The Marriage of Isaac and Rebekah
By Chris Sharp
For a moment, the camels set on the hazy horizon seemed to be on the sky rather than on the land. Their first seconds in view of the village of Nahor in Mesopotamia stood still to terrify the villagers. Ten camels accompanied by men in Canaanite capes were enough to raze the village while more than nine out of ten of Nahor’s able men had gone to perform military exercises for the Mesopotamian throne.
In the next second, the camels came alive from their momentary stone stance to move as a menacing convoy toward the village.
Raiders! said one old man, who was really too old and tired to perform any kind of military service, for the king or for little Nahor. Raiders! Raiders!
With all the effort and the stiffness of his age, the old man stooped to pick up a stone with his right hand, then another rock with his left.
Then, at first tentatively, the children of the village copied everything he did, picking up stones with their right hands, then with their left ones.
The camels kept moving forward while seemingly standing still, as is they were a mirage that was gaining size by the traveler approaching it.
In the front camel the rider wore a large, tri-colored turban that was commonly favored by the royal family members and servants of the City of Ur. The rider was waving his hands high over his head, showing his open palms to the people.
We are friends! The rider shouted to the people gathering together in the Village. We are from the house of Abraham.
Abraham! said the old man who had starting the rock weaponry. He decided he might as well be the spokesman for the village of Nahor, since there was no other village official around to do or say anything. Everyone knows Abraham died centuries ago. Who are you? Bandits, I’ll bet.
Not so. Abraham is as alive as ever. And he is crankier than he has ever been. Please do not call Abraham and his staff bandits if you don’t want to see how mad he gets these days.
The rider with the big turban slid off his camel like it was a water slide, continuing to talk and keeping his white smile alive even as he dismounted.
Hello there, said the stranger. My name is Jared. I am a servant of Abraham of Ur. My master brings greetings and gifts to the people of Ur. You see, Abraham’s grandfather used to live in Nahor.
The stranger was holding out his hand to shake. This was a relatively modern custom developed by the innovative court of Mesopotamia, to shake a stranger’s hand to prove there were no rocks to throw as a weapon from either right hand.
The old man shook the stranger’s hand without emotion, staring like fire into the stranger’s eyes.
If Abraham must have died hundreds of years ago, the old man said, his grandfather must have died thousands of years ago.
Let me explain, said the stranger. We are under the command of a God who is apparently not known to you, but very well known to Abraham. He is not a new God, but he is the only God. Sometimes he will twist a law of nature a little to have his way. So he has allowed Abraham to live many centuries beyond his time. This is so he can accomplish a certain mission on this earth, which God is intent on accomplishing. God has made Abraham just as stubborn to have this mission accomplished. So it’s going to be done one way or another, this big mission created by God to start a new world.
What’s going to be done, you say? said the old man, coldly releasing Jared’s hand.
I am going to find a wife for Abraham’s beloved son Isaac, said Jared. She has to be the best woman in Mesopotamia, and when we found her, we will take her back with us. Of course, we will ask her family permission.
The young people bent down again and once more picked up rocks. Then there appeared from between the houses three men in Mesopotamian armored uniforms with their swords drawn. A child threw a rock against Jared’s camel’s upper head, and the camel bucked to the blow.
Children, do not be rude to our visitors!
The young woman calling to the children was half-running, yet half walking to the scene of the ten camel riders. She wore swarming capes that flowed behind her in the wind, with her dark hair flowing above them, and a satchel of water in her hands was so big it barely stayed along with all this flowing.
Children, do not be rude to guests, she said, when she arrived at the scene. This water is for your poor bruised camel, she said to Jared. My sisters are gathering more water for you gentlemen and your pretty camels. I am sorry for this poor greeting you have received
Well, what is your name? asked a fixed Jared.
My name is Rebekah.
She turned strongly to the three Mesopotamian soldiers who were moving forward.
These men are our guests, she told them. My family has food and straw to provide for them until they have rested over the night. Please serve these men as if they were the guests of our whole village.
The camel was drinking the water. Rebekah was going back toward the houses again. Just sit down in our beautiful oasis shade, she called behind her. We will bring more water for you.
Jared went to the last camel driver.
What? said the young man, smiling because the Mesopotamian soldiers were now bowing to them.
When you are completely rested and well, said Jared, go back to Abraham ahead of us.
Tell Abraham God has found without any delay a wife for his Isaac. Her name is Rebekah.
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Chris Sharp has had fiction published in Revista Review InterAmericana from the University of Puerto Rico to on-line stories in Aphelion@webzine.com PopulistArt.com, Kalkion.com, DailyLove.net (Oct. 24, 2010), Yesteryear Fiction (Feb, 8, 2010) and WestRanchBeacon.com. He won the 2003 West 35th Street Award in “Best New Short PI Fiction” for his story. “A Smell on the Beach” from Crimestalkers.com. He is married to the poet Debbie Bongiovanni.
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