Cahill has a truly wonderful way of writing that is engaging, sometimes humorous and deeply thought-provoking. He re-tells the early history of the Jews (ie the first books of the Bible) in a way that takes the reader right into the realities of life then - and the impact of that civilisation now.
I am struck by this quote as he re-tells the story of Pharaoh's attempt to reduce the number of Israelites by telling the midwives to kill the boy babies.
"And why must we think of Pharaoh as rational? Have we not been given evidence that he is irrational - that he thinks the Children of Israel are 'many more and mightier' than the Egyptians? It is perhaps only in Pharaoh's eyes that the Children of Israel "swarm" as if they were breeding insects?...
I do not doubt that what we have here is the portrayal - in a few deft strokes - of an insecure Egyptian madman, an all-powerful god-king who fears that someone else could be more powerful than he."
Then a few pages later Cahill has re-told the story of Moses repeatedly asking Pharaoh to let the Israelites go - and the ensuing plagues as Pharaoh keeps changing his mind saying yes and then no.
"The comedy in this narrative lies in the ironic juxtaposition: Pharaoh, supposedly all-powerful, understands nothing. It would not be too much to say that this narrative asserts that power (because it is a feckless attempt to usurp God's dominion) makes you stupid, blinding you to your true situation - and absolute power makes you absolutely stupid."
I leave you to see why I have called this post "History repeats itself."
In spite of the horror of these events for those who were living through them, I find hope in the fact that as the story unfolds, it is God's redemptive power that directs what happens next.