A farmer from near the Arbel passed by Yeshua and his companions carrying a sack of barley, and came over to speak with him
“You are Yeshua?” he asked.
Yeshua looked up at the old farmer.
“I am!” replied Yeshua and the old man set himself down upon a discarded stone. A while ago, I spoke with you about my horse!”
Yeshua frowned. “I am sorry I don’t remember!” he said.
“That is of no importance,” declared the farmer, “I spoke with you about good and evil, and complained of my ailing horse! It was too weak even to pull the plough in the field, and I was thinking of selling it for food!”
“Ah yes!” replied Yeshua, “I remember! That was a few weeks back!”
“Then you remember what you had told me!” said the farmer brightly.
“God works in mysterious ways!” said Yeshua.
“Your words rang in my ears! They were very precise! You said ‘Bad luck or ill, it is the plate you have been handed!’”
“Well, I heeded the words and returned to my farm and the very next day, the sickly horse ran away to the hills! My neighbors said to me “Such bad luck!’
I remembered your words and replied, ‘Bad luck or ill, it is the plate I have been handed!’
And it made me feel better about my lot.
Well, a week later, the old horse returned, and brought with it two wild horses from the hills. And they were both hale and hearty. This time, my neighbors said to me ‘Such good luck!’
But I remembered your words and replied, ‘Bad luck or ill, it is the plate I have been handed!’ And it made me appreciate that what I had received.
Well, later, my only son was thrown to the ground trying to tame the stallion and broke his leg. This time, my neighbors said to me ‘Such bad luck!’
But I remembered your words and replied, ‘Bad luck or ill, it is the plate I have been handed!’ And it made me realize I had not been singled out for such a calamity by malice.
And this very week, the king's army marched into my village and conscripted every able-bodied young man living there. But my son, laid up with a broken leg was left alone! Your words saved his life, and you have blessed me!”
“It is not my doing,” replied Yeshua, “The Power acts through us all!”
“Well, indeed!” replied the farmer, “And more than you might know! You taught me that adversity may be good fortune in disguise. And I’ve learned from your words to allow a higher power beyond my ken to decide what is for my benefit or malfeasance. And today, I needed to come into Tarichae to trade some barley for some fish, though normally my son would do it for me, and I spied you upon the road! I know now that I am hear to tell you what I know!”
“And what is that?” asked Yeshua.
“Well, as I passed the customs house, there were two conscription agents talking of a Yeshua who gathered a following about, and that an agent had seen you by Tarichae, and that an army was marching hence from Sepphoris for your arrest! I thought that it was you they sought who had saved me from selling my horse, and it is indeed! You have only a few hours head start, but I have the sense they are not to return until they have you in custody!”
Immediately Yeshua, Miri and the others arose from their rest, and fled to the far side of Kinneret by three boats manned by brave fishermen hailed from the shores between Tarichae and Tiberias, and they fled along the far side of the Jordan south to Judea, for it was in the hands of the Romans, and the Kittim had no real power to discern friend or foe amongst the people there, not even by their accent.
Two days into the desert, the new moon rose in the east and opened up the darkness of the wilderness. Hyenas and jackals called from the shadows about them. They had fled with little to eat, and now, they sat about a small fire fueled by camel dung they had gathered from the roadside.
“What have we to eat?” asked Yeshua.
“We have nothing left!” said Shimeon.
“Save a few loaves of unleavened bread! So we shall eat!” said Miri, and slipped several thin pita loaves from her pack. She handed the bread to Yeshua, who broke a piece and passed the first flan to Shimeon on his right.
“It is very stale!” declared Shimeon. As the disciples chewed, the dryness of the desert and the bread made it hard to swallow and their attempts to consume the bread caused them to begin to laugh at each other. Miri found a stick and toasted some of the bread over the fire, and they ate the crispy pieces with a greater relish.
In a moment of calm, Yeshua became serious and stared deep into Miri’s eyes.
“Do you remember coming to me in the desert?” he asked.
‘It was a dream,” said Miri.
“But in the dream, you told me I had to act, and I have acted!”
Miri ruffled his hair.
“We are fugitives in our own land!” he said, “I cannot remain this way! We have to go to Yerushalayim! If we can make the priests listen, they will see I am no threat to them!”
“But you are!” whispered Miri, “You shake them to their foundations! When the Power spoke to Avrahim and gave him a ram to sacrifice instead of his own, was it not for the love of Yitzak? And the priests have taken that ritual and made it into a business that sells the skins to the Roman legions, the sacred blood as fertilizer for the farmers to sow upon their fields! Through your Word, the Will of the Power no longer requires that blood be shed for redemption. It is the opening of our own hearts to the Power that is the True Path. There is no need to speak through intermediaries, for the Power can hear us no matter wherein we dwell!”
“When they see you, they see a demon who would shatter their world, for if the people take their religion into their own hands, then everything they teach, everything they think, everything they do, has no meaning!”
“Do you not think they can change?” asked Yeshua.
Yeshua opened his arms. “Look about you!” he said, “Have these men changed? They are Galileans! If they can change their understanding of the Power, then who would not?”
“Your head is in the clouds!” said Miri.
“Now you sound like my mother!” replied Yeshua.
Miri pulled her shoulder away from him.
“I love you! And I have no wish to lose you!”
“Nor I you!” replied Yeshua. His hand stroked the nape of her neck and she shivered.
They closed together.
“It is not my will that moves me!” he whispered.
“I would wish that it was!” replied Miri.
For seven days, they remained in the desert and ate all the bread they had brought. Finally, they came upon the Jordan by the ford where Yahja had cleansed the Faithful. They were not known in those parts, and they camped by the river and fished, and gathered dates.
Yet even there, was a man who had heard Yeshua speak and he came running to him, and kneeled at his feet, and cried, “Holy Rabbi, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
Yeshua, tired from their flight, answered testily, “Why callest thou me holy? There is none Holy but the Power Above! You already know what you should do! Do you not know the commandments? Do not commit adultery. Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not lie!”
“Of course, Rabboni,” the man answered breathlessly, “Have I not observed these from my youth!”
Then Yeshua beholding the man’s honour and regretting his own annoyance at him, loved him for his Spirit, and said to him, “You mean well, but to gain that which you seek, you must go on your way, sell whatsoever you have, and give it all to the poor, and you then shall you find your place in Heaven!”
Immediately, the man was disheartened and became crestfallen, and departed from Yeshua greatly aggrieved, for he had great possessions, and they formed a millstone about his Soul. And Yeshua, saddened for him, for the young man was not inspired to follow the Path, said to the others, “How much harder for rich to enter into Heaven! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter through the Gates of Heaven!”
He stared straight into each disciple. “Who shall follow me now?”
And they all answered that they would follow him through the Gates of Gehenna.
And Peter claimed, “We have left all, to follow you here!”
And Yakov, his brother, asked, “I must follow you, Yeshua, for I promised Yahja I would! Grant that I may sit on thy right hand, and Yahn on thy left hand!” But the others all clamoured to sit upon the right, but he silenced them.
“I know that you all love me, but the seat to my right or my left hand is not mine to give, for I have no seat, nor place to call my own, but believe me when I tell you a place is prepared for you all!” But the argument had left some bitter, and all were displeased with Yakov and Yahn for starting the controversy.
“Be not so vexed at our brethren,” admonished Yeshua, “You know what the Power has shown you! It is not that one should be lord over the other, nor for one to be subservient. The greatest amongst you will also serve you all. And whoever serves the rest, shall be above all. Know that even the Son of Man came not to be ministered by others, but to minister to them, and to give his life for many!”
He wrapped an arm around Miri, and kissed her upon the cheek.
“This is the woman that I love the most, and today we shall travel to Yerushalayim for it is there that we shall marry!”
And they rejoiced for Yakov and some of the others did not consider it natural for a man to have no wife, or for a woman to be unmarried, and that Miri and Yeshua should be touching and kissing while betrothed bothered many. But it was not for the others that Yeshua announced his marriage, it was for Miri for who he harboured greater love than he thought possible. She blushed at the attention and the rounds of congratulations, and felt as she had not felt since she was a child. Her happiness washed away all her cares and woes. And so they came to Yericho, laughing and rejoicing.
A beggar sat on the side of the highway on the edge of the town, the blind Bartimaeus son of Timaeus. And when he heard them appraoch, he cried out, “Yeshua, Son of David! Have mercy on me!” They charged him that he should hold his peace, but he just cried the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me.!” And a crowd gathered about them.
And Yeshua stood still, and called to him. Bartimaeus, casting off his robe, rose, and walked unaided to Yeshua, and Yeshua asked him, “What will you Have me do?”
The blind man replied, “Bless me Son of David, that I might receive my sight!”
And Yeshua laid his hands upon Bartimaeus and said, “Go on your way! Your faith will make you whole!”
And immediately he received his sight, and from that day followed Yeshua in the Way. They stayed with Bartimaeus that night and laid plans to lodge with Eli, Martha and Sister Miriam in Bethany. The next day was the Shabbat HaChodesh.
They attended the synagogue that day, but Yeshua was no known to any there, and he was tired from their journey from Galilee, and none asked him to speak. The disciples all marveled at the ceiling at the synagogue, and they retuned to the house of Bartimaeus. There, the scene was becoming unmanageable, for his neighbours all came to see that his sight had returned and to gawk at the prophet who had cured him. Miri sought out the mother of Yohannes, and when she hear that Miri and Yeshua were in Yericoh she insisted they take lodgings with her.
She was excited by the marriage but clucked her tongue that they were marrying so close to Pesach. Still, a marriage is a marriage, and she wholeheartedly praised Yeshua’s mother. Not for any reason, but a mother is a mother. The party relaxed in Yericho and some decided that they should visit the Hiljah Ford and pray for Yahja.
Yakov, though, insisted that he and Yahn must return to the Kinneret and bring Mother Mary down for the wedding. They debated the advisability of his return, for Herod’s spies would be watching, but he insisted, and his opinion prevailed. Shimeon reluctantly decided he should return as well, as Sarai would never forgive him if he did not bring her down for the wedding. They agreed that with Pesach approaching, they would not attract much attention on the road, and Yakov, and Yahn and Shimeon Kefar departed immediately.
Miri decided she should go immediately to Bethany to make wedding plans, and Yeshua accompanied her on the journey to Bethany. As they entered the town, they covered their faces with talith scarves, so that their faces could not be easily seen. There they found the colt tethered to the tree as Eli had planned and they marveled that the colt was there. But no one challenged them, and they thought it best to return it to its place and Yeshua, for he was unknown to the people of Bethany, walked to the House of Eleazar and knocked while Miri waited across the street.
There was no answer.
He knocked again.
Still no one answered.
A third knock.
Something was wrong, and Miri sensed it from her lookout at the end of the street, and she hurried over. Before she could reach the gate, it opened and Sister Miriam, pale and disheveled, answered the door.
“You are too late!” she said, “We are sitting Shiva!”
“Shiva!” cried Miri, “For whom?”
“For Eleazar!” replied Sister Miriam, “We placed him in the tomb the day before the Sabbath!”
Miri cried out in anguish, and Yeshua held her so she would not collapse.
“Take us to him!” he commanded.
Sister Miriam thought to protest, but such was the force of his words that she threw on her claock and led them straightaway to the tombs on the Mount of Olives. They picked their way through the cemetery, and Sister Miriam led them to a tomb. A large round stone was rolled over the entrance and Yeshua, heaved on the stone.
“It is no use!” said Sister Miriam, “It takes two large men to move it!”
“Nonsense!” said Yeshua, “Give me a hand!” And Miri and Sister Miriam put their shoulders to the rock and it rolled aside. Immediately Yeshua entered the tomb and Miri and Sister Miriam followed quickly on his heels. There, wrapped in funeral gauze was the body of Eleazar.
“Unwrap him!” ordered Yeshua, but the women hesitated and Yeshua pulled at the bandages. He was pulling without artifice, and Miri stepped in for she had unwrapped the bodies of the children at her estate, and understood the bindings. And as she unwrapped the linen cloth, she became excited for she could sense that there was still a presence within the body! The spirit of Eleazar remained within it!
“Help me!” she cried to Sister Miriam, “He is still alive!”
Sister Miriam backed away in horror instead of helping, “No, that cannot be!” she whispered and gnawed on her hand, so afraid has she become. Yeshua and Miri plucked away the wrappings, until Eleazar was naked before them, and though his skin was pale, it was not blue nor tinged with green. Miri turned him over, and the blood had not pooled in his back.
“He’s alive!” she cried excitedly, and began rubbing his limbs to warm them. Yeshua leaned over Eli and pressed his mouth to his lips and blew his own breath into the sleeping form. Eli’s chest rose, and Miri lifted him a little and tilted his head back as she has seen in the parchment of the opening of the mouth, during her stay in Philae.
“How do you know this?” asked Miri in wonder at Yeshua.
“You heart is open to me!” he said simply, “And through it, I see your Soul, and through that, I know everything you know!”
“Oh dear God!” screamed Sister Miriam, for Eli’s hand had arisen on its own, and the fingers, still bandaged, uncurled.
Miri took over the breathing from Yeshua, and as she breathed into his lungs, her face next to his, his eyes snapped open, and she stared into his fear. She screamed involuntarily, and pulled back her head. Eli’s throat rattled terribly and he groaned as only one returning from the grave could groan. Sister Miriam screamed hysterically and incessantly, and Eleazar cried out in great pain. Both Miri and Yeshua held him tight so he wouldn’t fall from the marble slab.
Eli struggled to free himself from their grip and all four in the tomb were consumed for several moments in frantic panic, that took a great deal of one shouting to another to subside, but as they calmed, Eli asked in a voice barely controlled.
“Where am I?” he asked plaintively, and none would answer until they carried him out.
The road was crowded with pilgrims of all nations, and Yahn grumbled for they were walking against the flow of the traffic. “Be still!” commanded Yakov for the tenth time in the last mile. Yahn paid him no heed, for he was tired and wished he could have gone with the others to visit the baptismal site where Yahja had immersed so many. He was not alone in followers of Yahja that had changed their allegiance to Yeshua. He marveled how he had not seen the resemblance for so long, and was only now beginning to see how alike they were. It was more than family resemblance. It was as if the same Soul possessed both men, and he wondered if perhaps the Soul of the Baptist had passed into his brother. Yeshua did not suffer his role as the messiah gladly, but it was apparent that he changed the moment that Yahja had been murdered. He had heard of such things and that was what he had been trying to discuss with Yakov. However, Yakov was his usual Sturnine self, and brooked no conversation comparing Yahja and Yeshua. And Shimeon only grunted a response.
So Yahn was reduced to silence, and he fretted over it. Soldiers were stationed at intervals that left no squad out of sight of another along the road, and they bent their heads low as they passed by the checkpoints. But for the most part, the soldiers, all young men, paid more attention to the women that passed than the men, but Shimeon’s size always drew the curiosity of their baser instincts. Nonetheless, they had no trouble along the way. Still, they avoided Tiberias, and went over the hills to the west, and descended in familiar territory: the old estates of the Magdalene. As they cut through the grove, they noted that Miri’s house still had not been rebuilt, and the old watchtower, a few stones short and covered in graffiti, still stood over the Kinneret, and they drew comfort from it’s presence.
Below the house, they came to the Tree, and there, beneath its ever widening branches sat Susanna and standing before her, Benjamin. The girl was absorbed with her brother Benjamin, who followed her as though attached by a string. The people that saw them began to call him Tselem, because he had become her shadow. It was more than apt for the word also was used to describe a ghostly shade, a wraith from beyond the grave, and his silence and unresponsiveness reminded all within his sphere, he had not completely returned fully to the land of the living. But at the approach of Yakov and Yahn, both children jumped up and ran towards the brothers.
Susanna was excited by the news of the marriage, and by proxy, so was Benjamin. Yakov and Yahn headed to the House of Zebedee in search of Mother Mary, and Shimeon took Susanna and Benjamin with him to collect Sarai and his own children.
The moment Mother Mary heard the news, she immediately sent word to Judith and Thaddeus to come to Tarichae as soon as they could so that they could travel to Yericho and then to Yerushalayim together.
Rebecca and Yehudi had found a quiet pool near the ford in which to be alone, and by a great coincidence it was the very same pool in which Miri and Shimeon had swum, but their visit was more lascivious than their predecessors. As they lay in the sun beside the pool, their horses laying contentedly in the shallows, Rebecca traced her fingernails across Yehudis bare chest.
“Why did you come with us?” she asked.
“Other than to be with you?” asked Yeshudi.
“I think that Yeshua is the Messiah!”
“Really! What makes you ask?”
“He is so unlike the Messiah! How can you follow him? You’re a warrior! He preaches love and kindness!”
“I think he’s right!” replied Yehudi, “You cannot fight a war with the likes of Rome! It must be undermined like a watch tower! Their troops have armour that is unmatched anywhere! Their legions are trained and equipped with engines the likes of which the world has never seen! They fight with an efficiency that defeats all compassion, and they are angered only by their own failures.”
“Even with God on your side?” asked Rebecca playfully.
Yehudi was not in a playful mood. “A passive resistance is the one thing they don’t understand! I think that Yeshua knows more about that than he lets on! They cannot fight people who offer no resistance! They need to be motivated by their own sense of righteousness! They will invent transgressions for their enemies in order to go into battle. But if Yeshua can succeed in making Israel a mild mannered state, and consistently backs off from conflict. I think we might survide, or even thrive. If we fight we are doomed!”
“But you have aligned yourself with Simon and Nathaniel and their band of Zealots!” argued Rebecca, “How can you claim to be non-violent?”
“It is not the way!” said Yehudi, “We can only hit at them and run! We are a nuisance to them, and unless we can disarm them, we cannot win! I think Yeshua can disarm the Kittim!”
“On his own?” asked Rebecca.
“Of course not!” said Yehudi, “But his ideas will! There is Truth in his Word! Only by cooperation and helping each other will we achieve greatness! All else will fall short! Hatred only has the power to destroy! It is only through love for each other that we can reach for the stars!”
Rebecca laughed, “My goodness! I can’t believe you have changed that much!”
“Nor I,” said Yehudi, “I would never have thought it possible!”
Eleazar sipped at the stew, and frowned at the sea of faces watching him.
They looked away and he took another sip.
And all eyes turned on him again.
He sighed and put down the bowl.
“Why are you all staring at me?”
Yohanna reached out to stroke his hair. “How can you ever forgive us?” she asked.
“There is nothing to forgive!” replied Eli. “It was a mistake, but it’s over and I’m alright!”
“Praise the Lord!” declared Yusef. His heart was bursting with affection, for he had thought he had lost his grandson, and now Yeshua had returned him to them.
“You were dead!” declared Yusef. “I am certain of it! You were not breathing and your heart lay still!”
Eli stopped to consider Yusef’s words.
“Apparently not!” he said finally. “But I’m back! And now we must move on!”
“Indeed!” agreed Yusef, “But I am amazed nonetheless, and would consider it a favour if you would allow me to marvel at it!”
“Marvel away!” he grumbled and lifted the soup bowl back up to his lips.
“How can I ever thank you?” Asked Yusef.
“It is not me that you must thank!” Yeshua smiled. “But, now, whenever you pass the poor upon the pavement before the Temple, remember your grandson, and know that the Power would have children given the same care as he has provided Eli. He will see you watch over the poor as a greater gift than sacrificing a bullock on the Temple Mount!”
“I don’t know who is more mad! You or Miri!” he shook his head, “But you are right! It is the poor who should receive your alms, not the priests! God has already blessed them! But it is a debt I can never repay!” He hugged Eleazar, and though pleased by the embrace, grumbled he was spilling his soup.
The door opened and Yohanna ran to her son, and spilled his soup again. Chuza slipped in nervously behind her, but everyone greeted them. “So, what’s new with you?” Yohanna asked Miri.
“We want to get married!” replied Miri.
“Married?” asked Yohanna and stared at her sister in surprise, then after staring at each other she asked, “When?”
“Right away!” replied Miri.
“This week!” said Yeshua.
“Here?” asked Yohanna.
Chuza wrinkled his brow. “I am not sure here is a good idea,” he said, “I am sure the place would be watched.”
“Even now?” asked Miri in alarm.
Chuza shook his head. “Not by a direct agent, but word from the neighbours will filter back up through to Antipas. He will arrive tomorrow and will be staying in the palace, to receive Pilatus! He has decided he will treat Pilatus as a guest, rather than the Procurator of Judea! I think Herodias has influenced him to ask to be crowned king of all Israel and Judea by the Emperor! He is going to tell the Emperor that Phasaelis has enjoined her father to invade Galilee, and that they have seized Machaerus as a staging point!”
“Is that true?” asked Miri, her heart leaping beneath her ribs.
Chuza shrugged. “I would not believe it, but Haritar now can move freely between Rekkem and Damascus. It would be easy for the Nabateans to take Judea, for they have a port granted to them in Gaza by the Emperor. Romans have an insatiable appetite for silks and spices!”
“So, where can we have the wedding?” asked Miri.
“In Yerushalayim!” declared Yeshua, and everyone turned to face him.
“You can find a place in the city, and I shall come with the others, as a bridegroom! The Kittim have no idea as to our ways and rituals, and to then, we shall be as worshippers coming to worship at the Temple! We shall come in the open, not thieves in the night!”
“Where in the city?” asked Eleazar.
“Yohannes the Priest!” said Miri, “I am sure he will make room! If we have the reception on Erev Pesach, no one will really notice! It will be just another Paschal meal!”
“Of course!” exclaimed Yohanna, “He can tell others, he is hosting friends from Galilee! No one will question that! And I can visit him openly as well, and help him with the wedding arrangements!” She was clearly excited. “A wedding!” she exclaimed with a beaming smile.
“If all is well, I shall release the colt to your friends,” he said, “It is older now, and tamed, and can be ridden!”
Mother Mary was not pleased with her sons.
“You have all become outlaws!” she said as they led her toward Yericho, where they had arranged for accommodations with the mother of Yohannes.
“That was the Herod’s doing, not ours!” replied Yahn testily, “we have done nothing wrong!”
“You’ve joined a gang led by a Daughter of Asherah and convinced your brother Yeshua he is the Messiah! Now he’s leading you straight into the lair of the Idumean lion! You’ll all be killed! Not to mention, you’re dragging your mother into a nest of vipers for a wedding!”
“Woe betide the vipers!” sighed Yahn.
“I heard that!” said Mother Mary. “You think I’m deaf as well?”
“We could only wish!” said Yahn, and Judith, following behind with Thaddeus covered her mouth, so her snicker could not be heard. Susanna and Benjamin walked behind the others and ran back and forth collecting flowers to place in their basket. Sometimes they tarried long and the party had to stop and call them, but like tiny satellites for the most part they sometimes were ahead, sometimes to the side and behind.
“Is it true Miri will marry Yeshua?” asked Susanna.
Yavov smiled at her. He remarked that she had grown since he had last seen her, and she was now a charming and beautiful young woman. His heart broke that she would soon lose her innocence and have to deal with the world as a woman. Her spirit was so good and decent, and he wished that it not be crushed. But he knew that it would and it saddened him.
“You need not fear for me, Yakov,” she said softly. “Your heart will be broken as many hearts are broken! If it were not so, how could you be capable of love?”
Yakov snorted. “You’ve been talking with Yeshua!”
“Your ears have opened to his Word, as well,” said Susanna, “If he falls by the wayside, it is you that must carry the torch to light the world!”
“You know of my end?” he asked.
“I do!” said Susanna with great confidence, “But it is my secret, and you will know the moment when it arrives, and you will know that it must be so!”
“Is it soon?”
“Soon enough!” said Susanna, “But you have a few harvests in which to gather the Fruits of your Labour! You are a good man, Yakov, but too gruff! Your heart has not yet blossomed, but it shall!”
“Too gruff!” he said with a frown.
Susanna slipped her hand into his, and they walked in silence the rest of the day.
Miri went to the Pool of Siloam to meet with Matiyahu, the servant of Yohannes to ensure that all was well. She was more excited by her wedding than she had thought possible. He was not hard to spot as he was the only male hauling water from the pool, though when Miri arrived, he was not hauling water, but sitting with his jar upon the ground, surrounded by adoring women. Seeing Miri, his eyes lit up and the women who turned toward her at his glance, seemed annoyed by her presence.
“Matiyahu?” she asked, and his eyes lit up.
“I am!” he answered amiably, “But I am at a disadvantage!”
“I would prefer to keep my name,” replied Miri, “But I am thirsty!”
Matiyahu wrinkled his brow, his eyes clouded and he stared at her intently, then slowly lifted his water jar. “Then drink of my cup!” he said amiably and carried the jar down the steps to the water of Siloam Pool. The women about him parted and as Matiyahu lowered the jar on a rope into the cool waters of Siloam Poool.
“We cannot proceed!” said Matiyahu, not looking up, “Master Yohannes has received word from Caiaphas that he assist him over the Paschal Rites, and he has been assigned two acolytes who will stay at his house! His house is not safe!”
A tear formed in Miri’s eye for she was beginning to feel as though a rope was being tightened that would choke the days and squeeze off her chance to marry.
“I wanted to find a room to use for my wedding! Yeshua wants to hold it in Yerushalayim!”
“Fear not!” said Matiyahu, as he lifted his water jar to his shoulder, and held his hand out to Miri for her drinking cup. He had a smile that would turn a woman’s legs to butter. She gave him her small bronze drinking cup from her purse.
“You are most kind!”
He smiled and poured her a drink.
“You have a lot of admirers!” said Miri looking up at the curious female faces staring down at them.
Matiyahu smiled. “Well, they were somewhat taken aback by my carrying water,” he said as she finished her water. “But I told them that Salome was suffering from arthritis!”
“Is that true?” asked Miri, and handed the cup back, for the water of Siloam was clear from swelling. The water there rose and fell with distant rains, and the surges always brought cleaner water.
“Of course,” said Matiyahu, “she complains of her aches everyday, but she is still capable of performing her duties!”
Miri shook her head. “You seem very popular here!”
Matiyahu grinned. “For some reason, that I am a man performing Salome’s duties to ease her discomfort, they have opened their hearts to me! There is something that draws then to a man that is considerate!”
“Are you married?” asked Miri.
“I am!” said Matiyahu.
“And your wife does not mind such ministration from these women?”
“She is quite content!” said Matiyahu.
Matiyahu lifted the water jar to his shoulder. “She no longer has to carry the water! Meet me here tomorrow!”
A large crowd had gathered outside Eleazar's house, for all the neighbours had seen him dead, and word spread quickly about his resurrection, and the man from Galilee who had brought him back to Life. All about her, Miri could hear the word "Messiah!" on everyone's lips. It concerned her, and she pushed quickly through the jostling pilgrims, and slipped inside the courtyard of her Nephew. Sister Miriam was sullenly shelling peas in the courtyard. Martha was making her perform chores about the house because to Martha idle hands were a sin, and a single quiet moment needed to be filled with business. Miri slid beside her to help.
“I don’t need help!” said Sister Miriam.
“I know that!” replied Miri, picking up a pea pod. “I’m just here for company!”
“I know you want to help, but as soon as I am finished this task, she will give me another!”
Miri popped the peas into her mouth. “Then I shall shell slowly!”
“Don’t speak with your mouth full!” commanded Martha as she bustled past, carrying linens from the fuller’s.
“She acts like my mother!” hissed Sister Miriam, after Martha disappeared into the house.
“She means well!” said Miri.
“You’ve inherited Yeshua’s penchant for platitudes!” grumbled Sister Miriam.
“Oh Great Mother!” declared Miri with a laugh, “Heaven forbid!”
“You are really marrying him?”
Miri was suddenly filled with a giddy happiness. “I am!”
“You are so different!” commented Sister Miriam, “How will you get along?”
Miri smiled. “We have a great deal of Love!”
“That will not be enough!” commented Martha, passing by to retrieve her second load of laundry from the basket on her donkey.
“How does she do that?” asked Sister Miriam, staring after her sister.
“We each have our talents!” said Miri.
“Apparently I am the exception!” muttered Sister Miriam.
“Oh Miriam!” cried Miri, “You have your own Way! That doesn’t make you right or wrong!”
“But if I was alone, how would I live?” she wailed. “I only want to sit and read! What living could I make of that?”
“Can you write?” asked Miri.
“Of course!” retorted Sister Miriam indignantly, “How else could I read?”
“Then work as a scribe! Be a copyist!”
“It is men’s work!” said Miri, “I am forbidden to copy scrolls or touch the Books!”
“But I have seen your handwriting!” said Miriam, “It is beautiful! And flawless!”
“So, who would hire me?” asked Sister Miriam.
“Speak to your mother! I am sure Chuza needs someone to write for him!”
“It would be books! And Accounting!” complained Sister Miriam.
“But it is better than sweeping floors!” whispered Miri.
“Excellent!” said Martha appearing at their side. She handed a broom to Miri. “Thank you for offering!”
Miri took the broom and stared about the courtyard, and a sudden gust of wind raised the dust and leaves littering the area.
“How does she do that?” asked Sister Miriam awestruck, and Miri set about idly chasing the dancing leaves with her broom.