Moses Gets Animated

On South Park, Family Guy, The Simpsons, and Robot Chicken.

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Family Guy

In season 5, episode 17 of Fox's Family Guy, Peter Griffin tells his wife and children the Griffin family history. Somehow a Griffin (who always looks and acts just like Peter, Rhode Island accent and all) has been deeply involved in many of the most important moments in human history--including the exodus from Egypt. The biblical Moses, according to Peter, was in fact a Griffin. Naturally.
moses griffin
Moses is shown at various stages of leaving Egyptian enslavement, including the giving of the Ten Commandments. These commandments, however, bear little resemblance to the biblical list. They are as follows (Moses only gets through four before moving on):

1) Shut the hell up.

2) There's nothing I can do about the sun.

3) There are no more Jolly Ranchers, they're all gone.

4) When we pass a billboard, please don't read it out loud.

Immediately after this scene, the shot cuts to the people doing exactly what they were just told not to do--much like the Israelites in the Bible.

Family Guy
sees the Exodus as not only the birth of a nation, but prime joke material. The Israelites are a bunch of tired, whiny ex-slaves traipsing blindly through the desert with only one leader to which they can lodge their many, many complaints. Moses is frustrated with his people, and with good reason. They are impossible to work with.
The sketch, in context of the rest of the family history portrayed in the episode, illustrates the indefatigable stubbornness of human nature.

The Simpsons

In season 10 of the now legendary animated series The Simpsons, an episode called "Simpsons Bible Stories" depicts the respective characters' dreams while sleeping in church. In each of the dreams, the main character becomes a biblical figure and the narrative is re-imagined from his or her personal point of view. Lisa, consistent with her character's penchant for social justice, dreams of being present at the time of the plagues in Egypt and subsequent freeing of the Israelite slaves.

Moses is portrayed by Bart's wimpy, ever-present sidekick Milhouse. Lisa becomes Milhouse's Aaron, guiding him and speaking for him. Naturally, Principal Skinner plays Pharaoh, and the Israelites are portrayed by classmates from school (the children are slaves...to education).

Lisa, ever intelligent and logical, is uncomfortable with the idea of miracles. Even in her dream the Sea of Reeds does not part on its own--it happens after the characters simultaneously flush all the toilets in the city (she is apparently more comfortable with anachronism than miracles). This segment, and really the entire episode, confronts literal readings of the Bible, which may be the only option offered in Springfield by Pastor Lovejoy. But in Lisa’s dream, nothing is taken for granted; everything is explained, even if the explanation is just as improbable as the miracle. 

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Miriam Brosseau

Miriam Brosseau is a musician and Jewish educator based in Chicago, IL. She and her husband, producer Alan Jay Sufrin, make up the "biblegum pop" duo Stereo Sinai.