Oath-Brothers

Genesis Fiction: Lech Lecha

Oath-Brothers

“I shall not go with Abram on this crazed campaign,” Eshkol stomped his long but lithe feet on the intricately tiled floor of Mamre’s home, “it is suicide!”

“How can you even think to abandon us, Eshkol,” Mamre responded as forcefully from deep in his barrel chest, “you would sunder our sacred covenant with Abram, out of cowardice?”

Aner, the eldest of the three, who had been watching the debate with growing concern, stood up to intercept Eshkol before he got within striking distance of Mamre.

“Now, now, Mamre,” Aner stated in soothing tones, as he grabbed on to Eshkol, “there is no need to speak so disparagingly of our brother.”

“Mamre, we have fought side by side with Abram on previous skirmishes and small raids,” Eshkol said more tersely, standing a bit taller, “where I was very much in danger and threatened personally. But what Abram proposes now is nothing less than suicide. To attack Amrafel’s legions, after they successfully destroyed the combined armies of Sedom and Gemorah is simply insane. We are speaking of pitting our workers and slaves against Amrafel’s professional soldiers.”

“Do not try to frighten me,” Mamre answered angrily, “I am loyal to the death to Abram, and more importantly to the God of Abram, who visibly protects him like a favored child. Abram must rescue his nephew from Amrafel, and we, his oath-brothers must go with him. The God, who protects and blesses Abram, will continue to protect and bless us as well.”

“I too believe in his God,” Eshkol explained, “however, against such a formidable foe, we might as well take our own lives here at home and save ourselves the journey, and Abram’s God the hassle.”

Aner cleared his throat, getting both Mamre’s and Eshkol’s attention. “I too am fearful of such a momentous undertaking. However, we cannot in good conscious forsake our brother Abram.”

“By placing us in such an impossible position,” Eshkol retorted, “Abram is the one who is forsaking us. I shall not in good conscious throw away my life against all reason.”

“First of all,” Mamre said, his voice getting louder again, “Abram has not called us to help him, though it should be clearly understood. Second, Abram, our great brother, would not think any less, of any of us, for not joining him. Third, and most importantly – you are lacking in faith. Faith! If you do not have the faith that the God of Abram, the One and Only God, as Abram has taught us, the Creator and Ruler of the Earth, can perform miracles beyond our imagination – then perhaps you are better off staying home. Though I think it would break my heart and perhaps our friendship.” Mamre then sat down heavily looking away from his guests.

Eshkol stood speechless. His mouth hung open at Mamre’s statements. He too sat down morosely. After a few silent moments he uncomfortably explained:

“It may be true that my fear is greater than my faith. However I cannot live with my friendship being questioned. I just require some more tangible hope, something concrete that will let some reason rule over trepidation.”

Eshkol’s confession was greeted with uncomfortable silence.

“Then let me suggest a thought you just inspired,” Aner broke the quiet, “that encourages me and may give you the concrete loadstone you require. Amrafel has just re-conquered and ransacked the entire plain of our very wealthy neighbors of Sedom and Gemorah. If by some miracle, the God of Abram were to place Amrafel in our hands, the spoils of this war would be beyond anything we have ever seen.”

“That is indeed a more tangible goal,” Eshkol stated more excitedly, “though equally suicidal.”

“The spoils would be ours by convention,” Mamre added, “and they would indeed be monumental. Though that is not what draws me, and I am sure it holds little allure to Abram.”

“But it is agreed then,” Aner looked meaningfully at Eshkol, “we are in this together, with the explicit understanding that we get our fair share of the spoils.”

Eshkol looked pensively at Aner and then at the brooding Mamre. He was in mortal fear of attacking Amrafel’s legions. The image of facing Amrafel’s army made his legs wobble and his stomach turn. But he could not face the possibility of being branded a coward. Such a mark would ruin him. And the thought of disappointing Mamre, and even worse, the holy Abram, was more than he could bear. How could he abandon his friends, his oath-brothers? They had always been there for him, especially Abram. Abram, so kind and gentle and wise. Yet so strong and firm and courageous. He knew in his heart he would follow Abram to the ends of the earth.

Aner was right. The idea of the spoils was a good distraction and lessened the dread. And Mamre was right too. The God of Abram had performed miracles for him against all odds. He was indeed powerful.

“I am with you.” Eshkol declared emotionally. “I was wrong to even sow doubt in our friendship.”

Mamre leapt up with a tear in his eye. “My dear Eshkol,” Mamre almost cried as he grabbed Eshkol’s forearm, “I am sorry I even questioned your friendship. This will be a grand adventure.”

As if by divine inspiration, at that very moment, Abram walked in to Mamre’s house.

Aner was the first to greet him and quickly pulled Abram into the embrace of Eshkol and Mamre.

“All hail Abram!” Aner exclaimed, “Prince of God!”

“All hail Abram! Prince of God!” Eshkol and Mamre responded.

“We are with you in all your troubles. Be strong and of good courage!” Aner sang.

“We are with you in all your troubles.” Eshkol and Mamre rejoined in unison.

“Be strong and of good courage!”

* * * * * *

See Genesis Chapter 14 “The War of the Kings”

From Bereshit Rabbah 42:8:

When the Holy One, Blessed is He, told Abraham to circumcise himself, he went and consulted his three friends…

Eshkol said to him, “Why will you put an end to yourself among your enemies, (weakened by circumcision, you will be unable to ward off their attack)?” Said the Holy One, Blessed is He, “By your life, I will not appear to Abraham in the residence of Eshkol…”

Aner said to him, “You are already a hundred years old, and you are going to inflict pain on yourself?”

Mamre said to him, “Your God Who stood by you in the fiery furnace, in the battle with the kings, and in famine – will you not obey Him when He tells you to circumcise yourself?” The Holy One, Blessed is He, said to Mamre, “You advised him to circumcise himself – by your life, I will appear to him only in your residence.” Then God appeared to Abraham in the plains of Mamre (Genesis 18:1)

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