Act One, Scene 2

Segment 2.1


(Mary’s home. The betrothal. Mary and her family, Joseph and Micham, MARY’S AUNT and MARY’S COUSINS are present.)

MICHAM (as they all approach the table): Good? It’s very good. Don’t you agree?

FATHER: It’s a standard agreement.

MOTHER: Oh, it’s a very good contract.

MICHAM: Joseph, present your gift, and make your vow.

(Joseph places a gold ring on the table.)

JOSEPH: Mary, I will betroth you to myself forever, betroth you in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness. I will betroth you in faithfulness. And you will know the Lord.8

MICHAM: The drink.

(Joseph pours from a pitcher into a cup and places the cup on the table before Mary. Silence.)

FATHER: Now, Mary, it is time for you to choose. Joseph is a good man. If you pledge faithfulness to him, he will provide for you and care for you forever, as a wife and mother in Israel. (pause) Drink, and you have a covenant. Put it away, and all is forgotten.

MICHAM: You won’t regret it!

WOMEN: Shhh!

FATHER: Mary.

(Mary takes the cup and drinks. All erupt into joyous congratulations.)

MICHAM: Wonderful! Wonderful!

(Joseph places a ring on Mary’s forefinger.)

JOSEPH: It is done. You are set apart for me according to the law of Moses and Israel. And one day we’ll be married.

[Music cue: “There Are RulesMP3, PDF ]

FATHER (embracing Joseph): This day you shall be as my son-in-law!

(Mary’s Father and Brother exit. Micham and Joseph put on carpenter’s aprons and work together on Joseph’s home while the Women and Anna help prepare Mary for her wedding day. Nephews and Mary's Brother enter to help Joseph and Micham work on the home.)

MICHAM
There are rules for joining of two timbers:
First you find the surest, truest ground.
Then you sink the footing where it always will stand,
And nothing under heav’n can bring it down.

MARY’S MOTHER
There are rules for joining of two people:

WOMEN
First betrothal known throughout the land,
Then a year of raising high a good Hebrew house,
Then wrapping of the hands in swaddling bands.

JOSEPH and MICHAM
Build a house for a prophet,
Filled with law and truth—

WOMEN
A house for a handmaid
Obedient as Ruth.

JOSEPH and MICHAM
Build it firm as a mountain,
A house of faith and prayer

ALL
For the children,

JOSEPH and MARY
Israel’s children,

ALL
Ever pure and fair.

(Underscore continues.)

MICHAM: Well, Joseph, it’s coming along nicely, very nicely.

JOSEPH: I think she will be happy here. (gazing at Mary) She’s beautiful, isn’t she?

MICHAM: Beautiful? Well, so far. Strong bones and good joints. But a good beginning is no guarantee of a good finish.

JOSEPH (sternly): Uncle, I will not have you speak of Mary in those terms.

MICHAM: Mary? Who’s talking about Mary? I was talking about your house!

JOSEPH (abashedly): Oh.

MICHAM: Mary is a beautiful girl, to be sure Joseph. And this house will be a wonderful place to raise a family, if . . .

JOSEPH: If I follow all the rules.

JOSEPH (cont'd.)
Build a house and marriage with devotion,
Follow every rule that God prescribes,
Then observe how the promises to Father Abraham
In me and in my house are realized.

JOSEPH and MICHAM
Build a house for a prophet,
Filled with law and truth—
A house for a handmaid
Obedient as Ruth.
Build it firm as a mountain,
A house of faith and prayer
For the children,
Israel’s children,
Ever pure and fair.

(All exit except Mary and Anna.)

 

NOTES
8. See Hosea 2:19–20.


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