Today we build upon the success of our first seminar last week, in our study of the Old Testament, in particular, the biblical figure, Moses.
In previous weeks, we established that unlike traditional doctrine that the Old Testament was written by Moses, it was in fact written retrospectively.
Perhaps most importantly that it was written as a means of galvanising a people towards a metaphysical and physical identity, and towards nationhood.
To this end, I will be embedding into this theme the concept of The Evil Eye, also referred to in Hebrew literature as The Eye of Evil.
In simple terms The Evil Eye is described as a curse believed to be cast by a malevolent glare, usually given to a person when they are unaware. In fact, many cultures believe that receiving The Evil Eye will cause misfortune or injury. Thus, talismans were created to protect against it.
In the Bible, The Evil Eye is synonymous with envy, jealousy and some forms of covetousness. Within the commonwealth of Israel we see lots of examples: Esau and Jacob, Rachel and Leah, Joseph and his brothers, David and Uriah, David and Absalom, Saul and David; and the list goes on.
We also see it in the hostility they face from gentile nations. Thus, the Israelites saw themselves as victims to The Evil Eye, because of their unique relationship with Yahweh. Notable examples include the Book of Esther and other exilic writings.
In relation to their captivity in Egypt, we see Joseph being sold to slavery by envious brothers, and much later, a pharaoh that envied the Israelites in Egypt.
- What does this mean to us today?
What lessons can we deduce from the story presented by the redactors?
Core text: Exodus, chapters 4-6 NRSV
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