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.

 

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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

“My Name is Hadesh” part 1 by P.M. Gilmer

This is the story of Hadesh, to be told in eight parts. 

I grew up in the city of Jerusalem during the days of King Solomon. I know some people only think of King Solomon as the man who built the temple and had so many wives, but I will always remember him for the wisdom and kindness he showed to me when others would have thrown me out or ignored me or even laughed at me.

I hope you won’t stop reading when I tell you what I did for a living or think any less of King Solomon for helping me. It might help if I tell you a bit of my own story first.

My father threw me out of our home when I was only six. My mother had just given birth to another daughter, and when my father learned he now had eight daughters, he picked me up and told me it was time I learned to care for myself. He was a very superstitious man, my father, and thought if having daughters could be lucky at all, he could have no more than seven. Why he didn’t just kill my baby sister, I don’t know, except he never seemed to like me. I felt I reminded him of something bad, but I never knew what. Two of my older sisters brought me food for a few days, but soon enough, they got caught, and then I was truly on my own.

I won’t go into the days and years I spent just trying to survive as that is not the point of my story. Suffice it to say, I survived the best way I could, and it wasn’t long before I was selling my body for something to eat. I made friends on the street, and by the time I was twelve, I was living in a house with three other women: Zebidah, Hoglah, and Jemimah. Jemimah and I were of a similar age, but Zebidah and Hoglah were several years older. They mothered us a bit (bossed us more like), but it felt good to have others in my life. Our life was hard, but we worked together, and usually, we could count on each other. But not always.

At almost fourteen, I found myself pregnant. Jemimah, too, discovered she was with child. It may sound foolish, but it excited us both to think of having our own baby. I promised myself, and the LORD God, that I would take care of this little one, and he would always know his mother’s love. No matter what.

_________

Part Two coming Saturday.

“My Name is Absalom” Part 5 by P. M. Gilmer

If you missed last week of this continuing story, here’s the link for part four:

https://declaretonextgeneration.com/2017/08/18/my-name-is-absalom-part-4-by-p-m-gilmer/

Unfortunately, my plans had to be delayed when another tragedy occurred in my family. It is not my intention to speak of this event now. I only mention it to partially explain why it took me almost two years to carry out my revenge.

Once things had settled, I felt free to pursue my plans again with, I admit, an even greater sense of urgency and desire. I began again to consider my need to befriend (or re-befriend) my cousin, Jonadab. As I said earlier, he avoided me when possible, so I knew well enough to take things slowly as I did not want to arouse his suspicion. Since I do not willingly seek to befriend people in the best of times, I knew this to be a great possibility–even for someone as eager to make friends as Jonadab.

So for several months, I would nod my head pleasantly towards him whenever our paths should cross. (I thought I looked pleasant anyway, though the way he always skittered away made me feel I should perhaps work a little harder on my “pleasant look.”) Eventually, I took to waving and calling out to him. He would respond with a quick nod, but he certainly made no effort to come any closer and start up a conversation.

Finally one day, I sent one of my servants to his house to ask him to meet me at an inn that evening where we could share a meal together. Alas, I couldn’t invite him to my own home as he probably wouldn’t come, and also because Tamar still refused to leave. Though she could easily stay out of sight (and did when I had other company), I did not want her to know of my plans. She would never understand, and I was afraid she might feel betrayed if she knew I was meeting Jonadab for any reason.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if Jonadab would even show up. I sat at a table outside where I ordered a skin of wine and two cups. Halfway through drinking my first cup, Jonadab walked up behind me. Now, you might wonder why I would sit with my back to the road, and if Jonadab was thinking at all, he would have wondered at it too. But, I was giving Jonadab a chance to change his mind when he saw me, and I also wanted him to believe I trusted him. Of course, I didn’t trust him–not for a minute. And if he had any sense, he wouldn’t have trusted me. But, Jonadab wanted to please people too much. A dangerous attribute to have and, thankfully, not one I was ever cursed with.

“Absalom?”

I turned and gave him my biggest smile. “Cousin! It has been too long! Come, sit. Innkeeper! How is that rack of lamb coming?”

I pushed a stool towards Jonadab, then poured him some wine. I continued to chatter–asking him about his family, if he had been hunting lately, what did he think about the Ammonites and their refusal to pay Father tribute, etc.–while the food came and we continued to drink. Jonadab answered in monosyllables, eating hungrily, and drinking at least two cups to every one of mine.

By the time we finished our meal, night had fallen, the streets were deserted, and Jonadab had relaxed and even laughed at a few of my not-so-funny jokes. In the middle of one of his loud guffaws, I pulled out my knife, laid it on the table, and leaned over closer to him. “It is said that you were the mastermind behind my sister’s disgrace.”

He blanched, and I feared he might lose the meal I had just bought him all over the wooden table. Fortunately for him he didn’t as I would have been sorely tempted to make him eat his vomit if he had.

“No, Absalom,” he finally managed to get out. “That is, it is not what you think or what people are saying. I never expected Amnon to hurt Tamar. I knew he loved her. I thought he respected her! I did encourage him to speak with your father. I thought he would ask to marry her. I couldn’t believe it when he grabbed her like that, and then when he threw her out . . .”

He stopped, his eyes pleading, while I continued to look at him coolly. Inside, I felt anything but cool. It was all I could do not to grab him by his neck and choke those words out of him. Though I remained determined to get my revenge, I did not need the scene described to me. It would be enough to know who to blame.

“I know well enough the sins of Amnon; it is you I want to hear about now. Did you do anything to defend my sister and her honor? Or did you sit idly by? Or perhaps you were the one who threw her out and bolted the door?”

Even with only a flickering oil lamp on our table, I could see Jonadab’s face turn from a scarlet red to an ash gray. It amused me to see a face turn so many different shades. I hadn’t realized this was possible.

He reached for his wine cup, but it was empty as was our wine skin. “Sorry, Jonadab,” I said affably, though not sorry at all, of course. “But we seem to be out of wine. Why don’t you just answer my questions, and we can both go home?”

“It was his servants who threw her out and bolted the door, though Amnon commanded them to. I . . .”

“Did nothing. As I thought.” I picked up my knife and moved it back and forth so the flame would reflect in its blade, then lightly touched my thumb to the blade as if testing its sharpness, though Jonadab well knew I kept my knives and swords sharpened at all times. Then I slammed the blade into the table and leaned towards Jonadab, so close I could hear his rapid breathing and smell his fear-soaked sweat.

“You did nothing,” I whispered, “and I should kill you right now for that alone. However, . . .” I stopped and sat back, giving him time to catch his breath and consider.

Eyes wide, he said, “I’ll do whatever you want, Absalom. I can help you take your revenge on Amnon. He still trusts me. Truly, I’m one of the few people he still trusts.”

I smiled with no attempt to look pleasant now. “More fool him, it would seem. Very well, you shall have a chance to redeem yourself, but you must do everything I say.”

Jonadab nodded so eagerly, I was minded of a dog I had once seen groveling for his Hittite master.

I jerked my knife out of the table and leaned towards him again. “You’ll be hearing from me soon–and, in the meantime, don’t even think of going outside the walls of Jerusalem.” And I left him there, sitting in the darkness.

My Name is Absalom: Part 1 by P.M. Gilmer

“My Name is Absalom”–A Story Told in Seven Parts

My sister, Tamar, is the most important person in my life. That may sound strange, but let me explain about my family life.

My father, a king, has a multitude of wives and, consequently, an even greater multitude of children. I am the third of six sons born very close together and all with different mothers. We were like a litter of puppies growing up together. We played, fought, and made a competition of everything—who could run the fastest, climb the highest, shoot an arrow the farthest, etc. You get the idea. We all wanted our father’s attention and so did his wives. Our mothers did what they could do to attract our father’s attention, but they also didn’t mind using us boys to enhance their own standings with the king.

I wasn’t going to mention this, since I in no way want this to be about my father (more than enough has been written about him), but I might as well get it out of the way. My father is King David of Israel. Yes, that King David. Killed a giant with a sling and a stone when he was just a “boy” (I hardly consider seventeen the age of a boy, but I suppose it makes a better story); chosen among all his brothers to be king by God Himself, wrote a few million songs, and continues to be a mighty warrior. Rah, rah, rah.

My mother was and remains the most beautiful of the six women. No, really. My brothers and I actually discussed this quite often. We compared our mothers in many ways because we knew our father did as well. Part of that competition thing, I suppose. Besides being a beauty, my mother is the princess of a small country. So small few have heard of it, but she never lets anyone forget she is the daughter of a king. She believes the other wives are “common” compared to her, and, of course, she is right. They all grew up as daughters of shepherds or winemakers or soldiers. Nothing unusual or shameful in any of those, but my mother never let me or anyone else forget her upbringing was of a higher quality.

Anyway, that’s not to say the other mothers are ugly. By no means. Our father may have had poor judgment in many areas, but he certainly has good taste in women. However, my mother stood well above the others in beauty, which was just as well as I’m afraid it is her only redeeming attribute. Her intelligence is average at best, her charm non-existent, and her personality might best be described as abrasive. She has never been the type of mother a child could run to when hurt and expect comfort. Rebukes or reprimands were her most often used forms of communication with her children.

Which brings me to my sister. Tamar is eight years younger than me so I remember the day of her birth very well. I had not been happy my mother was expecting another child (and in truth, neither was she). I had been quite content to be her only son and I did not want another brother to draw my father’s attention and affection. So, when Tamar was born, I was as delighted she was a girl as my mother was disappointed. Though she did grow to adore her daughter (as much as she was capable), at the time, my mother was despondent believing (wrongly as it turns out) that her husband would not be pleased with the birth of a daughter.

Though at first I was just pleased Tamar was a girl, it didn’t take long for her big brown eyes to capture my heart and to bring out in me fiercely protective feelings. And unlike with my brothers, competition never existed between us. If our father or mother showed her any type of favor, it did not stir up envy in my heart as it did with my brothers but rather delight and pride. In fact, I’m sure I took more pride in her than did our father, and I certainly did more to care for her welfare.

As Tamar began to grow into a young woman, others started to take note of her. At first, this only increased my pride in her, but I soon realized the attention of others was not always a good thing, and I would need to do more to protect her and keep her safe. I also expected my brothers to help keep an eye on Tamar, as I would do the same for their sisters. Though we might fight and compete–when it came to our sisters, we were united in our protection and loyalty to them. Or so I always thought.

Looking back now, I can remember when things began to change for us all, but I didn’t see it at the time. Three of my brothers, our cousin Jonadab, and myself decided to spend the evening celebrating our return from battle with the Philistines. We had been away from Jerusalem almost three weeks and were giddy with our victories.

Jonadab, the son of one of my father’s brothers, often spent time carousing with us. Of my three brothers: Adonijah is my younger brother by less than a year, and I was born between my two other brothers—Amnon and Chileab–who were as different from each other as night and day. Truth be told, Amnon and I were much closer to each other as we both enjoyed the women and playing pranks on the others. Chileab was a bit too serious for the rest of us, but he accompanied us that night. Probably to keep an eye on us more than anything. He was good about that, and though at times I found him annoying and pompous, he did keep me out of trouble more times than I deserved.

Anyway, it’s not so much what we did that night that’s important but rather something Amnon said as we were making our drunken way home. With the exception of Chileab, we were bragging about the women we had met, how much we had impressed them, and which ones we wanted to meet with later. I was walking beside Adonijah with the other three behind us. Chileab had been so quiet, I almost forgot he was with us until I heard him rebuke Amnon sharply.

“Hush, fool. Just because you’re drunk is no reason to say such things.”

I stopped, and Amnon ran into the back of me. I turned to look at him. “What were you saying, Amnon? Is Chileab jealous because that luscious dark-haired woman so obviously wanted to come home with you? Or is he still mad because you killed more Philistines than him?”

Amnon gave me a crooked grin, then put a finger to his lips. “Shhh! It’s supposed to be a secret!”

I laughed raucously, thinking I was right especially considering the grievous look Chileab was giving me.

Adonijah jabbed me in the ribs. “Hush! You’ll wake the neighbors, and they’ll complain about us to Father.” Then he looked at Amnon suspiciously. “What’s a secret?”

The five of us stood in the middle of a dirt road, darkened houses on either side of us. Above us, the moon shimmered as only a sliver in a multitude of stars in the surrounding darkness. The only sounds to be heard were croaking frogs, night insects, the occasional hoot of an owl, and the heavy breathing of my companions.

Still grinning, Amnon started to speak when Chileab stopped him. “It’s nothing. He’s just drunk, more than usual it would seem. We need to get home.” He took Amnon by the arm and started walking him past us.

Amnon turned to look at me, then winked. “He doesn’t want you to know who I really love.”

Everything still seemed funny to me, so I continued laughing and hollered after him. “Who, Brother? Who do you love?”

His reply came back to me, carrying loudly through the night air. “Tamar! I love Tamar, your beautiful sister!”

I cringe now to remember how I continued to laugh. Jonadab put an arm around my shoulders and laughed as well. “Your oldest brother has good taste, Absalom. Tamar is turning into a beautiful young woman.”

“That she is,” I agreed proudly. “The most beautiful woman in Jerusalem. No, in all of Israel!”

We all laughed together and somehow made our way back to our own homes. I immediately went to bed, fell asleep, and did not see my brothers or cousin for several days. In fact, the next time I saw Amnon and Jonadab, I made plans to kill them both.