The Exodus account has turned a conventional maxim on its head. The Israelites, whom the Egyptians believed were cursed and whom they treated as such, turn out in fact to be blessed. This flies in the face of ancient customary wisdom, which held that the target of divine curses, the Egyptians, should have been expelled and not the Israelites, who were the object of heavenly blessings. One might classify this narrative as an exceptional example of positive separation, because it ultimately benefited those who were dismissed.— Cursed Are You!, page 244
Monday, February 23, 2015
Separation as curse. No. Wait. This is wrong
What is most curious about the Exodus account is the disjunction between the traditional interpretation of separation due to heavenly malediction and affiliation due to benediction. Typically, what is cursed is banished from the deity, and what is blessed is kept near the deity. It is peculiar that the “blessed” Israelites are expelled into the wilderness in a manner synonymous with those who are “cursed.” As we have seen, the feature of separation associated with expulsion into the wilderness is synonymous with two fundamental precepts related to curses: (1) divine absence and (2) advancement toward death. In this case, the opposite occurs. The Israelites not only find life in the wilderness but they also encounter Yahweh himself in the very place where deities are thought to be absent.