On page 48 of today’s reading, we see these lines:
Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgement. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.
The footnote on the word “redeem” reads
In this instance, redeem refers to rescue from captivity. It can also refer to the payment of the price required to release a guilty person from an obligation.
When we use the word “redeem” today, we’re usually referring to some sort of a discount code or coupon, that entitles us to get a bargain on a purchase. I don’t think that God is shopping for bargain-basement worshippers here (thought it sometimes seems like that’s what he’s getting!) , but I’m also not sure I entirely agree with the interpretation placed on the word in the footnote. Later on in the story, we learn that God claims the first born of all livestock and people as His own. (At least, in the full Bible that’s there. I’m not sure we cover that in “The Story”) The first born of livestock are to be sacrificed to God, but the first born among the children can be redeemed by paying the appropriate price. So, to my mind, “redeemed” means to pay a price to take possession, or lay claim, from the one who currently has a legitimate claim.
Of course, regardless of whether you interpret “redeem” as I do, or as the editors of “The Story” do, there’s still an obvious question: what is “the price” that was paid? It seems that the Egyptians, rather than God or the Israelites, are the ones who paid. They suffered under all of the plagues, up to and including the death of the first born of all, from high to low. What did God pay? As I type this, a couple thoughts come to mind:
- Forced intervention. If people have free will, then why did God “harden Pharaoh’s heart?” Was the price God had to pay the meddling in His own creation? (I’m not sure that really makes sense, I’m just throwing it out for discussion)
- The first born of Israel. As I mentioned, God claims the first born of Israel as his own. Perhaps that claim is the redemption cost of the people of Israel
Any other thought on this, or on the topic of redemption in general?
Of course, the upper story claims the price is God’s own firstborn. Not sure who gets paid, though … So, is there a price God pays in the lower story? And if so, to whom?