Years before the Anno Domini calendar was instituted, an extended family moved to Egypt to avoid the drought and famine in the country where they tended sheep. The ruling pharaoh gave them their own territory where the sheep wouldn’t mix with Egypt’s cattle. In this good land the generations gave birth to more generations.
In time the sons and daughters of Israel, as they were called, were so numerous that in the current Pharaoh’s mind they threatened his power. He didn’t remember the famine, or the original Israel. His advisors suggested he look at the Israelites as a cheap labor pool and get to work on his tomb.
Through decades of hardship the Israelites began to remember the God of their great-grandfathers. They prayed that He do something to relieve their suffering. He planned their release from enslavement, and decided to transfer to the slaves the blessings Egypt had received. He instructed his people to claim the wealth of the Egyptians on their way out of town.
After enduring blood, boils and death, the Egyptians pushed their riches on the work-hardened slaves. As part of the Exodus, gold jewelry, coins, and fabric traveled with the Israelite families.
From this story came the saying, take gold from the Egyptians. It simply means take a look at any learning and wisdom. After ruminating I can decide whether or not the idea fits with my personal credo. At least that’s the way I read it.
I attended a writers’ conference and was describing to another attendee the wisdom I had gained from an author. When I showed the book* to her, I was surprised to be chastised that Nouwen was a Roman Catholic.
Well, I knew that. What I didn’t know was the wisdom found on a particular page which I was overjoyed to learn. And share.
Shamed, I took back the book, slunk to my seat and quietly muttered, “The rain falls on the just and the unjust fella. But mostly on the just because the unjust took the just’s umbrella.”
*Nouwen, Henri J.M. The Wounded Healer. Doubleday. Garden City, NY. 1972.