THE JUDGES MONOLOGUES.
THE COMMANDER OF ADONAIâ€™S ARMIES.
THE COMMANDER OF ADONAIâ€™S ARMIES: The Children of Israel are now in Canaan, but they are behaving in a manner contrary to our wishes. There is a want of union among them that arose from their disobedience to the laws we gave them for living in the land, and for which there are consequences. The twelve clans living side by side with tribes who worship idols of stone and wood has led to their apostasy, and that has led to weakness and servitude. Their strength as a nation depends upon their putting ADONAI first and foremost and upon their being united in this. The bond between themselves and ADONAI has dissolved so that each clan has gone its own way, living in scattered cantons with each depending upon
its own resources to resist either foreign invasion or Canaanite insurrection. Their incomplete and murderous conquest of Canaan has left formidable foes not only on the frontiers but also in the heartland. They know our will. They know what we expect from them. We expect them to bring to us in worship those other peoples remaining in this land. We have given them the choice of trusting us and obeying us and in doing so using our power to defeat our enemy who controls their enemies. It is from our Adversary that we would have them save the peoples of Canaan. And now they have embarked upon a war in which separate clans fight against their immediate and proximal enemies. Amorites drive the Dannites into the mountains. Judah and Simeon attack Bezek the king of Jerusalem, killing him and setting alight the lower part of the city. They also capture Hebron, but Gaza, Askelon and Ekron hold out against them. Ephriam has taken the town of Bethel, but the other clans have entered into terms with their enemies. They marry those who do not worship us. Some have married those who have converted to us and they receive our blessing, but they too, put themselves foremost and us second if they are mindful of us at all, for they call upon the gods of the sun and moon to bless them and their issue. They stray from our word without scruple and give themselves up to the
lascivious and voluptuous rites of the Canaanites, incorporating the worship of Ball and Astarte with that of ADONAI the creator of the Universe. There is a decline in faith in us and with it a dissolution of manners leading to all sorts of evil and perverted behaviour. It pains us to see our people causing such suffering and suffering themselves but our Spirit will cause men to arise from their ranks who will recognize the danger they are in and who will try to return the people to obedience to our ways. These leaders they will call Judges who will mostly exercise authority within the boundaries of their own clan. The objective for each Judge will be to break the yoke of the Canaanite religion within their own territories. The generation that entered the land with Joshua passed away before the declension from faith in ADONAI. The outcome of each Judge’s efforts is known only to my Father, and I asked Him from whom I was begotten and who permitted me to create this universe and earth on which men make war with each other; “What is it that you keep from my knowledge regarding these wayward people? All I created I created for your pleasure and glorification and you said ‘Let us make man in our image’ and we peopled the earth. You wanted all the people who on earth did dwell to love, honour, obey, and glorify you. Why then did we not create them in such a way that
they could do no other?” “Do you love me, my Son? “Yes.” “Could you do otherwise? “Yes.” “Why is that?” “Because you gave me a will of my own” “Is that a good thing?” “It is indeed a goodness.” “Then should we withhold such a goodness from the people we create?” “No, it is good that we made them in our image, male and female and gave them freedom of will. But they may not choose to glorify you. They could as Lucifer did, rebel against us.” “True, the consequences of such rebellion will be terrible, not only for them but for you, for there will come a time when I shall ask something of you that you may choose to do or not.” “Will what you ask of me be of benefit to our created beings?” “To the benefit of all should they choose to accept what you will do for them.” “There is nothing I would not do for them for did we not love them even
before we created them?” “Unlike Lucifer, you are a good son. Lucifer will not leave your world and our people alone. He has caused them to be disobedient. We cast him out because he wished to be my son, but I did not bring him into being to be a son. Almost from the beginning he sowed his seeds of doubt and dissention among the people we created, and he has brought about the idols that lead to the worship of himself, and for that reason we removed from them the mantle of immortality from their shoulders so that they cannot in their present state enter into an eternal relationship with us. I have a plan however. You have created this marvellous universe and this earth and for this I am well pleased. “A plan involving those twelve clans?” “Through whom the world, should it choose to do, can once again enter into an eternal relationship with us. Let us send our Spirit to raise up Judges.”
OTHNIEL. OTHNIIEL: It has been said of me that even as a child I was sober-minded. I was not one, nor am I yet one who would rush into any enterprise without standing back and giving due thought when others are careering after those
with ill-conceived plans. I cannot understand why people get excited and passionate about things of little consequence. I watch people leaping about and shouting worship to the gods of the sun and the moon, and slink away at the mere mention of ADONAI, who created the heavens and the earth and who holds the sun, moon, and stars in their places. I see them straying without scruple into the shady groves where the Canaanites hold their voluptuous rites and it sickens my heart, just as I was sickened by the civil war that broke out between the eleven clans and the Benjaminites in which the children of Benjamin were all but wiped out leaving only a remnant in the stronghold of Rimnon. How I ask myself shall these remnants of Benjamin be renewed and the twelve clans brought once again into unity? As I sat brooding on the state of the Children of Israel, I thinking it would be better for them to be better for them to be one nation under ADONAI word came to me that Canaan had been invaded by a king from Mesopotamia who was called Chushan-rishathaim, and that there was no defence against his might. â€œWhat would your uncle have done?â€? asked my wife, the daughter of Caleb, my uncle. Caleb was dead; throughout his life he had been a warrior who
had walked with ADONAI and had entrusted his life to him. “He’d probably ask ADONAI what he wanted him to do.” “Why don’t you ask ADONAI what he wants you to do?” “I’m not sure I want to do that.” “For what reason. You’ve always kept ADONAI’s commandments.” “He may want me to do something that is too difficult and dangerous.” “You’re no coward.” “All I want is some peace to live out the rest of my life.” “This king is a tyrant. What peace will you have in servitude to him?” “I’ve been fighting this for days. I know I should be asking ADONAI what he wants me to do.” “Ask him. Think for a minute. When did ADONAI ever ask righteous men to do anything in their own strength? Never! Whatever He wants you to do He will give you His strength and power to do it.” She was right. I was scared and avoiding the issue, but it took me another two days before on the morning of the third day I went out before dawn into the hills and on my knees, asked ADONAI what he wanted of me. I listened and I said: “Who am I that you should ask this of me?” “Do not be afraid,” came the reply. “It is not that I am afraid. I did not show fear in the battles during the
conquest and in those after.” “I am not asking you to volunteer. I am asking you to be my servant. A servant does not choose what he shall do for his master. Are you my servant or are you not?” It was a long time coming but I finally said: “I am.” “In which case you will do that which I bid you.” “For this task I am weak and helpless.” “It is because you are weak and helpless that I can be with you. Recognizing you can do nothing without me, you allow my Spirit to empower you. So go forth and take Canaan from Chushan-rishathaim, and when he is defeated and has fled back from whence he came you shall be the judge of Israel in my name.” After that what I can say is this, my task for ADONAI was neither simple nor easy in fact it was complicated and at times downright frustrating. The Children of Israel were crying out to ADONAI, for their deliverance but they continued to live sinfully anong the peoples and gods of Canaan. How was I to bring it about that they would live united under the rule of ADONAI? I began with my own clan of Judah, carefully seeking out men who were righteous towards ADONAI. These men I sent out into the territories of
Simeon to the South, Reuben to the east of the salt sea, Benjamin, Dan and Ephriam to the north and west of Judah, to the half clan of Manasseh north of them, and further north to Issachar, Zenulun, Napthali, Asher, and those of Dan who had settled at Leish, and to the east of Jordan where was the other half of the clan of Manasseh. In each of these territories they discovered fighting men who remained faithful to ADONAI. This was the core of what would become once again a united Israel, and I had them gather in a secret place where we repented of our sins and renewed our allegiance to ADONAI, who gave us the strategy that would rid Canaan of Chushan-rishathaim. Our intelligence reported that he had established a series of outposts from which his soldiers and administrators controlled the territories of Canaan. Each of these garrisons we attacked and were successful in destroying those forts that the Edomites, the Ammonites and the Amalekites did not help defend. Such successes had a good effect upon our recruitment. For eight years we waged a war of the fleas, hitting suddenly, biting into their supply lines and razing their forts. With the help of ADONAI we were able to drive the forces of Chushan-rishathaim before us until he was compelled to pass over the Euphrates river.
After that as ADONAI had promised I became His judge and judged Israel in His name, purging their adherence to Baal and Astarte. To the Edomites, the Amorites and the Amalekites now subdued, I sent faithful men to convert them to the worship of ADONAI. Some gave up their gods and some did not, but I was able to enjoy the peace on my land I had longed for.
3. THE SON OF EHUD. THE SON OF EHUD: Following the death of Othneil who had united the clans of Israel and who had been their judge for in a more or less peaceful land, the clans fell into disorder. This disorder during which our people neither paid to ADONAI the honour due to Him nor were obedient to His laws, was taken advantage of by Eglon, king of Moab. His spies no doubt had informed him that there was much dispute and disorder within our political government, and so he had come up out of Moab, over-running the settlements of Reuben, to make his headquarters at Yerach, where, as he overcame each of our clans he built himself a royal palace, indicating that with his garrisons established in fortified cities, that
he was not only king of Moab but also king of Canaan. Within eighteen years he had reduced the Children of Israel to poverty. The misery of this poverty brought to the minds of our people ADONAI, and they cried out to Him in their distress that He would free them from Eglon. Of all the clans it was ours, that of Benjamin that had recovered from the terrible devastation of the civil war and had learned the lesson not to stray too far from the word of ADONAI, that caused ADONAI to visit my father Ehud, son of Gera with dreams. My father was not great among the clan. He laboured in the fields and was well regarded among his peers, for he was thought of as sinister because of his skill with his left hand. He was a man of courage who had fought well in the lost battles with the king of Moab. We had been living hand-to-mouth at Gibeah when the dreams started, and at first he paid them little heed. “I dreamed that we were to remove from here and go to Yerach. It’s difficult enough to live here with what little land we have. In Yerach we would have nothing, and anyway, isn’t Yerach a place cursed by ADONAI for those who live there?”
But each night the dreams became more insistent. “If I am to have surcease of these dreams I will have to go to Yerach.” “The dreams harm you not. We’re better off where we are,” Mother told him. “It is ADONAI who wants me to go to Yerach. I should not resist.” “How do you know it is ADONAI?” “Who else could it be?” “Yourself, maybe. Even the Evil One.” “Be careful what you are saying.” However, after the next dream of which father told us nothing, he announced that it was indeed ADONAI who wanted us to go to Yerach. I would have gone to Yerach had it not been for the fact that I had been chosen and set aside, and had entered the secret brotherhood of ADON’S temple. So while father and mother and my kindred brothers journeyed to Yerach I made the journey to a designated desert area where I received instruction and was initiated into the secrets of ADON’S temple that had been destroyed at Amarna following the death of the Pharaoh who worshiped the one god ADON. Although we worked in solitude we were not isolated from the rest of
Canaan. When we needed supplies there was a rota for who would go to and from the cities of Beersheba and Hebron. I had been with the brotherhood for a year when I and two others went to Hebron, and it was there I learned that the Children of Israel were no longer under the harsh yoke of Eglon king of Moab. We listened to a storyteller in the market place relate how this had come about. “Listen with gratitude to the truth I tell of Ehud son of Gera, a man of very great courage in bold undertakings. He was a man very strong of body, honed by hard labour but skilled in the use of his left hand. In that hand was his whole strength. Under the guidance of ADONAI he had moved from Gibeah to Yerach. “There with his two sons he set about organizing a clandestine movement with those who loved ADONAI. These men moved among the people showing them that ADONAI wished them to renounce the idols they were worshiping, and to repent and to return to ADONAI. “While this was going on Ehud made himself familiar with Eglon the tyrant, bringing him presents. In this manner he obtained Eglon’s favour and insinuated himself into his good opinion, and through Eglon’s good graces he was accepted by those who advised the Moabite king.
“Each time Ehud went before the king he was examined for weapons, and he noticed that always they looked for a dagger on the left side of his person, ignoring his right side. So when the time was right for an uprising of our people against Eglon, Ehud son of Gera put a dagger on his right thigh which those who searched him did not discover and he was admitted into the presence of the king. “Mid-day was the time and it was known that due to the heat the guards were not strict in their watch, and would take their meal at this time. So Ehud offered his presents to Eglon and they fell into a discourse in a small cool parlour, just the two of them together without servants. “Ehud looked at Eglon who was exceedingly fat and wondered where he would strike a mortal blow with his dagger. Fear seized him that he would miss his stroke, and not give him a deadly wound. The king was seated which made striking successfully all the harder.
SHAGMAR: Believe me, if ever it becomes necessary to write a history to hold the Habiru people as a unified nation, I strongly doubt if my name, Shagmar will be mentioned. The reason for this is not difficult to understand. I am one of the despised; a half-cast among the true-blooded Children of Israel. I was accepted only in a small way because my mother was Habiru. My father was an Egyptian whose forebears had come from Egypt after the destruction of Akhanatan, the city built at Armana by the Pharaoh of the same name. They settled in the land of Midian at the foot of Mount Sinai, and when Moses brought the Habiru there out of their bondage my father, who had worshipped the one God under Akhanatan joined with the Habiru of Moses and became one with my mother, and from their union I was born. I grew up in the Promised Land belonging to no tribe, and was made to experience all the sorrows and agonies of an outcast. My mother was sympathetic but adamant in her urging me to become strong and skilled in arms. Anat, my father approved and when on one occasion after I had defeated six of my tormentors with an ox-goad, he took me in secret and told me the time had come to share with me a secret knowledge. "All is not one with the Habiru," he said. "Not so much with the people who are like sheep and can be herded from one pen to another, but with the
priesthood. There is the priesthood of Jacob, established by him during the time when under Pharaoh Akhanatan, there was only the worship of the one true god, ADON. This priesthood comprised those initiated from the Egyptian and the Habiru peoples. Then there is the other priesthood established by Moses through his brother Aaron and the Tribe of Levi who worship ADONAI." "ADON - ADONAI," said I, "are they not the same? I know of only one priesthood that of Aaron and the Levites. Did they fight and wipe out the other priesthood?" "No," said my father, "the priesthood of ADON exists in secret. Now this you must never reveal to anyone, not even your mother, for she knows not that I am a priest of ADON, and you my son, are at an age when you can take instruction into the mysteries of ADON for there is much work to be done for the time of the Latter Days." "Will they take me; a half-cast?" "The Levite priesthood would not take you, but with us ADON does not differentiate between people. He wants all people to benefit from His goodness. I became a novice, and began to lead a double life. On the one hand I became a warrior in the defence of our land under Ehud. On the other hand I,
along with Ehud's son became a priest of ADON, learning much about the worship that had taken place in the great temple of Akhanatan at Amara. By the time I became the General of Ehud's army, he had grown old and fell into a terminal sickness. He called together the leaders and priests and surprised them and myself by appointing me to judge Israel. The majority of tribes in Canaan had been subdued, but we had a serious problem with the Philistines. They came from the coastal land in which Gaza was their capital city. Militarily they were the most organized of the tribes. They never faced us with their entire army, but in small groups attacked and burned our homesteads, taking our women and children captives and killing our men. We, of course, had been doing the same thing to them and to the other tribes, but I was convinced that the ADON had given me another way. I called together all the leaders and generals of Israel. "Hostilities," I said, "against the Philistines will cease. There will be no more raids against their farms and towns." That caused a stir among the generals. They shouted at me in protest, and when their shouting had subsided into mutterings, I said: "There is no use protesting to me. What I tell you comes from ADONAI (here I used the Levite form of ADON) so protest to Him and see where that gets you."
"If we stop killing Philistines," I was told, "they will not stop killing us." "That will be in the hands of ADONAI," I said. "We must obey HIm and the word He gives us." But there were those who believed it was my word and not ADONAI's. "If it were my word," I said, "would I be so foolhardy as to go alone into the land of the Philistines to take them the word of ADONAI? That is what He wants me to do." They were amazed, but still most claimed that I was deluded and would end by being tortured and burned on a Philistine altar. I told them that I trusted ADONAI and would obey Him, but they thought me mad, and demanded to know what I intended to do. "ADONAI wants all people to come to Him in worship. He is sending me to convert the Philistines" "Impossible!" was the word of all. I got angry with them "Listen! Open your ears, and if your minds are shut to the will of ADONAI then open your minds also. God has chosen me to be your judge. Why? Because you persist in your cycle of sin. "You star off obeying ADONAI, then you put all sorts of idols before Him. You become enslaved to the peoples and the ways of these idols, and
ADONAI permits that slavery until the time when you cry out to Him for mercy and deliverance. When he hears your cries he sends a deliverer, and when you are delivered you obey him again, but that obedience lasts but a short time after which you fall once more into sin and slavery. "So, what will you have? Your way to go on fighting against the Philistines, for if you do, let me tell you, you will be doing so in your own strength and you will surely meet with defeat. Or, do you want to be obedient to ADONAI and do what He asks for He knows that if the Philistines are converted to Him, we can live in peace in Canaan? They did not like what I said, but they said very little themselves but from what they did say I detected the rot of disobedience setting in. I went alone throughout the land of the Philistines, visiting their homesteads and speaking to them of the greatness and the glory of the one true God. A lot of these people were reconstructing their homes and their lives after having had them destroyed. Nevertheless they harmed me not. When I preached in the cities, I was often beaten and sometimes stoned, but God preserved my life to fulfil HIs will. Were the Philistines converted. Only to the number three hundred. Each notch on my ox-goad represents a convert.
DEBORAH: It was not long after the death of Shagmar that the eyes and stomachs of the foreign kings looked to their dreams of driving the Children of Israel from the land given to them by ADONAI. There was much dissent among the Levite priesthood established through Moses with the occult priesthood that had been inaugurated in Egypt under Akhenatan who worshipped the ADON, and who wanted to conquer the Canaanite tribes through conversion. Such had been Shagmar's intention but he had not been successful. With the priesthoods arguing among themselves and each man vying for the dominance of his own opinion of what God wanted, it was little wonder that the people they were responsible for came in time to disregard the precepts of ADONAI, and returned to the worship of false gods. Seeing this confusion among the no longer united tribes, Jabin, the king of Hazor seized the opportunity for conquest, sending ten thousand horsemen, three hundred foot soldiers, and three thousand charioteers under the command of Sisra who was triumphant every time the Israelites fought with him, so that in time the Israelites were reduced to a situation where they had
less land and higher taxes. This oppression lasted a long time and was so grievous that the leaders of the tribes sought me in the hills of Ephraim between Rama and Beit-el. My husband, Lapidit, saw them coming and to be hospitable we prepared a meal for them. At the conclusion of the meal, I said: "Why have you come to me?" "For twenty years we have been under the hammer of Sisra and Jabin; we come to you as a prophetess to tell us what should be done." "I am not the judge of Israel." "Then for us you must become the judge of Israel." "You want a woman to judge Israel?" "Left to ourselves we would not have come to you but each of us has been directed to you by ADONAI who says you must be the judge of Israel." "ADONAI has yet to speak to me." "Perhaps now He will." "Retire to your tents. I will pray of this matter for three days and if after that time ADONAI does not speak to me or tells me that I am not to be the judge of Israel, you must depart and seek a judge elsewhere." To this they agreed. I prayed and for two days ADONAI was silent. On the third day He spoke to me, and throughout that day I argued with Him saying
that the Children of Israel would not respect the judgments of a woman. In the end He silenced me, and at the end of that day the leaders of Israel came to hear what I had to say. They stood before me expectantly. I must have looked unhappy for they said: "Well, Deborah, how did ADONAI speak?" "I, myself, do not want to be Israel's judge, but ADONAI has given me this cup and I must drink from it." "Now that you are Israel's judge what is it we must do?" "The priests have brought confusion to the people, and of this sin they must repent, as the people must repent of their worship of false gods. All must repent and return to the protection and strength of ADONAI." "But what about Jabin and Sisra?" "First, the Children of Israel must repent and when they have sanctified themselves it will be possible for ADONAI to free us from the yoke of Jabin. So, go and see that the Children of Israel repent." While they worked throughout Canaan to bring the Children of Israel to repentance and to sanctification, I prayed and the Spirit of ADONAI communed with me as I was unsure of what should be done. There was no sudden revelation of a plan of action. I realized that being a woman, no fighting man would accept me as a General, even though through
the power of ADONAI I would be competent. I said as much in my meditations, but until the day when the leaders of the clans came again to see me to announce that the Children of Israel had repented of their idolatry I had received no indication of what I should do. With the representatives of the tribes before me I heard myself saying: "Send to me Barak who is Kadesh in Napthali." "That is to the north," they said. "It is a long way from here. It will take time and perhaps he will not come." To the leader of the tribe of Napthali, I said: "He will come because it is the will and the timing of ADONAI." I awaited in prayer for his coming and when he arrived I found him not in the least soldierly. He had neither the looks nor the physique or the presence of a man suited to be the General of an army. I said silently to ADONAI: "This is a weak man you have had me bring here." ADONAI's words came upon me: "He is the right man. Give him his orders." "I have word for you, Barak, from ADONAI. His orders are that you choose 10,000 men from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun and you are to engage Sisra the commander of Javin's army and in the power of ADONAI you will defeat Sisra at the Kishon river." "At this Barak stood and trembled. For a time he remained speechless then
his words tumbled out from a shaking voice: "How can I with only 10,000 men even if they are mountain men from Galilee, defeat Sisra who has a force of ten thousand horsemen, three hundred foot soldiers, and worst of all three thousand charioteers?" "Ten thousand of your picking is all that ADONAI will need to hand Sisra over to you." "Maybe that is what you say." "It is what ADONAI says." I watched him wrestle with his thoughts and said: "It is true that neither you nor I could defeat Sisra in our own strength, but I have faith in ADONAI and you, too, must exercise that faith." "I want you to come with me. If you come with me I will go; if you won't I will not go." "If I go with you it will be said that ADONAI handed over Sisra to a woman and you will receive no glory." "I want no glory. I want to get back to my farm and my family and to live the rest of my life in peace." Barak and I set out for Kedish with the ten thousand men chosen from the tribes of Napthali and Zebulun. Spies, I learned later, had informed Sisra that we had proceeded to Mount Tabor, so Sisra rallied his chariots deeming 900
to be all he needed and with his horsemen and foot soldiers he met us at the Kishon river. I looked at Barak and I could see him quaking at the sight of such a force. I thought that in a minute he would turn his men and march off, so I said: "Let's go! This is the day ADONAI hands Sisra to you. ADONAI is ahead of you. See his thunder cloud." And indeed it began to rain and the waters from the hills filled the river and flooded the plain so that the chariots and the horsemen were useless and were forced to fight on foot until they fled under the onslaught of our men. Sisra had quitted the field of battle, and might have survived ha he not entered a house in which he thought there was safety, but there he was killed by Jael the wife of Hever. In such a way did ADONAI bring peace to the Children of Israel whose judge I was for forty years.
6. THURAH. THURAH: If ever there was a poor tribe it was the tribe of Manasseh, whether those who stayed west of the Jordan or who crossed over to the east.
They had not much and they did not prosper well, for like the rest of the Children of Israel they took to worshipping Baal and Astarte in the hope that these two gods would increase the yield of their land. I serve the house of Aviezer, and in particular the son of Joash, Gideon. When Joash set up an altar to Baal and put in the seed at planting time, it was not long before the green shoots appeared and there was much hope of an abundant crop, and indeed this proved to be the case, for great was the harvest. But no sooner had it been gathered into barns than there came the nomads of Midian who not only took what was harvested but also destroyed the produce of the country so that next to nothing was left for the people to live on. Once again as in the past the people cried out to ADONAI for salvation, but for seven harvests and for seven years of Midianite raids they had to suffer. The house of Joash suffered less because of the foresight of Gideon who had us dig a large cavern beneath the wine press in which we stored most of the harvest, there being left a quantity for the Midian raiders to take. Joash attributed our substance to the intersession of Baal and Astarte which he said were protecting their own. I remember the day we were filling the cavern store, Gideon and I working
together. I had straightened from my toil and had wiped the sweat from my eyes and looked to see how Gideon was getting on when I was astounded to see him in conversation with another who could not be seen. I heard Gideon speak: "You say ADONAI is with us, well if that be so why then does not ADONAI put an end to all the suffering we are going through. And another thing, where are all the miracles our ancestors told us of? Are they so many tall tales?" After that he said nothing but appeared to listen until, with a note of agitation he said: "Why me? Why pick on me to save Israel? Is not my family the poorest in Manasseh? And am I not the youngest of my father's children?" Again he listened, and then, in what appeared to me to be great terror, he prostrated himself upon the ground crying out: "Am I to die because I have seen you face-to-face?" And for a while I thought him dead but some dread held me back from going to him and eventually he roused himself. "Come, Thurah, we have work to do." We went to his father's house after we had securely hidden the crop. When he saw us Joash exclaimed:
"Back so soon? Are you sure the crop is properly secured for if the Midianites find it, they will put us all to death." "It is secure as in previous years," Gideon said. "There is something more important." "What could be more important than our survival?" "Listen, my father, ADONAI has appeared unto me and He wants me to destroy that altar to Baal you have set up. It must be razed without trace and an altar to ADONAI put in its place." "That I cannot allow you to do and I will no allow you to do it, for the people will not like it." "I will destroy it because ADONAI says it must be destroyed if the people who cry out to Him are to be saved from the bonds of Midian." "I will not allow it. Baal has been good to us giving us plentiful harvests." "That is ADONAI's doing, not Baal's." "I, your father, forbid you to destroy Baal's altar. Go to your own house and do not interfere with the goodness of Baal." We left the house of Joash, but in the darkness of night we returned and destroyed the altar of Baal that Joash had set up until it was indistinguishable from the dust of the earth, and we set up an altar to ADONAI.
In the morning there was an outcry and word got about that Gideon had destroyed the altar of Baal and the people came and seized Gideon and would have put him to death had it not been for his father who, with authority, spoke to the mob saying that it was a matter to be settled between gods; if Baal wants his altar restored then he will restore it, and if ADONAI does not wish his alter to be destroyed, then it will remain. Joash allotted three days for the matter to be settled. With the passing of three days, Gideon released, addressed the people. "ADONAI has established His altar and now you must repent and follow and worship ADONAI who has promised to free us from the Midianites." And the people repented of their sins and sacrificed to ADONAI. Gideon sent messengers throughout the land of Canaan asking for fighting men from each tribe. I got the impression that he was somewhat disappointed with the response to his request, for only three hundred turned up. For three nights he talked with ADONAI and on the last two of these he laid a fleece which when the dew of the morning was on the land, seemed to settle the matter, after which he organized a cattle roundup and gathered as much grain as he could find and with his three hundred men he drove cattle and carts to a canyon at Ein-Harod where he built cattle pens and store
houses for the grain. This was just before the time when the Midianites were due to make their raid upon the harvests. Gideon detailed men to ensure that the Midianites knew where we had gone and what we had done. And of course they came in great force to teach us a lesson and they camped at Givert Moreh north of where we were. When our three hundred men saw how outnumbered we were their hearts grew faint, but Gideon, with the authority of ADONAI strengthened our sinews, telling us that ADONAI would give us victory over the Midianites. Three hundred was the number declared so that ADONAI would be glorified and none of us could boast that we had prevailed because of our own strength. Gideon divided our three hundred into three companies, giving each man a shofar and empty pitchers with torches in them, for we were going to attack during the hours of darkness. I was with Gideon when we arrived at the edge of the Midianite camp just after they had changed guard. We blew our shofars, and broke in pieces the pitchers and held the torches in or left hands, and we shouted: "fOR ADONAI" and every man stood still in place around the camp and the Midianites were thrown into confusion and panic at the sounding of three hundred shofars and the sight of the ring of fire.
Those within the ring of fire in trying to escape trampled and even attacked each other as they screamed in terror. The remnants who had not been put to the sword by Gideon were attacked as they fled and the Children of Israel drove those who survived from Canaan. The leaders of the tribes of Israel came to Gideon and asked him to rule over them because he had saved them from the Midianites. He answered them: "Neither I, nor any of my house will rule over you. He who will rule over you will be ADONAI, and it is to Him you must remain faithful. Be faithful to Him and He will be faithful to you." To this all agreed. As for Gideon, from being poor, he lived the life of a rich man, for the Israelites paid tribute to him for the rest of his life.
JOTHAM. JOTHAM: If my father, Gideon had been less selfish and more Godly after he had defeated the Midianites, things might have been different. I say, might have been but who knows except ADONAI whether that would have
been so or not? Forty years my father judged Israel and Israel made him a rich man so that he was able to acquire much property and to marry many wives and have many concubines so that he sired seventy sons as well as many daughters. In the years before he died these sons discussed who would be his successor as judge of Israel, and there was much arguing and fighting. From the time Joshua brought us into the Promised land, we had been subjugated by armies from without, but following my father's death we were to undergo subjection from within. His name was Abimelech, the son of one of father's concubines, Drumiah with whom he lived at Shechem, and it was to Shechem we were summoned, and when we came he talked to us separately taking about a month to do so making a case for us to accept him as a leader over us and a judge over Israel. I had my doubts and I said so: "It is not for any man to choose himself or any other man to be the judge of Israel. That is the prerogative of ADONAI. It is He who will choose who will judge Israel." But my brothers, legitimate of the wives of my father were deaf to what I said and were blinded by the power that Abimelech promised each of them, saying that under his judgement they would most certainly become as rich
and powerful as Gideon our father had been. They even gave him money to further his cause among the other tribes. I refused, and with the others, returned to our father's house. My brothers spoke often of what they would do with the riches that would accrue from their support of Abimelech. It troubled my heart and I said so, stating again that I did not think Abimelech was ADONAI's choice to judge Israel. But I was the youngest brother and no heed was taken of what I said. It might be said that my distrust of Abimelech preserved my life when in the darkness of night he arrived with men who were worshippers of Baal and slaughtered my brothers, the legitimate heirs of my father. I alone survived for I was able to hide myself in a hill cave above Ophrah. Among those worshippers of Baal were many of my half brothers from father's concubines who dwelt in and around Shechem, and who saw the advantage of wiping out the legitimate line. When the massacre was over and I had had time to overcome my shock, I came and with some friendly Canaanites buried my brothers before the fowls of the air and the jackals had time to pick their bones clean. From the Canaanites I learned that those in Shechem had made Abimelech their king. I cried out to ADONAI: "What are you going to do about this? Are you
going to allow Abimelech to prosper?" I was in a grove of many different trees where I had buried my brothers and it was there that ADONAI spoke to me of these trees, after which I got to my feet and made preparation to go to Shechem and Mount Gerizim. When I arrived at Shechem there was a public festival going on. This was something I had not expected. I had expected to speak to the city fathers and to deliver ADONAI's warning to them. That would have suited me better, but ADONAI had put the whole population of Shechem before me. I climbed up onto a plinth of one of the pillars of the king's palace and cried out to the multitude below a number of times before the gradually gave me their attention. "Consider well what I say to you, for the message I bear comes from the will of ADONAI." I was surprised at how strong my voice was. "Imagine you are trees who have to choose a leader. So you go to the fig tree and you say: 'Rule over us.' But the fig tree says that it is content to enjoy the honour bestowed upon it by ADONAI, to produce succulent figs. "So now you go to the vine, and you say: 'Rule over us.' But the vine says: 'Excuse me, but I will not give up producing grapes to rule over you. I would be dishonouring ADONAI who made me as I am and with that I am content.'
"So you go to the olive tree with no better success, for the olive too is content with the will and the purposes of ADONAI for its being. "Then, after exhausting all the trees who were contented with the will and the purposes of ADONAI you approach that tree - the thorn - a tree only fit for kindling, and you say: 'Rule over us.' And this thorn says: 'Of course I will take your government upon me and I will be zealous in the exercise of it, but you all must sit down under my shadow, and if you plot to destroy me by fire, I, with fire, will destroy you.' "And at that some laughed but the thorn said: 'This is no laughing matter.' And so they made the thorn their ruler." From the crowd came the cry: "We don't understand what you say. Why don't you speak plainly?" Then said I: "I will speak so that you people of Shechem will understand. You experienced many blessings when Gideon spoke for ADONAI, and all were following the will of ADONAI. But for your own benefit you people of Shechem were to overlook the sin of Abimelech and you joined with him in slaying all of Gideon's legitimate children. Abimelech is the thorn and the fire that destroyed his brethren and if you go against him he will destroy you. You made him king but you have made a flail to take the skin from your backs." And with that I walked away from that forum, and was hunted
for three years by Abimelech. During those three years the people of Shechem under the causation of ADONAI, repented and turned against Abimelech, and drove him from the city, whereupon he assembled a band of brigands and pillaged farms, flocks, grain stores and the vintage, forcing the men of Shechem to hire protection from tribes that did not worship ADONAI. Abimelech learned that the leader of these mercenaries was called Gael, and he had him killed along with those who guarded the vineyards, which he afterwards fired along with the city of Shechem. Great was the slaughter at that time. After that Abimelech set no bounds to his violence and proceeded to take city after city until he came to Thebaz where a woman from a high tower cast down upon his head a mill-stone that brought his life to an end.
8. אין לו שם
NO NAME. NO NAME: I was born at the time a millstone put an end to the violent life of Abimelech. Of course I have no recollection of that time, but when I was
old enough to listen I got the impression that there was relief throughout the lands Abimelech had terrorized. In my school the teacher taught us the precepts of ADONAI, and this instilled in me a fear of his wrath. I could not understand how, time after time, the sons and daughters of Israel could turn to gods other than ADONAI who had done so much for them from the time He had brought them out of Egypt. To my mind it was only right that they should suffer the consequences of their sins until they cried out to ADONAI for succour. "ADONAI wants your total allegiance," the teacher told me. "But surely," I said, "that is not so difficult to give to Him." "You will find it more difficult than you think. I hope he does not test you in order to show how difficult it is." "Am I not obedient to His Law? "You are still a child, and for you temptations are not great. You must take care when you become a man." He would say no more but he tutored me severely in the Law and the precepts given to Moses. It was my good fortune that I grew up during the times when Israel was judged by Tola, the son of Puah of the tribe of Issachar, and Jair, a Gileadite, both of whom were God fearing and presided over many years of peace.
Those were the times I grew to manhood, fearing ADONAI, and honouring my father and mother, and working with my brothers and sisters, to wrest from difficult soil that which would sustain us and our livestock of goats and sheep and cattle. I, along with many others, was of the opinion that we and the rest of the Children of Israel had settled in the most inhospitable areas of the land promised us by ADONAI. When challenged, the Levites reminded us that these were the areas designated through Moses by ADONAI and that we should be careful not to displease ADONAI by criticizing the allocations He had made for each tribe. I asked myself, and no-one else if I was wrong to think for myself against the dictation of the priests and the teachers of the Law. I had enough sense to keep such thoughts to the realm of my own mind. The thoughts were there however, but how had they come to be there? Did ADONAI put them there? I could not be sure for I had come to realize that there were those who used the name of ADONAI to manipulate the gullible for their own ends. Such people had hard hearts. We live in a harsh and hostile environment, and with the stones we take from the semi-fertile gritty ground we build our houses; houses that have to withstand attack for we are surrounded by Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites,
Philistines and the peoples of Tyre, Sidon, and the Jebusites occupy the mount of the Gishon spring at Jerusalem. None of our tribes have been successful in capturing Jerusalem. At the beginning of the peaceful times Tola, having sent throughout the land and the tribes a proclamation that all hostilities towards the non-Habiru tribes would cease and that missionaries were to be sent to these people to show them the ways of ADONAI. Many did come to the worship of ADONAI and we had peace. When Tola died, Jair became judge of Israel along with his sons. It was to Jair I went because a band of marauding Moabites came in my absence and plundered my household and made captive my wife who had been of Sidon but who had converted to ADONAI. I journeyed to Endor where he had his headquarters and I was kept waiting two precious days before I was able to see him, and when I did my anger at the delay did me poor service. In calm reason, he told me: "There are many who require my time, and it is not always possible to see them immediately as they would like. Be content that you are here now." "In my case," I said, cooling down from burning bright, "the delay may mean that my wife whom the Moabites have taken, may have already been sold into slavery, or taken into some rich man's harem."
"What you say may well be true. What is it you think I can do for you?" "You can send a detachment of men to rescue my wife and return her to me and you can punish those who took her." "I cannot do that without breaking the peace pact I have with Moab." "My wife is from Sidon and soon the men of Sidon will come to you demanding that their sister is returned to me." "I will deal with that problem when it arises. My first priority is to preserve the peace. That is what ADONAI wishes me to do." "Even if it means my wife perishes?" "Even so." "How do you know that that is the will of ADONAI?" "Because with each day that the peace lasts more of the non-Habiru tribes come to worship ADONAI." "The men who took my wife do not worship ADONAI" Tola did not answer for a moment and it seemed like he was making his mind up about something. "Do you worship and serve ADONAI?" he asked. "I do." "Then tell me, how according to His precepts should we treat the men who took your wife?" "They should be caught and executed."
"But ADONAI wants them to serve Him and worship Him. How can they do that if we take away the lives that ADONAI has given them?" "ADONAI does not want men like that to worship him." "Bring me the men who abducted your wife. Bring them to me alive and I will ask ADONAI what He wants done with them." "You will give me men to go with me?" "You will go alone." "Alone? And how will I find them? "Ask ADONAI," he said and with that he dismissed me from his presence. After that I spent the most horrible week of my life in prayer, doubt, and deliberation, before setting off alone to follow a trail gone cold into the southern land of Moab. I went from homestead to homestead finding along the way that the men who had taken my wife were renegade Moabites who not only preyed upon the Children of Israel, but on their own people as well. They were led by a one-eyed man with small ears who had by all accounts a vicious mind. It was too much for me to hope that my wife would remain unspoiled. So I journeyed on seeking to find this one-eyed bandit, and with conversations with ADONAI I asked what I would do if I ever caught up with him.
"I'm giving this up, ADON," I told Him. "It's too late to save her." I waited for an answer but all I got was silence. "Do you hear me, ADON? I'm giving it up. I'm going home." More silence. "What were you doing anyway to allow this to happen? Why did you let them take her? You could have prevented that.... Are you there? Have you ever been there?" The night of that one sided conversation I spent in the barn of a Moabite homesteader who was kind enough to give me food and drink, and next morning I set off to return home. As I came down from the hill country and onto the plain I saw ahead of me two people; a man and a woman on foot. Riding my mule I began to catch up with them and I realized there was something familiar about the woman. Hearing me approach they stopped and turned to see who I was, and to my great astonishment and consternation I beheld my wife accompanied by a one-eyed man with the smallest ears I'd ever seen. Upon seeing him I jumped from my mount drew my sword and rushed to kill him, for I could see he had reduced my wife to a sorry state. Her face and arms were bruised and her clothing in tatters.
The man did not move. He just stood with his hands at his sides as if waiting for me to kill him. Before I could strike my wife placed herself in front of him shielding his body. "What are you doing?" I shouted. "Stand aside!" "No! You must not kill him." But the man set her aside and stood before me. "You are her husband and you have been looking for me. Well, here I am. If ADONAI wants you to kill me then so be it." My wife said: "Be careful of what you do. I glared at her. "Is this not the man who plundered my household, drove off my stock, and abducted you?" "It is." "Did he violate you?" "He did." "And yet you do not want me to slay him." "You should not slay him. Has not ADONAI said: 'Thou shalt not kill?'" "That applies only to those who belong to ADONAI." "This man belongs to ADONAI." "How could he when he did what he did?" "Because he has repented and turned his life over to ADONAI who has forgiven him."
"And you? Have you forgiven him?" "I have forgiven him." "And you expect me to forgive him?" "ADONAI expects you to forgive him." "I have had no word from ADONAI about that" "You must not have listened to ADONAI, but to yourself." I looked again at the man wanting to kill him. He made no movement to flee from my wrath. "Has not Moses given us the word of ADONAI 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth' and this man has taken from me more than my eyes and teeth. He has taken the cleanliness of my wife. Justice demands that I kill him." "Justice," said my wife, "is not yours to dispense. If you must have justice then bring him to Jair for the judgement of ADONAI. You should not defile yourself by shedding his blood because you feel aggrieved. It was difficult but I let him live and brought him before Jair where I acted as prosecutor. When Jair asked the one-eyed man to speak in his own defence he stood and said: "All this poor husband has said is true. I am guilty of all the crimes against him, his household and his wife. But I repent of these sins against
him and against others, and I am now a servant of ADONAI. If ADONAI wishes that I should be put to death because of these sins, then so be it. I place myself at His mercy" Jair, after long consideration, said: "What were you doing with this man's wife when he came upon you?" "I was bringing her home." "And after that what did you intend doing?" "I would have come to you with a proposal." "Which was?" "I would bring my band of men into the service of ADONAI, for they too wish to serve Him." Jair said he would consult with ADONAI and the matter was adjourned for two days. When reconvened Jair said: "ADONAI wishes us to choose life. He says that what this man has done was sinful and wrong and that according to the Law he should be put to death which would only be just. However, He insists that we must go beyond right and wrong and justice, and find a way in which this man, and your wife, and yourself, may live in service to ADONAI. So, I am telling this man to bring his men in so that they may become acceptable servants to ADONAI." Then speaking directly to the man: "You will help this man and wife to
rebuild their homestead, and you will be their servant for seven years after which you will be a free man." Then speaking to me: "You have the right to divorce your wife under the Law." I did not divorce my wife. I asked ADONAI for the spirit of forgiveness and He gave me His compassion, and our living has a certain happiness in these uncertain times. I see the one-eyed man each day, and I do not forget what happened, but I choose not to remember.
9. TABITHA. TABITHA: I am the servant of Yiftach, his wife and his only child, a daughter. Yiftach has brought terror into my heart. Perhaps I should tell you something about him. He has become the judge over the land of Gil'ad. His father was called Gil'ad and he lay with a prostitute who gave birth to Yiftach. Gil'ad's wife also bore him sons who when Yiftach grew up drove him from the family home, so that he would have none of the inheritance
from Gil'ad who had become rich. There is a territory known as Tov where it was said, gathered the dregs of society, those whom decent people would not associate with, and it was to Tov that Yiftach was driven. Many stories tell of how Yiftach fought his way to the leadership of these dispossessed people, but he organized them into a fighting force who sustained themselves through violent robbery. Out of respect for ADONAI he left the habitations of the Children of Israel unmolested, but his campaigns against the Canaanites were so successful that they caused the Amonites to rise up against the people of Gil'ad and it was thought that should they conquer Gil'ead that this would be the spark to ignite a general rising against the Children of Israel. Yiftach's brothers found themselves hard pressed and in need of supporting reinforcements, so it was argued if they should enlist Yiftach and his army of outlaws. Two of Yiftach's brothers sought him in the territory of Tov, taking many days to find him, for he knew of their coming and hid himself from their advance. When he allowed them to find him, they were tired, hungry and thirsty, begging for water, food, and rest. It is reported that Yiftach said: "So from
me you want food and water, but you well know that I have nothing, for did you not take from me my inheritance and forced me from my father's house, and now you come to me asking for food and water. Surely you do not expect to receive anything from me." "We come to ask for more than food and water. We ask for your help to fight against the Amonites who will, if you do not help us, bring down our father's house." "The house of Gil'ad is no longer open to me. I care not if it falls. I have made my home here in the land of Tov; a land in which the Amonites have no interest. "The years since my expulsion I have lived without you brothers. In fact, who are my brothers and sisters. Those who live with and follow me." "ADONAI wishes you to save the land of Gil'ad." "Is that so? ADONAI and I no longer converse." "Then seek Him and listen to what He has to say" And so it passed that Yiftach spoke again to his brothers. "ADONAI has spoken to me. I am to lead my men against the Amonites, and when they have been put to the sword I am to be judge over Gil'ad, and these men who have been dispossessed and branded outlaws are to have an inheritance there."
"And what of us?" "You, my erstwhile brothers are to serve me as labourers on the land of my father Gil'ad." "We'll have to take your terms back to the men of Gil'ad." "No! You will decide now and if you are in agreement I will go with you and speak to the men of Gil'ad." The two brothers did not like it but they agreed, thinking that when Yiftach spoke to the others, they could re-negotiate the terms. They came to Gil'ad, Yiftach and his men and they spoke to the men of Gil'ad. "Is it that you want me to be your judge? "Yes, but in whose name do you come?" "I come in the name of ADONAI." All the people of Gil'ad heard this for it was spoken in the market place and they were well pleased. "You will fight for us against the men of Amon?" "ADONAI wishes my inheritance to be restored, and these brothers of mine, should they survive battles with the Amonites, to be my labouring servants. When that is done I will train the men here of fighting age to go forth with me against the Amonites."
"The Amonites are more numerous than we, and their weapons are better than our own. Even with the men you have brought from Tov we may be beaten." Such was one dissenting voice. "ADONAI will permit us to triumph over the Amonites." "For doing that, what will you give to ADONAI." "I will give one from my household to be a servant to the priests of ADONAI." "And who will that be?" "When ADONAI gives me the victory over the Amonites, then on my return whoever comes to greet me from my house shall be come the servant of ADONAI's priests." In this way did Yiftach claim back his inheritance, and his brothers served him in the army and as his labourers. He trained the men of Gil'ad in the way of war and on the night before leaving to fight the Amonites he summoned me. "Tabitha, when I return after ADONAI has given me victory and before I enter into my house, you are to come out to greet me and welcome me home." "But I do not wish to be a servant of the priests." "I am your judge and you will do as I say."
In the end there was nothing I could do. When he went away I cried bitterly each night, and my sobbing claimed the attention of Yiftach's daughter, his only child. "What is the matter with you, Tabitha?" I told her, and said: "I do not want to be the servant of the priests, for it will mean that I will be dead to having a husband and children. Dead to living and being fruitful. But your father says it is the will of ADONAI." "You and I, Tabitha, are the same age. We have both come into womanhood. Are you not frightened of marriage and of bearing children?" "No, it is something I look forward to." She shuddered when I said that. "That is something I dread." I could not understand why she should, but she continued: "It is something I would do anything to avoid. I think you are fortunate to be going into the service of the priests. Now dry your tears and let's have no more of them. Do your duty." So I went about my duties and may ADONAI forgive me but I wished each day that Yiftach would be killed by the Amonites. But the news came to Gil'ad that Yiftach had won a great victory and had chased the Amonites from the land and was returning in triumph. My heart was sore because of the life I was to lose. The night before Yiftach was to return I could not sleep. His daughter heated
milk for me and insisted I drank it. "It will help you sleep." "But tomorrow..." "What will worrying about tomorrow gain you? No sleep" She took the empty milk bowl from me and settled me. I did not think I would sleep, but I felt myself becoming drowsy, and I passed into a deep sleep from which I did not awaken until a day later when I was confronted by Yiftach. "Miserable wretch," he called me. "What is this you have done. You did not come first from my house as I arranged." He had to tell me what day it was. He had come yesterday expecting me to come out to be the first to greet him and welcome him home, but I had not for I had passed a whole day in sleep. "Who was it then came to greet you?" "My only child. My beloved daughter. You, I will sell to the Moabites." He was as good as his word.
JASHER ON IBZAN, HELON, AND ABDON. JASHER: How Ibzan was able to take over the government of Israel's children after the death of Yiftach, ADONAI alone knows. It was to his advantage that he came from Bethlehem, so that those of the tribe of Judah thought he came from the Bethlehem of Judea, and those of the tribe of Zebulun thought he came from the Bethlehem of Zebulun. This was something he worked to his own advantage. Up until this thime the judges of Israel had been warriors, but Ibzan was no warrior. He was a man who lived in his own head, and was content with his own thoughts. When he heard that Yiftach had grown old, and was near his return to dust, Ibzan journeyed throughout Canaan going from tribe to tribe and took the measure of their desires. The consensus of opinion among the Children of Israel was that they wanted most was beace to tend their flocks and to cultivate their land. There was also a occult longing to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh which the gods of the non-Habiru tribes allowed as part of their worship. It is not known by what stratagem Ibzan induced Yiftach to anoint him as his successor, but even if he had not the people of each tribe would have called upon him to be their judge, because on his travels he had promised to bring
them peace and to increase their prosperity. There is no evidence that Ibzan ever sank to his knees and consulted ADONAI as to how to rule the Children of Israel. There is also no evidence that ADONAI called Ibzan to be the judge of Israel. From what transpired during Ibzan's tenure it is highly unlikely that ADONAI approved of Ibzan and of what he did. Ibzan surrounded himself with a cabinet of like-minded men from each of the twelve tribes and he sent them out as ambassadors to the non-Habiru tribes of Canaan, inviting their kings to a conference at a place that would be agreeable to them. They chose Ahiab on the coastal plain. Each of Ibzan's ambassadors remained with the tribe they had been sent to as an insurance for the return of the kings. Much to the consternation of Israel's priestly ruling class, the meeting was fully attended with each king arriving with an armed retinue. Ibzan had prepared a great feast, and on the day following this he began to negotiate for peace which took everyone by surprise; the kings, the rich Habiru land owners and the priests of ADONAI. "What we will do is this," he declared, "Firstly, as you know, many men, women and children of your subjects are prisoners or slaves in our lands. We will release these people to go back to their homes, but if there are those
among them who have through time married with our people and who wish to remain in our territories, they will be allowed to do so. "In order that peace should prevail our armies will stand down from their arms and there will be no more attacks on your cities and homesteads." At this juncture one king spoke: "Do you expect us to do likewise?" Ibzan answered: "This is what we will do regardless of what you will do." "How does that profit you?" "We will profit from peace and will trade with you. You need the metal from our hills, and we need the fruit and vegetables and the meats from your fertile plains." "How can there be peace when your God wages war against our gods? Your God hates us." "ADONAI does not hate you. He wants you to include Him among your gods. And we, we will include your gods along with ADONAI," said Ibzal. "Is this not the way of peace?" There was a recess for food and wine and all that Ibzal had said was discussed as the parties withdurw to their respective tents. Ibzal came under attack: "Have you lost your mind," said one wealthy landowner. "To deprive us of slaves will impoverish us." "You make enough profit to pay a decent wage to our own poor towork for
you." Ibzal told them. "You would leave us defenceless," said a military leader. "And to release all prisoners of war will deprive us of bargaining power to regain our own men who are their prisoners." "From now on, do not consider them as enemies," said Ibzal. "They will not leave themselves defenseless." "Even if the attack one or two of our settlements, to test us, there will be no retaliation." "You have lost your mind." "He has indeed," said th angry priests. "He wants us to include other gods and worship them along with ADONAI. ADONAI is exclusive of other gods. It is madness to go against the will of ADONAI." "And I say that this is the will of ADONAI," said Ibzan. "Once ADONAI is included with their gods He will be able to work in their hearts." "It is hardly likely," said the priests. "What will happen is that our people will come to enjoy the entertainment and promiscuity afforded by these ungodly people." "Even so," said Ibzal, "there will be peace and I am the judge of that. Come, it is time, let us here what the kings have to say." The kings had this to say: they too wanted peace, and the release of the
prisoners and the slaves was acceptable, and they would bear no arms against the settlements of Israel. This would involve a peace agreement. The gods of all tribes would amalgamate thus bringing religious animosity with its death and heartbreak, and sorrow to an end. The priests of ADONAI can instruct the priests of their gods whose priests will instruct them. In this way the peoples can be united in worship and can inter-marry. In this manner was peace brought to Canaan and it prevailed through the judgeships of Helon and Ablon the judges who came after Ibzan.
11. THE OUTCAST WRITER. THE OUTCAST WRITER: I shall probably die in this prison, but if that is the will of Jehovah, then so be it. I am expecting another visit from the Chairman of the Committee of Writers and the Chief Priest. They will ask, as on previous occasions: "Will you recant and turn from your error?" May God help me to answer in truth. I know when they come for my guards take me and wash from my body the filth in which I lie, they then clothe in clean linen and take me to a room which does not stink as my cell does. They sit me at a table and there I wait until they appear. I know when these
meeting are to take place because for three days before they do my food is withdrawn and my water restricted. But Jehovah sustains me. They come and they ask their question, adding: "If you persist in your folly you will rot in this prison. Recant and your freedom is assured." "And would I still be a member of the Writer's Guild? "No." "Would that which I write ever be published?" "All that you write will be outlawed. We had trouble finding and destroying what you wrote about Samson." That was it. All my trouble began with Samson. It might have started earlier with the portrayal of the other Judges of Israel, but I gritted my teeth and kept my lips tight. But with Samson, what they wanted us to write, was, for me, the straw that broke the camel's back. The Writer's Guild was formed by the Chief Priests and the leading men of Judah with the aim of providing a history of the Children of Israel that would unite them as a nation under the Spiritual control of Almighty God, exclusive of all other gods, and so we were to slant our writing towards that end. But, when it came to making Samson a Nazarite, my lips loosened and I exploded into speech: "Samson! That reprobate! You want to glorify his
sinning against ADONAI. The oral histories that come down to us concerning him do not support the Nazarite you would have him be. "The truth about Samson can be told in a few lines. He was a selfish man who dishonoured his parents and lusted after Philistine women. He backstabbed their men and stole their possessions until he was caught and stoned to death. And you want him written of as a man set aside by ADONAI." "And why should we not do that if it is for the good of the nation?" said our Chairman. "What good will ever come to a nation that has its foundation based on the sand of lies? When I looked around my fellow writers I knew I would not be supported. "You sit there," I said, "knowing well that these aristocrats that Cyrus permitted to return from Babylon are our masters, and they want us to provide them with a stick to keep the people in line." "We don't agree," said one, taking it upon himself to speak for the rest. "You are of the true blood, how can you say such things?" "Look at what they want written; who is going to believe this story about an angel appearing to Samson's mother, and then to his father?" "Such occurrences happen." "There is no evidence to show that it happened to Samson's parents, or that
they vowed to bring up this son as a Nazarite. They want us to present him as ADONAI's man with no evidence that ADONAI wanted him to be His man." "You are in danger of allowing your tongue to run away with you." This from the High Priest. I understood the implication of his words, nonetheless he spelled them out: "It would not do if you were no longer considered our friend." I trembled. That was a fearsome prospect. My livelihood would come to an end and my family would suffer. The High Priest smiled a cruel smile. "I was sure you'd see sense," he said. "Why suffer, with or without you what we want written about Samson will be written the way we want it written." Had it not been for that cruel smile, I believe I might have succumbed to his reasoning. I knew now the way the story of Samson would be written. He would be presented as a great men and a great judge entrusted by ADONAI with the responsibility of leading the Children at a time of crisis. The Samson whose parents would be given a revelation from ADONAI concerning his birth was born in the manipulating minds of the ruling hierarchy. He would be a Nazarite having to follow three standards: he could not touch
a dead body; he could not shave the hair on his head; and he could not touch grapes or drink wine. Of course he would fall into sin and away from ADONAI by violating all of these standards, but he would do so in a supernatural manner, confounding the enemies of Israel's Children, in particular, the Philistines, attributing his great strength to the length of his hair. This Samson had to have a downfall and this would be brought about by his weakness for Philistine women. His downfall was necessary to show people that inter-marrying with non-Habiru people and worshiping their gods leads only to trouble, sorrow and death. I sat silent as the High Priest and the writers fleshed out this plot. The High Priest said: "Samson must be blinded. He must be eyeless in Gaza for only in his blindness can he see the truth and return to the ways of ADONAI. He must realize that his sin made him blind." One of the writers said: "And when he realizes this and returns to ADONAI, ADONAI gives him back his strength." "That scene," said another writer, "must take place in the temple of Dagon, the Philistine god, which must be destroyed." "With all the leaders and priests of the Philistines there," said another. "And how will he do that?" I broke my silence.
"By pushing the pillars apart." "His arms would be too short." "Then he will push first one pillar and then the other." "There are sure to be more than two pillars," I said. "I will have nothing to do with the stratagems you have laid out for this Samson. They are not credible." "Then what would you have him do?" said the High Priest, a descendant of Zadoc. "I would make Samson a more credible human being; no Nazarite, no foxes, no lions, no jaw bones of asses, and no pushing pillars apart to pull down a temple. If the temple of Dagon is to fall then give the full glory of that fall to ADONAI. Let ADONAI bring down the temple upon Samson and the Philistines." It was as if they had not heard what I said. "We will not write your version of Samson," the High Priest said. "And if you will not write ours, then you will not write at all." Which is why I am in prison, for I went on to accuse the High Priest of denying the glory of ADONAI, and of glorifying the human deeds of Samson. As I said, Jehovah sustains me.