The Ten Commandments

“Aaron, are you sure this is right?”

“Yes Moses, we’ve gone through this many times. You know this to be right.”

“But Aaron, it feels deceitful.”

“It’s not at all deceitful Moses, it is what God wants. How can what God wants be deceitful?”

“It can not of course. It is how we are doing it; that is what seems deceitful.”

“Moses, my brother, you’ve listened to my advice this far. Did I not advise you how to persuade the Pharaoh to let you go? And did I not warn you when he changed his mind and started chasing you? And did I not also help you get across the Red Sea? And after that, did I not help you lead our people through the wilderness? Not once straying too far from water, making sure that we would not come to harm?”

“Yes Aaron, you did.”

“And in all these activities, have I ever asked to take any credit for them, always making sure that the people looked to you, and respected you?”

“No Aaron, you have not.”

“Then trust me again, this is what is needed now. The people are getting tired, we are near to our new home, but they do not know this. They have been walking a long time and they are starting to lose faith. What you need to do now is to reaffirm their faith. You need to set rules, you need to give guidance. You need to shepherd this flock of yours.”

“Yes Aaron, but how am I to do that? You can hear them outside this tent as well as I can, they are feasting! They are throwing caution to the winds, drinking our spare water, slaughtering our breeding animals!”

“Moses, my brother. Trust me now as you trusted me in Egypt. Go to your people and shout at them. Draw their attention to you and only you. Tell them that they are not acting in a way befitting the children of God, that you are ashamed of their behaviour and of them. And then, when you have their full jeering attention, and yes my brother, they will jeer at this, turn your back on them and walk up that mountain, and you must not look back. If you look back, they will lose their focus and their faith. You must keep both, and you must not look back. Keep your faith, keep your focus, and walk up that mountain without looking back.”

“And what will that achieve Aaron?”

“What that will achieve is them concentrating on and jeering at you Moses, and while they do that, myself and Hur will nip around to the other side of the mountain out of sight, and make our way up there to meet you unseen.”

“If you are sure Aaron, then I shall.”

So saying, Moses left the tent that he shared with Aaron and Hur and went to admonish the Tribe of Judah. Before the jeers and laughs had died down, two small figures could almost be made out scrambling up the side of Mount Sinai in the darkening gloom of early evening.

“Poly, are you sure this will work?”

“Shh, don’t use our real names Belia. Of course I’m sure, it’s not exactly difficult is it? Simple light show, hot glowing rocks, crowds amazed. We tried it before, but I’m pretty certain I know what went wrong that time.”

“Oh, good.”

“Don’t be such a sourpuss. As long as you’ve got everything I told you to grab we’ll be fine. You have got everything haven’t you?”

“Yes, and I can’t help noticing I’m the one that’s carrying it all.”

“That’s because I need to keep my breath, and I need time to think to make sure we get this right. Now, as soon as we get up to the top, you need to fly off over there a couple of leagues, out of sight, and sprinkle this stone dust into the clouds.”

“What good will that do?”

“It will make the clouds heavy, and that will cause a storm. I’ve also mixed a little magnesium and sulphur in there, so be careful.”

“And what will you be doing while I’m risking my feathers?”

“I shall be quickly writing out these stone tablets with some commandments from god. Which I’m currently trying to think of, so let’s just get up there and allow me to think.”

The rain was falling heavily onto the crowd, who had by now started to climb the mountain, and at the top lightning framed the figure of Moses standing with his arms dramatically raised to the skies at the edge of their vision.

“What under heaven have you done Aaron? Look at this storm, the like of which has never been seen! Did you cause this?”

“No Moses, I did not cause this. It is merely God showing you that this is the right thing to do. Now here, take these two stone tablets and get ready to walk down the mountain with them.”

“But the people do not look in the mood to accept new rules Aaron.”

“They will do Moses, they have seen you come up here and raise a storm. They have seen the lightning as you have raised your arms and talked to God. And they will see you walk down the mountain with these two tablets with the letters glowing with fire! They will believe!”

“But Aaron, the letters are not glowing with fire.”

“They will be Moses, trust me.”

“You ask for a lot of trust Aaron, but you have not let me down yet.”

“And I shall not let you down this time Moses, my brother. Just walk down to them, look stern, and repeat what’s written on the tablets.”

As Moses neared the Tribe of Judah, the letters on the tablets burst into flames before their very eyes, burning fiercely and brightly for a few brief seconds while Moses shouted at them. Polynius had to admit, Moses may be a doubter, but he was a good showman and knew a cue when it came along.

“Okay, I give in Poly, how’d you get the letters to flame?”

“Simple Belia dear, once I’d chiseled the words out, I pressed some magnesium and sulphur into the gaps, then spread some mud over the top of it. The rain washed the mud off, got to the magnesium and set it alight.”

“Very clever Poly, very clever.”

“Why thank you, Belia. Now, however, I think we’d better get back down to the bottom before they realise we’ve gone.”