From the moment the Israelites left Egypt, danger followed them all the way. Between the Egyptian army pursuing them and the dangers in the wilderness, the Israelites were a crowd of scared, tired people. They had seen God’s power in Egypt, but they were walking into the unknown. Seeing the cloud during the day and the column of fire during the night was probably a great comfort. The pillar of cloud and fire functioned as a reminder of God’s guiding and protective care, shown in Exodus 14:19, the pillar interposed between Israel and the pursuing Egyptian army, striking fear into the camp of Egypt and encouraging the Israelites.
Joseph had an extraordinary ability to shine in the darkest of places, to thrive under circumstances that could have crushed his spirit. He demonstrated this ability early.
Joseph’s 10 older brothers hated him because their father, Jacob, loved him-much more than he loved the rest of his children. He lavished attention and gifts on Joseph while the rest of his sons burned with envy.
Male circumcision requires the amputation of the foreskin in order to expose the glans of the penis. The Bible mentions that this procedure was common not only among the Israelites but also in Egypt, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and among “all who live in the wilderness” (Jer 9:25-26); conspicuous by its absence is any mention within Mesopotamian cultures. Consequently, when the Lord spoke with Abraham about circumcision (Gen 17:1-14), any familiarity he had with the procedure probably was gleaned during his Egyptian stay rather than from his experience in his former homeland.
In the ancient Middle East, the originator of a custom was frequently referred to as the “father” of that custom. Thus, Jubal was called” the father of all such as handle the harp and organ” because he invented those instruments.
From an early age we are taught to respect the belongings of others even if our size and strength make it possible to take them by force. In order to understand the actions of the people of the ancient Near East, we need to make a major adjustment in this thinking. Within the cultural construct of this world, the expectation was that those who were victorious in battle had the right to seize the personal property of those defeated and even enslave the owners of that property. This practice of plundering is mentioned repeatedly in the literature of the ancient world peatedly in the literature of the ancient world and illustrated in the art of the empires that rose to power during the Old Testament era.
To be superior to “all the gods of Egypt” was quite a claim, since the Egyptians are known to have worshiped more than thirty pagan deities. These included the bull god Apis, who ensured fertility; Hathor, the goddess of love; and Thoth, the god of wisdom and books. Continue reading ALL THE GODS OF EGYPT→
Pharaoh dreamed that seven skinny cows gobbled up seven fat cows along the Nile River. Many people in Bible times believed that dreams carried hidden messages, so he called on the magicians of the land to tell him the meaning of his dream. Continue reading EGYPTIAN MAGICIANS→
In the process of baking bread, leaven or yeast was added to the dough to cause it to rise. Thus, Jesus was saying that the kingdom of God had a power out of proportion to its size that caused it to permeate and influence all of society. Continue reading THE POWER OF LEAVEN→
One scholar recently uncovered controversial evidence suggesting that the ancient Egyptians produced written sheet music during the same centuries as the building of the mighty Sphinx, about 4500 years ago. Maureen M. Barwise claims to have deciphered musical hieroglyphs that date back as far as the fourth dynasty of the old kingdom, roughly 2600 B.C. Continue reading MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE BIBLE (THE WOLD’S OLDEST SHEET MUSIC?)→
The Bible most often portrays the land of Egypt as the crucible in which the nation of Israel was forged. But Egypt played an important role earlier, in the lives of Abraham as well as his great-grandson Joseph. Abraham found shelter there during a famine but left in disgrace after lying to the Pharaoh about Sarai (Gen 12:10-20). Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt and became not only a great blessing to the nation, but also the means by which the rest of his family was kept safe during another devastating famine (Gen 37-46). Eventually Egypt enslaved the young nation and treated them mercilessly for four hundred years. Continue reading SIGNS & SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (EGYPT)→