Pharaoh to the God of the Israelites, 13th Century B.C.E.

What's the deal with burning bushes? I dunno, maybe you should ask the Pharaoh's wife! *Badum Tisch*

Dear God of the Israelites,

We regret to inform you that your recent request to “let your people go” has been rejected. While we found your application interesting and creative, we have decided to  continue to enslave and mistreat the Hebrews, which ultimately is a lot more fun than not.

Per your recent transformation of all of the water in the land into blood, we are seeking reparations for damages to clothing, papyrus records, etc. It is predictably challenging to remove blood from fabric, and we expect you’ll take full responsibility for this one. While your submission to our ongoing Get The Pharaoh To Do Something He Doesn’t Want To Contest was impressive, we’re also expecting you to cover medical bills for the lice and boils, and expenses for replacing the dead cattle, repairing hail damage, getting rid of the wild beasts, etc. etc.

While it may not be exactly what you hoped for, your prophet’s powerful magic has not gone unnoticed and we would be pleased to offer him a position here at the palace as palace jester. I especially enjoyed the one where his snake ate all the other snakes. I need a laugh or two; being Pharaoh is not easy.

Finally, if you think a little darkness is going to impress us, you’re going to have to do better. Your move, God.


The Pharaoh


Jewish scholars were thrilled when this letter was discovered in a linen closet in downtown Alexandria. Written on papyrus with accurate Hieroglyphs for the period, this letter was believed to finally put the matter of Israelite slavery in Egypt to bed. The letter was immediately displayed in the British Museum, and various papers, both historical and theological, were published analyzing what such a discovery meant to not only Jews, but to all people worldwide. And although some historians expressed skepticism at what appears to be an advertisement for Volvo on the back, the letter was deemed credible.

Scholars have always been curious about the plagues of Egypt. Specifically, why did God choose ten? As the letter shows, Egyptians were pretty nonchalant about most of the plagues. It was not uncommon in rainy seasons for the Nile to run red with blood due to the mating habits of hippos downriver; in fact, Egyptians had long been growing crops which were fortified with blood by the 13th Century. And although the lice and boils were annoying, Egyptian medicine was advanced enough to prescribe copious quantities of mead, which would have made this plague more spring break than biblical catastrophe. Obviously, the killing of the firstborns would have been serious, but scholars remain confused as to why God didn’t just start with this plague rather than waste everyone’s time with the first nine. As it stood, most Egyptians viewed the red paint on Jewish doors as support for the local ball club, who had recently advanced to the championship against Cairo. Many joined in the celebration, and in the end the plague really only affected supporters of the Cairo Asps. Still, Medieval rabbis felt it best to leave the whole plague business in the Haggadah, since the plagues and “Dayenu” are the only things that get the kids to sit still for five minutes during the Seder.

The Pharaoh (or more likely, his secretary, Mrs. Worthington-Ra) was probably joking when he referred to Moses as having all the tools to be a jester, since the Pharaoh would have been well-acquainted with Moses’ various abilities from their time as sworn brothers. That said, Moses did actually dabble in stand-up and improv comedy in his 20s. There are clerical records of a group called “The Sphinx’s Nose” performing at the “Giza Guffaw-amid,” which state that “although the show started strong, the second half was marred by an insistence on repetitive jokes about crocodiles humping and a rude bit about several members of the Pharaoh’s harem. Only Mr. Moses and his brother Alan (sic) held the crowd with their wonderful ‘two high priests buying fruit from a woman’ routine.” Although rarely mentioned in the Torah, performing a comedy routine is considered a mitzvah by most rabbis, though with the qualification that improv really only counts if someone in the audience laughs.


1 Comment

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One response to “Pharaoh to the God of the Israelites, 13th Century B.C.E.

  1. This is good as far as it goes but this pandering to the audience has gone on long enough. If the writer says a bit is funny then it’s funny, no matter what the morons in the audience think. If they don’t like it, let them go listen to some Henny Youngman schtick-maven in the Katzkills.

    — Aaron (on behalf of both Moses and Aaron)

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