The Art (Supplies) of War


Bronze Age swords

Bronze Age swords

I’m a Navy brat, but I’ll readily admit I have no idea how to wage a war. Between writing this book and the next, I’ve learned an awful lot about late Bronze age weaponry and warfare.

There are two dates proposed for the Exodus, and therefore for Joshua’s conquest of Canaan. I have chosen the “late date” theory, which puts all my books at the very end of the Bronze Age into the beginning of the Iron Age. (The other option would put them a couple hundred years earlier, still in the late Bronze Age.)

Bronze Age Axe head

Bronze Age Axe head

Weapons of this age include those for hand-to-hand combat: swords, clubs, battle axes and daggers. Weapons for throwing included the sling and the bow and arrow. Swords and arrows were used the most. The Israelites were poorly armed compared to their Canaanite enemies. They had no armor, …

The Ultimate Kindness – It’s Not What you Think


The Burial of Christ Carl H. Bloch (1834-1890)

The Burial of Christ Carl H. Bloch (1834-1890)

Like little children, we often dislike rules. But God’s rules show us how much God values us, and His relationship with us. The many laws and regulations in the Old Testament were meant to teach the Israelites the same thing.


All the clean/unclean and holy/unholy rules were designed to illustrate that a person could not even touch something that was impure, and then approach God in His Tabernacle. God is holy, righteous, and just. One cannot simply sin at will—or even by mistake—and then worship Him. The Laws of purity were to instill a sense of holy living in His people. Most of the rules involving unclean foods and touching unclean objects required only a washing of the body, and you were unclean only until sundown.

God is the author of Life and Death. Coming into contact with death, then, …

What in the World is A Wazir?

Danel photoIf you read By the Waters of Kadesh, you remember Danel. He’s back, although about thirty-eight years older. So is the young soldier Aqhat.

After their earlier escapades, Aqhat and Danel are now fast friends—and secret worshippers of Yahweh.

Aqhat has grown to be commander of Arad’s army, and Danel is the wazir of Arad. Wazir is a reconstructed Northwest Semitic word meaning vizier. Semitic was much like Hebrew, so we only have the vowels: w-z-r.  (The Arabic word vizier has provided the vowels to give us wazir.) That Semitic root may mean to carry (a burden) or to help.

Aqhat photoScholars disagree on whether Tel (Old) Arad is the Arad of Numbers 21, but they disagree on pretty much everything. It depends on the timing of the Exodus among other things. I will say that there is a destroyed city of Arad, and a new …

The Best of the Best

Scholars disagree whether or not the Israelites had flocks in the wilderness; most say they didn’t. We know they brought their flocks with them when they left Egypt. But they were expecting a very short trip, possibly as short as eleven days. They then camped for eleven months at Mt Sinai. My research says this was a well-watered place, but even if it was, their time in the wilderness surely wasn’t.

shepherd on hillIn their thirty-eight years of waiting to enter Canaan, most of their flocks probably died from the rigorousness of the travel, the heat, the lack of sufficient food, or dehydration. A good number may have been slaughtered since we also know the Israelites complained about having no meat to eat.

They may have kept some for milk, or kept a few take with them to the Promised Land. But I believe it is doubtful that there were many true …

What Makes a Shepherd’s Heart?

Zadok photoMeet Zadok. He is the hero of The Walls of Arad, the third book in the “Journey to Canaan” series. Zadok is a shepherd—specifically, he is the shepherd of the Tabernacle flock. He has a gentle heart, one that Miriam decides is perfect for our heroine, Arisha. (You’ll meet her later.)

Ancient shepherds have a complicated history. In Abraham’s day, they were held in high esteem. Abraham and Lot were wealthy men, as were Isaac and Esau. The occupation was by necessity a nomadic one, especially with extremely large flocks. Once a man owned such a flock, however, he himself rarely spent much time with them. Young boys and even girls were hired to keep an eye on the sheep.

In Egypt, shepherds were looked down on. Egypt was an agrarian society, and the people were clean-shaven. They didn’t like and didn’t trust the long-haired, bearded nomads, which is …

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

Carnations. photo by Pagemoral

Carnations. photo by Pagemoral

RomanF-01F is for flowers. I like flowers. I don’t know much about them, can’t identify too many of them. Roses. Carnations. Sunflowers. That’s about it. But they make me happy. Sometimes I add the $4 bouquet of carnations to my cart the grocery store when I’m buying food. They last forever and they make my kitchen a brighter place.

I think John started it. He used to bring them home. Sometimes for me, on the expected days, sometimes for no reason at all. Maybe that’s why they make me happy.

Composite image of the Moon as taken by the Galileo spacecraft on 7 December 1992.

Composite image of the Moon taken by the Galileo spacecraft on 7 December 1992.

F is also for a full moon. Just because they’re beautiful.

I put …

Steve’s Home: Great Barrington

Greylock in December (photo: Ericshawwhite)

Greylock in December (photo: Ericshawwhite)

Mercy Lacewell’s latest contact is Steve LeClerc. His brother’s trucking business is headquartered in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, ranked #1 in Smithsonian magazine‘s 2012 list of “The 20 Best Small Towns in America”.

Railroad Street GB (photo: Anc516)

Railroad Street GB (photo: Anc516)

Great Barrington is part of The BerkshiresThe Berkshires actually run through Massachusetts and Connecticutt, but the term is used by locals in reference only to the portion of the mountain range that lies within Massachusetts. The Conecticutt portion is referred to as the Northwest Hills. The Berkshires were named among the 200 Last Great Places by The Nature Conservancy.

Numerous trails, including part of the Appalachian Trail run through the the Berkshires. The tallest waterfall in Massachusetts is located in the nearby Taconic mountain range. A number of summer camps date back to the early 1900s.

Tanglewood OzawaHall July 2009 (photo: Titus.jon)

Tanglewood Seiji Ozawa Hall July

“Relatively Inferior in Every Aspect”

I’ve been researching my next book, spending a lot of time on ancient warfare. I now know more about siege towers, casemate walls, and revetments than I should ever have need for. I even know where the word undermining comes from, and it has nothing to do with psychology.

I’ve also been looking at tells in present-day Israel—hills created by many generations of people living and rebuilding on the same spot. When people keep rebuilding on the same spot over the ruins of the previous city or town, eventually a mound is created. Archaeologists excavate these sites very carefully, and they can tell by the strata who lived how, and for how long, and when.

One of the most famous and most thoroughly excavated sites in Israel is Tell Beit Mirsim, which was excavated from 1926–32 by W.F. Albright. He identified ten different layers, representing ten specific times of …

It’s All Joshua’s Fault

Joshua's Parting Advice (Public Domain)

Joshua’s Parting Advice (Public Domain)

I’ve been plotting out a possible book, looking at characters and times and events, and trying to make everything fit together. A couple things weren’t quite working, and I realized, it’s all because of Joshua.

The scriptures never really say how old Joshua is when he goes into the Promised Land as a spy. Caleb is 40, so most people assume Joshua is as well. Many of the sites and books I looked at as I researched flat out state “Joshua was 40 years old when he spied out Canaan,” but the Bible never says that.

But here’s the problem: Numbers says he was Moses’s aide since youth, and I just don’t see a 40-year-old man being a youth. I know they lived longer then, but still.

When working on a Biblical fiction novel, you have to start with the absolute facts in the …

“Sweeter than Honey to My Mouth!”

Date palm with fruit

Date palm with fruit

When I was young, we used to drive from my home in San Diego to visit my grandparents in Blythe, California on the Colorado River, on the border of California and Arizona. On the way we usually stopped in Indio at a date farm and purchased some of the glossy brown, sweet fruit. I remember wandering through the rows of huge trees, towering into the sky.

Most of the time, memories from childhood are distorted, but in this case I’m quite sure they aren’t. Date palm trees are really extraordinarily tall.

Group of twelve palm trees lined across the horizon in the Colorado Desert, northeast of Palm Springs near Indio, ca.1904

Group of twelve palm trees lined across the horizon in the Colorado Desert, northeast of Palm Springs near Indio, ca.1904

Over a century ago date palms were transplanted from the Middle East to Indio. Dates were very popular in Europe at the time, but not in America, since they couldn’t be brought here without rotting. …