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The Ten Commandments: A Historically Wrong Film Report

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Updated: Dec 11th, 2021

Introduction

In most cases, movies are developed based on true stories. People come up with movies that document certain historical events. Instances of the event are sequentially organized in a way that people can follow and understand what had happened. On watching a specific movie, one can develop a clear picture of what happened. Characters used in movie development behave exactly as persons they represent in the historical event they try to explain. Movie directors must ensure that all characters behave accordingly for the movie to correctly reflect the event. This ensures that the event is well covered. However, at times, movie directors develop movies that do not cover historical events. Some events go without being addressed while in other instances, events are altered. Watching such movies leads to one not having a clear picture of the historical event while at times, one may get the wrong picture about the events. Various movies have been blamed for not capturing events as they happened. Most of these movies have certain incidences altered while others omit some incidences. This paper aims at analyzing the movie, Ten Commandments, one that is depicted as historically wrong.

The movie reflects a lot of violence meted on Israelites

Based on what is read from the scripture, those responsible for compiling the film, Ten Commandments, failed to capture several issues. Some of the episodes of the movie appear to be total fiction, completely contradicting the events in the scripture. One of the historical aspects that the movie failed to capture was the good things that God did to the Israelites. Most of the Instances in the movie reflected on the violence faced by the Israelites while in Egypt, on their journey to Canaan as well as when they were in Canaan. As the Israelites traveled from Egypt to Canaan, they came across many troubles but their God intervened and helped them overcome them. However, the movie failed to capture such events where God intervened on their behalf (Orrison, 1990, p. 18).

Presentation of Moses

The movie shows Moses as a lunatic who does all the work of delivering Israelites from Egypt without his will. It is like Moses is forced by God to take the responsibility of delivering them. This is wrong. From the bible, it is clear that Moses received his call to liberate the Israelites while in the wilderness herding sheep. God spoke to Moses who willingly accepted to take the responsibility, a sharp contrast to what is seen in the movie. The movie also failed to correctly capture how Moses used to communicate with God. In the movie, for Moses to communicate with God, he had to scream. The movie implies that God did not communicate with Moses till when he became angry with him. According to the scripture, God always spoke to Moses. It did not require Moses to be angry for God to speak with him. The film correctly captured the Israelites complaining. There were numerous instances when the Israelites complained to Moses about their God. For instance, when they were in the desert, they complained about a lack of water and food. They went to an extent of doubting their God and decided to make their own God. Here, God spoke to Moses in an audible voice for Israelites to hear and believe in what Moses was telling them (Orrison, 1990, pp. 21-27). However, the movie did not show an instance where God spoke to Moses in front of Israelites.

Presentation of Moses and Aaron as righteous

The movie directors presented Moses and Aaron as very righteous. The producers attempted to portray them as sinners. This is not the case, going by the scripture. There are incidences in the bible where they both sinned against God. When Moses received the call to deliver the Israelites, he was eighty years old. It does not mean that he had been righteous for the last eighty years. It took God time to mold Moses in readiness for his call. However, the movie fails to show incidences where both Moses and Aaron committed sins. In the movie, Moses is shown killing the Egyptian guard in self-defense. The guard does not recognize him as a prince, and this makes it easier for Moses to kill him. From the bible, the name of this guard is not mentioned while in the movie he has been given the name Baka. Though the bible states that after Moses killed the guard, he met two Israelites who were quarreling, their names are not mentioned. One of the Israelites had witnessed Moses killing the guard (Steinberg, 1980, pp. 5-13). In the movie, the name of this Israelite is given as Dathan. The movie presents Aaron as innocent, even after he forges the golden calf. According to the movie, Aaron does this after being threatened with death for failure to make the calf. Aaron is seen in the movie praying for God’s forgiveness even as he continues molding the calf. From the bible, there is no evidence of Aaron being forced to mold the golden calf. Nowhere in the bible is it written that Aaron was forced to come up with the calf. The bible states that after he finished forging the calf, Aaron build an altar before it and set aside a day for people to celebrate. This clearly shows that he did it out of his will. The movie attempts to exonerate Aaron from sin.

Moses’ Mother

Another area where the movie failed is in describing the woman who gave birth to Moses. According to the bible, this woman was called Yokheved in Hebrew or Jochedeb in English. Her name has been changed in the movie to Yoshebel. Moses’ mother is depicted in the movie as one of the slaves. She is seen to be oppressed and working under very dangerous conditions on a construction site. Going back to history, Moses’ mother hailed from the tribe of Levi. There is nowhere in history that this tribe was seen to be enslaved or oppressed in Egypt. The Levites were known to be shepherds of Israel (Steinberg, 1980, p. 17).

Incidences in the wilderness

There are various incidences in the movie that were wrongly captured compared to what is written in the bible and other historical documents. After Israelites had worshiped the golden calf forged by Aaron, those who participated were killed. The bible says that men were killed for worshiping the idol. However, the movie shows women and children also being killed for worshiping the idol. Manna is the only food shown in the movie that was given to the Israelites while in the desert. Historically, God also sent birds for meat to Israelites. From the Moses is not found to reunite with his family (Steinberg, 1980, pp. 18-23). He is seen as one who gave up his family after being called to deliver the Israelites. However, in the bible, Jethro is said to have brought Moses his wife and children before going back to his land.

Plagues in Egypt

Despite the bible stating that God executed ten plagues before Pharaoh allowed Israelites to leave the country, the movie does not reflect all the plagues. Some of the plagues that are reflected in the movie include darkness, hail, blood, and the death of Pharaoh’s firstborn. Plagues such as flies, frogs, and others are not shown in the movie (New York Times, 2008, p. 17).

Conclusion

After one has read the Israelites’ history in the bible, it is possible to understand that there are numerous incidences that this movie has omitted while at the same time coming up with their incidences that are not in the bible. For a person who has not read the story in the bible, it becomes hard for him or her to connect the actual history with what he watches in the movie. Such a person is not given a clear picture of Israelites’ life in and after they left Egypt. The movie has failed to capture most of the historical events that took place during the time of Moses and Israelites. It is one of the numerous movies that have been criticized for being historically wrong.

Reference

New York Times. (2008). The Ten Commandments (1956).

Orrison, K. (1990). Written in Stone: Making Cecil B. DeMille’s Epic, The Ten Commandments. New York: Vestal Press.

Steinberg, C. (1980). Film Facts. New York: Facts on File, Inc.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "The Ten Commandments: A Historically Wrong Film." December 11, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-ten-commandments-a-film-that-is-historically-wrong/.

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