Parshat Beshallach: The Egyptian Version by David Hartley Mark

Egyptian Weekly Army Review
Troop Deployment Report
Glorious Egyptian Empire Peacetime: No Battles to Report
Few Military Losses, Thank Ra-in-His-Glory

8th Year of Osiris, Akhet, Time-of-Nile-Rising,
Reign of His Gracious, Sun-in-His-Splendor-Rising,
Pharaoh Ramesses II

Item: Supply-Sergeant Khufu requisitioned six bows-and-quivers for use by Platoon 6, Chariot Squadron C, Regiment “Horus-Hawk-of-Vengeance”; three of six quivers were found to be of shoddy workmanship, and returned to the Nubian Arms Supplier Factory for repair or replacement.

Item: Corporal Menkaure found to be drunk on barley-beer during 3rd Night Watch, sentenced to receive ten lashes and lose three-days’ pay, it being Middle-Level-Alert due to presence of Bedouin in Northern Boundary Area; sentence reduced by Provost Marshal Judge to five lashes, one day’s loss of pay, Plea of Mercy, in light of Corporal’s recently losing his mother to Nile Fever; sentence under review.

Item: Troop Movements Yesterday
Chariot Squadrons F & H, Regiment “Osiris-Escort-of-Underworld,” Lieutenants Userkaf & Huni Commanding

Capt. Kawab, Commander-on-Scene, Reporting—

1 o’clock am—Sentries Privates Sahure and Waset, stationed on Signal-Tower #4, Eastern Boundary, Great Pyramid District, spot a Dust-Cloud in area of Goshen-Slave-Quarters. Fearful of spreading Plague, there being Reports of such in that area, Sentries wave Red Flags and light Watch-Fires to alert other Signal-Towers in Area.

Private Sahure: “They were Slave Rabble—those Hapiru folk; I do not speak their gibberish, my family being High Egyptian for generations—but I did make out Dancing and Singing amid their march.”
Private Waset: “I smelled some sort of bread baking; it smelled burnt, and they were carrying large boxes of gold and silver, which gleamed in the morning sun.”

Sentries estimated Size of Mob to be 6,000 (approx.) Men, Women, & Children.

2:30 am—Upon spotting the Signal-Fires of Tower #4, Adjutant Unas of Cavalry Troop 8 saddles a swift horse and reports to Regimental Headquarters (RHQ) Regiment “Horus-Hawk-of-Vengeance,” for Instructions, Lieutenant Colonel (LTCOL) Shepses Commanding.

2:35am—LTCOL Shepses, having received no instructions via Swift Rider from the Joint Egyptian Chiefs (JTEC) at Ramesses Palace in Memphis, sends messengers (Runners: Lance-Corp. Khafre, Private Smendes) to Chariot Squadrons F & H, ordering them to “shadow the Hapiru,” and report back to him regarding “any suspicious movements.”

4am—Chariot Squadron F Commander, Subaltern Neithi reports back,

“Hapiru are moving towards Nile Delta, following a Flamelike Entity, which may be carried in a brazier. They appear to view and call to it, as to a Deity of some sort. Visual Observation is unclear, there being a Heavy Morning Fog.”

4:10am—LTCOL Shepses orders the Reconnaissance to continue; orders Three Chariot Squadrons to close the distance between themselves and the Hapiru, intending Reconnaissance-in-Force, each Chariot mounting one Archer, one Driver.

5am—Hapiru halt on bank of Nile; their leader, one ‘Mses, is speaking to them. Squadrons draw closer.
Capt. Kawab orders Standard Cautious Battle Approach Drill to Begin: bowmen fit arrows to bows. Horses pulled back to jog-trot from gallop.

(See Cavalry Instructions Scroll XXXIV, 5th Ed., “Battle Approach, Cautious, Suspicious of Ambush,” Published by Egyptian War College, Reign of Pharaoh Horemheb.)

5:30am—Sky darkens; rain falls; strong East Wind blowing. Delta-water appears to be sinking into the earth, not unusual in Marshy Ground.

Lieutenant Userkaf orders Sgt-Major Huni to halt the Squadrons, on Capt. Kawab’s order; single horse-and-rider is ordered out to approach ‘Mses, in attempt to parley and convince Hapiru slaves to return, or more cavalry will be summoned.

Heavy East Wind forces Rider to return. No parley takes place.

‘Mses, alleged Israelite slave leader, is seen holding a shepherd’s crook over the waters.

6am—Water continues flowing down, as in swamplike action, only much accelerated; Lt. Huni, who studied hydroponics in Pharaoh Tutankhamun Memorial Agricultural Academy prior to Army Conscription, theorizes that it might be due to Underwater Seismic Action; his Adjutant, one Private Weni, testifies that he sees a River-Demon possibly floating in the air over the area.

No Conclusion is reached by this Military Court of Justice.

6:15am—Hapiru cross over, dry-shod, through middle track of Nile, exposed through Unknown Means (See 6am Entry, above).

6:20am—Officers confer; Capt. Kawab calls for a Volunteer Chariot Platoon to Reconnoiter the Hapiru Path of Crossing, and possibly follow.

Three Charioteer-Teams of Platoon 7 Volunteer, Staff Sgt. (SSG) Renef Commanding, drive down the slope and into the marsh, but find their chariot-wheels caught in the quickly-rising-mud. Before Lt. Userkaf, their Commander, can organize a Rescue Squad with Ropes and a Work Party, both horses and troops are overcome by Quicksand, and lost.

Recommendation submitted for Army Scarab Medal of Merit (Bronze) to be awarded to SSG Renef, and a lifetime non-commissioned officer’s pension to his widow and two children, along with posthumous promotion to Full Sergeant; this recommendation is currently under review by the Royal Military Pensions Board, which will report back to Lt. Userkaf in two weeks.

It is observed that, while this Tragic Accident is occurring, the Hapiru on the Opposite Shore are dancing and singing, while playing timbrels and drums.

Our brave Egyptian Cavalry Troopers are angry over the loss of their comrades and wish to attack the Hapiru, but the waters have returned to their previous depth, and they are unable to cross.

6:30am—Capt. Kawab orders a peaceful withdrawal through the rain and wind, and files this Report on behalf of LTCOL Shepses.

Later Report Addendum: Corporal Osorkon, for sneaking into Barracks late after a Romantic Liaison, is to be jailed for one month, and reduced in rank to Private….

David Hartley Mark is from New York City’s Lower East Side. He attended Yeshiva University, the City University of NY Graduate Center for English Literature, and received semicha at the Academy for Jewish Religion. He currently teaches English at Everglades University in Boca Raton, FL, and has a Shabbat pulpit at Temple Sholom of Pompano Beach. His literary tastes run to Isaac Bashevis Singer, Stephen King, King David, Kohelet, Christopher Marlowe, and the Harlem Renaissance.

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