A STORY OF MOSES
Ra! The Lord of Light ~ Part II
Terrible was the day when the men of Egypt died. Moses remained silent, watching the scene with unsmiling face, his eyes dark in the sockets hollowed by the smallness of the food he ate and by lack of sleep. I knew he was hurt in his soul by the knowledge that he had brought into being the death of the men in whose land he had dwelled. It was he who had to upraise the staff so that the golden gleam of it might be a sign to the men who had laboured during the night to break the dam when they saw the light shining on the golden knob.
The Hebrews, with their women and children, their tents and beasts, crossed over on the land thus deprived of its water and dried by the hot wind. When they saw the waters dashing over the Egyptian soldiers they said it was a marvel wrought by their God. They did not know that their own people had laboured to dam the waters, nor yet that I had learned the ways of such work when instructed to study Pharaoh’s plans by the Lord of Light, long before the people followed Moses on this journey. They knew not that it was by my word the dam had been made. They knew only that they hated me and would have hurled me into the waters to die with my people, had they not feared the man under whose protection I stood. I knew they would destroy me when they could. When they destroyed me they would erase my name from their memory and their records, remembering as they did so, that this was the way the Egyptians punished their dead. To be forgotten by the world was thought to be a hard thing. How foolish was that thought. All men are forgotten as the stream of time erases the memory of their work and deeds. In the land beyond death, being remembered by foolish men matters not at all. The vanities of earth life soon dissolve in the great peace of the ever-living God.
ART : ‘Crossing The Red Sea’ ~ Source: The Temple, Nashville, TN
You wish me to say more? To tell of what happened that day? I will blow on the dust and see what memory lies hidden beneath the covering of time.
I remember the terror of the common people and the way in which they rushed toward Moses when the watchers came running to say they could see the death clouds raised by Pharaoh’s men in the far distance, and that the watchers further on had signalled that the soldiers came with chariots and with horses. Then did the strong men need to form a guard around my brother to protect him from the Hebrew people, who in their terror, hindered him from speaking or moving and would have thrown him down by their very demands and fearfulness.
ART : ‘Crossing The Red Sea’ @ Fine Art America
I feared for his safety as I watched. A cold despair seized my heart as it seemed this was to be the end of all our striving. This the end of our weary marching, to die there by this strange, wide water by the power of the unbridled fear of the Israelites. I knew if Moses died then also would I, either by the hatred of the Israelites or of Pharaoh’s men.
ART : Valerie Sokolova ~ ‘People Crossing The Opened Sea’ ~ Biblical Story, from the Promise Picture Book, Standard Publishing
It was Joshua, the brave and simple man who fought his way through the throng to Moses. He made a way for his men to form the guard which stood firm with naked weapons while the people surged around like sheep, frightened and unshepherded. I saw the great figure of Moses ringed around with strong men. I saw the whiteness in the skin under his eyes. The skin was drawn tight over his cheeks and I knew he was afraid.
ART : ‘The Egyptian Sun God’ ~ Ginger Strivelli @ Fine Art America
His gaze searched the throng of shouting people with the same look as sometimes I had seen in the eyes of an animal as it reached the place of slaughter. In my soul I cried to Ra, the God of our childhood! Ra, the Light of our lives! So intense was my prayer that I knew not that I had raised my hand as long ago I used to do, with fingers pointing upward and my thumb turned towards the inner seat of my soul above my brows; but Moses saw it. His eyes met mine and seemed to draw strength from the love I bore in my heart. He gave a great sigh and seemed to grow strong. By his strength he regained command of the people.
Slowly they were marshalled into companies once more. By the leaders of their groups they were told that the men of Egypt could only travel slowly. The dust of the wilderness clogged the wheels of their chariots. The heat of the sun made difficult their journeying. It would heat the metals to a burning level and kill the horses if they had not enough water to drink. So the people were told to erect their tents, prepare their food and make themselves ready to travel as soon as the wind died away. Now came a wind blowing hotly across the wilderness creating such dust clouds that the Egyptians were hidden from the Israelites ~ as were the Israelites hidden from the sight of the Egyptians.
How the men built the dam in the water I know not. I had not the strength to set forth into the storm myself. I sat in a little hole among the rocks and covered my face and head against the drifting dust. As I did so I dreamed of my home with its many walls designed to trap the dust, and of my beloved in her beautiful court facing the gateway through which the drifting sand had choked the breath of life from her lungs.
There comes to me a memory of waking from slumber to the silence which followed the storm and to a sweetness in the air, as the dust ceased to thicken it. Then the sound of people, softly speaking, made me step forth to see that the storm had gone. The calm, cool night was upon all things. In the clear light of the dying moon, I saw Moses going forward slowly, with his staff upraised, and Aaron and his family following across what had been the shallowest part of the great tide. I was afraid. I could see the reflection of the moon on two bodies of water. I knew the waters had been divided.
I knew also how difficult was the dividing of water and how often the great dams of the Nile broke their bounds, in spite of the skill of the King’s men and the labour of many slaves. How could this little labour of a few men divide the waters, except that it did but complete what the great wind sent by the Lord of Light had begun?
Moses had disappeared from my sight. My feet moved without any thought from my mind to direct them. I joined the people who were fearfully walking through the place of the divided water. I walked beside a herd of goats, knowing no fear as I went. Only one thought was in my mind: to find my brother. A strange scent was in my nostrils, that of water and damp earth trodden by many feet. The scent of it was stronger than the odour of the goats.
In the silence of that early morning, I crossed the place of the water, turning to stand and look across whence I had come. In the far distance I saw movement. In the still air I heard the song of metal upon metal and the snorting of beasts. Yet still came the Israelites like a thin trickle of water between high rocks. They made their way between the waters towards the place where Moses stood on a rock with his staff raised between his hands.
I heard the sharp sound of metal on hard ground. I knew the chariots had reached the firm ground surrounding the sea of water.
The Hebrew people shouted with terror and came rapidly across to where we stood, pushing one the other as beasts do when they are afraid. The sky was lightening in the distance. Against the blue-green radiance I saw the proud men of Egypt for the last time. Pharaoh’s commander was there, standing in his chariot to look across the water at us. Around him were his important captains and behind them were soldiers on their horses. The gold on their chariots did not sparkle for the light was but dim. Yet still did they look to me as they must have appeared to many of the people against who they had warred ~ strong, proud, invincible and beautiful in their headgear and breastguards, on horses tamed to obey their will.
The still air and the water carried the sound of their speech toward me. The words of my people, heard after so long a time, were as music in my ears. They made me know how lonely it is to be a man without a people, or a place of his own. I longed to run across the way which divided me from them, to cast myself down, crying as I did so “kill, or pardon me for ever.” Even as the thought was in my mind, so in my heart was the memory of the way in which Moses had searched for my eyes in the moment of his despair. In that time he had gained strength from the remembrance of his fellowship with me.
Strange are the ways of the Lords of Light. Terrible was the beginning of that day. The commander ordered his men to go forward upon the way that lay between the waters. Moses remained still and silent, watching with eyes that were steady and intent the forward advance of the soldiers. The people that stood around me were silent with that stillness that only comes in moments of great fear. The only sound to be heard was the bleating of goats and the clinking bridles upon the horses, for the feet of the beasts were almost silent on the soft ground.
A great sigh passed amongst the Hebrews when Moses raised his staff. A murmur sounded among them as they saw it raised on high. A shout was heard from them when he beat it to the ground. As he did so, they saw the waters begin to break through the barrier that held it in check. Then suddenly the air was filled with shouts of terror, the screaming of horses, and the loud words of Pharaoh’s commanders. They exclaimed in alarm to see their men unexpectedly covered over with the swirling waters, which soon became part of the one great whole wherein neither horses nor men could be seen, since they were dragged down by the weight of the soldiers’ metal weapons.
My heart seemed to break asunder. Strange it was to feel that invisible cords had dragged at my heart in that moment of death. I would have said I had no love for such men, yet was an agony in my heart as I saw them dying. I knew then that an invisible bond holds together men and makes of them one race. The same invisible bond forces them to die the one for the other. It makes them hate others who are not bound by the same bond. In that moment I wanted to cry out in agony yet was my cry drowned by the exultant shouts of the Israelites.
Now do I think, in the silence of the land beyond death, that Ra did not intend people to be bound by this bond, but to see every man as if he were born of the same flesh as himself and every woman as if she were his daughter or his sister. Then would the harshness of slavery cease to exist and the bondage of captives would become an easy bond.
As I grieved alone there by the waters which had become like gleaming gold as the sun’s light brightened the world, I knew why the slaves mourned with so great a grief the death of another. I knew why the captives never smiled and travellers rejoiced to return to their own places. The invisible bond drew such people together and made them one with their own people.
When they had no people of their own kind, then was their soul drifting without aim in the flood of life, like a boat without the cord that secures it safely to its place. Moses had been a man without a people. Now I knew his loneliness. I, too, was a man without a people. The loneliness I felt has marked my soul like the scar left by fire. The memory of it is with me still. It makes me feel that all men should be brothers to one another, so that such loneliness should cease. All men ought to have love the one for the other.