StoryRhyme After Dark: Eve's Unequal Children

“This is a little known work in German by the Grimm brothers. A Bible tale rather than a fairy tale. I've done my own translation into contemporary English. It makes a beautiful philosophical point and a nice piece for the Christmas season.” -- Harry

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Eve's Unequal Children
By Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Translation by Harry Buschman

When Adam and Eve were driven from paradise, they were forced to build a house for themselves on barren ground somewhere east of Eden. Life was hard and they earned their bread by the sweat of their brow. Adam hoed the field, and Eve spun the wool, and every year Eve brought a child into the world. Some were beautiful – some were ugly.

Many years later God sent an angel to them, announcing that He himself was coming to visit their household. Eve, delighted that the Lord could be so gracious and forgiving, cleaned her house diligently, decorated it with flowers, and even swept out the corners. Then she brought in her beautiful children. She bathed them, combed their hair, put clean shirts on them, and cautioned them to be polite and well-behaved in the presence of the Lord. They were to bow down before Him courteously, offer to shake hands, and answer His questions modestly and intelligently.

She didn't want God to see her ugly children, however. She hid one of them beneath the hay, another in the attic, the third in the straw, the fourth in the stove, the fifth in the cellar, the sixth under a tub, the seventh behind the wine barrel, the eighth under an old animal hide, the ninth and tenth beneath the rags from which she made their clothes, and the eleventh and twelfth under the leather from which she made their shoes.

There was a knock at the front door. Adam looked through a crack and saw it was the Lord himself. He opened the door and the Heavenly Father entered. There stood the beautiful children all in a row. They bowed before Him, offered to shake hands, and knelt reverently.

The Lord blessed each of them. He laid his hands on the first child, saying, "You shall be a powerful king," He did the same to the second, saying, "You a prince," to the third, "You a count," to the fourth, "You a knight," to the fifth, "You a nobleman," to the sixth, "You a burgher," to the seventh, "You a merchant," to the eighth, "You a scholar." Thus He bestowed His richest blessings upon them all.

When Eve saw the Lord had been so generous, she thought, "I will bring forth my ugly children, perhaps He will bestow His blessings on them too." So she ran and dug them out of the hay, the straw, the stove, and wherever else she had hidden them. In they came, the whole coarse, dirty, scabby, sooty lot of them.

The Lord smiled, looked at them all, and said, "I will bless these children as well."

He laid his hands on the first and said to him, "You shall be a peasant," to the second, "You a fisherman," to the third, "You a smith," to the fourth, "You a tanner," to the fifth, "You a weaver," to the sixth, "You a shoemaker," to the seventh, "You a tailor," to the eighth, "You a potter," to the ninth, "You a teamster," to the tenth, "You a sailor," to the eleventh, "You a messenger," to the twelfth, "You a household servant, all the days of your lives."

When Eve heard this she said, "Lord, how unequally you divide your blessings. All of them are my children, whom I have brought into the world. Shouldn’t you favor them all equally."

God replied, "Eve, you do not understand. It is right and necessary that the world should be populated by your children. But if they were all princes and lords, who would plant grain, thresh it, grind and bake it? Who would forge iron, weave cloth, build houses, plant crops, dig ditches, and make clothing? Each shall stay in his own place, so that one shall support the other, and all shall be fed equally."

Then Eve answered, "Oh, Lord, forgive me, I spoke too quickly. Let your divine will be done with my ugly children as well."

Translation (c) 2010 Harry Buschman


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