Moses and the Five and Ten Commandments


Look.  I've no idea of the number of Israelites God got me to lead out of Egypt, but given he had levered our exit through multiple curses on the Egyptians, including  boils and the  death of the first born, I was not in a position to hang around and count them.


 I've been told that some nutter estimated it as six hundred thousand men but then forgot to add on the women and children, which goes to show there is nothing that lies like statistics. (I think he went a bit mad with the naughts, wanting to big-up the All Powerful and make a good yarn.)


Our God had made it clear:  my responsibility was to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land.   I had no idea where that was so He agreed  to a long sequence of burning bushes to light the way. The whole enterprise was all a bit dodgy, to say the least.  But, I wasn't going to argue with the Almighty, especially knowing he could throw plagues of locusts and much else at me if he had a hissy fit.


The first bit was pleasant enough.  When you’re released from slavery, at  last, a long walk in the fresh air with your nearest and dearest is a bit of a tonic.  It wasn’t just the chosen people.  You can add to that an epic number of camels, goats, sheep and a few hundred thousand chickens.  So far so good, unless, of course, you have children, or adults who behave like children.  Over a stretch of about 50 miles, I heard all of the following, repeatedly:


I need to pee!

Are we there yet?

I've lost teddy, can we go back?

Im hungry!

Im thirsty!

Im bored!

I still need to pee!


Day in, day out, we tried everything: community singing, Eye Spy, threats of God’s Wrath, the Miracle of the Red Sea Parting, manna arriving from heaven, more burning bushes here and there.  Nope.


I can’t tell you how glad I was to see Mount Sinai. This was my opportunity to get a few things off my chest.   So, up I go on my own to have a few choice words with the Almighty about His chosen people being a real pain in the neck.  He wasn't that pleased.  There followed a free and frank exchange of views. I would put money on Him having missed the worst of it when he was off being God somewhere else. 


Anyway, we both calmed down and agreed that some rules were needed to keep everything civil and moving in the right direction, a.k.a. wherever the burning bushes were taking us. ( In all honesty, at this stage, I would have settled for a map, but it wasn’t in His Gloriousness’s thinking).


It was all going well until His Wonderfulness wanted said ‘rules’ carved into tablets of stone.  I blinked and He produced two blanks.  Not to put too fine a point on it,   I'm a crap stone carver.  So, with a sigh of resignation, the Almighty  scored 10 rules deep into the stone.  To be fair, seeing the Divine finger at work, slicing  through stone, was impressive.  He changed the word ‘rules’ to ‘commandments’, to make them  sound more compulsory. 


It was then my job to sell the 10 commandments to the chosen people.  So, I lugged  these two stones downhill, only to find the Israelites having a hooley of a party.  The whole kit and caboodle of total, absolute disobedience, even down to dreaming up a new god  to worship, in the form of a golden calf.  (Not very imaginative as new gods go, but there it is.)  This was the pits.  A whole day of stone carving with Himself, followed by a steep descent carrying my body weight in stone, I wasn’t at my best, you will understand.  I threw one of the stones at them.  


Big mistake.  Huge. I had the stone with the first five, all in the Almighty’s glorious script.  In truth, they were all about Him. ‘ No other god but me’ and ‘don’t take my name in vain’  being the general theme.  The other stone, with items 6-10, was smashed to smithereens. When I calmed down, I realised I was in a bit of a spot.  The chosen people were now shuffling off to bed, looking suitably chasten.  There I was tired, hungry, with only one tablet and a lot of explaining to do whenever his Godness next turned up.


Back up the mountain I go, taking with me my brother Aaran, who was a dab hand with a chisel.  By the time we got to the top, His Magnificence had disappeared, probably gone off to find someone else to make miserable. Aaron waited patiently for me to remember the remaining five commandments.  The best I could do was:

Thou must go to the toilet before embarking on any journey, long or short.


Nobody but the Almighty knows where we are, so stop asking.


Thou shall bury all human toilet matter and leave not a trace.


Share and share alike, else I’ll lose my rag because I’ve told you at least once before.


A goat meat sandwich to the one who sees the next burning bush first.

I was quite pleased with these. My brother gave me a very strange look, but didn’t argue.   He got down to it, in the style of the first tablet.   Unfortunately on the way back down, I slipped on the worst bit of the descent and dropped the new tablet.  As if in slow motion, I watched it bounce away from me and break into very small pieces.  I suspected the hand of God was involved. By which I mean….He damn well pushed me.


I was too knackered to go up Mount Sinai again, so Aaron went in my stead.  He spent a day up there and came back with yet another second tablet on which he had inscribed commandments 6 to 10.  Not the ones I had specified, but they were ok.  Good enough. To my relief they went down well. 


Then we were off again, into the wilderness, following burning bushes.  Me and about 1 million people, men, women and children.  Oh yes, I did end up counting them.  Can you imagine the queue at the bakery?

© Gaynor Kavanagh