The Brook Kerith
George Moore

Part 6 out of 8

their husbands are unknown to me, my life having been spent on the hills
with rams and ewes. As he said these words a smile came into his eyes.
The first smile I have seen on his face for many years, Hazael said to
himself, and Jesus continued: I have left my flock in charge of my
serving boy, for I have come to tell the president that he must not be
disappointed if many sheep are lost on the hills this year; robbers
having hidden themselves again in the caves and fortified themselves
among cliffs so difficult that to capture them soldiers must be let down
in chests and baskets--a perilous undertaking this is, for the robbers
are armed and determined upon revolt against Herod, who they say is not
a Jew, and holds his power in Judea from the Romans. They are robbers
inasmuch as they steal my sheep, but they are men who value their
country higher than their lives. This I know, for I have conferred with
them: and Jesus told the Essenes a story of an old man who lived in a
cave with his family of seven, all of whom besought him to allow them to
surrender to the Romans. Cowards, he said, under his breath, and made
pact with them that they should come out of the cave one by one, which
they did, and as they came he slew them and threw their bodies into the
precipice, sons and daughters, and then he slew his wife, and after
reproaching Herod with the meanness of his family, although he was then
a king, he threw himself from the cliff's edge.

It is a great story that thou tellest, Jesus, Manahem said, and it is
well to hear that there are great souls still amongst us, as in the days
of the Maccabees. However this may be, Saddoc interposed, these men in
their strife against the Romans must look to our flocks for food. Three
sheep were taken from me last night, Jesus answered, and the rest will
go one by one, two by two, three by three, unless the revolt be quelled.
And if the revolt be not quelled, Saddoc continued, the robbers will
need all we have gotten, which is little; they may even need our cave
here, and unless we join them they will cast us over the precipices. It
was to ask: are we to take up arms against these robbers that I came
hither, Jesus said. You will confer amongst yourselves, brethren, Hazael
said, and will forgive me if I withdraw: Jesus would like to speak with
me privately.

The Essenes bowed, and Hazael walked up the domed gallery with Jesus,
and as soon as they disappeared at the other end Shallum began: your
shepherd tells you the truth; the hills are once more infested with the
remains of Theudas' army. But who may Theudas be? one of the brethren
asked. So you have not heard, Shallum cried, of Theudas, and you living
here within a few miles of the track he followed with his army down to
Jordan. Little news reaches us here, Saddoc said, and he asked Shallum
to tell of Theudas, and Shallum related how Theudas had gathered a great
following together in Jerusalem and provoked a great uprising of the
people whom he called to follow him through the gates of the city, which
they did, and over the hills as far as Jordan. The current of the river,
he said, will stop, and the water rise up in a great wall as soon as I
impose my hands. We have no knowledge if the waters would have obeyed
his bidding, for before the waters had time to divide a Roman soldier
struck off the prophet's head and carried it to Jerusalem on a spear,
where the sight of it was well received by the priests, for Theudas
preached against the Temple, against the law, and the traditions as John
and his disciples had done beforetimes. A great number, he continued,
were slain by the Roman soldiers, and the rest dispersed, having hidden
themselves in the caves, and become robbers and rebels. Nor was Theudas
the last, he began again, there was another, an Egyptian, a prophet or a
sorcerer of great repute, at whose bidding the people assembled when he
announced that the walls of the city would fall as soon as he lifted up
his hands. They must follow him through the breach into the desert to
meet the day of judgment by the Dead Sea. And what befell this last
prophet? Saddoc asked. He was pursued by the Roman soldiers, Eleakim
cried, starting out of a sudden reverie. And was he taken prisoner?
Manahem asked. No, for he threw a rope into the air and climbed out of
sight, Eleakim answered. He must have been a great prophet or an angel
more like, for a prophet could not climb up a rope thrown into the air,
Caleb said. No, a prophet could not do that. But it is easier, Shaphan
snorted, to climb up a rope thrown into the air than to return to a
wife, if the flesh be always unwilling. At the words all eyes were
turned to Shaphan, who seemed to have recovered his composure. It is a
woeful thing to be wedded, he cried. But why didst thou accept a wife?
Manahem asked. Why were ye not guided by our counsels? We hoped, Shaphan
said, to bring saints into the world and we know not yet that robbers
may not be the fruit of our wives' wombs. But if the flesh was always
unwilling, Manahem answered, thou hast naught to fear. It would be
better, Shallum interrupted, to turn us adrift on the hills than that we
should return to the lake where all is disorder now. Ye are not many
here, Eleakim said, to defend yourselves against robbers, and we have
hands that can draw swords. Our president alone can say if ye may
remain, Manahem said; he is in the gallery now and coming towards us.
Our former brethren, Hazael, have renounced their wives, Manahem began,
and would return to us and help to defend our cave. You come submissive
to our wisdom? Hazael asked. The three strangers replied that they did
so, and Hazael stood, his eyes fixed on the three strangers. We will
defend you against robbers if these would seek to dispossess you of your
cave, Eleakim cried. We have but two cells vacant, Hazael said. It
matters not to us where we sleep if we sleep alone; and the president
smiling at Shaphan's earnestness said: but three more mouths to feed
will be a strain upon our stores of grain. Even though there be three
more mouths to feed, Shallum answered, there will be six more hands to
build a wall against the robbers. To build a wall against robbers?
Hazael said. It is a long while we have been dreaming of that wall; and
now it seems the time has come to hold a council. We have been speaking
of a wall to protect us against robbers ever since we came here, Manahem
cried, and Saddoc answered: we have delayed too long, we must build: the
younger brethren will reap the benefit of our toil.

We all seem to be in favour of the wall, Hazael said. Are there no
dissentients? None. For the next year or more we shall be builders
rather than interpreters of the Scriptures. Mathias will come to the
wall to discourse to us, Caleb interjected, and Saddoc answered him:
whatsoever may befall us, we are certain of one thing, we shall always
be listening to Mathias. But Mathias is a man of great learning, Caleb
replied. Of Greek learning may be, Saddoc answered. But even that is not
sure, some years ago---- But if Greek wisdom be of no value why is it
taught here? Caleb interrupted, and the old Essene answered: that Greek
wisdom was not taught in the Brook Kerith, but Greek reasoning was
applied to the interpretation of Scripture. But there will be no
occasion for Mathias' teaching for some years. Years, sayest thou,
Saddoc? Amos interjected. I spoke plainly, did I not? Saddoc answered.
If it will take us years to build the wall, Amos said, we may as well
save ourselves the trouble of becoming builders, for the robbers will be
upon us before it is high enough to keep them out; we shall lose our
lives before a half-finished wall, and methinks I might as well have
been left to my flock on the hills. Thou speakest truly, Saddoc replied,
for I doubt if thou wilt prove a better builder than thou wast a
shepherd. If my sheep were poor, thy interpretations of the Scriptures
are poorer still, Amos said, and the twain fell to quarrelling apart,
while the brethren took counsel together. If this mischief did not
befall them, and a wall twenty feet high and many feet in thickness were
raised, would they be able to store enough food in the cave to bear a
three-months' siege? And would they be able to continue the cultivation
of their figs along the terrace if robbers were at the gates? But a
siege, Manahem answered these disputants, cannot well be, for the
shepherds on the hills would carry the news of the siege to Jericho,
whence troops would be sent to our help, and at their approach the
robbers would flee into the hills. What we have to fear is not a siege,
but a sudden assault; and from a successful assault a wall will save us.
That is true, Saddoc said. And to defend the wall we must possess
ourselves of weapons, Caleb, Benjamin and Eleakim cried; and Shallum
told them that a certain hard wood, of which there was an abundance in
Jericho, could be shaped into cutlasses whereby a man's head might be
struck off at a blow.

At these words the brethren took heart, and Hazael selected Shallum for
messenger to go to Jericho for the wood, and a few days afterwards the
Essenes were busy carving cutlasses for their defence, and designing a
great wall with towers, whilst others were among the cliffs hurling down
great masses of stone out of which a wall would soon begin to rise.

And every day, an hour after sunrise, the Essenes were quarrying stone
and building their wall, and though they had designed it on a great
scale, it rose so fast that in two months they were bragging that it
would protect them against the great robber, Saulous, a pillager of many
caravans, of whom Jesus had much to say when he came down from the
hills. The wall will save you, Jesus said, from him. But who will save
my flock from Saulous, who is besieged in a cave, and comes forth at
night to seek for food for himself and his followers? But if the cave is
besieged? Caleb said, laying down his trowel. The cave has two
entrances, Jesus answered, and he told them that his belief now was that
what remained of the flock should be sent to Jerusalem for sale. The
rams, of course, should be kept, and a few of the best ewes for a flock
to be raised in happier times. These were his words one sad evening, and
they were so convincing that the builders laid down their trowels and
repaired to the vaulted gallery to sit in council. But while they sat
thinking how they might send representatives to the procurator the
robbers were preparing their own doom by seizing a caravan of more than
fifty camels laden with wheat for Jerusalem. A very welcome booty no
doubt it was considered by the robbers, but booty--was not their only
object? They hoped, as the procurator knew well, to bring about an
uprising against Roman rule by means of bread riots, and this last raid
provided him with a reason for a grand punitive expedition. Many troops
of soldiers were sent out with orders to bring all that could be taken
alive into Jerusalem for crucifixion, no mean punishment when carried
out as the procurator meditated it. He saw it in his thoughts reaching
from Jerusalem to Jericho, and a death penalty for all. Pilate's methods
of smoking the robbers out of their caves has not proved a sufficient
deterrent, he said to himself, and a smile came into his face and he
rubbed his hands when the news of the first captures was brought to him,
and every day small batches were announced. We shall wait, he said,
until we have fifty-three, the exact number of camels that were stolen,
and then the populace shall come out with me to view them. The spectacle
will perhaps quench the desire of robbery in everybody who is disposed
to look upon it as an easy way of gaining a livelihood. And the renown
of this crucifixion will spread through Judea. For three days at least
malefactors will be seen dying at distances of half-a-mile, and lest
their sufferings should inspire an attempt at rescue, a decree shall be
placed over every cross that any attempt at rescue will be punishable by
crucifixion, and to make certain that there shall be no tampering with
Roman justice, the soldiers on guard shall be given extra crosses to be
used if a comrade should cut down a robber or give him drugs to mitigate
his agony. And all this was done as had been commanded. The robbers were
exposed at once on the road from Jerusalem, and it was on the first day
of the great crucifixion that Jesus, coming round the shoulder of the
hill with his flock, was brought to a sudden stop before a group of

These, about six or seven hours, a Roman soldier said, in answer to
Jesus' question as to the length of time they had been on their crosses,
not more than six hours, the soldier repeated, and he turned to his
comrade for confirmation of his words. Put a lance into my side, a
robber cried out, and God will reward thee in heaven. Thou hast not
ceased to groan since the first hour. But put a lance into my side, the
robber cried again. I dare not, the soldier answered. Thou'lt hang
easier to-morrow. But all night I shall suffer; put a lance into my
side, for my heart is like a fire within me. And do the same for me,
cried the robbers hanging on either side. All night long, cried the
first robber, the pain and the ache and the torment will last; if not a
lance, give me wine to drink, some strong, heady wine that will dull the
pain. Thy brethren bear the cross better than thou. Take courage and
bear thy pain. I was not a robber because I wished it, my house was set
on fire as many another to obtain recruits. Yon shepherd is no better
than I. Why am I on the cross and not he? His turn may come, who knows,
though he stands so happy among his sheep. To-night he will sleep in a
cool cavern, but I shall linger in pain. Give me drink and I will tell
thee where the money we have robbed is hidden. The money may not be in
the cave, and if it be we might not be able to find it, the soldier
answered; and the crucified cried down to him that he could make plain
the spot. The soldier was not, however, to be bribed, and they told the
crucified that the procurator was coming out to visit the crosses on the
morrow, and would be disappointed if he found dead men upon them instead
of dying men. Shepherd, the soldiers will not help us, canst thou not
help us? Happy shepherd, that will sleep to-night amongst thy sheep.
Come by night and give us poison when these soldiers are asleep. We
will reward thee. Lift not thy hand against Roman justice, the soldier
said to Jesus, lest thou takest his place on the cross. Such are our

Jesus hurried away through the hills, pursued by memories of the
crucified robbers, and he went on and on, with the intent of escaping
from their cries and faces, till, unable to walk farther, he stopped,
and, looking round, saw the tired sheep, their eyes mutely asking him
why he had come so far, passing by so much good herbage without halting.
Poor sheep, he said, I had forgotten you, but there is yet an hour of
light before folding-time. Go, seek the herbage among the rocks. My
dogs, too, are tired, he added, and want water, and when he had given
them some to drink he sat down, hoping that the crucified might not
return to his eyes and ears. But he need not have hoped: he was too
tired to think of what he had seen and heard, and sat in peace watching
the sunset till, as in a vision, a man in a garden, in an agony of
doubt, appeared to him. He was betrayed by a disciple and taken before
the priests and afterwards before Pilate, who ordered him to be scourged
and crucified, and beneath his cross the multitude passed, wagging their
heads, inviting him to descend if he could detach himself from the
nails. A veil fell and when it was lifted Joseph was bending over him,
and soon after was carrying him to his house. The people of that time
rose up before him: Esora, Matred, and the camel-driver, the scent of
whose sheepskin had led him back to his sheep, and he had given himself
to their service with profit to himself, for it had kept his thoughts
from straying backwards or forwards, fixing them in the present. He had
lived in the ever-fleeting present for many years--how many? The
question awoke him from his reverie, and he sat wondering how it was he
could think so quietly of things that he had put out of his mind
instinctively, till he seemed to himself to be a man detached as much
from hope as from regret. It was through such strict rule that I managed
to live through the years behind me, he said; I felt that I must never
look back, but in a moment of great physical fatigue the past returned,
and it lies before me now, the sting taken out of it, like the evening
sky in tranquil waters. Even the memory that I once believed myself to
be the Messiah promised to the Jews ceases to hurt; what we deem
mistakes are part and parcel of some great design. Nothing befalls but
by the will of God. My mistakes! why do I speak of them as mistakes, for
like all else they were from the beginning of time, and still are and
will be till the end of time, in the mind of God. His thoughts continued
to unroll, it was not long before he felt himself thinking that the
world was right to defend itself against those that would repudiate it.
For the world, he said to himself, cannot be else than the world, a
truth that was hidden from me in those early days. The world does not
belong to us, but to God. It was he that made it, and it is for him to
unmake it when he chooses and to remake us if he chooses. Meanwhile we
should do well to accept his decrees and to talk no more of destroying
the Temple and building it up again in three days. Nor should we trouble
ourselves to reprove the keepers of the Temple for having made
themselves a God according to their own image and likeness, with
passions like a man and angers like a man, thereby falling into
idolatry, for what else is our God but an Assyrian king who sits on a
throne and metes out punishments and rewards? It may be that the priests
will some day come into the knowledge that all things are equal in God's
sight, and that he is not to be won by sacrifices, observances or
prayers, that he has no need of these things, not even of our love, or
it may be that they will remain priests. But though God desires neither
sacrifices, observances, nor even love, it cannot be that we are wholly
divorced from God. It may be that we are united to him by the daily
tasks which he has set us to perform.

Jesus was moved to put his pipes to his lips, and the sheep returned to
him and followed him into the cavern in which they were to sleep that


It is a great joy to return to thought after a long absence from it, and
Jesus was not afraid, though once his conscience asked him if he were
justified in yielding himself unreservedly to reason. A man's mind, he
answered, like all else, is part of the Godhead; and at that moment he
heard God speaking to him out of the breeze. My beloved son, he said, we
shall never be separated from each other again. And Jesus replied: not
again, Father, for thou hast returned to me the God that I once knew in
Nazareth and in the hills above Jericho, and lost sight of as soon as I
began to read the Book of Daniel. How many, he asked himself, have been
led by reading that book into the belief that they were the precursors
of the Messiah? We know of Theudas and the Egyptian, and there were many
others whose names have not reached us. But I alone believed myself to
be the Messiah. He was astonished he could remember so great a sin and
not fear God. But I cannot fear God, for I love God, he said; my God
neither forgives nor punishes, and if we repent it should be for our own
sakes and not to please God. Moreover, it must be well not to waste too
much time in repentance, for it is surely better to understand than to
repent. We learn through our sins. If it had not been for mine, I
should not have learnt that quires and scrolls lead men from God, and
that to see and hear God we have only to open our eyes and ears. God is
always about us. We hear him in the breeze, and we find him in the
flower. He is in these things as much as he is in man, and all things
are equal in his sight; Solomon is no greater than Joshbekashar.

He had not remembered the old shepherd, who had taught him all he knew
about sheep, for many a day. It is nigh on five and forty years, he said
to himself, since he called me to hold the ewes while he made them clean
for the winter. It was in yon cave the flock was folded when I laid
hands on the ewes for the first time and dragged them forward for him to
clip the wool from the rumps. He could see in his memory each different
ewe trotting away, looking as if she were thankful for the shepherd's
kind office towards her. There was something extraordinarily restful in
his memory of old Joshbekashar, and to prolong it Jesus fell to
recalling the old man's words; and every little disjointed sentence
raised up the old man before him. It was but three times that I held the
ewes for him, so it cannot be much more than forty years since that
first clipping. Now I come to think on it, the clipping befell on a day
like to-day. We'll clip our ewes to-day, and it was with a sense of
memorial service in his mind that he called to young Jacob to come to
his aid, saying: Joshbekashar's flock was always folded in yon cave for
this clipping, the only change is that I am the clipper and thou'rt
holding them for me. There are forty-five to be clipped, and just the
same as before each ewe will trot away into the field looking as if she
were thankful at having been made clean for the winter. On these words
both fell to their work, and the cunning hand spent no more than a
minute over each. Stooping over ewes makes one's back ache, he said,
rising from the last one, using the very same words he heard forty years
before from Joshbekashar: time brings back the past! he said. We repeat
the words of those that have gone before while doing their work; and it
is likely we are doing God's work as well by making the ewes clean for
the winter as by cutting their throats in the Temple. All the same
stooping over ewes makes one's back ache, he repeated, for the words
evoked the old shepherd, and he waited for Jacob to answer in the words
spoken by him forty years ago to Joshbekashar. Himself had forgotten his
words, but he thought he would recognise them if Jacob were inspired to
speak them. But Jacob kept silence for shame's sake, for his hope was
that the flock would be given to his charge as soon as old age obliged
Jesus to join his brethren in the cenoby.

Thou'lt be sorry for me, lad, I know that well, but thou hast begun to
look forward to the time when thou'lt walk the hills at the head of the
flock like another; it is but proper that thou shouldst, and it is but
natural that the time should seem long to thee; but take on a little
patience, this much I can vouch for, every bone in me was aching when I
left the cavern this morning, and my sight is no longer what it was.
Master Jesus, I'd as lief wait; the hills will be naught without thee.
Dost hear me, Master? Jesus smiled and dropped back into his meditations
and from that day onward very little sufficed to remind him that he
would end his days in the cenoby reading the Scriptures and interpreting
them. In the cenoby, he said, men do not think, they only read, but in
the fields a shepherd need never lose sight of the thought that leads
him. A good shepherd can think while watching his sheep, and as the
flock was feeding in good order, he took up the thread of a thought to
which he had become attached since his discovery that signs and sounds
of God's presence are never lacking on earth. As God's constant
companion and confidant he had come to comprehend that the world of
nature was a manifestation of the God he knew in himself. I know myself,
he said one day, but I do not know the God which is above, for he seems
to be infinite; nor do I know nature, which is beyond me, for that, too,
seems to run into infinite, but infinite that is not that of God. A few
moments later it seemed to him he might look upon himself as an islet
between two infinities. But to which was he nearer in eternity? Ah, if
he knew that! And it was then that a conviction fell upon him that if he
remained on the hills he would be able to understand many things that
were obscure to him to-day. It will take about two years, he said, and
then many things that are dark will become clear. Two infinites, God and
nature. At that moment a ewe wandering near some scrub caught his
attention. A wolf, he said, may be lurking there. I must bring her back;
and he put a stone into his sling. A wolf is lurking there, he
continued, else Gorbotha would not stand growling. Gorbotha, a
golden-haired dog, like a wolf in build, stood snuffing the breeze,
whilst Thema, his sister, sought her master's hand. A moment after the
breeze veered, bringing the scent to her, and the two dogs dashed
forward into the scrub without finding either wolf or jackal lying in
wait. All the same, he said, a wolf or a jackal must have been lying
there, and not long ago, or else the dogs would not have growled and
rushed to the onset as they did.

They returned perplexed and anxious to their master, who resumed his
meditation, saying to himself that if aching bones obliged him to return
to the cenoby he would have to give up thinking. For one only thinks
well in solitude and when one thinks for oneself alone; but in the
cenoby the brethren think together. All the same my life on the hills is
not over yet, and an hour later he put his pipes to his lips and led his
flock to different hills, for, guided by some subtle sense, he seemed to
divine the springing up of new grass; and the shepherds, knowing of this
instinct for pasturage, were wont to follow him, and he was often at
pains to elude them, for on no hillside is there grass enough for many

My poor sheep, he said, as he watched them scatter over a grassy
hillside. Ye're happy this springtime for ye do not know that your
shepherd is about to be taken from you. But he has suffered too much in
the winter we've come out of to remain on the hills many more years.
Before leaving you he must discover a shepherd that will care for you as
well as I have done. Amos is dead; there is no one in the cenoby that
understands sheep. Would ye had speech to counsel me. But tell me, what
would ye say if I were to leave you in Jacob's charge? He stood waiting,
as if he expected the sheep to answer, and it was then it began to seem
to Jesus he might as well entrust his flock to Jacob as to another.

He had sent him out that morning with twenty lambs that were yet too
young to run with the flock, and he now stood waiting for him, thinking
that if he lost none between this day and the end of the summer, the
flock might be handed over to him. Every young man's past is tarnished,
he continued, for he could not forget that Jacob had begun by losing his
master's dogs, two had been killed by panthers. Nor was this the only
misfortune that had befallen him. Having heard that rain had fallen in
the west, he set out for Caesarea to redeem his credit, he hoped, but at
the end of the fourth day he could find no cavern in which to fold his
sheep, and he lay down in the open, surrounded by his flock,
unsuspicious that a pack of wolves had been trailing him from cavern to
cavern since he left the Jordan valley--the animals divining that their
chance would come at last. It would have been better, Jacob said, if the
wolves had fallen upon him, for after this disaster no one would employ
him, and he had wandered an outcast, living on the charity of shepherds,
sharing a little of their bread. But such charity could not last long
and he would have had to sit with the beggars by the wayside above
Jericho if Jesus had not given his lambs into his charge, by this act
restoring to Jacob some of his lost faith in himself. He had gone away
saying to himself: Jesus, who knows more than all the other shepherds
put together, holds me to be no fool, and one day I'll be trusted again
with a flock. I'm young and can wait, and, who knows, Jesus may tell me
his cure for the scab, and by serving him I may get a puppy when Thema
has a litter. In such wise Jacob looked to Jesus and Thema for future
fortune, and as he came over the ridge and caught sight of Jesus waiting
for him, he said: call up thy dogs, Master, lest they should fall upon
mine and upon me. Gorbotha has already risen to his feet and Thema is

Jesus laid his staff across their backs. What, will ye attack Jacob, he
cried, and what be your quarrel with his dogs? Poor Syrian dogs, Jacob
answered, that would be quickly killed by thine. If I had had dogs like
Gorbotha and Thema the wolves would not---- But, Jacob, thou wouldst
have lost thy dogs as well as thy sheep. What stand could any dogs make
against a pack of wolves, and a shepherd without dogs is like a bird
without wings, as Brother Amos used to say. Yes, that is just it, Jacob
replied, struck by the aptness of the comparison. Thou art known, Jesus,
to be the most foreseeing shepherd on the hills; but the flock would not
have increased without thy dogs. Abdiel is great in his knowledge of
dogs, and he told me that he had never known any like thine, Master.
Come now, Thema, Jesus cried. Come, lie down here; lay thy muzzle
against my knee. And growl not at Jacob or I'll send thee away. So
Abdiel spoke of my dogs! They are well enough, one can work with them.
But I've had better dogs. Whereupon Jesus told a story how one night he
had lain under a fair sky to sleep and had slept so soundly that the
rain had not wakened him, but Boreth--that was the dog's
name--distressed at the sight of me lying in the rain, began to lick my
face, and when I had wrung out my cloak he led me to a dry cave unknown
to me, though I thought I knew every one in these hills. He must have
gone in search of one as soon as it began to rain, and when he found a
dry one he came back to awaken me. More faithful dogs, he said, there
never were than these at my feet, but I've known stronger and fiercer.
But I'd tell thee another story of Boreth, and he related how one night
in December as he watched, having for his protection only Boreth (his
other dogs, Anos and Torbitt, being at home, one with a lame paw, the
other with puppies), he had fallen asleep, though he knew robbers were
about in the hills, especially in the winter months, he said; but I knew
I could count on Boreth to awake me if one came to steal the sheep. Now
what I'm about to say, Jacob, happened at the time of the great rain of
December, when the nights are dark about us. I was sleeping in a
sheltered place in the coign of a cliff, the flock was folded and Boreth
was away upon his rounds, and it was then that two robbers stole into
the cave. One was about to plunge his dagger into me, but I had time to
catch his wrist and to whistle; and in a few seconds Boreth leapt upon
the robber that was seeking to stab me. He bit his neck and shoulder;
and then, leaving that robber disabled, he attacked the robber's mate,
and it was wonderful how he crept round and round in the darkness,
biting him all the time, and then pursuing the two he worried them up
the valley until his heart misgave him and he thought it wouldn't be
safe to leave me alone any longer. But Gorbotha would defend thee
against a robber, Jacob said, and he called to the dog, but Gorbotha
only growled at him. Have patience with them, Jesus rejoined; I'll not
feed them for three days, and after feeding them thou'lt take them to
the hills, and when they have coursed and killed a jackal for thee it
may be that they'll accept thee for master. But these Thracians rarely
love twice. Come, Jacob, and we'll look into thy flock of lambs and take
counsel together. They seem to be doing fairly well with thee--a bit
tired, I dare say thou hast come a long way with them. We walked too
fast, Jacob answered, saying he had had to go farther than he thought
for in search of grass, and had found some that was worth the distance
they had journeyed, for the lambs had fallen to nibbling at once. Fell
to nibbling at once, did they? Jesus repeated When they're folded with
the ewes, thou'lt put into their jaws a stick to keep them from sucking.
And without waiting for Jacob to answer he asked which of all these
lambs he would choose to keep for breeding from. Jacob pointed out first
one and then another; but Jesus shook his head and showed him a lamb
which Jacob had not cast his eyes over and said: one may not say for
certain, but I shall be surprised if he doesn't come into a fine,
broad-shouldered ram, strong across the loins and straight on his legs,
the sort to get lambs that do well on these hills. And thou'lt be well
advised to leave him on his dam another hundred days; shear him, for it
will give him strength to take some wool from him, but do not take it
from his back, for he will want the wool there to protect him from the
sun. And all the first year he will skip about with the ewes and jump
upon them, but it will be only play, for his time has not yet come; in
two more years he'll be at his height, serving ten ewes a day; but keep
him not over-long; thou must always have some new rams preparing, else
thy flock will decline. The ram thou seest on the right is old, and must
soon be replaced. But the white ram yonder is still full of service: a
better I've never known. The white ram is stronger than the black,
though the black ewe will turn from him and seek a ram of her own
colour. I've known a white ram so ardent for a black ewe that he fought
the black ram till their skulls cracked. Master, it is well to listen to
thee, Jacob interrupted, for none knows sheep like thee, but as none
will ever give me charge of a flock again, thy teaching is wasted upon
me. Look to the ewes' teeth, Jacob, and to their udders; see that the
udders are sound. Master, never before didst thou mock at me, who am for
my misfortunes the mocking-stock of all these fields. In what have I
done wrong? That my lambs are a bit tired is all thou hast to blame me
for to-day. Jacob, I'm not mocking at thee, but looking forward a
little, for time is on thy side and will soon put thee in charge of a
flock again. Time is on my side, Jacob repeated. If I understand thee
rightly, Master, thy meaning is, that the hills are beginning to weary
thee. Look into my beard, Jacob, and see how much grey hair is in it,
and my gait is slower than it used to be, a stiffness has come upon me
that will not wear out, and my eyes are not as keen as they were, and
when I see in thee a wise shepherd, between the spring and autumn, it
may be that Hazael, our president, at my advice, will entrust my flock
to thy charge.


So thou thinkest, Eliab, that the autumn rains will make an end of him.
And maybe of thee too, Bozrah, Eliab returned. A hard life ours is, even
for the young ones. Hard bread by day and at night a bed of stones, a
hard life from the beginning one that doesn't grow softer, and to end in
a lion's maw at fifty is the best we can hope for. For us, perhaps,
Bozrah answered; but Jesus will go up to the cenoby among the rocks and
die amongst the brethren reading the Scriptures. If the autumn rains
don't make an end of him, Eliab interjected testily, as if he did not
like his forecast of Jesus' death to be called into question. As I was
saying, a shepherd's life is a hard one, and when the autumn rains make
an end of him, the brethren will be on the look-out for another
shepherd, and there's not one amongst them that would bring half the
flock entrusted to him into the fold at the end of the year. The best of
us lose sheep: what with----

The flock will go to Jacob, the lad he's been training to follow him
ever since his friend was killed, Havilah remarked timidly. Eliab and
Bozrah raised their eyes, and looked at Havilah in surprise, for a
sensible remark from Havilah was an event, and to their wonder they
found themselves in agreement with Havilah. The flock would go to Jacob
without doubt. Of course, Havilah cried, excited by the success of his
last remark, he be more than fifty. Thou mightst put five years more to
the fifty and not be far wrong, Bozrah interposed. Havilah was minded to
speak again, but his elders' looks made him feel that they had heard him
sufficiently. Now, Bozrah, how many years dost thou make it since Joseph
of Arimathea was killed? How many years? Bozrah repeated. I can't tell
thee how many years, but many years.... Stay, I can mark the date down
for thee. It was about ten years before Theudas (wasn't that his name?)
led the multitude over these hills. A great riot that was surely--fires
lighted at the side of the woods for the roasting of our lambs, and
many's the fine wood that was turned to blackened stems and sad ashes in
those days. It comes back to me now, Eliab interjected. Theudas was the
name. I'd forgotten it for the moment. He led the multitude to Jordan,
and while he was bidding the waters divide to let him across the Romans
had his head off. It was nigh ten years before that rioting Gaddi's
partner was killed in Jerusalem. I believe thee to be right, Bozrah
replied, and they talked of the different magicians and messiahs that
were still plaguing the country, stirring them up against the Romans.
But, cried Bozrah suddenly, the story comes back to me. Not getting any
news of his friend, Jesus left his flock with Jacob, and came down to
the pass between the hills where the road descends to the lake to
inquire from the beggars if they had seen Gaddi's partner on his way to
Jerusalem or Jericho, and seeing the lepers and beggars gathering about
Jesus, I came down to hear what was being said, but before I got as far
I saw Jesus turn away and walk into the hills. It was from the beggars
and lepers that I heard that Joseph had been killed in the streets of
Jerusalem. Thou knowest how long beggars take to tell a story; Jesus
was far away before they got to the end of it, simple though it was. I'd
have gone after him if they'd been quicker. More of the story I don't
know. It was just as thou sayest, mate, Eliab answered, and thou'lt bear
me out that it was some months after, maybe six or seven, that Jesus was
seen again leading the flock. I remember the day I saw him, for wasn't I
near to rubbing my eyes lest they might be deceiving me--I remember,
Eliab continued, it comes back to me as it does to thee, for within two
years he had gathered another handsome flock about him. A fine shepherd,
Havilah said. None better to be found on the hills. Thou speakest well,
Eliab answered him, and for thee to speak well twice in the same day is
well-nigh a miracle. Belike thou'lt awake one morning to find thyself
the Messiah Israel is waiting for, so great is thy advancement of late
in good sense. Havilah turned aside, and Eliab, divining his wounded
spirit, sought to make amends by offering him some bread and garlic, but
Havilah went away, a melancholy, heavy-shouldered young man, one that,
Eliab said, must feel life cruelly, knowing himself as he must have done
from the beginning to be what is known as a good-for-nothing. And it was
soon after Havilah's departure that Jesus returned to the shepherds and,
stopping in front of Eliab and Bozrah, he said: I've come back, mates,
to give you my thanks for many a year of good-fellowship. So the time
has come for us to lose thee, mate, Eliab answered. We are sorry for it,
though it isn't altogether unlocked for. We were saying not many moments
ago, Bozrah interjected, that the life on the hills is no life for a man
when he has gone fifty, and thou'lt not see fifty again: no, and not by
three years, Jesus answered. It was just about fifty years that the
feeling began to come over me that I couldn't fight another winter, and
to think of Jacob, who is waiting for a flock, and he may as well have
mine during my life as wait for my death to get it. Better so, said
Eliab, whose wont it was to strike his word in whenever the speaker
paused. He did not always wait for the speaker to pause, and this trick
being known to Bozrah, he said, and by all accounts thou hast made a
true shepherd of him, passing over to him all thy knowledge. A lad of
good report, Jesus answered, who had fallen on a hard master, a thing
that has happened to all of us in our time, Bozrah interjected. He's not
the first that fell out of favour, for that his ewes hadn't given as
many lambs as they might have done. Nor was there anything of neglect in
it, but such a bit of ill luck as might run into any man or any man
might run up against. He was told, said Eliab, who could not bear anyone
to tell a story but himself, that though he were to bring the parts of
the sheep the wolf had left behind to his master he would have to seek
another master. Such severity frightens the shepherd, and the wolf
smells out the frightened shepherd, Jesus said, and he told his mates
that he had not found Jacob lacking in truthfulness nor in natural
discernment, and he asked them to give all their protection to Jacob,
who will, he said, go forth in charge of our flock to-morrow.

The shepherds said again that they were sorry to lose Jesus, and that
the hills would not seem like the hills without him, and Jesus answered
that he, too, would be lonely among the brethren reading the Scriptures.
When one is used to sheep one misses them sorely, Eliab said, there's
always something to learn from them; and he began to tell a story; but
before he had come to the end of it Jesus' thoughts took leave of the
story he was listening to, and he turned away, leaving the shepherd with
his half-finished story, and walked absorbed in his thoughts, immersed
in his own mind, till he had reached the crest of the next hill and was
within some hundred yards of the brook. It was then that he remembered
he had left them abruptly in the middle of a half-finished relation, and
he stopped to consider if he should return to them and ask for the end
of the story. But fearing they would think he was making a mocking-stock
of them, he sighed, and was vexed that they had parted on a seeming lack
of courtesy: on no seeming lack, on a very clear lack, he said to
himself; but it would be useless to return to them; they would not
understand, and a man had always better return to his own thoughts.
Repent, repent, he said, picking up the thread of his thoughts, but
acknowledgment comes before repentance, and of what help will repentance
be, for repentance changes nothing, it brings nothing unless grief
peradventure. I was in the hands of God then just as I am now, and
everything within and without us is in his hands. The things that we
look upon as evil and the things that we look upon as good. Our sight is
not his sight, our hearing is not his hearing, we must despise nothing,
for all things come from him, and return to him. I used, he said, to
despise the air I breathed, and long for the airs of paradise, but what
did these longings bring me?--grief. God bade us live on earth and we
bring unhappiness upon ourselves by desiring heaven. Jesus stopped, and
looking through the blue air of evening, he could see the shepherds
eating their bread and garlic on the hillside. Folding-time is near, he
said to himself, but I shall never fold a flock again....

His thoughts began again, flowing like a wind, as mysteriously, arising
he knew not whence, nor how, his mind holding him as fast as if he were
in chains, and he heard from within that he had passed through two
stages--the first was in Jerusalem, when he preached against the priests
and their sacrifices. God does not desire the blood of sheep, but our
love, and all ritual comes between us and God ... God is in the heart,
he had said, and he had spoken as truly as a man may speak of the
journey that lies before him on the morning of the first day.

In the desert he had looked for God in the flowers that the sun called
forth and in the clouds that the wind shepherded, and he had learnt to
prize the earth and live content among his sheep, all things being
the gift of God and his holy will. He had not placed himself above the
flowers and grasses of the earth, nor the sheep that fed upon them, nor
above the men that fed upon the sheep. He had striven against the memory
of his sin, he had desired only one thing, to acknowledge his sin, and
to repent. But it seemed to him that anger and shame and sorrow, and
desire of repentance had dropped out of his heart. It seemed to him as
he turned and pursued his way that some new thought was striving to
speak through him. Rites and observances, all that comes under the name
of religion estranges us from God, he repeated. God is not here, nor
there, but everywhere: in the flower, and in the star, and in the earth
underfoot. He has often been at my elbow, God or this vast Providence
that upholds the work; but shall we gather the universal will into an
image and call it God?--for by doing this do we not drift back to the
starting-point of all our misery? We again become the dupes of illusion
and desire; God and his heaven are our old enemies in disguise. He who
yields himself to God goes forth to persuade others to love God, and
very soon his love of God impels him to violent words and cruel deeds.
It cannot be else, for God is but desire, and whosoever yields to desire
falls into sin. To be without sin we must be without God.

Jesus stood before the door of the cenoby, startled at the thoughts that
had been put into his mind, asking himself if any man had dared to ask
himself if God were not indeed the last uncleanliness of the mind.


If thou wouldst not miss Mathias' discourse, Brother Jesus, thou must
hasten thy steps. He is telling that the Scriptures are but allegories.
Some of us are opposed to this view, believing that Adam and Eve
are--Yea, Brother, and my thanks to thee for thy admonishment, Jesus
said, for he did not wish to discredit Mathias' reputation for
theological argument; but no sooner was he out of sight of the
gate-keeper than he began to examine the great rock that Joseph had
predicted would one day come crashing down, and, being no wise in a
hurry, fell to wondering how much of the mountain-side it would bring
with it when it fell. At present it projected over the pathway for
several yards, making an excellent store-house, and, his thoughts
suspended between the discussion that was proceeding regarding Adam and
Eve--whether the original twain had ever lived or were but allegories
(themselves and their garden)--he began to consider if the brethren had
laid in a sufficient stock of firewood, and how long it would take him
to chop it into pieces handy for burning. He would be glad to relieve
the brethren from all such humble work, and for taking it upon himself
he would he able to plead an excuse for absenting himself from Mathias'
discourses. Hazael would not refuse to assign to him the task of feeding
the doves and the cleaning out of their coops; he would find occupation
among the vines and fig-trees--he was something of a gardener--and
Hazael would not refuse him permission to return to the hills to see
that all was well with the flocks. Jacob will need to be looked after;
and there are the dogs; and if they cannot be brought to look upon Jacob
as master their lives will be wasted, he said.

I seem to read supper in their eyes, he said, and having tied them up
supperless he visited the bitch and her puppies. Brother Ozias hasn't
forgotten to feed her. There is some food still in the platter. But they
must submit, he continued, his thoughts having returned to his dogs,
Theusa and Tharsa, and then he stood listening, for he could hear
Mathias' voice. The door of the lecture-room is closed; if I step softly
none will know that I have returned from the hills, and I can sit
unsuspected on the balcony till Mathias' allegories are ended, and
watching the evening descending on the cliff it may be that I shall be
able to examine the thoughts that assailed me as I ascended the
hillside; whether we pursue a corruptible or an incorruptible crown the
end is the same, he said. It was not enough for me to love God, I must
needs ask others to worship him, at first with words of love, and when
love failed I threatened, I raved; and the sin I fell into others will
fall into, for it s natural to man to wish to make his brother like
himself, thereby undoing the work of God. Myself am no paragon; I
condemned the priests whilst setting myself up as a priest, and spoke of
God and the will of God though in all truth I had very little more
reason than they to speak of these things. God has not created us to
know him, or only partially through our consciousness of good and evil.
Good and evil do not exist in God's eyes as in our eyes, for he is the
author of all, but it may be that our sense of good and evil was given
to us by him as a token of our divine nature. If this be true, why
should we puzzle and fret ourselves with distinctions like Mathias? It
were better to leave the mystery and attend to this life, casting out
desire to know what God is or what nature is, as well as desire for
particular things in this world which long ago I told men to
disregard.... A flight of doves distracted his attention, and a moment
after the door of the lecture-room opened and Saddoc and Manahem
appeared, carrying somebody dead or who had fainted. As they came across
the domed gallery towards the embrasure Jesus heard Manahem say: he will
return to himself as soon as we get him into the air. And they placed
him where Jesus had been sitting. A little water, Saddoc cried, and
Jesus ran to the well, and returning with a cup of water he stood by
sprinkling the worn, grey face. The heat overcame me, he murmured, but I
shall soon be well and then you will bear me back to hear--The sentence
did not finish, and Jesus said: thou'lt be better here with me, Hazael,
than listening to discourses that fatigue the mind. Mathias is very
insistent, Manahem muttered. He is indeed, Saddoc answered. And while
Jesus sat by Hazael, fearing that his life might go out at any moment,
Manahem reproved Saddoc, saying that whereas duty is the cause of all
good, we have only to look beyond our own doors to see evil everywhere.
Even so, Saddoc answered, what wouldst thou? That the world, Manahem
answered, was created by good and evil angels. Whereupon Saddoc asked
him if he numbered Lilith, Adam's first wife, among the evil angels. A
question Manahem did not answer, and, being eager to tell the story, he
turned to Jesus, who he guessed did not know it, and began at once to
tell it, after warning Jesus that it was among their oldest stories
though not to be found in the Scriptures. She must be numbered among the
evil angels, he said, remembering that Saddoc had put the question to
him, for she rebuked Adam, who took great delight in her hair, combing
it for his pleasure from morn to eve in the garden, and left him, saying
she could abide him no longer. At which words, Jesus, Adam sorrowed, and
his grief was such that God heard his sighs and asked him for what he
was grieving, and he said: I live in great loneliness, for Lilith, O
Lord, has left me, and I beg thee to send messengers who will bring her
back. Whereupon God took pity on his servant Adam and bade his three
angels, Raphael, Gabriel and Michael, to go away at once in search of
Lilith, whom they found flying over the sea, and her answer to them was
that her pleasure was now in flying, and for that reason I will not
return to Adam, she said. Is that the answer we are to bring back to
God? they asked. I have no other answer for him, she answered, being in
a humour in which it pleased her to anger God, and the anger that her
words put upon him was so great that to punish her he set himself to the
creation of a lovely companion for Adam. Be thou lonely no more, he said
to Adam. See, I have given Eve to thee. Adam was never lonely again, but
walked through a beautiful garden, enjoying Eve's beauty unceasingly,
happy as the day was long, till tidings of their happiness reached
Lilith, who by that time had grown weary of flying from sea to sea: I
will make an end of it, she said, and descending circle by circle she
went about seeking the garden, which she found at last, but failing to
find the gate or any gap in the walls she sat down and began combing her
hair. Nor was she long combing it before Lucifer, attracted by the
rustling, came by, saying: I would be taken captive in the net thou
weavest with thy hair, and she answered: not yet; for my business is in
yon garden, but into it I can find no way. Wilt lend me thy sinewy
shape, Lucifer? for in it I shall be able to glide over the walls and
coil myself into the tree of forbidden fruit, and I shall persuade Eve
as she passes to eat of it, for it will be to her great detriment to do
so. But of what good will that be to me? Lucifer answered, wouldst thou
leave me without a shape whilst thou art tempting Eve? Thy reward will
be that I will come to thee again when I have tempted Eve and made an
end of her happiness. We shall repeople the world with sons and
daughters more bright and beautiful and more supple than any that have
ever been seen yet. All the same, Lucifer answered, not liking to part
with his shape. But as his desire could not be gainsaid, he lent his
shape to Lilith for an hour. And it was in that hour our first parents
fell into sin, and were chased from the garden. Did she return to
Lucifer and fulfil her promise or did she cheat him? Saddoc asked. As
Manahem was about to answer Saddoc intervened again: Manahem, thou
overlookest the fact that Mathias holds that the Garden of Eden and Adam
and Eve, to say nothing of Lilith, are a parable, and his reason for
thinking thus is, as thou knowest well, that the Scriptures tell us that
after eating of the forbidden fruit Adam and Eve sought to hide
themselves from God among the trees.

He holds as thou sayest, Saddoc, that the garden means the mind of man
as an individual; and he who would escape from God flees from himself,
for our lives are swayed between two powers: the mind of the universe,
which is God, and the separate mind of the individual. Then, if I
understand thee rightly, Manahem, and thy master, Mathias, the
Scriptures melt into imagery? What says Jesus? This, Saddoc, that it was
with such subtleties of discourse and lengthy periods that Mathias
fatigued our Father till he fainted away in his chair. Jesus is right,
Manahem answered; it was certainly Mathias' discourse that fatigued our
Father, so why should we prolong the argument in his face while he is
coming back to life?

It was not the length of Mathias' discourse, nor his eloquence, Hazael
said, that caused my senses to swoon away. My age will not permit me to
listen long. I would be with Jesus, and I would that ye, Saddoc and
Manahem, return to the lecture-room at once, else our brother will think
his discourse has failed. Jesus is here to give the attendance I
require. Go, hasten, lest ye miss any of his points. The brethren were
about to raise a protest, but at a sign from Jesus they obeyed; Mathias'
voice was heard as soon as the door of the lecture-room was opened, but
the brethren did not forget to close it, and when silence came again
Hazael said: Jesus, come hither, sit near me, for I would speak to thee,
but cannot raise my voice. Thou'lt sleep here to-night, and to-morrow we
shall meet again. And this is well, for my days are numbered. I shall
not be here to see next year's lambs and to agree that this new shepherd
shall be recompensed by a gift of eighteen, as is the custom. And Jesus,
understanding that the president was prophesying his own death, said:
why speakest like this to me who have returned from the hills to
strangers, for all are strangers to me but thou. I shall be sorry to
leave thee, Jesus, for our lives have been twisted together, strands of
the same rope. But it must be plain to thee that I am growing weaker;
month by month, week by week, my strength is ebbing. I am going out; but
for what reason should I lament that God has not chosen to retain me a
few months longer, since my life cannot be prolonged for more than a few
months? My eighty odd years have left me with barely strength enough to
sit in the doorway looking back on the way I have come. Every day the
things of this world grow fainter, and life becomes to me an unreal
thing, and myself becomes unreal to those around me; only to thee do I
retain anything of my vanished self. So why should I remain? For thy
sake, lest thou be lonely here? Well, that is reason enough, and I will
bear the burden of life as well as I can for thy sake. A burden it is,
and for a reason that thou mayest not divine, for thou art still a young
man in my eyes, and, moreover, hast not lived under a roof for many
years listening to learned interpretations of Scripture. Thou hast not
guessed, nor wilt thou ever guess, till age reveals it to thee, that as
we grow old we no longer concern ourselves to love God as we used to
love him. No one would have thought, not even thou, whose mind is always
occupied with God, and who is more conscious of him perhaps than any one
I have known, no one, I say, not even thou, would have thought that as
we approach death our love of God should grow weaker, but this is so. In
great age nothing seems to matter, and it is this indifference that I
wish to escape from. Thou goest forth in the morning to lead thy flock
in search of pasture, if need be many hours, and God is nearer to us in
the wilderness than he is among men. This meaning, Jesus said, that
under this roof I, too, may cease to love God? Not cease to love God:
one doesn't cease to love God, Hazael answered. But, Hazael, this night
I've yielded up the flocks to a new shepherd, for my limbs have grown
weary, and what thou tellest me of old age frightens me. Thou wouldst
warn me that God is only loved on the hills under the sky---- I am too
weak to choose my thoughts or my words, and many things pass out of my
mind, Hazael answered. Had I remembered I shouldn't have spoken. But why
not speak, Father? Jesus asked, so that I may be prepared in a measure
for the new life that awaits me. Life never comes twice in the same way,
Hazael replied; nor do the same things befall any two men. I know not
what may befall thee: but the sky, Jesus, will always be before thine
eyes and the green fields under thy feet, even while listening to
Mathias. But thou didst live once under the sky, Jesus said. Not long
enough, Hazael murmured, but the love of God was ardent in me when I
walked by day and night, sleeping under the stars, seeking young men who
could give up their lives to the love of God and bringing them back
hither into the fold of the Essenes. In those days there was little else
in me but love of God, and I could walk from dusk to dusk without
wearying; twelve and fifteen hours were not too many for my feet: my
feet bounded along the road while my eyes followed white clouds moving
over the sky; I dreamed of them as God's palaces, and I saw God not only
in the clouds but in the grass, and in the fields, and the flower that
covers the fields. I read God in the air and in the waters: and in every
town in Palestine I sought out those that loved God and those that could
learn to love God. I could walk well in those days, fifteen hours were
less than as many minutes are now. I have walked from Jerusalem to Joppa
in one day, and the night that I met thy father outside Nazareth I had
walked twelve hours, though I had been delayed in the morning: eight
hours before midday, and after a rest in the wood I went on again for
several hours more, how many I do not know, I've forgotten. I did not
know the distance that I had walked till I met thy father coming home
from his work, his tools in the bag upon his shoulder. His voice is
still in my ear. But if it be to Nazareth thou'rt going, come along with
me, he said. And I can still hear ourselves talking, myself asking him
to direct me to a lodging, and his answering: there's a house in the
village where thou'lt get one, and I'll lead thee to it. But all the
beds in that house were full; we knocked at other inns, but the men and
women and children in them were asleep and not to be roused; and if by
chance our knocking awakened somebody we were bidden away with threats
that the dogs would be loosed upon us. Nazareth looks not kindly on the
wayfarer to-night, I said. Yet it shall not be said that a stranger had
to sleep in the streets of Nazareth, were thy father's very words to me,
Jesus. Come to my house, he said, though it be small and we have to put
somebody out of his bed, it will be better than that our town should
gain evil repute. Thou canst not have forgotten me coming, for thy
father shook thee out of thy sleep and told thee that he wanted thy bed
for a stranger. I can see thee still standing before me in thy shift,
and though the hours I'd travelled had gone down into my very marrow,
and sleep was heavy upon my eyes, yet a freshness came upon me as of the
dawn when I looked on thee, and my heart told me that I had found one
that would do honour to the Essenes, and love God more than any I had
ever met with yet. But I think I hear thee weeping, Jesus. Now, for what
art thou weeping? There is nothing sad in the story, only that it is a
long time ago. Our speech next day still rings in my ear--my telling
thee of the Pharisees that merely minded the letter of the law, and of
the Sadducees that said there was no life outside this world except for
angels. It is well indeed that I remember our two selves sitting by the
door on two stools set under a vine, and it throwing pretty patterns of
shadow on the pavement whilst we talked--whilst I talked to thee of the
brethren, who lived down by the Bitter Lake, no one owning anything more
than his fellow, so that none might be distracted from God by the
pleasures of this world. I can see clearly through the years thy face
expectant, and Nazareth--the deeply rutted streets and the hills above.

The days that we walked in Nazareth are pleasant memories, for I could
never tell thee enough about the Essenes: their contempt of riches, and
that if there were one among them who had more than another, on entering
the order he willingly shared it. We were among the hills the day that I
told thee about the baker; how he put a platter with a loaf on it before
each of the brethren, how they broke bread, deeming the meal sacred, and
it was the next day that we bade farewell to thy father and thy mother
and started on our journey; a long way, but one that did not seem long
to us, so engaged were we with our hopes. It was with me thou sawest
Jerusalem for the first time; and I remember telling thee as we
journeyed by the Jordan seeking a ford that the Essenes looked upon oil
as a defilement, and if any one of them be anointed without his
approbation it is wiped off, for we think to be sweaty is a good thing,
and to be clothed in white garments, and never to change these till they
be torn to pieces or worn out by time.

And of the little band that came with us that day from Galilee there
remain Saddoc, Manahem and thyself. All of you learnt from me on the
journey that we laboured till the fifth hour and then assembled together
again clothed in white veils, after having bathed our bodies in cold
water. But, Jesus, why this grief? Because I am going from thee? But,
dear friend, to come and to go is the law of life, and it may be that I
shall be with thee longer than thou thinkest for; eighty odd years may
be lengthened into ninety: the patriarchs lived till a hundred and more
years, and we believe that the soul outlives the body. Out of the
chrysalis we escape from our corruptible bodies, and the beautiful
butterfly flutters Godward. Grieve for me a little when I am gone, but
grieve not before I go, for I would see thy face always happy, as I
remember it in those years long ago in Nazareth. Jesus, Jesus, thou
shouldst not weep like this! None should weep but for sin, and thy life
is known to me from the day in Nazareth when we sat in the street
together to the day that thou wentest to the Jordan to get baptism from

Ah! that day was the only day that my words were unheeded. But I am
saying things that would seem to wound thee, and for why I know not!
Tell me if my words wound or call up painful memories. Thy suffering is
forgotten, or should be, for if ever any man merited love and admiration
for a sincere and holy life thou---- I beg of thee, Father, not to say
another word, for none is less worthy than I am. The greatest sinner
amongst us is sitting by thee, one that has not dared to tell his secret
to thee.... The memory of my sin has fed upon me and grown stronger,
becoming a devil within me, but till now I have lacked courage to come
to thee and ask thee to cast it out. But now since thou art going from
us this year or the next, I wouldn't let thee go without telling it; to
none may I tell it but to thee, for none else would understand it. I am
listening, Jesus, Hazael answered.

The mutter of the water in the valley below them arose and grew louder
in the silence; as Jesus prepared to speak his secret the doors of the
lecture-room opened and the monks came out singing:

In the Lord put I my trust:
How say ye to my soul, Flee
As a bird to your mountain?
For, lo, the wicked bend their
Bow, they make ready their arrow
Upon the string, that they may privily
Shoot at the upright in heart.
If the foundations be destroyed, what
Can the righteous do?
For the righteous Lord loveth
Righteousness; his countenance
Doth behold the upright.

The words of the psalm are intended for me, Jesus whispered, and now
that the brethren are here I may not speak, but to-morrow---- There may
be no to-morrow for us, the president answered. Even so, Jesus answered,
I cannot speak to-night. It is as if I were bidden to withhold my secret
till to-morrow. We know not why we speak or why we are silent, but
silence has been put upon me by the words of the psalm. Be it so, the
president answered, and he was helped by Saddoc and Manahem to his feet.
Our Brother Jesus, he said, has given over the charge of our flocks to a
young shepherd in whom he has confidence, and Jesus sleeps under a roof
to-night, the first for many years, for, like us, he is getting older,
and the rains and blasts of last winter have gone into his bones. All
the cells, Father, Saddoc replied, are filled. I know that well, Saddoc,
Hazael said as he went out; Jesus can sleep here on these benches; a
mattress and a cloak will be sufficient for him who has slept in
caverns, or in valleys on heaps of stones that he piled so that he might
not drown in the rains. Manahem will get thee a mattress, Jesus; he
knows where to find one. I am strong enough to walk alone, Saddoc. And
disengaging himself from Saddoc's arm he walked with the monks towards
his cell, joining them in the psalm:

All the powers of the Lord
Bless ye the Lord; praise and
Exalt him above all for ever.

As the doors of the cell closed Saddoc approached Jesus, and, breaking
his reverie, he said: thou hast returned to us at last; and it was not
too soon, for the winter rains are cold on bones as old as thine. But
here comes Manahem with a mattress for thee. On the bench here, Manahem;
on the bench he'll lie comfortably, and we'll get him a covering, for
the nights are often chilly though the days be hot, we must try to make
a comfortable resting-place for him that has guarded our flocks these
long years. Wilt tell us if thou beest glad to yield thy flock to Jacob
and if he will sell ewes and rams to the Temple for sacrifice? Ask me
not any questions to-night, Brother Saddoc, for I'm troubled in mind.
Forgive me my question, Jesus, Saddoc answered, and the three Essenes,
leaning over the edge of the gorge, stood listening to the mutter of the
brook. At last, to break the silence that the brook rumpled without
breaking, Jesus asked if a wayfarer never knocked at the door of the
cenoby after dark asking for bread and board. None knows the path well
enough to keep to it after dark, Saddoc said; though the moon be high
and bright the shadows disguise the path yonder. The path is always in
darkness where it bends round the rocks, and the wayfarer would miss his
footing and fall over into the abyss, even though he were a shepherd.
Thyself wouldst miss it. Saddoc speaks well; none can follow the path,
Manahem said, and fortunately, else we should have all the vagrants of
the country knocking at our door.

We shall have one to-night--vagrant or prophet, Jesus said, and asked
his brethren to look yonder; for it seemed to him that a man had just
come out of the shadow of an overhanging rock. Manahem could see nobody,
for, he said, none could find the way in the darkness, and if it be a
demon, he continued, and fall, it will not harm him: the devil will hold
him up lest he dash himself at the bottom of the ravine. But if it be a
man of flesh and blood like ourselves he will topple over yon rock, and
Manahem pointed to a spot, and they waited, expecting to see the shadow
or the man they were watching disappear, but the man or the shadow kept
close to the cliffs, avoiding what seemed to be the path so skilfully
that Saddoc and Manahem said he must know the way. He will reach the
bridge safely, cried Saddoc, and we shall have to open our doors to him.
Now he is crossing the bridge, and now he begins the ascent. Let us pray
that he may miss the path through the terraces. But would you have him
miss it, Saddoc, Jesus asked, for the sake of thy rest? He shall have my
mattress; I'll sleep on this bench in the window under the sky, and
shall be better there: a roof is not my use nor wont. But who, said
Saddoc, can he be?--for certainly the man, if he be not an evil spirit,
is coming to ask for shelter for the night; and if he be not a demon he
may be a prophet or robber: once more the hills are filled with robbers.
Or it may be, Jesus said, the preacher of whom Jacob spoke to me this
evening; he came up from the Jordan with a story of a preacher that the
multitude would not listen to and sought to drown in the river, and our
future shepherd told me how the rabble had followed him over the hills
with the intent to kill him. Some great and terrible heresy he must be
preaching to stir them like that, Manahem said, and he asked if the
shepherd had brought news of the prophet's escape or death. Jesus
answered that the shepherd thought the prophet had escaped into a cave,
for he saw the crowd dispersing, going home like dogs from a hunt when
they have lost their prey. If so, he has been lying by in the cave. Who
can he be? Saddoc asked. Only a shepherd could have kept to the path.
Now he sees us ... and methinks he is no shepherd, but a robber.

The Essenes waited a few moments longer and the knocking they had
expected came at their door. Do not open it, Saddoc cried. He is for
sure a robber sent in advance of his band, or it may be a prisoner of
the Romans, and to harbour him may put us on crosses above the hills. We
shall hang! Open not the door! If it be a wayfarer lost among the hills
a little food and water will save him, Jesus answered. Open not the
door, Jesus; though he be a prophet I would not open to him. A prophet
he may be, and no greater danger besets us, for our later prophets
induced men to follow them into the desert, promising that they should
witness the raising of the dead with God riding the clouds and coming
down for judgment. I say open not the door to him, Jesus! He may be one
of the followers of the prophets, of which we have seen enough in these
last years, God knows! The cavalry of Festus may be in pursuit of him
and his band, and they have cut down many between Jerusalem and Jericho.
I say open not the door! We live among terrors and dangers, Jesus; open
not the door! Hearken, Saddoc, he calls us to open to him, Jesus said,
moving towards the door. He is alone. We know he is, for we have seen
him coming down a path on which two men pass each other with difficulty.
He is a wayfarer, and we've been safe on this ledge of rock for many
years; and times are quieter now than they have been since the dispersal
of the great multitude that followed Theudas and were destroyed, and the
lesser multitude that followed Banu; they, too, have perished.

Open not the door, Jesus! Saddoc cried again. There are Sicarii who kill
men in the daytime, mingling themselves among the multitude with daggers
hidden in their garments, their mission being to stab those that disobey
the law in any fraction. We're Essenes, and have not sent blood
offerings to the Temple. Open not the door. Sicarii or Zealots travel in
search of heretics through the cities of Samaria and Judea. Open not the
door! Men are for ever fooled, Saddoc continued, and will never cease to
open their doors to those who stand in need of meat and drink. It will
be safer, Jesus, to bid him away. Tell him rather that we'll let down a
basket of meat and drink from the balcony to him. Art thou, Manahem, for
turning this man from the door or letting him in? Jesus asked. There is
no need to be frightened, Manahem answered; he is but a wanderer,
Saddoc. A wanderer he cannot be, for he has found his way along the path
in the darkness of the night, Saddoc interjected. Open not the door, I
tell thee, or else we all hang on crosses above the hills to-morrow.
But, Saddoc, we are beholden to the law not to refuse bed and board to
the poor, Manahem replied, returning from the door. If we do not open,
Jesus said, he will leave our door, and that will be a greater
misfortune than any that he may bring us. Hearken, Saddoc! He speaks
fair enough, Saddoc replied; but we may plead that after sunset in the
times we live in---- But, Manahem, Jesus interjected, say on which side
thou art.... We know there is but one man; and we are more than a match
for one. Put a sword in Saddoc's hand. No! Manahem! for I should seem
like a fool with a sword in my hand. Since thou sayest there is but one
man and we are three, it might be unlucky to turn him from our doors.
May I then open to him? Jesus asked, and he began to unbar the great
door, and a heavy, thick-set man, weary of limb and mind, staggered into
the gallery, and stood looking from one to the other, as if trying to
guess which of the three would be most likely to welcome him. His large
and bowed shoulders made his bald, egg-shaped skull (his turban had
fallen in his flight) seem ridiculously small; it was bald to the ears,
and a thick black beard spread over the face like broom, and nearly to
the eyes; thick black eyebrows shaded eyes so piercing and brilliant
that the three Essenes were already aware that a man of great energy had
come amongst them. He had run up the terraces despite his great
girdlestead and he stood before them like a hunted animal, breathing
hard, looking from one to the other, a red, callous hand scratching in
his shaggy chest, his eyes fixed first on Saddoc and then on Manahem and
lastly on Jesus, whom he seemed to recognise as a friend. May I rest a
little while? If so, give me drink before I sleep, he asked. No food,
but drink. Why do ye not answer? Do ye fear me, mistaking me for a
robber? Or have I wandered among robbers? Where am I? Hark: I am but a
wayfarer and thou'rt a shepherd of the hills, I know thee by thy garb,
thou'lt not refuse me shelter. And Jesus, turning to Saddoc and Manahem,
said: he shall have the mattress I was to sleep upon. Give it to him,
Manahem. Thou shalt have food and a coverlet, he said, turning to the
wayfarer. No food! he cried; but a drink of water. There is some ewe's
milk on the shelf, Manahem. Thou must be footsore, he said, giving the
milk to the stranger, who drank it greedily. I'll get thee a linen
garment so that thou mayst sleep more comfortable; and I'll bathe thy
feet before sleep; sleep will come easier in a fresh garment. But to
whose dwelling have I come? the stranger asked. A shepherd told me the
Essenes lived among the rocks.... Am I among them? He told me to keep
close to the cliff's edge or I should topple over. We watched thee, and
it seemed every moment that thou couldst not escape death. It will be
well to ask him his name and whence he comes, Saddoc whispered to
Manahem. The shepherd told thee that we are Essenes, and it remains for
thee to tell us whom we entertain. A prisoner of the Romans---- A
prisoner of the Romans! Saddoc cried. Then indeed we are lost; a
prisoner of the Romans with soldiers perhaps at thy heels! A prisoner
fled from Roman justice may not lodge here.... Let us put him beyond our
doors. And becoming suddenly courageous Saddoc went up to Paul and tried
to lift him to his feet. Manahem, aid me!

Jesus, who had gone to fetch a basin of water and a garment, returned
and asked Saddoc and Manahem the cause of their unseemly struggle with
their guest. They replied that their guest had told them he was a
prisoner of the Romans. Even so, Jesus answered, we cannot turn him from
our doors. These men have little understanding, Paul answered. I'm not a
criminal fled from Roman justice, but a man escaped from Jewish
persecution. Why then didst thou say, cried Saddoc, that thou'rt a
prisoner of the Romans? Because I would not be taken to Jerusalem to be
tried before the Jews. I appealed to Caesar, and while waiting on the
ship to take me to Italy, Festus gave me leave to come here, for I heard
that there were Jews in Jericho of great piety, men unlike the Jews of
Jerusalem, who though circumcised in the flesh are uncircumcised in
heart and ear. Of all of this I will tell you to-morrow, and do you tell
me now of him that followed me along the cliff. We saw no one following
thee; thou wast alone. He may have missed me before I turned down the
path coming from Jericho. I speak of Timothy, my beloved son in the
faith. What strange man is this that we entertain for the night? Saddoc
whispered to Manahem. And if any disciple of mine fall into the hands of
the Jews of Jerusalem---- We know not of what thou'rt speaking, Jesus
answered; and it is doubtless too long a story to tell to-night. I must
go at once in search of Timothy, Paul said, and he turned towards the
door. The moon is setting, Jesus cried, and returning to-night will mean
thy death over the cliffs edge. There is no strength in thy legs to keep
thee to the path. I should seek him in vain, Paul answered. Rest a
little while, Jesus said, and drink a little ewe's milk, and when thou
hast drunken I'll bathe thy feet.

Without waiting for Paul's assent he knelt to untie his sandals. We came
from Caesarea to Jericho to preach the abrogation of the law. What
strange thing is he saying now? The abrogation of the law! Saddoc
whispered to Manahem. The people would not listen to us, and, stirred up
by the Jews, they sought to capture us, but we escaped into the hills
and hid in a cave that an angel pointed out to us. Hark, an angel
pointed out a cave to him! Manahem whispered in Saddoc's ear. Then he
must be a good man, Saddoc answered, but we know not if he speaks the
truth. We have had too many prophets; he is another, and of the same
tribe, setting men by the ears. We have had too many prophets!

Now let me bathe thy feet, which are swollen, and after bathing Paul's
feet Jesus relieved him of his garment and passed a white robe over his
shoulders. Thou'lt sleep easier in it. They would have done well to
hearken to me, Paul muttered. Thou'lt tell us thy story of ill treatment
to-morrow, Jesus said, and he laid Paul back on his pillow, and a moment
after he was asleep.


Jesus feared to awaken him, but was constrained at last to call after
him: thou'rt dreaming, Paul. Awake! Remember the Essenes ... friends,
friends. But Paul did not hear him, and it was not till Jesus laid his
hand on his shoulder that Paul opened his eyes: thou hast been dreaming,
Paul, Jesus said. Where am I? Paul inquired. With the Essenes, Jesus
answered. I was too tired to sleep deeply, Paul said, and it would be
useless for me to lie down again. I am afraid of my dreams; and together
they stood looking across the abyss watching the rocks opposite coming
into their shapes against a strip of green sky.

The ravine was still full of mist, and a long time seemed to pass before
the bridge and the ruins over against the bridge began to appear. As the
dawn advanced sleep came upon Paul's eyelids. He lay down and dozed
awhile, for about an hour, and when he opened his eyes again Jesus'
hand was upon his shoulder and he was saying: Paul, it is now daybreak:
at the Brook Kerith we go forth to meet the sunrise. To meet the
sunrise, Paul repeated, for he knew nothing of the doctrine of the
Essenes. But he followed Jesus through the gallery and received from him
a small hatchet with instructions how he should use it, and a jar which
he must fill with water at the well. We carry water with us, Jesus said,
for the way is long to the brook; only by sending nearly to the source
can we reach it, for we are mindful not to foul the water we drink. But
come, we're late already. Jesus threw a garment over Paul's shoulder and
told him of the prayers he must murmur. We do not speak of profane
matters till after sunrise. He broke off suddenly and pointed to a place
where they might dig: and as soon as we have purified ourselves, he
continued, we will fare forth in search of shepherds, who, on being
instructed by us, will be watchful for a young man lost on the hills and
will direct him to the Essene settlement above the Brook Kerith. Be of
good courage, he will be found. Hadst thou come before to-day myself
would be seeking him for thee, but yesterday I gave over my flock to
Jacob, a trustworthy lad, who will give the word to the next one, and he
will pass it on to another, and so the news will be carried the best
part of the way to Caesarea before noon. It may be that thy companion
has found his way to Caesarea already, for some can return whither they
have come, however long and strange the way may be. Pause, we shall hear
Jacob's pipe answer mine. Jesus played a few notes, which were answered
immediately, and not long afterwards the shepherd appeared over a ridge
of hills. Thy shepherd, Paul said, is but a few years younger than
Timothy and he looks to thee as Timothy looks to me. Tell him who I am
and whom I seek. Jacob, Jesus said, thou didst tell me last night of a
preacher to whom the multitude would not listen, but sought to throw
into the Jordan. He has come amongst us seeking his companion Timothy.
The twain escaped from the multitude, Jacob interjected. That is true,
Jesus answered, but they ran apart above the brook, one keeping on to
Caesarea, this man followed the path round the rocks (how he did it we
are still wondering) and climbed up to our dwelling. We must find his
companion for him. Jacob promised that every shepherd should hear that a
young man was missing. As soon as a shepherd appears on yon hillside,
Jacob said, he shall have the word from me, and he will pass it on.
Jesus looked up into Paul's anxious face. We cannot do more, he said,
and began to speak with Jacob of rams and ewes just as if Timothy had
passed out of their minds. Paul listened for a while, but finding little
to beguile his attention in their talk, he bade Jesus and Jacob good-bye
for the present, saying he was returning to the cenoby. I wonder, he
said to himself, as he went up the hill, if they'd take interest in my
craft, I could talk to them for a long while of the thread which should
always be carefully chosen, and which should be smooth and of equal
strength, else, however deftly the shuttle be passed, the woof would be
rough. But no matter, if they'll get news of Timothy for me I'll listen
to their talk of rams and ewes without complaint. It was kind of Jacob
to say he did not think Timothy had fallen down a precipice, but what
does he know? and on his way back Paul tried to recall the ravine that
he had seen in the dusk as he leaned over the balcony with Jesus. And as
he passed through the domed gallery he stopped for a moment by the well,
it having struck him that he might ask the brother drawing water to come
with him to look for Timothy. If my son were lying at the bottom of the
ravine, he said, I should not be able to get him out without help. Come
with me.

The Essene did not know who Paul was, nor of whom he was speaking, and
at the end of Paul's relation the brother answered that there might be
two hundred feet from the pathway to the brook, more than that in many
places; but thou'lt see for thyself; I may not leave my work. If a man
be dying the Essene, by his rule, must succour him, Paul said. But I
know not, the Essene answered, that any man be dying in the brook. We
believe thy comrade held on to the road to Caesarea. So it may have
befallen, Paul said, but it may be else. It may be, the Essene answered,
but not likely. He held on to the road to Caesarea, and finding thee no
longer with him kept on--or rolled over the cliff, Paul interrupted.
Well, see for thyself; and if he be at the bottom I'll come to help
thee. But it is a long way down, and it may be that we have no rope long
enough, and without one we cannot reach him, but forgive me, for I see
that my words hurt thee. But how else am I to speak? I know thy words
were meant kindly, and if thy president should ask to see me thou'lt
tell him I've gone down the terraces and will return as soon as I have
made search. This search should have been made before. That was not
possible; the mist is only; just cleared, the brother answered, and
Paul proceeded up and down the terraces till he reached the bridge, and
after crossing it he mounted the path and continued it, venturing close
to the edge and looking down the steep sides as he went, but seeing
nowhere any traces of Timothy. Had he fallen here, he said to himself,
he would be lying in the brook. But were Timothy lying there I could not
fail to see him, nor is there water enough to wash him down into Jordan.
It must be he is seeking his way to Caesarea. Let it be so, I pray God,
and Paul continued his search till he came to where the path twisted
round a rock debouching on to the hillsides. We separated here, he said,
looking round, and then remembering that they had been pursued for
several miles into the hills and that the enemy's scouts might be
lurking in the neighbourhood, he turned back and descended the path,
convinced of the uselessness of his search. We parted at that rock,
Timothy keeping to the left and myself turning to the right, and if
anything has befallen he must be sought for by shepherds, aided by dogs.
Only with the help of dogs can he be traced, he said, and returning
slowly to the bridge, he stood there lost in feverish forebodings, new
ones rising up in his mind continually, for it might well be, he
reflected, that Timothy has been killed by robbers, for these hills are
infested by robbers and wild beasts, and worse than the wild beasts and
the robbers are the Jews, who would pay a large sum of money for his

And his thoughts running on incontinently, he imagined Timothy a
prisoner in Jerusalem and himself forced to decide whether he should go
there to defend Timothy or abandon his mission. A terrible choice it
would be for him to have to choose between his duty towards men and his
love of his son, for Timothy was more to him than many sons are to their
fathers, the companion of all his travels and his hope, for he was
falling into years and needed Timothy now more than ever. But it was not
likely that the Jews had heard that Timothy was travelling from Jericho
to Caesarea, and it was a feverish imagination of his to think that they
would have time to send out agents to capture Timothy. But if such a
thing befell how would he account to Eunice for the death of the son
that she had given him, wishing that somebody should be near him to
protect and to serve him. He had thought never to see Eunice again, but
if her son perished he would have to see her. But no, there would be no
time--he had appealed to Caesar. He must send a letter to her telling
that he had started out for Jericho. A dangerous journey he knew it to
be, but he was without strength to resist the temptation of one more
effort to save the Jews: a hard, bitter, stiff-necked, stubborn race
that did not deserve salvation, that resisted it. He had been scourged,
how many times, at the instigation of the Jews? and they had stoned him
at Lystra, a city ever dear to him, for it was there he had met Eunice;
the memories that gathered round her beautiful name calmed his disquiet,
and the brook murmuring under the bridge through the silence of the
gorge disposed Paul to indulge his memory, and in it the past was so
pathetic and poignant that it was almost a pain to remember. But he must
remember, and following after a glimpse of the synagogue and himself
preaching in it there came upon him a vision of a tall, grave woman
since known to him as a thorn in his flesh, but he need not trouble to
remember his sins, for had not God himself forgiven him, telling him
that his grace was enough? Why then should he hesitate to recall the
grave, oval face that he had loved? He could see it as plainly in his
memory as if it were before him in the flesh, her eyes asking for his
help so appealingly that he had been constrained to relinquish the crowd
to Barnabas and give his mind to Eunice. And they had walked on
together, he listening to her telling how she had not been to the
Synagogue for many years, for though she and her mother were proselytes
to the Jewish faith, neither practised it, since her marriage, for her
husband was a pagan. She had indeed taught her son the Scriptures in
Greek, but no restraint had been put upon him; and she did not know to
what god or goddess he offered sacrifice. But last night an angel
visited her and told her that that which she had always been seeking
(though she had forgotten it) awaited her in the synagogue. So she had
gone thither and was not disappointed. I've always been seeking him of
whom thou speakest. Her very words, and the very intonation of her voice
in these words came back to him; he had put questions to her, and they
had not come to the end of their talk when Laos, calling from the
doorstep, said: wilt pass the door, Eunice, without asking the stranger
to cross it? Whereupon she turned her eyes on Paul and asked him to
forgive her for her forgetfulness, and Barnabas arriving at that moment,
she begged him to enter.

And they had stayed on and on, exceeding their apportioned time,
Barnabas reproving the delay, but always agreeing that their departure
should be adjourned since it was Paul's wish to adjourn it. So Barnabas
had always spoken, for he was a weak man, and Paul acknowledged to
himself that he too was a weak man in those days.

Laos seemed to love Barnabas as a mother, and Laos and Eunice were
received by me into the faith, Paul said. On these words his thoughts
floated away and he became absorbed in recollections of the house in
Lystra. The months he had spent with these two women had been given to
him, no doubt, as a recompense for the labours he had endured to bring
men to believe that by faith only in our Lord Jesus Christ could they be
saved. He would never see Lystra again with his physical eye, but it
would always be before him in his mind's eye: that terrible day the Jews
had dragged him and Barnabas outside the town rose up before him. Only
by feigning death did they escape the fate of Stephen. In the evening
the disciples brought them back. Laos and Eunice sponged their wounds,
and at daybreak they left for Derbe, Barnabas saying that perhaps God
was angry at their delay in Lystra and to bring them back to his work
had bidden the Jews stone them without killing them. Eunice was not sure
that Barnabas had not spoken truly, and Paul remembered with gratitude
that she always put his mission before herself. Thou'lt be safer, she
said, in Derbe, and from Derbe thou must go on carrying the glad tidings
to the ends of the earth. But thou must not forget thy Galatians, and
when thou returnest to Lystra Timothy will be old enough to follow thee.
He had fared for ever onwards over seas and lands, ever mindful of his
faithful Galatians and Eunice and her son whom she had promised to him,
and whom he had left learning Greek so that he might fulfil the duties
of amanuensis.

The silence of the gorge and the murmur of the brook enticed
recollections and he was about to abandon himself to memories of his
second visit to Lystra when a voice startled him from his reverie, and,
looking round, he saw a tall, thin man who held his head picturesquely.
I presume you are our guest, and seeing you alone, I laid my notes aside
and have come to offer my services to you. Your services? Paul repeated.
If you desire my services, Mathias replied; and if I am mistaken, and
you do not require them, I will withdraw and apologise for my intrusion.
For your intrusion? Paul repeated. I am your guest, and the guest of the
Essenes, for last night Timothy and myself were assailed by the Jews. By
the Jews? Mathias replied, but we are Jews. Whereupon Paul told him of
his journey from Caesarea, and that he barely escaped drowning in the
Jordan. In the escape from drowning Mathias showed little interest, but
he was curious to hear the doctrine that had given so much offence. I
spoke of the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul answered, the one Mediator between
God and man who was sent by his Father to redeem the world. Only by
faith in him the world may be saved, and the Jews will not listen. A
hard, bitter, cruel race they are, that God will turn from in the end,
choosing another from the Gentiles, since they will not accept him whom
God has chosen to redeem men by the death and resurrection from the dead
of the Lord Jesus Christ, raised from the dead by his Father. Mathias
raised his eyes at the words "resurrection from the dead." Of whom was
Paul speaking? He could still be interested in miracles, but not in the
question whether the corruptible body could be raised up from earth to
heaven. He had wearied of that question long ago, and was now propense
to rail against the little interest the Jews took in certain
philosophical questions--the relation of God to the universe, and
suchlike--and he began to speak to Paul of his country, Egypt, and of
Alexandria's schools of philosophy, continuing in this wise till Paul
asked him how it was that he had left a country where the minds of the
people were in harmony with his mind to come to live among people whose
thoughts were opposed to his. That would be a long story to tell,
Mathias answered, and I am in the midst of my argument.

The expression that began to move over Mathias' face told Paul that he
was asking himself once again what his life would have been if he had
remained in Alexandria. Talking, he said, to these Essenes who stand
midway between Jerusalem and Alexandria my life has gone by. Why I
remained with them so long is a question I have often asked myself. Why
I came hither with them from the cenoby on the eastern bank, that, too,
is a matter that I have never been able to decide. You have heard, he
continued, of the schism of the Essenes. How those on the eastern bank
believe that the order can only be preserved by marriage, while those on
the western bank, the traditionalists up there on that rock in that
aerie, would rather the order died than that any change should be made
in the rule of life. In answer to a question from Paul he said he did
not believe that the order would survive the schism. It may be, too,
that I return to Alexandria. No man knows his destiny; but if you be
minded, he said, to hear me, I will reserve a place near to me. My mind
is distracted, Paul replied, by fears for the safety of Timothy; and
perhaps to save himself from Mathias' somewhat monotonous discourse he
spoke of his apostolic mission, interesting Mathias at once, who began
to perceive that Paul, however crude and elementary his conceptions
might be (so crude did they appear to Mathias that he was not inclined
to include them in his code of philosophical notions at all), was a
story in himself, and one not lacking in interest; his ideas though
crude were not common, and their talk had lasted long enough for him to
discern many original turns of speech in Paul's incorrect Greek,
altogether lacking in construction, but betraying constantly an abrupt
vigour of thought. He was therefore disappointed when Paul, dropping
suddenly the story of the apostolic mission, which he had received from
the apostles, who themselves had received it from the Lord Jesus Christ,
began to tell suddenly that on his return from his mission to Cyprus
with Barnabas he had preached in Derbe and Lystra. It was in Lystra, he
cried, that I met Timothy, whom I circumcised with my own hand; he was
then a boy of ten, and his mother, who was a pious, God-fearing woman,
foresaw in him a disciple, and said when we left, after having been
cured by her and her mother of our wounds, when thou returnest to the
Galatians he will be nearly old enough to follow thee, but tarry not so
long, she added. But it was a long while before I returned to Lystra,
and then Timothy was a young man, and ever since our lives have been
spent in the Lord's service, suffering tortures from robbers that sought
to obtain ransom. We have been scourged and shipwrecked. But, said
Mathias, interrupting him, I know not of what you are speaking, and Paul
was obliged to go over laboriously in words the story that he had
dreamed in a few seconds. And when it was told Mathias said: your story
is worth telling. After my lecture the brethren will be glad to listen
to you. But, said Paul, what I have told you is nothing to what I could
tell; and Mathias answered: so much the better, for I shall not have to
listen to a twice-told story. And now, he added, I must leave you, for I
have matter that must be carefully thought out, and in those ruins
yonder my best thinking is done.

Speak to the Essenes; tell them of my conversion? Paul repeated. Why
not? he asked himself, since he was here and could not leave till
nightfall. Festus had given him leave to go to Jericho to preach while
waiting for the ship that was to take him to Rome, and he had found in
Jericho the intolerance that had dragged him out of the Temple at
Jerusalem; circumcision of the flesh but no circumcision of the
spirit.... But here! He had been led to the Essenes by God, and all that
had seemed dark the night before now seemed clear to him. There was no
longer any doubt in his mind that the Lord wished his chosen people to
hear the truth before his servant Paul left Palestine for ever. He had
been led by the Lord among these rocks, perhaps to find twelve
disciples, who would leave their rocks when they heard the truth of the
death and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth and would carry the joyful
tidings to the ends of the earth.


The Essenes, ten in number, were seated in an embrasure. A reader had
been chosen (an elder) to read the Scriptures, and the attention of the
community was now engaged in judgment of his attempt to reconcile two
passages, one taken from Numbers in which it is said that God is not as
man, with another passage taken from Deuteronomy in which God is said to
be as man. He had just finished telling the brethren that these two
passages were not in contradiction, the second being introduced for the
instruction of the multitude and not because the nature of man is as
God's nature, and, on second thoughts, he added: nor must it be
forgotten that the Book of Deuteronomy was written when we were a
wandering tribe come out of the desert of Arabia, without towns or
cities, without a Temple, without an Ark--ours having fallen into the
hands of the Philistines. He continued his gloss till Mathias held up
his hand and asked Hazael's permission to speak: the words that had been
quoted from Deuteronomy, those in which the Scriptures speak of God as
if he were a man, attributing to him the acts and motives of man, were
addressed, as our reader has pointed out, to men who had hardly advanced
beyond the intelligence of childhood, whose minds were still simple and
unable to receive any idea of God except the primitive notion that God
is a greater man. Now the reason for my interruption is this: I should
like to point out that for those who have passed beyond this stage,
whose intelligence is not limited to their imagination, and whose will
is not governed by selfish fears and hopes, there is another lesson in
the words: we can rise to the consciousness of God as an absolute Being,
of whom we know only that he is, and not what he is, and this is what is
meant when God is spoken of by the name I am that I am.

Eleazar was minded to speak: Mathias begged of him not to withhold his
thoughts, but to speak them, and it was at this moment that Paul
entered, walking softly, lest his footsteps should interrupt Eleazar,
whom he heard say that he disagreed with the last part of Mathias'
speech, inasmuch as it would be against the word of the Scriptures and
likewise against all tradition to accept God as no more than the
absolute substance, which strictly taken would exclude all differences
and relation, even the differences and relation of subject and object in
self-consciousness. I shall not be lacking in appreciation of the wisdom
of our learned brother, Paul heard him say, if I venture to hold to the
idea of a God whom we know at least to be conscious, for he says: I am,
a statement which had much interest for Paul; and while considering it
he heard Manahem say: it is hard to conceive of God except as a high
principle of being and well-being in the universe, who binds all things
to each other in binding them to himself. Then there are two Gods and
not one God, Saddoc interposed quickly, an objection to which Manahem
made this answer: not two Gods but two aspects, thereby confuting Saddoc
for the moment, who muttered: two aspects which have, however, to be
reduced to unity.

Paul's eyes went from Saddoc to Mathias, and he thought that Mathias'
face wore an expression of amused contempt as he listened and called
upon other disputants to contribute their small thoughts to the
discussion. Encouraged by a wave of his hand, Caleb ventured to remark:
there is God and there is the word of God, to which Hazael murmured this
reply: there is only one God; one who watches over his chosen people and
over all the other nations of the earth. But does God love the other
nations as dearly as the Hebrew people? Manahem asked, and Hazael
answered him: we may not discriminate so far into the love of God, it
being infinite, but this we may say, that it is through the Hebrew
people that God makes manifest his love of mankind, on condition, let it
be understood, of their obedience to his revealed will. And if I may add
a few words to the idea so eloquently suggested by our Brother Mathias,
I would say that God is the primal substance out of which all things
evolve. But these words must not be taken too literally, thereby
refusing to God a personal consciousness, for God knows certainly all
the differences and all the relations, and we should overturn all the
teaching of Scripture and lose ourselves in the errors of Greek
philosophy if we held to the belief of a God, absolute, pure, simple,
detached from all concern with his world and his people. But in what
measure, Manahem asked, laying his scroll upon his knees and leaning
forward, his long chin resting on his hand, in what measure, he asked,
speaking out of his deepest self, are we to look upon God as a conscious
being; if Mathias could answer that question we should be grateful, for
it is the question which torments every Essene in the solitude of his

Has any other brother here a word to say? Now you, Brother Caleb? I am
sure there is a thought in your heart that we would all like to hear.
Brother Saddoc, I call upon thee! Brother Saddoc seemed to have no wish
to speak, but Mathias continued to press him, saying. Brother Saddoc,
for what else hast thou been seeking in thy scroll but for a text
whereon to base an argument? And seeing that it was impossible for him
to escape from the fray of argument, Brother Saddoc answered that he
took his stand upon Deuteronomy. Do we not read that the Lord thy God
that goeth before thee shall fight for thee, and in the desert thou hast
seen that he bore thee, as a man bears his sons, all the way that ye
went till ye came unto this place. But Saddoc, Eleazar interrupted, has
forgotten that one of the leading thoughts in this discourse is that the
words in Deuteronomy were written for starving tribes that came out of
Arabia rather than for us to whom God has given the land of Canaan. We
were then among the rudiments of the world and man was but a child,
incapable, as Mathias has said, of the knowledge of God as an absolute
being. But then, answered Saddoc, the Scriptures were not written for
all time. Was anything, Mathias murmured, written for all time? Paul was
about to ask himself if Mathias numbered God among the many things that
time wastes away when his thought was interrupted by Manahem asking how
we are to understand the words, the heavens were created before the
earth. Do the Scriptures mean that intelligence is prior to sense?
Mathias' face lighted up, and, foreseeing his opportunity to make show
of his Greek proficiency he began: heaven is our intelligence and the
earth our sensibility. The spirit descended into matter, and God created
man according to his image, as Moses said and said well, for no creature
is more like to God than man: not in bodily form (God is without body),
but in his intelligence; for the intelligence of every man is in a
little the intelligence of the universe, and it may be said that the
intelligence lives in the flesh that bears it as God himself lives in
the universe, being in some sort a God of the body, which carries it
about like an image in a shrine. Thus the intelligence occupies the same
place in man as the great President occupies in the universe--being
itself invisible while it sees everything, and having its own essence
hidden while it penetrates the essences of all other things. Also, by
its arts and sciences, it finds its way through the earth and through
the seas, and searches out everything that is contained in them. And
then again it rises on wings and, looking down upon the air and all its
commotions, it is borne upwards to the sky and the revolving heavens and
accompanies the choral dances of the planets and stars fixed according
to the laws of music. And led by love, the guide of wisdom, it proceeds
still onward till it transcends all that is capable of being apprehended
by the senses, and rises to that which is perceptible only by the
intellect. And there, seeing in their surpassing beauty the original
ideas and archetypes of all the things which sense finds beautiful, it
becomes possessed by a sober intoxication, like the Corybantian
revellers, and is filled with a still stronger longing, which bears it
up to the highest summit of the intelligible world till it seems to
approach to the great king of the intelligible world himself. And while
it is eagerly seeking to behold him in all his glory, rays of divine
light are pouring forth upon it which by their exceeding brilliance
dazzle the eyes of the intelligence.

Whilst he spoke, his periods constructed with regard for every comma,
Mathias' eyes were directed so frequently towards Paul that Paul could
not but think that Mathias was vaunting his knowledge of Greek
expressly, as if to reprove him, Paul, for the Aramaic idiom that he had
never been able to wring out of his Greek, which he regretted, but
which, after hearing Mathias, he would not be without; for to rid
himself of it he would have to sacrifice the spirit to the outer form;
as well might he offer sacrifice to the heathen gods; and he could not
take his eyes off the tall, lean figure showing against the blue sky,
for Mathias spoke from the balcony, flinging his grey locks from his
forehead, uncertain if he should break into another eloquent period or
call upon Paul to speak. He was curious to hear Paul, having divined a
quick intelligence beneath an abrupt form that was withal not without
beauty; he advanced towards Hazael and, leaning over his chair,
whispered to him. He is telling, Paul said to himself, that it would be
well to hear me as I am about to start for Rome to proclaim the truth in
that city wherein all nations assemble. Well, let it be so, since it was
to this I was called hither.

Hazael raised his eyes and was about to ask Paul to speak, but at that
moment the bakers arrived with their bread baskets, and the Essenes
moved from the deep embrasure in the wall into the domed gallery, each
one departing into his cell and returning clothed in a white garment and
white veil. Paul was about to withdraw, but Hazael said to him: none
shares this repast with us; it is against the rule; but so many of the
rules of the brethren have been set aside in these later days that, with
the consent of all, I will break another rule and ask Paul of Tarsus to
sit with us though he be not of our brotherhood, for is he not our
brother in the love of God, which he has preached travelling over sea
and land with it for ever in his mouth for the last twenty years.
Preaching, Paul answered, the glad tidings of the resurrection,
believing myself to have been bidden by the same will of God that called
me hither and saved me from death many times that I might continue to be
the humble instrument of his will. I will tell you that I was behoven to
preach in Jericho--called out of myself--God knowing well they would not
hear me and would drive me into the mountains and turn my feet by night
to this place. Be it so, Paul, thou shalt tell thy story, the president
answered, and the cook put a plate of lentils before the brethren and
the baker set by each plate a loaf of bread, and everyone waited till
the grace had been repeated before he tasted food. The peace, concord
and good will; all that he had recommended in his Epistles; Paul saw
around him, and he looked forward to teaching the Essenes of the
approaching end of the world, convinced that God in his great justice
would not allow him, Paul, to leave Palestine without every worthy
servant hearing the truth. So he was impatient to make an end of the
food before him, for the sustenance of the body was of little importance
to him, its only use being to bear the spirit and to fortify it. He took
counsel therefore with himself while eating as to the story he should
tell, and his mind was ready with it when the president said: Paul, our
meal is finished now; we would hear thee.


Yesterday the Jews would have thrown me into the Jordan or stoned me
together with Timothy, my son in the faith, who instead of following me
round the hill shoulder kept straight on for Caesarea, where I pray that
I may find him. These things you know of me, for three of the brethren
were on that balcony yesternight when, upheld by the will of God, my
feet were kept fast in the path that runs round this ravine. The Jews
had abandoned their hunt when I arrived at your door, awakening fear in
Brother Saddoc's heart that I was a robber or the head of some band of
robbers. Such thoughts must have disturbed his mind when he saw me, and
they were not driven off when I declared myself a prisoner to the
Romans; for he besought me to depart lest my presence should bring all
here within the grip of the Roman power. A hard and ruthless power it
may be, but less bitter than the power which the Jews crave from the
Romans to compel all to follow not the law alone, but the traditions
that have grown about the law. But you brethren who send no fat rams to
the Temple for sacrifice, but worship God out of your own hearts, will
have pity for me who have been persecuted by the Jews of Jerusalem (who
in their own eyes are the only Jews) for no reason but that I preach the
death and the resurrection from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose
apostle I am, being so made by himself when he spoke to me out of the
clouds on the road to Damascus.

Of this great wonder you shall hear in good time, but before beginning
the story you have asked me to relate I would before all calm Brother
Saddoc's fears: I am no prisoner as he imagines me to be, but am under
the law to return to Caesarea, having appealed to Caesar as was my right
to do, being a Roman citizen long persecuted by the Jews; and I would
thank you for the blankets I enjoyed last night and for the bread I have
broken with you. Also for the promise that I have that one of you shall
at nightfall put me on the way to Caesarea and accompany me part of the
way, so that I may not fall into the hands of my enemies the Jews, of
Jerusalem, but shall reach Caesarea to take ship for Rome. None of you
need fear anything; you have my assurances; I am here by the permission
of the noble Festus.

And now that you have learnt from me the hazard that cast me among you I
will tell you that I am a Jew like yourselves: one born in Tarsus, a
great city of Cilicia; a Roman citizen as you have heard from me, a
privilege which was not bought by me for a great sum of money, nor by
any act of mine, but inherited from my father, a Hebrew like yourselves,
and descended from the stock of Abraham like yourselves. And by trade a
weaver of that cloth of which tents are made; for my father gave me that
trade, for which I thank him, for by it I have earned my living these
many years, in various countries and cities. At an early age I was a
skilful hand at the loom, and at the same time learned in the
Scriptures, and my father, seeing a Rabbi in me, sent me to Jerusalem,
and while I was taught the law I remember hearing of the Baptist, and
the priests of the Temple muttering against him, but they were afraid to
send men against him, for he was in great favour with the people.
Afterwards I returned to Tarsus, where I worked daily at my loom until
tidings came to that city that a disciple of John was preaching the
destruction of the law, saying that he could destroy the Temple and
build it up again in three days. We spoke under our breaths in Tarsus of
this man, hardly able to believe that anyone could be so blasphemous and
reprobate, and when we heard of his death upon a cross we were overjoyed
and thought the Pharisees had done well; for we were full of zeal for
the traditions and the ancient glory of our people. We believed then
that heresy and blasphemy were at an end, and when news came of one
Stephen, who had revived all the stories that Jesus told, that the end
of the world was nigh and that the Temple could be destroyed and built
up again, I laid my loom aside and started for Jerusalem in great anger
to join with those who would root out the Nazarenes: we are now known as
Christians, the name given to us at Antioch.

I was telling that I laid aside my loom in Tarsus and set out for
Jerusalem to aid in rooting out the sect that I held to be blasphemous
and pernicious. Now on the day of my arrival in that city, while coming
from the Temple I saw three men hurrying by, one whose face was white as
the dead, with a small crowd following; and everyone saying: not here,
not here! And as they spoke stones were being gathered, and I knew that
they were for stoning the man they had with them, one Stephen, they
said, who had been teaching in the Temple that Jesus was born and died
and raised from the dead, and that since his death the law is of no
account. So did I gather news and with it abhorrence, and followed them
till they came to an angle, at which they said: this corner will do.
Stephen was thrown into it, and stones of all kinds were heaped upon him
till one spattered his brains along the wall, after which the crowd
muttered, we shall have no more of them.

That day I was of the crowd, and the stone that spattered the brains of
Stephen along the wall seemed to me to have been well cast; I hated
those who spoke against the law of our fathers, which I held in
reverence, as essential and to be practised for all time; and the mild
steadfastness in their faces, and the great love that shone in their
eyes when the name of our Lord Jesus Christ was mentioned, instead of
persuading me that I might be persecuting saints, exasperated me to
further misdeeds. I became foremost in these persecutions, and informed
by spies of the names of the saints, I made search in their houses at
the head of armed agents and dragged them into the synagogue, compelling
them to renounce the truth that the Messiah had come which had been
promised in the Scriptures. Nor was I satisfied when the last Nazarene
had been rooted out of Jerusalem, but cast my eyes forward to other
towns, into which the saints might have fled, and, hearing that many
were in Damascus, I got letters from the chief priests and started forth
in a fume of rage which I strove to blow up with the threats of what we
would put the saints to when we reached Damascus. But while the threats
were on my lips there was in my heart a mighty questioning, from which I
did not seem to escape, perhaps because I had not thrown a stone but
stood by an approving spectator merely. I know not how it was, but as we
forded the Jordan the cruelties that I had been guilty of, the
inquisitions, the beatings with rods, the imprisonment--all these things
rose up in my mind, a terrible troop of phantoms. Gentle faces and words
of forgiveness floated past me one night as we lay encamped in a great
quarry, and I asked myself again if these saints were what they seemed
to be; and soon after the thought crossed my mind that if the Nazarenes
were the saints that they seemed to be, bearing their flogging and
imprisonments with fortitude, without complaint, it was of persecuting
God I was guilty, since all goodness comes from God.

I had asked for letters from Hanan, the High Priest, that would give me
the right to arrest all ill thinkers, and to lead them back in chains to
Jerusalem, and these letters seemed to take fire in my bosom, and when
we came in view of the town, and saw the roofs between the trees, I
heard a voice crying to me: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is
hard for thee to kick against the pricks; and trembling I fell forward,
my face upon the ground, and the Lord said: I am Jesus whom thou
persecutest. Arise, and go into the city and it shall be told to thee
what thou must do; by these words appointing me his apostle and
establishing my rights above those of Peter or John or James or any of
the twelve who walked with him whilst he lived as a man in Galilee. My
followers, who were merely stricken, but not blinded as I was, took me
by the arm and led me into Damascus, where I abode as a blind man till
Ananias laid his hands upon me and the scales fell from my eyes, and I
cried out for baptism, and having received baptism, which is spiritual
strength, and taken food, which is bodily, I went up to the synagogue to
preach that Jesus is the son of God, and continued till the Jews in that
city rose up against me and would have killed me if I had not escaped by
night, let down from the wall in a basket.

From Damascus I went into Arabia, and did not go up to Jerusalem for
three years to confer with the apostles, nor was there need that I
should do so, for had I not received my apostleship by direct
revelation? But after three years I went thither, hearing that the
persecutions had ceased, and that some of those whom I had persecuted
had returned. The brother of Jesus, James, had come down from Galilee
and as a holy man was a great power in Jerusalem. His prayers were
valued, and his appearance excited pity and belief that God would
hearken to him when he knelt, for he was naked but for a coarse cloth
hanging from his neck to his ankles. Of water and cleanliness he knew
naught, and his beard and hair grew as the weeds grow in the fields.
Peter, too, was in Jerusalem, and come into a great girth since the toil
of his craft, as a fisher, had been abandoned, as it had to be, for, as
ye know, it is dry desert about Jerusalem, without lakes or streams. But
he lived there better than he had ever lived before, by talking of our
Lord Jesus Christ, of whom it was no longer a danger to talk, for James
had made his brother acceptable in Jerusalem by lopping from him all
that was Jesus, making him according to his own image; with these
Christians he no longer stood up as an opponent of the law, but as one
who believed in it, who had said: I come not to abolish the law but to
confirm it. So did his brother James interpret Jesus to me who had heard
Jesus speak out of the spirit, and when I answered that he had said too
that he had come to abolish the law, James answered only that his
brother had said many things and that some were not as wise as others.
Peter, who was called upon to testify that Jesus wished the Jews to
remain Jews, and that circumcision and all the observances were needed,
answered that he did not know which was the truth, Jesus not having
spoken plainly on these matters, and neither one nor the other seemed to
understand that it was of no avail that Jesus should have been born,
should have died and been raised from the dead by his Father if the law
were to prevail unchanged for evermore. To James and to Peter Jesus was
a prophet, but no more than the prophets, and unable to understand
either Peter or Jesus, I returned to Tarsus broken-hearted, for there
did not seem to be on earth a true Christian but myself, and I knew not
whom to preach to, Gentiles or Jews. Only of one thing was I sure, that
the Lord Jesus Christ had spoken to me out of the clouds and ordained me
his apostle, but he had not pointed out the way, and I mourned that I
had gone up to Jerusalem, and abode in Tarsus disheartened, resuming my
loom, sitting at it from daylight till dark, waiting for some new sign
to be given me, for I did not lose hope altogether, but, knowing well
that the ways of Providence are not immediate, waited in patience or in
such patience as I might possess myself. Barnabas I had forgotten, and
he was forgotten when I said that I had met none in Jerusalem that could
be said to be a follower of the Master.

It was Barnabas who brought me to James, the brother of the Lord, and to
Peter, and told them that though I had persecuted I was now zealous, and
had preached in many synagogues that Christ Jesus had died and been
raised from the dead. But whether they feared me as a spy, one who would
betray them, or whether it was that our minds were divided upon many
things, I know not, but Barnabas could not persuade them, and, as I have
said, I left Jerusalem and returned to Tarsus, and resumed my trade,
until Barnabas, who had been sent to Antioch to meet some disciples,
said to them, but there is one at Tarsus who has preached the life and
death of our Lord Jesus Christ and brought many to believe in him. So
they said to him: go to Tarsus for this man and bring him hither. And
when they had seen and conferred with me and knew what sort of man I
was, Barnabas said, with your permission and your authority, Paul and I
will start together for Cyprus, for that is my country, and my friends
there will believe us when we tell them that Jesus was raised from the
dead and was seen by many: first by Martha and Mary, the sisters of
Lazarus, and afterwards by Peter and by the apostles and many others. As
the disciples were willing that we should go to preach the Gospel in
Cyprus, we went thither furnished with letters, and received a kindly
welcome from everybody, as it had been foretold by Barnabas, and many
heard the Gospel, and if my stay among you Essenes could be prolonged
beyond this evening and for several days I could tell you stories of a
great magician and how he was confuted by me by the grace of God working
through me, but as everything cannot be told in the first telling I will
pass from Cyprus back to Antioch, where we rested awhile, so that we
might tell the brethren of the great joy with which the faith had been
received in Cyprus, of the churches we founded and our promise to the
Cyprians to return to them.

And so joyful were the brethren in Antioch at our success that I said to
Barnabas: let us not tarry here, but go on into Galatia. We set out,
accompanied by John Mark, Barnabas' cousin, but he left us at Perga,
being afraid, and for his lack of courage I was unable to forgive him,
thereby estranging myself later on from Barnabas, a God-fearing man. But
to tell you what happened at Lystra. We found the people there ready to
listen to the faith, and it was given to me to set a cripple that had
never walked in his life straight upon his feet, and as sturdily as any.
The people cried out at this wonder, the gods have come down to us, and
when the rumour reached the High Priest that the gods had come to their
city, he drove out two oxen, garlanded, and would have sacrificed them
in our honour, but we tore our garments, saying, we are men like
yourselves and have come to preach that you should turn from vanities
and false gods and worship the one true living God, who created the
earth, and all the firmament. The people heard us and promised to abjure
their idolatries, and would have abjured them for ever if the Jews from
the neighbouring cities had not heard of our preaching and had not
gathered together and denounced us in Lystra, where there were no Jews,
or very few. Nor were they content with denouncing us, but on a
convenient occasion dragged Barnabas and myself outside the town, stoned
us and left us for dead, for we, knowing that God required us, feigned
death, thereby deceiving them and escaping death we returned to the town
by night and left it next day for Derbe.

Now, Essenes, this story that I tell of what happened to us at Lystra
has been told with some care by me, for it is significant of what has
happened to me for twenty years, since the day, as you have heard, when
the Lord Jesus himself spoke to me out of the clouds and appointed me to
preach the Gospel he had given unto me, which, upheld by him, I have
preached faithfully, followed wherever I went by persecution from Jews
determined to undo my work. But undeterred by stones and threats, we
returned to Lystra and preached there again, and in Perga and Attalia,
from thence we sailed to Antioch, and there were great rejoicings in
Saigon Street, as we sat in the doorways telling of the churches that we
founded in Galatia, and how we flung open the door of truth to the
pagans, and how many had passed through.

But some came from Jerusalem preaching that the uncircumcised could not
hope for salvation, and that there could be no conversion unless the law
be observed, and the first observance of the law, they said, is
circumcision. We answered them as is our wont that it is no longer by
observances of the law but by grace, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that
men may be saved; and we being unable to yield to them or they to us, it
was resolved that Barnabas and Titus, a Gentile that we brought over to
the faith, should go to Jerusalem.

On the way thither we preached that the Saviour promised to the Jews had
come, and been raised from the dead, and the Samaritans hearkened and
were converted in great numbers, and the news of these conversions
preceding us the joy among the brethren was very great, for you, who
know the Scriptures, need not be told that the conversion of the
Gentiles has been foretold; nor was it till we began to talk about the
abrogation of the law that James and the followers of James rose up
against us. We wondered, and said to each other: were ever two brothers
as unlike as these? Though myself had never seen the Lord in the flesh,
I knew of him from Peter, and we whispered together with our eyes fixed
on the long, lean man whose knees were reported callous from kneeling in
the Temple praying that God might not yet awhile destroy the world. It
was sufficient, so it was said, for him to hold up his hand to perform
miracles, and we came to dislike him and to remember that he had always
looked upon Jesus our Lord with suspicion during his lifetime. Why then,
we asked, should he come into power derived from his brother's glory?

He seemed to be less likely than any other Jew to understand the new
truth born into the world. So I turned from him to Peter, in whom I
thought to find an advocate, knowing him to be one with us in this,
saying that it were vain to ask the Gentiles to accept a yoke which the
Hebrews themselves had been unable to bear; but Peter was still the
timid man that he had ever been, and myself being of small wit in large
and violent assemblies said to him: thou and I and James will consult
together in private at the end of this uproar. But James could not come
to my reason, saying always that the Gentiles must become Jews before
they became Christians; and remembering very well all the trouble and
vexation the demand for the circumcision of Titus had put upon me (to
which I consented, for with a Jew I am a Jew so that I may gain them),
and how he had submitted himself lest he should be a stumbling-block, I
said to Timothy, my own son in the faith, thy mother and grandmother
were hearers of the law, and he answered, let me be a Jew externally,
and myself took and circumcised. A good accommodation Peter thought this
to be, and I said to Peter, henceforth for thee the circumcised and for
me the uncircumcised. Against which Peter and James had nothing to say,
for it seemed to them that the uncircumcised were one thing in Jerusalem
and another thing beyond Jerusalem. But I was glad thus to come to terms
with them, thinking thereby to obtain from them the confirmation of my
apostleship, though there was no need for any such, as I have always
held, it having teen bestowed upon me by our Lord Jesus Christ himself;
and holding it to be of little account that they had known our Lord
Jesus in the flesh, I said to their faces, it were better to have known
him in the spirit, thereby darkening them. It might have been better to
have held back the words.

Myself and Barnabas and Titus returned to Antioch and it was some days
after that I said to Barnabas: let us go again into the cities in which
we have preached and see if the brethren abide in our teaching and how
they do with it. But Barnabas would bring John Mark with him, he who had


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