Moses Mondays: The Heavenly Conflict Begins

The focus of the story now shifts to spiritual matters and their associated political issues. This chapter is an example of my efforts to allow the Egyptians to be real, to believe in their gods, and to live out their portion of the story not as straw men but as legitimate characters and actors on the stage of history. Some Christians may have a problem with my allowing the Egyptians and their priests such leeway, but everyone needs to remember the lesson of Daniel in Babylon, that the Most High God is sovereign over everything that happens. Also, Jesus told us that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without God’s knowledge.

So, it is important for my story and the outworking of the political events, which in Egypt are often driven by spiritual events and their interpretation, that the Egyptian gods appear to be heavily involved in this situation, taking sides, and expressing their opinions.

See also Chapter 9: New Additions To The Household

Section Two: The Storm Begins

Book of the Dead, The Chapter Of The New Moon “Osiris let loose the storm-cloud into the body of heaven.”

Chapter 10: War in Heaven

“How could one little child, especially a Hebrew, be at the center of such a great tempest?” Sostris thought to himself as each of the priests gave his report. He could not remember a day like this. It seemed that every temple in Memphis had been the site of some sign or portent. Too many things were happening too fast. There was great magic at work here and he needed time to think.

The assembled priests sat quietly for a few moments, almost afraid to speak after the torrent of signs and omens. Then Satarah, the eldest of the priests and Sostris’ confidant spoke up, “It is clear that all the portents favor the child, except for the occurrence at the temple of Amon-Ra. Yet, even that could be interpreted favorably for him. It is well known how much the priests of Amon-Ra hate the Hebrews. It could be seen as a warning against applying the edict against him.” The others murmured their reluctant approval.

“We must be very careful,” Sostris cautioned. “Not everyone may accept our interpretations for the omens sent by their gods. We also do not know where the opinion of Pharaoh lies. If the other priests do not agree with us it would be dangerous, despite our blessed Sati’s protection of Asati. Satyu, bring papyrus so that you can record our deliberations. We must carefully weigh each sign on its own merit and see how the scales tip themselves.”

The use of the precious papyrus sheets showed everyone the significance that Sostris attached to these deliberations, as well as his desire to keep a lasting record. Satyu got up and left, but returned quickly and sat down next to Sostris, a portable desk cradled in his lap. It was obvious that no one wanted to miss out on a single word of these momentous events.

Sostris queried each priest in turn. They gave their temple destination, the portent they had discovered, and any interpretations they had come across as well as their own thoughts. Then the whole group debated each omen and each conclusion, sometimes with heated exchanges that provided little light.

Everyone seemed to agree that the presence of the falcons, sacred to Amon-Ra, on the gates of Satis’ temple was a clear demonstration of Ra’s anointing, and the bestowing of his favor on the goddess and her servant Asati.

The desecration by the vulture at the temple of Amon-Ra created the most debate. In the end it was seen not as an act against the god but against his priests. The omen appeared to say that the priests of Amon-Ra had desecrated his service and were moving against his will by continuing to advocate the destruction of the Hebrew male children. Now that Hapy and Satis had given this Hebrew child as a gift to the childless princess, Amon-Ra seemed to be adding his blessing to theirs by gracing the gates of Satis’ temple.

At times the debate grew passionate, even contradictory, but never out of the firm control of Sostris. As he looked up from the discussion, he noticed a young priest-in-learning hurrying across the compound toward him. The youth hastily bowed as he approached the First Priest. “What is it?” Sostris asked.

“The Divine Seti, may he live forever, has summoned you to his court, O noble one. The messenger says there have been omens at the palace and all of the First Priests have been called to give advice.”

“Prepare my divan immediately,” Sostris replied. Turning to the assembled priests he said, “Pharaoh summons me. There have also been omens at the palace. Satemra, you mediate the continued discussion. Satyu, give me the papyrus with what you have. Get fresh sheets to record the remaining deliberations.”

Going to his quarters, he changed and prepared himself for court. Everything would have to be in perfect order to present him in the best light and help him to control his inner turmoil. The ride went quickly. As they passed through the streets of Memphis, Sostris caught enough snatches of street conversion to learn that the people were buzzing with rumors and speculation about this portent or that sign. Like the opinion of his own priests, the common talk ran against the priests of Amon-Ra. Even though the Hebrews were not very popular with the ordinary citizens, the priests of Amon-Ra were even less so. Their priests were arrogant and it showed, especially to the common man. While the interpretation that Pharaoh chose would be the key, it was good to see that the popular opinions favored a position amenable to his concerns.

When his bearers approached the palace of Pharaoh he could see the divan bearers of other First Priests lounging in the courtyard. He knew Seti had called the other priests, but he didn’t expect to arrive so late. From the relaxed appearance of the resting bearers it appeared he had been summoned later than the other priests. Was this an honor or a slight? He felt the knot in his stomach grow tighter as he made his way up the steps past the guards. As he went through the high doorway Osri, the scribe to Pharaoh’s Vizier, stopped him.

“Pharaoh wishes to speak to you alone, O noble one. Please follow me,” Osri said, bowing slightly.

“Lead on,” Sostris replied as the knot in his stomach doubled in size.