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The Finger of God

June 25, 2014

This week’s article is an excerpt from my book Until My Name Is Known. God has removed the frog plague but has not forgotten His people.

Pharaoh expects Egypt’s Chief High Priest Badru to compete with the Israelite’s God Who comes to show His Power. Sacmis is Badru’s wife.


The frogs returned to the Nile. The people continued to worship the gods that they made. However, the Lord had not forgotten the suffering of His people nor His request for His people to worship Him. He commanded Moses to appear unto Pharaoh again.

****

Badru stood beside Pharaoh and the vizier at the Nile as the sun rose over the horizon. He shifted his feet as his sandals sloshed and stuck in the muck. When he struggled to lift his foot, he glanced at the puddle of mud his foot formed. Although he was relieved that the frogs were gone, he wished the smashed sprouted rye would spring back to life to absorb the mud. He had thought that a moon’s cycle would take away the effects of the frogs, but it did not. Holding his breath to avoid smelling the decaying matter, he quickly lit the incense held on poles stuck in the ground. He inhaled the scent of the myrrh.

When he heard Pharaoh’s exasperated sigh, he followed Pharaoh’s gaze to see Moses and Aaron approaching. Badru cringed as they came near. What would they bring? The guards parted to allow their approach. Moses stood once again before Pharaoh.

“The God of the Hebrews has sent me. You have failed in letting His people sacrifice, just as the Lord predicted. The Lord commanded that I strike the ground.” He stretched out his staff and hit the dirt before him.

Before Badru’s eyes, a swarm of black specks rose from the place where Moses touched the ground. A cloud concentrated before the men for a brief moment, as if testing the air to find where to go. Then it drifted over the people. The black specks descended upon him. He flung his arms, protecting his face, but they covered him.

The specks prickled his flesh and urged him to scratch. He looked to Pharaoh.

Pharaoh hesitated only a moment before he called his magicians.

Badru stepped in front of Pharaoh. Any movement he made magnified his desire to scratch. He put his hands into fists at his sides and willed himself not to scratch. He dreaded the words he knew would come from Pharaoh’s mouth.

“Show this God of Moses what our gods can do.”

Badru swallowed with difficulty. He knew of no spell to make lice.

He considered the other magicians. They bowed their heads; none looked him in the eye. He shook his head at their lack of help. He cleared his throat and raised his head to see Pharaoh’s expression of expectation.

He groaned inwardly. Glancing at the horizon, he wondered how fast he could run from Pharaoh’s wrath, but instead, he kneeled on the ground before him. The repugnant smell of decay filled his nostrils while his knees sank deeper in the oozing mud. His white tunic absorbed the mud, as a hollowed reed would suck up water. He coughed to regain fresh air.

“Oh mighty Pharaoh. We give you our lives.” He stopped Wrong choice of words. “We give you our works that called blood and snakes and frogs, but to bring lice from dust can only come from the finger of God.”

The other magicians also dropped to their knees before Pharaoh. They murmured their agreement with Badru’s words.

Badru mustered his courage to raise his head.

Pharaoh stared at him. His face masked any emotion.

Badru sat back on his knees and rubbed his prickling arms. Fear of Pharaoh’s response helped him ignore the itching.

Was their power crumbling? Where was Geb, the god of the earth, in charge of the underworld? Why would he not help his very magicians, the instruments of his worship, to produce lice like this other God?

From what source did this God get His power? If Badru did not even know from where the power came, how could he appease this God?

Badru watched Pharaoh stalk toward his palace without another word. Badru struggled to his feet and hurried to the temple where he could be one with his ka and the ka of the gods. He would search again for the answers.

When he reached the entrance of the temple, he scratched the itches that covered his body. He could not enter. He was unclean. He scratched more in frustration.

The answers must wait until the Hebrews’ God decided to remove the lice. Then Badru would purify himself and enter the temple. His life would once again be ordered and in his control.

****

When he arrived home, Sacmis met him at the door. “Did Moses see Pharaoh again?” She scratched at her arms. “Why don’t you show his God the power of Egypt?” Her eyes narrowed as if Badru had personally caused her to have lice.

“This is the finger of Moses’s God.”

“His finger?” she screamed. “This God’s finger controls all Egypt, telling us to scratch, making frogs jump in my food and cover my bed, taking away my water and giving me blood? This God’s finger has more power than all the gods of Egypt do? Can’t you cast a spell and take away His power?”

Badru looked at her, openmouthed. Sacmis had always supported his power and his position. What had caused her to turn against him?

Before he could wonder further, she continued. “I ate with the priests’ wives yesterday. Do you know what they suggest? Perhaps your power has dried up and another magician would show Egypt’s power to this Hebrew God. They even thought that we should move to the craftsmen section of town, where we could better support a lower lifestyle.” She huffed and paced the entryway.

No magician knew how to make lice fall on people or livestock. If Badru did not make the incense and perform the sacrifices, who would? He had looked into her eyes and had seen sparks. She believed the women. He would not dissuade her.

If this were just the finger of God, of what would His entire power be capable?

Badru did not want to know.

 

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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