More Plundering the Bible

by Dillon Rinker (dillon_rinker@hotmail.com)

[Note: In an August 2000 issue of the online gaming magazine Pyramid there was an article by Earl Wajenberg entitled "Plundering the Bible" about interesting artifacts mentioned in the Bible which can be used in a roleplaying campaign to make it interesting -- without recycling the poor old Arc of the Covenant for the umpteenth time. This article was posted very soon on the Pyramid discussion board, nicely filling all the gaps left by the original articles. -- Incánus]

The Scarlet Thread of Rahab (Joshua 2 & 6)
This artifact may be found in conjunction with the Horns of Jericho. Two Israelite spies were sent to Jericho, but their presence was discovered. They hid in the house of Rahab. In return for her protection, they told her to hang a scarlet thread (probably mistranslated; more likely a rope) from her window, and all in her house would tbe protected. Rahab and her family were in her house when the cataclysm struck Jericho; they were the only survivors. The nature of the artifact is uncertain. It may be a counter-measure to the Horns of Jericho, preventing the Horns of Jericho from affecting the section of wall that supported Rahab's house. It may be more generally protective, effective against other magics. It may have been a one-shot enchantment.
The Mantle of Elija (2 Kings 2)
As Elija was carried into the heavens in a flaming chariot, his mantle (a sort of cloak) fell off of him. Elisha, who has no prior record of supernatural abilities, picked it up and used it to divide the River of Jordan (think Moses and the Red Sea, but on a smaller scale). With this demonstration of his power, he established his authority over the Sons of the Prophets, an elusive group who lived in Israel at that time. With his new-found powers, Elisha was able to create a spring where none had been before, and to call bears out of the wilderness to devour his detractors. Chapters which follow further document his career.
The Bones of Elisha (2 Kings 13)
A little-known addendum to Elisha's life is the power of his bones. Some years after his death, some Israelites buried a man in the same sepulchre as Elisha. Or rather, they tried to -- as soon as the dead body touched Elisha's bones, the man lived again. It is not known whether or not Elijah's mantle was buried with Elisha...
The Alabaster Box (three accounts -- Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 7)
Jesus, before his crucifixion, was dining in the home of a leper. A woman came and annointed him with spikenard ointment. Jesus proclaimed that she was annointing his body for his burial, and that she would be remembered wherever his message was preached. (It is curious that her name was not recorded.) Jesus is famous for the fact that he rose from the dead after his burial -- could there be a connection? Spikenard is an aromatic plant found in the Himalayas (see www.m-w.com/dictionary), so how did it come to be in Israel?
Samson's Jawbone; Enhakkore (Judges 15)
This is the jawbone that Samson, a man imbued with holy strength to fight the enemies of Israel, used to slay 1000 of his enemies. The jawbone may have been a powerful holy weapon, but it seems more likely it was simply a handy tool for Samson. After the battle, he feared he would die of thirst -- there was apparently no water for many miles. He found he could drink his fill from the jawbone, and named the place Enhakkore (translated: 'The Spring of One Calling', or 'The Fountain of One Who Called'). The text seems to indicates that the water came out of the jawbone, yet it seems silly to name a desert area after a spring that isn't there. Could the jawbone be used to create a spring in the desert? This isn't the sexiest enchantment that an item could have, but it seems more useful to the mass of humanity than a Puissant Jawbone of Sharpness. Imagine the possibilities in the Sahara -- or could the jawbone be usable only within the boundaries of ancient Israel?
Egyptian/Hebrew cities (Exodus 1)
(Camera pans across Egyptian ruins; voice over by Patrick McNee)"And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom, and Raamses."
Before the Hedrews were formed into a nation, they were enslaved in Egypt. Their belief system, while not yet formalized, was already in place. What magics, abominations to the Hebrews, did the Egyptians put into place in the structures they built? What secret counter-magics did the Hebrews use, that they would not to be complicit in the Egyptian religion? What might happen if one or the other were reversed?
Enoch, the City of Cain (Genesis 4)
Cain built a city and named it for his son, Enoch. Among its inhabitants were Enoch's son Lamech, the second recorded murder and the first recorded polygamist. His sons were Jabal, the first cattle-herder; Jubal, and the first musician; and Tubal-Cain, the first metal-worker. Human sin burgeoned within the city, followed rapidly by the birth of agriculture, the arts, and industry. This city was destroyed in the Flood, and is the likely source of the Atlantean myth. Ancient knowledge or power may be hidden within its ruins, if they can be located.
Pieces of Nehushta, The Brazen Serpent of Moses (Numbers 21; 2 Kings 18:4)
[This is a revision of an entry in the Pyramid article, titled "The Brazen Serpent".]
One of the punishments suffered by the Israelites in the wilderness was a plague of snakes. To mitigate this, God instructed them to make a bronze snake and display it on a pole; anyone who was bitten but looked up at the bronze snake was healed. It later became the idol of a litle-known cult. Hezekiah, a king of Judah and descendant of King David, cut it into pieces and called it Nehushta, or "Thing of Brass." It is unknown whether this was the serpent's name or if Hezekiah was proclaiming that it was a metallic object and not a god. Jesus compared himself crucified to this snake (John 3). Was he secretly a follower of the cult? Would the pieces still retain their its healing power? Was it repaired by its worshippers?

Those addicted to online media (i.e. if you don't want to look it up in the Bible itself) can go to www.blueletter.org. All of the information contained in this post came from there. I could come up with more, if anyone's interested.