Greetings and welcome. Tonight is the first post for The Pledge. Remember this is a first draft and the work is copyrighted. Feel free to leave a comment or question. Thanks for stopping by my blog.
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The story of Judah and Tamar starts not with their meeting in Adullam, when he acquired her as his son’s wife, but many years earlier, when Judah was still a young man in the house of his father Jacob ben Isaac.
At the time, they dwelled in the land of Paran-Aram, under the watchful eye of Laban, Jacob’s father-in-law. Jacob had taken both of Laban’s daughters as wives and their handmaidens as concubines; and through them, sired ten sons who were heirs to the legacy of Jacob, the riches of Isaac and the promises of Abraham.
As the fourth son of Leah, the proper wife, Judah was expected to learn the ways of his fathers and join his brothers in the running of Jacob’s estate. Unfortunately, he wanted nothing to do with them. To him, they represented everything that was wrong with his life: his father played favorites while the wives fought and his brothers questioned nothing about this. Judah couldn’t live like that anymore. He needed to get away from them; and by the time Deborah, his grandmother’s nursemaid, rides into Padan-Aram, Judah has the means with which to do it.
As his brothers eat their midday meal in the fields with the sheep, Judah walks back to camp. He had seen the caravan arrive that morning and had inquired of his mother who the strangers were.
“Your avi’s people,” Leah had replied with disgust, before turning her head and spitting on the ground.
Judah had heard stories of how they denied her of her betrothed, but that was history and he had no desire to bring up the past. This was a golden opportunity to secure his future away from his brothers and he was not going to let it pass him by.
Careful to avoid his mother and the other wives, Judah makes his way over to his father’s tent, but he doesn’t go in. Instead, he walks over to the back and finds a shady spot adjacent to where his father meets with the nursemaid. He hears his avi’s voice and leans closer to make out the words.
“…I can’t go back now,” Judah hears him say.
“But your imma has sent me all this way to bring you back,” Deborah argues. Judah had caught a brief glimpse of her earlier and could only guess her age to be over one hundred.
“Rachel has borne me no children. If I attempt to leave, Laban will take her away from me and sell her to another man, claiming I didn’t fulfill her.”
There is angst in Jacob’s voice but Judah can only roll his eyes. Everything was always about Rachel, his favorite wife.
The older woman sighs loudly.
“Then I will stay here with you. It will give your imma peace to know I am here with you. And once Rachel has borne you a son, as Leah has, then we will return.”
“I can’t ask you to stay.”
“You have no say in the matter. I was instructed to bring you back and I will not return without you. You’ve been gone far too long; even your abba laments sending you to Padan-Aram. But it’s too late for regret. I will tell the servants of my plans and we can send them on their way in a week.”
Jacob starts to respond, but Judah doesn’t hear it. He is running back to the fields, contemplating his next move towards his new life.