“I have lost a lamb,” said Eliazar despondently, as he tied the gate closed on the sheepfold. He stared with hurt eyes at Miri. “I think she must have wandered away from the flock in the high pasture. I have to go back!”
“First you must meet my new friends, Eli!” said Miri.
“I cannot stay long!” protested Eli.
“Come, just say hello and then excuse yourself!”
“Very well!” replied Eli resignedly. He could never refuse his cousin.
“You’ll like them!”
Arm in arm, Eli and Miri walked across the courtyard and into the tent and were enveloped by the excited chatter within.
As they entered, Rebecca was cajoling Yeshua to eat, but he answered, “I am not hungry!”
“Has he eaten already?” Yusef asked the others.
“Of course not,” teased Rebecca. “He’s in love.” Yeshua was embarrassed by his sister’s taunt, and his expression deepened as Miri entered the room. Miri introduced Eli to Yusef, Rebecca, Judith and Yeshua, and the great babble increased, and did not diminish for some time. Yeshua did not eat, and after the others had had their fill, he excused himself from the table, and stepped outside. Miri thought briefly about following him, but she had promised both Yohanna and Martha she would clear the table, and the dishes and cutlery as well as prepare bedrolls for the guests.
After supper, Sister Miriam slid unnoticed from the table, and slipped carefully outside. She walked to the edge of the family campground and found Yeshua staring up at the waxing moon as he sat upon a low stone wall. He spoke without turning, “You are curious about the stranger in your midst, Sister Miriam?”
“How did you know it was me?” Sister Miriam asked in surprise.
“You told me,” he said as he turned his face toward her. “The way that you pass through the Universe affects each and every fibre about you. You create a ripple in the power of the All. The power is everywhere. Within the rocks. Within the trees. The power of the All causes the winds to blow and the rivers to flow; and if you listen to the trees and the babbling of the brook, you will hear the Power speak. And your movement through the All is in the voices of the trees, the song of the breeze, and the stones beneath your feet.”
“Could you teach me to do that?” Sister Miriam asked hopefully. “Could I see God?”
“I have read the scriptures,” Miriam said eagerly, “I study the words of Moses. I know the books by heart!” said Sister Miriam
Yeshua touched her cheek. “If the words of the Lord were in a book, then your eyes must look through the opened parchment to see their true meaning. If the words of the Lord were read from that book, then your ears must hear the thoughts behind the words to know their true meaning. To understand the will of God, you must look beneath the surface of the stones and the under the bark of the trees.’
“Are you a magician?” asked Sister Miriam nonplussed.
“A conjurer?’ Yeshua smiled, realizing the words he had spoken had not sunk in. “The Power of God speaks to those who serve.”
“I don’t know,” answered Yeshua. “I-”
Eli backed into the courtyard, waving goodbye to the people inside the tent, “No, no! I’ll be alright! I will return soon!”
He turned, and spying Sister Miriam and Yeshua sitting on the wall, held his hand out to Yeshua.
“Yeshua! I am sorry I cannot offer my fullest hospitality to you, but I must return to the pasture! I have lost a lamb!”
“Do not concern yourself about my welfare, Eliazar!” replied Yeshua, “I shall never be able to repay the kindness your family has shown me!”
“Tomorrow, I will make it up to you!” promised Eli, as he walked backwards towards the hills. “I promise!” he shouted, and disappeared into the quickening twilight.
Yeshua smiled at Sister Miriam and they started at a frantic rustling at the doorway. Miri, a basket in her arm, spied Sister Miriam and Yeshua.
“Have you seen Eli?” she asked.
“He left!” said Sister Miriam.
“I packed him a lunch and he promised to take it with him!” Miri said. “He is so stubborn!”
“I’m sorry, I’m interrupting,” she said suddenly sensing that Sister Miriam and Yeshauh were in the middle of a discussion.
“Oh no!” protested Sister Miriam, “Yeshua and I were just talking!”
“I am interrupting!” she said again. “You must forgive me, but I must take some supper to Eliazar.” She lifted the basket to show Yeshua. “He cannot go back to the pastures to find the lamb he lost without eating!”
“He has taken the high path into the hills,” said Sister Miriam.
“It is dark,” said Yeshua, “I shall go with you.”
“Me too!” piped in Sister Miriam.
“No, Miriam, you must stay here!” Martha appeared in the doorway, annoyed that Miri had once again slipped away from her household chores. “Yohanna and I will need you to finish your Aunt Miriam’s work!”
“That’s not fair!” declared Sister Miriam.
“Now, Miriam!” commanded Martha.
“But-” protested Sister Miriam.
“Miriam,” said Yeshua and touched her cheek, and placed a reassuring hand upon her shoulder. “When I return we shall talk.”
Reluctantly Sister Miriam acquiesced.
“It is very kind of you to go with me,” said Miri, slipping her hand into his arm. Yeshua and Miri set off in Eliazar’s footsteps. Sulkily, Sister Miriam watched them disappear; she resented the intrusion of Miri into her private moment with Yeshua. With an angry sigh, and Martha’s firm hand on her back, she entered the tent.
Alone, Miri and Yeshua walked arm in arm through the deserted streets of Sychar.
“Mount Gerizim,” Miriam said pointing to the dark mass of the sacred hill rising above the town. “Yusef told me you came this way to see it! The Israelites worshipped the true God of Moses on that mountain, but the high priests of Yerushalayim, the puppets of the King of Persia, declared that the name of the God of Moses was not El Shaddai, but Yahweh; then decreed that their Temple is the only place to worship their new God.”
There was an uncomfortable silence.
“You are a Samaritan then?” asked Yeshua.
“Some places touch the Soul more than others,” she said non-commitally, “We see what we want to see, not that which our eyes actually reveal to us.”
“Believe me, Miriam,” said Yeshua, “the time is coming soon no one will worship the Father either on Gerizim or on Zion. The Roman legions worship only the glitter of gold! The men from the West swear only by a sword of iron, and will squeeze the Soul from Israel until the very rocks bleed!”
Yeshua’s passion disturbed her. She decided to change the subject. “Yeshua, I must ask you about your dreams.”
“I am curious about yours as well, Miriam,” Yeshua said.
“Call me Miri,” said Miri, “If we share the same dream, you must call me Miri.”
“I have not much to say,” said Yeshua, “The dream is almost always the same, and I wake up soaked in sweat and consumed by fear.”
“How long have you had this dream?”
“Since I was a child. As long as I can remember!” He shivered at the memory.
“Tell me about it! Why does it fill your heart with fear?”
They were now beyond the walls of Sychar, beyond the flickering lamplight from the windows of the town. The path before them wound its crooked way toward the foot of Mount Gerizim, which grew larger, darker and more foreboding as they approached.
“I am sleeping,” began Yeshua, “I awake with a pain in my side. I reach down and feel a wound. I have been pierced by a lance. Or perhaps a sword. I look down. There is blood on my hands!’
“I open my eyes and look around me. I am in a garden. It is the most beautiful place you can imagine. All manner of plants grow there. Grains of the field grow wild, figs drip with honey. So many I cannot name them all, yet I know their names in a language I do not know. Most of all, I notice, everywhere are grapes, green and black. And in the centre- In the centre, there is a crystal pool!”
“There is an island,” continued Miri, “And on the island-”
“Is a tree,” Yeshua finished. “The most beautiful tree in the world. I walk toward it. I wade through the water. I have a chalice in my hand.”
Yeshua looked through the darkness at Miri’s face. “It was because of the grapes, I became a gardener.”
“You really are a gardener!” gasped Miri in surprise.
“Yes!” answered Yeshua. “It was because of the dream, I took vows as a Nazorite. I dedicated myself to God when I was young. I was also foolish in those years. I was apprenticed to my father, but there was no joy in working with him. No matter how much of myself I put into my work, he was never satisfied!”
A controlled anger had crept into Yeshua’s voice.
“He beat you,” said Miri.
There was a long silence.
“Yes.” Yeshua seemed relieved after he answered. “I have never told anyone.”
“Not even your brothers?” Miri asked in surprise.
“No,” replied Yeshua, “There was no need.’
Suddenly, Yeshua’s anger bubbled to the surface. “He beat us all! He beat my mother! Rebecca and Judith! Yusef and Yakob! He beat us all!” Yeshua’s body was tense and hard, his intestines wrapped tightly within his torso like a snake ready to strike. “Please, don’t mention this to the others. We have sworn not to reveal our dishonour to an outsider!”
“Yet you have,” replied Miri.
“Yes!” Yeshua stopped walking. He held both her hands in his. “Yes, I did! I have broken my vow to the others-”
“You cannot keep a secret like this, Yeshua. Until you face your father, and face the fear of your father, you can never hope to be One with anything! You will always confuse your Father in heaven with your father on earth!”
They walked walked silently beside each other. Slowly, she sensed him relax.
“You are right, Miriam. I’ve wrestled with angels and demons over my father Yusef. I wish I could forgive him for his sins, but it is not in my heart, nor did he ever repent of his deeds! I had thought that perhaps the trip to Yerushalayim to expiate his sins through sacrifice would allow me to let go of the pain he caused me and my brothers and sisters, but unfortunately, nothing changed.”
Yeshua sighed. “I have no faith in the priests and scribes in the Temple. The lamb we presented to them, the best of the flock. The priest claimed our lamb was blemished, which was a lie! He offered to have one of the temple merchants sell us an unblemished animal!” Neither I nor Yusef believed him, but the priest insisted we take the other lamb. He then advised us the unblemished first-born animal was more than the regular price for a lamb as they were less abundant. As it turned out, the lamb we purchased had already been brought as a sacrifice by an Issacharim shepherd!”
“How do you know that?” asked Miri.
“We travelled through the Jordan valley with the man. It was Yusef who recognized the lamb as the same one. It had a blemish. On the journey with the Issacharite, the lamb received a small cut on its left forelock when it stumbled on the grass verge alongside the road from Jericho. That cut was on the animal the Levite presented to us.”
“Then they switched the lamb with another for the sacrifice for the Issacharite!”
“Apparently! We did not see him again! But when the lamb was sacrificed, we could not get near enough to the altar to see if the lamb we had paid for was the one offered with our prayers! And the priests performing the rites intoned the prayers without heart; there was no passion in their supplications! It was not the Father in Heaven who they honour with their sacrifice, nor a proper appeal for my father’s sins. Our sacrifices were wasted in that place. People bowed with years of hard labour hand their life savings to the Levites in exchange for sacrifice from the priests. The High Priest lives in a palace that rivals the Idumean tyrant. I thought I might find the God of Love there in his house, but I saw only Greed and Avarice. It was there I decided to come to Mount Gerizim.”
“Do you expect to find God on this mountain?”
“You are making light of my quest?”
Miri patted Yeshua’s arm. “No! No, I have an irrepressible sense of humour, Yeshua! You will get used to it!”
He smiled at her. “I am sometimes a little more solemn than I should be.”
“You cannot carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, Yeshua. You are not responsible for others’ sins. You need to escape from the cares and worries of everyday life. It is the only way that you can find the spiritual path. When pressures of the Living keep your attention, the Way is closed to the Everlasting Power.”
“I have never spoken of such matters with a woman before.”
“I hope, for the both of us, that it is not your last!” said Miri.
“I am sure it is not!” declared Yeshua, his mood lifting.
They walked on in silence. Finally, Miri stopped beside a low stone wall. “Here!” she whispered, “This is the way to the high pasture!”
They scaled the wall easily, and then ascended a slope on the side of Mount Gerizim that became steeper as they climbed. Miri called out for Eli as they climbed, but the wind picked up and carried her voice away swiftly and no answer came forth. She began to be concerned.
“I don’t understand it!” she said as the wind tugged at her robe, “He should be able to hear us from here. He must have climbed the cliffs! He should not be up there at night! It is too dangerous!”
Yeshua was about to answer when he felt a strange prickling feeling on his skin. Miri felt it too, and stared down at her bare arms. All the hairs on her arms stood straight out from her skin and her scalp tingled. Almost immediately, a flash of lightning crackled down from the night sky and struck a small bush a few feet from them and thunder shook the ground beneath their feet. Instinctively, Yeshua grabbed Miri and pulled her down to the ground beside him. Wrapped in fear in each other's arms, they stared in amazement as the bush immediately burst into flame.
“There is a cave near here!” said Miri, standing up quickly. “Come!” she whispered as she offered her hand to Yeshua. Another bolt of lightning crackled loudly over their heads, and they ran for the feet of the cliff face above them. Suddenly the sky opened up and rain fell heavily from the sky. They scrambled and slithered across the pasture through the deluge and finally reached a small cave in the cliff. They slipped into the narrow cleft. The cleft widened into a cave as they slid deeper into the mountain.
Miri dropped her basket. “Come,” she said to Yeshua. “Sit here!” she pulled him beside her, “When I was a girl, we often came here to escape the wrath of Ba’al Aliyan!”
“Who?” asked Yeshua.
“Aliyan, the Charioteer of the Clouds!” said Miri. “The Storm God!”
“You worship this Aliyan?”
“Yes.” said Miri firmly. “Once, I did. Are you offended by me?”
Yeshua was silent for a moment which to Miri seemed an eternity.
“I do not know!” he said finally.
“You are cold,” said Miri, stroking his shoulder.
“It is nothing!” replied Yeshua, but he did not pull away from her. She pressed up against him.
“Hold me!” she said.
His arm wrapped cautiously around her shoulder and finally closed against her arm, and she pressed in close to Yeshua. His grip became tighter, and Miri sighed contentedly. She pushed him down and they lay side by side. His other arm finally wrapped around her and she snuggled into the warmth of his chest. His grip tightened and their bodies pressed closer, drawn together tighter and tighter by an uncontrollable magnetic attraction. Though the storm raged uncontrolled about the mountain, the cave was warm, dry and exquisitely calm.
Yeshua stroked her hair in the darkness.
“You are a very beautiful woman,” he said softly, “I have never felt this way before!”
“Never?” asked Miri in surprise and delight.
“Never!” he whispered. He stroked her hair, then his thumb traced a light graceful path along the line of her jaw. She could not see him in the complete blackness of the cave, but she could feel the heat of his body, the touch of his skin against hers. Then, his lips caressed hers so lightly, she was not sure it had happened. He kissed her again, harder. Their lips and bodies fused in a slowly writhing, tingling, mass of flesh against flesh. Her mouth became his and his breath became hers.
Then the light filled their eyes. Yeshua lifted his eyes and saw Miri, strongest among the sisters of Ba’al, and the aura about her from the caress of the sun, her sister Shappash, both the fairest of the daughters of Asura. He was drawn to her and rose. He knelt at her feet and fell before her. He lifted his voice in rejoicing, “May you live, Sister, and may your days be prolonged for Eternity! Come to me, and I shall make love to you, Maid Miriam! Come to me and make love to me! Come to me, and we shall make love together!”
Miri lifted her eyes and saw standing before her a young bull. And he danced before her. She danced with him. She danced with the Bull Yeshua and became herself a young cow, the heifer, the Progenetrix of Nations, and they united.
The Bull Yeshua met the Heifer Miri and they embraced. He met her and grasped her vagina. She met him and grasped his testicles. The Rabboni Yeshua filled his phallus. He pushed deep into the vagina of the Maid Miriam. Deep into the vagina of the fairest of his sisters, the phallus of Yeshua rose and filled her with semen.
Rabbat Miri rejoiced, and cried in pleasure, “You Yeshua, are The God of gods! From this time forward, you are the first among men! Your name forever shall be Ba’al Adam!”
Ba’al Adam rejoiced.
Rabbat Miri rejoiced.
The Twins of Life, male and female, together rejoiced.
Ba’al Adam rejoiced, and cried in pleasure, “You Miriam, are The Goddess of goddesses! From this time forward, you are the first among women! Your name forever shall be Rabbat Eve!”
Ba’al Adam rejoiced.
Rabbat Eve rejoiced.
The Twins of Life, male and female, together rejoiced.
At the sound of their pleasure, the plants of the fields pushed their heads above the earth, the trees of the forest spread their leaves, the flowers bloomed on the mountain of Gerizim and Life returned in full force on the Earth, stronger than even that of the garden of Asura! The semen of Ba’al Adam filled the Earth, and brought Life even to the fallen Yatpan who ascended from the bowels of the Earth. And in the midst of Eden grew a tree more beautiful than all the others. The fruits were so perfect that to consume only one would bring immortality, a single bite all the knowledge of the world. Beneath this tree Miri and Yeshua, Adam and Eve, made love. Yatpan, the serpent who could not be charmed coiled around the roots of the huluppu tree and made his nest there. And The Dark Maid Lilith took on the form of an owl and made her home in the trunk of the tree.
And the maid who loved to laugh, wept with happiness.
O, how she wept!