07. Deliver

Obadiah returned. “King Omri thinks ‘baby carry’ is the best idea he’s heard. As long as we’re surrounded by fifty cavalrymen with swords and javelins.”

07. Delivering Silver Babies

Fort Jezreel, Jezreel Valley, Israel

872 BC

Obadiah locked the apartment door and followed Yedidah and the girls through the hall. For the third time that morning, he reminded them, “I’ll only be gone a week.” They’d done a lot of hugging before they came out, so their goodbyes on the threshing floor would be short and formal.

In the kitchen, he lifted his arms overhead and threaded through the cooks. “Good morning, everybody. Keep those superb meals coming. They’re bragging about us up top.”

He paused and laid a hand on the shoulder of the Philistine child Ahab had fed in Gibbethon. The boy had grown to a man with arms too long for his robe. He chopped onions.

“Tiny pieces.” Obadiah said, “Remember, Yedidah likes onions chopped fine.”

As Yedidah and the girls started up the stairs and Obadiah reached the far side of the kitchen, a cook whispered, “Pardon me, sir. But the Lord says to wake up.”

Obadiah froze in mid-stride but did not turn to look. He mounted the stairs. That was not the fishmonger, and I’m not crazy, or Yedidah would have told me. What are you doing, Lord?

At the top, Obadiah followed his family through the courtyard.

The boy whom Ahab had slapped in Gibbethon stood at the stable door and pointed toward the threshing floor. “You’re all tacked up, sir.” Obadiah’s bodyguards waited with their mounts and the chariot.

Thank you, my man.” Obadiah tossed him a salute.

From behind the Gilead mountains shafts of sunlight sliced the sky. A breeze brought the aroma of fresh bread with smoke from the ovens. Next to the bakery, from deep inside an Absalom oak, a golden oriole sang weela-wee-ooo.

On the threshing floor, Zak crooned a beddy-bye tune to a pack he cradled in his arms. He helped Obadiah into the pack’s shoulder loops. “Looks good on you, sir. Let’s ride.” He climbed on his horse.

As Obadiah stepped into his chariot, he blew kisses to Yedidah and his daughters.

The girls waved furiously, while Yedidah raised her hand to her chin and wiggled her fingers.

King Omri strode out of headquarters and spoke for a moment with the captain of his fifty cavalrymen bunched on the plaza. Then he stood with both hands on Obadiah’s chariot rail. “My cavalry will take you to Shemer and return on their own. After the silver is in Shemer’s hands, ask for Gera the grove manager.”

The silver to Shemer. Then find Gera. Got it.” He gave the king a crisp nod and touched his driver’s arm. “Shemer’s Hill.”

As the king backed away, his fifty cavalrymen rode up behind Obadiah and the bodyguards.

Obadiah rolled his chariot out the gate and rattled the planks over the moat. He turned south.

When the sun had risen halfway to the crest of the sky, Shemer’s Hill rose among the lesser ridges of Samaria. Oaks and acacias gave way to olive trees, and soon a wall of gray-green leaves bordered the path, with the sun rippling a silhouette of Obadiah’s chariot and trotting team.

Obadiah climbed the several switchbacks up the west face of Shemer’s Hill and rolled through the city gate while the sun was just shy of its meridian. He paused on the threshing floor next to a flail lying on a pile of chaff.

Hammers and saws drowned out any warbler, yellowhammer, or great tit which might have dared to sing. Stone cutters zinged long saws through limestone, shaping huge ashlars. Masons rolled each block on large wooden dowels and tapped it into place. Their wall formed a rectangle bordering the hill. King Omri’s dream was under construction.

After many long drinks from the wells on the hill, the cavalry conducted Obadiah and his bodyguards outside the wall to a plain little house of adobe on the north side of the hill. The cavalrymen collected in a park of Absalom oaks below the house. “We’ll spend the night here,” the captain said.

Obadiah and his guards approached the house.

A man with a coal-black beard untouched by white stood from his seat under an olive tree. “You must be from King Omri. Welcome.” He opened the door of the house. “Please. In here.”

As Obadiah and the others entered, he held the door. “An interesting way to carry silver. You can set the packs inside. I’ll weigh them later. Thank you.”

The guards and Obadiah rolled their eyes at each other in silence as they piled their packs in the middle of the room.

On the outside again, Obadiah paused. “Very good, sir. And where do we find Gera the grove manager?”


Shemer’s Hill – I Kings 16:24

King Omri’s battle for the throne – 1 Kings 16:21-22

The sons of Shamer; Ahi… – 1 Chronicles 7:34

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