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Rev. Baden Stanley

Rev. Baden Stanley

Each week we hope to post a blog on a Monday or Tuesday. These blogs will hopefully stimulate thought, discussion and even debate around key topic that are affecting our society at this time of great change and challenge.

A Man Called Noah, Chapter 3: The Price of Pride

From her place of never-ending hiding Naamah could sense a change in the mood within the camp. Everyone was tense, on the edge; short terse conversations were being held just out of earshot. Even her mother was distant, new lines of worry marking her ageing face. Then as the sun was setting, as the rest of her family stood around the fire, she watched them from her hiding place. She could hear new footsteps approaching, long loping strides as a large number of taller men entered the camp. Greetings were tense and strained. The anger on both sides barely contained. A voice, deep and harsh spoke up, ‘We have heard that you and your sons have stolen the lives of our sons, three harmless youths who wandered this way some months ago’. ‘Harmless you say!’ snarled Lamech ‘Would these be the three young bucks who molested my daughter and shamed my family?’. Naamah shivered at the growls of anger from both sides, her heart beating with re-surging fear.

‘There must be blood!’ snarled the leader, his face wizened from the harsh summers. Lamech’s voice came closer to the tent as he slowly withdrew the three iron spikes from the ground. ‘There has already been blood, the blood of my daughter and her innocence spilt on the soil by your sons, while my sons simply took her bride price with their blood’. The chief of the Taller-men retorted with words that chilled Naamah’s heart to the core, ‘No! There must be more, your sons and daughter still live. One of them must pay the price. My sons did wrong, but so did yours. One must die or all will die! We return at dawn!’

Naamah hardly noticed the departure of the Taller-men nor the murmurings of her family. She thought on her future life, barely an existence, wasting, hidden, filled with shame that was not of her making, but was now to be hers to carry to her death. Her brothers stared at her in sullen silence as she emerged from her suffocating tent. Her father could scarcely look at her. Her mother shed silent tears but said nothing. She walked to the dwindling fire, picked up the three iron spikes, and without a word followed the direction taken by the Taller-men. Just as she was leaving the flickering firelight and entering the surrounding darkness, she heard her father speak loudly to her mother and brothers: ‘Listen to me, hear my voice; we have killed men who attacked me and mine, young men who wounded me. If one who kills Cain is punished seven times, then the one who kills me or mine will be punished seven times seven!’

It was a hollow promise, her father had already proved himself powerless before the Taller-men. Even if vengeance could be thwarted by fear and superstition, Naamah knew she no longer had a family or a home where she could find safety and love. It would be better to die with the rising sun than lie hidden behind the veils of tents.

She must have slept at some point as she awaited her fate outside the camps of the Taller-men, for when she awoke with a start as dawn was threatening to break, she found the remains of her tent dumped beside her. The message was clear, ‘survive or die, whatever happens, do not return!’ The rising sun brought new sights to her weary eyes, rows upon rows of Taller-men, these mortals who considered themselves sons of gods, these supposed heroes of legend and fable. As Naamah gazed upon them she saw only the weakness of those who believed themselves invincible, They were mere youths, whose eyes betrayed feelings of fear, lust and anticipation at a blood letting. It mattered not, Naamah knew she was not much more for this world, she kept her eyes fixed towards the rising sun, enjoying its fresh warmth upon her shivering frame. She noted, as if in a dream, the leader of the Taller-men coming up to her, not stopping until he stood inches in front of her. A look of cold indifference transforming into a sneer of derision as he looked beyond her to the empty hills behind her. They both knew there would be none who would stand with her. As he made to turn back to his own kin, his hand lashed out and struck her face so that she collapsed to her knees. The youths all roared their approval and called her awful names, their lust for blood and vengeance emboldening them. She thought of getting back on her feet but reasoned there was little point as the physical strength of the leader was too much for her to stand up to for long. She didn’t notice the shift in the mood of the place as the chief spoke of the value of the lives of his sons over that of this worthless woman who had probably tricked and beguiled them to do what they had done. He faltered in his diatribe as he noticed looks of confusion and unease in the eyes of his kinsmen. Turning swiftly, as one long used to being ready for anunexpected attack, his eyes searched the hills behind Naamah until he saw him; a lone man making his way steadily towards him. The now risen sun shone full on this man’s face. He was clearly no great warrior, indeed he looked little more than a shepherd searching for one of his sheep. And yet the chief sensed danger, and readied himself as the stranger came to a halt just above the shivering girl. The man looked briefly at the remains of Naamah’s tent, frowning at what it signified, then he looked at Naamah who was becoming aware of his presence. She and all around, watched warily, still unsure what would happen next.

The chief drew himself to his full height, a good four feet taller than this stranger; his fists clenched in growing anticipation of some new sport before he finally finished off the girl. The man spoke, his voice soft and yet his words rang out so that all could hear him. ‘My name is Noah, grandson of the wise Methuselah,’ a buzz of excitement spread through the watching Taller-men. Methuselah the ancient was well-known to all. The chief half-closed his eyes to better see and understand what was happening. Noah continued, ‘My father’s name is Lamech, no, not the same Lamech who hides in hills behind us! Lamech, son of Methuselah is a wiser man. We follow the God who created us not so many lifetimes ago, the same God who threw us out of the Holy Garden, who protects us from any who would do evil. I have been sent with a warning for the Taller-men’. Noah’s eyes hardened as he glared up at the chief. ‘Repent of your ways, do not consider yourselves to be the sons of gods! He has seen the evil that you do, the fear that you spread with your misguided power, the innocence that you steal. The day is coming when God will pour down judgement upon the Taller-men.’

With that, Noah turned away from the chief and bent over the shivering form of Naamah. The sun spread long shadows of the Warrior Chief as he launched himself at Noah with surprising speed.

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