SHEM, THE STORY TELLER (from my eBook "reminiscence of yesteryear and "God Tales") by J. Ben Avraham Old Shem, the son of Noah, Son of Methuselah, slowly made his way up the grassy hill which overlooked the wide expanse of the plains of Shinar. He would make this trip everyday, after all, he had a lot to tell the youths. At the top, he would make his way over to the Tamarisk trees and sit down on a large rock which rested in the cool shade of the trees. This was the ideal place for his school for the young men of the area. Some would even come from far away cities and towns, just to hear the wisdom of this old man, survivor of the great flood which wiped away humanity from the face of the earth. The hill top offered a refreshing place to sit down and hear the stories of old, a place where the cool breeze blew, contrasting the dry, hot air of the plain. At times, Shem would offer water to weary travelers as they passed by his tents, as the hot air brought on so much thirst and weariness. Shem, like his father Noah, was still strong and full of life, even after so many years after the flood. He had seen a lot in his days, the destruction of the world by water, the re population of the same, the construction of the Tower of Babel, and the continued violence and hatred of mankind. The flood waters had taught man nothing. Shem often prayed that the Holy God of all the earth would permit him to live 600 years and still have the strength his father had at that age. It was still a long ways off, he would live day by day and continue to be faithful to his calling. Shem finally reached the top of the rise, the cool breeze blew through his long gray beard which reached down to his waist. His skin was burnt brown by the hot sun, and a bit wrinkled from the years of living on this earth. He continued to work the vineyards which his father Noah had planted so many years ago, taking care not to give himself over to strong drink of the vine, which had been his father's folly. Shem made his way over to the large rock. Placing his staff next to the rock, he sat down under the shade of the trees and waited. It was still morning so the air all around was still cool from the previous night. The sun was just peaking over the eastern horizon when the youths started to arrive. They made their way to the top of the hill. Sometimes there would be just 10 or 12, other times there would be as many as 50 young men that would come to and sit at the feet of old Shem and listen to his stories. He would teach them the lessons from the past; the sin of Adam and Eve and being cast out of the Garden of Eden; the rebellion of the murderous Cain, who slew his own brother Abel. He would tell them of the righteous Enoch who loved the God of creation so much that, one day while walking, God just “took” him. He just simply disappeared, he was never seen again. Today, he would tell them of the great flood, of the building of the Ark and how God destroyed mankind from off the face of the earth, save himself and his family. He would tell the young men about the folly of Nimrod, grandson of his brother Ham, and how arrogance and pride caused him to enslave mens' souls and bodies to build a large edifice. With this tower, the foolish men worshiped the stars and had not the God of all creation divided their language, they would have continued in their foolishness. At noon, when the sun would reach its zenith, they would eat lunch consisting of small barley loaves, with goat cheese and fresh water. The the young men would be dismissed to go home and tend to their family chores, working in the fields, tending flocks, or other family businesses. The lessons that Shem taught from the events of the past drew many to his school on the hill. The word spread and many came from all over, some from so far away that he would invite them home to stay with his family until the next session of teaching. There were many today, about 40 in number. The young men had all arrived. They were sitting in the still moist grass, wet with the morning dew. Shem got off the rock and walked up to the youthful gathering. The young men all got up in honor of the aged Shem. He motioned to them with his hand to sit back down, and the teaching began. “It was in the 600th year of my father's life, when God spoke to him. He told him about the eminent destruction of mankind, because of so much evil. A vessel would be built, an ark, it would float on water, since the destruction of mankind would come as a flood of waters upon the whole earth. “This ark” Shem continued, “would save our family and representatives of the animal kingdom, it would also offer salvation to whosoever that would place trust in the God of creation, and take heed of his warning.” Shem continued to tell the young men about the ark, the dimensions, and the animals that came in two by two and by sevens. Shem walked back and forth, gesturing with his hands while speaking. Sometimes he would raise his voice, and at times it was solemn. The young men listened with awe, at times whispering between themselves. “The day came” continued Shem, “when God shut the great door of the ark. For our family of 8, salvation was sealed and assured since we were inside. For those outside, fate was also sealed, a fate of death and utter destruction.” Shem paused for a few minutes, the youths were still listening, wondering what would come next. Shem continued. “The LORD God waited 7 days after shutting the door, then the rains began. Higher and higher the waters rose, for 40 days and nights did the rains continue” cried out Shem with all enthusiasm. “The waters washed away the human chaff until man was no more upon the earth. Only the 8 of us survived, because we were inside the ark of salvation.” The young men listened with awe, no one talked, and Shem continued to tell the tale of judgement; “The LORD did not forget us, after a year riding the waters he brought us to rest on a mountain range north of here.” pointing his finger to the north. “After letting loose the animals, we moved south to this same area, however” continued Shem, “man learned nothing from the flood and continued his worship of false deities. Man continued to be arrogant, filled with self-pride.” Shem stopped for a while, paced back and forth, thinking of the next words to say, finally, continuing his speech to the young men. “Nimrod, my brother Ham's grandson, built a tower to his pride and arrogance, enslaved men, ruled over them, yet the LORD God of all creation divided them all up by giving them new languages, and thus He sent them to all directions in the earth.” The old Shem cast his eyes upward. The sun was directly overhead. He turned his eyes to the bottom of the hill to see his wife and two female servants coming up towards the group of students. Shem's wife carried a large basket of barley loaves while one of the servants carried a basket of goat's cheese, and the other carried skins of fresh water and milk. When the women got to the top of the hill, Shem called his students to over to the shade of the large tree under which he sat. The students sat down and took out their small wooden dishes and bowls which they carried in small cloth sacks. The women then served Shem and the students the barley loaves, cheese, milk, and fresh water from a near-by well. The students sat quietly and ate. Some talked quietly among themselves about the lessons learned that morning from old Shem. Others talked about the chores that would be waiting for them upon returning to their homes. When the students finished eating, they put their bowls and dishes back inside their sacks. Shem's wife and the servants waited until Shem and the young men finished their lunch. The women would also eat, but sat apart from the men. Shem went over to his wife and kissed her softly. She then spoke to the servants indicating that they were done, and together, they went back down the hill to Shem's tents. Shem's wife knew the importance of her husband's teachings, and that these young men would learn about the Almighty God of the universe. She hoped that they would understand the error of man's ways, and to seek after the ways of God, following Him in obedience. After lunch, the young men sat around for a while to ask Shem questions. Afterwards, they headed back towards their homes to resume their chores and family duties. On this day, one young man remained behind after the rest had left. He remained seated under the shade of the Tamarisk tree, being deep in thought. Shem approached the youth quietly and spoke; “I see you are thinking deeply, perhaps meditating on what I spoke of today” “Yes” replied the youth, “How I wish that the God of the universe and of all creation would talk to me personally some day.” “He just might do that” said Shem, sitting down beside the young man. “The LORD God knows the hearts of all men. He knows that you are searching to know Him in a deeper way, in a personal way. It is a good thing to know the LORD and to follow in His ways.” The youth nodded in agreement, then he looked into the eyes of Old Shem; “I thank you for telling me about God, the real and true God of the universe, the God you say created the heavens and the earth.” “What is your name and where are you from?” asked Shem inquisitively. “My name is Abram, Son of Terah, from the city of Ur.” “Ah” replied Shem, nodding his head. “So you're a Chaldean.” “Yes” said Abram sadly, “Ur is a city of idols, of false gods. I am sorry to say that making clay idols and selling them is my father's business. “That is not a good business to be in” said Shem seriously. “All those who bowed down and worshiped false gods were destroyed in the great flood.” “Yes”, replied Abram quietly, “it is just as you have taught, yet I am still a youth and must obey the voice of my father. At times, I must attend his shop while he looks for new customers.” “Yes Abram” replied Shem, “It is important to obey your parents. They raise you and care for you, even though your father does not what is right in the eyes of God. One day, however, you will be old enough to have a family of your own, to make your own decisions, to even move away from your father's house, to follow God with a true and whole heart.” the voice of Shem was kind, yet firm. Abram agreed. He would await that day, but until then, he would have to assist his father in the idol shop. “I must leave now and return to my father's shop.” said Abram sadly. He got up slowly from under the shade of the Tamarisk tree. He would have preferred to stay there and listen to more of what Old Shem had to say, whose wisdom and knowledge enlightened the mind and soul of young Abram. Old Shem gave Abram two small barley loaves and some cheese for his trip back to Ur. “Take care of yourself during your trip back home young Abram” upon saying that, Shem placed his hands on Abram's head and voiced a small prayer of protection. The two departed, and when Old Shem started back down the hill, he paused, eyes lifted up towards Heaven, slowly nodded, as if hearing a special message, a word of prophecy from above. He turned and called out to young Abram saying; “Abram, son of Terah” Abram turned and faced Old Shem. “Indeed” continued Shem, “The LORD God of the universe has heard your voice, and indeed, He will call upon you some day, to leave your father's house to go to a land which He will show you, to worship Him only, and to follow Him in his ways, and lo, He will raise up descendants from your seed, they will be like the stars of Heaven and like the dust of the earth, and in your seed, all the nations of the world will be blessed!” Young Abram just stood there, amazed at the words of Old Shem. “How do you know all this?” asked Abram with wonder. “The LORD God of all creation just revealed this to me, and it shall come to pass!” replied Shem, with voice of authority and command. “I will await His call, and I will obey” said Abram, full of hope and joy. So the two departed. Shem returned to his tents, and Abram returned to his family's house in Ur, to await the calling of the LORD.