Nahum The Carpenter, The Tenth Epistle

It has been almost three years since the tragic death of Isaac. Ruth and Nahum are still struggling with his death. It has affected them deeply to the point of depression. Ezra and Ezekiel have tried to console and help their parents but nothing they have done has made them feel any less remorseful.

Another contributing factor to their stress and poor health are the daily reports of mass murders of Christians in nearby towns and cities. Both the Jews, who resent the new Christian believers and the Romans who are angry that the Christians continue to state their belief in Jesus and his preaching ahead of the Roman Leaders.

Now a new fear is gripping the city of Jerusalem! There are rumors of a Roman attack on the city in the next few years. The attack will be against the Jews, but the new Christians are worried they may be part of the attack too. Many have already fled to other countries.

Nahum and his boys have discussed the possibility of an attack either by Jews or Romans. Considering their relationship with many Jewish customers and the recent non threatening actions of the Roman soldiers they have agreed to continue living their lives as they have been for seventy years.

Nahum and family are feeling safe, but many of their friends and customers have been slaughtered by Jewish rebels as they try to eliminate the followers of Jesus.
The Jews are also shocked and angry thousands of Jews are converting to this new Christianity every day. Even in time of persecution, Jesus word is bringing in new followers.

It is fifty years since Nahum took over his fathers carpentry and leather shop. The boys believe a celebration should be held in honour of this accomplishment.

The boys have been secretly planning an event that they hope will help bring some closure to the death of Isaac and the hundreds of his followers. They also hope it will bring some happiness back into the lives of their parents.

It is a large event they are planning, a huge amount of work and planning and even some fear of the Roman soldiers and the Jewish rebels. After all, Nahum was one of the mob who joined together and shouted CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM! and some of those people have remained faithful to the Jewish faith but are still customers today.

After three months of talking, checking, enquiring (secretly) and praying about their plan, they have decided to tell their wives on Saturday night of the plan.

Following dinner, Ezra asked the two ladies to join them in the sitting room where the boys presented their plan. The ladies were awe struck and for some time did not reply. After a while, Hannah looked at Elizabeth and said do you think the ladies from the Guild would be willing to help with the food. There were about fifty women in the Guild, she replied, I am sure they would.

With that Hannah said, ok, lets do it! They all agreed they should keep it a secret from Ruth and Nahum, but should discuss it with the larger family before undertaking such a big event. They made a plan for each of them to reach out to various family members and get their approval. They are to meet again in two weeks.

Two weeks later the two couples met and exchanged the results of their respective visits. The visits all went well, and many of the visits resulted in offers to assist. Joshua said he had four large barrels of fine wine he would bring! That was an important aspect that they all smiled about.

The most important and dangerous part of the plan was the fact the event would be open for both the new Jesus people; Christians, and the Jewish community. They would also have to get the approval from Claudius and the Roman soldiers. Was this too dangerous a mix? Only time would tell.

The Christian community around this part of Jerusalem was not being persecuted by either the Jews or the Romans, however, only a few miles away there were horror stories of mass killings, tortures and persecution of the Christians. Would this Event be noticed by these factions who could easily slaughter hundreds of unarmed, innocent people.

Ezra and Ezekiel decided on a plan that would give them some assurance of a safe and danger free event. They would consult with various people to get their reaction to the idea.

When the boys reconvened the next week, they were pleased with the responses they got from their contacts. Ezra has spoken with some of his Jewish friends and leaders while Ezekiel visited Claudius.

They were assured from both fronts that there was no danger if they agreed to two rules. That there be no religious activities, and no political involvement or participation. Both boys agreed this could be attained, although they were very disappointed they could not talk about their new friend Jesus, but realized the danger that could come to them if they aggravated the Romans or the Jews. They decided to ask God for forgiveness and forged ahead with their plans.

Now it was time to get to work, and there was a lot of work for everyone. They decided they would have a meeting during one afternoon when they knew Nahum would be at home. Also, there would be no suspicions about a secret meeting held during the day.

On Thursday, fourteen people arrived at the shop. Ezekiel took the lead and presented the plans. He was supported by Ezra, Elizabeth and Hannah.

The Event would be a celebration of fifty years of Nahum The Carpenter. There would be an open invitation to anyone and everyone. There would be food, wine, children’s games, music, horse and wagon valet service, and Ruth and Nahum would be comfortably seated where all the guests could stop by and say hello.

This brief synopsis begged many questions! Who would do the cooking? Abraham had volunteered to cook a large steer on an open pit; Elizabeth and Hannah had spoken to two local Ladies Guilds and over forty ladies would look after the remaining food. Market Man had offered to bring large baskets of fresh fruit, and of course Joshua was bringing the wine.

Who was looking after the children: Hannah and Sara had reached out to three teacher friends and they agreed to assist along with several teenagers from the local schools. What about the horses and wagons. Here, Ezra was so proud of his “horse friends”, many had volunteered to meet the wagons and after unloading the passengers would drive the wagons to near by fields where there would be shade, water and hay for the animals. There were enough volunteers that they could take turns and still enjoy some of the festivities too.

What about the music? This proved to be another proud moment for the two boys. First of all Ezekiel had played in a band with some of his friends. They enjoyed sacred music as well as some of the present day modern music. They would play in an area where people could listen, dance and sing as they chose. Then, the big surprise came from Sara and Hannah. They had met a young girl, Demetra, while at medical school in Athens. As well as training in the medical field she was also an aspiring entertainer. She followed the music of Sappho and her brother accompanied her on the Lyre. Both Hannah and Sara had attended several of her concerts while training in Athens. Although her music was primarily Greek, her beautiful voice and amazing poetry of Sappho made for wonderful musical entertainment.

When contacted by Sara she agreed to come if she and her brother could be given some travel expense money and a place to stay. Hannah explained that the Medical Centre had saved enough to assist with travel expenses and Elizabeth had offered the new home that had been Miriamne and Yohanan’s apartment as a place to stay.

The participants were all nodding their approval as the couple explained their plans. Two final questions were asked: how many people did they expect, and who was going to pay for all this? Again, the boys explained they had done some research and came up a number of 300 guests! since much of the labour was being donated, most of the costs would be assisting in paying for the food.

The boys had prepared a budget for the purchase of the foods and to reimburse the ladies for the purchase of vegetables etc. This would not be an issue.

On Monday Ezra and Ezekiel retraced their steps of a few weeks ago and revisited the leaders to advise them the Event was a go. Now it is time to get to work.

The photo shows, “The Marriage at Cana,” by Tintpretto, painted in 1561.

Nahum The Carpenter, The Ninth Epistle

Baby Paul was growing very fast and was a very happy, contented little boy. He was the recipient of much love from his parents, his grandparents and of course Miriamme. He loved the outdoors and was particularly happy when his father took him for a ride on one of his horses.

Life for the Nahum family was very satisfying. The shops were flourishing; the clinic was a very important place in the community. Hannah was continuing to improve her medical competence by taking courses in Italy and Greece, Sarah also went to Greece to get her medical training and the family was enjoying good health. Their new Christian Church was also growing. Isaac was not only leading many services but also training new disciples to assist him. Ezekiel was taking over many of Isaac’s missions and developing into a well respected Christian Leader.

Nahum was coming to the shop three days a week and going to see Market Man every other week. Ezra went to the shop every morning, and if not needed, he would go and tend to his horses. Samuel and Ethan handled all the work in the shop now and Bart and Simon managed the blacksmith and carriage shop.

Market Man was advised to come to the shops next Monday, after lunch.

The men had completed the carriage in much less time than expected. It looked great and had some unique features. They had made a retractable roof for the driver that could be tilted back on clear days, they had made a step board for the driver that prevented any stones or debris from the horses hitting him; the two boys had made leather seats and backs and of course it also had the glass windows.

On Saturday Nahum, Ezra and the four men took the carriage for a test run around Ezra’s farm. Ezra used a team of his highly trained horses to pull the carriage. Each man was given a chance to drive the carriage. It all went smooth.

When they returned to the shop they decided to take one more trip, this time on the road. They drove to Hannah’s parents, Jonah and Abigail. They were pleased they did not encounter any traffic so the carriage was still a secret. When back at the shop the men all pitched in, checked everything over and cleaned all the road dirt and dust off and it was like new again.

On Monday Market Man rode his horse to the shops and arrived to find his carriage hitched to a beautiful team of grey horses. Ezra explained that the men had done such a great job in completing the work ahead of schedule and cost and if Market Man agreed they would give him the team in exchange for his horse, he was delighted.

Once he looked over his new carriage he asked if the young artist was here. Simon called his sister and the young artist, Leah from the office. The shy girl was hugged by Market Man and he told her he had arranged with an artist friend of his who has a gallery near my market, to give you lessons every Saturday that you can make it to town. Her mother was crying and Leah was giggling with pure joy.

Nahum and Ezra accompanied Market Man back to his home with his horse hitched behind for Ezra to ride home. Market Man was absolutely delighted with his new carriage and said he could hardly wait to show Jonathon.

Abraham and Naomi were neighbours of Hannah’s parents, Jonah and Abigail. Their families had been friends for decades. One afternoon while each man was tilling his fields, Abraham, tethered his team and went over to speak with Jonah. He extended an invitation to Jonah, Abigail and Hannah, and the new boy friend. They agreed upon Friday night.

Abraham was a big strong affable man, who loved to enjoy a good time. He had always teased pretty little Hannah and called her his girl friend. When the family arrived, Abraham picked up Hannah and gave her a big bear hug, Hannah squealed, like she always did, and gave Abraham a big kiss on his forehead. Poor Ezekiel had never seen anything like this and was momentarily startled, but Hannah soon explained the situation to him and they all had a good laugh.

After tea was served, Abraham took over! He explained, again, to Ezekiel that Hannah was his girl friend and he was jealous that she had chosen you instead of me, more laughs. He went to explain that he had changed from cattle farming to crop farming and that he did not require a hired hand anymore. He said the house that his father had built for him forty years ago was sitting empty now. He continued by saying he had asked the Tax Man to find a way that Abraham could sever a piece of his farm with the house on it and sell it.

A few months ago it was all legalized and he had a crew build a fence around the home and five acres. He now wanted to sell it and he wanted Hannah and her new friend to have the first opportunity to buy it. He did not need the money, so was asking a below market price for the property.

The young couple and their families were overwhelmed by the kind offer from this friendly neighbour. They were almost unable to speak, finally Ezekiel stood up and made a wonderful speech covering all the necessary points, which included, thanking them for the kind offer, the wonderful love that had grown between the two farming families over the years, his appreciation for his own family and last but not least the new love and admiration he had for Hannah. He ended by going over to her parents and giving them each a kiss.

Abraham, in his rough and tumble style made a joke of it and said enough of this lets toast it with some wine!

The young couple made all the financial arrangements and the deal was completed within a month. They had a home when they got married.

To add to the excitement of Nahum and his extended family was the news of another baby in the next few months.

The one sad part to this story was the passing of Yohanin in the early spring. Following his delightful ride in Jonathon’s carriage his health deteriorated. Miriamme asked Isaac and Ezekiel to join them for tea one Sunday afternoon. Yohanin was very weak but he made up his mind to sit up when his friends arrived. After some pleasant conversation, Isaac asked everyone to join him in prayer. He then presented a wonderful tribute to the little man, highlighted by the fact the couple had sold their farm to Nahum and that they had dedicated a section to be used for a church.

Yohanin with a voice just above a whisper said he wanted to say three things: thank you to all his friends for their love over the years; he wanted to thank God for allowing him to live long enough to see the birth and death of Jesus and lastly for the lifelong love of his dear wife Miriamme. With tears running down their cheeks the couple embraced like a couple of newlyweds.

When the guests left,Yohanin said to Miriamme I would like to go to bed, would you please come and snuggle with me. For the next hour or so, the couple reminisced about their life, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying. Yohanin then quietly kissed his wife, said I love you and went to sleep. He never woke up!

Isaac and Ezekiel conducted a funeral for Yohanin which took place on the piece of property which was to be used for a Christian Church. Much like the tribute given a few days ago, Isaac reminded the crowd of over two hundred people of all the accomplishments and kindnesses and love Yohanin had delivered over the years. He also paid tribute to Miriamme who sat in the arms of Elizabeth. It was a wonderful good bye to a wonderful man.

John Thomas Percival continues working with wood and pondering about the early history of Christianity.

The photo shows, “Christ’s Farewell to Mary,” by Piotr Stachiewicz, painted in 1900.

Nahum The Carpenter, The Eighth Epistle

I should explain how the request to build wagons with seats on them came about. It all happened after the purchase of Yohanan and Miriamme’s farm, about two miles outside of Jerusalem. Here is the story!

What was once Nahum’s grandfather’s little leather shop is now a multi-functional operation.

It all started with a visit by Isaac to Miriamme and Yohanan’s. The elderly couple asked Isaac to invite Nahum and Ezra to come to their home for dinner on Friday.

Nahum and Ezra left early with Samuel and Ethan managing the shop. They rode their horses to see Yonanan and Miriamme.

Miriamme had prepared a sumptuous dinner and while the couple was certainly showing their age, they were both able to chat and converse very well.

After dinner, the couple surprised Nahum and Ezra when they presented them with a proposal that neither of them expected.

They told the men that they were now too old to run their farm and would like to sell it to Nahum and his son. They had two conditions, and they believed only Ezra could fulfill these conditions.

So, what are the conditions? Well, number one they wanted to be promised that the course piece of property at the east end of the farm, near the side road, would be the home of a future Christian Church.

Number two, they would like Ezra and Elizabeth to live in the main home and Yohanan and Miriamme would live in the small apartment. They would live separately, but wanted the security of knowing that someone was close by if/when needed. The amount they wanted for the farm was significantly less than the market value, partly because they had no heirs, but mainly because they wanted a Church built on their property.

Nahum and Ezra left with a promise they would return within three days with their answer.

When the two men reached town, they decided to meet with their wives immediately as this was a significant offer and affected all of them. They met at Nahums late into the evening.

The wives were more awe struck than the men! They could not believe they could be blessed with such a kind offer. They all agreed that Nahum should visit the Banker tomorrow morning to secure necessary credit and paper work.

The meeting with the Banker went well, Nahum had saved over the years and Ezra had received large gifts of money at their wedding. Also, Nahum was a respected businessman and member of the community so a small loan was no problem.

Nahum, Ruth, Ezra and Elizabeth returned to the couples home on Monday. Nahum said he would like to accept their offer and he had made arrangements with the Banker Man to transfer the funds into their account. Elizabeth startled the group when she stood and said she had another condition on the offer. Miriamme was quick to reply that the offer they had presented to Nahum was not open for dispute. But Elizabeth stood firm and said she insisted. Ok, Miriamme said what is it??

Elizabeth replied that the deal depended on Miriamme agreeing to teach Elizabeth how to cook and bake. The old woman jumped up and threw her arms around Elizabeth and said you will be my daughter. The deal was completed that night.

Now came the need to sell the old shop which was difficult for Nahum, because it had been handed down for four generations.

One day a well dressed man riding in an elaborate carriage stopped at the shop, looking for Nahum. His name was Jonathon; he was a very wealthy land developer who was looking for property to build an inn. He said he was talking to Banker Man who told him about Nahums shop being for sale.

He thought the site of the old shop was ideal as it was just off the main roadway and stood alone, not too close to any other buildings. Of course Nahum was anxious to sell, even though his heart was still aching about giving up his family property.

The discussions were very short, both parties agreed on a price and a closing date and both parties were happy!

Over the next six months a new shop was built with a modern, clean bright Medical Centre for Elizabeth.

One day just after the new shop opened a carriage stopped out front and Jonathon got out. Nahum welcomed him warmly and invited him for a tour.

Jonathon then said to Nahum and Ezra, within an hour a large wagon would be arriving with something for the new shop. A short time later a four horse team with a huge wagon arrived. The driver parked and two riders proceeded to climb up and open the load. They then dropped down two large crates.  Inside was some furniture. Nahum and Ezra went over and shook Jonathon’s hand and gave him a warm hug. Jonathon explained that when he was ordering furniture for his new inn, he thought you might like to have some new furniture for your office and lunch room. He added that he appreciated the honest way they had conducted the sale, and for the wonderful job Ezra had done on his lawns. He was very grateful.

While they were dismantling the crates Jonathon asked who the elderly couple was. When Ezra explained he walked over and introduced himself. Yohanan was so in awe of the carriage that he could hardly speak. He finally said, Mister that is the most beautiful carriage I have ever seen!. Thank you Jonathon replied, would you like to see inside, oh please may we? With that the driver was instructed to show them.

Jonathon then went over and whispered in Ezra’s ear. With a huge smile Ezra replied FOR SURE!!!!

When the couple got down Jonathon approached them and said, I am driving to my new inn to oversee the unloading of the wagon, and then I am returning home, would you like to join me? I will drop you off back here in about six hours. We can stop and have dinner on the way back.

The couple looked at each, neither one knowing what to say! They were both in such awe now. Finally Ezra said, ok let’s go, I will join you, I can sit with the driver and you two can stay inside. Oh my, Miriamme replied, let us go home for a few minutes to put on nicer clothes. Both men smiled and said take your time!

A few minutes later they returned nicely attired in their best clothes and Miriamme brought along some fresh biscuits she had baked and some cold tea. They were both so excited to ride in such a luxurious carriage. It was a monumental day for the couple.

**************

Elizabeth woke Ezra one early morning and said she was going into labour. Ezra called Miriamme from her sleep and the two of them helped Elizabeth deliver a healthy little boy. They said they would name him Paul, after the disciple Zeke had been working with. The grandparents were delighted.

A few weeks later a baptismal was held and the usual discussion by the grandparents took place with each pair claiming Paul looked like their side of the family. Elizabeth, Ezra and Miriamme all smiled to themselves. It was truly a happy gathering.

*************

During the next year Nahum and Ezra had the good fortune to purchase a blacksmith shop from old friend Seth who wanted to retire and actually move not far from the new shop.

Nahum was always proud at how the ladies in his family could speak freely and be part of any and all discussions. When the discussion of the blacksmith shop came up Elizabeth and Ruth with support from Hannah, said the blacksmith shop should be a separate building away from the main shop and the clinic. Nahum and Ezra were surprised and proud of the ladies for speaking up and making a good point. It was agreed the blacksmith shop would be away from the clinic and downwind too.

The deal went smooth with Seth supervising the transition and relocation. While this was taking place another friend mentioned to Ezra that his cousin was a blacksmith in Rome but wanted to return home. When Nahum and Ezra were interviewing the young man, Bartholomew or Bart, he asked if they had considered building wagons now that they had a blacksmith shop. They were surprised but said why are you asking? He said that a friend of his who worked at the same large plant in Rome, building wagons, was also looking to move back to the Jerusalem area.

It was not long after that Bartholomew, or Bart and his friend Ethan were members of the Nahum the Carpenter shop and they were now making sandals, repairing harness, fixing implements and building wagons! Much different to the shop of twenty years ago!.

When Joshua heard of this he was so anxious to see Nahum and ask him if he could order a new wagon. He ordered one for himself and two for neighbours. The wagon business had started.

John Thomas Percival continues working with wood and pondering about the early history of Christianity.

The photo shows, “The Forge of Vulcan,” by Francesco Bassano the Younger, painted in the latter part of the 16th century.

Nahum The Carpenter, The Seventh Epistle

Joshua and Zilpah came to visit Nahum and Ruth one Sunday. During their visit Joshua asked Nahum if he had heard of a travel wagon? Nahum said Simon referred to it once in a conversation with a local farmer.

Joshua said he and two of his farmer neighbours were realizing how difficult it was to move workers from one place to another, they had to take small carts of a horse each. He said he had heard that a company in Rome was building them and farmers were finding them such a time saver, and they were even using them to transport family and friend, some held as many as fourteen people. Nahum said he would ask Simon for more information.

Simon showed Nahum a drawing of a farm wagon that could have seats added to transport people. He had made some in Rome. He said they were easy to build.

When Nahum told Joshua he ordered three.

Samuel and Ethan said they would make padded leather seats for even more comfort.

The boys completed the three wagons and Ezra delivered them using a team of his well trained horses to pull the first one and tow the other two behind.

The farmers were delighted in their new mode of transport and felt the cost would soon by paid for by the time saved in moving workers. They also appreciated the fact they could take their family all in one wagon now too.

As Elizabeth and Ezra were going to bed Elizabeth leaned over and gave her husband a kiss. She said, Ezra, if nothing happens in the next month we will have to invite our families for lunch again! He sat up and asked are you pregnant, yes she smiled back at him.

Ezekiel was improving every day and was now going out and meeting with Isaac whenever he could. Isaac was giving him an overview of his preaching area and the places where “Churches” had been established.

One evening Nahum surprised his son when he brought Hannah back with him from the shops. Again, she had prepared herself well for the surprise visit, hair all nice, a touch of rouge on her cheeks and another pretty dress.  Nahum had arranged for the two of them to dine at one of the areas nicer dining rooms. They made such a cute couple.

Ezekiel made Hannah’s day when he told her he had decided to stay in Jerusalem area and take over some of Isaacs missions. He also said he was looking to buy property but was not sure where. She was even more delighted when he asked her where she would like to live! Hannah said she had some ideas, but would need to think about them first. Any decision was put on hold for now.

They had a delightful evening and when they returned home Ruth and Nahum sat with them for some time enjoying some of Joshua’s wine, it was a very pleasant evening for all of them. Ruth showed Hannah to the spare room and the family went to bed very happy.

Nahum made his usual bi-weekly stop at Market Man and was surprised when he was asked if Market Man would be able to visit his shops and meet with Ezra. Nahum agreed to meet Market Man at the edge of town on Friday at 8:00 am.

The two men rode to the shops where Ezra was waiting with tea and biscuits for them. Market man asked for a tour and a chance to meet the staff. In particular he wanted to meet Samuel and Ethan. He surprised the two young men when he presented them each with a bag of shekels, a considerable amount too!

He praised them for their quality of workmanship and their creativity. They were pleased, excited and slightly embarrassed all at the same time.  Nahum and Ezra were proud of their “two boys”!

They returned to the meeting room where Market Man produced a drawing of a carriage he had seen recently. He explained to Ezra that he had opened a second store at the far end of town, in an area that served mostly farmers and wine growers; it was quite far from his original shop.  He said he was finding it difficult to transport his people, either between shops, to Church, to family gatherings or to other social events so he wanted a carriage! He showed them his rough drawing.

Nahum and Ezra looked at it and asked Market Man if it would be ok to bring Simon and Bart into the meeting, He agreed.

When the two men arrived, Market Man explained how he was so impressed with Jonathon’s carriage and how much use he got out of it. He explained he wanted a carriage similar, but different and told them his plans and ideas.  Ezra noticed the two men smiling and winking at each other when they heard what Market Man wanted, but said nothing.  The two men looked over the drawings and suggested they could come up with their own set of drawings and a cost estimate in a week. Market Man agreed to return next Friday.  He then thanked them for their time, for the tour and the tea and rode home.

When he had left, Ezra said, ok boys what was so funny. Bart said, wait a minute and he left. He returned a few minutes later with two large scrolls. He opened them and he and Simon explained that they had been designing a carriage in their spare time and they thought it would be perfect for Market Man. Ezra told them to take time off and work on the drawings, they said they would, but would also work on their own time too as they really enjoyed the opportunity.

Over the next few evenings and on Saturday and Sunday, the two men worked on their design. Simon was anxious to use some new glass for the windows. A friend in Rome had sent him two sheets carefully wrapped on a board, telling him they were now producing this product in Rome. He wanted to put glass in the doors so the occupants could look out and still be protected from the elements. It had been used for some time in making bottles and baubles, but now they were making it in a sheet form.

While working on the drawings at home, Simon’s niece became fascinated with her uncle’s work. She was fourteen and wanted to be an artist. She had produced some nice art work already. She said, Uncle, I can make a really nice picture of your carriage if you want. He said sure go ahead.

The next day, she asked her mother if she could stay home from school and work on the carriage drawing. Her mother said definitely not. Simon intervened and whispered to his sister that maybe, just maybe, if the art was very good she may get paid for it. Her mother relented and the girl took out her oils and started.

By the time Simon arrived home the next day the picture was on an easel in the outdoor sitting area. Simon was absolutely shocked when he saw it. It was a masterpiece; he could not believe his young niece could produce such a professional piece of art.

He took it to the shop the next day the men were all amazed, they thought the drawing itself would be enough to sell Market Man on the carriage.

The four men sat down and went over the costs of materials and suggested cost of labour. Simon and Bart had a figure in their head as to the selling price, but they wanted to see what Nahum and Ezra came up with.

To their surprise the prices were very close, Ezra being a bit more expensive. He had put in a 10% extra fee for “hidden and unexpected costs” the two men agreed.

They were prepared for Market Man when he arrived before 8:00 am on Friday. Samuel had framed the young girl’s art and it sat on an easel when you entered the meeting room.

When Market Man entered he took a look into the room and stopped in his tracks. He was almost shaking when he asked with a stutter is, is that my, my carriage? They said yes that is what it will look like. He went over to Nahum and hugged him and said you sure do run a professional operation here. He then asked who painted it. When Simon told him, he asked if he could meet the young lady some time, and Simon said when we call you for an inspection of the work progress in about a month I will make sure she is here.

When the boys completed their review of the plans, Market Man was smiling from ear to ear. When they told him the cost, plus or minus 10% he said that is a bit more than I expected, but I did not expect to see the additions of a removable roof over the driver, or the leather bound seats inside. He turned to Nahum and said when I return to my store after leaving here, I will stop at the bank and make a deposit of 20% in your account, please proceed.

The men all shook hands and Market Man mounted his horse and left for the bank.

During the next two months the men made sure all customers were looked after but they really tried to concentrate on the carriage. Bart had completed the frame, the wheels he ordered had arrived, and Simon had built some of the wooden sections and was now working on the doors.  Samuel and Ethan were about half way through making the seats and arm rests. The men told Nahum to arrange for Market Man to come by for an inspection in two weeks.

Ok, Elizabeth said to Ezra, we have to have another family get together.  He said I will tell my dad and he can get word to your folks and Joshua and Zilpah. We should make sure Isaac, Miriamme and Hannah are invited too.

When her mom and dad found out they asked if they could host the party, they wanted to spend time with Paul, and they suggested everybody plan to come on Saturday, stay overnight, go to Church then have the get together next Sunday afternoon. They all agreed.

 

John Thomas Percival continues working with wood and pondering about the early history of Christianity.
The photo shows, “The Arrival of Caesar,” by Ettore Forti, painted ca. 1890s.

 

Nahum The Carpenter, The Sixth Epistle

It is now over two years since Ezekiel left for Corinth. Ruth and Nahum have had several reports that he is healthy and doing very well in Greece. Ruth is hoping he would be home soon.

Ezra and Elizabeth have become a very popular couple in their community. They are invited to many social events and are often seen either walking hand in hand or riding on their horses. They make a very interesting couple as Ezra is quiet, and a little bit shy, however when he does speak people listen.

Elizabeth is out going and a confident conversationalist, they truly compliment each other.

Elizabeth has completed her medical training and even though she is very young she has quickly created a reputation of a caring, tender, compassionate and clever medical person. More than just a nurse!

People say that she has a special ability to diagnose your problem before she even examines you. People are coming from around the country to the hospital where she works and actually asking for her. Fortunately, the medical men in the clinic respect her abilities and often ask for her opinion as well. Ezra likes to tell her she has God-given abilities!!! She laughs him off.

Later that summer Ezra confided to his mother that he wanted to ask Elizabeth to marry him and how should he go about it??

This made Ruth smile, almost giggle! Ezra asked what is it? Oh Ezra she replied it brings back such fond memories of your dear sweet father and me!

He said, please tell me.

She began by saying that when they were children they went to the same school, although boys were in one room and girls in another. Your dad had to leave school when he was thirteen as his father needed him in his shop, after he quit school Nahum was almost never seen, he worked all day in the shop and then went home helped his mother and went to bed. His father was not a well man.

One day I asked a friend of Nahum’s to come to his shop with me. We were now about 15 or 16, Ezra was shocked to see us, but so proud to show us his father’s shop and the work they did. We were impressed. We invited Ezra to join a group of friends who met on Friday nights, we usually had a fire, some food and maybe, if we could get it a wee bit of wine. We always had a good time. He agreed to come.

One cold, rainy Friday night some months later he showed up with a parcel in his hands. He chatted with his friends and then when he saw me alone he came over and in his shy manner he said, I made you a gift, if you don’t like it, it is ok. He surely lacked confidence!

He gave me the package and when I opened it he had made me a leather broach, four different coloured leaves with a black dot in the middle! It was beautiful and I still have it!!! With tears in my eyes, I said Nahum this is beautiful I would never ever give it back; I leaned over and gave him a kiss on his cheek. It was the beginning.

After this we started seeing each other whenever we could and we had become good friends. About two years later I said to him did you ever think about getting married. He jumped up and said for sure! When would you like to do it?? I said hold on, I did not say I wanted to get married, I was just asking.

We talked some more and I explained what I knew about getting married. In the new Christian Church you had to have a priest, minister or disciples marry you, it was law. Also it was proper for the man to ask the girl’s parents for permission to marry their daughter.

This information set him back a bit, but I could sense from his manner and actions that there was a determination behind that shyness.

One evening when he knew I was out, he came over to my house.  I had told my parents he might be coming over one of these days so please welcome him, so they were prepared.

The poor guy came in and my parents greeted him warmly, suspecting what he wanted. They gave him a mug of wine. When they realized he was struggling they tried to help him and asked if there was something he wanted to say? He stuttered and stammered and said no, no,  I better be going.

My mother went over to him and said, come sit down beside me and have another mug of wine. She comforted him and after a while he blurted out that he loved their daughter, he thought she was the loveliest, smartest and most special girl in the whole world and he wanted her to be his wife. My mother and father hugged him and amid tears they said they would love to welcome Nahum into our family.

We were married a few months later and we have been so happy for over 23 years.

My mom said, oh Ezra, I am so sorry, I got carried away there!  I said mom, that is a beautiful story and it makes so much sense,   dad is still the same person today, Thank you for sharing.

My mom then told me to go see Mr. Goldman, the jeweler, and ask him to make a gold ring. She suggested that I try and put my little finger near Elizabeth’s ring finger (without her noticing) so I could tell Mr. Goldman the approximate size. She said I should speak with Elizabeth’s parents and ask them if I could marry their daughter. Then propose to Elizabeth.

Although shy like his father, he had no problem speaking to Elizabeth’s parents seeking their permission. They, like Ruth’s parents over 23 years ago said they would love to have Ezra as a son in law.

A few days later Elizabeth accepted his proposal but said she would like to wait until their wedding to wear his ring, but she did love it. Ezra understood.

They decided to wait to get married until Ezekiel returned. Fortunately the wait was not long, as a few months later he returned with six fellow disciples so the marriage took place with Ezekiel assisting and Isaac performing the wedding ceremony.

Hananiah and Juthine agreed to have the ceremony and reception at their farm. It was a beautiful day and the charming young couple was pleased that so many of their friends and relatives attended.After a short trip to a country home for a few days the young couple returned home and set up their new apartment in a friends large home about two miles outside of town.

It was a very pleasant cozy home, but the distance meant they usually rode their horses to work and into the city.They were both establishing their positions in life. Ezra was gradually taking over Nahum’s shop and making favourable changes and improvements resulting in more business and more income.

Elizabeth was continuing to grow her reputation as a healer of the sick. She now had started using new methods, new herbs and new remedies to treat the ill. People appreciated her compassionate manner too.

Nahum the Carpenter should now be called Nahum and Son, but they never got around to changing the name. Ezra was continuing to grow the business.One day he was working outside when two boys, Samuel and Ethan, who he had seen at some of the Christian services were walking by bare foot. He called to them and asked where are your sandals?  They smiled and said we don’t have any! He asked where are you going. They replied they were just out for a walk, nothing else to do.

Ezra called them over to his shop and asked if they would like to help him. They jumped at the opportunity. He told them to sweep the shop, smooth the sand at the entrance way and put the garbage in the cart and to sort the pile of leather, stacking it by size. It took them a few hours and when they finished he gave them each a pair of sandals.

They were so excited to receive such a gift for so little work. He asked them where they lived and they explained they lived with their mom in a small apartment nearby. Their mom worked as a servant for a wealthy family. They had no money, but mom was able to bring home food every day so they were well fed. They were both still going to school. His father had died when they were young.

Ezra asked them if they would like to come by every other day and help him, they happily agreed. This was the beginning of a lasting relationship.

As Ezra and Elizabeth were beginning their lives, another couple was at the other end of the spectrum. They were elderly, lived on a small farm on the outskirts of town. They were now unable to work their farm and had hired a young neighbour boy to look after their small herd of sheep and flock of chickens.

Their names were Yohanan and Mariamme. The farm had been in Mariamme’s family for generations and it was expected it would be handed down to her heirs too. Unfortunately Mariamme had two miscarriages, the second one resulting in her being unable to bear children.

The couple was very bitter about this situation and was angry with God for his lack of love shown to them.

Several months ago they reluctantly came to a Christian service where they met Isaac and listened to his teachings of this man Jesus and became members of his church.

Having seen them a few times at the services, Isaac and Nahum asked if they could visit them. The old couple welcomed them warmly into their home a few days later.

Nahum and Isaac told them they understood their anger. They also explained that this man Jesus told them to believe in him and to put their trust in him and they would find peace and love. They also told them that they believed God had a plan for everyone and maybe someday they would understand why they were childless.

Following a very enjoyable evening both Nahum and Isaac complimented the couple on the size and majesty of their home and expressed their admiration for it. Mairiamme told them her grandfather had built it for his own family and also added a small apartment on the rear of the home so his eldest son and his wife could remain at home and help run the farm.

Since they had no children, Yohanan and Miriamme lived only in the main part of the house, the apartment was used for storage.

When they left, Isaac and Nahum were pleased that their visit was able to add some comfort and hope for this very nice couple.

Time would prove them correct.

 

John Thomas Percival continues working with wood and pondering about the early history of Christianity.

 

The photo shows, “Jesus Ministered to by Angels,” by James Tissot, painted 1866-1894.

Nahum The Carpenter, The Fifth Epistle

Ezra and some of his friends have suddenly become big time horse lovers. Several of them own one or more and they often go riding in the country together. They recently have been having little contests to see who has the fastest horse.

A local wealthy farmer by the name of Hananiah agreed to lend some of his fields for a friendly race. He had his employees set up markers around the fields for the riders to follow and he cleared  a standing area for those wanting to watch.

On the Friday before the race it rained all day. They considered cancelling it, but when Saturday dawned it was sunny and bright so the race went ahead.

There were twenty entries. They decided to run five heats; the winner of each heat would run for the title.  Ezra won his heat by a good margin and was looking forward to the championship run.

Shortly after the final race started and the horses were just approaching the public standing area, Ezra’s horse hit a loose piece of turf, thrown up during the heats, and stumbled. Ezra was thrown head first into a huge mud puddle! His first reaction was to see if his horse was ok and she was, secondly he started to check to see if he had anything broken, he did not. But his pride was sure smashed!!!

As he laid there covered in mud and barely able to see, he looked in amazement through his muddy eyes, he thought he saw an angel helping him! This angel spoke to him and asked if he was ok, he said he thought so, but was very sore. To his amazement she took off a shawl she was wearing and started to clean his face. He tried to stop her and told her not to ruin her shawl, but she continued. By now she too was getting covered in mud. With his eyes cleared he could see she was beautiful, maybe the most beautiful girl he had ever seen!

She helped him sit up and was continuing to clean off his arms and shoulders when she said Hi, I am Elizabeth, and my daddy owns this farm. Oh, he said I know your father, he comes to our shop! She said now I know who you are, you make sandals! She said look these are the new red ones daddy had made for me. Oh wow he replied, I made those, I thought they were the prettiest sandals I ever made and now I see they are being worn by the prettiest girl I have ever seen. Through her mud splattered face Elizabeth was blushing.

By now friends were also helping Ezra to his feet, he was happy to be uninjured, but disappointed in not finishing the race, he asked if his horse was ok and a friend said yes she was fine and was being washed up too.

Elizabeth, now covered in mud, had removed her sandals and was carrying them, she took his arm and said come to our house, I will give you some of my brother’s clean clothes. Ezra tried to say he would be ok and would just go home and change, but she insisted.

After washing in the pond, he graciously accepted her offer of clean clothes.

Following the race and the winner declared, Hananiah invited everybody to come and enjoy some food and wine and celebrate the first horse race in Jericho! Ezra went with Elizabeth!

The following week when Ezra was working in his shop, he was surprised when he heard a female voice calling his name. He looked up and to his surprise there was Elizabeth standing in the doorway

He put down his tools and walked to meet her.  She explained that she told her Dad she wanted to see your shop and he told me just to stop in, that’s how all the other customers do it. She also explained that she was walking home from her class at the hospital where she was training to be a nurse. He was very impressed. Medicine was something admired as few people understood it or wanted to enter the profession.

They had a nice chat and Ezra asked if Elizabeth would like to go to the Pub Friday evening, she agreed. The young couple were seeing each frequently after that first evening, and it was getting serious.

Meanwhile, Isaac has been very busy working with the Christian disciples. He does occasionally come and help Nahum when he needs him.  His job with the Christians is what could be called a front man. He goes ahead of the leaders and makes arrangements for the Church services for them.

Most of the services are held in homes, preferably large homes, sometimes they are outside in the courtyard. He recently took Nahum to a service in a large home. Nahum noted that the speakers used a stand to hold their bibles and papers so they could glance down and see them clearly. The stand was called a dais and this one was taken from an old synagogue.

It was about chest high for most men. The front was sloped down so the papers could be easily read.

After the service Nahum went up to the home owner and asked if he could look at the dais, he then made drawings and took measurements.

Before he went to his shop the next day he went to a local woodcutter and bought some wood. He took his team of donkeys and wagon and took the lumber to his shop.

Let me interrupt myself here for a minute and tell you that when my father took over his father’s shop their main business was making carts, wagons and cabinets. It was my father who learned the leather business and he liked it better than carpentry. I felt the same way, but I still enjoyed working with wood whenever someone wanted a cabinet or table built I was delighted to build it.

He explained to Ezra what his plan was and they started making a dais! When finished they got some oils and stained the base a light colour and the top a shade darker. Ezra added his own touch by putting two large holes at either side at the top and front, to hold candles.

The following week Isaac told Nahum they would take the new dais to a service at Hananiahs .

When they arrived with the new stand people were very impressed and their comments made Nahum very proud and happy.

The next two weeks Nahum and Ezra produced 19 of the new dais. They had orders for 12 from locals and four more were being shipped to places beyond Jerusalem. They were very pleased to be able to build these new stands and provide them for the new Christian Ministry. This also meant more work and more revenue for their shop. They had actually hired a young man to assist them. He was the son of one of the local Christian families and was enjoying learning new trades. Ezra found that he really enjoyed teaching and coaching him, something he had never experienced before, much like when Isaac was teaching him.

Ruth and Nahum were very happy and thankful for their life at this time. They were enjoying good health and prosperity, Ezra was gradually taking over the shop, and his education was making the business more successful and the tax man never bothered them. Seeing their eldest son in love with one of the most beautiful and talented young ladies in the area was also a reason for happiness! Of course the possibility of having a “daughter” very soon made Ruth excited with anticipation.

The only thing missing was Ezekiel!

It is now over two years since Ezekiel left for Corinth. Ruth and Nahum have had several reports that he is healthy and doing very well in Greece. Ruth is hoping he would be home soon.

Ezra and Elizabeth have become a very popular couple in their community. They are invited to many social events and are often seen either walking hand in hand or riding on their horses. They make a very interesting couple as Ezra is quiet, and a little bit shy, however when he does speak people listen.

Elizabeth is out going and a confident conversationalist, they truly support each other.

Elizabeth has completed her medical training and even though she is still a young lady, she has quickly created a reputation of a caring, tender, compassionate and clever medical person. More than just a nurse! People say that she has a unique ability to diagnose your problem before she even examines you. People are coming from around the country to the hospital where she works and actually asking for her. Fortunately, the medical men in the clinic respect her abilities and often ask for her opinion as well. Ezra likes to tell her she has God-given abilities!  She laughs him off.

Ruth and Nahum are enjoying their roles as leaders of the new Christian Church. They are well respected and people listen and believe what they are saying about Jesus.

Life is good for Nahum the Carpenter and his family.

 

John Thomas Percival continues working with wood and pondering about the early history of Christianity.
The photo shows, “Christ,” by Eduard von Gebhardt, painted ca. 1890s.

 

Nahum The Carpenter Chapter 4

Ruth and I were now having regular dinners and discussions with Isaac. I am amazed at what has happened to our lives.

To return from over two months away and find a crippled friend manning my shop was the first shock! Then to find out what a fine job he had done was another surprise. Then Ruth and I were pleased when we started talking about Jesus to find that Isaac was maybe even more interested in the stories than we were telling them. He could not hear enough!!!  Our lives were changing.

With these changes we decided to hire Isaac as a full time employee. He was sort of like having a retired uncle around!! He would help in the shop, he would talk and teach our boys and even look after them when we wanted to go out. It was working so well I was afraid it was too good to be true.

I am going to jump ahead over one year now, much has happened during this time and maybe I can tell you about it some other time. Now I want to bring you up to date on Isaac and our boys.

As a father you always wonder what your children will do with their lives. You can teach, show, demonstrate, and lecture but the final decision is theirs.

My two boys are very different. The eldest son, Ezra, is like me he loves to work with his hands. I was so pleased one day when I saw him chatting with Isaac at the shop.

My second boy Ezekiel  is more interested in reading and listening to stories from leaders and teachers about this man Jesus.

One day Isaac asked me if he could chat with me about our boys, of course I replied, please come for dinner after work today.

Isaac began by saying he has spent a lot of time with Zeke lately and he thought we should consider sending him to a school that was geared for scholars rather than a general education. He suggested some but they were run by the Jewish brethren and perhaps with our new Christ People beliefs it may not be a good idea? We thanked him and promised to consider his suggestion.

He then started talking about Ezra and how he had been working with him at our shop whenever I was away. He told us that Ezra was a very talented boy who had retained the same work ethic and talent as his father; he then laughed and said except he works faster!!!

He suggested that in the near future I should ask Ezra to assist me so I could evaluate his progress. Isaac said he would tell me when that time was, and of course I agreed.

A few weeks later I mentioned to Isaac that a merchant in Emmaus had just placed a large order for sandals, heavy wicker baskets and leather purses and I could use some assistance, did he think I should ask Ezra, he said yes, he is ready.

That night at dinner I asked Ezra if he could stop by the shop on his way home from school tomorrow as I could use some help. He was excited when he went to bed.

I was excited all the next day too, I had no idea what to expect, but I was looking forward to seeing my son follow in my footsteps as I had done with my father.

When he arrived from school, I sensed that he was excited and nervous, I too was trying to maintain my composure as I too was wondering how my son would do at his first day on the job???

We were both very relieved once he started! I said to Ezra, look, I know this is your first time working with me so I will make it easy for you, you can start by cutting those leather strips the same as the sample. He said Dad, if it is ok with you, I would rather assemble those sandals you have lined up there ready to be sewn! I said ok if you are able to do that.

Once he started I was shocked and amazed and so proud, all at once! Isaac had done a wonderful job of training him! His fingers were very nimble, but strong, his instincts as to the progression of the assembly were far ahead of his young years. In no time he had the first sandal assembled! I inspected it and thought this is better workmanship than mine!

He continued for the next three hours and I was so proud of him, I could hardly wait to tell his mother, his brother and Isaac, who would all be at home when we arrived.

We enjoyed a very happy evening, and Zeke  topped it off with his comments! He is so like his mother, able to chat with everyone, confident  and I understand is becoming a very good public speaker, even taking part in some of the Christ Peoples services. He has a good sense of humour too.

He said, Dad, I don’t want to offend you, and I am so glad that  Ezzie enjoys working with you, but I want you to know that I will never, ever be working with you and that smelly leather you work with! We enjoyed a laugh and I told him not to worry, that my own brother chose to work with numbers rather than join my dad and me in the shop. I also told him that I knew he would make us proud one day too.

We went to bed as a happy family.

I mentioned earlier about our boys changing so fast in one year. It is such a blessing to his mother and me to see our two sons growing into responsible young men. Although very different in character and abilities, they both seem to have that warm loving spirit that we were learning about from the Christ People. Loving your neighbour was one of the most important teachings that we were really working on in our own lives, and the boys seemed to want to be the same kind of people. Very rewarding for the parents.

Last weekend we celebrated Ezra’s eighteenth birthday. It was very nice to have Aunt Zilpah and Uncle Joshua and two cousins join us along with many of the boy’s friends.

We are so proud of our boys as they become men! When Ezra completed his lower schooling we decided it would be a good idea if he went one more year and studied accounting and Nezikin , which deals with civil and criminal law. This proved to be a very smart move as Ezra and our business benefited from this knowledge. When your books are in good shape you do not have to worry about the tax collectors. We have had no problem with them.

Meanwhile, Ezekiel is continuing with his studies with the Christ People leaders. These Christian men are business men and leaders in their communities. They are well educated and intelligent. They are also from different countries. One thing I am really proud of Ezekiel for is that he learning four different languages: Aramaic, Latin, Italian and Greek. Not sure how?  But he finds it very easy to learn languages. Our boys are making Ruth and me very proud parents. Thanks be to God!

It has been almost twenty years since that man Jesus was crucified then rose from the dead then forty days later left earth to go back to heaven to be with his Father.

During those twenty years his word or gospel as it is called has spread across our country as his disciples preach in homes in what people are calling Churches. Some of his disciples are even going to other countries to preach his gospel.

Last night Ezekiel came home and seemed very serious and in deep thought? We did not say anything to him, but later he asked if he could speak to both of us.

He said he was being pulled by something inside him (was this that Holy Spirit at work??) to go on a trip with one of Jesus disciples. We asked him to continue.

He said he was torn at leaving his family for a long time and going to a strange land, but a man by the name of Paul was going to Greece, Corinth, actually to start up new Churches and he was looking for helpers.  I have been learning Greek from a man called Aleksandre so I would be able to help Paul with not only with preaching and teaching but with the language too.

We hugged our son in a three-person embrace and with tears in our eyes we said we would be the proudest parents in all of Jerusalem if you were to go on this trip. We will miss you, but we love you and we want you to do that which makes you happy. We also believe that because you have this inner feeling pulling at you that it is God asking you to go and spread the word. We said we would invite his aunt and uncle and some friends and have a little going away party for him on Saturday.

On Saturday our two boys rose early and went for a ride on Ezra’s two horses he had recently purchased. He is boarding them at a friend’s farm not far from the shop. When they returned Ruth had prepared a wonderful breakfast for all of us. We enjoyed this meal so much, and it would be the last time we ate breakfast together for some time.

That evening twenty four people enjoyed some great food and wine and gave Ezekiel their blessings and best wishes for a safe and successful trip. Ezra had made Zeke two new pair of sandals and a leather bag for his belongings. His aunt and uncle brought him some of their best wine for him to take with him. Many people gave him shekels to help pay his way it was a wonderful evening. We were so proud of Zeke when he stood to thank everybody and ended by saying a few words about Jesus and how he would be sharing these same words in Corinth. Typical of Zeke, he ended by saying a few words in Greek, nobody understood, but everybody laughed and enjoyed it.

It was the perfect type of occasion to say good bye to a loved son as he left for a distant country to spread the word of Jesus Christ.

 

 

The photo shows, “And He Wept Over It,” by Enrique Simonet, painted in 1892.

Nahum The Carpenter: Second Epistle

My sister Zilpah lives at the foot of Mount of Olives, it takes a full morning to travel there. Her husband  is Joshua, his family owns an olive grove. It has been in the family for generations.

We travelled there last Friday. We took three donkeys, one for the boys, one for Ruth and one loaded with supplies and sandals for everybody. I love giving gifts, and since we are not rich, giving them something I have made seems more special!!

It is almost two months after that man Jesus was crucified. I have been bothered by that scene ever since. However there are all kinds of stories about him rising from the tomb and being seen walking to Emmaus.  It seems a bit odd to me, I have never heard of anyone rising from the dead.  We are looking forward to discussing it with Zilpah and Joshua.

We arrived just after noon, and were warmly greeted by Zilpah, Joshua and their two boys. Joshua was particularly delighted to see us, and he came over and gave me a hug, and said so nice to see you and I hope you brought your tools??? We have a lot of repair work for you!!!

I smiled and said yes, I have my tools. He asked if we could stay an extra day to do the sandal and harness repairs, as well as some baskets that were falling apart! I told him we would be delighted.

Regarding my tools, I have this really nice old bag that my father passed down to me when he died.

When I was old enough to run the shop, my father decided he would make himself two leather, waterproof bags, fill them with supplies and tools and go into the country and visit farms and villages doing repair work.  I was so appreciative when he left me the two bags! I have rebuilt the smaller one and I can now use it to carry tools and basic supplies when I take trips.

We had a nice visit and lunch, and enjoyed some vintage wine. Since Joshua’s family has this huge olive grove, they also have several small vineyards and make wine every year. It is top class!

Joshua and I took a tour of part of his property as the ladies chatted and the children played! Before we knew it the sun was going down.  Joshua has an old stone grill at his house and he had some freshly killed meat he grilled for us while the wives made some fresh salads and of course some olives.

After enjoying a delicious feast, we put the children to bed and relaxed around a nice warm fire.

I quickly turned the conversation to ask what they knew about this man Jesus. We had not spoken to them about him before.

Immediately Zilpah’s face lit up like a star in the sky and she seemed to be in a sort of trance! Even her voice was different. She replied oh I am so glad you asked!!

I told her my story, about giving him sandals, about seeing him perform a miracle on our cousin and then being part of the gang who shouted Nail him, nail him.

Zilpah was very saddened by this news and scolded her brother for what he had done! She had been following Jesus when he preached around Jericho, and was completely taken by his presence!!!! She then shocked me when she told me her friend Mary Magdalene was a friend of Jesus and she witnessed his crucifixion and went to his tomb three days later.

Ruth and I were now so excited to hear more, so Zilpah said to Joshua, put some more wood on the fire and get another jar of wine and I will tell my story. I could not wait!!!!

Zilpah said she and Mary had seen many of Jesus’ miracles and listened to his sermons.  She said, we found them very difficult to understand at first, but usually we figured them out!!!

We were heart broken when he was crucified and our grief over whelmed us. We did not sleep for 3 days. Then Mary decided she would go the tomb where he had been placed. To her shock the huge boulder that was in front of the tomb was moved away!  She went in with a friend and there was no body in there!!!

However, while in the tomb a strange thing happened!  Somebody or something appeared to the women. They said after they thought it was angels, as it had a bright glow around them.

Whoever, or whatever it was said to them the body was not there he has risen from the dead. They were in awe and shocked, they went to tell Jesus’ eleven disciples who also didn’t believe what they heard so they went to the tomb and saw for themselves there was no body there.

Nahum and Ruth were sitting in amazement at the stories as told by Zilpah, however, they had heard similar stories from other friends and were delighted to hear them confirmed.

They tried to ask Zilpah some questions, but she politely asked them to let her finish as there was more!

She told them that friends of theirs were walking to Emmaus when a person appeared out of nowhere and started asking questions,  later that night that person, who was Jesus,  appeared to the disciples and told them he would be leaving soon to return to his father in heaven as  the scriptures had predicted.

Sure enough, forty days after his resurrection, he left his disciples and disappeared like a wisp of smoke into the heavens.

Both Zilpah and Joshua said they had joined a group of friends and they were called Christ People. Later that would change to Christians! One of the disciples, Peter was telling them all about the stories Jesus had been preaching.  The idea of loving your neighbour, asking God for forgiveness and something very special, the idea that Jesus had left something for everyone who believed in him, they called it The Holy Spirit. Zilpah was still learning about it, but said it was something inside of those who believed and it was a way to communicate with the risen Jesus and with God.

It was very late now and we were tired but so excited to learn more. We made a promise to return to their place in the near future to hear more. We went to bed with a new feeling of excitement we had never experienced before.

Nahum, Ruth and the two boys left early morning after spending five productive days with Joshua and Zilpah , family and servants. Joshua treated all his employees like they were part of his family. It made for a very happy working environment as well as an opportunity for the servants to live a respectable life.

We really had a nice time with all of them, and I repaired all their broken items and did not charge them. At least none of the servants, I found out when we got home that Joshua had put some shekels in my tool bag, which I asked Ruth to put in a special hiding place where we save for the boys.

During the trek home both Ruth and Nahum thought about the story Zilpah had told them about Jesus. They did not share each other’s thoughts until later that week when they had some quiet time together.

When they arrived home the two boys went with some friends to the waterfall and pool to cool off and wash the trip dust off!  Ruth unpacked the donkeys and I went to my shop, where I found 12 pairs of sandals, several pieces of harness and a few baskets that customers had left for mending. I started work on them immediately.

The boys came to my shop late in the afternoon and I asked them to go home and ask momma for some bread and cheese and a pouch of wine for me as I wanted to finish the repairs. They returned soon after and I worked until after sunset and finished my work.

On Sunday morning we woke up and had a very nice breakfast, we did not eat a big breakfast during the week, but today we had some bread Ruth had baked the day before, some figs, olives, raisins, cheese and nuts. Most of this came from Joshua’s farms.

After breakfast the boys went out to play and Ruth and I finally started talking about Jesus.

During the trek home they had spent hours in their own silence, with much time to think about what Zilpah had told them. They both claimed to have had some form of spiritual experience during their trip.

When they started chatting, they were both surprised to hear of the other’s experience! They both felt they were being drawn towards this new Christ People movement that had started. They were unsure what to do or how to seek more information.

Their fears were short-lived!! Two days later a friend who owned a market nearby had travelled to Joshua’s farm to buy fresh produce. On his way home he stopped by as Joshua had asked him to tell Nahum and Ruth to please return to their place and to plan on staying for a few weeks. He also asked Nahum to bring extra supplies with his tools as he had many items from neighbours to repair.

Ruth and Nahum were pleased but a bit confused at this request! They had not expected it!

Nahum came up with a great idea. There was a crippled man in the neighbourhood who often spent time around Nahum’s shop, just for something to do. He lived with his sister’s family.

He had been a teacher, one day he was walking home when a team of horses pulling a cart got spooked and he got in their path of destruction and was badly injured and crippled for life. He still did some private teaching but the schools would not hire him. His name was Isaac.

Nahum had made Isaac a fitted pair of boots to assist him with his walking. With the assistance of a cane and the boots, he was able to move about much more easily.

Nahum asked him if he would stay at his shop every day and explain to customers that Nahum was away for a few weeks but would be returning next month. Nahum had already started telling his regular customers too.

Isaac was delighted. They agreed on a salary, which Isaac thought was too much for what he was going to do, but Nahum thought this was his opportunity to show his love for his neighbour as taught by the Christ People. Both men were very happy. Oh, Isaac was also asked to keep an eye on their home too.

The following Monday, Nahum, Ruth, the boys and four donkeys left for Mount of Olives. The fourth donkey was laden with leather pieces, harness fittings and a small bale of special wicker for basket repairs.

Upon arrival at Joshua’s they set up home in one of the empty servants homes and Nahum began his repairs in a farm tool shed.

Every night was spent talking about the Christ People.  On Thursday, they went to their first meeting with Peter.

John Thomas Percival continues working with wood and pondering about the early history of Christianity.
The photo shows, “At the Genisaret Lake,” by Vasily Polenov, painted in 1888.

Nahum The Carpenter: A Tale Of The First Century

Nahum is my name, my two older sisters are are Zilpah and Ilana, my younger brother is Amos. I am living in Jericho with my wife Ruth and two sons, Ezra and Ezekiel.

I am writing this on a Saturday and it is taking me a long time, you see I had to work in my father’s leather shop when I was thirteen and I have not had much schooling!   I am scribing this on a thin piece of leather and will seal it in a clay jar, I hope someone will find it someday and ask for forgiveness for me for my weakness and my betrayal.

You see, yesterday, Friday,   they crucified Jesus and I was part of the crowd yelling NAIL HIM, NAIL HIM!!!

After he was crucified the curtain in the synagogue was torn down the centre, and then the earth went dark! When that darkness came over Jerusalem I too was hit by a cloud of darkness and I was actually struck dumb and unable to speak or even move for over an hour. It was a feeling of total regret and utter humiliation and I believe it was a message from God.

Let me give you some background. I am a shoemaker, I make and repair all types of leather and twine items, but I really like to make sandals. I once gave a pair to Jesus when he came near my little shop!

My father was also a shoemaker; and he went to the synagogue every Sabbath and took his two boys when we were old enough.  When he died, I was 18, I must admit I have not attended synagogue on a regular basis, I am now 38.

About once a month the Rabbis and treasurers call on me, urging me to attend and to bring my sons. When I give them a few shekels they leave me alone.

One day I was working outside my shop, under a sycamore tree when in the distance I noticed some dust rising as a group was walking in my direction.

I had heard from customers that a man by the name of Jesus was marching around preaching and performing miracles, I was very curious so I dropped my awls and needles and went to see what was happening.

The procession had stopped and Jesus was off to the side talking to somebody. I very quietly ran behind some trees where I could see better, and not be seen,  and was surprised to see my poor and blind cousin Bartimaeus  and his buddy calling Jesus’  name. I thought about going over to him and tell him to stop, and don’t embarrass our family, Jesus does not want to see you, looking so poor and dirty, but something stopped me.
Later I was sure glad it did, because Jesus went over to him and his buddy and in no time they both had gained their sight!!! This man Jesus performed a miracle on my cousin and his friend right in front of me.

I listened to some of his sermons and saw some more miracles. After, when I returned to making sandals, I began to think about this man and his teachings. They made me feel different, I had a warm feeling inside of me, and his sermons were meaning more to me than the teachings of the Rabbis at Bet Midrash or Halachot. I really liked what he was saying!!!

I went about my work for the next few weeks, but whenever I could I would talk to someone who had also come to like this man Jesus. I got to hear lots of stories about his miracles and his teachings to love one another. My dad had always taught us to be kind to others, but this man was actually telling us to love them. We really didn’t understand at first.

Then it all changed for me one day when two older men who had known my father and were big supporters of our synagogue came by and said they heard that I gave this man Jesus a pair of sandals and that people have heard that I have been saying nice things about Jesus.

I told them they were correct and I liked his teachings. They asked me to sit down and then they started to say negative things about Jesus, how he was attempting to make changes to our customs that were hundreds of years old and some said that he had been sent from God as his son.

They made fun of him and encouraged me to forget about Jesus and concentrate on the teachings that have been passed down from generation to generation. They really did not threaten me, but they did say that my business would be more successful if I would forget about this man Jesus.

I was very confused, and undecided as to what to do!!! Do I believe what my father taught me, do I forget about Jesus, do I follow the advice of the men who visited me??? What to do???

One day after I finished some baskets I was working on I decided to walk to a bar not far away. It was crowded and much of the talk was about this stranger in our town who is supposed to be performing miracles and preaching about love.

Many of my friends there had consumed a few too many cups of wine and were getting louder and louder! They started to make fun of Jesus and suggested we do something to get rid of him. I did not really participate, but after all many of these guys were my friends and some were my customers.

When they started asking who wanted to get rid of Jesus, the majority signed up! When they asked me I reluctantly said sure me too.

So, you can see now why so many people shouted NAIL HIM, NAIL HIM!!! Me too!

I know it is only Saturday and I do not know what will happen to this man Jesus, will he have a regular burial? Will there be a big funeral, I wonder what will happen???

What I do know is that I regret my decision to reject him, and now I want to find some way to be forgiven.

 

When not whittling another miniature animal, John Percival can be found listening to bird song most evenings.
The photo shows, “Christ in the House of His Parents,” by John Everett Millais, painted in 1849-1850.