Do not envy the wicked,
do not desire their company;
for their hearts plot violence,
    and their lips talk about making trouble.

You had me at “Do not envy.”

Those three words, just one in Hebrew, are really the way to go.

It’s a good rule to live by. But, the next word is a game changer. We translate it evil but the Hebrew word is Ra.

In ancient Egypt, Ra was the Sun god. The king, Pharaoh, claimed to be Ra incarnate. That’s why he oppressed the Hebrew slaves the way his did — he claimed to be working by Ra’s power.

3,500 years removed, I’m an outsider. Neither Egyptian nor Hebrew, I’ve got no skin in the game. Still, I can see how Pharaoh would be envied. He had the biggest pyramid, not to mention the Sphinx. It’s easy to envy someone with more toys. Some things don’t change.

Problem one, is we don’t know how they got there. There are a lot of people who have big toys and worked hard to get them. This wasn’t Pharaoh story. He built his empire on the back of slaves. He kept people down to get where he was. His oppression made is nickname Ra synonymous with evil.

If you are going to envy make sure you envy the whole thing. To envy Ra, you have to envy the entire oppressive system. There are strings attached — even for Ra.

His oppression lead to paranoia which in turn lead to more oppression. Because he enslaved the Hebrew’s he was afraid they would rebel. The story is in Exodus 1 and if you read until verse 15 he is killing infants. It doesn’t get more oppressive than that. Imagine the shame and paranoia that evoked — but, he had the biggest pyramid.

The next time I find myself growing envious, I hope I at least wonder what I don’t know about the system.

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