The Burning Bush




BEYOND the desert pastures, closely grazed

By Midian's myriad flocks, even to the foot

Of Horeb's sacred mount, the man of God

Had led his sheep. Here, undisturbed by cares,

Save that his flocks strayed not, he mused alone.

And, while reclining in some friendly shade

Whose ever changing, ever varying form

Serves to remind him of the changes sad

From years long gone, he lives his life again.

The favorite of Egypt's princely court

And captain of her mighty men, once more

He wields the sword of power at the head

Of armed hosts, or with his chariot, fierce

Descending, spreads confusion and dismay

Among his enemies. Again he sees

His brethren groaning 'neath the oppressor's hand;

And then, impatient for the time to lead

Them forth from bondage to the promised land,

He metes swift vengeance on the man who wronged

An Israelite, and for his daring deed,

He flees the wrath of an offended king.

And now, the years of his humility

He lives again. Long had he thought to see

His kindred and his friends once more, and bring

Them out from Egypt's cruel servitude;

But hope deferred has made him sick at heart,

And he has yielded to the stern decree

Of fate, content to lead a shepherd's life,

And in his solitude, commune with God.

His raven locks and flowing beard are whitened with the flight of years,

His softened heart, no longer young, finds sweet relief in bitter tears.

A startling sight disturbs his reverie-

A fierce, consuming fire in a bush

Is burning with a steady flame, and yet

The bush is not consumed. "This is most strange,"

The prophet said; "I will now turn aside

And see this sight, and why the bush burns not."

With cautious steps the holy man draws near,

When, lo! The voice of God calls from the flame.

With trembling, Moses answered, "Here am I."

Again the voice directs him, "Draw not nigh,

But put thy shoes from off thy feet, for where

Thou standest now is holy ground. I am

Thy fathers' God, the God of Abraham,

The God of Isaac, and of Israel."

But Moses feared, and hid his face from God.

Once more the voice speaks to the trembling man:

"The great affliction of my people I have seen,

And I have heard their cry, and I am come

To bring them up out of that land unto

A good land and a large, a land with milk

And honey flowing. Come, now, I will send

Thee unto them, that thou mayst bring them forth."

But Moses answered: "Who am I, that thou

Shouldst send by me? I am not eloquent;

I speak with broken words and faltering tongue."

Then said the Lord to him: "Who made man's mouth?

Who made the dumb? Is it not I, the Lord?"

But Moses said, "I pray thee, 0 my Lord,

That thou wilt send by him whom thou wilt send."

Then was God angry with the man, because

He had no faith, when he had seen the signs

And wonders great which God had wrought for him.

"Go," said the Lord. "Behold, thy brother I

Will give to be a mouth for thee; and thou

Shalt be as God to him." And Moses went.