The Holy Mountain

‘What happened?’ asked Aaron. There was awe in his voice. Moses was puzzled.
‘You know what happened,’ he said gently. ‘I had to go to the Holy Mountain to hear Yahweh. . It is strange, but I seem to be able to hear him best in really wild places. I have no idea why that is. I keep hoping that when we make sacrifices, when we sing to him, I will hear him clearly – but I do not.’ This had always puzzled Aaron. He was not at all sure how one heard Yahweh, and at the same time convinced that he got nearest to it when he was in a good crowd, all doing the same thing for Yahweh; either sacrificing an animal, or in the feast afterwards, sharing in the holy meal. Then he came very close to feeling at one with his people and with Yahweh – God and man at one banquet together. But all this he knew. ‘So you went to the Holy Mountain,’ he prompted, ‘hoping he was still in the bush, knowing if he wasn’t it was still your best chance of hearing him. Asking him for a different kind of help. You absolutely totally banned anybody else from going near the place. You said that otherwise you would not hear him.
‘And you came back with a very sensible set of laws.’ Moses looked discomforted, further puzzling Aaron, who nevertheless continued ‘We were not to risk worshipping any other Gods or worshipping at their sites. We were to sacrifice all first-born male animals to him, but we were only to cut the foreskins off our male babies as a sacrifice. No lying, cheating, stealing. The only one I don’t get is not boiling a kid in its mother’s milk.’
‘Oh Aaron – that is the best one!’ said Moses, ’That is the one I wish I had thought of myself. Don’t you see? What kind of a brute could break the bond of mother and child like that? It would impoverish the family doing it to their flocks – harden them. ‘
‘Of course,’ said Aaron, hastily, very hastily, ‘But what happened?’
‘I told all of you. It was wonderful What really happened was that Yahweh promised, absolutely totally promised that if we tried hard keep these laws, Yahweh would always be our God. He would never leave us. He would forgive us when we forgot or things went wrong. He would always, always be with us. Always. Everywhere.’
Aaron slowly lifted his eyes to Moses face. He looked him in the eyes. Moses, looking back, saw an awe so great it was almost fear. ‘What is it, Aaron?’ he asked, beginning to be afraid himself.
‘Something else happened,’ persisted Aaron, ‘tell me.’
‘I asked to see him,’ said Moses, reluctantly, ‘and as soon as I asked I knew I never could. I could never see the whole of him. He is too big, too bright. I was afraid of what I had asked, and I still wanted it more than anything. He understood. I hid my face, and I heard him go by. Then I looked up, and I saw, something I cannot find words for.’ He paused, struggling for an image, for anything that that connected to the world around him. There was silence, then: ‘I saw a corner of his cloak sweep by. That is the nearest I can get to it. Just his hem. It was the best thing I have ever seen.’
‘I know,’ said Aaron, ‘we all knew you had seen – something. It is in your face.’

3 thoughts on “The Holy Mountain

  1. The astute reader will see that Moses did not come down the mountain with the form of the Law known as the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments. There is more than one version in the accounts of the exodus of the core of the law which Moses brought. They are usually described as ‘codes’ (as in code-of-honour, not ‘da Vinci’) I have gone with the Covenant Code. It certainly has as good a claim to be near the core Law as any other, and I have a hunch that it may in fact closely underlie the Decalogue. Besides I think we need to get back to a proper respect for our livestock.
    The even more astute reader will see that I have created a Moses almost as pick-and-mix as the Moses of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. However writings of the Deuteronomists colour all my thought. They are thought to include not only the book which bears their name, but also much of the history books and the prophet Jeremiah is said to have close links to their way of thought. I myself feel the views of the Deuteronomists are not all that unified, but there are common links. I’ve spent altogether too long reading the Hebrew Scriptures for their way of thinking not to have sunk into my very being. Even when dealing with Moses’s teaching sessions (which are thought to come from a latish source dominated by priests aka P) I find Moses taking a path Jeremiah would love, bless him.

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