David L. Goldstein was Jewish. Not that he had anything to actually prove that fact, but he knew he must be. Hate it as he did, David knew that he was as much a type cast Jew as ever there was - Jet black hair, light brown skin and large hooked nose. Yet David had never been to a Synagogue, had never read the Bible, and did not pray. He had never practised the Jewish religion, as far as he could recall, and did not even know any other Jews. Having been adopted from a home at a very young age, David`s parents had thought it important that he keep his own surname, lest he decide to take up his own religion in later life. They had not enforced any of their beliefs on him, and let him make his own decisions where God was concerned.
Consequently David`s life was devoid of religion. Or rather, he had no celestial being he worshipped. For David`s gods were more of the physical kind.
The morning the first letter arrived should have been no different to any other, and the postman that day had no idea how much his daily routine would change a young mans life. David opened the old, battered envelope with a frown on his face. The name on the envelope had been written in a completely different hand to that of the address, which had been added far more recently.
A simple card within the envelope read "Are wealth and fame your Gods now? Seek ye out Beer Mountain!" Next there were three sets of numbers, 4-27-4. Underneath was typed the name Israel Beer.
David read, and re-read the card several times. It all meant not a thing to him. He decided he`d wasted enough time on it for now, tucked the card into the back pocket of his jeans, grabbed his suitcase, and set off to work.
David did not have what even any broadminded bank manager might call a steady job. He`d recently been laid off from his job at the factory - cutbacks - and had decided that his freelance writing had come along enough that it could now support him full time. As such, his day today was scheduled for research in the city library. Today`s story was going to revolve around the fact that government wanted to reward and recognise successful teachers, and lay off, or at least single out, the less successful ones.
Once inside the library, he made his way immediately to the reference section. Several hours of study had proved to be less fruitful than he may have hoped, and David was about to stop for a rest and a cup of tea, when the letter suddenly sprang to mind. His interest piqued again, he re-read the card. The hand written phrase was quite self explanatory, but the series of numbers and the name still held no meaning to him. He was already sat in the reference section, so he selected an issue of Who`s Who. The name Beer was mentioned several times, but the forename Israel was not among them. He picked up all the back dated issues and checked them. Still no mention of Israel Beer.
All this mention of Beer had made David thirsty. He was about to depart for the pub to ponder his next avenue of attack, when his eyes fell upon the Britannic Encyclopaedias. He selected the appropriate volume, and almost instantly found what he was looking for:
'Beer, Israel (b 1912 Vienna, Austria - d May, 1966, Shatta prison, Israel) Israeli military analyst who was convicted (1962) for treason as a Soviet agent.
Arriving in Palestine (1938), Beer joined the Haganah, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Israeli army. After retiring from military service (1949), he held the chair of military history at the University of Tel Aviv and was commissioned by David Ben-Gurion to prepare the official history of the 1948-49 Israeli War Of Independence. Arrested in 1961 for spying, Beer was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison, where he died.'
David frowned. This was all very strange. What did it mean? And what did the numbers mean?
He photocopied the paragraph about Beer, and went to the pub to ponder further. Unfortunately no answers were forthcoming, and when he returned to the library he decide out of desperation to ask the librarian if the numbers meant anything to her.
"Have you tried the Bible?" She asked. "These number references often refer to the Bible," she said as though she was always asked such questions.
Numbers, Chapter 27, Verse 4, referred to the Law Of Inheritance.
'Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son? Give unto us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father.'
David leant back in his chair and breathed deeply. He`d never known his real father, but suddenly wondered if this Israel Beer... No, surely he couldn`t be the son of a Soviet spy! Could he?
With nothing further to look up, no further research to do, David`s work for the day had been interrupted and ruined. He returned to the pub, where several drinks later he determined that tomorrow he would forget this whole silly business and get back to trying to keep his roof over his head.
The letter the next day contained a similar card. This time there were only the numbers: 5-34-6.
For the first time ever, he cursed himself for not having a Bible in the house, and he wasted no time in getting to the library.
Deuteronomy, Chapter 34, Verse 6. The History Of Israel. Surely too much of a coincidence, he thought!
'And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.'
The Verse made no sense on its own, but reading the Chapter told David that he was reading of the death of Mosses, Gods Chosen One. A thought struck him like a thunderbolt when he put the two Verses together - his inheritance from a father he never knew was the final resting place of Mosses, and he, an aspiring writer, was going to be the first ever person to find it. Pound signs flew across his vision. The word "exclusive" leapt to mind.
But where was Moab, and where was Bethpeor?
A comprehensive atlas told him that the only Moab mentioned was in Colorado, USA. Even the most non-religious person knew that none of the Old Testament Writings referred to the Americas. And the only place similarly named to Bethpeor was Bethlehem. In short, he`d run into another dead end!
The next day the card had not one, but two sets of numbers: 5-1-24 and then 5-1-20. The fact that the later Verse was quoted first was obviously of some significance!
David had actually decided to purchase his own copy of the Bible, and in the comfort of his own home he quickly looked up the references:
Deuteronomy, chapter 1, Verse 24. Again, the History Of Israel.
'And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came out unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out.' Another place name to look up. But first David decided to read the next quotation.
Deuteronomy, chapter 1, Verse 24.
'And I say unto you, ye are come unto the mountain of Amorites, which the Lord our God doth give unto us.'
At the library again, David went straight to the reference section. The atlas again failed to come up with the exact place name of Eshcol, but did have a place called Eshbol in Israel. It was placed approximately 45 miles south of Tel Aviv, 15 miles north west of a place called Beershaba, and 10 miles east of the Gaza Strip.
No where was there a place called Amorites, but it turned out that a very comprehensive dictionary revealed that an Amorite was actually a person of the land of Israel.
David L. Goldstein decided he had enough clues. He went directly to the travel agents and booked himself the first available flight to Tel Aviv.
The taxi driver was more than pleased to pick up a fare for such a distance. He smiled and nodded perhaps a thousand times, and drove like he was possessed, maybe thinking that his passenger might change his mind and get out if the driver were to slow down.
As they approached Eshbol, a mountain range overlooked the region. David indicated that he wished to be taken to the mountains. The driver looked concerned that his Western passenger should want to be driven out into the wilderness, but the colour of David`s money was suddenly good enough to take him to Hell and back.
At the base of the largest hill, David stood alone. The sun was relentless, and the heat reflected cruelly off the parched earth. He drank from the water bottle he had been wise enough to obtain, and began his ascent, uncertain of exactly what it was he was looking for, or what had brought him this far from home.
It was a two hour climb, and almost all of his water before David approached the summit. It was cooler towards the top, and he stopped to overlook the land spread before him.
The voice surprised him to such an extent that he almost lost his balance and fell back down the steep slope.
"Did you bring your Bible?" He turned to see a figure dressed in faded military fatigues. He was alarmed to see a rifle pointed casually at his chest.
"What`s going on? Why..."
"Did you bring your Bible?" The man asked again, his accent heavy. Without waiting for an answer he spoke several numbers: 5-8-19.
Deuteronomy, Chapter 8, Verse 19.
'And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other Gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.'
"Look," began David. "I don`t know what`s going on here, but my father..."
"Your father was a lying bastard! He cheated and framed Israel." The man shouted.
Thinking the man was talking of cheating the country, David said, "He may have been accused of spying...."
"Fool! Your father was not Israel Beer! That is just what I wanted you to think. Your father actually framed that great man. Beer was no spy. He loved his country and would have died for it. The fact that he did die in the country he loved, is the only conciliation he ever had. I was asked to carry out his Will, in whatever manner I could. His Will was that the entire family of his betrayers should die on this mountain. To others it may have another name, but the mountain where Israel was betrayed will always be Beer Mountain to those who loved him."
David was stunned. Horrified at the thought that he was going to die for something that, maybe, one of his relatives may have done, he mumbled, "But Mosses..."
"If Mosses has a sepulchre still to be found, it will not be by the likes of you. Your Gods, your greed brought you here. Beer Mountain is to be your resting place!"
The shot rang out, and David`s body tumbled several hundred feet before it came to rest on an outcrop of rock.
The man climbed down to where the body lay. Slowly, carefully, he placed one last card on David`s body, though he would never know what the numbers 2-19-13 meant.
Exodus, Chapter 19, Verse 13. The Ten Commandments.
'There shall not a hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; Whether it be beast or man, it shall not live...'