Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, ‘Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.’ Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labour. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labour. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.
Reflection by Janet Derby
Reading this passage, it is certainly understandable why African American church congregations relate to the story of the Exodus. The Egyptians, because of fear of the “other”, become cruel and inhumane. Yet, as my grandmother used to say, “the chickens came home to roost”. God’s redemptive power enable the Israelites to escape this oppressive situation. We in the United States continue to have to confront our sinful oppression of people of color. While progress has been made, we have a long way to go. We in the church need to be in the forefront of this effort.
Liberating God, help us to be aware that the downtrodden are your precious children. May we always recognize the oppressive powers in our world and to rebel against them. Amen.