Posts tagged ‘Egypt’

In the Book of Exodus in the Bible, Moses’ first meeting with god is described. God tells Moses to call the Israelites together and to lead them out of Egypt. Moses answered:

“But,” objected Moses, “suppose they will not believe me, nor listen to my plea? For they may say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’ (Exodus 4:1)

In response, God gave Moses a sign that would convince the Israelites that Moses had truly seen God.

If someone told you that he or she had seen God, would you believe them? What kind of sign would convince you?

According to the Bible, God promised to deliver the Jews from slavery in Egypt. Directed by God, Moses asked the pharaoh to release the Jews. The pharaoh refused. God then sent ten plagues to the Egyptians; Jews were not affected by the plagues.

First, the water in the Nile turned to blood. Then a wave of frogs covered the land. Next the dust of the earth was changed into gnats, which attacked people and animals. In the fourth plague, swarms of flies filled the air. Then came a disease that killed the Egyptians’ livestock. Next the Egyptians suffered from painful boils. In the seventh plague, severe hail killed people and animals. Then came locusts, which ate any crops that survived the hail. The ninth plague brought three days of utter darkness, so that people could not see to move around. In the tenth plague, the firstborn sons in all Egyptian homes died. Finally, the pharaoh agreed to let the Jews leave Egypt.

The pharaoh refused to let the Jews leave until the tenth plague. How do you think ordinary Egyptians felt about this? Imagine living through plague after plague. Would you want to keep the Jews in Egypt, or let them go?

Around the end of the 600s, Spain’s Christian rulers outlawed Judaism. Then, in 711, the Moors invaded, and Spain became part of a vast Islamic empire. Under Moorish rule, Spain became a centre of Jewish learning and culture, with Jewish poets, philosophers, and statesmen. This period was known as the Jewish Golden Age in Spain.

Two thinkers of this period were Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) and Moses ben Nachman (1194-1270).

Moses Maimonides was born in Spain and moved to Cairo in 1165. In Egypt, he spent a great deal of time studying the Talmud. Maimonides focused on the human intellect. He wrote about the importance of studying, the “work of the mind.”

Moses ben Nachman – also known as Nachmanides – spent most of his life in Spain, moving to Israel just a few years before his death. Like Maimonides, Nachmanides was both a physician and a Talmud scholar. However, Nachmanides wrote that the human soul and spirit were more important than intellect and studying.

Which is more important to you, the intellect or spirit?

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