THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch1 – part 4

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Tyre

“Tyre ahead”, a shout came from above.

Cornelius scanned the distant horizon. The city was still some distance away and he could not distinguished any visible structures yet. But there were signs of commerce coming and going. The sea lanes were busy with boats of all types and from different countries. He recognized Phoenician merchant ships with their colorful sails. Their deep water brigs have been known to navigate the whole of the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Some have even ventured to the cold shores of Britannia. He watched a pair of Egyptian boats going north probably plying their wares to the coastal cities of Asia Minor. A small Greek coaster following the Egyptians sped away to avoid getting closer to the Roman fleet. He surmised that it was one of those Aegean pirates that frequently preyed on unsuspecting merchantmen. A fishing fleet of Arabian Dhows of different sizes were racing home bringing their catch for market.

Then Cornelius heard running bare feet coming behind him. He didn’t need to turn around to see who it was. It was Trax. A boy in his early teens came to the railings next to him in excitement. He was pointing, clapping and waving to passing boats. In his excitement, he made no vocal sounds at all. He was a mute. He could hear and he does have a tongue, but he can only make clicking and mouth sounds. No words come out. Most of society would label Trax as a simpleton. However, Cornelius sees a lot more in this boy. So much so, that he developed a close affection for the lad that he made him part of his household. But from society’s point of view, Trax is still a slave. That was what he was when Cornelius purchased him.

Some years back, in a battle skirmish, Cornelius found himself fighting a very burly Trajan mercenary who was so intent on cleaving his head in half with his battle ax. He would have succeeded if it were not for a sprightly young slave boy – a muleskinner – who tackled the mercenary from behind. And when the mercenary turned to strike, instead of running away, the boy faced him crouched in a fighting stance with only a skinner’s knife in his hand. The mercenary was so enraged and distracted that he did not see Cornelius throw a deadly javelin that killed him. Cornelius had no idea why the boy, Trax, who was so named by his master – the head mule driver – risked his life to save him. Trax’s master wanted to beat him for abandoning the mule train which had scattered. But Cornelius intervened and gave the mule driver a bag of silver without counting it and Trax belonged to him. Cornelius kept him as a personal servant but he wore no slave collar.

“There you are, boy!” Jacob came puffing and huffing, “no sooner than I turn around to pack our things, you disappeared on me.”

Trax starts pointing towards the city and starts clapping his hands.

“The lad is just excited,” smiled Cornelius.

“Ah… The ancient city of the Sidonians, Tyre.” Looking slyly at Cornelius, he asks, “In the book of Kings, what Queen came from that city and brought havoc to the northern kingdom of Israel?”

“I knew you were going to asked that,” He responded with a knowing smile. “It was Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians. King Ahab married her during the time of the Prophet Elijah and brought her to the city of Jezreel when the kingdom Israel was already divided into two nations. It was she who brought the worship of Baal into the North Kingdom. This eventually lead to the one God allowing the kingdom to be conquered by the Assyrians and exiled.”

“Excellent!” Jacob said proudly “You are truly my prized student. Your brother and sisters may have enjoyed the stories of my people but it was only you that was inquisitive… always asking questions. Good questions. I remembered when I approached your father for permission to teach you the Scriptures. I was hesitant and feeling some trepidation that your father might upright and sell me.”

“I remembered. Father came to me that night and asked me if I wanted to taught by you. I said yes. Then he just looked at me for a longtime without a word spoken. Then he nodded his head and whispered into my ear saying, ‘Don’t let the old goat turn you into a Jew!’

Jacob started to chuckle. “Your father is a brave and wise man and he loved you enough to allow you to explore new things. Did I not tell you one time that you were the reason why I became a bond servant to your father for life? When your father as magistrate saved me from the debtor’s prison, I was to work off my debts to your father for seven years and then I would be free.” Jacob’s eyes was tearing as he placed his hand on Cornelius shoulder. “But then your education was progressing wonderfully. I had no sons of my own… Well, I went to your father and by the traditions of my people I chose bond servant hood. Now, I am your bond servant since your father signed me over to you.”

“Look, Jacob,” Cornelius gestured to the land. “Your homeland at last.”

“Aye,” sighed Jacob “It’s been about 30 years since I left my family for Greece. Herod was still king of all Judea, Perea, Galilee and Samaria. It was what he did that I chose to leave Judea.”

“For all the years that I have known you, you have yet to tell me why you left.” Cornelius saw that Jacob was staring out with a blank stare. “Jacob!”

“Ah!? … Ahem… Oh yes… Well, I shall tell you one day… I promise. Come Trax,” Jacob turned to walk back below. “We must prepare to disembark.”

 

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The story continues on in my next post a week from now.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

Thank you

Johann Q

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 008

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DEMACLI, THE LEGION DEMONIAC
25 A.D. in the region of the Decapolis

“Master! The caravan has arrived!” A voice shouted from below.

“That makes your third investment in four months coming in with no mishap,” said Habbi. “Luck is finally with you.”

“Yes, it has,” Demacli said yawning.

“Master, what ails you? In some nights, we can hear you talking in your sleep. Sometimes, we hear screaming.”

“Bad dreams,” Demacli said almost hauntingly as he stood up and went to the window. “It is always the same dream.”

“What dream haunts you so?”

“I… I am in my room and hundreds of… shadows are trying to break in! Some nights, I can here them beckoning me to let them in. When I awaken, I am drenched in sweat. I try to stay awake but… my eyes become heavy. Then, the dream comes again.”

“Master, since you have gone to the temple of Dionysus, your businesses have done well. But now you are haunted by this. You must return to the priestess.”

 

“What is it that you seek of the gods?” asked the priestess in the center.

“I have these dreams…”

“Have your business improved?” asked the priest on the right.

“Are you not debt free?” asked the one on the left.

“Do you want… more? …fame? …power?” asked the priestess in an alluring voice.

“Yes… but the dreams?”

“Let them in,” said all three together.

 

Demacli was in the same room of his dream. The room was bare, devoid of any objects. There were no windows. The walls were lacking of decor and the ceiling was domed. Against one wall, there were double doors with a wooden bar across them keeping closed. Outside, he can hear the wind blowing and something that sounds like thousands of footsteps circling the room.

The doors rattled. Demacli’s heart raced and he rushed to the doors to make sure the bar was secured. He rested his forehead against the doors to calm his heart down. Then, there was a knock and a female voice.

“Remember the wealth… remember what we can give you. Let us in!” Those three words rung out again very slowly, but with the voices of thousands. “Let… us… in…”

Demacli started to tremble and shake all over. He wanted what the voices were offering but yet he was desperately scared. But as the voices continued, his resolve weakened. He straightened himself and slowly lifted the bar. He swung the doors wide open. Then, he woke up.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 8th segment of my 2nd ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS. In my next posting, we will follow Demacli’s story a year later.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

If you want to support my writing, please use my Go-Fund-Me site below.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

 

Jesus 101 – Depths to which you dig

Everyday, I get in my email from the Bible Gateway website, a daily verse. The verse I received below rang a bell and so, I had to write about it.

Romans 11:33
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

I remember hearing this insightful modern day parable. This is how it went.

A young farmer was working the farm of another man for ten years. One day, he wanted to go out on his own and purchase a piece of land to farm. But he had not saved enough to buy good bottom land. He ended up purchasing a piece of land that no one wanted. It was located in hill country. It was all he could afford but he was willing to make it work. The next day, with a plow on his shoulder, he had climbed the hill to the land that he had not really seen yet. When, he got there, to his disappointment, he discovered that the land had little fertile top soil and was filled with rocks and stones of different sizes. He returned home dejected and very depressed, so much so, that he had not gone back for years.

One day, his friend found him wallowing in self pity, saying what a fool he was for purchasing a useless piece of land. They both went back to take a look so he can show  his folly. When they got there, he started to weep again. But his friend looked around very intently then he picked up a handful of stones. Looking at them a little more closely, he whooped in laughter. The depressed farmer asked if his friend found his situation funny. Then, his friend showed him the stones in his hands. At first, he thought they were just pebbles but then he found that they were really unpolished diamonds and a variety of gems. His friend indicated that his was filled with them. The farmer started to meticulously mine his land. The deeper he went, the more riches he found. He was the richest man in the land.

That land represents our Bibles. You wouldn’t believe how many people have casually purchased a Bible then leave it on the shelf neglected and collecting dust. They fail to see that within those pages is invaluable treasure that comes in the form of the wisdom and knowledge of God. Enter Jesus. He is the ‘friend’ in the story and he sheds light to show what you, me… all of us (in one time or another) have missed out.

Jesus said, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:20,21) So, in a nutshell, start digging through your Bible! And start digging deep! Put all your heart on it and you’ll see what true wealth is. And by the way, you don’t have to dig by yourself. Give me a call and I’ll help. I don’t mind adding more wealth to my bank account in Heaven.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

 

NLT – New Living Translation

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 007

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DEMACLI, THE LEGION DEMONIAC
25 A.D. in the region of the Decapolis

“Demacli! We have heard about you,” cried a voice in the crowd of laughing partiers.

“True! All of it, true!” said Demacli who raised his glass up, laughing. “Here is to Dionysus, our god of wine!”

“You Greeks always get it wrong. It is to Bacchus, the Roman god of grape that you should praise,” said a fat man whom Demacli didnot know. Some in the party roared in approval while most jeered in laughter.
Demacli, wildly laughing with the group, drunkenly walked out to a balcony. He looked up at the starry night. Then he up-ended his drink, some spilling down the side of his beard. There was a divan nearby and Demacli fell unto it and lost consciousness.

The next day, he was rudely awaken by a cold splash of water.

“Well, master,” said an old man amusingly. “Last night’s party seem to be your most loudest ever. We’ve cast out thirty seven this time, only seven we recognized.”

“Aaarrrgh… Please Habbi,” growned Demacli, as he slowly and painfully sat up on the divan he collapsed on the night before. “You are too loud for this early morn.”

“Originally, master, it is the seventh hour since the sun came up.”

“Food… I need food.”

Habbi clapped his hands and a female slave came in with a tray of food. As Demacli wolfed down his food. From the balcony, he looked out upon the desert city of Canatha.

Canatha was one of the free cities of the Decapolis, a grouping of Greco-Roman centers located on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire. Some three hundred years before, these ten cities were founded during the Hellenistic period after the untimely death of Alexander the Great. Canatha was located fifty or so miles east of the Sea of Galilee in the deserts of Syria. It was on a major caravan route with Damascus in the north and an untold number of Persian cities in the far east.

Habbi pulled up an overturned stool and sat on it.

“Master, the rate you are going, you will lose the wealth of your father in two years. Six caravans of your investments were lost to marauders. Those shipments that you entrusted to that lying Phoenician are gone. And the parties you hold practically every night… well, let me put it this way. One day, you will awaken to find everything in this villa gone, stolen by your so called drinking friends.

He pauses. Then, in a softer voice, “Demacli… my dear boy… I have watched you grow up. Your father commanded me to take care of you as you go out into the world to make something of yourself. There is no shame returning home to Hippus and admitting to your father that you were not ready.”

“Enough, Habbi!” Demacli stood up and walked into the house. With Habbi following, he went downstairs, walked across the patio to a garden pond. Then he jumped right in. When he came out dripping wet, he was wide awake. “Habbi, no more lectures. You forget your place. Now, I am going up to change and then I am going out to meet someone who promises that I can gain more wealth.”

The room he entered was smoky and dark except for a lit oil lamp on the floor. There was another light source coming from above that emitted a circle of light around the lamp. The light was so bright, he could not see the walls.

“Come and sit in the circle,” said a deep feminine voice.

Demacli sat on the floor with the lamp before him. Then three cowled persons slowly walked in and sat down before him. Their faces were hidden in the shadows with only a slight glint reflecting from their eyes. The feeling was somewhat erie.

“What do you ask of the gods?”

“I seek wealth. All my ventures have failed and I would give anything to be lucky.”

Together, all three of them asked, “What would you give to the gods?”

“What can I give? Gold or silver?”

“Those things are nothing to them.” It was the feminine voice that spoke.

“Then what?”

“You!”

 

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 7th segment of my 2nd ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

If you want to support my writing, please use my Go-Fund-Me site below.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch1 – part 3

 

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Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Palestine

The fleet sailed a southerly course hugging the coastline on their left for better half of a day. Cornelius returned to the bow and watched the sparse land slowly passing by. The land revealed mostly high sandy dunes going down to the water. There were also clusters of short gnarly trees breaking the monotony of sand and rocks.

Cornelius heard heavy steps approach behind him. “The master of the ship says that we have another hour or so before we spot our destination.” The one who spoke was another Centurion.

“How are the men, Flavius?”

“Only two or three are still wrenching from the rough seas we went through yesterday. Most of the men are fairing well but everyone are eager to reach land after three weeks in this bucket.”

“Get the men ready.”

“Yes, sir.”

Cornelius cast his eyes out at the passing barren coast again then lost himself in thought. He was always deep in thought contemplating on the things of life. Even as a child, he would often go off by himself to just think instead of playing. Lately, he had been wrestling with questions of meaning. The search for meaning started when Cornelius was a survivor of his Roman unit that was almost slaughtered by barbarians in the mountains of Spain.

He was an officer under a commander who had no military experience and only attained his office because of his family’s wealth. He was leading about 150 men in search of a brigand tribe that have been harassing Roman villages in Spain. The commander had heard that the marauders eluded him into a canyon. Elated, he ordered his whole unit to quickly march in after them. Cornelius pleaded with him to send in scouting parties first but the commander wanted a surprise attack and a quick victory. But it ended up being a disastrous trap. More than two thirds of the unit were slaughtered including the inept commander. Cornelius then rallied the survivors and fought their way back out of the canyon. He lead them to a nearby mountain lake where a small rocky knoll jutted out on a finger of land onto the water. He saw that the knoll can be defended because there was only one narrow entrance with water and rocky shelf on both sides. But out of the forty men left, only fifteen were still able to bear arms. The rest were wounded with only a few who can shoot arrows. So, he ordered the wounded to the top of the knoll. Cornelius and the remaining men barricaded the narrow track with a couple of big drift wood trunks and some boulders that were easy to roll. They used the extra shields of the wounded and embedded them in a line to form a crude shield wall. By the time of the first attack, they were ready. The barbarians rushed the narrow track but only six to seven can hit the improvised shield wall at a time. Some tried to attack through the water but were hindered by mud and deadly arrow shots. For two days the attacks were repelled and dead bodies were so piled up high that the attackers had to climb over their dead comrades to get to the defenders who fought back ferociously. But Cornelius and the remaining ten soldiers that were still able were exhausted. When he saw the barbarians form again, he knew they were all as good as dead. But no attack came, instead the leader came to shouting distance and called to Cornelius. The leader spoke. Though Cornelius could not understand the language, the intent of the leader was clear when he saluted Cornelius with his weapon. Then he and his marauders disappeared into the dense forest. When reinforcement finally arrived, Cornelius moved among the dead barbarians and his men. He looked at their calm but dead faces and saw that there were no real differences between his men and theirs. So, he asked himself why? Why do men have to die like this? Why did this have to happen? All sorts of why questions raced through his mind but one kept coming back to him even unto this day, ‘why am I still alive?’

When he returned to his home in Italy after four more years in Spain, he confided with his tutor and mentor, Jacob.

“You are not alone in your search,” Jacob said. “I am afraid the gods of Rome will provide you with no answers that will satisfy your desire for the kind of enlightenment you seek.” Cornelius saw a twinkle in his old teacher’s eye and knew what was coming next. “However, the One true God may provide you the answer.”

Cornelius, of course, had decided to study more what the Scriptures had to say.

“Since you were a boy, you have studied and even mastered the books of Moses, Joshua, Judges, Ruth and the collected histories of the Kings of Israel. The love of history was always your strongest suit. Of course, keeping you awake in the study of the Psalms and the books of Wisdom was always trying. I have to admit that as a boy, I too struggled with the songs, but I persevered and gained a closeness with my God especially when I sing the songs in prayer. You should try it. However, I know you are more into the intellectual and not much into the spiritual. But it is in the spiritual that you’ll gain your answers. The writings of the Prophets is where you and I must venture.”

“You?” Cornelius asked quizzically.

“Of course, my boy,” Jacob said delightedly. “Besides, it had been ages that I closely studied the Prophets. We can journey together.”

“Tyre ahead”, a shout came from above.

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The story continues in my next post a week from now.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

Thank you

Johann Q

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 006

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Simon the Leper – 20AD – S4 – An oasis in the wilderness – Judean Wilderness

Simon was standing on a high plateau many miles from the closest village. Looking east, he could see the salten sea. The north, west and south, as far as his eyes can see is a redish brown mountainous wasteland devoid of any greenery. Of course, Simon knew the secret of the wilderness. From the high ridges it may look like a desert but greenery can be found in a number of deep crevices and canyons. And below him was such a one. A hidden gem, known only to few. It was a deep canyon carved out by an ancient water flow. A well hidden track was the only way down to the canyon floor.

He walked along the edge of the canyon until he found the marker he was looking for. That marker was an old petrified stump which he finally found and almost missed because it was overgrowned with several thorny bushes. After he cleared away some of the bushes, he first peered over the stump to find that the path was still there and had not eroded away. The path was natural against the canyon wall and went down a gentle slope for about a third of a mile before it hit the sandy bottom. Because the path was narrow, he had to unload the packs off the donkeys and lead them down one by one. But before he did that though, he took out the ropes and lowered the packs down to the canyon floor. Then he started to guide the animals down. When that was done, he led them to where he lowered the packs. After securing the packs back on the animals, He continued on and followed the narrow canyon on an easterly route for a mile or so. The rocky walls rose some twenty feet up and there was no sign of vegetation except for dry brush. The canyon was mostly narrow, about the width of three men standing a breast of each other, until it opened up.

He paused and took a long look around. Simon was pleased to find that the oasis in the bottom of the canyon was still as green as he remembered it. Originally, it was an oasis in a box canyon about an acre in size. Fruit bearing trees mostly grew on the sunniest side of the canyon. The grass was greener and taller from what he remembered. This is good because the stream is still flowing from the rocks out unto the basin floor just inches under the top soil.

He led the animals to the far end of the canyon where he found the old hunting camp that his father’s father’s father built even before the Romans came. Simon gave a sigh of relief to find the camp still had the rock walls for both his shelter and animal pens. Leaving the animals in the pen, he went farther up the canyon and found the stream that flowed out from a crack in the rock wall into a pool. Then it flowed and disappeared back into the rocks. He knew that the water came from frost and snowfall on the high ridges of the wilderness during the short winter months. His father once told him that when it melts, the water would flow into what he believes were cavernous reservoirs in the mountains.

Simon’s mind was working as he looked at the shallow pool. He had an idea of tilling the soil in the grassy area into plots of vegetable and grain. Those plots will need a regular stream for irrigation. He’ll have to damn up the pool a little higher and then guide the overflow to the plots. He smiled to himself about keeping busy. Deep down, he hopes it will help him forget that he is a leper.

 

Three months later, Simon was awoken by a distant shout. He got up from his sleeping palette feeling a little bit sore. He walked towards the edge of the trees to see who was there. The sun had not risen fully yet. The canyon was still pretty much deep in shadows. Then he saw movement at the canyon’s entrance. It was a single man leading a train of animals. He still couldn’t tell who it was, until…

“Simon!” He recognized the voice. It was Tahan.

Simon walked out into the opening calling out, “You are one month late.” He jumped over a flowing irrigation canal then came to a stop about fifteen feet from his brother.

“Can’t be helped. There was so much people at the festival this year, we were kept busy filling out new orders. By the way, that upper room you rennovated brought in a lot of revenue. Joral knew you’d want to see the books, so he packed a copy in one of the packs.”

The sky brightened a little bit more and Tahan was looking around. He was especially inspecting the tilled plots “You have been busy. I almost didn’t recognize this place. How did you plow these plots?”

Simon laughed, “It was not easy? Those donkeys were not cooperative, but after a week… Mmmmm.”

“Well, I will leave you one of the mules and I also brought two more goats. Have you had any problems?”

“Just some jackals who tried to get my goats last week. Fortunately, I got their pack leader and built up the walls of the pen…”

“I meant… how are you doing?”

“Ah, yes. The whiteness is spreading gradually on my arms, legs and chest. And I also seem to lose some feeling on my finger tips. I mean, I can feel pressure but sharp points, not so much. But I can still work this farm.”

“So, what is your plan, Simon?”

“I work… I pray… I wait…”

“Wait? Are you hoping that the Lord will heal you like the way Miriam, the sister of Moses was healed of Leprosy? Do you recall why she had leprosy?”

“Yes. Miriam angered the Lord by critisizing Moses for marrying a Cushite.”

“Yes! And she knew her sin.”

“Brother, what is your point?” Simon asked.

“In the Torah, she is the only one healed of leprosy. No where else is written or heard that anyone was ever healed of this dreadful disease. Her healing was specific and it was after seven days, so that the lesson would be learned. Do you know why you were stricken?”

“I still don’t know why.”

“I think Nadab is wrong. I think what happened to you is the result of what happened in the garden of Eden. I’m sorry to say this, brother, but what happened was just bad luck.”

“That may be true. But I have to believe. For the meantime, I stay busy.”

 

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 6th segment of my 2nd ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS. Here we take a pause on the story of Simon the Leper. In my next post, I will introduce you to Demacli, a Greek man who later get possessed by a legion of demons.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

If you want to support my writing, please use my Go-Fund-Me site below.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

 

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 005

 

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Simon the Leper – 20AD – S3 – Exile – Bethany to the Judean Wilderness

Three days later, two donkeys loaded with supplies and two goats tied to them were waiting outside the gate. When he came down from the roof, the halls and courtyard were empty of servants.

Then he faintly heard, “Bye Abba.” He looked up to see both Mary and Martha peaking out of the window. It wrenched his heart. When he went through the gate, Tahan and Lazarus were waiting for him.

“My son, if I do not return, you will be the man of this house. When Mary reach of age, it will be up to you to choose her husband. As to Martha, Tahan, do not pick someone too old.”

They both chuckled lightly. “Do not fret, Simon. I will be there every three months with supplies.”

“I hope you still remember how to get to the canyon. Well, I better be off.”

Simon untied the lead donkey and had to tug a little hard to get it going. As he led the animals away, he dared not look back. The few neighbors he saw hastily shut their doors and shutters as he passed their homes. He could not help but feel hurt for many of them were his friends. When he reached the village square, it was crowded with people. He covered his face. Then he pulled on the animals and headed for the main gate. There was one other thing he had to do whenever going through a crowd which he dreaded. It was a requirement from the priesthood.

In a loud voice, he called out, “Unclean! Make way. Unclean!” He had to repeat himself until he cleared the crowd.

Practically everyone in the square turned towards him in surprise and quickly made way. They were surprised because they didnot expect to find a leper in their village… in their very midst. Then the gossips began.

As Simon made a straight bee-line for the gate, mumbling voices trailed him. “You see… it is Simon!” “Simon the leper…” “Simon! But I thought he lived such a blessed life.” “What sin did he do?” “Some one as rich as him has to have done somethin’ wrong.” “I heard he cheated his partners.” “His poor children…” And it went on and on. Simon quickened his pace.

He breathed a sigh of relief as he went through the main gate unto the Jericho road. He paused to look right. That dusty road zig-zagged down the Judean Highlands to the city of Jericho and the Jordan River Valley. He would have trekked south along the west bank of the sunken salten sea for two days until he reached an area in the vast wilderness his father showed him decades before. Then he looked left where the road led to the big city. He decided to go left.

 

About two hours later, he was on the crest of the Mount of Olives with a spectacular panoramic view of Jerusalem. But most importantly, he had a clear vantage point of the Temple. The sun was still very high in the sky and it’s glare was reflecting off the gilded moldings on the crown of the tall majestic edifice which housed the most sacred place in the entire world, the Holy of Holies. Grayish smoke rose from within the temple complex. Simon could picture his usual place in the only area where Israelite males were allowed to congregate in the Temple complex, the Court of Israel. From his former place, he had a clear view of the large burning altar which sat to the right of the Temple’s golden double doors about thirty feet away. The altar rose about four feet off the ground. Twenty priests could stand around the platform around the large fire pit. During the annual festivals, a continious thick black smoke would fill the skies for a whole week from the tens of thousands of animal sacrifices offered. On the Passover, the most important of the festivals, the priests of the altar would pass a bowl of the collected blood to the High Priest. He would then carry it through those double doors to seek forgiveness for the entire nation.

Tears came to his eyes. As a practice, he used to give his offerings for his family once every week before the Sabbath. As he watched his offering being put on the fire, he would get down and bow low to the ground and worship. Because of leprosy, he had not worshipped in weeks. Because of his unclensed condition, the thought of not being again part of the most holy of festivals had wrenched his heart. Simon went down on his knees and gave a curdling cry of despair. After an hour of crying, he got up and headed south.

 

About three hours from the city, he came upon the path that he remembered led to the leper colony. He decided to swing by for a quick look see. When he was younger, he used to accompany his father a few times to bring food supplies to this colony. He would say that the rich should always show compassion to the needy. Simon had continued the tradition with his own son.

The leper colony was actually located in a wide ravine that had extended caves where the residences take refuge from the elements. Simon followed the track that went up a rocky knoll. When he reached the top, he saw the ravine below him. Smoke from several campfires rose from the ravine opening. As Simon came close to the edge of the ravine, he saw on the other side, men unloading food supplies off a cart. They are Levites from a nearby village vowed to serve the priesthood and the people. They loaded the food on a wide basket that was strung on wooden crane built on a rock ledge. When the first load was full, they then swung the crane over the edge and lowered it down about twenty feet to an eager group of shabbily dressed lepers that could still walk.

From what Simon could assess, the number of lepers have doubled since he was here last. Rickety make-shift tents lined the far wall. He could see a number of them going in and out of the cave entrance. Where once a stream fed a pool that was in the middle of the ravine, now a stinking greenish stagnant pool is left and the stream dried up. There were bodies lying around the pool, some moving, some not. Simon turned away feeling a sense of pity and helplessness. He continued north, traveling on rarely used paths mostly avoiding the villages on his route. Four arduous days later, he reached his destination in the Judean wilderness.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 5th segment of my 2nd ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

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Until the next post.

Johann Q.

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