The Pledge (26)

Greetings and welcome back. I rewrote the last couple of sentences and added to it. I’ve got the rest mostly complete, so hopefully, completion will follow shortly. If you want to read the story from the beginning, you can click here. And thanks for visiting my blog. 

* * *

Ofra says nothing, but grabs a wet rag and tries to wipe her face. Tamar cringes and backs up from her. Ofra is persistent, though, her touch gentle. Tamar relents and with tender strokes, Ofra wipes up the blood from her face, handling her mistress with more care than she had been shown by her husband.

“I should have been here,” Ofra laments with tears in her eyes.

Tamar shakes her head.

“No, there was nothing you could’ve done. He would’ve hurt you too.”

Ofra sighs and continues cleaning Tamar up in silence.

 

4.

As much as Judah wants to ignore the bruises on Tamar’s face, he can’t. Her jaw is swollen and her eye is purple. She had tried hiding it with creams and rouge, but there was no masking it. Clearly Onan was taking his anger at the union out on Tamar, but she was his property and he could do with her what he wanted. Still, to know his son was so violent…

“He’s strong, always has been,” Alit replies dismissively, when she catches Judah looking at Tamar. “That’s why we named him Onan. And quite frankly, if Tamar isn’t obeying him, then he must put her in her place. Look what happened with Er.”

Her voice is loud and her tone pointed. Judah doesn’t argue. Instead he tries to recall: of all the times his father’s wives argued and got out of line, did his father ever hit them?

No.

Why wasn’t that the standard, then?

Because she raised them.

Judah grabs his staff, his seal and his cord and has his servant ready his carriage so he can head out to the fields. He offers Alit not another word as he leaves. Well, without a word, since she was the one who did most of the talking. Admittedly, he spent more time in the fields than necessary, but it was the only place he found peace. As a youth, he didn’t appreciate why his avi did the same, but now that he was older, he understood. And it wasn’t that he didn’t love Alit or his boys. He did – it was just…

With a sigh, Judah admits his life isn’t the one he thought he would have had. He was hardly carefree, even when he was bedding prostitutes and leaving the city on business. But it wasn’t as if Alit harassed him for his actions; on the contrary, she played the part of the dutiful wife, keeping his home and bearing him sons. He was blessed in that respect, he supposed. Yes, he missed out on Er and Onan growing up. And he was in Chezib with his flocks when Shelah was born. But perhaps his life wasn’t so bad after all.

Except she raised them to be indifferent and violent, Judah reminds himself when he catches a glimpse of Onan in the fields ahead of him. He commands his servant to stop.

“I’ll walk from here,” he says and steps out of the wagon. Head held high and his mind made up; he begins walking over to his son, ready to confront him.

Onan says nothing as Judah approaches. He had assumed Er’s responsibilities with the flocks when he died, but like his marriage, it was grudgingly.

Judah looks around. Only part of the flocks was present – the pastures outside of Adullam could only support so many animals.

“Where is Enoch?” Judah asks, referring to his servant.

Onan shrugs his shoulders.

Judah grips his staff.

“Have the rest of the flocks been moved to Chezib?”

Again, Onan makes no effort to respond.

Judah is not accustomed to being played the fool, especially by his son. His anger starts rising.

“I saw Tamar,” he says, accusingly.

Onan meets his gaze and holds it, glaring intently at him. Still, he says nothing.

“What happened to her face?”

“She stepped out of line.”

“How many times did you hit her?”

“Enough times,” Onan replies, curtly.

“We never treated our women as such in Padan-Aram…,” Judah says, disgusted with his son’s attitude.

“Well, we aren’t in Padan-Aram,” Onan reminds him. “We’re in Adullam, where she’s my wife and I can do whatever I want to her.”

“No. You give her your seed, that’s all, to fulfill your duty to your brother.”

“And I have.” Onan turns and begins walking away from him. Judah goes after him, not certain if he believes his son.

“You’re having sex with Tamar?”

Onan lets out an incredulous laugh and stops. He faces Judah.

“Does that surprise you? Er wasn’t the only doting son, Father.”

“Answer me!”

“Yes. Yes, I am having sex with Tamar, often, to ensure you have a grandson.”

Though Onan’s tone is heavy with bitterness, Judah can’t deny the surety with which he speaks. He was telling the truth “So why isn’t she with child? It’s been months since Er’s death,” Judah replies with bafflement.

Onan shrugs his shoulders again.

“Maybe she’s barren. Or maybe she’s just cursed.”

He turns and walks away again, leaving Judah to his thoughts.

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