Happy New Year 2017!
Part 93 of the ongoing saga of The Great Being, the One Self that manifests as each of us.
As they passed the harbor, a breeze off the Gulf of Perse cooled the camels’ windward sides and they preened their coats and nuzzled each other. Abram smelled spices from the Greek and Phoenician ships and wondered what exotic places they had been far off to the East to bring back such cargos. The wind bore the sounds of sailors’ voices calling instructions to one another as they unloaded onto the docks. Abram with his knowledge of languages could make out a few words here and there.
Near the shop they ran into Abram’s five-year-old sister Sarai, perched confidently on her own young camel, and the camels greeted each other. Ruach put her face up for Sarai to pet. Camels could be affectionate with Sarai and so could people, as she had been so charming and bright since birth she had always seemed to be an adult already, temporarily masquerading as a little girl. The fact that she was so beautiful seemed to help attract everyone too. Abram loved her from the day he met her briefly as his parents showed off his infant sister to him back in the cave.
“He won again, huh?” she teased Lot.
“How did you know?” Lot asked, slightly irked.
“When you win I can see, even from far away, your face shining like the sun,” Sarai said, and they all laughed. Sarai had raced with them but so far had never won. She rode with them a bit further and then she and Lot went off to play. Abram waved and turned off to head up the lane that led to the shop where today it was his turn to play shopkeeper. Not his favorite pastime.
He hitched Ruach and carefully opened the wooden lock with the wooden key he was careful to not lose. No one else in Ur had such a contraption and it was the means by which Terah was able to sleep at home and not have to sleep in the shop as its guard, which had been the case years ago. His friend the Pharaoh had given it to Terah as a gift the last time Terah had been in Egypt. The statuary in the idol shop was valuable and it would have been a prime target for thieves. Nimrod’s protection of Terah was well known, however, which actually afforded even more safety to the shop’s contents than the lock.
Abram sat on the high stool he preferred as he waited for the first patrons. The first customer was an older man who smiled and said hello as he entered, and then spent time reverently relating to each idol in the first room. Eventually he made his way into the next room and did the same. Abram as he had been taught checked in on the gentleman after a while mostly to make sure that all the idols were still in their places and none had been hidden under the man’s fringed linen garment. The fact that he wore linen indicated wealth so this was a customer likely to buy.
Eventually the man had picked out a very expensive piece, and indicated his choice to Abram, still not daring to touch the idol. It was a statue of Nimrod himself, who was considered God incarnate, and always referred to himself as such. There were quite a few Nimrods in the collection and this one was the most expensive in the shop. No one knew how inexpensively Terah was able to manufacture or otherwise come by the idols, and he always told stories of how costly they all were to track down in his widespread travels, and the dangers he faced to bring them back to Ur for sale in this shop.
“Are you sure you need this?” Abram asked, which shocked the man, who was not used to shopkeepers talking customers out of buying. “You know this is just a piece of carved stone, don’t you? There is no god or magic in it.” The man could not speak, his face ashen. This was now treasonous talk and he didn’t want to be implicated in anything like that. There were informers everywhere, and even this child might be trying to trick him — had he said anything recently that sounded anti-establishment? Was this a trap being laid for him? He rushed out of the store without a further word, and Abram smiled and went back to his seat.
This was Abram’s way of keeping shop in the idol store. Terah knew that Abram was against the idols but never suspected the way Abram handled the task of shop keeping. The day went on that way, as they always did when it was Abram’s turn.
Late in the day a poor woman came in to look at the idols. Abram recognized her as she had been in many times before. She could never afford to buy anything and he always permitted her to visit anyway. Her eyes were wide with awe as she studied each idol. Abram could tell she was praying, which made him slightly nauseous. He knew that a real God existed, and these were not Him. He thought of God as being male like himself and never wondered about that.
“You know that these figurines cannot help you?” Abram asked gently. “They are not the real God.” The woman did not seem to understand Aramaic. Abram tried a few other languages but she simply stared at him. Perhaps she is deaf.
A short while later he noticed that she had gone. He looked around to make sure she had not stolen anything. She had not. In fact he was amazed to see that the woman had left a small piece of bread next to one of the idols in the inner room. This woman who was probably starving had taken bread she could have eaten to place it as tribute next to a counterfeit god. Something snapped in Abram that had been building up for a long time.
He found a hammer among the available tools used to repair damaged statues, and used it to begin destroying the idols in a frenzied dance that left him breathless. The largest Nimrod statue had a hand held out palm up and he placed the hammer there. He sat back down on his stool and caught his breath. He hadn’t broken all of the idols in the shop, but he couldn’t begin to estimate the money value he had obliterated, and felt bad for Terah, whom he loved. At the same time he felt that he had done what he had needed to do.
When Terah arrived and saw the scene his knees went weak. In his mind he was counting up the cost, thinking about how long it would take to create substitute inventory, how much of a loss he would claim, and feeling hurt that Abram would have done this to him, after Terah had risked his own life and everyone else’s in the family to protect Abram.
“What have you done?!” he wailed to Abram, and Abram felt the pain, but with the toughness of a fifteen-year-old young man he stood and faced his father.
“An old woman came in and gave a piece of bread to the idols. Then the idols began to argue about which one had the right to take the first bite. The big Nimrod next door insisted he was the rightful one to take the first bite and a horrible quarrel ensued, in which the big Nimrod grabbed a hammer and broke the others that dared to argue with him.” This was what Abram said. Terah stared blankly at him.
“What are you trying to pull?” Terah said. “These idols cannot think, move, or eat!”
“Do your ears hear what your mouth says?” Abram demanded. “If they have no power why do you worship them?”
TO BE CONTINUED
Happy New Year to All,