One Child’s Life

rahab

Rahab and the Two Spies – Found at Seeds of Faith website and Pinterest

The strangers with her on the rooftop paused in unison. Before Rahab laid them under stalks of flax in order to hide them from the soldiers of the King, she said, “I know that Hashem has given you the Land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the Land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Reed Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.

“When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for Hashem your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, please swear to me by Hashem, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, especially our little children, and deliver our lives from death.”

So the men said to her, “Our life for yours if you do not tell this business of ours; and it shall come about when the Lord gives us the Land that we will deal kindly and faithfully with you. We shall be free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the Land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father, and your mother, and your brothers, and the little children, and all your father’s household.”

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With Power and Great Glory

sierra nevada

Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite Valley – found at Roadtrippers

Iris Berry pulled up her other boot as she gazed at the breadth of the firmament above her in awe and terror. So far it was clean of Moskeren scouts, but she’d be a fool to believe she could elude them forever, even in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

She had hiked in from Dardanelle, now a ghost town, three days ago and was directly north of what used to be Yosemite National Park. Iris used to go there at least twice a year to hike and climb with Darren. She smiled at the memory and then frowned, pushing the thoughts of his extermination out of her mind. When the first wave of invaders hit, they vaporized most of the Bay Area along with every other major population center on Earth. Her husband of eighteen months was just one among billions.

The young woman extinguished her small camp fire, a risk she took hoping the Moskeren didn’t use infrared, and pulled on her backpack. Iris had been on a wilderness retreat with three other women from her church during the planetary incursion. They heard the news over the small radio they’d brought with them.

Helen died a day later as they were hiking out. Maybe it was suicide, but more likely she was so distraught, she wasn’t paying attention to the loose shale she was walking on and slipped over the cliff. There was no way to get to her body.

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Urartu

Taşlıçay

Taşlıçay, Ağrı, Turkey © Google Maps

He came to Taşlıçay after a snowstorm and entered Mehmet’s restaurant. The last customer had left and the proprietor had let his staff go early.

“We’re closing, Sir. I have nothing left to serve you.”

“I am not here to eat, Mehmet.” He spoke heavily-accented Turkish and appeared middle-eastern.

“What do you want?”

“To save your life. Great forces desire to take it.”

“You’re insane. Taşlıçay is a boring place. Nothing happens here.”

“After the great flood, elemental spirits, both good and evil claimed the area around Urartu and lay dormant. Tonight they rise from the temple on the hill and the höyük to the south. You are the last direct descendant of the ark, the last one who could prevent them from entering your world.”

“Who are you?”

The messenger of Hashem grew large and powerful, was armored in ethereal light, and drew a sword of silver. “They come.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps location and/or image as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Taşlıçay, Ağrı, Turkey. I looked it up and there’s not much going on in Taşlıçay either currently or historically, except for a few tiny details.

I leveraged the Facebook page for Things to do in Taslicay, which provided the restaurant setting. Going through the Google maps street images, I found the one posted above, which appealed to me since summer is approaching fast.

There’s a burial mound to the south of this rural town and both an Urartu temple and Armenian monastery on the hill above the village of Taşteker. Then I read:

Urartu, which corresponds to the biblical mountains of Ararat, is the name of a geographical region commonly used as the exonym for the Iron Age kingdom also known by the modern rendition of its endonym, the Kingdom of Van, centered around Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands.

Ararat is the legendary resting place for Noah’s Ark after the Great Flood of the Bible, so I thought I’d attempt to wrap all of that together into some sort of mystic tale of disaster and horror, all in 150 words. How did I do?

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Oh, and how are these locations chosen, anyway?

Reimagining the King of Israel

Sing and be glad, O daughter of Zion, for behold! – I come and I will dwell among you – the words of Hashem. Many nations will attach themselves to Hashem on that day, and they shall become a people unto Me, but I will dwell among you – then you will realize that Hashem, Master of Legions, has sent me to you. –Zechariah 2:14-15 (The Stone Edition Chumash)

pesach

Pesach in Jerusalem – Image found in multiple locations – no photo credit available

Matthew Osborne sat in his easy chair, his teeth clenched and his fingers tightly gripping the arms as he watched the broadcast program from Jerusalem.

“I can’t believe it, Eloise, I just can’t believe it. I mean look at them. How could they all…”

The older man started sobbing and his wife, who had been pouring a cup of tea for him, came out of the kitchen and put her hand on his shoulder from behind.

“Matt, if this upsets you so, turn it off.”

He looked up at her. “Turning off the TV doesn’t change the fact that millions of the saints have turned their backs on our Lord Jesus Christ to follow this pretender, this Jewish King.” He spat out the last two words like a curse.

“Let’s pray together, Matt. Jesus is still our Lord in Heaven.” She hurriedly moved around the chair and kneeled in front of him.

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Saving the Prophet

shipwreck

The Shipwreck, a painting by JMW Turner that forms part of the Tate collection in London.

The ceiling for his craft was infinity, and its floor was an age. It provided a buffer, so that the passing of a season or a millennium was all the same. In this way, he could not only travel up and down the corridors of his own history, but diverge into many others. Once at his destination, he would descend upon that world like a single drop of rain.

The sphere shimmered half in and half out of the timespace continuum as it alighted on the shore near Muxnar Reef in ancient Malta. The unmanned probes he had sent back searched across the local decades, and discovered the exact place, date, and time of the storm and the shipwreck. They were struggling in the surf now. It would all be so easy.

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Encounter at Muxnar

mdina, malta

Street in Mdina, Malta – © Google 2014

Emily Becker followed the old Maltese man down a little-known side street into a shop. The walled city had existed since the Bronze Age, but the young archeology student was visiting because of her passion for the Apostle Paul. The Apostle’s history was tied to Malta, though not to this small city.

Inside, the man excitedly displayed what looked like a mirror, except the glass was black instead of reflective.

“So what’s this?” She was suddenly aware she was alone with a stranger and her tour guide didn’t know where she was.

“You see Shaul. Look deep.” He used the Apostle’s Hebrew name.

Emily drew closer to the mirror.

“Touch.”

She held up her hand, and it was as if the mirror reached out and grabbed her.

Emily turned and she was standing near Muxnar Reef in a rainstorm. Strangely dressed men were struggling to make shore including a middle-aged Jewish man.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google street maps image and location as the inspiration for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 147.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Mdina, Malta. Of course for perspective, I looked up the city’s history as well as the general background on Malta. If I had a bucket list of places I wanted to visit, Malta would be on it.

Someone commented on this story that the concept of a dark mirror leading to other places and times might make an interesting series. As I was pondering the Pegman challenge this morning, I thought that it would be interesting if the magic of the dark mirror randomly appeared in different places across the world.

In this case, an old shopkeeper in Malta happens, for a time, to acquire a mirror possessed by the dark magic and realizes its potential. Perhaps the mirror supplies a destination depending on the user’s desires. In her fantasies, Emily has always wanted to meet the Apostle Paul. According to this researcher, the most likely site of Paul’s shipwreck on Malta as recorded in the Book of Acts, chapters 27 and 28, is “just outside St Thomas’ Bay, near a dangerous sandbar called the Muxnar Reef.”

I had wanted to write a longer tale, but 150 words only goes so far. Now we’ll never know what happens to Emily next.

Oh, Malta has two official languages, one being Maltese, which is a semitic language, and the other being English, so Emily would be able to communicate with the shopkeeper. Talking to the Jewish apostle, his fellow captives, and ancient Roman soldiers might be another story, however.

To read other tales based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Raising Lazarus: A Book Review

lazarus

Raising Lazarus by Aidan Reid

I just finished reading Aidan Reid’s novel Raising Lazarus and I must say I am impressed. I’ve read other works of his including “Sigil”, “Pathfinders”, and his short story “Spectrum”, and I think “Raising Lazarus” is his best authoring effort to date.

There will probably be a few “spoilers” in my review, so if you don’t want important plot points revealed ahead of reading “Lazarus,” stop reading this review now.

The novel follows college student Molly Walker, who, as part of writing her University thesis, interviews an incarcerated male prostitute named Lazarus. After he is released, she continues to be fascinated by him and throughout the first half of the novel, they casually pursue each other, with Lazarus slowly letting Molly into his world.

The novel moves back and forth between the present and seven years ago when Lazarus was a refuge in Syria being harbored by a Catholic Priest, giving the reader the opportunity to compare “past” Lazarus with who he presents himself as today.

Eventually, Lazarus reveals that he believes he is the Biblical Lazarus, the man who was resurrected by Christ after being dead and entombed for over three days.

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Notzrim

jerusalem

David Roberts’ The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70

The group of men entering the synagogue at Terni caused murmuring among the Jewish men and not a few of the women. Everyone’s hearts sagged with news of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Holy Temple of Hashem by the Romans. These men had been there. They were refuges forced into the diaspora. How long had it been since any of the Terni Jews made the journey to the Holy City to offer Korban to Hashem?

After the reading of the Torah and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, “Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.”

Yochanan stood and said, “Men of Yisrael, and you who fear Hashem, listen. Hashem has brought to Yisrael a Savior, Yeshua Ben Yosef, after Yochanan had proclaimed before his coming a mikvah of teshuvah to all our people and even the Goyim.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to take a Google Maps street image and location and use them as a prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Terni, Italy. Like most places in Europe, Terni has a rich history going back to ancient times. Wikipedia says Terni was founded around the 7th Century BCE and was conquered by the Romans in the 3rd Century BCE. I have no idea if in the late First Century CE there was a Jewish population and a synagogue present, but I pretended there was.

After the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Holy Temple in 70 CE, there would doubtless have been countless Israeli refuges who were forced into the diaspora (exile among the nations). The Jews who had long lived in the cities and nations in the Roman empire would have journeyed to the Holy City only rarely because of the distance and difficulty in traveling in those days, so seeing a group of their Hebrew brothers arriving from the recently destroyed Jewish capital would have caused quite a stir, but there’s more than that.

It is a common belief in Christianity, Judaism, and even among other religions and in atheism that Jesus and then the Apostle Paul created a new religion called “Christianity” and converted many Jews and many more Gentiles to it. It is often thought that the Law (Torah) and all of the Jewish customs and traditions mandated by God were “nailed to the cross with Jesus.” My studies have convinced me that nothing could be further from the truth for the Jewish people.

The group of men from Jerusalem in my story are devout Jewish followers and disciples of Yeshua (Jesus) the foretold Maschiach (Messiah) and many witnessed him after the resurrection and then they told many others.

I borrowed a bit of Acts 13, specifically verses 15, 16, and 23 to put words in the mouth of my fictional Yochanan (John). Although Jewish devotion to Yeshua eventually fell away, we are unsure of just how many years or centuries such Jewish faith in him continued, perhaps even into the 3rd Century CE and beyond. No one knows for sure. However, that devotion would be a wholly Jewish extension of Pharisaic belief, not something that had no resemblance to its root source. That’s what I tried to communicate in 150 words.

For the sake of my narrative, I used a classic painting of the siege of Jerusalem above rather than an image associated with Terni, Italy.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Journey West of Eden

neanderthal

s. Enteressangle/e. Daynes/Science Photo Library

Hashem planted a garden in Eden, to the east, and placed there the man whom He had formed. And Hashem God caused to sprout from the ground every tree that was pleasing to the sight and good for food; also the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad.

Hashem God said, “It is not good that man be alone; I will make him a helper corresponding to him.”

So Hashem God cast a deep sleep upon the man and he slept; and He took one of his sides and He filled in flesh in its place. Then Hashem God fashioned the side that He had taken from the man into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And the man said, “This time it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This shall be called Woman, for from man was she taken.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife and they shall become one flesh.

They were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:8-9, 18, 21-25 (Stone Edition Chumash)

Alam was puzzled and tried to work out this new thing he was seeing. This land had not been here the last time he led Nun and Tav to hunt the prey beasts. It was a new place, but it should not be. It was plants, fruits, good to eat, and many beasts.

He was about to lead the two others in for an easy kill. The Imorg could come back to gather the fruits and berries. Then he signaled stop. There was a noise that was not a noise coming from no place. The noise was near a new beast but not coming from the new beast. The new beast was unlike anything Alam or the others had known.

Alam signaled for stealth, for them to go back and wait while he moved forward. He was the bravest of the Morg and brought the clan much game. Now he was faced with what he did not know and his courage was greatly tested.

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Jael’s Hammer

Jael and Sisera

Jael and Sisera – found at multiple sources on the web

Now Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, “Turn aside, my master, turn aside to me! Do not be afraid.” And he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. He said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a bottle of milk and gave him a drink; then she covered him. He said to her, “Stand in the doorway of the tent, and it shall be if anyone comes and inquires of you, and says, ‘Is there anyone here?’ that you shall say, ‘No.’” But Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. So he died. And behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.” And he entered with her, and behold Sisera was lying dead with the tent peg in his temple.

Judges 4:17-22

And Barak took away the body of Sisera, the general of the army of Jabin, King of Canaan. The Children of Israel had been delivered into Jabin’s hand because the Israelites had done evil in the eyes of Hashem. Now Barak and Deborah the Prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, were fighting for Israel.

As Barak and Deborah retreated in the distance, Jael, the hammer still in her hand said, “So now the people will know that Deborah the Prophetess and Judge of Israel is not the only woman who can slay. Tonight after he has had his wine and sleeps, my husband Heber the Kenite will know that his wife will no longer endure torment at his hands.”

Okay, I’m cheating. Most of my story is a quote from chapter 4 of the Book of Judges. I’ve been reading through the Bible and this passage has always interested me. I’ve always wondered about Jael and what motivated her to kill Sisera, especially in such a manner. My interpretation is pure imagination of course.

Later in Judges 5 during Deborah’s song, she blesses Jael for her actions, so in the reality of the scriptures, I doubt my fantasy would endure.

With Israel’s enemies vanquished, there was peace in the land for forty years (Judges 5:31).