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Post  Jude on Wed 01 May 2013, 00:01


The Book of Exodus is divided in two by the proclamation of the Decalogue on Mount Sinai. This is a central story in the Qur'an as well, where the Decalogue is called the Criterion or Furqan given to Moses in Qur'an 2:53. Thus the Book of Exodus contains at its heart the only extensive text in all of classical religious literature, that claims to be a direct and public revelation of God, spoken without the mediation of prophet, messenger, vision or dream, and heard by six hundred thousand fighting men along with their families and retainers. It is the document of divine justice on which all faith in fact is founded.

The theme of justice is developed in both the beginning of Exodus, and the second half. The beginning of the book relates the story of the victory of justice over oppression as the people escape from slavery in Egypt. The second half of the book develops the theme of justice within a living society, through laws of justice and through the symbol of the tent of meeting, in which reconciliation between God and humankind and between one human being and another are made through sacrifice and worship.

The book of Exodus contains the enigmatic passage of Moses' appeal to Ali in Exodus 8:9. This is obscured in most translations with an attempt to make sense of the word Ali in one of its literal meanings. This is the first of three such texts in the Bible in which the word is best left untranslated in the form it appears in Hebrew. The context of all three texts is enigmatic, but the Muslim at least will be left with the impression that the Torah or Tawrat has within it a prophecy by name of a figure to come.

As Genesis has its apparent theme
In showing that You are the God You seem
Without another, so Exodus too
Has its own theme that grasps the things I do.
Oneness of God gives way to justice here,
You are above all just to those who fear.
The book turns on the centre, in that fold
The Decalogue of justice has been told.
The first leaves tell of justice to oppressed
And how You save such ones and give them rest.
The last leaves tell of justice in Your tent
By which You dwell among the homeless sent.
Beloved, I bow to justice and Your throne
As I bow to You who are God alone.


1 Now these are the names of the folk,
The children of Israel who woke
To come to Egypt, each man and
His household came with Jacob's band:
2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and
Judah, 3 Issachar, Zebulon,
And Benjamin, 4 and also Dan,
Naphtali, Gad, and Asher's man.
5 All those who were descendants of
Jacob were seventy persons (for
Joseph was in Egypt already).
6 And Joseph died, and all above,
His brothers, and all those before
Of people from that generation.
7 But the children of Israel steady
Were fruitful and became a nation,
Increased abundantly in number,
Multiplied and grew without slumber
Exceeding mighty, and the land
Was filled with them on every hand.

Beloved, while twelve sons were clear and well-known
To all the populace in Canaan grown,
Unknown to all the hidden one ruled on
The throne of Egypt and the Pentagon.
It may have seemed to Canaanite the king
Of Egypt was the most important wing,
But behind him the unseen hand and eye
Of Joseph held the reins of power and why.
It may seem that the ministers of state
Along with industry divide our fate,
But You have placed behind the throne of power
A shadow hand, and hidden twelfth son's hour.
My passive non-compliance looks to him
Whose truth makes all the oil and tinsel dim.

8 Now there arose a new king over
Egypt, who did not for a trover
Know Joseph. 9 And he said to his
Folk moreover, "Look, the fact is
The people of the children of
Israel are more and far above
Us in their might, 10 "come, let us deal
Shrewdly with them, lest in their zeal
They multiply, and it occur
When war comes and when flies the fur,
That they join also enemy
And fight against us, and go free
Up out of the land." 11 Therefore they
Set taskmasters over their sway
Afflicting them to their dismay.
And they built for Pharaoh cities
Of treasure, Pithom and Raamses.
12 But the more they afflicted them,
The more they multiplied the hem
And grew in number. And they were
Grieved by Israelite customer.
13 The Egyptians made Israelites
Serve with rigour. 14 They set their sights
On making their lives bitter sick
With hard bondage, in mortar, brick,
And in all manner of service
In the field. And all their service
They made them do was rigorous.

The master of the age proved false in this:
He lacked for all his patience and his bliss,
Not to speak of his contacts in the market,
Life long enough both to see and to hark it.
This fault will end in the necessity
Of plaguing Egypt to set people free.
You had, Beloved, an idea better taught
When You invented masters for the plot
That hide themselves from both the kings and fair,
And live to fill both cup and pastry-ware.
Invisible, occulted from the eyes
Of senator or civil servant guise,
He still controls the world of faith and power
From day to day until the judgement hour.

15 Then the king of Egypt spoke to
The Hebrew midwives, whose names true
Were Shiphrah, Loveliness, and her
Friend Puah, 16 and he said astir,
"When you do midwife's duties for
The Hebrew women, what is more,
And see them on the birthstools, if
It is a son, then in a jiff
You shall kill him, but if it is
A daughter, then let live like whiz."
17 But the midwives feared Ælohim,
And did not do as it did seem
Good to the king of Egypt and
To kill the boys by his command,
But saved the boys alive instead.
18 So the king of Egypt had led
The midwives to him and he said
To them, "Why have you done this thing,
And saved the boys alive to sing?"
19 And the midwives said to Pharaoh,
"Because Hebrew women are so,
Not like Egyptian women, for
They're lively and give birth before
The midwives come to them." 20 Therefore
Ælohim dealt well with midwives,
And the folk multiplied in lives
And grew exceeding great. 21 And so
It was, because the midwives feared
Ælohim, that He let them go
And built them houses well appeared.
22 So Pharaoh commanded his folk,
And this is what the Pharaoh spoke,
"Every son who is born you'll cast
Into the river not to last,
And every daughter you shall save
Alive, and so you shall behave."

There is a statute known of old for which
The Flood came on the earth with rock and pitch,
And that is prohibition of the slaying
Of living man or woman or child playing.
Conceit a man can control female womb
Compounds the Pharaoh's wicked sin and doom.
The way to confront power is chosen word
That is polite, agreeing with the turd,
Excusing non-compliance with the way
Things are that can't be helped this time of day.
Give flattery to kings with tongue and lip,
But curse them in the heart of daily sip
In prayer, and in the hand that fails to do
Their bidding. Thanks, Beloved, for shirt and shoe.


1 A man there was of Levi's house,
Went, took as wife a tender grouse,
A daughter of Levi as well.
2 So the woman conceived a spell
And gave birth to a son. And when
She saw he was a goodly ben
She hid him three months. 3 But when she
Could no longer hide him safely,
She took an ark of bulrushes
For him, daubed it with slime, that is,
With asphalt and pitch, put the child
In it, and laid, heart beating wild,
In the reeds by the river's bank.
4 And his sister stood at the flank
Afar off, to know what would be
Done to him on that river sea.

The first point, my Beloved, that I would make
Is that in crisis women seem to save
The day. It's woman sticks neck out for sake
Of male good fortune. Woman takes the stave
And makes a basket, finds the slime and pitch
And slides the safety airtight without stitch,
Or watertight as case may be. And when
She's done, she waits to scan the mouth of den.
When women make the world by giving birth
Men rule as kings and destroy what it's worth.
When women save the world by making ark,
Men shoot off deadly missiles in the dark.
Ah, since Judith women now take a part
In the destruction with an equal heart.

5 Then the daughter of Pharaoh came
Down to bathe at the river tame.
And her maids walked along the side
Of the river, and when she spied
The ark among the reeds, she sent
(In curiosity well meant)
Her maid to get it. 6 And when she
Had opened it, she saw the wee
Child, and indeed, the baby wept.
And great compassion on him crept
Into her heart, and she said "This
Is one of the Hebrews' amiss."
7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh's
Daughter, "Shall I go and who knows
Call a nurse for you from Hebrew
Women to nurse the child for you?"
8 And Pharaoh's daughter said to her,
"Go." So the maiden went demur
And quickly called the child's mother.
9 Then Pharaoh's daughter said to her,
"Take this child and nurse him for me,
And I'll give you your wages free."
So the woman took the child and
Nursed him. 10 And so the child grew, and
She brought him to Pharaoh's daughter,
And he was her son princelier.
So she called his name Moses, saying
"Since I drew him from water straying."

The sorrow of the world is that it takes
A vision of the babe before it wakes
To its humanity. But those who wait
To be touched to the quick by tears and fears
Must also satisfy themselves with state
That first creates tears while it shuts its ears.
One does not right the wrong to follow heart
And loving thoughts compassionate in part.
One rights the wrong by going to the core
And knowing every "I" is divine shore.
Reacting is too late that moves the groan,
And Pharaoh's girl, instead of one alone,
Might have saved thousands more had she not waited
To be moved by the one in ark instated.

11Now it happened that in those days,
When Moses was grown in his ways,
That he went out to his brothers
To see their burdens, what occurs.
And he saw an Egyptian beating
A Hebrew brother and defeating.
12 So he looked this way and that way,
And when he saw no one, he killed
The Egyptian and hid him filled
In the sand. 13 And when he went out
The second day, indeed, no doubt,
Two Hebrew men were fighting, and
He said to the one in whose hand
Was wrong, "Why did you strike your friend?"
14 Then he said "Who set you to tend
Judgement on us and be a prince?
Do you intend without a wince
To kill me as you killed Egyptian?"
So Moses almost had conniption,
He feared and said "This thing is known!"
15 When Pharaoh heard the matter shown,
He sought to kill Moses. But he
Fled from the face of Pharaoh's lea
And stayed in Midian's land, and he
Sat down beside a well for tea.

The first thing Moses does to set up right
Is kill a man when there's no one in sight.
Perhaps it was Your will, Beloved, and I
Shall not say Moses disobeyed Your cry.
I only say this first perception's wrong,
That killing solves the problem in the long.
To crucify someone in Middle East
Does not right wrongs or help things in the least.
It may pave better access to the oil,
But does not heal the broken towers in toil
On New York's skyline. Moses will live to
Learn something he can teach the world to do
For justice and for peace, but it will take
Forty years in the desert for sheep's sake.

16 Now the priest of Midian had seven
Daughters. And they came at eleven
And drew water, and filled the troughs
To water their father's flock's maws.
17 Then the shepherds came and drove them
Away, but Moses raised his hem,
Stood up and helped them, and watered
Their flock. 18 When they came with the herd
To Reuel their father, he said "How
Did you come back so quickly now?"
19 And they said "An Egyptian came
And saved us from the shepherds' claim,
And he also drew water for
Us and watered the flock, what's more."
20 So he said to his daughters, "And
Where is he? Why did you remand
The man? Call him, that he may eat
Bread while you all recount the feat."
21 Then Moses was content to live
With the man who agreed to give
Zipporah his daughter as wife
To Moses for the rest of life.
22 And she bore him a son, and he
Called his name Gershom, because he
Said, "I have been a stranger in
A foreign land for my great sin."

While Israel was in heathen Egypt's land,
The faith of Abraham burned bright in hand
Of his wife Keturah's children's descent.
They kept the faith pure wherever they went.
The priest of Midian taught Moses the law
That he would promulgate without a flaw
At Sinai after hearing Your voice rumble
In bass and descant and across the tumble
Of desert rock. What seemed a great mistake
Preventing Moses fighting for the sake
Of his people in fact brought him to hear
The Abrahamic stories by the cheer
Of evening fire before the desert tent.
Beloved, You guided Moses where he went.

23 Now in process of time it came
To pass the king of Egypt died.
Then Israel's folk groaned in the frame
Of their bondage, and then they cried
Out, and the sound of their cry came
Up to Ælohim for the blame.
24 So Ælohim heard of their groaning,
And Ælohim remembered owning
His covenant with Abraham,
With Isaac, and Jacob in pram.
25 And Ælohim looked down upon
The children of Israel, by swan
Ælohim gave His benison.

When one bad president goes out at last
We're certain that the calumny is past.
Instead new concepts in oppression rise
That were not imagined here otherwise.
The king died and a new king rose instead
And they found worse was possible ahead.
And so those who have breath still in the wind
Moan, groan, and groaning moan though disciplined.
You hear, Beloved, the groaning of the weak
That are despised for weakness as I speak.
And though as yet no lightning bolt saves all,
Your benison glows in Your silent call
To king and slave to raise their eyes to You
Who are both powerful and just and true.


1 Now Moses was tending the flock
Of Jethro his father-in-law,
The priest of Midian. And the flock
He led behind the desert, and
Came to Horeb, Ælohim's land
Of mountain. 2 And while there he saw
The Angel of YHWH came to him
In flame of fire instead of hymn
And from a bush. He looked indeed,
The bush was burning but unfreed
In flames, and yet was not consumed.
3 Then Moses said "I have presumed
To turn aside and see this great
Sight, why the bush meets no vile fate."

Your angel, my Beloved, before and since
Has come to call a prophet, some may wince
And some turn round with curiosity.
It just depends on what form they may see.
The angel that appears in fearsome pose
Awakes the would-be prophet from his doze
To fear and tremble at the heavenly vision.
The call to Moses came with that precision
That so marks Your advent. The angel form
Was burning bush that failed the public norm
By simply not burning to ash and cinder.
And Moses went to see the angel tinder.
You call Your prophets each in his own way,
And each sees angels somewhere on display.

4 So when YHWH saw he turned aside
To look, the angel to confide
Of Ælohim called to him from
The midst of the bush with aplomb
And said "Moses, Moses!" And he
Said "Here I am and here I be."
5 Then He said "Do not draw near here.
Take off your sandals, stand in fear,
For where you're standing's holy tier."
6 And He said, words of Ælohim,
"I am the God that you esteem
Of your father, of Abraham,
The God of Isaac, too, I am,
And the God of Jacob." And Moses
Hid his face, for his fearing rose as
Looking there upon Ælohim.

It seems to take off shoe shows one's respect
For messenger of God and the elect.
I too take off my shoes and bow to earth,
And like the prophets cast all of my worth
Upon the dust. The flaming of Your love
Burns here before me in the rooms above
My chambered heart of stone. The unseen flame
Sears through my weary reticence and shame
And lifts my soul in drunken ecstasy,
Both chained in You and yet forever free.
I hide my face, but not for shame or fear,
But only to reveal that You are here.
My love will not allow another face
To share Your sacred time and holy place.

7 And YHWH said "I have surely seen
Oppression of My folk who've been
In Egypt, and have heard their cry
Because of their taskmasters' fly,
For I know their sorrows and why.
8 "So I have come down to deliver
Them out of hand of the misgiver
Egyptians, and to bring them up
From that land to a well-filled cup,
A good and large land, to a land
Flowing with milk and honey, and
To the place of the Canaanites
And the Hittites and Amorites
And Perizzites and the Hivites
And to the land of Jebusites.
9 "Now therefore, see, the children's cry
Of Israel has passed Me by,
And I have also seen oppression
With which Egyptians make aggression.
10 "Come now, therefore, and I will send
You to Pharaoh that you may spend
Yourself to bring My people out,
Israel's folk from Egypt in rout."

Beloved, when You see something must be done,
Instead of doing it under the sun,
Especially when it takes courage, too,
You always send someone to act and do.
You only work a miracle for those
Who step out in the void bare feet and toes.
So You send Moses back into the nest
To clear the brush and work hard at his best,
And when all fails and he's back to the wall,
Then You step in and work a miracle.
No harm is there in that if only You
Always stepped in to help the tried and true.
But mostly the courageous rise to die
Remembering the Exodus and why.

11 But Moses said to Ælohim,
"Who am I and that I should seem
To go to Pharaoh, and that I
Should bring Israel's folk by the by
Out of Egypt?" 12 And so He said
"I'll certainly be with you led.
And this shall be a sign to you
That I have sent you: for when you
Have brought the folk out of Egypt,
You shall serve Ælohim well tipped
On this mountain known but to few."
13 Then Moses said to Ælohim,
"Indeed, when I come for esteem
To Israel's folk and say to them,
'The God of your fathers and gem
Has sent me to you,' and they say
To me, 'What is His name, we pray?'
What shall I have for them to say?"
14 And Ælohim said to Moses,
"I am who I am. Just say this."
And He said "Thus you shall say to
The children of Israel and crew,
'I am has just sent me to you.'"
15 Moreover Ælohim said to
Moses, "This is what you shall say
To Israel's folk upon that day,
'YHWH God of your fathers, the God
Of Abraham, of Isaac, God
Of Jacob, has sent me to you.
This is My name forever, and
For Me memorial to stand.'

Beloved, You are the only who has right
To say "I am." There's no other in sight.
And so You have the right to give Your sign
After the thing is done that You design.
That very thing shows that You are divine,
And unencumbered by both space and time.
If You were like us, You would know the rhyme
That we need signs beforehand in the rush,
To give us courage here to meet the crush.
You give Your sign that You are with me after
I face the music in Your name, and laughter.
You are the one great I and God of all
The fathers of all men who stop to call
On Your name, so I do with breeze and brawl.

16 "Go and gather the elders of
Israel together as above,
And say to them, 'YHWH God of your
Fathers, God of Abraham, more,
Of Isaac, and of Jacob, came
Appearing to me without blame,
And said "I have visited you
And surely seen what's done to you
In Egypt, 17 "and I've said I will
Bring you up from the bitter pill
Of affliction in Egypt to
The country of the Canaanites
And the Hittites and Amorites
And Perizzites and the Hivites
And Jebusites, to a land flowing
With milk and honey in bestowing."'
18 "Then they will heed your voice, and you
Shall come, you and the elders too
Of Israel, to Egyptian king,
And you shall say to him this thing,
'YHWH God of the Hebrews has met
With us, and now, please, let us get
Three days' journey into the land
Of wilderness, that by command
We'll sacrifice to YHWH our God.'
19 "But I am sure that as he trod
The king of Egypt will not let
You go, not even with heart set
And by a mighty hand well met.
20 "So I'll stretch out My hand and strike
Egypt with all My wonders like
I will do in its midst, and after
That he will let you go, no laughter.
21 "And I will give this people favour
In sight of the Egyptians slaver,
And it shall be, when you go, that
You'll not go empty-handed, flat.
22 "But every woman shall ask of
Her nearest neighbour, namely, of
Her who dwells near her house, to give
Both silver things to fugitive,
And gold, and clothing, and you shall
Put them on your sons' punctual
And on your daughters. So you shall
Plunder Egyptians' arsenal."

Beloved, You might have just created gold
And silver to give to Your folk of old.
Why did they have to take the lot from neighbour
To pay for their decades of slaving labour?
The chances are they took from innocent
And not the beneficiaries meant.
I know the thing was meant in justice' claim,
But it still bothers me now just the same.
Does arbitrary vengeance satisfy?
That is the wicked terrorist's reply.
But then few can tell what the difference
Is between terrorist and folk of sense
Who rule the cabinet and parliament.
I flee to You, Beloved, from Your own rent.


1 Then Moses answered and said "But
Suppose they will not believe what
I say or listen to my voice,
Suppose they say on their invoice,
'That YHWH has not appeared to you.'"
2 So YHWH said to him, "What's that you
Have in your hand?" He said "A rod."
3 And He said "Cast it on the sod."
So he cast it on the ground, and
It was a serpent by command
And Moses fled from it. 4 Then YHWH
Said to Moses, "Reach out your hand
And take it by the tail, please do,"
And he reached out his hand and caught
It, and it was a rod for naught
In hand once more, 5 "that they may know
That YHWH God of their fathers' show,
The God of Abraham, the God
Of Isaac, Jacob's God by rod
Has come appearing here to you."

Since Serpent-Watcher in the tree appeared
The serpent worship of the world has geared
For progress and for spreading in the state.
It once defiled dear Yemen and its mate
Beloved Axum, and every clown that stood
Before the Pharaoh with a rod there could
Cast down the rod and make a serpent coil.
You give to Moses a rod that can spoil
Magician's tricks, and yet such tricks are faint
To turn magician into proper saint.
Serpent is serpent, magic magic still,
Though some be greater for the good or ill.
I too flee from the serpent and to You
I turn my fears and loves for what You do.

6 Then YHWH said to him, "Now put your
Hand in your bosom." As before
He put his hand in his bosom,
And when he took it out, in sum,
His hand was leprous, like the snow.
7 And He said "Put your hand one go
In your bosom again." And so
He put his hand again in there,
And drew it out again as fair
It was restored like his own flesh.

There is no worshipper of leprosy,
And so this sign is such one cannot see
Among the priests of Egypt and of Rome.
It's only Moses has a hand at home
Both with disease and with the glow of health.
Until modern warfare there was no wealth
In causing sickness, only in the healing.
It must be progress now with which we're dealing.
I put my hand also upon my heart
With fingers tucked beneath the cloth in part
In sign or not that I bow down to You
And take my vows for faith in what I do.
The secret sign returns upon the flesh
Where love and fear for You always enmesh.

8 "Then it will be, if they get fresh
And don't believe you, don't give heed
To the message of the first deed,
That they believe the message of
The latter sign, as given above.
9 "And it shall be, if they do not
Believe even these two you're taught,
Or listen to your voice, that you
Shall take water from the bayou
Of the river and pour it on
The dry land. And the Amazon
Which you take from the river will
Become blood on the dry land still."

The turning of the water into blood
Is sign of longest standing on the mud.
The gate of water may put out the fire
Of my love seeking and all my desire,
But still the vision of this awful thing
Reminds me I am glad not to be king.
After the air I search most for the drink
That I need hour by hour and not to sink.
Both air and water in my coursing veins
Turn into blood and into bleeding stains.
Water on earth, awareness on obeying,
Awakens blood and fire is what I'm saying.
I turn from all things, images and sign
To You alone, and so forget the wine.

10 Then Moses said to YHWH, "O my
Lord, I'm not eloquent, foreby,
Neither before nor since You spoke
To Your servant, but I'm a bloke
That's slow of speech and slow of tongue."
11 And YHWH said to him, "Who has sung
Into being the mouth of man?
Who makes the mute, say if you can,
The deaf, the seeing, or the blind?
Have not I, YHWH, Creator of
Both speech and silence from above?
12 "Now therefore, go, and I will be
With your mouth and teach your decree
Of what to say." 13 But he said "O
My Lord, please send and let him go
Whomever else You may bestow."
14 Then YHWH's wrath kindled against Moses,
And He said "Levite Aaron poses
As your brother? I know that he
Can truly speak well. Therefore see,
He's also coming out to meet
You. When he sees you as a treat,
He'll be glad in his heart complete.
15 "Now you shall speak to him and put
The words in his mouth, foot by foot.
And I will be with your mouth and
With his mouth, and I'll teach command
What you shall do. 16 "So he shall be
Your spokesman to the people, see.
And he himself shall be as mouth
For you, and you come from the south
Shall be to him as Ælohim.
17 "And you shall take this rod for beam
In your hand, with which you shall do
Both signs and wonders not a few."

Two great concepts of You, Beloved, are here
In Your speech to Moses who stands in fear.
These two great concepts go forgotten by
The theologian, priest, and the rabbi
As well as by the mullah at the gate.
The first is that You are God to create
All speech and without divine leave there's none,
Creator of the word without a son.
The second is that Godness means that You
Tell humankind what's right and wrong to do.
I who have words so many, let me pray
That I shall from such human paths well stray
That take the human heart for right and wrong
And think it source of any divine song.

18 And Moses returned to Jethro
His father-in-law, told him so,
"Please let me go and return to
My brothers in Egypt, and see
Whether they're still alive and free."
And Jethro said to Moses, "Do
Go there in peace." 19 And then said YHWH
To Moses in Midian, "Return
To Egypt, for the men who burn
To seek your life are dead, return."
20 Then Moses took his wife and sons
And set them on a donkey's buns,
And he returned to Egypt's land.
And Moses took by the command
Of Ælohim his rod in hand.
21 And YHWH said to Moses, "When you
Go back to Egypt, see that you
Do all those wonders in the land
Of Pharaoh which I've in your hand.
But I will harden his heart, so
He will not let the people go.
22 "Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'So
Says YHWH "Israel's My son, My first.
23 "I say to you, let My son go
That he may serve Me, not the worst.
But if you do not let him go,
I truly will kill your son, your
Firstborn son and your heir, what's more."'"

Sweet Moses, I love more and more to see
That when he heard commands right heavenly,
He still went to his wife's father to get
Permission for his journey and the set.
My heart wells up and surely with regret
My own wife's father no longer abides
That I might do him some such honour's tides.
Meek Moses, make me, my Beloved, like him
Before my hearing goes and eye grows dim,
But give me not such messages of hate
To bear before the governors of state.
I should not like to bear the news in late
That some such prelate's son firstborn should die.
Police on guard would have a question why.

24 It came to pass upon the way,
At the inn that YHWH for dismay
Met him and sought to kill him there.
25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone
And cut the foreskin off her son
And cast it at his feet, and said
"You truly are a bloody dread
To me!" 26 And so He let him go.
Then she said "You're a man of blood!"
Because of circumcision's flood.

Beloved, this text gives me to wonder why
The son of Moses missed the knifely try.
The Midianite was son of Abraham
And Arab as for sacred descent cam.
So circumcision was a thing well known
And should without neglect have been and shown.
Perhaps the rite was acted in duress
To show that women as well as men bless
The world of action with obedience,
And cut by hand of woman makes good sense
As well as that of man. She lacks good grace
Though as she throws before her husband's face
The bloody rests of her saving reaction.
The circumcision still creates a faction.

27 And YHWH said to Aaron, "Go to
The wilderness to meet the crew
Of Moses." So he went and met
Him on the mount of Ælohim,
And kissed him to show his esteem.
28 So Moses told Aaron all that
YHWH said who'd sent him, and the bat
Of signs which He commanded him.
29 Then Moses and Aaron with him
Went and gathered together all
The elders of Israel by call.
30 And Aaron spoke all that YHWH said
To Moses. Then he did the spread
Of signs in sight of all the folk.
31 The people believed what he spoke,
And when they heard YHWH had come by
The children of Israel to spy
On their affliction, then they bowed
Their heads and worshipped Him in crowd.

The signs sufficed to make the Hebrew slaves
Believe a saviour came and so behaves
One who might make the Pharaoh once relent.
They believe at once Moses was one sent.
Perhaps old serpent worship did the trick,
Or white hand in the bosom. What must stick
Each time is sight of blood. That still proposes
Faith in the Christian follower of Moses,
Who thinks blood shed is better than the good
You do, Beloved, each day in field and wood.
Belief comes easily, with Aaron's speech
And Moses' wonder-working there to teach.
Let my belief arise in silence where
Your loving statutes still perfume the air.


1 Afterward Moses and Aaron
Went in and told Pharaoh anon,
"Thus says YHWH God of Israel
'Let My people go for a spell,
That they may hold a feast to Me
There in the wilderness.'" 2 And he,
Pharaoh said "Who is YHWH, that I
Should obey His voice on the sly
To let go Israel? I do
Not even know YHWH from my shoe,
Nor will I say Israel adieu."
3 So they said "The God of Hebrews
Has met with us. To pay our dues,
Please, let us go three days' away
Into the desert there to pray
And sacrifice to YHWH our God,
Lest He fall on us with a rod
Of pestilence or with the sword
For failing to obey our Lord."

Not only did Moses lie to the king,
But claimed he spoke Your word to do the thing.
The real intention was to leave the land
Never to come back to give them a hand.
So why this obfuscation? Are You Lord
Or must You too rely on lie and sword?
The powerless alone must lie to get
Their way. Who has the strength of arm to set
His will need not hide his intention from
The king or populace. The people come
To You demanding truth in absolute.
Who in this world can bear the truth? Dispute,
Refute, such talents are not rare. We lie
To be more comfortable beneath the sky.

Will You, Beloved, fall on the folk with sword
Or pestilence who fail to be adored
With prayers and sacrifice? The pagan thought
Might well do for the king who had been taught
To deal in violence. Your law is done
In ten words, all the rest is worn for fun
Or fear or dear tradition of old time.
Religion's made of such tradition's rhyme.
Human authority must speak to such
Because it fears the truly divine touch
That must unmake the arm of man and king.
That is the root and sum of everything.
I flee to You from faith and goodly speech
Where You and I know silently of each.

4 Then the king of Egypt told them,
"Moses and Aaron, what's your game?
Why take the people from their work?
Get to your labour, do not shirk."
5 So then Pharaoh said "Look, the folk
Are many here that you convoke
In the land now to make them keep
The Sabbath instead of to sweep!"
6 So the same day Pharaoh commanded
The people's taskmasters remanded
And officers, saying 7 "You shall
No longer give folk prodigal
Straw to make brick as before now.
Let them go gather straw somehow
For themselves. 8 "And the tale of brick
They did before their minds were sick
You shall lay on them not diminished,
For they are idle, when they've finished,
Therefore they cry out, saying 'Let
Us go sacrifice God's banquet.'
9 "Let there more work be laid upon
The men, that they may labour on
And not regard vain antiphon."

The first thing Moses does to free the folk
Is command Sabbath be observed to stoke
The powers of spirit and of mind in slaves.
Result is seen in how the king behaves.
There's nothing that arouses wrath in those
Who sit on thrones like daring to suppose
There is a limit laid on human powers.
The Sabbath of the ten commands of ours
Is that which says the powerless have rights
Not to be cancelled by their own insights,
Much less by others. Rulers must feel free
To be the ones to grant soul's liberty,
And are insulted that such freedom is
Whether or not the crown is hers or his.

10 And the taskmasters of the folk
And their officers went and spoke
To the people, "Thus says Pharaoh:
'I will not give you straw. 11 ' But go,
Get yourselves straw where you can find it,
Diminish not your work behind it.'"
12 So the people were scattered out
Through all Egypt's land roustabout
To gather stubble for their straw.
13 And the taskmasters hasted them,
"Fulfil your work, your day's pro tem,
As when there was straw on the draw."
14 And officers of Israel's folk,
Whom Pharaoh's taskmasters awoke
To be over them, were beaten
And were asked, "Why have you not been
Fulfilling your task in making
Brick both yesterday and to bring
Today, as before, for the king?"

To observe Sabbath meant seven days of toil
Were curtailed to but six upon the soil.
The fact is what was done in seven before
Could better work in six and not one more.
That's why an added task had to be found
To grind the Sabbath-keeper in the ground.
Sabbath observance inspires deepest hate
And reveals hidden fountains of the great
Malice that otherwise poses as love.
Proof against Sabbath will be showing of
The plagues on Egypt it results in bringing.
All disaster is thus the Sabbath's stinging,
And but affirms what Pharaoh thought was true:
A king is not responsible to You.

15 Then the officers of the folk
Of Israel came and cried and spoke
To Pharaoh, "Why are you dealing
Thus with your servants? 16 "There's no string
Of straw given to your servants,
And they tell us 'Make brick like ants!'
And indeed your servants are beaten,
But fault's what your own folk have eaten."
17 But he said "You are idle! Idle!
Therefore you say as regicidal,
'Let's go and sacrifice to YHWH.'
18 "Go therefore now, you've work to do,
For no straw shall be given you,
Deliver yet your bricks' tale, do."

The officers of Israel spoke sense
To Pharaoh and in the good king's presence.
They said that added tasks could not be done
In the same time as fewer under sun.
The concept is quite simple, take a jar
Of one litre and fill it up as far
As it will hold. Then take another cup
And try to fill the first and full jar up.
The water runs out on the table. This
Is scientific fact the king must miss.
Opposing Sabbath deprives men of reason
So when they're faced with facts within the season,
They only answer "You are idle, idle."
That's why You use the day to show the idol.

19 The officers of Israel's folk
Did see the evil that he spoke
"You'll not diminish from your bricks
You daily bring instead of sticks."
20 And they met Moses and Aaron
Who stood in the way they were on
As they came out from Pharaoh's fawn.
21 And they said to them, "Let YHWH look
On you and judge, because you took
Trouble to make our smell abhorred
In Pharaoh's sight who is our lord
And in the sight of his servants,
To slay us in their hand with sword."
22 So Moses came to YHWH's presence
And said "Lord, why have You brought evil
On this people? And like a weevil
You have sent me? 23 "For since I came
To Pharaoh to speak in Your name,
He has done evil to this folk,
Nor have You saved them as You spoke."

Moses and all the world besides are right
To come to You complaining of the blight
That Sabbath-keeping serves on those who do
As You command. Obedience to You
Results in being killed by those who rule,
Perhaps not on this day but in some school.
All other things can hide beneath the sign
Of charity and loving hearts' sweet wine.
Who keep the Sabbath are accused some day
Of one thing or another in the way
As pretext, insane pretext without proof
For why the disobedient are aloof.
I flee to You, Beloved, from their intent
And as a working slave fail to relent.


Copyright © 2007 Adams & McElwain Publishers and Thomas McElwain First Published in two volumes, The Beloved and I 2005, and Led of the Beloved, 2006. Second Edition, 2010 Third and revised edition, 2012 All rights reserved. No part of this verse commentary on the sacred Scriptures may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in a retrieval system, in any form or by any means, without permission in writing from publisher.

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Exodus 5:5

Post  Thomas McElwain on Wed 01 Jan 2014, 05:14

The Hebrew verb shabbath is used in Exodus 5:5.

Thomas McElwain

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