Unholy empire chronicles.., p.32

Unholy Empire: Chronicles of the Host, Vol 2: Chronicles of the Host, Book 2, page 32

 

Unholy Empire: Chronicles of the Host, Vol 2: Chronicles of the Host, Book 2
 



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  “Bring me writing material and our fastest courier,” he demanded. “I will send a message tonight!”

  As the steward exited the room, Balak’s chief minister, Zora, came in. The king greeted him and explained that he was sending for help and was willing to pay any price for it.

  “And to whom are you sending, majesty?” asked Zora.

  “Balaam of Pethor,” said Balak. “He is a great seer, a man known to every country in the world; a man whose knowledge of the divine will bring this invasion to its knees!”

  “I’m sure the elders will approve,” agreed Zora, watching the king write. “I shall personally escort them to Pethor with the message.”

  “Excellent,” said Balak.

  “I shall, of course, need to draw upon the treasury. Balaam is gifted—and he charges a handsome fee for his services.”

  “Yes, yes, pay him whatever he asks,” said Balak. “Here, how does this sound?”

  He handed the letter to Zora, who read:

  To Balaam, son of Beor,

  A great people have come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and they have settled next to my kingdom. Come, and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. For I know that you are blessed with a special gift, and those whom you bless are blessed, and those whom you curse are cursed!

  Zora thought the letter perfect. The king gave the dispatch to his courier and told him to assemble the elders immediately. Balak looked at Zora, comforted that he had taken such a measure.

  “Perhaps now your majesty will be able to sleep,” said Zora.

  “Perhaps,” said the king. “But I shall not sleep well until Balaam arrives and curses Israel for their incursions. He will call upon his god and humble the desert god of Israel!”

  CHAPTER 25

  “These people cannot possibly keep the law.”

  Rugio and Kara watched as Balak drifted off to sleep. They had decided to allow him a good night’s rest. Thrown together by the circumstances into an uneasy alliance, Rugio, whose regional authority included Moab, and Kara, whose tactics for subtle deception were needed, stood together in the king’s bedchamber. Next to Rugio were his two main aides, Nathan and Vel.

  “Balaam’s reputation among the Hebrews will certainly work to our advantage,” said Kara. “He claims to worship the Most High as they do.”

  “It certainly had an effect on Balak,” agreed Rugio. “I must admit that the dreams you have been introducing into his mind drove him right into our plans.”

  “My plans, you mean,” Kara snorted.

  “At any rate, as principal ruler over this region, I applaud your efforts on behalf of Moab and the gods that reign here in our name. Despite our conflicts of the past, I must say that I am grateful.” Rugio added, “Should the time come when you need my assistance, I hope that you will call upon me.”

  “Have no fear, Rugio,” said Kara as he vanished. “I shall. In the meantime I must be off to Pethor. Balaam is about to be visited from the great divine…”

  The elders of Moab arrived and were admitted into Balaam’s luxurious home in Pethor. They could not believe how richly fitted the house was. Balaam’s art of divination certainly had paid off! Balaam took the message and then invited the elders to have some wine while he read the message.

  When he had read the note and considered it, he went into the room where the elders were relaxing.

  “I am gratified that your king thinks so highly of my gift as to send for it,” he began. Balaam was dressed in a purple robe that had gold thread woven in strange lettering and magical symbols along its sleeves. His belt was crimson, and he also had a huge emerald, which, he explained, was a gift from a “grateful king from the east for whom I performed some little service.”

  “As you know, I am familiar with the God of the Hebrews. I have studied Him and He speaks to me, although I don’t know Him as His people do. Nevertheless I respect Him and shall see what He instructs in the matter. Spend this night as my guests, and I shall give you an answer in the morning.”

  As Balaam sought the answer from the Lord as to what he should do, Kara entered his room. He intended to appear to Balaam as an Angel of Light, and order him to Moab at once. But before he had an opportunity to manifest before Balaam, the Presence of God filled the room. Kara immediately fled.

  “Lord?” asked Balaam, sensing His Presence.

  “You must not curse these people, for I have blessed them.”

  “As You command, O Lord!”

  The next morning, Balaam told the elders from Moab that the Lord had appeared to him and that he was unable to curse the Hebrews. Zora tried to reason with Balaam, but it was no use. The elders left, feeling that perhaps Balaam had indeed heard from the Lord. Zora, however, suspected something else.

  “It is my opinion that it was not the Lord who spoke to his heart but the size of the offering we brought him,” concluded Zora.

  He was speaking to the king and his chief elders. Behind them, watching the proceedings, were Rugio, whose administration of this territory was being tested, and Kara, still Rugio’s sometime ally.

  “You mean to say that our offering insulted him?” asked one of the elders. “I thought it extremely generous.”

  “Perhaps to an average seer it was generous,” said Zora. “But Balaam is renowned throughout the world. He is called upon by kings and generals; his lifestyle bespeaks expensive taste.”

  He looked at Balak, who sat drinking from his cup and listening to the discussion.

  “I suspect, majesty, that were we to increase the sum of his payment, we might secure his services—appeal to his vanity, so to speak.”

  “Very well,” said Balak. “I authorize you to draw upon the treasury whatever you deem necessary. I further order the most exalted princes of this land to accompany you and speak once more to Balaam at Pethor. We need him…so get him.”

  As the men excused themselves from the king’s presence, Balak walked to the window and peered out over the city. Kara and Rugio looked at each other. Rugio was puzzled.

  “If he would not accept the money the first time, why should he now?” asked Rugio. “The Lord already spoke to him on this.”

  “Balaam is a diviner, Rugio,” said Kara. “He is capable of hearing many voices.” He smiled at Rugio and picked up a gold medallion. “We shall speak to what truly drives his heart.”

  He tossed the coin into the king’s cup, splashing some of the wine onto the table. Balak turned at the sound, and upon seeing the cup gave a puzzled look. As he reached for the wine, Rugio knocked it off the table. Balak left the room screaming that his chamber was haunted. Kara and Rugio laughed and vanished.

  Zora handed the letter from Balak to Balaam. Once more Balaam received the delegation from Moab, this time consisting of some of the greatest men in the land. He bid them relax in his courtyard while he read Balak’s second letter to him:

  This is what Balak, son of Zippor, king of Moab says:

  Do not let anything keep you from coming to me and I will reward you quite handsomely and do whatever you say. But come and put a curse upon these people.

  As before, Balaam told the delegation that he would have an answer for them in the morning. But before he even arrived at his bedroom he was hindered by a figure in his hallway—a figure of a man…or was it a god? The being was brilliant, as if made of light, and emanated a peaceful, almost intoxicating, sense of love.

  “Balaam, son of Beor, hear me.”

  “Is it You, O Lord?”

  “Because you obeyed me when I was testing you, I have granted you the great wealth that these men bring to you—for I know it is in your heart to receive their gift.”

  “Yes, Lord, it is indeed a great sum. I had decided to go with them this time.”

  “Well done. Take the gift and do what is in your heart to do. For I have opened the door for you.”

  As quickly as the apparition had appeared it vanished. Balaam rubbed his eyes to make sure he ha
d truly witnessed this spectacle, and then retired to his bedroom. Had he been able, he would have heard the laughter of Kara and Rugio in the hallway.

  “The Lord has graciously given permission for me to come with you,” reported Balaam to the delegation the next morning. “However He requires certain provisions.”

  “Such as…?” asked Zora suspiciously.

  “I can only do what He tells me to do—no more.”

  “Agreed. What else?”

  “Well, in the matter of the fee,” Balaam began in a distressed tone. “The Lord requires that an honorarium be given in His holy name as well.”

  “I see,” said Zora. “And to whom are we to give the honorarium in his name?”

  “Why to me, of course,” said Balaam in an astonished manner. “I am to deposit it at His temple outside of Babylon on my next journey there.”

  “Yes, of course,” said Zora. “After you have performed your services you will be paid in full. In fact, until you have served our king we shall hold the fee in honor of the Lord at the treasury in Moab.”

  Balaam thought about it for a minute. He was ready to let it all go but the fabulous amount offered, plus the honorarium he had just wheedled out of them was too much to pass up.

  “Very well,” Balaam said. “I shall depart for Moab in the morning.”

  “We shall ride on ahead of you to announce your arrival,” said Zora, bowing his head. The others bowed their heads as well. “Balak will be most grateful.”

  “Grateful kings are what I live for,” said Balaam, smiling at the delegation as they left the room.

  Gabriel was waiting on the road to Moab. He was speaking with a new assignee named Jerub, who had most recently been attached to the Temple warden in Heaven. Jerub longed for a place on earth serving with one of the archangels and was promoted as a commander in training. Gabriel was to let him observe his interaction with humans.

  “Are you certain that he will approach on this road?” asked Jerub.

  “Of course,” said Gabriel. “First rule of an assignment, Jerub. Always scout out the intelligence so you know what to expect. The enemy is cunning, but humans, though unpredictable at times, usually are creatures of habit. As this is the quickest road to Moab, I can assure you that Balaam shall be on it.”

  Jerub nodded his head in acknowledgment.

  “Besides, I received a report before your arrival that he was on this very road.”

  Jerub smiled. He liked being assigned to Gabriel. Had he been with Michael he might have been thrust into something a bit more daring, but with Gabriel he was assured good fellowship and something interesting.

  “Gabriel, might I ask you something?”

  “Yes Jerub, that is why you are here.”

  “Why were you assigned to this particular duty? I mean, it seems that any angel might be capable of…”

  “Rule number two, Jerub. Don’t question your orders.”

  Jerub nodded, but in a frowning sort of way, because he wasn’t quite satisfied with the answer.

  “However,” Gabriel continued, “Because I am the chief messenger of the Lord and an archangel, the Lord Most High ordered that I appear here in advance of the Lord’s angel and clear out any unclean spirits. They are innumerable in this carnal land.”

  “The Angel of the Lord? Here?” asked Jerub.

  Gabriel smiled.

  “Yes, Jerub, the Angel of the Lord.”

  “But who is he?” asked Jerub. “We have of course studied him at the Academy and have heard of his appearance to Hagar, but…is it true that it is the Lord Himself?”

  Before Gabriel had a chance to answer he stood and suddenly ordered Jerub to the side. The two of them stood off the pathway as a figure of a man on a donkey appeared in the distance.

  “Is that…?”

  “Quiet,” said Gabriel.

  As they watched, an angel appeared before them on the pathway—the Angel of the Lord. It was the very angel who had appeared to Hagar; and also one of the three angels who had appeared to Abraham at Mamre.

  Balaam was accompanied by his two servants, who were responsible for carrying the different ceremonial tools of his trade: robes, scrolls, incense, and other mystical objects. As he approached the place where the angels were, the donkey suddenly stopped. Balaam wondered what was happening and goaded the donkey forward, but instead the animal veered off into the field.

  “You stupid beast!” screamed Balaam, who began beating the donkey with a stick, driving it back on the path. The donkey looked back at Balaam, and then, turning its head back to the road, continued on.

  “I’ll get rid of you if you do that again,” Balaam said aloud.

  His servants continued following behind.

  The donkey proceeded cautiously, for she had seen something that Balaam had not seen: the Angel of the Lord, sword drawn, ready to strike at the donkey’s master!

  Gabriel motioned to Jerub.

  “Come on, we’re moving,” he said.

  Balaam approached a narrowing in the path between two large grapevines. A wall was built on either side of the road, making the passage very narrow. It was here that the Angel of the Lord once more straddled the path. Gabriel and Jerub sat on the wall a bit farther down the road so they could observe the encounter.

  When the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord in her path again, she moved to one side to avoid him. In doing do she scraped up against the wall, dragging Balaam’s foot against it. Balaam screamed in pain and began beating the donkey once more. Gabriel felt sorry for the animal. Her eyes were seeing more clearly than her master’s, even though he who made his living “divining” the unseen.

  “Where to now?” asked Jerub, wondering why the Angel of the Lord let Balaam pass on by. “He got through twice already.”

  “No,” Gabriel responded. “He will speak to him this time.”

  “The Angel of the Lord will speak to that false prophet?” asked a puzzled Jerub.

  “Watch,” Gabriel said as they vanished to meet Balaam farther down the road.

  The Angel of the Lord had moved to a point farther down the path, where it was so narrow there was no room to turn to the right or the left. When the poor donkey saw the figure again, she gave up and lay down on the path. Balaam was furious and began to beat her for a third time.

  “Now watch,” said Gabriel.

  The donkey turned her head toward Balaam, who was still beating her. The Lord opened the donkey’s mouth and she began to speak:

  “What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?”

  Balaam could not believe his ears. He stopped beating her and looked back to see if his servants had heard anything. He then looked back at the donkey. As a seer, he had experienced many bizarre things, but this was the first time an animal had spoken to him.

  “I don’t know how you can speak,” Balaam said in a low voice so his servants would not hear him speaking to the animal. “But you made me look like a fool. If I had a sword right now I would kill you.”

  “I have been your donkey for a long time,” the donkey said. “Have I ever acted like this, or thrown you, or run you under a tree limb?”

  “Well, no,” said Balaam.

  Suddenly the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam. Standing before him was the Angel of the Lord, sword drawn as if to use it against him. At first Balaam shrank back in fear, and then he pulled off the donkey and fell to the ground, face down.

  The Angel of the Lord then spoke to him:

  “Why is it that you have beaten this poor animal these three times? Don’t you know that I am here to oppose you because the path you have chosen is a reckless one? I permitted you to go with these men under the condition that you obey Me. Instead, because of the greed in your heart you seek only more personal gain. You plan to do what is in your heart—and what these men ask of you.”

  “My Lord,” said Balaam, “I go in Your service.”

  “You go to curse My people, but I told you to do otherwise,” said the L
ord. “Had this animal not had more sense than you, and moved away from Me, I would have surely killed you and spared the donkey. Your pride has set you against Me!”

  Balaam swallowed hard and then said, “I did not know You were in the road to oppose me, Lord. I have sinned and will go back if You are displeased.”

  “No, you shall go ahead,” said the Angel of the Lord. “You shall go with these men, but you will only be able to say what I tell you to say. I shall humble this king of Moab with the words I give you to speak.”

  Balaam agreed to do everything the Lord ordered, and the Angel moved out of his way. He and his companions continued on down the path unopposed. The Angel of the Lord vanished, leaving Gabriel and Jerub on the path.

  “I hope Balaam has the sense of a man who has just been rebuked by the Lord,” said Jerub.

  “I would be pleased if he had the sense of a donkey!” said Gabriel with a sly grin on his face.

  Chronicles of the Host

  Balaam’s Blessing, Moses’ death

  True to the Lord’s words, Balaam was unable to curse the people of the Lord. Three times did Balak, king of Moab, hire Balaam to curse the people. And all three times, as Balaam began to speak, he would deliver an oracle of the Lord that blessed the enemy of Balak rather than curse him.

  Furious that he had been so treated, Balak refused to pay Balaam any of his fees. He sent the would-be prophet back to Pethor, but not before Balaam uttered these magnificent words from the heart of the Most High:

  A star will come out of Jacob;

  A scepter will rise out of Israel.

  The Lord had taken the words of a man that Lucifer had hoped would bring curses and confusion upon Israel, and turned them instead into another prophecy concerning the Seed that was one day to be born…

  As for Moses, the great prophet and leader of the Hebrews, who had delivered them out of Egypt and led them through the wilderness, he now took them to the edge of Canaan (because of his sin at Meribah, he was not permitted to enter). And so it was that Joshua was chosen by the Lord to succeed Moses as ruler in Israel.

 

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