Search our Archives:
» Opinion & Society
by James Vasquez
Now Abraham is how I'm known,
Though not by parents' choice,
God gave the name when He appeared,
And spoke with potent voice,
"In you all nations shall be blest,
A father you will be,
And kings and princes shall be found,
Among your progeny."
But first another tale I'm bound,
To tell you and it's true,
Of early years in far off Ur,
And men of fame I knew.
For as each evening's chill we felt,
And round a fire met,
I heard their ancient stories and,
To this day can't forget.
And I stood silent as I heard,
These men of hoary age,
Speak of the things they knew of God,
This prophet, king or sage.
For I was but a youth midst such,
And in their presence I,
Thought best to listen well and learn,
And was a little shy,
Though scarcely did I know, of course,
Each man would give his name,
To future generations and,
Would garner lasting fame.
And one did claim to be the best,
With arrow and with spear,
For he'd descended from Nimrod,
'Mongst hunters, without peer.
And one affirmed there was a time,
All men were of one speech,
Until, conspiring, they did build,
A tower, heav'n to reach.
But even greater was the tale,
Of one quite aged man,
Who said God once had sent a flood,
Which all the world did span.
And never round those dancing flames,
Was one who dared disclaim,
The truth of him who shared this tale,
For Noah was his name.
He spoke and then I knew each man,
In silence, as if dumb,
Reflected well on this great truth, -
We each from him did come.
And thus I spent so many years,
Entranced, inspired, in awe,
And there would gladly have remained,
For all I heard and saw.
But God had plans I did not know,
One day He called me out,
From all that fellowship and said,
"Go forth and do not doubt,
"I send you to a land unknown,
Your father's house forsake,
My blessing you will know and there,
A nation I will make."
So with my lovely wife, Sarai,
And nephew Lot, as well,
We set our course for Canaan's land,
Uncertain where to dwell.
I've not been back to Haran since,
I know not how things go,
Nor have they to this fine land come,
To speak of good or woe.
And in this promised land I've been,
A hundred years or more,
My battles, labors, prayers and faith,
Have added to the lore.
Well, Lot, my nephew, hung around,
A burden now and then,
Our herdsmen quarreled over land,
And fought time and again.
One day I told him, "Let's have peace,
Take your possessions now,
Go where you will, let's separate,
With handshake and a bow."
I knew he'd take the choicest land,
To me it mattered not,
But when to Sodom's plain he moved,
I was concerned for Lot.
And then my doubts were proven true,
When suddenly appeared,
Three men who quickly did affirm,
What I had deeply feared.
The Lord was not well pleased with some,
In Sodom for their ways,
And was about to show His wrath,
And end their sinful days.
So then I knelt, imploring God,
If fifty men were found,
Of righteous soul would He not, then,
Raze Sodom to the ground?
And finally, then, it came to this,
If there were only ten,
He promised He would spare the place,
For these most righteous men.
With that I was quite satisfied,
I thought they could be found,
And thus I thought my prayer was heard,
To keep Sodom around.
But then, next morning, I beheld,
A scene so grim and seared,
For Sodom was but fire and ash,
The town nowhere appeared.
But God, indeed, had heard my prayer,
Lot did escape His wrath,
An angel led him by the hand,
And out a narrow path.
Another day I went to war,
I fought against four kings,
They'd captured Lot's whole family,
And all their goods and things.
And since he was my blood line I,
My servants then called out,
The ones I'd trained for battle and,
We gave them quite a rout.
I say this not in boasting tone,
But rather so you'll know,
A greater thing that then occurred,
Which did amaze me so.
A priest came out to meet me there,
He brought both bread and wine,
Melchizedek he called himself,
Of royal, holy line.
He blessed me then by God Most High,
Who'd wrought this victory,
And also the Creator blessed,
Who made the land and sea.
I never heard from him again,
Nor had I e're before,
But certain he, a priest of God,
Remains for ever more.
Without beginning or of end,
Of righteousness a king,
As King of Salem he was known,
And surely peace shall bring.
Now God had promised me a son,
I waited patiently,
The promise was so slow to come,
That I, quite foolishly,
Began to think I had a part,
I'd hurry things along,
But that departure from my faith,
I learned, in time, was wrong.
And thus it happened that one day,
A son to us was born,
But not from Sarah's loins did he,
Come forth that early morn.
No, Sarah's maid was mother of,
This son whose life would be,
A troubled one with enemies,
And great hostility.
In time my Sarah did give birth,
Her days of waiting done,
And Isaac was the name we gave,
To this our promised son.
My heart was filled with joy just then,
With rapture, I should say,
For all my years of faith were thus,
Rewarded on that day.
And so we lived, the three of us,
In happiness until,
God spoke and asked of me a thing,
That brings a shiver still.
"Take now your son and offer him,
Upon an altar's stone,
In bloody ritual sacrifice,
This son, bone of your bone."
I wrestled well into the night,
For some effectual plea,
But ere the sun had shown its face,
I gathered him to me.
A three-days' journey then we took,
To Mount Moriah's slopes,
A thousand questions in my mind,
And broken all my hopes.
Could God revive my lifeless son?
I thought somehow He could,
This God had ever faithful been,
I only knew Him good.
But it had never happened thus,
Perhaps it was too much…
And then at Mount Moriah's top,
The knife my hand did clutch.
But as I was about to plunge,
That glinting blade held high,
My arm was frozen when I heard,
His voice again come nigh,
"Hold back your hand, my Abraham,
Let not his blood be spilt,
And offer then an animal,
Upon the altar built.
"For now I know with surety,
You fear me above all,
Your faith has proven true once more,
You've heeded all my call."
And then one darkened night He said,
"Look skyward and address,
The sparkling stars in their expanse,
Their sum is numberless.
"And such will your descendants be,
My promise shall be kept,
I count your faith as righteousness,
Now walk in each precept.
"Through trials will your people pass,"
He said, assuredly,
"They'll suffer long as slaves but then,
A mighty nation be."
And now my story finds its end,
I'm on my way to see,
A field where Sarah has been laid,
I purchased for a fee.
I've counseled Pharoahs, fought with kings,
I've garnered wealth untold,
Prevailed in prayer but over all,
To this great truth I hold,
I'm but a man who faithful was,
To that clear call from God,
And knew His love in all my trials,
And everywhere I've trod.
from the October 2002 Edition of the Jewish Magazine