Moses and the Jewish People


Moses: At Sinai's Peak

by Jim Vasquez

(Note: this is part 2, for part 1, click here )

"Now who among the gods is there,
Who with the Lord may stand?
Who has his people freed from bonds,
And brought them to this land?

"The Lord unchallenged reigns on high,
Exalted o'er each god,
His people sing his praise today,
And will forever laud.

"For there is none like you, O Lord,
The sword you swiftly drew,
And our pursuing enemy,
In surging waters slew."

And so we joyfully did sing,
On that triumphant day,
And I was sure a smoother path,
Before our footsteps lay.

In spite of all the battles that,
I knew awaited us,
With God beside I was quite sure,
We'd be victorious.

But little did I realize,
That from the ranks within,
Another foe would raise its head,
And he would be our kin.

So praise turned into groaning when,
Just three days had gone by,
"What are we now to drink?" they cried,
"You've led us here to die!"

And in the desert we made camp,
And there they all did yearn,
For flesh pots, leeks and onions and,
To Egypt's land return.

And kindly God gave ear to them,
He promised that each morn,
A frost-like cov'ring 'neath the dew,
Would all the ground adorn.

And manna did we call it for,
It served us well as bread,
For forty years we gathered it,
And on this portion fed.

And then by eve God promised, too,
Our needs he'd surely meet,
And thus throughout our camp did he,
Rain quail at our feet!

The burden on my shoulders soon,
Was more than I could bear,
The people brought their problems and,
With no one did I share,

The work of judging, dawn to dusk,
And how it wearied me!
Till Jethro came to visit and,
He spoke advisedly.

"It is not good what you are doing,
Appoint trustworthy men,
Who, fearing God, will take your place,
And give you respite, then."

My father-in-law was this man,
Intelligent and good,
I took his counsel and since then,
Have governed as I should.

Then all the people gathered at,
Mt. Sinai's foot and there,
Midst thunder, lightening, billowing smoke,
And trumpet's clamorous blare,

The Lord appeared in awesome fire,
Descending in a cloud,
With lustrous splendor wrapped around,
And radiant light his shroud.

And from within that wondrous sight,
God called aloud to me,
And straightway to Mt. Sinai's peak,
I fearfully did flee.

And these commandments God revealed,
His will for all the men,
The women and the children, too,
Now hear, for there are ten:

"You shall not have another god,
Before me or beside,
In my name only render praise,
In me alone confide.

"For by my power I gathered you,
Throughout that vast domain,
And brought you out of Egypt's land,
And did your hopes sustain.

"No idol shall you worship and,
No graven image make,
Of any form in heav'n or earth,
And thus your pledge forsake.

"A God of jealousy am I,
Who visits fathers' sin,
For generations after them,
On their most distant kin.

"But also showing plenteous love,
To those who keep my ways,
In boundless blessings all outpoured,
For untold, ceaseless days.

"The Lord will not hold guiltless those,
Who take his name in vain,
Misusing it in careless speech,
To vulgar favor gain.

"Now heav'n and earth, the sea and all,
That's found within their bounds,
In six days God created and,
Thus all his praise resounds.

"The seventh, though, a holy day,
Shall be a day of rest,
For after God had made the world,
The sabbath, then, he blessed.

"And you shall thus remember it,
Six days he gives to you,
For all the labors of your hands,
The work you need to do.

"But on the seventh you shall rest,
And all your servants, too,
Your cattle, sheep and every beast,
And all those born to you.

"Your parents shall you honor well,
And show them all respect,
Then may you in the land I give,
Increase of days expect.

"You shall not murder nor shall you,
Commit adultery,
Let man and wife themselves entrust,
And do so faithfully.

"You shall not take what is not yours,
Nor shall you vainly swear,
Against unwitting neighbor and,
False testimony bear.

"Nor shall you covet what he owns,
However God increased,
Within his land or far without,
His wife or house or beast."

Now as God spoke to me these words,
His glory was revealed,
While lightening pierced great clouds of smoke,
Which thus his presence sealed.

The people trembled and in fear,
With voices grave and awed,
Implored that I myself would speak,
But not the voice of God.

I told them that to test them God,
Had made himself thus known,
For fear would curb their bent to sin,
The fear of God alone.

And then I hastened up the mount,
For God was not yet through,
Relating all he'd have us know,
And what he'd have us do.

Through unknown wilderness ahead,
God promised for our way,
To guide us to the promised land,
An angel day by day.

But then far more it meant to hear,
"My Presence I will lend,
To go with you and give you rest,
Until your journey's end."

And God had other things to say,
To vouchsafe our success,
And how we were to worship him,
There in the wilderness.

A tabernacle we would build,
A place for him to dwell,
His presence then would be assured,
Whatever us befell.

And priests we'd have to stand between,
Our people and our God,
To offer sacrifice when we,
An errant pathway trod.

An ark we'd carry on the way,
Containing Aaron's rod,
That budded when he cast it forth,
And Pharoah's minions awed.

And also manna that would feed,
Our hungry mouths so long,
Each morn appearing with the dew,
To keep alive our throng.

Above the ark and made of gold,
Two cherubim would be,
With wings outspread and lifted high,
Where God would meet with me.

And feasts he gave us to observe,
And laws to govern us,
That he might bless us in his ways,
And make us prosperous.

Oh, yes, I heard the voice of God,
Up there on Sinai's peak,
And all my soul did quake within,
As he to me did speak.

And then one day he said to me,
"Haste to your people now,
For other gods they've made themselves,
To which they pray and bow.

"And so I will be done with them,
My ways they did forsake,
And Moses I, a nation great,
Will of your offspring make."

And trembling as I heard his voice,
I ventured then to speak,
I who am naught but dust and ash,
With words so plain and weak.

"My Lord," I said, "will you forget,
The fathers of our clan,
Your chosen, blest and honored ones,
With whom our tribe began?

"For to your servant Abraham,
The promise was revealed,
And thus you made a covenant,
That with an oath was sealed.

"And Isaac as the promised son,
Was born in seasoned year,
And following in his father's steps,
Your holy name did fear,

"And Israel, too, from whom is ours,
The name by which we're known,
Who by his sons did father us,
When all his seed was sown."

And I did plead so urgently,
That God would turn aside,
His anger from his people and,
Once more in peace abide,

That mercifully God said he would,
Relent from all his ire,
And turn from breaking out on them,
For how they did conspire.

And then I hastened to return,
I'd been away too long,
And as I neared my people's tents,
I heard the sound of song.

But not a celebration of,
The goodness of our God,
Those sounds were not the ones I knew,
But frenzied, strained and odd.

And quickly I discovered why,
For round a fire bright,
I found them dancing fev'rishly,
As Godless pagans might.

And there in sight of all to see,
A calf of gold displayed,
And lifting high unholy hands,
They worshipped it and prayed,

While singing lustily as one,
And whirling all about,
"These are the gods, O Israel,
From Egypt brought you out!"

(part 2 of 3 parts) for part three (click here)

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