Passover thoughts on slavery in Egypt

From lectures that I’ve heard by scholars of Ancient Egypt, U.S.-style plantation slavery was not common in that society. A person referred to as a “slave” in Ancient Egypt may simply have been subject to paying a 20 percent income tax, for example, that “free” citizens were not subject to.

As noted in Wikipedia, there is minimal support for the historical truth of the Exodus story in the (otherwise excellent) written records of Ancient Egypt.

Suppose that Jews were indeed once “slaves” in Egypt, i.e., subject to higher-than-usual taxes. How would they be doing in modern times? PwC says that Egypt has a personal income tax rate that tops out at 22.5 percent. Compare to Israel at 50 percent and the U.S. at potentially over 50 percent (broken up into 37 percent federal and 13.3 California state income tax, for example).

Is this sort of like the founding myth of the U.S.? We tell K-12 children in our government-run schools that we started at war against Great Britain because of cruel and high taxation yet now the UK has lower taxes than the U.S. in a lot of areas, e.g., for entrepreneurs whose total tax bill of 10 percent in the UK will be lower than their state tax bill alone in California.

Oh yes, as long as we’re talking about Britain and Passover, as the Labour Party would say… “Happy Passover to readers who are practicing Jewcraft!”

[Separately, what about creating a Shmura Cheez-It Matzah cracker? Everyone likes Cheez-Its, right? And they’re not all that bread-like.]

14 thoughts on “Passover thoughts on slavery in Egypt

  1. It was “taxation without representation,” not “cruel and high taxation,” Phil.

    • Talk to an elementary school student, Jack! At least in our town, they are taught that taxes were numerous and at unreasonably high rates.

  2. I am surprised that you don’t include the payroll (FICA) tax, which in 15.3% on the self-employed, and the child support tax, which is 40% of after-tax income on a non-custodial California father of two.

  3. > A person referred to as a “slave” in Ancient Egypt

    Technically, no ancient Egyptians were referred to as a “slaves”. The word “slaves” was coined much later in the medieval ages. Hordes of ideology-fuelled moehamheadists attacked, plundered, and kidnapped peaceful European Slavic farmers. So many “Slavs” were violently captured and forced into labor that “slaves” became synonymous with people sold as chattel.

  4. >> Is this sort of like the founding myth of the U.S….?

    Hmmm. There’s a lot more to history than can be captured in a Twitter post that’s for sure. It’s an interesting question and takes me back to something I was reading on Patriots’ Day, regarding the Townshend Acts and the Boston Massacre. Paul Revere’s famous woodcut of the “Massacre” (which wasn’t called the Boston Massacre right away) wasn’t an accurate rendering of events as they actually transpired. Some would say it was just an unusually effective piece of rabble-rousing, warmongering propaganda. The people in Boston really didn’t like the British presence at all, and in 1770 a drawing, cartoon or a woodcut was about as good as “photojournalism” got. Revere was adept at woodcutting the story people wanted to see:

    The full story of the Boston Massacre in its historical context is a fascinating read. The Townshend Acts, the Massachusetts Circular Letter, the ***HMS ROMNEY*** – oh, it’s amazing.

    “Commodore Samuel Hood responded by sending the 50-gun warship HMS Romney, which arrived in Boston Harbor in May 1768.[10] On June 10, 1768, customs officials seized Liberty, a sloop owned by leading Boston merchant John Hancock, on allegations that the ship had been involved in smuggling. Bostonians were already angry because the captain of Romney had been impressing local sailors; they began to riot,[11] and customs officials fled to Castle William for protection.[12]”

    • Thanks for the link to that Jewish student’s essay. Most interesting to me is that the young undergrad presumes to tell the older professor what should have been on the exam: “Should he instead have had us calculate rat poison? The lethality of bathroom ammonium? Yes. Should he lose his teaching position? No.”

      That’s kind of like

      Maybe this is why old Americans are constantly scheming to steal from the young (e.g., via deficit spending and government borrowing that will load up the young with debt obligations). The young are annoying the old!

  5. This post is an obvious joke. Hebrew slavery in Egypt included 80 years of progressive forced hard labor, at some point murder of all male newborn and building of 2 cities for Pharaoh. About large tax in Israel as they say, freedom is not free. At least it does not have inheritance tax.

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