The Pledge (30)

Greetings and welcome back. It’s been slow-going on my end with my schedule and medical conflicts, but I’m finally writing and posting another installment of the story of Judah and Tamar. You can catch up by clicking here. Thanks for stopping by my blog. 

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While Alit chats with her friends, Judah prepares to leave. He had caught only snippets of Alit’s conversation, but it was enough to know he didn’t want to be amongst them.He notes how her spirit is seemingly lifted in Tamar’s departure. In fact, the whole tone of the household had changed, as if they had returned to normal. 

He calls his servant to ready the carriage to carry him to the fields. Without a word to his driver, he mounts the wagon and sits back. The ride would be a long one, allowing Judah time to focus on his affairs.  He had been lax in including Shelah on the business, but he couldn’t do that any longer. As primogenitor and sole heir, Shelah would have to be knowledgeable about the livestock and the trading and he would have to develop a backbone to match his father’s, otherwise the boy would be taken advantage of. And after all these years amassing his wealth, Judah was not going to let it dwindle away. Deciding it best to bring the boy with him the following week, Judah reviews his ledgers and makes plans for the shearing of the sheep. There would be a festival and plenty of celebration.

With the business side of things taken care of, Judah relaxes and lets his thoughts linger on the women who would be at the festival, ready to serve his needs. This is enough to take his mind from the present and before he knows it, he has arrived at the fields.

Leaning on his staff, Judah steps down from the carriage and looks around. His servants are tending the livestock, but there are others there too, his brothers watching over their father’s sheep. Though Judah remained in Adullam, Jacob had moved his camp to Hebron, where he resided with Isaac, who had lost his sight, but was still strong for a centenarian. The lands around Hebron were adequate for grazing, but with the addition of Jacob’s flocks, it was necessary to find other grounds that could sustain them all. And when his brothers were in the area, Judah found their presence a welcome distraction.

“Brother!” Reuben greets him with a hug and a kiss.

Judah reciprocates and they join the others beneath a nearby tree. It is midday and the sun is hot. Most of the sheep are resting in whatever shade they can find, no different than their shepherds.

“How is our father?” Judah inquires. It had been some time since Judah had seen his brothers last and though there were travelers who could relay news of the house of Isaac, Judah waited to hear it from the mouth of his brothers.

But none are offering any news. Usually the vocal one, Simeon sits in silence, looking down at his hands. Levi stands, looking down at Simeon. The sons of the concubines say nothing, avoiding eye contact as well. Only Reuben responds.

“Even after all these years, he still mourns for his son, Joseph.”

No guilt had ever struck Judah for his part in Joseph’s sale, but today is different. In the past he could move on to another topic, remove himself from the situation, but not this time.

“It’s like he waits to die,” Asher adds, the sorrow in his voice unmistakable.

Judah listens, but finds his heart weighing heavier than before.

“Would he mourn our passing like that?” Zebulon wonders out loud.

They all know the answer to that, but none respond, each lost in his own thoughts. Judah, for his part, finds himself thinking about his boys. Er and Onan, both dead. Watchful and Strong, dead; leaving only Shelah. His name means resignation. to send, send away, let go, but Alit’s people defined it as request.

Regional linguistics, Judah thinks; still, it was her resignation that named the boy. Judah knew the truth: he had become the father he had left behind, allowing Alit to fill her life with the boys and their needs; and Shelah to play the role of savior.

But this was a truth Judah doesn’t dwell on. He can’t change the past, any more than he can go back and “unsell” Joseph to the Midinites. Maybe he understood the pain his father was going through, but Jacob was the cause of his own agony, he was the one who favored one son, one wife, over the others. He brought it on himself and for that, Judah would not apologize.

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