“Her, whom thou seekest, thou wilt find at the mansion of Har-hat in the city.”
At sunset, Rachel, all unsuspecting, was sheltered in the house of her enemy.
Masanath’s servants had sought for her, frantically and without system or method. Pepi and Nari had been saved by the gods. They did not know where she had gone, and nothing human or divine could have driven them over the Nile to search for her in the Arabian hills. And for that reason likewise, they did not notify Har-hat of his daughter’s loss. The messenger would have had to cross the smitten river. They intended to send for the fan-bearer, but they waited for the plague to lift. When it was gone, Masanath returned to them.
“He hardened his heart”
The Nile rose and fell and the seasons shifted until eight months had passed. The period was inconsiderable, but its events had never been equaled in a like space, or a generation, or a whole dynasty, or in all the history of Egypt.
When the ancient Hebrew shepherd from Midian first demanded audience with Meneptah, Egypt was autocrat of the earth and mistress of the seas. Her name was Glory and Perpetual Life and her substance was all the fullness of the earth and the treasures thereof. But eight months after the Hebrew shepherd had gone forth from that first audience, how had the mighty fallen! She was stripped of her groves and desolated in her wheat-fields; her gardens were naked, her vineyards were barren, and the vultures grew fat on the dead in her pastures. About the thrice-fortified walls of her cities her gaunt husbandmen were camped, pensioners upon the granaries of the king. Her commerce had stagnated because she had no goods to barter; her society ceased to revel, for her people were called upon to preserve themselves. Her arts were forgotten; only religion held its own and that from very fear. Egypt was on her knees, but the gods were aghast and helpless in the face of the hideous power of the unsubstantial, unimaged God of Israel.
Never had a monarch been forced to meet such conditions, but in all the mighty line of Pharaohs no feebler king than Meneptah could have faced them. In treating with the issue he had fretted and fumed, promised and retracted, temporized with the Hebrew mystic or stormed at him, hesitated and resolved, and reconsidered and deferred while his realm descended into the depths of ruin and despair.
It would seem that the dire misfortunes would have pressed the timid monarch into immediate submission. But a glance at conditions may explain the cause of his obduracy.