Pharaoh Goes Bonkers, or the Stupidity of a Tyrant: Reflections on Exodus 1:8 -- 2:10

This pharaoh is several bricks short of a load; his elevator does not go up to the top floor; he is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. In short, he is a tyrant of very little brain. Although he does get one thing right—a boy is in fact thrown in the Nile but hardly to die. Rather that child will grow up in pharaoh's own house, being nursed by that boy's own mother who is paid for that motherly task by pharaoh's own daughter! If you think that these Egyptians are ever going to get the best of these Israelites, this Hebrew author wants you to know for certain that that will never happen.

One might say that the game is over in the top half of the first inning, precisely because Israel is the chosen people of God. Pharaoh, who thought to deal "wisely" has rather shown himself the fool, destined to be beaten by his adopted grandson, destined to lose those rabbit-like Israelites to a wilderness, a sacred mountain, and a land of promise. Of course, as the tale is further told, those Israelites will themselves all too often become too much like old pharaoh, bent less on becoming the people of God and more on worrying about those who are not like them. It is always far easier to play the tyrant than it is to be God's people. Tyrants are a dime a dozen, so it appears, while people of God…? Well, they are rare, it seems, all too rare.

12/2/2022 9:10:36 PM
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    About John Holbert
    John C. Holbert is the Lois Craddock Perkins Professor Emeritus of Homiletics at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, TX.