Burning Bush


I encountered this stand of Indian Paintbrush growing right in the middle of a Rabbit Bush, out in my favorite forest camp on the Coconino Plateau in Northern Arizona.

It put me in mind of the story of Moses and the Burning Bush.
As the Chumash (the Five Books of Moses) tells it, Moses had fled from Egypt after killing a man who was beating a Hebrew.  Although Moses had been adopted by the “baht Melekh” (Pharaoh’s daughter), it had become known that he was a Hebrew by birth; therefore, to kill an employee of Pharaoh would certainly result in something bad, even though the man he killed was a Hebrew “taskmaster,” as the Book says, exactly like the Jewish Capos that Hitler (may his name be erased) set over the Jews, Catholics, Gypsies, homosexuals, and disabled people in the concentration camps.

This being the case, Moses fled to Midian.  There wasn’t anything special about Midian that drew him there, or so he thought, but about the middle of the day he came to a well.  Now, it’s known that in any of the Hebrew writings, wells symbolize the wisdom of the Divine Feminine, called the Shekhina.  Many times, a woman who is destined to be an important man’s soulmate is present, or is revealed at, a well.  Rivka (Rebecca), who was destined to become the soulmate of Yitzkhak (Isaac), was discovered at a well, as you will remember.  And Miriam had a well that followed the Hebrews through the desert, providing them with water during their forty-year journey.  It disappeared upon her death, leaving the Israelites high and dry.

When Moses arrived at the Midianite well, he discovered several shepherd girls hanging around with their flocks of sheep.  He asked them what was up with that, and they replied mournfully that the well was stopped up with a boulder, and they couldn’t water their sheep until the rotten men shepherds came, towards evening, and moved the rock aside.  But their sheep were thirsty now!

Moses, outraged by this injustice, moved the huge rock off the mouth of the well, and the girls watered their sheep.

One of the girls, Tzipporah (Zipporah, in lousy translation), had such a beautiful soul that Moses snatched her up and kissed her!  She immediately flew (this the meaning of her name, which is “bird”) to her father’s house and asked if she could invite Moe to dinner.  When Yitro (Jethro, also called Ruel) heard what Moshe (Moses) had done for the shepherdesses, of course he invited Moshe to dinner, and also gave him Tzipporah to wife.

Moshe worked for his father in law for a few years. After a while he got the feeling that he should head back to Egypt, so he gathered up a very pregnant Tzipporah, heaved her onto a donkey, and off they went through the desert, having adventures that I will not mention here, except to say that after one of them he sent Tzipporah and their infant son back to Midian, and continued on alone.

As he was trudging through the desert he spied a bush on fire.  He thought that was odd, so he turned from his path and drew closer to see what that was all about.

The first thing he noticed was that even though the bush was certainly on fire, it was not being consumed.  He thought that was the strangest thing he had ever seen, but things got stranger still.

A voice boomed out of the Burning Bush and said,

“Moshe, Moshe!  Take off your sandals, for you are standing on sacred ground!”

This is the basis of the Law that Hebrews must take our shoes off when we go to the Holy Temple, whose ruins still sit on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, although those who currently occupy it try continually to deny that both the Holy Temples and the Holocaust never existed.

After Moshe removed his sandals and approached the Burning Bush once again, he was commanded to be the First Rabbi, and convey to the people who were to become the Children of Israel the Law which the Great Spirit would teach him.  Being the most humble man there ever was, Moshe demured, citing a speech impediment.  God said fine then, your brother Aharon (Aaron) will be your mouthpiece.  I’ll tell you, you tell Aharon, and he’ll tell the People.  Now get out of here and do your job.

Moshe says, “I will, but who shall I say sent me?  The People will think I’m arrogant and won’t believe me if I just tell them stuff myself.  I need to tell them who sent me!”

“Fine.  Tell them, Ekyeh Asher Ekyeh sent you (I Am Because I Am).  Now scram before I make an ash out of you!”

Moshe lit a shuck (ran away fast) out of there, and as he approached Egypt he met his brother Aharon, who was coming to look for him, to invite him to have lamb with pita and wine.

TBC, at some point….

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  1. interesting photo and a very interesting story. Are you back in the dry southwest now?

    • No, I’m actually in Michigan, in a forest somewhere south of Traverse City. Glad you enjoyed the story! The Bible is a great source 👍

      • I have very distant relatives (Courtade, maiden named) in Traverse City that calls itself the cherry capital of the world. Eat lots of cherries if they are ripe now. I love them but my body is not so fond of them. Please erase the family name from my comment if you can. I included just by the off chance you might run into one of them. They don’t know me and I don’t know them but some of them might know they have relatives in Texas. My grandfather came from Traverse City.

  2. Love your plain English version of the story.

    • Thank you, Kitt! I love these parables. They have so much to teach us in these times where people have their faces buried in their Stupid Phones (which do have their utility…I’m writing all my posts on my phone, much easier than computer in my RV). In fact, they are ageless, timeless repositories of wisdom that I think about all the time, so why not write them down the way I think of them?

  3. Whether the Bible is the word of God or not, the stories are wonderful, but I think you should publish a new edition in your way. A very enjoyable version of that old story.

    • Thank you! What a compliment. I’m glad you enjoyed my version. A Schulman translation of the Tanach (Torah, Prophets, Psalms, Song of Solomon, Esther, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, others) would give me plenty to do for several lifetimes and cause an uproar in the Torah world (goddess knows it’s needed…the uproar, I mean)! My teacher Sarah Yehudit Schneider leads a Zohar (the essential text of Jewish mysticism) class every week. It took us about two years to “unpack” the first verse of the Torah: “Bereisheet bara Elokim et ha’Shamayim ve’et ha’Aretz” (In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth). There is so much stuff encoded in the Hebrew of that, it took two years to parse out!

      • I have just moved into a suburb of Melbourne that is a very Jewish area and although I am a very bad Episcopalian I feel very comfortable here. I might have to find a few classes to take.

  4. Random thought about the burning bush. It was burning, and not being consumed, which means that the LORD was going to keep on with it burning whether Moses noticed it straight away or not…

    I hope you have continued this. I need to learn what the scriptures mean from a Jewish point of view, as it will help me better understand Christianity, and more importantly, Jesus’ teachings.

    • Not necessarily. The bush was burning because God was manifesting in the form of a revealed miracle (there being hidden miracles constantly), first of all to attract Moshe’s attention (Moshe is ancient Egyptian for “he who was drawn from the water,” not a Hebrew name at that time although of course it is now!), to demonstrate that there are miracles, and to prepare him for the ten miracles to come in Mitzraim (Egypt). This is a very deep teaching.


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