From the Archives: The Pharaohs of the Oppression and the Exodus

POST BY RSomerset

Pen and ink sketch of a pharaoh with caption Ramses as a boy
Ramses as a boy

As we turn the pages of the Old Testament the wish can hardly fail to arise in us – that more could be told us about the characters of whom we read.

Once more we turn to the Blandyke Papers for inspiration for the first of this month’s Archives’ blog posts, and what could be more fitting than this piece 'The Paraohs of the Oppression and Exodus' by Fr Cyril Martindale SJ (1879-1963) of February 1900, as we enter Lent and prepare for Easter.

There are many parallels that can be drawn between Easter and the Passover and Exodus of the Old Testament. In a series of events in which God freed his people from bondage, established a relationship with them and gave them new land and life, the Exodus is an example of God’s salvation, victory and redemption, and can be viewed as a forerunner for Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The Bible tells how the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt and eventually escaped under the leadership of Moses. At least one or two pharaohs are involved, the "pharaoh of the oppression" who enslaves the Israelites, and the "pharaoh of the exodus", during whose rule the Israelites escape. In his article, Fr Martindale identifies these pharaohs, based on the consensus of Egyptologists of his day, as Ramses II who reigned 1279–1213 BC and his successor, Merneptah, 1213-1203 BC, and sets about describing their characters.

Details from Fr Martindale’s article

Fr Martindale entered the Society at Manresa 7 September 1897 aged 18. He was clearly a keen illustrator with an interest in the ancient world, and the writer of his obituary in Letters & Notices comments, “One wonders what has become of his beautifully drawn maps illustrating the battles of the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars which used to hang at the top of the Sacred Heart stairs at Manresa.”

Mary Allen, Assistant Archivist