Questioning faith in the parsha
Ten Plagues by Simone Zelitch
From the book Moses in the Sinai, By Simone Zelitch
The Pharaoh Merneptah had aged well. Morning walks along the wadi banks kept his flesh firm and clear, and his round head was smooth, save for a crease between his eyebrows. Most days he sat with his maps, a scribe on either hand. Most nights before he went to bed, he shot quail in the dark, and even at an age when the eyes of men grow weak, Merneptah never missed his mark. His cooks were hard-put to roast all the game, and so grew tales of pots which never emptied and feather coverlets piled to the sky.
For Merneptah was also a wizard, a sage, and a holy man. Never had a more pious Pharaoh sat in Goshen. His tomb made his father’s look like a footstool. He laid such bounty at the temple doors that they seemed made more of gold than stone. Around his throne were ten wise men from Thebes, Memphis and Persia, and there had not been such men since the beginning of the world. Each stood seven feet tall, and it was said that a single blink of their eyes could shut the sky like a window. Yet none of those men could cure the queen’s madness, or open her closed womb.