Moses sat quietly by the bloody Nile watching men dig to fill buckets of clear water for drink and bath. As he looked upon this scene his mind drifted to his own infancy. This river where his mother laid him, from which he was granted life, had become a sea of overwhelming death. It stank from all the dead fish. It stank of death like the putrid decay of the heart that hatred makes.
Moses thought about the irony of this blood in the water, two life giving elements combined, kill instead.
These thoughts of death recalled to Moses’ mind the dead boys-victims of his grandfather Pharaoh’s lust for power. How could a man have such power over the lives of others as to decide who shall live and who shall die? How the Lord must have grieved to see the innocents slain, to hear mothers and fathers wailing at the loss of their sons. Moses was more determined than ever to remove his people from the murderous grip of such evil. It wasn't until this visit to Egypt as an old man that Moses saw for the first time in his life the effect on the Hebrew people of their captivity. They prayed to a God they didn't know anything about. They begged for freedom of which they were equally ignorant. It was the blindness of slavery that made it all the more tragic.
God hadn't spoken to Moses in nearly a week. He had no idea of what would happen next or when. All he knew was that the bloody river did not impress Pharaoh enough to release them to pray together. To Pharaoh, God's marvels were assumed to be magic tricks. The Lord of all wanted it that way.
Meanwhile, Perambula, Gracefeld, and God were discussing the next marvel.
“Frogs?! Why frogs?” said Gracefeld to God. “That sounds ridiculous. I have never heard of anything so absurd.”
“I think it sounds creepy.” added Perambula.
God returned a mischievous smile and added, “I already made it happen.” Referring to the millions of frog eggs He had planted in the waters that had turned into tadpoles and would soon become frogs. They didn't mind the bloody water, in fact this brew speeded up their metamorphosis.
Then the Lord left His puzzled angels and went to where Moses sat by the Nile. He said to him in the language and tones that had become so familiar and so pleasing to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, “Thus says the Lord: Let my people go so they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will plague your whole country with frogs. The river shall swarm with frogs; they shall come up into your palace, into your bed-chamber and your bed, and into the houses of your officials and of your people, and into your ovens and your kneading bowls. The frogs shall come up on you and on your people and on all your officials.”
At this message, Moses’ eyes opened wide in surprise. “Frogs, my Lord?!” Perambula who had followed God tuned into the conversation and smiled in agreement.
The Lord replied briskly, “Yes, frogs!” Only God was aware that frogs could survive the bloody water, and He wanted the three months of metamorphosis that frogs needed to time the marvel perfectly coinciding the release of the eggs to the bloody river, plus seven days. Those bloodless reptiles were the only life-form that could survive the corrupted water of the Nile. God alone was the scientist of that era.
God continued to speak to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, the canals, and the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’”
Moses, having received his instructions stood up and walked home to tell Aaron. He was grateful to have a partner in this epic ordeal, and even wondered if his speech impediment had been just for this purpose.
“Frogs? In this bloody water; surely you’re joking!” said Aaron.
“The waters aren't as red and thick as they were. You say why, I say, why not frogs.” replied Moses. “Come on, let’s go. Where is the staff?”
Aaron went into his bedroom where the innocent-looking staff leaned into the corner of the room. A smooth wooden stick that Aaron had whittled from a young sycamore in his youth, and had walked into adulthood and old age with it by his side. Aaron was more surprised than anyone how God could fill his familiar stick with such foreign power.
Moses and Aaron walked nonchalantly through the village to a hilltop where they could overlook the city with its many waterways chatting about the weather, and the latest travails of Gersham and Eliezer. They noticed people watching and whispering to each other as they passed. He distinctly heard one man cynically say, “Now what? Are Moses and Aaron about to make our lives even more miserable?”
When the brothers arrived at the top of the hill, they looked around for a good spot where they could be seen. When they landed they were noticed by the Egyptians and working Hebrews who were gathering wood.
Moses looked over at Aaron and said, “Okay, do it.”
Aaron responded with a smile and a deep breath, then he confidently stretched out his hand gripping his long staff with his mind focused only on the waters; and suddenly thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of frogs popped up and covered the land of Egypt.
A chorus of gasps echoed throughout the region. Children screamed. Mothers quickly gathered their babes and sought refuge in their homes. Chaos took hold. Nothing like this had ever happened before. There was no frame of reference to go to for meaning or relief from the fear. No one, not even Pharaoh knew what this infestation would lead to. Frogs hopped out of bloody waters and into stewpots, beds, and out of sewage holes. They were everywhere.
And all Pharaoh could do in response was call his magicians and tell them to make frogs appear too. This of all lame requests was the easiest for the magicians. Who would know if the frogs they produced were from them or by Aaron’s staff. Nevertheless, Pharaoh was satisfied in believing that his magicians had the same power as the God of Moses.
The next morning, after a sleepless night fending off frogs, Pharaoh decided that he must put an end to this absurd calamity, and reel in the brothers. It was no longer worth it. He decided to let the people have their prayer, so his kingdom could return to normalcy, and most important, so that he could get a good night’s sleep.
First thing in the morning, Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron to come to him. When they arrived he said, “Pray to the Lord to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.”
Moses replied, “Kindly tell me when I am to pray for you and for your officials and for your people, that the frogs may be removed from you and your house and be left only in the Nile.”
And he said, “Tomorrow,” to pretend that he wasn’t as desperate as he really was.
Moses replied, “As you say! So that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God, the frogs shall leave you and your houses and your officials and your people; they shall be left only in the Nile.”
Then Moses and Aaron left the palace and went home. They told the people to spread the word that they should all prepare leave the next day. The city was a flurry of happy activity as men, women, and children prepared for freedom. Prayers of gratitude erupted from dry hearts.
Early the next morning with joy and relief, Moses and Aaron returned to their place on the hill where this time Moses lifted his staff over all the waters; and Moses cried out to the Lord concerning the frogs that he had brought upon Pharaoh. And the Lord did as Moses requested: the frogs died in the houses, the courtyards and the fields. And they gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank.
But after a pleasant night’s sleep and Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, his heart hardened again and he changed his mind.
Oblivious to Pharaoh's change of heart, joyous Hebrew people were gathering by families and tribes to begin their exodus. The town square was crowded with every man woman and child being counted. The elders each took charge of his tribe. Bags bulged with food and clothing.
The parade finally started, but was abruptly halted. Armed guards barked, “Where are you going! Get back to work!”
Moses replied, “By the word of Pharaoh we are going to the wilderness to pray.”
“Well, by the word of Pharaoh to me this morning, you will get back to work!” A fierce wolf-like stare chilled their blood.
The people grumbled and complained. Here and there a man shouted obscenities; children cried; mothers weeped, but in the end, like soldiers or rather like prisoners, they did as the guards demanded. Women returned home weeping to unpack and cook. Bitter men went back to work, children played.
Oblivious to the chaos outside his palace gate, Pharaoh was comfortable in his reversal, for the stasis of his heart was to be hard and mean and stubborn, just as his father before him.