an epic poem in the style of Edgar Allan Poe's "Raven"
© Copyright 2001 Richard Allen Brodie
(the "Ten Commandments" stanzas are in red)
|Jacob, weakened from starvation, Reuben recommends
To a far and foreign nation, to escape the famine sore.
Judah, flee starvation's specter; seek for food and flowing nectar.
Zebulun found their protector; Gad, Naphtali, Issachar,
Asher, Simeon, and Levi, Dan, and Benjamin implore
At their brother Joseph's door.
|There they thrived; their numbers legion
grew in this fair fertile region.
To the Pharaoh their allegiance, their obedience they swore.
Many towns of teeming treasure, Pithom, Raamses, homes of pleasure
For a Pharaoh’s life of leisure, did this great construction corp
Raise to shine in radiant grandeur on the Nile's resplendent shore
Gilt with gleaming golden ore.
|But, despite their contribution, leaders
Launched a reign of persecution, like they'd never seen before.
By their masters they were driven harder, tasks severe were given
Never had they had to live in misery like this before:
Helpless watch as soldiers from their mothers little children tore!
Scenes of grief ne'er seen in war!
|Seeing Israel's frightful plight, He sent
a Hebrew prophet mighty:
Moses, wrapped in rushes tight, He guided to the river's shore
Where the Pharaoh’s daughter's lady, from the tidal flags all shady,
Drew him, and her son she made. He royal princely garments wore.
An Egyptian cruel he slew, then death to him the Pharaoh swore;
Princely robes he wore no more.
|Off to Midian's land he started, most abruptly
Where his lonely longing heart did find in Jethro's house amour!
'Neath oases' verdant flora he did love the fair Zippora,
He did cherish and adore a daughter, one of seven, for
When compared to rubies' prices, she was prized and valued more.
She a son named Gershom bore.
|Then one day while flocks he tended, he did
see a sight most splendid,
And into the mount ascended, from the sandy desert floor.
Stepping carefully, unsandaled, there he saw a bush encandled,
From it's midst God His command yelled out; His voice did loudly roar.
Yea, the great I AM commanded Moses to declare a war,
Hope to Israel to restore.
|"Moses go, chastise the Pharaoh; Heaven's
vengeance to him swear, O
"Words of censure do not spare, O shake him to his evil core!
"He God's people has afflicted, now his lineage stands convicted.
"Grief on Israel they've inflicted. Lo these years, of hundred's four,
"In the service of those Kingdoms ye have served in bondage sore."
Now God evens up the score!
|Thus in Pharaoh’s court appearing, met with
his magician's jeering,
All his servants scorning, sneering, Moses entered through the door
Of the palace with his peerless brother Aaron who made jeerless
Those magicians when he, fearless, cast his rod upon the floor,
And it turned into a serpent hissing on the palace floor.
Now a frown the Pharaoh wore!
|All those magic men he trusted were afraid
they might get busted.
They in desperation thrusted all their rods onto the floor.
Aaron's act they sought to follow. Serpent's sprung, but threats were hollow,
Aaron's snake all theirs did swallow! One to zero stood the score.
Moses thus to Pharaoh spake: "Do not this sign from God ignore.
"Show us to thy kingdom's door!"
|“Let my people go! Unchain them! In slave
camps do not constrain them,
“From departing don't restrain them, lash and beat them nevermore.
“Long enough we've born affliction; now I make this bold prediction,
“With a prophet's firm conviction: we shall serve thee nevermore!
“All downtrodden we shall serve thee as thy subjects nevermore
At thy mercy, helpless, poor.”
|But the Pharaoh, not acceding to the seer's
demands, and needing
Signs from God, his land all bleeding saw. The Nile was filled with gore!
Then came fiery hail and rains down, frightful plagues of boils and blains down.
Locust swarms and beast murrains down on the land the Lord did pour.
Though all Egypt for three days in darkness was all covered o'er,
Still did Pharaoh God ignore.
|Frogs and flies and pestilences overwhelmed
the Nile's defenses,
Till the Pharaoh’s heart relents. His hands from murderous acts forswore.
Curses rained from Heav'n relentless, rend'ring Pharaoh’s realm defenseless
Grief to Ramses' throne repentless, God in righteous anger swore.
Shrouded angels led all firstborn, where no blood was on the door,
To their graves, forevermore!
|With his son lain in a coffin, Pharaoh’s
heart at last did soften:
"Moses, lead thy people off in peace, here to return no more!"
His assurances were hollow, for in anger he did follow,
Soldiers, chariots, and all, O eastward to the Red seashore.
All these warriors to their homeland from this bleak foreboding shore
Shall return. When? Nevermore!
|With a prophet's power gifted, Moses unto
Up his rod, the waters rifted. In the sea a swath God tore,
Through which Jacob's teeming masses, with their cattle, sheep, and asses,
On dry ground could safely pass, as God stopped Egypt's armoured corps
With a fiery pillar firm emplanted on the western shore,
While a Pharoah fumed and swore!
|By God's hand the Red Sea parted, as the
Off to Palestine they started, from travails, through trials sore.
Close behind them Pharaoh’s forces! Men in chariots, men on horses.
Filled with rage, his hateful course is set toward the eastern shore.
Through the water's breach they thundered, with a terrifying roar,
"Quench our thirst for Hebrew gore!"
|In alarm they soon discovered, angels o'er
this ocean hovered,
'Neath the waves this host they covered; ne'er they reached the eastern shore!
Thus the Lord in glorious power, caused this king in fear to cower,
And to Israel's will to bow, her people captive now no more!
Once enslaved, once yoked in chains, once tasked with strawless labours sore,
She'll be free, forevermore!
|Israel's children shall be going where the
milk and honey's flowing,
Where the Lord, His mercy showing, blessings has layed up in store.
There their sacrifices bringing to the temple, they'll be singing
Songs of praise, Hosannas ringing to the Lord forevermore!
Never will His mercy fail them, all their lands He shall restore
Even as in days of yore.
|Then when Israel's sons and daughters, safe
at last from Pharaoh’s slaughters,
Camped at Marah's bitter waters, thirsting on this septic shore,
Moses unto God appealing, with a tree for help in healing,
Heaven's mercy here revealing, made the waters sweet once more;
Made the spring's polluted, poisoned, toxic waters safe to pour,
Sweet and safe to drink once more.
|All refreshed at Marah's fountain, they set
out for Sinai's mountain.
Amalek a mighty Count, an army led arrayed for war.
With the hand of Moses lifted, favor to his people shifted;
But the battle's fortunes drifted and the enemy did score
Many triumphs when the prophet dropped his hand towards the floor,
For his arm grew tired and sore.
|Thus a seat of stone was readied, as the
battle's currents eddied,
Hur and Aaron Moses steadied; Israel's troops prevailed once more.
All day long his hands upholding, Israel's victory now unfolding,
Amalek's defeat beholding, to him utter waste God swore.
His remembrance under Heaven shall be put out; nevermore
Shall this king in glory soar.
|In the desert they did wander, and their
doleful plight did ponder,
Winding hither, wending yonder, on the weeks of wand'ring wore.
Then exhausted Israel stumbled, at their God they griped and grumbled,
Necks all stiff they'd not be humbled, graceless they their burdens bore.
All His wonders wrought in Egypt, all His help on Aden's shore,
They recalled to mind no more.
|Then in Horeb came a wonder, when God clave
a rock asunder,
And the land was flooded under water flowing from the ore.
He, his mercy e'er enduring, e're steadfast, e'er reassuring,
E'er the needs of life securing, provender did on them pour;
On their heads a feast of manna, quail delectable and more.
All complaining they forswore.
|Jethro saw the burdens weighty, for a man
of more than eighty;
Counsel to his daughter's mate he gave, who all these burdens bore.
“See the multitudes awaiting, all their cares to thee relating,
"If ye'd do more delegating, ye could then relax much more.
"As thy cares would be abating, ye could rest, and sleep, and snore!
"Share this heavy, taxing chore!”
|Once again with reverence lowly, Moses up
the mountain slowly
Climbed into the presence holy of the Lord, while fire did pour
Down from heavens torn asunder with majestic pealing thunder.
"Let my chosen people wonder how on eagle's wing's I bore
“Jacob's children my peculiar treasure through the briny door
“Unto me forevermore!"
|Strict compliance God demanded; on this point
He was quite candid.
To his sons commands he handed, totaling one-half a score
Unto Moses' care confided, for his people to be guided.
On the tablets here provided, rules for worship, one to four,
With His finger first God wrote, then six to ten for men, no more;
Keys to open Heaven's door.
|First: no other God's
before me shalt thou have; thou shalt adore me
And shalt thine oblations for me only be before my throne.
Idol worship shall be halted; see that thou art never faulted!
If another God's exalted, thee I surely will disown,
And reject unless repentence most sincere be humbly shown.
For this sin thou must atone.
|Second: have no likeness
of me; set no other gods above me;
Worship only me and love me, not some image carved of bone,
Out of clay by hands created, or with gold and silver plated.
My house would be desecrated by a god of wood or stone,
By a rigid lifeless god. Mine image don't attempt clone.
I will not this sin condone.
|Third: my name with
reverence saying, use most oft when thou art praying.
Penalties for disobeying shall offending lips be shown.
Let thy mouth in reverence dearly speak my name; with love, most clearly
Let thy voice, not vain, sincerely now my holy name intone.
Let the sacred name Jehovah purely rise unto my throne
Thus shall I to thee be known.
|Fourth: keep thou my
Sabbath weekly; not all somber, dismal, bleakly,
But with joy, while walking meekly; all thy work shalt thou postpone.
Six days shalt thou labor earning money but the seventh, spurning
Work, to rest thou shalt be turning, to an attitude more prone,
More inclined to contemplation, in this, time's most hallowed zone,
Thou shalt worship at God's throne.
|Fifth: it is of thee
expected to let honor be directed
To thy parents: loved, respected shall they ever by thee be;
That thy days may be extended to enjoy God's blessings splendid,
That thy life might not be ended prematurely. Here's the key:
Love thy mother and thy father; many days thou shalt then see.
God hath made this guarantee.
|Sixth: no blood shalt
thou be spilling. Slay thy neighbor? Be unwilling;
Be thou never fond of killing, as was Able's brother Cain.
If thou dost engage in preying on the innocent, betraying
People, ambushing and slaying, thou shalt come to grief and pain.
From such cruel and hateful savage murderous deeds shalt thou abstain,
Try to be much more humane.
|Seventh: do not love
be making with a wedded woman, breaking
Marriage covenants by taking to thyself another's mate.
Do not treat thine own wife coolly, nor neglectfully, nor cruelly;
To her be thou loyal, truly let her be thine only date!
Have no children with another, only with her procreate.
Faithlessness the Lord doth hate.
|Eighth: don't ever
stoop to stealing, exiting a store concealing
Merchandise, in truth be dealing daily with thy fellow men.
Honestly thy money making, not the stuff of others taking,
Yea, this heinous sin forsaking, property respecting, when?
At all times and in all places, always, not just now and then.
To this rule we say: "Amen!"
|Ninth: refrain from
ever bearing witness falsely, never swearing
To an untruth or a glaring lie against thy fellow man.
From all acts of evil cunning, or deceitful guile be running
Far away; yea, be thou shunning every false deceitful plan
By which liars take delight in causing all the grief they can.
Such behavior God doth ban.
|Tenth: when for a neighbor's
dwelling thoughts of jealousy are swelling,
Or within thee envy's welling for his wife, suppress desire.
Thou canst look with approbation, with esteem, with acclamation,
But yield not unto temptation; do not to these things aspire.
Do not for thyself his servants, maid or man, seek to acquire.
Lust can lead to sins most dire.
|Whilst this seer the mount ascended, Aaron's
flock to sin descended;
In an idol they offended God, by worshipping mere ore.
To a lifeless image graven, not an eagle, hawk, or raven,
But a golden calf in craven fear they bent, and bowed before.
In a creature made of rings, which on their hands and ears they wore,
They aggrieved the Lord once more.
|Now the leader's cloak assuming, Joshua,
the march resuming,
Led the people towards the looming, fertile land that lay before.
Thus was Canaan's conquest started, as the river Jordan parted;
Marching unto lands uncharted, passage through the river's door
God provided for his ark, and for his armoured priestly corp,
Charged to fight His holy war.
|On a mission of inspection and intelligence
Israel's spies sought for protection at the harlot Rahab's door.
From her city she defected, all suspicion she deflected;
Israel's scouts were well protected, hidden by this helpful whore.
For her kindness she for mercy for her household did implore.
Hers alone survived the war.
|Seven times the ramparts rounding, they did
march with feet a-pounding
Then a blast from trumpets sounding caused a terrifying roar.
For to dust the city crumbled, all her fortresses were humbled,
All her walls in great heaps tumbled, all her towers toppled o'er.
Fields of stubble, streets of rubble, flowing red with Canaan gore;
Jericho would rise no more!
|Mighty kings did quake and quiver, as his
children crossed the river
Giving thanks unto the giver of these gifts the prophets swore
Theirs would be in this location, when the kings from Og to Bashan,
Every hellish heathen nation, fled the Abrahamic shore.
Slaves were victors, while vile monarchs now the chains of Goshen wore!
Vanquished, vanquished, evermore!
|All these kingdoms He has wasted; when the
wrath of God they’ve tasted,
Off to Hades' home they've hasted, endless torment's now in store.
Will they rage in regal thunder, keeping Israel’s children under
Bondage? Will they kill and plunder, pillage, torment? Nevermore!
Will their souls in Hell, I wonder, rue their reigns? Yes, evermore!
There they'll chafe forevermore!
|Israel, Jacob's sons and daughters, whom
he through the Red Sea's waters
Safely and securely brought, hers was the slave's lot heretofore;
Now in holy strength commanding, into promised lands expanding
Where in peace past understanding, she shall dwell forevermore.
She shall dwell amidst the honey and amidst the milk galore,
In this land forevermore!
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