God, who is seen through the eyes of an elderly black preacher as the tallest and biggest of the angels. Dressed in evening clothes and speaking in a rich, bass voice in black dialect (which all the characters use), He participates in human activities such as attending fish fries and working in His office. He also makes human mistakes; for example, when in need of some “firmament” to season his boiled custard, He creates too much and wets the cherubs’ wings, so He must pass a miracle to get rid of the excess “firmament.” He creates Earth to drain off the excess and then creates Adam to farm and enjoy the earth. As an elderly minister’s simple view of an Old Testament God, He interacts with the angels and humankind as a God of power, love, and wrath until, at the end of the play, He realizes that He must also be a God of mercy gained through suffering and must send Jesus to earth.
Gabriel, the second-in-command angel and God’s principal assistant. He is young, big, beardless, and elaborately winged. He is the one to whom God talks about His frustrations, especially with humankind’s sinfulness. Gabriel keeps his trumpet ready to blow whenever God commands. His practicality offsets the idealism and passion of God.
Moses, a shepherd and fugitive from Egypt, living in a cave in the mountains to escape prosecution for killing a man in Egypt. He is about forty years old but ages into an old man two scenes later. He dresses inconspicuously and stutters slightly until God cures this problem. After seeing a burning bush that is not consumed, Moses is told by God that it is a magic trick and that God will teach him to perform such tricks for Pharaoh as a means of coercing Pharaoh into freeing the Hebrew people. Moses requests that his brother Aaron be allowed to go with him; God agrees. They “trick” Pharaoh with plagues until he releases the Hebrews, whom Moses leads to the Promised Land. There he turns them over to Joshua, then dies and goes to Heaven.
Noah, a preacher, a basically good man to whom God appears, first as a fellow preacher, then revealing Himself to be God. Noah first appears in the dress of a preacher, then as a steamboat captain. He rules his family but obeys God, building an ark and taking aboard his family, two animals of each species, and one keg of liquor. When he brings the ark to a successful landing, he is forgiven by both God and his family for getting drunk.
Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, wearing a crown and garments like those worn by a high officer in a black lodge ritual. He is vindictive and hates the Hebrews, retaining magicians and wizards to devise means of pestering and intimidating them.
King of Babylon
King of Babylon, the equivalent in Babylon to Pharaoh in Egypt, wearing a diamond tiara and an ermine cloak over evening clothes. Like Pharaoh, the king is a tyrant, enslaving the Jews and buying whatever favors he desires, including bribing the Hebrew High Priest to ask God’s forgiveness for killing a Hebrew prophet.
Cain, a husky young black man, a field laborer who is discovered to have killed his brother. He takes God’s advice to leave the country and find someone to marry and raise a family with, but his choice displeases...
(The entire section is 1393 words.)