Maybe break this up and move the pieces to other chapters..
Joy thinks it’s a redo, so whatever I keep, check to see that I’m not repeating.
Elijah’s mother stepped out from the pantry. “Elijah, you must take that girl some of my figs.”
Sheerah . “Is our little brother thinking like a man already? Remember to tank up on water, okay, ‘Lijah? That’s a dry, dry ridge.”
Who goes with him?
Elijah went from the kitchen to the well, to the path up the ridge. His feet knew where to step over each rock and where to detour around every oak. He crested the ridge. High over head, a swallow-tailed kite circled. Milkah’s valley spread below with Milkah and her flock.
He cupped his hands and broke the quiet. “Milkah!”
She wheeled around and waved. He went down to her.
“I told you. We ate Chops.”
“You should have a Chops, Jr. And with all the lambs coming on you can name another one Chops.”
Her curls shook. “I’ve had three Chopses. I’m calling the next one Ribs.” She sat on a rock and pointed to one nearby.
He sat. “What about Curry or Kebab? You know why I like the name Chops.”
“The sheep with two heads.”
He felt the knife wound on his throat. “Milkah, I saw girls. One looked like you. They were all beat up, about thirty kids in a line tied at the ankles. Midianite slavers. I wanted to rescue them.”
“And what army. Right.”
The breeze continued its gentle hum, and the kite made one complete circle. Milkah looked up. “My dad says if I see a stranger, not to let him get near. Just run.”
“And you can run pretty fast.”
“I beat you.” She kicked at the dirt.
“Once. You mean that time the stone rolled under my foot?”
“So? I won.”
He stood and looked up at the ridge. “I better get home. I’m supposed to help Howd.” He started off toward the ridge, but came back and handed her the cake of pressed figs. “Almost forgot. From Mom.”
“Thank you. Thank your mother! What were you going to tell her when you got home and found these in your bag?”
“You know, the next baby lamb, you really should …”
“The next baby vine, name it Chops.”
“Listen, Milkah. Your dad’s right. Don’t wait to see their face, okay. Forget the sheep. Just run.”
Milkah tried to smile. “I will, ‘Lij. I’ll run.”
As Elijah returned to the vineyard, Howd and Nathan lugged baskets to the winepress and Sheerah walked up with a bag over her shoulder. “I bring you a basketful of matzo and a head full of gossip. Hiel in Jericho butchered his two children.”
Sheerah set the bag on the bench. “This Hiel in Bethel got a permit from the king to fortify Jericho.”
Nathan nodded. “‘The man who rebuilds Jericho will pay for the foundation with his firstborn son and the gates with his youngest.’1”
“He wants the blessings of the local godlets. So when he digs the footing for the wall, he sacrifices his oldest. As he sets the gates, he says goodbye to his youngest.”
“‘Everyone who gives his child to Asherah must be put to death by stoning ….’2”
Sheerah spread her arms. “So, step right up, boys. Rocks on the right. Rich guy on the left. You want to throw the first stone at this guy, Howd?”
“I’ll let Elijah have that privilege. I’ve got a wife and kids.”
“The next piece of gossip, my brothers, is that our king married an Asherah queen.”
Howd set his basket down. “We’ve been hearing about Ahab and Jezebel for a few weeks.”
“They set up housekeeping in the Jezreel palace, but the buzz is about her hair. She is either a very good looking woman or thinks she is. Brought a whole crew from Tyre just to do her combing and curling. And keep her wigs in order. Steps out of the palace and you never know what she’s gonna look like.”
“‘Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons.’”3
“Thank you, Nathan. At the bread shop, Jezebel was all they talked about, but no one even asked what the Lord says about it. And she brought dozens of priests with her. Howd, did you know her father used to be a priest?”
Elijah put his head down and raised both hands. “Hold it. This is not right.” The others stared.
“It’s too easy for us to stand here in our little vineyard and laugh about those children dying under the walls and our king marrying that murderess. Is this just joke material? Or do we have a responsibility? Where would we be if Noah only cracked jokes about the rain but never built the ark? What if David had only written a poem about Goliath? [no. Dad says this.]”
“But what’s a country boy to do, ‘Lijah? You want to go talk to the king about it?”
This story in the Bible – 1 Kings 16:31-34, James 5:17
1 Joshua 6:26
2 Leviticus 20:1-3
3 Deuteronomy 7:3