10. The Parchmentmakers' and Bookbinders' Play: Abraham and Isaac

Great God, who all this world has wrought,
And wisely knows both good and ill,
I thank him loyally in my thought
For all the love he lends me still.
From barrenness he has me brought;
A hundred years I did fulfil
And now You grant me strength, that I might
Arrange my works by Your own will.
For in this earthly life
There are none to God more bound
Than I and than my wife;
What friendship we have found!

God told me, once upon a tide,
When I was seated beneath a tree;
He said my seed should be multiplied.
Just as the gravel in the sea,
Or as the stars are strewn so wide,
So said he that my seed should be,
And bade I should be circumcised
To fulfil the law he taught to me.
He sends us riches fine
As in this world we thrive;
As far as the sun does shine,
He makes an end to strife.

Abram first named was I;
Since then, he set a syllable more;
And my wife was named Sarai,
But then was named Sarah.

But Sarah was uncertain then
That ever our seed should bounty yield,
Because she was herself barren,
And even then we both were old.
But she did as a wise woman,
Who wished a family to build.
Her servant secretly she sent
Unto my bed, my will to wield.
Soon after that befell,
When God our deed would requite,
She brought forth Ishmael,
A son seemly to my sight.
Then afterward, as we grew old,
My wife again feared for the same;
Our God then tidings to us told,
When we were in our house at home.
He said that have a son we would,
And Isaac should be that son's name,
And his seed should spring, manifold.
If I were glad, who could find blame?
Because I trusted this tiding
That God told to me then,
The ground and the beginning
Of the truth at that time began.

To God I now owe much to yield,
Who so would tell me His intent,
And, even though we both were old,
A seemly son to us He sent.
Now he is grown; he's strong and bold.
But my strength long ago was spent.
Therefore, he shall be my shield.
I love Him who this loan has lent,
For he may stop our strife
And defend us from all ill.
I love Him as my life,
With all my heart and will.

Abraham!  Abraham!

					I am here.

A message now to you I bring.
God will test your will and cheer,
And whether you'll bow to His bidding.
Issac, your son, whom you hold dear,
Whom you love more than anything,
Take him to the Land of Vision, and there
Make of your son a burnt offering.
I shall show you then
The sacrificial place.
God wills this deed to be done;
And therefore now make haste.

Lord God, who lends ever-lasting light,
This is a fearsome care to feel:
To have a son seemly in my sight,
Isaac, whom I love so well-
He is of age, if I reckon right,
Thirty years and more, some deal,
And now, to death I must him smite;
God has said so, I know well,
And bade me now arise
To the Land of Vision,
And there make sacrifice
Of Isaac, my own son.

And that is a journey of three days,
By the quickest speed that I can go.
If God bade me myself to slay,
I surely could not tell Him no.
But to my son I will nothing say,
But take him and my servants two,
And, with our ass, go on our way.
As God has said, so shall we do.
Isaac, son, I do believe
To wilderness we now must go,
An offering to God to give,
For God has me commanded so.

Father, I am ever at your will,
As I should be, without deceit.
All people gladly should fulfil
God's commandment, as is meet.

Son, you give me good counsel
(Though some truth is no blessing sweet).
Let us go; let us do well.
I pray God send us safe home again.

Children, lead forth our ass
With wood for us to burn.
As God commanded has,
To work we now shall turn.

At your bidding we shall be bound,
Wherever in the world you wend.

What, must we cart things out of town,
To go off to some foreign land?

Just now, from Heaven, God sent down
To them some solace, I understand.

It's good sense to fulfil it, then,
And cheerfully do as He has planned.

But what they mean to do
I have no knowledge clear.

No point for me and you
To ask such questions here.

No, there is no point in any degree
For you to pass judgement on our deeds.
For as God commanded, work will we.
To his commands we must take heed.

All those that will His servants be,
To them He'll give success and speed.

Children, with all the might in me,
I love that lord of all indeed.
To worship Him: certain
My will is bent thereto.

God give you power, then,
Right here so for to do.

Son, if our Lord God on high
Wished for my body as offering,
I would be glad for Him to die,
For all our hope in Him does hang.

Father, indeed, just so would I,
Rather than to live too long.

Ah, son, you say this well.  Now I
Pray God for grace, to make you strong.
Children, wait here still;
No farther must you go,
For here I see the hill
That we must walk unto.

Now keep our ass and all our gear
Till our return, and guard them well.

My son, it behooves you this wood to bear
Until you come upon that hill.

Father, that's no harm, for here
Our God's commandment we fulfil.
For, injury we need not fear;
He guards us when we work His will.

Ah, son, that was well said.
Lay down that wood just here,
Until our altar is laid.
And, son, be of good cheer.

Father, I see here wood and fire,
But what shall our burnt offering be?

Surely, son, God our sovereign sire
Shall ordain that in good degree.
For, son, if we do His desire,
A great reward therefore get we.
In Heaven we will have our hire,
For that to us was His prophecy.
Therefore, son, let us pray
To God, both I and you,
That we may make this day
Our offering, as is due.

Great God, that all this world has wrought,
And worthily governs good and ill,
Now grant me strength so that I might
Your commandments here fulfill.
And if my flesh groan or grieve ought,
Before my soul fully assent theretill,
To burn all that which here I've brought,
I shall not spare, though it should me kill.

Lord God, great in power,
To whom all people pray,
Grant both me and my father
To work thy will, always.

But, father, now I must know this thing:
Whereof should our offering be made?

My son, I must leave this lingering:
Yourself that bitter blow must abide.

Why, father, does God wish that I be slain?

Yes, truly, son, so has he said.

And I shall not groan there-against;
To work his will I am well paid.
Since it is his desire,
I shall be glad to be
Bludgeoned and burned in fire;
Therefore, mourn not for me.

No, son, this deed must needs be done.
My lord God I will not gainsay,
Nor make any mourning or moan
To make an offering of you this day.

Father, since God, our Lord alone,
Agreed to send, when you did pray,
A son to you, when you had none,
And wishes now that he go his way,
Therefore, be willing me to kill
As an offering in this place.
But first, I shall you tell
My counsel in this case.

I know, because of nature's kind,
My flesh will quake in mortal dread.
I am afraid that you shall find
My strength resists your covenant.
Therefore it's best that you should bind
Me fast in bands, both foot and hand,
Now, while I am in might and mind,
Safely you'll keep God's command.
For, father, when I am bound
My strength may not avail.
Here shall no fault be found
To make your covenant fail,

For you are old and all unwell,
And I am strong and bold in thought.

To bind him who should be my help!
Without God's will, that I would not.
But, lo, no effort shall avail;
So God shall have what he has sought.
Farewell, my son; you shall I yield
To him that all this world has wrought.

Now, kiss me heartily, I thee pray.
Isaac, I take my leave for ay-
I shall you miss.
My blessing you have entirely,
And I beseech God Almighty
To give you his.

Thus do we both assent
After your words wise.
Lord God, see our intent;
Receive your sacrifice.

This is to me a peerless pain,
To see my own dear child thus bound.
I had much rather my life decline
Than see this sight thus of my son.
It is God's will; it must be mine.
Against his word I've never gone.
To God's command I must encline,
So that in me no fault is found.
Therefore, my son so dear,
If anything you'd say,
Your death is drawing near.
Farewell, for ever and ay.

Now, my dear father, I would you pray,
Hear these three things; grant me this boon,
Since I from this must pass away.
I see my hour is come so soon.
In word, in deed, or in any way
That I have trespassed, or evil done,
Forgive me, father, ere I die this day,
For his love that made both sun and moon.
Here, since we two must part,
First, of God I ask mercy
And you, in mind and heart,
This day before I die.

Now my great God Adonai
That all this world has worthily wrought,
Forgive the son in his mercy,
In word, in work, in deed and thought.
Now, son, as we have learned,
Our time we may not waste.

Now, farewell, all this Earth;
My flesh grows faint for fear.
Now, father, wait no more, 
But take your sword in haste.

No, no, son, no, I beg; as yet
I have done nothing; have no fear.
Your words have made my cheeks all wet,
And change, my child, all of my cheer.
Therefore, lie down, hands and feet;
Now, you may know your hour is near.

Ah, dear father, life is sweet.
I am destroyed with death's dread fear.
As I am here your son,
To God I commend me till.
Now I am laid here bound;
Do with me what you will.

For, father, I ask no more respite,
But hear one word.  As I advise,
I beg you now, before you smite,
Lay down this kerchief on my eyes.
Then your offering may be made right,,
If you will do thus, in this wise.
And here to God my soul I plight,
And all my body in sacrifice.
Now, father, nothing is missing.
Now smite as fast as you may.

Farewell, in God's dear blessing,
And mine, forever and ay.

To that peerless prince I pray
Mine offering here to have it.
My sacrifice this day,
I pray you, Lord, receive it.

Abraham!  Abraham!

      			Lo, here, yes!

Abraham, stop, and hold you still.
Kill not your son.  Harm him not thus.
Take this sheep upon the hill;
It is sent to you from the King of Bliss,
Who faithful always to you has been.
He bids you make an offering of this
Here at this time, and save your son.

I love that Lord with heart entire,
That in his love this gift has lent:
To save my son, my darling dear,
And sent this sheep for this intent:
That we shall offer it to Him here.
So shall it be, as You have meant.
My son, be glad, and make good cheer;
God has to us good comfort sent.
He wishes not that you be dead,
But all his laws to keep,
And, see, son, in your stead,
To us God sent a sheep.

To make our offering at his will,
All for our sake he has it sent.
To love that Lord I think is well,
That to his servants thus has meant.
This death I would have taken still,
And gladly, Lord, to your intent.

Ah, son, your blood he would not spill;
Therefore this sheep to us He sent.
And I am so glad, son,
Of our luck in this place.
But let us go home again,
And worship God, for his grace.

Abraham!  Abraham!

			Lo, here, indeed.
Listen, son:  some salving of our sore.

God says you greatly shall succeed
For this good will in which you were.
Since you for him would do this deed-
To kill your son, and not to spare-
He means to multiply your seed
On every side, as he said ere;
He also pledges this:
Your seed also shall rise,
Through the help of him and his,
Over all your enemies.

So love him; this is his behest,
And loyally live by all his law,
For in your seed all may be blessed
That shall be born, by night or day.
If you in him will place your trust,
He will be with you, ever and ay.

If we but knew, it would be best,
How to work his will each day.

Father, that shall be gained
Through wiser men than we.
To do it we'll not disdain,
Indeed, after our degree.

Now, son, since we this well have sped,
That God has granted me your life,
It is my will that you should wed,
And take a woman for your wife.
So shall your seed spring and be spread
In the laws of God, through all your life.
I know where she is located
Whom you shall wed, and without strife:
Rebecca, that damosel,
Whose father now is gone:
The daughter of Batuel,
Who was my brother's son.

Father, as you please my life to spend,
I shall assent unto the same.

One of my servants I now shall send
Unto that girl to bring her home.
The swiftest way we now shall wend.
My children, you are not to blame
If you think a long time we did spend.
Gather our gear, in God's great name,
And go we home tonight
Even unto Barsabee.
God that is most of might
Guide us, and with you be.

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