Moses woke up feeling refreshed. The air was warm but clean. He had just been dreaming that he and his sons were leading the people out of Egypt; a vast army of families heavily laden with jewels and supplies were following them. A boy playing a flute walked beside him and his sons. In his dream Moses could see angels guiding them, as if the path had been mapped out for eons.
Sepphora heard Moses rousing and called through the window from the kitchen area, “Good morning sleepyhead. What can I make you for breakfast? We have eggs today! Look, we have no flies! Isn't this wonderful?!”
“Yes.” replied Moses, still deep in thought. “Eggs are fine. Is there any fish and bread?”
Just then they heard a knock on the door and Miriam opened it after wiping her hands on her apron.
A barefoot boy, seemingly out of breath from running announced, “Moses, the Pharaoh wants to see you right away. I am to take you, come.”
Aaron looked in from his room and then over to catch Moses’ glance and smiled. “I’m ready!”
Moses replied, “Go back and tell Pharaoh that I will be there after breakfast. Go; I know the way.”
“But he will be angry if I don't bring you back as he commanded.”
“Then wait for me outside.”
The boy was happy to wait where there were no flies. He wanted never to return to the flies.
Miriam looked over at Moses and said, “Perhaps this is IT! Pharaoh is ready to let us leave this wretched place.”
“We will see.” said Moses “Aaron, there is no rush. What do you want to eat?”
No one was in a hurry to walk into the Egyptian district with the swarms of flies everywhere.
The brothers saw the neighborhoods, one after the other were in shambles. The people looked more miserable than ever. Dead flies, killed by angry humans, carpeted the ground. The city was in ruins because of the flies and the other calamities.
Guards let the brothers go right in. There was more order inside the palace with its cavernous rooms and statues, but the flies were there too, as many, if not more densely populated than in the streets. Moses wished he had brought a woven fan to whisk them away.
They reached Pharaoh sitting on his throne with slaves fanning him on three sides. Over the loud buzzing sound of thousands of fluttering wings and through the screen they created, Moses heard Pharaoh say, “Go sacrifice to your God within the land.”
Moses replied, “It would not be right to do so; the sacrifices that we offer to the Lord, our God, are offensive to the Egyptians. If we offer in the sight of the Egyptians sacrifices that are offensive to them, they will stone us! We must go a three days journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to our God as He commands us.”
Pharaoh thought for a moment and replied, “Alright, I will let you go to sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness, provided you do not go very far away. Pray for me.”
Then Moses said, “Good. I will pray to the Lord that the flies may depart tomorrow, from you, from your officials, and from your people, only do not change your mind again!”
“You may be excused.” replied Pharaoh somberly anxious to be rid of the brothers so he could bathe.
Moses and Aaron quickly walked back through the swarms of flies with their noses and mouths covered by their hands. They decided to go to the hill where they had prayed before. When they arrived, Moses lifted his arms and looked into the heavens saying “Lord God almighty, good God, great God who wants to free Your people from their oppressors, please remove the flies. Without waiting for an answer, Moses and Aaron descended the hill and went into the villages, Moses going to the right and Aaron to the left to announce to the people that they would be leaving the next day. Once again, men, women and children enthusiastically loaded their mules for the journey.
God ordered Gracefeld to lead an army of angels to remove the invisible shield that kept the flies in Egypt so they could disperse.
By noon the next day, as Moses promised, the flies were completely gone from Pharaoh, from his officials, and from his people; not one remained. Each Egyptian from Pharaoh to the smallest infant sighed with relief. No one cared how it happened so fast, only that the flies were gone. Women swept the dead flies into piles inside their homes and out. On every street a deep pit was dug to deposit the flies into. Relief became a fleeting sensation.
Moses and Aaron were too busy organizing for their exodus to notice. They decided to start the journey the next morning. The word went out from one neighborhood in Goshen to the next to be ready.
Meanwhile, Pharaoh changed his mind again. He called his chief guard in to announce that his permission was to be rescinded. The guards were to put a stop to the exodus of the Israelites.
Gracefeld who was invisibly present observed this scene, pleased that Pharaoh could be so easily manipulated.
“But sire! The people are ready! They have already begun to walk away! This will be a very difficult task!”
“How dare you speak thus! Get your weapons and do as I command! No Hebrew is to leave the border of this land or it will be you who suffer! Go and don't let me see your face again.” bellowed Pharaoh to his very frustrated chief guard.
Guards on horses were dispatched into every neighborhood to command the slaves back into their homes. This time, loud sighs not cries filled the air as the slaves obediently shuffled back into their homes to unpack their beasts of burden.
Disappointed but not surprised, Moses too went home, into his bedroom to listen for the familiar voice of the Lord. After several moments of inner silence he heard, “Go to Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. For if you refuse to let them go and still hold them, the hand of the Lord will strike with a deadly pestilence, on your livestock in the field: the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds and the flocks. But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing shall die of all that belongs to the Israelites.”
The Lord then set a time, saying, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.” It was still light out so Moses immediately went to tell Pharaoh.
The Hebrew people saw Moses walk quickly by as on a mission and wondered what would happen next. Some of them smiled to themselves and to each other. In the Egyptian neighborhoods the people were less cheerful to see Moses.
The palace guards spotted Moses approaching and one was sent in to announce his approach to Pharaoh who agreed to allow Moses to be admitted. This time, Moses walked as one with authority into the throne room, made his announcement without stuttering, and without waiting for a reply, and without requesting permission to depart, turned and left.
Pharaoh was stunned at the forcefulness of Moses. He called for his magicians and told them what he heard and to be prepared to do the same.
The next day all the livestock of the Egyptians died, but none of the livestock of the Israelites died. Pharaoh inquired and found that not one of the livestock of the Israelites was dead. It was becoming more and more obvious to the Egyptians that something supernatural was occurring. Nevertheless, Pharaoh’s stubbornness was set as in concrete, a deep and firm foundation, and he would not give his permission, even to rescind it again, to let the people go. It was his form of retaliation. Powerful Pharaoh refused to admit defeat, to admit that there was a power greater than his own. It was foolishness.
Without a moment’s delay for the Egyptians to recover from the calamity of their dead livestock, or for Pharaoh to wake up from his delusion, the Lord then said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from the kiln, and let Moses throw it in the air in the sight of Pharaoh. It shall become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and shall cause festering boils on humans and animals throughout the whole Land of Egypt.”
The brothers walked on paths by fields of dead animals large and small, of dead cows without milk to give, of rotting lambs and goats. The stench was nearly unbearable so they walked as fast as they could to get to the palace. Once again the guards saw them approach and one went inside to ask Pharaoh if they should be admitted.
Pharaoh filled with the curiosity and hope of one who is suffering, bade the guard to let them in.
“What have you to say today Moses as if I didn't know. Have you come to see a broken man? You won't find him here! Your magic tricks don't bother me! I have the best magicians in the universe and one day you will see what they can do!”
Aaron replied, “Sire, the Lord our God is greater than all the magicians that have ever lived. Our God is greater than your magicians and greater than your gods. Even your magicians shall be afflicted as never before.” The magicians looked on in fear and amazement thinking that this time Pharaoh demanded too much.
Pharaoh’s face was hard and expressionless. He steely eyes revealed no fear.
Then, Moses walked over to the cold kiln and reached inside where a large pile of soot and ashes waited for him. He reached in while Pharaoh looked on in confusion wondering what on earth this man was doing with ashes.
Moses, with two fists full dripping with ashes went to stand before Pharaoh and flung his arms up in the air opening his fists wide. The fistful of ashes rose high and multiplied! It was upside-down rain. The magicians cried out in pain from boils that suddenly appeared on their skin. Painful boils. They rushed out to seek relief. Some went directly into the sea, others rushed for salves of any kind they could find.
Soot appeared everywhere, inside the palace and out of it in every Egyptian neighborhood, and in the fields. Only this was a malevolent soot that caused festering boils on the skins of humans and animals.
Moses and Aaron did not wait for any sort of response, as Pharaoh too was obviously in pain. As he watched them leave Pharaoh shout, “Get out!”
This time Moses fully expected this reaction and walked quickly through the soot filled air past sore and moaning people, until he and Aaron arrived in the Hebrew quarter where the air was clean and children played and the animals were healthy.
And Moses said, “I am hungry. What’s for lunch!”