Sunday, July 15, 2018

I Am Trump's Brain


I am Trump’s Brain

by David Hartley Mark

Everyone in the entire world—men, women, kids—should listen to me. I know everything about everything.

I don’t want to rule the world, but I do want to defend the USA. My ideas will give my government and my people the ability to do this. Nobody has ideas like mine, because no one is as smart as I am.

I really like Putin—I call him “Vlad”—and I hope that he likes me, too. I want to be just like him.

Europe is full of sh*t. When will they realize that I can squash them flat? Time for a trade war with the EU!

I want—I really, really want—a trade war with China. I’m gonna get back at all those Chinamen for everything they’ve done to us.

See, my strategy is to keep changing, keep on moving. That way, when Mueller tries to slam his fake investigation on me, all of my Base will defend me. Simple.

Well, maybe I’d like to be King of the World. Who said that? Oh, yeah—“Titanic.” That’s what I want to be: titanic.

My guy, Kavanaugh, will change everything about SCOTUS. What matters is not a judge’s political views but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the constitution require. But mainly, what I require. Who cares about the Law?

I never contradict myself. Everyone should believe everything I say. That’s what I mean by my being a stable genius.

I think what has happened to Europe is a shame. Allowing the immigration to take place in Europe is a shame. I think it changed the fabric of Europe and, unless you act very quickly, it’s never going to be what it was and I don’t mean that in a positive way. So I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad. I think they are losing their culture.

Sadiq Khan, the (Muslim) mayor of London, is responsible for terrorism in that city — because he allows immigrants to live there.

Well, that’s enough for today. I’m hungry. Where is my guy with the three double cheeseburgers, two shakes, three fries and a large apple pie?

Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai and Tisha B'Av, as Told by Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah


Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai and Tisha B’Av

by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Note: Tisha B’Av, the Ninth Day of the Month of Av, is the saddest day in the Jewish year—a fast of historical catastrophes, from the evil report of Moses’s spies, to the defeat of the Warsaw Ghetto Fighters. It is followed, however, by Shabbat Nachamu (The Sabbath of Comfort), and by the time of reconciliation between God and the People Israel, culminating in the High Holy Days. Following is a telling of how Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai saved Judaism from complete and utter destruction, during the Roman Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE.

I am Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah. I survived the siege of Jerusalem, the worst Holocaust of our time. It was my teacher and guide, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, who truly saved our faith and our Torah; I was but an instrument of his plan, and God’s.
It was madness for our tiny nation of Judea (so the Romans called it; so are our people called “Jews” to this day) to attempt to gain its freedom from the mighty Roman Empire. It was all the plan of the Zealots, a radical, angry subgroup of our people, the Pharisees. Had they not erupted, our people would have continued to study Torah and live Jewish lives—not like the Sadducees, who sucked up to the Romans and based all of their practices in the Holy Temple. And I will not dwell on the Essenes, who ran off like the cowards they are, to the shores of the Salt Sea, where nothing ever grows. They were awaiting Messiah and Armageddon, but we rabbis knew that no such event would take place in our day. How could it, when the land was full of corruption, with Jews fighting Romans, and one another?
And so, the Revolt began. The trigger was the arrival of Gessius Florus to be Roman Procurator for our country. He was the most rapacious of all, practicing avarice, extortion, corruption and oppression of our people. His favorite tools were massacre and savagery; truly, he treated our people like cattle, unlike the Roman subjects we were, and worthy of receiving the rights of any Roman.
The last straw was Florus’s ordering his Roman troops to run rampant through the streets of Jerusalem, killing anyone in their way—Jews, in particular. Our people fought back: from the roofs of their houses, they threw stones and darts at their oppressors. Unable to maneuver in the narrow streets, his soldiers retreated.
I will not give all the details, but, eventually, General Vespasian and four full Roman Legions came to our land, with orders to utterly destroy it. Around the walls of Jerusalem, they built a circumvallation, a siege wall, preventing anyone from entering or escaping. It did not take long for famine and plague to set in, aided by the dead, diseased cattle which Vespasian catapulted over the city walls. At first, our hungry, foolish people cut off and roasted chunks of the meat, only to sicken and die.
We rabbis and students were desperate—those of us who were still alive. Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai did not know what to do. He laid aside his Talmud studies and cried out to God, for three days and nights. Finally, he came to me and my study partner, Rabbi Joshua, like a man in a trance, his cheekbones visible beneath his grey beard, like a wraith.
“We must leave this city,” he whispered to the two of us, while we watched the distant fires consuming the buildings of Herod’s Jerusalem.
“But, Rabbi,” said Joshua, “the Zealots hold the city gate, and will prevent anyone from leaving—and, even if we were able to leave, the Roman siege wall would make it impossible to proceed further.”
“I have prayed to the LORD GOD, Maker of Heaven and Earth,” said our rabbi, “and He commands me to do this.”
“I fear both the Zealots’ lances, and the Roman swords, my Rabbi,” I said, feeling my bones tremble.
“Take courage, my sons,” said Rabban Yochanan, “for God has given me a plan. We will pass the word throughout the streets of Jerusalem, that I have died of the plague. You will help me climb into a coffin, and carry me to the city gates. My clever student, Eliezer, will talk our way past the guards.”
“And then?” asked Joshua.
“Trust in the Lord,” said our teacher, and shook our hands. His were ice-cold.
We followed his instructions, carrying our teacher’s body to the gates. So thin had he grown from the famine, that he was light and easy to carry. We explained to the Zealots that our rabbi and teacher had died, and we wished to leave to give him proper burial. It was nighttime, the better to hide in the darkness.
“Who is this great Rabban Yochanan?” asked the taller of the two Zealot guards. I recognized him: he was an ignorant wagon-driver, no scholar of Torah. “I do not know any of you rabbis by name—how do I know that he is dead? Let me open the coffin, and run him through with my spear!”
The other Zealot saved us—he was Bar Kamza; we had sat next to one another on the same bench in Hebrew School, years before. He had lived in the streets after his parents died; his face was filthy, his eyes like tragic moons. But I pray that his soul reside in the highest heavens, for saving us.
“Tomer, this is a great rabbi!” he hissed, pointing his spear at the Tall One’s belly, and the bumpkin backed off. “Do you not know your Jewish Law, that it is forbidden to desecrate the bodies of the dead?” He then turned to us. “Take your rabbi, and bury him, with proper rite and ceremony,” he said, “and God have mercy on his soul.” The Zealots opened the gates.
As soon as we could duck into the shadows of the city walls, we put the coffin down gently, and helped our rabbi climb out.
“Quick, Boys!” said Rabban Yochanan, and amazed both Joshua and myself by racing off toward the camp of General Vespasian.
“We have news for the General,” gasped the rabbi to a sentry, when we reached the camp. The soldier looked puzzled, but he let us through, after he and a comrade patted us down for weapons. He then directed us to Vespasian’s tent.
Joshua held open the tent-flap and we entered, my rabbi and me. The tent was large, but filled with maps, empty flagons of wine and bread-crusts littered about, and Roman officers and enlisted men, all hurrying back-and-forth with dispatches. Every few minutes, another cavalryman would either gallop off, instructions-scroll in hand, or arrive, swinging off his mud-spattered horse, and pushing past us. In the midst of it all sat General Vespasian, shaven-headed, broken-nosed, looking like a boxer ready for the games in the Coliseum. He nodded alertly when an officer stepped forward with a report, or ignored another whose counsel he did not desire.
A self-important Praefectus Castrorum, third-in-command of the Tenth Legion (Fretensis), Vespasian’s home legion, stepped forward, sword-in-hand to block our way.
“What business have you here, Jews?” he spat out. He was clearly no friend of our people. I wondered if he had been one of Florus’s bullyboys, and how many of us he had killed with that sword.
“If it please the Praefect,” answered Rabban Yohanan, and I heard the steel in his voice, “we desire an audience with the general. We—I—have news for him, urgent news.”
The Praefect was taken aback. It was as though our rabbi had put him in a trance. As we watched, he saluted Rabban Yohanan—something no Roman soldier, much less an officer, would ever do! Then, he walked to Vespasian’s command table, and pushed to the front of the officers.
“What do you mean by disturbing my council of war, Gallus?” barked Vespasian, slamming his hand on the table, “I have no time for interruptions.”
“If it please your honor,” said the Praefect meekly, “the three rabbis (How did he know we were rabbis?) over there have news for you.”
“News? News?” laughed Vespasian in a deep voice, “I would be happy for news; good, that is. Show me a secret way into that infernal city!”
“I beg your pardon, General,” said our rabbi in a voice that filled the tent, “But I must greet you with, not ‘Hail General of Rome,’ but rather, ‘Hail, Caesar!’”
“Caesar? Caesar?” asked Vespasian crossly, “I am no Caesar, but merely his lackey legionary, sent to carry out this disgusting mission. Why am I commanded to murder innocent women and children? Hey? Perhaps I should behead these gadfly rabbis….”
Suddenly, the tent-flaps were opened wide, and a young Roman herald entered, bearing a scroll with a golden cord. He was muddy from the trip, and yawning—until he laid eyes on the general.
“Hail, Imperator Caesar Vespasianus Augustus—Hail, Caesar!” he called out. The legionaries, officers and enlisted men, looked up, startled—but then, quickly bent down on one knee.
“What is this?” Vespasian asked, startled once more, “Herald! Give me your charge.”
The tired young soldier-messenger bowed, and then passed his scroll to the general. Vespasian slid off the cord, scanned it quickly, and his eyes widened.
“It-seems-that-I-am-the-new-Caesar,” he said, slowly. He sank back onto his three-legged stool. “Vitellius is dead, that fool. Well, I never expected him to survive as long as he did—still, it was a horrible death he suffered, killed by Flavian troops and his body dumped into the Tiber. Ha!” he barked, “So. Rabbi. Come forward!”
A tribune made as if to push forward our rabbi, but a sharp glance from Rabban Yohanan made him change his mind.
“You were first to announce me as Caesar, long before the herald arrived,” he asked our teacher, tapping his teeth impatiently. “So. Are you a sorcerer, O Mighty Rabbi-Prophet?”
“I am but a servant of the Lord God Who dwells in the heavens, Great Caesar,” said our rabbi, slowly.
“Well, let’s get down to business—you people excel at business, do you not? When you’re not committing suicide by warring against the entire Empire, I mean. What is your desired reward for being first to call me Caesar? Gold? Diamonds? A boat to escape this wretched country? Speak!” ordered Vespasian.
“If it please you, Great and Fair Ruler,” answered the rabbi, “All I wish for is the town of Yavneh, there to build a yeshiva, a Talmudical Academy. I will thereby save our faith—”
Vespasian stared at him. “This is a small thing,” he said, “and I expected greater. Pah! Bid Jerusalem farewell, Rabbi—the city is doomed—and go build your school!”


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Robert Graves, Poet, on Wars and Lies




The first casualty of war is truth

--Hiram Johnson to US Senate in 1917

The Persian Version

Truth-loving Persians do not dwell upon
The trivial skirmish fought near Marathon.
As for the Greek theatrical tradition
Which represents that summer’s expedition
Not as a mere reconnaissance in force
By three brigades of foot and one of horse
(The left flank covered by some obsolete 
Light craft detached from the main Persian fleet)
But as a grandiose, ill-starred attempt
To conquer Greece – they treat it with contempt;
And only incidentally refute
Major Greek claims, by stressing what repute
The Persian Monarch and the Persian nation
Won by this salutary demonstration:
Despite strong defence and adverse weather
All arms combined magnificently together.

Robert Graves 1945
(Footnote: this poem refers to the battle of Marathon (490 BCE), a catastrophic defeat of the Persians by the Greeks, and was written by Robert Graves during World War 2. It is a satire on the  contemporary official comments on British military defeats by British military authorities, though it could equally well be applied to Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq….and of course in ancient times too)

--Quoted from the website, creativeconflictwisdom.wordpress.com


Mattote-Massay: The Midianite War


Mattot-Massay: The Midianite War

by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

“The LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, ‘Avenge the Israelite people on the Midianites; then you shall be gathered to your kin.’
“Moses spoke to the people, saying, ‘Let men be picked out from among you for a campaign, and let them fall upon Midian to wreak the Lord’s vengeance against Midian. You shall dispatch on the campaign a thousand from every one of the tribes of Israel. …Pinchas ben Elazar served as a priest on the campaign, equipped with the sacred utensils and the trumpets for sounding the blasts….They took the field against Midian, as the Lord had commanded Moses, and slew every male.”
--Num. 31:1-3, 6-7

Field Report, Military Command, Midianite Forces in Canaan
Submitted by Generals Evi & Rekem
Joint Chiefs of Tribal Conscript Army, Midianite Nation

As Transcribed by Sgt. Pi-Baal, Recording Secretary

1.      On the 29th day of the Month-of-the-Moon, our scouts detected a dust cloud in the west, signifying movement, as if by a great army. Asherat-Busha, our sharp-eyed Chief Scout, identified them as Israelite Bedouin, by their garb, as well as the presence of a War-Priest, later identified as Pinchas ben Elazar, sounding a trumpet of silver, and waving a censer in his other hand.

2.      We mustered our troops and ordered our cavalry to mount their four-wheeled chariots. After a quick consultation, Generals Tsur and Reva decided that our infantry, well-equipped with bronze swords and shields of wood and leather, would assemble in pincer-formation, with the cavalry held in reserve for a final charge, once our foot soldiers surrounded and wiped out most of the Israelite rabble. Then, the cavalry would mop up any survivors.

3.      Chief Scout Asherat-Busha also detected the presence of their prophet, one Moses ben Amram, seated near the top of a nearby hill. He was striving to keep his arms aloft, but was too weak to do so. Our War-Prophet, Ben-Milchama, deemed this a good omen.

4.      Curiously, a great black cloud, as from a burning brazier, preceded the Israelites. Ben-Milchama prophesied that this cloud symbolized the evil intent of the Israelites. To entice Baal to our side, he exhorted our men to beat their shields with their lances or swords, thereby producing a tumult that would frighten the Israelites, and show them that we Midianites are not to be under-estimated for prowess or bravery.

5.      To respond to the Israelite threat, our War-Priest, Raash ben Kol, lit several smudge-pots, whose smoke blew towards the Israelites. Our men’s shield-beating continued.

6.      When our forces met in combat, our men availed themselves well; the Tribes of Menashe and Zebulon panicked and ran away, allowing our charioteers to chase them and pick them off, though some few escaped. The tribes of Gad and Reuven—it was easy to distinguish them, since each tribe held its standard high, as a means of communication—did, however, shouting, “Gilead! For Gilead!” work as shock-troops, inflicting a deal of wounds and death on our Midianite Division 17, Brigade 6. That command would have been completely wiped out, had Moses not lowered his arms from fatigue. Our boys rallied and, forming a phalanx, were able to defend themselves from these fanatical Reuvenites and Gadites, whom they drove off in disarray.

7.       The battle ended with our troops triumphant, and the Israelites beaten back to their own lines. No booty was available or seized, with the exception of the vessels carried by Pinchas ben Elazar, who was a madman in the midst of the battle—it took four of our best warriors to subdue and kill him. We are in the midst of discussions with the Israelites about prisoner exchange; they seem eager to have Pinchas’s carcass returned, which gives us stronger bargaining power.

8.      Finally, a foot-patrol sent out to spy on the Israelites’ post-battle activities reports that the Tribe of Reuven is rebuilding the destroyed towns of Cheshbon, El-aleh, and four others (so small and worthless, as to not deserve mention in an official dispatch). We are still discussing our response to this scandalous activity—as if these Bedouins believe that they shall conquer and inherit the land from us!—but will probably decide to leave them to their folly, and do nothing further of an aggressive nature, save to defend ourselves, our sacred honor, and our Land, Baal protect us!

Submitted, this day of Ur-Sin, the Moon-god, by Sgt. Pi-Baal, Secretary


Sunday, July 1, 2018

Pinchas: War and Prophecy


Pinchas: War and Prophecy

by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Attack and afflict the Midianites and smite them utterly—for they afflicted you by the trickery they practiced against you, because of the matter of Baal Peor, where the Israelites engaged in promiscuity with the Daughters of Midian, and because of the matter of Cozbi bat Tsur, daughter of a Midianite chieftain.’”
--Numbers 25:16-18

Scene: The Command Tent of the Israelite Defense Force. Seated on a low stool, studying handmade charts and maps of the Midianite Army, is General-in-Chief Joshua ben Nun. On his right hand sits Brigadier General Calev ben Yefunneh, Joshua’s aide-de-camp and closest confidante. Also present are Col. Peretz of the Tribe of Judah, and Lt. Col. Ahiram of the Tribe of Benjamin. These two do not like each other, and often glance sideways to keep a close eye on their rival.

Calev (to Joshua): General, that was a very impressive ceremony at the Shrine of God, when Elazar the Priest commissioned you as successor of Moses. I especially enjoyed when Elazar, wearing the Urim v’Tumim, the twelve precious and semi-precious stones on his priestly breastplate, asked the Lord, “Will this one, Joshua ben Nun, succeed Your prophet, rabbi, and leader of Israel, Moses ben Amram?” For, then—

Ahiram: And then, not to interrupt you, Brigadier Calev, but the precious stones—

Peretz: --lit up! A wonder, truly.

(Calev and the two rivals for leadership speak all at once, their words overlapping one another’s.)

Joshua (raising a hand): Silence! Will you two officers be still, or must I clear the tent? And you, Brigadier, will you behave like a schoolboy, in this time of crisis?

(The three quiet down, gradually)

Joshua (continuing): We have not yet accomplished that which we set out to do, here in our Council of War: that is, to inflict serious hurt upon the Midianites, rout their forces, steal their cattle, and abduct any women worthy of our attention, to make wives for our bachelors. Thus will we add to the Congregation of the Lord!

Calev: If it please you, General, should we not spare the women? After all, the Lord is displeased with them—they took a leading role in seducing our menfolk, and seem to be most effective at turning our weaker-minded fellow Israelites away from the worship of the One True God.

Joshua (Sighing; he feels the burden of leadership all too keenly): Well, Calev, what would you have me do? We must bloody them, to teach them that one does not attack us. In addition, a military defeat and abduction of their women will also teach the hostile tribes that camp all around us, that one does not attack Israel, the People of God, with impunity. (Turning to the colonels) What think you, my colonels? Shall we practice against the Midianites as they did to us?

Ahiram (puzzled): I agree that we should put their crops and homes to the torch, Milord Joshua, but do not understand how we can reciprocate against the Midianite women as they treated us. It is not in the nature of our faith to practice orgies—would you have our women seduce Midianite men, as their women did to ours?

Joshua (as Calev shakes his head vigorously): God forbid! No: I mean to abduct the women, so that they help to increase our numbers, by pairing with our men.

Peretz: I support the suggestion—or is it an order?—of General Joshua.

Joshua: Then, we agree (All shout out, “Aye! Aye! That we do!” But suddenly, the tent-flap parts, and Serah bat Asher enters.). Oh, Mother Serach: what brings you to our Council of War? Women do not generally attend to these matters….

Serah: Joshua! I, Serah, knew you when your father Nun dandled you upon his knee. True, you are grown now, and Moses did well to appoint you his successor; but that does not put you beyond the advice of a Tribal Elder, and I am senior of all in that respect. What is this I hear, of your planning an abduction of Midianite women?

Joshua (smiling; he is humoring the old woman): Old Mother, how did you manage to hear our discussions? We were not speaking so loudly.

Serah: When one is a prophet, one can hear even eagle’s-eggs hatching, high up in her mountain nest. And your plans trouble me, Joshua.

Ahiram (interrupting): Who is this gray-haired termagant, and what gives her the right to interfere in our plans? Do you wield a sword and shield, Madame? Have you ever taken the field against the enemies of Israel? Why, you should depart, instantly—

Serah (pointing a long, bony finger at Ahiram): Be silent, Upstart! I guided Moses to retrieve the bones of Vice-Pharaoh Joseph from the depths of the Nile. I counseled Father Jacob when his several sons hesitated to inform him that Joseph was yet alive. I did all this, long before your great-great-grandfather was born! Do not presume, Young Man, to tell me my business.

Joshua (holding up a hand for silence): Col. Ahiram, apologize to Madame Serah. You have never met her, but she is our foremost and eldest prophet. She went down to Egypt with the Brothers, and lived to join the Exodus.

Serah: I will also enter the Land of Israel, for such is the prophecy. But that is not my affair, today. Joshua! I have orders for you to follow.

Calev: Begging your pardon, Madame Serah, but do they derive from the Lord, God of Israel?

Serah: Of course. Joshua! You are to attack and destroy the property of the Midianites—that is the practice of war, though I loathe it—but spare all the women and children. Not one Midianite woman will be abducted or assaulted by our Israelite men.

Peretz: Why, what a calumny is this! Am I not to have my Midianite sweetheart, Milord Joshua?

Serah (turning a gimlet eye on the young man): You, Peretz, will be lesser than your descendant, our most magnificent king of Israel, but also greater. (Turning to Ahiram) And you, Upstart, will have a future king of Israel go down from you—but he will be both mighty and weak. Heed what I say, and do not question. (She sweeps her cloak over her shoulders majestically, and leaves the tent.)

Calev: Why, that was an impertinent visit! Will you not arrest and judge her, General Joshua?

(Joshua looks thoughtfully at the tent-flap through which Serah departed, and shakes his head, slowly.)

Joshua: She speaks truth. (He sighs.) Brothers, let us resume our planning—but for vengeful war on Midian only, and no planned assaults on their women or children. It is the will of Serah, and the Lord.  

Monday, June 25, 2018

American Demagogue: Another Week Begins


American Demagogue

by David Hartley Mark

                                       Herr Goebbels is smiling in Hades,
                                      Machiavelli won’t say,
                                      “Got your back,”
                                      As we watch this contumelious windbag
                                      Go out and go long on attack.

                                      “The refugees cause crime all o’er Europe,
                                      “And Angela’s gov’t will fall!”
                                      The truth is that he is a liar,
                                      And little is happening at all.

                                      The babies are wailing for parents,
                                      The parents are doing the same:
                                      Trump finishes his third cheeseburger,
                                      Caring only for what’s left of his fame.

                                      “These dangerous kids are invading,
                                      “We must, quick! suspend rule of law.”
                                      You cannot find “law” in Trump’s cranium,
                                      As he stuffs more ice cream in his maw.

                                      “You cannot defeat him,” cry pundits,
                                      “He will only cry out to his Base.”
                                      With Obamacare fluttering in tatters,
                                      The Base’s med care will erase.

                                      “We must destroy Mueller’s Evil Witch Hunt,
                                      “Distracts me from doing my job.”
                                      He waves and he gestures insanely,
                                      To the rest of the World, he’s a slob

                                      Who foments displeasure and anger
                                      Dragging our Nation’s name through the mud:
                                      The only solution’s impeachment,
                                      To excise this orange-topped crud.

Source: Collinson, S. (2018, June 25) After family separation crisis, Trump returns to his tried-and-true tactic: ratchet up the rhetoric. CNN Politics. Retrieved from amp.cnn.com


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Balak: Peace Hopes, Priestly Zeal, and Homicide


Balak: Peace Hopes, Priestly Zeal, and Homicide

by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

“While Israel was camping at Shittim, the people profaned themselves…with the Moabite[?] women, who invited the people to the sacrifices for their god, Baal-Peor. The people partook of [the sacrifices] and worshiped that god. …Just then, an Israelite man came and brought a Midianite[?] woman…in the sight of Moses and of the whole Israelite community [before] the Tent of Meeting. When Pinchas, son of Elazar son of Aaron the Priest saw this, he [took] a spear in his hand…and stabbed both of them.”

--Num. 25:1-2, 6-8 (translation mine)           

My name is Kozbi bat Tsur, and I am a Moabite princess-priestess, Stranger. I am glad that you were able to conjure my spirit up from Sheol, that Afterlife of Whispered Silences, where the spirits of the dead flit about aimlessly. I was a peacemaker, but, alas! My attempts were futile, due to the implacable hatred of one of your priests. Still, thank you for giving me the chance to tell you what really happened.
            Doubtless, you have read of the cult of Baal-Peor, about which your Scroll relates that we, Moabites and Midianites both—the text is vague on our identity—seduced your people, with the harshest results. In the interests of promoting intertribal peace, I selected a worthy partner, one Zimri ben Salu, of your Tribe of Shim’on. I proposed to him that peace would ensure fertility for our crops, both Moabite and Israelite, for we believed that your people would gradually settle next to ours, in peace and harmony. Of course, your zealous Pinchas prevented all that, and we remain at war, today.
            Don’t forget that your people camped next to us, within sight of the infamous or worthy (depending on your point of view, after all) Baal Peor, from whose godly mouth light emerges—hence, his name, Pe, “mouth,” and Or, “light.” I imagined, foolishly perhaps, that we might worship together, the better to unify our peoples. Our tradition did not allow us to pray to an invisible God; hence, Baal Peor might be a convenient starting-point for us.
            There was another important distinction: in our worship, women take a leading role, since we represent the fertility we wish upon the earth. What god have you to equal Peor, after all?
            And you know, Stranger, the truth is that I was acquainted with Pinchas from long before the tragic incident. I would often wander over to the Israelite Tent of Meeting, and admired how this dedicated young man was able to heft enormous sides of beef, as well as prepare the incense which clouded the Tent and smelled strong enough to make me dizzy. So much did I worship Pinchas—worship, ha! That’s a fine word, considering how he repaid me—that I would wait outside the Tent until he was done making the sacrifices. It was not my intention to seduce him, despite what your Scroll may say. Doubtless, our story was finally writ down on parchment decades, perhaps centuries, after our trysting took place. No, I swear in Baal’s name! I merely wished to become better acquainted with this prince of your people, this priest to whom all Israel paid obeisance; for, was he not messenger of your One High God?
            We had no romance; we simply took long walks through the wheat fields. Our relationship—if you would call it that—consisted of his bragging to me about his priestly exploits, how his late Grandfather Aaron had carried him, shoulder-high, to the Shrine when Pinchas was but a young boy. Oh, and of course, he informed me of the sum total of sacrifices he would personally offer in the course of a week: really, after a while, his prattling about cattle and goats grew repetitious and boring. Is that what a girl—I mean, woman—wishes to hear, day after day?
            Finally, I was able to get a word in, while my priestly Galahad was taking a breath—
            “I, too, am a priestess,” I said, low and shyly, during an infrequent Pinchas-pause.
            “A priestess? You?” he asked, and I felt his dark-brown eyes running over me, not kindly.
            “Yes: to Baal-Peor,” I said, proudly.
            “That is no god,” said Pinchas scornfully, “that is but a filthy, heathen idol.”
            “Peor is not filthy!” I protested, “He is our god of the harvest, and I am one who brings the first-fruits before him.”
            “You sacrifice your honor, in his name!” said Pinchas, and I felt my face redden.
            “I do no such thing!” I retorted, “for all I do is bring forth the people’s harvest-offerings, both grain and fruits. I do no ashy, blood-soaked rituals such as your Israelite God requires.”
            “Why, you—you—idol-strumpet,” said Pinchas, “you are not worthy to kiss the hem of my priestly robe, given me by Grandfather Aaron, of blessed memory.”
            “Were your grandfather here,” I blazed back, “He would slap your face for insulting me, a princess of Moab, thusly. For I have heard from your neighbors, that Aaron was a peacemaker, who was careful to insult no one for their beliefs or practices.”
            Pinchas held up one small hand, and I quietened, out of politeness..
            “Stay away from me, strumpet,” he hissed, “for I cannot say what I may do when, or if, I see you again.”
            He stormed off, and I returned to my father Tsur’s tent, nonetheless determined to work at uniting our peoples. Would not the Israelite God look with favor upon an alliance between us? I even recalled how Father told me that, decades before, we Moabites and you Israelites were related, through Abraham, our mutual father. When I asked Father for more details of our origins, he blushed, grew silent, and mumbled, “That is lost in the mists of our tribal history.”
            And so, I continued my quest for unification, hoping for an Israelite partner. I was lucky, during the next few days, to meet one Zimri ben Salu, a prince of the Tribe of Shim’on. He was hardly as proud as Pinchas, but tribal royalty, like myself. We found a trysting-place by the Yabbok Stream, and shared many secrets.
            I convinced Zimri about my idea of unifying our tribes, and we discussed this at length. We decided that, on a given day, we would meet, not in secret, but before the Tent of Meeting, to blow the shofar and gather both of our peoples. Then, we would announce our Grand Plan of Peace.
            The day came; I had dressed myself in my finest priestly robes, and met Zimri between our two camps. He, too, was richly clad, and his turban bore a chrysolite-stone which, he told me, his great-great-great—so many greats!—grandfather, Jacob, gave to Shim’on, his tribal forefather. He was convinced that the stone would flash and attract the Israelites to our cause; I had left word with my father, Tsur, to lead our Moabite people to the boundary-area for the Unification.
            We stood before the Tent, and I recall the anticipation—or was it tension?—in the air. But I held on to Zimri’s hand, and waited for him to speak.
            “Fellow Israelites!” said Zimri my love, after taking a deep breath, “The time has come to end all warfare against our Moabite tribal cousins, and seek the ways of peace—”
            “Silence, Traitor! And you, Moabite strumpet! Die!”
            I saw, too late: it was Pinchas, bearing a lance longer than he was tall. I felt the bronze tip enter my body—a blinding pain; I fell upon Zimri, to protect him from Pinchas. He screamed; I heard no more.
            O you Israelites and Moabites! I implore you: strive for the ways of peace, and put aside war. For such is the will of both the Israelite God, and our Baal of Light..