5. Passover in the Holy City

“Gamaliel knows. I swear it.”

“Yes, but can you prove it. We can’t move against him without more evidence.”

“Is my testimony not enough?”

“No, in truth, it is not.” Ya´acov, the High Priest, was firm. He could use this young fool but he had to handle him carefully. Before Akbar could react, Ya´acov touched the sleeve of his robe, tugging gently, persuasively.

“My son, forget about Gamaliel. He is old and will soon be no threat to us.” His voice was smooth, soothing.

He could not afford to let this young firebrand get out of hand. A direct attack on Gamaliel would be disastrous. The people would never believe he was a heretic and the backlash could seriously affect Ya´acov’s own carefully laid plans.
Akbar frowned as he thought.

“What do you want me to do, then?”

“There is still Benjamin.”

“They deserted me, all of them. They should be whipped within an inch of their lives.” Akbar clenched his fists.

“And they will be, without a doubt,” Ya´acov said, his eyes darting away and then back again. “You picked young Jubal bar Joachim yourself.”

“Yes, I did,” Akbar said, his forehead wrinkling like a dried parchment. “I needed a witness who was also a friend of the family so that there would be no question of his testimony.”

“Very astute, but can he still be trusted?”

“He only cares about one thing.” Akbar said. “I have shown him that this heresy is an abomination to Almighty God and must be stamped out ruthlessly if we expect his help in throwing the Romans out.”

“Very good,” Ya´acov said. “Very good, indeed.” His thick gray eyebrows gathered together and then he made his decision. “I will give you more reliable men and you will take care of Benjamin tonight, after midnight. Bring him here to me.”
Akbar nodded his agreement.

*****

Akbar’s bitterness toward Benjamin slithered and grew within him as he thought about their encounter the day before.

Tonight would be different, he swore to himself. I will arrest him in front of his whole family. I will tie him and drag him from that house like the heretic he is.
Already his mind was racing with the things he needed to do before nightfall. He would celebrate the Passover with his uncle and his cousins and then gather his troops and deal with Benjamin once and for all.

*****

The Passover celebration began at sundown on the tenth day of the first month of the Jewish year. To start the new year with a celebration of liberty was either the height of stupidity in this Roman world or the depth of unshakable faith.

Or perhaps it was simply a celebration of hope, hope that one day true freedom would come and that no one would be able to take it away.

Gamaliel rubbed his tired eyes. The old think too much. We have nothing better to do.

For the past week the city had been filling up with the faithful. Every Jewish male was expected to make the trip to Yerushalayim three times a year for the religious festivals, and the Passover was one that no one wanted to miss.

Jews from all over the empire would make the pilgrimage, though it wasn’t like previous years. It was almost as if something great and mysterious had happened and then moved on and left Yerushalayim behind. The excitement and pageantry were still there but without substance, without expectation.

When the Isra´elites had been liberated from the Egyptian bondage, it had been a family affair. But over the years, part of the ritual had become public and was celebrated in the Temple and part of it was celebrated in small groups throughout the city.

It was considered worthy of those who permanently lived in the city to offer hospitality to the many visitors, and Gamaliel was no exception. The one blight on an otherwise perfect holiday was the Temple money-changers. They would charge incredible prices to change all the foreign currency into the legal tender of the Temple.

The hypocrisy of the people, even some of the priests, had come to sicken him more and more these past few years. He preferred to ignore them and look to the common people for his inspiration. Many were rough and obstinate but, on the whole, they were honest.

Yeshua preferred these people as well. He remembered that. The things he would say to his fellow Pharisees had been wonderfully apt. He smiled to himself. He had been battling the excesses and legal technicalities of his fellow Pharisees his whole life, as his father had done, and his father’s father. It was in the blood.

Still, Yeshua had been too harsh. He claimed too much for himself and had touched a raw nerve and had paid the price.

Truth be told, he thought much more about this Rabbi Yeshua then he let on to Benjamin. He had seen him once, teaching in the Temple when he was only twelve and he had been amazed. But good teaching and truth are worlds apart and Gamaliel could not abandon his beliefs for the whimsical teachings of a country Rabbi, well spoken though he may have been.

Certainly they should not have killed him and he had counseled against it. But he had been conveniently excluded from the late night proceedings that Passover weekend some thirty five years ago and, by the time he had heard what was going on, it was already in Pilate’s hands.

What they had done still sickened him and it was clearly a mistake. The man had died a martyr and now his followers claimed that he had risen from the dead and was the Maschiach. It was unnecessary. These things had a way of taking care of themselves.
In a way they were harmless. They fed the poor and gave hope to the people. Gamaliel could not fault them for that. But the more he spoke with Benjamin, the more he wondered if he had underestimated them.

*****

“They will attack just after midnight.”

“How many will there be, do you think?” Gabriel said.

“It’s hard to tell. It will depend on how important they consider this operation to be.” Shalamar began to pace through the room.

“We should assume that it will be a major operation and heavily supported,” Melanchor said. “This is the family of Rabbi Gamaliel after all. It won’t be taken lightly.”

“What are we going to do?” Shalamar was thinking about Benjamin.

“One thing is for sure. We need to keep them out of this house for as long as possible. That is essential.” Gabriel stood up and went to the window to check the perimeter.

“But what will we do in the morning? Sooner or later they will break through and then what?” Shalamar said.

“I don’t know,” Gabriel said, “but I suspect that the Holy Presence will tell us before morning.”  Gabriel paused, hesitating.

“Perhaps.” He looked straight at Shalamar, catching his eye. “Perhaps, we need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that Benjamin will be taken, maybe even beaten and killed.”

Shalamar grasped the hilt of his sword tightly, a fierce look on his face.
“I will not think of that possibility until the Holy Presence, himself, bids me to.” He turned away stiffly to make the final preparations for the battle they would fight that night against Akbar and the demonic Special Forces.

*****

How his mind could wander like a lost child in the great bazaar. Gamaliel was aware of Benjamin’s strong hand on his arm as he stumbled over the uneven paving stones. Without his grandson he would never be able to make his way back home.

Especially now.

The streets were full of the cries of the merchants and the bewildered bleats of the lambs and the hurrying colors of many robes and turbans. Benjamin protected him from most of the jostling and movement of the crowd but it was slow going.

Gamaliel needed to rest and picked an empty spot on a nearby wooden bench against a wall smoothed by the constant, ancient touch of this mass of people.

“The temple priests will be busy today,” Benjamin said, trying to make conversation.

Gamaliel acknowledged the truth of it with a nod of his head, trying to catch his breath. Families would be gathering in the outer courts of the Temple with their lambs purchased for the occasion. Priests would pass through the crowds inspecting the sacrificial victims and passing judgment on their worthiness to die for the people. The priest would then tie a small cord of purple velvet around the right foreleg of the lamb to indicate that it could be killed. The lamb would then be brought to the ritual place of killing and presented with the throat bare to the sky for the killing stroke. The process had to be done quickly for the priests to service all the demand.

From the killing area to the altar there were two lines of priests, each holding either a bowl of silver or a bowl of gold. One priest was ready with the bowl of gold to catch the blood from the throat of the lamb and pass it down the line until it was thrown ceremoniously upon the altar. Another priest would take the best cut of meat and let it fall into the bowl of silver and pass that along the line of priests to the altar where certain portions were burned as a continual sacrifice to the Lord and the rest kept for the needs of the priests.

All during this process, the priests would sing the psalms of the Hallel. The sound of their voices mixed eerily and reverently with the frightened bleats of the goats and lambs and the general tumult of the great mass of people.

It was not something that Gamaliel had to see to remember. It had been a part of his heritage for years. He no longer attended to that task himself for he was too old to hold the struggling lamb and too weak to carry the carcass home. Benjamin had that honor now but Gamaliel still had the privilege of leading the family in worship in his own home. If he ever got there.

“Shall we continue, my son,” Gamaliel said.

He enjoyed calling Benjamin his son. It lessened the pain of his own loss. Michael, his firstborn son, had been a fine orator and a well-liked Rabbi but he had been caught up in the senseless violence that the Romans casually inflicted on his people in retaliation for every imagined slight.

Michael had a terribly practical streak in his character and so, when he saw the young zealot bleeding in the street, he had tried to drag him to safety. The Roman soldier had turned and casually gutted him with his sword and left him bleeding on the cold paving stones of the holy city.

Gamaliel could still feel the blade running through his own heart as he had that first day when he watched his son die a painful and totally unnecessary death.

Benjamin had taken Michael’s place in his affections but not in his memory. Gamaliel hoped that Michael would be richly rewarded when the time came. After all, he had shed his own blood for a fellow Jew. What could be more holy than that? It was a tenuous, if not heartfelt, attempt to bring meaning to an otherwise senseless event.

Well, perhaps not senseless. In the depths of his heart he believed that it had been the judgment of God on his own guilty soul. But he could not bear such thoughts and so he locked them securely behind a door in his mind that he would not open except on rare occasion. Only the demons had the key and they opened the door at will and tormented him with his guilt and pain. With an effort he thought of something else, anything else, unable to bear the burden of his innermost thoughts.
Were these memories a sign of his extreme old age or just his way of dealing with the tedious, wandering slowness of this daily pilgrimage?

*****

“Does it always take him this long?” Gabriel shook his head although he had a smile on his face. He wasn’t sure if he was more impressed with Gamaliel’s dedication or Benjamin’s patience.

“Sometimes longer,” Shalamar said, “it depends on whether a storm is gathering.”

“He goes during a thundershower?” Melanchor said.

“Rain or shine, he goes to the Temple. He says that he feels closer to the Almighty during a thunderstorm.”

Gabriel changed the subject.

“Is everything ready for the Passover?”

“Yes, we will have the protection and support we need outside the house. We will not be disturbed,” Shalamar said. “But what will we be doing inside the house?”
“In truth, I have not been told. We are to wait and watch and, when the moment arrives, I will know my task.” Gabriel smiled and then slapped both of them on the back, looking first at one and then the other. “You will be there with me, Shalamar, my young friend, and Melanchor as well. And the Spirit within tells me that marvelous things are in store for this God-fearing family tonight.”

*****

Sundown always came suddenly in this part of the world and the preparations had to be completed on time. Benjamin removed his sandals and a servant knelt down and dipped each foot in a bowl and dried them with a towel. His grandmother, Martha, had died many years ago so now his sister, Ruth, would perform the ceremony of cleaning the entire house and ridding it of every crumb of leavened bread.

In the gathering darkness, Ruth lighted the candles and then covered them again in imitation of that first Passover night when all was done in secret and in haste. Carefully, showing as little light as possible, she searched every corner of the house for the prohibited bread.

When they were ready she and the whole household, each one in turn from the eldest to the youngest, carefully and ritually washed their hands.

The table was often nothing more than a clean, bare spot on the dirt floor covered with a cloth specially woven and decorated for the festivities or a low ornate wooden table with embroidered cloth, as in their home. When the table was finally ready, each guest found comfortable reclining positions all around. Benjamin’s place was at the right hand of his grandfather who would sit at the head of the table.
Cousins and nephews had come for the festivities and the room was filled with the happy sounds of children playing. Guests, some of them strangers, were also there as an act of hospitality. Benjamin knew most of them. Onkelos was present for he had no other family. A trusted friend and student, he acted as Gamaliel’s assistant, writing letters and setting appointments.

Benjamin smiled warmly at him. His face was gaunt with the ordeal he had faced in Egypt. Bags of flesh hung under his chin, his eyes hollow orbs in a face marked with suffering – and peace. What was that all about?

Onkelos had almost died on the long trip back from Egypt. He had spent weeks in a crazed delirium brought on by the mutilation General Vespasian had given him as a sign of his intent. His body had wasted away, the fever eating away his robust frame leaving him only a shadow of his former self. But he had survived and now he was home.

Benjamin determined to talk with him in more detail later. There was something about the look in his eyes that quickened Benjamin’s spirit. It was as if Onkelos could see right into his soul.

Benjamin shifted his robe around into a more comfortable position. Did Onkelos know his secret? How would he react if he did know? He forced himself to turn away from the fears and doubts that came crowding into his mind. He knew Onkelos. He could be trusted, no matter what happened. He turned his mind back to the other guests.

Even Jubal was there. He had practically invited himself, but his family was in Galilee and, as a friend of the family, he was always welcome. He had dark, piercing eyes under thick eyebrows and a high forehead. His hawk-like nose dominated his face. He always looked angry, a zealot in personality as much as in his political views. He had been at the forefront of the fighting in Galilee and was still awash with the excitement of their victory over the Roman legions from Syria.

He seemed rather fierce and aloof since he had come back from the battle front. But there was another Jubal, full of laughter and sharp wit, a lover of the Torah and a childhood friend. Now he tended to use his zeal as a weapon, alienating everyone around him. Benjamin tried to catch his eye but Jubal was in one of his murderous moods, brooding and silent, and Benjamin decided to leave him alone. He would come around sooner or later, he always did.

Benjamin’s eyes settled on his sister, Ruth, who sat with her head bowed in front of the three tables. She would serve the meal as she always did. He had not said anything to Gamaliel about his confrontation with Akbar yesterday afternoon, but Akbar apparently thought he would. He had sent a terse message by the hand of a relative to say that he would not be attending the Passover meal with the family
How the evil defeat themselves and the righteous need do nothing. But it was better this way. They would be a true family this night.

Still Akbar would not give up. It was not in his nature to accept such a blow to his ego. Now the whole family would become his target whether guilty or not. It was becoming clear to Benjamin that he was a danger to the people he loved.
What should he do?

*****

Gabriel was not sure what to think. Everything was in place. Shalamar remained veiled in the corner of the roof seated upon a rafter. Melanchor was positioned on the other side of the room. Both of them had commanding views of the action below them while staying out of sight. Gabriel had chosen a place closer to the center of things. He was hidden within the cooking stove against the wall in the center of the room.

So far they had not been detected but having demons in such close proximity was not his idea of a night well spent. The stink alone was nauseating. The smell was of bodies long unburied, laying in the sun, garnished with the sharp sting of sulfur. But what Gabriel hated most was their constant whimpering, backbiting and bitterness even among themselves.

It is their nature. Almost as if the evil fed upon itself, destroying itself, until even existence was sacrificed upon the altar of their incredible ego. Moral and spiritual suicide. If it weren’t for the children of men, God would have shut them all up in a place by themselves and let them destroy themselves in their own good time.

Gabriel could not ignore the imposing, almost overpowering, presence of the huge demon striding about the room, roaring out his orders at the others assigned to the rest of the family. He was a prince among demons, Gabriel saw at once, and he would be dangerous.

He was distracted by the entrance of a large, grotesquely fat demon with boils and open wounds seeping a dark, foul smelling, liquid stench.

“Hail, prince Bashan,” he said, greeting his host.

With a nod and a wave of his hand, the demon prince accepted his greeting and dismissed him. The demon looked toward Benjamin. With a large, ponderous tread he walked slowly and deliberately around Benjamin, looking carefully at him from all sides, looking for a weak spot, a place of entry. Finally he climbed up and sat in the center of the table, ignoring the food but licking his chops and staring malevolently at Benjamin.

This was Benjamin’s own tormentor who lost his authority when he gave his life to the Savior. The demon was still lusting after his prey, and Gabriel could sense that Shalamar was uneasy about allowing him to approach so closely. Gabriel cast a sharp eye in Shalamar’s direction but, then, he relaxed. Shalamar knew his orders.
Gabriel turned his attention back to the strutting demonic prince in the middle of the room. Prince Bashan was large and powerful, used to authority and immediate obedience, obviously from a higher rank than the rest. Wisps of sulfuric smoke swirled from his nostrils and tiny flames of fire were briefly visible every time he bellowed an order to his subordinates.

This one lived close to the flames. He would have direct access to the Evil One himself.

Spiritual pride was his specialty, the most demonic of deceptions, the most difficult to identify and defeat. He would be a ruthless and devastating opponent, but Gabriel had faced more worthy foes than this fiend from hell.

The reason this prince among demons was here was obvious to Gabriel, if not to the others. Gamaliel was one of the highest ranking religious leaders in this most religious of all cities and he deserved the talents of one of the best. This demon’s ability to produce such a fortress of spiritual pride even in one considered to be a godly man, told Gabriel volumes about his adversary. He had patience and cunning and was subtle beyond words. Experience counted for much in this battle. He would have to keep a close eye on him.
His mission had to do with the famous Rabbi, but this spiritual battle would take a power and creative wisdom that was far beyond his ability. He could defeat the demons but he could not destroy their authority in Gamaliel. That was the task of the Holy Presence himself. Still, he knew from long experience, that it would take time, much more time than they had. One thing he was sure of, it had to happen tonight.

*****

Gamaliel was relieved that Akbar would not be there. He always brought a lot of tension into a room with his arrogant manner. He glanced at Ruth trying to gauge her reaction to the news but he could sense nothing. Women were a mystery to him.

Gamaliel turned his attention back to the Passover preparations. This was something he could understand and savor. He would talk to Ruth later.

It was to be a full course meal but it was also to be a ceremony remembering the event that gave birth to their nation. Gamaliel surveyed the table as Ruth looked anxiously on. Everything had to be perfect.

The lamb had been roasted over an open fire and lay steaming in two bowls already on the table. The unleavened bread was already at each place ready to be eaten with the meat of the lamb.

Gamaliel smiled his acceptance at Ruth and nodded to the others, inviting them to take their places. Once in his place, reclining comfortably on the couch, Gamaliel allowed his mind to wander for a moment while Benjamin and the other guests waited respectfully for him to give the blessing. They were used to Gamaliel’s deliberately slow pace.

With misted eyes that saw more than food and utensils, Gamaliel pondered with reverence the journey of remembrance on which they were about to embark. They would take their sustenance for the long trip that lay ahead from the flesh of the lamb whose blood would save them from the Destroyer.

An ancient shudder of horror gripped him as he imagined the Shadow of Death passing overhead, just outside their door.

They would eat unleavened bread because there was no time to allow the bread to rise. They had to eat in haste and secrecy. Everyone had to be ready to go when the ram horns were blown. In Gamaliel’s mind he was there, with Mosheh and Aaron, ready to leave at a moment’s notice, ready to lead the people to the Promised Land.

Even though, another part of his mind told him, the Promised Land hadn’t worked out so well.

He glanced again at the table.

The bitter herbs would be eaten to remind them of the bitter years of slavery in the land of Egypt. In Gamaliel’s reading of the ancient story, he also included the bitter years in the desert where they wandered because of their rebellion. How foolish they had been to continually doubt the God who opened the sea by his mighty hand so that his people could walk over on dry ground, and then closed it again so that the Egyptian armies would be destroyed.

In his reading of the ancient story, Adonai Elohim, himself, had set the trap.
To cross the Red Sea at that point was ridiculous and miles out of the direct path into the desert. But God had his own plans. Plans to protect his people from harm. Given Pharaoh’s history of rebellion, it was only a matter of time before he would go after his freed slaves wandering in the desert. They would be easily caught, a ragtag army of foot soldiers with women and children to care for against the mightiest chariot army in the world. God had to deal with the threat in such a way as to warn the other nations, including those in the Promised Land, that neither he nor his otherwise vulnerable people were to be bothered.

It was a lesson lost upon the children of Isra´el, who would complain about such mundane things as food and water, and giants in the land. Had God not shown his power? Did he not make springs in the desert and send the heavenly bread and the meat upon the wings of the morning? Was he not the giant slayer?

Gamaliel truly did not understand such stubborn unbelief, but it had returned to haunt every generation of Jewish sons and daughters ever since those far off days with very few exceptions.

It was a curse upon his people and he always made a point of searching his own heart for unbelief at each celebration of the Passover, lest he, too, be left eating bitter herbs in the desert.

The pain that squeezed his heart like a mighty divine hand caused him to gasp and his eyes to flood with tears. He, himself, was full of unbelief. How could it be?

While the city celebrated this Passover with great expectation and joy, having defeated the Roman legions from Syria, he was full of bitter unbelief. But why? Why did he not believe that God would save them from their enemies as he had saved them from Egypt so long ago? He was a leader of the people. He had been a tower of strength and firm belief in God through many difficult moments in their history. What was different now?

He paused with his head bowed, searching his heart. The others in the room were concerned but patient and they, too, waited with heads bowed.

He had been studying the prophets of late and had been struck by the fact that so many of the prophecies had not yet been fulfilled. There was no King of Righteousness on the throne and justice and peace did not reign throughout every land. Oh God, where are you? If ever you loved your people, love them now!
He had been contemplating the fact that God often held his own counsel. He had his own timetable. He often had plans that his people knew nothing about. He went in directions that surprised and worried them and it required faith to follow him. He could not be controlled for political ends. He was in charge of the march of history and his plans were not always clear.

In any event, he did not believe that God would save Isra´el from her enemies and now he knew why.

It was all too political, too superficial. There was no core of faith and confidence in God at the heart of this bid for freedom. There was no piety, no prayers asking for direction, no worship to under gird this attempt to throw off the Roman yoke. There was no word from God to direct the battle. There was only an audacious attack led by zealots and criminals that had somehow taken the Romans by surprise – temporarily.

Temporarily, the word stuck in his throat like a dry apple.

No, there was no heart to the struggle and Gamaliel did not believe that God would respond. The people have lost their way because freedom must start in the heart.
Yes. He said the words to himself again as if they were the key to his dilemma.

Freedom must start in the heart.

*****

Akbar rushed through the Passover celebration with uncharacteristic arrogance, even for him.

“Ya´acov, the High Priest, expects me soon,” he said for the third time in as many minutes. But nobody responded. The Passover celebration had it’s own pace and it could not be hurried.

“I have official business tonight,” he said to no one in particular. When he again got no response, he began to lose his patience. “Get on with it. I have no time for delays.”
Akbar’s uncle determined never to have him in his house for Passover again, whether he, indeed, was working for the High Priest or not. When Akbar was finally gone, the entire family breathed a sigh of relief.

*****

Gamaliel was ready to begin.

He reached for the first cup of wine and with one hand raised to heaven, his prayer shawl over his head and the cup of wine lifted up, he intoned a prayer of blessing upon this fruit of the vine which reminded them of the blood of the lamb that was shed to protect them from death. And the meal began.

They would drink four cups of wine bringing them step by step through the ancient celebration in predetermined moments. When it was time for the second cup of wine and the storytelling, the table was cleared away and reset again with the proper symbolic elements.

This was the part of the celebration that Gamaliel liked best. He remembered when Michael had shared this with him and Benjamin had played contentedly on his lap the whole time. Now Benjamin would enter into the ancient dialogue that told the story of that first Egyptian Passover and the night they had fled from Egypt. Later they would sing the Hallel and drink more wine but this storytelling was the key to the whole night and he would not hurry it.

“What makes this night different from all the rest?” Benjamin said, as the first to open the ancient script.

“It was on this night that the people of Isra´el, many years ago, fled the tyranny of Egypt.” Gamaliel began to relate the story, even though it was as well known as a favorite tale.
The smaller children sat cross legged on the ground and squirmed into more comfortable places as children do who anticipate an especially good, even if long, story telling. And the candles grew dimmer as the darkness deepened, just like it must have been on that first night so long ago.

*****

Aaaagh! “How I hate that story.” Prince Bashan cursed and spat out his disgust. “Distract them, confuse them, do something!” He roared out his orders as his demons scampered out of his way.

But there was nothing more that could be done. It had already started and they would have to endure it or ignore it the best they could.

Already Prince Bashan was planning a night of storytelling of his own. He had stories full of horror and grief and evil intrigue. Stories of ancient battles and even more ancient betrayals. Stories of the rise and fall of the mighty warriors of old. And of course, he figured greatly in each one of them. It would be a fine way to block out that hated story and if his demonic minions so much as squirmed, there would be hell to pay. Even they would rather listen to him and his self-aggrandizements than to the story of one of their greatest failures.
“It doesn’t matter,” Prince Bashan muttered to himself. The Rabbi Gamaliel and his family would miss the point of the story anyway. He smiled. That was one thing they had made sure of long ago.

*****

Benjamin was nothing, if not a gentleman. He would in no way make an issue of being asked to celebrate a tradition that was now only an empty shell. The true meaning of the Passover had been fulfilled in the cross.

He wanted to shout out the glad news that the Maschiach had come to fulfill this wonderful promise of the Passover. Could nobody tell? He could hardly sit still. But seeing the look in his grandfather’s eyes, Benjamin took a deep breath and calmed down.

He could not talk with his family without his grandfather’s assent. Not if he wanted to keep from alienating him. He had agreed to keep it a secret until his grandfather gave him permission to speak. It was dangerous after all. But it had already been a strange day, and perhaps the strangeness was not yet at an end.

In the meantime, in his heart, Benjamin celebrated this meal as unto his Lord and Savior, remembering his death as the Lamb of the World.

“What makes this night different from all the rest?” Benjamin said, as the first to open the ancient script.
“It was on this night that the people of Isra´el, many years ago, fled the tyranny of Egypt.” Gamaliel began to relate the story, even though it was as well known as a favorite tale.

*****

The demons still had no idea of their presence either inside or outside the house. Gamaliel was sure of it. Shalamar and Melanchor had authority here but the plan called for a low profile. The idea was to isolate the house from any outside spiritual contact. Of course, Prince Bashan was not expecting any messengers, nor did he or his demons have a reason to leave. Since everyone was staying in their homes to celebrate the Passover, there was really very little chance of discovery. At least for now.

Shalamar would have to take care of the demonic escort outside when Akbar came to arrest Benjamin. Shalamar had worked out a plan that would allow no one in or out until morning. He had brought in reinforcements from outside Yerushalayim in order to keep the enemy confused and uncertain about their plans.

News had gone out that Gabriel was in Yerushalayim. The battle over Yerushalayim the previous afternoon could not be avoided but sooner or later someone would connect Gabriel to Benjamin and the Rabbi Gamaliel and then they would come in force. But not before morning.

Gabriel allowed himself to relax. All the preparations had been made. There was nothing else that could be done before daylight came with its uncertainties and problems. For now, the family was safe.

He turned his attention back to the room as the ancient story of Passover began. The story was even more ancient than the great Rabbi realized, with its roots in the very beginning of time itself.
But Gabriel didn’t have to hear the story; he just had to remember it.  And the remembering was good.

*****


The Temptations of the Cross   by Bert A. Amsing
Copyright © 2012 by vanKregten Publishers.  All rights reserved.
http://www.desertwarrior.net    info@desertwarrior.net
Footnotes and references included in original manuscript.

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The Desert Warrior

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