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Archive for February 20th, 2020

Scene 2  late in the day

Jerusalem- the following scene takes place just prior to the events described in Ac.1 sc.2

(Palace complex of Herod Antipater in the backdrop. Two columns faux marble with Cortinthian capitals enclose a pavilion in the foreground. A parclose with roman motif is laid diagonally across cutting the stage in two halves. Hastily laid so the delegation of the Chief Priest may observe their purity.

The golden garments of the chief are impressive and tassels of his gown arranged neatly. He is aware of his rank. He sits immobile as one page on the left of a table takes out a scroll from the chest and gives it to the scribe standing. Josias and Simon two elders are seated on the opposite side on a low stool in deference to the Chief Priest who is awaiting someone and stroking his white luxuriant beard is only sign of inward uneasiness).

Chief Priest:

Did we not give notice of pressing demand of our presence elsewhere?

Josias the elder:

(Uneasily) Any moment from now, our man ought to appear.

(Elias stops rummaging the chest for a scroll)

Josias:

These Herodians for sure know the art of sitting on the fence.

(The page resumes his search).

Mattias the scribe:

We are paying them to keep that way.

The war is going badly for the tetrarch.

Chief Priest:

When our blessed Hope comes

He shall not come singly. Battle ready

The Messiah King comes from mount Paran,

And with ten thousands of saints:

From his right hand wings the fiery law for them.

Mattias, by our reckoning we owe nothing

To a client king who is tardy with time

While we a have a flock

Under our watch, they need our counsel.

 

Mattias:

(Deferentially to the Chief Priest)

What prodigious memory

Your age so lightly carries?

(clears his throat)

Moses Servant of the Most High

Chose to obscure the point

That our very counsel is harried

By this Pagan occupation.

Shall we be rid of this pestilence

Blown from the South decimating

Our most revered customs and

Tradition of our Ancient Order?

(Flourishing a scroll).

Here we have Moses in his words

The Book of Devarim,

Copied and compared from the Sacred

Torah and it says thus:. “The LORD thy God

Will raise up unto thee a Prophet

From the midst of thee, of thy brethren,

Like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;”

(Chief Priest stops him with his forefinger even as a courtier comes from the left with Festus the Palace chamberlain. The Priest stands up and turns toward him.)

A curt bow and Festus:

’Shalom’

The Chief Priest:

(stiffly), “Shalom. Is your master free to hear us? The matter brooks no delay. Hike in temple taxes must stop!”

 

Festus the Chamberlain:

The King is not concerned with the temple but with the war effort.

(He looks at the courtier for confirmation. He nods vigorously.)

 

Festus:

Most unwelcome interruption

Alas, but no use

It was dropped in our midst

By three Magi who sought the tetrarch this morning

Birth of the King of the Jews

They insist with audacity

My Master would buy time

But without success. The import of it

Has almost thrown our Serene Master

With much hand-wringing

Accepted he as of substantial merit.

 

The Courtier:

Their palaver in utmost secrecy

Bodes ill for us.

Our Serene Master shall allow

Hearing and let the three know

Who runs the show in Galilee and Juda.

The three soothsayers of most fertile

Mind have scanned starry sky so much so

They shall wrest truth from happenstance.

They have like hounds from heaven followed

A meteor and so much so I gleaned

From intelligence exchanged;

In their estimation

I dare say malediction heaped on our tetrarchy

Brooks no allowance but force applied

With no tinge of mercy

To which the tetrarch by fame

Beyond doubt stands nonpareil.

 

Josias:

Can you imagine? King of the Jews and what next?

(Silence.)

 

Festus:

And the upshot of it was

The Tetrarch nearly fell off

His curule seat, and for me

He called with alarm.

He would however hear from the Sanhedrin

Their edict sealed with the Holy Writ:

Mark therefore his words, Tell us,

“Where Christ should be born?” .

(The two scribes look to the Chief Priest who nods) and they promptly speak one voice as though well rehearsed:

“In Bethlehem of Judaea:

for thus it is written by the prophet,

And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda,

Art not the least among the princes of Juda:

For out of thee shall come a Governor.”

That shall rule my people Israel”.

 

Chief Priest.

“Digest Well, O Festus

The Holy Writ for the Tetrarch

Serves a sign and a lesson.”

(Turning to his delegation,)

We shall tarry

No further here; the sense and purport

Of Holy Law is sere and ill-kempt

By this misspent visitation of

Three Magi, Festus we are ill at ease here;

We shall do well at the seat of Moses

Where the covenant rules sovereign

We be but guardians and commiserate

Your Most Serene Tetrarch follow

Our precepts and holy life,-

Earlier the better for all

Time Presses, Come!”

(Lights dim as the delegation exit.)

(Simon the elder and Elias the page remain.)

 

Elias:

Our worthy master has been strangely quiet.

Tell me uncle, What has knocked the sound from its perch,-

The warbler of most learned and abstruse knowledge

Must be wounded,

Is it the Sanhedrin or Festus?

 

Simon,

Knowing you as I do I shall merely tell this:

Our fathers only sold for twenty silvers

But darling son of Mother Rachel

Benefited royally from that exchange.

He grew to judge the right from wrong

His seat being next to the Pharaoh,

Did great disservice to our nation.

Was our servitude among the brick-kilns

Of Misraim fit for our crime or was it

For the sell out of our own flesh and blood

To the band of Ishmaelite exacting its pound of flesh?

(Waving a purse) Here is what Festus has paid in all secrecy,

It sits heavy and its sting is sure shall come as before,

We have not the lesson learnt well, I fear

For betraying this King of the Jews,

Whoever he is and wherever he may be born

Shall pierce our very vitals when it comes.

The Tetrarch shall happily pay, It is how it is, my boy!

I fear the worst for the babe

Whose only crime is that he was not

Cut out for our world: treason and greed like maggots

In the very soil from which we are formed,

Have become more frisky with age

We are feeding it Boy, and we are damned

Despite of our erudition and nimble sophistry-

And this was what our little embassy today pulled off

Before our eyes. I fear the worst.

 

Elias:

Silence is well spoken

In this Age of apostasy.

But what do you intend with the purse?

 

Simon:

I shall hand it over tonight

To the Chief Priest, what else?

(Stage darkens)

 

 

 

 

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