THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch16 – part 8

SPEARS AND SHIELDS – GadaraCG-book-cover-w

The battle raged on for another three hours. Though the Roman lines held, Arturos was worried on how long they can hold out until they are finally pushed back. The legionnaires were exhausted. All the reserves were used to bolster the lines and the reinforcements were an hour over due. So far, Aretas had only used the Nubians. He still had two thousand Arab forces in reserve. The last attack was almost a disaster when the Nubians broke through the shield wall of the left flank which almost resulted in a route. But a counter attack led by Arturos himself and Cornelius pushed them back.

Then Arturos ordered his cohorts to slowly advance. The Nubians withdrew about a hundred yards to regroup. In a bold move, he signaled his lines to quickly open up, then his cavalry of two hundred men quickly rode through the opening and formed up for a charge about twenty yards ahead. Then the cohorts formed up into two wings. Arturos commanded the left wing while Cornelius led the right wing.

The Nubians did not expect a charge and they panicked as walls of mounted spears were bearing down on them. The cavalry easily caught up to the retreating Nubians and carved out a wide swatch down their middle. Then they wheeled to the left effectively cutting off their left flank. In the confusion and panic the cut off flank turned and ran toward Arturos’ advancing left wing. They clashed and a pitched battle went under way. Cornelius had to halt his wing to keep them abreast to the left wing to make sure that they can support them if need be.

Then Cornelius heard multiple horns being sounded from the enemy side of the long valley. Thinking that Aretas had finally committed his reserves, Cornelius rode his horse to a nearby knoll to asses the situation. What he saw was the Arab forces withdrawing further back where they came from. Aretas’ command pavilion on the ridge was being struck and all he could see were his flags also withdrawing. The reason of which became obvious when upon hearing trumpets blaring behind him, Cornelius shifted his gaze back at the gap and saw a massive formation of cavalry. The relief force had arrived.

They have won the field.
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The story continues on in my next post.

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Sketching HIStory #22

Gen 21 – Isaac is born & the fate of Ishmael

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Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” [Gen 21:1-8]

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CRIMSON THREAD

Luke 3:23,34

Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph… the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham…

Another Christmas parallel:

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah… and his wife Elizabeth… Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.”

After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant … [Luke 1:5-7; 11-13; 24]

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gen-21-ysmael-mocking-w.jpgThe child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking… [Gen 21:9]

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…and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. [Gen 21:10-14]

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God’s Promise Connection

 

vs 12  – “…it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 

Gen 12:3   “…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

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She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.

When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.

God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt. [Gen 21:14-21]

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch16 – part 7

SPEARS AND SHIELDS – GadaraCG-book-cover-w

Then Cornelius heard his name called from below. It was Jacob clambering up the path to their ledge supported by Cestus who saw him ride in. The old man was frantic when he got to the top of the ledge.

“It is Trax! He is not anywhere in the fort. According to a guard, he saw him marching out with the twelfth auxiliary unit.”

“Sir, the twelfth auxiliary is on the south slope,” said Cestus.

Cornelius quickly scanned the south slope and saw that the defensive units are holding their positions. But the Nubians are gaining ground. Then he saw fresh forces scaling the south slope and he feared that they will eventually be swamped. He quickly went over to Arturos and asked permission to get the reserves up. Arturos knowing the situation told to him to go.

“Cestus, bring up the eighteenth and the twenty first unit to join me at the south slope. Move!”

Telling Jacob to stay on the ledge, he quickly went down to the valley floor and raced to the other side. Trumpets were blaring. Cornelius was quickly joined by Cestus followed by about a hundred or so men up a winding trail that went up to the top of the south ridge. When they got to the ridge they were above the defensive positions. Sure enough the defensive line was breached. The archers had retreat to regroup higher up. The auxiliary units were being pushed back leaving small clusters of soldiers surrounded by enraged black warriors. A group of twenty was bravely making a stand forming a shell fighting off about sixty Nubians.

Cornelius sounded the advance. The re-grouped auxiliary units that fell back joined his advancing line of steel sweeping down toward the original line. The Nubians that broke through were the first to be overwhelmed. Cornelius saw that the surrounded cluster of men was now down to fifteen. They were now desperately beating off the Nubians as they stood with their backs against a rock wall. That was when he saw Trax in the midst of that cluster.

Cornelius took Cestus and twenty others and started to push and fight their way to the beleaguered group. When they were ten yards away, the attacking Nubians started to back away. To his surprise, Trax lead the remainder group and lunged forward to press a counter attack on the retreating Nubians. Hearing encouraging shouts from Cestus and a number of the men who knew the lad, Trax tackled two big Nubians who went to face him. Ducking under a clumsy swing, he drove his javelin into the abdomen of one of them. Then, with his shield deflecting the other warrior’s thrust, he jabbed forward with his short sword and cut a wound on the warrior’s shield arm. The Nubian was wary, thinking that Trax was an easy kill because of his small frame. He did not expect Trax’s determination. As they swung and parried, Trax manage to push him to the edge of a steep drop. The warrior made a desperate lunge which Trax quickly parried. Then he jabbed the bottom edge of his shield and caught the Nubian on the forehead. With a despairing cry, he fell backward unto the jagged rocks below.

Cestus and the other men cheered for the lad while Cornelius looked upon him with pride. The lad stood there bruised and with a slight bandaged cut around his arm breathing heavy. And as the adrenaline drained away, the boy started to shake. Then he bowled over, wrenched and threw up. But it did not matter for the men as they laughed their approval. The lad straightened up with a shameful smile of embarrassment. Then he saw Cornelius and approached like a puppy who knew he did wrong.

“Are you angry with me? Sir?”

Cornelius could not help but laugh out loud and placed his hand on the lad’s shoulder. “Yes lad? I am angry. But I am also proud of you, son! Extremely proud.”

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The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q

Sketching HIStory #21

Gen 18,19 – God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah

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When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. [Gen 18:16]

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Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare e the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”

“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”

Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”

He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”

Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”

He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”

He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”

Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”

He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.  [Gen 18:17-33]

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The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”

“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”

But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. [Gen 19:1-3]

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How did Lot (Abraham’s nephew) end up in Sodom?

Back in Gen 13, Lot separated from Abraham when Lot’s flock of sheep became so large that the land they both grazed in could not sustain both their flocks. When given a choice, Lot chose to bring his entire household and flocks down to the fertile valley around the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Then in Gen 14, after he and his family became prisoners by a marauding army and then being saved by his uncle Abraham, Lot chose to reside inside the city of Sodom for better security.

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Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

“Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. [Gen 19:4-10]

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Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door. [Gen 19:11]
The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”

So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”

When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”

He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.)  [Gen 19:12-22]

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By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. [Gen 19:23-26]

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Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace. [Gen 19:27-28]

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What happened to Lot later?

After Lot and his daughters survived the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, they eventually ended living like hermits in a cave somewhere in the mountain range east of the Dead Sea. Because of their isolation, Lot was tricked by his daughters to have incest intercourse with them. The result was he siring Moab and Ben-Ammi who became the fathers of the Moabites and the Ammonites. Both people will later be a factor in Abraham’s descendants’ destiny.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch16 – part 6

SPEARS AND SHIELDS – GadaraCG-book-cover-w

The attack started. Cornelius noted that Aretas was committing his Nubian mercenaries and holding back his Arab contingent. The Nubian warriors were known for their ferociousness. He had seen captured warriors fight in the arena. Their attacks are fast and relentless. Even when badly wounded, they would press on. Nubians are lightly armored, preferring leather than bronze. Speed and agility are their advantage. Their shields are light, covered with a thick hide but not good enough to stop an iron tipped arrow. Their primary weapon is a short spear that is really two weapons in one. It is not a throwing spear. It has a ten inch long leaf shaped blade, able to be used like a sword. At the other end of the shaft is a round ball made of solid bone able to crush heads even with helmets on. They also carried two long throwing spears.

Before the Nubians moved forward, they sang a rhythmic eerie song and beat their weapons against their shields. After about twenty minutes, they all shouted in a high pitch scream and surged forward at a dead run. There was no formation. They intend to use their numbers to quickly overwhelm the defenders. When they were about a hundred yards, several whistles sounded, signaling the first line to quickly retreat. At the same time, the archers let loose their deadly rain. Hundreds fell. But Cornelius saw not enough mainly because they only had two hundred archers. It was too bad that they did not have time to set up even one of the three balistras that were still back at the fort. One could launch a thousand arrows a shot.

At twenty yards, the front elements threw their first spears. The legionnaires training and discipline kicked in. The shields of the front line faced forward forming a tight wall while all the lines behind lifted and locked their shields to form an impenetrable shell. Most of the spears bounced off harmlessly, but a few found its mark as Cornelius noted a few screams within the ranks.

The Nubian front lines sped up. Their tactics against the Roman shell were for the first elements to bodily throw themselves to collapse the shield wall in the initial hit allowing the other rushing ranks to swarm through the breach. This was an effective tactic used against the Legions in the past. This day, however, Arturos’ cohorts have a weapon borrowed from the Greeks a suggestion offered by Cornelius during the planning stages some months back. The front howling ranks of Nubians incredibly leaped the dug trench but were surprised to find hundreds of stout twenty foot long spears jutting out through the tightly pact shields. Though a few missed the spears, most were pinioned on them screaming in agony. The shield wall held.

As the next ranks had to contend with jumping into and trying to fight their way out of the ditch, a loud signal was sounded then together the shell opened up and hundreds of deadly javelins were thrown from the cohort’s second to the fifth ranks. From his high vantage point, Cornelius saw the forward momentum pause as the next ranks of hundred of men fell back by the javelin onslaught. It was like a giant scythe swept right through them.

During this respite, another signal was given and the tired first and second ranks retreated to the rear as a fresh new shield wall were formed by the rested third and fourth lines. By then, the whole length of the ditch was filled to the brim with dead and dying of both sides but mostly of theirs. This time, the Nubians came forward slowly in line formation. They had to walk on their dead and dying comrades and hit the shield wall again. Cornelius noted the rear ranks break off left and right to scale the sloped sides. Several times they were repulsed by the archers and the auxiliary units who threw stones and boulders down on them but yet they still came.

Then Cornelius heard his name called from below.

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The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch16 – part 5

SPEARS AND SHIELDS – GadaraCG-book-cover-w

Then the trumpets were sounded. It was the call for assembly. Cornelius jumped out of his seat and Jacob helped him with his armor. As he put on his furred cloak against the cold, he told Jacob to get the boy and stay in their quarters. Cornelius quickly went out of his tent and ran into Flavius. They both rushed to the assembly area.

The legionnaires stood at their respective formation facing a raised wooden platform. Cornelius joined Tribune Arturos as he and two other officers were mounting the platform.

“Legionnaires!” Arturos called all of them to attention. “Our eastern patrol had returned and they reported that the enemy is on the march. They are marching toward us.” The men cheered with enthusiasm. Cornelius knew the men were eager for a fight after four boring months of tedious training and patrols. “We shall meet this force and we shall prevail!” The men cheered even louder.

Arturos went back into his command tent with Cornelius and the other officers in tow. “Gentlemen, our scouts counted over seven thousand men; five thousand of which are the Nubians. We have over fifteen hundred plus three hundred cavalry. We have another five hundred from the city garrison which we will use as reserves. I have sent fast riders to Gerasa which is two hours away by horse. We can expect their cavalry of one thousand to reach us in four. Their infantry will not arrive in time. Aretas will know this. So, he will hit us and try to overwhelm us before reinforcement arrives. If he succeeds, it would not matter if our forces arrive later, because by then he would fortify Gadara.”

Going over to a map stretched out on an easel, it showed a detailed rendering of the terrain east of the Hellenic city of Gadara. Arturos pointed right at some markings that he earlier made. That part of the map showed a long valley flanked by two high ridges.

“We will meet them here at this narrow gap! This valley is the shortest route for them to get to Gadara. They will have no choice but to attack our positions there. We have to hold until reinforcements.”

Two hours later, the two cohorts were in battle formation in the narrowest part of the valley. Rising left and right of the gap were sheer sloped terrain. Though the sloped terrain was not impossible to climb, it would take too long and it would be costly, for Arturos positioned his archers supported by auxiliary units from the city garrison on both slopes. Cornelius saw that the gap between the two slopes was narrow enough for only four hundred men to stand a breast of each other. This was perfect for a defensive position. Though the enemy greatly out numbered them by almost three to one, they can only commit several hundreds at a time. And to add more chaos into the mix, the legionnaires quickly dug up a four foot wide and three foot deep ditch that stretch from one slope to the other. To hide the ditch from the enemy a single line of soldiers will stand before it. The plan was that on the initial attack, the first line will be signaled to withdraw down into the ditch and back up into the main body. Fortunately, they finished the ditch as the enemy came into sight at the other end of the valley.

Arturos and Cornelius were standing on a level ledge half way up the North slope watching Aretas’ army form up in attack formation. They could just make out their counterparts putting up a pavilion on a small ridge behind their units.

“By the gods, Cornelius,” Arturos quietly said nervously. “I have to tell you my mouth is dry and my insides are shaking! I am afraid.”

“I would be even more concerned if you were not.”

Arturos looked at him. “Are you afraid? You do not look it.”

“Of course? Every good soldier would be, even veterans. We just do not show it.”

“Well, Centurion? I am only too glad that you are here with me today.”

The attack started.

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The story continues on in my next post.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

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Johann Q

Sketching HIStory – Update News

Greetings to all who are following my Sketching HIStory Blog.

ChristmasCard2019-w.jpgFirst, I would like to apologize that I have not posted for some time. I am sure you have heard of how many authors/bloggers hit an inspiration wall called “writer’s block”. Well, I fear that I too have succumbed to a… ahem… “sketcher/writer’s block”.

The reason behind it is that I found myself on another crossroad where I have to choose between being a financial burden or a contributing member of society. Of course, I do not want to be a burden to anyone, though the Lord is always there to provide through family, friends and most especially my wife. Yet, I feel it right to work out a way to use all my abilities… which by the way, the good Lord had graciously given me… to become first a provider to my wife who had selflessly set her life as my primary caregiver. For me to achieve being the bread winner, I have to focus on writing (which I am still not as prolific) and/or start a small business to sell my digital art created through “Sketching from the Neck Up”. This is a great challenge for me as I have never done this before. I pray that the Lord will give me wisdom as I explore this endeavor and grant me success… for HIS GLORY.

Meanwhile, I do intend to continue Sketching HIStory. I ask though for your patience and look for future posts after the Christmas holidays. I encourage you, though, please continue to get to know HIS story by taking 10 minutes of your time each day (or every other day) and read the rest of Genesis in the Bible. Believe me, when you active seek Him, He will make Himself known to you.

I am sure as you continue reading the Bible on your own, there will be many questions. So, I offer myself for you to contact me online by:

[1] CONTACT ME HERE

or

[2] Message me on Facebook

I pray that everyone of you will be well and joyful.

Bye for now,

JOHANN Q