Hamor’s First Job
(Hamor is Hebrew for Donkey)
A Story based on Mark 11:1-11

(c) Copyright 2005 Rev. Bill Versteeg

 Story Teller's Note:  In this story, Hamor says what all donkey's say “ee-aw."  Teach the children to say it as a donkey would.  The "ee" is said as the donkey breaths out through both mouth and nose, the "aw" is said as aid is breathed back in through the mouth.  Saying "ee-aw" like a real donkey is more difficult and the children will find it an exciting challenge.

Hamor’s mother was off to work again. Hamor missed her. Every time she left was another day he would have to stand at home and wait for her to return. People would walk by and say “Hi Hamor!” He would perk up his ears and pull back his upper lip as if to smile “Hi to you to!” Sometimes other donkeys would walk by doing their everyday work, enjoying the scenery and the company. Quickly Hamor would suck in a breath and blow it out again making the “ee-aw” sound that donkey’s make. The greeting was also a wish, a wish that he could be out there working to.

But he was young, “to young” his owner argued to be facing the tasks of the real world, too young to carry the loads of grain to the Jerusalem temple to feed the animals there who were sold for temple rituals. He would have to sit a wait, tied to the door of his stall, till his mother returned from work outside of the town of Bethphage. He would get a little milk from her and they would graze for a while under the watchful care of their owner. Besides the owner figured, his donkey could live up to 50 years, why wear him out when he is young.

So Hamor stood waiting, all day long. Day in day out, he waited for his mother, patiently, like only donkeys can be patient. As the heat of the day increased, the little air pockets in his fir would keep him cool. When flies came to rest of his back, he would swat them with his long flyswatter tail. But even donkeys would warm up in the heat of the day, and when it did, Hamor would do what all donkeys do, wag their ears back and forth. You see a donkey’s ears are his air conditioning system. To each of his long ears there are many blood vessels, and when he waved his ears in the wind, the blood cools, cooling his whole body. And so, it wasn’t too hard to wait, day in day out, for his mom to come home every night, for a drink of milk and some more food. This was something he could endure. But he would rather be working. His body, now two and a half years old had already developed lots of muscles and he really really wanted to put them to work.

“A little longer,” his master would say noticing that the small donkey wanted to go to work with his mother. Every day, it was “a little longer.” His day would come, and Hamor was determined to be ready for it.

Once again, his mom had to go to work, and all Hamor could do was stand around and wait and smile a “Hi” to people who walked by and a “ee-aw” for his friends. The day started like all the others.

But just after lunch, as the heat of the day just started to arise, some men walked right up to him. He did the usual - ears up, upper lip pulled back “Hi, how ya doin.” They did not call him by name, they simply untied the rope that kept him attached to the gate. As quickly as his ears had popped up to say “Hi”, now they fell back and with his mouth open, he was about to say “ee-aw” in complaint, but then the neighbors boys came to his defense.

“What are you doing untying Hamor’s rope?” they asked, wondering who in the world these people thought they were. It was good to have friends, Hamor thought to himself. His upper lip pulled a smile as they spoke.

‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”

The Lord. These words were strong words, a name with authority. An authority that no one questioned. If the Lord needs it, the Lord gets it. And if the Lord promises something will be returned, it will be returned. His friends in the neighbourhood stood back, and before Hamor knew it, he was on his way to his first job.

He wondered what it would be, with these strange men he did not know. Would he be, like his mother carrying something for the offerings in the temple? He did not know. If it was OK with his friends, it was OK for him. He followed the men out of town on the road from Bethphage to Jerusalem. He knew this was the way his mom walked everyday with a load on her back for the animals in the temple.

Hamor and the men came up to a crowd. Everybody looked at him, like he was suddenly the donkey of the hour. So Hamor, with his head held high walked into the crowd with the man until he came to the center - and there waiting for him, he saw it, he knew it - there waiting for him was the Lord, who needed him.

Quickly, coats and cloaks were put on Hamor’s back to make a comfortable saddle. And the Lord was lifted onto him. With a tap on his side, Hamor started walking where his mother always walked, on the way to Jerusalem, with the Lord on his back.
The crowd went with them, and to Hamor’s amazement, they threw their coats on the ground, they placed palm branches on the ground so that he would have a soft cushion to walk on. And in shouts, they sang

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
"Hail to the King of Israel."

This was a stiff load to carry. These coats with the Lord on top. But Hamor hardly noticed. What he noticed more than anything else was that he was the center of attention for a whole crowd of people. He with this load on his back was the parade of the day! People everywhere around him were bowing, placing branches on the ground, dancing and singing about the person sitting on his back. If this is what it meant to go to work, he loved it. He loved the attention. He basked in the love. And because he was doing it for someone called “the Lord,” he did his very best to give a smooth strong ride. He could tell his muscles were ready for this. It felt like he was doing everything he was meant to do in just carrying this one man to Jerusalem.

As they were coming closer to Jerusalem, the crowd seemed to get more and more excited. Another group came from Jerusalem. Hamor’s owner and mom was among them. Hamor’s mom said in a “ee-aw” kind of way - “What are you doing? Hamor, you’re not ready to work yet!” But Hamor responded “The Lord needs me and I want to be where he needs me.” Or maybe that’s what they said in their “ee-aw” language - the truth is I can’t understand donkese. Hamor’s mother had one her work bringing supplies for the offerings in Jerusalem. She stood back, let the parade pass and then followed behind, wondering where this procession was going, wondering how well her son would do carrying this heavy load.
As they entered Jerusalem and came toward the temple, Hamor stopped, he stopped the whole parade. He sensed danger, and so he folded his ears back, opened his mouth and showed his bristling white teeth, hoping the danger would go away. But even though he did not know what the danger was, his sense of danger would not go away. Some men tried to move him on, to keep him walking but he refused. Donkeys like to think about danger and plan a way to deal with it before they walk into it. Hamor had no plan. He refused to walk - that is until the Lord, on his back whispered in his ear “I have a plan.” Only then did Hamor walk forward, but his ears were still back, his teeth still showing. People in the parade gave him a little distance. The hooves of a frightened donkey can be dangerous.

They came to the temple. The sun had just set. The sky would quickly go dark. The Lord placed his hand on Hamor’s neck, by it said “Thank you!” and then he walked away into the temple. Hamor was ready to wait for him, but soon his owner came and reminded Hamor and his mother that it would be a long walk back to Bethphage and tomorrow would be another day of work - this time for both of them.

The next day, Hamor was awoken early in the morning. Now he too would carry loads of grain into Jerusalem, to the temple to supply food for the animals and grain sold for the offerings. “It’s my life’s purpose to carry these offering supplies.” Hamor thought. Little did he know that it would not be long before the offerings in the temple would stop, and the reason why was because on that one day, his first day on the job, Hamor had carried the offering itself, the once and for all offering, the offering that would take the place of all the other offerings. He had carried the Lord, as an offering, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, on his back, to the place he would die for our sins. Later in his life, Hamor would have to find another job, like helping to carry sick people, or carrying food for hungry people. But he would never forget the day, that he got to carry the Lord.

The passage on which this story is based:

Mark 11:1-11

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”
4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest!”
11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.


(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

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