Bible Snaps: Episode 23 …Milk Murderess

Thrillers, Chillers & Sci-Fi Killers. Whether or not you believe the bible is true, it contains stories that trigger imagination

 Milk Murderess

“Our business is milk, not military exercises.” Heber secures the bottle skin and then waves the doe back to graze.

“The servants learned of the attack from Hiram. His men spoke with Barak at Kedesh.”

“You listen to servants’ tales, but I know fact from fiction. Why would Barak be anywhere near Kedesh?”

“Perhaps the same reason we’re here in Zaananim. Safe grazing has become impossible.” I prop the final bottle of milk against the rest. “Of course, there are others who say he’s at Kedesh to spy on Jabin and determine his weakness.”

I turn to find Heber tugging on a slack tent rope.

“Never mind the rope, dear. Last night’s storm loosened the entry anchors. I was just about to ask you to pull them out for me.” I give him my most innocent smile to distract him from my comments on Jabin. He hates when I give advice.

He meets my goodwill with a frown. “In what universe, dear wife, does a king with nine-hundred iron chariots become weak? Women and servants may be enthralled with Barak, but his actions may jeopardize our peace with Jabin, a peace gained through assurances and concessions I’ve worked very hard to install, if you remember.” He stoops to wrestle a stake from the ground and then slaps the iron peg into my open palm.

The sting of his fierceness against me penetrates deep into my heart, but I resolve to show nothing but pleasantness. “Of course, sweetheart. No one’s worked harder than you to keep Jabin’s favor. I’m not contradicting you. I’m simply suggesting that there might be other ways to—”

“You know nothing! Battle strategy and keeping peace are a man’s lot. You would do well to keep quiet about such things.” He turns and walks away.

It’s my warning.

Ever since we parted ways with our family over ties with the Israelites, the vile parts of my husband’s nature have come alive. Our travel to Kedesh for better grazing was merely a pretense. The truth is Heber wants to be free to determine his own course regarding the Israelites without pressure from the family elders. Now he ignores the fact that he’s fallen under an even greater burden as he tries to avoid conflict with Jabin, a temperamental and tyrannical king. The same king who oppresses the Israelites, the nation Heber’s family formed an alliance with. If Barak leads an attack of the Israelites against Jabin, then we must be ready to declare our allegiance to either party we find standing at our door.

It’s an impossible situation. My husband must heed my warning.

I wait for an opportunity to bring the matter to Heber’s attention again, but as the day progresses, it becomes obvious that he has no intention of listening to me. At lunch, in my presence, he speaks loudly to the servant men. He tells them Barak is a fool and not fit to lead an army into battle. One of the workers responds to his proclamation and says that Deborah prophecies a victory.

Heber turns to look directly at me and  practically spits out his words. “A woman? Surely you don’t believe women are good leaders in a fight?”

This time, I leave. I head off to the well before I explode. I should be used to this, but suddenly all the years I’ve spent serving my husband comes pressing in on me. For thirty-nine years, I’ve shared my bed with a man who insists the world runs best by his rules alone. He’s wrong about Barek and the Deborah, and I feel insanely intent on proving him so. A man who regards no one but himself as wise is surely a fool.

Crazy thoughts flood my mind. Heber’s self-righteousness pushes against me. I push back in the form of work. I stack bottle after bottle of milk into the cart knowing that the weight of it is too much for the muddy ground.

I don’t care. I lift the tongue of the cart and let momentum carry it backward out of the rut where it sits. Then with all my might I ram it forward. The wheel twists on something and the whole cart slides sideways on the slope.

Tirza and Maya run to my aid. Maya helps me ease the cart back, while Tizra pulls something out of the mud by the wheel.

She holds up another tent peg. “The storm tossed more than a few of these.”

I let the women take over the deliveries, and I return to the cheese. Even this routine offers no consolation. I whisper my anxious thoughts to The One Who Hears. “Are you there? Do you know? Do you see? What should I do?”

Silence is my answer. I break apart the cooling curds and pour off the whey.

“Do this.”

I startle at the sound of spoken words. I look around for the source, but the tent is empty. I really must be losing it.

I renew my focus on my task and mold the curd into cakes. I divide the whey into cups for tonight’s refreshment. I gather the skins to rinse at the well and discover one of them is still full of milk. How did I miss it?

“Mistress. Mistress. Please come out. A man is here.” Maya’s voice calls to me from outside the tent. She shakes as if palsied and points to the oak grove where a figure stands obscured in the shadows.

“Who is it?”

“Sisera.”

My heart races. The time has come to declare loyalties. “Find Heber. Tell him the king’s general has come to us.”

Maya runs to the fields, while I make my way to the general. When I am close, he steps out from his hiding place. Clearly, he has been in a fierce battle. Bloodied and plastered with mud, he is also shoeless and appears to be without a weapon.

“Turn aside, my lord. Come to the safety of our tent. Have no fear. We are at peace.” I give assurances that I do not feel. Where is Heber? This is his mess and not mine.

He looks around as if searching for other opponents or allies.

“Come. Quickly now. Into the safety of my tent.” I point the way and let him lead. I don’t want a killer like him at my back. As I pick a path around muddy ruts, questions swirl in my mind. How is it that the general in charge of nine hundred iron chariots strides barefoot and alone ahead of me? What happened? Where are the rest of his soldiers? More importantly, how long before those who chase him arrive?  Where is Heber?

Inside, Sisera asks for water. Instead, I open the bottle skin and offer the milk. “Much better my Lord. Full of nourishment. “

He drinks the whole bottle without difficulty and then lays on mat. “Cover me with a rug. See to it that you keep guard at the door. If any man comes to ask, say that no one is here.”

I do as he says. I stand at the door watching for others. Our tent sits on a ridge. The terebinth trees guard our dwelling on the south, but the City of Hazor where Jabin rules is due north. Open flat land and grazing fields are between us. Will the land still be ours when this day is through?

I look inside the tent where the hulk of a man lies covered under the rug and sounds of his snores drill the air.

Where is Heber?

Where are the servants?

Nervously, I fidget with my robe. My fingers feel the hardness of the tent stake that I tucked in the folds of my sash for safe keeping. I only meant to hold it there for a few minutes while I found the mallet. I pull it out and frown at the stain on my fingers. The peg is one of  the new ones made of iron. It’s indestructible according to Heber.

I try to rub the color off. My hands look almost bloody, and that’s when the wild thought comes. The stakes are as sharp as an arrow and as long as a man’s skull.

Dare I?

Will I?

Suddenly, I’m certain.  I leave my post and look frantically for the mallet.

Where did I last put it? Is Sisera really asleep?

His snoring deepens and comes in a regular pattern.

Relief washes over me when I see the familiar handle sticking out from between the hearth pots. On the bench above it, the cakes of cheese sit in neat rows.

My orderly home will soon be destroyed by chaos but not if I do what I know I must do.

My husband hates conflict. He says once you start something there’s no end to it. So instead we lead a chameleon life. Friend to all, foe to none and “fake it” is our family motto.

It’s amazing how many people are fooled into thinking we all want the same thing.

Heber says it’s because deep down inside we do. He believes people are all the same and good and evil are brothers.

He’s wrong.

Evil, like milk, must be consumed or pressed until good is extracted like the cheese or whey or butter. If you just let it sit, it sours into something inedible, putrid and even deadly. Ignoring the oppression of Jabin and Sisera does not vanquish the conflict.

With all the strength and reasoning I can muster, I take the mallet and bring it crashing down on the peg poised over the rug wrapped head of Sisera.

My aim is true. The snoring stops. When the men finally arrive, they roll him out to identify him, and they discover the peg went through into the ground.

Maya asks me if it was hard to do.

I tell her it was about as difficult as putting a knife through the hard rind of a cheese. Once the peg pierced through the skull, it slipped on in like butter.

I don’t like to talk about such details.

Instead, I marvel over the changes my actions instigated.

Now, Heber is very courteous to me. At first, on the day Sisera died by my hand, he said very little to me. I don’t think it was because of anger. I also think he was surprised when I kept quiet while Barak praised him for his loyalty. He and I were both amazed by the songs the Israelites sang of the conquest of Sisera and Jabin by Deborah, Barak, and our family.

After my Day of Determination, as I like to call it, Heber assigned Maya and Tizra to be in charge of setting up the tents and relieved me of the responsibility. He said a man like him should use servants for such work, and a woman as wise as me should be spared the effort.

I think I agree. Especially with the compliment about being wise.

I also have learned of a debt I can never repay. I owe all that I am and have to The One Who Hears. It is He who pressed my conflict into good. And for that I will forever be His Milk Murderess.

 

This story is inspired by Judges, chapter 4 & 5 in the Bible.

 

My new blog series, Bible Snaps are short fictionalized accounts of the more chilling stories in the Bible. There may even be a few “science fiction” type stories that reference biblical disasters that seem to conflict with the laws of nature. 

If you follow along, there’s a couple things you should know.

My “Bible Snaps” aren’t an attempt to settle the question, “is the bible true?” Each person must decide that on their own. My goal is to jump into the head of bible characters and try to imagine living the experience described in the story and then use fresh and personal words to tell it.

My other goal is to keep these posts “snappy” quick. In doing this, I might only “snap” a portion of the bible story to tell, but I’ll always give you the bible reference so you can read the actual bible text that inspired me.

There are also other reading options on my website.

If you don’t like my Bible Snaps Stories, then check out “Five,” my medical Sci-Fi supernatural thriller story. All 67 episodes (blog posts) are now available, and if you read them from beginning to end, you’ll have read the entire book and will be ready for my sequel, “Six.”

If you don’t like “Five”, then read my other short stories on this blog- (search word, “un-proverbial”) or Psalms blog posts. All of these were posted before January 2015.

Just read me. I’d be honored to have YOU in my audience!

One final thought.

Why do I re-tell the “bad” or chilling parts of the Bible?

We live in rough times. People suffer under injustice. It’s good to see how the Bible, an old book that many value as true, contains helpful stories of people who were oppressed yet managed to live, survive, and thrive.

Don’t take my word or anyone else’s word about the Bible. Give it a read for YOURSELF. You may be surprised by what you find.

Thanks,

Ann

 

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