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Exodus15:27 says,"And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.
What is the significance of this sentence? Does it point out that Moses, on his way to Midian,had also been there?
The Sun was at its scorching peak, beating relentlessly on the soft shimmering desert sand. Centuries of Sun and wind worked persistently turning out the once fertile land to endlessly shifting stretching sand, forever changing landscapes.
Not a single insect or a creeping creature dared to risk come out of the shadows to peep out on the burning sand.
Silence so deafening that a cracking rock somewhere deep in the desert due to the intense heat, sends an echo through the length and breath, to and fro till it dies suddenly as it had started.
It’s only the soft crawling sound through the boulders on the treacherous terrain, scampering the snug scorpions and the snakes around, as a sturdy young man tries to seek water and rest, which broke the silence. The young man was crawling, as his feet were blistered and bleeding, the sandals having worn out long time back.
The clothes adorning the man, is worn by an Egyptian prince as the royal ring and other adornments dispensed long time back, with only the faded purple robe marking out royalty. The purple robe which took the brunt of many a sand storm, shielding the young man against heat, dust and the hot swirling wind, is the only hope to survive the perilous trudge through the sinking sand.
The sun soaked face, the determined chin, the elaborate planning which made him perspire, leaving large beads on the forehead and the hard breathing, suggesting that the human instinct for survival is strong.
With prayer on his lips and hope in his heart, he knew that the God which his forefathers had worshiped, is with him. He is a blessed person, a child of God; one who was saved from sure death as the Pharaoh had commanded that all new born male children should be cast into the river. He was the child who was taken out from the waters of the river Nile named Moses, meaning ‘drawn from out of the water’ and brought up as an Egyptian Prince, in the house of Pharaoh.
It was the same God who is guiding him now from sure death as he escaped from the Pharaoh, who discovered that he had murdered an Egyptian overseer. Moses knew many an escaped slave who were captured and killed before they could cross the treacherous desert by the Egyptian soldiers. The Egyptian army, the most advanced in the world, has well trained soldiers in the desert warfare and knew, the many escape routes through the scorching shifting sand and can catch up even if many days had passed.
Moses, a trained soldier, knew the route to the nearest watering hole and was determined to reach it before the desert heat and exhaustion made it unfeasible.
Only when the heat became intolerable did he rest under a rock’s shadow waiting for the Sun to slow its blistering heat.
The Sun had set long time back casting eerie long shadows; as Moses slept soundly till the harsh whistle of a desert bird woke him. The night had swept in swiftly and as the sky was bereft of any stars it became dark, as the bone chilling cold wind blew, that only a large rock, stone or a large sand mound can stop the whistling chilling wind
Thirsty and hungry, he looked at the desert plants for that thirst quenching dew which would cool his parched lips. He never noticed his bruised hands as long his thirst was quenched by the wet leaves and the sore feet never troubled him as long as he walked around to find out the berries.
Having lost count of the days and the nights he had spent under the sun and stars, he knew by the smell in the air that the life giving water is very close.
The rustle of the palm trees sounded true and clear which he knew for sure is not a mirage. Standing and shading his eyes, he gazed to look out for that sway of the leaves in the dark night. It was a blur, but as he moved towards it, he knew for sure that it was not a dream.
He waited for dawn to break in and what he saw took his breath away, as it turned out to be the most beautiful sight that a dying man could wish for. The palm trees surrounding the spring were so many, covering a very large area that Moses for a second thought that he was still dreaming or hallucinating. Only when he crawled near and touched the water that he knew that it was not a mirage. Quenching his thirst and splashing water on his sun burnt face and bleeding feet, did he relaxed. He ate the dates and the berries which were abundantly strewn around and felt satiated and slept like one who had not slept for many a night.
Opening his eyes he saw the blue sky between the swaying palm leaves and with a start stood up as he thought he heard the sound of thundering horse hooves, intermixed with the sound of the bells which adorns the camel’s neck.
Moses cautiously looked around and as a trained soldier counted the palm trees and he knew for sure that the soldiers if at all they come would definitely try to reach this place.
Not understanding the significance of his find he knelt and bowed, giving thanks to God, who had guided him. He didn’t know why, but by some instinct, he decided that he had to go further where no man had gone before, to escape the Pharaoh’s soldiers.
Getting ready with whatever survival thoughts he could garner, Moses stepped out for that long stretch to travel to Midian.
God knew that only in Midian, a strange country for Moses that he could become a successful shepherd. Living a life of a shepherd, God was preparing Moses to learn the ways of the people he would be leading and also about the life in the wilderness.
God made Moses to travel to Midian, after gaining strength, because HE had a greater plan for him.
God used Moses, to lead His people through the Red Sea, out into the wilderness of Shur and Marah, and then to Elim. They saw a miracle in the crossing of the Red Sea, in Shur there was no water to drink for three days, and in Marah they could not drink the water as it was bitter.
In Elim, the people of Israel on their way from Egypt, found themselves surrounded by twelve springs and seventy palm trees, more than what they had asked for.
God was preparing the people of Israel, giving them the much needed rest at Elim, because HE had a greater plan for them, to take them to the Promised Land.
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