Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Remember the Children of Israel
8:59am Tuesday 24th April 2012 in Faith Matters
Three-and-a-half thousand years ago, Joseph came to Egypt. He married and his family grew and became known as Hebrews. Unfortunately, the king of Egypt treated them as slaves and persecuted them. Some people think that they helped to build the Pyramids Pharaoh was frightened that the Hebrews would become so numerous that they would swamp the local population, so he decided that every male baby had to be killed. One such baby, Moses, was saved and secretly brought up by the Pharaoh daughter, who found him floating in the river Nile in a basket and took pity on him.
He grew up in the royal court and when he was a young man decided that he did not like the Hebrews being so maltreated. Eventually he managed to persuade Pharaoh to allow the Hebrews to leave. It had not been easy as every time he had persuaded Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go, at the last minute he changed his mind.
With the help of God, Moses had let loose ten plagues on the Egyptians – grasshoppers, rivers turning into blood, cattle getting dreadful sores – until Pharaoh finally relented. Moses had kept saying to him: “Let my people go,” which has become a catchphrase in literature, and also a spiritual song.
When Pharaoh agreed to release the people, Moses told the Hebrews to prepare to leave. They were in such a hurry to go that the bread they were baking had not yet had time to rise. The anniversary of this momentous event is called Pessach, when the Jews eat bread that has not risen to remind them of the time when they were slaves in Egypt and overnight became free people, calling themselves the ‘Children of Israel’.
This idea of being free as opposed to being slaves is of great importance to Jews who know only too well what it is like to be persecuted. It is now only 70 years ago that Jews were pitifully persecuted in the Holocaust.
Pessach occurs this year on April 7. The night before, families gather and tell again the story of the Exodus to remember that once the Jews were slaves but they are now free. ‘Exodus’ means the leaving from Egypt of the Children of Israel.
* Tomorrow is the first day of Holy Week, when Christians recall the last week of Jesus’ earthly human life. Palm Sunday celebrates his triumphal entry into Jerusalem; the Last Supper is commemorated on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus.
* Hanuman Jayanti, Hindus’ festival for the birth of Hanuman, is celebrated on Friday.