Ethel's Writing's


Joseph’s Donkey


Joseph a carpenter from Nazareth hooked me up to the brand new cart, and filled it with plows and all the other heavy equipment that he had made. “We will take a longer trip this year, Ashan.” He tied sacks filled with smaller goods on the backs of the six, pack-mules he had rented from the blacksmith. We traveled all the way around the Sea of Galilee stopping in different towns and villages along the way to sell the merchandise.

The sacks were empty and only two sets of hand carved oars were in the cart when we arrived in Bethsaida at the end of the week. Joseph didn’t have to direct me to Zebedee the fisherman’s house. We always ended our excursions there.

Zebedee came out to the cart and looked the oars over. He felt the smoothness of the wood. “These are the finest oars I have ever owned,” The dreaded words came as usual, “Come fishing with me tonight while I try them out Joseph. You can return to Nazareth with fresh fish tomorrow.” I never minded traveling long distances or pulling heavy loads, but always dreaded having fish put on my back. How would you like to carry burlap sacks full of fresh caught, slimy, smelly fish on your back?

“I will, go with you after I deliver this wooden cart to its new owner.” When we returned to Zebedee’s home, Joseph put me in the coral for the night with the mules. He went fishing in a boat on The Sea of Galilee all night.

The men came back with a boatload of fish in the morning. Zebedee helped Joseph put the catch into several sacks and started to tie them on the backs of the pack mules. Joseph called me. He put my packsaddle on my back. I held my breath waiting for the smelly fish. For the first time in my life, Joseph told me, “You do not have to carry fish today Ashan. You will carry the new carpet I bought for my house, instead.”

The sun was starting to cast long shadows on the ground, when Joseph walked through the gates of Nazareth once more. Joseph stopped in front of the fish traders hut, and removed the sacks of fish from the backs of the pack mules. Joseph bartered for a while, before receiving a fair price for the fish. He had a smile on his face as he dropped the handful of coins into his heavy money pouch. The mules smelt like fish so he washed them at the river to remove the slime and smell of fish, before returning them to the blacksmith.

When we arrived at his modest home, on the other side of town, he took the carpet and packsaddle from off my back. “That was a successful trip we had this week, Ashan,” Joseph said as he rubbed a favorite spot behind my long, floppy ears. He reached into the bin, for my usual portion of oats and filled my bucket with fresh cold water. “I have to hurry or I will be late.” He held out a carrot. “Mary’s father is expecting me.”

Joseph was all excited and shared the good news with me, when he arrived home later that night. I was what you would call his sounding block. He told me everything that was on his mind. He never had to worry about me gossiping, because most donkeys don’t talk. He told me, “I will start to build a new room onto my house tomorrow. Mary and I are getting married. She is so beautiful.”

Joseph spent all his free time building the room for his bride. I noticed something different about Joseph. His mind wandered and some times, he had to cut a board twice before he had the right measurement. He hit the wrong nail twice and had two black fingernails. This was most unlike him.

“Mary has gone to visit her cousin Elisabeth, for a few months,” Joseph said, when he came home one day. “I will miss her.” Joseph seemed so alone. I tried to cheer him up by acting silly, but what could a donkey do. I brushed my head against his arm to let him know I loved him.

The months went by fast. Joseph finished building the bedroom for Mary. He told me, “It is a fine-looking room. I have made a big window where we can sit and watch the setting sun. The carpet you carried from, Bethsaida adds the finishing touch. I know Mary will love it.”

The day that Mary came home, Joseph came to talk with me. I had never seen Joseph so disturbed. He put his arm over my shoulder and whispered in my ear. “Mary is with child. I never slept with her. She said a messenger from God told her she would bear God’s Son. The promised Messiah was growing in her womb.

“What am I to do?” He buried his face in my mane and wept. “The laws of Moses say anyone who commits adultery is to be brought before the priests to be judged. They will take her out and the people from the town will stone her to death. I cannot do that. I love Mary. God help me!

“I know what to do! I will send her back to her cousin, Elisabeth, so that no one will know the truth… I will make the arrangements tomorrow morning.”

The next morning Joseph came to feed me. He looked as is he had seen a ghost. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and put his hand on my mane, then rubbed me behind my ear. “Mary was telling me the truth, Ashan. The angel of the LORD appeared to me in a dream last night saying, Joseph, son of David, fear not to take Mary as your wife. The baby who she is caring in her womb is of the Holy Ghost. Mary will have a son and you will name Him Jesus. God has sent Him, to save His people from their sins. He is the promised Messiah. I went to tell Mary and her father what happened. I made all the arrangements. I will bring Mary home as my wife this week.”

My life changed after that. Joseph did not come out to the barn and share his hopes and dreams with me anymore. He spent all his spare time with Mary. When he was with me it was, Mary this and Mary that. I was lonely for the attention I had before he married Mary.

Mary fed me, my oats and filled the pail with fresh water, every day. She always had a carrot for me. Some afternoons she would take me to the market for supplies. All the people in town scorned her. Some of her best friends crossed the road to avoid having to talk with her. After she tied me to a post, and went into the store, I would hear the women whispering behind her back. Mary is an adulterer… She should be stoned! Some unkind women said she is no better than a common prostitute that walks the street at night…it is a shame what she did to Joseph.

Mary always held her head high with a smile on her face. She knew the truth. When we arrived home, I would notice tears in her eyes. My mane would get wet with her tears. “I never slept with a man. The child I carry below my heart is truly the Son of God. His archangel did visit me. I am telling the truth.” She would dry her tears and hold her head high. “God please give me the strength I need to get through the coming months. Thank you for listening to me Ashan.” She gave me another carrot rubbed me behind my ear and went back to what she was doing. There was something special about her gentle touch.

One night after supper, Joseph came out to the barn, to hash over his thoughts with me. It was like old times. “Mary will be having our first child in a few weeks. Caesar Augustus has told everyone to return to the city were they were born to be taxed. Because I am a descendant of King David, I will have to travel to the Town of Bethlehem, the place where I was born.

“I tried to talk Mary into moving in with her mother. Sixty miles is too far for her to travel in her delicate condition. She refused to stay behind, so I will have to take her with me.

“I will make a special saddle for your back, so Mary will be comfortable. The trip will take us several days.

The next morning Joseph entered the barn with a donkey. “Ashan, this is Harbona. I bought her so she can help us carry some of our supplies to Bethlehem. It is too far for Mary to walk in her condition so she will ride on your back.”

Joseph spent the next two days making a saddle. He carved it from wood and covered it with a sheep’s fleece so it would be more comfortable for Mary.

The day finally came when Joseph put the new saddle on my back. Harbona was fitted with my packsaddle. He put all the supplies needed for the trip on her back.

Joseph lifted Mary on to my back. She sang a song as we traveled along the road. “My soul does magnify the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. He has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from now on all generations shall call me blessed. He that is mighty has done to me great things; and holy is His name.”

 We traveled several miles the first day, and camped under the stars for the night. I heard Mary and Joseph talking about the baby that she was going to have.

“I am anxious, Joseph! How will I be a good mother to Jesus, the Son of God?”

“I am nervous also, Mary.”

“Our God will help us in the days ahead.”

“Yes Mary He will look after us in out time of need.”

The six-day trek to Bethlehem was uneventful. We caught up to some travelers who reported that robbers had attacked them. God protected us. Joseph shared some of our provisions with them along with some coins to bless them. We stopped overnight in cities whenever we could.

There was a long line up at the north gate leading into Bethlehem. Joseph was required to register and pay his taxes at that gate before entering the city. Mary told Joseph that her time was near. The birthing pains had started. The first star had appeared by the time we entered Bethlehem. The streets were crowded and people had set up shelters everywhere. Joseph went to several inns and got the same answer. We are full, there is no rooms left in the inn. With desperation, Joseph begged an innkeeper. “My wife is with child. Her birthing pains have started. She will have her baby tonight. Is there any place where we can find shelter and have some privacy for the event?”

I have a stable at the back of my inn. There is fresh hay to make a bed for your wife. It is clean. I will send some of my servants with food and clean water. You can stay there tonight.”

Thank you,” Joseph said. The kind innkeeper took us to the stable and helped Joseph take the packsaddle from Harbona’s back. He scooped some oats into the trough and filled the manger with fresh hay.

“Call me if you need anything,” he said on the way out the door. “I have to hurry, because the inn is so busy.”

Joseph spread several blankets on a pile of hay in the corner, and helped Mary get comfortable. He offered her some of the food that the servants brought, but she was not hungry. She took a sip of water and fell asleep.

Joseph came over and brushed Harbona’s and my long, shaggy coats. He put his arm aground my neck and started to pray, “God thank you for providing us with shelter for the night. I do not know why your first-born child will be born in a manger. Your plans are always right.”

Later that night, I awoke when a baby cried. Joseph was holding a newborn baby in his hands. He wiped the baby clean and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, then handed the baby to his mother Mary. “Mary, this is our Son Jesus.”

Later that night a noise at the door awoke me. Joseph opened it and spoke to a man.

“We are lowly shepherds. We were tending our sheep tonight when the angel of the Lord came to us and the glory of the Lord shone round about us. We were afraid. The angel told us, fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. This shall be a sign, you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Suddenly a multitude of the heavenly host stood before us praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

When the angels left, we said let us go to Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us. We came right away, and saw a light in the stable as we descended the hill. Is this where the Christ Child is?”

Joseph opened the doors wide so the shepherds could see Mary. The baby was asleep in the manger.

Mary reached into the manger and lifted up the newborn baby, who Joseph had wrapped in swaddling clothes. This is Jesus, the son of God, Your promised Messiah.

The shepherds stood in awe. They glorified and praised thanking Him for everything they had heard and seen, that night.

Story idea, © by Ethel (Hiday) Wicksey

December 9, 2008


All scriptures Paraphrased or quoted from The American King James Version. It says on their web page, (You may use it in any manner you wish: copy it, sell it, modify it, etc. You may not copyright it or prevent others from using it. You may not claim that you created it, because you didn't.)




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