Something new and very different for a blog from me. Though I usually write fiction, I seldom do anything along those lines in blog format. So here goes…
My name is not important. But if you must know, it is Asher. I was born to Micha and Orna. I had three older brothers and one younger sister. Of which I have not seen in many years. As a child, I grew up in Uziel, a simple and tiny village east of Sychar in the hills above the Vale of Aulon. I was no different than any other young boy. Except that I was part of a nation of outcasts. The hated ones.
My father was a blacksmith. The only one in our region. So he kept busy. Despite that, with three older brothers, it was never to fall to me to become a smith. As I grew older, I had to find other ways to make my way.
I remember the day I was near my father’s forge. As he trained my two oldest brothers, I had carried a meal to him from my mother. She had insisted I do so to get me out of the house. “It should do you well to wander. Keep your eyes about so that you may find work.”
I began my studies as all young men did. We were of the Yahwehstic belief. Much as the Jews that surrounded us. But, in truth, the young of the Israelites had more and greater ways to take them onward. Even with the Romans over us all, they lived under the assurance of Yahweh’s promises and prophecies. And so, according to their authority, we were less of such good than the Gentiles themselves. It was the cloud that hung over us and the millstone that hung from us.
But, yes, back to the studies. I felt I was of the rabbinic degree. That I would grow and learn the ways and become something my dear, over-ridden father would be proud of. As I began the studies of my twelfth year, the Torahs were abducted from our nearest temple. It was found later that they all disappeared from the whole of Samaria.
Some claimed the Jews were responsible. “The Hebrews find themselves of a much higher place than they ought.” My own Rabbi Yechiel accused. “They have come about in the night and took that which was not their own.”
“What should we do?” I had asked him.
He truly did not have an answer. As such, he made one for me that sufficed. For the time. “It is alright, dear Asher.” He smiled. “The Romans will recover it for us.”
Of which, they never did.
My age demanded that I continue my education then or move on upon other designs. With no Torah to teach or learn from, I was made to work a menial job like any other. I was not the sort to desire that. But I was also not the sort to steal or criminalize others. It was then that I returned to my father’s house in hopes to become a blacksmith as he. Should my three older brothers pass on at that moment, I would. Alas, they were strong and willful not to.
So I was about the abode as I grew to manhood, seeking that which I could find to devote to my dear begetters household. It was as such the day I traveled to the hammers to feed my dear father and brothers.
It was but a few households from our own, through the market place, and down the hillside to the edge of the village. I found resting against the outer wall, a man of some age. Near to my own father’s. He noticed my approach and nodded at me. I entered the smith without thought and set about putting the meal out for my family. My two eldest brothers came in and sat to eat, less a single word. My father stepped in and called to the door the man who had leaned upon the wall. He was invited to sit and join my family for lunch. So it was that the meal I was to partake in was granted to the stranger. Realizing that I would be without, I resumed the place this man had upon the outer wall.
Though I was done a disservice, in a small way my silence contributed to the household’s income as he was clearly a patron. It was that I had to cast about the place until the meal was concluded that I might return with the basket in which it was conveyed. In time, I was called upon through names of disrespect from my siblings to return and fetch the basket.
As I did, the customer asked about my own welfare. “What does it concern you, sir?” My father inquired.
“Is he employed? Yes or no?” The man insisted.
Curious, my dear father replied that I was not. As though I was mute.
“I should like a man his age to help me on my farm.” He answered in moody prose.
“Indeed?” My pappy asked. The man nodded again. My father grinned of evil recourse and spoke, “Then he is yours.” He looked to me and added, “He will arrive at the dawn of the morrow.”
And so was the whimsical way to which I found myself beholden to Jonathon of the wheat fields. It wasn’t far to the farm. Had I known what lay ahead, I would surely have been far greater anxious to be about the job of cutting the wheat.
My arrival gave no sign of impending greatness. But it did indeed give me little time to breathe in preparation for that which was to come. I was given immediate duties amongst the dozen or so others that he worked. From dawn until dark.
The wheat went on for acres and acres. Tiring work that tore at my muscles and bones. It was that I murdered myself, pouring all I had into it the length of a fortnight (and more, I suspect). Then came a day when a slight caravan arrived in the late afternoon. I gave it little mind until I saw that a figure disembarking was that of a young lady. One my own age.
Without thought, I withstood my work and approached her. She paid me less concern than the animal that had pulled her and the caravan about.
Marchie, the man who led me and the other servants, took me to himself, admonishing me. “The daughter of the master. You will do well to align yourself elsewhere.”
Though the man was as right on it as possible, my mind wondered. She had captured me with eyes that saw through me. A half fanciful smile that I swore could be for me alone.
It was that I worked harder than any. Marchie took note. He professed it upon the master and I was given a greater measure. More to do but very little more, albeit, to eat. As such I was within the master’s quarters a time or two and I met, by introduction, Dinah.
Knowing the terms of my station kept me silent about how I felt. Was it love? I know now that it was, indeed, love. Yet then, within the confines of youthful zealotry, I wondered if it simply was what I had et.
So a day came that Marchie and the master had it about. They argued on this and that as often as the ravens tried to scatter about for missed kernels. But upon this day, it was a bucket that could not be emptied. And so, my friend Marchie was on the highway, seeking other places. As such, the master queried me and I became Marchie’s replacement.
By now, I believe that Dinah had empowered her father upon my own. That his determination to bring me up was of her designs. She would deny it most vehemently upon the questioning so years hence. Yet, repeatedly in fact. And always with a smile.
The time came about that we were married. It was such a grand scene that my father finally patted upon my shoulders and granted the words that he was proud. I stood to gain the whole farm and nonesuch was a small thing. In truth, though, I was madly upon my love for Dinah.
But tragedy lurked upon the fields of wheat and would find it’s loathsome way to my door.
Featured Image by Jonas Jacobsson