Hard Topic: The Exodus Movie

Alright friends, you’ve asked for it and I shall deliver. I just got home from seeing The Exodus.
Lets first be honest, I have yet to see Hollywood deliver a good Biblical movie. Only exception may be The Passion of the Christ. That being said, I think The Exodus is a fantastic movie with fanciful let-downs. I’ll explain in just a second. Firstly, let’s cover what I liked about this movie. I’ll do this in bullet points so you can follow my thinking.

·      The cinematography and depiction of ancient Egypt is possibly the best depiction I’ve ever seen. Being an O.T. PhD student, I constantly watch documentaries and archeology and hypothetical movies on the ancient near east. None depict the true grandeur and beauty of Egypt quite like The Exodus.
·      The directors portrayed and explained aspects to the story that modern Pentateuch specialists have proposed in the last hundred or so years.
o   Moses probably did help to wage war against other invading armies. Growing up as a son of pharaoh, Moses would have fought right next to his brother Ramses once they were of age.
o   Moses probably was raised as an Egyptian, not knowing the reality of his Hebrew bloodline. Due to this lack of knowledge, Moses probably had an emotional struggle once he learned of this reality, because it flew in the face of everything he had been taught in Memphis. Furthermore, there would have been a struggle within Pharaoh’s house once this truth was known.
o   Moses probably had a relationship with the Lord that included; frustration, joy, pleasure, grief, silence, yelling and hope. Throughout the movie the directors apply show all of these stages in Moses’ relationship with the Lord. In Sunday school we are taught that Moses suddenly became a “good boy” and did everything God told him, without complaining. This type of a relationship, regardless how many times we’re told such, does not exist. Rather we see instances of prophets, judges, and kings struggling to obey or talk with the Lord. As my wife said, this aspect is the most refreshing aspect in the whole portrayal of the Exodus because it makes our relationship with the Lord ok. Face it, we as modern believers have the same rollercoaster of silence, yelling, and many more stages that the O.T. men and women encountered.
o   Moses during his time to and from Midian would have learned the safe means of travel, tricks of trading with the Bedouins, and  means of supplying one self with water from slate (rock). Upon preparation to leave from Egypt, the people asked Moses how he knew the way, and how to provide, he pulled out a map and testified to his life lived in the dessert. (A side note – Moses ran from his calling, fled to Midian, and it was this time of “rebellion” that the Lord utilized to prepare him for the chance to lead his people. Often we know what we are to do, but run form it. Don’t be surprised if the Lord utilizes what you learn in rebellion for the betterment of the Church.
o   Another point of new research utilized in the movie, the portrayal of the plagues. While I disagree with how they portrayed the first plague (water of the Nile being like blood). I loved the fact that one of the Pharaoh’s confidants informed him of how the progression makes sense. When I teach this section of the O.T. in college I often say, “the first 9 plagues aren’t miracles in and of themselves, the fact that they happened when Moses told Pharaoh they would happen is.”
A quick rundown of my understanding of the new research. 1 The Nile in history has been flooded with a high concentration of sulfur, which turns the river into red water. 2 This results in  frogs leaving the water, and 5 livestock getting extremely sick / dying. 3 When the frogs leave the water and die because they can’t go back to the fresh Nile this brings gnats and flies. 6 With the coming of gnats / flies and dying / diseased livestock people would catch illnesses which often resulted in allergic reactions such as boils. – From this point the plagues deviate from the results of the Nile’s sulfur content, although still a common occurrence around the world – 7 Thunder and hail 8 Locusts 9 Darkness (probably caused by an eclipse) –
I highlight the above research because in The Exodus Moses makes the point to God that Pharaoh isn’t stunned. The reasoning is very obvious for a learned Old Testament student, Pharaoh had probably seen or heard of such occurrences before. 10th plague - Thus God’s use of the death angel and the death of the first-born child.
o   Last point of new research that was utilized in the movie. Though the scene was short it was correct. Moses chiseled the Ten Commandments onto 2 tablets that were probably the size of legal notepaper. Contrary to Sunday school, both tablets had all Ten Commandments on them because it was a “Suzerain Vassal Covenant.” If you are unclear of that term please Google it, there’s already great explanations. Secondly, why are we taught that God wrote the commandments in Exodus? They aren’t any different from the rest of Scripture, therefore God did indeed inspire and in this case directly verbalize what to write, but it was Moses who wrote it.
If you read my review of the movie Noah then you’re probably waiting for me to tear into The Exodus for problems. Honestly, I have an extremely short list of complaints, though theologically pertinent.
1.     This is a pet-peeve of mine. Egyptians didn’t have hair because they shaved it all off. Egypt was the grain capital of the world, or as I call it in my O.T. classes –Wallmart. With grain and grain storage comes the problem of mice. With Mice comes Lice. With lice comes disease and death. Hence Egyptians always were clean shaved. Don’t believe me? Look at all the hieroglyphs of Egyptian cultures. They were all bald and used linen to make wigs. However, as you watch the movie the first thing that rubbed me wrong was a man sitting in Pharaoh’s court with hair, Moses.
2.     Moses had some kind of speech problem, because Aaron had to be his voice. In the movie Christian Bale who is portraying Moses has many eloquent speeches. Although Aaron and Joshua are characters, they are more akin to squires than aids such as seen in the book of Exodus. (Exodus 4:30)
3.     Moses had direct contact with Pharaoh, multiple times. Yet, the Movie only shows one of those times, and Moses does not utter the important words, “I Am” sent me… (Exodus 3:14)
4.     Moses was not a war hungry many when he returned from Midian. Is it possible? Yes, but Scripture states that Moses left Midian and went directly to relay God’s message to Pharaoh.  (5:1)
5.     Moses took his wife and son back to Egypt with him. In the movie there is an internal struggle which shouldn’t have been there, due to the fact that His wife and Son were with him the whole time. (Exodus 4:20)

6.     Last problem worthy of noting: The Timelines in the movie were all off. So much so that when Moses (Christian Bale) returns to Egypt he’s still young. Scripture however clearly states Moses was 80 when he confronted Pharaoh. (Exodus 7:6)

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