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Moses - He Led Them Out
by Jim Vasquez
I cannot now recall the day,
I learned I was not he,
Whom I'd been raised to think I was,
With royal legacy,
And she who gently mothered me,
And taught to laugh and play,
Had not in toilsome birthing pains,
Brought me to light of day.
In Pharoah's palace did I dwell,
I called it home for years,
Secure and safe I felt myself,
And free of doubts and fears.
For she who mother was to me,
Was Pharoah's daughter and,
What riches would one day be mine,
In all of Egypt's land!
But somehow, then, I came to know,
Just when, I cannot say,
And from that time my life was changed,
And took a different way.
The babe of whom 'twas early said,
"A child of beauty rare,"
Was born of lowly parentage,
Of servitude an heir.
My people, then, were not the ones,
Who wealth and power did wield,
But worked in bricks and mortar and,
Were mowers in the field.
And then I learned our history,
So turbulent and grand,
And knew that God's own mighty arm,
Had brought us to this land.
For Joseph as a slave began,
But then one day he reigned,
And made a place for all his kin,
Who've since that day remained.
How wrong it thus appeared to me,
That they should all be slaves,
And find themselves released at last,
When only in their graves.
And why would destiny then choose,
That I should find a place,
In Pharoah's home, among his heirs,
And not with my own race?
And so within me grew a hope,
That all my greed did tame,
I knew my fate was not within,
Those ivoried halls of fame.
I sought, then, how to justify,
A better life for those,
In need of ransom from their chains,
And from their plight, repose.
It was a short time following,
The very kind I longed for was,
Presented thus to me.
A man I saw, Egyptian, who,
With hefty staff of oak,
Was then about to take the life,
Of one of my kinfolk.
And confident I was not seen,
I quickly drew my knife,
And with a single, slashing stroke,
I ended there his life.
But hopes within were not to be,
So easily obtained,
Nor was my favor 'mongst my clan,
So quickly to be gained.
For he whom I defended there,
Made sure the word was spread,
And Pharoah, hearing, was outraged,
And me he wanted dead.
And what was left for me to do?
I fled the place that night,
And begging not my leave to take,
To Midian made my flight.
And there I settled and was wed,
A son was born to me,
I put my people out of mind,
And all their misery.
But God was not forgetful of,
Just how His people groaned,
He'd made a covenant with them,
And still His promise owned.
Then one day as I took the flock,
To feed on distant mount,
I saw a flaming bush and turned,
To see this rare account.
And from that bush a Voice did speak,
I knew it was the Lord,
As if the whole creation called,
And all the heavens roared.
"Moses! Moses," was He calling,
From out that dreadful sight,
I heard the Voice but saw no form,
Midst blazing, radiant light.
And there He spoke and called me back,
His people to redeem,
My diffidence and all my doubts,
He little did esteem.
For quick was I to name my flaws,
No spokesman had I been,
While in the royal palace nor,
Among my very kin.
But finally when my words were done,
My will at last subdued,
I set my course for Egypt's land,
With heart so weak and crude.
And in His goodness God allowed,
To be a voice for me,
My brother Aaron who my words,
Would utter faithfully.
And so it was, that fateful day,
On Horeb's verdant slopes,
God moved His people to redeem,
Fulfilling all their hopes.
A donkey served my wife and sons,
When we set out that day,
I walked ahead with staff in hand,
At dawn's first piercing ray.
That staff, a simple thing as I,
Held firmly to its heft,
Would leave in wonder Pharoah's men,
And of their power, bereft.
For God had promised by His might,
To lead our people out,
From Egypt to a fruitful land,
And Pharoah's army rout.
And thus it was, as I appeared,
Before great Pharoah's throne,
And wonders wrought of every kind,
By God's sure power alone.
And mighty Egypt then was brought,
To lowly, bended knee,
As slaughter and destruction reigned,
That all the world could see.
For blood filled every stream and cup,
Their water and their ale,
And beasts of every kind were lost,
To storms of deadly hail.
And frogs, and gnats, and flies were brought,
And painful boils to curse,
But Pharoah still did not relent,
And then things went the worse.
Now all this time my words to him,
If he would end this woe,
Were that from bondage he set free,
And let my people go.
And then one night, at midnight 'twas,
An angel passed us o'er,
For well prepared he found us then,
With blood on every door.
But those without this sign that night,
Were visited by him,
This dark angelic messenger,
This reaper stark and grim.
For as each family woke that morn,
When sunlight stirred the sky,
A mournful wail pierced the air,
That reached to heaven high.
They found their firstborn silent there,
Just as had been foretold,
In fateful, changeless grip of death,
Midst cov'rings still and cold.
And finally Pharoah ordered that,
We leave the land in haste,
For quite enough he'd had of us,
With all the blight he faced.
You should have seen us on the march,
A nation, rich and proud!
And God Himself before us went,
In cryptic, awesome cloud.
We wanted not for gold or jewels,
Our masters we despoiled,
We thought it just, as payment for,
The years that we had toiled.
We left the land for battle fit,
The armaments we wore,
Against all enemies we met,
Would give a lively war.
And Joseph's bones we carried high,
That ancient man of God,
For he had wished a burial,
In promised, foreign sod.
And then amazement filled my heart,
For God commanded me,
To lead His people toward the east,
And straight into the sea!
"Lift high your staff," that voice proclaimed,
"You will see divided,
This sea of waters and a safe,
Pathway I've provided."
And with the waters swirling 'bout,
We crossed on barren land,
Till safely on the other side,
And there we took our stand.
For Pharoah angrily had sent,
His army in pursuit,
We heard the rush of chariots,
Each soldier's tramping boot.
For he had seen that open course,
Through furious sea around,
But God collapsed those watery walls,
And every soldier drowned.
And then was victory complete,
O'er him who had enslaved,
Our people who his wrath endured,
And his outrages braved.
We celebrated well that day,
With hearts in joyful praise,
Midst relics of a host destroyed,
Th' obedient sea did raise.
And Miriam with tambourine,
Led women in a song,
Of adoration to our God,
Entreating all our throng,
To lift glad voices with these words,
"Let Him exalted be,
Who horse and rider overthrew,
And hurled into the sea."
And then I thought such favor shown,
Our undeserving race,
Would surely bring our hearts to Him,
Forever to embrace.
We'd seen God's might as few had seen,
Our lessons we'd learned well,
And now the promised land did wait,
Where we were bound to dwell.
for part two of this poem, click here
from the March Passover 2002 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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