Summary: What comes to your mind when you think of persecution? What are some of the thoughts and images? What are some of the actions and deeds?
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Persecution – Are my hands clean?
What comes to your mind when you think of persecution? What are some of the thoughts and images? What are some of the actions and deeds?
African Americans in this country are very familiar with the concept of persecution. There’s no need to insult anyone’s intelligence. We are all familiar with the story of how our ancestors were taken captive, in many cases by their own people, and sold into slavery. We know the story of how they were chained and forced to make the most devastating journey through the pits of hell as they traveled the Atlantic Ocean. This is why we can relate historically to the experience of the Israelites.
Exodus: The Israelites Oppressed
1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; 3 Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; 4 Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. 5 The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy [a] in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.
6 Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, 7 but the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them
8 Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt.
9 "Look," he said to his people, "the Israelites have become much 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."
11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13 and worked them ruthlessly. 14 They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.
15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 "When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live." 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, "Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?"
19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, "Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive."
20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.
22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: "Every boy that is born [b] you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live."
Our hands are not clean when we forget!
8 Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. 9 "Look," he said to his people, "the Israelites have become much 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."
Joseph had interpreted the pharaoh’s dream and had risen to the office of governor of Egypt. 41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt." 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, [c] and men shouted before him, "Make way [d] !" Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Gen 41
Joseph bought the land and expanded the Egyptian empire. Gen 47:20; saved many thousands of lives by providing seeds to grow crops.
Joseph had become such a presence in Egypt that when he asked Pharaoh to return and bury his father, “7All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt- 8 besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. 9 Chariots and horsemen [a] also went up with him. It was a very large company.” (Gen 50)