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Caleb – I Stood Apart
By James Vasquez
A dozen men, all young and strong,
Were chosen to spy out the land
That God had promised we would own,
If we would venture, sword in hand,
Across those burning sands and hills
To strike the foe, uprooting all,
That Israel there might take its place
The day we made strong cities fall.
A man from each of Israel’s tribes,
Of Judah’s clan I bore the name,
That early morn when we set out
To meet our end, perchance, or fame.
We wandered long and far. In all,
Some forty days we took to see
Just how the land and people fared,
And whether we should fight or flee.
Tall cities walled about we saw,
With fields surrounding, rich and full.
The trees hung low with sweetest fruit,
And ‘neath them sheep, fresh shorn of wool,
While countless beasts grazed every hill,
With cattle, horse and mule afar.
The hills and dells ran full with streams,
As fertile lands at all times are.
And finally we beheld the men,
And some of ours then greatly feared.
We hardly could believe our eyes,
So tall and strong each man appeared.
For not a man among us there,
Could measure up to those we saw.
We marveled at those giants and
With mouths agape we crouched in awe.
We took of grapes a cluster and
Sweet pomegranates on the vine,
A basket filled with figs as well,
Wrapped gently in a cloth with twine.
With these we hoped to show our tribes
The richness of this promised land,
That flowed with milk and honey ‘cross
Abundant fields near cities grand.
We hurried to our people then,
And on the way I thought for sure,
The land could not be taken but
For brutal hardships we’d endure,
But God from Egypt called us out,
And Pharoah’s army vanquished well.
Was he not with us yet that we
His glorious might should ever tell?
Yes, this would be our true account
To those awaiting our return,
And surely by this confidence,
Their firm approval we would earn.
But what surprise and what dismay!
Before I uttered there a word,
The other spies gave their report,
Which fear and panic quickly stirred.
And saying naught of God’s good help,
They told of men with undue strength,
Who in that land would slay our own,
And leave them strewn throughout its length,
While some against all truth then gave
A bad report about the land.
They said the earth “devoured” those
Who sought a harvest from the sand.
But I, with Joshua, stood apart,
And urged our people to be strong,
For God was able yet to help,
And drive away the hostile throng.
My words availed not that day,
For soon our people raised a cry,
Against poor Moses, meekest man,
And longed for Egypt , there to die.
And so it was, we entered not
That place of beauty God had planned.
The Lord then swore, for doubting him,
No man would enter promised land.
But Joshua, and I beside,
For standing firm on God’s sure word,
A legacy would gain, for we
Had neither doubted nor demurred.
Those doubters ten were suddenly struck,
And died when plague upon them fell.
They had no cause for lacking faith,
Nor time to bid their kin farewell.
In truth, the whole of Israel
Then mourned for all their sins that day.
They wished, at last, to fight the war,
And some small sign of faith display.
But God had said no doubter would
The promised land enjoy or see,
And Israel was then consigned,
For forty years by his decree,
To wander lost in desert wastes,
Till every man and woman died.
Their children would be heirs of what
To all their fathers was denied.
Now memory of those years remains
More faintly, and the battles waged
Of late within this promised land,
Have all our men and means engaged.
We’ve taken countless cities and
Began our conquest with a shout.
But few are left, their time is short,
For God has said, “Drive Canaan out!”
And Hebron has been given me
As my inheritance for aye.
I’m confident the Lord will stand
Beside me as, one pending day,
I take my men this one last time,
To raise our banner o’er the place,
Proclaiming there the name of him,
Who ever cares for Israel’s race.
For not one promise yet has failed,
Of all the Lord has said to me.
My praise each day I’ll offer him,
With arms held high, on bended knee.
from theMay 2008 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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