A few chapters ago I realized this story is about a lifetime friendship between two leaders in the same kingdom who operate from different value systems. Do these notes below show their friendship? Yes, I think you do a great job of showing Obadiah’s friendship with Ahab.
Obadiah rejects the values of Moloch and Asherah.
Ahab rejects the Lord. Yes, the different paths of these two friends are clear. But he retains much of the Hebrew culture. He knows the stories. He sings the psalms. He and his father, both called the most evil king ever, quote scripture. He’s not a cartoon villain. He’s a real guy who can look good in one moment and evil in the next. I hope these notes show his complexity. You’ve done a great job of making Ahab human.
Is anything implausible? unclear? cliche? violating the Bible outline? No.
1. Wrath: Eight-year-old Ahab and Obadiah bloody each other’s noses.
When Ahab and Obadiah were little boys, they hung around Ahab’s father, Commander Omri, at his headquarters. Omri trained little Ahab and Obadiah by surprising them with “‘The Philistines are upon you.’ How will you defend your country?” Omri modified Delilah’s phrase with “The Moabites” or “the Judeans” or “the Syriansi.”
2. Race: A Syrian arrow cuts short their horse race.
When Omri became king, he encouraged the boys to challenge each other to describe how they would defend their country from the neighbors.
If the challenge was “the Syrians,” the boys assumed Ben Hadad would attack the capital.
Although the Jezreel Valley was the breadbasket of Israel and presented an open thoroughfare into the heart of the country, previous kings had fortified Megiddo and Fort Jezreel and stationed strong forces of troops and chariots at both sites. The boys reasoned Ben Hadad, rather than waste troops and time attacking these strong points and damaging the economy of the country he hoped to make his own, would attack the king in his capital via the most direct route from Damascus to Samaria City—down the Jordan River Valley and up the Wadi Tirzah.
They argued over three defenses against this attack.
A. Pincers. Two strong forces attack Ben Hadad from opposite ends of the Tirzah Trench and destroy him. But did they have strong enough forces?
B. Frontal: Drop a huge force of troops into the Tirzah Trench, drive BH out and back home to Damascus. Again, did they have strong enough forces?
C. The Trap: A charge, then a fake panic retreat which draws Ben Hadad’s troops into a steep ravine where Israel’s troops ambush them from the sides. Both boys liked the confusion of springing the trap, the surprise of hiding among boulders and bushes on the sides of the ravine, and the flexibility of smaller forces attacking, retreating, and lying in wait on two sides. I like these details of how they would anticipate such a battle. Good foreshadowing.
3. Surprise: Biah gets another task and Ahab gets another wife.
4. Shemer’s Hill: While Obadiah hires managers, he argues values with Ahab.
5. Home: Syrians kill Obadiah’s father. Obadiah dashes home.
6. Yedidah: Wife tells of Jezebel’s murders; Obadiah thinks, “Not my business.”
7. Slaves: Where Obadiah sees suffering, Ahab sees silver.
8. Pickles: Slave traders murder Liev. Obadiah resists getting involved.
9. Burial: As Obadiah helps bury Liev he avoids conflict.
10. Mourn: Obadiah decides to hide bubblers from the queen’s killers.
11. Jericho: Obadiah and Yedidah visit the rebuilding of the walls.
12. Gilgal: The quarry cave cannot hold bubblers.
13. Shunem: A desperate woman begs for hope.
14. Pray: Selecting shoppers to feed bubblers.
15. Misliya: A child seeks help for her brother. Obadiah inspects the Misliya cave.
16. Grass: As Obadiah and Ahab search for grass, they find Elijah.
17. Tribes: While the ten tribes on Carmel watch, the Moloch officials fail to ignite a fire.
18. Fire: The Lord’s fireball burns up Elijah’s ox, Elijah kills the Moloch men, and rain falls.
19. Attack: The Syrian army attacks Samaria City. Good progression. I can see Obadiah’s arc regarding the bubblers.
Ahab’s border patrol on the Golan sends runners with messages to Megiddo, Fort Jezreel, and Samaria City. The Syrians are mobilizing.
Obadiah, in Fort Jezreel with his family, sees these messages and, during the next two weeks, discusses (via runners) with Ahab in the capital, how to prepare. Ahab brings the commanders and their shopkeeper-farmer troops from the provinces to the capital and asks the seventy elders to come confer with him.
When Obadiah joins Ahab in person, he learns the junior officers, the sons and nephews of the provincial commanders, have come along to see the fight. Both men profess to understand this desire of youth and recall bloodying each other’s nose while they were supposed to be cheering the troops at Gibbethon.
“The Syrians are upon you via the Tirzah Trench.” They shoot down Plan A. Pincers and Plan B. Frontal as impractical. They toss around options for Plan C. The Trap. I like this set up from Mikahy’s surprise.
20. Threat: The elders say, “Fight.” Ahab tells BH not to boast while he’s strapping on his armor.
21. Thrill: Mikayhu, a bubbler, charms Ahab into hearing who should lead the counterattack.
22. Commandos: Ahab readies the junior officers to lead the attack.
Mikayhu points to the junior officers, the sons and nephews of the provincial commanders. “These are your commandos.”
Although Obadiah is dismayed, Ahab recognizes their skills with sword, javelin, and sling. He grasps how to use the extra power in their recurve bows.
Obadiah catches his old friend’s thrill, and they plan the counterattack.
Ahab places old Hiel of Jericho in charge of the stone slingers and javelin throwers of the junior officers. These youngsters gawk in open awe at this man whose javelin sliced the jugular from the throat of Tibni son of Ginath while the two raced toward each other in chariots. Old Hiel places these youngsters with slings and javelins in ambush on both sides of the Tirzah Trench.
Obadiah takes charge of the provincial commanders and their 7,000 farmer-shopkeeper soldiers. This backup, cleanup force waits out of sight in the olive groves which surround Samaria City.
Ahab turns to the bow and spear men of the junior officers. He assigns sixty bowmen to wait out of sight near this end of Tirzah Trench. He chooses twelve of their spear fighters to join him in a flying wedge. And two dozen more to form follow-up wings.
Then he dons his flamboyant royal robes and climbs into his chariot. Twenty captains also climb into chariots, one with a second set of royal robes tucked into his chariot’s javelin basket.
23. Counterattack: With Ahab leading, the junior officers send the Syrians running.
At the head of his twenty chariot captains, Ahab rides out through the Tirzah Trench in his gaudy royal robes and is “surprised” by the approaching Syrians. He and his entourage turn and flee up the trench.
The Syrians chase Ahab into the Tirzah Trench. When they reach critical mass between the two banks, Hiel yells “Throw!” He and his junior javelin throwers and stone slingers send flying death upon the Syrians between them.
The junior bowmen hear Hiel’s yell and see his missiles. They let arrows fly from thirty paces farther than anyone in Syria has seen. More death from above.
While Ahab strips off his robes and tucks them into his chariot’s javelin basket, the plainclothes chariot captain dons his extra royal robes, screams in mock fear, and flees toward Samaria City in his chariot. Funny!
Ahab and his other captains descend from their chariots, which cannot maneuver well in this terrain. They join the three dozen junior officer spearmen, form overlapping wedges and wings, and attack the attacking Syrians. Each one strikes down his opponent. At that, the Syrians flee.
Obadiah storms through the trench with his cleanup force of 7,000 weekend warriors and attacks the fleeing Syrians. He reaches their tents and finds most of Ben Hadad’s captains too drunk to fight. He and the 7,000 kill them by the hundreds and capture many horses and chariots.
He catches a glimpse of Ben Hadad and a few of his officers fleeing on horses. You’ve got a great outline of this battle.
24. Aphek: The Syrians return in the spring to fight with chariots in the open and are defeated.
Ben Hadad is determined to get paid for the horses and chariots and troops he lost last year, so he listens to his councilors who tell him the Hebrew god is only of the hills and urge him to come back to punish Ahab.
25. Bandage: Bubbler in disguise says Ahab will pay with his life for letting Ben Hadad go.
26. Dogs: Elijah says dogs will eat Jezebel and drink Ahab’s blood for killing Naboth.
27. Fight: Ahab convinces Jehoshaphat to help him retake Ramoth.
28. Clowns: Jehoshaphat asks for a bubbler from the Lord.
29. Ramoth: Obadiah, Ahab, and Jehoshaphat ride into battle.
30. Dead: From a random arrow, Ahab bleeds to death in his chariot.
31. Funeral: Dogs lick up Ahab’s blood. Obadiah buries him with full honors.
32. Throw: Jezebel is thrown down from the window, and the dogs eat her.
i In some Bibles, Syrians are Arameans.
It’s a good map to follow. I think you do a great job with Obadiah and Ahab’s friendship and conflicts, and I’m seeing Obadiah’s character arc—going from reluctance to be involved to hiding bubblers. Here’s something you could do for story interest – maybe before Ahab dies, have him find out that Obadiah is hiding those his wife is trying to kill? That way you could give the friends a final climactic conflict that concerns Obadiah’s stand with the bubblers. Maybe they walk away with their conflict unresolved, and Obadiah is forced to hide his family before Jezebel dies? It’s a great story! I hope I’ve helped.