Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Paul in Arabia: A Novel" by Tucker Cordani, Part Three

Judas was Paul’s contact in the city. He worked as a merchant but he had been contacted by the high priests. He anxiously awaited the arrival of this man, Saul of Tarsus, of whom he had hear such ill repute.

Saul vaguely knew of Judas, had heard little of him. He agreed to harbor Saul but had severe misgivings because of the Pharisee’s reputation as a man filled with violence, anger, and hatred. He feared of the livelihood he might have lost, and for his family. But he liked to listen to the Christians in the market squares preaching on the Word. It bothered him that they talked as they did in the synagogue, their speech skirted the blasphemous. Judas remained a devout follower of the Law.

The others arrived with Saul at the house. The stood beneath the awning, long spears in their hands, horses trolling the soil behind them, sweaty and combative in the early afternoon.

Judas met them at the door. He was very tall and talked down at them, scratching his beard as he mumbled at them.


“Saul. I bring you authorization from Annas and Caiaphas.”

“So I see. Where have you been?”

“Something happened on the way into the city.”

“What’s wrong with you?”

Saul stood before Judas in the doorway; he was shrunken, silent, cowed.

Judas was sizing Saul up. So this is the great Saul of Tarsus, he was thinking. Not at all like I envisioned him.

“What happened?” he asked. “He get scared by a gnat or step on a scorpion? They say you’re the man that led the charge against the Christians in Jerusalem. Now here you are, fearful and trembling like a kitten. What happened? Say something. How is it you are presented to me speechless and trembling as a waif who can’t look another man in the eye?”

The Jew from Tarsus couldn’t hear any better than he could see; his head continued ringing. He could hardly make sense of his own mind. Why was this man—a fellow Pharisee—mocking reviling him for having been punched into the ground by a man from another world? Jealously. That’s what it was. It wasn’t my problem that I was advanced in wisdom and learning beyond my years. That’s how God created me to be: a genius who will save the Jewish nation from the scourge of this new uprising. The old gray-grizzled jackals are jealous because I am where I am at twenty-five where they haven’t gotten their entire lives.

One of the guards was looking over his shoulder. The parades through the streets clamored up and down the alleys, with music and noise. “What’s the commotion?” he asked.

“Aretas, king of the Nabateans, who controls this city. He’s appointed some new governor to rule over the city while he’s in the desert capital, a place called Petra, so-named because it is a great rose-colored city hewn out of rock in the badlands of Arabia. It is said that Petra is a city so glorious God himself could not have hewn it from the rock. Now there’s all this festooning all over the city. Everybody’s drunk, rioting, dancing and cavorting in the streets. The new governor lives by the temple of the all-power God of the Romans, Jupiter.”

“Make up your mind, Judas. Do you want him or not?”

Visit Tucker Cordani's blog at

No comments:

Post a Comment