Sivan 17, 3790...............June 16, 30
Yehudah Taddei looked out from the dock at Yaffa at the expansive sea that seemed to stretch out forever. He could make out the sails of ships slowly making their way to port and bringing goods from all over the world. Bar Toma had helped him book passage on a merchantman leaving for Antioch. Until he had become one of Y'shua's followers, he had never set foot outside the Galilee where he worked on Grandfather Zebedee's fishing boats. His father, "Big" Yaqub was concerned about his making this trip but his uncle Yohanon, who was the same age as he, was preparing to go to Ephesus with Y'shua's mother. Yohanon had never forgiven Kaifa for that bitter night outside the house of Caiaphas. His resentment had grown to hatred which he kept to himself. He wanted to get away from Judea all together and Ephesus was, he thought, a good choice. Yehudah Taddei had been chosen to go to Edessa to fulfill Y'shua's promise to King Abgar. Could he really cure the king? He had been at the Shavuot with Kaifa and the 70 when the "Holy Breath" came upon them and gave them the powers that Y'shua had promised. He had laid hands on a leper in Migdal and watched in amazement as the sores and disfigurements disappeared when he mentioned the name of Y'shua ha-Notzri. Why should he have all these doubts? He watched as the merchantman was loaded with goods that would be offloaded in Antioch. Kaifa and young Marcus were also going to Antioch sometime soon and the plan was for him to meet them when his work in Edessa was completed. Then what?
He thoughts were soon interrupted by the voice of the ship's mate instructing him to board. The loading had taken longer than expected and the captain did not want to miss the tide. He walked across the boarding plank which was swaying from the movement of the boat which rocked gently from the incoming swells. Taddei was used to this having spent most of his life aboard the boats of Zebedee. The mate showed him his berth below which was built under the gunwales and provided just enough room for the cot and a place to sit. Setting down his pack he returned to the deck to watch the sails being set and the lines thrown off. The wind was brisk and he was surprised how quickly the coast of Yaffa drifted behind. The ship hugged the coast as it sailed north passing Caesarea, Ptolmais, Tyre and Sidon before heading due north to the mouth of the Orontes and up the river to Antioch. Taddei was awed by the amount of shipping he saw coming and going from all directions. There was a brisk wind all the way and the distance was covered in three days. When they had entered the mouth of the Orontes, he was amazed at the size of the river which made his native Jordan seem like a trickling creek. Antioch was better than 5 parasangs up river from the mouth of the Orontes. As they approached, Taddei was dumbfounded by the magnificent panorama. It looked like miles of white marble nestled at the foot of Mount Silpius. He had learned about all this from travelers who came to the Galilee to buy salted fish but never thought he would actually see it for himself. They say that Antioch is one of the largest cities in the whole Roman Empire.
It was not long before the ship was moored and Taddei was stepping off the gang plank onto the cobbled stones of the dock. Taddei felt lost. How do I get to Edessa from here? he thought. He had not even gathered his thoughts when he was approached by a man who, by his appearance and dress, was a Jew. "Are you Judas Thaddeus?" the man asked, using the Roman style of his name. "I am," replied a surprised Taddei, "How did you know?"
"You are the only passenger and I have been told to meet you and escort you to Edessa. I am Tobias, cousin of Judas Thomas."
"Toma thinks of everything," Taddei murmered with no small amount of relief. "I was already beginning to feel lost."
Taddei was relieved to find that Tobias had horse-drawn cartage to cover the 50 parasangs between Antioch and Edessa. He had heard many stories about the tribal bandits
from Cappadocia that preyed on travelers on this road which skirted their southern border.
During the four days travel, Taddei learned a great deal from Tobias about the area and its people. He also told Tobias about the Master and those things that came to pass in Judea.
He learned that Tobias was a member of the synagogue in Edessa and worked for the King in the keeping of treasury accounts. By the time they finally rounded a hill to see the large gates of the city, they were very fast friends. The city gates of Edessa were very impressive. The countryside for the entire trip from Antioch was a monotonous expanse of grassland. The grass, which covered everything, was a type Taddei had not seen before. It looked like the entire country had feathers. Occasionally, there were some bushes or a few small, stunted willow trees. Where there was water, however, a rich abundance of plants prospered. There were many birds that seemed to thrive off the seeds of the grass. One that fascinated Taddei was a very large gray bird with a long neck and long legs that weighed as much as a small child. Tobias had also pointed out some of the animals of the Steppes. Taddei had seen wildcats, wild asses and camels but what fascinated him most was a herd of very small horses that seemed no larger than a large ram. Their manes were short and stiff. Tobias claimed that these horses were brought to the land from the East in very ancient days. These were strange sights for Taddei. Once they passed the massive city gate, Taddei saw a city unlike Jerusalem or Caesarea, or even Antioch for that matter. There seemed to be a mixture of all these styles plus a style he did not recognize. The streets were narrow, occasionally opening to plazas where merchants of all sorts sold wares. Everywhere he looked there were strange sights to see. Tobias led the way through the maze of streets toward the northern edge of the city where Tobias lived. "You will honor us by being our guest during your stay here," Tobias said. Once through the courtyard gate, the familiar Mezuzeh on the right side of the front entrance reminded Taddei of home. Tobias' home was a luxuriant one, befitting a valuable employee of the king. They entered to find Tobias' wife and children, all the household servants and a number of friends and relatives anxiously waiting. Everyone wanted to meet this follower and friend of the Holy Man they had heard so much about. There was a rush of confusing introductions and Tobias' wife hurried to put out the refreshments she had labored on since yesterday. Among the guests was a woman, a cousin of Tobias' wife, who held a child of about three years of age. The little girl had a beautiful face with large dark eyes that danced around in wonder at all the people. Taddei noticed at once that the little girl had a withered right arm. It seemed to be twisted oddly against her little breast and there was little musculature. His heart was touched and he asked the woman to bring the child to him. The woman approached Taddei, holding the child in her arms.
"Y'shua said that children are of the Kingdom of Heaven," He said. He placed his hands on the child and prayed. "I call on my Master, Y'shua ha-Notzri, to restore this child and make her whole."
The child looked into Taddei's eyes and smiled that trusting smile that only children have. She began to squirm in her mother's arms and whimpered a little as new life coursed through her little arm. It began to straighten and gain substance right before the many eyes of all that were present. Eyes moistened with tears and mouths agape, the throng was silent in wonder. The little girl reached out with her once useless hand and touched the cheek of the disciple. Suddenly the group of people cheered and rejoiced, some dropped to their knees in thanksgiving to God while others just stared in bewildermant at Taddei. A few rushed out the door to go to neighbor's homes to tell of the miracle they had witnessed. It was not long before they were returning with other friends and relatives with all manner of affliction, filling Tobias' courtyard and spilling into the street. Taddei saw each in turn laying on his hands and curing fevers, lameness, cancers and even restoring the sight of a beggar blind since childhood. It was well into the evening before all had been seen, healthy and infirm alike asking to be baptised into the assembly of Yeshuines. It was past the third hour before all had been sent to their homes and Taddei had the opportunity to sit and break bread with Tobias and his family. He was glad to finally get to bed following the meal and the many questions about Y'shua. He was exhausted and fell fast asleep.
Taddei was awakened around the eighth hour by the sound of loud knocking that drummed through the open window of his room. He could hear one of Tobias' servants answering the door and had no sooner finished his morning Sh'ma when Tobias came to the door.
"The king has sent his steward begging you to accompany me to the palace," whispered Tobias. "Apparantly he heard about last night. No wonder, the entire city must know by now."
"Let us not keep the king any longer," Taddei said, removing his prayer shawl.
Tobias and Taddei followed the steward through the streets to the promontory where the king's palace loomed over the surrounding city. As they approached the massive gate, palace guards waited to show them in. They were lead to a large room where the king normally met heads of state. All manner of court syncophants, ministers and grandees stood around, all their eyes fixed on Tobias and Taddei as they entered the room. There was the muffled drone of whispers as they were offered comfortable chairs on the dais near the impressive throne of Abgar. As soon as they were situated, the steward hurriedly left the room and returned minutes later announcing the King.
"His majesty, Abgar Uchama, king of all Mesopotamia, Lord of the land and protector of the people."
Abgar entered the room with two attendants steadying his unsure gait. It was clear that he was in great pain and walking was difficult but he did not want to be carried to meet his guest. His body was wracked with arthritis, his joints swollen and his hands twisted at an odd angle. He was assisted to his throne and sat with great relief. He was a handsome man in spite of his physical distress. His countenance was strong and his eyes were kind. Abgar looked up at Taddei's face and was struck by a vision as he looked at Taddeis features. He thought he saw a great light surrounding Taddei and heard what sounded like a thousand voices singing in harmony. He got up, despite the pain, and bowed low to Taddei, suprising and dumbfounding the gathering of court officials and grandees.
"Are you really a disciple of Y'shua, the Son of God, who said to me `I will send you one of my disciples who will cure you and give you life?'"
Taddei rose from his seat and answered, "You wholeheartedly believed in the One who sent me, and for that reason I was sent to you. And again, if you believe in Him, in proportion to your belief will the prayers of your heart be granted."
"I believed in Him so strongly that I wanted to take an army to Jerusalem to rescue him but was prevented from doing so by the Romans."
Taddei smiled. "Y'shua has fulfilled the will of the Father and, after fulfilling it, was taken up."
"I too have believed in Him and the Father."
"For that reason, your majesty, I lay my hand on you in His name." Taddei approached the king and placed his hands on his head. Abgar felt a great warmth pass through his body and instantly was without pain for the first time in years. The swellings were gone and his hands were straight and strong. He pranced and danced around on the dais like a schoolboy and shouted praise to Y'shua and the Father and thanks to Taddei. Abgar was a good man, unlike most kings in those days. Even in the midst of his release from this disease and his rejoicing and relief, he called to the crowd of court employees, "Abdus! Come! Meet the disciple of the Lord!"
An elderly man exited from the group of astonished court officials and hobbled forward, his head bowed. Taddei could see that he was suffering from gout. His right foot was bandaged and he hopped more than walked to the dais. Taddei knelt before the astonished man and reached down and touched the bandaged foot, calling on the name of Y'shua. In no more than a moment, the man was joining the king on the dais, dancing and shouting praise to the Son of God that they had never met.
Taddei remained in Edessa with Tobias, preaching to all throughout Abgar's kingdom and healing the sick. Abgar would have frequent meetings with Taddei and would ask about Y'shua, learning as much as he could. Taddei baptised hundreds of people in the kingdom, establishing a community of Yeshuines with Tobias as Steward. Yehudah Taddei decided to remain in Edessa since the city was a hub to Asia. He could reach out from the Yeshuine Assembly here to Pontus, Phrygia, Cappadocia and Parthia. He also knew he would need some help so he sent a message to Jerusalem for some of the other disciples to join him. He looked out over the Eastern wall of the city at the great expanses and wondered how many cities? How many people? How far do we take the message?
TAMMUZ 11, 3790..........June 30, 30 AD
Yohanon bar Zebedee was the youngest of Y'shua's followers. He was only 19 when he and Andreas followed Y'shua on his first preaching tour in the Galilee. Now, even at 23 years of age, he still looked 19. Yohanon was slim and small of stature, unlike his tall brother. His hair was a sandy color, made moreso by years of working out on the lake under the sun. Andreas bar Yonah, his boatmate and lifelong friend had always called him "shrimp." He and Andreas had been followers of Yohanon the Baptiser. He sat on one of the large black basalt rocks that scatter the shore below K'far Nahum and looked over the lake. Everywhere he looked were memories of his life of fishing with his brother Yaqub and with Simon and Andreas bar Yonah. He gazed over at the very spot where he and his brother and father were mending nets and Y'shua approached them. Simon and Andreas were with him and he merely said "Yohanon! Yaqub! Follow me!" He can still remember the confused look on his father's face as he an Yaqub left the nets and followed the Rabbi. To this day, he wonders what it was that drove them to just drop the work and leave. Zebedee was very angry at first but he loved his nephew very much and soon acquiesced. His father and mother, Salome, were probably just rising back at the house. Now, four years later, he is equally astounded at being charged by Y'shua to care for his Aunt Miriam. His cousin Yaqub, Y'shua's brother, told Yohanon that he and the Master had discussed this about a month before Y'shua was crucified. The decision was made for a number of reasons. Yohanon was the youngest of all the disciples and the most likely to survive long enough to see Miriam through her lifetime. Y'shua loved Yohanon the most of all his cousins and, knowing that most of the disciples would not survive the hostility of the Sadducees, wanted Yohanon to leave Judea with his mother. It was decided that Yohanon would take Miriam to Ephesus on the coast of Asia. Ephesus was one of the biggest and most important centers of commerce in all the world. It was also a city of many temples and religions to serve the many people that come there from distant lands. This diversity of religious observances made it one of the most tolerant cities to differences and was judged to be a safe place for Yohanon to minister. It also was a gateway to both the East and the West. Messages could be sent easily from the Jerusalem Assembly to Yohanon by way of any of the many ships leaving Yaffa for Ephesus.
Yohanon watched the sun rise over the eastern heights of the Sea of Galilee and watched the boats go out for the day's fishing. He wished, at times, that he could go back to that life but the yearning was only momentary. He knew now that he had important work to do for Y'shua. He adored his older cousin who had always taken the time to play with him when he was little, even at the expense of being teased by boys his own age. He remembered Y'shua being taunted once for playing stickball with him in Nazareth. He was only 6 and Y'shua was 19. The older boys were going down to the field for wrestling matches. "It's better you stay here and play little boy's games, Yisu! We're going to play some man's games!" Y'shua just smiled because all of those boys really knew that he was the best wrestler in Nazareth.
Yohanon's reminiscences were suddenly interrupted by the deep voice of his brother.
"Hey little brother! You going to sit on the beach all day? You have a long day ahead of you tomorrow. It's a long way to Ptolmais. Yosef ha-Ramathaim has you booked on a merchant wine ship to Cos and then on to Ephesus." Yohanon could not help but feel uneasy. After all, he had never been very far from home.
"Don't worry, brother. There are friends of Yosef's who will meet you and get you and Aunt Miriam quartered. You will be fine."
"I know, Yaqub. I just wish I knew more about what to do when I get there. Will the people listen to me? Will they even care?"
"The Master will guide you, Yohanon." Yaqub reassured.
"What will you be doing, where will you go?" asked Yohanon.
"I'm going to be staying near the temple for right now," Yaqub answered, "but do you know where I want to go in a month or two?" Yaqub squatted on the sand near his brother. Yohanon could sense the excitement in his voice. "Where?"
"Well, the year you were born, many of my friends or their fathers were sent to Hispania and Sardinia after the rebellion by Yehudah. They are still kept there as slaves working the docks at Carales on Sardinia and loading goods between Caesar Augusta and Dertosa in Hispania. Y'shua wanted one of us to go to these `lost sheep' and that's what I am going to do."
"I've been nervous about going to Ephesus," said Yohanon, "but it seems to me that where you're going is really dangerous. Contact with the exiles of the rebellion is forbidden. You could be arrested and killed."
"Have no fear little brother. I can take care of myself. These poor brethren need to hear the good news."
"Well, I will worry about you just the same."
The next morning, Yohanon and Miriam set out for the long journey to Ephesus. It was difficult for Miriam to say goodbye to her sister Salome. Except for the time that she spent in Egypt, they had never been apart. It was doubly hard for Salome who was seeing her sister and her two sons off without knowing when she would ever see them again. She promised that she would keep busy helping the Assembly of Yeshuines in Jerusalem. Her friends Joanna, Susannah and Y'shua's aunt Miriam were already very busy helping with the charitable works of the community. The difficult farewells having been said, they had but a short journey south to Tiberias where they would get cartage across the Galilee to Ptolmais. Yaqub would accompany them as far as that port city and, after seeing them off, would go back to Jerusalem. The road took them past Nazareth, where Miriam took time to say goodbye to relatives, neighbors and old friends. She promised to write as often as she could since letters would take two months to reach Nazareth from Ephesus.
The road took them from Nazareth through Cana, where Miriam thought of her sister's wedding almost five years ago. There are so many memories here. She could not remember much outside the Galilee. Like her husband Yosef, she had been born in Bethlehem in Judea, as had Yisu, but their families had moved to the Galilee where there were fewer Romans. They reached Ptolmais late in the evening and put up at an inn near the docks. The two brothers shared a room and Miriam's was adjoining. All slept uneasily that night as they thought about the unknown paths they were taking. They were awakened early the next morning by the sounds of the harbor workers and the drumming beat of Roman soldiers marching to assume posts throughout the harbor. The brothers and Miriam, each in their rooms, looked out the narrow windows that overlooked the bay. There were ships in every berth and goods of all sorts being carted in, destined as cargo for all points throughout the Empire. Miriam could see the very wharf where she, Yosef and little Yisu had arrived from Egypt nearly thirty years ago. It bought back fond memories of the time they spent at Mataria with Yachobel and Mesha. Ptolmais was situated on a promontory on the north side of the bay. Across the bay, Mount Carmel loomed, a giant witness to the centuries of history that took place here. During the time of the judges, the port city was known as Acco. It was the finest port on the entire coast south of Alexandretta and sat strategically as the entrance from the sea to the fertile Plain of Esdraelon. Then, as now, it was the center of trade from both the north and the south and was always one of the first cities to be besieged by invaders. The Israelites had captured it from the Philistines. It had been captured by Pharoah Ramses, the Ptolemies, after whom it had been renamed, and Antiochus III.
The trio ate a modest breakfast before going to the ship that would take them on their journey. Afterwards, Yaqub bid them goodbye and set out for Jerusalem. Yohanon and Miriam were given very comfortable quarters on board. The instructions of Yosef ha-Ramathain carried a lot of weight with the master of the ship who routinely carried cargo for him. In fact, Yosef was a partner in the ownership of the craft. The comfortable quarters meant a lot since it would be a month before they reached Ephesus and they would make a stop in Kittium to take on ingots of copper.
AV 17, 3790......August 4, 30 AD
HESHVAN 16, 3791......October 31, 30 AD
This chapter will be about Stephen, a Greek speaking Jew and friend of Philip, who is stoned by the influence of young Saul of Tarsus, a zealous agent of the High Priest. A distraught Philip goes to Samaria where his preaching and healing cause quite a stir. Many Samaritans come to him which causes the jealousy of Simon Magus, a charlatan who tries to convince Philip to baptise him so he will have the same powers. Kaifa comes to Samaria also and Simon tries to buy the power of healing from him and is soundly rebuked. Philip is then told, in a dream, to go south toward Gaza where he meets Profundus, a Eunuch of great authority under Queen Candace of Parthia. The Eunuch questions Philip about Isaiah and why a son of God should allow himself to be slain. Philip explains and the eunuch is converted. Philip accompanies the Eunuch to Parthia and has quite a few adventures there.
Nisan 2, 3791.........March 14, 31 AD
Caesarea was the jewel of the eastern Mediterranean, built by Herod the Great to gain favor from his patron, Augustus. It was a city of plush residences and sumptuous public buildings surrounded by a semicircular wall that was interrupted by the shoreline. At the beach, the circle was completed by artificial breakwaters that surrounded twenty hectares of the most magnificent harbor of the Roman world. The entrance to the harbor was flanked on both sides by large stone towers topped by magnificent and colossal statues of Augustus Caesar. The jetties from each tower were bordered by towering arches giving the appearance of a crown. The structural foundation for the breakwaters alone required over 230 cubic meters of stones. The theater, forum, stadium and amphitheater formed the heart of the city. The hippodrome seated twenty thousand and had been the location of the 192nd Olympiad under Herod's support. If the famous arenas of Caesarea were its heart, its head was a magnificent temple to the divine Augustus. The sanctuary of the temple was open to the sea and had at its center an immense porphyry statue of the emperor, overlaid with beaten gold. The statue seemed to watch the harbor's entrance as if entry to the port was gained only by permission of Caesar. Caesarea and its harbor was unquestionably one of the greatest engineering achievements of all time, rivalling the pyramids of Egypt.
Caesarea was a fitting monument to Herod's genius for building as was the temple in Jerusalem. Many believed that the enormous pressures and details of building the temple of Caesarea at nearly the same time as building the sanctuary of the temple in Jerusalem contributed to Herod's increasing mental instability. Herod had been a man of profound contrasts and Caesarea was an example of those contrasts. The sanctuary of a temple dedicated to the Roman emperor who was worshipped by the gentile heathen as a God was completed before the sanctuary of the temple in Jerusalem dedicated to Yahweh. These two enormous engineering tasks, underway almost at the same time, was representative of Herod....Jewish and anti-Jewish. Herod considered himself a full Jew because of his Edomite blood yet he was hated by the Jews for his Greek blood. The Davidic line of the Hasmoneans, inherited from the Maccabees, both awed and infuriated Herod. The King who could be ingenious and generous was also ruthless and cruel. It seems ironic that the infants of Bethlehem were murdered for the same reason that Herod murdered his own sons, their Davidic blood. In Herod's mind, it was Alexander the Great against King David and he related with the Alexandrian side of his dual personality. Had Herod been allowed by the people to flaunt his Davidic lineage, however slight, history may have been very different. The trireme on which Kaifa had paid passage went through the harbor entrance. As he gazed, awestruck at the architectural wonders before him, he had no way of knowing that Caesarea would someday be a center for disparity among the followers of Y'shua, disparity of the same type that tortured Herod's mind...Jewish against anti-Jewish. Saul of Tarsus would be the champion of the Greek pagan world and the Lord's brother, Yaqub, of the Jewish world. Kaifa would find himself, like Herod, in the middle. Everywhere that Kaifa looked, his senses were assaulted by the splendor of the city warring with his Jewish sensibilities. His Jewishness dictated that those statues were abominations while their magnificence drew fleeting glances of curiosity. Why did his Jewishness and his ancestors' Jewishness separate them from all the rest of the world? How could the belief in the one true God and the establishment of sound moral behavior set a people so apart from others? Was Y'shua an answer to this?
Maybe the Way would be where Jewishness and non-Jewishness met on a common ground. He disembarked from the ship at the passengers wharf and was escorted by Florentius and the servants to the home of Cornelius. Florentius pointed out some of the sights of the city as they walked. The palatial residence of the Judean prefect at the top of the hill was Pilatus' home and headquarters. A right turn on Alexander street brought them past the theater. Kaifa couldn't help but see the inscription on the first step, "Dedicated to Tiberius Caesar by Pontius Pilatus, prefect of Judea." The theater was called the Tiberium. Kaifa felt very uncomfortable, not only with the Graeco-Roman surroundings but with constant reminders of the prefect that he once feared so much that denied knowing Y'shua. Finally, at the end of Alexander street, they came to the home of Cornelius. There were many brothers and sisters of the Way gathered. Some were Jews who wondered what Kaifa was going to do. Others were Grecians and relatives of Cornelius. As they approached the house, Cornelius came out and knelt immediately at Kaifa's feet. Kaifa was so astounded to see a Roman Centurion kneeling to him that it took him a few moments to compose himself. The thought was not lost that this was a man of great devotion and bravery. A Roman Officer kneeling before a Jew in public in a Roman city required exemplary humility and daring. He reached down and touched Cornelius shoulder, "Stand up! I, like you, am only a man." He knew that he had already passed the point of no return. He couldn't believe that he was about to enter the house of a Roman soldier. As he passed the lintel, the mezuzah on the right strengthened his resolve. There were many people gathered in the house, all looking at Kaifa with no small amount of awe. He didn't realize that he himself was becoming a personage of veneration because of his closeness to Y'shua. He knew that they were all anxiously expecting him to speak. "All of you know well that a Jew is not allowed to associate with or visit a gentile. But God has shown me that I cannot consider any man unworthy so when you sent for me, I came. I ask you, then, why did you send for me?"
Cornelius explained the vision he had of an angel and how the angel told him where he was and to send for him. "Now we are all here in the presence of God to hear what He has revealed to you." Kaifa gathered his thoughts and reflected before speaking, "I have realized that God does not discriminate between nations or races. Whoever obeys him and lives a righteous life is acceptable to him." He went on to tell them about the ministry, death and resurrection of Y'shua and how the prophecies were being fulfilled. He continued to preach and while he spoke, his audience captivated, the Holy Spirit came down on the listeners. If there had been any doubts in his mind that God intended Y'shua's message for the gentiles, they were now dismissed. Some of the Jews from Yaffa had accompanied them and they too found themselves in a gentile's house, astonished that the gentile believers had received the Holy Spirit. Kaifa turned to them, "These people have received the Holy Spirit just as we did. How can anyone deny them baptism with water?" He officiated over their baptisms in the name of Y'shua ha'Meshiach. The Grecians were calling Y'shua "Christos" which means "the anointed one." Kaifa knew he was treading on unfamiliar ground but also knew that it was right. He was experiencing some uncertainty, not that gentiles were to be recipients of God's favor through Y'shua, but whether gentiles had to become Jews first...which called for circumcision. Of course, Cornelius had not been circumcised and he did receive the Holy Spirit. He decided that this was something he would put before the disciples in Jerusalem. Perhaps one of them had been given some special teaching by Y'shua. He stayed in Caesarea a few more days to greet other followers who wanted to see him. Kaifa arrived in Jerusalem just before the hour of Shabbat ha-Gadol, the sabbath before Passover. As he entered the city by the three towers of Herod's palace, he noticed the increased military presence. Cohorts of legionaries were being drilled while others were lined up for roll calls. He went immediately to the house of Miriam and Simon which was still the meeting place of the believers. As he entered, he was given an enthusiastic welcome by nearly all present. He couldn't help but notice, however, that Yaqub, the Lord's brother, and a few of the others were a bit distant. Yaqub approached and kissed him in greeting, "We hear that you were a guest in the house of an uncircumcised gentile, a Roman soldier no less, and that you sat and ate with them." It was obvious that Yaqub was disturbed. "Sit down, brothers," Kaifa asked, "I'll tell you what has happened." He gave them a complete account of what had transpired concerning the vision and message from God and of the angel that spoke to Cornelius. He told them about the Holy Spirit being visited on the gentiles and that he baptized them. "Y'shua said: `Yohanon baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' I could see no reason to withhold baptism with water after they had already been baptized with fire." The apostles were astounded but believed Kaifa. Yehudah Toma stood up and faced the rest, "It seems then that God is also giving the gentiles the opportunity to repent and live." Yaqub was not so sure. It was difficult for him to set aside his Nazarite teachings and accept gentiles without circumcision. It was something that he would have to pray about but decided not to criticize Kaifa at this time.
"There is other news that makes me uneasy also," said Yaqub. "You remember that snake Saul of Tarsus?"
"Who can forget him?" answered Kaifa. "He has caused us a lot of pain. What has he done now?"
"He was on his way from Jerusalem to the Place of the Covenanters to arrest me and others when he suddenly fell down in the road and went blind." Yaqub seemed to shake his head in disbelief. "Now he claims to have been instructed by my brother to bring the Gentiles to our way."
Kaifa was stunned by the news. "I don't trust him! I think it's a trick to gain our confidence and learn more about us."
"Yosef bar Naba came up to Kaifa with his arm around a handsome young man, "But it's true Kaifa, let me introduce you to my nephew, Yohanon Marcus ben Simon. We both know this Saul and he is sincere." Marcus was Simon and Miriam's only son and a cousin to Y'shua. He had spent most of his youth at school in the household of his uncle, Yosef, in Salamis on the island of Cyprus. He was just a boy of eleven when his cousin was crucified but he remembered it well. He had slipped out of his room and followed Y'shua and the disciples to the olive garden the night his cousin was arrested. One of the temple guards grabbed him by his tunic and it ripped off as he struggled. He ran naked all the way home. After he became a son of the Law, he was sent to school on Cyprus. It was the young Marcus' stories about Y'shua that originally caused his Uncle Yosef to investigate during one of his visits to Jerusalem. Yosef, who was called Barnabas by the Greeks, was surprised to find that his brother's wife was the aunt of this man that many were calling the Meshiach.
Young Marcus was obviously awed by Kaifa and the rough mannered fisherman took an immediate liking to the cultured young man. Marcus and Kaifa talked for several hours in the calm of the sabbath evening. The next morning, Kaifa received reports on some of the travels of the other apostles. Yaqub bar Zebedee was in Sardinia and was expected to go into Hispania to take the news to the Jewish slaves in the city Caesaragusta (Saragossa). His brother Andrew was in Ephesus and was planning a mission to the Scythians. Philip and bar Tolmai were in Galatia but no letter had come yet as to their whereabouts. Their plan was to go to Heiropolis and Kaifa could only hope that they got there safely. He spent the day helping with the plans for the Apostles still in Jerusalem and made his own plan to go to Antioch where there was a considerable Jewish presence. If it were not for the vision in Yaffa and the experience in Caesarea, Kaifa would never have considered Antioch where there are so many Greek-speaking gentiles. Even the Jews of Antioch are Grecian. He decided to ask young Marcus to go with him and act as interpreter. He never was good at Greek and what Greek he knew was never sufficient to tell the story of Y'shua. After a few days of going over the business of the assembly with Yaqub, Kaifa and Marcus set out for Yaffa where they would buy passage by sea to Antioch. This would be Kaifa's first trip beyond the borders of his homeland but he remembered Y'shua's instructions to carry the news to the "ends of the world."
NISAN 20, 3792.........April 20, 32 AD
In this chapter, Ya'akov bar Zebediya (James, the "greater") travels to Sardinia and then to Spain to take the message to the exiled Jewish slaves who were so much on the mind of Y'shua. He called them the "lost sheep of Israel." 4,000 young Jewish men were exiled as slaves to Sardinia following the insurrection in the Galilee by Yehudah of Gamala when Y'shua was but twelve years old (6 CE). 2000 of the rebels were crucified, including Yehudah. Ya'akov was also just a boy and remembered some of those crucified and exiled. The survivors form the Qana'im, or zealot party, of which Ya'akov was a member. He carries the message to the Jewish slaves of Sardinia and Spain and also gains some converts among the barbarians. He has a vision of his Aunt Miryam (Y'shua's mother) in Caesar Augusta (Saragossa). The population of the province is deep in nature cults. Ya'akov builds a meeting house on the site of the vision. Caligula becomes enraged at Ya'akov for his mission to the slaves and writes to Agrippa in Jerusalem to arrest Ya'akov when he returns.
SIVAN 10, 3792...........June 8, 32 AD
This Chapter will be about Ya'akov bar Alfai (James, the "lesser") who preaches throughout the Galilee, Judea and Samaria. His close resemblance to his cousin Y'ahua causes considerable notice. There is an attempt by certain temple priests to assassinate Lazarus because he was proof of Y'shua's power. Lazarus flees to Kittium (Cyprus) and Miryam and Martha go with him. They establish a community of believers there among the Jewish copper mine workers.
23 SHEVAT, 3793 ..........Thursday, February 12, 33 AD
Kaifa and Marcus stepped off the ramp onto the docks of Seleucia Pieria on the Orontes River. Seleucia was one of the finest harbors in the East and the gateway to Antioch. An ornate archway formed the entrance to the paved thoroughfare that led to the city. Atop the arch was a beautiful statue of Tyche, the patron goddess of Antioch, sitting on a rock with the beautiful youth Orontes swimming at her feet. A team drawn carriage waited at the archway to fill it's many seats for a drachma per seat. Marcus, having been educated in Cyprus, was enjoying the opportunity to explain many of the Hellenic features of the harbor to the older Kaifa. It gave him a chance to display his classical education. Kaifa, in turn, enjoyed Marcus' lectures and was not in any way intimidated by the differences in their education, given Marcus' youth. In fact, he was growing very fond of the boy. Kaifa had always wanted a son, not that he didn't love his daughter, and Marcus was any man's ideal for a son. He was educated in the Torah, spoke the sacred language as well as Aramaic, Greek and Latin. The academy which he attended on Cyprus also taught him mathematics and philosophy. Marcus was a handsome young man with thick curly black hair, an olive complexion and blue eyes. He was tall and slender, almost lanky. He went beardless and kept his long hair out of his face with a headband, in the Greek fashion. He had an air of youthful impatience about him and always seemed to be in a hurry. It reminded Kaifa somewhat of how Y'shua used to be. The carriage was filled with passengers from the ship and took them toward the city. Kaifa was impressed with the paving of the wide road which was so smooth the ride was untypically comfortable. The hills and valleys of the countryside reminded him of his home by the lake and the river Jordan. As they approached Antioch, Kaifa's eyes widened. He expected that the city would be larger than any he had ever seen, after all Antioch had a population of half a million people but his Galilean experiences had never prepared him for this. Even the magnificence of the Temple in Jerusalem didn't prepare him for Antioch. They crossed the bridge over the Orontes that led into what was known as the Old City. On their left, the river widened around a large island upon which the palaces of the Seleucid Kings were now the residence and administrative center of the Imperial Legate who governed the Syrian province. Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire after Rome itself and Alexandria. The city was divided north from south by a street of colonnades unlike any other in the world. The street was 20 cubits wide, paved with marble and more than two miles long. It was covered for the entire length and even more spectacular was lit at night with street lamps. A similar colonnade street divided the city east from west and crossed the Orontes to the New City and the Palaces of the governor. The porticoes of these main streets held every kind of shop imaginable. The Orontes river valley formed a caravan route bringing trade goods from Mesopotamia and all of Asia. The covered and lighted streets made it possible to buy anything at any time in any type of weather. Antioch was a city of temples. Tiberius built the temple to Jupiter Capitolinus. There was a magnificent temple of Diana and a temple to every eastern and western deity that had adherents in the city, and there were many. The southwest corner of the city was on the slope of Mount Silpius and was a district originally built by Antiochus Epiphanes. This Seleucid king was the historical enemy of Judaeism who defiled the Temple in Jerusalem and tried to stamp out the Jewish religion. The district was called Epiphaneia and was the site of a magnificent amphitheater and a theater. The Agrippianon in this district was an enormously luxurious public bath. The gate in the western wall of this district led out into a suburb that was a topic of conversation throughout the eastern and western world. The pleasure gardens and parks of Daphne sat up on a mesa about three hundred feet over the average level of the rest of the city. It's villas, temples and theaters, scattered among cypress groves, were dedicated to every form of vice and moral depravity that could be harvested from the merging cults of east and west. "Daphne morals" had become words used all over the world to describe sexual depravity.
"Where are we going?" asked Marcus as they got off the carriage in what the driver said was the Greek Quarter.
"We need to find number 32 Aristotle street. There! Over there!" Kaifa tugged Marcus' tunic as they crossed the street. An archway led into a small courtyard. On top of the arch was a sculpture of a fish, a symbol used by Greek-speaking followers as a secret sign of recognition for other followers. The Greek words for Y'shua, Messiah, of God, Son and Savior were IESOUS CHRISTOS THEOU UIOU SOTER. The first letters of those words ICHTHUS was the Greek word for fish. Wherever other brothers and sisters of the Way traveled, they knew that there was shelter, fellowship and worship available to them at homes where the fish was displayed. Actually, the practice was sort of an honor for Kaifa since it came out of the story that was told about Y'shua telling him that he would be a "fisher of men." Kaifa knocked on the stout wooden door, taking notice of the mezuzah. He couldn't help but feel some curiosity, this being the gentile quarter, but was resolute in his determination that God intended for him to treat gentiles and Jews all the same. The door was opened by a young man who couldn't disguise his astonished expression. Nicolas had been one of the seven Greek-speaking followers chosen with Stephen as an overseer. Kaifa remembered that Nicolas was a gentile who had converted to Judaeism first before coming to the Way. That explained the mezuzah. Marcus spoke up, "EIRENE HUMIN!" (peace be to you) which brought the young man out of his incredulous silence. Kaifa, somewhat amused, recognized the Greek words and repeated the greeting in his native Aramaic, "Shaloma amkon." Nicolas excitedly asked them in and gave Kaifa and Marcus the kiss of peace. He led them through another room and into a large anteroom where about two dozen brothers and sisters were about to share an AGAPE, a love meal.
"Friends, we have guests from the mother ekklesia in Jerusalem," Nicolas announced. None of the people present had ever seen Kaifa. "This is PETROS, friend to the Lord and leader of the Way." The room echoed with gasps causing Kaifa some embarrassment. Nicolas continued, "...and MARKON, his interpreter. Everyone that had been sitting at the table got up and filed by, each giving Kaifa the kiss of peace, taking his hand and only reluctantly giving it up, women as well as men. There were many gentile practices that Kaifa would have to get used to. The gentiles paid homage to Y'shua by remembering him during the main evening meal and offering prayers before and after eating. They called it EUCHARISTIAN, thanksgiving.
"Please tell us of the Lord," they asked through Marcus who interpreted their Greek to Aramaic. Kaifa asked them all to take their chairs again at the table. Placed at the head of the table with Marcus at his side, he proceeded to tell them about Y'shua, pausing after each phrase for Marcus to repeat his words in Greek.
"Brothers and sisters! Y'shua ha' Notzri, a man who God sent you with works and wonders and signs which God did through him, as you all know." Kaifa waited for Marcus to catch up, and continued. "God had foreordained that Y'shua would be handed over and killed and that he would rise from the dead, set free from the pains of death. King David, whose son he was, spoke about Y'shua in prophecy: `He was not abandoned in the world of the dead and his flesh did not decay.' We are witnesses to the fact that Y'shua was raised from the dead and was raised to the right hand of God and received from Him the Holy Spirit which he has poured on us." He taught them Y'shua's prayer, just as Y'shua taught them on that hill by the lake four years ago:
"Abun d'wooshmayah ......Our Father in Heaven"
Marcus translated Kaifa's thundering Aramaic into Greek, sentence by sentence:
`Pater hemon ho en tois ouranois'
Kaifa: "N'thkodesh shemach .....Holy is your name;"
Marcus: `Ayiastheto to onoma sou'
Kaifa: "Tatho malkuthek ......Let your kingdom come;"
Marcus: `Eltheto he basileia sou'
Kaifa: "Niho tsobyanek ......Let your will be done;"
Marcus: `Yenetheto to thelema sou'
Kaifa: "Ay'cheno d'beshmayah af b'araa ......The same in heaven as on earth;"
Marcus: `Hos en ourano kai epi tes yis'
Kaifa: "Heb lan lachma d'sunkanen yomanah ......Our needed bread give us today;"
Marcus: `Ton harton hemon ton epiousion dos hemin simeron'
Kaifa: "vashvak lan hobin ay'cheno daf chenon shevkon l'choyvin...
...and forgive us our debts the same as we forgive our debtors;"
Marcus: `kai aphes hemin ta hopheilemata hemon hos kai hemeis apheimen tois hopheiletais hemon'
Kaifa: "Velo thelon l'nisyonah ....and let us not enter into wrong thinking"
Marcus: `Kai me heiseneykes hemas heis peirasmon'
Kaifa: "Aela fetson min beyshah .....but deliver us from the evil one"
Marcus: `Alla rusai hemas apo tou ponerou'
The tears in the eyes of all the believers confirmed to Kaifa that Marcus had done a good job of translating to Greek. They were all moved by hearing a prayer given by the Lord himself. Marcus thought to himself that someday he should write down all these things that Kaifa told people about Y'shua. Yes, he'll get some papyrus and start making notes of the Greek translations to make it easier. Maybe someday if he writes enough of Kaifa's remembrances, the papyri could be copied and sent to other gatherings of Greek-speaking followers. Kaifa and Marcus sat at their seats while Nicolas passed the bread and his wife poured wine for everyone. The bread was broken and eaten and the wine tasted as a loving remembrance to the Lord. Then everyone ate and enjoyed fellowship with each other. It seemed as though the questions to Kaifa would never end as the awed congregants asked for details about Y'shua. There was a particular fascination with personal details, his manner, appearance. What did he think about this...and that. Marcus was kept quite busy, first translating a question from Greek into Aramaic and then the answer from Aramaic to Greek. With every question, however, Marcus was learning too. It wasn't long before Kaifa learned to recognize his new name in Greek....Petros. During a rare break in the staccato barrage of questions, Marcus thought to himself, he really needed to pick up some papyrus or parchments tomorrow. If he wrote all this down, would anyone read it? When Kaifa finished, Nicolas said a benediction for all present at the meal:
"Tell the glad tidings to the children:
Tell them the poor have received the kingdom:
The children are the inheritors."
Everyone joined together, saying: "Marana tha ....The Lord, come!"
The Yeshuines will continue....