Gamaliel looked down on the excitement, the fevered celebration, and his heart was heavy. He and Benjamin were about to start the homeward leg of their daily pilgrimage just after their noon prayers.
“They expect the Maschiach to save them,” Gamaliel muttered softly as he turned to go.
Benjamin had heard him.
“Yes,” he said, but made no further comment.
There is a mystery here. Whenever mention of Maschiach, the Messiah, was made, Benjamin was more guarded, less enthusiastic.
Still, what better time than this for the Maschiach to come? What better time than this for the prophecies of a true warrior-king to be fulfilled? But the prophecies had their own way of choosing the time of their fulfilling, he knew and his heart was filled with dread for the coming years.
Was he the only one who remembered that Vespasian, one of Rome’s greatest generals, was in Egypt with his legions? The Second Legion was stationed at Luxor and could be mobilized quickly. According to Gamaliel’s sources, General Vespasian was a hard and ruthless man and no lover of the Jewish people.
“And what about Vespasian?” Gamaliel said, not for the first time.
“Do you really think he’s a threat?” Benjamin said.
“What makes you think he’s not?”
“He wants to be the next emperor, they say. He will be too busy consolidating his power, gathering his strength, building his alliances to bother with us. That is our opportunity.” Benjamin spoke with the words of others, without conviction.
“Or he may want to make an example of us to prove his worth to the Roman Senate.” Gamaliel said.
Where was the God of Avraham, Yitz´chak and Ya´acov? Where was the God of Elijah? of Simon bar Maccabaeus? Where was the Maschiach that was promised? They had gone too far. Only the Maschiach could save them now but that promise seemed a hollow and misdirected hope.
He stumbled with weariness and Benjamin grabbed his arm and looked at him sharply to see that he was all right.
It was for the young that Gamaliel feared, in truth, it was for Benjamin. But Benjamin seemed to have found his own source of courage in these troubling times. Benjamin literally glowed as if he had a wonderful secret that he wasn’t telling. But Gamaliel was determined that he would.
They rounded the last corner before arriving home and Gamaliel was ready for a rest. But his heart began to beat harder when he saw the donkey tethered before his door, the pack still on its back, its nose deep into a hastily thrown pile of straw.
Onkelos was back.
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The Temptations of the Cross by Bert A. Amsing
Copyright © 2012 by vanKregten Publishers. All rights reserved.
Footnotes and references included in original manuscript.