Now these are the heads of the mighty men whom David had, who gave him strong support in his kingdom, together with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel.—1 Chronicles 11:10 (NASB)
The walk from Hebron across the Negev took hours. The sun was hot on their shoulders when they finally arrived at Ekron. They took position on a hill, just out of sight.
Indeed, the Philistine army was gathering out front. They were setting up tents and sharpening weapons. Soldiers gathered around fires and tore into meals.
The Three squatted down to examine them.
Isbaal scratched at the scruff on his chin. He was usually clean-shaven. He wasn’t used the the extra hair.
Eleaza picked up a handful of dirt and let it run through his fingers. He made casual note of the air direction. It always paid to know which way it was moving. You never knew when you would need to throw a blade.
He looked over to Isbaal. Eleaza was at least two decades his senior, but he was in charge. That was fine. He grew tired of taking the lead. Let some other guy make the mistakes. I’m only here as a favor, anyway. “What’s the play?”
Isbaal continued to keep his eyes fixed on the enemy army. “First, we get you closer without being seen. Where do we need to be?”
Eleaza slipping a hand in his pocket and fingered a smooth metal bullet. “That depends. What are my targets and what is my weapon?”
Isbaal grinned without looking back. “Dealer’s choice. Take out one or two with head shots and then fire a few shots wild. No particular target. We just want them to think there’s several of us hiding out here in the bush.” He glanced over at them, “It’s a distraction, really.”
He looked back. “We’ll wait until sunset. Lower light will help the confusion.”
Shammah put on a frown. “I don’t get to play?”
Isbaal chuckled, “You’ll get your turn when we’re inside the city, my young friend.”
“How exactly are we going to do that?” he asked.
Isbaal ignored the question. “We got a couple hours to kill. Let’s break out the grub. I’m starving.”
With a satisfied smile, Isbaal patted his stomach. It made solid sounds, like a ripe fruit.
“That hits the spot. Manna from heaven.”
Shammah rolled his eyes. “You think any food is manna from heaven.”
“If I don’t have to kill it or cook it, it’s a gift from God.”
Eleaza glanced at the setting sun. “We should get going.”
Isbaal took a long breath, closing his eyes for a moment. He snapped them open. “OK. Let’s do this thing. Everybody on their bellies like a snake. We crawl the rest of the way. Eleaza, tell us when we’re close enough.”
They all got down into a military crawl. They started over and down the hill. Elbow by elbow. Knee by knee.
After a mile, Eleaza made eye contact with them with a nod. They held back as Eleaza continued forward. Behind a tree, he stood up.
He licked his hand and felt the wind direction again. Fishing in his belt, he grabbed two metal slugs. This needed to be a quick fire. The first impact would cause enough confusion for him to fire the second bullet before taking cover again.
He nestled one bullet in the sling and kept the other in his palm. He rested his head against the tree. He closed his eyes and pictured the camp in his mind. He fixed two targets in the picture. He took a steadying breath.
Eleaza was a burst of motion. The sling whipped in two circles. He pivoted from behind his cover, found his target, and let the bullet fly. Without waiting to see the impact, he loaded the second shot. He spun the weapon and shot it again.
He ducked back behind the tree, not watching the bullets find their targets. He could feel it in his swing. He knew if he would hit his mark. Both throws had been clean.
Now for the big show.
He could hear angry and confused shouts from the army.
“What’s going on?”
“Is it the Israelites?”
He didn’t have much time. He had to keep the pressure on. He needed to fan the fire of confusion.
He took a small handful of slugs from his pouch without counting. He loaded all of them into the sling, swung it, and emerged from hiding once more.
He swung wide with this attack, letting metal slugs fly indiscriminately into the Philistine camp. He wasn’t trying to use stealth. They were supposed to see him this time.
“There’s one of them!”
“We’re under attack!”
Back under cover, Eleaza dropped to all fours and crawled back to his two friends.
He was meters away as the tree began to be pummeled by spears and sling bullets.
Isbaal nodded at him with a serious face. Shammah gave him a smile and a thumbs up motion.
Isbaal looked in their eyes and then motioned with two fingers.
The Three began crawling away from the army, toward the side of the city.