According to the Bible, God was mad at Pharaoh. Moses warned Pharaoh that if he didn’t let the Jewish slaves go free, bad things might happen to him. According to Jewish tradition, God was punishing Pharaoh. Others believe it was Pharaoh’s conscience, or bad karma, that was affecting him. Still others believe they were all scientifically explainable coincidences. Whatever caused the ten plagues, they were unbearable!
Let’s read a list of all of the plagues that occurred. For each plague, we will dip our pinky fingers in our wine and touch them to the rims of our plates or napkins. The wine is sweet, and the plagues were not. By taking a tiny bit of wine with each dip of our fingers, we remember that this was a sad time for everyone. We do not like to see bad things happen to anyone; even the people we think of as enemies. With each bad thing that happened, the Bible says God gave Pharaoh a chance to change his mind, and to let the Jewish people go free, but Pharaoh kept refusing.
As we read the plagues, let's reflect on whether we believe it okay to use violence to get a ruler - like a Queen, a dictator, or a President to stop doing something horrible to people? Is it okay to use violence against the people who are governed by this ruler in order to get the ruler to stop? And what do we think about a God who would order the killing of children? What about the Jews who knew this was happening and yet did not try to stop it?
This question is very relevant today - is nuclear war, drone attacks - or even economic sanctions ever justified? If so, when and who should decide this? If we do not use violence, what do we do if the ruler continues to persecute people, even people in their own country. These are very challenging and important questions that we wrestle with now as our President begins bombing of Syria in order to stop the President of Syria from harming the Syrian people. War, persecution, and international conflict are certainly some of the evils that plague us today.
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