Thoughts on Race, Biblical Epics, and Early Jewish History

Andrew Joyce, Ph.D.


One of many hypocrisies indulged in by organized Jewry and the growing legion of White ethno-masochistic Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) concerns the racial element in motion picture casting. A fairly recent example has been the months of criticism preceding the release of Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings, with most critiques revolving around the theme that the movie is unfaithful to historical racial profiles. Without getting into the debate over which ethnicity built the pyramids, there are probably more than a few aesthetic incongruities in the casting of Moses (if he actually existed) and Ramses II. Welsh-born Christian Bale, cast as Moses, doesn’t look even faintly Semitic. Nor does Joel Edgerton resemble in any way a North African, or Middle Easterner of any description. The rest of the major roles are populated by Anglo-Saxon actors like Sigourney Weaver and Aaron Paul.

Much to the annoyance of hand-wringing liberal commentators, Black actors feature mainly in the movie as slaves. The Sydney Morning Herald even noted that infuriated SJWs had taken to Twitter in droves to protest at the set, “particularly the nose on the Great Sphinx of Giza, saying it gives the statue a European profile.” Because of these and other creative decisions, criticism had been brewing since the cast was first announced, eventually forcing Scott to address his choices in an interview with Yahoo! Australia:

Egypt was—as it is now—a confluence of cultures, as a result of being a crossroads geographically between Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. We cast major actors from different ethnicities to reflect this diversity of culture, from Iranians to Spaniards to Arabs. There are many different theories about the ethnicity of the Egyptian people, and we had a lot of discussions about how to best represent the culture.

While I view the ethnicity of the ancient Egyptians as being of token importance in the modern age and of little value in contemporary debates about race, I do take issue with critiques of the casting of Black actors as slaves. Giving the Exodus tale even some benefit of the doubt, and assuming that there was in fact a clash between the leadership of a proto-Jewish population and the Egyptians during the New Kingdom (c.1560–1070 B.C.), a careful look at the historical record suggests that Black slaves (coming mostly from Nubia) were a common feature of the Egyptian landscape. Indeed, the era of Ramses II has been described as the

most flourishing period of Egyptian slavery. The imperial Egyptian state controlled large parts of what now constitutes Israel, the Sinai, Syria, and the northern Sudan. … Nubia was forced to contribute slaves, and entire lists of captured Nubians from this period have been found. Although certain numbers given in the inscriptions are exceedingly high and might be exaggerations, it is obvious that tens of thousands of slaves were imported to Egypt during the great wars of expansion.[1]

In an amusing side note, while most of the Nubian slaves were put to work in gold and copper mines, there was also a significant importation of Black pygmies from modern-day Somalia for the entertainment of the Egyptian Royal Court.[2] Miners and Black midgets aside, the casting of Blacks as slaves in Scott’s movie clearly isn’t even an error, let alone an egregious or calculated one.

But take note of the contrast between the SJW bandwagon attached to the casting of Exodus compared with the far more frequent and insidious anti-White casting decisions which typify Hollywood. The work of Edmund Connelly here at TOO, notably his discussion of the stereotype of the Aryan villain, deserves careful attention.

A more blatant middle-finger to White culture and heritage was delivered in the recent Marvel Thor movies, with the provocative casting of the very Black African actor Idris Elba as Heimdall. Heimdall was based on the Norse god Heimdallr, described in some of the oldest Norse texts as “the Whitest of the Aesir (gods).” The decision to cast Elba, taken by veteran Jewish casting director Randi Hiller, as the ‘Whitest’ of the Norse gods, provoked an outcry from those who perceived the clearly intended insult. The Council of Conservative Citizens issued a statement arguing that Marvel, and others involved in the making of the movie, had “declared war on Norse mythology” with “an insulting multi-cultural makeover.” The CCC added that the publisher already “attacks conservative values” and “now mythological gods must be re-invented with Black skin.”

But, of course, defending White cultural treasures (or White nations for that matter) from ‘Blackwashing’ isn’t fashionable. Unlike the Exodus case, White SJWs and a rainbow of ethnic writers preferred in this instance to turn on those who dared to raise their voice in protest. To point to just one example, Andy Khouri at Comics Alliance responded to the CCC’s protest with an article titled ‘Racists totally freak out over Idris Elba playing Norse god in Thor.’ The inversion of values, based simply on whether Whites are seen to gain or lose by a casting decision, is remarkable.

Aside from casting conundrums, criticisms of Exodus have also centred on its debateable faithfulness to the biblical narrative. Scott conveys many of the ‘miracles’ as natural phenomena, albeit triggered by the Hebrew deity — here bizarrely personified as a young boy.

For example, the famous parting of the Red Sea is portrayed, not as a parting, but as a dried up sea bed. A hurricane later brings water in from afar. Arguably, the strangest alteration to the Biblical narrative is the Zionist-inspired re-write of the Israelites as a kind of warrior class, with Moses (reinvented as a brilliant military strategist) leading a kind of war of attrition against Egypt. The Jews of Exodus are taught to fight and attack several military and supply sites.

Jewish sensibilities have nonetheless been offended — particularly the employment of the young boy as the Hebrew god. Breitbart News Network accused Scott of directly contravening

possibly the most basic tenet of Judaism: that God is One and cannot be anthropomorphized” and denounced the director for his “bare-faced insult to the core of Judaism.” Lawrence Schiffman, a professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies and director of the Global Institute for Advanced Research in Jewish Studies at New York University, noted, “There are some midrashim that what Moses saw in the burning bush was an angel, but this angel would not have been irascible.”

Other criticisms have been levelled at Christian Bale himself, especially for his comments on the character and nature of Moses. Bale has gone on record as stating that if Moses actually existed, he “was ‘likely schizophrenic’ and was one of the most “barbaric” individuals he’d ever read about in his life.” Bale later stated in a phone interview that his opinion had been shaped by careful reading of the complete biblical account and his understanding of the position of Moses in the shaping of dogmatic Jewish thought, rather than the standard Disney Prince of Egypt narratives cleansed of ancient Judaic bloodlust to make it more palatable for mass consumption:

If Moses were alive today, he would likely be tried for war crimes,” Bale said of his claim that the prophet was “barbaric.” He cites biblical passages that are not included as events in the film: The chapter in Numbers where Moses orders the slaughter of all Midianite prisoners of war, save the virgin girls; and the section of Exodus in which Moses punishes the Israelites for worshiping the golden calf by forcing them to drink a scalding liquid made of the ground-up idol before ordering the slaughter of 3,000 Hebrews for the transgression.

Interesting in themselves, my attention to the debates over Exodus had been magnified somewhat by the fact that I had also been analyzing the first chapters of Simon Schama’s recently published The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000BCE–1492CE. Some of Schama’s work touches on the exodus fable, as well as shedding a little more light on what may be considered aspects of the origins of the Jewish evolutionary strategy. To be sure, Schama’s work is a typical tapestry of kosher history, replete with careful omissions and exaggerations. Overall, the book is an attempt to re-write the fanatically separatist culture of the ancient Hebrews as an open community, merely misunderstood by historical writers. Schama proposes:

Another Jewish story altogether, one in which the line between the alien and the pure is much less hard and fast; in which being Jewish did not carry with it the requirement of shutting out all neighboring cultures but, to some degree at least, living in their company; where it was possible to be Jewish and Egyptian; just as later it would be possible to be Jewish and Dutch or Jewish and American.[3]

Schama may make an interesting and attractively presented proposal, but it remains one without supporting evidence. Rather, the case in the opposite direction is overwhelming. Kevin MacDonald notes in A People That Shall Dwell Alone that

the ideology of the separateness of the Jews is apparent throughout the Tanakh. Many of the statements encouraging separatism were inserted into the earlier passages by redactors during and after the Babylonian exile, and indeed, recent scholars have emphasized that the entire Pentateuch must be seen as a statement of the priestly group writing during the Babylonian exile. The importance of circumcision and the Sabbath as signs of separateness were contributions of the Priestly (P) source stratum from the exilic or post-exilic period, and the entire Book of Leviticus, which describes elaborate rituals that separate Jews from others, derives from this stratum.[4]

Confronted with unavoidable facts, and despite his claims of an open community of ancient Hebrews, Schama can’t help but agree with MacDonald on key points. Schama describes “a self-consciously Priestly or ‘P’ text” replete with “corrective, compulsive obsessions with the minutiae of observance, the structure of the Temple, and the sacred hierarchy of tribe and people.”[5] Additionally, Schama points to the exclusivity advocated in Ezra and Nehemiah, where the targets of public proclamations of Torah Rule were local survivors of Babylonian deportations “suspected of acquiring ‘foreign’ cult practices along with ‘foreign’ wives.”[6] Schama adds, alluding to the writings of the Priestly stratum, that “for the first time (but not the last), the ‘who is a Jew’ debate was sounded, with Ezra launching a comprehensive and merciless winnowing out of those considered to have been contaminated by ‘foreign’ cults.”[7] Ezra was “hardline, fasting out of mortification that ‘the children of the captivity’ had taken ‘strange wives’ thus compounding the ‘trespass of Israel.’”[8]

While the precise timing of the writing of the Pentateuch remains obscure, Schama emphasizes that these “fables of origination,” which were constructed in exile and read back from the history of David, were “enriched, varied and repeated over many generations, to give Israelites the strong sense of divinely ordained history and imagined collective ancestry their scribes and priests believed were necessary to sustain common identity under threat from painful historical reality.”[9] Of course another, if not the, central feature and purpose of the Priestly reconstruction of Hebrew culture, was to ensure the biological survival of the community. The Babylonian deportations (occurring between 597BC and 582BC) were, in all likelihood, the cradle of the Jewish evolutionary strategy.

Archaeology reveals the real story of “a tribal subset of indigenous Canaanites who, after the collapse of their culture at the end of the Bronze Age, moved east (not west from Transjordan) into the safer but more primitive hills of Judea, and eventually took over the ancient Jebusite citadel of Jerusalem.”[10] It was the Priestly class who turned the history of this ragtag community of nomads into the narrative of “Jewish singularity, of a ‘peculiar people’ separated from the ‘nations,’ especially Egyptians and sea-people Philistines, by virtue of the exodus and the law-giving on Sinai, and their conquest of Canaan in accordance with the Abrahamic covenant.”[11]

This Priestly class never conceived of a warm-hearted tale filled with “Let my people go” antics. The treatment of the peoples displaced by the Israelites following the departure from Egypt is, to use Christian Bale’s word, ‘barbaric’ indeed. MacDonald notes that the “policy described in the Books of Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua is to commit genocide rather than permit intermarriage with the conquered peoples in the zone of settlement.”[12] The Exodus itself is presented by them as the most important event in early Hebrew history, recounting the first (real or imagined) successful flight following a successful sojourn of the Israelites as a minority in a foreign land. The sojourn in Egypt is primarily successful because the Israelites enjoyed such a population increase [Exodus 1:12] that the Egyptians themselves began to fear them. The flight is successful because the Israelites suffer few if any casualties and remain strong and numerous enough to dominate and exterminate other peoples following the departure from Egypt. Curiously, there are clear echoes of these patterns in the gargantuan population boom enjoyed by Jews under the Tsar in late nineteenth century, and contemporary Yiddish plays and satires often played on barely concealed allusions to the Tsar as the latest incarnation of Pharaoh.[13] These Jews, oppressive more than oppressed, would later leave Russia in a modern day exodus, once more using their numbers and cohesion under the Mosaic Law to dominate new peoples.

What exactly transpired between the Egyptians and the ancient Hebrews is lost to history, and now the subject of speculation. The third century BC Egyptian Priest-Grammarian Manetho certainly ventured a counter-narrative to the Exodus tale with his Aegyptica. In this monumental work of Egyptian history, Manetho argued that there had in fact been an expulsion of the Jews from Egypt, instigated by the gods who had urged that their country had to be purified of unclean people. Manetho then explains that when the Egyptians took measures to expel these unclean people, the Jews organized themselves around a priest whose name later turns out to be Moses. They start a regime of terror in which the Egyptian population becomes the victim of brutal violence. Finally, the Pharaoh succeeds in expelling them, whereupon they found their own rogue state in and around Jerusalem where they build their temple.

If there is any merit at all in the exodus tale, it may be as a kind of folk memory of an expulsion. The fears of Pharaoh, and Egyptians generally, at the growing population (and influence) of the Hebrews certainly has a ring of truth. Just why ‘Moses’ would need to beg Pharaoh for permission to remove this dangerous and harmful population from Egypt is the most pressing question in the tale. A straightforward expulsion seems the most likely scenario to have occurred.

But why would the P-stratum re-write the narrative to imply that the Egyptians couldn’t live without the Hebrews? The key point worth bearing in mind is the fact that the writing of Hebrew propaganda such as this was not unique to that time or place. Schama notes that during the Ptolemaic era Hebrew writers were constantly producing:

wishfully thought literary creations, Egyptian rulers are constantly bowing to the moral rectitude, political astuteness and learned authority of Clever Jews. … Indeed, in a work called Ioudaikan, the Jewish author gets carried away by crediting Joseph with the Egyptian system of canals and irrigation.[14]

Jews didn’t so much co-exist with a culture, but rather existed in it and began the steady but sure co-option of its achievements. This is the timeless Jewish cultural chauvinism, built on the re-writing of history. In Alexandria, many Jewish writers and philosophers argued that Judaism “was the ancient root and Hellenism the young tree. Zeus was just a paganized version of the Almighty YHWH, and Moses was the ultimate moral legislator from whom all ethical law-giving had originally sprung. The Jewish Aristobulus of Paneas, writing in the mid-second century BC, wanted his readers to believe that Plato had painstakingly studied the Torah and that Pythagoras owed his theorem to ancient Jewish learning.”[15] This is simply the ancient root of the familiar drive to perpetuate the idea of ‘Jewish genius,’ a theme now well-documented here at TOO (e.g., my “Pariah to Messiah: The Engineered Apotheosis of Baruch Spinoza” for a discussion of how Jewish intellectuals have rewritten the history of the Enlightenment to be the result of Jewish influence).

Co-opting Greek achievements didn’t lend any Jewish respect to Hellenism either then or now. As Schama himself admits: “Grow up in the classical tradition and you believe Europe begins with the defeat of the invading Persians, recounted by Herodotus. Grow up Jewish and a piece of you wants the Persians to win.”[16]

Schama is at least honest, if a little modest. On the evidence of the long and sordid history of the Jewish conflict with White Europeans, that ‘little piece’ is quite substantial indeed.

Precisely when the Jewish evolutionary strategy acquired all of its key features remains obscure, but probably stretches back before recorded history. Even the Priestly class which codified many of its elements were likely to have drawn heavily on existing folk practices and narratives. Of these, the exodus tale, with its emphasis on population increase, destruction of enemies, and successful sojourning among foreigners, is likely to have existed in oral form prior to its commission to the written word.

In any event, the strategy was presumably in full operation by the dawn of the Roman Empire, provoking the great Tacitus to report in his The Histories that “the Jews regard as profane all that we hold sacred, while permitting all we abhor.”

Let my people go?

Why certainly, Sir. Let me get the door for you


 

[1] J.P. Rodrigues (ed), The Encyclopaedia of World Slavery, Vol. 7,  (ABC-CLIO, 1997), p243.

[2] Ibid, p.244.

[3] S. Schama, The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000BCE-1492CE (Ecco, 2014), p.27.

[4] K. MacDonald, A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy, (Writers Club Press, 2002), p.63.

[5] Schama, p.47.

[6] Ibid, p.35.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid, p.45.

[9] Ibid, p.46.

[10] Ibid, p.74.

[11] Schama, p.75.

[12] MacDonald, p.57.

[13] K. Frieden, Classic Yiddish Fiction: Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and Peretz (State University of New York Press, 1995), p.77.

[14] Schama, p.99.

[15] Schama, p.93.

[16] Schama, p.88.

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