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Post-PesaH Hagada Musings

What led the new Pharaoh in Egypt to suspect that the Jews would side with Egypt’s enemies in the event of war? It sounds more fear-based than a utility-based motivation for enslaving the Jews. (The allegation that they would side with an opposing army and then leave the country appears counterintuitive, why would they leave the country after risking their lives by siding with an opposing army? (I posit that it was a way of highlighting their extreme disloyalty and infidelity to Egypt: they not only would side with the opposing army, but they would then leave, as they would side with the opposing army out of spite, not even intending or caring to stay. Sounds like pure evil! Bad for bad sake, with no utility.)

I posit that the pharaoh, who may have indeed been new in some manner – a new Dynasty or just a new approach – feared the Jews separate identity and free spirit as a threat to his rule. Free thinking, God fearing people are always a threat to a totalitarian monarch. Remember, the midrash states that Pharaoh would bathe in the Nile in the morning to defecate so no one would know, because he held himself out as a god. With such a self image there can be no doubt that absolute power and absolute authority was vital to him.

Having a sizable, stiff-necked, God fearing (i.e., not Pharaoh fearing) population that was growing rapidly was an obvious threat to his totalitarian control. So, enslaving them was more of a strategy to control and subjugate them, than to obtain the benefit of their slave labor. After all, if slave labor was the goal, then why implement an edict to murder all of the male born children – the most valuable unit of labor. Such a strategy would undermine the goal of having a slave population to provide free labor.

Rather, it appears to me that the goal was to subjugate, control, and contain this discreet, recognizable population whose primary loyalties lay elsewhere: with the God of their fathers. One cannot serve God wholeheartedly and be loyal and obedient to Pharaoh at the same time.

That is why in the Hagada we specifically point out in connection with our Redemption from slavery in Egypt that in every generation the power structure stands up against us to annihilate us. Any free thinking, God-fearing, God loyalists serve as a threat to the human power structure or government of the host population.

submitted by /u/AAbulafia
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Source: Reditt

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