from my Passover haggadah, April 2011
NARRATOR: Previously, in Genesis:
GOD: It sure is dark in here… <claps twice> Hey, that worked!
ABRAHAM: Man, I can’t keep track of all these gods, can’t I consolidate all my worship into one easy deity?
GOD: Although, not so easy. Go kill your son Isaac.
GOD: J/k, j/k! Chill out, theologians.
ISAAC: I’m a pretty passive figure, overall. Jacob, Esau, what are you boys doing?
JACOB: Just stealing Esau’s birthright, Dad!
ESAU: I hate you.
RANDOM ANGEL: Me too! Let’s wrestle. On a ladder. Just because.
JACOB: Whatever, I am Israel, I can do whatever I want. C’mon, wives, let’s get cracking on this “descendants as plentiful as the stars” business, if you know what I mean.
JOSEPH: Hey guys! I had this dream that you were all bundles of grain and you were bowing down to me! Isn’t that funny guys? Why are you throwing me in this hole? Did someone take my technicolor dreamcoat? Hey guys? Guys?
POTIPHAR’S WIFE: You there! Slave boy! How you doin’?
JOSEPH’S PHAROAH: Man, these weird dreams suck. I wonder if there’s anyone locked in my dungeon who can interpret them for me.
JOSEPH: Me! Me me me! So either there’s going to be 7 years of plenty and 7 years of famine, or you want to bone your mother. 5 cents, please.
JOSEPH’S PHAROAH: Such low rates!
JOSEPH: For you, I make a deal. Now let’s talk royalties.
NARRATOR: And so Joseph became the Pharoah’s chief of staff, and invited Jacob, Joseph’s asshole brothers, and 70 other free-loading relatives to shlep down to Egypt and settle in the land of Goshen. Several hundred years pass, and the Hebrews, as we are now calling them for some reason, have been fruitful and multiplied. Then there came a pharoah who knew not Joseph…
PHAROAH: I know not Joseph, but I do know that these Hebrews are really ruining the neighborhood.
ROYAL BUTLER: You can’t kick them out, sir; they’ve got rent control.
PHAROAH: Bah! Might as well make them useful, then. What are they good at?
BUTLER: Nothing very useful, sir. Comedy writing, standardized tests, and kvetching.
PHAROAH: Well, let’s give them something to kvetch about. This view of the Nile would look a lot nicer with some big pointy brick things, don’t you think?
NARRATOR: So the Hebrews became slaves. But they kept having more and more children, so they’d have someone to complain to.
BUTLER: Sir, the Hebrews still won’t go away. They’re just packing more children into their huts.
PHAROAH: They’ll never give up a nice deal like Goshen as long as they have kids who can inherit it. Tell the midwives Shifrah and Puah to kill every baby boy born to a Hebrew woman.
PUAH: This job blows.
SHIFRAH: I so didn’t sign up for this.
PUAH: Let’s tell Pharoah that the Hebrew women are unnaturally vigorous and give birth before we can get there. The ruling class always likes to hear that the disenfranchised are hardy and animalistic.
NARRATOR: Thanks to Shifrah and Puah, a Hebrew woman named Yochevet gave birth to a baby boy and was able to hide him from the authorities. But after a few months he was too big to hide, so with great sadness, she put the baby in a basket and floated it down the Nile. The baby’s sister Miriam hid among the bulrushes to see what would happen to her little brother.
PHAROAH’S DAUGHTER: Hey look, a basket! With a baby in it! Aww, can I keep it?
MIRIAM: But you’d have to nurse it and take care of it and stuff.
P’s DAUGHTER: Oh. Well, am I a princess or am I a princess? I’ll hire someone.
MIRIAM: I know just the woman for the job.
NARRATOR: So Yochevet was hired to nurse her own son, which is a pretty great scam, and though Moses grew up in the court of the pharoah, he never forgot his birth mother’s teachings. One day, Moses was slumming it in Goshen, and he saw a slavedriver cruelly whipping a Hebrew.
MOSES: Dude, relax.
SLAVEDRIVER: Relax? I’ve got production deadlines to meet, and these lazy Hebrews aren’t meeting their brick-baking quota, and you’re telling me to relax?
MOSES: Maybe if you were a little nicer to them…
SLAVEDRIVER: “Nice” don’t get you bargain rate pyramids, mister. Or did you never think about where all your fancy papyrus comes from?
NARRATOR: He hadn’t, actually, and so Moses did what any privileged young man would do when confronted with the source of his privilege – got angry and blamed someone else. Moses picked up a rock and killed the slavedriver.
MOSES: Uh oh.
NARRATOR: So he skedaddled the hell out of Egypt and had a nice long wander in the desert, before coming across a lovely shiksa named Zipporah.
ZIPPORAH: Hey, stranger. New to this strange land?
MOSES: Sure am.
NARRATOR: And Moses spent a couple decades chilling with the Bedouins. Meanwhile, things kinda sucked for the Hebrews.
ALL: Grumble grumble grumble grumble
NARRATOR: But God heard their grumbling. One day, Moses was chilling with his sheep at the foot of Mount Sinai, when the mountain went all lightning-y. When Moses reached the summit, he found a bush that burned with flame, yet was not consumed.
GOD: Moses, Moses.
MOSES: Here I am!
GOD: Take off your shoes. I just vacuumed the holy ground.
MOSES: Who are you?
GOD: I want you to go into Egypt and tell Pharoah to let my people go.
MOSES: Okay great, but who are you?
GOD: I Am Who I Am.
MOSES: But who should I tell Pharoah has sent me?
GOD: I Am Who I Am.
MOSES: That’s… not very grammatical.
GOD: No, it’s tetragrammatical! Zing!
MOSES: Listen, can’t you get someone else to do this? I’m busy. I have to… shampoo my sheep.
MOSES: No seriously. I am slow of tongue. I mean, sloooww offff toooongggguuuueeee…
GOD: Get your brother Aaron to talk for you. He was always the cute one.
NARRATOR: Moses went back to Egypt and found Aaron, who was in fact the cute one, and they marched in to Pharoah’s palace and said:
AARON: Let my people go!
AARON: Oh. Please?
P’s DAUGHTER: Okay!
AARON: What if we start a bunch of Facebook groups and stand in the town square for a few weeks?
PHAROAH: Why would that help?
AARON: Bound to work eventually…
MOSES: Psst, Aaron! Try the staff thing.
NARRATOR: Aaron raised his staff over the Nile, and the water turned to blood. Or red like blood. Depending who you ask. Either way, for seven days and nights it was pretty nasty stuff. But the Pharoah’s magicians were also able to turn water into red stuff, so Pharoah was unimpressed.
PHAROAH: Moses, Moses, Moses. What else have you got?
NARRATOR: Next, Aaron summoned up a plague of frogs. Hundreds, thousands of frogs, hopping all over Egypt on their little frog legs. But the magicians could pull frogs out of their hat too, and Pharoah’s heart was hardened. Next came gnats, which are really gross.
PHAROAH: Ew ew ew! Make them go away! Make them go away and you can leave!
NARRATOR: But God hardened Pharoah’s heart, which is one of those problematic translation things that I’m just gonna skip right over, and everyone went back to the drawing board. There were flies, and cattle disease, and boils. Then shit got real. It hailed great big hailstones that burst into flame. Locusts came and devoured the crops. And Moses stretched out his hand and—
MOSES: <claps twice>
NARRATOR: —drew a darkness over Egypt for three days.
BUTLER: Okay, sir? I’m covered in boils, there’s nothing to eat, and I keep walking into frog carcasses because I can’t see where I’m going. Let those people go.
PHAROAH: Sorry, my heart’s been hardened. Out of my hands.
AARON: Alright, but listen. This last plague’s not going to be pretty.
NARRATOR: God spoke to Moses and Aaron, and gave them a shopping list which has changed little in five thousand years, with the same old bitter herbs and unleavened bread, along with a nice dab of lamb’s blood for the doorway so that the angel of death would pass over their house. And at midnight, the angel of death swept through the land of Egypt, and slew the first-born of all the Egyptians.
PHAROAH: Get out! Out out out! Scram! Beat it!
BUTLER: You’re not going to harden your heart again, right sir?
PHAROAH: Well… I do have all these annoying unfinished pyramids… And that Sphinx could sure use a nose.
BUTLER: Which you’ll want the Israelites for, obviously! …It’s funny because they have big noses.
PHAROAH: To the chariots!
NARRATOR: Meanwhile, the Israelites had reached the Red Sea.
MIRIAM: This doesn’t look good. Do we ford the river?
PHAROAH: I’m coming for you, Israel!
MOSES: I guess we’re not waiting to see if conditions improve. Onwards!
NARRATOR: And Moses raised his staff and parted the sea, and the children of Israel walked across on dry land. But when Pharoah’s chariots tried to follow, their wheels got stuck in the mud, and when the last Israelite reached the bank the waters came crashing back down, drowning the Egyptians.
MIRIAM: Hurrah! Now what?
MOSES: I have to climb this mountain, brb.
NARRATOR: The Israelites, however, were not very patient.
ISRAELITE 1: Where’s Moses?
ISRAELITE 2: I’m bored!
ISRAELITE 3: Can we eat yet?
AARON: Hey guys! You know what would pass the time? Why don’t you give me all your gold and jewelry, and I’ll build a giant shiny cow!
MIRIAM: Why do slaves have gold?
AARON: We looted the Egyptians on our way out.
MIRIAM: Seriously? That doesn’t seem very under-doggy of us…
AARON: Listen, do you want to hear one of the lesser-known stories where our guys forcibly circumcise our enemies? Or do you want to make a shiny cow?
MOSES: I am back! I am back and I have brought you these two stone tablets, which contain the – oooh, shiny! <drops the tablets> Uh oh. Hope I saved the receipt…
NARRATOR: But God gave the children of Israel another chance and gave the law to Moses again. But as punishment, the corrupted former slaves had to die off before they could enter the Promised Land. Forty years of wandering later, they finally reached their new homeland. Unfortunately some other people lived there already, but that’s not a very pleasant story and these four glasses of wine aren’t going to drink themselves, so let’s just pretend the Israelites made friends with their new neighbors and didn’t massacre them at all, and nothing troublesome or morally abhorrent ever happened in the land of Israel ever again. The end!