Sunday, October 26, 2014

Lech-Lecha: Avram's War of the 4 Kings Against the 5--Can There Ever Be Peace?

Lech-Lecha: The War of the Four Kings Against the Five
(Loosely Based on Gen. 14)

            I am Eliezer, Chief Steward to my Master, Avram ben Terach, follower of the Invisible God. My Master is a good man—most of the time, that is: sometimes, he has what my Mistress Sarah calls his “moods”—when he must be alone; that is, when we know to leave him be, and the other servants come to me (and not to him) for directions: what to do, where to go. It is not hard work, shepherding; I have been doing it all my life. We are up with the dawn—with the livestock, that is, and we alternate staying awake all night, armed with stout sticks and slingshots to ward off any wolves, hyenas, or even the lions we have seen prowling about.
            But this is the Wilderness, which belongs to All, and to None; that is what my Master Avram says; it is where his God speaks to him, out there, in the Lonely Places. Sometimes, he will take a few pieces of matzo in his leathern pouch; perhaps some cheese, if Mistress Sarah can prevail upon him, and a bottle of water—water, only, for my Master never drinks wine; he says that it clouds his Vision. Mistress Sarah will plead that he not go out alone, that the Desert is dangerous, but he will shout against her fretting, and stamp out in anger—
            But then, my Mistress, who raised me from boyhood, who was almost a Mother to me, will beckon, and say, “Go, go, my Eliezer—go and follow your Master Avi, lest he do something harmful, something foolish, all alone, out there in the Darksome Night—“
            --And I will smile, and nod, and put my hood upon my head, take my oaken staff, and follow—but at a distance. I am My Lord Avram’s Protector; let no one come near him, for he is a Follower of the Invisible God, and I—I follow—him.
            That was fine; that was all well and good. But our little family—and here, I include my Master’s Concubine, Hagar the Egyptian—she and Mistress never did get along, with that wild little boy, that hellion Ishmael, who was full of tricks and jokes from his day of Birth, it seemed, and could never hold still long enough to learn the God-Wisdom his Father Avram had to teach—though he took greater interest in my showing him the life of a Shepherd, ‘til he grew old enough to know his own mind better, and chose to hunt, instead—I say, the Outside World crept in—
            For the Four—or is it Five, or Six?—Kings—Chedorlaomer, he of the unpronounceable name, and the massive Girth, and a Sow’s-Belly that could hold fifty se’ahs of barley beer (for I visited him once, in his war-tent, with a massive peace-offering of fine fat sheep and goats, a tun of beer, and a salutation from my Master, that His Exalted Majesty might please leave Avram’s kin alone from his depredations)—and all the others Kings—their names I do not know, nor do I care; we wish only, our Avram-Clan, to live in Peace—
            --But Lote, the Nephew of my Master, foolishly chose to live in Sodom and Gomorrah; or, should I say, his Wife—what was her name?—did the choosing for him; “City Living is the best!” I recall her saying, while I bowed, and scraped, and kept the beer and wine and food-platters full to the brimming before my Master’s guests, that Harvest-Feast, when Lote and his Family deigned to visit us—but, see now! What his lazy urban way-of-life has gotten him! For, caught between the warring forces, Lote’s been kidnapped!
            Which is why we, my Master, and our men—three-hundred-eighteen be our number, a band of fighters skilled, tough, and deadly, yeomen strong and loyal to our Master and his God—were encamped here, beneath the Stars, and waiting, ‘til the Battle-Won Victory Caravan from King C’dor, and Tid’ahl, Am’raf’el—and—I cannot remember their names—but on they came, laden heavily with booty, with prisoners, women, children, beaten down—including Lote, his wife, and his two daughters, ragged, filthy, bloody, crying, wailing—we watched as the long parade passed by, in the Siddim Valley below, carefully skirting the tar-pits there, and, when the armed warriors in the front passed by, we fell upon the rear, surprising them, garroting sentries, beheading spearmen, stealing war-mules, smote them, hip-and-thigh—
            And freed the Captives, hurrying off, into the Night. We were not there to defeat a major Force of Rebel Kings, y’see: we were there to free our kin, our Lote, and his family. Mission accomplished!
            When we returned, much joy! For Mistress Sarah, Hagar the Concubine, and all the Womenfolk turned out, and made a Victory Celebration—with a Surprise Guest: one Melchizedek, a Priest of El-Elyon, who blessed our Master, “Blessed be Avram of God-Most-High,” he said, while we all bowed. And then, the drinking began! Health! Freedom! L’chaim!

            And now, our swords are sheathed, our shields are stacked, and we repose from battle. May El-Elyon, God-Most-High of Avram and Melchizedek, ensure that Eternal Peace reign o’er this Land, that Battle Not Be Heard Herein, Forevermore! Amen.