Was The Pharoah Racist?

So why did the Pharoah of the Exodus hate the Jews?

1:8 Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. 9 “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”

It is not unknown for minorities to side with outside powers against the majority.

It seems to me that the Pharoah saw that Egyptians and Israelites had different interests and that as the Jews gained in power, Egyptians lost power. His attitude to the Jews was like that of Bismark to the Poles in 1860.

As John J. Mearsheimer wrote in his classic, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics:

Great powers that have no reason to fight each other—that are merely concerned with their own survival—nevertheless have little choice but to pursue power and to seek to dominate the other states in the system. This dilemma is captured in brutally frank comments that Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck made during the early 1860s, when it appeared that Poland, which was not an independent state at the time, might regain its sovereignty. “Restoring the Kingdom of Poland in any shape or form is tantamount to creating an ally for any enemy that chooses to attack us,” he believed, and therefore he advocated that Prussia should “smash those Poles till, losing all hope, they lie down and die; I have every sympathy for their situation, but if we wish to survive we have no choice but to wipe them out.”

Exodus 1: 19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

According to Dennis Prager’s new Exodus commentary, Pharoah was racist:

Ilana Pardes, professor of Comparative Literature at the Hebrew University, noted the words translated here as “they are vigorous” (ki chayyot hei-nah) also mean “they are animals.” In this instance, the latter translation makes more sense. The midwives understand Pharaoh, like most slave-owners, had a racist view of the enslaved people, and was therefore willing to believe the Hebrews were like animals. So he was readily convinced that, unlike the refined women of Egypt, the Hebrew women—like animals—could give birth without requiring assistance. Ironically, it was Pharaoh’s racism that enabled him to accept as true the lie the midwives told him.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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