Retold: Let my people go. From Exodus

Ripening barley, by the River Deben

Thank you for following my journey through Exodus.

We live in turbulent times, times of great change. Through pandemic – plague, perhaps – and economic and social upheaval. Patterns of work are shifting, and many are seeking liberation from injustice – some long established, others growing insideously and out of sight. I feel the ancient story of Exodus has wisdom for us in our current crisis, and so I’m exploring the story through poetry, seeking to sink deep into it with my heart and imagination, and to study it with my mind. A series of poems is growing on this blog, and you can find the first of them here.

To sit alongside these poems, I’m also posting some extracts from my book, The Bible Story Retold in Twelve Chapters, its prose offering a counterpoint to the poetry. I use a similar way of working for both poems and prose – I study the original text, research, use my mind, and then I sink into contemplative and imaginative prayer, seeking to enter into the story, and see it through those different eyes.

This next small extract tells the story of Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh, which is echoed in the two poems, Bricks without straw. You can read the first here.

You can read Exodus Chapter 5, on which both the poems and the retelling draw, here.

Let my People Go

Moses and Aaron entred the soaring splendour of Pharaoh’s court to face the most powerful man on earth.
“The God of Israel has said, ‘Let my people go: they must hold a festival to me in the wilderness……..'”
“Who is this ‘god’ of yours?” asked Pharaoh, who was worshipped as a god himself in Egypt.
“The God of my people, the Israelites. Please let us go into the wilderness….”
“So, you slaves want a holiday, do you? Trying to get out of work again! You’re not going anywhere!”
As Moses and Aaron left, they heard the instructions Pharaoh was giving to the slave masters. “Don’t give them any straw – they still have to make mud bricks, just as many as before, but they’ll have to collect their own straw to hold them together. If there’s any slacking, hit them as hard as you like!” The slave masters smiled cruelly.
The slaves, beaten and bruised, came to see Moses and Aaron. “Now look what you’ve done! Call this a rescue plan?”
Shaken, Moses prayed to God for help – and God spread out his plan before Moses, reminding him of all his promises to his people, and of the good land that would be their home.
“Go on, prove it then!” roared Pharaoh, the next time Moses and Aaron came before him. “If your ‘god’ has power, let’s see it!”
So Aaron threw down his staff and it turned, hissing, into a snake. Pharaoh summoned his own magicians, who performed the same marvel Aaron’s snake swallowed up the others, but still Pharaoh would not listen. And that was only the beginning.

From The Bible Story Retold in Twelve Chapters

And a prayer

Lord of Heaven and Earth, who was a friend to the slaves of Egypt, and heard their cries, we pray for all those whose lives are crushed by hard labour, by injustice, and lack of freedom. Where we carry these burdens in our own lives, we cry out, and ask that you heed our cries, as you did theirs.

We are sorry for the ways we participate in systems which are unjust, and do not lead to the flourishing of all. We ask that you help us participate in the prayer and work of your kingdom coming on Earth, as in Heaven. We pray that each day we may do justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with you.
Amen

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micha 6:8

Thank you for spending time with me on this journey today.

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