Rebecca awoke with a start. Her suddden movement awoke Yehudi.
“What’s wrong?” he asked sleepily.
“Yeshua is in trouble!” she said in alarm.
Yehudi pulled himself from his own sweeter dreamland. “What are you talking about?”
“He has been arrested by Antipas!”
Yehudi was now alert. “What are you talking about?” he asked, looking about the wilderness around them. His movement startled a foraging band of feral cats, and its members, of all ages, scattered into the darkness.
Rebecca wrapped a woolen cloth about her shoulders and shivered, and Yehudi gathered her into his arms, wrapping her again in his thick blanket, but she pushed him away and stood up.
“We must go to Bethany!” she said, and threw her saddle over her own chestnut coloured horse, Boarnages.
Yehudi said nothing, but his place was at her side, and he lifted his own saddle to his black stallion, Tzedaka. “And just what are we to do when we get there?” he asked as he cinched the saddle tight. He kneed the stallion in the chest, for Tzedaka had a habit of blowing his belly out so that the bindings would come loose when his breath was let out. the loose bindings made it a simple act to turn sharply and drop the rider on the ground. Yehudi still had scars from such a deposition into a thorn bush. Tzedaka grunted, and Yehudi pulled the cinch tight.
Both horses, fine spirited Arabian mounts, were excited by the call to action, for they loved to run, and they sensed already the tension in their riders. As they mounted the horses, their companions awoke, but could only stare in sleepy stupefaction into the dust raised by the thundering hooves.
The night was cool, and they slowed their pace, for the animal’s sweat would chill them. They slowed their pace and skirted south and west of Yericho to avoid Herod’s palace. They could see the walls of the Royal Compound, and even at that distance, they could feel the vapours of evil and cruelty still emanating from the grounds. There, Herod the Great was slain by his sons. The blood of their brothers, the drowning of Aristobulus preceded their father’s, and countless tales of torture and sexual deviance floated in the air above the palace like an amorphous vulture waiting for the corpse of the Herods’ rule to finally expire. for all who passed it’s walls, it brought silence until it was well out of sight.
“Tell me about your dreams,” said Yehudi as they entered the narrow gorge that connected Yericho to Yerushalayim. Even here, the lamp flames and camp fires of pilgrims and the faithful fluttered like fire flies and the rocks gave up the last of their heat before the face of Shemmesh appeared over the horizon and warmed them again.
“I sat with Yeshua under an olive tree, and we were just speaking of trivial things. I told him about the pool and the fish within it!”
“And about us?” asked Yehudi with alarm. Despite his passion, he would prefer his sex life was kept closed.
“It was a dream, Stupid!” said Rebeccas, but Yehudi was inconvinced, for he believed strongly that dreams were as real as the ground beneath his feet.
“You needn’t be so asininely afraid!” she said, “I was speaking of fish!”
Yehudi shook his head for he knew of a number of links between fish and sex, but also knew enough not to say anything about those connections to Rebecca.
“And so, what happened?” asked Yehudi.
“Well, you know where the lake drains back into the river? And there’s a place where the water flows and the fish cannot enter becuase the waters of the Dead Sea a re poisonous? They can’t sense that poison, but after time, only the fish that stay in the pool remain alive. Any that follow the water downstream, die and never return to the pool!”
“Of course!” said Yehudi.
The spawn of those fish who do not move from the pool, grow up and some wander, but some do not! And after many generations, every fish in that pool, has only one habit, and that is to keep there place! Yet in every generation a fish arises and tries to enter the great salt lake, and those that follow die in the lake!”
Yehudi shook his head. “Look I can see where you’re going with this!” said Yehudi, “But we are not fish, and the lake is not poisonous!”
“Exactly!” said Rebecca, “In the dream, the lake was no longer salty, but because no fish come back, the fish that remain behind, had no wish to leave, but because of their fear of the salt, they never tasted the sweeter water of the lake.”
“You’ve inherited Yeshua’s penchant for allegory!” declared Yehudi.
“I’m not finished!” said Rebecca in a flash of anger that aroused Yehudi’s passion. “I turned to tell Yeshua about the fish, and he was hanging from a tree!” she said breathlessly. “His limbs were nailed to the olive’s branches, and he cried out in agony and an anger! He called my name and asked me to pull me down! But I was under the water with the fishes! I had no way to reach him!”
“We are not fish!” said Yehudi adamantly.
Rebecca shook her head sadly. “We are all fish!”
Yohanna had taken over wedding plans from Miri, and met with Matiyahu. They had arranged to rent a large room for the wedding from an innkeeper who had a hall, courtyard and upper room that would serve well for a celebration. The place was rented out for special occasions, but luckily, the people who had booked it for Pesach had been unable to come up with the funds in time. Yohanna paid him double the fee to ready the chamber, and set up a bridal bed. After she announced her plans, Yeshua asked if the bed had been yet made. When she replied it had not, he asked if anyone would mind, if he made it himself.
Miri was delighted.
There was some discussion as to whether he had time, and Yeshua would not hear of anyone changing his mind.
“If you are to make the bed, then I will sew the sheets!” declared Miri, and everyone else offered their services to assist in the preparations. Despite having to avoid the eyes of Herod and his agents, the crowds gathering for Pesach covered their activities, and they were simply a handful amongst thousands gathering on the Mount by Bethany. They could travel quite openly amongst the pilgrims, and no one paid them any attention. But still, they had to avoid the Houses of Yohannes and Yohanna, for they were closer to the court of Antipas and the Council of Caiaphas. Yusef as well, chose to avoid contact with Miri and Yeshua within the city, and visited only at Bethany under cover of visiting Martha, Sister Miriam and Eleazar.
Rebecca and Yehudi wsept in from the desert, and they were reunited with Yeshua and Miri, and their horses stabled with a farmer nearby to avoid more attention being paid to them at Bethany. Rebecca liberated Sister Miriam and took her up to the Holy City. When she heard of Miri’s advice to Sister Miriam to write, she was elated and insisted upon taking a mortified Sister Miriam from antiquities dealer to antiquities dealer, until they found one who, once he saw the calligraphic skills of the young woman commissioned her to write copies of Books of the Prophets for tourists. He gave her papyrus and her own box of pens and ink tablets, and told her she had until the tenth of Nisan to produce a copy of the scroll.
“You can read that?” asked Rebecca as they walked arm in arm through the market. “Oh my goodness!” excliamed Sister Miriam as she opened the scroll to be copied.
“The Scroll of Micah!” she cried out, “It’s the haftara for the next Sabbath!”
Rebecca peered at the writing.
“You can read that?”
Sister Miriam looked at Rebecca in surprise. “You can’t?”
Yeshua had selected a fig tree to use as the bridal bed. It had borne no fruit that year and its owner agreed to have it removed. Yeshua came up to the tree and spoke to it softly, “No more shall any eat fruit of thee, but they legacy shall last for ever!” And so doing, he went down with the others and they walked to the Temple. The next day, the owner had cut it down as Yeshua had asked, and they gathered its bole and branches, and he selected those he wanted for the bridal bed and those that could be used for other things. These he gave back to the owner. Yehudi extended payment to the owner, but the man refused, saying, he would give the tree as a wedding presentation to Yeshua. But seeing the man was poor, Yehudi pocketed the change and determined to give it later to the man’s wife, for he knew she had a more practical bent.
Yeshua took a break from carving Miri’s bridal bed, and stopped in at Bethany.
“How are things coming?” asked Miri, as they sat together under the date palms. Martha sat nearby sewing. She was chaperone, or had appointed herself as such to ensure that nothing sexual erupted before the wedding day. Miri was not entirely opposed to their abstinence, for a sexual fast made the forthcoming feast all the more sensually excruciating. Just being with Yeshua was causing her to tingle deliciously.
“I am almost finished, but Yohannes stopped by and mentioned that I should read from the Torah this Shabbat. It is Shabbat HaGadol, but he says that I should read the Torah in the Temple before the wedding! I will have to return to Yericho to bring the others to witness my reading and to egg me on!”
“Isn’t that dangerous?” asked Miri, “You will be in the open!”
“I will be safe in the crowds,” replied Yeshua, “I am not sure that the Kittim will relisg the idea of seizing me surrounded with hundreds of countrymen! Beside the Romans don’t speak our tongue, and I’m sure they will not notice anything unusual in my behaviour!”
He wrapped his arms about her and kissed her. “Besides, the bed is almost done!”
“When do we get to test it out?” Miri asked eagerly.
Martha cleared her throat, and though they parted from their embrace, their fingers remained intertwined.
“At the Consummation!” said Yeshua, his eyes twinkling.
“I can’t wait that long!” said Miri, her voice catching.
“Nor I!” declared Yeshua.
Still, he managed to tear himself away eventually, and walked alone through the valley to Yericho. And so at dawn, on the ninth day of the month of Nisan, Yeshua and his disciples, singing lusty bridegroom ditties, set out together through the valley to Yerushalayim from Yericho, and the road was filled with the faithful going up to Yerushalayim for the Pesach Festival that started a week hence. Once they had reached the hill by Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Yeshua sent forth two of his disciples, and said to them, “Go your way into the village yonder, and as soon as you enter, walk until, on your left hand side, the road splits in two, and you will find a colt tied there. Untie that colt, and bring him here. And if any man challenges you, asking why you are taking the colt, answer him and say, ‘My Master needs him!’ and if all is well, he will allow you to bring him. If you return empty handed, the time has not yet come to enter the Holy City!”
They went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they untied the colt. And certain of them that stood nearby asked them, “What are you doing with that colt?” And they replied as Yeshua had commanded, and the men by the tree let them go. Elated, they brought the colt to Yeshua, and so that he enter the city as a bridegroom, cast their own garments on him; and sat him upon the colt.
Seeing him arrayed as a bridegroom, many pilgrims spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and waved then in celebration of his marriage and laid the palms before his feet. And in celebration, borne of the excitement of the High Holidays, pilgrims that that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, “Hosanna! Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed be the Kingdom of David, that comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
And arrayed as a bridegroom, Yeshua entered into Yerushalayim, and into the temple, and there he was prevailed upon to recite his Aliyah for such was the custom for the Bridegroom on the Sabbath before his wedding, and many gathered about to heckle him with good humour, and those who knew him best, wondered at the passage he would read, for the book to which he would be called up on Shabbat HaGadol was the third chapter of the Book of Micah. As he passed through Bethany, Sister Miriam ran out from the house and presented Yeshua with a copy of the Scroll of Micah she had prepared.
“This is for you!” she said, and he opened it as their procession pressed through the throngs of pilgrims waving palm leaves and calling out to the bridegroom, for he wore a brand new cloak, the kittel sewn for him by Mother Mary.
Inside the Temple, Yeshua opened the scroll, and read from the Book of Micah, and he read with such authority, and the words carried such a greater meaning for the people that heard his voice, none who gathered thought to give him a difficult time:
“Behold!” he voice rang out from the portico, and brought all who heard him to attention. “I will send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me! Anf the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly become his Temple! Even the messenger of the Covenant, with whom you are well pleased, shall come forth!”
He lowered the scroll and looked about him, and his gaze engaged the crowd gathered about, and recited as by rote, for the words were burned into his Heart.
“But who?” he asked, Who may abide the dayof his coming? And who amongst you shall stand when he appears amongst you?”
His friends were overcome and kneeled before their rabbi, for they knew he spoke of himself, and their Faith caused others about to knell also, and the spirit of the Power descended upon the courtyard. “Who shall stand?” Yeshua repeated, for he will burn like the fuller’s fire, and cleanse like fuller’s soap!”
He pointed at the tables of the money changers amongst the very pillars of the Temple, and his voice rose in anger.
“And he shall sit as a refiner and prurifier of silver! And he shall purge the soons of Levi, and purify them as he would purge gold, as he would purge silver, that they may offer to the Power Above an offering with True Righteousness! Only then shall the offering of Juda, the offering of Yerushalayim, please the Power Above, as in the days of yore, as it was in the ancient of days!”
The pilgrims gathered about began to speak amongst themselves and the buzz attracted a growing audience. For all who had ears that day, the Galilean spoke as a prophet, and there was no doubt that he spoke with the authority of God. Yeshua’s voice rose, and many thought he was Elijah returned from the wilderness.
“And I shall come amongst you to judgement! And I shall bear swift witness against the sorcerers! I shall bear witness against the adulterers! And I shall bear swift witness against the liars!”
Voices began to cry “Amen!” about him And some called out “Hosanna! And some cried out “Praise the Lord!” and Yeshua continued his preaching.
“And I shall bear witness against those who oppress the workers with miserly wages! And I shall bear witness against those who oppress the widow, or enslave the orphan! I shall bear witness they who turn aside from the needy stranger at their right hand! Fear not!
Those of you, the sons of Yakov! The Sons of Israel! Those who follow the Path of Righteousness! Fear not! For you shall not be consumed, but live Forever at the right hand of the Power!
Since the days of your ancestors, you have turned you backs on the Law! You have not kept my commandments! But the Lord calls you back, that he may return to you! And you ask the Power, ‘How can I return?’ And you ask ‘How can a man rob the Power Above?’ Yet you have robbed me daily! And you ask ‘How can you say I rob the Power Most High? I have not given tithes and taxes?’
But what profit is there for God in tithes and taxes, when your words and deeds do him no honour? Your words curse me, and your deeds diminish me! Bring your tithes into the storehouse, so that there will be meat in my house! Give to the Power Above, and The Power shall out a libation for you, enough that you cup will run over with blessing!
Return to the Power that which belongs to the Power, and the Power will raise the fruit of your fields, and swell the grapes on the vine! And all other nations shall say Israel is blessed, for you shall be a land of joy and delight!”
Yeshua gazed about him, and those who were touched by the light of his eyes felt the touch of his Soul and the Soul of the Power.
“You very words have be set against me! And you ask, ‘What have we said against the Power Above?’ Yet you have asked ‘It is useless to server the Power! What good does it do me, that I keep his Laws and to humble myself before the Power of Heaven? For are not the Proud, happy? Do not the wicked gain riches and are raised above all others? And even those who scorn the Power are rewarded!”
Heads nodded about him. The Galilean was right.
“But I say to you now, that those who are God Fearers, even as you talk amongst yourselves, the Lord can hear you! And your words are written beside your name in the Book of Life, and as you think upon the name of the Power, and think good thoughts, those thoughts are written beside your name!
And the Power shall take you in and give you Everlasting Life, and you shall be as jewels in the Crown of Heaven, and you will be spared even as parents spare their own child above all others! And then you shall return to him, and see the difference between the Righteous and the wicked, and between those who serve the Power and those who do not!”
Yeshua raised the scroll above his head, for the HaGadol reading spoke to him and he was taken by it to unite with the Spirit of God.
“Behold!” he cried, “For the day shall come that shall burn as hot as an oven, and all the Proud, yes, and all that do wicked deeds, shall be cut down like stubble, and they shall be burned up as a farmer burns away the chaff in the fields, and they shall be left with neither roots nor branches!
But you that fear the name of the Power Above, shall be bathed by rays of Shemmesh, the Sun of Righteousness, and arise on golden wings, healed, and shall grow as fat as a calf in the stable! And we shall crush the Wicked beneath our feet, The wicked shall be ashes beneath the soles of your feet. This the Power Above will manifest!
And you? But remember the laws of Moses, the servant of the Power Above who was commanded by the Power in Horeb to give his commandments to all of Israel! And this he said:
‘See before you, I will send Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful Day of Judgement! And on that day, shall the heart of parents turn to their children, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their parents, lest the Power arrive and smite the earth with his curse!”
And the crowd, instead of heckling the Aliya called out and applauded the reading.
A group of Templars, Sadducees and Herodians passing by, interpreting Yeshua’s Aliyah celebration as an actual scene escalating to full-blown Paschal riot, had stopped to listen, but some amongst them, stepped forward to nip this wanton messiah in the bud, in order to trap him in a statement that would lose his favour with the people gathered about. An elder, an official of the Temple, flanked by a young priest, pushed through the crowd and asked him indignantly, “By what authority do you do these things? Who gave you the authority to do this?”
And Yeshua was annoyed at the old man’s indignant interruption in the midst of the Aliyah. “I will answer your question if you will answer my question. Then I will tell you by what authority I do these things!’
The official, well versed in sophistry from training and a myriad of counter heretical argument, spread his arms magnanimously, and Yeshua turned on him with a vengeance.
“Was the authority for baptism by Yahja from God or from men?” asked Yeshua.
The young priest whispered to the elder, “If you answer, ‘from God’ he will say, ‘Then why didn’t you recognize his authority or stand on his behalf when he was arrested by Herod?”
“But if I say, ‘from men’ the people here might take offence, for many here consider Yahja to be a prophet, and we did nothing to help him.”
The two glanced at Yeshua and the elder said, “No one can know the Will of God.”
Yeshua smiled, “Excellent answer! Yet, even the smallest child can see the hand of God in acts of reverence, can she not? From what Yahja has done, then his authority must have come from God, for you in the Temple have never acknowledged his holiness! So then neither will you know by what authority I do these things, nor do I need to seek your permission!”
Murmurs of agreement rippled through the crowd. The young priest, with overbearing obsequity, asked him, “Rabbi, you obviously are truthful and defer to no one, and appear impartial in every way, and thus teach the way of God in Truth. So tell me, is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar? Should we pay or not?”
“You are testing me? What is your name?” asked Yeshua.
“My name is Saul,” replied the young priest. He consciously did not reveal his birthplace, for by his accent, it was obvious he was born neither in Judah nor Israel.
“Well then, Saul,” replied Yehsuah, “Bring me a denarius to look at.”
A well-heeled and Greekly coiffured Saducee in the priestly entourage, produced a remarkably new and unblemished silver denarius. Yeshua asked the man to show everyone both daces and the Saducee displayed it to the crowd proudly held between thumb and index finger. Yeshua squinted at the face of the coin and asked curiously, “Whose likeness and description is this?”
And Saul replied, “Caesar’s”.
“You will go far, Saul,” said Yeshua, the spirit of the Power upon him, “You have a shekel? Surely the men of God, have a single shekel?”
One of the scribes flipped a shekel to Yeshua. He caught it and held it up in his other hand, “And which likeness is this?”
“The Temple!” shouted an eager youngster from the gathering crowd.
“Exactly!” said Yeshua, “Then I say to you, Saul, render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Unto the Temple what is the Temple’s. And to God, that which is God’s!”
The crowd murmured and nodded in agreement. They sensed the truth in Yeshua’s words. But well-heeled and Greekly-groomed Sadducee, his voice tinged with sarcasm and mock sincerity, spoke up, “Very well Rabbi, the prophet Moyshah has said if a man dies having no children, his brother as next of kin, shall marry his wife, and raise up an offspring to his brother. Is this not so?”
Yeshua nodded. “It is so.”
“Then, of the seven brothers in my mother’s family, the first married and died, and, having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. The second died and she passed to the third and so on and so on, until all seven died childless. Finally, the woman died barren and childless.’
“A sad tale,” replied Yeshua, “It does not bode well for your own progeny. But your story has a point?”
“You believe also in resurrection, do you not, Rabbi?”
“For those who follow the Path of Righteousness, it is possible!”
The Saducee continued, “In the resurrection you claim, whose wife would she be? The first or last? For they all had her.”
“You are not mistaken in your interpretation of the Scriptures,” replied Yeshua, “But you do underestimate the Power of God. For after resurrection, there is no need to marry nor be given in marriage, for all would be as connected to the Power as angels in heaven. To reach Heaven, each Soul must be given over and become One with the Spirit of God, and each becomes the Soul of Souls.’
“Thus, it is not for the love of the husband that a husband is cherished; it is for the love of the Soul in the husband that a husband is held dear. It is not for the love of the wife that a wife is cherished; it is for the love of the Soul in the wife that a wife is held dear. It is not for the love of the child that a child is cherished; it is for the love of the Soul in the child that a child is held dear. It is not for the love of the All that the Universe is cherished; it is for the love of the Soul in All that the All is adored.’
“Only by giving yourself up entirely to the Power of God can you be reborn, and if this is so, then you shall no longer exist in the manner which you live now. We are reborn as the Lord sees fit, not as to who you are now, nor to whom you may wish to be. The choice is not ours to make. But why do you question me about the resurrection of the dead? Does not all Life come from God? God is not the God of the dead, but the ever-living!”
Many in the crowd were impressed by Yeshua’s words, and for they sensed their own thoughts in his word. Many asked his name of others, and as his name circulated through the crowd, it was not Yeshua who spoke, but the Power through Yeshua. There were many who understood the sacred in his words, and within the whispering and nodding, the rumour that a prophet had appeared on the Temple Mount became Truth to all who could see it.
But Saul, precocious, and an intense scholar and expert in the Law of Moses, unaware of the growing sentiment in the people around them, pressed Yeshua, and asked with an obvious disdain for this rude Galilean, “Rabbi, then which do you think is the greatest commandment within the Law?”
And he said to them, “You shall love God with all your heart, all your mind and with all your Soul! This is the greatest and foremost of all commandments! For without God would there be commandments to guide us at all?”
Many nodded again, but the Sadducee scoffed and turned from the fray for he had neither the intelligence nor time to weigh heavily upon spiritual matters, as his did his young Levite ally. On leaving, he made a great show of dropping a large sum of money for the Temple into the collection basin. The noise of the heavy coins rang against the copper basin caught the attention of the gathering crowd. Within a heartbeat their attention swung back to Saul and Yeshua, and did not notice as a poor widow quietly placed two small copper coins into the basin. Yeshua, standing opposite the treasury noticed the old woman and pointed her out. “You see, if your eyes can believe, this poor widow, with her two small coins has put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury; for they put in out of their surplus, but she, in her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”
“Has not the prophet Micah asked us how we shall come before the Lord, and bow ourselves before the high God? Will we come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?’
“Will the Lord be pleased with a thousand rams, or with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall you give your first-born for your transgressions, the fruit of your body for the sins of your soul? Has not the Lord showed you what is good? What does he require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly on the Path of Righteousness?”
Many heads nodded in the crowd.
“The scribes and the priests have seated themselves in the Seat of Moses; still, we must do all that the Law tells us to do. But observe and do not act according to their deeds for they make pronouncements which remain unfulfilled. They wrap heavy loads and tie them to other men’s shoulders to carry, but they themselves are unwilling to lift as much as a finger, unless they are paid handsomely! Have any of us here ever seen a priest give from his own pocket to the widow who cannot afford the price of a lamb?’
“No!” came the reply from a hundred lips.
“They do their deeds to be noticed by men, for they increase the size of their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels on their garments as the size of their personal treasure coffers grows from the efforts of poorly paid tanners!’
The crowd buzzed with approving voices. Yeshua pointed at Saul.
“Beware of these scribes who parade around in their long robes, and enjoy respectful greetings in public places and insist on being called ‘Rabbi’, choosing always the chief seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets.
“I say do not ask to be called Rabbi, for there is only One who is the Teacher, and we, brothers and sisters, are all his disciples! Neither ask to be called leader. Whoever exalts himself, shall be humbled before the Lord and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted!”
Heads in the crowd nodded; they were with him now. Yeshua pointed his finger at Saul, and his entourage of young scholars.
“Woe to you, scribes and priests! In your hypocrisy, who closes off the Gates of Heaven to others! You dare not enter the Holy of Holies yourselves, because your hearts know you are not pure enough and because of that, you fear the Lord! But neither do you allow those who are pure of heart and love God to enter! You sit as a dog in a manger! You do not eat of the food within it, yet you bark and snarl when we sheep come to eat of the trough of God!’
“These men clean and polish the outside of the goblet, yet drink of the unclean swill which remains on the inside. You must first clean the inside of the cup before the outside will shine. You think that we are all as drunk as you are with your power that we cannot see the glass of your goblets are stained within by the misery of others!’
“Your own bodies are like the whitewashed tombs on the Mount of Olives, beautiful on the outside, but within, corrupt and as unclean as the newly rotting corpse! You build magnificent tombs for the prophets and patriarchs, adorning monuments to the righteous with gold, saying, ‘If we had been alive in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with those shedding the blood of the prophets!’’
“But to this day, you and your ancestors have been sent prophets, wise men and holy scribes to point the way, and still those who live by the word of God are crucified, scourged and stoned by you who call yourselves holy! You bear the guilt of blood of Abel, the son of Adam! The blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah! The blood of Yahja The Baptist and others!’
“You vipers of Yerushalayim, who wait by the wayside to bite at the ankles of the Righteous treading the Path to Heaven! Wicked Yerushalayim! You kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to save you!’
“The time will come when the very walls of this Temple will come crashing down about your ears, and the City of David will be buried in rubble! You, most of all, will wail and gnash your teeth and shred your holy garments. Your pride will have been in vain, and you will rue your posturing and call with your dying breath on the Lord in true humiliation, but he will not answer!’
Yeshua turned in a circle, addressing the throng surrounding him.
“Wait and it will be too late!
See to it that no one misleads you! Many will come in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘I am the Messiah!’, and will lead you astray! You will hear of war and rumours of war! See that you are not frightened! Nation will rise against nation! Be not afraid! Kingdom against kingdom, and the Earth will battle against the sky!
Be not afraid!
All these things are merely the beginning!
But be not afraid!
You will be delivered into slavery, and all Nations will revile you because you are with the Lord!
But be not afraid!
Many of you will fall from grace! You will betray each other! Hatred will run rampant in the streets of Jerusalem, and your love for each other will grow cold!
But be not afraid!
The one who endures all this to the end, and still loves the Lord, it is he who will endure, for he has listened and knows in his heart, The Lord God who whispers in his ears:
But be not afraid!”
The crowd was silent, and movement around Yeshua had ceased.
“I tell you this, for all of you with ears to hear my words: when you see the Abomination of Desolation which was spoken through the prophet Daniel standing in the place of the Holy of Holies, then let those who are living in Judea flee to the mountains! He who is on the housetop must leap to the ground from there, for he shall have no time to gather his belongings from the household! He who is in the field will have no time to turn back to gather his cloak! Woe to those with child and women nursing babies when this comes to pass! Pray that your flight not be in winter or on the Sabbath, for there will be great tribulation as has never been seen before!
Do not be as those in the days of Noah, for in those days before the Great Flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, even as the rains began, and Noah entered the ark. They did not understand until the waters rose and washed them away, and so it will be in the coming days!
Then shall there be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left! Two women will be grinding at the mill. One will be taken and one will be left! Mark my words! You will have no time to put your house in order!
Be as the faithful and sensible slave, whose master puts in charge of his household to give all within their food at the proper time. Blessed is the slave who is feeding all under his care when the master returns! An evil slave will say in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ then beats his fellow slaves and devours the best of his master’s lambs and drunkenly imbibes the best vintage from the wine cellar, saying I will clean this up before the Master returns. The Master will return on a day when he least expects it, and at an hour he does not know and, in his anger, cut him to pieces on the spot!
In those days, some will say: ‘Behold, there is the Messiah!’ Do not believe them! False Messiahs will arise like a swarm of locusts, showing great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, even the elect! Do not believe when they say, ‘He is in the wilderness!’ do not go forth for he is not there! When they say ‘Behold! He is in the inner sanctum!’ - do not believe them!
Listen to my words if you have ears to hear! Now is the time to turn from wallowing in the pleasures of life and make your peace with God! When a man dwells foremost on the pleasures of the senses, attraction for them arises in him. From attraction arises desire, the lust of possession, and this leads to passion, to anger.
From passion comes confusion of mind, then loss of remembrance, the forgetting of your duty to the Power Above. From this loss comes the ruin of reason, and the ruin of reason leads man to destruction.
We see holy men whose sacrifice is an offering to the gods; but others, unseen, offer as a sacrifice their own soul in the fire of the God. These others through the practice of abstinence offer their life into Life. They know what is sacrifice, and through sacrifice purify their sins. With the same evenness of love they behold a Rabbi who is learned and holy, or a cow, or a camel, or a dog, or even a man who eats a dog.
If you are able, consecrate all your work to God. By merely doing actions in God’s service you can attain perfection. If you are unable to do even this, then take refuge in devotion to God and surrender to him the fruit of your work - with the selfless devotion of a humble heart.
Be one whose love is the same for his enemies or his friends, whose soul is the same in honour or disgrace. Do not envy the kings and the rulers of this land. They are bound by hundreds of vain hopes. Anger and lust are their refuge; and they strive by unjust means to amass wealth for their own cravings to fill the void where their god had been. Thus they comfort themselves with hollow words:
‘I have gained this and that today, and I will attain this wish and that desire. This wealth is mine, and that will also be mine. I have slain that enemy to fulfill my lust and also my brothers I will slay.’
They say: ‘I am a lord, I enjoy life, I am successful, powerful and happy. I am wealthy and of noble birth! Who else is there like me? I shall pay for religious rituals, I shall make benefactions, I shall enjoy myself!’ Thus they say in the darkness of delusion.
Led astray by many wrong thoughts, entangled in the net of delusion, enchained to the pleasures of their cravings, they fall down into a foul hell. In their haughtiness of their vainglory, drunk with the pride of their wealth, they offer their sacrifices for the sake of ostentation, not for the glory of God! In their chains of selfishness and arrogance, of violence and lust, these malignant men hate God: they hate God in themselves and in others, and are driven to excesses of abomination!
“In the vast cycles of Life and Death God inexorably hurls them down to destruction. These are the lowest of men, cruel and evil, whose soul is hate. They come not to God; but stumble down the path to the gutters of the Kedron.’
There are three gates to this hell, this death of the soul: The three are the gate of lust, of wrath, and the gate of greed. You must shun all three. Do not only close the three doors, but tear down the very doorposts! Only when you are free from the three doors of darkness, can you do what is good for the soul, and then walk the Way of The Sons of Light.
Know the man who rejects the words of the Scriptures and follows the impulse of his desire attains neither perfection, nor joy, nor the Path of Righteousness. Let the Scriptures be therefore your authority as to what is right and what is wrong. Your heart already knows the meaning of the words of the Scriptures and you must perform the work that should be done in this life.
Men of light worship the god of light; men of fire worship the gods of power and wealth; men of darkness worship ghosts and spirits of the night. When you worship the Lord, worship with Love and nothing else within your heart or mind.
A sacrifice is pure when it is an offering of adoration in harmony with the holy law, not with expectation of a reward or with the resentment of a heavy heart saying ‘It is my duty’. A sacrifice done for the sake of a reward, or for the sake of vainglory is the impure sacrifice of kings. A sacrifice done against the holy law, without faith or sacred words, and the gifts of food, and the due offering, is a sacrifice of darkness. The sacrifice for false austerity, for the sake of reputation, for honour and reverence- this sacrifice is impure. It belongs to the Emperor and is unstable and uncertain!
A gift is pure only when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when you expect nothing in return. When selfishness, violence and pride are gone, when lust, anger and greediness are no more, when you are free from the thought ‘This is mine’- Then! When you offer your Soul to the Father in Heaven- then, you have risen above the mountain of the highest. Only then are you worthy to be One with God.”
A rippled of laughter echoed in the proticos, and Yeshua turned to the irreverent poses of the money changers loitering in the entrance, waiting to charge those who entered the Temple.
“What is this?” cried Yeshua, “Is it not written, ‘My House shall be called a house of prayer for all the Nations.’? But now it is nothing but a den of thieves!”
With a sudden rush Yeshua tipped the moneychanger’s table over. The merchant scrambled after his spilled coins, cringing from fear of a blow from this mad Galilean. “You have blighted the House of God!” shouted Yeshua.
He tipped another table, scattering coins and spilling cages of doves onto the ground. He gripped the nearest cage and opened it, releasing the doves within. He was instantly surrounded by a flurry of flapping wings and feathers. The doves rose quickly above him and winged their way to freedom through the porticoes. A gasp came from the crowd around him and cries of delight from several children.
Yeshua was suddenly grabbed from behind. He was lifted from his feet wrapped in the massive arms of Shimeon.
“Enough, Rabbi!” growled Shimeon. “We are outnumbered!” Temple guards had begun to move towards them. His brother Shimeon and Yehudi the Issacarite moved in to flank Yeshua, and the guards cautiously slowed their advance, not wanting to face such a daunting group. They could easily separate a single crazed messiah from the multitudes and hustle him from the temple, but were reluctant to risk an escalated armed confrontation with an unknown number of mad Galileans.
Yeshua calmed down. “I’m alright!” he said impatiently, and Shimeon let him down, and they made good their escape, leaving the Temple portico in shambles eliciting dismay and anger from those who benefited from the temporal transactions of the temple and the delight of those who felt it’s tyranny. But no matter what their reaction, all there agreed, the Galilean, divinely inspired, or maddened by demonic possession, might well be the Messiah.
Yohanna presented a gorgeous gown for Miri, and the women of the neighbourhood, once they heard of the wedding, insisted upon presenting the bride with presents and added to her wardrobe. The house had become a madhouse of activity, and though the Tradition called for not sharing the celebrations of Pesach with marriage, the one amplified the other, and from time to time, Miri thought her heart would burst. Even Sister Miriam was drawn from her dark moods, and Yohanna found her a magnificent dress of orange saffron, and such was the effect with her dark hair and pale white skin, everyone decided they too would find clothes to match. Martha chose yellow, and when the clothes were thrown together, they resembled giant field flowers.
In the following days, Miri had little time with Yeshua, and the traditional celebrations kept them apart. Two days before the wedding, Mother Mary arrived, and such was her presence, the celebration sobered as she entered the courtyard. She made a bee line for Miri and reaching her, said quietly, “I would speak with you!” and as if by magic the others melted away, and the two walked until they stood beneath the shade of two date palms in the southern end of the yard. The seat there was sticky, and Miri opened a reed mat to place over it, and they sat together.
“There are those who think that I am a dragon!” said Mother Mary imperiously, “But I will tell you now, I am a paper dragon!” She removed the blue shawl from her head and removed her white veil. “There are those that call me the Virgin Mary, for they think I am not a real woman!”
“I am sure that..” began Miri, but Mother Mary held her hand up for silence. The wrinkles upon her forehead smoothed and she placed two fingers to Miri’s lips.
“I am giving you my blessing!” she whispered. “Yeshua needs a woman to watch over him, and I can no longer protect him! You are not the woman I would have chosen, but you are the one he has chosen! I have many flaws, but I love Yeshua and his brothers and sisters dearly! I ask that you watch over him, as I would watch over him! Will you do that for me?”
“I will!” whispered Miri, and her voice was caught inside her throat, her heart stuck there, her stomach tied up, and tears flowed from her eyes.
Mother Miri brushed a single tear from Miri’s cheek, and placed the single drop upon her own tongue.
“From this point on, your tears are my tears!”
The moment lasted only a heartbeat.
Mother Mary became her old self, stood up, and asked “So where is Yeshua?”
Yeshua slid a joint and tenon together and smiled in satisfaction as the two pieces locked together. The bed was almost complete. The frame was standing firm, and he had to string the ropes to hold the mattress.
Mother Mary sat watching him.
“So your mind is set?” she asked him.
He shook his head. “You think I would change my mind?”
“I’m just asking!” Mother Mary said in annoyance, “Can’t a mother ask her son a simple question? Maybe I am just thinking out loud!”
“Think ahead!” said Yeshua, eyeing a new piece of wood. He took the plane and smoothed the wood.
“You have new responsibilities, Yeshua!” she said, and he continued to work at the wood without replying.
“With a wife, you must think about your future!”
“My future?” Yeshua stopped his work for a moment and frowned at his mother. “What about my future?”
“There’s children!” she said.
Yeshua shook his head. “I am not married yet, and you’re speaking of children?”
“Why else would you marry?” retorted Mother Mary, “The whole idea of marriage is to have children!”
“There are other consideration!” said Yeshua.
“So you say, mister smartboy! But nothing else matters but your children!”
“I have no children yet!” said Yeshua testily.
He went back to shaving the wood.
“Yeshua!” pleaded Mother Mary, “May God strike me down for saying this, but you have found a good woman! She may not be the best daughter I could wish for, but for Heaven’s Sake marry her! Settle down and have children!”
Yeshua said nothing. His mother had a way causing him to feel resentment and the feeling bothered him greatly. How could he teach a Path of Loving Kindness when he could not even apply it to his own mother?
“You think about it!” commanded Mother Mary, “You’ll change your tune once they arrive! You’re a good carpenter! You can work anywhere you go!”
“You think that’s all I am?” asked Yeshua, “A carpenter from Galilee?”
“What else?” retorted Mother Mary, “You think you’re the Messiah? You think maybe God will come down from Heaven and say, ‘Yeshua, this is your lucky day! You’re going to be the Messiah! It’s your job now! Working for God! Good wages! Never mind the worry! God’s going take care of you!’”
“Yes, I do!” said Yeshua impatiently, and stopped, knowing he should have kept his temper from opening his mouth. There was a long silence.
“So, lucky for you, your new wife is so rich!”