Moses: slave, prince, fugitive, freedom fighter, revolutionary leader.

Moses was born into slavery. He was born into a Hebrew family living in Egypt. At that time the Israelites (as they were called) had practically no rights. They had so few rights that an Egyptian man could walk into their home and take away their baby boy to be thrown into the Nile river- by decree of the king (Pharaoh)!

Moses Dad was called Amram. Moses’ mom was called Jochebed. When she had Moses, she decided he was too beautiful and special to be wasted on Nile crocodile cuisine. She decided to risk her life and her family’s by hiding baby Moses. She already had two children, Aaron her son aged 3, and Miriam the resourceful big sister, but baby Moses was no less precious. When Moses was three months old, Jochebed realised she could no longer hide him. Someone could easily hear him cry, or worse still, spy him in her house.

She put him in a special baby ark basket made from reeds and covered with tar so it could float. She placed it among the tall grass on the edge of the Nile river, while big sis’ Miriam kept watch. Soon enough, Princess Pharaoh came for her bath. Naturally she spotted the ark in the grass. When she looked inside, she saw this gorgeous baby crying and her heart went out to him.

Clever Miriam was on hand to point Princess Pharaoh in the direction of a good nanny (baby nurse). So Moses’ Mom, Jochebed got paid to be his nanny for the first few years of his life. When he was old enough to move to the palace, the Pharaoh Princess adopted him as her own son. That is how Moses, who was born a slave, became a prince. He would be the only Hebrew boy in his age-group to have escaped being tossed into the river at birth. All his friends at school would either be Egyptian or if they were Hebrew and lucky enough to be at school, probably older or maybe younger than him.

Young Moses grew up seeing his fellow Israelites oppressed although he himself had a privileged life as a royal prince. His heart burned with the injustices against his people, the Israelites. So one day when he saw an Egyptian beating up an Israelite man, he killed the Egyptian aggressor. Unfortunately his heroic act was neither lauded by the Israelites nor forgiven by his adopted Grandfather the Pharaoh. So poor Moses, now a fugitive, had to run away from his home country Egypt.

He eventually ended up in the Midianite country. Through his act of kindness in defending some women trying to get water for their father’s sheep, he found a place to live. The owner of the sheep and father to the female shepherds was called Jethro. He was the Midianite priest. He was so impressed with Moses that he let him marry one of his daughters who was called Zipporah. Now Moses had a home, a family and a job but his heart still pulled him towards his people the Hebrews who were suffering as slaves in Egypt. Moses called his first son Gershom, which means ‘foreigner’.

Eventually the Pharaoh who was after Moses died and a new king was appointed in Egypt. Moses would no longer be a wanted man. His people, the Hebrews were having a very hard time as slaves in Egypt. They were beaten and worked very hard with little or no rewards. They prayed to God to save them from slavery and God heard them. God appeared to Moses in a burning bush. It was a strange sight for a bush to be on fire but not burn up. God spoke to Moses and told him to go and rescue his people from the king of Egypt. Moses was having none of it. ‘I’m not important enough to go and speak with the King. Plus, you know I stutter a bit, I’m definitely not eloquent’ he said.

God reassured Moses that he would be with him to help him speak. After all God was the one who made Moses, including his mouth and tongue! God also revealed his name to Moses, Yahweh, which means ‘God lives always and he is with us’. Still Moses refused. God was angry that Moses wouldn’t listen, but he decided to send Aaron along with Moses to be his mouthpiece. Finally Moses agreed to go and confront Pharaoh, armed with his walking stick which God had shown him how to turn into a snake! He also had another miraculous sign of changing his hand to diseased and back again to normal, to show everyone. Just in case that wasn’t convincing enough, he now knew how to turn water into blood.

Moses went to Pharaoh as instructed and the dramatic events unfolded. Moses was 80 years old and Aaron was 83 when they spoke to the king. Pharaoh the king was not interested in listening to Moses and Aaron or the God who sent them. He remained as proud and obstinate as ever through sign after sign performed by Moses. ‘A stick turning into a snake? Why my magicians can do that too. Never mind that your snake swallowed all of ours. So you turned the Nile river to blood and caused frogs to come up? Look at my magicians doing similar things!’. On the third plague, Moses caused gnats to cover the land of Egypt. The magicians conceded defeat. ‘This is the finger of God’ they said. Pharaoh wasn’t moved.

Moses commanded the fourth plague, flies everywhere. This time the flies only went to the places the Egyptians lived. The region of Goshen within Egypt where the Israelites lived was infestation free. Just as with the other plagues, the king would ask Moses to pray to remove the awful plague, promising to free the Israelites. Each time he would renege on his promises as soon as the plague disappeared. There were deaths of the Egyptian animals, boils on their skin, deadly hailstorms, with terrifying thunder, devastating hail and continuous lightning! Next a swarm of locusts ate up all the farm produce in the land. Then a tangible darkness, thick enough to feel, spread over the land for three days.

The slave-master nation of Egypt had been decimated, first thorough ill- health, then through its economic destruction and ultimately through an attack on the protagonists’ mental health. They were receiving the punishment for their continued resistance to God’s commands and their incessant oppression of his people. The very last plague was the death of all the firstborn sons in Egypt. The Israelite children would be spared by marking their door posts with the blood of a lamb. If you remember, not 80 years before, the Egyptians were killing all the baby boys born to the Israelites. Finally Pharaoh bowed to the superior power of the Almighty God. He let his people the Israelites leave Egypt. They left Egypt with every member of their families, their animals and also gifts of gold, silver and precious clothing articles from their former masters. It was like being paid in arrears for the centuries of slavery they and their ancestors had endured from the Egyptians.


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