A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament mentions how Exodus does not name Pharaoh. In Egyptian “Pharaoh” means “Great House.” In Hebrew, it means, “rupture, rift, tear, split.” Pharaoh is the one who ruptures and destroys. He is oppressor. A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament mentions how pharaoh represents the cosmic destroyer, the chaos from the beginning of time.
Gregory Bateson first used the term, “Double Bind,” which describes what Pharaoh was doing. “הָבָה נִתְחַכְּמָה,” “Come, deal shrewdly.” Torah does not tell us how Pharaoh did this, but Double Bind theory does. Abusers start the double-bind relationship by giving gifts or privileges. The primary injunction is, “You should like what you are getting from me!” When the victim accepts, victimization occurs. The secondary injunction is, “I am punishing you! If the victim shows any resistance, “You should have escaped from me earlier,” serve as the third level injunction.
“Pharaoh told Joseph, “Settle your father and brothers in the pick of the land. Let them settle in the region of Goshen.” The Jewish people get the pick of the land, delta, and put sheep on it. The sheep probably despoiled the land, and when they did, victimization began. “We gave you the best of the land, and you despoiled it.” “You chose to be here.”
Genesis tells us the Hebrew people were shepherds. “All shepherds were abhorrent to the Egyptians.” Genesis 47 also relates how Joseph first impoverished and then enslaved the Egyptians, “Look, you did it to us first.” Jewish people could leave any time they wanted to. Moses left and found his way to Sinai. Aaron left as well. 1 Maccabees 7 relates how Rome came into Israel at the request of the Jewish people. Many times in history, people and nations have fallen for the double bind. Pharaoh received free-swimming lessons for his use of the tactic.
A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament tells us, “The Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, deceived pharaoh.” How many people know the names of the nurses present when they were born? How many people know the names of the nurses present when their leaders were born? Compare this with the total absence of any mention of the name of Pharaoh’s daughter.
The midwives saved thousands of lives at the risk of their own. Pharaoh’s daughter saved one life, and only when Moses’ humanity presented itself to her through the reeds. The consequences of oppression are not limited to the oppressors but extend to those the oppression benefitted. It is a harsh lesson to those who think avoidance of direct oppression of others is enough to allow them to avoid culpability. Shiphrah and Puah are directly compared to Pharaoh’s daughter to put in bold face the absence of Pharaoh’s daughter’s name. Pharaoh’s daughter, by not confronting her father with his failures, by only saving one, is not worthy of direct mention.
As Zechariah mentions in his song, God saves us for a purpose:
He promised through the mouth of his dedicated prophets from of old, salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to show mercy to our fathers and to be mindful of his dedicated Social Contract. This is the oath Sheva, (as in Elizabeth) he swore to E Pluribus Unum or father, to grant us that, rescued from the hand of enemies, we might give public service. λατρεύειν (from where we derive our word, liturgy) to him without fear in divine completion/ὁσιότητι and צֶדֶקה before him all our days.”
All of the Jewish understanding of this key צֶדֶקה comes from Deuteronomy 5:1-7 and Deuteronomy 6:4-9, the Shema, or the Jewish Creed.
Moses summoned all those who struggle with God and told them, Hear, you who struggle with God, the customs and correct judicial precedents (That which come from the lips שְׁפָּטִ) which I proclaim in your hearing, this day, that you may learn them and guard to do them. The Personal Name our Almighty Judge cut a Social Contract with us at Sword. Not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Social Contract, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day… I am the Personal Name your Almighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of מִצְרַיִם out of the house of menial labor.”
מִצְרַיִם is related to the Hebrew word for Leprosy and the Hebrew word for a wasp. They are both oppressive. מִצְרַיִם means oppression and stands for any force, cosmic or otherwise, which oppresses us. A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament is correct in pointing out how Pharaoh and Egypt stand for the same.
For part one, please click here.
For part 3 please click here.
 Brueggemann, Walter; Petersen, David L.; Fretheim, Terence E.; Birch, Bruce C. (2010-03-01). A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: 2nd Edition (p. 103). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.
 Brueggemann, Walter; Petersen, David L.; Fretheim, Terence E.; Birch, Bruce C. (2010-03-01). A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: 2nd Edition (p. 111). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.