“Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood… therefore my father was led away by their idolatry.” – Abraham 1:27
As I write these words, army tanks are pouring into the streets of Cairo to help put down a massive popular uprising in Egypt. My thoughts and prayers are with the brave protesters, and I hope that they succeed in bringing down the brutal, corrupt regime of their obtuse Pharaoh, Hosni Mubarak. Coincidentally, my personal scripture reading this morning highlighted the actions of another Egyptian ruler who falsely claimed legitimacy.
The first chapter of the Book of Abraham, which Mormons accept as a book of scripture written by the ancient prophet, discusses the religion and founding of ancient Egypt. After reading it, you can understand better why 19 of 20 modern Egyptian women are forced to undergo female genital mutilation (which I have detailed on this blog). The priests of Pharaoh in Abraham’s native Chaldea sacrificed men, women, and children to their gods, including “thank-offerings” of children. The priests tried to sacrifice Abraham, but an angel appeared to set him free and to inform him that he would be led to another land and given God’s priesthood.
According to the Book of Abraham, the first Pharaoh was the grandson of Ham, Noah’s son. He was a righteous man who “judged his people wisely and justly all his days” (if only we could resurrect him now!). However, for some reason he was “cursed” with a denial of the priesthood, which led him to “imitate that order” of righteous rule by inspired men. Unfortunately, the scriptures record that the Pharaoh’s cheap imitation of legitimate priesthood rule ultimately led his people into idolatry. Today Egypt’s police state fools no one when it spouts the language of democracy and tolerance while it cracks head and jails opponents. Illegitimate rule by Pharaohs, both ancient and modern, cannot produce an enlightened civil society. As we view the disturbing images from Cairo and other cities, let us pray for another intervention by angels on behalf of the innocent.
Rabbi Lori Schneide and I will be speaking on the role of Israel in our respective faiths at USC on February 9th.