Archive for January, 2008

Ari Loves Sal; The Story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene

Ari Loves Sal

 

A glimpse into the lives of Jesus and Mary Magdelene

 

Excerpted from The First Messiah

 

 

By Yuya Joseph

 

 

The First Part

 

Not long after arrival at the home and gardens of Antonia, the Agrippa family palace, Herod Joseph noticed that young Aristobulus was not to be seen among his extended kin. He enquired around the house, as there were several apartments where kids and their families were playing, in addition to the main quarters, and at first nobody knew of his son’s whereabouts, and deep concern began to show on Joe’s face. His wife Mariamne and others also noticed that their son Ari Jesh was not among the revelers, and different people had begun enquiring about his presence.

 

A disappointed and upset though still radiantly beautiful young Salome turned to a family member at the gathering and enquired, “I thought that cousin Aristobulus was going to be here; he is the only reason I wanted to come to this place today. Where is he?”

 

She was the daughter of Herodias and had just turned fourteen years of age, and cousin Ari no longer seemed like a young boy to her, he was now sophisticated and insightful. Her uncle, Herod Joseph of Chalcis, had been raising him since he was a toddler, and loving him and teaching him as if he were his very soul. He wasn’t even a teenager yet, but he was already her best friend ever, and it bothered her that he was not here where she expected him to be.

 

Salome was to remember this day for all of her life, and though Jesh thought of it fondly, Sal considered it the beginning of a downward trend that kept her away from Ari Jesh for long periods of time. She felt it marked the beginning of something she would have to heal from and overcome, that feeling of being so freaking alone that you imagine that everything you have ever done has been wrong. Her heart told her things would be okay, but her mind raced with despair at all the news of the troubles.

 

During her unhappy first marriage, she thought of this day and how she would someday marry the boy prophet, for very few had ever said Jahn Philip was the Messiah or the Anointed One, and even those were mostly unreliable, excepting the Mandeans whose devotion has in time been proven farsighted, essentially solidifying the role of Baptism in the emerging faith. James also had his followers but when people referred to Jeshua as the Messiah or the Anointed, nobody ever seemed to say a word against him, and everyone proclaimed his goodness and worthiness. Was She also not the Holy Princess of Judea, deserving of a Righteous King and all of Israel? Surely her destiny was not to be designated a half portion and an old man that only extremists still openly supported. Her mother Herodias would soon marry Herod Antipas, changing the course of history, but all this would come later.

 

Mariamne believed, as did many others, that her son Ari Jeshu’s purpose on earth was to be a Saviour of the Judaic People, the long-awaited Anointed One. When he grew into the premier Teacher in the country and people told her that he could even bring peace to all nations, that he was a Messiah to many Greeks, and Egyptians and Syrians also, she was not the type to limit his aspirations and range. Their reported later disputes in Galilee only reflected her concerns for his safety.

 

Although there was one particularly rough patch during Ari’s late teens, Mariamne IV was not the first queen (nor the last) to have major problems with the royal men in her life. The sometimes heartless, sometimes shoddy treatment of his mother, the Woman by the Well, was likely a factor in Ari Jesh’s own fervent commitment to the sanctity of marriage, and also to his overwhelming devotion to Salome and their children. He knew of the sacrifices women had to make in their lives, and his mom and his wife were each examples, for Salome had been forced to marry while still young, for the “good of the people,” and his mom had been divorced against her wishes, more than once. He believed deeply in the equality of all human beings, and the strong men and women who formed him in his childhood and adolescence became the builders of a great and growing nation.

 

Salome was also exceedingly popular, for everyone who knew her loved her, and when some called her Salome Mariamne, it wasn’t always just a reference to her own heritage, for the holy mantle came from her mother-in-law also. They were both ladies of the highest stature, Carriers of the Covenant, and the Virgin Mother Maryam role was later for Salome of the Tower to shoulder almost entirely on her own, and the Beloved One would prove to do a miraculous job.

 

These were the most difficult years in Jeshua’s life. In his early to mid-teens, the separation from his mother and younger siblings was excruciatingly painful, while in his later teens the expectations of some in Galilee and Jerusalem were hugely unreachable. People were anticipating Jesh would unite all Jews and overthrow the Romans, but he was more concerned with uniting Jews and Romans, and indeed all humanity. Purists questioned his pedigree, radicals challenged his passion, his family was concerned about some of the company he was keeping, and authorities were always quick to enquire what the large gatherings were about. Couple this social pressure with his deep disappointment in Salome’s betrothal to Philip Jahn, and you can see how the emotions would build.

 

One time when Sal was nineteen and Jesh was seventeen, the Roman soldiers were parading torch-lit images of the Emperor through the streets of Jerusalem, and Salome and Ari Jesh were among a group of youthful leaders who organized a non-violent sit-down in the street. Everyone proceeded to lay down, blocking the path of Procurator Pontius Pilate and other officials, who eventually agreed to have the processions stopped permanently.

 

At eighteen Jesh still led prayer and study groups in Jerusalem, and contributed to the Temple in many ways, but was increasingly drawn to the universalist teachings of the Way, and before his twentieth birthday his thinking and philosophy were already international in scope.

 

Hashmonein, Levantine, Persian, Ethiopian and other strains of Judaic royalty and divinity were prevalent in the highly learned city of Alexandria along the Egyptian coast, and when it came time for more advanced schooling, Ari Jesh was able to stay with family while attending University there. Recent years had seen personal disappointments, including being separated from his mother, and then seeing her be hurt again, and also witnessing his sweetheart and future wife enduring a marriage of scriptural convenience.

 

One year when she was able to stay with Jesh for a longer period, Mariamne even traveled up the Nile with him, to visit and worship at the ancient temples. At Thebes they met with some of the Ethiopian royal family, including two sons of the Queen that were each on a pilgrimage to the same festival. A local scholar translated some artworks on the wall in one of the older temples, relating stories of Queens Hatshepsut and Amenirdis, and Ari Jesh found it to be a particularly illuminating moment, though in the depths of his heart, it just made him ache all the more for Salome.

 

The Ethiopians fascinated their hosts and the other guests with vivid recollections of Sol-Amen’s achievements and Musa’s great life, for they each had Ethiopian wives and their tremendous human legacies were known in the hills and the valleys from Napata and Meroe to Axum, as they would continue to be for centuries and unto this day in Mekele, Lalibela, and Addis Ababa.

 

Mariamne and Aristobulus were treated as a Queen and a Prince of God’s Own Court, and all as true cousins in Jah Light embraced them heartily. Mother Mari and Her Son were astounded at the reception they received, and at the Ethiopians profound knowledge of Jerusalem, Her wisdom and Her blessings.

 

It was only a brief encounter, but those hours would stay with Jesh forever. He had read much of Ethiopia and had met Ethiopians at school, and was deeply honored to have spent time with distant cousins of the Southern Temple. These Holy Brethren were also sons and daughters of Musa and Sol-Amen and David and Abraham. Ari Jesh was himself becoming the Lamb of Israel, and here he had spoken and dined with the veritable Lions of Judah by the Nile. He had a vision that the world would one day be united again, not through power or force, but rather through spirit and goodwill. He knew that He was living in the early days, but was also confident that the hour of the teachings would arrive unexpectedly.

 

It was a most satisfying journey, and Ari’s deep love and profound respect for all of humanity became more rooted, and for all of his life he was to treasure these inspiring moments. Floating along the big river, coming home from this trip, conversing on a smooth sailing boat during a clear star-lit night, Mariamne had some news that would liven up Jeshua’s heart. “Salome sent a message for you, and you will be happy to hear it,” smiled Mom Mariamne.

 

“You waited all these hours to tell me this?” asked an inquisitive looking, partly shocked Ari.

 

“Yes my son, I didn’t want you thinking of her all the time, though you know I love her like a daughter.” Mariamne continued with the good news. “She will be here in eleven days, and she will be able to spend some time with you. Salome said to meet her just south of Giza, where the roads intersect below the pyramids, at noon the day after Sabbath next. You can see that junction from the Strangler statue … I am telling you both to wear Egyptian clothing, and be certain you are not being followed.”

 

“I can’t believe what you are telling me, I have been receiving her letters but I haven’t seen Salome in over two years.” Jesh continued, “Thanks, mom, this has been the best week ever.”

 

« Well, don’t think I can’t see the aching hurt in your eyes and hear the longing in your voice when you speak of her, » spoke Mary softly, and at that the two of them watched the shores of Hermopolis and Akhetaten flow by.

 

Ari studied under and broke bread with Philo and other masters, and often conversed with the well-regarded (at the time) Tiberius Julius Alexander when he was home visiting family. It was a milieu of learning, respect and culture, and most believed that it was here that Aristobulus grew from being a sometimes-awkward adolescent into a powerful, vibrant young man. Vespasian also stayed at the country palace, and after he married Jesh’s sister Polla, the two of them would laugh over some good times they had there as young men.

 

On an occasion less than a year after returning from Alexandria, more than a few thousand had followed Jeshua and his disciples out into the desert, for a period of fasting and prayer. A Roman garrison had seen the men gathering on the edge of Jerusalem before their journey into the desert, and a bystander had been heard referring to them as God’s Army. The story was retold within the garrison and soon there was speculation that an attack on the Holy City, or on Roman strongholds, was being planned.

 

After a day, the Roman soldiers went into the desert and slew scores of followers, injuring hundreds more and scattering all to their own homes and hiding places. Jesh and his closest brethren all got away on horseback, but were devastated at the loss of precious life, and the brutal reaction of the soldiers to their gathering. When local officials got word that their military camp had attacked a prayer session led by a Herodian prince, they were fearful of Rome’s reaction and so they sent word that they had put down a revolt provoked by an Egyptian false prophet, and nothing more was heard of the matter.

 

At the Mount Gerizim festival in Samaria, everything had gone more smoothly for Ari and the core followers of the Way. The final third of the teachings were being relayed, one line at a time, from the front to the back of the crowd by a chorus of seven, which would repeat each line of Ari Jesh’s in unison. They were standing about thirty meters deep into the natural amphitheatre, which elevated slightly after an initial drop-off.

 

Blessed are those who come in peace

 

Blessed are those who believe in the great knower of unseen things

 

Blessed are those who do unto others as they wish upon themselves

 

Blessed are they that mourn this troubled world, for they shall be comforted

 

Blessed are the Children, for they speak the truth before God and before man

 

Blessed are the meek and the humble, for they shall inherit the earth

 

Blessed are the Women, for they give life and nurture souls

 

Blessed are the Chosen, for they stay close to the Way

 

 

The Sermon finished with a chorus of Hallelujah’s and the crowd began slowly and peacefully disbursing, though many stayed behind for healing and counsel. Ari Jeshua was serene, content, and finally feeling that there were many who were taking his message to heart. Seven double lines formed, and the fourteen leaders and elders of the Way were asked for healing and forgiveness and guidance and Light, in fourteen orderly streams.

 

Jesh had taught his close followers a range of healing techniques, such as relieving depression with vigorous massage beneath and around the shoulder blades, or gentle relaxing of the sinus and temple regions to alleviate forehead pain, or the neck and upper shoulders for general pain relief and release of Chi, plus many other restorative methods, and families far and wide were able to benefit from the brothers and sisters of the Way. When a caregiver was present with the sick or injured, the healing and guidance was provided for both, so spirit and methodology carried on and spread out. A lot can be accomplished with human touch, pure water and sunlight. Throw in a few berries and some pomegranate kernels and it’s a magic moment.

 

Prince Ari was busy with teaching and healing, and Princess Sal was beginning to attend Way meetings in Jerusalem, so messages were passed through friends and relatives. Salome’s husband was quite busy with business and royal matters, and her mind was often on the wider community she was symbolic of. Salome’s mother Herodias and Ari’s mom Mariamne could both see the advantages of their children uniting, fully believing the entire nation would benefit from such a pairing. Though Salome was still married to Philip Jahn the Baptist, their wishes would require mere months to reach fulfillment.

 

Princess Salome remained in her marriage to the wild yet holy man Jahn Philip, but corresponded with Jesh while he was in Egypt. Her letters were by far his favorites, for she wrote deeply layered missives, and positioned herself firmly as his eternal, equal partner. It was like Ethiopian qene poetry, just peel through some layers of wax and there shone gold and pearls of wisdom. At first it seemed like they would never be together, whereas now it appeared that it may be only three or five or seven years at the most, maybe sooner by her calculations, yet nobody could really be sure. She had contemplated divorce, but it could only work if it didn’t result in embarrassment for herself and Jeshua, yet finally patience would work in her favour. At a point of desperation in his own quest for kingship, hubby Jahn Philip reached for power that he thought was there but it disappeared before his eyes and he was called off to Rome and dethroned. The unexpected early death of Herod Jahn Philip meant that in less time than expected, Ari and Sal would indeed be united.

 

When first told of Herod Philip’s request to marry Salome, Herodias was said to have commented that she would “rather have his head on a platter than let him marry her” daughter. Whether or not she actually said the words, the supposed remark would live on to haunt her in life and in memory.

 

As per prophecy, Aristobulus was the new Joshua, with a minor of Elisha, and his life was to be patterned primarily after the main two previous Holy Joshua’s, or Saviours The trail was blazed as early as the twelfth and eighteenth dynasties, and the legend of the mesach had a new urgency and an incredibly worldly resonance. In time He would grow comfortably into the role, and became the Crown Prince of Israel, then the King of the Jews, even taking on the role of Joseph as dad to Jeshua Justus Aristobulus and the other youth, and finally leaving His mark as the Messiah of the new Way, a true prophet of peace and equality.

 

Our royal daughter, Princess Salome, herself of the highest Maccabeean and Herodian strains, was two years older than Ari, and was raised primarily in Jerusalem. Her regal heritage was unassailable, with her father being Herod Philip the Tetrarch, and her mother the internationally known Herodias, daughter of Aristobulus IV and matriarch Berenice. She was destined to be married two times; first to Prince Jahn Herod, Philip II, whom history and scripture remember as the Baptist, an arranged marriage designed as fulfillment of prophecy, then later unifying all of Israel by marrying Jesus Aristobulus and bringing forth sons to carry on the Covenant.

 

Salome was nobody’s fool and she knew the significance of the eternal marriage better than anyone save Aristobulus. Her dreams of being the special princess to the most-loved man were about to be realized, and her heart pounded with the excitement of it all. She had always loved him, but had held back her heart, and now she felt what it was like to be in love in the most powerful way possible, on every level: physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual.

 

As a child, Ari had grown strong under the tutelage of his stepfather, Herod Joseph of Chalcis, who was also Salome’s uncle, her mother Herodias’ own brother. When his father remarried, to Berenice daughter of Agrippa, Ari stayed in the palace after his mother moved away. Mariamne took Jesh’s younger sister Polla and baby James with her to Italy, but it was clear to all that Aristobulus Jeshua would remain in Chalcis and continue his education with the spiritual leaders of Galilee and Judea. Nobody suggested otherwise, as there were many roads ahead for young Jeshua to travel. The path from Bethlehem went through Alexandria and Rome and Athens and Antioch, but always came home to Jerusalem.

 

There were those that resented his friendships with Roman tax collectors and Greek scholars, but over the years Aristobulus had built a reputation as an honourable man, something royal, unwed men were not always able to do, the Roman influence being what it was. The prospect of a life with Salome Mariamne was enough to keep Ari on the straight and narrow path, and his years of abstinence and discretion were paying off with happiness and joy as the moment of union drew closer.

 

The much-anticipated wedding of Prince Jeshua Aristobulus to Princess Salome Mariamne was the focus of Judaic Brethren and the royal families throughout the Middle Earth Sea region. Even though many believed that their marriage was pre-destined, everyone who knew Ari and Salome could feel the magnetic energy flowing between them. In any case, they had felt a deep bond since they were teenagers. Ari had been none-too-happy about Salome’s first marriage, to Herod Philip Jahn. He knew the future exactly, yet that does not mean that he did not ask God, why?

 

Salome tried hard in her marriage to Philip II, she was devoted in practice and in principle, but in her mind there was turmoil, for she found him to be too old, and considered him unimaginative and dull, especially relative to Ari. Even though she respected what he did for the purification of the nation, at the river and in the Temple, her thoughts were often elsewhere. Peace was all she truly wanted, but she fell into crying and a remote desperation, detaching herself from day-to-day routines to study and write and otherwise escape the drudgery that was life without Aristobulus. About the only thing that kept her spirits up and hope alive were the gatherings of the Way that she attended, and she was always thrilled when new teachings of Jeshua Aristobulus were presented and discussed.

 

She believed it was to be her duty and her reward to marry the Saviour and Defender of the Faith, the man she had loved since he was a boy. Finding herself widowed while barely in her twenties, her heart, mind and soul turned again to Ari, the man of her blissful visions from her days as a youth, and again during her late teen years as an unhappy spouse. With her second wedding feeling to her like a first true lifetime commitment, she had never felt so alive, as a woman and as a human being.

 

During a conversation near the beginning of their engagement, Salome had to let him know of her one reservation. “You know about my family, and I know about yours, but what about Aristobulus the person? Who are you, that you will now sit on my couch and eat from my table?”

 

Ari responded. “I am he who is from the One, and the things that belong to the Father have been given to me.”

 

Salome knew that she was every bit as royal as Jesh, more so in the eyes of the orthodox; still, she was temporarily insecure, as she had been following his teachings for the past four years, and was devoted to his ideas of peace and equality. “But I am your disciple,” she pleaded.

 

Ari Jesh was deeply comforting with his words. “When the disciple is divided there is darkness, yet when Unity happens, everywhere is Light.” Salome hugged him and looked forward to a future with the only man that she would ever truly love in all her days on this earth.

 

Salome opened her big brown eyes and looked up to Jesh, saying softly, “May you kiss me with the kisses of your mouth, for your love is better than wine. Your Messianic oils are fragrant, and your name is sweet smelling oil. The maidens truly love you.”

 

Ari Jesh knew Shlomo’s verses by heart, but as with everything in life, always added his own twists, reciting “You are beautiful, my lover. You are beautiful; your eyes are doves. You are beautiful, my love, really beautiful. Our couch is rich, the beams of our house are of cedar, the rafters, cypress.”

 

Sal had her arms around her man and was feeling more loved and appreciated than she could ever remember. “You have stirred up and roused my love. I am ready; I have crossed to your side of the river. I shall unlock my fragrant garden, bring your strong love my way.”

 

As he rubbed Salome Maryam’s shoulders and back and embraced her in happiness, the flow carried on. “No wealth or might could bring this desire. The taste of honey and fine spices is what I long to share. I and I unite in love, true and tender love.”

 

Salome fretted during the days before the ceremony, as family had traveled from Jerusalem, Alexandria, Rome and Athens to be with her on the biggest day of her life; her mother’s brother Aristobulus came all the way from Britain to be there for his niece. Her first wedding had been rushed and ill planned, a truly sorry affair, and there was no way she would endure that type of humiliation ever again. She had been told time after time that her first nuptials were divinely ordained, even written in scripture, and she had now come to peace with that stage of her life, appreciating the wisdom gained but believing in so much more. In this moment both will and destiny were colliding to make for the most exciting days Salome Mariamne Herodias could imagine; the anticipation was unlike anything she had ever felt in her entire life. She rarely cried during these weeks, and when it happened, they were usually tears of joy, shared with family and close friends. A few times it was about fear, of failure, of power, of uncertainty … she overcame all that and was gloriously happy in the week leading up to the event.

 

The boys and young gents had been arriving and introducing themselves, speaking in Greek, in Aramaic and in Hebrew. They were eager to impress each other, and draw the eyes of the girls, many of whom had grown into womanhood since they were last all together, helping make this both a noble and passionate affair. It was said that couplings that would affect the next three generations were decided at this gathering, and for the older ladies, matchmaking gossip was more than idle chatter. The family and the faith had to stay strong, and each outpost and village had a pretty clear idea of whether they needed more young men or more young women. More than a few introductions were made that may have had wider, though never ulterior, motives.

 

Mother Mariamne had procured special pastries made by a baker from Gaul, who was living in and operating his business out of Beirut. Eight varieties had been chosen, with three to six dozen ordered of each. One day before the event the bakery delivered four to eight dozen of every baked goodie requested, saying it would all be at the original price. They were the best creations the world had ever seen, and Ari Jesh told his clerk to pay them double on the order. The Lebanese pastry chef who accompanied the delivery was invited to stay on as a guest or a worker, and having four children of his own to feed, he decided to help out in the kitchen.

 

Herodias had special meats prepared by Judaic, Greek and Syrian chefs, all supervised by the local chief rabbi. Beef, goat, lamb and chicken were all being smoked, pickled, seasoned, sautéed, braised and charred to perfection. Everything was coming together perfectly for this to be the most delectable of feasts, and as both the bride and groom were known to love culture and travel, the assortment of national dishes was apropos.

 

Salome was provided with three different choices for her dress, one style each from Mauretania, Egypt and Persia. She chose the Mauretanian gown but let her bridesmaids wear the other dresses for the occasion, and they were thrilled at her elegance and taste.

 

Ari and Salome took great care to assure that longtime friends and poorer relatives were also included in the celebration. These two were both divinely glorious but also fully possessive of the most genuine humility. Judaic insiders claimed that the marriage was pre-ordained and written in the stars and in Scripture, with many commenting on how peaceful Jews and Gentiles alike were to be attending the festivities together. Whether prophecy or love had drawn them into this unity was rarely on either of their minds, for it had been years since they first began thinking of themselves as half of a complete soul, a philosophy that solidified in their hearts and minds during their covert meeting in Egypt. Maybe it was only thirty or so hours together, but it healed two humans completely, sparked a promise of hope, and set the foundation for a world of peace and love only fully emerging two thousand years later.

 

On the day of the actual wedding, it was a beautiful, sunny June afternoon, but as part of the preparation a chapel had been set up inside a tent beside the Capernaum house. Guests were streaming in, from Jerusalem and Jericho, Rafah and Alexandria, Beirut, Tyre, Damascus and Antioch, even Armenia and Macedonia. These had traveled for a day or two or much more, while people were also arriving from closer locales such as Dora, Nysa, Caesarea Philippi and Panias, Tiberias, Bethsaida and Ptolemais.

 

As the tent was filling up, noted spiritual leader and senior Temple Rabbi Gamaliel the Elder began a sermon about unity in trying times, and harkened back to Babylon and Egypt as eras of exile to draw strength from. It was clear that he believed there was no imminent, near-term answer to the Judaic search for respect and full nationhood. Everyone listened attentively, as Gamaliel was considered the foremost speaker from the Jerusalem Temple.

 

He spoke about the history of the nation, about Jesh’s family who had rebuilt the Temple, and Salome’s people who had earlier purified the Holy City and built Jerusalem’s royal palace, preparing for all the great councils for centuries to come. The esteemed Rabbi and philanthropist finished his eloquent plea for understanding and unity, let the silence absorb the lesson, then spoke again. “May the bride and groom join us here.”

 

Ari Jesh and Salome had been waiting at the back of the room and each now walked forward with their companions, four men and four women in total walking up the aisle, first the ladies and then the men. The choirmaster started into an ancient Hebrew hymn of love, adapted into Aramaic, and the choir and everyone attending was either singing or humming along. There were smiles everywhere, a few tears, and Salome stole a glance at Jesh, mostly to see if he was singing along. It was true that he did love to sing, but only with and for family and friends, and he was respecting of the solemn-ness of this occasion. Salome felt a surge of elation as the sparks of love briefly traveled back and forth between their eyes and into each of their delighted souls, for all time.

 

Gamaliel the Elder performed the ceremony, and James Herod and Mattathias and Simon all stood by Aristobulus, the Lamb of Judah. Mary Ruth and Tamar and Taraha were the bridesmaids of Salome. Their mothers beamed with pride from the front rows, and everyone was feeling safer and stronger in their presence; the love in the air was palpable. The bride looked resplendent in her gown, her long regal neck accented by finely beaded lady locks.

 

Ari vowed that he would forever be appreciative of having his lifelong friend as loving wife, and provided spiritual and life advice to those attending. “Understand the Law and obey the Law. All the truest representatives of God know the will of God. Love starts in the home, with family and friends. So keep a loving home, and peace will be within reach.”

 

Salome recalled her foreparents such as John Hyrcanus, and Shlomtzion, the revered Salome Alexandra, and spoke of her mother Herodias in glowing terms, and also thanked Jesh’s parents. She vowed that together she and Ari would lead a love-filled, fruitful life, and she promised to stand by his side through this world and into eternity. Ari Jesh spoke about his mother Mariamne IV and the father who had raised him, Herod Joseph of Chalcis, in reverential tones. Though they were not seated together and each had their own entourage, they were both proud of Jeshua and stole more than a glance in the other’s direction, for they had raised him knowing of His destiny. He spoke of the gloriousness of Salome’s heritage, of Her importance to the Judaic People and faith. He estimated that the union would bring about fifteen or more clans closer together, and asked everyone present to all consider each other family from this day forward.

 

They each thanked the ancestors and the LORD and Jesh added that however gracious God is to them, he and Sal know and feel that they are meant to represent unity for millennia; Our love is just that strong. There were many fewer dry eyes by this time, and all at that holy union were giving thanks for each of their own breaths, as God was in the very room with them.

 

Gamaliel blessed the bride and the groom and they kissed and embraced before the crowd, and everyone sat down for an amazing feast, and the wine and the tales of travel and life began to flow. People remarked on their own good fortune of being friends with Ari and Sal, and relatives swelled up with the family’s rising social status. There were many toasts, and “Praise Arisa for eternity” was a favorite that made the rounds.

 

Ari and Salome each made up four platters of food, and they balanced them delicately as they walked across the front yard to the gates of the palace compound. Outside there were about twenty-seven or twenty-eight people, of various ages, mostly in rags and appearing undernourished.

 

Salome motioned to a mother with three children, beckoning her to approach the gate. “Mother Mari I am not worthy,” she spoke softly, with her head bowed down as she stood in front of Salome.

 

“Then give most of this to your children, which I already knew you would do. So see, you are worthy. Go now, you are a good mother.” With that she handed the women the plate and heard the woman telling her children, “Thank Jeshua and Mariamne, thank them now” and the two little girls and one boy were each heard saying “thank you Jesh, thank you Salome” as their mother led them off to the side to eat their meal.

 

Jeshua handed two plates to a family of seven, and asked the remaining people to stand closest to whom they were traveling with, and groups quickly formed. Three of the remaining five plates were given to those with a child or children. With two plates left, there were seven adults standing. Jesh asked, “Who is hungry?”

 

The men laughed, and one of them took the bait. “We all are my Prince; but I have three fruits in my satchel, and if one or two of these men would like to share a plate with me, I shall be grateful.”

 

Another spoke, saying “I have some bread” and a third man also offered up his meager foodstuffs, saying, “I have a few small fish, and some really good olives.”

 

Salome handed the final two plates to the men, and gave them her scarf to use as a tablecloth on the ground, and wished them well on their journeys. Jesh gave the tallest among them a special knife from Persia that he had received as a gift from a business traveler, and they sat in an oval with the two platters and all the additional food they had brought out now placed in front of them, and proceeded to enjoy the most delicious communal meal. “You have shown faith and honour by attending our wedding, and Aristobulus and myself bless you, your families and your children. When you are traveling or even at home, if someone asks you for sustenance and you are of means, remember this day, and stay always on the path of the Chosen, the Way.”

 

At that Salome took hold of Ari’s hand and they walked back to the house, motioning for their guards to go in the front doors while they themselves would be entering through a side door that led to a small room just off the main hallway. Once inside the door, Jeshua pulled Salome close to him and shared with her what felt like the deepest, longest kiss she had ever received in her life, though it may only have been thirty or forty seconds.

 

Halfway through the moment, he held her cheeks between his hands and drew a breath, penetrating deep into her eyes and telling her, “We are One.”

 

He continued kissing her lovingly, then drew her into a tight hug and rubbed his hands up and down her back, and lifted her gently into the air, setting her down a few seconds later. She felt as if she was in a dream, and straightened her hair and her gown before the two of them emerged back into the main party.

 

Aristobulus smiled widely for Salome, and looked at her face as he appreciated their togetherness. Salome leaned in to Jesh’s ear, and their slow walk came to a standstill. “You know I will love you every day of my life. I have always loved you Ari honey, and I never have to hide it again.” She kissed him on the lips and then walked off laughing joyously, joining her sisters and cousins at the sweets and fruits table.

 

During this era Aristobulus preached in the temples and in the countryside, and over the years had gathered a large number of converts to the evolving, peace-loving Way. Though authorities such as Pontius Pilate had once arrested him when he was a teenager, the later procurators thought him to be more respectful, and generally left him and his followers to their own quiet, communal selves. Roman Procurator Antoninus Felix would even marry his cousin, Princess Drusilla, sister of Agrippa II and Berenice.

 

As a young man, particularly in his mid to late teens in Galilee and Chalcis, Ari had been feeling a lot of anger, at being away from his mom, at the way his people were treated, sometimes he was even displeased with his father’s unresponsiveness, a perceived reluctance to intervene in situations where the younger, bolder Ari Jesh thought his dad could make a difference. The years in Alexandria had mellowed and matured him, though his healing powers remained at a high level even when his passion cooled. It was during these years that he had his last major problems with authority, yet most of these accusers, if they lived, would later bow down before him.

 

Only five months after Timothy was born, it happened that the Roman Governor of Syria, Publius Petronius, was camped at Ptolemais with his men, carrying a statue of Caesar Caligula that was to be placed in the Jerusalem Temple, at the Emperor’s own request. As word of this leaked out to the Jews in Galilee, Jesh and Sal and young brother James were able to organize over fifteen thousand men, women and children to protest this outrageous sacrilege. Salome even carried the newborn Timothy Herod Aristobulus with her. This group walked together with not a weapon among them, and when they reached the Roman army, they asked to speak with Petronius. The Jews felt that it would be incredibly blasphemous to have this statue placed in the Temple, and said that they truly believed it would be better for both parties if the statue did not reach Jerusalem, where tens of thousands more were willing to lay down in the road to block the passage of the idol.

 

Petronius knew he was facing an insurmountable obstacle, and felt that no stone-cold statue could be worth a war and the loss of real lives. He withdrew his men to Antioch, and at the same time King Agrippa sent a letter to Rome indicating that he felt the statue would likely cause much trouble. He advised the Emperor that it would be best if the project were abandoned. Gaius Caesar Germanicus Caligula received the letter and news of the retreat of Petronius on the same day, and he was enraged at the cowardice of his general. In a matter of months Caligula was to be assassinated by some of his own men, so Publius Petronius never did have to face the wrath of this particular Roman madman.

 

Children became a bigger factor in the lives of Ari and Salome, as Herod Timothy, Agrippa “Yuya” Barnabbas Josephus and Aristobulus “Jeshua” Justus were all born during the years in Capernaum. The family home would come alive with the sounds of tears and laughter, and though it was true that in the north a palace was being expanded for them, it could also be written that in the south, knives were being sharpened.

 

Aristobulus himself had been adopted at a relatively young age, as he was still a toddler when his mother married Prince Joseph Polli (later King Herod of Chalcis), so he knew how important family would be to Timothy’s life. After his son Tim Herod had been appointed Crown Prince at nine years old by being officially adopted by Prince Agrippa II (for soon-to-be King Agrippa II to have a living male heir nearby), he was always included in Ari and Salome’s family gatherings and lived with them most of the time. The fact that Agrippa II would outlive many of his doubters, and rule for four decades, was a major reason why Timothy became a leader of those following his father’s teachings, the devotees that came to be known as the Nazarenes, the Followers of the Way, the Perfection of the Way, and eventually the Christians.

 

Second son Yuya Josephus Agrippa slipped into the earth like a nighttime dancer, and even unto this day his life remains one of the more mysterious ever known. Remembered most fondly as Barnabbas, Son of the Father, traveling companion to Paul, Luke and his brothers Timothy Herod and Jeshua Justus, he was also a formative force in the early years of the church. He did settle down in the end, accepting his golden mission to help bring God to the Britons, carrying on the works of his granduncle Aristobulus the Elder. He found time to write two major books of history, under his pen name Flavius Josephus, and even returned to Rome to finish his life as Emperor Nerva, building granaries and waterworks in fine Yuya tradition, and was the last man buried in the holy tomb of Augustus.

 

Though there were legendary disputes between Barnabbas and Paul, as there were between James and Paul, in the end Barnabbas went along with the wishes of the family and the community, and was really one of the staunchest supporters of any faith in any time. In his writings he seems to be the impartial observer, but in daily life, blood runs thicker than water.

 

Then there was Ari Jr, the Third Son, the Jeshua Justus, Son of David, Aristobulus Judah, conceived within a truly divine, fully royal princess. For many a new Saviour was born, and considering that he was the Third Son of the Royal and Holy King of Kings and Queen of Queens, it was a mystical conception and an occasion that reverberated through the hills and valleys for many miles around, as news traveled as fast as men and horses could take it. Within days the birth was known in Jerusalem and Dora, Bethlehem and Jericho, and within weeks it was talked widely of in Athens, Rome and Alexandria. Aristobulus had now almost fully shifted from the Jeshua role to the Yoseph position and he had the wisdom and clarity and overpowering Love to pull it off. Sharing the Messianic glory and burden with his son allowed him to focus even more on his teachings, permanently embedding his philosophy into what would become Judeo-Christian-Islamic society and culture.

 

Salome and Jeshua had lengthy conversations about their family and its role in the redemption and elevation of mankind. During one particularly thought-provoking, deep dialogue, Ari and his wife were discussing the strong roots, and the tree that was still to come. Ari calculated that “it has been about four thousand years since Our LORD first spoke, be it in Ityopia or Egypt or Mesopotamia or even India, and that is about four days of creation right there. So we still have two more days of development before God can find some rest. If one thousand years is about fifty generations, then it could be another one hundred generations before my message is truly heard, and in those times my teachings will have great resonance. Yes, two more days of strife before we reach the Days of the Lion in Zion; We will awake from sleep, and only then will Our Father get some well-deserved rest.”

                       

After marrying and raising children and being appointed King, Jeshua had made the successful transition from young revolutionary to benign administrator, and was respected far and wide. The early legends of his healing prowess did not fade, and became stronger with time. He had always been known as a spiritual saviour, and now he had triumphed even on this earthly plain. Doctors and nurses were always on hand at his home compound, even when Jesh was away, for the sick and wounded would come from far and wide, and everyone knew about the mercy of Salome and Jesh. Even their personal veterinarian was known to help with wounded and ill animals of travelers and the poor.

 

Jeshua Aristobulus became an exemplary King, and there was never known to have been a negative report written about him. We know that he was well loved by the Jews, the Greeks, the Egyptians and the Syrians, and the news of his good governance spread far and wide, even unto Ethiopia and India. Queen Salome followed in Ari’s mom Mariamne IV’s footsteps and Herself became a Mother Maryam of the ages; through her divine leadership was the power and knowledge of Egypt and Israel carried forth. Yohann the Beloved spread forth her wings, a divine angel carrying on a profound tradition. Nefertiti, Thuya, Tye, Sarah, Shlemtzion, Mariamne, Salome; the Virgin Lady arises again and heals the people.

 

 

 

The Second Part

 

He was dressed in priestly rather than kingly garb, and as he led the way into the courtyard, anger welled up inside him. Ari first knocked one table back toward the trader standing behind it, then crossed the aisle and lifted up another table and flipped it, then crossed back one more time and kicked a third table, scattering its piles of coins. He stopped and looked to the dazzled moneychangers, then raised his hands up in the air, slightly above his shoulders. Amid cries of “Who is this man?” and “Stop this crazy person,” Jeshua raised his hands higher and spoke loudly.

 

“IS THIS HOW MY FATHER TAUGHT YOU TO CARE FOR OUR TEMPLE???”

 

The gathering hushed at the sight and sound of Aristobulus, and he lowered his voice correspondingly.

 

“This is a home of worship; if you need a place to carry on your business, then build it! The Sabbath is not to be blasphemed in this manner. Pack your things and go.”

 

When Ari returned to Capernaum, his mood was sullen. He was both tense and uneasy, and distressed by what he had witnessed. Salome sat down beside her Jeshu, held him and stayed quiet, for she knew that if he wanted to discuss what had happened in Jeru, he would have. In any case, they were leaving the next morning to journey home to Chalcis, and they could speak then. She moved to a small stool in front of him and lifted his feet up onto her lap, gently rubbing them as he closed his eyes and the pain slipped away from his face.

 

Early the following day, Jeshua wondered aloud whether it might be time for greater changes in Jerusalem. Salome listened attentively and then appeared to be deep in thought for some time. She broke into a smile and leaned into Jesh and said softly, “I think seeing all this Roman and Greek and Egyptian coinage and even Judaic money being thrown around the Temple has depressed you, for you have witnessed that crassness is not just a foreign influence, as even the Chosen may succumb to it.”

 

Salome looked deep into Jeshua’s eyes, and continued speaking softly, smoothing out his emotions with the steady soothing tone of her voice. “I believe that you must teach them again and again, for they are easily led astray. This world truly does need something to remember You by. It is time for you to have your own coin, and a magnificent medallion it shall be!!!”

 

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” replied Ari Jesh. “Would that not be emulating the kings of this world, when I have long taught that Our Kingdom is not of this realm?”

 

“No, not at all,” protested Salome. “It doesn’t have to represent the land that Caesar has given you, nor even the Holy Land that the LORD has given Our People of the Book. It can represent Love, Equality, and Unity; are those principles not the core of your teachings?”

 

Ari Jesh smiled, and Salome continued. “I know that what is truly important are the words and deeds of a man, and the memories and teachings of the great live on. It may only seem a small offering, yet still, I believe that a coin from you will be well-received throughout all the lands surrounding the Middle Earth Sea, even as far as Arabia and India. It can be a symbol of your life and mission.”

 

The next morning Salome brought some sliced fruit and goat cheese to Ari working at his desk, and he asked her to sit for a moment. “I’ve been thinking, a lot, about what you said about minting a coin. About why we would do it and what it would be. In my mind, we should do it, and this coin should feature the both of us,” spoke Aristobulus.

 

“Well, that wasn’t what I had in mind. I was thinking of a way for you to be teaching even when you are not present, a reminder of you and the Perfection of the Way, and also for you to provide the believers a way to pay their Temple tax without having to utilize heathen currency. Still, I am appreciative of your suggestion, but I am also not so sure that it is the best way to do this,” replied Salome. “Our people are only now getting used to the idea of their male leaders appearing on coinage, so to include me …”

 

Ari Jesh had an intense yet loving look in his eyes. “You are a daughter of David as much as I am a son of Solomon. Our children would not be considered the Saviours of the Nation if you were not as pre-destined as myself to play this role. When we were youth, I knew that someday you would be mine. When you married the horse-lover, I must tell you I was crushed for days, weeks. Only my faith kept me alive, and even then Jah told me that all things must pass, and that our destinies would still be fulfilled together. I admit I was concerned that I had lost you forever, but the LORD was adamant in holding me upright, teaching me patience. So now We have each other and these beautiful shining youth that we have brought forth, all conceived in unity and raised lovingly, as I and I were, give thanks and praises. Israel looks to both of Us for answers, and this coin will be a testament to Our Love and Our strength, together. Like Ptolemy and his Empress in the day, We shall show them the Way.”

 

Salome brightened, and gestured to a side room that she began walking toward while speaking. “Cousin Frugi left a sack of strange and beautiful coins last year as a gift for the children, and we can look through those for some ideas. He said they represent every nation from Egypt to India, and even outposts from Gaul to Germany, Carthage to Armenia.”

 

Jesh was intrigued. “Aaaahhhhh, Armenia. My stepfather Joseph sent me to the far edges of the land as a youth, across all of Lesser and Greater Armenia, and told me that someday I would rule over that entire nation. I laughed heartily because I didn’t know what to make of his prophecy, as much of the country is mountainous and far to the north and east of Judea and Palestine, and to a young lad it seemed a long way from Galilee and southern Chalcis. Love, Salome honey, it is among the most peaceful and beautiful lands I have ever seen, and if We are Blessed to retire there and live out our years among those people, I will surely be content with this life Our Father has given Us, and if not We, then let it be for the offspring. My mother has received many blessings from that nation.”

 

Ari finished his thought and reached for Salome’s hand, just as she had lifted hers to touch him. Salome spoke softly, replying “You do, darling, you do. Jeshu, You will make the nations and peoples forget about these weak-minded men of today, for yours is the realm of David and Solomon, Buddha and Ashoka. Your teachings are about the conquest of injustice and inhumanity, about the elevation of the human spirit. What war cry could ever compete with your teachings of Universal Love, and total, absolute equality?” Salome finished her thought, and then a new idea flashed across her mind.

 

She was thinking about the design of the coin, and Salome asked, “Jeshu luv, do you feel we should be on one side, with pomegranates of plenty upon the other?”

 

Ari had a sly look on his face, and answered her with a thought that almost made her fall over in astonishment, saying, “I was thinking that I would be on one side of the coin, and you would be on the other side. That would be the ultimate tribute to your royalty and your divinity, and also to Our equality.

 

Salome, laughing nervously, unsure if this was really a comedic matter, pushed Jesh away playfully and commented, “Hey, has that ever even been done before? Oh no, they will say that you have gone truly crazy, and that wicked woman must be controlling your mind!”

 

With this said, they both laughed loud and long.

 

 

The Next Day

 

Ari sat with Salome eating dinner at their main table, and spoke first, getting some thoughts off his mind. “Even as I live, there are those claiming the teachings of Aristobulus of Egypt as my own. His technique and legacy truly belong to all the people, though I concede it is a fact that I have helped keep the parable alive, and prospering, in these times of crisis. We must strategize in the name of the LORD, yet also laugh and appreciate life.”

 

“How do you think they’ll react dear?”

 

Salome was quick with her reply, having family in many regions around the Sea, knowing full well how certain Herodians were perceived; even her own Hashmonean credentials, though widely respected, carried little weight with skeptics. “In Egypt they’ll be proud of you as always. Jeru will remain divided. Rome will be confused, and suspicious. Syria will respect you, and me, and appreciate the initiative. Greece loves you, and they seem a wise and thoughtful people, though I’m not sure how they’ll respond to my image being on there. Are you sure you want to do it this way?”

 

Ari looked into her eyes and drew her closer to him with his right hand, saying, “Mariamne my soul, Our words and Our teachings will survive through the apostles and the followers of the Way. The teachings are eternal and will be carried forward by the brethren in some form, yet I and I witness that even the most devout can be swayed by the events encircling them, daring to distrust even the unvarnished Word of Jah above. Praise Elijah, honour Musa, listen to Sol-Amen and give thanks for David Our forefather, for his strength and his courage.”

 

He took her by the hand and led her out onto the starlit terrace, continuing to speak.

 

“When Antiochus VII honoured Our People by encouraging Simon Maccabee to produce coinage, that solidified the achievements of the Chosen up to that time. It began a tradition, and Our offering will survive millennia, even unto the day of the seven thunders. This coin is a blessing for us and for all, and it cannot be altered; our great-grandchildren may now carry us with them!”

 

Salome listened attentively, then she added, “Jesh, I know that we are pre-destined, and our fates are tied to the fortunes of the Chosen. That’s beyond our control, but the manner in which we go about our tasks is where the will of humanity arises.”

 

She leaned in and put her arms gently around her husband, pulling him closer as she spoke lovingly into his ear. “Darling, I want to thank God for finding a way to put us on earth at the same time, in the same nation. I would love you if you were a poor carpenter’s son, and I feel that you also love me unconditionally. Ari, honey, we are truly blessed; I am humbled to be your partner, and grateful to be God’s servant.”

 

Salome looked down, and Ari reached over and lifted her chin up, speaking softly to his ladylove. “Peaceful Mary, you are the Virgin of the ages, mother of Herod Timothy, of Yuya Agrippa Barnabbas, and of Jeshua Justus Aristobulus. You are the Queen of a nation and my dear beloved princess. More than that, you are my Salome, my rest, and my treasure. You are the beating heart of my kingdom, my companion in life and in history. You could be a harlot among Egyptians, held captive and dishonoured; I would rescue you from any fortress or tower and nurture you to wholeness, heal your bruised body and soul. I would cross the Sea or the Sinai or the Arabian Desert for you my dear angel; be good my love, this world needs you far more than you imagine.”

 

Ari kissed Salome on the forehead, and she then rested her head on his shoulder as they shared a long embrace. She pressed her ear against his chest, listening to the steady beating of his heart, and they looked out together into the dark, quiet night.

 

 

The Next Morning

 

Salome wondered aloud. “What will the actual message be? Have you considered the wording?”

 

It was something that Aristobulus had ruminated long and hard about, for he had been awake almost half the night, and he was certain of his reply. “No message; the coin itself is the message. The inscription will be simple and unassailable. On one side there will be me, and the words “Of King Aristobulus,” and on your side will be your portrait and the title, “Queen Salome.”

 

“The Wise Counselor and Our Lady of Peace together in your satchel.”

 

With that Ari Jesh broke into his hearty laugh.

 

Salome slipped her arm around his waist as they turned back toward the palace, leaning into each other and the Light. The sun was shining brightly on the grounds as they walked together up the steps and onto the terrace.

 

That evening, Ari and Salome sat together on their couch, and Salome had a worried look on her face, asking her husband “How long shall men die?”

 

Ari replied, “As long as ye women give birth.”

 

Salome asked a second question. “How long shall children suffer?”

 

Ari replied. “As long as ye women give birth. The poor shall always be with ye.”

 

Salome continued her probing line of questioning, saying “And how long shall injustice rule this sacred land?”

 

Ari spoke firmly. “Until the Day.”

 

Salome enquired further. “And when shall this Day come? When shall what We speak of be known?”

 

Again Jeshua Aristobulus answered his beloved soulmate, only this time he expanded his thoughts. “Injustice shall be a burden until the Day when the two become One, neither man nor woman, neither male nor female. When the garment of shame is first trampled upon and then cast into the fire, and all are equal, all become One. Until that Day, wickedness and war shall prevail.”

 

Aristobulus sat for three different artists and Salome for two; she could have had a third but was really pleased with the first artist’s work, which she felt was understated and fittingly humble. There was something about the beauty of her neck and her locks that struck her heart, and she knew this was the image. Of Ari’s portraits, in one way she preferred a different look, a more virile pose, but the noble presentation that Jesh wanted to go with was both agreeable and regal, and more importantly, ideally suited for currency. It was a striking profile of a powerful yet widely respected man, with his humble dignified lady right there with him. Salome smiled inside at the thought of those who had considered both herself and Jeshua as rebels in the early days, and here they were now, posing for posterity. She never had any ill-will toward the nay-sayers, but she and Jesh alike did enjoy the irony when these types needed some healing or even some wisdom, and came calling God’s name in front of Ari and the other healers. Some even came seeking help under cover of darkness, and their secrets were safe with the divine couple.

 

Final artwork was eventually decided upon and the artisans left the palace to head back and create proofs at the mint in Caesarea. Two weeks later, silver and bronze specimens of the coin were presented to Ari and he immediately brought these to share with Salome. They looked into each other’s eyes and then back to the coins in hand. They agreed that the result was magnificent, and together they knelt down to pray, giving thanks to Our Lord Above.

 

Although Salome sometimes became flustered when preparations seemed behind schedule, Ari was unfazed by all the commotion and was inwardly very confident, quite sure the event would go well. He was really happy that he and Salome had decided to go forward with the coin, and his serene contentment was even more evident than usual. When skeptical people mentioned to him that they had never heard of someone creating a sort of festival around the release of a coin, he never took the bait, always replying to the effect that nobody had ever put out a coin like this either. Let’s have a party!

 

People were saying that this was one of the greatest gatherings of minds the world had ever seen, and perhaps it was to be true. For the learned and the Blessed came from Egypt, from Spain, from Gaul and from Briton, while Arabia, Idumaea, Persia and Greece sent their finest royal princes and princesses. Jews, Buddhists and Hindus alike brought tribute from India, Antioch offered a present from the entire town, Emesa sent their finest musicians, and Armenia provided a royal contingent and an armed horse guard as extra security for the palace and premises. Jesh’s mom Mariamne IV would always be considered a Queen of Adiabene (meaning New Goodness, a contemporary name for the region), and the officers accompanying the equine contingent were most pleased to see her and speak with her again.

 

Fish were procured from several nearby cities and towns, and these were from the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, and even treasures from the Middle Earth Sea. Lambs were being fattened; goats were getting nervous about all the commotion. The finest birds were purchased, even from Arabia and Persia, as no expense was spared in ensuring that the guests would be filled with meal upon meal of delicious foods. Bushels of lemons and onions, barrels of olives, cartloads of pomegranates and dates and the fruit of every tree, plus great mounds of grain were purchased ahead of the feast. Goat cheese and spinach were baked together with butter and spices and the finest flour in the royal ovens, and a roomful of pastries with fruit jelly, cheese and other sumptuous fillings was prepared on the day before the feast. Deliveries of sumptuous food and drink arrived almost continuously on the day of the event, including many foodstuffs that had been ordered, plus a few incredibly well thought-out, endearing surprise gifts, including some incredible smoked fish, an array of eighteen different sized species!

 

About 24 royals and nobles plus an additional 36 close friends and relatives were designated as the core of the Invited Guests, and given the status of Honoured Family at the gathering. A silver cup with one gold coin and ten regular coins was set aside as a parting gift for each of these, with an additional 12 cups prepared and available for gifting at the discretion of Ari and Salome.

 

As the guests walked through the front gates and up the center court to enter the palace through the main doors, soldiers and horses, and music and children, greeted each of them. Some felt as if they were entering Heaven itself, so honoured were they to be sharing a celebration with the royal holy couple. The horses from the Armenian / Roman palace guard were working shifts, half frolicking in the paddock while the other half stood at attention out front. They were to alternate through the night, with the most trustworthy of these horses getting longer shifts out front if they wanted them, and some did, even if it was just for the treats.

 

Jeshua had arranged for a special section of the gardens to be set aside for the youth to see his mammals and birds, a fenced-off area that had been set to grass and grazed to a perfect level. Animals were brought from the house and the barn and from nearby farms for the kids to play with and pet, and even a few donkeys were made available for rides. There were various types of sheep and goats, plus some milking cows. Local pheasants and doves and exotic birds from Africa, Asia and Europe were lined up in cages against the outside wall for everyone to enjoy. He and Salome and their son Agrippa all took great pleasure in leading the kids to the area and seeing the joy on their faces as they joined the other children in the frolicking. Musicians and dancers were performing in the tent and in the house, and though it was only dusk, the party was already starting to swing.

 

Some of the women were envious of Salome, but as soon as they saw the coin and felt it in their hands, most thought it quite charming to see her portrayed in such a regal, international manner, and very few remained jealous after witnessing the elegance of the offering. Greek was the language of commerce and culture, and the other ladies were admiring of the piece’s beauty, enamored of the artistic detail in the portraits. A few had already been asking their husbands what they had in mind for honouring their own wives. This set Ari into waters he didn’t enjoy, though most of the Brethren kept their concerns to a minimum, allowing the topic to seep into the conversation only through humour, which Jesh was known to be particularly fond of.

 

Ari and Salome together with their two eldest sons, Timothy Herod and Agrippa Josephus, each carried trays loaded with bowls of food to those waiting outside the gates. Two trips were made by each of them, and the bowls were divided between vegetarian and meat included. The families with children were fed on the first run, while the adults were told to wait for the second offering, and they were patient and understanding.

 

The return trip was met with much appreciation and the food was accepted warmly, and Tim and Agrippa headed back into the party. Standing out in the crowd by the front gates were two tallish boys that seemed to be almost identical, except one looked to be about sixteen years of age, and the other fourteen or so, and they requested a vegetarian meal. “Why?” asked Salome.  “Is it because of your family’s faith?”

 

“No, not entirely my Queen, though my family is faithful and teaches souls to not be gluttonous. In this case we are uninvited attendees; we are not guests. The meat should be reserved for your guests, and perhaps for some of our fellow-travelers here who are in need of deeper nourishment than we.”

 

Salome was impressed with his answer, and Ari, overhearing this last bit, now also walked over to the two. As the last bowls had already been handed out, the four of them stood talking while the young men ate their food, taking turns at the portion given for them to share.

 

“That seems rather noble of you both. Where does your mother live?” asked Jeshua.

 

“She doesn’t, not anymore,” answered the elder youth.  “We were raised in Shiloh, and our father died when he was forced into a battle while in a caravan traveling back from Arabia. Our mother had a deep slide after that, and the LORD took her home over three years ago. We stayed with an aunt for a couple of years, but then we heard that there were many new buildings under construction in Tiberias and Caesarea Philippi, and so we decided to come and see for ourselves. We are both apprentice carpenters”

 

Salome looked up to Jesh, held his gaze, and shot a mildly inquisitive look his way, narrowing her eyes in an almost imperceptible way, then staring up at the clouds for a brief second. As her attention returned, He nodded slightly.

 

“Come inside and enjoy the rest of the party,” said Salome as she extended her hand to the younger lad. “You guys will have to sleep on the couches, or maybe even in the tent, but we can sure feed you tonight.”

 

The elder lad gave the food remaining in his bowl to a mother with two kids nearby, and the two fortunate young men walked between Ari and Sal as they sauntered onto the palace grounds. The people outside the gates saw what was happening and none seemed at all jealous, most looked happy and a few were joyous, shouting “Praise Arisa! Praise Arisa! The Lord is a shepherd for His People. Praise Arisa! Praise Arisa!”

 

Re-entering the palace, Salome first sent a servant to distribute money and desserts to those outside the gate, three coins for each adult and four for each child, and then brought the two new guests to the dining room, where she saw her own son Timothy Herod speaking with his cousins, Ghadara’s sons. She told Timothy and the lads to make sure these two newcomers were given some food and drink and shown around the grounds.

 

In the midst of all the commotion of people entering the celebration and greeting relatives they hadn’t seen in years, Ari and Salome found a moment to themselves in the hallway.

 

“I’m having fun but I’m not sure if this is really what I had envisioned. How do you imagine we’ll be remembered?” Ari asked Salome.

 

“I doubt it’ll be for this party,” replied Salome, laughing playfully. “Honey, with the stories people are already writing about you, I believe that your teachings will help ensure all of Us will be remembered quite fondly.”

 

At that Ari smiled and clasped Salome’s hand, and just then a few more long-lost faces entered the hall with outstretched arms and shouts of “Ari! Salome! So Good to see you!”

 

The party was climaxing in festivity just after the midnight hour, but the dancing and eating and drinking and conversations continued into the wee hours, finishing with each of the core invited guests, plus a few attending dignitaries and accomplished elders, receiving shiny new coins in their new silver cups, with the words “King Aristobulus and Queen Salome” engraved on the side.

 

A few days later

 

After returning home from a daytime trip into Caesarea Philippi, the family had a meal together, a feast of roasted birds and vegetables and fruits of many colours, which had been prepared while they were away, and was waiting for them upon their arrival. They washed up and sat down to eat and converse.

 

Ari had a concerned look on his face. “Young Herod Timothy is set to ship off to college in Rome, yet I am wondering if the reaction to Our coin will affect his reception and schooling. What do you think, Sal?”

 

Salome looked away from the window and back toward Ari, and began speaking in a contemplative manner. “Nero has bigger problems right now than to worry about Tim …”

 

“Cousin Eliza has offered to put him up at their family home on the edge of Rome, and he will be able to walk to university from there. Most of the other students have never even heard of Us, and as for the teachers, well, Rome may not have the standards of Egypt and Greece in the day, but she nowadays has the best combination of the curriculum, and it is his birthright to be a leader among his people in the future. He can still do his initiation levels in Alexandria, but for now he should learn the ways of the world in Rome. Vespasian’s sisters can watch over him; Titus also has a year left there. I say there is no need to worry about what people believe about Us, for didn’t they all think almost this very same way, one year and even three years ago?”

 

This last comment, though perceptive and true, did nothing to quell Jeshua’s inner anguish, for he had other matters on his mind. “I have already received messages from Rome, and have responded in the affirmative, as this was confirmation of an arrangement with Felix Antony. Some senior people were not impressed with the choice of Greek as the language on Our coin, and I have been requested to issue at least two Roman coins, with my name included in the inscription. They will allow Judaic symbols, but the name of the Emperor has to be on both and Nero’s portrait on at least one.

 

“We have already achieved what we wanted with Our own coin. This next one, and there will be more to follow, are really part of the duty of my position. I don’t know why I hadn’t done this already … what I am saying is it may have been more tactful for Our coin to have been released second, but from here on I am to be included in Roman coinage, and more issues are requested and expected.”

 

“I am not unhappy about it, and believe that there are worse aspects of ruling. Who knows, maybe we can even get creative with the designs. It can never be like what We have shared, but it is something all kings in this Roman realm are doing. As for Timothy, it will be well and good for him to be schooled in Rome. He can reach a higher level of education, and at the same time he can meet more believers, people who can keep him close to the Way. You, Tim and I all believe that it’s the right thing to do, so let’s get him registered. Let the relatives know first, then ten days later, inform the dean that Herod Timothy Aristobulus will be attending.”

 

 

The Third Part

 

A passionate and sensual yet wise and learned lady, Salome Mariamne Herodias was the perfect partner for Aristobulus’ worldly vision. Only a very few commanded the respect of the Roman and the Judaic hierarchy, and they were those who had both Herodian and Hashmonein bloodlines. During the time when the social lines had caused separation of Aristobulus and Psaulus, Salome had worked behind the scenes with Psaulus’ wife Ghadara to help bring the reconciliation between him and Jesh forward. That one act alone possibly saved the Church from disintegration, for God knows that both the Gentiles and their money were needed during these scariest of years. There were also hundreds of other occasions where her insight, wisdom and bravery pushed mankind forward and opened up our consciousness.

 

Ari and Salome were now living fulltime at Capernaum, having been advised that the wars raging in Armenia and northern and eastern Syria between the Romans and the Parthians could spill into nearby nations, and so they left the mansion north of Caesarea Philippi in Chalcis to servants and government officials, and decamped southward. They moved all of their family and about half of the staff to Capernaum, their summer house, and began to reside there year-round, as they had in the early days when the kids were very young.

 

Ari confided in Sal about his deep concern for the people, once proclaiming “I would rather Our Father take I home than witness in this life our Roman cousins owning our Judean and Galilean cousins as slaves, yet that is surely the end of this developing madness. We will do what we can, but the clouds of darkness are building on the horizon.”

 

Even at Capernaum, the house often felt empty and isolated to Jeshua, and when he was off in Nazareth and Jerusalem, and after he had passed on, Salome herself felt even more alone. One day in early June Ari Jesh had surprised her with the biggest bouquets of flowers she had seen in her life, seven of them in total, filling up over half a room. It was their eighteenth wedding anniversary, and that evening, everything in the world felt in place.

 

While Ari was still alive, she prayed for the safety of her husband and sons daily, and also helped out her family and neighbors with their children whenever she could. It was in the early and middle years of the sixties when she began to write down her thoughts.

 

After dealing with the troubles in Caesarea Maritima, Ari Jeshua returned to Capernaum. He was able to find rest for only two days, and then Jesh received a message that he was wanted and needed in Jeru, and that he should come very quickly, if at all possible, saying to his wife, ” When I return, we will go together and spend a few days at Bethany across the Jordan.”

 

Salome felt a deep sense of dread, an overpowering foreboding enveloped her consciousness, and she pleaded that he should stay in Capernaum, at least until the nature of the crisis could be determined. It didn’t matter, for there really wasn’t anything that could have kept him away from the Holy City at this momentous time. Aristobulus shared his wife’s fears, but his were more related to the health and future of Jerusalem, the Holy City Herself.

 

Before he left on this fateful journey, Salome Mariamne offered up her own version of some ancient words of wisdom. “You embark upon a mission to Our Holy City, as did Jonathan and his brothers in the day. All the congregations of Israel love and respect you, but it may take the four winds of heaven to bring peace in this hour. I am all for peace, and all for your visions of Jah Kingdom. Go forth in peace my Brother and my Husband, your name shall forever be blessed.”

 

It was Passover, so Jesh made arrangements through family to have a well-mannered donkey awaiting him, for an expression of humility was thought to be something that would both inspire and embolden the Chosen. He had arrived in Athens this way one time a decade earlier, and people mentioned it to him for years afterward, and he thought this would be another occasion where it would be appreciated if his fellow Jerusalemites could see that he still believed himself to be one with the people, and not some ruler from afar who wished to superimpose his reign. It worked marvelously, for everyone was astonished to see him arrive at close to eye level, and though some thought it to be a joke, the main folk along the route were reverential and understanding in a deeply touching, God of History kind of way.

 

Old friends showed up to pay tribute, and even enemies of previous decades looked to Jeshua as the last true King of the Jews, the only hope for a battered nation, for Agrippa was feeble and Berenice often distracted; the palace was left wanting. The High Priests were also unable to bring unity, and the Roman Procurators were more concerned about their own careers than the welfare of those under their rule. People literally cried and pleaded as Ari Jeshu and his close followers entered the gates of the Holy City. Three and four generations came to welcome Him, and along the route into town He heard people saying they knew his father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, shouting out good wishes for Salome and the youth, with a few even thanking Jeshua personally for saving their own lives, crediting Him for giving themselves something to believe in amidst the madness and the frenzy of Jerusalem’s decline.

 

For a furious furnace it was, with the inner turmoil among the People of the Book heating up and readying to destroy nearly everything in its path. Ari Jesh and his wife Salome stood for all that was good in this life, yet still had to struggle for recognition as equals in certain Judaic and Roman circles. The Herodian family was deeply intermarried with the Piso, Frugi, Alexander and Flavian clans, and war against Rome, though totally foolhardy, could clearly be looming, mere months away. Someone had to talk some sense into John and Eleazer and the Zealots, and Ari was considered the best human for the job. Everyone respected his impartiality, even that of his father and brothers, and he was considered the best of a good generation. Many wise men were overcoming negativity around them and coming to believe that Jesh could do it again, and all of Israel and Judah would soon be united. It was not to be, for right after the peace talks began, when word of the goodness of his powers was filling the city, the tables turned again, and the dread inside the walls that night was palpable. The Idumaeans were said to be heading with an army toward Jerusalem.

 

“I will speak with the people. They know and love my grandfather like their son, and many of them know of the Way and my peaceful teachings, “ offered Aristobulus. “Besides, I am the calmest one here. An angry person should not teach.”

 

Ari Jesh climbed the tower directly opposite where the leadership and the greatest numbers of the Idumaeans were standing, and several of his brothers and closest followers went up with him to offer support. He began to speak in Aramaic, gently, yet clearly and forcefully in his own inimitable Way. “I come to you as a Brother and as a Son, and am speaking with you as much as to you, for my very heart and soul empathize with your journey and your concern for the righteousness of this Sacred Ground. Many troubles have befallen this City, over decades and centuries, yet never have I wondered about her ultimate fortune as much as now, speaking with my own brethren.”

 

“Jah favoured my family and my mother is known and respected by all of you. Our Father strengthened I with the Holy Spirit. All of my life I have taught you the Book and the wisdom. Many of these men you have sided with are known to plunder nearby villages and towns, by their very rascality, laying scourge to wide swaths of the countryside. They are robbers, aligned in their manners, drinking themselves drunk in the sanctuary, vomiting slander against a people of kin to you.”

 

“Now they have run together into this Holy City, pretending that we are going to betray this prime metropolis to the Romans, stirring up trouble, purposely irritating the very souls who provide them liberty. Who would have foretold that my brethren before me would align with those of the Sicarii? I ask you to gather the truth of things, not by fictitious speech, but out of the actions of both parties. These men are led by fools and liars; have they suddenly discovered truth and righteousness?”

 

The evening had been quiet, and relatively clear. But just at the moment Jesh stopped to draw a breath, a blinding flash of lightning was followed almost immediately by a loud boom of thunder and the noise echoed through the sky and rattled the walls and nearby trees. Darker clouds were starting to roll in, but Ari Jesh continued with his plea for understanding, compromise and ultimately, sanity.

 

“This pretense of which we are falsely accused, this lie of betrayal, goes beyond the fates and the prophecies of this Holy City falling into enemy hands. You are our cousins from Idumaea, and my family wears our roots proudly, we went to school with yourselves and your fathers in Alexandria. You come here bearing arms, appearing to wish us ill will. If there were a simple yet humane method of cutting off all the tyrants who have trampled upon Our People and Our Laws, I would surely be among the first to endorse it. Yet we live in a real world; it forces us to separate what is temporal, much of which is Caesar’s, from what is eternal, which is the LORD’s domain. For We are truly in this world, but not fully of this world …

 

“I have come to you with honesty and with wisdom, with truth and with Light. Let me make this clear for all to hear; be conscious of your duty to Our Creator and obey me, for I am a servant of Jah alongside each and every one of you. I call on El, Elohim, Adonai, Yahweh, Jahseph, Shaddai and Tzevaot; apparitions of One, Emissaries and Blessings of the Supreme.”

 

“The LORD set his bow in the clouds as a sign for those who could see, a vivid memorial of His covenant that He made with the Chosen of humanity, for the benefit of all that live … my friends, seek Jah to shine in, not on, your countenance. Choose the path of peace, rather than the road to war. Be what you believe, preserve Life, Love and Truth.”

 

“Now what do you suppose these men have to gain by calling you here to defend them? Amnesty for their crimes? So be it. Let them gain an advantage by your coming. I have this to propose. Stay away from the fray, and let us both alone. Neither insult our already injurious condition, nor team up with these plotters against this very Sacred metropolis.”

 

“If your leadership wishes to enter the City to discuss a peaceful resolution of this matter at hand, we welcome your presence and your ideas. Think about why these gates are shut to you, and watch over the entrances to this precious home. We are indeed your brothers under Abraham and Moses, and We ask only that you consider either laying down your arms before entering unto the Holy City, or choose an honorable, unhindered return to your own homes, for Jerusalem is being loved and cared for. You are welcome to camp by the gates as long as it takes for you to come to either decision, and your enemy cannot escape you when you can see all of the comings and goings. We wish you no harm whatsoever, and if anything seems remiss, you will know. I bid you all peace and reconciliation and togetherness and Light.”

 

Simon Alexander ben Cathlas, father of Rufus and Alexander, was chosen by his community and partners as the best candidate to respond to Aristobulus’ oration. He was a man of means in both Egypt and Idumaea, and his strong leadership was unquestioned among his people.

 

He was lifted onto the platform of a wagon that had been cleared of the supplies it was carrying, and he looked directly up to Jeshua as he spoke to the large group, probably one-fifth of which, perhaps three or more thousand, were within range to hear everything firsthand. James, Mattathias, Paul, Pater Simon and John all stood near to Ari Jesh, and Salome would have also been there but Rajeshu insisted she stay with Justus.

 

Simon was calm but assertive, and held his hands in the air as he began to speak.  “The patrons of liberty are held captive in the Temple, under custody, and you have shut the gates to our common city. Never have we heard of such a thing. It is closed to us yet you are pleased to welcome the Romans into it, with open arms, crowning the gates with garlands at their coming. You speak to us from your towers and ask us to throw down our arms and give up our liberty. Why should we submit to Roman rule?”

 

“We know that even our own men have been accused without trial, and that some in your offices are guilty of the same and more as those whom they imprison. Yes we have come here in a rush, and yes we are angry. We have come to defend the very freedoms that you in your sadness have been so very anxious to betray.”

 

“You have shut the gates of the city to a nation that is near to you, even running in your veins, Jeshua. Why can we not see for ourselves the conditions of the Temple and the city?”

 

“You complain that your folk have also been tyrannized by the Romans, yet you clearly collaborate with them. Those who were opposed to the tyrants, who condemned whom you call eminent men, you have besieged in the Temple. We will stay here until either the Romans grow weary of waiting for you to move on us, or you repent of your ways and let your Idumaean brethren in to preserve this house of God.”

 

There was a temporary peace, an artificial calm, yet a storm was clearly blowing in and the city remained besieged on both sides. Ari Jesh went away deeply distraught, for he felt that some of the most terrifying prophecies could shortly be realized. He summoned a friend and noted scribe, and asked for some words to be written down for his family, for he feared that the end could be near. It was a simple note, asking that Salome and the youth all carry on his legacy, as teachers, healers and writers; they were to receive this note in mysterious circumstances seventeen months after he died.

 

At this point many people within and outside the wall were of a similar opinion; that a peace had somehow been won without the firing of an arrow or the raising of a sword. The rich and poor alike were toasting to Jesh, yet the triumph was to be short-lived. Inside the walls there was an eerie quiet interrupted by increasing flashes of lightning, and thunder that was rumbling closer and closer. Outside the perimeter, the more reverential Idumaeans feared that God was angry with them, for even having considered taking up arms against the Holy City. 

 

Annanaias and Artanus believed that they had conquered without fighting, but Aristobulus was not so sure. Very near to the wall, loud arguments and fights ensued among the Idumaeans camped outside, over strategy decisions and over food. Ari asked for sustenance and water to be sent regularly to the those outside Jerusalem, and also asked himself continuously, How is this fragile stalemate going to play out for the benefit of all, with the least violence possible?  Lightning flashed brighter in the sky, and the thunder roared again, and then an ominous silence returned; it was the sound of conspirators in the darkness. The people inside the wall were mostly oblivious to the treacherous intrigues developing, and felt that fate had spared them, and that God would help find a way to peace. More than a few took a full night’s sleep, unaware it would be their last.

 

By now the Zealots had abandoned all hope of getting to the likes of heavily guarded Annanaias and Artanus, and they feared the reaction of the public if they moved against Jeshua or James, and so they made plans to exploit further their alliance with the Idumaeans. The plotters made use of the tools of the construction trade, and took metal saws with them to the edge of the secondary gate and sawed through the night during the wind and the rain, with the storm building in intensity by the hour, and covering up their evil ways.

 

The rain was pounding on the rooftops while the wind was howling through the trees and shaking the homes of the poor. People huddled together inside their abodes, and everyone who could stay within their home did. Lightning occasionally lit up a few ghosts sawing away at the city’s skin, but almost all were sound asleep before the dirty work reached its zenith.

 

By cover of darkness and obscured by the fearful weather threatening anything that moved, the conspiring Zealots were able to saw clear through the wall in a way that startled the Idumaeans, who at first thought the Romans could be coming to take them in chains. When they heard that it was their allies who had opened the hole, many were still frightened of the consequences of entering the Holy City with less than devout intentions. In the rush of exhilaration at the changing fortunes, even these initially doubting types began getting caught up in the animal intensity of the moment. Then the herd mentality fully kicked in and swept them speedily through the wall, bashing the opening wider as they forced their way into the City of David, the metropolis of peace. It was still more than two hours before dawn, and many innocents were about to be slaughtered

 

The quickness and ease of the attack had been unexpected due to the unreal calm engendered by the weather and blind faith. The fiercest of the Idumaeans were able to approach the Temple grounds with almost no resistance. The raging storm provided stealth cover, and the palpable sense of darkness and foreboding, of unavoidable death and tragedy, made for a sickening, macabre intrigue. 

 

The fact that the screams and the cries of the slaughtered Judeans at the Temple that first night were heard above a howling mad storm made the events all the more terrible. Even High Priest Annanaias and Jeshua Aristobulus were slain as common men, their bodies thrown into the streets for wild dogs to tear at. The two of them had been awakened at the first sign of trouble and joined with several other priests and stood inside and outside the doors of the sacred library, where ravaging, bloodthirsty Idumaean soldiers soon attacked them. They had tried to form a human wall to protect the building from the sacrilegious ignorance of torches, but they were badly outnumbered. Ari Jesh pleaded for his life and took deep slashes across his hands as he tried to deflect the attacking swords of up to three men at a time. The beaten, middle-aged Idumaean whose sword pierced the ribs of Jeshua had no idea that the man he was killing was the great-grandson of his own grandfather’s twin. He also didn’t even know that he had mortally wounded Aristobulus, the Herodian Messiah, for Ari Jesh was dressed as usual in the white clothes of the devout commoners and lay priests.

 

Annanaias was old and passed to heaven quickly, while Jeshua’s last hours were full of searing pain and blurred vision, an incomprehensible melancholy overtaking his normally positive psyche. After being attacked, he tried to save some others but was brutally knocked to the ground. He staggered to his feet and then attempted to find a doctor or a nurse or anybody who could stop the bleeding or the pain, but anyone who could help had either fled or been injured or killed, and the Lord bled away as he struggled and stumbled up the street. He began to lose consciousness, crying out to nobody in particular, more to the sky and the Creator, “Why has thou forsaken me?’” He then rested his weary head one last time, only a few feet from where a dying mother held her dead child in her arms. Two deceased street criminals were leaned against a pile of garbage, steps from where he lay down between them and breathed his last breaths.

 

It was only due to the kindness of a stranger that Jeshua’s body was recognized, though Annanaias’ was never found, and was probably so disfigured that it was one of those whose torsos and parts were piled onto wagons and thrown into the mass graves. Word quickly spread that Jeshua was being prepared for burial, but in fact those that had found the body had no money and little access to the services now required, and did their best to keep his corpse cool and shaded. When neighbors and nearby believers heard who was in the basement, everyone contributed as best they could, and within eighteen hours veteran help would arrive.

 

When word got to the nobles that the body of Jeshua had indeed been located and was being held with reverence though little means by devotees of the Way, and that this had been verified, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea together provided for royal embalming and a proper burial tomb. Nicodemus came straight away, even though it was night, and he met with James and the core members of the Way, and all the arrangements were made for the handover of the body to the family and the Galileean Church. Joseph agreed to pick up most of the expenses, whatever they were to be.

 

A messenger was sent to Nicodemus from one of the more malicious Zealot groups, with a cryptic note that read simply, querying, “Are you from Galilee also?” Nicodemus, though he had previously moved through the night partially to not be seen by men, was now unafraid. He ordered the messenger to wait, and brought out a clean piece of parchment, and kept his argument simple and focused.

 

He wrote: Does Our Law judge a man without first giving him a hearing, and learning about how he lives his life, and what he has done?

 

Nicodemus paid the lad and sent the messenger off, continuing with plans for the burial. Salome and Timothy and Ari Justus came down immediately from Capernaum for the funeral, but with Yuya Agrippa Barnabbas being in Rome pursuing his research and helping with the fire recovery efforts, he was unable to attend. A letter from Salome was sent to Rome via Antoninus Felix’s men, to let Barnabbas Josephus know of his father’s untimely demise, and only the constant cooking and caring by his Roman aunts and cousins, who grieved along with young Josephus, helped him survive and recover from the tragedy. In Judea and Galilee it was said that young Justus cried for days and had been in a terrible state for weeks, being consoled only by his mother’s and older brother Timothy’s constant presence.

 

Agrippa and Berenice and even Titus, who had just arrived from Rome, all came to the funeral, and Salome presided over the affair, together with James Herod and brother Paul and some surviving Elders and Priests.

 

Everyone who could be there was, including Nathaniel, Mattathias, and Lucius, plus Martha and other sisters and cousins, though it was clear that there remained evil and danger lurking nearby. At the end of the solemn ceremony people gathered back at Agrippa’s palace to remember one loved dearly and deeply by many. The food was plentiful but though people commented that Jesh had lived an amazingly productive, rewarding life, nobody could say that it was his time to go. The sadness was mixed with fear, and more than a few sauntered to the windows to look outside, half-expecting the palace to be surrounded by troublemakers seeking more bloodshed. Bodies that had been recovered were being buried in and around Jerusalem, and fill was organized for the two mass graves. The town had been rocked by the slaughter and the murders of Annanaias and Jeshua, and there were many funerals to attend, so those not close to the family stayed far from the royal house that day.

 

The body of Ari Jeshu was to be placed in the tomb after the service, and then two days later was to be transferred to Galilee for final burial, or at least that was the official story that was presented quietly at the ceremony. The reality was that less than one day later the tomb would be empty, as Jeshua was being carried off to Egypt to be buried in the Valley of the Kings. Levantine priests carried him as far as Hermopolis, where Hashmunein relatives took Him the rest of the way. The remains of James would join him there within a year.

 

 

 

The Fourth Part

 

You can see how troublesome the idea of war was to the family of Aristobulus and Salome, for they had brothers, sisters, nephews and cousins on both sides of the conflict. Jeshua tried for years to be a mediator, and for almost a decade succeeded at the highest level, but the pressures of the zealots, combined with the fact that Vespasian and Titus had been chosen specifically to show their loyalty to Rome, meant that a battle was unfortunately looming. Ari Jeshu was now more than three years gone, and people were only beginning to realize how much they truly missed Him. His sons and spouse each carried some of the torch forward, and Josephus rallied many to Jah. The remaining inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea repelled the first battalion that the Romans had sent, and even though the Holy City was in a treacherous situation and many disparate groups rallied once again to try and save Her, greed and violence overruled notions of fairness and compromise, and the short-term gains were wildly misinterpreted.

 

Salome, like her husband, was both cautious and generous with her counsel; above all, she wanted people to find reconciliation and understanding. Even though thousands were killed and tens of thousands wounded or enslaved during the war, many more were spared by the negotiations initiated by Salome and son Josephus, and later also taken up by Simon and Jahn. She and her devotion to her family and to the Way created conditions of compassion and a momentum for peace and justice that each continue to reverberate unto this very day.

 

It was said that Salome Mariamne brought the sangraal, and this has often been interpreted as san graal, or Holy Grail. More likely the commentator was referring to sang raal, blood royal, for the Lady brought the finest of Maccabean and Herodian faith and culture, and her offspring were exemplary in nature. Dozens of families that had been on pilgrimages from Briton to Rome or on excursions from Rome to Briton ended up staying permanently in Gaul, and unto Her final days Queen Salome was honoured as a truly great woman and teacher. Salome passed on at the age of sixty-one, in the year seventy-five, on July 22nd, and was entombed at the Abbey of St. Maximus, about a day’s journey from Marseilles.

 

When the two shall be one, the outside the same as the inside, the male unified with the female, neither male nor female, pure power of soul will arise.

 

Let Us always and forever remember the Sacred Union and the Beloved of Jah, the Blessed Lady Salome Maryam, who anointed Our Lord with the oil of gladness and was a core of the Chosen, and a truly worthy Carrier of the Covenant.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Comments (1) »