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Saturday, 29 April 2023

A thirsty land - now and then

Earlier this week, the day after Anzac Day I remembered that I have Ion Idriess’s book The Desert Column. It is an excellent read around Anzac Day, this book having the geographical setting for much of II Chronicles. Idriess (1889-1979) was among the Australian soldiers who fought at Gallipoli and later in what was then Palestine. He was a Light Horse man and had to attend to his horse before he attended to his own physical needs.

The Desert Column records much of Idriess’ World War I diary (pruned for publishing). Idriess accomplished the amazing feat of carrying with him many small books in which he recorded everything that happened each day. Surely a unique record. He says he would probably have been in trouble if the “Heads” knew he threw away his iron rations to find room in his haversack for the little diaries.

Hear the end of one chapter written at Gaza:

Just a Cossack post – I’m blest if I know why I trouble the diary about it. But the morning is beautiful. My old neddy hungrily eats his breakfast, occasionally he nuzzles me with the pathetically empty nosebag, his big brown eyes plainly asking for more. I have none to give him. A lark is singing up in the sky – and here comes the sergeant to detail me for some patrol.

I must scratch myself – the lice are dammed bad, and I should be lousing my strides like the other chaps, instead of talking to the diary.

Anyway, I got a little reminder of II Chronicles when I read of the fall of Beersheba, the wells of Beersheba. Quote:

So we are at Esani, the whole brigade split up into working parties assisting the Australian and New Zealand Field Engineers and the Camel Corps, to dig out the wells….the success of all the operations depends on water.

Later –

Water is pouring into the huge wells we have cleaned out. It was a mighty well-system in the ages when this desolation was a city. The German engineers spend great quantities of gun-cotton blowing in these wells, but we laugh hourly on seeing their work is vain.

Later again –

The morning rolled on bringing its heat, its hot rifle-bolts, its thirst; longingly we thought of the cool wells of Beersheba, and by Jove I know I experienced a choking feeling of the senses on remembering that we must take those wells.

Back to II Chronicles. I remembered that I had a long way to go if I was to read all of II Chronicles. I peeked at a Chapter 32, found verses 2-4. Hezekiah is now king.

And when he saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he purposed to fight against Jerusalem, He took counsel with his princes and high mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did help him. So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all the fountains, and the brook that ran through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water?

A comment on the site Enduring Word Bible Commentary, 2 Chron. 32 – God protects Jerusalem is of interest:

No doubt the Assyrian army suffered much through this, as a Christian army did eighteen hundred years after this. When the crusaders came, in A.D. 1099, to besiege Jerusalem, the people of the city stopped up the wells, so that the Christian army was reduced to the greatest necessities and distress. (Clark)

Let the Bible Speak TV with Kevin Presley has an interesting story about wells being dug and re-dug:

There is a very timely lesson in those words for us today. This event happened in the valley of Gerar in the land of Abimelech, the king of the Philistines. Isaac’s father, Abraham, had once been there, but years later when Isaac came to this same land, he didn’t find it in the condition that his father had left it. Abraham’s servants had once dug wells there, but the Philistines came along after Abraham died and stopped those wells, filling them with earth. Since Isaac and his cattle needed water, the Bible says that he dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham.

And, another more metaphysical offering from the same source:

Jesus later compared Himself and the salvation he brought to mankind to a well of living water. The wells, however, were polluted and obstructed by the enemies of truth. The Apostles, particularly Paul, spent a great deal of their time re-digging the wells of salvation that were clogged with the remnants of Judaism and paganism.

 Joyce Voysey

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you! So very interesting. It gives a very helpful image of wells being stopped and then cleared, and the metaphysical signification of that.

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