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This is the third book in The Anava Chronicles, focusing on the main theme of Divine Provision. We go back in time to Israel during their Philistine captivity to interact with Samson and Samuel, first when the boys are five years old, and then again when they are twenty. We keep the feast of Tabernacles at Shiloh with Rephah's family and Samuel, showing the connection between the seven main speeches of Moses and the first seven miracle-signs in the book of John.
Category - Biblical Novels
Joseph opened the door. Seeing us, he exclaimed, “There you are! The Chief and I were just talking about you. We did not see you arrive.”
“We came rather quickly and unexpectedly,” I explained. “The Spirit brought us here on the wings of the wind.”
“Well, come in and join us,” he said. “The Chief was discerning that your time of learning is not yet complete. He suspects that soon you will be traveling back in time once again.”
We were ushered into the Chief’s living room. He greeted us and motioned for us to sit across from him at the oak table.
“You have just begun to see the development of the Kingdom,” he said slowly. “You went back in time to help the tribal chiefs understand the cause of their captivity and how to deal with it properly.”
“But captivity is not the Kingdom,” Joseph interjected. “Further, what you saw was still the time of judges and not the time of kings.”
“Yes,” the Chief said, “there is more to be done to assist them and more to be learned in the process. You must continue to observe Israel and its judges and perhaps guide them with the Creator’s revelation, so that they will know what to do to prepare for the Kingdom.”
“I understand,” I replied, “but I am not sure how I should return to the time of old Israel. The Creator does not seem to repeat any story in the same way.”
“I will again loan you Pegasus and Pleiades,” Joseph said. “I am sure that they will be useful to you.”
“And I,” the Chief said, “will give you the two rings, so that you will be fully equipped spiritually to do whatever needs to be done.” He took them off his hands and gave them to me across the table.
“Thank-you, both of you,” I said gratefully, taking the rings and giving the Judah ring to Sipporah.
“Then it is settled,” Joseph stated matter-of-factly. “As much as I would like to continue visiting, I believe that you should leave as quickly as possible.”
We all stood to our feet, and the Chief accompanied us to the door. Joseph went outside with us, and then we noticed that the horses were grazing nearby. “I brought them with me,” Joseph said, “sensing that they would be needed today.”
Pegasus and Pleiades trotted toward us and greeted us with their noses. “How are you, my friend?” I asked Pegasus, as I stroked his soft black nose. He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye, and I replied, “That’s good to hear.”
“One more thing,” Joseph said. “I feel quite strongly that I must give you some silver to spend on your journey.” He handed me a bag of silver coins. “This is from our treasury of Kingdom resources,” he explained. “Not all of it is buried under the Stone of Destiny. This is the first time that we have been led to use it for Kingdom purposes.”
“I am sure, then, that we will find it useful,” I said. “Its purpose will become clear at the appropriate time.”
“Here is a tote bag for you with a few supplies,” Joseph said. “I am sure that once you are at your destination, the people you meet will take good care of you. You are, after all, on official Kingdom business.”
Taking the bag from Joseph, I put into it my bag of seeds of Elyon from the tree of life that had been entrusted to me earlier. Sipporah and I then mounted the horses, and with a final wave, we set out along the path toward the Timeless Mountains. Sippore, the little dove, sang happily on Sipporah’s shoulder as we began our journey. Joseph did not accompany us this time, for we already knew the way, and, perhaps more importantly, our horses knew the way.
As we rode over the first hill not far away, a mist seemed to rise slowly from the ground, and soon we found ourselves in a dense fog for a few minutes. Then it lifted, and we found ourselves dressed in Israelite robes, walking on a familiar road near the home of Samson’s parents, where we had encountered Toivo. I reached up and was reassured that my Indie “faith” hat had not been left behind.
“Do you remember this place?” Sipporah asked Pleiades.
“I remember it well,” she responded. “The field of sheep is just beyond the next bend in the road.”
As we rounded the bend, we could see the field through the trees. We turned off the road and took the path toward the field. The field was deserted, and I noticed that the grass had been well grazed. “It looks like the sheep have been taken to a different pasture,” I said. We returned to the road and continued our journey until we saw a house not far off the road. Next to the path leading to the house was a sign that read: “Restview Vineyards.”
“Here is the house of Manoah and Naamah,” Sipporah said.
“No doubt we are here because we are supposed to visit them,” I replied.”
We turned from the main road and headed toward the house. It was a large house, built for an upper-class, wealthy family. As we drew near, we could see a long-haired boy, about five years old, playing with a home-made toy in the grass nearby. His back was facing us, and he was too absorbed in his play to notice us walking toward him.
Pegasus stopped suddenly. “Quiet! Something is wrong,” he said in a low tone, sniffing the warm air. “I sense danger, a foul presence lurking nearby.”
Then we saw it. A large head of a python could be seen above the tall grass as it crept up behind the boy. The snake’s tongue continued to assess the boy’s position as he prepared to eat his next meal.
“Look out!” I shouted to the boy. He looked up just as the python struck, intent on squeezing the life out of him. Sippore flew quickly toward the boy and hovered over him and the snake. She then began to sing the Song of Miriam. 6
“I will sing to Yahweh, for He is highly exalted;
The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea.
Yahweh is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;
This is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.
Yahweh is a warrior; Yahweh is His name.”
The horses galloped toward the boy. I threw myself off the horse, grabbed the tail of the python, and pulled him away from the boy.
But the boy reached out and grabbed the python by its throat. He began to squeeze with his little hands, and soon the python was gasping for breath with its mouth open and its fangs dripping. It could neither squeeze the boy nor flee from him. As Sippore hovered over the death struggle, those hands were filled with supernatural strength. In a minute, the python was vanquished, and its body convulsed and finally went limp. 7
By this time, Manoah had come running out of the house. He was pale and frightened. But the boy then stood to his feet and dragged the python toward the house, dropping it near the doorstep. He then looked at us, flexed his arms, and gave a loud victory scream, as if to release an abundance of pent-up energy.
In a state of near shock, Manoah picked him off his feet and hugged him tightly.
“Are you alright?” Sipporah asked, walking toward them with a concerned look. By this time, Sippore had returned to her shoulder.
“Yes, of course,” the boy said. “Who are you? Is this your snake?”
“No, this is not our snake,” Sipporah reassured him.
“It is Thuban,” 8 Manoah said. “For many years it has lived in the Sorek Valley, threatening all who live in this area, and no one has been able to kill it. The Philistines have lived in fear of it for a long time, and it is said that they even worship it. They have been known to offer it sacrifices from among their flocks so that it does not eat their own children.”
“But now it is dead,” I said to him, “and your son has killed it.”
“That is impossible under normal conditions,” Manoah said. “Only the Spirit of the Living God could give him such strength. This python is more than ten cubits long.”
“Shalom,” I said, finally introducing myself. “I am Anava, and this is my wife Sipporah. We are Ephraimite travelers who are visiting Israel from a far country.”
“I am Manoah,” he replied. “Please come into our house and let us break bread together. Samson, my son, go fetch your mother from the field.” The boy scampered away without any concern of danger, and I marveled at his courage.
“Thank-you,” I replied.
Manoah opened the door and ushered us into his house. “Please sit,” he said, pointing to a couch. A young servant girl came from a back room to remove our sandals and to wash our feet. The table in the middle of the room was full of scrolls. “I was calculating the amount of new wine from my vineyards,” he explained apologetically, “so that I would know how much tax I must pay the Philistines this year.”
“I see,” I said. “Have you finished gathering the grapes then?”
“Yes,” he replied, “and my servants are treading out the grapes even now on the other side of the hill. We had a very good year, so it will be no problem paying the tax.”
“This is the start of the sixth year of captivity, is it not?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied with a quizzical look. “You really must be from a far country to ask such a question. Are you not subject to the Philistines?”
“No,” I said, “we are beyond their reach, although we have seen our share of captivity as well. God judges all of us alike by the same law, and the people of my country too have been guilty of idolatry.”
“That seems to be a common problem,” he replied with empathy. “Your horses remind me of stories men have told about a man and his wife who gave counsel to the tribal elders at the start of this captivity.”
“We were there,” I confessed. “We stayed at the House of Rephah in Ephraim during the Council. We have now returned to learn what has happened since that time and to give counsel where it is needed.”
“You also visited Timnah, I understand,” he said, probing for more information.
“Yes,” I said with a smile, “we had a mission to the Philistine Council that was meeting there at the time.”
“You must have made quite an impression on the Philistines,” Manoah said. “The whisper was that you were gods, being guarded by lions! There was even a rumor that you had insulted the giants and had lived to tell the tale.”
I smiled without confirming or denying the presence of the lions. “We did indeed have a message from God for the giants. We told them that they were bound to the law of God in their treatment of the Israelites during this captivity. If they oppressed Israel beyond that which is allowed by law, then God would scourge them.”
“That is good to know,” Manoah said with some relief, “but they probably did not appreciate your message.”
Just then Naamah burst into the house with Samson close behind her. We stood to our feet and greeted her. “There is an enormous python on our doorstep!” she exclaimed. “Samson said that he killed a snake, but I had no idea it was that big!”
“No doubt it is Thuban,” Manoah replied. “We are not out of full danger as long as its mate is alive. But God gave Samson the strength to overpower it and to kill it with his bare hands.”
“It is plain that God has a calling for Samson, as the angel told us before he was born,” Naamah said. Turning to Sipporah, she continued to explain herself. “We were visited by an angel six years ago, who told us that we were to have a son. I had been barren for too many years, so this was very good news to us. He was a Nazirite from conception, and it is said that he will begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines.”
“No doubt it will be some years before he is ready to enter his calling,” Sipporah replied, “but we have already seen his potential as a man of great strength. I pray that he also has the spiritual strength to overcome the spirit of python that has lodged in the heart of Israel.”
“What do you mean?” Naamah asked with a puzzled look.
“It is only when the spirit of the serpent is uprooted from the heart of Israel that the captivity will end,” she explained.
Manoah listened intently and looked at me. “How can such evil be rooted out of Israel’s heart?” he asked.
“That is a problem which the high priest must resolve,” I replied, “for he ministers to the heart of the nation. The responsibility to deliver Israel does not rest fully upon your son, nor with any judge in Israel. Your son will scourge the Philistines for their disobedience, but Israel’s heart must be delivered from the spirit of Draco by a priest. The Most High God gives distinct callings and various gifts to many people as He sees fit. Only the Messiah, the coming King, will be given the seven Spirits of God.” 9
“Well, then, if Samson does his part, I will die a happy man.”
We talked far into the night, for Manoah and Naamah insisted that we should stay the night with them. By the time we were ready to sleep, Manoah had decided to go to Timnah the next day and sell the snake to the tanner.
“No doubt he will stuff it and sell it for a handsome price,” Manoah said. “While I am there, I should also get my tools sharpened. The Philistines require us to go to them to sharpen all farm tools and knives. Their excuse is that they do not want Israel to be able to make swords or spears, 10 but in reality, this provides a great deal of employment and money for their people. If you are in no hurry, perhaps you would like to accompany us to Timnah.”
We accepted his offer.