It had been years since he had allowed himself to think about her. Over the years he had forced himself to stop. Stop loving her. Stop longing for her to come back. What nonsense he had allowed himself to believe. Jochebed was nothing but a slave. He had allowed himself to be drawn into the mystery and fantasy so much so that he had lost touch with reality. But reality has a way of slapping you in the face to remind you who’s boss.
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It wasn’t until one day he had snuck into goshen in the early morning light. It had become a habit. He would sneak out in the early morning and had began to go to the places of worship – the temples – with the Hebrew slaves as their God called him deeper and deeper.
That is where his walk with this strange God began. He became familiar with the concept of the one God of many faces and names which was a direct contradiction to the ways of his people the Egyptians who had many gods, each one to fulfill a different need and sometimes even for a different demographic. The Hebrews seemed archaic and backwards as they postrated themselves before their God and served Him. Conversely, the Egyptians and most “modern” civilizations he had been exposed to prostituted themselves in front of their gods exchanging mortal treasures for life everlasting and their souls for pleasures in this life. There was almost a foolishness to the illogical faith of the Hebrews but at the same time they seemed more content than the intellectual religious practices of his people.
And so he learned to worship. He was never brave enough to offer sacrifices – wasn’t this after all the great God of wrath who rained fire and brimstone on his people? And that was when he learnt that names had meanings and that those meanings were assigned to one’s purpose. This was still a concept he struggled with but decided not to fight too much. He wasn’t ready to hear from this God who apparently spoke and terror filled the soul.
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But out of curiosity, he learned that Jochebed was “the glory of Jehovah” – that made sense because there was something in her that reflected some ethereal being. Even as a slave she seemed more dignified and graceful than her mistress, his mother. He later came to discover that the name by which she had called him, משה or Mashah or Moses – meant DRAWN FROM THE RIVER – He always wondered about that – but not anymore.
It all stopped the day he was forced to confront his future. That day early in the morning when he was drawn to the banks of the Nile for no particular reason. That morning he was restless and felt that the lapping of the waves would calm him. He asked his security detail to wait a distance away as he knelt by the Nile. He had moved far off from every human soul and was in a restful state when he heard someone crying softly. He looked up and locked eyes with Jochebed. She watched him from a distance as she wept silently – or so she thought. She startled him with how old she looked. And how tired she appeared. It wasn’t so much physical fatigue but one of the soul. The gaze was almost hypnotic and he found it hard to break it. His mind told him to run to her and hug her but his status as a prince and his pride as a man wouldn’t. When his heart finally won the battle, he began to stride towards her purposefully. She seemed scared at first but did not move. Just as he got to her, his heart pounding and his soul singing, a young woman jumped in front of him blocking his access. She called him a dog and a coward. She told him he had no right and that he was not worth the cloth he had been wrapped in. It took him a few minutes to realize that this was Miriam. His limited Hebrew told him she was laughing at him and mocking him. In no time at all more slaves had gathered and began to mock him as well. And in a flash the Egyptian soldiers were upon them, flogging and whipping non-discreetly. He was torn. Ashamed as a prince and a man but broken as a little boy and a gentleman. He managed to restrain his soldiers but blood had been spilled and in the melee Jochebed had disappeared. His heart hardened further towards Miriam, and over the years towards the ignorance of the slaves even while he tried to fight for them.
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The crack of a whip brought the Prince back to reality. He quickly pushed the memories away and buried them deep in the crevices of his mind. He turned to seek out the source of the whip and found a loud argument ensuing between two Egyptian slave masters. Both of them were claiming a slave and from what he could see, it was because his work was exemplary and his pile was high. He quickly broke the argument apart and after hearing both sides, ruled in the favor of one and sent them both off. As he rode off, the second man followed him and angrily confronted him.
This happened often. He mostly passed through the work fields alone unlike other members of the royal family who caused a stampede just passing from one side of the land to the other. Because of this, most people assumed he was a task master like them. He continued to walk but the man would not be appeased. As they entered a narrow deserted alley the man grabbed him and pushed him against a wall. Knowing his training in hand to hand combat and not wanting to make a scene he gently shoved him off and attempted to continue moving. This only angered the man who drew a knife and lashed out angrily. Again he shoved the man and before he knew it he was in the thick of a fight. He had under estimated the man both in strength and stealth and they struggled for a while. He felt blood as the knife nicked his throat and backed up into a corner. The man looked at him and the next words out of this stranger’s mouth shocked him – “What kind of a prince worships with slaves? You are not a man – you deserve to die like the slaves you so love!”
And in that moment, as he read the hatred in the man’s eyes, he realized that only one of them would walk away from this encounter alive. It was as if a switch had been flipped. And as he straightened him back and cleansed his fists, he was determined that it was going to be him.
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BEAUTIFUL – EMPOWERED – VISIONARY