C H R O N I C L E
T H E
R I B B O N - B E A R E R
P A R T
I I I
Rumbling broke out all around and trees split top to root. As if a constant guard and a two-ton stone were not enough to secure the entrance against grave-robbers and the dead man’s scattered disciples, an impressive seal of the Temple image and radiating, cross-webbed cords had been affixed with wax across the whole entrance, and there matters stood until the guards were felt the earth cloven beneath their feet. In the midst of their terror they then saw beings of heavenly proportion and appearance appear suddenly at the tomb. Dropping their weapons, unable to stand anymore amidst unmistakable signs of the gods’ displeasure, some guards fled, careless of execution for deserting their posts.
The older veterans, however, held on to the bitter end, only to fall down as if cast into a deep sleep. The ground fell quiet and lay still. There was a big groan and a crash from the capstone as it was wrenched from its place, snapped the chief priest’s flimsy seal, and rolled back against the slope, opening the tomb forever. Chasayah, Qomer, and Nakon, the heavenly guards, fell down on their faces, hands outstretched as the Son of God passed bodily through the myrrh-stiffened chrysalis of the grave wrappings, his face and limbs completely restored to life!
Radiant beams poured out of the tomb, and Yeshua, his wrists, feet, and side still pierced, wearing the simple white grave garment Joseph had given him, stepped forth, after carefully folding his head napkin, the tzitzit known popularly as the Jewish prayer shawl, or talith, and leaving the wrappings just as he had left it, lying like a butterfly’s chrysalis upon the narrow stone ledge cut to hold the body.
He touched the trembling and shaking head of each one gently, saying “Peace! Peace to My beloved servants!,” then passed on, walking away into the garden among the trees and was lost to sight. The guardians rose, triumph and joy in their faces, and remained at the empty tomb awaiting two women, the first disciples to dare to come out of hiding.
But Tsedahh wasn’t at the tomb when all this happened. He was walking back up the road to Shechem, where he had last seen the ribbon.
He flew to the market first, but it was deserted. Where were all the traders and sellers and the scratching dogs and the rest of it? He could not understand the silence. But a robed female came out of a house, saw him, and quickly went back in, pulling two shirted but bare-rumped toddlers with her.
That seemed strange to Tsedahh, and he went over to the door, pausing. “Should he knock?” He somehow knew that was the custom on Earth. Would anyone reply?
He knocked. He knocked several times.
About to turn away, the blue curtain at the latticed window overhead moved so quickly it tore from top to bottom. There was a sharp cry of surprise and displeasure. Then, “What do you want, heathen devil?” a girl’s voice called down in a mechanical, not very convincing adult manner. “My father is in the city of the Jews, but if want business with him you will have to wait. I will call my elder brothers in from the field. They are herding, but they can speak with you.”
“No, no,” said Tsedahh, looking up. “I am looking for a certain holy cloth, a long ribbon of cloth that is--is--the color of gold or a certain flower you have in gardens here. Have you seen one like that? I lost it, you see.”
There was silence. He was about to ask again, when the girl herself appeared at the door, with two little boys’ moon faces peering up at his. Her face looked worried, with misgiving in her eyes. “You are a stranger, and you should not ask for such things here. You are fortunate I am the only one at home, for my brothers would beat you, and cast you maybe in the well beyond the gate for asking such a thing! Now go away, quickly, before you come to grief!”
Tsedahh was dumbfounded. “What wrong have I done? I did not mean harm!”
The maiden relented a bit. “I suppose you didn’t, being a stranger to our people, but you really should know something, how troublesome the ribbon is, if you knew about it in the first place!”
Tsedahh could not answer to that. But he persisted. “Troublesome? How so?”
The maiden came out completely from the door, standing in front so the two boys were kept inside. She was bare-footed, her hair free but her forehead banded with chain and bronze Roman coins, with a few silver denarii, and her gown of green and blue and yellow, embroidered with faded gold pomegranates and grapevines on the hem and sleeves. She looked carefully down the empty streets to either side of the market.
“I have to make flour and bake bread and feed my brothers when they come, besides taking care of the babies, so they would not take me to the Jews’ city, where they all went to sell things to the pilgrims at the festival at a place outside the walls. We aren’t permitted inside the walls during their holy feast days, of course. Do you think that right, sir? We are holy children of Abraham and Jacob too! So why do these devil temple priests of theirs--?”
Tsedahh wasn’t about to discuss old enmities amd wrongs he knew nothing about, so he returned to the ribbon. “What has it done to your people? Where is it now?”
After shutting the door against her little brothers, the girl turned away and sank back against the house wall, her foot playing in the dust. She shook her head. “The--the elders who came to my father, because my mother bought the ribbon from the Jew who trades here for wood--said the cloth must go from our city at once, but mother would not part with it no matter what it was doing to others. She screamed at the elders when they said they might have to stone her like any adulterous widow and harlot of the heathen if she resisted. My father was very angry with her too, when she wouldn’t give it up for limb or life.”
“But what did it do to them?”
The girl looked at him as if he were an untaught child. “You really are a stranger here! Why, all of Holy Shechem, the mother of our country, was turned upside down in a night and day! We all had dreams that a river of blood was flowing out over the whole country, even through these streets of ours, and whoever bathed in it was washed cleaner than sheep’s wool that is boiled many times over with fuller’s soap mixed with lye. The river knocked down and washed away our holy images too! And those who resisted it, all the men and women who can make incantation and cast miscarriage and pox whereever you wish it, fled from the city as if it were poison, while all those who stayed shone with brightness and righteousness. That is one thing the magic cloth did to us!”
Tsedahh could make nothing of it, though he felt something was connecting to his own experience when he touched the Cross and the blood-stained wood filled him with glorious, joyful, victorious exultation beyond description. Was that Shechem’s experience the maiden was trying to describe?
“But it did other things too, which made the priests and elders very, very wroth. Not only were their ancient gods’ images knocked down and utterly destroyed, but we were all, in the dreams, worshipping and adoring the God of the Jews and Messiah His Son, the Consolation of Israel! They couldn’t abide that, of course! First we lose our forefathers’ most powerful gods, then we are forced to worship the King of the Jews! Well, they wanted the ribbon, the cloth you mentioned, so that they could destroy it and thus prevent any more such unsettling dreams.”
“What else did it do?”
“I cannot name them all!” the maiden burst out. “My mother came on her knees to my father, confessing her sins against him, which he had suspected but could not prove. She begged his forgiveness! Such a thing no wife in Shechem had ever done. Then he confessed his sins to her, and they wept in each other’s arms. This happened before the eyes of us all. Before the elders could stop them, all our relatives and neighbors did the same, confessing their sins and asking forgiveness for becoming angry and getting the witches to cast spells and poxes upon them, their flocks, and their households. I told you, our great city was turned upside down! The woman Basemath had started this several years ago, when she told of the Man of God, the Prophet and Son of the Most High at the well, who knew all she ever did, telling her of her many husbands. Hearing her words, many then ran out to him and believed. But many turned back away, only changing for a day or so when the thing was fresh before our eyes. My father and mother and uncles and grandparents were of that sort. Even my elder brothers still hold to the old ways, despite all. But now we will never be the same!”
Tsedahh’s head whirled inside by this time. He could not bring himself to ask any more, but the maiden was not finished.
“Before you go, I’ll tell you where it is, if you still want it. My mother has taken it with her to Jerusalem. She said she could not be selfish and keep it only for the lost sheep of the people of Samaria, but she intended to give it as a gift to the Jews, before whom she felt impressed to confess her sin of hatred, suspicion, and evil-speaking to them and receive forgiveness. My father also said this same thing to me. Then they left for Jerusalem, charging me to keep the house for my brothers, who must guard the sheep against the rascally, thieving Ishmaelites and Midianites and the other shepherds, whom they call mad for believing. Can you hear them?”
Surprised, Tsedahh looked where she pointed. “They’re in the fields off that direction. I can hear them, you see, from the window--it’s their singing. The ones that believe in the Messiah of the Jews are constantly singing praises they’ve just made up to the Son of the Most High, the Consolation of Israel, Whom we have come to know as our Savior and God. For I am not like my brothers who are stubborn of heart. I too have become His handmaiden, though don’t tell my brothers or they’ll beat me when they come back.”
Looking sheepish over something, the girl slipped back inside, then returned with a thick slice of the household’s best cheese in a pocket bread all wrapped in a fine cloth. She smiled. “Forgive me, stranger, and take this for your journey! I was struck afraid when you knocked, and we always treated foreign wayfarers like that before the Messiah came here. I forgot Him for a moment.”
Putting the bread in his pocket, Tsedahh, in a dream of his own, later followed the road to Jerusalem. He believed the maiden’s account, and he thought, “If it is doing that much good, changing all these people to the good, then I must not take it back.”
When he reached Jerusalem, he found the Samaritan camp by asking the various groups of pilgrims. He was surprised when, on reaching the Samaritans, that guards of the Jewish temple were stopping everyone. They had formed a cordon around the entire delegation, as if leprosy had been discovered in it, rendering everyone in the vicinity ritually unclean, even if they were free of the dread disease.
“Why can’t we go through to them to the Samaritan dogs, my good fellow?” a Jewish trader asked a guard. “I’ve always done business with them when they come. What’s happened to change things? Have they committed another crime or something against the holy Temple?”
“No, not at all, but haven’t you heard?” the Temple grounds guard laughed. “They’ve caught something very bad and contagious. It affects their wits. They are all asking our--yes, our forgiveness for speaking evil of us and our ways, confessing their stubborn pride and idolatry and begging that we will pray to our God that they be shown his mercy for their evil-doing! Can you imagine anything more mad than that? No wonder the chief priests, when they heard how they were carrying on here, called us down here to see that this sickeness doesn’t spread from them to us!”
Shaking his head, the Jewish trader turned back.
Tsedahh stood, everything the maiden had said confirmed in the mocking words of the guard.
So the Samaritans must still have the ribbon, since the chief priests had prevented it being passed to the Jewish people.
Suddenly, Tsesahh felt a word, and it burst into his being with tremendous brightness and clarity.
Tsedahh lingered at the edges of the sequestered Samaritan camp, which rocked with singing and praises to God, causing a commotion in the guards who could not stop it, and the noise was attracting crowds of curious Jews who wanted to know how the Samaritans could be so joyous, particularly since they were apostate pagans and had no reason to be happy, being that they were damned to Gehenna for their idolatry, heretical teachings of the Samaritan religion, and the foul admixture of foreign bloods in their veins.
Seeing the Jews, the Samaritans threw themselves down on the ground, imploring their forgiveness. Looking on, seeing that a revolution might sweep the whole city on the heights above if this happening became know, the chief priests, who had sent spies and receiving alarming reports, appeared in in the persons of leading Pharisees to deliver strict new orders to the watch. The Samaritans, with the guards propelling them forcefully at swordpoint, were dispersed from the camp. But this only served to defeat the high priest’s strategy. The contagion and epidemic of forgiveness spread all the more as each “infected” Samartian fled, carrying the “plague” with him.
Tsedahh watched and then realized that there was chance of being able to obey the Almighty. Evidently, the ribbon was lost, for the Samaritans must have taken it.
Shaking his head, he began to walk away when he saw something bright at his feet. In a moment he snatched it up. It was! Reunited with the ribbon, Tsedahh was thrilled, for he did not forget for an instant what he was told to do, lest the Samaritans be tempted to turn back to their idolatrous ways and set up a shrine for the ribbon.
Running, he carried the ribbon up into the city, but before he reached it the winds of heaven caught him, and spun him completely round the city in a wide circuit, just as he had been flown in a circle round the Universe until every star and planet was claimed by it. Unable to put his feet back to the ground, he felt himself soaring heavenwards, so he did what he knew he must, he dropped the ribbon, and the last he saw it was falling, falling like a bright yellow bird, wings outspread and circling slowly down toward the rooftops below.
The revolution of the heart, just as it had for the cast off and despised Samaritans, had begun for the Jews. Would it find such good soil with them as it had in Samaria? Only time would tell.
As for Tsedahh, now he knew why Eternity was building the City of the Great King. Returned to the third heaven, he gazed upon the foursquare, holy and pure bridal City of Zion’s Daughters, now receiving her finishing touches. Three gates on each side, the twelve Gates were of single pearls, each four hundred miles high, before which twelve guardians would stand day and night, twelve at each gate. As he passed into the Celestial City, he saw for the first time what it all was about even though he had worked long upon it with all the others. This was the glorious, eternal residence for the Forgiven and the Forgiving and the Sanctuary of the Pierced-One Who had suffered and died to bring that Forgiveness to the sick and dying worlds of Earth. No one else would be admitted. For it was written upon it, in precious stones of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, chalcedonies, opals, amethysts, and many others unknown to Earth:
Let Mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments. Walk about Zion, and go round about her; tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces, that you may tell it to the generations following.
Tsedahh wondered about it, but even he could not pierce the veil that kept the secret of the last minute of the last hour of the last age. He could only be assured that the Ribbon, colored like Eternity’s Rose, golden yellow blushing to pink, and sown into the dark Earth, would be a part of that final act.
But Tsedahh’s strange name? Had he discovered its meaning in all his wide wandering in quest of the Tree and then the Ribbon?
He walked about the City, pondering all that he saw. Finally, in the heart of the City, where the Throne of the Most High’s Son was set, he came to the inscription set in the arching dome. Newly inscribed by the Finger of God, it ran:
“Bread”? “Provision”? Wasn’t bread the provision, the main staple food of mortal men? And wasn’t the Creator’s only Son, Yeshua, the Bread that came down from heaven for the salvation of people?
Birthed as heaven’s most humble creature, Tsedahh was nearing his own eternal Destiny’s Satisfaction and Consolation as he thought these things. “I sought Him long and far,” he considered. “And all the while I carried Him, Who is everlasting Bread and Provision, in my very name! What a God is this God!”
Swept by the realization, at that moment there was no more adoring and worshipful angel in the four heavens. Was he not called Hunter of Food? His name began with Golgotha’s cross-beamed “T,” and ended with “Food,” which was everlasting Bread and Provision--themselves never-dimming Names of the Son!
Tsedahh left the Throneroom of Pierced-One. He climbed up to the top of the tallest tower, the one that looked out across the heavens, across Eternity, and--in his mind’s eye--afforded glimpses of what had passed on Earth--the fallen pomp and glory of kings of men.
A song flashed into his spirit, and for Tsedahh it was become his own name and victory song:
Besides the name a red color flooded through his being, changing him to purest transparency of flame, and he was given transparent winglike robes that formed a living part of his now super-radiant being, and which gave his appearance majesty and grace. No longer was he strangely dim. Even without the Stones of Fire that made the Light-Bringer so magnificent when added to his personal glory, Klarion, the Keeper of the Tree of Life, shone brighter than any other creature in wide heaven that walked the continent-sized fields of golden sunflowers, flowers that stood tall as lighthouses and ringed the oceans of grace, where crystal waves of countless colors never seen by earthly eyes swept the uncharted shores.