CHILDREN OF EBER a Biblical fiction, Volume 4 of The Generations series
Main Characters: Terah, Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael, and Isaac
Settings: Ur of the Chaldeans, Haran, Egypt, Damasca, and the Promised Land
Premise: Without faith, it is impossible to please God.
Synopsis: At the time Abram is called to a strange, pagan land by the God of his fathers, Shem still walks the earth. At his death, his great-grandson Eber becomes the patriarch. Abraham, never the oldest living firstborn, is rewarded with power and riches for his obedience to leave his home and sojourn. Still—though the Lord has promised him an heir—his beloved wife remains barren, which tears daily at her heart.
Almighty God visits His prophet, talks with him, forgives his indiscretions, and cleans up the messes he makes. The Lord promises amazing things including all of the lands where Abram walks for him and his heirs as a possession and that nations will come forth from his loins—descendants too numerous to be counted. The well-known story of the Father of Faith comes to life in Children of Eber.
Walk with the man honored by today’s the three major faiths.
Cover art by Judy Downs Levine (lovely prints available)
Read Chapter One
In the two thousand twenty-fifth year from Adam’s creation, in Ur of the Chaldees, the oldest of three brothers sat at his desk studying the latest parchment procured with profits from the sale of his second best kid. The best he offered to the Lord on the family’s stone altar.
“Tell me, Brother, why is Father mad at Haran?”
Abram looked up from his scroll. Sarai stood just outside the room’s archway, peeking around the corner.
“Where is your mother?”
“Gone to the market with yours. What are you doing?”
“Who’s tending you?”
“Nina, but she fell asleep mid-stitch.” She leaned in so that her face almost entered into the room. “Lot’s dirtied himself, and the twins are hungry.”
“Where’s their mother?”
“She went, too. Ours needed someone to carry their baskets.”
“Best go wake up your nurse. She can see to the babies.”
“Tell me first, why is father angry at Haran? I know he is.”
“It doesn’t concern you. Adult matters, and you are but a child, Sister. Now scat.”
“What’s a Hebrew?”
Light filtered in through the high window, illuminating thousands of dancing particles that twirled in the seemingly still air between the girl and himself. Releasing his hold, he let the scroll roll itself up. Until she left, he’d get no study done, the hieroglyphics would have to wait.
“Us. It means the children of Eber, and…he is our father, so we are Hebrews.”
Her little nose wrinkled. “But Terah is our father. We’re his children. I know this much. But who is Eber? I don’t know him, do you? How can we have two?”
“Listen, Sarai. Our father’s father was Nahor, and his Serug, and his Reu and his Peleg, and his Eber. Our ancestors go all the way back to Shem, the youngest son of Noah, but…”
“Wait!” Her palm faced him, and she stepped out, full into the opening. “Tell me those names again. I got lost, and I want to remember them because they’re important. Aren’t they?”
“Don’t worry.” How did such a small girl get so bold as to hush her older brother? Though she lacked proper respect, he always enjoyed her passion. “I know them.”
Her countenance fell, and she swiped at a loose strand of her dark hair that had fallen out of her braid. Her mother’s beauty marked the child even at her young age.
“Don’t be upset, it’s alright. I had the same trouble remembering when I was your age, too.” He looked past her. “Is that your nurse calling for you?”
His sister glanced over her shoulder and made a show of listening. “No. I hear nothing. But you know why everyone is mad at Haran, don’t you?”
He kept his face straight. His little sister didn’t miss much. “Perhaps you should ask your mother.”
“I already did. And Mama Judith also, but no one will tell me. You know everything.” She smiled her biggest. “Tell me, please.”
The little flatterer. He should insist she leave him alone to study, but her declaration did swell his chest. “Well…have you ever disobeyed?”
Her face turned left then circled into a wary nod. She smiled. “Haven’t you?”
“Wait, I’m asking the questions here.”
The cheerful giggle filled the drab room with music. “You are not! I came with my question. You are the answerer.”
“I’m trying to explain something. If you don’t care to listen and respond to my query, then skip away and find a kitten to play with. Better yet, wake up your nurse. But vacate my doorway and allow me the last of my time to learn.”
“No, wait! I’m sorry. Why did you want to know whether or not I was ever bad? I didn’t do anything to Haran. He’s mean.”
“Aww, sometimes too gruff maybe, but I wouldn’t call him mean. Anyway, my brother disobeyed father, and.…” How could he explain the trouble to a seven-year-old without mentioning the ways of life? Hopefully, one of the mothers or her nurse or someone else would handle that task before their wedding night.
Praise Adam’s God, not yet for many years.
Time would give her the opportunity to acquire better manners.
“And what? What did our brother do? He is my brother, too. Just as you. Although…I do not like him as much. He yanks my braid when no one’s looking and has stuck his big foot out and tripped me many times.” She leaned her back on the door’s jam and stared up at the other side.
Her profile against the sun’s brightness in the hall almost took his breath.
“What Haran did is not for me to say, little one.”
“I am little. I know it, but when I’m grown, I’ll be your wife, and you should tell me all things, whatever I ask of you.”
“Perhaps you should wake up your nurse. Our mothers don’t stay too long at the market, and you don’t want her to get in trouble with them.”
“But you know. I know you do!”
“If you don’t tell me, then you’re as mean as…as…a stubborn donkey!”
Unable to be controlled, laughter rolled from the depths of his belly.
“What are you laughing about?” She crossed her arms over her chest, faced him, and stomped her foot, stirring a cloud of dust.
“I’m sorry. Not at you, Sarai. Only what you said. Comparing me to a donkey. Me. Your favorite brother? How do you think that makes me feel?”
“You should tell me what I want to know. We shouldn’t have secrets from each other. I tell you everything.”
Indeed she did, the little magpie. “I already said. It is not for me to share. Some things a young lady such as yourself need not know. I didn’t intend to hurt you by laughing. Will you forgive me?”
“Of course. I always will. I love you, Abram. Can I have a hug?”
“No. We are not allowed in the same room alone.”
“Stupid rule. If we’re going to marry when I grow up, why shouldn’t we be allowed to hug? Mother and Daddy hug all the time.”
“Yes. But we will obey our father.” He waved her away. “Now go. See to the babies yourself if you don’t want to wake your nurse.”
She didn’t seem too interested in minding and ignored him. “What’s wrong with a Hamite? You can tell me that, can’t you?”
“Nothing. They’re children of Noah, same as us. From Ham’s lineage instead of Shem’s. That’s all.”
“Nina always spits whenever she says it. Lot’s mama is a Hamite, right?”
Oh Lord, save me from this one. She’s too smart for her own good—and mine.
“Yes, Sarai, she is a daughter of Ham.”
“Is she the reason why Father is mad at Haran?”
He stood and started for her. “Where is your nurse?”
Sarai stuck her tongue out then ran toward the woman’s quarters, her long braids bouncing. Once gone, Abram allowed himself a smile then sat back down, unrolled the scroll, and concentrated again on his studies. He only had two more days to understand the picture language before he returned to the fields.
Shame he could only spend a third of his days with the scrolls. He much preferred learning over herding dumb sheep.
For two new moons, life floated along on a wave of normalcy, then everything changed in one night.
North of Ur, under the stars, Abram stirred the campfire’s coals, then put another piece of deadfall on the fire. Sitting across from him, his brother grinned. “Why don’t you come with me?”
“The better question is why don’t you stay with me? Choose what is right.”
“It’s the new moon, Brother. You need to see the celebration for yourself. The lovely priestesses…”
“They’re pagan. Worshiping the moon is stupid. Or the sun either. Adam’s God created them both. Worship Him.”
Haran nodded, the firelight bouncing off his gold-plated tooth. “We do, and all the host of heaven, especially the moon. And yes, the priestesses are pagan all the way from their painted eyes to their little dancing toes, tinkling with bells. It’s beyond fabulous. Forget everything you’ve heard, and come see for yourself. Just once, come.”
“What about your children? Think of them. Especially Lot.”
“What do they have to do with tonight? They’re not invited, but you are, Brother.”
“I say no to the invitation. I will stay here and tend our herds.”
“Suit yourself.” Haran stood. “I’ll be back before my watch.”
Abram’s brother trotted over the knoll leading toward Ur. It hurt his heart that Haran spent any of his time going to the groves and worshiping idols. Lying with so many strange women. Bad enough he’d fathered children so young, even before eighteen years. The dogs whined a low growl, and he turned his attention to his charges.
Slipping away from the fire, he studied the bedded sheep. No movement. He whistled softly, and the male went west while his mate headed east. Shortly after they encompassed the herd and returned, Abram settled back next to the fire.
The night’s chill warranted more wood, but he didn’t want the light. If the dogs were right, and he trusted them to know, then something—or someone—stalked his animals.
Contrary to his promise, his brother didn’t return for the second watch. Not unusual though. Haran’s concerns focused on pleasing his flesh, never on responsibilities or being righteous. Abram managed a few winks, but not any good sleep. After the mid-day meal, he spotted him coming over the knoll, except…as he got closer…it wasn’t Haran, but his twin.
Lifting his staff into the air, he saluted his other brother. “Nahor…” His brother’s expression stayed his greeting. Abram walked to meet him. “What’s wrong? Why are you here?”
“It’s Haran. He’s dead.”
“We don’t know. Father found him at the gate this morning. Stone cold, but no marks. He stank of new wine and…” Nahor sniffed, then wiped his cheek with his sleeve.
“He didn’t have his robe on, only his tunic. No staff or purse. Did you two argue?”
“No.” Abram’s blood flashed red hot then cooled. His brother dead? He ducked his head. His own tears streamed down his cheeks. “I told him not to go, but you know how he is… He went to the new moon celebration last night.”
“At the grove?”
“Come. Father says to bring the herd to our fold. We’ll find hirelings while we tend our dead.”
Abram whistled the dogs into action. The sheep didn’t much like leaving the pasture, but they knew his voice, and would follow him wherever he led.
The next morning after he and Nahor finished their brother’s grave and lowered Haran’s shrouded body into the earth, Sarai left her mother’s side to stand next to him.
His little sister tugged on his tunic until he took her hand.
His father stepped next to the grave, his eyes cast down. For the longest, he only stared into the grave.
“Forgive me, Son.” He stepped back and tossed a handful of dirt onto the still form at the bottom of the hole.
Abram picked up Sarai, kissed her cheek, then walked toward her mother. His sister whispered in his ear. “Why’d he say that?”
He lowered his voice. “I’ll tell you later.” Then handed her off.
Looking over her mother’s shoulder, she stared at him as the old people trudged back to the house. Once out of sight, he turned to the task at hand. With more tears falling than dirt, he matched his remaining brother shovelful for shovelful until Haran’s body was returned from whence he came.
Abram stepped back. “Ashes to ashes, dirt to dirt. May the God of Adam receive your soul.”
Nahor looked up. “Do you really believe God made Adam from mud?”
“Yes, of course. Don’t you?”
“I’m not sure. The priestesses tell a different story.”
Abram didn’t know what to say. Though only a few heartbeats ahead of Nahor, as the oldest, he bore the birthright and had believed from his earliest memory. “Evil crouches at your door, Brother. Best beware.”
He snorted. “What do you know of evil?”