The Pledge (23)

Howdy! Happy Saturday Night. Thanks for joining me again for another installment of The Pledge. You click here to read the story from the beginning.


The sons of Leah. Judah’s brothers. He had left them in Padan-Aram over twenty years earlier, but they had followed after him, into Abraham’s promise. After first, it was a joyous reunion with Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Issachar and Zebulon. The brothers had seemingly grown up. Reuben had taken a wife from among Alit’s people and Levi, never far from Simeon, had ventured out on his own. Whenever they shepherded Jacob’s flocks, or their own, Judah had made it a point to visit with them. But the more time he spent with them, the more he discovered they were still the same. Simeon’s rage consumed him and though they were the sons of the proper wife, all they could whine about was how Rachel’s son Joseph would be chosen as primogenitor. And even when Judah gave them the solution to the problem, they still complained, though out of guilt. There was a familial bond between them that could not be broken, but distance, he figured, was a better option when it came to dealing with them.

Especially then: Er had been dead for two weeks and it was only now his brothers were bothering to show their respect. Jacob had sent word through them, as he was unable to travel due to his own health issues and grief he was suffering. But in Judah’s mind, that was no excuse.

“You’ve done well for yourself, brother,” Zebulon states, eying his house in wonder. The youngest son of Leah had grown up in tents and still lived in one, so anything with four walls was impressive to him.

“It’s nothing,” Judah replies dismissively as a servant brings in another jug of wine. The six men sit in the main room of his house, accompanied by Onan and Shelah. Both remain quiet through the discussions, as the other men command the respect of age and wisdom.

“I wish we could have been here for the burial,” Simeon states, eying the servant girl as she walks back into the other room. Judah says nothing, in response to the comment or to Simeon’s ogling. The man always had an eye for women, though he had two wives at home.

“It’s a shame. So young and no children,” Reuben continues.

Judah nods his head as he pours himself more wine. It seems they were there only to remind him of everything he had lost.

“Have you given any thought to the future? His widow is still young – I suppose it would be fine to wait until the time of mourning has passed, though you wouldn’t want another courting her.”

Judah closes his eyes. The future was the last thing he had thought about, but Reuben was right. Because his wife was a Canaanite, Reuben knew their laws and their ways better than the others, but this was just as common a practice for many of the peoples in the land – yibbum. It’s what his father and his father’s people had called it. The widow of the childless brother would marry the brother to preserve the name and record of the deceased. And er’s name could not be lost from the family history.

Opening his eyes once again, Judah sighs and shakes his head.

“I had given no thought to it,” he admits.

“That’s natural in grief,” Levi says.

“Still, arrangements should be made soon,” Reuben adds.

Judah nods his head.

“Next month, then, Onan will take Er’s widow as his wife,” he states.

The brothers murmur their agreement. Only Onan objects.

“I’m not marrying her,” he insists, and for a moment, Judah is reminded of Alit.

“This isn’t up for discussion,” he tells his son sharply. The boy had gall to argue with him in front of his kin like this? “You will marry Tamar and raise up an heir for your brother.”

“What about me? Should I lose my inheritance in the process?”

Onan’s response angers Judah. Regardless of the boy’s gall, he was not going to take his familial ties so lightly and still expect to inherit anything.

“Enough!” Judah exclaims, his voice loud, his tone sharp. All eyes are upon him, but he is too upset to care. “I am still your father and as long as there is breath in my body, you will obey me.”

Onan’s face flushes but says nothing else.

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