I’ve been reading through Exodus. It’s a pretty epic story. I’ve always liked Moses. I loved the animated movie The Prince of Egypt as a kid. And I would plead with my parents to let me stay up to watch The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston when it would be on television near Passover. (IMDB says that Heston was not only Moses in that movie, he was also the voice of God. What a man.)
What’s not to like about Moses’s story? It’s got everything you could want. An evil king. A strong male lead. Magic. A chase scene. A few fight scenes. Blood. A burning bush. And snakes. That’s pretty cool.
Except Moses was nothing like Charlton Heston. He was a man who had been raised as royalty who one day found out he was actually a slave. And that did not create a sense of justice in him. It scared him. He fled Egypt because he was scared. And then when God talked to him in the burning bush, Moses was scared again.
He argued with God. He said, “I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue” (Exodus 4:10). Moses was not a natural born leader. He wasn’t witty. He wasn’t popular at cocktail parties. He didn’t always have the right thing to say.
But God reassured him and told him that He would use Moses’s brother Aaron as a mouthpiece. And then Moses and Aaron go to Pharaoh and demand that the Israelites be let go. And he says no and forces the Israelites to make bricks without straw. Moses and Aaron are defeated.
The people of Israel turn on Moses and Aaron. And Moses calls out to God “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all” (Exodus 5:22-3).
Then, two things happen. First, God gives Moses and Aaron a pep talk. I’m pretty sure all sports movies are modeled after the book of Exodus. Underdogs train hard. Underdogs are unsuccessful at first. Coach gives an amazing monologue type speech. Cue musical montage to a classic rock song featuring the Egyptians falling prey to the plagues.
Second, the author of Exodus (probably Moses?) stops narration to give a genealogy of Moses and Aaron. At first, it feels like really bad story-telling. It disrupts the flow of narrative; it doesn’t feel entirely relevant; and it’s hard to read.
I started thinking about it, though. Who has genealogies? Kings. Royalty. Important people. No one cares about a slave’s genealogy. Slaves hardly have names.
I think, often, I’m a little bit like Moses, pre-success. I’m angry that God has asked me to do something that doesn’t make immediate sense to me. I think that people are more important than me. I rarely stop to ponder my own identity, my own name, my own genealogy. And so I start thinking of myself as a bit player in someone else’s life.
There are no bit players. In God’s story, we all deserve genealogies.