end of plague, hardened hearted Pharaoh, repeat.

You really think for a second that after God kills all those firstborns it'll be over, or at least that Pharaoh will be hardening his own heart from now on, but no! Imagine being Moses, you're a very nervous public speaker but you keep going head to head with Pharaoh as the people you grew up with become more and more beset by plagues because the disembodied voice of a burning bush keeps bossing you around and occasionally trying to kill you, and it's very clear this disembodied voice could just make Pharaoh DECIDE to let everyone go immediately but instead goes through this whole rigmarole of intentionally making Pharaoh LESS compliant, just so he can torture Egyptians and murder their children, but finally, FINALLY, Pharaoh is letting you all go. The bags are packed, the cattle rounded up, the bread unleavened, the goats sacrificed, the penises circumcised, everything is SET, you are OUT of Egypt and in the desert, and after all that God says to you, "Hey, Moses, I've got this great idea: I'm gonna harden Pharaoh's heart again! It'll be great!"

I guess on some level I always knew this, but I am really getting now that the point of God was not always to have an all-loving all-powerful being who would care about you and listen to all your problems and forgive you no matter what and be like the nicest Dad ever. The point used to be to be fucking TERRIFIED.

On that note, I don't think the Israelites are terrified enough. Seriously, whenever anything goes wrong they are all, "Ugh, why did you even BOTHER freeing us? If we'd known food would be hard to find in the DESERT we just would have stayed HOME." To be fair, God always lets things get to the point just before everyone is about to die, and then he steps in and fixes everything while yelling at Moses for the people not having faith. I'm not a business student, but I bet there is a part in Managing 101 about not doing exactly that. Anyway, soon they are eating delicious quail and bread that tastes like honey wafers. But it appears on "the desert floor" which I think means SAND. Honestly, was I the only child who wondered if the manna got covered in sand? Have you ever dropped food on the beach? That shit is DONE FOR.

If you are interested, the amount of manna each person requires is one omer. If you don't know how much an omer is, don't worry! Chapter 16 ends with a delightful clarifying conversion:

Exodus 16:36: Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah.


  1. How many calories are in one omer of manna? Quail? Is quail also measured in omers? How about sand?

  2. You're still a very good and clever read, funny and thoroughly enjoyable !

    There seems to have been some problems with the site... I've had trouble accessing it once or twice in the past week. Do you have any information about this ? Should your avid readers be worried ?

  3. I had not noticed! I've been neglecting the site for a while, schoolwork etc, but everything should be fine.

  4. I'm glad to see someone else pointing out the little indiscrepancies like these that should be a bigger deal... makes me feel a little less crazy. :) Great post!