Chapter 3 - Gama'li-el School

Friday April 1, 74 AD New Rhakotis

John and Tertius sat under a shade cloth in the middle of the terrace on the second floor of Villa Aleph. John’s face was still somewhat flushed.

“Well do I remember Simca – from our meeting in 34 AD – young, brash and disruptive.”

Tertius frowned. "He claimed to have been working with our enemies. And that his spirit became so troubled that he risked coming here to give you that message. Or else the message itself is some kind of trick.”

Together the two men sat silently.

“I must ask again, in light of Simca’s visit and the concern we have for your safety,” said Tertius. “Are you ready for this?”

“Yes, yes,” said John. “Set the scene.”

“For thousands of years history’s kings, emperors and chiefs have prevented villagers from learning about the True God. Controlling the villagers’ knowledge has given these leaders control of their lives. With the advent of who Jesus is and what Christ teaches, such community oppression is ended forever.”

“Yes, I understand.” John walked back to the meal table and poured another cup of fresh water, returning to stand beside Tertius. “As Apollos has written, the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Dear Ruach, thank you for your Presence.”

“And TFX, we possess a refreshed energos from these words and the words of our Testaments, inspired in us by this Presence of the Holy Spirit of Jesus. This Presence, then, infuses the Word into each believer through the genea, guiding the formation of earthly communities as it will guide the eternal community. This Presence gives us sapientia and sentientia for what Maker God ordains to be written for His people.”

“Dear friend, I can tell you woke early this morning,” said Tertius with a smile. The two men leaned back in their curule chairs and Tertius poured more water for himself. “Matthew II will be arriving soon. He will meet with me to discuss the safety of the eyewitnesses to our Lord's ministry, and their descendants, but first he would like to meet with you to confirm that his father’s is the first Gospel among our collection of testaments.”

Tertius sighed. “There will be many more demands upon you once your arrival becomes widely known. I pray Jesus will guide our use of this precious time. We must decide rightly in these six months, or many Followers will die.”

John stretched his arms overhead, rubbing his eyes, as Tertius continued. “Before that, in the next few weeks, you have time for prayer, refreshment and reflection, along with - only if you wish them - re-visitations to earlier times and events in this century.”

“That would be excellent,” said John enthusiastically.

Tertius gave John a parchment scribed with large black glyphs in combination, glyphs written out in three ancient languages in addition to Hebrew, in a precise order as prescribed in the Messiah Formula scroll.

“These are the glyphs that allow me to travel in a bubble of kairos time?” asked John. “It will be odd to use them without you by my side.”

“John, we will also journey together in the coming months. But now, as part of your time of preparation and reflection, you may wish to follow wherever your reflections take you by revisiting events that took place earlier in this century.”

John smiled appreciatively.

Tertius concluded, “The Knowledge Tessara in the scrollery is open to you, as it always was, and we have laid out here on the terrace all your favorite foods.” As he turned to leave he directed one final piercing glance at John. “Dear friend, if you require anything, ask the the Geber’im or the stewards for what you need. They will also always know how to find me or Lydia.” Tertius walked briskly across the terrace and disappeared through the west portico.

John’s reflections occupied the remainder of the day, time to himself in the Presence of Jesus.

Sat. April 2, 74 AD New Rhakotis

The next day, after a second night of rest, a hearty breakfast, and a visit to the scrollery, John stood again at the terrace railing. Lowering his head for several moments of orienting prayer in Greek, he held the precious parchment in his right hand, and murmured the sacred glyphs.

The recital of the four ancient glyphs allowed John’s spirit and bethbody to spin away from his earthly alephbody. His bethbody was lifted and held within loops of vibrating energy, which wrapped around him to create a kairos bubble. John felt his bethbody to be at rest, seated at one side of the bubble, allowing him to watch and listen to events taking place below.

From within the kairos bubble as it swayed above the earth, John watched his alephbody as it remained standing at the railing in its brick red mantle, while within the bubble his bethbody seemed to be wearing a white garment of the type called colobium.

John knew from previous journeys with Tertius that by placing his hand against the surface of the bubble and thinking/projecting his wishes firmly and clearly, he would be able to move through chronos time and space to observe past times.

Before he began to travel, John had visited the Knowledge Tessara in the scrollery to refresh his knowledge about events of the year 20 AD in and around Judaea, the part of Palestine that faced the Great Sea.

+++ John recalled Evidence of Provenance from the Knowledge Tessara: Eleazer ben A'zariah, the distinguished Hebrew sage and rabbi known as Hill’el, was regarded at the turn of the First Century AD as a priest in the line of Aaron, brother of Moses.

After a political and theological struggle Hill’el defeated Sham’mai, his leading opponent, and gained control of the Jerusalem Sanhedrin. He was therefore able to put his own imprint on the rabbinic training schools and other centers of Hebrew scholarship and historical study.

The Roman Senate regarded Hill’el’s leadership as having a moderating and stabilizing effect on the Hebrews. As a result of one of its agreements with Hill’el, Rome built several Roman style rabbinical schools in and near Jerusalem. The most luxurious school was housed in a villa maritimae with extensive grounds, located near the old Philistine northern capital of Joppa (Tel Aviv), 60 miles from the heart of Jerusalem.

Villa Joppa, as the facility was known, was a residential school for one hundred elite rabbinical students. Student rabbis in training at Villa Joppa came from wealthy Hebrew families throughout the world: Gaulia, Etruria, Anatolia, Alexandria, and Mesopotamia, as well as all the Hebrew states that ringed the Great Sea.

Villa Joppa’s buildings consisted of five large residential towers shaped in the form of a pentagon, connected by arched corridors supported by milk-white Doric columns and colonnades. The student rooms were on the upper floors of the residential towers. Each was furnished with a small bin of study scrolls and a wardrobe of rabbinic dress suitable for the elite student rabbis. Ocean-side windows let the students look out over the beach to the deeper blue-green waters.

Behind the buildings were 2600 aurora of farmland, managed, farmed and harvested by villagers who supplied food for the Rabbinate as well as for sale in Jerusalem and greater Judaea.

With the death of Hill’el in 10 BC, the leadership of Villa Joppa along with the other important and prestigious rabbinic schools in Jerusalem passed to his grandson Abba Arika, known as Gama’li-el (‘reward of God’), who also became head of the Jerusalem Sanhedrin.

Like his grandfather Hill’el, Gama'li-el carried the surname "the Elder". As Hebrew Teacher of Righteousness to the community of Qumran, he recovered legal ordinances from Qumran that validated Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and re-instituted the Torah of Moses, discarded by Hebrews for previous decades in favor of the Torah of Enoch, as the primary parchment of Hebrew honor and high esteem.

The rabbinical schools of Gama’li-el relied primarily upon oral training using Mosaic Testament scrolls, the Tanakh. During school sessions, Gama’li-el taught and lectured on the Tanakh scrolls, sharing interpretations, history, and scriptural precedents. Students were encouraged to question, to express doubt, even to contradict.

By 4 BC Gama’li-el had fathered a son, Simeon II (named for Gama’li-el’s father), who entered rabbinic training at Villa Joppa in 18 AD. +++

With a sigh, John cleared his thoughts. He reached out to place his hand against the surface of the bubble. Holding in his mind the time of 20 AD and the location of Villa Joppa, he mused on the events of that year.

“Under Gama’li-el, in 18 AD, I, John ben Zebedee, Tertius Falcon X of New Rhakotis, and Saul of Tarsus joined Simeon II as all of us entered Villa Joppa. We were quartered together for a four year period of intense study prior to joining the High Priesthood and taking up prescribed roles in the Jerusalem Sanhedrin.”

“In 20 AD, after two rigorous years of study and mentoring under Gama’li-el, and then a long furlough in our respective homes in Capernaum and New Rhakotis, Tertius and I returned to Villa Joppa for our third year of study. I recall that Tertius arrived back two days earlier than I did…”

As John dropped his hand, he looked out to see the very time upon which he had been meditating, and prepared to watch and listen to the young men below.

Mon. April 1, 20 AD School of Gama’li-el, Villa Joppa

"John! Welcome back, you Karaite," exclaimed young Tertius Falcon X. He turned from the window of their shared quarters to greet his friend.

"TFX!" said John, breathless after carrying satchels full of scrolls, tunics and personal items up the stairs to their second story quarters in the Hill'el Tower. The two friends embraced forearm by forearm, as if their separation from each other had been much longer than the five-month furlough allowed them by Gama’li-el.

"How are things in Capernaum?" Tertius’ questions tumbled over each other. "Will Zebedee allow you to stay in school, or is the pressure to run the family business becoming too much to bear?" He frowned. "Perhaps James could manage the fishing boats in your place!”

John started to respond but Tertius kept talking. “John, you are here – so that seems to be a partial answer."

"TFX, slow down, and calm your energos, as we have been taught."

Tertius took a deep breath and then exhaled, looking at John expectantly.

"The chayah after school decision has been made," said John solemnly. “At the end of this school year, I will return home to the family fishing business."

Silence ensued, a silence that was unusual for two young soul mates fond of banter. Tertius and John walked out onto their second floor terrace and stood side by side, quietly looking out onto the crisp morning, seeing the blue sky echoed in the blue-green of the Great Sea.

Looking down at the two young men, John imagined that they themselves might be thinking of turbulent yet joyous times just one year earlier. He touched the inside of the vibrating bubble and remembered...

“In 14 AD TFX brought the art of surfing from the future via this same kairos bubble. Many of the other student rabbis thought us puzzling, or at least mysterious, and wondered at what we did with these long wooden boards.”

“Most of the villagers at Villa Joppa, both the farm workers and those walking or catching fish along the shoreline, gave us a wide berth. But on one particular morning I recall…”

Sitting quietly, John touched his kairos bubble gently and moved it one year back in time at the same location, where he could look down and see the young, vigorous shapes of himself and Tertius in the past.

Sat. April 1, 19 AD On the shore near Villa Joppa

Tertius strode across the sand with his long board under his arm. He met John, who was standing, dripping wet, in front of his own long board, which was stuck vertically in the sand. "I'll be back," declared John, running at a fast pace towards Villa Joppa.

"North or south?" asked Tertius as their glistening bodies, their paths in the sand, momentarily intersected.

"North," replied John. "Waves are north at ten count intervals. See you soon."

Tertius moved into the surf and lifted himself onto his board. As he paddled out, Tertius thought about his dialogue with John the previous day and his ongoing discussions with Geber’im Prime X, who was attached to the phalanx of Scyth warriors encamped near Villa Joppa.

Thoughtfully, John looked over at the Scyths’ campsite and remembered...

"For both religious and military reasons, the Scyths keep two fire pits burning day and night. Horse-tail reed arrows with tips covered in bitumen pitch can be ignited at a moment’s notice. The Scyths have sworn to protect Tertius Falcon X, grandson of Tertius the Great, destined to be Tertian Rex of New Rhakotis and guardian of the Messiah scrolls."

In the distance the younger John could be seen jogging back southwards from the direction of Joppa Harbor. Meanwhile, with his tanned body still glistening wet and his long blond hair slicked back in a knot, the younger Tertius sat cross-legged on the mound of sand next to his long board, which was now jammed vertically into the sand alongside John's board.

As they rose from the sand, the two long boards looked like sentinels guarding a sacred space. As Tertius observed John coming closer, he held his right hand up to his forehead, protecting his eyes from the direct sunlight.

With dizzying speed, a man in a dark tunic rushed across the sand towards the boards. Tertius frowned at his unusual blood-red headband. As Tertius rose to his feet the stranger grabbed Tertius’ long board and began running back across the sand towards Villa Joppa.

Whack! Before the black-clothed stranger had taken more than a few paces with the board, a horse-tail reed arrow tipped in burning pitch, shot in the Scyth style parallel to and just above the sand, embedded itself into the stranger’s left leg. With a guttural cry of pain, the black-clothed stranger collapsed, dropping the stolen board.

“Wow,” murmured John. “Last time I was too far away to see exactly what happened.”

Two Scyths approached the writhing brigand and doused the flames on his leggings and tunic with sand. Then they began to drag him through the sand toward their camp.

A third Scyth recovered the long board and delivered it to GPX, who brought it back to Tertius and jammed it back into the sand, next to John’s board. He stood tall as he reported, “Sire, our informants in Joppa and Jerusalem advised us that such an attack might occur, and we prepared for it.”

“Explain,” said Tertius.

“Our long boards are thought to be 'mystical water chariots', the subject of rumors from Caesarea to Jerusalem. We have learned that the Metratron has offered a high price to anyone who can obtain one.”


“Yes, so much so that we keep your board, John's board and my board under close guard when they are not in use – and we also keep watch when they are in use.”

Tertius sighed. “Thank you, GPX. Please thank all the Geber’im.”

“Sire, the Metatron’s brigands roam the countryside, pillaging as they go. I’m surprised we had only one attacker, as they usual travel in twos or thr – ”

Thundering hoofbeats could be heard as two horses came around the corner of Villa Joppa. Riders in black tunics and red headbands were upon Tertius and GPX almost before they could turn.

The first rider bent low in his saddle, avoiding the flaming arrow that whizzed over his shoulders, and reached for John’s board. Just as the rider was pulling John's board out of the sand, Tertius pulled his own board out of the sand, ramming its leading edge into the rider’s throat.

Whack! Whack! Two horse-tail reed arrows blazed across the beach and struck the second rider in his chest and stomach, passing almost completely through his body and knocking him off his horse.

The first rider had dropped John’s board as two more flaming arrows struck deep into his right thigh and chest, knocking him off his horse and landing him next to the second rider, now ablaze.

Distant cheers and shouts were heard from the villagers working the school’s fields, now assembled at the edge of the fields about fifty meters away from the beach. “Shalom! Shalom!” shouted some of the villagers. Others waved their hats and hands in the air.

Tertius and GPX blocked the sun with their hands and looked towards Villa Joppa. The upper terraces facing the ocean were lined with stone-faced students, standing at the railings in rabbinic robes, intermixed with stern-looking Rabbis in black dress.

John thought to himself, “At the time, I had no idea why the villagers were cheering. I can hear Tertius’ voice in my head…”

“Dear John, from as far back as our student days at Villa Joppa, through to the security of our stronghold at New Rhakotis, we have been granted lives of privilege because of our Holy Spirit-inspired responsibilities as shepherds of Maker God’s Community Zero.”

John turned his gaze back to the beach scene below.

Somewhat out of breath from his run, younger John reached Tertius and GPX. All three men turned their backs to the cheering villagers and the silent school terraces and watched as the the two attackers' bodies were consumed by flames. Tertius' mouth was set in a grim line.

Tertius spoke to the closest of the Scyths. “Cygnus, let them burn out, then remove their bodies, and get a steward to rake the sand, covering up what happened here.” Geber Cygnus nodded and summoned his fellows.

“What a mess,” said John. “What happened?”

Tertius smiled wryly. “John, it appears our long boards and what we do on them have caused speculation surrounding their use, so much so that thieves have tried to steal one.” He pointed at the flaming bodies. “Furthermore, these brigands were sent by Enoch-Metatron. You are the prime Mosaic seed in this generation, and they desire to know about everything you do, and study any items you possess and touch – including your long board.”

“TFX, how will possession of my long board help them substitute Enoch testaments for Mosaic testaments in Hebrew history? Gama’li-el would be a better target. He is the one who judged the Enoch scrolls apocryphal and reinstituted the Mosaic scrolls in the rabbinical curriculum.”

“John, we will speak more about this. But for now, accept what I say.” GPX walked away a few paces and gazed out to sea, as if to give Tertius and John some privacy.

Tertius’ voice was low and his face was intent. “Maker God has chosen you to be the closest earthly friend of the Messiah, well as chief protagonist of His establishment of Community Zero on this earth. This will happen in the near future, in what is to be called in Etruscan, Anno Domini Nostri Iesu Christi – where all time will conclude and all time will begin again."

“Closest earthly friend? – Community Zero? – soon to come Anno Domini?” John frowned, slumping into the sand beside the long boards, which were once again lodged in the sand.

“For now, all you need to know is that warriors of the Metatron roam the countryside in teams of two and three, seeking to kill all with Mosaic bloodlines. However obvious the uses of our long boards may be, according to GPX, they are now also targets.”

GPX nodded, revealing that he had in fact been listening. Tertius continued, “GPX and Cygnus and the others will bandage and query the first Metatron agent, if he is still alive, to determine whether there are any deeper motives behind the desire for long boards, before confining him in Jerusalem.” GPX turned and headed for the camp.

John had now recovered his breath. “What’s with the cheering from the villagers?”

“John, the Metatron warriors have probably pillaged most of the villagers’ homes at one time or another, so these brigands are hated and feared. In contrast, our Scyths hold a weekly congiarium in which they help and feed the poor, from Joppa to the outskirts of Jerusalem.”

“Ah,” said John, “the silver prutah coins, and that wonderful bread – I love that spelt bread!”

“So, at least while I am attending school here and the Scyths are encamped near the villa, the villagers think of the warlike Geber’im as good neighbors. Some of the villagers help them gather information, including details of Roman troop movements in this region.”

“Where are the Romans in all this?”

“John, as you know the closest garrison is in Jerusalem. The Romans leave Gama’li-el and his schools alone, showing their gratitude for his keeping the more radical elements of our Hebrew community under control, if that is ever completely possible.”

Tertius and John shaded their eyes, looking up towards the villa as the assembled watchers dispersed. Tertius shrugged. “I will have to speak with Gama’li-el about this matter.”

“Why?” asked John. “TFX, that is a strange statement.”

While the Geber’im removed the bodies, stewards had set up a small shade tent near the high tide line, and set curule chairs and refreshments beneath it. Bota bags filled with fresh water hung on each chair. John and Tertius seated themselves silently, regaining the calm required for dialogue. Reclining side by side, looking out towards the waves, the two friends watched as the waves of the Great Sea foamed in and out, in and out. At last John spoke.

"Well, TFX, are you settled enough after this Metatron attack to discuss the contents of the copy of the Messiah Spirit scroll that we brought back from Qumran?”

Tertius answered quickly, surprising John with his readiness. "In essence, the Messiah Spirit scroll, assuming our interpretation of the Hieratic-Hebrew fragments is correct, reveals that the Presence and Spirit of God we are studying in prophetic history...”

“Yes, yes, go on,” said John, taking a swig of fresh water.

“...The same Maker God of Creation will come as a divine-human Messiah from the tribe of Judah, who will frame what is to be called the "law of eternity" to guide his followers on earth.”

The sand on John’s arms and legs had dried, and John brushed it off, meanwhile taking another swig from his bota.

Tertius continued, "Of course, Judah is one of the twelve Mosaic tribes that moved 1419 years ago from Egypt to Canaan, or Palestine, as the Romans are now starting to call this larger area of Judaea."

"Agreed," replied John, "but that understanding is already within our Tanakh and prophetic Hebrew writings. Don't we already know about the coming of the Messiah? You certainly suggested this just a few moments ago."

"Yes, of course," said Tertius, also brushing off sand. “We know it from both the Messiah Spirit scroll as well as the Hebrew prophetic writings. What I am trying to underscore for our insight and direction, is the importance of the Spirit of God among the three common substances of God, that is to say, Maker/Father, Messiah/Savior and Spirit/Guider.”

"Stop for a moment," said John. "You pack so much into one sentence – three substances – importance of the Spirit of God – I would need a full length retreat in order to understand them. Please, at least, speak more slowly."

"I will slow down. I just get excited. The Messiah Formula scroll has a formula that will allow us to view events that have occurred in times other than ours. It’s not possible to change the past events, but even to see them – "

“Truly, you have seen and know much, much more than just surfing,” said John.

Tertius continued, “What we are talking about here is about the role of two young Hebrews, you and me, in helping to fulfill God's design for earthly and eternal community. Hints appear in the Messiah scrolls...

John turned his intense eyes on his friend.

“Firstly, the coming of the Messiah, and secondly, John, your role as the closest earthly friend of the Messiah, scribing the praxis of the Spirit of God in the…”

“There it is again!” John murmured.

“…Messianic community, and thirdly, my work under Maker God in preparing the world for sustainable long term community, providing a foundation for our Messiah’s Community Zero for centuries to come.”

The two sat, not looking at each other, for a time that seemed long, both gulping down water from their respective botas.

“Other than that," said Tertius with a smile, attempting to break the tension with his well-used joke about the assassination of Julius Caesar – "Other than that, Pompeia, how did you like the Forum?”

John laughed loudly, and his intense eyes flashed, reveling in thoughts of what Maker God had in store for each of them. "I cannot wait for our retreat.”

John’s kairos bubble, hovering, moved forward one year, to 20 AD, back to the scene that John had re-visited earlier, upon the day when both young men arrived at school for their third year. Thoughtfully he looked down.

Mon. April 1, 20 AD School of Gama’li-el, Villa Joppa

Tertius and John descended from the terrace and walked across the sand to the chairs set up for dialogue. They sat as stewards brought them hot hawthorn-laced tea, a loaf of spelt bread, and a small jar of etrog jam. Ruach moved reassuringly over and between them.

"John," said Tertius, "much has transpired in just one year, during which, thanks be to God, the warriors of the Metatron have not returned."

“Enough memories, for now,” John murmured, focusing his thoughts. "TFX, you alone have known my disappointments here at Villa Joppa. I am dismayed by the power plays, the abuse of female worshippers, and the political haggling of the High Priests.” John sighed. “But most of all I am disappointed with the Sanhedrin, where we are to serve after graduation."

John became even more reflective. "In the Lord’s priesthood, power, politics, abuse and personal gain seem more important than Presence. Supposedly ordained by God, the priests are to represent the Hebrew villagers to their God, and serve them..."

"John – dear John," said Tertius.

"You and I are so naïve," continued John, rubbing his head. “We believed that I could achieve a priest’s highest calling simply by working hard. I thought because my blood was that of Zadok, the founder of our Hebrew Karaitic order – "

Sadness chilled the fire in John’s eyes. He tore a crust from the spelt loaf, dipped it in olive oil, and smeared it with an aliquot of etrog.

“Tertius,” John said, in a shift of mood, “are you serious about studying here? You with your worldly wisdom, mysterious scrolls, and private bodyguards. Why do you even listen to my concerns, when you could be relaxing in your harem or off on some mysterious adventure?”

“Ah,” said Tertius, ”the Moo-ster-ion.” He took a long draught of the hot tea.

Looking down, watching and listening intently, John mused to himself, "Tertius had knowledge of the “Moo-ster-ion” even while we were only 24 years old and still in rabbinic training."

John took another slice of bread and looked at Tertius thoughtfully, as if assessing him. “You have so much in that mind of yours...”

"Indeed – in 20 AD I could not have imagined that Tertius’ exploration of his own nous included explorations of how the Holy Spirit’s Presence pervades – guiding and altering our physical minds within our bodies."

Tertius looked at him sternly. “John, you have never before spoken to me like this. We are best friends, soul mates under Maker God. What have I done to make you question my motives?”

“TFX, I regret the tone of my questions,” said John. “I intended them to be light-hearted, but because I know less about you than I would like, it is hard for me to know what offends you. However, I do wish to know how serious you are about our studies, because I wish to be the top rabbi in our class.”

“Well, it’s possible that because you are a Karaitic Hebrew, Gama’li-el as chief among rabbis could give you lesser standing.”

It was not possible to tell whether Tertius was joking in his turn, but John replied seriously, “I don’t sense that kind of prejudice from Gama’li-el.”

Now Tertius was definitely joking or at least smiling. “At least you don’t wear blue tzitzit on your prayer shawl, rubbing your Karaism in his face...”

John shrugged his shoulders. "TFX, I am part of the Aaronic line of priests of Zadok, the high priest to David and by whom Solomon was crowned, and Zadok's offspring A’zariah, chief priest to Hezeki’ah and his reforms. The essence of the priestly functions we are learning is already in my blood."

"I know that, John. I’ve always known that."

"Well, TFX, you and I were so excited when we read in the Dani'el and Ezeki'el scrolls last year, about Ezekiel's vision from the Lord and the temple where in a vision the Lord took Ezekiel to the chamber of the inner court of the Temple – to the very altar of the Lord. TFX, do you remember what Ezekiel recorded?"

"Yes – but remind me again," Tertius replied, sensing that this was an intense moment for John. He reached over and grabbed John’s shoulder, to steady him. "Speak to me of Ezeki’el, once again." He was relieved to hear John begin to speak, first quietly, then more firmly.

And the Lord said to Ezekiel ... the chamber that faces north is for the priests who have charge of the altar; these are the sons of Zadok who alone among the sons of Levi may come near to the Lord to minister to Him.

With tears running down his face, John put out his hand and rested it on Tertius’ shoulder. "TFX, although my father has made the decision that I will work in our fishing business, Zebedee, underneath, truly desires me to be a High Priest.”

“Yes, I know,” said Tertius gently, grabbing a spelt crust.

“And as you know, my father Zebedee paid dearly for me to obtain a priest candidacy at Villa Joppa and to study under Gama’li-el. It is in my blood and destiny to serve the Lord at his altar. But the Villa Joppa style of priesthood is not where I am to be.”

John paused, sipping his hawthorn-laced green tea. “TFX, power brokering and selfish, lustful living is not what Maker God intended for the spiritual priests who serve his villagers." He seemed to be seeing far beyond the horizon. "Our chosen people for the last two thousand years have been blessed by Ruach and then seemingly abandoned by Him due to our unfaithfulness. I do not know why He has not abandoned us completely. But Isaiah prophesied that there would be a remnant. He is here, His Presence is upon us, right now."

Tertius then spoke up, almost as if he were in class. "Our Maker God both judges and restores those with whom he has hesed. Ruach, in our history, has done this time and again, preserving always a remnant."

"I know," said John. "I pray that He will show me how to serve Him at his side."

Silence fell between the two young men. Ruach inspired their thoughts, feeling like the spiritual equivalent of the warm breeze that wafted in from the ocean and struck their tanned bodies.

"My father Zebedee has given me permission to finish this year only," said John. "After that I will return to Galilee to work in our growing family fishing business, one year short of completing my studies. Lost is any idea of being a priest."

“Well John, when you were in Caper'na-um you did speak to Zebedee clearly about what you really think about the self-serving praxis of the High Priests of the Sanhedrin. It sounds as if you spoke decisively enough to make your father question the wisdom of spending so much on your training.”

“Yes -- yes I did indeed do that.”

"John, as I hinted to you last year, the time will come when Ruach will lead you to do what you and I know you are destined to do, and to be at His side."

As Tertius smiled broadly, John asked, “What?” Meanwhile he grabbed another crust and slathered it with etrog.

For a change, Tertius spoke slowly. "Perhaps...we must think of the Messiah's coming and the need for priests to attend to the Messiah in a somewhat different manner.”

John’s head snapped around towards Tertius, who continued, “Quite possibly we must not think in a Levitical sense, as a priest of the powerful Sanhedrin, but think of priests or disciples of more humble origins, from backgrounds such as your own, priests more like the prophet and priest Amos, than like Gama’li-el."

“Tertius, now who is speaking about the larger picture?” But this remark triggered another thought in John. “TFX, dear TFX, we must together dig more deeply into the meaning of what you have just foretold, particularly the foretelling pertaining to me, within the Messiah Spirit scroll."

“And to an evil image concerning me,” said Tertius. “There is to be an evil imago that will haunt me personally, named by the Messiah Spirit scroll as Belial, leader of the Proto-Ankh and the Metatron. And finally there are my father's ties to Rome, which always seeks to control all our thoughts and movements. So perhaps you truly should question my motives.”

With these statements, almost as if on cue, Ruach from within them called up a chilly wind from the ocean. Both of them stood, John shivering slightly.

Tertius said, "Thanks be to God, both of us have and know His Presence, the presence of the Spirit of God, Who watches over us and inspires us, to, to decide our life events rightly.”

John turned to lead the way back to Villa Joppa. “Tomorrow let us spend some individual time in prayer and after morning classes return here for our mid-day meal. Possibly more insight may come.”

“Agreed,” said Tertius. As they both walked towards Villa Joppa, he parted from John with one last clasp of the forearms, then turned to find GPX waiting for him.

“Sire, John seems troubled,” said GPX.

“Indeed he is,” said Tertius. “I shared with him my Amos vision about his future. We’ll see.”

John mused to himself, "And I am in a stew again. At the very least, I am weary. I will return to 74 AD, take some rest, and then perhaps view more of our past in 20 AD tomorrow."

Prayerfully, John spoke the glyphs that would return his spirit and his bethbody to the time and place where his alephbody, for which no chronos time at all seemed to have passed, waited on the terrace of Villa Aleph.