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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Fruit (10/10/05)

TITLE: Bitter, Sweet Fruit!


Mandrakes?! Leah laughed out loud as she took the highly prized fruit from her son’s outstretched hands.

“O Ruben! Where did you find them?” Her first-born son’s eyes danced with delight knowing how much his gift of mandrakes meant to her.

Leah didn’t hear son’s reply. Even her fruitful womb couldn’t erase the anguish of her lonely heart. Longing for another child and the love of her husband, she had already began to explore the possibilities that the mandrakes procural had proposed.

Mandrakes possessed pregnancy inducing properties. But pregnancy was only one outcome she envisaged. Leah also yearned for the tender embrace of her husband, and to hear endearing words as he caressed her. Driven by the mandrakes’ enamouring properties, Jacob would love her with unbridled passion - for that moment she would be his!

Giddy with excitement, Leah’s romantic mind contrived the idyllic scene. Lost in her romance of imagination, she mirrored her desire with an ardent love song:

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,
For your love is more delightful than wine.
How handsome you are, O lover of my youth,
And I am his always and my beloved is mine...”

Rachel suddenly appeared at the tent to prepare the evening meal. Absorbed in her silent song to an unrequiting lover, Leah was unaware of her rival’s approach. Before having opportunity to conceal the rare treasure, Rachel discovered the mandrakes lying in her sister’s lap.

“Give me those mandrakes!” Rachel demanded, “You don’t need them. Jacob is mine! You are nothing more than a concubine to him.” The brutal truth stung Leah’s heart bringing a gush of bitter tears.

"Wasn't it enough that you took away my husband?” She retorted back, “Will you take my son's mandrakes too?" Livid with raw emotion the sisters glared at each other - one crippled with an empty heart, the other an empty womb.

“NO! You will not have these mandrakes as well!" Leah’s tear-stained face portrayed the agony of her loveless life.

Rachel’s fears had painfully surfaced in the ugly bantering to keep Jacob’s love all for herself. But Rachel realised that even the love of a husband couldn’t silence the scream of her empty womb. Celebrated for aiding conception, the mandrakes posed a viable remedy to her continuing disgrace as a barren woman. She wanted them at any cost.

Leah had tried every seductive devise to captivate Jacob as her lover. Her bed would be meticulously prepared to delight a prince with costly spices purchased from passing caravan merchants. Her clothing and linen sprinkled with the finest and most aromatic myrrh and henna. But it was always a futile endeavour. I married young, only to be rejected, Leah contemplated with excruciating sorrow.

“Let’s bargain!” the older said to the younger. “I want Jacob tonight.”

"Very well," Rachel said, snatching the fruit from Leah’s hands, "He can sleep with you tonight in return for your son's mandrakes."

Leah relished the fact Jacob would be hers tonight.

Rushing over to Jacob as he returned from the wheat harvest, Leah blurted out, “You must sleep with me. I have hired you with my son's mandrakes."

Jacob’s memory briefly revisited the shocking discovery that terrible morning after his wedding. The course of time hadn’t warmed his heart towards her. Jacob wasn’t interested in entering into his wives’ petty squabbles. He walked away without responding to her.

Well after dark Rachel was still brooding in her tent. Sleep eluded her. Holding the mandrakes close to her bosom, her mind inevitably drifted to her fruitless womb. The hasty exchange of the mandrakes had ended with a bitter taste. Only the fruit of the womb could satisfy her. Twice empty - the ravaged woman was devoid of desire for the voluptuous fruit nor with a precious seed implanted within to bear fruit in her wanting womb.

Her mind lingered momentarily on Jacob and Leah in the neighbouring tent...her husband she knew, would merely fulfil his manhood impulses as a routine marital obligation. The passion of love would be absent with Leah.

Leah laid awake for a long time after Jacob had fallen asleep. The mandrakes had not been a necessary ingredient for entering Jacob’s bed after all. Smiling in the darkness, somehow Leah knew that Yahweh had answered her prayers and that her womb was to again bear fruit. A greater reward had been granted her, something more valuable than even the love of a husband. She would know true joy!

Adapted from Genesis 30:14-20, NIV; Song of Songs 1:2,16; 2:16, NIV; Isaiah 54:6, NIV.

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This article has been read 1069 times
Member Comments
Member Date
B Brenton10/19/05
Oh, man. You're too good. I'm jealous of you with UNGodly jealousy (j/k)... teach me to write like you!
This was the only one to keep my rivited and if others like it as much as I did, you'll be a winner twice in a row - or even more.
You're such a sweet lady and God has possessed you with enormous talent. I mean it... you go out there sister and you use this AMAZING ability for good.
There is NO WAY this is Intermediate! :D
I love your stuff. Perfectly edited, perfectly written and I was perfectly smitten with every word that dropped like honey from your keyboard.
Wow. I'm longing for your next inspiring entry... (and I have never said that to another writer on here before) but it's true.
Ah... I need air! :D
Karen Ward10/19/05
Wow! You really brought the characters to life. Each of their personal heartaches were portrayed true to life. I ache for both of them. Neither heartache would be easy to bear. Great story, great writing!
Julianne Jones10/19/05
I agree: this was incredible. A beautiful rendition of a well-known Bible story. You realitically captured the emotions of all players. Well done.
Yolanda Baker10/19/05
WOW, where is the rest of this book? You are amazing and I agree you should move to level 3! touched my heart so....wher has true romance gone in life? awesome writing!
Emily Shumack10/19/05
Such a powerful portryal of a woman's desire and the gift of children. Congratulations on a beautifully written article. You are a gifted writer!
Garnet Miller 10/19/05
I agree with everyone. This is a powerful article with very well thought out voices!
Anita Neuman10/20/05
Great job - no, that's not strong enough. AMAZING job!!!
Suzanne R10/21/05
Fruit of the womb, eh. That's an interesting take on 'fruit' - well done. You have a beautiful gift with words. I especially loved the scene with the mandrakes and the lyrical poetry and the contrast then with the bitterness, "Livid with raw emotion the sisters glared at each other - one crippled with an empty heart, the other an empty womb."

Just beautiful.
Brandi Roberts10/21/05
Fruit of the womb! The best kind! I enjoyed this thoroughly!!!
Doreen Hammond10/21/05
This story kept my interest until the end. Very good.

Lisa Smith10/21/05
A good portrait of what it could have been like to be locked in that very painful three-some. Good job, and good intertwining of the fruit theme.
Lisa Smith
Amy Michelle Wiley 10/22/05
It was just a tad too much for me, as a young unmarried woman, but very well written and a good glimpse into the lives the three must have lead! :-)
Cassie Memmer10/23/05
EXCELLENT!! Did I say it was excellent? What I meant is that it is excellent. :o)
Phyllis Inniss10/24/05
Excellent stuff. Well written and gripping.
Pat Guy 03/04/06
Excellent, excellent, excellent! Wow! This was so well written! Gripping, poignant, beautiful, tragic - gooooood job!