ARTB Bible Blog 1.10.11 Pharaoh's triple cruelty
Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, "Cast any son born to the Nile, but save alive all the daughters." (Exodus 1:22, ARTB)
A note from A. Frances Werner:
I recently was reading Sugar Changed the World by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos (2010). In it, I began to see the power of the notion of ABADDON (being lost forever in a watery grave) for other cultures as recently as the 1800's. The authors describe that in British Guiana, the owners were contracting with Hindu people from India for a 5-year contract plus passage back:
For a person from India, going overseas was not a simple matter. Once you crossed the "black water" of the surrounding oceans, you were said to have "gone to tapu." You no longer had any place in your village and could not be accepted back until you went through a special ceremony. Leaving India truly meant giving up your home..."
Outright fear of ABADDON has been non-existent for centuries in Christian cultures because of a knowledge of the saving power of God Almighty. The cultures of northern Europe had reasonable fear crossing the ocean, but they were quick to leave the homeland for opportunity in the Americas. But this has led me to underestimate the influence of ABADDON, and to be blind to it.
Now, when I examine passages like this in Exodus, I'm struck with the triple cruelty of the Pharaoh's actions. Not only was he killing the sons of Israel, but by throwing them into the Nile, he was specifically taking away a proper burial, and was consigning them to ABADDON without an ABYDOS, a funeral boat. Finally, the third cruelty is that they would VANISH forever, with no place of remembrance by having a gravesite.
The midwives that ignored Pharaoh's order did a far bigger work than I have understood. Selah.