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Fragment of the Life of Moses. A hundred and thirty years after the settling of the Jews in Egypt, and sixty years after the death of the patriarch Joseph, Pharaoh, while sleeping, had a dream. He saw an old man holding a balance: in one scale were all the inhabitants of Egypt; in the other was an infant; and this infant weighed more than all the Egyptians together. Pharaoh forth with called together his shotim, or sages.
One of the wise men said —" O king; this infant is a Jew, who will one day do great evil to your kingdom. Cause all the children of the Jews to be slain; thus shalt thou save thy empire, if, indeed, the decrees of fatę can be opposed.
Pharaoh was pleased with this advice, He sent for the midwives, and ordered them to strangle all the male children of which the Jewesses were delivered. There was in Egypt a man named Abraham son of Keath, husband to Jocabed, sister to his brother. This Jocabed bore him a daughter named Mary, signifying persecuted, because the Egyptians, being descended from Ham, persecuted the Israelites, who were evidently descended from Shem. “Jocabed afterwards brought forth Aaron,--signifying condemned to death, because Pharaoh had condemned all the Jewish infants to death, Aaron and Mary were preserved by the angels of the Lord, who nursed them in the fields, and restored them to their parents when they had reached the period of adolescence.
At length, Jocabed had a third child : this was Moses, who, consequently, was fifteen years younger than his brother. He was exposed on the Nile. Pharaoh's daughter found him while bathing, had him nursed, and adopted him as her son, although she was not married,
Three years after, her father Pharaoh took a fresh wife, on which occasion he held a great feast. · His wife was at his right hand, and at his left was his daughter, with little Moses. The child, in sport, took the crown and put it on his head. Balaam the magician, the king's eunuch, then recollected His Majesty's dream. “ Behold,” said he, “ the child who is one day to do you so much mischief! The spirit of God is in him. What he has just now done is a proof that he has already formed the design of dethroning you. He must instantly be put to death.” This idea pleased Pharaoh much.
They were about to kill little Moses ; when the Lord immediately sent his angel Gabriel, disguised as one of Pharaoh's officers, to say to him, “ My lord, we should not put to death an innocent child, which is not yet come to years of discretion; he put on your crown only because he wants judgment. You have only to let a ruby and a burning coal be presented to bim: if he choose the coal, it is clear that he is a blockhead, who will never do any harm; but if he take the ruby, it will be a sign that he has too much sense to burn his fingers ;--then, let him be slain.”
A ruby and a coal were immediately brought. Moses did not fail to take the ruby; but the angel Gabriel, by a sort of legerdemain, slipped the coal into the place of the precious stone. Moses put the coal into his mouth, and burned his tongue so horribly that he ştammered ever after; and this was the reason that the Jewish lawgiver could never articulate.
Moses was fifteen years old, and a favourite with Pharaoh. A Hebrew came to complain to him, that an Egyptian had beaten him, after lying with his wife. Moses killed the Egyptian. Pharaoh ordered Moses' head to be cut off. The executioner struck him; but God instantly changed Moses' neck into a marble column, and sent the angel Michael, who in three days conducted Moses beyond the frontiers.
The young Hebrew fled to Mecano, King of Ethiopia, who was at war with the Arabs. Mecano made him his general-in-chief; and, after Mecano's death, Moses was chosen king, and married the widow. But Moses, ashamed to have married the wife of his lord, dared not to enjoy her, but placed a sword in the bed, betwixt himself and the queen. He lived with her forty years without touching her.
The angry queen at length called together the states of the kingdom of
Ethiopia, complained that Moses was of no service to her, and concluded by driving him away, and placing on the throne the son of the late king.
Moses fled into the country of Midian, to the priest Jethro. This priest thought his fortune would be made if he could put Moses into the hands of Pharaoh of Egypt, and began by confining him in a low cell, and allowing him only bread and water. Moses grew fat very fast in his dungeon, at which Jethro was quite astonished. He was not aware that his daughter Sephora had fallen in love with the prisoner, and every day, with her own hands, carried him partridges and quails, with excellent wine. He concluded that Moses was protected by God, and did not give him up to Pharaoh.
However, Jethro the priest wished to have his daughter married. He had in his garden a tree of sapphire, on which was engraven the word Jaho or Jehovah. He caused it to be published throughout the country, that he would give his daughter to him who could tear up the sapphire tree. Sephora's lovers presented themselves, but none of them could so much as bend the tree. Moses, who was only seventy-seven years old, tore it up at once, without an effort. He married Sephora, by whom he soon had a fine boy, named Gerson.
As he was one day walking in a small wood, he met God (who had formerly called himself Sadai, and then called himself Jehovah,) and God ordered him to go and work miracles at Pharaoh's court. He set out, with his wife and son. On the way, they met an angel (to whom no name is given) who ordered Sephora to circumcise little Gerson with a knife made of stone. God sent Aaron on the same errand: but Aaron thought his brother had done very wrong in marrying a Midianite; he called her a very coarse name, and little Gerson a bastard, and sent them the shortest way
back to their own country. Aaron and Moses then went to Pharaoh's palace by themselves. The gate of the palace was guarded by two lions of an enormous size. Balaam, one of the
king's magicians, seeing the two brothers come, set the lions upon them; but Moses touched them with his rod, and the lions humbly prostrating themselves, licked the feet of Aaron and Moses. The king, in astonishment, had the two pilgrims brought into the presence of all his magicians, that they might strive which could work the most miracles.
The author here relates the ten plagues of Egypt, nearly as they are related in Exodus. He only adds, that Moses covered all Egypt with lice, to the depth of a cubit; and that he sent among all the Egyptians, lions, wolves, bears, and tigers, which ran into all the houses, notwithstanding that the doors were bolted, and devoured all the little children.
According to this writer, it was not the Jews who fed through the Red Sea; it was Pharaoh who fled that way with his
army: the Jews ran after him; the waters separated right and left, to see them fight; and all the Egyptians, except the king, were slain upon the sand. Then the king, finding that his own was the weaker side, asked pardon of God. Michael and Gabriel were sent to him, and conveyed him to the city of Nineveh, where he reigned four hundred years.
The Death of Moses. God had declared to the people of Israel, that they should not go out of Egypt until they had once more found the tomb of Joseph. Moses found it, and carried
his shoulders through the Red Sea. God told him that he would bear in mind this good action, and would assist him at the time of his death. When Moses had lived six score years, God came to announce to him that he must die, and had but three hours more to live. The bad angel Samael was present at the conversation. As soon as the first hour had passed, he began to laugh for joy, that he should so soon carry off the soul of Moses; and Michael began to weep; “ Be not rejoiced, thou wicked beast,” said the good
the bad angel; “ Moses is going to die; but we have Joshua in his stead."
When the three hours had elapsed, God commanded
Gabriel to take the dying man's soul. Gabriel begged to be excused. Michael did the same. These two angels having refused, God addressed himself to Zinguiel. But this angel was no more willing to obey than the others.' “T," said he, was formerly his preceptor, and I will not kill my disciple.” Then God, being angry, said to the bad angel Samael, “ Well, then, wicked one, thou must take his soul.” Samael joyfully drew his sword, and ran up to Moses. The dying man rose up in wrath, his eyes sparkling with fire. “ What! thou villain,” said Moses ; “ wouldst thou dare to kill me ?-me, who when a child, put on my
head the crown of a Pharaoh; who have worked miracles at the age of eighty years; who have led sixty millions of men out of Egypt; who have cut the Red Sea in two; who have conquered two kings so tall that at the time of the Flood they were not knée-deep in' water? Be gone, you rascal; leave my presence instantly."
This altercation lasted a few moments longer; during which time Gabriel prepared a litter to convey the soul of Moses, Michael a purple mantle, and Zinguiel .a cassock. God then laid his hands on Moses' breast, and took away his soul.
It is to this history that St. Jude the Apostle alludes in his Epistle, when he says that the archangel Michael contended with the devil for the body of Moses. As this fact is to be found only in the book which I have just quoted, it is evident that St. Jude had read it, and that he considered it as a canonical book.
The second History of the Death of Moses is likewise a conversation with God. It is no less pleasant and carious than the first. A part of this dialogue is as follows:
Moses.--I pray thee, O Lord, lét me enter into the land of promise, at least for two or three years.
God.No: my decree expressly saith that thou shalt not enter it.
Moses.-Grant, at least, that I may be carried thither after