Posts Tagged ‘Obed-edom’

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

 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.”

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WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

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.”


 

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 42

Absalom was directed to an old man who was instructing Ammonite slaves about kiln making. He seemed very cheerful and pleased to meet Absalom and bowed down with his face to the ground when he realised that he was in the presence of royalty.

“My lord, I am your servant.” said Obed-edom.

“I have been told that you are a Philistine.” said Absalom.

“I was once a Philistine, my lord.” said Obed-edom with a smile on his face. “For many years now I have served your father the king and now I also serve the living God of Israel.”

Absalom ignored the comments and said, “I have something to show you that has the carvings of Canaanite origin. I want you to tell me what it means.”

“I will try to help you in any way that I can, my lord.” said Obed-edom. Absalom directed Obed-edom to move under one of shelters so that no-one else could overhear their conversation or see what they were doing.

He took the dagger from beneath his coat and handed it to the old man. Obed-edom stood transfixed for some time as he looked at the weapon. All the memories of demon gods and talisman came flooding back into his mind. He remembered the day of the birth of this dagger in the kiln of Molech and when he thought of the gruesome child sacrifice, he suddenly dropped the dagger as if it were red hot. Absalom reached for it immediately.

“Be careful, old man. I don’t want it damaged!” said Absalom.

“Why have you brought this weapon to me?” said Obed-edom. His face was white at the shock of seeing the dagger that he had once made. For a fleeting moment he thought perhaps that Absalom intended to punish him in some way.

“I want you to tell me what the images and symbols mean?” said Absalom. He was intrigued at the reaction of the old man. What hidden secrets does this dagger hold?

“You must destroy it immediately!” said Obed-edom, “It can only lead to harm. It came from the fire of Molech and was dedicated to the demon gods. It doesn’t belong here.”

“I’ll decide whether or not to destroy it. But first I want you to tell me all you know about it.” said Absalom, who was beginning to get a little frustrated.

“Yes, my lord. Of course.” said Obed-edom. He was dry in the mouth and needed to lick his lips and swallow several times as he recalled the ancient story, filled with superstition and demonic power to bring harm upon others, that he had heard many times as a child.

“The symbol on the top of the hilt is the Canaanite symbol for the god Molech and the symbol on the sides of the hilt is of the lion and wolf gods. Together they speak of avenging the enemy for the sacrifice of our children. The image that is carved is of the lion and the wolf in mortal combat. It comes from an ancient legend about these two powerful predators.”

“Tell me about this legend.” said Absalom.

Obed-edom tried to regain his composure.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS Chapter 25

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 25

Obed-edom was a Philistine who now served David, and he had been horrified when he saw the Ark. He had not attended the festivities and could not believe that David would order the Ark to be moved to his house. Not here, my lord king, he thought. “Yes, of course, my lord king” he said. His people had once captured the Ark in battle and they had been struck with boils and skin cancers. It had caused them so much trouble they had returned it to Israel.

When he learned of Uzzah’s death, Obed-edom was even more concerned. Never-the-less the old Philistine had recently come to know the God of Israel and was determined not to be superstitious. Never-the-less, he would not look under its covers or touch it. Lord God, protect me! To his relief and amazement, God answered his prayers immediately. The Lord blessed him and his whole family. In fact, everything he did seemed to be successful. It seemed that everyone wanted a weapon or household utensil made by the master iron smith.

When David had calmed down enough to investigate Obed-edom’s welfare three months later, he was excited to find that in that brief amount of time the man had prospered greatly. This is surely a sign of the Lord’s favour. In the last months he had studied the holy writings which Zadok had brought to him concerning the movement of the Ark and reassessed how best he might honour God in bringing the Ark to Jerusalem.

A period of mourning had been observed, and now that three months had passed between Uzzah’s death even Abinadab had agreed that it was time the king attempted to retrieve the Ark again.

There was a great deal of celebration when the day finally arrived despite the tragedy of the previous attempt. All of Israel was relieved to see the Ark being carried by the Levites and every six steps they took, a bull and a fattened calf was sacrificed to the Lord.

David was so excited. He sensed the very presence of God and was lost in worship as the music played from instruments of wood, lyres and harps, tambourines, castanets and cymbals. Wearing a linen ephod, he danced before the Lord with all his might. Everyone was involved in the worship and the throng of people seemed to flow like a mighty river, with shouts of praise and trumpets declaring the greatness of God. Carried along in the tide of this throng, the Ark made its way to Jerusalem. Even Obed-edom, the old iron smith had been allowed to attend, and tears of joy flowed down his face.

Michal, the daughter of Saul, was asked to look after Absalom who wanted no part of the Ark that had killed his cousin. The hurt buried in their hearts found eachother in their time of need. They watched from one of the windows of the palace and talked.

The heartache in Absalom’s eyes triggered memories of sorrow in Michal. She had seen this kind of hurt before and she remembered her husband, Paltiel, who wept bitterly as they had been prized apart. Michal had been forcibly returned to David as part of the bargaining when the kingdoms of Judah and Israel became one nation.

As the Ark entered the City of David, they saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord. Neither of them felt like celebrating.

Absalom turned away, tears in his eyes, and again Michal felt his pain, deeply. Something of the spirit of Absalom entered her soul as she looked at her husband, dancing before the Lord in only a linen ephod. I despise you.

The Ark of the Lord was placed inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. Then he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of Hosts. A loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins was distributed to each person in the crowd, men and women, and the crowd eventually disbursed to their homes.

When David returned home to bless his household, Michal left the room and came to meet him. Absalom still sat by the window, staring at the tent in which the Ark had been placed, but he heard her speak.

“How the mighty king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing himself in the sight of slave girls like someone who is vulgar and foolish!” She was sarcastic and spiteful. David was terribly hurt but remained calm.

“I danced before the Lord, who chose me and appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel rather than your father or anyone else from his house. I intend to continue to celebrate before the Lord, and perhaps become even more undignified than this; completely humiliated if necessary. But you need to know that although I may not have been held in honour in your sight, in the sight of these slave girls you spoke of, I was not only held in honour, but I also had their respect.”

Michal, the daughter of king Saul, outspoken and now estranged wife of king David, would have no children to the day of her death.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Chapter 16

David could see the blade, honed to perfection, slicing through the air towards him. Everything seemed to be focused on the dreadful edge of that sword, and in that split second David heard the clear voice of God speak, “Baal-Perazim! I am the Lord of the Breakthrough!”

From behind David, in full view of the creature, what looked like a great cloud seemed to surge and lift and fill the sky. It raced over David’s head and across the plain all around him, the thunder of its power now pulsating in his ears. It rippled across the sky towards the enemies who now completely surrounded king David and instead of darkening the sky it seemed as if the sky was filled with light.

A terrifying wind howled around them piercing the air with an awesome sound. The strength in the creatures arm seemed to melt and the force of his sword was easily deflected. A fear that David could almost feel now haunted the creatures eyes as he hesitated just a moment too long. David took the opportunity to thrust his sword forward. The creature looked down in horror as the sword found its mark and sliced cleanly into its heart.

As the creature roared in fear and pain David shouted, “I come to establish the righteousness, peace and joy of the Lord of heaven and earth this day!”

David could see then that the cloud was not a cloud at all, but thousands and thousands of Angelic beings racing towards the enemy. As he thrust his sword a second time towards the creature, the cloud dropped like a flood released from a dam.

“As waters break out, so have I broken out against My enemies before You!” came God’s clear voice from the flood. The deluge broke over them with the force of an exploding volcano. With another thrust of David’s sword, it swamped the enemy completely in front and behind and David lost sight of them in the rushing, surging tide. It seemed that he stood in the eye of a tornado as the enemy was ripped asunder.

What seemed like only moments later there was silence. It broke upon the plain with an eerie suddenness. David could hear the blood pulsing through his ears. There was no sight of the enemy or their leader. Thousands of broken idols were strewn across the plain. The chains and blindfolds from the captive nations had fallen away and they were standing in absolute silence looking towards him.

“I come in the name of the Lord of hosts,” he said, and his voice quivered with awe. As realisation dawned upon the masses that stood before him, cheering broke out across the plain and shouts of praise and worship filled the air.

In that moment, he felt so weak he collapsed, lying prostrate before the Lord, filled with the exhilaration and exhaustion of victory. He awoke from his vision on the floor, with Ahithophel peering anxiously into his eyes. He had heard David collapse and had run into the room expecting the worst. He was relieved not only to find David alive but somehow glowing.

“What happened, my lord?” said Ahithophel.

“Ahithophel, you know better than to interrupt me while I am in prayer. Why are you here?” said David, ignoring the question.

“My lord, I came to tell you that the Philistines have gathered in the valley of Rephaim!”

David looked into the concerned eyes of Ahithophel and laughed. He said, “No, not Rephaim. Baal-Perazim!” and Ahithophel was totally confused as David headed off to command his army.

Aiming at the heart, with the first thrust of David’s forces, the Philistines were driven back, perplexed at such strength, and had to regather their troops. Again they spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim, a large army. They didn’t realise, however, that the valley of Rephaim was now the valley of the Lord of the Breakthrough, Baal-Perazim, won through prayer. David went against the Philistines with a sure knowledge of victory that day and defeated the enemy quickly.

God told David to have Israel circle around behind the Philistines and when they heard a marching-like rustle in the balsam trees they were to attack and drive the Philistines from Gibeon to Gezer, a distance of about twenty-four kilometres. God performed His promise, went before them, and routed all the enemy’s force, right to the very borders of their own country.

The destruction was turned upon the Philistines and their evil was broken in the land. As demon worshipers, the Philistines were very superstitious. The charms they wore into battle, idols of Dagon, Ashtoreth and Baalzebub were abandoned in their rush to escape the slaughter. They had become sacrifices to their own idols. They were the same scattered idols David had seen so clearly in his dream. One of the weapons left behind on the battlefield was a dagger. It had the same shaped blade as the dagger Joab had used to kill Abner. In fact, it had come from the same forge. It was picked up by one of David’s soldiers as they carried the idols of the Canaanites away and destroyed them.

From that point on, that part of the Valley of Rephaim, only four or five kilometres South-West of Jerusalem became known as, “Baal-Perazim”, the Lord of the Breakthrough.

The same thing would one day happen at the feast of Pentecost many years hence. When the kingdom of the Messiah came, apostles were told that they were not to do anything until they received the promise of the Holy Spirit.

And when the Spirit came, it was just like the sound of a rushing mighty wind from heaven. It was the sound of victory as warriors of a new covenant went to battle against the forces of evil and to usher in the kingdom of God. In fact, it sounded just like the sound that David heard that day rushing through the tops of the balsam trees.

In prayer, a victorious king David reflected on the goodness of God in his life. He had made the most important decision of his life many years ago out on the hills with his sheep. He would dedicate his life to the Lord of hosts. God had remained faithful over the years and he stayed up for most of this night in prayer.

David had reigned as king in Hebron for seven and a half years. At first there had been a civil war with those who had supported the old regime of king Saul but eventually David had been anointed king over all the twelve tribes of Israel.

After defeating the Jebusites, he had moved his military base to the fortified defences of Jerusalem. Now, it had been relatively easy for his family for a while.

The Philistines saw king David as a brilliant strategist in warfare. They were never a problem to him again. He had been able to build himself a palace, open up highways and trade routes and relax from the pressures of war.

For the first time for Obed-edom, the old Philistine slave, life seemed overwhelmingly good. God had answered his prayers and, miraculously, king David and his army had defeated the Philistines. Somehow he no longer saw himself as a Philistine. Now he was a slave of Jehovah Sabaoth, and each morning he uttered tearful thanks to the God who had created him for such a time as this.

He and his sons all began to find a deep relationship with the God of Israel and they began to wholeheartedly participate in the worship ceremonies. Each Sabbath day they listened avidly to each word that the priest uttered so that they could learn more about God and sometimes they were allowed to ask questions about the things that puzzled them.

For David, the Lord had to have central place in the kingdom, and it was while he was in prayer that he was prompted to bring back the Ark of the Covenant from Kiriath-Jearim to Jerusalem, and place it in the special tabernacle prepared for it. He could not realise how the events of the coming days would change him.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

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.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© By Ross Cochrane

Chapter 7

Obed-edom never again saw the young man who had captured him. He was not to know that the curse of death that he had uttered had proved to be prophetic. With Asahel’s death, the Canaanite dagger had been handed, along with other family property, to the older brother, the commander of the army of Israel, known as Joab. Joab was a man with a deep gravelly voice and fire in his eyes. Those who did not work hard enough or tried to escape were treated harshly by Joab’s guards, but most of his slaves co-operated and were treated well.

They were assigned to work in the city of Mahanaim in the Jabbok Valley, the administrative centre of Israel’s iron industry, only about 3 kilometres from the largest and best iron mine of the Gilead mountains, under the direction of a huge man called Barzillai. Barzillai was a Gileadite and had been given oversight of the smiths. The smithing they did was of inferior quality to his own Philistine craft, but Barzillai was a fair man and if they worked hard they ate well.

Obed-edom had never shied away from anything to do with smithing and he seemed to have an even greater capacity for work since these strange overlords required that one day of each week be set aside to rest and participate in worshiping their God. It was on such rest days that he began to plan their escape. It would take some years, but he was a patient man.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 2

“The old one and his iron smiths are to be spared. We can use their skills for our own weaponry,” said Joab. “Asahel, your men will take them from behind after Abishai distracts them by attacking the soldiers from the southern side of the hill. Make sure that none of the smiths are killed. Be careful and remember, God is with you.”

Asahel could barely control his excitement. He had been on raiding parties before but this was the first time his brother Joab had entrusted him with a battalion of men. Abishai and Asahel moved their men quickly and silently into position.

The raid was sudden and unexpected as they had planned. Many of the Philistine warriors died, their senses and ability to fight dulled by intoxication and blood loss from the previous day’s celebration.

The old smith and his sons were completely taken by surprise. As Obed-edom stood bewildered by the attack from the southern side of the hill, the precious dagger was snatched from his hands by a young Israelite warrior. He was knocked to the ground before he could mobilise his considerable strength. As he struggled to his feet he felt the dagger pressed to his throat and he looked frantically for his sons. He was relieved to see that they too were being taken alive, and only then did he allow the young soldier to bind his hands without resistance.

Joab’s forces collected the newly formed weapons and smashed the central furnace. The dynasty of Philistia’s iron smiths was coming to an end. Molech had forsaken them. They were bound and forced to enter the strange world of the Israelites, a world where only one God was worshipped and a nation which at this very moment was on the brink of a full-scale civil war.

The old iron smith and his sons were paraded through the Israelite camp with the plunder of weapons and brought before the commanding officer where they were stripped of their clothes and held securely by a number of men. The humiliation of being stripped and tied was almost more than the old man could bear and he swore incessantly in his native tongue at his captors. His eldest son, who was still trying to appraise what was going to happen to them urged him to be quiet.

“Father, they may kill us if you insult them any further!”

“They don’t understand our language,” said Obed-edom, and then turning to one of the priests he said, “Do you, you worthless dog? If ever I escape I’ll make you pay for this!” It was at this moment that he saw the young man who had captured him unsheathe a dagger. Obed-edom recognised the shape of the blade immediately. This was the dagger he had so carefully designed.

“So, I am to be killed with my own dagger?” said Obed-edom. “May the curse of the dagger of Molech be upon you, you Israelite coward! May it bring vengeance upon you! May you die in the hands of your enemies!” He could not realise how demonically prophetic his words would be.

“Use this and do it quickly,” said Asahel to the priest, handing him the weapon. The strange Hebrew words meant nothing to his captives.

The blade of the dagger shone in the light as the priest approached him.

“Father, he’s going to torture us!” said his eldest son, struggling vainly against the ropes.

“No son,” said Obed-edom, for the first time realising who his captors were. “This man is one of the priests of Israel. I have seen them before at the valley of Elah. They have only one God. He is called Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of hosts. I have witnessed His power against our people once before. It seems that we are going to be sacrificed.” He spat at the priest and cursed again. Asahel, who had been standing nearby, responded with a blow to Obed-edom’s stomach and jaw which almost left him unconscious. His sons were horrified but could do nothing.

As the priest approached him, Obed-edom closed his eyes and said breathlessly, “Goodbye my sons. I have nothing I can leave you but my love and to show you that I can die bravely.”

The circumcision came as quite a shock to Obed-edom. For a moment he thought he was going to be castrated or mutilated but the priest accomplished his purpose on each of the captives efficiently, and returned the dagger to Asahel. Then he had them untied and gave them bandages to stop the bleeding. Obed-edom had heard of this savage practise of circumcision and soon they would realise that all Israelites and their slaves were marked in this way.

When the bleeding had stopped they were given new clothes, considerably better than their old ones, and taken away to be fed, walking carefully due to the pain. Though they were very hungry, none of them ate much that day.

Israel and Judah were involved in a bloody civil conflict and Asahel and his men were gone by the next morning.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS!

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Pastor Ross Cochrane

Introduction

In the book of 2 Samuel in the Bible is the account of an incredibly handsome young man, aching with the ambition to be king, whose name was Absalom. He was one of the sons of king David in whose reign this story takes place.

Soon after king Saul died, Saul’s son Ish-bosheth was installed by Abner, Saul’s general, as a puppet king over the Northern tribes of Israel. David reigned over Judah at first but his forces, under the leadership of Joab, were defeating Abner, paving the way for David to become king of both Israel and Judah.

This is the historical setting from which our story begins to unfold.

 

CHAPTER 1

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

The old man carried out his work with the skill that had made him a master of his craft. For 200 years, his family had carried on the traditions and mystery of the ironsmith. Obed-edom took pride in his work. His sons were learning from his many years of experience and they would continue to refine the secrets of this art for many years to come.

His sons had selected the ore from the quarry, their trained eyes choosing only the heavy ferrous coloured rocks which would be forged into the finest articles. Using wedges and fire, they split the larger rock faces, taking extreme care in what material they selected because their father would require only the purest ore with which to work and they had already been punished for bringing ore containing too much foreign matter.

Then they began crushing the rock on stone anvils, washing it with water from clay pots as they went, and handpicking the richest supplies of ore to be placed in baskets ready to be carried to the furnaces.

While they worked, some of the slaves were creating 10 charcoal pits, cutting and burning the wood and controlling the heat with layers of earth and water.

Overseen by the old master smith, other slaves began to mix crushed seashells and limestone with charcoal so that it could be used as a flux for the ore in the furnace.

It was at this point that Obed-edom gave the orders for the clay kilns to be built, 10 in all, above the charcoal pits and placed evenly, encircling the top of the gently sloped clearing of the hill. The largest pit, in the centre of the hill, was constructed first and reserved for the fire of Molech. From it’s flames fire would be introduced to the other kilns.

Gradually the dome-shaped kilns, like a nest of pre-historic eggs buried in the sand on their ends, were formed. Each dome was filled from the top with layers of iron ore, charcoal, limestone and ground seashells. Towards the bottom of the egg-shaped kilns was an opening into which the nozzle of a leather bellows was introduced.

Only the central furnace of Molech would be used to forge the household idols and the various amulets and talisman which would accompany the Philistine warriors to war. From such a kiln, Obed-edom had formed the weapons for the giant called Goliath in years gone by – the finest instruments of war, made by the most experienced craftsman in Philistia.

When the kilns were complete the old smith nodded to the priest who had been muttering occultic words continuously as the construction had been taking place, in an ecstatic state, to appease the spirits of iron. Molech would demand a human sacrifice to be made to ensure the success of the smelting and fashioning of weapons. Only a human life could give birth to the weapons of victory and life to the idols which would be created from the egg-shaped furnace.

Obed-edom watched as the priest introduced fire through the jaw-like opening of the central kiln, and two of his sons pumped the leather bellows until sweat poured from their skin and their muscles ached with exhaustion and others had to replace them. A smokey haze washed over the hill and was spirited away on the breeze. The Israelite raiding party saw it from miles away and moved relentlessly to its source.

At the height of the celebration as the Philistine warriors gathered, chanting and shouting their prayers and drinking the fermented potions that they hoped would make them invincible in the coming war, a newborn baby, a child of one of the temple prostitutes was brought to be cast into the central jaws of the furnace.

For a moment, there was silence and each man felt the superstitious trembling that accompanied such an act, and then the chanting and shouting reached its crescendo as each man cut into his arms and chest with daggers to draw blood and work themselves into a demonic frenzy as the gruesome sacrifice was made.

Then it was time to release the metal from the kilns. Each warrior waited with anticipation and awe as Obed-edom, the master smith, eyes red from the smoke of the furnaces, released a small plug from the bottom of the central kiln and a flow of molten metal, a glowing yoke from the egg-shaped dome spilt out into a moulded crucible.

Soon the air would be filled with the sound of hammers as Obed-edom and his sons beat out the metal from the other kilns into blades of war, teeth of the wolf; long-swords and daggers that would be tested in the midst of battle.

After the slag had been drawn off from the metal of the central kiln Obed-edom began to fashion a small weapon from the purest of metal. It was skillfully hammered into shape and for some reason he found himself trembling with excitement at the surging hiss as the dagger’s point and blade were tempered with water. He continued with a polishing stone on the blade until the metal shone with a burnished lustre.

The hilt had already been selected from a piece of ivory obtained from traders and he had carved it especially for this purpose. He attached it to the shaft with such precision that it hardly needed to be bound and then continued to carve the image upon the hilt with smaller tools. He worked on the hilt of the weapon meticulously. This was no ordinary weapon. It had been borne from the jaws of molech’s furnace where life had been given to give it power. It would be presented to one of the Philistine overlords, or better still to a king or prince. It was a formidable weapon, well balanced with a razor sharp edge. The image on the hilt was carefully rendered to portray savage terror. Somehow it reflected the unexpressed rage that burned in his heart towards the priests and their human sacrifices and even towards Molech himself.

From the shelter of the trees and rocks surrounding the hill the Israelite commander, Joab, watched the proceedings and positioned his men.