It was late in the evening and there was a slight nip in the air as they disembarked from the boat and hailed a chariot. They rode in silence to the southern part of the city and the chariot halted in front to the huge imposing palace that stood there. The palace had been built by his grand-uncle, Herod the great and had served as a temporary residence for any of the royal family who might visit the city. They dismounted and Blastus took the luggage down from the chariot and carried it to the front door. Herod followed, fumbling for the key. Having found it, he opened the door and in they strode.
As he prepared for bed, he said to Blastus, "You'll have to go to town and purchase some supplies first thing in the morning."
Meanwhile, the leaders of Tyre and Sidon had been discussing the state of their commerce and the subject of Herod's upcoming embargo.
"It was just an oversight. I suppose we should have realized that the thing to do was to send something back."
"Yes, and we dearly need their grain and fruit, since we can't produce it here."
"We must go to him and seek peace."
"Yes, we shall set sail for Jerusalem tomorrow."
The next day at the marketplace, however, they were fortunate to run into Blastus who was purchasing supplies for Herod. Blastus was paying with a note of promise from Herod, which he was sealing with the king's signet seal. They approached him.
"Do you work for Herod?"
"Why, yes, I am his chamberlain. My name is Blastus."
"Then, Herod is here in Caesarea?"
"Yes. He's at the palace now. He came to judge the games which will start next week."
"Well, we are from Tyre and Sidon. We must speak with Herod."
"Well, I don't know. He's quite busy, you know."
"But, we must!"
One of them took a sum of money from his pocket and handed it to Blastus. "Here. Take this. We will come to the palace tomorrow. Just make sure he will see us when we come."
"Fine," agreed Blastus, and put the money in his pocket."
Thus that evening, as he was helping Herod get ready for bed, Blastus said, "Guess who I saw in the market this morning?"
“I don't know. Who?"
"Representatives of Tyre and Sidon.”
"So, what? I want nothing to do with them."
"But, Your Majesty, they pleaded with me. They so desire an audience with you."
"But I don't want to see them."
"But, Your Majesty, I’m sure they want to discuss a peace agreement. They are certainly in great need of what we have to offer and may offer very equitable terms. Why don't you just listen to what they have to say?"
"Oh, very well. Arrange a meeting."
"It's already done. They will be coming tomorrow."
“And you knew it all the while, you crafty devil."
He smiled. "Yes, Your Majesty."
"What if I had refused to hear them?"
"Well, I guess they would have made the trip for nothing, Your Majesty."
"Fine, now let's get some sleep, shall we?"
"Yes, Your Majesty."
The next day they arrived as promised and were ushered into the palace hall by Blastus. "Wait here. I’ll tell His Majesty, the king you are here."
A few minutes later Herod appeared. They bowed. "Your Majesty--"
"Stand up!" he scoffed. "We have sent you several cargos of grain and fruit. Why have you not returned the favor?"
"A simple oversight, Your Majesty. We assure you it will never happen again. We are here to ask for terms of peace."
“And what do you offer? What produce can you send us in return for our grain and fruit?"
"We can send meat, Your Majesty."
"Well, that seems like an equitable arrangement. But the first shipment will have to be tripled to make up for your previous lack of response."
"Triple?! That’s robbery."
"Well, take it or leave it. Do you want a peaceful relationship, or shall I continue the embargo."
"Well, we really need the grain and fruit. We'll take it."
"Great. Let's sit down and work out the details."
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