Perambula and Gracefeld obediently returned to earth silently swooping through the air, invisible, inconceivable by either man or bird. It was very easy to spot Israel, that giant mobile village. The angels swooped down in tandem and honed in on Miriam and Aaron who were sitting on the floor of her tent sipping tea with sweet precious honey and gossiping.
“This baby brother of ours is really something else, isn’t he?!” started Miriam. “I often wonder what would have happened if I never suggested that pharaoh’s daughter take him as her own. We probably would be in our cozy homes eating baklava right now, instead of starving in this dusty desert.”
“Don’t be ridiculous Miriam.”
“Why did he married that Cushite woman anyway? Aren’t there enough lovely ladies in our tribe to satisfy his carnal desires? Humph. A foreigner. How could God condone that and still speak to him?” snapped Mariam to add a cup more reason to the deconstruction of her unusual brother. “God picked you Aaron to be the mouthpiece of Moses. Why does He need Moses at all? You, and perhaps me, together we could just as easily receive messages from God to relay to the people, clearly and without that irritating stutter of his.”
“I don’t know why He speaks to Moses Miriam, but you’re right. I have heard God speak just as clearly as Moses has. He never hid His voice from me. If I am chosen to speak to the people, why do we need the middle man? I don’t know what makes Moses so important. This reminds me of the days of our youth, when I was a slave receiving lashes on my young back and Moses was eating grapes by the pool in the palace. There was nothing I could do about the unfairness of it all. Shhhh. Do I hear someone coming. It could be Moses.”
Moses approached the tent and called, “Miriam, Aaron! Are you in there? What are you doing?”
“Yes, here we are.” replied Aaron. Come in.”
When Moses opened the flap and was about to enter, Miriam said, “Do you want some tea Moses? I am using a little of my honey today,”
“What are we celebrating?”
“Nothing, I am just in an indulgent mood. Have some, I’m also in a generous mood.” Miriam ungracefully leveraged herself up from the floor to fetch her brother some tea.
Gracefeld and Perambula listened to this conversation in awe.
Perambula, wide eyed as usual said, “How could these siblings be so mean and so wrong. It’s as if they are taking a sliver of reality and fabricating a whole evil fantasy from it.”
Gracefeld replied cynically. “This is what you get with humans Perambula. I don’t know why God bothers with them at all. Their inclination is only for their own egos. As if the whole world should be designed to please each person according to his or her own desires and pleasure. No sense even thinking about how distasteful these people can be. We have our orders.”
“Not all people;” added Perambula, “the man Moses is very humble, more so than any man on the face of the earth. I like him. Not everyone is so bad. But I wonder how God expects us to put an end to this?”
“Since you can hear Me Aaron, and you Miriam; listen carefully!” bellowed God. To the angels He said, “make me a pillar of cloud and place it at the entrance of the tent of meeting.” Gracefeld and Perambula went right to work.
“What was that!”exclaimed Miriam, shocked that God spoke, the shock that thoroughly displaced her earlier bitter musings.
“Go to the tent of meeting. I have something to say to you three.”
Moses who had not yet sat down followed the voice of the Lord without hesitation. Miriam, who was standing at her firebox getting ready to boil water froze in fear. Aaron slowly lifted himself from the floor. He went over to Miriam and clutched her forearm to guide his frozen old sister out of her tent and over to the tent of meeting which had been erected in isolation far off in the field.
As the siblings made their way to the tent of meeting they tried to look inconspicuous while passing children playing, women washing and men repairing, many of whom looked up to greet them without response.
Moses was the first to enter the large empty tent followed by jittery Aaron, then Miriam. They stood in dark cool silence for several moments while Perambula and Gracefeld were conjuring up the pillar of cloud. God waited patiently.
Finally the cloud was ready and God entered it and caused it to move in a rotating fashion. The people all looked up from their activities to see the cloud slowly make its way over to the big tent. There was murmuring and there was silence all mixed together creating a reverent hum. No one dared follow the cloud, but instead the people either sat and stared or forced themselves to return to what they had been doing.
When the God-filled pillar of cloud arrived, the sound of God’s voice was heard by all, “Aaron and Miriam, come forward!” He said, “Hear my words: When there are prophets among you, I the Lord make myself known to them in visions; I speak to them in dreams. Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house. With him I speak face to face-clearly, not in riddles; and he beholds My form. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”
Moses gazed at his siblings with deep sorrow at this news of their disdain for him. He suddenly felt abandoned disconnected from them as if threads that had once connected them were frayed and split. Nevertheless he harbored these feelings in a deep state of semi consciousness.
That was all the Lord had to say. The pillar of cloud gradually dissipated into the unholy air. God was angry. He was angrier than He had been. For Miriam and Aaron insulted not just Moses, but dared to criticize Him, their Lord and God. Their sentiments reflected the height of hubris. They didn’t deserve to live, in fact that kind of talk was not life, it was anti-life. It was destruction of life, annihilation of the air. God could not think of an animal that would treat Him in such a disrespectful manner. But God doesn’t brood. He just departed leaving behind Miriam who had suddenly became leprous, as white as snow.
Aaron looked at his freakish sister in shock, turned to Moses and said, “Oh my Lord, do not punish us for a sin that we so foolishly committed.”
Miriam was crying uncontrollably by then, her fear overwhelmed by guilt and shame. She fell to the ground and covered her face crying harder and harder with thoughts of what would become of her life. The shame, the isolation, the pain, and death.
Moses, in empathy looked up into the heavens and said to the Lord, “Please heal her. If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear the shame for seven days. Let her be shut out of the camp for seven days, and after that be brought in again.”
Without reply, but in confidence that his request was granted, Moses lead Miriam far away from the camp, carrying supplies that she would need to survive alone in the wilderness.
The people they passed were in shock at the sight of Miriam all white and oozy. One by one, people asked Aaron what had happened. Aaron was not ready to talk about it.
Miriam was shut out of the camp for seven days, isolated, pensive, and in great pain while everyone else waited patiently and pensively before continuing on the journey.
Gracefeld and Perambula were once more surprised that God could be so easy persuaded by Moses’ plea on behalf of the ignorant people. Perambula said, “Maybe God appreciates his compassion and that’s another reason why Moses is so special.”
“True. Not being human, God has no idea what these beings have to contend with all the forces thrown at them by the evil one, and by their own weakness.”
“I really like that God allows Moses to influence Him.” said Perambula.
“Would you angels please stop chattering and come here!”