My Name is Hadesh Part 8 (The End) by P.M. Gilmer

If you missed part 7, here is the link: https://pmgilmer.com/2017/11/25/my-name-is-hadesh-part-7-by-p-m-gilmer/

From part 7: I jumped up before he could change his mind or realize he had the wrong person. I started to follow him, then realized Jemima hadn’t moved.

“Come on,” I hissed.

I thought she would turn and run, but, fortunately, Huppim was behind her, and he happily began to escort her into the king’s throne room.

Many times through the years when I have been telling this story, someone wants to know what I thought of the throne room and King Solomon’s throne. I remind them my visit took place early in King Solomon’s reign before he built his new palace, so the palace we saw was that of King David. However, a palace is a palace to me. The throne room alone was far larger than any house or shop I had ever been in. I tried not to gawk at my surroundings, and I’m sure if I hadn’t been so upset, scared, and extremely nervous, I would have just stood there and stared at everything. Not just the walls or the throne, but the king himself. I know he’s just a man, but seated there on that throne, I felt as though I had entered into the presence of God. Not trying to be blasphemous, and I hope I’m not, but that’s just how I felt. My knees grew weak as I could only stare at the king for several moments. Fortunately, Muppim kept a steady hand on my arm and moved me forward.

I fell on my face before the king. Jemima, still holding my baby, (though Huppim offered to take him), fell awkwardly to her knees. I suppose neither of us gave a very graceful performance as I heard several snickers among the king’s attendants.

Knowing I’d better speak up before Jemima did, I lifted my head and said, “O King, live forever! Thank you for hearing us, my lord king. I know you’re a a busy man, but our case is too important to leave to your officials. Begging your pardon, my lords,” I added hastily, looking at the group of men standing around the king. I had no idea who any of them were or if they would ever be involved in judgments, but I could not afford to offend anyone. The men only looked back at me without speaking. They mostly looked bored, though one seemed amused by my apology. Looking at him again, I realized he must have been one of the king’s brothers for they looked much alike. Before I could gawk any longer, Muppim cleared his throat behind me.

“Oh, yes–anyway, King Solomon, we have heard of your great wisdom and,” I was about to attempt some flowery compliments about the king and his kindness, judgment, etc., but I could sense he was growing impatient. “And we have come to ask you to judge between us. I am Hadesh, and this,” I waved my hand towards Jemima, “is Jemima, my, um, friend. Well, not really a friend, we work together, we . . .” Seeing the king’s eyebrows go up, I decided not to further explain. I’m sure he had already figured out what we did. “Anyway, we live in the same house, and I had a baby boy a few weeks ago, and Jemima had one three days later. Well, last night we were the only ones at our house, and Jemima’s baby died. I believe she rolled over him–accidentally, of course, though we tried to tell her it wasn’t good for her to keep the babe in the bed with her, but she did it all the time.”

Jemima was bouncing my baby up and down, cooing baby talk to him, but she suddenly stopped and pushed me aside. “No, my lord king! That is not the way of it!”

King Solomon waved a hand at Jemima. “Let her finish. You will have your turn next.”

I know Jemima wanted to argue, but Huppim held tightly to her arm, and she wisely stepped back.

I tried not to look smug, but being humble is not one of my better traits. “As I was saying, my lord king, her baby died–it must have been around midnight as I remember putting my babe to sleep just before then–and she put her baby” (I placed my hand on the sling holding Jemima’s babe) “in my bed with me, then took my own son from the basket where he sleeps. When I woke this morning, I was surprised to find my baby with me as I always put him in his basket after I nurse him, but I thought I had just fallen asleep. So, I tried to nurse him, but . . .” A sob rose in my throat and though some may think I was acting for the king’s benefit, they would be quite wrong. As I remembered trying to nurse that poor dead babe, even now knowing he wasn’t mine, great grief rose up in me.

“She is crazy!” Jemima couldn’t stay silent any longer. “She knows this is my babe, but she has gone mad with grief over the loss of her own. I am sorry for her loss, but I will not give up my baby to her!”

I clenched my fists and only kept myself from attacking Jemima because of my baby she was holding, who now began to cry. As he cried, so did I. “Don’t you think I would know my baby’s cry? My baby’s face? As soon as the sun gave me light, I could see the babe I held was not mine. You are the one who is crazy–swapping babies like they are melons at the market. I am sorry you rolled your fat self on your baby and killed him, but I will not let you take mine from me!”

Jemima stepped back from me as Seled began to wail louder. “No!” she screeched over the howls of my son. “This baby is mine! Your baby died!”

By now, every person in King Solomon’s court stood watching us with rapt attention. A part of me realized this exhibition Jemima and I were putting on would probably not help my cause, but I could not seem to help myself. I would not leave here without the king’s judgment, and if he ruled in favor of Jemima, it mattered not to me if he had me taken away and thrown out of the city as a mad woman.

Breathing heavily, Jemima stared at me, then turned to the king. “Please, my lord king. You can see how this woman has lost her mind. Just let me leave now with my baby, and I promise I will trouble you no longer.” She tried to shush Seled who was surely hungry and scared. Huppim reached over to pat my baby, crooning softly to him.

I fell back to my knees. “Please, my lord king. You must believe me. I would not try to take a baby that was not mine, but I cannot live knowing he has been stolen from me.”

Before Jemima could further dispute my claim, the king stood up. I could hardly breathe, looking up at him and wondering what he would say. Without looking at either of us, he raised a hand and called to one of his guards standing by the door. “Japhlet! Bring me a sword!”

The guard came forward, holding a sword in his hand. I stood to my feet and glanced at Jemima who looked as bewildered and scared as I felt. Would he just kill us both for causing such a ruckus in his throne room?

The king did not take the sword, but looked around the room at all who waited to hear his judgment. No one made a sound and all eyes were on him.

“You have heard the testimonies of these two women and the spirit in which they were given. Both claim the living child is theirs and the dead child the other’s. Since they cannot come to an agreement on their own, but have brought this problem to the throne, I must step in and resolve it. Japhlet, take the living baby and cut him in half. Give each woman half of the baby.”

Japhlet moved to take the baby from Jemima, and I fell to my knees again, this time in horror.

“No, my lord!” I wailed, my terror rising now as Jemima handed over my baby with what seemed like glee. “Please! I beg you! Give her the living baby, but don’t kill him!”

Japhlet took my baby, cradling him against his chest. Jemima smirked at me. “Now, he shall be neither mine nor yours! Divide him then!”

Japhlet laid the baby at the king’s feet and raised his sword. Gasps echoed around the room, and I could no longer breathe. The king held up his arm.

“Stop!” He looked around at all of us. “You have seen the reactions of these two women. The first, Hadesh, cares and fears for the child while the other, Jemima, only cares to have a ruling in her favor. Do not hurt the child, but give her to Hadesh because she is obviously the true mother.”

I thought I would faint with relief as the crowd laughed and cheered. Japhlet picked my baby back up and brought him over to me. Still crying, but now with joy and relief, I took my baby and covered him with kisses. I looked back up at the king. “Thank you, my lord. Oh, thank you! Truly what is said is true–God has gifted you with great wisdom. May your reign be long and prosperous.”

Soli Deo Gloria

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My Name is Hadesh Part 7 by P. M. Gilmer

If you missed Part 6, here is the link: https://pmgilmer.com/2017/11/21/my-name-is-hadesh-part-6-by-p-m-gilmer/

From Part 6I let him lead me away from Jemima, while Muppim kept watch over her and the baby. I took a deep breath, knowing it would not help my cause to be fighting like an alley cat when the king saw us. I would need to keep my emotions under control.

We waited for almost two hours. A man would open the doors every fifteen to twenty minutes and usher someone in to see the king. I was not sure how he decided who would go in. There seemed to be no clear system to his choosing, so I decided we needed to make ourselves heard and known the next time he came out. I waited a bit too late.

When next he came out, he said in a loud voice, “The king has other commitments he must attend to now. You may seek out another judge to hear your complaints if you do not want to wait for the next king’s day.”

The disappointed people turned and began to leave, but I was not ready to give up. I had too much to lose.

“Wait!” I cried out. “We have come a long way to see the king and have been waiting all morning with a baby. Can he not hear one more case?”

The official frowned, but before he could speak, Jemima walked over to me and swatted me on the arm. “Don’t be so disrespectful. I have tried to tell you the king wouldn’t have time for the likes of us, and now we have wasted a whole day waiting here. Adar here is getting tired and restless. Think of him if you can.”

I can tell you I do not like to be touched anyway, so when Jemima slapped my arm like that, I was more than ready for a fight. Of course, I had been ready for one for some hours and only my babe in her arms had kept me from it.

I grabbed at her hair and pulled her towards me. “I am thinking of nothing but him! My Seled–whom you have stolen from me! Do not think you are going to get away with this. Maybe the king won’t hear us, but I will make sure that all of Jerusalem does!”

She screeched and tried to claw at my eyes with her one free hand. Muppim quickly came between us, grabbing hold of Jemima while Huppim grabbed me from behind. The people who had started to leave, now stopped to watch. Several of them seemed to choose sides and began to cheer us on. The king’s official watched us all in alarm for a few moments, then went back inside to the king.

“Now, ladies,” said Muppim, “you know this isn’t going to solve anything. I’m sorry the king won’t see you. I thought he could help you, but now let’s just go before we cause any more trouble.”

“More trouble? What could be more trouble than losing my son?” I knew the king could easily have me put away somewhere–whatever he did with unruly citizens, but I was beyond caring. If I could not get my baby back, my life would not be worth living. And to watch that cow, Jemima, nursing him and raising him? I would throw myself into a well or . . . something. “I am not leaving until I see the king,” I said, and sat myself down on the floor, shocking everyone including myself.

Before anyone could argue with me, the official came back out with two guards. The guards began moving everyone out, but I stayed where I was, half expecting a sword to take my head off. But, to my surprise, the official came over to me and said quietly, “The king will see you now. If you will follow me.”

I jumped up before he could change his mind or realize he had the wrong person. I started to follow him, then realized Jemima hadn’t moved.

“Come on,” I hissed.

I thought she would turn and run, but, fortunately, Huppim was behind her, and he happily began to escort her into the king’s throne room.

The final installment, part 8, will be posted on Tuesday, 11/28/17.

 

My Name is Hadesh Part 6 by P.M. Gilmer

If you missed part 5, here’s the link: https://pmgilmer.com/2017/11/18/my-name-is-hadesh-part-5-by-p-m-gilmer/

From Part 5: Both relieved and happy, we followed Benaiah as he led us up the steps into the palace. I was tempted to turn around and stick out my tongue at the guards, but I had never walked up such steps, so thought it better to pay attention. Huppim practically skipped up these stone steps while the rest of us carefully put one foot in front of the other. But, if we thought our troubles were over, we would soon be disappointed.

My disappointment was not with the palace itself. I wanted to stop and gape at the walls, which were painted with scenes from stories I felt I should know if I could just stop and think for a minute. I even wanted to stare at the floor and ceiling (having never seen such), but we had to keep up with Benaiah who walked briskly down a hall, past servants and other soldiers. Once we reached a crowd of people standing outside two large doors, he stopped.

“I’m afraid this is as far as I can take you,” he said, waving a hand towards the crowd. “As you can see, there are many who want to see the king, so you just have to wait your turn.”

We stared at the people who stared back. “But, we could be here all day,” I said in dismay.

Benaiah shrugged. “True. And even then, I can’t say if the king will see you. He obviously can’t spend all his time listening to petty complaints.”

“Our complaint isn’t petty!” I protested, before I had a chance to think better of it, but Benaiah did not seem offended.

“Didn’t say it was, but I’m sure there are many which are. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to see the king myself.”

And with that, he made his way through the crowd which parted for him, somewhat grudgingly. I thought of trying to follow him, but the glares from those already waiting made me step back.

I looked at my companions feeling a bit hopeless. Had this just been a fool’s errand after all?

Jemima noticed my despair and smiled. “I tried to tell you the king wouldn’t see the likes of us. Are you ready to go home now? Your babe is dead, and we should be making arrangements for him; not dragging his poor body through Jerusalem. Besides, we’ve wasted enough of these kind gentlemen’s time.”

“No!” I spoke louder than I intended.  Realizing everyone was watching and listening to us, I thought to be quieter and not draw more attention to ourselves, but then changed my mind. Perhaps it would be better to have some witnesses.

“No,” I said again, somewhat quieter but still firm.  “You want to leave because you’re afraid the king will see the lie in you and realize the baby you’re holding is mine. We will not leave until we see the king, and I will not let you out of my sight until we see him.”

She snarled at me; then, she, too, became more conscious of our audience. She looked at them apologetically. “Sorry if we’re disturbing you all. As you can see, my friend here is highly distraught. She rolled over on her baby last night, smothering the poor thing, and now she’s trying to claim my baby as her own. We’re hoping the king will see the truth of it and set her poor mind at rest. We know she didn’t mean to hurt her child, but there it is. These things happen, and I’m certainly not going to give her my baby just to pacify her.”

Oh, how I wanted to snatch her by the hair and yank it out by the roots. I took a step towards her, and she took one back. The crowd murmured a bit, but no one wanted to get involved.

Huppim patted my arm. “Now, now,” he said. “We will wait with you to see the king if it does take all day. He will set things right. You’ll see.”

I let him lead me away from Jemima, while Muppim kept watch over her and the baby. I took a deep breath, knowing it would not help my cause to be fighting like an alley cat when the king saw us. I would need to keep my emotions under control.

Part 7 coming on Saturday, 11/25. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

My Name is Hadesh Part 4 by P.M. Gilmer

If you missed part 3, here’s the link: https://pmgilmer.com/2017/11/14/my-name-is-hadesh-part-3-by-p-m-gilmer/

From part 3: The other women stood watching us closely, but made no comments. Unusual for these women not to have any opinions. I looked to them for help. “Look at this baby. Can’t you see he is Jemima’s and not mine? Would I not recognize my own child?”

“She has lost her mind,” Jemima interjected before anyone else could speak. “Did she not just wake up with that baby in her bed, and I wake up with this one? Did they get up in the middle of the night and switch places? Or perhaps a demon came in and switched them?”

The women gasped at this possibility, and I noticed a couple of them make a sign as if to ward off evil. If this hadn’t been such a serious affair, I would have rolled my eyes at Jemima’s absurd conjectures. I knew she was only trying to shift the attention from herself and her baby-switching ways. Then the truth of what must have happened occurred to me, and I involuntarily gasped.

“You! You rolled over on your baby and smothered him. Then you switched him with my own who was sleeping in his basket. I remember now I put him in his basket before midnight. You took my baby, then put your own dead babe in my arms.”

The women began to twitter at these allegations, and Jemima’s face became scarlet. I thought she might have an apoplexy right then. I could only wish she would. Instead she said, “You are mad, and making wild accusations will not bring your poor dead child back to life. You need to wrap your baby properly, and let us go and make arrangements for him.”

My Seled began to cry just then or I might have hurled myself at Jemima’s throat. Before I could decide how to respond or what to do to prove I was right, two men entered our house.

“What is going on in here?” the first one asked. “You women are making a lot of racket for so early in the morning. Didn’t know you started your day so early. If you don’t keep it down, someone is going to be calling for the guards. Has someone hurt you? Or left without paying?”

The man questioning us, Muppim, was well known to us all as was his twin brother, Huppim. The two frequented our establishment on an irregular basis. They came into Jerusalem to sell their produce–everything from grapes to honey–and often brought us what they didn’t sell. Considering how many people treated us like dirt or acted like they didn’t even know us (when they knew us quite well), the brothers were kind, if a bit odd.

I pointed my finger at Jemima. “She killed her baby, then stole mine.”

Jemima shrieked. “She’s crazy! You should call the guards and have her taken away. She is trying to take my baby by saying he is hers when her poor babe is lying there dead.” She pointed to where her baby still lay on my bed.

The men looked at Jemima’s baby, then at me, then at everyone else. “Zebidah?” Muppim asked. “What do you know of this?”

Zebidah looked at me, then Jemima, then shrugged. “They both had a baby boy just a few days apart. This morning one of those poor babies is dead. These two,” she jerked her head towards myself and Jemima, “are both hysterical and one of them is lying. Which one? How should I know? Am I as wise as our good King Solomon?”

A bit of nervous laughter came from all the women except Jemima and myself. Then Huppim said, “That’s a good idea.”

Everyone looked at him and waited for him to explain, but he only grinned, looking quite pleased with himself.

“What’s a good idea, Huppim?” Muppim finally asked.

“Asking good King Solomon. That’s what people do when they can’t decide on something, isn’t it? Go and ask the king to judge who is telling the truth.” He beamed as if he had come up with the most original and amazing plan.

I frowned, wondering if the king would see women such as us. Would we even be allowed anywhere near the palace?

“That’s a foolish idea,” Jemima said. “The king wouldn’t have time for the likes of us.”

And even though (or perhaps because) she had just voiced my own thoughts, I disagreed. “He’s the king of all of us, isn’t he? God granted him the wisdom to rule over each and every Israelite, so why wouldn’t he hear us?”

The other women began to murmur, but whether in agreement or disagreement, I wasn’t sure. Huppim continued to look proud of himself, and Muppim scratched his balding head.

“Well,” said Muppim, “if you think that’s the only way to solve this, we would be glad to escort you two ladies.”

Huppim nodded eagerly. “Certainly! We wouldn’t want you ladies wandering through the streets of Jerusalem alone. And, I’ve never been inside the palace! Do you think they would let us in, too?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “But we need to go now before the grows any later. We may have to wait a long time to see the king, so let us make haste.”

Part 5 coming Saturday