"Caiaphas, I sent that Galilean to the hill to protect you as well as me. Now you tell me I'm supposed to ask two Roman soldiers to guard the grave of a dead Jew?"
"There is good reason for it, your excellency, this Y'shua claimed that he would rise from the dead in three days if he was killed." Caiaphas concern over this issue surprised Pilatus.
"So are you telling me that you believe this? You? The high priest! You want Roman soldiers to keep a dead prophet from coming back to life?" Pilatus tone was almost mocking.
"No! Of course not!" Caiaphas rebutted. "I'm not a fool! The guards are to keep his followers from stealing his body to make it look like he rose from the dead. If they steal his body, everyone's going to believe just that and your going to have another fanatical movement on your hands. All I want you to do is put a guard on the tomb for three days and nights."
"I didn't think of the possibility of his body being stolen," conceded Pilatus. "I thought it was a defilement for a Jew to touch a tomb or a body on a holy day, but who knows what these people would do. I'll appoint guards to watch the tomb in shifts" "Thank you, Prefect," said a relieved Caiaphas. "I have to get back to the sanctuary before the passover hour blows."
Pilatus watched Caiaphas as he hurried out, "I'll never understand these people," he murmured to himself.
15 Nisan 3789..........April 17, 29
The morning of the first-day of the week emerged over the Mount of Olives in a burst of sunbeams breaking through numerous openings in the cloud cover. The clouds were billowing with shades of pink on the horizon to pure white at their tops. It was a welcome contrast to the black sky and gray torrential rain that had plagued Judea since the eve of Passover. Septimus and Lucius sat on the stairs that led down the hill to the flat in front of the tomb. Lucius was dreamily taking in the early morning smells and the calls of turtle doves perched in nearby fig trees. The idyllic setting of Yosef's garden helped him to block out the cruel images of the torture and execution of the man buried in this tomb. Septimus' mind was on those more earthly pleasures he could be enjoying but for having to guard this tomb. This Galilean had been nothing but trouble for him for a year and now even after he was dead, he was trouble. Both Romans were deep in their own thoughts when they both became aware of a ringing in their ears which began to intensify to the point of pain. They both stood up and looked at each other as if each were going to ask something of the other. Lucius felt his legs weakening until he had to sit down to keep from falling. A quick glance at Septimus confirmed that his tall companion was similarly afflicted. Both looked incredulously at each other and then to the large stone disk that sealed the tomb. At first it looked like the morning sun was reflecting from the chalky stone. There appeared to be a shimmering in front of the stone like one sees on the horizon on a hot summer day. The mortar of the stairs began to vibrate under their feet and even the hardened Septimus felt fear. A grinding noise permeated the small northern corner of the garden and both men looked up to see the large stone begin to roll to the left. Open-mouthed, they waited in terror at what may be behind the stone when the entrance of the sepulchre was exposed. As soon as the arc of the stone began to pass the entrance, a blinding light emerged. It was if pure sunlight was pouring out of the tomb. Both men lost consciousness for what seemed only a moment. Lucius opened his eyes under his covering hands and slowly separated his fingers to peer through. His heart was pounding so hard his ears sounded like marching drums.
"Septimus! Are you alright?" Lucius whispered.
"What happened?" Septimus tested his eyes. "What was that?"
"I don't know," answered Lucius, still blinking. "You better check the tomb." Septimus started to get up on shaky legs, then sat back down, "You check the tomb!" Lucius got up and cautiously approached the entrance. He stepped over the stone track and into the tomb's weeping room. He looked down at the loculus which now contained only a shroud, folded carefully.
"There's no body!" he shouted to Septimus, withdrawing backward from the tomb. Both men passed Miriam Migdal-itha as they left the garden, arguing over who was going to tell Pilatus. As Miriam passed the wine press and approached the stairs that led down to the tomb, she could see that the stone was rolled back from the entrance. She gasped at the sight, entered the tomb and saw that only the shroud remained. She just stood there, stunned and confused. The spice mixture was still in the weeping room behind her, filling the sepulchre with its aroma. The interior of the sepulchre began to fill with light, a soft warm light, and a young man dressed in Essene white spoke to Miriam. "Why do you seek the living in a place for the dead?" Miriam became frightened and ran from the tomb. She thought she was imagining things. She had to go to Simon's where the other disciples were staying and tell Kaifa that the body had been stolen. As she walked up the path past the wine press, she was sobbing loudly. "Woman! Why do you weep?" came a voice from the shadows. It startled Miriam and she looked up to see a man in a gardener's robe with his cowl over his head. "Because they have taken away my master and I don't know what they have done with him." There was a long moment of silence. Miriam looked at the man's face as the morning light brightened his features. His face was still darkened with the mixture of herbs It didn't seem possible! She remembered the numerous times when he taught that the Bar Nash would die and rise again in three days but she thought it was a parable. She saw him die. She was there as his tortured and battered body went limp on the cross. She was there when he was laid in the tomb. That familiar face...that familiar voice. She was afraid to say anything until the man broke the confused silence. "Miriam!"
Then she knew. "Raban....teacher!" She went to touch him but he withdrew quickly. "Don't touch me yet. I haven't yet ascended to my father." She didn't understand but knew it wasn't a rebuke. She was so overjoyed she couldn't think of anything to say nor would her tongue and lips respond if she did. Y'shua vanished leaving Miriam still wide-eyed and exuberant. It was almost a Sabbath Day's walk from Yosef's garden to Simon the water carrier's house, yet Miriam was soon sprinting past the pool of Amygdalon and through the Gennath gate where Simon's house came to view. Many of the seventy disciples milled around the street in front of the house where they knew the close disciples waited. It seemed that no one knew what to do and were waiting for some type of instruction from Simon Kaifa, now considered the leader.
The upper room received the morning light from two small windows on either side of the room. All of the remaining apostles, but for Yehudah Toma, sat either on the floor against the walls or at the large table. At the end of the table sat Miriam, Y'shua's mother; her sister Salome, the mother of the Zebedee boys; Miriam, the wife of Y'shua's uncle Clopas and and the mother of Mattathia and Yaqub the "littlest." Also present were Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod Antipas' steward; and Y'shua's other aunt Miriam, the wife of Simon bar Naba the water carrier. The women just held each other's hands and rocked back and forth to cope with their grief. Y'shua's mother seemed unusually composed given the circumstances, a state interpreted by the others as shock over the cruel death of her son. Simon Kaifa sat at the head of the table near the stairs, his head held in his arms. He had been fast in prayer for hours asking forgiveness for his denial of Y'shua. His sin, he knew, was as grievous as Yehudah ish-Kirioth's but, though he also contemplated suicide, he had repented and asked forgiveness. Kaifa kept repeating to himself the words that Y'shua spoke on the day of preparation, "Shaloo v'tisvun...Ask and you will receive." The only member of the small group that could not bring himself to forgive the barrell-chested Kaifa was the young Yohanon. He sat in the corner of the upper room and brooded. He knew in his heart that Yshua would want him to join his aunt Miriam and the others in forgiving Kaifa but the pain in his heart would not allow it. The silence of the room was a din in itself until broken by the excited shout of Miriam Migdal-itha. Everyone was startled from their individual thoughts by "D'shari-ra-ith kam maran! ......The Lord has indeed risen!"
"What?" Asked Kaifa, "What are you saying?"
"Our teacher has risen," Miriam repeated, trying to catch her breath. "I went to the garden and the stone was rolled back. A voice told me not to look for him there and when I was leaving...." She had to stop a moment to gasp for air. "When I was leaving, a man asked me why I was weeping. It was the master!" Mattathiah got up from where he was sitting next to his mother, "Miriam, has one of those demons returned?."
"No!" she shouted. "He spoke to me."
"That's nonsense," said Nathaniel bar Tolmai. Kaifa looked across the table at Y'shua's mother. Seeing only a slight smile on her face, he suppressed his impulse to scoff at Migdal-itha's story. Instead, recalling his recent lapse of faith, he wondered. Maybe. He got up and rushed down the stairs and out the door, heading in the direction of the Shechem road. Kaifa went out the Gennath gate, past the pool of Amygdalon and followed along the outside of the new northern wall until he got to where Tyropoeon street exited at the fish gate. It was here that the Shechem road began its way north for sixty sabbath day walks to the first city visited by Abraham, yet the first image when one leaves the city is skull hill. Kaifa got to the garden to find Yosef, Niqodemon, and Yosef's entire household standing around the tomb. He immediately entered the tomb and knelt down to the loculus, momentarily fingering the blood stained shroud. There was no more question. No more doubt. Kaifa left the tomb and sprinted up the marble stairs. His and Yosef's eyes met in a knowing glance. As Kaifa left the garden, Yosef entered the tomb and collected the grave cloth, folding it carefully. "Seal the tomb!" He ordered. "No ordinary man can ever use this sepulchre."
Kaifa had not yet returned to the upper room. It was late and the women had retired to sleeping rooms downstairs. The door to the room was locked since the disciples were still afraid that some of them would be taken into custody. They were still discussing Miriam's experience. Perhaps it was the result of grief or maybe Mattathiah was right and a demon returned. The disciples whispered among themselves. Each thought he had an explanation for what Migdal-itha said. The muffled hum of the various voices was suddenly interrupted. "Shaloma amkon! ....Peace be with you!" All heads turned toward the voice. Nine faces paled and nine mouths went agape. Y'shua held his hands out so they all could see his wrists. The open wounds from the nails, though no longer bleeding, were still evident. He pulled back his robe to show the lance wound. It was as if at that moment all remaining doubt disappeared and each disciple's confusion ended. The silence of shock became the tears of joy. There was a knock on the door, first one, then three. It was Kaifa. Mattathiah opened the door and at first the stocky fishermen didn't see Y'shua. He looked around at the other disciples faces and seeing sheepish grins began to think they had all been possessed. Andrew and Simon Qannai stepped aside so Kaifa could see who was standing at the head of the table. Kaifa saw Y'shua and dropped to his knees. Tears of joy mixed with tears of shame for his denial. Y'shua, knowing what was in Kaifa's mind walked over to him and embraced the kneeling fisherman's head to his breast. Kaifa cried.
Each disciple, family member or friend of Y'shua had to try to reconcile with the impossible. Y'shua had hinted for the last couple of years that he would be killed and he would rise again. There were some, those whom he had cured from some disastrous malady, that believed him. It seemed it was most difficult for those that knew him best, his brothers and sisters, cousins, close friends, and even the disciples, to take it literally that he would rise from the dead. Y'shua had always been a very effective and persuasive speaker. Even as a boy, he confounded and amazed his elders with the wisdom and maturity of his words. There was also a quality to his voice and the way he spoke that caused those who listened to recognize the authority of his words. During the last couple of years, Y'shua would say something like, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." One could never really be sure exactly what he meant. Many thought he was actually talking about the temple on Mt. Moriah, but more recently he had been more open and specific with his meanings. Only a few days ago he had said that the son of man had come into the world to be killed and to rise again in three days. They had all seen him arrested and, except for Yohanon, had from some distant place, seen him die on the cross. Yohanon helped lay his shattered body in the tomb of Yosef ha-Ramathaim. Now, there he was, his white robe immaculate, and except for the wounds of his side, feet and hands; his once battered face was as clean and clear as always. You would think that it would have been no surprise, after all, didn't they see him raise up Jairus' little daughter? Didn't they see Elazar walk out of his tomb still reeking with the stench of death?. Why was it so difficult to believe that he could raise himself? Y'shua spent about another hour with the astounded disciples. He gave them a time to meet him in the Galilee on the hill near K'far Nahum where he had delivered his first sermon. Then he was gone. The eleven disciples left for the Galilee at the appointed time. The city was still stirring over the reports that the Galilean disappeared from the tomb. Septimus and Lucius were instructed by Pilatus to claim that the disciples had stolen the body. They left in twos and threes, with Miriam and the other women, taking the Jericho road. Once in Jericho, the road follows the west bank of the Jordan to Salem and Scythopolis. Then to Philoteria, Tiberias, Migdal and K'far Nahum.
24 Iyar 3789 ..........Thursday, May 26, 29
The whole trip takes a week walking at a good pace each day. Simon Kaifa, Andrew and Nathanael bar Tolmai were the last group to arrive at the hill. It was early morning and there was still a bit of a chill. The rest of the disciples were sitting or laying around with their cloaks wrapped around them. Many of the seventy were also gathering around as were others from K'far Nahum. The eleven dispersed around to the people telling them what happened in Jerusalem. Many ran back to the village to tell others who in turn came to the hillside. It was almost noon before all of the eleven gathered back together on the top of the hill. The rest of the hill and some of the field below was covered with people who were told to expect the appearance of the Nazarene who had spent so much time with them. Y'shua was considered a resident of K'far Nahum by all who lived there.
"Peace be with you" The familiar voice seemed to come from every direction. The disciples knew he had arrived, but from what direction. "Where is he?" asked Kaifa. "I am here," answered Y'shua standing right in the midst of the eleven as if he had been there all morning. The entire hillside began to hum with the muffled voices of more than 300 people from K'far Nahum, Tiberias, Migdal, Gergesa, Philoteria. Y'shua had many followers and disciples. There was the inner circle of twelve apostles, now eleven, which was representative of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were the seventy disciples, like the seventy elders of Israel. They were also very close to Y'shua and would be sent out to teach the good news. Some of the seventy were women. Y'shua had always recognized how important it was to preach to women and include them in his ministry to Israel. This was one of the main points of discord between him and the high priest. Even his own disciples were at first shocked when he stopped to talk to the woman at the well in Samaria. Y'shua knew that men had a tendency to instruct other men of similar background but women passed the teachings to other women and their children, as well as their husbands. Women were a key to Y'shua's teaching strategy, a vital conduit for the dissemination of his teachings. Y'shua looked around the hillside and could see nearly everyone who was close to him, Elazar and his sisters, the wives and children of some of the disciples and many whom he had cured of maladies. His family was all there. Yohanon stood dutifully with Miriam. Each of his brothers were there, now astounded believers when before they just couldn't accept that their older brother was the Meshiach. There was no need for him to give them all instructions, he had already done that. He only reminded them that he would be coming back and until then, "Go and teach the good news to all, I will always be with you, even to the end of the world." As he said these words, everyone on the hill and the field below could see him, no matter their position. It seemed as if something was lifting Y'shua up so all could get a look at him. Then he was gone.
The disciples and other followers spent several days in the Galilee discussing plans to carry out Y'shua's wishes. It was apparent that it was going to take a great deal of organization. Kaifa recognized that it was going to be a lot more complicated than running a fishing fleet. There were seventy disciples, some women, who would be sent out in pairs. Letters had to be written to believers in the cities who would act as hosts for the disciples. What passed for inns around the Roman Empire were usually dens of thieves or brothels. An assembly of believers would be organized in each city. That assembly would have a leader who would appoint brothers who would do the work of helping the poor. The leader would teach the words of Y'shua and conduct the ceremony of remembering the Master with the Lord's Supper. They needed to go back to Jerusalem to organize an assembly there that would direct the activities of the others. Y'shua's brothers were now devoted to the assembly. This was important for the continuation of the Meshiach's throne. Kaifa would continue to lead the disciples and help organize the pairings of the seventy. Mattathiah Levi had written down all that he could remember of the Lord's sayings and teachings. Y'shua's brother Yaqub must keep the throne of the Meshiach until he comes back. Yaqub was already known as ha-Tsediqa, "the righteous" by those who knew him. Kaifa was very concerned much of the time. Why did the master make him the leader? He was just a fisherman. He didn't read the sacred writing or even speak the Greek language well enough. He wasn't learned in the Torah. He had always had a quick temper and often acted impulsively without thinking. This used to get him into a lot of brawls in the inns of Tiberias. His father and his partner Zebedee made him the boss of the fishing fleet because he was the toughest. Andrew was just the opposite, a gentle youngster who never got in a fight in his life. Andrew was very studious and serious. Kaifa kept as close to Andrew as he could, watching over him. Fishing the Galilee was competitive. Boat owners from Gergesa, Philoteria, Tiberias, and Migdal all vied for the choice fishing spots. Often it was the one who could fight hardest that won the right to fish certain spots and that was usually Simon bar Yonah. Now, here he was, twenty-five years old and the leader of the Meshiach's followers. Where was it all going to end?
One thing was certain. Things had to begin in Jerusalem, so Kaifa told the followers to meet him there. The upper room of Simon's house in the upper city had never been so packed. Disciples and believers filled all the other rooms as well. The eleven were there, of course, and each of the seventy, Y'shua's mother and her sister Salome, Miriam the wife of their host Simon, Joanna and Susanna, and Y'shua's brothers Yaqub, Yoses, Simon and Yehudah. Believers also filled the staircase as each wanted to hear Kaifa's words. He spoke loudly so all could hear, "Brothers and sisters, the scripture had to be fulfilled that the Holy Breath, through David, predicted that Yehudah ish-Kirioth would guide those who arrested Y'shua. Yehudah was one of our number and chosen to be part of our work. Someone must be chosen to join the twelve to take his place. It has to be someone who was with us from the beginning when Yohanon performed his baptism to the time he was taken to heaven." Simon Qannai came forward with two shards of pottery on which the names of the two leading candidates were written, Yosef bar Saba and Mathiya. Kaifa took the shards in his hands and closed his fists around them. He prayed for God to guide the choice and held out his hands for Miriam, the mother of the Lord, to choose. She laid her gentle hand on Kaifa's right hand which contained the name of Mathiya. Mathiya became the twelfth disciple, taking the place of Yehudah.
6 Sivan, 3789 ............Monday, June 6, 29 AD
Shavuot ......... Feast of Weeks
Kaifa was awakened by the blaring blast of trumpets from the Roman camp mixed with the ancient wail of the ram's horn from the temple. Shavuot was one of Kaifa's favorite feast days. The fiftieth day after Pesach marked the day that Moses received the Law on Mt. Sinai. It was also the first day of the harvest when the first fruits were offered to God. The first sheaves of wheat had been winnowed and the flour made into two loaves of bread for presentation at the temple. This was always a day of great celebration in the Galilee which held the majority of the nation's farming. Galileans were always in the market for an excuse to celebrate. There was a confraternity in the Galilee where work was hard but honest. No Galilean could go to any city or village without having friends or relatives. Things were different in Judaea. The rapid moving transience of foreigners, merchants, thieves, and pilgrims melded with a stationary milieu of bureaucracy and corruption. Temple priests got rich taking kickbacks from the sale of sacrificial animals and commissions for the exchange of foreign coins to temple currency. Everybody suspected their neighbors. Spies outnumbered every other profession. There were Roman spies, spies for Herod, spies for the high priest. There were brothels in view of the sanctuary itself. These Judaeans, with their hearts as barren and desolate as their land, looked down on Galileans. Kaifa wished he was in the Galilee for Shavuot where the celebration was honest. In K'far Nahum it was the first catch of fish that was offered. This evening there would be dancing and feasting. Kaifa looked out the window and could see that the believers were already gathering in Simon's spacious courtyard. There was an overwhelming feeling by all that something was going to happen today. At the third hour, he went downstairs and entered the courtyard with the rest of the twelve. He couldn't count the number of people that had gathered. In addition to the twelve and the seventy and the hundred and twenty were many strangers and foreigners of all description. Kaifa stood there, not knowing exactly what he was going to say or do, when there was a great roar from the sky that sounded like a hundred winds. The air was thick with a presence that one could actually taste and smell. Everyone could feel the hair of their necks straightening and crackling when suddenly flashes of fire hovered over the heads of the people like giant fingers. As quickly as it came, it was gone. Then something very strange happened. Yosef bar Saba, one of the seventy who had been considered to take Yehudah's place, turned and began speaking to some frightened Phrygians in their own language. Yaqub the "littlest" got up and spoke to some Romans in Latin! Yaqub didn't speak Latin! Miriam, the wife of Simon, began to speak in what sounded like Egyptian. A group of Elamites who had been passing by stopped when they heard their own language spoken by a sixteen year old Galilean boy.
"How can these Galileans speak our language?" they asked. All of the foreigners were amazed and even a little frightened to hear their own language coming from so many believers. A Libyan salt merchant spoke up loudly, "These people are drunk!" Kaifa lifted his arms as a gesture for attention, "Fellow Jews and visitors, listen to me. These people are not drunk! This is exactly what the prophet Joel talked about." Mattathiah handed him the small scroll which was Joel and Kaifa read from it:
"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit; And I shall show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.
And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord will be delivered."
Kaifa had thought and spoken these scriptures in his native Aramaic yet the mouths of the Parthians, Medians, Egyptians, Arabs, Asians, Africans and others were agape. They were hearing the deep voice of the fisherman in their own language. He continued: "Listen to my words! Y'shua of Nazareth was a man whose divine mission was clear by the miracles and wonders which God did through him. Many of you here saw these things. God had already decided that Y'shua would be handed over and killed on the cross. But God raised him from the dead and freed him from the pains of death because it was impossible for death to hold him."
Kaifa spoke publicly as he had never spoken before, not seeming to notice that the words and thoughts flowed into and from him as they never had before.
"Let me tell you about our patriarch David. He died and was buried and his tomb is here to this day. He was a prophet and knew God's promise to him. God made a covenant with David that he would make one of his descendants a king also and David spoke about the resurrection of the Meshiach when he said: `For thou wilt not abandon my soul to the grave; neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption.' God raised Y'shua from the dead. We are all witnesses to it. He has been raised to the right side of God and received from him the Holy Spirit, as his Father had promised and what you have just seen and heard is that very gift that he has poured out on us. All you people of Israel, then, should know that it is Y'shua, who was crucified, that God made both Lord and Meshiach!"
It was very obvious that most of the crowd, Jews and foreigners alike, were moved by Kaifa's words and by what they had seen and heard. They wanted to be part of this but weren't sure how. "What should we do?" someone asked. Kaifa instructed them on how to join the assembly of believers, about giving up sinful ways, being baptized in the name of Y'shua the Meshiach and receiving the Holy Spirit. The disciples were busy for days accepting new believers. Many ill and lame were cured and every cure brought new believers from those who witnessed. Every day, Kaifa and the others went to the Temple to receive new believers and to teach the words of Y'shua. In the evenings they took meals together and distributed goods among the poor. Yaqub, the Lord's brother, could always be found just inside the Beautiful gate praying and teaching.