27. Thrill & Commandos (Erma’s CRIT)

A tall boy with cheeks unknown to whiskers strolled behind Gera. Messy brown curls escaped his headscarf, and he bobbed to a beat as if he were singing.

27. A Thrill of Hope

860 BC

The Plaza, Samaria City, Israel

Obadiah turned toward the city gate. “Gera!”

A boy peeked out from behind his friend.

The noonday suni showed the lad puckering as if he whistled a tune. The chatter of the plaza buried any sound, yet the young fellow bounced to a beatii as he passed the geese and the chickens.

A thrill of hope stirred Obadiah’s heart. Did you send this boy, Lord?

The boy’s pace surged on a pulse. The phrase “and my salvation” floated up from him to the terrace.

Gera cocked his head at Obadiah. “The boy gets his love of music from my cousin.”

He placed a callused hand on the small of the boy’s back and guided him up the stairs. Gera bowed before Ahab. “The Lord sends you Mikayhu with a message, my king.”

A message from the Lord? Maybe Yedidah had rescued this child from the Asherah thugs. She never introduced bubblers to Obadiah. “If you don’t know who they are, the queen can’t drag their names out of you.” Would the lad have enough sense not to mention the caves?

Mikayhu faced Ahab with his mouth closed, rising and falling on the balls of his feet while the music flowed through him, and the breeze danced in his hair. He stood as tall as Gera, a head shorter than Ahab. Under his breath, he sang, “Whom shall I fear? Whom shall I fear?” love this!!!

Mikayhu bowed to Ahab, flashed an infectious smile, and sang, “The Loooord is my light and my sal-VA-tion.”

Ahab slapped his knee. “Gibbethon, Biah. Under the sycamore. We must have sung this a hundred times. And you made those high notes ring.”

The boy bobbed his head. “Don’t you just love those words, King!”

Obadiah groaned. Gera could at least have taught him the proper form of royal address. Yet, Obadiah’s skin tingled. Something about the boy gentled Ahab.

“Sing it with me.” Mikayhu hooked an arm in Gera’s then in Ahab’s.

A royal bodyguard frowned.

Gera jerked the boy back. “Sorry, my king.”

But Ahab took Mikayhu’s arm and then Gera’s. “The child means no harm. Wha’d you have in mind, son?”

Mikayhu’s heels rose and fell. “Well, see, Uncle Gera sings bass. Will you help me on the lead, King? Maybe your friends will blend in.”

“Yes, lad. When old Biah was a boy, he could hit those high notes.” Ahab turned the little threesome toward the other two on the terrace. “Join us, please.”

Hiel cringed. “You sing tenor, Obadiah?”

“Used to.” Obadiah took Gera’s arm.

Hiel hooked one long arm through Ahab’s and the other through Obadiah’s.

“A quintet. Even better.” The boy grinned big.

He cued them with, “The Loooord.”

At the first note of “The Lord is…,” Ahab joined Mika on the lead and Hiel on the bass. Gera closed his eyes and chimed in at “my light and my salvation.” Obadiah hit a few pinnacle notes with “the Lord is the strength of my life,” and all four finished strong with, “of whom shall I be afraid?”

Everyone in the northwest corner of the plaza stared, including three dogs and a donkey. Spectators grinned and crowded the base of the stairs, but scowling bodyguards backed them away.

Obadiah clapped twice. Softly. Harmony on the old psalm about the Lord came naturally to Ahab, like featuring the Lord when naming his sons—Held-by-the-Lord and The-Lord-Is-Exalted. Yet Ahab allowed Moloch agents to burn babies and Asherah thugs to run brothels.

Ahab slapped Mikayhu on the back. “Asaph would be proud.”

The boy winced. “All we need is brass cymbals. Now, King, about the Lord’s message—”

Ahab pointed to a table on the terrace. “Look, Gera, it was nice of you to stop by. Please be my guests.” A servant arranged grapes, slices of apple and pomegranate, plus three kinds of cheese. A second table held red wine, spring water, and fresh flatbread.

Obadiah exchanged glances with Hiel. Ahab was stalling, trying to distract the Lord’s messenger. Nice!

Mikayhu bent over the cheeses and inhaled long. “The smell of home, King.” He straightened. “The Lord wants you to know something.”

“Relax, son. Any friend of Gera’s—please.” Ahab gave a broad smile and swept his arm toward the food. Yet in the next moment, he wiped his hands on his robe.

Obadiah took a step back. Ahab was sweating. When the Goatskin Kid spouted “neither dew nor rain” the sky had closed. Was Ahab afraid of the Lord’s next judgment? Nice!!

With one bounce, Mikayhu landed in Ahab’s face. “You see, the Lord says—”

“No, no. Grove business can wait.” Ahab silenced him with a raised hand.

“Ha! Oh my. No, no, King. The Lord’s not talking about groves.” [relevant?]

Obadiah sucked in a quick breath and slid next to Ahab’s shoulder. “Maybe we should hear what the Lord has to say.”

“Not now, Biah.”

Mikayhu fell back a step but said, “Look, King, that vast army of Syrians spread out below us?” [Has this back and forth gone on too long?]iii

Ahab draped an arm over the boy’s shoulders. “Listen, Mika. Chariots and a field full of troops do not constitute a vast army. They’ve got us in a bit of a bind, but Biah and I’ve seen worse.”

“Thank you, King. My big brothers call me Mika.” He looked up with a slight smile. “It feels kinda nice, but I’m not letting you get away. The Lord says. ‘I will deliver this army into your hand today. And you shall know that I am the Lord.’ See, the Lord wants you to know Who He is.” Nice!!

“Yeah, right, kid. Look, you sing real nice. And your uncle does a great job with my trees. But at the moment… I’m not saying I’m worried, but—”


Mikayhu nudged Ahab in the ribs. “You sing nice too, King. And I get that you’re not worried. You’re wondering who should lead the counterattack, and that’s what the Lord sent me to show you.”

33. Commandos [vs. The Warror Princes?v]

868 B.C.

The Plaza, Samaria City, Israel

Obadiah groaned. They needed ten thousand chariots and three hundred thousand spearmen, but Gera had brought them a singer of psalms. A child who thought he heard military strategy from on high. Did he have the heart to tell his old friend Gera he’d goofed? (or whatever – you can write it much better!!!)

Ahab pinched Mikayhu’s cheek as if the boy were his little brother. “Since when does the Lord deal in battle tactics?”

“Oh, he’s been at it for quite a while, King. First one comes to mind is Joshua at the ba—”

“Okay, boy.” Ahab rolled his eyes at Obadiah. “You win. So, who does the Lord say should lead our attack?”

Without looking around or taking a breath, Mikayhu stated, “The young princes who came with the chiefs. They’re your commandos.”

“Those children practicing with their slingshots?” [Are they children or young men? ] Ahab’s eyebrows shot together.

Obadiah reached for the knots bunching at the back of his neck. He had held such hopes the Lord would use this boy, but they had no time for his daydreams.

The old warrior Hiel might talk sense. Obadiah nudged Ahab. “Is Hiel familiar with these young princes?”

A half smile curled Ahab’s lip. “Is that what they call themselves this week? I’ve heard ‘the battling princes’ and ‘junior warriors.’ Our good friend from Bethel needs to understand—sons and nephews tagged along with the chiefs. Martial arts enthusiasts. Are any of them yet sixteen?”

Obadiah exhaled. So, the king saw things for what they were.

Hiel cocked his great sunken head at Ahab. “I may look strange, but I understand more than people think. Besides the fifty who rode in with me are seven who call themselves junior officers. They’re skilled with sword and spear to a high degree. Have a look.” He lifted a too-long arm toward the city gate.

Obadiah set his jaw and led the way. Mikayhu bobbed on one side of Ahab, while Gera and Hiel trudged on the other. Elders and lesser citizens strung out behind.

As they passed the chestnut tree, Mikayhu bumped Ahab’s elbow. “The Lord is very clear, King. The junior officers are your commandos.”

Obadiah turned and winked at Ahab. “I’m sure those youngsters have good hearts and work on their fighting skills, but they’ve never smelled a battle.” As he reached the threshing floor, shouts floated through the gate. “We came at the right time.” [Why does he think so?] Obadiah led them out.

In a clearing on the side of the hill, two rows of young men in mottled gray practiced with spears, thrusting and feinting, one row against the other. Next to these, two rows with swords and shields fought mock battles.

“Ah, those were the days.” Obadiah nudged the king.

“They look as intense as I was when I split your lip by the stable door, Biah.”

Obadiah touched the old wound on his mouth.

Hiel pointed to a line of forty archers. “They’re learning to work as a disciplined team.” The archers faced wooden targets at about ninety paces.

“Why so far?” Obadiah asked. “A bow at that distance can’t—”

“That’s what I thought,” Hiel answered.

A call came from the end of the row. “Pull. Aim. Release.”

Thunk-thunk-thunk. Arrows buried in the targets and set them rocking.

Obadiah’s eyes widened. Impressive.

“Nice,” Ahab said.

“Indeed, my king,” Hiel said. “See how their bows curve back on the ends? One of these boys learned this design on a bow from Nineveh.”

An equal number of young men holding slings stood with their backs to the archers.

One called, “Stones.”

From a pouch at the waist, each boy fit a round stone into a leather cup.

“Slings. Two. One. Roll.”

In unison they took one stride forward, arced their slings high overhead, and sent stones flying into wooden targets at thirty paces. Whiz, thump. The targets rocked.

“Not bad, eh?” Hiel said.

Obadiah huffed out a breath. “Terrific. But we can’t defend this hill with slings.”

Mikayhu tugged Ahab’s sleeve. “Please, King. I must insist. The Lord says these young men are your commandos.”

Hiel touched Ahab’s wrist. “May I speak to the junior officers, my king?”

Ahab swung an arm toward the stone slingers and archers. “Have at it, old friend.”

Hiel stepped into the clearing and pointed to Mikayhu. “This young man says the Lord told him the junior officers should lead the fight against the Syrians.”

The boys suspended their practice. One rested his spear, point up, and fixed a solemn stare on Mikayhu. Then he stepped up and turned toward Ahab. “My king, I have no right to speak, but Uncle Hiel asked. The boy with you is from Geba, my village. His name is Mikayhu.”

Mikayhu’s heels settled, and he clutched at his belly. Why’d he do this?

The junior officer swung around and faced several of his fellows. “This Mika works from early until late tending his father’s fruit trees.”

Mikayhu’s shoulders straightened.

The junior officer squared his chin toward Ahab. “His words are true to the teachings of Moses, but he offended the agents of Asherah, so our elders sent him into hiding.”

Obadiah sucked in a quick breath. Yedidah’s network reached into unexpected places.

Ahab stood stock still and slid his gaze to Mikayhu.

The boy’s heels remained glued in place.

Bodyguards grunted and junior officers scratched their beards.

The junior officer from Geba tipped his head toward Hiel. “Where I come from, Uncle Hiel, we respect this boy and his words. If Mika says fight, I’ll fight.” He thudded the butt of his spear on a paving stone.

The king raised his eyebrows and craned his neck around at the other young men.

Two stepped up next to Mikayhu’s village neighbor. Then three more. A moment later, every junior officer took two pacesvi ahead and turned toward the king.

As their spear butts rattled the pavers, Mikayhu covered his lips with his fingers, and Gera opened his mouth in silence.

Obadiah rubbed his shoulder against Ahab. “My king, these young men may have heard their grandfathers brag of heroic deeds on distant battlefields, but they have never tasted blood.”

Hiel pressed his lips together. “But what could they do if they had the right leader?”

Mikayhu beamed. “The leader. That’s the best part, King.”

Ahab chuckled. “Best part? So, who’s going to lead these bad boys?” vii

Mika’s [who’s this​?] heels touched down for a moment, and he favored Ahab with his smile. “You, my king. You will lead these ba—I mean, you’re going to lead them.”

Obadiah threw his hands up. “This is ridiculous, Ahab. Putting a king in front of children doesn’t turn them into commandos.” He covered his face with his hands. “Thank you, Gera. Just… take the boy home.”

“Hang on, Biah.” Ahab’s tone belonged to a man climbing into his battle chariot.

Obadiah dragged his hands down his cheeks and peeked through his fingers. Gera, Mikayhu, Hiel, and the entire group of junior officers had locked their eyesviii on the king.

A blackstart in the chestnut tree sent its clear, melancholy churlee-truloo-truler.

Ahab stood ramrod straight with the sun on his face. “Remember Dibon?”

“Never forget it.” Obadiah stiffened and stepped back. He must have missed key words in the boy’s message.

A gleam shone in Ahab’s eyes. “The attack wedge.”

“Of course, but those were your father’s elite troops, trained and—”

“No time, Biah. We go with what we’ve got. Old Samson didn’t die pushing a millstone, and you’ll not find me hiding in the corner.” Ahab lifted his head and sniffed the breeze.

ixFor one brief moment, the barrel chest of Obadiah’s stallion rippled beneath him while Ahab’s Shochar thundered at their side. Is this O’s memory of that day? If it’s a flashback, that’s great but now get him to the present. Reveling in the sweet victory he’d won so many years ago (or whatever), a tiny laugh hiccupped out. “You’ve escaped the fort, my king. We’re riding without guards.”

“We’ve never seen this horse race, Biah.”

“You’ve no time to teach them your style of ‘thrust and parry.’”

“But enough time to select the best.” Ahab stepped into the clearing beside Hiel and raised his voice toward the junior officers. “I need twelve fighters with me to drive a wedge into the Syrians. Show me who you are. Come now, don’t be shy.”

Thirty-seven young men moved out from the group. Mikayhu’s heels bounced once.

Obadiah leaned toward him.

The sun hung in the sky and refused to move.x

Ahab planted his feet and scowled. “Every one of us has to kill our man or we leave a hole for the Syrians. I want only the best.”

Three—and then nine more—lunged forward.

Ahab curled an arm over his head. “You twelve. Meet me on the palace terrace.” He raised Obadiah’s wrist in the air. “My man will show the others effective formations.” He turned to Obadiah. “Ten men to each wing, remember?”

“Ten. Dibon.”

Ahab grinned. “And, Biah, as soon as we have these … these child commandos [junior warrors? YES!!!] ready, get with my chiefs and show them how to lead mop-up.” He turned Hiel by a shoulder so they both faced east. “You know that long, skinny entrance to Tirzah Valley?”xi

Mika grinned, face toward the sky. “Just like you said.” Not a second later, he snapped his fingers and danced to a chorus of, “my strength comes from the Lord (or whatever!!!)”

iThe noonday sun [Before the sun touched the top of the sky]

ii too similar to how his curls “bobbed to a beat”

iiivast army – is this back and forth going on too long?

iv[Sun?] – we started this chapter at noon, so it’s about 2 pm now.

v Call them Commandos or The Warrior Princes?

vi We’re overpopulated with “strides.”

vii The sun hung in the sky waiting for Mikayhu’s response. [Forget the flood, Dave. Interview the sun.]

viiiStaring, stare, stares galore.

ix A terrible handling of their mutual memory.

x Forget the flood, Dave. Interview the sun.

xiA lousy hook

I’m not sure I did what you wanted but I hope I helped. I think the story flows well, but what do I know!!! I played with a few of the repeating words and altered some beats. See if I helped – I hope so.
It’s good!!

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