Eulogy for Simeon Bar Israel
To Be Read at Entombment Services
(It is unlikely there will be many present. Most of his friends are gone too. If you want lots of people at your funeral...you should die young.)
Author: A Neighbor and Friend
Born: Unknown Date, Unknown Place
Death Season: Spring of 5 B.C., Just Before Passover:
Location: Jerusalem, Israel, Palestine
Today we gather to mourn the passing of Simeon Bar Israel. He was a good man and all who knew him will miss him. Especially me.
Simeon Bar Israel was born a long time ago. Like all babies, he entered this world through the travail of his mother and his own wails and cries. Like many of our era, the exact date of his birth or the exact location is unknown.
He was circumcised on the 8th day according to the law of Moses and named: Simeon: He who Hears. “The One Who Pays Attention”.
He went to rabbi school as a boy, then went on to a career as a laborer, earning his roof and roots by the sweat of his brow. He was betrothed, married and raised a family.
When asked how old he was, he would smile, laugh and say one of the following lines.
· I’m so old, my birth certificate is in hieroglyphics.
· I’m so old, I can remember when rainbows were in black and white.
· I’m so old, if I acted my age, I’d die.
· I’m so old, when God said let there be light…I flipped the switch.
· I’m so old, when I was born the Dead Sea was only sick. (George Burns)
· I’m so old, my first job was Cain and Abel’s baby sitter.
When asked what the key to his long life was, he’d say “Keep Breathing.”
He was very active at temple, especially during his senior years and after his wife’s death. He loved the Torah. True to his name, he listened to people more than talking about himself. When asked why that was he’d smile and quote Ecclesiastes saying, “The writings say ‘God is in heaven. You are on earth. So let your words be few. Enough said.” He attended faithfully the Men’s Ministry night and the grief support group, as well as the mid-week prophetic studies class. He never missed a holy day and he kept Sabbath with great devotion.
He was preceded in death 4 years ago by his wife of 63 years, so at the end he lived alone. He enjoyed the visits during festival days from his sons and daughters and his many grandchildren… all of whom live out of town, too far for regular attentive visits. I was his neighbor, one of the few locals that would look in on him every day; picking up his written message when he could no longer walk into town, milking his lone goat when his hands got too weak and taking him daily servings of bread, dates, honey and vegetables to keep meat on his bones. (I also brought him new wine, when in season.)
He developed a reputation for madness the last few years however. One day in the prophecy class he said, “I’m not going to die until I see the Anointed One.” We all figured he had suddenly slipped from the land of the coherent. He insisted that he’d seen a revelation, but there was no proof of that…so we just said “Sure, Simeon. Whatever.” And we figured it wouldn’t be long that natural causes would take their course. He was no longer the robust man he once was. He’d become quite frail. No one lives forever. And the Messiah is coming….Soon. But how soon is soon? No one knows. “Sure, Simeon. Whatever you say.”
Well last Autumn, as the days grew shorter and cooler, Simeon came home from temple very excited. He stopped at my house and babbled on about what had happened that very day. “A couple. A baby. Doves. Rising. Falling. A sign to be believed or opposed. Piercing swords.” To tell you the truth, it was quite the rambling testimony. . I just figured at the time that he hadn’t had his medicinal tea that morning. I almost called the doctor.
I couldn’t make out precisely the words or the meaning…and it was hard to hear what he was saying on account of his weakened voice. The “daughters of song” sang very slowly in his throat during his final days, if you know what I mean (Ecclesiastes 12:4). And I couldn’t have my face too close to his for very long…on account of his bad breath. It was almost like he was already dying…from the inside out.
I did catch the phrases: “Now, the Lord can let me die in peace…according to Your word. My eyes have seen the Savior. The Child. The Messiah.” He’d pray that prayer over and over again. I wrote it down so I could remember it. I still think it may have been a senior moment, though.
He made it through the coldest days all right. – He was really looking forward to the next holiday – Passover. He didn’t get out of bed much this past winter. I’d come over to sit with him and he’d prattle on about the Exodus. How the Messiah would be greater than Moses and things like that. He said that “The Lamb of God” would save us all from death, just like the lamb’s blood in Egypt. He said soon…very soon…we’d all be free from our slavery to sin. I don’t figured he was that much of a sinner. I mean, how bad can such of an old man be? But it gave him peace to believe that.
He got weaker and weaker. His family came to keep vigil and they took over the care of his final weeks. They graciously let me come over. I’d sit and sing to him. It was at least something.
And then…he acted his age. He stopped breathing. It was very peaceful. Like the blowing out of a candle. (Exhale Air) He was gone. He was finally - in peace – just the way he had prayed to be!
Simeon Bar Israel passed away on the 5th day of this past week, peacefully in his own bed. He had a smile on his face, and his final words were “I saw him. I held him. The Light of the Gentiles. The Glory of Israel.”
God - the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; The God of Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel - by His sovereign grace, has laid Simeon to rest. He has entered the sleep of death. We look forward to the coming day, as Job anticipated, that will find him in NEW flesh…and in that state…he will see God…again. (Remember, he’d been claiming for the last 6 months or so to have seen God already.) It is the reality of the truth of the resurrection of the dead that gives hope and comfort to us today.
Our lives have been enriched because we have loved and have been loved by Simeon. He has been a Son, Brother, Cousin, Nephew, Uncle, Husband, Father, Grand-pa, Student and Friend! He enriched the lives of so many people and he will be truly missed. May God bless us with His comfort and His peace this hour.
O. Kris Widmer
Copyright: December 8, 2016