They are wicked smart over there at the Whitepebble Biblical Institute. Dumb people need not apply. Try hard to hide that fact as Wilhelm Whitepebble scrutinizes your job application, because he doesn’t miss much.
A normal day finds him at his desk, elbow-deep in ancient manuscripts, dislodging secrets from them that they yield to no one else. But once in a while he smells a rat. He suspects that verses are missing, just as his great great great great great great great great great great great great grandfather did with the Book of Mark—it simply ends too abruptly—and wrote a squirrelly little conclusion himself involving handling snakes and drinking poison.
The current passage that Whitepebble finds curiously incomplete is that of the eighth chapter of Exodus, in which Moses calls forth frogs to plague the land of Egypt and then the magic-practicing priests do the same. “Something is missing,” Wilhelm furrows his brow, “but what?”
Whenever Whitepebble is hot on the scent, he goes out to the dry dessert where parchments are preserved for thousands of years. Sure enough, after poking around a bit, he found one—and it does indeed offer a fascinating footnote to the historical record. It introduces a character found in no other Bible verse—Samthesham Sfinx.
Here is the passage of Exodus 8:1-8 , now revealed as incomplete, that first caught Wilhelm Whitepebble’s attention:
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs: And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.
“[vs 5] And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt. [vs 6]And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. [vs 7] But the magic practice ing prests did so with their enchantments, and [also] brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. [vs 8] Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat the LORD, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do.”
Scholars, especially the scholars that are not fussy, are much enthused with Whitepebble’s new find, and it is currently housed in the central museum of some little town whose name I forget, where it has been dubbed the whitepebble hogwaticulus manuscript. Manifestly, it calls for a new numbering system, as it extends both the present verse 6 and 7, and makes them of unwieldy length:
“vs 5] And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt. [vs 6]And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt.
Now, there was dwelling in the land of Egypt a crude man named Samthesham Sfinx, a man harsh in his ways, and uncouth, who was nevertheless a man who put trust in the gods of Egypt. As the frogs came into his house, covering all that was his, and from the kitchen his wife started to let him hear about it, he said, “Not a problem. Don’t we have magic-practicing priests? They’ll get rid of them.”
[vs 7] And then magic practicing priests did likewise with their enchantments, and also brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. Sam, who had been looking forward to their exodus, found that the frogs had doubled in his home, and his wife shrieked something fierce. And so Sam, earthly man that he was, said to Moses and the magic-practicing priests, “Hey, anytime you guys want to take your pissing contest elsewhere, that will be perfectly fine by me!”
[vs 8] Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat the LORD, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do.”
You have to see this amazing parchment, which reveals that rank and file Egyptians of that time entertained an ‘enough-is-enough’ policy regarding frogs. Shoot me a text should you decide to go visit, and I’ll rummage through my notes. I’m pretty sure I’ve still retained where the place is, assuming that my wife hasn’t thrown it away during one of her housecleaning expeditions. It may even be in my glove box. She usually misses that.