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 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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Three’s Company

“You’re tense, that’s all” said Zipporah. “We have all night, and the rest of our lives.”

“You’re so wise and so understanding,” said Moses.

When Moses said this he immediately thought of Hatshepsut, whose wise and understanding mind – quite apart from her effulgent beauty – had so captivated him, her spirit would dwell in him forever. In the darkness of the tent on his and Zipporah’s wedding night, Moses discerned Zipporah transforming into Hatshepsut. His tenseness evaporated as new energy invaded his loins.

“You’re right, dear Zipporah, I was too tense. Now, strange to say, I’m suddenly feeling different. Very different. Let’s try again”.

“Are you sure? You don’t have to, you know”.

“I know I don’t have to. But I want to. And right now.”

***

Moses had always felt ambivalent about taking Zipporah to wife because she compared so poorly with Hatshepsut in his Hatshepsut-addled mind. Hence what he feared might happen on this wedding night did happen – at least in the early hours of it.

Moses insatiable desire for Hatshepsut had been impelled not only by her mind and intelligence and beauty, but by the delicious illicitness of their affair, which would have led to fatal consequences had Egyptian officialdom found out. Moses would have had his head chopped off. Hatshepsut if not having her head chopped off too, would have been publicly disgraced and consequently shunned for the rest of her life.

Moses’ awareness of all this had given his affair with Hatshepsut a frisson he now realised he would miss in his marriage to Zipporah. This left him with an inner emptiness he determined to fill with energy devoted to preparing himself for the day when God would order him to lead the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt to freedom in Canaan.

As part of his preparation, Moses tried to become a more rounded man. Not more rounded in the sense of becoming fat from eating more than normal, but more rounded psychologically and spiritually.  Up to  this point he had known a life only of privilege in the Egyptian royal household. Now, as Jethro’s son-in-law and Zipporah’s husband, he was to embrace a humble life in looking after Jethro’s sheep and doing other farming chores. In this way he was to become just another anonymous Midianite labourer until God called for him.

Thus over the next few years Moses lived tranquilly. By day he looked after the sheep. By evenings he took long solitary walks while thinking deep thoughts. And he took seriously his role as a dutiful if not loving husband to Zipporah, who, soon after Moses took her to wife, bore him a son who he formally named Gershom, but later nicknamed Gersh.

***

But Hatshepsut never left Moses. She stayed with him in spirit always. She went with him on his solitary evening walks. She crept into his bed at night, invading his dreams and thoughts. Whenever he made love to Zipporah it was Hatshepsut he made love to.

Can we wonder that Zipporah on many occasions throughout the years, would ask Moses, “Why do I always think there are three in our marriage?”

Source: Exodus 2, 21 – 22

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Concupiscence

Moses and Zipporah continued to meet at the well almost daily because Zipporah’s father’s sheep had to have water to drink, and this well was the most convenient one.

Moses always looked forward to these meetings, because, even though still thinking about Hatshepsut a lot, he was thinking about Zipporah more and more. Still, he and Zipporah had little opportunity to speak privately during these visits because her six sisters always came as well. The shepherds, the ones who Moses had sent fleeing, were often at the well too. Each time Moses looked at them they looked back and drew their hands across their throats in a cutting motion.

Soon, Moses got another invitation to visit Zipporah’s father, Jethro, and break bread at his home. After the meal the girls went outside to wash plates and utensils, leaving their father and Moses to talk.

***

“What do you think of Zipporah?” said Jethro.

“She’s………er……..very nice. Very pleasant. I do like her”.

“Enough to take to wife?”

“Er…….I haven’t quite thought about it. I don’t find the idea displeasing.”

“You’d be the perfect son-in law for me, you know. You appear of good character, are mature, are well-spoken, and are refreshingly free of relatives. I’m looking for a good man like you to help run my farm, because my priestly vocation takes up most of my time. I do hope therefore you’ll try to win Zipporah’s heart.”

***

So began Moses courtship of Zipporah. Most evenings when the workday was over, Moses called on Zipporah at her father’s house and they went on leisurely walks. Despite seeing Zipporah as wifely material, Moses was very aware that she just didn’t match up to Hatshepsut. Particularly in her mind, for it was Hatshepsut’s intelligent, learned, curious, lively, imaginative and cosmopolitan mind that had so ensnared Moses.

Also, in her ability to sexually excite men, Hatshepsut had no equal. She had told Moses that when just a young girl, she had been appointed as the wife of the god, Amun, for whom she served as a priestess, one of whose duties was to sexually excite Amun in his statue form by masturbating him. This began her apprenticeship in the art of stimulating men – an art she honed to perfection by the time she became an adult.

From all this, plus that Hatshepsut was the most beautiful woman in the known world, you will easily see how enormous had been her power over Moses, let alone over all men who crossed her path………

Hence when Moses walked with Zipporah on those evenings of courtship, and he compared her with Hatshepsut, he had doubts whether he, or his body, would respond to Zipporah in the way a husband should. By marrying Zipporah, Moses would lose Hatshepsut for ever. Although the rational part of him knew he would never be with Hatshepsut again, the irrational part of him had never lost hope.

Moses made every effort to see Zipporah in a positive light. She did have charms and assets, being pleasing enough in face, and having bodily contours calculated to arouse the concupiscence of most red-blooded men. Moses’ concupiscence was indeed aroused each time he gazed upon Zipporah’s body and saw it unclothed in his mind’s eye. Being a farm girl, always surrounded by animals, Zipporah exuded an earthiness and a raw sensuality that also aroused Moses’ concupiscence……..

Came an evening when Moses took Zipporah’s hands in his, dropped to one knee  and asked if he could take her to wife.

“Yes….yes………oh…..yes……..of course” said Zipporah, “I thought you’d never ask.”

Sources:
– Exodus 2, 20-21
The Woman Who Would Be King

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Playing the Field

“How’s your day been?” said Jethro when his seven daughters came back with the sheep.

“Bad in some ways. Good in another” said Zipporah, the eldest.

“Do tell” said Jethro.

Zipporah told him what had happened at the well, how the shepherds had accosted them, how a stranger had interceded and sent the shepherds packing.

“I hope you invited this brave man to come and break bread with us.” said Jethro.

“Actually……..no.”

“Why-ever not? Haven’t I always told you that we, as good Kenites, always ask those who do good to us, to break bread at our home?”

“If you insist, I’ll invite him next time I see him at the well, which I expect will be tomorrow.”

“I insist.”

***

“We meet at last” said Jethro when Zipporah brought Moses home the next day. “I’m Jethro. You are……..?”

“Moses”

“Zipporah tells me you’re from Egypt. I hope you’re not as arrogant as most Egyptians visiting these parts are. They think they own the place.”

“I’m not your average Egyptian. I’m………well………..different.”

Moses went on to tell of how he was as much Hebrew as Egyptian, and how he got to live in the Egyptian royal household. He thought it best, though, not to say too much about Hatshepsut.

“You look middle-aged” said Jethro. “You surely must have a missus and sons somewhere?”

“Er………not yet.”

“Still ‘playing the field’, then, are you? Sowing the wild oats? Mmmm?”

“You could put it that way, yes.”

“That’s nice to hear. Otherwise I might think you have………how shall I say……..unnatural proclivities?”

“I think I can set your mind at rest, sir. I’m as red-blooded as the most red-blooded Egyptian, or, dare I say it, the most red-blooded Kenite.”

“Even so, old fellow, one can only ‘play the field’ for so long. There comes a time in one’s life when one puts aside the irresponsibilities of youth and assumes the responsibilities of mature manhood. Which is to say, take a good woman to wife and have lots of sons by her.”

“I do take your point, sir, about there being a time to take up the responsibilities of mature manhood. But, having been told I have ancestors who lived to be nine-hundred years, I’m still, at just forty years, a mere youth. That said, I’m going to be looking for a good woman to take to wife, and to bear me sons.”

“Now you’re talking” said Jethro.

Source: Exodus 2, 19 – 21

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