This post may be coming too late for most LDS Sunday School classes — I’m not sure as my wife and I teach the youth, so I really don’t know exactly where everyone is in the Sunday School curriculum. If you have already had Lesson 13 regarding the bondage in Egypt, the Passover, and the Exodus, I hope that this post can at least be of some interest and perhaps boost in some way your understanding of that lesson.
What I am about to post is nothing new. If you are a long-time reader of Heavenly Ascents (if such a creature exists), then this will all be familiar to you. I have decided to resurrect some of the posts I wrote during the last time we studied the Old Testament in the LDS SS curriculum, which was 2010. Again, if you were reading this blog back in 2010 then this will be old news for you, but I am re-posting in the hope that it will be of some help or interest to someone. I haven’t been posting a whole lot on this blog for the past year or more and still don’t have a lot of time on my hands, but I can at least take the time to repost things that are now relevant again.
I start off talking about Joseph in Egypt as I had not had much opportunity to explore that story previously.
Exodus as New Creation
Unfortunately, I missed commenting on a story I really love — the Joseph in Egypt narrative. I won’t take the time to backtrack now and write much on it, but I have always thought a comparison between Joseph and Christ is fruitful.
Joseph is the beloved son of his father and (although not born first) is essentially made the firstborn. Jewish tradition held that Joseph was the son that most looked like his father and whose life most resembled Jacob’s. Jacob taught Joseph the mysteries and the learning that he had obtained in the school of Shem and Eber. His (priesthood) garment was dipped in blood. Joseph was sent to be a slave/servant in Egypt (which is later associated with Babylon, or the World). He was made second-in-command in Potiphar’s house, and resisted all temptation. He was put into prison for crimes he did not commit. While in prison, he helped (in a way) liberate the good (butler/cup-bearer) and condemn the wicked (baker). He was raised up out of the prison to become vice-regent of Pharaoh. He is responsible for providing fertility/prosperity to Egypt (the World) during a time of draught, and brings salvation to his brethren. I’m sure there are many other parallels that can be noted.
After we are told of the death of Joseph, the book of Genesis ends and Exodus begins. The Israelites have multiplied and, because the Egyptians (who possibly overthrew the dynasty that favored Joseph and his Semitic family) feel threatened by their numbers, they are made slaves. We are told that they were in this condition of slavery for over 400 years. They looked forward to a new savior who would free them and return them to their promised land. They desired, in effect, for the Lord to give them a new beginning.
That is exactly how the biblical Psalms present the Exodus events — as a new Creation. The Psalms speak extensively about the Creation of the world, which they describe as Yahweh’s victory over the Chaos Waters — often including great sea monsters (Rahab, Leviathan, etc.). Gen. 1 picks up on this idea when it describes God as “dividing” the waters in the early stages of creation. The Psalms are much more graphic and likely represent older versions of the story. A good example is Psalm 74:12–17: