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By James Vasquez
The years have been with darkness filled,
For sight long since has fled from me,
And naught but memories now I have
That in my mind I clearly see.
And oft I’ve set myself to think,
In moments of deep reverie,
Just how the promises once made
Might be fulfilled or come to be.
For though a host of progeny
Was vowed by him who all things made,
There were but two of sons I had,
And both to distant lands have strayed.
The first-born took his wives and left,
They were a trial each day for us.
We suffered much their insolence,
Lamenting not their exodus.
The younger I sent off to seek
A wife ‘mongst favored kin afar,
These many years no word has come
To tell of news or how they are.
Rebekah deep within a cave is found
At Mamre where I buried her.
Alone I’ve waited, much in hopes
Some tidings would my soul bestir.
And then this early morn word came!
For just beyond a distant hill,
A host of cattle, sheep and men
Approached this lonely domicile.
‘Tis Jacob coming home at last,
And how my weary spirits soared!
I’ve waited long to hold him tight,
Each day his safe return implored.
Tomorrow, then, with all his own,
I’ll welcome them with firm embrace.
I’ll hold the children on my lap,
And run my fingers o’er each face.
And now my thoughts hark back to years,
When I myself was but a child,
When youthful cravings were allowed
And boyish manners then beguiled.
My father was an aged man
When I first greeted light of day,
He’d lived a century walking e’er
In faithfulness to God’s own way.
A son he’d fathered by a maid,
At his dear wife’s most firm behest,
But God had promised through my seed
All nations would one day be blest.
The son and mother were sent off,
For he was mocking me one day,
But God of him would nations make,
And all of father’s fears allay.
I learned the fear of God the day
My father bid me early rise,
To Mount Moriah we set forth
To offer there a sacrifice.
A three-days journey it required,
But naught of offering we took.
I questioned if atop the mount
For goat or lamb he hoped to look.
But there he grasped and bound me fast
Upon an altar he had built,
He took a knife and held it high,
As if to plunge it to the hilt.
Just then a voice was heard from heav’n,
"Lay not a hand upon the lad,
For now your fear of me is proved,
Your dearest son you’ve not forbad."
A rustling then was heard close by,
It was a ram in thicket caught,
A perfect substitute ‘twould be
In place of one he had not brought.
He freed me and upon the slab,
He slew the beast as sacrifice,
Most thankful, I, he heard the voice,
And that the ram would quite suffice.
Now mother died and I remained
As yet unmarried and alone,
But father sent his servant far,
To seek a wife among our own.
I waited long. One day appeared
As I within a field was found,
On yonder hilltop faintly seen
The servant’s camels, homeward-bound!
I rose and slowly walked to meet
This much-awaited retinue.
And with each step a sense within
Of deepest satisfaction grew.
I took her by the hand, this lass
Of nubile form and comely face,
I led her to my mother’s tent,
And there we shared our first embrace.
A pair of twins was born in time,
And each, in life, pursued his way,
For Jacob loved to stay at home,
While Esau thrilled to hunt the prey.
I favored Esau for his game,
And many’a tasty meal he brought,
But Jacob won his mother’s love,
More often giv’n to quiet thought.
Now Jacob was most aptly named,
For he deceived me well one day.
I’d sent his brother far afield,
To find and then some quarry slay.
I thought I’d eat another meal
Prepared by him o’er flaming oak,
Some tasty meat in savory broth,
Before a blessing I’d invoke.
So promptly he returned I asked
Just how it was success he’d found.
"The Lord your God has prospered me
And my pursuit of game thus crowned."
"The voice," I said, "has Jacob’s tone.
Come near, my son that I may feel
Your hands, your clothing to be sure
‘Tis Esau who prepared this meal."
He richly smelled of robust fields.
I felt each sweaty, hirsute hand.
If I could see, I thought, his claim
To be my first-born son would stand.
I blessed him fully with these words:
"May God the dew of heaven give.
May you enjoy earth’s richness and
With grain and new wine ever live.
"May nations serve you, peoples and
Your brothers e’er before you bow.
May those who curse you be accursed,
And blest who on you blessings vow."
He quickly left my presence while
I savored with a flask of wine
Such fortune that to me was giv’n,
This rugged first-born son of mine.
But shortly yet another voice
I heard inviting me to eat,
Imploring that his game I take,
And then my kindly blessing mete.
‘Twas Esau! And that moment I
Became aware of Jacob’s plot.
He’d come and in his brother’s guise
Paternal blessing shrewdly got!
I wished for once, my hearing, too,
Along with sight deserted me,
For Esau filled the place with screams
That reached, I’m sure, the distant sea.
He begged that he, as elder male,
Might yet another blessing know.
And then he learned a father had
But one such blessing to bestow.
"Your dwelling will," I said, "be far,
From fertile earth and heaven’s dew.
Your brother will you serve until
His yoke’s destruction you pursue."
I need not but a moment spend
To tell how Jacob’s mischief played
With Esau who, for Jacob’s death,
Swift preparations duly made.
Thus, with Rebekah’s firm support,
I sent my youngest to the land
Where his dear mother once had lived,
To find a lass and win her hand.
The years have been but kind to me,
I’ve lived within the sacred pact
That Abraham my father and
The Lord Almighty did enact.
My father left abundant wealth,
I’ve had no needs except to greet
My offspring and their progeny,
‘Twill make my life, at last, complete!
My trials with the Philistines,
Or even worse catastrophe,
Will seem as naught when once restored
I find myself to family!
My God has given to enjoy
A century now plus eighty years,
My heart is filled with thanks to him,
While sightless eyes shed lavish tears.
Tomorrow, then, my Jacob comes!
Intriguing tales, no doubt, to tell.
We’ll feast and dance, we’ll take the cup,
While I attend and hear him well.
from the March 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine