15 December 2014

Exodus: Gods and Kings -- Leaving out the best parts of the story

I was inspired to see the movie by Christian Bale's comment on Moses, the character he played in the movie.
I think the man was likely schizophrenic and was one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life.
He said that he prepared for the role by reading the stories about him in the Bible and the Quran, along with Jonathan Kirsch's excellent book on Moses.

And Christian Bale was certainly right about that. It's hard to find a more barbaric individual than Moses, outside of the Bible anyway.

But that wasn't how Moses was portrayed in the movie. And Gods and Kings completely left out the most interesting parts of the Exodus story.

The movie was supposedly based upon the first 32 chapters of the book of Exodus. Here are some of the exciting details that were left out of the movie:

  1. God teaches Moses some magic tricks (Exodus 4:2-9)
    Moses worried that the Pharaoh wouldn't listen to him when he told him to let his people go. So God taught Moses some magic tricks to impress the Pharaoh. First, throw your rod on the ground; it will become a snake. Then grab the snake by the tail and it will become a rod again. Next, make your hand appear leprous, and then cure it. And finally, pour water on the ground and it will turn into blood. None of these instructions were included in the movie.

  2. "Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips." (Exodus 6:12, 30)
    In the biblical story, Moses's brother Aaron plays a major role. Moses has a speech defect (uncircumcised lips), so Aaron becomes God's spokesman and magician. In the movie, Aaron says and does nothing at all.

  3. God hardens the Pharaoh's heart eight times
    (Exodus 4:21; 7:3, 13; 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10)
    (Some hearts are hard even for the God of the Bible to harden.)
    There was no mention of this in the movie.

  4. God tries to kill Moses. (Exodus 4:24-26)
    In the movie, Zipporah (Moses's wife) and Gershom (Moses's first son) play important roles. In the Bible, they are rarely mentioned. About the only time is in Exodus 4:24-26, where God tries to kill Moses. Zipporah saves him by cutting off Gershom's foreskin and throwing it at Moses's feet. Now that would have been a great scene in the movie!

  5. Aaron has a magic competition with Pharaoh's magicians.
    (Exodus 7:9-12)
    God tells Moses and Aaron that when Pharaoh asks for a miracle just throw your rod down and it will become a serpent. So Aaron throws down his rod and it becomes a serpent. But the Egyptian magicians duplicate this trick, too. Luckily, for Aaron, his snake swallows theirs.

  6. "And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments." (Exodus 7:22)
    In the Bible, the first plague begins when Aaron smites the Nile with his rod, turning it into blood. The movie skips Aaron's rod and begins the plague with a crocodile attack. And it completely leaves out the "fact" that Pharaoh's magicians successfully repeated the rivers-to-blood trick.

  7. "And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt." (Exodus 8:7)
    In the movie, the second plague is frogs, just as it is in the Bible. But, once again, the movie doesn't give the Pharaoh's magicians credit for repeating the frog plague. This competition between God and the magicians is a major theme in the book of Exodus.

  8. "Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God." (Exodus 8:19) Only one of the ten plagues isn't mentioned in the movie: the plague of lice. Yet this is the plague that convinced the Egyptian magicians. They couldn't repeat God's lice trick, so they gave up and said, "This is the finger of God."

  9. "All the firstborn of cattle" (Exodus 12:29)
    In the movie, as in the Exodus story, God killed the firstborn Egyptian children. But the movie didn't show God killing the firstborn animals as well, as he did according to Exodus 12:29.

  10. "They borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment." (Exodus 12:35)
    In the Bible (Exodus 11:2), God tells the Hebrews to steal the Egyptians' valuables as they leave. (Later Aaron uses the stolen gold to make a golden calf.) This "borrowing" isn't shown in the movie.

  11. "The LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire." (Exodus 13:21)
    In the movie, God was invisible during the Exodus. In the Bible, God is in a cloud in the daytime and a fire at night.

  12. "The Lord ... took off their chariot wheels." (Exodus 14:24-25)
    What a great scene this would have made! God (maybe as a little boy) getting out there with his wrenches and whatnot taking off the wheels of the Egyptian's chariots.

  13. "Be ready against the third day: Come not at your wives."
    (Exodus 19:15)
    The night before going up on Mount Sinai to receive the commandments, Moses tells the men not to have sex with their wives. This would have been a fun line in the movie.

  14. "And they saw the God of Israel: and ... under his feet ... a sapphire stone." (Exodus 24:10)
    In the Bible (but not in the movie), Moses, Aaron, and seventy elders saw God on Mount Sinai. (They even got a peek at his feet!)

  15. Aaron's golden calf (Exodus 32:1-4)
    Aaron makes a golden calf (out of the gold the Israelites stole from the Egyptians) and tells the people to take off their clothes and dance around naked. (There is only the slightest hint of this in the movie, when it shows campfires along with some dancing.)

  16. "Let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them." (Exodus 32:10)
    God tells Moses that he wants to kill all of the Israelites for dancing naked around the golden calf that Aaron made.

  17. "Wherefore should the Egyptians speak." (Exodus 32:12)
    Moses talks God out of killing everyone by using the age-old argument, "What will the neighbors think?".

  18. Who is on the LORD's side? (Exodus 32:26)
    God tells Moses, Aaron, and the other Israelite leaders to kill their family and friends for dancing naked around Aaron's golden calf. "And there fell of the people that day about 3000 men." This would have been a fitting ending for the movie.

Ultimately, I agree with Eric D. Snider's review of Exodus at GeekNation.com:

This big dud isn’t blasphemous enough to be outrageous, emotional enough to be inspiring, or interesting enough to be good.

It would have been a lot more blasphemous, emotional, and interesting if it had of stuck to the biblical story. It might even have been good.

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