Posts Tagged ‘Barzillai’


 Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 75

No-one dared to stop Joab. The door was nearly unhinged as he thrust it open and roared at David with the gravelly voice more like that of a war-cry, “Today you have covered this city with shame. Everywhere I go the faces of the warriors who saved your life and the lives of your family are filled with a sense of regret. Your sons and daughters, your wives and your concubines are alive today because of them but it seems that you love your enemies who hate you and use you, and you hate those who proved their love by killing your enemies. I don’t understand you at all. You have shown today that those who serve you mean nothing to you. If Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead, maybe then you would be pleased.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. How am I supposed to feel about the death of my son? What do you expect of me?”

“I expect you to go out to your servants who fought hard to save you today and have some kind things to say to them, instead of heaping guilt upon them. I swear by the Lord, if you do not go out to them now there will not be one man left to stand with you by the time this night is through. You don’t seem to realise that if they leave you now this could be the worst thing that has ever happened to you.”

“All right, Joab! Leave me!” It seemed that the spirit of Absalom still had the power to wrest a kingdom from David’s hand, this time by using his grief.

David came to his senses and despite the ache in his heart, he went out and sat between the inner and outer gate of the city. The news travelled quickly and everyone came to see their king and to share their victory with him.

Many people were already making their way back to Jerusalem. Absalom was dead. They wondered what the future held for them but they could do no more than to return to their homes.

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Zadok and Abiathar wasted little time with preliminary greetings but said, “King David has sent word to us. He has told us to speak with you. His message is, ‘Why is it that you are the last to bring your king back to Jerusalem and to his palace. All of Israel waits for you. You are my brothers; bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. Why then should you be the last ones to take action?’” Relief swept across the elder’s faces as sat together at the gate of Jerusalem, except for Amasa, Shimei and Mephibosheth who were among them.

Zadok continued, “King David also says to you, Amasa, ‘You are my own flesh and blood, my nephew. May God deal with me severely if I do not appoint you to be commander of the army in place of Joab.’” David intended to replace Joab because he had disobeyed him concerning his son, but to place such trust in the man who led the opposing army against him was almost more than these men could comprehend.

Humbly, Amasa gave voice to their thoughts. “What kind of king could forgive in such a way as this? King David bears no malice. He truly is a man after God’s own heart.”

“Perhaps he will find it in his heart to forgive me also.” said Shimei.

A message was sent to the king immediately, inviting him to return.

There were no stones in Shimei’s hands this time as he met king David at the Jordan. “Forgive me, my lord. Please do not remember the wrong I did to you when you left Jerusalem. Please don’t take these things to heart. I know that I have sinned. That’s why I am here. I wanted to be the first to meet with my lord the king.”

Abishai had no sympathy. He said, “This scoundrel deserves to die! He has cursed the Lord’s anointed! What reason do we have for not putting him to death, my lord? What would you have me do with him?”

David spoke directly and firmly to Abishai, “You have also opposed me when you all disobeyed me concerning Absalom. Perhaps the question you should be asking is what will I do with you? Let me make it quite clear that it is not a good idea for you sons of Zeruiah to make mention of the death sentence concerning those who have cursed the Lord’s anointed.”

Looking out at a sea of serious faces, David smiled and said, “Why should any man be put to death in Israel today? This is a day to celebrate! This day I am king over Israel!” There was much cheering and a shout went up that seemed to echo in eternity and down the corridors of time, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The king crossed the Jordan with his people. David forgave those who had opposed him such as Amasa, acknowledged those who were disabled such as Mephibosheth, and honoured those who were old like Barzillai, the man who had provided for him in Manahaim.

“Such a king as David will rule with justice.” Barzillai said to his old friend Obed-edom, “It seems that as our king returns, the very presence of God is also returning to Jerusalem with him.”


Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 43

“Tell me about this legend,” Absalom repeated.

“The story begins with the lion god,” said Obed-edom as the story of his childhood flooded back into his memory. “It is said that one day the lion, filled with pride, roared so loud that all of Canaan could hear, ‘I rule this domain!’ it said, ‘None can challenge me!’ But it’s roar was answered by the howling cry of the wolf high in the hills, ‘I will challenge you! Stay away from here or you will know the teeth of the wolf that devour even the strongest of foes!’

The lion was so annoyed at the arrogance of the wolf that that it stalked through the long grass and up into the hills until it finally came upon the lair of the wolf. A terrible battle took place and the wolf was killed by the powerful lion. The lion also killed the wolf’s mate and all but one of its cubs who hid itself in the back of the lair.

The wolf cub hid in the hills until it almost starved to death. But Molech, the god of war and strength, who was a master iron-smith, helped the wolf cub until it was fully grown, giving it teeth of iron. The teeth of the wolf are still made by the Philistines today in the kiln of Molech, in the form of daggers such as the one you hold today.

Then one day the lion heard the howling cry of the wolf, now fully grown, as it mourned over the loss of its family and vowed revenge. With teeth of iron, it came down from the hills to the plains where it continues to track down the lion to this day.

The lion and wolf still remain bitter enemies and the roars and snarling of lion and wolf can still be heard in Canaan during times of battle. One day it is said that the battle will be resolved, but in the meantime, the Philistines fight their enemies with the iron teeth of the wolf and the roar of the lion.

The lion and wolf god are the Philistine gods of war because they are two of the strongest of the predators. It is believed that when the Philistines fight, they gain favour with the wolf god and he will not raid and kill their flocks.

Of course, the Philistines also have many other gods, but the image you see on this hilt is the favourite mark of the iron-smiths. This dagger came from the kiln of Molech, where to my shame, a child was sacrificed to the god of war. I witnessed this murder and thought little of it at the time. When the Philistines fight they are supposedly fighting to avenge the death of their children.

I was the one who fashioned the blade and carved the image on the hilt personally. It was originally for a Philistine prince or king to carry into battle but I was captured before I had time to present it. It has a curse of vengeance upon it, my lord. So you see why it would be better to destroy this weapon. It has been dedicated for evil.”

Absalom was fascinated by the old man’s story and had no intention of destroying the dagger.

“Your story was superstitious nonsense, old man, but you have been most helpful.” said Absalom.

Obed-edom was quiet and prayerful for the rest of the day. Only Barzillai had noticed the change in his mood and after an hour of working with him in silence, he said,

“What troubles you, old friend? Has Absalom brought you bad news?”

“Absalom showed me a weapon that I formed just before I was captured. I have been responsible for making many weapons that have been dedicated to Molech over the years. I have made the smallest iron talisman that warriors wore into battle, as well as weapons of immense size and weight. Barzillai, you have heard of Goliath?” Barzillai nodded.

“I was responsible for forging the weapons he used,” said Obed-edom “and dedicating them to Molech to be used against Israel.”

“My friend, those days are now over. God has brought forgiveness to you and your family,” said Barzillai.

“That’s not my concern. I know now that God has forgiven me and I stand clean before Him,” said Obed-edom, “but the weapon Absalom showed me was the finest of all daggers that I have made. It is a thing of vengeance. A child was sacrificed in the kiln it came from and it is cursed. I am afraid that it will bring harm to whoever carries it.” Obed-edom did not realise it, but already the dagger had been used as a weapon of vengeance.

“I have learned that things such as your dagger have no power in themselves to hurt anyone, my friend,” said Barzillai, “It is only metal. It can be used for good or evil purposes.”

“But what about the curse upon it?” said Obed-edom.

“It seems to me that the curses of vengeance will only have an effect if there is first a foothold in a person’s life.” said Barzillai, “every one of us is susceptible to allowing a curse to have power in our lives, but with God’s help, we don’t have to open the door to it’s evil.”



Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 41

“I have fought against Rabbah and taken its water supply. It is time now to gather the rest of the troops, besiege the city and capture it. If you do not wish to take the city, I will capture it myself, but it will be named after me.” Joab’s messages were always sharp and to the point.

Although David was now at peace with God, he was still at war with the Ammonites. Joab stood on the battlefield, waiting for David. He regarded himself as the sword that David wielded. He had fought hard and long and the victory was now almost complete.

It seems that the sword will never depart from David’s house. So much bloodshed. Many of my best men have died. His mind went back to a man called Uriah who had died in the thick of battle. Others had died that day because of David’s strange request. He had dispatched his message to the king so that no more would be lost unnecessarily.

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

With the fortifications he was raising up against David in his heart, Absalom determined he would remain free of any domination. I will never be a slave to my father like Joab. Rebellion and jealousy armed him with small poison darts that he aimed at David. He was careful not to sound too sarcastic, “Let Joab take the city. He deserves honour for this victory. After all, you chose to remain behind in Jerusalem while he has been at battle.”

Voices in court immediately expressed their disagreement with Absalom’s suggestion and David was bewildered by his son’s disrespect, but he dismissed it from his mind and began to gather the entire army. Absalom’s advice did, however, prompt him to think again of Nathan’s words of prophecy, Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.

David proceeded to Rabbah, led the final attack and captured it.

Absalom accompanied him and watched as the crown was taken from the head of their king and placed on David’s head. Its weight was a talent of gold, and it was set with precious stones. It seemed to him that his father was getting all the praise for something he certainly didn’t deserve. For most of this campaign you have been absent and involved in bringing disrepute to our family. This public display is a charade, he thought.

David made a great show of the great quantity of plunder that was taken from the city and then in front of everyone he brought out the Ammonite people who were there and made them his slaves. Many would be sent to Manahaim, and consigned to work with Barzillai the iron smith and his servant Obed-edom, labouring with saws, iron picks and axes, and brickmaking for the kilns.

Absalom decided to go with the guards to Manahaim and enquire of the Canaanite iron smith about the carvings on his knife, while David and his entire army returned to Jerusalem.


Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Chapter 14

The man who was thrown at Obed-edom’s feet was tied by the hands and had obviously been beaten. His swollen and bruised face gave evidence that he had resisted capture. Obed-edom knew the man. He was a sentry from one of the Philistine fortresses near his own village and he wondered why he had not been killed.

“Take care of this man. I may need him later,” said Joab to Obed-edom roughly and then turning to his own men he said, “Don’t let him out of your sight or you will answer to me.”

Obed-edom took the man back to the house, lay him on a mat on the floor and cleaned the man’s wounded face with clean water. While he did this he sought to find out from him what was happening in Philistia. The man was unable to speak coherently for some time.

“Why didn’t they kill you?” asked Obed-edom when the man was suitably recovered.

“Because they wanted information from me about the movements of our army.”

“Did you tell them anything?”

“I had no choice,” said the soldier. Obed-edom was disgusted and the soldier sought to justify his actions. “They would have killed me if I had remained silent. It won’t make any difference anyway.”

“What do you mean?”

“As long as we remain alive, we will be free in the next few days. Already the whole of the Philistine army is gathering together at the valley of Rephaim against Israel. Molech will have his vengeance.”

Obed-edom shuddered. He had not expected that his freedom would come in such a way as this, and after so many years of captivity he was surprised that he did not feel any sense of relief. As he looked at Barzillai giving instructions to his sons, he wondered what lay ahead, not with a sense of hope but with dread. He knew how cruel his Philistine overlords would be as they swept through Israel, raping the women and killing or torturing the men and children.

Apart from being circumcised, Obed-edom and his sons had been treated well by Joab and Barzillai, and although it had taken some years for him to learn the language of the people of Israel, in time he had been able to communicate some of his more advanced methods of smithing. He had proved himself to be a faithful servant, eventually earning the right to have slaves under his authority.

Trustworthy slaves were given a great deal of freedom and he was eventually able to conduct business of his own under his master’s control. He had watched carefully for opportunities to escape, but Joab was a careful administrator of his slaves and the only real chances Obed-edom had been while Joab was away at war. Somehow Obed-edom had always waited for better opportunities. He had told himself that he did not want to endanger the lives of his sons, but in truth he had come to respect the king and people of this nation and life was somehow fulfilling.

Now it seemed that soon he and his sons would once again to be involved in making Philistia a great nation, free from the invading influences of king David and his God. Once again he would serve Molech the terrible and a host of other gods. He tried not to think of his misgivings but they overwhelmed him and he felt extremely depressed.

As David and Joab went to war from Jerusalem Obed-edom found himself desperately empty inside. He was not able to concentrate on even the simplest of duties that day and Barzillai had been frustrated with him. The two of them had worked closely together for some years and Obed-edom had always been reliable.

“I cannot do my work if you do not do yours,” Barzillai said.

“I am sorry, my friend,” said Obed-edom “I have been pre-occupied with thoughts about king David’s war with my people and I can’t help but wonder at the outcome of the next few days. Perhaps it would be better if both of us had escaped some years ago.”

“I could never go back to serving the demon gods of my fathers,” said Barzillai, “I have come to know the one true God and Him only will I serve and if I must die then I am in His hands. Besides, God will protect king David. Before Joab left, he told me that God has promised David deliverance. You should be more concerned about your own people.” Obed-edom could not continue the conversation. Despair seemed to seep through into his very soul. David was vastly outnumbered and the Philistines had superior weapons.

That night as he returned home he decided to walk along the track that led to the mine. The guards let him pass. He had long been given the freedom to come and go as he needed to in this area. He walked to the top of the hill and looked out over the mountainous terrain. There in a secluded place between some large rocks he began to weep and pray for the first time to the God of Israel.

“God of David, have mercy upon me, a slave, for I have sinned against You!” he cried out and in that barren place a deep sense of the presence of God seemed to encompass him and he suddenly found himself lying prostrate, crying out that God would spare king David and his master Joab. For hours, he remained there interceding until the dark secret places of his heart were completely laid bare before God.

“Oh, God,” he groaned “You once took slaves from Egypt and brought them to this land. Now take this slave and release me from the captivity I have felt within. Release me from the power of Molech and let me serve You. Have mercy upon me and forgive me for I can no longer follow the ways of my people or my gods.” Then it seemed like something broke deep inside with an almost audible ring as the shackles of his heart seemed to fall away.

That night a smelting furnace was lit within his soul and all the dross came to the surface to be skimmed away by God Himself. God was forming something beautiful within him. He was becoming an instrument fashioned by the master craftsman’s hands and he knew that he would never be the same. Still the fire burned, until his spirit awakened in the flame and he reached his hands upward in praise to his maker. He had attended the sacrifices made for Barzillai’s family. Now he desperately wanted to make an offering himself for his own sins and the sins of his own family. For the first time in his life, he felt free of the burdens of his own sin. It all seemed to make sense to him as he raised his hands and his heart towards the heavens that night.

The next day he rose early and prayed. It was a Sabbath day and his sons were astonished, but out of respect they did not question his strange behaviour. Then as soon as Barzillai was awake, Obed-edom began directing a series of questions at him.

“Is it possible for me to serve and worship the God of Israel like you do?”

“Of course it is possible.” said Barzillai.

“Then what must I do? I must act immediately. God has met with me last night and I must know how I can serve Him before we are defeated by my people the Philistines.” said Obed-edom with a desperate look of concern in his eyes. Barzillai laughed.

“This sounds serious. We will talk with one of the priests, but I suggest you don’t mention being overrun by the Philistines. They may object. In the meantime, relax.” Barzillai and Obed-edom looked at each other. These two old men already had a mutual respect which had developed over the years and the seeds of friendship had also grown. Barzillai hugged his old companion who began to weep. Many tears would come in the days ahead which would purge the years of desolation he had lived without God.