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Elroy Was Here
Written December 12, 2019

One day I was walking through the wilderness on my way to Shur.

There's a spring along the road between Kadesh and Bered.  Sitting there, all alone, was a young Egyptian woman.  She appeared to be with child.  [Genesis 16:1,7]~

I asked where she had come from.  “Don't concern yourself with me, sir,” she answered.  “I am a only a slave.”

“God loves all his children,” I reassured her, “no matter what their station in life.  But where is your master?”

“I'm the property of a woman named Sarah, who came to this land ten years ago.  My name is Hagar.  Now that I'm pregnant, Sarah is treating me harshly, so I ran away.”  [16:8]~ 

“What does she have against you?”

“Well, her husband is 86 years old, and he's never been able to give her a son.  [16:16]  She thought it might be her fault, so she offered her husband my womb.  I went in to him and did as I was told.  He lay with me, and sure enough I conceived.”

“As Sarah had hoped.”

“But then she changed her mind.  She decided she didn't want to raise a child who wasn't really hers, so now she despised me!”  [21:10] 

“That doesn't seem fair.”

“I complained to her husband that I was being wronged, but he wouldn't do anything about it because he didn't own me; his wife did.  Then she became even more cruel to me, and I had to get out of there.”  [16:2-6]~

“Where are you going now?”

“I don't know.  I have nowhere to run.”

“Hagar, my dear,” I said sympathetically, “you're in a difficult situation.  You're pregnant and homeless.  I really think you should go back to your mistress, even if you have to submit to ill-treatment at her hands.  At least there you'll have a place to live.”  [16:9]~

She seemed unconvinced.

“God has heard of your ill-treatment,” I reassured her.  “If you bear a son, it would be appropriate to call him Ishmael, which means God Will Hear.  That name will always serve as a reminder that God knows everyone's troubles.”  [16:11]~

“God has heard of my ill-treatment?” she repeated, starting to cry.

“Yes, and God will surely avenge the wrongs you have suffered!  Your son Ishmael's hand will be against all his kin.  He will live at odds with your faithless mistress and with her unhelpful husband.”  [16:12]~

“Is this true?” she asked, gazing up at me.  “Am I really seeing God?  Is he seeing me now?”  [16:13]~

“Uh, my name is Elroy,” I corrected her.

But she still suspected I was divine.  “Yes!  I shall call you Elroy indeed!  That name means You Are the God Who Sees Me.

I gently stood her up and pointed her shoulders back the way she had come.  She was ecstatic.  “Have I really seen God and still live, after this vision?  A MIRACLE OF THE LORD!  I shall call this spring Beer-lahai-roi, The Well of the Living One Who Sees Me!”  [16:13-14]~

I had offered my advice, so it was time to take my leave.  Hagar called after me, “And when my son grows up, I'll be sure to marry him to an Egyptian girl like myself — not to a hateful woman like Sarah!”  [21:21]~


Some years later, two friends and I were trudging through dry country near Hebron.  We encountered a big oak tree at Mamre's Terebinths.  However, Mamre the Amorite was nowhere to be seen, only a tent where an old man was dozing in the doorway.  [Genesis 18:1]~

The man looked up and was startled to see us.  Being a hospitable sort, he struggled to his feet.  “Sirs,” he said, “don't just walk past without stopping to visit!  Rest here in the shade of this tree.”  He offered to bring us water to wash our feet and food to refresh us, and we accepted.

Before we knew it, the man was serving us a fine lunch of fresh-baked bread and veal and cottage cheese and milk.  [18:2-8]~

We asked him his name.  “I am Abraham,” he said, “and my wife who baked the bread is Sarah.”

“She should join us,” we all said.  “No, she's very old, though not as old as I,” he replied.  “She prefers to stay inside the tent with her Egyptian slave girl.”  [16:9]~

An Egyptian slave girl, belonging to a woman named Sarah?  Did she have a child called Ishmael?  It wasn't proper for a stranger to enter the women's place, so I couldn't go look for myself.

After lunch, I told Abraham, “You have been very kind to us.  I'll be back this way next year, and I hope to see you again.  In the coming months, may you be blessed with health and wealth.  May you have flocks and flour in abundance.  Perhaps, by then, you wife will have even borne you a new son!”

I was only half joking, but from inside the tent there came a mocking laugh.  It seems that Sarah was past child-bearing age.  [16:10-12]~

“Why did your wife find that ridiculous?” I asked Abraham.  “Isn't it possible?  Is anything impossible for God?”  [16:13-14]~

He stared at me and finally said, “My God is called Yahweh.  Are you my God?”

I almost laughed myself.  “They call me Elroy,” I answered.  “And these are my companions Gadreel and Zephon.”  If he thought I was his God, my companions must have been my angels.

The three of us set out to continue our journeys.  Abraham escorted us part of the way.  Although Gadreel and Zephon were going on to Sodom, I headed in a different direction.  [18:16,22]~ 

I've always avoided Sodom.  The Dead Sea is nearby.  Much too salty for my taste, it's slowly drying up, revealing great blocks of salt.

“Sodom and Gomorrah — I've heard a great outcry about their sins,” I remarked.  ~

“There ought to be an investigation.  I don't know if the rumors are true, but if they are, those wicked cities ought to be swept off the face of the earth!”  [18:20-21]~ 

God knows everything, and I had just admitted that I don't know everything.  But Abraham didn't notice.  “If I may be so bold, my lord,” he asked me, “would that be fair?  I don't wish to question your judgment, but surely not the entire population of those cities is wicked.  Far be it from God, the judge of the world, to sweep away the innocent together with the guilty!  Suppose there are 50 innocent people in Sodom.”

“Then I suppose the city should be spared.”  [18:23-26]~

“How about 45 virtuous people?”

“Yes,” I sighed.

“Or 40?  Or 30?  Or 20?  Or 10?”

“For the sake of even ten innocent Sodomites, it ought not to be destroyed,” I conceded.  But I had wearied of Abraham's questions, so I took my leave.  [18:27-33]~

Later I met up again with my two “angels.”  I asked what had happened when they arrived at Sodom that evening.

“We lodged with a man who turned out to be Abraham's brother, Lot,” Gadreel told me.  “But the townspeople were hateful to us!  The next morning, we and the whole household had to flee.”  [19:1-22]~

“And would you believe it,” Zephon said, “we had hardly reached the hill of Zoar when pieces of a fiery meteor began raining down from the sky!  I screamed, ‘Run for your lives and don't look back!’”

Gadreel added, “We all got away, except Lot's wife.  She didn't make it.  [19:26]   The fire destroyed everything that lived or grew on that plain — Sodom, and Gomorrah, and all the land around them.  A MIRACLE OF THE LORD!”  [19:23-25]~

When the sun rose the next day, I'm told, the plain was completely covered with thick smoke rising from the earth.  [19:27-28]~ I guess God couldn't find even ten virtuous people there.

  

Click here for other Bible stories I've retold in the first person.

TBT

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