BAR 37:03, May/Jun 2011
Biblical Views: The Pharaoh, the Bible and Liberation (Square)
After the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak stepped down in February, Google executive Wael Ghonim tweeted: “Good morning, Egypt. I truly missed you for the past 30 years!” This revolution, which was nonviolent and democratic, was an entirely modern phenomenon. But the backdrop of the Great Pyramids and the frequent references to Mubarak as the Last Pharaoh bring to mind a time span much longer than 30 years. The rule of the pharaohs in Egypt began around 3000 B.C.E. In the big picture we’re talking about 5,000 years of authoritarian rule by pharaohs, kings, emperors and dictators. In this long span, it is natural to think of the Biblical Exodus as in some ways a precursor of the latest revolution in Egypt. The plea to Pharaoh, “Let my people go,” would be an apt caption to the scenes of popular demonstrations in Cairo’s Liberation Square.