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Chapter 233 - Intensive interrogation of the 12 Pharisees
233,1. Preliminary hearings quickly get under way, and at their rapid conclusion, the 12 are brought before the judge. In response to the Chief Judge’s interrogation, they say: ‘We are lords to ourselves and have our own court at the Jerusalem Temple. Other than to God and that other court we are not answerable to anyone for any doings or omissions and therefore you can question us as much as you like and still receive no answer from us. For our stand is based very firmly upon law, and you shall not be capable of bringing up anything against us.’
233,2. Says the Judge: ‘For this type of intransigence I carry a special remedy: it consists in rod and scourge. These are bound to make you speak. For the court is no respecter of persons. All are equal before the court.’
233,3. Says the leader of the 12 Pharisees: ‘O, this remedy we are fully aware of, together with its power and effect, but we are also aware of yet another remedy. If we should choose to, and probably will make use of this one, then we probably are the last ones you shall ever be putting on trial. Are you acquainted with Caesar Augustus’ prestigious certification, written in his own hand for the Jerusalemite priests, which reads as follows:
233,4. “This particular priestly caste is more pleasing to the imperial throne than any of the others, wherefore their laws and privileges are to be protected as sacred. Whoever would attack these, beware. Such offender shall be severely prosecuted as traitorous.” This law is as current as it was 30 years ago. Should it not have been known to you, then we have now called it to your mind. Proceed now as you will and we shall do likewise.
233,5. We have completely rightful possession of our seizures, and none can or has the right to take them. Temporary power can indeed do so, for our counter-force is too small. But when we get ourselves through this, we must be set free, whereupon we shall know how to institute other proceedings.’
233,6. Says the chief judge: ‘Nor do I sit in judgment here over the seizures which, before God and all righteous men, you have wrested unto yourselves as ignominious robbery rather than through just possession, for I am well aware of the privileges you have wrung out of the emperor with your artful hypocrisy.
233,7. Had an Augustus known you the way I do, verily, you would have received a quite different certification. Unfortunately, he let himself be deceived by false glimmer, looking upon your lamp shine as upon sunshine, giving you a concession on that account.
233,8. But now it is up to me and the centurion Cornelius to present you to the emperor in your true colors, and you shall soon part company with your concession. You may, by the way, counter-threaten me as it pleases you, for I too move upon the foundation of law, and we, chief judges of this land, have only just recently received new instructions concerning your intrigues, of which the emperor is no longer ignorant – this with the request that we keep the closest possible watch over you. And I assure you that we, chief justices, comply with this latest instruction from Rome in full faith and conscience, having already sketched you out in a manner that is certain not to please you. Understood?
233,9. In the fashion of African basilisks you suck the last drop of blood from the emperor’s subjects, making them beggars, and whatever you leave over, the despot Herod takes to keep his 1,000 concubines fat and voluptuous. The poor people have to languish in sheerest misery. Is this right?
233,10. If there is a God with only as much sense of justice as my own and as much love for mankind as my robe, then it is not possible for Him to let devils like yourselves and Herod to lord it over poor mankind for much longer.
233,11. In your Book, it says: “Love your neighbor as yourself”, as supposedly given you by your God. How do you keep this nonetheless?
233,12. Of a truth, the law that you practice unceasingly with diligence consists in hating all who don’t support you strongly in your life of utmost lustfulness and lasciviousness. For this purpose you have unfortunately obtained deviously an ordinance on which you lean for effecting unheard of extortions of all kinds.
233,13. By good fortune however you have, for this impending case, in the course of this purported rightful seizure, perpetrated a deed which no known sanctions, a deed for which you alone stand before me at court, a lawbreaking coming under the crime of forestry infringement, which you have committed over an extensive area in the beautiful woods of Kisjonah, who is a Greek and a staunch imperial subject, whose rights every Roman emperor would defend with an entire legion if infringed to only the slightest degree, since he pays the emperor a 1,000 pounds annually for this, which is no small matter.
233,14. For a stretch of road extending to nearly 5 hours, you have in the course of secretly lying down your smuggle road, devastated nearly a 1,000 beautiful young cedars, and several thousand lesser tree trunks, causing Kisjonah damage exceeding 10,000 pounds, according to the deposition of sworn estimators. Now then, how will you make restitution for such damage?’
233,15. Says the chief Pharisee: ‘Are you not aware of the Earth being God’s, and that we are His children, to whom alone He gave this Earth? Just as God has however the right to do with the Earth as He pleases, so we, as His children, can do with the Earth as we please. Even if some pagan power has wrenched such right from us for a time, it shall not possess such for long. God shall take it from them and return it to His children.
233,16. From the point of view of our God-given rights, we are not liable for restitution of forestry infringements, since the Earth is ours and we can do with it as it pleases us. But on account of your greater, but of course only apparent worldly power, which you Romans unjustly wield over us, we shall indeed condescend to restitution. Yet of the 10,000 pounds, up to nine tenths can be dismissed. For that much we also know: that we are capable of assessing the worth of the trees that we felled, using only a minimal portion thereof for random bridge-building. And what, fundamentally is the damage? A new road now exists which the tax collector Kisjonah can employ very well indeed. Had he himself laid it, then this would have come to at least a 1,000 pounds. Now he can erect a new barrier there, and in one year his takings shall have amounted 3 times the cost of the road.’
233,17. Says the chief justice: ‘In the name of the emperor and his wise law, and in view of the damage having been assessed by sworn estimators, and because by making yourselves out to be children of God, you arrogate to yourselves power over the entire Earth, consequent to which the Emperor himself is subject to your power, something he probably would not as yet have dreamt of. Such shameful presumption makes you into the barest criminals. Your seizures are declared forfeited herewith.
233,18. Since however either the death penalty or permanent banishment is irrevocably set for crime against the crown, you now have your preferred choice: either beheading by axe, or permanent banishment to Europe’s ice region. I have spoken in the name of the emperor and his wise law. It is to take effect immediately. Even if in the mean time the whole world would perish, justice will be done.
233,19. See, thus acts a chief justice of Rome, fearing none but the gods and the emperor.’
233,20. Thereupon, in accordance with Roman custom, he signals that water be handed to him, wherewith he washes his hands. A bailiff breaks a rod in two and casts it under the twelve’s feet.
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