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bySiobhan Lake Beachy
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Nathan sat by the stream, feet dangling in the water, cleaning his axe. It was a beautiful day with a slight breeze in the air. The sun shone down on the stream and the meadow, warming his face. The summer was going to be a warm one. He stood and stretched in the morning sun.
Walking over to the next tree a few cubits away, he grabbed his knife. The axe needed a new handle and a new rope to keep the handle on. If the rope was new, Nathan would let it dry onto the axe handle thus ensuring a good, tight and sturdy fit. That was how he needed to make it. So it would be a tight fit.
He often went to the stream to get away from the noise of the small village that he lived in with his parents and sister. This was a good spot to sit and whittle a new axe handle. He found the perfect branch and sat himself down under the shade of the tree and put the blade to the wood.
It wasn’t that the village was noisy, but he had finished his chores earlier in the day and the only thing left to do – other than help his father in the field – was to listen to his mother and her friends all day. He and his brother-in-law switched days helping his father. That was what his father wanted. That way, his father always said, you don’t get bored of helping me and want to do something else. He guessed his father was right. On his days doing the chores, he wished he were in the field and while in the field he wished he were here.
The last time he used the axe to chop firewood a few days ago, the axe head nearly came off the handle and hit his friend, and brother-in-law, Jonathan. Even by their new law, it might have been ruled an accident, if Jonathan didn’t die, and he would have been responsible for whatever damages it caused his friend, Nathan didn’t want it to come to that though.
He and Jonathan had been friends since they were on their mother’s knee. The things they had done while growing up would have made their parents wonder if they would ever make it to adulthood, their coming of age.
That wasn’t the issue he wanted to get away from today. A Canaanite merchant trader had come by a while back and was trading some cloth, grains and other dried foods. He had bought some from the trader and didn’t receive as much as he thought. The basket from the trader had a false bottom that he had discovered and didn’t hold as much as what he thought it would. Nathan wondered if the Canaanite knew it or not.
Of course he knew it. Nathan bit his lip hard.
“Mighty One, I am sorry for that thought.” He would have to talk with the rabbi of the temple to see what he would have to sacrifice for that thought.
Of course he knew about the false bottom in the basket. It was his basket after all. But maybe someone else had but the false bottom in it before Shalmaneser got it back.
He knew that the trader would, or should be, back in the area soon and Nathan was hoping to get his money’s worth. If word got around that Shalmaneser didn’t deal right with his customers, he would soon have none.
Nathan had heard from a few others, so he wasn’t sure how reliable the information was, that Jehoiachin was having problems with the merchant as well. If that were true, maybe they should go together and – nicely – confront Shalmaneser. Jehoiachin, he had heard, was a difficult man to work with. Making no never mind about that, he, Nathan, would still go to the next town the next day, say his peace, and see if they could talk with Shalmaneser. The only bad part of that was that tomorrow was his day to work with his father. Would his father or brother-in-law let him go? He could only ask.