Tag Archives: Old Testament

Hagar in the Desert of Beersheba

Hagar in the Desert of Beersheba

Sarah was very old, almost as old
as her husband, Abraham.
Her hands looked thin and cold,
hard as the horns of a ram.
Then she filled her tent with laughter
when she gave birth to Isaac,
the Lord’s promise had been kept.
She said her faith had never died,
but for long now it had slept.
Yes, Isaac filled her life with laughter,
but she knew bitterness, grew cold,
when she looked on Hagar, her maid servant,
saw her as a viper, a hyena,
a danger to the fold.
As was the custom of her tribe,
when she thought she could not bear his child,
she had brought her maid servant to her husband’s tent
to be his second wife,
a plan that seemed practical not wild.
Hagar gave birth to Ishmael,
the son of Abraham,
so his seed could flourish,
not be held back by a dam.
Now that Sarah was the mother of Isaac,
she grew vile to Hagar,
told her husband he must send her to the desert,
her son must go with her,
so in what Isaac inherits,
he would have no share.
Abraham was hurt by her command,
though he understood, knew why
Sarah wanted Hagar and Ishmael
sent out into the desert,
where he knew they would die.
But the Lord made him a promise,
Ishmael would be the father of a nation,
would carry on his seed,
though his heart was wounded,
he would not be left to bleed.
Abraham gave Hagar bread and a skin of water,
tied them in a sack,
to sustain her on her journey,
and strapped it to her back.
Hagar took the hand of Ishmael,
walked out with him to the desert of Beersheba,
where she thought they would die.
She thought her eyes deceived her,
when she ran out of water,
and she saw a figure
that was at first a shimmer in the sky.
Then she saw it was an angel,
he revealed a well of water,
not far from where Ishmael lay,
his eyes blind with dust and tears,
less than an arrow shot away.
Hagar rose to her feet,
led Ishmael to the well.
They drank and quenched their thirst,
knew the future would be harsh,
but they had lived beyond the worst.
Ishmael became an archer,
leader of a tribe of nomads
in the desert of Paran.
Hagar found for him a wife,
an Egyptian woman,
who gave birth to his children,
the seed of Abraham,
so he lived to be a happy man,
though the world grew more grim,
hard as the horns of a ram.
When you feel at your lowest ebb,
remember Hagar in the desert,
when she thought she would die,
how the turn came when she saw a figure
that was at first a shimmer in the sky.
Never abandon hope,
for a well of water may be revealed to your eye.

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Noah and the Ark

Noah and the Ark

“And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.
And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.”
Genesis. 8. verses 4-5. King James Version of the Holy Bible.

Noah became a master carpenter
when he built the ark.
His sons beside him, he lit garnet stones for lamps,
red as pomegranate seeds,
so they could work on through the dark.
His tale is told, so old but still fresh to the young.
Children crayon it on paper,
those things they best remember,
Noah, the ark, the animals in pairs, guided up the ramps,
the rain, the flood, the raven, the dove, the olive leaf,
the mountain, the rainbow.
When they draw the event, the past is present,
time suspended, does not speed up or go slow.
You cannot own a mountain,
but you can bless it with a name.
Ararat remains.
On it they have dug for signs of the ark.
From the shelter of Yerevan,
the city built on the floor of its vale,
I have looked up to see its peak above its shoulders.
Impressive still.
Even without the tale, it looks a holy hill.
We wait for the return of the dove,
the leaf it plucked from the olive tree in its beak,
the sign of the end of the flood,
so we can walk down the slopes of Ararat,
to enter the vineyard Noah planted,
like him in wonder speak.

Lamp of the Ark

                                           Lamp of the Ark

Seems I must learn to work with wood,
thought Noah, to build the ark,
to float on the flood.
Days grew dim, nights more dark,
he fashioned a lamp,
to shine in the ark,
red jewel, bright garnet,
pomegranate seed that glowed.
In an iron bracket, he hung it,
high in the hold,
beamed from a roof rafter,
made timber gold.
Cherry light it shed,
line and corner showed,
bird and beast, no longer blind,
could find feed.
Though outside, it was rain pelt,
wave lash, utter dark,
inside the ark, the lamp he made,
lit the way through the flood,
ruby torch, sapphire beacon,
until moored on Ararat,
he opened a window,
to witness, after the flood,
the rainbow.
Told his sons, Ham and Shem,
when you are troubled,
whatever winds may blow,
and all around is dark,
remember the flood,
and the lamp of the ark.

The Witch of Endor

                                           The Witch of Endor

“I think I will disappear,” she said,
and vanished from her seat.
She was not visible anywhere,
her absence was complete.
Those she had astonished in the inn,
heard a crow caw on the roof.
They called her the witch of Endor,
and now they had the proof.

Her robe one moment fiery scarlet,
the next dark smoky black,
spells she chanted in her mountain cave,
so none could find her track.
She was banished from her ancient tribe,
for practising her arts,
but only the witch of Endor
could heal their broken hearts.

King Saul, disguised, begged her to summon
dead Samuel from sleep.
Abandoned by God, he came to her,
up stony pathways steep.
Afraid, she obeyed, the spirit spoke
of Saul’s death and defeat.
He died, self slain, on the battlefield,
his foes he could not beat.

She found comfort in the thunder cloud,
saw pale visions in the rain.
Soldiers she feared, the sword, the spear,
felt keen a sparrow’s pain.
Cold was winter, the white cloaked hunter.
She chanted in the dark,
proud to be the witch of Endor,
for she had made her mark.

The Queen of Sheba

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        The Queen of Sheba

I hear the Queen of Sheba came to King Solomon’s court.
All in praise of his wisdom, she showed him the gifts she had brought.
Questions answered, she was well pleased by what she had been taught,
then returned to her own land, after finding more than she sought.

She gave him precious stones, rare spices, almug trees and gold.
Her navy brought these gifts from Ophir, so speaks the tale of old,
so pleased was she by the wisdom of Solomon told,
all the treasures and wonders his house and his kingdom did hold.

O, wanderer that I am, I hear such tales,
even in places seldom reached.
The Queen of the South came from
the uttermost part of the Earth,
to hear the wisdom of Solomon,
as Jesus preached,
as part of a lesson he teached.

In her name that is fair, there is poetry there.
She alone is the woman,
to know the mystery of her,
the Queen of Sheba.

Was this meeting between two rulers within palace walls
not like a close encounter in the far star kingdom halls,
a mystic meeting that not by chance, but on purpose falls,
between two different peoples, who answered eachother’s calls?

And so all praise to your pyramids, your spaceship designs,
your angel temples, your jewels, your tall stone god men in lines,
for I have found here in your land, old high wisdom shines.
Prepared for me on a table, a fair feast of fruits and wines.

My gifts I lay before your golden throne,
my gifts I brought for you alone.
Your wisdom and civilization leaves me in awe,
I lay my treasures at your door,
for what to me you have taught,
like when the Queen of Sheba came to King Solomon’s court.

The first Sumerian kings welcomed the gods, long ago,
on the tops of their temples, and to them the priests bowed down low.
From their remote planet homes, they stepped from their starships slow,
and like the Queen of Sheba, they travelled for wisdom to know.

In her name that is fair, there is poetry there.
She alone is the woman,
to know the mystery of her,
the Queen of Sheba.

Goshen

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              Goshen

Jacob named his destination Goshen,
land of light, free of plague, war and sin,
there shepherds grazed their flocks in peace.
Halt, said Nahor, an old man, met at a well,
such a land is only found within.
Tapped his chest, stiffly,
his hand bony, fingers thin,
robe grubby, smelt of camel,
desert wood fire smoke,
sand and dust encrusted skin.
Jacob was impressed, but not convinced.
In the city, what is wrong?
Nahor questioned him.
Within high stone walls, a man is safe,
at least from the invader’s sword, isolation.
Women you want may be beyond your reach,
but still there, at their windows,
glittering with jewels,
in the market place, passing by.
I speak as one who has travelled many lands,
stood on shores, looked on seas
where dolphins swim.
Jacob said no more, led his tribe away.
Nahor wondered later,
if he should have taken up his staff,
and followed him.