In the Shadow of Jezebel

Free In the Shadow of Jezebel by Mesu Andrews

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Authors: Mesu Andrews
Tags: FIC042040, FIC042030, FIC027050
Jerusalem was under attack.
    Impossible! Confused, Jehoiada ascended to the porch—the highest point in the city—where he could see over Jerusalem’s walls into the valleys on the east, south, and west sides. When he reached the platform between Jachin and Boaz, his heart nearly failed him. Baal priests inside Yahweh’s Temple! Billowing, white linen robes and cleanly shaven heads left no doubt of their pagan allegiance. The wicked delight with which they defiled the sacred golden objects confirmed they were Jehoram’s sons.
    Ignoring the shofars and the city, he ran screaming through the doorway. “How dare you defile the Holy Place of Yahweh! Get out! You will not—” A blow to his belly sent him to his knees, gasping for air. An unfamiliar Judean soldier stood over him, grinning, holding one of the sacred lampstands—a symbol of God’s presence used as a weapon against His priest.
    Another blast of the shofars, and the folly inside the Temple stilled. “What was that?” One of the arrogant princes looked at Jehoiada and scoffed. “Do you use shofars to call in reinforcements? Our watchmen will just kill the next wave of priests too.”
    Still gasping, Jehoiada gathered enough breath for a single threat. “Ask your watchmen what the shofars mean.”
    The other princes halted their celebration, noticing their brother’s concern. “What do they mean?”
    By now, the watchmen had raced to the doors and stood silent. They turned to their regents, their faces finally reflecting the proper fear. “The city is under siege, my lords. It appears those caravans we passed on our way into the city weren’t harmless Cushites after all.”
    In a panic, King Jehoram’s sons gathered the golden utensils, stuffing anything valuable into the pockets of their priestly robes. Jehoiada’s fury reignited, and with a roar he tackled two of the princes before their guards could defend them. He felt the hard, swift blow of a sword hilt to his head and staggered back, landing near the table of showbread. Through a fog, he watched Jehoram’s sons and their watchmen scurry from the Holy Place like rats into the darkness.
    Jehoiada stood on wobbly legs and made his way to the porch, watching archers on the city walls send fiery arrows into the onslaught of an enemy attacking from the south and west. Priests and Levites dotted the Temple’s courtyard, ministering to those who’d been injured or killed.
    Anger. Fear. Despair. Each emotion warred for dominion.
    “Jehoiada! Jehoiada, help!” a familiar voice shouted from the courtyard below.
    Scanning the figures in the rain and commotion, he noticed a contingent of men advancing toward the steps, swords extended from both sides and shields held aloft, hiding the identity of those inside the mini cocoon. Jehoiada hurried down the stairs to meet them, and as he drew near . . . Obadiah? King Jehoram? The two men were escorted by three hulking soldiers—Carites, the king’s mercenary guards—one behind and one on each flank, creating an impenetrable shield around the nobleman and king.
    “Jehoiada, it’s an invasion!” Obadiah said, breathless. “Hurry, we must hide the king.” Jehoram stood silently, shivering between his four saviors, his hair hanging in wet ringlets and dripping with each quake.
    For a long moment, Jehoiada, too, was speechless, the irony overwhelming. “You’re right, Obadiah. It is an invasion—but not of Jerusalem alone. Would you like to see what the king’s sons did to the Holy Place, the lampstands, the table of showbread?”
    Obadiah began shaking his head, waving off Jehoiada’s protest before he’d finished. “We don’t have time for that now. King Jehoram must be saved! Jerusalem is under attack!”
    “Yahweh’s Temple was under attack by his sons !” Jehoiada shouted, advancing toward Jehoram. The Carite guards stepped forward, swords drawn. “Why should I care about this worthless pagan king?”
    “We must get the king to

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