For all who seek Jesus, the man: the first report that sticks to facts. The gospel drama truly told against the full history and politics of the day. The new voice of "the Daughter" rips 2000 years of embroidery from scripture's tapestry. It reveals a Jesus for any age and persuasion, exonerates the high priest, and restores to Mary Magdalene--the intelligent woman who understood them both--her rightly pure reputation.
|Publisher:||L P Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)|
Year Two, chapter text.
South of the temple Yehohshua fell into step with women hurrying through the city gate to collect water from the spring on the east side. The women, narrow jars balanced on their heads, were absorbed by their task against approaching darkness. In the late evening light, parched areas on the hills across the narrow Kidron valley were the tawny color that awaits fall's first thunderhead.
It was the season of thanksgiving, the ingathering of the year's second harvest, when The Law enjoined men to make their yearly offering at Temple. People who came to the festival for business reasons or pure pleasure generally could afford city lodging. In contrast, the dry Kidron bustled with family shelters created out of poplar and olive branches, and perhaps a lucky find of myrtle. Fathers were accompanied by all of their households, and a flickering village had sprung up overnight.
Magda had heard that Yehohshua was known to camp in the park across the vale, and her long wait by the Water Gate was rewarded. She hoped for more than a mere glimpse of him, but she momentarily lost nerve. When he did appear she turned her back toward him. Yehohshua was preoccupied as he threaded his way through the activity near the gate. He took no notice of the woman rummaging through her carpetbag, nor did he see her turn and follow him.
Along the paths between thatched tabernacles, Magda heard the sounds and felt the energy generated by hearts happy in believing. She did her best to keep up with Yehohshua's youthful stride until, at the foot of one ravine, she lost sight of him completely. Reluctantly, Mada dropped her bag and sank next to it. Using the bag as a pillow, she curled up beneath her cape.
Before light Magda was on her feet again. In a cleft at a hillock, across from where she had slept, some of the pilgrim women had created their privy. In return for a coin an old woman gave Magda a bowl of water, with which she washed her face and hands.
Magda ate the last of her bread and retraced the way back to the Water Gate. Inside the city wall, on the public square near the gate, vendors were arranging their wares. She used another coin to buy several dried figs and almond cakes for her food pouch.
Magda was intent on where now would be the best place to keep watch, when she realized she, herself, was being watched. She averted her steps to avoid a cluster of men at the northwest corner of the square. All but one had their backs toward her.
Magda already had recognized one of the men as Zuph, whom she had known when he was an arrogant leader of young Pharisees. She ignored the call, but he broke from the group and hurried after her. He caught her arm and drew her veil down insolently. "I knew it!"
The gray of Zuph's hair surprised her, but she kept her eyes from shifting and drew back from his touch. "I thought you'd gone east for good!" he exclaimed. "Never expected to see you in the city again. Alone, are you?"
"What concern is that of yours? Is there a new law against single women attending festivals?"
"No!" Zuph smiled churlishly and mimicked a royal bow. "Especially not one of your repute. Ahhh--I know. If anyone came to see him, it would be you."
"You know. The one who's got all the women stirred up."
Magda saw that the other men standing in the tight circle at the corner had turned to stare. She drew up her veil. "Excuse me; I'll be on my way. I don't know what you're talking about."
"Then you won't mind if I introduce you." Zuph took her elbow firmly and maneuvered her across the square. The circle of men broke open, and Magda saw that they had been attendant on yet another man, who was sitting on the ground with his back against a pillar. Yehohshua!
Zuph tightened his grip on Magda's elbow and gave a sharp thrust. "What say you about this, prophet?" Pebbles stung Magda's hands as she hit the ground, but immediately she lifted herself up, supporting her torso defiantly on flattened palms.
"What was it you were saying to us before?" Zuph pressed hotly.
Yehohshua set steady eyes on Magda's face. "I was saying," he replied in a civilly soft voice, "that yes, Moses said a man may give his wife a certificate of divorce. But the woman who is let go, if she remarries, has been forced toward adultery."
Zuph pointed to Magda. "Of this woman, therefore, it can be said that she has been caught in the act twice. It is a known fact that she has had three husbands. Now, on the penalty for adultery, isn't The Law clear?--death by stoning. What, then, should it be for her?"
Yehohshua lowered his head. Seemingly absentmindedly, he ran a finger through the sand. "Let us be certain, first, of our definitions. Perhaps you understand the word, adultery, to mean fornication? Now 'fornication' is a Roman word, the root of it being forno--oven." He dragged out the o and r, and gave the n just the right amount of a hum. "'Adultery,' however, derives from adulteration--as, for example, of bloodlines. Are you accusing this woman, then, of adulterating fornication?"
That's preposterous! Magda thought. She, herself, would have laughed, had she not been feeling the sting of both pebbles and anger. She sat back on her haunches. Her harasser, slack-jawed by Yehohshua's sophistry, had forgotten all about her.
Yehohshua wasn't finished, however. "In such a case, then," he drew a line in the sand parallel with the first, "the act involved, between two persons married to each other, also could be labeled `adulterous fornication,' if either was married previously?" Magda saw some heads nod and some shake, but all, uncertainly.
"Wherefore, in the true sense of the word," Yehohshua went on, "how could 'adultery' have been illegal, but concubinage, not? The Law did not proscribe adultery only on the part of females, did it? Seek the scripture and determine whether God's law against adulteration might have become adulterated, itself. We need look no farther than recent history, to appreciate dangers of watering down of blood, and the lengths to which some can be driven in the resulting conflicts of inheritance."
The men were no less awestruck than Magda. She could tell from their expressions; they, too, were put in mind of the Great Herod's horrors.
Yehohshua now drew descending zig-zagged lines between the sand parallels, another parallel at a distance on each side, and more zig-zags over all. "Tribes... dynasties...empires," he murmured. He looked up, not at them but at the patch of blue between the tops of their heads and the ledge of the building's portico. "So--" he sighed. "As is written, Moses 'in his soft-heartedness'--seeing man could not fully control his nature according to God's original commands, reformed The Law to permit divorce."
Yehohshua's eyes shifted. With the hint of a polite smile beneath, they pierced Zuph's coldly. "One question remains. Did a change in The Law make it right, in God's eyes, that men be permitted to divorce wives on contrived grounds, and leave their discarded property to the hounds? Answer me that. Then, he among you who has never missed the mark, let him throw the first stone."
Yehohshua bowed his head and erased the diagram from the sand of the walkway, sending Magda covert glances from under his lowered brow. Hold tight, was the message. I think we've called their bluff.
Magda heard muttering and at least two pair of feet behind her slide away. More muttering; more movement. Finally Zuph's voice came clearly, a mixture of bravado and hostility: "I've had enough of this."
Magda no longer needed to wait for either crunch of foot or whistle of stone. But her eyes were glued to Yehohshua's, all thought suspended in-between. Several seconds went by, until he stood up and extended a hand. "Looks like we're alone," he said.
Yehohshua lifted and turned Magda like a father, brushing the dust off her skirt and examining her elbows and fingers. "Not hurt, are you?"
"Good! I'm Yehohshua, by the way. Friends call me Yeshu. And you are--?"
"I'm pleased to make your acquaintance, Magda. Going in my direction? I'm headed for the temple."
"Are you certain that's where you want to go?"
"It's why I'm here," Yeshu replied quickly but with a little less lightness to his voice. "Ophel's the quickest way. Feel up to it?" Magda didn't bother answering; she had to run a couple of steps to stay with him.
It was about a quarter-hour walk. Magda tried hard to hide her shortness of breath while matching his stride, but he noticed. "Have you broken fast yet this morning?" she asked, once he had adjusted his pace.
She took out the food pouch from her bag, loosened its lace and offered it toward him. "Here are figs and almond cakes, if you care for some."
"I could use a little nourishment. Thanks." He reached in and took two of each. Magda was grateful, because he walked still more slowly while he ate.
The nearer they got to the temple grounds, the more obvious it became that the man at her side and not festival activity was the morning's draw. People stopped milling about when they saw him. Many in small groups pointed and whispered.
It had been years since Magda had known herself an object of public attention, but she had not forgotten how to react. By the time Yeshu stopped where the Royal and Solomon colonnades met she was carrying herself like a queen. There, at the southeast corner of the temple grounds, three men accosted them. They came so quickly; unexpectedly, out of nowhere. Magda was alarmed when the tallest of the three men clasped Yeshu's shoulder from behind and whirled him around. She backed behind Yeshu.
The stranger, of Yeshu's age, had a haughty boyish look about him. His hair was brown, long and tightly-curled. He had a blunt nose and skin Magda would peg as `middle-colored.' "You weren't supposed to be here yet," he said.
"I took a short cut," Yeshu replied, scrutinizing the crowd.
Magda was relieved. Apparently the two of them were friends. Yeshu reached around and drew her forward. "We have a new recruit."
"Where'd you find her?" the other asked.
Magda, instantly hostile at the term of reference, gave answer before Yeshu could. "Gleaning in a field, of course--where else?"
"Oh." The man nodded. "I see," he said, and pressed his lips together as if to keep from saying more.
"Cephas, it's my pleasure to present Magda, who was kind enough to share her breakfast with me. Magda, meet Cephas."
"How do you do," Cephas said politely. His pupils against the sunlight were lost in irises of darkest brown. Magda put out her hand; then, seeing that Cephas already was looking away, she withdrew it. Not exactly the type who can give a woman long eye-to-eye looks, she thought.
Compared to Cephas, the other two men seemed shy. Yeshu reached a hand to the shoulder of each and drew them nearer. "Magda, meet my other two friends: Andrew, he's Cephas' brother, and Judas." Each of them shook her hand.
"I'm very happy to meet you both," Magda said. She sensed a greater deference in them toward Yeshu, and she recalled suddenly that he was a teacher of the highest order. How easily his naturalness could make one forget!
Andrew had an open face and a wide, ready smile. Magda tried to guess who was older brother, Cephas or Andrew. There was a strong resemblance between them, their coloring was the same, and they were equally well-developed physically. But in all respects Andrew's appearance was less dramatic. He was shorter in stature, his nose was not as blunt, and his eyes were a warmer brown.
Judas, who looked much younger then the others, was lighter-skinned and of a height between them. His frame was lanky, and his hair swept from the temples like a lion's mane, light-brown waves tinged with gold. His irises were a mix of green and yellow-brown specks and he had a sweet, thin-lipped smile and a sharply perfect nose.
"Let's walk," Yeshu said, abruptly skirting them all. They followed him through a south gate, which accessed the plaza where Magda had watched him roust the bankers at Passover the preceding year. That main court at the temple was not restricted like the inner ones. It was open to one and all and used as a general thoroughfare.
Past the gate Yeshu took an immediate right between the lofty Greek-styled pillars of the Royal colonnade. Its three columns (thanks to the Great Herod, 162 pillars in all) intersected Solomon's colonnade, three more columns of marble pillars that ran along the Temple ground's east side, overlooking the Kidron.
Yeshu strolled amiably, nodding with a smile when people he passed looked to him for it. Cephas was close on his heels. Behind Cephas, Andrew. Lastly, Judas walked abreast with Magda, who had a slight but distinct feeling of acting as a maternal foil.
Yeshu turned left through Solomon's columns. His retinue dutifully followed, and Magda noticed a small parade was forming behind them. Around they went, past the gate called "Beautiful," along the north colonnades, and then the west. When their circuit returned them to the main court, however, all pretense of aimless strolling was gone.
Yeshu sat himself near the corner of the stone barrier that separated the outer plaza from the inner courts. Magda, who rarely lost composure, at that point felt she might. She thought, he's one of those people who says, 'Come along!,' and neglects to add, 'but, if you do, you're on your own.' She felt better when several women from the parade remained grouped around her, even if judging by the movement of eyes above their veils they were no more certain of the situation than she was. She gravitated with them to the side pillar nearest to where Yeshu sat.
A formidable group of stately-robed men--a contingent of nobles, politicians and scribes exuding confident attitudes--had congregated in the immediate area. From which districts they came was beyond Magda's distinguishing. Their modes of dress varied but, as always, the more interesting differences were in skin color and faces. Some of them leaned along the stone wall against which Yeshu sat; others mingled in separate groups.
It pleased Magda to note that Judas sat with Yeshu and that they were conversing naturally, as if not in the process of being surrounded. Cephas and Andrew stood watchfully, a few feet away.
A singular man was standing somewhat apart from all the others, nearer to Cephas and Andrew. His robe spoke of noble position. "Look," the woman closest to Magda nodded toward him and whispered to her friend. "There's Yoseph of Arimathaea." Magda thought she saw an exchange of acknowledgement between Yeshu and the older man, but it was so brief she might have imagined it.
Three gates entered onto the west colonnade. People entering from the two farthest gates, not wanting to circle in the opposite direction, were beginning to press from behind. Magda held her ground aided by the women around her. They had been joined by many more women entering by the front gates, who made a beeline toward the female group as soon as they spied it.
Two new men obviously also friends of Yeshu arrived and had a quick consultation with him. Judas moved and took a standing position a short distance away, while the new arrivals positioned themselves on a lengthening line from Yeshu past Cephas to Andrew. All four seemed stationed to guarantee emergency exit via the third and nearest, the western, gate.
Settled in her niche Magda became more observant of the individuals collecting in the square. The marvel of faces and tongues gave her an odd surge of patriotism. Not only north, south and mid-country Israelites had been drawn in great numbers to the festival. Aramaic dialects including Syriac and Samaritan interplayed with each other, and pure Greek was a repeating lyric above staccato notes of scholarly Hebrew.
Magda's mind's eye saw history pressed into a cornucopia of time. On its peripheries, the sons of Japheth, Cush and Canaan; spiralling through the center, two distinctly separate cords, fastened to the root of Abraham. Canaan or Palaistine?, she pondered. In Roman measure, roughly 1300 stadia north to south and 650, east to the sea. Such a small but consistently drained artery of the world!
Another two new men arrived who made their presence known to Yeshu and then spaced themselves between him and the gate. It struck Magda, then. Yeshu's compatriots mirrored human components of the square. She looked at him and found his eyes on her.
You! Magda thought fiercely. You could do it! Antipas, himself, recognized the power of bloodright joined with reason, by the very act of arresting your cousin--
An elder leaned out of his group and motioned peremptorily toward Yoseph of Arimathaea. Yoseph stepped forward and cleared his throat. Seeing that he had Yeshu's attention, Yoseph's voice was the epitome of grace and civility. "Some of our colleagues," he said, "are most interested in having discourse with you."
What People are Saying About This
From Ronald A. Arbini, Ph.D. Emeritus, University of CA-Davis
Incredibly researched; Daughters of Logos proffers new light on old questions.