Along the Euphrates Chapter One

Chapter One.

“We really are going! Really!” Zillah insisted splashing cold water from the Euphrates at Elijah.

Elijah dove down below the surface and swam with the current. He wasn’t in the mood to argue with Zillah,  and she was probably right anyway. In the first place, Zillah just was right most of the time, and in the second place, he had heard Micah and his father talking about the plans Abrahm and Abrahm’s father, Terah, were making.  If it was true, he would be herding his sheep to a very far, far away land, and, as Micah had said, over steep mountains and through salt cedar forests. If that was true, he figured he had better enjoy his free time while he could. No need wasting time arguing with Zillah.

When he popped up above the water, he was only mildly surprised to see Zillah popping up a few feet ahead of him. She was a strong swimmer and often swam further and faster than he did, but she never teased him or bragged on herself. “I am going to help my mother with Sarai,” she said. “And, it’s not “if” we are going anymore. We are going.”

“It will be a long, long trip.” Elijah said surprising Zillah by not continuing his insistence that no decision had been made. “It will be up steep mountains and through salt cedar forests.”

“Who told you that? Micah? What does he know? Just ’cause he is a few years older than us, he thinks he knows everything. No one here has ever been there before.”

“Well,” Elijah said. “It’s a long way.  It will take a really, really long time, so we will have to come to mountains and woods.”

“Doesn’t mean we won’t go around the mountains and around the forests, too. And who ever heard of a salt cedar forest? Did you ever see more than 4 or 5 of them in one place? My mother said that God Himself told Abrahm to go, so He will make a good way for us to get there, don’t you think?”

Elijah thought about that for awhile. Zillah always thought that way. To Zillah, God would always make everything easy and wonderful. He wasn’t quite as convinced. It wasn’t that Elijah didn’t believe in God. He certainly believed in God, and he knew that Jehovah was the one and only true God, unlike his brother, Micah, who he had heard praying to the moon god. But, life was different for Elijah. While Zillah helped her mother take care of Sarai, Elijah was a shepherd. He even had his own sheep to look after. When you had to go looking for a stray and rescue it, you could run into many dangers. No amount of prayers had helped the night one of his flock had wandered away and been killed by the wolves. “Maybe, God will challenge us with dangers in order to make us stronger,” he said echoing the words he had heard many times from his father.

“We shall see,” Zillah said and headed for the shore. “We better get back. Micah won’t watch your sheep forever.”

When Zillah, who had just turned twelve, caught up with her mother, the news was not good. Yes, they were going, but she would not be helping her mother care for Sarai. She would be in charge of a number of small children, so that their mothers could either care for infants or continue to serve as handmaids to Terah, Abrahm, or Lot and their families. “How many?” Zillah asked holding back tears of frustration and trying to sound respectful.

“I don’t know,” her mother said. “5, maybe 6. It won’t be hard. They will be at least 4 years old. They will be able to walk and talk. You will be fine. Everyone needs to serve. This is what the Lord has set upon us.”

Zillah thought for a moment about God. He would not ask her to do something that wouldn’t be a positive experience and good for her. He would always be with her and take care of her. She believed this with all her heart. Not because her mother and father had told her, although they had many times, but because it was just part of her being. She just knew it. “I know it deep down in my bones,” she had told Elijah. She worried that Elijah didn’t feel the same as she did about God. But, she didn’t have time to think or worry about that just now. The idea of taking care of five or six little children filled her mind. It would be much more difficult than being a shepherd with 20 sheep like Elijah. Sheep did not talk back, and they were very good at just walking along one behind the other. Still, she had to do it, so she might as well smile and do it with a strong and willing heart. That was what her Aunt Lizzie had told her many times before. “What about Aunt Lizzie?” she asked her mother. “How can she walk so far?”

“The old ones will ride in the ox carts.” her mother said.

But, not the children, Zillah thought. And I will be responsible for five, maybe six, of them, and we will walk and walk and walk day after day. She wanted to run up the hill and find Elijah, but her mother had way too much for her to do. There were water jugs to fill from the well and clothes to wash and hang to dry in the afternoon sun. Then, most likely, she would be asked to take care of Milda, her tiny niece, who couldn’t talk yet, who couldn’t even crawl yet. Zillah set out for the well where several other young girls were also filling their water jugs.

 

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