Jarha and Yafah weren’t married yet, but he already viewed her as his wife. They both entered into this relationship reluctantly at the behest of the master of the house to maintain his inheritance and secure his lineage, more important than their own personal preferences. After all, few people either of them had ever met actually married for love. Yafah’s parents married for similar reasons, and Jarha’s culture practiced polygamy before being taken by the Israelites, so his mother was just property to his father whom he barely had a relationship with. It wasn’t until being bought by the master of the house that he felt he truly had a father. He found it ironic that his real father treated him like a slave, and his slave master treated him like a son. Now, here he was marrying the master’s daughter and gaining an inheritance! He never thought life would take this turn. His only task ahead was to tame his wild bride.
Yafah was quiet at dinner, which was becoming more and more normal.
“How was your day, sweetie,” her father asked.
“Ok,” she said tearing her bread. It was an improvement. For days after being asked to merry Jarha she wouldn’t eat at all.
“Well good. I’m glad you had a good day.
Jarha didn’t say much either. He saw Yafah as more of a project than a fiancé. He just kept staring at her shoveling food into his mouth, at least that’s how she felt. In reality, he didn’t know what to say. He had agreed to merry his master’s daughter because he cared for him like a father, the only father he knew, but he didn’t know anything about women. All he knew was she didn’t want to merry him. She’d agreed to it to please her father and because she wasn’t sure if anyone would want to merry her at all.
“I’m finished,” she said. “I’ll be in my room. Let me know when you’re done, and I’ll come clean up.”
“That’s ok, honey. We’ll get it.”
Yafah went up to her room, shut the door, and lay silently on her bed praying in her heart to the Lord that He would provide some other way for her father’s heritage to be salvaged.
“She’ll never be happy with me. She has these fantastic ideas of love and romance in her head.”
“Just give it time, Jarha. I truly believe she’ll come around.”
Jarha and the master stayed up for a bit discussing the arrangements for the marriage (ceremony, dowry, the house, etc.). Soon, neither of them could focus on the conversation, and they knew it was time to retire for the evening. They said their goodnights and went to their separate rooms.
As Jarha was saying his evening prayers, he heard sounds in Yafah’s room. He knew she was awake. He stood still like a lion about to pounce on his prey. He soon heard her door open. He knew she’d been sneaking out, and this was his chance to follow her to see what exactly she was doing. He waited a few minutes and left to follow her.
He expected her end up at a street corner or a lover’s house, but when she didn’t even go through town and just ended up in the pasture, he was bewildered. Unwittingly, she led him up to the top of a large hill with short grass. There wasn’t really any place for him to hide, so he just lay facedown in the grass on the side of the hill.
It was dark, but the sky was lit with thousands of stars. He simply hoped she couldn’t see. He watched her lay down on the hilltop on her back and simply stare at the stars. It wasn’t long before she began to speak.
“Lord, I know you hear me. I don’t deserve an answered prayer. I know I’m not perfect, but I’m trying. I need your wisdom, Lord. You know I don’t want to merry Jarha. Well, I don’t think I do. I don’t really have a reason not to. I can’t say I’ll never love him. He’s a good man, Lord. I know he cares about you. He’s been good to my father. I know he’ll be a good husband. He just isn’t what I’d always pictured for myself. Lord, I’m not worthy, but if this is your will, will you please give me a sign?” Yafah waited to hear the Lord speak. She waited for anything. She felt the cool breeze blow across her genteel face. Then, she saw a shooting star. “Is that it, Lord? Is that my sign?”
Just as those words left her lips-
“Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!! Ants! Ants! Ants!” Someone was yelling and hitting themselves all over.
“Jarha!” She rushed over to him.
“What are you doing here,” she yelled.
“You followed me here?! I knew it! You think I’m some kind of ‘lady of the night.’ I have news for you-“ She started him all over.
“ANTS!” was all he could say. “Thank you!” She just kept hitting him all over at first because she was mad, but then she realized the ants we’re no ploy. They were big, red, and extremely territorial.
“Ouch!” she cried. “I’m getting bitten!”
“Let’s move,” Jarha urgently suggested. Slapping each other all over, they fled. When they finally reached the house, they were out of breath, stared at each other and laughed so hysterically-
“KNOCK IT OFF!!!” yelled a neighbor. That just made them laugh even harder.
Smiling, he stared at Yafah. “For a few minutes, I thought we were children again.”
It was as if his voice brought her back from that childhood place.
“You followed me. You followed me to my secret place and listened to my conversation with God. Why did you follow me?”
“You will soon be my wife. I needed to know where you were going.”
“You could’ve asked.”
“I didn’t know if I could trust your answer.”
“Honestly, you’re pretentious, immature, and sometimes outright cantankerous.”
“Well, I think you’re brawn doesn’t reflect your brain. You’re stuffy. You’re too presumptuous, and most of the time you smell like a goat, a goat I met recently actually.”
“You never listen! You’re rebellious. You avoid your duties and frankly-“ he paused.
“Frankly what?! What else do you have to say?”
“Frankly—Well, the only thing else I can think to say is. . . We’ll, you’re beautiful.” He blushed.
“I’m sorry. Even standing here arguing with you trying to tell myself all the things I don’t like about you, I still can’t help but stand here and be consumed with just how beautiful I think you are.”
“Hah,” she said with her arms folded. “I don’t believe it. You just don’t want to lose an argument and that was all you could think to say.”
“It was all I could think to say because the longer I look at you, the more overcome I am. It’s the truth. I’ve always thought you were beautiful, but I was just a slave. When your father said he wanted us to merry, I got defensive because I thought you’d never agree or be happy with me. Just a slave.”
The truth struck her heart. Suddenly she realized her father was right. Growing up, he was less than a brother, but much more than a slave, even more than a friend. Since they lived in the same house, they had to distance themselves emotionally from each other, but now they could both embrace what they’d always wanted.
“Yafah, do you think you could learn to love me, just a slave?”
“Jarha, you’ve never been just a slave to me, not truly, not in my heart. I . . . I’m sorry for the things I said to my father and to you.”
“I’m sorry, too. Let’s go inside.”
They headed upstairs to their rooms, but before they parted-
“The answer is ‘Yes.’ I know I can grow to love you. You’re a wonderful man. That is if I don’t already. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” he said. She shut her door, and Jarha just stood there not knowing for how long breathing in the moment and looking forward to a nearest to perfect future this life had to offer with a love so perfect, so pure, so unusual, it had to be divine.