REVELATIONS – Emmaus, Bethany
Cornelius walked into his quarters saddle soar. For a whole week, he and a contingent of twenty cavalrymen have doggedly followed the defeated army back to their mountain stronghold where the legendary city of Petra, a city built into the rock, lies. Upon returning to the fort, he was surprised to find that the Governor General was there with General Gaius Alto. He had to quickly freshen up and report to the Governor’s quarters.
As he entered the governor’s tent, he saw that Tribune Arturos, Flavius and other officers were standing relaxed listening to General Alto talk. Pilate was sitting on a plush divan with Tribune Marcianus standing behind him.
“Aretas will not be so bold as to gamble again for a long while,” Alto said, as he was finishing his assessment for the benefit of the officers. “He clearly underestimated your small force. Very well done on your first campaign, Tribune. I am sure your father will be pleased.”
“Thank you, sir.” Seeing Cornelius enter, he added, “Of course, sir, I could not have done it without my second in command, Centurion Primus Cornelius.”
“Ah yes, Centurion,” Pilate stood up and joined them. “I have read all the reports. It is most fortunate that General Alto had convinced me to allow you to rejoin your cohort for this minor campaign. I did not think that Aretas would go so far as to try to gain a toehold in the Decapolis and be a thorn at my side if he captured Gadara. It is a good thing that you were an important asset to your tribune, for I did not need anymore headaches.” Cornelius could hear in Pilate’s tone that he was not pleased with him about something.
Sensing the same thing, Arturos dismissed the other officers. As soon as they left the tent, it was Arturos who asked, “Governor, what has happened, sir?”
“What happened was? I was caught off guard because I had no intelligence to warn me three weeks ago!” Pilate angrily said.
“Allow me, governor,” Tribune Marcianus haughtily said. Pilate sat down fuming. “Three weeks ago, the governor was in Jerusalem for business. He was entertaining a delegation of senators when a loud mob formed on the Temple court and started shouting protests. As I understand it, the mob was incited by men from Galilee. Hence, the reason why the governor was not pleased with you, Centurion. You were not there to give him any warning. If he knew, he could have head off the protest.”
“Sir, may I ask what was it that they were protesting about?”
Marcianus turned to look at Pilate. “They were protesting something about the aqueduct project.”
“The aqueduct? Sir, the aqueduct was completed last year,” Arturos said. “I heard that the city turned out and celebrated. How was it that they were protesting a year later?”
“Those ingrates!” Pilate threw his goblet across the room. “I had a secret arrangement with the priesthood. The money to build it came from them.”
“From the Temple treasury, sir?”
“I assume so, but what does that matter? Annas and I had a deal! It was suppose to be a secret. Some priest must have told the Zealots. There they were, disrupting my business and they dare to call me names!”
“The governor wanted to send in the troops.” Marcianus cut in. “But I felt it was prudent to mix twenty of our men in disguise among the crowd to quietly separate the ring leaders. Well, when the signal was given, our men were somewhat zealous in their execution of the orders. I believe forty or fifty Jews were killed in the process.”
“But that is not the last thing I have heard on this!” Pilate brewed. “One of the senators informed me that the Jewish leadership was sending a delegation to Emperor Tiberius to have me ousted.”
General Alto stepped in, “Fortunately, Governor, you have this victory to report to the Senate.”
“Yes! Thank you for reminding me, Gaius. A triumph like this will gain me some support.” Pilate poured himself another goblet of wine. Then he lifted it up and toasted, “To the victory!”
The story continues on in my next post.
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