I'll be honest from the start. I liked it in Egypt.
Yes we worked. And worked hard. But as a slurry master, I got a bit extra from the Egyptians as far as food rations and other items, to keep my workers happy and working, I spread some of what I got around to them. My crew was always mentioned as one of the most productive of all of the crews, as such, our overseers were less passionate with the whip. My family did quite well. We even had a girl come into our house to do chores for my wife and care for our children.
My children were learning my trade. My oldest was apprenticed to an Egyptian surveyor, another worked with me judging the mixture.
But some of my own people were jealous. They called me the 'Least of the Egyptians' or other things trying to make me angry. Occasionally I would loose my temper, once I became enraged at a worker that was shouting 'Little Pharaoh' at me, I had the guards beat him and throw him into the mud pit where he almost died under the flogging of a sadistic overseer.
Later I cried to our God in sorrow. I said I would do everything I could to never forget who I was again. I was Hebrew. Not Egyptian.
Then rumors began to run through the camps. A Hebrew that used to live in the palace of Pharaoh himself was working miracles and demanding his people, my people, be set free to return to the land of their fathers.
"Let my people go!" He had proclaimed to the son of light.
Pharaoh was not impressed.
Our workload was increased. We had no straw, even my best mix of slurry crumbled without the binding straw. The overseer laid on the whip. I felt its sting for the first time in years.
"Let my people go!"
Pharaoh refused time after time.
I watched the river turn to blood, we couldn't make bricks.
Frogs and bugs. The overseer's cattle died. We did not work for days on end, and as such, our food ran short.
A hail that even the great graybeards had never seen before swept over the land.
"This is the work of the God of Abraham." The old one said. "HE is with Moses. None of Pharaoh's priests of the false gods will be able to stand before Him."
As locusts swept over the land I wondered at all this.
I was a Hebrew, yes, but I had never found the God of our fathers of old that attractive. There were no temples to Him. There were no images of Him. The chief overseer had a god he brought to the work site with him. The image stared out over the pits and kilns watching us work.
The architect had a god for every project. We even referred to some of the orders we made by the name of the god that oversaw the building.
At times I had looked up at the figure and asked it to see to it there could be more clay in the mud that day.
But this, a darkness that you could taste. Wasn't Pharaoh the son of Ammon Ra? The sun itself? Couldn't he bring back the light? Or was he as the elders said, truly just a man.
Elders ran through the camps.
We were to slaughter a lamb. Then put its blood on our doorposts, then we were to roast it, and eat it in a hurry with our sandals on. I didn't understand this symbolism, if we were to leave. We would just leave.
One of the lessor ranking overseers stopped by my house as he left the camp when the sun sat across the desert.
"I wish to come with you but I do not have a lamb according to the word of your God." He said to me. "I no longer find anything in the gods of Egypt."
"Take this one. We will eat the meal but I don't think the blood on the door will do anything for us."
"But it is the word of your God."
"Well. Maybe, but we are Hebrews. That is enough."
He picked up the lamb and thanked me for it in the name of the God of Moses.
My wife didn't say anything, but I could see in her eyes she doubted my wisdom.
The night grew dark and still. The goat I had killed was sizzling on its spit as it roasted.
A cold spread through the land. You could feel the air grew heavy.
I turned the goat and picked up my sandals.
I will remember her scream forever.
"WHY DIDN'T YOU LISTEN TO THEM?"
I held my son on his bed. His breathing was slow. But there was peace in his eyes.
"IT WAS JUST A LITTLE BLOOD!"
My wife was on her knees by his bed, wailing. As mothers were wailing all over Egypt.
She leaned over to kiss his forehead as he trembled in the grasp of the Angel of Death. My heart seemed to stop with the words from his pale lips and the love in his eyes.
"My father." He said slowly, "I forgive him... the blood."
The coldness passed.
To be replaced by the crying of thousands.
"It is time to go." Somebody shouted beating on the door.
"I can't leave him." My wife cried holding his still body.
"He has left us. We must go." I said. Even though I was sick in body and soul, I knew, I knew for the first time in my life, the God of my father, and his father, all the way back to Simeon and Israel before him, HE, was GOD. There was no other god before HIM.
My other children were crying for their brother as we gathered at the door and fled into the night.
The overseer met us on the road as all the nation gathered and followed Moses.
"Your son?" He asked me.
I hung my head and said nothing.
"The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away." He said and put his arm around me.
Families joined groups, who joined companies, who joined tribes. All Israel was on the move.
But then Pharaoh was on the move as well.
All Egypt was raised.
An army was after us.
But Moses waded into the sea. He spoke to GOD, and...
"Truly there is a GOD with Israel." My former overseer said as we walked through the middle of the sea on dry land.
"Yes." I answered. "And I will never doubt it again."
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