The Pilgrim Kings: A Story of the Magi

Views: 29
Ratings: (0)

Linked to Biblical sources, the story of the legendary Magi comes to us in a surprising conjunction of fantasy and historical events. The likes of Herod the Great and Herod Antipas, John the Baptiser, and Jesus of Nazareth, Joseph Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate, Herodias and Salome, spring to life again to confront creatures of the imagination such as Caspar, Melchior, Balthazar, Leah, Purim, Deborah, Eliachim and many others.With the arrival of the Magi in Jerusalem, innumerable connections emerge among characters and events - progressively generating the plot of the novel.There were rumours and prophecies circulating at that time in Jerusalem regarding a forthcoming king of the Jews, and King Herod - the fake Jew - is frantic with fears. At that same time a comet is sighted in the night sky. It is a visible light: the counterpart of the invisible angelic lights guiding each one of the Magi in search of the new-born king of the Jews.After the encounter, the Magi are transformed into ordinary faithful men and proceed to return to the East, while the rabid king fooled by the Magi orders a mass murder of little children. The story progresses all the way to the spreading news of resurrection, and further on to include Empress Helena, the relics of the Magi and their seizure by Frederick Barbarossa. In 1904, a part of the relics are returned from Cologne to Milan. In a brief prologue, the author narrates how she casually learned that the relics of the Magi are to be found in the city of Milan, in the ancient basilica of Saint Eustorgius.

List price: $9.99

Your Price: $7.99

You Save: 20%

 

21 Slices

Format Buy Remix

Chapter One - Who could the Magi be? Stories and History

ePub

Before I embark on a story of our wonderful, mysterious Magi, let me ask the unavoidable question: who were the Magi? The simple answer is that we do not really know in any adequate sense, even though their adventure has always had an evocative force about it that never declined. The events might not be entirely clear but their significance certainly was, and thus I would be better off rephrasing the question in the form of “Who could the Magi have been?”

Starting with the evangelist Matthew, his Gospel reads: “After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, suddenly several wise men came to Jerusalem from the East asking, ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and scribes of the people and enquired of them where the Christ was to be born. Then Herod summoned the Wise Men to see them privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared and sent them on to Bethlehem with the words, ‘Go and find out all about the child, and when you find him let me know so that I too may go and do him homage.’ Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out…. Going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and fell to their knees. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, but they were given a warning in a dream not to go back to Herod and return to their countries by a different way.”1

 

Chapter Two - The Purchase of a Donkey

ePub

Coming from opposite directions, at dusk, the two men walking along the main street of Nazareth were both sombre faced, as if they were concerned, worried, uncertain about some major problem, as if not knowing whether what they were planning was plausible or convenient. And so, the carpenter and the miller of the village were walking towards each other and exchanging gestures of greeting while they were still at a distance from one another. The one who was in charge of the village mill was the older of the two men and was dragging along a reluctant, old donkey—both he and his animal looking quite wistful. The young carpenter was walking towards him at a brisk pace, returning at the end of the day from delivering a well polished table, that he had carried on his own shoulders, to a prosperous merchant who lived on the other side of the village—and yet, he seemed concerned.

The two men deep in thought knew each other rather well, although they did not frequently meet, for both worked all day, and were also known for being uncommonly hard workers. They appeared very happy to see one another on that late afternoon, eager to share their concerns and perhaps hoping for solidarity and counsel. The miller was concerned because, after long travail, he had resolved to sell his old donkey to the leather maker who treated the skin of animals to produce saddles, shoes, and bags. He had decided that his donkey was just too old and weak to turn the enormous rotating stone that he used for grinding wheat—a donkey no longer suited for that kind of job. He thought he could not stay in business with that old animal. The hard-working carpenter was also quite concerned on that day: there was a recent order of the Roman emperor ruling over Herod's kingdom of Judaea, intimating that all citizens must report to their own town of origin and register themselves for the purposes of taxation. He did not mind having to walk for days or having to pay heavy tributes; his problem was that his young wife was with child, very close to giving birth, and she could not possibly walk all that distance. The carpenter greeted the miller cordially and then enquired about his sad face and about the donkey that he was strenuously pulling along. The miller gladly opened his heart to the carpenter and told him about his difficult decision. The carpenter sympathised with his decision and then told him in turn that he was concerned about a necessary and long journey with his expecting spouse. “She is young and strong,” the carpenter explained to the miller and added, “Not so long ago she walked for hours and hours over the paths of Galilee to assist and serve a very old cousin who almost miraculously was about to have a baby. An exceptional girl in many ways.” But now the situation was quite different because it was the last month for her. And then the miller started again about his own many business concerns. In the course of the friendly and lengthy conversation, the carpenter was patting the old donkey on his bony shoulders and gently caressing his matted ears. The donkey responded with all the warmth of which he was capable while the carpenter began insistently visualising his young wife comfortably riding on the good donkey all the way from Nazareth to his village of origin, Bethlehem Ephratah of Judaea—several hours south of Jerusalem.

 

Chapter Three - Leah and Purim

ePub

During the dreadful reign of Herod the Great and the overarching Roman Empire, there lived in Bethlehem of Judaea a young woman named Leah. And the story of this poor girl would become surprisingly interwoven with the “exploits”, or res gestae, of the terrible king. Young Leah was a tall girl, her complexion very fair, of a glowing white sharply contrasting with her huge mass of curly red hair that would swing beautifully when she spoke with vivacity or moved about briskly; her eyes green and sparkling, she was so beautiful that one could not even notice the scar on her forehead, her damaged left arm, and slight limp. Leah's father had bequeathed her a tract of land in the outskirts of Bethlehem. It was a rocky terrain unsuited for cultivation, and actually was a sort of escarpment close to a small valley. In the lower part of the escarpment was the remnant of an old sturdy wall that had been there for a long time; next to it was a dry well that had been there perhaps from antiquity. Just before dying, her father had also given her his beautiful pocket knife with a silver hilt; and she immediately decided to call it The Friend.

 

Chapter Four - A Belated Wedding Present

ePub

Even before getting married Leah was a very sharp-eyed and talented collector; she was allowed or often invited to pick the leftover stems after the harvesting of wheat. She also collected residues of food for the dogs from bakers, hostelries, and caravanserais. She picked edible herbs and shrubs along all the routes that she travelled, and often found dried-up fruits at the bottom of roadside trees. She also gladly accepted whatever she was offered by distant relatives and acquaintances. Leah was healthy and strong in spite of her injured left arm and her occasionally aching knee—which was constantly improving. Recently, it only ached after roaming for many, many miles.

Leah also collected what might be of use to upgrade her small home. She regularly brought home discarded pieces of wood, to patch her place and make fires. She brought home good straw that she used to thatch her roof and improve her bed. She had also collected a few discarded and rusty military shields that she used to protect her place from the rain: she placed them over her roof with heavy stones on top of the shields. She also regularly brought home all kinds of stones that could be used to reinforce or enlarge her place.

 

Chapter Five - Alone Again

ePub

Purim occasionally slipped his flute into the deep pocket of his robe and happily began to sing the tunes that he had played. When singing about the private life of the horrendous King Herod, he used spicy and explicit language without any shadow of restraint. What did Herod look like? Purim's songs described the poor appearance of the ugly king; he was so unsightly that he hopelessly envied anyone's good looks. As the chronicler Flavius Josephus recorded, “Jealousy devoured him even about the fair appearance of the two boys that his Hasmonean wife Mariamne had given him. Blinded by envy, he had both of them slain.”1 How could he sleep at night? He could hardly sleep at all because most of his nights were haunted by the uncanny thoughts of the queen he had secretly murdered and about other people he had brutally eliminated. How did he spend his time? Most of it was consumed by distressing fantasies about the most hateful plots that could go on behind his back. And, eventually, even the mysterious lordly visitors to Jerusalem would be perceived as part of the plot. How could a Jewish ruler admire the Romans and be a Romanised king? Was he or was he not a Jewish king? The exotic visitors of course must be announcing an authentic king of the Jews.

 

Chapter Six - The Dreadful Reign of Herod the Great

ePub

Born to a family of mixed ancestry, Herod was really an Idumaean, and his mother Cyprus an Arab; she was not named after the island, but after the city of Cyprus to the south of Jericho. The Idumaeans had previously converted to Judaism and thus formally joined the Jewish nation; Herod was the third generation since the conversion, and hence unquestionably Jewish according to the religious law, halakah. The manner in which Herod was educated and the contradictory cultural messages that he had absorbed may have contributed to the emergence of different components of his identity: Idumaean and Arab-Nabatean in keeping with his birth origins; Jewish, based on his official religion; and Hellenistic in terms of his education. Elements of Roman identity could also be discerned in him, starting from when he was granted the prestigious Roman citizenship by no less than Julius Caesar, after coming to his aid in the civil war.1 But, basically, he was a man of turbulent passions and the hopeless victim of inextinguishable envy. He thus kept a strenuous guard over his natural disposition: so thick a veil of cunning was he able to cast over the ferocity of his heart, that only the non-intimidated observer would have detected in his royal countenance the glances of suspicion and rage that frequently surfaced. He was usually surrounded by a bodyguard of chosen soldiers who pressed closely by him, and kept others at due distance from his person. As his hateful, suspicious nature could easily arouse a hostile counter-reaction, even normal responses were often taken as pretence, as explanatory confirmation of his original expectation; there was a fearsome knot of self-fulfilling prophecies and an inextricable vicious circle in his inner life. In the eighteenth chapter of his Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus reiterates that he was a man of great barbarity towards all men equally and a slave of his own passions: “He was able to conquer his enemies, yet, in my opinion, he was herein very unfortunate.”2 These are the words of the renowned historian from Alexandria: “He was formidable to all, not so much on account of the power of authority that he had, as for the shrewdness of his vile attempts beforehand.”3

 

Chapter Seven - Mariamne and Herod

ePub

Among Herod's wives and concubines, Mariamne stands out as the most important figure of the royal story. In his own wicked, perverse way, Herod had intensely “loved” her. In his Jewish Antiquities thus writes Flavius Josephus: “Mariamne was married to Herod, and made more eminent for her beauty.”1 When the king had married Mariamne there was a slight change of atmosphere at the court which was perceived in the way of kinder manners and an apparently more peaceful way of life. In those times there was also an intense fervour in Jerusalem: prophecies of a forthcoming king of the Jews were talked about in town, while a splendid star with a long tail had also been sighted in the night sky; there were not only local Jews in Jerusalem, but there was also a confluence of Greeks and Romans, Arabs and Persians that created a special cultural environment. At that same time, in the streets of the sacred city there were struggles to kiss the hem of the queen's mantle. And yet, citizens still regarded Herod as the cruellest, most ungodly man who had ever lived: he still filled them with loathing and fear. He might be the king of the Jews, but his people would never love him; partly because of his great wickedness, and partly because he was actually an Edomite, imperfectly circumcised, and because he had an Arab mother; nevertheless he kept believing that he truly deserved to be referred to as “Herod the Great”.

 

Chapter Eight - The Journey of the Magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar

ePub

The three men who arrived at the watering hole were unknown to each other. They had travelled towards Judaea over mountainous tracks, across stony deserts, along valleys and rivers, before finally meeting at that well. After brotherly greetings among fellow travellers, pilgrims perhaps, they all mentioned that they had seen an unusual tailed star, slowly moving towards the West, in the same direction in which they were travelling. But that was not essential after all; as each of them secretly knew, they were also guided by a more intimate star, an internal warm light that constantly accompanied each of the travellers, and never abandoned them. When they finally shared this personal experience, the three of them were overflowing with joy: they certainly were on the right route. That constant angelic presence had filled them with a profound inner peace which definitely eclipsed the comforting sight of the distant comet in the night sky. For each of them, coming from three different regions in the East, there was a secret angel-star attracting them towards Judaea—without ever letting them go astray. What was amazing about those angelic beings was that they were almost individually recognisable, as living creatures are. Difficult to feel and perceive at the beginning of the journey, the more they advanced towards their destination the more the indwelling lights felt close, and friendly, and caring. An especially brilliant comet could only be a visible emblem, a heavenly body often regarded as the harbinger of some extraordinary event, such as the birth of a great man; but a comet, a cosmic body, certainly could not be a personal and encouraging guide—a loving friend of the soul.

 

Chapter Nine - Stars: Visible and Invisible

ePub

On a moonless night the court's astrologers took Herod to one of the higher turrets of the palace, and guided him to observe a beautiful star with a long shining tail. It was something that Herod had heard about but had never seen with his own eyes.

Herod had also heard from his astrologers that they regarded the star as a harbinger of dramatic events. As he trusted his own astrologers in residence, he became alert and suspicious when he heard that exotic visitors from the East had also seen the star in the sky, a star guiding them towards a newborn king of the Jews, as they said. The three men had probably been following the celestial body that he regarded as such a dangerous omen for himself. How did those magical impostors conspire with a star, a faraway astronomical body? This was enough to confirm him in his regular sleeplessness. Known as a “fake Jew”, Herod had never personally invoked any living god, but was instead especially superstitious and always ready to perceive forebodings, read signs, or detect allusions. In the immense grandeur of his palace—only surpassed by his masterpiece, Caesarea by the Sea—he traditionally kept his own contingent of personal seers, representing themselves as astrologers, magicians, wizards, or whatever they might claim to be. Often royal magicians/astrologers were recognised as frauds. Herod, however, hesitated to dismiss them entirely because one could always fear their magical vendettas. One never knew. Others were so “dark”, wicked, and hateful that even Herod had become convinced of their nefarious powers simply because they were so fearsome; and so he continued to provide for their lodging and luxuries.

 

Chapter Ten - The Arrival of the Magi

ePub

As the legends say, the three Magi finally met at a watering hole when they still had a few days of travelling before reaching Jerusalem. They felt that their encounter was providential, and perhaps also mysteriously planned, as if they had made some kind of unspoken appointment. They felt as if they were there to recognise one another and then proceed together towards their destination. They were now sure that they were on the right route. A community, a communion, was gradually developing. They soon felt that they could trust one another and that they would never be alone again.

Just before they met at the well, each of them had become somewhat uncertain and occasionally discouraged by the strenuous journey. Strangely enough, their celestial guides spared them no obstacles while they struggled along. The precious Anonymous Book tells us that by day they pressed onward with untiring energy, stopping only for necessary refreshment and rest. At night, “They availed themselves of such scanty accommodations at the caravanserais of the towns through which they passed. They climbed hills and forded rivers. They pierced through craggy defiles, and cutting winds beat upon them…They traversed what seemed vast deserts…They waded their toilsome way through tracts of country where no tree spread its branches, no flower scattered its blossoms…Still they advanced without any avoidable delay.”1 Of course their angels guided them but they, quite simply, let them strenuously proceed. Their encounter at the watering hole seemed to be a blessing; a special gift. And thus, while they took their rest they frequently joined in grateful, spontaneous, communal prayers.

 

Chapter Eleven - The Council of Herod

ePub

Herod decided to convene a council of priests and Pharisees, doctors of the law and sages, scholars and scribes. The king demanded to be thoroughly informed by them regarding all talk about alarming prophecies. There was a great deal of talk about the tailed star that everyone could see. King Herod was not inclined to overlook anything with the slightest tinge of mystery. That unusual star might be a harbinger of threatening events that could affect his position, and that was enough for the council to consider, and then take action—whatever action. Also, he had to constantly stay in touch with the Sanhedrin. Both the local king and the Roman rulers, in fact, were involved in assigning the posts of priests and, especially, the significant post of high priest. And so Herod had to deal with them and constantly control what was going on.

On the other hand, in the immensely detailed chronicles of Flavius Josephus one can read that Herod saw to the appointment of the high priest as the Romans also did, as a way of taking the government of the Jews into his hands: “Accordingly the number of the high priests, from the day of Herod until the day when Titus took the temple and the city, and burnt them, was in all twenty-eight.”1 And hence, the high priest in particular had to be ceremonially invited to the council. Together with the priests the so-called doctors of the law, or lawyers, were constantly at work; their function was to interpret the scriptures, especially the law of Moses, and to draw out of it the rules of conduct for Jewish life. This role gained them prestige and influence among the people. Their number was drawn primarily, but not exclusively, from the Pharisees: together with the priests and the elders they constituted the great Sanhedrin. And Herod intended to control all of them.

 

Chapter Twelve - Confrontations in the Palace

ePub

Subsequent to the previous, brief, and formal hearing, Herod “invited” the Magi to stay in his palace—with such royal “kindness” that they could not but thank him enough for his generous offer. They had no choice, if they wanted to move freely in the region and succeed in their mission of finding the newborn king of the Jews, their messiah, their saviour. Herod ruled the country and they needed to negotiate with him tactfully, one step at a time. The Magi were then led from Herod's presence to their lodgings in a remote wing of the immense palace. They were allotted three different, comfortable rooms, which could be locked from the outside, but not from the inside. They were clearly under Herod's control, and he might even ask his own personal and allegedly powerful magicians to deal with the enigmatic guests, if necessary. His court was complete with trusted sorcerers who even claimed to be able to kill from a distance with their magic spells. They were secretly proud that these absurd, impossible capacities were often believed to be true.

 

Chapter Thirteen - The Robber Mother

ePub

There lived at that time in Jerusalem a woman named Delilah. She had never been able to reconcile herself to the idea that her son could only be a street beggar, that his prospects should be so badly restricted—such a good-looking boy, except for his leg impediment. Joel was nearly fourteen and walked around with a crutch. What she had, she had spent on medical men, hoping to find a cure ever since he was a little boy.

She had managed to invent a crutch that helped him move around without too much difficulty, and sometimes even with speed. Thinking about it all the time she did find, and smoothed carefully, two planks of wood. A carpenter let her borrow his tools to make the two planks sufficiently smooth. She created a sort of asymmetrical cross with her two pieces of wood. The central upper arm of the cross was much shorter than the two lateral arms, and the height of the crutch was just right for Joel. And yet, the crutch did not seem firm enough. And so she fastened the two pieces of wood together with leather straps. Looking at the crutch placed against a wall, one could notice that it was shaped like an asymmetrical cross. The right arm of the crutch was slightly longer than the left one, and it was on this well polished arm that Joel rested his armpit. The central, upper arm of the cross was even shorter than the left arm and served to make sure that Joel would not slide forward when he was bending down or was trying to take quick steps. Delilah was proud of the crutch and regularly renewed the leather straps.

 

Chapter Fourteen - The Narrow Escape of the Magi

ePub

When in discussion with Herod about current problems, Eliachim often referred to the Magi as quacks, charlatans, or foreign impostors. He said to the king that they saw themselves as seers, prophets, astrologers, healers—according to the circumstances, and that they were forever exploiting people. He even said that he regarded them as servants of low-ranking demons, and jealous of the power of the local court magicians. This was the language of Eliachim when discussing with the king what to do with the three foreign characters that they held as so-called guests in the palace. Of course, letting them go would be a way of finding the whereabouts of the newborn king of the Jews; but then, as they both agreed, they might never return to the court. Eliachim promised he would arrange for military posts to be scattered around Bethlehem so as to ensure that the three adventurers would be intercepted and dispatched. After all, the king had an army that was there to maintain the peace of his kingdom. Or else, perhaps, they would keep one or two of them as hostages waiting for the departing one to return with information. The departing one, however, might never return, knowing that the two Magi detained in the palace could easily escape with any of their imaginative strategies. And so, Herod would never know where the dangerous infant was hiding. Also, as Eliachim pointed out, if the three of them would attempt to return to their countries by different routes, he would arrange strategic checkpoints where the strange foreign cavalcade would definitely be arrested. By making the friendly gesture of letting them go, he thought, they could eventually find out exactly where the child was and inform the king; Herod could subsequently decide what to do with the foreign impostors before they left his territory. Sure enough, there was that comet up in the night sky, but its position was not precise enough to locate something as small as a baby. Apparently, the Magi had their own mysterious, magical guides for doing just that, and appeared strangely confident in their own success. Herod approved all of this shared reasoning and suggested that the Magi should be let out of the palace, not thrown out of course, at the earliest convenience. Everything would be quiet. No rumours, news, or comments. As the Magi knew, after all, the king was simply asking them to locate the infant so that he could also pay homage to him, as he had repeatedly told them—and which they were tempted to believe. Eliachim reiterated that military posts staffed with archers in plain clothes must be positioned not only on the main road but also on all alternative routes leading away from Judaea and towards the East. They both agreed on this point.

 

Chapter Fifteen - The End of Magianism

ePub

Moving away from the sacred crib, the Magi had stepped again into a world that looked harsh, dark, and perilous, and yet they felt largely unaffected by it. It seemed that nothing could pierce their souls or embitter them again. That child must have truly been a god, perhaps the God. A new age had been initiated, they said to each other with confidence, as if a prophecy had come true. Their old world still existed of course, but they were rendered indifferent to it in the light of the experience they had lived through. Only now, they seemed to know why they had been summoned to Bethlehem from far away. An old, terrifying world had lost its perverse magic at the hands of the infant they had kissed. Now there was only one source of power and no other, and in its force they were becoming free of worldly mystiques and fears. All the Magianism of the three men was stripped away from them and lost its power. Their former lives, their old kingdoms were gone, in a sense, even though they were still there. Upon returning, they would hardly recognise their native lands and homes. These places existed as memories of a past that was now not so important after all. They felt outside of time, although they were ready and free to re-enter it whenever necessary. And they would re-enter it with a new force. Whenever they might be needed, they would rejoin the flow of worldly things to fulfil the tasks set before them. They had lost much, they knew, but not the essential. Their fellowship now inspired and sustained them. They were no longer Magi, no, they were not, but simply good men whose souls were bonded in their new brotherhood. Pilgrims, they were. They enjoyed a new and profound inner force derived from their fateful encounter with the holy infant. Yes, after seeing the infant, they had to realise that they had lost all their powers, all their knowledgeable Magianism, and that they were no longer Magi, but just simple creatures sustained by faith and hope. Again and again, the three of them agreed that they were happy and grateful, and that they had never been so profoundly serene in the past. Had they lost their entire identity of Magi? Was their knowledge gone forever? How could Magi survive when they were no longer Magi? These were irrelevant questions by now.

 

Chapter Sixteen - The Night of Horrors

ePub

Leah had heard of what the Magi had recounted in town, and often thought of that. Everybody was curious about what they said, or of what people thought they had said. Talking all day long was the cultural and social life of Jerusalem in those times.

As the Magi had not reappeared at the palace, Herod tried to discuss with his first counsellor Eliachim the elimination of all children under two years of age; but it was no discussion at all because, in fact, he only wanted approval and support. Eliachim sounded very dubious, and explained at length to the king that stars and prophecies were all superstitious nonsense and that the prospect of a new king of the Jews was to be disregarded by practical and logical men. He believed instead that doing away with a great number of children would be seriously damaging to Herod's own power and reputation. In the first place, the Sanhedrin would unanimously disapprove of a slaughter of Jews and he would then have to cope with the hostility of religious authorities. The Roman governor would also strongly disapprove a killing of “civilians” for that was far removed from their mores and enlightened imperialist policies. He would thus appear to Roman rulers as some barbarous, local, ungovernable chieftain—certainly not a proper, respectable king. Ultimately, the news of the raid would spread everywhere and he would have to cope with the resentment of the population, or even with personal vendettas enacted by parents or by dependents who worked in his court.

 

Chapter Seventeen - Joseph of Arimathaea and the New Family

ePub

While Herod raged in Jerusalem, the Magi safely moved towards the East. Gentle Leah in Bethlehem, not to be defeated by sorrow, was buying herself beautiful clothes. Drawing from her pouch of silver pieces, she had bought a magnificent robe to replace the usual one—which she had always brightened with colourful headscarves. The splendid new robe was of an intense cerulean with a barely perceptible tone of purple. Her long headscarf was similar in colour to the dress, but of a lighter shade. Her pale magnolia complexion was luminescent. The green of her eyes and the glorious red of her curls made her a symphony of colours. She purchased earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings. But what made her most beautiful and cheerful, though, were the two babies she always carried along. Her appearance was an instant consolation. She took up the habit of visiting the village every day, going everywhere, to give what comfort she could with the two babies safely strapped to her chest and to her back. Her babies looked radiant with good health and clad in fine clothes. Bereaved parents stretched out their arms and hands to caress them and be relieved by liberating sobs. Weeks went by and Leah kept visiting the centre of Bethlehem daily—continually transfixed by the painful mystery of all those child martyrs. However ambivalent, the only possible consolation for many of the inhabitants was the sight of the little twins. One mother even smiled with a face full of tears. Older children who were also tearful and terrified secretly enjoyed seeing the splendid Leah with the babies. Initially, a young woman even tried to nurse one of them. They would momentarily forget that Leah's babies could not possibly be their own, miraculously returning. In the course of subsequent months, mothers frequently demanded to hold and cuddle the smiling twins. Joseph of Arimathaea did not have the heart to touch her babies at first, but one day he asked Leah if he could take baby Rachel in his arms, and Leah let him of course. Joseph had lost his brave young wife, also named Rachel, and baby girl, Ruth, in the night of horrors. He rocked the baby girl at length in his arms, until he quietly turned his head and wept. Leah understood and let him cradle the baby for a long time. He then asked Leah to visit him again and always made sure that she was honoured with the best food and wine. Barely one year had elapsed when Joseph respectfully and resolutely asked Leah to remain in his household and become his wife. In the course of years new children were born in the beautiful house of Joseph of Arimathaea. Leah had brought to the house her simple “dowry”, the satchel with its many silver pieces, and Joseph had proceeded to conceal it in the well-kept garden of his stately, splendid home. He had a luxuriant bush of hyssop there and told Leah that he would hide her treasure just beneath the roots of the perfumed plant. Leah cheerfully approved of the hiding place, reminiscent of the place where she had “found” it. It would be a secret between the two of them.

 

Chapter Eighteen - The Marvellous Dance—With Murder

ePub

About three decades after the departure of the Magi, the tetrarch of Judaea was Herod Antipas, the successor of Herod the Great, after the death of Archelaus. By common consent Eliachim was still considered irreplaceable, and essential to the survival of that precarious royalty. The son of Herod the Great and of Malthace, Herod Antipas was the ruler to which the Gospels refer during the period of the Messiah's public ministry. Herod Antipas's wife at the time was Herodias, the previous wife of his living brother Philip. She let it be known indirectly that she was the actual authority in the court, and that the vain, frivolous king was hopelessly dependent on her in every way. She thought of him as irresponsibly juvenile in spite of his seniority.

The Gospel reads, “In due course, John the Baptist appeared. He had proclaimed this message in the desert of Judaea, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.’” This was the man the prophet Isaiah spoke about when he said:

 

Load more


Details

Print Book
E-Books
Slices

Format name
ePub (DRM)
Encrypted
true
Sku
9781781818213
Isbn
9781781818213
File size
0 Bytes
Printing
Disabled
Copying
Disabled
Read aloud
No
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata