Anyway, according to the Scriptures, the Pharaoh of Egypt, during the time of Israelite servitude (he’s never named in scripture, just called ‘Pharoah’), decided that there were too many of them, and they were beginning to pose a threat. Still, Egypt had always had a need for slave-labor, and he couldn’t afford to kill them all, so he hit upon a solution that he felt was a ‘win-win’: he ordered the slaughter of all newborn male infants. This was a ‘win’ for him, because he wouldn’t have to worry about a ton of rebellious teenagers showing up in a few years – and he considered it a ‘win’ for the Israelites, because some of them would go on living, albeit in miserable bondage. What’s not to like?
Accordingly, as the word of the impending slaughter leaked out, an Israelite woman named Jochebed, who’d just given birth, decided her brand new baby boy stood a better chance floating in a basket on the river with the crocodiles, than he did against Pharaoh’s Newborn Massacre Squad. She took a basket, sealed it up with pitch, put the baby in it, and, completely ignoring his threats of legal action, dropped him in the river to fend for himself – the correct phrasing for which, at the time, was “put him in the hands of the Lord!”
The Lord apparently took the hand-off without a hitch, sprinted downstream, and lateraled to the daughter of Pharaoh, who was out having a refreshing bath.
Like most women, she was all “Oooo, a baby!” and, despite the objections of her attendants, she filed for adoption, giving the child the name “Moses”, which some have interpreted as “Gift of the River”. (Incidentally, there are no records regarding Pharaoh’s feelings about a child of unknown parentage being raised as a prince of Egypt – but unless he’s the most inattentive parent ever, he had to have known that his daughter hadn’t given birth herself! In view of this, I wish to register my objections that the scriptures contain no account of what happened when the Pharaoh asked “where the hell did that come from????” )
Scripture pretty much skips everything after that, until young Moses comes across an Egyptian smiting an Israelite, takes exception, and does some smiting of his own. Sadly, he smote rather harder than he intended and the Egyptian croaked. With cunning born of need, Moses dragged the body away and hid it in sand. Not long after, he came on some Israelites fighting and demanded to know why. One of them sneered at him and asked “What are you going to do? Kill us like you did that Egyptian?”
At this point, Moses decided maybe it might be a really good time to tour the Sinai Desert.
He eventually ended up in a place called Midian, where a dude name Jethro managed the biggest sheep ranch in the region. At dinner, Jethro explained that he had loads of daughters, no sons, and – hey, Moses wouldn’t happen to be into sheep would he???
Moses quickly settled down when Jethro hastily explained that he hadn’t meant it that way, and soon thereafter married one of Jethro’s daughters, and settled in to learn the sheep-ranching trade.
At some point thereafter, while rounding up some strays, he noticed a bush, high up on the slopes of the nearby haunted mountain. Ordinarily, he wouldn’t have paid much attention: there were bushes all over the place. This one, though, he noticed, was on fire – again nothing all that out of the ordinary – but it wasn’t being reduced to ashes as had been his experience with other fiery bushes, so he decided a closer look was called for.
Upon nearing the bush, he heard a voice come out from it, ordering him to halt, and remove his shoes, for he was standing on Holy Ground. A somewhat protracted conversation ensued, the bush explaining that it was actually the God of the Israelites, and that it had heard the wailing of his people that were in Egypt, and that Moses was to head on back there and convince Pharaoh to let them go.
One would think that, having received the commands of God, Moses would have saluted smartly, replied “Yes, sir!” and gotten right to it. Moses, however had some … concerns.
According to scripture, Moses asked who he was, that he should approach Pharaoh?The bush crackled in irritation, while most likely the Lord counted to ten Billion, then he assured Moses that he would be with him, and it would all work out. Moses then pointed out that he wasn’t much at public speaking, so maybe God should find someone else. The bush fumed for a moment in silence, while presumably the Lord counted to ten trillion, then he told Moses that the job was his, he wasn’t getting out of it – but, yeah, ok, he could get his brother, Aaron to be his mouthpiece.
Moses, having gotten his way – at least partially – may have been getting a little cocky. He had yet another issue: if he was going to demand that Pharaoh release the Israelites in the name of their God, it was a good bet that Pharaoh would want to know just exactly what that name was.
The bush blazed ominously for several seconds, while presumably the Lord counted to ten quadrillion, then explained “I AM.”
Moses’ brow furrowed, “Excuse me?”
“I AM WHO I AM.”
Moses stared at the bush for a bit, “er, yes, well …”
“YOU SHALL SAY THAT I AM HAS SENT YOU.”
“Ah. Yes, well, that should do it, I expect.”
Scripture doesn’t say, but it seems likely, at this point, that the Lord may have thought “This is going to be a LONG exodus!”
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