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1.35 Penitence

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Penitence

an ancient Mesopotamian folktale

circa 2000 BCE

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There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Penitence; and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared Adonai, and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she-asses, and very many servants; so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each on his day; and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Penitence would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Penitence said, “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed Adonai in their hearts.” Thus Penitence did continually.
Now there was a day when the sons of Adonai came to present themselves before him, and Satan also came among them.
Adonai said to Satan, “Whence have you come?”
Satan answered Adonai, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”
And Adonai said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Penitence, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears Adonai and turns away from evil?”
Then Satan answered Adonai, “Does Penitence fear Adonai for nought? Hast thou not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth thy hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse thee to thy face.”
And Adonai said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only upon himself do not put forth your hand.”
So Satan went forth from the presence of Adonai.
Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house; and there came a messenger to Penitence, and said, “The oxen were plowing and the asses feeding beside them; and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them, and slew the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
While he was yet speaking, there came another, and said, “The fire of Adonai fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
While he was yet speaking, there came another, and said, “The Chaldeans formed three companies, and made a raid upon the camels and took them, and slew the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
While he was yet speaking, there came another, and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house; and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness, and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
Then Penitence arose, and ripped his robe, and shaved his head, and fell upon the ground, and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return; Adonai gave, and Adonai has taken away; blessed be the name of Adonai.”
In all this Penitence did not sin or charge Adonai with wrong.
Again there was a day when the sons of Adonai came to present themselves before him, and Satan also came among them to present himself before Adonai.
And Adonai said to Satan, “Whence have you come?”
Satan answered Adonai, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”
And Adonai said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Penitence, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears Adonai and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you moved me against him, to destroy him without cause.”
Then Satan answered Adonai, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But put forth thy hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.”
And Adonai said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power; only spare his life.”
So Satan went forth from the presence of Adonai, and afflicted Penitence with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes.
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse Adonai, and die.”
But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good at the hand of Adonai, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Penitence did not sin with his lips.
Now when Penitence’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eli′phaz the Te′manite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Na′amathite. They made an appointment together to come to condole with him and comfort him. And when they saw him from afar, they did not recognize him; and they raised their voices and wept; and they rent their robes and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.
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About BEORH HOUSE

Dark Literature For The Masses

The Tongue Is A Fire...

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