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Chapter 9 - The spies of Herod.
9,1. Old Markus then came to Me from the house, where he was busy with preparations for a midday meal, and said very softly: “Lord, forgive me if I disturb You with my concerns for a few moments!”
9,2. I say to him: “Friend, go and tell Herod’s spies who are lurking behind your house: ‘The Son of Man acts and speaks openly before the eyes and ears of the whole world and does not wish to make any secret deals with anybody. Anyone who wishes to talk to Me or to discuss something with Me, must come to Me and he must also speak and act completely openly! With Me nothing is quietly or secretly whispered into one ear and there are no negotiations and meetings taking place in secrecy. This is a damnable custom of the children of the world, if they have something underhand in mind and do not dare to expose it to daylight openly and quickly enough, because they fear other men and their evil intentions. But I act openly, say everything loudly and am not afraid of the people, because My intentions towards them are good!’ Go to them and tell these contemptible traitors what I have said!
9,3. Markus bowed deeply to Me and went to fulfil My instructions with a minimum of delay. When he whispered my comments in all seriousness into the deceitful faces of the opportunists who had been sent out by Herod in all directions to seek Me, one of their number said: “Friend, you appear not to know that we have received full authority from Herod, even over life and death, and therefore have the right to destroy any disrespectful opponent immediately!”
9,4. Said Markus: “Does this right extend to a citizen of Rome, as I am?”
9,5. The impudent spokesman continued: “If we destroy him, we will not be held responsible by Herod!”
9,6. Said Markus: “But even more certainly by God and the principal Roman governor Cyrenius, who has fortunately stayed here with me for several days already, together with many other high-ranking individuals from Rome! Beware the consequences, if you dare to raise even one hostile finger against my house!”
9,7. The impudent one replied: “Are you saying that the supreme governor of Rome is here - just a few days ago he delegated the right of capital punishment to Herod through the procurator of Jerusalem?”
9,8. Said Markus: “Very well, very well. We will see right away who gave Herod this authorization.
9,9. At this Markus sent one of his sons to Cyrenius instructing him to inform the supreme governor immediately of the matter. When Cyrenius heard this, he was deeply angry and he immediately ordered Julius to take one-hundred soldiers and arrest the thirty spies straight away, killing without mercy anyone who did not immediately surrender and hand over his weapons.
9,10. I said: “Do not kill, but only arrest them!” And this was accepted straight away.
9,11. When the spies saw that the Romans were furiously attacking them, they tried to flee; but without success. The Roman soldiers warned them very loudly, that they would mercilessly kill anyone who dared to resist them. This promise, delivered in a very furious and serious way proved to be effective; the spies surrendered and were immediately tied up in rope and chains. They were then brought with terrified faces to the supreme governor, preceded by Markus and Julius.
9,12. When they stood in front of Cyrenius, Kornelius and Faustus, Cyrenius asked them with the dictatorial seriousness expected from a Roman: “Where is your written authority and the orders instructing you to pursue the Prophet of Galilee wherever He goes?”
9,13. The leader whose name was Zinka says: “My Lord! Bound hand and foot, I can not take them from their hiding place! Allow your soldiers to untie me and you shall have the documents, so that you can see that we also have a high-ranking lord backing us. He rules over us and we have to obey him, because he expensively purchased the right from you Romans to replace you as the ruler of our lives and can, without accounting to you, kill at will whenever he so wishes!
9,14. We are unconcerned if ten thousand prophets should swarm all over Galilee; if they leave us alone, we will certainly cause them no harm. But if a mighty ruler calls us and pays us handsomely and if he can also kill us using one of his many executioners if we refuse to serve him, it becomes a completely different matter! We must then undertake a life and death pursuit of anyone, regardless of the fact that the victim may be a highly honourable person! Or are your soldiers and mercenaries in the wrong if they carry out your life and death orders? If somebody is responsible before God, provided there is one, then he can be only a lord, but never a peasant or his faithful servant! Let your soldiers untie me, and I will immediately show you our authorization as written by Herod’s own hand in three languages; only then can you make a totally valid judgement about us!”
9,15. Cyrenius allows Zinka to be untied and he immediately reaches into his concealed pocket, takes out a parchment roll, hands it to Cyrenius and says: “There, read it, and then make a correct judgement before the whole world, as to whether our pursuit of the Galilean prophet, a certain Jesus of Nazareth, is lawful or unlawful!”
9,16. Cyrenius reads the authorization, which is signed at the end in the name of Herod. It reads word for word like this: ‘In accordance with the authority over the entire Jewish land, which I, Tetrarch Herod, have obtained from Rome for 1,000 pounds in silver and 100 pounds in gold, and counting on the support of the authorities in Rome which I have paid for dearly, I order and require you to arrest the prophet from Galilee, who appears to represent a threat to me and my institutions, and to hand him over to me dead or alive. In the former case I myself will examine him and determine his true nature. My henchmen, with the authority of this document written by myself, have however the fullest right to seek out, pursue and arrest the accused on all roads and paths, all streets and alleyways. If he resists arrest, he must be killed with all his followers, after which he must be brought to me and everyone who took part in his arrest will receive a reward of 300 silver pennies. - Written in Jerusalem at my own palace.’
9,17. Zinka says: “Now, what do you say to this? Are we thirty within the law or not?”
9,18. Cyrenius thinks a little and then says: “According to my knowledge and understanding, Herod was never given any such authority in this way by Rome. My best truthful recollection is that he was only given the authority to exercise the sword as a weapon himself and in his own house in an emergency; and outside his house only then, if there should be any conspiracy against us Romans, or if the nearest Roman occupation unit or proper court of law should be too remote from the place where the insurrection is happening and finally, if Herod and his protective guard of honour should be present These are the only circumstances under which he is allowed to use the cutting edge of the sword!
9,19. This is how the written authority from Rome to Herod reads, a document which I have seen and counter-signed myself as every order from Rome to Asia must go through my hands or through the hands of one of my representatives, who are all always instructed to report back to me within the shortest possible time the details of all incidents that have happened. I therefore declare this authority to be null and void and that it will remain so until such time as I have received confirmation from Rome with regard to how, when and why – unknown to me - such comprehensive powers were given to Herod, a situation which must fill us faithful Romans with justifiable fear and concern.
9,20. This authority will not be restored to you until it has been endorsed by Rome and in the meantime you will be my prisoners! Although you are yourselves not criminals under the law, you are nevertheless the means any criminal can use to commit one outrage after another. Rome has never given authority to anyone to carry out atrocities and surely would not have made an exception for your Herod!
9,21. I am however aware that the followers of Herod are misusing their concessions under one or the other false patriotic pretext! The murder of the most innocent of children committed by old Herod, still serves to prove to me clearly how these clever Greek foxes know how to abuse the rights granted to them by Rome to their own advantage and to turn the Jewish people in their masses against the Romans.
9,22. I know how to restrict Herod again and that will be the most serious task for me to accomplish! Old Herod has had a taste of my inbred Roman sense of justice, although at that time I was not much older than thirty years of age. Now I am almost an old man, have gained more experience and have become more serious. Nowadays I place even more emphasis on the strict enforcement of the law and I give it my complete respect! Pereat mundus, fiat jus! (Even if the world perishes, the law will be upheld!)
9,23. Straight away I will send two messengers, one to Rome and the other to Jerusalem to Herod asking him to deliver to me all authorizations from Rome which are in his hands. He and his workers, his servants and servant’s servants will regret it if his authorizations do not correspond with the content of this authorization given to you!”
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