Monday, February 22, 2010

Quoting Deuteronomy to the Devil

It was his fortieth day without food.

He was alone. After the first few days, the hunger pangs had left him, but now, as he began the long walk home, the thought of food was beginning to make his stomach rumble. He stopped and sat upon a rock, resting for a moment in the morning sun. He clenched his hands together, raising his eyes to the rugged horizon of the mountains. The sun rested a good distance above them.

He had been meditating for forty days now on the fifth book of the Law, on the sermons of Moses.


His stomach rumbled, and the thought of food overtook his prayers. He closed his eyes again.

“Remember how for forty years the Lord, your God...”

He winced at another painful rumbling.

“...has directed all your journeying in the desert...”

The rumbling opened his eyes in exasperation. He took a calming, slow breath, and continued.

“ as to test you by affliction, and find out if you would keep his commandments.”

The pangs kept coming. He tried to collect his thoughts as his eyes scanned the stony ground. His gaze came to rest on a stone, and a thought seemed to come out of nowhere.


The world seemed suddenly silent. It was fleeting, barely whispered, but that single word seemed to drown out everything, even his prayers. He stared at the stone.

“No.” He said. “He let you be afflicted with hunger... ”

bread. make this bread.

He looked upon the stone again.

“No,” he said again, and carried on. “He afflicted you with hunger, and then fed you with manna.”

Pain and weakness shot through him from his belly to his fingertips.

forget manna. you're god. make this bread.

He spoke forcefully, slowly. “Remember. He fed you with manna, to show you that Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord.”

He closed his eyes. He opened them. The stone remained a stone.

He took a deep breath.

The pangs remained, and so did his resolve, as he stood and began to walk.

“The Lord, your God, disciplines you,” he said, “even as a man disciplines his son.”