Today was cloudy and dark; a gloomy sort of day. Not even my
companions whom I regularly meet at the well were not in the mood
to linger and chat for long. I guess it is because there is a chill in the air.
The clouds are dark, and lowering. Quite likely by nightfall the early rains will have begun in earnest. It sure feels like a day for huddling in our mud brick homes as close as possible to the little fire in the brazier!
I wonder how my long-time friends will treat me once they can tell
that I am carrying a tinoki, little child. Will they give me the look that
so many reserve for aant’at, women, of ill repute? I shiver to think of it!
I can imagine Shoshoni making hurtful remarks to Tamara, but what
about Abigail and Rebecca? Will they continue to treat me kindly?
When I was just a wee thing, I asked my Imma why she had called
me Mary’am because someone taunted me that it meant a bitter sea
or something like that. I can remember so clearly how she
She immediately dropped what she was doing and reached
out her arms. I snuggled on her lap while she tucked the end of her stole around my body. This is what she told me.
“Oh, Mary’am,” she said, “where did you hear that? It also means
‘longed for one.’ You were such a tiny baby; so sweet, and perfect. I wanted
to find a name that would suit such a lovely tinoki.
Then I thought of the Mary’am in the Torah, (word of God) who was sister to Aaron, and Moses. Do you remember the story?” she asked.
I nodded vigorously, happy that I could tell my Imma I knew which story she meant.
“When I saw your tiny face,” she continued, “ I wondered if Adonai
would have something special for you to do, like He had for that other
Mary’am and it just seemed like the right name.”
She gave me an affectionate squeeze and a kiss on my forehead and I scampered off to play.
I am getting a little rounder every day. Only I can tell but soon the
secret will be out. While I write this Hana is sleepily getting dressed, and when she is
ready we need to fill the water jugs at the well.
While mothers are waiting to fill their vessels, I often gather the
restless little ones around me for a story. It is such fun!
Will the mothers, who used to be so friendly, snatch their children away from me after I show? Will they treat me as if I am unclean, and have leprosy?
Will I ever again hear Hadassah or Damaris lisp in their trilling
“Mary’am, Mary’am, tell us a story! Tell us a story! You are the
best story teller!”
Isaiah and Titus used to run up also, and we would sit in the shade
of the old sycamore tree. Even the clusters of aant’at, (women) hushed their
banter sometimes, although I can tell that some pretended not to listen!
I really love telling the story of Ruth, but of course it does not
appeal to the boys. I am so glad she is part of my lineage!
Ruth said to her mother in law: “Whither thou goest I will go, whither thou lodgest I will lodge, thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.”
What beautiful, timeless words they are. If Yosef decides to marry me,
I would like to say those words to him as part of our marriage ceremony. . I wonder how Ruth would have felt if she was carrying the secret I am carrying. My, I would love to talk with her; I think she would be so understanding.
My communion with the HaShem, hallowed be His Name, was special this morning. Somehow it doesn’t matter so much anymore how others respond to me since that glorious sense of Shekinah, His Presence..
Imma has shared my precious secret with Abba. I wonder if she has ever kept
a secret from him for so long, before, but I guess she was afraid it would
trouble the waters.
He in turn has talked to my future in laws. Their
reaction was not good. Yosef’s stern preoccupied air and his father)
Yaakov’s (Jacob’s condemnation have driven me to tears.
Yosef’s mother, Hilde, is a tubby woman, with iron gray hair. I used to think she had such a affable personality
but when we met on market day in front of the fig and date stall she was
as cross as two sticks. She glared at me then snatched at Imma’s sleeve to
propel her away so that they could talk.
What was I to do? Where was I to look? I kept my eyes averted until the stain of embarrassment receded from my cheeks. The multitude indifferently jostled me about and I timidly caressed my slightly rounded abdomen. Oh baby, baby I
wish I could protect you from the cruel stares, and snide remarks of an
Eventually I found myself beneath the baker’s awning, but even
that delightful aroma did nothing to soothe my distressed spirits.
“A honey cake for you, Mary ‘am? You look like you need a little
sweet to cheer you. One with date sauce drizzled on top perhaps?”
I had walked on before even realizing it was to me the baker was calling.
I looked back then, and saw the look of compassionate concern on his
face. I hardly know him, but he cared about me, a young talitha, from
the same synagogue.
Thank you, Yahweh.
I continued to trudge down the dusty street, past the
heaps of fruit in their sprawling baskets, and past the mat and basket
weavers stall. When I came to the booth where stacks of pottery were
displayed, I stopped.
I hardly noticed when a donkey, heavily laden with copper pots, and
pans clattered to a stop beside me. The owner noisily began to unload
With arms folded as if in self- protection, I stared off into the
empty space just beyond the village, then slowly turned around, and
trudged down the other side of the street. I did not know what to do since Imma was carrying the basket.
Eventually Imma located me. When I saw the tenderness in her
troubled yet compassionate look, my throat filled.
Hilde broke away from my mother, and strode off. Disapproval stuck out from her like seams on a garment worn inside out. Imma took me by the elbow, and gently lead me away from the
“We will return home, yes? Hanalei can make our purchases.”
It seemed to take us a long time to make our way through the hot,
irritable market-goers but the crowds eventually thinned, and we
trudged down the narrow winding path into our own neighborhood.
I slumped on our front stoop, and buried my head in my arms, while
Imma went to search for Abba. Hanalei came, and sat down beside me,
but I did not care to talk. She gently laid her hand on my leg, and we
leaned into each other without having anything to say.
A shadow fell across the path, and Abba’s deep voice instructed
Hana to attend to the shopping. She gracefully arose and the thought
crossed my mind about how tall and slender she was, like our aunt,
I am small, with softly rounded curves, like Imma. We both
have large, dark eyes, though, and both of ours must have looked
troubled at the time. I was left alone to face my father, although Imma
hovered in the background.
“Mary’am, look at me.”
My gaze lifted upwards but it was hard to keep it steady; his face was
so stern. He took a long breath, and expelled it slowly before crossing
his arms in front of him.
“Come. We must have a talk.”
The petals of the almond tree showered around me when I brushed against them. I could not allow myself to think about the memories they stirred up.
Abba leaned againstthe inside wall of the barn, and I stood beside our goat, apprehensively stroking the smooth snow white hair on her nose. Imma was once again
hovering somewhere behind her husband, and my father.
“Daughter, are you thinking clearly?”
I uttered a little gasp, wondering what he could be getting at. It
seemed to take so long before he continued his thought.
“Your Mother and I have known for a long time how deeply you
love El’ Shaddai, hallowed be His Name, , and we appreciate it.”
He paused, and Imma steppedforward to rest her hand on his arm.
“I believe you would long tobe the Mother of the Mashiach, but yeled, child, do you realize howimpossible that would be? Your longing has turned into a flight of the
imagination which is making your betroths’ family very disturbed.”
“Oh, but, Abba! It is true!” He held up his hand to silence me.
“I know you believe it is true, and your Mother has told me why it
seems possible or even probable to you.”
He reached out and tookImma’s hand into his own brawny one.
“I am sorry, daughter, but the great Mashiach would not come to the likes of us who are of lowly birth.”
My whole body sagged, and his look softened.
“He will be aKing, yeled. We do not think less of you for having such hopes, andaspirations. Your mother and I refuse to believe Hilde’s suspicions that
you have been unfaithful to her son.”
My head sank and my face burned.
“I suspect you may be overwrought with all the excitement of your
I started to tremble because Abba does not usually speak to me in such a serious, almost stern manner.
“Your mother has a relative whom we have not visited for a long
time. Her name is Elisheva. Do you remember her?
“She resides at Ain Karim near Yerushalayim (Jerusalem,) with her aging husband who is a priest.”
I nodded. Of course I remembered Elisheva. The angel had shared
some very special news about her that I had told Imma but had not
been brave enough to share with Abba.
Elisheva is such a lovely lady,so elegant, and gracious. I had been allowed to stay at their home forseveral weeks after Passover the year I was ten, and had tried to imitate her for a long time afterwards.
It was her tall, stooped, gray-bearded husband who had taught me how to read and write. I probably shouldn’t admit who taught me. Some of the religious authorities think it is better to burn the Holy Writ than for a woman to learn to read it. Oh, well, this is private. I’m not planning to share it with the world!
“Your Mother and I have decided that it might be best if you would
visit them until all this excitement calms down.”
I came back to the present with a start.
“Me? Alone? Oh Abba how could I?” I wailed, and flung my arms
around him. He gently rubbed my back.
“What you have been saying has been causing too much of a stir,
daughter. We do not want the—the unthinkable to happen.”
I leaned back to get a good look into his eyes. “The, what?” A
divorce. “Oh.” My head sagged against his rough, homespun tunic. Or maybe even stoning.
“Yosef agrees to wait until you come back to make a decision.”
I do not think I heard much more of what he had to say Even while my head reeled with the enormity of the decision; my heart sank like a stone. They are sending me away. Abba does not believe I am carrying the Christ Child; else he would not be doing this to me.
I am to go; to a far-away place. Is it not a five days journey? Why that is to the ends of the earth! Must I go alone? I will be so lonely—and frightened! I will need to sleep in the wilderness among strangers night after night! What if they are aloof or even unfriendly? What if burglars attack us? Haven’t there been more sightings of lions recently?
I started to sob brokenly, and Abba awkwardly turned me over
to my mother. I was dimly aware that he mumbled something
about getting back to the shop but was crying too hard to pay much
It seems like everything is going wrong in my life. Everything has been turned upside down.
I have been feeling so nauseated, and blue much of the time, and on top of that I will be bundled off to live with near strangers—in disgrace!
I am sure it is Hilde’s doings. That must be what she was scheming
with Imma about.
Will my beloved Yosef come to see me before I must depart?
Oh, I hope so! Dare I even call Yosef my beloved anymore? It is a
relief that he does not lash out angrily at me, but I am anguished by his
extreme shock, horror, and disappointment.
I had been so thrilled at the thought of becoming the mother to the Son of HaShem, hallowed be His Name, but that was because I didn’t foresee the future.
Oh, El Shaddai, hallowed be Thy Precious Name and please forgive me for thinking such wicked thoughts. I long to be the saintly woman the Anointed One deserves for a mother. But I’m not. Oh, I simply am Not!
The pain of Yosef’s disappointment is crushing me. Oh Yosef, Yosef, Yosef do you not realize I would never intentionally hurt you? I am so numb with grief at the thought of losing you that I can hardly function.
Oh dear, this is such a long writing, and I blotched it with tears!