Research- King Joash- Given By the Lord

It’s Thursday, the day when I’m supposed to talk about a research find. First, I’ll tell you researching for Biblical fiction isn’t easy. There are tons of varying theories on all sorts of things and whether we want to believe it or not there are some contradictory scriptures.

Let’s just look at these two scriptures.

Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah the granddaughter of Omri, king of Israel. II Kings 8:26 (NKJV)

Ahaziah was forty-twoyears old when he became king, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah the granddaughter of Omri. II Chronicles 22:2 (NKJV)

Does that mean the Bible isn’t God inspired? No, not at all. The inconsistency could be any number of things, most probable it is an error on man’s part through translation.

Ahaziah is the father of King Joash. My Biblical romance series is set during the beginning reign of Joash. Most of you know that Ahaziah’s mother, Athaliah, went on a murderous rampage when her son died. She killed all the princes, save one. Joash was rescued by his Aunt Jehosheba, the wife of high priest Jehoiada. According to scripture, Joash was hidden with them in a bedchamber in the temple.

Well, I found a bit of problem with that. First, when Athaliah took over the kingdom of Judah the temple was badly damaged. For those of you who don’t know, her parents where Ahab and Jezebel. Yeah, remember them? Elijah and God went head to head with Jezebel and Ba’al. Of course God won, as He always has and always will.

Athaliah couldn’t have taken too kindly to anything that had to do with YWHW. Her mother was humiliated and when she was killed by Jehu dogs devoured her flesh just as had been prophesied by Elijah. So, when you consider what happened to her mother, and given human nature to place blame, it’s not too far fetched to believe Athaliah despised anything and everything that had to do with God. Remember that damage to the temple I spoke about? It was in such disrepair it took over twenty years for the finances to  be raised and repairs to begin.

Was it habitable? I suppose, but perhaps not anymore so than a cave in the hills. And any activity within the temple probably would have been noticed. I believe she was that paranoid and delusional.

The other thing I had a bit of a problem with is that from every bit of research I’ve encountered the priests did not live in the temple. IN the First Temple Period the priests lived near Ophel. During the Second Temple Period some lived in the Herodian Quarter.

So, I took some creative license. Scripture says, “He (Joash) remained hidden with his nurse at the house of the Lord six years.”

That word house, bayith means the same thing as temple. According to Strong’s Concordance, temple can mean a range of things when it comes to the temple in the Old Testament.

1) house

a) house, dwelling habitation

b) shelter or abode of animals

c) human bodies (fig.)

d) of Sheol

e) of abode of light and darkness

f) of land of Ephraim

Considering Athaliah’s behavior, I mean seriously, she killed all of her husband’s children and nephews, even her own grandchildren, I didn’t think she’d allow any of the temple priests to move around freely without being watched. Then again she could have been so arrogant and confident that she thought she had nothing to worry about. Her mother was much the same way.

So back to the point, I took a great deal of creative license, and removed Joash from Jerusalem. I chose to see bayith c) human bodies and I’ll tell you why. Do you know what Joash’s name means? Given by the Lord. The first story in this series was totally, without a doubt given to me by the Lord.

I will also tell you that when I wrote this story, in a little over a month, not once did I stop and do research. The research came after the story was written and I was working on revisions. To me that is absolutely amazing.

I’ve already met with some controversy over this story. I had a critique partner who believed I needed to change certain aspects of the story. I understand the whole ‘not adding or taking away’ from scripture thing. I don’t think I did that. I think I interpreted it differently. One thing that scripture does say is that Joash’s nurse stayed with him and I did keep her with him. I tried to stay as true to form as possible. I also spent a lot of time in prayer over this story. A lot. Not only that, I know several faithful, not writing prayer warriors prayed over this story too. And since I totally believe God inspired this story, I’m going to trust Him to do what He does and use it to glorify His name.

So, I ask you, am I creating some great faux pas?

The Little Things

We spend hours filling out character sheets and plotting our story. We know each character has a job to do in order propel the story forward to the dramatic end. We plot carefully to make sure every chapter, scene, paragraph, sentence, and word does its job. But what about the little things?

 A few months ago, I had watched a show on NatGeo where an ancient Greek ship, believed to be 5 B. C.,  was found in the Black Sea. Over 20 amphorae jars were discovered on the deck. Amazingly, they were very well preserved. If you click on this link, you’ll find a few pictures, including fish bones that were discovered in one of the jars, giving you an idea what was being transported.

Containers such as those found at the bottom of the Black Sea, whether made of bronze, onxy, or earthenware, were used for hundreds, possibly thousands of years. You can even see one referenced in Genesis 24:14 when Abraham’s servent went in search of a wife for Isaac.

Genesis 23:11-14 He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward eveining the time the women go out to draw water.

Then he prayed, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’ –let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”

I quite imagine that the jar Rebekah carried upon her head had more of a flat bottom. There are a few illustrations of the different types of jars in Illustrated Dictionary of Bible Manners & Customs edited by A. Van Deursen. Some have pointed, rounded bottoms and some are flat.  

So, we know the jars were used in commerce and for carrying water. They were also used in households for storing things like olive oil. By keeping the oil in a cool dark place it kept it from being rancid.  The jars specific for olive oil usually had longer, thinner necks, which helped to keep the light from spoiling it. Other jars  probably stored grains, and possibly used to hold goat’s milk, as well as dyes for weaving and medicines.

Earthenware is just one of the many small things I’ve added into my story to give it a sense of rich authenticity. This one item can’t do it alone, but put together with a myraid of other items and it can sweep you away to another time and place.

Jesus Calms the Storm

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into the boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Luke 8:22-25

I can’t imagine the fear the disciples felt as their boat began to rock furiously with the waves. I have difficulty keeping it together when a nasty storm appears on the radar within a hundred miles of my home. And I’m on land! Not everyone fears storms. In fact, I have only heard of one other person that fears them as much as I do. I guess I should clarify that I’m not scared of the storm, but scared of the possibility of tornadoes.

I know God is great and almighty, and I’ve been told often that “if it is my time to go, then it is my time to go,” but that doesn’t mean worry or fear isn’t a part of that equation when it comes across my line of sight.

Friends, this has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t scared of strong storms. At least as I’ve grown older I’ve tried to pray it out instead of giving into an anxiety attack. It’s not always easy, but I do try. Like tonight for instance, we were in the direct path of a tornadic storm. The storm was about 60 miles southwest of us. Yes, it was quite a ways, but the last thing I want to do is be caught driving in a wicked storm. Hubs asked if I wanted to go to my mother’s. Typically my response would be to grab the keys and go. Instead, I said no, I just want it to go away!

Would you believe the storm diminished and changed coarse in only minutes? Well, it did! Praise God. And it’s not the first time. Many times I’ve seen these kind of storms split in half, leaving our neighborhood with very little rain.

I’m not proud of my fear, especially when it makes me second guess just how strong my faith is, but it has enabled me to use my experience in my writing. In Priest, my heroine is terrified of dark places. Dark places represent the unkown. At one point she has to choose between the unknown and the known. Sometimes the known is much worse than the unknown, and in this case the known is much, much worse. Her decision will change her entire faith in God.

What kind of personal experiences have you written into your stories? If you’re a reader, have you ever related to something a character experienced?