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Anonymous (7)

Author of Exodus (Penguin Epics)

For other authors named Anonymous, see the disambiguation page.

47 Works 234 Members 3 Reviews

Works by Anonymous

Exodus (Penguin Epics) (2006) 43 copies
Orthodox Daily Prayers (2011) 18 copies
Bible Stories (2011) 3 copies
Bibeln 1 copy
BIBLE STORIES BOOK 1 (1918) 1 copy


Common Knowledge




This guide is designed to bring Scripture closer to your own life than ever before. No other Bible does so much to translate not only the words, but the context and culture, in contemporary terms.
phoovermt | Mar 23, 2023 |
5 stars for the Holy Bible. 4 stars for the Kindle edition. WEB (World English Version) is a public domain version based on the American Standard Version. I'd prefer the New American Standard but the publisher was limited to public domain works and this is adequate for my portable version needs. Many (most?) of the Kindle Bibles are very difficult to navigate since you typically jump around, from verse to verse, rather than read from front to back. The OSNOVA Direct Verse Jump function makes navigating fairly easy. Kindle has it's own limitations: heavy note taking is cumbersome and no color coding is possible. Nothing compares to a print version for marking and margin notes but this publisher takes it as far as a Kindle version can go.… (more)
devone | Jun 23, 2012 |
Exodus is the boldest inclusion within the Penguin Epics collection. It is a prose version of the story from the Book of Exodus and tells the story of Moses leading the Israelites from Egypt. What makes it bold within the collection is that the inclusion places it as one of a series of ancient narratives and in this context it reads very differently to the context it is normally set in. As a religious script, Exodus has literal meaning to those who believe. As a narrative tale within a set of ancient stories, it seems to have a much more fascinating interpretation as part of the Jewish national epic and there is so much more alive between the lines.

The story of Exodus is so well known apparently that the publishers chose not to provide any descriptive context to explain unlike with other books in the series. The basic story is that the Jews have been kept as slaves by the Egyptians but break free thanks to God bringing plagues to Egypt and they are led to a new land by Moses and his brother Aaron.

Even that basic description brings up a fascinating set of interpretations when read narratively. Judaism is an ancient belief system but one that had no real following outside of its core adherents in a world where polytheism was dominant despite the occasional Egyptian dalliance in monotheism. The polytheists in other ancient tales clearly see their gods as being powerful but limited by one another and able to shape rather than always determine outcomes. The God of Exodus is different. This God is the all-powerful creator and by definition this God takes responsibility for outcomes not just direction.

Where this religious interpretation becomes stark is that the God of the Jews is exceptionally vengeful. The Egyptians pay a dear price for their long enslavement of the Jews by way of the Plagues of Egypt. The early Plagues are annoyances like frogs or infrastructure damaging like locusts. They get much worse though with the final Plague - the one that kills the firstborn sons except those (the Jews) who are passed over. Now, this could quite easily be read as being rightful vengeance against a sinful people but the tale makes explicit point time and again that the God of the Jews is all-powerful and it is this God that is determining the actions of the Egyptian Pharoah. The text explicitly says that the Lord is the one who has hardened Pharoah's heart to not let the Jewish people go. After each Plague, Pharoah pleads with Moses for salvation and is given redemption but it is God who changes Pharoah's mind each time to stop the Jews being set free. This is a cruel God but an all-powerful one must be responsible for everything so the internal logic is fine even if to a non-believer the Egyptians seem to deserve a significant amount of sympathy to be punished so harshly for the decisions of their ruler who himself was not acting of his own free will.

The Plagues of Egypt seem to be a realistic set of disasters that would accompany environmental and subsequent societal collapse. It would make sense for an oppressed group to have found this to be their opportunity to strike when their oppressor was weak. Reading this between the lines because that is how the rise and fall of civilisations throughout the ages has often occurred, the character of Moses is far more intriguing than the mythical voice of the Commandments.

Moses escapes Egyptian control very early on (presumably in a Moses Basket) but he is still in the area to be called on when the time is right. In this role, Moses is the totemic leader but what is surprising is that it is his "brother" Aaron who seems to be the one in control. Aaron is the voice and he seems to be the real leader where Moses is the figurehead. Perhaps Moses is just too old - it isn't clear. Moses has a moment of internal weakness which is resolved when he remembers that Aaron is a great public speaker. Another interpretation would be that Aaron has found the figurehead Moses and the two of them agree that Moses is the inspiration but that Aaron is the director.

This interpretation is strengthened by the roles that the two take on late in Exodus. It is Moses who goes up Mount Sinai and who receives the Commandments from God but part of the instruction is that Aaron and Aaron's sons are the Priests. This conveys two implicit meanings - firstly that there is a clearly demarcated inheritence of birthright to the Priest role - secondly that Aaron and Aaron's sons are the ones meant to lead the Israelites. In a new and explicitly theocratic society where there is no King it is inevitably the Priest who takes on the mantle of leader which means that God's will is that Aaron is in charge of the Jews.

There is a very shocking moment when Aaron and Moses assert their authority. It is so shocking that outside of the religious context it can only be read in one way - there was a massacre of dissidents. The Jews have been led into the Sinai as that is the quickest way out of Egypt but it is a desert. There are a few mentions of some members of the party questioning the decision to leave Egypt and head into such a desolate and death-inducing place. There is a section that seems to be missing something because it doesn't quite make sense and what follows is the shocking moment. The section that seems to be missing is between Aaron explaining to Moses why some people are partying in a clearly inappropriate manner to them becoming naked and shamed for their actions. The narrative puts this partying and shame down to those people considering themselves to be gods and therefore being blasphemous towards the God of the Jews. It doesn't really make any sense. They are then killed. Moses says that God has told him that the righteous must "slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour."

Reading this as a national epic rather than religious scripture, there is a very clear interpretation that Moses and Aaron have put down a rebellion. Levi and his sons are the force that actually do it but after a long trek and with hope diminishing, a rebellion would be natural as Moses appears to be the sole conduit of God's will. If a massacre did take place it is shocking - but fascinating.

Assuming that this is what the text means, earlier elements also make similar sense. For some reason God caused the Egyptians to be very generous to the Jews when they were leaving Israel as they chose to give the Jews lots of gold and jewellery. A more likely explanation seems to be that a large gathering of people including some with arms had to feed themselves somehow and it would also be a near unprecedented movement of people had they chosen not to take some loot with them as they passed through inhabited areas.

The narrative also has a hard to explain obsession with unleavened bread. The term crops up time and again and is presumably supposed to signify the humility of those who will eat bread that has not been softened and flavoured. This makes sense. So to would an interpretation that the leavening agents might have been part of the problem that Egypt faced. In a time of plagues and where scientific explanations from elsewhere about possible causes of those plagues seem to make sense, perhaps the meaning is not just about humility but about the survival of these people by not eating a product that had some infection or disease as has cropped up occasionally in more recent history. As part of a national epic rather than a religious text this would make sense.

What makes a little less sense is the incredible level of micromanagement God gets into very late in the text. The rituals, clothing, and building that God requires are set fo an incredible level of specificity. It is actually quite boring to read the long list of preparations that are needed. This is something of a shame because some of these preparations lead to the description of the Ark of the Covenenant.

The Ark of course contains the tablets that result from the conversation between God and Moses at Mount Sinai. The traditional list of Ten Commandments does no justice at all to the description as found in this narrative. The description is so much more detailed and describes a basic system of justice. The death penalty is very widely applied for all manner of misdemeanours but as a rudimentary system of justice that describes the interaction between people (including slaves) and their chattel including livestock, it is essentially a description of the rules under which the society will be governed. That slavery is perfectly natural is itself a fascinating part of God's plan but the commandments as traditionall retold in the form of a general moral code are much less interesting than the laws of Jewish society that God through Moses and Aaron lays down - it even describes rules for crop rotation.

Exodus is fascinating. In the religious context, it has a specific set of meanings that would make perfect sense to adherents. In the context provided here, it is an eye-opening insight into a people who threw off the shackles of oppression, survived an extended period of suffering in the Sinai Desert and then went on to drive out weaker tribes and forge a new homeland of their own. This is truly an epic. Fascinating.
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1 vote
Malarchy | Dec 28, 2010 |

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