I’d already taken notes on the Japanese, but forgot the notebook I’d written them in at work, and I was too tired to redo it all last night. I just definitely cannot miss any more days this week!

Both The Ten Commandments and Prince of Egypt struggle a little to come up with why the pharaoh decides to pursue the Israelites. Both play into the heart-hardening idea by using their respective psychological portraits of pharaoh. In The Ten Commandments, Ramses is urged to do it by Nefertiri, who is angry over the death of her son. She points out that he’s losing to Moses again by letting him go, and that’s enough to mobilize him. In The Prince of Egypt, it’s more of a stages of grief idea. Once Ramses is over his shock, he turns the anger stage against Moses, his traitor brother.

Yes, the Bible says that God “harden[s] pharaoh’s heart” (v 4) and “the hearts of the Egyptians” (v 17). But there’s also another obvious explanation for the move: Moses has been lying through his teeth this whole time. Yes, he’s saying “Let me people go” but it’s “Let my people go… worship the LORD for a while, and then we’ll be back, promise.” Once the Egyptians look at the path their taking, it hits them that the Israelites are leaving for good and they’re out of a major labor supply (v 5). This trumps their fear of future divine retribution (at least among the authorities; who knows what the everyman thought?) and off the chariots go.

And for all the talk of hardening the hearts of the Egyptian soldiers, they all plea fairly fervently with pharaoh to turn back (v 25). In fact, didn’t pharaoh’s officials also beg him to let the Israelites go? Clearly ordinary Egyptians are getting the picture much faster than pharaoh.

Prince of Egypt chooses this scene as its grand finale. This makes sense because the central conflict in that movie is Moses caught between the prestige and power of his Egyptian identity, and the suffering and struggle of his Hebrew identity. The crashing walls of water are his final, absolute severing of his ties to Egypt, and his holding the tablets is a sign of his full embrace of his role as leader of the Israelites. I actually agree that this is where that movie should have ended – the Sea of Reeds is the end of the Egyptian Arc of the Bible’s long narrative, and afterwards we enter the Wilderness Arc.

(And yes, it’s the Sea of Reeds. The NRSV continues to use “Red Sea” because that’s traditional, but it’s literally the Sea of Reeds, as the NCT translates it. That’s a reference to the lakes and marshes connecting Sinai to Africa, before the Suez canal. Going to the Red Sea would have been way out of their way.)

The Ten Commandments, on the other hand, decides to continue the story, leading to multiple finales and a real downer ending. I know that this is truer to the Biblical account, but before that the movie had taken great liberties with the story, so why be faithful then? Much of its drama came from the soap opera with Ramses and Nefertiri, and that concludes with the Sea of Reeds. It struggles to get a good villain for its second finale, which I’ll discuss later – much later, since we’ve a long way to go before Mt. Sinai.

The Japanese: temae “near to, this side of” (v 2), fusagu “to block” (v 3), roueki “hard labor” (v 5), hikiiru “to command, to lead” (v 6), erunuki no “the choice, the best” (v 7), ikiyouyou “triumphantly” (v 8), kihei “calvary,” hohei “indantry” (v 9; I could guess the meaning from the characters, but it was my first time encountering either word), haigo “back, rear” (v 10), houtteoku “to leave alone” (v 12), idou suru “to move, to maneuver” (v 19), yoru mo sugara “all night” (v 21), kakimidasu “to agitate, to disturb, to upset” (v 24), taikyaku suru “to retreat” (v 25).

You can see that I’ve started to take the philosophy that if I don’t remember the word, it counts as “new.” Repetition will hopefully aid memorization.

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