September 21, 2005

Chapter 27

"I won't talk to you about religion," she said. "Talk to my husband."

Again and again, the farmers got the same response. None of the women would talk about religion at all, and the men were suspicious.

Isaac was having the best luck, talking with the oldest raider, who seemed pleased with the story he had to tell.

"We knew this was going to be the promised land when we lost Moses on the journey," he said.


"Yes, Moses. The Bible doesn't work quite the same way the second time as it did the first, but sometimes God maybe needs to make a point to us, to make sure we believe as we should. Moses was our leader when we were enslaved."

"Enslaved? By whom?"

"By another city like this one. Well, it looked different, but it was pretty much the same. They were too hardened to listen to our truth, too greedy to let us go by easily. We came to them for food and they kept us for years, letting us farm their land but never giving us enough to do more than scrape by. They took the best of everything we had, and left us to face the winter in our shacks. In spring, they'd give us planting seed to keep us going, since we always wound up eating it."

"How did you survive?"

"We didn't all survive, especially the children. We lost a lot of good people, but we kept ourselves together, reading the Bible, praying to God for mercy."

"Moses," the raider continued, "was our prophet. He wasn't one of us - he'd come from somewhere else, worn and ragged. No 'raised in the house of Pharoah' for him, no! He just fit naturally with us somehow. Well, with most of us, those of us here today, anyway."

"And Jerusalem?" asked Isaac.

"We'd mourned Jerusalem for years, at dawn and at sunset. We still do. Moses was the one who showed us the way forward, though. God hadn't told us we were chosen, no, but we had persevered, stayed faithful."

"Maybe there are others like you?" asked Isaac.

"Maybe," said the old man. "If there are, we haven't found them yet."

"How did you escape from the city?"

"It took a lot of years. Moses came with more than rags - he brought us guns, old guns, and an understanding of gunpowder. The old guns were broken and worthless, but they showed us how to make them. We scrimped and saved and scraped together metal from our tools, and the city people were too proud to notice that we were suddenly wearing them out faster."

"And then what?"

"We waited for the last market day, hiding the guns in our wagons. Moses demanded a better price for our grain - he'd done that all year, but the city people wouldn't see reason - and finally he accepted their price. Only instead of pulling the grain from the wagons, we all pulled out the guns, and took their traders hostage."

"Wow." Isaac was shocked, even queasy. "You took them hostage. And then what did they do?"

"Moses talked with them, one last time. 'Let my people go,' he said. 'Let the Army of God find its destiny.' He read to them from the Book of Exodus and told them what had happened to Egypt and Pharoah. Their hearts were hard, but they were properly scared, and showed us how to go."

"Showed you? How?"

"They told us to go across the water we'd lived next to for so many years. They gave us wood, cloth, and fittings to build boats, and we spent that spring eating their food while building our boats. They wanted our guns in exchange, but we'd been smart. We gave them some guns, mostly broken ones anyway, and built the rest of the parts into the boats, or hid them."

"How big were these boats?"

"Large enough for two families, their goods, and some livestock. We didn't have much. The boats seemed huge when we built them, but a lot smaller once we were out in the water."

"And then you sailed?"

"We had a few practice runs first. None of us had done it before. Even the city people weren't sure how to do it, though they had pictures and books. It took the rest of the summer learning, and then we got them out on the water when we left and found that they handled differently full."

"How long did it take you?"

"It probably should have taken a couple of days, but it took more like four."

"What happened?"

"A storm kicked up the first night. The waves were huge, the wind was blasting. We took down the sails and found a place to anchor fast enough, but waiting out the storm was miserable. Sick, crying, people and animals all stuck below decks for days. The water out there looked like it was splitting, just not clean like Red Sea was. When it finally stopped, one of the boats was wrecked, so we had to load its people onto another, and one was just plain gone."

"Moses' boat?"

"Moses and his family and another family. We had a service for them when we reached the shore, but I always wondered if he knew he wouldn't be allowed to see the promised land. Jedidiah took over, then, as Moses had said he should."

"I don't think I've met Jedidiah."

"He's a quiet one, but he knows how to handle city folk. I'm sure he'll have us out of here soon enough. He did real well on our way here, as we managed to find more than enough food along the way."


"From various small farms out there. Lots of people are still trying to work the land, though they seem too busy, or too wicked, to stop and listen to the Lord. It was harvest time, so we had no trouble finding supplies."

"And then you arrived here."

"Yes, we did. And no doubt this is a test of the Lord, to see if we're strong and worthy enough. It never quite works out like the Bible tells us it did, but no doubt the tests have to be different the second time around."

"Are you going to be in trouble for telling me all this?"

"Me? Trouble? No, I don't think so. I'm already locked in my cell, and I trust you have my family over there somewhere. I don't see how I can convince you unless I tell you the story and you can see the miracles, the miracles that we've had even though today it looks like we're in trouble. Tested, always tested, but always willing to serve. The walls did come down, just not in the style of Jericho."

"It seems like a difficult path to Christ's love," said Isaac.

The man looked at him for a while, then turned his head and muttered. "It's not supposed to be easy. It's never been easy. And we humans have proved themselves unworthy so many times that we need to be grateful sometimes for the chances the Lord gives us."

Isaac saw the man was crying, and turned to go. "Thank you," he said. "thank you - and what's your name."

"Jethro." The man rolled over on his haybales to return to his Bible study.

"Thank you Jethro. I'm Isaac. It's good to meet you."

The man stayed silent, and Isaac signaled to be let out.

Caleb had been sitting outside the stall, listening quietly.

"That's quite a story," said Caleb as they walked toward the door. "Think it's true?"

"It seemed true to me," said Isaac. "It didn't sound like he'd made it up, or embroidered it."

"I'm still not sure of that," replied Caleb. "All this Jerusalem business, and now a Moses leading them to the promised land? Our land?"

"Or the city's land," said Isaac. "It sounds like we're not the only farmers working for a city."

"Let's take this to the elders," said Caleb.

Posted by simon at September 21, 2005 10:32 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

© 2004 Simon St.Laurent.
All Rights Reserved.