*Written from the view of Mary*
My name is Miriam and I want to tell you the story of my people. We are the Jews. The righteous, the holy tribe of Judah. The royal priesthood, married to God and given a mission to be a light, to run into tohu (which you call chaos), and bring shalom. But we were not always faithful to our husband, Adonai, and each time we forgot him we became oppressed. Four times now we have been oppressed: first with Egypt, second in Babylon, third by the Greeks, and now under Rome. Each time, they key to our freedom was holiness and righteousness: remembering God our husband, and once again becoming faithful.
We won our freedom from the Greeks under the leadership of Judas the Maccabee in 167BC. But it didn’t last. Because as we lived in freedom, we once again became corrupt. Finally, two brothers in line for the throne became greedy and corrupted. In pursuit of the throne, they both ran to that brilliant Caesar of Rome, Pompeii, and each asked him to support them in killing the other brother. Pompeii did as they asked. Both of them. And he killed them both, taking over our land once again.
And once again, we were plunged into slavery. No, we were “free” under Rome, but never had we been so oppressed – no not even in Egypt, not under the Babylonians, nor the Greeks. They taxed us to the breaking point. Within years, they had taken 97% of our land because we could not pay the taxes. Thousands of our people starved to death. Rome was the most cruel oppressor there ever was. You see the descendants of the Maccabees again rose up, called the Zealots, and they made war with Rome over and over again. Rome, however, took it out on the citizens. They raped our women to death. If by chance, the women survived, they slit open their bellies to prevent pregnancies, and we slowly bled to death. Children were boiled alive because we refused to name Caesar a god. Full villages wiped out because of Zealot uprisings. If there was even a hint of revolt, the Romans murdered everyone they could find. They crucified over 500 people a day in Jerusalem. Every single day.
Never had we been more oppressed. We were starving. We were cruelly murdered and tortured. Not until thousands of years in the future would be as oppressed as we were under Rome – by a man you call Hitler.
And again, we became more holy, more righteous than ever before. And every single day we begged for the Messiah. Even though the leaders of the temple, the Sadducees of the High Priests of the temple, were as corrupt as the Romans, they still sacrificed twice a day – not for the forgiveness of sins; no, God’s grace and mercy always was the source of forgiveness. The sacrifice was a reminder to God of the covenant he made with Abraham. He told us to sacrifice twice a day to remind him of his promise to bring forth the Messiah who would save us from the nations and bring shalom to all creation.
And every day, at the third hour and the ninth hour, as the animals cried in fear, we cried our distress along with them. At each sacrifice, we begged God to bring forth the Messiah – to save us from our enemies, who so cruelly oppressed us. We begged him to keep his promise! God keep your promise! Send us the Messiah! Free us from our enemies. Restore to us shalom. God keep your promise!
And we begged. And we waited. Every day. Until that blessed day when the angel, Gabriel appeared. Finally, he came to me and he said “Greetings, favored one of God!” Let me tell you, I was terrified as I tried to figure out what he was saying. But he saw my fear, and said, “Do not fear, you who are highly favored. You will conceive a son and you will name him Yeshua. He will be great and be called the Son of the God most High. The Lord will give him the throne of his father, David, and his reign will never end.”
Finally. After all our cries, all that time pleading and begging, God heard us. Like that time of oppression so long ago in Egypt, he remembered us. He saw me. And through me, the promised Messiah is coming. Hoshanna! “God save us” has come.
Beautifully written. I love all the historical details.
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