Book Excerpts

Over the next few months the section below will highlight the main characters and events of the coming book, Magi Journey – Assyria, and will also keep everyone updated on the book’s progress through editing and publishing.

Book Updates

Over the next few months the section below will highlight the main characters and events of the coming book, Magi Journey – Assyria, and will also keep everyone updated on the book’s progress through editing and publishing.

Updates:

October 8, 2021 – the book is being formatted by the publisher, Bookbaby for both e-book and paperback, and should be available for distribution in three to four weeks. I thank God He allowed me to finish, and I pray the book glorifies Him.

The book was edited by Teresa Crumpton of Author Spark, https://authorspark.org/, and the book cover and maps were designed by Nick Bolton who you can follow at @cinderandrain on Instagram.

Excerpts:

 

Navid’s mouth was so dry, his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. He could not speak. Around him, the elders stood in silence. It had to be unanimous; he knew that. They waited for Navid to speak, to give the final confirmation of what they already knew. “It’s ‘possibly’ the sign for which we have long waited. The coming of the Messiah.” They all knew the prophecy of Balaam, recorded in the book of Numbers, “A star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel.”[i] In Isaiah, they read, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”[ii] These men knew the prophecies.[

 Tiz remained thoughtful for a moment. “Regardless of how much we were willing to admit to ourselves and others, I think we all knew that this would be a costly trip. There are enemies behind, and in front, and wilderness and desert to cross. There is no way through this gauntlet without bloodshed. Why did the Messiah choose to come at this exact time? Hundreds of years, we waited for a sign. It could have come to our children or our children’s children, but it did not. It came to us. Could we dishonor all those who preceded us, who waited and watched, who studied the Scriptures and taught generation after generation that Messiah was coming? Could we ignore the sign and the angel of the Lord? No, it was a simple choice. God chose this time, and He chose us. I would gladly give my life to ensure we complete this journey. The Family must make it to Israel.”

Navid remembered it like it was yesterday. The fathers held a feast to announce the engagement. Many of the Magi traveled to the event, and all of the headmen, from the Satrapy and their wives, were there. The feast lasted for three days, drinking and eating, eating and drinking, games and contests, wrestling, archery, javelin, sling, and even races. How much everyone had wagered on the competitions was impossible to estimate. It was loud, it was joyful, and it had been the highlight of his life. The crowd lifted the chairs on which he and Leyla sat and put them on their shoulders. They paraded them around the compound. Navid remembered the joy in Leyla’s eyes as she laughed and smiled at him as the people carried them. Now he was on his way to claim his betrothed. Carrying her away in the middle of the night was not the way he had planned them to begin their life together, but this is the way it had to be. He knew Leyla would agree, and grandfather could marry them tomorrow.

 

It was a beautiful spring day, with a light wind, and the sun brought pleasant, gentle warmth to the men. The breeze was from the west, coming off the Mediterranean Sea, bringing the smells of the cultivated fields of the Sharon Valley. Baildan watched as hawks circled on the weak air currents looking for prey. White storks filled the sky, making their annual migration north. As he watched the birds, he thought what a tactical advantage it would be to see the battlefield from their vantage. He also thought what a marvel, the things and places they saw, the inner drive that caused them to axiomatically find the same nesting and breeding ground year after year. Who could have designed such a fantastic creature? He almost forgot their mission entirely as he relaxed on the gently moving horse and contemplated his life and the world around him.

 

   “What you thinking, boss?” The husky voice of Ashur brought him out of his reverie.

   “I was just thinking how peaceful the silence was,” Baildan replied in a pleasant tone as he turned and smiled at Ashur.

   “I get it.” Ashur blushed. “You was thinking how pleasant it was until I started yammering.”

 

   Baildan shook his head and laughed. “No, actually, I was thinking how fortunate I am to be spending the day on my favorite horse, enjoying this marvelous day with men who mean everything to me.”

   Ava was the only daughter of Hosh, the leader of the left flank. Hosh’s wife had been barren for years, and Ava had been born to them when Hosh was thirty-four. She was now sixteen, not what you would call beautiful, but very attractive. Ava had beautiful eyes and a complexion like dark honey, her nose was small and straight, and she was…womanly. She was one of the most considerate and compassionate people in the whole Family. If a child was crying, Ava was there to wipe the nose, kiss the knee scrape, or hug a frightened child. If one of the elderly was dying, Ava sat with them, whispered to them, and helped them on their passage to see God. It was Ava who stood up for those being taunted or abused. She was a bully’s worst nightmare, grabbing them and marching them to their parents, where she disclosed the full deeds of the miscreant. She was the friend that everyone wanted and needed. If you were her friend, she showed up. She stood beside you, was honest with you, and defended you. If anyone threatened you, she was a lioness, ready to protect. Navid had known Ava his whole life. How had he not seen her before? She stood there grinning and smiling at him, her hair up in a scarf and flour on her face and robe, and at that moment, she looked beautiful to him.

 

Before us today are the Judeans. They want to kill you. They want to take your life and leave you bleeding in the dirt. Not all of you will see the end of this day. We are facing a well-trained disciplined army fighting on their soil, defending their homes and families. They will be determined; they will be fierce. Unfortunately for them, they have never seen warriors like you. You are smarter, faster, stronger, and you are the best-trained fighting men in this battle. You are a terror, a horrible visage that will leave those who live with eternal nightmares. Look at the man to your left and your right. That is your world today; nothing else matters. You will protect each other. You will not grow weak, and you will not tire. As the day wears on, the Judeans will grow hungry. They will grow thirsty. They will faint with weariness. You will not; Judean blood will cover you from head to foot. You will be the very image that has always haunted their nightmares. You will look in their eyes, at their fear, as they realize death is coming for them. They will see Hades’ yawning mouth as they look into your eyes. You are death.”

 

Utana hesitated for a moment and the proceeded cautiously, “Speaking of the wedding — did Jahan give you any advice about tonight?… Yes, Jahan did give me advice. Be patient. Don’t rush; let your wife take the lead. Talk for a while, don’t run into the tent, and jump onto your sleeping mat. Talk about each other’s expectations and concerns. You will be married to each other for the rest of your lives. It would be best if you learned to talk about intimate things. Be honest about what you know and don’t know. Tell her to speak to you before, during, and after you make love. Without communication, you will not know how to please each other. The first night is critical in setting the tone for your marriage. Your wife must know that you care about her as a person. She must know that her feelings and concerns are important to you. You become one flesh tonight. You are responsible for loving, caring for, and protecting Fahnik for the rest of your lives. She must know she can rely on you. Her trust will deepen over time with experience, but it starts tonight.”

 

“Do not forget we are going to the temple of Assur tonight. We are making sacrifices for a successful campaign and safety.”

      Baildan glanced at his wife, whose expression had not changed, and then at his mother, “Of course, mother, you, father, and I will go right after our meal.”

      Khannah arched her eyebrows and looked at Rachael, “Oh, are you not joining us, my dear?”

      Baildan was about to intercede when Rachael spoke up, “Mother, I do not mean to offend, but neither Benjamin nor I can enter the temple of a foreign god. We are Israelites of the tribe of Judah. Jehovah is a jealous God, and His Word commands that we worship Him alone. As a young girl, I promised that I would always worship only Him, and it is a promise that I must keep. The same is true of Benjamin.”

“Do you have your dress ready for tonight?” Ava inquired.

“Mother finished making it two days ago, but she won’t let me see it.  I guess it’s some old Magi tradition,” Fahnik said, smiling at her friend.

“I know, same with my mom.  I’m dying to see it.  What if it doesn’t fit?” Ava pouted.

“I know your mother,” Fahnik said as she laughed, “it will fit.  She’s the best seamstress in the family.  Are you nervous about tonight?  Did your mother give you any advice?

“Yes, she said don’t spill anything on the dress.”  At this, they both laughed.

“You know what I mean.  I mean, did your mother give you advice about the wedding night?”

 Zaia continued, “King Hezekiah, King Sennacherib has been busy subduing his eastern territories since he took the throne three years ago.  He has completed those campaigns.  Next, he will turn his attention to the Levantine states, Philistia, and Judah.  You all took advantage of his inattention to stop paying tribute.  You have mistaken his inattention as weakness.  That is a mistake.  When he comes, he will bring 400,000 men.  He will come with chariots and horses, with siege engines, battering rams, archers slingers, and a vast infantry.  They will come wearing iron from head to foot.  They will go through Judah like locusts, and death and starvation will follow in their wake.  I am not making threats.  My wife and my daughter-in-law are Israelites.  My son and I have lived in Jerusalem our entire lives.  Yes, I speak for King Sennacherib, but more importantly, I represent my family.  Seek peace with Assyria, send your annual tribute.  I beg you.”

The king looked down at Zaia. “You have been here since I became king. You have seen how much we have strengthened our fortified cities. Lachish and Jerusalem are impenetrable. I have added more warriors, horses, and chariots. We can, and we will resist Sennacherib if he comes.”

 

   “I feared that would be your answer. If this is the course you choose, then listen to your prophet, Isaiah, oh king! Only God can save you from the King of Assyria.”

The Magi were on the wall and cliffs overlooking the Immortals. The two forces stood facing each other, and finally, the new commander of the Immortals rode forward and spoke to everyone. “I know many of you. I ate at your tables; I grew up with your children. You educated me, taught me to be a man, and you made me a warrior. I beg you to give this up and return with me to Susa. I cannot bear the thought of fighting you, but I will if I must.” There was no response, except for a single arrow that arched high and landed at the commander’s feet. He shook his head and ordered his men to dismount. The horses would be useless against the fortification. This would be an infantry attack.