THE HEART OF MARY
LIFE AND TIMES OF THE HOLY FAMIL
CHAPTER TWO: “I AM THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA”
THE DAUGHTER OF KING SOLOMON
The birth of Solomon’s daughter
On the horizon line Jacob of Nazareth wrote the words of a poet: Oh woman, what shall I do if no one has taught me the laws and principles of the science of deceit? Why do you not want me innocent? If my rib hurts and from the wound you sprout like a dream, what do you want me to do?
Jacob had the soul of a poet lost in a galaxy of verses of Sharon, that Lily of the valley sings that sings to an elusive wisdom and hurt by the loves of her king. Matthan, his father, married Mary, they had sons and daughters. Jacob was their eldest son.
In those days of insurrections against the Empire of the West and invasions of the Empire of the East, the Galilee subjected to plunder and pillage, battlefield of all the ambitions of other peoples, Jacob of Nazareth became the right arm of his father. The boy, in spite of not being so young, I would rather say that he was already a man, had not yet married. Not because he had spent his time sacrificing his youth for the prosperity of his brothers and sisters. In the village they used to say that. I wouldn’t say so much. Neither would he. How little they knew him! He did not take a wife because he dreamed of that extraordinary and paradisiacal love of the poets. Would he realize his dream in that world of metal and stone?
Maybe yes, maybe no.
The truth is that Jacob of Nazareth had the wood of the Adam who conquered Eve at the price of having a rib ripped out. For Jacob the first poet of the world was Adam. Jacob imagined the First Patriarch naked among the wild beasts of Eden. He could race the panther as well as interpose himself between the tiger and the lion during a dispute for the crown of their friendship. For Jacob, that when Adam went to bathe in the river, the great lizards of Eden came out of the water. And if he saw the birds of Paradise alight on the Forbidden Tree with a stone he would scare them away so that they would live and not die. Then, at nightfall, he would lie on his belly dreaming of Eve. He would see her running beside him with her long hair like a blanket of stars, naked in the sunshine of Eden’s perennial spring. When he awoke, Jacob’s rib ached with loneliness.
Like that Adam of Eden, Jacob of Nazareth sat against the trunk of one of the trees on the esplanade of the Storknest to dream of her, his Eve. One of those afternoons of poetic reveries, a doctor of the Law, who called himself Cleophas, appeared on the road to the South.
Meanwhile, on the other side of Herod’s kingdom, in Judea, the entrance of the head of the Great Synagogue of the East, a Magician named Ananel, revolutionized the panorama when this Ananel was elected to the high priesthood.
For many the election of Ananel closed the beheading of the Sanhedrin that Herod carried out the day after his coronation. He swore and he did it. He swore to all his judges what it came into his head to do to them the day he was king, and, when against all odds he was king, Herod did not forget his word. Except for the men who announced his future to him, he slew them all. He did not let escape a single one of the cowards who passed up the chance to crush him when they had him under their feet. Then he went and confiscated all their property.
The entry on the scene of the Chief of the Magi from the East, thinking of his reconciliation with the people, simplified Herod’s task. Even more so when, as president of the Sanhedrin, Ananel put on the table a plan for the reconstruction of the synagogues of the kingdom, which would not cost the king a euro and his crown would bring him the forgiveness of History.
You know that following the persecution of Antiochus IV Epiphanes the great majority of the synagogues of Israel were razed to the ground. The Maccabean war and the subsequent Hasmonean war exploits prevented the reconstruction of the synagogues since then in ruins.
Now that the Pax Romana had been signed was the opportunity.
It is clear that if the financing of that reconstruction project had depended on Herod the sowing of synagogues throughout the kingdom would never have materialized. It was another thing if the financing was provided by private capital. As it was, the project was carried out by its promoters.
As for the Sadducean clans, the custom of the priestly classes to administer the Templar treasures for the benefit of their pockets would also have prevented the execution of the project of reconstruction of all the synagogues of the kingdom. When Ananel was elected as President of the Sanhedrin and his project had the support of the men of Zechariah, on whom the final decisions of the Jewish Senate depended at that time, the project could go ahead. Neither Herod nor anyone outside the Zechariah circle was able to imagine what secret objective was hidden behind that generous plan of synagogal reconstruction. If Herod had suspected something, another rooster would have sung. The fact is that Herod took the bait.
The Jewish history says that soon after the project was signed Ananel was removed from the high priesthood at the instigation of Queen Mariana in favor of his younger brother. Well, it does not say it with these words because the Jewish historian buried in the swamp of oblivion that project. What he does say is that the queen did her little brother a very poor favor, because as soon as he was elevated to the high priesthood he came to be killed by the same one who elevated him. But well, these details, so typical of the reign of that monster, are not relevant to this story. The fact is that Zechariah and his men received total freedom of movement to materialize that generous project of reconstruction of the synagogues of the kingdom.
Free hands to direct the synagogue reconstruction, the problem that Zechariah had to overcome was to choose the right person. It is clear that they could not send to Nazareth a bungler. If the envoy discovered the purpose behind such an extensive and costly project and went off the deep end, the future of Solomon’s Daughter would be doomed. The chosen one had to be an intelligent and ambitious man to whom the choice would mean a kind of banishment. Blinded by what he would consider a punishment, all his energy would be directed to finish his mission and return to Jerusalem as soon as possible. And this is when that doctor of the Law, who claimed to be called Cleophas, comes into the picture.
Cleophas of Jerusalem
This Cleophas was the husband that Elizabeth’s parents sought for their little daughter. Chastened by the disappointment they suffered when their older daughter married Zechariah, Elizabeth’s parents sought a husband for her younger sister, lest she also follow in the footsteps of her older sister. The last thing they wanted for their little daughter was another element of Zechariah’s type, so they married her to a young doctor of the Law who promised much, intelligent, of good family, a classic boy, the woman in her house, the perfect son-in-law. To Elizabeth the choice of Cleophas as husband for her younger sister was very upsetting, but she could no longer put her foot in it.
To Cleophas his marriage to Elizabeth’s sister, he believed, would open the doors to the most powerful circle of influence in Jerusalem. Cleophas soon discovered how his brother-in-law Zechariah felt about opening the doors to his circle of power. Out of love for her sister, Elizabeth did pave the way, but as far as it depended on Zechariah himself, another rooster crowed. Which was logical considering what was at stake.
Well, Cleophas had a girl from his wife, whom he called Anne. Small of body, very beautiful of face, Elizabeth extended on her niece all the affection that she could not overturn on the daughter that she would never have. This affection grew with the child and became an increasingly powerful influence on Anne’s personality.
Cleophas, the interested party in question, could not look favorably on such a powerful influence over his daughter on the part of his sister-in-law. His problem was that he owed so much to Elizabeth that he had to swallow his complaints about the education that “the aunt” was giving to “the niece” of her soul. Not because Elizabeth’s love for her niece was depriving her of the education due to a daughter of Aaron; in this chapter, Anne’s religious education had nothing to envy to that of the high priest’s own daughter. On the contrary, if one speaks of envy, it was his daughter who earned the most envy. Daughter of a doctor of the Law, niece of the most powerful woman in Jerusalem -outside of the queen herself and Herod’s wives- Anne grew up among psalms and prophecies, receiving the religious education most befitting a living descendant of the brother of the great Moses.
The romanticism that her sister-in-law was instilling in her daughter was what drove Cleophas crazy. When Anne became a young woman, the girl would not hear about marriage out of interest. No match that her father sought out for her would enter her mind. No suitor seemed good to her. Anne, like her aunt, would only marry for love with the man the Lord would choose for her. And the girl confessed this to her father with such brazen innocence that it made the man’s blood boil.
Anne was already of marriageable age when Zechariah privately called Cleopas and ordered him to prepare to leave for Galilee. He was his chosen one to rebuild the synagogue at Nazareth.
Ignorant of the Doctrine of Alpha and Omega, Cleophas took the choice for a maneuver of his sister-in-law Elizabeth. For him that his choice was a matter for his sister-in-law, who thus got rid of the father of “her child” and prevented him from closing wedding deals.
The protests were of no use to Cleophas. Zechariah’s decision was firm. The mission entrusted to him by the Temple had priority. He was to leave Jerusalem as soon as possible and report to Nazareth as soon as possible.
Before sending him to Nazareth, Zechariah made his preliminary investigations. He learned that Nazareth had a certain Matthan as its mayor. This Matthan was the owner of the Big House, which was called the Storknest. His informant told him what he was waiting to hear. This Matthan, it was said in the village, was of Davidic origin. Now, whether by word or deed, no one had sworn to him.
With the fly behind his ear Cleophas set out on the road to Nazareth. The man had never been to Nazareth. He had heard of Nazareth, but could not remember what. Deducing from what he had heard what awaited him, in his imagination Cleophas already saw himself banished from Jerusalem to a village of ignorant and probably ragged bums.
By the way, Cleophas could bet anything that the address to whose owner he had to present credentials would be that of a shack dweller, little or no different from one of the caves of the Dead Sea. The more he thought about it, the more his hair stood on end. He still didn’t understand why him.
Why didn’t his brother-in-law Zechariah give the mission to any other doctor of the Law? What was his brother-in-law playing at? He had never entrusted him with any mission, and for once he had brought him into his plans, he was sending him to the end of the world. What mistake had he made to deserve such a banishment, the man complained to himself.
Wasn’t his sister-in-law Elizabeth really behind this move? He answered himself that she was. Elizabeth’s intention was to remove her father from the scene and buy time for her niece Anne. Come on, he could even put his hand in the fire. When she least expected it, Anne would have crossed the line that Isabel herself had crossed in her day and no one would be able to force her to marry the party he wanted her to marry.
Cleophas walked all the way to Nazareth, his head spinning. The truth was that his brother-in-law Zechariah was not a man from whom one would expect the behavior of a wimp. Since Zechariah did not speak more than he should, just and briefly, to discover the reason for his decision to send him to Nazareth to rebuild a synagogue that any doctor could have put up without anyone’s help, to understand why, more than difficult, it was impossible for him. Better to believe that everything obeyed the will of Elizabeth.
Caught up in his dramatic visions of the destiny that awaited him, he was when he rounded the last bend in the road. On the other side, there it was, Nazareth, and what a surprise it was when he raised his eyes and found that sort of fortress farmhouse in the heart of the hill!
Phew, he drew a long, relieved breath. The contemplation of the Storknest cheered his heart. At least he was not going to spend the next few years among cavemen.
Relieved, Cleophas directed his steps towards the Storknest, the town’s Big House. Grandfather Matthan, the owner of that mansion of unusual architecture for the time, came out to greet him.
Grandfather Matthan was a strong man for his years, a country man, hard-working but still capable of saddling the donkeys and lending a hand to his eldest son. His wife, Mary, had died; she was living with her first-born son, a certain Jacob, at that time in the fields.
Cleophas presented the owner of the Storknest with his credentials. He explained to Matthan in a few words the nature of the mission that brought him to Nazareth.
Matthan smiled at him frankly, blessed the Lord for having heard the prayers of his countrymen, showed the envoy of the Temple the room he would occupy as long as he needed it, and immediately summoned all the neighbors to the house to receive him as Cleophas deserved.
Cleophas, now calmer, was glad to be able to serve the Nazarenes. The quick and happy disposition shown him by the villagers finally banished from his soul those bad omens that had accompanied him Samaria above.
The evening of that day was the first time in his life that he came face to face with Jacob, the son of his host.
Jacob of Nazareth
Jacob was a young man. The most characteristic feature of the son of Matthan was his ever-brilliant smile. Sometimes Jacob’s cheerful nature confused those who did not know him. From someone who carried his father’s property alone, everyone expected him to be serious, bossy, and even curt. Cleophas too, without knowing why or how, thinking of Matthan’s son, he too had this idea of what Jacob would be like. When he saw him for the first time, he was pleasantly surprised. The preconceived idea he had had all that day about the heir of the Storknest collapsed into pieces as soon as Jacob laid eyes on him.
The point that was no longer so funny to him - the Doctor of the Law that Cleophas was - was the singlehood of Matthan’s son. Any other man at his age would already be a father.
At the comment Jacob laughed heartily. But, anyway, Cleophas had not come to Nazareth to play “the Celestine”. If the boy was strange, that was his father’s business.
In a good part Jacob reminded him of his daughter Anne. Like her, she either married for love or nothing.
Otherwise, I insist, Cleophas’ impression of Jacob was excellent. As to the point of the Davidic ancestry of the owners of the Storknest, if son of David in word or deed what was in it for him anyway? Had he been sent to Nazareth to investigate the falsity or veracity of the Davidic ancestry of Matthan and his son? Of course not.
After all, the reconstruction of the synagogue in Nazareth was well underway. It was not just a matter of rebuilding walls. Once the building was finished and decorated inside and out, the worship had to be put into operation. His mission was to leave the synagogue in working order for the arrival of the doctor of the Law to whom he would hand over the keys of the synagogue at the end of his mandate.
This obligation did not deprive him of his due vacation.
Cleophas did not know it, but in Jerusalem there were those who were dying to see him return. Had he known it, perhaps another cock would have crowed and the story that follows would never have been told. Fortunately, wisdom plays with human pride and overcomes it by using the ignorance of the wise to glorify the divine omniscience in the sight of all.
And Easter came. As every year that peace allowed it, Matthan and his son Jacob went down to Jerusalem to make the offerings for the purifications of their sins, to render the tithe to the Temple and to celebrate the greatest of the national festivities.
The Jewish Passover commemorated the night in which while the angel killed all the first-born of the Egyptians, the Hebrews ate a lamb in their homes, a supper that they would repeat in perpetual memory of God’s salvation during all the years of their lives.
Grandfather Matthan remembered going to Jerusalem for the date for as long as he could remember. That is, even if Cleopas had not been in Nazareth he and his son would have gone down to Jerusalem. But since both Cleopas and Matthan were going to do it, it was only right that they should do it together.
When Cleopas arrived in Jerusalem, he flatly refused to accept Matthan’s idea. The man had got it into his head to spend the feast in a tent, outside Jerusalem, like everyone else. It was the custom. By this time Jerusalem looked like a city under siege, surrounded by tents everywhere.
Cleophas closed himself off. Under no circumstances was he willing to allow his host to spend the feast in the open, since he had a house in the holy city that could accommodate the entire town of Nazareth.
The excuse that Matthan and his son gave him-“if they treated him as they did in Nazareth, it was not out of interest; what they did they did from the heart, without expecting anything in return”-such an innocent excuse was of no use to him. To Cleopas the only word that counted was “yes”.
“Are you going to curse my house in the eyes of the Lord because of your pride, Matthan?”, angry with the refusal to accept his invitation Cleophas blurted out. Matthan laughed and gave his arm in agreement.
Cleophas ignored, as I have said before, the nervousness with which they were waiting for Matthan and his son in Jerusalem. And Cleophas was unaware, all the more so because it was God’s doing, that by inviting Jacob to his house he was bringing his daughter Anne the man of her dreams as a Passover gift.
Once Matthan and his son were installed in the house of Cleophas, after the introductions, Zechariah and Matthan entered into private conversations. Knowing our Zechariah, it is not difficult to guess what he was looking for and what kind of detours he took to lead Jacob’s father to the subject that had his Saga’s soul on tenterhooks. In this chapter we are not even going to attempt to reproduce a conversation between anything more than a magician and a country man with no trade in the arts of Logos. Where I am going to focus my attention is on Elizabet’s feeling when she first laid her eyes on Matthan’s son.
Elizabeth took advantage of the conversation between men to take the young man by the arm and wrap him in her grace. From the first moment that Elizabeth saw Matthan’s son, a supernatural ray of light entered her soul, something that she could not explain in words but that impelled her to do what she was doing as if Wisdom herself had whispered her plans in her ear; and she, delighted to be his confidant, pretended to renounce her body and capitulated her direction in favor of her divine accomplice.
Smile upon smile, that of the young man versus that of the mature beauty, Elizabeth took Jacob by the arm, drew him away from the gaze of men, and presented him with the jewel of her house, her niece Anne.
Anne, the niece of Elizabeth and Zechariah
God is witness to my words and directs the pulse of my hands on the lines He traces, whether crooked or straight in His judgment they remain. The fact is that love at first sight exists. And knowing His creatures better than they will ever know each other, He engendered in His Wisdom the fire of eternal love in those two dreamers who from the two sides of the horizon, without knowing each other, sent each other verses on the wings of the firmament.
The first to see the glow of that flame was Elizabeth. And she was the first woman in the world to see the Daughter of Solomon born of that love that would burn without being consumed.
Unable Anne and Jacob to detach themselves and Elizabeth covering under her fairy godmother’s mantle that divine love that had enchanted the boys, Elizabeth managed to keep them alone and together away from the attention of men, always so grumpy, always so pious.
Her husband Zechariah for his part appropriated the company of Matthan and employed the arsenal of the measureless intelligence that his God had given him to draw from Jacob’s father the name of the son of Zerubbabel from whom his lineage came.
As he pronounced those five letters, A-B-I-U-D, Zechariah felt his strength betray him.
Simeon the Younger, at her side, read in her eyes the emotion that almost threw him to the ground.
“What do you wonder at, man of God?” replied Elizabeth as she heard him repeat those five letters, A-B-I-U-D, to her. “Hasn't your God given you sufficient proof that He himself is in charge of your movements? I will tell you something else. I have seen Solomon’s daughter in the womb of your niece Anne”.
The return to Nazareth was hard for Jacob. For the first time in his life Jacob was beginning to discover the mystery of love. Extreme happiness and total agony in the same lot. Is that love? He did not know whether to burst into tears of joy or of sorrow. Was it not for this reason that God made man and woman not to separate, because if they separate they die? If already before the rib of loneliness his pain was disguised as a poet and painted on the blue firmament the face of his princess, now that he had seen her in flesh and blood those verses had metamorphosed, they began to leave their chrysalis and, the truth, it hurt. So much so that he was beginning to wonder if it would not have been better if she had remained among albs and spring dew. Now that he had seen her, that he had tasted from her eyes the perfume of her smiles, sensations that he had never imagined had seeped into his marrow and made his bones vibrate with sorrow and happiness. Oh, Adam’s rib.
As they rode the distances, Matthan looked at his son, surprised by his silence and his sighs. All his life his Jacob had been a born conversationalist, extroverted and easy-going. But ever since they had left Jerusalem, and had already traversed all of Samaria, his son had not transgressed a single one of the rules of monosyllables.
“Is anything the matter with you, Jacob?"”
“It looks like rain, son.”
“Soon the beans will have to be planted.”
The Doctor of the Law wasn’t very talkative either. He just let himself go and talked just enough. The return to work when it was an occasion for celebration and joy? So there was no need to make a big deal out of it.
The question was how long it would take Matthan to discover his son’s lovesickness. And how long would it take Cleophas himself?
It didn'’t take Matthan long to get to the heart of the matter. Jacob tried to give his father the runaround. It had all been so sudden, almost like a hallucination. How long would he still refuse to ask his father to ask Cleophas for his daughter as his wife? The more he thought about it the more he marveled.
In any case, even if Jacob kept quiet, Matthan was already figuring it out. Something had happened in Jerusalem that had changed his son in such a resounding, rapid and transcendent way. What else could it be but Cleophas’ daughter?
When after some time Cleophas announced his desire to go down to Jerusalem and his son Jacob spontaneously offered to accompany him, lest some bandit might want to take advantage of this solitary traveler, Jacob’s father had no more doubts. His son was madly in love with the daughter of Cleophas.
Cleophas, on the other hand, knew nothing about it. The man gladly accepted Jacob’s offer. God knows what would have happened if Cleophas had been aware of the love affair between his daughter and Matthan’s son. The man was so classical that the marriage of a daughter of the upper class of Jerusalem with the son of a peasant from the Galilee, no matter how much of a landowner the groom was, did not fit in his head. And so he allowed herself to be accompanied.
In Jerusalem, amid tears of impatience that aunt Elizabeth collected in dead hands of laughter, her daughter Anne waited for the day to see her Prince appear.
Since she knew her brother-in-law as if she had given birth to him, once Cleophas in Jerusalem, Elizabeth took Jacob and brought him home. Thus she killed two birds with one stone. Zechariah would have the Son of Abiud to himself, and on the way the two boys would have all the time in the world to promise each other once again in eternal love. In due time her brother-in-law would find out what was going on. According to Elizabeth it was the Lord’s business and woe betide her brother-in-law if he got in the way.
Oblivious to class prejudices and the social interests of adults, Jacob and Anne wrote verses of Saron to each other among lilies of promises as big as pyramids and shining like stars in the light of the eyes of the fairy godmother that God had raised for them. And they said goodbye with the promise that next time he would come accompanied by his father, and in his hands the dowry for the virgins.
When Cleophas and Jacob returned to Nazareth, the boy told his father of his desire. His father restrained his heart, begging him to wait for Cleophas to finish his work. Then he himself would go down to Jerusalem to ask for his daughter as his daughter-in-law.
Jacob agreed to his father’s suggestion.
Cleophas, in fact, finished his work, said goodbye to the Nazarenes and returned to his usual life. Shortly after settling in Jerusalem he received a surprise, a visit from Matthan.
“Matthan, man, what is it?.”
“You see, Cleopas, fatherly duties bring me to your house.”
Jacob’s father told him all about it. His son wanted his daughter for his wife and was coming as a father-in-law with the dowry for the virgins in his hand.
Cleophas listened in silence. When he finished what he had brought Matthan to his house, he remained speechless. It was the typical surprise that takes hold of the one who always finds out about the move the last; it was hallucinating. In these cases, after the surprise comes the classic outburst of anger.
The flame lights up in the brain: “His daughter had sworn her love to Jacob? And when had that happened? And how had she dared to give herself to a man without the will and blessing of her father?...” And it ends up pouring out of the mouth the fire.
Anne, the interested creature, though not polite, listened behind the door with her heart in a fist. Her fingers were dying to make an altar to her father’s “Yes”, in the most beautiful corner of her soul. Her “father-in-law” gave her such a warm look as she passed by that she considered herself already married and felt herself flying on the wings of the most complete happiness towards her nuptials'’ thalamus.
The child was biting her lips when her father opened his mouth.
“And how can that be, my good Matthan, if my daughter is already betrothed to another man? .”
Cleophas was lying. An innocent lie so as not to pass for the one who stabs the man to whom until yesterday he had professed eternal friendship.
Good God, to avoid stabbing his friend, he would stab his own daughter straight into her heart. The creature let himself fall down the wall with his heart pierced from side to side. Without the strength to run away and throw herself over the walls, Anne held on for the rest: “I’m sorry, but your child’s claim is an impossibility out of the power of my hands”, her father concluded.
Matthan was all silent. In the blink of an eye the light was made in his brain. By his beard Cleopas was lying to him. For him it was Cleophas’ refusal to accept his word about the Davidic origin of his House. Had the engagement to an unknown fiancé been true, Matthan would have accepted the no without feeling how the adrenaline was burning his insides. But no, the holy and immaculate servant of God that he welcomed in his house, rendering him the honors as if he were his Lord, was taking off his mask. Marrying his daughter to a peasant, and from Galilee to make matters worse?
It would have been better for Cleophas to tell her to her face what he thought. The truth was that he had never swallowed the story about Jacob’s supposed Davidic lineage. While he was in Nazareth, as it was neither his business nor his concern, he had limited himself to giving him the runaround. Whether it was or not was none of his business. Now that he was asking for his daughter for his son, he had no reason to continue playing the hypocrite.
“That’s my last word,” Cleophas closed the discussion.
“I'll give you mine,” Jacob’s father ripped out. “I would rather marry my son to a pig than to the daughter of an advantaged son of murderers who live on the blood of their brothers at the price of the destruction of their people.”
Lord, if the child was already mortally wounded, the words of Jacob’s father finished off her soul.
Anne ran out of her house, and went through the streets of Jerusalem, leaving behind her a river of broken tears. As best she could, she came upon the house of her aunt Elizabeth. She entered and threw herself into her arms, ready to die forever.
While Elizabeth tried to close the keys of that flood, Matthan mounted his horse and galloped up Samaria. When he reached Nazareth his blood was still boiling. His son Jacob was as if dead when he heard his words: “You would rather marry a pig than the daughter of Cleophas”. It was his last word.
Birth of Mary
How foolish are men, Lord! They seek You, and when they find You with words sharp as knives they curse themselves because You speak to them. Like one who has found what he was looking for and regrets having found it because he had been waiting for something else, men turn their words into swords and spears, they paint their faces with war paint and hating hell they kill each other believing they are killing the Devil himself. A lever to move the universe, says one, my kingdom for a horse, cries the neighbor believing he is writing on the walls of time words of golden wisdom.
When will they learn to be free with the freedom of the one who has the infinite before him? Man’s existence is like that of the butterfly that flies twenty-four hours and at sunset gives up its body to the mud from which it came to life, but unlike the weightless creature, in those twenty-four hours man transforms that precious short day into a hell of monstrosities. Why did you give a mouth to the stone? Why give arms to one whose imagination is only enough to make of his frail fingers weapons of destruction? What moved you to elevate his brains above those of the birds that only ask for a piece of heaven for their wings?
Alas the soul of Jacob. Alas how the son of Matthan of Nazareth wept for his misfortune. Among the same olive groves from which one day Noah’s dove snatched from God the promise of eternity without return, at the foot of the trunk where he would die one day not too far away, the son of Matthan poured out his heart overflowing with that joy that did not fit between his chest and his back. All his life dreaming of her and now that his hands had touched the flesh of his dreams, his rib was thrown into the fire.
“Vanity and more vanity, all is vanity” wrote the wise Cohelet on a sacred wall. Needless to believe that when he wrote that, the man must not have been very much in love?
Woe to Anne’s heart! Do the eyes weep blood? Do the veins run pure water? What hidden mystery did God forge when he conceived two persons to be one? Why did he not make the human male and female according to the nature of the beasts? Why did the Lord have to bring forth from the mists of instinct the flame of murderous loneliness against which Adam was born unprotected in his paradise? How easy it would have been for the Eternal One to make man in the image and likeness of machines... The bug is programmed, set free in its sidereal zoo, the heavens move in their constellations and at the rhythm set by their coordinates the bug mates and reproduces as a plague. Why replace an infallible program, as we see in the natural world, with a code of freedom? Spring arrives and the creatures mate and multiply quietly but without pause. While the instinct calls for the human being to line up, he plants himself and responds with a single word. Love they call it.
And yet, once the fruit of this code has been tasted, who is it that looks back? Sex the beasts call Love, the beasts call sex by its name. Or when sex dies Love does not live? Or without sex there is no Love? Contrary to the opinion of such experts, the rest of us know that Love exists independently of the reproductive act of the species. And because it exists it hurts those who want it and do not have it. Yesterday as today and always, where there is love there will be pain.
Matthan closed his ears to his son’s lamentations. He never wanted to hear Cleophas’ name again, not even in his dreams. For him the matter was definitively settled. His heir could now look for a wife among the barbarians; he would not say a word against it, but by God and his prophets he would rather disinherit him than suffer such a great humiliation again.
Contrary to Matthan, once the waters had calmed down, Lady Elizabeth took out the rod of her temper, went after her brother-in-law and let it fall on his back with these words: “Fool, devourer of your daughter, what are you playing at? Do you interpose yourself between God and his plans by invoking your condition of servant? Do you rebel against your Lord by conjuring him to leave your house in peace? I tell you as there is heaven and there is earth that my child will marry the Son of Abiud a year from now”.
Phew, if Cleophas thought the storm had passed, it was because he had not yet received Zechariah’s visit. His sister-in-law thundered, his brother-in-law would unleash lightning and thunder on him.
But not with words of anger nor with words of wrath. Zechariah understood that part of the blame for what had happened was his own. As it was, he could no longer keep his brother-in-law out of the Doctrine of Alpha and Omega. He sat him down and told him everything.
The Son of Rhesa, son of Zerubbabel, lived in Bethlehem. He was a boy, and his name was Joseph.
The Son of Abiud, the other son of Zerubbabel, he already knew, was Jacob. The hope that had entered into the souls of all of them was that the Daughter of Solomon would be born of the marriage of Jacob and Anne. So God had arranged it, and though it was only a hope they bet their lives that it would be so. These two children would marry, and from them would be born the Son of David, the son of Eve for whom all the children of Abraham had been sighing for millennia.
As for Jacob’s genealogical legitimacy, of which he had no doubt, they would soon have the proof.
For reasons of prudence, Elizabeth imposed her decision to be the one in charge of settling the situation. Matthan would sooner disarm in front of a woman than if it was someone else from Jerusalem who went up to demand that he should change his attitude. Also because the unexpected trip of one of them could arouse suspicion in the Court of King Herod, while if she went no one would miss her.
And so it was done. Elizabeth appeared in Nazareth, she went straight to the Storknest. When Jacob’s father saw her, he was speechless.
What did that Lady want now?
Very simple. To pay respects to the Son of Abiud. In the name of her entire household, including her brother-in-law, she had come to ask her son Jacob as a husband for her niece Anne. And on the way she had gone up from Jerusalem to Nazareth to discover to the Son of Abiud the Doctrine of Alpha and Omega.
Grandfather Matthan listened in amazement to the succession of events experienced by Zacharias and his Saga. At the end of the story, Matthan lowered his head, nodded with his eyes and asked him to wait for a few moments.
He returned immediately, carrying in his hand a genealogical scroll wrapped in furs as old as the first morning that spread its dawn over the oceans. Elizabeth felt down her spine the same sensation that Simeon the Younger had once experienced. When she heard about the meeting at the house of Rhesa, Matthan unfolded “the Genealogy if Mathew” on the table.
The same metal, the same seal, the same characters, only the names changed.
“Matthan, son of Eleazar. Eleazar, son of Elihud. Elihud, son of Akim. Akim, son of Zadok. Zadok, son of Eliakim. Eliakim the son of Abiud. Abiud, son of Zerubbabel”.
Elizabeth could not stop her breath from catching on the edge of her lips. Even as she tried to remain calm her eyes danced with joy over the line that the sons of Abiud had traced down the centuries.
Then he read the list of the kings of Judah from the last to Solomon.
“And in all this, where is your Jacob?” blurted Elizabeth at the end of the reading.
That woman was pure genius. Jacob jumped for joy at the sight of his fairy godmother. The sparkle in Elizabeth’s eyes revealed the change in her father’s mood. The rest you can imagine. Matthan and his son accompanied Elizabeth back to Jerusalem, bringing with them the jewel of the House of the sons of Abiud, the dowry for the virgins and the terms of the marriage contract.
Cleophas saw with his eyes what he never asked to see during the time he was staying at the Storknest. Like his brother-in-law, Zechariah, a witness to the encounter, Cleophas marveled at seeing the twin scroll of the other in the possession of Joseph’s father. But if those present thought the surprises were over for the day, they were mistaken. The terms of the marriage contract stunned them. They were as follows:
First: The property of the Son of Abiud, in this case, Jacob, was non-transferable. What did this mean? In the event of Jacob’s death, his inheritance would pass directly to his firstborn, whether the first fruit of the couple was male or female.
Second: In the case of widowhood, the widow could never sell all or part of the property of Jacob’s heir. The said inheritance, the Storhnest and all its lands, would be reserved for her heir until he came of age. What did this mean? That the widow’s house would have no claim on Jacob’s inheritance.
Third: In case Jacob’s widow remarried, the children of this new marriage would have no part in the inheritance of the deceased.
Fourth: In case the couple had no descendants, Jacob’s inheritance would pass directly to the children of Matthan. Jacob’s widow would live in the house of his deceased until his death however.
Fifth: In case Jacob’s heir was a female, she would inherit the messianic legacy of her father, who in turn would bequeath it to his heir. If it happened, as it had been happening in previous occasions, that a female succeeded another one, the messianic succession would pass from Jacob to the next male heir that came to the case. Let us say that if Jacob was succeeded by a female, only to her and not to his widow would it correspond to hand over his inheritance to his chosen one. Any transfer of Jacob’s inheritance to a house joined to his descendants by marriage ties would not be valid in this case. The inheritance would pass from mother to daughter until a male was placed at the head of the House of Abiud, whose name would be the one that would appear after that of Jacob.
This is how Joseph came to follow Jacob, gathering in his hand the leadership of both Houses, that of his father and that of his deceased father-in-law. Unified inheritance that he would bequeath to his firstborn, the Son of Mary.
The terms of this contract raised among those present a smile of admiration. The absence of generations in the List of the House of Abiud could be explained by such an atypical nature of succession within the Jewish patriarchal traditions. Thanks to this sui generis formula, the House of Abiud had maintained the property to its original extent and continued to ensure that it remained so.
Once the contract was signed by the in-laws, a year later the wedding took place, and at the end of the natural times the couple gave birth to a baby girl.
In memory of her mother Jacob named her Mary.
“Did I not tell you, O man of God, that I saw the Daughter of Solomon in the womb of my child?” wrapped in divine happiness Elizabeth said to her husband.