Herodes Antipas had been king of Galilee a couple of years, but there was much unrest in both our country and in Judea, and there had been shortage of food the whole winter. The former large town of Sepphoris, the nearest town to us here in Nazareth, was still in ruins after the Roman sacking.
Our lessons at the Rabbi had been reduced to once a week, as even we younger boys had to work in the fields all day. Except for me, I had an extra reading lesson, as the Rabbi had convinced my father that I had an unusual aptitude for scripture.
But now it was evening, the still and cool hours before sunset. I and my two brothers Hakob and Joses were playing in the yard behind our house. Shimon was inside, helping our mother to watch little Esther that still lay in her cradle.
- “I am Yehudah of Galilee, and you Hakob will be Quirinius!” Joses shouted and rushed towards his elder brother, wood sword over his head.
Hakob clambered up on the stone wall surrounding our house, defending himself with a makeshift shield, using a bucket lid, holding it by its rope handle.
- “I will summon the Emperor’s soldiers and I will crucify you all and the dogs will pee on you bones!” Hakob shouted back, “Yeshua, come help me with this bandit!”
- “You will lose both of you”, I said, crossing my arms. “Yehudah will be killed a year from now, and his war will lead to nothing. The Romans will stay for a thousand years. But then the whole Roman Empire will fall as well.”
Hakob sank down on the stone wall, sitting with his legs dangling.
- “You and your dreams, Yeshua… But we have Allah on our side, we cannot lose this war! We have the right to the Holy Country. Allah has given us this right. He will not wait a thousand years. So says the Rabbi.”
Joses, only five, did not really understand this, but took it as an encouragement:
- “I am Yehudah the Galilee, and Allah is on my side! He will help the zealots in the Holy War!” Again, he threatened Hakob with his sword.
I sat down on the ground, remembering the dream I had the previous night.
- “Last night I dreamt again that the angel spoke to me. He said that those who use the sword to kill will be killed by swords. And he said that those that give life will live forever.”
- “Now you are crazier than usual, Yeshua. How can we ever become free if we don’t fight?” Hakob exclaimed, jumping down from the wall to sit in front of me. Joses looked disappointed, realizing that the playing had ended, because his two elder brothers started to discuss, as they always did. He sat down at a distance, and started to build a farm on the ground out of the bucket lid and pieces of goat dung.
- “We will never become free as long as we believe this.” I said, “I know the Rabbi tells us to believe in the Holy war that will come and free us. All this talk about the Messiah that will lead us to victory. But Mother says that each one that has claimed to be the Messiah, has been killed.”
- “Yes, but the Rabbi also warns us about false prophets”, Hakob retorted, “and he says that the ones that have been killed have not been the real Messiah!”
I put my hand on Hakob’s shoulder and said calmly, with a deep feeling of being completely sure about what I was going to tell him.
- “My angel tells me that the Messiah will be the one that gives life. He will not use the sword, because it will lead to death for everyone.”
- “Tell that to the women in our village who have become widows because of the Romans. Tell this to the other mothers who have lost their sons who fought for our rights!” Hakob muttered angrily.
- “You know, Hakob”, I said slowly and carefully, “I think I am going to. Not now of course, but somehow I know I will tell them. And I feel frightened, because it will not be an easy telling. Sometimes in the future, I will even tell the Rabbi that he is wrong.”
- “You are really crazy, Yeshua” Hakob said, but looked a little impressed at me, shaking his head but at the same time smiling.
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