Warrior Prophets: Ancestress
Prologue: Passionate Sparks
500 years before the birth of Ruth…
“Get your hand off of me!” Edis shrieked at Archangel Michael.
Michael did not pay any attention to Edis. With an inhuman single-mindedness, Michael took the hands of Lot and his wife, Edis, and proceeded to walk them briskly out of the city of Sodom, under the darkly overcast sky.
Archangel Gabriel was doing the same with Lot’s youngest daughters. Madis, the older of the two, was on his right, and Atis, the younger one, on his left. Each girl was firmly in hand, unable to escape the iron grasp and unable to do anything but keep pace with the rapidly moving angel.
Lot’s two older daughters, standing beside their husbands, looked on in disbelief as the strange procession quickly moved away from the courtyard of Lot’s house.
“Where are you going?” Shutis, the oldest, called out.
“We are leaving – now!” Lot called back hastily, “Sodom will be destroyed any minute!”
“I just need to gather a few more things and I will catch up with you,” Shutis promised, while her husband giggled in incomprehension.
“No!” Lot demanded, “there is no time! Come with us right now or you will be lost!”
“Remember to bring my jeweled hairpin!” Edis offered hopefully to her daughter.
Shutis quickly ran back into the house and out of earshot.
“We are going to destroy the entire plain,” Gabriel explained in a neutral tone, keeping up the fast pace.
“Please. Please wait for the rest of my family,” Lot pleaded.
“It is too late,” Gabriel stated with a firm finality, “they are more interested in their material possessions than in their lives.”
“What are you talking about?” Edis asked angrily. “They are coming right along. And the things they are bringing are important.”
“You do not understand, woman. The sins of these cities are so great that God cannot delay destroying them any longer. And destroy them we shall. Utterly. Nothing shall remain of what you knew as Sodom. If it were not for the merit of your uncle Abraham, you too would now die in the city.”
They arrived outside the gates of the city.
Michael and Gabriel simultaneously released their captives.
Gabriel raised his hands to the sky. The dark clouds rumbled. Thunder and lightning cracked the thick air. The sky detonated as if the long-foretold end-of-the-world had arrived. The angry sky poured fiery stones and acidic rain. Lot and his family heard panic and screams from inside the city. A crescendo of shrieks forced Lot’s daughters to cover their ears. An acrid smell of burning flesh filled the air.
Michael spoke to Lot’s family with a booming voice that resonated to the heavens.
“Flee for your lives! Do not look behind you or stop anywhere in all the plain; flee to the mountain lest you be swept away.”
Michael raised his hand and a beam of light erupted from his fingertips. The light reached the side of the mountain. Rock and earth exploded, sending fragments in all directions. The mountain was shrouded by a cloud of debris. After moments, the dust settled. To their complete astonishment, Lot and his family saw the contours of a road. The road was the straightest and smoothest road they had ever seen. It led straight up the mountain – to Abraham.
Lot loved his uncle, but could never return to him again. In his uncle’s shadow he would always be lesser. The sinner. The bad one. Repugnant. Worthless. He would die before he returned to Abraham. No. He needed to escape elsewhere. Now.
Lot fell to his knees and begged. “Please, no! My Lord – see, now, your servant has found grace in your eyes, and your kindness which you did with me to save my life was great, but I cannot escape to the mountain lest the evil attach itself to me and I die. Behold, please, this city is near enough to escape,” Lot pointed further up the plain, “and it is small.” Lot’s voice started to break. “I shall flee there. Is it not small? – and I will live.”
Michael stood pensively for a moment and then replied:
“Behold, I have granted you consideration even regarding this, that I not overturn the city about which you have spoken. Hurry, flee there, for I cannot do a thing until you arrive there.”
Michael raised his hand towards the city that would be called Zoar. Light radiated from his hand and tore through the rolling fields of grass and pasture. On the uphill slope to Zoar, Michael had again created a road.
Michael then vanished into thin air, while Gabriel continued to bring down fire and brimstone on Sodom.
The heat behind them increased. Lot grabbed his daughters and yelled to Edis: “Edis, let us go. Let us save at least these two children.”
The family walked briskly but mechanically up the hill, through a thickening fog of ash. They were in shock, not understanding what was occurring.
The girls were the first to start crying. They slowed down.
Lot continued to pull them by the hand. “Madis. Atis. Let us go. We must keep on moving. And whatever you do – do not look back!”
The wails from Sodom were reaching a fevered pitch. The scent of fire and burned flesh was overwhelming. Then the screams quieted down. Finally it was silent. Ominously quiet.
Edis cried quietly, tears flowing down her soot-covered face. She slowly repeated: “My babies. My poor babies.”
She looked at Lot, walking in front of her with the two girls. Her anguish turned to confusion and then to anger.
She lunged for Lot, knocking him to the ground. She punched him on the back with her fists.
“It is all your fault!” Edis sobbed hysterically. “My babies are dead! My jewels gone! Why did you have to invite those beings in? You are always trying to be better than everyone else. Superior! You and your morality! You are a filthy, lustful leech just like everyone else! But look at what you have done! Look at what you have done!!”
Madis and Atis quickly grabbed their mother from either side and gently lifted her off of Lot. Lot got back on his feet and looked at Edis tenderly.
“I am sorry, Edis, but it is not my fault. The Sodomites were so immoral that it was inevitable that they would be punished. I did what I could, but it was not enough. The chiefs of Sodom sneered and threatened me when I raised even a hint of kindness.” Lot bowed his head. “I am sorry for our children. They too would not listen. We tried.”
“Sorry?! Tried?!” Edis asked, mad with grief. “You sniveling excuse of a man. I will go back and find them.”
“Edis.” Lot said very firmly, clasping her arm. “We cannot go back. We cannot even look back or we will surely die.”
Instinctively, Madis and Atis positioned themselves behind their mother to prevent her from going backwards, and to block her view if she turned.
Edis abruptly ripped her arm out of Lot’s grip. “How dare you tell me what to do? My wealth is destroyed. My babies may be dead back home, or they might be following us right now, and you are too cowardly to save them – to even turn around and check? I will go myself if I have to.”
“Mother! No!” Madis grabbed her mother from behind. “Did you not hear the angel? Everyone is dead. I can feel the heat getting closer. If we do not continue, if we even look back, we will die!”
“How can I go on?” Edis was sobbing uncontrollably. “My babies are dead. My husband is no husband. Where will we go? What about my house, my jewelry, and my friends? I must return.”
Edis started to slip out of Madis’ embrace. Atis saw the movement and she tried to grab her mother and block her view. But Edis was quicker. She turned around, now embraced on either side by her daughters, and took a full frontal look at the destruction of Sodom.
She could not believe her eyes. The lush fields. The strong walls. The rich houses. The colorful courtyards. They were completely destroyed. The entire plain was blackened and distorted. Thick black smoke covered the entire sky. The only color in the world was the red of angry flames, consuming the dead remains of a once proud civilization.
Then she understood. She understood that Sodom was completely evil. In Sodom, kindness had been considered a sin and charity a capital offense. There was no humanity left in Sodom. She understood that she was an active participant and she knew that she too deserved to die.
Salty tears poured freely down her face, pooling around her feet.
The tingling started in her toes. They became numb. The feeling spread quickly up her legs. Edis gasped in shock and looked down at her legs. Madis and Atis jumped back and stared in disbelief at what seemed like salt replacing their mother’s skin. Edis could taste the salt in her mouth as the metamorphosis worked its way up her torso. Edis’ feeling of horror was mirrored on the faces of her daughters.
“MOTHER!!” they cried in unison, grabbing her again, as if by embracing her they could stop the process.
Edis had time for only three words before the transformation was complete.
“I am sorry,” she whispered with her last tears.
And then she was a pillar of salt.
“Edis!!” Lot cried, clutching her hand of salt. The hand crumbled, salt escaping through his fingers.
“She is gone,” Lot concluded, crying openly. “Madis, Atis, let us go. Let us save ourselves at least.”
Lot grabbed his daughters in each hand and continued up the angel-constructed road. They felt the heat of destruction fast approaching them from behind. A wall of fire was spreading outward from Sodom and threatened to engulf them. The sky in front of them was gray from ash. It seemed as if the world had disappeared.
By the side of the road, Lot noticed a shepherd’s trail through the still-green shrubs. At the end of the trail he spotted the entrance to a cave. He paused, peered through the heavy fog down the road and turned on to the trail.
“We can not make it to Zoar,” Lot gasped for air. “Quickly, let us turn in here.”
Lot led his daughters down the path and ran into the cavern as the wall of fire crashed over the cave entrance and continued on. The once-green shrubbery burst into flames, exuding poisonous fumes, and quickly turned to black ash. The girls saw the blackened landscape, smelled the strong sulfurous odor and covered their mouths.
They retreated deeper into the cavern. Lot found a torch, took it to the outside of the cave and lit it from nearby burning embers. He walked back into the cave and lit the remains of a previous bonfire. The flames quickly took hold and revealed a long, deep cavern. He was surprised to discover dozens of barrels of wine.
“This must be where Bechalus stores his wine,” Lot noted. “Well, he will not need it any longer. They are all dead. Dead.”
Lot then fell to his knees and cried: “Edis. Oh, Edis.”
Lot sobbed into his hands, absorbed by his grief.
Madis took the younger Atis aside and whispered to her urgently:
“The world has been destroyed!”
“I know!” Atis replied. “We are the only survivors. What can we do?”
“It cannot end here. There must be a continuation,” the older sister said.
“What do you mean?”
“We must bear children from Father,” Madis stated.
“That’s an abomination!” Atis trembled.
“We have no choice. If we do not do this thing, the world ends with us.”
“Father will never agree.”
“The drink will persuade him. God has spared us and He’s furnished us with enough wine to rob Father of his wits.”
“Oh, that one man from Sodom would have survived,” Atis moaned.
“No, it is better they did not. They were evil and cruel. Father was the only ray of kindness and generosity left. It is better to bear a child from Father than from one of those miscreants.”
“I’m afraid,” Atis admitted.
“I know. Tonight will be my night.”
Madis approached the row of wine barrels. She removed the cover from the barrel and ladled a cupful of dark red wine.
“Father.” Madis approached Lot, held him softly and then offered him the cup. “Drink this. It will ease your pain.”
Lot stopped his crying and looked at Madis strangely.
“Edis?” Lot asked in confusion. “Oh, Madis. It is you. You look so much like your mother. Thank you.” Lot took the proffered wine and drank a little. Enjoying the taste, he drank some more until he finished the cup.
“Would you like some more?” Madis asked.
“No. I shouldn’t. You know how the drink gets to my head.”
“It is alright, Father. A little more will help sooth you.”
Atis filled another cup for Lot. Madis handed it to him and watched as Lot drained the cup.
“Bechalus certainly has good wine.” Lot hiccupped.
Atis and Madis kept the wine flowing until Lot could barely keep his head upright.
“Come, Father,” Madis said. “Why don’t you lie down and rest. I see some skins in the back of the cavern that should be comfortable.”
“Yes, Edis,” Lot mumbled. “I will close my eyes for a few moments.”
Lot lay on the skins on the cavern floor and knew not when Madis joined him.
Nine months later, Madis was having birth contractions. They were in the town of Zoar. After a number of days in the cavern, the gray ash had settled and the blue sky had reappeared. The blackened landscape stretched for miles throughout the plain, but the town of Zoar had been spared. To the surprise of Madis and Atis, the rest of the world still existed. Yet they did not regret their act of desperation.
“We are the daughters of Lot, whom God saved,” Madis had said to Atis. “We are descendents of Terach, father of Abraham, the man of God. We acted to continue humanity – we have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Atis, herself heavily pregnant, stood next to Madis in the birthing room, holding her hand.
“Push,” the midwife encouraged Madis.
Madis groaned as labor pains assaulted her. Suddenly, her eyes misted over and she stared into nothingness.
“Atis!” Madis called. “I am having visions!”
“Visions of what?” Atis asked.
“Of generations to come.”
“What do you see?”
“I see the descendants of Abraham, so numerous, in the desert. Centuries from now, they will call themselves Israel and they shall be enemies of our descendents.”
“Cease talking and push, child, or you will have no descendents,” the midwife urged.
Madis grunted and was silent as another wave of pain forced her to push.
“There is more,” Madis gasped, able to speak again. “I see a king and a sorcerer contriving to destroy Israel. And then there is one that will be an Emperor, ruling the lands all around, including Israel!”
“Silence! Push!” the midwife yelled. “If you don’t stop your jabbering, your delusions will kill this baby. I can see the head!”
Madis screamed as the head came out.
“A redhead!” the midwife announced. “You’re almost done.”
Madis, sweat-drenched, closed her eyes as she saw further visions.
After two more screaming contractions, the baby was completely out. It cried lustily. The midwife cleaned the baby, swaddled it and handed it to Madis.
“It is a boy,” the midwife said. “What will you call him?”
“His name shall be Moab,” Madis stated, clutching the baby. “For he is from my Father, and I would have all know that he is from Lot and not from some Sodomite.”
“He is beautiful,” Atis said as she looked at baby Moab. “Did you have any other visions?” she asked.
“Yes. I saw the daughter of the Emperor. She is the main reason for Moab being born. She will bring a spark from Terach back to the line of Abraham. She will return what they are lacking and establish the greatest monarchy of all time.”
“That is incredible!” Atis exclaimed. “Do you know her name?”
“Yes. Her name is Ruth.”
* * * * * *
Genesis Chapter 19
Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer 25
“Lot’s wife was named Edis.”
Targum Yonatan, Bereshit 19:26
“She was a local of Sodom.”
Bereshit Rabbah 50:9
“He had four daughters: two were engaged and two were married.”
Bereshit Rabbah 50:10
“The angels hastened Lot” (Genesis 19:15). An angel flattened the road in front of them to accelerate Lot’s escape.”
Bereshit Rabbah 51:5
“She visited the neighbors with the pretense of needing salt and said, “We ourselves are not lacking salt; boarders are staying with us.” In this way the people of Sodom learned about the angels. Therefore, she was transformed into salt.”
Bava Metzia 86b
“The angel Gabriel departed to destroy Sodom, and Michael to rescue Lot.”
Yalkut Shimoni, Vayeira 84
“I cannot flee to the mountain.” (Genesis 19:19) While I lived in Sodom, the Holy One, Blessed be He, noted my conduct and the conduct of those in my town, and I was honorable in comparison. If I go forthwith to Abraham, whose great actions are far more abundant than mine, I will not be able to stand up to his burning coal [i.e., I will be judged as corrupt in comparison and will be castigated]”
Midrash Hagadol, Bereshit 19:26
“The wife of Lot, Edis, was overcome with concern for her married daughters in Sodom, and she peered back to see if they were pursuing her.