Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
In response to "Scott delivers epic tale with 'Exodus,'" (Japan Times, Friday, January 30, 2015) I am looking forward to watching Exodus. I am curious to learn how Moses is portrayed getting "demoted from elite Egyptian general to humble shepherd." Accounts in the paper make it sound like a royal family squabble that led to a terminal falling out. It's a theatrical device, of course. In reality, the Book of Exodus in the Bible describes Moses as a fugitive murderer. In addition, when Moses returned to Egypt to petition the pharaoh - never identified as Ramses - on behalf of his people he was already about 80 years old. Young, fit Charlton Heston (in The Ten Commandments,1956) and Christian Bale today are immediate giveaways how the story is re-shaped to appeal to contemporaries. Tales of fugitive murderers don't play well in the corporate boardroom.
“Moses" is an Egyptian, not a Hebrew name. The Pharaoh Ramses can be re-styled as "Ra-moses," "Ra" being the Egyptian sun god, of course.
I am interested in seeing how other aspects of Moses are portrayed: that he was a stutterer; that he suffered radiation burns on his face requiring him to conceal his face behind a veil much of his latter life; that the cult of Yahweh he led was very much a family thing. With the help of his brother Aaron and sister, Miriam Moses imposed his family cult on the Hebrew people, like a cadre of conspirators. Dissenters were murdered and buried in the desert.
Muslim objections to the film for its deviation from scripture are dismissible since the film is based on a privately written script, not on scripture, which seems to be a distinction lost on many Muslims. But I do sympathize with complaints that the ancient Egyptians are not being portrayed as the Africans they were.
So much has happened in history - conquest and inter-breeding - that I reject easy portrayals of modern Egyptians as the pedigreed descendants of the ancient Egyptians. Similarly, I reject portrayals of modern Italians as the descendants of the ancient Romans.