Rachel Weeping

Rachel woke to the noise of galloping hooves and shouting. Her son, barely one, slept near her on the bed. “What is it?” she asked her husband, who was moving to look out the door.

“Stay here.” He ran into the streets. Screams and sounds of struggle rose up from nearby houses and became figures in her mind as she waited for his return. She held her son close, her only child, born after years of barrenness. His name was Jonathan, because he was a gift from the Lord.

A man burst into the room. His figure flared up in the passing of a torch outside. A soldier. “Where is your child? We know that there is a child here.”

Rachel backed into a corner, squeezing her son so tightly that he wailed. The soldier strode to the bed. She tried to resist him, screaming, tears running down her face, but the soldier pried her son out of her arms. In the next second, the child’s screams stopped.

Rachel flung herself at the soldier, swinging her arms in grief-stricken hysteria. The soldier shoved her aside, and she fell hard to the ground. When she again had the sense to look around, the soldier had left. She crawled over to her lifeless son and held him close to her chest. She wept, unable to stop.

Her husband ran into the room, someone’s blood on his hands. His voice died in his throat at the sight of his wife and child.  Rachel turned to him, hardly able to speak: “Why? What did we do?”

Kneeling beside her, he could only shake his head.

“Where is the Lord now?” she demanded. “Tell me that! Where is he?”

After many minutes, brokenly, he replied. “The rabbi says that when the Messiah comes…this, this will all be over.”

Rachel pulled away from him. “Where is the Messiah now?” And she wept bitterly.

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