Posted by: bellissimanh | February 19, 2008

A Wise Ruling

I wrote a series of biblical narratives for a writing course I took a few years ago. This is one of those offerings.  Forgive the formatting. I’ve played with it forever it seems, and it just doesn’t want to work no matter what I do. I give up. 🙂

 

 

A Wise Ruling

Kezia squinted against the brilliant sunlight pouring through the window.  She closed her eyes and arched her back in a stretch to work the kinks out of her overworked body.  All was quiet in the brothel, but that was typical for this early hour.  A long night of drinking and carousing meant lazy mornings for the inhabitants of Achmed’s.

        

She smiled as she reached for her newborn son.  He was evidence of her illicit lifestyle, and at first the thought of pregnancy had brought shame and despair, but oh how she loved him now!  Kezia didn’t have much in her life that she could call her own, but this baby—in spite of why he had come into being—he belonged to her, and she loved him with a depth and a passion that she had never known before. 

        

She gazed at the sleeping infant, so peaceful … so still.  Jacob’s tiny head lay on the pillow, eyes closed in deep slumber.  She silently wished that his life could be like that forever, free of the harshness of the world.  She knew that wasn’t his future, though. With a heavy sigh, she picked him up and brought him to her breast.  At least they could have this moment alone together, mother and child; for this instant, she could protect and nurture him. 

        

Wrinkles creased Kezia’s brow as she touched her son … he was so cold. She leaned over into the light and stared at the baby.  Confusion and shock melted into one, and Kezia’s face went as pale as the child’s.  This wasn’t her son! Not only that, but this child was dead!  She hurriedly put the child in a crude basket which served as a bassinette and left it there.

 

 

Fear wrapped itself around her mind like a serpent as she raced through the brothel.  Her eyes were wide with horror and her breathing ragged as she searched for her baby.  “Jacob!  JACOB!  Where is my son!  My son!”  Her screams pierced the stillness of the brothel, tearing the air, ripping through the veil of sleep.

 

 

As Kezia raced forward, she stumbled upon the curled up form of her friend Michal.  Sobbing with such abandon that she could hardly get coherent sentences out, she clutched Michal’s robe and leaned against her.  “Michal! Have to help … find … I went to nurse … so quiet … so still … dead … not my son … ooooooooooh ….” 

“Kezia, relax. We’ll find him, I promise. Now start at the beginning.” Michal’s voice was soothing as she coaxed the story out of her friend.  She stroked Kezia’s hair and calmed the girl until her panting turned to breathing once more. 

Methodically, Michal enlisted the help of several girls who had come to sit on the fringes and watch the spectacle, muttering in hushed tones to each other about the morning’s chaotic beginning.  Michal sent a girl to each room in the house, with instructions to search for Jacob, and return to her immediately if they found anything at all.

As Kezia sipped the tea Michal had made for her, her hands trembled, spilling some of the hot drink on her lap.  Consumed by grief, she didn’t even notice.  She wiped a tear from her cheek, and stared at the black makeup it left on her hand.  The streaked paint on her face so closely resembled ash that she looked like a mourner.

 

Just then, one of the harlots came back and whispered something to Michal, who nodded her thanks and sent the girl out of the room.

 

 

 “What? What is it? Have they found him? Please tell me they found him!” Kezia grabbed Michal’s hand and squeezed so tightly the emerald setting of the silver ring on Michal’s finger cut into her own.

 

 

 

“Now listen to me, Kezia.  Jacob has been found, but you must be patient and do as I say. Can you do that?”

 

 

“Yes, I’m listening … please just tell me!”

 

 

 

“They found Jacob in Iscah’s room.  She has him with her and she claims he is her Micah—“

 

 

 

“But it’s Jacob? You’re sure of it?”

 

 

 

“Sssh … listen to me. It’s Jacob.  There’s no mistaking that sweetheart’s beautiful face. It looks as though Iscah rolled over on Micah during the night and smothered him.  She woke up to find him dead and she panicked.  Maybe she was afraid that she would be held responsible for his death, who knows? It doesn’t matter now.  What matters is that she has taken your Jacob, and switched him with Micah.  She swears that he is her baby and that yours is dead.”

 

 

 

“But that’s not true! I would know my own son, wouldn’t I?  She’s lying!”

 

 

 

“I know she is, Kezia, but she’s holding to her story.  Think of it, it’s the word of one prostitute against the word of another.  There is only one thing to do.”

 

 

 

“But what? What will I do? Michal, he’s all I have in this world, my Jacob.” The tears once more began to flow down Kezia’s face. Her nose was running, and her salty tears formed a trickle that slipped into the corner of her mouth.

 

 

 

“You will go to King Solomon and let him resolve this.  He’s the wisest man in all of Israel, and he will know what to do.”

 

 

 

Kezia was less than satisfied with this idea, but she trusted Michal.  This was her best friend, the woman who had taken care of her when she was first brought to Achmed’s and taught her how to survive there.  Michal would help her through this too.

 

 

 

“Now go get dressed and wash your face, Kezia.  You certainly can’t go before the King looking like that.”  Michal  gave Kezia some of her own clothes to wear and shooed her off to get cleaned up, before she sent word to Iscah that she was to appear before the King. 

“Michal! What’s this nasty rumor I’m hearing about my girls entering the Palace?  You whores are always causing trouble for me, and I’ll not have it this time, I tell you! I’ll not have it!”  Achmed’s face grew redder with each passing second, and Michal could see the anger burning inside her keeper.

 

 

 

“But, Achmed … this is a serious matter.  Kezia’s son has been stolen by Iscah.  I heard her bragging about it to her friends.  I have to go and testify for Kezia before King Solomon!”  Michal knew that without her testimony, Kezia’s claim would hold little weight.

 

 

 

“Let the two tramps settle this themselves.  If they must go before the King, I guess there’s nothing to be done about that, but I’ll not have the lot of you parading through his court.  Only Kezia and Iscah will go – the rest of you will stay here.  I certainly don’t need you drawing more attention to our little establishment than is necessary.  Already this is turning into a fiasco!” He stomped off and left Michal to figure out a way to break the news to Kezia that she was on her own.

 

 

 

Michal walked with Kezia to the Palace gate and then, taking the younger girl’s hand in her own, she landed a soft kiss on Kezia’s cheek.  “God be with you, my girl.”

 

 

 

“Aren’t you c-c-c-coming in with m-m-me?” Kezia stuttered as she thought of facing the king alone.

 

 

 

“No. This is something you have to do by yourself, Kezia. Trust the King to know what to do. Justice will be served.”  With that, Michal turned and walked slowly out of the courtyard.

 

 

 

In an effort to calm her frayed nerves, Kezia filled her lungs with air and let it out slowly, the gentle breath setting a wisp of her long hair afloat.  She made her way into the palace, ignoring the stares of the men lingering on the steps.  She was used to their scorn and ridicule.  It didn’t bother her much.  She knew many of them from their visits to Achmed’s.  They were no better than she except in their own eyes.

 

 

 

As was the custom of the day, Kezia informed the sentry at the gate what her complaint was and asked to bring her case before the King. The sentry wasted no time in sending for Iscah and the baby.  A guard escorted Kezia into the magnificent hall. She caught her breath as the ornate doors swung outward.  They were embedded with rubies and sapphires, and each door had gold embellishments.  After passing through the doors, Kezia marveled at the gold – it seemed to be everywhere she looked.  The floors were made of gold, and polished to a shine; there were columns framing each doorway made of gold.  Glancing to her left, Kezia spied The Molten Sea.  Her eyes grew wide with amazement as she studied the great copper basin.  Why, it must hold at least 10,000 gallons of water!  She felt out of place here, yet she knew there was nothing else to be done. 

She sat on a bench made of cedar quietly, respectfully, as she watched another soldier bringing Iscah into the room.  She had been clutching Jacob so tightly her nails left moon shaped marks on his skin.  Iscah’s voice was loud with protest, and it was all too obvious that she was not a willing participant in this proceeding.  Kezia held her breath as she glanced at King Solomon’s throne.  It was huge, a combination of ivory and gold.  The carving was so intricate that she found herself wondering how many hours it had taken the craftsman to complete.  Still in awe, she waited for King Solomon to be seated on the bench.  Here was a man whose very countenance spoke majesty.  Everything about him was royal and seemed to proclaim his lordship.  His robes were made of the finest fabric, and trailed along behind him.  His crown was of pure gold, and the diamonds and rubies encrusted in it caught the light and shimmered.  Seconds seemed like hours as Kezia looked with longing toward her son, now being taken from Iscah’s arms and handed over to one of the court’s officers.

 

 

 

A bugle sounded and a voice was heard from the back of the room:  “Oye, Oye!  Now before the court is the case of Kezia Sharpey and Iscah Jesuah.  Long live King Solomon!” 

In a voice that commanded respect, yet was not devoid of compassion, the King addressed the two women.  “You wish to bring your dispute before the court?” 

Kezia was still trembling, but as she looked into the King’s eyes, she saw kindness there, and it helped to take away some of her nervousness.

 

 

 

“My lord, this woman and I live in the same house.  I had a baby while she was there with me.  Three days after my child was born, this woman also had a baby.  Last night, all of the other girls had gone out to a festival with some of the men from town. We were alone in the house together, this woman and I.”  Kezia shifted her weight from one foot to the other as she chose her words carefully.

 

 

 

“During the night, this woman’s son died because she lay on him and smothered him.  So she got up in the middle of the night, and took my son from my side while I, your servant, was asleep.  She put my son by her breast and put her dead son by my breast.  I got up this morning, and was going to nurse my son—and he was dead!  But then I looked at him closely in the light and I knew right away that this wasn’t my son at all.”

 

 

 

Iscah snarled at Kezia. “No! The dead one is yours; the living child belongs to me!”

 

 

 

“Iscah, you know that’s a lie!  You took my Jacob and now you claim he’s yours … but I know my own son!”

 

 

 

The two continued to argue before the King, their voices growing louder and their gestures more animated with each comment.  With difficulty, Kezia maintained her composure, while Iscah grew more and more agitated.

 

 

 

 

At last the King spoke.  “Bring me a sword.”  Silence fell upon the courtroom, heavy and deafening.  Immediately a sword was brought and presented to the King, which he gave to the officer of the court.  Under ordinary circumstances, Kezia would have thought the sword beautiful.  It had rubies and sapphires embedded into the handle; its blade was polished to a shine, gleaming and reflecting the light as the sea reflects the sun.

 

 

 

Then the King gave his order:  “Cut the living child in two.  Give half to one woman and half to the other.”  At these words came a heart-rending cry that drew the attention of everyone in the room. The sorrow and anguish that filled Kezia’s voice was almost tangible, and she threw herself at the King’s feet.  “Noooooo … please, my lord … please … give her the living baby. Don’t kill him—I beg you!”

 

 

 

Iscah looked at the broken woman with contempt and spat at her.  “Get up, you fool! Listen to the King. Neither you nor I will have the child. Cut him in two!”

 

 

 

Commanding the officer to put up his sword, King Solomon stood and pointed toward Kezia.  “Give the living baby to this woman.  Don’t kill him; she is his mother.”

 

 

 

Still crumpled in a heap on the floor, Kezia shook with sobs.  She looked up at the King through the hair hanging in her face and mouthed a silent, “Thank you, my lord.”  She knew that she would be forever indebted to this man, and his wisdom.  She wept as Jacob was given to her.  She cradled him to her chest and rocked back and forth, whispering a lullaby with love ever so softly to this son she had not wanted, but had come to need.

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Responses

  1. I’ve known this story from a very young age, but I’ve never envisioned it quite like that. You have an amazing gift for writing! I would love to see more…

    Xandra

  2. I would also love to see more of your writing. This was so beautiful and heartfelt with emotions. I loved it.

  3. I almost cried (but my hubby is in the room and I just know he would make fun of me;). That was so beautifully interpreted! I am glad I took the time to read it through. Just amazing the wisdom God can give to the children of men.

  4. GREAT writing… and what layers of human caly you put over the story we ahve come to know on paper.
    I have missed blogging friends… share more…I’m looking forward to it!

  5. That was wonderful, Heather. I really enjoyed it. I had to save it for a moment when I had time to read it in its entirety, so glad I did!

  6. BTW…I have something for you on my blog!

    Xandra

  7. Brought to life so beautifully. Well done. I truly enjoyed reading that tonight!


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