Rebekkah - Poem by gershon hepner
When Abraham was weak and old
he forced his slave to swear an oath,
while grasping of his member hold:
“Make sure that Isaac plights his troth
to someone from my ancient clan;
from Canaanites don’t choose a damsel;
in Canaan I believe each man
to be a mamzer, girl a mamzelle.”
Everybody knows a mamzer
is repulsive to the Jews,
a cockroach rather than Greg Samsa,
but mamzelle is a word I choose
instead of mademoiselle, for rhyming;
a lot of members of my tribe
like them a lot when they’re good-timing,
though outlawed by the Bible scribe.
The slave asked God to make it clear,
by giving him a secret sign:
“The first young girl who will appear
and bring me water, not cool wine,
should be for Isaac lifelong mate.”
She came, of Bethuel the daughter,
and didn’t cause the slave to wait
until she brought him ice-cold water.
A prompt response, what he’d been urgin’,
occurred at once, and what is more
she was what he had asked for, virgin,
a miracle, I’d say, encore.
Some water for the camels, too,
she brought, precisely as he’d bid,
although she clearly never knew
it was God’s will, because He hid,
as later He would hide when Ruth
by Boaz was allowed to glean.
His hidden will reveals the truth
like daylight coming through a screen,
a scrim that only may be lifted
by those who’re spiritually gifted.
I ought to mention here a point.
Though Canaanite, the slaveman thought
that Abraham might yet appoint
him as his heir, and therefore sought
to lie with that young girl, he knew
he ought to bring back to his lord
for Isaac as a virgin. Clue
for this interpretation find
in language that describes him as
a man, a word that should remind
us that we’ve just learned no man has
yet had Rebekkah, front, behind.
We learn that she was quite intacta,
from Midrash cited here by Rashi,
who states importantly the factor
that no one ever touched her tushy!
His eagerness in fact implies
that he intends to be the plow
within her furrow, and belies
his wish to honor now the vow,
for when the lady gives him water
he thinks that he will have her like
Rebekkah’s brother’s younger daughter,
whom Jacob took when sent by Ike.
Quite ready for the dating game,
Rebekkah told the man her name:
in all the land there was none cuter,
a major catch for any suitor.
She said: “Please let me introduce
my brother; he is running loose
around my father’s great estate.”
The slave declared: “That would be great! ”
The “White Man, ” Laban, whom he’d meet
turned out to be a dreadful cheat,
in Jacob’s tale a major player
as father of both Rachel, Leah.
He gave to Jacob first the latter,
confusing with patristic patter
the fugitive who had a hunger
for Rachel, though she was the younger,
and made quite Jacob then upmixed her
with Rachel—what a shameful trickster!
“It is not done in our great land
to give the younger first in hand, ”
he said, so Jacob had to slave
a week of years before he gave
him Rachel, his more lovely daughter,
the one for whom he drew some water,
as did the slave whom we have mentioned
above, perhaps more well-intentioned,
but maybe not, as I have said,
for when the slaveman bent his head
for water, just as camels stoop,
it seems his aim was soon to shtup
Rebekkah––intention that was so absurd
I’ve used a vulgar Yiddish word.
Laban said: “Mi casa es
su casa, ” and he showed largesse
not only to the slave then but
his camels, giving them a hut
in which he generously provided
the fodder that they craved, while he abided
inside his house, I think a mansion,
undergoing great expansion,
a hovel being gentrified,
as none have commentarified
in medieval Bible versions,
foreshadowing my city’s Persians,
who, like the kinsfolk of Rebekkah
expand their houses, triple decker,
because they must impress their neighbors,
as Laban wished, imposing labors
on Jacob wishing to be swived,
to prove they truly have arrived.
Don’t think that only Persians do this—
big’s great for them, and huge is bliss;
all nouveaux riches look for a variance,
the Persians learned this from Hungarians.
Before the food, the slaveman said:
“I must, before I go to bed,
explain the mission that my master
has given me.” He thought disaster
would come as soon as he explained
how Abraham had been most pained
that girls who in his land were rooted
to Isaac weren’t exactly suited,
because, revealed with décolleté,
they caused the horny men to play,
and gaze with longing at midriffs,
and dream of mounting them like cliffs,
while greatly turned on by short dresses
revealing thighs and pubic tresses;
about such features men all raved,
especially when these girls have shaved—
though pubic hair makes some men blush,
they stare much more when there’s no bush.
Daughters of the sons of Ham,
anathema to Abraham,
were not what he for Isaac wished.
The ishah with whom he’d be ished,
I mean the woman who would turn
him into man and make him burn
with reproductive fire, must
be someone who had earned his trust
by coming from between the rivers.
What he demanded God delivers.
The slave displayed the gifts he bore,
huge rubies Valor Women wore
to please the husbands they adore
in olden times and days of yore,
and pearls as large as egg of duck,
believed to bring their bearers luck,
especially when in a charm
with God’s name keeping them from harm,
and bracelets which Jews used to whore
with Moabites at Baal-peor,
and precious nose rings used to make
a Golden Calf, a Moses fake,
replacing him—his crown of thorns,
less splendid than his famous horns,
acquired when he came so late
Jews said to Aaron: “We won’t wait, ”
as they so often say today
whey they for a messiah pray.
The slaveman showed them all his treasures
without security-type measures,
and they replied, to his surprise,
“Please take Rebekkah, she’s your prize! ”
But first they asked her, “Will you go
away to marry? ” She did not say “No! ”
but answered simply with a “Yes! ”
The man with whom she went, I guess,
could see from this most cryptic word
that he was not the man preferred
by her, for he was just a slave.
To Isaac she was going, brave,
a woman destined just like Ruth
to leave her land and find the truth
in Israel, to which God had sworn
His chosen people would be borne
on eagles’ wings—if all the planes
were cancelled, and there were no trains.
Waiting with suspense and joy
close to Be’er Laha’i-roi,
the place where Hagar once had met
an angel––God did not forget
her and the son then in her womb;
for both of them He found some room.
Descendants who from Isaac stem
would end up in Jerusalem,
while those of Hagar, not Rebekkah,
would face much farther east, to Mecca––
now in Be’er-laha’i-roi,
this thirty-seven-year old boy
called Isaac, lost in meditations,
stood quite resigned, without impatience,
just like a Buddha of Amida’s
familiar to enlightened readers,
and watched until he saw afar
a woman moving like a star
that shone most brightly in the heaven.
It was exactly half past seven,
the time for minhah, rabbis say,
when men must take off time to pray,
as Isaac did. Though he’d been saddened
by Sarah’s death, he now was gladdened
and took Rebekkah to his tent
where she repaired in clothes the rent
that he had torn when Sarah died,
for now Rebekkah was his bride,
reminding him, the garments’ wearer,
by all things that she did, of Sarah.
Dark and comely without pallor
was Isaac’s wife, a girl of valor,
mother both of Jacob, Esau,
brothers two upon a seesaw,
a pair of twins born to Rebekkah,
her womb prepared for double-decker,
a matriarch who loved and chose
son Jacob, most religiose,
not Esau, man who loved to hunt,
his father’s favorite, strange to say––
so blind he never saw him stray
among the Hittite women till
Rebekkah said: “They make me ill.”
Inside her womb she had a two-for
one, the older one a Jew-for-
Jesus, causing great distress,
the Vatican his main address––
synonymous the name of Edom
with Rome the way we read him,
though Christians say with ancient fury
that Esau’s ancestor of Jewry,
while Jacob, not left in the lurch,
is ancestor of all their church.
Brothers both would exeunt,
one for tents and one to hunt,
and leave each other on a stage
where at their sibling they could rage,
without the limelight competition
that bothers stars with great ambition.
In all the Bible there’s no figure
who than this matriarch is bigger.
A postscript comes now to this poem,
foreshadowed clearly in the proem,
if, as I would now propose,
you read it once again most close.
When aged, Abraham would find
a time for tying knots, to bind
his son to someone who was suited
to God’s plan, which was clearly bruited
at the Covenant of Pieces,
and made quite sure he’d look for nieces
for Isaac, since he was no whorer
before his marriage to Keturah,
and stayed away from women younger,
till old age would restore his hunger,
when he foreshadowed Jesse’s son
who in old age, though weary, wan,
would lie with Abishag, the norm
for old kings when they are not warm,
and search for concubines or harlots,
some Bible heroines like starlets.
While David lay within her arms,
he put aside not only psalms
but also thoughts about his sons,
enchanted by her breasts and buns,
till Nathan and some leaders came,
with Bathsheba, his former flame,
to make sure Solomon would rule.
But Adonijah was uncool,
and though he tried to seize the crown
his sense of timing let him down,
and he was killed like Absalom
and Amnon when his plot would bomb.
While Abraham had made quite clear
that Isaac was to him more dear
than Hagar’s son called Ishmael,
and was the designated male
to follow him, King David failed.
While seeking women’s warmth he ailed,
which really is a poor excuse
for old men trying to be loose,
as wine and women for their health
is bad, and harmful to their wealth.
How lucky David still had faith in
Bathsheba and the prophet Nathan,
for if he hadn’t, Abishag
might well have taken all his swag.
The contrast that’s comparative
explains to us each narrative.
I’m not sure which was written first,
though both by me are hereby versed.
For answers you must try to collar
not rabbi, priest, but bible scholar,
which I attempt, when I have time,
to be, while all the rest I rhyme,
unless, of course, I’m in my clinic—
the one place where I’m not a cynic.
Comments about Rebekkah by gershon hepner
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.