Shemer Notes – Steve

It’s raw, but it’s coming.  I found some tidbits I wanted to comment on. Maybe help get some polish going here.
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872 BC i

The patio of the King Jeroboam Inn, Samaria City, Samaria, Israel

While I like the conceit here, it’s probably an anachronism.  Unlike the King David Hotel in downtown Jerusalem, there would have been no corporate ownership back in the day.  The inn would have been very modest to begin with, even being in the capital.  And owned by someone private, so probably named for him: Bob’s Inn or some such.  Or, if you’re going to go with KJI, figure out some reason it got that moniker against practice of the day.

<snip>

A chuckle floated across the patio of the King Jeroboam Inn. Among guards, the prince and his life-long friend talked as if they strolled the beach in private, so the men soaked up tidbits they might share with buddies and wives.

Have you already established their age for this setting somewhere else?  It sounds like they’re now in their late teens/early twenties.  Is that right?  Is it important?  And remember that life all happened a little faster for them than it does for us.  Ahab could have been married at least once by the time he was 15 or 16.

<snip>

The king had put Obadiah in charge of the surrounding sea of olive groves. With the profits from olive oil, he had bought five more groves for the king and had scheduled interviews with prospective managers for this morning. He shook his head. “The sun’s barely up, and I haven’t properly said good morning to the prince. The flatbreads are hot. Grab a bite with those fellows by the gate.”

Back to the age thing, has O been in training for his administrative position?  Has he been off on his own learning his craft while Ahab has been learning the ropes of command and control?  Or have they both been learning together?  It would be my guess that at a point in their nearing manhood, Omri would have split them up to have each concentrate on what he foresaw as their adult roles, so they would have seen a little less of each other but would have been happy for each reunion when their duties brought them back together.  Lots of stories to swap.  Kind of like William and Harry?

<snip>

Obadiah turned back to Ahab. “So, Jezebel’s servants are not your concern, my prince?”

“I’m more interested in the alliance she brings.”

“Alliance. My daughter brought the word home from the market. She tells me our king made an al-lia-nce with Jezebel’s father to protect us from the Syrians.” He curled his lip.

Heads rose. Bodyguards around the patio eyed Obadiah.

Ahab pulled his head back and tapped at the table. servant half-filled their cups with wine. He whisked away their nibbled bread then set a plate of hot flatbreads between them.

“What interests me, my prince, is the company she keeps.”

Ahab’s cheeks reddened. “Part of the deal. With her father.”

“Yes, my daughter told me.” Obadiah set his cucumber slice back on the plate. “She asked how Jezebel’four hundred Asherah agents can keep us safe from the four hundred thousand Syrian troops who stare down on us from the cliffs of Bashan.”

Grunts rose from the nearest guards.

He nudged the cucumber slice to align it with the flatbread. “The farmers who slandered my prince in the market? They say the sheep asked the wolf to protect it from the bear.”

Several guards drew in sharp breaths.

Obadiah leaned in. He may have stepped too close to the edge.

Like the tension and the dynamic here but feel it’s got a ways to go to be fully rounded.  How do these guys fight without coming to blows?  How much room do they give each other?  How do they fix it when one or the other blows it?  Does Ahab still feel the need to repair damage he causes?  Or is he too royal for all that now?  It’s an interesting relationship.  Fascinating actually.  There’s strong overtones of A Man For All Seasons in what’s going on here.

Generals, tribal leaders, and foreign ambassadors made their acquaintance with the king’s heir apparent, but Obadiah had been there from the beginning. The one Ahab could be sure had his best interests at heart. He tolerated Obadiah’s familiarity like a rut the wagon wheel never tried to ramp.

A prince, however, is still a prince. A boyhood friend might push too far. And Ahab could call aguard to silence his oldest friend.

Ahab shoved the table into Obadiah’s belly. “Cute. But we’re not little kids anymore, and the alliance with Jezebel’s father is about business.”

The phrase here strikes me a bit like the famous phrase from The Godfather: “It’s not personal.  It’s just business.”  But I think it’s a bit bigger here.  I think you need to expand your terminology.

And the part Ahab would see that O might not is that it’s about commerce and defense. And diplomacy.  A bunch of things we divide into separate buckets today that they would not have.  But more to the point of this conversation, Ahab’s visions and his concern probably are more expansive than O’s.  It would be like the head of CENTCOM talking with an accountant in some respects.  Ahab can probably see more than O can at this point.

<snip>

He bored his gaze into Ahab and forced even, quiet breaths. “Everyone at this end of the Great Sea talks about the silver Jezebel’s father rakes in from his temples in Byblos and Cyprus. Still, I can’t see you forcing children into a brothel to bring in silver.”

I like that you’ve brought Cyprus into this conversation. That’s real world in these times. But just as a matter of accuracy, while the Phoenicians DID trade heavily with Cyprus, I don’t know who was actually in charge there.  They could have been trading with a freestanding government or one of their own colonies.  Just so you know.

<snip>

Look, um. Maybe I can hear more about basics tomorrow. I have twelve interviews today. You want to listen in?” Obadiah spread his hands to Ahab. 

Ahab asked, “Will I learn about the business?”

“Whether you learn or not, olive oil is making your father a wealthy man and without hurting children. I earn silver for him here on Shemer’s Hill while I manage his affairs down at the fort. Sometimes I fear the king overestimates my abilities.”

“What he overestimates is your speed.” Ahab’s lips twitched. “You’ve only hired two managers in two days. Twelve men out there want to work for you.” He shrugged. “Our friend Hiel of Bethel would hire them in the morning and assign them to groves after lunch.”

Love the interplay here.  It’s natural.  And it shows O having stature of his own, expertise Ahab does not, but that he respects.  We get to see his value-added to Ahab’s life and responsibilities.  And I LOVE that you have him exercise the authority he knows he has and knows how to use to further the cause – as a kind of in-your-face to Ahab.  This is real good stuff.

Steve Abbott

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