Romans chapter 5: God’s Christmas Gift!

God’s  Christmas  Gift:  JESUS !


Dr. James J. S. Johnson

As sinning humans, we need the gift of redemption in Christ — that’s what Christmas was, historically, all about — and that is why it is just as relevant and vital, today, for us all.


Good news!

In Christ, as a free gift, we (human sinners) can be made right with God, by Him imputing to us the righteousness of Christ, if we believe His promise that Jesus is the Scripture-prophesied Messiah!  That is the theme and doctrine of Paul’s epistle to the Romans.  This good news, at least in a foreshadowed form, was “promised afore by [God’s] prophets in the holy Scriptures” (Romans 1:2), but now it is clearly presented to all the world (Galatians 1:6-12; Romans 1:16-17).

Romans chapter 5 describes how God has accomplished, in the completed redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-25; Romans 5:8 & 5:12-21; 2nd Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews chapter 10), what was needed in order for God to be able to justly justify the (otherwise) unjust children of Adam:  we are now “made the righteousness of God” in Christ, because of Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice of Himself at Calvary!


In a sense, the 5th chapter of Romans is summed up in this one verse:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift [charisma] of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Romans 6:23)

What wonderful news for Adam’s children! What good news for forgiven sinners!  Eternal life is a gift – it is free!  This fits the teaching of Romans chapter 4, that God imputes righteousness to believers.  Righteousness is not earned by good behavior; rather, it is imputed graciously by God.  And the basis of that imputation of God’s righteousness is Christ’s role and finished work as our Kinsman-Redeemer.  That righteousness-imputing redemption was motivated by God’s love and it was accomplished by Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice of Himself for us, followed by His resurrection (Romans 5:8-11).

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.   For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.   (Romans 5:8-11)


However, for this good news to be truly reliable, theologically (and logically), Paul’s explanation of Genesis chapter 3 must be reliable. That means that Genesis must be accepted as trustworthy information, because Paul trusted its history literally (as did Christ Himself – see John 5:45-47!).

Thus, the historicity of Adam (and of the Genesis account of his failure in Eden) is used, by Paul, to argue the efficaciousness of Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice of Himself for us, in order to provide us with redemption, propitiation, and reconciliation. This requires an analysis of how Adam’s first sin has impacted humanity (and the rest of creation), followed by an analysis of how Christ’s substitutionary death and resurrection has overruled that those impacts.


Death was alien to God’s “very good” creation, until Adam sinned. The trustworthiness of the holy Bible hangs upon the accuracy of this fact: There was no death before Adam sinned. To err about when and why death came to Earth is to err about the theological and historical foundation of the Gospel. The death of Christ, and therefore the Gospel of Christ, won’t make sense if death came to Earth any other way than by Adam’s sin in Eden. If death came first, the New Testament would be worse than unreliable—it would be irreparably wrong about salvation.

Although more could (and should) be said about how and why Adam’s sin triggered death, two major points will be reviewed here: (1) The Gospel of Christ depends on the truth of Adam’s sin triggering death on Earth; and (2) the reliability of the Bible depends upon the truth of Adam’s sin triggering death on Earth. Put bluntly, if death somehow came to earth apart from Adam’s sin, we cannot be confident that Hell is escapable. Those reasons guarantee that this topic is anything but trivial. The stakes are as high as can be.

“Very good” creations don’t “groan”. The original condition of God’s creation at the end of Day Six was “very good” (Genesis 1:31), displaying the perfection of providence. However, the earth is now fallen—the current condition of God’s creation is good (Acts 14:17) yet “groaning” (Romans 8:20-22).  That groaning now includes the reign of sin and death over both humans and animals, a terrible situation that will one day be overcome (1st Corinthians 15:26 & 15:54-56; Revelation 21:4 & 22:3).

What caused this change? God did not leave us to guess the answer: Genesis 3 provides the history of that change; the New Testament (especially in Romans 5 and 8) provides the theology of that change. If we ignore God’s authoritative explanation in Genesis and Romans by relying on theistic evolutionist lies, we inexcusably err.  Why?  Because only the Bible’s teaching of the history and theology of human sin reveals the true etiology of death (Romans 5:12).

Death had a beginning; death is not eternal. In order to have the possibility of death, there must first be mortal life. Accordingly, death could never occur unless and until God created living creatures that were capable of dying. Genesis 1 and 2 describe and report how God created such creatures. At the end of Day 6, all was “very good” (Genesis 1:31)—which means that there could not be any death on earth at that time because death is not morally good (Romans 8:20-22; 1st Corinthians chapter 15). The Bible reports no animals dying before Adam sinned. (Notice that no nephesh-bearing animals were to be eaten by humans until after the Flood, according to Genesis 1:29-30 & 9:1-4.) In short, the Bible clearly reports that it was Adam’s sin that triggered the curse of death, in fulfillment of God’s warning:

Therefore, just as through one man [i.e., Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.…For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin hath reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:12-14, 17-21, emphasis added)

Death was unknown to Adam and Eve before Adam sinned. Adam had never seen death before. People on Earth today do not personally see Heaven and Hell, yet God teaches us – through His written Word — vital truths about the conditions and importance of eternity. When we are taught what we should believe about such things, our own faith in God’s Word is tested: Either we believe what God reveals to us about the unseen (e.g., heaven and hell), or we don’t. God is pleased to test our faith about such unseen things, just as God was pleased (6,000+ years ago) to use information about unseen realities to test Adam’s faith and loyalty. That kind of testing is the essence of faith (Hebrews 11:1-3).

Notice that, like Adam’s testing by God, God’s testing of our faith and our loyalty to Him (as our Creator) is always coupled with consequences—good consequences for good choices, bad consequences for bad choices.

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17)

Adam, the first human to sin, quickly learned a lot about consequences—the consequences of his sin included a new thing, death (Romans 5:12; 6:23). The Bible teaches, quite clearly, that the paycheck that sin earns is called DEATH.   (Of course, God had already foreseen and fore-planned a redemptive solution to that sin-and-death problem  —  see Genesis 3:15.)

Genesis3.15-Hebrew-text-in-colorConsider how God chose to test Adam’s faith and loyalty. The test was simple: Don’t eat from one specific tree in the Garden of Eden. God designed Adam’s test to have built-in consequences. Adam could make the choice, but Adam could not control the consequences that would flow from that choice. Why not? Because the consequences were built in to the alternative choice options: The good choice would produce a good result (life eternal); the bad choice would produce a bad result (death).

In effect, God designed the gun, including the trigger—but it was Adam who aimed the gun and pulled the trigger, thus starting the dying process (“you shall surely die”, in Genesis 2:17, could be rendered “dying, you will die”) that leads ultimately to death itself. The test was all part of God’s glorious plan for human history, and God foreknew what would happen.  However, Adam’s choice was nonetheless a true test of Adam’s faith and loyalty, because Adam did not experientially know the outcome in advance.

Adam could have believed God to avoid the “death” that God warned of, but he chose otherwise. Only then did Adam experience the “dying” condition that God had warned him about. Dying began, as did thorns, pain in childbirth, and, in time, death itself.

But the dying was not limited to Adam! Because God had placed all of the life forms of the world under Adam’s authority (Genesis 1:26-31; Psalm 8), the world fell with Adam and was “cursed” with death (Genesis 3:17-19).

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:20-22)

Consequently, all of the world’s living creatures—both humans and animals—have been “groaning” under the curse of sin and death ever since, although eventually the time will come when Christ’s completely applied redemption will be applied to His believers (1st Corinthians chapter 15), and even to the earth itself to overcome the Edenic curse of death (Revelation 20:11; 21:1-5; 22:3).

Why does it matter?

The New Testament directly links sin’s cause and sin’s cure by tying the Gospel of salvation to Adam’s sin (compare Romans chapter 5 with 1st Corinthians chapter 15).


And, Christ’s vicarious payment of humanity’s total sin-debt is the redemptive solution to the otherwise-hopeless problem of sin and death — and is available to everyone, as John 3:16 teaches, who chooses to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior! 

Paul’s definition of the Gospel of Christ contextualizes the Gospel as being “according to the [Old Testament] scriptures” (1st Corinthians 15:3-4).  The New Testament Gospel of Christ depends upon the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament (e.g., Isaiah 53; Psalm 16; etc.) being true.


Indeed, the Old Testament is authoritatively relevant, true, and perfect—every “jot and tittle” (Matthew 5:18) of it. Christ Himself said that Moses would judge people after they die according to whether they believed the words of Moses (John 5:45-47).  If the books of Moses, which include Genesis, were authoritatively good enough for the Lord Jesus (Matthew 24:35; John 17:17)—and they were—they are authoritatively good enough for us. And what we believe about death being the consequence of Adam’s sin in Eden is a test of our own love and loyalty to God Himself.

[ ><> JJSJ  March 7th AD2015 ]



Obadiah’s Prophecy of Edom’s Downfall

Obadiah’s Prophecy:  Profanity and Pride Goeth before Edom’s Fall

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Though you (thou) exalt yourself (thyself) as the eagle, and though you (thou) set your (thy) nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord. (Obadiah 1:4)



Obadiah’s prophecy focuses on the nation Edom, people descended from Esau, Jacob’s twin brother and rival. This book of prophecy – the shortest in the Old Testament – eventually expands its coverage to Israel’s other neighbors, and even alludes to “the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen” (1:15).  Thus, the book of OBADIAH specifically recounts some of Edom’s wickednesses, noting how these evils are to be punished on the Day of the LORD.(1) 

The key theme of Obadiah is that punishment of Edom’s God-despising prideful profanity, which includes Edom’s merciless and cruel persecution of Jacob’s descendants, is assured and shall be accomplished by God, climaxing in judgment as part of the Day of the LORD (1:15-19).

Also, we see in Obadiah’s prophecy how the rivalry between Esau and Jacob (Genesis 25:22-23 & 25:27-34), specifically Esau’s unjust persecution of Jacob (e.g., see Genesis 27:41), continues through time. The ultimate examples of that rivalry, of course, climax in the Edomite (l/k/a Idumean) household of the Herod dynasty, Idumean kings who tried to murder the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:3-19), and who participated in sentencing Jesus to death (Luke 23:8-12; Acts 4:27), and who persecuted the followers of Jesus (Acts 12:1-20).  Unresolved rivalries result in regrettable ramifications (James 3:16).

Little wonder that God declared His hatred for the Edomite people, during the prophetic ministry of Malachi (Malachi 1:2-3; Romans 9:13).  One of the looming themes of “that Day” is how God shall angrily avenge Israel by punishing Israel’s persecutors, including Edom (Jeremiah 49:8-10).


 Exegetical Observations and Comments on Obadiah’s sole chapter

The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom: We have heard a rumor from the Lord, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle. (Obadiah 1:1)

Obadiah’s prophecy begins by pronouncing divine judgment against the nation of Edom, with God’s justice being executed through warfare that involves heathen (i.e., Gentile unbelievers) nations who combine their armies to attack Edom.

Behold, I have made you (thee) small among the heathen; you (thou) are greatly despised. (Obadiah 1:2)

The verb “despised” (1:2), in some ways, could be called the key to understanding the fate of Esau, and thus also the fate of his descendants’ civilization, the nation Edom. Recall the famous barter transaction between Esau and Jacob, where Esau traded his priceless Messianic birthright, for a bowl of red lentil soup:

Then Jacob gave [nâtan = “transferred”, “transmitted”] Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he ate and he drink, and he rose up, and he went his way [“and he walked”]; thus Esau despised [a form of bâzah] his birthright. (Genesis 25:34)

In that voluntary value-exhibiting transaction, which Scripture qualifies (in Hebrews 12:16) as illustrating Esau’s profanity, we see how Esau “despised” (wayyôbez = “and he despised”) that which was spiritual (i.e., that which is valuable to God), preferring the passing physical pleasures to that which has ongoing value. That is the essence of profanity — insulting God by devaluing that which God has made holy.

In particular, Esau traded the Messianic birthright for a bowl of red soup – that illustrates Esau’s carnal-mindedness. No wonder Esau chose to be a fornicating polygamist (Genesis 26:34-35 & 27:46 & 28:9 & 36:10-18; Hebrews 12:16), preferring wives that were Hittite and Ishmaelite pagans (as opposed to selecting a YHWH-worshipping wife who was raised in the faith of Abraham).


In the end, by Esau profanely despising the Messianic birthright, Esau forfeited his opportunity to be part of the Messianic lineage – so the Messianic birthright-lineage honor is forever Jacob’s, not Esau’s. As the subsequent history of Esau’s descendants (a/k/a the nation Edom) demonstrates, Edom’s shameful legacy was one long history of despising God, and despising people whom God valued.

This involves the Abrahamic Covenant, which promises cursing of those who curse Abraham’s promised seed (Genesis 12:3). Abraham’s promised seed descends through Jacob (Genesis 27:29 & 27:39-40 & 28:3-6 & 28:13-15 & 35:9-12), not Esau.

The pride of thine heart hath deceived you (thee), you (thou) who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high, who says in his heart, ‘Who shall bring me down to the ground?’  Though you (thou) exalt yourself (thyself) as the eagle, and though you (thou) set your (thy) nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord. (Obadiah 1:3-4)

Edom is compared to the eagle [nešer], who builds his or her nest in a high place, such as in rocky crags at the top of a high cliff or mountainside.  The fact that eagles (and other large raptors) live in high rocky places is no accident – it is a providentially designed behavior that fits the heavy-bodied eagles’ need for assisted airlift, such that eagles detect and ride upon rising thermal air currents, to save energy.(2)


But, the ability of eagles to majestically soar at high altitudes is God’s gift to eagles – they did not invent (or “evolve”) themselves; rather, whatever wonderful traits they have are traits that God created for them, as their divine Bioengineer.

Likewise, whatever valuable traits we humans may have – and we are blessed with many – are undeserved gifts from God.  So being obsessed with the “pride of life” (see 1st John 2:16, αλαζονεια του βιου, which focuses on biophysical life, not spiritual life) is stupid.  Rather, as God-created creatures, we should be ever-thankful to our Creator, i.e., we should always be grateful for both our biophysical (bios) life and our non-physical (zôê) spirit/soul life.

If thieves came to you (thee), if robbers by night  — how are you (thou) cut off!  —  would they not have stolen till they had enough?  If the grape-gatherers came to you (thee), would they not leave some grapes? (Obadiah 1:5-6)

Obadiah emphasizes how thorough the destruction of Edom shall be, in the Day of the LORD – it shall be much more thorough than smash-and-grab felonies by vandals, robbers, or burglars (1:5). Even careful grape-gatherers miss a few grapes, so that a hungry man should be able to find a few “leftovers” after a grape-field harvest (1:6).

How are the things of Esau searched out!   How are his hidden things sought up! All the men of your (thy) confederacy have brought you (thee) even to the border; the men that were at peace with you (thee) have deceived you (thee), and prevailed against you (thee); they that eat your (thy) bread have laid a wound under you (thee); there is none understanding in him. (Obadiah 1:6-7)

Edom is betrayed by Edom’s confederates (literally “men of thy covenant”), illustrating how there is no honor among thieves (i.e., no integrity in how evildoers treat each other). Edom unwisely trusted in alliances with ungodly allies. This folly backfires on Edom.


Shall I not in that day, saith the Lord, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?   And you (thy) mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter. (Obadiah 1:8-9)

Notice the synonyms: Edom, mount of Esau, Teman – referring to places in Edom, which places, nowadays, are located within the southern part of the Kingdom of Jordan, plus perhaps some of Saudi Arabia.

History is full of examples of Muslim nations fighting other Muslim nations (Genesis 16:12 seems to fit this historical reality).  This pertains to Edom, because Genesis 28:9 indicates that Esau “married into” Ishmael’s household, and thus into Ishmael’s violent legacy (and that evil legacy of violence is noted in Obadiah 1:10, as “violence against thy brother Jacob”).

cute thai-indian girl sitting on her bike

So it is unsurprising to see Obadiah’s prophecy that Edom’s own allies will be part of Edom’s eventual (and violent) undoing. The Edomites are guilty of terrible sins of violence against the nation of Israel (1:10).

For your (thy) violence against your (thy) brother Jacob shame shall cover you (thee), and you (thou) shalt be cut off forever. In the day that you (thou) stood on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even you (thou) were as one of them. But you (thou) should not have looked on the day of your (thy) brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither should you (thou) have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither should you (thou) have spoken proudly in the day of distress; you (thou) should not have entered into the gate of My people in the day of their calamity; yea, you (thou) should not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity; neither should you (thou) have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither should you (thou) have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.  (Obadiah 1:10-14)

Notice the Hebrew noun, used for Edom’s violence (ḥâmâs = Ḥamās) matches the name of today’s Muslim terrorist group Hamas.  Edom shall be punished for its ḥâmâs legacy, especially violence against the people of Jacob (i.e., Israel).

Obadiah recounts a few examples of Edomites harming Jews, such as when “strangers” (could this be describing Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian invaders, about 600 years before Christ?) invaded Jerusalem, Edomites sided with the invaders (1:11);  Edomites also then rejoiced at Jerusalem’s tragedies (1:12).   Moreover, Edomites plundered Jews’ substance when the Jews were invaded by enemies (1:13) – this is like modern-day looters who mercilessly steal from victims of tornados and hurricanes.

Furthermore, Edomites prevented (and even turned over) fleeing Jews from successfully escaping their pursuing attackers (1:14)  — this is like WWII Quisling-like traitors, who ruthlessly betrayed underground-harboring “Jew smugglers” (like the Dutch Christian family of Corrie Ten Boom).

For the Day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.  (1:15)

This is timeless justice (see Matthew 7:2 & 7:12 & 25:40; Luke 6:31), which climaxes when the Day of the LORD arrives.

Then, the rightful King, the Lord Jesus Christ (Earth’s only legitimate Kinsman-Redeemer) returns to Earth as He promised (fulfilling many O.T. promises), to reclaim and restore it to rightness (judging “the Mount of Esau”, inter alia), and Jerusalem will be restored and secured as Christ’s royal capital city, from where He will rule (on the throne of David, which is an earthly throne, not a heavenly throne!) over all the world.

For as you (ye) have drunk upon My holy, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been. But upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it. And they of the south shall possess the Mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead. And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south. And saviors [i.e., deliverers] shall come up on Mount Zion to judge the Mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD‘s.  (1:16-21)

This coming restoration of justice on Earth is certain, “for the Lord hath spoken it” (1:18). The bottom line, as the battle of Armageddon ends (Revelation 16:16-19), is that Jerusalem will be restored to honor and security, because the Lord Jesus Christ justly overcomes all of His enemies, Christ starts a new 1000-year era, and “the kingdom shall be the LORD‘s.”

Conclusion regarding Obadiah’s prophecy

Esau despised God and God’s values, plotting violence against the channel of Abraham’s promised seed.  Centuries later, Esau’s progeny – in the nation Edom – proudly repeated similar profane wickedness, despising God and God’s values, practicing violent hatred for Abraham’s promised seed, including the ultimate illustration – the Idumean Herods repeatedly persecuting Jesus.  So God hated Edom (and loved Israel).

In particular, as Obadiah recounts (apparently referring to the devastating destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian invaders, which curtailed the rule of Jerusalem by Judah’s tribe – even to the present day!) the people who descend from Esau have a long track-record of guilt for persecuting God’s chosen people, Israel.  The ultimate examples of Edomite-versus Jew persecution occurred when the Idumean Herod dynasty kings persecuted the Lord Jesus Himself, as well as Christ’s apostles.

But God’s powerful judgment shall eventually come to Earth, including to Edom, as part of the larger judgment that occurs on the “Day of the LORD”, a horrendous time of punitive judgment (which includes the battle of Armageddon).


Thankfully, Church Age believers will not be eye-witnesses to the horrific bloodshed and maiming and death that will dominate the Day of the LORD.(3)  

However, many of Esau’s progeny, formerly called Edom (and God knows who and where they are today, most likely living in Jordan and part of Saudi Arabia), are doomed to pay for their sin.  This (in concert with many other moving parts) ushers in God’s planned 1000-year era, when “the kingdom shall be the LORD‘s.”



(1) David Olander, The Greatness of the Day of the Lord and Christ’s Kingdom (Hurst, TX: Tyndale Seminary Press, 2017), especially pages 57-67.

(2) James J. S. Johnson, “Hawks and Eagles Launching Skyward”, Acts & Facts, 47(4):21 (April 2018), posted at . This article cites Obadiah 1:4 in footnote #3.  See also James J. S. Johnson, “‘E’ is for Eagles and Eiders:  ‘E’ Birds, Part 1”, Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures Plus, 10-24-AD2016, posted at .

(3) See 1st Thessalonians 1:9-10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:16-17; 5:1-5 & 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-3, explained in David Olander, The Greatness of the Day of the Lord and Christ’s Kingdom (Hurst, TX: Tyndale Seminary Press, 2017), pages 11-13.



Beitzel, Barry J. The Moody Atlas of Bible Lands (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1985).

Hindson, Edward E., & Daniel R. Mitchell, editors. Zondervan King James Version Commentary – Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 2010).

Jensen, Irving L. “Obadiah” (pages 17-26), in his Minor Prophets of Judah  (Chicago, IL:  Moody Press, 1975).

Johnson, James J. S., “Hawks and Eagles Launching Skyward”, Acts & Facts, 47(4):21 (April 2018), posted at .

James J. S. Johnson, “‘E’ is for Eagles and Eiders:  ‘E’ Birds, Part 1”, Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures Plus, 10-24-AD2016, posted at .

Olander, David. The Greatness of the Day of the Lord and Christ’s Kingdom (Hurst, TX: Tyndale Seminary Press, 2017), especially pages 57-67.


Redwing Pond

Redwing Pond was named for its redwinged blackbirds, which loved the pondshore’s cattails.

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water?  (Job 8:11)

Wetlands are defined by their mix of hydrophilic plants (such as “rush” and “flags” and cattails), wetland hydrology, and hydric soils.  And redwinged blackbirds love cattails.


In fact, years ago, an institution of Christian education was named for red-winged blackbirds that frequented a cattail-rimmed pond, in the cross timbers habitat region of northern Texas.  See comment to posting (about pond-side Wood Storks, foraging in Florida) in December of AD2016   —  specifically, the comment posted at   —   for listing of Redwood Pond Institute / Cross Timbers Institute departments.


When in Scotland, Eat Well!

When In Scotland, Eat Well!

Nevertheless He [i.e., God] left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and He gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.  (Acts 14:17)


Good food is a proof of God’s providential care and power, as Acts 14:17 indicates.  [See my analysis, of this truth, in “Our Daily Bread:  How Food Proves God’s Providence”, ACTS & FACTS, 40(4):8-9 (April 2011), posted at .]

So, here is my Scottish-memories limerick, to help me recall some wonderful food that I ate while in Scotland, including many “full Scottish breakfast” buffets (with hot black teas), plus gourmet later-in-the-day treasures like Norway Lobster (a/k/a “Langoustine”, Nephrops norvegicus  —  a marine crustacean resembling a mini-lobster, i.e., a crawfish that tastes somewhat like a prawn-sized shrimp), haggis (which looks like a large egg roll — and tastes like Pennsylvania Dutch scrapple), venison, Isle of Mull mussels, scones (with clotted cream),  sea scallops (e.g., “Queenies”), salmon, haddock (as part of “fish and chips”), haggis-&-cracked-black-pepper potato chips, Irn-Bru ice cream, and more!


Recalling Scottish Cuisine, in the Highlands & Hebrides

Scallops, haggis, fish and chips

Are well welcomed by my lips;

Norway lobster, steak of deer,

Scones and tea  give me cheer;

Scallops, haggis, fish and chips!

[writ by JJSJ while leaving Scotland, 21st July AD2019]


Psalm 145:8-16, “The Case of the Missing Nûn”

Psalm 145:8-16,  “The Case of the Missing Nûn” 

(An Exegetical Study)

James J. S. Johnson, JD, ThD


PSALM 145:8-16 

 חַנּ֣וּן וְרַח֣וּם יְהוָ֑ה אֶ֥רֶךְ אַ֝פַּ֗יִם וּגְדָל־חָֽסֶד׃
9 טוֹב־יְהוָ֥ה לַכֹּ֑ל וְ֝רַחֲמָ֗יו עַל־כָּל־מַעֲשָֽׂיו׃
10 יוֹד֣וּךָ יְ֭הוָה כָּל־מַעֲשֶׂ֑יךָ וַ֝חֲסִידֶ֗יךָ יְבָרֲכֽוּכָה׃
11 כְּב֣וֹד מַלְכוּתְךָ֣ יֹאמֵ֑רוּ וּגְבוּרָתְךָ֥ יְדַבֵּֽרוּ׃
12 לְהוֹדִ֤יעַ׀ לִבְנֵ֣י הָ֭אָדָם גְּבוּרֹתָ֑יו וּ֝כְב֗וֹד הֲדַ֣ר מַלְכוּתֽוֹ׃
13 מַֽלְכוּתְךָ֗ מַלְכ֥וּת כָּל־עֹֽלָמִ֑ים וּ֝מֶֽמְשֶׁלְתְּךָ֗ בְּכָל־דּ֥וֹר וָדֽוֹר׃
14 סוֹמֵ֣ךְ יְ֭הוָה לְכָל־הַנֹּפְלִ֑ים וְ֝זוֹקֵ֗ף לְכָל־הַכְּפוּפִֽים׃
15 עֵֽינֵי־כֹ֭ל אֵלֶ֣יךָ יְשַׂבֵּ֑רוּ וְאַתָּ֤ה נֽוֹתֵן־לָהֶ֖ם אֶת־אָכְלָ֣ם בְּעִתּֽוֹ׃
16 פּוֹתֵ֥חַ אֶת־יָדֶ֑ךָ וּמַשְׂבִּ֖יעַ לְכָל־חַ֣י רָצֽוֹן׃


  1. Verification of Biblical Text and its English Translation:

The above-quoted text is taken from the Westminster Leningrad Codex (“WLC”) of the Hebrew Bible.  There is no serious controversy about the Masoretic Hebrew text of Psalm 145.  However, some Old Testament sources (and some textual analysts) differ with the Masoretic  Text of verse 13, because it deviates from the otherwise-perfect acrostic structure of Psalm 145.  In other words, the structure of Psalm 145 follows the exact sequence of the Hebrew alphabet’s 22 letters with one exception – the Hebrew letter for N (nûn) is missing!  What explains that?

The obvious question is: why would an otherwise perfectly acrostic psalm have only 21 verses, with each verse beginning with the next Hebrew alphabet letter, except for N (nûn)?

Many textual analysts (typically “critical text” advocates), as well as a few modern English translations (including the New International Version, Revised Standard Version of 1952, Holman Christian Standard Version of 2003), have attempted to “correct” this apparent omission – based upon their self-asserted assumption that the psalmist could not possibly have intended to omit one letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

The skipped-nûn text of Psalm 145, provided in the Masoretic Text – and retained in the Judaica Press Tanach (of 1917, 1936, and 2001) – is followed by the King James Bible, Bishops’ Bible of 1568, Coverdale Bible of 1535, Geneva Bible of 1599, Darby translation, Spanish Reina Valera versions of 1602-1995, as well as many other translations.[1]

But, as will be shown below, that unwarranted assumption has resulted in committing the Pharisaic error of adding to God’s Word, an arrogant practice prohibited by Deuteronomy 4:2.  In trying to (supposedly) “correct” the Biblical text, by supplying a “fitting” phrase to complete the acrostic, the originally intentional omission’s poignant message is forfeited.[2]  (This will be discussed, below.)

So, how have some ancient (and not-so-ancient) sources tried to “correct” the missing nûn?

Although it might seem better to discuss two New Testament passages later in this analysis, those two passages are nonetheless inserted here because they both help to introduce analytical missteps taken by several who have analyzed Psalm 145:13. Specifically, said missteps are based upon the insistent (and unwarranted) assumption that an almost-perfect acrostic psalm (with a missing nûn) “must” reflect a “copyist’s omission” (i.e., a failure in textual preservation and/or transmission), as opposed to possibly being the intentional omission by the human author (David) – due to an intentional almost-perfect acrostic was ultimately intended by the divine Author (God the Holy Spirit), to emphasize something that is or was “missing”.  This concept is sometimes called employing a “loud silence”.

First example of a “loud silence” omission: the opening of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

A review of Paul’s epistles shows that Paul routinely began his correspondence with appreciation for how God was blessing his intended readers, and how Paul was praying for their spiritual growth (see, e.g., 1st Thessalonians 1:28; 1st Corinthians 1:4-9; Romans 1:8-12; Ephesians 1:15-16; Philippians 1:3-11; Colossians 1:3-9), but not so with the Galatians.

As you begin to read Paul’s letter to the Galatian Christians, you can tell immediately that something is radically wrong, because he does not open his letter with his usual praise to God and prayer for the saints. He has no time!  Paul is about to engage in a battle for the truth of the Gospel and the liberty of the Christian life.[3]

In short, by noticing the pattern of Paul’s customary beginning to his New Testament epistles, and by noticing how that beginning is “missing” (i.e., excluded) in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, provides us with an insight into a contrast – Paul deliberately departed from his usual letter-writing custom, to provide an emphatic point: the Galatians were in the worst of trouble![4]

Second example: Christ refers to human conduct in the days of Noah and Lot.

When describing the condition of people who would be unprepared when the Lord returns to Earth in glorious power and punitive judgment, the Lord Jesus Christ alluded to the contemporaries of Noah (who were judged by the Flood) and the contemporaries of Lot (who were judged in the fiery destruction of Sodom) – an did so with “loud silence” omissions.

And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.  They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.  Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded.  But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.  Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.[5]

Notice the behaviors that Christ mentioned, as characterizing the “days of Noah”: eating, drinking, and getting married.  None of these behaviors is per se wrong![6]

Christ surprisingly omitted mention of the overwhelmingly wicked and violent behaviors that dominated pre-Flood humanity (see Genesis 6:5 & 6:11-13). Likewise, when referring to Noah’s contemporaries, Christ omitted mention of the strange sexual sins that the pre-Flood population was known for, which were somehow comparable to how the Sodomites were infamous for “going after strange flesh” (compare Genesis 6:1-4 with Jude 1:6-7).  Why did Christ omit mentioning the pre-Flood perversions, corruptions, and violence?

In similar manner, notice that the behaviors that Christ mentioned, as characterizing the “days of Lot”: eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, and building.  None of these behaviors is per se wrong!  As before, when referring to Noah’s contemporaries, Christ omitted mention of the Sodomites’ perverse and prurient lust for violent and aberrant sexual abominations, a sordid and vile habit that the Sodomites of old are still remembered for today (e.g., in the English word “sodomy” – as noted in Genesis 18 & Jude 1:7).  Why did Christ omit mentioning the perversions, corruptions, and violence for which Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed?

Try to imagine the reaction of Christ’s original audience, when He spoke the words recorded in Luke 17:26-30. When the contemporaries of Noah and of Lot were so described, by Christ Himself, the “loud silences” must have been jarring – what trait was Christ condemning the antediluvians and Sodomites for?  Was it for their horribly ugly “fruits”, or for the wicked “root” of ignoring God, rejecting God, going about life in a way that excluded God and His Word?

The point here is that Christ surprisingly omitted what His audience expected to hear, and He accomplished this dramatically by a conspicuous omission of what was expected “in context”. Having recognized that there is Scriptural precedent for the usage of conspicuous “loud silence” omissions, a summary of other (so-called) solutions to the almost-perfect acrostic (or Psalm 145) is provided.

The lack of the נ verse has caused some to question whether the verse may have fallen out of the Masoretic Text of the Psalm due to scribal error. They seek to justify this view on the basis that the נ [nûn] verse is found in one medieval Hebrew manuscript, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint and the Syriac.

Indeed, some modern versions, such as the ESV and NIV, add the supposed missing נ verse to Psalm 145 because of its presence in these witnesses. However, we believe that the omission of the נ verse is intentional and not at all due to scribal error, and that the evidence for the proposed נ verse is insubstantial and the verse is rightly omitted.[7]

There is only one medieval Hebrew manuscript that includes an extra phrase, to complete the alphabetic acrostic (saying “the LORD is faithful to all His promises, and loving towards all He has made” – the Hebrew text of which begins with the word ne’emân, the singular masculine  niphal participle form of the verb ’aman, “to be firm”/“to affirm”, i.e., “to be faithful”), yet even that manuscript (in Dublin’s Trinity College) only includes the extra phrase as a marginal writing on the bottom of the page, and appears to be a gratuitous redundancy of Verse 17.

[At Dublin’s Trinity College] there is … one medieval Hebrew manuscript. The נ verse appears in this manuscript as:

 נאמן יהוה  בכל  דבריו וחסיד  בכול מעשיו    

[The LORD is faithful in all his words and holy in all his works]

However, this verse does not appear where it might reasonably be expected in the body of the text, but rather at the bottom of the manuscript page, as if it were a suggested correction of the text. Additionally, the proposed verse is similar in its first part and identical in its second part to v17:

צדיק יהוה בכל דרכיו וחסיד בכול מעשיו     

[The LORD is righteous in all his ways and holy in all his works] [8]

Thus, the inclusion of the verse introduces a repetition into the Psalm which otherwise does not contain any repetition. Redundancy, as a repeating emphasis, does sometimes occur in the Psalms.  However, the redundancy that occurs, when this “extra nûn verse” is inserted, does not fit with any contextual pattern of repetition in Psalm 145.  Thus, the extra verse insertion “cures” one anomaly of form, only to introduce an unnecessary anomaly of content!

Also, the Dead Sea Scrolls avoid the awkward omission by including this extra phrase (“saving” the alphabetic acrostic’s “need” for an N, by inserting a phrase that begins with the Hebrew word ne’emân [“faithful”]), but the Dead Sea Scrolls variant doesn’t square with the solitary variant held by Dublin’s Trinity College.

[Regarding the variant reading of Psalm 145:13 found in] the Hebrew Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) … the verse appears as follows:

נאמן אלוהים בדרכיו וחסיד בכול מעשיו    

(God is faithful in his ways and holy in all his works)

There are a number of differences between this verse [Psalm 145:13] in the DSS and the one found in the medieval Hebrew manuscript. The name of God is different, being God ( אלוהים ) rather than LORD ( יהוה ). This is significant since the name of God which is used throughout the Psalm in similar expressions is LORD ( יהוה ) and not God ( אלוהים ): ‘great is the LORD’, ‘the LORD is gracious and full of compassion’, ‘the LORD is good’; indeed, in the very next verse after the supposed missing נ verse, the reading is ‘the LORD upholdeth’. Other differences between the manuscript and the DSS readings are: ‘his ways’ in the DSS as opposed to the Hebrew manuscript ‘his words’, and the omission in the DSS of the word ‘all’, which the Hebrew manuscript includes.[9]

In other words, the Dead Sea Scrolls variant, which includes an “extra nûn verse”, won’t match up with the only medieval Hebrew manuscript that has an “extra nûn verse”.   (In forensic contexts, such as courtroom trials, this does not look good for the two conflicting witnesses  — whose conflicting testimony notably disagrees with the vast majority of “regular” witnesses.)

According to the apparatus in Kittel’s (1973) Stuttgart-printed edition of Biblica Hebraica, this same inserted “extra nûn verse” is also found in some Syriac and Septuagint translation copies, though apparently not all copies of those translations.[10]  Regarding the Septuagint Greek translation’s variant (in Psalm 145:13), Larry Brigden notices worse problems with the Septuagint rendering.

The rendering of the supposed נ verse in the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament dating from the second century BC) is:

πιστος κυριος εν τοις λογοις αυτου και οσιος εν πασι τοις εργοις αυτου

 (The Lord is faithful in his words and holy in all his works)

The Septuagint differs in the first part of the verse from the Hebrew manuscript, simply having ‘his words’ rather than the Hebrew’s ‘all his words’. In addition, the Septuagint has ‘his words’ as opposed to the DSS’s ‘his ways’.[11]

Once again, the irregular witnesses – who try to insert an “extra nûn verse” to complete the alphabetic acrostic — can’t get their “stories” to match.

Likewise, appealing to the non-Lamsa Syriac translation variant, which includes yet another variant alternative “extra nûn verse”, provides yet another inconsistent “witness” against the Masoretic Text’s transmission of Psalm 145.

The Syriac translation of the נ verse has:

The Lord is faithful in his words and righteous in all his works.

There is a significant difference between this version and the Hebrew manuscript, the DSS and the Septuagint in the second part of the verse: the Syriac has ‘righteous’, whereas the other three textual witnesses have ‘holy’. As seen from this survey of the [variant] witnesses to the supposed missing נ verse, it is evident that there is no consistent testimony about the reading, but clear disagreement among themselves. This is commonly an indication that a verse is spurious.[12]

Thus, the non-Lamsa Syriac variant further demonstrates that the few-and-far-between efforts, of some textual handlers, to supply an “extra nûn verse” are not rooted in an underlying Hebrew original.  Having reviewed the rare and completely inconsistent variants, the question remains: if God intentionally omitted to include a “nûn verse”, why? How is the message of Psalm 145 furthered by such a literary surprise?

Just as the departure from Paul’s customary correspondence structure gave emphasis to the alarm and danger that he proclaimed to the Galatians, — and just as Christ’s allusions to the ordinary business-as-usual attitudes, in the pre-Flood and Sodomite populations, were surprising descriptions to Christ’s Jewish audiences, — omitting the nûn, in the almost-perfect alphabetic acrostic of Psalm 145, would arrest the (anticipated) Jewish reader with the question: why?

Larry Brigden, senior editorial consultant for the Trinitarian Bible Society, suggests [see Footnote #7] that David is contrasting his own fallibility with the infallibility of God.

“Psalm 145 shows the same deliberate variation from the normal form of the acrostic pattern for an intended purpose. The Psalm is one of praise to God. The acrostic pattern is probably chosen to bring to bear the full resources of the Hebrew language upon this expression of praise. It is to be full-orbed praise where every letter of the Hebrew alphabet evokes a Hebrew word which strikes a new chord in that praise. So verse 3 is ג and the Psalmist thinks of גדול (‘great’), ‘great is the LORD’; verse 9 is ט and the Psalmist thinks of טוב (‘good’), ‘the LORD is good’, and so on. When he comes to verse 13, the letter is מ and the Psalmist thinks of מלכותך (‘thy kingdom’), ‘thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom’. This verse completes a distinct section of the Psalm and is a climax point in the Psalm.

The last part of Psalm 145 begins at verse 14 and continues to the end of the Psalm, in which David praises the Lord for His condescending love. The Psalmist had to decide how to begin this section.

The next letter in the alphabet is נ; what word would this evoke for the Psalmist?

נפל (‘fall’ or ‘fail’) perhaps?

But the Lord does not ‘fall’ or ‘fail’. It is men who ‘fall’ and ‘fail’. So what does the Psalmist do? He makes a striking point by omitting the נ verse and then writing the next verse, the ס (samekh) verse, as:


Every Hebrew reader of the Psalm will notice something striking at this point: it is the Psalmist himself who ‘falls’ ( נפל ) in the omission of the נ verse.

What more graphic way to highlight the frailty of men and the condescending love of God than by omitting the נ verse and following with a verse that speaks of the Lord upholding ‘all that fall’ [lecâl hannōphlîm]?   The structure of the Psalm ‘chimes’, as it were, to the thought expressed by the words of the Psalm. Thus, the omission of the נ verse is deliberate and for an intended effect, an effect that relies on a slight variation from an otherwise closely followed acrostic form.  [Quoting Larry Brigden, footnote #7]

The purpose of the variation, or apparent irregularity, from the normal acrostic form is not the same in all acrostic Psalms, but Psalms 25 and 145 plainly demonstrate that such variation is a deliberate literary device employed for a particular purpose. Clearly, if the Psalmist chooses the acrostic pattern for a purpose, any variation from that pattern is also likely to be for a purpose.”  [Quoting Larry Bridgen  —  see Footnote #7]

So why would the Hebrew verb naphal (“to fall”, i.e., to fail) be a key to solving this alphabet-linked riddle?

Remember, this psalm is uniquely about David’s life of praise to God.  It is not a mizmôr (“praise-song”) authored for the choirmaster, or for the sons of Korah to sing.

Rather, this is the only tehillâh “praise” psalm that David ever wrote—this psalm is quite personal to David’s life of worship.

It is true that David was, for the most part, a “man after God’s heart” (1st Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), yet there was a period of David’s life that failed to worship God (2nd Samuel chapter 11).  That chapter of David’s life is forgiven (Psalm 51), so it is not replayed to David’s shame in eternity.

However, that sin-stained timeframe, of that shameful chapter in David’s life, is a prolonged loss of opportunity to worship God. As a worshiper of God, with temporal opportunities to honor Him, David failed — and those times of failure are now lost forever. (David is a fair representative of all of us – time-wasting sinners – in this tragic respect.)

Those times of sin (for David, and for us), which appeared pleasant “for a season” – those earthly hours and days and weeks – were wasted, and they are forever missing.  (What is not stored up in Heaven, as eternal treasure, perishes (Matthew 6:20).

When David fell (naphal) he lived human experiences that are erased by God’s forgiveness – but those hours cannot count as worship hours; those days were not productive of treasures laid up in Heaven, immune from rust, moths, or thieves.  They are gone.


Even so, God restores the fallen (Psalm 145:14). This is a hidden-in-plain-view precious gem – if not the most precious theological jewel – within this very personal psalm of David.

In sum, the preponderance of the relevant and reliable evidence shows that the Masoretic Text rendering of Psalm 145 (and of Psalm 145:8-16 in particular) is a faithful transmission of the original text of David’s very personal praise, the tehillâh of Psalm 145.

2. Understanding Literary/Historical Background and Context:

Psalm 145 is a psalm of King David, so it was written about 1000BC.   As noted above, Psalm 145’s literary purpose (as the Hebrew text of its first verse uniquely indicates) is to provide David’s very personal praise (tehillâh) of the LORD, with a blending of God’s greatness as the transcendent holy God He is (Psalm 145:1-7) with God’s mercy-filled goodness to humans like David, who continues with personal gratitude for God’s grace and salvation (Psalm 145:8-21).

Like many (though not all) of the psalms, it focuses on true worship: praising the true God.  However, Psalm 145 has a unique message:  it is David’s personal appreciation for God’s greatness (God’s glory as God, the God of all creation) and God’s special goodness to David (God’s benevolent care of David, as David’s very personal God).

Part of the historical-biographical background, that appears relevant to understanding this passage (Psalm 145:8-16), is the overall trend of David’s life (1st Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), with recognition that David’s life did have one major interruption of very serious sin (2nd Samuel chapter 11) which is now redemptively forgiven and erased – thanks to Christ our Savior — from God’s record-books (Psalm 51; Luke 10:20).  During that time in David’s life he was “AWOL” (“away without leave”) from God’s holy service.  Being “out of service” is a waste of precious Earth-time, and it has other tragic consequences too.

Parallelism in Psalm 145 (discussed at length below) likewise provides other content comparisons that help readers to discern other important details within the text of the psalm.

3. Identification of Literary Structure of the Book:

Psalms appears to be internally divided into five series of chapters: (a) 1-41; (b) 42-72; (c) 73-89; (d) 90-106; (e) 107-145; plus a five-chapter “grand finale” epilogue (146-150), based upon repeating doxology closure verses (which act as literary dividers, somewhat like the toledôth divisions in Genesis) that occurs at Psalms 41:13; 72:19; 89:52; 106:48; and 145:21.[13]  If these five sections correspond to the five books of Moses, as ancient Jewish commentators have guessed, Psalm 110 would belongs to the fifth section that corresponds to Deuteronomy.[14]

One overarching literary theme, repeatedly developed throughout all of the Psalms, is that God’s glory is shown (and thus should be rightly recognized by humans) in and through conflict.

Psalm 145 explicitly identifies itself as the only tehillâh psalm “of David”.[15]  Psalm 145, as a tehillâh psalm, contrasts with the “song”-psalms (i.e., psalms introduced as mizmôr psalms) such as the first Hebrew verses (which are often denoted as a “title” in English translation, obscuring the fact that the original Hebrew text includes phrases that English translations render as editorial-appearing “titles”) in Psalm 24, 29, 30, 31, 38, 39, 40, 41, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 73, 75, 76, 77, 79, 80, 82, 83, 84, 85, 87, 88, 92, 98, 100, 101, 108, 109, 110, 139, 140, 141, and 143.[16]

Not all of the Psalms were authored by David, although David is the most frequently named author (of those whose human author is known).[17]

The fact that David was the human co-author of Psalm 145, and that the Holy Spirit was the divine co-author of Psalm 145, is accented by the first verse in the Hebrew text of Psalm 145, which begins: “a praise of David”.

4. Identification of Grammatical and Syntactical Keys:

The entire book of Psalms has the literary form of Hebrew poetry – which means its content is presented in paralleled sentences.[18]

English poetry is defined by its verbal “hardware,” with the delivery of its pronounced sounds identifying the text as poetry. Hebrew poetry, however, is defined by its “software,” its verbal information and meaning, which is presented with parallelism of thought, not sound.

In short, Hebrew poetry is defined by parallelism in meaning, whereas English poetry is defined by the format of verse and sound (such as rhyme and meter). This is easier to illustrate than to explain. Consider the below examples of both kinds of poetry.

Example of English poetry, using a limerick rhyme and meter format.

Some Get a “Bang” Out of Fables

The Bible, to read, some are able,

Yet prefer to read a false fable;

            Though God’s Word says “six days,”

            A “Big Bang” gets their praise,

Their doctrine, therefore, is unstable.1

Verses of English poetry routinely rely on rhyme. In limerick poems, the rhyme pattern is AA, BB, A (because able, fable, and unstable all rhyme, as do days and praise). Other poems often use other patterns, but almost without exception some kind of rhyme is used to identify English verse-based literature as poetry.

English poetry, being dominated by sound, also relies on meter, the rhythmic “beat” of a poem. The number of stressed syllables in all A lines should match, as should those in the B lines. One English tradition uses iambic pentameter, employed by English poets John Donne, William Shakespeare, and John Milton.2 Note that rhyme and rhythm neither provide nor depend upon a poem’s meaning.

Unlike the rhyme and rhythm of English poetry, Hebrew poetry is defined by informational parallelism—parallelism of meaning.3 The paralleled thoughts may emphasize good and bad, wise and unwise, reverent and blasphemous. They may or may not recount historical events, although time and place, if mentioned at all, are less emphasized than in narrative prose. This informational parallelism―using comparative lines and phrases―portrays similarities and/or contrasts, or comparisons of whole and part, or some other kind of logical associations of meaning.

Knowing this linguistic trait helps us to correctly read biblical Hebrew poetry. Since such poetry requires complementation of meaning (not sound), both halves of a verbal parallelism must be reviewed together as a complementary unit in order to understand fully what either half means, as well as to understand how they complement each other in meaning. Almost always the paralleled lines come in pairs,4 but sometimes a triplet is used.5

Major examples of Hebrew poetry in the Old Testament are Psalms, Proverbs, Lamentations, and Song of Solomon—but not Genesis.

Example of Hebrew poetry, illustrating parallelisms of both similarity and contrast.

Psalm 104:29   Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled:
thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.

Psalm 104:30   Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created:
and thou renewest the face of the earth.

Note how both lines in verse 29 show parallel similarity of meaning, as do both lines in verse 30. Yet verse 29 informationally contrasts with verse 30—verse 29 tells how God controls the death of certain creatures (like leviathan, mentioned in verse 26), but verse 30 tells how God controls the life of His creatures. In order to get the full meaning of either verse 29 or verse 30, the total parallelism must be appreciated. This is the hallmark of Hebrew poetry.

For another example, read any chapter in Proverbs. They are dominated by parallelism of meaning, verse after verse. Sometimes the parallelism spreads over consecutive verses, as in Proverbs 28:15-16 (“wicked ruler” in verse 15; “the prince” who is a “great oppressor” in verse 16). Sometimes the parallelism is condensed within one verse, as in Proverbs 28:28 (“when the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase”). Parallelism dominates the informational structure of Hebrew poetry. Careful reading cannot miss it.[19]

In sum, Hebrew poetry is recognized by the parallelism used to convey the author’s message. Accordingly, the text of Psalm 145 implements Hebrew parallelism to convey its God-honoring message.  This parallelism in Psalm 145:8-16 can be diagrammed as follows:

The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.

The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

The LORD being “gracious” and the LORD being “good to all” provides parallel thought. Likewise, God’s “compassion” (which includes being “slow to anger” and being “of great mercy”) matches the fact that His “tender mercies are over all His works”.

10 All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee.

The LORD is to be praised by all His works; He is to be blessed by His saints. Although all of God’s works will glorify Him, one way or another, voluntarily or involuntarily — yet surely God’s own people should lead in lauding Him as He is due!

And what should we glorify and praise God for? God should be lauded for His powerful deeds and for His majestic splendor!

11 They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power, 12 to make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom.

13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.

Verse 11-12 complement Verse 13 – God’s people shall speak of His glorious kingdom, His power, and His rule over humanity is both glorious and never-ending. As David refers to God’s “kingdom”, and the “glorious majesty” of God’s reign, David can compare God’s kingship (which is absolutely perfect in every way) with David’s own mortal and limited and imperfect  experiences as an earthly king.  This is a sober comparison.

This involves a “bump” in David’s otherwise doxologically prioritized journey – verse 14.

David appears to be recalling how God’s rulership over the affairs of men and women (including their sexual “affairs”) include how God deals with moral failings. (So David’s lost opportunity to praise God, during the time when David was “out of service”, appears as a “missing” letter in the otherwise-complete “alphabet” of David’s life as God’s man.)

But there is hope! God is gracious, God is merciful, God restores the repentant sinner!

14 The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.

Verses 15-16 continue to focus on David’s restored life, as God’s man. David recognizes that God is the ultimate provider of all that is needful and good. God gives us what is truly valuable, for this life and for life hereafter all “in due season”.[20]

15 The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. 

16 Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.

Obviously David is serious about living a life of worship!

In sum, the parallel structure of Psalm 145’s verses begin with David extoling God, with parallel content blending God’s transcendent greatness (verses 1-7), followed by a more personal appreciation for Who God is – to David – and how believers (like David) need to appreciate and praise God now and hereafter (verses 8-21).

5. Identification of Lexical Keys (i.e., Biblical word studies):

Several Hebrew words are especially noteworthy in Psalm 145:8-16. As noted above, Psalm 145 is uniquely titled (in the original Hebrew text) as a tihellâh of David, in contrast to the many psalms which are titled as “praise-songs” (singular mizmôr) of David.  That lexical uniqueness alone show grab our attention, prompting us to investigate how (and why) Psalm 145 is different from every other Davidic psalms that is titled as a “praise” psalm.

The word “praise” (as used in the Old Testament) routinely translates one of several Hebrew verbs: barâk (also translated “to bless”), halâl (usually in the piêl form), zamâr (also translated “to sing”), yadâh (“to praise”, with the connotation of stretching out the hands, usually in the hiphîl form), and shabâḥ (“to laud”, usually in the piêl form, with the Aramaic equivalent verb being shebâḥ).[21]

Of these verbs, barâk is used about 330 times (usually translated “bless”),[22] halâl is used about 165 times (usually translated as “to praise” or “to glory”),[23] zamâr is used about 50 times (usually translated “to sing praises”), [24] yadâh is used about 111 times (usually translated “to praise” or “to give thanks”), [25] shabâḥ is used about 11 times (usually translated “to praise”),[26] and shebâḥ is used 5 times (always translated as “to praise”) [27]

Since only Psalm 145 is explicitly titled as David’s psalm of tehillah (Psalm 145:1, Hebrew text), it is useful to see how related words are translated into English.  The root verb, of course, is halâl (usually in the piêl form, translated as “to praise” or “to glory”).  The singular noun tehillah usually appears, yet sometimes the plural form (tehillim) is used (e.g., Isaiah 60:6).

The usages of the Hebrew verb halâl – in the poêl [active participle] form (e.g., Job 12:17; Ecclesiastes 7:7; Isaiah 44:25), and in the puâl [passive intensive] form (e.g., Proverbs 12:8; Psalms 78:63), and in the hithpaêl [reflexive] form (e.g., Psalm 97:7; Proverbs 25:4) — emphasize that “glorying” means to manifest the true character/nature of whoever or whatever is doing the “glorying” – for good or for bad.[28]

In other words, a fool who “glories” in falsity (e.g., Isaiah 44:25; Psalm 97:7; Proverbs 25:4) shows the deluded folly and vainglory by which his empty character has become characterized. A fool glories in his folly.  God’s glory, however, is always virtuous and holy – He is manifested in His holiness, His goodness, His justice, His compassion, His righteousness, His grace, His faithfulness, His truthfulness, His omnipotence, His omniscience, His omnipresence, His creativity, His beauty, His love, etc., etc., etc.!

6. Identification of Biblical Context (e.g., book’s purpose/theme):

The Book of Psalms is “sepher tehillim”, literally the “book of praises”.  But, as noted before, the context of Psalms is that God is being praised (and is glorifying Himself, so that we can learn more about Who He really is) amidst and in the aftermath of huge conflicts.

Why? The universe is at war, as is illustrated by Psalm 1 and Psalm 2, between those who revere God (the “godly”) and those who don’t (the “ungodly”).  It is wise to be godly!  It is sinfully stupid to be ungodly. The end of the ungodly is ruin and doom; the destiny of the godly is goodness. The poetic lyrics of the Psalms provide praise-songs that equip the believer for spiritual-mindedness and godly living (see Colossians 3:16). God’s great and holy deeds, which show His great and holy character, prove that He alone is worthy of worship and exaltation on earth as in Heaven.

Obviously, God’s glory is best presented in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly, the Book of Psalms testify of Jesus (Luke 24:44), and some of the Psalms are overtly Messianic in prophetic content, e.g., Psalm 2 (which is quoted in Acts 13:33), and Psalm 22 (which is quoted in Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:43), and in Psalm 45 (which is quoted in Hebrews 1:8), and in Psalm 102 (which is quoted in Hebrews 1:10-12).

7. Identification of Theological Context (as related to themes):

David’s “Lord” – the Lord Jesus Christ – is recognized as ascended and exalted to the throne of God, at God’s right hand, to sit there till His enemies are made into a “footstool” for Him. Quite obviously, the timeframe for this heavenly exaltation of Christ must be after His resurrection and ascension.

It is David’s Lord (i.e., the LORD, Who has chosen to give faithful mercies to David and to all who are forgiven in Christ) Who forgave David, the sinner, for David’s failings. This is the hidden-in-plain-view lesson of the almost-perfect alphabetic acrostic of Psalm 145.

As the Epistle to the Hebrews emphasizes (in chapters 5, 6, and 7) this immortal and heavenly priesthood of Christ contrasts with the mortal and earthly priesthoods of the sons of Aaron.  This distinction should not be a problem for dispensationalists, because they are routinely sensitive to the difference in roles that Christ has in relation to Israel, to the Church, and to the rest of the world.  But this distinction is often lost to those who use “replacement theology” to commingle prophecies about Israel with prophecies about the Gentile-dominated Church, as they fail to distinguish between Christ’s earthly throne in Jerusalem (which is yet future) as Israel’s King, and Christ’s heavenly throne (where He sits now, and will continue to sit till His enemies are “positioned” into His footstool) at God the Father’s right hand.

The theological importance of Christ’s present throne (and His being seated there) is emphasized in Hebrews chapters 9 and 10, as judicial proof that His self-sacrifice sufficiently satisfied the need to pay for human sins once for all.

What is our real “glory” as Adam’s children, redeemed in Christ?  What kind of creatures are we, truly, when we are at our best?  It is our great privilege to know God, and to make Him known to others:  “That, according as it is written, ‘he that glorieth, let him glory in the LORD’.” (1st Corinthians 1:31, quoting from Jeremiah 9:23-24).  Notice that Paul quoted from the prophet Jeremiah, to show what real glory is – for a child of Adam.

The fuller quotation from Jeremiah 9:23-24 reads: “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches, but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.”

It is our glory, therefore, “to understand and to know the LORD”, and to appreciate how He is a God of lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in all the earth! That is what it means to “glory in the LORD”!  What a Savior we have!  Although we fail Him (as David did), He is nonetheless faithful as our sustaining Creator, our Redeemer, Shepherding, and Advocate.

8. Secondary Verification (i.e., considering the views of others):

The intentional omission of the Hebrew letter nûn – in Psalm 145:13 – has been noticed by others (e.g., Larry Brigden, who has cited and quoted before[29]) who do not jump to the hasty conclusion that the original text was somehow bungled by Masoretic Text copyist-scribes.

9. Development of Exposition (verse-by-verse commentary):

Verses 8-9: The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy; the Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

After objectively emphasizing God’s greatness (e.g., the glorious honor of His majesty, His wondrous works, etc.), David’s objectivity shifts somewhat to personal subjectivity – God is David’s God. Many of God’s created works display His wisdom, His power, and His creativity – such as the sun, the moon, and the stars (see Genesis 1:16-18), but David knows God in a relational way that emphasizes God’s character as the God Who is “gracious” (ḥannûn), full of “compassion” (raḥûm), and of faithful “mercy” (ḥesed).  Although God has a right to be angry with our sinful failings He is “slow to anger” (’apayîm).

David personally experienced God’s kindness, God’s compassion, and God’s faithful mercies (which Jeremiah alludes to in Lamentations 3:22-23), and so do we! – all because Christ has provided us with propitiation for our sins, redemption that liberates our souls, and reconciliation that overcomes our spiritual alienation from the life of God. How often God has a right to be angry with our selfishness, our ingratitude, our covetousness, yet He forbears – we can rejoice (Luke 10:20) that God is slow to anger and quick to restore us to the abundant life that we can only have in Him (John 10:10).

Verse 10: All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee. 

In this verse David moves from the general to the particular, from the universal to the personal. One way or another, voluntarily or involuntarily, all of God’s creation will honor Him – perhaps in mercy, perhaps in judgment, perhaps in showing His power, perhaps in showing His providential care – but all of God’s works will accomplish some kind of glorification of God.

Why? Because glorifying God means manifesting Who He is, what kind of God He is, and what kind of deeds He chooses to do – and all of His creation is ultimately His property, which He utilizes as He is revealing Himself to the sentient creatures He has chosen to create (including us!).  Yet is it only His “holy ones” (a/k/a “saints”) who can enjoy God’s glory, because all who sin and go unredeemed cannot enjoy God’s holiness and justice.

Fallen angels will learn God’s judgment but they cannot enjoy its application to their doomed souls. Likewise, unsaved humans will learn of God’s glory – His holiness, His righteousness, His wisdom, His justice – but they cannot enjoy God’s glory in their doomed destinies.  But the elect angels, as well as the redeemed of Adam’s race, can enjoy God’s glory – imperfectly in time (because we are hindered by sin in and around us) and perfectly in eternity (when sin is completely removed from Heaven and Earth by Christ).

However, the righteous angels can only observe God’s redemptive grace in Christ – only forgiven sinners (like us) can personally experience the glory of redemptively belonging to Christ as personal Redeemer (Luke 10:20; Revelation 5:9) – and can bless Him accordingly.

Verses 11-12: They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power, to make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom.

As noted above, it is the high honor of God’s redeemed children “to know God and to make Him known” to others. It is our privilege to tell others how great our Creator is, how wise His providence is as He sovereignly rules His creation, and how caringly He loves those for whom Christ sacrificed.  This is part of the privilege and responsibility of being an older member of a multi-generational (extended) family – the opportunity to tell posterior generations of God is a fast-fleeting obligation to be used before it is gone.  As indicated in in fulfillment of Psalm 102:18 and 2nd Corinthians 5:17, it is God’s pleasure to create new lives – and to regenerate them, redemptively, in Christ.

For some of this, this can be improved by taking our family history more seriously – and using it to honor God in a grateful way.

This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD.  (Psalm 102:18)

Shakespeare’s Hamlet considered the grave question of whether to end his earthly existence with the famous words “to be, or not to be.”

Yet more basic is the underlying issue of God’s sovereign choice to create us “to be” in the first place.

If God had not chosen to make us as His creatures, we couldn’t think, reflect, or ask any questions. Thankfully God chose otherwise and uniquely created each of us.1 Yet how much do we really enjoy knowing and appreciating God as our personal Creator?

Origins matter.1 Over 150 years ago Darwin’s “natural selection” theory usurped Genesis truth, and the ubiquitous influences of evolutionary mythology have since distracted many from valuing God as their magnificent and multi-generational Creator.2

Does Genesis guide your thinking about your personal origins, including your own family history? How was God working prior to and when He biogenetically knit you together using nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA blueprints? Indubitably God deserves praise for His authorship of our vast genealogical heritages (Psalm 139).

In so many details, beyond the in-the-womb procreation of our physical bodies, we owe gratitude to God for our lives (Romans 8:28). Historical events and geographical realities are ingredients that God carefully and continuously blends to make us exactly who we are.1,2

God providentially plans and engineers the details of life that lead to genealogical relationships. God twice used agricultural conditions to graft Moab’s Ruth into the Jewish family of Naomi, so that Ruth ultimately met and married Naomi’s kinsman Boaz, who became Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer (Ruth 1:1, 6). And God has used family history to fulfill biblical prophecy.3

The value of family history, if appreciated from a Genesis perspective, is truly priceless. It should be learned, treasured, and transferred as a testimony to future generations (Psalm 102:18; Proverbs 13:22a; Daniel 5:20-23).

Since the creation revival began more than 50 years ago, the creation science community has rightly emphasized origins science in general.1 Tragically, however—for at least 200 years and due largely to secularized origins science—many creation scientists have virtually ignored forensic science-qualified study of biogenetic family history, a specialized origins science applying forensic science methodology principles.2,3

Anti-Genesis attitudes have sabotaged appreciation for God’s providential workings in our multi-generational family histories. Lamentably, God’s role as our Creator—at the personal level—has often been denied, dismissed, and/or discounted by the many voices of evolutionary thinking.1,2 No wonder today’s Christians, generally speaking, live at a “poverty level” when it comes to knowing and valuing their own family histories.

Some think Mormons have a monopoly on appreciating family history. Others, ignoring forensic science’s role in clarifying biogenetic family history, think that family history is irrelevant to origins science.2,3 Both assumptions egregiously miss the mark.

It is each Christian’s duty to appreciate God’s creatorship at a personal level. Doing so includes learning and valuing personal family history because God’s creative and praiseworthy providences determine whom each one of us is “to be, or not to be.”[30]

Try to imagine just some of the providential deeds that God needed to accomplish just so you (or I) could be born the specific individual He fore-ordained you (or me) to be. Then add to that the providential workings that He orchestrated in order to provide us with the saving Gospel of Christ, so that you (or I could become a believer in Christ, with eternal life (John 3:16).

Verse 13: Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.

Again David is considering the multi-generational reality of God’s reign over the affairs of mankind. God’s rule was not that of a human lifespan, as David’s reign was.  Rather, God rules always, everywhere.  God’s rulership is universal, at all times and in all places.

Even those who defy God are ultimately being ruled by God, even while God gives them a limited time and space to be rebellious (before the Lake of Fire becomes their permanent destiny). As Dr. Martin Luther once said, even Satan is under God’s ultimate control – he may be the devil but he is God’s devil!  (For example, consider the early chapters of the book of Job, to see how Satan must ask permission of God, to be allowed to cause specific kinds of trouble.)

Verse 14: The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.

This is the focal — and most controversial — verse in Psalm 145, as this analysis has already detailed (above).


The main point to notice, here (in Psalm 145:14), is that God restores His redeemed children – after they fall and fail – yet there is still something missing.  The sin is forgiven (John 1:29; 1st John 1:9), but the time wasted in sin is an opportunity lost forever.  Better to avoid sin; better to capture each opportunity to glorify God, to serve Him, and to enjoy belonging to Him.

Verses 15-16: The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.

            This verse reminds us of God’s nature sermon to Job, in chapters 38-41, especially Job 38:41, which notes that even animals depend on God for their necessary daily food.

It is God Who provides necessary food to humans and animals, even to the lowliest “creeping things” that live upon the earth.

In fact, as Acts 14:17 teaches us, God’s providential care of His creatures – which includes providing food, water, and air — is itself an immeasurably huge and unavoidably obvious proof of God’s glorious Creatorship.

Sometimes the proof that God is our Creator comes in the form of a potato, or lingonberries, or cheese, or eggs, or a codfish. Each type of food is a witness to God’s providential care. The meals consumed over a human lifetime offer a huge quantity of proof, from a huge pantry of witnesses!

God never leaves Himself without a truth witness

Food provides strong evidence of God’s wisdom and power as our Creator, as well as His goodness in providing for fallen mankind’s physical needs. In fact, the Bible teaches that the providentially programmed production of all food, anywhere and everywhere on earth, is itself a continuing proof that God is a caring Creator. The apostle Paul taught this:

And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. (Acts 14:15-17, emphasis added)

Think about God’s providence and how it is displayed on earth. God has demonstrated His immeasurable glory by His many acts of providential care for His creatures, especially humans and animals. Yet some of what God provides is so commonplace that it is routinely ignored, although that ignorance cannot negate the overwhelming proof of God’s providence.

Consider just two of those providential care evidences named above by the apostle Paul: fruitful seasons and food. Both of these blessings provide an ongoing benefit for God’s favorite creature, mankind.

The apologetics of fruitful seasons

Since the Flood, God’s historic providence in providing a dependable cycle of annual seasons has been routine.

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. (Genesis 8:22)

If the “reawakening” of plant life during spring were to occur only once in a human’s lifetime, the wonder of it all would (and should) be recognized as an immense miracle, so majestic and clever that billions of words could not do justice to describe it.

God planned for fruitful trees to provide food for humans, generation after generation, as a long-term renewable provision that was to be considered more important than the immediate activities of any one generation, a resource to be protected even during crises such as military activities. (See Deuteronomy 20:19-20; notice that food availability for multiple generations is also planned for in Deuteronomy 22:6-7.) This reproduction-driven multi-generational provision was preprogrammed by God, with each fruit’s biogenetic reproductive capacity written within its seeds, as Genesis taught from the beginning.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:11-12, emphasis added)

Thus, “fruitful seasons” are a positive proof of the providential care of our Creator.

The apologetics of food

Likewise, God’s provision of an amazing diversity of foods—around the world, in every age, in every culture, to every people group—is proof positive that God is Creator. Food is absolutely necessary to prolong our physical life.

Why? As a result of Adam’s sin, death entered the human race (Romans 5:12). God’s warning to Adam indicated a double-death penalty: “To die thou shalt die” (Genesis 2:17, which includes an infinitive-imperfect “double verb” in the Hebrew text). Sin immediately triggered a relational break between Creator and creature, because God is holy. That relational break was a spiritual death, a separation from God that Paul called being “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Also, sin triggered an ongoing process of dying physically—what some scientists call “chemistry eventually wins out over biology”—so our human bodies die.

Before birth, even from the time of conception, our physical bodies are dying, yet the metabolic profit we gain from eating food postpones and prolongs that dying process. (If you doubt food’s necessity, try abstaining from eating for two months!)

In some humans, physical life is prolonged by food for more than a century. But, in time, the condition of mortality takes its toll and we all anticipate death, even if we eat every day.

Food only postpones the inevitable. But while it does, it is a life-sustaining fuel, an amazing and precious gift from our Creator,1 as well as a testimony to the amazingly complex and efficient world He designed, as Dr. Randy Guliuzza notes:

Plants use biological systems that harvest light energy from the sun to convert environmental water and carbon dioxide into tiny carbon/hydrogen energy units stored within them.

When people eat those energy units, the extraordinary human digestive and metabolic systems convert the work of plants into energy that is useful to people and give back water and carbon dioxide to the environment that can be used by plants.…

In this amazing process that powers the human body, nuclear fusion energy in the sun is converted and conveyed as light energy to the earth, where it is captured and converted by plants to food-stuffs, then digested by a person and metabolized to universal energy packets that can be converted to chemical, mechanical, and electrical energy as needed.

The information content behind all of this is truly staggering.

The conversion of sunlight to body energy involves all systems of the body, plus a few plant systems, which must be totally functional.

Credit belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ—the creative genius! The Lord is gracious to all people by freely giving the sun’s light energy, the vital biological systems of plants, and humans’ incredible digestive and metabolic systems.2 [Quoting Dr. Randy Guliuzza]

God has also acted in human history, in the lives of human beings, in ways that so tellingly reveal His intervention that to fail to recognize God’s providential involvement is morally and intellectually inexcusable.

No random “chance” could provide a satisfactory explanation for the results of God’s providential care, and the proof is everywhere for those with eyes to see, even in every bite we eat. No wonder we are obligated to give thanks to God for our food.3

Food helps to prove that Jesus rose from the dead

In fact, even the eyewitness proof of the Lord Jesus Christ’s bodily resurrection was accentuated by His eating solid food (such as fish and honeycomb), demonstrating that He was physically raised from the dead.4

No one—man or woman, boy or girl—who has ever eaten a meal, and benefited metabolically from doing so, can honestly say, “God gave me no witness of Himself, so how was I supposed to know He was my Creator?”5

So, the proof is in the pudding—as well as in every other form of food that God provides for us, whether potato, lingonberry, cheese, egg, or codfish.[31]

So, every meal you (or I) eat is yet another proof of God’s caring providence as our Creator!

A fitting way to personally apply these last two verses (i.e., Psalm 145:15-16) would be to eat some wonderful food – while giving thanks to God as our generous Creator-God (1st Timothy 4:3-5; 1st Corinthians 10:31), Whose gracious lovingkindness sustains us, and even restores us when we fail Him.

Hallelujah! What a Savior-God we belong to!

                     ><> JJSJ     (AD2015)


Chaplain Bob Webel & JJSJ at Webel backyard, birdwatching [photograph by Marcia Webel]


The 1599 Geneva Bible (White Hall, WV: Tolle Lege Press, 2008 Calvin Legacy Edition; Raymond G. Vallorani & Brandon R. Vallorani, eds.)

The 1611 King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990 reprint edition)

The Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987; John R. Kohlenberger, III, ed.)

The New Defender’s Study Bible (Nashville: World Publishing, 2006; Henry M. Morris, editor an author of appendices).

The Scofield Study Bible, New King James Version (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2002; C. I. Scofield, orig. ed.)

Biblia Hebraica (Stuttgart, Germany: Württembergische Bibelanstalt Stuttgart, 1973, edited by Rudolph Kittel & others).

The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999, reprint of original 1851 publication by Samuel Bagster & Sons of London).

(The “Leningrad” edition of the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible and the New American Standard Version were both accessed from the website. Also, the modernistic so-called “Bible translations” that are based upon the “dynamic equivalence” paraphrasing methodology, such as “The Message”, “New International Version”, and “Good News for Modern Man”, were accessed from the website.)



Brigden, Larry, “The Supposed Missing נ Verse in Psalm 145”, Trinitarian Bible Society Quarterly Record, Issue #602 (January-March 2013).

NOTICE:  indentations, to show the beginning and ending of quoated material, has been problematic in formatting this blogpost — so please notice that Larry Brigden is quoted several times in this blogpost (and Dr. Randy Guliuzza is quoted within a quotation) — and footnote indications are used to show where quotations conclude — hopefully,  based on advice from Lee Dusing (who is the expert on all things blog), I will continue to repair the  indented-quote function of this blogpost.

Cone, Christopher, Prolegomena on Biblical Hermeneutics and Method, 2nd ed. (Hurst, TX: Tyndale Seminary Press, 2012).

Johnson, James J. S., “The Evidence of Nothing: The Silent Witness of Evolution’s Missing Links”, Acts & Facts, 37(4)4-5 (April 2008), posted at .

Johnson, James J. S., “Our Daily Bread: How Food Proves the Providence of God”, Acts & Facts, 40(4):8-9 (April 2011), posted at .

Johnson, James J. S., “Genesis Is History, Not Hebrew Poetry: Exposing Hidden Assumptions about What Hebrew Poetry Is and Is Not”, Acts & Facts, 40(6):8-9 (June 2011), posted at .

Johnson, James J. S., “People Yet to Be Created”, Acts & Facts, 43(11):20 (November2014), posted at .

McGee, J. Vernon, Briefing the Bible (Pasadena, CA: Thru the Bible Books, 1984).

Morris, Henry M., editor of annotated notes and appendices, The New Defender’s Study Bible (Nashville: World Publishing, 2006).

Morris, Henry M., Treasures in the Psalms (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2001).

Pratico, Gary D., & Miles V. Van Pelt, Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001).)

Ryrie, Charles C., Dispensationalism, rev. ed. (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2007).

Walvoord, John F., & Roy B. Zuck, eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985).

Weingreen, Jacob, A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979).

Wiersbe, Warren W., The Bible Exposition Commentary: An Exposition of the New Testament Comprising the Entire “BE” Series (Volume I: Matthew – Galatians; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989).

Wigram. George V., The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 2001; orig. publ. 1874).

Young, Robert, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879).



[1] For examples of more-modern English translations that retain the “almost-perfect” alphabetic acrostic version of Psalm 145, see the New King James Version of 1982, New American Standard Version (of 1963-1995), and even liberal Dan Wallace’s NET version.

[2] As an illustration of an intentional omission, this writer recalls a memory from his junior high days, when a wood shop teacher put the following on the blackboard, during December: ABCDEFGHIJKMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ. Some boys in the classroom observantly noticed “there’s no L” – which provided the shop-teacher’s seasonal meeting: NOEL!

[3] Warren W. Wiersbe, “Bad News about the Good News – Galatians 1:1-10”, The Bible Exposition Commentary: An Exposition of the New Testament Comprising the Entire “BE” Series (Volume I: Matthew – Galatians; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), page 682.

[4] Interestingly, the “evidence of nothing” (when there supposedly should be “something”) is a forensic principle that is relied upon in courtroom decision-making. See James J. S. Johnson, “The Evidence of Nothing:  The Silent Witness of Evolution’s Missing Links”, Acts & Facts, 37(4)4-5 (April 2008), posted at .

[5] Luke 17:26-30.

 [6] See 1st Corinthians 10:31 & Hebrews 13:4a.

[7] Quoting Larry Brigden, “The Supposed Missing נ Verse in Psalm 145”, Trinitarian Bible Society Quarterly Record, Issue #602 (January-March 2013), page 13.

[8] Larry Brigden (cited in footnote #7, above), at page 15.

[9] Larry Brigden (cited in footnote #7, above), at page 15.

[10] Rudolph Kittel, editor, Biblia Hebraica (Stuttgart, Germany: Württembergische Bibelanstalt Stuttgart, 1973), page 1100.

[11] Larry Brigden (cited in footnote #7, above), at page 15. See, accord, The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999, reprint of original 1851 publication by Samuel Bagster & Sons of London), at page 785.

[12] Larry Brigden (cited in footnote #7, above), at page 16.

[13] Henry M. Morris, “Introduction to the Psalms”, page 827 to the New Defender’s Study Bible.  See also Henry M. Morris, Treasures in the Psalms (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2001), 17.

[14] Morris, Treasures in the Psalms, 17.

[15] See George V. Wigram, The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 2001; orig. publ. 1874), pages 684 & 1337.  See also Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), pages 766-767.

[16] See George V. Wigram, The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 2001; orig. publ. 1874), page 1337.

[17] Morris, Treasures in the Psalms, 18.

[18] See James J. S. Johnson, “Genesis Is History, Not Hebrew Poetry: Exposing Hidden Assumptions about What Hebrew Poetry Is and Is Not”, Acts & Facts, 40(6):8-9 (June 2011), posted at .

[19] Quoting James J. S. Johnson, “Genesis Is History, Not Hebrew Poetry: , Acts & Facts, 40(6):8-9 (June 2011), posted at (footnotes omitted).

[20] This truth of God’s providence is echoed, by Paul, in Acts 14:17.

[21] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), pages 766-767.

[22] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), “Index-Lexicon of the Old Testament”, page 70.

[23] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), “Index-Lexicon of the Old Testament”, page 18.

[24] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), “Index-Lexicon of the Old Testament”, page 55.

[25] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), “Index-Lexicon of the Old Testament”, page 53.

[26] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), “Index-Lexicon of the Old Testament”, page 43.

[27] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), “Index-Lexicon of the Old Testament”, page 45.

[28] See George V. Wigram, The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 2001; orig. publ. 1874), pages 366-367.

[29] Larry Brigden, “The Supposed Missing נ Verse in Psalm 145”, Trinitarian Bible Society Quarterly Record, Issue #602 (January-March 2013), pages 13-16.

[30] James J. S. Johnson, “People Yet to Be Created”, Acts & Facts, 43(11):20 (November2014), posted at .

[31] Quoting from James J. S. Johnson, “Our Daily Bread: How Food Proves the Providence of God”, Acts & Facts, 40(4):8-9 (April 2011), posted at .


JJSJ birdwatching, backyard of Chaplain Bob and Marcia Webel (St. Petersburg, Florida)

See also this Fathers’ Day message:  .

NST Althing: Meeting with Old & New Friends



A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.   (Proverbs 18:24)

Some friends “stick closer” than siblings, especially if siblings live far apart.

Over the past 2 decades, due to active membership in the Norwegian Society of Texas, a family history-promoting organization that has chapters in various pars of the Lone Star State  (see ), my wife and I have experienced the truth of Proverbs 18:24.

The semiannual meeting of the Norwegian Society of Texas, called the “Althing” (named for the famous annual national assembly of Iceland), transpired last Saturday, in Clifton, a rural Texas-hill-country town (nicknamed the “Norwegian capital of Texas”).  While attending the Althing, I composed, and later presented, this limerick:


Norwegians at Clifton did meet,

In misty rain, not snow or sleet;

   Time to plan the next year,

   Recall times of good cheer —

Old friends convene, new ones greet.

[NOTE: the rosemåling (above) mantel was painted by Norwegian native Mimi Fossum; this artwork is displayed in the historic Ringness House of Bosque County, Texas.]




Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part 8 (of 8): finally, from Europe to America!

 Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Eight:   Refugees in Austria, Fleeing Post-WWII Europe for America   —   The Jakob & Katarina Webel Family Journey to a New Home

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not Thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with Thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.   (Psalm 39:12)

But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, because He hath prepared for them a city.   (Hebrews 11:16)

For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.   (Philippians 3:20)


[This is the final episode in this ongoing Webel family series  —  earlier parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7a, and 7b appear elsewhere on this blog.]

In this eighth (and final) episode of the “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen” family history series, the ethnic-German family of Jakob and Katarina Webel, after evacuating from their former home in (what is today) Croatia, and having traveled through Germany, as a refugee family, during the last months of World War II, – plus sojourning as farmers for ~5 years (AD1945-AD1950) in Donnersdorf Au (Austria), and thereafter in Graz (Austria), they hoped and planned (e.g., in Salzburg, Austria) for a new home in Ohio, near the sister of Mr. Jakob Webel.

Regarding little Robert Webel’s fame in Donnersdorf Au (Austria), a local recalls his unique toddler personality – 61 years later!  [See 14:46 (of 19.55) in the youtube posted at .]


For a YouTube mini-documentary of the Webel years in Donnersdorf Au, Austria, see , titledJakob & Katharina Webel history – Donnersdorf Au, Austria # 1”. This video footage features Elisabeth Webel Yovichin, her daughter Kristy Yovichin Steiner, her son David Yovichin, and David’s wife Sandy Folia Yovichin (i.e., Elisabeth Webel Yovichin’s daughter-in-law).  This 17-minute-long video-recorded visit to Donnerdorf Au occurred in May of AD2010. (In the video Elisabeth Webel Yovichin mentioned that her father (Jakob Webel) dies in AD1989, and that her mother (Katarina Webel) dies in AD2002.

This family history is continued in “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Donnersdorf Au, Austria # 2”, at . See also Bad Radkersburg [Austria] – Mom’s School”, at  and “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Graz, Austria”, at .


Jakob & Katarina Webel family, AD1951: “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen”

A related video episode reports on the Webel family’s sojourning time in Germany, as refugees, titled “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Obernzell & Winzer, Germany” [where a flour mill was located], at .

For a quick slide-show overview of the Webel family’s refugee years in Europe, see David Yovichin’s “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Europe (with Mom [Elisabeth Webel] Yovichin) – Slideshow”, at .

This 11-minute YouTube mini-documentary (accompanied by music that aptly fits the providential history depicted by the video footage “slides”) provides highlights from the entire series of video episodes noted here, with helpful geography indicators from time to time.

More related Webel family video episodes (by David Yovichin) include:

“Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Vinkovci, Croatia”, at;

“Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Marinci, Croatia # 1”  at

followed by “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Marinci, Croatia # 2”, –

followed by “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Marinci, Croatia # 3”, at  —

followed by “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Marinci, Croatia # 4”, at  –

followed by “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Marinci, Croatia # 5”, at .  

[ CHRONOLOGY CORRIGENDUM NOTE: In the interview excerpt quoted below, the interviewing daughter is identified as a Webel girl born during April of AD1949. However, in earlier episodes of this series,[1] I have reported the interviewing daughter as Rosie Webel, since she is the one who actually produced (i.e., authored) the interview as a family history. But the actual interview questions – at least those appearing on page 163 cannot have been asked by Rosalie Webel, the ultimate author/producer of the Webel family record (“FROM VINKOVCI TO MEDINA”), because Rosie is reported as 6 years old (see newspaper photo and caption, above) during early AD1951, so she would have been born about 4 years before the daughter whose questions are recorded on page 163. However, Katherina (shown in Mr. Jakob Webel’s arms, in the above-shown newspaper photograph, is then reported as age “2”. Accordingly, although the arithmetic is not a precise fit (because a child born during April AD1949 would be almost-but-not-yet “2” years old, as of March 19th of AD1951), it appears that the interviewing daughter, who is referred to on page 163, must be Katherina (a/k/a “Katie” – see also pages 156, 162, 168-169), since she was born during early AD1949. This correction should be imputed to prior episodes that apparently err when indicating Rosie as the interviewing daughter. ]

How can the Webel family survive, as refugees, outside their native Yugoslavia? What about food, shelter, hygiene, and some kind of stable future for family living? For immediate survival, as refugees, what can they do, as they plan for a permanent solution to the problem of being forced to escape their homeland (and earlier life as merchants there)?  What must the “new normal” be, until a permanent home can be established, somewhere?  Where to live, now?  Where to live, later?

And how can a successful transition be made to eventually settle in a new homeland with a new home, where they can live according to their faith and values, as ethnic-German “Nazarene” Anabaptists? None of this will be easy!

[This interview quotes from pages 172-183 of From Vinkovci to Medina.]

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

DAUGHTER:   When did you leave [Donnersdorf Au, Austria] then in 1950 and why did you leave?

 MOM:   No money coming in, they don’t pay anything, and we had the off season.

DAD:   There was something else. And when we was there, now, in the beginning, now we are kind of settled for a while, not for permanent, that is such a, just a settle-

 DAUGHTER:   Temporary.

DAD: Just until we can go home, and then start being organized, the believers from America and go Switzerland, looking for the believers, from  Yugoslavia and Hungary, from everywhere so the refuge. And they made known through the court through the wherever, everyone should write, report himself. Not you have to but everyone to find each other. And before we get even there, I was looking for believers and couldn’t know the believers. Then Graz is capital city from that province and I wrote to the newspaper (the farmer receive newspaper) so I brought newspaper to make an ad and … something in that effect, I look for connection with the believer, we call it Nazarene over there, from Yugoslavia, and from Hungary. And my full name and address, and we get letters from everywhere–I am from here, I am from here, and I am from here, even from unbeliever, do you know for my brother, do you know for that and for that. One lady had a big flour mill for husband and wife in the town where we are, and their sister was a member, not she, and the sister moved to Argentina in 1920… only,  no later, about [19]25. And we wrote a letter, could I tell her the address for her sister.

 MOM:   You are the Webel from Vinkovci? That’s what she said.

DAD:   Then I wrote her, yes I am that Webel from Vinkovci and I do not know the address from your sister, but in the same time in Argentina, I got a sister who is a member too and they go to the same church. I could give you the address for my sister and then you could get a connection with your sister and so I did.

 MOM:   They moved there.

DAD:   And we visited even them, not so close, but we visit them and it we took them cabbage.

 MOM:   This was something for them.

DAD:   They had a daughter-in-law, she was expecting, and she said would give her what could she give for a …

MOM:   For a piece of sausage, just a piece of sausage like homemade sausage, she would give anything. They was rich people.

DAD:   At home. And we came there to visit them and …

 MOM:   Sausage.

DAD:   Sausage.

 MOM:   Well, we thought everybody’s so good.

DAD:   We had that sausage from the home till we got there to that farmer. Not, you would think, you could not think we had a 1,000 pound. We had a bag full, maybe 20 pound sausage at most, and maybe 2 piece, maybe 4 sticks ham, and maybe 2 piece from the sides of a bacon.

 MOM:   And the most we eat it already,

 DAD:   But we eat little bit, you spend little bit.

 MOM:   So we sold some,

DAD:   That shrink. But we still had it when we came there.

 MOM:   We trade so many things.

DAD:   But that we need a community.

 DAUGHTER:   Now get back to why you decided to leave besides the fact that you were getting a hold of believers.

DAD:   We decide to leave because we were tired to settle down. But we got then connection with the believers too, we wrote to Switzerland and … , and then we find connection, then Danny Spangler was a Salzburg. Salzburg is American part of Austria and Steiermark [“Steiermark” is the German name for Steyr (Austria), which is also known as “Styria”] is English part of Austria. And we are close to the Yugoslav border and nobody could go in that part close to the border except he get special permission and-

 MOM:   Same as Communist.

DAD:   So when we find through Yugoslavia somehow for Danny where he is, then we sent to him a bag a box, apples with the railroad, a box, maybe like crate now, maybe 20, 25 pound, and he was hungry for everything.

 MOM:   He was almost starving to death. He was on death already. No eat, he cannot.

DAD:   We used to say we Americans, Americans are good, they are good like everybody else. Danny Spangler, he is not a man who likes to talk and he just once said that. He was a prisoner in the war by American. On the field, fenced in, and here stands a post on a high place, with a machine gun and there and fenced in. You eat, became that shape and that people was with that soldier, they eat the grass, pick up that grass is good and that grass is good, and that root pick out.

 MOM:   That root’s good, that was not even roots anymore.

DAD:   And they went under the fence to beg and to steal and to beg. And Danny was not a man to go to beg or to steal, and he was there to die, from hunger.

 DAUGHTER:   They didn’t feed him? The Americans didn’t feed him?

DAD:   Yes, they did.

MOM:   But dry corn, little cans…

DAD:   Once in a while. like they do the Chinas, like they do the Russia, like they do everybody.

 DAUGHTER:   Off in the war zone.

DAD:   It is war time. First, it’s hard to deliver to the soldier, not to the prisoners of war, but he was dying. Then came one of his buddies, everybody, more or less, especially in the army, in the need, everybody who is close to him. One of his buddies went out there and stole or dig out potato piece, what’s ever, and came, then he could eat. Not be alone, no. Eat. And he forced it in his mouth and so he-

 MOM:   Few crumbs bread, a few crumbs bread, and-

DAD:   So he eat a little bit and see, he came to life. He was that far exhausted, even nothing just.

 DAUGHTER:   Was Dan a Christian at that point?

DAD:   No. No.

 DAUGHTER:   At that point, no.

DAD:   He was raised a Christian.

 DAUGHTER:   And isn’t Karl and Danny brothers? Karl and Dan are brothers?

 MOM:   Yes.

 DAUGHTER:   And Karl is older?

DAD:   No. Danny is older.

 DAUGHTER:   Karl is younger?

DAD:   We like to call ourselves Christians and we are, but there are many, many people in the world who do not call themselves Christians like we do,  but live in a God fearing land. The Bible says if you are Jews and your called, you are proud because you are Jews, you have a reason to be proud because your fathers are given the law and so minister that, but that heathen, that man who have never heard from God, he honors God by nature, and he will condemn you who are called Jews, something to that, and the same thing is in us Christians. We heard today a very good sermon, Art Yarhouse, He was here. And he said, not the same word, when what they do. If we haven’t the same attitude as belong to a Christian, but I would add, I would add to it. Jesus said, forgive them but we need to know we need forgiveness. How often have we grieved our neighbor, our Heavenly Father seems even farther, even this is nothing, this is nothing.

 DAUGHTER:   Okay, you sent Dan a crate of apples?

DAD:   A crate of apples and he eat it, and he, when we get permission, he give to us.

 DAUGHTER:   Oh, the Americans granted him permission.

 MOM:   This whole crate was not long, not even a week, he had to eat.

DAD:   Then he give to us and he lived with us. He was with us.

 DAUGHTER:   In this farm.

 MOM:   Yah, in this farm.

DAD:   And then he was a tailor, he found work as a tailor in the town.

 DAUGHTER:   At Donnersdorf?

DAD:   No. No. Not in Donnersdorf of the AlberRhine.

 MOM:   AlberRhine.

DAD:   That was little bit village a little bit bigger and he was work there and came every day home and sleep by us and live by us. In the kitchen we had a big table and they open up, it was a bed, and he and the.

 MOM:   We don’t open this table for a bed! And behind the table was this bed always. They was all sleeping on this bed, children when we was there. Over there was sleeping Reini and Dan. This was all we had.

 DAUGHTER:   Yeah, I know what it is.

DAD:   We all others slept in that room, just we cut that bed that had so we had only 2 beds, 4×4, so we could but… we had 6 straw but we had the blankets.

 MOM:   The next day when Sunday was over, then Monday morning I went over to the boss lady and told her, I don’t want you to put anything in this house while the soldier was there living for years. We want all new straw, and we want everything taken out and clean it and I want to paint all the walls before I do it.

DAD:   Not paint, but-

 DAUGHTER:   Whitewash.

DAD:   whitewash, whitewash.

 MOM:   I even put the-, even later we put the molded.

 DAUGHTER:   Drawing.

 MOM:   No, the molding.

DAD:   No, no, no, no, no. Some kind of figures out of picture.

 MOM:   Figures and I make it on paper and cut them out and then we paint, make them different color.

DAD:   Make here some kind of flowers and then put with oil over it so the paper is strong. And then you put on the wall and you paint, is a flower on the wall.

 MOM:   You can paint, buy this. (stencils)

DAD:   Okay, Mom think we should before we move in, we clean it.

 MOM:   And the whole week and was everything we’re scrubbing and washing.

DAD:   And so we live there, Why we move? We had even there church service. Right in the beginning, when we found believers, one man

from Hungary was in Rosenburg maybe 40 miles, from there, from our place and then Danny and we and one lady was in that Leibnich so we 4, 5 had a church service.

 DAUGHTER:   How long was Danny with us?

DAD:   Danny was with us till-oh, who was it?

 MOM:   Till  Katie was born.

 DAUGHTER:   So how long was he with us?

 MOM:   Real long. So we told him, Danny, you are a big man. You are old enough and you have a good job where you can go in town and get apartment for you, somebody rent. We need the place. We get a other baby, we need one child again out this room in the kitchen and that’s enough. You have a good job and he have money.


DAD:   But he was very good boy. He was like our boy.


MOM:   He was always like our boy. And then there was never a Sunday, he always came home when he was not working, he was here, not there in town.


DAUGHTER (ROSIE?):   What relationship is he to us?

 DAUGHTER:   Cousin. He’s a cousin.

DAD:   His mother was my sister. And so when we decide to leave then, we have no social security, we have no future not at all, and later on we had church in Graz [Austria], believers from here and there and everywhere, we had church in Graz. We had to travel every Sunday to Graz, walking, maybe 4, 5 miles to the railroad station then traveling there, leaving the children at home or taking them along and it was very inconvenient and so we want to move to Graz.

 DAUGHTER:   Mostly for the church.

DAD:   Mostly for the church purpose. And-

 MOM:   Most Sunday we went, we try, we want to go, we had to go leave the house morning 3, 4:00 and come evening home about 10, maybe later. We never know what’s happened to the children . . .

DAD:   And whenever we had-

 DAUGHTER:   Was I born in this house?

 MOM:   Yes, yes, you were born in this house, yes.

 DAUGHTER:   April of [19]49.

 MOM:   Oh, yes.

 DAUGHTER:   You were there till [19]50.

Before Danny was born, it already fall, ‘50.

DAUGHTER:   The fall of 1950.

DAD:   And it was hard to find a place in Graz, no place to find, but again, only the barracks, and barracks that we found, now it was almost like private was no anymore camp. Everyone lives for himself with a job but the barracks you fix up a little bit, but when we moved in, fixed up, raining, we have the put that umbrella here, or put that pail there, pail there.

 MOM:   And all the pans and everything on the bed, the children are now sleeping now not is raining over here, Dad, okay, put that thing over there. Then, okay, move the bed over there. Now starts here coming rain down, okay, move the bed over there. You don’t know what you should do, all the pans and everything, what else?

DAD:   And then we found a man.

 MOM:   No, windows, all broken out.

DAD:   I find a job.

 MOM:   You was trying…

DAD:   But very hard job, very hard job, making, not producing, but making sand. The sand and the gravel came from the… the dirt in the wall is it, through the screen divided, that was my job long time, very hard job, but makes no difference. Then we found a man who was willing to build for our money on his place a bedroom apartment for us.

 MOM:   Kitchen and bedroom…paid for the wood.

DAD:   And we gave the money through the bank but he never build apartment because he did not build, he somehow spent the money, he gave us, for temporary, he built a regular apartment but that apartment was just here was a kitchen and then was a hallway and then here was a bedroom on the other side. And that hallway was drafty, was just was covered, but was not closed, and in that apartment we had many time in that kitchen, that kitchen was not larger than our kitchen, I don’t think was larger and there was many time church service in there and there was that place where the children are.

MOM:   This was in the bedroom.

DAD:   Where we go to bed.

 MOM:   Bedroom, there was a little bit big, then the children can sleep on the bed. We had three . . . .

DAUGHTER:   Three bunks up.

 MOM:   Yeah, bedroom and our bed. And that’s not built-in like here for the clothes, no closets. And then some children was under the tablecloth, or under the table, nobody knows. The smaller, they are there on the beds, but sometimes they are fighting or beating each other. No, no, not loud noise, just, and they looked at Dad and was enough, stopped right away. They know they will get…

DAD:   I t was enough, I always sitting so that I could see the children.

 DAUGHTER:   Was it cold in this part of the country?

DAD:   Yes.­

 DAUGHTER:   It gets cold in the winter time?

DAD:   Oh, yes.

 DAUGHTER:   Just like Ohio? Or colder?

DAD:   About. And in that building, in that was the Danny born.

 DAUGHTER:   Oh, in this little apartment.

 MOM:   This apartment.

DAD:   He was born in December.

 MOM:   Oh, was cold.

DAD:   In a room where we had no stove.

 MOM:   No fire.

DAD:   No heat, no fire.

 DAUGHTER:   December, [19]51. December 17.

DAD:   No was ’50.

 DAUGHTER:   Yeah.

DAD:   No fire, no room, no fire in the room, no fireplace, no stove, no nothing, cold there, like cold.

 MOM:   You brought some kind of heater from somewhere. An electric heater, put them there for she cannot even give the baby a bath was so cold, frozen cold. I cannot be uncovered, not even the hand almost, so it’s cold.

 DAUGHTER:   Did we all sleep in that cold room?

 MOM:   No, some are sleeping in the kitchen. Some are in the kitchen, some are in the-, again, the same thing.

 DAD:   It was very hard time.

 DAUGHTER:   Do you remember that man’s name?

DAD:   Which man?

MOM:   Yeah, Singraber(?). Yes. Singraber, was living here…

DAD:   He had a daughter, she was a married for, deliver or something, post office and that lady, she was such a woman, she could not care money. He give her today, I would say in American money, $2, go buy grocery or $5, She bought grocery, everything whatsoever she thinks he need and leftover 50 cent, she bought for the $.50 chocolate or something for something in it for herself or for her child and she came home, “clap” [gesturing]. The cooking, I have forgotten to buy vinegar.

 MOM:   No paprika.

DAD:   Then, Mrs. Webel, could you borrow me a little bit.

 MOM:   No pika bona (baking soda).

DAD:   If she goes in the store tomorrow again, tomorrow again, every day.

 MOM:   She buys a little bit.

DAD:   And then give me for, I could say, for 5 penny, salt, for 10 penny, sugar, for 20 penny, that. So figure out everything what she need, better. When she got home, she needs something.

MOM:   Start cooking. Again something she had not.

DAD:   It’s the Singraber’s daughter.

 MOM:   Yeah, I said, Mrs. Spring, her name.

 DAUGHTER:   Spring.

 MOM:   Yeah. Mrs. Spring. I said, why you don’t save this, this was. She said, oh, Mrs. Webel, I’m so glad I shop today. Everything what I need, and I will bring yours back. I said, you don’t have to bring it back. She said, yah, I will. And I had a little leftover money, and then she show me, and our children was open wide their eyes and their mouth. And this little child eat chocolate and all messed up and ours like would like….

DAD:   She would even eat it, too.

 MOM:   Yeah, I said, why you don’t save this, this penny or whatever was you left? Maybe you need it later when you start again cooking. She said, oh, I made a good list, I know I had everything just enough. Finally she came laughing like this and she said, you are right, Mrs. Webel, I don’t have this at home. I said, I told you. Don’t spend every penny.

DAD:   But that happen every day.

 MOM:   Don’t spend every penny. She had never soap to wash her clothes. She had never soap to wash the clothes.

 DAUGHTER:   How long did you live in this apartment?

[end of audiotape side A; then interview recording resumes]

DAD:   We went, oh…

 DAUGHTER:   How old was Danny?

 MOM:   Danny was.. When we…

 DAUGHTER:   When you left?

 MOM:   When we left? How old?

DAD:   Was couple months, couple months.

MOM:   Yeah, couple months.

DAD:   In March, really before March, maybe February.

 DAUGHTER:   And that’s when you started making plans to come to the United States?

DAD:   We making plans always but was no opening, was not allowed. United States did not let no German out, German was considered enemy and no Germany. Hungarian and Yugoslav and Polish, they could, but not to United States, till they changed the law German could go. And then we right away applied and we went through it and so.

 DAUGHTER:   Were you corresponding with your sister here in the United States?

DAD:   Yes, yes.

 DAUGHTER:   To make plans to come. What sister? [Mrs. Keiper, née Webel]

 [Referring to Jakob Webel’s sister in Ohio]

DAD:   You have to have somebody to sponsor you, regardless who you are. If nobody, relative, church organization, or anybody have to sponsor you before you get. Because United States don’t let you come in otherwise.

 DAUGHTER:   In March of [19]’51 you decided to leave this apartment, where did you go?

DAD:   Then we decided, we left to go to America.

 MOM:   Oh, we was here in March already, 20th of March.

 DAUGHTER  (ROSIE):    Yeah, we arrived March, [19]51. But tell us about how the… when I got lost, what happened.

 DAUGHTER:   I want to talk about this first.

DAD:   We have decided before to go. We have to make plan. In that apartment we was longer. Katie was born in-

 DAUGHTER:   April, [19]49.

 MOM:   In the Au.

DAD:   Yes, but we didn’t came in [19]51 to Graz.

 MOM:   When Katie was little.

 DAUGHTER:   How little was-. You must have come in [19]49, Mother, to this apartment.

 MOM:   No, no. First in the barracks in Graz.

 DAUGHTER:   Yeah.

 MOM:   And then later in the apartment.

DAD:   Probably [19]’49 sometime. and we lived, we had a garden out that-

 MOM:   Yeah, we lived in the barracks.

DAD:   [19]49,  and sometime in [19]50, we moved-

 MOM:   This man, she built us apartment.

DAD:   -to that house and we always we made plans to go. First to Argentina, wherever we could go, because was no abiding place there.

 DAUGHTER:   And at this time now you no longer wanted to go back to Yugoslavia because there was nothing there.

DAD:   No, it is not possible to go.

 DAUGHTER:   Was your father already dead at this time? Yes.

DAD:   Yes. Yes.

 DAUGHTER:   And what about Uncle John? You said that he came back to Yugoslavia.

DAD:   He [i.e., Uncle John] was staying, he stayed in Yugoslavia.

 DAUGHTER:   So he was under Communist control?

DAD:   Yes. And he was there, and he was an unbeliever before, and he get converted, but after Dad died. And we must to live in Graz at least 2 year but 1 year in the barracks and 1 year by that Singraber. But in all the time we applied to go to United States and when we was ready to go ‘til the paper went through, was Danny born.

 DAUGHTER:   Danny born.

DAD:   So we have to make a new paper again, and then have once was, it was everything ready and then Karl was under-nourished.

 MOM:   Karl was not healthy.

DAD:   Then we have to have nothing wrong with children, just feed him eggs, raw eggs I give eggs or something like that.

 MOM:   Raw eggs.

DAD:   It came in 6 months back, then we came back, the law is changed, you cannot go.

 MOM:   And oh, oh, Karl was good, it just is the law again changed.

DAD:   Till finally wherever they go, we are ready to go, you can go.  Now, we have put money in that building. Our money is there that men give us, not the money, but he give us, black and white, we could live there, so and so long.

 MOM:   Five years, 5 years.

DAD:   So we sold that same building, the right to another family, believers..

 MOM:   For the rest of the years.

DAD:   But if we go out and leave empty, that man would not let them in.

 MOM:   The other people in.

DAD:   So we let the people in before we moved out so the people was there so-

 MOM:   He cannot throw them out. We sold them our right.

DAD:   Then that people did not have the money to give us, but HILTA, that’s the aid for the Switzerland, they give them the money so we had some money.

 DAUGHTER:   And that’s the money you had when you came to America.

DAD:   That’s the money. That was very little and it was transferred in American money, was maybe $50. I do recall how much, but then we have to go over to the United States part of Austria.

 DAUGHTER:   How did you do that? By train?

DAD:   By train. We have left packed, everything ours, go by train to Salzburg [in Austria, by the German border], Salzburg there is the main United States office or you can call it Consul.

 DAUGHTER:   Consul. Consulate.

DAD:   And there you get the visa to go, and sure, we, takes a long time and there Rosie got lost. How? Oh, that is upstairs office, you have to, there are many people that wait all day long to get in and out and so this and that and that. And the children, like children, went downstairs in the street looking in the windows, the TVs and that, that’s big city, that’s show window here and there, here is that, here is that, here is that. Somehow they get separated, the bigger children from Rosie. And Rosie was small and she got…[2]

 MOM:   And she came around just now not to..

DAD:   Came the children and no Rosie! Then down, down, looking every street corner looking for Rosie, no Rosie! Somebody told us, go there, there, so, so far.  It’s far to that way, that way, and that is police station  —  and probably they know something. And we came there, we looked in the door and there was Rosie among them, and she right away said, “Mom, what’s my name?”

 MOM:   She was crying, “Mom, what’s my name?”

DAD:   They ask her “what’s your name?”  She know the name but just she could  —  “Where are you from, what street, which town?”  —  and she does not know, she didn’t [clarify] nothing.

 MOM:   She was this, you cannot, and the police all around her, they gave her candies. And she was crying.

DAD:   She could talk in German, she talk German with them, but she does not know her address, she does not know where she is.

 DAUGHTER:   So then from this, you got your visa. Then what happened?

 DAD:   There we get our papers to go to the United States and that was the first transport of Germans to be allowed to go to United States. And the president of that… United States government had organization who handled that. The president from that organization, how they call it I have forgotten, makes no difference… Mr. Wagner, and he came to Salzburg to congratulate to us we get to the United States because we had small child, we go with plane, the other people go with ship, but we go with plane because we got… and we will be there in 3 days, we are in United States and congratulate. But no plane goes from Salzburg. The planes goes [sic] from Germany, from Munich, so we have to go with the train to Munich with our papers to go to America. When we came there, the leadership from that camp has no idea Germans could go to United States. What kind of organization is this? I do not know. But they have no, you could not go. They assigned us, again, a big hotel room that’s where we lived. It’s a big room and that’s our room. We go to the kitchen to eat and so on, but the kitchen is so-, the children, from so and so much year, goes over here. So old goes over there, and the babies goes over there.

MOM:   Mother with the babies.

 DAD:   The mothers gets over there.

 MOM:   And the fathers way in the…-

 DAD:   What kind of organization is it? And I made then and every week or now is your wash day, you could go in the kitchen and wash your stuff, now is your wash day, so and so on.

MOM:   Is all you can wash.

 DAD:   And every day is a list there, they and they fly to America, they and they fly, never we, never we, then one day.. We made.. everything written, application, asking they should give us their food, one plate all for all. I told her, have to explain why, why you want to get the food.

MOM:   Oh, cause the mother go there and the father go there and other.

 DAD:   Because our children could not eat that. How could we sent a child for 5 year, go there, get your the food and eat and the child not get…. So we got lost, we got hungry, and finally they agree to give us bargain, that’s you get a pound that, a pound that, a pound that, and so on. And when the time goes, came Jews, the rich people from there, refuge from Poland, they fly, and we stay.

MOM:   Just they came in yesterday, the other day, then they fly. And we sitting here for weeks.

DAD:   Yeah, all them, they go, and we sitting. What should we do? What should we do? Wrote, sit down, I wrote a letter, Mr. So and so, president from the . . .   I would say unit or such an organization, Frankfurt, Germany.  We are in Germany too, but I do not know his address, but they know if I should write President Carter  [actually Truman was president during AD1951],  Washington,  they would know [how] to find him.  I don’t have to put zip code in [i.e., that was prior to when U.S. mail required use of zip codes].

DAUGHTER:   That’s right.

 DAD:   So I wrote him, and so I wrote a letter something like that in German. I am so-and-so, my name, and on that and that date I was in Salzburg and you was there and we was ready to fly to United States and you congratulated us and say we will be in 3 days in America, but we have to go to Munich, and we came to Munich and we are here so long and nobody takes care of us and nobody knows when we can go and we are here. What for? What will do? Some just to complaining and asking for help, and don’t take a long time, 2 days.

MOM:   Couple days.

 DAD:  A day or 2, then office said, ‘Mr. Webel tomorrow you will fly’.

MOM:   The lady said, “Mrs. Webel, tomorrow you fly. We got orders, don’t tell anyone. You got orders you will have to fly.”

 DAD:   And Mom was sick.

MOM:   I came up to Dad and said….

 DAD:   She got sick, she get vomiting, she get dizzy, she sick, oh, and before you go to the plane, you have to go to the [medical] doctor to check you and check everybody. We came to the [medical] doctor, mom was sick, but the doctor was refuge [i.e., a refugee], a Hungarian man, and when I found out he’s Hungarian man, I talk to him Hungarian, and when we talk Hungarian, then was Mom “okay”.   [ In other words, the Hungarian physician decided that since Mom Webel could speak Hungarian, she was “okay” enough by his standards! ]

MOM:   He don’t even look at me. Not even measure my temperature.

 DAD:   But beside that, they had a hired plane, not a United States, they hired a plane to take that special transport over, but the company that owned the plane, said no, we could not take so many children. And they picked out all such family with so many children so they could not go with so many children.

MOM:   The most can take is so much children. That’s all . . .

DAD:   Then everybody thought ‘Webel family will get out, we will just go.’ But I know we will go because I know where came the order, I wrote a letter.

MOM:   This office girl told me there is the order.

 DAD:   We know that.

MOM:   Then right away we know what’s happened. Exactly that.

 DAD:   So that family eliminated 2 children, that family eliminated 5 children, or with four, and we go.

MOM:   They were surprised. All the neighborhood. . . .

 DAD:   Not only surprised. All those generals are mad!  —  we go with so many children, 10 children.

DAUGHTER:   So this special transport took you where?

 DAD:   From Munich to New York.

DAUGHTER:   To New York.

 DAD:   But not direct. In that time was no jet, was propeller and we went first that is a Scandinavian airline. We first went from Munich to Scandinavia to Copenhagen and from there to Scotland, and from there to Greensland [i.e., Greenland].

DAUGHTER  (ROSIE?):   Greenland.

 DAUGHTER:   Did you have to change planes every time?

 MOM:   Yes, almost, yeah.

 DAD:   I don’t think we change but we have to go out.

MOM:   Yeah, yeah. They cleaned it for 2 hours or something.

 DAD:   Yeah, and then go again the plane and go farther. I don’t think we changed the plane. I just think we..

DAUGHTER:   They just fixed it and it got refueled and all stuff and it took that long to get going.

DAD:   Yeah.

MOM:   Once we had to go down, was full of ice and everything, it was so heavy with snow and ice.

DAD:   The wings were filled with ice so they had to land to thaw.

MOM:   Everything was different.

 DAUGHTER:   How long did this take?

 DAD:   Not long. It take about 2 days, second day we are here, just one night.

MOM:   Yeah, 18 hours. That’s all together.

 DAUGHTER (ROSIE?): Yeah, it takes 6 to 8.

 DAUGHTER:   Then you got to New York City.

 DAD:   To New York City.

DAUGHTER:   And I know there was a problem in New York City.

 MOM:   There was a problem.

 DAD:   They, whosoever [notice again the King James English!] brought us, we… they have to give us to the sponsor. Some goes with the train too, but that Keiper, our sponsor, made arrangement to meet us in New York and Reinhardt Keiper went to New York to meet us. And when we arrived, we arrive to the airport, today is Kennedy airport, they call it international airport at that time I think so. We are here waiting for sponsor to take us and nobody came. Reinhardt Keiper came with Freddie Fetzer.

MOM:   Three cars came.

DAD:   And Reinhardt Keiper on the phone, didn’t have no idea where the plane land, here on the phone asking is there here the plane, that and that and that, and never went Reinhardt Keiper on the phone but always Freddie Fetzer on the phone. Why I do not know. And when they asked who is talking, ‘Freddie Fetzer’. He didn’t tell him…

MOM:   They don’t say anything.

 DAD:   About the family Webel. So they could not find out where the Webel family is and they could not find out where the sponsor is. They called Medina [Ohio], “What’s happened to the Keiper people?  They should pick up the people and they are not here.” “They are in New York.” So late evening, the whole day we stay there. Not fenced in but almost fenced in, here you are allowed to be and…. Like in every crossing you remember something what you have forgotten.   .  .  .  . .

 [Dad reminisces for a while about other topics.]

DAUGHTER:   Okay, Dad, you’ll have to get back to New York City now. The last thing you said was we were in a roped off area.

 DAD:   We were roped off and everybody is was gone, just we, and nobody is now, nobody recognize, nobody have to feed us because we are supposed to be by Keipers already, and we are hungry and the people are not allowed to go to it, keep somebody by, and put an orange there like you-

MOM:   And feed us.

 DAD:   Like embarrassing for us, like hurry up catch, no, the children did not went. They was ashamed that they was ashamed to do something like that. And finally they found someone who could talk in German and went take me a store to buy something meat for children to have to eat. Then we eat and finally came Keipers. Finally they are awaken, the Keiper went to the phone and then they say where we are and then they get us. And when they get in that cars, travel to home, it was already dark and night and they got lost on the highway, they have to turn back,

MOM:   It was raining, snowing…

 DAD:   Then we go in a motel [in New York], and then we arrive the next day here [in Medina, Ohio].

[The interview ends at page 183 of From Vinkovci to Medina.]


This wraps up the immigration chronicle of the Webel family, from Vinkovci (Yugoslavia, now Croatia) unto Medina (Ohio), as refugees (“displaced persons”), ending with a successful landing and resettling in America, with some of their future offspring (Nate and Luke Webel), descended from young Robert Webel, to eventually arrive on planet Earth — as God’s providences in Webel family history continue —  as native Texans.


Volksdeutsche by the Dozen AD1951

In particular, that same Robert Webel (born in Yugoslavia, as a baby, with his family later fleeing Tito’s Communism) is the father of Stephen Webel, who is father (by his wife Erica) of sons and daughters, including brothers Nate and Luke Webel, the two native Texans.  (Thus Robert Webel, born in WWII, is the paternal grandfather of Nate Webel, Luke Webel, and their sisters.)

During January of AD2018 this author visited Chaplain Robert (and Marcia) Webel, in St. Petersburg, Florida, where they have lived for many years. Chaplain Bob gave me a book, then, which I since have read —  STINGING NETTLE, by Carola Schlatter & Kendra Ramsier (Westview, 2014; 284 pages), which chronicles many tragic adversities and survival adventures of Vladimir Fortenbacher and Margaretha Wittmann, who both became refugees from war-torn Yugoslavia, experiencing the heinous horrors of Tito’s Communism there immediately following World War II.  (Margaretha’s memories of living in concentration camps in Yugoslavia, after WWII, is a testimony to God’s sustaining grace – as many of her family were barbarically starved, tortured, and killed by Yugoslavian Communists (who hated anyone with any kind of German connection – including the German-speaking Swabians of Yugoslavia).

Vladimir and Margaretha both fled to Canada; they met there and married, and parented 12 children (10 daughters and 2 sons), whom they raised in the same Apostolic Christian Church (Nazarene) group that the Webels belonged to.  [For more on this Anabaptist group, see .]


So, for now, this series concludes with an appreciation that two native-Texan boys, Nate Webel (born in AD2007) and Luke Webel (born in AD2012), as well as their sisters, descend from German immigrant stock (“Volksdeutsche”) who trace back one ancestral line to paternal grandfather’s parents, Jakob Webel and Katarina Schleicher, whose early family life together included surviving WWII.      

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Dr. James J. S. Johnson is a member of the German-Texas Heritage Society, and an occasional contributor to its Journal pages.  A lover and teacher of Providential history and geography, Jim has taught at 4 different Christian colleges (LeTourneau University, Dallas Christian College, Concordia University Texas at Fort Worth, and ICR School of Biblical Apologetics) in Texas, as well as aboard 9 different cruise ships. As a C.P.E.E. (Certified Paternity Establishment Entity, credentialed by the Texas Attorney General’s Office), Jim maintains a strong interest in family history documentation. After studying under many teachers, at many schools, Jim happily acknowledges that his best teacher (under God) was Chaplain Robert (Bob) Webel.


Chaplain Bob Webel & JJSJ at Webel backyard, birdwatching [photograph by Marcia Webel]

><>  JJSJ

Below is Chaplain Robert Webel (who was 8 when his family came as refugees to America) with his wife, Marcia Webel, now residents of Florida. Chaplain Bob supplemented and clarified his sister’s transcribed interview of their parents (titled From Vinkovci to Medina) as quoted hereinabove.



[1] The 7 earlier episodes, in this Webel family history series, are published as follows:  (1) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part One: Jakob and Katarina Agreed to Marry Before They Ever Spoke to Each Other, A True Example of Love at First Sight…and First Sound”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 35(1):25-32 (spring 2013), quoting from Rosalie Webel Whiting’s From Vinkovci to Medina (unpublished Webel family history), supplemented by personal interviews with Chaplain Robert Webel (during August AD2012); (2) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Two: Volksdeutsche in Croatia, before World War II: Jakob and Katarina Webel are Merchants in Marinci (Taking Care of Business and the Business of Life)”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 36(3):154-170 (fall 2014); (3)Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Three: World War  II  Confronts  Jakob  and  Katarina  Webel (Swabians  Face  Nazi  Invaders  and  Yugoslavia’s  Break-up)”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 37(2):98-113 (summer 2015);  (4) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Four:  Surviving in Yugoslavia, Then Fleeing for the First Time – Jakob & Katarina Webel Escape from Marinci to Vinkovci,” Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 37(4):219-240 (winter 2015);  (5) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Five:  Fleeing Yugoslavia, Escaping the Communist Takeover: Jakob & Katarina Webel Flee Toward Germany,” Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 38(3):110-124 (fall 2016);  (6) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Six:  After Yugoslavia, Wandering Through Europe: Jakob & Katarina Webel, Fleeing To Germany,” Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 39(1):196-215 (spring 2017);  (7) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Seven:  Surviving on an Austrian Farm (and Elsewhere) After World War II: Jakob & Katarina Webel Family, Hoping for a New Home,” Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 39(4):389-418 (winter 2017).  This 8th episode has been published as:  “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Eight:  Refugees in Austria, Fleeing Post-WWII Europe for America—The Jakob & Katarina Webel Family Journey to a New Home,” Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 40(1):38-54 (spring 2018).

[2] This crisis is mentioned, as an example of identity-context confusion, in James J. S. Johnson, “The Gap Theory: A Trojan horse Tragedy”, ACTS & FACTS, 41(10):8-10 (October 2012), posted at .





Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part 7 / Part 7b: Sojourning in Donnersdorf Au, Austria

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part 7:

Surviving on an Austrian Farm (and Elsewhere) After World War II  —  Jakob and Katarina Webel Family,  Hoping for a New Home


Dr. James J. S. Johnson

And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.  But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.  (Leviticus 19:33-34)

Jakob & Katarina Webel family, immigrants in Austria

 [The ongoing interview of Jakob & Katarina Webel resumes from Part 7a, which see at: .]

The Austrian farmland, where the Webel family sojourned (after emigrating from Yugoslavia), is shown at , titledJakob & Katharina Webel history – Donnersdorf Au, Austria # 1”.


DAD:   Then we came there, I have to explain to that farmer again, our purpose, our aim, so I told him, we need only a place, the horses where to be, and food for the horses and a shelter where we could sleep and live, and for that, the horses will work for him and I. We did agree, I don’t ask to pay something for me. I don’t ask to feed the family, just that. And then he sold us [perhaps the verb “sold” here means “leased”, i.e., “rented” via barter for services to be performed by the Webel family], not far here is orchard, maybe like to that house over there, is  between orchard and …

 DAUGHTER:   How many feet is that, Dad?

MOM:   About 100 yards.

DAD:   But here is a way, is over there.

 MOM:   Road where the wagons go.

DAD:   And over there we could stay, and there was before we came, there was the prisoner of war, German, the soldiers from Poland or from America, was prisoner of war there and they were there sleeping and there was the house were there, a bedroom, a kitchen, and a barn, and a basement.

 MOM:   Not a “barn” — a “stall”.

 DAUGHTER:   A stall.

DAD:   A stall, and so. And we could have that, and was in, fenced in with barbed wire, that high, like a ceiling, and so, in the night they was fenced in because they sleep there and they go to work, but now is nobody there, but here bed, beds- 2×2. No, no, no. From the woods cut up, trees, wood that high, and the 2×4 back so men could lay that way or that way, how he want to lay.

 MOM:   Long was 2 yards. this way or this way.

DAD:   A bottom and on the top. So it had 2 layer.

 MOM:   And just straw, nothing else, no blanket or nothing, just straw.

DAD:   So that is there. In the kitchen was a stove, wood stove, built. So we put the horses in and we are there at home now.

 MOM:   Then we sit down and then they come with a bowl-full, like a farmer’s kit in, there’s almost nothing in, just good, made good though, we had for long time not so good food.

DAD:   They give us to eat, bring us to eat anyhow.

 MOM:   Supper, for milk for the children to drink and so.

DAD:   The farmers, because they are far from a city, they do not have to deliver the milk to the state, just only the-

 MOM:   Cream.

DAD:   The cream. Every morning they take the cream off, that farmer had to bring so and so much cream, that so and so much cream, and so, they have skim milk as much as they want.

 MOM:   Skim milk they feed, the people, swine.

DAD:   And so the next morning I went to work.

 DAUGHTER:   This farmer had what? He had cows?

DAD:   He had cows, he had pigs.

 DAUGHTER:   He had chickens.

 MOM:   Oh, yeah, lots of chicken there.

 DAUGHTER:   He had an orchard which contained? Apples?

DAD:   Oh, yeah, mostly apples.

 MOM:   Apples and pears and plums.

 DAUGHTER:   What did he farm?

DAD:   Corn and everything.

 DAUGHTER:   Wheat?

DAD:   Wheat.

 DAUGHTER:   Vegetables?

 MOM:   Soy beans.

DAD:   Not vegetables for   – – – cucumbers, spinach and so…

 MOM:   Cucumbers, lots of cucumbers. Wagons full.

DAD:   Like every farmer, whatever you could sell.

 MOM:   Pumpkins, couple acres.

DAD:   At that time the people were hungry for everything, whatever you could sell good.

 DAUGHTER:   Okay. Next morning you got up.

DAD:   Got up, whatever he said, plow, plow, disk , disk.

 DAUGHTER:   What time of year was this when you came to this farmer? Towards the fall.

DAD:   This was almost the fall, the second hay was ready to be cut.

 DAUGHTER:   So August. About August.

 MOM:   July or August, yes.

 DAUGHTER:   Well, Mom, Rosie was born the end of June.

DAD:   Yeah.

 MOM:   Yes.

DAD:   And if Rosie was 2 months old, it was the end of August, could be, could be.

 MOM:   It was 7 weeks she was old, I remember that  —  7 weeks old.

 DAUGHTER:   Did you have to have her birth documented anyplace when she was born?

 DAD:   When she was born, we get right away the document.

 DAUGHTER:   That was down in town.

 MOM:   Over there, yeah.

 DAUGHTER:   Courthouse or something? Which courthouse?

 MOM:   Obersel.

DAD:   That is like a Magistrate.

 DAUGHTER:   Magistrate, okay. You got up in the morning and did what the farmer wanted you to do. Why did he plow? Was it for a fall plow?

DAD:   Whatsoever[3] was he telled me to do, I did with the horses. Hauling manure, and in the fall they had-, they farmers are a people that way, the whole water, not only the water, the stall is here, the cows, and the drainage goes down in a cistern, this is mixed with rain water that came, and that they had pumps that put it in tanks, horses pull them on the hill, and in fall just pull them down-

 MOM:   Down the hill.

DAD:   Downhill.

 MOM:   That’s the only way.

DAD:   Only in the orchard everywhere.

 DAUGHTER:   That’s how they fertilize.

DAD:   Yeah, they fertilize that beside the manure. So if I could remember what’s I did there for which day but whichever he did, and Mom, in the morning, every day went to the house lady, she was single, “What can I do?“

 MOM:   What can I help? She had lots of workers.

DAD:   Then we had for years could buy no shirt, no material, no pants, no nothing. Everything was torn and the back was…

 MOM:   Made from 3, 4 pieces.

DAD:   Yeah, so Mom could, Mom did sew for her?

 MOM:   And make a garden.

DAD:   And go in the field.

 MOM:   Afternoon, all of, all afternoon, every afternoon we went to the field, worked with the other people.

 DAUGHTER:   Who took care of Rosie? Elsa?

 MOM:   Elsa. She bring her on the wagon to get-, then I give her-, in the afternoon later she bring her out walking on the road, in the field.

DAD:   Bring her to her….                                                                       

DAUGHTER:   Because you nursed her.

 MOM:   Nurse her. That was the only [option].

 DAUGHTER:   Did Elsa take care of all the children?

 MOM:   And then Robert was small and the house lady, she loved this Robert so much in the house, even her own too, they do all kinds of things with him. He was very active and cute and listen to all kinds of … she feed him. In evenings I came home and he’s not hungry, not at all. And she feed him butter and bread and all kinds of things.

 DAUGHTER:   This is where he’d hang on the cow’s tail.

 MOM:   On — yeah, yeah.

DAD:   Yeah, the cows are outside in the field, not in the field, that are fenced in, but here, in the pastures and escape now, that caught on any other pasture, and when the time came, the cow know the time is to go home.

 MOM:   They have kind of hollered to this cow, and then now the time they came all at of the gate.

DAD:   Somebody had to open the gate.

 MOM:   This Robert, everything he knows, open this gate, pull this heavy thing to pull them out of the loops, put them down on the floor, and the cows, they step over, they are used to this.

DAD:   Yeah, and so, and was nothing new if he pulls the cow on the tail, and follows…

 MOM:   Yeah, they had cows, very old cows, and very good cow, very slow, slow, just they had so much milk they cannot walk anymore in the evening. He hold them on tail till the cows went] in the fenced in area] … and they like it, they like him.[4]

DAD:   And he was … everything.

 MOM:   The farmer, all day long he had him on his horse, and he walks beside the wagon and Robert is riding the horse.

 DAUGHTER:   No, Robert was almost 4 years old then. Three.

DAD:   About 2½.

 MOM:   Well, we lived there 4 years with the farmer.

DAD:   He was always there. When we came…-

 MOM:   Then he came home and he said-

DAD:   First day, first day was not so. First day is everything shy, everything is strange, and little by little you are acquainted. When the fall came, there are many big pumpkins and they oh, they have to pick out the seed from the pumpkin. The seed is very good for making oil.

 MOM:   And cannot eat them, they should not eat them, it is not good for them, they get sick.

 DAUGHTER:   But they can eat the rind.

 MOM:   Oh, yeah. That’s the food. Cooking.

DAD:   And our children went there to clean that up.

 MOM:   They have to pick out about 50 pumpkins every day for this feeding pig. See, they was feeding pigs for selling and raising the young ones for themselves every year. Just like a mound, big mound. They had 60 fat pigs and then they had small.

 DAUGHTER:   Sow. Little baby pigs.

 MOM:   Yeah, baby pigs with  …  3, 4 mothers with the little ones.

DAD:   And interesting is that, by that farmer, the man eat all on the same table but all on the same bowl. Every man had his own spoon, and the table is round, you go round and eat from the same bowl, everyone, and then your own spoon, you wipe off on the tablecloth and put in the drawer and tomorrow you take your own spoon. You know which spoon is. So if you clean it up good yesterday, it is clean. If you don’t clean it so good, it is not clean. You will clean off with towel.

 MOM:   Put their marks on the spoon and this is your spoon. They know it.

DAD:   And the dishes when the…, here is the kitchen, here we have a kitchen, we eat, and behind the kitchen is another kitchen for the pigs kitchen they call it. There are here big kettles, they cook here in that big kettles, the pumpkin or the riva (turnips).[5]

 DAUGHTER:   Tell me what you’re talking about. Give me information.

 MOM:   Like red beets, just white beets.

DAD:   Beets, big beets.

 MOM:   Not sugar beets, but they were beets for the cooking.

DAD:   They cook for the pigs.

 MOM:   They cook them and smash them.

DAD:   And when that is hot, they go with that bowl we are eating put them . . . .

MOM:   In this cooking.

DAD:   . . . because all that wet stuff goes there and that’s just clean and the water pump..

 MOM:   Then they had in there, corner, a water pump, right away a pump and we get a hand pump and is a big cement bowl, not a bowl even-

DAD:   Yeah, like, yeah.

 MOM:   You know….

DAD:   That’s their washing.                                                                                         

MOM:   That’s their….

DAD:   But the . . .

MOM:   . . . rinse in place and put them there on the shelf.

 DAD:   But they feed the pigs for selling. Every pig have different, his own cage, where they are. And every pig had his own bowl that they eat. They never eat together. That pig has that much and then there, that pig has that, cannot eat here.

 MOM:   And they get very good food. They get milk and corn mixed, grounded corn, the mill came and ground the corn for them.

DAD:   But they are that small, their cage, they could hardly turn around.  When they got fat and big, they could not anymore turn around. They could just eat there and lay down.

 MOM:   They had cement and this is always clean. This cement, they just pull them out, the dirt is never dirty, always clean there.

DAD:   I mean, the men eat all of the same bowl, the pigs!

 MOM:   The pigs have their own.

 DAUGHTER:   Separate bowls.     ( LAUGHTER )

DAD:   That I worked as every time.

 MOM:   And they milk lots of cows there. Everyone had milk-

 DAUGHTER:   How many cows, approximately?

 MOM:   Oh, 20, 25, and 30, some so they leave the cream.

DAD:   And we were there, we came very good out, everywhere we go. We didn’t demand much and but we do work good and the people was everywhere good with us. They gave us freely. So later on they gave us even a whole pig for butcher without agreement.

MOM:   Without any thing. They said Mrs. Webel was coming, all, all afternoon, every afternoon she came over and she give the free pig.

 DAD:   For a while I did eat with them on the table, and then I stop, no, I would not eat.

 MOM:   Dad cannot eat with them.

DAD:   Then they [ask] why? They come and kind of upset why?

 MOM:   They were very upset.

DAD:   And Mom explained that I am not used to that eat off one bowl and all together, I get, I stay hungry. I came home and cook anyhow. You don’t have to give anything more. Just we will eat. And I went with, we did eat at home and went to work there.

 MOM:   I told her, Hannah, is she called. He satisfied with your food what you are cooking. He is not able to eat so to carry his food so far.

DAD:   They have now here in a bowl full with at this, say sour kraut, and then they cut a piece of meat on top here.

 MOM:   Thin sliced, eat like a spoon with peas.

DAD:   Thin sliced. With a spoon, I see him take it and put in food in the mouth. You need no knife. No knife, no fork just a spoon.

 MOM:   No fork on the table.

DAD:   You eat from yours, this side and that man eat from you his side, that man eats from his side.

 MOM:   Some is more fortunate, some get more meat.

DAD:   And some take care, just from top, the meat, first, and take 1, 2, 3 piece of meat, till you get 1.  And so on.

 MOM:   I then I told her, when you want, you can give me. I cook every day for my whole family and then I can cook for him too. You can give me once in a while when you want. A few eggs or a piece of butter or ..a chicken.

DAD:   And you could not live without money, you need always something, and our money did run out.

 DAUGHTER:   How much money did you take with you? Any idea?

DAD:   Our money run out.

 MOM:   We had …

DAD:   Now we need some money. We got ration card for milk, so and so much milk. And there are people, they pay us so much for the ration card and we give it, sell the ration card.

 MOM:   We sell the ration card for money.

DAD:   We sell the ration card for the tobacco. Then for Christmas or for Easter or some, we sell the ration card for the small children– nothing special, chocolate or coffee or something.

 MOM:   Conserva.

 DAUGHTER:   That’s like jam and jelly and stuff like that..

 DAD:   Yeah. Just meat, fish or so..

 MOM:   Yeah, only is like is now, tuna fish or something in this.

 DAUGHTER:   Sardines or something.

 MOM:   There was chocolate and all kinds of things for little children.

DAD:   But we could not afford that and we are not used to that kind of stuff even when we was in Yugoslavia so we sell that and we get money for that for a few groceries. And again we run out from money. Then Mom gave, also, you got to ? 3 spoons spool of thread, goes to the farmer house, and offer the children, Elsie or Reini or 2, 3 together and sell that for how much they get for it.

 MOM:   Not for money.

DAD:   Not money. Eggs, we need eggs or we need now butter, or we need that or we need that. Not sugar.

 MOM:   We get butter on the ration card, just we sell this ration cards.

 DAUGHTER:   This was after you left the farm.

 DAD:   No, [we’re] still on the farm.

 MOM:   We on the farm.

DAD:   And so we got that.

 MOM:   Dad made a big garden. We can make garden how big we want it.

 DAD:   That fence what we had around this, I cut them in the middle and that fence, I made a garden and orchard was just orchard in there, wild, and put garden in like we would use-

          [interruption in interview due to changing audiotape]


MOM:   The children…

DAD:   From the horses, the manure, not straw, just the fresh manure, filled up the garden, between the plants. And the children all day long pump, you know, up and down, up and down, fill up, fill up.

 MOM:   They had to stay home or they had to work, they had to all day long just pump on this hand pump.

 DAUGHTER:   The water.

DAD:   Yeah, the water, in the garden and the tomatoes grow that high and everything grows that high.

 MOM:   Peppers was so big, a whole pound meat you can put in one pepper, so big a pepper. We never had them and never will have them.

 DAD:   It was before and ever after. You cannot even believe it.

 DAUGHTER:   For a stuffed pepper, you could put a whole pound of meat in one pepper.

DAD:   You could, yes.

 MOM:   Could, you could not even use them, we sell them.

DAD:   We had the pepper since that time from Yugoslavia.

 MOM:   And the people came from the big cities on this farmers and get the tomatoes and the peppers in bags.

 DAUGHTER:   How big were your tomatoes? No, no, no.

 MOM:   Tomatoes, yeah, all [were big].

 DAUGHTER:   Make huge?

MOM:   Oh, like a softball.

 DAUGHTER:   Larger.

DAD:   Not all, not all, some are small.  But they big, you couldn’t put in [a small] shopping bag.

 MOM:   The vines were so big with so many on, you cannot believe.

 DAUGHTER:   Did you stake your tomatoes?

DAD:   Oh yes.

 MOM:   Yeah, stake them with this was tunnel. You had to crawl under there or under there, there was tunnel here and tunnel over there.

 DAUGHTER:   So you had peppers and tomatoes in your garden. What else?

 MOM:   All kinds of stuff.

 DAUGHTER:   And you sold most everything that you didn’t use?

 MOM:   Yah, then we had the parsley, and we had carrots and we had all kinds of things. And I can go on her farm and help her. Not help, picking for her, and later they was so used to me, they let me even plant everything, whatever.

DAD:   When the time came to plant the Kürbis, how you say…?

 MOM:   Pumpkin.  [The German word for “pumpkin” is Kürbis.]

 DAUGHTER:   Pumpkin.

DAD:   They plant a pumpkins or maybe a big wheel barrow full good manure-

 MOM:   On one pile.

DAD:   . . .on one pile, and then dirt from every side of-, that is a flatbed that high and that big at least in the girth.

 MOM:   Far apart, far apart.

DAD:   But Mom put the seed on them.

 MOM:   They let never nobody put the seed in, just I, they wait for me. Everything is ready, all the men and all are working on this hills of acres of-, then I had to go put the seeds in for the cucumbers and they said, we never had, that’s the best thing, they all grow what I put in, never failed once.

DAD:   We had melons, they had never seen melons before, grown.

 DAUGHTER:   Watermelons, Dad?

DAD:   Maybe they see in city.

 MOM:   Watermelons and the muskmelons.

 DAUGHTER:   Watermelons.

 MOM:   Watermelons and muskmelons.

DAD:   It’s just a clod [?];  I could work this.

 MOM:   And then they was very nice, very nice, big watermelons, the whole field was full. If somebody went out from the workers, cut them a square in and turn them over. The next thing was when I came out, I said, somebody was in our melon field and turned all the melons upside-down. Where everyone was I was looking, had a hole in it, in 4 square. Cut in four, was not waiting, I told them, you wait,[6]  – – – – They [say that they] “never saw it”. They saw it just from us.  They tasted how they looks from our garden, just I planted them in the field where they let us.

DAD:   How many, we plant them for us.

 DAUGHTER:   Did he ruin them then?

 MOM:   Yes.

DAD:   We planted for us and we had enough and we gave it to taste [as a sample[7]] and they like it.  Then they said, we got plenty fields, why not plant for us?

 MOM:   For all the people.

DAD:   So we did. But they were anxious to eat them, they are big and they don’t know when it’s ripe so they go, cut a hole, that’s not ripe, turn over so no one can see.

 MOM:   Yeah, on the yellow part, spot is on the top. You can see it… So I don’t have to plant any more green beans in our garden. I had enough on the field how many I want. I planted for them, they had bushels and bushels.

 DAUGHTER:   Did you preserve any of these for winter?

 MOM:   No, we don’t have bottles.

DAD:   Over there was born Jacob.

 DAUGHTER:   In this place.

DAD:   In this place.

 MOM:   Katie.

DAD:   And Katie.

 DAUGHTER:   Then you were there longer than 4 years.

DAD:   We were there from ’45 to ’50.

 DAUGHTER:   Yeah.

 MOM:   Longer, we was long there. This was a …

 DAUGHTER:   When did you leave [Donnersdorf Au, Austria] then in 1950 and why did you leave?

[to be continued, D.v.]

The next report (D.v.) concludes with Part 8 of the chronicle of the Webel family exodus, with further perils and adventures as sojourning refugees (“displaced persons”) as they leave the farm at Donnersdorf Au, in Austria, and seek a new temporary home in Austria – all the while hoping and planning to emigrate to America, to settle there, near the family of Jakob Webel’s sister in Ohio.

In God’s providence, that migration would occur, successfully, with some of their future offspring, descended from young Robert Webel (who was just a baby when the Webel family left Yugoslavia for Germany, and who guided Austrian cows as a toddler!), namely Nate and Luke Webel, sons of Steve Webel (Robert Webel’s son), to eventually arrive on Earth as native Texans.

That same Robert Webel (who emigrated from Yugoslavia, as a baby, with his family fleeing Communism) is the father of Stephen Webel, who is father (by his wife Erica) of brothers Nate and Luke Webel, the two native Texans mentioned in the earlier episodes of this series.  (Thus Robert Webel, born during WWII, is the paternal grandfather of Nate, Luke, and their sisters.)

><> JJSJ



[ NOTICE:  since Part 7b continues from Part 7a, the endnotes resume at # 3 ]

[3] Notice that “whatsoever” is King James English  — this is because Mr. and Mrs. Webel learned English, in America, from reading the King James Bible. By comparing a Scripture text in a Bible translation of an already-known language (such as a German Bible translation), to the same text in the King James Bible, the Webels could learn how to say the same thing in English.  Thus, the King James English version of the Holy Bible provided a convenient source of English vocabulary (i.e., serving as a bilingual dictionary/lexicon) by which the Webels could enhance/expand their English vocabulary, as immigrants who came to America not knowing English.

[4] This is one of the early signs that Robert Webel was a very remarkable young man – the magnificent destiny that God had in store, for young Robert (l/k/a “Bob”), would later be revealed in America – including his Biblical training at Moody Bible Institute, and his marriage to Marcia Alley, and their family, and Bob’s ministry in many places (including years of service as youth/college pastor at Montrose Baptist Church in Rockville, Maryland). Ironically, even these Austrian cows knew that Robert Webel was an extraordinary boy to be trusted.

[5] The German word for “turnip” is Steckrübe.

[6] Mom is talking about how some of the greedy men would be impatient to eat some of the watermelons that were still growing; those men would sneakily cut a square out of the top of a growing watermelon, remove the slice to eat, then hide their theft by turning the watermelon upside down (so that the cut part was on the ground, unseen by someone walking by. Mom told the men: “you wait!” (but the men claimed that they never saw any such theft occur.)    Mom was right, of course — with patience there would be bigger watermelons for eating.

[7] Jakob and Katarina Webel never lost their marketing skills, as merchants, even when working on a farm in Austria.


Volksdeutsche by the Dozen AD1951

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Dr. James J. S. Johnson is a member of the German-Texas Heritage Society, and an occasional contributor to its Journal pages.  A lover and teacher of Providential history and geography, Jim has taught at 4 different Christian colleges (LeTourneau University, Dallas Christian College, Concordia University Texas at Fort Worth, and ICR School of Biblical Apologetics) in Texas, as well as aboard 9 different cruise ships. As a C.P.E.E. (Certified Paternity Establishment Entity, credentialed by the Texas Attorney General’s Office), Jim maintains a strong interest in family history documentation. After studying under many teachers, at many schools, Jim happily acknowledges that his best teacher (under God) was Chaplain Robert (Bob) Webel.


Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part 7: Surviving on an Austrian Farm / Part 7a: Reaching Donnersdorf Au, Austria

Jakob & Katarina Webel family, AD1951: "Volksdeutsche by the Dozen"

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part 7:

Surviving on an Austrian Farm (and Elsewhere) After World War II  —  Jakob and Katarina Webel Family, Hoping for a New Home


Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee….  (Genesis 26:3a).

In this seventh episode of the “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen” family history series, the ethnic-German family of Jakob and Katarina Webel, after evacuating from their former home in (what is today) Croatia, and having traveled through Germany, as a refugee family, during the last months of World War II, – plus sojourning as farmers for ~5 years (AD1945-AD1950) in Donnersdorf Au (Austria), and thereafter in Graz (Austria), they hoped and planned (e.g., in Salzburg, Austria) for a new home in Ohio (America), near the sister of Mr. Jakob Webel.


Volksdeutsche by the Dozen AD1951

During years on the Donnersdorf Au farm, the Webel family raise many vegetables, including pumpkins, watermelons, carrots, beans, parsley, etc., plus raising farm animals, e.g., pigs, chickens, and cows.  Even after 60+ years, little Robert Webel is remembered for how he would hold onto a trusting cow’s tail!  Regarding little Robert Webel’s fame in Donnersdorf Au (Austria), a local recalls his unique toddler personality – 61 years later!  [See 14:46 (of 19.55) in the YouTube posted at .]

For a YouTube mini-documentary of the Webel years in Donnersdorf Au, Austria, see , titledJakob & Katharina Webel history – Donnersdorf Au, Austria # 1”. This video footage features Elisabeth Webel Yovichin, her daughter Kristy Yovichin Steiner, her son David Yovichin, and David’s wife Sandy Folia Yovichin (i.e., Elisabeth Webel Yovichin’s daughter-in-law). This 17-minute-long video-recorded visit to Donnerdorf Au occurred in May of AD20110. (In the video Elisabeth Webel Yovichin mentioned that her father (Jakob Webel) dies in AD1989, and that her mother (Katarina Webel) dies in AD2002.  This family history is continued in “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Donnersdorf Au, Austria # 2”, at . See also Bad Radkersburg [Austria] – Mom’s School”, at  and “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Graz, Austria”, at .

A related video episode reports on the Webel family’s sojourning time in Germany, as refugees, titled “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Obernzell & Winzer, Germany” [where a flour mill was located], at .

For a quick slide-show overview of the Webel family’s refugee years in Europe, see David Yovichin’s “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Europe (with Mom [Elisabeth Webel] Yovichin) – Slideshow”, at . This 11-minute youtube mini-documentary (accompanied by music that aptly fits the providential history depicted by the video footage “slides”) provides highlights from the entire series of video episodes noted here, with helpful geography indicators from time to time.

More related video episodes (by David Yovichin) include: “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Vinkovci, Croatia”, at; “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Marinci, Croatia # 1”  at – followed by “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Marinci, Croatia # 2”, – followed by “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Marinci, Croatia # 3”, at  — followed by “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Marinci, Croatia # 4”, at  – followed by “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Marinci, Croatia # 5”, at .

[CHRONOLOGY CORRIGENDUM NOTE: In the interview excerpt quoted below, the interviewing daughter is identified as a Webel girl born during April of AD1949. However, in earlier episodes of this series,[1] I reported the interviewing daughter as Rosie Webel, since she is the one who actually produced (i.e., authored) the transcribed interview as a family history. But the actual interview questions  —  at least those appearing on page 163  —  cannot have been asked by Rosalie Webel, the ultimate author/producer of the Webel family record (“FROM VINKOVCI TO MEDINA”), because Rosie is reported as 6 years old (see newspaper photo and caption, above) during early AD1951, so she would have been born about 4 years before the daughter whose questions are recorded on page 163. However, Katherina (shown in Mr. Jakob Webel’s arms, in the above-shown newspaper photograph, is then reported as age “2”.  Accordingly, although the arithmetic is not a precise fit (because a child born during April AD1949 would be almost-but-not-yet “2” years old, as of March 19th of AD1951), it appears that the interviewing daughter, who is referred to on page 163, must be Katherina (a/k/a “Katie” – see also pages 156, 162, 168-169), since she was born during early AD1949. This correction should be imputed to prior episodes that apparently err when indicating Rosie as the interviewing daughter.]



Jakob & Katarina Webel family, AD1951: “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen”

How can the Webel family survive, as refugees, outside their native Yugoslavia? What about food, shelter, hygiene, and some kind of stable future for family living? For immediate survival, as refugees, what can they do, as they plan for a permanent solution to the problem of being forced to escape their homeland (and earlier life as merchants there)?  What must the “new normal” be, until a permanent home can be established, somewhere?  Where to live, now?  Where to live, later?  And how can a successful transition be made, to eventually settle in

a new homeland with a new home, where they can live according to their faith and values, as ethnic-German “Nazarene” Anabaptists? None of this will be easy!

[This interview quotes pages 116-172, From Vinkovci to Medina.]

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

 DAD:   Now we are alone. We are alone. That other family left and we are alone. Very good, we go with 6 small children and waiting another to go. Where could we go? Here is the Danube River, beside the river is a road. Always in the mountains, between the mountains where the river is, .  .  .  .

 DAUGHTER:   What for?

 MOM:   The river is there. They fall down. This a kind of fence like here they build on the bridges.

DAD:   Just a post here and a post there, mark every half kilometer or whatsoever. So our ship, the Hungarian soldier, they bound it, they fasten it here and there on 2 posts in the front, in the back, so we are here anchored. Everybody is left, we are there, our everything(?). So I, with Reini, what do we do? We could not stay here. No houses, no neighbor, no people living there, so we went out looking for something. We found an old and new automobiles or trucks but nobody knows how to drive it and nobody had a key and we found a farmer, he had a horse and we bought the horse and a buggy.

 DAUGHTER:   With the money originally from-

DAD:   Yeah, yeah.

 MOM:   From all the stuff.

DAD:   We bought that for money, some money. Then we had-

 DAUGHTER:   Where did you get that money?

DAD:   I told you. We had the money from before.

DAUGHTER:   That’s what I wanted to know.

 DAD:   We had the transfer from Yugoslav money, make German money. And beside that we had in a-, more than we had, I had to put in the bank and I got now received over half million in Germany money, that I got just a receipt, that’s all. And money is not much.

 DAUGHTER:   A receipt.

DAD:   Money is not much so we will give that farmer that bottle filled with margarine. And that-

 MOM:   And the stove and all kinds of stuff.

DAD:   Food whatever we could not carry. And we loaded all the-

 MOM:   The rice.

DAD:   Loaded all in that buggy and we had a small buggy made like a big buggy, little bit larger than that, like a big buggy, that we had from

DAD:   Yugoslavia already.

 MOM:   Four years.

DAD:   And we loaded that and hang on the big buggy.

 DAUGHTER:   How big was this wagon?

DAD:   This wagon was little bit bigger than that.

 DAUGHTER:   No, the big wagon.

DAD:   The big wagon. Oh, how big?

 DAUGHTER:   Like for baling hay?

 MOM:   Three yards long and almost that, like that.

DAD:   Not like that, little bit shorter, but about that short.

 DAUGHTER:   And as wide as-

DAD:   Like they are normally.

 MOM:   10 feet by 5 feet.

 DAUGHTER:   Was it covered?

 MOM:   No, was open.

 DAUGHTER:   Flat wagon?

 MOM:   No, wagon with sides.

 DAUGHTER:   Flat bed or just a shell inside?

DAD:   No, not shell. That high the sides, just 2 feet high.

 DAUGHTER:   And how many horses?

DAD:   One.

 MOM:   One, one.

DAD:   And we want to go, how far? The first place where is a hospital or where are a nurse.

 DAUGHTER:   Yeah, when you were 9 months or 8 months pregnant, right?

DAD:   Not farther but that much. First our intention was to get home before we got the baby.

 MOM:   While this was taking weeks and weeks.

DAD:   But it takes time so, that all, so now is the time, we came in the first town, what was the name?

 MOM:   Obersel.

DAD:   Then we get there, came in a city hall, you call it here a city hall. All we said was we need, but they have not. They are not obligated to give us something because we are now no more refugee. We are no more-, when we was in the Winsor, they are obligated to give us everything, now we are our own.

 DAUGHTER:   What made that determination?

DAD:   Because we left, we left by our own free will.

 MOM:   Free will to go home.

DAD:   We left our home. So, but they gave us ration card, every city when we came, our ration card, we got the food, we got that family….

 MOM:   So far we had them and then we get food for them.

DAD:   And they have nothing but they have a barracks, army barracks, through that road on, that’s uphill so far, and then the other part, they is plenty room, you could lodge there. So, what to do? Lets go, there nothing to do, nothing, so we go uphill and go, go, go, cannot farther pull the wagon.

 MOM:   Horse cannot go farther.

DAD:   So what yet? Unload the half stuff, half children stay there, and wait, and we go up. When we get up there, horse, we unload that, and when the Hungarian people and other kind people in that filled up the barracks but you’ve got room. And the people say, ‘you want to came over here? In that state is full with bed bugs.’ If you know what bed bugs is.

 MOM:   Want this. No. You cannot sleep in this house.

DAD:   But we passed a water mill, for food grounding flour, was a small more river, we pass that. That just one house, nothing, we pass it. No, we will not stay there, Mom goes to the children.

 MOM:   I said, don’t unload it, we go back. Let me go. I said, let’s me go. Okay.

DAD:   So Mom went down with Else.

 MOM:   Took Else, left them there.

DAD:   We stayed there.

 MOM:   He’s talking to this people, all kinds.

DAD:   We stay there not unloading and that’s some children are there, I do not know which one but Reini probably know. So Mom came there to that mill on the way.

 MOM:   Mill lady.

DAD:   She pass by the mill lady and stopped by her and talked with her and ask her for a place to live.

 MOM:   To stay overnight.

DAD:   And that lady, she had not very good living with her husband, and the husband was the owner from that mill and her husband and her husband’s brother, they work. They run the mill, the two men, and now was the husband sleeping and brother-in-law was working. So that woman has compassion with Mom, Mom promise her she give her that rice and give her that and that, and they had built a small cabin. There was 2 men sleeping there and baking bread for the soldier because that, not soldier, but for the civilian taken in the war defending, but this was a, was a small building for that purpose.

 MOM:   Just for making bread.

DAD:   There was beds there, not a bed, just to sleep in, to make bread and tables and they taked their own. And if you are satisfied with that, I will [?].

 MOM:   She show me this little room and she said, I can you give this overnight, my husband is now asleep, just you can have this little room, that’s the only thing what I have. I said, I don’t mind, just even the barn where your cows lay.

DAD:   She was satisfied with that.

 MOM:   Then we agreed both, and I went up there.

DAUGHTER:   How big was this little cabin?

DAD:   Cabin was about like our own kitchen.

 DAUGHTER:   About the size of your kitchen?

DAD:   About.

 MOM:   About 10 x 10.

DAD:   No, not like that. Was small and long.

 MOM:   Small and long.

DAD:   It’s okay. So Mom agreed and she get back to us and we, with the horse, go downhill, there is up there unload our stuff and went there, bring the other stuff with the children. And we did have covered up our wagon.

DAUGHTER:   With a tarp.

DAD:   Yes.

 MOM:   With some cover.

DAD:   And the bigger children slept there in the wagon. We make them sleep there. And so when in the morning or when the husband woke up, the owner, he was, when she told him, he was very upset and very mad.

 MOM:   He almost throw her away, threw her out of the house.

DAD:   Very upset and very mad, loud because she did it. And why he was upset so much? It’s, again, a reason. When the German army fell apart, there was many horses, German horses everywhere and prisoner of war go, take that horse and that horse, we will go home, the prisoner of war, to Poland land or to Yugoslavia and take the horses along. So we need a horse and that horses eat this farmer’s, that mill owner’s and farmer what…  his food here and there and he could do nothing about because-

DAUGHTER:   His wheat. His wheat they eat.

DAD:   His wheat and his hay, and everything and he could do nothing about because they are, they win the war. I have to be quiet, they could shoot me.

 MOM:   They can shoot our whole family out of our house.

DAD:   What could I do, so he was quiet, but now she-, but these men, American, before we came, the American put them together, all of their prisoner of war in the big autos, took them home, no horses.

 MOM:   No horses. Leave all those horses on the way.

DAD:   They thought they will take the horses along, but the American take the men home. You are from Poland, to Poland, Yugoslavian to Yugoslavia, wherever they belong. Now the men is get rid of the Polish horses, now we came with horse and he had nothing.

 MOM:   He had nothing.

 DAUGHTER:   He was jealous that you had a horse and he had nothing?

DAD:   No, no. Our horse get to eat his stuff.

 DAUGHTER:   He didn’t want your horse eating his stuff.

DAD:   Was little bit what he had, was left. Not jealous of me.

 MOM:   See, this is not like here a field, they had mountains where nothing grow, then it’s a river, and then it’s the road, and again the mountains.

DAD:   Just little bit here grow.

 MOM:   Just a little bit in this corner and the other corner grow something beside the river or some.

DAD:   And I go then-

 DAUGHTER:   How did she soothe him?

DAD:   When the morning came, I get up, out, the man was there. Waiting to see who’s there. I went there, talk with him, like with a boss.

 DAUGHTER:   What language did he speak?

DAD:   German. This is Germany. And so [I speak] the German language.  I went to him, introduce myself, who am I and so on, and we thank him for accepting us. And I said, our horse will not eat your stuff. We will go with the children in the mountains pull grasses here and there to bring to feed the horse.

MOM:   Get far in the woods and we will bring it home.

DAD:   And with that small wagon we had, we will feed our horses not from your stuff. And I will help you to work just for that, for to be here. You will not feel sorry because we work and help.

 MOM:   We want to go home to Yugoslavia, we are on the trip, just I cannot go farther, I had to get child born, then we will go riding.

DAD:   And when the people go there mowing grass for hay. but mowing grass, the hill, and some hill is so steep, some hill is not so steep, but when the hill is steep, then put a rope on the man here and somebody holds up stay, up, up, and then going downhill and cut the hay.

 MOM:   And they hold them all the way(?).

DAD:   And not let a little bit by and when it not so steep, then there’s no rope, then he mows, and when the hay is dry, they pull it just down.

 MOM:   They roll from top to the bottom.

 DAUGHTER:   When the hay is dry.

DAD:   When hay is dry. There big rake, down, down, down, down, down.

 MOM:   Big rolls.

 DAD:   And when they do, I went with them always to work.

MOM:   Work every day.

DAD:   Whatever they did, I went to work. I was not afraid to work and Mom was not afraid either, as much as she could in that condition.

 DAUGHTER:   Did you take the children with you, any of them?

 MOM:   No, no, no.

DAD:   The children have to take care for the horses. They go the mountain for grass, I said bring grasses to feed the horse.

 MOM:   And bring blueberries home or raspberries home to eat, and all kinds of things. They are making bread. I went to help them making the big dough. Every day they had to bake bread and all kinds of things, and this old lady there.

DAD:   And they now get horses, was the soldier, German soldier left, and prisoner of war left. That horses will be sold by auction, whosoever buy, and we was there. And in that close there we lived, by that same he had under something, like I magazine or what underneath was a room for make a stall for the horse to be, but it was not built for that, it was so small, here was a pole, and here was a pole, and somehow the horse laid down and could not get up, they get entangled and then broke the neck and so we had to-

 MOM:   Butcher.

DAD:   Not  …  we did butcher, but somebody else butchered that horse so we had.

 MOM:   They butchered the horse, we don’t want it.

DAD:   And that horses was now, the German horses was auctioned and we bought 3 horses and that mill owner bought 2 horses. Up to then he was making his delivery, he had delivery the flour in the stores. He had to deliver that much , the government give that, he ground it and after that-

[interruption in interview due to changing audiotape]

DAUGHTER:   Was he grinding corn and wheat or just wheat?

DAD:   It was mostly wheat.

 MOM:   Mostly wheat.

DAD:   And then when he bought the horses, he put them in the wagon but he could not drive them.

 MOM:   He never had them.

DAD:   Not only that, in that part of the country, the horses are, the wagons are built that way like the plow. So one horse could go.

 DAUGHTER:   Oh, sure, they a center axle type thing.

DAD:   And the center axle had but where they pull, and one pull ahead, and another goes back. And their horses what in Yugoslavia they could not saddle, one horse works, the horses could push back. The other horse could go without pulling anything so the horses were not used to that kind of travel, that kind of-

 DAUGHTER:   They were used to being ridden, not work horses.

DAD:   Even work horses.

 DAUGHTER:   Oh, okay.

DAD:   So when one of them pulls up, the other could push back so never, never could go. Then I go with them, I hold the horses tight, both horses tight on one hand, both horses here, and go by feet far away and leading the horses, you could not go one up forward and one back. All together so leading in the town and leading them back till their horses get acquainted. And so we was working.

 MOM:   Passed weeks and Dad spent every day in the city walking.

 DAUGHTER:   Pulling the horses.

 MOM:   This horses carry and they would not go otherwise.

DAD:   So there their owner was very, very satisfied with us. And then the time came that Mom should deliver. We called how they call how you call?

MOM:   Midwife.

DAD:   Midwife and she want in the hospital. No, we want at home and the baby was delivered there.

 DAUGHTER:   In this little cabin?

 MOM:   Yah [ Ja ], in cabin.

DAD:   Yeah, in little cabin. And when the Mrs. Rossinger saw in the morning we are up, she came right away, take all the dirty stuff, all the diapers, every dirty stuff, wash it, and she..

 MOM:   She was so busy lady.

DAD:   And she was so good toward us, Mom was never, had never such a good time with the baby like she had then.

 DAUGHTER:   Because someone was there to help her.

DAD:   Because someone takes her real good care. Two times, three times, cooked meal, good meal, not only for her, for the whole family.

 DAUGHTER:   Mrs. Rossinger did that?

DAD:   Mrs. Rossinger did that.

 MOM:   For them all and for me. For them all and for me.

DAD:   Yeah, and the washing, everything, she didn’t let Mom wash, she didn’t let me wash, she did it.

 DAUGHTER:   Why do you suppose she did that?

DAD:   Why? Because she had never… she had three children or two and she had never a good time. She had not very good time with her husband at all and she had not good time. Why she do it? That’s because she did it.

 DAUGHTER:   How long were you there?

DAD:   We lived there-

 MOM:   Just a month more than this.

DAD:   And when Rosie was born. After that and then their little Billy was a man.

 MOM:   This was the big Billy.

DAD:   Yeah, boy or whatever, was a big boy now.

 MOM:   Yeah, Billy-

DAD:   She got a girl and a boy.

 MOM:   Yeah, Billy had something happen to him in his foot had something in his foot and she had to take him to the doctor. There’s no doctor for them, they cannot go to a doctor, we can go to the-

DAD:   No doctor, German that is here, just American doctor, and the American doctor could not take care of the German people because they are enemies.

 MOM:   And we are..

DAD:   But we are Yugoslav they will, now we are not German, we are Yugoslav, they will. So Mom should go with that boy-

 MOM:   As my own.

DAD:   — as my boy. That’s my boy told him.

 MOM:   And then they take care of him. I said, no, Mrs. Rossinger, I don’t do this, I will not lie and say that’s my boy if not my boy. I will not do this.

DAD:   But they see what is in the boy.

 MOM:   I know now. He stepped in a strick needle, in a big needle.

 DAUGHTER:   Oh, in a crochet hook.

MOM:   Not a crochet hook, just a long one was half out from the ground and he stepped. And then I said, Mrs. Rossinger, I will not do this, I make some medicine for him and we will put on the place what happened to him. And I will see, when I go I will explain that’s not my child, just we are living in the same house.

 DAUGHTER:   Mom, how old was this Billy?

 MOM:   About 14 years old. And then I made this plaster, what’s ever just make bread and soap and she had all things what I need and we put them on and he was getting better. He had no fever, only getting better and he jumped around the house and he was not like sick boy.

DAD:   So he got healed.

 MOM:   And then her girl was 9 year old and she had a stick [i.e., puncture wound from a stinging insect]  from when they went picking blueberries in the mountains and she had on her breast just way on the pimple that it have sting and on the head, they pull the head, the rest from the bug fell off and she had such a big breast this little child.

DAD:   Swollen.

 MOM:   Swollen and she was so in fever, she don’t tell me, Mrs. Rossinger. And one day I said, where is Mandy? (I didn’t have good the name.) She said, Mandy’s very sick, she had that thing so I want to ask you will go again to the doctor, just I know you would not do. I said, Mrs. Rossinger, you should tell me, I will mix the same, what I made on Billy’s leg and this will be over in short time. We made it. She said for 3 nights she was not asleep and not.. with a high fever. We made this, Mandy fell asleep, about 2 hours after this popped open with all the

 DAUGHTER:   Pus and everything.

 MOM:   All that material, how you say it, pus, came out, Mandy was better, everything was good.

DAD:   They were very happy with us, father and mother, and-

 MOM:   When they feed Robert, Robert was already trained without bottle or any, we don’t have, and she had a little boy like the same age was Peterli. He has not his Dad made this…

DAUGHTER:   There was a Billy and a Mickey and a Peter.

 MOM:   Mandali and a Peter. and the Peter don’t, he don’t want to drink the bottle. They had many milk, all time what he want, he can have, he would not drink. Our Robert has the same bottle, they had to be sitting them besides each other, and they drink their whole bottle. Otherwise he would not drink, this Peterli. So they spoiled even the Robert.

DAD:   And now when a week or two week was Rosie old, we got to go.

 DAUGHTER:   Before we go too much further, have we already gone past the time when Robert would hang on a cow’s tail?

DAD:   No.

 MOM:   Oh, no, we have…this is way later..

 DAUGHTER:   I don’t want you to forget that part. So let’s go.

DAD:   There Robert was too small. And now we want to leave. Mr. Rossinger don’t want to let us. He had, uphill on the same river-

 MOM:   Sawmill.

DAD:   . . . sawmill, you know what is, to cut it.

 DAUGHTER:   Sure. Yeah.

DAD:   And I should go there, work for him, and we could live there.

 MOM:   The house there and everything is there. They will give us everything there.

DAD:   We want to go home. And that was very close to the Austrian border American was here has, and American was there but just German, during the war was it one. In 1939 German annexed it was it one German. But when the war was over, Austria is not part to Germany, we are separate. So we go to Austria and the Austria have to accept us, they have no power because there are American here, American there, they are the powers so we came there. If we would came from Yugoslavia, flying from the Communists, they had to accept us and put us in a camp, somewhere. But because we came from Germany, we go somewhere, nobody, you are on your own.

 MOM:   See, we had to go, then they left this farmers, Brassinger, just one more little town and then is the border, just we had to go over that Danube [River] with the big ship again.

DAD:   Over the river.

 MOM:   Yeah, even across river.

 DAUGHTER:   Like with a ferry.

 MOM:   Yeah, with a ferry. With the horses and with the children….

DAD:   Now we could not go back to Germany and we do not want to go back, we want to go there. But when we came, nobody wants us but we go.

 MOM:   Nobody wants us anymore.

DAD:   But we came and here is a big camp, many Yugoslav people and here we meet people who were already back after war in Yugoslavia and Tito and the communists strip them naked and sent them back. And so we are afraid to go in Yugoslavia. So we don’t go straight as the road. We go this way and that way we heard we are there, even the Pfeiffer’s are there. Go there. Just they are in a camp. The camp is full. think!. They have no power to say, ‘Come with us.’

 DAUGHTER:   A refugee camp barracks.

DAD:   Yeah, barracks.

 MOM:   People and people.

DAD:   The army barracks transferred into refugee camp but filled up. And if I came from Yugoslavia, they have to give me room but if I came from Germany, nobody. So we went from here to there, from here to there.

 MOM:   Three weeks on this or four we do.

DAD:   More. With a ration card. You get here, stop here, it’s a little bit river, little bit water, take what we have to bring to water the horses, and little bit of grass to feed. Then here is a farmer, we go there, pick some hay, oh, I give you the ration card for tobacco, I will give you ration for that, I will give you little bit rice, I give you little bit rubber band with that.

MOM:   Rubber bands.

DAD:   That they deal with it. Yet we came close to a city called Bad Ishel. That’s the place where Austrian king have summer vacation, a big city on the high mountain. And close to that and when the . . . about from the mountain up and down, Reini’s job was to go behind the wagon, when we go downhill to put the brakes on.

 MOM:   The horses could not hold the wagon.

DAD:   There was not a brake, with a pedal, so you go behind the wagon and you have to screw to hold it. So he again, now it’s a little better so he let them go and go up. And was a little bit rainy, and he slip up and wagon went over his-.

 MOM:   He jumped on the front where he get up.

DAD:   Yeah, but he slip down in there. Now he was sick, sick, sick [i.e., very injured].

MOM:   His legs was broken.

 DAUGHTER:   It was the foot that he ran over?

 MOM:   Oh, yeah.

DAD:   And then I take him in small wagon and pull him to the town.

 DAUGHTER:   How old was Reini now?  More like 12, huh?

 DAD:   Reini was [born] in ’34-

 DAUGHTER:   Nine at this time?

DAD:   No, no, no, bigger, bigger, 11.  Well, this is ’44, ’45.  What?

 DAUGHTER:   When was Reini born?

DAD:   ‘34. Now it’s 45, and so, take the first to the doctor, doctor take care of it and say, give us what he needs based on what he did, next town go to the doctor again. So, still not long after that we get-

 MOM:   Cannot walk anymore. He have to lay in the wagon. Nobody can go on the wagon, all we had to walk. He had to lay in the wagon, big wagon.

DAD:   Yeah, and then we, when we get in that big city, they have a hospital, we had to there, but the big city built on the mountain, the streets are small, the houses are crowded, no place to park the horses together so we in this hospital, put them there, oh, he have to stay there in the hospital. So we had to put him in the hospital, we go out of the town, how far will we go? To first place where we could find, so was a railroad crossing, railroad there and a small river there and-

 MOM:   A couple houses.

DAD:   A couple of houses, and beside the river was a little bit grass, that’s the place we could stop. The horses can here, eat the grasses, but one thing we had, the main thing, we had water to wash the diapers and to …

 MOM:   And clothes, I wash all because we have to stay 3 days in this.

DAD:   And beside that, I had made from a heavy wire like that, just on 3 place feet, and put a thin sheet on it bind with wire, so to put fire here on and cook on that.

 DAUGHTER:   Like a small tripod type thing.

 MOM:   Yeah, yeah.

DAD:   And that we put always under the wagon when we travel and fine, so-, and when we go somewhere, the children pick up that food, pick up that wood so we have —

 MOM:   And we see a little branch, we send to get in the wagon.

 DAUGHTER:   Who paid for Reini’s hospital stay?

DAD:   I did. When we get there, he was out of the hospital and we are there on that place, on that space, oh, here is a farmer, go up to the farmer and beg for some hay, pay for that, tomorrow, and we stay there for 3, 4, 5 days and every once in a while I walk to the hospital, he was not in the gypsum in the iron.

 MOM:   Kind of boards, boards all with the….

 DAUGHTER:   Called a splint. They had his leg in a splint.

 MOM:   Yeah, yeah.

DAD:   The whole foot was very damaged.

 MOM:   And all the fingers.

 DAUGHTER:   Little bones.

DAD:   And in that time, like before, we were of the faith and we never did steal, and we make our living so, but we could not go to farther and nobody will sell anymore.

 MOM:   They selled us already couple times here give us some hay.

DAD:   The whole thing was-, important was food for the horses.

 DAUGHTER:   You still had 3 horses?

 MOM:   Yeah, 3 horses.

DAD:   And one evening I went there with a rope and opened the barn. See, the hay is here, is the hayfield, not a farmers house, hayfield, and down on the bottom of the hill they had a barn, I would say, to put the hay in.

 MOM:   No, no animals, just hay.

DAD:   Just hay, and in the winter, when they need it, they came with a wagon, took it home where the animals are. So nobody’s there, I went there and opened and fill up my rope and on my back and take it to the horses where we are to feed them, once. When I did that, I know it’s not right, I know it’s stealing, but I justify myself. It is written when the-, you short the horse not bound mouth when they are threshing, and it is written when they are passed when Jesus went to the field, they passed and get hungry, they have pick it and even the corn and eat.[2]  This was not their corn, but they need it, so I justify myself and I was not condemning myself but [my] justification was not justified.

 DAUGHTER:   You didn’t feel good.

DAD:   I was not justified but I try to justify myself.  So when we get Reini out, we didn’t have to pay nothing, this war time…   that was so…

 DAUGHTER:   Was his foot completely healed?

 MOM:   Oh, no, we had to carry.

DAD:   We had take care again.

 DAUGHTER:   What did they do to him in the hospital, Mom?

 MOM:   Put new bandages on him, everything new.

DAD:   First, they put in the gypsum, but not in the gypsum, they put an iron here, an iron here, to hold it.

 DAUGHTER:   Gypsum means cast.

 MOM:   Cast. Don’t make … 

 DAD:   . . . cast, cast, but make an iron here and put them on maybe a right place and bandaged them and stay that long, 3, 4 days there.

 MOM:   This no infection, this was everything they take…

DAD:   Then they say they will give us a paper, with that you go where you go, the first doctor, he will what now to do.

MOM:   The biggest city what we get towns and towns, and again a bigger city, in this city, this and this, a hospital or a doctor …

 DAUGHTER:   Was his foot broken open or was the skin all still intact?

DAD:   No, was not intact.

MOM:   What is” intact”? [i.e., what does “intact” mean, as used in the phrase “not intact”?]

 DAUGHTER:   His skin was all torn and everything.

 MOM:   Torn.

 DAUGHTER:   Where were you traveling to?

 DAD:   Back to Yugoslavia.

 DAUGHTER:   Were you still trying to go back to Yugoslavia?

 MOM:   Oh, yes.

DAD:   We are trying to take time, to take time to stay there as if possible.

 MOM:   If somebody wants us.

DAD:   We are afraid to go to Yugoslavia but we have no place to stay so we are traveling like gypsies..

 DAUGHTER:   You’re looking for a home in Austria.

DAD:   Here and there and always closer, closer to the Yugoslav border, and the mountains are that steep somewhere horses hold back the

wagon. The 2 wheels are tight, could not roll, and the wagon runs before the horses.

 MOM:   Cross the road, not like this.

DAD:   Like when you go with automobile and it cut out and it go that way.

  DAUGHTER:   That’s how steep it was going downhill even though you had 3 of the wheels locked.

 MOM:   Yah  [Ja],  2 of the wheels were locked.

DAD:   Two of the wheels, yeah, yeah. And still it was very dangerous. And Rosie grew little by little older but as long as the wagon rolls, she was quiet. When we stop, ahhhhh, cries, cries, cries.

 MOM:   She cries.

DAD:   And every people wherever we go, were aware we got the baby, and some were curious, some came-

 MOM:   And never left the children in the wagon on the hill down, we had them out of the wagon and had them walk down and when the wagon was down, and everything is set, then we go back in the wagon and go again.

DAD:   So we go lots of time. Interesting things, sometime a horse could not walk in a whole day, ten miles. Two mile, 3 mile, it cannot walk.

MOM:   Can’t walk, just so tired.

DAD:   A man could much more endure than a horse can.

 DAUGHTER:   Were the horses shod? Did they have shoes?

DAD:   Yes, yes. They have shoes.

 MOM:   They had shoes, they get so soft they cannot walk anymore.

 DAUGHTER:   Okay, then what happened?

DAD:   Then finally we came to Leipsik [i.e., Leipzig, in Saxony, Germany – formerly spelled “Leipsic”].

 DAUGHTER:   What happened to Rosie’s crying?

DAD:   I would just say, nothing, she cried, you have to stop them, but it was so.

 MOM:  Everybody know we have a baby since as soon we stay on the road. But for a water or whatever.

DAD:   Telling about that…. one place we stopped is a railroad, beside the railroad, place we stop, we stop here. The horses put down on the wagon untied and give something food.

 MOM:   Right here is the railroad and here is the road and this was a triangle so was just weeds and trucks and…

DAD:   And we stayed there, was a flatbed truck there standing beside it, and we take our stuff on the flatbed there, catch a little sleep there.  Came-

 DAUGHTER:   On the flatbed truck, Mom.

 MOM:   Yeah.

DAD:   A lady from the window calls, ‘we [i.e., you] have no right to stay here, we [i.e., you] should go away, this.’

 MOM:   She was yelling at us all kinds of stuff.

DAD:   Cannot go farther, we stay here.

 MOM:   And the other lady. Don’t forget the other lady is looking through the window over the railroad and she see all the thing what I do. I wash the children one by one and make their beds ready and I wipe them with my apron. And she was kind of.. she had to take a towel over. It’s not right, I wipe them, all their faces and hand, and they are clean on my apron.

 DAUGHTER:   Brought this towel.

 MOM:   Not right away, not right away. She was just looking everything was going on. And that lady was yelling over there so bad.

 DAD:   And then so it’s night, got dark, that lady was holler.

MOM:   Listen, listen, before this lady was a hollering, she was washing clothes in her wash kitchen down in the basement, not the basement, even floor, and then she had a other floor and a other. And the smoke came very bad out of this kitchen.   And Dad was the first one there run over. All this paper what she had before the fire where she peddled.

DAUGHTER:   Yeah, where she was boiling the water.

 MOM:   Boiling the water.

DAD:   Catched fire, and so …

 MOM:   Catched fire, was on fire, the kitchen, and Dad went there and put the fire out and made everything ready, and he was the first there, and this lady stop hollering and everything was smooth.

DAD:   This was a — she almost died when that happened. And so we lay all in the bed, came a storm, a big, rained hard, hard.

 MOM:   And this lady came, and said they got a workshop beside their house with a wooden stuff all woodwork and we can come over there with the children and with the horses, put the children in the dry, this bad weather is now here.

DAD:   And they had a workshop and it had a flat, only a roof before that, so we get the horse under that roof and we get in workshop, just don’t make a fire.

MOM:   Don’t put a light on or anything.

DAD:   And then came thunder….

 MOM:   The lightning.

 DAUGHTER:   Thunder and lightning.

DAD:   And I put the horses in the, on the wagon, they could not pull, they could not pull. I had forgotten I had my make it tied, the wheels.

 MOM:   We tied the wheels. They cannot pull for nothing. Here comes the bad weather, rains and thunder and lightning.

 DAUGHTER:   Then did you remember?

DAD:   Probably.

 MOM:   Finally he remember.

DAD:   Finally the horses get there and the horses are in dry place and we are in dry place, settled again, sleep till the morning. When the morning came up, sure enough, I cleaned up, take some broom, find somewhere, cleaned up what the horses make everything, make it clean, not leave that mess there, and-

 MOM:   We was even good friends when we leave and this lady from across the street, she saw it, all these things, was I did before the storm come, and everything, she brought the towel over and she said she saw how I wash this children and she was kind a….

 DAUGHTER:   Was Reini’s foot still bad?

 MOM:   Oh, yeah, still the same.

DAD:   One day.

 MOM:   Better, was always a little bit better, healing, just not good.

DAD:   He could limp already. And so on till we finally, oh, the main experience was there in…

 DAUGHTER: Yeah, but didn’t somebody ask about me? If I was your baby?  Because I was dark?

DAD:   No.

 MOM:   Well, maybe in some-, we went onto one place, was the same thing happen, was coming such a big storm, we did park was outside only, nowhere, just somewhere. Then an old man came over there and he saw this baby and he was so surprised and I was washing the diapers and making supper for us, was before night. And he went away, he give me 5 marc or 10 marc, money, for this little child, and then, okay, “thank you”, and he was really a old man. He went home, then came more ladies there. He went home and say, over there is some so and so, and this people came there, they said, what! he give you the money? I said yes. He such a stingy man, he would not give even a straw hollum, you know how you say it, even nothing! They are refuge [i.e., refugee] too.

DAD:   But you should know that we had our diapers, were all clothes, cloth diapers you know, but many was rags, but not dirty.

 MOM:   No, I wash all the time.

DAD:   We had, our rags were clean, regardless how we were, which condition, our rags were clean. We didn’t have a bathtub, we didn’t have running water, we didn’t have many thing, but we were clean, we didn’t have soap, we didn’t have detergent, but that makes no difference.

 DAUGHTER:   Okay now, Jake and I were born in Donnersdorf [Au], Austria?

 MOM:   Yeah. That was much later. We coming now there. Then we was traveling, traveling, then the —

           [interruption in interview due to changing audiotape]

 DAUGHTER:   You mean Reini had to go in the hospital periodically for more medicine too?

DAD:   Yeah.

 MOM:   Yeah. when they saw the dressings that the nurse give. They say you have to be in the hospital in big city.

[missing some interview: someone is speaking too softly to be audible]

DAD: —  then we know it not good to express it.

 DAUGHTER:   Curiosity.

DAD:   Curiosity, yeah.

 MOM:   They come from so far like a ….

DAD:   Yeah, and soon, we talk, Mom was talking now.

 MOM:   You was not there even, you went in the mountains with Reini looking for a job or even if a farm there we can stay with somebody-

DAD:   A place who needs horses and workers, to stay there.

 MOM:   And Dad was not there, then an old lady came there and she was talking all kinds of things. I told her was now Dad is looking for a job and this, all of this. Then she told me she know a farmer what he needs worker and he needs horses, her son goes there for work.

DAD:   He needs horses, not workers so much. And before, the first, when they divided Austria, there are four aliens, the Russian, French. That part was Russia occupied, but when they divided, then Russia had to go out from there, and came the English men there, England, and when the Russia went, they took all the horses from that farmer and that was a..-

 MOM:   Acres of land but no horses.

 DAD:   There’s a rich farmer and no horses and no tractor so how can?  So he need badly horses, and that old lady’s children, went periodically there to work.

 MOM:   They are working by for this farmer and they are coming home on the bike and so on, and she told me all kinds of things and I was quick writing down some things, address and other, and she said, I will send my son, okay, I will send my son. He comes over here only you will follow him. And when Dad comes back from this mountain, what’s-, all afternoon something, who knows how much time, then I told him, let’s go right away, tomorrow is Sunday, let’s go right away. Okay, finished everything up and take the wagon and we go. We had Reini out from the hospital. When we wait, this old lady’s son, maybe he never comes, better we go by ourselves. We know the name and we know the town, and let’s go. Oh, we go, go, go, go, go, and getting dark, and no place like this.

DAD:   And we found a place, with that name-

 MOM:   Dad stopped and no place like this.

DAD:   No, no, no, we found the place, but no farmer like that and even-

MOM:   Find the name.

DAD:   No farm, no big farmers, no small farmer. Then somebody remember, oh, there and there is a town the same name, that’s are rich farmers, the farmers there.

 MOM:   That’s are the big farmers.

DAD:   And now it’s all night.

DAUGHTER:   You mean 2 towns with the same name.

DAD:   Yes.

 MOM:   Same name. And then, while we have to stay now overnight, it’s too late, late at night. We ask them how far this is. You have the whole day traveling with these horses, so far is this from their same town. So we stopped over there and I ask can we have maybe skim milk for the children, they have no supper, and then they give them just a little bit something. She gave us skim milk and we stayed in their yard overnight and so in the morning early Sunday, we never traveled Sunday, just Sunday was no travel, ever, with the horses.

DAD:   I don’t know when was that where they would not keep us because they still stole their horses.

 MOM:   No, this was on other place, same time, the same time, same time before this. We came on a place, and was the same thing, they would not even let us-

DAD:   We stopped in the front of the farmer. Why? Because here is a well with we could have water, could give us was water and the farmer came out, and want to chase us out, no we could not stay here, but you could not chase us out, just stay, that’s all.

 MOM:   He didn’t listen to us say anything, we don’t say nothing, we was quiet, we stayed and, well, we was all kind of shy so anyhow, he was not just coming and, you know-

DAD:   Not physically but just hollering we should go away.

DAUGHTER:   Since you couldn’t go to church any Sunday mornings or anything like that, what did you do? Did you have church with your family?

DAD:   No, we didn’t have church. We didn’t have church. First of all, the children were small, we had no church. We had only our service every day, our prayer before meal and after meal and before going to bed, but we had not never imitate a church service.

 DAUGHTER:   What did you do on Sundays since you didn’t travel?

DAD:   Same thing.

 DAUGHTER:   Just rested?

 MOM:   Same thing. rested. Just cook just a simpler soup, I cook soup.

 DAUGHTER:   Nothing [else]?

DAD:   Some people does kind of have a devotion and have a… I never felt that way that we should.

 MOM:   And then as he told us we should go. We don’t.

DAD:   The next day we went.

 MOM:   Next morning, when we get up, I can go there in the house and find the lady and I said, will you sell something to us for the children. Yeah, you can even cook them here, okay. I said that’s not necessary, have to be cooked. Yes, then she said, that is skim milk or you cook for the children. I said, okay, I cook. I put rice in and make a good meal then. Cook rice in the milk and that was good for the children. And so I cook them over on her stove, the whole pan full and I give her a cup of rice. She was so glad and so happy. And the husband was already somewhere on the field or in the work somewhere, just she was very nice, very nice.

 DAUGHTER:   Okay, that Sunday you traveled. Did you make it to the other farm?

DAD:   Yes. Not the whole day, but afternoon, early in the afternoon we got there. The farmer was standing at the roads before his house, just close by there. It was farmer and a whole bunch of people there.

 MOM:   Workers, his workers.

DAD:   We saw that. What should we do?

 MOM:   This young boy went already with the bike, morning early, and he was there for long already, long before. And he told them all kinds of things and when we arrived, they was all sitting on the steps there, the 5 high steps, very big ones, and then he — –

DAD:   Not very much we could not … “What should I do with the bunch of children?” He was a single man.

 MOM:   Never married.

DAD:   Never married, 40 years and his sister too was 52 and they run the farm. They were rich people but what can he do with that children. He don’t need to feed 10 mouths.

 DAUGHTER:   Before we go on any further, tell me the name of this town.

DAD:   That name really, Au. That means “valley”.

 MOM:   It just “Au”.

DAD:   It is not official name. It’s official name that belongs to Donnersdorf, but it Au [i.e., Donnersdorf Au, in Austria].

 DAUGHTER:   How large is Donnersdorf  [i.e., Donnersdorf Au, in Austria] ?

DAD:   Donnersdorf is here maybe 10 house, maybe 20, that’s all, but the farmers are, here a farmer and there a farmer, had 100 or 200 or 500 acres field and every farmer…

 [See YouTube @ ]

DAUGHTER:   The main city or whatever is very small but it has the big sparse farms around.

DAD:   Yes, yes.

 DAUGHTER:   And it’s a very rich valley.

 MOM:   Rich valley, yah. — The Au.

DAD:   Sure, very rich people live here, there’s always the poor people because it could not exist rich without poor.  And so then I again to explain to him we are anxious to get a roof, that’s all, not to go to Yugoslavia.  That’s all.  There, in Leibnich, we did met Bach’s wife. Also a woman called Pfister, she was in Yugoslavia, she was in Austria and went back to Yugoslavia, and the Communists stripped her all and she is here with 2 young girls.  She has nothing whatsoever [notice the King James English again], only what she had on her.

 MOM:   No cover for the children, not even a blanket, not even anything.

 DAD:   Blanket.

 DAUGHTER:   “Poplum”, I used to know what that means. What does that mean, Dad? Is that like a quilt?

DAD:   Yes, like a quilt, like a quilt but wool inside and not a…

 MOM:   We gave them a quilt for those 2 girls to cover at night.

DAD:   Yeah, to have something. And later on.

 MOM:   We had enough.

DAD:   And later on the 2 girls, they came to America, one is Bach’s wife, one is Pfister’s wife, members here. The mother-

[Here Mom suggests shutting off the recorder: “Then we can eat a little; Dad should eat too.”]

PART 7  to be continued,  soon,  God willing )


[1] The 6 earlier episodes, in this Webel family history series, are published as follows:

(1) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part One: Jakob and Katarina Agreed to Marry Before They Ever Spoke to Each Other, A True Example of Love at First Sight…and First Sound”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 35(1):25-32 (spring 2013), quoting from Rosalie Webel Whiting’s From Vinkovci to Medina (unpublished Webel family history), supplemented by personal interviews with Chaplain Robert Webel (during August AD2012);   (2) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Two: Volksdeutsche in Croatia, before World War II: Jakob and Katarina Webel are Merchants in Marinci (Taking Care of Business and the Business of Life)”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 36(3):154-170 (fall 2014);   (3)Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Three: World War  II  Confronts  Jakob  and  Katarina  Webel (Swabians  Face  Nazi  Invaders  and  Yugoslavia’s  Break-up)”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 37(2):98-113 (summer 2015);    (4) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Four:  Surviving in Yugoslavia, Then Fleeing for the First Time – Jakob & Katarina Webel Escape from Marinci to Vinkovci,” Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 37(4):219-240 (winter 2015);   (5) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Five:  Fleeing Yugoslavia, Escaping the Communist Takeover: Jakob & Katarina Webel Flee Toward Germany,” Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 38(3):110-124 (fall 2016);   and  (6) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Six:  After Yugoslavia, Wandering Through Europe: Jakob & Katarina Webel, Fleeing To Germany,” Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 39(1):196-215 (spring 2017).

 [2] See Matthew 12:1-4; Luke 6:1-5 in conjunction with Deuteronomy 23:24-25, Leviticus 19:9-10, & Deuteronomy 24:19.


The Steve and Erica Webel family (above), during AD2014. Included in this family photograph are the 2 native-Texan boys, Nate Webel (born in AD2007) and Luke Webel (born in AD2012), who thus represent the ethnic-German-descended Webel immigrant family heritage, as they rightly claim their own status as “German-Texans”.  Steve Webel is a son of Robert (“Bob”) and Marcia Webel.  (The family resemblances, to both Chaplain Bob and Marcia Webel — both of whom are shown below —  is easy to see.)


    ><> JJSJ

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Dr. James J. S. Johnson is a member of the German-Texas Heritage Society, and an occasional contributor to its Journal pages.  A lover and teacher of Providential history and geography, Jim has taught at 4 different Christian colleges (LeTourneau University, Dallas Christian College, Concordia University Texas at Fort Worth, and ICR School of Biblical Apologetics) in Texas, as well as aboard 9 different cruise ships. As a C.P.E.E. (Certified Paternity Establishment Entity, credentialed by the Texas Attorney General’s Office), Jim maintains a strong interest in family history documentation. After studying under many teachers, at many schools, Jim happily acknowledges that his best teacher (under God) was Chaplain Robert (Bob) Webel.


Spain’s Supposedly ‘Invincible Armada’

SPANISH ARMADA (de Loutherbourg)

Spain’s Supposedly ‘Invincible Armada’,

Illustrating God’s Care in Providential History 

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Ye shall not fear them: for the LORD, your God, He shall fight for you.   (Deuteronomy 3:22)


Spain’s Invincible Armada set ­sail, in A.D. 1588, aiming to invade and conquer England. Queen Elizabeth, though weak, says she has strength to die for her England. The most critical defense of England, however (humanly speaking), appeared to depend mostly upon Sir Francis Drake.  It was summer in A.D. 1588—political tensions between Spain and England were about to explode in a naval fire-fight, beginning in late July.

The tension had been rising, with several catalytic dominoes triggering a chain-reaction that would lead to war on the high seas, between the two most prominent sea-powers of that generation. The fate of England, and thus of all English colonies (including, therefore, the fate of English-speaking parts of North America, such as present-day America and Canada), hung in the balances, as the “Invincible Armada”—an attack force of some 130 ships (and 30,000 men)—sailed from Lisbon (Portugal’s capital now, but then owned by Philip II), to a rendezvous point at Calais (opposite Dover) to join forces with, and to escort, a large land force of Spanish soldiers (“the Army of Flanders,” some 16,000 fighting men), commanded by Philip’s nephew (the Duke of Parma). Then, the plan was for both forces to join together on the edge of the English Channel, with Parma’s army in barges, to be escorted by the “Invincible Armada,” a short sail westward, across the English Channel, to land, invade, and overwhelm England—and to depose Elizabeth, and to replace her with a Spanish “puppet.” Queen Elizabeth feared foreseeable defeat, and she addressed her marshaled soldiers (who prepared for the anticipated invasion at Tilbury, near the western shores of the English Channel):

“I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation…, but being resolved in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all, to lay down for my God and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust. I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too…”

Elizabeth I -- The Warrior Queen

However, before recounting what happened, to whom, and how, and why—the stage must be set, historically speaking, so that the contextual backdrop of this high-stakes drama can be seen in its panoramic framework.

The monarch ruling Spain then was King Philip II, who ruled Spain (and its territories) from AD1556 to AD1598. In England, the monarch was Queen Elizabeth I, who ruled England from AD1558 to AD1603. Spain’s King Philip was born in 1527, into a very different Spain than that of AD1588. Philip’s father was Spain’s King Carlos I “Quint,” better remembered (to many) as King Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor of the Hapsburg dynasty, whose career was dominated by reacting to the invading Muslims in his empire’s east, and the wildfire-like Protestant Reformation in his empire’s west. King Carlos (or Charles) was, at his career’s peak, ruler of Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, and much of the Western Hemisphere—arguably the most powerful ruler in all of Europe. Thereafter, his son (Philip II) would also reign as a global super-king.

During Philip’s reign, Philip would check the dominant power and presence of the Muslim Turks in the Mediterranean (in AD1571), and would later conquer Portugal (in AD1580). Philip also strove to maintain the status quo in the West, politically and culturally, so he promoted the 16th century “Inquisition” in his dominions (which dominions included Spanish territories in both hemispheres, such as Peru, Mexico, and his namesake in the Pacific, the “Philippine” Islands). However, Philip’s zeal sometimes produced popular reactions, which Philip’s forces could not thereafter contain.

For example, one of his empire’s crown jewels, the northern provinces of the Netherlands (which means “lowlands,” a geologically accurate label), would break away from Philip’s grasp, seeking political and religious independence (AD1581). It was the conflict in the “Spanish Netherlands,” to a large degree, that catalyzed Spain’s military decision to launch the “Invincible Armada” against England, since England was a strategic ally of Dutch independence (in the “united” northern provinces of the Netherlands), from the AD1560s, when many of the Dutch exerted efforts to obtain some kind of self-rule.

(Ironically, this Anglo-Dutch alliance, in time, would subsequently facilitate an independence-oriented pendulum-swingback in 17th century English politics.) King Philip began plans for the Armada attack on England, it appears in hindsight, from 1586. Philip appointed the Duke of Medina Sidonia, Alfonso de Guzman (“El Bueno”) as the fleet commander of King Philip’s “Invincible Armada.” (All of these geopolitical actions, and reactions to those actions, of course, had very direct consequences on the Caribbean colonies of those same European super-powers, as would be illustrated in that and later generations.)

Queen Elizabeth, born in AD1533, began her remarkable life in a very different England than the England of AD1588. That same year in France, Jean Calvin (a/k/a “John Calvin”) became a convinced Protestant. In AD1534, for example, the year after her birth, her father (King Henry VIII) broke with the Church of Rome, establishing the independence of the Church of England, by royal decree. In AD1541, Spain’s Hernando de Soto was discovering the Mississippi River. In AD1543, the English translation of the Bible was legalized in England. In AD1547, Elizabeth’s father, King Henry VIII, died, and the kingship passed to her half-brother, Edward VI (then only 9 years old), but he died in 1553 at age 15. Then Lady Jane Grey was crowned as Queen of England, but her refusal to share royal rule with her husband alienated the nobility (many of whom withdrew support from her), and she was impeached for “treason” and beheaded, within days by Mary Tudor’s allies—after only 9 days as England’s queen.

Thus, in AD1553, Elizabeth’s half-sister Mary Tudor became Queen of England, a Catholic queen ruling a mostly Protestant kingdom—a recipe for fireworks (and, in time, for about 300 Protestant martyrs). In July AD1553, Queen Mary Tudor married Philip of Spain (who would soon become king of Spain, at his own father’s abdication in 1556), with an arrangement that made Philip “king consort” of England—meaning that Philip was “king” of England so long as he was married to Queen Mary Tudor. (Thus, Philip was no longer England’s king when he sent the “Invincible Armada” to conquer it in the summer of AD1588, because his English “kingship” expired when his wife Mary Tudor died in AD1558.) Obviously, this royal marriage secured England to Spain’s sphere of influence and, to a certain degree, control—especially when Philip inherited his father’s abdicated empire in AD1556, about 1½ years after he married England’s queen. Since Philip was now King of Spain (as well as king-consort of England), this meant that Mary Tudor was now Queen (consort) of Spain, as well as Queen of England. Mary soon announced a royal pregnancy (imagine the ramifications!), with a due-date in JuneAD1555, but this proved to be a “phantom pregnancy”: no royal baby ever arrived.

During Mary Tudor’s reign (AD1553-AD1558), her cousin to the north, Mary Stewart, Queen of Scots, ruled Scotland in an uneasy (and unstable) situation. Mary Stewart, like Mary Tudor, was a Roman Catholic queen ruling over a predominantly Protestant population. In late AD1554, Mary Tudor was informed that the pope decreed absolution of his earlier curse on England, but only if Queen Mary Tudor diligently prosecuted all “heretics” in England with death, by burning them at the stake. Mary Tudor promptly obeyed this directive, thus earning her nickname, “Bloody Mary.” Prominent Anglican churchmen like Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, and Nicholas Ridley met the flames as martyrs, as well as about 300 others. The judicial proceedings of these Inquisition prosecutions were documented with detail in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, soon to be a blockbuster bestseller. What Elizabeth Beecher Stowe’s fiction Uncle Tom’s Cabin did in America (in the AD1800s), John Foxe’s forensic non-fiction chronicles in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs did in Europe (in the 1500s) for civil rights-promoting Protestant “reformers.” The overall political (and popular culture) reaction which Bloody Mary’s discriminatory decrees produced in England is hard for historians to over-estimate.

Against this boiling-over cauldron of political volatility, Elizabeth succeeded her half-sister (Bloody Mary) in AD1558 as the new Queen of England. England began to change—immediately.

Meanwhile, politics in Scotland was at a boiling-point. In AD1560, the Calvinistic Church of Scotland was becoming a key political player, just as Elizabeth’s reign as Queen of England was budding. Elizabeth quietly backed the Scottish Kirk, to keep hostile French influences out of Scotland.  (Elizabeth would one day learn that Mary Queen of Scots (her own cousin) had herself claimed to be the rightful and legitimate heir to England’s throne, deeming Elizabeth a “bastard” (and thus disqualified to sit on England’s throne), and had concurred in a plot to assassinate Elizabeth!

In AD1565, Spanish soldiers massacred the Huguenot settlement in Florida, enforcing Spain’s claimed geographic monopoly (yet legitimizing the act as punishing “heresy”).  Providentially, that massacre would have a connection to England’s defense against the Spanish Armada, almost 2 dozen years later.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, under pressure triggered by Mary Stewart’s alleged role in murdering one of her several husbands, Mary Stewart abdicated her title “Queen of Scots,” in AD1567, leaving her 13-month-old son, James (i.e., King James VI of Scotland, and later also King James I of England—to be famous for the “King James Bible” of AD1611) as Scotland’s new king, with the actual rule of Scotland going to the baby king’s Scottish Presbyterian uncle, James Stewart, the Earl of Moray. Elizabeth’s reign began in turbulent times!

In AD1568, two adventurous English “monopoly-busters,” John Hawkins and his cousin Francis Drake, narrowly escaped death from Spanish ships while peacefully visiting a Mexican harbor, producing two lifetime adversaries of the Spanish navy (both of whom would participate later in England’s repulsion of the Spanish Armada in AD1588—more details on that to follow). During AD1570-AD1572, Drake was actively “privateering” in the greater Caribbean “world,” repeatedly raiding the Spanish Main. In AD1572, the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre occurred, triggering massive immigrations of French Huguenots into Elizabethan England. In AD1577, Queen Elizabeth secretly provided support to Drake, for his “privateering” (i.e., government-licensed pirating) enterprises in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and elsewhere, against Spanish ships—wherever they might be found.

In AD1579, Drake captured a mega-fortune, by seizing Spain’s treasure-ship Cacafuego, delivering “half” of its treasure of gold, silver, and other commodities to Queen Elizabeth (assuming Drake completed his English version of the IRS Form 1040 “accurately”!). Francis Drake was heralded as a national hero, and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in AD1581. Meanwhile, assassination threats continued to complicate Queen Elizabeth’s reign and the security of Great Britain’s realm.

Accordingly, in AD1584, the English Parliament enacted a statutory law authorizing vigilante action to be used by anyone, if need be, to defend Queen Elizabeth against any attempted assassination plot.

Meanwhile, in the highly flammable AD1580s—the sparks between Spain and England continued to multiply. Then, in the watershed year of AD1585, England openly joined the so-called “Eighty Years War” against Spain, by providing military aid to the revolting Dutch Protestant “United Provinces” (led by William I of Orange, ancestor of a later English king, King William III, champion of England’s “Glorious Revolution”). This irrevocably galvanized King Philip II of Spain—who had once been king-consort of England—to plan a retaliatory war against Elizabethan England, to punish England for contesting Philip’s authority in the ongoing “civil war” in the Spanish Netherlands. Obviously, the piracies by Drake (and other English privateers) continually added fuel to ignite the anticipated fires of war.

Meanwhile, political plotting and maneuvering accelerated change in England’s homeland. In February AD1587, Elizabeth consented to the execution of her cousin Mary, the former Queen of Scots (imprisoned for years in England), after a treason/assassination plot (the “Babington Plot” involving a “cover-up” by Mary) was discovered and thwarted. England’s (i.e., Elizabeth’s) reaction to this attempted coup d’état, motivated by information received about King Philip’s developing plans to attack England’s homeland, came quickly.

So, adding insult to injury, in April AD1587, privateer Francis Drake brazenly attacked—and successfully burned—Spanish ships in their own harbor, Cadiz. King Philip was humiliated and incensed. Queen Elizabeth must be stopped! Soon afterwards (July 29, AD1587), Spain’s King Philip obtained the pope’s blessing on Philip’s developing military plan to invade and conquer England—and to depose Queen Elizabeth—and to replace her with a Catholic monarch of Philip’s choosing (i.e., a Spanish “puppet”-king). So, in the summer of AD1588, a very-much-changed Spain and a very-much-changed England were about to clash: high stakes on the high seas!

But this clash would never have occurred—if the European “world” of AD1588 had not already been catalytically shaken by two history-changing “earthquakes.”

Perhaps the two greatest geo-cultural European earthquakes of their “world” were, chronologically:

(1) the New World discoveries of Spain’s Christopher Columbus; and

(2) the ecclesiastical-cultural revolution known as the Protestant Reformation.

Europe would never be the same (nor would the world, for that matter), after either—much less both—of those two historic “earthquakes.”

(QUALIFICATION:  Although Vikings, led by Leif Eiriksson of Greenland, had discovered North America in AD1000, almost a half-millennium before Columbus reached the Caribbean islands, the Vikings’ travels to and from North America were short-lived, relatively unimpactful, and did not permanently connect the geopolitical “worlds” of the Western and Eastern Hemispheres,  —  however, Christopher Columbus’s exploits did the opposite, permanently connecting the Old and New “Worlds”   —  as Dr. John Eidsmoe has insightfully observed and documented in his authoritative historical study COLUMBUS AND CORTEZ, q.v.)

When Christopher Columbus sailed west from Spain in AD1492, he irrevocably closed a chapter in the ongoing story of Europe’s “world” of politics, economics and geography—and even agriculture and cuisine! Admiral Columbus ironically continued to believe (mistakenly) that he was discovering and exploring islands of the “Indies,” and even Japan!  Hence, Columbus called the Caribs and other natives whom he met in the Caribbean, and on other lands nearby, “Indians.” This erroneous name for Western Hemisphere natives has stuck, so the name was eventually “corrected” to the “West Indies,” to distinguish the Caribbean native “Indians” from the real “Indians” (of eastern Asia), i.e., the natives of India, Indochina, and the “East Indies.”

But in AD1493, this corrected geographic view of the globe was lacking, so Portugal and Spain sought direction from the current pope (Alexander VI) regarding which nation should have (and colonize) the various “new lands” known as “the Indies.” The pope’s solution was a longitudinal “Line of Demarcation,” which roughly bisected the Eastern and Western Hemispheres by an imaginary line in the Atlantic, nearly touching what would eventually be discovered as the eastern edge of Brazil. However, this appeared unsatisfactory, so a revised deal was negotiated between Spain and Portugal, in 1AD494, called the Treaty of Tordesillas, which moved the “Line of Demarcation” to the west, providing Portugal with some of South America’s Brazilian territory, which bulges eastward into the Atlantic Ocean. This diplomatic solution to the imminent problem of colonial competition had one practical flaw: it was only a two-party deal, agreed to only by Spain and Portugal! Obviously, France, England, and the Dutch—just to name a few—did not consent to this two-headed “game of monopoly,” so geopolitical conflicts on this “partitioning” were certain to occur.

And they did!—again and again, and again. Monopoly busting, ironically, almost cost Francis Drake his life in AD1568, at age 29. That experience convinced Drake that there would be no peaceful co-existence in the Caribbean world for English adventurers who wanted wealth.

Ironically, it was Drake’s illustrious career of privateering after 1568 (i.e., piracy with a royal “letter of marque,” a license for commissioned acts of piracy—but sometimes Drake acted without a commission) that would prepare him with the naval experience needed in 1588 for preemptively striking and counter-attacking the Spanish Armada.

Meanwhile, many years before, in AD1517—while the European super-powers were strategically competing (and even sometimes battling) for the new lands in “the Indies,” a Dr. Martin Luther was hammering his indulgence-protesting “Ninety-Five Theses” on the church door in Wittenberg, and by doing so, Luther was closing a chapter in the ongoing story of Europe’s ecclesiastical, theological, and social world. Thus, back on the European continent, an ecclesiastical-theological tsunami erupted, cresting the geo-cultural horizon in AD1517, to become known as the Protestant Reformation—with ramifications much broader (and deeper) than just church doctrines, church life, and church politics. Although pre-Reformation “sparks” had ignited a few theological fires of European church reform, in prior generations (e.g., John Wycliffe and John Hus), it was the indulgence-protesting hammer of Dr. Martin Luther in AD1517 which carpentered the foundations of Europe’s (and the world’s) Reformation movement. Ultimately, the entire geo-political order of the European super-powers would be affected, as well as all colonial lands then or thereafter controlled (or even influenced) by those same European super-powers. Also, religious politics of the 1500s included incidents like the massacre of French Huguenot pirates (and English sympathizers), seeking to justify acts of piracy to Spanish ships and New World settlements.

So, when the Invincible Armada of Spain sailed to conquer England in AD1588, the turbulent world of that day—shaken by globally changed conditions traceable to Columbus and Luther—presented the challenge of a lifetime to Elizabeth’s #1 pirate, Sir Francis Drake.

Francis Drake was born in the seaport town of Plymouth, England, in AD1540; his family moved to another seaport, Rochester, where his father served as a minister at a naval shipyard. Drake lived (literally, as a boy) and thrived in the world of sailing ships—an old English tradition from the Viking era.

In AD1566 Drake had sailed with his cousin, John Hawkins, as profit-seeking “monopoly-busters,” conducting trade with Spanish colonists on Venezuela’s shores, despite an official Spanish embargo (ban) on such practices—prompting political protests from Spain and Portugal.

On one occasion, a Spanish colony governor agreed to trade with these English “monopoly-busters,” but only if they used a show of “force” first, so the Spanish governor could later excuse his unauthorized business deals (with the English “monopoly-busters”) by claiming he had only traded “under duress,” i.e., under the coercive threat of an English pirate raid.

What a scheming politician!

Portugal did not want English ships interfering with the slave trade from west Africa, and Spain did not want English ships in Caribbean waters, much less visiting the “Spanish main” (a phrase sometimes meaning the continental mainland holding of Spain in what today is called “Latin America” and sometimes used to mean whatever Spanish territories bordered the Atlantic, Caribbean, or Gulf of Mexico).

“In 1567, Drake commanded the Judith on Hawkins’ second [Caribbean basin] expedition. On the return trip, the [English ‘monopoly-buster’] ships stopped [for emergency repairs, after negotiating permission with the local Spanish port authorities] at the Mexican port of San Juan de Ulua, later-named Veracruz. A fleet of Spanish ships approached the harbor, pretending to be friendly. But the Spaniards attacked the English, killing many English sailors and sinking several [of the 7] vessels. Only the Judith and Hawkins’ ship, the Minion, escaped” [Quoting pp. 265-266 from Vernon Snow’s “Sir Francis Drake,” In World Book Encyclopedia (1972), vol. 5].

Drake’s ship and Hawkins’ ship became separated in the desperate escape. Of Hawkins’ men, only fifteen survived the return trip to England.

Three of Hawkins’ crew—David Ingram, Richard Brown, and Richard Twide—walked for months, from Tampico, Mexico, to St. John, New Brunswick (then Acadia, now Canada). Other survivors who made land were captured (and tortured to death, Inquisition-style) or were simply not heard of again.

“Francis Drake and what remained of the crew of the Judith arrived at Plymouth. After listening to Drake’s report, Hawkins’ brother William wrote to Secretary of State William Cecil and the Privy Council, informing them of the disaster, and dispatched Drake to London with the letters so that the council could hear a firsthand account of the affair.” [Quoting John Todd, Jr., “Three Ships Sunk by Spaniards in Veracruz (Some Survivors Walked from Tampico to Canada)” in Francis Drake’s Disaster in Veracruz, pp. 8-9].

Drake vowed life-long revenge on the Spaniards, and Drake fulfilled his vow, religiously, earning his Spanish nicknames, “El Draque” and “El Drago” (the Dragon). Soon after Drake’s return to England, during AD1570 to AD1572, Drake pirated many Spanish ships in the West Indies, with Queen Elizabeth’s blessing.

Ironically, since Queen Elizabeth was the “governor” [not “head” — Ephesians 5:23] of the Church of England, this was ecclesiastically comparable (somewhat) to a papal blessing for a member of the Anglican church—comparable to King Philip II’s papal blessing, two decades later, on his quest to conquer England with his Invincible Armada and his nephew’s Army of Flanders.

Drake’s escapades in the West Indies swelled like Mt. Saint Helens, ready to erupt at any time. Now he no longer tried to negotiate embargo-circumventing “monopoly-busting” trade with Spanish colonists, he merely raided Spanish ships (and sometimes Spanish towns) as a pirate. While on Spanish-colonized coastland Colon (a major peninsula of Panama), Drake captured the town of Nombre de Dios, then ambushed a mule train of Spanish conquistadorean silver, bearing Peruvian silver to the Isthmus of Panama.

As a privateer for Queen Elizabeth, Drake owed her half of his pirated plunder, if he got it at sea. However, his “letter of marque” contract said nothing about the Queen getting any of the loot that he captured on land!

Drake’s ships did not remain in the West Indies, however.

In AD1577, Drake sailed from England to the Caribbean, and eventually sailed all the way south to the Strait of Magellan and sailed around South America’s tip, clockwise, along the Pacific coastline up to California, near San Francisco and beyond (up America’s northwest coastline, where he even spent a brief time trying to teach some natives about the Christian God, because they had tried to worship him), striking Spanish ships at every convenient opportunity, and even the Chilean seaport of Valparaiso (for 25,000 pesos of gold, among other loot). It was during AD1579, about his famed Golden Hind [see photo of replica ship], that he used trickery to capture the Spanish treasure-ship, Cacafuego (“Dung-fire”), in the Pacific, with a fortune (worth millions in today’s dollars). This was Drake’s characteristic pirate-style of “monopoly-busting,” disrupting Spain’s claim of monopolistic supremacy by looting the looters. (Unlike the legends of Robin Hood, though, Drake never returned the Peruvian silver he confiscated to the native Peruvians.)

Drake continued westward, challenging Spanish and Portuguese colonies—e.g., the Philippines, Moluccas, Celebes, Java—as he went.

As he surveyed the Pacific islands, Drake enjoyed opportunities for “monopoly-busting” trade, especially trading with native East Indies merchants who disliked the Portuguese traders, including a sultan in Ternate who disliked Portugal because his father had been killed by Portuguese merchants. Drake traded with the sultan for valuable East Indies spices—such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and pepper—all of which enhanced the taste of European food, and sometimes retarded spoilage, an important trait in that age of unrefrigerated food.

Eventually Drake returned to Plymouth, having been the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe, returning to England as a national hero in late AD1580. Drake’s map accurately pictured the world’s two hemispheres, and he enthusiastically recounted his almost-3-year-long odyssey to Queen Elizabeth, for six hours!

Elizabeth had personally invested 1,000 crowns to finance Drake’s expedition, yet she received 47,000 crowns (with Drake keeping 10,000 crowns) as a return on her investment—more than enough to pay off all of England’s foreign debt at the time, as well as England’s national expenses for many years to follow! (And that was just the cash!  There was much more wealth in other forms, brought back in Drake’s Golden Hind!).

England would not forget this, or the Pacific, ever. Elizabeth was enthusiastically impressed, but not so her ex-brother-in-law, Philip II, the king of Spain (and, as of AD1580, also of Portugal). King Philip II protested Drake’s raids as “piracy,” because England and Spain were not then officially “at war.” Elizabeth’s reply was to proclaim Drake as a Knight in AD1581—officially to honor Drake for being the first Englishman to sail full circle around the world, a feat previously accomplished by Magellan’s survivors. Drake’s knighthood enraged King Philip II.

Interestingly, Philip had earlier indicated interest in marrying Elizabeth, as he had previously married (though mostly ignored) Elizabeth’s half-sister, Mary Tudor, England’s prior queen. But Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen (hence the name of her later-settled American colony, Virginia), was “married” only to her England.

Drake entered domestic politics. He served as mayor of Plymouth in AD1581 and AD1582. In AD1584 and in AD1585 he served in Parliament’s House of Commons. Had the old “sea-dog,” whom the Spaniards feared as “the Dragon,” quit the high seas for the life of a land-lubber? No.

In AD1585, King Philip ordered a trade embargo against all English goods, resulting in many contract breaches and general interruption in English trade worldwide.

Elizabeth called on Drake to respond to this world trade crisis: would he be willing to sail to the Caribbean, and to teach the Spanish another “monopoly-busting” lesson or two? Yes.

So, late in AD1585, Drake sailed from England to the Caribbean, with “monopoly-busting” on his Spaniard-targeted privateering agenda. En route to the West Indies, Drake harried the Spaniards’ seaport Vigo, then burned Sao Tiago. Drake landed on Hispaniola, and burned Santo Domingo. Then Drake “visited” Cartagena for 6 weeks, demanding ransom, or else. In AD1586 Drake also visited the Cayman Islands, to obtain sea-turtles, a valuable fresh meat source. On the return trip to England, Drake stopped in Florida at a Spanish fort (St. Augustine) and burned it, probably recalling how some of his old comrades in AD1568 had sought refuge in Florida, but had wandered through Florida without help, due to a recent Spanish massacre of Fort Caroline’s Huguenot settlers (in AD1565). After sailing northward from Florida, Sir Francis Drake visited the English colony of Virginia, and even picked up a few English passengers (who wanted to catch a trans-Atlantic “taxi” back to England).

Meanwhile, King Philip II was amassing his “Invincible Armada”.

When Elizabeth learned of the Spanish Armada’s approach, she quickly turned to Drake for help. Drake’s first response was to preemptively strike part of the Armada, before it could be strategically assembled to cross the English Channel.

It was in that context that Drake sneak-attacked Spanish warships at anchor in Cadiz, one of Spain’s most important seaports, seizing tons of ammunition. About 30 Spanish warships were destroyed.

On May 30, AD1588, Spain’s Invincible Armada launched from Lisbon, Portugal, with very specific orders from King Philip—on how the conquest of England was to be accomplished.  Meanwhile, after the Cadiz attack, Drake had returned to England to organize England’s naval defenses for what would come next. The formal commander of England’s navy then was officially Admiral Lord Howard. However, Howard wisely deferred to Drake’s naval expertise and wisdom, so Vice-Admiral Francis Drake was then the de facto fleet commander of the English naval defenses. Assisting Drake as squadron leaders—to defend against the inevitable invasion—were Drake’s Plymouth-born cousin, Sir John Hawkins (knighted in AD1588 after the Armada’s defeat) and Martin Frobisher (also knighted after the Armada’s defeat), another ocean-experienced English explorer-adventurer. Then, Spain’s 130 warships sailed northward, under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia, an aristocrat without Drake’s “school-of-hard-knocks” experience.  On July 30, the Armada entered the English Channel, engaging in some sporadic long-range gunfire with English ships for two days.

On August 6th, the Armada anchored at Calais, France, to await the arrival of (and then escort) the barges carrying the Spanish Army of Flanders, which was coming from nearby Dunkirk (“Dunkerque”), to constitute Spain’s main landing-force of invaders. (This crisis prompted Queen Elizabeth’s speech quoted on the first page of this paper.)  The Flemish army never arrived; they were blocked by Dutch gunboats! On August 8th, the English sent five “fire-boats”—unmanned, gunpowder-loaded ships, set afire, with the wind directing them toward the anchored Armada!


SPANISH ARMADA (de Loutherbourg)

The Armada panicked, and scattered helter-skelter to avoid colliding with fire-ships or any flying fire-debris spewed out by gunpowder explosions. The small, agile English ships chased the fleeing Spanish ships near Gravelines, a French port. The English sunk two Spanish ships, and seriously damaged, if not crippled, the other 128.

The Spanish fled, sailing counter-clockwise around the British Isles (hoping to reorganize with the help of Irish sympathizers/allies), only to lose half of their warships to freakish winds [!!!] off the Irish coast.

These “coincidental” ship-destroying storms at sea were interpreted by many (both British and Spanish) then, and by many since, as demonstrations of God’s providential care for and protection of the British nation, and thus also of God’s providential protection of Britain’s Protestant enterprises. Many gave thanks to God for his protective providence.  Only 67 (about ½) of the Spanish Armada warships returned to Spain. It seems irrefutable that England was providentially spared from an otherwise certain Spanish invasion.

Spain eventually returned, with a second Armada, in AD1596, but this too was quashed by providential weather. Once again, unsurprisingly, this defeat-by-weather was recognized as God’s continuing providence, again defending Protestant England from the Inquisition-enforcing Spaniards.

So what was the end result? England remained a world super-power, in ways that secured furtherance of the Great Commission.

Dr. James J. S. Johnson, during AD2005 (when this was written) was variously lecturing aboard international cruise ships, teaching history (inter alia) at LeTourneau University and Dallas Christian College, and was daily appreciating God’s providences.

NOTE:  the original version of this article first appeared as Short Paper #24 of the Northwood Review of Geography & International Studies (March 2005), and was used (with permission) aboard NCL’s NORWEGIAN MAJESTY later that year.