"Oak of Weeping,"

by Eben


El Shaddai of Israel,

Faithful Shepherd of your flock!

Though troubles round old Jacob fell,

You proved his Refuge and his Rock.

O help us, Lord, in our distress,

to rescue us and save our lives,

when sins and foes around us press

and evils swarm like bees from hives.

Grant your mercy to us now

as we dig our idols down

beneath this oak (in tears we bow)

that grows near sunny Shechem Town.


Delivered from his brother's hand

(the Lord saved Jacob in his guilt)

the fearsome Esau with his band

returned to Seir they had built.

With tears of joy poor Jacob gazed

on two twin mountains in the west;

with thankfulness he limped* half-dazed

(*lamed by the Angel of the Lord Whom Jacob wrestled to get his blessing)

to sacrifice to God his best.

The city Shechem lay close by,

and Jacob bought a piece of land;

his altar to the God Most High

was raised on Israel's own sod.

"El-Elohe-Israel" was

"God, the God of Israel"--

the One who met him near by Luz

now dwelled in Jacob's heart, "Beth-el."

Yet his safe place soon was past,

bloody deeds his sons performed;

from favored neighbor to outcast,

great enmity for him was formed.

Dinah was the start of it,

young and restless she did stray,

and while in town on a visit

poor Leah's daughter lost her way.

Shechem was Prince Hamor's son,

with young Dinah he had his way;

despite the evil he had done,

he fell in love with her that day.

Hamor, Prince of Shechem Town,

took his son to see Jacob;

by a young oak they walked on down

to Jacob's camp, and heard great sob.

All the women knew and moaned

(Jacob still did trust in God);

though his sons beat thighs and groaned,

he would not raise a vengeful rod.

"Give us Dinah," Hamor pled.

"My Shechem's soul full longs for her;

and let my people with yours wed."

And property he made a lure.

Treacherous were Leah's sons,

Simeon and Levi too:

"As water flows and man's blood runs,

As we all are, so must be you!

If you will covenant each man,

then we will make our peoples one;

but if you will not, though you can,

then of this bond we will have none."

Soon all Shechem's men lay sore,

circumcised as Hamor led;

then cries were heard from each house door,

as sons of Jacob smote each bed.

Pitiless, they murdered them,

helpless men they took and slew;

'til streams of blood ran from Shechem,

in anger oxen hamstrung too!

Death cries rose from the city,

heard afar from Shechem's wall;

and Jacob's sons took much booty,

young women, livestock, they seized all.

Jacob stooped by his tent door,

Dinah's brothers entered camp;

strange bleatings, cries, made great uproar,

and asses' hooves did smite and stamp.

Jacob gazed on each his son,

Simeon, Levi, their fears off shook,

and with pride they met his look.

"You have brought on me a sword,"

Jacob said to them alone;

"For now my name will be abhorred,

wherever your foul deed is known."

"Canaanite and Perizzite

hold the land, to the Great Sea;

If they should come, against me fight,

Both me and you destroyed will be."

Simeon and Levi said:

"Dinah is our sister yet!

Should she be scummed on harlot's bed?"

But Jacob's eyes on God were set.

Honor of his name all lost,

Jacob called on Isaac's Fear;

the storms of life that men accost

fall back as Abram's God draws near.

Faithful God of Israel

answered to his agony;

"Arise, and go to yon Bethel,

and make an altar there for Me.

"There you fled from Esau's wrath.

There you met the God Who gave

a light to shine upon your path

when no man then your soul could save."

Jacob rose with thankful heart,

strength and wisdom won from God;

no other Name could grace impart,

nor shelter him with mighty rod.

"Cast away all gods foreign,"

Jacob said to his household;

and instantly all saw their sin,

their breath was gone, hot blood ran cold.

Only Jacob's God could save;

Canaanite and Perizzite

were rising like a mighty wave--

against so many none could fight.

"Purify yourselves, and take

garments fresh and clean to wear;

to Bethel let us go and make

an altar to God's faithful care.

"He is Lord Who rescued me--

Refuge in my great distress;

where'er I go His hand I see,

my Faithful Rock: His steadfastness!"

So they gave him foreign gods,

all they clung to they cast down;

and magic earrings of Ashdod's

with tears fell thick upon the ground.

Nearby rose a sapling oak;

Jacob went alone one day;

He wept and dug, his tears did soak

the hole in which the idols lay.

"Allon-bacuth"--many such

(*Oak of Weeping")

and yet he knew his Shepherd's touch

that led him through the darkest day.

No one dared to fight them now;

fortress cities watched in fear

as Jacob's sons with holy brow

returned to Bethel, hearts made pure.

Shepherd God of Israel

mighty made the least of them;

no chariot against their El

could touch so much as Jacob's hem.