33. Burying Ahab [internal conflict for Biah]i
Samaria City, Israel
Obadiah paused before the city gate as the long column of warriors parked their chariots in the hillside pavilion. He saluted the rear guard of five, then directed Ahab’s driver across the plaza to the palace.
Hiel knelt with him in the brilliant sunshine and helped him loosen Zak’s knots which held Ahab. Women, children, and young men milled around Ahab’s chariot. Obadiah searched faces for Queen Jezebel, but it appeared no Sidonian holiday had attracted her to the capital this week. She would be in Fort Jezreel with her sons, Ahaziah and Jehoram.
The older boy was now King Ahaziah.
Obadiah’s fingers froze on the knots. He was no longer friend of the king.
Jezebel kept her sons so close to her they hardly knew their Uncle Biah. Would the boy king pose a danger to Obadiah? Or would the influence of Jehu, Bidkar, and other powerful men who called him “sir” barricade him from the queen’s intentions?
He raised his nose. Normal body odors from the crowd suggested they had not dabbed on their favorite sweet-smelling lotions. A few women wept.
“Zak? Where are you, Zak?” Obadiah looked around.
Zak nudged Obadiah’s elbow. “Right here. Your guards are close by.”
“Thanks. A lot going on. I can’t…”
“We’ve got your back, sir.”
“Thank the Lord. I need you to follow up on the rearguard who kept scavenger squads away from our stragglers. Send your most wide-awake man and find their leader. I need you to hear his report for me.”
Jehoshaphat stepped down from his chariot. “Don’t be concerned about the robe. I leave the burial preparations in your excellent hands. I’ll be with Elder Shuthelah.” He walked across the plaza toward the elder’s courtyard.
“Even a king needs his beauty rest.” Hiel winked.
Obadiah grunted. “We’re asleep on our feet. But we need to lay Ahab to rest.”
Bidkar nodded. “We’ll keep each other awake, sir. A final service to the king.”
General Jehu descended the palace stairs and stepped in next to Obadiah. “The tomb is clean, and Bidkar bought the best spices. Some of the king’s wives and children are here. Um, if you don’t mind, they need to hear a few words from you, sir.”
The crowd of women and children formed a crescent and looked to Amira, a woman Ahab’s age at their center. Not the first wife Ahab had taken, but one who made palace life adjust to her ways. She wore a tunic and robe of fine white linen with a matching headscarf. Like the others, she had stripped off her jewelry and scrubbed cosmetics from her face. Five or six children of about eight years peeked from behind her skirts.
Obadiah gave the woman a quick smile and scanned the crowd. “I … I thank the Lord He allowed me to call King Ahab my friend.” Why such formal words? He pulled at the neck of his tunic. Had losing Ahab made him realize how thankful he had been to have him for a friend? Obadiah touched Jehu’s shoulder. “After the general and I have prepared Ahab for burial, wives and children may accompany us to the royal tomb.”
Farmers and shoppers drifted in and stared wide-eyed at their dead king sitting up in his chariot. Bidkar and Jehu lifted him by his arms. Obadiah and Hiel took his legs. And the four men carried the king in his stiff, seated position.
Women and children flowed around them, speaking in hushed tones.
Amira opened the palace door.
Inside, Bidkar directed them to a sitting room. “This way.” A bearskin rug warmed the floor, and yellow lilies in tall marble vases stood along the wall. Clean cloths lay on a marble chair, and a flowing robe of royal blue on another.
They set Ahab on a marble table in the center of the room. Obadiah and Hiel held his shoulders while Jehu and Bidkar pushed his legs down until Ahab lay straight on his back.
Bidkar shut the door on the women and children.
A knock came, and Mikayhu lumbered in. Large pails stretched each arm and robbed his steps of their normal spring.
“Mika!” Obadiah threw his arms around the boy. The pails thudded to the floor and sloshed water on their feet. “Lord forgive me. I forgot the king had you locked up.”
Jehu leaned against the table. “Amazing how fast a jailer can unlock a cell when he feels Bidkar’s thumb closing on his windpipe.”
Mika set the pails by Ahab’s table, left, and closed the door behind him.
Bidkar unstrapped a shoulder guard from Ahab. “I remember our king telling Ben-Hadad to hold his boasts until he was taking off his armor.”
Obadiah’s crew washed and dried Ahab’s entire body, front and back—arms and legs, fingers and toes.
Bidkar opened the spice bags. They rubbed myrrh and aloes over Ahab and wrapped a clean cloth around his loins. They slid the blue linen tunic over him, fastened on his armor, and forced his stiffened arms into the royal blue robe.
Obadiah tied the royal turban to Ahab’s head. “Your final ride, my king.” He and Hiel took Ahab’s legs, while Jehu and Bidkar lifted his torso. They carried his stiff form out, through the gate, and around the hill to the royal tomb.
As they arrived, a group of local farmers wailed.
A crowd followed. Ahab’s wives and children, chariot fighters and drivers, shoppers, shopkeepers, elders, and curious citizens.
Inside the tomb, the ossuary which contained King Omri’s bones stood at the center of a shelf carved into the rock.
“Give me a hand with this, Jehu.”
While Hiel and Bidkar held Ahab, Obadiah and Jehu slid King Omri’s box of bones to the end of the shelf.
“Here we go, men.” With the crowd pressing on them, the four carried Ahab into the tomb and laid him on the shelf beside King Omri’s ossuary.
Jehu said, “We put the word out for the ossuary carver. He should show up this week.”
Obadiah laid a javelin on Ahab’s right hand. “Farewell, my king, my friend.” He tried to curl Ahab’s stiff fingers around the javelin. He had never been able to force Ahab to do the right thing. No. Commander Omri had best described their friendship. ‘Beat each other’s brains out in the grass and let me know who wins.’ Neither had won. The fight was over too soon.
As they left the tomb for the keeper to seal, Obadiah turned to Jehu and Bidkar. “I’m going to my room in the palace. You men need sleep too. If Ahab’s wife Amira wants to act as hostess, let her use the main hall.”
Ahab’s driver spoke at Obadiah’s elbow. “I washed out the king’s chariot, sir. At the pool by the wall.”
Bone weary, Obadiah trudged in through the city gate. Dogs snarled at him from the pool.
The king is dead – 1 Kings 22:29-39
“dogs will lick your blood” – 1 Kings 21:19
icouple of his should be him. corrected.
You might show more internal conflict for Biah. What will happen? Where will he go? HIs world has ended. Who will be in charge now? I understand his first thoughts are to bury his friend and king. But even more emotion about losing the boyhood friend. Reflections. Not saying leave him crying in the corner. But a little more internal emotion.