Heralding a new day in Jerusalem, the sun arose above the surrounding hills, and the city emerged from shadow. Normally this was a time of celebration – it was Pesach 104 when the nation celebrated deliverance from a cruel tyrant. It was a time of joy and thanksgiving.
Or, so it should have been.
For on this morn the citizens awoke to an atmosphere of foreboding. The news of the execution was the only subject discussed throughout the night, but while the vast majority considered it to be unjust, they knew there was nothing that could be done to save Adlai. They were all uncertain – uncertain what the Romans might do if there were any angry remonstrations.
So they were all afraid.
In the fortress jail since early morning, Adlai had been repeatedly whipped and scourged. Blood from many open cuts oozed down his body and from his face, so much so that it was hard to determine his features. Once again, it was the younger centurions who applied the punishment with enthusiasm.
At some stage, Adlai had simply switched off and absorbed the savagery without even a whimper. His mind had accepted its fate so now he just physically went through the motions of existence. Time became meaningless.
Such was his surrender to the will of others he had no recollection of being led out of the Praetorian to the main road to Caesarea where the patibulum 105 was placed on his shoulders. Then a hand reached out and touched him causing him to look up - into the face of Demetris. He managed a small smile of gratitude and understanding. Demetris was crying freely. Then prodded by the guards the little procession began the short journey to Golgotha, 106 about two thousand long cubits 107 away.
Adlai was weak and stumbled often. The physical exertion caused his blood to flow faster, which in itself was a blessing, as it would lessen the length of his agony. But by now, he was bereft of any feeling. Shortly after leaving the portico of the Sheep’s gate, someone offered him a drink that he consumed while maintaining his stumbling gait.
But then suddenly, a major disturbance erupted. As they approached the ‘Fish’ gate, and before leaving the city proper, the crowd surged forward with hands outstretched. Voices were screaming for Adlai’s release. The soldiers tried to keep them back but realized too late that there were armed men within the crowd.
Now a vicious fight broke out and the scene before the gate became a melee of fighting men with much blood being spilled. Eventually and with great difficulty, order was restored leaving many zealot warriors as casualties. Once the guards had regrouped around the condemned, the little procession continued towards the hill of Golgotha now on the left hand side on the passway.
Reaching the execution site the experienced legionnaires went about their business with grim efficiency. When they had secured the hands to the cross beam, the Senior Centurion nodded satisfactorily,
“Good. Now bring me the nails.”
When the first nail was driven into his wrist, without fracturing bone and damaging the main artery, Tavi screamed. The pain was excruciating and did not lessen when the other nails were driven through his flesh. Now secured by the nails, he was raised onto the upright post and his feet were nailed about midway between toes and ankle. The centurions then moved back to admire their handiwork.
To Tavi, the process of dying had begun. Suspended by the cruel nails, his body hung limp with his lifeblood seeping away. Before changing place with Adlai, he had endured many open cuts that now bled freely.
Slowly, through all the searing pain, Tavi began to feel a numbness creep through him. It was getting dark even though the sun had yet to end its journey for the day.
I’ve not known this pain before . . . I feel cold . . . why is it getting dark? . . . I’m . . . I’m so sorry Adlai. Sorry Abba . . . so sorry I’ve caused you such trouble. I’ve done some very bad things . . . and I don’t know why. But . . . even with all this pain . . . pain, I know that making this sacrifice is a good thing . . . it’s probably the only good d . . . deed I’ve ever done. I ca . . . ca . . . . can’t . . . breathe now . . . can’t . . . can’t . . . emma! . . . emm . . .
From out of a small group gathered near the execution site an old man came forward slowly and approached the condemned. Such was the sorrow engrained on his face, the soldiers knew that he was a family member, and by his age and the tears, a close family member.
Yusuf looked up at his eldest son impaled as he was with blood now congealing on his wounds. He looked up into Tavi’s face and . . .
There you are Tavi. There you are with the signs of suffering writ all over your body. But this wretched corpse will not be my memory of you, my firstborn. No, I will remember the wriggling young babe I held in my arms at birth. I’ll remember your cries demanding attention and the cheeky youngster always challenging my authority. You will always be the joy of my life. How proud was I as you advanced into manhood. How proud I am my son that you have laid down your own life to save your brothers’ life.
I weep both tears of sadness and tears of pride. Your sacrifice this day will be acclaimed and remembered for all time by our people. Now it is the saddest of all tasks for a father to lay his son down to rest.
Yusuf moved closer and touched his son’s feet, pinioned and bloodied as they were.
“Come now son . . . (sob) . . . It’s time to take you home.” Cephas and Simon joined him and Yusuf asked the senior guard,
“Can I take my son home with me? Now that his tormented soul is no more we must lay his body in a peaceful place.”
“Yes, take your son old man. He died bravely. I’ve never seen a deceased looking so peaceful in death. Surely, the sun will set on all our lives soon enough. Take him now, so we can all go home.”
For some time after Tavi’s death, Adlai and Maria stayed away from prying eyes at the safe house in Jerusalem. Any joy at Adlai’s escape from crucifixion was dampened by the awesome sacrifice Tavi had made. Only Cephas, Simon, and Yusuf knew of the circumstances leading up to Tavi’s sacrifice.
When Maria’s time drew near, they moved to Idra’s house for the baby to be born. It was a boy and they named him – Tavi. Adlai and Mary eventually joined Farhan in Nabataea where Adlai established a centre for learning based on not only his own beliefs but including the teachings of Ibrahim and the Buddhist faith.
There was great sorrow in the land at Adlai’s apparent death. As is often the case, Adlai’s fame became more in death than it ever was in life. A movement began, headed by Demetris and including Adlai’s followers that continued with his teachings. And it grew steadily with the passing of time.
So when Adlai began to make appearances it was deemed a miracle and that he had risen from the dead.
And so the legend began. As all legends begin from humble origins and change over time into folklore and mystery, the story of Adlai ben Yusuf was no different.
Perhaps it isn't so much the person that's important but the message. What a wonderful world it would be if the good from every religion the world has known were to be extracted and the bad discarded. There is no such thing as sin. What has been deemed as sin is only . . . prejudice, bigotry, ignorance injustice and discrimination.
105: Wooden crossbeam
106: Roman ‘Calvary’
107: About 1 kilometre
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Abir ben Micah >>> A leader of the Pharisees living in Sepphoris
Adlai ben Yusuf >>> Son of Yusuf and Mariam, brother to Tavi and Magdella
Annus >>> Formerly Chief Priest and Father-in-Law to Caiaphas
Brother Zechariah >>> Leader of the ‘Essenes’ based on Qumran
Cephas >>> Son of Idra and cousin to Tavi and Adlai
Herod Antipas >>> Son of Herod the Great and ruler of the Provence of Israel
Idra >>> Father of Cephas and Uncle to Adlai and Tavi
Jessica >>> senior housekeeper to Idra ben Micah
Joseph Caiaphas >>> Chief Priest of the temple and son-in-law to Annus
Judah the Galilean >>> Founder of the Sicarii with Zadok
Magdella >>> Sister to Tavi and Adlai
Maria bat Idra >>> Daughter of Abir ben Micah
Mariam >>> Wife of Yusuf
Martha >>> Wife of Idra
Rufus Julius Antonius >>> Roman centurion
Ruth bat Idra>>> Youngest daughter of Abir and sister to Maria
Simon ben Judah>>> Son of Judah the Galilean who had been killed
Tavi >>> Elder brother to Adlai and Magdella
Valerius Gratis >>> Governor of Judea until 26CE
Varus >>> Optio or second in command to Rufus
Yusuf ben Toshe >>> Husband to Mariam
Zacchaeus >>> Chief Roman Tax Collector residing