“Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt.” (Exodus 12:40–41)
Ridley Scott’s recently released Exodus: Gods and Kings has proved to be quite controversial in Arab countries, including Egypt, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.
While the film makes little attempt to be historically accurate, it does dramatize the story of Moses (played by Christian Bale) leading the Jews out of Egypt, a story that God has commanded the Jewish People to retell every year at Passover.
Yet, because of its “religious mistakes,” Morocco and the United Arab Emirates have banned it.
“We found that there are many mistakes, not only about Islam but other religions too. So, we will not release it in the UAE,” Juma Obeid Al Leem, the director of Media Content Tracking at the National Media Council stated. (Haaretz)
Egypt has also censured Scott’s epic for presenting, “a Zionist view of history” and for showing both Egyptians and Jews in a racist light.
According to some critics, the movie represents the ancient Egyptians to be “savages” and the Hebrews of Moses’ day to be rebels that staged an armed rebellion.
An Egyptian censorship board statement explained that Egypt objected to the “intentional gross historical fallacies that offend Egypt and its pharaonic ancient history in yet another attempt to Judaize Egyptian civilization, which confirms the international Zionist fingerprints all over the film.”
According to Egyptian cultural minister Gaber Asfour, the epic is a “Zionist film” because it presents Jewish slaves as the builders of the pyramids. The pyramids are popularly seen to have been finished hundreds of years before the birth of Abraham, the shared patriarch of Israel and the Arab World. (avclub)
It is unclear where the idea that the Jewish People built the pyramids originates. The Bible only states that the Jewish People built the store cities of Rameses and Pithom.
“So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh.” (Exodus 1:11)
The movie also shows the Hebrews conducting a violent uprising as they left Egypt. However, in the Biblical account, Moses acquired permission from Pharaoh to allow the people to go into the wilderness to bring sacrifices to Israel’s God.
In addition, by this time, God had conducted signs and wonders in Egypt. The Hebrews embarked on their Exodus from the land when “the Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people.” (Exodus 12:36)
Their escape, while undercover, was conducted peacefully and only God’s hand brought about destruction against Egypt.
“The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is His name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he has hurled into the sea. The best of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea. The deep waters have covered them; they sank to the depths like a stone. Your right hand, Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, Lord, shattered the enemy.” (Exodus 15:3–6)
Another inaccuracy in the film, according to both the Bible and the Koran, is the representation of the waters parting due to an earthquake.
Both the Bible and the Koran state that the waters parted miraculously when Moses acted on God’s instructions. The Bible tells us that God commanded Moses to stretch his hand out over the water and the Koran states that Moses struck the water with his rod.
As well, the movie is criticized for its use of white actors.
While the film has plenty of legitimate inaccuracies for Jews and Muslims to be concerned about, banning Jewish-related films or events is not uncommon. In recent days, Egypt’s Administrative Court of Alexandria banned a festival to honor the memory of Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira (the “Righteous from Morocco”), whose tomb has drawn hundreds of Jewish pilgrims in visits organized by Egypt since the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. The court also ordered that the tomb be removed from the Egyptian cultural monuments list.
The court’s decision came in response to complaints by locals, starting in 2001, who claimed the festival allowed men and women to mingle and drink alcohol, and complained that it showed a normalization of ties with Israel. (Ynet)