The Book of Voices

Biblical Microfictions by Joseph Zitt

Pharaoh Hophra

(Context: Ezekiel 31:18)

I am kneeling by the water, summoned from my sleep by the full moon, by its light from above, by the light of its reflection in the water, in the river below. I have slipped from my bed, careful not to awaken whichever wife it is whose sleeping breath has brushed my face like an echo of the river’s breeze, and crept out of the royal house, almost silent, almost awake, almost alone. I have put on a simple robe, simple sandals, and almost, as usual, put a crown on my head. But tonight I wish to be only a man, called from my bed to the light, the water, the arms and embrace of this present moon, this swollen river.

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September 29, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


(Context: Haggai 1:14)

I fade slowly into consciousness, awakened by the sound of panting, the scent of stale breath, and a rough wetness moving against my face. My eyes blink open after several tries and look into the eyes of a small dog, mottled grey with a white stripe on its nose. I sneeze, and the dog yelps, stops licking my face, and backs away a few hands’ breadths before he returns and starts licking again.

I try to stand and discover that I can’t. A heavy weight lies on top of my head, back, and one leg. One hand reaches back and feels rough wood, and I suddenly remember where I am and how I got here. I am just inside the borders of Jerusalem, lying in the dirt, pinned face down under a beam that I had been dragging in the middle of the night toward the site of the temple.

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September 15, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment


(Context: 2 Samuel 15:25)

I am shivering with the cold from the wind, with the chill in my heart, standing alongside the ark on this hill at the city walls. The sun is lowering toward the horizon, toward twilight. As I look to the west, I can see hundreds, perhaps thousands of people streaming past me, out of my city, out of the gates of Jerusalem, out toward the valleys and caves where some will disperse and some will hide in the dark. All of them have covered their heads and bared their feet. All wear muted colors, forming a vague dim tapestry of the shades of their skin, of the shades of the earth. All try to look the same, in unity, in anonymity. Each wants to be counted, to be reckoned with the group, yet to be hidden, to avoid being singled out as a person with a face, with a name within the crowd.

But in this blur of people, one traveler still stands out, as if he is glowing with a different light. David, our king, is leaving his city, our city, on a path whose tracks are drawn by his tears and ours.

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September 8, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment


(Context: Judges 6:39)

I have never asked much of you. Well, rarely — I have rarely asked much of you. But that scarcely compares to what you have asked of me. And, yes, I realize that I asked you for another small miracle last night, and that you performed it, and for that great favor I am infinitely grateful.

But please, now, if it be your will, I ask you to show yourself again, so that my wife will let me go out and fight your wars. Please, if you will, perform for me just one more tiny miracle.

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September 1, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment