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The Obedient Son


As a wealthy man lay dying, he called his son to his side and told him, "Never swear anything, even if you know that it is true."

His son replied, "I shall do as you tell me, Father. I shall never swear anything, no matter what happens." His father was then content to die in peace, knowing that his son would obey his last wish.

Soon after the rich man's death a man came and told the son, "Your father owed me money. Since he is dead, I have come to collect from you." Now the son had watched over his father's affairs for a long time and knew that the man was lying. He also knew that the man would take him to court if he did not get his money, and in the court he would have to swear to tell the truth. Rather than have to disobey his father's wish, he gave the man the money.

Soon another man came forward and claimed that he was owed money. The son paid him as well. Of course, word spread quickly that the son would pay whatever anyone claimed from his dead father. It was not long before the city's scoundrels had taken everything that the son had.

The son's wife and his two sons were honorable too, and did not ask or tell him to break his promise about swearing, even as they became penniless. His wife merely encouraged him to move the family to another city where they were not known.

They boarded a ship that was bound for another place. Two nights out to sea, a storm broke over them and and the ship was broken to pieces. The obedient son held onto a piece of wood and was carried away from the others. By morning he was washed up onto the shore of an island.

The son kneeled on the beach and gave thanks to God for his safety. Then he walked around the island. Although it was large, no one else was there. He looked out to sea but could see no other survivors of the shipwreck.

As he slept on the beach that night, a voice spoke to him. "Now you will be rewarded for your obedience to your father. Go to the middle of the island."

The next morning he ran to the middle of the island . There was a hillside there with some large boulders next to it in a group. There was nothing between the boulders, but they were blocking the entrance to a cave. It was hard to move the boulders, but once inside the cave he found large piles of grain to eat. There were larger piles of money, gold, and silver. From the darkness of the cave came hundreds of sheep and cattle.

Giving thanks once again, he let the animals out to graze upon the rich grasses of the island. He looked once more into the cave and found tools. With them he built a house as well as corrals for the animals. Day after day, whatever he needed or wanted would appear in the cave except for the family he mourned.

Aftera few months a ship appeared. There were two merchants on board who bought much food from him and sold him some of their wares. As more ships came, he prospered because the cave always gave him plenty of things that people wanted to buy. He never told anyone about the cave.

As the ships sailed about their other ports, their crews talked of an island of plenty that was ruled by a great chief. The ships brought back people who asked permission to live on the island. The obedient son let them work for him, to take care of his herds and gardens. All the workers were paid fairly. The island continued to be at peace.

Among the many people who had come to live on the island were the two sons who were thought to have been drowned when the ship wrecked years before. Neither knew of the other. They had been carried to different shores and had traveled to the island at different times. So many years had passed that when they asked permission of their own father to be his servants, none of the three recognized the others.

One day a ship came and brought a businessman to buy some things from the island's chief. As the businessman was about to leave, the chief invited him to stay for the night. The merchant asked permission to go to the ship and get the woman he had left on it. He was bringing her back to his homeland to marry her.

"Since you do not know the way across my island very well," suggested the obedient son, "let me send two of my favorite servants to bring her. I trust them greatly." The servants who were sent happened to be his own two sons. The rowed out to the ship and began to introduce themselves to the woman. They did not get to finish. It was their own mother, who immediately recognized her long-lost children.

Joyfully, the three returned to the household of the obedient son and the family was reunited. The businessman was an honorable man and immediately broke the engagement when he found that she was still married. He did not want any reward, but was made to accept a rich reward.

"This is the reward that I was told of," announced the obedient son. "This night I have my family with me again in my home."