Posted by: John-Paul | November 16, 2017

Khopesh: Sickle-Sword of Egypt and Canaan

The armies of ancient Egypt and Canaan used a highly curved, bronze sword that evolved from the farmer’s sickle. With the outside of the curve sharpened, the khopesh was used for slashing more than stabbing. It did have a broad tip in line with the handle for stabbing. This point also had a hook for pulling away an enemy’s shield or weapon, exposing him to a slashing or crushing blow. (Jeroen Zuiderwijk started a discussion  thread on the website. It is the origin of this picture.)

According to the Sword History website, Canaanites brought the khopesh to Egyptians who developed it into a deadly military weapon. Other short swords came along later, especially Hittite swords shaped like narrow leaves and forged from iron.

Because of this Canaanite origin, in my Joshua and Caleb novel I refer only to the khopesh when I mention a sword. In fact, I have Caleb hooking an enemy’s leg, pushing him headfirst into a wall, and slicing off his sword hand.

Posted by: John-Paul | August 31, 2017


Last week, my rambunctious six-year-old grandson had a birthday. While contemplating what he might like for a present, I thought about a toy sling. Stores sell toy guns and bows and arrows. Why not a Middle Eastern weapon such as the sling?

In ancient times in the Middle East and Greece, shepherds used slings and stones to protect their flocks from predators. They were effective enough to become weapons of war. The future king David is famous for taking on the lumbering giant Goliath with a sling…not a slingshot!

In my novel, Joshua and Caleb: Journey to the Promised Land, the Israelites ask their Egyptian masters for gold and silver, clothing and the tools of various trades. At the same time, I have Joshua ask his master, the general, for weapons of war: kopeks and shields, spears and lances, bows and arrows, and slings and lead slugs. (He even stuffs a sling and pouch of slugs into his girdle.) Joshua knows the Israelites will march out of Egypt in military formation and into Canaan to take over as Yahweh promised.

During the battle against the Amalekites, Joshua orders the slingers and archers into ranks behind the infantry in order to launch volleys of slugs and arrows against the charging camel riders. He also teaches their young guide around Hebron how to use the weapon to bring down small animals for food.

The sling was an important weapon of warfare and hunting for the Israelites. I have made it an important feature of my Pendant novels.


Posted by: John-Paul | April 14, 2017




The supply convoy snaked through a small canyon toward the river it needed to cross.  Large boulders and rocky outcroppings studded the steep walls of the defile. No bushes greened its slopes. Beyond the river, the road ran without obstacles for the convoy’s destination – a village ravaged by warfare.

The forward truck edged around a final curve in the road a hundred yards inside the mouth of the canyon. In the passenger seat, Captain Bonnie Miller, commanding officer of Brava Company of the Interfaith Battalion of Nurses of God, frowned at the two men sitting on a large log dropped across the opening. She looked up her side of the defile at rifles bristling from behind the large rocks. Oh, no, she thought. Not again!

She grabbed up the radio microphone and spoke evenly. “OK, people. We’ve got a bandit roadblock here. Let’s everyone be cool. Execute Plan D. And send Lieutenant Hasanov forward.”

The forty-four-year-old female doctor regretted the need to bring the Azerbaijani officer sent by the host country’s army. His masculine arrogance irritated her.

She had returned his salute when he reported for duty as their guide and translator while she looked him over, from the blue beret covering his short, black hair, past his khaki uniform to the spit shine on his parade boots.  The toothy smile on his shaved face had her compressing her mouth into a line. Then she’d invited him to sit and they had talked about the mission to the battle-torn mountain village.

“That is bandit country,” Hasanov had exclaimed, wide-eyed. “Who will protect you women?”

Miller had eyed him coolly. “We are Fighting Ezers. We protect ourselves.”

She saw the lack of comprehension in his dark eyes. “Lieutenant, you understand that ‘ezer’ is the Hebrew word for ‘helper’, right?”

When Hasanov nodded, Miller had continued. “The word is used first in Jewish scriptures for Eve who was a helper sufficient for Adam. Thereafter, the word is used about God Almighty. He is said to be Israel’s helper and shield. He fights for them.

“So, we women – and a few men – are doctors, nurses, paramedics…and soldiers. As part of the IBNG, we help people by bringing relief supplies and medical care to victims of war, disease, and pestilence.

“We’re also a paramilitary organization, trained for combat so we needn’t rely on soldiers of the countries we help. We can fight to protect our supplies and helpless people against the predations of bandits and warring factions.”

The next day, Lieutenant Emily Coulton had accused the Azerbaijani of insulting her.  “He had the gall to say I should have been a belly dancer!” Fists clenched on her wide hips, the lieutenant’s muscles filled most of the stout, young blonde’s blue uniform. Her broad face tightened in a scowl.

Miller had run her hands through her ear-length, graying-brown hair and asked, “What did you say to that?”

Emily had bent to draw the stiletto from her boot sheath. “I asked if he wanted to dance with a woman who wielded a knife.”

Bonnie had chuckled. “You tell him about your Ranger training?”

The lieutenant had frowned. “No. Didn’t think of it. I said I’m a nurse with better skills than for prancing around, being ogled by lecherous men.”

Back in the canyon, Bonnie replaced the mike and lowered her middle-aged figure out of the dusty deuce-and-a-half, her hands out from the sides of her blue utility uniform and away from her service pistol. The Azerbaijani lieutenant strode forward as the two men on the log stood and came over, rifles at the ready.

The officer moved his arms out also and spoke sternly to the bandits in their language.  The larger man wore a dusty, blue jacket of quality material that covered most of his dirty, white shirt.  Sturdy pants fell to dusty boots.  His short, dark hair didn’t seem to have been washed in some time though his moustache was neatly trimmed.  He sneered at Hasanov’s uniform and spoke past the cigarette that dangled from the corner of his mouth.

The officer’s face darkened as he translated. “He say, ‘Who speak for you women?’”

Miller said, “Tell him this is a supply convoy, traveling under the protection of the United Nations.” Citing the UN, she knew, sometimes got them better results than their little-known relief aid battalion.

As she listened, the captain cast a quick look back along the convoy. The last two trucks had stopped beyond the curve in the road. The bandit spoke again just as Lieutenant Coulton walked up to join them.

Hasanov translated, “Your trucks and supplies now taken in name of people of this area.  All drivers and soldiers must stand away from trucks while his men inspect contents.”

He turned more toward Miller. “Captain, do not trust him. He is thief and murderer.”

The bandit pushed between them, speaking forcefully.

Bonnie glared at the officer. “Just tell him these supplies are needed by the village a few miles ahead where a recent battle devastated the place. His men may ride with us, if he wishes, to insure the supplies arrive safely.”

As Hasanov translated, the bandit scowled then dashed his cigarette to the ground.  Angry words accompanied gestures that included emphatic pointing at Lieutenant Coulton. The Azerbaijani officer translated simultaneously.

“I am Ali Achmed, warlord this region! I will say who may do what and who will do as I say! All you will stand away from trucks so my men may drive them away! In addition, yellow hair… er…woman will come with me!” Hasanov gestured at the ponytail that hung from under Coulton’s field cap.

The stout, young woman stepped back but Ali Achmed strode forward, seized her arm, and pulled her against him. Emily turned her face away from the man’s stench. Both bandits aimed their rifles at the other two.

Miller’s hand lowered to her sidearm but Emily flung back a hand. “Captain, no!”

The bandits cocked their weapons. Bonnie froze then moved her arms slowly out again. The look she gave the men would have dropped them had it really been lethal.

She said, “Courage, Lieutenant. Wait for your chance.”

Miller climbed into the cab of the truck and lifted the microphone. “OK, everybody, out of the trucks. We’re to let these bandits paw through our things and take what they want.”

The captain got down again and watched with arms crossed as drivers and other personnel in the visible trucks climbed out and clustered to one side. She turned back to the others.

Ali Achmed held Coulton with her back against his chest, one arm under her breasts.  He spoke and Hasanov translated.  “You wise, Captain.”

She replied, “You give me little choice. Something like this happened a few years ago. One of my nurses was taken then as well. We found her ravaged body three days later.  I swore I’d never let that happen again.”

Miller looked at Emily and motioned Hasanov to stop translating. “Sergeant?”

“Not yet, Bonnie.”

Hasanov spoke forcefully to Achmed who sneered as he replied. Miller rounded on the Azerbaijani.

“Lieutenant, please don’t interfere. Sergeant Osgar is almost ready.”

Hasanov threw his arms up in frustration.

The captain turned back toward the bandits and saw the raised thumb on Emily’s fist.  She stepped forward, used her left hand to push away the other bandit’s rifle, and slammed the meaty base of her right palm against his jaw. His head snapped back and she plunged her left fist into his gut. He doubled over and she met his falling forehead with her knee.

When Miller looked up from checking the unconscious man, she saw Ali Achmed on the ground with Emily on his back, her fist in his hair and her stiletto at his throat.  Pistol fire cracked from both sides of the defile and scattered rifle shots replied. Soon the rifles were still and a feminine voice on the right called, “Clear!” An answering “Clear!” rang from the left and several uniformed women and men rose from behind the rocks, pistols at the ready. Dark-skinned hands bristled instead of rifles.

Miller smiled and called out, “Very good, people! Disable and throw their weapons down here. Watch your backs getting back to your trucks.”

Then she turned to the lieutenant and her captive. Emily’s hand on his forehead kept his head pulled back but did not stop his ranting. Bonnie told Hasanov to translate.

He said, “You not like what he say.”

She nodded. “Then I’ll do the talking.”

Squatting sideways before the bandit, she said, “If you promise to behave, I’ll have the lieutenant let you up.”

Achmed glared and spoke in a surly tone.

Hasanov translated, “Better you kill me.”

Emily blinked. “You really want me to?” She tightened her grip on the dagger, which pressed it harder against his windpipe.  “It’s just that I don’t want to send you to Hell.”

“I am disgraced before my men…by a woman.”

“Have it your way.” Emily moved her hand to tilt his head down. She repositioned the tip of the stiletto against the back of his neck where a quick thrust would slice his brain stem.

The bandit leader threw out his hands, yelling.

Hasanov said, “Wait! I promise!”

Still holding the knife against Achmed’s neck, Emily moved slowly off his back.  Once he felt the blade go away, the bandit sat up and faced the squatting captain.

He narrowed his eyes at her. “Who are you women?” He ignored the officer who translated above them.

Miller sat on the ground, her legs sideways to avoid spreading her knees. She glanced up as tall, slender Sergeant Neena Osgar stood beside her, holstering a smoking pistol. Bonnie said, “We are doctors, nurses, and paramedics of the Interfaith Battalion of Nurses of God, also known as the Fighting Ezers.”

Osgar grunted, “Hoo-ah!” She adjusted the cap over her shoulder-length dark hair.

The officer said, “I am Captain Bonnie Miller. Behind you is Second Lieutenant Emily Coulton. That is First Sergeant Neena Osgar.  This man translating is First Lieutenant Hasanov of your country’s army. As a member of my team, he is due the same respect you would give me.”

She jerked a thumb at the trucks behind her. “As I said, these supplies are for the next village. Do you and your men protect those people?”

Achmed nodded. “We do.  We also bring them what supplies we can after the army destroyed it.”

Hasanov spoke sharply to the bandit until Miller put up a hand to stop him. She said, “Lieutenant, I think we’ve proven to you…and him…our ability to protect ourselves and our mission. It’s time to move on.”

The bandit grinned and spoke again. “We now help you take these supplies to my village.”

Miller shook her head. “No.  We would have made it without your ambush. Now we will do it without your help. God has said, ‘You must not steal,’ and ‘You must not commit adultery.’ I presume you’re married.”

The bandit glanced at the translator then nodded.

The captain said. “I would spare you the temptation to try either one again.” She paused and grinned. “You may move the log for us, though.”


Posted by: John-Paul | April 14, 2017

Introduction to Fighting Ezers

I have long valued the idea of woman being able and willing to fight to protect themselves and their loved ones. Some of my heroes are such fictional characters as Ayla (The Valley of Horses), Mercy Thompson (Moon Called), and Claire Beauchamp Randall/Fraser (Outlander). Yes, I enjoy fantasy fiction.

With Fighting Ezers, I try to show such heroism in the face of arrogant, male attitudes and exploitation.

I have, for several years, been working, off again-on again, on the novelization of how Moses led the people of Israel out of bondage in Egypt and sent Joshua and Caleb – among others – into Canaan to spy out the land. I have recorded how Yahweh led the people into the Wilderness of Shur, how they complained about the hard conditions, and how they rebelled when commanded to invade Canaan.

Throughout the novel, I wish to say things about having faith in God to obey beyond living a moral life, to not complain about hard or unwanted circumstances, and to pursue one’s purpose.

This is the most important wilderness journey of the Bible, referred to twice in later books. Centuries later, the psalmist makes an example of their complaining and fearful rebellion when he writes,

Today, if only you would hear his voice,

“Do not harden your hearts 

as you did at Meribah,

as you did that day

at Massah in the wilderness,

where your ancestors tested me;

they tried me, though they had seen what I did.

For forty years I was angry with that generation;

I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
    and they have not known my ways.’

So I declared on oath in my anger,

‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

(Psalm 95:7-11)

The writer of Hebrews, more centuries later, makes a big deal of this psalm to encourage his readers to enter the eternal rest of faith in Messiah. (Hebrews 3:7-19)

I wish to offer Joshua and Caleb: Journey to the Promised Land to my readers by way of this blog. The first few chapters are free while continued reading will require a small trade of value.

Readers’ comments about any aspect of the story are welcome. Comments that lead to major improvements will gain recognition for those who offer them.

Posted by: John-Paul | April 4, 2016

The Wait!

Ugh! This waiting is so frustrating!

All the plans are made for Karen and me to be married: the wedding and reception, the wedding night and, later in the month, the honeymoon in Arizona, moving her stuff into my house on June 18 while she stays elsewhere until July 10. But no making it happen for three more months!

I can understand why couples simply live together.

Steps have been taken. The church and motel have been secured. Flowers and rings have been ordered. Plane tickets have been paid for. And the Prayer Room has been repainted and is waiting for shelves and furniture. (Books are on those bookshelves.)

June 18 we will move the rest of Karen’s things into the house and assemble her (our) bed. We’ll be moving kitchen stuff out of cupboards and drawers to place them back according to a different plan. I’m getting rid of my old couch…to be replaced with my love seat and her side-by-side recliners…in front of the fireplace and large TV screen. So many changes are anticipated for married life.

I can also understand Joshua and Caleb’s impatience to get to the land promised by Yahweh. While most of the Israelites wanted to go back to Egypt, these heroes and many others yearned for the completion of the wilderness experience, the fights to drive out the Canaanites, and the start of their lives in the Promised Land. Only then could they begin the real work of sowing, husbanding, and harvesting… creating the wealth Yahweh had promised them.

It is the same with all of us who believe in the next coming of Jesus. He will set up His reign and we will continue to reign with him…but more fully. But that day is not yet and we must wait…and endure…and overcome.

Good news

“Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.” (2 Peter 3: 8-9, The Message)

Discussion questions

Are you waiting, impatiently perhaps, for some major event in your life? Do you have work to do before that event can take place? Are you actively pursuing what God wants to do through that event, by prayer and taking the steps He requires of you?

© 2016. John Paul DeWalt


Posted by: John-Paul | January 12, 2016

To Be or Not To Be? That Is Quite the Question

Non-violent resistance

I have been pondering the question whether, as believers and children of the Father, we should arm ourselves against the evil in our society or trust Him to protect us and ours. Should we take up weapons against home invaders bent on rape and murder, against agents of an evil government bent on our destruction? Or should we, at most, passively resist their desires to steal, kill, and destroy?

Joel McDurmon of American Vision says we have the Constitutional right to bear arms and the duty before God to use them against evil in our society. He uses Old Testament scriptures and Revolutionary era preaching to support his position. Up to a point, I believe he is right.

However, John Piper uses New Testament scriptures to support his position that believers should trust in the Father, not resist one who is evil, pray for and forgive our enemies, and thus testify to their coming destruction and our obtaining glory in the Kingdom. He is supported by Ted Dekker in A.D. 33 , Jonathon Cahn in The Harbinger , and Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship .

Ted Dekker tells the story of Maviah, a woman of northern Arabia, who is healed by Yeshua and taught to walk in His Kingdom life and love. When her young son is taken to face a lion in the arena, Maviah must decide whether to fight to save him or trust the Father and love the evil ones as Yeshua did on the Cross.

Jonathon Cahn wrote that God maintains a hedge of protection around His people and allows it to open (and bring destruction and death) for His own purposes. These usually involve judgment against the rebellion among His people. The Bible also teaches that we testify against this evil world when we are “…struck down but not destroyed…”.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that believers must so live as Jesus lives that the people that persecute us are exposed as evil and worthy of God’s destruction. The believer’s “…life in the world must be of such a quality as to bear witness to the world’s lost condition and to the new creation which has taken place in the Church. Let the Christian suffer…for being a member of the Body of Christ.” (p. 235)

Given all this, I have decided to come down on the side of non-violent resistance. Speak God’s Truth about evil and its coming destruction, offer God’s mercy toward repentance and grace for obedience, and not fight the evil the Father would allow the world to bring against me and mine.

Posted by: John-Paul | November 24, 2015

The Problem of Accepting Syrian Refugees

Everlasting God by Chris Tomlin

I have been seeing on FaceBook a lot of opposition to the idea of the US taking in refugees from Syria. I even questioned why we should, given America’s rejection of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. I have since realized why we should.


American Perceptions and Objections

Muslims are adherents to an anti-Christian religion. They seek to forcibly convert all to Islam. Also, they seek to remove Western culture and put in their Sharia culture.

Radical adherents to Islam use terror to achieve their goals. This is the nature of terrorists. They have not restraint about harming themselves and others. In fact, they use harmless women and children, hospitals, and such as shields and covers. Like trojan malware, they seek to infiltrate and destroy. We need to keep them all out for reasons of national security.

It doesn’t help that the President is promoting America as a haven for these refugees. My automatic response is that if he wants it, it’s undoubtedly bad for US. I find I need to question this knee-jerk reaction.

Liberals encourage sanctuary but for wrong reasons. They cite the ancestry of Steve Jobs, a thoroughly Americanized descendent of Syrians. The liberals say we need to distinguish between “good” Muslims and the radical terrorists. They don’t acknowledge Islam’s harmful standards of behaviors.

Instead, I believe we Americans need to hold out welcoming arms for reasons of faith in and obedience to God.

Showing Faith through Obedience

“Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” (Ps 127:1b)

The plane crashes on September 11, 2001, were not a failure of the government to protect US from terrorist attacks. They were a harbinger of things to come, a warning to America to return to God. (See The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah)

Yes, Syrian terrorists, infiltrated among so many refugees, could do damage in the US and spread fear. It is as Jesus said about certain Galileans. “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)

How do we show our repentence? How do we exercise obedience? Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-45)

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis said,

  • We don’t have to like our enemies or their behaviors.
  • We don’t have to trust our enemies.
  • We don’t have to refrain from punishing their criminal activities.
  • We do have to do good to them as we would do good to ourselves.

As the verses above show, God makes no distinction in this life.

However, the King does make distinctions on Judgment Day. Jesus identifies Himself with those who are poor and needy. “As much as you did it to the least of these…” (Matthew 25:31-46)

Good news

King Jesus is able to protect those who obey His commands in faith. Those who endure dangers, damage, or death are either under His judgment for disobedience or are called to suffer for the sake of His kingdom. (Romans 8:28-29)

Discussion questions

Do you trust God enough to allow Syrian refugees into your city, your neighborhood, your home?

Could you give room and board to even potential terrorists without fear?

How can you now support those who would help these people in need?

© 2015.  John-Paul DeWalt  JPD Emblem


Posted by: John-Paul | October 21, 2015

Project Josh and Cabe: Interested in Helping?

My friend and editor, Dana Day, has been encouraging (pushing?) me to keep writing on my Joshua and Caleb novel. Her latest nudge was about the author of The Martian, which was become a blockbuster movie. Andy Weir wrote the story in on-line chapters and made changes based on readers’ comments.

Would my followers and Facebook friends be interested in reading my novel, Joshua & Caleb: Spies in the Desert, in on-line scenes and making comments? If I receive enough positive comments, I will copy the scenes to this blog and provide links on Facebook and Twitter for ease of finding them.

My goal is not to create another major motion picture but to generate enough interest for people to buy copies of the story…and to learn from my message.

Posted by: John-Paul | October 14, 2015

I’M GOOD! Oh, really?

I’m Good

I shook my head vigorously to clear away confusion. Wha’ happen’?

I looked around. Through the cracked front windshield I saw the front of my car pressed against the trunk of a large tree, the hood crumpled. Daylight showed between the door beside me and the car body.

I raised a shaky hand to my forehead and felt a bump. The soreness wasn’t too painful. I passed a hand over other parts of my body and felt no other bruises.

Urgent knocking on the door window drew my attention to a frantic-looking man. “Are you OK? Do you need me to call an ambulance?”

I shook my head more slowly and unhooked my seatbelt. “No, thanks. I’m good.”


It’s interesting how “I’m good” has come to mean “I’m unhurt”, “I’m satisfied with the situation”, “Things are copasetic”. This has changed from the time when being good meant having good character, doing good behavior. Jesus himself said no one was good except God alone. (Mark 10:17-18)

Certainly, only God is good in Himself. And He did make all of Creation and call it “good”. He did create Humanity and call them “very good”. (Genesis 1:31)

However, rebellion against His will corrupted all of Creation and none of it is good without His redeeming it. This is especially true of Humanity. We are really good at rebelling against God and corrupting the good things He has given us.

As a result, life in this world is hard. The book of Lamentations details how hard things got for Jerusalem when the Babylonians put it under seige and they refused to surrender to God’s judgment.

Yet, in the middle of the book are some of my favorite words from God. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:19-23) //

Listen to what John Piper said about Life Is Hard. God Is Good.

No, people are not good, despite all the hype about someone being a “good man” or a “godly woman”. We deserve only the agony and death of the Cross. (More on that later.) God alone is good but He has redeemed us out of our rebellion, our bondage to evil and death. And He has turned around the lives of so many people and shown through them His goodness.

Discussion questions

Are you good? Do you really believe that is good enough for God?

(Coming soon: The only thing we all deserve is the Cross.)

© 2015.

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