Notzrim

jerusalem

David Roberts’ The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70

The group of men entering the synagogue at Terni caused murmuring among the Jewish men and not a few of the women. Everyone’s hearts sagged with news of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Holy Temple of Hashem by the Romans. These men had been there. They were refuges forced into the diaspora. How long had it been since any of the Terni Jews made the journey to the Holy City to offer Korban to Hashem?

After the reading of the Torah and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, “Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.”

Yochanan stood and said, “Men of Yisrael, and you who fear Hashem, listen. Hashem has brought to Yisrael a Savior, Yeshua Ben Yosef, after Yochanan had proclaimed before his coming a mikvah of teshuvah to all our people and even the Goyim.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to take a Google Maps street image and location and use them as a prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Terni, Italy. Like most places in Europe, Terni has a rich history going back to ancient times. Wikipedia says Terni was founded around the 7th Century BCE and was conquered by the Romans in the 3rd Century BCE. I have no idea if in the late First Century CE there was a Jewish population and a synagogue present, but I pretended there was.

After the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Holy Temple in 70 CE, there would doubtless have been countless Israeli refuges who were forced into the diaspora (exile among the nations). The Jews who had long lived in the cities and nations in the Roman empire would have journeyed to the Holy City only rarely because of the distance and difficulty in traveling in those days, so seeing a group of their Hebrew brothers arriving from the recently destroyed Jewish capital would have caused quite a stir, but there’s more than that.

It is a common belief in Christianity, Judaism, and even among other religions and in atheism that Jesus and then the Apostle Paul created a new religion called “Christianity” and converted many Jews and many more Gentiles to it. It is often thought that the Law (Torah) and all of the Jewish customs and traditions mandated by God were “nailed to the cross with Jesus.” My studies have convinced me that nothing could be further from the truth for the Jewish people.

The group of men from Jerusalem in my story are devout Jewish followers and disciples of Yeshua (Jesus) the foretold Maschiach (Messiah) and many witnessed him after the resurrection and then they told many others.

I borrowed a bit of Acts 13, specifically verses 15, 16, and 23 to put words in the mouth of my fictional Yochanan (John). Although Jewish devotion to Yeshua eventually fell away, we are unsure of just how many years or centuries such Jewish faith in him continued, perhaps even into the 3rd Century CE and beyond. No one knows for sure. However, that devotion would be a wholly Jewish extension of Pharisaic belief, not something that had no resemblance to its root source. That’s what I tried to communicate in 150 words.

For the sake of my narrative, I used a classic painting of the siege of Jerusalem above rather than an image associated with Terni, Italy.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

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The Journey West of Eden

neanderthal

s. Enteressangle/e. Daynes/Science Photo Library

Hashem planted a garden in Eden, to the east, and placed there the man whom He had formed. And Hashem God caused to sprout from the ground every tree that was pleasing to the sight and good for food; also the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad.

Hashem God said, “It is not good that man be alone; I will make him a helper corresponding to him.”

So Hashem God cast a deep sleep upon the man and he slept; and He took one of his sides and He filled in flesh in its place. Then Hashem God fashioned the side that He had taken from the man into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And the man said, “This time it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This shall be called Woman, for from man was she taken.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife and they shall become one flesh.

They were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:8-9, 18, 21-25 (Stone Edition Chumash)

Alam was puzzled and tried to work out this new thing he was seeing. This land had not been here the last time he led Nun and Tav to hunt the prey beasts. It was a new place, but it should not be. It was plants, fruits, good to eat, and many beasts.

He was about to lead the two others in for an easy kill. The Imorg could come back to gather the fruits and berries. Then he signaled stop. There was a noise that was not a noise coming from no place. The noise was near a new beast but not coming from the new beast. The new beast was unlike anything Alam or the others had known.

Alam signaled for stealth, for them to go back and wait while he moved forward. He was the bravest of the Morg and brought the clan much game. Now he was faced with what he did not know and his courage was greatly tested.

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Jael’s Hammer

Jael and Sisera

Jael and Sisera – found at multiple sources on the web

Now Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, “Turn aside, my master, turn aside to me! Do not be afraid.” And he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. He said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a bottle of milk and gave him a drink; then she covered him. He said to her, “Stand in the doorway of the tent, and it shall be if anyone comes and inquires of you, and says, ‘Is there anyone here?’ that you shall say, ‘No.’” But Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. So he died. And behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.” And he entered with her, and behold Sisera was lying dead with the tent peg in his temple.

Judges 4:17-22

And Barak took away the body of Sisera, the general of the army of Jabin, King of Canaan. The Children of Israel had been delivered into Jabin’s hand because the Israelites had done evil in the eyes of Hashem. Now Barak and Deborah the Prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, were fighting for Israel.

As Barak and Deborah retreated in the distance, Jael, the hammer still in her hand said, “So now the people will know that Deborah the Prophetess and Judge of Israel is not the only woman who can slay. Tonight after he has had his wine and sleeps, my husband Heber the Kenite will know that his wife will no longer endure torment at his hands.”

Okay, I’m cheating. Most of my story is a quote from chapter 4 of the Book of Judges. I’ve been reading through the Bible and this passage has always interested me. I’ve always wondered about Jael and what motivated her to kill Sisera, especially in such a manner. My interpretation is pure imagination of course.

Later in Judges 5 during Deborah’s song, she blesses Jael for her actions, so in the reality of the scriptures, I doubt my fantasy would endure.

With Israel’s enemies vanquished, there was peace in the land for forty years (Judges 5:31).

Fluid Prophesies

the old city

© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

David spent so much of his life deciding between a career in physics or theology and here he was in Jerusalem’s Old City embracing both. It was called the City of David, and Yeshua himself taught here and would later rule, but Moses and Aaron laid the foundation. Of course, that’s not how everyone remembers it, but after David’s invention of the quantum portal, he realized that the prophesies of Hashem were fluid, adaptable to man’s free will. He wasn’t sure how he’d changed the world with that last trip, but when he turned the corner, he’d find out.

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioneers photo writing challenge. The idea is to write a piece of flash fiction, based on the photo above, of no more than 100 words. My word count is 99.

I’m toying with the idea of expanding the concept of how Biblical history could have changed depending on human free will and still be within the will of God. This is just a little taste.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

What If Jesus Christ Became King of the World Two-Thousand Years Ago?

I’m having some frustrating connection problems today. I can get to Google sporadically, but I can’t open search results, nor can I get to Amazon. I’ve tried a Windows and Mac computer and multiple web browsers but it doesn’t make a lot of difference. I’ve rebooted my modem a few times and it seems to help temporarily, so I don’t know if it’s my connection or if there’s some sort of horrendous DDOS event attacking part of the internet.

The reason this is particularly frustrating just now is that in one of my Gmail accounts (when I can get to it), I found a Bookbub notice for an eBook called A Time to Every Purpose by Ian Andrew. The Google books blurb says about the book:

After eighty years of brutal Nazi domination millions have been persecuted and killed in a never-ending holocaust. But this oppressive and violent world still retains a few heroes;Now Leigh, the preeminent scientist of her generation, is pitched into the final battle. One that ranges from London to Berlin to Jerusalem. But will she destroy what she loves to save what she can only imagine? After one more murder and one chance remark, now is the time to reset history. The new novel by Ian Andrew.

However, the Bookbub description is more interesting:

Visit an alternate timeline where Jesus was never crucified, leading to 2,000 years of peace — and a society totally unequipped to contend with the rise of Nazism. Will inventor Leigh Wilson destroy everything she knows to reset history?

I’m tempted to buy the book (although since I cannot currently reach Amazon, I don’t know how) just to see how the author pulled off not crucifying Rav Yeshua (Jesus Christ) and yet had him fulfill his role of Messiah in the first century CE (which is what would have to happen for their to be 2,000 years of peace presumably).

On my sister blog Morning Meditations where I write religious commentaries, I’ve asked this same question of my readers. If, instead of the Jewish Messiah King being crucified by the Romans, he started is world-wide reign as King, what would have been his motivation and how would God the Father have consented to this? It would require rewriting, not only significant portions of the New Testament, but the Old Testament as well.

It’s a compelling thought and I’d love to write my version of this story. Ideas?

Temptations of the Prince

galaxies

Image: NASA.org

Immediately after Dov was revealed to be the heir apparent to the vast Stellar Empire, he was transported to the dwarf planet Arideen by his eternal adversary Serphentine. He was left there for a period of forty standard days with no rations and no shelter in order to contemplate all of the ramifications of his state.

At the end of that time, Serphentine arrived to confront the weakened Prince Dov. The brilliant illumination offered by the dense galactic cluster provided the dramatic backdrop to their encounter on the barren plains of a rock that was just barely larger than an asteroid.

“I am well aware of your abilities young Prince and equally aware of your hunger and thirst. If you really are heir to the Great King, prove it. Command the sand and rock to be your food and drink. I enjoy a good magic show.”

Dov was sitting on the very rocks Serphentine intended to see turned into a banquet. He looked up from his humble position at the tall, dark, and exquisitely handsome noble standing over him.

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Life After Resurrection

infernoAfter Martha brought her sister Mary to meet Jesus outside Bethany, Mary threw herself at his feet weeping, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She was bitter in her heart but secretly hopeful as well. As her sister Martha had told her, “Even now, I know that whatever Jesus asks of God, God will give to him. We can still have our brother Lazarus back.”

The mourners had followed the sisters from their home to where Jesus was waiting outside the village, and there was a great cry of anguish in the air.

Jesus placed his hand upon Mary’s head. “Where have you laid him.”

Seeing the tremendous grief Mary and Martha suffered, he too began to weep. The crowd thought it was because Jesus had loved Lazarus so much that he too mourned the loss. They didn’t understand that Jesus had known the man Lazarus was to die and that it was for the glory of the Almighty.

“Lord, come and see.” Mary rose and took the Master’s hand, pulling him in the direction of the tomb.

He went with them, still deeply moved by their grief. The mourners followed so there was a sizable group of people present when they came to the cave. The opening was covered with a stone sealing the corpse inside.

“Remove the stone,” Jesus said.

Shocked, Martha replied, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench for he has been dead four days!”

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Rising of the Ancient

tomb

Image: tvtropes.org

Adam and Sarah Hartley cautiously began their descent into the tomb. The illumination from their flashlights revealed the ancient stone steps leading down into the darkness and into history. They also believed they were being led downward into the ultimate enlightenment.

The Hartleys were the world’s most famous married Biblical Archeology team. Well regarded by both other archeologists and Christian researchers, they were credited with several important finds between 2020 and 2045, including the true burial-place of the Apostle Mark. It was long supposed that his body was stolen from Alexandria in a barrel of pork and was put to rest in the city of Venice, but the Hartleys discovered a codex that revealed this to be a ruse. The following year, they located the remains of Mark in his original tomb on the outskirts of the modern Egyptian city of Alexandria.

Now, Adam and Sarah are in Egypt again, this time investigating what could be the most important find of their careers. If the scroll they had discovered and translated last year was right, it would be the most significant discovery of the last two-thousand years: the true final resting place of Jesus Christ.

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Transformation by Vision

“I would never write about someone who is not at the end of his rope.”

-Stanley Elkin

Image: sciencealert.com

Image: sciencealert.com

His traveling companions gently deposited the Pharisee at the edge of a sleeping mat in a small, rented room just off of Straight street in Damascus. This wasn’t how they’d imagined entering the city, nor was Sha’ul the man with whom they had traveled from Jerusalem. Only hours ago, he was a fiery zealot (though not literally associated with the Zealots), breathing murderous threats against the disciples of a Rav named Yeshua, who had died and supposedly been resurrected, vowing their imprisonment or destruction for (supposedly) speaking against the Temple and the Torah.

Sha’ul’s once penetrating gaze had dimmed, and wide-open but unseeing eyes had become dulled in the aftermath of the blazing light that bathed their party on the road approaching this city, and a voice only Sha’ul could clearly hear had spoken to him of things astounding and forbidden.

“We will take our leave of you now, my Master,” Simeon nearly whispered to the once vital but now strangely shrunken, frail Pharisee. “We need to secure our own rooms.” Sha’ul seemed deaf as well as blind for he did not respond. “We’ll bring back food.”

Without turning toward the speaking man, Sha’ul faintly nodded his assent as if he could still see the unknown vision from the road. Simeon and his two cohorts quickly escaped the oppressive presence of the now sightless and helpless minister of justice against the religious sect they’d learned was called “The Way.” Their once proud mission was reduced to ashes.

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The Fifth Chapter of the Book of Jonah

jonah's kikayonNow it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was grieved.

And he prayed to the Lord and said, “Please, O Lord, was this not my contention while I was still on my land? For this reason I had hastened to flee to Tarshish, for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, with much kindness, and relenting of evil.

And now, O Lord, take now my soul from me, for my death is better than my life.” And the Lord said: Are you deeply grieved?

And Jonah had gone out of the city, and had stationed himself on the east of the city, and there he made himself a hut and sat under it in the shade until he would see what would happen in the city.

Now the Lord God appointed a kikayon, and it grew up over Jonah to be shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort, and Jonah was overjoyed with the kikayon.

Now God appointed a worm at the rise of dawn on the morrow, and the worm attacked the kikayon, and it withered.

Now it came to pass when the sun shone, that God appointed a stilling east wind, and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, and he fainted, and he begged to die, and he said, “My death is better than my life.”

And God said to Jonah; Are you very grieved about the kikayon? And he said, “I am very grieved even to death.”

And the Lord said: You took pity on the kikayon, for which you did not toil nor did you make it grow, which one night came into being and the next night perished.

Now should I not take pity on Nineveh, the great city, in which there are many more than one hundred twenty thousand people who do not know their right hand from their left, and many beasts as well?

-from Jonah chapter 4

Chapter 5

And Jonah replied to the Lord, “Did the kikayon sin against you and against your people Israel as did the people of Nineveh? Their sin was very great and yet you forgave them and they live. What did the kikayon do to live one day and then die?”

And God said to Jonah; “Consider the words of my servant Job: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ Are you greater than my servant Job who suffered severely at the hands of the Satan and yet did not lose his trust in Me?”

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