Submission Synopsis

Gareon of Israel
by D. J. Herda

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Length:
Full

Genre:
Black Humor
Biblical
Comedy

Series:
Stand-Alone

One Sentence:
When Gareon sets out to lead the Levites from Egypt into the land of Canaan and God steps in to tell him that He has already assigned Moses the job (all those pesky locusts!), it's a simple matter for Gareon to put aside his pride and await the outcome...or is it?

Blurb/Logline:
When the new leader of the Levites balks at leading his people into war against Egypt in order to force Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to leave the desert for the promised land, his tribal council talks him into it.  As preparations unfold, Gareon grows increasingly confident of victory and of his place in Hebrew history.  When God steps in and strikes a deal with Gareon to talk his people out of war in order that Moses be given a crack at the task, the writing is on the wall.  Unfortunately, Gareon is a slow reader.  Almost by accident, he ends up double-crossing God ... and lives to tell about it!

First Scene:

Gareon of Israel

BLACK. 

ext.  barren MOUNTAINTOP.  the sound of a crackling fire and the howling of a distant wolf.

FAde In:

A dimly lit mountainside campfire.  Around the fire sit four men.  Three are very old with long, grey beards and hair; the fourth is even older, perhaps in his hundreds, with hair and beard tracking down well past his knees.  The four are sheathed in long, flowing, and generally unflattering robes.

ephraim

Whoever would have thought that a tribe once blessed by the hands of Jacob and Almighty God, Himself, could have been reduced to such misery and wretchedness.

He looks around at the others for some reaction and finds none.  Ephod pokes at the fire with a stick.  Ozan yawns.

ephraim (contíd)

Who could have foreseen the travesty to come.  Who could have predicted the pestilence and disasters to follow.  Who could have known the depths to which we, a once proud and mighty people, could have fallen.

The oldest of the men raises his head slowly and stares toward heaven.

core

Almighty God, we thank Thee!

Ephraim turns toward the others.

ephraim

Heís growing deaf.

ephod

Heís growing an idiot.

Ozan

The Levites alone arenít plagued.  All of the tribes of Israel suffer under the cruelty of Pharaoh. 

ephraim

But it seems that we suffer most.

core

Blessed be God.

ephraim

Donkey!

ephod

Perhaps, under Gareonís rule, the Levites will once again find the strength to rise up against their Egyptian enslavers, rise up and leave the land of snakes and vermin and enter into Godís promised land.

ozan

Under Gareonís rule, yes, perhaps.

Ephraim

Yes, Gareon is a fine and noble leader, indeed. 

ephod

Brave.

ozan

And witty.

ephraim

Yes, and shrewd.

ozan

And powerful.

  ephod

How the likes of Gareon could have sprung from the loins of his idiot father ...

He shakes his head at Core.

ephod (contíd)

It is beyond the understanding of all but Almighty God, Himself.

Core perks up at the name.

core

Lord be praised, blessed be God!

ephod

Flaxhead!

ephraim:

Muttonís ass!

ephod

Beseeching God even before morning prayers.

ozan

He is old, remember, and the former chief of our tribe.

ephod

Maybe that is where Gareon first learned the qualities of leadership, from his father.

They hesitate, look at one another, and laugh.

ephraim

Making Core our leader is what brought the Levites to disaster in the first place, never mind for 65 years!

core

God will show the way.

The men all laugh again until they sight a figure approaching over the rocks.  They remain silent as Sara, a hardened, rugged tribal woman and Coreís wife, walks slowly forward.  She is dressed in robes and wearing a clean head shawl looped once around her neck and trailing off behind.  The three youngest men nod as she approaches, but they remain seated.

sara

You are all sturdy men to be sitting here in the early morning cold, even before prayers.

ephod

We followed your husband out.

ephraim

We were afraid heíd fall off a cliff.

Ozan

Or worse.

ephod

Heís so old.

ephraim

And feeble.

Sara stares at him.

sara

Heís a fool.

She walks over and shakes Core by the shoulders.

Sara (contíd)

What are you about in the early morning dampness?  Youíll worry me to death.  Why arenít you home in front of the fire, old man, where your bones would have a chance to warm?

core

What?  Is it services already?

Sara

No, itís not services.  The sun isnít yet full in the sky.

core

Praise be to God.

Sara leans forward and cups her mouth.  Loudly.

sara

I said the sun isnít yet in the sky!

She points skyward.  Core looks up.

core

Yes, it wonít be long, now.

Sara leans still closer.  Louder.

Sara

The sun, I said the sun!

Core belches.

sara (contíd)

Fool.

From the distance, Gareonís voice calls out.

gareon

Mother?  Mother?  Is that you?

ephod

It is your son, Gareon.

ephraim

Chief of the Levites.

Sara shouts to Core.

sara

Youíre such a fool!

core

It is Godís will.

ozan

Heís so old.

Ephod

And tired.

sara

Heís an idiot.  I only hope his son doesnít inherit any of his fatherís lunacy.  It didnít strike Core, remember, until well after the twelfth blessed.

The three men glance quickly from one to another, a look of concern crossing their faces.  Slowly, a young, virile figure advances through the early morning haze.  He is ruggedly handsome, with short, neat beard, chiseled features, and erect posture.  He looks to be a born leader, the Mark Anthony of the Levite nation.  He crosses the rocks swiftly and with agility.

Gareon

Mother, what are you doing out so early in the morning?  The dampness will chill your bones.

Sara points toward Core.

sara

It is your father.

Gareon looks at the old man and shakes his head.

gareon

He is such an idiot.

sara

A jackass.

Ozan

Still, he is your father.

They all look at Ozan sternly.

ephraim

Tell me, Gareon, how do you feel today?  Sharp?  And witty? 

gareon

No.  Not very.

They gasp.

gareon (contíd)

This early morning dampness has drained all of the stoutness and wittiness from my being.

They sigh in relief.  Ephraim addresses the group.

ephraim

The dampness.  It is only a touch of the dampness.

ozan

Do you remain shrewd, then?

ephod

And brave?

ozan

Yes, and still brave?

ephod

And stout?

ozan

Yes, and definitely stout?

gareon

Oh, yes.  I feel very brave and stout and shrewd, just as the Levitesí new chieftain should feel.  After all, it is a great honor to have been given the leadership of the mighty Levitesí tribe.  How else should one feel?  I stand atop the mountain.  I am stronger and more alive than I have ever been  before in my life.  I feel renewed.  I am invigorated by the strength of the tasks laid out before me.

He stares off over the barren desert.

gareon (contíd)

I am born.

Gareon raises his brow and leans in.

gareon (contíd)

I really mean it.

The old men smile at one another, satisfied.

sara

Gareon, my son, I will leave you to council, but see that you steer your idiot father back to camp in time for services.  He shouldnít be late.

gareon

Heís such a fool.  He might fall off a cliff.

ozan

Or worse.

core

Blessed be God.

sara

So be it.

Sara slowly picks her way off-camera.

ephraim

Come, Gareon.

Ephraim rises.

ephraim (contíd)

Sit at the head of our fire and hold council with us.  We have much to discuss.

ephod

We have fresh bread.

ozan

And a sack of cool water.

Gareon seats himself and Ephraim follows.

gareon

It is good that I have found you here this morning.

Gareon swallows from the water sack and rips a piece of bread from the loaf.

gareon (contíd)

Simeon brings me bad news.  Pharaoh has need of two hundred of our strongest men to build a road to Sahain.

ephraim

Two hundred?  Why, we have only 600 men left in the whole of our tribe.

ozan

Two hundred more Levites to be enslaved to do Pharaohís bidding?

ephod

We wonít do it!

ephraim

We wonít!

ozan

Havenít the Levites suffered enough at the hands of the Egyptians?  Are we to suffer even more, our ranks ravaged, our numbers diminished until all who remain are but women and children and the asses in the field.

ephraim

By Jehovah, we wonít do it!

He slams his fist into the ground.

gareon

Then, good!  That is what Iíd hoped to hear from you.  It is heartening to find the Levites are of the same mind as their leader.  I say we are a strong and noble people, we are a proud and industrious tribe.  We must make a stand against the continuing demands and abuses heaped upon us by Pharaoh and those who rule in his place!

ephod

We must go to Pharaoh and tell him that we will no longer do his bidding.  We must tell him that we will leave this land for Canaan at once.  There, we will be rid of Pharaoh and free to worship the Hebrew God.

ephraim

God of love.

ozan

God of light.

ephraim

Yes, that is what we must do.  It is the only thing to do.  Go to Pharaoh and tell him that we refuse to bear his abuses further, and the Levites will depart at once for another land.

ephod

Yes, at once.

ephraim

Good.  Then it is agreed.  We will convene a party and take it to Pharaoh that no longer will we be his property. 

ephod

Excellent! 

ozan

He could spit on us.

Ephraim rubs his chin thoughtfully.

ephraim

Hmmm.  Yes, there is that possibility.  He might never allow it.

Ephraim turns to Ozan.

ephraim (contíd)

It is good that you point this out, trusted Ozan.  Our leader must consider all possibilities before we take any actions.  That is, after all, why we elected him leader.

gareon

I feel likewise that it is good.

ephraim

That Pharaoh spit on us?

Gareon looks at him warily.

gareon

No ... I mean I feel it is good that Ozan has spoken out.

 

Ephraim raises his brows and nods his head.

gareon (contíd)

Pharaoh could very well deny us our exit.  He might forbid us to leave forever.  He needs fools to do slavesí work.  And in the Levites he has found his bidders.

ephraim

Yes, we are all Pharaohís fools.

Ozan raises his brows.

ozan

I am no fool.

Ephraim expresses surprise.

ephraim

Do not take it personally.  It is a ... manner of speech.

Ozan, still having trouble with the comment.

ozan

Well, just so long as you donít think that I am a fool.

Ephraim appears annoyed.

ephraim

All right.  All right.  You are no fool.  The rest of us are fools.  The rest of us are the cogs in the wheel that makes Pharaohís Egypt turn.  We are the ones feeding his power.

Ephod tilts his head to one side.

ephod

I ... I am no fool, either.

Ephraim shrugs, slapping his hands against his sides and turning away.

gareon

All right, listen.  Letís not bicker amongst ourselves.  If we are to face Pharaoh and prepare for a journey out of this valley of death, we must work together, we must be united in our approach and steadfast in our beliefs.

Ephod kicks at the rocks.

ephod

I just donít know where he gets off calling us fools.

Gareon throws his hands into the air and turns to Ephraim.

gareon

Apologize.

Ephraim

What?

gareon

Apologize.  Apologize to them or weíre never going to get this thing resolved.

Ephraim is incredulous.

ephraim

Apologize to them for what?

gareon

You know for what.  For calling them fools.

Ephod and Ozan stand side-by-side, looking like petulant children.

ephraim

I did no such thing.  I called all of us fools.  There is a difference.

gareon

Us, them, we, they, it makes no matter.  Just say youíre sorry or weíll never get on with it.

Ephraim looks from one to another before finally settling his eyes on Core, who remains oblivious.

ephraim

And they call you an idiot.

Gareon taps his foot impatiently, staring at Ephraim.

ephraim (contíd)

All right, all right.  I apologize.  So you are not fools.  We are none of us fools.  All right?  Is that better?

Ozan bobs his head from side to side.

Ozan

Yes.  Yes, I think.

Ozan turns to Ephod, who shrugs.

ephod

I ... I guess thatís better.  Yes.

gareon

Good.  Now let us get back to Pharaoh.  How shall we convince him to allow the Levites to leave Egypt?

ephod

Well, we could go to him with all of our tribe and show him our intentions, show him that our resolve is strong and that our numbers are great ...

Ozan

He would not be impressed.

Ephod turns to him.

ephod

You are just not into this at all, are you?

ozan

Well, I just donít think we can sway him that way.

Ephraim

We are 600 men.  All brave and true. 

He looks down at Core.

ephraim (contíd)

Well, mostly all.  Still, with 600 men, we could cut Pharaoh in half!

ephod

In half?  Do you mean ... with force?

ephraim

I mean with whatever resources we have available to us!

ozan

Do you mean ... war with the Egyptians?

ephod

What is?  War?

ephraim

Who said anything about war??

ephod

Somebody said something about going to war with the Egyptians.

Ephraim shakes his head.

ephraim

I said nothing of going to war.

He turns to Ozan.

ephraim (contíd)

Ozan said that we should wage war.

ozan

I said nothing of waging war.

Ephraim pauses, deep in thought, then breaks out suddenly.

ephraim

And I agree!  Yes, that is the answer.  War!  The Levites were never meant to be slave to false gods.  We were not created to bear witness to heathen rulers, nor to do their bidding!

Ozan turns to Ephod.

ozan

I said nothing of war.  Did you say something of war?  I said nothing of war.

Gareon rises and his robe falls open, exposing a hardened, muscular frame.

Gareon

We are Godís chosen people, it is true, a brave and proud nation, to be certain.  We fear not but the Lord Himself, and we sayeth not that shalt not be said but in the truth of His being.

Gareon slumps forward and raises his brow.

gareon (contíd)

But ... war?  I donít know ...

Ephraim

But war!  Yes!  But victory!  Yes!  But glory in the name of our God, Almighty!  Yes!  My sacred brethren, even to keeping Godís sacred covenant in the land of Canaan, if war we must, then war we will. 

gareon

With whom, the Egyptians?

ephraim

If the Levites do not depart Egypt, there will soon be nothing left of them.  They will never know the holy glory of a life blessed by the Lord.  We were placed on this earth to serve Him and Him, alone, and never to bow to the likes of Pharaoh and all the false gods borne before him. 

 

We must leave for Canaan, leave this God-forsaken land, and if we must war with Pharaoh to do so, then let it be war!

Ozan

Ephraim is right.  We cannot be slaves forever, for God would surely damn us to hell for losing His favor in such a manner.

Gareon

Oh, no.  We must never lose favor with the Lord.  Of this I am sure.

ephraim

We will crush them, then, for certain, and all of their pagan superstitions and beliefs!  For our war with Pharaoh will be a just and noble war blessed by Jehovah!

Ephraim turns to Gareon.

ephraim (contíd)

And you will lead us to victory, oh Gareon, chieftain of the Levites.  You have been especially chosen by the Lord to lead us out of the land of sin and depravity and into the land of the Lord God, Himself.

 

You are the one man brave enough and true enough and blessed by the Lord with the cunning and shrewdness to see the Levites through to victory over the Egyptians.  Like our forefathers in the Land of Canaan, we will strike out at Pharaoh and we will be victorious, thanks be to God!

ephod

Gareon is our leader, Godís own chosen Chief of the Levites.  In him wilt we wage war on sin and emerge victorious!

ozan

In the name of God, and in the name of Gareon, we will once more enjoy His heavenly blessings!

ephraim

Lead us, oh mighty Gareon of Israel, to Godís promised land.  For, it is Godís will that you take us there.

Core suddenly raises his head and belches.

core

Praise be to God!

They scowl at him contemptuously, then turn to Gareon. 

ephraim

God of peace!

ephod

God of war!

ozan

God of victory!

Gareon looks around, surveying the land, and rubs his chin. 

gareon

(worried)

You know, the Egyptians under Pharaoh ... theyíre a ... theyíre a ... theyíre not a weak nation.

ozan

This is true.  They are not a weak nation.

Ephod

Not weak at all.

gareon

And I was thinking, maybe we need to sleep on this whole idea of ... warring with Pharaoh ... for a night.  Or two.

Ephod wags his finger at him. 

EPHOD

Be thoust not impulsive nor shalt thou live to see the morrow, sayeth the Lord.

gareon

(relieved)

Exactly!

ephraim

Women!  Is that what we are?  Cowering in the corner?  Are the Egyptians no less weak than the Levites, who share Godís blessings and are Godís chosen people?

gareon

No less weak ... what?  Iím sorry, run that past me again.

ephraim

And has not God Almighty made you in His own likeness, oh Gareon of Israel, and has He not sent you to His chosen people that you might proffer your wisdom and your strength upon us, that we should benefit from all that He does through you on earth, in this Kingdom and in the next? 

gareon

Well ... to say all that He does is stretching it ... a bit.

ephraim

And have we not a strong, brave leader in you, oh mighty Gareon, ready to smite the Egyptian peoples and their  Pharaoh who blaspheme against the Lord in professing their loyalty to foreign gods?  Are you not that leader?

ephod

A brave and witty leader, yes, that is for certain.

gareon

Well, I like to think I do my part ...

ephraim

A leader in whom we can place our confidence, a leader in whom we can place our trust, a leader descended from a long line of blessed leaders!

ozan

A leader descended from Core.

They look at him sternly.  He adds softly:

ozan (contíd)

I mean ... Sara.

Ephraim picks up a spear and slams it into the fire.

ephraim

If you are not that leader, Oh, Gareon of Israel, then we have been misled by God and by man, for you are here today walking among us, prepared to lead us out of the desert and into the oasis.  Is that not your goal, descendent of Jacob and the elders?

ephod

Descendent of Job.     

Ozan

Descendent of Almighty God!

Gareon

Yes.  Yes.  Yes, of course.  Of course thatís my goal.  That shall forever be my goal, so help me, God.

The men send up a rousing cheer and hug one another in joy.

gareon

Yes.  On this I shall tell you: I do hereby take an oath: As the Lord Jehovah and God of all Hebrews watches over us, I, Gareon of Levites, Gareon of Israel, shall fight to the death to free my people from the shackles of pagan bondage.  For, blessed be always the name of the Lord, and His will be done in waging a holy war on Pharaoh and the pagan blasphemers whom he rules.

Gareon removes the spear from the flames and slams it deeper into the fire. 

gareon (contíd)

And so.  We war!

More cheers.

Fade to black.

core

(V.O.)

Blessed be God.

ephraim

(V.O.)

Oh, shut up.
 

Bio:
D. J. Herda is an award-winning, full-time professional writer/journalist with more than 40 years of writing and editing experience.  He is author of more than 80 published books and several hundred thousand short pieces, in addition to several screen plays, stage plays, and audio and video scripts.  He currently serves as president of the American Society of Authors and Writers (http://amsaw.org), is a member of The Author's Guild and a former member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Washington Press Club.

Miscellaneous
Former ghost writer for Ronnie Schell, Lawrence Welk, Art Linkletter, etc.  Former ghost writer/photographer for Sammy Davis Jr.  Scriptwriter for educational and consumer cable television, in-flight airline, etc.  Former member, American Society of Journalists and Authors.  Former member, National Press Club.  President, Americans Society of Authors and Writers.

Film and Television:
This script is written visually, with strong character development and a strong, albeit quirky, story line.  The dialogue is crisp, pointed, and believable, and the settings are uncomplicated.  It can be produced on a low budget for maximum profit.  Several producers have expressed interest in seeing the script upon its completion.

Author's Qualifications for Writing This Screenplay:
D. J. Herda is one of the best screenwriters working today.

NOTE: All material is copyright protected.  No portion of this material may be copied or reproduced, either electronically,  mechanically, or by any other means, for resale or distribution without the written consent of the author.  All copy has been dated and registered with the American Society of Authors and Writers.  Copyright 2006 by The Swetky Agency