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Made You Think

Sep 14, 2022

"The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land."

Welcome back to another episode of Made You Think! In this episode, Neil and Nat discuss the next book on their Great Books Project: the book of Exodus. We pick up from where we left off in Genesis and dive into the many key themes of Exodus as Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt.

We cover a wide range of topics including:

  • Exodus as the origin story of Judaism
  • Exclusionary vs. inclusionary nations 
  • Operating systems for building a successful community
  • Connections between the Code of Hammurabi and Exodus
  • Early human civilizations in the 2nd millenium BC

And much more. Please enjoy, and make sure to follow NatNeil, and Adil on Twitter and share your thoughts on the episode.

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(0:12) In today's episode, we're continuing the Great Book Series with Exodus. If you haven't checked out our previous episodes from our book list, make sure to go check out Epic of Gilgamesh and Genesis!

(4:23) When reading stories that have stood the test of time, there has to be some reason for their significance. Even without the religious aspect to it, they wouldn’t have been passed along or written down if they weren’t important in some way. 

(8:52) What is a nation? Some nations are very closed and exclusionary where you can’t become a member or citizen. The U.S. is a more missionary-type nation that allows people to become citizens even if they were not born here.

(12:36) A more exclusionary type of nation can often lead to a higher quality of life. Conversely, if you let more people in, there would be less resources for all. An open society that is also highly supportive with enough resources, is it possible to have both? 

(17:13) Genesis ends with all the sons of Israel going to Egypt and settling there, however they’re living there enslaved. God communicates to Moses to get his people out of Egypt. When we think about why the story of Exodus has persisted through the years, one of the main themes that gets discussed is the fear of God aspect that was shown to the Israelites and Egyptians through the plagues.

(20:04) The 10 plagues. There were locusts, hail, and disease which were likely interconnected as one thing leads to the next. However, at this particular time there may not have been a realization that these are connected, and instead, the people saw them all as individual plagues. 

(25:58) Much of the story has a narrative style until we reach the chapters stating God's law. When we go back to thinking about how this was passed down orally for potentially hundreds of years, these stories and laws may have been told differently at one point and these were the parts that settled and got written down.

(31:22) The Old Testament provides a layer of ethics for others to follow, and it was a huge advancement to not take one wrongdoing and kill someone over it but rather to punish them for what it is they’ve done. If you have a society that escalates violence, it will always become more and more violent.

(34:57) There’s an element of the story where God is a protector to the Israelites, and although they were enslaved in Egypt, they were ultimately able to be led out of there through Him.

(37:24) Monotheism and polytheism. In the text, other gods are being referenced, and those other gods are depicted as merely false idols made up by the enemy or misinterpretations. Genesis starts with Adam and Eve, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the start of the whole world, rather just where this story and Jewish history begins.

(43:05) Many developments happened in the areas of Israel, Egypt, and Babylonia around this time. It could have also been that they had the means of documenting their stories where other areas didn’t. Nat and Neil discuss these very early on civilizations and cities.

(49:39) The dates and timeline of some historical events can be really surprising. It’s hard to wrap our heads around the fact that the world was way less interconnected than it is today. We live in a time where everything has already been explored and accounted for.

(53:51) Western culture tends to be more isolated whereas other cultures tend to be more communal. It’s common for people who come to the US to feel lonely compared to their home country. Operating systems for building a successful community with longevity.

(59:10) Kosher laws and its importance. Not all of these laws have held up today, for example not eating shell fish and pork. This was also an era before refrigeration. The language 'eye for an eye' and 'tooth for a tooth' is vastly similar to the Code of Hammurabi. Did Hammurabi come up with the idea and the surrounding areas adopted it or was it already a fairly widespread idea at the time?

(1:02:16) It can be challenging to judge the intent of someone’s actions, so often times it’s judged by the outcomes of their actions. Neil gives an example. Charging and collecting interest on debts. The burden of the responsibility falls on the lender where they have to be sure they make a good decision about who they lend money to.

(1:08:54) Laws are a big theme in Exodus, this includes laws on the regulation of slavery. As Moses led them out of slavery in Egypt, they provide some basic human rights for people coming out of slavery. There’s also the idea of a covenant, which is an agreement between the people and God. If you follow it, you get rewarded. If you don’t follow it, you get consequences.

(1:13:18) The idea of canceling debt every 7 years in the Bible. Would that work in practice? Nat and Neil share their final thoughts on Exodus and how it compared in their minds to Genesis.

(1:17:38) Thanks for listening! Next on our book list is Iliad by Homer. Make sure to stay tuned and check out our list of what's next. You can catch our previous 2 episodes of the Great Book Series here - Epic of Gilgamesh and Genesis.

If you enjoyed this episode, let us know by leaving a review on iTunes and tell a friend. As always, let us know if you have any book recommendations! You can say hi to us on Twitter @TheRealNeilS@adilmajid@nateliason and share your thoughts on this episode.

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Thanks for listening. See you next time!