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Authors: Dianne G. Sagan

Rebekah Redeemed

BOOK: Rebekah Redeemed
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REBEKAH REDEEMED

 
 

Dianne G. Sagan

 

 

 

 

Denton,
Texas

Buoy Up Press

An imprint of AWOC.COM Publishing

P.O. Box
2819

Denton
,
TX
76202

© 2009 by Dianne G. Sagan

All Rights Reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

Manufactured in the
United States of America

ISBN: 978-0-937660-52-2

To my daughters – Shelly, Elizabeth, and Natasha

Acknowledgments
 

Thank you to my husband Greg who is always supportive and encouraging. He is my best advisor and sounding board since he also is a writer.

Our six children are my cheerleaders – Bryan, Natasha, Benjamin, Shelly, Brad, and Elizabeth.

Rosemary, who believed in me and invited me to share my writing with her.

I couldn’t do what I do without my research assistant. Thank you for your time and your valuable input, Elizabeth Chappel.

Our friends Steve and Freddie Gens. They are always encouraging and a ready audience. Steve is a scholar and teaches Pentateuch and Torah classes in our community. He has been an irreplaceable source for my research into customs, Passover in the first century, and women’s roles in the ancient Jewish society.

Thank you to my editor Daniel Case and everyone at AWOC.COM Publishing.

Chapter 1
 

Twilight blanketed the rocky Judean hills as
Bethlehem
’s residents settled in for the night. The village sat on a hill surrounded by grazing land. Small fires lit by isolated groups of shepherds dotted the landscape. Rebekah helped her father, Eleazar, pen the sheep and lambs. The sound of a wooden flute wafted across the hills, serenading the flock.

After a long day, Eleazar, his daughter Rebekah, his friend Caleb and Caleb’s family sat around the fire and ate a simple soup made from warmed water and bread. They kept their flocks close together at night for safety, but they also enjoyed spending this time together to talk. Most of the shepherds around
Bethlehem
were brothers, cousins, uncles, and fathers. Their families enjoyed a closeness that came from sharing the hard lives of tending the sheep and defending themselves and their flocks.

The men always shared stories and whispered about the oppression they felt under the Romans and their cruel, alien king, Herod. After finishing her soup Rebekah helped Caleb’s wife and daughters clean up, scrubbing the utensils with sand to save the precious water for the animals and themselves. She yawned and looked toward Eleazar who smiled at his young daughter. At six years old, Rebekah loved being in the fields with the sheep and spending time with her father, even though it was hard work.

Rebekah snuggled up to a motherless lamb, pulled her tattered cloak over her and listened as her father and the other shepherds told familiar stories. They spoke of a night many years before when angels had appeared and proclaimed that a Deliverer had arrived, and they had run to see a new baby boy who had just been born in an animal pen. She’d heard the story many times but still found it captivating. Her father had been one of the young shepherds who bore witness to this incredible event.

The familiar voices faded in her consciousness, her eyes closed, and she drifted into peaceful sleep knowing her father sat nearby. She dreamed of a bright star and a young mother with a new baby in her arms. Then the dreams mingled with memories of her own mother who had died a year ago in childbirth. Sometimes Rebekah still called out for her mother in her sleep.

This night she slept silently but not peacefully. Struggling out of a dream about her mother and infant brother, the little girl forced her eyes open to see her father still talking to his clansmen. His soothing voice calmed her fears, and she soon drifted back into sleep.

Eleazar was a changed man after the death of his wife and son. To Rebekah he seemed sad all the time. He didn’t smile or laugh as he had when she was younger. With the loss of his young wife, he only had Rebekah and the flock to anchor his life and give it meaning.

One of the older shepherds told stories about the loss of his own son. Soon after the birth that the angels had announced, Herod’s solders had killed every boy under the age of two in
Bethlehem
in hopes of destroying the special child that the shepherds had seen. Almost every family in the village lost a child or grandchild to Herod’s insane jealousy.

Later, in the early hours of the morning when it was still dark, Rebekah awoke to the sound of yelling and a beast growling—screeching. She tightened her hold on the lamb, with her heart pounding and eyes darting toward the noise, trying to see what was happening. Eleazar, Caleb, and the others grabbed their staves and ran to the sheep. The lioness attacked the animals and they scattered, bleating in terror.

Eleazar reached the beast first and struck it heavily across the shoulders. In a flash, teeth and claws turned, tearing at his neck and ending his life so quickly Rebekah couldn’t comprehend what she saw. She screamed in horror and scrambled to her feet. Running to Eleazar, she drew close and fainted from shock.

 

Sometime later Rebekah returned from the darkness and heard voices around her. She lay silently listening to Caleb, his wife and the other shepherds. Her heart ached.

“Who will take her?”

“I have enough mouths to feed.”

“Her father and mother were our friends.”

“Doesn’t Eleazar have any family?”

“No. He never said he had anyone.”

“I heard Miriam say that she had family in
Bethany
, but they disowned her when she married Eleazar.”

“Rebekah must be sent to them.”

“What if they won’t take her?”

“We have to try.”

Rebekah lay curled on her side, hugging her legs. She lay on hay in the back of the shallow cave the shepherds used as stables in cold weather. She felt deserted and alone. No one to love her. No one to protect her. The image of her father’s death played over and over in her mind. She couldn’t close her eyes without seeing the pool of blood, and she couldn’t open her eyes without feeling the sudden collapse of her world.

A woman’s shadow fell across her. The little girl held back her tears and tightly closed her eyes. The woman gently shook her. “Wake up, child. You must eat,” she said, holding out a bowl of bread soup.

Rebekah turned away without a word. She fell into a restless sleep and awoke once again to quiet voices around her. Dawn crept across the clear sky with pink and gold fingers reaching for the day.

“Rebekah, get up. Caleb is taking you to your uncle’s house in
Bethany
,” the woman said. “You must be quick, now.”

The little girl rubbed her red-rimmed eyes and blinked. She pulled her tattered cloak closer around herself and sat down near the fire. She shivered. Her blank eyes looked into the firelight. She felt numb.

When the time came to leave, Caleb’s wife hugged Rebekah and sent the child with her husband to find Rebekah’s uncle. It would be his responsibility to care for the little girl. Families were supposed to be responsible for their brothers’ or sisters’ orphaned children. She felt pity for Rebekah, but she had children of her own to feed.

Caleb and Rebekah walked the several miles to
Bethany
in silence. Rebekah followed him not knowing what would become of her. She just had her sixth birthday when the lambs were born. Tears left muddy tracks on her dusty face, dropped off her chin and disappeared on the road.

Rebekah’s eyes glazed; she saw only the past. Her mother Miriam’s laughing eyes looked into Rebekah’s eyes with tenderness. Even though she had only been five when her mother died, she already knew how to grind the grain for bread. She would help her mother gather dried dung for the first fire of each day. Sometimes Miriam had told Rebekah stories of her own childhood in
Bethany
where she had enough to eat, brothers and sisters to play with, and a warm bed to sleep in every night. Her mother rarely spoke of her family’s feelings about Rebekah’s father, but the little girl had overheard the women talking. Rebekah’s parents had married against the wishes of Miriam’s parents at a time when marriages were arranged; but Miriam had been strong-willed and had run away to marry Eleazar. When Miriam’s family found out, they disowned her. Miriam’s brother Benjamin had come to see her once, when Rebekah was very small, but Rebekah had no memory of her uncle.

After Miriam’s death, Eleazar kept Rebekah with him and taught her the ways of shepherds. They ate and slept in the fields like the sheep they tended, moving constantly by day to find fresh patches of grass and water, making a simple camp each night and huddling around a small fire if they could find wood to burn. She could still see her father standing in his earthy cloak, shawl over his head, the knotted ends moving gently in the breeze. Eleazar’s eyes watched over the flock of shaggy, long-eared sheep grazing on the fields below
Bethlehem
. Sometimes his eyes would drift up to the east of the village to the caves where he had first seen that special baby boy. It was a long time since that night. Eleazar was a gentle man to his family, a good steward of his sheep, brave in the face of danger and strong in his love of Jehovah. He had taught her the stories of her people around the campfire at night.

Caleb interrupted her painful musings of a happier time when he pulled her to the side of the road.

A harsh voice yelled at them, “Get out of the way!”

Rebekah pushed her hair out of her face and looked around her. Roman soldiers tramped the road behind her. She half hid behind Caleb and peeked around at the spectacle.

Others on the road hurried out of the way. One old man couldn’t get his donkey to move fast enough, and the mounted centurion waved two soldiers toward the man. They beat the man and hacked at the animal with their short swords. Then they returned to their ranks, and the Romans marched on over the bodies as if they were part of the stones.

Caleb, Rebekah, and the other Jews watched in horror as their callous oppressors marched by on their way to
Jerusalem
. The centurions sneered down at the people from their horses. Rows of legionnaires, two abreast, followed until all 80 had passed the Jews standing at the side of the road. Each legionnaire wore a short red tunic, plumed helmet, scale armor consisting of iron plates in horizontal rows covering thick leather padding over their torsos. Leather laces held the armor in place. A short sword hung from a leather belt, and each carried two javelins and a curved, oblong shield almost as tall as the soldiers were. There was nothing to be gained from appealing to such men, and there was no point in challenging them except to share the fate of the old man.

After the dust cleared from the passing soldiers, friends of the dead man wept as they took his remains from the road. Rebekah stood silent and wide-eyed, stomach churning, mouth dry. Caleb urged her on so they could reach
Bethany
before nightfall when robbers and thieves would roam the roads leading toward
Jerusalem
in search of easy prey.

Rebekah felt sick at her future.

BOOK: Rebekah Redeemed
8.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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