Filmsite Movie Review
The Ten Commandments (1956)
Pages: (1) (2) (3) (4)
The Story (continued)

Dathan's Stunning Revelation That Moses Was a Hebrew:

Unfortunately, Joshua's exclamations were overheard by the crafty and devious overseer Dathan who was in hiding. He immediately reported to the palace to inform Prince Rameses - but first, he haggled and bargained for more remuneration for his findings about Baka's murder and the supposed deliverer: "I am poor man, generous one. What I bring is worth much....There are those who would pay much for what my eyes have seen."

Dathan cryptically delayed telling Rameses what he had unearthed about the deliverer: "One who made himself a prince and judge over us." Rameses threatened the over-ambitious Dathan, telling him that if his report was over-played, he would be punished: "If what you say pleases me, I will give you your price, all of it. If not, I will give you the point of this blade through your lying throat." Dathan brought astounding news to Rameses, about the destroyer of Egypt and deliverer of slaves foretold by the "evil star":

The deliverer (long pause) is Moses...Moses is not Egyptian. He's Hebrew. The son of slaves.

As a result of Dathan's incriminating report, he was awarded with Baka's house, possession of the water-girl Lilia, and the governorship of Goshen.

Then on the day of Jubilee, Rameses reported to his father Sethi that the promise of a Deliverer was not a myth. He called his revelations a gift for Sethi's Jubilee celebration. He announced that he had captured the feared and treasonous Hebrew Deliverer:

I have found him in the midst of treachery and treason, with the blood of your master builder red upon his hands.

Moses, who had already been arrested by Rameses, was brought in chains before the incredulous Sethi and other courtiers to confirm Rameses' findings:

Sethi: It is not possible. A prince of Egypt?
Rameses: He is not a prince of Egypt. He is not the son of your sister. He is the son of Hebrew slaves.
Sethi (to Moses): Speak, my son.
Moses: I am the son of Amram and Yochabel. Hebrew slaves.

Bithiah tried to take the blame by confessing to her brother Sethi that she was deceptive when she knowingly took the Hebrew baby Moses from the Nile. He responded in anger by banishing her: "Leave me. I shall not see your face again." Then, Sethi begged for his trusted foster son Moses to explain how he could be the Deliverer, and as a favored son treasonously turn against his father in rebellion by freeing the slaves and causing a revolt. Moses denied being the Hebrews' savior, but stated in a short and passionate speech that he would be compelled to free the oppressed and downtrodden slaves if he had the means:

Sethi: Moses, come to me. I do not care who you are or what you are or what they may say about you, but I want to hear from your own lips that you are not a traitor, that you would not lead these people in revolt against me. Tell me, Moses. I will believe you.
Moses: I am not this deliverer you fear. It would take more than a man to lead the slaves from bondage. It would take a god. But if I could free them, I would.
Sethi: What has turned you against me? From the time my sister brought you to the court, I loved you, reared you, set you before my own son, because I saw in you a worth and a greatness above other men.
Moses: No son could have more love for you than I.
Sethi: Then why are you forcing me to destroy you? What evil has done this to you?
Moses: The evil that men should turn their brothers into beasts of burden, to slave and suffer in dumb anguish, to be stripped of spirit and hope and faith, only because they're of another race, another creed. If there is a God, he did not mean this to be so. What I have done, I was compelled to do.

Reluctantly, the shaken Sethi declared Prince Rameses to be his successor and sole heir, who would also marry the Princess:

Rameses, Egypt shall be yours. Hear what I say, Rameses. When I cross the river of death, you will be Pharaoh in Egypt. Harden yourself against subordinates. Put no faith in a brother. Have no friend. Trust no woman. I protected the helpless, I nourished the orphan....He who ate my bread and called me father would make rebellion against me.

When Rameses asked his father: "What manner of death do you decree for him?", the heart-broken Sethi refused to have Moses killed and left Moses' ultimate fate up to his son:

I cannot speak it. Let it be as you will.

Princess Neferteri begged for Moses' life to be saved and ran forward to hug his feet: "I will not live if you must die!" As Moses was led away from the court, Sethi decreed that Moses, as a "traitor to Pharaoh," would be imprisoned and have his historical memory completely wiped away.

Let the name of Moses be stricken from every book and tablet. Stricken from all pylons and obelisks. Stricken from every monument of Egypt. Let the name of Moses be unheard and unspoken, erased from the memory of men for all time.

Moses' Punishment - Banishment to the Desert:

With his future bride Princess Nefretiri, Rameses visited Moses in chains in the dungeon, to rub in the fact that he would now be possessing Nefretiri as his married Queen: "No, Moses. It is I who will possess all of her." He mocked Nefretiri that he had finally won what he wanted: "You think when you are in my arms, it will be his face you will see, not mine?", and she confirmed her continuing love for Moses: "Yes, only his face."

Rameses declared how Moses had finally been thoroughly defeated: "I defeated you in life. You shall not defeat me by your death." He also reasoned that Moses should not win a minor victory by becoming a martyr to the cause through his death. Therefore, he told Nefertiri that Moses would be punished by death, but would not be executed:

I will not make him a martyr for you to cherish. No phantom will come between you and me in the night. Yes, my sweet. I will let him live. Dead, you alone would possess him. From where I send him there is no returning. And you will never know if he has found forgetfulness within another woman's arms. Now, look upon each other for the last time.

Meanwhile, in Dathan's household, where he was now living a life of luxury in Baka's house (a gift from the Pharaoh), Dathan reminded Lilia how she was his consort: "Joshua wanted you. Baka wanted you. But you belong to me. A gift from Rameses to His Excellency." She begged for him to not take her virginity: "Please do not shame me before my Lord." Lilia was pressured to concede that she would do "anything" and be subservient to Dathan as long as her true love and "condemned slave" Joshua would be offered clemency: "It could make the difference between death on the spikes and life in the copper mines of Sinai."

At the edge of the vast desert where Moses ("the slave who would be king") had been escorted, Moses' chains and binding pole were removed. Rameses mocked Moses by presenting him with his dead mother's Levite robe (that she had with her when she died in prison). He was also given his own binding wooden pole as a staff or scepter: ("Here is your king's scepter and here is your kingdom, with the scorpion, the cobra and the lizard for subjects. Free them, if you will"). Then, his sentencing was pronounced - banishment from the kingdom into the desert - to a certain death. Provided with only one day's ration of bread and water before crossing the desert wilderness, Rameses reasoned he couldn't be blamed for Moses' death, and gave him a stinging send-off:

I commend you to your Hebrew god who has no name. If you die, it will be by his hand, not by mine. Farewell, my one-time brother.

Moses' Survival and Sojourn in Midian With Bedouin Jethro, His Family and Eldest Daughter Sephora:

The voice-over narrator eloquently described the torturous days of Moses' desert wanderings, until he arrived in Midian and was revived from near-death by eating dates from a palm tree and drinking from a well. He had miraculously survived the desert crossing, but had passed out and collapsed:

(voice-over) Into the blistering wilderness of Shun the man who walked with kings now walks alone. Torn from the pinnacle of royal power; stripped of all rank and earthly wealth, a forsaken man without a country, without a hope. His soul in turmoil, like the hot winds and raging sands that lash him with the fury of a taskmaster's whip. He is driven forward, always forward, by a god unknown toward a land unseen. Into the molten wilderness of sin, where granite sentinels stand as towers of living death to bar his way. Each night brings the black embrace of loneliness.

In the mocking whisper of the wind, he hears the echoing voices of the dark: 'Moses! - Moses! - Moses!' His tortured mind wondering if they call the memory of past triumphs or wail foreboding of disasters yet to come, or whether the desert's hot breath has melted his reason into madness. He cannot cool the burning kiss of thirst upon his lips, nor shade the scorching fury of the sun. All about is desolation. He can neither bless nor curse the power that moves him, for he does not know from where it comes. Learning that it can be more terrible to live than to die, he is driven onward through the burning crucible of desert, where holy men and prophets are cleansed and purged for God's great purpose.

Until, at last, at the end of human strength, beaten into the dust from which he came, the metal is ready for the Maker's hand. And he found strength from a fruit-laden palm tree and life-giving water, flowing from the well of Midian.

He was awakened by the seven daughters of Bedouin Sheik and shepherd Jethro (Eduard Franz), who were tending to their flocks of sheep, and found themselves assaulted by Amalekites ("desert thieves") who were tending their goats, and demanding water from their well. Moses, called a "stranger" dressed in Egyptian robes, helped to defend the females by thrashing them with his wooden staff and shouting out: "Get your hands off her!" After the foreigners were restrained and told to back off, the numerous man-hungry daughters jostled to pour water and tend to Moses' needs by washing the dust from his feet. Moses was overwhelmed: "Am I to be bathed or drowned?"

Moses was welcomed into Jethro's household, where he expressed how he was impressed by Sephora's bravery in confronting the Amalekites. Jethro was amazed that Moses had survived his trek across the desert from Egypt:

Across the desert? On foot? 'He Who Has No Name' surely guided your steps.

Jethro's words revealed that his family were believers in "He Who Has No Name" - in other words, the "God of Abraham." Jethro described how the Bedouins were descendants of Abraham's first-born son Ishmael.

Abraham is the father of many nations. We are the children of Ishmael, his first-born. We are the obedient of God.

[Note: According to Genesis 25:1-2, the Midianites were not the descendants of Abraham's son Ishmael. Midian was a son of Abraham and his wife Keturah.]

Moses mentioned how the Egyptian slaves, his people, were still enslaved: "My people look to him for deliverance. But they are still in bondage." Jethro invited Moses to be housed with them at Midian before they soon moved to tend their flocks below Mt. Sinai ("God's holy mountain"):

Tomorrow we leave for the high pastures beneath God's holy mountain. My tent would be favored if you joined us.

Moses was reluctant to cause trouble for Jethro, and described how he was a fugitive slave from Egypt, but Jethro was unperturbed, complimented Moses on his wisdom, and offered his eldest daughter Sephora (Yvonne De Carlo) to teach him their ways:

Moses: I am a stranger in a strange land. I have no wealth, no skill as a shepherd. And it is death to give sanctuary to a runaway slave.
Jethro: Not among our people. You have wisdom. You need nothing more. There are seven here to teach you the tasks of a shepherd. Sephora is the eldest. You can learn best from her.
Moses: I will dwell in this land.

[Note: Sephora was the Greek spelling of her name, while Zipporah was the original Hebrew spelling.]

Moses' Relationship with Sephora and His Interest in Visiting Mt. Sinai ("God's Holy Mountain"):

Later, Moses spoke to Sephora who believed their God ("He who has no name") dwelt in his "temple" placed high atop Mt. Sinai. She also described how God's presence was signaled by rumbling noises, quaking and trembling earth, and fiery-red clouds. She cautioned Moses about his curiosity to visit where "no man has ever set foot on the forbidden slopes of Sinai." Sephora asked about Moses' restlessness and interest in confronting God there:

Sephora: Why do you want to see him, Moses?
Moses: To know that he is. And if he is, to know why he has not heard the cries of slaves in bondage.
Sephora (worried): Moses, it would be death to look upon his face.
Moses: How many of my people have died because he's turned away his face?
Sephora: Can a man judge God? No, Moses. We cannot see his whole purpose. Even Ishmael did not know that God drove him into the desert to be the father of a nation. Is it not enough to know that he has saved you from the Pharaoh's anger?
Moses: How do you know that?
Sephora: You walk like a prince. And you fight like a warrior. There is word in the caravans of a great one who was driven out of Egypt.
Moses: This is not the scepter of a prince, but the staff of a wanderer.
Sephora: Then rest from wandering. My father has many flocks, and no son to tend them. There would be peace of spirit for you, Moses, in our tents beneath the holy mountain.
Moses: You have strong faith in this God, Sephora. But, for me, there is no peace of spirit until I hear the word of God, from God himself.

Over time, Jethro became impressed by Moses' wise trading with other sheiks during a shearing festival, and decided to offer him one of his daughters for marriage: ("I shall give him choice of my seven daughters for wife").

[Note: In the Biblical account (Exodus 2:21), Jethro did not offer Moses a choice amongst his daughters.]

However, with the choice of a marital partner before him, Moses confessed that he was tormented and imprisoned by his past:

In the tent of Jethro there is dignity, honor, freedom and beauty. All that a man could ask of life. But my heart is still a prisoner of the past. I- I cannot choose now.

After Moses initially refused to make the choice of a wife, Sephora sensed that Moses had a previous relationship with an Egyptian Princess, and asked: "She was very beautiful, wasn't she? This woman of Egypt who left her scar upon your heart." She fancifully described Moses' love back in Egypt, and then compared her own simplicity and truthfulness to the luxuries of shallow Egyptian women:

Sephora: Her skin was white as curd. Her eyes, green as the cedars of Lebanon. Her lips, tamarisk honey. Like the breast of a dove her arms were soft. And the wine of desire was in her veins.
Moses: Yes. She was beautiful, as a jewel.
Sephora: A jewel has brilliant fire, but gives no warmth. Our hands are not so soft, but they can serve. Our bodies not so white, but they are strong. Our lips are not perfumed, but they speak the truth. Love is not an art to us. It's life to us. We are not dressed in gold and fine linen. Strength and honor are our clothing. Our tents are not the columned halls of Egypt, but our children play happily before them. We can offer you little, but we offer all we have.
Moses: I have not little, Sephora. I have nothing.
Sephora: Nothing from some is more than gold from others.

When Moses asked if she could "fill the emptiness" of his heart, Sephora responded: "I could never fill all of it, Moses. But I shall not be jealous of a memory." Soon after, Moses married Sephora and they had a son named Gershom.

Rameses' Ascendancy to Pharaoh - After Sethi's Death:

Meanwhile, back in Egypt, Sethi was on his deathbed, and Rameses was gloating over the thought of officially becoming the new Pharaoh: (Sethi: "You'll be Pharaoh by sunset, Rameses"). He promised his dying father to restore Egypt's greatness: "You have restored Egypt to her greatness. I shall make her greatness feared among nations," but Sethi only cautioned him about his arrogance: "No doubt, no doubt. You can overcome anything, but your own arrogance."

As Sethi died, his last words were about his love for Moses: "With my last breath, I'll break my own law and speak the name of Moses. Moses." The new Pharaoh Rameses II also had a son with Queen Nefretiri.

Moses' Mission - To Deliver the Hebrew People From Bondage - After The Burning Bush Experience:

Then one day, while Moses and Sephora were herding sheep in the desert, Joshua suddenly appeared within a cleft in the rock and told how he had escaped from hard labor in the copper mines of Geber where he had been sent by Dathan. He told how he had learned of Moses' survival and location: "A merchant buying copper saw you in the tent of Jethro."

[Note: According to the Biblical account in Exodus 3:10, Joshua never met Moses in Midian, and it was God who encouraged Moses to return to Egypt.]

When Moses offered him peace with the herders and their lifestyle ("Here, you too will find peace"), Joshua implored Moses to become the leader of a major Exodus of the slaves from Egypt:

Joshua: Peace? How can you find peace or want it, when Rameses builds cities mortared with the blood of our people? You must lead them out of Egypt!
Moses: God made a covenant with Abraham that he would deliver the people. Am I the hand of God?...(identifying Joshua to Sephora) I once killed that he might live.
Joshua: They told me you were condemned, but I knew that you were chosen to take the sword of God into your hand!
Moses: I am not the man. I am a shepherd with flocks...

Moses was distracted by the strange sight of a 'burning bush' that was not consumed by flames, and went to investigate: "I will turn aside and see this great sight." Moses climbed up to the summit of the holy mountaintop of Mt. Sinai, where he set foot on holy ground where no man had ever journeyed before. As he stood before the Burning Bush, he heard the voice of God commanding him to remove his shoes: "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet. For the place whereon thou standest is holy ground."

As Moses prostrated before God, he listened as God introduced himself: "I am the God of thy father. The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." Moses asked why God was not listening to his people: "Lord, why do you not hear the cries of their children in the bondage of Egypt?" Moses was commissioned by God to return to Egypt and lead the effort to free the chosen Israelite people. He was promised that God would be with him all along the way. The people were to be led and brought back to Mt. Sinai to receive God's laws (i.e., Ten Commandments):

Voice of God: I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt. And I have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters. For I know their sorrows. Therefore, I will send thee, Moses, unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring my people out of Egypt.
Moses (uncertain and doubtful): Who am I, Lord, that you should send me? How can I lead this people out of bondage? What words can I speak that they will heed?
Voice of God: I will teach thee what thou wilt say. When thou hast brought forth the people, they shall serve me upon this mountain. I will put my laws into their hearts. And in their minds will I write them. Now, therefore, go. And I will be with thee.
Moses: But if I say to your children that the God of their fathers has sent me, they will ask: 'What is his name?' And how shall I answer them?
Voice of God: I am that I am. Thou shalt say, 'I am hath sent me unto you.'

Moses returned to Joshua and Sephora at the foot of the mountain, visibly affected and touched by his experience of being in God's presence on holy ground. Moses' hair was streaked white, and his face was glowing. He struggled to put into words his enlightened state of mind, and his new mission to return to Egypt as "God's messenger" to "set the day of deliverance":

My eyes could not look upon him...He revealed his word to my mind. And the word was God...He is not flesh but spirit. The light of eternal mind. And I know that his light is in every man...

Sephora pledged to accompany Moses although she knew that he would be in danger: "Egypt holds death for you...Where he sends you, I shall go. Your God is my God." When Joshua energetically suggested violence and warfare: "I will lead men against the armory at Migdol and get swords for the people!", Moses halted him and proposed a different way: "It is not by the sword that he will deliver his people, but by the staff of a shepherd."

INTERMISSION

PART II:

Part II was introduced with another narrated segment:

(voice-over) And the Lord said unto Moses, 'Go. Return into Egypt.' And Moses took his wife and his son and he returned to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the rod of God in his hand.

Moses' First Confrontation with Pharaoh Rameses II in His Court:

Appearing in Pharaoh's court, an ambassador from King Priam of Troy brought gifts to Pharaoh Rameses II. The next ambassador from Jericho (and the Bedouins), who claimed he was from "the Kingdom of the Most High," confronted Rameses with an offered gift of "the word of God." Moses (accompanied by his brother Aaron) challenged the Pharaoh with his demand to offer freedom to the slaves:

Thus sayeth the Lord God of Israel - Let my people go!

Moses questioned the Egyptian ruler: "Who are you to make their lives bitter in hard bondage? Men shall be ruled by law, not the will of other men." The Pharaoh scoffed at Moses: "Who is this God that I should let your people go?" To illustrate God's power, Moses ordered Aaron to transform his wooden staff into a cobra-like snake. The Pharaoh dismissed Moses' demonstration as a "cheap magician's trick." His own magician Jannes (Douglass Dumbrille) then duplicated the feat by conjuring up two cobras, but off-screen, Moses' serpent consumed the others. (The feat was communicated by Queen Nefretiri as she cradled her frightened young son (Eugene Mazzola): "Moses' serpent swallows up the others!") Moses spoke harsh words to demand that Rameses' acknowledge his God: "You gave me this staff to rule over scorpions and serpents, but God made it a rod to rule over kings. Hear his word, Rameses, and obey."

Pharaoh then decreed that the Hebrew slaves would not be provided with straw to manufacture bricks, and challenged Moses to use his staff for a different kind of miracle - to make bricks without straw -- "Bear it before your idle people and bid them make bricks without straw." Rameses II added that the slaves could gather their own straw (meaning added work for them), and would still be required to produce the same quantity of output: ("But their tally of bricks shall not diminish"). Rameses dismissed Moses with his catchphrase:

So let it be written. So let it be done.

Moses' Rescue From Stoning by a Jealous and Vengeful Nefretiri:

The Hebrew people realized Moses' display of God's power had backfired, and had made their lives more difficult. Now, the men, women and children would have to "glean the stubble of the fields by night" on their own instead of being supplied with straw. Even Moses admitted his diminished influence: "I have brought more evil upon you. God forgive my weak use of his strength." Some of the Hebrews angrily threatened to stone Moses to death for causing more harm:

Is this the deliverer? You've brought the wrath of Pharaoh upon us! You put a sword in their hands to kill us! Stone him! Stone him!

Moses was led away by Pharaoh's guards, and delivered into Queen Nefretiri's presence, where she claimed that she had saved him. Although she had initially hidden her enthusiasm for Moses' unexpected return, she tried to rekindle their relationship while simultaneously cursing him for ruining their love affair. Moses tried to explain how he was a transformed individual who was on a "mission" after being commissioned by God - and then added that he was also married to a "shepherd girl":

Queen: I cursed you. Each time Rameses took me in his arms, I cursed you, not him, because I love you.
Moses: The Moses who loved you was another man.
Queen: No, he was not. You believe you've changed, but you haven't. You call yourself a prophet, a man of God, but I know better. I don't believe that only the thunder of a mountain stirs your heart, as you stir mine.
Moses: Nefretiri, I have stood in the burning light of God's own presence.
Queen: It was not he who saved you just now. I did that. Oh, Moses, Moses. Why, of all men, did I fall in love with the prince of fools? But I believe anything you tell me when I'm in your arms. Why must you deny me and yourself?
Moses: Because I am bound to a God and to a people and to a shepherd girl.

Moses' mention of a "shepherd girl" enflamed Nefretiri's vengeful jealousy with a series of comparative questions:

-- What can she be to you, unless the desert sun has dulled your senses?
-- Does she grate garlic on her skin? Or is it soft as mine?
-- Are her lips chafed and dry as the desert sand? Or are they moist and red like a pomegranate?
-- Is it the fragrance of myrrh that scents her hair? Or is it the odor of sheep?

Moses' simply stated that she couldn't understand: "There is a beauty beyond the senses, Nefretiri. Beauty like the quiet of green valleys and still waters. Beauty of the spirit that you cannot understand." The Queen tried to maneuver Moses back to her by promising that she could help him release the Hebrews: "You will come to me or they will never leave Egypt." However, Moses refused her help: "The fate of Israel is not in your hands, Nefretiri," but she was persistent: "Oh, isn't it? Who else can soften Pharaoh's heart? Or harden it?" He refused her romantic ploy and departed.

The Divine Plagues - Only Three of Ten Plagues Were Fully Visualized:

1. Nile River Turned Into Blood Red Water For Seven Days

In preparation for the first plague, the Hebrew people were instructed to stock up on a 7-day supply of water. At the well while drawing water, Lilia (who was Dathan's imprisoned house-slave) encountered Joshua (who had awaited her arrival dressed in disguise). He promised her liberation: "You are no man's slave. The hour of deliverance has come," but she didn't believe him ("Not for me, Joshua!").

During the festival of Khnum, Moses again appeared before the Pharaoh and demanded liberation: "Pharaoh of Egypt! You have not yet obeyed the Lord. Let my people go!" When the stubborn Pharaoh refused to release the people, Moses instructed Aaron to again demonstrate the power of God: "Stretch out my staff against the waters." When Moses' staff touched the Nile River water, a reddish color spread over its surface

Where he struck the river, it bleeds. The water turns to blood! Blood flows from the god! See how it spreads. It is blood!

Even Pharaoh's effort to pour clear water from a pitcher and purify the waters turned red. The voice-over narrator intoned about ramifications of the putrid, contaminated water - it precipitated a succession of other problems:

(voice-over) And God smote the land with all manner of plagues, but still Pharaoh's heart was hardened.

Complaints were brought to the Pharaoh: "The people have been plagued by thirst, they've been plagued by frogs, by lice, by flies, by sickness, by boils. They can endure no more." Pestilence spread everywhere (frogs and fish in the water died or escaped, and the people were beset by flies, lice and the spread of disease). The disruptions multiplied: "The people desert the temples. They turn from the gods."

However, the Pharaoh hardened his heart with his belief in a semi-naturalistic explanation for the phenomenon: "Word came of a mountain beyond the cataracts which spewed red mud and poisoned the water." He dismissed the idea that Moses' staff had caused the plague:

"Was it the wonder of your god that fish should die and frogs should leave the waters? Was it a miracle that flies and lice should bloat upon their carrion and spread disease in both man and beast? These things were ordered by themselves, not by any god!"

2. Fiery Hail and Three Days of Darkness

Moses announced another plague - fiery hot hail and three days of darkness:

Moses: That you may know these things are done of God, you shall see hail fall from a clear sky and burn as fire upon the ground. You shall see darkness cover Egypt when the sun climbs high to noon. And you shall know that God is God and bow down to his will.
Pharaoh (undeterred): Nothing of this Earth can make me bow to you, Moses.
Moses: Behold, the hail comes. When darkness has covered Egypt for three days, your ministers will send for me.

After three days of the plague, the Pharaoh refused to listen and acquiesce to his high priest and advisors: "Oh, great one, let his people go, or all of Egypt will be barren from the cataracts to the sea." Even his son asked: "Will my father free the slaves?" Another advisor questioned: "Can taxes be collected from dead cattle and blighted harvests?"

The Pharaoh emphasized his all-powerful rule, although he allowed for Moses to be summoned:

Does fear rule Egypt, or do I?...It is not Pharaoh who yields to the slave, but his counselors.

Before all of the Pharaoh's advisors in the court, the Queen openly mocked her husband's powerlessness before the might of Moses' god:

Does the world bow to an empty throne?...Does a Pharaoh harden his heart against his son? If you let the Hebrews go, who will build his cities? You told Moses to make bricks without straw. Now, he tells you to make cities without bricks! Who is the slave, and who is the Pharaoh? Do you hear laughter, Rameses? Yes, the laughter of kings in Babylon, in Canaan, in Troy, as Egypt surrenders to the god of slaves!


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