Moses

For all those holding Passover.

I remember Moses. He stood there before Old Man Pharaoh, stuttering and telling him, “Let my People go.” That day he was as tall as the day is long as it stretches from dawn to sunset. The Egyptians laughed. How dare Moses insult them with his arrogance. When the Old Man refused to let us go, Moses stretched out the staff of the Lord and gave him ten plagues, each one worse than the last.

Then Moses stood before a crowd of us. We were angry because Pharaoh had added more to our work than we could bear. More straw, more brick, that wicked man demanded from us. Moses stuttered till his brother Aaron spoke his words.

“Pharaoh will let the People go,” Aaron said, but he did not believe. None of us did. When you’re a slave and the Master has used you all up, what hope do you have?

Then the tenth plague bore down on all the households of that accursed land. The Angel of Death roved around that Passing-over night from midnight until dawn, going from house to house, killing Egyptian children. But our babies were spared. The Lord had told us to mark the doors of our houses with the blood of a lamb. This we had done.

That night the Nile ran red with despair. The Papas and the Mamas of Egypt grieved a grief as sad a lamentation as any heard by that River in its long years since the beginning of the world. It was their first-borns that Death snatched from their arms and sent to the grave. There were some fine Egyptians, but the Angel spared none of them.

Next we heard Pharaoh commanded Moses to take his scum and go.

“Go. Leave. I will not see you any more,” Pharaoh’s anger spoke and it spoke hard. “Get thee hence.”

His gods had failed him. Where was Horus when the Lord of the Two Lands, Ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt, needed him? His son, his only child, his heir by the woman whom he loved more than all his kingdom, his only son was dead. While the priests prepared the son of Pharaoh for burial in the Valley of the Kings, we rejoiced and danced in the streets. Our deliverance had finally come.

“We’re free,” my uncle Eleazar shouted. “Our jailers are jailers no more.”

The sun rose early that new day as we gathered in the Land of Goshen. Everywhere there were people, our people. There were so many of us that the streets buckled under the load of our weight. We had not known that our father Jacob had so many children.

Calmly standing above us, and before us, was Moses. He raised his staff of oak and turned toward the sea and led us out from that land of our slavery toward a new home in a Promised Land.

Near 500 words: Joshua in Charge

Recently I read the Book of Joshua in the The Old Testament. It inspired this story.

After Moses died, Joshua was put in charge of the Israelites. He’d been around since Egypt and he’d never given Moses any lip. It was always “Yes, Sir” and “No, Sir” and “How high, Sir?” He was a Libra and he could charm the pants off the most rebellious Israelite. On top of that, he put on the best shows. His “Forty Years in the Wilderness Without Any Pants (‘Cause Guys Wear Dresses)” was a real hoot of a musical.

So God knew He had His guy when Moses suggested Joshua would be perfect for the job. Joshua wasn’t so sure.

“Why don’t you go with Caleb?” Joshua suggested.

“You know how he is. He’ll go off and shoot himself in the foot. No, you’re My guy.”

“I’ll give it a try but–”

“I have just the thing. Roll up your sleeve, Josh.”

“What for, Sir?

“I’m going to give you a shot of self confidence.”

“You know I don’t like needles.”

“There. Did that hurt?”

“A little bit.”

“Let me kiss it and it’ll be all better.”

“Well, okay. Do I get a lollypop?”

God kissed the boo-boo, then handed Joshua two lollypops.

“My favorites,” Joshua said. “Root beer and Wild Strawberry. Yummy.”

After a late night with the Almighty, Joshua went back to camp. He gathered everybody and said, “I have some good news, and I have some bad news.”

“What’s the good news?” Levi called out.

“The good news is we’re going to kick some Canaanite butt.”

“Aw right,” the crowd cheered.

Never one to take good news well, Judah shouted, “So what’s the bad news?”

“It’s not really bad,” Joshua holding back.

“C’mon,” Levi said. “We can take it. After all, what can be worse than the manna we’ve been eating for forty years. We’re ready for some of that milk and honey.”

“Yeah,” Reuben yelled. “Especially that honey part.”

“Okay, guys,” Joshua said. “You asked for it. We have to let our pee pees go.”

Boos went through the crowds. If this had been a movie, the soundtrack would have been playing Bob Dylan and “Everybody must get stoned.” Them Israelites had rocks in their hands and they were ready to rock ‘n’ roll.

“C’mon, fellas,” Joshua pleaded. “It’s for a good cause. After all, there are no free rides.”

“I knew there had to be a catch,” Judah said. “After all, it’s Friday the 13th. On top of that, it’s a full moon.”

“Yeah,” Reuben grimaced, “But circumcision. That’s gonna hurt.”

“So who’s going to do the deed?” Levi wanted to know. Not happy but still he was a Levite. And Levites were God’s Guys.

Joshua hesitated, then said really slow-like, “Brad.”

“Brad!” Judah, Levi and Reuben let out. “Not Brad.”

A roar went out from the crowd like an echo, “Not Brad.”

“He’s the only one with a knife,” Joshua said. “The rest of you have swords. And I gotta tell you, ain’t nobody going to take a sword to my…well, you know.”

“But Brad is blind as a bat,” Reuben said.

“And cross-eyed to boot,” Judah added.

“The Almighty’s got you covered on those two things,” Joshua said. “Brad’s got glasses now.”

“But what if he misses?” Reuben asked. “Even with glasses?”

“Let’s just say you’ll be eunuch,” Joshua said, then, “I’m going to need some of you guys to volunteer for trumpet lessons. We’re going to have a big performance at Jericho.”