Rastafarian people share similarities with their role models, the Israelites, from the Biblical Book of Exodus. They are connected through Rastafarianism, a postcolonial religion the Jamaicans created, where the oppressed people sought to return to their ancestral promised land. Songs from Bob Marley such as “Africa Unite,” “Buffalo Soldier,” and “Exodus” display the Jamaican’s overcoming the European colonialism, how urgent it is to unite as one African body, and to return to Ethiopia. This is just like the Book of Exodus when Moses led his fellow oppressed Israelite community out of Egypt from the harsh ruler and returned to Israel. Although the Jamaican people did not make it back as one to their desired destination, much of the Rastafarian period was the recreation of the exodus Moses led.
In the Biblical Book of Exodus, Moses was not originally supposed to be born under the Pharaoh’s rule because he was an Israelite male. Pharaoh decreed all Hebrew boys born were to be killed in the Nile River. Moses survived because Pharaoh’s servants feared God more. This law was one of Pharaoh’s ways to oppress the Hebrew people. It was a tactic to keep the majority of the population from growing as well as implementing slavery. However, that did not stop the Israelites from multiplying in size: “’And now indeed the cry of the Israelites has come to me, and I have also seen how severely the Egyptians oppress them. So now go, and I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt’” (New English Translation, Exodus 3:9-10). In this passage, God is speaking to Moses in the form of a burning bush that he has seen the hardships Pharaoh put the Israelites through, and that he will deliver them from their sufferings. Moses had to trust in the Lord that this plan would work, and believe Pharaoh will release his people to freedom. However, the fear of the potential power this Hebrew community possessed was evident causing Pharaoh to disobey. No matter how stern Pharaoh got, God promised he could be overpowered. This ensured Moses and his fellow Israelites that God’s power and authority could not be challenged:
“’Therefore, tell the Israelites ‘I am the Lord. I will bring you out from your enslavement to the Egyptians, I will rescue you from the hard labor they impose, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you to myself for a people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out form enslavement to the Egyptians. I will bring you to the land I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob – and I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord!’‘“ (Exodus 6:6-8)
Under God’s command, Moses and the Israelites went on the exodus from Egypt of Pharaoh’s rule back to Israel, and received the life they were promised. This exodus showed how faith, patience, and compliance in the Lord would bring deliverance to people in need.