It had been a beautiful clear day on the plains of Moab. The ridge of Pisgah to the west was clear and so was its highest peak, Mount Nebo. Outside his tent, an elderly man sat silently contemplating the sunset. The only sounds were those of the wind, and the distant voices of the nation of Israel camped nearby as they prepared evening meals.
A tent flap slapped as another man came from inside. “Watching the sunset, or contemplating your future?”
“Both,” Moses replied. “It won’t be long now. I’m just waiting for the Lord’s signal that it’s time to go.”
“You don’t think that he’ll change his mind?” Joshua asked.
“No,” Moses said. “Though goodness knows I’ve asked often enough. But it’s not a bad thing. Oh, I’d like to go into the land with you all – just to finish the journey. But my work is done. Despite my sadness at the inevitable end, I know that it will be better for me than for you. I know that somehow, that distant mountain is but a stepping stone into the Lord’s presence. My worries will be over. Yours will be just beginning. You’ve got to conquer that land you know. And our own people? They’ll be your biggest challenge.
“It doesn’t seem fair Moses. You’ve led us all this way. You know our past. Our hopes are pinned on you.”
“Yeah, well, that may be another reason I’m not going. These people must learn as I have – and you have – to trust the Lord. Only then will blessing come. But since you brought it up, this is for you.”
With that, Moses pushed a large package wrapped in what looked like a carpet to the feet of Joshua. The younger man stooped down and as he unfolded the wrapping, he came to sheet after sheet of animal skins, all with writing on them.
“What’s this?” Joshua asked.
“Our past,” Moses replied. “This is where we’ve come from. It’s why we’re here. It’s why you and our family are going over that mountain and across the great river. It’s your roots boy. If you share it with the people, they will come to understand the special place they have in the heart of our God.”
Joshua was stunned as he contemplated the enormity of the work at his feet. Finally, he broke the silence: “Are you hungry?”
“Nope,” Moses answered. Just tired. I’m going to bed. Tomorrow will be a long day.”
And with that. Moses rose on his cane and entered the tent.
By the light of the small fire beside him, Joshua picked up the first animal skin and began to read:
“Bereshith bara elohim ets hashamaiyim ve ets haeretz.” In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.