4. Ancient Egyptian leadership

After diner we always read a children’s bible with our kids. We where reading about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and came to the story of the worship of the golden calf. Reading this story made me think; What did the Israelite’s possibly think a leaders role should be? What does a leader do? And as I read that Moses was trained in pharaohs schools, it sounds possible to me that he also was trained with those leadership roles in mind. But maybe he learned even more during the period in the desert with Jethro.Than I asked myself: How did Moses learn about the worship of Jahweh, his God. It is possible that he learned it of his parents. The bible specifically says he was raised with an Egyptian education. But on the other hand he proudly associated himself with the Hebrews with risk of his reputation. Of course at this time there was not much written down about how God wanted worship to be. There is just not much known about how Moses got to know God. It always fascinated me that apperently the worship of Jahweh was known to some in this periode between Noah and Moses as the bible mentions two leaders that where priests, i.e. Melchezidec and Jethro. What I noticed is that there is nothing mentioned about Moses talking to God, or not even about moses knowing God before he fled from Egypt. As he tried to help the Israelites with his human strength. Did moses know God at all when he fled from Egypt? Or did he just felt proud of his Israelite culture and felt he should help them? We will probably never find out. Likewise we do not know if the Israelites themselves had a deeper knowledge of God and how He wants to be worshiped. The faith that Abraham, Isaak and Jacob thought their children was mainly based on their personal encounter with God. So when Moses fled Egypt he was a well trained egyptian leader. But his life changed dramatically. He ended up helping his father-in-law with shepherding the sheep. The bible says Jethro was a leader and priest of ‘the most high’ (according to dr Constible in his expository notes). When Moses encounters God in the burning bush he seems to know who God is and how to worship him. Is it possible that Moses learned all about worshiping God from his father-in-law Jethro? We will probably never know for sure, but to me it is a completely new thought that I never heard before and it sounds as if it where possible.

The next thing I discovered came up when I was reading the incident with the golden calf. I started wondering what the role of a leader was in Egypt and how the Israelites experienced leadership of the Egyptians. According to the ESV study bible the exodus of Israel from Egypt was either 12th or the 14th century b.c. which qualifies a number of pharaohs of the 18th and 19th dynasty of the New Kingdom period of Egypt (Wiki: Pharaohs in the book of exodus). According to historians the pharaoh had two roles. He was both the political leader with absolute power and the religious head responsible for worship of the many gods. “He not only controlled the Egyptians’ mortal lives on earth, but he also helped them in the afterlife. These religious beliefs gave the pharaoh great power over his subjects” (historylink101.com => pharaoh). “the Pharaoh was not only the King (political ruler) but also a god. The Pharaoh was associated with Horus, son of Ra the sun god. Later it was believed that at death he became Osiris, or an Osiris, and would help the Egyptians in their afterlife” (historylink101.com => religion). So Pharaoh had a direct connection to God and decided how worship should be done, and he also gave the laws and rules of life. And I did not dig in the matter deeply, but there also was a practice of worshipping sacred cows that was associated somehow with pharaohs. “Ceremonial burials of bulls indicate that ritual sacrifice was part of the worship of the early cow deities and a bull might represent a king who became a deity after death” (Taken from Bible-History.com-> Apis). This sheds a completely different light on what the israelites did in worshipping the golden calf. Maybe they thought Moses as their political and religious leader and figured he died on the mountain. All they saw was that moses disapeared in a thunderstorm on a mountain and after a month still did not show up. Maybe they just did what they knew, i.e. worship the cow to help their died leader into afterlife. For if I look at the role Moses had at that time it appears that he had a similar role as pharaoh did (i.e. leader of politics, army and religion).

Jethro was a priest and prince of the most high God. Maybe the second period of 40 years in the desert where even more important than the first 40years for Moses. Maybe he learned how to be with God, how to worship Him in daily life. Maybe that’s where he learned to be a messenger from God, a Priest.

Maybe instead of running into ministries, projects, evangelism and different ways to have a busy life, I should spend some years in a desert with God. Maybe it’s better that I learn to worship with Him before teaching it to others. Maybe it´s better that I learn to hear and listen to His voice before preaching to others. Maybe God is more interested in our character and walk with God than in the great results we produce in our busy life. Maybe I should learn to Be a follower of Christ before Doing things for Him.


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