Grateful coolness in the heat.  

It is said that the Israelites were oppressed by the Egyptians,” remarked an immigrant recently arrived in the Nile Delta.  He was a Jew, far from the fabled milk-and-honey land to the north.  If there had been milk and honey, he groused, he would not be looking for work here among the pagans.  He had an audience of one, his brother-in-law. “The Egyptians had no need to oppress them.  This heat would have been enough.”   

The distance tormented them with visions of cool, blue lakes.  The in-law wished his relative’s loquacity could be turned into a gushing fountain.  God knew it was endless enough.  Why couldn’t he shut up?  It was too hot to talk, to think, to listen, even to pray for relief.  Work was impossible.  Rest was impossible.  Every living thing was miserable.  The animals lay about with mouths open, pleading for air.    

On our dryness pour your dew. 

The sun stood still.  “Like Joshua’s sun,” thought the first man, but now he was too oppressed to say it.  Some hot lion’s paw seemed to press over his face.  Even his ears were mocking him.  Added to the tricks played on the eyes by the teasing mirages were the sounds of joyous banter, women in high good spirits.  Could the heat mimic this, also?   

After a moment he opened his eyes, just to assure himself that he wasn’t going insane.  He had no reason to expect to see women.  But there they were, his wife and sister, looking as refreshed as if it were a Spring holiday in Galilee.  “Where have you been?” he asked with no small amount of astonishment that anyone would venture out on this accursed day.  “To Miryam’s,” they answered cheerfully.  “The carpenter’s place?  On a day like this?”  Their reply seemed as sweet as rain.  “For some reason, it always seems cooler at Miryam’s.” 

Sweet refreshment here below. 


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