IV g – The Power of Extortion and the Bloodline Continue

The next evening the presiding sage began yet another story of Abraham. The faces around the campfire now had a look of expectation over what they might hear. It seemed as though the same lesson was being played out over and over again with minor variations. It was as if the authors of the stories felt their students weren’t bright enough to learn these lessons unless they were hammered home repeatedly. And so it was that once again extortion was levied by the authority; this time against a foreign ruler called Abimelech. The sage began the next story in a quiet, almost reverent, tone.

After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham moved his herds into the ruins of Sodom and watered them until they were full. As Abraham’s large herds grazed contentedly among the new grass arising from the ashes and drank from the water supplied by Sodom’s well, he found himself in deep discourse with an angent of the authority.

The angent spoke, “Because of your time dwelling in the west your herds have grown thin from a lack of water and proper grazing therefore your wealth declines. Since we now have domain over these watered regions of the east, including the wells of Sodom and Gomorrah, your herds must now be replenished with more fatted calves and bullocks of healthier stock. To achieve this we have arranged to have you journey to the south with your wife. We now command you to travel to Gerar. Our angents there inform us of a king who is less bright than a new moon and quite blind as well. Therefore we feel this king will provide a perfect mark for our sister act. Go now to Gerar; as before, ply the skills of treachery and deceit we have taught you.”

A few days later Abraham broke his camp from outside Sodom and traveled to Gerar where Abimelech, king of Gerar, dwelt. As with Pharaoh, Abraham approached this king with his well rehearsed line, “I am but a poor traveler and this is my sister.”

The king squinted mightily, but could only make out the form of Sarah, which was fortunate as Sarah was now quite advanced in age and could no longer be considered comely. Some considered her fortunate to still be of even breath. But Abraham had seen to this problem by plying Sarah with layers of perfume that covered her every odor.

But upon the very night that the king might have had the opportunity to put his hand upon Sarah’s thigh, he did not, instead he remained circumspect. After their meal together, the king withdrew with naught more than a wish for a goodnight towards his visitors. Retiring for the evening, Abimelech settled into his bed and fell into a deep sleep. In the early hours of what was still the dead dark of a newborn morning, an angent of the authority, a shadowy enforcer of large dimensions, stole into the king’s bed chamber.

He approached the king’s bed and hovering over the sleeping form, croaked forth in a deep, gravelly voice, “Abimelech, hear me well, you are a dead man, for the woman you have touched is the wife of Abraham who is the righteous representative of our pure bloodline.”

Awaking with a start, the king sat bolt upright in bed. As the dark figure retreated a bit, the king wryly commented, “So now you come to threaten me with death for an imagined crime of your own design. I know only too well who and what you represent. No doubt you would murder a righteous nation as quickly as you murder a king!”

The enforcer responded, “One at a time, Abimelech, one at a time.”

Now the king spit out his words, “This cozener said to me ‘She is my sister’ and likewise she lied saying ‘he is my brother’ tell me then, how should I have taken their relationship? I took them at their word and molested neither, or is this not plain enough to you? I only had the best of intentions towards the two of them.”

The enforcer drew close enough in the darkened chambers for Abimelech to smell the pungent stink of rotting gums. The vile odor seemed to carry the words, “I know what you say is true, for I stood close by and had you even designed to touch her, you would have instantly been rendered a sacrifice to YHVH. Know that I did not see you make the slightest approach towards Sarah, but did you not lust for Sarah in your heart?”

“Lust for a hag whose odor cannot be covered by the heaviest of perfumes? Surly you make jest O dark one of the night.”

“You are a clever king Abimelech, sagacious in nature. Although you cannot clearly see these two with your eyes, you accurately perceive their confidence before you. You well know the reason these two have come to your kingdom. Likewise you must have an understanding of the authority’s plan for these two, that is why you dare not touch Sarah even if she was comely and most assuredly you are correct in your assessment of her. You know the game Abimelech! You know why they are here and you know why I am here, so let us dispense with these diplomatic gestures which waste our time. I will make my point directly. You pay Abraham the tribute we specify for the sins of your heart, offer forth public apology for those actions of which you stand accused and by the god of the authority, we will consider it sufficient tribute and allow both you and your kingdom to remain unmolested. If you do your part, Abraham and Sarah will do theirs and then I will have fulfilled my commission and quietly depart from this city leaving all unscathed. You have their word that once your tribute is received, you will not be troubled again by our authority.”

The king sat back in his bed and sighed, “It is done; be assured, Abraham will receive his tribute this very morning.”

The enforcer’s heavy breath wafted forth once again into the kings face, “I knew before I came into your kingdom we could rely on your complicity in this matter. I now depart from this place, but before I go this last word, it is always a pleasure doing business with those who fully appreciate the authority of God’s position in these matters.”

As the morning sun rose on the eastern horizon, Abimelech addressed his staff, telling them that an enforcer for the authority had appeared in his chambers that night with designs on the kingdom’s wealth. Hearing these words, Abimelech’s staff became nervous and fearful for they too, understood what was meant by these events.

Late morning found Abraham and Sarah sitting at the king’s table. In front of them a feast had been laid out. As they broke their fast, the king said to Abraham, “Tell me Abraham what did you have in your thoughts when you entered my kingdom? Why did you claim this woman was your sister, why did you commit false witness? What have I done to deserve this, why is it you commit such a crime against my nation? I am old and my wealth and power is waning, why is it you have come to me now?”

Abraham replied, “I was fearful that you would not show allegiance to my authority and that you might desire Sarah and therefore take revenge on me for saying she was my wife. But know this I am of the pure bloodline, therefore I did not bear false witness. This woman is my sister, for we share our father, but not our mother. It is however also fact that she is my wife.”

Abimelech replied, “A thin reason, a very thin reason – if there could be so thin a thing that could still be visible.”

“When the authority had me travel to this distant place, I was told to represent this woman as my sister. I then asked my wife, please do me this favor, whenever we were to travel to foreign places I asked that she say she was my sister. I assured her in time the purpose for this seeming subterfuge would be revealed by our authority.”

Abimelech replied, “And so it has, for you now extort wealth from me by claiming that I had designs on your wife and for this the authority now threatens my life and the future of my kingdom if I do not pay you tribute!”

After their morning repast, Abimelech escorted Abraham and Sarah out unto a balcony and publicly addressed his people saying, “People of Gerar know that only in my heart did I have improper designs upon this man’s wife, therefore I have affronted Abraham! To reconcile the impropriety committed within my heart, I now present this man and his wife with the greatest gifts of our kingdom.”

With a sweeping gesture the king, commanded loudly to a nearby servant. “Give this man the best of the cattle from my herd and give him ten percent of the gold and silver from my treasury and tell a tenth of my loyal staff they are to go with him and serve him as they would serve me, for to do otherwise might endanger their home and kin, go now and make these arrangements!”

Turning to Sarah, Abimelech said, “I have given this man you call brother a thousand pieces of silver! This payment vindicates you before the people of your bloodline and before all authority.” And thus it was in form, Abimelech publicly censured Sarah.

The sage paused briefly before continuing, “This is the second lesson of extortion for the sin of intent. It is the lesson of holding one responsible for crimes that although possibly considered, are never committed. It is also a lesson of the veiled threat, for from veiled threats of violence great wealth may be gained.

“If pressure is properly applied to those who are weak in spirit they will yield their wealth as well as their faith. Likewise nations weak in constitution may be compromised and will in the same manner yield the wealth of their productive effort with minimal effort or risk to those who wield such power over them.

“Make careful note of the subterfuge employed in this effort, for such actions must always be disguised with righteousness, lest their true intent be properly interpreted by those supporting the power of the authority. Also note once again the demand for a public apology. Such apologies accomplish various things. Chief among them is the victim’s admission of guilt, justifying the sacrifice; therefore no one will question the reason for his submission to extortion. Second, the victim is publicly discredited and such discrediting puts all his words in question, therefore these words of guilt may later be used to gain opinion against him.”

The sage paused to look at the faces surrounding him. Some looked ambivalent, others were sleeping with their eyes open. Yeshu however looked on with disgust. The sage clapped his hand with a sound like thunder and continued the story:

One late evening an angent stole into Abraham’s camp and made his way to Sarah’s tent. Seeing the black robed figure entering her tent, Sarah drew a short breath, but before she could scream, the robed figure hissed quietly, “Be still! I am here with a message for you. You remember our promise to deliver a son unto you? Make ready! For this shall presently come to pass.

“We have sired a child, a lad conceived by a member of our exalted brotherhood of the pure blood and a specially selected concubine. You shall treat this child as your own son, for he will be heir to advancing our pure bloodline. You Sarah, shall tell everyone this child was born of your womb and is the seed of Abraham for it is imperative that he is recognized as your blood heir. If you do not follow us on this matter it will go badly for you and Abraham. Remember these words well for your future hinges on your complicity in this matter.”

From that day on Sarah took pains to arrange her robes in a manner that indicated a pregnant condition and at the appointed time in the very darkest hour of the night, a messenger did arrive with a newborn male whom they named Isaac.

On the eighth day, Abraham circumcised the boy with the cut of the brotherhood and thus the pure bloodline was preserved for future generations.

Ultimately, Sarah, unhappy with this subterfuge, went among her people saying, “YHVH has made me laugh, for he promised I would be with child and lo, he was correct! Look! I have born a son at my advanced age; is this not a matter for great levity and merriment? Has this child not made old fools of Abraham and me?”

Time and again she would say in the most contumelious manner to those around her, “The authority has made me laugh! All those who hear of this birth will know what a fool I have been for not believing the power of YHVH! Come, join in my laughter for is it not mirthful that I have delivered a son? Come everyone, laugh with me for who would ever believe that I would nurse a child in my old age? Only a dangerous fool might think otherwise!”

However, despite her sarcasm, Sarah did as instructed, raising the child as her own. On the day the child was weaned, Abraham held a feast and paid tribute to the authority for their gift of an heir.

Soon however, his slave Hagar began ridiculing Sarah saying, “Sarah laughs because she has given birth at an impossible age. This child is obviously not her own and therefore no more Abraham’s heir than my son. No wonder Sarah laughs, she laughs with scorn at any who might be foolish enough to accept this obvious deceit that deprives Abraham’s true first born son his rightful inheritance.”

That evening Sarah spoke with Abraham, “This woman and her son are a danger to us, for by her accusations they expose the authority’s plan for the pure bloodline. If this should come to pass then, as the authority threatened, we will be at grave risk. Therefore you must send them away so Ishmael will not have to share his inheritance with Isaac.”

Abraham felt greatly distressed by this because he held a place in his heart for his slave and his true son. But even as he pondered his predicament, an angent came to Abraham saying, “Fret not Abraham; do as your wife commands and send them away for Isaac shall be the representative of our blood. Yet, as we promised, Ishmael shall not be forgotten for he too will play a role in our plans for our bloodline and so shall be allotted a certain portion of our gains. In time his sons shall become a tribe unto themselves.”

On the following morning Abraham rose with the sun. On that morning he went to Sarah saying, “Do what you will with Hagar for she is your servant.” So Sarah turned out her slave along with her young son, into the harsh desert lands to fend for themselves.

The two wandered in a wilderness called Ghidi. They traveled until their provisions ran out, then the woman sat Ishmael under a scrub bush and then traveled on a ways so she would not have to watch the boy die. As they lay under the blazing sun, two figures appeared that had been following unnoticed from a distance. After watching Hagar for a time, the two angents approached the woman laying in the sand. As Hagar lay dying, their shadows fell across her prostrate figure. She looked up at what seemed supernatural beings. She tried to speak but her parched, cracked lips would utter no sound. The authorities had arrived at the critical moment to save the grieving woman from death.

There was no coincidence in the timing of their actions. Their advice to Abraham concerning Hagar was all part of a plan. The angent picked up the woman and as they held a water soaked cloth to her lips, they reassured her with soothing words, “Fear not, we have found your son and he is well. We will provide food and water for you both. We come to tell you that your son is of our pure blood; therefore we have great plans for both you and Ishmael.”

They then took Hagar and her son to a remote camp hidden in the wilderness where they nursed them back to health and provided for them. In the fullness of time the boy grew to become a warrior while Hagar returned to Egypt to search out a wife for her son. It was through this carefully planned machination that the blood of the authority would become linked to that great race to the west known as the Egyptians.

The sage paused and several eyes opened wider in anticipation of another clap but none came, only the Sage’s voice disturbed the night air:

Now it came to pass that Abimelech and one of his generals named Phichol spoke to Abraham. The two sought to strike a deal with Abraham, “By our last encounter, we fully recognize the power of your authority and we have done you a great service by providing you with much wealth from my kingdom. Therefore as a representative of the brotherhood, I want your promise that you will not swindle me or my family again. If you refuse to promise this, then in turn I promise to make sure you will be given no further opportunities for such mischief.”

To this Abraham responded “Yes! Yes! By all means, I give my solemn oath that I will bring no further grief upon your house, but know that your men have taken a well that I claim as my own.”

“I have not heard of this until this very moment, why have you not spoken to me about this before?”

Abraham replied craftily, “Let us make a pact, I have brought seven head of my finest ewe lambs.”

“For what purpose?” queried Abimelech.

“If you accept these lambs in good faith, then it will signify the recognition of my claim to the title of this well that is in dispute.

Abraham then built a stone monument surrounding the well and called the place Beersheba. And on this well Abraham wrote these words. “This water well and all surrounding property within ten furlongs are hereby claimed as rightful property of the authority and all their representatives. This agreement was made by his Excellency Abimelech, king of Gerar and Abraham, official representative of the authority of YHVH.” Thus the first of many concordats was made between the authority and a king for the rights to a water well.

Once again the sage paused the story to elaborate upon its meaning, “Herein lies the lesson of the value of legality. When a contract is made between parties and payment is accepted, the agreement then becomes binding upon both parties. Should either party break the contract, then the law has been broken and the wronged party can seek recourse in the appropriate courts or by means of force if necessary and such force will be fully justified by the contract.

“Most importantly is the lesson of establishing the concept that one has been wronged, for that party will hold the upper hand in any further dealings. Mark this lesson well, for in this legality lay certain critical intellectual components for increasing ones wealth and power. Note also that the authority’s angents carefully plan their approach to those with whom they wish to deal to coincide at a critically adverse point. At such times emotions run high and men do not think clearly. This allows an emotionally detached party to exploit the emotional turmoil that invariably provides the highest probability of success in making those contracts most favorable to their position. In short, always deal from a position of strength developed from your opponent’s weakness.”

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