THE SYROPHOENICIAN WOMAN OF MARK 7:26 [part 1]

A short story by JQuisumbing

It had been a long five weeks. Elpida knew she had been away from home longer than she desired. But when she had received a message from a fellow Greek acquaintance who had come to her some seven years ago, she had to go. On the back of a slow moving cart drawn by a pair of oxen, one of a dozen transporting wheat to Tyre, her eyes were glazed, mesmerised on the passing dusty road under her dangling feet.

“Elpida… Elpida?” Elpida looked up to the craggy old face of the cart driver who left his place up front. She blinked twice then glanced at the empty seat.

“Who is doing the driving?”

“Ah… the road is fairly straight for three miles. My oxen will not veer… I hope,” he chuckled. “You have been quiet back here for some time. I thought maybe you fell asleep and fell out.”

“No… I was just deep in thought.”

“And by the look of your face in this entire return trip, you were not successful in your search.”

She slowly shook her head and stopped with her head bowed.

“Well, let us see,” said the old cart driver thinking to change the subject. “When we last talked, you were telling me about the reason you left Greece. You stopped short of the unknown god. Who is the unknown god again?”

That is a good question. To this day, she still did not know. At one time, she was a seeress to the Temple of Hermes. This always amused her. As a young girl, she was abandoned by her relations to the priests of this impoverished and unpopular small temple just in the outskirts of Athens. Hermes was not as widely venerated as the more prominent gods and goddesses of Athens. Since his temple lacked the kind of in-pouring of gifts like the other temples, the priests saw in her a cunning opportunity to increase their coffer. The priests did not hesitate to train her the art of being a seeress. The training took no more than three days. Her part was to rant on cue and always end with her eyes rolled back and twitch crazily on the floor. Her reward was a clean bed and good food to eat. And there was food aplenty, especially after the priests scoured the district announcing that they had sheltered a child touched by the gods. But her time there was not just play acting. One of the older priests took it upon himself to educate her. She was taught to read and write and the secrets of herblore. When she grew to womanhood and the temple had other little girls to fill her place, she was given other tasks, one of which was to visit other temples basically to spy on them.

It was on a narrow street to the Acropolis that she came upon an unusual non-descript shrine in a recessed alcove between two houses. She thought that it was ransacked and it’s carved image was stolen for what was left was the carved pedestal base and inscription. But then an old couple walked up to it left a handful of flowers on the pedestal. Elpida approached it curiously. She lifted the flowers and found that no statue ever sat upon the pedestal. She bent down to read the worn out and somewhat small inscription on the base which read “Agnostos Theos”, that is “Unknown God”.

To be continued…


Author’s note:

Though this short story is basically fiction, the character of Elpida is based on an actual female personality described in Mark 7. She was a gentile who showed great faith.

There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them were not named at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic license, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.

SIMON THE LEPER part 15

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

In the morning, Simon came out of his tent feeling invigorated. Lazarus wanted to pull up stakes and make the return trip to Bethany today. But Simon was thinking about staying.

“Well, father, when we get home, we have to tell as many people that we found the Messiah… and show them how you were healed… and then…”

“No, I will not.”

“What! What are you saying, father? People must be told.”

“I agree, but it will not come from me.”

“Why, father?”

“Because the master asked me,” Simon said solemnly. “His words to me last night were ‘Tell not anyone about this. Go, instead to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering as is according to the law passed down by Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. It is most important that this will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.’ “

“Can we not even tell the girls?”

“Of course, we can.”

“Good. I cannot wait to see Mary’s face when you get home.”

Then, they were approached by two women carrying a large bundle. One of them said, “The master sends his regrets that he was not here to see you off. He and the disciples left before dawn. He asked us to bring you more supplies for your trip back to Bethany.”

Simon wanted to say that he was staying, but the other woman added, “The master also said that he knows of your desire to stay and follow him. But he instructs that you return home and await for him.”

Three days later, he was entering the village of Bethany to the surprise of everyone who set their eyes on him for they thought him to be long dead. When he reached his house, a crowd of curious neighbors had gathered. Just as he was getting off his donkey, he heard a gleeful sound and running feet.

“Abba! Oh Abba!”

It was Mary who was all grown up. They embraced for a long time. Mary took his face and looked closely at him.

“Are you healed, Abba?”

“Yes, Mary, I am healed…”, then a thought occured to him, “…and I am saved.”

PREV


Author’s note:
Though my story is basically fiction, the character of Simon the Leper is an actual Bible personality who actually lived in Bethany, a village in Judaea on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. He is only mentioned in two verses in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark. There is no other reference of him in the Bible. So, I asked myself, ‘what was his story? How did he catch leprosy? And how was he cured?’ There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them had no names at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic license, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.

SIMON THE LEPER part 14

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

Then, the Nazarene turned his attention to Simon.

Simon took two steps forward and then like he realized who he was facing threw himself on the ground and asked, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

“I am willing; be cleansed.”

Then the Nazarene started to reach down and was actually going to touch him. The crowd simultaneously gasped and Simon flinched back. But the Nazarene was quicker. Before Simon could back away, his right hand was on his back, his left was gently grasping his arm and helping him up.

Simon felt a warm sensation throughout his body. Then the first thing he noticed was that he had feelings in his feet. He actually could feel the grass under his toes. Even his finger tips were tingling. He looked at his arms to find normal skin color rather than the expected sickly white flakes and bleeding sores.

“Look at his face!” exclaimed an awed voice from the crowd.

Simon hesitated for just a moment, then lifted trembling hands to his face. What his probing fingers revealed was a whole nose restored and no sign of sores.

Then, the valley was filled with celebratory singing and dancing. Lazarus, who had witnessed everything from among the crowd, went directly to his father and embrace him. They both wept.

“Come, follow me,” said the Nazarene.

Simon, still hugging his son, followed the rabbi to a nomad tent under the trees.

“Please, sit down,” the rabbi gestured to a matt on the ground. He went over to a low table and poured water into three clay bowls. He served the two bowls first to them, took the third bowl and joined them on the matt. “Drink first, then we talk.”

A woman brought in a large plate of flat breads, fruits, some meats and placed it in the middle of them. After they ate, the rabbi called for the men that were just outside the tent. Twelve men entered including the big man called Peter.

“Andrew, please take a couple of men and follow this young man to their camp and bring everything back here.”

“Yes, master.”

When they left, the rabbi gestured for the big man and two others to sit down with them while the others sat in other parts of the tent.

“Lord, what is your name? I only know of you as the Nazarene.”

“I am Jesus.”

To be continued…

PREV


Author’s note:
Though my story is basically fiction, the character of Simon the Leper is an actual Bible personality who actually lived in Bethany, a village in Judaea on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. He is only mentioned in two verses in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark. There is no other reference of him in the Bible. So, I asked myself, ‘what was his story? How did he catch leprosy? And how was he cured?’ There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them had no names at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic license, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.

SIMON THE LEPER part 13

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

Suddenly, Simon was up and rushing down the hill with his son asking a little surprisingly on where he was going.

The hill was a little steeper, so Simon had to slow down his descent. Lazarus was following a short distance behind. He looks up and saw that the Nazarene was already in the valley approaching the creek, working his way through the crowd. He was approaching the edge of the crowd on his side of the valley. He paused to figure out where to go. Should he skirt the edge of the gathered mass of people? It looks like the only way to get to him was through all those people. Simon hesitated.

“Father, what is going on?” His son asked as he gasped for air.

“I have to see him, Lazarus.”

Lazarus looked at him then he looked at the crowd.

“Father… No! Those people will kill you! You do not have to see you him today.”

Simon looked at him then said, “Yes, I do.”

Simon started to walk towards the crowd who were still about thirty feet away. Lazarus, not able to block or physically detain him, followed from behind.

When he was about ten feet from the crowd, Simon started to shout out to them. “Unclean! Unclean! Make way! Unclean!” At first, no one turned around, but then a young woman heard his shout. She turned around and screamed out loud. Apparently, Simon’s veil was uncovered and all the woman saw was a leprous face with no nose. Her scream came to the attention of other women and they too joined in the screaming. When people saw a leper walking purposely towards them, they scrambled out of his way. Simon managed to successfully penetrate through the crowd, so he thought he was going to make it. But then their initial surprise and panic quickly turned into anger.

Simon had to slow down because the angry shouting crowd was not moving aside as much. Then, they started to pelt him with stones. Some of the bolder ones started to come at him with long sticks. One of them hit him in the back of the head and Simon collapsed on his knees. Then they started to pound on him, hitting him on his back and his head.

Simon was dazed and his head was ringing. At one time, he thought his son was calling for him but his voice sounded so distant. Then, the pounding stopped and he heard like a long roaring sound. When he opened his eyes, the first thing he saw were beefy legs. He looked up in wonder to find what he thought was a giant of a man swinging his staff in a wide circle driving the angry attackers back. Then, the angry voices quieted down.

He slowly and painfully stood up amazed as he watched the Nazarene calmly walking over to the giant and placed his hand on his arm. He looked up at him half-scoldingly and said, “Peter…” He didn’t have to finish the sentence. The big man returned a half grin and a shrug. He smiled shaking his head and then turned his attention to Simon.

To be continued…

PREV


Author’s note:
Though my story is basically fiction, the character of Simon the Leper is an actual Bible personality who actually lived in Bethany, a village in Judaea on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. He is only mentioned in two verses in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark. There is no other reference of him in the Bible. So, I asked myself, ‘what was his story? How did he catch leprosy? And how was he cured?’ There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them had no names at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic license, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.

SIMON THE LEPER part 11

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

You are the salt of the earth,” the Nazarene said. “But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.”

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets.” [Matthew 5:13-17 NLT]

Simon’s ears perked up when hearing about the law of Moses.

“No, I came to accomplish their purpose.” Simon almost wanted to shout out, ‘how?’.

“I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” [Matthew 5:18-19 NLT]

Then he said something that almost stopped his heart.

“But I warn you,” the Nazarene paused. “Unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!” [Matthew 5:20 NLT]

Simon looked out at the crowd to gauge their reaction. From what he could see, a tiny number at the edge of the crowd reacted in silent protest. Clearly, there were probably some members of the ruling class in there.

To emphasize his outright blatant statement, he began offering a long series of achievable challenges on how to divinely deal with anger, adultery, and divorces. He spoke of on how holy vows are in the eyes of the Lord. He even tackled a subject that every Jew would find hard to swallow, loving their enemies and of revenge.

To be continued…

PREV


Author’s note:
Though my story is basically fiction, the character of Simon the Leper is an actual Bible personality who actually lived in Bethany, a village in Judaea on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. He is only mentioned in two verses in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark. There is no other reference of him in the Bible. So, I asked myself, ‘what was his story? How did he catch leprosy? And how was he cured?’ There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them had no names at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic license, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.

SIMON THE LEPER part 10

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

The next day, they reached the southern end of the sea of Galilee. Because there were many boats available for hire, many of the people decided to make their way to Capernaum by the sea. However, because Simon is a leper, no boats would take them. Instead, they forded the Jordan River and continued on by land. This added another day and a half to the journey. They found themselves north of the village of Gennesaret just a few miles from the city of Capernaum. Lazarus spoke to a few people from a group of villagers heading north. He found out that they were heading to a meeting place, to listen to a very charismatic rabbi in the hillsides near the city. So, they followed those people from a discrete distance.

The sun was just rising to its zenith, when the group turned off the road to join an even larger group that came from the city. From what Simon could see, the people were gathering in a dale between three hills. He knew that the people would become very violent if they found a leper in their midst. So, he and his son, instead found a goat’s trail that went up the slope of the hill on their left. When they climbed about halfway, Simon saw that they had a good vantage point to overlook the whole valley. The valley was actually a small hollow, a shallow basin with a winding stream down its middle. Except for a copse of trees, the valley floor up to the foot of the hills were blanketed with a dull yellowish brown grass.

Simon and Lazarus dismounted and tied their animals to a short stunted tree. As Lazarus set up camp, Simon watched the people below. From what he can see, there must’ve been about two thousand people. At first, he thought that the people were just idly standing on both sides of the stream. Then, he realized that they were all looking up toward the hill that was opposite from where they were. Simon followed the direction of their gaze up the hill to an outcrop of rocks sticking out of the yellowish grass. Some of the people started to climb the hill and gathered around the outcrop. Then, a group of men, about twelve of them, were coaxing people to sit on the grass. At the top of the outcrop, a man appeared. Simon knew he must be the Nazarene, but whether he was the miracle worker, he saw no sign of any miracles.

The Nazarene started to look at the people. His head turned to scan those who sat nearby, then to the people in the valley. Then, Simon saw that the Nazarene was looking at his direction for the longest time, or at least, he thought. His followers finally got the majority of the people seated. The Nazarene himself sat down on a rock and began to teach. For Simon, he was not sure what to expect. Then when the Nazarene spoke, he was surprised that his voice carried across quite clearly.

He gave nine proverb-like proclamations starting with the word, “Blessed.” The first set of blessings were addressed to an unusual group of unfortunates; the lowly, the mourners, the meek and those desperate for righteousness. Then, he realized that he himself is one of those unfortunates. Is the Nazarene saying that the kingdom of heaven is his for the taking? Simon was really listening to every word uttered.

The other set of blessings were addressed to the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and then a twice mention to the persecuted. When he ended that the latter was to rejoice and be glad, because great is their reward in heaven, Simon was flabbergasted.

“Lazarus!” Simon called out.

His son walked over from setting up the camp. “Have I missed anything? What is all that noise coming from the valley?”

“Oh that. The Nazarene instructed the people to discuss among themselves about a marvelous declaration that he just spoke about.”

Simon retold his son about the Nazarene’s ‘blessing’ dissertation.

“I tell you my son, never have I heard any man offer such hope to the hopeless. And he speaks with such authority,” Simon said amazed. Lazarus was about to talk… “Wait! He is speaking again.”

To be continued…

PREV


Author’s note:
Though my story is basically fiction, the character of Simon the Leper is an actual Bible personality who actually lived in Bethany, a village in Judaea on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. He is only mentioned in two verses in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark. There is no other reference of him in the Bible. So, I asked myself, ‘what was his story? How did he catch leprosy? And how was he cured?’ There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them had no names at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic license, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.

SIMON THE LEPER part 9

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

“Father… Father?”

Simon thought he was dreaming. He woke up looking up at the tattered tent cover that he used ten years ago to put a roof over his shelter. He slowly sat up and felt the aches in his back. But his hands and his feet lost all feelings some years ago. He tried to get up but the lack of feeling in his feet still affects his balance. He reached over to a rough wooden cane he made and slowly painfully stood up.

A voice again called from outside his shelter. “Father? It is me, Lazarus.”

He has not seen his son ten years. He had given explicit commands to Tahan to never bring Lazarus with him when he brings the supplies. But Simon was so lonely, he did not hesitate. He threw aside the curtain that was his door and stepped outside. At first, his son was smiling but in an instant his eyes widened in horror.

“Father! Yo… your face! You have no nose!”

Simon quickly covered his face. “I am sorry, son. I was so happy to see you, that I forgot… It is the disease.” He left it there as the only needed explanation.

“I am sorry, father, that you have suffered so.”

“Oh my son, I had hoped that I would be healed but I now know I will die maybe soon. There is no more hope.”

“But father, there is hope!” Lazarus excitedly said. “We have been hearing of a rabbi in the north country who can heal the sick.”

“A rabbi who can heal? Why have I not heard this?”

“Uncle Tahan did not believe in the news. I argued with him for weeks. So, I came on my own. I was fortunate to find this canyon.”

“A cure,” Simon mused. “It is almost too much to believe.”

“Yes, it is father. But you cannot afford to not try.”

“Mmmm…” Simon thought about it for quite some time. Then he nodded. “Son, you are wise for your age. Very well. We might as well leave now, the day is still quite new. Unfortunately, my mule is way too old to carry me to the… Where exactly are we going, son?”

“In Galilee… somewhere near Capernaum is what I heard. And don’t worry about animals. I brought three donkeys and left them up on the plateau.”

Simon and Lazarus took the rest of the day working their way out of the rugged Judean Wilderness. By the time the sun setted, they had already forded the Jordan River just a mile from Jericho and camped in the Perean valley.

It took them two days to travel the eastern ridges following a well travelled caravan route. The road they were on was rocky, rough and skirted the edge of a high ridge. Simon was almost dizzy as he looked down a cliff when his donkey was walking pretty close to the edge. There was unusually heavy traffic going the same direction as they were. Last time he had seen so many people on this road heading north, they were pilgrims returning home after an annual Jewish festival. Though Simon was cut off from Jerusalem’s society for ten years, he still knew that the festivals had long past. So, he wondered why all these people were travelling north. He also observed a fair number of cripples and even lepers going the same way.

They camped, as usual, away from the other camps. Lazarus came back after talking to a number of people.

“Father, they say they are all on their to find the miracle worker who has been going from village to village in the Galilee area.”

“Did anyone say who he is?”

“Someone called him the Nazarene and that it was him that caused some incident at the Temple last Passover.”

“What happened at the Temple?”

“I wasn’t there when it happened. We, that is Uncle Tahan, the girls and myself, arrived at the Temple court and found it in turmoil. Do you remember how the court of nations had animal merchants and money changers setting up booths.” Simon nodded. “Well, father, it has become far worse. It had doubled in size and these money changers have been cheating the pilgrims. Some say that the priests were behind it. When we got there, tables were turned over with those changers and others scrambling after spilled coins. Animals were running loose from their pens. Pigeons and doves were flying all over. It was a real mess. And they said that the Nazarene was responsible. Another said that after the festival, the same man went north through Samaritan country and raised the populace.”

“Raise the Samaritans?” exclaimed Simon, a little perplexed. “How did he do that?”

“People think that maybe he might be the Messiah!”

“The Messiah?” This was a little bit too much for Simon to absorb and make sense. But then, he looked around at the numerous camp fires throughout the ridge they were on. There must be more than four hundred people here, a great number of which brought their sick and the infirmed with them. Can this miracle worker be the Messiah? The Messiah according to prophecy is one who would be sent by the Lord. So, wouldn’t the Messiah have powers to heal? Simon was not sure, however, like everyone else here, he hopes it is true.

To be continued…

PREV


Author’s note:
Though my story is basically fiction, the character of Simon the Leper is an actual Bible personality who actually lived in Bethany, a village in Judaea on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. He is only mentioned in two verses in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark. There is no other reference of him in the Bible. So, I asked myself, ‘what was his story? How did he catch leprosy? And how was he cured?’ There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them had no names at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic license, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.

SIMON THE LEPER part 8

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

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 reddish 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 overgrown 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 abreast 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 topsoil.

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 renovated 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 fingertips. 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 criticizing 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.”

To be continued…

PREV


Author’s note:
Though my story is basically fiction, the character of Simon the Leper is an actual Bible personality who actually lived in Bethany, a village in Judaea on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. He is only mentioned in two verses in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark. There is no other reference of him in the Bible. So, I asked myself, ‘what was his story? How did he catch leprosy? And how was he cured?’ There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them had no names at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic license, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.

SIMON THE LEPER part 7

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

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 zigzagged 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 continuous 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 uncleansed 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 makeshift 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.

To be continued…

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Author’s note:
Though my story is basically fiction, the character of Simon the Leper is an actual Bible personality who actually lived in Bethany, a village in Judaea on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. He is only mentioned in two verses in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark. There is no other reference of him in the Bible. So, I asked myself, ‘what was his story? How did he catch leprosy? And how was he cured?’ There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them had no names at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic license, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.

A MOTHER’S CHRISTMAS TALE

An excerpt from The Centurian’s Gospel by JQuisumbing

“I was among the date trees with the other girls harvesting the fruit then everything around me started to slow down. I thought I was sick and very very dizzy,” said Mariam. “I closed my eyes for just a moment and when I opened them, there was no one to be seen. I was all alone. I looked all around and I ran but I knew not where.

“There was a voice calling my name. Then… before me was a man all in the brightest of white. He was so beautiful that I was so afraid. He said, ‘Hail Mariam, thou art highly favored among women. Do not fear for the Lord is with thee. Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

“I was so confused for I have never known a man before. But he said, ‘The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.’

[Luke 1:28-35 KJV]

Cornelius was totally stunned to hear her story. The skeptical part of him could not believe of a virgin conception.

“In some ways, I probably looked like the way you both look right now. The angel then told me of a recent miracle with my cousin, Elizabeth, who was barren but became pregnant in her old age with her husband, Zecharia.” She then looked at Cornelius and said, “I believe you already know their son. They named him John.”

Cornelius and Jacob looked at each other but no words were exchanged. Mariam then told them that her husband to be, Joseph, wanted to divorce her quietly but the same angel spoke to him in a dream and they got married. They thought the baby was to be born at Nazareth but then came the Emperor’s edict for the heads of family to return to where they were born.

“So, we left for Bethlehem where I gave birth.”

“We know of the coming of the magi from the East and the dreadful event after. Was there there anything unusual that happened on the day you gave birth?” asked Jacob.

“When we arrived in Bethlehem, the village was crowded with people because of the census. We stayed with the family of Joseph but the inn, that is, the upper room for guests was already occupied by other relatives; one of whom was also ready to give birth. The midwives were already up there. At that time, I thought I still had about a week to go, so Joseph and I were quite content to sleep on the ground with other family members. We settled ourselves on the ground where the animals were usually kept during the winter months. That night, I went into labor. All the men were ushered out of the house while the women of the household helped me.

“When my son was born, Joseph wrapped him in swaddling cloth and then he laid him in a stone manger filled with a bed of fresh hay while I rested. I still recall how magical it was when Joseph let open the large wooden doors to let the cool air in. A ray of light from the moon seem to fall upon my baby’s face. But that is not the only special event that happened that night. Something else happened in the nearby hills. For this part of the story, I bring you an eyewitness.”

She nodded to one of her daughters. She went out the door leading an old man leaning on a hooked staff. Miriam gestured to him and said, “This is Eloa. He was there when I gave birth. At that time, he was a shepherd who was out on the hillsides of Bethlehem watching over a flock of sheep. I will let him tell you himself.”

“Gre… gre… greetings, your honors,” Eloa said nervously. “I is a simple shepherd. I not talk to others too good, but this story I like to tell very very well.

“I remember… I always remember that night like it yesterday. Me, my father and ten others… we sitting around fire. Night very dark, when suddenly on hill above us, man appear like very bright sun. We all knew man was no man but messenger of the wind… sent by Yahweh. He spoke to us in very clear words.”

Cornelius then heard him suddenly speak with clear diction and it seemed Eloa’s voice was not his own.

Fear not… for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

“Then night sky burst bright with more light and there was many holy messengers flying by singing, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’


[ Luke 2:10-14 NASB ]

“Then… no light… no singing… all quiet. Even sheep quiet… no run away. We shepherds laugh and cry because we so happy. We left sheep… not worry about them… they safe we know somehow. We met other shepherds going to Bethlehem. They saw too. More and more joined us. When enter Bethlehem, we asked where babies born this night. We search and search… found five but not right one. Finally, we came to house where baby born in upstair room but baby was girl. Then walked around house and big doors open and single light from lamp over manger. When we saw baby in manger, we knew sign. First, we quiet… then laughed out loud. Soon dancing and singing psalms. When villagers came… asked why… we told them all.”

Mariam smiled and nodded. Eloa bowed and then quietly left. “Eloa stayed with us ever since. The village did celebrate that night. Joseph and his family were concerned but as is the nature of people, they easily forget. After forty five days, we traveled to Jerusalem to present our baby at the Temple as in tradition. It was there, we were met by a man named Simeon who said, ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.’ Then he told me that ‘Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.’

[ Luke 2:29-32 NASB ]

“After the census was finished, people went home. Joseph’s family urged us to stay. So, we stayed. Jesus was over a year old, when we were visited by several disciples of Daniel known as the Magi. They presented us with the gift of gold, francinsense and myre. That night, Joseph woke from a disturbing dream. He told us that an angel urged us to leave right away for our child was in danger. So, we left for Egypt. It was there we later heard what Herod had done. So, we stayed two more years until again an angel told Joseph it was safe to return. When we learned that the eldest son of Herod was to rule Judea, we chose to return to Nazareth.”