Samaria City, Samaria, Israel, 870 BC
1 Kings 18:4-5
As Micaiah led his donkey into the still dark market, he whistled and bounced to the beat of The Lord is my light.i In one fluid motion, he bent and looped the lead line onto a stone at the corner of his stall. Then he stood tall and belted out a verse.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation.
“Whom shall I fear?
“Whom shall I fear?”
Circling the donkey, with each beat he released a tie from the net draped over his many bags of figs. Micaiah lifted his head of messy brown hair toward his cousin in the next stall and switched to Aramaic, the language of their village. “Look at us, Imri. Almost the first ones.”
“Hey, Mikey. We make our dads happy.” Imri slung a sack of pomegranates down from his donkey.
The sun tinted the last of the night sky and showed the shadowy forms of farmers setting up their stalls across the market. Donkeys blew in friends’ nostrils and nibbled each other’s necks while they dropped fresh manure, the first layer of market-day smells.
Micaiah raised on the balls of his feet and smiled at early bird customers who stopped and tipped their heads at his figs. Their neighbors would soon swarm through and fill the square with warm chatter.
Between the stalls, two little boys knelt next to a circle of polished chestnuts. They flipped nuts into the circle and sometimes tucked nuts from the circle into tiny cloth bags.
Micaiah squinted toward the far side of the plaza and stopped whistling. “It’s still there.” The hulking shadow of the Asherah temple showed lighter colors every moment.
The little boys ignored their chestnuts and gazed at the temple.
Imri yanked a string and let pomegranates slide into a pile on a goatskin. “And Liev and Ulam are still dead. If it weren’t made of marble, we could sneak in here at night and burn it down.”
Micaiah tipped his head back and laughed loud. “Or if old Joshua were here, you could help him organize a march.”
Imri held his empty pomegranate sack and watched a black-robed man swagger down the steps of the palace. “Here comes that filthy temple boss.”
Micaiah’s laugh died, and his smile slid to one side. He held a bag of figs and glared at the man. He should rip that pink Moloch design off the brute’s shoulder and tear it from his robe, but the evil lay too deep for such a simple cure. [iiDo Asherah bad guys wear the same black robe as the Moloch officials? See Warrior baby: “He wore a black robe with a blood-red insignia over his heart.”]
The temple boss came into spitting range.
Micaiah trembled, and his nostrils flared. He leaned into the path and muttered in Hebrew, “He will send fiery coals and flaming sulfur down on the wicked.”iii
A scowl fell over the face of the temple boss.
The two little boys collected their polished chestnuts.
Imri twisted his empty sack and unleashed another verse. “Blast them with your anger, Lord.”
The boss glared. “We’ll see who gets blasted.” A Sidonian accent marred his Hebrew.
Micaiah set the fruit down and stepped into the boss’s path. He crossed his arms and showed a lopsided smile. “When?”
The black-robed boss leaned left to see the temple, but Micaiah clenched his fists and thrust up his chin. “Not your hired thugs. You and me. Right here.”
The two little boys clutched their bags and dashed out of sight.
The face of the temple boss blotched red. He ducked past Micaiah and scuttled between farmers and donkeys over to the temple.
Imri wadded the empty bag and threw it to the ground. “He hides with the little girls Liev tried to help.”
Micaiah breathed loud and drawn out through his nose. He crouched over a sack of figs and with exaggerated care rolled the sides down to display the fruit.
He stood and smoothed the front of his tunic. His mouth puckered for a tune but blew only air. Maybe he shouldn’t have spouted off.
“Hey, Imri! We almost knocked knuckles with that thug.”
Imri’s eyes lit up. “Such fun.”
But what would their fists accomplish?
Micaiah pasted on a smile for three customers who scrutinized his figs.
Just as the sun popped free from the horizon, the two little boys returned, solemn-faced. Instead of bags of polished nuts, they brought Keren and Hodiah, Liev’s wife and mother.
Keren walked straight up to Micaiah and spoke Hebrew. “Gera sent us. He needs you and Imri right now. Mother and I will sell your figs and pomegranates.”
Micaiah opened his mouth and knit his brows at Imri, but Keren stepped into his line of sight. “It’s urgent. This moment. Mother and I have sold more fruit and vegetables than you’ll ever see, and we’ll make more profit for your families.”
Keren rested her hands on the heads of the two little boys. “My helpers will take you to Gera.”
Hodiah touched Micaiah’s arm. “Go now, son. Please. For Liev.”
i Psalm 27
iiDo Asherah bad guys wear the same black robe as the Moloch officials? See “Warrior baby” “He wore a black robe with a blood-red insignia over his heart.”
iii Psalm 11