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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
480 pages
Jan 2004
Moody Publishers

Vessel of Honor

by Melvin Cobb

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Roman Province of Judea

A.D.  33



ahlin Malae was plummeting into the abyss.  Like a baby bird falling out of the nest, he flailed his arms desperately and prayed for a miracle that he somehow knew would not arrive in time.  His stomach rolled uncontrollably and felt like a hollow gourd that was ready to be dashed to pieces on the jagged rocks below.

            He opened his eyes to see the approaching floor of the Great Valley of Napata.  Along with the hard stones, he saw the phantoms of his life’s regrets that somehow made it down to the bottom before he did.  He was able to make out each one clearly, and he rued the fact that the last images his mind projected were the twisted shadows of h is own faults and shortcomings.  One regret wore the sullen face of the woman that he had manipulated for many years.  Another bore the image of a vizier that he had crushed only weeks before.

            Unwilling to face the final reality of his degenerate state, Sahlin tilted his vision upward, toward the object of his desire.  No, it was more than an object; it was a presence for which he violently hungered.  As the object grew smaller and more distant, he tried to figure out why he was not able to reach his goal—why he always fell short.

            Sensing the inexorable approach of doom, he opened his mouth and voiced one last thought.  “Lord God Most High, I have failed to reach You…”


Awakening from his tormented slumber, Sahlin’s eyes snapped open just in time to see the first rays of early morning sunlight pour into his room.  Grateful that his body hadn’t been dashed to pieces, he clench his teeth and forced himself to exhale sharply.

            Drenched in sweat, he propped himself up on one arm and tried to settle his senses.  Though he knew that he was awake and the experience was no more than an overactive imagination, he still felt himself wavering between the horror of his dream and the exhaustion of his reality.

            Yet, there was something more.  He felt something—no, he felt someone.  Instinctively, he forced his sleepy eyes to scan the room.  He was convinced that he unauthorized visitor was standing next to his bed, silently waiting to reach out.

            Not sure if he was yet awake from his nightmare, Sahlin stretched out his hand to grasp the visitor but found only air.  Once he was certain that no one else was there, he rubbed his eyes vigorously and perused the room once more.  Everything seemed in order.  He felt his heartbeat finally start to slow down and resume a normal rhythm.

            With his eyesight clear, he was able to distinguish the solid objects from their long shadows that were formed by the rising sun outside.  As the light verified that the room was indeed empty, he felt relaxed enough to lay his head down and close his eyes again.

            Today, I shall cast my eyes upon the City of David, he thought, allowing the silent words to echo deep within his soul.  Images of the great city danced past his mind’s eye.  He and his companions lodged for the evening only a half day’s journey from Jerusalem.  It took him weeks to travel from the heart of Africa to the Roman province of Judea.  He found it hard to believe that he was only a few hours away from completing the longest journey of his life.