Sunday, April 4, 2010

Cold blood

“What is it?” asked Joshua.

“Come here,” Moses replied, “both of you.”

Joshua and Phinehas cautiously approached, with Caleb following behind, if only for moral support.

Moses glared into their eyes. “I said kill them all.”

“We did,” Joshua replied “they're only women and children.”

Moses breathed a deep sigh, stroked his beard, and took time to compose himself.
“I know the torment that grips your soul,” he continued. “Spare them and our sons will be fighting for a thousand years, or worse, they'll marry. Whose children will they raise? Abraham’s or Baal’s? You think the Messiah will come if there are no children of Abraham left on the earth?

Joshua could barely accept what he was hearing. “But surely...surely the only just thing to do... I didn't know...”

“Oh yes you did,” Moses interrupted. “You just didn't want to know. You wanted to bargain with God. Believe me, I've been there myself.”

Joshua bowed his head in shame. He had never felt so humiliated in all his life. If this is what a leader must do, he thought, God why did you choose me?

Moses turned his attention to Caleb, who by now was looking rather sheepish himself.
“Caleb, spare the girls. Get rid of the boys and women.”

“Yes,” Caleb answered, “if that's what you want, I’ll do it.”

Moses raised his finger sternly, “No. That's what God wants.”

Who could answer that? thought Joshua as he watched Caleb and Phinehas walk back and begin the gruesome task of separating the living from those who would soon be dead.

Moses gently put his arm around Joshua, pulling him aside from the cries of mothers desperately clinging to their children. “A great prophet will come after me.”

“The Messiah?” asked Joshua.

“Yes,” Moses replied. “Be sure to do everything he tells you.”

Amidst the bloodcurdling screams and wailing, Joshua stood emotionless watching Moses walk back into the camp. Is this what I’ll become? He thought to himself. If this is leadership, then it's a burden too great to bear. “God,” said Joshua to himself, “I just want to be free.”

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