10 Nisan, 3789 ....Tuesday, April 12, 29 AD
Yehudah Ish-Kirioth hesitated near Mt. Zion, staring at the residence of the high priest. The raising of Alazar proved that Y'shua was indeed the Meshiach, he thought. Why hadn't his master made his move by now? One wave of his hand and every Roman soldier, foreign ruler and Sadducee toadie would drop over like wheat to a scythe. There was no doubt in his mind that when Y'shua's hand was forced, he would destroy the enemies of Israel and usher in the new Kingdom of God. That must be his role! After all, he had been a zealot for eight years and a member of the Sicarii. The high priest only needs to know where Y`shua was to find him and send his guards. Once one of those guards tries to put a hand on him, the master will call in the heavenly host led by Michael the Archangel. He knocked on the large wooden door of Caiphas' house. "Tell the high priest I wish to see him," he told the servant.
Caiphas could not believe his good fortune. Here was one of the Nazarean's closest followers willing to turn him over. This would also take some of the blame off of his office. "When and where can we take the Galilean into custody," asked Caiaphas. "We will eat the seder on the eve of the Galilean Pesach somewhere in the upper city," answered Yehudah. He was feeling very smug, sure that he was setting the high priest up for the surprise of his life. "That evening, the master will go to pray in a special location and I will lead your guards to him. I'll meet them here around the tenth hour." Yehudah turned to leave. "Wait!" shouted Caiaphas. "It will be legal if you act as an agent of the high priest," he counted out some silver tetradrachms and handed them to Yehudah in a small leather purse.
"I don't have need of this," Yehudah sneered. "What I do I do for Israel." Caiaphas waved his hand as if the gesture was trivial, "The thirty coins are necessary to make it official. Do whatever you want with them. Give them to the poor." Yehudah stuffed the small purse in his sash and left. He wanted to get back to Bethany before he was missed. That nosy bar Tolmai was always asking questions. He felt pretty good as he strolled through the old City of David. It made him think of the prophecies which called for a warrior Meshaiach, like David. A prophecy about to be fulfilled. He crossed over at the Gihon spring and passed Zachariah's tomb on his way back to Bethany, getting back in time to slip in the room where Y'shua and the rest were making plans for the Seder. "Where do you want us to get it ready?" asked Kaifa. Y'shua motioned for Kaifa and Yohanon to come close so as not to be overheard, "Enter the city by David's Tower and you will find a man carrying a water vessel," referring to his father's brother-in-law Simon bar Naba who sold the water of purification to the Temple. "Tell him that your teacher is ready and he will take you to an upper room of his house. Make the preparation there."
Kaifa and Yohanon hurried out past Yehudah. It would take them a while to get around to the other side of the city wall. Y'shua and the others waited about an hour to give Kaifa and Yohanon time to prepare the table. Y'shua knew that his aunt Miriam would also help. Everyone decided to set out separately or by twos so as not to attract attention. Y'shua entered the city by the Fountain gate rather than chance passing Caiphas' house on the way to the Yaffa gate by Herod's palace. Actually, it was something of a short cut and he got to Simon's house ahead of some of the others. The long table was set in the middle of the room between two columns. Philip and bar Tolmai sat on the ledge in front of the small window and chatted. Kaifa and his brother Andrew
and the two Zebedees stood in one corner reminiscing about fishing. Yehudah Ish-Kirioth sat in the back corner dreaming about the retribution against the Romans which was sure to come when Y'shua was arrested. Yehudah Toma, Simon Qannai, Mattathiah Levi and the "little" Yaqub were already seated at the table. Thaddei was just coming in the door. Y'shua put on a white robe that was folded on his chair and sat at the ceremonial center of the table. He motioned for his closest cousins, Yohanon and Yaqub bar Zebedee to sit on each side. As relatives, Mattathiah Levi and "Little" Yaqub came next. Everyone else found their place and Yehudah Ish-Kirioth sat at the end of the table. No one seemed to notice his nervousness and stand-offishness. He was certain that his was a holy mission, destined to help Y'shua come to the moment of retribution. In front of Y'shua was a plate containing a roasted egg, charred shankbone, parsley, bitter herbs and a mixture of nuts, dates, cinnamon and wine. There were also three pieces of unleavened bread, a bowl of salt water and the traditional Kiddush cup next to a vessel of wine. Everyone waited silently for Y'shua to begin the observance but he seemed to be preoccupied, staring almost dreamily at the Kiddush cup. It was a pewter cup with a grapevine and pomegranate design around the sides. Used only once a year for this occasion, it was the very cup that Y'shua's father had used when he had lead the Pesach meal in this very room years ago. He remembered the cup from his first Pesach in Jerusalem when he was 12. It had belonged to his grandfather Yaqub and was passed on to his father. Yosef gave it to Miriam when she got married. He was glad that he was using it for his last Pesach meal, particularly since he was going to change the ceremony. He looked up to see that everyone was waiting and began. He poured some wine from the wine vessel into the Kiddush cup and lifted the cup reverently.
"Baruch atta adonai elohenu melech ha-olam, boray p'ri ha-adamah....Praise be Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the earth..." As is the custom for religious observances, He used the traditional Hebrew instead of his native Aramaic. Y'shua then reached for the unleavened bread and took it in his hands. The disciples were somewhat confused since the time for breaking the bread was normally after washing the hands and eating the Karpas dipped in salt water. Y'shua lifted the bread, broke it and said in Aramaic, "Sabun, Akhulun, Den hu gufi....Take, eat, this is my body!"
Each disciple broke off a piece of bread, looking at each other for cues as to why the ages old ceremony was now different. Y'shua gestured and they each ate the piece of bread. He then seemed to go back to the original ceremony as he lifted the cup of wine and said in Hebrew, "Baruch atta adonai elohenu melech ha-olam, she-he-che-yanu, ve-kiy'manu, ve-higi-anu la-z'man ha-zeh......Praised be Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us in life and sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season." Then he poured wine for all of the disciples and broke again from the traditional ceremony. In his own Aramaic he said, "Ishton minnah kullekhon....Drink ye all of it."
Puzzled, the disciples drank the wine, passing around the several cups that Y'shua had filled.
"Den hu idmi delike yama....This is my blood of a new covenant." Y'shua did not drink from the Kiddush cup but explained, "I will never again drink the fruit of the vine until I drink the new wine with you in my father's kingdom." It was obvious to the disciples that this was no ordinary Pesach meal.
"Hadeh haveyeton avedin l'dukrani....Do this in remembrance of me."
During the rest of the meal the disciples whispered among themselves trying to divine the meaning of what Y'shua did and said. Y'shua had never been vague about what was going to happen to him but none of the men really wanted to face that possibility. He came right out once and said that he would be crucified but who could accept that? Is that what he meant by breaking the bread and saying that was his body? His blood was a new covenant like the wine of the old covenant?
"I say to you that one of you will betray me"
The words came out like a hammer on an anvil. Young Yohanon looked up, wide-eyed, his mouth wide open. "Wh...who?" Even calm, staid bar Tolmai was shaken, "Certainly not me, Lord."
Kaifa leaned over the table, "Who is it, Lord?"
"It is the one that I will hand a sop" Y'shua dipped some bread in the lamb gravy and handed it to Yehudah Ish-Kirioth. "Is it I," asked a surprised Yehudah.
"You said it. What you need to do, do it quick"
Yehudah, shaken, got up and left. The rest of the afternoon in the upper room was spent trying to ignore the inevitable by enjoying each other's company and reminiscing. The remaining disciples were feeling that bravado which often comes when another is found guilty of some offense. They began to discuss which among them would be the greatest in the new kingdom. As messianic Jews, they believed that the kingdom which Y'shua would bring in would be a genuine temporal kingdom as well as a spiritual one. Each of them would play a role in ruling. Which would be the greatest in authority next to Y'shua? Who would be the vizier? The youthful Yohanon and his brother Yaqub believed it would be themselves since tradition would place the close relatives of the king next to power. Y'shua's own brothers and sisters had never accepted that their older brother was the messiah. This, in the mind of the sons of Zebedee, left them as next in command. Yaqub bar Zebedee always considered himself to be the "next in command" since he was the oldest of Y'shua's cousins, named after their mutual grandfather. "Who will have the most authority in the new kingdom?" He asked. Y'shua stood and motioned for all of the disciples to listen, "The kings of the other nations have complete power over the people and those chosen to exercise authority are called benefactors. You need to understand that this is not the way it will be with you, rather the greatest of you will be the least....the leader, the servant. If you see someone who sits down to eat and another serving, the one who sits down has the most power. But I am among you as one who serves. You have all been with me during many hard times and the rule that my Father has give to me, I will give to you. You will eat and drink at my table in my kingdom just as we did today and you will sit on thrones to judge all nations." The disciples again talked among themselves about the meaning of this while Y'shua motioned to Kaifa to sit next to him. The barrel-chested fisherman sat, expecting Y'shua to pronounce some special authority for him. Y'shua, wanting the conversation to be private, leaned close to his red-headed friend, "Simon, Simon! Listen! Satan wants you. He wants to sift you out like wheat. I have prayed that your faith won't fail so that when you come back to me you can be the strength for your brothers."
Simon was taken aback. Fail in faith? Him? Didn't the name they called him "Kaifa" stand for strength, like a rock?
"Lord, I'm ready to go with you wherever you go, to prison or even death."
Y'shua looked into the fisherman's face, not a look of accusation but a look of loving tolerance, "I tell you, Kaifa, The rooster will not crow in the morning until you have denied knowing me three times." Kaifa vehemently denied that such a thing could happen but fell silent for the rest of the meal.
Yehudah made his way quietly through the narrow city streets toward the gate at Mt. Zion and his appointment with the high priest. He stepped outside the gate and felt the spring breeze on his face. The problem with a city with such high walls is that the smells of humanity are kept in and the fresh air was blocked out along with the potential attackers. Yehudah missed the Galilee where the only odors in spring were honeysuckle and field lilies. He leaned back against the wall and stared at the light in Caiphas window. Was he doing the right thing? He had spent his life in the movement. His father had been with Yehudah the Galilean and helped found the movement the year that Judaea became a Roman procuratorial province. He was named after the founder of the zealots. Like his father and his namesake, Yehudah believed that there could be absolutely no compromise with Rome. Any tribute paid by Jews to Romans or any foreign master constituted idolatry. He believed that God called on all Jews to resist until the Meshaiach came to liberate the land. There was no doubt that Y'shua was that liberator but needed to be shaken out of this pacifist role. Yehudah wasn't sure until that day he saw the master drive the money changers off of Solomon's porch. There was fire in his eyes that day, the true Meshiach's fire. He kept seeing the looks he got from the other disciples when Y'shua sent him away and it pained him, but soon they'll understand. He figured he would take the guards to the garden tonight. The master was certain to be there. Once they arrested him, Y'shua would do what was necessary and the long servitude to the Roman tyrants would be over. Yehudah saw himself as playing an important role in fulfilling prophecy and the holy destiny of Israel. As he stepped away from the wall and walked towards the high priest's residence he was thinking how proud his father would be.
Y'shua and the remaining eleven got to the garden about the 12th hour. They had been here so often that each had a favorite spot. Yehudah Toma always sat under a gnarled old olive tree with a trunk that formed a hollow into which he could sit, rest his head and sleep almost secluded. Mattathiah Levi preferred a place in the back of the garden under a date tree. During the day, there was plenty of light there where he could catch up on his jottings of Y'shua's sayings. It had been a long day and everyone was tired. They all found their chosen niches in the secluded green sanctuary and sat or laid down to ponder the strange words of the Pesach meal. Y'shua motioned to Kaifa and his two cousins, Big Yaqub and Yohanon, to stay close to him. The three were tired and as they followed Y'shua over to the stone olive press they didn't notice how pained and unsettled he was. All of the disciples were so accustomed to his charisma and authority that it was understandable they would not recognize nuances of emotional distress. "Please watch over me while I pray" he whispered. The pain was almost more than he could bear. He never realized he was capable of this much sorrow and fear. He felt like he was falling inside. There's something about severe stress that makes you feel like your always on a precipice with just a bare fingerhold on reality. It takes very little to make you lose that fingerhold and even though your feet are firmly on the ground you feel like you're falling inside. The stomach always has that aching chill under it. Severe grief and sorrow have no respite. There is no escape from the gnawing pain that feels like an animal chewing your heart away. Then there are the tears that feel like a cup filled to the very brim. The slightest movement starts the flow and each drop bring a pain to the heart worse than the one before. Even sleep brings no solace for it comes only reluctantly after most of the night has been spent in turmoil. When it finally comes, it is invaded by the vivid images of your sorrow. Finally, there's the waking up into the searing pain of reality. There's also a profound loneliness to a sorrow that cannot be comforted by others. It's as if there's a barricade around you that you can't see over and no one else can get through. You keep reaching out, hoping that you can take a hand and guide someone in but you always lose your grip.
Y'shua went behind the large grey stone and knelt. The full moon reflected from every bead of perspiration looking like a band of twinkling lights across his brow. He fell forward pressing his face to the soil which clung to his sweat moistened face. "Abba...Father, if it's possible let this cup pass from my lips, but not because I want it but because you want it." He stood up, his legs felt weak. He walked around the stone to find Kaifa and the Zebedees leaned against it asleep. He was disappointed, but he understood. He shook Kaifa, "What? You couldn't watch over me for just one hour? The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak! Now watch and pray." He went back to his position behind the olive press, knelt and looked up again, "Abba.....Father, if this cup cannot pass from me except I drink it, let your will be done." Suddenly, he felt as if a great weight lifted from him. The pain abated and his heart felt light. He could feel the dull ache leaving his sides and the strength flowing into him. He stood up straight and strong this time. Kaifa had fallen back asleep but Y'shua only smiled. He shook the burley red-head and the Zebedees. "Wake all the others. The time has come."
Yehudah led the temple guards into the garden. The disciples were trying to shake themselves awake. Kaifa and the Zebedee boys stood at either side of Y'shua, scowling at Yehudah as he approached and kissed his master on the cheek. Caiaphas' aide, a small officious man with a pocked face, asked "Are you Y'shua ha Nozri?" Seeing him grab Y'shua's arm was enough for the quick tempered Kaifa. One of the temple guards near him had not unsheathed his sword. Kaifa grabbed it, pulled it out of the sheath before the guard could react and struck the man against the side of the head almost completely severing his ear. The man yelled out as blood poured from the wound. Several of the temple guards pulled their swords to strike Kaifa when Y'shua stepped in front of him and held the sword. He turned to the guard, "Hold your sword too. All who live by the sword shall perish by the sword." He leaned over to Kaifa and whispered, "Don't you think that I could pray to my father and have twelve legions of angels if I wanted them? But how would the scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way." He reached over and touched the man's wound and it stopped bleeding. The crowd of temple guards, paid informants and sycophants stood around, clubs and swords in hand, wondering what they were supposed to do. They thought they were going to have to put down a riot. Y'shua resented the invasion of the garden, the one place where he could seclude himself from the outside world.
"You people had plenty of time to arrest me during the day at the temple. You come here by the dozens with swords and clubs like I was an outlaw. I can see why you come in the dark like a bunch of cowards."
The stinging insult brought shouts from some of the high priest's rabble rousers who began to advance on the disciples with their clubs. Two of the temple guards held onto Y'shua while the others tried to keep things from getting out of control. The disciples ran as guards pulled swords. Even Yehudah Ish-Kirioth thought it best to retreat. When would the master call the armies of angels? He decided to follow the guards with Y'shua, but at a distance. He had waited too many years for this and he didn't want to miss it. He was certain he would get to see the righteous wrath of the Meshiach brought to bear on the oppressors of his people. There was also another who didn't run far, staying in the shadows as Y'shua was roughly shoved across the Kidron and toward Mt. Zion. Yohanon bar Zebedee didn't know what to do. He was slight of build and, at 18, was the youngest of the disciples. He and Y'shua had been close for as long as he could remember. They were more like brothers than cousins. The Y'shua that was now his master and teacher used to be the Yisu who was his older cousin. He always followed Yisu around, in childhood just as today. He followed the group all the way to Caiaphas' house and waited with other onlookers near the courtyard. Only one remained in the garden when all others had left, a single temple guard feeling his ear and the side of his head and examining his fingers for bood which no longer ran. He was confused. He had felt the searing pain of the sword that severed his ear and the wetness of blood. Now the blood was stilled and his ear was whole. There was no wound and no more pain. He stared at his hands, felt the side of his head and his ear and looked dumbfounded toward the clattering sound of the group that led the young rabbi out of the cluster of olive trees. The guards had tied Y'shua's hands behind him and shoved him to the center of the Caiaphas' courtyard. Yohanon looked around and could see a number of the Tseddikim from the Sanhedrin but saw no P'rushim. Where was Yosef ha-Ramathaim or Niqadmon? They wouldn't allow this. It was still an hour before daylight and they made everyone wait until the high priest appeared. The guards amused themselves by taunting Y'shua. One of them put a blindfold on him while others cuffed his head. "Who hit you?" they would shout. Tears streamed down Yohanon's face. He wanted to rush over and attack the guards but he was no match for their swords. Maybe they would let his master go after all this. In the back of the courtyard, a man in the shadows watched. When will Y'shua make his move? Why is he allowing himself to be bullied and mocked? "Come on, Master," whispered Yehudah, "call down the heavenly armies."
Yehudah and Yohanon were not the only members of the 12 to linger in Caiaphas' courtyard. Toward the back, near the entrance, was a stocky figure trembling in fear of also being arrested for striking Caiaphas' aide with the sword. In a corner of the courtyard, a few of the fortress laborers had built a small fire to stave off some of the morning chill. Kaifa went over to the fire to warm himself and to stay away from the main group of people. He hadn't been sitting long when one of the kitchen maids looked at him and said to the others, "This man was with him!"
Kaifa turned his face, "Woman, I don't even know that man." One of the grounds keepers kept studying Kaifa's face and after a while pointed at Kaifa, "You are indeed one of them, I remember you being there when he preached at the temple," Kaifa got up from the fire, "Man, I don't know what your talking about." He left the courtyard and stayed on the path just outside Caiphas' house, hoping to be able to hear what was happening without being recognized again. A haze of light was forming over the Mount of Olives when the high priest finally emerged. Annas came first. Although no longer the practicing high priest, he was the elder and the most respected. Annas' Hebrew name was Hananiah. He was appointed high priest when Judaea became a Roman province. He was deposed by the prefect Valerius Gratus the year after Augustus died. His son-in-law Yosef Caiaphas was appointed three years later, the impulsive Gratus having appointed and deposed three other high priests. The office of high priest is for a lifetime, however, so Annas and Caiaphas exercised the office together. Caiaphas followed his father-in-law into the courtyard. They stood in front of Y'shua with their hands on their hips looking like teachers about to scold a pupil. Annas stroked his whitened beard, "Tell us, are you the Meshiach?"
Y'shua answered without looking at the old Sadducee, "If I told you, you wouldn't believe me." That was not the firm self-incrimination that they wanted to hear. Caiaphas called out, "Bring out the witnesses." The guards led out two of Caiphas' paid informants. They normally were sellers of doves at the southwest arch of the temple. Whenever they heard one of the many preachers that frequent the temple say something worthy of note, they sold the information to Caiphas. "This man said that if you tore down the temple, he would rebuild it in three days." Caiaphas looked up, "what do you say about that?" Y'shua said nothing.
"I'm going to ask you again, by Ha-Shem are you the Meshiach, the Bareh d'Elaha...Son of God?"
"You said it," Y'shua answered, "but I tell you now that after this you will see the Bar Nash sitting on the right hand of the Almighty and coming in the clouds of heaven." Caiaphas made a show of tearing his coat, a traditional reaction to blasphemy. "Do you hear?" he called to the crowd, "we don't need any more witnesses." Caiaphas knew that Y'shua had really not committed blasphemy but needed an excuse to send him to Pilatus. The shadowy figure in the back of the courtyard continued to wait for the trumpets of angels as the temple guards resumed slapping Y'shua. Suddenly the cold realization that Y'shua was not a Messiah of war but one of peace shook Yehudah. Then the coldness of that thought became the horror that he may have betrayed the Son of God to Rome rather than being an instrument of the Messiah's purpose. "Let's take him to Pilatus," Annas ordered.
Yohanon followed the small group that led Y'shua out of the courtyard. Y'shua glanced over as the guards shoved him along and Yohanon thought he saw a smile. Yehudah was gone, having slipped away moments before. Outside, Kaifa was approached by two of the men who had been at the fire. One of them looked at him and turned to the other, "There's no doubt that this man was with Y'shua. You can tell be the way he talks that he's a Galilean too."
"I tell you again that I don't know what your talking about," Kaifa said. Suddenly the sound of a rooster's morning crow struck Kaifa like a thunderbolt. He looked up just as they were leading Y'shua along the path. For a moment, his and his master's eyes met before Y'shua was shoved roughly by one of the guards. When the group had passed, Kaifa stood dumbfounded on that slope of Mt. Zion. He gazed out over the Kidron valley toward the garden where he had spent so much time with Y'shua and cried bitterly. Unknown to Kaifa, the young Yohanon bar Zebediya was nearby and had heard him deny knowing Yshua. Yshuas young cousin was almost paralyzed with the pain of Kaifas denial. His eyes stung with restrained tears.
Wednesday, April 13, 29 AD
Pilatus' residence was in Caesarea, the provincial capitol. He resented having to leave the comfort of his luxurious seaside palace to stay in Jerusalen during Passover. His post demanded that he be in the city during this tense period when thousands of Jews were celebrating their freedom. The fortress Antonia was Pilatus' residence when in Jerusalem. It took most of the morning to get there since it was on the north side of the temple complex. The usual hawkers and merchants, setting up their stalls, were surprised to see the famous teacher being shoved along the streets by temple guards. The courtyard of the Antonia fortress was paved with large granite cobbles that had been smoothly polished. Soldiers of the VI and X legion often loitered here while waiting orders. Years ago, one of them had carved the circle of the "King's Game" in one of the blocks. The game was played with dice with the lots cast in portions of the circle that were marked with symbols. Some portions of the circle gave higher counts than others. It was a rough game, well suited for hard living line soldiers. The loser not only lost his money but was dressed as a king, crowned, mocked and run through a gauntlet where, if he was Roman, he was roughed and beaten by the winners. If the unfortunate loser was a Jew or a prisoner, he was executed. A balcony overhead led from the quarters of the prefect and was used by Pilatus to conduct trials on Roman concerns or to give orders to the Jerusalem cohort. The pavement was notorious for being the place where people were judged and often condemned. It was called "Gabbatha" by all those who dreaded the thought of having to stand in judgement before the prefect. Y'shua was led into the courtyard of the Antonia fortress by two of the temple guards, followed by Caiaphas and Annas. All of the close disciples, but for Yohanon, had fled in fear and confusion. The small crowd that followed the entourage consisted of some of the "seventy" disciples and about a dozen of Caiaphas' paid spies and "witnesses." Yohanon worked his way to the forefront of the onlookers, his youthful courage having replaced his initial fear of the guards. He wanted Y'shua to see him and take comfort that he was not alone in whatever end this ordeal was to bring.
Indeed, Y'shua did see him standing by one of the large pillars and Yohanon saw again what he thought was a smile. Pilatus walked out into the courtyard, preceded and followed by several captains of a hundred. He had been told that the Jewish priests could not come any closer because of some law about their holiday. Pilatus and Caiaphas had previously orchestrated the charade that was about to take place. Pilatus had every intention of seeing this man who threatened the enterprises of the Temple to his death. Pilatus motioned to Caiaphas and said, "What has this man done, priest, that you bring him here this time of morning?" Pilatus feigned ignorance of Yshuas "crimes" so to be heard by all. Caiaphas' gestured to one of his paid "witnesses." to step forward and answered,
"This man is perverting the peace by telling the people not to pay tribute to Caesar, claiming that he is the king of the Jews."
Pilatus turned to Y'shua, "Are you the king of the Jews?"
"Those are your words," Y'shua answered. Pilatus looked at the witness, an unwashed peasant obviously in this for the money. Pilatus had participated in enough of Caiaphas' "trials" to pick up his cues. His excuse was always to preserve the peace. Peace! The Pax Romanum! As prefect, it was his job to keep the peace no matter what the cost. A slight wave to the witness gave him permission to speak. "This man said "Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and give to God the things that are God's."
Pilatus whispered to Caiaphas, "I can't condemn this man on that flimsy statement." "But this Galilean will incite riots with his teachings," answered the frustrated Caiaphas.
"Galilean? Did you say Galilean?" asked Pilatus. "The Galilee is Antipas' responsibility. Take him to Herod!" Pilatus was going to play this charade completely through.
The palace of the Herods was across the city and southwest of the Antonia fortress on the western wall of the city near the Gennath gate. A main thoroughfare led from Mt. Moriah along the oldest of the two north walls to the palace. The group could see the three towers of the palace commanding the view to the west. As usual, runners dashed ahead to announce the imminent arrival of a delegation from the prefect.
Herod Antipas, at 54 years of age, looked much like his father, Herod the Great, having inherited his vanity but not his administrative skills. This was a time of increasing anxiety for Antipas who had divorced his wife in order to marry his niece, Herodias. This seemingly common social indisgression was all the more trouble for Antipas given his first wife was the daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia, and the union of uncle and niece was against Jewish law. Matters were made worse by Herodias' leaving her husband who happened to be her other uncle, Antipas' half-brother, Beothus. Herodias' motives for her incestuous husband-hopping was her overwhelming desire to be "queen of Judaea" without being sure which of the Herod sons was destined for the throne. By this marriage, she was competing with her brother, Agrippa, for power in Judaea. Antipas, a lazy and lascivious poppinjay, was more interested in the sexual favors of Herodias' daughter by Boethus, Salome. Boethus, the wronged husband, lived in Rome and was well regarded by Caesar, an additional source of concern. Antipas, like his father, Herod the Great, and his brother Archelaeus, was cruel and vicious to his own ends. Unlike his father and brother, however, was a superstitious awe of Jewish prophecy and holy men. It was this propensity that forced him only reluctantly to have Yohanon the Baptiser executed. He had held the baptiser in a mysterious regard despite Yohanon's constant derision concerning his relationship with his niece and grandniece. He had been tricked into beheading the holy man by Salome who offered sexual favors if she could have "anything she wanted." There were rumors that this Y'shua was really Yohanon come back to life. There were rumors that the king of Arabia was planning to go to war with him because of the insult to his daughter and now there was the possibility of civil unrest over this Messiah business. Antipas, a superstitious man, had heard about many of the miraculous things that Y'shua did for the people. This was a perfect opportunity for Antipas. He would convince this holy man to throw his lot in with him. Only Antipas' enormous ego would concieve of himself and the Messiah, side by side, ruling Israel. He would be greater than his father and have all the people on his side.
Y'shua was led into the court anteroom followed still by the two high priests. The walk from Mt. Zion to Antonia, then to the Citadel was beginning to tell on the aging Annas. No one bowed when Antipas entered the room. As Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, he had no authority in Judaea which was under Roman rule. He was treated as a visiting dignitary and allowed the use of the family palace in respect for his family's long association with the imperial household. Herod stared at Y'shua. It was obvious that he was awed and even a bit frightened by the Galilean. He even hesitated in approaching the trussed Y'shua who kept his eyes to the floor.
"Are you the Messiah?" Herod asked, a noticeable tremor to his voice. Y'shua didn't answer.
Herod continued, "Can you raise people from the dead?"
"Did you really make blind men see?" Still no answer. Herod got bolder as his frustration grew. "Join me and I will make you a real king," he whispered. "Right at my side. You will be able to do what you will with the temple. You can preach what you want with no interference. All you have to do is do some miracles with me by your side."
Y'shua continued to stare down at the floor, never once acknowledging the Tetrarch's existence. Herod became furious when he realized he was being totally ignored. The idea of a joint rule with this ragged prophet was absurd anyway, he thought.
"So your the new king of the Jews?" mocked Antipas. "A king needs to look like a king!" He took off his fine Tyrian purple robe and placed it on Y'shua's shoulders. "What's the charge against this king?" he asked the high priest.
"Sedition" answered Caiaphas.
"That's Rome's problem," Herod growled. "Take him back to the prefect. Let Pilatus handle it. He might be from the Galilee but his crimes were committed in Judaea. Annas looked at Caiaphas with no small amount of chagrin. He wasn't looking forward to another long walk across the city to the praetorium.
Thursday, April 14, 29
Pilatus was anxious to resolve this Messiah business and put an end to the man that put a spotlight on the temple corruption. He was looking forward to taking his wife, Procula, back to Caesarea. Ever since she heard the Galilean preach, she had been obsessed, even dreaming about him. She had always been involved in mystical things, though. She was a Mithraic and somehow made a connection between this Y'shua and Mithras. Claudia Procula was the grandaughter of none other than Augustus and the daughter of Tiberius' third wife. It was due to her position and influence that she was allowed to accompany him to Judea. Generally, a wife was not allowed to accompany an officer given duty in a praefecture. Pilatus paced back and forth in their living quarters in the Antonia fortress. The priests were back again, waiting on the gabbatha with the Galilean. This whole thing was a political viper, ready to rear its head and strike. Every time one of these "messiahs" was executed, widespread riots soon followed. Another uprising in Judaea was the last thing Sejanus wanted. It could be the one thing to shake Tiberius off his rock retreat on Capris and Sejanus wanted the princeps to stay right where he was. Pilatus stopped pacing, "Who can figure these Jews out anyway?" He was half thinking out loud and half talking to Procula.
"All they talk about is the Messiah. When is he coming? How he's going to set them free. Then somebody comes along who's supposed to be the Messiah and they want to kill him. These priests are always quoting long dead prophets from their sacred writings, the very same prophets they themselves persecuted and killed. Now Caiphas and Annas stand out there with those noses stuck up in the air wanting me to kill this one and take the blame for it."
"This man is innocent," said Procula, "Have nothing to do with him."
"Easier said than done, my dear. We can't afford to have problems in this part of the provinces just because of one ragamuffin preacher." Pilatus sighed, "I better go out and get this over with." Again, Pilatus walked down the stairs to the gabbatha to meet face to face with the accused and accusers. He well remembered the things that Caiaphas wanted him to say for the benefit of the people.
"Caiaphas, I have already examined this man right here in your presence and found him not guilty of breaking Roman law. Herod must not have found him guilty of anything either or you wouldn't be back here. Rome won't kill people just for preaching. He hasn't killed anybody or started any riots. He hasn't stolen anything. You try him! Take him before your Sanhedrin." A trial before the Sanhedrin was the last thing that Caiaphas and Pilatus wanted. He knew he could get the other Sadducees to condemn Y'shua but the majority seats were Pharisees who agree with a lot of the man's teachings. Rabban Gamaliel would be sure to take his side.
"We are not allowed to put anyone to death," argued Caiaphas.
"That's not true and you know it," answered Pilatus. "If your Sanhedrin finds him guilty of insulting your God, you have the right to stone him to death."
"But his crime is against Rome. He claims to be the king of the Jews and only Caesar is our king,"
Pilatus walked over to Y'shua, "Do you still claim to be the king of the Jews?" Y'shua didn't answer.
"Answer me! Don't you know that I have the power to put you to death?"
Y'shua looked up and into the eyes of the prefect, "You only have the power that God gave you when you were born.
"Are you or are you not the king of the Jews?"
"My kingdom is not in this world. If we were in my kingdom, no irons could hold me and no swords could hurt me. If you want to call me a king, then do so but I came into the world to tell the truth. Whoever wants the truth listens to me."
"And what is truth?" Pilatus turned again to Caiaphas. "I still can't find a reason to condemn him to death." Caiaphas decided to risk the prefect's anger with his last gambit, "We have no king but Caesar and this man claims to be king. If you don't condemn him you are no friend to Caesar and we will send that message to the princeps."
Pilatus squinted his eyes at the pompous priest and clenched his fists. Pilatus was an expert on Jewish customs and law. He had prepared well for this post when his friend Sejanus appointed him. A large part of the bribes, extortion money, taxes and tribute went directly to Sejanus, with Pilatus getting a share. Any problems that got back to Tiberius could focus too much attention to his praefecture and bring the whole thing crashing down around them. He had already had his share of trouble last month when he siezed the corban money from the temple treasury to start construction on the aquaduct. This man was a Galilean and Galileans were trouble. Pilatus thought about the Passover coming up tomorrow evening and an idea formed. "Wait a minute! There is a custom that Rome will pardon and free one condemned prisoner on Passover. Aemilius!" He called to his adjutant. "What prisoners are in the death dungeon?" The centurion spoke out, "The sicarius, Y'shua bar Abba and two of his thieving band." "That's it!" Pilatus turned to Caiaphas and his crowd of supporters. Yohanon, holding his breath, moved up closer to hear the proceedings.
"Which Y'shua do you want me to set free? bar Abba or your "king?"
Caiaphas' sycophants picked up on the cue, "Give us bar Abba!
Pilatus came to the conclusion that the execution of this Galilean would probably not lead to civil disturbances and he had crucified hundreds of Galileans. What's one more?
"Aemilius, have the guards take him for crucifixion!" Yohanon was paralyzed when he heard one of the few Latin words he recognized. Pilatus whirled and left the praetorium. Caiaphas was smug. The irony of this situation was not lost on him. One of the meanings of the word messhiach was "son of the Father." bar Abba's name also meant "son of the father." Both men were named Y'shua. Caiaphas had chosen the life of Y'shua, son of the father over Y'shua, son of the Father. The priests left only after they were sure Y'shua was in the hands of the dungeon guards. Two guards, both members of the Antonia cohort stripped Y'shua of his coat and tunic and placed Herod's purple robe back over his bare shoulders. One of the guards, named Septimus, was very tall, the other, Lucius, considerably shorter. They shoved him over to the place in the pavement where the "king's game" was carved. Several legionaries gathered around for the sport as Septimus threw the bone dice onto the carved circle and its symbols. Raucous laughter filled the courtyard. The tall guard won the clothing which would include the fine purple cloak, worth three months of a soldier's wage. "Hail the king of the Jews!" shouted the tall Septimus. One of the legionaries had interwoven a "crown" out of the long thorned brush that grew near the pool nearby and placed it roughly on Y'shua's head. The thorns dug into his scalp and forehead like small knives. Blood rushed from a deep puncture wound near the hairline over his left eye. Another soldier picked up a branch of hyssop and broke off the small branches to form a "sceptre." They would first hand the stave to Y'shua, forcing him to hold it like a king's sceptre. Then they would snatch it from his hands and hit the cap of thorns, driving the spines deeper into his flesh. Septimus grabbed the purple robe off his shoulders before it was stained with the blood now dripping from the multiple scalp wounds.
"Do some miracles!" he taunted. "I heard that you once changed water into wine. Change the water in that cistern to wine and there be enough to last us all year." "Change my sword into gold!" Asked another.
"You kept me running around this ugly countryside for months," Septimus hissed through his teeth. "If it weren't for fanatics like you, I would be back in Italy by now." He suddenly punched Y'shua in the face, breaking his nose. The force of the punch knocked him to his knees and all he could see through the pain were bright flashing lights. One of the other legionaries, encouraged by Septimus' outburst of cruelty, reached over, grabbed a large shock of his beard and yanked. The hair was torn from the follicles, leaving a blood-beaded bare spot on his cheek. This was an assault often inflicted on Jews by Romans because of the great store Jews placed on beards. Most Romans referred to be clean- shaven.
Friday, April 15, 29
The taunting relented after that until about the first hour when the guards lashed him to one of the stone pillars. All prisoners for crucifixion were scourged before the sentence was carried out. The cool polished stone against his burning skin offered a little relief before the guards set about their task. A flagrum was handed to Septimus, who had apparently volunteered for the flogging, and to the much shorter Lucius. Each flagrum had three thongs with small lead barbells on the tips. The first lash, administered heavily by Septimus, shocked his whole body. The lead weights made a sickening sound as they crashed against Y'shua's back, tearing out pellets of skin as they fell away. Lucius followed behind Septimus but being somewhat shocked by Septimus' cruelty, laid the lashes on lighter. Each lash, however, whether it was the furious blows of Septimus or the criss-crossing lashes of the shorter Lucius, dug out flesh. Each soldier was to lay on 20 lashes. A total of 120 lead weights crashed into Y'shua's shoulders, upper and lower back and the backs of his thighs. Each weight dug out flesh and left a bleeding wound on the tail of a bleeding welt. The shock and pain of the first ten lashes was so great that Y'shua went into a semi-conscious state. He lost control of his bladder while hanging helplessly by his hands, now purpling from the leather thongs tied tightly around his wrists. Sweat, blood and urine coated the polished column of granite. Lucius cut the thongs and Y'shua fell limply to the ground, crumpled at the base of the pillar. Everything was spinning. The columns of the praetorium seemed to be flying around in the sky like vultures circling a carcass. The pain of the wounds on his back had long since numbed to the throbbing deep pain and ache of cracked ribs and bruised kidneys. Every breath, hindered by blood pooling in the chest, was agony. He fought to clear his mind from the strange mixture of relief and anxiety. Relief that he may succumb first to the severity of the beating and anxiety that he may not survive long enough to fulfill the prophecies. Septimus threw a skin of water over him and raised him to his feet by pulling roughly on his pig-tail. Y'shua felt like he was going to break in half from being forced to straighten his body. His legs trembled under his weight. "It's time to take a little walk, your majesty," gloated Septimus. A crossbeam was brought up and placed on his shoulders and his wrists lashed to it. The weight of it pressed down on the wounds from the beating causing them to bleed again. Roughly cut, it dug splinters into his back and shoulders as the weight of it shifted under his unsteady gait. "Let's take him to skull hill where everybody can see their king," laughed Septimus. Lucius stood back, suddenly not so proud to be a soldier anymore. One of Pilatus' household servants came down with the accusation plaque which the prefect had ordered to be placed on the cross. The charge was written in all three official languages, Latin.... IESUS NAZORAEUS REX IUDAEORUM...the language of the empire; Greek.....IESOUS HO NAZORAIOS HO BASILEUS TON IUDAION....the language of trade; and Aramaic.....Y'SHUA NOZRIA MELEKA D'YEHUDIAH...the language of the people.
"JESUS THE NAZOREAN, KING OF THE JEWS"
The people had already started to gather. Few people in Jerusalem slept that night. Yohanon had gone to comfort Y'shua's mother who was staying with her late husband's brother, Clopas. The rest of the disciples were scattered around the city, confused and afraid. Yehudah Ish-Kirioth watched from a distance, still hoping that Y'shua would call down a heavenly host to destroy the enemy, and terrified that he would not. Y'shua was shoved out of the praetorium courtyard and prodded along the street. The heavy crossbeam pulling his weakened body one way and then the other. Several times he fell to his knees, the weight of his burden crushing his knees into the hard cobbles. His chest continued to fill with blood forcing him to take shallow painful breaths. There was not enough oxygen to sustain the extra energy required to carry the heavy beam and he lost consciousness. The soldiers unlashed the beam and gave it to Cyrenian who happened to be passing by. A large black man, he looked at Y'shua with compassion as he lifted the timber to his shoulders. The guards led Y'shua up the Tyropoeon street and out of the "fish" gate in the new wall. Skull hill was not far off the Shechem road outside the gate. The large white granite promontory by Jeremiah's cave had two large eye-like hollows that seemed to look down on the road. The rocks at the bottom of the hill seemed to form a skeletal grin. This was a place where unfortunates were either crucified or stoned. Y'shua looked through burning eyes at the cold cliffside and its hollow eyesockets. He had been here before. His friend, Yosef ha-Ramathaim had his residence and garden just over the ridge. The two zealots captured with Y'shua bar Abba were already hanging on upright crosses. The crossbeam had been taken from the Cyrenian, fit into the upright, now lying on the ground, and nailed into place. A deep narrow hole had been dug between the two zealot's crosses. Septimus grabbed Y'shua, kicked his feet out from under him and called several others to hold him down. His arms were stretched along the crossbeam and held tightly as a large Gaul from the auxiliary positioned the point of an iron spike in the soft hollow of one wrist and Septimus positioned the other. The clang of the heavy hammers on the iron spikes was followed by searing pain. Y'shua's fingers trembled as the nerves in the spaces between the wristbones were severed and his thumbs turned paralytic into his palms. His right foot was placed over his left on an angled spar and again the agony of an iron spike piercing both feet. Blood poured from the wounds, staining the white granite. Several of the soldiers lifted the cross and Y'shua to an upright position. He didn't know how he could stay conscious through so much pain as his full weight bore down on the wounds. Suddenly the upright was dropped three feet into the hole. The thud of the cross reaching bottom came with the tearing of tendons and increased flow of blood. Shims were hammered into the hole to wedge the upright tightly in place. The intense pain relented after about an hour. Y'shua was finding it harder to breathe. If he let his body rest, he slipped down, causing great pain to his wrists and putting more pressure on his lungs. He could raise his body to breathe only by pushing up with his knees and causing searing pain in his nailed feet. He looked down at the people gathered around the crosses, his vision blurred from the sting of sweat and blood. Straining to focus, he could just make out his mother standing with Yohanon and his aunts Salome and Miriam. Miriam Migdal-itha stood with them. Sweet Yohanon, his favorite cousin. He stood with him all the way. Even his own brothers and sisters didn't believe. His mother looks so pained, he wished he could comfort her but it was too late for that now. She would need to be taken care of by a believer, though. He looked down at her and said the first raspy words since his ordeal began.
"Ittah ha b'rikh....Woman, behold your son!" He looked at Yohanon, the dust on his youthful face streaked with tears, "Ha imak....There is your mother!"
After a little while, Y'shua looked up at the suddenly blackened sky and said, "Abba, schebok lehon letehon hakemin ma abedin.....Father forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing."
A number of the onlookers were amazed that he was asking forgiveness for the Romans. They could also see that he was saying something to one of the other crucified men but couldn't make it out. Y'shua reflected on his life and his purpose. The pain that racked his body was so terrible that he felt himself going in and out of consciousness but at the same time he felt great joy and relief. He could fell himself in the embrace of his Abba and shouted, "Eli, Eli, lmana shbakthani....My God, My God, for this purpose I was meant." This was the purpose for which he lived his life. The culmination of his existence and the fulfillment of the prophecies. Some of the Judaeans that heard him misunderstood his Galilean idiom for the Hebrew of the twenty and second psalm....
"My, God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Galilean Aramaic was often difficult for Judaeans to understand. Y'shua thought of that psalm also and wondered why these people, who recite it every day in expectation of the Messiah, didn't realize that the prophecy had been fulfilled this day. It flashed through Y'shua's own mind, particularly the part that says "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax; it is melted inside me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me. They pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; they divide my garments among them and for my clothing they cast lots."
Some of the people thought he was losing his resolve and asking God why he had forsaken him. All he was really doing was reminding them of their unfaithfulness and of the scripture that they should have remembered because of this day. They just didn't understand. Y'shua knew he wasn't going to last much longer. His chest had filled with the blood of internal bleeding from the severe beating. It was too hard to breathe and he was beginning to lose consciousness from lack of oxygen. It was about the ninth hour now, the pain had stopped about half an hour ago, a good sign of imminent death. His mouth was parched. He looked down at Longinus who was appointed to stand guard. "Sahena....I thirst." Longinus put a sponge into a bowl of old wine laced with opium and put it on the end of his spear, lifting it to Y'shua's lips. Momentarily, the liquid on his dried and cracked lips felt good but the conconction was very bitter. He felt a chill go through him and felt like he was emptying out. "ABba, BIdakh afKED ruHI....Father, into your hands I give my spirit."
His head dropped and he hung limply. The once bright eyes that could either warm the soul or pierce the heart glazed and dulled. His mother, Yohanon and the rest found they couldn't move. The world seemed to lose all sound and everything was silence. Everyone, including the Roman legionaries, felt a chill and slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, a tremor began. A slight vibration that felt like a hum under everyone's feet. Then it began to build until the ground shook and followers and taunters alike fell in fear, holding onto trees, rocks, or just digging their fingers into the trembling earth. It was the middle of the afternoon yet the sky became so dark it was like midnight. Lightning flashed and the thunder was a sharp crack rather than a deep rumble. It began to rain in torrents and a fierce wind blew across the ridge. At the same time, the wind lifted and tore the veil of the Kodesh ha Kodeshim at the temple. Longinus was obviously very much affected by this. He looked up at the body of the Galilean being bathed in the torrential rain. "This man was the Son of God," he said.
The shofar would be blowing to begin the hours of passover in three hours. Yosef ha-Ramathaim had just arrived to the shock of learning his longtime friend had been crucified. He, more than almost anyone, even the disciples, knew that this day would come and he had made some preparations for it.. He was the only member of the Sanhedrin that knew the messiah had indeed come. He had known for years. Still, he could not hold back the tears. He knew Y'shua since he was a baby, watched him grow. He hurried to the Antonia fortress and called for an audience with the prefect. Pilatus would not refuse a member of the Sanhedrin and appeared promptly.
"What can I do for you?" he asked. He knew Yosef to be a wealthy merchant who paid considerable taxes.
"I want permission to take down the body of Y'shua and provide burial before the passover hour begins." Yosef was cool and distant. He knew he carried some weight with Pilatus.
"Where will you bury him?" Pilatus asked, not without reason.
"I have a newly hewn sepulchre in my own garden a short distance from skull hill. With enough haste, we can prepare the body and have the tomb sealed before the hour of passover begins."
Pilatus scratched a quill to a small parchment, "You can give this note to the guards at the hill. They will help you remove the body." He added an instruction to the note that the guard make sure the Galilean was dead. Normally a crucified man lasted two or three days rather than six hours. Yosef hurried to the hill. He sent one of his servants ahead to have the loculus in the tomb carved a little larger to accommodate Y'shua's taller frame. Longinus read the note from Pilatus; "Make sure the Galilean is dead before releasing the body.....P..." Longinus raised his lancia to a point between Y'shua's fifth and sixth ribs on the right side. He pushed the blade of the lance into Y'shua's chest just far enough to see if the body reacted. As he pulled the blade out, the serum from the settled blood in Y'shua's chest poured out followed by a flow of blood. "He's dead! Pull the nails out and lower him," Longinus called to some of the lingering auxiliary troops. Yohanon and the three Miriams were still there when Y'shua's body was lowered from the crossbeam. The other two prisoners had already been killed by the application of crurifragium, the legs were broken so the men couldn't raise themselves to breathe. Suffocation caused death in ten minutes. Yohanon insisted on helping Yosef's servants with the litter. Yosef's residence was only a little farther along the Shechem road that passed skull hill. It was a spacious house that looked out over an extensive garden, olive grove and vineyard. Yosef had suffered an illness last year that caused him, as such things do, to be more mindful of his advancing age. He had recently hired rock cutters to hew out a sepulchre for both himself and his wife in the natural rock wall that formed the northern boundary of his garden. The cutters had still been working on the tomb just before Passover. Only one loculus, the placement niche for a body, was completed along the far wall while the one nearest the entrance and the space between them was still incomplete. It was fitting, Yosef thought, that the master be placed in a new and unused tomb.
They carried Y'shua's body into the garden, past Yosef's house and wine press to the entrance of the tomb. The north part of the garden dipped into a small secluded ravine where the tomb was cut out of the rock. The face of the rock had been hewn flat and carved to fit a large circular stone that would be rolled in a track. Niqodemon, who, as a pharisee, also recieved only late news of the trial and crucifixion. Hearrived with several servants carrying an hundredweight of burial spices, myrrh and aloe. Yosef had a costly linen burial shroud laid out on the flat rock floor of the ravine. The shroud was a little more than eight cubits in length, more than twice the length of the tallest of men. He and Niqodemon added wine to the powdered myrrh and aloe and covered Y'shua's body with the brownish plaster. They made sure that all of his wounds were covered. His servants lifted Y'shua's body and gently laid him down with his feet at the end and his head near the middle of the shroud. Yosef came over and knelt by Y'shua. It seemed almost like he was whispering something to him. The main shroud was then folded over his head and down the front of his body. Yohanon had gone back to the house to help Yosef's wife comfort Miriam. Yosef, Niqodemon and the servants lifted Y'shua and placed him gently in the freshly enlarged loculus against the far side. The loculus had been padded with many folds of old cloths as if Yosef wanted him to be comfortable. This puzzled the servants. The entrance opened directly into the weeping room so Yosef could see Y'shua through the entrance from the garden before the stone was rolled in place. He stood for a moment, staring at the still form wrapped in the white shroud and remembered the day he took him home from the place of the covenanters. He was so full of life then, anxious to see his family after the many months in the desert. There was something very special about that boy from the very beginning. The grinding of the stone as the servants rolled it in the track moved Yosef from his memories. He took one long look at the sealed tomb and turned, walked slowly up the hill to the house and murmered softly to himself..."It's just beginning!"
Yehudah ish-Kerioth stood on the pinnacle of an overhang looking out over the valley of Hinnom. The plaintive wail of ram's horns echoed throughout the hills and valleys of the holy city. They seemed only to appropriately herald his own desolation. How could things have turned out this way? How could he have been so wrong? He had scattered those pieces of silver at the feet of Caiaphas who, as high priest, should have the answers. But he didn't. The grief and the guilt and sorrow were too much for him to bear. Not only will his country remain in the stranglehold of pagan foreigners, he is also responsible for betraying one of God's prophets, maybe even the son of God. How can anyone be so alone? He cannot live under this shame. As he looked down from the cliff to the bottom of the valley, the sharp rocks became blurred. He felt himself sinking, sinking...then everything was darkness.