Chapter III – Yeshu

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The Jewish marriage has long been founded upon an intricate legal transaction, by which bride and groom enter a mutually binding commitment. The rituals and customs of the Jewish wedding are derived from both its legalistic particulars and its underlying spiritual themes, this is the “body” and “soul” of the Jewish wedding. According to Torah law, marriage is a two-step process, the first stage is called “kiddushin”, loosely translated as a betrothal and then the “nisu’in”. or “home-taking” loosely translated as marriage. The kiddushin renders the bride and groom husband and wife. However, the bride and groom are not permitted to live together as husband and wife until the nisu’in is complete.

The Kiddushin: Betrothal

According to Torah law, there are one of three conditions that must be met kiddushin to occur. The first is by a money transaction. The man gives to money or an object of value to the woman. A kohein often fulfilled this requirement by providing the bride with a portion of his sacrificial meat provided by the Mikdash (Temple). This was symbolic of sharing of his Mikdash income with his Kallah. However, this practice was later outlawed in the Gemara, where Kiddushin 52b states: “If a man – or more correctly, a kohein – betrothed a woman with his portion of sacrificial meat, whether it be Kodashei Kodashim he has not betrothed her.” The reason for this is provided by Rambam, Hilchot Ishut 5:5 which states, “This sacrificial meat was given to the Kohanim only for eating, and not for anything else.”

The second method is through a document called the “ketubah”. This is a document stating a man’s intention to marry. The third method is though sexual intercourse performed with an intention to consummate a marriage. By the second Mikdash period, the rabbis had forbidden betrothing though intercourse, making it a punishable offense. The two stages of marriage were done on separate occasions. In order for the kiddushin to be legally binding, the transaction is required a minimum of two kosher witnesses. Once kiddushin is complete, the woman is legally the wife of the man. The relationship created by kiddushin can only be dissolved by death or divorce. However, the spouses do not live together at that time, and the mutual obligations created by the marital relationship do not take effect until the nisu’in is complete.

The Nisu’in: Marriage

The nisu’in or “home-taking” is accomplished through the means of the “chupah”. The nisu’in is ceremonially considered as the husband uniting with his wife under one roof for the sake of marriage. In ancient times, the two stages of marriage were done on separate occasions, often separated by a full year, in which the groom would devote himself to Torah study. However, as a priest had already fulfilled this requirement, this time could be shortened by whatever circumstances deeming it necessary.

Both the kiddushin and the nisu’in were accompanied by celebratory feasts.
Yosef and Mariam’s kiddushin, or betrothal ceremony was held in the Mikdash. It was there the Chasan (groom) and Kallah (bride) signed their ketubah or nuptial agreement. Then Yosef presented Mariam with a carefully wrapped portion of the Korbonot meat provided by a sacrifice to the Mikdash. The salted, dried meat was wrapped in a section of white linen imprinted with the priesthood’s special pattern of blue and trimmed with gold. As he placed the sacrificial meat in Mariam’s hand, Yosef declared in the Aramaic tradition, harei at li le’intu, “You are hereby my wife” (betrothed unto me by this offering of meat). At this point, they were considered to have entered the legally binding contract of marriage. Mariam was now forbidden to consort with another man. Still bride and groom were not allowed intimacy until the nisu’in ceremony was complete.

Mariam’s pregnancy had not yet become obvious by the time of the kiddushin. However, even wearing robes in a manner covering her condition, the situation would be unmistakable when she attended the Mikveh. For this reason, the Essene decided to have the nisu’in ceremony take place as quickly as possible. Shaphan became distraught at the thought of Mariam’s departure. She had been a valuable asset to both Shaphan and Peninnah. Not only did she help with household chores, but her Essene training in mathematics gave her the ability to assist Shaphan with his bookkeeping. As her own business began flourishing, it attracted new customers for Shaphan’s carpets. What’s more her own income had become more than sufficient to allow her payment of more than the going rate for lodging. Despite Shaphan’s distress over her departure, he knew this new life would mean the fulfillment of a mission that was paramount to all other considerations.

Shaphan happily sponsored the wedding at his house, along with his personally catering the Seudas Mitzvah, a lavish reception meal that would conclude the wedding. Shaphan always took great joy in wedding festivities, and aside from the dancing and merriment, these occasions also provided excellent opportunities to reaffirm old business relationship as well as forging new ones. Mariam’s popularity and Yosef’s stature as a kohein promised to make this particular wedding more than a special occasion; it would be the event of the season. Not only would Mariam’s clients come to the wedding, but numerous friends as well. It was said that one could not find anyone in the city who did not love Mariam, but none loved the maiden like her betrothed Yosef.

Mariam’s wedding was planned for the summer month of Elul. This would be two years after Mariam’s arrival in Yerushalayim and just a few months after the kiddushin. Peninnah sent wedding invitations throughout the city and as it turned out, the guest list was so long that that neighbors felt obliged to take in the overflow of guests promising to attend. The wedding would be one of the largest the city had seen in some time. Shaphan was almost overwhelmed by the intricate planning, for everything had to be in perfect order. Mariam’s bloodline had been carefully researched in the Mikdash by an Essene priest with access to the genealogical archives. This documentation had then been submitted to the kohein gadol for examination and approval in order to receive his blessing on the marriage.

Every detail was perfectly planned. The “L’Sameach Choson v’Kallah”, or wedding feast for the bride and groom, the gold fringed canopy or “Chuppah” that would cover the ceremony, even the blessed wine, were obtained from the best possible sources the city could provide. By the time Elul arrived, the wedding preparations had been completed for what would long be remembered as one of the most beautiful and joyous weddings ever held in Yerushalayim. As was customary, Yosef and Mariam had not seen each other for seven days prior to the wedding. Both had begun a fast that would last until the L’Sameach at the end of ceremony. Previously, each had been but half a person. Now, with the hour of marriage at hand, they would become whole, a single new and pure soul. Standing under the Chuppah, their destiny would be set.

The pre-ceremony festivities began with the Kabbalas Ponim, or the greeting of the bride and groom. As the Choson (groom) and the Kallah (bride) were not to see each on this last day, the reception would be held in separate rooms located at opposite ends of Shaphan’s house. Relatives and friends then came to greet and bless the Kallah and the Choson, offering them their most heartfelt wishes. Next came the Tena’im or Condition of Marriage. Tradition held that prior to the nisu’in ceremony, standard agreements were to be stipulated in a document agreed upon by the Choson, Kallah and their respective parents. This document represented a commitment by Yosef to fulfill his promise to marry. The text was read aloud and then members of both parties then signed the written obligation.

Next came the “Badecken”, or veiling of the Kallah. Escorted by his father and Shaphan along with other relatives and friends Yosef moved forward to veil the bride. Facing Mariam Yosef gently brought down the veil over her face in an act reminiscent of Rebeccah’s covering her face with her veil upon seeing Isaac before marriage. This veiling served two purposes. First it was meant to impress upon Mariam her duty towards Jewish ideals of modesty. The second would be to impress other men of her status as a married woman, henceforth unapproachable. The covering symbolized modesty, dignity and chastity characterizing the virtues of Jewish womanhood. Just prior to the beginning of the chuppah, all knots on the Yosef’s garments were untied, symbolizing that all other bonds are eliminated, except this intimate one made between Mariam and himself. He then donned the “Kittel”, the traditional white robe traditionally worn on Yom Kippur. This robe would serve to remind Yosef of the solemnity of the occasion.

With the Kabbalas Ponim ceremony completed, the Choson and the Kallah now moved in solemn procession to the Chuppa where they would be united. Arriving at the Chuppa canopy, Mariam and her family circled Yosef seven times, recalling the seven turns of a Tefillin’s strap wrapped around a man’s arm that bound him to the phylactery. Thus, as Yosef bound himself in love to the Mikdash, so too would his love bond him to his Kallah. The seven circles also represented the completion of the seven-day process in which earth was created. During those seven days, the earth revolved on its axis seven times. Since their marriage served to reenact this creative process, Mariam’s encirclement of Yosef likewise symbolized the repetition of these seven earthly rotations of the creation.

On this day of his wedding, Yosef would be compared to a king and just as a king would be encircled by his legions, Yosef was now encircled by the Kallah’s entourage. When the Mariam finished the seven circles, she took her place at Yosef’s right side right, and a cantor called out, “at the right hand does the queen stand.” Two members of the party were then called upon to stand under the Chuppah as witness to the proceedings. As the two stood beside each other under the gold-fringed canopy, the cantor welcomed them with the following blessing.

Peninnah planned Miram’s wedding early in the month of Tammuz, two years after her arrival in Yerushaláyim. Wedding invitations were sent throughout the city. There were so many, neighbors offered to take in the overflow of attending guest. This would be one of the largest weddings the city had seen in some time. Shaphan was almost overwhelmed by the intricate planning, for everything had to be in perfect order. Mariam’s bloodline had been carefully researched in the Mikdash by covert Essene with access to the archives. This information was then submitted to the kohein gadol for examination and to receive his blessing on the marriage.

The L’Sameach “Choson v’Kallah” or wedding feast, the “Chupah” a gold fringed canopy covering the ceremony, wine and many other details all had to be perfectly planned. Mariam had become a valuable asset to Shaphan and Peninnah, as not only did she help with the household chores, but her Essene training in mathematics gave her the ability to assist Shaphan with his bookkeeping. In the meantime, her own business flourished, allowing her to pay Shaphan more than Yerushaláyim’s going rate for lodging. Shaphan became distressed at the thought of her departure from his house to begin a new life, but he realized this would mean the fulfillment of a mission paramount to all other consideration.

At last the wedding preparations had been completed for what would long be remembered as one of the most beautiful and joyous weddings ever held in Yerushaláyim. As was customary, Yosef and Mariam had not seen each other for the seven days prior to the wedding and had begun the fast that would last until the wedding ceremony. Previously, each had been but half a person. Now, with the hour of marriage at hand, they would resume their original wholeness, as a single new and pure soul. Standing under the Chupah their life destiny would be set.

The ceremony began with the Kabbalas Ponim or the greeting of the bride and groom held in separate rooms in Shaphan’s house. The receptions were held separately since the Choson (groom) and the Kallah (bride) were not to see each on this last day of the week prior to the wedding. Relatives and friends all came to greet the bride and groom and bless them, offering them their heartfelt wishes. With the Kabbalas Ponim completed, Yosef the Choson and Mariam the Kallah went in solemn procession to the Chupa where they would be united.

Upon their arrival under the Chupah, Mariam and her family, represented by Shaphan and Peninnah, circled Yosef seven times. This circling recalled the seven turns of a Tefillin’s strap wrapped around a man’s arm. Just as a man would bind himself in love to G_d, so too was Yosef’s bond of love be to his bride. The seven circles represented the completion of the seven day process in which earth was created. During those seven days, the earth revolved on its axis seven times. Since their marriage served to reenact this creative process, Mariams encirclement of Yosef likewise symbolized the repetition of these seven earthly rotations. On this day of his wedding, Yosef was compared to a king and just as a king would be encircled by his legions, Yosef was now encircled by his bridal entourage. When the Mariam finished the seven circles, she took her place at Yosef’s right side right, and a Psalmist called out, “at the right hand does the queen stand.” Two witnesses were then called upon to stand under the Chupah and witness the proceedings.As the bride and groom stood beside each other under the Chupah, a cantor welcomed them with this blessing:

He who is the Al-mighty and Omnipotent, over all;
He who is Blessed over all;
He who is the Greatest of all;
He who is Distinguished of all;
Shall Bless the Choson and Kallah.”

The Seder Kiddushin – The Betrothal and Marriage Benediction

Next came the marriage benediction. This observance was held in two parts; both parts would be introduced with a benediction over wine, the symbol of joy and abundance. The first blessing over the wine sanctified the marriage. After this blessing Mariam and Yosef groom each took a sip of wine. The second blessing was recited over the ceremony, thanking G_d for providing the opportunity to perform the mitzvah. Once again after the blessing Mariam and Yosef sipped the wine from the wedding cup. After the seven blessings. The blessing ended with the Psalmist saying “Blessed are You L-rd, Who sanctifies His people Israel through Chupah and Kiddushin.” Yosef then placed a simple band of gold on his bride’s right forefinger. The gold reflected to Mariam that she would be as precious as gold to Yosef. As he placed the ring on her finger Yosef recited the following, “Harei At Mekudeshes Li B’taba’as Zo Kedas Moshe V’Yisrael – Behold, you are consecrated to me with this ring according to the laws of Moses and Israel.”

The Ketubah – The Marriage Contract

To separate the betrothal blessings from the marriage blessings (Sheva Berachos), the “Kesubah” (marriage contract) was now read aloud in Aramaic. The “Kesubah,” a binding document of confidence and trust, would detail Yosef’s obligations to Mariam. Therein, he would pledge to “work for his bride, honor, provide for and support her, in accordance with the practices of Jewish husbands who work for their wives’ honor, provide and support them in truth.” Symbolically, this contract recalled the wedding between G_d and Israel where “Moses took the Book of the Covenant” and read it to the people after the Jews stood under the “Chupah” at Mt. Sinai. Following the reading of the contract, Yosef handed it to Mariam.

Yichud – Seclusion

After the ceremony, the Mariam and Yosef retired to a private room for the symbolic “consummation” of their marriage. The few minutes they would share together would allude to their new intimate relationship and emphasizes that their absolute privacy was to be respected. Refreshments were then served, and the two broke their fast.

The Seudas Mitzvah – The Wedding Feast

After this moment of solitude, the festivities began in earnest. At the Seudas Mitzvah the guests would participate in the “L’Sameach Choson v’Kallah,” to celebrate in joy with the groom and bride. Although the wedding feast in itself would be a mitzvah, the emphasis would be on entertaining the newlyweds. The guest began by dancing around the Mariam and Yosef in an expression of their support for the couple. Finally at the end of the feast, the “grace after meals” was recited.

The Mitzvah Tantz – The Bride dances with the guests

As evening arrived the dancing began, Mariam would dance with Shaphan her surrogate father and the other male wedding guests. During the mitzvah tantz she would hold the groom’s hand and her father’s hand, but danced with the other guests by holding on to one end of a scarf or a gartel or belt, while the guest held the other.
Late in the evening, at the conclusion of the wedding festivities, Mariam and Yosef retired to a small house rented by Shaphan as a wedding gift to the couple. It was in this small place in Yerushaláyim that their love and their marriage would be fully consummated. As was the custom, for seven consecutive evenings following the wedding, their friends or relatives hosted festive meals in their honor. The feasting would recall the seven-day celebration after the marriage of Jacob to Leah, who spent their days in prayer, learning Torah and performing mitzvos to provide the “new house in Israel” a solid foundation in G_d’s ways of holiness.
Within a few months Mariam realized there was something very special about the child she was carrying. Whenever the baby would hear Yosef reading from the Torah scrolls, he would kick violently.
By this time Herod had fallen ill unto death. His reign over the kingdom was rapidly deteriorating. The power vacuum of his absence led to increasing violence and political insurrections. Yosef and Mariam fled the city to the relatively safer environs of a small village called bet lahm, or “house of meat,” that lay some six Roman milliarium south-southwest of Yerushaláyim. The name was most likely an allusion to the numerous sheep herds roaming the hills of the surrounding region.
Mariam’s pregnancy was well advanced by the month of Nisan, when they departed. Even then, bet lahm was a significant part of Jewish legend, both before their entry into Egypt and after their exodus. The village is linked with “Ephrata”, a word meaning “fruitful.” This was the place where Rachel, beloved matriarch of the Jews and favorite wife of Jacob, died during childbirth. Her tomb had long been a pilgrimage for Jews. Significantly, bet lahm was also hailed by the Jews as the birthplace of king David as well as the place where Apep anointed him king. Even more significantly, scripture prophecy foretold this village as the birthplace of the long awaited messiah.
The couple arrived in bet lahm to discover the mounting violence had swelled the village population with those fleeing the panic erupting across Judea. To their dismay they could find no room or lodging anywhere in the village. Yosef stopped at the outskirts of the small village to ponder where they might find safety. With no prospect for shelter, the two wearied travelers were undecided in a direction that might lead to safety, but in a moment, an old man appeared out of the dusty haze on the trail, beckoning them to follow him.
Walking a few Roman stadia north of bet lahm, the old man stopped to address Yosef with a simple command. “Return with me to Yerushaláyim, there our brothers will provide the succor you seek.”
Several merchants had already been approached by the Essene with the idea of equipping a caravan for the two week journey to Natzret. The merchants, agreeable to the idea, had committed funds for the venture. It was decided the caravan would take goods to the northern regions and then return with raw material be used to make goods that would then be sold at the bazaars. Mariam and Yosef would be among the travelers of the caravan, but because of her special mission, she would ride upon the back of a donkey while Yosef walked.
Natzret was not an arbitrary destination, but held within it a specific design. Both Yosef and Mariam were of the same bloodline as Natzret’s founding clan. These were the Northern Essene, driven from Baghdad by Hasmonean kohanim for voicing what they considered heretical views about the sacrifice. The mystical brotherhood eventually established several remote locations designed to shelter them from the persecution of other tribes. Thus Natzret would be a quiet place of refuge for the brothers and their families. Many years later, Yeshu would describe the Essene monastery as “his own household.”
But it was more than family ties that drew Mariam and Yosef to Natzret. The secluded monastery, not far from the northern slope of Mount Carmel, also meant anonymity and safety from intruders. As such, they would live among relatives at the small monastery, a place of about one hundred and fifty souls established around one hundred B.C. Thus, Natzret was a place of refuge for the clan hailing from the house of David and exiled from the tribe of Judah for its esoteric, mystical traditions.
The monastery was nestled in a basin on top of a secluded ridge. It lay some twenty seven Roman milliarium east of the Mediterranean and nineteen milliarium west of Lake Genneraset and a mere five milliarium southeast of the bustling city of Sepphoris. The chalky ridge separated the Plain of Jezreel from the bet Netofa valley, its twenty-five inches of annual rainfall was sufficient to ensure good crops and good pasture. At thirteen hundred foot elevation, it was relatively remote and isolated from the normal flow of traffic that moved along the imperial highway on the plain below. From the ridge, one could see nearby Sepphoris perched on the hill. For the inhabitants of Natzret, a walk along the ridge evoked memories of the ancient prophets Elijah and Elisha.
The caravan provided protection, there would be safety among its numbers, but safety was far from a certainty. In an effort to avoid any suspicion among villagers encountered during the journey, Mariam dressed plainly with the traditional veil covering her face. Thus she would appear to the untrained eye as any slave girl likely traveling among the caravan.
There were several possible routes to Galil. One was along the Nehar haYarden to lake Gennesarette and then up the Jezreel valley. A second possibility lay in the road through Samaria. However, both these made for difficult passages through rough, mountainous regions. These routes were also fraught with the danger of wild animals and roaming bands of brigands. The third route chosen by the Essene was the most sensible. Although this route took the travelers down the steep ravines of the Judean hills, the journey would be infinitely easier traveling an imperial road along the flat, coastal plain. Most of the trip would be along a route well traveled by the Legions of Rome known as The Way of the Philistines, later famed as the Via Maris. Due to Mariam’s advanced pregnancy, it was decided the most agreeable route would be along the coast.
The first stop was planned at the small coastal village of Joppa, some thirty five millarium due west of Yerushaláyim. From here Rome’s imperial road took them north to Appolonia, then across the Plain of Sharon to Caesarea. Here the road forked in four directions. The two middle forks veered north eastward to mountain passes through the Carmel range. The eastern fork was a branch of the imperial road that passed close by Natzret. The western fork passed though the village of Besara. Their journey would take them along the main imperial route leading to the great plain of Esdraelon. Just beyond lay Natzret on the northern boarder of the Jezreel valley. This vast, inland valley features a large fertile plain producing numerous agricultural products. The Samarian highlands and Mount Gilboa formed the valley’s southern border while major cities like Sepphoris and Tiberias lay to the north.
In the coolness of a late morning in the month of Iyyar, the small caravan prepared for departure from Yerushaláyim. By the time they left the sun was setting, leaving the sojourners squinting into the blazing termination of the Judean day. Only the donkey carrying Mariam seemed unfazed by the final rays of the dying sun. In its entirety, the journey would cover some ninety gallic leuga, taking some two weeks total.


Though tiring, the journey was uneventful until the caravan began descending the northern ridge of the Carmel range. Due to the altitude change, Mariam began feeling distinct discomfiture. Crossing the dark plain of Esdraelon her water broke, signaling the imminent arrival of the infant. Fearing they would not make it to the monastery in time, Yosef decided to leave the caravan and seek shelter close by for the impending birth. As he led the tired donkey carrying his groaning wife, he wondered where he might find a sheltered place.
It was the night of the new moon of Iyyar. Four years before, an unusual event had occurred. A triple conjunction of three planets had occurred just before sunrise. Saturn, Jupiter and Mars came into alignment in the constellation of Pisces. At that precise moment the combined light of the three planets caused a sudden brightness in the Southern sky. For the residents of Yerushaláyim this light appeared as a scepter hanging over bet lahm. The light was taken as an omen by the superstitious Judeans witnessing the sudden bright star’s appearance over the village. Tradition held the appearance of such a sign foretold the arrival of a new king. bet lahm had long been referred to as bet lahm “Ephratah” a word meaning fruitful.
The southern village of bet lahm was located high in the rocky hills, some 2,544 Roman pes above the Mediterranean, a location suitable for shepherding animals, hence the term for this location would be in keeping with the Arabic identity bet lahm or “house of meat.” Just prior to the celebration of Pesach, shepherds tended huge flocks of sheep in the fields near the village of Bet lahm. It was unusual for shepherds to tend large flocks near towns and villages because the presence of large flocks fouled the air so badly people often had difficulty breathing. Typically, large flocks were relegated to areas far from the general populace. However, the village of bet lahm was a rare exception. Once a year, during the month Nisan and thirty days prior to the feast of Pesach, enormous flocks of lambs approaching their first year were brought in to graze near bet lahm. Here lambs declared “unblemished” by the kohanim were separated for sacrifice to the Mikdash while other “blemished” lambs would be eaten at the Pesach feast. The large flocks required a great number of shepherds working in shifts. Some watched the sheep while others slept.
The herds grazed in pastures owned by the kohein gadol, located in a valley southeast of the village. In the middle of the pastures was a tall structure known as the “migdal eder” meaning “tower of the flock.” The kohanim used the tower to oversee the shepherds. By remaining in the migdal eder, the kohanim remained ritually pure. Yet the shepherds lived a continuous state of defilement. Even the thought of ritual purity was impossible as they constantly walked about in excrement and touched dead things, activities that defined the state of impurity. Because of their defiled condition, shepherds were not allowed into the Temple to offer sacrifices or into any other ritually pure location. Thus any religious experience a shepherd might enjoy was strictly between himself and God. But to a Jew of that era and especially to Mikdash authorities, the idea of worshipping G_d apart from the Temple was anathema. For the kohanim, true religion was not a personal thing, in their eyes it was corporate.
Late in the evening, four years after the scepter of light had appeared in the sky, an Essene woman hurried from Natzret through the darkness to a small cave just outside a small village to assist a woman going into labor. A runner from the caravan had arrived at monastery to inform the brothers that Yosef was taking his wife to the nearby village of bet lehem when she began suffering labor pains. Instead of trying to make it to the village, he had moved Mariam to a cave serving as a manger for the local shepherds. These three would witness the birth of an infant son who would alter all history. Coming forth from that dark night, Yeshu would soon shine the light of truth on the dark intentions of the Mikdash.
Morning found Mariam beaming down at her newborn son Yeshu יֵוֹשֻׁשׁוּעַ, a name meaning “to save or rescue”. It was the chosen codename for one chosen to fulfill the Essene conspiracy. Both Yosef and Mariam agreed it was a most fitting name for the one who might deliver their people from the onerous, sacrificial burdens imposed by the Mikdash. Most would refer to him as Yeshu bar Yosef or “Savior, son of Yosef.” He was in fact a son of man who would vie with others for the lofty title of mashiach.
the confusion of names and location, a short time later three Essene sages made their way towards the southern village of bet lahm to validate Yeshu’s birth. During the journey they discussed how the precious infant might be protected from the predations of the kohanim who had by now heard rumors of the conspiratorial plan to bring forth a son of the Davidic bloodline with the potential power to challenge their system. Although at that point, they could not conceive how this might be accomplished, the kohanim acted reflexively to destroy all potential threats to their power base. Spies for the Kohanim, referred to as “eyes”, located throughout the kingdom’s collective body meant the likelihood the infant would be discovered and put to death. The three sages were traveling west from Qumran when they were intercepted by Herod’s soldiers.
Upon hearing rumors of the birth, the kohein gadol, Matthais, and members of the Sanhedrin immediately arranged a meeting with Herod to discuss the problem of a potential rebel kohein being born into their midst, but as they feared this might not seem a sufficient threat to Herod’s power, they altered the story of the conspiracy. Instead of alluding to the threat presented to the Mikdash, Herod was advised that divination of the sacred Urim and Thummim stones foretold a recently born son of a kohein would usurp his reign by being crowned king of Judea. This modified story served to focus Herod’s fear, as rumors had long been flying about the meaning of the omen that appeared in the morning sky four years before. In fact his own astrologers had told Herod to be wary of a new king that might usurp his power.
Herod, alerted to the birth of the son of man, suspected the three sages of having knowledge of the event and therefore had the three Essene brought before him for questioning. He asked the three sages pointblank, “When was this ‘king of the Jews’ born?”
One of them wisely replied, “This we know not, we have only heard rumors of this birth. We travel to bet lahm in search of this supposed king and his family so we might examine them to verify his bloodline.”
At the behest of the Sanhedrin and out of fear for his own rule, Herod ordered that the infant be found and killed. Turning to his advisers in apoplectic rage, he screamed, “I want him dead, find this infant male and kill him! I want him dead before the end of Iyyar!”
As a result of the intelligence gathered by Mikdash spies, Herod dictated the search should focus on the village of bet lahm, where spies had reported rumors of the birth. However, the search revealed nothing but a few male infants who were clearly not of the linage that would produce a messiah or king. Nevertheless, in his fearful rage Herod had these few put to death.
Released by Herod, the three sages hurried to bet lahm to discover their error. Now it would be up to the Essene midwife to validate Yeshu’s birth as the son of Mariam and Yosef. Word traveled quickly, in a few days Mariam and Yosef received the warning of Herod’s murderous intent. Yosef had by now, been brought into the conspiratorial plan for his son. As a kohein, Yosef knew the true nature of the Mikdash kohanim. He well understood how they used the sacrificial system to enrich themselves at the expense of the Jewish people. He knew they cared more for the gold and sliver of this world then they cared for either G_d or their people. He reflected on his own motivations, instilled by Levirate law. He thought about how he had once lustfully accosted the love of his life. In time, he came to realize that the Essene were correct, the Mikdash and its kohanim were totally corrupt and self serving. They cared almost nothing for G_d outside what the use of the name provided for their swelling coffers. They willingly sacrificed their own people to enrich themselves. Knowing how his peers desperately wanted to murder the boy to protect themselves, Yosef now stood apart from the Mikdash with his first-born son. He had seen the light and become part of the conspiracy of man.
With the monastery only about ten millarium distant, the three departed bet lehem to finish the final leg of their journey to the monastery at Natzret. Here Yeshu would be raised and trained by Essene sages. It was now decided the best way to divert further attention form their presence in Natzret would be to create a feint. Essene brothers in Yerushaláyim spread quiet rumors among friends and relatives that Mariam and Yosef had fled to Egypt, while making no mention of their infant son. Another party lead a small caravan on a journey in the opposite direction, traveling sixty-eight gallic leuga south into Egypt.
The brothers and sisters living within the confines of the Natzret monastery, imparted their esoteric knowledge to their initiates. This knowledge was the original spiritual knowledge superceded by the materialistic laws fabricated by the Hasomanean Macabees’ scribe Ezra. These secrets, passed down through millennia, were far beyond traditional religious practices of the day. These were secrets that were not secret, but forgotten spiritual aspects of man’s original condition; teachings imparted to Yeshu. In time, he would preach variations of these ideas and concepts among his people, forever changing ideas about G_d and man’s relation to the spiritual realm. Centuries later, these teachings would again be usurped by Jewish Christians to be redefined in service to their own materialistic agenda for control and power.*
It is written that only conscious man can act, those in the unconscious state can only react. But to act consciously, one must fully comprehend the result of their actions beforehand. Yet among the Essene, few if any realized the far reaching implications of their protégé named Yeshu. Those who did, would have had vision stretching beyond the millennia.
Safely sheltered by his clan, Yeshu grew to boyhood. The members of his clan instructed him in language, writing, law and religion. By the eight BC, he was almost twelve years old. For Jews this was approaching the age where a boy passed to manhood. It is said that a Jewish boy has three teachers. The mother is the child’s teacher until weaned. The father is the child’s second teacher until puberty. The Torah, with all its Mitzvot, is the third and final teacher. Therefore, this celebration of the Bar Mitzvah denotes the change of teachers from the earthly father to a heavenly father. Yeshu however had more than three teachers and his instruction lay far beyond what might be normal for other young Jewish boys reaching the age of the Bar Mitzvah.
“Bar” means “adopted son.” “Mitzvah” is essentially understood as “command” or “law.” Thus, “Bar Mitzvah” means “adopted son of the law.” It is a time of life when that forever divides the life of a Jewish male. Before his Bar Mitzvah, he was a child, owned by his parents or guardians. As a child, he had no legal rights; he could even be sacrificed if his guardians so desired. After the Bar Mitzvah everything changed. No longer a child, he would now assume the legal responsibilities of adulthood. He could hold a contract, become betrothed to a future wife, but most importantly, he now answered to no one but himself and G_d. Thus the Bar Mitzvah established one as being legally subject to Levirate law and all its penalties for sin and requirements for sacrificial atonement.
As the Bar Mitzvah was a special time in life for a Jewish boy, it was decided that Yosef and Mariam would take Yeshu to Yerushaláyim to celebrate Pesach at the Mikdash. At the same time, the boy would be Bar Mitzvah. Yeshu’s teachers wanted the boy to visit the Mikdash and participate in the ceremonies so he might better understand the sacrificial system that he would oppose in the coming years.
Despite simmering political turmoil, the busy city of Yerushaláyim was a cosmopolitan place, with its colorful bazaars and never ending streams of merchant caravans. In celebration of their return, the three travelers were invited to return to the home of Shaphan and Peninnah, now old friends, remembered for their kindness and hospitality in the earlier and less certain years of Yosef and Mariam’s lives. While the young Yeshu marveled at the rich carpets Shaphan sold in the markets, but he marveled even more at the Pesach ceremony and its bloody ritual sacrifice in remembrance of Egypt’s Israelite sons, spared by the angel of death.
Yeshu was fascinated by the Kohein slitting the throat of the Paschal lamb purchased from a money lender for the purpose of the sacrifice. Blood flowed freely. A kohein, spattered with blood, caught the dark red liquid in a golden bowl and then poured it over the sides of the sacrificial altar. There was so much blood, the small channels cut into the south and west sides of the sacrificial altar overflowed with the rich, red, stuff of life drained from the throats of the living sacrifice.
Later, Yeshu’s Bar Mitzvah was observed in the Mikdash. He listened carefully to a kohein speak of their G_d YHVH. The boy knew this same personal G_d, demanding oppressive sacrificial tribute from his people, also delivered immense wealth and luxury to the kohanim claiming his voice and power.
With the celebration of Pesach at an end, the three once again mounted their caravan for the long journey back to Natzret. As the family’s caravan left Yerushaláyim, the young Yeshu slipped away to run back to the Mikdash so he might try his hand at challenging kohanim legal authority. Discovering their son missing, Yosef stopped among a grove of olive trees and returned to the city to search for his missing son, knowing exactly where he would find the boy. He proceeded directly to the Mikdash where he surmised Yeshu would be pontificating to the Mikdash authorities about religious law.
Various kohanim, P’rushim and soferim gathered around the boy, amazed at the depth of Yeshu’s “drashah” or teaching. The authorities commented among themselves that surely this young polymath was something special, little suspecting the impact this knowledge would eventually levy against their Mikdash. But far beyond the tiny world claimed by ancient Jews, the son of man would forever change the world’s religions. By the time of Yeshu’s Bar Mitzvah, Herod had been dead for six years. In that year of six AD, yet another revolt arose among the Juadeans.
Towards the end of his life, increasing political turbulence plagued the reign of Herod the Great and political matters did not improve after his death. In one BC, Herod the Great died. Augustus Caesar lost no time dividing the remaining kingdom among his sons, Philip, Antipas and Archelaus. Herod Archelaus was assigned the title Ethnarch of Judaea, with the bulk of his kingdom, consisting of Juadea, Samaria and Idumea. Almost immediately the Jews revolted against his rule.
Two scholars Judas and Matthias, whom historian Flavius Yosefus described as “two of the most eloquent men among the Jews, and the most celebrated interpreters of Jewish laws, and men well beloved by the people” incited a group of followers to destroy the golden eagle. Herod Archelaus had ordered the eagle erected over the Mikdash gate, but the Torah forbade the erection of any representation of a living creature on the Mikdash, for by law, this would be construed as idol worship. The eagle was the symbol of Rome, therefore the Jews naturally viewed this act as Herod’s worship of Caesar as G_d. The scholars and forty of their followers were caught by soldiers. In the ensuing melee the rebels were brought before Herod for trial. Herod had Matthias and his companions burned alive for their act of insurrection. This event led to a general revolt as the Jews had never truly accepted Herod as one of their own and his despotic reign had created a simmering rage among Jews of the region.
The Romans sallied forth from Herod’s palace to quell the revolt and a terrible slaughter ensued around the Mikdash. Surrounding cloisters were burned, with a few of the protestors throwing themselves into the fire or falling on their swords rather than suffer execution by Roman soldiers. Legionnaires seized the Mikdash treasury, dividing the wealth amongst themselves and Sabinus, treasurer for Syria under Augustus. Sabinus had been ordered to Judea after Herod’s death in four BC as procurator for the king’s estate. Upon his arrival, he acceded to the request of Varus, governor of Syria, to hand over custody of all the citadels and treasures to Archelaus, pending Caesar’s decision concerning Herod’s will.
However, immediately after the departure of Varus to Antioch and Archelaus for Rome, he took possession of the royal palace, demanding Herod’s treasure from the estate custodians. His conduct resulted in yet another revolt, this one during the festival of Shavuot, a time when pious pilgrims assembled in Yerushaláyim for the observance. Sabinus had seized the Tower of Phasael, from which he gave the signal to attack the rebels. As the battle developed, Legionnaires set fire to the Mikdash chambers and captured the Mikdash treasury. In turn, the rebels increased their efforts, laying siege to the palace, trapping Sabinus and the Legionnaires inside. As anti-Roman sentiment among the Jews exploded out of control, most of Herod’s troops deserted, including three thousand of his fiercest warriors along with a contingent of his best cavalry. As the insurrection spread, two thousand more of Herod’s seasoned soldiers joined the rebels, driving his loyalist troops out of the plains and into the mountains.
To make matters worse, Archelaus was now on his way to Rome to be crowned by Augustus. In his absence, violent riots arose among the common people. The revolution spread throughout Judaea into Galil. Galil was then a frontier province bordering Syria. The Galilean Jews were a hardened breed of frontiersmen. The leaders of these uprisings were a robber named Judas and a royal slave called Simon and a shepherd named Athronges, who claimed himself the new messiah. Judas, son of Ezekias, had been head of the robbers. His father, described as a “strong man”, had been captured by Herod’s troops only with great difficulty. These rebels raided the royal armory in Sepphoris, plundering weapons and equipment with which to arm themselves. Around that same time Herod’s palace at Jericho was attacked and burned to the ground by the rebels until the loyalist troops were routed along with their rulers.
Archelaus’ troops, unable to cope with the revolt, called on the Roman governor of Syria, Publius Quinctilius Varus. General, Varus immediately departed for Judea with three of his four Syrian legions to the region, along with various auxiliary forces provided by leaders of the surrounding region whose forces included fierce Nabatean Arabs. In suppressing the revolt, Varus had two thousand people crucified. Under the command of his son, Legionnaires burned Sepphoris and enslaved its inhabitants. While villages burned, some of the rebel leaders escaped. However, by the end of the revolt, two thousand Zealots had been crucified and six thousand Galileans were carried off into slavery. Herod Archelaus now became so despised, that Jews and Samarians united in their appeal to Rome to depose the king.
It was a tumultuous time for Judaea and the unrest of the Jewish peasantry only increased as events unfolded. The kohein gadol Joazar managed to convince most Jews that they should cooperate with these new authorities, since the alternative would be the return of the detested king Herod Archelaus. Still, resistance to Roman rule remained. A Pharisee named Zadok and a soferim from Galil, named Judas of Gamala, said that Roman taxation was equivalent to slavery and exhorted the Jews to revolt. They said YHVH was Israel’s only lord and G_d, therefore it was blasphemous to pay tribute to anyone else – including a Roman emperor.
The Mikdash kohanim and their soferim promised followers that violent revolt would soon bring forth a righteous and just Messiah and this man, a G_d incarnate, would lead them to victory. Yet, their promises rang hollow in the ears of a people who had first hand experience in tasting the sharp edge of the empire’s power. By this time, the Romans had amassed hundreds of years of experience in ruling the unruly. Over the centuries, they had developed many techniques of political and economic intrigue and manipulation that kept opposing powers well off balance and where such techniques failed, the full military might of the empire fell upon rebellion, crushing it as a Roman boot might crush a scorpion beneath its heel.
Caesar finally banished Archelaus to Gaul in six AD while making Judaea a more or less autonomous part of the Roman province Syria, ruled by a Roman procurator. The Syrian governor Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was then ordered to organize the taxation of the new prefecture. Taxes had formerly been paid in produce. However, during Quirinius’ census, the inhabitants were required to declare their property in money. In six CE, Coponius was appointed the first governor or prefect of the Iudean province. In nine CE Marcus Ambivulus succeeded Coponius as governor of Juadea and Syria. Then in twelve CE, Annius Rufus succeeded Marcus Ambivulus as governor of the region. Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus, born Tiberius Claudius Nero was the second Roman Emperor. He ruled from the death of Octavian Augustus in fourteen AD until his death in 37AD.
The Emperor Tiberius commanded a number of small, but potentially difficult, provinces. Among the most difficult of these provinces was that of Judaea. The difficulty with maintaining control over the Judean province lay in the fact that Jews were by nature an unruly lot who, although conquered, were constantly invoked to uprisings either by the kohanim of the Mikdash or by various rebel groups. New Roman conquests generally fell into a category known as “equestrian”, but the status of the conquest would later change to reflect the evolving conditions of Rome’s growing empire.
Thus, upon its conquest, a province would become known as a procuratorial province. It would remain as such until the emperor decided it should be declared either an imperial or senatorial province; at which point a propraetor or proconsul would be appointed to rule over the region. Smaller provinces like Judaea were held under the control of equestrian procurators. Equestrian procurators could serve any length of time, as long as five years or even longer. However, these equestrian procurators did not hold the powers of a governor. Though the practice of appointing equestrians officially began with Augustus, governors from years before were appointed procurators to help them govern.
By definition these procurators were prefects, a procuratorship was the formal way of denoting a prefect’s authority to govern. Procurators were not magistrates and so were not vested with imperium, or the full power of the state, vested in a person, to perform in whatever manner was considered to be in the best interest of the state. Instead, procurators merely exercised or reflected an emperor’s, or governor’s, authority by their approval. Although the smaller provinces administrated by a procurator typically did not rate the strength of an entire legion, Tiberius found the unruly province of Judaea required a larger contingent than usual. If the procurator of this province were expected to maintain control over the region, he would need a larger military presence. For this reason, Tiberius had promised the new Procurator reinforcements to the legion’s Judean contingent.
Pilate broke the emperor’s seal that constrained his official orders. Although he well knew beforehand what the orders held, the impact was still felt when he read the words that posted him to one of the worst provinces in Rome’s empire. Far-flung and hostile, there was no telling how long his posting might be to this stinking Roman armpit known as Judaea. It was the blackest day in Pilate’s life when he and his wife, Claudia Procula, boarded the Roman galley that would deliver them to Caesarea on the coast of Judaea.
In twenty-six AD, Tiberius appointed a new Prefect to Judaea. That bright, sunny day the surface of the Mediterranean shined and rippled like the buffed coriaceus worn by the man standing just off the balcony of the governor’s palace in Caesara. He made a final check of the alignment of his uniform and then picked up the ivory baton surmounted by an eagle. With the baton denoting the power of his office firmly in his grasp, he strode onto the balcony with the captain of the palace guard. The captain ceremoniously unfurled a scroll and read the proclamation made by Tiberius, “Hear ye! Hear ye! To all Roman subjects of Palestine, citizen, free men, and slave. By order of Tiberius Claudius Nero, Caesar of the imperial empire, the honored procurator of Juadea, Valerius Gratus, has been ordered to proceed to Rome to assume new duties to the Emperor. Furthermore, by order of Tiberius Claudius Nero, Caesar of the imperial empire, the honorable Pontius Pilate is hereby declared procurator of all Juadea. All Roman subjects are commanded to hear and obey the orders and commands issued by the presiding procurator, the honorable Pontius Pilate.”
A few days later, on a dreary afternoon, an official runner arrived at the governor’s palace. Riffling though his message bag, the messenger chose a small scroll from within its leather confines. The scroll, retaining the seal of King Herod Antipas, was unceremoniously handed to the soldier guarding the door before the runner hurried off to his next destination. The guard delivered the small scroll to Pilate’s secretary who then delivered it to the Procurator’s office, nestled among the other documents of Roman administration. Pilate sat at his desk attending to his official duties; a requirement demanded by all bureaucracies since the very first day, the paperwork of administration. Pilate mused aloud to himself, “O how much easier to be run through by a sword on the field of battle than to drown in the Atramentum of the squid.” Sorting through the newly arrived documentation, he came across the small scroll bearing the king’s seal and unseated it from its nest among the other documents.
“What now?” grumbled Pilate, “is it not sufficient that I have to deal with matters of the Roman state; must I deal with the Jews as well?”
Breaking the fragile seal, Pilate unfurled the small scroll to find an invitation to a reception honoring him as the new procurator of Judaea.
O Happy day, first a mountain of official paper work to which I must attend and now an official party to which I must also attend. Well at least my beloved Claudia will be happy, for she does so love to play among the hoi oligoi. Even a king of the Jews is still a king and the by the G_ds, this forsaken shit-hole will not afford many opportunities to attend the happiness of my beloved.
With that thought in mind, Pilate quickly penned a personal notice of acceptance.
The day of the reception arrived on a particularly beautiful and temperate day, rare in the region for that time of year. Pilate and Claudia dressed for the occasion in the robes common to Roman citizens of their stature. As the servant carefully attended the draping of Pilate’s woolen, off-white toga with its purple border, Pilate spoke,
“My dear your heart would be faint for me if you knew the number of scrolls required to administrate this region, for you might fear my suffocation under the weight of those documents. I only wish there were another way to track the business of the empire, one that did not require the use of those damnable scrolls.” Momentarily pulling away from his attendant, he employed his eyes and hands to enhance his description, “Big scrolls, little scrolls, tiny scrolls, plain scrolls, ornate scrolls; scrolls with no seals, others with large, official, seals, but all scrolls! Scrolls! My beloved when my day comes and I am upon my funeral bier, I have but one last desire.”
Claudia, adjusted an uneven earring, “And what might that wish be my love?”
Picking up the official invitation, Pontius replied, “My last wish is that there be not one of these damnable scrolls in attendance, nor one within ten stadia of my funeral procession.”
Claudia laughed, “There will be many years before I must attend to such details, in the meantime we must be off to the reception.”
“Just as I feared my love, just as I feared. I will alert the escort. I thought we might walk today, for we dare not waste such an exquisite day as this region provides so few of them.”
Claudia exclaimed, “Walk, are you mad!? We are to walk to the king’s reception announcing your appointment all Judaea? We shall be the laughing stock of the province!”
Pilate tried calming her with a soothing tone, “Nonsense my dear, no one laughs at the procurator less they face his wrath, besides I want to keep these Jews off balance by acting in unexpected manners”.
Claudia however insisted, “We simply must take the lectiʹca to the reception!”
But Pilate again refused, saying, “My dear it is but a short distance to Herod’s reception hall and the jolting ride of the lectiʹca is more than I can take on such a fine day.”
Then he laughed and added, “Besides, I have misplaced my branch of Pontic wormwood with which to protect my anus. Come my love, keep our spirits merry on this fine day; finish your preparations and let us be off”.
In the manner Pilate had planned, the couple arrived on foot at Herod’s reception hall. Claudia’s ire had cooled appreciably in the afternoon shade of the quiet streets, cleared by Herod’s order. What small part remained of her vexation evaporated the moment they made their grand entrance into the hall, for all the nobles in attendance awaited the couple with warmest greetings. It was a lavish party as only royalty could afford, and after formal introductions were made, the merriment began in earnest, transporting Claudia to the familiar social whirl of intimate rumors and intrigue.
Moving gracefully among the guests, she attracted the lion share of the crowd’s attention. The attention of the guests was due in part to her position as the most intimate confidant of the guest of honor, but equally due to her alluring beauty. Pilate had married well and it was but a short time before word of Claudia’s stature reached the remotest corners of the reception hall. This gave Pilate time to slip away from the throng and out to a secluded garden enclosed within the walls of the reception hall.
Sitting down on a nearby couch to ponder matters of state that would soon arise. No sooner had his chin sunk to his hand, he was surprised by a voice from behind, “Greetings most noble procurator of Rome, my apologies for intruding upon this moment of private reflection.”
Looking around, Pilate discovered the voice belonged to none other than king Herod Antipas himself. Herod continued, “I thought we might share a few moments privately to discuss certain discreet matters of state beyond our formal courts. No doubt you are aware the most formal proclamations often arise from the most informal conversations.”
“Yes, I have often heard that is the case” mused Pilate. Herod jibed, “Come now, a man does not reach the Roman office of Procurator without being intimately familiar with the manner in which matters of state are typically resolved between two parties intertwined by conquest!”
Pilate mildly rebuffed the comment, “Obviously, neither does a man become king without knowledge of such political intrigue.”
“Quite so, quite so!” replied Herod.
“What does Judean royalty wish then of a simple Roman bureaucrat?” queried Pilate.
Caught off guard, Herod stopped for a moment to size up the man sitting on the couch. He had not expected such a mild response from the procurator. Reports were that Pilate was quite arrogant and brusque in manner; yet the man sitting before him seemed anything but arrogant or brusque. In fact he seemed almost subdued, perhaps even dejected.
Herod continued cautiously, “Perhaps you are aware that I was raised in Rome and trained in its schools? I have traveled far beyond this flyspeck on the empire’s map. My experience has led to understanding matters far beyond Judaea. After a man has lived at the very hub of the world and savored its pleasures, well let us say that I am as much a Roman at heart as you. Knowing the problems of Judaea, as only a king and loyal subject of the empire might, it has long grieved me to see the Roman administration of this province manipulated by the clever and deceptive practices employed by the Mikdash kohanim, men who care nothing for their own people and even less for citizens of Rome. For Rome, this province represents little more than wine, dates and taxes, but for the kohanim, this is their empire. They are frogs and this is the only pond they have to float upon.”
Pilate interjected, “I do find it strange that a people might love so desolate a land and a religion that returns so little”.
Herod responded abruptly, “The people know nothing! They are provincial in both mind and spirit; they have little experience outside this realm and understand even less the larger matters of state influencing their lives. What they are painfully aware of is the tribute extracted from them by both Rome and the Mikdash. You are aware that I have written a number of letters concerning these subjects to Tiberius?”
“He did in fact mention some correspondence.”
Herod paused, drawing a breath before continuing, “You have risen through the military ranks and have served most honorably in the legion’s army. I find men of your background to be of a most practical nature. Although I lack military experience, I too am of such a nature, therefore can we agree in taking an approach befitting our practical natures?”
Shifting his position on the couch, Pilate agreed, “I think we stand in agreement on taking such an approach.”
“Well then let us begin with your orders to raise taxes”. Before Pilate could respond, Herod added, “oh no, my dear procurator, this knowledge comes not from any spy I have within your office, I simply know Tiberius and his administrative policies towards the provinces. Long ago, the Mikdash kohanim calculated the maximum amount of effort that could be extracted from a people before social breakdown would occur. The timeframe for this maximum effort was established at six days. A seventh day had to be set aside for rest and renewal if the process is to continue uninterrupted by social strife. For this reason, they have based their entire system of sacrifice on this seven-day period. Now it takes the entire productive effort of one day for a Jew to support himself and his family, another day of labor is required for the rent of his land. Another day is required to pay taxes to Rome and all the rest of his labor is spent meeting the sacrificial tribute and tithing demands of the Mikdash kohanim. Furthermore, the kohanim have cleverly woven it into their law that no labor may be expended on their day of rest, even labor as inconsequential as that found in lighting a fire is forbidden. So unless Rome can find a way to add another day to the week, there is nothing left to be taken in further tribute.”
Pilate looked hard at Herod, “You’re intimating that I might command Caiaphas to lower the Mikdash tithes?”
Herod smiled wanly, “Only so much grain can be poured from the bucket. If the bull is to get a larger share, the ass must get less. Under my father’s rule, Judaea produced more than enough to satisfy both Caesar and the king’s house. Now these interlopers enrich themselves at the expense of both Rome and Judaea! While Tiberius may be denied his increase, my tribute has shrunk to a mere fraction of what my father once enjoyed. I can see only one solution to this otherwise intractable situation. . .” Pilate interjected, “depose Caiaphas”.
“As I said Excellency, we are practical men of like minds. You have the power to confiscate the Mikdash treasury and then force his successor to cut the Mikdash tithes to the very bone. . .”
Pilate finished Herod’s thought, “And divide the wealth among the two powers.”
Herod bowed, and with sweeping gesture offered, “You have but to command me Excellency I will comply to whatever order is required to fulfill this action.”
Pilate rose from his seat and paced the floor, “Yes, yes, a splendid plan no doubt and I am certain you stand at the ready with your assistance, but I find one major flaw in this plan – you.”
Herod spluttered, “But, but, your Excellency . . .”
Pilate raised his hand, “Your power over this region is but a mere shadow of your father. He had a refined taste for power and ruled with an iron hand. By contrast, you are blind to the demands of power. You are a sot, an intoxicated dilettante who spends his time on frivolous personal matters instead of attending to important matters of state. You’re a lecher, a liar, a fool, you squandered a kingdom that once lay at your feet, held firm by Rome’s command! You married a sheik’s daughter to appease your Arab subjects and then cast her from your house, forever alienating every Arab in the province. As if this did not bring sufficient ruin upon your kingdom, you then violated your own religious code by marrying your brother’s wife, turning your own people against you!”
Herod jumped to counter the attack, “Mistakes! Mistakes to be sure, but should a man be condemned for the remainders of his days for a few simple mistakes?”
“Mistakes only a fool would compound and I do not suffer fools.”
Herod begged, “But your Excellency, I only ask for another small chance to regain my standing so that I may better serve Rome.”
With fists seated firmly on his hips, Pilate now turned to face Herod. Leveling a withering gaze reserved for the most obsequious of his subjects, Pilate said, “I find unmitigated gall in a plan that involves Rome in the restoration of that which you lost through your own ineptness and at the risk of insurrection no less! While Rome takes a substantial risk in losing both blood and money on this grand effort, you stand only to gain by this venture, for if Rome wins, you regain a king’s share of the profits. Yet, in the unlikely event the kohanim gains an upper hand, then you should jump to their defense, declaring undying allegiance to your people, thereby restoring your position lost by marriage to your brother’s wife. I tell you Herod, while your people deny you as a member of their tribe, I find you the quintessential Jew in many respects. I say this to you, Rome does not appoint fools to govern and only a fool would dare entertain such a plan!”
With that, Pilate strode back to the reception where he found Claudia surrounded by a receptive audience listening to her lavish descriptions of Roman court. Herod remained in the garden to reflect on his initial encounter with the new Procurator, but only one thought came to mind, “This man is far more dangerous than his detractors led me to believe.”
Soon after Pilate took office, the quaestor requested an audience so they might discuss matters of the treasury. Awaiting the arrival of the quaestor, Pilate slumped dejectedly in a chair to contemplate his new home among the empire’s most despised nether region. Surveying the physical surroundings of his new office, he found it quite cramped. The space was now less than half of what he had enjoyed in his Roman office and the heat felt like the fires of Hades itself torturing him. Thinking to himself, Pilate could not help but dwell on the blackness of his future in this place. This would not have happened had I been more circumspect in my reply to Tiberius. He could have had me executed, but I was not so lucky for instead I am to be tortured by banishment to a place that lays but a stone’s toss from Hades. The horrid denizens of this underworld are all the worse, for in their torment they lash out at any semblance of control over their primitive, dissolute lives. These people are fools and now I am appointed governor of fools.
A knock on the door interrupted Pilate’s reverie. Without looking up, he responded, “Come!”
The procurator’s quaestor bustled into the office, accompanied by several assistants carrying those documents and implements necessary to matters of the state treasury. After carefully laying out these items on a nearby table, the quaestor motioned his assistants to leave.
As soon as the latch was heard to fall, the quaestor began making his report to Pilate. “My Lord the treasury reports that some one thousand . . ., but the words quickly faded from Pilate’s consciousness as the blackness of his thoughts returned and the longer the quaestor droned on, the blacker became Pilate’s mood. Suddenly Pilate was jolted from his foul thoughts by a small chest set before him. Opening the chest, the quaestor began describing its contents, “Here my lord are the most valuable items in Judaea’s treasury. Pilate waved a scornful hand, “No doubt more jewels, trinkets and other golden baubles confiscated from hapless Jews of the region”, but the quaestor replied, “no my lord, these are far more precious than any stone or bauble. These are in fact records of a most singular nature.”
Pilate now sat upright to take closer note of the scrolls laid out before him. The quaestor continued, “My lord these are the records of Rome’s most private agreements with those of Judaea who have found both public and secret collaboration most profitable.”
Raising his hand, Pilate interrupted the quaestor, “So we know the traitors and the bribes we have paid to keep the rabble down. Fine, fine, continue the payments and bribes and let the other matters of state move forward”.
Understanding Pilate’s exasperation, the quaestor patiently waited until he had completed his dismissal, “My lord there is much more to these documents then the mere recording of bribes and payments. Attached to these agreements are notes on the nature of each man, whether he might be trusted and if so how far and what incentives might be used to most effectively sway them to our views. My lord, these are verbatim transcripts of verbal agreements made in secret, but recorded by a scribe hidden from view during the process. These traitors have no knowledge that their promises have in fact become a matter of record.
Exasperated, Pilate again interrupted the quaestor, “Yes, yes, I know, I know all this. Do you think I came by this office yesterday?” and seeing his gaffe, added with a wry smile, “You need not answer that question. Look my friend, Rome is my life. I have been a member of its government since the beginning of my labors. I first served as a loyal soldier in our legion where I led men into battle. For this service, I was promoted to higher ranks until now I serve as procurator. Do you think I rose to this position by my inability to lead? I know men and I know what motivates them. I know how to march them to their deaths on the field of battle and I know how to persuade them to murder their mothers for political gain. Such knowledge, even at the lowest level, is a fundamental requirement for any leader of Rome; and now you tell me that somehow these documents will enhance my ability to deal with these Jews?”
Drawing a breath, the quaestor continued, “My lord, I know you are short of patience with this matter. I too was skeptical when my predecessor laid out these documents before me, but my lord it is imperative you understand the nature of these people you are appointed to govern. These men are not like those other honorable men of Rome’s occidental conquests. These are Asiatic men; oriental minds behind tongues that twist words with the sinuate skill of a snake striking its prey. These Jews convince others black is white and turn a procurator’s simple statement into a magnanimous grant of power. These are not men willing to face their opponents in open battle, but deliver a sword thrust to his back in the dead of night.
“These are men who scheme and maneuver, but unless forced, refuse to do so openly. Then when forced, they lash out like cornered rats. These men make war on Rome by deception and subterfuge. No my lord, there are none like them in the world, for these are a people unique in nature. These Jews are as unique in their nature as their chosen status with their singular G_d, a G_d they claim chooses them above all others. My lord, Rome’s orders have not changed; continue exacting tribute, increase the grain shipments and maintain order over a province that covers some half million square stadia. But you are asked to do this with but one beleaguered legion comprised of men sick to death of their assignment among these hostile people.”
“Tiberius has promised reinforcements that should bring the legion up to full operating strength.”
Yet the quaestor lamented, “My lord five, or even ten, legions could not maintain order in this region. The only possible order to this region lies within these scrolls, for the information contained in these transcriptions allow for the same type of political leverage as that which the Jews themselves employ. These people have no respect for law or morality, they maintain no semblance of honor; they only respect that which they fear, the raw force of the sword and threats to their lives and comfort. While we look down upon them with scornful disdain, they look upon us with a veiled hatred unknown to Roman sensibilities. Their hatred exceeds all other tempers; why they celebrate their hate by making holidays of it in remembering both victory and defeat of enemies either forgotten or unknown by others.
“My lord these are a very special people who require a very special form of rule, one like that applied to the most cunning, devious and vicious beast of prey. Otherwise, they will fall upon us with bared, bloody fangs and devour us in an instant. Their limitations must be firmly established like an iron chain around the neck of a mad dog and they must be allowed even less freedom. To allow them their own appointments to any position of authority is tantamount to suicide, for like a pernicious weed they will grow a single appointment until it covers the land with similar appointments, obedient only to their commands.
“Look at the names on these scrolls, the Sheikh Abu Khayr, the tetrarch Herod Antipas, the kohein gadol Caiaphas and the former kohein gadol Annas; skulking jackals all, circling in anticipation of another kill made by the Roman lion and these are scavengers Rome has chosen to lead the pack so the lion may gorge in peace. My lord, above all other matters concerning Judaea, I would first advise that you study these scrolls and reflect long on how they might be most effectively employed in service to Rome. Not only will this knowledge serve you in good stead for your next appointment, but it may well preserve every Roman’s life in this region as well.”
Later that day Pilate sat in his office studying the documents left by the quaestor. He raved to himself, “Concessions to the law! Concessions to the Mikdash! Concessions on all manner of tribute! Concessions to sacrificial taxes and what they refer to as graven images – by the Optimus Maximus, one might think Rome had been conquered by the Jews!”
Even as Pontius Pilate settled into the office of state, Yeshu was undergoing training at the monastery where sages instructed the boy in both the esoteric matters of the spiritual domain and carnal matters of the temporal world. Yeshu was an apt pupil for his teachers. He learned Mikdash law and customs by heart. He came to understand the true meanings behind their ceremonies as well the symbolic ones. He learned about the vibrational densities of matter and how to master them. With this knowledge one could either sink their feet into rock or walk on water. He learned meditative techniques that enabled self observation along with various breathing techniques and postures that would advance his mental and spiritual state. He learned the techniques for healing, and by the age of fifteen, Yeshu had mastered much knowledge of which few men had ever heard whispered.

*While the ancient Essene have faded into the dark recesses of history, their knowledge is still in existence, guarded by various groups like those known as Sufis and Buddhists. This knowledge transcends religion, serving to liberate man from the material plane of his existence, freeing him from the oppressive bondage and suffering imposed by both religious and secular leadership, along with all levels of their administration. Because this knowledge liberates man from the bondage of his flesh, i.e the means by which reigning powers exert their influence, those holding the reigns of power greatly fear the spread of this knowledge as did the priests of the second temple period. The crucifixion of Jesus is just one example of the type of persecution suffered by those imparting this knowledge. However, Jesus pursued a very specific agenda, one requiring a distinct form of sacrificial death. Beheading is another punishment typically imposed by those suppressing this knowledge.
This persecution is why the knowledge went underground and why it has long been held to be “secret”. It explains why it has become increasingly difficult to find an enlightened teacher who can impart the full form of the original knowledge. There is much power in this knowledge, which is why there has always been legions of false teachers and “prophets” manipulating various fragments of this knowledge. But unlike the true teacher imparting the knowledge enrich the student or “seeker”, false teachers use their fragmentary knowledge only to enrich themselves at the expense of others.

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