00 Prologue

00 Prologue

895 BC

Keslote, Issachar, Israel

Can I go with Ahab, Daddy? Can I?” Obadiah looped his arm in little Ahab’s elbow, so they both peered up into his father’s face. “To cheer the troops.”

Obadiah’s father slid his pruning saw into its shoulder sheath. “I don’t want a Philistine arrow in my son’s chest.” He patted Ahab on the head. “Or in the commander’s son either.”

“But we’ll be right back. Ahab’s father’s gonna slice the heads off those Philistines before they know the Hebrews have arrived.” Obadiah swung an imaginary sword to decapitate the pear tree his father was pruning. “Like this!”

His father glanced at Ahab’s house across the path. “The commander’s got his hands full. I doubt he wants to watch over his son or mine. Have you asked?”

Obadiah flipped around. Dragging Ahab by the wrist, he dashed down the alley, between picketed chariot horses, and across the path. At Ahab’s house, he held the ladder and pushed his friend toward the first rung. “Go. Go. Your father’s gotta say yes.”

A few moments later, Obadiah stood on the veranda gazing into the face of Ahab’s father, Commander Omri.

“You don’t understand.” The commander shook his head. “Gibbethon’s a long hike. And there’s no giant waiting to be brought down by little boys with stones and a sling.”

Ten days later, Obadiah stood with Ahab next to sacks of beans and barley in a big slow cart that rumbled through the ruts behind two ponderous oxen called Balzac and Boaz. From the path beside them, the commander’s cook, a muscular man with a short red beard, guided the oxen by dangling the tip of a long switch near their noses.

As they crossed the Plain of Esdraelon, Obadiah leaned against the wall of the cart. When they climbed out of the Jezreel Valley, he folded his arms atop the wall and laid his head on his arms. And let the cart rock him.

The cook said something about bringing boys to battle.

Firm hands laid Obadiah across two vibrating, rocking sacks next to Ahab and tucked his robe around him.

When he woke, the cart rested in the dark, touched by the sounds of troops building fires and leveling spots for bedrolls.

The cook fed them cold bread and hot beans.

Obadiah and Ahab slept in the cart because it was warmer than the ground.

The next day Obadiah stayed awake the entire trip.

While the sun still hung high over the Great Sea, the ox cart rolled into a village. Yet, the verandas held no villagers. Instead, Hebrew troops called to the cook. In the courtyards, troops leaned on the gates and tended cooking fires.

The cook stopped the oxen at the largest house.

In the broad courtyard, the commander rose from his seat under an acacia tree with a few chariot captains. He stood, opened the gate for the boys, and tousled Ahab’s hair. “I saved you a room and a rug.”

Obadiah climbed the ladder to the veranda and followed Ahab and the cook along the outer passageway to the back of the house. The cook opened the door to a small room. “Looks like you’ve got a nice thick rug. Pray it has no bugs.” He left them.

That evening, Obadiah and Ahab sat near the center of the veranda with the commander and the captains on their left and the commander’s bodyguards on their right. The cook gave them fresh pitas with their beans.

The next day, the commander sent a soldier with Obadiah and Ahab to a hillock with an ancient sycamore for shade.

Shouts drifted in on the breeze.

The soldier pointed to distant city walls surrounded by Hebrew troops. “Gibbethon.”


Obadiah and Ahab – 1 Kings 18:3

Keslote – Joshua 19:18

Shepherd boy slays giant – 1 Samuel 17

Israel army at Gibbethon – 1 Kings 16:15

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