Ridley Scott's Exodus: what a real miracle really looks like?

Ridley Scott shows a miracle to Sigourney Weaver

Hey, that’s Ridley Scott’s movie. Do you really find it dull or hollow? There should be something more than sandy cityscapes and spectacular battle scenes. Surprisingly, there is, but it takes time to see this, so there are high chances that you may ban the movie in your heart or country before you accept it. Its reception definitely correlates with the amount of flexibility in one’s psyche. Yes, Scott tries to rationalize the Bible. But why he does this? Is this a straightforward rationalization, which dissolves miracles into the chains of facts without any alternative – the something shown, for example, in Hercules? The answer is “No” if you believe in miracles. Miracles may still be miracles, and this reminds us what a real miracle should look like. [spoilers]

It seems that Scott has wittily tried to wear the clothes of God, and this allowed him to reinterpret the lines of the Old Testament in his own Scott’s flavor. The Old Testament is primarily the book of admonitions and commandments that are reflected in the psyche of many orthodox Jews who strictly follow its order. It may be considered as an ancient form of monolithic law with God (or his prophets – i.e. word) in the chair of the supreme judge. Probably, Romans developed their advanced civil law because the promiscuous behavior of Roman and Greek gods was a bad substrate for a strict system of justice. Now in everyday life the theocratic approach is also mostly completely replaced by volatile civil-law-based juridical systems, but Jesus also has done something to the Old Testament, which radically changed the nature of the system, so it may almost flawlessly coexist with the civil ones. What exactly did Jesus and what exactly did Scott? 

Ridley has just breathed some life and logic into the scanty and cold lines of “Exodus”. By reading the book, you may decide that Yahweh is the ferocious murderer of children, the same as the pharaoh; that there is no such thing as love in both of them. Nevertheless, in the movie you see that the pharaoh loves Moses and his own child but is cold to the myriads of slaves. Such is his mental framework. Can God also to love his children? If he needs to alter their mind, how could He do this? Can He recast human mind directly by his own will or can He directly talk to people? Just imagine that, a rational man, such as Moses or Ramesses, would rather decide that he is insane. And Ridley shows us that God talks to Moses in the form of a boy after the accident in the mountains, so Moses is not shocked; at first Moses takes all he saw then as the consequence of his physical trauma.

God hardly can persuade Ramesses directly because He is an alien god to him. Exactly because of this, Egyptians are also trying to rationalize the plagues. There is nothing in their mental framework, which may give a base to the angriness of their gods - a bad thing for God himself, his plagues do not work as He intended. However, Moses points to the connection between the plagues and the enslavement of his people, and God then makes the pharaoh to feel himself like the slaves whose children were murdered by his predecessor. God acts violently, but from his point of view He probably acts as a gardener; He does not kill all the children but only firstlings. Gardeners think that they have a right to cut other living beings, which are substantially different from them. But have gardeners a right to cut the beings which are substantially same, can the pharaoh be a gardener? The sad thing is that by perceiving himself as a “living god” he actually was one.

So, what about miracles? Why all the plagues and the events at Red Sea may be considered as miracles and not just results of some coincidences, unidentified diseases and the aftermath of earthquake, (it’s hard to tell about the last, but we know that from Scott’s commentary). The answer is simple – all this may be a set of coincidences and a miracle at the same time. Of course, if you believe in miracles. By definition, we take as a miracle something statistically impossible (but still probable in principle) happened just at the time we anticipate it. There is a hope that the laws of nature had not changed so much for the last few thousand years, so the biblical exodus might actually look just like Scott has depicted it, although this breaks its canonical comic-like image.

Jesus has done something similar. His approach was also different from the one of his predecessors – he did not try to create new commandment-style laws, but rather broke old well-known vicious patterns by his own example. He also distinctly separated God’s law from Caesar’s one. Probably all this have made Christianity a volatile religion which gives more flexibility to the mental framework of its bearers. We know that there are some sects, (also in Christianity itself), which are inclined to interpret religious laws radically, as indisputable law-like commandments, and this tells us that the problem may lie not in the body of the religion but in the tradition of its perception. If you know that something may cause a well-known negative reaction in the mind of such a believer, being flexibly minded you probably may find a flexible way to explain that to this person. However, it’s sad if such a person decides to become a gardener in the garden of society.

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