|Exodus: Birth of a Nation
Author: wickedmetalviking1990 PM
An epic bigger than "The Ten Commandments", see the whole story of how one man founded a nation on nothing more than faith. Rated T for violence and language.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Spiritual - Moses/Moshe & Joshua - Chapters: 42 - Words: 134,725 - Reviews: 26 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 06-23-12 - Published: 07-23-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7209019
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
(AN: Welcome again, people, to another tale from the first book ever printed! Yes, once again I bring you another tale of epic proportions from the Bible! This chapter was written on a whim, since I wanted a little more than how I originally started it. Part of me wants to, in addition to telling this story, tell the tale of the rest of the Pentateuch [sometimes as flash-backs], as part of a sub-plot [or multiple sub-plots] for this story. If that is meet, please make it known)
(I realized that this is the second ff on this site to do with Moses, and one of few serious biblical ff's on here. Well, then those interested in a good epic adventure story better buckle your seat-belts...BC, he were come!)
A Simple Act of Kindness
A welcome sight if ever there was one!
When trudging through the desert non-stop, any sign of life meant water.
And water was life.
In Egypt, water was so abundant that the people almost took it for granted that Khnum would make the cataracts gush forth with life-giving water upon the fertile flood-plains. Indeed, in the years that followed, many would view Egypt as a prime source of extreme material wealth. This was the case because, situated along the great Nile river, the people had almost instant access to water, which would feed their animals, grow their crops and cleanse their bodies, leaving them with less time to worry about food and more time to worry about "finer" things.
In the desert, it was not so.
The earth was dry and salty, and little grew in the huge miles of barren land. Those who dared inhabit this rugged terrain were bedouins, noble sheiks who led their families hither and yon from watering holes to pastures, the same way their fathers and their fathers' fathers had done in times past. With them were their goods, their money, their means of survival, their currency.
In Egypt, large amounts of gold came from the mines in various mountains on the frontier of their oasis kingdom. In the desert, there was no gold, and if it were found, it was of no use to the bedouins. Practicality ruled in this harsh, unforgiving yet desolately beautiful land. Sheep could provide milk and cheese, as well as wool for clothing. They were as good as gold out here, and keeping them alive was the prime directive of every shepherd.
But not only did the sheep need to stay alive, they needed to be kept well and healthy. And that meant water and food.
So it was no surprise that the group of women looked suspiciously on the man sitting with his back to the well.
Their father's well.
For these women were shepherdesses, daughters of Jethro, sheik and high priest of Midian. They were in the midst of drawing water from the well for lord Jethro's flocks when they caught sight of the stranger. The oldest, a dark-skinned woman, was almost thirty-five years old. She was the one who stood between the others and this strange man, with a staff in her hand.
"Wake up," she said to the stranger, prodding at his foot with her staff.
Slowly the man roused from his sleep.
Once he opened his eyes, he began speaking to them.
None of them recognized the words he spoke, except for the oldest.
Except for Zipporah.
"You're from Egypt?" she asked, speaking in the man's tongue. Being the eldest daughter of the sheik of Midian meant that she learned a few things that were usually passed down to the son.
"Y-Yes." the stranger answered. His voice was slow, and he seemed to be stumbling over his words even as he spoke them.
"You're on my father's land," she returned, gripping her staff a little bit tighter. "Leave at once."
"A-As...As you wish." the stranger stammered, looking at the ground as he rose to his feet.
"Zipporah, we have trouble!" one of the other women said. She was looking, not at the strange Egyptian, but at something behind them.
The sound of braying goats...
"It's the Amalektie herdsmen," one of the other shepherdesses stated.
"Damn!" another commented. "Why won't they leave us alone?"
"It's a desert, sister." the eldest said. "They need water as much as we do."
"There's plenty of other places to gather water," the one who swore returned. "This is our father's well!"
"We have to get rid of them, before they scatter the flock!" a fourth commented.
"Wait, sisters!" level-headed Zipporah said, raising her hand to prevent any foolish incident. "We'll tell them to leave. After all, this is our father's well and we were here first. We don't want to antagonize them."
"They're the ones who pick off the weak from the back of caravans!" the eldest but one stated. "They have no honor!"
"Come, let us be off." Zipporah said to her sisters.
One by one, they made their way toward the on-coming Amalekite herdsmen.
The herdsmen saw a small group of women walking towards them, staves in hand. They seemed to be cutting their access to the well. Only seven of them against six herdsmen: it didn't seem like much of a contest.
"By the gods!" exclaimed one of the herdsmen with a smile on his face. "Is this a mirage? Fair maidens wait for us at the well after we've done our work."
"And what are you doing here, Shatar?" Zipporah asked.
The herdsman who spoke seemed a little put off by her remark.
"I regress," he returned. "An old maid waits for us at the well with a staff in her hand."
"Pig!" shouted Zipporah's youngest sister from behind her.
"Why?" the herdsman mocked. "Is it my fault no one will have her to their bed? I thought your God was in control of all things, eh?"
The staff in Zipporah's hand was now leveled into a fighting position.
"Speak all you want against me," she said. "But don't you dare say another word about..."
"Your God?" the herdsman returned. "Some help He is: gives Jethro seven b*tches rather than sons, doesn't seem like much of a blessing."
The youngest girl spit in the direction of the Amalekite herdsman. Fortunately, it did not strike him and he just laughed it off.
"Is that all you can do?" he asked. "Defend your father's well with spit and harsh words?"
"We got here first." Zipporah said through clenched teeth.
"And we're taking over."
"By one?" the herdsman laughed. "Besides, you're seven girls. We're six men, worth at least two of you."
"Leave!" Zipporah returned. "I won't ask you again."
"Thought you'd say that."
Before anyone could make a move, the herdsman back-handed Zipporah across the face and then struck her with his staff, sending her to the ground.
"You bastards!" the youngest girl almost screamed.
"Now see here, there's no need to cry out," the herdsman said with false sympathy, which faded as soon as he smirked knavishly. "Not yet, at least."
The girl lunged at him with her staff, but he stepped aside and tripped her feet with his own staff, sending her to the ground. One of the other Amalekite shepherds reached down for her.
"Not yet," their leader said, turning to his comrade and pointing his staff at the girl. "I've already called her as my own. There's plenty enough for all of us, don't worry."
A few grumbled agreements came from the other shepherds.
The leader then turned to the other girls.
The butt-end of a staff connected with his mouth, drawing blood on the hot sand.
Two others took up their staves and rushed at the new-comer. As sand-blown and wind-swept as he looked, he was apparently a master-at-arms, even with a staff. He pushed the first one aside with his staff and then struck the other one in the groin with his staff. One of the larger shepherds attacked, but the stranger struck him on the temple with his staff, sending him to the ground.
The two who remained standing looked as though they'd seen a djinn.
Their leader was rising up to his feet, rubbing his sore jaw.
"Go!" the stranger ordered, holding his staff before them in a threatening manner. "Leave these women in p-p-p-peace!"
The lead herdsman laughed.
"Is that the best Jethro's got?" he mocked. "A stuttering old fool to protect his sorry well?"
The stranger's staff-butt suddenly shot up and hit the herdsman in the mouth again.
A few bloody teeth were coughed out of his mouth.
One by one the shepherds rose to their feet and left as instructed, limping or clutching their wounded sides in hurt and shame. Hurt at being injured.
Shame at being driven off by an old man with a staff.
To his benefit, the stranger was hardly old. Middle-aged, for certain, but he was hardly old. Beneath his robe were strong muscles, forged by years of swordsmanship practice and training of other such.
Not only was he not old, he was anything but feeble.
He turned to the dark-skinned woman lying in the sand. He reached down and offered her his hand, lifting her to her feet.
"Are you alright?" he asked slowly.
She nodded, but the other girls were almost giggling among each other.
Their oldest sister was smiling, and looked rather flustered.
"Yes." she said at last, trying not to sound like a blushing maid of thirteen.
The stranger did not notice how she was behaving and turned instead to the other girl, lifting her up to her feet.
"Thank you, kind stranger." the youngest said. "I know you can't understand what I'm saying, but don't be ashamed by their comments about your stuttering. I'd like to see Prince Shatar speak after you broke his teeth like that!" She laughed a little.
But before she could say "stop", Zipporah translated everything she said to the stranger in Egyptian. He hung his head in embarassment. Zipporah said something to him in Egyptian, and he returned with another short, halting statement.
"What did he say?" the youngest asked.
"He says you're very kind," Zipporah answered. "He's also asked if he can water the sheep for us."
"But we can do it ourselves!" the youngest girl commented.
"Please, Basinah!" Zipporah said to her youngest sister. "Don't defer an act of kindness. Remember what father says about entertaining strangers."
"But he's no angel." Basinah commented.
"He's handsome enough to be one." one of the others stated.
"How would you know? You've never seen an angel!"
The others continued chatting until Zipporah called their attention.
"I'm going back to the camp," she said. "Take care of the sheep while I'm away." She then turned to young Basinah, pointing to the Egyptian. "Get him some water too. He looks like he's been in the desert too long."
The camp. Several tents arranged together in a loose group, with servants milling about, tending after their own things and such. The largest tent, of course, belonged to the master of the clan, the sheik.
Zipporah pushed the curtain-flap aside and entered the tent. Though one would expect a tent to be hot, especially in the desert, it sheltered one from the sun and that was worth even a little bit of something.
Seated down upon a rug was a very old and venerable looking sage with a white beard and deep, poignant eyes. He noticed the arrival of his eldest daughter, who placed her staff down and knelt down before him.
"You're back early from your duties, my child." he stated, turning towards his daughter.
"We were attacked by Amalekites." Zipporah answered.
"Damn," he said beneath his breath, then he spoke aloud to his eldest daughters. "The girls, they're not hurt, are they?"
"No, my father." Zipporah answered. "An Egyptian saved us from the Amalekite shepherds."
"And where is he?" Jethro asked.
"He asked to draw water for our flocks." she answered.
"Why is it that you've left him there?" Jethro returned. "Where is your hospitality, daughter? In God's holy name, have I taught you nothing?"
"You know how far it is from Egypt, my dear." he stated. "The stranger must be famished, bring him here to our tents that he may eat."
Zipporah smiled and bowed, then picked up her staff and departed from her father's presence.
Several minutes passed and Zipporah returned, with the stranger at her side.
He bowed before the venerable sheik.
"Salaam, friend." Jethro said. "Please, be seated."
The stranger nodded and sat before the old man.
"I have heard rumors," Jethro began. "Of a stranger from Egypt chasing caravans from well to well, living off bread-crumbs, as it were. Is this you, my friend?"
The stranger nodded.
"Since, it seems, you have no place to live," Jethro said. "You are welcome to me and to my tent, to eat of our food and be with us as a guest."
"If-If I may," the stranger stammered. "W-Why would you show me s-such k-k-kindness? I'm a n-nobody."
"You shall be no man no more," the old man said. "First, tell me your name."
The stranger swallowed.
"I am Moses, son of Amram and Jocheved." was the answer.
"I am Jethro, sheik and high priest of Midian." the old man said.
Shortly, one of the house-hold servants appeared with food, which the two ate after Jethro said a prayer.
"In answer to your question," Jethro said to Moses. "My people are commanded to show kindness to strangers. For in so doing, Abraham entertained the LORD Himself."
Moses' ears perked up at the mention of the name.
"You know of Abraham?" he asked.
"Abraham is the father of many nations," the old sheik said. "We are the children of Midian, who was himself a son from Abraham's loins."
Moses almost smiled.
"It's b-b-b-been many years since I heard the n-name of Abraham." he said.
"Then I shall re-educate you in the story," Jethro said. "If I may."
"By your p-permission, sheik."
The day was hot on the plains of Mamre.
A large group of tents sat around the fertile valley, where the flocks were gathered for the tending and keeping.
An old man leaning upon a staff was looking out at all that was before him. He recalled the first day he had left his home so many years ago, taking only those of his family who desired to go and his servants, and going out into the middle of nowhere.
Now they were a multitude, so great that he had to part ways with his nephew just to keep the peace.
As he himself had said, "The land is not able to bear us, that we may dwell together."
Three hundred and eighteen servants, enough donkeys, horses, cattle, sheep, goats and other animals to consist of a vast fortune in regards to bedouin possessions. Regarding their families, this made his little band appear like a small army to those who saw them. His friends, the Amorite prince Mamre and his brothers, believed him to be blessed by the gods, to have everything. And at first glance, he did have everything.
Except a son.
He paused, turning now to the east. Three figures were walking down the sand-dunes, coming towards the camp.
The old man leaned heavily upon his staff and waited for the three figures to arrive closer.
They were now at hand. He walked over to them and threw himself down at their feet.
"My LORD!" the old man entreated to the middle of the three. "My LORD, if I have found favor in Your eyes, I pray, do not pass away from Your servant."
"We are going to the cities of plain." the one on the right said.
"Please," the old man returned, rising to his feet. "Let me prepare some food for you, and water to be brought out that you may wash your feet." He then turned and pointed to an olive tree. "Please, rest from the heat of the sun beneath yonder tree. Once you have rested and eaten, you may be on your way."
The One in the middle nodded. "Let it be so."
The old man led the three into the shade of the tree and then hurried back to the nearest tent and began preparations for their meal.
A few moments later, he returned with some meat, butter and milk and presented this to the strangers.
"Thankfully," the old man said. "Eleazar is a fine cook. That calf was prepared in almost no time."
The middle One nodded.
"Where is your wife Sarah?" the one on the left asked, in a voice that was almost musical.
"In the tent," the old man said, pointing to the tent. "She's preparing bread for us. She'll be out shortly. Now let us eat."
The old man said a prayer to God for the food, which was met with by an 'amen' from the others.
"I tell you," the One in the middle said to the old man. "At the time appointed, I will surely return to you. And behold, your wife Sarah will have a son."
The old man said nothing. It was far too good to be true. He was an old man, and his wife had not bled as women do in many years. Even when she did, she was wholly unable to bear children at all. It was a shame to him, though he pretended not to care: he loved Sarah more than life itself, loved her enough to lie to the Pharaoh of Egypt, thinking that it would save her life.
"Here she is now!" the old man stated.
An equally old woman approached, bearing bread for the strangers. She gave first to the one on the left, who nodded in thanks and then to the one on the right who did the same. As she gave bread to the middle One, He spoke.
"Why did you laugh, Sarah?"
"Pardon me, my LORD," the old woman replied. "But I didn't laugh."
Her hands were trembling.
"But you did," the One said. "You said that it was impossible for you to have children, much less in your old age. But is anything too hard for the LORD?"
"No, my LORD!" she repeated. "I did not laugh!"
"Nay, but you did laugh." He said.
Sarah bowed and then left, feeling very ashamed and fearful.
"I tell you again, Abraham," the One said to the old man. "At the time appointed, I will return to you...and your wife will have a son."
The One then looked at each of the other two.
"Thank you for your generosity, Abraham." the one on the right said.
"Yes," the younger, musically-voiced one on the left added. "The LORD will not forget the kindness you have shown to us."
"Wait, where are you going?" Abraham said, rising to his feet as they began to leave.
"The cities of the plain." answered the one on the right.
But the One in the middle was looking up to the sky.
"Father," He said. "Shall I hide from Abraham My mission, though I know he will become a great and mighty nation, through whom all the nations of the Earth shall be blessed?"
Silence flowed between the four of them.
"What did You say?" the old man asked.
"I know that you will command your children," He continued. "To keep the ways of the LORD, to do justice and judgment, that the LORD may fulfill His promise to you. Therefore you must know."
"Why I have come down." He said. Standing on the edge of the hill as the others walked off on their own.
"Why is that?"
The stranger paused, a look of severe sadness upon His face.
"Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great," He answered. "And their sins are very grievous. Therefore I have come down, to see if they have done everything according to their cry - and if not, I will know."
Abraham was no fool, He knew that of a certain. He also knew that this old man was a good man, who cared for everyone in his employ, and there was someone who he knew down there who he would not forget.
The old man threw himself at His feet.
"Far be it from You, O LORD," he said. "To destroy the righteous with the wicked. Peradventure there are fifty righteous people in all the cities of the plain: will You destroy and not spare the place for those fifty? Shall not the Judge of all the earth...do right?"
"Fear not," He answered. "If I find in Sodom alone fifty righteous people, I will spare the whole city just for their sakes."
He turned, but Abraham, still kneeling, crawled after Him.
"My LORD," he said. "I am nothing to You - dust and ashes - yet I dare to speak again. What if there lack five of those fifty: shall the city be destroyed for a lack of five?"
"Even if I find forty-five righteous people alone," He returned. "I will not destroy the city for their sakes."
"Please, LORD!" he continued, placing his hands upon the hem of His garment but not even daring to look up. "What if there are only forty...or thirty...or even as few as twenty? Will You destroy the city if You only find twenty righteous people therein?"
"For the sake of twenty," He said. "The cities will not be destroyed."
He turned His gaze up, ready to return once again into the Light. His work was done, the others could do just as well on their own.
But his hands were still clutched to His garment.
"Let not the LORD be angry with me," Abraham said again, his face still in the dust. "And may I speak just once more. Peradventure...ten shall be found there..."
"The city shall not be destroyed, even if there are only ten righteous found within it."
Suddenly He was gone.
"Yes, my young friend," Jethro said. "The LORD Himself and His angels were there with Abraham, speaking to him and sharing the promise of a son to him."
Moses was speechless.
"I...I am glad to have found people who believe as I do...as my f-father and mother did." he said.
"Do my words please you?" Jethro asked.
"More than pleased, my lord." he said. "If I may dare to ask, I would like to live with you in this land. I am a g-g-g-...I am an able warrior, and I was ed-d-d-du-c-c-c-ated in Egypt. I can learn easily how to be a shepherd."
Jethro paused, stroking his beard in pensive thought as he considered the Egyptian's request.
A smile came to his face.
"It pleases me to allow you to stay with us, Moses." he said at last. "Therefore, I say to you once again, you are most welcome to me and to my house."
(Yes, this is the story of Moses!)
(Basinah is an actual Arabic name, it means "kitten". Just wanted a name for one of Jethro's daughters, she's obviously the youngest. As for Zipporah's skin-color, that is based on another passage from either Exodus or Numbers, which said that Moses' wife had dark skin like an Ethiopian [yes, Prince of Egypt got that right too]. Jethro is heavily inspired by Omar Shariff, because who else could play a bad-ass sheik like Jethro [or Abraham] save for him?)
(And there will be language. Possibly more than in Joshua: King of Heaven, but not to a carcinogenic degree like in Red and Gold [my original story on FP], where it sounds out-of-place.)
(Furthermore, I've written these few parts as "prologues", similar to my Star Trek: Conflict story with the four new prologues, since they will tell the background of the story. It's all good, don't worry)
(What about the "cutaway" scenes? I originally included them to help flesh out the story and advance plots and sub-plots of various characters. Should I keep?)