MOSES' ETHNIC IDENTITY

Transracials feel they can adopt the identity of another genetic group (#WrongSkin), but Biblical characters like Moses knew they had to identify with their real ethnicity to be pleasing to God.

Moses could have easily blended himself into another ethnic group, but the Bible makes it clear he rejected the culture and identity of his royal Egyptian adopted parents in order to identify with his enslaved Hebrew blood relatives.

The Biblical writers praised Moses for his choice. If he had not made it, he would never have become a great biblical religious leader.

Modern American evangelicals usually overlook the ethnic elements of Moses’ story. They tend to translate the narrative into a lesson about religious truth. In doing so, they miss the fact that Moses turned against the Egyptians not because they worshiped false gods but because they oppressed his kin folk. This explains his motivation for killing the Egyptian before his exile from Egypt. If Moses’ primary concern was religion then his murder of the Egyptian makes little sense. Only when the act is viewed as opposition to ethnic oppression does it become rational.

The text of Exodus 2 reads:
“And the child [Moses] grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, ‘because I drew him out of the water.’ And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting a Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.”
The text twice specifies that Moses was defending his "brethren" against the Egyptian; indicating the ethnic connection Moses felt for the person. The murder story is recorded immediately after the reader is informed that Moses witnessed the burdens placed upon his "brethren" by the Egyptians.

Despite Moses' Egyptian name and adoption into an Egyptian royal family, [1] Moses’ blood ancestry, his genetic ethnic heritage, emerged as his dominant identity. Moses was no transracial hero, he understood the Egyptians were not his nation (ethnos), and that his real family was his genetic kin. Race and ethnicity were real for Moses; they were not social constructs. Egyptian royal privileges were not enough to convince Moses to renounce his true people.

Moses was forced to flee into the wilderness to avoid capital punishment as a would-be ethnic revolutionary. Forty years later, God appeared to Moses in the desert and commanded him to rescue his people from bondage.

This raises an interesting question: why would God choose an ethnic Hebrew who has never lived within Hebrew culture and did not reside in the same land as the Hebrews to save his people from bondage? Why did God not choose a righteous Egyptian or another cultural Hebrew? God was honoring the blood connection and the genetic heritage over the cultural and religious one.

It is uncertain whether Moses worshiped the Hebrew God when Yahweh first appeared to him. It is questionable whether Moses worshiped the Hebrew God when he lived in Egypt. If Moses’ story is about a man who wanted to rebel against pagan worship and deliver his people from pagan bondage, Moses is a bizarre choice for God to make... he shows no obvious potential, and he’s a murderer.

The story of Moses is one of ethnic deliverance. Moses did not ask for racial or ethnic integration in Egypt, he did not ask for shared political rights, he did not ask for Egypt to convert to the one true God. Rather, Moses told Pharaoh to free his ethnic group. The ethnic Hebrew God ordered the Egyptian king to free his favored ethnos.

When God remembered Israel, and called Moses to deliver them (Exodus 2:24), it was because he recalled a pact he made with their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God’s deliverance was motivated by the Hebrew people’s ethnic heritage.

The entire Exodus story, among the major pivot points of the Bible, was motivated by racial favoritism. The whole of salvation history centers around the story of a single ethnic group. No greater act of racial bias has been performed in human history than God’s narrative of Hebrew centrism.

The plagues that destroyed Egypt never ravaged the ethnic Hebrews. They only destroyed the ethnic Egyptians. During the killing of the first born, the Lord smote only ethnic Egyptians; not a single Hebrew child died. Were all the Egyptians corrupt people who deserved to be punished? Did they all own Hebrew slaves? Were those first born children guilty of grievous sin? No. They did not suffer because they were personally wicked, they suffered because of their ethnicity. The Egyptians were plagued because of the family they were born into. 

God racially discriminates.

God racially discriminated when he slaughtered only the first born who were genetically Egyptian. he racially discriminated when he chose Israel as his chosen people over all other nations, he racially discriminated when he told the Hebrews to genocide the Canaanites.

Moses was not the religious savior of the Egyptians, or the Canaanites, or arguably even the Israelites (they already worshiped Yahweh). Moses was his race's ethnic savior. Moses may have inadvertently blessed all nations, and God planned for this, but within Moses’ own mind, and in the course of his own lifetime, he only saved his own people.

Moses’ racial consciousness is hard to ignore when studying his life. It was his ethnic identity that dominated his story despite attempts made by his adopted mother to subvert his genetic heritage with a flashier cultural one.

In chapter eleven of Hebrews, the author named Moses among his great men of faith. He included him because Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses was great because he refused to renounce his genetic Hebrew slave mother for a royal adopted mother who was not genetically linked to him. Moses chose to suffer with his own people. He chose to suffer with God's chosen racial group rather than enjoy temporary material pleasures.

White American Christians have much to learn from Moses. We can learn from his ethnic loyalty, his rejection of physical possessions and pleasure, and from his loyalty to a God who honored ancestral blood ties.


NOTES 

[1] Moses shares part of his name with Pharaoh Thutmoses.

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