Jethro, the priest, allowed his precious daughter Sepphorah and his two feisty grandsons, Gersam and Eliezer, to venture out into the wilderness, not knowing when he would ever see them again. The man Moses had been a good husband, and a helpful son to Jethro, strong and always willing. He accepted the reason that Moses wanted to go home to see his family. Forty years had gone by and surely those who wanted to take his life were dead. The young man had been so practical and down to earth. His story of escape from Egypt and Pharaoh was remarkable, but as young as he was at the time, Moses introduced himself in a strong and noble manner, giving credence to a very unusual tale.
Jethro knew that he had no choice but to let them go, so he gave his permission. Sepphora insisted on staying close to her husband, so Jethro wished his beloved family farewell after loading their asses with food and camping supplies.
The way to Heliopolis in Egypt would take them through dangerous territory, bandits and animals vied with each other to satisfy their greed and hunger by preying on the vulnerable.
Perambula and Gracefeld hovered over the family in their silent but effective way. Perambula kept the beasts away from the path of the family, while Gracefeld guided them on the most direct route.
Moses and his wife Sepphora, and their two sons and their donkey walked in steady lockstep over dusty ground, on rocks and thorns past silent bramble bushes. The small troupe threaded themselves through crevices between mountains. Fortunately, one evening at dusk, those mountains, not much larger than hills, protected the family from a fierce wind storm.
Step by step took them closer to the mission that Moses both feared and relished. He couldn't tell Jethro about the burning bush, or the mission to free the Hebrews for fear he would be ridiculed. Little did he speak, much did he ponder as his staff, an extension of his arm, propelled him forward legs in tow. The snake of a scepter in his grip, would be used to shepherd men, women and even children away from subjection to the will of fierce and arrogant men.
Every evening the family stopped at dusk to set up camp; Sepphora reached deep into the saddle bags to pull out the evening meal to energize them for the next day's journey. The boys ran around chasing little lizards and chasing each other oblivious that this family trek was the tiniest mustard seed that would become an enormous tree.
The massive mustard tree that covers the earth and spans time is known as the Pentateuch, the Passover, the Ten Commandments and the Law. So was this family trek from Midian to Egypt the holy spark that ignited a roaring blaze to illuminate and thus expose the Creator to humankind. Before this spark, God spoke to one person here and there, Adam, Noah, Abraham. Now the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had become a nation for God to mould into His image and likeness by telling them outright Who He was and what He liked. But first He had to give them back their free will.
This nation, the twelve tribes of the children of Jacob, were not just the children of childless young Abraham, the promise-fulfilled of his covenant with God, they were God's people, a nation of His very own, who would voluntarily surrender to His authority. From one command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil grew Ten Commandments and then thousands of laws designed to recreate the divine creature God made on the sixth day.
No longer would humanity have to wander generation after generation, subservient only to their appetites and passion for power. There would be a formation process into children of God, for those who were willing. God was about to form humans into icons of Himself, by the merging of their human wills with His divine Will, one nation at a time, one person at a time, each generation producing a fraction of such sincerely and holy children of God from the multitude. The two oblivious boys had no inkling that they were carousing in the birth of this sacred mission to re-unite mankind with its Maker.
One particularly sunny afternoon the family spotted a lake. With irrepressible delight the boys took off like jackrabbits racing each other for the prize of being the first to feel the cool water. Both Moses and Sepphora reveled as much in watching their strong young bodies move so swiftly and so freely.
When the parents and the beast of burden arrived at the shore, Sepphora beseeched Moses to allow her to bathe before setting up camp. Moses was happy to comply as he sensed that he was being called. So he tied up the donkey to a tree and wondered off to hide behind a small boulder where in stillness he could hear the Voice speak to him.
God gave Moses a few minutes to settle himself and let his heart rate synchronize to the rhythm of vibrations of all that lived and breathed around him from lizards to ants to bushes and trees, all the life of that place which had a heart beat, became the percussion section, and each thing in whose veins flowed life, its melody. Into this silent symphony did Moses unconsciously join himself as he rested under the umbrella of the tamarisk tree.
While listening for the Lord, and being exhausted from the day's journey, Moses slipped into a deep sleep wherein God could speak to him away from the spectacle of the bush.
In his sleep state, the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders that I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord: Israel is my firstborn son. I said to you, “Let My son go that he may worship Me.” But you refused to let him go; now I will kill your firstborn son.’” Effectively saying, Give My son the freedom to unite as one body to speak to Me, or you shall know what it means to never hear your son speak to you. Never.
Perambula and Gracefeld entered Moses's dream state. Perambula gasped in astonishment, "First Abraham is asked to slay his long-awaited promised son, Isaac, then Pharaoh has all Hebrew sons slain, now God will kill the firstborn son of Pharaoh. What is the meaning of this?"
Gracefeld replied, "My dear Perambula, stuck in time, as you are captive in this small chamber of a dream. Remember Isaac lived. Killing the Hebrew sons was merely Pharaoh's vain attempt to suppress God's will. To God's son, Israel, Pharaoh's son is the key to unlock the gates of Hades on earth.
But first, the hardness of Pharaoh's heart must reach its fullness like the waxing moon in the starless sky. The Hebrews must witness the power of their God in miracles to empower them to endure the hardships ahead. Our God is about to transition them from slaves to free men."
Moses could not hear Perambula and Gracefeld speaking in his dream state. Instead, again he heard God tell him to say to Pharaoh, “Let My son go that he may worship Me.” But you refused to let him go; now I will kill your firstborn son.’”
In his dream, there was no fear, no shock. His purpose was clear and matter-of-fact. In his dream Moses readily accepted his mission.
Moses' eyes opened after he gently surfaced out of the sleep state. Unlike any other dream he ever had, Moses remembered every word God spoke to him. Hearing the boys arguing, he remembered that he had to go and help Sepphora set up camp and go to bed or else they would all be miserable with fatigue the next day.
The next morning the family felt more refreshed than they had since they left Midian. The lake, like a loving grandmother, opened her arms wide and gave of herself everything she could offer, and it was plenty. And the family rejoiced. Even the ass rejoiced. They splashed and floated, they cleaned all of their cooking utensils and plates; they drank until their bellies bulged, sadly knowing that they had to part and she would be no more. So they filled every flask they had with the refreshing lake-water and she was glad and they were glad. Soon, Moses and Sepphora had repacked everything and it was time to walk again.
As he walked ahead of his family, Moses was deep in thought. He gradually became obsessed with his duty to force Pharaoh to release the Hebrew people. The memory welled up of 40 years earlier when he, as one man alone, escaped the other pharaoh's grip. With each step Moses walked, the vision increasingly came into focus of himself as a man stepping out of his skin, and into a new body, a new magical body. Clutching his serpant-staff tightly as he walked, Moses contemplated the phases of his life and how different each had been from the others and how each phase was more like a different life than different periods of one life, his birth and years with his own family, the years in Pharaoh's court, fleeing to Midian and his life with Jethro and the birth of his own family, and now his return as a common man, a stranger to Egypt and the new pharaoh. The only link that connected these different worlds was his flesh.
The boys rushed up to their father, one on each side. Two steps for every one they marched to keep up with him. After an hour or so, the youngest cried,"Father, may we stop now, I'm hungry."
Moses looked down at his boy with compassion, as if looking into the black eyes of Pharaoh's son, the innocent victim and replied,"Yes, go tell your mother that we will stop early today. You too! I will walk up ahead to find a good spot to set up."
"Thank you father!" Shouted the boys in unison and raced each other back to be the first to tell Sepphorah. Meanwhile, Moses' lofty thoughts dropped to the most practical level as he surveyed the plain before him for another lake or a clear flat place to park.
Moses was pulled as by a magnetic force to the place Gracefeld selected for him to stop.
This was not a joyous place as the lake had been; in fact, there was a heavy gloom in the air that Moses sensed immediately, but he felt paralyzed to leave. The pressure from his sons to stop, and his own fatigue compelled Moses to try with all his mental might and with all his will to reject the sense of foreboding, casting it away as misperceptions, something he knew he had experienced many times before.
"Come Gersam, Sepphora, here I am!" shouted Moses.
By following the sound of his call, the family with their donkey found Moses who rushed over to meet them. Soon, they were busy setting up camp again. Sepphora prepared her supper as she had every evening. Nothing was different and everything was different.
At sunset, suddenly Moses gasped loudly as if he was choking, as if he was being strangled. His eyes bulged and streams of sweat trickled down from his brow. "God, no! Help me!" Sounds like those words gushed from his heart and but couldn't come out of his mouth. "God, no! Help me!" screamed his mind even louder to no effect.
Sepphora instinctively looked over at her husband and immediately sensed the danger. God sought to kill him. She called her firstborn son, "Gersam come quickly and fetch my satchel over there! She reached deep into her satchel from where Sepphora usually extracted their nourishing food. Her hand searched feverishly for the piece of flint she used to cut with. "No, not that, no, quickly quickly. Is that it? No! Yes!" Her trembling hand emerged with the suddenly sacred tool, the piece of flint that Jethro sharpened for her before they left. "Gersam, come closer and remove your garment, quickly!"
"What are you asking mother!" exclaimed Gersam stunned and bewildered.
"Don't ask questions, just remove your cloth NOW!" screamed the desperate mother.
Moses was still gasping for air. He appeared to be losing consciousness.
Gersam was too afraid to do anything but comply as he exposed his naked loin to his mad mother. His brother, Eliezer, held their father, helpless to do anything but hold him as if he could share his own life's breath with his father.
Sepphora grabbed her son's penis, and with the sharp knife sliced off the foreskin. Gersam ejaculated a scream that could be heard by every beast and fowl from the desert to the Nile as blood poorer from his member.
She immediately ran over to Moses who was still gasping for air in fits and spurts. Then, she quickly reached into the folds of his loincloth and with the same hand that found the flint, she grabbed his soft member and with the other hand yanked Gersam's foreskin to it, the son's bloody foreskin kissing his father's own penis.
Perambula had never since the beginning of time witnessed such a bizarre event. He who witnessed the briss of Ishmael, and the burning bushes was agape as the sight of Sepphora and Moses at that moment. Perambula had to look away.
At the moment that the flesh of father and son touched Sepphora cried out, "“The blood of the circumcision of my son." Immediately, Moses's breathing regained its normal rhythm. The blood rushed back into his face. The streams of sweat in the blazing heat of the desert hardened into dried up rivulets of salt.
Never before and never since has the symbol of the covenant between God and His people been so evident, so powerful. Never before and never since, and never again will the blood of the covenant between the Lord and Abraham save a life that God meant to kill.
Perambula looked at Gracefeld, too embarrassed to look at God, for what he had just witnessed was beyond comprehension, beyond cynicism, beyond wonder. To Gracefeld the angel inquired, "What just happened? How did she know to do that? Why did it work? Why did he want to slay Moses, the instrument of salvation to His people?"
Gracefeld who had always been the wiser angel, the all-knowing one, responded with silence.
Perambula then dared to look to God's face for the answers, but He was gone. God had let go of Moses throat and departed the moment Sepphora said, “The blood of the circumcision of my son."
Not having God to look to for answers, the angel gave up and looked back to Moses and Sepphora who by then were sitting in a warm embrace wrapped in the arms of their sons, a trembling mass of life, and of love, and of relief manifested.
Gracefeld quietly murmured, "Perambula, you should instead ask why there was still a foreskin to cut? The servant of God had not Himself obeyed the commandment to circumcise his son. It was about obedience. Sepphora knew that her son should have been circumcised. She would not allow Moses to do this on his 8th day. Both she and Moses thought it didn't matter. God just demonstrated that it mattered."
Then Perambula, seeing only a glimmer of the far reaching meaning of that scene, was nevertheless satisfied. The angel flew away from the family for relief. Gracefeld flew away also, to find God Who was already in Egypt speaking to Aaron.
*Note: to understand the passages in Exodus best, I went back to the Septuagint and read that the name was Sepphora rather than Zipporah. I like the name better, I think it fits the woman I have in my mind.