Stopping Moses

Deuteronomy Fiction: Vezot Habracha

Stopping Moses

Bukki and his friends hid behind the gooseberry bushes on the Moabite plain. Heart-sized red fruit adorned the bright green bushes. Bukki’s back was to the flowing Jordan River, with the walled city of Jericho sitting lonely in the distance. From the Moabite plain Bukki heard the moaning of a million voices. Some of his friends cried as well.

“Moses is really going to die,” whimpered Assir, a chubby five-year old. “He is leaving us. We will be alone.”

“Quiet,” Bukki hissed to Assir and the other children. At seven years old, Bukki was the oldest and the natural leader. “Moses is almost here. Wait until I stop him, and then follow the plan.”

“I’m scared,” Assir sniffled. “What if he gets angry? We’ll die.”

“Don’t worry,” Bukki waved his hand. “Moses will not hurt us. And even if he does, it’s worth the risk.”

“I’m not sure,” Assir implored.

Bukki peaked through the bushes and spotted Moses approaching, escorted by Joshua.

“Look, Joshua,” Bukki overheard Moses. “Wild gooseberries. I love these. God is gracing my last moments.” Moses plucked several of the ripe fruit, careful to avoid the thorns of the bush. He placed them in the folds of his robe. “I will save these for the climb up the mountain.”

“Stop!” Bukki jumped out from the bushes and blocked the path of Moses who towered above him.

“Hello, Bukki,” Moses said. “What can I do for you?”

“I’m not going to let you die.” Bukki’s voice trembled.

Moses smiled. “It is God’s command. I have always followed God’s command.”

Bukki waved at the bushes. Assir led a row of four other children from behind the bushes. They walked between Moses and Joshua and grabbed on to Moses’ robe from behind. They closed their eyes.

“Oho!” Moses gasped. “What trickery have you hatched, Bukki?”

Bukki stepped forward and grasped the hem of Moses’ robe.

“We will not let you go. If you can’t go up to Mount Nevo, you can’t die. We will hold on to you for the rest of our lives. We are much younger than you and can hold on as long as we need.” Bukki looked up at Joshua. “No disrespect to you sir, but we want Moses to stay with us and take us into Canaan.” Joshua nodded silently.

Moses looked down and around at the children surrounding him.

“Then we might as well make ourselves comfortable,” Moses said as he sat down on the ground.”

The children sat down, still holding on to his robe.

“You are very brave,” Moses said, “for daring to stop me. God has requested my presence and you are delaying my mission.”

“There is one more mission we want you to do. Take us into Canaan.”

Moses sighed. “I wish to with all my heart, my dear Bukki. I would like nothing better than to feel the earth of the Promised Land beneath my feet. To breathe the air of its mountains. To taste its fruit. Its grapes. Its figs. To sit in the shade of its trees. To drink the sight of its sunrises and sunsets. But it is not to be.”

“So come with us. I don’t always listen to my parents,” Bukki whispered. “You have argued with God before. It’s right here across the river. Please.”

“I have often argued with God, and I argued much on this point, but I always listen in the end and so must you. My mission with the Children of Israel is complete. It has been long and difficult. God has assigned the conquest of Canaan to Joshua. You must let me go.”

The other children looked nervously at Bukki.

“No,” Bukki pouted. “We need you. How will we manage without you?”

“That is why I must leave. You need to learn to manage without me. You have Joshua, you will have other leaders. You, Bukki, will be a leader one day as well. And you have the Torah. Never forget the Torah. Never let its words leave your mouth. That will guard you better than anything. It is God’s word and we must follow it.”

The children continued to hold his robe.

“Have you heard, how I killed Og the giant?” Moses asked.

The children nodded.

“I jumped to a very great height. Would you like to see that?”

The children looked at each other in confusion.

“But first I want to give you each a gift.”

Moses stood up and out of the folds of his robe he removed the ripe gooseberries. He raised his hands like a magician and showed one fruit in-between each of his spread out fingers. He flung one fruit at each of the children, one at Joshua and put one back in his robe. Bukki let the fruit bounce off his chest as he held tight to Moses’ robe. Joshua caught his fruit. The rest of the children caught the fruit letting go of the robe.

Moses crouched for a second and then leapt a dozen feet into the air. Bukki, still clutching the robe, was pulled along, screaming. Moses caught Bukki in midair and they both fell back to the ground, with Bukki in Moses’ arms.

Moses put Bukki back on his feet. Bukki’s whole body shook. He had let go of Moses’ robe.

“I need to go now, Bukki,” Moses said.

“I don’t understand.”

“You will one day.”

“We will miss you.”

“I know. I will miss all of you too.”

Moses began to walk up the mountain, never to be seen by mortal man again. As he ascended, he drew the remaining gooseberry out of his robe and took a hearty bite.

* * * * * *

Biblical Sources:

Deuteronomy Chapter 34

1 And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, even Gilead as far as Dan; 2 and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah as far as the hinder sea; 3 and the South, and the Plain, even the valley of Jericho the city of palm-trees, as far as Zoar. 4 And the Lord said unto him: ‘This is the land which I swore unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying: I will give it unto thy seed; I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.’ 5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. 6 And he was buried in the valley in the land of Moab over against Beth-peor; and no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. 7 And Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. 8 And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days.

Secondary Sources:

Rashi: The Children of Israel tried to prevent Moses from ascending Mount Nebo.

Names:

Bukki is the grandson of Pinhas son of Elazar son of Aaron, the High Priest. Mentioned in I Chronicles 5:31

Assir is the grandson of Korach. Mentioned in I Chronicles 6:22

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