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    The Celestial tug of war – Va’era

    In the Book of Exodus the Torah changes. It no longer concentrates on individual life stories. Now there is a new dimension, a new backdrop – national and international politics.

    Yes, there are personal elements, biographical details, stories within a story.

    We encounter Moses the individual, Aaron the individual, Pharaoh the individual, Pharaoh’s daughter the individual… but there is a context. One people and its leader are in a tug of war against another people and its leader.

    Each people has its deity. Moses and the Israelites are not their own masters. Their higher Master is God. Pharaoh and the Egyptians also have a religious dimension, made even more complicated because Pharaoh himself is regarded as at least partly divine.

    A pattern emerges which develops and plays out throughout the subsequent centuries. The battle is not limited to earthly considerations. When the Jews struggle for their freedom and rights it is part of a higher struggle between the God of Israel and the religions of the environment.

    That isn’t all. It is not so much the Jewish God against the gods of others but the Jewish Elokim against the gentile Elilim, the no-gods.

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