Exodus II: Let the Pharaoh Go

February 17, 2011

Danny Katch tells the modern-day sequel to the Bible's story of the Exodus.

AND SO it came to pass that thousands of years after God helped Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt, the Egyptians toiled under a new Pharaoh who lived in extreme luxury while they slaved away creating vast pyramids of textiles and oil barrels.

Pharaoh Hosni seemed to be even more powerful than Ramses because he had turned the tables on history. This Pharaoh had the Israelites on his side, as well as their new god in Washington, D.C.

Until January 25, when the Egyptians gathered in the square to declare: "Let the Pharaoh go."

But the Pharaoh just laughed and unleashed some of the plagues with which his American god kept him well supplied: tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons.

But the Egyptians persevered and came back in even greater numbers to the square three days later. So Pharaoh offered them a deal: "Okay, I get it. You think I'm working too hard, and you're worried about me. Tell you what: I'll appoint a Vice Pharaoh, and I promise to take more vacations and stop being such a perfectionist."

Hosni Mubarak
Hosni Mubarak

But the Egyptians were unmoved. Again they said, "Let the Pharaoh go."

So the Pharaoh unleashed a plague of digital darkness, cutting the Egyptians off from their cell phones and wi-fi. But still they were unbowed.

And so the Pharaoh's god issued a statement from the White House: "I am the god not only of Pharaoh, but also of democracy. This may seem like a contradiction to you guys because he's your dictator and all. But if you only knew him like I do, you would see that on the inside, he really wants to do the right thing. So let's keep it peaceful, okay?"

But then the Pharaoh issued a plague of violence with police and thugs who rampaged the square, beating and shooting the Egyptians. And for two days and two nights, there was great death and suffering.

But the Egyptians did not give up. They returned to the square and vowed that this time they wouldn't leave before the Pharaoh. Now the American god was angry, for Pharaoh had made him look bad by trying to crush the Egyptians and failing.

And so the American god decreed that Pharaoh Hosni had to start leaving "now." And the Egyptians rejoiced.

Then Pharaoh called the White House and said, "My god, why have you forsaken me? Have you forgotten that all of your imperial plans in the Middle East and Central Asia depend on people like me? Have you thought about what impact a revolution in the largest Arab country might have? Besides, I assume you think you can replace me with someone from the military. Where do you think I came from, Goldman Sachs? Let's just say I know a little more about military coups than you, and I've taken some precautionary steps."

Pharaoh's words had their effect, and the next day his god issued a retraction: "Um, maybe Pharaoh should stick around and help with the transfer to democracy. Technically, he's already 'started' to leave, in the sense that every day that passes is another day towards when he leaves. See what I mean?"

THE EGYPTIANS were puzzled by this god's changing positions, but steadfast in their own: "Let the Pharaoh go."

For his next plague, Pharaoh summoned the sprit of Glenn Beck to spread a tale through his state-run media that the protesters were secret agents of those well-known allies Israel and Iran.

But the Egyptians were unmoved. Thousands more gathered in the square.

Pharaoh announced he would sacrifice his second-born son, Gamal.

But the Egyptians in the square continued to grow. And now some of them left the square and went back to their jobs, not to stop protesting, but to lead their co-workers out on strike. And Pharaoh's god took notice.

And so the next day, word spread that Pharaoh would soon announce his departure. The Egyptians gathered in the square in larger numbers than ever before to wait for Pharaoh's speech. But instead of resigning, he proposed yet another compromise: "Okay, how about this? I'll only be the all-powerful ruler on Mondays and Thursdays, and on the other five days, you guys can have a democracy? What do you think?"

But this only made the Egyptians furious, and they raised their shoes, and vowed to gather and strike the next day in their largest numbers yet. And the Pharaoh's god said "enough is enough" and was unconvinced even by Pharaoh's warnings of a global conspiracy led by the Muslim Brotherhood and Justin Beiber.

And so it came to pass that on February 11, Pharaoh departed, and Egyptians celebrated with their brothers and sisters around the world.

Nobody knows what the next chapter of Egypt's revolution will be. And across the ancient Biblical lands, other Pharaohs are suddenly vowing to hold elections, claiming that they wanted all along to spend more time with their families, and that their sons are actually poets and accountants who have no interest in succeeding them in power.

The Egyptians have spread a powerful message across the world. Pharaohs aren't all-powerful. And neither is their god in Washington D.C.

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