Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Passing Over

Today (or more accurately, sundown yesterday) marks Passover, where our Jewish friends celebrate with food and matzoh (which I don't count as food unless it's covered in chocolate. Same goes for tomatoes.) and commemorate the infamous evening when the Angel of Death passed over Egypt and killed the first born from every Egyptian household. To preserve the first borns of Jewish slaves in the region, lambs' blood was spread over the doors of their houses so that the Death Angel would "pass over" those houses and spare them.

Now, most of my friends know that my opinion of the Bible is that it is a complicated story of a power-mad tyrant with the attention span of a four year old (I'm talking about God here) and his constant abuse of both his Chosen Ones (the Israelites) and everyone they come into contact with. There is constant war, human sacrifice, incest, rape, genocide, and murder--and this is the stuff that God condones!

The Passover story always caused some questions for me:

1) Why have the plague hit every Egyptian in the realm? Surely not all of them were complicit in keeping the Jews enslaved. It seemed like the only one worth punishing was the Pharaoh.

2) After each plague, when the Pharaoh is ready to let the Jews go, God then "hardens his heart" and makes the Pharaoh renege and keep them put. Uh, WTF, God? Are you schizo? You're punishing the hell out of an entire country so they'll let your people go, and the minute the king is ready to do so you force him to change his mind? Maybe this mental illness of yours explains why you invented the platypus.

3) Lambs blood? If you're all powerful and all knowing, wouldn't you already know which families to spare?

4) Since the lambs blood thing was by household, what do you do if Jews are sharing a household with Egyptians? Do they then have to put the lambs blood over certain bedroom doorways? Heaven help it if the kids are doing a sleepover.

5) Surely there was at least some intermarriage at that time. Do the half-Jewish half Egyptian first borns just get a bad head cold?

6) Isn't there something inherently wrong with murdering innocent first borns simply for living under the realm of a tyrant that won't do your bidding (or will, except you keep hardening his heart, GOD)? Why, if a human political or military leader did this, would we bring them up on war crimes charges, and yet we're okay with a God that behaves this way?

Well, the Bible has a lot more tales that really make you wonder how it could inspire three religions the way that it did, but to the extent that Jews today can celebrate being free from enslavement and carrying on their traditions with loved ones, I wish a happy Passover!

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