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Exclusive: The Oral History of the Actual Exodus

Exclusive: The Oral History of the Actual Exodus:

With Exodus: Gods and Kings set to open at theaters nationwide, Playboy.com sat down with key participants from the movie’s source material, The Bible. What follows is a candid, behind-the-scenes look at one of scripture’s greatest epochs — Moses and the Exodus.


Fleeing Egypt

MOSES: I know it’s the thing I’m best known for — and I’m grateful — but I didn’t even want to do Exodus, to be honest.

GOD: I knew I needed someone to lead the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt, and here was this mensch, born a Hebrew and raised by Egyptians. “He’s our guy, he’s going to be big,” I was telling everyone, “and he doesn’t even know it yet.”

MOSES: I had some legal troubles. I saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave. I snapped. Killed the guy. I fled to Midian and worked as a shepherd. That’s it for me, I thought. It’s over.

GOD: If you know Moses, you know he’s strong-willed. When he skipped town, everyone thought he’d never come back. So I knew I’d have to get his attention. Then it comes to me — flammable shrubbery.

exodus-gods-and-king-movie-screenshot-burning-bush

MOSES: He still calls it flammable shrubbery? [Looks up at the sky and shakes his head.] The writers changed it to burning bush, which is what I call it. God asked me to lead the Hebrews out of slavery and to the land promised to Abraham by speaking to me through combustible plant life. How do you say no to that? I was in.


Back to Egypt

AARON: People ask me, “Aaron, are you bitter? Your brother Moses got all the attention, even though it was both of you leading the Jews out of Egypt.” I want to say no, but that would be a lie. It ticks me off. He got all the attention, and what did I get? Who remembers Aaron? Nobody. Nobody calls it the Story of Aaron and Moses. Charlton Heston didn’t play Aaron. There is no NBA Hall of Fame center named Aaron Malone. I’m a forgotten man.

MOSES: For the record, my brother helped out with the Exodus.

AARON: As I remember it, Moses and I went to Egypt and met with the Pharaoh. That’s when Moses said, “Let my people go.”

charlton-heston-as-moses-in-the-ten-commandments-1

PHARAOH: I recall the meeting with Moses. I don’t remember anyone else being present. Perhaps Moses’ brother was thinking of some other Pharaoh.

AARON: I was there.

MOSES: If Aaron says he was there, he was there.

GOD: Oh, no. Leave me out of this.

PHARAOH: After I met with Moses, alone, Egypt was afflicted with terrible plagues as punishment for my not releasing the Hebrew slaves, which I could not do, as Egypt had a slave-based economy at the time.

MOSES: The 10th plague killed all of the first-born sons in Egypt, unless you tagged your doorway. Including Pharaoh’s. I guess he was my nephew? Wow. I never thought about that before.

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GOD: I signed off on that. I didn’t mellow out until the New Testament, which is when I finally got away from the wholesale smiting of kids and other various genocides.

PHARAOH: I told Moses, “I will let your people go.”

AARON: I was there, too.


The Parting of the Sea

PHARAOH: I know it looks wishy-washy, me telling Moses to take his people and leave and then sending my army after them, like, a day later. I was really emotional. And you know how they tell you to never make decisions when you’re angry and/or tired? So, yeah, I changed my mind. I am a living god on Earth. I do what I want.

MOSES: I did everything God said, and now we’re trapped between the sea and the Egyptian army. Great.

GOD: Moses prays to me in a panic. “God, you gotta get down here. I need your help now.” Yeah, like I wasn’t watching.

PHARAOH: The Jews are cornered. We’ve got ‘em. We can go back to not building our own cities again.

MOSES: Then God tells me to lift a rod and stretch my arm over the sea to divide the waters. Are you kidding me? But I’m desperate. I’ll try anything at this point.

parting the red sea prince of egypt

CHUMA THE FISHERMAN: I had a nice little fishing boat. Just paid it off. Was coming back to dock with a boat full of fish when the water just splits in half. Now there’s something you don’t see every day!

PHARAOH: My army goes rushing in after the Hebrews.

CHUMA THE FISHERMAN: I couldn’t stop the boat. Sank right to the bottom. I’m watching the Jews go this way, and now I got the Egyptian Army coming at me.

GOD: I’ve got Chuma praying to me, “Hey, any God who’s nearby, could you lift my boat back up to the sea? I’m a little stuck.” I know. I’ll get to it. But I have to save the Chosen people first. Priorities, Chuma the Fisherman.

MOSES: We ran like crazy through that sea. I remember being eye-to-eye with a bewildered whale and thinking, “You and me both, pal.”

PHARAOH: The water rises, and I lose my army. First my work force, now my homeland security.

exodus-gods-kings crushing army

CHUMA THE FISHERMAN: My boat popped back up on top of the water. Thank God.

GOD: You’re welcome.

PHARAOH: Irony of ironies — the only people in Egypt at that time smart enough to catch the Jews would have been the Jews. You can see why we needed them. I stand by my treachery.

CHUMA THE FISHERMAN: It’s funny to laugh about now, but I really thought my boat was going to be stuck at the bottom of the sea for good. How would I explain that to my wife? “Sorry, honey, the thing I spent a lot of our money on is at the bottom of the sea because God opened a hole in the water and saved some people and killed some others.” I mean, my wife didn’t want me to get the boat in the first place. Women don’t understand about boats.


The Covenant

MOSES: We got to Mt. Sinai, and the people made a covenant with God. We would live in God’s eternal love and protection and follow his laws and be his people.

PHARAOH: Ha. Some freedom.

GOD: I gave Moses 10 Commandments. One for each finger — to make them easy to remember. I’m all about the mnemonic devices. Had I given man 20 fingers, the world might be a lot nicer place. Design flaw on my part.

MORDECAI THE TABLET MAKER: I crafted the stone tablets that Moses carved the commandments onto. There was talk of an 11th commandment about when people don’t RSVP to your birthday party but then show up anyway, but it never came to pass.

GOD: Unfortunately, while Moses was meeting with me about the commandments, the people grew restless.

MORDECAI THE GOLDEN CALF MAKER: Yes, I made the golden calf. It’s what I do. I’m Mordecai the Golden Calf Maker, for crying out Pete. And it’s not like the work was rolling in after we fled Egypt. Not like my brother, Mordecai the great Tablet Maker, who was suddenly very popular. So I made a golden calf for the people. For the record, and this part always gets left out, the people loved it. Thought it was fabulous. Best golden calf ever, they raved.

TenCommandments golden calf

JOSHUA, MOSES’ ASSISSTANT: It was a really nice golden calf.

MOSES: I come down with these holy tablets and there’s this golden calf. Unbelievable. I smashed the 10 Commandments.

MORDECAI THE GOLDEN CALF MAKER: More work for Mordecai the Tablet Maker!

MORDECAI THE TABLET MAKER: Moses’ wrath was very good to me. Everybody wanted tablets.

GOD: I was not happy. Not coincidentally, the Hebrews had a rough time after that.

MORDECAI THE TABLET MAKER: Not this guy.


Journey to Canaan

MOSES: We set off, and the people never stopped complaining. “Are we there yet? When will we get there? Where is this land of milk and honey? Why are we not in the land of milk and honey right now? My feet hurt. Why are we always being attacked by hostile forces? Where is the food? Everything is dusty. Moses doesn’t know where he’s going.” We spent 40 years wandering that desert.

SIMON THE DESERT WANDERER: It was great. Best time of my life.

GOD: Because the people could not physically see me, they questioned everything. This was before I invented faith. Duh. Wish I thought of it earlier.

MOSES: When we finally got there, God allowed me to see the Promised Land but not to enter it.

GOD: Moses is not telling the whole story. I told Moses to get some water for his people by talking to a rock. It was a reasonable request. He had no problem talking to a bush, now he’s too big to talk to a rock.

MOSES: I hit the rock instead. I was like, “Really, God. You can’t just wave your hand and give us a lake or something?” So I bashed the rock. I bashed it real good.

JOSHUA: He didn’t listen. That was that. Moses’ time was up. Now it was Joshua Time.

GOD: I let Joshua cross the Jordan River with the children of Israel, like a rookie backup running back being rewarded for a starting running back’s many brutal, life-shortening carries outside the Red Zone. Maybe I was kind of hard on Moses.

SIMON THE DESERT WANDERER: The day we crossed the Jordan? Worst day of my life.

MOSES: God never let me into the Promised Land, but we patched things up. We left things on a good note.

GOD: Moses did a really great job, except for that time he didn’t talk to a rock.

JOSHUA: I remember crossing the Jordan and thinking, “After slavery and 40 years wandering the dessert and all the death and sadness and hardship we experienced, we’ll be good for at least a few thousand years, right? Karma, you know? What else could possibly go wrong for the children of Israel?”


Joe Donatelli is Senior Editor at Playboy.com. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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