It was midnight.
As you’d expect, many homes in Egypt were silent, as households had retired to bed for the night. Exhausted after a regular busy day. Ensuring those slaves did the work they were supposed to do.
Just like any other day, the parents of each household made sure their young ones were tucked in and comfy before heading for the sack themselves. The general belief was that the next day would be a new one, and life would go on as it always had. The normal cycle of life would repeat itself as it had for years.
Once this particular middle of the night came up, however, things were about to get crazy.
Ten year old Tuba lay on his bed, turning from his side to his back, trying to doze off. His fifteen year old brother, Binra, was fast asleep on his slanted bed. Raising his head to peer at him for a moment, Tuba put his head down and grumbled inwardly to himself, Why is it so hard for me to fall asleep? How come Binra is able to go out so quickly? Ugh, it’s just not fair!
Before his thoughts were completed, however, a sound came from the bed across him.
It was his older brother. He had suddenly woken up.
And he did not look comfortable at all.
Eyes bulging, gasping for air, Binra looked like he was suddenly short of breath. Tuba sat up, looking alarmed. “Binra! What’s wrong?”
Whatever it was, it was so bad, Binra could barely speak. Falling off his bed, he continued to struggle for oxygen.
Frightened by this sudden turn of events, Tuba sprang out of bed and sped to his parents. Waking them up, he shrieked, “Papa! Mama! Something’s wrong with Binra! He can’t breathe!”
Tes-amen and Tabia were not pleased to have their slumber interrupted. With the man of the house being one of the frontline supervisors of the Israelites, every night’s sleep was welcome rest for those tired arms which constantly whipped the lazy slaves. But hearing that his eldest son was not in good shape would send any father into a panic.
Tes-amen and Tabia jumped out of their bed and followed Tuba into the room where their two sons slept.
From a distance, they could hear the painful gasps and choking sounds of their first fruit, and terror gripped the insides of their chests. What in the world could be wrong with him? He hadn’t complained of any respiratory problems before going to sleep. He seemed as healthy as always. Where from this sudden attack?
As they reached the room, the choking sounds suddenly stopped.
Turning to his bed, they found him laid out still.
Eyes still wide, mouth slightly open, he was no longer fighting for breath. No longer grasping at his throat as if that would help.
No longer breathing.
“Binra! Binra!” his mother shrieked, falling to her knees as she grabbed her son and tried to revive him. “Binra, wake up!”
Patting his cheeks and shaking his limp body, she tried her possible best to rouse her child.
A futile attempt.
Holding her son’s chest close to him, she listened to hear and feel the familiar sound of a heartbeat.
There was nothing.
Growing hysterical, she shook him even harder, screaming his name with desperation. Her husband and younger son were on their knees, watching with trepidation, willing the obvious to be untrue.
The efforts of each and every person in that room at that moment were hopeless. The unexpected had happened.
The firstborn son of the house had died. Suddenly and without warning.
As this sunk in, Tabia hugged her lifeless son’s body in her arms, wailing out loud, as sorrow engulfed her. This was a shock she was nowhere near prepared for. So much had occurred in the past few days. From a locust swarm to dwelling in darkness for a few days. Some crazy things had happened. But this, this was too much to bear.
Tes-amen keeled over in pain, weeping bitterly, as did Tuba. Their son and brother had suddenly passed on. Such a painful loss.
In a matter of moments, however, they would discover that they were not the only family to suffer this unexpected tragedy. Every household in Egypt was filled with wails and screams of anguish and pain, as firstborn sons of the Pharoah to the lowest person was hit with a sudden exit into eternity.
This was undoubtedly the worst moment in the history of Egypt. An outpouring of grief never seen before.
And really, if their leader had probably heeded to the orders of One with greater power than him and let go of his obstinate nature, that national tragedy would not have occurred.
I remember how it is said that kings act foolishly, and it is the people that suffer for it. That couldn’t be any truer than it was at that point.