"Ten Plagues of the Exodus in the Light of the Baha’i Writings" | JoAnn Borovicka

Just another WordPress site

"Ten Plagues of the Exodus in the Light of the Baha’i Writings" | JoAnn Borovicka

to introduce Joanne specifically she’s a writer and presenter whose research focus so far has been about the bahá’í teachings and biblical themes so she was also telling me how she’s been very interested in Allah free Airy and liberation theology and all kinds of other topics like that so she is really quite a wide range of interests her book light of the kingdom biblical topics in the Baha’i writings I think I can do it this way you can see that the top the book fairly well I can’t see myself the moment so I hope you’ve got the whole thing in in view here is an excellent book and today will be related to force 2 this particular book she’s also worked on a Baha’i Bible study series and she’s given various talks on behind Bible themes as well she’s an educational consultant specializing in the pedagogy of liberation profession that has taken her all across the United States as well as to other countries and she’s been working with the global learning partners at John F Kennedy Foundation and Habitat for Humanity so she’s worked in non-profit contexts with these other organizations as well she and her husband Mike live in Greenville South Carolina where she says it’s 25 degrees today which is pretty cold for South Carolina Joanne you can take it away as soon as we can see your slides well welcome friends and thank you so much for tuning in and as it is so this is the ten plagues of the Exodus in light of the Baha’i writings and this is based on a paper that can be found in the lights of irfan book number 16 by the same title it’s freely available online so if it catches your attention and you’d like to read a little more that’s available to you so an overview of the presentation first we’re going to look at the exodus narrative just a brief review and also some theories about it and we’re going to see that there is compelling evidence that the story of the Exodus does not represent literal historical facts and then we’re going to go into understanding behind chances on the Exodus so we’ll see that the Baha’i writings sometimes refer to the exodus narrative as if it really happened and these references we will find validate the spiritual truths contained in the scripture however they do not validate the story as historical fact and then because this draws us to inter meetings we’ll look at some of the inner meanings in the exodus narrative we do have some authoritative guidance on this so getting started the exodus narrative in theories so just a brief review for those who maybe haven’t read the exodus story in a while is this found in the book of Exodus in the Hebrew Scriptures the Old Testament in Christian terminology we find that the Israelites are in forced labor in Egypt under a tyrannical Pharaoh Moses arises as a leader of the Israelites and he confronts Pharaoh with the famous line let my people go Pharaoh does not let the Israelites go and so Moses as advised by God commanded by God inflicts the land of Egypt with ten plagues and they are as you see first the Egyptian waters turn to blood and all the fish die and then the people are invaded by hordes of frogs then there are swarms of gnats swarms of flies the cattle become diseased and die there are boils or infections that break out on people’s skin on the Egyptians skin then we have three days of thunder and hail in fire sink lightning then there are swarms of locusts that come through and eat everything green everything off the trees everything off the farmland now as you can see with these asked of the single asterisk this presents plagues where the Pharaoh is disturbed by the plague and the suffering of the people and so he tells the Israelites that they they can go stop the plague and then you can go but then he very quickly changes his mind but with this last plague the death of the Egyptian first Born’s human and animal the Pharaoh is so bereaved instruct with this grief this disaster that he does let the Israelites leave

Egypt and so there’s very quick preparations and the Israelites leave however after some time he changes his mind again and goes into pursuit of the Israelites with his army ok so now when Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt the scripture describes that there are six hundred thousand men with their wives and family so that would probably figure out to be about two million people which at that time would have been about a quarter of the population of Egypt so we’re not talking about a little band escaping we’re talking about a large number of people okay so pharaoh sets out in pursuit and gains on the Israelites and so it comes to the point where the Israelites have water before them and often refer to as the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army approaching fast and so this is the point where Moses raises his hand and the waves the water parts and the Israelites the scripture says walk through on dry land and they progress Pharaoh and the army continues to pursue the Israelites and at some point Moses turns around raises his hand over the water again and the water closes over Pharaoh’s army leaving them all the scripture states dead on the shore ok now this if you do the figure out the time frame this should have happened around the 13th century BC maybe 1240 BC or sometime in there okay so that basically is a review of the Exodus story so the the exodus narrative is much loved in all of really all the world’s literature and it is cherished in Judaism and Christianity and Islam the Baha’i faith it’s cited in world literature it has a universal appeal it illustrates the victory of the Word of God over the oppressor and divine solidarity with the oppressed it is a central story in the theology of liberation and so during the civil rights movement during liberation movements in South America and other places where they cherished biblical scripture the story of the Exodus is really the poster story of a theology of liberation now the traditional view is that the exodus is an accurate and literal recording of ancient history and this has been was the assumption for for many many years really until even with archaeologists until about the 1970s however research from the last century in archaeology Near Eastern history in ancient literature shows no conclusive evidence of the Exodus events and there is tremendous information about this and we’re just going to look at a few highlights so this is a quote from Donald B Redford he is a premier Egyptologist and archaeologists and he states that the entire story Exodus story remains the most elusive of all the salient events of really history the event is supposed to have taken place in Egypt yet Egyptian sources know it not okay now this is um according to current understanding and you might think well where with the traces of the Exodus be where who could find this has happened so long ago well in fact artists and scribes of biblical times of say the 13th century BC documented events on architecture in tombs on clay tablets on papyrus in Egypt and also surrounding areas and over a hundred years of steady archaeological excavation and interpretation have unearthed massive amounts of information about life during that time and they find that political events were recorded very mundane events are recorded and truly thousands of

tablets massive amount of information but when interesting that the 13th century BC papyrus records show the movement of people in and out of Egypt it was very closely monitored and recorded and not just large groups of people but small nomadic groups coming in just to water their herds would be recorded the Egyptians were very jealous of their these trade routes and routes in and out of the country and they guarded them and they recorded activity along these lines and this is from Finkelstein and Silberman from the Bible unearthed again both renowned archaeologists silverman a renowned historian they say but we have no clue not even a single word about Israelites in Egypt neither in monumental inscriptions on walls of temples nor in tomb inscriptions nor in papyri Israel is absent as a possible Egypt as a friend or as an enslaved nation okay now again this is not the opinion of a man on the street these are our scientists archaeologists who are reporting on the most current information and really a hundred years of focus research there was no mass exodus from Egypt they say what a strong statement now this is determined not because there is no evidence in Egypt of the Israelites as an enslaved nation or that these plagues occurred or that they left and mass but also in study of the land of Israel and of the Levant what they do find is a very different story of how the Israelites developed in that area how they arose as a nation and now it’s it’s not my place here to review all of that tremendous scholarship and science but just to say that this is a a major line of understanding of the archeology of Egypt and the LaVon at this time okay now it may come to your mind oh but I’ve seen documentaries or TV shows on how the plagues the ten plagues of Egypt really happened and that they had natural causes maybe it wasn’t a miracle by Moses but these 10 plagues really did occur in this sequence well there are many popular theories and Mike frankly I love these theories because there there are a lot of fun they are logical and one very popular theory is that there are volcanoes theory that the island Greek island currently Santorini there is volcano eruption and so the smoke from the volcano traveled across the Mediterranean poisoned the Nile the iron oxide in the smoke turn the Nile red poison the fish they died the frogs being amphibians jumped out of the water to escape anyway it goes on and on and with all these theories basically it’s a chain of unfortunate events caused by a natural disaster and so often it ends with the theory that the people of wanting to appease the gods who surely are in control of this these happenings sacrificed their first Born’s as was sometimes done in ancient times in order to appease the God and that would be the the death of the firstborns and it came to be known as a plague at any rate there are many theories they’re extremely popular they are a lot of fun however and this remark Harris from University of Edinburgh he says considerable scholarship of scientific and Biblical indicate that the natural cause models cannot be reasonably sustained okay so this isn’t one person’s opinion this is really a popular opinion about those theories so no natural cause theories that have captured the support of the scientific or biblical community okay so the current trend in scholarship is that the Exodus is one of the founding myths of Israel a literary masterpiece now founding myths that is a quote from the New Oxford annotated Bible again

this is not an opinion of someone on the street this is a and not a radical opinion either in biblical scholarship Exodus is one of the founding myths of Israel it draws on ancient traditions from many different sources it reflects the geographical demographic and political situation of the seventh century BC this would be the time of King Josiah and it also reflects a visionary ideology King Josiah and a brilliant ideology now this is not to lessen the importance of the Exodus story but to give a realistic on background of where it came from and why it was written it doesn’t change the fact that it is a brilliant literary masterpiece and that it is much loved and that it really captures the truth of liberation theology okay so that’s what the secular scholars and biblical scholars say what about the highest scholars so introducing there’s a novel Fazal a meaning father of all excellences and he is still often referred to as the most outstanding scholar of the Baha’i faith and he was an apostle of Ajala he was an exponent of the Baha’i faith in Egypt he taught the faith in Egypt lived there for many years and he also guided the Baha’i community in North America at the direction of Abdul Baja he was here for a little over three years and and his his voice was like the voice of Abdullah huh so again Mirza al Faisal is is a Baha’i scholar he is not a central figure of the faith but he’s a very important behind scholar so and he has an many essays published some in this book miracles and metaphors and he does discourse on the Exodus what see what he says miserable Fazal says no trace has been found of Moses’s mission to the israelites their plea for salvation from pharaoh’s tyranny through moses leadership or their emigration to the plains of syria under his standard now he wrote this I think in probably 1915 so this is very early 1900s and actually this declaration is what you hear from archeologists today he continues it is unimaginable unimaginable that the Egyptians who depicted on walls every event great or small and inscribed in stone everything that happened in Egypt could have neglected to mention such extraordinary and stupendous occurrences as Moses’s demonstration of amazing signs and the drowning of Pharaoh and his huge army okay good argument so here a mere savile fossils is pointing out that yes the egyptians recorded everything and yes it is unimaginable that they would not record such a fantastic occurrence as a quarter of the population of egypt suddenly escaping it’s a lot of the workforce gone so now this same statement we find in a recorded uh pterence of abdul Baha the Egyptian history recorded even trifling events heads such a wonderful thing happened as the parting of the physical sea it would have been recorded okay so we have this encouragement to look to the historical record to find out what happened or not it would have been recorded particularly in this culture that did it was customary to record things okay so now this brings us to part two understanding Baha’i references to the Exodus because we can’t ignore the fact that the Baha’i writings sometimes refer to the exodus narrative as if it really happened okay and this is an example from the kitabi icon this is a statement by baha’u’llah and when he is basically reviewing progressive revelation the last days and when his meaning Abraham’s day was ended there came the turn of Moses surely you are aware the fierce opposition of Pharaoh and his people and of the stones of idle fancy which the hands of the infidels passed upon that blessed tree okay now when I first read this my first thought was okay superhuman knowledge but Allah is

confirming the reality of the Exodus and science has not caught up with it yet because surely if b’hala is saying surely you’re aware of the fierce opposition of Pharaoh to the Israelites then there was opposition to the Israelites by Pharaoh however we have an explanation for this because now we have this tension between that while the science and scholarship says this but now my religious scripture says something different okay this is a recorded statement by abdu l-bahá and he explains that certain matters are in reality just stories but the divine manifestations bring them out as though it were truth and discourse upon them I will talk about this quite a bit now this is from the amar bukh Hulk vol 2 you might not be familiar with this because it has not all been translated into English this is a provisional translation from the Persian and it is a good translation I’ve checked this with the Persian a review desk and also three Persian Baha’i scholars and I’m all confirmed yes this is a good translation and so in the context of this quote the certain matters that Abdul bhai was talking about his certain matters in Scripture so let’s look at this some more Mirza Abul Fazal in his discourse on the Exodus actually a comments a good bit about this phenomenon he states the prophets have indulged the people in regard to their historical notions folk stories and scientific principles and have spoken to them according to these and he states they conversed as was appropriate to their audience and kid certain realities behind the curtain of illusion now certainly in the late 1800s and in the early 1900’s it would have been appropriate to talk to people in terms of the exodus as a real historical event because that was the understanding Miroslava Fazal estates the prophets and manifestations never engaged in disputes with the people about their historical beliefs but address them according to their local traditions okay so we have here an explanation of why would Bala referred to the enslavement of the Israelites under a tyrannical Pharaoh if perhaps that never occurred well because he was speaking to the people according to their traditions and as was appropriate to their understanding this is also what every great teacher does you start with what the people know and make a connection and and you teach from that ok this also it harmonizes with Baha’u’llah statement in the Arabic hidden words he says all that I have revealed unto thee with the tongue of power and have written for thee with a pen of might have been in accordance with thy capacity and understanding not with my state and the melody of my voice so here we have a very large confirmation that yes the manifestation of God speaks to people according to their understandings ok now let’s get more specific here with Abdul Baha and the Exodus in the secret of divine civilization which was a message written by abdu’l-bahá in 1875 to the rulers and people of Persia he does include references to the exodus narrative he uses it as a teaching point and he speaks of exodus events as if they really happen but before he does he doesn’t kind of think of it as a disclaimer or a heads up in his interdict introduction to the discourse on the exodus out of AHA states the events that transpired at the advent of the prophets of the past and their ways and works and circumstances are not adequately set down in authoritative histories and are referred to only in condensed form in the verses of the Quran the holy traditions that would be the Christian scripture and the

Torah the Jewish Scripture okay now notice we have this statement from after Baja this is a written tablet where he states that the ways and works of the prophets of the past are not adequately set down and authoritative histories this is a very direct statement so do we know what happened no we don’t they’re not set down in authoritative histories and then he continues he before his discourse on the Exodus he says to preclude once and for all objections on the part of any of the world’s people we shall conduct our discussion conformably to those authoritative accounts with all nations agreed upon well that time all nations agreed that the exodus was a real historical fact and then Abdul Baja goes on to talk in those terms but even as he does he focuses on the spiritual meaning of the story and makes it relevant to the moment now he’s not speaking to the the rulers of Persia in order to help them understand what happened in 13 BC 13th century BC he wants them to understand what was currently happening the oppression of the rulers the oppression of the word of God the oppression of the people of God under tyrannical rules in Persia and in order to teach that he used a story that they know and and used it as a visual aid if you will and look how he focuses on the spiritual meaning of the story he states he meaning Moses led that loss people out of the shadows of ignorance and into knowledge and perfection this is actually what every manifestation of God does so this is the purpose of the manifestation now there’s there is actually no mention in the book of Exodus about the ignorance of the Israelites and so here Abdul Baha is showing us that subjugation is you know that that the story is a symbol of a spiritual ignorance and that Moses led them out of this ignorant into the knowledge of the word of God so while he speaks in the context of the story it’s always to bring the larger spiritual truth and to make it immediately relevant yeah and then he states his purpose he says our purpose is to show how true religion promotes the civilization and honor the prosperity and prestige the learning and advancement of a people once abject enslaved and ignorant and how when it falls into the hands of religious leaders who are foolish and fanatical is diverted to the wrong ends until this greatest of splinters turns into the blackest of night all right so I encourage you to read this whole the the entire secret of divine civilization and his treatment or the Exodus and very interesting how he professes his discourse and then makes it clear that again he’s not giving a history lesson he’s giving a spiritual lesson and he wants people to attend to what is happening at the moment through their understanding that comes from the symbolism in that story okay now going back to the quote from Baha’u’llah in the kitab Econ um when Abraham’s day was ended there came the turn of Moses you’re aware the fierce opposition of Pharaoh and his people and the stones of idle fancy which the hands of the infidels cast upon that blessed tree again first reading just paying attention to this passage I think ok the Israelites were really in oppression under a tyrannical Pharaoh however notice how the how Allah introduces this this before he says that before he goes into his into the his discussion of the ancient prophets he says a brief mention will be made in this tablet of diverse accounts relative to the prophets of God this is a very open statement he doesn’t say specifically we’re going to talk about the historical facts of what really happened during the the ancient prophets know diverse accounts relative to the prophets of God ok so these can be yes that could be tales stories

folktales mythology’s relative to the ancient prophets of God he says that they may demonstrate the truth that through all ages and centuries the manifestations of power and glory had been subjected to such heaney as cruelties that no Pandaria described them so remember earlier in secret of divine civilization abdu’l-bahá stated that the there were no authoritative histories of the ways and works of the prophets of the past but that their stories were reflected in condensed form in the Jewish Christian and Islamic Scripture condensed form could be any number of literary genres that hold that that conveyed meaning really the substance of what happened and included in that would be that of bahá’u’lláh States the manifestations of God are subjected to he Gnaeus cruelties throughout time the can be a truth that is conveyed in stories that may not have historical truth but convey really the important thing to know about that religious history okay and Mahalo states this purpose I think the purpose is insight into what’s happening in this age he says perchance this may enable a few to cease to be perturbed by the clamor and protestations of the Divine’s and the foolish of this age and caused them to strengthen their confidence uncertainty okay so you know I see this as b’hala using traditions that people are familiar with in order to teach something of what is happening in this age and we certainly have a lot of glamour and protestations all right interesting statement from Mahalo in the kitabi econ he states the Pharaoh of unbelief can never hope to recognize the hand of the Moses of truth look how he explains the symbolism of this story so it is the Pharaoh of unbelief not even the Pharaoh of Egypt all right there’s a lot of mention of Pharaoh as a power of oppression in the Baha’i writings so what what is this pharaoh it’s unbelief and and you know here what is Moses Moses is truth okay so we can understand and look at the Exodus story thinking okay Pharaoh is the powers of unbelief and when when great powers are in a condition of unbelief there can be great suffering okay now this is a statement from a Abdul Baha in some answer questions again a very authoritative work he says as this events have not been recorded in any history it is evident that they are to be understood literally not to be understood literally but according to their inner meaning ok the context of this is that he was asked about certain biblical events the New Testament and his statement was as you see as these events haven’t been recorded in any history you should understand them as significant for their inner meaning notice how he draws the distinction here between the biblical scripture and recorded history because these certain events were recorded in biblical scripture but they were not as he points out recorded in history so there’s a difference between the biblical record and the historical record sometimes they agree sometimes they don’t if you want to know what happened historically look to the historical record okay so you know Abdul bhai just stated to look at the inner meanings I believe that I established that we need to look at the inner meanings of the Exodus because the the evidence that it is not historical fact is that well there’s plenty of evidence that it isn’t so the exodus narrative contains spiritual truths that are universally relevant what are they and wanted to point out this quote from the universal House of Justice in issues related to the study the Baha’i faith they’re speaking to this phenomenon of the central figures as Abdul Baha said bringing out stories as if they were true and discourse in upon them the house of Justice States although in conveying his revelation the manifestation uses the language and

culture of the country to which he’s born he’s not confined to using terminology with the same connotations as those given to it by his predecessors or contemporaries he delivers his message in a form which is audience both immediate and in centuries to come is capable of grasping so this is where they have a lot of study here this whole phenomenon so one connotation that when they give to a story is a literal connotation and however the manifestation of God is not confined to that not confined by anything and as we saw by Baha’u’llah statement in the hidden words delivers his message in a form which is audience is capable of grasping and here we find ourselves in this position where centuries ago the understanding was that it was this is literal fact and indeed in the late 1800s and the early 1900’s the understanding was the exodus was literal fact and so this story is addressed in a way that respects that understanding but is often through you know the baha’i if you look closer into the words as we did and you see the explanations that there is a larger more important spiritual meaning you can do that centuries later and we’re a century after everybody in the world thought that the exodus was true okay so at the baha interprets the plague of bloody waters so here’s again from some answered questions this is an authoritative interpretation he states that which was the cause of the Egyptians life through their ignorance and pride became the cause of their death I’d encourage you to read this section it’s very interesting in his explanation he describes the denial with the water symbolizes the traditional source of power and wealth and when your traditional source of power and wealth comes between you and the Word of God then what what once sustained you becomes your now he talks of this in terms of the Egyptian waters and the water was symbolized as the traditional source of power but I mean this begs the question for anyone for a community or for of a individual what is my traditional source of power or wealth and how might it be coming between me and my full engagement with the Word of God and so what are some sources of power and wealth it could be family family connections it could be skin color social class your job it could be a bank account education your career the culture could be your nationality your neighborhood your religious community your religious tradition social connections whatever your traditional source of power and wealth is this story suggests that you need to evaluate that you need to analyze it and see if perhaps the attachment is so strong that it’s coming between you and the Word of God because when it does the water has become bloodied becomes your poison okay now notice that Abdi bajas interpretation of the plague of bloody water is a spiritual lesson it’s not a history lesson it makes the story universally relevant and timeless and and very important very important for today now we also have an interpretation from Abdul Baha that was a recorded uh pterence this is printed in daily lessons research received at akka and it’s about the crossing of the sea parting of the waters abdul baja states the crossing of the Red Sea has a spiritual meaning it was a spiritual journey through and above the sea of corruption and iniquity of Pharaoh and his people or army they so notice how we’re going from a physical journey now it’s turned into a physical spiritual growing he says by the help of God through Moses the Israelites were able to cross the Seas safely and reach the promised land a spiritual state while Pharaoh and his people were drowned in their own

corruption okay so that I believe that he brings the story this beautiful story to the point where all of us can relate and in certainly today when many of us feel like we were surrounded by corruption so what do we have to do to to rise above what do we have to do to part the waters and walk through on dry land where the feet don’t slip okay now excuse me I’m just gonna do a UH a couple of quick personal interpretations based on the Baha’i writings now this is not authoritative but it is a lot of fun in the time of abdul baja there were people who had written articles in the newspaper defaming the Baha’i faith this was around the time when he visited North America and the Baha’i very concerned about these rumors and lies that were in the newspaper magazine and they wrote abdu l-bahá or appealed to him and said what what should we do and these states their articles signifying nothing other than the buzzing of flies or the croaking of a frog of material world so this is not an interpretation of the plagues of frogs and flies directly by abdu l-bahá but he does use the same terminology and you know I personally like to think the plagues of frogs and flies this this all the rumors and the lies and what one hears today as as this plague nothing but the buzzing of flies okay the plague of gnats again another personal interpretation based on Bahamas use of the word Nass and here he is encouraging people who are disturbed about the sounds of dismay he said take heed lest thou falter on that day when all created things are filled with dismay assist I lowered to the utmost of thine ability and pay no heed to the peoples of the world for that which their mouths utter is like unto the droning of a gnat in an endless Valley okay notice that that which all these people many numerous people utter is like the droning of one gnat in an endless Valley this helps put things into perspective and I think that this is a day where many people are filled with dismay and the sounds of dismay can come at us from all directions and so we’re we’re not to to think of them as anything more than a gnat right so again my personal preference for the interpretation of the plague of gnats plague of diseased cattle materialism in the promulgation of universal peace in one talk at the oboe hog is a wonderful discourse comparing the philosophy of materialism with cattle he says cattle are without knowledge of God and deniers of divinity they understand nothing of the kingdom and its heavenly mysteries okay so perhaps I might want to think of is the plague of diseased cattle as as one of excess materialism in the world denying divinity plague of boils could be thought of as false doctrines oils are infections now this is a quote from century of light dark false and crooked doctrines that bring destruction on people who believe in them are like opportunistic infections okay so these in you know think that we do see dark false and crooked doctrines all around surrounding us so what are they like opportunistic infections so we try not to get infection infected plague of boils plague of thunder hail and lightning okay Abdul Baha in some answered questions describes the lightening of the anger and wrath of God will flash the noise of the Thunder of the violation of the covenant will resound the earthquake of doubts will take place the hail of torments will beat upon the violators of the Covenant and even those who profess belief will fall into trials and temptations so you know is it possible that with the plague of thunder hail and lightning what we were talking about in a spiritual sense or these challenges

met by the early Israelites and this also tells us something of the challenges that all of us need to face today even those who profess belief will fall into trials and temptations then we have the plague of locusts this is a quote from the introduction to the dawn breakers corrupt officials quote prey upon people like a swarm of locusts they just stripped everything clean without concern so I think that this suggests a good spiritual interpretation for that plague then we have the plague of darkness the purpose of the manifestation of God is first to liberate men from the darkness of ignorance and guide them to the light of true understanding so again this is not a direct interpretation of the plague of darkness but I think it strongly suggests that the plague of darkness is something that we all need to be concerned about and a reason to attend to the words of the manifestation of God and finally play to the death of the firstborns this might be a bit of a stretch but some what I choose to go to is the teaching that the first birth is to be born into the world of nature so the physical body but in the second birth the spirit is for out of the baser nature by acquiring the attributes of God nearby loose forever in the eternal realm abdu l-bahá states pray that the world of mankind shall be saved from the ordeals of ignorance blindness and spiritual death okay so plague the death of the firstborns okay so we have a body a human being born into the world the physical birth is the first birth and fail to be born into the life the spirit could be the death of that person in that the spiritual death is really more important than the physical life again a personal interpretation so just to review what I’ve done is did a brief review the exodus narrative and some theories we see the Exodus is an important ancient tradition there is compelling evidence the story doesn’t reflect this literal historic fact the Baha’i writings sometimes refer to the exodus narrative as if it really happened these references validate the spiritual truths contained in the scripture however they do not validate the story as historical fact and then we’ve just looked at a few things about the exodus narrative and how it does contain spiritual truths that are universally relevant and very important for today this is a hugely important story for today and that concludes the presentation thank you very much Joanne that was fascinating I really appreciated this approach to the Bible to the to the exodus account and I was particularly fascinated by part three where you were noting that all of these different plagues really exists in the in reference in the Baha’i writings of one form or another and we can easily see that the it may very well be that this is the best way of understanding what the biblical story refers to spiritually and and I think this will really help people think about the story in a whole new way I’m really fascinated by that I’m also really struck by the thoroughness of the presentation of the unlikelihood of the event and that I think it’s very important because most people are really unaware of that whole question I it’s interesting because the approach that I’m familiar with is a little different in that it’s not a question of taking it literally but assuming that there may be some sort of historical kernel in there somewhere how much of course was then developed into an elaborate story that is not the historical account right bands of Israel a small band I mean each if did have slaves right have some is Egypt and added to this story in the story of the development of the Israelite nation right likelihood that there’s a kernel in there and you have there’s a particular historical or the Old Testament text that I studied the Old Testament whether was was John brights a history of Israel which I think probably was originally published in the 50s and 60s but in 1980s it was still being used as a text I don’t think anybody uses it anymore because it

doesn’t have enough pictures you know nowadays all these these texts lots of beautiful pictures but bright points out for example that the word Moses is a an Egyptian name and it’s been given a Hebrews etymology in the book of Exodus the etymology is not a persuasive and etymology so you have in fact the name of Moses is Egyptian and several of the other companions of Moses have Egyptian names so it does seem like this internal that comes out of Egypt of some sort but not obviously the full-blown story and so then you have in fact what we’re doing today is continuing the process of adding interpretation to at a spiritual interpretation which is what people were doing when they were creating this absolutely amazing physical story from an earlier event that probably wasn’t as elaborated they were using a story to make the spiritual point historical stories by building them up shall we say okay and they did it brilliantly yeah they did in fact I had to write a paper in my Old Testament class and I went my paper on the crossing of the eensy and it’s quite interesting that I think it’s chapter 15 you have what’s called the song of Moses which is right before the Cecil B DeMille version of the story where he raises his staff and parts the waters and they walk across and the passage right before that says the the Egyptians how’s it go they sink into the sea so it doesn’t sound like waters croc covered them does say the waters covered of it says they sink into it so it sounds like you’re on those and disturbed by a storm or something and it’s it’s very interesting if you read this apparently this particular version of the story has extremely ancient Hebrew rhyme scheme and uses an archaic language so it’s likely to be an early oral tradition that was then added to the Bible and then what my professor called the Cecil B DeMille version where Charleston Heston raises his staff and the waters to split that that version is is little later and either in that chapter of the next chapter so it’s very interesting how the biblical text itself preserves several versions of the story then all right apparently predictor even probably some represent different layers of the onion you as the account was built but but I think all of this again underscores exactly your point that um the purpose of stories to convey spiritual truths and that I think it’s a fascinating thing to look out well we do have a few comments here let me see if I can find the first one here I can’t say how propose this topic is for my purposes very much to enjoy ms bora vinca on our current study of the job being gone we faced with this dilemma on whether the mention certain missed him by baha’u’llah should be taken literally and that’s confirmation to nerve justice visual aids to prove his point of discussion one such example was the fact that Mahalo repeats in the clear word and Moses lived nine hundred fifty years I’d appreciate it if miss Monica would comment on this particular point mm-hmm hundred and fifty years oh yeah okay but no live nine hundred and fifty years yeah well I would think what was who is for how talking to and what was their understanding was it a cultural or traditional understanding or scriptural understanding that Noah lived nine hundred and fifty years and no mera Szabo fossil states that the manifestations don’t argue with people about their historical understandings so you know abdu l-bahá says looked at the historical record what kind of a historical record do we have on Noah none so yes so I don’t know I certainly can’t answer the question but I think that we should all consider very heavily that the manifestation of God talks to people where they’re at yeah so one question would be who is bahala talking to and what are their

understandings yeah I think I agree with you and there’s also the interesting common in the GaN that baha’u’llah himself says that after some event occurs Noah is left with and he gives two different numbers for the number of followers he doesn’t give one number and says well he only had so many followers idiot had either this number of followers or that number of followers so he’s even noting that the traditions don’t agree on the number of followers so it shows he’s actually including all the variations of the story in that case right he’s not going to choose one side over another side of these conflicting traditions you know it’s not the point isn’t to get the historical fact right the point is the spiritual teaching when we’re to go with that yeah right Vijaya says Wow thank you for providing such enlightening ways to view our stories and myths this makes it easier to reconsider other stories and myths of the various world’s religions thank you for a wonderful presentation thank you can from Facebook one person says John John Griffin I remember reading some time ago linear Zabul Fazal wrote on this issue explaining the de manifestations speak in the language that people can understand and times they use passages from past religious scriptures that are well known to people not from historical point of view move down a little bit but to emphasize certain important spiritual principles so I think that’s precisely in the comment you made yes yes and so we have quotes from Abdul Mohammed stayed the exact same thing Marisa al Faisal goes into it quite a bit in miracles and metaphors and it I was on the search for some time it’s like okay well Meera Syal Fazal stated that about after Baja and so then and they found those references Betty mentions that on slide 20 shouldn’t we refer to daily lessons received at akka as Pilgrim’s notes mm-hmm yeah I mentioned that was a recorded uh pterence of abdu l-bahá and you know I asked the actually the review office about that if this could be cited in a paper and they said yes as long as you mentioned that it was a recorded uh pterence no so even though his promulgation of universal foods right not not an authoritative English between the written tablets and the and the recorded utterance mm-hmm Paul says curious if album aha referred to the exodus narrative during the somewhat extensive time he spent in Egypt in the book album behind Egypt not yet translated into English does anybody know if he refers to the narrative the exodus narrative when he was in Egypt and I I have no idea I don’t know either you know he might not have much it depends on how much as mentioned in Islamic sources he’s mostly talking to a Muslim audience he might not be as inclined to mention it as if he were talking to a Christian or Jewish audience because they would be more familiar with the story and I know how much is used in Islamic texts yeah there’s there’s about a dozen or so references to the Israelites under a tyrannical pharaoh in the Quran oh there we go so that helps that’s very helpful let’s see quotation from the agon I’ll hear so here’s a comment by Roger the Book of Daniel there the question of the historical account is tangled up with a question of prophecy the book claims to have been written at the time of Darius yet some of the ancient history wrong and is remarkably accurate and detailed about some prophecies of a period about a few hundred years around the beginning the Common Era its prophecies continued into the future and on the basis of a lot of Christian and Baha’i traditions you have any comments about the Book of Daniel that’s a big question I know actually it’s a really interesting problem I I think what he’s saying is that if if it’s not as accurate as we think then how our reliable are the prophecies and at end I suppose the answer to that has a lot to do with which prophecies are being referred to by our album aha and is there endorsing a particular chest saying it has a certain meaning that it’s an authoritative interpretation as opposed to an interpretation by us right to offer authoritative interpretation we

can’t do right so not really the Book of Daniel but really to all the biblical texts we so there’s various understandings of sources in Daniel it’s like you know were they written by Daniel how many people contributed to the Book of Daniel or to the other books so I mean for a long time people thought well mark wrote the Gospel of Mark but through biblical criticism and the study ancient literature or what whining is that many of these books have numerous offers numerous sources that gone through process of editing over time and however that the gate importance because the Baha’i writings still am as religious scripture however the focus is on the spiritual meaning not to get up in like a a fundamentalist type insistence on it being actual so whoever wrote it but I wouldn’t in time they wrote it hold spiritual truth and they worth our attention for how long Abdul wahap our reference any of that scripture the writer the Cardinal in everything isn’t as important as the house has confirmed that they have Roger continues to clarify what he meant he says the significance of seeing divine presence as embedded in history as a comma is the common theme I’m trying to get out and I think we certainly agree with that yes so that’s the golden thread one of the truths that are contained in these sort of events happened yes there was the divine presence don’t let’s see another Facebook comment has been forwarded to me from su mo in this day in this age to use modern-day technology as a metaphor Mike the revelation of Allah be seen as an opportunity to refresh the page you know how when you sit on ctrl R when you’re on a web page and you refresh your web page an interesting idea yeah I kind of like it too you know there’s a lot of references to Pharaoh in the Baha’i writings and in numerous references to the oppression of the Israelites and they’re there for a reason now they they’re there for us to to gain the teachings from these ancient stories they wouldn’t be referenced unless they were they were worthy and and held important spiritual meanings I think that’s very true let’s see one of the questions I think that’s all the questions we have so far from the from the audience I’m sure we’ll have some ah has an element method odd says if the revealed text is in accordance with the understanding of the people of that age what would explain the very complex and perplexing language of the Bible as it was given to the people interesting well let’s go to the statement from the house of Justice that we looked at that things are written for people at the time and also for centuries to come so just because they’re written at a certain level of understanding doesn’t mean that there aren’t broader meanings to come forth that’s that’s one way to look at it another way well yeah so you could people however people understood things literally or understood things through parables or stories then in and perhaps things seem to be impossible to understand the scripture is not for just one time so it’s for it is delivered for everyone for the consumption of those immediately listening and also for centuries to come so I don’t know I think of it as a mine of inestimable value yes that’s a good a good way of putting it I think and I think that you know I think it’s worth to point out to Mary Todd also that language can be complex and perplexing

for any age even our age and maybe reveal that way intentionally and then for some of the understandings are clearer now than they were in the past that doesn’t mean that we’ve exhausted them all either there may be more meanings the future generations will discover there absolutely I mean I can’t imagine the story of the exodus ever going out of date I mean it has timeless universal value and whatever science may show in the future about what did or didn’t happen in 13 BC it’s it’s a incredible story and it has relevance really for all of our lives James very true shallow asks are there any historical references to the person of Moses or the person of Jesus there is historical references in the historical record to the person of Jesus in my understanding I have have not read anything that shows that there is historical record of Moses outside of the Bible there’s there’s no extra biblical mention of Moses to my understanding from what I’ve read and of course things can change quickly yeah we could always find something – is my understanding – there is I’m not aware of any extra biblical references to Moses and the extra biblical references to Jesus are all a century later there are no contemporary references to Jesus not you know within his lifetime or within say that first generation they’re all second century from what I have seen anyway because what do we have in in the Hebrew Scripture but the massive person of Moses it’s massive so people are still looking yeah and consider Freud’s interpretation of the whole story which was by I think our modern standards utterly shocking that it’s actually a gigantic Oedipus complex that story and the Israelite people actually killed Moses and then because they killed him in their guilt they made him into a prophet which is certainly a crazy interpretation it’s not it’s let’s just say not one of the high points of phrase career he’s not remembered much for that particular one I should also say that there are reference to Moses in the first century in Josephus but we think that they’re not they’ve been tampered with by the Christians because they’re not this one place where just Josephus – supposedly says Jesus was the Messiah and he clearly didn’t believe that from the rest of the stuff in his book so we suspected that particular reference to Jesus was either added to the book or was tampered by the Christians later unfortunately you know it’s interesting that in the secret of divine civilization abdu’l-bahá states he that he’s going to be speaking conformably to the people’s understanding and then he talks about the story of the Israelites and the Exodus and then a little farther along in the story there’s a change he says and it is a matter of the historical record that and he shifts into things that do have extra biblical historical record which is the the time of Darius and King Cyrus and the the advancements of the Israelites and things like that but yeah I read that secret of divine civilization very interesting how he kind of makes a change from km speaking conformably and now I’m speaking according to the historical record right it’s very obvious there’s plenty of information about Darius and such in the Greek sources that’s that’s you know well-established in fact it’s very little of the Persian sources about Darius and Cyrus I think it’s the Greek sources that have preserved that part of Persian history the best and then Paul mantle adds that he’s wanted to make clear to everybody that he’s referring to the book about Alba and visa in Egypt that so he’ll Bush really put together before he passed away et says this I often I’m often thinking that how the persian historian completely ignored the history of the coming of the bob and bahá’u’lláh and even changed what happened because the person historians often in 1000 years of people may say the event of the face and my literature is not according to the historians at the time is the possibility and the scientists is it possible of the people of that day similarly just didn’t get it and ii didn’t write it down i think it’s the point yeah you know that journalistic history is we know it is a

fairly new phenomenon i mean they’re so of course then in Egypt people were writing down stuff that happened and what they just I don’t know Mirza Abul Fazal states it’s unimaginable so yeah that’s why I think if anything happened it was a very small group of people leaving a few hundred people a thousand people something like that leaving being chased by a small detachment of the Egyptian army then disappeared something like that that you know could easily be the nucleus of the story and could avoid recording cuz it was so small that’s yeah is ever gonna disclose exactly what did or didn’t happen yeah we need a time machine I’m afraid to be sure to argue about it it’s not because it from a Baha’i perspective it’s not about the historical fact I mean after Baha makes it very clear that biblical scriptures to be understood for its inner meaning and it may include historical fact but weird to look to the spiritual meaning so it’s you know we are relieved of that argument and it is a relief I have friends who teach science biology and chemistry and earth science at the University and they have people who were very literal fundamentalist Christian young people come and now they’re studying biology and they’re studying earth science and what they’re learning in science is conflicting with what they understood there with their religious teachings and it and then people can lose faith they can lose faith in God because it undermines their literal fundamentalist understanding and happily in the Baha’i faith we are not not bothered by that it’s like we can love the scripture we can appreciate the scripture we can honor the stories as Scripture and they don’t have to with science because it’s you know that there is a difference between science and religion they can be harmonious but we don’t have to look to our religious texts the ancient religious texts for historical fact right I think that’s very well put and indeed that is the dilemma of a lot of young people of conservative Christian background I know I know a few of them man a friend of mine who teaches as an evangelical college tells me stories exactly like that of people not knowing how to keep their faith and to believe in in these stories you know and for us we can believe in them in a spiritual sense because that’s the true value of them without having to worry about historical detail ok we have another comment here let’s see how does this work oh my god against us thank you very much this lecture has been one of the most illuminating lectures on the understanding of the language of the Bible and sha Allah says Muslim school textbooks tried to prevent any mention of the Bob and Mahalo law except that they murdered the bobbin and destroyed his rebellion and yes that’s precisely true that the the Iranian tests were intentionally distorting the history or prevent pretending that it never happened at all that’s true yes so I mean there are those who think well this did happen but because it was such an embarrassment to the Pharaoh he destroyed every record of it or wouldn’t allow it to be recorded who knows yeah and there’s no way of being able to be sure I don’t see any other message is right off hand I’m trying to see if anyone else has any other comments but we’ve certainly had a good collection today of questions and comments and I think we’ve been able to explore the different dimensions of this particular account and the spiritual side of it quite quite nicely