He knew he would never see the palace again, and his eyes lingered over the details as an act of farewell. It looked different in the depths of night, and tonight not all the flaring torches were lit, just enough for to make the so-familiar pillars and painted walls dance in the flickering light. It was a night unlike any other night, and tension ricocheted through the corridors.
Of course, it only took a moment, as they strode through, to burn the image into his mind, to stay there for the rest of his days. The palace had been the exotica of his childhood, occasionally glimpsed when he ventured out of the little world of the women’s quarters, and then, in a sense, his home in his early manhood, when he had walked through these passages as one who had a right to, and the bowing servants had scuttled out of the way. But even when he was most dazzled by his fortune, he had known that his true home was that little slave hut, not far from the banks of the Nile, where his real parents and his brother and sister lived. But in truth he was a wanderer upon the earth, just like Jacob, just like Abraham. And now he was returning to the wilderness, and this time, unlike forty years earlier, when he had fled as a fugitive from justice, he would never come back again.
Death was in the air tonight, and Egypt was racked with the turmoil of grief. This final plague had reached through Pharaoh’s stubborn mind to his broken heart, and this time he was summoning them only to tell them to get out of his sight forever. All over the land the firstborn of Egypt had been struck dead, in a single night, from Pharaoh’s son and heir to the newborn lamb in the pen of the lowliest in the land. Only the Israelites were spared, for over their doorways was painted the blood of a lamb, and where that sacrificial death had been claimed, no further death was required.
And so they would leave Egypt, the land of their sojourning which had become the land of their slavery, and journey out into the wilderness, as God directed, in search of the place which God had promised. How this was to be accomplished he had absolutely no idea, but the hand of God was heavy on the land of Egypt that night, and the breath of God was stirring the cool night air, and at this moment he could feel neither fear nor regret. Mentally he traced his life and the pattern of his journey: from the jaws of death to the palace of Egypt , from the grandeur of the palace to the bleak silence of the wilderness, from that holy, terrifying encounter with the burning bush (long after the desert had dried up all his former self-confidence) back to Egypt again, and now back into the wilderness again, whilst Egypt herself shuddered in the jaws of death. And then forward to a land which he had never seen, where the blessing of God fell as rain from Heaven.
It was time to leave, to gather a whole nation with him, and move forward into a new destiny. The power of Egypt would be gone from his life forever.