Eleazar sat and looked on in numbness as the stone was rolled against the opening of the family tomb, carved in the limestone of the hill overlooking Bahurim. Shammah knelt on one side of him, his arm around his stricken friend’s shoulder. Rephah was at his other side. Hillel and the elders of Bahurim saw to the burial procedings as Anna was laid to rest with her husband’s mother, father, sister and brother.
In the day and a half since Anna’s death and that of the baby, life in Bahurim had come to a halt. Friends and family gathered around Eleazar to mourn with him and comfort him. In his home, his mother-in-law brought him a bowl of lentil stew. He refused and Shammah took the bowl.
“You must eat, my brother. You haven’t taken food in nearly two days.” Shammah’s eyes were red-rimmed from grief and sleeplessness.
“Yes, my son. You need your strength,” spoke Rephah at his other side. Eleazar accepted the stew from his friend’s hand and ate sparingly.
“I feel as though I have wept every tear my eyes could hold,” he spoke, at last, continuing to pick at the food in the bowl. “Surely I will never cry another.”
“Yet, you live,” Rephah said. “And your life will go on.”
“Why? After God has taken from me everyone I love, why go on living?”
Shammah sighed. Worse than the loss of his sister was the uncomprehending grief of her husband, his friend. He glanced at his father, hoping for words of comfort. Rephah patted his son-in-law’s shoulder and searched for the words that would help him make sense of things, words that would alleviate his suffering.
“My son, if it is God’s will that you are left after your loved ones are taken, then you must indeed ask why. For what purpose has He spared your life, you who have dwelt in the shadow of death since you took up the sword? Rest assured that there is purpose in all that the LORD of Heaven does.”
“What purpose, then?”
“Ah, my brave young one. Time will heal this deep and grievous wound, and time will reveal this mystery to you. As for your wife and son, there is no bringing them back, but you will, in God’s time, go to be with them.” Together, father and son embraced this man who had become such a vital part of their lives. Shammah whispered into his friends ear.
“Peace, my brother. For now is a dark time of mourning, for all of us. But as surely as there is a God in Israel, the light will dawn and with it will come joy.