May 26, 2007, on this blog: Giving the moon the finger
Exodus definitively establishes the motif and the trajectory. Liberation starts here. But it does not end here.
The Exodus story provides refrains that echo all through scripture: “You were once slaves in Egypt,” “the Lord brought you out of slavery in Egypt.” This refrain is the basis for much that follows in the law and the prophets. You were once slaves in Egypt, so we’re going to practice liberation every Sabbath year and every Jubilee. You were once slaves in Egypt, so breaking every yoke is what religion is all about. And further along this trajectory, You were once slaves in Egypt but I brought you out, so you’re going to love your neighbor and even love your enemies.
The Exodus is, to borrow an image from Buddhism, a finger pointing at the moon. Measuring the length and the limits of that finger misses the, well, point. Woolman and Wilberforce understood this. Martin Luther King Jr. understood this. Bob Marley understood this.
So if you’ve an interest in this subject — what the Bible says about slavery — you need to do more than study the finger. You need to look where it’s pointing.