Monday, 9 March 2015

Inky, Smothering Blackness

 Check the accompanying pages for the first two parts of this story. 

 “Dathan, you’re back, you survived!” Rebaethaih sobbed wildly as she flung herself into her husband’s arms. Dathan patted the slim, trembling woman for a long time before her sobs eventually subsided.
“I can’t stand these horrible, horrible plagues,” she gulped. “I’m always so afraid of what will come next. “Oh why is it happening to us, why? Why? Has anything so awful happened in Egypt before? First the flies, then the locusts, and the bloody, bloody river. Oh, I can’t even keep track of what order they came in anymore! Dathan will we survive?—What will the Hebrew god do to us next before—“
“Rebaethaih, hush, you must not be so frantic in front of the children. You are terrifying them.”
          “But-“Then Rebaethaih swallowed her words by clasping her hands over her mouth… her eyes were bulging with fear.
“How did you all manage?” he asked while gently drawing circles on her back.
Manage? We didn’t manage. “We groped around until we found each other and then huddled beside Grandpa.”
“But at least you were safe.”
Safe. “Oh, Dathan how did you manage to keep safe? I expected you would be half way home when the, the darkness fell. Did you, d-did you wander off towards the Nile?”
“No, honey, I did not wander off, in fact I didn’t even leave my work site.”
He squatted down beside the fire pit and stirred the dying coals.
“Remember Eliab; the Hebrew slave that I’ve chatted with sometimes when he comes to pick up bags of corn to deliver to the palace?”
Rebaethaih nodded and hunkered down also. She needed to be close to him at this terrifying time. Their children hovered near, small and frightened.
Dathan found a barely smoldering coal buried deep and blew gently on it. Salke knew he should fetch some kindling but was unwilling to leave the comparative safety of the family circle. He took his little sister by the hand and together they ventured off but quickly returned with a few sticks. Their Daddy nodded in approval.
Soon Dathan continued. “Eliab knew he should be in a hurry because he had a ruthless taskmaster but he stopped to have a quiet word with me.
“Don’t be in a haste to go home tomorrow,” he whispered urgently. “Another plague is predicted; darkness will fall over the whole of Egypt. You’ll be safe if you stay the night here.”
          “How long will it last?” I asked.
As Eliab hoisted the heavy bag on his shoulder, he glanced around quickly to see if anyone was listening. Many people either hated or fear the Israelites.
          “I know not,” he admitted, “Just heed my command and you will be well.”
I watched him go then hurried off to my job, pondering how to handle the situation. I refilled my water bottle and pretended to be busy later when people wandered off for the day. Fortunately no one questioned me about not leaving also.          The darkness fell more suddenly than I had expected, and it was thick, thicker than a blanket. I heard much screaming, mutterings and cursing.”
They both reached out to their tearful children and cuddled them close.
“I was glad to have my water bottle on my belt. It was like a form of security.”
Rebaethaih leaned her head against his shoulder.  
“Pretty soon,” Dathan continued, “I noticed there was an opening between two buildings where I could see a natural twilight. Far on the horizon there were lights moving here and there and I knew that in the Israelite camp they once again hadn’t been smitten.”
Rebaethaih placed a pot of beans on top of the now smoldering coals and stirred them absently. “Would that we could be one of them,” she muttered.
Grandpa seemed to know what she had said although he was nearly stone deaf.
“Get such foolish wickedness out of your heart,” he rasped. “We have our gods, and them will we serve.”
Rebaethaih looked nervously at the old man then bent her head closer to her husband’s, “Aye, but these evils that befall us seem to mock every type of  idol that we worship. “
Dathan nodded and said in a hushed voice, “I will learn more of Eliab’s god and his ways.”
“Cursed be any man who strays from the beliefs of his fathers.” Grandpa’s voice seemed surprisingly strong for a change. He tried to raise himself up by his elbows but fell back down. “I will call curses upon you if you entertain evil thoughts.”
The group fell silent as they waited for the warmed over beans.

Early the next morning, just as the dawn made it light enough for Dathan to make his way between the mud-brick buildings, his youthful wife watched him go. She hoped that whoever those foreign neighbours worshipped, would keep him safe. Please help him to find out more about Eliab’s God.
Are there calamities in your life also? Would you like a safe haven, a Heavenly Father to cling to, to guide you? Trust in Jesus, He will bring you to the Father where you can find forgiveness, freedom and safety.

Don’t run off too far. I’m planning to post again soon.