Exodus: Gods and Kings
By S. Michael Houdmann, Got Questions Ministries
I saw Exodus: Gods and Kings shortly after its release. I must be honest. Based on the accuracy of this year's "biblical" movies, I went into the movie with fairly low expectations. I left the movie pleasantly surprised. Overall, the movie is good and reasonably close to the biblical account. There are only a few things I have significant issues with.
First, the Good
The special effects in Exodus: Gods and Kings are, at times, amazing. The ten plagues on Egypt are portrayed vividly and powerfully. It is one thing to read about plagues of flies, gnats, frogs, and locusts. It is another thing to actually see how disgusting it would be.
The movie stays reasonably close to what the Bible describes in the Book of Exodus. Moses is a Hebrew who was born during a time when the Egyptians were murdering all baby Hebrew males. He is saved by being placed in a basket and floated toward where the daughter of Pharaoh is bathing. Moses is raised in Pharaoh's household, and as an adult he leaves Egypt and becomes a shepherd in the land of Midian. He then marries and has a son. While in Midian, Moses sees a burning bush and God tells him to go back to Egypt. The new Pharaoh rejects Moses' plea to let the Hebrews go free, so God sends ten plagues to convince the Egyptians to set the Hebrew slaves free. It is not until the tenth plague, the death of all the firstborn sons of Egypt, that Pharaoh allows the Hebrews to leave. In response, the Hebrews journey through the desert to the Red Sea, but the Egyptians change their minds and pursue the Hebrews. God miraculously saves the Hebrews and destroys the Egyptians by performing a miracle at the Red Sea. The movie concludes with God giving Moses the Ten Commandments.
In comparison to the recent Noah movie, which absolutely butchered the biblical account of Noah, Exodus: Gods and Kings is a jewel.
Second, the Bad
There is no point in listing all of the biblical inaccuracies. There are many. Some of them are unbiblical, but not necessarily anti-biblical, such as Moses being a general in Pharaoh's army, or Moses not knowing he was a Hebrew until it was revealed to him as an adult, or Moses trying to lead the Hebrews as a freedom fighter until God tells him that He would show Moses how it is done. Others are anti-biblical, but not necessarily crucial aspects of the story, such as Moses being banished because he was a Hebrew rather than fleeing because he had just killed an Egyptian (Exodus 2:11-15), or Moses only being a shepherd in Midian for 9 years instead of 40 (Acts 7:30), or Moses always carrying an Egyptian sword instead of a staff (Exodus 4:3), or the Hebrews crossing the Red Sea on slightly wet ground instead of dry ground with no walls of water on both sides (Exodus 14:22-29). But none of these have a serious impact on the account, so I do not have a huge problem with them. Although I would, of course, prefer that the movie use artistic license without contradicting the biblical account.
Third, the Ugly
There are three things in Exodus: Gods and Kings that I strongly object to. First, from the burning bush scene onward, God appears to Moses as a young boy. I do not object to God appearing as a young boy. God is perfectly capable of appearing in whatever physical form He so desires. My issue with this is that the young boy occasionally acts and speaks like a petulant brat, not as the holy and sovereign creator God of the universe. Especially in the scene in which the young boy tells Moses about the tenth plague, he acts like a spoiled child who wants revenge for not getting what he wants rather than a just and holy God who is going to bring judgment on the Egyptians for the horrible evils they have perpetuated against the Hebrews.
Second, after the tenth plague, Pharaoh comes to Moses carrying his dead child, and asks Moses, "How can you follow a God who would do this?" Moses doesn't respond to the question. Moses only points out that the Hebrews did not lose any children. Moses' lack of response leaves you with the feeling that God is indeed evil, is indeed the petulant little boy who would commit a horrible atrocity for no good reason. Pointing out that the Egyptians had murdered thousands of Hebrew babies in the time period in which Moses was born and had murdered likely tens of thousands of Hebrews in 400 years of brutal slavery would have been very appropriate. Pharaoh, "You reap what you sow" (Galatians 6:7).
Third, in Exodus: Gods and Kings God leaves Moses essentially clueless in regards to what He wants Moses to do. In the biblical account, God gives Moses explicitly clear instructions (Exodus 3:1–4:18). In the movie, during the exodus, Moses does not know which way to go. In the biblical account, God leads the Hebrews with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22). I have no idea why the directors/producers made it appear that God was vague in His instructions to Moses, when the biblical account says the exact opposite.
Exodus: Gods and Kings - my conclusion:
My suspicion, based on how the movie portrays God, is that the producers/directors want viewers to see God as cruel, capricious, petulant, and vengeful. And, sadly, that is the exact opposite of the true message of the exodus. The exodus was a demonstration that God keeps His promises and will not allow 400 years of brutal evil to go unpunished.
Is the movie reasonably biblically accurate? Yes. Does it have minor problems? Yes. Does it have major problems? Yes. Is it worth seeing? Yes, but only if you promise to read Exodus chapters 1-20 in addition to watching the movie.
My favorite part of the movie is near the end, when God tells Moses that He is giving the Hebrews the Ten Commandments so that they will no longer have to rely on a human leader. Excellent thought! Let's all look to the Word of God for truth, wisdom, discernment, and strength (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Reviews-Critiques
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