Just had one of those wow discoveries today. I was reading Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw's "Jesus For President" for the second time, and came across their overview of the Exodus story. I am assuming you all know about this one. Both the old Ten Commandments movie staring Charlton Heston, and the Disney movie Prince of Egypt try and tell the story.
But as I was reading I discovered something I have never seen before:
Pharaoh's name is never given. Pharaoh is not a name, its a title. In the story we meet Moses, Aaron, Miriam but we never really meet the real Pharaoh, all he is, is a title.
So what does that have to do with anything? Well, if I told you this story, about the oppressive nation, and the leader of this nation that continued to hold a large majority of the nation in slavery, and poverty. But never named the guy, what does that do to the story? If I said the president, then did this, the president then did that, a very common response would be which president. Since this was not written as a newspaper article, but as religious history, a name would be expected.
But when we read this story, we find that a nation, and the nations highest office, is the hands that hold Israel in slavery. It is not an individual, but a corporate identity and its high office. And who opposses this nameless face of the corporate evil? An elderly shepherd, and fugitive from justice, who was dispossessed by the same corporate evil as a child. This is not a battle with an individual, but as the bible says later in Ephesians, but with principalities, and powers, and the rulers of darkness.
God delivers from the oppressive system, headed by an office that has been corrupted by the very power that was given him. In one of his essays, Noam Chomski says something like, "the problem with power, is that once you have it, you are forced to defend it" Pharaoh was not just a man, with a family, but the power of all of Egypt, and could not let that be compromised. He even loses his family in the process.
Hope that made some small amount of sense, makes lots of sense in my head.