From the Power of Pharaoh to the Power of God: The Journey of Israel from Egypt to Sinai
Maria Anicia B. Co
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An interesting and intriguing biblical narrative that deals about power is the story of Israel’s liberation from Egyptian slavery in the book of Exodus. Ex 3:8 expresses the intention of God to rescue the Israelites from “the power of the Egyptians”. In contrast to the power of the Egyptians is the power of God mentioned in Ex 9:16 “to show you my power and to make my name resound throughout the earth.” The Hebrew word used in Ex 3:8 and translated into English as “power” is yād dy’ whereas in Ex 9:16 it is kōaḥ x;Ak. The contrast between the power of the Egyptians and the power of YHWH is articulated in Ex 14:30-31 “Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the power (yād) of Egypt. When Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore and saw the great power (hayyād haggedolāh) that the Lord has shown against Egypt, the people feared the Lord. They believed in the Lord and in Moses his servant.” This essay will explore the concept of power in the story of Israel’s liberation from Egypt and the desert journey in the Book of Exodus. The plague narrative has been interpreted as presenting a contest of power between God and Pharaoh. Using narrative analysis, this paper will show the plot development of the story that climaxes in the story of the crossing of the sea. The Israelites might have been freed from the hand of Pharaoh yet the story of their desert wander g shows that Egypt still had a hold in them. The crossing of the sea might signify the physical liberation from Egypt and the power of Pharaoh but the Israelites remained under the sway of Egyptian cultural power. The desert journey was a stage in the process of the formation of the people as a community under God’s  power. It can be asked whether the narrative shows simply a change of power – from Pharaoh to God, and therefore not a true liberation for the Israelites or being under God’s power is what liberation is all about. In what sense then can being under God’s power mean true liberation for the Israelites? What does this mean for our contemporary times?

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