A Jewish Rabbi Challenges Whether Ancient History Supports The Biblical Account Of The Exodus And Why Blacks In America Should Be Interested In The Controversy (Part 2)
Last week, we quoted the following comment from Rabbi David Wolpe, broadcast on a National Public Radio (NPR) program "The truth is that virtually every modern archaeologist who has investigated this story of the Exodus, with very few exceptions, agrees that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way it happened, if it happened at all."
Also, during the program, the following statement was made by one of the NPR commentators:
"The story of the Exodus, the biblical account of the flight of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt, is a central pillar of the Jewish faith. But for more than a hundred years, archaeologists have searched for evidence of the great journey to the Promised Land and have come up empty-handed."
And, last week, we ended this space with a question?:
Why haven't the theologians, scholars, Rabbis, Priests, Reverends and Imams openly discussed the possibility that it is Blacks in America whose 400 plus year experience in America fulfills what is written of in the Book of Exodus?
It has always been interesting to us, to observe the manner in which Blacks, primarily Christians, are "steered" away from the Old Testament. The "steering" process, in our view, is part of a larger effort, well beyond the work of the Black Pastor, to deny Blacks access to the proper interpretation of the Torah and prophetic writings, contained within the 39 books of what is called the "Old Testament"; which would allow Blacks to see the more than coincidental correspondence between the history that they and their ancestors have lived in Africa and America, and the deep connection and importance that history has to the Supreme Being, also referred to as God, Jehovah and Allah.
It is no understatement to say that what is written in Genesis 15: 13-14 is central or at the core of the entire Biblical storyline or narrative. It can even easily be shown that what is written in Genesis 15:13-14 is also at the center of numerous narratives and sections of the Holy Qur'an – even the entire book.
But as most Blacks in the United States nominally, at least, describe themselves as Christians, we will place most of our emphasis on them and their perspective, which focuses on the Bible.
It has been our experience, roughly speaking, in 7 to 8 times out of 10, that most Black Christians (non-Pastors) that we have met are totally unaware of what is written in Genesis 15:13-14. This has been true, in our experience, with not all, but certainly most of the Black Christians that we have spoken to in various parts of this country – the United States of America who say that they believe in the Bible. Out of that number of roughly 7 to 8 of 10 Black Christians, we find that the overwhelming majority of those individuals do not see any connection between themselves and what is written in those verses.
What is way down at the root of the general ignorance that most Black Christians have of what is written in Genesis 15: 13-14 or Joel: 3 1-7? And furthermore, what is way down at the root of the Black Christian's inability to see any connection between the history that they and their ancestors have lived in Africa and America and the Bible in general? Lastly, what is it about what Black Christians are taught to believe in reference to the description of the mission of the Messiah, Jesus Christ and the Prophets of God, written of in the Old and New Testament, that seems to be so incompatible with the struggle and efforts to liberate Blacks and the indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere, in Africa and around the world? Specifically, what is it about what Blacks are taught in Church that leaves them thinking and feeling that there is largely or absolutely no connection between what is written in Genesis 15: 13-14; Joel 3: 1-7 and the entire book of Exodus, for example, and what they have experienced over the last 500 years, in particular?
Certainly, part of the answer to these questions would have to be the fact that nominal White Christians, for over 300 years, made and kept Blacks illiterate and prevented them, even those who were made "Christians", from reading the Bible. The evidence of this is available in the public, in libraries throughout the country and in abundant supply.
Here, from the New Living Translation is Genesis 15: 13-14
Genesis 15: 13-14
13 "Then the LORD told Abram, ' You can be sure that your descendants will be oppressed as slaves for four hundred years.
14 But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come out away with great wealth…'
In the year 2001, it should be easy for most Black people, if reasonable and aware of enough facts, to admit and recognize that Black preachers did not form their ideas regarding the meaning of the Bible on their own. It is a fact, to this day, that what is most frequently referred to as the Black Church, operates from a theological base that was provided for them by the White Christian Church. That base has not changed much since the end of slavery. Among many other things, the interpretation of the scriptures – the Old and New Testament, is the major part of the theological base on which Black preachers stand and out of which they teach their congregations. Although not the most visible or popular of subjects on Sundays, most Black preachers do teach, several times during the year – directly or tangentially – that what is written of in Genesis 15:13-14 and the book of Exodus, in particular, occurred 4,000 years ago. Secondly, and less vocally, they teach that the people today, in the land known as Israel, are the direct descendants of those people who the Black preacher says, served as slaves in Egypt for 400 years - 4,000 years ago. The vast majority of Black preachers, teach this on Sundays, in churches filled with Black people, throughout the United States of America.
There are White Christians, like Rev. Pat Robertson and those who regularly appear on the popular show, The 700 Club, who state the above, more forcefully and repeatedly. There is no ambiguity about the manner in which the most popular of White Christian evangelicals teach that Jews of 4,000 years ago served for 400 years in bondage, in Egypt. They at times, even more overtly than the Black Pastor, state that the state of Israel was established by God's command and that the people who populate that nation are the direct descendants of those who are said to have been enslaved 4,000 years ago. Pat Robertson and others ask and enthusiastically encourage the viewers of the 700 Club to support the state of Israel on the grounds that the nation is backed by God and that its inhabitants are God's chosen people. They often refer to the Jews in Israel as "God's elect" or "the people of God". Some of those 700 Club viewers are sincere Black Christians.
Programs like The 700 Club are part of what influences or justifies the United States of America's multi-billion support, in the form of government aid, of Israel. On the other hand, little to nothing is said of the fact that Israel receives more aid from the United States government than all of Africa combined. At the base of the lobbying efforts that seek to maintain or increase the amount of aid given to Israel by the United States is the belief held most visibly by White evangelicals that the Jews are God's chosen people and that they must be protected by their Christian brothers.
Beyond the confines of the 700 Club, many Black Preachers make similar arguments and speak and write that the most critical and significant of Biblical prophecies have been and are being fulfilled in what is called Israel. They also stress that the Jesus Christ that Black Christians believe in and expect to return will claim the Jewish people as His own when he returns, they believe and teach.
They say that Jesus Christ identifies with the suffering of the Jewish people above and beyond that of any other people in the world. Many Black Preachers teach that Jesus was rejected by Jews in his first coming but will be received and accepted by them on His second coming to them, in that part of the world that was once called popularly called Palestine. We have heard Black preachers openly state that the Jews will receive more mercy from God than any other people on earth – because they are His people.
Regardless to what the differences in presentation may be, the overwhelming majority of Black Pastors publicly teach that there is the deepest of connections between Jesus Christ, God, the Jews in Israel and what is written of in Genesis 15: 13-14 and the book of Exodus.
Again, why do they not see the same between Jesus Christ, God, Blacks in America and what is written of in Genesis 15:13-14 and the book of Exodus? Why don't they see what is written in the Torah as instructive to Black people in this country?
In the 20th century, the most public, prominent and consistent of national Black leaders to teach in the opposite direction of that of the Black Pastor was the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. He did not receive his theological base from the White Christian Church and he did not receive what he publicly taught from any theological seminary that existed or exists today in the United States of America.
Among many other statements, here are a few from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad contained within his public teachings and writings in reference to the relationship between Black people and what is written in Genesis 15: 13-14 and the book of Exodus:
From page 20 in Message to The Blackman:
"…There are no historical records that there was ever a people lost from each other than we, the so-called Negroes. We have been so long separated from each other that we have lost the knowledge of each other."
From page 137 of Message To The Blackman
"…the so-called Negroes are blinded with a picture of the Jews' salvation and cannot see their own selves in prophecy".
From pg. 38 of Message To The Blackman:
" …The prophecy – 400 years of slavery – as to the time the so-called Negroes must return to their own. The separation would be a blessing for both sides. It was the only solution, according to the Bible, for Israel and the Egyptians. It will prove to be the only solution for America and her slaves."
From pg. 206 of Message To The Blackman
"The white man in America is like Pharaoh in Egypt. He, the modern Pharaoh, is trying to control the 22 million so-called American Negroes as Pharaoh did the Israelites in Egypt. The white man's control over the so-called Negro makes them helpless in trying to follow Allah and His servant into a land they call their own and where they can rule themselves as other nations are doing".
From pg.66 of "Message To The Blackman"
"The people of Allah (so-called Negroes) are dumb to the time as the people were in the days when Moses was sent to Pharaoh to bring his people out of bondage into a land wherein they could enjoy independence. Instead of the Israelites being joyful to hear that Allah was ready to deliver them from Pharaoh and give them land of their own, they set out to contend with Moses and to help Pharaoh not God (Jehovah).
The government of Pharaoh had no love for Israel, just as America has no love for the so-called Negroes. Pharaoh became afraid of the truth that Moses was teaching his people in the midst of his country.
So Pharaoh began to plan the death of Moses and the future of Israel by killing off the babies. Pharaoh wanted Moses put to death because he was teaching his people the truth of Pharaoh and his government of wickedness. Today, America is afraid of the power our great number presents. She fears that if we ever unite we would, overnight become independent.
America desires to keep us a subjected people. So she, therefore, wants to stop our birth (as Pharaoh did)."
From pg. 12 of The Fall Of America:
"Now my beloved, you are faced with same problem that beset Moses and the children of Israel during the era of the Egyptian captivity.
Pharaoh did not want Moses to preach the religion of Jehovah in Egypt because he knew such preaching would bring damnation to his wicked kingdom. So it is that your oppressors did not want you to hear the gospel of the Black man, they know that this gospel will one day be their undoing.
Pharaoh did not want Moses to call the Jews to the wall to wail at sundown. He knew that once the Jews were united in the name of the religion of their fathers they would no longer abide in slavery with a docile air.
Pharaoh did not want Moses to teach the gospel of justice this side of the grave. He knew that once the Jews determined in their hearts to seek justice here and now they would rise up and demand a place in the sun.
So, then, it is with us. Our oppressors are determined to keep our eyes in the sky while they control the land under our feet. They are determined to bog us down in an impractical ethic of turning the other cheek the better that they may smite our cheeks and rob our pockets.
We must not be deceived by the rush toward integration that has become the theme of the past few years. Just as the Romans were to beware of slavemasters bearing integration. Why, I ask you, after four hundred years of murder, rape and slavery, do our oppressors now come waving the olive branch of integration? Is it that they really love us; is it that they are sincerely sorry for their sins and seek restitution? If they love us, then why was there no evidence of this love in the hearts of their forefathers when they sold our forefathers like cattle on the auction block? If they are really seeking to atone, then why do they not offer us some measure of restitution – an area of this country we can call our own – to the sons and daughters of the embattled?
They are not come to this hour because they love us nor is integration a sign that they are sorry for their sins. The blunt fact is, our oppressors see fire coming. They see the handwriting on the wall and know what it means."
It was and still is interesting to see Black Christian Preachers, White Christian Evangelicals and especially Jewish Rabbis state that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught "hate" because he advocated separation. Interesting and peculiar, we think, in light of the fact that it was separation from Egypt that Jehovah commanded Moses to advocate.
It was especially striking to see that Dr. Martin Luther King was referred to as a "modern Moses" by many inside and outside the Black community. Striking because Dr. King advocated integration and not separation like Moses did, according to the book of Exodus, among other places in the Torah. It is even more interesting when these same individuals did not complete the critique or analogy by comparing the United States of America to Egypt. You can't have a modern Moses without modern slaves. You can't have a modern Moses without a modern Egypt. You also can't have a modern Moses without a modern Aaron.
Are theologians, priests, rabbis and pastors involved (to varying levels) in a massive deception where Blacks and Genesis 15:13-14 and the book of Exodus are concerned?
Even if Rabbi David Wolpe is incorrect, and what is written in the book of Exodus did in fact occur, 4,000 years ago, why haven't religious leaders, especially Jewish Rabbis, recommended to Black leaders, the solution to their slavery problem that worked for them, according to the book of Exodus?
What is so different about the slave experience of Blacks in America from what is written in Exodus that would not warrant that Black leaders receive such advice and assistance from Jewish Rabbis who say they are interested and concern with the plight of Blacks in this country?
Finally, what would it take for Black Preachers to openly preach that Blacks in America fulfill what is written in Genesis 15: 13-14 and the book of Exodus? How would White Christian evangelicals and Jewish Rabbis react, if the Black Pastors, as one man, were to do so?
Sunday, July 29, 2001