This Story Was Troubling

The crossing of the Red Sea is a well known Old Testament story. The Israelites made it through the Red Sea ahead of the Egyptian army pursuing them. God provided a dry path for the children of Israel to cross the sea but then once they were all safely across, ” Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea and the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained.”

That’s the story in Exodus 14. 

My story figures during my telling of the story.

Story figures during my telling of the story.

I’m teaching Sunday School to elementary age children and some of the Old Testament stories in the curriculum are troubling. I didn’t find them troubling as a child, but I do now.  All those Egyptian soldiers dying because God threw them into the sea somehow doesn’t sync with the loving God I want to believe in.

When I was telling the story I said the wave had thrown the Egyptians into the sea and I left out the fact that everyone had drowned.  One child piped up though and said something like, “They all died didn’t they?”   The kids knew. 

The theologian who writes the Biblical commentary for the curriculum we are using, suggests we tell these Exodus stories in a way that identifies with the Egyptians and grieves with them in their suffering rather than taking any sort of  delight in it.  Good advice but in the book of Exodus the Israelites dance and sing after the Egyptians die. They are pretty delighted. 

The Red Sea story is no more violent than some of the fairy tales children read, or the plot in many pieces of classic literature, so why did I feel I needed to try and white wash it ? 

Other posts ……..

Taking Teens to Israel and Palestine

Noah A Violent Movie About A Violent Story

Anne of Green Gables- A Faith Perspective

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Filed under Childhood, Education, israel, Religion

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