Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Letter From Prison

Evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.
 Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.
 But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
 The wicked plots against the righteous
And gnashes at him with his teeth.
 The Lord laughs at him,
For He sees his day is coming.
The wicked have drawn the sword
And bent their bow
To cast down the afflicted and the needy,
To slay those who are upright in conduct.
Their sword will enter their own heart,
And their bows will be broken.
Better is the little of the righteous
Than the abundance of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked will be broken,
But the LORD sustains the righteous.
The LORD knows the days of the blameless,
And their inheritance will be forever.
They will not be ashamed in the time of evil,
And in the days of famine they will have abundance.
But the wicked will perish;
And the enemies of the LORD will be like the glory of the pastures,
They vanish-- like smoke they vanish away.
The wicked borrows and does not pay back,
But the righteous is gracious and gives.
For those blessed by Him will inherit the land,
But those cursed by Him will be cut off.
                        -An ancient Hebrew wisdom poem, otherwise known as Psalm 37:9-22

From Adoniyah, the son of your companion, Azaliah the son of Shaphan14, the scribe of the great king Yosiah.15

Dearest Yakov:  

My prayers are with you and your family and I truly hope all is at peace with you.  You are constantly in my prayers and I trust that God has prospered you beyond all your dreams.  May you have health and bounty in all of your life. 

I am sorry to have been so long absent from your presence, but it is not my own desire.  You have probably heard about my misfortune.  Of how our crops two years ago failed and the need of my family became great.  In order to keep them from starving, I took out a small loan from Shad, a local wealthy man and ruler of our permanent refugee camp in the region between the rivers.  He provided enough to help my family survive the lean times, and we were well.  The next year, my crops grew up, but a blight attached themselves to much of our produce, so that our yield was lean.  I approached Shad, and told him of the plight my family and I was in.  All he would say is that he expected the money returned, as we agreed on schedule.

Perhaps you heard about how I contacted my brothers and cousins, begging for redemption.  But they all told me of their own struggles, their difficulties in raising their families, how times were tight and they had nothing to spare.  As the wise Solomon said, “All the brothers of a poor man hate him.”16

And so, on the appointed day, Shad arrived to my farm with guards.  He asked for his repayment, by law, and I told him I could not pay.  So he commanded his guards, dragged me away from my family and placed me in this locked box.

Have you ever had a family member imprisoned?  Have you ever seen the conditions?  Four thick mud walls, guarded every moment, only unswept dirt on the floor to rest on and sleep on.  In the middle of the night, the cold from the ground seeps into my body and wakes me so I can only rest a few hours a night.  Not that it matters, for bugs crawl in my hair and my clothes, and I spend my day picking them off of my body.  I have a bucket I defecate in, which I must live with until my wife comes to visit.  Luckily, there is little for me to place in the bucket, for I only have one meal a day, which my wife brings me, along with water. 

I can feel my body and my mind atrophying.  I can barely talk, and it has taken me days to write even as much as I have to you.  The worst I have experienced, however, is my shrinking heart.  For all that I have experienced, I find envy of you who have never experienced this ultimate poverty, this separation. This creeping horror of hatred that fills my heart.  I am only a shadow of what I have been.  My love and joy is drained.

Please, my friend, have compassion on me.  I have been in this cell for a month now and eagerly seek deliverance.  Can you assist me?  Speak of me to Shad, and any payment you might be willing to do for me, although you owe me nothing, would be greatly praised.  Be God’s servant for me.

Your dear friend,

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