The Field of Two Brothers


(A retold folktale)

Long, long ago in the land of Israel, there lived two brothers who loved each other very much. They were poor wheat farmers, and they shared but one field, which yielded very little harvest during the year. The younger brother lived on one side of the field in a two-room house with his wife and children, and the older brother lived alone in a one-room house on the opposite side of the field.

One night during harvest-time, the older brother awoke suddenly. He sat up in his bed, thinking, It’s not fair that I should receive an equal share of the wheat with my brother. He should have a greater share because he has a wife and children to feed besides himself. It must be very difficult for him, yet he never complains.

So the older brother got up from his bed, dressed, and went out to where he kept his wheat. It took him several trips across the dark field to carry a goodly portion of his wheat to his brother’s wheat pile. When he returned home, he slept peacefully the rest of the night.

Later that same night the younger brother awoke suddenly. He sat up in his bed, thinking, It’s not fair that I should receive an equal share of the wheat with mybrother. I have a wife and children. When I grow old, I will have someone to care for me, to provide food for me. My brother has no children. When he grows old, he will be alone. He should have the greater share of the wheat so that he can sell some of it to provide for his old age.

So the younger brother got up from his bed, dressed, and went out to where he kept his wheat. It took him several trips across the dark field to carry a goodly portion of his wheat to his brother’s wheat pile. When he returned home, he slept peacefully the rest of the night.

The next day each brother looked in amazement at his own pile of wheat, only to discover that it had not diminished!

The brothers again worked in the field, divided the wheat, and added wheat to each other’s pile during the night. And so it continued for many nights during the harvest.

One night as the older brother was carrying his wheat across the field, he saw his younger brother carrying his wheat across the field. They stopped and looked at each other and at what the other one was carrying. Then they understood why the wheat piles never grew smaller. They both realized how much they loved and cared for each other.

The brothers dropped their bundles of wheat to the ground, ran to each other, and embraced.

God saw the love that these brothers had for each other. He blessed their field, and the field became more and more fertile. The brothers grew much wheat together, enough for both to live on when they grew older.

[illustration] Illustrated by Shauna Mooney