Daniel, son of Melchior and Esther of Ecbatana, lives in rebellion and a drunken stupor, a great embarrassment that his older brother is only too happy to point out to their father. Feeling that he can never meet with approval, Daniel asks for his inheritance and strikes out on his own. He innocently puts his trust in a man who promises him great wealth. But nothing is as it seems, and Daniel soon finds his life in danger. Only when he has lost everything does he begin to truly understand his father’s love.
About the Author
Bodie and Brock Thoene (pronounced Tay-nee) have written over 45 works of historical fiction. That these best sellers have sold more than 10 million copies and won eight ECPA Gold Medallion Awards affirms what millions of readers have already discoveredthe Thoenes are not only master stylists, but experts at capturing readers’ minds and hearts. Bodie and Brock have four grown children Rachel, Jake, Luke, and Ellieand five grandchildren. Bodie and Brock divide their time between London and Nevada.
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By Bodie Thoene Brock Thoene
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2009
Bodie and Brock Thoene
All right reserved.
Chapter One And so it had come to this.
It was the night when Rabbi Ahava's shofar echoed in the Valley of Mak'ob, summoning the lepers of Israel. All that remained of the child's life could be counted in a thousand heartbeats. She was the smallest of all the lepers in the Valley of Sorrows. Born in a cave to a diseased mother four years before, she began her life with the certainty of death on her horizon. Her mother died giving her life.
Rabbi Ahava named the baby girl Ya'el but called her Yod, after the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. "Yod," he said to the children in his Torah school, "is the most important letter, after all.
"The letter yod hangs above the other letters like a little bird. Yod begins the word Israel ... Yis-ra-el." The old man held up a gnarled forefinger to inscribe the yod upon the air in a single crooked dash. "So Israel begins with what is smallest. As it is written in Deuteronomy, The Lord did not set His love upon you and choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all the people."
Rabbi Ahava taught them, "Israel begins with the smallest stroke, yod. Israel ends with the largest letter, lamed. This proves that the Almighty, blessed be he, loves all of Israel from the smallest to largest. From the youngest to the eldest. And everyone in between."
Yod was a good name for the child. She had never known any world but the leper colony, so she was happy even in the midst of suffering. Little Yod was indeed the smallest citizen of the Valley of Sorrow. She was nursed by three women who had lost their children to the disease. Yod thrived on the milk of her surrogate mothers, though she was a tiny infant when the spot of leprosy appeared on her right hand.
Each of her mothers perished before her third birthday. All the lepers of Mak'ob, from the eldest to the youngest, were her mothers and her fathers and her brothers and sisters.
She loved the kind young man named Cantor and his wife, Lily, most of all. Perhaps she imagined that they were her true father and mother and that they could live a long and happy life as a family. Cantor praised her spirit. Fearless. Quick to learn. Yod fed Cantor's hawk and was not afraid even when children twice her age cowered in fear of the fierce raptor. If I am a brave girl, Cantor will want me to be his daughter, she thought.
But it was not to be.
Cantor, handsome and kind, became sick one night and died suddenly. When he was buried, Yod hung back from all the other children who had loved him. She wept the tearless grieving of a leper ... and became blind.
The death of Cantor shattered all hope in the Valley but one.
A baby boy was born to Lily's friend Deborah. His name was Isra'el. Like his name, beginning with yod and ending with lamed, his life somehow represented all the dreams of the lepers of Mak'ob. From the smallest to the largest, it was decided that the baby boy must not remain in the Valley, where he would surely sicken and die. So Cantor's grieving widow, Lily, had carried the newborn up the steep path to the Outside in order to save him.
When Lily had topped the rim of the Valley and turned to look at those who remained, Yod began to weaken. Only days passed before Yod was carried to the Dying Cave. There she remained until, at last, only one thousand heartbeats remained before the end of her life.
It is told that the last sense to leave before death is the sense of hearing.
Yod did not know how long she had been in the Dying Cave. She could not see. She had no sense of touch or taste. She could not speak.
1,000 heartbeats ...
Yod heard the call of Rabbi Ahava's shofar. Suddenly around her there was stirring. Voices. A whisper of excitement.
"The Great Healer!"
"The One we have been waiting for!"
"The Prophet? Help me. Oh, help me!"
"Someone get me my stick."
"Yes! Messiah! Healer of Lepers!"
"Let me help you. He is here! On the stone of the bema. Teaching! Healing!"
"He has come to heal us all!"
Yod heard the shuffling of feet near where she lay. Did they not see her?
There was a rustle of tattered blankets as those who shared the darkness with her moved toward the light. Had they forgotten her?
Yod tried to speak. Tried to ask for help. She could not move her hands. Her mouth, a festered sore where lips used to be, would not form even one word.
There was silence in the Dying Cave.
818 heartbeats remained.
Then a single voice called, "Anyone else? Anyone still here?"
Yod's thoughts raced. She could not form the words, Me too! Though I'm the least! Don't forget me!
The sounds of faraway excitement filtered in.
But Yod was alone. Forgotten. Left behind in the darkness.
749 heartbeats ...
Outside the bonfire blazed. Torches streamed toward the source of light like molten metal about to be remade.
670 heartbeats ...
"Heal me first!"
But Yeshua of Nazareth commanded that the children of Mak'ob be brought to Him before any others.
612 heartbeats ...
Rabbi Ahava identified each faceless boy and girl by name and guided them toward the arms of the Great Healer. All were thin and gaunt. Some were blind, all lame, and a few so eaten away that they were unrecognizable as human. Their faces were a mass of sores and rotting flesh. They were atrophied specters of what boys and girls should have been. Those who gathered round Yeshua were from ages twelve to six.
572 heartbeats ...
Yeshua saw them all. He saw them each. One by one He passed down the line of thirty-two, from the tallest boy to the smallest ... and He healed them all.
"Tell no man," He said to Ahava. "These children are in danger. You must take them all to the synagogue of your brother." Then He asked, "But is this every one of us? All the lepers of Israel?"
The old rabbi frowned and scanned the ranks. "Everyone?"
Yeshua questioned him. "One little lamb is missing. Counting from the smallest to the largest. Yod to lamed. All of Israel."
400 ... 399 ... 398 ...
Ahava's eyes widened. "But where has she gone? There is a little girl, you see. Yod is her name ... you know. But where is she?" The old rabbi peered into each face, behind each boy and girl. "Where is your sister?"
336 heartbeats ...
"In the Dying Cave," Lamed, Yod's oldest brother, replied sadly.
Ahava stretched his hands out to the congregation. "Our little one! Our youngest child! She was in the Dying Cave. Did anyone carry Yod here?"
No one answered. A moan rose up from the congregation. Had the littlest in Israel perished just before the moment of deliverance? Had they left this one precious soul behind?
212 heartbeats ...
Yeshua tucked His chin. Snatching a burning brand from the fire, He strode alone toward the face of the cliff. He ducked and entered the low limestone entrance of the Dying Cave.
"Yod," He cried as her pulse raced toward the end.
All the people of Mak'ob watched in silence as the light of Yeshua's torch fell on every rag and mound of blankets in His search for the child.
100 ... 99 ... 98 ... 97 ...
The Great Shepherd cried, "Yod! It's Yeshua! I have been looking for you, little one! Searching ..."
The light paused, illuminating the smoke-scarred stone of this last refuge. Yeshua planted the torch in the ground and stooped beside the tiny body. He drew back the tattered rag that covered her.
Ahava whispered, "Does she still survive?"
77 ... 76 ... 75 ...
Yeshua gathered Yod into His arms and held her close.
35 ... 34 ... 33 ...
He kissed her bloody cheek and stroked her hair. Tiny stubs that had been feet protruded from His arms. Moments passed as He held her.
16 ... 15 ... 14 ...
The flame of the torch flickered in a sudden wind, then was extinguished.
5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ...
The smallest of all Israel. The dearest of all in Israel. Yod ... floating like a little bird above the others....
* * *
Three days had passed since Yeshua of Nazareth had gone down into the Valley of Mak'ob to heal the lepers. Of all the 612 afflicted, only Lily and Cantor, healed and whole and waiting, remained now, watching, on the rim high above the valley floor.
The hawk spread his wings and swung in a lazy circle over the place of separation. There was only one man left below of all who had entered that exile of loneliness: His common name was Yeshua, which means "God is Salvation." The prophets who foretold His coming to this valley of suffering called Him the Great Leper. They wrote what the God of Israel had commanded them concerning Messiah: A Man of Sorrows. Acquainted with Grief.
But other words of prophecy had come true for the people of the Valley of Mak'ob: By His wounds we are healed.
From the top of the precipice Lily and Cantor gazed at the floor of the canyon, where the outcasts of Israel had tended gardens and lived until they died.
The Valley of Israel's Sorrow was vacant. Smokeless, blackened pits punctuated the spaces where only one day before, men and women without hands or feet or faces had spent all their energy keeping the watch fires lit.
Lily stared at the mounds of the cemetery. She fixed her gaze on the open grave where Cantor had lain. She said, "What was here ... and who we were before he came ... it will be forgotten, I suppose."
Cantor nodded, testing his voice. "When the time is right, he will call them each by name, like he called me. And they will also hear and come forth healed from their graves. Better than healed. They will walk up the steep path to where we stand now." He stretched his hand up to Hawk in a signal that it was time to go. "Or maybe on that day we will all know how to fly."
Lily smiled softly. "Will you tell me ... everything?"
Cantor nodded. His eyes reflected light from a distant place. "There is no death there."
"And where he is sending us now? The land where Eden once existed? The land he said is waiting to hear our story-that the Redeemer of Eden has come back?"
Cantor frowned for the first time since he awakened from the long sleep. "It was perfect once. I saw it as it was ... before. There was no death until there was a murder of brother by brother."
Lily asked, "What was it like?"
"Too much to tell. Beyond beauty ... beyond fear. Lily, I will never be afraid again. They are all there, waiting for us, and waiting for him to return home." Cantor inclined his head toward Yeshua.
Yeshua sat alone on the broad flat stone where Rabbi Ahava had led the minyan of ten lepers in prayers each morning. Now Yeshua, the Great Leper, healer of all, prayed alone.
Lily wondered aloud, "Cantor, do you think Yeshua will stay here? Do you think since he has healed us all and has taken our disease upon himself ... do you think he will remain in the Valley? Will he suffer here in the place of those of us who are free?"
Cantor answered, "There are too many lost living in Israel for him to stay here for long. It is written: He sent forth His Word and healed them; He rescued them from the grave. And so he still has work to do. It must be fulfilled while he is on earth."
Cantor looked up at the hawk he had trained to hunt-so very long ago it seemed. The arc of the bird's flight grew ever higher, almost to the top of the cliff.
The bird was rising on the prayers of the Messiah, Lily thought. Flying upward with a single purpose: to do the will of the Master.
Through the unbroken spiral of the raptor, a high, shrill cry tore the fabric of the sky.
Yeshua lifted His face, ravaged by the sickness of others. He held up leprous hands in farewell to Hawk. And then He waved to the silent observers who perched on the rim of His suffering.
Cantor cupped perfect fingers around his mouth and shouted down, "Shalom! Yeshua! HaMashiach!"
The stones of the surrounding hills echoed in antiphonal song:
And there followed on the breeze a scattering of voices, living stones, who watched over the Great Leper from secret places in the cliffs.
"Give thanks ..."
"To the Lord!"
"For He is Good!"
"His Love endures forever!"
"Forever ... forever ... forever ..."
Lily whispered, "Though the place is empty except for him, even the stones cry out to praise him!"
When the last echoes died away, Lily and Cantor turned from the Valley of Mak'ob and left that place. Hawk came along, flying from stone to stone, alternately following and preceding the newly created couple as they walked toward the place where Eden had been, to the far country where Yeshua had commanded they must go.
Excerpted from Tenth Stone by Bodie Thoene Brock Thoene Copyright © 2009 by Bodie and Brock Thoene. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have read the entire series, one through ten, and am anxiously awaiting 11 and 12. They put the Gosple into story form and give the picture of what daily life was like at the time of Jesus life here on earth. Each book, more or less, deals with one or two sections of the population, ei. the lepers, the pharasies, the sheapards, the poor, etc.. Following each book there are discussion questions that would be great for use in a book review/Bible study setting.
The Thoene's bring back characters from earlier books to retell the story of the Prodigal Son. However, they turn their historical fiction into fantasy and kill the climax of what should have been a powerful book. I'm debating whether I will continue to read them or not.
Starting with book one and working your way thru to book ten has been like being a part of the greatest story every told. Right from the start Brock and Bodie have you hanging to every word and wanting more. You feel the words and live the story. I'm waiting for ten in paper back for my personal collection and just saw there is an 11. Joy oh joy!!!!! Have read many other books by the Thoene's and love the all.......
I have enjoyed the writings of Brock and Bodie Thoene for several years. The AD Chronicles is one of the best series that I have read. I look forward to each new book as it comes out. Tenth Stone was very good. I enjoyed it and find myself starting the series over and reading to the newest volume. I would highly recommend this series to any avid reader. Tenth Stone further exemplifies the life of Christ. He was compassionate and loving toward everyone. He is the Stone that the builders rejected and as the series draws the reader closer to the end of His earthly life, they will see the culmination of that life.