Last we saw Judah he was living his life without his accursed daughter-in-law, Tamar. Alit was ecstatic, Shelah was happy and Judah was becoming the man he once was…or was he? We’re skipping ahead in the story but it picks up in a turning point in his life, where he will eventually face his demons or be condemned with them.
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Alit would have been pleased, Judah thinks, eying the many mourners present at her funeral. Indeed, she was leaving a grand legacy. News had spread quickly and drawn those who wanted to show their respect. She was, after all, the daughter of a prominent Canaanite and the wife of another.
Still, it didn’t stop the gossipers from talking:
She died of a broken heart, he heard some say.
The witch killed her, yet others implied.
Revenge for Shelah being withheld, still others dared.
Judah ignored it all. The truth was Alit had a fever that didn’t break, taking her life in the end. That’s all it was. No superstition, no guilt.
The priest mumbles words that are hardly intelligible, making the mourners wail even louder.
Judah sighs impatiently. He looks around him, before turning back to the dead body of his wife. He didn’t mean to be so edgy; he was just growing weary of these events. How many funerals was he supposed to attend in a lifetime?
The pyre is lit and as with the others, Judah can’t help but watch. Smoke rises, leaving an acrid odor in the air as the flesh of his loving wife is consumed.
Loving…the words burns accusingly in his mind and for a moment, he is reminded of his mother, Leah. Though she still lived, her life was far from what it should have been, never finding the place of honor in her husband’s eyes that she deserved.
No, Judah tells himself. Alit was not like his imma and he was nothing like his father. There was nothing he needed to justify. He loved Alit in life, staying with her, just as he promised. Maybe he wasn’t in love with her, but he did love her nonetheless. She gave him three sons, after all. Loving her was the least he could do.
Judah clears his throat and moves impatiently from one foot to the other, willing the guilt away. The professional mourners cry out as the fire crackles and spits. Judah rolls his eyes, wishing the funeral to end.