PICTURE YOURSELF, if you will, in the place of a lowly Hebrew slave in the service of Pharaoh. From dawn till dusk, from the cradle to the grave, you are beholden to him. Not only that: you belong to him. You’re “dust under his feet,” as an ancient Egyptian formulation of royal prerogative had it, and your entire worth as a human being is predicated on your value, or lack thereof, as a commodity or beast of burden to him.

And there’s more. For the “privilege” of being in his employ by toiling your life away in backbreaking, soul-crushing servitude for his comfort and his glory, you are required to worship him, singing his praise at every turn. For Pharaoh styles himself a god, a superior being.

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