Son of man

Zerubbabel left the room and took off his official smile. Abiud looked quickly at him, and as quickly away. His father hated to be fussed over, he knew enough to know that. His heart had sunk when he saw that cold tired whiteness around his father’s eyes and mouth, and the covert rubbing of the upper arm.

There was silence. The worst of the tension began to fade. ‘I’ve got a very mixed inheritance to give you, son,’ he said at last, ‘A very mixed inheritance.’

‘Tell it as it is,’ thought Abiud, ‘do not gloss or gild, keep it brutal, that easies him a bit.’ ‘Yes,’ he said, slowly, ‘Yes, a Kingdom struggling, divided, no hope I will be King or that we will have one in my life time – and helpful reformers arriving from Persia all the time with utterly impractical instructions which only make things worse.’

‘They know the wrong things,’ said Zerubbabel sadly, ‘They know how to be pure and holy and to make trouble and they don’t know how to keep things together and how to keep all the people on board. I dunno. Maybe it is me who is wrong. After all, none of my ancestors, none of the Kings of Judah, did a very remarkable job of getting it right. Except Hezekiah, maybe. They say he did.’

‘They say a lot’ said Abiud ruefully, ‘But I never think the past is that – well, look, people are people. None of us are that pure. And whatever they say about mixed marriages …’

‘I wonder if we could get somebody to write the lovely old story of Ruth,’ said Zerubbabel, ‘I wonder if we could show that even the old Kings came from a mixed marriage?’

‘We’ll try, Father, we’ll try,’ said Abiud, ‘And look, things ARE happening. The Temple IS going up – the walls ARE …’

‘The walls ARE more trouble than they are worth,’ flashed Zerubbabel, suddenly smiling again.

Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud.

7 thoughts on “Son of man

  1. These need to be properly published. And again, we need to find you an illustrator. Black and white ink drawings this time, I think, instead of the usual sparkly wonders I want for your stories.

    (is there any limit to the biblical characters you can bring to life? I wonder what we should try next…)

  2. I was saying this evening: ‘Kimberly is so good at knowing how to get me to write.’ Really, it is just ‘giving my ducks words’ – but it is what I hear as I read the Bible. I was late discovering others do not. Kelvin is a great help too, or the generous allowance of reading aloud St Mary’s gives me. That feeds me. I never quite understand why it is essential to hear my own voice doing it before others, but it is, and both the prospect, the moment and the aftermath give me a depth I would struggle without. It is so essential I even manage to make the need and the joy public. A hard thing for me.

    But somebody did once say something about ‘all those dead genealogies’ and I thought ‘whit???’

    What these lack, however, it something to let the genuine outsider in. They work much better for those who already know (eg) the Jews came back from exile and for the lamentable Nehemiah and or Ezra.

  3. I’m not sure you’re right. A comment has come to me, praising your writing, from someone whom I don’t think has detailed knowledge of scripture.

    People might not understand all of it, but they are ‘caught’ by the tone. And if it sends people to read the stories, so much the better.

  4. I feel bound to say that I find myself instinctively drifting into the pages of the story when I read your ” short stories”; I think many people, whether familiar with scripture or not, would similarly be drawn in. What a truly delightful way to be introduced to the great biblical narratives.

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