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By James VasquezI well remember that warm day,
When first I saw him yet ahead,
A stranger as my sheep I coaxed,
And to the covered well I led.
And as the stone he moved aside,
That on the well was set – alone,
No thought had I of who he was,
And little of him could have known.
But in these lingering moments now,
Unsure what will become of me,
My thoughts I fix on all he did,
And how things finally came to be.
A stranger, yes, but also kin,
And soon I learned the stranger’s name,
‘Twas Jacob and the sight of me,
At once set all his heart aflame.
Of form and face most lovely, I,
Was shepherdess to father’s sheep,
And longed, instead of animals,
A man and joyful home to keep.
He met my father and a month,
Had scarcely passed when he proposed,
He’d work sev’n years to gain my hand,
And thus his ardent love disclosed.
For much he favored me but not,
My sister Leah, dim of sight,
Though custom urged the elder first,
Be duly wed to make things right.
He worked and how he prospered then!
Or should I say, my father did,
The wealth he gained was seen by all,
Nor from our watchful vision hid.
Now did I say sev’n years? In truth,
They seemed much quicker to expire,
No doubt for all the thought he gave,
To me and his intense desire.
The night thus came, a gala feast,
My father held with much to drink,
And Jacob in the darkened tent
Performed his right nor paused to think,
Till morning when, by dawn’s first light,
He saw ‘twas Leah by his side,
My father had ordained it so,
That Jacob by our rules abide.
He was, to say the least, surprised,
But quite becalmed when father said,
That for another seven years,
I would be his to love and bed.
Now oft I’ve wondered how it was,
He passed the night with Leah there,
But thought throughout that it was I,
While of the facts quite unaware.
And so, within the week, we wed,
And he at once his work began,
But if he thought he’d entered heav’n,
Surprises yet besieged the man.
His wages father often changed,
But not in keeping with his work,
For Jacob brought prosperity,
Nor from a hardship did he shirk.
But if outside the home there were,
Such problems as he had not known,
Within, the discord was far worse,
That daily he was forced to own.
The problem, you will understand,
Was simply that while Leah gained,
Much favor by the sons she bore,
I was quite barren, and complained.
Indeed, she bore four sons and then,
Her maid as well delivered two,
My maid I offered then, and soon,
Yet two more sons made their debut.
"Now give me children or I die!"
I told my husband to persuade,
"And am I God," he answered me,
"Who has your womb so barren made?"
But he who hears our every plea,
Aroused himself to answer, then,
I was with child and Jacob learned,
And was the happiest of men.
Well, things went worse out in the field,
For Jacob by our father’s hand.
About that time God said to him,
"Return now to your native land."
And when he told us of his plan,
We were at once quite in accord,
For father thought us foreigners,
From him we looked for no reward.
We left by stealth one early morn,
When father was away with sheep,
We took our many things and I,
Our household idols wished to keep.
But then, in Gilead, he came,
My father with an angry throng,
Full bent on doing us great harm,
Nor ruing that it might be wrong.
But this amazing tale he told,
The Lord appeared to him and said,
That neither good or bad was he,
To say to Jacob who had fled.
"But why have you not granted me,
To kiss my daughters a goodbye?
Nor yet their children to embrace,
Perhaps to shed a tear and cry?
"A feast I would have held at once,
And honored you with music sweet,
Dismissing with my blessing and,
A joyful sendoff as is meet."
He did, of course, make mention of,
The idols I had filched and hid,
But searching he uncovered naught,
As I their whereabouts bestrid.
"The way of women has now come,"
I said remaining on the ground,
(The idols ‘neath my outspread skirt,)
Which turned my father quite around.
Now once again uncertainty,
Beclouds my mind as pains increase,
But I must yet conclude my tale,
Make haste, my soul, and be at peace.
‘Twas quite a scene we witnessed there,
As Laban and my Jacob met,
But in the end accord was reached,
Without undue constraint or threat.
A heap of stones, a pillar, too,
They set between themselves that day,
And taking oath they promised each,
For harm they’d never cross that way.
And sorrowing for his daughters and,
Their children whom he’d never see,
My father said, "Now God is judge,
A witness e’er ‘tween you and me."
We parted, then, but not without,
A feast in honor of the day,
And in the morn midst hugs and tears,
Our last respects we each did pay.
My time grows short, I hasten now,
Yet one last memory remains,
I’ll tell you briefly how it came,
Midst bitter suffering and pains.
My father long had feared the day,
When Esau would his presence find,
For he had wronged this brother once,
And knew that vengeance filled his mind.
He came upon us shortly, then,
And with an army at his side,
Our hearts were filled with fear, we had,
No place to run or even hide.
But once again the ways of God,
Turned all our thinking quite around,
He greeted Jacob kindly and,
As if some long-lost brother found.
And how I wish this babe within,
My body now would come to light!
My strength is waning fast, I feel,
While here I labor through the night.
And will they treat my Joseph well,
When I’m no longer by his side?
And will his brothers show him love,
And some encouragement provide?
Or will his father’s favor be,
Sufficient to their ways amend,
I know not but with final breath,
To Jacob’s God my soul commend.
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