Hurray! It is that time of the year again. Spring has come, the weather has changed, flowers have bloomed, and Passover is here! For me and my siblings, all sorts of wonderful memories are associated with this fun biblical festival.
It says in the Bible that we are to recount the things Yehovah did in Egypt, and this year, we recounted the Exodus by doing creative writing assignments. I, of course, was very happy to write. Since I enjoy writing so much, I was commissioned to write two stories, one about what it would have been like to live during the plague of pestilence and one about what it would have been like to live through the final plague, the death of the first-born. I want to share them both with you.
The Plague of Pestilence
Early one day, I stepped out of my home, thinking of all of the plagues we in Egypt had endured. I shuddered as I remembered what I had heard this morning just before Father left. He told Mother that Mosheh had gone to visit Pharaoh. That could only mean one thing–another plague was headed our way. I pet one of our cows, who was laying sleepily on the ground, as I left, skipping cheerfully away to the Nile to play with the other girls my age.
When I came back later that afternoon, I looked at the cow I had pet earlier. He was dead. Then I looked around at our other animals. They were all dead. They had all died in one day. They stunk. It was one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen. I gave a shriek and ran into the house. “Mother!” I yelled. “The animals, they all died!”
“Yes,” Mother nodded solemnly. “It is another plague.”
“Why?” I asked. “Aren’t the gods supposed to protect the animals?” Mother looked at me blankly and answered not a word.
The Death of the First-born
One hot Egyptian day, Abba came into the house carrying a little lamb! Can you believe it? It was so small, soft, and cute. Yerachmiel, my brother, told me that the lamb was only one year old! Havah and Sarah, my sisters, and I all were cooing over the lamb.
“What is he doing in here, Abba?” Sarah asked.
“Mosheh said that every family should take a lamb and slaughter it in a few days. That way we will be safe from the next plague,” Abba answered. I wondered what the next plague would be, but I was too sad and surprised to ask.
“We’ll have to kill the lamb?” asked Havah, her brown eyes bulging from her thin face. Sarah and I stared wordlessly at Abba.
“Yes, we will have to,” Abba said, A sympathetic but stern look crossing his severely sunburnt face.
“But why, Abba?” Sarah asked.
“It is what Mosheh said to do,” Abba said. All of us girls glanced nervously at each other.
“Then I guess we had better do it!” Ima called. She was right. Yehovah punished everyone who did not obey Mosheh, because if you do not obey Mosheh, then you do not obey Yehovah because Mosheh says what Yehovah wants us to do.
For the next few days the lamb was in the house with us. He jumped on our table, he ate some of our food, he lay by the fire with us while Abba told us stories of Canaan, the Promised Land, and he was ready to play with us when we children had a spare moment. Somehow we found a lot of spare moments, even though we were extremely busy.
After the lamb had been with us for two days, Ima and Sarah went out to visit all of our Egyptian neighbors. “Mosheh says that we are to ask the Egyptians for objects of silver and gold,” Ima explained.
“I doubt that they will give us anything,” I scoffed, rolling my eyes.
“We will see,” Ima said in a very interesting tone.
Later that evening Ima and Sarah came back with baskets loaded with silver and gold. Sarah, Havah, and I danced around our house singing, “We are rich now!” It was a lot of fun!
The day after that, Abba came back from working for Pharoah. He was sweating and hot, so Ima got him a cup of water. Then he turned to Yerachmiel and said, “It is time.” A somber look crossed his face as he set down the empty cup and headed back out of the door, Yerachmiel following behind. A sudden, sinking feeling came upon me. I had never felt that before. I moved slowly toward the corner of our small home. Havah ran over to my side and tugged on my worn dress.
“Rina,” she said, a deep sadness filling her beautiful eyes.
“Yes, Havah?” I said, stroking her knotted brown hair.
“Is Abba going…” She whispered, her lips quivering, “to kill the lamb?”
“I’m afraid so,” I said, as tears filled our eyes. I hugged my little sister close as Sarah joined us. We three sisters sat down and cried together. Little Yitzchak, who was just learning to speak, turned to us and said, “What is wrong?” I looked at his face, so full of youthfulness and sincerity. “Oh, don’t worry about us, Yitzchak,” I said, tears falling.
The little lamb that had been walking about unnoticed came over to us girls. Just then Abba walked in to get the lamb, but I snatched it up in my arms.
“Hand him to me, Rina,” Abba said in a gentle voice.
“Why must you do this, Abba?” I cried.
“Because Mosheh said so. Did I not tell you?” he answered.
“But why did Mosheh say to kill the lamb?” Havah asked, a pout crossing her thin tear-streaked face.
“Because Yehovah told him this is how to escape the plague,” Abba said. Then he continued, “I am surprised you curious girls did not ask me what the plague is.”
“You know?” Sarah called in surprise.
“What is it?” Havah asked. I stayed silent.
“It is a very sad plague–the worst of them all,” Abba said.
“How could anything be worse than what we have already endured?” I muttered gloomily.
“You know how in the last plagues all of the plants, animals, and some people died?” Abba asked.
“Yes,” we answered in unison. We knew the horrors of the plagues all too well, even though we were Hebrews and had been spared from most of them. Abba had told us about the awful things he had seen. And once, during the previous plague, we had gone to the boundary of Goshen and seen the darkness. It was so freaky.
“Well, in this plague,” Abba explained, “all of the first-born males of animals and men will die–all of those who do not have the blood of a lamb on their doorposts.” We were frozen in shock. This truly was worse than the other plagues. Death. The very word made goosebumps rise on my arms.
“None of us will die, right, Abba?” Havah asked, her eyes fearful and teary. I wished she did not have to worry about such matters.
“No, no, dearest!” Abba said, picking Havah up. “None of us will die. Do not be scared. But, in order that Yerachmiel will not die, we must slay our lamb.”
We all looked at Yerachmiel as he entered our home. He looked at our tearful faces with a somber, manly expression. He was the first-born, strong and responsible. Abba’s voice broke the silence as he said, “So, girls, who would you rather have die–the lamb or Yerachmiel?”
Sarah and Havah ran to Yerachmiel as I gave the lamb to Abba and said while crying, “We choose for the lamb to die so our brother can live.”
“Good,” Abba said, as he held the lamb in his arms. Then he and Yerachmiel left with the lamb as we girls stood side by side solemnly watching.
Later, as the lamb roasted in the fireplace, my heart ached. Abba brushed the blood on the doorposts. I looked at Yerachmiel and reminded myself that I would rather have the lamb gone than have Yerachmiel gone. I busily helped Ima prepare our Passover meal. Ima explained the rules of the Passover meal: no leaven, no water on the meat, and we must eat bitter herbs. We should eat it quickly, and we should have our sandals on.
“Why must we eat quickly, Ima?” Sarah asked, as she mixed the bread dough.
“Because Mosheh says to do this. I am not certain why,” Ima replied. “But I am sure something amazing is about to happen.”
When the sun set, we ate our Passover meal hastily, just like Ima said we should. Nothing amazing or crazy happened as we ate our Passover lamb and bitter herbs.
“When will the death come, Abba?” Havah asked with scared eyes.
“No death will come to our house, Havah, because we have the blood on our doorposts,” Abba explained. “But to the people who have no blood on their doorposts, the death will come at midnight.”
After the Passover meal, we all sat around and did nothing for a few minutes since we were told by Mosheh not to work. It was so weird because we are usually working all of the time.
“We had better get some sleep,” Abba said, walking toward the fire. He burned the leftover meat in the fire. Abba explained that Mosheh told us not to leave any of our meat until morning. We all wrapped up in our blankets as Abba put out the fire. Then everything was dark. I soon drifted off into a world of dreams.
In the middle of the night I woke to a piercing scream. “Rina,” Havah called, as she gripped onto me. “Is it the death?”
“I-I-I think so,” I stuttered, still scared and sleepy.
“It is midnight,” I heard Abba say from the other side of the room “We are all okay, girls.”
“Praise Yehovah,” I heard Yerachmiel say.
“Thank Yehovah you are okay,” Ima said. Again and again we heard the wails of the Egyptian women all around us. It was so freaky and terrifying.
“Did all of the Egyptians first-born get killed, Abba?” Havah asked.
“No, not all,” Abba said. “Some Egyptians put blood on their doors.” We all sat there stunned. None of us could sleep. None of us even tried. Then, suddenly, someone was banging at our door. Abba opened the door and found one of our neighbors standing there.
“Hurry! Pharaoh said we can leave and we must leave quickly!” he called. We grabbed everything we owned: our bowls, our plates, our unleavened bread, our tools, the stuff from the Egyptians, and more. We charged out the door and joined the millions of people who were assembling for the departure. My sisters and I sang cheerfully of Yehovah’s goodness in delivering us from Egypt. Everyone was full of unmeasurable joy as we marched away from Ramses to freedom.
I hope you enjoyed those!