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Charioteer

A Story of Old Egypt in the Days of Joseph. Used by permission of the Eerdmans’ Publ. Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan

IN EGYPT

As Raanah entered Egypt he was thrilled with its quaint beauty. The lingering loveliness of its white nights cast their spell upon him. In such a magnificent setting it seemed that the veil was slipping from his dreams and they were approaching reality.
Joseph was not so happy. He had not recovered from his transplanting. It seemed that his very life had been torn up by the roots, and his heart ached because of it.
“Taphanhes is having a festival and a parade for the gods tomorrow,” Kedar announced. “’Tis a great event. Seth, the god of this home, has invited Mumbo-Jumbo of Central Africa to be his guest of honor.”
After the boys prepared their pallets that evening, each bowed silently to the uncertainty of his future. Joseph never lost faith because he believed that all the events of his life were part of God’s plan; and that by experiences one is disciplined and developed. So troubles were not to be despised, for by them one could step to higher things. With such a belief he could take whatever befell him with fair grace.
But Raanah was confused and uncertain—a feeling he had never had before. His goddess was so small, and the Egyptian gods were so big and seemed so powerful. He turned on his side and drew the image of Ishtar from the pocket over his heart.
“The dark places of the earth are full of cruelty and misery, but you have always guarded me well,” he praised her. “Before my heart failed, you gave me youth strength. Before my foot slipped you upheld me. Now, I pray thee, walk beside me and quicken me with thy brightness.”
He pressed the jewel to his lips and its fire illumined his face. With a sigh he returned it to his pocket and went to sleep.
After breakfast, Accid-Adab straddled Uruk and left for the city.
But before the afternoon was spent, Accid-Adab returned with a man of flashy military garb and bearing.
The men walked toward the youths. There could be but one meaning to such action, but neither dared give it form in his thoughts. In cold, level voice, Accid-Adab announced that he had sold Joseph to Potiphar, Captain of Pharoah’s Guard, who was in Taphanhes for the festival, and the soldier had come to fetch him.
Joseph glanced at Raanah warningly, yet with tender compassion. Before these men, pride restrained them.
The soldier showed some impatience, and Joseph grasped Raanah’s hand warmly. His voice was low and constrained. “Send me word of yourself some time,” he begged. “Let me know where you go.”
Raanah could not answer.

THE PARADE

A short time before the parade started Accid-Adab, Egiba, Isme-Dagan, Dahmru and Raanah stood waiting before the line of march. Raanah’s heart still ached over his parting with Joseph, but he tried to put it from his mind.
The crowd milled about them, and they watched this strange Hamitic people with interest.
Soon the pageant was rolling before them. With the resilience of youth, Raanah was drawn into the mood of the occasion, and his heart throbbed and ached with delight at the strange sights before him.
Dreams, riotous dreams! Prancing horses with arched necks and shapely legs snorted with restrained desire as they dragged the floats along. Raanah adored every one of them.
The first float contained the colossal image of Seth. His symbolic animals—the ass, the crocodile and the hippopotamus were grouped around him. Crouching, sweat-glistening slaves waved palm leaves above his head.
“So that’s the fellow who cut up his brother Osiris,” Isme-Dagan whispered. “May a million gnats settle on him!”
“Yeah,” Egiba responded, “but the other one seems not to have fared so badly at that. Here he comes. He is Judge and King of the Dead; and that is a mighty kingdom! See the Book of Judgment: on his knees, and the flail and the crook in his hands?”
“And here is his wife, Iris,” Dahmru whispered timidly. “Oh-o—“he groaned. “She is cow-headed, and there are snakes on her horns.”
All were dour, evil-looking gods, avenging gods, ruthless gods—on they rolled! Raanah wanted to scream a protest at them. A smothering sensation tensed him. Smoke from the torches choked him. Egiba’s chatter irritated him.

(To be continued)