John’s family home
John looked up to see Malachi approach his bench in the peristyle. "Malachi, what brings you here?"
"‘Old Simon' sent this basket of ordinary grade parchment for you."
"How did he know about you?"
"I am not sure. Perhaps he overheard me talking to Benjamin after Rachel was injured."
"And he will still employ you?"
"Yes. He said I was a good worker, and honest."
John smiled, "You are making a good witness. Well done."
"I am trying to do as you said… that it is not enough to hear what our Savior said; we must live His words."
"That is true." Taking the basket and putting it on the floor beside him, he called, "Benjamin! Come here for a moment."
Hurrying from the house, Benjamin asked, "Is something the matter, Saba?"
"No, quite the opposite. See. God still answers prayer in unusual ways. ‘Old Simon' sent this basket of supplies."
"He closed his son's stall in the market and brought everything to his shop," Malachi told him.
"I will go buy some more tomorrow before he closes for the Sabbath," Benjamin said excitedly. "This means we can make copies of all the scriptures remaining in your storeroom, Saba."
"The shop will be closed for a week," Malachi told him. "He has declared his son dead," he added. "He went to see the rabbi today, and then went to the market. Oh, and he said to tell you, Saba, that if you wanted more, to see him after the shop reopens, and he will talk to you about the account then."
"Now we have enough supplies you will be able to finish copying all the scrolls, Benjamin. But you will need help," John said.
"Jason has a good hand."
"Then if he will do more copying, yes, that would be excellent," said John, unpacking the contents of the basket. "Look, more pens and ink..."
"I thought they would be useful, so I added them," Malachi said. "I made a note so they can be added to your account." Instead of leaving, he looked shyly at John. "I can write a neat, accurate hand, too. I would like to help with the copying. I have the whole week with no work."
Benjamin and John exchanged glances.
"I will not need to be paid; both Doran and I were paid for the week. And check my work. Give me something to copy and I will show you."
"I do not doubt your ability, my boy.” John assured him. “You would not have survived in ‘Old Simon's' shop for more than one day if you had not been skilled at writing and calculating. No, my boy, if I seem less enthusiastic than you expect me to be, it is because I am again awed at the way God provides."
"We were talking of that earlier, Saba and I," said Benjamin. "This work needs to be done as soon as possible, and without coming to the attention of the Roman soldiers. We do not want the writings destroyed. God has provided us with supplies, and with no one seeing us bringing home an unusual amount. And look, Saba, there are pens and inks enough for all of us to use."
John's eyes crinkled in a grin as he looked at Benjamin. It was like watching him when he was young, joyously receive a Feast gift.
Benjamin went on, "We restored the upper room to some order just after last Sabbath, so there is somewhere for us to work. And all this can happen without troubling Naomi and Lois in their caring for that poor young girl."
"Because you are a neighbor of ours, it will not seem odd to any watching soldiers that you come here. God is good indeed. Praise His holy name!" John said catching the excitement.
"If you have a few moments before you go home, come with me and help me make space for you in the upper room," Benjamin said. "When Abba and the others come home, I will ask Jason if he too will do some copying, but it will be in the evening."
"Alexander, too..." prompted John.
"Alexander, too," agreed Benjamin.
"It will be a surprise for Abba and Alexander when they come home and find all this."
"And your mother is busy caring for young Rachel; so she will not have time to worry unduly. How well everything works out when God uses bad situations to draw out good results."
"Yes, Saba. So Malachi, if you will come with me, we can set up space for you before you go home for your meal," Benjamin said and turned to leave.
Malachi asked, "Do you want me to come here early in the morning, Saba?"
"I would appreciate that," John said. "Now go and help Benjamin as you said."
Eleven days later, early in the morning
"The weather is worsening. We have to get Rachel out of the city soon," Naomi said urgently, as she came out of the door of the small meeting room and met her husband on his way from the triclinium.
"It’s barely been two weeks, and Phillip said the broken rib will take a few weeks to heal," Samuel reminded her.
"We cannot delay. Soon it will be the coldest season of the year. We cannot risk her developing a chill if she travels in the cold weather…"
"…that the next few weeks will bring," Samuel finished for her.
"A cough could prove dangerous for her."
"She could stay here," said Benjamin, wandering in on the conversation between his parents.
"It is too risky," Naomi replied. "I have been talking with Elizabeth when she visits. She worries that someone from the Jewish community will find out where Rachel is.”
"Our brethren wondered why we have not had the Sabbath meetings here, and she might still be here next Sabbath. I cannot say that we are using our small meeting room to look after an injured Jewish girl," Samuel admitted.
"We need to help her recover enough to be moved to where she can be cared for safely."
"But where her mother wants her to go is to someone of our fellowship," Benjamin chuckled.
John came out of the room where he had been paying Rachel his usual morning visit. In a low voice he said, "We need to continue this conversation elsewhere, Rachel and I heard every word that was said."
"We need to remember she is here… and she needs rest," Naomi said, shooing them in the direction of the small foyer.
"We were not talking about anything that would put what we are doing at risk," Samuel said in a low voice. "However, it is a lesson that we should be careful that we are not overheard, and not only here."
When they had moved to the small foyer, Benjamin repeated what he had said, "Where her mother wants her to go is to someone of our fellowship."
"Aha." John smiled, "Rhea is a former servant of Elizabeth's sister Sara. No one would think she has become a follower of the ‘Way,' and Elizabeth does not intend to tell her father-in-law."
Benjamin asked, "What does Phillip say? When does he think she will be ready for the journey?"
"Yes, that is something I would like to know also," said Elizabeth, as she walked along the passage with Lois.
"You are early, Elizabeth," Naomi observed.
"I have fallen far behind in my household chores, and I also need to stop at the market on my way home. I have been going after I leave here, but at that time of day there is little of good quality left. So I thought if I came early, then I would be able to leave a little earlier than normal."
"I will just go in and check that Rachel has not gone back to sleep and tell her you are here," Lois murmured, excusing herself.
"You are in a very awkward position, Elizabeth. It must be difficult for you with no one to help you, or for you to confide in," Naomi sympathized.
"It is better than if she had died," Elizabeth said quietly.
Naomi smiled. Now, she had a good idea from whom Rachel had developed her resolve. "You speak the truth, Elizabeth. In the short time she has been here, we have seen your daughter is a stubborn and determined young woman. She has been sitting up, and even trying to walk a few steps. Lois caught her when she went in to do some of the chores."
"Rachel was never one to be beaten by a challenge."
Hearing, Samuel turned and looked at Elizabeth thoughtfully. God had ways of making people stop and listen. Whilst He did not cause the girl's father to beat her, He had drawn possible benefit out of it. Now the girl was in a situation where she was surrounded by believers, and unable to remove herself, and her mother was visiting daily. John had told him of the mother and daughter's appearance at the extra meeting in the village where Rhea lived. Who but God knew His plan for them?
"What is the road between here and the village like?" Elizabeth asked, remembering the very bumpy journey she and Rachel had taken during the Feast of Tabernacles. "The one from my other sister's farm to the village was very rough part of the way. Although I agree that it is important for her to travel before the weather becomes worse, I do not want Rachel to be injured by the journey."
"Benjamin?" Samuel queried. "You brought Saba home from there, what is the road like?"
"It was good then, but perhaps the rains have damaged it."
"It is a road used by Roman soldiers. If there has been any damage, it will have been repaired," John pointed out.
Returning, Lois said, "Rachel wants you to know that she would like to leave now." Although Lois did not repeat it, Rachel had also been concerned about the Jewish community finding out. Not for herself, but for her mother and grandfather. "She heard what you said about a cough, and does not want to risk being chilled. It is still difficult for her to breathe deeply. She knows the weather will worsen, and would like to travel before it does." Then turning to Elizabeth, Lois said with a smile, "She is waiting for you to visit her."
Samuel turned to John and said, "I would appreciate a few moments of your time, Saba."
John turned to follow Samuel to the small courtyard where they could talk privately. Although the writing and copying had continued while Rachel was in the house, they had tried to be careful what they said. This morning was a reminder that they had relaxed their guard. Fortunately, the conversation had been about her, not their plans. If Rachel or her mother were ever questioned, they would not be able to betray anything about the transfer of the moneys, or the writings.
"Alexander and Jason left early," Benjamin said to his mother. "I did not even hear them go downstairs."
"Samuel said that a new shipment of supplies for the lamps had arrived before the Roman festival, and they did not have time to sort them out. Alexander and Jason were going to move them to the new workshop, and then stay to help Giannis," Naomi told him.
"They did not say anything last evening when we were doing the copying," Benjamin said, then remembered… "Ah, but none of us had time for talking."
Ever practical, Naomi said, "Either Samuel or Alexander must arrange to have those shipments sent to the new workshop."
"On the subject of arranging matters, if Rachel is to be moved, should Rhea be informed that she is coming?" Lois asked.
"Saba and Elizabeth have talked about that. A message was sent to say that an injured girl would be coming to her home, but not who she was. When she is able to visit Rachel at the village, Elizabeth wants to see her sisters and tell them herself. Because Rhea was a servant to one of the sisters, Elizabeth is concerned they, or at least Sara, will find out."
Having been lost in thought, Benjamin asked, "How will you take her there?"
"Phillip has his cart and donkey," Lois reminded him.
"But it will take most of the day to move Rachel there and check her after the journey. It will probably be the next day before Phillip can travel back. Whilst Abraham can attend any usual medical needs, if the cart is required while he is away..." Naomi's comment hung in the air.
Elizabeth came looking for them. "Rachel would like to know what is being decided."
"We are trying to work out how to move her there, safely," Naomi answered.
"I could take her there," Benjamin spoke up. "I could hire a donkey and cart, I know of Rhea. Bartholomew, the elder of the group, said that she has saved many young people."
Elizabeth tensed. She had seen the way Benjamin looked at her daughter. It was one of the reasons she was keen to have the girl moved.
Naomi was aware of Elizabeth's reaction, and she shared the same concerns. Saba had been teaching Rachel some of their beliefs, but to allow her son's interest in her to develop at this point would be foolish, or worse. Deborah, the only girl he had wanted as a wife, had been married off to a false teacher by her family. The experience had led to Benjamin leaving home for months to work in a vineyard. No, she must remove temptation. Unless the girl converted, there was only more heartache for him.
Elizabeth said, "My father-in-law would lend us his cart and donkey. It is mainly used when shipments of parchment and papyrus arrive, and to deliver large orders. There is no need at present."
Lois spoke at the same time. "I believe it is to save the girl's reputation from harm that only Phillip has treated her, not his son Abraham."
"Traveling all that way in the company of Benjamin would not be seemly either," Naomi added, with a grateful glance at Elizabeth for her suggestion. "When she is well enough to return home, there should be no suggestion of a stain on her character."
"Will she be able to return home?" Benjamin asked Elizabeth.
"Yes, she will," Elizabeth said. "My father-in-law told the rabbi that Rachel was to be cared for by my sister's servant. It will be assumed that because Sara and Micah are Jewish, the servant is also." She did not tell them that her father-in-law did not know that Rachel was still in their home.
"Much improvement in Rachel's condition is needed before she will be able to return to her home," Naomi reminded them. "I will speak to Phillip when he next comes to check on her. He will decide when she can be moved." Turning to Elizabeth she asked, "When Phillip says she can make the journey, how soon will the donkey and cart be available?"
"At this time of year, my father-in-law has no need of it. However, it would be best if you told me the day before. When Malachi returns, he could bring it here when he finishes work for the day, and neither Doran nor any customers will see it leaving."
"Of course, that is supposing that Malachi will be back from Patara before Rachel needs to be moved, Naomi pointed out.
"But it sounds as if it is a satisfactory solution, Aima. When Phillip comes back from taking Rachel to the village, Malachi can return the donkey and cart early the next morning, before the shop opens," Benjamin added.
Naomi laughed. Not only had her son suggested a likely solution, but also he had been successfully distracted from wanting to accompany Rachel.
"So may I go back to my daughter now?" Elizabeth asked.
"Tell her it is up to Phillip to decide when she may leave," Naomi replied, as she accompanied Elizabeth to the door. "I will check if she wants anything."
The door to the small meeting room was open, and Rachel stood there, bent over, clutching her ribs and balancing against the door frame. "I wanted to know what you had decided, and I could not hear you anymore."
Elizabeth gasped, "Rachel!"
"Back to the sleeping couch, young lady, or you will be going nowhere. You need to allow your body to heal," Naomi ordered. Then, seeing that Elizabeth was coping with her determined daughter, she went off to find Lois and plan the day's chores.
"Aima, I am trying to be well enough to make the journey," Rachel apologized.
"Do not be impatient," her mother cautioned. "I can see how much pain you are in."
"The doctor strapped me up. Although it is painful, now I am able to rise from that couch. Aima, I am so bored and sad."
"I realize you must be. But you must be sensible. If you slipped, you could cause yourself even more damage… which would mean taking longer to heal fully."
"I thought I heard your voice," Benjamin said as he walked toward them. "It is encouraging to see you up."
Noticing Benjamin's gaze, and seeing the interest in her daughter's eyes, Elizabeth moved forward and stood beside her daughter. There were so many sore places on Rachel's body; she had to wait for her daughter to take hold of her.
As she walked haltingly toward the couch with her mother, Rachel glanced over her shoulder and said to Benjamin, "It is encouraging for me to be able to walk this far."
"I had better go and do my chores," Benjamin said, although loath to leave.
"Oh Rachel," Elizabeth sighed when she had settled her daughter on the couch. "I realize this is frustrating for you. You have always been so nimble and are used to doing everything quickly, but if you want to return to that, you have to cooperate and not try to do so much." Elizabeth hesitated to point out that it was not quite two weeks since her father had beaten her. She did not want to remind the girl.
"I am afraid that I will not be quick and nimble again, Aima. That is why I have to push myself a little, to see what I can do."
"As I said, you could damage yourself. Child, you will have to be patient and trust that you will recover fully," Elizabeth said, then paused, astonished when she heard her words. She sounded like them. Another reason, she thought, for her daughter to be moved as soon as possible. With Rachel gone, there would be no need for her to visit, and listen to their beliefs. Life was complicated enough without her exploring a faith that would cause her to be cast out of her home and family.
"That's what the old man, Saba, says to me," Rachel admitted, not noticing her mother's preoccupation.
Sitting on the chair by Rachel, Elizabeth admitted, "I will miss you, child, when you go to Rhea's home. I have been..." what? Her first thought had been ‘blessed'… but that was their way of talking, not the way of a Jewish wife. Closing her eyes, she sought for words. In the Jewish community, she was a widow. Her daughter lived though! Opening her eyes and looking gratefully at her daughter, she said, "It has been good to be able to come and visit you." She reached out and touched Rachel's face. The bruises were fading, but it did not seem that her face would be as it had been before. Anger toward Meshua consumed Elizabeth every time she looked at her daughter.
"But you are thinking the longer I am here, the more chance of someone from our community finding out that I am with... what they call heretics. I heard you talking before."
"Yes, child. When you return home, if people know about this, it will make it hard for you among the Jewish community."
Why was her mother concerned about what the Jewish community thought? ‘Oh no,' surely not. "Aima, I hope you are not going to pursue marriage deals for me."
"No, Rachel. When it comes time for that, it will be your Saba who does that. He is your next male relative."
"What about the rabbi? Did he accept what my Saba told him?"
"I understand so. But your return home is a long time away. I talked with the doctor, Phillip, yesterday. He said it would be many weeks yet before you are able to come back home."
Sighing, Rachel said, "I wish it had never happened. I wish it was all a dream, a nasty one, but a dream just the same."
"You have no idea how many times I have wished the same thing, my dear."
There was a tap at the door, and Naomi looked in, "Phillip is here, do you mind if I send him in?"
"No," Elizabeth sighed, knowing that her short time with her daughter was going to be shortened more. She stood up, kissed Rachel, and left the room.
Outside, Phillip said softly, "I will not take long, Elizabeth. Stay if you can. I am going to check and see when it might be possible for Rachel to travel."
Tears came to Elizabeth's eyes.
"She is a determined young woman." Phillip said, "Those injuries would have..."
"Killed?" Elizabeth supplied the missing word.
"Yes, they would have killed someone with less fortitude than your daughter," Phillip agreed. He knew better than to say that God must have some purpose for the girl. Although he was sure that after visiting during this time, Elizabeth was becoming used to their way of speaking, she was not yet ready for the leap it would take for her to know that God was in charge of all their lives.
Lowering her eyes and nodding her head, Elizabeth went into the foyer. "He said I should wait," she told Naomi, who was waiting to accompany Phillip into the room.
Lois came and said, "Hopefully it will be good news. Come and sit with me in the alcove."
Elizabeth looked around expecting to see Benjamin hovering nearby.
"He has gone to do some copying," Lois said, correctly interpreting the Elizabeth's concern.
"Ah yes, keeping my father-in-law rich," Elizabeth said, with a wry smile.
Samuel and John were still in the courtyard, discussing matters.
"Saba, do you think it possible to send the copy of your writings in the cart that transports Rachel?"
"Does her mother want to travel with her?" John asked.
"Why?" Samuel was puzzled by the question.
"Because there is a considerable amount of the writing, taking it would be obvious. We knew this opportunity would come, and Benjamin has already packed it in a large wooden box."
"You are always ahead of us in your thoughts," laughed Samuel.
"I have had many more years of experience that is all. I would have liked to travel with her, but after my recent experience, it would be foolish to attempt it."
"You mean when the Roman soldiers followed you to the edge of the city, then stopped you from going any further?"
"Yes. It is as I suspected. They are watching, but not interfering... unless I want to leave the city."
"So, you still think that they will imprison you again, Saba?"
"Yes. I do. You know I have been saying that for some time now. And now I am trying to prepare Naomi. Having Lois' wedding to think about, and then that poor young woman to tend, has given her some other things to occupy herself with, to keep her mind busy."
"Saba... you know how she feels, how she behaves when anything happens to you."
"That is what I have been discussing with her in the times we share a moment. I am old. She must accept that God will not let me live forever as a human being."
Samuel smiled. Naomi had repeated this to him in their chamber. "I have been reinforcing that fact."
"Sometimes she sits with Rachel and me when we talk, so I have been able to mention things like not fighting God's will."
"Do you think either of them understands?"
"I am sowing seed. At the right time, it will sprout and grow."
"You are always expecting a favorable outcome."
"I know Who is in charge. If it is His will, it will be done. Now, on another matter, I will be shut in my room writing for a time. I need to finish these memories."
"Benjamin is helping, is he not?"
"Benjamin is making copies as fast as I am writing," John laughed. "Some are going to Matthew for further copying and distribution. Buccolis and Polycarp are anxiously waiting, as the messengers who attend our Sabbath meetings tell me. And when Bartholomew and I talked at the Feast, I promised him copies of the scriptures I have, to distribute around his area. This would be the ideal opportunity to send them to his group."
"I agree," said Samuel. "You cannot leave the city it seems, Benjamin and I are well-known to the soldiers, and we do not want anyone else involved."
"The girl, Rachel, being here has worked out to be a blessing. Until all the moneys and as much of the writings as possible were moved, I wanted to have very few ‘distractions.' You know, I told you that before."
"Has Phillip attending here so regularly aroused any interest from the soldiers?" Samuel wondered.
"I do not think they even notice him. They know he is a doctor, and they no longer follow him, so he can travel around freely."
"It has meant that he has been able to deliver some of the writings also," Samuel smiled.
"I know. I wanted to protect the people who had copies from the attention of the Romans, and safeguard Matthew and Ednah from suspicion when my arrest comes."
"What is this?" Naomi asked as she approached them. They had been so deep in discussion her approach had been unnoticed.
"I have been telling you about this, Naomi. They will imprison me again, perhaps take me to Rome. You must pray for the strength you will need, and not fight against God. You will not win that battle." John looked at her indulgently.
"I am trying, Saba."
"Now, what did you want? It is not meal time yet."
"I came to tell you that Phillip has said that he thinks, considering everything, Rachel will be able to travel now."
Standing up, Samuel asked, "I will have to make arrangements."
"No, all is arranged. Your son and Elizabeth have worked it all out," Naomi said, then laughed at her husband's puzzled look.
"Elizabeth has left. When Malachi returns from Patara, she says ‘Old Simon' will send the donkey and cart home with him. She thinks he will be happy to have her moved, safe from those … synagogue people, finding out," Naomi explained, then turned to go indoors. Elizabeth was not the only one falling behind with chores this week.
"Does Elizabeth plan to go with her?" John called after her.
Turning back, Naomi replied, "She wanted to, but there is no time for her to find someone to look after ‘Old Simon' while she is gone. She wants to be the person to tell her sisters what has happened. She will send a note to Rhea explaining what has happened." With that she hurried away.
"That will make transporting the box containing the copies easier, as well as making it safer for Phillip. He can honestly tell any soldier who asks his purpose that he is taking a Jewish girl who has been sick, to her family."
"What is it you often quote from our brother Paul's writings?" Samuel chuckled. "All things work together for good..."
"In more ways than you think," John replied
"You heard Naomi. Elizabeth can now plan her visit to her sisters, see her other daughter, the young one, Esther, and at the same time visit Rachel."
"The timing has been opportune altogether. Malachi should return soon and the Roman festival of Compitalia is over. Fortunately there are not many crossroads between Patara and here, so if Malachi is traveling now, there should not be delays, or fines. Here, it will be safe to travel again. In the meantime, during these days Samuel’s shop has been closed Alexander was able to help Giannis with his workshop, and Jason worked on his area."
"It was better for Alexander to help build those hidden cupboards behind the ones for stock," John said, "No workmen knowing the secret."
"And a safe place for many of the manuscripts from your storeroom. Benjamin has done very well with copying so many in a short time."
"He has indeed, and accurate copies as always," John smiled, "Malachi also helped before he left. Now, until Naomi calls us to our meal, would you check what Benjamin has done? He is copying my writings."
"Of course, Saba. I enjoy the opportunity to read your memories."
"And I must go and continue writing. Time runs short."
Knowing the women would be busy, the pair made their way upstairs.
"I have finished copying what you wrote about the last Passover that Jesus kept with you," Benjamin said, looking up as they entered the upper room.
"Your father is here to read over your work. He knows the events that happened, and that will leave me free to go to my chamber and write some more. I am almost finished." With that he hurried away. After the cold weeks that were coming, it would soon be the start of the Jewish religious year, and soon after, sea travel would recommence.
"It has been good to have this room at least partially restored. All the pages I have copied are laid out on the table sections," Benjamin told his father.
For a while, the only sound in the room was the sound of parchment being handled and the pen scratching.
After reading for some time, Samuel straightened up, turned to his son and asked, "What did you think as you were copying this account?"
Benjamin paused in his work and looked across the room at his father. "When I copied the part about Jesus washing everyone's feet..."
"You thought of Peter's objection?" Samuel interrupted.
"No, I have heard Saba teach on that many times. What I thought was that Judas Iscariot was there at the time. Yet Jesus washed his feet."
"You are remembering that Saba has written, and told us, that Jesus knew Judas was going to betray Him."
"Yes. I remembered, and I do not believe I could do such a thing."
"Instead of thinking of that, think of what it tells you about our Savior... about His character, about the depth of His commitment to His Father's will."
After considering for a few moments, Benjamin said, "He said that we should also serve."
"Only to the degree we are gifted."
"I have noticed in all these writings, how many times Jesus warned his followers not to be like the scribes and Pharisees, who do all things to be seen and honored by men."
"Did you understand what He meant about doing our good works in secret?"
"Yes, because God sees everything, He will reward us. But if we tell people what we have done, our reward is men's good opinion of us."
"You understand well."
"I have good teachers," Benjamin smiled and bent his head over his work again.
Samuel continued reading what Benjamin had copied. Tears came to his eyes as he read of Peter's denial, and thought of the loneliness Jesus would have felt. He was God in the flesh, but He was a man also. He knew writing this account would have been very hard for Saba. He had known what happened... how Jesus was spat upon, mocked, had his beard plucked out. All that had been prophesied of by the prophet Isaiah had been fulfilled.
John entered the room and passed a few more pages to Benjamin.
The room was charged with emotion, and no one spoke.
Having returned a few moments ago, Jason sought out Saba as he normally did. He found him in the upper room with Benjamin and Samuel, and he hurried toward the doorway... and stopped. Something he did not understand, held him back, and he stood there, staring, waiting.
John looked up, "Jason, back already? Where has the time gone? Come in, my boy."
Whatever had been holding him outside, released him, and Jason went into the room. "What was that strange sensation?” he asked, “I could not enter."
"I do not know, my boy. We were all lost in our thoughts about these writings," John said.
"What are they about? May I look?"
At John's nod, Samuel stepped aside and pointed to the first page, "Start from there," and smiled.
Putting the stopper on the ink and cleaning the pen, Benjamin said, "I will copy some more tomorrow. I need to stop and consider all that happened; all I have written." He looked at his Saba with new understanding. Now he understood why recording this was very difficult for him.
"I will go and see if Naomi needs any wine diluted," Samuel announced, and he and Benjamin left the room.
John stood and watched Jason's expressions as he read through the pages.
"Why did this Jesus have to go through all that? If He was your Savior, could He not have sent for those angels and killed the people who were doing this to Him?"
"These are significant questions, young man. It will take more time that we have before our meal. If you want me to answer them, come to my room after we eat tonight, and I will explain."
"Will you be working with Benjamin?"
"No, he has enough work here to copy, and I have recorded all the parts that I find difficult..."
"I would like it if you explain, so I shall come to your chamber, and listen to you this evening."
"Good. Now tell me how it is progressing at Giannis' workshop."
"One of the members of your fellowship, a carpenter, came and helped them put in those cupboards Giannis wanted to store his stock."
John looked at him. He knew Alexander and Giannis had decided not to tell the lad all that would be stored there. "And what were you doing?" John smiled.
"I was setting up a workbench at the other end, far from where Giannis will make his pottery. So we are not in each other's way."
"Ah yes, I remember Alexander said that someone had come and set up what you need to make your lamps."
"It was done just before the beginning of the Roman festival. I have been moving some tools and supplies of the metal and storing them ready to start." Jason was excited as he explained.
"Surely you did not do it alone? I remember Samuel said that a supply of the metal had arrived recently."
"Alexander helped, and there was a young man looking for some work. Alexander said it would be alright to hire him to help me. He had work for the afternoon, so he helped me move everything and then hurried away with the fee Alexander paid him. I did not need any more help though. Only I know the way I work and how I need things, so after the man left, Alexander helped Giannis at the other end. It is a big workshop."
"So will you do all the lamp-making there when it is set up correctly?"
"Most of it, Saba. I will keep a small supply in the room where I worked in Samuel's shop. That will be useful if repairs are needed. Sometimes people bring their lamps for repair, but mostly that room will be used to keep finished lamps. When Giannis is ready and starts his pottery making, I will use the workshop he has given me. He will make some pottery lamps and jars."
"It sounds as if everything has been well worked out. Do you know when Giannis' section will be ready to start?"
"Did he not tell you anything on your Sabbath day?"
"We do not discuss our ‘own concerns' on the Sabbath. Work is something for the other six days of the week."
"Oh..." Realization dawned on him. That was why no one asked either him or Giannis or even Samuel about their work.
"Come Jason. Let us go downstairs and wash ready for our meal. Judging by the fact you are home, and the light is starting to fade, it must be near time."
"Alexander stayed on for a little while to help Giannis with the storage places that are being built. Giannis must be intending to keep a lot of stock. I noticed his cupboards are quite deep, and he wants more than one."
"Giannis knows what he needs. Some of the pots he made when he was in Cyprus were very large. If he intends to make similar pots here, he will need a lot of space."
"Like those large amphorae that we sell at the shop."
"He will make whatever is needed, and Samuel will not be his only customer."
"Oh yes, I remember him saying so. He wants to start selling as soon as he can, so he can marry."
"That might take a few months to achieve. In the meantime, do you feel any better about your brother marrying Rhoda?"
"She is kind. I like her."
"That will make it easier little brother," Alexander said as he walked into the room.
"I did not know you were home."
"I have only come back. Naomi said you were up here, so I came to tell you it is time to wash for our meal."
"I do like Rhoda," Jason assured his brother. "I will miss you, but Samuel said that they would all like me to stay here."
"And so we do, young man, so we do," John said, affectionately ruffling the youngster's still unruly hair. "Let us go down and make ourselves ready for the meal."