Jemima huddled in the shadows of the stall, doing her best to make no movement. Even shallow breaths caused pain to spike in her bruise ribs, turning to a dull ache that flowed through her young body.
The evening light was fading, and she glanced around, only to find herself staring into the curious eyes of a donkey foal.
For a time, the two youngsters watched each other. Then Jemima spoke. “Hello.”
The donkey blew a snuffly breath in response.
“You and I match,” the girl whispered. “We’re both lowly work servants. But I shall call you Pazia, Golden, because you are beautiful no matter your station in life.” She stepped toward Pazia with her hand extended in friendship. The donkey shied away and stomped her feet.
Jemima sighed and lay back, resting in the clean hay. She distracted herself from the pain in her ribs, singing softly under her breath. “T'rahnaynah s'fatai kee atzamrah-lach v'nafsee asher pahdeeta.”
Jemima gasped and sat up. “What?!” She stared at Pazia with her mouth open. “Was that you? You rude donkey,” she scolded softly. “I was singing of praising Yahweh, and shouting for joy.” As the last words escaped her lips, the donkey once again brayed. Jemima caught her breath. “You are praising with me, aren’t you? You know Who your Creator is!”
They continued the song together. “Gam-l'shonee kal-ha'yom teh'geh tseedkatehka kee-v'shoo kee-chafroo m'vakshai ra'atee.”
A angry voice from the main house interrupted their music. “Shut up out there, you stupid ass! Jemima? Get in here!”
“Do you suppose those who seek our hurt will be shamed some day, like it says?” She stroked the animal. “It’s straight from the Scriptures, you know.” She snickered. “I’d like to see that!” Another coarse yell from the house made her scramble for the door. She kicked a dirty clump of hay as she passed, muttering, “Not like it’ll really happen. Yahweh doesn’t pay mind to ones like us.”
A short time later, when Jemima stepped out of the house to fetch water, she was shocked to see two men stealing Pazia in broad daylight. She screamed, panic clutching at her stomach.
Her master ran from behind her, bellowing. “What do you think you are doing?!”
The two men turned, faced pale. One of them stammered, “The, the Lord, has need of him.”
Master snorted. “Right. The Lord wants an unbroken ass.” His face grew red, and he was striding toward the thieves when he spotted Jemima watching the men in horror, reaching involuntarily toward Pazia. His face turned in a sneer. He nodded toward the him. “Go ahead. Take the ass.”
The men exchanged glances, and one of them couldn’t hide a grin. They turned the way they had come, the young donkey trailing behind.
Her master’s callous laughter gave wings to Jemima’s feet, as she stumbled after Pazia. “Please! Pazia is of no use to you. She is not trained. She’s only a worthless foal.”
The short man turned to her, and she came to her senses, bracing for the blow that was sure to come. But he only smiled, and stroked the foal’s neck. “There are none who are worthless in the Lord’s eyes. Jesus the Messiah has returned to redeem us all.”
Jemima stopped short. The men disappeared into the crowd, but she could only stand like a statue. Jesus the Messiah. She had heard of this Healer--everyone had. She’d even seen Him once. But Messiah?
She did not know how long she stood there before a loud commotion jerked her to reality. A few streets over a huge crowd was shouting, and over the din she could hear, oh no! She could hear Pazia braying. Her small body pushed easily through the crowd.
There was Pazia, marching right down the middle of the road. Riding on the back of the shy foal who would let no one but Jemima touch her, was Jesus Himself.
All around her the crowd was yelling, “Hosanna! Save us! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of Yahweh.” They were pulling their own coats off and laying them upon the dirty road. Palm branches waved, and lined the path with fresh greenery.
Through it all, Jemima could hear the hoarse braying of a donkey. Yet to Jemima’s ears, and perhaps even Jesus’s, the noise was a melody. For she knew it was Pazia’s praise song--a song of worship to the Redeemer Messiah, Himself.
Based on Mark 11:1-10.
Jemima’s song is Ps. 71:23-24, transliterated by Jezreel Cohen.
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