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Ephron the Hittite Series (Boxed Set)

Ephron the Hittite Series (Boxed Set)

Автором Michael J. Findley

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Ephron the Hittite Series (Boxed Set)

Автором Michael J. Findley

Длина:
765 pages
17 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Feb 8, 2018
ISBN:
9781386578420
Формат:
Книге

Описание

Meet the man who met Abraham and follow his story about how a family that honors Elohim and makes Him their Adonai might forge and ultimately shape the destiny of the Hittite Empire.

 

Ephron is the builder who chooses exile to save his rebellious wife and becomes prince of Hebron. His sister Tawananna is the dragonslayer who feeds her people and becomes a ruler but has to sit still while Sargon attacks. Their uncle Heth is the warrior with a secret weapon and a secret weakness. Ephron's wife Shelometh is an advocate for women in the ancient world; a friend to Sarah and Hagar and a defender of abused women. Their son Zita is the peacemaker who will learn the heavy price he must pay to preserve the Hittite Empire.

 

Adonai is their Elohim no matter what. Don't miss the drama, adventure, and inspiration of this ancient world series.

Издатель:
Издано:
Feb 8, 2018
ISBN:
9781386578420
Формат:
Книге

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Ephron the Hittite Series (Boxed Set) - Michael J. Findley

Ephron the Hittite 5 Book Collection

by

Michael J. Findley

©2016 Findley Family Video Publications

Ephron the Hittite 5 Book Collection

©copyright 2016 Findley Family Video Publications

No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in any retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher. Exception is made for short excerpts used in reviews.

Findley Family Video

Speaking the truth in love.

This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to persons living or dead is coincidental

Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: The King James Version, public domain.

Please note in this boxed set the Addendum – Historical Background appears one time at the end of the fifth book and is linked in the main table of contents.

Table of Contents

Book One: Ephron Son of Zohar

Book Two: Tawananna Daughter of Zohar

Book Three: Heth, Son of Canaan, son of Ham, son of Noah

Book Four: Shelometh Daughter of Yovov Wife of Ephron

Book Five: Zita: Son of Ephron and Shelometh

Appendix

Other Books and Products from Findley Family Video Publications

Ephron Son of Zohar

Table of Contents

Chapter One Breakfast at Hattus

Chapter Two Anah's Village

Chapter Three Return to Hattus

Chapter Four Preparations

Chapter Five The Hunt

Chapter Six Born For Adversity

Chapter Seven A Suitable Helper

Chapter Eight Quarrels and Conflicts

Chapter Nine Dwelling in Unity!

Chapter Ten Pleasure In Toil: A Gift of Elohim

Chapter Eleven Tis Hatched and Shall Be So

Chapter One Breakfast at Hattus

Wake up, Ephron. There won’t be anything left if you don’t hurry. A female voice penetrated Ephron’s groggy consciousness as he rolled over.

We didn’t get anything hunting yesterday, said Ephron. I’d rather sleep than eat yesterday’s stew. Nothing but vegetables. He didn’t move until ...

Ow! What was that for? This time he opened his eyes and looked through the darkness. One of his sisters had just poked him. He wasn’t sure which in the dim light and sleep-fog. Hey, that’s my spear.

It’s not the pointy end. And I made you some bread. Well, not just for you. But anyway, there’s bread. She came up to his bunk. A dragon came by this morning. It was only a little one, so you better hurry or there won’t be anything left.

Ephron sat up like he was stabbed and jumped out of the sturdy leather hammock which served as his bed.

Okay, but first I need to change.

Into what? Poof. My brother is going to be a dragon.

His brother Akiia’s bed below him was already locked into the wall. The room was made entirely of large, smooth stones; walls, floor, and ceiling. Large timber beams ran from the inner to the outer wall at four-cubit intervals to support the ceiling. The individual stones fit without a trace of the cracks between them in the near-darkness. The long hall for the unmarried men had a dozen and a half wall notches for hammocks in the stone, all on the same wall. Hooks filled the other walls, hung with an orderly array of personal belongings, tools, weapons, changes of entirely leather clothes, shoes, garments, and various items whose purposes were difficult to determine. The many skins, mostly deer, antelope, and gazelle, insulated the floor and walls as throw rugs and wall hangings. They were the only signs of creature comforts.

I will be so glad when you get married, said Ephron.

"You'll just have to wait. I’m not even twenty. And maybe we’ll still live in this very room.

Sisters! Ephron pushed her through the massive doorway and closed the well-finished wood door on her. The door was made with thick-sawn cedar and fit perfectly into the smooth stone frame. The heavy door closed with a whisper of a click as he slid a bolt into the jamb to hold the door closed. The bolt had handles on both sides. This permitted the bolt to slide open from either inside or outside the room. He finished changing just as the door opened again.

You want this?

Ephron turned around as his spear whacked him broadside in the chest. He grabbed it with one hand and swung it into place back on its wall hooks.

You always let Tawananna play with your weapons?

Taku? asked the still-groggy Ephron.

Come on, brother. There’s dragon in the pot. It was a little one and it’s not going far. If you want any, you’d better hurry.

As Ephron finished tightening his sandals, the door flew the rest of the way open, bouncing back from the leather doorstops on the wall. Two small children with lanyards draped around their necks, from which hung bowls and spoons, ran into the room.

Daddy, can we have some more dragon?

Can we?

Ephron grabbed the solid and ornately-carved boards of his bed frame. With his left hand he lifted and folded it into a matching notch in the wall while his right hand secured it into place. The tongue and grove of the boards visible on the bottom of the bed frame displayed solid workmanship.

Taku scooped up both children, one in each arm. Mesha, Sephar, you know the rules. No seconds until everyone gets firsts.

Hurry up, uncle Ephron, begged Mesha, the older of the two.

Ephron grabbed the leather lanyard next to his bed and his bronze bowl, cup, and wooden spoon came along. Unlike the ornate bowls and cups of his nephews, Ephron’s utensils were plain and smooth. As soon as he looped the plain lanyard over his head, Mesha and Sephar jumped down from their father’s arms. Each child grabbed an arm and pulled Ephron through the door. The wooden spoon clapped with a loud echo against the bronze bowl and drinking cup.

The bright sun blinded Ephron as he walked through the doorway. He could sense rather than see dozens of eyes on him as he walked across the grass commons to the tiled courtyard where a large, half-filled bronze pot bubbled. The smells of animals more than two bowshots away from the living quarters were more than overwhelmed by the smell of baked bread, wood smoke and meat stew. The autumn sun had just begun to peek over the top of the outer stone wall.

How’s the night watchman?

Mom. Ephron hugged and kissed her on the top of her uncovered black hair, which still had only a few strands of gray.

Hold out your bowl, said his mother. Then everyone else can get seconds.

Ephron took the leather lanyard off of his neck, detached the spoon and cup and held out his bowl as his sister filled it. Mesha and Sephar each handed him a large round loaf of bread with the top ripped off.

We have already made a thank offering to Adonai, said Zohar, his father, as dozens of family members lined up for more food.

Ephron sat on one of the many backless wood benches, folded his hands and, looking up, offered his own prayer. The stone roof made this a large porch with a stone floor, which contrasted with the grass and dirt of most of the courtyard. As he began to eat, his parents sat down across from him. Tawananna, the sister who had so rudely awakened him, filled his cup with water and sat next him. Taku sat next to their parents and several other brothers stood around.

Gazelle are coming, said Zohar. Thousands, probable even tens of thousands.

Ephron looked each of his brothers in the eye. That is good, but that is not why you are standing here. May I guess that Gilgamesh’s men follow the gazelle?

I told you Ephron would know what to do, said Taku.

Knowing what is going to happen is easy, said Ephron. Knowing what to do about it, now that is another matter.

They are lazy, said Zohar.

They let you notice a few of their men, probably only three or four, no more than a half dozen, said Ephron. They want us to think there are not enough men to be concerned with. What they want is for someone else to do the hard work of slaughtering the animals, tanning the hides, and preparing the meat for winter. Then they will come with thousands of men and take the meat we have prepared for our families for the winter.

But there are more of them this year, said their mother Nebajoth.

More gazelle or more of Gilgamesh’s men? asked Ephron?

Both, said Taku. We met one of Uncle Anah’s hunting parties yesterday. The leader told me that Gilgamesh’s men are fighting each other.

That certainly does not surprise me, said Tawananna. Greed always works that way.

They also told me that they could not talk to Gilgamesh’s men, said Taku.

Taku! Don’t sit on the table! Turning to Ephron, their mother, Nabajoth, continued. I have always been afraid it would come to this. Were any of our relatives hurt? Did the strangers attack?

Taku shook his head. That is not what they meant, mother. They meant that they could not talk to them.

You mean, asked Zohar, that they would not get close enough to speak?

No father, said Dumu. We were with Taku. The men from Anah said that when the men of Gilgamesh spoke, the sounds coming out of their throats were not words. They all had the same kind of sounds coming out of their throats, but they could not understand the men of Anah. But the men of Gilgamesh could understand each other.

What did the men of Gilgamesh do? asked Ephron.

The sons of Anah were all on horseback, with shields, swords, and spears. Some even had bows, and there were nearly a hundred of them, said Taku. There were only about a half-dozen men of Gilgamesh. The sons of Anah said that Gilgamesh’s men got angry and began screaming, but still no one could understand them. After listening to the screaming for a few minutes, the sons of Anah began laughing at them and men of Gilgamesh left.

Father, asked Ephron, do you mind if I go to the sons of Anah myself?

Did the sons of Anah tell you about the gazelle? asked Tawananna.

No, said Dumu. We learned about the gazelle from a caravan going down to Yadiya.

We will miss your skills in hunting today, said Zohar to Ephron.

Can I come with you? Tawananna asked Ephron. She wrapped her arms around her brother and batted her eyes.

Please, said Adah, wife of Taku. Give us a day of peace. Besides, you might find a nice warrior husband for her.

Ephron looked at Taku and shook his head no.

They are also sons of Heth, said Nabajoth. Adah might have a good idea. Tawananna is quite good with a horse.

And a bow, said Tawananna.

I see that we are outnumbered, said Zohar. You do know that your mother actually runs this family?

And it seems as if Tawananna rules over her mother, said Taku.

Ephron swallowed the last of his bread, drank the last of his water, stood up, and pulled his sister up beside him. He wiped his bowl, spoon, and cup clean, and put them on a hook next to his bunk. The rest of the family watched as they readied their horses. They put large pieces of soft goatskin on the horse's backs first. Their simple leather saddles only had smooth seats and two straps to bind the seats to the horses. They led the horses over to a set of steps so they could mount the animal more easily. They each strapped an awkward but portable step behind their saddles in case the need arose to mount the horse somewhere without a mounting step. The small saddlebags had only water and very few provisions, since they planned to return before sunset. Their uncle could provide them with an afternoon meal.

Father, said Taku. Ephron is doing your job. You should be talking to the sons of Anan, not Ephron.

Zohar looked at Taku without speaking. Realizing their father was not going to answer, Dumu put his hand on his brother's shoulder.

That was a very small dragon, said Dumu. Let’s go. There’s nothing for dinner tonight.

The men motioned to their brothers. Everyone rose to get their hunting spears, shields, knives, bows and straps.

Chapter Two Anah's Village

And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates.

(Ezekiel 38:11)

The tents of the sons of Anah spread along the top of a cliff nearly three bowshots above the Marashantiya River. Though it raged when swollen with spring snow melt and summer monsoons, by now, in early November, the Marashantiya was clear, tame, and easily forded. After the late start and an easy ride, they arrived well before noon. The shallow river, thanks to well-trained horses, was easily forded. It was only about half a bowshot wide under the cliffs. When Ephron and Tawananna left the cover of the cliffs, they were met by armed men on foot. Guards allowed them to ride to the top, but made them dismount as they approached the tents. Very young children took the reins of their horses and led the horses away. The sons of Anah were ten times the sons of Zohar, nearly a thousand. Like the sons of Zohar, everyone, including the women and children, was armed. Among the tents this meant carrying a short knife. When they left the camp, they added swords, spears, shields, and bows. The sons of Anah outnumbered Zohar’s children ten to one, yet they still lived in tents.

Your wife is young, said an old man whose shoulder-length hair was entirely white. His hair was short for male. He remained seated, also unusual for a man. She is not old enough to bear children. Why did you marry so young?

She’s my sister, said Ephron.

A gift then? asked the old man.

No, said Ephron. Are you Anah?

I am he replied.

We are also sons of Heth, said Ephron. And we follow the customs of the sons of Heth.

Then why is your sister here? asked Anah.

It was the will of my mother, said Ephron.

Ah! said Anah. The will of your mother. That would be Nebajoth. She’s still a youngster. Sixty-four, if I recall?

Ephron smiled. Your memory is good. I would like to leave with my sister, if you do not mind.

Nebajoth. Anah laughed and clapped his hands twice. Less than half my years. Much less. A group of young women appeared. Please, daughter of Zohar, enjoy your brief stay with us. I understand that the daughters of Zohar are taught the art of the bow. Perhaps you can help our daughters learn some your skills.

Tawananna hesitated and the women encouraged her to leave with them by grabbing her arms. She looked back at her brother as she left.

Now, asked Anah, to what do I owe the honor of this visit? I am so sorry. Where are my manners? Please be seated.

A boy unfolded a small stool padded with many soft skins. Ephron sat and crossed his legs, the most comfortable position for the seat. Anah made several gestures and a half dozen young men quickly erected a leather awning to shield them from the sun. The sides were open and the breeze was cool but not cold. Both men received wine in small, ornate bronze goblets. A woman with a larger pitcher stood by to refill the goblets if either of them should go empty.

Ephron sipped just enough from the goblet to be polite before beginning. My brothers have reported that the gazelle migration is larger and earlier than usual this year.

Of course. Anah laughed, along with a dozen other men. We have heard the same reports. They should be within hunting range in just two days. I am certain that we will cooperate like we did last year. Your stone village is the best protection outside of the cities of Shinar. You also have the best ovens to cure and cook the meat. Your cool caves can store enough meat to last the entire winter. We have more men and the ability to kill far more than we could possibly eat. But you could have sent your sister with that message. The men were still laughing.

How many of Gilgamesh’s men did you see? asked Ephron. He set the goblet down and gazed intently into Anah’s eyes. How many were there that you did not see? And what about the strange noises they made?

Like a waterfall quenching a roaring fire, the laughter ceased. Anah motioned and one of his sons who was considerably older than Ephron, perhaps older than Zohar, stepped forward.

Yovav, said Anah, Please tell this man what you saw yesterday.

We had just killed a lion. I have not seen a lion on these mountains in years, so we were in good spirits when a lookout signaled. I did not want to interrupt the celebrations, so I mounted my steed and rode alone to the lookout. He did not indicate any danger and I thought he might have seen another lion, or at least more game. He was on the other side of a small canyon. He had a good spot and could see for more than a day’s ride to the southeast. We saw the caravan we met the day before heading toward Yadiya. At the base of the mountain, and clearly heading toward us, were a few men on foot. I signaled for the entire hunting party to join me because these men were obviously from one of Nimrod’s cities and well-armed. I thought that enough men might prevent any trouble before it started.

Nimrod? Do you mean Gilgamesh? asked Ephron.

Yes, said Yovav. That is what you call him. Gilgamesh – Nimrod – two names for the same man.

Were they following the gazelle migration? Ephron asked.

I do not know why they were here, said Yovav. They were less than a half-day’s ride away. That was too close to the women, children, and the tents. At first I only saw a couple of men. But by the time the rest of the hunting party arrived on horseback, there were at least seven or eight men. And I don’t think they were the same men either, unless they ran hard up the mountain. They wore ensigns on their breastplates and helmets in a pattern I had never seen before, a thin crescent moon with the points upward which made the moon look like horns. They wore semicircular bronze helmets over plain headbands. The helmets came to a point at the top. One of them had feathers or cloth coming out of the top of the point.

I have never seen anything like that, said Ephron, nor have I ever heard of anything like that.

Nor have we, continued Yovav. When we could see them, they walked and acted like men, but they seemed to travel faster than anything I could imagine when we could not see them.

Perhaps there were more of them and it was some type of trick, said Ephron.

Perhaps, said Anah.

They also carried some type of weapon I have never seen before, said Yovav. "I saw one of the men use it in the distance. It was almost as long as the arm of the man throwing a spear. He set a short spear in it and used it to throw the spear faster and farther. Much faster and farther."

More news, said Ephron. Did they tell you what they wanted?

Another caravan, this one coming from Yadiya told us the cities of Nimrod were fighting among themselves, said Yovav. That must be why they need ensigns. So we stood still, waiting for them to tell us what they wanted. But when they opened their mouths and started talking, all we could hear were strange sounds, not words. But this is even stranger. They were all making the same kind of sounds. Somehow, they were ... I don’t know how to say this, but somehow they were communicating with each other.

So they just didn’t want you to know what they were saying? asked Ephron.

That doesn’t make sense, said Yovav as he shook his head. They gestured, shook their fists, and began yelling, as if they expected us to understand. When we spoke to them, they looked puzzled; confused. Then they began making those strange sounds again. We still had no idea what they were saying, which made them angry again. So they began screaming at us with those odd noises. We all found that so funny that we began laughing at them. They flew into a rage, looked around at us, but finally just walked off. I gave the lookout some extra men and told them to signal us if they turned around, but they didn’t. We watched them until nearly dark.

I sent several of my great-grandchildren to ask Heth about this, said Anah.

Your father? asked Ephron. Where is he?

Only a two day’s ride to the North, said Anah. He's your grandfather as well. Do you not know this history? Heth’s father Canaan took land which his grandfather Noah had given to his uncle Shem. Because of this, Heth left the presence of his father Canaan. But all of us, Heth’s sons, had to learn war and have kept moving around because of Canaan’s nephew Nimrod. You call him Gilgamesh. He wants to enslave everyone to work on that cursed tower. But enough of what you already know. Once again, why are you here?

I believe Gilgamesh’s people want us to hunt, capture, kill, cook, and prepare the gazelles, said Ephron. They will then steal the fruits of our labors for themselves. We need you help not only for the hunt, but afterwards, when Gilgamesh’s men attack us.

The entire camp erupted in laughter.

Ephron stood up and looked quickly back and forth. What’s funny?

You were right Yovav, said Anah. They don’t know.

Know? asked Ephron. Know what

Yovav walked up to Ephron, put his right hand on Ephron’s shoulder, and looked him straight in the eye.

We, said Yovav, "need your protection.

For several seconds there was silence.

Is his sister ready? asked Anah.

She is ready, said a female voice in the back.

The people parted to make a path for Tawananna as she slowly stepped forward.

What are you wearing? asked Ephron.

They call it ‘cloth,’ said Tawananna. It is smooth. And it bends. And it can be washed. It is beautiful. It is wonderful and comfortable. And I can keep it!

I’ve never seen anything like it, said Ephron.

The women in the cities of Nimrod all wear cloth, said Anah. And they make cloth.

I want to learn how to make cloth, said Tawananna.

That is not for you, said Anah. Let the caravans bring you cloth. Do not waste you time making cloth. Making cloth is a time consuming process. You are far too valuable for that.

What... Tawananna stammered,. ...what makes me valuable?

Have either of you been to a city? asked Yovav.

No, she hasn’t, said Ephron.

Who made the stone walls of your village? asked Yovav.

We did, said Tawananna, like our father Zohar taught us.

Did you ever see the tower of Gilgamesh? asked Yovav.

Only our father Zohar has seen that accursed tower, said Ephron. He asked us to never go to the plains of Shinar.

Zohar has the superior skills of master stone mason, said Anah. The cities of the plains of Shinar are made with brick and mortar, not stone. Your walls are stronger than any city on earth. And you are on a great mountain which can be fortified. You also have enough water on your mountain to slake the thirst of every person on earth. Build a stone ring fortification around your village. Then build another stone ring fortification around that. You will have the greatest city on earth. People are attacking the trade caravans. Let them stay in your city for protection, food, and water. You will have treasures you cannot imagine.

What are ‘treasures’? asked Tawananna.

Cloth, gold, jewels, spices, delicious foods you have never eaten before, said Yovav. Beautiful ornaments, knowledge, whatever you can imagine could be yours.

I have heard of gold, said Tawananna. Though I have never seen it. I do not know what jewels and spices are.

Why do you want us to build this city? asked Ephron.

The tower of Gilgamesh has fallen, said Anah. The cities of the plains are fighting among themselves, driving many people away. They will either peacefully move somewhere else or they will take what they want by force. We must be too strong for them. Neither of us separately are that strong. I do not want you to be overrun by invaders. And I do not want to be overrun by invaders. Either we help you build a city or we move out of their reach. And we have no idea where that might be.

These lands we roam so freely today will soon be overrun by armed, ruthless strangers, said Yovav. You do not know how to fight an army. You have never even seen an army. Your father Zohar is not an old man. He would be here now if he could. He is no coward, so I suspect that he is ill. He needs to supervise and pass on his stonemason skills while he still can. If we fail to act quickly, we will be slaves to the people of the plain and they will live in our mountains. Do you desire to work in brick kilns the rest of your lives?

We have worked together for years. That is more than I can...I do not know the proper word. That is more than I can grasp. What do you think my brothers and sisters will say? asked Ephron.

They will not believe you, said Anah. Even if they did, they would not act. They probably do not even know what needs to be done.

That is why my wife Mahalath and our virgin daughter, Shelometh, and I are coming with you, said Yovav. We will attempt to make the case. What would they like as a gift?

Meat, said Tawananna. Hunting has been poor.

Then it has already begun. Ephron turned to face the speaker. My name is Elon. The man was about Ephron’s age. Yovav is my father and Shelometh my younger sister.

Game is plentiful, said Elon. There is only one reason you are not finding game. Nimrod’s men, or some group which has broken away from Nimrod, attempts to weaken you. They want your city. They are either taking or driving away your game. I suspect that you are correct, and there are probably many of them around here. I will join you for the return trip. You might need the extra sword. Come, we need to get to your walls by sundown.

Who is this Nimrod? asked Tawananna.

You call him Gilgamesh, said Anah. We must remember that the sons of Zohar might not know the name Nimrod.

The treasures of the sons Zohar, said Ephron as they rose to depart, are family, honesty, and the blessings of Adonai Elohim of Noah. We count the sons of Anah as our cousins and therefore part of our family.

A half-dozen camels were quickly loaded with as many carcasses as they could drag on travois. Many hands made the work go quickly.

We need Elon to help with the camels, said Yovav. And this might be an extended stay for Malalath, Shelometh and I.

Chapter Three Return to Hattus

The camels do not want to cross the river, said Yovav. I see that you have trained your horses for fording water. Fording here is not risky. Still, the camels do not like it. It will be more work for us than the camels.

All six people had to pull, coax, and push each camel across the river. The work was not too difficult, because the river was wide and shallow, but the camels did not want to cross. In spite of their unwillingness, all six camels joined the horses on the north bank and soon they were on their way to Hattus.

The Marashantiya River is the boundary between our father Zohar and his brother Anah’s territory, said Ephron. It makes a large loop around our lands.

The muddy sand of the riverbank was thick with trees, grasses, and thousands of birds. The path was only wide enough to ride double file. The going was easier on the camels than the horses. The soil changed to hardpack when they had climbed about a bowshot above the waterline.

You will be very glad you are wearing cloth, my sister, said Shelometh. I do pray by Adonai Elohim who made heaven and earth that you are not offended by me calling you sister.

Why, no, said Tawananna. But why will I be glad I am wearing cloth?

In this wind, said Shelometh, you will be dry very soon. Your brother in his leather clothes will still be wet when we arrive at your village. The cloth that did not get completely wet is already dry. Shelometh motioned to Tawananna to allow her horse to separate from the others just enough so the rest would not hear them.

You have really never been to a city? asked Shelometh.

Really, said Tawananna. I have never left our own land before today. I crossed the river before, but I only came back.

A camel brayed and headed towards the girls. Shelometh laughed. Has that ever happened to you before?

Has what ever happened to me before?

That camel. He sniffs you. You are ready to bear children.

Tawananna sat up straight. We have never met before. Is this not ... inappropriate?

I am so sorry. I did not mean to offend. Do you not know what that means?

Peace children?

I will marry a son of Zohar and you will marry a son of Anah and that will marry our tribes. It is a common practice among cities fighting each other. It is the most peaceful and permanent way of joining two tribes.

Peace children, repeated Tawananna. No, I have never heard that term.

You were being inspected, examined if you like, the entire time you were there. The women will be asked what they think of you, how well they believe you will fit in. How well do you ride a horse? What do you know about camels? Can you keep quiet? Do you know how to work? Are you willing and quick to learn? You’ll have no problems with the men. All men care about is how good you look.

This was not at all what I expected.

What did you expect?

Some time with my brother. He’s busy all the time.

And you are not?

That’s different. I’m always with the other girls; cleaning, cooking, taking care of the horses, making clothes, decorating, keeping the fire going, gardening outside the walls...

I get the picture, laughed Shelometh. I’ve always wondered what living in the same place all the time was like. To go to sleep without being concerned that a raiding party would kill you in the middle of the night. Being able to go inside a building to get out of the rain. Having a place that was yours where you could keep more things than what would fit a camel’s saddlebag.

You ride camels?

Horses are for war. Horses are easier to control and are more maneuverable. But camels carry more, a lot more. Horses and camels eat about the same amount of the same thing, grass or hay. Camels are much better traveling through deserts with less water.

What is a desert?

The trail was now higher than the top of the cliff south of the river where Anah’s tribe pitched their tents. The trees, however, blocked the view behind them. Continuing on, the trees thinned and gave way to grassland with a steady uphill slope.

They rode in silence for several minutes before Shelometh answered. There are places on earth where you can ride for more than a day without finding any water to drink. There are few if any plants and nothing to eat. You must bring water to drink with you and horses need more water than camels and must drink more often. Caravans, at least the caravans I have seen and heard about, only use camels because camels are better than horses in the deserts. Horses are more likely to die in the deserts.

They rode on in silence several more minutes when startled birds arose, circling their small caravan, through the lush, nearly waist-high grasses by the pathway. Elon, riding point, sharply wheeled back off the trail, stopping where everyone could hear him.

What do the birds tell you? Elon asked.

That we startled them, said Shelometh .

Not us, said Elon. They flew toward us. Look back in direction they came from. They were startled by something over there.

Elon pointed to an area less than half a bowshot in front of them, not far from a turn in the path. A slight rise lead to an area of taller grasses. Behind the rise was a short embankment with a small stream on the other side. Though they could see the stream cross the path, the stream went behind the embankment on their left.

Food, said Ephron. Stop the animals. Tawananna, your bow.

Be careful, said Elon. I don’t think it’s food. It might be a pride of lions smelling this meat. You don’t want to be the prey instead of the hunter.

The horses do not seem to smell anything, said Ephron. He strung his bow and rode ahead.

Tawananna strung her bow while positioning her quiver in easy reach. She then nocked an arrow. She slowly followed her brother, allowing him to put a little space between them. Finally she slowed her horse even more to steady her aim.

That's the problem, said Yovav. The animals should smell whatever it is. We are downwind. The animals, especially the horses, should be reacting. Something is not right. I do not think this is an animal. Spears!

Yovav, Mahalath, Elon, and Shelometh put their spears into the battle-ready position, held high overhead, and followed close behind Tawananna. As Ephron approached the crest, Tawananna stopped her horse completely and drew her bow. When Ephron crested the rise, an armored man jumped out at him welding a long knife.

As soon as he appeared, Tawananna released her arrow. It hit him in the right shoulder, knocking him over and onto the path, causing Ephron’s horse to rear slightly and knock the bow out of Ephron's hand. The attacker was no closer than three cubits from Ephron. He jabbed at Ephron with his spear and missed. At the same time, two more men topped the ridge and quickly moved to attack Ephron. Each man received an arrow from Tawananna’s bow in their shield. The force of the arrows knocked both men over the ridge and out of sight. While Tawananna knocked a fourth arrow, the four horses with Yovov and his family passed her and the man on the ground disappeared over the ridge.

Tawananna raised her bow and brought it around to check for threats from other directions. Seeing nothing, she lower her bow and caught up to the others. They were all stopped in a small stream as the sound of horses running downstream could be heard for a great distance.

Let them go, said Ephron, retrieving his bow with his spear then unstringing it. We have to take care of the camels. Besides, it might be a trap.

They are from the cities of plain, said Yovov. If we were plainsmen, we would be dead now and they would have our loaded camels. They did not expect to be attacked by arrows, especially not from a woman. They thought that a surprise attack would take out the lead male quickly and easily. Then the odds would be in their favor; three men with weapons ready, mounted on the high ground against two men who had to protect property and women. They are not acquainted with bows nor women warriors.

Tawananna turned to Shelometh, unstrung her bow and put away her weapons. Did that impress you? asked Tawananna.

Yes, Elon. Very impressive.

Then it might surprise you to learn, said Tawananna, "that this is the first time I ever shot a man. Targets and animals, yes, but never a man before. I have never even shot at a man before."

It’s level until we get to Hattus, said Ephron. We should be inside the walls well before dark.

After several minutes of silence, Shelometh dropped back to be next to Tawananna. Can you teach me how to shoot like that?

Have you ever shot a bow before?

Yes, but I never even hit the target. Well, I hit the target once.

How straight were your arrows? Do you know how to check your fletchings? How heavy are your arrowheads? How long are your arrows? How long was your bow? What kind of wood do you use? How was it cured? What do use for your anchor point? What do you use for bowstring?

The horses took a few steps in silence. Shelometh asked, What is fletching?

Tawananna pulled an arrow from her quiver and without any hint of either sarcasm or arrogance said, These feathers are called fletching. They stabilize the arrow in flight. Without fletching, arrows travel in unpredictable flightpaths. With fletching, arrows travel in straight lines. Fletching is so important that I make all of my own arrows.

And for many others as well, called Ephron from his lead position. She makes much of our archery equipment. We have thousands of arrows ready for the hunt. Look, the tower of Hattus.

The white tower of Hattus reflected the last rays of the evening sun like a mirror. It transformed the small limestone village into an impressive fortress.

Inside the walls of Hattus, Zohar’s tribe and guests feasted until long after the sun had completely disappeared and the stars dominated the night sky. The few original Hattics, now less than a dozen total, lived in small houses outside the walls. The Hattics were invited and joined in the feasting and festivities. These Hattics were the only ones who had not intermarried with the sons of Heth. Except for living outside the walls, they were treated as family.

The joyous music and games continued until Yovov asked for an audience, stopping the music. Tawananna and Ephron stored their lyres along with the other musicians. Every one of the sons of Zohar played some type of a stringed instrument.

Over one hundred men, women, and children surrounded Yovov to hear what he had to say. Though the entire courtyard glowed in a near-silent semicircle of fires and torches, they moved into the dining area with its reflective stone walls, floor and ceiling. The dining area was almost as bright as day with additional oil lamps positioned around the benches and tables.

I want these back, said Yovov as he walked around handing out pieces of clay. Take a good look at them.

Yovov paused to make certain everyone had a good look. The gazelles should be close enough to hunt in two days. We will work together just like last year. We have brought enough food so that we can spend tomorrow in preparation instead of going hunting. For tonight, I want you examine what I handed out. Do any of you know what these are? Have any of you seen one of these before?

Kiln-fired bricks, said Zohar. They are made in abundance in the cities of the plain. But they do not fit together well, shaped like this. Why are the edges rounded? They are smaller than any brick I have ever seen. And what are these markings which cover the top and the bottom? Are they special decorations?

These marking on the large flat areas are letters, said Yovov. Letters represent sounds. Combinations of letters make words. When it is all put together it is called writing. The dried clay is called a tablet.

So what? asked Dumu. What are tablets and writing good for?

You can talk to people without going to see them, said Yovov. You can write several tablets that are identical and send the same message to many different people in different places. You can leave records for other people to read.

If someone has to deliver the tablet, said Dumu, they could just tell them. I still do not see the value of writing on tablets. It’s just a lot of work.

Do you people trust your brother Taku? asked Yovov. Everyone nodded in assent. Taku, Would you please take my wife, Mahalath, my son Elon, and my daughter Shelometh far enough from here so that they cannot possible hear what we are saying.

The four left, went into a room at the far end of the compound, and shut the door.

Now Dumu, said Yovov. Tell me something they could not possibly know. Did you bring back any rabbits from your hunting today?

We killed, skinned, and brought back twelve rabbits, said Dumu. And we saw a wild ox, but it ran away.

Yovov produced a large stick and smoothed the dirt in front of him. Can everyone see this? Again, everyone nodded in assent. Anyone who can not see this? Yovov then used one end of the stick to make the wedge-shaped cuneiform letters.

"This is the word for killed. This is the word for twelve and this is rabbits. This is the word for skinned. These four words are all on the same line, which means they go together. This word on the next line means it is a new thought, a new sentence. It says we saw. The next word is wild ox. The last word says ran away.

Yovov stood up and said, Now bring my family back, one at a time.

His wife, Mahalath came first.

Did you hear or did anyone tell you what we said? asked Yovov.

No.

What does this message say?

Killed twelve rabbits and skinned them. We saw a wild ox but it ran away.

Elon and Shelometh each returned separately and repeated the same words the same way their mother had.

If this were a clay tablet, said Yovov, we could fire it and give this message to someone who did not know it. They could give the tablet to someone else. They could keep giving the same message on the tablet to other people. Everyone who reads the tablets would know what it says.

So what do these tablets of yours say? asked Dumu. That is what this is all about. Am I correct?

And who wrote them? asked Adah.

You are correct, Dumu and Adah, said Yovov. He went around, collected all the tablets,and put them on a table. He picked one out and handed it his daughter, Shelometh.

This tablet, said Yovov, I brought to prove that I am not trying to trick you. Shelometh, please read that out loud.

Shelometh studied the tablet silently for a few seconds, looking puzzled, before reading loudly. One hundred ephahs of barley. Two hundred ephahs of wheat. One hundred baths of olive oil. Fifty spindles of flax spun into linen thread. Three large jars of colored dye, one red, one blue, and one green. Given to Hamath by Jerzul in exchange for one talent of silver in Yadiya. Second copy.

Does everyone understand the value of keeping records of trades? asked Yovov.

His audience nodded, almost in unison.

And more important, continued Yovov, does everyone trust that we are honestly reading what is written on the tablets?

After some hesitation, assents were given again. Yovov looked at several tablets before choosing one. He read in a loud voice.

From Te’oma: Balawat burned by the Assyrians. Every male killed. Every female is captive. We cannot defend Ninawa Province. The entire province will fall to the Assyrians before Spring. Most of the cites of Ninawa Province are abandoned. We must move north. Regroup at Artap. Must have more soldiers to take the land to the north. Will make the people we find soldiers. We will take back Balawat and all Ninawa.

Yovov set the tablet on a table and looked around the tribe. Ephron walked forward and picked up the tablet Yovov had just set down. He studied it, then set it down again.

Yes, said Ephron. That is what the tablet says.

Surprised to learn that Ephron could read, Yovov continued.

The rest of the tablets have details of what happened to them, said Yovov. If you are interested, we will read them tomorrow. The important information is that these soldiers will be here in a few months. They intend to take your land and either make of you, and of us, slaves, or kill us. They also intend to kill many of your Hittite brothers because we are all weak.

We have seen armed soldiers the last two days, said Elon. They all wear the same armor as the three men who attacked us today.

You were attacked today? asked Sephar. The child grabbed his father.

A man in armor hid behind the ridge to the south. You can see the ridge from the top of the tower, said Ephron. He waited for me to pass, then lunged with a drawn sword. Your aunt, Tawananna, shot him with an arrow which hit him in his right shoulder, knocking him over. Two more men came over the ridge behind him. Tawananna shot these those two men, hitting his shield. The force of the arrows knocked them over the other side of the ridge. All three then mounted horses and fled down the stream.

Yovov said, We need your help. We and many other sons of Heth have nothing to fortify. Yes, we are better hunters, but we have no stone-cutting skills and no villages. Our land would make poor fortresses. The men of Nimrod – excuse me – Gilgamesh, have no stone cutting skills. They make their buildings out of brick. This mountain has forests which can provide timber, fields which could be cultivated, and water. Enough water to provide for everyone on earth. You could provide for caravans to come here in safety. Trade routes would come through Hattus. Perhaps caravans could come to Hattus from Yadiya, then return to Yadiya, then come back to Hattus.

No, you do not have to help us and your other brothers, Yovov continued. But if you do nothing, you will either be killed or become their slaves. Of course you could flee. But where will you go? Zohar, will you be as wicked as your grandfather Canaan and take land that does not belong to you? Land our ancestor Noah gave to someone else? By Adonai Elohim, this is your birthright. This is the land Adonai Elohim allotted to you. Are you going to allow others to steal your land, murder your sons, and force your wives and daughters to be their wives?

Zohar, my father, your brother Anah sent five sons to Heth today. They should be back next week, finished Yovov.

Thank you for the meat, said Zohar. We enjoyed it and this was cause for rejoicing. It was a joyous occasion. Tonight we sleep. We will talk more about this after the morning sacrifice.

As the tribe dispersed, each family headed for their personal room. Zohar motioned to Yovov and his family. My wife Nebajoth will show you to the guest room. It has a dozen beds and a bath. Do you need oils or soaps?

No, said Yovov.

If you want hot water, said Nabajoth, you will have to carry a pot. Use this one. It’s too heavy for me. The water in your room is cold.

Thank you very much, said Shelometh. I’ve never slept in a room before.

Let me take that, said Elon as he lifted the bronze pot of boiling water.

Yovov, said Zohar. Let them go. May I speak with you a moment?

Yovov nodded and the rest began the long trek to opposite side of the courtyard. Zohar waited a few seconds until he believed the rest were out of earshot.

Yovov, if we do as you suggest, build fortifications, train to fight, make weapons, and are successful, how will we be any different from the people of Shinar?

We will worship Adonai.

I fear that we will become exactly what we are fighting against. I do not see any way of preventing it.

Noah trusted in Adonai. We must do the same.

When will your tribe be here?

Two dozen men rode out on camels today to divert the gazelles further south. The rest of the tribe are packing up and should be here by noon tomorrow.

Thank you, my brother.

Oh, one more issue, said Yovov. We sent a delegation north to Heth today. They should return a few days after the hunt is finished. They are coming here.

Zohar nodded, Thank you again. Good night, my brother.

Chapter Four Preparations

Akiia offered the morning sacrifice of a male goat. The altar of uncut stones was slightly more than two cubits high. After prayers to Adonai, he evenly distributed the goat meat. There was very little for each person to eat. It was supplemented with barley cakes and some of the meat Yovov brought. The pot with mostly vegetables was available for anyone still hungry.

Zohar’s tribe sat for meals by families, children with their mothers and fathers. The unmarried adults sat wherever there was room, but usually sat with their parents. The wooden planked benches could slide under the smooth stone tables. Though the tables were too big to easily move, most of the short, backless wooden benches could easily be carried by two people. Two to four people could sit on one bench and they could be placed end-to-end. The dining area stood in the east where two walls met, making a corner about 120 degrees. A thick mobile wall on one side provided complete protection from the wind when it was connected to the small oven. The oven acted as a wall and with the mobile wall kept the room warm in the winter. The mobile wall had an ornately-carved wooden frame, leather on both sides, and was filled with many years worth of old leather scraps for insulation. The leather panels had geometric patterns in a variety of colors on both sides. Even with the mobile wall in place, there was still an open side, though it was sheltered from the prevailing winds. A single thick piece of leather was sewn to the roof on the open side, between the main stone wall of the village and the oven. It could be closed in cold weather and propped open in the summer as an awning. Though it was thick, it could be rolled up and fastened to the roof if the awning was not needed. Completely enclosed, the dining area could only seat about two hundred people. But it could easily seat five hundred people when opened all the way by removing the mobile wall and opening the leather awning.

When Ephron finished, he washed his utensils, put the lanyard around his neck, and moved to the back corner where the walls, floor, and ceiling would amplify his speech.

By noon today we should have over nine hundred guests, the tribe of our uncle Anah. We will work with them as we have in the past. They will pitch their tents outside the walls. Tomorrow by noon field-dressed gazelles should begin arriving. If anyone needs help, I will find you some help. Please understand! I will not be helping you. I will find someone to help you.

The tribe laughed as they rose to their respective duties.

Why did Ephron speak to the tribe? Yovov asked Zohar. That should be your job.

Zohar looked around and spoke in a low voice. I am not able to.

Our father Anah is more than three times your age, said Yovov.

I use dyes, said Zohar. Otherwise my hair would be completely white. Without treatments of oils and moisturizers, my skin would be wrinkled.

But you’re such a young man, said Yovov. You’re about forty years younger than I am. How old are you? Seventy?

About that, said Zohar. He sat down in a large chair with a solid wood frame and thick brown leather with soft sheepskin on the seat and back. The evidence of weakness was obvious when he sat. His back was bent and his eyes were cloudy.

Yovov bent down and looked at him carefully. You were healthy last year at this time. What happened?

I do not know, said Zohar. Sometimes I feel fine. But other times, like today, I am so weak, I cannot stand for more than a few minutes.

I have never seen anything like this, said Yovov.

Nor I, said Ephron. He walked up with his mother Nebajoth. As you can see, my mother is still able to bear children. We have no idea what happened in this last year.

You need an Egyptian doctor, said Shelometh. Or a Chaldean. The Chaldeans and the Egyptians are excellent physicians.

No physician can undo what has already been done, said Zohar. How could we pay a physician?

You remain poor, said Yovov, when this village could become a wealthy trading hub. Perhaps even the greatest city on earth.

We remain faithful to Adonai Elohim of Noah, said Zohar. How long would faithfulness to Adonai last as a wealthy trading hub?

You know that this is not going to last much longer, whatever you choose, said Yovov. Do you speak for your entire tribe? Or is everyone going to do what is right in their own eyes? Are you preparing someone to take your place? Or will you, like the cities of Nimrod, start fighting among yourselves?

Zohar slumped in his seat, looking even more tired. I have chosen Ephron, though he is not the oldest. There has not been enough time. This came on so fast.

Zohar, asked Yovov. Did you talk about your choices with your wife, your sons, or anyone else?

Some, with my wife, said Zohar. "I will probably not be

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