Pesach – 18.04.2011 A.D. (cont.)

After God decided to shock all of the Egyptians by killing the first-born of every Egyptian family, human and beast, he finally ‘allowed’ Pharoah to release the Israelites to…. the large inhospitable desert! Thank you sooo much!
So, the Israelites packed up everything that they owned (which couldn’t have been too much for they were slaves, weren’t they?) though apparently they took off with a substantial amount of gold and jewels from the Egyptian treasury, they set off towards the Red Sea.

There is an argument as to where the Red Sea is and it is thought that the Red Sea is now better known as Yam Sof, which translates from the Hebrew as the Reed Sea. But be it as it may, the Israelites with their aging leader, arrived at the sea and are now trapped between the sea and the pharaoh’s army. Apparently he had a change of heart again (and I’m sure that God had nothing to do with this) and he decided to leave his palace with his large army in order to slaughter the Israelites. Ah, this was a good opportunity for God to show how wonderful he is again, again. And so, now trapped between the large body of water and the bloodthirsty Egyptian army, the Israelites turn in desperation to Moses for help. He in turn looks up for help from God who, after a while decides to step on and save the day again, again. The water parted and allowed the Israelites to walk safely in the path now reveled by the partition of the water. You must admit, it must have been a beautiful sight! And just to drive the point home he ‘allowed’ the Pharaoh’s army to follow the Israelites into the water in order to catch them. But God then closed the water on all those soldiers, who were only doing what they were commanded by their chief, and they all drowned.

God truly is a wonderful, forgiving and benevolent being!

The parting of the Red Sea

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Saints, Devils and Weddings, Oh My!

Putting aside Ancient Egypt, Pesach and history for the moment, the beginning of this week certainly had a lot to offer. First, on Friday was the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate, which I was told was nice. I didn’t watch it myself because, frankly, I don’t care!, but surprisingly many Israelis did, along with many others around the world.

Kate and William tying the knot

Of course this was followed by the ceremony that brought John Paul II closer to sainthood. John Paul was Beatified (meaning he will now be known as the Blessed John Paul) before many Catholics on the Sunday. There are those who claim that it was too soon since he’s only been dead for six years, but apparently there were enough people, including the current pope, Benedict XVI, who want to see him a saint during their lifetimes.

Blessed John Paul II (Soon to be Saint John Paul II...?)

Let’s not forget that last night Obama had declared to the world that following a military mission, Osama bin Ladin, the man who was responsible for many terrorist attacks, including (and probably his most shinning moment) the fall of the twin towers and the death of over three thousand people, has been killed. As the Americans proudly put it, justice has been done, even though it took them a decade to do so.

The Extremely dead (and not quite so saintly) Osama bin Laden

And though most people in the world don’t know, and most likely don’t care, here in Israel from last night we have entered our yearly mourning day over the six million people who were brutally murdered by the Nazis during World War II. But this day means another thing for me. Every year, according to the Hebrew calendar (28 of Adar), at exactly ten o’clock, a siren is heard as tribute to those dead (of course this is a tradition from Europe when a siren is heard every year on the 11/11 as a tribute to the soldiers who perished in World War I). Four years ago, as the siren died out, I knew that my mother was going to call, I knew that she was going to tell me that my grandmother has passed away.

My grandmother was 97 years old when she passed away, and she was a remarkable woman who influenced the lives of many. So, I’m dedicating this post to my grandmother, Dinah Levin (nee Schneider) who left behind three children, my mother, Judy Kaye, and her two brothers, Michael and Gerald, eight grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren (hopefully more are on their way!)

My parent's Wedding day (6th of June 1968). from the left, Dr Barnet Levin, Roger Kaye, Judith Kaye (nee Levin) and Dinah Levin (nee Schneider)

We all love you and miss you!

Grandma (Dinah Levin) 1910 - 2007

Pesach – 18.04.2011 A.D. (cont.)

I have always been skeptical about the story of Moses and the people of Israel being led out of Egypt by the hand of God, but that is not why I look forward to Pesach every year. I enjoy sitting with the family, reading the Hagada, having loads to eat and drink and, my personal favorite, to sing the songs! But when you really think about it the story just doesn’t make sense.

My brother once asked a very good question, why did God have to send ten plagues unto the Egyptians when he could, as a mighty being, just simply make it happen? Not to mention he was the one who kept hardening Pharoah’s heart thus preventing him from releasing the people of Israel from their bondage. Of course the answer will be to show how strong and powerful God really is. But then the next question will be why make the people of Israel suffer for it? Again the answer will be to demonstrate how powerful and almighty God is. So it would seem that the people of Israel went from being under the thumb of one ‘god’ to being under the thumb of another one. How is that supposed to make me happy?

Let’s not forget that it took God quite a long time to actually decide to help the Jews out of Egypt… only four hundred years according to the Bible. Wow! again the answer would be that God was punishing us (again) and demonstrating (again) that he is all-powerful and mighty.

Pesach – 18.04.2011 A.D.

O.K., I really have to take another breather from Egyptian history and this time it is for Pesach, or Passover. This is an event that happened a long time ago that is still celebrated around the world by Jews (and sometimes by United States presidents who don’t have anything else to do so they decide to usurper the Jewish religion and announce it to the world as though they should be rewarded for doing so!).

Moses being rescued from the Nile by the Pharaohs daughter

Anyway, for those who have not noticed, three nights ago was the feast of Passover, a night where all Jews (yes, including Jesus of Nazareth) sit down with their families and celebrate the wonderful libration that God had granted us so many years ago from those awful and horrible Egyptians. Reading the Hagada with the family is fun and exciting, reading how we were slaves and how we built the famous city of P-Ramases (though many get confused and think that the Jewish slaves built the pyramids… how wrong!). How Moses was saved by the Pharaoh’s daughter, how he later became the leader and saviour of the people of Israel by freeing them from their master, the Phraoh, by bringing down on him and Egypt not one, but ten plagues. How good and benevolent God is in his kindness in freeing us from the shackles of slavery……

Moses and the people of Israel

 

WAS THAT REALLY THE CASE?

A New Idea

I have to admit that it is weird to be writing my thoughts on my new blog, sending these words into cyberspace. My brother set this up for me claiming that I should use this opportunity to write what I know of history and archaeology. I will try my best to do so. Knowledge is a precious thing and history is disappearing too rapidly, and though it is important to look ahead into the future, we must not forget our past.

I apologise for the style in which I write, I do not mean to sound so formal, but this is all new to me and I hope that in time I will feel freer to express my thoughts on the internet. I hope that at least some will enjoy reading a little of what I write, whether it is history or television or books or just general experiences of life. I guess blogs answer the need of many people to write their thoughts down and hope that someone out there is reading about them, caring what they have to say.

Well, for today this will do for now. I will add more later this week…

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