Chapters 1 and 2 of Exodus would be kind-of funny, if the stakes weren’t so high.
Joseph’s brothers and family had moved to Egypt. They’d moved there after being promised by God that they would have countless decendants who would come to be important in the world.
When a new pharoah took power, all the things that Joseph had done were quickly forgotten. The Egyptians began to fear the Hebrews as there numbers grew.
I’ve read secular history accounts about this time that state that Egypt had been an occupied power. They’d been taken over and virtually enslaved. When they got free they entered into this nationalistic, xenophobic stage.
I don’t remember the details. I can’t cite a source. And I have no idea how the Hebrew population in Egypt fared through this period of captivity. So I’d be far from prepared to bet my life on any of this. But this is all a kind-of interesting side-note, anyway.
The thing that’s almost funny is this:
The Egyptians couldn’t stop God.
Of course, that’s a ridiculously obvious sentence. None of us can stop God. But it’s funny, too, in a way. Exodus states that they tried to turn midwives into collaborators. They tried to beat them down through their slavery. They engaged in the murder of the male children.
None of it worked: the Hebrew population grew, and grew, and grew.
And as they grew increasingly extreme in how they solved this “problem” one Hebrew mother engaged in a pretty interesting scheme. She arranged for her baby to land in the laps of the Egyptian royalty.
I can only assume the queen and the princess new what was going on. At the very moment they were speaking Hebrew babies were being killed. Who knows if they were completely o.k. with this situation? At the bare minimum though, they accepted it.
From the very first moment they set eyes on Moses, they recognized him as a Hebrew. And they accepted him. They raised him as their own. There is no record as to whether they recognized the wierdness of their situation:
In the abstract, it was permissable to allow all of the Hebrew babies to be slaughtered. But when they were confronted with one concrete little baby, he not only deserved to be allowed to live. He deserved to be raised in the richest and most powerful house for thousands of miles.
The root of hatred, prejudice, and even genocide is in seeing other human beings as an abstraction. When we are confronted with the concrete reality, the uniqueness of others, it becomes so much more difficult to hate.