“The Ten Commandments” Turns 60

At the 60th anniversary of its release, Cecil B. DeMille’s epic film may still be the best known Hollywood adaptation of a biblical story. Alex Joffe reflects on how The Ten Commandments has withstood the test of time, and compares it with more recent cinematic retellings of the same story (free registration required):

The real star of The Ten Commandments is God, who speaks directly to Moses and works miracles that ultimately convince Rameses to let the Israelites go. Divine intervention and national liberation is the essence of the biblical account. What a contrast with Ridley Scott’s 2014 retelling in Exodus: Gods and Kings, where Moses is a freedom fighter and God a vision brought on by a childhood blow to the head, or with the 1998 animated Prince of Egypt, where Moses cries because of the plagues and the musical numbers sound like rejects from Frozen.

DeMille . . . through clever dialogue and narration [also] Americanizes the Exodus. . . . Moses’ last words in the film, “Go—proclaim liberty throughout all the lands, unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10), also inscribed on the Liberty Bell, make the connection between ancient Israel and America clear. . . .

There are no “timeless” films, but DeMille’s The Ten Commandments comes closer than many, because of its subject matter, epic scale, and outsized social impact. Whether its messages of human liberty and the enduring relationship between God and the Israelites still resonate, in America or elsewhere, is another question.

Read more at ASOR

More about: Arts & Culture, Exodus, Film, Hebrew Bible, Hollywood, Ten Commandments


Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security