A STORY OF MOSES
Ra! The Lord of Light ~ Part I
I was awakened from my slumber by a sound I had not heard for a long time. In the silence of the night I heard the rhythm of horses’ feet upon the ground. It made me afraid, for none of Moses’ people possessed horses. I had not heard this sound since the time I fled from my dwelling in the court of the King, where often the beasts rode in and out, pulling chariots or carrying men. Now the sound was beating on the ground against which I slept. I heard it was not one horse but three, whose hooves beat upon the ground. It seemed it must be the soldiers of the King coming to take me away. Fear made cold my heart and hands as I crouched in my little shelter, unable to move or think where I could flee.
ART : ‘The Egypt Exodus’ ~ The people of Israel leave Egypt as one ~ by Moshe Gabbay, Painter
Moses and his men heard the sound. Their voices came to me from their tents, as did those of the people who stirred from their rest throughout the land, as they heard this unfamiliar sound of riders coming in the silence of the night. Fear was with them, as it was with me, like a living thing that cannot be seen, but is as real as the thickness that comes in the air before the winds which stir the desert into clouds of dust.
The riders called as they came. The people passed them on with the cry of, “Moses, Moses, Moses.” The cry brought the riders ever nearer, till they found the fire that Aaron had blown into a flame that by its light might be seen the riders. I saw that in the shadows stood Moses’ men, who had learned to march and guard and fight, as did the soldiers of the King.
Into the flickering light came two of Pharaoh’s guards. With them was one of the court, still in his robe of pleated linen over which he wore the finely-beaten necklets of gold. On his head still hung the false hair which protected his head from the weight of jewelled ornaments. He did not come down from the panting beast, which he rode, but threw at Moses the message he carried, crying in my own tongue: “Go! Go! Leave our land before all are dead. Leave us with our grieving.”
“What says the King?”, Moses asked.
“There is his seal on his command,” was the reply. “Get you gone!”
With those words he turned his horse. The guards turned with him and they rode away; I heard the sound from the horses growing ever more distant. Suddenly, I was sick in my soul for the sight of my familiar dwelling, for the faces of my people, and for the sound of voices speaking the words I had known all my life, instead of the harsh language of the Hebrews. I wanted to run after the riders to ask them about my son, my wife and children, but they had gone. Naught remained of their coming except the rolls of message which lay at the feet of Moses.
“It has come.” His voice was loud in the still air. “The time has come. The God of our fathers has done as was said. Now must we go forth from Egypt.” I remember how his form seemed to increase in the light of the fire and the men about him seemed to become smaller. The light was growing in the sky as he broke the seal. He read the message so that all might hear and learn how they must go with haste from the land, before the King took back his command.
Then did a strange sound go forth for they had made hollow the ram’s horns. Now they blew upon them to call to one another, and to summon the heads of tribes and the fathers of families. Never did I think to hear such a sound in my land as then went forth, nor yet such a confusion of voices speaking, nor yet such a stirring of people. I have not heard such since. There is great peace in the land beyond death wherein I have dwelled this long, long time with her whom my soul loves above all others.
No one could eat or sleep in the day that followed. All were occupied in the preparations for the going-forth. The sound of the horns summoning the people, the crying of the children, the shouting of men and the wailing of women ~ all this was in my ears as Ra passed in his chariot of fire across the sky. One by one the fathers of families came before Moses to show how their beasts were laden with water, skins well-filled; how their aged and sick were lying on woven mats fastened to two sticks that could easily be carried in the hands of boy-men. Their young children were fastened to the backs of the women. On every one a burden was laden, for all must carry what they could of their possessions.
Then were some of the strong men who had learned to be soldiers sent forth with each family to give them strength, to guide them and to see that they did not return. Many people were afraid to go from the place in which they had lived. Some went away to hide and could not be found, and so they were left when their families set forth.
So it was that I followed after Moses, aware as I did, that never again would I be known to my people. Never would my name be spoken. It was the custom in my land for a man’s name to be neither written or spoken once the King’s anger had caused his death. My going forth with the people of Israel was as my death to those who knew me.
Of our journeyings I have but little memory. My body was burdened with a great weariness as I walked with the people. My limbs had not been made strong with labour nor yet with marching, as had those of the bondmen. I soon felt as must the aged, when weariness seizes their limbs and thirst makes dry the tongue in their mouth. In my memory that time is like a dream made of hunger, pain, weariness, and the complaining voices of people, children and animals. Always I seemed to be moving on and on. My only reason for moving was to follow the tall man (Moses) who always seemed to be ahead of me. He alone I loved.
How many days I walked with them I do not know, The wind of remembrance blows away the dust of time and brings back the thought that suddenly the air seemed sweet with the smell of water. The land had greenness from growing things.
I remember how I looked at the water and thought: “It is my river. It is the water of my land. I will stay here till death claims me. Never will I move my body again, not for Moses, nor for Pharaoh, nor for any living thing will I leave this pleasant place.”
From the sickness of my soul and body I had such a sleep that I knew not where I was, though now I know my soul fled from my body, as sometimes it can do. Whilst I was in that state I saw a great light shining in a distant place. I walked towards it, on and on over endless distances, yet ever was the light far from me. Often did I stumble, crying tears of loneliness and saying words of sorrow till at last there was a sound trembling in the air, a voice calling my name! A music like a trumpet sounded: “Tek-set! Tek-Set!” I knew whence it came. As I turned from side to side seeking the sound, my soul became suddenly aware of the noises from Pharaoh’s court where the trumpets were sounding. I could not resist the desire to see again the place where the waters of my life had trickled through the channels of duty.
As I turned, I lost my vision of the great light and saw instead the charioteers and soldiers of the King. In my soul I looked for the great light, but I could not find it. All my vision was filled with the sight of a familiar court place and with the King’s men who I heard speaking together. They were saying that it was but foolishness to go after the people when Moses had brought so many plagues on the land. “Let them die in their own way,” said the captain of horsemen. “Their God will destroy them in the wilderness, for hunger and thirst are good killers.”
“It is the King’s command,” I heard another say. “It is the command made from his bitter grief (the loss of his son) that we search them out and bring them back in bonds for his pleasure and to revenge the death of our sons.”
Such grief came to my soul in its disembodied state as I heard these words that I hastened to return to Moses. His men had no weapons with which to fight Pharaoh’s army. It seemed he would have to cause his people to hide from the charioteers, else would they all be slain.
My memory tells me how I returned and saw a fragile form stretched as if dead on the bare ground, while all around were the shapes of people sitting, standing and walking. It seemed to be a body of little importance. The bones showed through the skin. The hands were like those of a dead man when the embalmers had prepared the body for its rest.
As I looked upon it I knew suddenly it was mine. I was troubled in my soul. It seemed as if the body needed the attention of physicians. Without such skill to restore it, my soul would not long be able to inhabit it. Seeing a body with the eyes of the soul is a strange thing which comes not often in the life of a man. I remember how I looked on the part of me by which I had eaten food, spoken words, conveyed my love feelings to others, and given children to my wife. Yet to my soul it was no more than a garment flung down upon the ground which I no longer wanted to wear.
As I thought these things and gazed upon my body, I saw Moses with Aaron and Eleazar, walking among the people. A light shone around them, which I saw with the eyes of my soul. By means of this light I knew that all was well with them. The light was as of the radiance of the sky when the day is dawning. Circles of gold, green and crimson surrounded them. Above each one the light from a spirit shone like a star. They found my body lying and a goat rested beside it. They turned my body on its back. Moses stroked it with his healer’s hands, so that suddenly my soul could no longer watch but was drawn down into it, as a twig is sucked down into the swirling waters.
Then was it I knew again the weariness of my limbs, the heaviness of my head, the aching in my heart and the thickness of my tongue which scarce would obey the command of my spirit when I willed it to speak. Yet I knew it must speak to tell of all it had seen with the eyes of my soul in the courtyards of the King.
Moses did what he could for my sickness. His men placed my body on a bed of skins to soften the hardness of the ground. They fed me with herbs and milk from goats, but he could not nurse me, because he had all the people with their many needs. Their cries were great. They were as babies in the lonely places, needing comfort for their fears. Like myself, they had lived in the cradling arms of the Nile and all their needs had been supplied by their masters. Now they were far from the fertile river, beside a water which was not sweet. They knew not which way to go.
As my strength slowly returned, Moses told me I was needed by the spirit of the Lord of the Light. He had given signs to comfort the Hebrews in their travels by showing them a cloudy light by day and a gleam-like fire by night. Ethereal force had to be given by Moses and his men. This I understood. I knew how a spirit could be clothed in a visible form if it could but gather energy from a prepared priest. I knew, also, that a man could soon become exhausted if he gave too much of his energies to be used by a spirit. Now it was that Aaron sought me, because all Moses’ men were exhausted. They remembered I had psychic energies which could be used.
I listened to what they said and knew I was but part of some great plan they were fulfilling among themselves. In their eyes I was of less worth than the water-skins. They at least held life-giving moisture. Love they had for each other, for they were of one race and family. But love for me they knew not. Even Moses seemed forgetful of our years long-passed, for his time was filled with the demands made of many people.
Suddenly I recalled the vision Moses had described to me in which I was as part of a loom and of no more use than one of the beams that made possible the weaving of the threads between Aaron and Moses, who stood facing each other when he saw them in the vision. Humility sprang in my heart like a tiny spring of water. To be of some use, though it be but to sit still, could be a great thing. Now I was near Moses and among his men. I knew that this flight from the land of Egypt was as foretold long ago by the high priest, who had said, “He will be a leader of men.”
Because I became part of the inner circle, I can remember how Moses sent forth strong men who were to despatch signals when they saw the distant dust clouds raised by horses on which Pharaoh’s men were riding. I remember, too, that we sat side by side in the shape of a ring waiting for the voice to speak, to vanquish our fears, and tell us where to go and how to escape from the King’s men.
I was weak and faint with sickness. But my heart grew strong with joy as I felt the air growing vibrant and that strange feeling of urgent life began to flow into me from an unseen source. The joy with which I heard that voice speaking returns to me even now after these many years, as I tell to you my memories which the veil of forgetfulness has lain upon my soul. The joy that came to me healed my sorrows and renewed in me the knowledge that beyond death was life. In that life I would meet again the princess who had been the light of my life.
ART : Amenhotep II (Right)
The voice spoke and said it was true that Pharaoh would send his chariots to cut down the people, to take the weak into bondage. It said that a time of blowing winds was near. A wind would blow upon the waters and across the land, drying the earth. But Moses must cause his men to fill the shallow places with boulders, according to the plan I had been made to copy from Pharaoh’s records of the dams built in the Nile, even as the spirit had commanded me. As the wind dried the land, so did the men stem the flow of waters that fed the great pool, upon which the starlight gleamed so beautifully.
I wondered how could it be? Already I had heard them say how deep was the water which flowed into the sea. But neither Moses, Aaron, Jehushua, Eleazar, nor any of those whose names I have forgotten, spoke any words of doubt. Only did they unite their voices and sing as one person, a chant of praise to the glory of their God. As I listened, shame was in my heart. I knew it was a long time since I had praised or prayed to my God or to theirs. I had been like an animal, dumb with grief, and driven from place to place by the needs of my body and a desire to preserve its existence.