04.3 Olives (or Gera?)
Shemer’s Hill, Israel
Obadiah flopped the thick, soft rug on the floor of his room and came out to the veranda.
In the courtyard below, the gate banged closed behind two men who pushed in and trudged across the courtyard. Both carried what looked like pruning saws in their belts.
With his eyes on the ground and a small bag slung over his shoulder, the older of the pair acted like Obadiah’s father when he came in from a long day in the orchard.
The younger man carried a bouquet of flowers. His eyes searched the parapet. He nudged the older man, and pointed to Obadiah. Then he scanned the parapet again.
The older man stopped and called, “It’s not every day I come home to the king’s right-hand-man. Has my wife given you anything to eat?”
Obadiah jumped onto the ladder and descended much faster than he felt like moving. At the bottom, he took long strides to the men and clasped hands with the older, then the younger. “My name is Obadiah. Please call me Biah, like my friends in the valley. The king sent me on business.”
Farmer style, the older man held Obadiah’s hand as he talked. “I’m Gera, a son of Benjamin, and this is my son, Liev. King Omri asked me to teach you about olive groves.”
Obadiah continued to hold Gera’s hand. “Yes, he thinks the internationali [Moab and Ammon?] market for olive oil is growing.”
Gera pulled Obadiah’s hand closer. “I’ve worked these groves for forty years, and if I had the silver, I would have bought this hill for my son.”
Liev laughed. “My father’s a generous man. Maybe not the recommendation you’re looking for, sir.” He jiggled the bouquet in his hand and search the parapet again.
“Here, here. I’m keeping you men from your home.” Obadiah released Gera and held the ladder for him and Liev.
On the veranda, Gera opened a hand toward the two women. “Allow me to introduce my wife, Hodiah, and our daughter-in-law, Keren.”
The older woman stood by Gera and beamed a broad smile on Obadiah and his guards. The younger stood next to her held the bouquet of flowers. She pulled her eyes from Liev, and let her eyelids blink in a quick bow to the newcomers. Then she returned her gaze to Liev.
Obadiah bowed to the two women then pointed to his bodyguards beside him. “These men are my old friends. They’ll be learning olives at my side.”
Gera replied, “What kind of experience do you have with olive trees, young man?
“I feel very comfortable helping my father in his pear orchard.” Obadiah BEAT. “Yet, how much knowledge could I carry from pears down in Keslote to an olive grove up here on the hill? The pests we fight, the watering. I wonder, do we prune a tree with the same object in mind?”
Liev’s shoulders came back. [Maybe show them sitting downii?]
His mother reached across her daughter-in-law and tapped Liev on the arm. “My Gera says Liev is the best pruner he knows.”
Liev’s neck flushed.
Keren, beside him, beamed at him.
Gera nodded slowly and turned to Liev. ““I taught you well. Now here’s the king’s right-hand-man needing a lesson in how to prune an olive tree. Give him what you’ve got, my boy.”
Liev looked around and took a big breath. “Well, sir, my father likes an open center to the tree.”
Obadiah’s youngest bodyguard blurted, “Like my dad says. If you can throw a basket through from any direction, that’s good pruning.”
Everyone turned, open-mouthed.
The red climbed up his face. “I mean. Not that anyone asked my opinion. I guess.”
Obadiah laughed and cupped the guard’s shoulder.
Gera said, “I can see we won’t be short on opinions here.” He waved a hand at the young bodyguard. “I wish we had your father with us. But don’t stop, Liev. What’s the third thing I teach?”iii
“The bottom, sir. You taught me to trim the branches up off the ground a bit.”
Gera smiled at everyone in turn. “My wife is right. My son’s the best pruner I know. Tomorrow I’ll have Liev lead us on a stroll through the groves, so you can learn to tell one section from another.”iv
Gera of Benjamin – Genesis 46:21
Hodiah wife of Ezra – 1 Chronicles 4:19
Keren-happuch – Job 42:14
i This word jars for the context. It feels very modern and out of place.
ii[Maybe show them sitting down?]
iii***Did he already say the second?***
ivJOHN – Interesting section on olive trees. Definitely gives it geographic setting. I wonder, given that so much of the early discussion was around the silver, if there could be a tiny thought or two in Ob’s mind about the safety of the silver, even when they’re chatting here. Perhaps when the farmers mention field price. Some little thing to keep the tension there, that this is potentially a risky time, that Ob’s literally got a lot weighing on him.
Whole section flows very well and makes good sense and it’s clear to see how one scene leads to another.