• David McNitzky

A Note from Pastor David - Tears for the Egyptians

In our sermon series on Moses we have recently spent three Sundays on the events surrounding the miracle at the Red Sea. This was appropriate as there God won a mighty victory freeing the Israelites from slavery to the Egyptians. However, I would like to add an additional perspective on this victory. We see it in one of the customs our Jewish friends practice at the Passover meal. After someone reads about each one of the ten plagues from the Bible, they will spill a drop of wine on the table. One of the reasons for this practice is to remember the pain of the enemy experienced in the plagues and at the Red Sea. One rabbi calls this, “Shedding tears for the Egyptians.” Another commentator adds, “Our joy is not complete because it came at the expense of others.” That Pharaoh was at fault or that many Egyptians supported him are not the key issue. Rather what is key is the recognition of the suffering of the enemy. Proverbs 24:17 cautions, “When your enemy falls do not rejoice.”

Another ancient tradition reveals the reason why their suffering mattered. According to the rabbinic story, immediately following the drowning of Pharaoh’s troops at the Red Sea, God walked into a room where the angels were joyously celebrating the victory. God silences the celebration by asking, “How can you sing when my people are dying?” The angels had missed that the Egyptians were God’s people also. No matter who we may regard as an enemy- from a supporter of a different candidate to a criminal to someone who insists on not wearing (or wearing) a mask- that person is a child of God. The image of God, even if covered up by sin, hate or shame, is still engraved on their heart. In this age of division, fear, anxiety and distrust, may we see our ‘enemies’ as brothers and sisters through God in Christ. And treat them accordingly.


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