Monday, November 01, 2010

The Field of Reeds

One of the attractions of the Egyptian afterlife was the Field of Reeds (Aaru), the place of bliss if one's heart is no heavier than Ma'at's feather. To get there, the soul has to go through trial and judgment.

In the Book of Exodus, Yhwh parts the Yam Suf to allow the Children of Israel to go forward towards the Promised Land by escaping Pharaoh, his slavery and his 'false gods'. And Yam Suf means "sea of reeds", not Red Sea.

Noticing this coincidence, I am led to reflect that modern archaeology now suggests very strongly that there was no 'exodus' as described in the Bible and that Israel was progressively settled by waves of immigrants from Egypt and elsewhere across centuries, and that there was no single War of Conquest. If this is the historical fact, what, I wonder, do we make of the Exodus story?

If the original writer knew the facts, there must be a subtext and I would suggest that it was written simply to demonstrate Yhwh's victory over 'false gods', not as history. And there is a subtext for Christians too: not about power but about Christ's setting all of humanity free from slavery.

Even the Buddhist mind can find an allegorical lesson about going beyond.

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