Tag Archives: History

The Sermons of Moses

The Sermons of Moses

A Conversation on the Revelation of Yahweh to His People preached through Moses on the plains of Moab

The writings of David Guzik and, David J. Zucker have been a good source of information. I appreciate Chabad.org and Rashi’s Commentary for their insights into what the traditional thoughts are on the Torah. I am especially thankful to Zola Levitt for the love he spread through his T.V. program and writings. He made me fall deeper in love with my God and that is what I am trying to do with these conversations – I want my readers to fall deeper in love with our God, Yahweh, with every reading – as I am doing with every writing.

Preface

This book is the fifth book in the Torah[1] – the books of Moses. The Hebrew word Devarim means words, matters, or things. It is a reaffirmation and review of the covenant between Israel and their God, Yahweh. It is an establishment and examination of Israel’s human experience. It is personal and reproduces to the ancient Israelites – and us today – the events and words as a single event to be experienced in this current moment. “The complete range of human experience is brought to life and salvation by the full revelation of God: Live this! Now!”[2] The emphasis is on teaching and learning. It presents Yahweh as the one and only God[3] and instructs his chosen people to unwaveringly hold fast to him. It establishes Yahweh as spiritually connected to his chosen people with no physical presence, but a dwelling place for his name[4]. It reiterates the fact that Yahweh’s relationship with his chosen people entails specific obligations that were mutually agreed upon and have consequences. Yahweh created his chosen people, redeemed us from bondage and guides us safely through the wilderness of sin. He created Israel, redeemed her from slavery in Egypt, guided her through the wilderness, and brought her safely to the Promised Land. Like Israel, we have an obligation to cooperate with Yahweh so we won’t be “plucked off the land” – the path that he is leading us on – and be scattered “from one end of the earth to the other” – get lost in the confusion of worldly wisdom. As you read this book consider it spoken directly to you. Look deeply into the heart of your God, Yahweh. Inspect your own heart – your actions and motives – judge yourself and be careful not to judge others. Judging others is Yahweh’s job and he doesn’t need our help.


Things to think about

  1. What do you see as the object of this book of teachings? Do you see it as a means to get better acquainted with our God, Yahweh?
  2. Is it important who wrote it or when it was written?
  3. How can you and I today relate to a book written so long ago?
  4. How can this book help us to walk in the light?[5]

[1] Torah means many things, but especially in this context it means teaching – not law.

[2] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message, NAVPress, 2005, introduction to Deuteronomy, page 223

[3] Deuteronomy 6:4

[4] A name is a term used for identification. Yahweh’s name identifies him as the one who is who and what he is and will be what and who he will be – not a being that can be manipulated.

[5] I John 1:7

Consummation – Joseph

Consummation
Chapter Nine
Back in the land of promise Jacob was hungry too. The famine had taken its toll and left Joseph’s family with the money in their pockets but no bread on the table. His brothers listened to their children cry for food and their wives complain until they couldn’t stand it anymore and went to their father to complain. There they stood looking around at each other and shaking their heads over the problem, telling each other they just didn’t know what they were going to do about the situation.
“What good are you doing standing around looking at each other for a solution?” Jacob asked. “Egypt has food. There is your answer. Go to Egypt immediately and buy us food before we all starve.”
“That certainly seems to be a viable hypothesis,” his eldest son said. “All eleven of us shall go together to buy food from the store houses in Egypt that we have heard so much about.”
Jacob’s old wrinkled skin turned white on his face and his eyes grew dark in their wide round sockets. “No, no. Benjamin shall not go with you. Ten is enough to bring back the food. Benjamin shall stay here with me where I’ll know he’s safe and no evil will befall him.”
“What could possibly happen to him while he is gone with us to buy food?” Simeon’s voice rose with each word.
“Hush,” Levi admonished in an undertone to his brother. “The ten of us can go alone just as well as not; and there is no reason to get our father upset over Benjamin.”
Benjamin held his breath and let it out slowly. His forehead was creased with lines. “Of course not. I just lost my temper for a minute there.” Turning to his father, he said, “Yes, you’re right, of course. The ten of us will get started right away, won’t we, men?”
The brothers didn’t squander anymore time talking and were soon on the road to Egypt. It was mighty hot traveling long before they reached the desert. The land was parched and dry and the riverbeds offered no refreshment to the thirsty donkeys. The water they carried with them had to be used sparingly until they reached the Great Sea and even then it was low. By the time they reached their destination even those hardy shepherds were hot and tired and more than a little glad to have that part of the round trip over with.
As quickly as possible they made themselves as presentable as they were able to after their long journey and requested an audience with the prime minister, having been told it was he who was in charge of the food. Permission was granted with condescension and the ten of them went before the presence of the great man and bowed low to him, almost kissing his feet.
Joseph recognized them immediately but had no intention of revealing himself to them too soon. His Egyptian finery, his shaven face, and the office he held would keep them from identifying him. He even used an interpreter to talk with them, demanding to know who they were and where they came from.
Reuben spoke for the family and explained quite respectfully that they came from the land of Canaan to buy food for their families.
The brothers watched with growing apprehension as the interpreter talked to the important gentleman and the creases in great man’s forehead deepened while his eyes narrowed. He shook his head from side to side and his voice sounded like a low growl to his brothers as he answered. As he talked he drew himself up to an even more impressive height. The brothers began to sweat.
The interpreter swung toward the sons of Jacob and snapped, “You are spies! You have come sneaking around to find out where we are vulnerable.”
“No, no, I assure you that we are not spies,” Reuben said. “We are simply the sons of our father. There are twelve of us, but one had to stay with our father and the other is gone. We are all the sons of one man, honestly, and we simply came to buy food for our starving families.”
The servant turned back and spoke to the prime minister again while the ten brothers waited breathlessly, but the minister’s face only hardened and the words that sprang from his lips were plain to the brothers even before the interpreter spoke.
“No, you are not to be believed. You are surely spies. You insult the prime minister when you expect him to believe your foolish story.”
“Oh.” The word came out of Reuben’s mouth with a slow breath, but before he could answer the great man was speaking and he shut his own mouth deferentially and waited.
The servant whirled back toward the brothers when his master was finished speaking and said briskly, “You shall be tested. You say you have another brother at home? Well, we shall see if you are brothers at all now. Send for your youngest brother. One of you only shall go back to where you say you come from and bring your brother back here while the remainder of you shall be kept in prison. But for now you shall be tested more before that one is allowed to go. If you are not deceitful it will be seen after you have spent some time in prison. Guards! Guards! Away with these men! It is surely necessary to the life of our great Pharaoh to test their honesty.”
The next three days the brothers had a chance to wonder how much young Joseph had suffered in that hole so long ago. They saw over and over again in their own chains the manacles they had caused to shackle their little brother’s legs. Then they thought of the long journey from home through the desert and saw the bloody sores that must have been the result of those restraints rubbing lesions as he stumbled along in the heat.
They sighed with relief and trembled with fear when, three days later, they were brought from the prison into the great prime minister’s presence again.
Very sternly, and oh so far above them, the man began to speak in a clear grave voice. When he finished an interpreter turned to the brothers and repeated his words in Hebrew.
“Because I fear God you shall live if you do as I say. One of you only shall stay in prison and the rest of you shall go to your home with the food for your family. Then you will come back with your younger brother to prove your story is true; and then you shall all go free and no one will die.”
“This is because we ignored Joseph when he pled with us for his life,” one of the brothers said.
“Yes,” another agreed. “We saw the agony of his soul and refused to listen. Now we are being punished for our sin.”
“Didn’t I tell you” Reuben said, “not to sin against the poor boy? But would you listen? No! And now just look at the mess we’re in. We’re just going to have to pay for our sin, that’s all.”
Joseph had to leave for a few minutes then. The brothers had been speaking freely, assuming he couldn’t understand them. Joseph’s heart was touched by his brother’s imperfect repentance and he turned aside to weep by himself; but he still couldn’t trust his brothers and he had a deep need to see his father and younger brother.
“Where did he go?” Levi asked just as he returned with another prison guard who immediately put Simeon back in chains and led him away.
And while his brother were hastily preparing themselves for the journey home Joseph was giving orders for the food they ordered to be loaded on the donkeys. “Put the money they paid for the food back in their sacks,” he ordered, “and make sure they have plenty of food and water for the trip back home.”
The sons of Jacob didn’t talk much as they left the city and started on their way home. They had much to think about. But that night when they stopped at an inn for the night one of them opened his sack to fed his donkey and found his money that should have paid for his share of the food.
He turned to his brothers and howled, “This is awful! My money is back in my sack. It will seem that I am a thief. Now what shall I do?”
“We must get home as quickly as possible,” they decided, “before it is discovered and the Egyptians catch up and put you in prison too.”
But they whispered to each other fearfully as they traveled, “What is God doing to us? Are we finally going to be punished for the evil we did to our little brother?”
Explaining the absence of Simeon wasn’t something those evil men looked forward to either, or the demand by the ruler of Egypt for their return with Benjamin. It was beginning to look like they were going to get returned to them, full measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over the misery they had wished on their innocent little brother.
When they got home and unpacked, things seemed even worse, for their money was all still with them. They were all a bunch of no-good thieves, and they hadn’t intended to be at all. Was this their sin making itself manifest in their lives even against their volition? Could it be that sin had frozen itself into their beings and they couldn’t rid themselves of it now? There was only one thing to do: take the money and Benjamin, go back to Egypt, and try to make the lord of the land believe them. Could men who had lived a lie for over thirty years make themselves credible enough to be believed? Their father thought not.
“You shall not take my son Benjamin away from me too,” he insisted in pitiful anger. I have already lost two of my sons and you propose to take my Benjamin who has already been deprived of all the rest of his family except me. No, you won’t! I couldn’t bear to lose him too.”
But his own and the hunger of his family made the stipulation about taking Benjamin to Egypt vague in Jacob’s mind and he ordered his sons to return and buy more when their food ran out.
“We cannot go back without Benjamin,” Reuben said. “I promise you I will bring him back again if you put him in my care. I promise you on the life of my own sons that I will keep him safe – but we cannot go back without him.”
“Why did you tell him in the first place that you had another brother?” The Father’s question had tears in it. “How could you do this awful thing to me, to put my son in danger?”
“The man made a point of asking us about our family. He even asked if our father was still alive and if we had another brother,” Dan said. “How could we do anything else besides answer him honestly, especially when he was accusing us of being spies?”
“Yes,” Naphtali agreed, “how could we possibly know he would demand we bring our brother to Egypt?”
“Listen, Father,” Judah said. “Send him in my care and we will go and bring back food, and I promise you that I personally will make sure no harm comes to him. If we don’t go, we all die of starvation. Let me take full responsibility forever if I don’t bring him back to you safely with the food from Egypt. Think about it, if you had not held us back before we would have already been back with more food and Simeon and Benjamin too.”
Jacob caught his breath, let it out, and rubbed a tear from his eye. “If it must be so, then go, but take some of the best fruits from here for a peace offering. Tale some balm and honey too; and I think he would like a nice supply of spices and myrrh. They probably don’t get many pistachio nuts or almonds either; better take along a goodly portion of those. Make it all up into an attractive gift for the man; and take double your money. Perhaps the money was just and oversight and he will be glad to forgive it.”
Jacob’s eyes filled with tears again and he sobbed, “May God Almighty give you mercy before the lord of the land that you may bring me back my sons.” Then he stood tall and threw his shoulders back. “And if I am bereaved, I am bereaved!” And the old man turned his back on his sons and walked away toward the south; but his shoulders were still back and his back was straight.
His sons got their gift together and made haste back to Egypt.
And as Joseph saw the prodigals off in the distance, he said to his servants, “Kill the fatted calf.” He told his stewards to bring the men to his own house and make a feast ready for them to dine with him at noon.
That was quite a remarkable thing for the ruler of all Egypt, only inferior to the Pharaoh in regards to the throne, to invite a bunch of scruffy nomads into his house. The servants were rather astonished themselves but of course they wouldn’t show it by as much as a turn of their heads.
The act brought much more than astonishment to that bunch of scruffy nomads from Canaan – it brought fear. What now? Are they going to make us slaves and have our donkeys taken away from us, they asked themselves.
The sons of “Israel almost fell over themselves trying to explain to the houses steward how it came about that they still had the money from their first trip to Egypt. They quickly showed him the money that should have stayed in Egypt the first time and the equal to it they brought for the second supply of grain.
The steward surprised them by saying he had the money they brought the first time, so it must have been their god who put the money in their sacks. While they were trying to assimilate that news he brought Simeon out to meet them. Then he ushered them all back into the house and gave orders to have their feet washed and their donkeys fed – treating them just like honored guests.
“What’s going on?” Dan whispered.
“We are to have our noon meal her in the lord of the land’s house. Can you believe it?” Simeon said. “He seems to be a very decent man and he is going to keep his word. Did you have a lot of trouble getting Father to let you bring Benjamin?”
“If he is to be here at noon,” Judah said, “we’d better get our gift ready and make it and ourselves as attractive as possible.”
“I certainly hope he appreciated the trouble we have gone to,” Asher said. These donkeys are loaded down with gifts from Father sent to appease his lordship. Here, Benjamin, look lively there and get that donkey unloaded.”
“Oh, let the boy alone,” Judah said. “He is doing the best he can/ Here, Benjamin, I’ll take that. It’s much too heavy for you and I can just as well tale it.”
Levi laughed. “What’s the matter, Judah? He asked, with a sneer. “Are you afraid Father’s pet will break his nails?”
“I have enough sin to my account,” Judah said sternly. “I certainly don’t need anymore. I made our Father a promise and I intend to keep it. We certainly have enough problems without asking for more. Here, take this bundle and set it under that tree in the shade. Benjamin can work with them there while we unload the rest.”
Joseph, when he came at noon, accepted the gifts graciously as they bowed low before him, asking them how they were and how their journey had gone. “And how is your father, the old man you told me about?” he asked. “Is he still alive and healthy?”
When the interpreter relayed this to his brothers, Judah raised himself from the ground long enough to assure him that their father, his servant, was in good health and still very much alive; then he prostrated himself to the ground again.
Joseph saw Benjamin and asked if her were the brother thy told him about. As they assured him this was indeed the little brother, Joseph looked into the face of his mother’s son and yearned to throw his arms around him. But it wasn’t time yet, so he turned his back on his brothers and sought privacy to weep in his own chamber. He took comfort in knowing his God understood what he was going through and his Asenath was trying to understand.
Joseph couldn’t indulge in tears very long, and soon washed his face and returned to his guests, giving orders for the meal to be served immediately. Joseph wouldn’t eat with them, of course. They were far below him, both in the fact that they were Hebrews and Egyptians considered it an abomination to eat with a lowly Hebrew shepherd, and in rank. So the other Egyptians ate by themselves, Joseph ate by himself, and his brothers ate by themselves.
The thing that surprised the brothers is that they were seated according to their ages as though he knew their exact birth order; which of course he did, but the brothers had no way of knowing that. Then he did something even stranger – he gave Benjamin five times as much food as any of the rest of them got.
Now, in the past, they probably would have been very jealous of Benjamin and gotten angry; but they had learned a little in the years since their cruelty to Joseph and they were just happy to be eating at his lordship’s table instead of rotting in prison. Who cared if Benjamin had more than the rest. They all had plenty to eat and drink, so why begrudge their little brother more? They ate and drank and were merry with him instead. Joseph was impressed. He wanted to throw his arms around his brothers right then and there, but they had one more test to pass, so he held his peace.
Joseph commanded his steward to fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they could hold, and then put their money back into the mouth of each sack. “Also put my silver cup into the mouth of the younger man’s sack when you put his grain money in,” he said.
His servant did as he was bid and bright and early the next morning the sons of Jacob said their farewells, took their donkeys, and left the city.
Joseph gave them time enough so he was sure they had left the city, and then he told his steward to go after them. “And when you catch up with them,” he said, “accuse them of stealing my silver cup. Look first in the older men’s’ sacks and keep going until you find it in the youngest man’s sack where you put it. Then bring them back here to me.”
And so his faithful servant caught up with his unwary victims and accused them of stealing his master’s silver cup, the very cup that he drank out of. Not only that, but it was the cup he did his divinations out of, the servant informed them. “You have done evil – repaid his lordship’s goodness with evil!”
“Why, how could you accuse us of doing such a horrible thing? Reuben asked, as he raised himself up and squared his shoulders. “You know very well that when we found the money in the mouth of our sacks we returned it to you, so how could you think we would do something as awful as stealing silver or gold from your lord’s house? Of course we didn’t! If you find it with one of us, let him die and we will be your lord’s slaves.”
“No,” the haughty steward said. “Whoever is found with it shall be my slave and the rest of you shall be blameless.”
The steward started a methodical search that gave his tormented subjects plenty of time to become emotionally whiplashed between indignation and fear that it would be found in one of their sacks after all. Each sack had its money back in its mouth just like the last time so, after all, it was possible the cup would be found in one of their sacks too.
When the servant finally reached Benjamin’s sack and drew the cup out, his brothers were so upset they tore their clothes.
“Never mind that,” the happy steward said. “I have my man and my lord’s cup, so we shall be on our way.”
Benjamin’s brothers quickly loaded their donkeys and returned with him to the city where they fell to the ground before his lordship trembling.
“What possessed you to do something so foolish?” Joseph asked. “Didn’t you understand the power I have? How could you have done something so foolishly evil?”
“What is there for us to say?” Judah asked. “We can’t clear ourselves. We are your slaves.”
“Oh no,” Joseph said. “I will not require that. You are free to go, all except the one who was found with the stolen item. He shall be my slave. As for the rest of you, you may go in peace to your father.” He turned his back on his brothers with a snap of his fingers toward his steward who promptly started to lead Benjamin away.

Judah quickly made his way to the prime minister before he could disappear into his house, and said, “Please let your servant have a word with you, my lord. Please do not be angry with me. I know you have all the power of Pharaoh.”
When the interpreter finished telling the scowling lord, what Judah said, Joseph nodded curtly and the servant said, just as tersely, “You may speak.”
So Judah reminded the great man, as dramatically as he could, how he had asked if they had a brother and demanded he be brought to Egypt; and how they had told him it would kill their father if anything happened to him. He went on to tell Joseph how their father had answered when told of the situation and only let him go as a last resort. He also told him his poor father had lost Benjamin’s mother and only brother and wouldn’t be able to bear it if he lost Benjamin too. “I know that it would kill him and I shall bear the blame because I am the down payment on my promise to my father that his son will be returned to him safely. I cannot go to my father without him and watch him die of the pain. I beg of you to let me stay as your slave in his place for his father’s sake. Let Benjamin go to his father.”
Joseph couldn’t stand anymore. He had his answer, his brother, Judah, had passed the test and that was enough. He commanded all of his servants to go and leave him alone with the Hebrews, but when he told them who he was, he wept so loud all the house of Pharaoh could hear him.
And, when they realized he was the brother they had sold into slavery, his brothers were even more terrified. Their sin truly had found them out. Oh, what to do!
“Please come here close to me,” Joseph said through his tears. Well, it wouldn’t do any good to run and hide, so they approached him trembling.
“Don’t you understand?” he said. “I am Joseph, the brother you sold into bondage. Don’t be upset that it happened now though, because God sent me here to preserve life. The famine has been in all the land for two years, but it will continue for five more and God sent me her so he could use me to deliver you and save the lives of all your families. You see, it wasn’t you who sent me here, it was God. He sent me here to rule this land so you would be able to go live in the land of Goshen and not come into poverty in the next five years.
“You are the Lord’s people and the sheep of his pasture. Be thankful unto him and bless his name.”

Joseph chapters seven and Eight

Interlude
Chapter Seven
It was late into the night when Asenath and her father finally left Potiphar’s house and went home. Then Asenath lay awake for hours thinking of the wonderful things Joseph told her about her God. Consequently she slept late into the day and was surprised that the whole world seemed to be buzzing with some sort of news when she awoke.
She reacted to the news by blurting, “But that’s not true, Father! You know Joseph wouldn’t do anything like that. You must tell Potiphar right away, Father. You know you must!”
“He already knows, my dear,” her father said. “If he believed his wife, Joseph would have been put to death immediately, but she is his wife. He must defend his wife’s honor.”
Asenath began to sob. “But Father, you know Joseph wouldn’t do anything to dishonor any woman.”
Poti-Phera put his arm around Asenath’s shoulders and drew her close to his heart. “Yes, my daughter,” he said, “we all know that, but a man must not call his wife a liar or allow anyone else to call her one. You see, my dear, Potiphar’s first allegiance is to his wife. A man cannot abandon his wife whether she is wrong or right.”
Asenath ran to her room and threw herself across her bed, weeping bitterly. “Where are you now, my God?” she asked. “Where is the joy that was in my heart last night? Did you go to the prison with Joseph? Will you protect him in that awful place? Can you be here with me and in that prison with Joseph too? If you can’t, then please go to the prison and stay with Joseph.”
Then the Holy Spirit of God came and whispered to her heart, “I created the heavens and the earth by my great power. It was by my word that the earth made a channel for the mighty Nile River and it is my power that causes it to overflow and water the crops every year. It is I who determine its measurements and fastened its foundations.”
Asenath sat up and dried her tears and her soul sang, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth is removed, or the mountains are carried into the midst of the sea – even if the waters roar and are troubled and the mountains shake and tremble, we will not fear.”
Asenath’s father told his wife, “Leave her alone. The child was quite taken with the Hebrew slave. It will take time, but she will forget him.”
Six months later Asenath’s mother approached her father. “It has been long enough. Asenath isn’t getting any younger and she is doing nothing to attract the attention of the young men. She cares nothing for her appearance. All she cares about is finding some poor unfortunate slave and trying to make his or her life better. It’s ridiculous! What has she to do with the slaves but to give them orders? Why can’t she understand that she has more important things to worry about? She certainly must stop this foolishness and find a husband.”
“Now, now, my dear,” her husband said. “Asenath is very beautiful just the way she is and any young man worthy of her will be able to see that.”
His wife sighed deeply and turned away. Then she squared her shoulders and spun back to her husband. She laid her hand lovingly on his arm. “Dear husband,” she said softly, “the young men are looking for wives who can complement them in their chosen business. They expect their wives to compete well with other women. Asenath is extremely lovely, but the young men of today need sophistication in their wives.”
However Asenath’s lack of interest in beauty aids and jewelry wasn’t the only cause of disharmony in Poti-Phera’s household in the next few years. Asenath was a constant source of frustration for both her parents, not only because she didn’t conform to the social norm in in her dress, but because she was monotheistic and refused to worship any of the family gods. And she made an enemy of her sister by asking her if she thought her Creator wanted her to use contraceptives since he had told mankind as a whole to be fruitful and multiply.
Asenath hadn’t meant to make her sister mad. She was just wondering out loud about it, but it had the undesired effect of setting the whole family in an uproar for days.
It was because of these things that Asenath spent less and less time in the company of her family and childhood friends. And it was a result of this outcome that made her seem less and less a part of the family and community. She left the scorn of the people she knew and walked for hours among the palms letting the rich black soil of the Nile Valley sift through her toes.
Here she told her God all of her thoughts and feelings and heard his answers in his creation. The heavens eulogize the excellence of God and the expanse above displays his proficiency. Every day communicates his talent and each night exposes his knowledge. There is no speech nor language where the voice of nature praising God is not heard. Their evidence has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world.
She was beholding, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord and being transformed into his image from one attribute to another by the Spirit of God.
“Maybe worshiping just one god isn’t so bad,” her father said. “Her god is n’t like any other god, after all. He is full of mercy and truth and doesn’t seem to require anything but love and devotion. Joseph told Asenath his god would give Asenath joy and peace and I believe he has.”
His wife drew in her breath and let it out slowly. “Yes dear, she does seem peaceful and happy, but I worry about her future and I don’t understand her god at all.”
“Well, dear, I believe I’ve devised a way to understand him. He seems to be everything that our gods aren’t. He is not unjust and he doesn’t demand the impossible.
His wife’s face went white. “Oh my husband,” she said with her hand over her mouth. “The gods will hear you and be angry.”
“They haven’t been able to do anything to hurt Asenath,” he said. “I believe she said he is all powerful and can’t be moved. I’m well satisfied Asenath has made this gracious and mighty god hers.”
His wife was silent a moment with her head down, the she looked up and said, “Yes, I believe I am too. Her devotion is so great she might not even need a husband to make her happy. Oh, I don’t believe that! How can a woman live a lifetime without a husband?”
“Maybe her god will give her a husband,” her spouse said.
Her sigh contained a sob this time. “He would have to be a mighty god indeed to do that. You just won’t understand, will you?” She put her hand lovingly on his arm. “Forgive me, my dear. I won’t let this cause friction between us. I will just accept it as an immutable fact.”

A Mighty God Indeed
Chapter Eight
Sesostris III, Pharaoh of Egypt, sat on his steed and watched his subjects bow to his new prime minister with a satisfied mind. This man commanded immediate respect from all who saw him. Sesostris saw it in the faces of his people. Yes, his royal magnificence was well pleased with his appointment. But what was this? Joseph was bowing himself to a young girl. She was plainly attired but she wore that same other-world nobility that made Joseph stand out in a crowd. Neither said anything, of course, but their eyes met and Sesostris saw the invisible link. He turned to the captain of the guard and said, “Who is that girl? Bring her and her father to me immediately!” He was so excited he almost fell off his lordly seat.
Potiphar bowed and obeyed.
At first Asenath was frightened when Potiphar summoned her and her father to follow him. She had been walking on clouds ever since she discovered the new prime minister they were called out to pay their respects to was none other than Joseph, the beloved Hebrew slave. It all seemed like some wonderful dream and, when Potiphar instructed her father to bring her and follow him immediately, she wondered if this dream was going to turn into a nightmare. But when she saw they were headed straight for Pharaoh and Joseph, she didn’t care what the outcome was so long as she could be that near Joseph.
Asenath hardly knew how she got through the formalities. Her head was spinning and she couldn’t get her breath. She didn’t dare look up but she could see Joseph in her mind’s eye and she could feel his presence. Then, as if in a dream, something Pharaoh was saying caught her attention.
“… she will become his wife as soon as you can prepare her …”
Asenath looked up into Joseph’s eyes and saw pleasure – and it was her that he was pleased with. “What?” she whispered.
Yes, it was true. Asenath was to be Joseph’s wife. Her eyes shone like two lights under black lashes and the color flooded her cheeks.
Joseph’s words were like velvet to Asenath’s ears. “God has made up for all the bad by giving me such a wife,” just as though she were better than being made ruler of all Egypt.
Asenath and Joseph were married in a ceremony of great pomp and circumstance to the great delight of her mother, but Asenath was carried through the whole thing in a fog of delight that she was to be the wife of her beloved Joseph. The joy they shared in the Lord made their marriage a continual source of bliss for both of them.
Today, we in America, have a four sector economy with cash flowing from households to goods and services, credit markets, foreign economies, and the government; and from government to goods and service markets. Factor payments include wages, rents, interest, and profits.
Egypt’s economy was different in the way factor payments were made because of the slave market. The economy was very much agrarian and depended on slave labor for its production. Joseph’s 1/5 tax on all the produce of the land wasn’t much for the land owners to spare and the slave population did the actual gathering and built the cities for storage. Joseph’s royal bearing lead to respect and love wherever he went stimulating cooperation.
These were happy years for Joseph and Asenath. They had two sons and Joseph named them to express his fulfillment and happiness: Manasseh for forgotten pain and Ephraim (double prosperity) for fruitfulness.
Then the seven years of famine came and Joseph sold back to the Egyptians what he obtained for them in the seven years of plenty, not only providing food for all of Egypt, but making Pharaoh exceedingly rich and powerful.

Revelation Lesson Twenty-three Outline of history continued

The Revelation Given to John by Jesus Through the Angel

Lesson Twenty-three

Revelation outline of history continued

Luke reported[i]that Yeshua said[ii]he had seen Satan fall from heaven. John saw[iii]war break out in heaven between Michael and his angels, and the dragon and his angels. He saw the whole gang of Satan and his force thrown out of Heaven, down to Earth. Then he heard the song of triumph.

This is the first step toward eternal isolation for Satan. Here he is given the boot from the direct presence of Yahweh in Heaven, and in Revelation 20:2 he is cast into the pit.

One of the first mentions of Michael is in Daniel 10:13 where he had to fight “the prince of the power of the air” so Yahweh’s message could get through to Daniel. Then in chapter 12:1-3 Daniel was told about Michael’s involvement in the time of the worst trouble before Revelation 20:2 can be fulfilled. In Jude 9 we learn that Michael had to use the Word of Yahweh against Satan to guard the body of Moses.

In Job 4:18 we learned in the last lesson that there were even angels that fell from the glory in which Yahweh had created them, even though they aren’t encumbered with bodies of flesh to weaken them. But we see from Mark 12:25 that the angels who have been true to Yahweh have a sweet, unhindered relationship with their Creator that can be compared with the times of joyful intimacy between a man and his wife. In Luke 15:10 we see that the angels rejoice greatly when a lost soul is saved into the Ark of safety[iv]. In Psalm 91:11 we see that Yahweh has given his angels the responsibility of protecting us while we are on this earth[v]. They sometimes appear to human beings, as in Acts 8:26 and 10:3.

If we read again the triumphant message from heaven and what Luke reported that Yeshua said about seeing Satan falling from heaven, we see that Satan no longer has the opportunity to stand before Yahweh and make accusations against the saints[vi]. The salvation and power of Yahweh’s own is a settled fact, as are the kingdom of Yahweh and the authority of Yeshua Ha Mashiach. A time line won’t work here, but we know that Yeshua had already seen Satan thrown out over 2000 years ago. It is still important today; however, for Christians to live in the victory over the Devil that was accomplished by the death of Mashiach. The victory is obtained by dying to the desires and needs of one’s self-hood and living in a cloak of love for Yahweh. Instead of being in love with ourselves, defeated by the world, we must be in love with our god and Savior who won our victory at the cross. Our home is in Heaven. We are simply on temporary duty assignment here, so we rejoice that Satan has been thrown out of our home. He has been thrown down to this earth where our duty is. “He is wild and raging with anger; he hasn’t much time and he knows it.” Therefore, don’t be discouraged by his antics and remember he works through other humans down here, busier in the Church than anywhere else, because the world is destroying itself by their own initiative and don’t need his help. His anger is directed toward Yahweh but he can’t get to him, so he goes after Yahweh’s family.

In verses 13-17 of our study today: First Satan went after Israel. We have to take another look at history to remember just what Satan instigated against Israel.

  1. When Yeshua was a baby, Herod wanted to eliminate any competition and ordered all the babies less than two years old killed[vii].
  2. The Jews had been given special concessions about their worship and legal action. They weren’t required to worship false gods and their courts had control of civil affairs. But when the religious zealots begin to agitate trouble – and I believe Satan was behind that – the Temple was destroyed completely and the Jews were banished from Rome; and Jerusalem became a dangerous place for Jews. The Jewish dispersement that started with Babylon[viii] became wide-spread. It saved the Jews from annihilation.   The temple[ix] was destroyed for the second time in A.D. 70, but this time it was just as Yeshua predicted[x]; not one stone was left on another. In an attempt to destroy the Jews, Titus destroyed both city and temple. His attempt made Jews stronger[xi].
  3. Then Germany tried to exterminate the Jews in the first half of the twentieth century, but Yahweh used the British Empire to give his chosen people a place of safety in Israel.
  4. Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948. Immediately, on May 14th 1948 forces from the seven Arab armies – Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen – attacked from the north, south, and east. It was a for-shadow of what it to come, but not the war of Ezekiel’s prophecy.
  5. Then, in 1967, the Six-day War where Russia, in the Islamic attempt to throw the Jews into the sea” supplied weapons but didn’t get personally involved, gave Israel back the biblical territory of Judah and Samaria (now called the west bank), the ancient Philistine territory of the Gaza strip, and the “mountains of Israel” to the north. Israel also re-united Jerusalem[xii] the soviets were poised to strike Israel, as had been their intention all along, when the U.S. Sixth fleet in the Mediterranean scared them off[xiii].
  6. The Yom Kippur War in October, 1973 was waged by a coalition led by Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. Saudis Arabia, Kuwait, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, and Pakistan assisted in varying degrees of financial aid, ground forces, combat pilots and military weapons. Even Cuba and Uganda sent forces. Israel won, but only because she had Yahweh’s protection. Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish year – the Day of Atonement. On that day, the combined forces stormed the Golan Heights and advanced toward the unprotected farmlands of Israel in galilee. It was clear to the general public that Russia was supplying weapons, ammunition, intelligence, and training. It looked like Israel was losing but the second week of the war put the victory in the hands of the Israeli and the enemy started pressuring the soviets to move in. Russia did send more help, but the U.S. sent arms and supplies to Israel. After some political posturing the Soviets prepared for a move against Israel, but when they were faced with the fact that if they did the U.S. would move full force against them to protect Israel, they backed off. The war set in motion a peace process – the Camp David Accords – that eliminated Egypt from being a direct combatant against Israel. Ezekiel’s prophecy doesn’t include Egypt as one of the combatants. Today the anti-Semitic and anti-Christian spirit of Nero, Adolph Hitler, and Joseph Stalin is being carried on by Iranian leaders.

Satan has sent a flood of peoples against Israel, but Yahweh protects her from being “thrown into the sea” time and time again. Thus Satan goes after the “other children of Israel” – Christians. In spite of the constant attempts to throw Jews into the sea, there is no safer place on earth – for both Jew and Christian – than Israel; and America, because we have been faithful to Israel more than we haven’t. The nations that are controlled or dominated by Islam hunt Christians down and murder the adults. They keep the children to use them as trained killers in their armies, or slaves. And even in countries where Islam isn’t yet in complete control, there is a large enough fundamental Muslim population so that both Jews and Christians are in constant jeopardy of losing their lives if them are foolish (or brave) enough to disagree vocally with Islam, or even inadvertently do something to offend.

Satan has put hatred for Christians in the hearts of non-Christians all over the world. Satan sends his message of hatred into every church to try to conquer by division. The good news is suffering won’t last forever[xiv].  We are equipped with spiritual tools to build our lives against all odds[xv]. Yahweh is strong and he wants us to be strong in the strength of his might, using the tools of prayer and faith[xvi].  We have the teachings in the Scripture to show us how to be victorious children of a victorious Savior[xvii]. When we suffer for doing well, we know that those who cause us pain will eventually realize that they are the ones who need a savior[xviii]. We have a future that is far greater than any bad we could ever have to go through while we are stationed on this earth[xix]. That’s the good news! Amen

Prayer: O Lord God, our Maker and Master, help us to remember our job is to love and we must never be part of the “Hate anyone who doesn’t agree with you” group. The only thing we can give those who hate us is love. The greatest weapon against opposition is love. We will leave your Holy Spirit’s job of convicting sin to you and we will obey your command to love our enemies. We are unequipped to do your job, but, although it is hard for us to love instead of trying to be the world’s conscience, we will obey you and love instead. When those we are called to love are unlovable we have your love that we can allow to flow through us.  We are equipped to love because of your great love for us and the rest of the world; so, no matter how much we would rather hate our enemies back, we will remember love is an action verb, not a feeling, and we will, by your grace and against all odds, love.

 

[i] Luke was a Gentile who researches and faithfully reported the life of Yeshua

[ii] Luke 10:18-20

[iii] Revelation 12:7-12

[iv] I Peter 3:20, 21

[v] Daniel 3:28; 6:22; acts 12:7; 27:23; Hebrews 1:14

[vi] The Redeemed – all Yahweh’s children

[vii] Matthew 2:13-23

[viii] It is interesting that Amorites, the ancestors of the incestuous relations between Lot and one of his daughters, were the ones who started the first Babylonian Empire

[ix] Herod’s monstrosity

[x] Matthew 24, 25

[xi] The fight for Jerusalem, page 97

[xii] Joel Rosenberg, page 133

[xiii] Genesis 12:2, 3; December 2000, author Genor, The Russians Were Coming, The soviet military Threat in the 1967 Six Day war” published in the Middle East Review of International affairs.

[xiv] I Peter 5:8-11

[xv] II Corinthians 10:3-6

[xvi] Ephesians 6:10-12

[xvii] II Timothy 2:1-7

[xviii] I Peter 3:13-18

[xix] Romans 8”15-21

.Banner of love, the fifth book in the Baker family saga

The fifth book in the Baker family saga, Banner of Love, tells how Alice’s little sister, Linda, gets involved in the American Civil War. Linda falls in love with a man on the “wrong side” and discovers all the issues she is dealing with grow dim beside real love and true freedom.

.Deep Trouble, the fourth book in the Baker family saga

Book four in the Baker family saga, Deep Trouble, focuses on Richard and Dianna’s cousin, Alice Mae as she and two other cousins are caught up in a whirlwind of deception and conspiracy, most of which is initiated by the Thomas family. As they make their way out of the web they are trapped in the Alice finds out what Paul meant by “…the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering…” Philippians 3:10 is the theme.Image
http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Trouble-Baker-Family-Saga-ebook/dp/B00A1VPJIQ/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392142503&sr=1-5&keywords=allison+kohn

Angels, Eagles, and Fire

The third book in the Baker family saga, Angels, Eagles, and Fire, centers around Dianna’s brother, Richard, as he struggles to triumph over the pain of false love and finds true love. The Thomas family becomes more prominent as some of the members become stronger foes and some become friends. The theme is Romans 8:28
http://www.amazon.com/Angels-Eagles-Fire-Baker-Family-ebook/dp/B008VIJNL0/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392059993&sr=1-4&keywords=allison+kohn

Angels, Eagles and Fire (The Baker Family Saga)
This is Richard’s love story. He has been away at college where he fell ‘in love’ with a beautiful red-head who used him and dumped him – a lesson not taught in his classes. On his way home from school he ran into thieves and lost his ride home – for a while. And, on his way home..

Synopsis of Day by Day

The second book in the Baker family saga, Day by Day, focuses on Evelyn’s niece, Dianna, who is introduced in the first book as a twelve year old girl who helps Evelyn with her chores after Lawrence leaves. The Thomas family’s antagonism, introduced in the first book, is a prominent factor in this book. Jonathan Baker dies and his widow Margaret’s future husband, introduced in the first book, becomes a noticeable character. Dianna and Alice’s future husbands are introduced. The theme is Ecclesiastics 3:11a.
http://www.amazon.com/Day-Backer-Family-Saga-ebook/dp/B008A8HVQU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391975594&sr=1-1&keywords=allison+kohn

Day By Day (The Backer Family Saga)
This is the second book in the Baker family Saga. It is the story of birth and death but more than all, it is a story of growing love that transcends all of the mystery and drama of a family with enemies that they are unaware of. And it is a love story of one of the family who is the..

Beginning Anew Book Blast

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Beginning Anew CoverNaomi and Chaz know that miracles really do happen for at a friend’s wedding they reaffirmed their love and are Beginning Anew!

Yet there are consequences that the couple must face. Will Chaz love and protect his wife? Will Naomi learn to trust Chaz?

Find out in the first novel of Paula Rose Michelson’s four-book saga e Naomi Chronicles.

Available at:

AMAZON | GOODREADS

***

(place your excerpt, question set, and/or review here)

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Casa Series 001-1

Paula Rose Michelson is not only an author but also a mother of two married daughters, and the grandmother of seven. She authored the Casa de Naomi Series. And today, February 1, 2014 The Naomi Chronicles, Book One, Beginning Anew will release on Amazon.

In 1988, she founded LAMB Ministries which teaches women recovering from trauma and abuse.

While awaiting the copyright for the first LAMB recovery book titled, “Why Did We Become Angry?” She wrote a series of politically incorrect articles that will be published under the title, “The Purple Pitch Seduction of America.” These will release in 2014.

Paula can be found online on:

Her site, blog, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads

***

For this release blast Paula has decided to do a giveaway.

The prizes are:

Prize pack Anew Blast

3 sets of the previous Casa de Naomi Books (digital format)

and

3 x Casa de Naomi: Book One (digital format)

(enter the Rafflecopter code here)

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“Each book is better than the one before – and I wouldn’t have thought it was possible. More than romance – real love. In one of the paragraphs we read, ‘Looking at her husband with unrestrained joy, Naomi nodded. “Please do not misunderstand me; I was content to go on as I had. Then you came along and turned my life from one of unknown waiting to an accompaniment, where each of us supports and enhances the other. Like a duet, where one takes the major keys and the other takes the minor keys.”’

As you read, be still and let your soul sway to the music of their song. Paula Rose is God’s gift to His family and this woman’s writing is her gift to us. A gift should never be rejected, especially when it is from God and our sister both.

About the Author:

Mountains or sea?

Funny, I live three miles from Laguna Beach and seldom go, but I love the mountains! I began writing the Naomi books while at our favorite B&B in Big Bear during our anniversary one year. I love to go horseback riding into the forest, and had a wonderfully romantic Christmas doing that with Ron one year.

Staying or moving?

Staying! Because my dad met with the scientists about what needed to be done next and headed up the engineering unit that built the Gemini fuel cell, which got us into space in a big way, we moved around a lot. Fourteen schools later, I graduated from High school. A few years later, I married Ron, and when left for our honeymoon, my dad went to England to build the system that checked the tensile strength of your rails so they could be fixed before an accident occurred.

Family trip or solo journey?

Love to do things with Ron. I try to have one trip where we dash from place to place soaking up all the history and try new things. Then the next time we go, I like a lazy by the pool sort of trip. However, since he’s also a writer, most often a break away leads us to jotting things down, and if we’re not careful we are sharing a story idea and each of urging the other to write before…

Organised or go with the flow?

Organized, which given Ron’s upbringing must have driven him mad until he couldn’t find his keys and I solved the problem once and for always!

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Naomi and Chaz know that miracles really do happen for at a friend’s wedding they reaffirmed their love and are Beginning Anew!

Yet there are consequences that the couple must face. Will Chaz love and protect his wife? Will Naomi learn to trust Chaz?

Find out in the first novel of Paula Rose Michelson’s four-book saga e Naomi Chronicles.

Available at:

CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/4238774 

Kindle: http://amzn.to/1fbWEj8 

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/401017

Smashwords: About the Author: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/PaulaWordsmith

 

Paula Rose Michelson is not only an author but also a mother of two married daughters, and the grandmother of seven. She authored the Casa de Naomi Series. And today, February 1, 2014 The Naomi Chronicles, Book One, Beginning Anew will release on Amazon.

In 1988, she founded LAMB Ministries which teaches women recovering from trauma and abuse.

While awaiting the copyright for the first LAMB recovery book titled, “Why Did We Become Angry?” She wrote a series of politically incorrect articles that will be published under the title, “The Purple Pitch Seduction of America.” These will release in 2014.

Paula can be found online on:

 

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Naomi heard the first bird-song of the day. “Chaz,” she murmured before she was fully awake. Opening her eyes, she realized she had dreamed of him and smiled. About to close her eyes and pick up where her fantasy ended, she recognized the Yellow Warbler’s song and was happy her French doors were open so she could hear it more clearly. Hoping to catch a glimpse of the bird, she jumped out of bed and hurried towards the patio. Here I am thinking about one bird when I should be getting…Her tirade might have continued had she not stopped short when she crossed the threshold, for an arbor that had not been there before was now the focal point of the upper patio. Her gaze swept the yard, and she noticed many changes. Standing on tiptoe, she looked at the lower patio where the old grandmother’s house was and discovered that nothing was as she had left it. The once dilapidated bungalow, where Lola had stayed until the semesters who needed help could take her off their hands, was now a two-floor structure. What an amazing turn of events, Naomi thought as she allowed this blessing to push her memory of the girl coming on to Chaz away as far as the east is from the west.

Entering the garden for a better look, she found herself under the arbor that was quickly becoming a sanctuary for birds. Startled by changes she had not ordered or paid for, she smiled. She knew Chaz would not have done this before his love had claimed her a second time. She paused to drink in the coolness of the dappled shade, and knew, this is why the breeze was so sweet. She turned away from the lovely seclusion of the arbor and saw a lilac bush where none had been before. Her smile broadened when she heard the cooing of a dove. As she hurried down the path eager to see the changes to the old house, she told herself, Chaz could not have done this or he would have told me, since we agreed to keep no secrets. I wonder who spent the time to plan and execute this, and where did the money come from? She reached the terraced steps flanked by plantings and took them two at a time, unable to breathe until she could see everything that had been done to the place she had always wished was her home. When she reached the new door to the old house, she mounted the wide firm stairs where the old rickety ones had been, and her smile became a grin.

Seeing a note with her name on it, she pulled it free from the tape and read,

Naomi,

Now that you and Chaz are married again, it is time for you to have a place of your own. You told me that you would like to live here. I asked Bobby to design and build this for the two of you. Living here will mean there will be no more problems like the one you had when Lola tried to come between you, Chaz, and all who of us who love you by revealing to everyone that you were a hidden Jewess when they had assumed you were like them. You need a place to be alone together where there are no prying eyes. Why not turn the large house over to your work and live here?

All Our Love,

Bobby and Justine

Humming a few bars of ‘Until the Twelfth of Never’, which was the song Chaz had gifted her to show her his love when they first married; she glanced at the upper patio where he had taught her to dance. What a happy memory. Feeling above the door jam, she found the new key in the same place she had kept the old one. She unlocked the door and looked in. Her eyes danced while her grin broadened, for the massive stone fireplace, which took up the entire wall facing the garden, was as inviting as before but the rest of structure had changed.

Upon entering, she discovered that where a small bedroom, a serviceable but uninviting bathroom, and a laundry area had been, there was now a large expansive room large enough to accommodate seating for twelve. A small well-appointed bathroom was on the left and an open kitchen in the back. The large Spanish tiles in colors reminiscent of the warm sun of her homeland that covered the fireplace were now on the floor as well. The walls painted in corresponding hues caused her to hug herself. The casa reminded Naomi of her heritage as a daughter of Spain, the land of the great Jewish Rabbi, physician, and scholar, Moses Maimonides, where the Golden Age of Judaism flourished before the crown issued The Decree of Alhambra, and the horror of the Inquisition became a fearful reality.

Taking the stairs to the second floor addition, Naomi found herself in a loft. It featured a large bedroom at one end and a bathroom at the other with a walk in closet. At the back of the closet, she found a washer and dryer, and around the corner, out of sight, a small office. Naomi ran her hands over the polished oak desk, picked up a note from Bobby, smiled at the couple’s thoughtfulness and read:

Naomi,

At Justine’s insistence, I added this office, so you would not need to go to your office in the big house when something needs your attention. Take my advice and do yourself and Chaz a favor, if you must use the desk, use it for folding laundry.

Bobby

            That note sounds just like Justine’s husband, Naomi thought as she hurried downstairs. Ready to leave, she turned around slowly, intent on viewing the large living room from every angle. For so many years, I envisioned being out here where I could have some time to myself. I never thought to ask anyone to make this dream a reality. Now that it has happened, I am very grateful.

Walking back to Vida’s house, she thought, the big house has always been Casa de Vida to me. In my heart, it has always belonged to my American Madre. But this, that Bobby built, this is mine! If I tell Chaz how I feel, I know he will agree to call it Casa de Naomi. I wonder if Chaz will understand me when I tell him that Casa de Naomi when translated from Spanish and Hebrew implies House of Blessing because casa means house and the name Naomi taken from the book of Ruth implies a blessing.        

With tears of joy running down her face, she retraced her steps, intent on explaining to her husband that finally she had a place for them, a place made from a wish unspoken but answered. The same wish that was reflected in her family’s real last name—Baruch—the Hebrew word for blessed. A word no Jew in Spain had uttered for centuries for fear that others would realize they were not Catholic.

Instead of ruminating on things that were not, Naomi chose to remember her papá naming her Naomi because at the end of the Book of Ruth, Naomi received a double portion of joy. She could almost hear him say as he had many times, “Remember, mi hija, my sweet daughter, today we hide in plain sight. However, a day will come, maybe even in your lifetime, when you can tell those who know you who you really are. I pray it will be so. 

“Padre,” Naomi said to her father, who was far away from her but with her in spirit, “today, what you prayed for is coming true!” for she wanted to share this part of herself with her husband.

Eyes aglow with the promise of things to come, Naomi glanced up and saw Chaz emerge from the shadow of the arbor. “Chaz,” she called while pointing to the lower level of the garden, “come see what has happened to the grandmother’s house.”

Smiling at his bride, Chaz asked, “Why did you go down there? There is nothing but bad memories in that place.”

“Not so.” Hurrying to him, she grabbed his hand and pulled him down the path as she tried to explain the transformation.

“All right.” Chaz entwined his fingers in hers, and together, as one, they reached the lower patio. “I did not give instructions for this work to be done. Naomi, who did this?”

“Bobby.” She handed him the note, but before he could glance at it, she pulled him inside. “It seems I told Justine that I wanted to live here because it reminded me of Spain. While we were gone, she asked Bobby to fix it up for us, so we could have a place where we could be alone.”

Chaz glanced at the note then back at his wife. He smiled in an attempt to hide his feelings as he pulled Naomi to him and held her tight. “I am glad you got your heart’s desire. I wish I had been the one to give it to you. But you never told me that you wanted to live out here.”

Tipping her head back to look at him with a mixture of longing and joy, she smiled. “Chaz, mon bien-aimé…my beloved, this was a fantasy of mine. I never thought that Justine would remember such things. What does it matter? You wanted a place you could call Casa de Naomi. I needed a place where I felt that title fit, and God has given us this. The other house—the one I shared with my American Madre—has always been Casa de Vida to me. Here…this feels like home. Please bring me the sign you had made for me and put hers above the front door.”

His feeling of frustration now replaced with joy, Chaz exclaimed, “I will!” He smiled to himself as he headed back to the main house, aware that God had answered one of his unspoken prayers, for he was certain it would never work out, them being married and living together in one house with the teenage girls his wife rescued from deportation.  

            Upon reaching the arbor, Chaz turned and smiled at his bride. As if meeting her request with action was itself an act of love, he exclaimed, “I will call Nicco’s uncle and have him bring some men to help me move the signs!” Aware that God had done what he could not, Chaz silently rejoiced thank you, HaShem, Messiah, for giving us a place where we can be together without the interruptions of our work. Teach me to be grateful for this unexpected place that I did not provide. A broad smile on his face, he looked back longingly at his wife. “However, this does not change our Sunday plans. We will still spend our first night together this Sunday as a married couple in the grand suite as you intended…sí. 

Sí. Yes!”

A few moments later, Chaz joined his bride under the arbor with two glasses of iced tea. “Uncle Luis is on his way over.”

Naomi took the glass he offered her. “Did you contact him about the misspelled sign? Is that why he is coming?”

“I forgot to mention that. I called Nicco’s Uncle Ricky. Since he is gone for the week, Tío Luis is staying at the house to take care of the pets and water the plants. When I told him we wanted to move the sign, he got excited and said he would be right over.”

“Oh, his house is only a few blocks away. We must hurry because he will be here shortly!” Naomi hurried to her bedroom. “We better get dressed.”

Chaz’s gaze followed his wife. He noticed the transformation her room had undergone and whistled his approval. The once stark white walls now had beautiful swirls of soft hues through which the artist had interwoven both sentences and drawings in a pleasing arrangement. “What is all of this about?”

Aware that had Bobby painted the lyrics to Lady of Spain on her wall because Chaz had asked him to; she hurried over and gave him a peck on the cheek. “Thank you for finding a wonderful way to let me know that you still loved and wanted me.”

“I know what I did. I mean what I asked Bobby to do. But, Naomi what else is written on your wall?”

“Not now, Chaz! We need to get ready! We do not want to receive Tío Luis in our night clothes.” Naomi hurried into her room.

“You are right, but later you will tell me what happened to your white-washed room.”

“Yes mi marido…my husband, of course.” She closed the drapes. Thinking of Chaz’s request, Naomi wondered, how can I tell you what these messages meant to me? I came back to the casa expecting to hear ridicule and hateful remarks about my faith and discovered this instead.

While hurrying to her wardrobe, she thought, only when I gave up my rights and did as God asked of me, only now am I able to own the life mi mamá tried to prepare me for…This is the life Madre Vida told me I would have once I bloomed! Was I preparing for the promise of this life while doing as my adopted mother taught? Is that why I am now able to own what might have passed me by? As if in answer to her unvoiced thoughts, her heart whispered, when you are ready, you will bloom…echoing her American Madre’s words to her the first day she came to live in her house.

Thinking that today was the perfect day to for her to wear her happy outfit’, she remembered calling the skirt and blouse ‘happy’ because it looked like something she would have worn in Spain, but with an American twist. A smile on her lips, she found it quickly, threw it on, and twirled while looking in the full-length mirror. Layers of multicolored fabric fanned out around her, offsetting the simplicity of her buttercup yellow peasant blouse and she smiled. Had she known the combination illuminated her olive complexion to perfection, Naomi might have worn something else, for her mamá had taught her to blend in. Before she could look at the choice with Chaz in mind, she glanced down, saw a white envelope, and picked it up. Knowing that it was from her husband, she quickly opened and read the missive, enjoying the tender emotions each word revealed, for her heart echoed them as well. Then, eyes moist with tender tears, she looked at the clock and quickly put the letter in its envelope. Years of loneliness seemed to flee as she placed it in the box in her wardrobe alongside her uncle’s prized missive, which she had taken from her parents’ home before she left them in the dark of night to begin the journey she was on.

“Naomi,” Chaz called as he entered the kitchen, “Estás listo?

            Uno momento! Pulling her hair into a ponytail at the nape of her neck, she slipped on her high-heeled huaraches and exited her bedroom humming a happy tune.

Upon entering the kitchen, she realized how different this morning was from their first morning, a morning of anger and confrontation. It is as it should be between a husband and wife! So happy was she that her eyes danced as she pulled out the cutting board.

“What are you doing?”

“Fixing breakfast for the three of us since it is very early, and Tío Luis has probably not eaten.”

“I have heard it said that most old people get up very early. Uncle Luis has probably eaten already.”

“Perhaps, but we cannot eat in front of him and, mi amado, I am hungry.

“How is it possible that you can call me beloved while I starve, yet insist I wait until Nicco’s tío abuelo is here to eat with us, and I still find myself smiling at you?”

Naomi blushed. “You said we are to begin on Madre Vida’s room. We need to eat, speak with Uncle Luis, and set the room up for Sunday evening. Today, we can shop for the things we want and then pack up Madre Vida’s things.”

Chaz kissed her. “Whatever makes you happy, my sweet.”

Naomi’s color heightened. “Chaz, behave!”

He laughed.

“Perhaps the things we buy can be used in the casita out back or in some of the other rooms in this house if the need arises.”

“Whatever we get for that room will remain there. We will get things with a Spanish feel for our little casita. As for this house, we will see to it once we know how the rooms will be used.”

“Oh Chaz, it is as if you are somehow able to read my mind.”

“Sometimes I am able to do that.” He smiled and bent down to kiss her lips. The doorbell rang. Chaz looked at Naomi longingly, and hurried away, as he said, “I will get it.”

“Good…only please remember where we left off.”

“As if I could ever forget.”

Naomi placed the sliced fruit, yogurt, nuts, and honey on a tray. She carried it to the table under the arbor. Returning to the kitchen, she filled a pitcher with iced tea and brought it out to the patio along with a glass for Uncle Luis. She smiled at Chaz and their guest as she rushed back into the kitchen, placed some bread in a basket, and brought it outside.  “We are having breakfast, Uncle Luis. You must join us.”

“All right,” the old man agreed, his voice soft with years yet mellifluous to the ear. “I don’t mind if I do. It gets lonely eating by myself.” Luis’s gaze lingered on the fountain for a moment then wandered to the flowerbeds and the casita below. He smiled. “Though some things are as I left them, much has changed since I was last here.”

“Uncle Luis, please sit here,” Naomi motioned to the chair that would give him the best view of the garden.

“Were you here many times?” Chaz asked as they sat down.

“More than a few…Yes many more than a few times, but that was a long time ago.”

“What was it that kept you coming back?”

“It was my concern for and admiration of Vieda.”

Naomi filled the old man’s glass. “I understand that. After all, she had a respected position in the community.”

“I am not talking about the woman she became. I am speaking of the girl, I mean teenager she was, who came to live here with Tía Esperanza…She continued to draw me here.”

“I would be interested—”

“This looks good!” Chaz took Naomi’s hands in his. Together, they bowed their heads and prayed.

“Now, Uncle Luis, Naomi and I plan to move to the casita,” Chaz said once they had finished their meal. “This house is to be for the girls my wife will continue to work with. Since she will not live here, Naomi wants us to put the Casa de Vida sign above the front door as sort of a tribute to her. However, she tells me that the name is misspelled. Would you make a new sign for us with the correct spelling?”

“Chaz, Naomi,” Uncle Luis said while patting his full belly, “if there is one thing I know, it is the correct spelling of Vieda’s name. I remember it as if it was yesterday…the moment she discovered she was not who she thought she was.”

Naomi furrowed her brow. “What do you mean…not who she thought she was?”

“That is a long, sad, hard story. Perhaps you should wait until the two of you are more settled before you delve into this thing.”

“No!” Naomi leaned towards the old man. “I need to know at least some of what you are talking about. I want her name on the house, but now I do not know what name to use!”

“Believe me,” Chaz said as he began to clear the table, “she will not rest until you tell her what you know.”

“Is that the way you are?” Uncle Luis asked as he looked at the girl Vieda had loved.

“I am afraid so.”

The old man smiled. “You are more like her than you realize.”

“Let me see.” The old man leaned back in his chair. He focused his mind on his memories of the teenager Vieda had been. “Ah…the only way I know how to tell it is to simply tell you the things as they happened. If my memory serves me…Esperanza had a dry goods store where the market now stands. My best recollection is that the year would be…nineteen seventeen. Yes, that seems right. The community built the store for her several years before Vieda and her papá came here. Esperanza was our first Tía, and she needed to have an income to help her with the work she did at immigration because once a girl came to live here, there were additional expenses.” The old man looked at Naomi. “Forgive me for telling you what is of no importance to you.”

“What goes on at immigration and here is very important to me.”

“Yes.” Uncle Luis looked at her and smiled knowingly as if reliving a fond memory. “I remember the first time I saw her. She was maybe thirteen or fourteen years old. She and her papá had come from England to this country. I am not sure how they got through immigration, but the old man wanted to set up his bakery here in Spanish Harlem. While looking for a place, he saw Esperanza’s dry goods store. He noticed that everyone stopped in, even if they were not going to buy anything. We all did that because we knew she would never tell us if she needed anything, so we had to check on her. Well…seeing there was room and that many people went in and out, he asked if he could rent the back from her. Tía Esperanza was surprised that a European Jew who did not speak Spanish wanted to put his business in our community. When she asked, he explained, ‘We have relatives in Spain. None of them speaks English. I want my daughter to learn to speak Spanish in case any of them visit us. Putting my bakery in your store will allow her to hear the language spoken. I understand this is the best way to learn a new language.’ Esperanza let him rent the back of her store. Vieda’s papá was a wonderful baker. Everyone wanted to buy his cookies, cakes, and breads. The bakery got so busy; he could not manage by himself. So when Vieda was not at school, she worked behind the counter. Since her looks were strikingly Spanish, all who saw her spoke to her in Spanish, and she answered them as if our language were her own. When asked if she was from Spain, she would say she was from England, and that is how the trouble began.”

“Trouble…what trouble?”

“Vieda’s trouble was her inability to reconcile who she was with who she had been,” the old man said as he stood to leave. “That is all I can tell you today. My mind grows weary of remembering and needs to rest.”

“But…what about the sign?”

“I will ask Vieda about that and make another one for you if she directs.” The old man waved goodbye and headed to the side yard.

“Tío Luis, what do you mean?”

“You will see,” Uncle Luis called back. Opening the gate, he let himself out. They heard the gate shut and him singing, “Only make believe la la la …” as he walked away.

“What do you make of that?” Chaz asked.

“I have no idea. The song, asking Vida…I hoped he could tell me some things about Madre Vida. Though it was easy to understand what he said, his words sounded like gibberish.”

“I suppose. Yet if his faculties are befuddled, how can we account for the lovely, detailed workmanship on the signs he made for our casa and the fact that he remembers this house, knows how to get here, and where the side gate is?”

“Maybe some memories last longer than others.”

“That must be the case with the old man. His carving is the best I have ever seen. Perhaps the mind forgets but the hands remember.”

“Perhaps,” Naomi agreed, withholding her thoughts until she could speak with the old man again.

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Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/401017

Smashwords: About the Author: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/PaulaWordsmith

New book by Paula Rose Michelson coming out in February

A Quote from Paula rose Michelson’s last book, coming out early in 2014 – The Naomi Chronicles

“…Chaz realized it to be man’s wisdom. God showed him that love does not grow by doing things by rote but by begin personally aware of and involved in the beloveds’ life as of the utmost important. He seemed to hear the Spirit say, from this moment for the order of your life is, God first, Naomi second…and you last. Aware that he had learned all he would ever need to know, Chaz knew he had experienced Gods chessed and would be able to pour this blessing into Naomi throughout their life.”

“Chessed is a word to remember, especially for married couples. When couples extend loving kindness and grace to each other, it makes the unity of two different personalities not only bearable, but a blessing.
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