Last night my daughter put in the dvd of the animated "The Prince of Egypt." It's the story of Moses as God used him to liberate Israel from the oppression of Pharaoh. As we began, I had in the back of my mind Cecil B. DeMille's "Exodus" with Charlton Heston. The grandeur of that production with Heston's portrayal of a larger-than-life, and somewhat other-worldly Moses stood out in my mind. However, the animated production took a very different view of Moses and his relationship with just about everyone. His relationship with Pharaoh was especially interesting. While deMille developed the enmity between the two men, the folks at DreamWorks allowed a more human Moses to arise from the story. Yes, he still kills a guy and runs off to the desert. Yes, he met Jethro and Zipporah in Midian. And, of course, he met God at the burning bush.( I was surprised at how closely DreamWorks kept this particular encounter to the actual text.) Anyway, Moses went back to his tent, without the added gray hair that Heston sported, and had to convince his wife that he needed to go back to Egypt. For anyone who is married, this was an accurate portrayal.
Moses returned and was welcomed by Pharaoh at first. Then began the signs of God's judgement on Egypt and its gods. I could see the Pharaoh being changed. At first somewhat surprised and incredulous with Moses, he became more and more hardened and angry. Even before the last plague, though, he still tried to woo Moses back into Egypt's good graces. In the end, however, the angel of God swept through Egypt killing the first born. As Pharaoh's son lay dead, Moses came to Pharaoh and was told that the people were free to go. Rather than say "I told you so," the storytellers showed Moses leaving Pharaoh and breaking down to weep. Wow! Even though God had judged Egypt harshly, there was no joy in the deaths of so many. Even later in the story at the Red Sea, I caught some of the ethos of sadness when the army of Pharaoh was destroyed. Although the Israelites were free, and there was joy for that, the loss of so many sons of Egypt was not something to gloat about. These men had fathers, mothers, children, wives, friends and lovers who were left bereft. The parents of the lost first borns were devastated. I truly believe that God was deeply grieved by what happened. Lives were snuffed out in an instant throughout Egypt. First born; warriors. Beloved children; brothers. Not a time to rejoice, but to reflect on the effect that our own pride, arrogance and stubborness can have on us...and others.