Review: If on a winters night a traveler

Since you are about to begin reading a rather unique review on Italo Calvino’s If on a winters night a traveler, I will begin with this disclaimer: I am not a fan of the postmodernist movement. In fact, I particularly dislike most of what came of this time, including works from art and music. However, there are a tiny handful of pieces that I find intriguing, not only for the way they were created, but also because of how they make a person think. Such is true for Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night and traveler. So read this with the mind of one who wishes to share a book initially mistrusted, first read, and immediately enjoyed.

This is a book that should be read in one sitting. The version I read was translated from the original Italian into English by William Weaver. The book is a meager 260 pages and, though I did not read it one sitting, it should be read without interruption. The introduction to the novel should be self-explanatory in that regard, but you would have to read the book to understand. The instructions are clear. I wish I had read this in one sitting, but instead I waited nearly a year before getting to the ending. I was first introduced to the book in my final literature class at university, a class which dealt with the arts of 20th and 21st centuries. But in this class, instead of the full book, I was handed only a few sheets of poorly printed paper. I had chapters one and two titled “1” and “If on a winters night a traveler“.

Indeed, when I first received these papers, I thought it was a short story and not a novel. I had never heard of Italo Calvino nor his work.  I was skeptical after dealing with the art of this period to read a novel of the same time, fearing that literature had also been corrupted. Some way, but I was not disappointed with the chapters of this book and read them with fervor. The introduction describes, at least in my opinion, the avid reader, displacing the reader in such a way that one cannot tell where the reader ends and the reader begins. That is to say, where you end and the Calvino’s reader begins. Calvino has a way to get into the readers’ head that is truly remarkable. There is a reality and intangibility to his writing that, to risk sounding cliché, is without duplicate. I would like to compare him to Henry James and his The Turn of the Screw, though the novels are entirely un-alike, yet the mystery and capturing of the mind of the present and unending state in time is truly unique in these writers.

I read the first chapter and settled myself in for the second, which ended with such a cliff hanger that I knew there must be more to the story. There was. It took me almost a year to get my hands on the book, but I found the rest of the story. Yet the story did not continue as I would have expected, leaving me wondering why a story would be unfinished only to continue with the same of the first chapter and continue with another in the fourth. Indeed, as the Reader goes to find his ending of the original story, you, the reader, are drug along with him asking the same questions, following the same trails, being pulled into the same world as the ones between the pages. You will ask yourself, “What is the end?”

In fact, the best way I can describe this book is not my own analogy, but another’s. Think of this book like “book-inception”. It is not exactly as though you get further and further into the same story that has another story within it, like One Thousand and One Nights, but there are always more stories that somehow, in some way, are connected to the last. It is almost as if the authors of the stories took the same elements, yet came up with completely different stories. These elements might be names, places, or times, yet the story will be different. Think of a panoramic picture that shows a complete 360* view, but each snippet you have is different, save a small portion that included part of the previous snippet. That perhaps best describes If on a winters night a traveler.

Italo Calvino’s novel nearly connects all the world’s literature into a novel of novels, yet does so in an interesting and engaging manner that keeps the reader guessing and wanting more. While the ending may seem as much a mystery as its beginning, it is wholly entertaining and well worth the read.

The writing is also interesting. The general plot follows itself well, and it will stick with you long after you have read it. Some portions may be of more interest to certain readers than others, yet all of them fit the same premise. The chapters and linguistic style, however, are altogether nontraditional. The chapters are not near the same length nor the sentences a typical sentence. This is not to say there are some short and some long. There are both. There are also sentences that continue ad nauseam and perhaps are not even a true sentence. When you read, you may question whether a thought was original, inspired, or altogether given by Calvino’s novel. You will wonder where the ‘you’ ends and the ‘I’ begins. I dare you to underline those words in two separate colors while you read. Yet this is what make the novel unique, intriguing, and akin to the way a creative and investigative mind thinks. The novel is written like the mind of a reader. While this can be irritating at times to a grammarian, which I am not saying I am but I do know them, it is fitting for the style and purpose of this novel. I can say it has aided and expanded my own short stories in a small way.

I would  like to say this is a novel everyone should read, but there is a small part of me that thinks only those who love literature and what authors, books, and times have to share with people will appreciate the novel, so I will not say that everyone should read this. This is besides which that young readers probably should avoid this book until a later date. But this novel, I think, was written to an audience beyond its own period of time. Not that it is timeless, but it is reachable by those beyond a particular set of dates.

This might be a novel for those who love short stories. This might be a story for those who love mystery and intrigue. Romantics and cynics alike might enjoy its stories. It could be one for postmodernists, intellectuals, and impressionists. Perhaps this is a novel for lovers of travel, world history, and the everyday events that make up our lives. This work is for those wishing to add to their own. This might be for all lovers of literature who want to expand their writing skills, reading skills, or simply rethink how to think like a reader.

This novel might be for everyone and I think it is accessible to everyone, but perhaps only a small few will get past the first chapter. But then again, I did not think this was a novel for me, and it was. And I, as an author, researcher, and reader am glad that I found myself in it.

Blessings to you and yours,



Part 2: Allhallowmas: Saints, Feasts, and Holidays

Below is the poem that the better-known spelling of halloween came from.

By Robert Burns. 1759 – 1796

Upon that night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans dance,
Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the route is ta’en,
Beneath the moon’s pale beams;
There, up the cove, to stray and rove,
Among the rocks and streams
To sport that night.

Among the bonny winding banks,
Where Doon rins, wimplin’ clear,
Where Bruce ance ruled the martial ranks,
And shook his Carrick spear,
Some merry, friendly, country-folks,
Together did convene,
To burn their nits, and pou their stocks,
And haud their Halloween
Fu’ blithe that night.

The lasses feat, and cleanly neat,
Mair braw than when they’re fine;
Their faces blithe, fu’ sweetly kythe,
Hearts leal, and warm, and kin’;
The lads sae trig, wi’ wooer-babs,
Weel knotted on their garten,
Some unco blate, and some wi’ gabs,
Gar lasses’ hearts gang startin’
Whiles fast at night.

Then, first and foremost, through the kail,
Their stocks maun a’ be sought ance;
They steek their een, and graip and wale,
For muckle anes and straught anes.
Poor hav’rel Will fell aff the drift,
And wander’d through the bow-kail,
And pou’t, for want o’ better shift,
A runt was like a sow-tail,
Sae bow’t that night.

Then, staught or crooked, yird or nane,
They roar and cry a’ throu’ther;
The very wee things, todlin’, rin,
Wi’ stocks out owre their shouther;
And gif the custoc’s sweet or sour.
Wi’ joctelegs they taste them;
Syne cozily, aboon the door,
Wi cannie care, they’ve placed them
To lie that night.

The lasses staw frae ‘mang them a’
To pou their stalks of corn:
But Rab slips out, and jinks about,
Behint the muckle thorn:
He grippet Nelly hard and fast;
Loud skirl’d a’ the lasses;
But her tap-pickle maist was lost,
When kitlin’ in the fause-house
Wi’ him that night.

The auld guidwife’s well-hoordit nits,
Are round and round divided,
And monie lads’ and lasses’ fates
Are there that night decided:
Some kindle coothie, side by side,
And burn thegither trimly;
Some start awa, wi’ saucy pride,
And jump out-owre the chimlie
Fu’ high that night.

Jean slips in twa wi’ tentie ee;
Wha ‘twas she wadna tell;
But this is Jock, and this is me,
She says in to hersel:
He bleezed owre her, and she owre him,
As they wad never mair part;
Till, fuff! he started up the lum,
And Jean had e’en a sair heart
To see’t that night.

Poor Willie, wi’ his bow-kail runt,
Was brunt wi’ primsie Mallie;
And Mallie, nae doubt, took the drunt,
To be compared to Willie;
Mall’s nit lap out wi’ pridefu’ fling,
And her ain fit it brunt it;
While Willie lap, and swore by jing,
‘Twas just the way he wanted
To be that night.

Nell had the fause-house in her min’,
She pits hersel and Rob in;
In loving bleeze they sweetly join,
Till white in ase they’re sobbin’;
Nell’s heart was dancin’ at the view,
She whisper’d Rob to leuk for’t:
Rob, stowlins, prie’d her bonny mou’,
Fu’ cozie in the neuk for’t,
Unseen that night.

But Merran sat behint their backs,
Her thoughts on Andrew Bell;
She lea’es them gashin’ at their cracks,
And slips out by hersel:
She through the yard the nearest taks,
And to the kiln goes then,
And darklins graipit for the bauks,
And in the blue-clue throws then,
Right fear’t that night.

And aye she win’t, and aye she swat,
I wat she made nae jaukin’,
Till something held within the pat,
Guid Lord! but she was quakin’!
But whether ‘was the deil himsel,
Or whether ‘twas a bauk-en’,
Or whether it was Andrew Bell,
She didna wait on talkin’
To spier that night.

Wee Jennie to her grannie says,
“Will ye go wi’ me, grannie?
I’ll eat the apple at the glass
I gat frae Uncle Johnnie:”
She fuff’t her pipe wi’ sic a lunt,
In wrath she was sae vap’rin’,
She notice’t na, an aizle brunt
Her braw new worset apron
Out through that night.

“Ye little skelpie-limmer’s face!
I daur you try sic sportin’,
As seek the foul thief ony place,
For him to spae your fortune.
Nae doubt but ye may get a sight!
Great cause ye hae to fear it;
For mony a ane has gotten a fright,
And lived and died deleeret
On sic a night.

“Ae hairst afore the Sherramoor, —
I mind’t as weel’s yestreen,
I was a gilpey then, I’m sure
I wasna past fifteen;
The simmer had been cauld and wat,
And stuff was unco green;
And aye a rantin’ kirn we gat,
And just on Halloween
It fell that night.

“Our stibble-rig was Rab M’Graen,
A clever sturdy fallow:
His son gat Eppie Sim wi’ wean,
That lived in Achmacalla:
He gat hemp-seed, I mind it weel,
And he made unco light o’t;
But mony a day was by himsel,
He was sae sairly frighted
That very night.”

Then up gat fechtin’ Jamie Fleck,
And he swore by his conscience,
That he could saw hemp-seed a peck;
For it was a’ but nonsense.
The auld guidman raught down the pock,
And out a hanfu’ gied him;
Syne bade him slip frae ‘mang the folk,
Some time when nae ane see’d him,
And try’t that night.

He marches through amang the stacks,
Though he was something sturtin;
The graip he for a harrow taks.
And haurls it at his curpin;
And every now and then he says,
“Hemp-seed, I saw thee,
And her that is to be my lass,
Come after me, and draw thee
As fast this night.”

He whistled up Lord Lennox’ march
To keep his courage cheery;
Although his hair began to arch,
He was say fley’d and eerie:
Till presently he hears a squeak,
And then a grane and gruntle;
He by his shouther gae a keek,
And tumbled wi’ a wintle
Out-owre that night.

He roar’d a horrid murder-shout,
In dreadfu’ desperation!
And young and auld came runnin’ out
To hear the sad narration;
He swore ‘twas hilchin Jean M’Craw,
Or crouchie Merran Humphie,
Till, stop! she trotted through them
And wha was it but grumphie
Asteer that night!

Meg fain wad to the barn hae gaen,
To win three wechts o’ naething;
But for to meet the deil her lane,
She pat but little faith in:
She gies the herd a pickle nits,
And two red-cheekit apples,
To watch, while for the barn she sets,
In hopes to see Tam Kipples
That very nicht.

She turns the key wi cannie thraw,
And owre the threshold ventures;
But first on Sawnie gies a ca’
Syne bauldly in she enters:
A ratton rattled up the wa’,
And she cried, Lord, preserve her!
And ran through midden-hole and a’,
And pray’d wi’ zeal and fervour,
Fu’ fast that night;

They hoy’t out Will wi’ sair advice;
They hecht him some fine braw ane;
It chanced the stack he faddom’d thrice
Was timmer-propt for thrawin’;
He taks a swirlie, auld moss-oak,
For some black grousome carlin;
And loot a winze, and drew a stroke,
Till skin in blypes cam haurlin’
Aff’s nieves that night.

A wanton widow Leezie was,
As canty as a kittlin;
But, och! that night amang the shaws,
She got a fearfu’ settlin’!
She through the whins, and by the cairn,
And owre the hill gaed scrievin,
Whare three lairds’ lands met at a burn
To dip her left sark-sleeve in,
Was bent that night.

Whyles owre a linn the burnie plays,
As through the glen it wimpl’t;
Whyles round a rocky scaur it strays;
Whyles in a wiel it dimpl’t;
Whyles glitter’d to the nightly rays,
Wi’ bickering, dancing dazzle;
Whyles cookit underneath the braes,
Below the spreading hazel,
Unseen that night.

Among the brackens, on the brae,
Between her and the moon,
The deil, or else an outler quey,
Gat up and gae a croon:
Poor Leezie’s heart maist lap the hool!
Near lav’rock-height she jumpit;
but mist a fit, and in the pool
Out-owre the lugs she plumpit,
Wi’ a plunge that night.

In order, on the clean hearth-stane,
The luggies three are ranged,
And every time great care is ta’en’,
To see them duly changed:
Auld Uncle John, wha wedlock joys
Sin’ Mar’s year did desire,
Because he gat the toom dish thrice,
He heaved them on the fire
In wrath that night.

Wi’ merry sangs, and friendly cracks,
I wat they didna weary;
And unco tales, and funny jokes,
Their sports were cheap and cheery;
Till butter’d so’ns, wi’ fragrant lunt,
Set a’ their gabs a-steerin’;
Syne, wi’ a social glass o’ strunt,
They parted aff careerin’
Fu’ blythe that night.


Blessings to you and yours,


Works Referenced

“Allhallowmas.” Accessed 1 Nov. 2017.

“eve, n. 2.” The Online Etymology Dictionary. Accessed 1 Nov. 2017.

“even, n. 1, 2, 3.” The Online Etymology Dictionary. Accessed 1 Nov. 2017.

“hallow, n. 1.” The Online Etymology Dictionary. Accessed 1 Nov. 2017.

“Halloween.” The Online Etymology Dictionary. Accessed 1 Nov. 2017.

“Hallowmas.” Accessed 1 Nov. 2017.

“Hallows.” The Online Etymology Dictionary. Accessed 1 Nov. 2017.

Hutton, Ronald. Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britian. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2001. Accessed 1 Nov. 2017.

“Mass, n. 2.” The Online Etymology Dictionary. Accessed 1 Nov. 2017.

Saunders, William. “The origins of All Saints and All Souls Day.” The Arlington Catholic Herald19 Sept. 2016. Accessed 1 Nov. 2017.

Wikipedia contributors. “All Souls Day.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 1 Nov. 2017. Web. 1 Nov. 2017.

Wikipedia contributors. “Allhallowtide.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 1 Nov. 2017. Web. 1 Nov. 2017.

Wikipedia contributors. “Festival of the Dead.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 31 Oct. 2017. Web. 1 Nov. 2017.

Wikipedia contributors. “Jour des morts (Mexique).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 30 Oct. 2017. Web. 1 Nov. 2017.

Wikipedia contributors. “Lemuria (festival).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 30 Nov. 2017. Web. 1 Nov. 2017.

Wikipedia contributors. “Samhain.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 1 Nov. 2017. Web. 1 Nov. 2017.

Wikipedia contributors. “Thursday of the Dead.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 16 Sept. 2017. Web. 1 Nov. 2017.


Part 1: Allhallowmas: Saints, Feasts, and Holidays

With Halloween now behind us, on this All Saints’ Day I thought it good to give a history and etymology of this vastly celebrated day.

So where does Halloween come from? The answer to that is found in the day that comes after the celebrated day: All Saints’ Day. This day was originally named ealra halgena maesse in Old English, a name which was shortened to alhalwmesse in Middle English; these both mean “the mass of all saints”. It was then changed later to Allhallowmas and was further shortened between 1375-1425 to Hallowmas, or the Feast of Allhallows, then to Hallow-day in the 1590’s, which is All Saints’ Day.

Now there is an entire season called Hallowtide. We just discussed the second day, but there is also a first and third day in a season of religious observance called a Triduum. Actually, there was for a time eight days of Hallowtide were observed, but now only a few select groups still observe all eight days. Most only recognize the three. Hollowtide comes from Allhallowtide, a word first used in the last 1400’s. It comes from the Old English halig, the OE for “saint”, and tide, which meant “time”. Lastly, when it is called Hallowmas, the mas comes from Mass, which is the service that the Eucharist is served. This word comes from Vulgar Latin messa, meaning “dimissal”. Messa is derived from the Latin missa which is a form of mittere, “to let go, to send”. At the end of a Latin Mass, the words “Ite, missa est” or “Go, it (the prayer) is sent” are said.

Allhallowmas, then, is the second day of Hallowtide. The first day is Allhallow-even. This day is known better as Halloween, a name which comes from the Scottish pronunciation of Allhallow-evenwhich is the last night of October. It has been called Allhallow-even or Hallow e’en since the 1780’s when Robert Burns wrote his poem “Halloween”. Hallow or Hallows comes from Old English haligra, which was a holy person or saint. While the word is no longer used, its forms can be seen in Halloween and hallowed. Now even comes from the same word, the Old English aefen,  but had various meanings. The first is as an adjective, “level, equal, harmonious” etc. The second is as a verb, “to make even, level; liken”. The last is as a noun and that is how it is used in Halloween. Eve was the word to designate the “evening” or the time “between sunset and darkness”. It also gained the meaning of a “day before a saint’s day or festival” during the late 1200’s. And this is how it is used in Allhallow-even. Halloween was a shortening of even, though words like evening kept the same spelling. Thus, Halloween is the Eve of Feast of All Saints’.

The last day of the Triduum is All Souls’ Day. This day, in Roman Catholicism and its various off-branches, celebrate this day by praying for their dead who are in purgatory. Souls’ day is for all the believers who have died in Christ. For most Protestants, this day is a continuation of All Saints’ day as most Protestants believe in the sainthood of all believers. The difference between the two – Lutherans and Catholics – is that Lutherans visit the graves but do not pray to or for the dead whereas Catholics do, a practice that comes from the idea of Purgatory and praying to the Saints.

As a side note, the word holiday actually has religious origins as well. The word was first known in Old English as haligdaeg, which then became haliday in Middle English before finally being written as holiday in the 1500’s. It literally meant “holy day” and was originally used in reference to the Sabbath, then towards a religious festival or feast, and also as a “day of exemption from labor and recreation”, though the word encompasses a must broader meaning today. 

But why do these days fall on the days from the eve of October 31 to the eve of November 2? There are various theories. Some claim that this is because of the “days of the dead” which are celebrated in various cultures often occur at or near the end of October. Yet not all of these celebrations fall on these few days. Even now, in Christian denominations, the remembrance for the dead is not necessarily done on these days, such as with Totensonntag, which is the Sunday before Advent, practiced by Lutherans in Europe. There is also the Thursday of the Dead celebrated by Christians and Muslims in the Middle East around the time of Easter. The French have their jour des morts and one of the more famous celebrations in Mexico is El dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. But festivals for the dead are and have been held by many cultures all through the years, from the Egyptians to the Japanese; from India to Rome; from the Pacific Islands, the people of the Americas, to the Celts of Europe and so many more. And for the most part, they revolve around this season with or without the Christian religious influence.

Regarding Christians, we have celebrated or remembered the deaths of the martyrs and other Christians who have since passed possibly since the time of John the Baptist or the stoning of Stephen. After all, there is an entire book called Foxes Book of Martyrs in order to remember some of them. While the veneration of saints is widely practiced among Catholics, Protestants general consider it near to the heresy of idolatry. This is not to say that dead in Christ are not remembered or even celebrated for their faith, but they are not venerated or prayed to or for. Yet perhaps the first time a day or place was begun as that which should commemorate the saints was during the time of Pope Boniface IV who rededicated the Pantheon to Mary and the Martyrs. This is considered by some to be the start of All Saints’ Day, in May of 609 AD. This is right around the time of the fear of Lemuria in Roman religion where they exorcised evil spirits from homes.

November 1, however, was decided when Pope Gregory III in the mid-700’s dedicated a day for Saints and relics. He did this in opposition to iconoclasm and became the day in Rome. Following him, the November 1 became the semi-official date to celebrate the Feast of all Saints. Bede records it in the 8th century in England, others in Austria in the 9th century. It was not actually until Pope Gregory IV and king Louis the Pious, when promoted the feast of All Saints’ in the 9th century, that November 1 became the official date for the All Saints’ day feast. Then in the following century, Odilo of Cluny further popularized the celebration November 1.

Before this, though, the churches in Ireland “celebrated the feast of All Saints” on April 20. This puts a strain on the theory that All Saints’ day was chosen on the morrow of Samhain in Celtic culture. Samhain marks the end of summer in the Celtic calendar, which goes from the eve of October 31 to the eve of November 1 in the Gregorian calendar. In fact, the word meant “summer’s end” and was possible the name of a Celtic god. Like with other festivals that occur in Autumn, Samhain marked the “beginning” of the darker half of the year and ended when the lighter half, around spring and summer, began. It is because of the pagan celebration that is conjectured to have occurred on this date that Halloween has its even connotations, even to this day, for many dress up as spirits and otherwise in a calling back to this event.

Still, the designation of November 1 as All Saints’ Days was established in a different country likely without any pagan influence. After all, there were saints days from April, May, December, and other months of the year all across the globe before, during, and after it was established in Celtic culture and the Christian liturgical year.

Of course, most Protestants do not always refer to the Eve of the Saints’ Feast as Halloween but rather as Reformation day. For on the 31st of October, Martin Luther, for whom Lutheranism is named, nailed his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenburg Church for a call to debate the Roman Catholic Church on a number of grievances, which included indulgences and prayers to saints. Thus, we celebrate this day as a day when Luther attempted to reform the Church. This day has been celebrate seemingly since shortly after the event happened, though the larger celebrations occurred long after Luther’s time. Indeed, this year mark the 500th anniversary of the event, an event which has been celebrate numerous times by Lutherans all over the world this year.

Sadly, this led to a breakaway rather than an actual reformation, or restoration, of the Church. Yet this is the history of these days and celebrations along with their various etymologies. Most celebrations, wether for good reasons or otherwise, revolve around remember those who have passed. And while some may have evil or wrong motives for remembering the dead, perhaps we should do more to remember those who have gone before us that we may learn from what they did wrong and right and strive to further walk “in His steps” as He has called us to do.

Blessings to you and yours this day and always,



There is a second part that will follow containing the poem by Robert Burns and the works referenced for this post. I know Church history, but not all of it by heart!


Draft Day!

I know; it is a corney joke. That day has actually already come and gone, but it’s true: I’m done with the draft! yes indeed, the draft of my book is complete. Well, rough draft. And there is an intro and conclusion I need to write, but I cannot do that until I get past the rough draft stage. One of the best pieces of advice I received in college was that you can’t write the introduction until the conclusion has been written, and you can’t write the conclusion until the middle is done. But to get to the point, I’m done!

Now the last chapter went by rather swiftly. This was accomplished due to two reasons: one was that the information was relatively easy to find, the other was that there was little to find. While Aram, his people, and his territory is easily identifiable, his sons were less so. The two older, Uz and Gether, could be found to the around the area of Damascus. Josephs records that Uz founded two cities: Damascus and Trachonitis. So while Uz himself is not named specifically, the city he founded remained as a center of Aram’s kingdom. Gether became more than a tribe and, in fact, became the small kingdom of Geshur, and his people called Geshurites. They encountered the Israelites on many occasions, most notably during the time of David. He married Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, the king of Geshur whose father was Ammihud. When Absolam fled from his father, he went to his maternal grandfather’s kingdom. While this kingdom eventually became part of the greater territory of Aram, the cities or archaeological sites can be found to this day.

But all of that can be discussed, or read in said book, later. For now, I am taking a short break. This won’t last forever, but taking a short break is nice. For one, I finally finished If on a winter’s night a traveler. I’m hoping to write a little something about it, so perhaps keep an eye out for that.

Anyway, those are all the updates that I have right now. I’m looking forward to getting into the editing process and assessing what I have written. But first, a bit of a break. Thanks to those who read this far. If nothing else, this is keeping me committed to writing consistently.

Blessings to you and yours,


Arphaxad and Aram

Within the past month, I have finally finished my chapter on Arphaxad and his descendants. I never anticipated how long this would take, but that had in large part to do with my lack of knowledge on who or how many those descendants were! There were truly a great number of them. While the Scriptures focus mainly on the line of Shem to Abraham and so forth, there are so many other people who descended from the line of Shem, and namely Arphaxad, who are mentioned in the Scriptures. Some are discussed to a greater extent than others, but they are included nonetheless.

Though all the sons of Shem are those who populated what is now known as the Middle East, it was mostly Arphaxad’s line that dominated. There are the people who mixed in Assyria and Aram who descended from Terah, including Haran and Nahor. Of course, their more famous brother, Abraham, gave rise to many more nations than the two generally discussed. From The Israelites and, partially, the Samaritans arose from Isaac. From Ishmael, the many nations of Arabs, as they were sometimes called, grew to a great power. They were known by many names and many people who lived long after those names were lost seem to have been related to them. These are such as the Ishmaelites, the Hagrites, and even some such as the Nabateans have been conjecture to be related. As discussed before, the Midianites and their brothers also came from Abraham. These were the nations that lived from the western parts of Mesopotamia down through Canaan and even to the southern western parts of the Arabian Peninsula.

Many doubt the presence of Israel and the house of David as having existed when and where they did. Yet the Israelites, those called Iudea, or Omri-land, or Samaria, or the House of David are mentioned all throughout archaeology. They were known by the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Moabites, the Arameans, and the Greeks and Romans. Their presence and place in history was made clear in the Scriptures, but it was also made known again by the artifacts.

Additionally, the people of Lot, who was nephew of Abraham, gave rise to two great nations, one of which left behind a name that remains today in Jordan: Amman. Though Jacob’s line is the better known of Isaac’s two sons, Edom also gave rise to a great nation that often dwelled alongside the Midianites and the Ishmaelites. Their land stretched from the south-east part of Israel, to the Sinai peninsula, down to the southern reaches of Arabia. In fact, they were so close that they often intermarried. Additionally, one of the sons of Edom gave rise to nations known by names other than Edom, such as the Amalekites and Temanites, known elsewhere in Scripture either for good or evil. These people were known then and they are known now by what and whom they have left in each of the regions they settled in.

And after finishing with Arphaxad, I continued with Aram, and it is he whom I have been working on for the last week and a half. His people were in many ways quite simple as compared to some of the rest. Like Israel, they were and still are a well-known nation, though under slightly different names, purposes, and governance now than they were originally. In fact, like Israel, much about who governed them is known because of what is found in the Scriptures. Aram became what is today known as Syria. While this land shares part of its history with Assyria, Babylon, Phoenicia, and some other countries, its people, name, and much of its language can be traced back to this son of Shem. Their leaders are named as far back as the time of the Judges, and their last days are a “superpower”, if you will, are recorded in Kings portions of Scripture as well as in Assyrian annals. Though they were conquered and scattered, their people and language remained, even overcoming the language utilized by Assyria and becoming the lingua franca on a near equal-standing with Greek.

Though many of these names and nations may seem insignificant to the people’s dwelling in these lands now, they are the lands and the people who exist in those lands today. Though many have been scattered, many remained in their homelands and continued on into the present, becoming the people that we know in that land to this day. Many of the Jordanians are descended from Lot. Those in Israel are, and most famously perhaps, descended from Jacob. Those in Syria share their roots with a multitude of people, but still hail to their roots in Asshur, Aram, or another brother or tribe. The people of the Middle East share a history in war, location, and culture. They have interacted with each other, intermarried, and dwelled together for centuries. And as they were brothers then, they are still so now. Each of these nations from Arphaxad and each place they settled in are essentially unchanged unto today.

Just as I hope for the rest of the world, perhaps one day these brothers may see themselves as such and live in peace with other another.

Blessings to you and yours,




The People of Lot

While the story surrounding Lot and his wife is among the lesser of the well-known accounts in Scripture, the story of the people who came from him is almost overlooked entirely. When people talk about Lot, in my experience at least, they talk only about two things: he was Abraham’s nephew and his wife turned into a pillar of salt. Sometimes they talk about how he separated from Abraham, as that is how he and his family eventually ended up in Sodom. But few talk about the circumstances surrounding his daughters and their sons. Though having children by their father was not right, God still provided for them after the Exodus and during the conquest of Canaan, telling the Israelites that He had given the sons of Lot an inheritance in the land (Deut. 2:9, 19, & 37, Jdg. 11:15). But what is specifically fascinating about Moab and Ben-Ammiy is in their names.

Moab will come first as his was the older of the sons. His name is מוֹאָב comes from the Hebrew word אָב which means father and sometimes as a forefather (Strong’s “4124.”, “1.”). Thus, Moab or מוֹאָב means “from the father” or “of the father”. In other languages, however, while the basic form of the name remains the same, some of the meaning is lost. In Assyrian records, Moab’s name is rendered as both “Ma’abaya” and “mat Mua’aba-a-a“. In Egypt, the name is “mwib“. The Mesha Stele renders the name Moab similarly to Hebrew, Canaanite, and Egyptian, appearing something like “mab”. Thus, in many languages and lands, Moab’s name survived essentially untouched.

Ben-Ammiy, or Ammon, also survived the test of time, not only in apparent spelling but also in meaning. While most call the land of Ben-Ammiy Ammon, the proper rendering of his name is Ben-Ammiy. The name Ben-Ammiy is בֶּן־עַמִּי in Hebrew, coming from בֵּן or “ben” meaning son and עַם or “am” meaning nation, people, or tribe (Strong’s “1151.”, “1121.”, “5971.”). Thus, Ben-Ammiy literally means “son of my people”. In Ammonite territory, an osctraca was found with “bn ‘m[n]“, which translate to “the people of Ammon”. In Ugaritic inscriptions, the name for Ammon was either “‘my” or “bn’myn“, similar to Ben-Ammiy and meaning essentially the same as the Hebrew. The Assyrian name for Ben-Ammiy is even more akin to the original name than even what they gave to Moab, calling the Ammonites “matBit-Am-man-na-a-a” a name translated as either Beth or Bit-Ammon. This much more similar to the original name. Finally, Ammon currently remains in the name of the capital of Jordan: Amman. In the past, the name of this city has been Philadelphia, Rabbah, and Rabbath Ammon. When Rabbath Ammon is literally translated, it means “the capital of Ammon’s sons”. In truth, this is how the beth, bit, bath, or ben is translated in most cases – as son.

Even to this day the sons of Ben-Ammiy and Moab are found in this region of Jordan. Although many other people have moved and left this area, including Esau’s, Ishmael’s, Ashur’s, and many other’s sons, it was Moab and Ben-Ammiy who left their names so strongly on this part of the land for so many generations. And all of these children of Lot and Abraham, who both come from Arphaxad, along with their brother’s have grown up and remained in this land and peopled it to this day. Perhaps one day others, in seeing their neighbor as a brother, will grow to them as such.




Book Update, the Middle East, and the World

Well, it has been over a month since the last time I have given any sort of update on my book. This is much longer than I would have hopped to go, but alas that is how things are. I have yet to finish this section, but hopefully that will happen soon so I can begin work on Aram and start editing! I would thought I would be less surprised about how long this section is taking, but I suppose I never really considered just how many people are connected to Arphaxad. I would think that just about everyone knows that the Israelites, Ishmaelites, and Edomites come from his line, namely that of Abraham, but there are frankly just so many more, more than I initially even planned for.

Some who may have written this book, and as I have seen those who have written similar books do, would have probably skipped over some of these people. They do not seeem important enough to the greater scope of history. Why bother to write about Abram’s brothers? Why worry about the descendants of Lot? Do the Edomites actually matter to the rest of Scripture, let alone world history? How do other people mentioned in the Bible, like the Amalekites, actually play in? The Midianites? The book of Job?

Believe it or not, a lot of them do.

To begin, Edom had more people come from him than just the Edomites. The Amalekites and the Temanites also come from him. And while they may not seem all that important, the Amalekites were one of the most infamous enemies of the Israelites and may have been a thorn in their side possibly to the time of Esther. And many people may have not have heard of the Temanites, but the only other Eliphaz mentioned in the Bible – for their were only two – was a friend of Job, descended from Eliphaz, son of Edom and father of Teman. And while we are on the subject of Job, another of his friends, a Shuhite, was descended from a son of Abraham named Shuah. This helps locate Job, the man from, Uz, where and when he might have been located, probably east of Israel in Edom, and why he is so closely connected to the Scriptures at all. Additionally, Midian, a sometimes ally/sometimes foe of Israel, was in fact a people who were in large part descended from Abraham from his wife Keturah. They made up many different groups of nomads throughout the southeastern part of Saudi Arabia. Did you know that Abraham actually has eight sons, not just two? Most do not and I plainly forgot, let alone knew the implications of each people. This is not even to mention the Moabites and Ammonites, though I have yet to research these “sons” of Lot.

While most consider the Arabs to be this “single group” in regards to “ethnicity”, this is not necessarily so. In the north many are from Asshur, Nahor and his family, Aram, Nimrod, and even Arphaxad. In the south, many are actually descended from Cush, Joktan, and others. In the middle, there is Madai and Elam on one side, and Edom, Moab, Ammon, Amalek, Philistia, and so many more, not to even the aforementioned Canaanites. These people are a diverse group, and their connection to Abraham through Ishmael and Keturah has only just begun to be uncovered. It is amazing and overwhelming. There is so much history, so much genealogy to be found in the Middle East. It is little wonder why Mesopotamia is referred to as the Cradle of Civilization.

All of this is to make a partial point that I have been wanting to make with these posts and my book on a large-scale. Each of these groups in the Middle East, on the level that I am discussing them on, could be divided into different people groups. Yet even that can be difficult as they intermarried so often. For example, Edom had two Canaanite wives and one who was daughter to Ishmael. Boaz, of the line of Judah and Christ, married a Moabitess. This is not to mention all of the intermarrying before that – from Midianite Zaporah to different Canaanite women during the Judges. And this is just for Israel. The list could go on, but the point I make is this: while thier “nationality” is often called different, for most of these people groups, their parentage is the same. As I mentioned at the beginning, why bother to account for all of these groups? Because at the end of this, they are one of the many that made up what is today largely known as the Middle East. While the land is under different names today, all those people are basically descended from those original settlers in one way or another. Moreover, all of them are still traced back to these three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. In fact, I’ve mentioned descendants from all three of these sons in this post as all leaving descendants in the Middle East.

We are all of one blood, and that is something that not only should be remembered but also repeated in daily life. There is so much strife in the world over race and whatnot, yet this is strife among brothers, among siblings. No matter where you go, especially today, it is difficult to find a group that is not of “mixed heritage”. And while it is good to be interested or proud of where your family came from,  everyone in the world is related through these three sons of Noah, and in turn, we are all children of Adam and Eve. This should be our focus: to remember that we are all of one blood and because of that we should treat, think of, and love each other as such.

God’s blessings, my family,