Yeshua did not emerge from the river named Jordan for longer than any man could hold his breath by his own will, but he did rise again, to the relief of his brothers Shimon and Yosy, as well as Yohanan and his disciples, who had scoured the river thinking he was drowning.
Yohanan peered closely to assure himself it really was Yeshua and not someone else who had dived into the water looking for him. He said, ‘God is gracious! I thought you had been swept away!’ But Yohanan wondered why the man did not seem to be distressed and gasping for air.
And Yeshua said to him, ‘Peace be with you, teacher. I am well.’ But no further explanation was given, which annoyed Yohanan. He let Yeshua return with his brothers to the crowd of hangers-on who watched from the bank of the Jordan. No one else came forward to be baptized.
It entered into Yohanan’s thoughts how this Yeshua might have made pretense of drowning to drive away the supplicants. He set Yudah of Kerioth to watch Yeshua and his brothers to see what more mischief they might do, and perhaps, when the crowds thinned, bid them to depart.
Standing apart from the crowd and the river was a man who was said to have an unclean spirit, who continually cried out in a tongue that others knew not. When Yeshua saw this man he was filled with compassion and drew near to him. The man said, ‘Have you come to destroy us?’
Briefly Yeshua was horrified to imagine the inner state of this man, that he would speak so. Yet the man had sufficient hope to seek out the baptism of Yohanan and the self-control to stand where he did. Yeshua knew the brain was an organ like any other, subject to ailments.
But fear born of ignorance led people to believe the man’s irrational shouts were the mark of possession by devils. Yeshua saw how all these things presented an opportunity. He said, ‘Hold your peace, and come out of him!’ Then he touched the man’s bare skin with his hands.
The effect was so swift it surprised even Yeshua. The poor fellow had sought baptism as a cure, but now at the touch of Yeshua he was no longer driven to make sudden unfiltered shouts. Yosy and Shimon were shocked. Onlookers said, ‘He commands unclean spirits and they obey!’
The cured man fell to his knees before Yeshua, but he was bid to rise again, and he was led to Yudah, who had been sent by Yohanan to watch over the three sons of Yosef. Yeshua said to him, ‘If you know you have sinned tell them to this disciple of Yohanan, and be baptized.’
Then Shimon and Yosy pressed near to ask their brother how he was now able to cast out devils. Yeshua said, ‘Only God has the power to do that, and anyone so gifted by God as he chooses. If you pledge not to reveal it, I will tell you the words I heard under the water.’
Yeshua’s brothers assured him they would remain silent so he said to them, ‘I saw a light when I was under the water. It was down, not up. Not just sunlight, you understand. Then I heard a voice say, ‘You are my beloved son and I am well pleased. Today I have begotten you.
Shimon seemed to leap backwards a step from instinct, fearful of the words that poured from the mouth of his brother. ‘It is well we have undertaken to be silent, Yeshi. If Hilfai heard you say that that he’d hand you over to the Pharisees for the forty stripes less one.’
But Yosef Jr. embraced his older brother on the principle that he had always loved and trusted him, and besides, he had just seen him cure a demoniac with a touch.
‘I will need your help, both of you,’ Yeshua said. ‘The harvest is bountiful, but the laborers are few.’
Like the man cured by Yeshua, some of the crowd suffered afflictions they believed were punishment for sin. But all Yohanan could do, after his disciples determined they were truly contrite, was baptize them and give assurance they were forgiven. He could not make them well.
But now when these unfortunate people came out of the Jordan River Yeshua laid his hands on them and they were indeed healed just as they hoped. Word spread. Soon Yohanan had people taking numbers to be dunked and when he passed the plate around it overflowed with shekels.
Now all that region was ruled by Antipatros, the son of Herod, who had ambitions to be king of all Judea, but it seemed good to the emperor Augustus to call him tetrarch. Nevertheless Rome was pleased with his administration of Galilee and also Perea across the Jordan River.
Jewish landowners and Levites who prospered by dipping into the river of taxes that flowed from the peasants to Rome all favored the rule of Herod Antipas, as he was called. As the fame of Yohanan grew some came out to see his baptism and the healings by his new disciple.
When Yohanan saw the Herodians he said to them, ‘You get of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?’
One of them said in reply, ‘Of a certainty the blameless under the law do nothing worthy of repentance. To what end would such as we come under condemnation?’
Yohanan replied, ‘It does not make a man good if he merely refrains from doing evil. Even now the axe is made sharp. Every tree which does not bear good fruit shall fall victim to the tree feller. Let he with two coats give to he with none, and he that has food do likewise.’
‘Save your admonitions for the foreign soldiers and the gentiles of Galilee,’ said the Herodian. ‘We are the children of the Covenant.’
Yohanan picked up two stones as though to cast missiles. ‘God is able of these stones to raise up the descendants he promised Abraham!’
The Herodians antagonizing Yohanan advanced as though to seize him, but they saw his disciples came to defend him, stout fellows all, and some of the crowd who had come to hear his preaching began to grow angry and pick up stones of their own. So they withdrew for a time.
The crowds who came to the baptism of Yohanan waxed greatly after word of Yeshua’s healings spread through Galilee. Yohanan’s disciple Andreia spoke to his brother Shimon, a boatman who caught fish on Lake Kinneret to be dried and preserved by salt in the city of Magdala.
Shimon listened to the things Andreia told him of Yeshua’s healings, and how the crowds coming to the banks of the Jordan grew ever larger. For a time Shimon left his boat in the hands of the men who worked under him that he might join his brother as a disciple of Yohanan.
Yohanan traveled with his retinue of eight disciples to the capital city of Tiberias newly built on Lake Kinneret, where he preached directly from the Code of Mo ‘If a man marries his brother’s wife he has dishonored his brother with impurity. They shall be childless.’
And Herod Antipas knew this Yohanan was deliberately antagonizing him, since he had married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, after she had divorced her husband. There was no provision in Jewish law for a woman to initiate a divorce. She had resorted to Roman law. Then Herod Antipas sent forth lackeys from among the Jews, the same who had come to the river two weeks before to confront Yohanan. Armed with clubs, they were ordered to seize Yohanan and mistreat any of his disciples who would attempt to thwart the arrest of their master.
Shimon, the brother of Andreia, moved to stand close to Yohanan, as he was a large and formidable man and zealous to prove himself as a new disciple, but he was waved off. Yohanan had made his point. The ones who claimed to be blameless under the law supported an adulterer.
Yohanan was bound with ropes as his disciples looked on. He seemed calm at first, but as he was taken closer to the palace of Herod Antipas he grew more anxious, as though expecting that something would happen to prevent it. Yeshua guessed he anticipated God would intervene.
Perhaps Yohanan’s four original disciples thought God would strike down the men who took him captive as well. They said nothing, and watched until Yohanan disappeared from view. Philippos turned to Yeshua to ask, ‘Will you heal the Teacher after Antipas has chastised him?’
Yeshua said, ‘Of all the prophets sent to the children of Israel, none is greater than Yohanan, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who was to come again. But of a truth I say to you, Philippos, that you shall not see your master again until the second life.’
Something about Yeshua’s words conveyed a deep sincerity that immediately convinced the disciples. Barthulumaus sobbed, Yudah pulled at his hair. Andreia said to his brother, ‘What do you think, Shimon? Shall we return to the nets and take up fishing again to buy our way?’
Yeshua said to Andreia and his brother, ‘Stay close to me, rather, and I will make you fishers of men.’ He turned toward the other discipes of Yohanan, and his own brothers Shimon and Yosy. ‘Your teacher baptized you with water but I will baptize you with the spirit of God.’
Shimon and Yosy were already willing to follow, but Yohanan’s disciples remained near the palace until sunset as Philippos held on to the hope that his master would simply be beaten and releaased. But it grew dark, and he asked of Yeshua dolefully, ‘Where shall we go now?’
‘I have silver,’ Yeshua told him. ‘We will dine and lodge in Tiberias tonight, and when it is light we will go south.’ And indeed Yeshua always had silver, though not even his close kinsmen Shimon and Yosy knew where he obtained it nor even where he kept it about his person.
Yeshua knew all the people around him, the very culture of the Roman world, was obsessed with scarcity. On a planet of inexhaustible riches humans beings faced bitter lack everywhere they turned, and they imagined God himself could dole out blessings only to a limited few.
The broken trust between people over needless scarcity was made manifest when Yeshua led his disciples through rocky fields and over fences of stones rather than walking the roads. When Yudah asked why, Yeshua replied, ‘Eight men on a road with no women look like bandits.’
Though Yeshua went cross-country there did not lack the lame to be made to walk, and the dumb to be made to speak, and the blind to be made to see. His fame reached Nazareth, the city of his family, before he reached there in two days from Tiberias, as Shabbat commenced.
In Nazareth Yeshua realized that even his sainted mother was immersed in the outlook of scarcity. She said, ‘Yosy told me you have changed, somehow. That you can heal with a touch. How could this come to be?’
‘Give all glory to the God of Israel, mother, as it should be.’
‘I have heard there is a spring in Emmaeus with warm water that comes out of the ground. Many people come there to be healed, and they pay money.’
‘They pay money to toll-taking gatekeepers, mother, but God made the spring. What right do the gatekeepers have to take money?’
‘Momma has a point,’ said Salome, who was Yeshua’s sister, but older by seven years. Several miscarriages and stillborn children separated him from her, and she was married to a man named Zvad’yah. Half a generation removed from her brothers, who saw her more as an aunt.
Salome said, ‘Shimon told me you’re wandering around the countryside healing the sick for whatever they can scrape up to give you. I think you would be better served to remain here with your family.’
‘Sister mine,’ said Yeshua, ‘you would only become a gatekeeper yourself.’
Yeshua drew near to her with a closed fist. When he opened it, silver coins fell into her lap to be caught by her robe, the plain disks issued by Herod Antipas with no images stamped thereon, so as not to offend Jews. There was far more money than could have fit in his fist.
He said, ‘Take no thought, beloved sister, for your life, nor for what you shall eat, nor what you shall wear. Life is so much more than food or raiment. Our God knows you have need of those things. Seek first his kingdom, and nothing shall hinder you from receiving them.’
‘The kingdom of God?’ asked Hifai. ‘And what do you imagine that makes you? His prince?’
Yeshua said nothing in reply immediately. Instead he went over to a shelf where Hilfai kept his scrolls of the prophets in clay pots and found the one containing the words of Isaiah.
Yeshua unspooled to a certain place and read aloud, ‘On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The desperate ones shall again find joy in Ha-Shem, the poorest rejoice in the Holy Redeemer of Israel.’
Yeshua gathered up the scroll and put it back in its place. His next words dropped into a silence that had followed. ‘I tell you this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing this night.’
And there was heard from Hilfai a gutteral moan, as he held his fist near his ear.
‘They tell me you can now heal the sick, Yeshua, but can you heal yourself? You suffer the same mind-sickness of this Yonanan you call your master. It makes you say the scriptures speak of yourself. It is a plague. Many have suffered the same, and they came to no good end.’
Shimon nearly called Hilfai ‘Clopas’ again, or ‘Replacement’, but his mother was there, and he remembered being baptized after vowing never again to do just that. Instead he said, ‘You haven’t seen what Yeshi can do!’ Though perhaps he had. Salome was still picking up coins.
‘I have no wish to see what Yeshua can do, if he leads you and all who follow him to be beaten with rods, or thrown into prison, or even stoned to death! How would your mother bear the news of it?’
‘That is enough, father, please,’ said Yakob. He turned to face Yeshua. ‘This kingdom of God that you speak of now confuses me,’ said Yakob to his step-brother in a voice as calm and measured as he could make it. ‘Tell me, Yeshua, is it really better than the rule of the Gentiles if it divides your own family this way in the very beginning?’
Yeshua replied, ‘How do you not discern this time? The kingdom of God, like any birth, comes with great pain. Henceforth a father shall be divided against his son, and a mother against her daughter, and a brother against his sister, until the rule of God is made manifest!’
‘Will you stay here as your mother and sister suggest?’
‘One location? Fixed lines of power? No, Yakob, that is precisely what will be overthrown by God. Every day shall begin anew, with people in direct contact with God through prayer and with each other through giving.’
Yakob said to him, ‘It is Shabbat. We will make room here and in the house of Zvad’yah for they who are traveling with you. But on the morning of the first day of the week you should go, as you have said.’
‘They are justified, brother, who call you Yakob the Righteous.’
Yeshua spoke true when he said families would be divided. Yakob would not join Yeshua, but his twin brother Yudah did. And the followers of Yeshua called him Teom, or ‘Twin’, to distinguish him from Yonanan’s Yudah, he who came from the town in southern Judea called Kerioth.
And the young sister of Yakob of Yudah, who was called Little Miriam now that she had a step-mother named Miriam as well, mourned that her brother was to leave. Yet he was not alone. The sons of Z’vad’yah and Salome, Yakob and Yohanan, chose to become disciples of Yeshua.
Yohanan was two years younger than Yosy, so he was the youngest of all those who became Yeshua’s disciples, and he lived the longest. To avoid confusion with the baptizer and with his stepbrother Yeshua surnamed his cousins Yohanan and Yakob Boanerges, or ‘Sons of Thunder’.
There was a sect called the Essenes built entirely around a single passage in the Book of Daniel that said, ‘With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know God will firmly resist him.’ Yohanan had been Essene, but broke with them.
The baptizer knew that once, just once, the Jewish people had overthrown the succession of masters who had dominated them since the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians. They defeated the corrupt Syro-Macedonian king and installed a king of their own every bit as corrupt.
To Yohanan the lesson from God was cl It served nothing to struggle against God’s enemies if the very nature of the conflict made you God’s enemy as well. So there was nothing to do but make oneself pure and wait for God himself to bring superior violence to his enemies.
Yeshua in turn had made a break from Yohanan, but he had not yet revealed this. With something of an inside track to the thoughts of Chokhmah he knew the one the Yehudim called Yahweh really had no human enemies and little desire to settle affairs in that rough neighborhood.
Yeshua saw how the Romans dominated society with the willing participation of the priesthood and the scribes, with the Temple as a kind of central clearing house for power, and he knew there was no possibility of overthrowing that system, or starting a revolution that would.
What Yeshua could do instead was teach anyone who listened to build a new kind of society from the ground up. To nullify the power of the priests and scribes and Pharisees to exclude, to cast out. There would always be a place where excluded ones could land on their feet.
He could never destroy the domination system, only expose the scapegoating mechanism that lay at the root. Yeshua knew it would cost his life in the process because those who relied on the flow of power and the markers that went with it would protect that flow at all costs.
But Yeshua could not bring himself to condemn anyone who was trapped in it, not the emperor in Rome, not the Tetrarch who had arrested Yohanan, and especially not the lowest component in the machine, a tax collector named Mattiyahu who had come to see him heal and teach.
Yeshua healed a ‘leper’ and ordered him to make a gift to the priest in the temple of God according to the Mosaic Law, but he was saddened by the case because the man only had psoriasis and was not infectious in any way, yet the priests have required him to live in solitude.
He told the crowd, ‘A man had two sons. He told one, ‘Go and work in the vineyard today.’ At first his son refused, but thought better of it and went. The man said the same to another son, who replied, ‘I will go, sir’ but he did not. Which of the two was the faithful son?
‘Likewise your Father in heaven told you the Children of Israel are to be a priestly people, a light to the Gentiles. But do you make the rule of God present with your active participation? No! You pay lip service, and wait for God to overthrow your occupiers with violence!’
Mattiyahu was moved by all that he saw Yeshua say and do. He drew near and said, ‘Teacher, I would that you and your disciples would recline at table in my house, for I would hear more.’ Yeshua accepted, but Barthulumawus said, ‘Master, this is a tax collector and a sinner!’ ‘Yeshua said in reply, ‘The taxes ultimately flow to Rome, Barthulumawus, and you fail to see how they deflect the anger of those who pay the taxes by directing it against our brothers who gather it for them. Nevertheless, it is not the righteous I am calling to repentance.’
As they dined in the house of Mattiyahu he asked, ‘Yeshua, what signs will we observe when God begins to rule all the nations of the Earth?’
He replied, ‘Men will not say of the Kingdom of God, ‘Here it comes!’ or ‘Look over there!’ because it will already exist among you.
But do not think the Kingdom of God changes the law. Every precept of Moshe shall stand for the duration of Earth itself. But God expects much more than performing the written obligations. He sees into your heart. Your interior righteousness must exceed that of the scribes.’
Hearing all these things, Matthiyahu begged to be numbered with Yeshua’s disciples. He replied, ‘You must abandon your work as a publican to follow me.’
‘Done,’ said Mattiyahu, and the objection of Barthulumawus over dining with a tax collector was answered quite neatly.
Then Yeshua led his disciples to Lake Kinneret that Mattiyahu might be baptized, and he asked Barthulumawus to do the honors. Yeshua seemed to watch Yohanan’s former disciple closely but Barthulumawus thought it to be unnecessary. He knew the meaning of the ritual cleansing.
And when Mattiyahu was come again out of the waters of the lake he was fully accepted by Barthulumawus and all of the disciples as one of their own. Then was seen in the eleventh hour the boat owned by Shimon the brother of Andreia bringing to shore the day’s catch of fish. With Yeshua and his disciples laboring in the final hour of the day, the fish was packed onto wagons to be driven to the city for salting and packing. Yeshua knew that much of the fish would never get that far, but would be lost to toll takers on the road and in the city.
Through the evening they went north across Lake Kinneret in what would become a potent symbol of Yeshua’s followers in centuries to come, the ‘Barque of Peter’. Seated the rudder, Shimon sailed to his home in Capernaum on a gentle wind, guided by lights he knew so well.
And Shimon’s wife Concordia, hearing that he drew near to the house, went out to greet him, but she was less happy than he would have liked. She said, ‘My mother has been stricken with a fever for three days.’ Then Shimon went in to see Perpetua, and Yeshua walked with him.
They saw Perpetual lying sick with fever, and Yeshua took her hand. Within a few moments she rose from the bed and her thoughts grew clear. Having laid in bed for three days she was keen to move about, so with Concordia she prepared a supper for Yeshua and his disciples.
Overnight the word of Yeshua’s deed spread throughout Capernaum, such that by first light the entire city, it seemed, was gathered outside of the house of Shimon. And four men with paralysis were borne toward the house on litters, but could not enter by reason of the crowd.
The men with palsy were lifted by ropes to the roof of adjoining houses and taken directly to the house of Shimon. A section of the roof overhead was removed as Yeshua looked up in wonder and amused satisfaction, permitting the stricken men to be lowered to the floor within.
There also appeared above the hole in the roof the faces of men Yeshua recognized from Tiberias, some of the same partisans who took Yohanan into custody on the orders of Herod Antipater. And Yeshua said to them, ‘Hail to you, O blameless ones. What have you come to see?’
One of them said, ‘We know Yohanan blasphemed God by telling those who came to him their sins were forgiven. We would see if his successor would persist in this blasphemy. Only God can forgive the sins of a man if he confesses them and makes sacrifice according to the Law.’
Yeshua gestured at the four men lying on cots before him, all of them mute and none of them able to make any movements beyond involuntary trembling. ‘Do you imagine these unfortunate men have come to this state through their own sins?’
‘We know it,’ replied the Herodian.
Yeshua said, ‘I tell you God has already forgiven these men.’
‘That is impossible,’ the Herodian replied. ‘They have made no confession of their sins and made no temple sacrifice.’
‘But their kinsmen have made intercession with God. Have you ever seen such hope and trust?’
The Herodian shouted down through the hole made in Shimon’s roof by the kinsmen of the afflicted ones, ‘The one who sins is the one who shall die!’
Yeshua said, ‘Ah, the prophet Yehezkel. Hear the words of the prophet Hosea in re ‘For I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’
Then Yeshua touched each of the men with palsy in turn, and soon their tremors ceased, and they were able to rise from the canvas of their own power, and the faces of the Herodians watching overhead were seen no more. But there remained many sick of Capernaum to be healed.
As he made them whole Yeshua recalled his words to Belial in Anshar, how he was to be a teacher and a healer. What was he to teach? Would people be willing to accept how the healing was done? Everyone in this culture imagined invisible spirits were everywhere they turned.
Yeshua knew people were cities of many trillions of things that were invisible simply because they were too small to see, each one occupied with the business of keeping itself alive, and, in harness, keeping the whole city alive. And they were made of even smaller things.
Yeshua’s body was saturated with tools that were basically giant compounds made of millions of atoms. They were replicated by other such tools, and it was these invisible tools which remedied the afflictions of the people he touched. There was nothing supernatural about it.
It would be easy to pass along the whole B’nei Elohim toolkit to each one of the afflicted persons he healed, including the replicators. But he had looked down the timeline and saw the Earth would fill up with healthy immortal human beings and history would essentially end.
Yeshua made an end of his deeds in Capernaum and moved south with all of his disciples along the shore of Lake Kinneret, but the crowds followed, coming from every quarter of Galilee. Yeshua said to them, ‘How fortunate are the poor. The kingdom of God will belong to you.
‘In the Kingdom of God the hungry will be sated, the weeping will laugh, peasants will inherit the land, and all those who have been reviled will receive recompense, for so did the priests and scribes and elders of the House of Yakob revile the prophets who came before you. Yeshua tried to control the growth of his fame by ordering the people he cured to tell no one, but they rarely obeyed. When he healed the male lover of a centurion who was paralyzed Philippos loudly protested, reminding Yeshua of the humiliation of Jews under the Roman boot.
Yeshua said, ‘To make the Kingdom of God present in this age, Philippos, love even the ones you think of as your enemies. Why would you be praised for loving only your friends and kinsmen? Even the Romans who dominate the lands once given to the House of Israel do as much.’
When Yeshua came to the city of Magdala on the lake a Gentile woman came before Yeshua and knelt low with her head bowed. The disciples saw that she was fair of hair and skin, like those who came from the mountains in the north of Italy, and she spoke in a strange tongue.
She said, ‘The B’nei Elohim greet you, Lord. By your leave, will my native language be sufficiently obscure that we may speak openly?’
‘It should be enough, Shyla, if you avoid Hebraisms such as ‘sons of God’. Already my brothers think you to be afflicted with devils.’
And indeed, Shimon and Yosy never knew their brother to speak anything but Aramaic, the Syrian tongue, or read Hebrew from scripture. They thought his words to the woman were commands to a demon. She rose to her feet, and they marveled how she was arrayed like a princess.
Shyla carried much more flesh than the women of Galilee, yet this made her even more beautiful. She could tell only Yeshua what Rome becomes after a thousand years, and how her appearance was typical of the women of that time. He said, ‘I will call you Miriam of Magdala.’
She said, ‘Say what is your pleasure, Lord.’
Yeshua answered, ‘I can see the forest, but you can see the trees. Become my twelfth disciple and tell me what you can see with your pinhole view of time.’
Miriam made her interior assent and a vision assembled within her mind.
She could not help laughing at what she saw. ‘Your boys will not like it much, Lord, not at first. Later they will think I’m your woman and treat me like their sister, but nothing really changes. In years to come ‘the disciple Yeshua loved’ will be applied to your cousin.’
The Herodians hated Yeshua when they saw how he and his disciples dined at the house of Miriam in Magdala, breaking down barriers between human beings and God, and breaking down barriers between human beings themselves. Their livelihood consisted of being paid interlocutors.
Taking no thought of the digestion of those who dined, they said to Yeshua, ‘Howbeit you call yourself a disciple of Yohanan, yet are found in the home of a loose woman, one not even of the holy people of God, eating and drinking with a man known to be a tax-collector?’
Yeshua turned to Mattiyahu and asked of him, in a perfect parody of confusion, ‘Levi, please help me, do you see anyone known to be a tax collector here?’
‘Not at all, Master,’ he replied. ‘I see only twelve full-time students who would learn the will of the God of Israel.’
Yeshua addressed the Herodians, ‘Yohanan was an ascetic and you said he had a devil. I share food and drink with my followers and you say, ‘Behold, a friend of sinners, one who gets drunk with harlots.’ The worst part is you assume an unmarried woman must be a prostitute.’ One of the Herodians said, ‘I think when you cast out devils you’re really doing it by the power of Beelzebub himself.’
Yeshua said, ‘That fever dream makes no sense at all. If Beelzebub gives me the power to destroy his kingdom, his kingdom is, in fact, being destroyed.’
The Herodian made one final go at Yeshua, saying, ‘Show us a sign that you have authority to baptize to forgive sins.’
Yeshua said, ‘God forgives sinners the moment they wish to make amends. The water itself is the sign. You seek a sign only to plug a hole in your belief.’
The Herodians murmured amongst themselves and departed, but Yeshua’s cousins accepted the terms defined by them. Yakob said, ‘Yeshi, which of us shall have greater authority in the age to come?’ Yeshua called a son of one of the B’nei Elohim in the safe house to draw near.
He said, ‘The teacher is not greater than his students, Yakob. If he teaches well, a teacher and all his students will be on a level. And if you do not conform to the will of God with the same unreserved acceptance as this child, you shall not recline at the Banquet of God.’
‘Now I will send ten of you out in five pairs to bring the baptism of repentance to the people. I cannot lead you all myself because twelve men and one woman arriving in a village together, while the men are working the fields, would be received with great suspicion, alas.’
‘Shimon, you and Yosy should go together and return home for a time, to let mother know we are well. As for Yakob and Yohanan, you should travel as another pair, I think, as I could hardly split apart my kinsmen. Teom and Mattiyahu, perhaps you could backtrack to Capernaum.’
‘As for Barthulumawus and Philippos, I would keep you together since you were disciples of Yohanan before I was ever baptized of him. But Andreia, I cannot keep you together with Rocky. You should go with Yudah, and I propose the west side of the lake, opposite from here.’
Yeshua had taken to calling the brother of Andreia ‘Rocky’ to avoid confusing him with his own brother, also named Shimon. He said the pairs should stay no more than two days in each place and accept only food and lodging in payment for baptizing and proclaiming the Kingdom.
‘For it is written in the Law,’ Yeshua told them, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.’ And the message the pairs of disciples were to bring to the people was freedom from desires, freedom from fear, freedom from anger, and even freedom from grief.
Yeshua said, ‘Who is the truly content man, the one who desires everything and cannot obtain all that he grasps for, or the one who wants only what he finds possible to obtain? The one who seeks the whole world, or the one who is happy with one small and peaceful household?’
For some the message is a bitter pill, because it is a profound affirmation of the imperative against covetousness and the peasants have next to nothing. But those who embrace Yeshua’s teaching to be content with what they own discover they are more free than any king.
As the ten disciples went out into Galilee Yeshua remained in the B’nei Elohim safe house in Magdala to both instruct Shimon and to be instructed in turn by Miriam. Then news came that Yohanan had been executed in Tiberias a few miles to the south. It had been a clean death. Yohanan had not been mistreated. Antipas liked to listen to him preach. But his wife Herodias could never forgive Yohanan and she maneuvered to have him beheaded. Miriam told Yeshua there were details that survived a thousand years later, but he would not hear them repeated.
Yeshua’s disciples reached so many towns in Galilee that when Antipas received word of them he feared Yohanan the baptizer had been raised from the dead. Others said Yeshua was Elijah returned from heaven. All agreed he was a major prophet on the order of Isaiah or Jeremiah.
For a year Yeshua and his followers wandered through Lower Galilee and Samaria on the west side of the Jordan river, and also visited Edom and Perea on the east side. Antipas ruled all of these lands, and the religious ‘authorities’ who favored him ever shadowed Yeshua.
Yeshua healed a man with a withered hand one Shabbat, and the Herodians said that was a day when no work should be done. Yeshua could hardly believe his ears. He said, ‘If your lamb falls in a hole on Shabbat, will you not fetch it out? This man is worth more than a lamb.’
The Herodians shambled away again, muttering among themselves as they always did, and Miriam said, ‘As I understand your purpose, Lord, none of this changes anything. The problem Herod Antipas had with Yohanan was being called out personally, which you have refused to do.’
‘No change at all?’
‘No, Lord. The Empire endures and even finds the lands far in the west, but it continues to be driven by muscle, and when coal and steam come the ones who prosper from slavery are too powerful. The Empire tears itself apart and the fall of it is great.’
Yeshua nodded. ‘My father and I have found that human history tends to settle into ruts, and one must be very clever to jump from one rut to another.’ Then Yeshua led his disciples into Judea to the south, leaving Herod Antipater and his partisans zealous for the Law behind.
And as Yeshua roamed the countryside making the sick whole, crowds began to grow again as they did in Galilee. He said to them, ‘What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it? It is like a single seed of mustard which a man took and threw into his garden.
The forgotten seed grew into the largest shrub in the man’s garden, and the birds of heaven came to nest in its branches. The Kingdom of God can be compared to a single pinch of leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it leavened the whole lump.
Many will seek the Kingdom of God, but few will enter. When the householder has locked the door and you begin to knock, saying, ‘Lord, open for us,’ he will answer, ‘I do not know you.’ And you will say, ‘Recall we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
And he will answer, ‘Why do you call me Lord when you never did what I told you to do? I tell you that many shall come from east and west to recline at the Banquet of God but you will be thrown outside of the heavenly gate, and there people will weep and gnash their teeth!’
Yeshua and his disciples began to dwell in Bethany at the house of Shimon, a leper who had been cleansed. And many people in and around Jerusalem started to see Yeshua heal and heard him teach for the first time, as prior to this he remained solely in the north country.
For his first visit to the temple Yeshua intended to preach from Jeremiah concerning how the temple had become a den of thieves. Not a place where thievery took place, but where thieves went to avoid the consequences of their theft. He was unprepared for the real situation.
Without sensing the irony, the Yehudim, alone among all the children of Israel, made a mandatory pilgrimage once a year to Jerusalem to offer sacrifice in what began as a harvest festival, but became a celebration of freedom from slavery, all while remaining slaves of Rome.
As this ‘celebration’ of liberty was required by the Code of Moshe, but few of the people of Judea were actually involved in raising the animals specified for slaughter, the situation was ripe to be abused, and so it was. The presence of soldiers even spoke of Roman graft.
Yeshua grew angered to see the outer court was a teeming marketplace. Animals acceptable for sacrifice were sold at a huge markup, and Roman coins were changed, again for a steep fee, into special ‘temple money’ conveniently acceptable to the priests for the temple tax.
Yeshua produced one of the silver disks that had been minted by Antipas, with no image whatsoever, but the moneychangers said even that was not acceptable. So Yeshua found some rope and began to prepare it as a whip, while telling his disciples to prepare to be bouncers.
Yeshua then ripped through the Court of the Gentiles with genuine wrath, flipping tables. He shouted, ‘The house of my Father is a place for worship and prayer, but you have turned it into a place to turn a profit!’ None of his disciples had ever seen him that way before.
Yudah of Kerioth could squint his eyes and the Yeshua who was whipping people in the temple courtyard before him almost looked like the one he thought he signed up to follow, the one foreseen by Yohanan to come after him who would settle all Jewish accounts with the Romans. Sadducees come down to confront this rabble-rouser, Yeshua, the one whom the Herodians had described in their epistles, as now he was attacking their own livelihood. A portion of the profits made in the temple were kicked upstairs to them. They took up stones to strike him.
‘Destroy this temple,’ he said, ‘and in three days I will rebuild it!’
By this he was speaking of the ‘temple’ of his body, but the priests chose to misunderstand him. Still, they could not kill Yeshua for fear of the crowd and the disciples who closed around their master.
But Yeshua wasn’t done playing with his food. He said, ‘Behold the land owning priests who crave approval from the Romans, and to be seen in purple robes, to have loud salutations in the marketplace, and a place of honor at the feasts. Truly, they already have their reward!’
The Sadducess departed to avoid further humiliation by Yeshua and pondered his threat to destroy the temple. They racked their brains trying to think of a way to have the man put to death, but they could think of nothing likely until they were approached by Yudah of Kerioth.
For a year and more Yudah had believed the words of the prophet Malachi were being fulfilled which said, ‘But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.’ He could not deny the sick were being made well at the touch of Yeshua.
But Yudah knew Malachi had also gone on to write, ‘Then you will trample on the wicked, and they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act, says the God of Israel,’ but over the last year Yeshua made not the slightest move to make that come to pass.
So Yudah felt very much the same as the scribes and Sadducees and Herodians who had run up against Yeshua, which is to say he realized he had been played for a fool. Yeshua would never allow himself to become the focal point of a violent revolt against their Roman masters.
Yudah also knew the enemies of Yeshua could do little to harm him. Yeshua’s observance of the Code of Moshe was impeccable, as that of any rabbi must always be. But for twenty brass sestertii he revealed a thing that would get Yeshua in trouble with the Roman occupation.
Few outside of Yeshua’s inner circle knew he sought out and recruited a tax collector, Mattiyahu, and convinced him to abandon his post. Yudah said subornation of tax officials was a crime under Roman law, and if a Jew committed the offense it was a capital one to boot.
The priests paid the twenty sestercii and kicked in ten more to use Yudah’s name as a source. It was worth much more to them to be able to say the conspiracy against Yeshua began within his own circle. That way Yeshua himself would be discredited, not merely his movement.
With the eleven remaining disciples Yeshua inaugurated a ritual where his followers gathered together to drink wine in memory of his soon-to-be shed blood, break bread in memory of his soon-to-be broken body, and renew again their commitment to make the rule of God present.
This meal, later to be called the Last Supper, was the Banquet of God. In every nation on Earth, in every age, this shared meal would become the central devotion of the people who put Yeshua’s words into action and offered the adoration due to elohim to his father Chokhmah.
Yeshua told them, ‘It is not enough to merely stop sinning against God and know God has already forgiven the offense against him. You must stop offending others, forgive others of their offenses against you, then join to repair the damage that sin causes to all mankind.’ And Miriam said to Yeshua in the tongue that only they shared, ‘Something is happening, Lord. The needle of time has begun to twitch. But you’ve set Jew against Jew, which will ultimately cause the Romans to destroy the temple and the city. On my line that never happened.’
‘And what becomes of the Romans?’
‘The Empire splits in twain and the parts die separately. The age of steam and coal comes in eighteen hundred years rather than nine hundred, and there is much violence, but not to the point of bringing unending darkness to the world.’
After the meal Yeshua walked in a grove of olive trees with some of his disciples. Out there in the night he knew Yudah must be making contact with the other disciples to learn where he was, and he knew the events he had set in motion at the temple were rushing to a climax.
In years to come as the fire started by Yeshua continued to grow men would imagine Yeshua said and did certain things in that place, called Gad-Smane, and commit them to parchment, yet none of the disciples who accompanied him that evening remained awake to take note.
The Romans could make a dying man yearn for his death to come quickly, but Yeshua, as all the other B’nei Elohim, could opt out of any pain. And the part of him that was the eloah Binah would preserve all his memories as a composite being right up to the moment of death.
But he knew present time was a fire, and the past was ash. After the execution there would be a bifurcation. A version of Yeshua before he was mistreated would be pulled from that ash and rekindled again, so there would be two of him. But he himself would be forsaken of God.
The earlier self would receive his last memories, true, and lucky for that Yeshua, but not for himself. There would be no continuity of his present self to the other one, as experienced from his present point of view. The other Yeshua would know every moment up to his death.
Yeshua would actually, in complete union with Binah, experience true death. That was the sacrifice commanded by his father, that he allow death to take him. Now events in their rush had almost reached the point where he could not escape this death, if that was his choice.
Suddenly overtaken by despair, Yeshua begged Chokhmah to let him evade fulfilling his errand, and at that moment a fold-door opened in the garden. Yeshua in union with Binah could have easily opened a matching fold-door in Haaretz and escaped the wretched death that awaited.
Yeshua saw he had intensified his temptation and made his task nigh impossible. He summoned the will to say, ‘Nevertheless, Father, let only your purpose be done.’ The fold-door collapsed and human history pivoted on a fulcrum.
Yeshua stirred his sleeping disciples awake.
He said to the former publican who had left his post, ‘Will you follow me, Mattiyahu?’
‘I will, Lord, even to death itself!’
‘Then the time has come.’
Even as Yeshua spoke shouts began to be heard in the grove of olive trees, along with running feet and whipping robes. One of the running figures skidded to a halt when he caught sight of Yeshua and Mattiyahu standing together with their faces dimly visible in the light of shifting torches. He pointed at them. ‘Seize those two men!’
‘And what of the others?’ barked a voice from the dark.
‘What of them?’ shrugged Yudah, drawing near to the ones he fingered. ‘Let them run free.’
Mattiyahu thought he recognized the voice but didn’t imagine it could truly be his close friend Yudah of Kerioth, one of the Twelve, until he saw his face in the flickering light.
Yudah reached out a hand to grab a fistful of Mattiyahu’s beard, a deadly insult that would have triggered at least a hot fistfight if the disciple wasn’t being held by several other men. He said, ‘This is the tax collector I spoke of, Mattiyahu. He also answers to Levi.’
The mention of his former job title earned Mattiyahu a wad of spit in his eye. Yeshua, however, was treated to greater indignity than just a plucked beard and spittle. With his master held as well Yudah kissed him full on the lips. He said, ‘Do you know why I did it, Rabbi?’
‘Knowing another’s thoughts I cannot do. Perhaps you did it because I broke with Yohanan and you never did.’
Yudah shook his head. ‘I believed you were the one to come, who was seen by Yohanan, but all you are is a persuasive traveling magician with a few simple tricks.’
Yeshua said, ‘My purpose in this world is not what you imagine it to be, Yudah, so my persuasion failed. Yet you have made my errand possible. I would thank you but as you have heard me say before to those who love to acquire perishable thi you already have your reward.’
Yudah saw that Yeshua had sabotaged even the small joy he had expected to glean from this night. He drew back and said, ‘Truly it is my hope that God will now be with both of you. But somehow I do not think he will.’ Then he watched the band of strongmen take them away.
Before dawn they were brought before Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest Caiaphas. He had been deposed as high priest for mismanagement and a sadistic streak that offended even Rome. At the ‘trial’ of Annas no judgment was rendered since he had no real authority.
What Annas did instead was ask particular questions about Mattiyahu’s choice to suddenly abandon his position as tax collector, only to be met with a stony silence, and each failure to answer merited a blow, until the faces of both men were a mass of cuts and bruises.
When dawn broke Yeshua and Mattiyahu were taken to the house of Yosef bar Caiaphas, son-in-law of Annas, where some members of the Sanhedrin tribunal gathered to put together something resembling a trial. But when Caiaphas saw Mattiyahu’s battered face he was incensed.
He said, ‘The whole of our case is that this apostate one, Yeshua, has discouraged a Jew from collecting the taxes due the Romans. What do you imagine the Roman governor will do when he sees this publican has the marks of a beating and he learns that him we have struck him?’
‘Nasi, it was the Ab Bet Din, the father of your wife, did the deed,’ offered one of the men who had been present at the arrest in Gad Smane.
‘Wisdom has long departed from Annas,’ said Caiaphas. He drew near to Mattiyahu. ‘You may go, but you must say nothing of this.’ ‘You have spoken truly,’ Mattiyahu said as his binds were loosed, ‘as I will be too preoccupied with writing all these things into a codex to say anything.’
‘The forty stripes less one lay just on the other side of that book.’
‘Then my back shall become a second witness.’
Mattiyahu was cast out of the home of Caiaphas. Yeshua was grateful that his disciple would not share the rest of his ordeal but it complicated things. Now Caiaphas must bring new charges to get him to his execution by the Roman governor, and Yeshua did not yet see the way.
Caiaphas put his first question to Yeshua. ‘It is said you seized control of the baptizer’s cult when he was put to death. Is that true?’
‘The followers of Yohanan looked to me when he was arrested and martyred.’
‘What does Moshe prescribe for the forgiveness of sins?’
Yeshua answered, ‘And he shall bring his trespass offering to Adonai, a ram without blemish out of the flock, and the priest shall make an atonement for him before Adonai, and his transgression shall be forgiven him.’
‘But he said nothing about immersing sinners in water?’
‘We honor Hosea as a true prophet of God when he said, ‘For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.’
‘Yes, but these transgressors who come to you seeking redemption in water, do you accept them all, or do you turn some away?’
‘Some are not baptized,’ replied Yeshua, ‘that is true. God alone forgives, but only the truly penitent.’
‘And how many shekels must change hands to frame the remorse of the penitent as true remorse?’
‘Perhaps you ascribe the contents of your own heart to my intentions.’
‘And perhaps you blaspheme God,’ Caiaphas raged, ‘by arrogating to yourself, a mere man, the power to declare sins remitted or retained! But let us turn to what happened at the temple last week. Why did you say you would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days?’
Yeshua said, ‘Those were not my words.’
‘Then tell me, what were your words?’
‘A group of men picked up stones to strike me. I said to them, ‘Destroy this temple and in three days I will rebuild it.’ The meaning is clear. By temple I was merely speaking of my own body.’
‘Merely?’ mused Caiaphas. ‘The temple is the house of God. Do you claim that your body is likewise the house of God? Speak now! Abjure in the name of the living God that you are divine!’
Yeshua replied, ‘In the future you shall see me standing at the right hand of God.’
Mattiyahu never wrote the book as he threatened, but the pseudepigraph has Caiaphas renting his robe at Yeshua’s words. He actually did no such thing, but he did beat his breast and wail, ‘Blasphemy! Blasphemy! This man deserves to die!’ The other elders echoed his judgment.
‘The charge is proven!’ one of them exclaimed.
‘What need have we of witnesses?’ asked another, rhetorically.
But one party pooper named Yosef of the town of Ramathaim-Zophim reminded them how Empire recently took away the tribunal’s authority in most capital cases.
Caiaphas knew he was right. The only authority the Sanhedrin retained to carry out the death penalty was in the case of a Gentile trespassing in the temple. But he brightened when he realized this was a way around their law forbidding execution on the same day as conviction.
‘We will take this false prophet before Pontius Pilate,’ said he, ‘and say the rabble looks to him to restore the line of David to the throne in Jerusalem.’
Yeshua shook his head at the amazing irony. Yudah had betrayed him precisely for not fulfilling that expectation.
Pilate was procurator of Judea. He ruled under Vitellius, who was the legate of Syria, and Judea was considered to be part of Syria by Rome. Pilate was so cruel even Vitellius sometimes thought he went too far. He would execute Jews at the drop of a kippah, any kippah.
The general had absolutely no respect for Jewish religious sensibilities so bringing Yeshua before him on charges of being a false prophet or a blasphemer would be a waste of his time and Pilate enjoyed having his time wasted somewhat less than watching the drop of a kippah. Yeshua had planned to commit suicide by Roman by suborning a tax agent, Mattiyahu, but the oafish incompetence of Annas nullified all his preparations when he roughed up his disciple. Pontius Pilate would demand to see the tax agent and he’d see the marks of the beating.
So Yeshua worked a blasphemy narrative to motivate Caiaphas, in turn, to work a messiah narrative before Pilate. The irony was that when Yeshua, in hypostatic union with the eloah Binah, claimed to be on a level with the God worshiped by Caiaphas, he wasn’t lying at all.
Notwithstanding what Yeshua’s admirers would come to believe in the centuries to follow, in First Century Judea ‘mashiach’ was a word which very specifically meant a Jewish king who would defeat their Gentile enemies and restore the Jews as a regional power in the Levant.
So if the people acclaimed a Jew as mashiach, or messiah, and that Jew did nothing to discourage them, Rome had every reason to suspect sedition, and her usual response was state terrorism in the form of public crucifixion on the Tau cross. That suited Caiaphas to a tee.
Since Pontius was an honorific assumed by Pilate himself, Caiaphas was not being familiar with the military governor when he said, ‘Pontius Pilate, this man leads the rabble who once followed the baptizer in Galilee. Herod Antipater has no doubt has spoken of him to you.
His followers believe him to be one to restore the line of David to the throne in this city. In recent days his disciples set him upon an ass and the foal of that ass. He rode into the city deliberately ‘fulfilling’ the words of one of our prophets about a future king.’
Pilate addressed the prisoner directly. ‘Is it true, what the High Priest has accused?’ Yeshua merely shrugged and was silent, which infuriated Pilate at first, then intrigued him. He said, ‘You must know what I can have done to you, yet you reply to me in this manner?’
Yeshua raised his eyes to peer into those of Pilate and said, without a trace of fear, ‘You have no power over me but that which is ordained by God.’
‘We shall see,’ said Pilate, who was more interested in the venom Yeshua’s simple presence invoked in the high priest.
He turned to him and said, ‘And you, Caiaphas, what would you have done with this man?’
The high priest replied, ‘You have eyes and ears, Pilate, do you not discern the faithfulness of the Jews of the city? Listen to them crying out for an enemy of the Emperor to die.’
‘What I discern is a mob you have raised up against another mob led by this man, and you think I cannot see how your scribes are inciting them. I would chastise both of you, but I am constrained to just the one.’ And Pilate ordered solders to lead Yeshua away to be flogged.
Yeshua did not, for one instant, want his conscious mind to be in contact with the agony his body was about to endure, and as B’nei Elohim that was a prerogative. He invoked unconsciousness after the first blow. The soldiers tried to rouse him with water but to no avail.
Seeing he was not dead, the Romans proceeded with the flogging as ordered, which had the effect of practically skinning him alive. The medical nano flooding his system could seal the wounds and keep him from losing too much blood, but it couldn’t grow new flesh or skin.
Yeshua was brought back before Pilate with his teeth chattering from shock, and he was a gruesome sight. Pilate, in a contorted way, was actually trying to save Yeshua. Perhaps the crowd controlled by Caiaphas would look at the man after his bloody ordeal and be satisfied.
Instead, the crowd’s demand to crucify him grew into a throbbing chant. Pilate began to see the depth of Caiaphas’ inexplicable fear of the prisoner. Then he saw a chance to mock the high priest. He said, ‘Behold, the King of the Jews!’ and laid his own robe on Yeshua.
Pilate marveled that Yeshua did not flinch under the weight of the robe on his raw shoulders.
Caiaphas said, ‘Pilate, do not say he is the king of the Jews. Thus do his followers think him to be, and so we brought him before you.’
Then Pilate remembered the other Yeshua.
Yeshua bar Abbas was a convicted assassin of Roman officials who had already suffered on his cross for a day, but that could be remedied. ‘Forget the crowd. Choose your Yeshua. Either your blasphemer Yeshua bar Yosef shall be crucified or the murderer Yeshua bar Abbas.’
Yosef Caiaphas knew he was caught in a trap. One bad choice here and he could be deposed as high priest as was his father-in-law.
Pilate said, ‘I have made my own inquiries into this man long before you brought him before me, did you know? Of course you must have known.’
This man you are demanding to have put to death for you, Caiaphas, was a disciple of the baptizer called Yohanan, and he accepted some of the baptizer’s disciples when Herod put him into prison, that much is true. Such Herod communicated to me when this one walked to Judea. Herod beheaded Yohanan, but do you wonder why he never killed this Galilean also? The answer is simple. He never spoke a single word against Herod. He is a doctor, and by every account a very good one. The crowds follow him seeking to be cured, not to watch a fiery prophet.
And I was not content to take Herod’s word for it,’ Pilate went on, turning to face Yeshua as he spoke. ‘I sent an agent to find this fellow. You may remember him, Galilean. He was a Jew but he really answered to me. He asked about your views on paying taxes to Rome.’
Yeshua acknowledged Pilate with a nod of his head, but said nothing. Pilate turned then back to Caiaphas. ‘Yeshua here said, ‘Show me the coin used to pay the tax’ and my agent produced one. Yeshua said, ‘Whose likeness is stamped on the coin’ and my agent said Tiberias.
Finally Yeshua said, ‘Then give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but give to God what belongs to God.’ So my agent returned to me and made his report, and I put this traveling healer out of my mind until you brought him before me today, Caiaphas, and said he must die.
‘Now when he rode the donkeys, that was stupid. I can’t have more of that, so he’s been punished, but was it worthy of death? I leave it entirely up to you and your God, Caiaphas. So choose. Shall I continue to crucify a Judean revolutionary, or shall I crucify your king?’
‘Release to us Yeshua bar Abbas,’ said Caiaphas. ‘We have no king but Tiberius Caesar.’
Pilate fairly beamed with pleasure. ‘See how much better it is, priest, when all can clearly see your professed fealty to Rome is but a lie? I despise nothing more than hidden motives.’
As Yeshua was led away to die Caiaphas said to Pilate, ‘You speak of hidden motives. Today this false prophet foretold his own death in my presence, and that he would rise again on the third day. It is clear to me now he was really attempting to deter his own execution.
Now General, I fear that when he dies his followers will spread a lie throughout the city that they have seen Yeshua risen again from the dead, just as he predicted. Afterwards we will never be rid of the zealots his disciples will draw to themselves with this fabrication.’
‘Then I will simply leave the man on the cross until the crows have picked him clean.’
‘General, you must not let that come to be. I invoked the Law of Moshe to bring Yeshua’s fate upon him and the Law also says the sun must never set on one who has been put to death.’
Pilate wondered if he would ever be rid of this troublesome priest. Visibly annoyed, he said, ‘I will order my centurion to take the man off the cross after he dies and bury him nigh to the place where he was crucified. Will that satisfy Yosef Caiaphas and his God’s law?’
‘I do not question the discipline of your troops, Pilate, but it is known that following a Roman crucifixion the bodies are often buried in hastily-dug graves with only a light covering of gravel over them. During the night dogs will root his body out and feast on it.’
‘What of it?’ barked Pilate. ‘It would be, in the end, no different than if birds consumed his body, except the burial will comply with the letter of your Law of Moshe.’
‘But we will never be able to disprove he is risen, as his followers will claim to the multitude!’ ‘I can do nothing about the dogs,’ said Pilate. ‘They make crucifixion a more effective deterrent among your people in light of your own belief that bodies are raised at the end of time.’
There was in the audience hall a member of the council named Yosef, who spoke before.
Listen,’ said he. ‘I have a freshly hewn crypt which I caused to be made for myself and my wife when our time is at hand. You may lay the body of Yeshua within for the span of three days where it will be safe from beasts or any of his followers who would do us harm.’
‘The crypt will keep the body of this Yeshua safe from being devoured by dogs, true enough, but what is to stop his followers from stealing the body away? Any stone we set into place to seal the tomb can be removed by the man’s followers if they have sufficient numbers.’
‘What of it?’ demanded Pilate. ‘Their future king will still be dead, whether his body rests in their hands or in a tomb.’
General, you do not anticipate what will happen. His disciples will bury the body in another place and three days after claim they saw him alive.’
Pilate thought on Caiaphas’ words for a moment and reluctantly came around to his point of view. ‘Make any reasonable request of me, priest, but consider carefully. When you depart I will receive no more audience concerning that man, and entertain the matter never again.’
‘Pilate, order a number of armed men to watch his sepulcher four days and four nights. Then we may be certain none of his followers have stolen his body only to say in three days, ‘Lo, he is risen as he said, behold his empty tomb!’ And all the other councilmen agreed.
Pilate seemed delighted. ‘Let it come to be!’ he said. ‘Now, Caiaphas, if you are finished piling on impossible tasks to satisfy your paranoia and your Law of Moshe I will leave it for you to give the instructions to Longinus, who is the soldier overseeing the man’s death.’