Jul 25, 2013

Hi Jolly Folly

I have always been fascinated by camels. They can survive in the desert for long periods of time without water and the heat doesn’t seem to bother them. Seems like a perfect fit for Arizona. But apparently that experiment failed.

Camels have been around for a long time. In fact, the third letter of the Hebrew Alphabet is a camel-looking letter called Gimel. It is named after the camel.

Camels are found throughout the Bible – the first reference is in Genesis 24. Abraham’s servant takes 10 of Abraham’s camels to find a wife for Isaac. According to Wikipedia, camels are very good beasts of burden. But maybe not for Arizona.

In 1856 the United States Government was looking for ways to explore and conquer the west. They decided to hire a camel driver of Jordanian descent named Hajj Ali. People had trouble pronouncing his name, so everyone called him “Hi Jolly”. There were several successful Texas-California expeditions conducted by Hi Jolly. But in the end, the camels didn’t work. It wasn’t that they couldn’t handle the desert heat – that they did no problem. No, apparently the camels didn’t get along with mules and horses.

Hi Jolly retired from the army and became an Arizona folk hero. His grave in Quartzite is marked with a rather large pyramid. People come from all around to see it.

I would like to think that at some point, the government would have tried once again to introduce camels into the southwest, but shortly after this experiment, the railroad came. The need for a beast of burden to live in the desert was gone. The horse was replaced by the Iron Horse.

I just keep thinking that God created the camel to live in the desert and since we live in a desert it would seem like a perfect fit. Why else would God create a camel? But we humans are always guilty of ignoring God’s perfect design. That’s why He sent Jesus into the world – place His design on us.

Pastor David Hook