‘I thirst Mother.’ Shoshanna placed her hand on her mother’s bent form. ‘Even so I do not believe “I AM” will let us die.’
Yehudit looked up, allowing the wilderness sand she’d been throwing in handfuls over her veiled head to sift through her fingers in wispy drifts. She had no tears. Three days travelling through the Wilderness of Shur without sight of water had made her careful of waste. ‘You are only a yaldaw. What could you possibly know?’ She lowered her head and began to moan.
Shoshanna frowned and tried to lick her parched lips. ‘I am ten Mother. Old enough to gather straw for the mud bricks and old enough to listen and believe what Moses and Aaron told the Elders. Yahweh is faithful.’
Above, the Cloud of Presence sheltered the vast Hebrew throng from merciless heat, not that anyone seemed to notice. Everywhere Shoshanna looked she could see arms and shepherds’ staffs flailing the air. Red sand hovered like a dust storm. ‘The water of Marah is bitter’, they cried. ‘Moses, what are we supposed to drink?’ Pretty soon the noise was as loud as the victory song they had sung after crossing the Red Sea. Just three days ago. Yahweh would have to be deaf not to hear this din.
Soshanna made her way towards her father’s flock and sat down in the sand. It wasn’t particularly hot; not like the sands in Egypt where she had to hop from one foot to the other. A woolly face drew near her elbow, bleating softly. ‘Shalom little one. I AM has not bought us out to die. He is faithful.’
She drew the little lamb onto her lap and whispered secrets in its small ear. The dam eyed her suspiciously and stamped her forefoot. ‘Oh ‘em I won’t hurt your baby. You are just thirsty and cross like Yahweh’s people.’
Suddenly a roar arose and a ram’s horn blew a rally call.
‘The water is sweet. Moses has thrown a tree in the water and now we live. Quick, women and children first. Drink! Drink!’
Shoshanna looked up at the cloud and smiled. One day she hoped to talk to Yahweh just like Moses did now; and she would remember to thank Him for the sweet water. Moses was wonderful but he was just a man.
By dusk every tribe had refreshed themselves and their stock and settled into camps. It was very quiet. Perhaps throats were sore from all that shouting. There would be no walking tonight either; the Cloud was stationary. Shoshanna wandered around the goat skin tents close to her parents’ site, determined to stay awake until the Cloud had changed into a Pillar of Fire. She loved the glow and warmth of the Fire. Sometimes it was easy to forget the protection of the Cloud, but never the Pillar of Fire.
In the distance a lone male voice began singing a haunting song of deliverance and hope.
‘Probably Caleb over there in the tribe of Judah’. Shoshanna’s father spoke quietly, his voice was husky tonight. Her mother replied but too softly to be understood.
Shoshanna lay on a fleece on the soft earth floor, tucked her hands under her head and listened to the melody.
a ‘One day God will surely visit you and bring you out of this land to a land He swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’.
Joseph had spoken those words over four hundred years ago and now Jacob’s children were on their way. Just as promised. It was the elders of her Ephraim tribe who had charge of Joseph’s bones.
‘Yahweh’, the child whispered, ‘nothing is like we dreamed. It is so much harder. And every time You wait until the last moment to help us. By then nearly everyone has panicked like frightened sheep. Help us see things the way You see them please. I do not believe You are cruel. Not like the Egyptian taskmasters. Yahweh Mamma doesn’t know this but I poked my finger in the wall of water and it was wet.’ Goodnight Yahweh’.
a Genesis 50:24
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