The next day, so many had gathered to hear him, Yeshua could not land at Kefar Nahum when he came to the beach with the fishermen, not could they empty their catch. He asked Yahn and Yakov to take with them the catch of Shimeon and Adam, and to Shimeon and his brother, he asked that they anchor offshore, and, there, sat apart in the boat balanced by Shimeon and Adam.
Shimeon warned Yeshua that there were spies for Herod amongst the true followers, and Yeshua knew he could not speak out against Antipas or the Romans that day, for the reports would reach the ears of the Idumean tyrant. He patted Shimeon on the knee.
“What shall I say?”
Shimeon frowned back for he had no idea at all, nor did he for a moment think Yeshua would be at a loss for words.
“Tell them a story!” said Adam, “Perhaps they will all nod off!”
Yeshua laughed, but there was a sudden truth in Adam’s words. He needed to speak in parables, engage euphemisms and set his tales in the manner of myth. Amongst the faces of the faithful, he recognized the dark darting eyes of Herod’s agents. He frowned for a moment for he was not sure why these people came to him to understand that which was so self-evident. All this passed through him in an instant.
“Excellent!” he said enthusiastically, and he opened his head to the Heavens, and allowed the Power Above to flow into him, and began to speak.
“Once upon a time,” he began, “A farmer went out to his fields to sow! And as he sowed, some seed fell by the way side, and the birds of the air descended upon the seeds and devoured them almost immediately. And some seed fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth, but the rays of Shemmesh, the sun, scorched those sprouts, and because the shoots were without roots and found no water, they withered away. And some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns rose up, and choked the young plants, and they yielded no fruit. But other seed fell on good ground, and plants sprang up and increased, and brought forth fruit, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred fold!”
He looked out along the shore at those that had gathered. You that have ears to hear, know that your hearts are of stone. You that hear me now, know if your hearts are choked by thorns! Clear away the underbrush! Remove the stones from your heart!
The Word of the Power must fall upon fertile ground!”
He pointed at an agent of Herod directly and the crowd turned to the man.
“You by the wayside! On the high road where the Word is sown, now you have heard, shall the Word grow into Deeds, or be consumed by your immediate needs?”
He pointed at another spy.
“And you! Likewise the Word sown on stony ground, will you immediately receive it with gladness? The Words can find no root in a stony heart!”
His finger pointed to a rich man, stopped along the way to Tiberias on some business.
“And is the Word sown among thorns? When you hear the Word, is it’s meaning lost amongst your cares? Will you reject the Word so that you can cling to the pleasures of riches? Does the lust of possession enter your heart to choke the Word, so that it bears no fruit?”
He held his hands high to encompass the faithful on the beach.
“Or is the Word sown on fertile ground? Do you who hear the Word, receive it with open arms? Are you prepared to bring forth fruit? From the Word comes the Deed! If you hear the Word, does it spur you to perform good deeds and perform acts of kindness, thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred?
If any have ears to hear, then hear the Word!
Love thy neighbour! Treat everyone as you would be treated! Remove the stone from your hearts! Tear out the thorns of pain and betrayal! Prepare the soil of your hearts and till it daily! Only then can you open your hearts and allow the Power within your own Soul to grow! Once you have heard the Word, there is only doing and not doing, and in between each and every and any moment, we must always ask of ourselves, ‘Am I acting out of Love, or am I acting from Fear?’
Take to heart what you hear now! With every measure you mete, it is measured to you. So from the Power, if a man should cast seed into the ground, a grain of mustard seed, the smallest mite of all the seeds on earth, it grows greater than all herbs, and grows out great branches, large enough that the birds of the air may nest under the shadow of it!”
And so, take the Word, ‘Do unto others that which you would have done to you’, and plant it it your heart that it may grow into the Deed! It is the Deed that completes the Word just as a plant is nothing without its fruit!”
While he spoke there were some that swam out to receive his touch, and he feared for their safety, and he beseeched them not to approach, and though he would return to shore the press of the crowd made his advance dangerous and Shimeon and Adam prevailed upon Yeshua to row to the centre of the lake. He was exhausted, for they had begun early, and lay down to rest. And before they could make new landfall, there arose a great wind, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it began to take on water. Yeshua lay in the stern, asleep on the nets, and as the wind grew stronger Adam awoke him, for he thought they might perish.
Yeshua arose immediately, and rebuked Adam, saying “Peace, be still!” meaning he should accept his fate for it was the Will of God, but as he uttered the words, the wind ceased, and the turbulent waters lay still as a looking glass.
Both Shimeon and Adam stared dumfounded at each other, but Yeshua frowned at them both. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Nothing!” replied Adam quickly, but after Yeshua closed his eyes again, he whispered to Shimeon, “Who is this man? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”
And, after passing word to Yakov and Yahn in their boat, they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the countryside around the city of Gadara. Once they landed, a strange lunatic ran out out of the tombs. He was unkempt and manacles bound his wrists and ankles, and he dragged around broken chain as though they were baubles. And as he ran he jingled and jangled, and as he drew nigh, he danced a little jig before them.
“Who are we that we are not afraid of the Son of Man? We dwell among the tombs, and no man can bind us!” He held up his arms and rattled them loudly.
“No, not with chains!” he chanted, “These chains we have torn asunder! See, the fetters are broken in pieces! No man can tame us! Who are you that comes so near? Who are you who approaches with no fear?”
“I am Yeshua, of Bait Lehem near Nazareth,” replied Yeshua.
The man shook his chains again and both Shimeon and Adam clutched at wooden belaying pins, ready to strike the man down.
“What have we to do with thee, Yeshua, thou Son of the God Most High?” asked the man, “Torment us not! We have no wish to leave!”
“Nor I,” replied Yeshua calmly, “I bear you no ill will! What is your name?”
“I have no name, Yeshua of Nazareth,” replied the lunatic, “Perhaps our name is Legion, for we are many!”
“All are one, my friend!” said Yeshua, “Have you a name for each?”
“I am Adam!” replied the man, “And I am Abel!”
His voice changed for each name.
“I am Enoch! And Noah! And Ephraim, and Issachar and Absalom and Solomon and Elijah!”
“Enough!” commanded Yeshua, “All these men are men of God!”
“We are!” cried the man gleefully.
“Yet you speak as a demon!”
“Are we not all those things?” asked the man slyly.
“If you say so, then so do I!” said Yeshua, “But if we are All, are we not also One?”
“Hah!” declared the man, and held out his palms upturned.
“Unbind me!” he commanded, and Yeshua did his bidding, and loosed the manacles and let them fall.
“I have sinned greatly, Yeshua of Nazareth!” whispered the man.
“Your sins are forgiven!” said Yeshua, “Go and sin no more!”
“I would be baptized!” declared the man, and grasped Yeshua’s wrists.
Shimeon stepped forward to unlock the man’s grip, but Yeshua warned him off.
“All is well,” Yeshua declared, “I will baptize thee, in the name of the Power!”
And Yeshua and the wild man, and the two fishermen waded into the waters of the lake where it flowed into the Jordan, and together they washed their sins away, and emptied their pockets into the living waters.
And as they returned and sat and spoke, others arrived for they too had come to wash away their sins for the festival of Rosh HaShana, and they were amazed that the wild man sat calmly with Yeshua, Shimeon and Adam.
“Can it be the same man?” asked an elder, “He was possessed by demons! At night he howled to the moon, and cut himself with flints! And now he sits with this stranger from Galilee!”
And from the North came Miri and Simon, with Yehudi and Rebecca and Yakov and Yusef the younger brother of Yeshua. And they brought with them food and a strange story. A short way before they arrived, they spied in the mountains a great herd of swine feeding, and the herd began to squeal and rampage, and in a mad whirlwind fell violently down a cliff into the water, and were drowned.
And the swineherds who watched the swine fled, screaming that their herd had been possessed with the devil fled. Upon hearing the story everyone agreed it was a strange thing. They then sat and ate upon the shores by the river, north of the reeds upon the hillside. And after the Gadarenes returned to their homes, they discussed what Yeshua should do.
Miri was already a fugitive, and the others had no doubt that Yeshua had become more than just a flea on a dog’s back to Antipas. The wild man, whose name was Kelil, remained with Yeshua, Miri and the others.
Yakov was the most concerned for his brother Yeshua. He thought that he and Miri should remain in the Decapolis region, for Phillip had been a pagan and cared little about who worshipped whom. “Antipas is convinced you are the Baptist come back to life!” he said, “They are saying as much amongst his spies! At the moment, Antipas had become especially devout they say, for he thinks you are the ghost of the Baptist! But it is the wrath of Herodias you must avoid! Though she can’t order it, she will plot to have you killed! She will sit as a viper beside the road and strike at you when you least expect it!”
“But what am I to her?” asked Yeshua.
“You are the thorn in her side!” said Miri, “As long as Antipas is afraid of you, she will have no influence over him. Berenike has told me as much! She came to under cover of dark while I visited Susanna at the Tree.
She says that it was Herodias that called for the death of Yahja. For though Herod himself had sent forth seized Yahja, and bound him in prison, because he had previous discourse with Yahja, he was afraid that Yahja was indeed a prophet. But Herodias could not bear the Baptist’s presence because he accused her of adultery, and as long as the people believed his word, she could never be Queen.
Though she as not there, she heard that in Machaerus, Herod’s birthday came to pass, and Antipas threw a birthday supper to his lords, high captains, and herodias prevailed upon her young daughter Salome to dance for him. She was well schooled in the sacred dance, and so pleased Herod and his ministers sitting with him, Antipas declared he would give to her whatever she willed. And into his cups, he swore to her, “Whatever you ask of me, I will give, even if it be the half of my kingdom!”
And Herodias whispered into her ear and she asked for the head of Yahja the Baptist! Even drunk, Antipas regretted his words, but those around him agreed he must grant her wish, for they too thought to rid themselves of the harangues of the Baptist! And so, she says, Antipas sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought, and the executioner went and with a knife from the table of the diners, cut off the head of Yahja in the prison, and delivered it to the young woman upon a large flat bronze dish. Though she could not bear to look at it, they say Herodias smiled broadly for her daemon had been dispatched.
I could not believe such a thing, but immediately upon their return to Tiberias, Salome was given in marriage to a relative, and was sent forthright to his realm. Berenike said Salome could no longer bear to be in her mother’s presence, and at every turn condemned her mother, And the Queen, because Salome was of her own womb, though disgusted with her weakness, could not bear to have her assassinated, and prevailed upon Antipas to wed her instead of beheading her!
But such is the guilt of Antipas, when he heard of you, for your name has now been spread abroad as the Messiah, is convinced you may be the Baptist raised from the dead. Though Yoachium and Boaz have declared you an apostate, and mad, others said you are Elijah, and others have said you are a prophet, as one of the prophets of old! But Antipas believe you are Yahja, whom he had beheaded, and that you have returned from the dead to remove him from his command!”
“How can he say we are the same?” asked Yeshua, “Yahja is taller by a hand! And outweighs me by a shekel at least!”
Yakov shook his head, “Yeshua, he is your cousin! The family resemblance is there! Yeshua, you cannot see yourself with the eyes of others!”
“Then who do these others say I am? Yahja?” Yeshua asked, “Those that come to me from the ache in their hearts?”
Adan answered, Yahja the Baptist; Kelil the madman, Elias; and others called out the prophets. And Yeshua asked, “But whom say ye that I am?”
And Sheimeon blurted before anyone else could answer.
“You are the Messiah!”
Shimeon! Kefar!” Yeshua shook his head sadly, “There are those who have said that Yahja was the Messiah! And they followed him and by their words condemned him to die! Do you think that the Lords of the Earth will gladly step aside to relinquish their power to the Messiah? And he railed against Herod, for he was sent to do so by the Power above! Like the sheep of the fields, men followed him.
“But when the shepherd fails them they turn and dress him not in sheep’s clothing, but as the scapegoat prepared for the Day of Atonement. Their sins are passed on to the goat, and the goat will not be returned to the wilderness, as the Law requires. Even as sheep they know that the goat does not fear the wilderness and would return to the fold from where he was chosen. They would be forced to face their own fear and know that the goat was better than they. The sheep then must face their own inadequacy. To make sure they do not, they then take the goat to the high mountaintop and cast down.
They must ensure the goat will not survive the fall. They cannot allow that God will deal with their sins, and sacrifice the goat before their own eyes. The sins of the people taken care of; the goat suffers for the sins it has been assigned by the sheep. The ledger is balanced. Crops will ripen and harvested and the gods shall not punish the sheep for their sins no matter how egregious their own sins. The slate is wiped clean for another year.
Everyone will happily, and sinfully, go about their business for another year, without fear that the Power of God would strike them down at any moment!”
Yeshua looked from one to another, and his eyes, came to rest upon Miri, and an aching pain passed between them.
She stood up.
“In two days,” she said, “On the tenth day of Tishri, the high priest will select two goats procured by the Templar priests, of the same appearance, the same height, the same cost, and chosen together! Before the congregation, he cast lots for them. He shall, as we all know, put both his hands into a wooden case, and take out two plaques of bronze, one inscribed ‘for Adonai’ and the other ‘for Azazel’. He shall set the goat for Adonai on his right and the other on his left.
The goat wearing the plaque inscribed ‘For Adonai’, he will declare, ‘A sin-offering to the Power’-written using the Tetragrammaton, and the company of Priests about him shall cry, “Blessed be His Glorious Kingdom for all Eternity.’ And they cut the throat of this goat and offer it’s flesh to the Power, but the second goat set aside for Azazel, he fastens a scarlet woolen thread to it’s head. On this goat shall the high priest, and lay his hands upon it and, confess his sins and the sins of all others and recite a prayer for forgiveness, and the others respond to his prayer! These are the words, and you know them:
O Great Power Above,
You know I have acted iniquitously,
You know I have trespassed
You know I have sinned before thee.
I, my household, and the sons of Aaron,
O great Power, forgive the iniquities,
Forgive our transgressions,
And forgive the sins that I, my household, and Aaron's children,
committed before Thee!
It is written in the Book of Moses that for one day, the Power will forgive you, and on this day, to enter the Book of Life and be erased from the Book of Death, you must be cleansed from all your sins before the Lord!
And one of the Kohens shall take the goat to a precipice in the wilderness, accompanied by the most eminent men of Jerusalem. And along the road from Yerushalayim to the cliff, the mountain some call Azazel, ten booths are built at intervals along the road leading from Jerusalem to the steep mountain. At each one of these the priest leading the goat is formally offered food and drink. But according to tradition, he will refuse sustenance. And when he reaches the tenth and final booth, those with him proceed no further, and stand at a distance and witness the sacrifice from afar!
And at the precipice the priest shall divide the scarlet thread into two parts, tie one to the rock and the other to the goat’s horns, and then throw the goat down. For those who have never witnessed it, the goat does not die cleanly for the cliff is so high and rugged, the stones so hard and sharp, that before the goat lands in the valley below, its limbs are sorely shattered, its ribs broken. At each station down the rock, men are positioned so that as the goat passes, they wave a banner so that the high priest, seeing the flags waved, will continue with other rites.
If the sins of the people are forgiven, the thread tied to the rock turns white as a sign the sins of the people are forgiven. Should it not turn white, it is known that the sins of Israel are so great they cannot be forgiven! But when it is white, the priest signals the crowd and along the way at each of the stations, all there wave their shawls so that the Good News is transferred immediately to Yerushalayim.
Such is the ritual.
But in the days of the prophets, the goat burdened with the sins of Israel was, in those days, led forth to an isolated region, and released in the wilderness. It was then returned to Al Uzzah, known as Azazel, and there was no goat sacrificed on the altar of the Great Power. If the goat did not return from the wilderness, then the people knew that Al Uzza had accepted the offering, but if it returned, then confessions were not accepted as sacred and whole and the sins were not forgiven. We sent the goat in those days to the Power to decide whether sins should be forgiven, and the people were sorely afraid when their forgiveness was not forthcoming!
But over time, after the Babylonians returned to usurp the true faith, and rebuilt the temple, they were not content to allow the Power to decide whether sins were forgiven or no! And so they decided to present two before God before the one was sacrificed and the other sent into the wilderness, to prove that Azazel was not ranked with Yhwh, but regarded simply as the personification of wickedness in contrast with the righteous government of Yhwh. And they banned all rituals outside the walls of the Temple, the sending off of the epha with the woman to the land of and the release of a dove into the open field by the leper healed from affliction. And to ensure that their own power was tantamount, they added to the ten stations of the sacrificial goat, that it should be cast down, and only the Priest could witness the change of the thread from red to white!”
Miri looked at her friends. “We find ourselves in the wilderness of Azazel!”
The men shivered, for the shadows had grown long, and the night closed in about them. “It you know Yeshua as the Messiah, would you hand him over to those same priests? Do you think for a moment they will allow the Messiah to live?”
Her eyes fixed intently upon her lover. He was transfixed by her gaze, but suddenly recovered from the glamour and looked about the encampment.
“I will not be the sacrificial lamb,” Yeshua announced testily. “From the lesson of Abraham, written in the scriptures of his sacrifice of Yitzak, we have been shown that human sacrifice is no longer needed in order to appease the Power Above, and that a ram is enough.” Yeshua raised his arm pointing to an ancient high place whose stones had been cast down. “Tradition demands the best, the first-born, and unblemished animals be sacrificed. A deformed or imperfect animal would be an insult to the Power, not a highly regarded gift. The Templars have created a ritual for the sacrifice, burning the meat and fat mixed with herbs and spices. They say the smoke catches the attention of the Power; that the smell is more pleasing to him, so he would smile only upon the supplicants at The Temple. Yet none who have descended into the Valley of Gehenna can deny the stench of their slaughter of innocent lambs. Now we are all at the beck and call of the Levites to perform sacrifice, as if they alone have the ear of God. Have you not heard of the dog who sits in the manger, even though he eats no straw, he will not allow the sheep in his care to come near to eat?
And the sheep, in the way of sheep, crowd around the manger bowing down to the dog, in hopes that they will be blessed by being allowed to approach and partake of the contents of the manger. If they only had eyes to see, they would see the green succulent pastures beyond the stable. But they cannot see that they could enter the pasture without fear of the fox and the jackal, or that the shepherd is always watching over them.
They cannot see the deeds of the sinner are always tallied and are not transferable? They cannot see every act should be an act of kindness and generosity, and the deeds act toward the salvation of the doer. They cannot see ritual acts, the wearing of phylacteries, rituals of cleanliness, which have no purpose other than to demonstrate the piety of the participant are meaningless in the eyes of the Power.
This is true of rituals presided over by dogs, sheep or priests! It is not necessary to communicate with the Power through the priests, dogs, or sacrifice of sheep and goats. Each and every one of us has the ability to touch the Power Within and the Power Without through our own Words and our own Deeds!”
It was now quite dark. Shimeon and Adam offered to take Yeshua by boat to Bethsaida, for over the water they could avoid guard posts and bypass the city gates, and dock directly by his kin folk there.
“I have some thinking to do,” replied Yeshua. He looked at Miri. “Will you stay with me?”
Miri smiled. His dark eyes were so appealing, she could not believe he would ever think she could deny him anything. With a great deal of argument, Yeshua prevailed upon his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before near Bethsaida, while he sent away the rest of the people still milling about. And he charged them that they should tell no man he was the Messiah
As the others climbed into the baot of Shimeon and Adam, Kelil, that had been possessed with the devil prayed to yeshua that he might be with him. Yeshua said with great kindness to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how great things the Power has done for you, and that the Power has shown you great compassion this day!”
Kelil departed, but, as they discovered later, immediately began to publish in Decapolis how great things Yeshua had done for him and all men did marvel. And thereafter he called himself Stefanos, after his Greek origin, and performed daily great deeds of kindness and healing.
. And when Yeshua had dispatched the Galileans in his party, and gained a promise from those who would not, to leave them alone, he took Miri by the hand, and they departed into the mountains to pray and speak with each other.
“Will you follow me?” Yeshua asked Mirin as they held each other against the cold of the wilderness.
“Wherever you go, so shall I!” declared Miri.
“Till Death do we part?”
“Till Death do we part!” she promised.
The next morning, they descended to the road on the Eastern shore of Lake Kinneret, and there were hailed by Shimeon and Adam and several fishermen, and having brought in a great catch, they offered passage to Yeshua and Miri to the town of Bethsaida for it had been under the rule of Phillip, the brother of Antipas. But even there, Yeshua’s fame had preceded them
And, there, Miri recognized Yai, the Pharisee who had counseled her about Jonas, and when she saw him, he fell at her feet, and pleaded to her to ask Yeshua to come to his house. He was beside himself and said, “My little daughter lies at the point of death, and the physicians can do nothing for her!” And Yeshua heard his complaint, and asked Yair what ailed him.
“I pray thee, Yeshua,” cried Yair, “I am desperate! Come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live!”
And Yeshua and Miri went with him, and many others followed them, and swarmed about him. As they made their way to the House of Yair, a certain woman, afflicted by an issue of blood twelve years, who had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nonetheless not bettered, but rather grown worse,
Desperate, she squeezed beside Miri in the press behind, and touched Yeshua’s garment. Miri placed her own hand upon the woman’s shoulder, and the woman turned to her.
“Please, if I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole!” she pleaded to the Magdalene.
And Miri nodded, and the woman touched the hem of Yesha’s garment.
And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Miri felt her wholeness immediately and was filled with wonder. And Yeshua, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had flowed from him, and turned about in the press of the crowd, and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
Shimeon, on his right looked at Yeshua in surprise, “Yeshua, you see the multitude thronging you, and ask, ‘Who touched me?’”
Yeshua looked round about to see her that had touched him. Miri, her hand still on the woman’s shoulder smiled apologetically, but the woman, trembling with fear, knowing what was done in her, and was afraid that this man who channeled the Power through him could also strike her dow, and she fell down before him in supplication, and asked his forgiveness.
Yeshua was so moved, he reached down and lifted her up and he said to her, “Daughter, it is your faith that has made you whole! Go in peace, and know that for your sins, you shall bathe and be forgiven! Your life is a gift to you and the people around you!”
And even as he was speaking to her, a servant of Yair ran to them and called out to the Pharisee “Yair, Master! Your daughter is dead: there is no need to trouble the Prophet any further!”
But Yeshua said to Yair, “Fear not! The judgement is of a man only, do not despair until the Power Above claims the same!” and they hurried to the House of Yair. “Believe only in the Power of Heaven!”
And Miri and Shimeon Kefar, and Yakov, and yahn, his brothers hurried to the house by the synagogue, and saw there a great commotion, for it appeared that the servant had indeed spoken truthfully for the house was in tumult, and those in the household wept and wailed loudly. And Yeshua entered the house and asked that they keep quiet for he said, “With such wailing and weeping, how can you discern whther the damsel is dead, or deeply sleeping?”.
And they treated him with scorn, but Yair silenced them, and when he had put them all out, yeshua took yair and Zoe, the father and the mother of the young woman, and came to the girl’s bedside. Yeshua glanced up at Miri for a moment and took a deep breath. He took the damsel by the hand, and said to her, ‘Talitha, arise!”
And he heldhis pther hand and held it above her breast, and the girl’s eyes fluttered, and straightway the damsel opened her eyes and yeshua lifted her up. “Water!” whispered the gitl hoarsely, and lifting a pitcher beside the bed, her mother poured a chalice of clear water, and the gitl drank deeply of the goblet. Yeshua asked the family that no one should know of his role in the recovery, for she had been cured by the Power of Heaven, and commanded that she should be given something to eat.
By the afternoon, the young girl arose and walked about, and the people gathered there were amazed, for that day was also her twelfth birthday, and they remarked upon that and her name from that day was Jain, for God had given her back to her parents.
And another Pharisee of the school of Hillel who also was well disposed to the teaching of Yeshua arrived in Bethsaida from Panais where he had been dispatched by a group of Pharisees to warn Yeshua and his friends that Herodian agents had been dispatched to find them and place them all under arrest. Luckily, becasue many of the officers of Phillip’s court resisted their amalgamation with tha of Antipas, had delayed the with the warrant from Antipas. Levi, son of Alphaeus, had held the warrant further because of his friendship with Miri, asked that they flee before he released the Herodian hounds upon their trail.
And they fled immediately, and came into Galilee, for in their own country they had many friends who would hide them there. Straightaway, they traveled to the house of Judith, Yeshua’s sister and her husband Nathaniel. Yet when the Sabbath arrived, there were some that asked Yeshua to speak in the synagogue, for they had heard him before, and many hearing him for the first time were astonished. They asked each other about this new Yeshua, for he was not the same man they had known. “Where has Yeshua learned these things? What wisdom has been given to him? How can he heal the sick only by the laying on of his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mariamne, the brother of Yakov, and Yusef, his twin, Yehuda, and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us? Rebecca and Salome? But as they had not witnessed all these things themselves, they could not believe them and they were offended at him, and accused him of lies and of being a charlatan.
But Yeshua, in his own defense replied that a prophet is always receives honour last in his own country, and even among his own kin, and or even his own house. But he was discouraged by their opposition, and though he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, only one was healed, and he took no joy in it. He marvelled because of their unbelief, and Miri comforted him.
She prevailed upon him to go round about the villages nearby including his own home of Bait Lehem, where she had met before with Mariamne his mother.
By this time he had twelve who stood always with him. His brother Simon Zelotes and his comrade in arms, Yehudi of Issachar, and Nathaniel who had joined them. Shimeon, now called the Kefar, and his brother Adam, and Yeshua’s elder brother Yakov and his other brother Yahn, with Phillip the Mason and Levi, the tax collector, both of Bethsaida, who had left their occupations. That it was a Sabbatical Year allowed many to follow him, including Judith’s husband Thaddeus, his sister Rebecca, and, of course, his inspiration and staff, Miri.
But after his visit to Nazareth, he wished to retire, and they argued heavily over his reticence to step forward, but acknowledged it would be dangerous to continue unless they could increase their following in cities beyond the Kinneret, and so, they decided to sally forth two by two, and gauge what sort of reception his words might have elsewhere, and he gave them the power to speak in his name. And they decided they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse, for such things would slow them down and give them pause should they lose them.
It was a test of sorts that they were indeed under the path of Righteousness, for they concluded that if indeed that was the case, the Power Above would provide for their needs, and if the Power was withheld from them, then their cause would be deemed ignoble.
And so, they assembled and gave thanks to the Great Power of Heaven.
“Tread softly, my friends,” said Yeshua as they readied at dawn to travel abroad, “But be shod with sandals; and not put on a single coat, not two. Be wise as serpents but as gentle as doves. Wherever you are welcomed into a house, abide there until they have opened their hearts to the Word. And whosoever will not receive you, nor hear you, depart immediately, shake off the dust under your feet and leave it there for them. For wherever the Word is accepted, shall that place be blessed, and for those that do not, those places shall be less tolerable than for Sodom and Gomorrha on Judgement Day.
And they went out on the Day of Atonement, and preached that men should repent, even though the day was now passed, for the Power would receive repentance no matter the day allotted. It was said they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them, and baptized those who wished to be cleansed of their sins.
And after many days, the apostles gathered themselves together with Yeshua and Miri, and they told each other all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught, and they testified that wherever they preached the Gospel taught by yeshua, ears filled mouths with the words and spurred others to good deeds. And the land was now buzzing throughout Israel, all of Galilee, and the Decapolis, even to Perea of the coming of the a new order. Though Yeshua asked again if they had mentioned the Messiah, and none answered him, but protested that their Gospel cause others to speculate thus, and there was no avoiding it. They urged him to declare himself, and still he refused.
Their meeting was hard to keep secret, and they were always followed wherever they went. Finally, in the house of Shimeon Kefar in Kefar Nahum, Yeshua said, “Come let’s retire apart into a desert place, and rest a while, for there are many coming and going, and we have no chance even to eat in peace!”
But as they departed into a desert place by ship privately, first to Bethsaida, people saw them departing, and many that knew him, ran afoot out of the towns, and intercepted them wherever they chose to land. And Yeshua, when he saw so many people, was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd, and he knew he could not avoid them any longer.
His lot was cast, and he told Miri he must do what must be done, and she, for her part, knew that it could be no other way, and so followed him and provided him with acceptance, sustenance and love.
The die was cast.
The hills cast long purple shadows across the lake as the sun dipped below the horizon.
“Yeshua,” said Shimeon, “It is late, and this is a lonely place. We must send these people away. Tell them to go to the farms and villages so that they can buy themselves something to eat.”
“It will be dark soon. You yourselves give them something to eat,” replied Yeshua.
“We are hungry, ” interjected a man dressed in the Greek style.
“And do you want us to spend 200 silver coins on bread in order to feed you?” replied Shimeon angrily. “Perhaps you have the money to feed all these people!”
“If Yeshua is who you say he is, then can he not turn these stones at our feet into loaves?” retorted the man. “A man so close to God must be able to ask a favour!”
A small five-year-old boy squeezed past the man.
“I can share my food,” he declared, holding out a small basket in front of him.
Yeshua smiled at the boy.
“What is your name?”
“Benjamin Bar Ptolemy.”
“Well, Benjamin Bar Ptolemy,” asked Yeshua, lifting the lid on the basket, “What have you got to share with us?”
“Five loaves and also two fishes,” Benjamin replied proudly.
“Thank you Benjamin.”
Yeshua grasped one of the small loaves in his right hand and held it above his head, displaying the bread to all who had eyes to see.
“Benjamin has already the Power within his heart. He has given us this bread with no thought of payment, without thought to his own hunger, and the strength of his heart shall feed us all. So we all must share, each man with his neighbour. Are there not some of you who have brought food for yourself, and harbour it now under your cloak?”
Yeshua looked directly at the man who had been calling the loudest for food, broke the loaf in two, and offered it to the man.
“Can you take bread from this child?”
The man squirmed under Yeshua’s gaze and reluctantly accepted the loaf from Yeshua.
“Take only what you need,” said Yeshua softly, “and pass the rest on to your brother.”
The man broke off a small piece and dropped the rest of the loaf back into the basket. A woman pushed through to Benjamin brandishing a large round loaf. She broke a small portion from the loaf and placed the remainder into Benjamin’s basket.
Yeshua nudged Benjamin forward. Benjamin held the basket out in front of him. The two of them wandered through the crowd, Shimeon and Adam hovering protectively behind their rabbi. Soon, bread, fish, pomegranates, dates and figs filled the basket to overflowing. Somewhere appeared another basket. Then another. And another...
Others joined Benjamin, Yeshua, Shimeon and Adam and moved through the crowd with their robes outspread to collect donations. The mood of the people changed, and Yeshua could feel they were no longer demanding answers, or challenging his words. The act of sharing had transformed them and hearts were blossoming like the flowers on the hillside. He realized as he watched Benjamin, that the child had taught them all a lesson, and he had done so by acting on Yeshua’s words. How much further had this child gone than all the others, including himself. They all had the benefit of the lessons of the Torah and the oral Tradition, yet those lessons were just words until they became acts. The child had no need of lessons!
Yeshua broke from his reverie as an old woman hugged him. He looked into her eyes as their embrace ended, and knew what must be done. He could no longer be satisfied with rhetoric. If he was to change the world, he must set an example for all to see. His life would become a beacon for all those souls who had lost their way, and needed the love of their fellow human beings. He looked up, and his eyes met Miriam’s.
Her heart ached as she stared back Yeshua. He belonged to the people now. She yearned for the time they had been together, alone above the Arbel cliffs. Tears welled in her eyes and traced a silver path down her cheeks.
A group of hungry urchins swarmed around Yeshua, jostling him as they reached for his basket, and he laughed at their eagerness, scolding the more eager to let the little ones have their turn first.
Rebecca’s hand touched her shoulder.
“They always win,” she said softly.
“I love him so much!” she whispered to Rebecca. “I love him so much!”
Rebecca stroked her hair gently.
“So do I,” she whispered back, “So do I.”
Miriam turned to face Rebecca.
“But you have learned to share, Rebecca.”
“Miriam, I am his sister, not his lover.”
Miriam flushed slightly.
“Yeshua holds a very special and private place for you in his heart. He needs you. And he will never betray your love!”
“Nor I his!” she said fiercely.
It was not until dark that Miri noticed the basket that Benjamin Bar Ptolemy had carried. It was Susanna’s basket! Immediately her heart stopped and she was filled with dread, and told Yeshua she must go to the Tree of Life and find her charge, and explained why. And yeshua and the others searched through the encamped followers, but none had seen the boy of the two fishes. Miri lifted her skirts and set out immediately for Tarichae.
It took most of the night to walk to her old estate, and when she arrived dawn was not far away, for the sky had begun to change colour in the East. She was exhausted from her trek, and retired into one of the empty tombs to rest. She fell asleep almost immediately and slept soundly without any dreams.
When she awoke, Benjamin sat watching her. He sat upon a shelf, and his bare legs dangled back and forth.
“Benjamin!” she cried and scooped him from his feet and wrapped her arms about him tightly, for she now recognized him. It was Susanna’s lost brother!
“Thank the Great Mother you’re alive! How did you get here?”
“I hid in the mountains. I was out playing when the soldiers came and took away my brother and the others!”
Miri stroked his hair and stared at him in disbelief.
“After they had left the Carmelite Brothers took me in!”
“How did you get back here?”
“Two men from Qumran came to the community there, and asked if there were any boys who were a brother to Susanna of tarichae!”
“And so you told them?” asked Miri.
Benjamin shook his head. “I did not think until after they had left, that it could be me for I am from Kefar Nahum! Then, one night susanna came to me in a dream and told me she was the Susanna from Tarichae, and I should come to her!”
“And did you?”
“Not at first, for I told my dream to a brother there, and he said it was the work of Al Shatan, and I should ignore this magic, for it was sent by demons, but she came every night, and I kept my dream a secret for I had no wish to go through an exorcism! I had seen it once, and could nbot bear the thought! But I thought perhaps I was evil, and decided I did not belong to the Community there, for they lived as Saints, and I knew I could not! So I laid my plans and at the right moment, I ran away. I stayed hidden for two days. Then, every sunset, I would set my back to the West, and I walked here!”
“No one stopped you?”
Benjamin shook his head. “I hid behind rocks when I saw people coming, then I walked in the night time.”
“Weren’t you scared?” asked Miri.
He shook his head. “Susanna led me here!”
“Led you here?” Miri stared uncomprehendingly at the small boy.
“At night, when it was dark, she led me by my hand,” he whispered, “Though I was beset on every side by demons and hyenas and jackals, she held me fast and frightened the animals away! She brought me here! But I got lost and she couldn’t find me, so I went back to my house in Kefar Nahum. Someone there told me she lived here. But all I found was her basket with those five loaves and two fishes. I took it and followed the crowds for I thought I might find her there! Do you know where she might be?”
“I am here!”
It was Susanna. She stood barefoot in her night dress. “You can let him go, now,” said Susanna.
Miri set Benjamin on the ground and Susanna took him by his hand.
“Thank you,” she said to Miri and led her older brother down to the Tree. Miri followed behind them, her heart breaking from happiness, and tears of sweet sadness flowing down her cheeks. Susanna picked up the basket. It contained five loaves and two fishes. The girl caught Miri staring at the contents of the basket and covered it with an embroidered linen cover, and smiled at Miri.
“We can go now!” she said simply and stood waiting for Miri to lead them away.
Her mind reached out for yeshua, and a wind arose from her feet and passed over the lake to seek him out. It’s breath tugged at Yeshua’s robes as he walked along the beach, and he passed his hands over his eyes to brush aside his long hair, and smiled, for he knew Miri’s touch, and glanced and saw a boat in heavy waves lifted from the surface by Miri’s breath. And he saw the men straining their backs to row against it, for the wind was contrary to their progress, and would have passed by them, had they not seen him walking by the sea, and cried out to him. It was his brother Yahn and Yakov and Yusef and two other fishermen in the boat, and he called them thither, but they could make no headway against the wind. He waded out into the shallows and waved to them, but the wind was still seeking him out and he cried out to Miri, “Be still! I am here!” and she heard him and the wind ceased, and his brethren were amazed beyond measure, for they heard his words, and marveled that he could command the winds. They rowed to where he stood in the water, and lifted Yeshua into the boat.
“Now, I’ve seen everything!” said Yakov, “I am loathe to say so, but I think Yahja was right! You are the Messiah!”