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Jacob - "When Hopes, Revived!"
by James Vasquez
( Part 4 - click here for Part 3 )
They came a darkened, fateful day,
When I expected one,
Returning with some news about,
Each watchful, shepherd son,
And strange! As I beheld their form,
Approaching ever nigh,
The son I'd sent could not be found,
By my exploring eye.
They entered and most solemnly,
Without a word or smile,
With mournful faces stared at me,
In silence for a while,
Until at last an elder son,
Stepped forward doubtfully,
As if some unexpected blow,
He would deliver me.
And in his arms, extended now,
A coat of brilliant hue,
Made brighter by the bloody stains,
That soaked it through and through.
"We found this tattered coat," he said,
As at my feet it lay,
"Now see if it's the one, in truth,
That Joseph wore each day."
But hardly had I need to look,
Nor need to further note,
I knew when first he set it down,
That this was Joseph's coat!
I rent the heavens with my wail,
My clothes, in anguish, tore,
"An animal has slain my son,
And Joseph is no more!"
Then sons and daughters gathered and,
Their words of comfort gave,
But I avowed I'd go instead,
In mourning to the grave.
And where was God, I asked again,
When in such need my son,
For rescue lifted up his voice,
And found to help him none?
And blest, I thought my life had been,
I dwelt at heav'n's gate,
Then how could he, my favored son,
Have come to such a fate?
How cruel the ways of God, I thought,
How lacking clemency,
Or was there purpose in his will,
That I would one day see?
I answered not, I knew not how,
The ways of God to prove,
His will, so uncontestable,
My reverence did behoove.
And thus as years their wing did take,
We prospered in the land,
Abundant harvests were our lot,
By God's most gracious hand.
But then the clouds their rain withheld,
The earth, its yearly yield,
And famine spread its ugly face,
O'er every hill and field.
The grain so plentiful till then,
For kindred and for beast,
Served hardly for a decent meal,
And never for a feast.
And when with hard, reproving looks,
My sons each other blamed,
I sent them off to Egypt where,
Abundance, it was claimed,
Was found in such a measure that,
They lacked not to provide,
And all who came with money found,
Their stores were open wide.
"A man," I said, "has risen there,
On whom God's blessing rests,
By him has Egypt been enriched,
As all the world attests.
"Be sure you lowly bow the day,
You find yourselves before,
This noble ruler's stately throne,
His goodness to implore,
"That viewing your gaunt figures he,
Will lend a kindly eye,
And send relief to all our clan,
Who wait here but to die."
And thus advised I sent them off,
In hopes they'd do things well,
But then I learned just how it went,
And what to them befell,
They said they'd been before the man,
Whose word throughout the land,
Was like the word of Pharoah when,
He uttered a command.
"No mercy did the ruler show,
As on us he cast eyes,
He disbelieved our tale and said,
That we were really spies.
"'You'll see the face of Simeon,
This brother whom you own,
When with the young man Benjamin,
You stand before my throne.'
"He sent us off with sacks well filled,
Providing us with food,
And vowing not to see us till,
Our brother there he viewed."
So once again, returning home,
They'd lost another son!
Detained by Egypt's ruler who,
Now wanted Benjamin!
I closed my ears to all their pleas,
That Benjamin I send,
His loss would bring me to the grave,
In sorrow to my end.
But things grew worse, the food was gone,
And finally then, I spoke,
"Return again to Egypt and,
Buy food for all our folk,
"There's nothing left in all the land,
For us to buy or sell,
So if you must, then take with you,
Young Benjamin as well."
I saw their disappearing forms,
As south they made their way,
The emptiness so deep within,
I knew not how to say.
It seemed they tarried long as I,
Each day did scan the trail,
In hopes my weary, haggard sons,
I might with gladness hail.
But then, - the day when they returned,
A caravan behind!
With tales I hardly could believe,
Nor ever came to mind!
And this above them all I heard,
That Joseph was alive!
And he it was who ruled the land,
And made all Egypt thrive.
And he it was they bowed before,
And he whom they called lord,
And he who filled their sacks with grain,
From all his treasures stored.
The caravan? 'Twas for my ease,
That I in comfort might,
Be carried to that distant land,
And with my son unite!
What joy I knew when hopes, revived,
Filled my contented heart,
And at my word the family soon,
Make ready to depart.
And setting out, a sacrifice,
To God I offered there,
Who in a vision spoke to me,
And did these words declare:
"Fear not to enter Egypt's land,
Though you are weak and few,
A nation great and prosperous,
I'll surely make of you,
"I'll bring you back to Canaan where,
Your people will be blessed,
And Joseph's hand will close your eyes,
The day you finally rest."
I saw my son in Egypt where,
Our journey finally led,
In regal dress with ruler's crown,
So fitting on his head.
He threw his arms around me and,
Profusely shed his tears,
That spoke of all his love for me,
And long and lonely years.
And our resentment at his dreams,
Was now forever stilled.
For all the promises of God,
Through him had been fulfilled.
And Pharoah then I met one day,
Who asked me of my age,
He thought, no doubt, that many years,
Had made of me a sage.
"My years," I said, "in total are,
Less than my fathers' still,
And few and evil have they been,
By God's determined will."
I blessed that mighty man who sat,
On Egypt's royal throne,
Whom all the world approached in fear,
On bended knee, or prone.
And yet for all his awesome might,
By far his greatest act,
Was when young Joseph he did raise,
And made him king, in fact.
We settled there in Rameses' land,
The best in all the place,
Where we might prosper greatly as,
A separate, chosen race.
I've asked my sons to gather round,
That I might bless them now,
And on my bed I wait for them,
To enter and to bow.
I'll speak the things God gives to say,
As each in turn comes near,
For some a favored destiny,
For some an end to fear.
My body they must bear again,
To Canaan when I die,
And to the Hittite cave where my,
Most honored fathers lie.
I've told them that one day they, too,
Will Egypt's land depart,
For in the promised land will God,
Do all that's in his heart.
(end of part 4)
from the April Passover 2003 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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