Here’s a few random thoughts before I shut down the computer for the night. 🙂
So, the purchasing problem could possibly be solved by the wives or family members. They just continue to buy normal groceries, probably with funds from Mrs. O, but secretly bring them to a certain drop-off point in their village, and a trusted someone with a cart transports them from there to the caves. Or you could have someone coming to pick up the supplies from the wives, but that will look suspicious, of course. Either way is risky, but that’s one option.
Not sure how much power Obadiah had, but could he assign an official guard of trusted men who will guard the transports of food? They could pretend that it’s something else important that they’re shipping, as if for the palace, when in reality it’s supplies for the bubblers. You could even use carts with hidden compartments so there’s some official shipment in the main bed of the cart and the supplies hidden below. If you want to get super-sophisticated. The whole thing, any way you look at it, is gonna be complex. I guess they might use a combination of tactics for purchasing and transporting the food.
Personally, I figure the wives will be in danger because of who their husbands are, so I’d imagine they’d be pretty cautious. By this point, even if they’ve been separated from their husbands for some time (for the women’s safety), the wives and even the children will probably be fairly used to looking over their shoulders and not trusting easily. So, it just occurred to me that the wives and families of the prophets might at first be suspicious of Mrs. O and her friends.
But then once you get the food supply routes squared away, maybe the conflict would be the bubblers’ wives’ danger. Suddenly all these women have no one to protect them, which, in a lawless society, is terribly frightening. You could have them questioned about where they’re getting money if they have no man to work. They could have trouble delivering the supplies to the drop-off point because they’re pretty sure someone is following them. And, yes, if you wanted things to get ugly, one or more of the women who are very pretty (maybe young and has no children yet) could be forced (or almost forced) into giving “favors” to Ahab’s men. Maybe they could be threatened with being sold to the Asherah temples? That’s kinda worst-case scenario, (and part of me would cringe if it came to that) but I reckon it would be good conflict for the plot.
Also, for me I’d rather not see the women deliberately betray their husbands. Of course, that’s a great angle to play as far as plot, but I hate to see marriages that rocky, ya know? I hate to think that one of the men of God would have married a woman who hated him or his work enough to betray him. Also, I think that with their very lives in danger, they probably wouldn’t have time to bicker amongst themselves (at least I hope they wouldn’t). Dad told me about a testimony from a Christian in Syria when they had a wave of persecution recently: he said denominations of Christians that would have doubted each other’s salvation before were now gathering to pray together in the crisis. Nothing like persecution to unite people.
Now, are all of the prophets married? I guess when I read about them in the Bible, I assumed a lot of them weren’t married, probably because it would be too dangerous for a marked man in Ahab’s time to have a family. The unmarried ones might be good to send into villages to buy food. Dress him like a worn and dusty traveler and send him to buy food for himself and a few friends. He couldn’t get much, but he could get bread and cheese–things that would travel well and therefore fit his disguise. Also, if they’re in wilderness areas, will they be able to do some hunting?
• It might be the ladies bicker among themselves.
• Or they are careless and talk too freely.
• Or bad guys follow them around hoping to make a little time with them.
• Or one fancies herself a good looker and likes to flirt. Sometimes she even wishes her husband would get himself murdered by the queen’s goons. Other times she feels guilty as can be and tries to look ugly.
But Mrs. O and friends see the system is not working and they are afraid the bubblers are in danger. And they want to solve it, so they don’t put bubblers in danger whom they may hide in Nazareth.