The Rebels ....from the imagination of a badger


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The Rebels.

This document, written in Western Aramaic, was discovered during an archeological survey being carried out at the Misr Railway Station Car-park in Western Alexandria prior to the construction of a seven acre bus-depot.

The jar which held the scrolls is dated to circa 10 BCE, but the manuscript has been dated to between 55 and 60CE. There is worldwide contention over its authenticity but several researchers and historians are confident that it is a genuine document from that period.

The Vatican has declared the document to be a fake, but has shown extreme interest and is requesting that it be made available for further testing by its own experts. The Egyptian Government has refused to allow the papers to be taken outside the Cairo museum. Copies and translations of it have been banned in several Christian countries.
Translator's Note
There are already several translations, all held in heated contention. Generous liberties have been needed to translate the document into modern day English since a transliteration of the document would be unintelligible to most Western readers. Its author 'Matthias', who was almost certainly an Eastern Aramaic speaking Galilean Jew, wrote this book in Western Aramaic Hebrew with grammatical and spelling errors on nearly every line of the manuscript. It has been my undertaking to translate the Hebrew into idioms of modern English. If I have strayed too far with such liberties then I beg forgiveness.
Doctor L Bartel MA TTSF (Truth Through Science Foundation)
The Beginning

I wonder whether this will survive? I am old and can hardly see, so I have to trust in Matthias who writes for me. I knew and worked with the Genessaret boatmen and want to pass on the true story of these hard men, what they did and the amazing man who led them during their attempted uprising.

Much of this story is based upon the memories of my friend and mentor Cephas, our patron Zeb and of several other people, together with my own experiences, because we were often separated during those months.

And I can also tell you something about the other Yeshua, because one of his comrades, Job, took refuge here where he lived for a time before he died, and it was he who told me about their rebellion, and I have included all in my account.

The priests here are devoted to me and cherish me, and whilst I am indebted to them for their kindness I know that if they find this account then it will certainly be destroyed. Matthias is one of them yet he declares that he loves me and promises to hide copies in many places in the hope that one day, beyond the madness, people might find it. I can only hope and pray that he will succeed.

I must have been so naive to have once believed that humankind is basically honest, true and good, when in fact it is wicked, devious and unbelievably cruel. And yet Yesh, who was our leader in the quest for justice loved every single person that he ever saw and all that he did not, just as Matthias loves his raptors which can kill without a second thought. Yesh saw beauty in us, just as Matthias sees beauty in those amazing birds.

Enough. I wonder if my story will survive?
The Monster

Zeb's boats were as narrow and long as they could be without attracting too much attention from the officials, because such boats are faster for evading the lake's watch boats. But just at this time we would have been much safer in a short tubby craft, because a huge monster was caught up in our nets, furiously thrashing about and threatening to turn us over. I don't know how our flax ropes held together under the strain, or how the cleats which they were belayed to did not tear out of the boat's gunwales, but somehow all our gear held against the enormous force straining and fighting far below in the black depths. But Yeshua had fitted the cleats... so they would hold!.

Terrified of these Demons that we knew lived down in the deeps we would have cut the lines and got clear, but Yesh's presence reassured us. If Yesh said that a situation was safe, then it almost certainly was, and Yesh's only worries were shown by his constant pleas to us to be as quiet as possible. Noise could attract a watch boat, it was an unusually calm night across Genessaret, and sound carries far over still waters.

And so we struggled on defiantly, hauling on the lines until our bleeding hands could reach and haul on the net itself. Farmers grew and harvested the flax. Capernaum wives and their children cut and beat it. Capernaum youths dragged it through nail beds until fine, and then widows drew the strands until they were as thin as hair and spun the threads into yarn. Then the netmakers wove it into lines and tied the fine netting; and that was all that was holding that monster beneath our boat, lunging from side to side and threatening to kill us all. Even courageous Ceph looked worried, and although It wasn't our net he must have been concerned for his master's boat and our lives.

But Yesh had suggested to Zeb the boat's owner, how we could save a young man's living (who had got himself and now ourselves into all this trouble) and gain him some drachmas out of certain ruin, whilst still earning for Zeb's boat and crew.... only brilliant Yesh could have thought of such a plan.

This young man had inherited his father's boat and net, and in proud hot headed arrogance he had declared that he was going to gain his fortune in a single trip by laying his nets out in the deeps where the old hands did not dare to venture. He was going to fill his boat with fish, pay his taxes and be rich! The only problem was that huge demons lived out in the deeps where the old hands would not go, and it was one of these that had got caught up in the nets and dashed the young fool's hopes. The terrified and dejected lad and his crew had cast the net loose and rowed back to shore so hard that they had worn the skin off the palms of their hands.

Yesh had treated their flayed hands with herbs and ointments, bound them and listened to account's of how they had been surrounded by Satanic Demons on every side, and their personal bravery in being able to cut free from the nets and save themselves.

Zeb had chuckled throughout Yesh's description of that conversation, sometimes bursting into loud guffaws of laughter, whilst we boatmen were all very subdued by what we had heard. Then Zeb agreed that Ceph could take out the fast boat to recover net and dispose of the catch, but Yesh would need to be aboard to subdue any demons, and since we had all seen him subdue others before, we reluctantly agreed to do it.

It's very dangerous to fish the depths, not only because of the satanic monsters below but because any watch boats that see a fishing craft working off station will seize it and may even confiscate it. The officials of the lake make good money at the expense of hard worked fishers. But fortunately they were just as terrified of demons as us.

Yesh had wandered along the shoreline for the first time many summers before, offering his own make of net needles in bone, and since all the fishermen needed good needles he was soon a popular worker around Capernaum. Zeb soon took on Yesh as his general craftsman, making everything from stone anchors to spars and carrying out repairs to the boats. His ideas about spars that doubled as oars and secret thole-pins allowed Zeb's boats to be much faster whilst still seeming to keep within the Lake's rules. Yesh was a very valuable colleague and friend, and when he showed how he could cure illnesses, deseases, wounds and even cast out demons from folks, it proved there was something powerfully special about him.

And now here we were, in the middle of the lake in the darkness, fighting to haul in that net in as much silence as possible, while worried Ceph threw himself from one side to the other to keep the boat upright... and Yesh just sitting there, so calm and confident.

And up came the monster, thrashing on the surface, the greatest demon-fish anybody had ever seen before, longer than any man and twice as heavy, it's great maw of a mouth opening and closing could have taken a man's head. And Yesh leaned over, grabbed its lower jaw and with Cephas and Andrew they dragged it over the side onto the deckboards where it thrashed and fought.

Yesh called out a chant to it, something like 'Come out! .... leave!' and as he did so he clubbed the great beast over the head with an anchor-rock and it lay still. He told me later that the fish themselves are not demons, but that demons invade them. We crew all retreated to the boat's gunw'les and stared in horror at the beast.

'Phew!' gasped Andrew, Ceph's older brother.

'What now?' asked Philip.

Ceph didn't answer, he just stared at the beast still slightly quivering on the bottom boards, and it was Yesh who answered.

'Down to the Gadarenes, Ceph? It'll fetch good money down there.'

Ceph nodded his head slowly, and then sat up, 'Yes.... let's get on with it. We might as well benefit from tonight lads, but let's not get caught, eh?'

'Young Mark!' Ceph called to me, 'Help Philip to clear the net and fold it; we'll see how bad the damage is in the morning.'

The crew shipped the extra tholes, hung the oars and we began the long pull to the South East. I had only been on Ceph's boat for one week and every day had been exciting, but this was my first night run. I thought that I would spend my whole life on Genessaret, but that was not to be...... At that time I had no idea about just how famous Yesh and the crew would soon become.
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My early life...........

When I was very small my father Amon was taken by those demons when working out in the deeps of Genessaret. Although my mother had given birth to four children, the only survivor being me, she was still amazingly beautiful and Eleazora, a visiting merchant from Jerusalem proposed to take her home with him as his wife. She liked him enough and valued the security that he could give. He did offer to take me as well but my mother insisted that I would be happier at Capernum, and so left me with my aunt Imma who was a childless widower, and to leave a healthy boy with her was seen as a gift for her future as well as a release for a mother who did not really love me.

Imma taught me and I went to some lessons with other children, but also had to earn my keep, and when I was six Imma sent me to work with the line and rope makers. The linseed crop supplied many crafts and jobs, and although most of our clothing was knitted from wool, the clothing of the rich was made from linseed's finest linen, all woven by specialised craftsmen. While the rich wore sandals and belts of finest leather ours were made from the coarser strands of flax, woven into rope and then spliced.

Our first job was to beat out the linseed straw before stronger boys would strip it down, pulling the fibres through a board of nails until it was fine and could be thinned out even more. Our supervisor Azor was a real bully who loved to slap our backs and necks with a spliced rope if he thought we were slacking.

I had seen Ceph at my work-place before, during his visits to buy line and rope. Back then he worked on one of Zebedee's shore netting crews, but the first time I ever heard him speak was when I was about seven years old. Azor was playing his usual game of walking slowly past us all, enjoying the tension this caused because we didn't know if he would hit us.

I was getting ready for the sting of his rope-end when a voice said, 'When did you last get thrown into the lake?'

I turned and there stood Cephas, smiling up at Azor who was tall and strong, but Ceph was short, stocky and powerful with the build of one who had hauled nets as a shoreline fisherman. He was only about sixteen years then, but he was very confident, and already had a reputation for quick temper and sudden action. People called him 'Ceph', meaning rock, because he was as hard as stone and was as steadfast as a stone anchor. I had heard that when Ceph started to smile in any confrontation somebody was about to get hurt, and clearly Azor had heard this too because he backed down fast without the usual posturing and bravado. Ceph just stood there chuckling, and then he said, 'You know something? When I see you beating the brats, you really make me feel sick. One day, Azor, you and I will dance!' And then he just walked on out, carrying new ropes that he had come to collect.

After that, Ceph would often nod to me when he saw me or stop to say a few words. I discovered that he had worked on linseed thinning when he was a kid and obviously knew how we were treated. Several months later, he came to my home. He arrived with his elder brother Andrew and they spoke with Imma who called me in and told me that they wanted to speak with me. Ceph thought that I worked faster than the others, and more carefully; he wanted me to join their net making team as an apprentice, and this would eventually mean a much better living for Imma and me.

Imma brought in bread and some wine which she kept for important visitors and we ate and drank together. Ceph's older brother Andrew was quiet and seemed disinterested in recruiting an eight year old, but Ceph spoke to me as if I was a relative. I always had that feeing that he was more like an uncle or much older brother towards me.

The brothers had lived at Bethsaida beyond the Jordan, where their father Jonah had been a tenant small holder. There was an older brother who would inherit the right to farm the land which is why the younger brothers had looked to the lake for a living, and how they came to Capernaum to work with the successful fisherman and boat owner Zebedee. To be a successful fisherman was an extraordinary accomplishment because boat costs, net licensing, catch landing levees and corruption amongst the tax officials caused expenses that crippled most boatmen. But Zebedee was very wise, a natural survivor.

The brothers' parents had died in Bethsaida and so when Ceph became betrothed his mother-in-law the widow Ruth had invited both young men to live at her home in Capernaum, firstly because she could not bear to lose Dinah her daughter, and secondly because both had good jobs with Zebedee. A smart lady was Ruth.

'What about Azor and the linseed team?' I asked.

Ceph just smiled, 'Oh... I'll have a chat with them all.....they'll be overjoyed about your new opportunities!'

And they were. Well, they didn't complain and I think I know why. When I went to take my leave the head man Joatham just grunted and told me to clear off, and Azor didn't say a word....... just stared hard at me.
The Shoreline.

And so I joined Cephas the Rock's shoreline team as junior, which meant that I ran the errands and did all the chores nobody else wanted. One of my main jobs was to take a basket through the town and collect unwanted or dirty food scraps from the houses and outlying farms. Anything from rotten fruit to stale bread crumbs. These scraps were very valuable to Zebedee's netting crews because if the sea was well baited with food scraps before it was netted, this could triple or quadruple a catch. That had been another one of Yesh's ideas, of course. Although Yesh did not work the boats or nets, his ideas could increase all of our incomes.

There were eight youngsters and three seniors in the shoreline team. Aram was the foreman, and joy of joys, he didn't hit kids for fun. In between the everyday chores I slowly got to learn new skills. Sometimes we were called to the shoreline to help haul in a big catch. That was so exciting...... As the net neared the shore the fish started to panic, jumping everywhere. Many fish would jump over the net's headrope to freedom, but others outside became confused and jumped inside the net. If a net had a very large catch it could take a long time to draw in, and if the hauling teams pulled too hard then the net could tear and even break top or bottom lines. As the last thirty paces of netting was reaching the shore, fish would be jumping everywhere and they would 'rain' onto our heads and shoulders.

By the time I was about nine years I was on a net making team; the short nets were one hundred and twenty paces long and seven paces deep. Because each net was cut to bulge in the middle, fish would swim into the bulge as it was being drawn ashore and be less likely to jump out or swim underneath. The ground rope was weighted with cut and bored stones, and Yesh supplied those. We juniors made new net's because it's easier to make a new net than to repair one.

By the grace of God, I had friends, a home and a living. And when I was 11, Ceph was given command of one of Zeb's boat crews and asked me to join his team, which is how I could tell you about that first week and that unusual night out in the deeps, hauling in that monster.

I didn't have to go to bible school anymore, and so could devote myself to the job and team. As already mentioned Ceph's was a fast boat seven paces long, with three crew and a shore team of seven. The idea was to be able to travel quickly and easily to the sardines which could cluster in the shallows in huge shoals at spawning time or when the Binyfish were hunting them and drivng them inshore. Zebedee's older teams used bigger boats, nine paces long, with five crew and a shore team of ten, and these could not deploy along the coast quite so quickly as Ceph could. Everybody in the team had been a net maker and developed additional skills after joining, such as sculling, sailing, net laying, hauling and more, but the first job that everybody learned after joining was net repairs. As already explained, net repair is much more difficult than net making and repairing a net quickly by passing it over a spar in a small boat needs skills far beyond making new nets.

Ceph and Andrew, each walking with an assistant carrying a basket of food scraps would patrol the shore on foot for miles on either side of the boat crew and shore team, which usually kept busy with repairs and other work. The brother who found an inshore shoal first would surface bait the sea close to shore to keep the fish there, and then run back to the team and off they would set, the land-crew running along the shoreline carrying the net which was folded into baskets and the boat crew rowing and/or sailing as best they could. The brother that got left behind would soon realise the situation and come to find us. The race to the fish shoal could be very arduous, and on many occasions it had eaten our bait and dispersed by the time we arrived, but when with the Lord's grace it worked, the catch could be huge.

The boat would run inshore to collect the baskets of netting, the crew would change over to give the tired oarsmen a chance to rest and the new crew would row out and around the shoal, laying out the net and returning to the shore. The hauling warps would be passed ashore to the hauling crews and then the boat would race off again to position itself outside the net. Whichever brother had found the shoal would then wave an oar and the haul would commence at a steady pace.

As the net came in the shoal would start to panic and race around inside the bulge of the net looking for a way out. Then they would start to jump. The boat crew now had to work very hard. The skipper would scull the boat along the net, and all crew members would bash the surface of the water very hard with oar blades and floor boards. An oar blade hitting the surface flat and hard sent a great shock through the water, and the fish would rush away from the net. In this way we could keep many of the fish from jumping out. As the last of the net was about to come up on the shore the fish, as already told, would be jumping in every direction, mostly up onto the shore. Sardines could sting when they hit us but the bigger comb-fish could really hurt!
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It's well written, and an intriguing idea, with a great hook in that we know what's going to happen to Yesh and the others -- but of course we can't know exactly! Good writing @badger Great characters

I won't comment like this after every section, but I will like sections as read. Hopefully several others will get involved in this Bible story with a difference

They should be encouraged to, imo :)
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It's well written, and an intriguing idea, with a great hook in that we know what's going to happen to Yesh and the others -- but of course we can't know exactly! Good writing @badger Great characters

I won't comment like this after every section, but I will like sections as read. Hopefully several others will get involved in this Bible story with a difference

They should be encouraged to, imo :)
Thank you for above..... :)
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In the Team, and learning how to survive...

Nobody liked tax and licence officers. A tax officer could stop anybody carrying goods through the streets and seize as much as he decided was fair. Zebedee had to pay large sums in order to get his fishing licences, and on top of that a large portion of every catch was seized. Each crew member had to pay taxes on his earnings, plus an annual head-tax........ believe me when I tell you that taxes, seizures, fees, demands and licences were many, penalties were severe, and the ruling class treated us working people with less care than animals. Our own ruler's brother, who had governed Judaea, Idumea and Samaria was so corrupt, incompetent, and cruel that Rome had needed to depose him and send in a Prefect to take over his duties; either that or face a complete breakdown in law and order.

But we had our ways of surviving. Whereas we were only allowed to land our fish at Capurnaum where our licence was valid, Cephas and brother Andrew fished the deeps for the great forbidden fish and took the catches to the pagans along the Gadarene coastline, and since these were not declared they would not be taxed. The regular winds blew from the West and were no good for fast trips to the pagans, but If they came from North or South the the brothers would often drop other plans and set off for the deeps just after dusk, lay long lines with baited hooks, catch the great fish, empty the secret wet boxes of any others caught on previous trips and by midnight be sailing across the wind at their best speed for the East shore where they had their pagan customers. Winds on the Gennesaret Lake were unpredictable, and could back or veer without any warning, and that was why Yeshua's extra oar locks and balanced oars were so valuable. In an emergency we could row Ceph's boat directly into the wind at great speed, and get far away from any official boat before we could be recognised.

Yeshua was not frightened of the deeps, devils or demons. It was rumoured that he had on occasions swum far out into Genesarret and even crossed it alone without any boat, and because his presence in the boats was immensely reassuring to us we asked him to accompany us regularly. Yesh once told me that as an infant he had won swimming matches on the great river in Egypt, where all infant children learned to swim strongly and fast. An Egyptian who could not swim fast would not live long. And Yeshua once told me that he felt very close to the Lord when out alone in the lake.

I've already mentioned that Ceph and Andrew used a smaller and faster boat. Yesh had experimented and found that an oar that held the water for longer during each stroke could push the boat further and this could be achieved by curving the tip of the blade towards the boat's stern, and it didn't seem to worry the officials that our the oars were slightly different to others.

Yeshua and Zeb both seemed to be able to cope with adversity, and could find ways around, through or past difficulties, and their ideas spread throughout all Zeb's teams. We held Yesh in the highest esteem and although he often did things that we might not have understood, like eating and drinking with the fisheries officers, or giving healing to a sick whore, he always explained to us that everybody belonged to the Lord, and nobody had the right to judge anybody else but the Lord. In fact Zeb told all his crews never to show any animosity or hatred towards taxmen or priests, and where it was possible, to be friendly towards them without seeming to be ingratiating. But those times when I saw Yeshua barYosef angry was when people were being bullied, or fat rich priests were pretending to be holy; then folks saw a very serious and hard man.

And so life was settled into a pattern of working along the shoreline and learning how to use mast, sail, oar, and anchor. By fourteen years I was soon the fastest net cleaner and mender on any of Zebedee's teams. I still lived with Imma but Ruth's home was open-house to me and I loved her cooking so much that I could be found there on many evenings. Because Yeshua could find no rest at the customs house with his growing fame, he often took refuge at Ruth's. But even there he would still be discovered by those in need, and so Ruth's home became a venue for help and healing as well as the customs house and Zebedee's.

The life that I had been given by the Lord was all that I could ever have wanted, and I expected to meet a sweet girl, marry, become a father and enjoy my days amongst my friends and crewmen, but this was not to happen. Most of my friends and I were soon to be plunged into deep trouble and peril. I now wish that this had never happened, and that we could have continued those happiest days for ever. This is where my story really begins.............
....the Immerser......

Breaking the ancient laws, even by accident, is sin which can cause sickness and misfortune. There were hundreds of ways in which we could feel dirty in our hearts and minds and the only way that we could clean ourselves and our spirits from sin was by travelling to the Great Temple, making confession and offering sacrifice. It's hard to explain to outsiders, but after redemption we actually felt better, our aches, pains and illnesses were healed, and we were clean and well. But the Temple and its priests was full of hypocrisy, greed and corruption.

There was only one road which we Northerners could take to reach the Great Temple, and that ran along the East bank of the Jordan river. Much of the West bank was in Samaria where we were hated and at risk of attack, but even along the 'safe' road to Jerusalem the bandits lay in wait to rob any travellers who looked weak enough, in fact the whole journey Southwards was full of dangers for us because everybody knew that thousands of us Northerners were bringing our annual savings to the Temple.

The people who lived in the South, especially in and around the great city were very self-important. They looked down on us, made fun of our strange accents and cheap clothing, and despised us. When we reached the outer suburbs the local people were waiting for us, and their smiling faces and patronising vioces couldn't hide the fact that every meal, bed or service which they extended to us was charged at the highest rates. They did all that they could to fleece us of our savings. They didn't love us, just the money which we had scraped together during the previous year; the wealthy could attend all three major feasts but we could not, and many of us Northerners needed to go to the Temple outside of the major feasts because the cost of subsistence was slightly less expensive during those events.

It's true that the citizens of Jersalem did greet and hail us as we trekked by thousands into the great city. They threw down palm leaves and flowers upon us and chanted in excitement, but I'm sure that they were really greeting our money, because when we would leave the city a few days later with empty purses we walked out past a few resentful and sullen faces, and nobody was there to call out 'farewell'.

But the heaviest charges did not start until we reached the Temple. Every man had to pay half a shekel of pure silver each year to the Temple but our Syrian drachmas were no good there because only 'Temple' silver coins were acceptable currency, and so we had to exchange coins from our home districts for these Temple coins. These were consistent in weight and in silver purity and so it was easy for the priesthood and our Roman overlords to calculate the value of income from any particular feast just by weighing the mass of coins. The money changers charged a fee for changing our drachmas and denarii and this further raised the cost of everything. So we paid for Temple coins, then paid our Temple tax, then paid for a sacrificial lamb because it was too far to carry one and in any case sacrifical lambs had to be perfect, then paid for priest's fees, then paid again if we chose to eat our sacrificial meal in the Temple. One family from Capernaum had carried a fine lamb all the way south to the Temple only for the inspecting priest to condemn it out of hand..... any attempt to avoid the extreme Temple charges was thus easily put down. We had to pay the priests for other services because corruption had added new costs on top of the Head tax which was supposed to cover everything. As already mentioned, we even had to pay at the Temple refectories to sit and eat our sacrifices. On top of all this, armed Levite guards stood by massive offerings coffers and stared aggressively at all passers to encourage them to throw yet more silver into these....... the whole place was just a wicked and corrupted rip-off.

The ultimate evidence that the priests were corrupt hypocrites was that the Temple coins were struck with a graven image, together with Caesar's initials on the reverse, and the features of the God Baal on their obverse sides. This total and utter heresy was overlooked in favour of their silver quality, and tells you everything that you need to know about the two thousand priests that attended the Temple at major feasts to fleece the hundreds of thousands of visiting peasants like us.

Our whole country was suffering under the weight of excessive taxation, corruption, starvation and suffering because the priests had disregarded the ancient laws which protected the working people, copied the fashions and lifestyles of our conquerors and even taken to worshipping Pagan Roman and Greek Gods.

But there was a man who lived out in the wastelands to the East of the Jordan, surviving as close to self-subsistence as any human can, living off the surges of the migrations and the sends of the seasons. Even his clothes were those of a wild man, but he was at one with God and he knew what was happening to the working people of our country, and how corrupt and evil the priesthood was.

And so he came out of the wastelands to the Jordan river where we all passed by, and his call went out to us....
'All those who seek release from the burden of their sins, all who travail under the load of their consciences....... Go no further! Don't go to those vipers and hypocrites at that Temple! Come to me, and I will hear your confessions and bring you redemption by immersing you in these waters!'

And the people stopped, and listened, and turned back to him. And he listened to their confessions and washed their spirits clean in those waters........ for nothing! And the word went out so that within a short time thousands upon thousands of folks were coming to him to be cleansed rather than go to the Temple. Before long the Immerser needed many disciples to offer cleansing and redemption to the people. And of course we the Boatmen of Genessaret heard about him as well.

Takings at the Temple began to fall away at an alarming rate and nothing could infuriate the priesthood or the Romans more than a drop in tribute, taxation and money! A storm was looming for the Immerser.
Yesh, Zeb and Ceph

I'd seen Yeshua many times before at my old flax beating job. He supplied the bosses with beating and thinning boards. He also made stone weights for net bottom lines, anchors and moorings for wet boxes which he made as well. Wet boxes could be hidden out in the lake deeps so that fish could be kept in secret rather than brought ashore to heavy taxation by the fisheries inspectors. And his bone net needles were the best! Everything he made was the best, and surprisingly inexpensive. I once overheard a conversation between him and Azor in the flax thinning tents.

Azor had called out 'You're an idiot!' He did love to shout for all to hear his wisdom, 'You make the best tools, but don't charge as much as you could, so you must be an idiot! You can't be that wealthy or you wouldn't have to work at all, and yet you just stay as poor now as last year or the year before..... Ha! .... Stupid!'

Yeshua didn't answer..... just nodded his agreement. I was expecting some clever reply..... or an offer to bash Azor's head in would have been nice to hear. Nothing but a nod and Yesh just continued on his way. A few weeks later Yesh was back, and Azor tried again.

He called out for all to hear how clever he was, 'Heh! Yesh! So you can't be all that righteous....... by charging cheaper prices you are putting other artisans out of work, and they starve, whereas if you charged a higher rate, which you could, you would earn the same money for less work, have more freedom and wealth, and other workers would be able to get some work as well. And you could afford a nice cuddly wife to cosy up to........what a fool!

I think it was being called a fool that did it. Yesh turned upon Azor and strode towards him with such a look in his eye that Azor stepped back with his hands up, saying ,'Whoa! I was only joking!' Yesh stopped just short of Azor and said something like, 'God never forgives anybody who calls another person a fool, and who I have loved and lost is nothing to do with you', and he turned, walked out and away. From the look on Yesh's face and the tear in his eye, I often wondered if he had been widowed. His family lived on a hilltop about halfway to the Great Sea, but I think that most of the time he stayed among friends like Zebedee or Ceph in Capernaum.

Speaking of losses, Ceph's wife Dinah died that year, and was buried with their stillborn infant son. To see such a vibrant, strong and contented man as Ceph reduced to such sadness and illness taught me much about the fleeting bliss of happiness. I thought that he would die, but Ruth sent for Yeshua who arrived soon after. They sat with Ceph for a time and then both men came outside and walked along the shoreline. From that point Ceph's health picked up, but that joyful twinkle in his eye was gone forever and he became a more serious person. They had both walked back to Ruth's house, where Ceph proposed to look after her as his mother, if she would like to keep him there as her son. She cried as she embraced him in acceptance. The Rock still had a home and Ruth still had a provider.

Yeshua always seemed to draw the best out of any bad situation. At this time Yesh was supplying less people with wood, stone and bone implements and working more and more as a healer, for which his reputation around the shoreline was beginning to exceed even his renown as a craftsman. His knowledge of herbal remedies, illnesses, pains and especially his God given skill to caste out demons was causing people to trek to the lakeside to find him.

Whereas most of the netting and rope making crews were strong, broad, muscled men, Yeshua was taller, lanky and lean in build, a person who could walk or 'lope' long distances, a natural traveller. And that is what he was doing more often.... travelling around the lakeside villages and healing in exchange for local hospitality. He could have become rich if he had travelled to the big cities and treated the wealthy, but he neither wanted the money nor contact with the high class people who were no longer of the true ways.


Although Ceph was instructive and fair to all us youths, he took a special interest in me. I usually had a thousand questions to ask at every opportunity about netting and boatmanship. He taught me about boating techniques, the monsters that lived out in the deeps, and how the Lord kept them out of the shallows where he and his crew worked. He must have been very close to the Lord, because people who follow the Lord's commands always have strength and health, and he displayed both.

I've already mentioned that Ceph ran a small boat inshore-netting crew. His elder brother Andrew worked with and for him, which gives some idea of his zeal. His boss Zebedee ran a few operations, two of them being large-boat crews. Sometimes, the best boatmen would join up to work Zebedee's two boats in a deep water operation to catch the really big fish from the deeps, where the demons lived, but since the big fish in the deeps were evil and banned to us as food they had to be sold to outsiders. These catfish were huge, and the fishermen took them to the Eastern shoreline where pagans bought them at good prices. But how to protect from the dangers of the deeps at night? That was another job for Yeshua who earned free dinners in exchange for his presence on the boat.

Protecting from the Fisheries patrols was another issue that Yesh helped us with. All fishing boats on the great lake were banned from carrying or using more than four oars, by order of King Antipas. The fisheries inspector's boats could have as many oars as they wanted, and so catching up with a fishing boat was easy for them. To be caught with more than four oars was a serious offence, attracting confiscation of boat and all equipment, even death for all the crew. It was fairly easy for an inspector to see that a boat had been breaking the rule simply by inspecting the gunwales of a craft to see if additional oar-lock positions had been fitted, or if unusual wear was showing in places where an extra oar might have been secured.

But Yesh made special wooden pegs that could be pushed down tight over a boat's gunwale and tied in place so that it could not move. In this way an oar could be used without causing any wear to the boat's sides. Round stone weights with holes cut through their middle were slid over oar shafts so that they were more balanced in the hands of a rower and if thrown overboard they would sink blade upright, for recovery at a safer time. Yeshua made these oars. Yeshua was clever, and he hated the fact that the Galilean people were treated as serfs in their Lord's land, taxed and bullied to poverty and forsaken by senior classes who had discarded the Lord's ways, rules, laws and wishes. And so he did everything that he could to even up the odds.

It was Yeshua who had built fish-keeper wet boxes that could be sunk down to the bottom of the lake in pairs, with lines between them that could be snagged by hooks for recovery. Contraband fish could be kept in these until a boat was ready to run a big catch over to the Eastern shore. They were also useful when we caught very large catches. If we only brought small catches ashore the inspectors would not seize too many fish.... they needed to let us live; but if we brought a huge catch in they would seize nearly all of it, telling us that they had been lenient in the hard times. In this way we could store our best catches and release them slowly.

Where Yeshua was clever with improvisation, Zebedee was shrewd in business and politics. He encouraged his crews to visit the same houses as the Lake and customs officials, and he made and kept good friendships up with these dangerous people. He believed that It was wise to get close to enemies.

After a day's work, whether it was making nets, working them or repairing them, we would all trek to the 'local' for food, wine, chatter and relaxation. And that is where I began to see and listen to Yesh most often. He visited Zebedee fairly regularly, and after going round commercial, farming and fishing businesses he would often come to where we all dined and relaxed.

He was amazing. Whereas the big-heads would boast until we were bored, Yesh could say a single short sentence and leave everybody just transfixed with an idea, or a suggestion. He knew so much. I heard that he grew up in Egypt, and that is probably how he knew about magic, wellbeing, herbs and things like that. I tell you..... a man could come into the place, twisted over in agony after being crushed, strained or injured, and Yesh would walk round him, touching prodding and pulling, saying 'Don't fight me! Just move here, bend there....' etc and then suddenly the person would be smiling, saying 'Yes! Oh yes!' and then trying various stances, and skipping and ......... better! Yesh would always tell them to stop sinning as they danced off, because obviously these things only happened if you deserved them.

And, as already mentioned, Yesh had special powers. He could save souls from demon posessions. Truly, I've seen many a person, shouting, raving, throwing themself about, ranting..... quite incurable, until Yeshua was there standing before them. He might slap them, shouting 'Don't you do that to me! Get out!' ..... and the demon would leave, just like that. I say 'the demon', but many times there must have been legions of them within a person. Sometimes he would demand to know a demon's name, others he would just 'be there' and the demon would give up and get out quietly while it could.

I reckon that Yeshua could cure anybody of any sickness. I've even seen him bring back the dead. Yes, I have! I first saw this in my third year with Cephas. I was ten by then. Yesh was sitting with us, chatting and enjoying his food and wine, when some men rushed in with a dead person. I remember the guy's eyes just staring at the ceiling. Yesh didn't need anybody to ask, he just rushed over, firing questions like, 'How long? What was he doing?' He pushed his fingers into the man's mouth, then put his hands upon his chest, and with a great strength he thumped both hands down on the man's chest, screaming 'Come out! Come out, unclean demons!' bashing again and again. And, eventually, the man heaved, sat up, staring ahead, and then fell back, breathing very hard and groaning. He lived again! I didn't see any demons leaving, you can't actually see them, but that they were leaving was obvious because of the extraordinary noises and sounds coming from the man.

As you can imagine, that customs house became a place of hope, and people would come from around the district for cures and reliefs. Later on people came from miles around, and Yeshua could not just drop in for food, chat and relaxation because he would be curing and devil-casting for the rest of the night. At about that time Ceph and Zebedee got into the habit of having Yesh stay at their homes, because he gained little rest at the customs-house. But he must have loved healing. He never charged money for cures, although people often left coins or gifts as they rushed away, full of the joys of redemption and health.

Yesh wasn't a priest, nor was he full of the threats and self-righteousness of the Pharisee lawyers. He could command demons better than any other person in living memory, and yet he was so understanding of people. Where priests would rant and rave over a person's actions, demanding severe punishments, Yesh would usually have a totally different approach based on empathy, sympathy, understanding and love.

Yes, that was it, Yeshua loved people, even when he was angry with them his love and understanding wasn't discarded. He often gave what money he had to the poor. The way he saw it, he didn't need anything, or want anything save for himself and his abilities, which more than provided for him day by day. He was simply contented as he was..... all the time.

So this was why an artisan like Yesh found himself constantly among the fishing crews, on voyages in their boats to the deeps, and above all, one of their closest friends. Yesh loved the water and boats. And he liked our company. And without his skills and powers Zebedee would not have built such a roaring and illicit trade with the eastern shore. It was Yeshwho had convinced Zeebedee, long before, to get his junior boys (like me when I first joined up) to collect all food scraps for use as surface bait. If a calm sea was surface baited and then left for an hour or so, the resulting catch could fill a boat. Zebedee valued Yeshua's initiative very highly.

I don't think Yeshua needed to make things later on, although he must have found time because he always had a little bag of net-needles, and amongst the fishing crews and netters he used these to barter for whatever he needed. Yesh didn't need much money. He often told us, 'Don't use money, deal with each other in kind, then you can't get hit with on-the-spot taxation. If you don't need anything you won't be carrying anything when you're next stopped by a tax official, and then you can't get fleeced. '

And he often said that to live without needing anything, a person was relieved of the stress and tension of life. A bit like a wild creature, which possessed nothing, but had everything it needed. A bit like the desert living Immerser. This was Yeshua's way of teaching us how to be happy even under the oppression of our hypocrite priests and Antipas. Neither Antipas, the priests nor the wealthy class were like us, they all played at being one of us when they weren't pretending to be sophisticated Greeks. Absolutely everybody who was wealthy and powerful was like that. They didn't belong to and obey the old laws like we workers did..... I'm amazed that the Lord even allowed them life, but there you are, the Lord has mysterious ways.
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I feel I'm right there with them. It's the detail,

Great take on John the Baptist :)
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I feel I'm right there with them. It's the detail,

Great take on John the Baptist :)
Thank you . :)
I was able to build on the fishing and fishing scams because I used gill, trawl, trammel and drag nets as a kid.
Andrew and Philip

We had all heard the wonderful stories about the holy man, the Immerser, who cleansed masses of people from their sicknesses on any single day. One of our crew members, Philip, who had met this famous man, said he existed out in the deserts near to the Jordan river, living on nothing, having nothing and needing nothing. They said that he could find food placed all around.... roots, seeds, honey, locusts and other insects. This man had amazing strengths........ with special survival skills and at peace with nature. A man who could become the promised Meshiah, and oust the dirty, greedy, fat, lazy, bullying, stuck-up upper classes who had infested our world with their filth. This was a man who could rid us of wicked priests and unite us to send the Romans running back where they came from, and who could stop future invasions from the pagans who lived all around us.

The stories kept coming in, and one evening at Ruth's house Andrew told us all that he was leaving next morning to go to the Jordan to see this man for himself and that Philip was going with him. Ceph said that he wanted to go as well, but because he was needed to stay on to run the team that he would stay and promote Jonah to take on Andrew's role until he returned.

Yeshua was eating with us, and we asked him what he thought. He said that he had heard the same stories from all the other towns and villages that he visited, and that the working people had not only taken interest in this man, but most had become very excited about stories they had heard.

I asked Yeshua, 'Why do they call him 'Immerser?'
'He obviously has special powers to bring redemption to people, so he can release them from the burden of their past, and this leads to their wellbeing and health. To speed this process spiritually he immerses them in the waters of the Jordan River so that they know the exact point in time from which they would start over again. Hence he's called 'The Immerser'.

'Will you go to see him?', I asked, and Yesh said, 'My time has not come yet, but it will.'

The next day Andrew hugged us all 'Goodbye' and set off with Philip around the Western side of the lake and to the southern entrance to the Jordan river, about twenty miles to walk around the shoreline. They both returned ten days later, much thinner, in ragged clothing, but their eyes positively twinkled and they were filled with an excited and happy countenance. Andrew had always been quiet and reserved and although older than Cephas he had deferred to him and held his opinions to himself, quiet yet reliable. Now he was a changed man, proclaiming loudly that the Immerser could bring the free gift of redemption for true followers and hence, relief from sickness and ill-health without all the expenses of a Temple feast..

'He is amazing! You should listen to him hounding the visiting priests and Levites!' He exclaimed. 'Ha! One group of priests approached him, all self righteous and proper, and he sent them packing as if rogues! He told them they couldn't fool him with their fine clothing and riches, and their carefully chosen words spoken in posh accents! '

'You can fool the people!, he had shouted at them, 'But you can't fool the Lord! There's nothing of Abraham about you guys at all, you hypocrites and rogues! You don't belong to the children of the Lord with your gluttony, greedy hands, wicked minds and pagan values........ get away from me! When the Lord gives us back our lands you will be not be a part of the deal because you have dishonoured yourselves and become traitors. A fiery pit awaits you scum!'

The first signs of interest among the working people grew quickly into a desperate hope, not only for themselves and their loved ones, but for the whole nation. Galilean working Jews had been subdued by one nation after another, and by their own treacherous upper classes who had turned to foreign comforts and pagan beliefs, living a mere pretence of the old ways and now looked down upon the Jewish peasants, fishermen, artisans, labourers, hauliers and paupers as if scum who could be abused, bullied, cheated and stripped of anything which they had.

'I tell you what....' Andrew said, 'this man is our Meshiah.... there's no doubt about it!'.

Andrew told us that when his turn had come to be redeemed he had waded waist deep out to the Immerser who reached out and held his arms, looked into his eyes and asking him what he did for a living. Andrew told him and immediately he recognised his accent. 'Ah..... a Galilean! Northern shoreline? I hear that you have a healer on the Northern shore..... Do you know him?' Andrew was very surprised. 'Do you mean Yeshua barYosef?' he asked.
'Yes'. He had said, 'I mean Yeshua barYosef. The clever wood and stone worker. So you know him?'

'Yes! Very Well!', had said Andrew, 'He stays with us very often, and people come to our homes and the customs house in the hope of seeing him and being healed. He even comes out to the deeps with us to keep the demons at bay. He can even leave us when we are out in the deeps and just swim ashore! He is truly an amazing person!'

'I do hope that he will come to me.' said the Immerser, and then he asked Andrew if he wished to be saved from all sin and to start over anew in the ways and laws of the Lord. Andrew had declared that he did, and then the Immerser called upon the Lord to redeem him from past sins, protect him in the future and keep him in good health, lowering him backwards under the waters and raising him up in his strong arms.

As each person was raised up from under the waters the crowds on the river bank all voiced a deep sigh which became a kind of chant, and then the redeemed person walked out of the river as the next sinner waded in. There had been many hundreds of people at the river bank, and trails of people both arriving and leaving the area, but scores of mostly young men were remaining, wishing to be disciples in his mission because by now The Immerser needed help to cleanse so many masses of people. The Immerser was very careful about whom he chose for his disciples. The people were so relieved at being redeemed from their sins and having saved so much money they almost always attempted to make generous offering to whosoever had cleansed and immersed them. It would be very easy for a disciple to make a lot of money as a disciple of the Immerser's. The people were permitted to make a small offering towards subsistence but that was all. The Immerser always called out that his work was Redemption from sins and salvation, freely given.

Andrew told us that as the Immerser raised him up he looked severely into his eyes and then nodded his approval.
'Yes.... you're to be one of my disciples. Go home and clear up all your dealings there, and then return to me. From now on you shall call me Jochanan, or just John.

There was an overall atmosphere of hope throughout the whole crowd, and all were filled with excitement. This desert man was believed to be a true prophet, and strong enough to lead the people to freedom and self respect for the first time in centuries.

Yesh had listened intently to Andrew's descriptions of this famous man, about his sermons and healings, and asked many questions about how Andrew felt during his meeting with John and if he wanted to return as a disciple. Andrew replied without hesitation. He wanted to leave his present life and work to follow and serve this great leader.

At Zebedee's home we all sat listening in awe to Andrew, Yeshua asked, 'When will you go back?' Andrew answered, 'Now ..... Tomorrow. I know what I want to do...... I need to follow him. Come with me and meet him!'
Zebedee's wife, Salome, a very wise and cautious person looked at Ceph and then asked what he would do for his team's second head man, and he just shrugged. 'Jonah is good,' he answered, 'and everyone in the team is good. I just want to make sure that Andrew is going to do the right thing. This man of the deserts seems to be very holy and powerful in the Lord, and if Andrew truly believes that he must go to him, then...... he should!' He turned to Andrew. 'I would go with you, I surely would, but you can see that I need to give Jonah assistance and support to the team, and you know the job is yours as soon as you need it back.' He opened his hands as if to show that all this was obvious.

That's when Yeshua spoke. 'I think it's time I came to meet this man. Shall I come with you?'

'Oh dear!' Salome looked seriously at Yeshua, 'People around here need you so much! We would all miss you so badly! What will the people say who have brought their sick friends and relatives here, when they find you have gone away?'

'Tell them the truth,' answered Yeshua, 'Say that they should go on to the Jordan as well, to the healer that's come out of the desert. He's cured more people in a morning than I could heal in a month. It must surely be worth the extra miles. And I will come back when I can because my place is here; I just want to meet this wonderful man and see for myself how he redeems and heals.'

And so, the next morning many people gathered at the shore to bid farewell to Andrew, Yesh, Zebedee's sons John and James, Philip... and myself. They watched us set off to the south in Zebedee's fast-boat which would reach the Jordan river easily by midday in the strong westerly wind. I was nearly fifteen by then, and allowed to come because I was a strong oarsman and a good foredeck man. In the event my skills as bowman were not needed, since we didn't have to change tack once all the way to the Jordan's entrance. We reached it in a good time of two and a half hours and sailed on until we passed the entrance to the Yarmuk river.

We left our boat with a keeper, and walked on down the East bank until we came to the crowds. All of us had a water skin and food for the trip, but no obvious wealth, because otherwise we would have been stopped and charged by tax officials or even robbed. I had thought that it would be in a sombre mood that everyone gathered to listen to Jochanan, and be redeemed and healed by him. Not so! There was an air of excited interest which permeated through the whole crowd. Traders came to sell food, water, wine, clothing and footwear. Jochanan's supporters did their best to keep an orderly queue of visitors who wished to ask a favour, mention an illness or disability or simply to be redeemed through immersion.

Jochanan's men also kept a lookout for aggressive beggars, quacks, dishonest pedlars and political activists. All such people could arouse the interest of the authorities who could use the reports from their spies to close down meetings or even arrest notable figures. Jochanan's disciples knew that anybody as well known as their leader could well be in danger, simply for being popular, and Prince Antipas would make sure that any over popular commoners just disappeared. It was very dangerous to 'stand-out' amongst the common classes.

We made our way through the sightseers until we came to disciples who took us to the queue. We would not be immersed until the next morning, so we sat down and settled in for the night. We were soon surrounded by people, many who were sick or crippled, and I said to Yeshua, 'You could cure most of these couldn't you?' He smiled and said, 'Well, some of them, but they have come to see the Immerser so it would be wrong if I started to steal his authority in this place, wouldn't it?'
Our Baptisms

The spring dawn was full of bird chatter, which began to wake the crowds, and before long the murmur from the rising masses had become a continuous excited hum of sound. Soon after dawn Jochanan the immerser came to the eastern riverbank, stripped off his woollen cloak and shirt, placed his leather belt on top of all and then waded out into the stream, swimming across to the west bank where his disciples waited.. The people were sent in groups to join him and his team. After his blessing and their immersion under the waters, many who had needed assistance to go over to him left the river skipping in health and joy, singing praises to the Lord and calling out new titles for Jochanan such as Meshiah and Leader. This seemed to exasperate him, who always insisted that he was no saviour of the people, but maybe with the Lord's blessing he would find such a person.

When it was our turn, James waded out first, pushed forward by Philip. The Immerser was half a hand taller than stocky James, and about five years older, about the same age as Yeshua. James was clearly in good spirits and was smiling brightly until a stern Immerser spoke to him. He immediately became somewhat more serious in countenance and answered John's questions. Then John called heavenwards as he lowered James backwards into the waters, holding him there just long enough to worry a few of us onlookers, and then raising him up in his strong arms. As this happened I saw a tiny flash of lightning, far away on the south-eastern horizon. Then Zebedee's son John went out into the river to be redeemed. I had always thought of John as a privileged and rather spoiled young man. He was Zebedee's youngest son and could get away with just about anything, so I guessed that his redemption and immersion was going to take a very long time, but it was all over in less than a minute .......... and then they were pushing me towards the water's edge.

I waded out to Jochanan who watched me all the way. His eyes were probably no different to any others, and yet they seemed to be like sparkling stars, searching into the depths of my very being. There was no doubt in my mind that he was a prophet ordained to do the Lord's work. And then I was with him, my upper arms held firmly in his hands...... and in the shining glare of those eyes that obviously knew everything, I just melted, my voice somehow working without my consent, telling about my thoughts of Levi's gorgeous daughter, of temptations that I had endured! And Jochanan looked up into the sky towards his Lord and roared with laughter, his perfect teeth shining within that powerful voice.

'Do you believe in the Lord, and accept that he guides us, rules over us, provides for us and will soon free us of our enemies and invaders?'

'Yes master!' I called.

'Do you seek forgiveness and truly repent of all your past sins and weaknesses, and promise to live righteously, courageously and loyally for your Lord, keeping his laws now and forever?'

'Yes master!' I called.

'Well, that's that then!' said Jochanan, who told me to take a breath and then thrust me under the waters. He was calling out as he had done with all the others, but his voice was very muffled whilst I was under the water, and I was beginning to think that I had not taken a deep enough breath when I was dragged up above the surface and released to wade back to the Eastern shore. As I turned to go, Jochanan said something that I have never forgotten.

'You, young man, will be remembered for ever, and your memories will be written down and read throughout all the world for all time!' And then he looked heavenwards again and roared with mirth, and as he did so lightning flashed, and a short time after the thunder banged and roared about, and all the crowds stared at me as I came ashore.

And then Yeshua barYosef went out to the Immerser. Jochanan and Yeshua looked towards each other all through that short journey. Jochanan's posture and features suddenly seemed different. Those twinkling sparkling eyes were just fixed, staring upon Yeshua, that beautiful humour was stilled into deadly serious countenance. And then Yeshua stood in front of Jochanan who grasped his arms and looked deeply into his eyes as he spoke, and Yeshua answered with very short replies. The thunder storm was almost upon us now, and I could smell the rain that was about to fall, but which never would. I could not hear what they said to each other because the storm was nearing, and the wind was building to a two reef blow. And then Jochanan lowered Yeshua under the water, held him there for a time, and pulled him out and upright.

And as Yeshua turned to cross back over the river, the loudest, most terrifying and dreadful 'flash-bang' that I have ever seen or heard occurred. The flash of passing angels was instantly accompanied by the roaring crash of the Most High, and the clouds above were torn aside to allow a burst of sunlight to tear through those clouds and to light up all around Jochanan and Yeshua barYosef ..... it was hard to say who was in the middle of that amazing light.... both of them, and a flight of doves which had taken to wing in alarm flew right above the whole scene. People shouted out, some fell down in alarm, others just stood and stared at the scene, as I did.

For just a few moments the wind was held back, silence returned, and in that silence I heard Jochanan's huge voice boom out, 'Aye... yes. He is well pleased!'

And then the furious cloud moved on and sun, silence, still and calm was back, and the storm had died away to a warm breeze, and no rain fell. Yeshua, almost immediately dried by the warm wind, came up out of the river, picked up his tunic and girdle and dressed. And we just sat there, stunned by what we had seen.

Jochanan left his disciples to continue in their work and came up out of the river and sat by Yeshua. A woman came up to him and offered a linen cloth to wrap about himself. Both men sat in silence, looking about themselves and at each other for several minutes. And then Jochanan said, 'Will you stay? Will you help to bring remission from sins to people freely, through God's grace rather than through that sin-house of a Temple?'

'I will.'

'I've only just met with you, and yet it is clear that our messages and missions are the same,' said the Immerser.

Yeshua looked into Jochanan's eyes and spoke that short sentence, Hosea's call from the past, that would ring out again amongst all the working people of Israel, the sinners, the sick and the lost.... proclaiming an end to Temple corruption.

'I would offer mercy and not sacrifice!'
Going Home without Yesh.....

Philip, John and Andrew both wanted to go along with Yesh and the Immerser, but James seemed very worried, and said to brother John. 'We must go home!' James felt responsible for John; he knew that if he returned to Capernaum without him that his father would blame him. They spoke heatedly, but both Yeshua and Jochanan the Immerser broke into the argument.

'You must not break trust with your father!', said Jochanan, 'What did you tell him before you left?'

'That we would be home within a few days.' answered James.

'Then you should go home within a few days!' answered Yesh, and Jochanan nodded his agreement. 'There's only you, John, and young Mark to sail the boat back. You know that you'll have to row out of the Jordan dead into the wind until you can get offshore and into the Westerlies. You'll all be needed at the oars.... and you gave your word to your father!'

That was that. After a short while they said their goodbyes to us and we gathered up our few possessions and headed North for Gennesaret, Capurnam and home.

None of us three saw Jochanan the Immerser again.

We walked to the mouth of the Jordan, picked up our boat from the watchmen, and set off back across the great lake to Capernaum. We kept talking about Yeshua and Jochanan as we rowed out to catch the Westerly winds and once well to seaward, we set sail into a difficult Northerly which blew straight into the river's mouth, such are the ways of Gennesaret winds! We began to claw our way eastwards along the southern shore until we could tack and fetch the middle of the lake where we hoped to find westerlies that would let us make Capernaum. . 'Do you think the Immerser is the Meshiah?' I asked James. 'No', said James.

'Why do you say that?' I asked.

'Because he is just a holy man. But a holy man for sure; I've never seen anyone heal the sick in such numbers as he can. Even Yeshua hasn't healed hundreds in a morning like that. I think that he is a man sent by the Lord for us working people, just like Yeshua. I don't think that Jochanan is our Meshiah, most probably a prophet, but who knows what they can accomplish together?

James described the flash-bang, the doves, the huge rays of light and Jochanan's booming voice as he remembered it all, but he clearly didn't remember that Jochanan had spoken the words, he believed that the Lord Himself had spoken.

'Surely Jochanan and Yeshua must have been sent to free us from this oppression?' suggested John, 'One of them must be our Meshiah...... we've seen how they heal, teach and guide. They could bring us all together and force the priests to stop being hypocrites and follow all our laws. At the moment they just exist to take our money from us, and the poor-laws are long gone! Look at how they were both bathed in the light of the Lord!'

We were all becoming very excited, and then John said, 'The light was probably for Jochanan, and you don't need a healer like Yesh to save you from the invaders, you would need a great leader. Can you see the difference? The Immerser seemed more....... more warrior like. Don't you think?'

But it was obvious to me that the booming noise, light, doves and great voice was really for Yeshua barYosef.

After nine hours of beating and rowing into a squally head-wind we finally reached Capernaum. We all slept by the boat as soon as we had grounded and beached it, and the next thing I knew I was being shaken awake by a smiling Cephas, impatient for news of our journey, and wondering where Yeshua, Andrew and Philip were.
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Three moons waxed before Andrew and Philip returned. That night we had been night netting and caught very few fish and at dawn we were passing a net over a spar to mend it, working as fast as we could so that we could go out again. Ceph and others were repairing a split spar because Yeshua was not there to do it, and then we saw Andrew and Philip, shuffling towards us in the early sunshine.

Everybody stopped and ran along the shoreline to them. They both looked half starved with shrunken cheeks, and Philip was holding Andrew up and balancing himself on a stout staff. We carried them into the shade of a large sail stretched over a spar, and gave Philip weak wine and fish to eat. Andrew kept being sick so we just gave him water and let him rest his stomach.

Philip could just find the strength to keep mumbling 'Thank the Lord! Thankyou!'. It took half the morning before Philip had recovered enough to speak, and by then Andrew could take a very small amount of food and keep it down. Philip explained that they had joined the Immerser, baptising the increasing crowds, and Yeshua had attracted so many people to himself that he also selected disciples to baptise as well . Both the Immerser's and Yeshua's disciples were baptising hundreds of people each day and because nearly everybody wanted to give a an offering after receiving redemption the disciples were bringing back large quantities of money to their masters who in turn could send trusted followers out to purchase bread, thin wine and other staples for those who were arriving hungry from their journeys. Some disciples had been tempted by the easy gains but they were soon discovered and 'released' from their duties.

And then it had happened. A large cavalry patrol carrying Antipas's standard was seen riding fast along the Eastern river bank towards them. They would have fallen upon the Immerser's group first but the crowds of people slowed them down and John had enough time to make off with his disciples, collecting a surprised Yeshua and his group from further along the river, and then they all raced out into the deserts to the East.

The Great Temple's custom must have fallen away until its courts were almost deserted, and the local people's incomes had also slowed. The duty fell to Antipas to go and arrest the Immerser and all his close followers because they were on the East bank of the Jordan and thus they were outside the authority of the Roman Prefect who controlled the West side.

With Yeshua and the Immerser were about thirty disciples; the group travelled fast. Although the Immerser worried about Yeshua he was faster and more enduring than any of them. Yesh loped rather than took strides, with an easy rhythmic movement that could carry him for hours on end.

Yeshua had advised his group to watch the ground until they found a small round pebble, and to keep it inside their mouth and suck it as they travelled. Andrew had scoffed at the idea, but Philip and several others had followed the advice and that stone had kept Philip going over the days that followed and he believed that this was the reason for his strength later on.

For days the group had lived out in the desert hills, going to water holes and wells that they knew by heart, eating shrubs, roots, insects, desert lizards and snakes, and spending the nights hidden in depressions and valleys. The Immerser, although completely in his element, he seemed dejected.

'Those multitudes of people did not come to me to offer their support', Philip had heard him tell Yeshua,

'They didn't come to assist in the struggle against oppression, but rather because they want a free cure and some excitement. They will not join with us until success is certain.' The Immerser had hoped that people would feel personally involved after baptism, but they were taking the cost-free redemption, enjoying the sights and thrills and then going home; the only ones who were staying on were those that wanted to work with the Immerser, some of these attracted to the gifts.

'Yeshua wants what the Immerser wants,' Philip told us, 'But he doesn't think that one brief free redemption will be enough. We must motivate people to action, and we must redeem and heal in front of many so that they will be deeply moved. Many just want benefits from it all, but some could become true allies. That's how Yeshua believes we might be able to build a force here in Galilee.

'Yesh promised to stay with the Immerser until he could return to the Jordan river. ' Philip told us ,'One evening Yeshua left the group with Andrew and me to walk into some adjacent hillocks for the night. Yesh often spent time alone, meditating. We sat nearby and talked together about everything. Just before dawn next morning we were woken by shouting, and saw mounted soldiers charging in among the sleeping disciples. Sentries on a hill to the west of the camp had been taken by surprise and it was all that they could do to fight their way clear and run. We watched them as they ran into the East; some soldiers pursued them but were called back by a trumpet blast.

'Everybody in the Immerser's camp was taken. Two soldiers with the troop walked along the line of prisoners; They must have previously seen John, they pulled him out of the line and then the other survivors were thrown down upon the ground and speared to death.' Philip shivered at the memory, 'The Immerser was tied, strapped onto a horse and taken away. We watched everything that happened from our hillock. We were very lucky that they never saw us or came to search the hillocks. I think they were just after John.'

'We waited until the troop had left and gone from sight before leaving our hideout and going down to give help to any survivors, but everybody was dead. Only the lookouts had managed to make off.'

'Andrew wanted to head off to the North West, hoping to reach the North Eastern shoreline of Gennesaret and Andrew's home town of Bethsaida. Yeshua told everyone to go, but that he would to stay out in the deserts to think about the future. I think he was in two minds about whether to carry on, after all, the living was easy for him if he just carried on as before. He had a lot to think about. After a week of travel, weakening more and more each day, we walked over a hilltop and there was the inland sea, stretched out before us. But it took us two more days to reach Bethsaida. Andrew's parents had died years before, but he hoped that past friends and neighbours might offer help. We received a few handouts as we struggled on, but honestly, it was as if Andrew had never grown up there because we were treated as strangers, so we waded across the northern jordan and on to Capernaum, and here.' Philip stopped talking and lapsed in to sleep.
The Mission

The two men slowly recovered their strength; within a week Andrew was with us again on the netting crews, and Philip was back on one of Zebedee's big boats. It was at least five weeks before Yeshua appeared upon the shoreline. We were just about to launch our boat when Jonah saw him and called out. We dropped everything and went to him. Yeshua was tired and thin but otherwise in good condition and spirits. We took him straight to Simon's house and Ruth prepared food and drink for him, but we ate most because Yesh took just a little and then said that he could not eat more or he would be sick.

'Where have you been all this time?' I asked.

'Hello young Mark!', said Yeshua , 'I'm so glad that you didn't stay on!' He smiled.
'I've been wandering in the deserts, thinking, and praying, and asking myself what I should do now John is arrested. I tell you... I was greatly tempted to just come back here and carry on as before, to an easy life! but I can't ignore what's going on in that Temple! Somebody must attempt to step into Jochanon's shoes and complete his work. I'm hoping that the people around here will look to me to win back what our forefathers once had, when everyone was protected and looked after by the laws. Our 'look holy' priests have turned away from Moses laws for riches, luxury, other gods and corruption. Who will give us the strength to free ourselves from the these hypocrites, eh?' Yeshua went silent for a few seconds.....

'I went home...' He began to speak again.

'Nazareth?' interrupted Cephas.

'Yes. I thought that people who had known me all my life, my brothers and my sister's husbands would listen. I stood up in the synagogue and told them about Jochanon, and how we must bring the Lord back into our lives and our whole country. They rubbished me...they shouted me down as a blasphemer and upstart. Even my brothers!' Yeshua looked utterly dejected.

'The priests even tried to get the people to kill me, and they might have succeeded if I hadn't thrown a couple of ringleaders down and walked right through them.'

'You should have come to us.' I said,' We trust you and you can trust us. We'll do more than listen to you!'

Simon gave me his iron-hard stare; his way of telling me to shut up.

'What do you want to do?' he asked Yeshua .

'I must start here, where so many people trust me already......, as soon as I am strong again.'

We talked for a little longer and he then fell into a deep sleep and Ruth pushed us all outside so that he could rest undisturbed. He didn't come outside for two days........, but when he eventually showed himself he looked fully recovered.

The strength and power that seemed to radiate from him as he walked made it obvious that he'd made up his mind. He walked along the shoreline towards our shore crew as we layed the big net out. We pulled ashore and Simon and Andrew jumped into the shallows and waded to him. We all followed as soon as we had passed the net-ropes to the hauling crew.

'You look so strong!' said Simon.

'Thankyou,' Said Yeshua , 'Andrew, you look strong again too!' He grasped and shook Andrew's shoulders.

'What's happening?' Asked Andrew.

'Does everybody know about Jochanon?' asked Yeshua.

'Yes, everybody has heard. Some say that it was Antipas. But ...why?'

'Jochanon was getting very popular,' said Yeshua , 'and he was openly criticising and ridiculing the priests as hypocrites and traitors. If he had carried on he could have united many thousands of people to the cause. The Governors of all the provinces must have been getting really scared.'

'Maybe the Prefect ordered some action to be taken?', suggested Andrew.

'Yes, Jochanon was on Antipas's side of the river and so Pilate wouldn't act. A shrewd devil Pilate is.... He must have worked it out that if he had send out Roman troops to take the Immerser then the whole nation would have revolted, so he just waited until Jochanon was on the East bank before demanding action from Antipas. There's no love lost between those two. '

Yeshua looked around at us all and then out across the lake. 'I feel committed to do something about this. I didn't want to get too involved, but I must. I no longer have a choice. The poor laws are ignored by the rich, The priests own all of the wealth. The Temple has been turned into an evil place of corruption.'

'You do have a choice' said Simon. 'We all have a choice. But could we live with ourselves if we didn't do something?'

'Well?' Asked Yeshua as he looked around.

Simon and Andrew stared at each other for several moments, nodded, and then Simon asked, 'What exactly are we going to do?'

'We're going to do what Jochanon was doing, gathering support by confessing and offering remission of sins without the people needing to to trek to Jerusalem and get fleeced! But not down on the Jordan any more, we're going to do it all right here, in Galilee for Galileans, in Gennesaret. We're going to cut off the silver trail to those vipers in that Temple!'

The brothers said it together, 'We're with you!'

I said I was 'in' as well, but Simon waved me off.

'Somebody,' he said to me, 'has got to work the nets! You can join in with us from time to time, but you need to be making a living for your aunt, don't you?' I agreed because I knew he was right, but insisted on going with them just for that morning.

'OK. So let's go and become fishers of men!' said Yeshua .

We walked along to Zebedee's boats and found James and John in the first; they had been mending nets but had seen us whilst we were still a long way off. Young John stood balanced on the boats gunw'ale, and James sat astride it.

'We're going to carry on where the immerser left off. Are you in?' asked Yeshua . Both men said nothing, they simply jumped down onto the shore, waved to their father and then came away with us. Philip was working on the second boat, which had just shot a net out in a huge arc offshore and back. He waded ashore with the top line, handed it to the hauling crew and carried on walking towards us. He never looked back.

Dear reader, you might be wondering about all this, a few boatmen and a handworker setting off to challenge the world and giving up their incomes to do it, but it wasn't quite like that. All of these men knew that by drawing large gatherings of people to the lake for confession, then they were not just saving the people from a long trek to the Temple, also saving the from paying out a whole year's savings, so would be happy to give a donation to the disciple who redeemed them from the sins of past months.

And then they were six. The small group of men came togeher, embraced, and then set off along the Capernaum shoreline to recruit the team that could change their world.

It was the sixth working day of that week in the spring that they all met up in Capernaum at Cephas's home, and Ruth bought food for all. I was there, so sat and listened to this newly formed group as Yeshua and his new disciples discussed how to start off their movement. Basically, Yeshua already had a reputation as a healer and counsellor, but this was different. He now explained that their movement had to convince the people to join in 'as one' to become an invincible social, political and physical force to reinstate the Lord's ways, rather than allow the existing leaders to carry on 'cherry-picking' the rules and laws as they pleased. Then it would be time to face up to the Roman invaders.

Simon's zeal and enthusiasm was intense. At one point Yeshua looked straight at him and asked, 'Do you think we can do this, and actually win?'

'With you, Yeshua , we cannot fail. You are the Meshiah! I've often thought that you were.'

As they sat there, another Simon was let into the room. He just stood there, a huge strong man more than ten years older than Yeshua, waiting for anyone to speak. Some called him Simon the Zealot because he had taken part in the great Judean revolt many years before when the Romans had insisted on new taxation charges. That revolt had been crushed, together with it's leader, but Big Simon (which was what we called him) had somehow survived and got back to Galilee. He had waited for any good chance since then to throw out corrupted officials. We all stared at his enormous presence in awe.

'Hello Simon! Glad you could join us!' said Yeshua.

'OK,' he said, 'I'm in! Where do I sit?' and moved into the room.

'That's two Simons here!' I said, but Yeshua shook his head.

'I only see one Simon here,' he pointed at the huge newcomer, and before our own Cephas could speak, Yeshua pointed back to him and said, 'You are no longer Simon ... you have always been our Cephas!' The room was in silence for a short time and then we all started to call out 'Cephas! Cephas!' and clapping him who sat there, looking most abashed.
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This could be a movie ...

The fishing detail is excellent, it makes it real