Exodus Redux: Jewish Identity and the Shaping of History

Andrew Joyce, Ph.D

I’ve been intrigued by the story of the Israelite Exodus from Egypt for more than a decade. More than any of its close rivals, including the tale of Haman in the Book of Esther, the Exodus looms large as an early and extremely influential psychological landmark in the lachrymose and highly dubious pseudo-history of the Jewish people. Most obviously, the putative liberation from Egypt is commemorated by Judaism every year, in the form of the Pesach, or Passover festival. Indeed, this festival is one of the most important features of the Jewish religious calendar. Historian Paul Johnson remarks that Exodus “became an overwhelming memory” and “gradually replaced the creation itself as the central, determining event in Jewish history.”

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