Wednesday, June 1, 2011

With the Kisses of His Mouth

In early autumn, The Three approached Ziklag from the south, after a raid into the Negev against the Geshurites. As they filed through the city gate, Eleazar saw Naarah, standing there, waiting. Slapping Shammah’s shoulder, he fell out of the column and walked toward the young woman, drinking her in with his eyes. He was certain there was no more beautiful woman in all Israel.

“I see God has spared you to fight another day,” she spoke, the faintest of smiles at the corners of her lips.

“Only to be slain by the sight of your beauty,” Eleazar replied, as they walked together. Naarah ducked her head to hide the flush that colored her cheeks. It was the first time, since he had known her, that she had been even momentarily at a loss for words.

“Come now, where is your tongue?” he teased her. “Where are the jesting words that always spring from your lips whenever we meet?”

“Merely a moment of mourning for the slain warrior, laid low by what he mistakes for beauty. You have stayed too long in the desert sun”

“Truly, no flower of the desert is as lovely as you, and even the sun could not dazzle my eyes as much as the vision of you today, standing at the city gate.”

At these words, Naarah blushed again and suppressed a giggle. They walked on, in silence. Eleazar struggled for the words to say, but it was Naarah who finally spoke.

“Ethan and I would like for you to come and dine with us this evening. It is his birthday.” She stopped and turned to face him. Though she stood only a few inches shorter than Eleazar, he felt like a block of raw granite beside a gazelle, when standing close to her. It was all he could do to keep from sweeping her up in his arms and crushing her to himself. He forced these thoughts from his mind and tried to concentrate on what she was saying.

“And how old is my young warrior today?”

“He is seven. I must warn you, if you haven’t noticed, that my son is growing quite attached to you.”

“And I to him.” Eleazar hesitated for a moment, then plunged ahead. “I must also warn you, in case you haven’t noticed, that I am becoming even more attached to Ethan’s mother.” Naarah pondered his words in silence, her eyes downcast. When she spoke at last, she gazed up at him.

“I have noticed, and I am glad that you are becoming a part of our lives.”

“I would be happy to dine with you and your son.”

That evening, after they had eaten, Rahel excused herself on some pretext or other and talked Ethan into going with her. There was a brief, uncomfortable silence between Eleazar and his hostess. Although they had been acquainted for nearly six months, this was the first time they had been alone together. At a momentary loss for words, Eleazar opened with the time-honored military strategy of the indirect approach.

“We will be leaving Ziklag soon,” he said.

“Oh?” Naarah feigned surprise though she too had heard the rumours that David might be moving his force back to Judah.

“Yes, the elders of the tribe of Judah have sent delegations to David. Word is they will ask him to be king in Judah.”

“They are his kinsmen, after all.” Unable to make small talk any longer, Eleazar spoke what had long been on his heart.

“Naarah, I want you and Ethan to go with me. Wherever it is David leads us.” She seemed truly surprised at his words.

“Eleazar, are you asking me to be a soldier’s wife?”

“I am, but I do not ask for your decision at once. You are aware, I know, of the sorrow and separation that the wife of one who carries the sword must endure.” He looked intently at this beautiful woman. Her raven hair fell about her face as she studied the ground between them. For a heart-stopping moment he knew what her answer must be. Then she raised her eyes to gaze into his, a tender gaze which lingered as she spoke.

“I only feared that it might be too soon for you. After your terrible loss.” She reached her hand out to touch his tanned, bearded cheek. “Yes, Eleazar. Yes, I will be a soldier’s wife. I will wait for you when you are away, and pray every night for your safe return and that you might prevail over Israel’s enemies.”

Eleazar then did what he had wanted to do ever since the first time he saw her: he held her to him and kissed her, tasting her lips for the first time, not wanting to ever let go.

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