Who was Pharoah representing/invoking w/ Moses

I got this question from a friend today: “serious question - when Moses and Pharaoh were having their show down, who was Pharaoh representing/invoking?”

My first thought was that the enemy of this world has powers too, but obviously not greater than God’s.

My friend is a Unitarian Universalist. thank you

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Hi Kathleen.
This is actually a really good question. I have only just started looking into this myself, so my understanding of Ancient Egyptian religion is minimal - but I never let my ignorance get in the way of having an opinion :laughing:.

Ancient Egypt was a polytheistic world, with a plethora of deities. As far as I can gather, the religion was an evolving one, so as the dynasties passed, the gods changed, developed and even amalgamated.

That said, it is my understanding that Ra (also sometimes called Amun Ra) was known the ‘Father of the gods’ and was the ‘big boss’ if you like. His name also appears in Pharaoh’s title - Pha-RA-oh. He was also known as ‘the sun god’, which is why it was so significant that one of the 10 plagues was 3 days of darkness. Ra, the sun god, was powerless against YHWH. All of the plagues were direct assaults upon the gods of Egypt who were powerless to resist (Exodus 12:12).
In modern times, we tend to think that the Egyptians were really worshipping empty space - there was no substance behind their idols. However, the fact that the magicians were able to replicate (to some degree) the works of YHWH suggests that there were supernatural forces behind the gods. (I find it really interesting that the magicians could copy YHWH’s plagues, but couldn’t reverse or stop them!) Paul writes that those sacrificing to idols are actually sacrificing to demons (1 Corinthians 10:20).

It is also my understanding that Pharaohs considered themselves to be divine and were the ultimate go between for the people and the gods.
They were responsible for ensuring prosperity and plenty for the people. Something that was proved categorically untrue through the plagues.

One last thing I have come across in my limited research (so far) is that the snake was a symbol of power and protection (interesting when you consider what the serpent is in the Bible). You have probably seen Tutenkhamun’s famous mask with the snake head band. So, it was not simply that a staff is long and thin and snakes are long and thin, therefore it made sense to turn Moses’ staff into a snake. It was another direct challenge to Egyptian belief. Moses’ snake ate up the magician’s snakes - showing that their symbol of power and protection would not save them from what was to come.
Like I said, I am just starting out on this area of study, so would love to hear from others and be pointed resources - especially if I’ve been barking up the wrong tree!

I am also really interested to know how you came to discuss this topic with your friend and what their thoughts are and also what you think.

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Wow, your knowledge quite surpasses mine.

This friend is from high school and we have been friends for decades. We spar on may things. I think I am the only Christian she knows. This question was on a FB thread in response to a comment I made that 2020 seemed like the year of the plagues (in my house alone this year we have had floods, vermin, and spotted lanternflies(outside), and my brother in law just lost his firstborn son). tragic. Anyway, she started a separate group for us to discuss things mainly bc of a reference I made to Ravi’s “meaning, morality, Origin and Destiny” comments . She found them intriguing.

I am truly trying to answer the questioner, not the question with her. I suppose I could ask her what she thinks before I attempt an answer.

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Good job, @Keith_Moore - I think you are understating your excellent answer - taught me a thing or two - the snake insight, that was really good - thanks!

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I will agree with what @Keith_Moore has said about the reality behind what appears to be idols of wood and stone. I have heard testimonies from those who have come out of religions that involved idol worship (very common in India) that there are supernatural powerful personal beings behind these idols. It is foolishness to say, as some Christians are wont to do, that idols are merely wood and stone. Yes, they are wood and stone as Psalm 115:1-8 and Isaiah 2:8 attest, and the Living God we worship is not like them - yet it would be foolishness to dismiss them as mere superstition without understanding that there is a reason why people worship them.

Yes, the enemy has powers too. But that is nothing compared to He who is within us.

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2020 has been a tough year all round, but it seems you’ve been put through the wringer! I’m sorry to hear about your brother-in-law’s loss.
But it was really great that your friend was intrigued by your Ravi reference. I will pray for great conversations to come!

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Thank you. My friend felt validated by her interpretation of the scripture and my contributions so it ended positively. Hopefully there will be future conversations!

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This one is a keeper for my files. Your research might be “limited”, but it is loaded. Thanks, Keith.

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Really great question, @plantaseed. Keith did an amazing job of answering your question. A verse you might want to explore is 2 Tim. 3:8 where Paul names the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses.

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As a Christian I’m no expert on the subject of magic, witchcraft, sorcery, or wizardry, (nor do I need to be) but having seen and experienced profound evil, and after being gobsmacked and thunderstruck by it repeatedly, I’ve studied it a bit to better understand what it is and how it does what it does to come to better understand “what are the elements, techniques and mechanisms evil uses to empower itself and defeat people?”.

As it turns out, many who practice witchcraft and those evil arts trace their formulas and doctrines back to Egypt which had a framework of “nature spirits” integral to its doctrines and philosophy & science, technology & magic.

As I see it, Pharoah’s magicians would have been using this pagan “Nature-Spirit” /science & technology-religion to perform their magic.

The following video is not at all Christian.
The speaker is a pagan alchemist who communicates these things well however…