The people and the Book: In search of the Promised Land

ByRABBI RICHARD JACOBS
January 3, 2011 12:13

We study the Exodus narrative at the very same time we commemorate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Is this a mere coincidence?




martin luther king

king (do not publish again). (photo credit:avi katz)

ON APRIL 7, 1957, AT THE DEXTER AVENUE BAPTIST Church in Montgomery, Alabama, a 28-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr. began his sermon with these words: “...I would like to use as a basis for our thinking together a story that has long since been stenciled on the mental sheets of succeeding generations. It is the story of the Exodus, the story of the flight of the Hebrew people from the bondage of Egypt, through the wilderness, and finally to the Promised Land. It’s a beautiful story... This is something of the story of every people struggling for freedom.”

Throughout his life, when Dr. King preached sermons he often turned to the Book of Exodus to build his homilies. And each year during January, for thousands of years, we Jews have told this story of the Exodus from Egyptian bondage. It is the story of our struggle for freedom. In Exodus, we read of Moses, a great leader who spoke truth to power, a man who wouldn’t take no for an answer, a man who stood his ground against the cruelty of the ancient Pharaoh.

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