After G-d revealed Himself to Moshe at the burning bush, Moshe began to wonder about His ways. While in deep meditation, he sat down under a tree not too far from a well of spring water. The tree’s foliage was very dense and it hid Moshe, but he was able to see out in the direction of the well. After a while he saw a man approach on a mule, draw water from the well and give it to his animal, and then he too drank of the clear, crisp water. But unbeknownst to him, his purse, laden with gold coins, fell out of his pocket and the man departed without it.
Not long afterwards, another man approached the well to drink of its cool water. Imagine his surprise and happiness when he discovered the treasure, the purse of gold coins. Inasmuch as there were no identification marks on the purse, the man picked it up and gleefully went on his way.
No sooner had he departed than a third man arrived at the well, and he too began to drink of its refreshing water. While he was enjoying the cool, refreshing water, the first man came rushing back. He had discovered his loss, and in great anguish came back to seek his purse of gold coins. Not seeing it anywhere, he accused the man at the well, saying that he had picked it up and hidden it.
The man vehemently proclaimed his innocence, but the loser would not hear of it. A fight soon developed and in the melee, the first man killed the third man who was drinking the water. Seeing no one around, he soon departed.
Complains To G-d
Moshe, hidden under the heavy foliage of the tree, witnessed this entire scene. He then prayed to G-d to explain this entire episode.
“It is unfair,” he said to G-d, “that You should allow an innocent man to be killed and the first man to lose so much of his money. You are supposed to be a G-d of righteousness. How do You explain these actions?”
G-d then answered him. “Know that while the first man was innocent of sin, he is the son of an evil person, a rasha who stole an equivalent amount of money from the second man’s father who, out of aggravation, died. Therefore, when the second man found the money, it was rightfully his and I returned the inheritance to its proper owner. As to the murdered person, he was the son of the man who killed the first man’s father and, although he was evil, the other person had no right to kill him. Therefore, I avenged the blood of the murdered father, for the murderer had also long since died.
“The ways of the Lord are just and the children have to bear the sins of their fathers. You must never question My ways, for though they may seem strange and unfair to you, in the eternal plan of things they are just.”
Beware Of A Dishonest Person
Moshe paid a visit to Har Chorev. He carried the wondrous staff which he found at the home of his father-in-law, Yisro, with which he performed the miracles, later, in Mitzrayim. On the way, he met an old man. After greeting him he persuaded him to accompany him in the desert on the road to his destination.
“You are an old man,” Moshe said, “and together we can make the journey much more easily than if we each traveled alone. I have three loaves of bread. How many do you have?”
“I have two loaves,” replied the old man. So they combined their bread and other food, and the old man put it all in the sack he was carrying and they started out on the way. After a while, they stopped and ate one loaf. Later on they consumed the second loaf, and so on. Finally, Moshe asked the man for the fifth loaf, which they would divide. But the man denied ever having a fifth loaf.
They reached a small town and they saw that all the townspeople were crying. Upon inquiring, they were told that their leader, who was to them like a father, had just died and they appeared helpless without him. Moshe then put his staff on the dead person and he prayed to G-d. Suddenly the dead person opened his eyes and arose, and all the people began to rejoice. They invited Moshe to a feast in celebration of his wondrous feat.
Meanwhile, the old man asked Moshe if he could borrow his magic staff. He figured he too would revive the dead. On the way, he noticed a child carrying a bag of money. He killed the child so he could steal the money and he planned to revive the child after he hid the money. He put the staff on the child and he waited for the child to come to life. But the child did not wake up. Meanwhile, a crowd gathered and threatened to kill the old man. When Moshe heard of this he rushed over and, seeing what had occurred, he prayed to G-d and the child was revived, thus saving the old man from a possible lynching.
“Not only are you dishonest, but you are a greedy person,” said Moshe to the old man. He then took him to a nearby cave, picked up some large rocks and, putting the staff on them, prayed to G-d and they soon turned to gold.
“You can have this gold,” said Moshe, “if you will admit that you ate the fifth loaf of bread and that you then swore falsely.” The old man admitted it and Moshe left him with the gold. But the gold was too heavy to carry. Walking out of the cave, he noticed a group of people riding on camels. He called them over and agreed to give them a small percentage of the gold if they would transport it for him. They agreed.
“We are hungry,” they said. “Why don’t you go into town and bring us back food with some of this gold. Then we can start out early in the morning.” They too were greedy, and they planned to murder him when he returned with the food.
The old man, however, was not too happy to part with any of his gold. So he bought poison and put it into the bread and other food which he would give them and then he would have all the camels for himself. When he returned, they murdered him and then sat down to eat the food. They, too, soon died from the poison; and so, because of greed, no one had the gold. It remained hidden away in the cave.