History is full of creative duos. Some spurred each other on through competition – others through unity and collaboration. Joshua Wolf Shenk’s “Powers of Two” (Aug 2014) highlights the collaborative process through many notable dyads: Lennon and McCartney, Jobs and Wozniak, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Matisse and Picasso.
Many others come to mind: Woodward and Bernstein, Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder, even Rocky and Bullwinkle. The list goes on. But one team most people have never heard of is the artistic pairing of Bezalel and Oholiab. Funny names? That’s because they lived 3300 years ago in the south Sinai Desert. They were tasked with the construction of the Tabernacle – the mobile predecessor of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. The Book of Exodus sets the creative pair in historic context:
“… The LORD has called by name Bezalel, son of Uri … and filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, intelligence, knowledge and all craftsmanship to devise artistic designs … in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones, in carving wood and in every skilled craft. And Oholiab, son of Ahisamach. He has filled them with skill… And they will be able to make all these things: the Meeting Tent, the Ark of the Covenant, the lid that covers the Ark, and everything in the Tent.” (Exodus 35:30-35; Exodus 31:6-7)
Now this wasn’t your typical Bedouin-esque tent. It had silver frames with crossbars overlaid in pure gold, and stands of bronze. The curtains were made of fine linen in blue, purple and scarlet, held together with clasps of gold and bronze. The ark was covered in pure spun gold. The giant lampstand (Menorah) was made of pure gold, and decorated in almond branches, buds and blossoms. And the priest’s clothes were wearable works of art themselves – embroidered with cherubim, encrusted with rare gemstones and held together with golden chains.
And the whole thing had to be portable besides. The entire structure was built to be disassembled at a moment’s notice and travel the desert for forty years, give or take. Imagine that: the Creator of the Universe dwelling in a house made by human hands. Yet God imbued both Bezalel and Oholiab with the innate skills they needed to create a beautiful dwelling, plus the management skills to herd all those craftsmen together and get the job done on time. The venture was a huge, collaborative undertaking.
I was introduced to the creative collaborative process last February. One day I got an invite to co-write a book with an acquaintance-friend of mine who has published several memoirs including the New York Times bestseller, Thunder Dog (by Michael Hingson & Susy Flory). Now I’m a solitary sort who’s written solo my entire career. The idea of collaborating on a book was equal parts intriguing and scary. The intriguing part: working with a New York Times best selling author – are you kidding! The scare factor: giving up the reins of control. The result: two strong-minded, independent, invested women with a truckload of ideas … and opinions. God, however, knew what He was doing when he put us together. Six months later, the acquaintance has turned to real friendship and the book is exploding onto the page. And, it’s being constructed on the foundation of teamwork and trust. Susy’s NYT bestseller, Thunder Dog, is based on Hingson’s true-life 911 experience and how he and his guide dog, Roselle, led many others down Tower 2 to safety on that fateful day. It’s a book predicated on teamwork and trust. Without them, Michael and Roselle wouldn’t have made it.
Neither would Susy and I.