A crucial messenger.

Last week: We met a soldier named Jethro. At the start of the week he was sitting by the destroyed Ammonite city of Rabbah. He was recalling his investigation of the death of Uriah. His recollections took him to the siege of the city, some months before. When we left him, Jethro had just discovered a connection between Uriah and Joab.

Jethro had to figure out a way to blend in while keeping an eye on Joab’s command site. He was sitting by a campfire, planning. He could see Joab’s tent.

He noticed a soldier walk determinedly to the tent entrance and stop. He called out something Jethro couldn’t hear. An officer came to the entrance, held out his hand, and took a cylinder from the soldier.

“So he’s a messenger,” Jethro thought.

He kept watching.The soldier moved his direction, limping slowly. Jethro whistled quietly. When the messenger looked, Jethro held up a cup and pointed to the fire. The messenger dropped to the ground next to him and gratefully took the cup.

Jethro looked at him sympathetically. “Long trip today?”

“From Jerusalem.”

Jethro looked again. “Today? That’s impressive.”

The man held up his feet. “That’s exhausting.” He took another long drink. Joab offered him a bowl of bean soup and chunk of bread.

“Do you do that often?” Jethro asked. He was careful to not sound too curious about the destination, only about the challenge of a forty mile journey.

The man took a bite for bread and shook his head. “Only when the news is urgent. Mostly, others go.”

Jethro knew he couldn’t ask about today’s message. And it wouldn’t do any good. He knew that reading a sealed message could be deadly.

“And you never even know what you are carrying,” he finally said. “You could be carrying battle plans from the king and you’d never know it.”

The man nodded. And ate. When Jethro was afraid he’d gone too far, the man finally spoke.

“I never know,” he said. “Except for that one time when Uriah was killed. That was a hard one. Joab told me the message. I sure didn’t want to have to tell the king about one of his mighty men.”

He took another drink. Jethro wanted one, too.