So come wander with us through the sands of the desert and experience what life was like for the nomads who made the wilderness their home.
At the foot of Mt. Sinai, the goat-hair tent is being set up for the gala affair. Torch lit lanterns flicker in the starry sky, bathing the hostesses in celestial light. With their jack-be-nimble fingers, they prepare their costumes for the celebration. Working at a feverish frenzy, sweat beading her upper lip, Mary spins wool into fabric on her portable loom. Pleased when she has produced three hostess tunics, hands them to Lyn with a beaming blush. “Whew, thought I’d never get these suckers sewn together, but here they are.”
Lyn snatches them from Mary’s grasp and clucks her tongue. “We can’t be seen in these common fabrics,” she hisses, her hair frizzing from the desert heat. “Have you no sense of fashion, woman?” With a disgusted roll of her eyes, she dunks each of the tunics into the basin of dye she has prepared from the herbs she’s collected all day. Blue from the bark, yellow from pomegranate, lilac from myrtle, and red from henna root. With her stick, she swishes the tunics around until just the right color is desired. Lying them on the stones to dry, she beams at Mary. “Now we’ll be befitting. I want lilac since it’s my favorite color.”
“I’ll take yellow,” Mary snorts. But suddenly the air swooshes through the olive branches as Sharon comes out of the tent, frowning, her lips twitching with annoyance. “Surely, we need a bit more frills for the festival tonight. Allow me to show you how to make our tunics into halugs.” Sharon snaps her fingers. “Over the heads they go.”
Once Mary and Lyn are standing in their tunics, Sharon gathers the material at the shoulder and clips it with a gold artifact. Handing them leather belts to loop around their waists, she nods her approval as she steps into her blue halug and decorates it. “Much better. And once we complete our chores, we’ll add our cloaks and veils. Now we must help Oliver prepare for the celebration.”
Huffing and puffing, Mary climbs to the top of Mt. Sinai to fetch water from the spring. Filling two buckets, she stops to admire a flock of sheep. Cuddles and Junior, donned in their headpieces to shield the sun out, herd the sheep.
Lyn continues to stir the red henna dye with a vengeance. Wanting just the right color for the makeup, she peers a little closer. Sharon sits at the entrance of the cave, carving pieces of bark into combs. Oliver, dressed in black and adorned in striped headpiece,busies himself by setting up large basins of sweet red wine outside the tent for the gala. On the stones, he bakes Manna cake for the guests.
And with a clop clop, a caravan materializes around the mountainside, and on a beautiful camel sits Aggie Villanueva, looking beautiful in a red linen halug, fringes and gold necklace and headpiece. Oliver helps her down and escorts her up the silken road to the tent. When she sees what has been written in stone, she beams:
Rightfully Mine Excerpt
By Aggie Villanueva
Rizpah examined the features of this man Hanniel who she knew still loved her, despite her discouragement. Two weeks ago she could not have realized such depth from his bumbling attempt to comfort her, but she understood now that what he lacked in speech, he made up for in music. Rizpah viewed Hanniel through new eyes. Torchlight flickered over his wide nostrils, quivering in song. His thick, sensitive lips caressed the haunting melody and his face was a circle of mystery and enticement above the embrace of his lyre. Hanniel was attractive enough that maidens of Manasseh continually sought to marry him, yet Rizpah had always found his face unexciting and bland, like unseasoned lentils. But tonight...
“Mistress?” a servant whispered to Rizpah.
“I have a message for you to meet Caleb of Judah in the Tent of Meeting.”
Rizpah stared at Mahlah, who shook her head. “I know nothing of it.”
Ducking out of the moonlit edges of the wedding party, her eyes met Moses’. She thought he winked at her.
Surely it is only the torchlight’s reflection.
The Tabernacle was deserted. Not even the illumination of the full moon penetrated the insulated ceilings of the Tent of meeting. The only light was from the Golden Lamp Stand, throwing divergent shadows across the room at will, slicing the silence with its flames. Rizpah felt chilled.
“I am here.”
Rizpah whirled at the sound of his voice behind her. He stepped from the shadows of the tent door, but said nothing.
“Should we be here?” Rizpah indicated the Holy Place.
“I have Moses’ permission.”
At the mention of their leader, she was alert. “Has this to do with Moses?”
“Yes, I have spoken with him. He took your appeal before Elohim and has heard from the Most High.”
In the following silence, Rizpah searched his eyes for the answer she had awaited with dread these past two weeks, but she could find no clues there. He only watchedher. She shifted her weight, and still he stared. She probed again with her eyes, but he was silent. She could wait no longer. Doubling her fist, she pummeled his
arm, waiving formalities with him. “Will you tell me or not?”
Caleb laughed, startling her. “I told Moses I wished to be the one to tell you the news, but I didn’t know I was inviting battle. I should have guessed the first night under the stars, when you growled at me because you found this plain unfavorable, that I was in the presence of a tigress. Is no one safe from you?”
“You are teasing me,” Rizpah stated, amazed at Caleb’s camaraderie.
At Rizpah’s beseeching look, he relented. “All right, I will tell you. The Lord said you are right.”
“I am right?”
“You are right.” Caleb laughed again.
“The land is ours?”
“The land is yours.”
Rizpah wavered. Caleb’s arm steadied her. What is he saying? I was right? The elders of Israel rebuked me with their shunning and Elohim has declared I am right? Uncle Salu publicly denounced me and the Lord
Elohim declares I was right? She turned a stunned face to Caleb. “Is this a dream?”
“No, Rizpah. And not only that, Elohim has ordered a new law made that if any man dies and leaves no son, his inheritance must go to his daughters.”
“But women cannot own land.”
“This day they can.” Caleb threw an arm high. “Rizpah, do you realize what you have wrought? This day, a new law is made in Israel. You stood for justice and now daughters can own land.”
“I stood for justice?” Rizpah echoed, reminded of her father’s prophetic words.
You will stand for justice and justice will circumcise you.
Now she understood. These two weeks she had thought surely she would be cut off. But now...
“You stood for justice,” Caleb affirmed, touching her chin to guide her gaze back to him. His voice was low.
“I know I admired you since that night last summer beneath the stars. I gave you the opportunity to deny your father’s words gracefully, about your feelings for me.” Rizpah winced at the painful memory, but Caleb kept a firm hold of her chin. “Though you risked humiliation, you were truthful. That took great courage, the kind of courage that caused me no surprise when you stood against your uncle.”
Caleb’s eyes traced her features, softened by the dim lamplight in the Tabernacle. He lowered her shawl from her head and smoothed her hair. Rizpah’s heart pounded and her breath came in short gasps. “Do you know how beautiful you are?” He continued before she could blush. “My heart has long resisted you, but you battle aggressively even in love. It is true: no one is safe from you, not even I.”
And before we enjoy the sweet wine and Manna cake, answer the question to be eligible for the prize, a download of Aggie’s book. Here is the question: What appeared to Moses on Mt. Sinai?