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In its Time

How could a religious Jew produce a doctrine that rejected his own religion? Was Christianity not a providential disruption of some other essentially Jewish mission which Jesus of Nazareth took upon himself?

His fate is akin to that of a boomerang, which gained worldwide fame due to its ability to return to the hunter, but whose main purpose is to reach the target.

In the novel "In Its Time" an attempt is made to reconstruct what the Galilean miracle worker’s plan "A" could have been, and why plan "B" was realized, which in turn gave birth to the Christian civilization.

Forward

“Jesus of Nazareth”

Jewish tradition has customarily maintained a negative approach to Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshua HaNotzri). He is routinely endowed with the use of black magic or the inappropriate use of his kabbalistic knowledge.

It is said that these types of accusations were first mentioned in the Talmud, which, in fact, set the appropriate approach. However, a closer look at the subject reveals that the Talmud never mentioned “that man”.

In fact, the Talmud describes two Jesuses of Nazareth (Yeshua HaNotzri), who have neither nothing in common with each other nor with the Jesus (Yeshua) from the Gospel.

Page 107 of the Sanhedrin tractate discusses how a certain Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshua HaNotzri), who lived under King Jannaeus, whose rule occurred almost a century before Pontius Pilate, was exiled from his community by his teacher, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perachiah, after which he "worshipped the brick" and "led Israel astray".

In other places (Sanhedrin 43a, Sanhedrin 67a, and Tosefta Sanhedrin 10:11), we are informed of a certain Yeshua Ben Stadah, who was executed on the eve of Passover, but in Lod rather than Jerusalem. He was sentenced to stoning by a Jewish court for the crime of witchcraft and was not sentenced to be crucified by a Roman court for any claims to royalty. In addition, he was held under arrest for forty days instead of one night. Therefore, we can see the differences in everything: the place where the events took place, the charges, the political figure, the sentence, and, accordingly, the execution method. The only similarity is that the execution took place during the month of Nisan. However, the historical period is not named, while Tosfot Rosh, for example, in commenting the “Sotah” (47a), claim that these events took place during the rule of Queen Helena, on the eve of the destruction of the Temple, that is, after Pilate's rule. Another Tosfot commentary (Shabbat 104.b) claims that Ben Stadah lived under Bar-Kokhba and does not correspond to the Jesus from the Gospel (also see Sepher Yokhsin 1).

Thus, it is hard to believe that the Talmud and the Gospel speak of the same person.

There is, however, another mention of the name Jesus (Yeshua) on page 57 of the Gittin tractate.

This fragment describes how the Roman Onkelos, who was considering converting to Judaism, consulted with the souls of Titus, Bilam, and Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshua HaNotzri) in the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) about his plans.

Titus not only tries to dissuade Onkelos, but also claims that the places of honour in the world to come are reserved for Jew haters. Bilam informs him that Israel occupies a central place in the world to come, while simultaneously dissuading Onkelos from converting. Only Jesus (Yeshua) encourages Onkelos, saying the following about the Jews: treat them kindly, not unkindly for the “one who touches you touches the apple of my eye.” (Zechariah 2:12).

Then we are told that Jesus is punished for mocking the words of the sages. In the conclusion we are told: “Come and see what a difference there is between the sinners of Israel and the prophets of the nations! What did Bilam, who was a prophet, advise (Onkelos), and Jesus (Yeshua), who was of the sinners of Israel, say for their own good”.

Still, there is no indication in this fragment that the Gemara is referring to the very Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshua Hanotzri) that is known to mankind through the Gospels. On the contrary, it is more natural for the reader to conclude that the Jewish sinner who spoke to Onkelos was one of the other two characters of the same name, namely, Ben Stadah or Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perachiah's disciple.

If we assume that the Gittin tractate speaks of the Jesus from the Gospels, then we will be forced to admit that the Talmud’s attitude toward him is quite ambiguous: on the one hand he is guilty of taking the Jewish sages lightly, but on the other, devoted to Israel and remains faithfully Orthodox. The Roman Onkelos follows his advice and does not convert to Christianity but to Judaism. Furthermore, he becomes one of the greatest Jewish sages!

The fact that the problem, from the sages’ perspective, was not created by the Master, but by his Jewish followers is also indirectly demonstrated by Rashi's definition of "minim" in his commentary on Rosh Hashana (17.a): "minim" stands for the "disciples of Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshua Hanotzri), who turned the words of the living God to evil”.

The Pharisee

If we are to assume that the Gittin tractate refers to Jesus from the Gospels, why is he considered one of “Israel’s sinners”? When and where did he mock the sages?

Neither the Jewish nor the Christian sources are able to provide a convincing example of his mockery.

The Gospels continually focus on the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees, presenting it as a clash between the “new” and the “old”, truth and hypocrisy, the real and the theoretical.

Every step of the way, Evangelicals try to convince the reader that the Pharisees’ only occupation was the attempt to catch the Master making a derogatory or seditious remark (“Then they sent to him some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said”, Mark 12:13).

For centuries, the claim of this clash between Jesus and the Pharisees was taken at face value by the whole world.

The first academic attempt at rehabilitating the image of the “historical Jesus”, initiated in 1835 by David Straus, traditionally contrasts his teachings with "bleak and gloomy Pharisaism" ("The party of Pharisees... instilled in the masses the absurd idea that it was all about appearances.”)

This attitude is entirely preserved in Ernest Renan’s book The Life of Jesus, published in 1863, “Happily for him, he was also ignorant of the strange scholasticism which was taught at Jerusalem, and which was soon to constitute the Talmud. If some Pharisees had already brought it into Galilee, he did not associate with them, and when, later, he encountered this silly casuistry, it only inspired him with disgust.” (Ernest Renan, The Life of Jesus, Ch.3)

However, in the twentieth century it became clear to many that in reality, it was not so much the Pharisees who tried to “catch out” Jesus mocking Jewish law or deviating from it, but rather the Evangelicals who were busy “catching out” the Pharisees for their hostility towards Jesus (Yeshua).

Many, first and most the Jewish researchers, were able to show convincingly that Jesus (Yeshua) was also a Pharisee and that his criticism did not go beyond the limits of self-criticism, which can be found in the Talmud. For example, in the Sotah tractate (22b) there is a list of the seven types of Pharisees (which include positive and negative examples), or in various sayings akin to the one found in the Bava Metziah tractate: “Jerusalem was destroyed only for the fact that they adjudicated cases on the basis of Torah law only in the city.”

Despite their best efforts, the Evangelicals were unable to conceal the fact that Jesus (Yeshua) was a regular orthodox Jew, like most Pharisees were.

The author of the book Revolution in Judea (1973), Hyam Maccoby writes: “the arguments which Jesus is represented as using against the Pharisees are Pharisee arguments. Jesus’s style of preaching is also typically Pharisee. He was himself a Pharisee, and the portrayal of him as an anti-Pharisee is part of the attempt to show him as a rebel against the Jewish religion rather than a rebel against Rome”. (Hyam Maccoby, Revolution in Judea, p.129, Orbach and Chambers, London, 1973)

Haim Cohn, in his book The Trial and Death of Jesus (1968), notes: “not only did Jesus move freely and naturally among the Pharisees from a very young age, but he continued teaching them and those “students of the law”, who apparently came as his disciples "from all parts of the Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem," and on the Sabbath he often and willingly accepted the Pharisees' invitations to dine”. (Haim Cohn, The Trial and Death of Jesus, …)

David Flusser wrote in his work Jesus (1969): “Jesus saw the Pharisees as Moses’ natural heirs and therefore said that in life it is necessary to be guided by their teachings. While Jesus was probably indirectly influenced by the Essenes, he was essentially rooted in orthodox, non-sectarian, Judaism, whose worldview and practice was embodied by the Pharisees”. (David Flusser Jesus, …)

“Oftentimes, it goes unnoticed that the Pharisees, often featured in the Gospels as Jesus’ enemies, are absent from the Gospel’s story of Jesus’ so-called trial… when the Sadducee high priest began persecuting the apostles, Rabban Gamliel, a Pharisee, came to their aid and saved them from any reprisals” (Acts 5:17-42).

On another occasion, when Paul stood before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, he was able to save his own life thanks to the help of the Pharisees (Acts 22:30-23:10). Then, when in 62 AD Jesus’ brother Jacob, and quite possibly a few more Christians were unlawfully executed by the Sadducee high priest, the Pharisees appealed to the king and the high priest was removed…

It is plausible to assume that: the Pharisees to not appear as Jesus’ accusers in the first three books of the Gospel, because at the time (in the 80s of the 1st century AD), everyone remembered that the Pharisees condemned Jesus’ surrender to the Romans. The authors of the synoptic gospels probably could not have included the Pharisees in the account of Jesus’ trial, since otherwise no one would have believed their report. On the other hand, they did not find it appropriate to mention the fact that the Pharisees had protested, since they had already given the ancient stories of Jesus an anti-Pharisaic focus D. Flusser “Jesus” Ural 1999 pp. 74-75.

Other researchers reached similar conclusions, so that nowadays, not only a handful of Christian researchers are weary of classifying the Pharisees as Jesus’ enemies, but the Church itself will sometimes issue similar statements.

Thus, “The Vatican Committee for Religious Relations with Judaism” concluded on June 24, 1985, that “Jesus was and always remained a Jew, his ministry was deliberately limited "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mt. 15:24). Jesus is fully a man of his time, and of his environment-the Jewish Palestinian one of the first century, the anxieties and hopes of which he shared…there is no doubt that he wished to submit himself to the law (Gal 4:4), that he was circumcised and presented in the Temple like any Jew of his time (Lk. 2:21, 22-24), that he was trained in the law's observance. He extolled respect for it (Mt. 5:17-20) and invited obedience to it (Mt. 8:4)… it cannot be ruled out that some references hostile or less than favorable to the Jews have their historical context in conflicts between the nascent Church and the Jewish community. Certain controversies reflect Christian-Jewish relations long after the time of Jesus”.

Thus, if there is no “mockery” of the sages in the Gospels, where did the accusation come from?

It seems to stem from the attitude of the Church, for whom ridiculing the teachings of the Jewish sages has become an integral part of the creed.

The following was said by Church elders regarding the Jews at the time the Gittin tractate was recorded: “God killers, prophet killers, enemies of God, god haters, enemies of mercy, enemies of their father’s faith, defenders of the devil, snakes, liars, blasphemers, people whose souls wonder in the dark” (Gregory of Nyssa). Or: “A synagogue is worse than a whorehouse… it is a den of scoundrels, a den of wild beasts... a cave of demons worshipping idols... a haven for bandits and debauchees, a haven for devils” (John Chrysostom).

The sages had to know that Jesus was an orthodox Jew just like them, but the shadow of the Church's curses against the synagogue could not help but fall on him as well.

Therefore, the point of view of the Talmud’s composers was split. On the one hand, while saving their friend from infamy, they attributed the authorship of antisemitic doctrines to questionable personalities like Ben Stadah and the Jesus who was exiled under King Jannaeus. On the other hand, they still placed Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshua Hanotzri) in Hell for mocking their tradition, while not identifying him unambiguously, but still usually identifying him with the founder of Christianity. Thus, the Church's sin of contempt for the sages was transferred to the evangelical Jesus (Yeshua).

Through the centuries, the Jewish tradition’s attitude towards Jesus (Yeshua) evolved primarily in accordance with this positioning. That is, all the images were identified. Thus, the Rambam (12th century) writes: “Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshua Hanotzri), who thought himself to be the Messiah and sentenced to death by the court (“Beit Din”)” Rambam “Mishna Torah” “The Laws of Kings” 11:4).

In other words, the Rambam identifies Jesus with Ben Stadah, and as a result we must conclude that “Christ” was stoned to death by Jews and not crucified by the Romans.

Yet, the initial ambiguity of Talmudic imagery has always left room for an alternative approach, and there have been authorities, such as Rambam's contemporary Rabbeinu Tam, who believed that the Talmud contains no reference to the evangelical Jesus (Yeshua) at all.

In so doing, the Church's sin of contempt for the sages was transferred to the evangelical Yeshua, but, still, in such a way that the possibility of his complete rehabilitation remained. A hint of this possibility is encoded in the Talmud itself.

The Rabbi and Rav

What is the basis of the Church's faith in the resurrection of Jesus?

It is written in Luke 24:36-34 “While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.”

Thus, the disciples initially thought of Him as a "spirit," i.e., a ghost. He, in turn, declared that he was not and offered they touch him as proof, “for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

In the case of most apparitions this is indeed true. In most cases spirits are visible but not tangible. In most, but not in all.

Indeed, the Torah describes incorporeal beings that are quite accessible to the touch. How else would Jacob's struggle with the angel have been possible? How was the patriarch's thigh damaged?

The same is true for the consumption of food. For example, the three "men" who visited Abraham accepted his offer of a meal: “He looked up and saw three men standing near him… Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.” (Genesis 18:2-8)

The same situation is described when the angles appear before Lot, “The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of Sodom… and he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.” (Genesis 19:1-3)

This kind of evidence unwittingly questions the words of the Gospels: “Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:26-29)

In view of the above, it is clear that Thomas' confidence that his interlocutor was a man in the flesh and not a disembodied spirit was grounded in a call to " believe" rather than in a sense of touch. Thomas believed the Master, and ultimately it was this faith that became the foundation of the Christian confession.

The faith of the Church rests upon the testimony of Yeshua himself, that is, upon his own attitude toward himself as a man of flesh and blood.

It would appear there is nothing more to add. The Gospel accounts, however, contain one halakhic detail that confirms more convincingly than anything that had been said, that the Master's attitude toward himself was exactly thus.

The Talmud teaches us that “the dead are released from the fulfillment of the commandments”. This is manifested, for example, in the permission to bury the deceased in a shroud woven of wool and linen thread (a type of clothing Jews are strictly forbidden to wear) Deuteronomy 22:11

When praying at the grave of a righteous person, the soul of the latter is not counted in the minyan (the quorum of at least 10 people praying).

This halacha also manifests itself in the fact that although the spirit can participate in the meal, it cannot preside over it. The blessing on the food pronounced by the spirit is void, for the living cannot respond to such a blessing by saying "Amen."

Meanwhile, the Gospel reports that Yeshua not only ate with the apostles, but specifically blessed the food. Furthermore, he blessed the bread, which, along with the blessing of the wine, is a very special sacramental act.

“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight… Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” (Luke 24:30-35) “Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.” (John 21:13)

These evangelical accounts of Yeshua's posthumous appearances to his disciples should be compared to a similar Talmudic description of a Rabbi.

In the Talmud, in the Ketubot tractate (103 a), it is said that not long before his death Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi (approx. 135 – approx. 220) asked his sons that after the funeral they light a candle in his room, make his bed, and set the table for him. Thus, after his death, the Rabbi would appear in his room on the Sabbath and eat with his household.

Apparitions of righteous souls after their death are equally familiar in Christian and Jewish traditions. However, it is impossible to point to a third story in which these apparitions continued for a period of time immediately after the death of the righteous person and were accompanied by a communal meal. The similarity of these stories becomes even more striking when we consider that the wine and bread were blessed by... the Rabbi himself, and not by his sons!

The Talmud does not say so out right, however it is said in “Sepher Chasidim” “When the dead man becomes visible, even if he is buried in a shroud, he may appear in any clothing he wishes. Once in the clothes in which he was buried, and another time in his former clothes. Thus, Rabbi Hanasi could be seen in the fine clothes he wore on Shabbat, and not in his shroud, thereby declaring that he was still in power to exempt others from their duty in sanctifying the day (i.e. blessing wine and bread), unlike the other dead who are exempt from performing the commandments” (Sepher Chasidim 1129) My translation – not official!

Rav Ovadia Yosef (1920-2013) emphasizes that this story should be understood as an exceptional case, granted by special prophetic inspiration, and that it can in no way affect the general principle that "the dead are free from keeping the commandments."

Meanwhile, this "exceptional case" literally begs to be compared with the testimony of the Gospel.

There is no reason to doubt the truthfulness of the Talmudic story, that is that the Rabbi actually appeared after his death to his loved ones and even consecrated the Sabbath. However, it is hard to believe that an account of these phenomena would not take into account the Christian context, or that it would not enter into an implicit polemic with it.

First of all, we should note the striking meaningfulness of the parallel itself, that is, the meaningfulness of the comparison between Yeshua and the Rabbi.

Indeed, Judaism and Christianity are based on the same source, the Tanakh. Christians refer to it as the "Old Testament," which they view through the eyes of the "New Testament”. The Jewish interpretation of the Tanakh is found in the Talmud. These approaches were formed in the same historical period and with a certain reference to one another.

But in the same way that Yeshua was the progenitor of the New Testament, the Rabbi was the progenitor of the Talmud. For it was he who initiated the recording of the oral tradition.

Initially, Scripture and Tradition opposed each other not only in substance (as Codex and Commentary), but also in form. The interpretation of the Torah, given by God in written form, could be given by the sages exclusively in oral form. But when this requirement began to threaten the loss of the continuity of tradition, Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi abolished it, referring to the words in the Scripture: “It is time for the Lord to act, for your law has been broken.” (Psalm 119:126).

If Yeshua "violated" the Torah by contrasting its universal core with the cloak of exclusive Jewish Law (distinguishing the chosen people from the rest of humanity), the Rabbi "violated" the Torah by allowing its exclusive interpretation to be annotated.

Both reformers, however, were descendants of King David, and both were referred to as “Rabbi”! After all, that is the only way that people called Yeshua (“They said to Him, "Rabbi," which means "teacher," "where do you live?” “Rabbi, look, the fig tree you cursed has withered away.”)

Of course, the sages who included the story of Rabbi's posthumous appearances in the Talmud could not have been guided by the idea of a parallelism between the Jewish and Christian traditions, which even now - from the perspective of millennia - does not catch everyone's eye.

But first, the parallel was established by G-d Himself, who sent the Rabbi from the netherworld to greet the Sabbath with his household, and second, the sages themselves, who recorded the account of these otherworldly meetings, were certainly guided by some idea.

It is impossible to imagine the similarity of Rabbi's posthumous apparitions to those of Hanotzri as a "coincidence", for the simple reason that the sages were, what they call, "in the know", and could easily avoid unwanted associations if they wished.

Indeed, the sages, and above all the Rabbi himself, were not only well acquainted with Christian doctrine, but followed the intra-church polemics and, in different ways, approached the various trends of Christianity.

Another Talmudic story, told in Tractate Hulin (87.a), clearly demonstrates this.

A Christian ('min') came to a Rabbi and interpreted the words of the prophet Amos, He is "the one who forms the mountains, creates the wind" (4:13) in a dualistic sense: "He who created the mountains did not create the spirit and He who created the spirit did not create the mountains". The Rabbi refuted his conclusion by recalling the end of the passage: "God Tzvaot is His name".

But the Christian did not give up and stated that he had a strong objection to this, which he would formulate definitively in three days. The Rabbi appeared alarmed. He spent three days in fasting, and when he was informed of his opponent's appearance, he spoke the words of a psalm that had once been spoken by the crucified Yeshua: “in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” (Psalm 69:22)

But instead of the other man, another Christian stood before him and said, "I have brought you blessed news: that Christian did not find an answer, threw himself off the roof and died."

The delighted Rabbi immediately invited his guest, who turned out to be a "noble Roman" called Bar Levianus, to share a meal with him, accompanied by a blessing of the wine!

The details and turns of phrase used in this story, right down to the expression "blessed news", leave no doubt that the sages, and the Rabbi in particular, not only followed closely the development of Christian thought, but were quite favourable to some of its strands. Moreover, a representative of one such strand, Bar Levianus, was even allowed by the Rabbi to participate in the Pharisaic meal!

The first Christian's interpretation of Amos's words is usually considered "Markeonistic", or dualistic: one god created the mountains, another the wind; one deity created matter, another the spirit.

Marcion died when the Rabbi was in his thirties, so it is not surprising that the subject of two Gods was much discussed at the time.

Meanwhile, Professor Michal Bar-Asher Sigal notes that the passage from the book of Amos mentioned in the Gemara has also been drawn upon by Christians when discussing the trinity, in connection with the status of the Holy Spirit. Some have found in the prophet's words a confirmation of the idea of his pre-eternity (as the personification of the trinity), while others have found in favour of his creation.

And this interpretation opens the way to other insights.

Indeed, although questions about the trinity were clarified by the Church centuries later, some discussions were already founded in Rabbi's time.

Thus Origen (185-254), the father of the Church, denied the pre-eternity of the Son, and did not find any foundation for the idea of the incarnation of the Holy Spirit in the Holy Scripture. That is the reason why Origen was declared a heretic by the Church three centuries later.

Meanwhile it is known that Origen was on excellent terms with the sages of the Talmud. In his writings he informed that he often consulted Jewish scholars about the meaning of certain passages of the Tanakh, and in "Contra Celsum" he even defended Jewishness. Origen appears to have been on friendly terms with Rabbi Oshaya, head of the academy at Caesarea, and according to his own account was acquainted with a patriarch named "Ίούλλος", whom scholars identify as Rabbi Yehuda.

As we may recall, the second "good Christian" was called Bar Levianus. This name, not mentioned anywhere else in the Gemara, is difficult to treat as a proper name. It is clearly a nickname.

Indeed, in Aramaic "Bar" means son, in Latin "Levianus" means light, i.e. "the good Christian" was called... the Son of Light.

It is natural to assume that this nickname was given by the sages to Origen, around whose teachings there were fierce debates for centuries and which were finally condemned by the Church.

It is natural to suppose that Rabbi spoke to Origen during the Pharisaic meal, and that it was this kind of conversation that led him to ask the Almighty for the right to a series of extraordinary posthumous apparitions.

With these apparitions, the Rabbis questioned the apostolic interpretation of posthumous encounters with the Nazarene teacher: By spirit or body after his death he “appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.” (1 Corinthians 15:6)

At the beginning of the third century, when the recording of the Oral Torah began at the initiative of the Rabbi, the sages, of course, still maintained their own legend of the true Hanotzri, i.e. they remembered that he was one of them and were aware of his posthumous appearances.

The sages did not openly preserve this own lore, nor did they entrust it to paper. But they still made it clear that he belonged to their circle. They made this clear, first, by pointing the finger of authorship of Christianity at the "namesake" sorcerers, and second, by comparing Yeshua to the Rabbi, who provided a good reason for this comparison with his posthumous apparitions.

Thus, in the story of the posthumous sanctification of the Sabbath by the spirit of the Rabbi, it is possible to see the positive attitude of the Jewish tradition toward Yeshua Hanotzri encoded by the sages, regardless of the interpretation of his posthumous appearances.

In any case, it is legitimate within Judaism to assume that Yeshua was a devout, orthodox Jew.

Rabbi Jacob Emden is a great modern authority, one of the “ahronim” whose opinion is recognized as dominant above those who preceded him (by virtue of a better overview of the historical perspective). On the rare occasion when one of the “ahronim” voiced an opinion against a formerly accepted view, his approach would be decisive. (Rambam, Forward to “Mishne Torah” 33).

Thus, the research conducted by David Flusser and other Jewish researchers of the Gospels can be considered no mere single projects, but the deepening of an existing Jewish approach according to which Jesus (Yeshua) adhered to the teachings of the sages and was one of them.

But how is it possible? How could Jesus, without any intention to do so, find himself in such a precarious situation? What could have been the actual Jewish meaning of his mission, omitted by the evangelicals and that the Jews were incapable of maintaining?

A Revolution in Judea

Maccoby presents this mission extremely convincingly in his book Revolution in Judea. He presents Jesus (Yeshua) not simply as a "historical figure," but as the "Jesus of the kerygma (sermon)," but not as a Christian "kerygma”, but a Jewish "kerygma" that could not but have a political dimension.

“The Gospels tell us that when Jesus used expressions such as ‘kingdom of God’ and ‘Messiah’ he meant something quite different from the meaning attached to them by all the other Jews of his time. This is inherently unlikely. If he meant something entirely different, why did he use these expressions at all? Why say ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ when what you really mean is ‘God bless the Tsar’? If Jesus wanted to say that his kingdom was not of this world, that he had no political aims and that he had nothing to say against the Roman occupation of the Holy Land, why would he use expressions which were understood by the entire body of his compatriots to be political and revolutionary in meaning?

The Gospels have undergone a process of distortion by which the political dimension has been removed. This is not only a matter of depoliticizing key phrases such as ‘kingdom of God’, ‘Messiah’, ‘gospel’, ‘salvation’, and ‘son of David’; the actual political atmosphere of Jesus’s time has been altered out of recognition. Instead of a situation of seething political discontent, we have the picture of a settled Roman province”. (Hyam Maccoby, Revolution in Judea, pp.124-125, Orbach and Chambers, London, 1973)

But why did the evangelicals obscure the political reality on the ground? Maccoby recreates their train of thought as follows:

“What were the Christians of Rome thinking as the Jewish War went on, and the faces of Gentiles were turned towards Jews with hate? What did they think as they watched the procession of chained Jewish prisoners going through the streets of Rome in Vespasian’s triumph to the exultant execrations of the crowd, and as they heard the roar of savage joy on the news of the death of Simon bar Giora?

We can learn what they were thinking by reading the Gospel of Mark, written about this time, and the other three Gospels which carried further the orientation first laid down in Mark. Here we can see how the Christians, originally an integrally Jewish sect, detached and dissociated themselves from the Jews in the hour of their defeat…Yet here they were, with their anti-revolutionary attitude, being confused with the seditious Jew simply because the god whom they worshipped was a Jew and had been crucified for sedition. The solution that must have seemed to them blindingly right as to be God-given was that Jesus had fought not against the Romans but against he Jews. The Gospel which they had received from the Jewish-Christians of Jerusalem must surely have been distorted by a pro-Israel bias; it was up to them to put it right and to restore the facts as they must have been. In this frame of mind…Mark sat down to write his ‘edited’ version of the Gospel”. (Hyam Maccoby, Revolution in Judea, pp.238-240, Orbach and Chambers, London, 1973)

That is the reason why political context was completely erased from Jesus’ (Yeshua’s) biography and he ended up being presented as someone who fought against the Pharisees and not the Romans.

The Zealot of Nazareth

The hypothesis of a "Zealot" background to the Gospel story was raised long before Maccoby, but is viewed by many with skepticism. For example, the biblical scholar Gleb Yastrebov writes in connection with Yulia Latynina's book "Jesus. A Historical Inquiry" (2018): “The idea that Jesus was a zealot often comes up among sensation hunters, but very rarely in academia. It was introduced by Reimarus (18th century) and especially defended by Eisler (1920s) and Brandon (1960s). Their arguments have been rejected by the vast majority of scholars. Hence, if Latynina wants to overthrow the consensus, she must respond to the existing critique.”

Meanwhile, the eminent historian Richard Horsley attributes the unpopularity of the "Zealot" theory to completely extraneous reasons, rather than to the credibility of its criticisms: “Many New Testament scholars, including some of our mentors, have been deeply moved by the book Jesus and the Zealots, published by Samuel Brandon. Perhaps even more disturbing to Western scholars of the New Testament was the connection between anti-colonial movements and student demonstrations in the West and demands that scholars and universities disclose their attitudes toward anti-colonial programs.

Oscar Cullmann, a recognized authority who had previously argued about the New Testament and the state without entering into harsh polemics, and Martin Hengel, who had recently presented a synthetic reconstruction of the Zealot movement, immediately issued pamphlets declaring emphatically that the New Testament gives us no reason to consider Jesus in any sense a "revolutionary”. In their writings we see how New Testament interpreters have struggled to deny any connection between Jesus' activities and politics for fear of him being mistaken for a revolutionary. However, this example also gives a glimpse of another noticeable item: the extreme opposition of religion and politics in the study of the historical Jesus.

Jesus Research: New Methodologies and Perceptions The Second Princeton‑Prague Symposium on Jesus Research, Princeton 2007

And So, Eisler and Brandon's arguments were "rejected by the vast majority of academics" for reasons that were far from scholarly. The scholars were frightened - and justifiably so - by the use of the gospel to fan the flames of world revolution. But what could be done? In Judea under the Roman occupation, no Messianic movement could avoid having a political dimension.

One rather broad scholarly "consensus" also leads to this conclusion. Aside from Maccoby, many other biblical scholars are convinced that the Gospels are not a "reliable source" for all things related to the trial of Jesus.

Thus, the German jurist Wedigg Fricke in his book "Der Fall Jesus. Eine juristische Beweisführung.” writes: "According to 'de-evangelized' research, the evangelicals may well have invented the story that the Jewish authorities conspired to kill Jesus. We must remember that the Gospels were written at a time when the Christian community, whose first generation consisted entirely of Jews, was disassociated from Judaism and in conflict with the religion that produced it. Early on in its existence, Christianity found it necessary to show that Jesus was not affiliated with any Jewish rebellion. Only in this way could Paul, who did not preach in his homeland but reached out to Jews and Gentiles outside of Palestine, expected to find success in the Roman Empire. The defeat of the Jewish revolt against the Romans in 70 A.D. exacerbated this need. These days, in theological circles, one often hears the opinion that the total defeat of Judea was sufficient reason for the gospel writers to shift the blame for Jesus' death onto the Jews.” Weddig Fricke, «Der Fall Jesus. Eine juristische Beweisführung.» 1995

To some, this "de-evangelized" conclusion may seem destructive to the Christian faith, and even incompatible with it.
Indeed, the inner drama of the Gospel is built on the fact that God has once again been rejected by His chosen people: the Messiah is sentenced to death by the Jewish High Priest, the "Lamb of God" is sacrificed by the Jews as part of their eternal unfaithfulness to God. In the New Testament, the Jew is a negative, at best ambivalent character--a godly people who provide the possibility of making an atoning sacrifice.

However, following the Vatican's resounding declaration that the Jewish people were not to blame for Jesus' crucifixion, it opened the church to other interpretations, the first of which was that of "zealotry".

The fact that the evangelical anti-hero was not the Jewish High Priest, but the Roman Emperor, does not hinder the Christian faith at all. Thousands of early Christians died as they refused to make sacrifices to the Emperor. Their rebellion continued the rebellion of their Master. It is in everyone's interest to restore the historical truth in this matter.

Thus, the "Zealot" interpretation of the Gospel story is both scholarly and canonical. It is Maccoby’s interpretation that fills it with "canonical" meaning.

The originality of his hypothesis lies in the fact that Yeshua intended to carry out his rebellion not so much through the skill of a military commander as through that of a miracle worker.

Maccoby believes that Yeshua's night walk to the Mount of Olives with his disciples armed with two swords (Luke 22:38) was an attempt to engage in war, that final war of Gog and Magog foretold by the prophet Yechezkiel: “On that day, when Gog comes against the land of Israel, says the Lord God, my wrath shall be aroused.” (Ezekiel 38:18)

Another prophecy about this war is described in the book of Zechariah: “Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee by the valley of the Lord’s mountain, for the valley between the mountains shall reach to Azal… Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him… And the Lord will become king over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be one and his name one… This shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem…” (Zechariah 14:3-12)

Maccoby writes as follows:

“’The people that have fought against Jerusalem’ were none other that then Romans, the heathen barbarians who had united ‘the nations’ in a great empire and had set their faces against God. He himself, Jesus of Nazareth, was the person to whom the prophet was addressing his instructions; the Messiah who would arrive in Jerusalem on an ass’s colt, and would stand in ‘The valley of the mountains’ together with a company of ‘saints’ to witness the appearance of the glory of God on the Mount of Olives”. (Hyam Maccoby, Revolution in Judea, pp.189-190, Orbach and Chambers, London, 1973)

“He believed that the time for the fulfillment of the prophecies of Zechariah, Joel, and Isaiah had come… that a great battle would take place against the Romans, in which the Jews would be led by a descendant of King David, a Messiah or Christ, who would be the lawful king of the Jews; that the battle would be accompanied by miracles… in which the Romans and the unworthy among the Jews would perish; that the battle would be a victory for the Messiah and the Jews, who would then embark on an era of independence; and that this would also be an era of peace and spiritual advance for the whole world, when the God-given mission of the Jews as the people of God would be acknowledged by all nations, and the Temple in Jerusalem would be regarded as the spiritual centre of the world”. (Hyam Maccoby, Revolution in Judea, pp.156-157, Orbach and Chambers, London, 1973)

Thus, Jesus (Yeshua) ascended the Mount of Olives accompanied by his sword wielding disciples, so that in the ensuing battle he could urge G-d to enter into the war He had promised, to bring upon the Romans the terrible plagues akin to those with which G-d had once punished the Egyptians!

Maccoby attributes Jesus’ (Yeshua’s) desperate actions to his psychological particularities:

“It may be objected that this account makes Jesus appear insane. Could he really have expected the prophecies of Zechariah to be fulfilled so literally that very night on the Mount of Olives? How could he have been so sure he knew the exact hour of the prophecies, and that it was through him that they would be fulfilled? As a person Jesus was what would today be described as a ‘manic’ character, i.e. one capable of remaining for long periods at a high pitch of enthusiasm and euphoria. This enabled him to perform his miracles of healing, and to impress his associated to such an extent that they could not let his memory die. He was not Judas of Galilee, or Bar Kokhba, who were Messiahs of essentially ordinary or normal temperament, men who made their bid for power, failed, and that was that. It was no accident that Jesus gave rise to a new world-religion…

It was only a step for the Hellenistic Gentiles to transform Jesus’s soaring conviction of his universal mission into a dogma of his divinity; or to transform his confidence of victory by the hand of God, rather than by guerilla methods, into a pacifist other-worldly doctrine which transferred the concept of victory on to a ‘spiritual’ plane. Jesus’s ‘manic’ temperament was the mainspring of the early Christian Church, with its ecstatic mood, its universal ambition, and its confidence in ultimate victory”. (Hyam Maccoby, Revolution in Judea, pp.190-191, Orbach and Chambers, London, 1973)

Meanwhile, Maccoby’s recognition of the fact that all the Jewish rebellions against the Romans, starting with Judas of Galilee (6-7 years AD) and ending with Bar Kokhba (135 AD), were in fact messianic movements, removes the need to explain “Jesus’ (Yeshua's) mishap" by his fanaticism. From a pragmatic standpoint, all the Jewish rebellions against the Romans were desperate, maniacal, and insane. In the end, they all gambled and relied on help from G-d.

Joseph Flavius writes: “But now, what did the most elevate them in undertaking this war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how, "about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth” (The Wars of the Jews, Book 6, ch.5:4).

Flavius cites a story that took place a few decades after the events on the Gospels, which corroborates the likelihood of Maccoby’s theory: “ …there came out of Egypt about this time to Jerusalem one that said he was a prophet, and advised the multitude of the common people to go along with him to the Mount of Olives, as it was called, which lay over against the city, and at the distance of five furlongs. He said further, that he would show them from hence how, at his command, the walls of Jerusalem would fall down; and he promised them that he would procure them an entrance into the city through those walls, when they were fallen down. Now when Felix was informed of these things, he ordered his soldiers to take their weapons, and came against them with a great number of horsemen and footmen from Jerusalem, and attacked the Egyptian and the people that were with him” (The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 20, ch.8:6). This “prophet” is also mentioned The Acts of the Apostles 21:38.

Thus, one did not need to be a fanatic to decide to go up against the Romans armed with two swords, it was simply enough to get a “sign from above”. We are left to assume that the proclamation about the destruction of the Temple was such a “sign”.

Indeed, Jesus spoke at the exact moment (40 years before the destruction of the Temple) when the sages began realizing that a great disaster awaited the people of Israel (Yoma 39b; Gittin 56a).

Most importantly, the same realization came to Jesus (“his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the Temple. Then he asked them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down” Matthew 24:1).

He remembered the prophet saying “beita akhishena” – “in its time I will accomplish it quickly” (Isaiah 60:22); he understood (as we learn in Sanhedrin 97a), that a pre-emptive Redemption is preferable, as it will warn off disasters (if you are worthy – I will hasten it, if you are not worthy – it will be done at its time”). And so, he decided to speak out.

While trying to resolve some inconsistencies in the Gospels, Maccoby postulated that Jesus (Yeshua) decided to fulfill his plan for Redemption on Sukkot, despite being executed six months later on Passover.

Such a deviation from the general evangelical line hardly seems justified. Especially since the exact date of the speech was known from a prophecy: “in Nisan the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt; and in Tishrei in the future the Jewish people will be redeemed” (Rosh Hashanah 11a). This position serves as the perfect reason why Jesus (Yeshua) ascended the Mount of Olives precisely on the eve of Passover, on the eve of Passover in the year 3790.

It is important to note that according to Jewish tradition it is customary to date the destruction of the Temple in 68 AD (this is the result of Rashi’s calculations in the Avoda Zara 9a commentary). Therefore, we should count “forty years” from the 28th and not the 30th year. Meanwhile, the generally accepted historical date (70 AD) also appears in various traditional texts and is fully appropriate (see the Amor Hagadol’s commentary on Rif’s interpretation of Avoda Zara 2).

A miracle did not come to pass and Jesus’s (Yeshua’s) messianic shot in 3790 was blank.

But what does it mean, then, that this attempt at redemption caused a crash, led to the emergence of the world's most representative religion, thanks to which on the one hand the Tanakh spread throughout the world, and on the other made the Jews outcasts?

The Second Coming

Therefore, various nations around the world fully took advantage of the messianic energy of what had happened. The Gospel story was bizarrely superimposed on the pagan myths of the dying and resurrected plant deities. In turn, the deification of the orthodox Jew was the optimal way for the peoples to join the faith of the Creator of the world.

As Rabby Emden notes, “the Nazarene gave the world a double blessing. First, he destroyed idolatry, removed the idols worshipped by the nations, and taught them the seven commandments of Noah. Second, he bestowed upon them moral laws that made their life stricter than demanded by Moses’ Torah”.

The ethical and intellectual achievements of Christian civilization are significant, and one can understand the Providence that set the nations on this path, even at the cost of the desecration of Israel, foreshadowed, by the way, more than a millennium earlier (“You shall become an object of horror, a proverb, and a byword among all the peoples where the Lord will lead you”. Deuteronomy 28:37).

And yet, this ongoing vilification still raises many doubts and questions: does this whole story also have some “reverse” meaning on the Israeli side? Isn't there also some kind of Jewish "positive side" to Jesus’ (Yeshua's) mission?

It seems it can be glimpsed in the scene where Jesus (Yeshua) bids farewell to his disciples on the Mount of Olives.

In this episode, the evangelist Luke was unable to hide the fact that Jesus’ goals were always, and this is especially important, and would always remain “political”: “Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city.” (Acts 1:6-12).

Thus, Jesus’ disciples connected his mission to the “restoration of the kingdom of Israel”, in which they whole heartedly believed. As for the Teacher himself, he wholly shared their hopes. The angels’ words can be interpreted to mean that Jesus (Yeshua) will return at the time of the restoration (when “the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west”) and will do so not only to join in everyone’s jubilation, but to correct a process he started and then neglected.

Something should come together at that time. For if the death of the righteous Jew (who claimed to be a messiah) turned into an unprecedented spiritual explosion that renewed the universe and “filled it with the news of the Mashiah”, we would naturally conclude that this was an abortion of the Jewish mission that was extremely close to its realization, that Deliverance, as conceived by the people of Israel, was almost in Jesus’ reach.

And Judaism indirectly admits to that fact.

In fact, according to the Midrash, the Messiah was born on the day the Temple was destroyed, i.e. the 9th of Av 3830. However, it is normally acceptable to recognize another day as the day on which the heavens pronounced their verdict, namely, Yom Kippur 3790, on which “the lot for God did not arise in the High Priest’s right hand at all. So too, the strip of crimson wool that was tied to the head of the goat that was sent to Azazel did not turn white, and the westernmost lamp of the candelabrum did not burn continually” (Yoma 39b).

Thus, the Jewish tradition allows us to consider the year the Messiah was born as the end of the story in the Gospels.

According to the Rambam, the entire subsequent history of humanity is filled by him, Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshua Hanotzri), as it was said: “Ultimately, all the deeds of Jesus of Nazareth and that Ishmaelite who arose after him will only serve to prepare the way for Mashiach's coming and the improvement of the entire world, motivating the nations to serve God together… How will this come about? The entire world has already become filled with the mention of Mashiach, Torah, and mitzvot”. (Rambam, Mishne Torah, Melachim uMilchamot ch.11)

“He who arose after him” is himself the result of the six-hundred-year evangelization of the world, the result of the religion spreading, whose own name is “the anointed one”. Thus, it is only thanks to him, Jesus (Yeshua), that “the entire world has already become filled with the mention of Mashiach”.

But how did it come to pass that for centuries Jesus (Yeshua) had to resign himself to playing the part of the main constrictor of his people’s freedom?! How could Esau’s Angel trick the righteous Jew? How did the Angel of Death manage to enter history as its leading inspiration?

Below, prior to proposing a possible literary version of this riddle, I will make a couple of disclaimers.

First disclaimer: this study reconstructs events in the context of the existing Jewish tradition and not empirical history, which of course it takes into account. My characters are juggling calculations that only started to appear two centuries later. I put sayings from tracts and midrash into their mouths, which appeared later than the events of the Gospel.

Of course, some oral equivalents of analogous reasoning did exist in Jesus’s time, but I am not trying to imitate them or camouflage the use of further removed sources. My goal is to correlate the stories of the Gospel with the Judaism that took centuries to come together and that endures to this day. My goal is to reconstruct an evangelical version that reveals inherently Jewish doctrinal possibilities and approaches.

Second disclaimer: harmonizing the Gospels can make one’s head spin. Haim Cohn, in his book The Trial and Death of Jesus (1968), notes the following regarding the differences between the synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John: “the discrepancies are many and multiple, and at times concern issues so fundamental that, at first glance, one might think that they spoke of totally different events and personalities. It looks as if Jesus in Mark were not the same person as Jesus 1n John: “They speak differently, act differently, die differently.”” (Haim Cohn, The Trial and Death of Jesus, pp. XIX-XX, Ktav Publishing House, New York, 1977)

Obviously, when it is impossible to reconcile the evangelists’ versions, we can only accept one of them. For a number of reasons, I prefer the synoptic version and do not take John’s Gospel into account (which is wholly different from the synoptic version down to the last detail).

This is particularly evident in the question of dating the events in the Gospels.

Pontius Pilate ruled from 26 to 36 AD, while John the Baptist, according to the Gospel of Luke, began his service in 28 AD. Thus, Jesus could only be crucified sometime between 30 and 36 AD.

All the Gospels agree that he was crucified on a Friday. However, according to the synoptics, the day fell on Passover – the 15th of Nisan. However, according to John, Passover eve fell on the 14th, i.e. the day when the sacrificial lambs were slaughtered.

Thus, according to John, Passover fell on a Saturday. According to the calendar, this could have occurred twice in the period that is of interest to us, in 33 and 36 AD. That is why it is customarily considered that Jesus was crucified in 33 AD. However, between 26 and 36 AD, Passover never fell on a Friday, making the synoptic version plainly improbable.

Meanwhile, it is important to remember that up until the 4th century AD the beginning of the month was not calculated, but visually observed. If witnesses did not observe the dawn of a new month on the expected evening, that day was considered the 30th day of the previous month, and accordingly, all the days of the next month were shifted by one. That is the reason why Jews outside of Israel, who could not be informed on which day the new month began, observed all the holidays over two days. According to the calendar, Passover fell on a Thursday only once during Pontius Pilate’s rule, in the year 30 AD, which means that that year it could well have been celebrated on a Friday.

Nevertheless, we should add that leap years were set empirically, and not according to any algorithm. In other words, instead of proclaiming the month of Nisan, as expected, the Sanhedrin could have proclaimed the beginning of Adar Bet. Thus, Passover would have been celebrated that year on the 15th of the month that today’s calendar would consider as Iyar. However, a corresponding investigation of the years in question has not yielded any additional theories.

***

In Its Time

“Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever… The least of them shall become a clan, and the smallest one a mighty nation; I am the Lord; in its time I will accomplish it quickly.” (Isaiah 60:21-22)

1

It was the year 3787 since the creation of the world, the 14th year of the reign of Tiberius, and the 2nd year of the rule of Pontius Pilate in Judea.

On that hot morning of the last Spring month of Iyar the citizens of Jerusalem did not recognize their city. It was transformed overight into a temple of idol worshippers. Caesar’s busts decorated every conspicuous spot in town! The legionnaires guarding the marble idols grinned, reading the horror and disgust in the eyes of the townspeople. (Josephus Flavius The Jewish War, Book 2, ch. 9:2-3)

Almost a century passed since Rome conquered the kingdom of Judah. Robbed and humiliated, it had been turned into a protectorate twenty years before, but at least the Jewish religious laws had not been trampled upon until now. This was the first time such a gross desecration of the Holy City had been committed.

The news immediately spread through the neighborhoods, and anxious villagers dropped everything and travelled to Jerusalem. Everyone flocked to the Temple Mount, where the elders, priests, and sages hotly debated what had happened.

At that moment, everyone pinned their hopes on the High Priest Caiaphas. Appointed by Pilate’s predecessor, Valerius Gratus, Caiaphas had, from Rome's point of view, been fulfilling his role as overseer of the people for several years. But now came the moment when the High Priest had a chance to accomplish something for his people as well. Not only did the appearance of the statues cause Caiaphas' own displeasure, but it also damaged his prestige. He could now present counterarguments to Pilate.

“I will go see the Governor in Caesarea”, he announced to the elders and the Pharisees gathered at the Hall of Hewn Stones. “But one of the elders or rabbis must come with me. The delegation must be respectable.”

At noon, an impressive group of priests and rabbis left Jerusalem. However, they were joined by more than a thousand townsfolk. On the way, many people joined the crowd.

On the third day, when the delegation neared Caesarea, it was accompanied by tens of thousands of people.

The crowd found refuge a few steps away from the residential palace, which the rabbis entered along with Caiaphas, their robes torn as a sign of mourning.

They existed fifteen minutes later, and the crowd learned that Pilate had refused to remove the idols. The High Priest's exhortations were in vain.

A rumble of indignation swept through the crowd. How could the heavens allow such desecration?! This was unacceptable. The people sat down on the ground, showing their resolve to stay and demand the order to remove the idols.

Pilate ignored the supplicants, but each day he noted with irritation that the crowd grew, and, by his estimation, now numbered more than one hundred thousand.

Finally, on the sixth day Pilate ordered everyone to come to the racetrack, where he intended to let everyone know his latest wishes.

The governor sat in the judge’s chair, set on a covered podium. Beside him were a legate, several servants, and officers. Of the Jewish delegation, only the High Priest was admitted. The elders and rabbis disappeared into the crowd.

When the crowd filled the stadium, Pilate arose and waved his hand. At this sign, the legionnaires emerged from the lower openings and stood in three rows to occupy the lower rows of the amphitheater. With their arms crossed over their chests and their feet shoulder-width apart, they looked resolute and menacing.

Seeing themselves surrounded, the Jews were dismayed and stood silently waiting to see what would happen.

“You will have to submit to my will and get used to the images of the Emperor in your city!”, roared the governor, and pausing for his words to be translated, and continued. “Get out of here. Anyone who’d like to ask and ask me for anything will be slaughtered on this very field.”

Pilate waved his hand once more, and at this sign a thousand swords instantly gleamed in the hands of his warriors.

The governor thought that the people would hurdle toward the one remaining gate, trampling one another, but something entirely different occurred. Everyone fell to the ground without a word, clearly showing that they were willing to have their necks cut by the swords.

There was a rumble over the crowd, in which a common cry clearly stood out.

“We would rather die!”

“They would rather die, hegemon”, explained Caiaphas, what Pilate had surely already understood.

He stared at the crowd at a loss for quite a while, then shook his head and ordered the legate:

“Send a messenger with an order to remove the statues.” Then he turned to Caiaphas and added, “You can announce my decision to your people.”

2

The jubilant crowd dispersed.

Two young men, who had spent several days in the crowd of petitioners, wandered into a small olive grove and crouched in the shade.

They were not going in the same direction: the priest from the order of Abijah, the monk Yohanan ben Zechariah was returning to the desert, to a cave located two walking hours away from Jericho; Rabbi Yeshua Ben Yoseph was on his way to Nazareth, back to making tables and studying the Torah.

They were relatives of a similar age. They wished to discuss what had happened before parting ways.

“It seems as if I have seen this before!”, said Yohanan. “Did you also have that feeling?”

“No… On the contrary, I was expecting much worse. I was surprised by Pilate’s concession.”

“But to me it feels like something I’ve already seen. The day is not far off when it will happen everywhere, as it is said in the book of Daniel: ‘a king of bold countenance shall arise… By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall be great. Without warning he shall destroy many and shall even rise up against the Prince of princes. But he shall be broken, and not by human hands.’ (Daniel 8:23-25) Did you hear? And not by human hands!”

“You still believe the day of Deliverance is near?”

“What can I say? The people of Israel have been exhausted by strife. Everyone thinks only of himself. Many teachers are immersed in the Law, but don’t seem to notice those for whom the Law is written. At the same time, the people are devoted to God. We’ve witnessed it. But what is superficial and what is the core? Sometimes I am at a loss for an answer. One thing I know for certain: when the time of Deliverance comes, it will look exactly as it did today, as it is said: “Five of you shall give chase to a hundred, and a hundred of you shall give chase to ten thousand; your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.” (Leviticus 26:8)

They will flee even those who are unarmed – armed with swords and carriages. Have you seen our people, have you noticed how the beast was shaken by them? Don’t you think that today’s victory is a sign?

“A sign from above?”, asked Yohanan, looking directly into his dear friend’s eyes.

They disagreed on the question of the Messiah.

“It is time to sow, but the time to reap is still far away”, Yeshua would usually answer when the subject came up. “We belong to the generation of sowers, not that of the reapers.”

Relying on a tradition stretching back to the prophet Elijah, he firmly believed that the time of Mashiach had not yet come, that the final deliverance when the nations “shall beat their swords into plowshares” and “the lion shall eat straw like the ox” would not come before the year 4000 from the creation of the world. (Isaiah 2:4 and 11:7)

But Yohanan disagreed. He spent a long time with the Hesychan hermits and spent some time with the “Yahad” community on the shores of the Dead Sea, where the Mashiah was expected since the days of the Hasmoneans.

At the time, Israel was still independent, but the world’s imperfections were letting themselves be known everywhere. The Righteousness Teacher, the founder of the community, would talk about the imminent arrival of the Messiah, who was to establish peace and order in the universe.

Outside the community, the Righteousness Teacher was not valued or understood by many. The High Priest, King Alexander Jannaeus persecuted him, while the head of the Sanhedrin, Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Perachia, was responsible for his exile.

“The Righteousness Teacher died the day Pompey was deified,” said Yohanan. “His entire life happened before the Roman conquest, but he still waited for the Messiah to save the whole world.”

“He deviated from the Torah in many ways. He even counted the feast days in his own way,” objected Yeshua. “How can we rely on the calculations of a man who lived by a calendar invented by mere mortals? You yourself know that it is still not time.”

“But didn’t the prophet predict that the day of deliverance could be accelerated? ‘The least of them shall become a clan, and the smallest one a mighty nation; I am the Lord; in its time I will accomplish it quickly’ (Isaiah 60:22). “The meaning of the phrase is well-known: if we are worthy, the Lord above will make Deliverance come sooner, and if we are not, it will come at the appointed time. Isn’t what you and I witnessed today a sign that we might be worthy? We are finally so close to the appointed time that the acceleration is bound to happen.”

“How many years are left until the year 4000? Roughly 200?”

“It is the year 3887, so we have 213 years left.”

“Not a negligeable chunk of time.”

“Deliverance is like a baby who should be born. A six-month-old foetus cannot survive, but a seven-month-old can. An eight-month-old babe is as viable as a nine-month-old. That is the same ratio as two hundred years to two thousand. We find ourselves in a period of calm and are naturally drawn to the light. We are living in “its time”, when Deliverance could come sooner than expected.”

Yohanan’s eyes lit up, but Yeshua shook his head in disbelief.

“Had you lived among people, and not around rocks and caves, you would have known that eight-month-old babes’ chances of survival are even worse than those of seven-month-olds’. We live in dangerous times. Alas, this fact is supported by much more serious arguments.”

Yeshua recalled the lesson he learned from the sages as a child. It happened a few months after the defeat of the rebellion lead by Judas of Galilee, who proclaimed himself as the Messiah.

Yeshua made the pilgrimage to the Temple on Passover with his parents and stayed there for a few days after the holiday to speak to the sages, among whom was Rabbi Gamliel, who died a few short months after their meeting. Everyone would talk about Judas of Galilee and his demise.

Yeshua witnessed the rebellion. He had a childish belief in the Galilee’s messianic message and wept for a long while when he learned of his crucifixion.

The sages were divided about this rebellion. The head of the Sanhedrin, Rabbi Gamliel, thought the reason behind it, the desire to avoid a census, was religiously sound. Therefore, his counting on the support of the heavens was justified.

Rabbi Tzadok disagreed. He saw in this revolt above all a revolt against taxes, against economic oppression.

“One can and should sacrifice one's life when the Torah is being desecrated, but it is better to endure one's own humiliation without complaint. When King Herod decorated the entrance to the Temple with a golden eagle and everyone was outraged, no one rushed to rebel. Only when Herod fell ill did Rabbi Yehuda ben Sepporei and Rabbi Matityahu ben Margal revolt...” (Josephus Flavius The Jewish War, Book 1, ch. 33:1-3)

“The census is not the only thing at stake here”, retorted Raban Gamliel. “Judea was deprived of its king, even if he was appointed by Rome. Judea had been turned into a protectorate. This too should have been resisted.”

“Let’s say you’re right”, replied Rabbi Tzadok. “But what made Judas dare proclaim himself as the Messiah? Has the time come?”

The sages looked into the matter.

It turned out that Judas considered that very time to be favorable for rebellion. 70 years passed since the day Pompey conquered Jerusalem and entered the Holy of Holies. That is exactly how long - 70 years - the Babylonian captivity lasted, a period of time predicted by the prophet Jeremiah: “This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” (Jeremiah 25:11)

Later, the prophet Daniel calculated when the 70-year countdown would begin and even indicated a mysterious time frame for the next, fourth, captivity. But Judas did not consult these calculations, and thoughtlessly concluded that if the Babylonian captivity had lasted 70 years, the Roman captivity might well be shaken after that time.

The sages chastised him for this mistake, and Rabbi Tzadok reminded him that according to Daniel's calculations, the Roman captivity would last longer than the Babylonian captivity, that the time of Mashiach was at least two centuries away, and that the Messianic sentiment awakening in the people was happening neither at the right time nor place.

“We learned from the Prophet Elijah”, reminded Rabbi Tzadok, “that the first two thousand years of history were under the sign of chaos, the next two thousand years would be under the sign of law, and only the last two thousand years belong to the time of Mashiach. The age of the law has not yet expired. The Deliverer cannot and will not come anytime soon.”

“Why then is it that we learn that the Lord wanted to make Hezekiah the Mashiach, and turn Sennacherib into Gog?”, suddenly objected Yeshua.

He was referring to the great miracle when Jerusalem was saved from imminent destruction over seven hundred years ago, in the year 3059, the 14th year of King Hezekiah's reign: “That very night the angel of the Lord set out and struck down one hundred eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians; when morning dawned, they were all dead bodies. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria left, went home, and lived at Nineveh.” (2 Kings 19:35)

On the other hand, this miracle repeated the Egyptian executions, and above all the selective deaths of the Egyptian firstborn, and on the other hand it foreshadowed the miracles of the coming Deliverance, the miracles of the coming war of Gog and Magog, of which the prophet said: “On that day, when Gog comes against the land of Israel, says the Lord God, my wrath shall be aroused… With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him; and I will pour down torrential rains and hailstones, fire and sulfur, upon him and his troops and the many peoples that are with him. So I will display my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.”(Ezekiel 38:18-23)

“And do you know why Hezekiah never became the Mashiach?”, asked Rabbi Tzadok, looking curiously at Yeshua.

“Yes”, replied Yeshua. “Because of ‘midat hadin’, the court objected: oh peaceful Lord! How can it be so? David, the king of Israel, sang your praises many a time, but you did not make him the Mashiach. While Hezekiah, for whom you performed such a miracle and who did not sing, you will make the Mashiach? That was the end of it.”

“Wonderful. So, what are you asking?”

“But this story teaches us that not only could He have made Hezekiah, but even David could have been made the Mashiach. Thus, the reign of Mashiach could have begun even a thousand years before the deadline!”

The sages looked at each other in surprise. Raban Gamliel patted Yeshua on the shoulder, and smilingly asked:

“Tell me something. You come from the House of David. You could be the Mashiach. But don’t you need to grow up first?”

“Perhaps”, agreed Yeshua.

“Look, a thousand years ago the world had not reached the age where it could have accepted the Mashiach… Like a child who would like to be king, but is too young to rule, so the Mashiach could have arrived a thousand years ago, but he could not have reigned. Both you and world will have to grow up little bit more!”

Yeshua began to wonder. At present, he was twelve years old. In a year, at thirteen, he will have to observe all the commandments like an adult, but he would never dare rule over a kingdom, even after becoming a “bar mitzvah”.

Yeshua presented Yohanan with Rabbi Tzadok’s old argument.

But Yohanan was unmoved.

“But that’s the same old parable!”, he objected. “One becomes an adult at 20, but even at 16, and certainly at 18, one can deal with adult tasks. Early youth is that same “be’ita achishena”, that “time” when everything is accelerated and runs toward its calling. Have you noticed that teenagers made up half of the crowd that was ready to die today?”

“How could you not notice.”

“And if another teenager, who had just turned 16, could handle the task of a twenty-year-old, then imagine what an eighteen-year-old could do! For we are talking about the same ration: two centuries missing from the completion of the two thousand years of the Torah are akin to two years missing from a youth’s twentieth birthday! Believe me, today the world is old enough to submit to the Heavenly Kingdom. One can feel it in everyone’s expectation. If the Mashiach comes at this time, even if it is a bit early, his mission will be welcomed by all! That is why it is said “be’ita achishena” –“ in its time I will accomplish it quickly”!

“You are looking at the healthy side that is able to take on the honour of deliverance, but there is also another side, the sick one. Our people are too divided, their teachers are too preoccupied with their status. True, our generation does not let the blood of its brethren, but too many of them hate one another.”

“You are right about that. Repentance must pre-empt deliverance.”

3

A year and a half went by. It was the fourth year of Pontius Pilate’s rule over Judea, the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar’s rule. It was Fall, the 3789th year since God created the world.

Soon after his return to Nazareth from his pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Yeshua heard some unexpected news: in the upper reaches of the Jordan, before the place where it flowed into the Sea of Galilee, a priest from the division of Abijah, the nazir and the hermit Yohanan ben Zechariah gathered people and called on them to repent, washing the repentant in the river.

Yeshua rushed to the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee and indeed, not far from Kfar Nahum, he found his relative preaching repentance and immersing the repentant in the waters of the river. Yohanan looked both elated and anxious at the same time.

“What prompted you to make this sermon?”, asked Yeshua. “What happened?”

“The truth is easier to come by in the desert rather than the city”, answered Yohanan. “It was revealed to me that the people of Israel will be shaken to their core. The axe is already at the root of the tree, but prayer and repentance can prevent disaster. I decided to start from the Galilee and then go down along the Jordan river to Jericho, so that as many people as possible would hear God’s Word.”

Then, looking intently into Yeshua's eyes, Yohanan added, “I especially want him to hear me...”

“Him? Who is he?”

“The son from the House of David. You and I debated whether the Mashiach could arrive two centuries earlier than expected. Now we no longer have a choice. He must arrive. Repentance and prayer are necessary, but in fact, only the premature arrival of the Deliverer could prevent a catastrophe.”

Yeshua was stunned. He had never seen his friend so tense, so genuinely anxious.

“Have you had a vision?”

“Yes.”

“We cannot fully trust visions. Voices and spirits can be deceptive.”

“But not Elijah. For he is made of flesh.”

That was not the first time the prophet Elijah had visited Yohanan ben Zechariah.

Ten years earlier, while walking with Yeshua near the Jordan river, he looked back and asked:

“Are you familiar with this place?”

“No, I’m not.”

“Let me tell you about it. It is the very spot where the prophet Elijah was raptured and transported alive to Heaven, as it is said: “As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.” (2 Kings 2:11-12).

“How would you know?”, asked Yeshua, amazed.

“He told me so himself. He appeared to me here and told me.”

And now the prophet Elijah visited Yohanan once again and told him of the coming destruction of the Temple and the expulsion of the people from the Land.

“I had come to pray in the place where he was raptured,” said Yohanan, “and he came to me again. He said the axe already rests at the root of the tree.”

“Light was preceded by Chaos,” explained Elijah. The eternal Temple can only be erected on the ruins of the temporary one. (Maharal “Netzah Israel” ch.26)

“But this has already come to pass!”, I objected. “Today’s Temple sits on the ruins of the old one!”

And then he told me that the prophecy concerning the destruction of the first Temple also included the second! He repeated the words the Lord said to King Solomon: “I have consecrated this house that you have built, and put my name there forever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time… If you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut Israel off from the land that I have given them; and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight… This house will become a heap of ruins.” (1 Kings 9:3-8).

“It says ‘if’. So perhaps the verdict could be overturned? I asked Elijah.”

“Repentance, prayer, and charity could overturn any verdict. There is no verdict, however, that would overturn this great truth. As He, the Rock of Israel, himself has said, “I own the man. And who owns me? The righteous man.” (Tanna Divrei Eliyahu 2:7)

(“The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me, He that rules over men must be righteous, ruling in the fear of God” (II Samuel 23:3). What is this verse saying? What does it mean? Rabbi Abbahu said: This is what the verse is saying: The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me: Although I rule over man, who rules over Me? It is a righteous person. How is it possible to say that a righteous person rules over God, as it were? As I, God, issue a decree and the righteous person nullifies it.” (Moed Kattan 16b)

(“The Holy One, blessed be He, possesses the man, but the Most Holy One is possessed the righteous. For He makes the decision, but the righteous reverses it.” (Zohar 2.15a)

“You were taught that world would last for six thousand years: two thousand years of chaos, two thousand years of the Torah, and two thousand years of the Mashiach. There are 210 years left until the Mashiach’s time. Could we perhaps hasten the deliverance?”

“It is well known that if every single one of the people of Israel observes two sabbaths in a row, deliverance would immediately come. (Shabbat 118b) Still, the verdict has already been pronounced.”

“The verdict has been announced, repeated Yohanan looking Yeshua straight in the eyes. “The axe is at the root of the tree.”

A few days later, an anxious Yeshua set out for Jerusalem. He needed to hear the opinions of the sages and share his concerns with Rabbi Tzadok.

On the way, at an inn at Jericho, Yeshua received news of an unprecedented crime that had been committed the day before.

The time has come to clean the ashes from the Temple’s altar. Two priests volunteered to fulfill this commandment and ran to the brass altar. And then it happened: the priest who came second was so frustrated that he struck the one who had reached the altar first with the sacrificial knife.

Everyone froze in confusion, and Rabbi Tzadok, who was participating in the service, rushed to the stricken man. When he saw him lying motionless with a blade thrust into his back, he cried out bitterly:

“Our quarrels have already approached the very horns of the altar! We love the commandments, but we hate one another!”

The horror and bitterness that seized Rabbi Tzadok overcame all those who were present. Even the people in the courtyard were horrified and wept.

And then suddenly, despite all the feelings of remorse and guided by the same blind force that had just led to the bloodshed, the father of the murdered priest approached the body of his son and instead of sobbing over him... exclaimed with relief:

“Brothers, we should not worry! There is not need for a redemptive sacrifice! For my son is still in agony, which means that the knife in the wound has not been tainted!”

He swiftly removed the sacrificial instrument from his son's body, whereupon the son shuddered and took his last breath. (Yoma 23a)

Upon arriving in Jerusalem, the first thing Yeshua did was try and find Rabbi Tzadok. He found him in the Hall of the Hewn Stones, reviewing the court record.

“Have you heard about what happened here?” asked the priest.

“Yes.”

“We not longer see one another behind the commandments… What happened is a grave sign of our trouble. Our internal strife brought the Romans to us, who stand as an insurmountable obstacle to our deliverance from foreign oppression… I must confess, Yeshua, that I am seized by the heaviest of premonitions. The prophets tell us that the Temple was destroyed by three sins committed by our forefathers: idol worship, bloodshed, and fornication. We seem to have repented. Those old sins have become rare. The murder that took place in the Temple was only a reminder of the atrocities of the past. But it revealed the spirit of rivalry that now prevails, and the latent hatred that I sometimes think is even worse than the three obvious sins.”

“Yohanan ben Zechariah told me that the House of God will be destroyed, and the people will be banished.”

“I fear that too…,” sighed Rabbi Tzadok and pensively added, “But fasting and prayer could annul the verdict… A righteous man could annul the verdict.”

***

Yeshua stayed in Jerusalem. Where else would one pray to God to have his sentence reversed, if not on the Holy Mountain?

“When your people Israel, having sinned against you, are defeated before an enemy but turn again to you, confess your name, pray and plead with you in this house, 34then hear in heaven, forgive the sin of your people Israel, and bring them again to the land that you gave to their ancestors,” Yeshua repeated Solomon’s prayer. (1 Kings 8:33-34)

Day by day Yeshua grew more and more hopeful. Israel's union with God was an indestructible union. The Shechina and Israel are equal allies. The prophet Elijah was right: if God owns man, then the righteous man owns God! And Rabbi Tzadok was right! God passes judgment, and the Righteous One overturns it! (Moed Kattan 16b)

Chanukkah came and went. News travelled to Jerusalem that Yohanan ben Zechariah had almost reached the Dead Sea and was preaching about redemption near Jericho.

Yeshua was uncontrollably drawn to his friend, infected more and more by his faith each passing day.

Who knows, perhaps Yohanan was right. Perhaps the early appearance of the Deliverer is just the thing to undo the terrible verdict? “In its time I will accomplish it quickly,” said the Lord. Isn't that time just around the corner? A time when Israel will “possess the land”, a time when “the least of them shall become a clan, and the smallest one a mighty nation”?

What have we got to lose? In the worst case, the rebellious Mashiach will die, as Judas of Galilee did, but what if he emerges victorious? What if he gets help from above? As it is said, “Five of you shall give chase to a hundred, and a hundred of you shall give chase to ten thousand.” (Leviticus 26:8)

It’s certainly worth a try… When all’s said and done, he, Yeshua, is a descendant of the House of David.

4

A few days later, Yeshua went down to the Jordan river and easily found Yohanan at the spot where the children of Israel had crossed it when it was dry.

“I prayed hard after our last meeting”, said Yeshua after the two friends exchanged greetings. “You’re right. We have no hope but for a pre-emptive Deliverance. Whether the people are ready or not, this attempt makes no difference, it must be made. Wash me, as a sign of repentance, as you wash the others.”

“I’m glad you’ve come to this decision. After all, you are a son of David, and I admit that I was counting on you. What’s more, I’ll admit that before, before your decision, I didn’t want to rush and tell you this. You are not aware of your own gifts, which are exceptional. Trust me: it is not I who must immerse you, but you who must immerse me as a sign of purification!”

“Don’t say that. It was first revealed to you that the “time”, the time of possible accelerated deliverance, is near. You have been called to initiate me into service.”

“So be it…”, agreed Yohanan. He raised his hand, placed it on Yeshua’s head, gathered himself in a prayerful rush, and submerged him underwater.

Yeshua went under, and when he arose, suddenly, right in front of his face, he felt a flap of wings that splashed his face. When Yeshua looked up, he saw a white dove, and heard a divine voice coming from heaven that sounded like distant peals of thunder:

“Here is My beloved son who will fulfill My will.”

Yeshua shuddered, emerged from the water, and crouched down on a rock, trying to absorb what had happened.

An hour later, when it got darker and the people who remained near the Jordan started to sit by the fire and prepare to sleep, Yohanan beckoned Yeshua to come sit by his fire.

“I have an important piece of news for you, my brother”, whispered Yohanan, “when you were submerged, I saw the Holy Spirit, which descended upon you in the form of a dove. I also heard a voice from the heavens that said, “Here is My beloved Son.”

“I also saw the dove and heard the voice from the heavens,” anxiously confided Yeshua.

“What are you going to do?”

“I would like to retreat to the desert to understand, in solitude, what is the task before me…”

5

Early the next morning, Yeshua left the Jordan River and headed for the mountain range above Jericho.

He went deep into one of the gorges, and in search of a suitable place he climbed almost to the top of one of the rocks. Here he found a cave that overlooked the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, and the towering mountains of Moab and Edom.

He alternated reading the holy books from memory with prayer, and prayer with reflection.

“Repentance is necessary, so are fasting and prayer, but these alone are not enough. The kingdom of heaven can only be taken by force. To invoke deliverance, to take the leap, is the only means by which to avoid disaster. We have nothing to lose but our lives; lives that are already doomed!

He who asks receives, he who seeks finds, he who advances wins. Any king with ten thousand, seeing that he cannot resist another king coming at him with twenty thousand, sends an embassy to ask for peace. However, if he realizes that there will be no peace, he has no choice but to attack the enemy first! The attacker has an advantage. He who defends himself well against the enemy is the one who goes out to meet him and attacks him himself, even with small forces! And God bestows victory upon him. “The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength… He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might does one prevail. (1 Samuel 2:4-9) With two swords, Jonathan, the son of Saul, and his squire defeated the Philistine army. (1 Samuel 13:19-14:14). True, I have no fighting skills, but when I submerged in the Jordan I connected with the Father, who is the only one who can bestow victory.

The battle will be fought on the Mount of Olives, as the prophet said: “Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee by the valley of the Lord’s mountain, for the valley between the mountains shall reach to Azal… Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him… And the Lord will become king over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be one and his name one. This shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem…” (Zechariah 14:3-21)

“The believer can accomplish anything”, thought Yeshua. “Faith can move mountains. It bursts out from below and makes its way to the top, as it is said: “Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.” (Psalms 85:14)

But all efforts from below are in vain if there is no blessing from above, if the "appointed time" has not come. In order to be sure that it has really come, one must receive a sign from above! Yohanan received it, but I have not!

6

The days went by. It would have been easy to lose count without the moon rising over the valley each evening. It kept track of the days. When Yeshua went up into the mountains, the month was only a few days old. Since then, it had faded away, was born again, and was already approaching its fullness.

It was the 39th day of his retreat when Yeshua noticed a column of Romans coming from Jericho far down in the valley. It was heading East, toward the Jordan River.

He was gripped by anxiety. Were they following Yohanan? He crouched at the entrance of the cave and dozed off before he knew it.

When Yeshua awoke, the sun had set and the bright, almost full moon was rising over the valley. Suddenly, Yeshua felt an acute sense of hunger.

At that moment, the air suddenly shook, and an Angel appeared before him. He looked terrifying, with his entire exposed body covered in eyes.

Yeshua trembled. Undoubtedly, it was the Angel of Death. So, his hour had come, so his heavenly Father was suddenly calling him back Home!

“No, Yeshua, it is not what you think!”, laughing with all his eyes said the Angel. “Sometimes I appear for another reason.”

“Is that so! I must admit, I was expecting another messenger, the Prophet Elijah.”

“You seem disappointed.”

“More like surprised.”

“Don’t be. I do not only bring death, but life; I do not only destroy worlds, but also create them.”

“It seemed to me that the ruling of the world was not entrusted to you, but to the supreme Angel, the Angel in whom the name of the Lord is imprinted, the Angel of Divine countenance, Metatron. He is the Prince of the world.”

(“It is said, ‘I am going to send an angel in front of you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Be attentive to him and listen to his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him.’ (Exodus 23:20)

Rashi commented the quote above “for my name is in him” thus: “Our sages have said that this is the angel Metatron, whose name is like the Name of his Master, in that the numerical value of Metatron (314) equals that of the Lord. (“shin”+ “dalet” + “yud”).”

“True. But we are one and the same. It is customary to see us as two separate angels. But that would be short-sighted. By concentrating on the fact that the Lord’s 72-long character name is captured in me, many lose sight of the fact that first and foremost I stand for two short and clear Names: God and Lord. The first of these reflects judgement, and the second, compassion. The words, “The Lord is our God, the Lord alone” (Deuteronomy 6:4), apply to me too. Remember: As “The Lord is our God”, so is the Prince of the world, Metatron, the Angel of death! It is Moses staff turning into a snake; it is Good and Evil, climbing the same tree of knowledge.”

“At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near… Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt-offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, ‘The Lord indeed is God; the Lord indeed is God.’” (1 Kings 18:39)

“The Holy One, blessed be He, comes down to rule over the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, whose side is good is Metatron and whose evil side is Samael, the Angel of Death, the prince of demons.” (Zohar Devarim Ki Tetze p.490)

“Moshe's staff is Metatron: from him comes life and from him comes death. When he transforms into a staff, he is a Helper, working for good, but when he transforms into a serpent, he is the Adversary, and Moshe flees from him” (Zohar Bereshit 1 p.158)

“I’ve never heard of it.”

“It’s not surprising. I do not reveal myself to many people.”

“But for some reason you chose to present yourself to me as the image of Death rather than Life.”

“You are embarking on a risky venture, Yeshua, and you need to be slightly cooled down. Had I appeared to you in my radiant form, no matter what you heard from me, you would have concluded that your plan was fully approved. I have not come to support you, but to warn you, and I must look the part.”

“Warn me? Of what? I am quite aware of the degree of danger. Faith maneuvers among the dangers, like a fish in a river. Has Father blessed me? That is all that matters.”

“Believe me, it is not so. The world is at a crossroads. At times it seems to me the He himself has trouble deciding the turn of events.”

“That can only mean that He awaits a person’s initiative, a sign from psalm, as it is said, “Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.” (Psalms 85:14)

“Right, right. You here in your solitude have come to the conclusion that all things are possible to the believer, and you have set out to split the Mount of Olives. But isn't it better to be sure of your abilities beforehand? Is it wise to undertake a great undertaking without first undertaking a smaller one? Try your strength on the rocks here.”

Yeshua was shocked. Those were his exact thoughts! When he woke up a few days ago, he felt a rush of power he had never known before. Ever since then, Yeshua wondered if it would please the Creator if he tested them unnecessarily.

“Or, why don’t you turn these rocks into bread?”, suggested the Angel. “I can see that you’re hungry.”

This unexpected suggestion was also self-evident. Yeshua had not taken a vow to abstain from food; he could resume eating whenever he wanted. What was stopping him from testing his newly discovered powers? He was hungry. Was it not a good enough reason to test his miraculous powers?

Perhaps he would have done so after a prayerful talk with the Father, but the angel's suggestion embarrassed him.

Yeshua faced the strongest angel, who was closest to the Throne of Glory. In him was sealed the very name of the Lord, and in his day he had been called to participate in the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt.

“I am going to send an angel in front of you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Be attentive to him and listen to his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him.” (Exodus 23:20-21)

However, when Moses realized that it was not God who would guide the sons of Israel to the promised land, but the Angel, he rebelled “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here.”

And he said to him, ‘If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favour in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.’” (Exodus 33:15)

History was repeating itself.

Yeshua became suspicious. The Angel was elaborating on his own thoughts, but it was as if he was hiding the Creator's will, if he knew anything about it at all.

“Why did you appear before me? Did He send you?”

“Why does it matter? I came to warn you. He knows I’m here.”

“That’s not surprising, He is everywhere.”

Thus, the Prince of the World was not a messenger, and therefore a seducer. This Angel has not come to warn him, but to lead him astray!

No, he, Yeshua, does not want to hear even the most righteous teachings from the mouth of this spirit. He does not need his advice.

“It is written”, replied Yeshua, “that man does not live by bread alone, but by God’s word.”

“But have you yourself not received a command from the mouth of God to bring about deliverance, although by all indications you should expect its opposite?”

“Did not Nachshon Aminadav receive a command from God?” Nachshon entered the Red Sea, and when the water reached up to his neck the sea parted. Yes, when “Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky”. We humans entrust our talents to merchants, we multiply what is entrusted to us, we are free, we renew the worlds, but you angels only do what He has entrusted to you without multiplying anything. Instead of giving me advice, tell me what he has entrusted to me, if you know what it is.”

“You contradict yourself by assuming I cannot act without his instructions,” retorted the Angel. “I like making my own decisions. True, unlike humans, I am not a slave to questions like ‘who am I really’, or ‘do I really exist’. Moreover, I am part of His Council and recommended against your creation, though I must admit working with you can be interesting…”

Yeshua turned away. He was nauseous and needed to lay down. But the Angel of Death would not let him be. Quick as the wind he flew over Yeshua, took him under his wing and carried him over to Jerusalem, landing on top of one of the Temple’s wings.

“Here is your chance to prove yourself right, to prove that you are free, that you are the Son of God, and we are but his angel servants. If you are right, and you are the Son of God, leap off the Temple, for it is written “For he will command his angels concerning you… On their hands they will bear you up.” (Psalms 91)”

“I do not need proof of human superiority over angels”, said Yeshua.

“How do you not understand that I could have already challenged you there, on the edge of the abyss, but instead chose to bring you here. Look at what I really wanted to show you.”

At that moment, like a flash of lightning, Yeshua saw the Sanctuary in flames and the courtyard filled with corpses.

“These are the first sketches of the painting commissioned by the Maker. I will complete it in time. You cannot overturn the verdict.”

“We will see about that…”, muttered Yeshua, startled by the vision. The next thing he knew, he was sitting at the entrance to the cave again, with the Angel sitting across from him.

“Yeshua, there is no use for you to try to belittle our angelic race”, he continued as if nothing had happened. “We are not that insignificant. May I remind you, that it is not only in my power to one day take your soul. I engage in something similar every day when I bring about your sleep. Can you really resist it? You cannot control your dreams or your behaviour in them. But you can hardly control yourself even when you are awake. There are times when a righteous man who is worthy to stand before the Creator submits his will to mine.”

Yeshua reluctantly recalled a conversation he had had with Yohanan a long time ago.

“We learn in “Yachad””, said Yohanan, “that when Enoch ascended Heaven alive he turned into the Prince of the World, became one with him.”

It is said “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him.” (Genesis 5:24)” “Took” from this world of humans. Enoch ascended little by little up until the point when he turned into the great and powerful Metatron, the Prince of Presence, in whose presence the low and the high tremble, both the servants and their masters” Zoar Chadash. Ruth

“Rabbi Ishmael said: I asked Metatron and said to him: why are you named after the name of your Creator (by seventy names)? You are greater than all princes, more exalted than all angels, more beloved than all servants, in greater honor than all armies, exalted above all lords in power, majesty, and glory; Why, then, do they call you 'The Lad' in the heavenly heights?" He replied: “Because I am Enoch, the son of Yared. When the generation of the Flood began to sin and turned to evil deeds, they said to God: “Leave us alone! We do not desire to know your ways. (Job 21:14)” The Holy One, blessed be He, took me from their midst,-to be a witness against them, being up high, to all who come into the world, that they may not say, "The merciful one is cruel!" (The Book of Enoch 4:1-2)

“Another assertion by your friends that’s impossible and quite possibly untrue”, objected Yeshua. “I hope you won’t say the same about the Prophet Elijah, though he was also ascended alive to the heavens. The sons of humanity are free, Gods Angels aren’t. A person cannot become an angel just as he cannot become a dog.”

“I would agree,” objected Yohanan, “had I not seen these people.”

“What people?”

“Enoch’s followers. Two people from the Yahad community have been given the honor of approaching the heavenly Chariot. At the moment they look completely detached. Their faces light up and become majestic, like the faces of the dead. It seems that they and the Angel of Death are one. And then, we are told, they transformed into Metatron like Enoch was.”

“The Book of Enoch” recounts a story told by the patriarch to Rabbi Ishmael about his metamorphosis into the angel Metatron, accompanied by the metamorphosis of his flesh into “burning torches”. In “Greater Palaces” it is said that every mystic must go through such a metamorphosis, though, if they are not as worthy as Enoch, they may burn. This passage through the initial stage of the mystical transformation process is an unavoidable necessity. Another fragment states that the mystic must stand upright "without arms or legs," for those have burned off. "This standing without feet in the bottomlessness of space is also mentioned in other sources as a typical experience of many ecstatics; in particular, a description of a similar stage is given in the Apocalypse of Abraham.” (Gershom Sholem “Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism”, Volume 1, “Aliya Library” 1989, p.83)

Yeshua remembered the conversation and asked the Angel with surprise:

“Do you believe you can subjugate human will? Are you abolishing freedom? That's impossible!”

“You’re right, I cannot deprive a person of their freedom, but the spiritualists who attain the vision of the Chariot give themselves to me for this great purpose, and they do so of their own free will.”

“Is that so?”, Yeshua was reassured by the Angel’s answer.

“Yes. But there are things I can do without asking your permission…”

At that moment, everything shook and floated like a river. Mount Esau, which sat on the other side of the ridge, Mount Seir, and after it, the whole world flowed into Yeshua's body as if it were swirling in some gigantic vortex, and he felt connected to the whole universe, felt himself part of everything, and everything was part of himself. He felt one with all living things, with all the cities, mountains, seas, and even the stars and constellations. And in that very moment Yeshua saw all the kingdoms of the world.

“All this belongs to me”, sounded the Angel’s voice somewhere offside. “Can you feel my power? Do you feel one with me? Can you feel me sharing my power with you? But you are right, it is still in your power to either accept or reject it.”

“And I will, as you may have already guessed, reject it. I do not wish to offend you. The power you wield was given to you by God. But when I need anything, I will ask Him, not you. And, of course, I will accept everything the Heavenly Father will send my way, be it glory or scorn.”

“I’d say scorn is more likely.”

“Why?”

“I don’t feel comfortable answering that question. You yourself explored it as a child… You were smarter then and agreed that Hezekiah could not become the Mashiach!”

“And yet, there is a time for everything, a time set by Him, when deliverance could be accelerated!”

“It is not enough to determine the appropriate time. Early deliverance must also be earned. This depends on the state of the people of Israel, who leave much to be desired... Do the sure thing. If you follow the teachings of the sages in this matter, as you have done in the past, you will remain in the memory of the children of Israel as one of them. The name of Rabbi Yehoshua bar Yosef will be on everyone's lips. You are destined for a greatness; do not give your destiny away.”

“Whether or not I am remembered is of no concern to me, but I am not ready to give up the attempt to hasten deliverance, once I am convinced that it is indeed possible, that the "appointed time" is approaching. I may not really bring deliverance, I may not take the Kingdom of Heaven by force, I may perish. But is that a reason not to try? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego asked King Nebuchadnezzar: “If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.’”(Daniel 3) And so, even if I should die, I will not follow your advice.”

“But, what if you're in danger of more than just death?”

“What other danger could there be?”

“The ruin of your good name, for example. Believe me, if it is not your Father's will that the mountain should split, all your power will go to the nations, and the truth of your words will be enclosed in vessels of falsehood, so that the people of Israel will be persecuted by your name until the end of time.”

“How can that be?”

“As Jacob represents God on earth, so I represent his brother Esau in heaven. One day we clashed. Jacob defeated me and I named him Israel. Should this battle recur at the “appointed time” because of your whim, the name will go to Esau as his trophy, If I win. You will become a hero for the Romans, but your own people will be ashamed of you... Are you ready for that?”

“I do not believe your threats. It’s true, I may not prevail, I may not move the mountain… But you can't build a false doctrine on that, just as you couldn't build one on the deaths of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.”

“So you’ve said.”

“He who is forthright and honest before God need not fear your threats.”

“You can’t even imagine how much I like your conviction.”

“Probably as much as I like your pure heartedness…”

“You must really underestimate it. It's very inconvenient for you, but very helpful for me. Because if you take this mission seriously, you'll open up amazing possibilities for me. I'll turn your story into something amazing.”

“Whatever you may say, the truth will reveal itself.”

“Well, that could happen years from now! But for now I intend to amuse myself. So, do we have a deal?”, the Angel winked with the right side of the eyes covering his body.

“I have not made any deals with you.”

“That won’t matter. My warning will suffice. If you climb the Mount of Olives at the appointed hour and it does not split, you have no one but yourself to blame. Until the actual, not the “accelerated”, but the "appointed” time arrives, you will be with me.”

“Without my consent? I can’t believe that. You yourself have said that it is not possible.”

As soon as Yeshua uttered these words, the Angel disappeared.

7

The next morning Yeshua went down to the valley. The column of legionnaires that he had seen the day before yesterday near the Jordan river might have appeared there for the specific purpose of suppressing Yohanan's preaching, which had alarmed the tetrarch Herod Antipas.

Indeed, when Yeshua arrived at the Jordan, there was no one there. "Perhaps Yohanan had gone upriver," Yeshua thought, and when he got back out on the road, he headed north.

However, half an hour later he met a group of people who told him that the day before Yohanan had been arrested and sent to the Machaerus fortress on the slopes of the Edom Mountains.

Yeshua immediately turned toward the fortress and reached his destination four hours later. Once there, he was immediately convinced that he would not be able to see his friend. Several of Yohanan's disciples, who had settled in a cave not far from the fortress, told him that they had been categorically refused an appointment. After spending the night with them in their cave, Yeshua left for Galilee the next morning.

On the way to Nazareth, he would stop by the villages scattered along the way, teaching in the houses of prayer of the approaching Kingdom of heaven and urging everyone to repent.

“Renounce the spirit of rivalry, cast out gratuitous hatred from your hearts, love those who hate you, and the idol worshippers will leave the Holy Land on their own accord!”

He would be immediately surrounded by a crowd. After his immersion in the Jordan and the forty days he spent in the wilderness, Yeshua spoke with such authority that even he was surprised by his new tone, capturing people’s attention and instilling faith in them.

He was not made to feel welcome in his native town of Nazareth, but in the coastal town of Kfar Nahum, Yeshua was the subject of widespread interest.

A merchant offered Yeshua a house, which he had used for his trading business and that now stood empty.

People from neighboring villages began to flock to the local synagogue to hear Yeshua preach, and soon he discovered he had the gift of healing. People miraculously recovered from the most grievous of diseases.

Within two or three weeks, a group of devotees had formed around Yeshua, and his fame as a miracle worker and healer spread with lightning speed throughout the country.

The number of disciples began to grow, and that is when Yeshua decided to choose the best ones to whom he would try to impart his miracle making gifts and reveal his secret plans. They would become the commanders of the angelic legions that the Father would send him at the appointed hour.

After spending the night in prayer, Yeshua gathered his disciples the next morning. Among them were militant men who had taken part in riots and who knew how to wield weapons. But mostly they were peaceful fishermen and peasants. Yeshua believed it was more important to bring out the gift of prayer and healing in them than that of fighting.

He believed that repentance lay at the heart of everything - a total commitment to the heavenly Father, a total surrender of oneself to Him. Repentance, meanwhile, entailed healing, since all sickness is the result of sin, and in the more distant future repentance would also entail deliverance – the defeat of the Romans, the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven, which is nothing less than the healing of the holy people.

“Remember what God told Gideon”, said Yeshua to his disciples, “‘The troops with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand. Israel would only take the credit away from me, saying, “My own hand has delivered me.” And God selected three hundred men, and they selected three hundred! And they banished the enemy who was “as thick as locusts.”” (Judges 7).

To drive out the Romans, our army must not supported be great numbers, but by great faith. The day will come, and it is not far off, when our heavenly Father will deliver His earth from the hands of the idolaters. If He wills, He will do it by the hand of seventy; if He wills, He will do it by the hand of twelve, or even by the hand of two, as he did during the battle of Muhmas. Today, as a sign of this, I give you power over unclean spirits, and the power to heal ailments. So do not go into the villages of the pagans or the Samaritans. Go first to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Preach to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is within reach. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons; that what you have freely received, you may freely give.”

8

At the end of the month of Elul, when the penitential prayers of selihot were recited everywhere at the approach of the New Year, news came that Herod had beheaded Yohanan ben Zechariah.

The next morning Yeshua and his disciples traveled to a deserted location near the town of Beit-Zaid.

“I will return after midday,” Yeshua told his disciples, climbed the nearest hill, and began praying and ruminating about what had happened.

He who had inspired Yeshua to serve was no more. Not so long ago Yohanan sent down his students for he wanted to find out how far along Yeshua was in his service.

“Tell your teacher what you saw here and tell him that I am firm in my decision,” answered Yeshua. “Blessed is he who will not be seduced by me!”

At that moment he believed he would triumph, believed he would liberate his friend. And now Yohanan has been beheaded. What fate awaits Yeshua himself? Is he really as steadfast, is he truly on the right path?

Yeshua continued to pray intently as he suddenly felt the air around him shift, and in the next moment the Angel of Death appeared before him.

“I’m afraid that is so, Rabbi Yeshua,” uttered the Angel. “The same fate awaits you.”

“You keep repeating yourself,” shrugged Yeshua. “I told you before, I am not afraid to die a martyr’s death.”

“Nevertheless, I can see you’re hesitating, and I just couldn't let the opportunity pass by.”

“You just couldn’t? Where does your incredible concern for me come from?”, smirked Yeshua. “Why do you care if the next time you see me is not to have a friendly conversation but to take my soul?”

“It all depends on when I will have to take it: in a few decades, the exact number of which I cannot say, as I am sure you understand, or in six months, which you have designated for yourself.”

“It may matter to me, but what difference does it make to you?”

“The difference is huge. In the one case you will go into the world to come with your teachings, in the other, you will go with teachings colored by my amendments.”

“But if you’re interested in me dying six months from now, then why are you trying to dissuade me from doing so?”

“If I will be the one to push you towards this resolution, it’ll simply result in another blip soon to be forgotten by humanity. The decision should be yours alone. Only in that case will I get my hands on truly invaluable matter. As you can see, I must be completely honest with you.”

“Completely honest? Then tell me, can my faith alone split the mount?”

The Angel’s innumerable eyes gazed as one at Yeshua.

“It can split! The stakes are that high. The stakes are high, but your chances can’t match them.”

“So, the only reason you revealed yourself to me was to tell me you had a stake in the matter?”

“Naturally. You should know what you’re facing. If the mountain stands, if Rome should win, all your powers will go to him. The decision is yours.”

Despite himself, Yeshua remembered his recent words to Yohanan’s disciples: “Blessed is he who will not be seduced by me!” And thus, the vow had been made. A vow that couldn't be undone, even if he wanted to!

Suddenly a gust of wind tore through the air and the Angel of Death disappeared.

“Oh Father!”, appealed Yeshua. “I belong to You only and if I die in the service of Your Name, how could I ever desecrate it? Father! I trust you only and not the words of an Angel You did not send!”

9

Meanwhile, the people who had seen their Teacher's boat walked along the shoreline to find him. When Yeshua noticed them, he came down from the mountain to meet them, while they cheered him on enthusiastically. Time passed quickly while he told parables and healed the sick. At one time his disciples approached Yeshua, and Shimon-Keipa said:

“Rabbi, it’ll get dark in an hour or so, isn’t it time to tell people to go home? They hadn’t eaten anything all day.”

When he first appeared, the Angel of Death urged Yeshua to turn stones into bread so that he could feed himself. He rejected the temptation at the time. But today the Angel was silent, and Yeshua felt empowered to miraculously feed others.

Seeing the faith of thousands of people who, not caring about food, not caring about tomorrow, having traveled a long way just to hear him speak, to be healed of bodily and spiritual ailments, Yeshua realized that the moment had come.

He felt that for their sake he had the right to turn to the powers sent down from above, the right to test them. A demonstration of great faith deserved a great reward.

After looking at the disciples with a probing gaze, Yeshua finally spoke:

“You will feed them.”

“We will?”, exclaimed Shimon. “The five loafs of breads and two fish in my boat are hardly enough for our supper. Would you like us to buy them food in Bet-Zaid?”

“No. This time you will do something different,” smiled Yeshua and added, “seat the people in rows of fifty.”

The disciples looked at each other with curiosity and began to execute Yeshua’s curious order. Meanwhile, Yeshua went to Shimon's boat and retrieved the fish and bread he had stored.

When the disciples finished seating the people, it appeared from the number of troops that were formed that there were five thousand men alone in the crowd. After surveying the multitude, Yeshua said: “Blessed are you, Lord our God, ruler of the universe who brings forth bread from the earth.” Then he tore apart the bread and passed the pieces to his disciples to that they would pass them on to the people.

And oh miracle of miracles! The bread in the hands of the disciples not only did not run out, but even multiplied! The meal took no more than half an hour, and just as the sun went down behind the ridge of the Galilean mountains overlooking the lake, the people were full and dispersed, and the disciples began to gather the remaining bread.

The prophet Elijah has yet to appear to him, has yet to instruct him. But he has successfully recreated his miracle - the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves! Thanks to Elijah’s prayer, the flour in the tub and the oil in the jug did not run out for many days in the house of the widow from Tzarfatah. And so he, Yeshua, recreated the miracle!

Splitting the mountain will be harder, but he won’t be able to avoid this task anymore.

10

Summer ended. The year 3790 began. Its beginning was marked by a bad omen. The Yom Kippur service was accompanied by strange and worrying signs: the red ribbon used to mark the sacrificial goat did not turn white, as it usually did as a sign of the purification of sins; the western lamp turned off prematurely, and finally, the gates of the Holy of Holies suddenly opened all on their own .

“…during the forty years prior to the destruction of the Second Temple, the lot for God did not arise in the High Priest’s right hand at all. So too, the strip of crimson wool that was tied to the head of the goat that was sent to Azazel did not turn white, and the westernmost lamp of the candelabrum did not burn continually.” (Yoma 39b)

A few days later, on Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, a hurricane struck Judea. Temporary dwellings, built from improvised materials, could not withstand it. Almost nowhere were the people able to fulfill the commandment of living in huts, especially since it had been pouring rain all week long. And that was the most disturbing sign: the prayer for rain was repeated just at the end of the feast, and rain that began before that time was seen as an unfavorable sign.

When Yeshua climbed the Temple Mount two days after the end of Sukkot, he saw to his amazement that the Hall of Hewn Stones, where the Sanhedrin met, was empty. Only the Sadducee clerks remained, but not a single authorized judge, nor a single wise man was around.

It turned out that the day before the judges had moved into a store within walking distance of the Temple. After the unfavorable sign observed over the holidays, the sages finally decided to leave the Holy Place.

“Forty years before the destruction of the Second Temple, the Sanhedrin was exiled from the Chamber of Hewn Stone and sat in the store near the Temple Mount.” (Sanhedrin 41a)

Yeshua found the store quickly, but Rabbi Tzadok wasn’t there.

Apparently, the learned priest took the bad New Year's omens to heart, and after the Yom Kippur fast never resumed eating. He had taken a vow of indefinite abstinence from food and had become so weak that he stayed home that day.

Rabby Tzadok observed fasts for forty years, praying that Jerusalem would not be destroyed.” (Gittin 56a-b)

“They say the Rabbi hasn’t touched his food in nearly three weeks?” asked Yeshua when he came to visit Rabby Tzadok.

“Not exactly. After sunset, I chew on a dried fig and swallow its juice.”

“What’s going on?”, asked Yeshua with concern. “What moved the Rabbi to take such action?”

“The shekinah, god’s presence, has left us, Yeshua. The Sanhedrin has left the Hall of the Hewn Stones. After those truly ominous signs we witnessed on Yom Kipur, the judges finally acknowledged that we were not in our rightful place and were sending the wrong sign to the people. The shekinah has left Zion and we do not have the right to judge crimes punishable by death. We have relocated to a building located over the Temple Mount. The Sadducee tribunal, sanctioned by Rome, of course continues to function in the same place.”

“Does the Rabbi think there is still hope? That the destruction of this city can be prevented, the scattering of the people avoided, not to mention the destruction of the Temple? Isn't that what the Rabbi fears?”

“Indeed, it is, Yeshua, indeed, it is. It is the reason I have undertaken this limitless fast… And here is the answer: even if we cannot prevent the catastrophe, even if the decision has been made and sealed shut, our fast and prayer will influence the coming resurrection. Consciously accepted suffering "makes the soul a victim of obligation.” The efforts of the righteous are never in vain.

“Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases… He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth… Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin…” (Isaiah 53:4-10)

“Anyone in whom the Holy One, Blessed be He, delights, He oppresses him with suffering, as it is stated: “Yet in whom the Lord delights, He oppresses him with disease.” Perhaps it does not matter if a person accepts his suffering with love? That is not so, for it is said: “to see if his soul would offer itself in guilt.” (Brachot 5)

The sage's words emboldened Yeshua. It was better than any blessing of his plan. He believed in exactly the same idea. He was not preparing for a decisive battle with the Romans in vain. He would win either way. He would win even if he died! The blood of the righteous is never spilled in vain. The sacrifices of the righteous redeem the universe. The sacrifices of the righteous are the true offering that serves as the ultimate redemption.

“The death of the righteous atones for sin” (Moed Katan 28a)

“If a man is righteous, he is a true exaltation for redemption. But the other, the unrighteous, is not suitable for exaltation, because the rot is in him, as it is written, “it is not for goodwill, etc.” And that is the reason why the righteous are the redemption of the universe. And they are the offering of the universe.” (Zoar, 1,65.a)

Rabbi Tzadok's decision confirmed that he - Yeshua - had been on the right track all along, that the year 3790 was indeed the "appointed time".

Bad omens can mean the advent of great calamities, but they are can also signal that these calamities can be prevented, and that deliverance is possible and even necessary!

Did he not have enough signs of the coming of the "appointed time"? On this New Year, these signs rained down on all of Israel. Delaying was out of the question, for, as the sages teach us: “in Nisan the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt; and in Nisan in the future the Jewish people will be redeemed in the final redemption.” (Rosh Hashana 11a)

Six months later, over Passover, he will ascend the Mount of Olives and battle the Romans! Then “The least of them shall become a clan, and the smallest one a mighty nation; I am the Lord; in its time I will accomplish it quickly.” (Isaiah 60)

11

Upon his return to the Galilee, Yeshua continued to preach, heal the sick, and even raised two people from the dead. He performed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves again, this time feeding four thousand people.

A week after performing this miracle, Yeshua climbed Mount Tabor along with Shimon, Yohanan, and Yaakov.

The ascent was long and strenuous. After admiring the view, the disciples lay down beneath the shady cedars and soon dozed off. Yeshua, however, was not sleepy, and he began to pray. He asked Father to answer him. He asked Father to bless the work he had planned.

Almost at the very beginning of the prayer, his face changed, his clothes became blindingly white, and the prophet Elijah appeared before him. (Luke 9:27-36)

Yeshua’s heart stopped. He had waited for this apparition, for this man who had died, who had kept his body in heaven.

“Peace be with you, Yeshua,” uttered the prophet. “You have learned that the Temple has been sentenced to be destroyed and the people to be banished, have you not?”

“It is no longer a secret for many.”

“And you hope to annul the sentence?”

“Yes, I do.”

“How so?”

“The Holy One makes the decision, and the righteous man reverses it! Fasting and prayer can achieve a lot, but to annul such a formidable sentence, special measures are needed. It is necessary to break through to final Deliverance, to take the Kingdom of God by force. According to your teachings, there are two hundred and ten years left until the coming of the Mashiach, which is quite a long time. But judging by the fact that the sages were alerted to the impending disaster, the "appointed time," has come, the moment when deliverance could be hastened. The most important thing is not to let it go by and go into battle on Passover!”

“How do you connect the news of the destruction of the Temple with the acceleration of deliverance?”

“Prophecy has dried up in our generation. And if the sages were alerted to the calamities to come, it was for no other reason than to try to prevent them. Rabbi Tzadok has embarked on an indefinite fast, and I will enter Jerusalem before Passover and openly let it be known that the time of deliverance has come, that the time of the Romans has come to an end. On Passover eve, the night of the first deliverance and the night of the last deliverance, I will ascend the Mount of Olives with my disciples. There we will fight the legionnaires. And if it be the will of my Father who is in heaven, then what the prophet has said will be fulfilled: “Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. 4On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that half of the Mount shall withdraw northwards, and the other half southwards… Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him… And the Lord will become king over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be one and his name one.” (Zechariah 14:3-9)

“You mean the mountain will be moved by your prayer?”

“And by the words by the Heavenly Father, which you have said to me: “I own the man. And who owns me? The righteous man.” (Tanna Divrei Eliyahu 2:7)

“Amen!”, answered the prophet. “But don’t forget, the decision is yours, and yours alone. No one is telling you to do it, and I can’t promise everything will go as you planned.”

“But can’t you foresee anything?”

Not much…I can only know for certain that the world will exist for another ten jubilees, that history will go on for no less than an eighth of the “days of the Mashiach” “Elijah the prophet said to Rav Yehuda, brother of Rav Sala Ḥasida: The world will exist no fewer than eighty-five Jubilee cycles, or 4,250 years. And during the final Jubilee, the son of David will come. Rav Yehuda said to Elijah: Will the Messiah come during the beginning of the Jubilee or during its end? Elijah said to Rav Yehuda: I do not know. Rav Yehuda asked: Will this last Jubilee cycle end before the Messiah comes or will it not yet end before his coming? Elijah said to him: I do not know.” (Sanhedrin 97b)

“But it will likely last until the end of that time.”

“What? Deliverance could take two millennia?”

“Indeed. Such is the nature of time. As we teach, the world has existed for six thousand years: two thousand years of Chaos, two thousand years of the Torah, and two thousand years of the days of Mashiach.

The two thousand years of Chaos began with Chaos, with the Fall.

The Torah was given in the middle of the middle period because the center is a conceivable reality, not an object, and thus corresponds to the Torah.

But so is Deliverance, in which everything is accomplished. It gravitates toward the end of history. The Mashiach complements creation, and therefore its power is tied to the end of the last period. “Two millennia of chaos correspond to the beginning, because there is nothing real in the beginning. The two millennia of the Torah correspond to the middle, since everything tangible extends for a period of time and only the center has nothing intrinsically tangible. The two millennia of Mashiach's days correspond to completion, because wholeness is in completion, and Mashiach completes the whole world, and unites it.” Therefore it is fitting that Mashiach should appear at the end of time. Maharal “Netzah Yisrael” Ch. 27 p.135

Then Moses appeared next to the Prophet Elijah.

“What will come of your rebellion is unknown to us, Yeshua”, intervened Moses, “but we have been authorized to tell you that as in the war with Sennacherib, no fewer than twelve legions of angels will be sent to assist you...” “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” Matthew 26:53

“Which does not mean you will win,” remarked Elijah.

“Why not?”

“First, the sin of gratuitous hatred has yet to be fulfilled,” replied Moses. “Second, anything that is not done at the right time can go sideways... Too much has been set aside in this plan for human freedom, your freedom. A wise man is preferable to a prophet.Bava Batra (12a), but this preference can cost you.”

“And finally, the most important thing,” added Elijah, “The Angel that holds the name of Lord, and who played a supporting role at the time of the Exodus, must now come to the forefront. The Prince of the World, the Angel of Esau, will assume his powers at present. In case of premature deliverance, however, this angel will be given the broadest of powers. Beware of him.”

“Yes, I know. He has already appeared to me, warned me, and tried to confuse me. But my intentions are pure, and I have no reason to fear him. It is much more important to know whether I have Father’s blessing.”

“I can’t even know that for sure,” said Elijah with sorrow. “But I could ask him to give you a sign. Let’s make a deal. Before entering Jerusalem, look for a donkey with a colt in Beit-Ania. If you find them, take them. If anyone tries to stop you, tell them “God needs them.” If everything goes smoothly and you enter Jerusalem as planned, it will be a sign that he looks favourably upon your service.”

Right then, Shimon, Yohanan, and Yaakov, who had been sleeping peacefully, suddenly woke up and saw the prophets talking to Yeshua.

They gazed at the three radiant men at a loss, when suddenly a cloud appeared, and voice sounded from its nethers:

“This is My beloved son. Listen to him!”

“Now you have got your blessing,” rejoiced Elijah. “But let’s leave our deal in place just the same.”

The next moment the vision was gone. Looking around, the disciples saw Yeshua alone in his usual form. Only his shining gaze reminded them for some time of the wonderful conversation that had taken place.

12

Soon Yeshua, accompanied by an impressive crowd, left Kfar Nahum and headed toward Jerusalem.

On the road near Mount Gilboa, he pulled twelve disciples away and, sitting down with them on the grass, tried to tell them about his plan.

“We are going to Jerusalem. There, I intend to battle the Romans on Passover Eve. For just as in ancient times deliverance happened in Nisan over Passover, so will it happen in Nisan during Passover at the end of days…The Romans may try to capture me earlier, so we will hide out at night on the Mount of Olives. We must try to engage with them at the appointed time, but we must also be ready to fight at any moment. Luke (21:37) “Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called.”

“But how can we possibly win?”, wondered Shimon. “They’ve probably brought an entire legion to Jerusalem…”

“How can one Roman legion resist twelve legions led by angels? Have you not read: ““Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley”?” (Zechariah 14:3-21)

“Once you were unable to heal a possessed man and asked me why. What reason did you give you?”

“You said it was our lack of faith,” replied Shimon. “You said: If we have faith as small as a mustard seed and say to the woe: "Move from this place to the other," it will happen. Nothing will stand in our way.”

“Exactly,” replied Yeshua, “if your faith is even as small as a mustard seed, it shall come to pass.”

“And if we don’t believe?”, wondered Judas.

“If you don’t?”, pondered Yeshua. “Then I will be captured by the Gentiles, and they will abuse and crucify me. But even then our rebellion will not be in vain, for it will serve to restore the Kingdom of Israel at the appointed time (Matthew 20:17-19) While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, 18‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; 19then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.’

That moment, Yehoshua suddenly recalled the words of the prophet Elijah that the "Days of the Mashiach" would come near the end of history, that Deliverance would most likely enter into force at the end of the sixth millennium, that is, in the third millennium, counting from the current 3790th year.

And so, he added:

“If the gentiles win, if they destroy this Temple, God will rebuild on the third day!”

The disciples fell silent. What was said was so unexpected, unthinkable, and dark that they were incapable of absorbing it.

Seizing the moment, Shimon Keipa called Yeshua aside and confronted him:

“Take pity on yourself, dear Teacher! May such a disaster never befall upon you!”

Yeshua bitterly replied:

“Why do you contradict me, Shimon? Things always happen the way God, not man, intended.”

13

Yeshua spent the Great Sabbath, the Sabbath preceding the Passover of 3790, in Jericho, and began his ascent to Jerusalem early on the first day of the week.

At first the road twisted along, steep and bare, then higher along the gentle and verdant hills that rolled from one to the other into the sky, mesmerizing the eye with their rich blueness. Scarlet poppies sparkled in the emerald grass on either side of the road. The disciples eagerly and excitedly awaited an event that only they knew about - the King's ascent to Jerusalem and his battle with the Romans on the Mount of Olives.

They rested only thrice on the way, and when the sun was finally setting in the west, the travelers reached the top of the Mount of Olives where Jerusalem lay before their eyes.

As they stood there admiring the Holy City, Yeshua called Shimon and Yohanan and told them:

“Go to the village right before you. There you will find a donkey with a colt. Untie and bring them to me. If anyone tries to stop you, tell them God needs them; then they will let you take them. Luke (19:29-31) “When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” just say this: “The Lord needs it.””

Shimon Keipa and Yohanan immediately left for Beit-Ania. As soon as they walked up the main street, they saw a donkey and a colt tied up at the gate of the third house.

Shimon began to untie the animals as if nothing had happened. The owner immediately looked out of the house and asked, "What right do they have to do this?”.

Shimon and Yohanan replied with one voice:

“God needs this donkey.”

Hearing this, as if agreed upon response, the master smiled, waved his hand and said:

“Peace be with you! Take it.”

When the disciples brought the animals to Yeshua, they placed their clothes on their backs. The Master straddled the donkey on top of these clothes, and, accompanied by the twelve disciples, rode to Jerusalem.

Along the way, people from neighbouring villages joined the procession. The motley procession was clearly visible from Jerusalem in the rays of the setting sun. People began to flock from different directions and spread their clothes on the road. Some people cut branches from trees and put them in front of Yeshua, who was riding his young donkey. Luke (19:35-38)

All along the road leading to the bridge over the Kidron stream, and on the bridge itself, people were rejoicing:

“Glory to the Son of David!”, yelled some.

“Blessed be the King who comes in the name of the Lord!”, came a cry from elsewhere.

“Blessed be the Kingdom of David!”, yelled another.

Yeshua was encouraged by the enthusiastic reception. Who had inspired them all to rush toward him? Everything was taking shape on its own, everything was becoming a sign. Here were the people who had been embraced by the Holy Spirit, declaring him king....

A few men, concerned about this outburst of popular joy and fearful that it might take an ugly turn, approached Yeshua, riding atop his donkey, and asked him to calm the crowd.

“Rabbi, forbid them to call you king. It’s not safe. The Romans might hear of it,” they tried to persuade Yeshua.

Yeshua restrained the donkey, looked around at the excited people, and replied:

“But it is the truth, a truth that will conquer the world, and therefore, even if they stay silent, the stones will cry it out!”

Meanwhile, he couldn’t ignore the Pharisees’ words. They reminded Yeshua that according to God's decision, which he hoped to challenge, disaster awaited not only him, but first and foremost these jubilant people. He stopped the donkey again, glanced sadly over the Holy City, and exclaimed:

“Oh Jerusalem, you do not know it yet, but you are condemned to great calamities: the enemy will surround you, entrench you with moats, ruin you, and destroy your inhabitants. But the righteous man still has the power to overturn His sentence! Luke (19:41-43) “As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you and hem you in on every side.”

Those standing nearby shuddered at these words.

Sitting atop the donkey, with his thin white legs moving swiftly over strewn clothing and tree branches, Yeshua rode through the city gates and headed toward the Temple.

The crowd quietly dispersed, and he approached the House of God accompanied by only a few dozen people. After a dip in one of the many mikvahs Yeshua was about to enter the Temple, but when he reached the massive arch that served as the stairway to the Temple Mount, he stopped. Here, under and around the archway, pigeons were sold, and money was exchanged. It was evening, and the crowd of vendors was small. However, the clinking of coins and lively voices could still be heard.

For many years now, there has been continuous fighting between the temple merchants and the Pharisees. The Pharisees demanded that sacrificial animals be sold away from the Temple, by the city gates, but the merchants, for reasons of practical convenience, were constantly striving to place their pens and stalls at the entrance to the Sanctuary. From time to time the Pharisees would scatter their cattle, overturn their tables, and pelt the traders with rotten vegetables, but nothing worked.

“As was customary in holy places at the time, trade flourished in the Temple. Jesus was not the only one who was displeased by money changers’ tables and the pews of pigeon sellers in the holy place, but it was not until after Jesus' death that learned scribes found practical means to remove the commerce that was a necessary part of the Temple service outside the Temple walls.” (David Flusser “Jesus”, p.146-147)

The words of the prophet Zechariah came to mind as Yeshua saw the peddlers: “And there shall no longer be traders in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day.” (Zechariah 14:21)

And it was "that day" according to the same prophet that he came to proclaim! Another sign!

“It is written: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations” and you've turned it into a city market, a den of thieves!”, Yeshua shouted angrily to the traders and began to topple the changers' tables and the vendors' benches that held the sacrificial doves. “Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves.” (Matthew 21:12)

The merchants, leaving the goods behind, immediately scattered.

Yeshua entered the Temple after the service was over. He was approached by two lame men and a blind man, and he healed them.

Those who witnessed the miracle, among whom were many children, began to shout: "Hoshanna to the Son of David!”

The scribes nearby anxiously asked Yeshua if he could hear this greeting.

“Yes!”, he replied. “Haven’t you read that “out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength”?

At dusk, he returned to the Mount of Olives to the village of Beit Aniya, where he spent the night with his disciples at the home of Shimon the leper. “He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.” (Matthew 21:17)

14

The next Monday morning, Yeshua headed back to Jerusalem.

From afar along the way he saw a fig tree.

“We must take a likeness of this fig tree,” thought Yeshua. “If it can bear fruit now, in early spring, then deliverance could also come now, before the days of Mashiach!”

As he approached the fig tree beside the road, Yeshua prayerfully paused, then approached the tree and searched it for fruit.

Finding nothing but fresh leaves, he ran a puzzled hand through his beard and suddenly uttered:

“May you not bear fruit for a century!”

And the fig tree immediately withered away.

The disciples were perplexed, and Shimon asked:

“Why did the fig tree suddenly wither? And why did you curse it at all, Master? This isn’t the time to bear fruit, is it?”

“That's the thing, it wasn't the time! It was a test. Since it couldn't miraculously bear fruit prematurely, it had to miraculously die prematurely! This is the very thing I already told you about: in a few days we are going to give the Romans a battle on this mountain. We have to win, and when we do, this mountain will split as a sign. And if not, if I perish, it will also serve as a miracle. Know that it may very well happen to me, exactly as it happened with this fig tree, that I will suffer at the hands of the Gentiles, that I will be killed by them. But it will also turn out to be the rebirth of the Kingdom of Israel in its time.”

The disciples just stood there not knowing what to do.

“But I still believe victory is possible,” continued Yeshua, “and I repeat: If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done with the fig tree, but if you say to this Mountain of Olives, "Split in two and let the waters come out of you, half of them to the eastern sea, and half of them to the western sea," it will be so. And whatever you pray for faithfully, you shall receive.” Matthew (21:18-22)

When Yeshua ascended the Temple Mount, he encountered Rabban Gamliel.

“What happened, Yeshua?”, the wise man began to question him. “They say that yesterday you rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, and that the people greeted you like a king? Is it true?”

“Yes”, replied Yeshua and then quoted the prophet Amos: “On that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen, and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old;
in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name..” (Amos 9:11)

“The remnant of Edom?”, bitterly inquired the leader of the Sanhedrin. “Wake up, Yeshua. The holy city has been taken over not by a remnant, but by the beginnings of Edom, which has just begun to conquer other nations. David's tent continues to fall. If the Romans heard of your triumphant entry - and they could not help but hear of it - you are as good as dead. I am sure you are already being followed. Let's go talk to Rabbi Tzadok. He wants to see you too.”

Taking Yeshua by the arm, Rabban Gamliel led him under the covered colonnade near the Western Wall. There, in the shade, sat several wise men immersed in conversation.

“I heard the people proclaimed you king,” said Rabbi Tzadok in the low voice of a man exhausted by fasting. “I don't know what you're up to but know that it's dangerous to hasten deliverance. It is said in the Song of Songs: “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the wild does: do not stir up or awaken love until it is ready!” (Song of Songs 2.7) Or do you not remember how two hundred thousand of Ephraim's sons died at the hands of the Philistines when they tried to leave Egypt thirty years before God's deadline?”

“But was the Torah given when it was supposed to?”, objected Yeshua. “Isn't it said that it was only meant for the thousandth generation, while it was revealed to the twenty-sixth?” “Remember his covenant for ever, the word that he commanded for a thousand generations, the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant…” (1 Chronicles 16: 15-18)

“He who has brought nearer the time of the giving of his Law can also bring nearer the hour of Deliverance. As it is said through the words of the prophet: “in its time I will accomplish it quickly”. In what other time could it be, if not in ours?”

“God can speed up anything in the world, Yeshua, but we cannot…”, Rabbi Tzadok shook his head anxiously. “How can you be so confident? Everything indicates that these days the Almighty is hiding His face. What are you hoping for, Yeshua, what?”

“The same thing you are, Rabbi. I share your belief in the power of fasting and prayer. Men have the power to overturn the judgment of heaven. The Holy One, blessed be He, owns man, and the righteous man owns the Holy One. For God makes the decision, and the righteous man overturns it.”

Rabbi Tzadok realized that Yeshua had made up his mind, that it was useless to dissuade him, which meant that there was nothing left to do but support him. Who knows?

“God willing you are right,” quietly said the Rabbi, “and that you are able to finish what you started.”

Yeshua was uplifted by the fact that he unexpectedly gained the support of a great righteous man, priest, and sage.

Rabban Gamliel was right. Just then a report arrived at the prosecutor's office detailing yesterday's events.

Pilate ordered an investigation into the story behind the entry of the "king of the Jews" into Jerusalem and asked where he could be presently found.

Things could become very serious.

Only the emperor appointed kings in countries conquered by Rome. In Galilee he appointed Herod Antipas, but in Judea the royal rule was abolished. For twenty years now, the country has been turned into a Roman province ruled by a governor. Any rumors of a claim to the royal throne were a necessary and sufficient reason for a criminal investigation.

The law interpreted this not only as forbidden political activity, but also as an affront to imperial divinity. Infringement on royal authority was punishable by death. Such an obvious and impertinent incident, when a crowd of thousands proclaimed someone king, demanded the swiftest and most decisive investigation.

A few hours later Pilate received a detailed report of yesterday's events. It had also been established that the impostor, the famous healer and preacher Yeshua of Nazareth, was preaching at the Temple at the time.

Pilate, who had learned in his four years in power that disrespect for the Sanctuary invariably aroused the indignation of the people, was in no hurry to arrest Yeshua unnecessarily within the confines of the Temple. These days it might not even have been easy to be on the streets due to the overcrowding of pilgrims in the city.

Thus, Pilate ordered his agents to find out where Yeshua was spending the night.

The investigators easily followed the Galilean detachment all the way to Beit Aniya.

One of them stayed behind to watch Shimon the Leper's house, where Yeshua and his disciples entered, while the other went into town to fetch the Legionnaires.

Yeshua and his disciples spent the previous night here. Some slept in the house and others in the adjoining garden. Now, however, it was decided that they would all go sleep in the Olive Grove, which began just beyond the garden that led to the back door. When the soldiers entered the house in the middle of the night, all they found were its frightened owners. Luke 21:37 “Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called.”

15

The next day, on Tuesday, Yeshua came to the Temple again. He didn't make any more dramatic moves. He did not remind anyone that he was "King," and his talks and sermons at the Temple were casual in nature. He told parables, argued with the Sadducees about the resurrection of the dead, asked the scribes which of the commandments was the most important, and calmly and determinately waited for his time to come.

The heavenly Father, in the presence of the prophets Moses and Elijah, called him his beloved son and sent him a donkey to enter the holy city! That was enough. On Passover Eve he will battle the Romans on the Mount of Olives. And then whatever will be, will be.

At noon, when Pilate heard that the rebels had not been apprehended again, he summoned the High Priest's secretary to the Praetorium and asked him to help him catch the Galilean troublemaker, or at least play a part in tracking him down.

Among the priests there were many people devoted to their people and their sacred homeland. Nevertheless, the Roman-appointed High Priest and a rather wide, "Sadducee", circle of his relatives and adherents cooperated with the Roman authorities. Moreover, they were its protégés.

While the Sadducees were subordinate to Rome, they did not display their eagerness, and at other times they even openly defied it. At the very least, they never missed an opportunity to demonstrate their "usefulness" to the people, always seeking to show that they were not only pursuing the policies of Rome, but also defending the interests of Jerusalem.

Therefore, when he received such an unpleasant assignment from the governor, the high priest was in no hurry to carry it out. At the same time, he immediately noticed that Pilate’s request allowed him to play a double game.

As soon as the hegemon himself approached him about the "king," he had an opportunity to intercede unobtrusively on Yeshua’s behalf. Defending the life of an illustrious healer and preacher would certainly have been a great accomplishment that would have been appreciated by sages and common people alike.

Caiaphas had heard a great deal about Yeshua and had met him at the Temple. This rabbi is certainly arrogant, even impertinent at times, but he is a healer, not a sicarius. Even if for some reason he has decided to accept the signs of royal worship, he himself does not demand them of anyone. It is very likely that he can still be exonerated in Pilate’s eyes. Especially if we act with the help of the Sanhedrin.

Indeed, wondered the High Priest, if the Sanhedrin were to convene and determine at its meeting, among other things, that Yeshua had no claim to the royal crown, Pilate could not disregard the verdict.

It might even be possible to accomplish two things with one move--on the one hand, to help the governor apprehend Yeshua, and on the other, to prevent his death!

An hour later, the high priest met with Rabban Gamliel, the chairman of the Sanhedrin, told him of his conversation with Pilate and offered up his plan to save Yeshua from Roman reprisal.

“At this meeting of the Sanhedrin,” explained Caiaphas, “we could, first of all, select our own witnesses, second, identify any inconsistencies in the witnesses, to make those inconsistencies stand out before Pilate, and third, to let Yeshua know how he should behave with the hegemon in order to avoid execution.”

“I’ve already spoken with Yeshua,” said Rabban Gamliel. “He will not be persuaded. Your plan will come to nothing.”

In the meantime, when Rabban Gamliel learned that Yeshua was being hunted, he immediately found him in the Temple and warned him.

“You can be easily spotted together with your disciples. Disperse one by one. And tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, when you come here with the sacrificial lambs, keep apart on the way. Where do you plan on having your Passover meal?”

“Where God wills it.”

“Consider His will done. I’ll prepare a spot for you. Here's what we’ll do: the day after tomorrow, at three o'clock, a man with a jug will be waiting for you at the Huldah Gates. He will take you to the spot.”

“Thank you, Rabbi.”

Yeshua liked Rabban Gamliel’s advice. On the night of Passover, they will march in as one-armed detachment, but for this plan to come to fruition, they must be completely our of sight until that moment. That day, one by one, Yeshua and his disciples scattered from the Temple, and one by one began to climb the Mount of Olives.

An hour later, everyone gathered at the agreed upon place, which offered a spectacular view of the Temple Mount.

And then the disciples, taking advantage of the fact that no one was around, asked the Master about the ominous prophecies he had uttered the day before:

“Master, please explain what you said about the destruction of the Temple," asked Yohanan. Matthew 24:1-2 “As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. Then he asked them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’”

“This has now been revealed to many,” replied Yeshua, “It is revealed that there will be no stone left unturned; that everything will be destroyed… But have you ever read a prophecy in the Scriptures that did not have two possible outcomes? Jeremiah foretold the great terrors that eventually came upon the Holy City of Jerusalem, but he also said, "Repent, and these disasters will pass over you.” Jeremiah 26:12 “Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, ‘It is the Lord who sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard. Now therefore amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will change his mind about the disaster that he has pronounced against you.”

“Do you remember what King Solomon was told the day he built the Temple?”

And without waiting for an answer, Yeshua recited:

“I have consecrated this house that you have built, and put my name there for ever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time… ‘If you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut Israel off from the land that I have given them; and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight; and Israel will become a proverb and a taunt among all peoples. This house will become a heap of ruins;” (1 Kings 9:3-8)

“And so I tell you, if we get the honour to do it, in two days the Romans will flee the Holy Land in terror. But if we do not, and I perish, the powers of heaven will be shaken, and you will see in the holy place the abomination of desolation, spoken through the prophet Daniel. Then will come the calamities the sages have already foreseen.”

“What should we do then?”

“Remember that the death of the righteous atones, that the sacrifices of the righteous are the true exaltation in the universe, and for their sake those days will be shortened.”

“The death of the righteous atones for sin” (Moed Katan 28a)

“If a man is righteous, he is a true exaltation for redemption. But the other, the unrighteous, is not suitable for exaltation, because the rot is in him, as it is written, “it is not for goodwill, etc.” And that is the reason why the righteous are the redemption of the universe. And they are the offering of the universe.” (Zoar, 1,65.a)

16

Next Wednesday morning, Yeshua and his twelve disciples went to the Temple again one by one.

Caiaphas, in turn, did not heed Rabban Gamliel's assurances. He did not want to abandon his plan, and decided to make do with his own circle, that is, to use not the Sanhedrin, but his own judicial and police authorities, acting under the strict control of the governor.

Caiaphas could not expect Yeshua to voluntarily appear at his "court hearing," and he feared the possibility of detaining him inside the Temple even more than the Romans did.

The decision came of its own accord. Caiaphas had heard before that his secretary was related to one of Yeshua's disciples, Judas Iscariot.

The secretary told Judas of the High Priest's intention to hold a sham trial against Yeshua to whitewash him in the eyes of the Romans.

Judas, who had already realized that the matter was headed for a tragic end, was delighted, and offered his help.

He was immediately admitted to the High Priest, who asked Judas to notify him where and when he could detain Yeshua discreetly.

“The easiest way to do this would be on the Mount of Olives, in the grove where we usually spend the night. But when?”

“As soon as possible, but certainly not over the holiday, and not on the Sabbath.”

Matthew 26:1-5 “When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, ‘You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified. ’Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and they conspired to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, ‘Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.’”

“But the holiday is tomorrow, directly followed by the Sabbath.”

“So, we’ll do it on the first weekday.”

“All right. We'll meet at the Temple on the first day of the week and make the final arrangements.”

However, at dusk, after the high priest had returned to his home in the upper city, Pilate himself came to see him.

The hegemon was furious that he had once again failed to apprehend Yeshua, this time on his way out of the Temple.

One of Yeshua’s main attributes was his retinue of twelve young Galileans. One similar group was detained and soon released. But Yeshua and his group somehow managed to escape the watchful eyes of the searchers. Pilate was outraged.

“I distinctly recall asking you to help me apprehend the impostor,” he reminded Caiaphas. “Is there any news?”

“We have already begun our own inquiry, and I am once again convinced that this man poses no threat to the emperor. We hear he even teaches the people not to evade paying taxes to the Roman treasury. I intend, with the hegemon’s permission, of course, to detain and interrogate him to determine his degree of guilt.”

“This seems to fall outside your purview.”

“That is why I said, ‘with the hegemon’s permission.’ The materials found by our inquest cannot hinder, but only help in finding out the truth. I assure you that he is not dangerous. This Galilean is a very famous healer, who has healed many worthy men. But he is not plotting a rebellion, I assure you, hegemon.”

“Alright. I don't mind your investigation, especially if you really do track him down for me. But do act quickly.”

“I’ll be able to do it in three days.”

“Three days! That’s impossible. This business is taking far too long. Tell me where I can find him, and I’ll arrest him myself.”

“I won't know until tomorrow, when one of his disciples, who has become my agent, arrives at the Temple. But the holiday starts tomorrow.”

“What do I care about your holiday? It was your idea, Caiaphas, to conduct this investigation. If it ruins your holiday, we'll do it without your little trial. Detain him for me tomorrow or let me know where he is.”

“Alright, I’ll try to do it tomorrow.”

“Try your best, won’t you? By morning I must have information of this Galilean’s whereabouts, or I will arrest him right at the Temple. He's not just a healer, I'm sure of it.”

“At the Temple? On a holiday? No, hegemon, you wouldn’t!”

“Then, come on, help me!”

“Alright, I’ll try to arrest him on the night of Passover. If it works out, I'll conduct an immediate investigation and hand him over to you in the morning. I hope this is a misunderstanding that will be cleared up quickly.”

17

On the morning of the 14th of Nisan, the ritual slaughter of the Passover lambs began in the Temple courtyard.

“Rabbi," inquired Shimon Keipa, "where are we going to eat the Passover lamb? After all, you said that our meal must be secret, so that we would not be detained before we reach the Mount of Olives.”

“Go to the city, there at the Huldah Gate you will meet a man with a jug of water. Follow him to the house he will enter, and there ask the owner where is the room in which we are to dine. He'll show it to you, and you will need to get everything ready for the holiday.”

Shimon-Keipa took Yohanan with him, and they were indeed met by a man with a jug at the place Yeshua mentioned. He led them to a house in the upper city, where, with the help of the owner, they prepared the Passover meal. Luke 22:7-16 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.’ They asked him, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for it?’ ‘Listen,’ he said to them, ‘when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters”

The owner himself soon departed. In the meantime, Yohanan went to fetch the disciples who had remained in the house of Shimon the Leper and explained how to reach the secret house separately.

Caiaphas ordered the secretary to find Judas on the Temple Mount, and when he appeared, told him:

“Pilate is threatening to arrest Yeshua inside the Temple. We must act today, on the feast day. I think it is best that you give up your Master tonight, after the meal.”

“Alright. I'm sure we'll go up to the Mount of Olives again after the meal. In any case, have your men wait after midnight in the Kidron Valley near Avshalom's tomb. From there I’ll take you to the right place and greet the Master with a kiss.”

To gain Judas’ trust and to emphasize his interest in Yeshua's welfare and his belief in the possibility of his salvation, the high priest gave Judas thirty dinars for his teacher and his congregation. Mark 14:10-11 “Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.”

An hour later Pilate was notified that everything was going according to plan, that Yeshua would be detained during the night and brought to him by morning.

It was evening time. The first stars already lit up the bright, clear sky. It was time for the Passover meal. Yeshua spoke:

“Remember how three years ago at the hippodrome in Caesarea Pontius Pilate got scared of unarmed Jews and yielded to them? All the more so today, when the appointed time has come, the time in which deliverance is hastened… You have learned that just as in the month of Nisan the first deliverance came, so in the month of Nisan will come the last. Today, after the meal, we will climb the Mount of Olives, armed and undisguised. At the top we will encounter the Romans. There is always a patrol unit there, but, on the occasion of the feast, a centuria is likely to be stationed. We will go into battle, and then our heavenly Father will send angelic legions to support us from heaven. How on the night of the Exodus in Egypt all the firstborn died, and on the night that Sennacherib surrounded Jerusalem, “the angel of the Lord set out and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians; when morning dawned, they were all dead bodies,” so will the Gentiles be destroyed tonight. And so, the Mount of Olives will split and two streams will flow out of its bowels, one toward the western sea and the other toward the eastern sea.”

Judas shuddered.

How rightly he decided to act! He will lead the Sadducee guards here and prevent this mad battle with the Legionnaires! He will save his mad Master!

“Let us begin,” proclaimed Yeshua. “The hour of the sacred meal is coming, the hour of deliverance is at hand.”

He lay down, and everyone else sat next to him.

Yeshua said:

“Here we are eating this lamb with matza and bitter herbs. Today we eat under the Roman yoke, but the next meal will be in the kingdom of God.” Luke 22:15-16 “He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’”

Then, raising his glass, Yeshua blessed the wine:

“Blessed are You, the Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.”

Then he added:

“May the streams of water flow from the Mount of Olives, as this wine flows today... But if the streams do not flow, but the Romans shed my blood, may it be Your will, Father, that it be shed not in vain, but for the coming redemption. Thy will be done, that as this wine is poured, my blood may be shed to atone for the sin of wanton hatred.” A blessing formula well understood by Jews (e.g., the blessing of the pomegranate on Rosh Hashana: "May it be your will that our merits may be multiplied like pomegranate seeds")

Then he circulated the cup and let everyone drink from it. After that, he took the matzah and blessed it, but before breaking and sharing it among the disciples, he said:

“May the Mount of Olives break today as this bread. But if the mountain shall not be broken, but my body shall be torn by the Gentiles, it shall be Your will, Father, that my flesh shall be broken in the name of deliverance to come, as this unleavened bread is broken tonight.” Luke 22:16-19 “Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’”

Earlier that afternoon Yeshua noticed that Judas Iscariot was tense and anxious. Now he was constantly sweating and looking at the door.

He must be getting cold feet and wants to run away, sensed Yeshua. Coward, he betrayed the cause of deliverance.

As everyone began to break off pieces of the roasted sacrificial lamb, Yeshua said:

“Truly I tell you, one of you has gotten cold feet, one of you is abandoning us.”

The disciples became upset, and began to ask him anxiously, one by one: “Do you mean me?”

He replied:

“Yes, one of you, dipping into this dish with me. He has already decided that defeat is a foregone conclusion and does not want to go into battle.”

This meal lacked the ease and cheerfulness that usually accompanied their other meals together. They were all consumed with the expectation of the battle that would bring about the deliverance of Israel and the world, or their destruction.

It was as if something unsettling hung in the air, especially after Judas, pushing his way out sideways, left the festive assembly in embarrassment.

18

“It is time,” said Yeshua after the meal was over and the thanksgiving prayer had been said. “Where are the weapons?”

“Here,” replied Shimon Peter, pulling up the mat and pointing to the gleaming blades. “There are only two swords. I couldn't get any more.”

“Two swords are enough. Once there were only two swords left in all Israel, as it is said: “So on the day of the battle neither sword nor spear was to be found in the possession of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan; but Saul and his son Jonathan had them.” (1 Samuel 13:22) But God made his people victorious “for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” (1 Samuel 14:6)

Yeshua got up from the mat, left the house, and began singing hymns of praise, joined in immediately by his disciples:

“O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures for ever!...

Let those who fear the Lord say,
‘His steadfast love endures for ever.’

Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
With the Lord on my side I do not fear.
What can mortals do to me?

The Lord is on my side to help me;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to put confidence in mortals.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to put confidence in princes.

All nations surrounded me;
in the name of the Lord I cut them off!

(Psalm 118)

They came forward as a detachment, ready to engage the first legionnaires they could find. They did not meet any Romans on the way. When Yeshua went up to their usual gathering place, located in the garden on the slope of the Mount of Olives, he ordered the majority of the torches be lit to attract attention and began praying.

“Oh Father, You capable of anything. Arise, as Zechariah prophesied, to turn against these nations, as You turned against them in the day of strife. Stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem in the east; so that the Mount of Olives shall split from east to west, with half the mountain going to the north and half to the south. And become the King of the entire earth!” Zachariah 14:3-21

Time dragged on, and the Romans did not appear. Not even a patrol unit was in sight.

“Stay here while I pray,” said Yeshua, “stay with me.”

For some reason their detachment did not attract attention. The Romans did not appear. Something had gone wrong!

All his life he felt his Father near him, but now, in this terrible moment, it was as if He had withdrawn from him. For the first time, Yeshua's prayer was carried away into the void.

The moment was slipping away. In the morning they would be taken, God forbid, with their bare hands when they were sound asleep!

A cold sweat appeared on Yeshua's forehead, and a great terror gripped his whole being. No, he did not prepare his disciples for the possibility of his defeat in vain! The death of the righteous redeems, the sacrifice of the righteous is the true exaltation in the universe! This is what we should focus on in case there is no miracle after the Romans appear, if the fig tree remains barren!

“Father!”, cried out Yeshua. “Pass this cup over me!”

The Romans were nowhere in sight.

“Shimon! Are you asleep?”, asked Yeshua. “How could you not stay awake with me at this terrible hour?”

He was still saying these words when Judas, one of the twelve, stepped out of the darkness. Behind him, in the light of the torches, Jewish faces could clearly be seen - the temple guards and the servants of the high priest's entourage. But there were no Romans among them!

19

When Judas saw his teacher, he approached the commander of the guards and whispered to him:

“The man I kiss will be Yeshua. Take him, but treat him respectfully, and don't think of tying him up – it has been agreed upon with Caiaphas.” Mark 14:43-44 “Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.’”

Yeshua was only bound when he was handed over to the Romans: “They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor.” Matthew 27:2

Right then the Temple guards surrounded Yeshua, took him under the arms, and led him away. Then Shimon drew his sword, as agreed, struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his ear.

But Yeshua immediately stopped him.

“Do you see any Romans here, Shimon? Put your sword away, for he who raises his sword against his brother shall perish. Or do you think I cannot plead with my Father now, and He will present me with more than twelve legions of Angels? But the legions are waiting for orders in vain - the enemy has not come, and we are not at war with our brothers.”

“It’s all for show,” whispered Judas in Yeshua’s ear. “We arrested you to save you from the Romans.”

After arresting Yeshua, the Temple guards took him to the high priest's house, which was twenty minutes away from the Temple in the Upper City.

Yeshua would have realized that what was happening was staged even without Judas’ warning. His trial had no authority, or rather, his "case" was heard not by the Sanhedrin, but by the Sadducee guards.

Indeed, the "session" was held in a private home, and not in the court chamber of the Sanhedrin, which, however, left the Temple Mount six months ago. Furthermore, it was conducted at a time prohibited for legal proceedings - on a holiday, worse - at night, and finally, the main and permanent members of the Jewish court, the Pharisees, did not take part in it.

But for the Romans, who did not delve into the details of the "trial" as Caiaphas had hoped, it was to give the full appearance of a full-fledged judicial investigation.

The session began with the reading of the denunciations given by Pilate and the questioning of some witnesses who had previously been questioned by the Romans. The day before, Caiaphas completely lost his mind, notifying and gathering them all over the city, demanding that they come to his house at the conclusion of the Passover meal. He had planned to ask them his own questions and make them into perjurers beforehand. In this bizarre trial, the judges were working hard to find "perjury," looking for contradictions in testimonies to make them look false.

Although the witnesses were, indeed, as usual, confused and contradicted each other, this did not seem to be enough.

Thus, some who spoke against Yeshua said, "We heard him say, 'Destroy this man-made Temple, and in three days I will erect another, non-man-made Temple.

The Roman authorities fiercely guarded all religions practiced within the empire. Any call to destroy any temple was a punishable offense, and so this ridiculous accusation was not to be disregarded either. But Yeshua remained silent.

Then the high priest became concerned and asked him:

“Why don’t you object? They are not speaking in your favour. You must answer them!”

By saying this, he hoped that Yeshua himself could catch them in a lie. But he remained silent and did not utter a word. Then the High Priest, losing patience, finally decided to ask his most important question:

“Answer this, then: do you think you are a king? The king of Judea?”

He did not become King; the Angel of Death led him astray by sending a bunch of Jewish collaborators to the Mount of Olives rather than a formidable Roman cohort. But there was no power in the world that could make Yeshua change his mind, even in hindsight. May this be a sacrifice, an “offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10), offered as atonement for the sins of the people, as atonement for the universe; a sacrifice that would serve to restore the kingdom of Israel in its time!

Yeshua looked intently at Caiaphas and said: “Yes, I am the king.”

(Mark 14:61-62) “Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ Jesus said, ‘I am;”

No one in the audience had expected this answer.

So what if people shouted a few patriotic phrases in a burst of enthusiasm. How could they be taken seriously? How could anyone take any responsibility for those ridiculous outbursts?

And then, realizing that Yeshua was doomed, that the Roman court would inevitably find him guilty of rebellion against Caesar, an uproar sounded in the chamber:

“You poor bastard! What more evidence do you need? He freely admits he’s guilty!” (Luke 22:67-71)

“He should surely die, nothing can save him now.” (Matthew 26:65-66)

The high priest’s face fell, and he stood motionless. His father-in-law, the priest Hanan, placed his hands around the collar of his tunic and in two smooth movements tore it open, as if to signal grief and national distress.

20

Convinced that he was powerless to save Yeshua, the high priest summoned the chief of his guard and ordered he be handed over to Pilate.

The temple servants bound Yeshua and escorted him to the praetorium, where he was taken into custody by Roman legionnaires. (Mark 15:1)

All those involved in the “trial’ felt uneasy and uncomfortable. To make matters worse, it was becoming clear that Yeshua's refusal to cooperate with them would be interpreted to mean that they - the Sadducees - were conspiring with the Romans! Now word of mouth will bring the blood of this madman not only on the Romans, but also on the priests and scribes! Only the Pharisees were smart enough not to participate in this spectacle!

Matthew 26:3 “Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas”

After the meeting, someone told Hanan that tearing his robes might have been unnecessary, for who, after all, was this Galilean, that everyone should be so worried about him. To which the high priest’s father-in-law replied:

“I did not grieve for him. He wanted to die. But can’t you see that people will blame us for delivering him to Pilate? I’ve got the worst feeling about it. His stubborn lust for death will cause great distress to all our people.”

Meanwhile, Yeshua was brought before the governor.

Without delaying to find out what he was guilty of, Pilatus asked him as soon as he arrived: “Are you the King of the Jews?”

“So you say,” said Yeshua.

The priests present at the scene had nothing to say in his defense. They merely looked at each other sorrowfully, silently condemning his suicidal persistence.

Pilate asked him again:

“Why won’t you answer with certainty? Can’t you see the seriousness of the charges against you?”

But Yeshua said nothing to this either, surprising Pilate with his apparent indifference to his own fate.

Mark 15:2-6 “Pilate asked him again, ‘Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.’ But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.”

Meanwhile, the governor was quick to see the benefits lurking under his prisoner's intransigent behavior. He was now free to execute the "king" without openly disregarding the Jews' request for mercy.

He stepped out onto the porch of the praetorium, in front of which many people had gathered and raised his hand. Everyone fell silent.

“This man has nothing to say in his defense,” declared the governor. “I wish I could set him free, as your leaders have asked me to do, but the Galilean is not looking for a justification. Be my witnesses! His blood is not on my hands!”

Afterwards, Pilate took a jug of water from the hands of the servant who accompanied him, washed his hands, and returned to the praetorium.

He gave his prisoner one more contemptuous look and, with a shrug of his shoulders, signed his death warrant. The scribe handed Pilate the minutes of the trial, which were only a few lines long.

A few hours later, Yeshua was crucified on a cross along with two other Jews, who, like him, were accused of rebellion.

Above Yeshua's head a plaque was mockingly nailed with an inscription indicating his guilt: "King of the Jews.” He died closer to evening, but before the Sabbath.

The disciples reported the bitter news to Yosef of Rama, a prominent member of the council. He immediately went to Pilate and persuaded him to hand over the corpse of the executed man.

With permission, Yosef purchased a burial cloth on the way, having agreed to give the money for it after the conclusion of the holiday and the Sabbath.

Yeshua’s shrouded body was hastily buried in the rock cave before the impending Sabbath.

Only his closest disciples came to say their final farewells.

21

While the agony was still raging, Yeshua saw the Angel of Death hovering in the distance. His countless eyes stared intently at the convulsively shaking body.

At one point, the Angel approached Yeshua with determination, and the sufferer's soul flew away.

“I see you found a way to prevent the war of Gog and Magog,” Yeshua immediately mentally attacked the Angel. “You sent a detachment of Jewish "rescuers" instead of Roman legionaries on Passover night…”

“You wouldn't have been able to bring about complete deliverance anyway. The temple would have survived, the Romans would have fled, but the hatred would have remained… Unreasonable hatred would have devoured your people. You need to understand that deliverance cannot come in the age of the Law; that the reason why Ezekiel could not sing the praises...”

“That’s not true. The Passover night of 3790 is the "appointed time”. Yohanan and I correctly identified it.”

“That may be true. The day of the Temple’s destruction, which Rabbi Tzadok's fast will postpone for forty years Rabbi Tzadok observed fasts for forty years, praying that Jerusalem would not be destroyed.” (Gitin 56a-b) will indeed be called the day of the birth of Mashiach. But it is only his birth… The Mashiach will appear at the gates of Rome in his due time, a couple of centuries later.

The activities of R. Yehoshua b. Levi, who discovered the Mashiach among the panhandlers begging at the gates of Rome, covers the year 240, i.e., the year 4000 of the Jewish chronology (Helek 98.)

Only then he will be able to appear at any moment. In fact, the present turned out to be predestined for something else. Everything has its time under the sun, and what comes prematurely develops in its own peculiar way. Anything that doesn't come at the right time is great fodder for creativity and imagination. I warned you, but you didn't listen. So now you only have yourself to blame. But it is for the best. You and I are going to cook up something interesting and intellectual. We're going to bring irony to history, we're going to stir up the world, and enrich it with great achievements. Until the final deliverance arrives, you will be the Mashiach of the nations, and not only their Mashiach, but also their God.

“A God? What can possibly survive on such a lie?”

“Why is that a lie? Is it not said of you, the sons of Israel, that you are all sons of the Almighty? (Psalms 82:6) If everyone is, you surely are one of the best. As you can see, there are no lies, just a little fantasy, a little acting.”

“There are games, and then there are games. Your game is more appropriately called clowning.”

“But then there are different kinds of clowning, too. A curved path may sometimes be shorter than a straight one. Believe me, this kind of geometry exists. Remember your ancestors… I so clouded Lot's mind that he inseminated his own daughters. I made Tamar so charming that Yehuda could not resist her. Thanks to these roundabout maneuvers, the courage of the Messianic lineage doubled… So, it is today. For the sons of Noah to mistake a Jew for God is not only forgivable, but in your case even lifesaving. Believe me, there is nothing in the world shorter than this curve.”

“But why on earth, and to whom in general would such an idea occur?”

“So far only to me, but soon with your help I will share it with all mankind. Enoch and Elijah were resurrected while their bodies were still alive, you will be brought back from the dead. In half an hour you will be taken down from the cross and in two hours you will be buried. For two nights your body will remain in the crypt, but before dawn I will take it away. The Jews will say that the body was stolen; your disciples, that you rose from the dead. And everyone will be right... The mass of the universe will decrease for the third time exactly as much as it already decreased twice after the removal of Enoch and Elijah's bodies.”

“And what will you achieve by doing all this?”

“Thus far the Cosmos belonged to me, but now I will enter History. For I am not only the Prince of the World, but I am also the Angel of Esau. I am Esau's representative in the spiritual world, as his brother Jacob is the representative of the Almighty in the earthly realm. And Esau's time is on the brink of arrival, it is just beginning. The power of Rome will spread throughout the world. I see myself as the chief patron and philanthropist of world culture. But that’ll have to wait. First, in the next millennium, we'll have to devote ourselves to theology... The main deity of the peoples is a vegetative deity. It dies and is then resurrected. The sages of the nations will combine your images. They will consider you resurrected, and they will replace the usual cults of Osiris, Dionysus, and Tamuz with your cult, the cult of Yeshua Hanotzri. They will tie their worship of me, the Prince of Peace, to your history and your teachings, and thus be able to redirect their service to the Almighty.”

“Such delusions are impossible! It is impossible that the Ruler of the world would entrust you with such a mission. It will not stand.”

“Why do you consider it to be a delusion? Why is it impossible? Even during the exodus from Egypt something similar could have happened. Then, after worshipping the golden calf, the Almighty had already assigned me a mission that I might well have developed creatively. However, a Righteous Man persuaded the Almighty and He overturned the sentence and cancelled my mission.

(Exodus 23:20) “And he said to him, ‘If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. 16For how shall it be known that I have found favour in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.’” (Exodus 33:15)

But then at issue was the deliverance of Israel and now we speak of all the nations on earth, who are my charges. This time I am finally involved.”

“Whatever it is you claim to be doing, it can’t move forward without my consent!”

“First of all, such a grandiose affair will go on without your consent, and secondly, you will give it. You have lost, my friend.”

“Are you really able to change my mind?”

“I warned you that if you took up this case and lost, it wouldn't end in your death. Your death would only be the beginning… Oh, Rabbi Yeshua ben Yosef, had it not been for your scheme, the situation of the people of Israel would have been much better before the "appointed time" than it is now, when they will start persecuting them in your name! Oh, Rabbi Yeshua ben Yosef, you were meant to be a great sage, you were meant to be the author of a great book! I admit, the book that will be written about you will also be a dizzying success, but it will be impossible to figure out where the truth ends, and the lies begin. It will present the Pharisees as hypocrites and blame the Jewish people for your death.”

“You have not answered my question: how do you hope to pervert my will? How do you expect me to wish for that which, according to you, I cannot accept?”

“You don't accept my frightening look - multi-eyed, you don't accept me as the Serpent, but when the Serpent turns into the Staff, when I come back to you in the image of Metatron, in the image of the Angel of the Divine Face, your attitude will change.”

“Moshe's staff is Metatron: from him comes life and from him comes death. When he transforms into a staff, he is a Helper, working for good, but when he transforms into a serpent, he is the Adversary, and Moshe flees from him” (Zohar Bereshit 1 p.158)

“After I take your body, we will merge, merge, as Enoch already merged with me once. True, Enoch, like some of his disciples, wanted it that way. They went along with this merger to contemplate the Divine chariot with me. Today you still say you do not wish to merge. But your reluctance is weakened by your defeat, and when you see the Angel of the Divine countenance, you will no longer object.”

“Over the course of the Sabbath, you yourself will realize that your back-up plan is coming into effect, "to make your soul a sacrifice of duty," to serve as the redemption of the universe. “

“Here I will be your ally. Everything living is rooted in me. Everything dies and is reborn thanks to my efforts. The worship of all the gods, except, of course, the Almighty, flows into me. We will rename them after you, and through you we will redirect them to the Most Holy. Over the course of this Sabbath you will learn one more thing. You will learn that the sons of Noah have not been warned about complicit idolatry.

“Noah's sons have not been warned about "complicit idolatry”…”Complicit idolatry” is a worship which,

on the one hand, refers to the infinite one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and, on the other hand,

attaches to it the bodily forces or any of the natural forces, or a man, who by their imagination is placed

on the divine plane, but so that the former is recognized as the basis and the latter as a derivative. Even

if it is considered as idolatry for Jews, there is nothing forbidden about it for the sons of Noah...

Christians are not idol worshippers.” Chief Rabbi of Israel I. Herzog “Laws of Israel in accordance with the

Torah”

, and you will not be able to say no to the millions of wretched people who hunger to partake of your

redeeming flesh and blood.”

“I’m afraid I won’t be able to. You seem to have forgotten that I too am a son of Israel.”

“Oh, I remember. It is somewhat problematic. But on the first day of the week, the Angel of the Divine

Countenance will come for you to escort you to the Throne of Glory. We will stand before the Creator of

the world and hear His verdict.”

22

In the evening, at the close of the Sabbath, the three Galilean women who had followed Yeshua, prepared fragrant oils to proceed with what they had no time to do before the day of rest - the anointing of their master's body.

The stone covering the cave crypt had been rolled away. They went inside and saw the Angel who told them:

“Don’t be afraid. He came to life. He is not here.”

The women ran away from the coffin in terror and did not say anything to anyone because they did not understand what had happened.

Soon, however, Yeshua appeared to Shimon and the other disciples.

He continued to visit his followers for more than a month. But on the forty-second day of the sheaf counting (the Omer), after gathering the disciples on the Mount of Olives, Yeshua announced that he was leaving them.

Only then did the disciples finally dare to ask him what had been tormenting and troubling them:

“When will you finally resurrect the Kingdom of Israel?”

“When are you going to drive out this evil empire?”

“Isn’t now the time to do it?”

But he replied:

“It is not for you to determine the times and deadlines that are entirely in the Father's power. We were not able to draw deliverance nearer in the hour appointed for that purpose, and now only in the time appointed by the King will His kingdom be restored.”

Acts 1:6-7 “So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.”

“We will have our share in the rebuilding. At that time my followers and yours will help rebuild what will soon be destroyed by the Gentiles.”

“In Midrash Tanhuma this kingdom (Esau’s) is compared to a pig (“wild boar”), which should become kosher at the end of times. In the future, the Holy One, blessed be He, will ask for what he deserves. The Third Temple will be rebuilt by this nation (Edom), which will restore what it had destroyed to its original state.” Rabenu Behaye Leviticus Commentary (11:4-7)

Having uttered these words, Yeshua began to ascend until he was hidden by a cloud.

While the disciples were still looking up at the sky, two angels dressed in white appeared before them and said:

“Why do you just stand here, Galileans? Yeshua will return to the world in the same way that he has now left it. At the appointed time, when deliverance comes and "the Mount of Olives is split from east to west." So will he appear again, and the ways of God will be revealed and the measure of everyone's complicity will be known.”