Thursday, April 13, 2006

Teach Me, Little Child

A first grader at my church taught me about the Bible on Tuesday night. Our church has mid-week activities on Tuesday night. One of the classes did not meet, so this first-grader came in the preschool room with us. I allowed the class to talk me into watching a DVD about baby Moses. As we watched it, the first grader said that Pharaoh didn't like the Hebrew baby boys because he wanted the Hebrew girls to marry the Egyptians. I had never heard that before.

I have studied the first chapters of Exodus in divinity school. In fact, it was the first passages of Exodus that I struggled to translate in Hebrew II. In that class, we discussed how Moses' mother probably knew exactly what she was doing as she put that basket near where Pharaoh's daughter would bathe. I marvel that this three month old Moses was not already trying to turn over and that the basket was made so sturdy. And yet I seemed to have missed an element of the story.

Throughout my childhood, I know that I have heard the story of baby Moses at least once a year in Sunday School. I also remember reading about it in a Little Golden Book Old Testament Stories. Pharaoh was afraid of a rebellion because of the number of Hebrews in Egypt. He was right to fear a rebellion because the Hebrews were slaves. I have always seen the slaughter of the baby boys as a way to keep the girls from marrying, period. Yet here is the alternative that I didn't consider--it was to encourage intermarriage with the Egyptians.

When Exodus was written, the Jews were in Babylon. Intermarriage was real to them. It makes perfect sense to read this passage in light of their experience in exile. I had just never seen it that way myself, so I guess a first grader taught me something the other night.

It is exciting to know that old, old stories that I have known for years can still teach me a thing or two. And it is exciting to have a child direct my thoughts about the Bible for a change.

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