Four months ago, we was all slaves in Egypt, building bricks for a
living, seven days a week, from before dawn till after dark. Our slave lords were so
very cruel that they made us kill the baby boys that were born, leaving a
generation that was mostly women.
Three months ago, this shepherd guy shows up, speaking both
Egyptian & Hebrew, and announcing that there was a god who cared about, and who
said it’s time to leave Egypt.
Seriously? Who cares for slaves, anyway?
That pissed off the slave lords of course, and they made our
lives miserable for a while, but then things got kind of interesting. It was
like the gods were even more pissed off at the slave lords. Nature was out of
control: disaster after disaster beat on the whole slave lord nation.
Two months ago, the worst disaster: a whole lot of the slave
lords’ children died in a single night. We smeared our huts with blood and had
this weirdly symbolic meal, and they said that was why our kids didn’t die.
Seriously? I mean, how does that work?
But the slave lords backed off, and the Egyptian shepherd
guy – I guess his name is Moe – said it
was time to go, and then it got really interesting! The slave lords “loaned” us
slaves their gold dishes and jewelry and stuff, and we left. There was a really
big crowd of us. I never knew there were so many of us slaves there. And the
sheep! That was a lot of sheep!
And we headed out of town, with Moe up there at the front
like he was Charlton Heston or something, with his big brother walking next to
him. We had some carts, but mostly, we was carrying our stuff, dragging our
There was this dust storm that always seemed to be at the
front of the parade, but even freakier, every night, there was a firestorm
boiling up in the middle of the camp. It was really weird, but it did keep us
warm, seeing how we was camping in the wild, and we didn’t even have decent
Then one day, we went through this wet place where I thought
I’d seen an ocean the day before. Sure enough, there were still fish flopping
in the mud, starfish and seaweed alongside the path, but they was rushing us so
much, and I was carrying two kids and a sack with all their clothes and stuff,
so I didn’t get to pay much attention.
When we got past that wet place and hiked up the hill on the
other side, we stopped to rest, and I heard this huge crash of waves behind us.
I looked around, and by golly, there was the ocean, right where we’d just hiked
through. The funny thing was that there were dead men, dead horses, and what
looked like chunks of the slave lords’ chariots floating in the waves. Somebody
started singing, and it turned into a regular party.
Then it got real. Now we had an ocean full of dead bodies
between us and civilization, and we were stuck in the outback and it didn’t
seem like anybody knew what was going on. Some days, we hiked, some days we
didn’t, and I never did understand why. I was more concerned with the fact that
we had no tent, no food, not even a freaking water bottle for the kids! (We got
busy right away, making tents from sheepskins and camel hair any anything else
we could get our hands on, and making other camp stuff.)
The kids were crying, the sheep were dragging their tongues,
we were all hot and tired all day, or cold and tired all night, and it was
miserable. The bugs were thick, the food was scarce, and all that walking! A
few days after the ocean incident, we found an oasis with some standing water,
but it was polluted. I was so thirsty, we were all so thirsty, I got on my
knees to get a drink, but I couldn’t do it: it stank, and there was bugs and
crap in it.
So Moe throws a stick in the water and says, “OK, it’s all
good. You can drink it now.” It was still kinda funky, but it wasn’t so bad as
before, and the sheep really liked it. They just waded in and drank and drank.
We got our water out of the other end of the pond.
And still we hiked. Oh,
how we hiked! And there was always that cloud bank during the daytime,
and the fire storm at night. Pretty soon, folks was real eager to claim there
spot in the middle of the camp where it was warmest at night, but it wasn’t so
bad even at the edge of that huge campground where me and the boys camped and
talked every night.
And it was in the desert, so food and water was always an
issue. I don’t know which was weirder: the couple of times Moe got mad and
whacked one of the rock outcroppings, and out pops a waterfall, or the fact
that every morning, me and the boy’s would go out of the camp into the bush,
and gather up rice or quinoa or something off the twigs and bushes and have
that for breakfast. It was pretty good, kind of spicy sweet. We’d go gather it
up every morning, and save some for lunch and dinner. Except Saturdays. It was
never there on Saturdays, which was even weirder.
But the jostling for the best camp spaces got weird. Some
folks wanted to be by the firestorm where it was warm, and others wanted to be
at the edges, so they didn’t have to walk so far for breakfast. It seems that
weird stuff was all we ever ate any more, and who can blame ‘em: slaves don’t
know how to hunt, and we didn’t want to eat the sheep. They were pretty scrawny
and disgusting sheep nowadays anyway, but we drank the milk, or mostly the
little ones did.
And then we arrived here, camped around an active volcano. It’s
been weird here. First, Moe’s family showed up from wherever it was they had
been, then Moe formed some sort of committee of leaders while there. It looked
like we were going to be nomads for a while. Better make more tents.
|This is a scary god on a scary mountain.|
But then Moe decided he needed to go climb that volcano,
just as a storm was settling in over the mountain. We heard the thunder, but
after a while, it sounded more like a thundering voice, and the voice was
talking to Moe, and the voice was telling Moe what to say to the crowd, to us.
‘You have seen what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on
eagles’ wings and brought you to me. If you will listen obediently to what I
say and keep my covenant, out of all peoples you’ll be my special treasure. The
whole Earth is mine to choose from, but you’re special: a kingdom of priests, a
We all heard the voice, and then Moe came and said the same
thing to us, and we was all real excited! Us being a special treasure to a God
who beats down slave lords, feeds us in the wilderness and makes a bonfire for
us every night and breakfast for us every morning? What’s not to like about
that, and me and the boys, and I guess just about everybody, told Moe, “Yeah,
we’re all in on this!”
But we got thinking about it over night. This is also a God that killed the
slave lords’ animals and crops and eventually some of their kids. This is a God
that chases his “special treasure” into the desert and then leaves us there to
starve, to die of thirst. This is the God that I guess lives in an active
volcano, and damn, he’s scary. You know, the more me and the boys talked about
it, the less excited we are about hearing this God talk to us, hold us
accountable to some “covenant.” And stuff like us all being “priests,” or being
“holy,” now that’s not for us.
Then we had this great idea: Maybe we can get the best of
both worlds going on here? We’ll do the covenant thing, but we’ll make Moe go
talk to the scary God in the volcano. He can be the priest, and he can tell us
what the God wants us to do, and we’ll do what he says. More or less.
We can have a go-between! He’ll give us some token list of
rules. Keep the rules, when it works out, and we’re on easy street. The God
thrashes on any slave lords, and he keeps feeding us, and we don’t have to deal
with the scary stuff!
What could go wrong with that? Right?