Obadiah, a sketch

By Stephen Abbott

As boyhood friend of Ahab, he was there first.  His most important credentials were mostly that Ahab trusted him.  Others would come along later – generals, tribal leaders, foreign ambassadors etc., but ‘Biah was there from the beginning.  He was the only one Ahab could be sure had his best interests at heart no matter what.

* B/c of this, he didn’t need to be the best swordsman, the shrewdest councilor or the most prescient diplomat.  But he was always the last person to leave the council and the one Ahab could/would call on at 3:00 AM.  This is a burden O had come to accept as they grew together and both began to realize the import of Ahab’s obligations to the crown.  O would have to have been shrewd enough to have seen this coming and to understand what A would need from him or he wouldn’t have lasted with Ahab into adulthood.

* B/c he had grown up in the palace, O would have been exposed many, many times to the burdens of leadership and decision making.  He probably had a Ph.D in Empire Administration by the time Ahab ascended the thrown.  He was probably so used to command and control and decision making from having grown up around it that decisions that others would be wracked by came easily to him. If he hadn’t had some nascent gift for understanding these things, he wouldn’t have remained so valuable to Ahab.

* He could contradict his friend in ways and places that would have cost others’ their heads.  The boundary for both between king/courtier and as friends was always blurry.  They had grown into it together and worked it out as they went along.

* He would have had many enemies b/c of his special relationship to the king.  As well as many suitors/interlocutors/“lobbyis ts”.

* O probably didn’t offer much open challenge to others during councils of the king’s advisors.  These would have been the tribal elders, the high military commanders and the principal merchants.  O didn’t have or want any of their specialty skills or insights. He was, first and foremost, the king’s concierge.  His place and his task was to help sort out what they heard when asked.  And to make things happen.

* His “kooky” faith in The One God was not a deal breaker.  Yes, it was a little odd compared to the mainstream.  But there were lots of different takes on the gods, ‘Biah’s was just a little goofier than most.  Every one with half a brain understood it was Ba’al who gave or withheld the rain.  But what did it hurt if O thought The One did it?  More important was keeping the kingdom safe and sound.  All these oddball beliefs would sort themselves out.

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