Reversing the Reversal

While walking with Aaron towards the Palace for their audience with the Pharaoh, Moses ran through in his mind all that he knew about this Pharaoh.

Moses knew a lot about him despite that information-gathering then was so much more primitive than today – what with our cell-phones, smartphones, televisions and whatnot. So much are we in thrall to them, we have difficulty even imagining how news got around before then. Somehow though, it did, as it has always, even in the days of Moses more than three thousand five hundred years ago.

Hence Moses got to know that this Pharaoh – who today we call Thutmose III – used to be the very boy, called affectionately “Baby Thut“, who Hatshepsut was the regent of, when Moses still lived at the Palace as a de facto prince in the Egyptian royal household.

Baby Thut had not liked Hatshepsut one bit – seeing her as bossy and manipulative. And he hadn’t liked Moses one bit either, because he’d feared Hatshepsut would make changes in the law to enable Moses to be her co-Pharaoh, thus supplanting the teen-aged Baby Thut’s claim. And, Moses was a Hebrew. The very thought of a Hebrew as Egypt’s co-Pharaoh, a position Baby Thut considered his by birthright, caused his blood to boil and nearly spill over.

Also, Hatshepsut had reversed Egypt’s traditional policies of military aggression abroad, in favour of more edifice-building in Egypt itself. Hatshepsut reasoned that if Egypt was to be great again, it would start at home, in Egypt. She wanted Egypt to be admired, not feared.

Hence under Hatshepsut’s rule, lots of large and ornate monuments, temples, chapels, and obelisks, went up.

When Hatshepsut died and Baby Thut took over as Pharaoh, he reversed Hatshepsut’s reversal. He set in motion what he thought Egypt had always done best – engage in military adventures in many neighbouring lands. This was how to make Egypt great again, thought Baby Thut.

He sent his armies south into Nubia and beyond, and into the coastal areas of the Levant, where Egypt became numero uno. It didn’t take long before, at even a mention of Egypt in any conversation, the peoples of these conquered lands shook in their sandals with fear.

Even this wasn’t enough for Baby Thut, whose resentment at Hatshepsut still made his blood boil. The only way to stop it boiling for good, was to erase her completely from memory and from history. So Baby Thut had Hatshepsut’s name and image removed from all the monuments, temples, chapels, and obelisks she had put up.

All this was in Moses’ mind as he and Aaron neared the Palace gates……….

Sources:
– Exodus 4, 19-20
Thutmose III
Hatshepsut

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Catching Up

When Moses at the end of his journey crossed the frontier into Egypt, he found his brother, Aaron, waiting for him. As a reader of this blog, you’ll recall God telling Moses He would contact Aaron and tell him he must always be at Moses’ side as emotional support in the difficult times to come.

Moses and Aaron had not seen each other since when they were small boys. Therefore it might have been difficult for them to recognise each other after so long a time – almost eighty years. However, Moses and Aaron, being brothers, and close in age (Aaron was the older by three years), had always looked much alike. So as soon as they set eyes on each other, each immediately knew he was looking at his brother.

They embraced, and spent the next little while catching up on each other’s news over the last eighty years. Aaron, living as he did in the Hebrew community in Goshen, was able to give Moses an indelible and graphic picture of the hardships of the Hebrews under the unrelentingly cruel yoke of their Egyptian masters.

“I’m overjoyed, brother,” said Aaron, “that you’re going to free us and lead us back to where we came from. I can tell you now, though, that you won’t find this easy, because, from what we know of him, the Pharaoh is going to take some persuading to allow us all to leave.”

“You’re forgetting that God will be watching over us” said Moses, “and you’re forgetting I have this.” He waved the walking stick that could transform into a snake at his command.

“The first thing we have to do” said Aaron “is get us an audience with the Pharaoh. I do have contacts at the Palace, who I’ll ask to persuade the Pharaoh to see us. Meanwhile, come and stay at my house, where you can have a good wash and clean clothes, and meet some of the rest of the family.”

After a few days, Aaron received word from the Palace that the Pharaoh would be pleased to receive him and his brother……..

Source: Exodus 4, 19-20

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Re-Filling

While walking to Egypt to carry out what God wanted him to do there, Moses had constant feelings of deja vu – no doubt because he was walking on the very same road he’d walked on in coming from Egypt to the Land of Midian forty years before, when he himself had been forty.

Now, at eighty, he had doubled his age although in some ways he felt no different from when he’d been forty. But in other ways he felt his eighty years. Men who didn’t know him, saw only an old man, and they treated him as such. Moses was only too aware of this.

His eighty-year-old self still thought about Hatshepsut – constantly. In his mind’s eye she was always young and at her most desirable. She was the Hatshepsut who had visited him in the night out of no-where some years previously, when she seemed not to have aged at all.

That Hatshepsut was now gone forever. If she’d still been in this earthly realm she’d have been ninety or more – wrinkled, toothless, hunchbacked. Would Moses still have desired this Hatshepsut? Probably not, Moses thought. But………he still might just have. In his arms he might still see the once-young Hatshepsut hiding beneath the very old one.

***

These were the thoughts that most consumed Moses while on the road back to Egypt. He had considered taking Zipporah and the two boys Gershom and Eliezer – young men now, actually – with him. He decided not to because their presence day and night would crush his spirit. He could only abide them in his normal daily life because he spent his days alone, shepherding  Jethro’s sheep, who he found far more congenial as company than Zipporah, Gershom or Eliezer.

When travelling on foot and living off the land by catching snakes and lizards for food and squeezing out cacti for drinking water – as Moses was doing – the last thing he wanted was a bickering and complaining family with him. In any case, he wanted to make this journey alone because he simply liked being alone.

Moses  saw the world much differently from anyone else, regardless of who that anyone else was. His was a brain that saw the Whole, rather than the Whole’s particulars. Whereas others seemed to him always to see just the particulars rather than the Whole. Moses therefore had much difficulty seeing their points of view. He was good, though, at pretending to see their  points of view, but only for the sake of harmony with them. Hence he could never be truly himself unless alone.

People bored him. They drained him of his emotional energy until he felt like a carcass. He could hardly wait to escape people, so he could re-fill.

The only exception for Moses had been Hatshepsut. He would never completely recover from her loss.

***

Something else was weighing on Moses’ spirit. He’d discovered he didn’t like God. He’d fought against this feeling, for what could be more sinful than not liking God. Try as he might, he just couldn’t manage to feel otherwise. Moses experienced God as authoritarian, cruel, capricious, thin-skinned, self-obsessed – the very opposite of the loving God his birth-mother Jochebed had told him about when he was a little boy before being taken to Egypt to grow up there.

***

The now-old Moses continued on the road back to Egypt……..

Source: Exodus 4, 19-20

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Silver-Tonguely

“Is there anything else you wish to speak of before I send you on *your way to Egypt*” said God to Moses.

“I still don’t think I’m the man for this undertaking” said Moses. “For one thing, I’m slow and hesitant of speech. The miracles You’ve empowered me to perform aside, I’m going to need to have a silver and glib tongue if I’m to make my case successfully on Your behalf to the Hebrews and Pharaoh.”

“I detect no slowness or hesitancy in your speech when you speak to Me” said God. “What you’ve just said about your alleged slowness and hesitance of speech is as glib and as silver-tongued as anything I’ve heard from humans. And why shouldn’t this be? I’ll remind you that you had *the very best of educations* when you grew up in the Egyptian royal household. This included public speaking. I’ll remind you also that you rose to become a General in the Egyptian Army, and led men in battle with the Nubians and others of Egypt’s enemies. If there’s any man best able silver-tonguely to persuade the Hebrews and Pharaoh into My point of view, it’s you.”

“Yes……..but………”

“Please have the courtesy not to interrupt. It’s just possible you are minutely less silver-tongued than when you were young. The last forty years you’ve spent communing mainly with sheep could have something to do with it. But the effect is marginal.”

“It doesn’t feel that way to me.”

“I’m the best judge” said God. “The truth is, you just don’t want to undertake the task I’ve set you. You’ve become too comfortable, too complacent. This, plus that you’re now eighty, has made you more risk-averse than once you were. On the other hand, your years with the sheep, and your age, have bestowed on you a wisdom and maturity you didn’t have before. This will help inestimably when you are crossing swords – metaphorically of course – with the Hebrews and Pharaoh.”

“Well…….er…..yes…….er……..I suppose so…….”

“I’m glad you’re beginning to see this My way” said God. “Now, I’m going to do something I think you’ll like. I’m going to get your older brother Aaron to help you. I know you still fondly remember him, even though you were just a little boy *when you last saw him*. I’m going to tell Aaron to be at your side at all times when you’re in Egypt, so that he’ll bear some of the burden of the vicissitudes and hardships you may encounter. There’s nothing like having a big brother around, right, Moses? You and Aaron will make the perfect team.”

“Well……er……..yes…….er……I suppose so” said Moses.

Source: Exodus 4, 10-17

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Trust

“What will I do” said Moses, “if I go to Egypt as You want me to, and I tell the Hebrews there, and the Pharaoh too, all that You’ve told me? I mean, were I any one of them, I wouldn’t stop laughing.”

God said from the burning bush, “That stick you’re holding, throw it on the ground and see what happens.”

The stick on striking the ground changed into a snake – a full-length spitting cobra that didn’t appear at all pleased its tranquil life as a stick was being so rudely upended. Moses made as if to run.

“Don’t” said God. “Just pick it up by the tail. It won’t bite you.”

Moses did so tremblingly, whereupon the snake changed back to a stick.

“You must be a magician” said Moses.

“That’s one way of putting it” said God. “But I’d rather you regarded Me as who I am: the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. I’ve told you this before. Unless you look on me as such, things won’t go at all well with you.”

“You’ve told me this before” said Moses.

“Put your hand inside your cloak” said God. “See what happens.”

Moses did so. Nothing seemed to happen.

“Now take your hand out.”

Moses’ hand, when he took it out, looked as white as death, and diseased like leprosy.

“Put your hand back, then out again.”

When Moses did this he saw his hand was altogether healed.

“Crikey.”

“Should this still not be enough to stop the Hebrews and Pharaoh laughing at you, fetch some water from the Nile, pour it on the ground, and it’ll turn into blood.”

“Seeing as the Nile is so far from here” said Moses, “I’m going to have to trust You on this one.”

“Trust is what this is all about” said God. “If you don’t trust Me, and you find the Hebrews and Pharaoh so disbelieving that you have to resort to these miracles to make them think otherwise, nothing will happen, and you’ll look an even bigger fool. You’ll feel so humiliated you’ll wish the ground you stand on will open and swallow you. I’m now seeing brown and yellow liquid running down your legs. You’d better not let that happen in front of the Hebrews or Pharaoh, else they’ll laugh so loud, all the world will hear it.”

Source: Exodus 3, 13-22; 4, 1-9

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A Voice From a Bush

Knowing now that Hatshepsut had crossed over to that realm we all cross over to when we breathe our last, Moses felt some colour going out of his life, which outwardly continued unchanged.

The years passed while Moses spent most of his daylight time tending his father-in-law, Jethro’s, sheep in the vast scrubby fields. After sundown he went home to the nastinesses from his wife Zipporah – born out of her simmering covert hostility towards him; and to the sullen insolence from his slack-jawed sons, Gershom and Eliezer; and to the querulous whining from Jethro, the aforementioned father-in-law.

It wasn’t for nothing, then, that Moses found every excuse to extend to the utmost his time each day with the sheep.

***

One day when out with the sheep, and in the area of Mount Horeb, Moses saw a bush suddenly catch fire. Not only that, the bush, although on fire, wasn’t being consumed by it.

“Bloody hell” said Moses.

Then came a voice – sonorous, stentorian – from the bush.

“Moses. Moses” the voice boomed.

“Yes?” said Moses.

“Take off your sandals” said the voice, “you’re standing is holy ground.”

Moses took off his sandals.

“I should explain” said the voice “that I’m God.”

“God?”

“Yes, God. You know, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, and of you, and not to speak of all the universe.”

Moses thought he was in a dream, a lucid dream. He told himself to wake up. Nothing changed.

“I can read your thoughts” said God. “This is real. I have Big Things in mind for you.”

“For………me?”

“Yes. For you. I’ve decided this is the moment to relieve the miseries of the Hebrew people – your people, don’t forget – in Egypt. Four hundred years is enough for them to have seen the errors of their ways. So now, I wish to bring them out of Egypt to the lands – lands I’ll fill with milk and honey – where now live Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perrizites, Hivites, Jebusites, and a few others whose names escape me. I’ve chosen you to. I’ve  chosen you to lead your people out.”

“This has to be  dream. I’m going to wake up now.”

“You are awake. This is real. I’ve already told you.”

“I’m inadequate for this. I’m just a shepherd”

“Don’t be modest. You know you’re more than that. Leading your people out of Egypt is what you’re going to do. I’ve full confidence you’re up to it. Your apparent lack of confidence comes out of your having had no real challenges in the forty years you’ve been here in the Land of Midian. But, look at it this way, you’re good at leading sheep. After forty years of doing it you’re now an expert. You’re still going to be leading. Only it’ll be people, not sheep. It’s the leading that’s important, not what or who you lead. You’re the man for this. Trust Me.”

Source: Exodus 3, 1-12

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If This Is Goodbye

One night – several years after Moses had taken Zipporah to wife – he awoke suddenly in his tent from a deep sleep. Hatshepsut stood at the foot of his bed. A white light glowed softly from her. She was robed, and she looked as youthfully beautiful as Moses had ever seen her.

“I expect you’re surprised I’m here” said Hatshepsut. “I had to appear to you one last time to clear up matters between us.”

“Oh…….Hatshepsut……is it really you?” said Moses. “I can hardly believe it. I never thought I’d see you again. How………how…….did you get here?”

“It doesn’t matter how I got here. It matters that I can’t stay long, and must quickly say what I must.”

“Of course. Of course.”

“I know about all that’s happened to you since you fled Egypt and my love. I know you still think of me night and day and yearn passionately for me as you always have. And……….I know it was you who killed Senenmut…..”

“I…..I can explain……..”

“I know you can. But let me continue. When I saw Senenmut’s mud-covered body after it was pulled out of the hole you dug, I was devastated. Crushed. Then I became angry. Very angry. As angry as I’d never been. How dare’d you do what you did, then slink out of Egypt like a common criminal, leaving me alone at the mercy of all my scheming enemies in the Palace. I wanted to send assassins to track you down and cut off your head and bring it back so I could stick it on a pike and parade it among the people for them to spit on.

Later, though, my initial fury subsided somewhat, when, after reflection, I saw it was ultimately my fault you killed Senenmut, which effectively gave you no choice but to flee Egypt. I confess I knew you would become wildly jealous whenever I lured Senenmut into my bed at the Palace at night and moaned inordinately loudly when in the transports of ecstasy. I knew you would hear all this from your own adjoining room. I therefore knew you might become so furiously jealous you would kill Senenmut, thus destroying your entire future. By killing Senenmut you sacrificed all for me. When I realised this I was overcome with humiliating guilt.

Why, then, did I intentionally make you so murderously jealous, which led to such harmful consequences, not only for you but for me too? I surmised it all came out of a smoldering  anger, although I wasn’t aware of having any. Could I, then, have suppressed this anger, so that it manifested disguisedly? I think, yes.

But I also saw that my anger wasn’t really at you. Rather, it was at myself for being so helplessly attracted to you from right when I first saw you. I was as a moth drawn to a bright flame, but knowing it would consume me if I got too close. While your flame didn’t consume me, it may have charred me ever so slightly. I like always to be in charge. To have control over myself, as well as over all those in my life. If I don’t have this control I become anxious. And angry. Are you following any of this? I mean, you being a man, this may be over your head.”

“I’m following you perfectly, dearest Hatshepsut. Please go on.”

“I think also that I’ve always been angry at men generally. As a woman, and especially as one with my intelligence beauty and other gifts, I always thought myself better than any man – better even than you, Moses – although you were the man who came closest to me in your intelligence and other gifts. But, as a woman, I was looked upon as inferior to men by society, and was expected to admire men and submit to the power bequeathed on them as men over me as a woman. How could I not have been very angry at this? I directed some of this anger at you, and it came out as the covert anger which manifested in the form of my  making you jealous.”

“Don’t be hard on yourself, dear Hatshepsut. What is past is past. We both survived, did we not?”

“You could put it that way. I, though, didn’t quite, for I’ve just embarked on a journey from which I’ll never return. I’ll explain that some time after you left Egypt I became the Pharaoh through means I won’t bore you with. You’d heard about my becoming Pharaoh?”

“I’d heard rumours”.

“You heard right. A woman like me becoming Pharaoh was enough to focus the minds of all the male schemers and plotters I was surrounded by, into accentuating their efforts to get rid of me. They found ways to slip poison into my food, but in such small amounts I wouldn’t notice immediately. I began to get sicker and sicker. From being the world’s most beautiful woman I quickly transformed into an old, infirm and dying woman.

You are fortunate you never saw me in that state, for it would have erased from your mind all the images of the beautiful Hatshepsut I used to be. Luckily for you, I can now – from that other world I’ve just entered – appear to you as I used to be, when we swam naked in the Nile at midnights and made love in my boudoir until dawn.”

Moses began weeping.

“Don’t cry dearest one. You need now just think of me wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, and I’ll be with you. During the days when you tend the sheep, I’ll be with you. In the evenings when you walk in the hills and think deep thoughts, I’ll be with you.  I’ll be with you in your bed at night when you need my arms around you. I’ll be with you when your God calls you to that great task He plans for you. And when it’s your time to leave your world and cross into mine, I’ll be there to greet you.”

Whereupon Hatshepsut vanished. Like a flame just blown out.

***

“Are you alright, Moses?” said Zipporah the next morning when she saw his reddened eyes.

“All is as it should be” said Moses.

Sources:
– Exodus 2, 21-22
The Woman Who Would Be King
The Perplexing Historical Moses

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