The Story of Moses

By and by there rose up a new King in Egypt who knew not Joseph. He was called Pharaoh, as this was the name by which all the kings of Egypt were known. And he said there were more Hebrews, or Jews, in the land than there ought to be, and if war should break out, and these Jews should take sides with the foes of Pharaoh and his race, they would be sure to win. So he set them hard tasks, and made them bear great loads, and did all he could to vex them, and still they grew in strength. God had said they were to be as the stars in the sky, and as the sands of the sea, that no one could count. And the king of Egypt tried to stop this thing.

And he made it a law that if a boy child was born to the Hebrews it should be put to death at once; but a girl child might live. And this was the cause of great grief to the poor bondslaves, who were forced to do the will of the great king.

One day the princess went down to bathe in the stream that ran near her house. And her maids went with her. And as she stood on the shore of the Nile, she caught sight of a small boat built like an ark, that was hid in the reeds, and sent her maids to fetch it out.

When the princess looked in the ark she saw the child. And the babe wept. And the princess tried to soothe it, but the child cried the more, for her voice was a strange one. And she said, This is a Hebrew child.

And one of her maids spoke up, and said, Shall I get thee a Hebrew nurse, that she may nurse the child for thee?

And the princess said, Yes; go.

And the maid brought her own and the babe’s mother, to whom the princess said, Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will pay thee for it.

And the woman took the child and took care of it.

And the child grew, and was brought down to Pharaoh’s house, and the princess made him her son, and gave him the name of Moses: which means “Drawn out.”

One day, when Moses had grown to be a man, he went out to look at those of his own race, and to watch them at their tasks. And while he stood there a man from Egypt struck one of the Jews; and when Moses looked to the right and to the left and saw that no one was near, he slew the one from Egypt and hid him in the sand.

And the next day, when he went out, he saw there was a fight between two Hebrews. And he said to the one who was in the wrong, Why did you strike that man?

And he said, Who made thee our judge? Dost thou want to kill me, as thou didst the one from Egypt?

And Moses was scared, for he thought no one knew of this deed.

As soon as it came to the ears of the king, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from him, and dwelt in the land of Midian, and found a wife there, and took care of the flocks of Jethro, his wife’s father.

One day as he led his flock out in search of food he came to Mount Horeb, and there he saw a flame of fire stream out of a bush, and the bush was not burnt in the least.

As he drew near the bush the Lord spoke to him out of the flame, and Moses hid his face, for he dared not look on God.

The Lord said, The cry of the children of Israel has come up to me, and I have seen how ill they have been used. And I will send thee to Pharaoh that thou mayst bring them forth out of the land of Egypt.

But Moses was loth to go.

And the Lord said, What is that in thine hand? And Moses said, A rod, And the Lord said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it was changed to a snake, and Moses fled from it. Then the Lord said to Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And Moses did so, and it was a rod in his hand. And the Lord said, Put now thy hand in on thy breast. And he put it in, and when he drew it out it was white, and like a dead hand. And he put his hand in once more, and drew it out, and it was like the rest of his flesh.

Then Moses said, O, my Lord, I am not fit to do this work, for I am slow of speech, and a man of few words.

And the Lord said to him, I will be with thee, and teach thee what thou wilt say.

Still Moses was loth to go, and the Lord was wroth with him, and said, Take Aaron with thee. He can speak well. And thou shalt tell him what to say and do, and I will teach you, and with this rod in thy hand thou shalt do great things, as if thou wert God.

So Moses took his wife and his sons and put them on an ass, and went back to Egypt with the rod of God in his hand.

And Moses and Aaron went in to the king and begged him to let the Hebrews go out of the land. And he would not, but laid more work on the men, and bade them make bricks without straw, and do all sorts of hard tasks.

And the Lord sent plagues on the land, and the ponds dried up, and all the large streams were turned to blood, and the fish died, and the stench of them made the air scarce fit to breathe. And there was no water they could drink. Then there came a plague of frogs, and they were so thick in the land that Pharaoh said he would let the children of Israel go if Moses would rid him of the frogs at the same time.

But the king did not keep his word, for as soon as he found the frogs grew less, he said the Hebrews should not go.

Then the Lord smote the land with lice; but still Pharaoh’s heart was hard.

Then the Lord sent flies in such swarms that there was no place that was free from them, and they made the food not fit to eat.

And the king told Moses he would let the bondslaves go to serve their God, but they were not to go far till the land was rid of flies. Then Moses went forth and prayed to God, and the flies left the land. But still the king’s heart was hard, and he would not let them go.

Then the Lord sent worse plagues: the flocks and herds died; there were boils on man and beast; the crops did not come up, and rain, hail, and balls of fire came down from the sky. And still the heart of the king was as hard as stone. Then the Lord sent locusts, that ate up all the hail had left, and there was not a green leaf on the trees nor a blade of grass to be seen in the whole land.

And the king bade Moses to set him free from this plague. And the Lord sent a strong west wind, that blew the flies into the Red Sea. Yet Pharaoh would not let the Hebrews go.

Then the Lord told Moses to stretch out his hand, and there came up a thick cloud that made the land so dark that the folks staid in bed for three days. And Pharaoh said to Moses, Get thee out of my sight. For if I see thy face thou shalt die.

And Moses said, Thou hast well said: I will see thy face no more.

And the Lord sent one more plague on Egypt: he smote the firstborn of men and of beasts, and a great cry was heard through the land. And then Pharaoh had to let the children of Israel go, for he could not keep up this strife with God. And Moses led the Hebrew children out of Egypt, and the Lord sent a cloud by day and a fire by night to show them the way.

And when they were in camp by the Red Sea, they looked up and saw Pharaoh and his hosts, and were in great fear lest he should kill them. And they cried out to the Lord, and blamed Moses that he had brought them into such straits.

As they came to the Red Sea, Moses raised his rod and the sea rose like a wall on each side, and the children of Israel went on dry land through the midst of the sea.

Then Pharaoh and his hosts came close in the rear, and passed down between the great seawall that rose at the right hand and at the left. And the waves that had stood still at a sign from God were let loose, and the king and his horsemen were swept out of sight.

When the children of Israel came out of the Red Sea they were three days with naught to drink. And when they came to a stream, called Marah, they found it bitter. And they said to Moses, What shall we drink?

And Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree, and when he had cast a branch of it in the stream it was made sweet at once. And they came to Elim, where were ten wells and threescore palmtrees, and there they made their camp.

It was not long ere there was a great cry for bread.

And Moses plead with God, and when the sun went down that day quails flew into the camp, and they had all the meat they cared to eat. At dawn of the next day, as soon as the dew was off the ground, there came a rain of what was at first thought to be hailstones.

But Moses said it was food that God had sent them to eat, and they were to take all and no more than they would need for one day. For they were to trust in God that he would feed them each day. On the sixth day they were to take what would last them for two days, for no food fell on the day of rest.

This new food was called manna.

As they went on they came to Rephidim, but found no water to drink. And they found fault with Moses. And Moses cried out, Lord, what shall I do to these, who have a mind to stone me?

At this time they were near Mount Horeb, where God spoke to Moses out of a bush that was on fire, yet not burnt.

And God told Moses to take his rod in his hand and go on till he came to a rock. And this rock he was to strike with his rod, and water would flow out of it. And Moses did as the Lord told him, and when he struck the rock the water ran out.

In the third month from the time they left Egypt, the children of Israel came near Mount Sinai, and went into camp. And Moses went up to the top of the Mount, and the Lord spoke to him there.

On the third day a thick cloud of smoke rose from Mount Sinai, and a loud noise that made those that heard it quake with fear. And Moses led his flock out of the camp, and they came and stood at the foot of the mount. And they said to Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us lest we die. But Moses told them that God had not come to make them die, but to make them fear to do aught that did not please him.

And God gave to Moses two blocks of stone on which were the Ten Laws that the children of Israel were to keep.

Now while Moses was in the mount, face to face with God, those whom he had brought out of Egypt were in camp at the foot. And Moses staid so long that they made up their minds he would not come back. So they said to Aaron, Make us a God that we can bow down to. And Aaron bade them throw all the gold they had into the fire. And they did so, and it took the form of a calf. And when God saw this he was not pleased, but bade Moses make haste down the mount.

When Moses came down from the mount with the two flat stones in his hands, and drew near the camp, and saw what had been done, he was in a great rage. He cast the blocks of stone out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mount.

Then he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire till there was nought left of it but a fine dust. And Moses begged God to blot out the sins of those whom he had led out of Egypt.

And the Lord told Moses to hew out two blocks of stone like to the first, and bring them up with him to the top of Mount Sinai.

This Moses did, and the Lord wrote on them the Ten Laws that all were to keep if they would reach the land they sought.

They were more than twoscore years on the road, and in that time they met with plagues, and there was strife in their midst, yet as they went there was the fire by night and the cloud by day to show that the Lord was with them.

When they came to Mount Hor and were yet a long way from Canaan, Aaron died, and there was great grief at his loss. They were sick at heart and footsore, and spoke hard words of God and Moses. There is no bread here for us, they said, and no water, and we loathe this manna. And for this sin God sent snakes into their camp, and they bit the children of Israel so that a few of them died. Then they plead with Moses to rid them of the snakes, and make their peace with God.

And Moses prayed for them. And God told him to make a snake like to those which bit his flock, and set it up on a pole. And all those who would look at this brass snake should be made well.

And Moses did so. And this sign was meant to show forth Christ, who was to heal men of their sins, and to be raised up on a cross.

And Moses led his flock till they came to the plains of Moab. And Balak, the king of that land, thought they had come to fight with him, and he sent a man named Balaam out to curse them and drive them back. He told Balaam he would make him a rich man if he would do this thing, and as Balaam was fond of wealth he said he would do the king’s will. So he set forth on his ass, and had not gone far when he met an angel with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam did not see him, but the ass did and turned out of the road. But the angel went on and stood in a place where there was a wall on each side.

When the ass came to the place she went close to the wall and tried to get by. But she hurt Balaam’s foot and he struck her and made her go on. And the angel went on and stood in a place where there was no room to turn to the right hand or the left.

Then the ass shook with fright and fell down on the ground. And Balaam struck her with the staff that he had in his hand.

And the Lord made the ass speak like a man, and say, What have I done to thee that thou hast struck me these three times?

Balaam said, To make thee move on: I would there were a sword in my hand, for I would kill thee.

Then the ass said, Am I not thine? and have I been wont to do so to thee? And Balaam said, No. Then the Lord made Balaam see the angel that stood in the way with a drawn sword in his hand, and Balaam bowed his face to the ground.

Then the angel said, Why hast thou struck thine ass these three times? Lo, I came out to stop thee, and to turn thee from the way of sin. And the ass saw me, and turned from the path, and if she had not done so I would have slain thee.

Then he said to Balaam, Go with the men the king has sent, but say only what I shall tell thee.

So Balaam went with the men, and when Balak heard that he was come he went out to meet him. The next day Balak took Balaam to a high place, from whence he could look down on the camp of Israel, and curse them.

But the Lord would not let him curse them, but made him speak good things of them. This was done on three high mounts, and at last the king was wroth, and said to Balaam, I sent for thee to curse my foes, and lo, these three times hast thou blest them.

And Balak bade him make haste and go back to his own home. And Balaam went off as poor as he came, for Balak gave him none of his gold.

The Lord brought Moses and his flock to the banks of the Jordan, which they would have to cross to reach the land of Canaan. And while they were there, Moses went up to the top of Mount Nebo to talk with God. And God told him how large the land was that he would give to the children of Israel. And he said that Moses should look on it, but should not step foot in the land. And Moses died on Mount Nebo, and though an old man, was well and strong till the Lord took him. And no one knows in what part of the earth his grave was made.

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