ALIVE: Chapter 62 The Holy Baptism of Israel

Genesis 32:28

Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.”


“Evangeline.” whispered an ethereal little voice.

“Who said that?” I replied.

“It’s me, Gracefeld; how can you not recognize my voice since you are who gave me voice?”

Trying to act nonchalant, I said to the air, “Ah! Gracefeld, nice to meet you; what is it?”

“I must point out that in Chapter 6, you fell short of your objective;” answered the angel sternly, then added, “how could you write about the crossing of the Red Sea in only one or two paragraphs? Take your readers in there. Let them feel the spray of water on their faces; let them know that it wasn’t just a mere escape, but rather a mass baptism of Israel the likes of which the world has never seen and will never see again. Now get to work!”

“Wait, don’t go!” I begged. “Why do you call it a baptism? Did they ask for it? Did they seek to repent of their sins; did the crossing remit their sins?”

“My dear, you have so much to learn.” replied Gracefeld sympathetically. “You of all people remember the iconic baptism which was Noah in the ark. Did they repent? John’s baptism used repentance as the reason for the people’s rebirth, for their transformation into children of the most high God.

Baptism is rebirth. Even Christ knew He needed a rebirth, the mark of a new life and was voluntarily baptized. You know almost nothing about His life before, because it had been so different. There wasn’t anything to say about it. Christ mandated baptism because the second birth is as vital to immortality as the first was to mortality.

The people Israel, each one of them individually and together as a nation, via water were reborn, just as Noah’s family was reborn, just as you were reborn as an infant.

After the miraculous crossing, there was no turning back for Israel, as there is no reentering the womb, as Noah’s family could not return to the old world. Illuminate the event as you do. One or two paragraphs! What a failure on your part!”

“Wait! Will you help me?”

“Not me, no. Don’t fret, the words will come as surely as that sun arrives to erase the darkness you start out in every morning. Yield yourself to the words. I must go and assume my own position in the story. Treat me kindly please.”

“Wait! As long as you are here, I have a burning question.”

“Okay, but ask me quickly. You really should wake up earlier you know.”

“I know. Sh. Isn’t it peculiar to call a whole nation after one man? Israel. It’s like calling a country Harvey.” I asked as succinctly as I could.

“Ah! We don’t have the time to discuss the concept of ‘out of one many, and out of many one!’ You’re American. Think about it! Israel was named by God. He is a man, he is a plethora of man, he is a country. He strives with God and man, and prevails. Israel grew from the seed that was one man and then twelve tribes and from there, a nation. And today, he is baptized in the Red Sea to mark his rebirth in God’s will. Now get on with it!” And as mysteriously as Gracefeld appeared, the angel vanished and I was left to go back to the Red Sea just as we were about to cross it...again.


Perambula in the pillar of cloud lead the exodus of thousands of Israelites out of Egypt. They were as loud as a giant swarm of bees. Children whined, ladies chattered, cows mooed, dogs barked, roosters crowed, thousands of feet shuffled. Perambula in the pillar started in a straight line out of their homes in Goshen.

“Perambula!”called God to His angel.

“Yes Lord, how am I doing?”

“I want you to steer this group around, send it back towards the sea at Pihahiroth; I will let Moses know that it’s okay. I want the Egyptian army to think we are wandering aimlessly, but I don’t want Moses to think that.”

“May I ask You why we can’t just take the straight and faster route to get out of here before the army of Pharaoh overtakes us? I admit that I am a little concerned for these people. They are difficult to steer.”

God wondered when to inform His angel of His grand plan and then said, “Trust me angel; I am about to shock both Israel and Egypt one last time to prove that I am the Lord God who is freeing Israel from the bonds of his oppressor. Now take that cloud to the sea!”

“Yes, my Lord.” and with that Perambula pushed and blew until the luminous cloud made a giant u-turn. The sounds of chattering grew louder and louder still as the mass, one person after another commented with curiosity and skepticism on the change in direction.

The appearance of wandering had its desired affect. “My Lord!” In rushed a courtier into Pharaoh’s throne room disturbing his moaning and fretting. “I bring a good report!”

Pharaoh looked up as a man starving for good news, about to breathe his last.

“The Israelites are lost! They don’t seem to have any idea of where to go, and they have ended up in front of the sea. They have cornered themselves!”

“That is good news. We must fetch them and bring them back immediately. They have had enough of their freedom. They don’t even know what to do with it. And they must be thirsty by now too. Israel will be easy prey.” said Pharaoh with the glee of a salivating lion.  “Assemble the entire army and prepare my chariot. We are going to bring back our delinquents! Didn’t they ask for only three days! Meet me in front of the palace. Be quick about it!”

Pharaoh’s despondency turned to ebullience. Thoughts of his dead son burrowed deep in his soul, so deep they were forgotten by his mind. He was now the conquering general about to lead his army to victory. A rag-torn adversary against the greatest army civilization has known was an unfair match, but that didn’t diminish Pharaoh’s thrill of pursuit. It only made it stronger because he knew that he would win this time.

Within an hour every horse and chariot in the army, in full uniform, with polished spears and bayonets and with Pharaoh in the lead were galloping to the sea, fueled by exhilaration and confidence.

Israel on the outskirts of the mass, heard the thunder of horses hooves and looked at the horizon to see the army in hot pursuit. Fear and panic spread through the crowd like a virus. “We are doomed!” cried a sixty year old Reubenite.

“Let’s surrender quickly before we are harmed, and return to serve him. It wasn’t such a bad life. Heads nodded in agreement as the decision to surrender became consensus among the tribes.

By the time that opinion reached the ears of Moses who stood closest to the sea, he too wondered what to do. Suppressing his concern, Moses said, “Don’t be afraid, see what the Lord will do. The Lord will fight for you, keep still.” But to the Lord Moses sang a different song. He looked around for options and saw none. Then he said, “Lord, your cloud cornered us. How can we escape? Did you lead us here only to be slaughtered?”

“Why are you crying out to Me.” replied the Lord.”Lift up your staff, stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it so Israel can walk on dry ground.”

‘Divide the sea?’ thought Moses, but he caught himself before adding, “That’s impossible!”

Instead, Moses took a deep breath, looked up into the heavens for a sign; saw none, lifted his right arm with hand clenched around the staff. Suddenly a mighty wind, a wind never before and never again to be duplicated swept up from the east. Small objects took flight. Mother’s clutched their infants. Chickens squawked. The sun fell onto the horizon.  It was surreal. But the wind also mysteriously blew away fear and complaints.

Perambula and Gracefeld repositioned their pillars of cloud and fire from the lead to behind Israel to form a rampart nestling Israel into a safe and secure space from which man, woman, and child could regain their composure. Perambula filled the clouds with bright light so Israel could see with daylight eyes the widening path created at his million feet. 

All night long Perambula and Gracefeld held back Pharaoh’s army so it could not reach Israel.

Israel walked in dusky light through the Red Sea corridor with watery walls spraying a refreshing mist onto the faces of the numb multitude while the mighty wind roared to push the people through and blow away any inkling of trepidation that would have made them surrender to their familiar taskmasters.

Moses, his brother and sister, his wife and sons lead the congregation of Israel on the miraculous trek through the sea. It was the iron clad  faith of one man, Moses, that caused a chain reaction so strong that faith grew and grew as it was passed down the line to the very last family. Men, their wives and children felt the soggy earth beneath their feet. It was like walking on the narrow wet sea shore without the wide dry beach to go to.

The wind that formed the magical corridor was created by a plethora of powerful spirits. It was a warm wind, and it pushed the mass of marchers along through the sea so that no one felt resistance, but rather as if he or she was being swept through. 

“Look ahead!” shouted Moses. “Do not look at the water! Pass it down.”

Echoes of, “Look ahead! and Faces front!” echoed through a mile of souls. The people were too numb to entertain doubts that they would make it through. Even the most stubborn skeptic didn’t dare doubt that he would make it to the other side of the sea.

Moses who had experienced many supernatural events since the day that God spoke to him from the burning bush was confident that God had created this temporary highway to freedom, this short cut to safety just for them. Every step of the way detached the people from Pharaoh, in body and in soul.

Eliezer clutched the bundle of bones of Joseph close to his heart. Gersam and a band of young men stood on the sidelines as the people passed shouting the message, “Look ahead! Don’t look at the water!”

Moses was glad it was night time when the darkness made it easier to be blind to the weird corridor walls. The warm and  mighty wind at their backs was the Spirit of God-almighty Who was creating a way where there was no way. He was shepherding His precious people through the valley of the shadow of death for the first time.

Miriam was among the first to reach the beach. The sight of miles of shore to her left and right made her heart skip.  She took a few deep breaths to try to regulate it again. Long red streaks appeared in the dark night sky. The sun was about to rise. She was an old woman, more than ninety years of age, but she wept like a baby. Aaron held her arm, and said, “Come sister, there is a rock, let me take you to sit. It will be a long time before the rest of the people arrive. You may even want to try to sleep.”

“Thank you Aaron, I could no more sleep than I could do cartwheels right now. Yes, take me to that rock.”

Every minute that went by more and more people arrived. Cows and oxen, chickens and sheep too were mixed in with the rich families of Israel.

“Look at the sun mommy!”shouted a little girl with glee. Indeed daybreak heralded the arrival of the pilgrims to the eastern shore.

“Move back, don’t linger here, make room for more people! Move back!” A few young men took it upon themselves to usher the pilgrims onto dry ground. First steps out of the sea were like taking first steps on the Moon. The relief of arrival and wonder at new surroundings was commonly felt by young and old.

Meanwhile, just as the sun filled the sky with day, the Lord and Perambula and Gracefeld in their pillars of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army still in pursuit of Israel.  By then pharaoh’s army was deep into the corridor of the sea, closing in on the older Israeli stragglers. Suddenly, God through the Egyptians into a panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so they turned with difficulty.

Terror swept through the army of Pharaoh. A soldier shouted, “Let’s flee, for the Lord is fighting with them!” Realization that they were in pursuit of the God who killed their firstborn terrified them.

While horses were being whipped to pull their chariots out of the mud, and the Israelites were all safely on the eastern shore, the Lord instructed Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea. Moses peered into the path of their salvation to see in the distance the struggling pursuers and slowly lifted his hand clenching the staff.

The walls of the magical path melted to erase the highway of the salvation of Israel. Within twenty five minutes the sea returned to its normal depth. Several of the heartiest soldiers which had almost made the crossing washed up on shore, as dead as their drowned compatriots whose bodies were being tossed by the current. Not an enemy was left to threaten God’s people.

Thousands of wide Israeli eyes looked back to stare at their path as it slowly submerged under water. Some saw in the distance arms and legs flailing and heard horses neighing and chariots breaking.

That which they didn’t dare to fear, drowning, was befalling the army of Pharaoh. That which they convinced themselves would not happen, was indeed happening to those who would have captured them.

As in the days of Noah, water was the cause of death and new life. All of Israel began its new free life with baptism in the bloody Red Sea.

Perambula and Gracefeld with a congregation of sub-angels wafted through the party soaking in the joy and blowing away random evil spirits that would spoil the moment.

They laughed. They danced. They cried. They sang new songs. Miracle of miracles.

Two days of merriment gave God’s nation time to catch their breath and continue their journey east to the land that was promised to Father Abraham centuries before, and to them.

Israel was renewed.

“Now, that’s more like it, Evangeline.” whispered Gracefeld. And I smiled, relieved to be approved by one of my favorite, most respected angels.

ALIVE: Chapter 61 The Grand Eviction

Miriam looked up into the starry sky as if searching for the face of the Lord to thank Him for freedom. In all her years Miriam had never stepped even one toe out of Egypt; she had rarely left her neighborhood. Relief and haste rising from Hebrew hearts permeated the air so that even the dumb animals and youngest babes and toddlers felt an incomprehensible sense of relief that finally Pharaoh let them go. They had to leave fast before he changed his mind again.


The Egyptians, left behind, sat in their homes and in the gathering squares glad to be getting rid of the cause of so much suffering. The God of these people who served them for generations had appeared with a vengeance causing much more harm than those people were ever worth.


Mothers and fathers were still mourning the death of their first born. Grieving hearts craved the exodus of Israel, the murderer. They gladly parted with their jewelry of silver and gold and with their finest clothing to be rid of Joseph’s God. They were a plundered people without anger or regret for it. Some Egyptians wanted an end to the days of calamity, others routed for Israel to beat Pharaoh. Even children joined in the thrill of expelling the Israelites. Those who thought about the extra work figured it would help them forget the devastation they had endured.


“Get out! Go away from here. Now. Tonight! Just go! Don’t wait for your dough to rise. Take your bowls of dough and your flocks and livestock and your first born. Take our silver and gold and clothing and leave us. Never return!” shouted the elders in unison. “Go before Pharaoh recovers from his grief.”


Young men went in packs through Goshen knocking on doors and demanding that Israel leave immediately. A great commotion was stirring as families hastily packed up their possessions to obey the Egyptians and their own hearts that yearned to flee from familiar cages. Bellies still full of the sacrificial lamb would have to wait a long time for another feast. Dough in bread bowls couldn’t rise with all the commotion, but would have to be rolled out and baked later in makeshift ovens.


How many times had Pharaoh told them they could leave? How many times had they packed and formed their groups and exit strategy? Never had it been so rushed and chaotic. Foreigners clung to Israelites to escape Egypt with them. The elders allowed only those who were circumcised, or willing to be circumcised to join them.


As he marshaled his own family Moses became hyper-aware of the significance of this night, and that future generations must experience however possible this holiest of nights when their One True God set them free. The vigil of this night must be kept throughout their generations. The lamb with bitter herbs, the unleavened bread, the prayers; each generation of Israel must remember this moment of relief and the presence of their mighty God.


The Lord said to Moses, Consecrate to Me all the firstborn; whatever is the first to open the womb among the Israelites, of human beings and of animals, is Mine.


Moses said to the people, “Remember this day on which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, because the Lord brought you out from there by strength of hand; no leavened bread shall be eaten. Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out. When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore to his ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this observance in this month.


Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a festival to the Lord. You shall tell your children on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt. You shall keep this ordinance at its proper time from year to year.’


Perambula and Gracefeld met with the Lord to review the route of the migrants. Gracefeld was to lead them by night as a pillar of fire, and Perambula by day in a pillar of cloud so that they might travel day and night. They would not take the direct route, but rather a circuitous path to avoid war. The people weren’t ready for that yet.


Eliezer felt so much more alive than ever before. Experiencing the favor of the Lord during all those calamities, he was shocked when they were happening to the Egyptians and not to them, not to him. It seemed to him that his life before coming to Egypt and being a Jew was merely mechanical. He had the same body that needed to sleep and eat, that got angry and sad, happy and mischievous, but seeing that their God answered prayers for freedom, he had begun to pray. Every night as he lay in bed waiting for sleep to come over him, he spoke to God, told him how he felt, asked him for guidance, and for protection. From time to time  there were indications that he was heard!


Since he seemed to be communicating with this great God, Eliezer felt different! More like a real person and not just an animal with language and emotions. Knowledge of God made life exciting and safe at the same time.


Eliezer was proud of His father. Every morning when he woke up, Eliezer was excited to see what miracles the day would bring. Even though he was from Midian and well travelled compared to the rest of them, he anticipated the exodus with joy and gladness. He was ready for anything, because he knew that their God, His God, was leading them to a fine new home.


Eliezer was very glad to leave Egypt, probably gladder than the Israelites. Slavery meant something very different to him. It was humiliating to be treated so inhumanely. He had been robbed of his humanity by force. He had been treated as an animal only for his physical usefulness. Moses and his grandfather Jethro always treated him with kindness and respect. Eliezer knew what it meant to be free and he knew the appalling difference. How grateful he was to be free again. He wondered how many lives had been spent from birth to death in these 400 years with no inkling of the difference. The Israelites, he feared, would have a huge adjustment to make. In fact, he didn’t know how they would react to freedom with its responsibilities and risks. Many of the people that he met did not want to leave their homes; slavery trained them to grumble over every command.


“Eliezer, stop daydreaming!” shouted Moses to his son. “Come here. The elder Baruch has given me this precious  bundle, which is the bones of our patriarch, Joseph. You will carry them out of Egypt.”


Eliezer walked closely behind his father, solemnly embracing the Patriarch Joseph. What an honor! There was a man doubly blessed by God, with wisdom and intelligence, and with favor. When they reached Baal-zephon Eliezer carefully set his holy bundle down in the care of his mother Sepphora and helped to set up camp opposite it by the sea.


The Lord could not resist orchestrating one last event, a grander finale more positive than the death of the first-born, more astonishing than the million frogs, lest anyone ever forget that it was God and not Pharaoh who set Israel free.


In the comfort of his palace far far away from the hubbub of his poor grieving people, Pharaoh was told that indeed all of Israel had left, not a soul remained in Egypt to work. With their exodus, he lost power, wealth, and respect. The humiliation was worse than the grief caused by the death of his cherished son. This God, this immaterial magician had stripped Pharaoh of everything that had been the almighty leader of the greatest country in the world. “What have we done, letting Israel leave our service?” thought Pharaoh, “but I still have an army.”


In a vain attempt to recover, Pharaoh shouted for his officials. “Israel has been gone long enough! Surely by now their worship is over. Go and make ready my chariot and my army. We must bring them back immediately! Take chains and ropes to tie up the resisters!”


The captain was glad to see his leader aback to normal. The Egyptian elite were concerned about the new world order.



Soon, six hundred picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them and Pharaoh went in hot pursuit of Israel.


Swift Arabian horses and chariots rode to the campsite by the sea where it was reported that Israel had foolishly cornered themselves, making it oh so easy to round up.


When Israel heard them and then saw the great mass of Egyptians advancing on them, in great fear they cried out to Moses, “was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt? Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians. For that is better than to die in the wilderness.”


Moses replied to the people, “Do not be afraid! Stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians that you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, you only have to keep still.”


Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to Me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that Israel may go into the sea on dry ground. Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; so I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh, His chariots, and his chariot drivers.”


Then Perambula who had been leading Israel, in his pillar of cloud, moved and went behind the mass of people. Perambula took the position between the armies of Israel and Egypt. The angel shined in the cloud and separated the two armies throughout the night.


Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers.


At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire (with Gracefeld) and cloud (with Perambula) looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw them into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels in the mud so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians shouted, “Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”


Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and their chariot drivers.”


So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, of the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.


Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses, for about an hour.

ALIVE: Chapter 60, Mid-Tale Thoughts

Some scholars say the Passover story is not historical. Only God knows for sure. Nevertheless, it has happened for billions of people in the reading and telling of it in annual commemorations whether or not thousands of frogs ever hopped into Egyptian beds and all the rest. Obviously, God wants us to know the Passover story for a good reason which makes Passover as real in our minds as the moon landing.


The ALIVE account of the Passover offers imagined details that evoke the rich meaning, and therefore the purpose of the story.


The Passover is the second major work of God in a triptych designed to gradually restore His people to the state of human origin in which we clearly reflected His image and likeness, when we were designed to have dominion over nature with its decay, malfunction (illness), and natural death.


We became subject to the cycle of nature (e.g. childbirth pain, difficulty farming, death) when Eve, then Adam believed the lie that God was not trustworthy, and then ate of the poisonous tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Creation story may be an allegory too, but that doesn’t make it any less meaningful.


They were forbidden to eat of that tree for God’s good reason. Adam and Eve were originally in the world but not of it. Jesus showed us what that means. He was in the natural world, but not of it, because like Adam and Eve, He had dominion over nature as demonstrated by the many miracles.


Distrust opened the floodgate of good and evil, which could only be mitigated by exhibiting extraordinary faith, as demonstrated by Noah and Abraham. Faith looks at evil and sees the good hiding behind it. Faith ignores both to seek God’s mysterious will.


The Flood, the Passover, and the Resurrection take God’s chosen people, step by step to a new Promise Land, revealed by the Apostle John in his revelation, where we will live in incorruptible bodies, and once again enjoy dominion over nature.


For those of us who wonder why God allows evil, the answer is that once upon a time He didn’t. Yet, the Flood tells us that annihilating everything was a short term solution, but key.


Making children of God, through God’s will and man’s cooperation is an ambitious project, particularly in the face of such great opposition.


First step. Noah’s Flood defined the essential elements of life, which are salvation, baptism, and mercy.


When wondering about salvation imagine those who drowned outside the ark. Drowning is easier to picture than Armageddon.


Baptism signifies death and rebirth. Everyone died in the Flood except Noah and his family who were reborn through the combustion of equally intense fear and faith. As with Noah’s family, true life begins, not in the oblivion of natural birth, but rather with the will to be in the ark of salvation from the doomed world. One appropriates the powerful and meaningful event through re-enactment, as though it is happening for the first time, and for the same purpose.


The concept of mercy is perfectly defined by the olive branch presented by the dove. Ελέησον. The Greek word for mercy literally means to olive me. Stop. Clear your mind of all noise, and imagine intense of relief after 180 days at sea. Imagine being the only life form on the entire planet, and you are starving and scared, and then you see a dove approach you with an olive branch. Hallelujah!!! Noah and his family were given mercy and they received relief. Ask for mercy to receive relief from your suffering or to prevent punishment. Olive oil is the manifestation of a powerful concept, God-bestowed relief. Keep in mind too, the months of faith and suffering before the olive branch appeared. Patience is a virtue. To touch your forehead, the shell of your mind, with Holy Water, or olive oil (Holy Unction) is a flashback.


As big and meaningful as The Flood was, it would be as a fleck of gold buried deep in the earth had it not been for Passover.


Passover opened the gilded altar doors to reveal God to all His people. Passover was as God’s third beginning. The Creation birthed man, the Flood baptized him, the miracles of Passover ushered the sons of God into a new world in communion with Him.  


When the angel of death passed over the blood-stained doorways, it was as if the olive branch appeared after four hundred years.


Four hundred years in Egypt made the descendants of Jacob into a solid nation. Slavery bound them together, lest in freedom they scatter throughout the earth and were dissolved. The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart and the nine calamities gave this nation time and conditions to pry them loose from the mold of an Egyptian slave.


The epic story starts with the bloody Nile to recall the days when Pharaoh drowned the Hebrew baby boys in the Nile. Only Moses was saved from the deadly Nile as if baptized to begin life anew as the grandson of Pharaoh. The bloody Nile echoed the Flood. Again, baptism initiates a new different kind of life.


To explain His purpose for the Passover God tells Moses that He will:

  1. Free them from the burdens of the Egyptians
  2. Deliver them from slavery
  3. Redeem them
  4. Take them as His people
  5. Be their God
  6. Bring them to the Promise Land
  7. Give it to them, that they may know that He has...
  8. Freed them (past tense, as if it already happened)
  9. Keep His promise.


During the worst of times during the last days in Egypt, God repeated His overarching purpose which was to demonstrate that He is the Lord, the powerful, to make His name resound through all the Earth (Exodus 9:16). God impressed upon this nation of His that He is their God who will free them from the harsh bonds of slavery. Millennia will go by before He associates slavery with sin and consequently with death, from which He ultimately intends to free His people, forever.


And now let’s go cross the Red Sea.

Alive: Chapter 59, Death: The Key to Freedom III

Part Three- Finale

The people solemnly slaughtered their lambs at twilight as instructed. The women wept while preparing for the meal coating their lambs with the herbs, and making unleavened bread.

Children watched in awe as blazing fires settled into red hot coals to roast the lambs slowly and thoroughly. The sweet aroma of the cooking meat and herbs filled all of Goshen with the strong incense of Passover. A smell they will remember all their earthly days as the smell of freedom. This sweet smoke created a dense fog that slowly rose into the heavens carrying with it the thoughts and prayers of the slaves about to be set free.

While the lambs were cooking, doorway after doorway was being painted with deep red blood. The children ran from house to house to watch and the teenage boys asked to help. Fathers handed their sons the hyssop brushes. No one complained, no one questioned. After all that they had been through, each person knew better than to question Moses or his God.

After the ceremony of painting, the menfolk and the children went inside their homes to divided and eat the lamb.

It was time. In Mariam’s house Moses, Sepphora, Gersham, Eliezer, and Aaron with his wife Elisheba, with his sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazer and Ithamar and Aaron’s daughter in law, and his grandson Putiel were gathered. With all eyes focused on the lamb, they prayed. “Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam. Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe great and powerful God who hath brought us to this king of moments in all of history, God of life, be with us and guide us through this awful night.” There was nothing more to say. In silence Moses carved the lamb in equal parts to the number of people in the family and passed the platter for each person to take his or her piece of the one lamb that united them with each other. Everyone looked at their meat with thoughts of the lamb who just that morning had been frolicking in the pasture. He alone represented their corporate frailty.The lamb was their refuge. There was to be no leftovers, they ate quickly, with sandals on their feet, ready to run. After the lamb had been completely consumed, when it had gone from the platter into each man, woman, and child’s body to nourish and sustain them for the journey ahead, one by one family members fell exhausted.

Gersham was first to ask, “Mother, I am so tired, may I go to rest now?”

Aaron and Nadab followed, the three first-born men of the family subconsciously felt a great weight on their hearts in sympathy, in grief, in relief that for a reason that no man comprehended, they were going to be spared. That blood was to save him specifically. These three men craved the relief of a deep slumber.

In ones and twos the rest of the family went to their beds to rest. Bellies full and satisfied, hearts sad, minds afraid and excited about the journey ahead.

A feeling of awe and reverence swept through every home in Goshen. Whoever was not ready to leave Egypt was getting ready now. A few, mostly infants and small children, managed to fall into a deep restful sleep. Most of the family member sat or laid in their beds hugging each other and praying with their thoughts in the still darkness.

As forewarned, at midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock.

Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his officials and all the Egyptians; and there was a loud cry in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.

The sound of women and men wailing could be heard throughout the land. Everyone who was asleep woke up. The cries, the shrieks of mother’s, of wives, of brothers and sisters collided to fill the air as loud sirens. Every Egyptian was alarmed that so many could die so suddenly. It didn’t take the Egyptians long to realize that each family had lost its first-born son. First born fathers died too leaving their wives and children bereft of support. Shepherds noticed that the first born of the livestock had fallen too. This was no accident, no coincidence. It was mysterious to the ignorant Egyptians, but it was a mystery no one had the energy to contemplate. So strong was their grief.

Pharaoh ran into his son’s room only to see his lifeless body completely drained of all joy and sorrow, of love, and of hopes and fears. There was nothing but a shell of the young man he had poured all his dreams into. With his royal head resting on his son’s still and silent chest Pharaoh saw his dynasty crumble. His heir was dead. Pharaoh walked out of the room of death and went to sit on his throne.

Gracefeld never felt so sorry, so guilty knowing that the bitter grief of Pharaoh was due to the stubborn thoughts that he had planted in Pharaoh’s mind. Gracefeld wondered how this story would have played out if Pharaoh had been allowed to decide for himself how to respond to all the calamities. But then, these musings were too high for Gracefeld, who had learned to trust and not question God long ago.

In his grief, remembering their warning, Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron in the night.

Moses and Aaron, along with almost everyone else in Mariam’s home, were awaken from their deep sleep by the loud harsh knock on their door. Mariam who was still cleaning up after the meal opened the door to see the messenger. She called her brothers to wake up and go to Pharaoh.

Moses and Aaron walked out through the blood-stained lintel to follow the messenger back to the palace. While he was walking Moses contemplated how long he had known that this would happen. From the time he first set out from Jethro’s home, which seemed a lifetime ago, God had told Moses about the deaths of the first born. Before all the marvels, Moses knew that it would culminate in this tragedy. And yet, he was not prepared for how he would feel on this deadly night.

The grief drenched air was so thick with heartbreak that Moses had to wade through it as if he was wading through an ocean of tears in a strong undertow. It was impossible to walk quickly. Every doorway they passed spewed anguish.

As he walked Aaron was reminded of his youth when another Pharaoh had the infant boys drowned in the Nile and how grief-struck his own aunts had been. Perhaps it was to avenge this killing that God’s first act was to bloody the Nile. It was the blood of hundreds of Hebrew infants that spoiled the Nile. He had never realized that before. Aaron had long forgotten those day of anguish, until now. Had their God chosen this genocide as retribution? Aaron was not as sensitive to the cries surrounding him, so absorbed had he been in the memory of the infanticide he had escaped. But, didn’t the murder of the boys also cause Moses to be brought up in the palace and make him particularly well suited for this day? At that point Aaron stumbled on a rock and quickly shifted his feet to keep from falling. Upon his quick recovery he lost all track of his mental exploration.

When they finally arrived in the throne room the brothers found a depleted Pharaoh sitting dejectedly on his throne. In barely audible words Pharaoh simply said, “Rise up, go away from my people, both you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord, as you said. Take your flocks and your herds, as you said, and be gone.”

Just as Moses and Aaron turned to go, Pharaoh added, as if reaching for a life line “And bring a blessing on me too!”

Alive: Chapter 59, Death: The Key to Freedom II

Part Two

This chapter, being the climax of the event, had to be very long, which isn’t practical to post, therefore I have split it into three sections. When the book comes out, that won’t happen, but for now I ask for the indulgence of the reader, promising to post the final part of this chapter next Sunday.

God continued speaking to Moses, slightly annoyed by the distraction of Perambula’s loud thoughts, He continued, “then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two door posts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.

They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until morning; anything that remains until morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the Passover of the Lord.”

Hearing this, Perambula suddenly understood the meaning of it all. The blood of the unblemished lamb will save them from the grief and pain of death. As with Isaac, the lamb replaced the firstborn son. Now the sons of Jacob too will be rescued by the sacrificial lambs. Abraham’s faith will be rewarded once again. The covenant will be sealed anew.

The lamb’s death, in return for their life. The lamb’s death was the key to their freedom. This lamb, cut up and shared equally would work its way through their bodies to cleanse them from within, and prepare them and qualify them to be free from slavery forever. Once again, Perambula was amazed by God’s plan. He thought of everything!

“For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every first born in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”

Moses listened intently to the instructions. He neither commented, nor allowed himself to fret as Perambula did, nor to question them. Moses was not nervous, but rather in a state of heightened anticipation after a very long drawn out effort, like a war or campaign whose culmination was near. It had been a very long time since Moses first encountered God in the burning bush. A very long time; much had happened, and all to lead up to this moment when the key to release the prisoners would be gently placed in the ancient lock, and turned.

“Oh Egypt,” thought Moses, “how much like a mother’s womb you have been to our people Israel. Within your walls we found protection and nourishment; we were formed in here and grew. Now mother-Egypt must expel us. Without desire or permission, Egypt will go through birth pains as a woman in labor, shrieks in agony before the moment of relief when her womb will be evacuated with a violent birth.”

Moses solemnly called all the elders of Israel who gathered quickly to receive their instructions, and said to them, “Go, select lambs for your families, and slaughter the Passover lamb.

Take bunches of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood in their basin. None of you shall go outside the door of your house until morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike down the Egyptians, when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over that door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your house to strike you down.”

The elders listened intently. They sensed the intensity of the moment. No one murmured or questioned Moses. Perambula wafted through the Israelites like a sheepdog gathering the elders at the foot of the holy hill where Moses could be easily seen and heard. Then the angel went over to Moses and whispered in his heart to add the most important, enduring aspect of the cataclysmic event, that it should be remembered, re-enacted, and respected by every generation, until the end of days, or else it would be meaningless. Or else all that had happened to destroy Egypt for the sake of Israel, for the sake of its freedom from slavery, but much more than that, to create from Israel a unique nation among all nations in all of time. It wasn’t enough for God to create Adam and Eve in His image and likeness. He wanted a nation, a society within which to make Himself known. God wanted a family, Abraham’s family.  He first had to extract this family from the womb where He planted it, to extract it in a violent painful way, like a long and arduous labor that would be so intense that it would form the essence of the family lore.

“You shall observe this rite as a perpetual ordinance for you and for your children. When you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as He promised, you shall keep this observance. And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this observance?’ You shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, for He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when He struck down the Egyptians but spared our houses.’”

Hearing this, the elders lowered their heads in awe and humility. The youngest elders fell to their knees, some fell into a fetal position with their faces hidden between their legs, and worshipped. After several moments of silence when each man listened to Perambula’s wordless reverence placed in his heart, the elders, filled with awe and humility quietly disbanded, each man walked with fear and reverence in his heart to relay to his people the instructions that it was time to slaughter their lambs and paint the entrance of their homes with its blood, before eating it.

Alive: Chapter 59, Death, The Key to Freedom I

Part One

This chapter, being the climax of the event, had to be very long, which isn’t practical to post, therefore I have split it into three sections. When the book comes out, that won’t happen, but for now I ask for the indulgence of the reader, promising to post the subsequent part shortly.

Goshen was abuzz. Every man, woman and child sensed that the time was near when they would leave Egypt together. Surely there was nothing else God could do to ravage Egypt any more. The land was a virtual disaster area after the hail, locusts, frogs and everything. Everyone, except Pharaoh was exhausted. They had long forgotten what a normal day was.

No one, neither Hebrew nor Egyptian could imagine Egypt without its Israelites. So entwined were the two cultures for centuries. Egypt had been the refuge of the Israelites, then when their Joseph managed the country with such skill it was their pride, before it was their prison.

They ate the same food, their children played together, they even shared idols. This God who suddenly came to make himself so obvious to them and to call them out of Egypt into a land of their own was a mystery to everyone, save Moses.

Had they asked for all of this commotion, this devastation of their land, when they simply prayed for relief from the tyranny of Pharaoh?

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart to let Israel know of His power and their uniqueness as a people. He remembered His covenant with Abraham. Generation upon generation after the attempted sacrifice of Isaac, buried the stories of Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel with days of harsh toil.

This Egypt was surely not the Promise Land. Not this place where they had to ask permission to worship, but the other part of the covenant was coming true, the part that promised Abraham that he would become the father of a multitude, that he would have more children than the stars in the sky, from one son, Isaac, born in his old age; that part was coming true. That the population of Israel had exploded could not be disputed. For every Egyptian baby born, there were several Hebrew births. The women were fertile, and the babies were strong. Since that prediction was coming true, perhaps there was a Promise Land as well.

What would life be like without the chains and handcuffs of Pharaoh to order their waking days? They would have to wait and see. This God, whether by His sovereign Will alone, or in answer to their prayers had woken up. He came determined to destroy Egypt for their sake.

Word had trickled out in Goshen that the first born of the Egyptians, both human and animal, from the son of Pharaoh, to the son of the prisoner and all livestock that broke the womb would die. Those who knew were not quick to spread the word, so terrified were they. Those who knew clutched their first-born and wondered how it was that they could be spared. Every Israelite knew that although they lived in Egypt for over four centuries, they had been set apart in Goshen. Although the Egyptians were slaves of Pharaoh too, the Israelites had been treated much more harshly. Can centuries of ill treatment be offset by a few months of bizarre favor?

On this particularly bright morning Perambula was more fidgety than usual. The angel had received some strange news and didn’t want to challenge God (again) and didn’t want to hold it in. The perplexed angel flew over to the palace to find  Gracefeld.

“Gracefeld, have you heard what is going to happen next?!”

 “Yes, of course.” replied Gracefeld with an air of superiority and calmness. “I suppose you mean that the angel of death is coming to take all of the first born. Thankfully, we don’t have to do that. Messy job. Disgraceful.”

 “Yes, but no!”cried Perambula. “I mean the sacrifice of the lambs! The Lord will tell Moses that each family is to sacrifice a lamb, right Goshen! I mean how can this be?! Wasn’t it that they had to leave on a three day journey simply because this animal sacrifice would be so repugnant to the Egyptians, and now, He will have them do this right here where they live! I am so confused!”

“Calm down Perambula!”ordered Gracefeld. “Yes, I admit that this is a switch, but the Lord requires it for a very good reason. Besides, Pharaoh asked for it, ummm thanks to me! He wouldn’t let them go into the wilderness, so they would just have to do it right here under their noses. Pharaoh and all of the Egyptians too will see for themselves the power and meaning of the animal sacrifice.”

Gracefeld had a wonderful way of calming Perambula, which is why the Lord often paired them up on missions.

Gracefeld added, “Do you know which angel of death is coming?”

“No, and I don’t think it matters. I must be getting back for the announcement. Thank you.”

“I heard that we will be getting reinforcements for the Exodus!” shouted Gracefeld as Perambula drifted away. At that, Perambula merely smiled and didn’t reply.

When Perambula glided into Goshen, the meeting had begun. Perambula heard God speak to Moses and Aaron, “This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it.

Perambula wondered why Moses did not seem at all surprised by the request for a massive animal sacrifice that was to take place, not in the wilderness away from the delicate sensibilities of the Egyptians, but right here in the city limits of Goshen! But then again, Moses was in no position to challenge God again since the beginning when he tried to turn down the assignment and was given his brother as assistant.

God ignored Perambula’s loud and useless thoughts as He continued with His instructions. “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month;”

Hearing this reminded Perambula of the sacrifice of Isaac. Keeping the sacrificial animal for four days, assumed Perambula, was to make them familiar with the animal. This sacrificial lamb was to be no anonymous piece of meat, but rather more like a pet whose every feature had been first inspected for its perfection and admired. For four days and three nights the family looked upon this perfect animal that they knew they would slaughter. In the eating of this lamb, each person might remember a moment of connection, when the animal was stroked, or when a glance into its eyes created a spark of sorrow. The thought of this saddened Perambula. To the angel it was as if Isaac had been slaughtered after all, and not the stranger-ram the Lord provided. To Perambula, it was as if each Hebrew family was required to slaughter their Isaac to join in the covenant with God before being saved from genocide ahead. 

ALIVE: Chapter 58, Darkness


Pharaoh tossed and turned all night. It was getting harder and harder to be the strong decisive leader his father had taught him to be. He was in agony. He didn’t want to fall asleep because every night plagued him with horrendous nightmares, dreams of frustration. The sleep state found him lost and desperate to find his way, or being chased by wild animals and not able to hide, or falling off a precipice. He was afraid of where his mind would take him, and yet his waking hours were just as horrendous. His idiotic magicians proved useless. From his birth Thutmose had always gotten his way. Anything his heart desired had only to be named and it came to him within hours, the tastiest food, the most beautiful women, the best performers of music and dance. He remembered the day that he was told that his father died and he was crowned Pharaoh as the most thrilling day of his life. Then, when his first born son was presented to him. Oh joy; what magician conjured that up! A miniature version of himself with a touch of his father and of his mother all rolled into one sweet smelling bundle of emotions. The baby smiled and gurgled so much; how he often wondered what was making this child so joyful.


Could it be that if only he would release the Israelites to go into the wilderness to pray, then their god would be pleased and restore his kingdom and his peace of mind? Thutmose could not understand why he vacillated so, and why he was being so stubborn? Why did Moses only ask for permission to go away to pray, when they both knew full well that once gone, they would never return? Why did Moses repeatedly expect him to believe the lie that they would return? He might as well have asked for permanent release. Did that false brother of his think him a fool? He should just let them go and be rid of the whole lot!


NO NO NO, what demon placed that thought in his mind? Absolutely not. He would not be bullied by that god of theirs. Pharaoh admitted that he showed his weakness too often when he asked Moses for prayer and offered to let them go. He really had to stop that. He must win. He must show himself strong and decisive. If only he could get a good night’s sleep, everything would be better. He needed a sleeping potion. He would try one more time to clear his mind of thoughts and focus on resting his every muscle from his royal toes up through his body until he reached his mind, the summit of his being and even there he must be in control enough to sweep away any thought that displeased him. Pharaoh craved rest, to fall into the warm soothing waters of oblivion. 


Meanwhile, back on the hill, the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven so that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness that can be felt.”


Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was dense darkness in all the land of Egypt.


Pharaoh stayed in his bedroom and tried to sleep as long as he could. His man servant entered holding a candle and said, “Sire, how long shall this darkness last? The people have stopped working. The cows have stopped giving milk. The roosters won’t crow. The people want to know when the light will return. What shall I tell them?”


“How should I know!” shouted Pharaoh. “Tell them that the light will return when they have pleased their gods. Tell them that I proclaim a holiday and that they need not report to work until the darkness is lifted. Tell them to pray to the gods that their rest is deep and restorative. Now GO and leave me be!”


“I have one more message Sire.” added the daring messenger.


“What is it peon?” replied Pharaoh nastily.


“I am told that Gotham is bathed in light. They have no darkness there.”


“How can that be?” replied Pharaoh incredulously.


“We don’t know.”


“Then they should be working! Order the slaves of Goshen to clean their streets and their fields. I will send inspectors in three days and expect to see Goshen spotless! And while you are there order Moses to return to me. Now please leave me!”


The messenger walked out after kissing the hand of Pharaoh and bowing low. His first stop was to the municipal room to tell the officials about the holiday.  They chuckled at the news. 


Then the messenger turned to start his trek to Goshen to give them their orders. He had a very difficult time making his way through the streets of Egypt. His candle blew out. The darkness was so dense and pure that he had to walk waving his hands out in front of him and around his sides. No one else was out, which made it easier than it otherwise might have been.


As he approached Goshen he was shocked to see the dull luminous fog that made it much easier to walk. The closer he got to Goshen, the more light. It was amazing, it was dumbfounding. Goshen was filled with light, as opposite as the darkness of the rest of Egypt could be. He looked up at the sky for the sun, but found not the familiar ball. The messenger wondered if the light came from their God. Was He showing Egypt that He was indeed the God of light, and they were people of darkness?


With no task masters showing up for work, with all the merriment he observed, it appeared that they were the ones having the holiday. The messenger went directly to the Town Square and announced the requirement to clean their streets.


Then the messenger walked to the home of Miriam where he found Moses and Aaron eating lunch as if it was a typical day in paradise. He ordered them to return with him to the palace.


Moses didn’t seem to have half the trouble walking back to the palace as the messenger had had wading through the darkness. Either he was being guided by an inner light, or the path was so familiar that Moses could walk it in his sleep.


They arrived to find lit candles everywhere. Pharaoh’s throne room was bathed in jittery candle light.


As soon as he spotted Moses, Pharaoh said, “Go, worship the Lord. Only your flocks and your herds shall remain behind. Even your children may go with you.” Pharaoh felt, that by saying this he was being generous and yet, authoritative enough to demand reasonable limitations. He expected Moses to comply and he looked forward to the end of the standoff. Sitting in darkness, Pharaoh had no clue that the worse was yet to come.


Without hesitation, without compromise, Moses replied, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings to sacrifice to the Lord our God. Our livestock also must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must choose some of them for the worship of the Lord our God, and we will not know what to use to worship the Lord until we arrive there.”


Pharaoh was angry that Moses wouldn’t take the olive branch that had been so hard for him to offer. This demanding, unyielding, uncompromising opponent would not get the best of him. Pharaoh had no power over the light; he didn’t know the reason for the strange darkness, or when the light would return, but he still had it in his power to keep Israel from leaving, and that would be good enough. Good enough for this meeting. Good enough for this dark day. He would just try to fall asleep again.


Pharaoh turned his stubborn heart inside out and barked, “Get away from me! Take care that you do not see my face again, for on the day that you see my face, you shall die.”


Moses replied, “Just as you say! I will never see your face again.”


Then the brothers departed from the palace for what they figured was the very last time. As they walked through the dark halls into the pitch blackness, they knew not what time of day it should be. All was darkness, all was stillness, like the day before creation, like the day of death. Moses and Aaron walked back to Goshen in silence as they tried to maneuver the streets without stumbling and falling.


They finally spotted the dim yet welcome light of Goshen in the far distance and used it to guide them home quickly. They went straight to their hill and waited, but not for very long.


Moments after they arrived the Lord said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go from here; indeed when he lets you go, he will drive you away. Tell the people that every man is to ask his neighbor and every woman is to ask her neighbor for objects of silver and gold.”


Moses and Aaron were immensely relieved to hear that the end was indeed near, as they had suspected.


On the third day the people of Goshen could see the light of their district expand throughout Egypt. The days of darkness were over.


The Egyptian people, tired, and hungry, innocent victims of the battle between egotistical Pharaoh and the powerful God of Moses were thoroughly drained; they had lost everything, their fields, their herds and flocks, their air of superiority.


It was clear to everyone that Pharaoh with his useless demands was the weak one, the loser. Many of them wanted to leave with Israel. The Egyptians through all of these calamities saw what Pharaoh was blind to. Sitting on his throne, his own people rooted for Israel to win the battle and move on. Moses was clearly the victor, in the sight of Pharaoh’s officials and in the sight of his people.


As they were told to do, the Israelites took advantage of the favor they sensed from their neighbors. The women went into the Egyptian neighborhoods, knocked on doors and asked for items of silver and gold to take with them. By then it was not a matter of whether they would leave, but when. Egyptian women gladly handed over their precious metals as a prayer offering to the god of the Hebrews. Each household tried to out do its neighbor in generosity to the slaves and their powerful God. Little did they know that their biggest sacrifice was yet to come.


Strengthened by the return of light to Egypt, and by the treasure they were given by the people, Moses sensed too that he had won. Their God won!  Only now, the plague was yet to come. Until this time, in spite of all the loss, not one human life had been taken. God thought it only fair to give Pharaoh a warning of the tenth and final event, the plague, that would break Pharaoh’s God-produced strong will.


The guards saw Moses and Aaron approach and sent a messenger to ask Pharaoh if they should be admitted. Feeling better after the three day rest, and the morning light, he consented to receive the brothers. Perhaps they were coming to concede, he thought. Perhaps, they were willing to leave something precious behind to insure their return. That’s all he ever really wanted anyway. He didn’t care that they had a holiday, he just wanted to retain their usefulness, and his power over them.


Moses entered the throne room with an air of confidence and solemnity that shook the better mood out of Pharaoh. Aaron said, “Thus says the Lord: About midnight I will go out through Egypt. Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the female slave who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the livestock. Then there will be a loud cry throughout the whole land of Egypt, such as never been or ever will be again. But not a dog shall growl at any of the Israelites-not at people, not at animals-so that you may know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. Then all these officials of yours shall come down to me , and bow low to me, saying, ‘Leave us, you and all the people who follow you.’ After that, I will leave.”


Moses had worked himself into a fury with this message. He was angry that it should come to this, the killing of so many innocents to force their release. By the time Aaron finished speaking, Moses was clearly fed up and in hot anger he turned without saying a word and walked out with Aaron at his heels.


The Lord spoke to Moses’ heart, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, in order that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.”


Moses was comforted by those words; he understood that God’s ways are mysterious. It was more important to God that His power and favoritism of Israel be recognized, than all the destruction and death that it took to make it obvious to Pharaoh, to the Egyptians, and to Israel.


Gracefeld and Perambula were both very pleased with themselves for so successfully helping the Lord carry it off. These angels had never worked so hard, neither in the galaxies, nor on earth. They expected great rewards would follow and their names to be  written in the Angel Hall of Fame.


Moses and Aaron too clearly sensed that these were holy days. For all the frustration and suffering, surely future generations would hear of the marvels and the plague that was to come, and stand amazed that God orchestrated such an epic release from the chains that had bound them to Egypt and to Pharaoh for centuries.


However, it wasn’t over yet;  the Lord still hardened Pharaoh’s heart, in spite of the threat of the death that would ensue, through his able emissary Gracefeld, and he did not let them go.

ALIVE: Chapter 57, Locusts

After the hail subsided, even the angels Perambula and Gracefeld grew weary observing all that the transplanted Hebrews and the native Egyptians had to endure together with one calamity after another in a non-stop barrage of misery. No one was free to leave Egypt; everyone had to suffer not knowing what would come next to frighten or repulse them.


“Gracefeld,”asked Perambula, “how are you managing to keep Pharaoh so stubborn through all this? I really thought that the hail had to be more than he could endure, knowing that it is in his power to relent and return to normalcy. His kingdom is utterly destroyed!”


“It isn’t easy Perambula.”replied Gracefeld. “You see how many times Pharaoh weakened. Over and over I spoke through his heart, that surely the Hebrews would not return once they left. To have less than half of his workforce, and to be left with the least skillful builders would spell the end of his pyramid project. His own tomb could not be built. What is a Pharaoh without a tomb? Besides, I told him. No matter how bad it got, the Hebrew slaves would be the ones to clean it up and restore the fields.


Then I tell him that he, not this Hebrew god, has ultimate authority. He loves that. To let the Israelites go would make him subservient to their magician of a god.”


“Ooo Gracefeld! Did the Lord hear you say that?”


“I don’t know.” said Gracefeld. “He didn’t say anything to me.


Perambula, doesn’t it make you wonder why God has to cause so much pain and suffering to prove his greatness?”


“No, not really.” replied Gracefeld. “Someday soon, the Israelites will need to remember these days. Besides, I imagine that to leave a destroyed country is easier than to leave a tidy country with their cozy beds behind them.


They will need to know first and foremost that their God is almighty, that He has the power to destroy all that sustains them. Besides,” added Gracefeld, “their lives have been too comfortable. Now that they are such a large nation, it is time for God to completely extract them from their small world. Like a long lost Father, he wants to reintroduce himself and mold them. That will take much hard work on everyone’s part.”

“Especially ours!”exclaimed Perambula. 


“I believe you are correct. Enough chatting Perambula. We must prepare for the next calamity. Farewell.”


The angels departed, one flew to the pharaoh and the other back to God for further instructions. Perambula found God speaking to Moses again.


“Go to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials in order that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I have made fools of the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them-so you may know that I am the Lord.” 


As instructed, Moses and Aaron returned to Pharaoh, with Perambula following closely, and Aaron said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, so that they may worship Me. For if you refuse to let My people go, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your country. They shall cover the surface of the land, so that no one will be able to see the land. They shall devour the last remnant left you after the hail, and they shall devour every tree of yours that grows in the field. They shall fill your houses, and the houses of your all officials and of all the Egyptians - something that neither your parents nor your grandparents have seen, from the day they came on earth to this day.’” When Aaron stopped speaking Moses turned and walked out with Aaron at his heels. Perambula and Gracefeld’s angel eyes met briefly to exchange a wide-eyed look before Perambula hurriedly followed the brothers out of the palace.


Gracefeld stayed to hear Pharaoh’s officials say to him, “How long shall this fellow be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God; do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?”


Before they reached the palace gates messengers were summoned to retrieve the brothers. When Moses and Aaron returned, Pharaoh said to them, “Go, worship the Lord your God! But which ones are to go?”


Moses himself said loudly and slowly, “We will go with our young and our old; we will go with our sons and daughters and with our flocks and herds, because we have the Lord’s festival to celebrate.”


Gracefeld whispered to Pharaoh, “See! They mean to leave you forever, and then who will clean up this place? This city is in shambles,” Pharaoh paused to listen to his invisible angel, and then replied indignantly. “The Lord indeed will be with you if EVER I let your little ones go with you! Plainly you have some evil purpose in mind. No, never! Your men may go and worship the Lord, for that is what you are asking.” Pharaoh gave the sign to his guards to escort the brothers out of the palace. Within moments they were gone, leaving Pharaoh to brace himself for the next event.


As if returning home from a typical day at work, Moses and Aaron walked out of the palace and back to their favorite spot on the hill in silence.


The Lord had been waiting for their arrival. He said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt, so that the locusts may come upon it and eat every plant in the land, all that the hail has left.”


Moses obediently stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day and all that night; when morning came, the east wind had brought the locusts. The locusts came upon all the land of Egypt and settled on the whole country of Egypt, such a dense swarm of locusts as had never before, nor ever shall be again. They covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was black; and they ate all the plants of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left; nothing green was left, no tree, no plant in the field remained in all the land of Egypt. This time even Goshen was a swarm of devastating locusts. Man, woman and child, rushed into their homes and shut their doors tight. Window openings were covered to keep as many locusts out as possible. Screeches  and shouts reverberated throughout every building. The inside air grew thick and stuffy. It was hard to breath. The people’s hunger was gradually turning to starvation. Locust appeared everywhere as if they could pass through the walls. 


It was as bad at the palace as it was in the hut. Pharaoh hurriedly summoned Moses and Aaron who were both quick to heed the request of Pharaoh’s messenger. The men crushed locusts with every step of their giant feet, as the streets were coated in swarming bugs who loud humming wings were deafening to the ears.


No sooner had the brothers entered the throne room than Pharaoh said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. Do forgive my sin just this once and pray to the Lord your God that at least He remove this deadly thing from me.” Perambula looked over at Gracefeld with a look that said, “Is this IT?!” 


Moses and Aaron turned and walked out. There was nothing more to say. They went directly to their hill and prayed to the Lord who immediately changed the wind into a very strong west wind, which lifted the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea; not a single locust was left in all the country of Egypt.  No one before, and no one since has ever received such instant response to a prayer as when Moses asked God to remove the locusts. The devastation was more than anyone could bear. 


Gracefeld was given orders that it was still not enough. He would have to try harder to stiffen Pharaoh’s resolve in spite of the hunger and devastation. Gracefeld thought and thought of how he could turn this ship around again. “Oh Great Pharaoh,” said Gracefeld, “would you cave to the orders of a mere Hebrew, the false brother that so often stole the affection of your father? What will your son think of you, the great Pharaoh being tossed by the wind like a mere locust? No, this is a matter of dignity. The Hebrews must remain and restore your land that their god destroyed.” 


Success! Pharaoh soon announced his reversal. NO! He would NOT let the Israelites go, after all. Not even after the locusts.

ALIVE: Chapter 56, Oh Hail!

Miriam lay sleepless in the quiet darkness of the night. Thoughts that poured into her mind clashed with each other, taking turns for flashes of attention before dissolving. She felt the earth tremble under her.  She sensed the pain and suffering of her Egyptian neighbors while all was calm and peaceful in Goshen. They were still in Egypt, and yet they weren't. Her world was transformed daily while she remained fixed in her familiar home. She was confused and yet thrilled. Within a square mile existed both heaven and hell, peace and torment. "How bizarre," she thought, "for the most degraded of peoples to suddenly be the reason for calamity, like sweet revenge. Who is this God of ours?"

Miriam had no one with whom to share these thoughts. Sepphora, being a foreigner, was a relatively free woman since the strangling hand of Pharaoh did not reach as far as Midian, Sepphora would not understand the magnitude of what was happening and Aaron was wrapped-up in his new role as spokesman and super-magician. Her neighbors were too busy with chores and forced labor to discuss how they felt about the series of calamities.

While trying to fall asleep, she thought back to when she began to feel so unsettled. Was it when the calamities started, when the Nile turned bloody and the frogs and those horrible gnats appeared everywhere? She must have swallowed a cupful before they suddenly disappeared. No, oddly enough, she thinks she was most unsettled when the calamities happened to the Egyptians and not to the Jews. Who is this God?

All her adult life, Miriam wanted to escape her captors, the pharaohs with their demands, but she wondered what this God would demand of her? Were they being set free, only to be flung into the clutches of a vastly more powerful tyrant? All her life Miriam made idols and worshipped them and prayed to them. She was in control of these gods made with hands. She placed her hopes onto these figurines. Sometimes they would grant her wishes and sometimes they didn't. But they never did anything on their own that she knew of, and they certainly never controlled nature like this. How could she love and trust this mega-powerful God of Israel Who spoke to her brother Moses, and wreaked havoc? 

Before Moses came back into her life she only thought of God when she was being mistreated. For the most part, it was the menfolk who were the forced laborers. The women did the work they would have always done anywhere, raise the children, cook and clean. This was the kind of life no woman could escape, except prostitutes, and they had their own, worse and perverted forced labor.

Perambula who was wafting through the house read the thoughts of Miriam and felt saddened. These people, these slaves of Pharaoh are so precious to God while they knew so very little about Him. Slavery and living among their oppressors stifled not only their freedom to assemble, and to fill their days, but their awareness of God. The concept of gods made by human hands, was too much for Perambula to bear.

Trying to recall everything she knew about this God, everything her mother taught her, Miriam drifted into a deep refreshing slumber. She woke up before daybreak as usual, lit  the fire and was about to bake the bread-dough that had been rising all night.

Aaron entered. “Good morning sister. Ahh fresh bread this morning!”

“Miriam looked up and said with a hint of sarcasm, “What does our God have planned for us today?”

Aaron replied, “I don't know. He just tells Moses before it is about to happen.” And then tossed a fig from the bowl into his mouth.

Just then Moses enetered the room and said, “Come Aaron, let's go back.”

“I’m ready.” replied Aaron enthusiastically and gave his sister a peck on the cheek and rushed out to catch up with Moses.

In the middle of the night Moses had been awakened by the need to urinate. Back in bed, while trying to fall asleep again, the Lord spoke. He said, “Rise up early and present yourself before 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 this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and upon your officials, and upon your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth.

By now I could have stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. But this is why I have let you live: to show my power, and to make My name resound through all the earth. You are still exalting yourself against My people and will not let them go. Tomorrow at this time I will cause the heaviest hail to fall that has ever fallen in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. Send, therefore and have your livestock and everything that you have in the open field brought to a secure place; every human or animal that stays in the open field and is not brought under shelter will die when the hail comes down upon them.”

As they walked Moses was anxious to deliver this message. He tried hard to repeat everything God said to Aaron in his garbled way while they walked to the palace. Aaron was made for this role. He remembered every word that Moses relayed to him, and never questioned or argued with the message.

Moses and Aaron arrived at the palace, walked in, delivered their message to Pharaoh and his officials who had just arrived for the day's duties. At this latest message Pharaoh appeared dumbfounded. The timbre of Aaron’s voice was so clear and had such authority for a pitiful peasant, that Pharaoh had no response. His magicians had been reprimanded so severely that they hadn’t shown their faces in over a week. Moses and Aaron promptly departed. The officials followed close behind them.

Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried their slaves and livestock off to a secure place. Those who did not regard the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the open field. On the way back home, Moses and Aaron returned to their favorite spot in the hilltop in Goshen to listen for further  instructions. Before long, the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven so that hail may fall on the whole land of Egypt."

Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire came down on the earth. And the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt; there was haiI with fire flashing continually in the midst of it, such heavy hail as had never fallen in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. The hail struck down everything that was in the open field throughout all the land of Egypt, both human and animal; the hail also struck down all the plants of the field, and shattered every tree in the field.

Only in the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were, there was no hail. From their perch on the hill, Moses and Aaron could see the clouds ejaculating onto the neighborhoods in the distance.

On their way home a band of locals approached Aaron and asked what was going on. He reported the news about the hail. Some of the men were astonished while one or two others chuckled.

While the family was eating supper they were suddenly startled by a loud forceful knock on the door. Eliezer got up to answer it. It was no surprise to anyone to find a messenger from the palace who had come to summon Moses and Aaron.  The messenger, not much older than Eliezer, was drenched and bedraggled. Eliezer asked him to join in the meal and the Egyptian boy gladly accepted.

After supper everyone stood up to leave for the palace. Miriam said, “Don’t you think you should find something to shield yourselves from the hail?”

“Good idea!” said Aaron.

“Indeed!” added the messenger boy.

Miriam looked around the house and decided to let them take her platters to deflect the watery bullets.

“We must be going now,” said the messenger. “Pharaoh will be furious that I have delayed.

The brothers agreed and followed the young messenger out of their dry cozy home.

As they made the familiar trek to the palace it was interesting to note how gradually the driving hail progressed from light rain to thousands of tiny bullets as they approached the palace. They used Miriam’s platters to shield their faces, especially their eyes from the driving hail so they could see where they were going.

As they passed a field the brothers saw that the flax and the barley were ruined, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in the bud. But the wheat and spelt were not ruined, for they were late in coming up. It was a tragic sight. Their walked turned into a jog. The streets were empty. Even the animals were sheltered, some in barns and others in homes.

When they arrived at the palace drenched and dripping they were given towels to dry themselves and then the brothers proceeded to the throne room.

Pharaoh had been waiting for them on his throne. Without a greeting, Pharaoh looked down at the marble floor and said meekly, as if he was about to choke on his words, “This time I have sinned; the Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Pray to the Lord. Enough of God’s thunder and hail! I will let you go; you need stay no longer.”

Moses replied “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will stretch out my hands to the Lord; the thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s. But as for you and your officials, I know that you do not yet fear the Lord God.”

“Be gone!” shouted Pharaoh forcefully. He had been humiliated enough and didn’t need these peasants to tell him whether he feared God or not.

Aaron and Moses left the palace with the platters deflecting the hail that would have stabbed their faces mercilessly. It would have been impossible to look up to the heavens under those conditions.

When they arrived at the first spot where there was no more hail, Moses stretched out his hands to the Lord; then the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain no longer poured down on the earth. Moses listened to hear the cheers of the people he saw in the distance venturing out of their homes.

Back at the palace, when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and thunder had ceased, he sinned once more and hardened his heart, he and his officials. He no longer saw a reason to lose his labor force, and once again changed his mind. So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses.

ALIVE: Chapter 55, The Great Divide

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!”

ALIVE: Chapter 54 The First Degree of Freedom

It uses a false measure for a free man to estimate the impact of seeing those swarms of flies buzzing around the Egyptian’s heads, and not theirs. It was like seeing a vast army of aliens from outer space coming to your rescue after 400 years of oppression. A free person might laugh at the sight of hundreds of sets of flailing arms creating a Jackson Pollock dance, but the slaves felt a mysterious multilayered satisfaction, as if justice was born, a flickering sunrise after the longest night. It was a sign from heaven that the earth was about to open up and swallow their suffocating world, consciousness and all. All they could do was to sit in a semi-paralyzed state and wait to see what would happen next.

The two angels flying overhead reading into slave hearts and minds had pity on these crippled people imagining life with clipped wings. They wondered if they could safely make the short leap from slavery to humility.

The slave is forced to submit to the will of the master, whereas the humble one voluntarily complies with the will of God without the fear or malice of a slave, but instead with the trust and faith of a child. The similarities between a slave and an child of God are striking and profound, and so are the differences. So much more profound than the difference between a steely willful free man and a yielding humble man. The willful man and the humble man can hardly know each other, being more like a tiger and an artist staring at the other with deep curiosity. No.

The metamorphosis from slavery to piety can be silky smooth, albeit with lumps and grit. Each is made with a similar pliable fabric, a similar soft texture. Is this why the heavenly Father endured watching so many generations of misery between Joseph and Moses? Were those centuries of gestation and cruel pharaohs the crucibles of God to mold Abraham’s children into His own? The flies not bothering them, was the first centimeter of dilation before their birth into a brand new state of existence. It was the very first sign that these lowly people were special and beloved. The labor pains were still to come.

The serpent staff, the bloody Nile, the frogs and gnats introduced the Hebrew people to their God with magic. This mysterious ancient God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob of lore became real by showing His power over nature in a shocking way. Egyptian and Hebrew alike witnessed the biggest magic show that there ever was and ever will be until the Second Coming of Christ. For the first time since Creation, the laws of nature, were defied by their Maker in order to show humankind, especially the oppressor-class, the source of real power.

Magicians were allowed to duplicate the marvels. Yes, magic exists in this world of scientific laws, but only up to a point and no further. They couldn't make gnats because they weren't allowed to, and from that point forward the magicians were bereft of their false power.

Thousands of years ago, in Egypt, through a series of shocking events God descended from His throne room to become obvious. It was a unique display of real power. It was real, intentional, purposeful, and effective. This chapter of human history, the story of this one people among the millions of ethnicities was as a flash of lightening that illuminates the heavens for a brief moment. If only we can grasp the sight that was exposed, and remember it through the generations and tell our children and our grandchildren what we saw; we would humble scientist and philosophers. It was loud and bright; it was frightening; it was alarming; it was revealing. It only happened once, and only needed to because God, the Maker of heaven and earth, only needed once to transform this one mass of slaves into a free humble people that He could call His own. He only needed one group that some day He would incarnate into for the grain of thirty-three brief years, for one purpose: to free humankind from the iron shackles of death, in this world and the one under it.

And yet, even God with His armies of angels could not do this alone. He needed one human liaison, one child of man, Moses, whom He raised from birth.

Moses is a giant of a man, because he was a humble man. He humbled himself to God by listening and doing what was asked of him. Moses allowed God to steer him. God needed Moses to link His power from heaven to earth through his greatest creation, humanity. Moses was most alive by virtue of his extraordinary ability, or was it fortune, to communicate with God, to be His tool.

On the day when Pharaoh first rescinded his permission for the Hebrews to leave to worship their God, the people cried. This event too was part of their introduction to the Lord and King. This terrible disappointment was their first opportunity to become humble, trusting people of God. God knew He had to pry them away gently, so He did this with a succession of five offers by Pharaoh to allow them to worship in the wilderness.

God knew that no one was yet ready to be free. He had to tease them out of Pharaoh’s clutches for their sakes and so Pharaoh could get used to the idea. This also explains why Moses only asked for three days when he meant forever.

ALIVE: Chapter 53 The First Big Difference

Guards ordered the grief stricken Hebrews to collect the dead frogs and burn them. The stench was unbearable adding disgust to their disappointment.

While the poor bedraggled Hebrews were collecting dead frogs, and nausea erupted like a geyser through Hebrew bodies big and small, male and female, the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, so that it may become gnats throughout the whole land of Egypt.’”

Perambula looked at Gracefeld and exclaimed, “What! So soon? Shouldn't we wait until the frogs are all gone?” Gracefeld just shrugged angel shoulders and looked down at the chaos of the bloody Nile and the millions of dead frogs, and the people both Egyptian and Hebrew filled with fear and confusion and wondered how Pharaoh could be so stubborn and heartless. The angel saw that it was obvious to most humans that a god, the God, was responsible for all of this. Perambula responded to Gracefeld’s thought, “No Egyptian, not even temple guards, or the queen, dared to discuss the successive catastrophes with Pharaoh. In his palace, Pharaoh is insulated from the outrage of the people. He wants to believe that it's all magic. Besides, you know the Lord is keeping Pharaoh’s heart hard for a reason, don't you?”

No sooner had Moses given him the instructions, than Aaron was ready to pile onto the calamity. Neither brother was as concerned about the chaos as were Perambula and the people. In fact, like mischievous young boys, the brothers reveled in their new destructive power. To keep from smelling the burning frogs, Aaron took a deep breath and then stretched out his hand with his staff and struck the dust of the earth, and the gnats poured out onto on humans and animals alike like grains of flying sand; all the dust of the earth turned into gnats throughout the whole land of Egypt. A deep exhale was followed by a hearty grin. Aaron looked over at Moses who was chuckling. This was getting fun!

When Pharaoh saw the gnats he shouted for his magicians who came running to his throne room. “Do it!” He barked. The magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, and for the first time since the marvels began, the magicians could not replicate the event. There were gnats on both human and animals. The chaos among the people both Egyptian and Hebrew could be heard throughout the heavens. People swatted at gnats everywhere with no relief.

The Egyptians were angrier than ever at the Hebrews for causing such calamity and the Hebrews were furious with Moses and Aaron for piling one disaster on another and making them more despised by their neighbors than ever. No one could breathe or eat without gagging and spitting and ingesting gnats. This wasn't freedom; this was torture!

The magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God!” as their excuse for their failure to make even more gnats, as if that was possible. But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord said.

That very night, as Moses lay sleepless in his bed under the net, with Sepphora by his side a flash of light whisked pass him. Then the familiar voice of God, the Lord, spoke to him. God said, “Rise early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh as he goes out to the water, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. For if you will not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you, on your officials, and your people, and into your houses and the houses of the Egyptians shall be filled with swarms of flies; so also the land where they live.’

Hearing that, Moses begged, “Please Lord, spare our people. I am afraid that they feel as persecuted as their oppressors are, and I am concerned that they will be in no mood to worship You, after all this, even when they are set free.” Moses cowered as he spoke thus to the Lord, not knowing how He would react to the suggestion. There was silence.
Perambula looked on curiously, also wondering what God would say.

After many tense moments God replied, “Tell Pharaoh that I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people live, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, so that you and he may know that I, the Lord am in this land. Thus I will make a distinction between my people and Pharaoh’s people. This sign shall appear tomorrow. My people need should know that all of this chaos is happening for them, not against them.” And to his angel he said, “Gracefeld, make sure that no flies come near the Hebrews.”

Gracefeld summoned an army of angels that created invisible walls around the Jewish quarter before God released a great swarms of flies that came into the house of Pharaoh and into his officials’ houses; in all of Egypt the land was ruined because of flies.

For the second time Pharaoh relented when he summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.” But Moses said it would not be right to do so; for 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, will they not stone us? We must go three days journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as he commanded us.”

So Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness, provided you do not go very far. Pray for me.”

Then Moses replied, “as soon as I leave you, I will pray to the Lord that the swarms of flies may depart tomorrow from Pharaoh, from his officials, and from his people, only do not Pharaoh again deal falsely by not letting the people go and sacrifice to the Lord.”

So Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord. And the Lord did as Moses asked: he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his officials and from his people, not one remained. But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and would not let the people go.

Yet, this time the Hebrews were less disappointed; many of them expected it. Besides, this was the first time that they were not affected by the event and they were rejoicing. Those people who resided on the border of Goshen looked over at their tormented neighbors, some with relief, some with pity, some with hubris. They all were curious about their God. The sun was rising in Goshen while darkness descended on Egypt and its hard-hearted Pharaoh.

Gracefeld looked over at Perambula who still seemed troubled by the chaos and said, “Suffering is a prelude to joy; it seems to be the way of this world.”

ALIVE: Chapter 52 Frogs

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.

ALIVE: Chapter 51 Bloody River

Watching Aaron’s serpent swallow the magician’s serpents strengthened Moses’ resolve. His own eyes beheld how anemic magic was compared to God’s power. The chatter of complaints that had been nagging him receded.

This second visit to Pharaoh was almost amusing. No longer was Moses concerned about the whining Hebrews. No longer did he want to complain to God. He slid and then comfortably nestled into the function of, what the far future would invent, a radio. Moses tuned into God’s words as via a a radio wave. They were thoughts that were obviously being generated by Another mind, and then he relayed the messages for others to hear.

As unusual as it sounds to common man, God clearly communicated to Moses, and to Moses alone, like thunder, invisible and clear. God spoke words in the language that Moses understood. It never even occurred to Moses the phenomenon of it all, of how the invisible God could become audible only to him and to no one else. Their communication was wholly unique in its complexity and in its duration. Never before and never again would a flawed human being, enjoy this kind of communication with the Creator-God, the Lord of all.

It had been several weeks since Moses had first heard God speak to him from the burning bush. That event closed forever another chapter of Moses’ life. He thought back on those years before as a dream. He had been for a while a common man.

Walking away with Aaron from the scene of the hungry serpent, Moses had no idea of what could be in store for them. Nor did he try to imagine. Moses simply and calmly waited for instruction. Aaron was still pondering the bizarre walking stick that tapped the ground loudly with his every step, filled with serpents.

As he was walking back to Miriam’s home, deeply immersed in thoughts, the Lord spoke to Moses again. He said, “Pharaoh’s heart is hardened; he refuses to let the people go. Go back to Pharaoh in the morning, as he is going out to the water; stand at the riverbank to meet him, and take into your hand the staff. Say to him, “The Lord, the God of the Hebrews sent me to say, ‘Let My people go, so that they may worship Me in the wilderness.’ But until now you have not listened says the Lord. By this you shall know that I am [speaking for] the Lord. See with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall turn to blood. The fish in the river shall die, the river itself shall stink, and the Egyptians shall be unable to drink water from the Nile.”

Moses was surprised by the magnitude of this statement. There was a huge difference between watching a stick slither and turning the water of the great Nile to blood. This would be the act of no return. For the first time Moses would cause harm. No, it wasn't he, but God causing the harm through him.

Moses knew that God spoke and not his own thoughts. How could a man turn water into blood? Moses shuddered at the concept of a river of blood, and the notion of all those thirsty people with nothing to drink, and about the sea creatures that would die. How could they live without water? For the first time Moses was forced to accept and carry out a command that repulsed and frightened him.

God gave Moses time to process the request, to walk himself through this chain of thoughts.

Perambula hovered by Moses in silence. Curious and quiet.

(Reader: let’s stop here and take a moment to compare the first marvel of turning the water of the Nile to blood, to Christ's first miracle of turning water into wine at Cana. Moses made water undrinkable, useless, while Jesus made water pleasurable, and most useful to satisfy a need. God shut the door, and then Jesus opened it wide.

To tie the two first miracles together, in a full circle God later raised the glass of wine, and called it His blood. For a moment walk that back to the Nile. Water to blood, water to wine, wine to blood. Overlay these first miracles on each other. The first miracles, one lead to freedom, the other lead to eternal life, freedom from sin and death.

I don't believe Jesus, the man, made that connection in Cana, but that perfect God, the Father, did when He chose this transformation of water as His first marvel in Egypt. In both instances water initiated freedom.

Go ahead, drink this bloody Nile, see how it tastes as sweet as wine, for you will soon be released from the torment of slavery and sin and death. Now let's return to Moses.)

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt-over its river, its canals, and its ponds, and all its pools of water-so that they may become blood; and there shall be blood throughout the whole land of Egypt, even in the vessels of wood and the vessels of stone.”

Moses was to bloody the Nile, then Aaron was to complete the deed when he bloodied all the other bodies of water.

The next morning Moses and Aaron awoke and confidently walked to the bank of the Nile. They spotted Pharaoh right away beginning to bathe and walked right up to him. They did just as the Lord commanded. Without a bit of doubt that it would work, in the sight of Pharaoh and of his officials Moses lifted up his staff and struck the water in the river, and all the water in the river was turned to blood, and the fish in the river died instantly. The river stank so the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood flowed throughout the whole land of Egypt. The substance of life instantly became the substance of death.

Pharaoh turned and nonchalantly went into his house, and he did not take even this to heart. His officials confused but silent followed close behind. Gracefeld smiled very satisfied by angelic success. Gracefeld had indeed been concerned that such widespread harm would distress all the people and come back to Pharaoh who could become violent. But Pharaoh, with Gracefeld’s influence, didn't care a whit about whether his people had water or not.

Moses and Aaron in awe of what just happened, turned and walked back to Miriam’s house. The Hebrews who were busy at brick-making were not immediately aware that blood instead of water flowed throughout the Nile, but laundering Hebrew and Egyptian womenfolk were in shock and started cackling to each other. “What happened? How did the Nile become so red? Now what are we gong to do? Fear overcame them as they ran back to their homes, some with arms full of dirty clothes, others with blood soaked wet clothes.

Once back in his dark cool palace Pharaoh called for his magicians. When they arrived Pharaoh said, “Did you see what Moses and Aaron did to our water? Can you do that?”

The head magician replied as the others nodded, “Oh I am sure we can.” They all walked over to Pharaoh's well, and pulled up some clear water, all the magicians together focused their minds and recited an incantation. The bucket of water turned red, to their relief who wanted to satisfy Pharaoh and remain in his employ.

Pharaoh’s was relieved. His heart stiffened in its resolve to hold on to the Hebrews, no matter what.

The Egyptians discovered that they could dig along the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink the water of the river.

God looked on at the bloody river from the future as He always does and saw the bloodshed of thousands of Egyptians soldiers who perished in the Red Sea at the end of this period of loosening the Hebrews from the grip of Egypt, of Pharaoh and of their own attachment to their homes and their lives as slaves.

ALIVE: Chapter 50, Let the Magic Begin

Perambula shrugged angel shoulders with wings fluttering in sympathy, and then looked at God in agreement with Gracefeld saying, "What exactly was it that you saw in Moses? From the first announcement he did not want this mission of Yours my Lord. He is often ready to quit or run away. What good can this kind of attitude do? Can't You start all over and find someone else my Lord? What is your hurry?"

God answered Perambula with the same opalescent patience that He later radiated toward Moses, "My dear Perambula, always measuring by inches, you expect too much. You would try to drive a nail with a ten pound hammer into a snowflake just for the satisfaction of the force. Fret not, where Moses is weak in resolve, I will breach the gap. I created Moses for this time." Then firmly added, "Do you dare doubt My design?!"

Perambula's wings fluttered slow and solemnly at the chiding from the Lord, while Gracefeld looked on saturated with an odor of satisfaction at the false notion that God never suffered frustration from the weakness of Moses. After all, God knew that He would rather work with a weak man who was receptive and pliable, than an rock-hard willful man.


With similar patience that God expressed to Perambula, He spoke loudly and clearly into the heart of Moses who was sitting on the outskirts of the city where he had gone to contemplate his situation, or rather where Perambula had guided him. God spoke to Moses in the familiar tone and language that Moses had come to recognize, the same intonations, the same characteristic authority. Moses and God had been developing a rapport, a quality of extended communication that God had never engaged in with another human being. The Lord made Moses to hear Him speak. Moses was the radio that picked up God’s wavelength.

Even if Moses didn't entirely trust God, as Abraham had in the moment he sacrificed Isaac, or as Noah when he built the ark, Moses was made in his mother's womb to be the tool God used to reveal Himself to humankind. This was something that the angels could never understand. For them God is as obvious as the sun and moon..

"Moses, now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. Indeed by a mighty hand he will let them go; by a mighty hand Pharaoh will drive them out of his land.

I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name, 'The Lord' I did not make Myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they resided as aliens. I have also heard the groaning of the Israelites whom the Egyptians are holding as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant.

Say therefore to the Israelites, 'I am the Lord, and I will free you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my people, and I will be your God. You shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has freed you from the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord."

Perambula looked over at Gracefeld and whispered, "There He goes again. He has been promising this land for more centuries than their slavery, and still they don't have it. How long can the Lord keep promising and not deliver?"

Gracefeld replied , ""Sh! He will hear you! What's it to you? Sounds to me that He means it."

"Sounds to me that He is leading them to something other than land. The land is a decoy, or more like a mirage."

God ignored the idle chatter of His angels as He continued to bolster Moses's confidence.

Moses soaked his heart in the message which indeed renewed his resolve. Besides, he thought, what else could he do, but to continue? To quit and return to Midian as if nothing happened was not an option.

Moses rose from his trance and walked alone back to Miriam's house where he was surprised to learn that his own sons had been conscripted into slavery. "Sepphora! How did this happen?"

"After you left this morning, two supervisors came for Gersham and Eliezer! They said that now that Moses has returned as a Hebrew, there is no more pretense of His being the son of Pharaoh's daughter, then He and his family were to be slaves as well. What will we do Moses?! Now we can't leave. I want my father!"

"Sepphora my dear, don't fret. Remember, we have come to free the slaves. The Lord God will free us all from the burden of bondage. It is fitting that we live as Hebrews, that we too may fully understand their plight."

"But our sons, Moses. They have never known such bitterness!"

"Sepphora, this experience will make them stronger. You will see my dear."

When Gershom and Eliezer returned from their toils, wearing marks from their oppressors, their father hugged each young man and then looked directly in his eyes and said, "My son, I am proud of you. Be at peace. God has told me He will deliver us. Have faith in God. For this we have come to this harsh land."

After supper, Aaron and Moses walked to the village square. When the neighbors saw the brothers they grumbled. Moses heard one man say, "There go the idiots who said they would deliver us from slavery, only to make our lives worse than ever before. I could punch them, but I haven't the energy." The men around them all nodded. One man spit in their direction.

Moses approached the group and explained what he had heard from God. He tried to encourage them as he had been encouraged, but they would not listen to Moses because of their broken spirit and their cruel slavery. Moses and Aaron turned and walked back home with their heads hung low.

Aaron looking at the ground said, "What if you are wrong, and you are not hearing from God, but it is your own former self, the son of Pharaoh, who wants to play the big man, the deliverer? I have never heard this Voice, how can I continue to believe you? Moses, you may soon find yourself making bricks without straw."

Moses walked solemnly and quietly. He just wanted to sleep, for a long time, forever.

In his sleep The Lord spoke again to Moses. He said, "When you wake up, go back to Pharaoh and tell him to let the Israelites go out of his land."

"Lord! Are you fooling me?!" the dreaming Moses replied, "The Israelites won't even listen to me. How in the world will Pharaoh listen to me, poor speaker that I am?"

The Lord replied, "See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. Expect Me to harden Pharaoh's heart, so then I can multiply my signs and wonders.

When Pharaoh does not listen to you, I will lay my hand upon Egypt and bring My people the Israelites, company by company, like a mighty army, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out from among them."

Moses gradually woke up. He could remember once again everything that God spoke to him. As he thought deeply about God's strategy, he realized how brilliant it was. Moses gradually came to understand how God planned to work on two fronts. There were the Israelites who wanted freedom but needed the signs and wonders to understand that their freedom was given by God, and not of their own powers of persuasion, or even Moses' influence, and there was Pharaoh who also needed to know that his power was limited.

At that moment Moses didn't know fully what God meant by signs and wonders. The staff that turned into a serpent was not something that he could control. For him, it was always a wooden stick. In fact it frightened Moses whenever it became a serpent.

As the fog of sleep dissipated into his current reality Moses's thoughts turned to prayer. "Lord, forgive me for my weakness, and my complaints. Use me Lord. I am your clay." Perambula watching and listening to this spirit-scene smiled with relief and pride.

Moses rolled to the edge of the hard bed and fixed his feet firmly on the ground. As he stood up, Moses became ready to shift from his dreams and thoughts and prayer into the world of action.

"Aaron, let's go back to Pharaoh today." he called.

Aaron who was sitting at the table eating breakfast said, "Come, have some food first, then we will go. I am ready." After all, visiting Pharaoh was better than a day of forced labor, even if it was useless.

Perambula followed closely behind the elderly brothers as they made their way back through the streets to the palace.

The guards, recognizing the brothers this time sent a messenger inside to ask Pharaoh if he wanted to see Moses again.

With nothing better to do Pharaoh agreed to receive the pathetic duo.

"Show me your signs from your Lord.” barked Pharaoh condescendingly, and then yawned. “Perform a wonder for me.”

Moses looked at Aaron and said, “Aaron take your staff and throw it down.” Aaron looked up at Moses, nervously wondering if it would work for him too.

Aaron placed the staff on the ground carefully. It lay stiff and still for several tense moments until a movement and then another occurred, the staff gradually transformed into a long serpent that slithered towards Pharaoh and his officials who recoiled. Aaron sighed from relief and then felt proud.

Pharaoh braced himself and shouted, "Summon my sorcerers and wise men." While the serpent slithered around Pharaoh’s feet, five men walked confidently into the throne room each armed with his staff. “Do you see that serpent?” said Pharaoh, “It was the staff of Aaron. I command you to turn your own staffs into serpents!”

To Moses and Aaron's surprise, the Egyptian magicians each one threw down his staff and each staff that fell to the ground became a slithering snake. As the audience of Moses. Aaron, Pharaoh, his officials and his sorcerers and wise men watched the snakes slithering around at their feet, Aaron shouted with glee, “Look, my serpent is swallowing the other serpents!"

"Enough entertainment for one day.” shouted Pharaoh. “Be gone! All of you!" Pharaoh was pleased with his sorcerers who replicated the wonder, and did not give a second thought to the fate of his magician's serpents. Aaron bent down and touched the tail of the serpent and it immediately stiffened into a staff again. He pick up his staff carefully and looked up at Moses in awe.

Even more pleased were Perambula and Gracefeld who had orchestrated the entire event. As Aaron and Moses departed from Pharaoh's sight, they were perplexed that Pharaoh's sorcerers were able to turn their staff into serpents too, and that that the long hard stick that marked their every step had just dined on a bevy of serpents.

Perambula hovered behind the solemn brothers laughing at their confusion.

Back at the palace Pharaoh commended his equally perplexed sorcerers for their good work while Gracefeld proudly accepted Pharaoh's misplaced praise.

Before either angel could relish too much in the misery of the humans, God called them to His throne room.

"How did it go today? Should we start packing?" asked Miriam as the brothers entered.

"I doubt that we convinced Pharaoh of anything except that we were magicians." replied Aaron and to Moses he said. "What do we do now?"

Moses replied, "Be patient. God told me that Pharaoh's heart would be hardened. This is only the beginning. I have no idea what other marvels the Lord will perform, but I suspect that those sorcerers will be kept busy." Moses knew that the way God would harden Pharaoh's heart was by making him think that Moses and Aaron were simply common magicians.

ALIVE: Chapter 49, To Kill for Straw

God called Perambula and Gracefeld for a meeting. Gracefeld arrived first because it took Perambula a while to leave the touching scene of the family reunion in Miriam's home.

"Be prepared to see for yourselves your advantage over humankind. Your timelessness and your spiritual sight shield you from much grief that humans suffer because of their short sightedness." God said to His angels. "I want you to stay near them. Gracefeld, you are assigned to Pharaoh. Don't ever leave him. Keep him determined, no matter what he suffers, to hold on to the Hebrews. It won't be very hard for Pharaoh to cling to free labor and to power over the slaves, but the plagues that I will send will be serious and dreadful. The plagues will be designed to tear the Hebrews away from this Egyptian prison, by showing them My Will and My Power." God looked into their angel eyes and saw the kind of support and determination that were the reasons that He chose these two out of all the host of heaven.

"Lord, what is my assignment?" chirped Perambula enthusiastically.

"You will remain with Moses and Aaron, don't let them buckle. I will help you by speaking to Moses when it is necessary. Don't allow them to argue with each other.

You will be sent throngs of angels to assist you with the people, but your job to lead and to manage them will be most demanding."

"Yes, my Lord." replied Perambula dutifully while wondering if Gracefeld had the better role. After all, Gracefeld had only one person to manage.

"Stop that!" bellowed the Lord after reading Perambula's thoughts. "Now let's all get to work! This will be the most significant scene in My story, perhaps since Creation. Unlike in Creation, what happens here, the relatively peaceful exodus of the captives will be taught, remembered and celebrated by every generation until the end of time for the lessons that I will convey to humanity, but to My people first, now be off!"

God and His angels appreciate the nights when people must sleep for the time it gives for planning. The concept of time can be as useful as it is blinding. Sunrise marked their dispersal to their assignments.


Aaron woke up first. The truth is that his anticipation of going to the palace with Moses terrified him and kept him from sleeping soundly all night long. Never had a slave simply walked into the palace. What if he was arrested? Yet, he marveled at the Lord's wisdom that Moses would not be a lone leader of this extraordinary mission. One man alone would be taken less seriously, would be easily dismissed. In his musings Aaron wondered exactly when God had initiated this plan. Was it even before he was born? Was this the reason for Moses' speech impediment? How patient must God be to allow decades to pass for His will to be done? Why?

Before Aaron could carry his thoughts to any conclusion Miriam entered the room. "Aaron, breakfast will be ready soon. Sepphora is preparing it. Time to get dressed."

"Thank you Miriam. I am coming."


Aaron and Moses walked in a strong determined fashion without speaking to each other or to any of the curious onlookers they passed through the winding neighborhoods to the palace.

The palace guards watched them approach becoming more alert as they drew near. Several of them banded together to create a barrage in front of the outer gate.

When they were within range, Aaron shouted. "We come in peace. I bring Moses, brother of Pharaoh returned from Midian. He wishes to speak to Pharaoh."

To the strong young guards the name of Moses was a legend. Mothers and fathers told their children the tale about the traitor who killed an Egyptian guard. The shame the story evoked warned them never to sympathize with the slaves. If even the grandson of Pharaoh would have to run from Pharaoh's wrath, what would become of lesser sympathizers?

"Tell Pharaoh that Moses has returned and wants to see him." explained Aaron with as much sound of authority as this 83 year old slave could muster, even when speaking to men less than half his age.

Pharaoh was young when Moses ran away, so he was curious to see him again after all these years. 'Moses has returned has he? Has he come to usurp my throne?' thought Pharaoh. "Let him in, but guard him closely and make sure he carries no weapons. Let's see what he wants." ordered Pharaoh.

The guards went back to the entrance to retrieve the motley visitors. Moses and Aaron were escorted to the throne room, surrounded by four burley armed guards.

As he walked through the palace memories flooded Moses' mind. The familiar aromas of perfume and cooking brought back many memories of his childhood. He didn't need an escort to find his grandfather's throne. Little had changed within the massive halls of the grandest and largest building in the world.

"Master Moses! It's so good to see you again!" A handshake greeted Moses as an elderly version of his young playmate approached him enthusiastically. After several moments of chatter, Moses' recognition of this person gradually came into focus.

"What brings you home after all these years Master?"

"Ahh Rafa, you know this is not my home. I have come to ask the new pharaoh to release the Jews for three days that they may go into the wilderness and worship their God together, as free men."

"Oh Master, who can be free for three days? Do the Jews even know who is this god of theirs?"

"I cannot answer that Rafa. I do what I am told. How have you been? Has this pharaoh treated you well?"

"I cannot, I dare not complain master." replied Rafa before stepping back so the entourage could continue their journey to the throne room.

"Let's go," barked the lead guard while nudging Aaron's arm.

Moses and Aaron flanked by guards stepped quickly through the massive palace and into the throne room.

Moses was alarmed to see the pharaoh as such a strong and virile man. The pharaoh who was Moses's grandfather and this man's elderly father, had grown into a decrepit old man since the days he ordered the midwives to kill all male babies. Before him stood a rock wall of a man.

Pharaoh was sizing up Moses as well. There were no pleasant greetings as one would expect from a long separated brother. Nothing in his expression or in his eyes revealed even a wisp of the common memory of their family life in the palace.

"Why have you come?" bellowed Pharaoh, in the same tone that Perambula often heard from God.

Although Pharaoh was looking straight at Moses, Aaron replied, surprising Pharaoh who turned to look at Aaron. "The Lord, the God of Israel, sent us to say to you, 'Let my people go, so that they may celebrate a festival to Me in the wilderness."

"Who is the Lord, that I should heed him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go!"

Aaron conferred with Moses and then repeated, "The God of the Hebrews has revealed Himself to us; let us go a three days journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to the Lord our God, or He will fall upon us with pestilence or sword." Moses watched Pharaoh's face closely for reaction. Perambula thought it wise to start by asking for only three days, when all along the intention was complete freedom.

"How dare you ask to remove the people from their work? Aaron, get to your labors!" Pharaoh continued. "Moses, you know that the Hebrews are more numerous than we are and yet you want them to stop working? Don't be absurd! Now get out!"

At the nod of Pharaoh the guards closed in on Moses and Aaron and grabbed each man's arm to escort him out. Neither man turned to look back at Pharaoh, but rather jerked his arm out of the clutches of the young guards and with slightly regained dignity walked out.

Gracefeld whispered in Pharaoh's mind, 'You must be firm with these men. Moses looked too comfortable before you. You need the sons of Israel more than they need you, and they are greater than you. Consider this Pharaoh: You must be stronger than the wind and sharper than the night's freeze to prevail over a force so much greater than you, God or no God.'

When the footsteps of Aaron and Moses could no longer be heard Pharaoh shouted, "Rafa! Call the taskmasters and the supervisors of the Hebrew people to come to me at once!"

"Yes," whispered mischievous Gracefeld to the pharaoh's heart, "we will show them who is king!" While waiting for the taskmasters, Pharaoh went back to his inner chamber to change his clothes and wash his hands.

"The taskmasters and supervisors have arrived sire." announced Rafa.

Back on his throne Pharaoh spoke to his taskmasters, all brutes that they were and said, "You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks as before; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But you shall require of them the same quantity of bricks as they have made previously; do not diminish it, for they are lazy; that is why they cry, 'Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.' Let heavier work be laid on them; then they will labor at it and pay no attention to deceptive words. Now go and do as you are commanded!"

The taskmasters and the supervisors of the people went out, each to his neighborhood and proclaimed, "Thus says Pharaoh, 'You will no longer be given straw, but must get straw for yourselves, wherever you can find it; but you must produce the same number of bricks each day."

The people scattered throughout the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw, attempting to comply with this impossible demand. Day after day the brick makers had to venture farther and farther out to gather the straw for their bricks. When the sun went down, it was impossible to continue their work. As each day went by, fewer and fewer bricks were being made. Meanwhile, the Egyptian straw gatherers had nothing to do, and irritated their wives and children all day long.

When the Egyptian taskmasters saw that indeed the Hebrews were not producing the required number of bricks, they beat the Hebrew supervisors. The bruised and frustrated supervisors who had been accustomed to respect gathered in force and presented themselves to Pharaoh who received them.

In a pitiful tone the leader of the supervisors cried and said, "Why do you treat your servants like this? No straw is given to your servants, yet they say to us, 'Make bricks!' Look how your servants are beaten! You are unjust to your own people."

Pharaoh answered this whining man by saying, "You are lazy, lazy; that is why you sent Moses and Aaron to request that you go and sacrifice to your god. Get back to work, get your own straw and deliver the same number of bricks."

The discouraged supervisors turn and walked away from Pharaoh with their heads and shoulders low and their bruises throbbing.

Moses and Aaron waited for them outside the perimeter of the palace. When they saw the band of bruised supervisors appear they could see immediately how disheartened they were.

Perambula whispered to Moses', "Surely you expected this!"

Moses brushed that inner message off as a fly that landed on his shoulder.

The band of supervisors in a cacophony of chatter each in his own voice and his own words but united with one message growled in viscous anger at Moses and Aaron saying, "The Lord look upon you and judge! You have brought us into bad odor with Pharaoh and his officials, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us!"

Moses and Aaron were frightened by the hostility of these men with murder in their hearts. Fortunately, they had to get back to work.

When they were at a safe distance, Moses looked up into the heavens and said, "O Lord, why have you mistreated these people? Why did you ever send me? Since I first came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has mistreated this people, and you have done nothing at all to deliver your people."

Gracefeld rolled angel eyes thinking how easily the will of Moses was dissipated by the slightest breeze and looked fiercely over at Perambula whose job it was to keep Moses and Aaron on track.

ALIVE: Chapter 48, Israel's Wet Toe

While Aaron was out Miriam was filled with joy that her long lost brother and his family were actually in her humble home. Miriam saw her father in Gersam's eyes, and her mother in Eliazer's high cheek bones; she felt as if her beloved parents were in the room with them. Sepphora was a lovely woman, and even though she spoke a different language, they chattered away together in broken words with hands fluttering. Miriam was shocked when Sepphora told her about the emergency circumcision. She decided to ponder later what that event said about her God. Moses sat quietly gazing at the cozy domestic scene and then asked for a place to take a nap. Miriam ushered him into their parent's old room where he soon fell into a deep and restful slumber.

Aaron burst through the door quite agitated.

Miriam looked up, "What did they say Aaron? Who did you go see? When will the meeting be, and where?"

Still jittery, Aaron replied, "I began with Judah. The elder of Judah is the oldest and carries more weight than the others. Of course he was astonished, but also skeptical. He agreed that we should all meet. He was most anxious to see Moses, and said that he didn't believe that this man was our Moses."

Sepphora did not understand a word of the exchange, but sat curiously looking on.

"He will see and know." said Miriam. "And what of the others? You have been gone a long time."

"Judah and I decided there wasn't a moment to waste. They will gather here tomorrow at sunset. Where is Moses? I must go and prepare him."

"Wait, Moses sleeps. Who else did you see?"

"Judah and I divided the tribes. He went to tell the elders of Reuben, Dan and Simeon, and Issachar. And I visited the elders of Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad and Asher. I will let him sleep."

But Perambula did not. The busy guardian angel went into the sleeping room, and into the dream of Moses where he was fending off viscous wolves."Moses, wake up; it is day, you are in Egypt, in the city, in the home of your birth. Aaron is back. There is much to do."

Aaron quietly entered the room to find his brother's eyes open. "Are you awake brother?"

"Yyyyes I am. Whwhwhwhwh...en do we meet with the elders?"

"Tomorrow night. They will come here. I don't think you should go out yet, lest the guards see you. It was fortunate enough to have gotten you and your family in here without being noticed.

The boys were anxious to go into the city for they had never seen such a place before. But for the same reason, strangers would be apprehended immediately, they needed to stay inside. Gersam and Eliezer were not accustomed to the restricted life of a slave. The boys felt imprisoned in this strange home surrounded by foreign people. Gersam longed for the open desert. Eliezer wanted to return to the sea.

The following evening, by ones and twos the elders arrived at Miriam's home to see and hear Moses. Miriam managed to find and borrow enough chairs which the boys helped her fit into the main room. Moses and Aaron would have to stand as would Miriam and Sepphora. The boys sat on the floor in front. Perambula hovered.

Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses, and performed the signs in the sight of the people. Once again the staff of Moses became a serpent and then he seized it by the tail and it became a hard staff in his hand again. Moses' tucked his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, his hand was leprous, as white as snow. He held it high for everyone to see. Then Perambula told him in his mind when to put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out again, it was restored like the rest of his body. The elders and Miriam gasped in unison.

Aaron proclaimed to the elders, "God has observed the misery of us, His people; and heard our cries on account of our taskmasters. He knows our sufferings. He has come down to deliver us from the Egyptians, and to bring us up out of this land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

We will tell Pharaoh that if he will not let us go, our God will stretch out His hand and strike Egypt with all His wonders that he will perform in it; after that he will let us go. The Lord God will bring us into such favor with the Egyptians that when we go, we will not go empty-handed; each woman shall ask her neighbor and any woman living in the neighbor's house for jewelry of silver and gold, and clothing, and we shall put them on our sons and daughters; and so shall we plunder the Egyptians."

There was murmuring and sighs, and gasps from the elders. "Who is this God?!" shouted the elder of Reuben. "What is his name?"

Aaron looked at Moses inquisitively.

Moses stammered, "I am. I am who I am has sent me to you. I am is the Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is His name forever and this is His title for all generations."

Perambula reminded Moses to warn the elders that they must be strong and faithful and patient while their God strikes Eqypt. They will all suffer the signs and wonders, until the last day, when Pharaoh will release them. They must be stoic in the face of the devastation of the land, knowing that the horrors they will see are meant for their good, for their release from the chains that have linked them to the diabolical power of Pharaoh's greed.

The elders believed; and when they heard that the Lord had given heed to the Israelites and that he had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.

Sepphora, Miriam, Gersam and Eliezer looked on this scene with wonderment and curiosity. What was happening in that room was new, they had no frame of reference for it. It was the work of God, to introduce Himself to this generation of the children of Abraham who had finally matured in size into a nation, powerless without Him.

The seed that was God's word to Moses from the burning bush had taken hold, and was presented as a young tree with small tight buds, unfamiliar buds, strange swollen nodules that would someday feed the world. Each of the women, and each of the boys perceived the scene differently. For Moses' family who had known neither the travail of the Hebrew people, nor of the royal life of Moses, this was a vacation, an adventure. For Miriam, it was the echo of her nightly howling at the moon.

Men fell to their knees. Sensitive men, who sensed the power of the moment became teary-eyed, their faces touched the floor where feet delivered the dirt of fields and street, bearded faces hid themselves from the unknown, overwhelming, much longed for, but never imagined possibility of a free world.

The more coarse elders wondered which idol heard their cry. Then there were among them men of doubt who allowed themselves to be carried by the emotions of the faithful.

On this auspicious night Israel took its first step out of Egypt.

ALIVE: Chapter 47, The Invisible Egyptian Door

The reunited brothers each sensed in his spirit the magnitude of what was to happen, of their mission to yank from the clutches of the height of human power the lowly slaves, people of a unique, albeit latent, covenant with God. A tornado being stopped in its vicious tracks by a candle light could not have shocked demonic powers more. For it was not only the power of Pharaoh that was to be dissolved, but the tails of it in the hubris of every guard, and of the more arrogant wives and children who embodied the spirit of domination that was to be utterly extinguished by the power of the Creator of heaven and earth and of everything visible and invisible.

Moses and Aaron and the family set up camp at the foot of Mt. Horeb where Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord with which he had sent him to that place, and all the signs with which he had charged him. Aaron learned why he had felt compelled to find Moses and he was amazed by how God directed him in his subconscious. This revelation for Aaron not only impressed him, it also prevented Aaron from thinking that his brother Moses was a madman with an impossible quest. The hard and real fact that he was sitting at the foot of this mountain with his long lost brother was proof enough to Aaron that Moses was an instrument of God, and so was he.

"I ah ah h h h heard God spppppeak to mmmme fffff ffff fff from a bbbbur burnnnnn ing bush!"

It didn't take Aaron long to discover why he was needed.

"Wwweee mmmust ffffirst gagagather the elders and inform them and the people of our Exodus."

"Can you make your staff turn into a serpent whenever you want?" inquired Aaron.

"No. God is in control of everything. He will tell me and I will tell you, and you will tell the people. I have no power on my own. I am nothing but a shepherd, the immigrant husband of the daughter of Jethro, the priest of Midian, and so I have been for these forty years. My sons know nothing of my royal life in Egypt."

"Moses, is it enough that you and I believe? God will have to convince the elders."

"Aaron, what we are about to witness is no less than the indisputable power of God over nature. The seed of hope that we will plant in these men will grow into a mighty bridge to span the canyon between the deep despair they have been accustomed to feeling and faith. At least, I hope so."

"Slavery, my brother, has made our people stiff-necked. We are a proud and noble clan that has not worn well the costume of fools these many generations."

"Yes, brother. I have considered that we have not only to convince Pharaoh, but our mission includes the need to change the mindset of people who have, even in their complaining, acclimated well to the wretched balance of power they have known all their lives." replied Moses. "Let's not dwell on obstacles, but on our mission. We will head out tomorrow. We can continue our conversation on the road. Now, let's sleep."

Tucked between the layers of blankets in his bedroll to shield him from the cold desert nights, Aaron's thoughts turned to Miriam and how surprised she would be to see him back so soon. He was glad to be returning to her and their cozy home. How happy she would be to see Moses again. Since she saved his life as an infant she had no contact with him. Then it occurred to Aaron that God had chosen Moses from birth for this purpose, and that Miriam too had been used as an instrument of a very patient God who had waited these eighty years for the right moment to act. A deep and sound sleep slowly consumed Aaron's consciousness before he could ponder any more of God's Wisdom.

At daybreak in a syncopated rhythm that amused Perambula, the eyes of Eliezer, Sepphora, Moses, Aaron, and last of all, Gersam opened, then in a different order shut and opened, until each was vertical and packing bedrolls and noshing on crusts of bread.

By the third hour the family with their new Uncle Aaron and the one well-rested re-burdened ass were headed northwest to Egypt together.

Moses and Aaron lead their little auspicious parade to fetch God's people out of their enslavement. Repeating much of what he had told Aaron already to let the miracle gel in their minds, Moses again conveyed to Aaron all that the Lord has said and done to him. This time, Aaron was less flabbergasted and could begin to think about the scope of their mission. He would first gather the elders to prepare them, so they could in turn prepare the people. Aaron mentally made a list of who to tell, and considered where they would meet. The Egyptians frowned upon assemblies, so they would have to be discreet. To keep Moses from talking and disturbing his planning, Aaron started to think aloud. Moses surely needed Aaron for more than public speaking, as Moses would have no idea of how to prepare the people. And Aaron had no idea of how to reach Pharaoh's ears.

The following days of walking, and resting, talking, and thinking gradually brought them to the river. There was less for Gracefeld and Perambula to do on the return journey as Aaron had just made the trip and remembered every landmark; although forty years had passed, the time-lapse seemed to Moses to be as nothing. Moses felt that he was walking back into his true self, the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He did not fear Pharaoh as others would, even this new Pharaoh.

Looking around the busy dock Aaron soon recognized the fisherman who had recently brought him across the sea and gave him the fish for his journey. This fisherman, in character, offered to transport the family the back to the other side. He laughed when Aaron told him why he was returning so soon, sure that Aaron was joking with him.

The sea air felt so good on their swarthy skin. The boys relished in the experience, having never been on a boat before. Sepphora covered her head closely so her hair wouldn't become knotted. Their hearts felt as free and light as the breeze that swept over them.

On the other side of the sea an unfamiliar sense of awe came over Moses who had been unusually quiet for most of the boat ride. As he disembarked he looked around at the bustling port with fisherman and buyers exchanging with each other and vying with other members of their own species. Moses looked in the distance towards the home of his youth, where he saw not the hard physical landscape, but rather visions of illusive memories as a collage of his life. He experienced a visceral entrance into a new chapter, but more than that. For Moses, it was as if he was about to walk into a new body and a new life. Behind him were Sepphora and his sons, and Jethro his kind and wise father and the herd of sheep. Ahead he had to prepare for spiritual warfare, where through him the power of God would confound nature and natural man. Moses sensed that his mission was impossible unless he changed, unless he yielded himself to something much greater than himself. He would have to be simultaneously strong and powerful, and all surrendered to the Voice of the burning bush.

"Come brother," said Aaron, "follow me. We should arrive by tomorrow. I will take you home to Miriam, while I assemble the elders to tell them the good news. What do you want me to say to them? How will we convince them?"

Meanwhile God, Perambula and Gracefeld had their own conference. "Perambula, I want you to prepare the Hebrew people for what is about to occur. For it will be no less cataclysmic for them than the flood was for those in the days of Noah. A very new and different world, a new and different sense of life and purpose will overcome these tribes. The plagues will prepare them for this transformation of their existence, but even before that, I want you to go to these people and wake them up from their enslaved mental stupor."

The angel not quite sure how to respond to this demand agreed that it was necessary. Perambula would need legions of angels to explore every household to familiarize themselves with these creatures and determine the transformation in their souls that needed to occur.

"Yes, my Lord. I will need an army of angels to assist. Will you send them, or should I go to retrieve them?" replied Perambula.

"You will find them waiting for you, now be off. There is much to be done." With that Perambula disappeared leaving God with Gracefeld hovering nearby awaiting his own assignment.

"And I, my Lord, what is it that you should have Me do?"

"Gracefeld, your mission will be to harden the heart of Pharaoh. Whereas the Hebrews must become more aware, more perceptive of the depth my Creation, Pharaoh must be blinded to anything but his own power and comfort. He must become as a world unto himself."

"From what I have seen of this despot, he is already such a fool."

"Gracefeld, Pharaoh will have to maintain that strong ego through many severe tastings. Your job is to make sure he doesn't waver. Let there be no doubt in his mind that he can survive the plagues to come. Your job is harder than you think. Use whatever means you need to, now be off. I have my own work to do."

"Yes, Sir!" said Gracefeld humbly before shooting off to the castle while wondering what God planned to do for himself.

Moses and his family and the donkey and Aaron arrived in the city on the biweekly day of rest.

Aaron asked Moses and the family to wait nearby while he went inside the home to prepare Mariam for the shock of her life.

Aaron found Miriam kneading bread when he casually entered as if he had just returned from work.

Miriam looked up to see who entered. As soon as she grasped that it was her beloved brother she ran over to him with her glutenous sticky hands and hugged him too long.

"Oh Aaron, you have returned! You changed your mind and have come back to your home and your bed! Sit, and tell me what happened."

"My dear Miriam, we must both sit, for I have an even greater surprise for you; Moses and his wife and two sons are outside this very door. The Lord God, whom Moses heard speak to him, is preparing to free us from Egypt. The time is coming and now is when the sons and daughters of Abraham will enjoy freedom in a land of our own as the covenant decreed!"

Miriam wasn't sure whether to believe her brother or ask him to lie down to return to his dream and wake up again. Instead, she was speechless. Aaron seized the silence to retrieve Moses who was waiting outside the door.

"Come, Moses, see your sister who has longed for this moment her entire life without being conscious it was not indeed a fantasy."

Moses smiled as he had to lower his head to enter the home he last saw on the day he was weaned.

Although the elderly siblings would not have recognized each other walking down a busy street, their hearts instantly locked in each other's long embrace.

ALIVE: Chapter 46 The Reunion

Aaron woke up at dawn that spring morning feeling energized and optimistic. It was the slave's day off. Pharaoh thought himself generous for giving the Hebrews one day free every fortnight to rest, when actually their restfulness benefited him tenfold. The Hebrews had not yet been told that God demanded Sabbath rest and this ignorance made their toil less tragic than it really was.

Thoughts of his younger brother, Moses, swirled through Aaron's mind that morning washed clean of its black night. He hadn't thought about Moses in years, but lately he could think of nothing else. He had been reminiscing about how Pharaoh's soldiers had searched for Moses for days, but never found him. They eventually gave up. After all, who really cared if he killed a Hebrew?

Aaron had been proud of his younger brother. Surely, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had blessed him by delivering Moses from death and the bonds of slavery directly into Pharaoh's closest orbit. Aaron often pondered what it must have been like to live in the palace with all those clean beautiful women, and all that sumptuous food and music!

Forty years had gone by since Moses escaped. How strange to be thinking of him now. "If Moses can escape, so can I." said Aaron to himself while becoming infused with a spirt of courage. "I could go today! Perhaps I will find Moses in Midian. Do I remember an Egyptian mention that Moses was alive in Midian, or did I dream that? I will go to Midian to find out for myself. Even if I don't find Moses, it is still better than this life in chains!"

Emboldened by his resolve to escape, Aaron began to fill a sack with food.

Miriam, his sister, walked into the room still numb from her deep sleep. "What are you doing Aaron?" she said.

"I am leaving; I am going away from Egypt to look for Moses."

"Aaron, are you mad?! You can't just walk away. If you could, we all would do that. Besides, you are 83 years old! How far could you go on your own? Come to your senses Aaron. Start the stove for me while I make you breakfast. I made bread dough last night. It will be ready soon enough. Come, let's talk."

"Miriam, no!"

She knew it would be senseless to force him to stay, that escape was a yearning Aaron had been nurturing for years.

"And what will I tell them tomorrow when they come looking for you?" she said.

"Tell them that I went into the desert to die. I am an old man and no longer so useful. Miriam, tell them anything you want. I can't stay here another day. I must find Moses."

While pleading his case, Aaron noticed how lovely Miriam looked for such a mature woman. Wisps of gray hair produced an aura around her leathered olive face with its high cheek bones and large wise green eyes. Aaron and Miriam had always been close. Even as a young girl, she was more like a motherly confidant than a big sister. He knew he would miss her terribly.

"Let me make you bread to take, and then you can go."

Aaron emerged from the house their family had inhabited for an hundred years as if for the first time. The familiar city took on a glow as if he was walking into the past, into a memory. Brimming with resolve and with fear he wanted to capture the scenes of the city that he would never see again.

Aaron carefully slithered through the most populated Hebrew neighborhoods and arrived at the very fringe of the city. He managed to make himself invisible as he passed guard after guard.

"Give me some credit for this!" exclaimed Perambula who indeed was fully responsible for Aaron's escape by blinding the guards which the angel carefully placed within the trajectory of the low morning sunbeam, and bringing to their minds gossip to spread while facing each other. Thus renegade Aaron managed to drift farther and farther from their clutches until he was well within the protective isolation of the wilderness.

Days later, the last ounce of nostalgia spent, Aaron faced his new challenge of how to cross the Gulf of Acaba. Once on the other side, he knew he would be completely free of Pharaoh's tight grip on him. When he arrived at the shore, he found a busy port with fishing boats unloading their catch. He chose one, and asked if he could be taken to the other side. Once on the boat, Aaron marveled at how easy it had been to escape. He had never seen such a large body of water before and was astounded by the vastness of the sea, and the smell and feel of the silky salty air on his rough face. Having arrived, Aaron thanked his generous host who gave him some fish to take on his journey to Midian.

Once on the other side, the challenge was how to find Moses in this vast territory. Aaron prayed to the God of Abraham to help him, ignorant that God cared more than he did that they meet. Every thought of Moses and of fleeing were planted in his mind by God himself. Had he known, Aaron would not have been so frightened, or so cautious.

"Gracefeld, go help Perambula." said God. "Lead this man to Horeb (Sinai)."

"Yes, my Lord." replied Gracefeld.

Perambula picked up the signal that Gracefeld was on the way and was glad for the assistance. Aaron had been meandering from tree to tree sinking into the deepest part of the wilderness. It was difficult to be both protector and pathfinder.

"Where have you been Gracefeld? This man obviously hasn't a clue of where to go. I can either guide him or ward off the animals, but I can't do both!"

"I have been with Moses. Poor sore boys. I kept the predators away to give them peace in their healing. They are resting safely."

"God wants them to meet at Mount Horeb." added Perambula.

"Of course." replied Gracefeld, "The Mountain of God, where else? Aaron can travel faster without the family, but his journey is so much longer. I know Moses will want to stop there to show his sons the burning bush. Does Aaron know anything of Mt. Horeb? What will make him stop there?" Perambula flashed Gracefeld an expression of disbelief, that the angel could ask such an absurd question.

"Okay, so who will guide the family if we are on Aaron-duty? said Perambula.

"Firstoff," replied Perambula, "this week of rest gives Aaron time to reach Horeb. He is the one who needs our guidance most now. Moses will see Horeb in the distance, and is familiar enough with the place. They will be fine. Come Gracefeld, let's see if we can rush this man along. Did he bring water?"

While the angels were discussing their mission, Moses and his family were still reeling.

"Father, it has been three days and I still hurt so bad!" whined Gersam. Sepphora told Moses that they must stay put while Gersam was recuperating, and she was recuperating too. Sepphora, the daughter of a priest of Midian had never met God before. But after He nearly killed her husband, she had a newfound fear of this God, and a newfound concern over the what they would find in Egypt. She did not dare share her worries with Moses, only wondered if they should circumcise Eliezer too, or rather, when?

"I know my son. Forgive me." confessed Moses, "Had we done this when you were eight days old, you would not be suffering now, and I would not have angered God. When I left my people and Egypt, I believed that I was leaving everything behind me, not just Pharaoh. I never lived as a Hebrew," and then Moses paused reflectively and added, "except by the covenant stamped on my own penis, which I never understood. Why would I care, why would anyone care that Abraham would be the father of nations? More unbelievable still, that his children would possess these lands. Those poor slaves could barely possess the mats they slept on. Forgive me my son, for my ignorance."

"Father, when will you circumcise Eliezer?" said Gersam with a pinch of bitter malice folded into the sweet buttercream of desire for his protection, and of their own. Eliezer tried to hide because he knew that it must be his turn to meet the flint. Moses and Sepphora had already decided that they should circumcise Eliezer right away.

Sepphora hollered, "Eliezer, come here, right now!"

Trembling, Eliezer succumbed to his mother, and screamed as his brother had. The circumstance being very different, the reaction was too. Eliezer bore his pain nobly, proud to be accepted into the tribe of the people of the covenant about whom he knew so little.

A week later Moses announced, "Tomorrow, we will set off again. Do you see that mountain over there? That is Horeb, the mountain where God spoke to me from the flaming bush. We will go there to show you my bush. Perhaps God will return and speak to me again. For now, let's pack up."

That evening, as Moses laid down to sleep, thoughts of Aaron flooded his mind. How would he find Aaron? Would he even recognize him? Where could he go to to look for Aaron in this vast wilderness? As a mental exercise to help him fall asleep Moses tried to remember every time he had ever seen Aaron. Moses knew his family of birth, his parents and brother and sister, but he rarely saw them, certainly not in the last forty years in exile. How would he recognize him?

The next morning the donkey was fully burdened again, and took it well as any decent donkey would. It was Gersam's turn to hold the donkey's rope. Fully recovered from his operation, Gersom grabbed the rope and lead the ass on the well-trodden path to Egypt. He held his head as high as the donkey's head was lowered to bear the weight, trusting his man-child.

Moses walked alone ahead of the others, thinking and listening for God. He had walked this path many times while shepherding the flock to find green pastures, sometimes being gone from home many days, but it never took so long to reach Horeb as it had with his family in tow.

Eliezer who was still sore, walked side by side with his mother in silence.The sons and Sepphora saw that they were walking towards a mountain, and wondered if Moses meant to take them over it or around it, but they didn't ask. Moses walked too far ahead for conversation clutching his staff and contemplating the whole concept of speaking with God.

Perambula and Gracefeld used every means in their angelic powers to speed Aaron along so the brothers would arrive at the mountain at roughly the same time. As they grew nearer, the moment became imminent.

Aaron was intrigued by one particular mountain before him and used that as his goal for days focusing on it as over time it grew from the size of his thumb to the size of a dog, and then a house, a pyramid, and finally there he was before its massive vertical rise.

As he looked around him, Aaron was the first to spot a cluster of fellow travelers. He hadn't seen another human for days. Sitting on a boulder at the foot of the great mountain, Aaron wondered if he should run over to them, or wait to see if they would come towards him. The scorching heat from the noonday sun forced him to stay and wait.

Perambula and Gracefeld were proud of their accomplishment. Bringing these two tiny flecks in this vast terrain together took angelic skill of the highest magnitude. God knew who He could trust to do the job and he was right. Perambula wondered if there would be a reward and what it could be. Gracefeld looked forward to the next challenge, which would be to guide the entire Hebrew population on its Exodus from Egypt.

For Aaron, the image of the travelers became more clear. He could see a large man followed by a boy and a donkey, and then a woman and a boy. 'It must be a family on a journey to Egypt' thought Aaron.

Moses saw the isolated man in the distance staring at him and his family. He instinctively knew the man was no threat to them by the way he sat still and open, curious.

Gracefeld flew up and whispered into Moses' heart, "That man is your brother Aaron. God has sent him to you. Go to greet him."Moses was astonished at this revelation. He stood still for several moments staring at this figure in the distance. The distance that would soon close until the two brothers became as one instrument of God.

Perambula echoed the introduction to Aaron who didn't stop for a moment to think, but instead rushed over to the Moses of all his hopes, his idol of a brother.

Because Moses was more aware of God's need for this meeting than Aaron, who all along thought that his escape was self initiated, no human being on earth or in heaven or above the heavens was more flabbergasted to see the subject of his trek running towards him. If he hadn't been breathing so hard, Aaron surely would have been shouting.

Instead, he heard the man Moses calling him as they got within earshot of each other. "Aaron! Aaron! My Aaron!" The two octogenarian brothers started to run as fast as any healthy old man could run, and as awkwardly .

When finally the elderly brothers met, Moses hugged and kissed Aaron, who by then was reduced to tears. His sentiment was infectious causing Moses to grow teary eyed too. The embrace lasted only for a moment because both men wanted to take a good long look at each other. They peered deep into each other's faces for evidence of familiarity. Aaron saw hints of his father and of Miriam in Moses. Moses noticed his son Eliazer's dimple in Aaron's chin.

While the brothers explored each other, the rest of the family caught up.

"Sepphora, this is my brother. And Aaron, these are my sons Gersam and Eliezer."

ALIVE: Chapter 45 The Dangerous Road to Pharaoh

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.