FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 029

NAHAN THE PRIEST
31 AD – Temple Mount, Jerusalemfaithful-encounters-cover-w

The fat portions and the blood were brought to Nahan. He directed a priest to first splatter blood against all sides of the altar. With that done, the fat portion was placed on the hot grill of the altar. Flames shot up as the fat drippings hit the coals. Then he descended the steps and a tray of unleavened loaves that Simon brought as a peace offering was handed over to him. Nahan took a quick glance at Simon and the other men. Simon smiled and nodded. He started singing a psalm and was joined in by everyone else.

Nahan slowly approached the porch of the Temple a little apprehensively. It was a feeling he always felt. Afterall, he was about to enter the most holiest place on Earth. And he knew that his heart was not as pure as it should. His final task is to enter The Holy Place and place the unleaven loaves on the golden table for the Bread of Presence. He looked up at the two tall bronze pillars that flanked the golden double doors. The pillars were named Jachin and Boaz. Jachin was of the line of the priesthood. Boaz represented the line of David. The pillar were as tall as six men standing on each other. The gilded folding doors were almost as tall. Two minor priests stood before the doors waiting. As soon as he was inches from the doors, they slowly opened it, keeping their eyes downcast so that they would not look in. Nahan entered.

Inside was dark in contrast to the bright sunlight outside. He paused just inside the portico. As the tall folding doors closed, his gaze was greeted with a yellowish glowing shimmer reflecting on the golden walls. The Holy Place was a long enclosed hall with no windows. The walls were laid out with fine gold panels decored with palm tree and chain designs. The shimmering effect were caused by ten tall golden lampstands, five on the south side and five on the north. At the end of the hall, was a deep violet curtain called the Veil. By the dim light, he could just make out the silhouettes of the cherubim designs on the Veil. The Veil which is almost five inches thick, covers the entrance to the inner chamber, The Most Holy Place. In there houses the holiest object in all the world, the Ark of the Covenant, which he knew he will never see for only the High Priest can ever enter there.

Sitting before the Veil are two objects, the golden altar of Inscense and the table also plated in gold which is his objective. He goes towards it in a slow paced gait quietly chanting a Hebraic psalm of God’s goodness, holiness and sovereignty. When he got to table still chanting, he solemnly replaced the loaves of bread. When done, he bowed to the Veil and slowly back stepped to the doors which opened just as he came to it. Once outside, he handed the tray with the bread to a waiting priest. He then proceeded back to where Simon and the family was waiting for him where he gave a final benediction. As the family left, Nahan took Simon to one of the alcoves.

“Simon, I know you went to that self-proclaimed prophet,” he said.

“Well, Nahan, I know that you know and by the way, he never publically proclaimed anything.”

“But he is making himself very visible for the people to see and to follow. The leadership is concerned of the kind of trouble this man can bring, especially when the Romans hear of it.”

“Oh, I think he nor the Romans are the problem.”

“What are you saying?”

“You knew I was a leper. I come back after 10 years totally healed but yet, instead of praising with me, you were more interested to wring out of me any information of him… for them.” Simon left.

Nahan was about to return to his quarters, when he was summoned by Caiaphas.

Upon entering the High Priest’s chambers, Caiaphas angrily handed a scroll to Nahan.

“He did it again! He miraculously fed five thousand men with only a handful of fish and some loaves!”

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 29th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.  We will take a pause in the story of Nahan the priest and return when face off with the Nazarine. We go back to Demacli, the legion demoniac four years 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.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

PS… If you want to support my writing, please purchase my ebook, THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL, in Amazon.com for only $1.99. The Centurion’s Gospel is the story of Cornelius Metellus, the Roman Centurion who almost saved Jesus Christ from the cross. Just click the link below.

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 028

NAHAN THE PRIEST
31 AD – Temple Mount, Jerusalemfaithful-encounters-cover-w

On the appointed eighth day, Nahan amusingly watched Simon enter the Temple complex with the entire clan and a crowd of friends. The source of his amusement was that Simon had shaved his head and his beard, as required. The mirth on the faces of all three of Simon’s children testify that they too were trying not to breakout laughing themselves. Then he noticed the animals the family handed over to the priests who already started to examine them for any blemishes. Nahan knew that the final part of the purifiction ceremony only required two male lambs and a one-year-old female lamb, all with no defects, along with a grain offering of choice flour and pressed oil extracted from olives. Instead, Simon took from his herd, two young bulls and a heifer cow that has yet to borne a calf. The women separated from the men and stayed at an elevated floor area designated just for them. The men, being prompted by the priests, moved forward up to the steps of the elevated columned portico that separated the Court of the Priests from the Court of Israel where only those men of Hebrew descent can gather.

Nahan watched them approach with a little apprehension. The men were festive and the women were singing a Psalm of rejoice. But that may change as soon as he makes his announcement. Seeing that he could not delay any longer, he took a step forward and raised his hand up to signal for everyone’s silence. When everyone went quiet, he took a deep breath.

“My friends and family, I must announce that the priesthood no longer consider this as a purification ceremony.” Mumbling voices rose in crescendo. “Please allow me to explain. Ten years ago, I and two others diagnosed Simon to have signs of unusual and spreading whitening of the skin. But I must confess that we were too hasty to declare leprosy. It is quite apparent that by Simon’s healing, the priesthood believes that it was just a skin ailment that lasted so long.”

Simon’s son, Lazarus, was about to protest but Simon held him back by calmly shaking his head.

“Simon?” asked Nahan. “Since you have been away from worship for so long, would you offer your animal and grain sacrifice as a freewill offering of thanksgiving.”

Simon nodded his ascent which was a relief to Nahan. He proceeded through the portico into the inner court or the Court of the Priests. Since he was the presiding priest, he went to the Brazen Sea. It was a massive bronze basin constantly filled with thousands of gallons of water which sat on the southeastern corner of the court. The basin itself sat on the hind quarters of twelve lifesize bronze oxens. Also known as the Laver, it stood taller than two men. Nahan went to a smaller basin that stood waste high, where another priest waited. He rolled up his sleeves and extended his hands and forearms over the basin. The other priest reached up to turn a valve, on the side of the mouth of one of the bronze oxen. Then water poured out of a spout ingeniously hidden in the mouth. After ritually washing his hands, he solemnly crossed to the massive altar on the eastern side. He went up the twelve steps to the top of the platform where he felt the heat from the coals that were just stoked by a priest. Hearing distressed animal sounds, he moved to the edge of the platform to observe the slaughter. The two bulls were already down and the cow was frantically mooing as it was led to the already bloody slaughter area. A priest was calmly stroking it head to help it quiet down. Another brought a clean basin and positioned it under the cow’s neck. He held a knife behind his back waiting for the animal to calm down. And when it did, the priest had adeptly cut into the cow’s jugular. The animal didn’t even feel the slice. Blood poured into the basin held by a priest and was quickly taken away as the cow collapse on the ground. Then, the animals were strung up and other priests start to cut into them.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 28th segment of my 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.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

PS… If you want to support my writing, please purchase my ebook, THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL, in Amazon.com for only $1.99. The Centurion’s Gospel is the story of Cornelius Metellus, a Roman Centurion who almost saved Jesus Christ from the cross. Just click the link below.

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 027

NAHAN THE PRIEST
31 AD – Temple Mount, Jerusalemfaithful-encounters-cover-w

The doors to the office of the High Priest are as tall as two men and carved with intricate geometric designs. Standing watch were two Temple guardsmen.

Nahan was summoned. He suspects it has something to do with the wandering rabbi in the Galilee area. Ever since he caused such a raucous on the Temple court just a few months ago, Nahan was tasked to investigate. One of the doors swang open and a minor priest let him. The room was long with narrow slit windows on one side.

“Father, your time as High Priest is over. I cannot do the same things that you used to do,” said Caiaphas.

“Herod is a fool,” cranked Annas. “He imprisoned the Baptist instead of having him killed. The Baptist goes around declaring the great sin of him marrying Herodias, his own brother’s wife, but all he does is put him in a cell. I have even heard that the Baptist is taken to his room every night so they can talk. It is like he is keeping him like a pet. We can’t even get our hands on him for as long as he is held at Machaerus in Perea.”

Caiaphas saw Nahan approaching. “Wait, father,” he said. “Nahan. It is good that you have come.”

“Anointed one,” Nahan said bowing. Then, he bowed to Annas. “Your emminence.”

“Last week, you performed a purification ceremony in the valley of Kidron,” said Caiaphas.

“Yes, holy one. Ten years ago, a relative came to me and he was declared unclean for leprosy. All the signs were there. More than a week ago, his brother came to me and requested me to perform this ceremony for a kin. He didn’t tell me who it was. So, I followed protocol. Since the ceremony was suppose to take place outside the Temple, I instructed them to set up camp in the Kidron Valley. Three days later, I and two other priests descended the eastern stairs to find a fairly large encampment. It looked like the entire clan was assembled including that of my own family. It seem I was the only one kept in the dark. Though I admit, I was a little intrigued to see who it was that needed ceremonial purification. When I came into the camp, my family and relatives were all clustered together watching me. They all had this mirthful expression and a few almost brokeout laughing. I suspected I was the butt of a family jest. I was about to harshly rebuke them for sinning when they parted and out walked, to my surprise, someone I didnot expect. It was Simon, my cousin, the very same one I declared unclean many years back.

“I asked him how was it that he was not a leper anymore. He would not say except that he was here in accordance to the Law. And he had prepared everything needed for the ceremony. So, we took him to a tent and we examined every inch of his body and no trace of the leprosy can be found. After, he dressed, we went out and I declared to the family he was free of the disease. Then, they brought two birds needed. I commanded that one of the two birds be slaughtered over a clay pot filled with water. As the blood mixed, I took the other bird and tied the scarlet yarn on its leg. Then, I tied the hyssop branch to the cedar stick. One of the priest both dipped the bird and the hyssop branch in the blood in the clay pot. Then I took the hyssop branch and sprinkled Simon with the blood seven times as is ascribed. After that, we released the other bird.

“It had to be the Nazarene!” blurted Annas.

“It was,” said Nahan. “I got it out of my niece during the celebration. Apparently, my nephew brought him to Galilee and this Jesus supposedly healed him in public.”

“We also knew it,” said Caiaphas. “Some of our people returned from up north and confirmed the event. They recognized your cousin. Anyway, what is the latest with your cousin?” .

“He is suppose to return tomorrow and bring his offerings to complete his purifiction.”

“Very well,” said Caiaphas. “You will make an announcement that you made a mistake ten years ago. That this Simon was not really leprous but was inflicted with a skin condition that healed itself after ten years.”

Noticing the baffled look on Nahan’s face, Annas explained, “Nahan, it is important that we discourage and cut off every information of that Galilean troublemaker.”

“I see, Holy one.” Though at the back of his mind, he was not liking it.
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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 27th segment of my 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.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 005

 

faithful-encounters-cover-w.jpg

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.

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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.

*** *** ***

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.

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Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

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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

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