Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Eek! (02/25/10)
TITLE: Days of Whine and Moses
By Kristi Peifer
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No one raises their voice in the great hall except Amenhotep. Who dares to try him?
Peering around a corner, Tiaa found her answer.
Ah, it is Moses. What nuisance does he bring now? Was the darkness not enough? My young Amenemhat still trembles when night falls.
Moses continued his tirade.
“All the firstborn sons will die in every family in Egypt, from the oldest son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the oldest son of the lowliest slave. Even the firstborn of the animals will die.”
What foolishness. Our exalted Isis would never allow that.
“Then a loud wail will be heard throughout the land of Egypt; there has never been such wailing before, and there never will be again.” Moses paused, letting his words sink in. “Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between the Egyptians and the Israelites.”
How could one raised in the home of a pharaoh say such things? To equate us with those…those slaves! Perhaps he was hit in the head by his own hailstorm. Hmph. Would serve him right, impudent oaf.
Moses persisted, unaware of the silent scolding.
“All the officials of Egypt will come running to me, bowing low. ‘Please leave!’ they will beg. ‘Hurry! And take all your followers with you.’ Only then will I go!”
Now Amenhotep will speak. Such brazenness will not go unpunished.
Moses, his face flush with angry determination, did not give the Pharaoh a chance to respond. He spun on his heel and barged through the lavish throne room doors, shoving the guards aside as though they were chaff to be scattered.
Incensed, Tiaa approached her husband.
“What insolence!” she spat. “Threatening the mighty Pharaoh Amenhotep! Does he think he wields the power of the gods?”
Amenhotep met his wife’s steely gaze. He let out a low snort, his disgust evident. “Let my people go, indeed.”
Night after night passed without incident. Not one firstborn son in the kingdom had so much as a hair out of place, yet, Amenhotep grew restless. He wandered the palace, reliving his exploits through the hieroglyphs on the walls. When he came to the story of the plagues he paused, running his fingers over the newly painted symbols.
Tiaa spoke softly. “Something troubles you?”
Startled, Amenhotep plunged his hand to his side.
“I did not know you were there.”
“I could not sleep.”
“Nor could I,” he confided. “Something is not right. Moses said…”
“This Moses again? He is nothing but an amateur magician! Our own magicians can do many of his tricks.”
“True, but look at the destruction his foolery has wrought!”
“He is no threat to you—a god!” The longer she spoke, the more shrill she became. “Surely you do not think he can harm all of Egypt’s firstborn with only a word?”
Amenhotep’s fury returned. “Leave Egypt? Ha! He should be thankful that he still has his head!”
“Yes, yes! This is the Amenhotep I know!” she purred. “No one defies you!”
“No one!” Amenhotep roared, intoxicated by his own magnificence. “Summon the captains of my armies!”
“What is your plan?” Tiaa asked, eyeing him approvingly. She relished the pure power emanating from her husband. It was nothing if not seductive.
“We will slaughter the Hebrew firstborn! Let us see how resolute Moses…”
His diatribe was cut short by an intense keening.
The sound of approaching footsteps assailed their ears. Half a dozen guards poured into the hallway, followed by Amenemhat’s nursemaid. She cradled the young prince’s lifeless body in her arms.
“What is the meaning of this?” Amenhotep thundered.
The nursemaid’s sobs rendered her answer unintelligible. “He’s…he’s…”
“Dead, your Highness,” a guard managed. “It’s a curse! Even the firstborn of your servants have succumbed!”
Tiaa stumbled to the nursemaid and snatched her cold progeny from the woman’s arms. “No! By Isis this can’t be…” She nestled Amenemhat’s small body against her breast and rocked him, her mind numb with shock.
Amenhotep watched in disbelief. Moses’ prophetic words roiled in his head, taunting him with their astonishing accuracy. “All the firstborn sons will die in every family in Egypt.” Sickening realization washed over him. He tumbled to his knees, his agony threatening to suffocate him.
“You,” he said, addressing a guard. “Tell Moses to take his people and leave Egypt. And make sure he takes his God with him!”
*Based on Exodus 10-13 (NLT)
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