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CHAPTER 95

Antipatros, the son of Herod, who had ambitions to be king of all Ju- dea, but it seemed good to the emperor Augustus to call him tetrarch. Nevertheless Rome was pleased with his administration of Galilee and also Perea across the Jordan River. Jewish landowners and Levites who prospered by dipping into the river of taxes that flowed from the peasants to Rome all favored the rule of Herod Antipas, as Antipatros was called.

As the fame of Yohanan grew some came out to see his baptism and the healings by his new disciple. When Yohanan saw the Jewish elite who favored Herod he called them the get of vipers, and asked, "Who warned you to flee from the wrath of God?"

One of them said in reply, "Certainly the blameless under the law do nothing worthy of repentance. To what end would such as we come under condemnation?"

Yohanan replied, "It does not make a man good if he merely refrains from doing evil. Even now the axe is made sharp. Every tree which does not bear good fruit shall fall victim to the tree feller. Let he with two coats give to he with none, and he that has food do likewise."

"Save your admonitions for the foreign soldiers and the gentiles of Galilee," said the Herodian. "We are the children of the Covenant."

Yohanan picked up two stones as though to cast missiles and said, "Blood alone cannot recommend you to God. The Most High is able of these stones to raise up the descendants he promised Abraham!"

The Herodians antagonizing Yohanan advanced as though to seize him, but they saw how his disciples came to defend him, stout fellows all of them, and some of the crowd who had come to hear his preaching be- gan to grow angry and pick up stones of their own. So they withdrew for a time.

The crowds who came to the baptism of Yohanan waxed greatly after word of Yeshua's healings spread through Galilee. Yohanan's disciple Andre- ia spoke to his brother Shimon, a boatman who caught fish on Lake Kin- neret to be dried and preserved by salt in the city of Magdala. Shimon listened to the things Andreia told him of Yeshua's healings, and how the crowds coming to the banks of the Jordan grew ever larger. For a time Shimon left his boat in the hands of the men who worked under him that he might join his brother and become a disciple.

Yohanan walked with his growing retinue of eight disciples to the capital city of Tiberias, newly built on Lake Kinneret, where he preached directly from the Code of Moshe: "If a man marries his broth- er's wife he has dishonored his brother with impurity. They shall be childless."

And Herod Antipas heard of this, and knew this Yohanan was deliberate- ly antagonizing him, since he had married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, after she had divorced her husband. Besides, there was no provision in Jewish law for a woman to initiate a divorce. She had invoked Roman law. So Herod Antipas sent forth lackeys from among the Jews, the same who had come to the river two weeks before to confront Yohanan. Armed with clubs, they were ordered to seize Yohanan and mis- treat any of his disciples who would attempt to thwart the arrest of their master.

Shimon, the brother of Andreia, moved to stand close to Yohanan, as he was a large and formidable man and zealous to prove himself as a new disciple, but he was waved off. Yohanan had made his point. The ones who claimed to be blameless under the law supported an adulterer.

Yohanan's four original disciples thought God would strike down the men who took him captive. They said nothing, and watched until Yohanan disappeared from view.

Philippos then turned to Yeshua to ask, "Will you heal the Teacher after Antipas has chastised him?"

Yeshua said, "Of all the prophets sent to the children of Israel, none is greater than Yohanan, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who was to come again. But of a truth I say to you, Philippos, that you shall not see your master again until the second life."

Something about Yeshua's words conveyed a deep sincerity that immedi- ately convinced the disciples. Barthulumaus sobbed. Yudah pulled at his hair.

Andreia said to his brother, "What do you think, Shimon? Shall we re- turn to the nets and take up fishing again to buy our way?"

Yeshua said to Andreia and his brother, "Stay close to me, rather, and I will make you fishers of men." He turned toward the other discipes of Yohanan, and his own brothers Shimon and Yosy. "Your teacher bap- tized you with water but I will baptize you with the spirit of God."

Yeshua's brothers Shimon and Yosy were already willing to follow, but Yohanan's first disciples remained near the palace until sunset.

Philippos held on to the hope that his master would simply be beaten and releaased. But when it grew dark he asked of Yeshua dolefully, "Where shall we go now?"

"I have silver," Yeshua told him. "We will dine and lodge in Tiberias tonight, and when it is light we will go south."

Indeed Yeshua always seemed to have silver, though not even Shimon and Yosy knew where he obtained it, nor even where he kept it about his person.

Yeshua knew that all the people around him, the very culture of the Roman world, was obsessed with scarcity. On a planet of inexhaustible riches humans beings faced bitter lack everywhere they turned, and they imagined God himself, the almighty, could only dole out blessings to a limited few.

The broken trust between people over needless scarcity was made mani- fest when Yeshua led his disciples through rocky fields and over fences of stones rather than walking the roads. When Yudah asked why, Yeshua replied, "For the simple reason that eight men walking on a road with no women look like bandits."

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