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«The Moses Legacy», Adam Palmer

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Extensive research went into this book, during the course of which I made some amazing discoveries. The historical references herein are a mixture of known facts, conjecture by Egyptologists and my own fertile imagination. For those who are interested in separating the fact from the fiction, there is a wealth of material on Egyptology and Jewish history available from booksellers and in libraries (if our esteemed politicians can be persuaded to keep them open). I sincerely hope this book piques your interest in the subject.


‘Joshua, my time is coming and the mantle of leadership will pass to you.’

The white-haired man was lying down in the cave on a bed of hay, looking at the one whom he had chosen as his successor. The younger man, a dark-haired forty-year-old, had torn his robes in mourning, while the older man yet lived. There were tears of grief in his eyes.

‘I will not leave your side, my teacher.’

Joshua had long known that this day would come, that one day the man who had led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt would be taken to God’s bosom and that he, the loyal disciple, would take over the mantle of leadership from the man to whom he owed so much. Yet he still felt ill-prepared for the duties that would fall upon him. It wasn’t just the fact that this once vibrant man was now reduced to the frail figure before him. It was also the terrifying sight of the red lesions on his mentor’s flesh that looked like fiery snakes.

‘I am not long for this earth, Joshua. When I die, you must bury me here and leave this place forever.’

From the valley below the sound of the murmuring of the people, as they awaited news of their leader, billowed up to the cave on the desert wind.

‘But why must we leave?’ asked Joshua. ‘Why can we not stay here and make peace with the Snake God?’

‘Because the Snake God is false!’ The old man’s voice resonated once again with the strength of his youth. The harsh tone instilled his disciple with fear and joy in equal measure. Despite his age and the ravages of disease, his vitality had not yet deserted him. ‘That is why Jehovah has punished us. It was for our appeasement of the Snake God that we were chastised with disease. Jehovah commanded us to have no other gods before him and yet we built that…’ he waved his arm towards the cave entrance, ‘…that monstrous idol to the Snake God.’

‘Then I shall tear down the monument and show the Snake God that we are loyal only to Jehovah,’ the younger man replied earnestly.

‘That is not enough. This place is cursed. You must lead the people across the river into the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey. Jehovah your God will go with you.’

‘But we are weak. We cannot fight the Canaanites. They are giants and we were like grasshoppers in their eyes.’

A blazing fire lit up the old man’s eyes. ‘ Enough! Do you really believe those foolish rantings? Did not Caleb tell us that Jehovah will give us strength to conquer them?’

‘But they are more numerous than we.’

The old man’s voice mellowed again, as if he had spent himself with his wrath and had no more fight left in him. ‘Then live in the hills not in the valleys, and leave them alone until you are ready. Bide your time, Joshua, just as I bided my time.’

Joshua nodded. But the teacher was not finished. Through his frailty, the old man raised his head and shoulders to speak one more time. Joshua leaned forward to place his ear next to the mouth of Moses.

‘Be strong and courageous. Because you will lead the people into the land which Jehovah promised their fathers… and you will make it their legacy.’

Chapter 1

Khamsin – the hot slow dry wind that blows in from the west.

Derived from the Arabic word for ‘fifty’ because according to Arab tradition, it is supposed to blow for fifty days during the course of the year.

The lean nineteen-year-old from West London was sweltering, unaccustomed to these desert conditions. At least the heat was dry, he thought; that made it just about bearable. All he had to do was remember to drink plenty of water. Having holidayed once in Sharm el-Sheikh, he was grateful that it wasn’t humid here like it was on the coast. But even so, it was weather for relaxing by a hotel swimming pool, not for working on an archaeological dig.

Now, in the heat of a morning in late March, over a dozen fit young students worked in their designated areas under the watchful eyes of Egyptian soldiers. Dressed in t-shirts and Bermuda shorts (referred to locally as ‘Islamic shorts’ because of their relative modesty), these enthusiastic volunteers came from all over the world: Egypt, Europe, South America, even Australia and New Zealand. Each volunteer was assigned an area of one metre square, marked out on a grid with flags stating their co-ordinates.

It was painstaking work. Armed with a metal trowel, plastic scoop and small-headed brush for cleaning larger finds, the youth dug out to a depth of six inches below the previous level, put the contents into his bucket and took it over to the two volunteers who operated the sieve screens. The pair were known as JJ because of their initials: Joel and Jane. Though similar in age – he at the end of his teens, she barely out of hers – they were an unlikely team: the wiry, ginger-haired nerd and the bottle blonde with a cheerleader body. But they had been thrown together by chance and now the two of them were inextricably linked by this coincidence of nomenclature.