The Oppression Begins - RR171A2

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: The Oppression Begins
Course: Course - Exodus; Unity of Law and Grace
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 2
Length: 0:40:36
TapeCode: RR171A2
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Exodus Unity of Law and Grace.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.

Let us worship God. Serve the Lord with gladness, come before his presence with singing. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise. Be thankful unto him and bless His name, for the Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting and his truth endureth to all generations. Let us pray.

Oh, Lord, our God, we give thanks unto thee for the abundance of thy gifts and mercies. We thank thee, our Father, that because we are thine, we have the blessed assurance that all things work together for the good for us. That all things in thy providence will be, in due time, a blessing and for our profit. Guide us, therefore, day by day, that we may walk with a holy boldness and in confidence in thy government, and be more than conquerors in Christ, our king. In his name we pray. Amen.

Our scripture is from the book of Exodus, Exodus 1:8-14. Our subject, The Oppression Begins. Exodus 1:8-14. “Now there arose a new king over Egypt that knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, ‘Behold the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come on, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply and it come to pass that when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.’ Therefore, they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens, and they built of Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Ramses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigor, and they made their lives bitter and hard bondage, bitter with hard bondage in mortar and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service wherein they made them serve was with rigor.” [00:03:17]

We are told in verse ...[edit]

We are told in verse 8 that a new king, a new ruler, possibly of a new dynasty who knew not Joseph, came to power. Now the text is not specific, so there are two possibilities with respect to not knowing Joseph, and the Hebrew word allows for both meanings. First, it could refer to a refusal to recognize the importance of Joseph. The Egyptian kings, as gods, did not normally acknowledge any indebtedness to man, least of all to foreigners. The ruler, therefore, could have chosen to ignore Joseph. And second, this could have meant an ignorance of Joseph’s part in Egypt’s history. Records were kept by most rulers or by their scribes, but many chose not to read them or have them read to them. In Esther 6:1-3 we see that Ahasuerus was ignorant of a very recent attempt on his life, until on a sleepless night he ordered the book of records or Chronicles of Persia read to him, and only then did he know that Mordecai had saved his life. In any case, whether with or without knowledge, it was not common for a Pharaoh to acknowledge a past or a present debt to a commoner, and especially to a foreigner. The Pharaoh’s, after all, were living gods. They did not owe anything to man, man owed everything to them. The word “Pharaoh” literally means, “great house.” It originally applied to the palace and to the grounds, because that was where the living god was, but in time it came to apply to the ruler in the palace.

Pharaoh declared that Egypt had a problem, overpopulation. Now, this is a recurring myth in history. In fact, in Plato, we can read a statement about the terrible problem of overpopulation. It’s a recurring myth, and it’s a political myth. You always have overpopulation if there are too many people around that you don’t like. And if you believe that the country would be more manageable if certain elements were eliminated, then you can institute the myth and a policy to cut down the population. How far back the myth of overpopulation goes, we don’t know. We do find it in ancient times. And perhaps, it’s not a wise guess but let me hazard a guess that at times when Adam and Eve disagreed, each though that the Garden of Eden was overpopulated. [00:06:56]

[Audience] Laughter...[edit]

[Audience] Laughter

[Rushdoony] Pharaoh’s problem was this, there were too many Hebrews and too few Egyptians. The myth always requires, or usually requires exaggerations, so the Pharaoh said, “The children of Israel are more and mightier than we.” He feared two things according to his statement. First, that the Egyptians would, in time, be outnumbered by the Hebrews with serious social consequences. Second, he feared that, in the event of a war, the Hebrews would unite with Egypt’s enemies. Now, there’s no question that, in the few centuries that they had been in Egypt there had been wars, and no such thing had happened. The first fear thus, rested on exaggeration. The second fear rested in Pharaoh’s mind. The Hebrews had been there for some time, and they had no doubt fought for the Egyptians with no disloyalty. In fact, it was Pharaoh who created the division with his persecution.

But there is much more. In speaking of Pharaoh, we are speaking of a religion, ruling hierarchy around him. Because Pharaoh was a god to the Egyptians, he was surrounded by priests who governed his daily life. According to scholars like Frasier and others, every moments of his life was governed by a precise and unchanging rules. His time, both day and night, was prescribed for him. There was a subtle rule for every act. Now, while those rules may not have been maintained in all their severity in all of Egypt’s long history, these requirements indicate the subservience of the ruler to a religious regime. And because he was the living god and the source of both good and bad, the fertility of the land depended upon him. The waters of the Nile depended upon him, and so he could be blamed for the failure of the rains, or of the crops. Egypt’s religion was a fertility cult, and this brings us to a very interesting point. [00:09:50]

When we read about other religions, it’s amazing how...[edit]

When we read about other religions, it’s amazing how sweet and lovely all paganism is, it’s always whitewashed. Whitewashed. We’re not told the truth about it. But, we get every ugly fact about the history of the church, and a lot of ugly myths about the history of the church. I think you could read through perhaps 10 or 12 most widely used texts and studies of Egypt and its religion, its Pharaoh’s and so on, and never come across a disconcerting fact. Well, I cannot go into all that is done as a part of the religious ritual, but I’ll just cite one thing. The young Pharaoh, to prepare him for his task, as a part of the service in the temple, was routinely sodomized by the high priest before the alter. But this you do not hear. Paganism is a lovely, sweet, innocent thing. And we even had a former justice, Douglas, defend the rights of cannibals to practice their religion and not be interfered with by these meddling Christians. So, when you’re dealing with Egypt, you’re dealing with the vicious, degenerate culture. And the whitewash doesn’t wear.

Now Joseph had preserved Egypt through a major drought and famine. This brings us to another point about the falsification of history. We’re routinely told of Joseph’s socialist act, but he had used Pharaoh’s power to stir up a huge surplus of foods during the productive years, in order to care for the people during the drought years. Joseph also reformed the tax structure, and he reduced the levy to a fifth of an increase of grain crops only, which is a very interesting fact. Now, in ancient Egypt, the fields were sown one year with wheat, the next year with other crops such as barley, spelt , rye, onions, or something else, and the third year was a year for fallowing the land. This meant that, on the one hand, orchards and vineyards were not taxes and only wheat harvests were. Now, the priests were supported on Pharaoh’s receipts, which had been the major portion of every crop. Thus, those who speak of Joseph as a socialist are very wrong. The people of Egypt said to Joseph, “Thou hast saved our lives.” The land had previously belonged to brutal landlords, so that the people were doubly taxed, but because of Joseph’s reforms, the land was transferred to the crown and the people obligated to pay only a nominal tax, and this was a realistic move on Joseph’s part. He reformed the tax system dramatically, cut it to the bone, so that they were paying a far lesser tax than we are, or any of us have in our lifetime perhaps. But he transferred the ownership of the land from the rapacious landlords to the crown, in order to get the crown happy about the move, which saved the common people of Egypt. It pleased thus the king and the people. The one thing Joseph did not tamper with wisely was the landholding of the priestly class. But he had strengthened the royal power against the priests and the landlords who were really lords, having realms all to their own. [00:15:00]

Now, there is no doubt there was a continuing hostility...[edit]

Now, there is no doubt there was a continuing hostility against the Hebrews on the part of the ruling class, which had now lost their power, and of the priests now, because of Joseph’s reforms. There was another tax in antiquity which Joseph could not touch. A tax exacted in the form of labor. Annually, there would be so many days when all the common people were to go and work for a crown project. When the levy took place, the Hebrews assumed it was to be the routine work which was required, and that was bad enough. But we are told that taskmasters were set over the Israelites to afflict them. The work pace was stepped up. The number of days of service perhaps increased steadily from year to year. By such forced labor, Pharaoh hoped to weaken Israel, that is to reduce their strength and their freedom, and also to lower the birthrate. By making a difference in the work levy of Hebrews and Egyptians, the Egyptians made the Israelites more conscious of their alien origin. They had not previously been aware of it. We are also told that their birthrate increased instead of dropping. Pharaoh said, ”Let us deal wisely [or shrewdly] with them.” His wisdom was now creating troubles for him. The work assigned to the Hebrews was the construction of two cities made of brick, and it included also all manner of service in the field, which usually meant digging or cleaning the canals of Egypt, or like tasks. Pharaoh’s unjust levies thus made Israel conscious and aware of its past, and its distinct heritage. Both Joshua in Joshua 24:14 and Ezekiel 28 tell us that Israel had become Egyptian in its faith and outlook to a very great degree. Pharaoh is now reminding them that they are not Egyptians. According to ancient Hebrew records, which may be true, we are told of the Hebrews, and I quote: “They filled the theatres and all the places of amusement.” They had become Egyptians. Oppression would, in time, make them Israelites again. [00:18:28]

In the ancient world, no other world was more self...[edit]

In the ancient world, no other world was more self-consciously separate from others than the Egyptians. Only once, in history, did they actually give an Egyptian princess to a foreign monarch in marriage, and even their records record it as an unusual event. That was when a princess was given to Solomon, because Solomon had become so important that they had to have some kind of alliance with him thereby. Because of their self-conscious separatism, unusual in the ancient world, they limited their influence and created problems with themselves as racism always does in any people. Egypt, however, was an area of amazing fertility. It is still rated as one of the two most fertile land masses of the world. The other being the San Joaquin, or Great Central Valley of Southern California. But, the California Central Valley is a prosperous area and Egypt, one of the poorest, and the difference is the faith and the rule. Egypt has usually been one of the places in world at the bottom of the economic scale as far as a common people were concerned, and are concerned. The forced labor, or parve, has a long, long history. Most of it has been ugly. At times it has developed in Christian countries, as something good. In France, at the time of the French Revolution, many areas resisted the revolutionary regime’s policies because everything was centralized down in Paris, and it had become a custom for generations for the people in a local community to meet after church and to decide what needed work in the community. A bridge to be repaired, roads to be made, fences to be fixed. And then to assign the work to themselves, and do it themselves. It had become a form of self-government. In Egypt, however, forced labor was often murderous. When the pyramids were built, many died. We are told, for example, by Herodotus, that when the Pharaoh Nato, because the construction of a canal, that canal cost the lives of 120,000 Egyptians. Modern scholars tend to question this number. That is because they are convinced there was no wisdom before their birth. All one has to do is look at the projects that they did then and you know that it required not a few thousand, but 100,000, 200,000-300,000 men to put up those pyramids, the various buildings, temples, and so on with forced labor. So, no one has been able to reconstruct any idea of how they were built without positing incredible numbers of people working at the same time. Well, the death rate was usually fearful. [00:22:44]

Now, in his long poem, ...[edit]

Now, in his long poem, “Under the Willows,” James Russell Lowell has a line I have often used and I think is very important, when he spoke of us human beings as:

“We, who by shipwreck only find the shores of divine wisdom.”

This is an insight as true today as of Israel of old. And we must say that those who will not be awaken by shipwreck will only perish. God used the shipwreck there in Egypt of Israel to lead them out of Egypt. But even though they would not learn, he led them out for the sake of the next generation. And so, the generation which departed as adults died in the wilderness. The next generation gained the promised land. Moreover, we see here, as we do from one end of the Bible to the other, God’s ironies, the very means whereby Pharaoh planned to destroy Israel, became the destruction of Egypt. And if Velikovsky is right in his reconstruction of the chronology, it was at that point that the Hyksos or Amalekites moved into Egypt because of the vacuum that had been created by the plagues and by the destruction of Pharaoh’s army. So, the means they used to consolidate their power became their destruction. Again and again, we read in the Bible how man, when he plots most to overthrow God’s people and God’s power, plans himself at the brink of his destruction. Even as the high priest, when the arrest and crucifixion was decided upon, said, “It is better for this one man to perish than for the nation to die.” He knew not, we are told by John, that he was speaking thereby of fulfillment of God’s purpose and his plan of salvation.

So, Exodus is of tremendous interest, not only because it is the setting forth of God’s law, but it gives us an awe-inspiring picture of how God works in history. Of how he rules and overrules in the lives of men and nations, and how a totally helpless people find themselves delivered and their enemies destroyed. And, as we saw in dealing with Leviticus 26 and the judgments God promises upon those who will not obey him, those judgments all come from the hand of God, and yet all outwardly seem natural. And all the judgments upon Egypt appear outwardly natural and yet, were totally also supernatural. God uses history to confound those who would consider themselves the lords of history. Let us pray. [00:26:53]

Thy word, oh Lord, is truth...[edit]

Thy word, oh Lord, is truth. And they word is a joy to us because as we see the powers around us, the Pharaohs and would-be Pharaohs of our time, we know that thou shalt confound them, and they shall be destroyed. We thank thee, our Father, for thou providential care, and we praise thee for thy grace and mercy unto us. In Jesus name. Amen.

Are there any questions now, about our lesson? Yes?

[Audience] There are records of the eviction of the Jews from Babylon, but no record by the Egyptians of the presence of the Jews in Egypt.

[Rushdoony] Yes. Because most nations in Antiquity never dealt with defeat and disaster. And if where we find such records, it’s obliquely written and it’s reading between the lines that you find that there was a defeat or a disaster. For example, we know that when Babylon, or uh, yes, the Babylonians first besieged Jerusalem, they were stricken by a plague. Just on the brink of conquest, and lifted the siege and had to return. But nothing is said about a defeat and what little we find there we do because uh, that was the occasions when the ruler was murdered. So, they were ready to indicate that things had not gone well with him, his successors that is. So, defeats and disasters were rarely recorded in Antiquity. And it’s by oblique references that occasionally we find records of them. In Egypt, such records were better preserved than elsewhere because of the sands and clay tablets, and so on. Any other questions or comments?

[Audience] Can you draw a parallel between the event that we’ve had hearing accidents and the modern day situation in our country, especially over the world of the activity in order to suppress Christians and Christian activity?

[Rushdoony] Yes, I think there is a very distinct parallel, um, and this time there is no place to go. So, this time, with the overthrow, it’s going to be something very different and dramatic, but we do have the stepped-up persecution. It’s going to be stepped-up even more. We have had reports recently of uh, mass murders, news is filtering out of Zimbabwe of massive murder of some missionaries and the native converts, literally hacking them to pieces, and this was done by the Marxists there. So, the whole world is moving into this kind of situation, and this time, their destruction will come again and will be, I believe, more drastic than before. [00:31:24]

[Audience] Well, the Soviet’s extermination of Christianity...[edit]

[Audience] Well, the Soviet’s extermination of Christianity uh, was not interfered with by the Christian community, although the Christian community at that time was in possession of most of the world.

[Rushdoony] Yes

[Audience] Consequently, the actions of governments against the Christian religion have been repeated all over, and the Christian community in other places have sat silent.

[Rushdoony] Yes

[Audience] Now, I see a difference in that and the situation of the Jew’s {?}, because the Egyptians were not going to become Jews, and they had a big religion in Egypt which the Jews did not ascribe.

[Rushdoony] Well, some Egyptians did convert and leave with Israel, but the majority did not. One of the things that we do see today that is increasingly important to this whole matter, and that’s why the events that are transpiring are so important is this: Over the years I’ve tried to tell Christians who are talking about the rapture and being raptured before the tribulation, tell it to the Russian Christians, tell it to the Russian believers. Were they raptured before the tribulation? What have they been through all these years? They have no answer. Why? Because instead of looking at the world, and instead of looking at the scripture, they’ve looked only to what’s happening in Israel and what has happened to the prophetic clock, and their rapture out of this world. Well, right now they are on a state of crisis and their ideas near collapse, because they’ve stuck their neck out so many times and especially about the prophetic clock having started to tick, and the rapture has not come. There will be, and there already are evidences of a growing collapse in such thinking, and I think that is to make Christians awake to the issues. They’re not going to be able to hide in that illusion much longer. Any other questions or comments? Yes?

[Audience] Uh, specifically on Joseph, I’m wondering concerning an offensive posture, what ways today, in just general terms, is Joseph an economic model for us? [00:34:29]

[Rushdoony] Joseph had to deal realistically in his...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Joseph had to deal realistically in his situation, so not everything he did would be an economic model. But what Joseph did do was to eliminate every kind of taxation in money or in kind virtually to the disappearing point, because it was only when you had a wheat crop you were taxed. He could not touch anything else. But thereby, he did reduce the tax as close to the disappearing point as possible. A 20% tax once in every three years on one crop is a remarkable decline in taxes, when they were paying most of what they grew, of everything, in taxes. Now, Joseph was a realist. He both knew what God required, but he also knew what he could accomplish, and in so many of our problems today, we fail to get things through legislatures because so many Christians want everything overnight, not slow, progressive development. Because you cannot reverse history overnight, and Joseph is a good model, he accomplished a great deal. One reason why many posit that there arose a new king over Egypt which knew not Joseph meant a new dynasty, was that the feeling is that willy-nilly the old dynasty would not be able to renounce Joseph that much, or cut their strings from everything he meant, and his people. Yes?

[Audience] I notice they’re reading the record of Joseph’s collection of all property in Egypt, and all the people and everything they had and centralized it all. The difference between what he did and what modern socialism does is he paid for everything.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Audience] He did not confiscate it, he sold green and exchange for it, all his property.

[Rushdoony] Very good point. Is there another…yes?

[Audience] In terms of the rapture mentality, the church, those people who moved into that mentality because they want a quick fix, is there a danger as the clock ticks down and doesn’t happen, them to transfer that desire for immediate salvation and reversal to a political state, move to a dictator or something like that, to achieve the same thing?

[Rushdoony] That’s a real possibility, but we must also hope and pray that they wake up to their Christian responsibility here and now, and that is happening with many, and that’s one reason why a theonomic point of view is so anathema to those who have not switched because they see the defection, and it’s a growing defection. It will destroy the basis of many groups and many Bible schools and seminaries, because they rest totally in terms of that and their claim to an allegiance and to support is that they are true to that kind of thinking. Yes? [00:38:24]

[Audience] Well, there’s a persistent effort on the...[edit]

[Audience] Well, there’s a persistent effort on the part of individuals to create a calendar, for God, and God doesn’t obey those calendars.

[Rushdoony] No, man can never prescribe for God, or program God. It’s hard enough to program a computer, let alone God.

[Audience] [Laughter]

[Rushdoony] Well, if there are no further comments or questions, let us bow our heads in prayer. Oh Lord, our God. How great and marvelous thou art. How sure and certain is thy grace and mercy, and thy judgment. We thank thee, our Father, that we are in thy hands, and not in the hands of men. And therefore, we can face all our tomorrows in the confidence that thou wilt make all things make work together for good for them that love thee, to those who are called according to thy purpose. Bless us, oh Father, in thy service. And now, go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you this day and always. Amen. [00:40:10]

Tape ends.