2013 © Carlene Havel
taking my wife anywhere!” Phaltiel bellowed. He struggled to
break free from the soldiers who restrained him.
“Then we will
take your widow.” The soldier tossed an unconcerned glance in
Phaltiel’s direction. “It makes no difference to me.” He turned
to the woman standing nearby. “You will come with us.”
“I shall make
preparations for a journey of how many days?” Michal struggled
to keep her voice calm. The daughter of the king must not show
waste time with preparations.” Captain Osh sat straight and tall
on his horse. “We will leave as soon as—”
be some mistake,” Phaltiel’s chief steward interrupted. “King
Saul himself gave his daughter to my lord Phaltiel.”
“King Saul no
longer reigns.” Osh glared at the steward. “He is as dead as you
and I will be if we fail to deliver the woman Michal soon.”
addressed her handmaid. “Come, Tirzah, we will gather a few
things quickly.” She felt the stares of soldiers all the way
across the courtyard and braced herself for the thrust of a
spear in her back.
endured two days of hard riding, Phaltiel.” The authoritative
ring of the Captain’s voice filled the courtyard. “Feed my men
and see to our animals.”
breathed deeply to maintain her composure. Was it true her
father, King Saul, was dead? Was it possible her dear brother,
Jonathan, was now king of Israel? Was there a rebellion? A
foreign invasion? Were soldiers, like those in the courtyard,
even now rounding up her sister, Merab, and her family? She knew
an insurgent ruler could never risk her or her sister’s royal
blood flowing into the veins of a legitimate heir.
down her fear as she walked toward the women’s living area. She
prayed for courage as she concentrated on keeping her steps
steady on the tamped earth of the courtyard.
of the chief steward’s hands broke the tension. Servants grabbed
water jars to fill the stone drinking trough for the military
animals. Others stoked the kitchen fire and made preparations
for the soldiers’ meal. Lord Phaltiel’s senior wife, Bida, stood
watching the activity. Such excitement rarely intruded upon the
mundane life of Gallim.
quickened her steps to push through the crowd of Phaltiel’s
wives, children, and servants streaming into the courtyard. Once
indoors, she fought to focus on which of her few possessions she
fetch the coat. I’ll carry it under my cloak. Look through my
old robes in Bida’s chest, and choose one which clearly
identifies me as the king’s married daughter. I’ll take one
additional change of clothing and my sewing box.” She looked
around her. “There’s nothing else in this house I ever want to
see again. You can keep everything else.”
widened in horror. “You would not leave me behind?”
clasped her servant’s slender hand. “There’s no reason to drag
you into whatever awaits me. If my father is truly dead, these
men may well be delivering me to an enemy. Maybe even the
suffer with you than to stay in this Godless house alone.”
Tirzah’s tears spilled onto her cheeks. “Please, my lady, I beg
you on my mother’s bones, let me go with you.”
wavered. Tirzah had been her companion since the two of them
were children. “All right. You may come with us. The Captain
said it was a two-day ride to wherever they came from. Of
course, that may not be true. Try to get us some food to take
along. Some dates and goat cheese would be best.” Tirzah
brightened and brushed away her tears as Michal continued.
“Anything you can learn from the soldiers or the other women may
be useful. We need to know who has taken King Saul’s place and
where we are going.”
lady. I will do as you say.”
straightened. “While you do your duty, I will do mine.”
else outside—their attention fastened on the soldiers in the
courtyard—Michal swept quickly through the women’s rooms. She
gathered the many idols and teraphims, the superstitious god
figurines that sat everywhere.
As a girl,
she participated in religious activities meant to convince the
king’s subjects of the royal family’s devotion to the Living
God. She went mindlessly through the motions of the familiar
rituals, paying no attention to their deeper meaning. The devout
faith of her husband David made her more thoughtful. Yet it was
only when she was thrust into a life of misery that Michal was
forced to trust the one God of Israel.
alienated. Her husband, bargained away years ago. Michal
stiffened her resolve against such sorrowful thoughts lest they
overtake her. She would concentrate on being grateful the
soldiers did not murder her in the sight of Phaltiel and his
soldiers would kill her as soon as they were a little distance
from Phaltiel’s compound. Or someone could creep near in
tonight’s darkness and dispatch her and poor Tirzah in their
shivered at the thought of other possibilities. The prospect of
torture frightened her. A quick death would be an answer to
prayer. Some conqueror might be planning a public execution of
King Saul’s family. Even the ultimate humiliation of a forced
marriage to an uncircumcised heathen could await her. She
gathered her courage to bear whatever she must.
beginning of her exile, Michal feared some stranger would bring
the information King Saul had successfully tracked down and
murdered her beloved husband David. When did she hear the news?
Their tenth month in Phaltiel’s household, a slave trader
stopped to obtain water for his pack animals. From the traveler,
Michal’s handmaid Sarah heard that David and his loyal followers
still hid in wilderness areas, protecting isolated farms from
thieves and marauders. Sarah reported to Michal how the man
laughed, showing his fine white teeth, when recounting King
Saul’s irrational fear of his own son-in-law.
with no new information. Then one day Tirzah was cleaning the
hearth in the kitchen when the women from a band of wandering
wool merchants came to warm themselves. Hearing familiar words,
Tirzah realized the travelers were Judeans. Their country was
now being ruled by David, they said. Everyone was prospering
under his progressive benevolence. Yes, their king was that same
legendary David who, armed only with a slingshot, had in his
youth fought and killed the Philistine giant Goliath.
overjoyed to learn her husband had so far evaded the dark furies
of her father, King Saul. She gave thanks that her personal
sacrifice to save David was not in vain. Was it possible that he
still survived to this day? If so, she was certain some other
woman occupied her place in his warm embrace by now.
thought invaded Michal’s consciousness as she prepared to go
with the soldiers. Perhaps protocol would demand the presence of
King David of Judea at a festival given by the new ruler of
Israel. Was it possible she might glimpse her adored husband’s
face once more before her life ended? She must not break down
before David’s eyes if some heathen ordered her torn to pieces
by a wild animal.
the worthless gods she collected and dumped them on her bed. The
crude clay pieces shattered easily when she smacked them against
each other. So much for Shapash. One slender figurine snapped in
two when she laid it across her knee and applied her full
strength to its head and feet. She took her sharpest knife and
defaced the other two pieces of wood. The pagans of this house
would soon see how powerless their stupid idols were.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carlene Havel has lived in six US States and two foreign
countries, and has traveled extensively throughout the world.
She is very active in her church and has a degree in English
from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Carlene and
her husband Glenn are both proud to be native Texans.