Benjamin shivered in the morning air, a grave expression deepening the lines around his eyes. He was not an old man, although years of labor under the hot sun had weathered his face prematurely. A closer look at the firmness his square jaw retained gave a better indication of his true age. His dark brown eyes were troubled; it was all so confusing.
Young Ben stood beside him with Baby Sarah in his arms. Only a father could see the fear in the boy’s eyes. He was proud of his son; the last few months had really matured him. Benjamin met Leah’s eyes, barely visible now over the head of her eldest child’s head. A brave smile clung to her lips. He watched as her arms went around the little girls’ shoulders, hugging them reassuringly. It was a strange time for them all. What should he do? Believe? Oh, how he wanted to! From a child he’d heard the ancients declare, “Believe! Believe–and we’ll see the God of Abraham deliver His people again. We must always believe.” Benjamin had studied and learned the stories that were so much a part of his people, and then he’d passed them down to his own children. One day, he’d tell them, Jehovah will deliver us from the Egyptians and we’ll again be a strong and mighty nation. We must always believe! But now, there was so much uncertainty.
Who was this Moses and what did anyone really know about him? Some said he was a lost son from the house of Levi, returned to lead his people to the Promised Land. Others whispered rumors of the man’s questionable past. Benjamin didn’t know who he was, but he knew things had gone from miserable to unbearable since the man’s arrival. There was no denying the power of the man’s words, the fulfillment of The Great Promise his father had taught him to look for. Still, the risk they were taking grew larger each day. Benjamin wished his father were still with him, he’d know what to do.
The stir of the crowd drew his attention back to Moses as the man addressed the divided crowd. Benjamin shielded his eyes from the harsh glare of the sun to get a better look at this one that called himself a prophet.
“You must heed the demands of your God,” Moses thundered. “Draw out each of you a lamb from your flock and kill it for your family.”
The man’s eyes searched the crowd as he spoke, his bushy white brows pulling together into one stern line. He seemed capable of reading the minds of those listening—his eyes burned into those of the dissenters. Stretching his hands toward the crowd, he motioned to the heavens with authority, “I speak for Jehovah. Dip a bundle of hyssop in the lamb’s blood and strike the lintel and side posts of your house. No one must leave your home until the morning light. The Lord will pass over tonight. You must continue this ordinance yearly; even after the day the Lord confirms His promise and brings you into the Promised Land. There your children will ask of you the reason and you shall tell them of Jehovah’s Passover and Israel’s deliverance!’
Benjamin bowed his head with the others and worshiped. Slowly the crowd began dispersing. There’d been trouble already from listening to this man. Who knew the consequences of following this day’s admonitions? His own children were silent as Leah gathered them up.
Benjamin came home that evening exhausted from the hard labor the Egyptians demanded. The sweet smell of his wife’s cooking brought a smile to his face as he pushed open the door. Somehow Leah had done it again. He would never understand how she could complete her own hard labors, guide the children through their stories and prayers and have a hot cake ready on the coals when he arrived.
Supper was a quiet affair. Benjamin tried to talk to Leah and the kids during the meager meal but his mind swirled with the decision he was facing. The prophet’s words rang in his ears. To do this…it was like a plea for harder work and less food for his little ones. Pharaoh was getting angrier each day. What if it this wasn’t for real? Benjamin couldn’t talk to Leah, calm sweet Leah, whose parents supported the man’s every word. Maybe he should separate himself from the others and declare loyalty to his taskmasters. He knew Leah felt this was the will of the Holy One. But what if it wasn’t? What if his family was meant to live out their days here? Wasn’t he bound to do what he felt best for their future safety?
Finally Benjamin’s thoughts lined up and fell into place. It was time to believe—Jehovah would see to his family. Something deep within him was compelling him and he knew he had to believe that this was the moment–Jehovah was about to fulfill his Great Promise.
After supper young Ben helped his dad choose the best lamb out of the three they had left. Together they sacrificed it and put the blood on the lintel and doorposts. They were quiet as they worked but it was the best type of silence, a feeling of closeness, of strengthening a father-son bond. The boy even reached for his dad as they went inside and hugged him fiercely. “Don’t worry, Father,” Young Ben said, his voice husky, “It’s the right thing. It’s what you taught us.”
The morning light came accompanied with screams. Benjamin’s stomach rolled as a thousand wails raised in unison. The kids were frightened. They came running to Leah and Benjamin just as the door flew open wide and Benjamin’s heart stopped. It was Nashon, his neighbor–
“The Egyptians!” the man cried. “The firstborn of their families are all dead. ‘Tis true! From the house of Pharaoh to his captives in the dungeon–even their livestock, every firstborn—dead!”
Benjamin reached for his eldest and Young Ben collapsed in his arms like a baby. Safe for now, and confident of their future, Leah repeated her husband’s words, “Believe, children, we must always believe…”
Shellie Rushing Tomlinson
“For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor the leaven of malice and weakness: but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” I Corinthians 5:7