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.

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

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 004

S2 – Simon the Leper – The Hard Decision – Bethany

“You… have… leprosy…” These words kept echoing in Simon’s head through out the long night. As the sun broke the horizon, Simon refused to get out of the cot, but he was wide awake.

Before the priests left him, which was two days ago, Nadab asked him, “What have you done, Simon, to incurr God’s ire so? A man of your standing… falling lower below the level of a… common sinner. What have you done?”

“I… I don’t know!”

To this day, his mind was still in turmoil wondering how he got leprosy but more so on the why. He always thought he was in God’ good graces. His business was doing very well. His children are healthy. He did all that was required of him according to the law. Even when he lost his wife, he still brought the proper sacrifices. So, why did God allow this harshest of punishment on him? Unless, he was truly unworthy. For why else did he get leprosy? His mind went around and around with these thoughts like a vicious circle.

At end of the fourth day, hunger won out against depression. His brother, Tahan, was the one who brought the food.

“Simon,” Tahan said as he placed the basket of food on the floor then retreated back to the top of the stairs. “What is the plan, brother? You have not come out for days. This is not like you.”

“Well, brother, there is this thing in me called Leprosy,” he said sarcastically. He picked up the basket and went to sit in the shade. “Did you talk to Nadab?”

“Yes. He gave us instructions.”

“Did he mention about me going to the leper colony?”

“He still think you should go there. But from what I hear from our relatives, you don’t deserve to live the rest of your life in luxury and in safety.”

“How about you, Tahan? Do you agree?”

“You should know me better than that, brother. I am not our cousin.”

“Yes, I know that. Forgive me. There is such bitterness in me. And I am not talking against our dear cousin.”

“Simon, it is not yours or even my place to lay blame on our Lord. Do you remember our late father’s lesson from Job?”

Simon blinked with realization, for he was just thinking about Job. He and Job did share similar spiritual dilemna. Job was a rich man that lived his life to please the Lord. Somehow, the devil convinced Him to withdraw His protection from Job as a test. First, Job lost his business. Then, his children died in a freakish accident. Finally, Job himself was struck with terrible boils from head to foot. In despair, he sought the reason first among his friends who were not very helpful. Then, he cried out his frustration in a very long prose to Heaven. He probably didn’t expect Heaven to respond but, then in God-like manner, from the midst of a dramatic whirlwind, God answered him. In the long run, Job was humbled and repentant. At the end, God restored his health, increased his wealth and even his family increased by giving him more children.

Simon propped up his head, showing a little sign of hope. “Tahan, do you think I am being tested?”

“Being tested?” Tahan asked with a slight frown.

“Yes… like the way Job was tested.” Simon, not waiting for him to answer, exclaimed some more. “It makes sense, Tahan! By the life of me, I just don’t understand how the Lord could just punish me like this. For am I not like Job?”

Tahan nodded quietly but not showing any signs of conviction. But Simon was elated by the concept. When Tahan left him, he could here Simon busily moving around on the roof humming to himself.

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Three weeks went by and Simon continued life by conducting the matters of business from his upper room. He was quite content to live out his exile up there until one startling day, he heard the happy voice of his youngest child. Quickly turning around, he saw her running to him hands spread wide to hug him.

He shouts angrily, “Mary, stop!” …as he backed away from her.

Mary suddenly stopped at her tracks. She was shocked for she had never heard her father use such an angry voice on her. Then, the tears came.

Simon, so wanted to console her but he had to keep her safe. So, he angrily shouted out for Lazarus. Then Lazarus came running up and quickly assessed the situation. He grabbed up a crying Mary and slowly backed up to the stairs. That night, he made a crucial decision.

In the morning, he called for Tahan and his son.

“I am going away. I cannot stay and risk the chance that Mary may sneak up here again.”

“Are you thinking about going to the leper colony afterall?” asked Tahan.

“No. I was thinking about where our father took us hunting. Where I took you, Lazarus, two years ago. Tahan, you have to run the business and as for you, my son, learn from your uncle. Also when I go, you must have the servant carefully cleanse the upper room. Now, I am going to need some supplies.”


 

Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 4th 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.

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

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 003

Simon the Leper – S1 – Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Bethany

It didn’t take them long to get back down to the ground level. They left the wagon with Jorel and walked back toward the large plaza. At the base of the southern wall was a large gate guarded by some Roman soldiers. Inside was a tall chamber with two sets of steep stair cases left and right off the entrance. Simon and his son went up an indeterminate number of high steps to a landing before taking another set. Simon counted six landings, he thought, before emerging again into the sunlight. As their eyes adjusted to the light, they were facing the wonderous Temple complex where Simon would bring a young bull to offer as sacrifice for his family. Just inside the complex was the court of Israel, where only Jewish males were allowed to pray. Simon always felt awed whenever he saw the bright golden doors of the Holy of holies.

But the Temple was not their destination. They both solumnly bowed their heads to the Temple, then turned around. Built on the southern end of the Temple Mount was a long three story building with a red tiled roof. In there were the offices of the priests where they minister directly to the public. The lower levels are usually left to the minor priest who deal with the masses. The upper levels cater more to the upper class. It was to a second level office that they went to.

“Simon!” said a priest getting up from behind a large desk filled scrolls. He was of his same age but wider in girth.

“Nadab,” Simon said as he ritually bowed to him. “You would think that a high priest like yourself would not be so stout. What if the Lord calls us back to the wilderness? Will you survive?”

“Probably not. So, what brings you to my office?”

“Lazarus, my son. Why don’t you wait for me outside?” Lazarus bowed to the priest and quietly stepped out.

“What ails you my old friend? I don’t think you’ve ever visited me here at this office. At that matter, I don’t ever remember you being so ill that you would end up here.”

“I must show you something,” he said as he began to disrobe.

When he pealed off his tunic, he lifted his left arm up and said, “After my bath, I felt some itchiness right under here.” He pointed to an area about a hand’s length below his armpit.

“Come to the light, Simon.”

Simon moved to the window. Nadab took a step closer and peered a little closer but he kept his hands behind his back.

“Mmm… I see some whiteness but it seems to be only skin deep. I wouldn’t worry too much, however, the priesthood does have procedures handed down to us by Moses to follow. We have to separate you from any contact for about a week. You must isolate yourself in your upper room away from your family. After seven days, I and two others will come and make another examination.”

 

The ride back to Bethany was a little somber. Simon had told Lazarus what had transpired.

“Father, Nadab had said not to worry.”

“Still, my son, we must take all precautions especially with Mary. It is up to you to keep her away. She will not understand.”

When they got back to their house, instructions were given to move some of his personal things to the upper room on the roof while he waited on the wagon. Transfer to the roof went well except for a close call when Mary gleefully ran to Simon with arms wide open. But Lazarus caught her at mid stride before she could reach him. For seven days, Simon stayed in isolation. Food and water was usually left at the top of the stairs three times a day. Then Nadab came with two other priests.

All three priests stood two arms length from Simon as they circled around to examine him closely. They had told him to strip naked and had his ams raised. They slowly circled him at least three times. Then, they told him to dress and stepped away from him to confer quietly among themselves. Simon was not liking that they were whispering together for such a long time. Then, Nadab approached him.

“I’m afraid, my dear cousin, you have leprosy.”

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 3rd 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.

I’m still working out the kinks of the Patreon website. For now, if you so desire 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

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 002

Simon the Leper – S1 – Jerusalem

Jerusalem is about two miles from Bethany. Simon and his son were on the Jericho road riding on a wagon. The ancient road went from the Jordan River valley city of Jericho up the Judean Highlands over the Mount of Olives to the southern gates of Jerusalem. As Simon rode through the gates, he looked up at the towering ramparts of the old city of David sitting on a prominant narrow ridge overlooking the Tyropoeon Valley to the west, the Hinnom Valley to the south, and the Kidron Valley on the east. In those walls is his destination. He owns an old government building that he uses as both storage and trading.

“Hello Imraam,” Simon hailed a crippled man being carried on a palette by two men across a crowded cobbled stone street. “I thought you would be at the north side of the city at this time?”

As the wagon slowed down by him, Imraam answered nonchalantly over his shoulder, “I was there, my old friend, but I was summoned to my relatives.”

“What for, Imraam?”

“What else, Simon? They are wondering why I have not gone to the bossoms of my fathers.” He chuckled loudly. “But as you could see,” he raised himself up on his palete showing a wide grin. “I may not be able to walk but I may live longer than them.” They both laughed out loud.

Well, I going back home and tomorrow… back to my spot at the pool of Bethesda. Maybe, that will be the day that the angel will stir the waters and I’ll be lucky.”

“Well, Imraam… I wish you luck.” Simon coaxed the mules to turn right. Imraam and his servants was soon disappeared amongst the heavy traffic of people and animals.

“Poor Imraam,” Simon shook his head as he chuckled himself.

“Father? Do you ever think that an angel of Lord would stir the water as the legend states? And do you think, Imraam can ever get into the water first ahead of the others?”

“He has been going to that pool for about thirty years now since he became crippled. Can you believe it? I really hope he does.”

They weaved their wagon up a noisy busy street. To their left rose the jam packed square houses of the lower city of Jerusalem. According to a trader friend of his, over three hundred thousand people live in squalor there based on the last census by the current Roman governor. To their right was the shored up canal creek the water of which ran down from the temple mount and was lined with chattering women doing their laundry. The creek then collected at the pool of Siloam before draining out under the city walls.

“Father, look!” Lazarus was pointing at a flapping banner hanging on the side of a long tall structure across the canal creek. “The chariot races are coming back in a week from now.”

“I know, son. I do have eyes.”

“I know father how you hate the sport. But surely, those of our people who race in the arena, do they not bolster the pride of our people?”

“Pride, you say. Be careful, my son, remember what the prophets says, ‘Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.’ (Proverbs 16:18 NLT) And trust me, I have seen many racers fall, both of our people and foreigners.”

Simon coaxed the mule to turn right. They went over a wide bridge that crossed over the canal and started up a gentle incline with the arena to their right. And as his habit, Simon looked to his left and his eyes followed up a grand staircase the went up about 40 feet then it dramatically turned right as it bridged over empty space and went up another 30 feet to the Temple Mount. This architectural feat have never failed to impress him. The mount itself took up most of the view of the sky. They rode unto the landing of a vast plaza with the massive southern walls of the Temple Mount rising over 90 feet tall looking down upon them. They rode by a busy market place then stopped by one of the stall which he own. After Simon spoke with a the stall merchant who worked for him, he and his son drove their wagon into the old City of David.

In the days of King David to the Judean exile to Babylon, the city was both his residence and government buildings. Most of the palaces were torn down by the invading Babylonians. Only a few government buildings were still standing. Then, when the exiles returned, the old city was rebuilt but remnants of David’s line did not rebuild the palaces. By the time the Romans came, the City of David was mostly made up of the residences of the rising middle class.

They rode through the old city’s porticos, then Simon stopped the wagon infront of one of the surviving 3-story government building which he had taken over. A servant came out to tie the mule to a hitching pole. Both Simon and Lazarus alighted off the wagon and entered the building.

“Master?” said a stout man slowly getting up from behind a wide desk. “We were not expecting you for a couple of days.”

“I know, I know Joral,” Simon said. “Lazarus and I are here in the city to see my cousin at the Temple. Since we were in the neighborhood, I thought I’d check on the rennovations upstairs.”

Joral trailed behind them as they crossed the lower floor where laborers were busy unpacking bundles of processed wheat husks. Some of them carried several bundle to an adjoing room where a millstone can be see moving in circle.

“How many bags of flour produced today?” Simon asked Joral as they ascended a grand staircase.

“Only about 9 bags. One of our asses became ill. We had to wait for a replacement.”

“You see, my son,” Simon said to Lazarus. “This business requires constant overseeing. If Joral was not here, there could have been a longer delay in fulfilling the order. This is why you must pay more attention and remember that the clothing you wear and everything else comes from this business.”

“Yes father,” he said with a slight hint of exaspiration.

Simon was smiling inside when they reached the second floor. The went down a hallway a little to where they can hear hammering. Jorel pushed open ornately carved double doors to reveal a vast room.

“As you can see, Master. They took down the walls of 3 large rooms to form this large room. I believe this room can hold over a hundred people.”

“Excellent, Jorel. This large room should bring in some extra revenue. When will they finish the rennovations?”

“In 3 months or so, Master.”

“Good… just in time for the summer festivals. Very well, we must go. It will be a long climb to the top of the Temple Mount.”

 


 

Hello readers,

Again, I would like to invite your comments with constructive inputs which I’ll look forward to put into good use as I direct my creative thoughts.

I hope you enjoy what I hope will be the product of my Spirit sanctified imagination.

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 001

Greetings readers,

Every 2 or 3 days, I will post short segments of a new unpublicised ebook that I am writing entitled, Faithful Encounters (working title). This ebook is a sequential series of short stories of Bible characters who had close encounters with Jesus from during his ministry to until after he ascended. So far, the characters I will bring to this ebook are Simon the Leper, the thief on the cross, young Mary (sister of Martha), the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, John Mark (author of Mark), a priest of the Temple and the demon possessed man (with a legion of demons in him). I will probably add 2-3 other characters as well as this book develop.

I would like to invite your comments with constructive inputs which I’ll look forward to put into good use as I direct my creative thoughts.

I hope you enjoy what I hope will be the product of my Spirit sanctified imagination.

Johann

PS… I am still in the process of activating my Patreon account. Patreon is a way for you to support budding artists like myself so that we can continue put out… in my case, stories… for your entertainment.

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Simon the Leper – S1 – Bethany

The winter was in its last days in the village of Bethany just 2 miles from the busy city of Jerusalem. The last remnants of snow had disappeared around the hillsides surrounding the village. Warmer days will again bring back the greenery.

Simon, a successful and quite wealthy tradesman of barley and wheat, came out of his house just in time to meet with an incoming caravan of a dozen or so donkeys loaded with merchandise from the fields of Gilead.

He welcomed the head drover from the distant free cities up north.

Grasping his forearm in greetings, he asked, “Did you have any trouble on the route?”

“There were a couple of attempts to rob us, but your suggestion to stay close with the Roman patrol was to our advantage,” his friend exclaimed cheerfully.

“You see?” Simon chided, “the Romans are good for some things!” They both laughed together. They were discussing more business when suddenly Simon hears a delightful glee coming from the gates of his house. He turns just in time to catch the embrace of his six year old daughter who came out in excitement pointing at the packed donkeys milling around not too far away.

“Yes, yes Mary,” Simon was laughing. “You and your sister, Martha, have surprises hidden in the packs somewhere.”

“Oh, Abba! Can I see it now?” Mary asks eagerly.

“No no… My little sweet cherub. You and Martha will get your gifts later tonight. Meanwhile, did you leave your sister to do all the kitchen chores by herself again?”

Mary looks guiltily down, her sandalled foot fidgeting the dust on the ground.

Simon chuckled loudly then turns her towards the gate and said, “now, go help your sister and later after supper you can see the gift I have for you.” As Mary neared the gate, he looked around and asked her, “where is Lazarus? He was supposed to be here with me learning about the business.”

Mary stopped short and turned around looking guilty.

“Mary? Where is your brother?”

Mary quickly broke down under his continuous stare and cried out, “oh, Papa… He told me not to tell!”

“Mary? Tell me now.”

Looking down at her feet, she confessed in a quiet voice, “He went to the quarry with his friends.”

“Go a long and help your sister,” he said smiling. “I promise I will not tell your brother.”

Simon spoke to the head drover for another 15 minutes while his servants unpacked two of the packed donkeys. Then he instructed him to bring the caravan to his warehouse in Jerusalem. As he watched the caravan move away, he then turned and walked towards the southern gate of his village.

Bethany is a fair sized village with many large homes belonging to wealthy people some of which were not all Jews. As Simon walked through the busy street into the marketplace near the southern gate, he was fondly greeted by his neighbors.

Simon walked through the southern gate, turn right on a gravel path then proceeded to follow it for several minutes. It was not long until he heard laughing voices of young people just below him. He walked to the edge of the pathway which looked down into the quarry pit which is also the burial sites of his family and the people in his village. There he saw his son showing off to a young girl and six other young people laughing away at his waving arms and balancing act on a loose boulder.

Simon then called out, “Lazarus!”

A young lad of about twelve years looks up then waves his hand in greeting. Simon gestures to him to come up. The young lad says goodbye to his friends and quickly worked his way up the hill to where his father was waiting.

Heaving heavily, Lazarus reached his father with a big grin on his face.

“Well, my son, did you forget that you were supposed to be with me today and learn the business that feeds you and clothe you and give you shelter over your head?”

“I am sorry, father.”

“You are coming of age. You are not an apprentice anymore. You will one day take over the business and I can retire to a ripe old age,” he said chuckling. “Come. Let us return to the village then we go to the city.”