Moses and the burning bush- it’s a classic! Whether you revere Moses as the foremost of ancestors, or delight in remembering that he was a murderous stammerer, the story of Moses’ encounter with the burning bush is one of the main tales associated with him.

There he is, a lonely shepherd, wandering the desert hills outside of Egypt, and behold! There is a bush in front of him, and it is not burned! Furthermore, the voice of God speaks to him from within it, telling him to follow a course of events that will change his life.

A miracle!

Or is it? Maybe the bush was a particular kind of plant that, as it burned, gave off fumes that caused poor Moses to, ah, take a little trip. Or perhaps he’d spent too long in the desert sun, and mistook a mirage and a bleating sheep for a flaming shrub and the voice of an ancient tribal deity. Or, who knows? Maybe he made the whole thing up in a simple bid to go home.

There’s a thing we like to do these days, us modern, enlightened, post-Industrial-Revolution folk, where we explain everything away. We have fallen in love with the scientific explanation (except for those of us who passionately hate them), and we want to do away with miracles. The bush eventually burned up, Mary was not a virgin, and Jesus was probably a whole lot closer to shore when he climbed out of that boat than the gospels would have us think.

But… does it matter?

Whether Moses was higher than a kite, or experiencing sun-stroke, or even just really, really homesick, or if what we would truly call a supernatural event occurred and the voice of G-d/ess came issuing forth from an unconsumed bush- does it matter? The actions he took from then on changed our history forever, and countless folks since have found this event and Moses himself to be an inspiration.

Even if we could- do we really need to explain it?