Monday, March 25, 2013

Passover: Time to celebrate the wanton torture & slaughter of innocent millions

Tonight is the first night of Passover. There was a time in my life when Passover actually meant something meaningful and good to me. According to the Jewish faith, Passover commemorates the Israelites release from slavery in Egypt as told in Exodus.

We’d gather as a family - aunts, uncles, cousins et al, - and share the “Seder”, the Passover meal. As the youngest child, it was my solemn duty to ask the “four questions” which were answered by my father. Among the questions was “Why is this night different from all other nights.” The answers, along with all the other facets of the Judaic fable, were all lies.

You’ll recall from watching The Charlton Heston, Yule Brenner movie “The Ten Commandments”, that Moses went to Pharaoh and asked him to let his people go on multiple occasions; but each time “God hardened the Pharaohs’ heart” against the Jews and he refused to release them, only to have his nation punished by ten of God’s successively more hideous plagues. For the final coup de gras punishment God sent down the angel of death to kill all the first born of Egypt, culminating in the deaths of perhaps millions of Egyptians from infants to old people.

The good news is that the angel of death, evidently lacking “Jew-dar” (the Jew detecting version of “gay-dar”) was clued into where the Israelite homes were by the lamb’s blood the Jews smeared on their door lintels at Moses’ direction . The Jewish first born were thus spared. The angel of death “passed over” their houses. How nice. The story is so delightful to Jewish believers that if you Google “Passover plagues” you’ll find lots of happy children’s images celebrating the ten plagues. The picture above is one of them.

The faithful, be they Jew or Christian, never want to question this story, subject it to some reasoned inquiry. The fact is that the “four questions” that every thinking Jew and gentile should be asking are these:

“If God gives free will, why did God intentionally influence the Pharaoh’s decision to reject Moses’ pleas for freedom multiple times by ‘hardening’ his heart?”

“If God is omniscient, and knew that Pharaoh would only release the Jews following the mass genocide of Egyptian first born, why didn’t he just jump directly to the ultimate mass murder and avoid the other theatrics of locust, and hail, a bloody Nile, etc?”

”If god is Omni-beneficent, all merciful, why sacrifice so many innocents to prove his point? After all, after many plagues the people of Egypt implored the Pharaoh to let the Jews go. Why not just destroy the House of the Pharaoh, the priests and advisors, and Pharaoh himself, or better yet, simply appear in the sky and threaten destruction personally?”

”If the story were true, how is it that the Old Testament story is not corroborated by one monument, not one papyrus, not one etching or shard of data by the hand of a single Egyptian; a civilization famous for their detailed record keeping and devotion to commemorating historical events- or a single visiting Greek?”

The fact is these aren’t things the religious want to consider. And while thousands of apologists have written tens of thousands of pages of justification for these contradictions, they are no more on the critical thinking radar screen of believers than is questioning how the sun stopped in the sky over the battle of Jericho without causing the natural disasters that would have ensued had the earth stopped spinning.

You’d at least think that a people who admire and respect education, who have themselves been persecuted and subjected to genocide at the hands of their fellow God fearing religionists, would be rather circumspect about celebrating the torture and destruction of millions of innocent lives. But I suppose when one has been a victim so long and so often that it’s a lot easier to accept the victimization of others without much concern. After all, it’s all good … that time it was “God’s will.”

I could just image the answer my father would have given if I had posed those “revised” Passover questions during the Passover Seder: “Shut the hell up ya little pisher, and pass the brisket!”.


Momma Moonbat said...

Let's add another question to the list. Why did skydaddy allow the Jews to become slaves in the first place if he loved them so much?

Dromedary Hump said...

Good question..Momma. I guess since they are the "chosen people" god chose to screw with them, and has for 5000+ years. ;)

NewEnglandBob said...

Even the 5000 years is a lie. It is actually about 3400.

There are many other parts of the Passover sedar and if one reads them, it is unbelievable that anyone falls for those bad fabrications. Any one with even a smidgen of thought would see right through all these tales.

MaryLynne said...

That first question, why did God harden Pharoah's heart, was the one that started the dominos falling that led to my shedding faith.

itsmecrazydad said...

From George Burns' book:

Why is this night different than any other night?

- from George Burns, 100 Years, 100 Stories

During one of my many trips to London, I became friends with a very wealthy, yet very modest, Jewish chap by the name of Hyman Goldfarb. On one visit, Hy told me that, because of his large donations to charities through the years, the queen wished to knight him. However, he was going to turn it down.

"But that is a great honour," I said. "Why would you turn it down?"

"Because during the ceremony you have to say something in Latin," he explained. "And I don't wish to bother studying Latin just for that."

"So say something in Hebrew. The queen won't know the difference."

"Brilliant! but what should I say?"

"Remember that question the son asks the father on the first night of Passover: 'Why is this night different than any other night?'? Can you say that in Hebrew?"

"Of course," he said. "Ma nishtana ha leila hazeh. Thank you, old sport, I shall become a knight."

At the ceremony Hy waited his turn while several of the other honorees went before the queen. Finally they called his name. He knelt before Her Majesty, she placed her sword on one shoulder and then on the other, and motioned for Hy to speak.

Out came "Ma nishtana ha leila hazeh."

The queen turned to her husband and said, "Why is this knight different from all other knights?"

gerard26 said...

The Passover tale Exodus 13:14 and Noah's curse Genesis 9:20-27,the first celebrates mass murder in the name of god and the second divides humanity into racial groups and condoned slavery in the name of god. The apologist for religious dogma explain away the inherent evil in both of these horrible passages thanks for this thoughtful post.

Anonymous said...

Interesting view, I look at it from different perspective. Right or wrong the ancient world was a barbaric place. Tribes slaughtering other tribes in a quest for territory or wealth or food or in the name of their gods. Whether by war or by plagues many were killed to free their people's from slavery. Look at the modern era and the civil war. Let us remember the Pharaoh's decree that the first born of the Jews were slaughtered at birth, in order to keep the people from growing to large and powerful. This came a generation before the exodus.

Dromedary Hump said...

Indeed, a brutal era. but just as there is no corroborative evidence of the a) Hebrew enslavement or b) exodus, so too is there no corroborative evidence for Egyptian slaughter of the Jews' first born. They are both literary devises by the authors of the Tanahk to give divine justification for their chosen people status and their destruction of neighboring tribes and encroachment of their lands.

Reference gerard's identification of two books and verses that provides justification for enslavement and conquering of the tribes and lands they occupy.

i guess the meat of the issue comes down to celebrating any hideous acts of ancient barbarism , real or invented, man made, or divinely attributed in the light of what we know now about contradictions, and in the absence of credible evidence; or celebrating escape from a slavery which historically has no evidence.

But I guess that's the very basis for all religions' dogmas, rituals, and delusions. So on it goes.

It'sMeCrazy dad: Good one. You must hyave been waiting for years to retell that joke :)

NatalieK said...

I will forward the post to the-only-Rabbi I know for his comments (if any). Wearing my nit-picking hat, I would say that there were unlikely to have been "millions" of first born in Egypt at any time. Hundreds of thousands sounds more believable.

I think the lack of documentary evidence from the Egyptians is irrelevant. Rulers throughout the ages have controlled what is published, and have shown a tendency to only publicise their successes. In other words, I don't believe the Egptians.

I sat through every miserable seder wondering why we were only praising God for getting us out of Egypt, but not blaming him for the drought which got us into s...t in the first place. It was not a question I could have asked my parents.

History happened and our choice is only to ignore the stories or to relate them. We have no control over the events. We do have absolute control over they myths we choose to perpetuate. The Passover story is even more horrifying as a myth than as a "history".

Dromedary Hump said...

Would love to hear the rabbi's response. Please share it with us, if you get one.

True, the victors usually write history, thus entirely possible that the Egyptians wouldn't have recorded their defeat for posterity. But to have had 1/4th of a population wiped out in one night; and the strongest army known to civilization destoyed in one day, would not have escaped the attention of every other competing civilization, historian, philosopher in the region, or civilized/literate world.

As for population of Egypt: The exodus story is placed to have happened around 1440 BCE during the New Kingdom era. The New Kingdom era was from 1550-1070 BCE, and was estimated to have had a population of 4.5 million people. If only one out of four people at any time were "first born" that would net approx 1.1 million murders by the angel of death.

Population data from here:

LIFT: Living in Free Thought said...

All great questions. Religion begs for so many questions to be answered, but so few people are willing to ask them. Great post! Just started a similar blog, myself, which is how I found surfing through common interest pages. Keep writing!771