David and Hadassah

There was one thing that Hadassah was completely certain of in her life and that was that she would never be loved. She didn’t deserve to be either. She was, after all, a discarded one.

A prostitute.

But there remained a tiny place deep down in the depths of her shrivelled heart where a flicker of light still burned, secretly hoping, yearning to be cherished.

David strode into town. He disliked town with its hustle and bustle. Everybody here was too busy for kindness. Too busy to even glance up and smile at each other as they passed by on the street. David preferred the long stretches of wind tossed fields where he tended his sheep, the rugged hills where he watched over his flock as they grazed the green pastures. Sleeping under a blanket of a million blinking stars, luxuriating in the peace and stillness. David sighed and continued on towards the market. He needed supplies.

Movement caught his eye and he glanced up at a second-floor window above. His heart stopped. Stopped, then started again double time as he gazed at the angel with the endlessly sad eyes staring down at him.

The man with the dark brown hair looked up and their gazes locked. His eyes were like eyes of fire, but not the fires of ire and condemnation that Hadassah had become accustomed to. No, this was the comforting fire of kindness and strength and passion and the embers deep in her heart began to stretch and unfold and reach out in response and yearning.

Quickly, she shut down those dangerous thoughts and turned away just as the town Priest came striding down the street, glaring with disgust first at her and then at the man who was still staring up at her.

”Do you know who that is?” An angry voice hissed at David.

Startled, he turned and saw an old man dressed in a Priest’s Cassock, glaring at him.

“You’d walk away from that evil temptress if you knew what was good for you.” Growled the Priest.

An eyebrow raised, David turned back to the window where the beautiful woman was now gone, the window empty. His eyes drifted down and it was then that he noticed the sign for the Brothel above the door. David blinked in surprise. A prostitute. She was a prostitute. But something in those depthless eyes of hers stirred a response in his heart – a longing to cherish and protect her… to free her from her prison inside that window.

Confused, David turned away from the window, nodded to the priest and continued on his way.

Hadassah dreamed that night. It was a memory. She was five years old and laughing in the garden behind their little cottage with her little two-year-old brother. He had been chasing her and fell into a little puddle of water. When he sat up, his face had been dripping with mud and he had giggled infectiously. Her father had come outside to see what the commotion was, took one look at little Samuel and threw back his head, laughing that big old belly laugh of his before scooping them both up into a massive bear hug.

That had been a good day.

David lay down with his sheep that night on the hilltop. Resting his head on his arm, he stared up at the millions of stars as they shone across the vastness of the night’s sky. But he did not see the stars tonight.

David sighed.

All he could see were those depthless eyes.

A prostitute, he reminded himself, even as he felt the presence of his Father smiling down at him from heaven.

“What do you want me to do?” He whispered to his God.

“I want you to love her. Cherish her. Teach her what unconditional love is.” Came the answer in his heart – a gentle, loving whisper.

David swallowed and took a deep breath.

“Yes, Father.” He breathed.

Meanwhile, in a nearby town, there lived a judge. He was a righteous judge. He looked around him at the street urchins, prostitutes, pick-pockets and thieves and sighed as he made his way towards the courthouse. Most of those little street urchins – the orphaned children kicked to the streets – would end up in his court room one day. All they needed was to be loved and valued by someone. If only one person would help them, they might just be able to climb out of the darkness and come into the light.

The judge did what he could to help. It was why he had become a judge in the first place.

He only wished he could do more.

The Madam of the Brothel was a middle-aged lady now. Still considered beautiful by many, but there was a hardness in her eyes. Her life hadn’t been easy. Orphaned as a young girl, she was plucked off the streets and trained for the Brothel. She had worked her way through the ranks until she had become the most sought after prostitute in all the land, eventually becoming the Madam of the Brothel.

She looked after her girls as best she could, but it was a hard life. The sooner the girls learned and accepted that, the better.

Love was for fairy-tales.

Hadassah could not stop thinking about that man with the eyes of fire.

The Madam had sent her into the garden that morning to tend their small vineyard. Wearing her big straw hat to keep the sun off her skin, she had watered the plants and checked on the grapes before sitting on the edge of the well in the middle of the Brothel’s garden.

She heard a throat clear and looked up. The sight took her breath away.

There he was, standing in the little arched doorway of the garden wall. In the light of the day, he was resplendent.

“What are you doing here?” She whispered, rising to her feet.

David swallowed. She was so beautiful.

“My Father told me I would find you here.” He replied quietly.

Confusion crossed her features. “This is a private garden. That door should have been locked.” She said, her voice enchanting, like a musical instrument.

The arched doorway into the garden led out onto a small alleyway beside the Brothel. It should have been locked, but David had felt the nudging of his God lead him down here, and had found it unlocked when, with beating heart, he had gripped the handle.

“My name is David.” He said and smiled tentatively.

David.

The name swept through her soul like a warm summer breeze.

But this was madness. His father had sent him here? Who was his father?

She turned to leave.

“Wait,” Came his deep, gentle voice. “What is your name?”

She hesitated before turning back to him against her better judgement. “Hadassah.” She murmured before disappearing back inside the Brothel.

As she stepped over the threshold, leaving him behind, it felt as though the sun had just disappeared behind a dark cloud. She shivered at the sudden cold.

Every morning that week, David visited Hadassah in the garden. She would never stay, never talk to him, hardly even look at him, but she was there, waiting, every time he came.

It was a long trek for him. He would leave the pastures before the sun rose each morning, hike across the fields as the first morning rays kissed the day awake, and make it to the garden in time to bring Hadassah a small loaf of bread for breakfast, before leaving to get back to his sheep by lunch time. She would quietly accept the loaf of bread with a confused look on her face, as if she couldn’t understand why he would bother to bring her anything, and would go inside.

Just that look on her face alone was enough to get him coming back each day, to show her that she was worth that small act of kindness.

He had a feeling she had not known much kindness in her life.

Hadassah could not understand it. She had been used and discarded by men time and time again. She was a filthy rag. Men took what they wanted from her without apology. Certainly nobody ever did anything for her without expecting something in return.

But David came back every morning simply to bring her breakfast. Even though she never spoke to him.

She was waiting for the time when he would finally reveal his motive to her, when he would finally ask her for whatever it was that he wanted from her.

She couldn’t help herself, though. Every morning she would wait for him, and her heart would flutter in anticipation.

She should really stop going into the garden to meet with him. It was foolishness. But she couldn’t help herself.

The judge spent the day preparing for the Feast of Purim – Hadassah’s Feast – the following day. Each year he would gather enough food to take out to the poor, the orphans and street urchins. But his heart was heavy today as he placed the little sweet treats and bread rolls into bags.

He had presided over a hard case the day before. A prostitute had been brought before him, caught in the act with a married man. The law was set, hard as it was, and he had had no choice but to allow the stoning. Her death was a heavy weight on his heart.

He tried and tried to keep fighting for true justice, but the truth was that his heart was tired and the little hope that lived in there was slowly being snuffed out.

At least tomorrow he could help a little, in his own way.

Hadassah hated this day.

It had been her favourite day as a child – a day to celebrate what her namesake had done. The pure, beautiful Queen Esther, who had been so strong and brave and had saved a nation.

When she was little, her father had fussed over her, treating her like a queen on this special Feast of Purim day. Now, she felt nothing but shame. She did not go down to the garden.

“Come away with me.”

Her breath hitched as she heard the voice of her beloved calling to her from the window.

Slowly she peered out the window. There he was, waiting for her. Reluctantly, she made her way outside where he presented her with a sprig from a myrtle tree. She bowed her head in shame. She had been with many men the night before. She was not pure. She should not taint him.

But he placed a calloused finger under her chin and gently lifted her face, gazing into her eyes… her very soul.

“I see you.” He whispered. “I see every part of you, and I am not afraid.”

Hadassah swallowed.

“You are altogether beautiful.”

“You should not touch me.” Hadassah murmured, pulling away. “I am an unclean woman.”

David shook his head gently.

“You are trying to survive. But you, Hadassah, are precious in God’s eyes. In my eyes.”

He tried to look in her eyes but she dropped her head again, taking another step back.

“God does not remember me.” Hadassah whispered. “If you were smart, you would forget me too.” She turned to leave.

“Hadassah,” David called out. She paused on the threshold but did not turn back. “I will never forget you. I will not leave you.” He promised.

The next day, Hadassah remained in the shadows of her room. And the next day, and the day after that.

Each morning, his voice would call to her from the window.

“Come away with me, my love, my fair one.”

But she would not go. She would stand in the shadows beside the window and listen, heart beating and heavy.

But she would not go to him, It was for the best.

David sighed as he gathered the sheep together for the evening. It had been two weeks since she had last come to him in the garden, on the Feast Day fo Purim. Hadassah’s Day. He had gone to her every day, but she refused to come outside.

He would not give up, though. He had promised her, and he would show her that she was precious to him.

A growl rumbled through the night and David’s sheep stirred restlessly. David stalked out into the darkness, towards the sound. A low growl rippled again and then a wolf hurtled towards him from the darkness.

David crouched, sending a prayer to his Father for strength, and ran to meet the wolf head on. He would protect his sheep. Not one would be taken.

The wolf lashed out at him and he cried out in pain as its teeth latched onto his forearm, but he managed to twist and grab the wolf around the throat, squeezing with all his might until he heard a crack and the wolf fell limp to the ground.

Panting, his arm throbbing in pain, David sank to the ground beside the wolf and thanked his Father.

“Come away with me, my love, my fair one.” Came David’s voice that morning, but it sounded more strained to Hadassah’s ears than his usual deep timbre, so she peeked out the window and gasped. He stood there with a bandage wrapped around his arm, red with blood.

Quickly, she flew down the stairs and out into the garden.

“What happened?” She stared at the dirty bandage and then looked up into his pain-addled eyes. He smiled.

“You came.”

Hadassah shook her head.

“Foolish man. Sit down and let me tend your wound.”

David sat on the edge of the well and Hadassah could feel his eyes following her as she raced back inside to grab some clean bandages, her heart a panicked flutter. She drew some water from the well and knelt before him, carefully unwrapping the filthy bandage. She sucked in a breath when she beheld the deep scratches.

“It’s nothing.” David grunted in pain as she gently began to cleanse the wounds.

“What happened?” Hadassah demanded, glaring up at him as her gentle fingers spread an ointment over the cuts. David hissed at the sting but smiled at her reassuringly when her gaze turned worried.

“A wolf attacked my sheep last night. I managed to kill him, but not without a bit of a fight.”

Hadassah’s mouth dropped open and David couldn’t help himself. He reached out with his uninsured hand and gently pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. She swallowed and looked down, frowning as she concentrated on wrapping the new bandage around his arm.

“You are a shepherd?” She asked tentatively after a moment.

Overjoyed that she wanted to know about him, he began to tell her of his life in the pastures and on the hills under the vast open skies.

“That sounds wonderful. To be free under the skies. To go anywhere you please.” Hadassah breathed.

She realised she was still holding onto his arm and abruptly dropped her hands. She was about to leave, but David quietly asked, “How did you end up here?” And she found herself wanting to tell him. And so she did.

She told him the sad story of the little girl with a doting baby brother and loving father. She told him of the joy of her childhood until one day, when her father and brother both became ill with the wasting sickness, and finally died. She told him about her mother’s grief, their ensuing poverty, and how her mother had eventually sold her as a slave to the Brothel at eight years of age.

She went quiet, her heart raw, at the end of her sad tale.

After a few moments of silence, David tentatively reached out and wiped a tear from her cheek with his thumb. She looked up to find his own eyes silver-lined and filled with compassion.

“I promise you I will never leave you. I will not forsake you.”

And she believed him.

The Priest hissed up at her window. There she was, that evil temptress, always looking down at him. Always following him with those eyes.

Every night, he would walk by her window to check on her. To see what she was doing. It was like a sickness he couldn’t cure himself of. She drew him in, lured him to her with those cursed eyes.

He decided he must do something about her. He must rid himself of her. Rid this town of her. It was his duty as the Priest, to protect his flock from her wickedness.

He glared up at her window and growled, a plan forming in his mind. He would rid this town of her if it was the last thing he did.

The next few days were some of the happiest of David’s life. He and Hadassah met every morning in the garden, under the shade of the apple tree,

She began to open up to him like a beautiful flower and he watched with wonder as she told him stories of her childhood.

When she smiled, he was undone.

he still remembered the first time she had smiled at him, the day after she tended to his wound. It was as if the sun had come out from behind a cloud and bathed him in its warmth.

As he was walking home to his sheep, he determined in his heart to find a way to free her from her slavery and to make her his wife.

The Madam of the Brothel watched from the window as Hadassah and the man strolled together in the garden. Foolish girl. She waited until they had said goodbye and intercepted Hadassah in the doorway.

“What is your plan, Hadassah? What do you think will come of this?”

Hadassah dropped her head and shrugged. “I don’t know Madam. All I know is that he sees me. Really sees me. He has given me a joy that I have not experienced since I came to this place. All I know is that I love him, and I don’t want to know any more than that.”

The Madam shook her head in disgust. “Love is a myth. The sooner you learn that, the better. He will realise what you are eventually, and he will leave. They all do.”

Hadassah swallowed and trudged up the stairs, her steps heavier than they had been in days. The Madam squashed the tiny flicker of guilt that tried to worm its way into her heart.

David toiled under the hot sun, working hard. He was building a home for Hadassah amongst the rolling hills. He would find a way to free her, and he would bring her here to live in freedom and peace.

He smiled as he worked, singing a song of thanksgiving. He could imagine her here, strolling across the fields amongst the sheep. His heart was bursting with hope and anticipation.

“Make a way for us, Father.” He prayed as he worked.

Hadassah sat in the garden, waiting for David, the Madam’s words from the day before echoing in her ears.

He was late.

He had never been late before. But he was late.

“Love is a myth.” The Madam’s words beat through her head over and over again as she sat, waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

Her heart dropped. Love is a myth.

Eventually, Hadassah stood to her feet and with a battered heart, trudged into the Brothel and went to work.

One of David’s lambs had fallen into a hole.

He spent the day digging the little lamb out, worrying over the poor little creature and also Hadassah, who he hadn’t been able to go and see that day, but when he finally pulled the lamb free, his breath caught and his eyes widened in wonder and then joy unspeakable.

There, in the bottom of the hole, shining up at him, was a huge, stunning, exquisite pearl of great price!

He picked it up with shaking fingers, dusting it off on his jacket. It was costly indeed, enough for a king’s ransom… or one girl’s freedom from slavery and prostitution.

Laughing, David rose to his feet and thanked his Father. He would free Hadassah, his pearl of great price.

Judas the Priest handed over the thirty pieces of silver to the thug in the alleyway behind the Brothel.

“Remember, it is the prostitute Hadassah you must kill. The one with the evil, seductive eyes.” He whispered.

The thug grunted and pocketed the coins.

“Wait.” He called out, grinning, as the thug stopped and turned back to him. “Give that temptress a kiss from me before you do it.”

The Priest chuckled at his cleverness as the thug left. Finally he would rid himself and this town of the evil plaguing it.

“I told you he would stop coming. You were a fool to open your heart, Hadassah.” The Madam scolded the foolish girl. The sooner she learned that love was a myth, the better off she’d be. “Now get upstairs and prepare. You have a customer.”

The big man was waiting in Hadassah’s room. He had specifically requested her upon entering the Brothel.

The Madam didn’t miss the look of sadness in Hadassah’s eyes as she quietly passed her and went inside. Stupid girl. Life was hardness. They each had their roles to play and there was no way out of it.

When she was younger, the Madam might have tried to find a way out for her and her girls, but that was years ago, before life had taught her its hard lessons.

Hope was too dangerous.

Hadassah trudged up the stairs, squaring her shoulders as she went. She should never have opened her heart to David. How could she continue in this profession, bedding and after man, whilst professing her love to him?

It was becoming too painful. Too shameful.

And when he hadn’t shown up this morning, part of her heart had fractured.

He must have finally realised who she was. Good. It was better this way.

She opened the door to her room and was met by a large, brutish looking man. Resigning herself to her fate, she stepped towards him.

“The Priest sends his regards.” The man rasped and kissed her roughly before striking her hard across the cheek. She gasped, crumbling to the floor.

The judge was on his tour of the neighbouring towns and villages – the ones too small to have their own judge. He would occasionally visit them, trying cases that were waiting for him.

He was tired.

He didn’t see any goodness in people any more. Neighbours fought each other over land disputes. Men caught in adultery threw the adulterous women away. Starving pickpockets were thrown at his feet for retribution.

The hope that he had started with was dwindling and he was tired.

Was there not one good person alive? Was there nobody who would stand up and fight?

Hadassah pushed herself onto her feet and raced out the door and onto the landing. The thug chased after her, grabbing for her arm, but she spun and pushed him.

It was enough! She could not go on like this any longer.

She reached the top of the stairs just as he grabbed for her again. She screamed and pulled on her arm, yanking it out of his grasp, but he leaned forward. Tilted. Twisted.

The world stopped as Hadassah watched her attacker lose his balance and fall down the stairs, landing in a heap on the ground, right at the Madam’s feet.

Her mouth dropped open in horror. What had she done? She should not have fought back.

The Madam dropped to her knees, checking for a pulse. She let out a breath in relief when she found one.

Not dead.

Hadassah would have been executed if he’d died. She still might. Unless the Madam could somehow cover it up.

“Come here, Hadassah.” She hissed up at the girl who was standing frozen at the top of the stairs. “Help me get him to the basement.”

The girl flew into motion, running down the stairs just as the door swung open behind the Madam.

“What do we have here?” The Priest’s hateful voice carried over to them.

They froze.

Hadassah was shaking.

“He’s not dead.” The Madam told the Priest. “It was an accident.” She looked at the Priest, who laughed.

“Oh, I don’t think so. I heard the commotion from the street. You’re coming with me, girl.”

The Priest grabbed her roughly by the arm and dragged her outside into the street, the Madam following closely on her heels whilst yelling to the other girls to get help for the man lying at the foot of the stairs.

“You will pay for this, evil woman.” The Priest yelled, shaking her as a crowd began to gather around them. “How dare you strike a freeman, slave.” He spat. “Your life is forfeit.”

The crowd was jostling her, pushing her as the Priest dragged her down the street. They were yelling insults and spitting at her.

She began to cry, shaking uncontrollably with fear and shame.

“Death to the whore. Death to the slave who dared to strike a freeman!” The Priest was screaming, stirring the mob further.

They finally came to a halt before a makeshift stage in the town square where a judge from out of town was trying cases. He lifted his head and looked with solemn eyes towards Hadassah.

“What is the meaning of this?” He enquired of the Priest.

The judge felt something in his heart tug as he looked at the terrified girl gripped in the hand of the Priest. He knew this Priest. He was notoriously self-righteous and cruel.

Something strange happened inside him then. He somehow knew that he was supposed to be here today, for this girl.

“This filthy prostitute struck a freeman who is now lying unconscious in their brothel.” The Priest screamed, shaking her arm. She sobbed quietly.

“Release her arm.” The judge told the Priest who stepped back in disgust.

“What is your name, girl?” He asked her gently.

“Hadassah.” She breathed.

The name clanged through him like a bell. Hadassah. The name of the on day of the year when he could do something for those in need. He had to find a way to help her somehow.

“What happened, Hadassah?” The judge asked her and she was startled to find compassion shining through his eyes.

“This slave injured a freeman!” The Priest yelled before she could reply. “The law is clear! She must be punished! Death! Stone her!” The Priest screamed and the crowd followed, chanting for her death.

“Silence.” The judge boomed.

“Hadassah?” HE asked her after the crowd had settled.

“I am a prostitute.” Hadassah began with shame and loathing for herself. “The man was waiting for me in my room. He began to beat me and I ran from him. He chased me and fell down the stairs. I’m sorry.” She whispered, tears tracking down her face. “I’m so sorry.”

All she could see was David’s kind face in her mind. She would probably never see him again. And it was for the best.

David pushed his way through the crowd in horror as he beheld Hadassah standing before the judge, shaking and weeping.

The Priest was hissing accusations and calling for her death.

He reached her side just as the judge made his declaration.

“By law, a slave who has wilfully caused injury to a freeman must be punished.”

David’s heart stopped.

“I have considered the facts of the case, however, including the fact that the man had attacked Hadassah first, and she was trying to defend herself. It was not her intention for him to fall down the stairs, and so my ruling is that her punishment shall not be death, but 39 lashes of the whip.”

The Priest yelled in outrage as a sob ripped out of Hadassah’s throat.

David grabbed her arm, squeezing it in comfort. She turned to him, eyes wide, red and petrified. He gritted his teeth when he saw the large bruise marring her cheek.

“I will take her punishment.” David called out, loud and clear above the sounds of the crowd. Hadassah turned incredulous eyes his way.

“I will gladly be whipped in her place.”

He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a large, beautiful pearl, lifting it high.

“Furthermore, I am offering this pearl of great price in payment for Hadassah’s freedom from slavery.”

Tears began to fall down from Hadassah’s face as the Madam of the Brothel approached, eyes wide.

“Is this acceptable payment?” David asked the Madam who nodded slowly.

David then turned to Hadassah, gripping her hands in his large, calloused ones. “Marry me, my love, my fair one.”

Hadassah’s mouth dropped open.

“The judge is here. We can be married right now. I will not be separated from you any longer, and you will have the protection of my name.”

Hadassah turned in shock to look at the judge who beamed at her, silver lining his eyes as he nodded in affirmation. She turned back to David.

“Yes.” She rasped.

David pulled her into his embrace as her heart filled with hope and joy unspeakable, even as it stumbled in horror with the realisation that he would be whipped in her place.

“No! This is not acceptable!” The Priest hissed. “The evil temptress must pay!” But he was interrupted by the judge’s booming voice,

“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. The law demands payment for this transgression, and a payment has been offered up. I will decide what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, Priest.”

The Priest gritted his teeth and clenched his hands into fists but kept quiet even as he watched this shameful hearing go on. He glared at the Shepherd standing under the Palm tree – its fronds waving in the breeze above his head, pulling that evil seductress closer into his side.

Abomination.

Hadassah’s heart stumbled as the judge banged the gavel down.

“The sacrifice is sufficient. This man’s ransom is acceptable in payment of the law.”

She began to shake and sob as the significance of this moment settled in her.

“Shh. My love. It’s okay.” David whispered as he embraced her, kissing her brow.

“You cannot do this. I am not worthy of this.” She begged him, but he only smiled at her, love radiating out of his eyes.

“It is my greatest joy, my love, my fair one. I am yours and you are mine and nobody will separate what God has brought together.”

And with that, he handed over the pearl of great price to the Madam.

The judge presided over the proceedings, bearing witness to the handing over of the pearl of great price to the Madam in payment for the girl’s freedom. He watched with tears in his eyes as the symbol of freedom was tattooed over the girl’s slave brand.

He led them through their marriage vows with a full heart, and nodded to the guards to bind David to the whipping post with a heavy heart.

The law must be fulfilled, but the judge watched David with wonder as hope was restored in his heart. There was still goodness and righteousness in the world. There were still people willing to stand up and fight for what was right.

A tear escaped the judge’s eye as his heart softened with renewed hope. He would continue to fight the good fight. He would not give up.

The Madam of the Brothel stood there, astounded by the events that had just unfolded. Who was this man, to make such a sacrifice? To pay such a price?

Her hardened heart shattered at the act of love so great she could not understand it. Shattered, and was forged anew as conviction and then determination filled her.

As David was bound to the whipping post, she raised her voice.

“Let the judge and all these people present be witness to my declaration. My Brothel is a Brothel no longer. It will be a shelter for girls in need. No longer will we give our bodies to be used. This man’s sacrifice for one of us has taught me that my girls can be cherished. That it is possible. And to honour this great sacrifice, our home shall be called Them House of David’.”

Her voice rang out over the stunned crowd and the quiet sobbing of her girls.

Then the whip descended on David’s back.

“No!” Hadassah cried, flinging herself on David’s neck as the whip fell. She held onto him as he sucked in a breath. At the crack of the second whip lash, blood sprayed onto her face, her arms, her clothes.

Her Beloved’s blood covered her – the blood that atoned, that paid the price for her filth.

She wept into his neck. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Even as the whip fell again. Again. Each cracking sound setting a seal upon her heart, echoing such a profound depth of love and devotion that she could not comprehend it.

The embers in her heart roared to life, fed by the fires of his devotion to her. She was cherished. She was loved. More than she could comprehend. What greater love was there than this? Than a man laying down his life for hers?

“I love you.” She wept into his neck as the last remnants of darkness in her soul were obliterated by the light of his love.

David hung from his arms, agony radiating from his back and joy radiating from his heart.

He had done it.

She was free and she was his. Each stripe across his back was precious to him even as the pain took his breath away. He would gladly do it again for the sake of his beloved.

She pressed her face into his neck, weeping.

“Don’t cry, my love, my fair one.” He whispered hoarsely as the guards unstrapped his arms from the post and held onto him, supporting him.

“It is finished.”

Hadassah tended to the wounds on David’s back for three days, rubbing in oils – spikenard, myrrh and frankincense. Her tears mingled in with the oils, anointing his back with her love, gratitude and devotion.

She gently dried his back with her hair as she whispered the song of her heart to him.

“I am yours, my Beloved, and you are mine, and the banner over us is love.”

He would smile at her as he lay on his stomach in the little room in the Brothel turned women’s shelter. So many things had been changed by this beautiful man. So many lives changed forever. And he was hers.

On the third day, David rose from his bed, leaning on his beloved.

She kept her arm around his waist as his arm rested on her shoulder.

“Come away with me, my love, my fair one. I am taking you home.” David murmured into her hair. “I have prepared a place for you.”

His bride smiled wide, joy radiating from her face and lighting up David’s heart as she turned to him.

He cupped the back of her head with his left hand, his right embracing her as he leaned in and kissed her with all the reverence in his heart, and then they made their way out of the old Brothel, down the street and out of town to the sound of whispered voices;

“Who is this, coming up out of the wickedness, leaning on her Beloved, perfumed with the scents of spikenard, myrrh and frankincense?”

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