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May 13, 2014 / Fantelius

The Found Baby

Amatris, the youngest of three princesses, was unchallenged in beauty. Were it not for her simple mind, incapable of lies or deception, her sisters would have represented a threat. They were however as charmed by her naked simplicity as everyone.

An attempted raped at the age of 13 by a court guard, left Amatris physically, but not mentally, undamaged. Even a suggestion of intimacy with a man would trigger hysterics in this otherwise delicate creature. Her aversion to men was as strong as her desire for a child. By the time she was 17 Amitris had developed the posture and manners of a pregnant woman. This behavior generated tears throughout the castle. Her sisters, moved by Amitris’ sadness (and anxious about her obsessive interest in their own children), came upon a solution.

A trusted servant was tasked with stealing a baby from a distant village. This accomplished, the child was placed in a straw boat and set afloat less than 20 meters from where the three sisters happened to be taking lunch beside the river. Simsalabim! Amitris found her child. The pharaoh entertained strong suspicions about “the find” but chose not to pursue the matter.

The child was named Moasisso and grew up as a member of the royal family. His lack of royal blood excluded him from traditional training in the art of war. He studied math, magic and astrology with the priests instead. Positioned to observe rather than participate in the intrigues at the upper levels of power, Mos, as he came to be called, grew into an advisor and negotiator. By today’s standards he would be considered the law firm for The Pharaoh Corporation.

Most of the country had come once again under the control of the pharaoh after liberating itself from foreign forces. The Isalaks, a federation of twelve tribes to the south, had liberated themselves and showed no inclination to submit to the authority of the pharaoh. They were prepared to defend their hard-won territory with the same weapons and tactics that had proven successful against foreign occupiers in their parent’s generation. Attempts to force them into submission would undoubtedly be a long, bloody and costly enterprise. Mos was sent to talk sense into these people.

The negotiating processes extended over several years with bloody skirmishes punctuating the determination of each party. Mos harvested respect among the Isalaks. He felt an affiliation with these people that he couldn’t explain. In time he was negotiating as much on their behalf as for the pharaoh. The 29-year-old widow Marekim captured his roaming heart shortly before he reached 35. Her 14-year-old son Aralon had been his assistant and apprentice among the Isalaks.

Awaking from a night in Marekim’s arms Mos was struck by a revelation. The seemingly hopeless conflict between the Isalaks and the pharaoh was, with Mos’ negotiating skills, about to be solved.

Mos informed the pharaoh of his lack of progress with the obstinate Isalaks and added:
“We’re not getting anywhere with these hard-headed mavericks. We’ve been putting off going to war with them long enough. Although it is going to be costly and painful, we must show them who runs this country once and for all.”
The pharaoh answered as Mos had anticipated,
“You’re right of course. But where are we going to get the money? You know the state of our finances with the pyramid construction and all.”
“You could raise the taxes in the provinces. Canaan, for instance, it’s nearly half the size of all Egypt,” exaggerated Mos. “Surely they can contribute more to the war effort as they enjoy our protection.”
Mos met the pharaoh’s look with an innocent face suggesting that he was as ignorant as the pharaoh assumed.
“Mos, you’re an excellent diplomat and a good magician, but you know nothing about the administration of the empire. Were we to raise the taxes in Canaan 100% we’d still have nothing. We get nothing from there. There’s nothing to get. It’s a pitiful, poor country dotted with small kingdoms most of which aren’t larger than one can walk the length in half an hour. It would cost more to go there than what could be brought back.”
Mos pretended to know nothing of this and said jokingly, “Perhaps we could send the Isalaks there to collect.”
The pharaoh laughed. “Yes, and perhaps we can teach our hens to hunt foxes.”
Both men laughed. Mos prepared to leave when he feigned getting an idea.
“What if we could get the Isalaks to leave and settled in Canaan?”
“And why in the name of Isis would they want to do that?”
“Perhaps a clever diplomat could convince them that it is in their best interests.”
“Have you been drinking Isalak wine again? What are you thinking? Not even your golden tongue could convince the Isalaks to leave Egypt and settle in Canaan.”
“I have an idea. Let me try!”
“Let you waste your time is what you’re asking. I have a lot for you to do here. You know how long it takes to travel there and back.”
“You’re probably right, but it’s worth a try. If I can succeed you’ll be master of the entire country. The Isalak territory is not without merits. The question is, can you afford to not let me try? Do we have any other plan, short of a costly war, for dealing with these donkey-heads?”
Reluctantly, the pharaoh consented.

When the laughter of the council subsided, Mos said, “Moving to Canaan is one choice. The other is to stop fucking.”
Mos waited for the confusion to sink to in. “You are well-known for your fertility. Your many sons are already a problem. Where are they to go? How are you to expand? How can you prevent them from fighting each other? Shall you stop producing sons? Shall you stop fucking? Perhaps you can avoid a confrontation with the pharaoh for a generation or two, but it will come. And it will come in the face of a much more powerful pharaoh as his might grows steadily. The Isalaks will be wiped out. Not even their name will survive.”
Mos didn’t wait for the mumbling among the council to develop. “You are brave men in battle, but you quiver in the face of the unknown. Canaan should not awaken your fear, but your lust. It is many times larger than this territory, a land of sweet water between a great river and the sea. The figs and dates grow as big as your fists. It’s large enough to form a great kingdom. Great enough to stand proud among any kingdom on earth.”
“What about the people who are there? Such a fine place cannot be empty.”
“The people are spread out in tiny kingdoms. No kingdom is larger than any one of your tribes. Together you could conquer the country easily.”
“Then why hasn’t anyone conquered it?”
“It belongs to the pharaoh,” said Mos. Before the protests could start he continued, “I’m rather certain I can get him to agree to allow you to settle there.”
“No one gives land to their enemies.”
“They do if it rids them of one enemy and protects them from others,”
said Mos and explained. “The Isalaks and Canaan trouble the pharaoh. Canaan forms the outer territory of the empire and is vulnerable to attacks by the city-states from the great rivers. It has been left unmolested because the river peoples spend most of their time fighting among themselves and they fear that an attack on Canaan would bring the pharaoh upon them. If the Isalaks took over, it would seem as though the pharaoh was strengthening the territory.”
“So you suggest we leave our homes, go to a strange place and defend the pharaoh!”
“No!” said Mos with such force that the council stared in shock. He continued in a slow, majestic voice. “I suggest that you escape a destiny of annihilation, conquer a fertile land and make kings of your sons. You will be defending no one in Canaan but yourselves. The pharaoh hesitates to attack you here. How will he act when you have build a mighty kingdom?”
Mos was nearly forgotten in the lively discussion vibrating through the council. He waited like a lion to pounce on them.
“And…” he said in a voice that seemed to come from a base-heavy amplifier, “Me and my god will go with you.”

The knowledge that mighty Mos would be with them weighed heavily. They knew Mos was powerful. The pharaoh himself valued his words. They’d seen him disappear in a cloud of smoke, transform a stick into a snake, make wine of water and perform other miracles. But a god? He has a god?
“Tell us about your god, honored Mos! What is his name?”
“He has no name. He is god. Eh! Like a breath that asks no permission to leave your mouth. He is the god of gods.”
“Ra then? What about Ra (the most powerful god of Egypt)?”
“He is also the Ra’s god, Ra-ehl. He is the god of everyone and everything. Everywhere.
And I speak to Eh. I have spoken to him about you. He is willing to adopt you as his people. He will be faithful to you, protect you and lay your enemies to waste. If, IF, you are faithful to him.”
The Isalaks struggled to grasp such a concept. No one had ever heard of a god for people. Gods ruled the elements and presided at different places, even small gods for a house or garden. A god for people, for a group of people!? How could such a thing be?

Mos devised the single god concept in a revelation. If this enterprise was to be successful, unity must reign. What better way to unify these people than under an all-powerful god who could follow them on their journey? The Isalaks were locked into the necessity of a common defense, but constantly bickered among themselves. The conflicts often extended beyond bickering. Many of the Isalaks had been slaves before the country was overrun. Their pride knew no limits. Anger sat on a hair-trigger. Blood flowed often. Killing occurred.

The concept of a single god for a people could not take root immediately. It wasn’t important. Mos would be with them, lead them. A decision was close but doubt still crawled through the council. It was time for the final blow, the knockout punch.

“One more thing,” said Mos and waited until he had their attention, “Eh has told me that I must be with you in spirit as well as body. To confirm this, I will be circumcised. I will become an Isalak. And to confirm his commitment to you, he requires that you show your commitment to him by circumcising all male children. This will be a mark showing that you serve no one other than the god of gods.”

Marekim, listening at the periphery of the meeting with the other women, regarded this as a declaration of love.

Circumcision had been the pharaoh’s method of marking his slaves. When the slaves escaped during the invasion and occupation, they mingled with the farmers in the countryside, mostly among the Isalaks, who were little more than slaves themselves. It did not go unnoticed that the women of circumcised men tended to become pregnant more easily and survived childbirth more readily than other women. Men started circumcising themselves as a form of fertility rite. The requirement of Eh formalized a practice that was maturing into a custom.

Mos had promised the pharaoh to guide the Isalaks out of the country and make sure that they did indeed leave. He led them on a route through The Reed Sea. People had escaped from or come to Egypt on this route because the reeds provided good cover. Thousands of people plowed a broad highway. They needed to cross quickly at the right time or many would not make it and the pharaoh might decide to attack them in their vulnerable position. Once he found out the Mos was not just guiding but leaving with the Isalaks, that is what the pharaoh decided to do. But too late. The tide had turned. The Reed Sea was closed.

Mos lead the people through barren country on the difficult journey to invade Canaan. He died shortly before entering the territory proper, but the Isalaks continued on his instructions and killed every man, woman and child who came in the way to eventually conquer Canaan.

That’s the end of the story of the found baby.

“Grandma, that’s not the way the story goes.”
“There are many versions of the story about the exploits of the found baby, my child. Someone wrote down one of the versions and that written version is the only one most people know about. This is the one I heard from my grandmother. This version makes more sense to me.”
“Why is that?”
“Because this one suggests that Mos acted the way he did out of his love for Marekim. I have difficulty believing that a noble would leave his comfortable life and take up the cause of a bunch of poor rebels for no reason. Never trust any story without love at its center.”


“Fiction is a lie in the service of truth.”
Dartwill Aquila

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