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Take This Cup

Take This Cup

3.8 4
by Bodie and Brock Thoene

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Woven into the fabric of prophecy, a young boy named Nehemiah must choose to embrace his destiny as cupbearer to the King of Kings.

When Nehemiah, the child of Jewish exiles, begins hearing whispers and experiencing portentous visions, it quickly becomes clear to his father and his rabbi that the young cupbearer is meant for a higher purpose . .


Woven into the fabric of prophecy, a young boy named Nehemiah must choose to embrace his destiny as cupbearer to the King of Kings.

When Nehemiah, the child of Jewish exiles, begins hearing whispers and experiencing portentous visions, it quickly becomes clear to his father and his rabbi that the young cupbearer is meant for a higher purpose . . . but what? Certain that the Messiah is alive at that very moment, the family waits for the boy’s destiny to be revealed.

From the ancient site of the Garden of Eden, Nehemiah undertakes a perilous journey. The caravan route is full of danger, hardship, and mystery—all of it linked to what Nehemiah has in his keeping.

In due time, his path becomes clear. It leads to Jerusalem, to a wealthy Pharisee named Joseph of Arimathea . . . and to Jesus of Nazareth.

In Take This Cup, the second installment of the Jerusalem Chronicles, Bodie & Brock Thoene envision more of Scripture’s most enigmatic moments and expand their award-winning canon of historical fiction with unprecedented power and depth.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this second series installment (after When Jesus Wept), young Nehemiah and his teacher Rabbi Kagba, one of the original magi to visit the baby Jesus, travel to Jerusalem to bring Christ the cup that he will use for the Last Supper. A fascinating first-person account of the life of the fictional Nehemiah, "cup carrier for the King." The narrative also fleshes out Christ's words and actions right before and during his last meal with the 12 disciples. Elegant writing and beautiful descriptions that authentically capture the era allow readers to feel as if they are in the room with these biblical figures. VERDICT Fans of the Thoenes' books will enjoy this retelling of Christ's last days, with its focus on the Holy Grail. Recommended for collections looking for historical novels set in biblical times and that delve into the backstories of familiar characters.

Product Details

Publication date:
Jerusalem Chronicles Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Take This Cup

By Bodie Thoene, Brock Thoene


Copyright © 2014 Bodie Thoene and Brock Thoene
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-310-33598-6


My mother's name was Sarah. She was the fifth daughter of Boaz, a weaver of fine wool prayer shawls in Jerusalem. Sarah was taller than most men, ample hipped and heavy-set, with thick, curly hair, and wide green eyes in a square, practical face. Her teeth were straight and strong. Such things as teeth mattered.

Sarah's weaving of prayer shawls was skilled, her work meticulous. Her shawls were worn by the Temple priests and pilgrims alike.

Sarah's one flaw was that she walked with a limp. But her father was quick to remind everyone that Sarah was a cheerful, loving girl and a hard worker. She would bless any man in search of a good helpmate.

One after another, Sarah's older sisters married. There were, however, no suitors for Sarah. Her limp, though not severe, was problematic. It was not easy for her to ascend and descend the hundreds of steps in Jerusalem. The streets were steep, and a woman's duties of shopping in the souk and fetching water would surely be hindered by her handicap. And men desiring to be head of a household did not want the head of a woman taller than their own.

Year after year she hoped and prayed. But there was not one man in all of Israel who asked for Sarah's hand in marriage. Sarah resigned herself to remaining an unmarried virgin in her father's house. Content with her life, she helped her mother and father in the little shop, located fourth from the high end of the Street of the Weavers.

Sarah's place was at the entrance of the shop. There, she and the loom were a sort of fixture on the street. Sarah played the loom like an instrument. She sang in perfect rhythm with the movement. Passersby gathered in a half circle to watch and listen as she performed.

Sarah was twenty-three, well past marriageable age, the morning her mother's distant cousin Lamsa ben Baruch entered the shop and fixed his steady gaze upon her as she worked.

"May I help you, sir?" Sarah's mother asked as she braided and tied the knots on the four corners of the prayer shawl.

"Aye. If you are Rebekah, wife of the weaver Boaz, then I am your cousin Lamsa ... here from the land of Gan Eden."

Sarah's mother squealed with delight and laid aside her work. "Boaz! Boaz! It's my cousin Lamsa! Lamsa, from beyond the four rivers of Eden!" She rushed to embrace him.

"You've gotten plump, Rebekah," Lamsa drawled in his Eastern dialect. "But you are still pretty!"

The thump, thump, thump of Sarah's loom continued as she observed the reunion through the screen of warp and woof.

My grandfather, Boaz, rushed from the back room and clasped Lamsa's arms. "Lamsa! And you've gotten lazy! Fifteen years or more since you delivered your wool to Jerusalem personally! Sent a steward to Jerusalem to us every year but now ... look at you!"

Sarah observed Lamsa. He was tall and strong, but not as tall as she. Lean and muscled, he clearly did not live a life of ease. Though she knew he was in his early forties, his grizzled beard and weathered skin made him appear older than he was. Yet his brown eyes, quick and observant, took in details of the shop.

His expression was pleased as he observed bolts of fine woolen fabric. A rainbow of colors and constellations of patterns filled two walls. Prayer shawls of intricate weaving were priced for rich or humble, a variety of sizes neatly folded on shelves. Finally, he took in the loom and Sarah and grinned.

"My flocks would be flattered that their wool has become such a fine and holy covering. I will tell them next season when they are shorn."

Sarah smiled shyly and looked downward but did not break the rhythm of her labor.

A lock of wild black hair spilled from beneath Lamsa's turban and across his brow like the forelock of a horse.

"There is no wool like the wool of Lamsa's sheep," Boaz praised. "It is the fleece of Eden—that is what I tell our customers. Nothing so thick and yet silky. No fleece like it in the world."

Rebekah clapped her hands in delight. "But you are here with us! How's the family? Your sons? Three of them, yes? And your wife?"

"My sons are well and strong. Ten, twelve, and fifteen." His smile faltered. "But my beautiful Jerusha flew away last spring, trying to give me our fourth child, and I am without my great companion."

Boaz and Rebekah clucked their tongues and wagged their heads in unison at the news.

"Oh, Lamsa!"

"Poor Lamsa!"

"So sorry to hear your news!"

"... very sorry. May she rest in peace."

"... in peace."

"What's a man without a wife ..."

"... a wife."

"Only half ..."

"What's life without a woman?"

Boaz's eyes glanced furtively at his daughter. His lower lip extended. Eyebrows rose and fell as he turned his face slightly to one side as a thought passed through his mind and out his ear. "Rebekah, go fetch your cousin something to eat quickly. He has come a long way to see us."

Sarah thought her father made it sound as though Lamsa had not eaten in a thousand miles and that he had come all the way from Eden just to share a meal. Sarah saw that her father and mother had invisibly tattooed the word widower across Lamsa's forehead.

Lamsa bowed slightly as Sarah's mother hurried off to fetch refreshment.

"The dust of Eden remains on our mountains." Lamsa laid out his wares on the fabric table to show samples of this year's wool and fine, thick f leeces from his f locks in the North beyond Babylon. "And the glory of Adonai remains in our high mountain pastures. My sheep drink in the memory of it from the waters, and even the grass they graze translates the vision of Adam into this ..." He swept his hand proudly over the wool.

Boaz ran his fingers over the miracle produced by Lamsa's f lock and closed his eyes in pleasure at the quality. "Nothing like this wool anywhere."

Lamsa added, "Ah, brother, you should taste the meat of my lambs. Nothing has such f lavor. I dream of it when I am away."

"You must be hungry! Where is that woman?" Then Boaz called to Rebekah, "Wife, where are you? Hurry! Bring the wine and cheese and bread for Lamsa."

Rebekah bustled in with a tray of food and a jug of wine. "I must go prepare a feast for you, Lamsa. So many years since we have served you! Our daughter, Sarah, will help me. She is a good cook. Sarah?"

Sarah tried to maintain her smile but was well aware her mother had already mentally discarded the word widower and substituted the phrase potential husband for lame, too-tall Sarah, twenty-three-year-old spinster daughter.

Rebekah motioned to Sarah, and the thump of the loom fell silent. She stepped from her chair and towered over the room.

"This," Boaz said, smiling, "is our daughter Sarah. She was a child when last you were here."

Lamsa did not say, "My, how you've grown," but Sarah saw the thought in his expression.

Sarah stepped forward and curtsied. "Cousin Lamsa, I know you by the beauty of the wool I weave, sir."

Lamsa kissed her on both cheeks. "Cousin Sarah, you play the loom as if it were David's harp." He gestured at her father's wares. "And here is the poetry and the melody and the music of your effort."

It was a kind thing for him to say, and a true thing as well. Sarah bowed her head slightly, then left with her mother so Boaz and Lamsa could conduct business.

Sarah limped after her mother through the curtain into the back room of the shop. Rebekah lingered to eavesdrop. Sarah, disgusted, waited, hands on hips. The voices of the two men drifted to her.

"It's a long way for you to travel, Lamsa."

"I wanted to see you. I remembered you have five beautiful daughters."

"Yes. Yes. The four oldest are married with families of their own now. They weave for me in their homes."

"Sarah is a skilled weaver," Lamsa remarked.

Sarah wanted to cover her ears. Her mother was almost vibrating as she panted and wrung her hands at the curtain.

"Mother," Sarah hissed. "Come on. Please! We have to go to the Street of the Butchers before they close." Sarah plucked at her mother's sleeve.

Rebekah came to her senses as Sarah tugged her out the back door of the shop into the late afternoon air. "We must have the butcher prepare a haunch of lamb for us," Rebekah decided.

"Not lamb, Mother. You heard what Lamsa said about his lamb. Anything but his own will be sawdust in his mouth."

"Oh, Sarah, you are so clever. Such a clever girl! Why you have never married ..."

They trudged up the alley toward the open corridor leading to where butcher shops lined the street known as "Shambles."

Sarah rolled her eyes. "Mother. The man is not looking for a wife!"

"He most certainly is!" Rebekah would not be swayed.

"He's not looking for me."

Rebekah glanced up at Sarah. "And why not you? Why, I ask?"

"And I am not looking for a husband. Not one who lives a thousand miles away."

Rebekah pinched her cheek. "Look at you. Pretty girl. Pretty green eyes. Your eyes are your best feature. What's wrong with you? Such a place he lives. A rich man. Eden ..."

"I'm no Eve. What's for dinner?"

Rebekah was drawn back to the problem of inferior lamb. "Beef," she declared.

"The best pieces will be gone by now."


"Too late in the day. No fresh fish."

"Then what?"

"A chicken," Sarah answered. "We'll have the butcher slaughter a chicken. Fresh enough."

Rebekah snapped her fingers. "You're so smart, daughter. Yes, you can make that ... that ... wonderful dish your father enjoys so much."

* * *

And so the chicken was slaughtered, plucked, and roasted as Lamsa hurried to the public baths and returned in time for a sumptuous meal prepared by Sarah. Wine flowed. The best wine. Lots of it.

Lamsa reclined happily and patted his belly. "There are wild pheasant in the hills. Practically pick them up without a snare. But my boys do love to hunt. Imagine pheasant cooked like this."

Rebekah simpered, "Sarah can cook anything. Can't you, Sarah? Tell him your secret."

"Garlic," Sarah replied without elaboration.

Lamsa nodded slowly. "Ah, yes. Garlic. We have garlic. And rosemary and thyme grow wild on our hills." He pressed his fingers together and formed a tent shape. "Two mountain ranges border our grazing lands like this. Climbing and climbing to impossible heights. The snowfall on the peaks never fully melts. On the lower slopes it melts into ten thousand waterfalls and is the source of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Eden. You see? And at the very north of the mountain ranges, where my fingers meet, is Ararat, a volcano with two great peaks, where Noah and his ark came to rest. Noah opened the door of the ark and out they came ... all the animals. So our mountains and valleys abound with wildlife."

Sarah questioned, "And your f lock grazes on the wild spices? Perhaps that is why your lamb is superior in taste to any other." She meant this as a joke.

Lamsa continued to nod as he considered such profound wisdom. "That must be it. Such a clever girl. That has to be it."

Sarah smiled slightly. "It could be nothing else."

"All fruit trees grow wild there. Except orange trees. But every spice grows wild. And asparagus. Just stroll out of your door. Vegetables ... all kinds ... wild."

Sarah replied too pleasantly, "A miracle. And so the lamb is seasoned before it is cooked, and vegetables are perfectly ripe and ready on the hillside. A woman has no need to go to the souk ..."

Lamsa broke his bread and placed a piece on Sarah's plate. "We are never without variety, and every day is beautiful. My town is called Amadiya. It is built of stone and is as old as Jerusalem, they say. Abraham would have known it. Built on a high plateau that overlooks river valleys. Beautiful. A fortress. A safe place for our wives and children. Only one way up. A steep staircase cut in the side of the mountain. Protection for our families from raiders while we shepherds move our f locks from meadow to meadow."

Sarah considered her lame foot and wondered if there were more steps leading to Amadiya than there were in Jerusalem. "But what if the women and families wish to go with their husbands?" she asked.

Lamsa replied, "Then they come. And live in tents among the flocks. Seven or eight months of the year is a long time to stay alone in a stone house in the village. Many families come along with the men. All work together. Children. Women. But only if they do not wish to stay in a fine stone house in the village." He smiled. "It is pleasant. If Father Abraham would come upon us, he would not know how many centuries had passed. The descendants of Noah's wild deer often follow our flocks as we move from pasture to pasture. They drink with the sheep in the dry season. It is written, 'As a deer pants for water, so my heart longs for you, O, Lord.'"

"I have heard something like that." Sarah drizzled honey on her morsel.

"Perhaps it is not the exact quote. But I know the truth of it."

Rebekah, as if fearing that Lamsa would catch on to Sarah's amusement, suddenly interrupted, "Come now, daughter, finish your meal. Lamsa and your father have things to discuss. Business."

The women cleared the table.

Rebekah heated water for washing. "Sarah," she chided, "he is a good man."

Sarah lifted a brow. "He's had too much wine and talks too much."

"Your father knows how to conduct business."

"Business! Do you think I don't know ..." Sarah exhaled heavily. "Mother, I am content to be who I am and wish to remain where I am. Amadiya! How many steps up the face of a mountain to reach the village? Stop plotting. Not one more word!" Sarah warned.

They cleaned up the rest of the dishes in silence.

Immediately afterward, Sarah retreated to her bedchamber on the rooftop. Storm clouds gathered, and the half-moon shone through the silver vapor. She had been in bed an hour when Boaz and Rebekah rapped softly at her door.


Rebekah's expression was wistful, hopeful, as she blinked at Sarah. Boaz's lower lip protruded as it did when he was negotiating a sale.

"Daughter, are you asleep?" Rebekah whispered hoarsely.

"Not now." Sarah sat up.

"Good." Boaz pulled up a stool and, sucking his teeth, sat down slowly. "The chicken tonight was ..."

"Just a chicken, Father."

"Lamsa enjoyed it very much." Rebekah leapt in too quickly.

Sarah did not reply at first, but a sense of dread filled her. "Father? What have you done?"

Her parents exchanged a guilty glance. Boaz cleared his throat. "You're no spring chicken."

"Not slaughtered and plucked quite yet, you mean, Father? Not stewed or roasted?" Sarah covered her face with her hands. "Just tell me."

"It's good news, really." Rebekah stroked her back. "He ... Lamsa ... likes you."

Sarah sighed. "Mother, everyone here likes me. I have only friends here. I have sisters and nephews and nieces who like me. Who love me. Strangers stop to watch me weave. They like me. I love my work."

Boaz cleared his throat. He smelled of too much wine. "Here's the bargain. Lamsa came here looking for a wife. Here. I mean, to this house. My house. He remembered that I had five daughters. He is looking for a wife, you see, from Jerusalem. He is not finished having children, and he wants a wife from Jerusalem, which will add stature and authority to his descendants, since his people did not return from exile when the captivity ended. He came looking ... for you."

"No, Father! Not for me. I am the leftover daughter. The only one of five who is unmarried."

"That may be, but that made his choice easier."

"His choice?" Tears welled in Sarah's eyes.

Rebekah glanced nervously at Boaz. "Yes. He is a good man. A rich man."

"He lives eight months in a tent with sheep," Sarah protested. "Is this what you want for me?"

"Here is the bargain," Boaz reasoned. "His choice of my five daughters is you. No matter that your sisters are married. Lamsa chooses you. He came here for you. But he says ..."

Silence hung in the air like a large spider suspended from a web. Sarah looked from Rebekah to Boaz, then back again. "What?"

Boaz continued cautiously. "Lamsa says he will not force you to marry him. Will not force you to leave your family and go back to Gan Eden unless you are certain you want to go."

Sarah blurted, "Then it's settled. The answer is no!"

Rebekah clasped her hand. "Sarah, your last chance ..."

"No, Mother."


Excerpted from Take This Cup by Bodie Thoene, Brock Thoene. Copyright © 2014 Bodie Thoene and Brock Thoene. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Bodie and Brock Thoene are best-selling authors of over seventy works of historical fiction. Their timeless classics have sold more than thirty-five million copies in twenty-three languages and won eight ECPA Gold Medallion Awards. Visit them online at www.thoenebooks.com Facebook: Bodie-and-Brock-Thoene Twitter: @BodieThoene

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Take This Cup 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
britkirk More than 1 year ago
Though there have been many stories about the Cup of Christ, the Holy Grail, after the Last Supper, this is the first imaginative account of the Cup’s previous history and significance. Nehemiah, the young son of a Jewish woman, a weaver from Jerusalem, is born and raised among the Jews who didn’t return to Jerusalem from the Exile. Educated by Rabbi Kagba, one of the magi present at Jesus’ birth thirty years earlier, Nehemiah grows up with the expectation of a soon-coming Messiah. Could the Yeshua of Nazareth, who is walking the earth, reportedly doing miracles, be that Messiah? When young Nehemiah must travel the long caravan road to Jerusalem, he is charged with an unusual mission—to carry a mysterious object back to the holy city of Jerusalem . . . an object whose reappearance heralds the Messiah’s arrival. Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem just as the final events of Jesus’ earthly ministry are coming to a climax: the Feast of Dedication, the Triumphal Entry, the last cleansing of the Temple, and culminating at the Last Supper in the Upper Room. Only Nehemiah understands the true sacrifice that is to come as he makes the cup worthy of his Savior. Author Bio Bodie and Brock Thoene are bestselling authors of over sixty-five works of historical fiction. Their timeless classics have sold more than thirty-five million copies and won eight ECPA Gold Medallion Awards. My Review When I received this book I had no idea it was a part of a series and I was slightly disappointed. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find this novel can be read on its own and still understand the book. Nehemiah who is an eight year old boy has grown, working with sheep and listening to the stories his parents told. The plot focus mainly on the cup before it earns its reputation as the Holy Grail. This novel does a very good job of connecting many bible references to the fiction story: Lazarus’s resurrection, the Last Supper, and many of Jesus's parables. I was also happy to see that all biblical references are noted in the back if the book. This novel was very well written and I enjoyed reading it, I will definitely go back and read the book that comes before Take This Cup. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Treenz More than 1 year ago
I have long been a fan of Bodie and Brock Thoene, particularly their Zion Chronicles and Zion Covenant. It has been many years however, since I have picked up a book by them and this was the one.  On receiving the book it quickly came to my attention that it was part two in a series which was a bit annoying, however to read, it doesn't appear to be continuing on from another book - so it seems to stand alone well enough.In typical Thoene style, I was drawn in on the first chapter however I found the story very slow moving.  I like how the story, though fiction, linked in to meeting Jesus and had many references to the Bible throughout.  For me it's a good story but not anything amazing. Please Note: Book Look sent me a copy of this book to review. This review is not influenced by anyone else - it is my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love these authors! Never been disapointed. Another well writen book! Waiting for the next?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago