And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart
~ Deuteronomy 6:4-6 (King James)
""Whatever thou shalt ask of me, I will do it"
~ Mariam bat Yehoiakim
|Pots In the Room (by Timothy Sim deviantart.com)|
Mariam's Well ~ Fragments Of The Life Of Mariam bat Yehoiakim
Netzeret, HaGalil 4 BCE
Netzeret was a little town in a hollow in the hills twelve miles south west of the Sea of HaGalil.
It was a minor and relatively isolated little village north of the Yizre'el valley.
Netzeret had a population of about 480 inhabitants and was probably dominated by two or three large extended families.
It was only a few miles south-east of the cosmopolitan Tzippori and was an exclusively Jewish enclave.
HaGalil was a rich agricultural region in the north of Palestina and was a small territory some fifty miles long and twenty-five miles across.
It had been under separate administration from Judea during almost all its history since 10 BCE.
Rome did not govern Palestina on a day-to-day basis but did so indirectly through a puppet king, ethnarch or tetrarch or through a resident governor who utilized local aristocrats.
Palestina had been occupied by Rome since 63 BCE and there were mounting religious, political and socio-economic tensions.
There were five sects of Jews in 1 century Palestina: Pharisees, Sadducee's, Essenes, Zealots and Sicari and each group had a distinct way of rendering the Hebrew scriptures and applying them to the present.
From 37 to 4 B.C., the region known as Yəhuda was a vassal state of the Roman Empire ruled by Herod the Great.
Times were tough for the Jewish people who were living under the yoke of Roman occupation.
Everything about the Roman occupation was detestable to them, from harsh taxes to physical abuse by Roman soldiers to the abhorrent suggestion that the Roman leader was a god.
The Jews regarded pagan deities as demons.
It was late afternoon in Netzeret.
The young girl quietly put down her stone water jar as she began to draw water from the well.
She was alone now.
The gaggle of gossiping women had long since departed.
Mariam bat Yehoiakim was immersed in her own thoughts as she carried out her task.
The young girl's mind was filled with reflections on her impending marriage.
Her intended was well regarded.
Yossef bar Ya'akov was a man of good repute.
Mariam had known him since infancy and he had always been kind to her.
Her father had chosen a man of good standing to marry his youngest daughter.
Yehoiakim knew that Mariam would be well cared for.
Both he and his wife Hannah were satisfied with the choice.
Yossef bar Ya'akov was twenty years older than his intended; a tall and good looking man with dancing black eyes and a luxuriant black beard.
He was observant and had a cheerful disposition.
Yossef was a man of good standing and Yehoiakim was content that he would be the right husband for his daughter.
And Hannah had assured him.
"Mariam is a good girl!" She informed the carpenter-builder in his house.
Yossef smiled as he pondered on the humble Jewish girl who was soon to be his wife.
He had barely spoken to his intended even though he had known her since infancy.
Mariam dressed in the simple garments that she had made with her own hands.
She was diminutive and had a sweet face and large black eyes.
Mariam always kept her abundant raven hair covered by a veil; women did not show their hair in public as custom required.
Her movements were graceful and sure and there was a prepossessing fragility about her.
Mariam was not yet twelve.
She had been an unexpected arrival for her parents.
And from the very beginning Mariam bat Yehoiakim had been an unusual child.
Not like the others.
Her mother Hannah had often pondered on how little she resembled her older sister Salome.
Mariam was a soulful child with an intense inner life.
And she had expressed a compassionate and loving nature from the first, handling all the livestock with great tenderness.
Mariam displayed infinite patience at her weaving.
And she had a willingness to remain silent until she had something to say.
She had a deeply devout heart which found succour in the Jewish faith.
Mariam delighted in hearing the Oral Torah.
One day she would pass on the Oral Torah to her own children.
At the heart of Jewish observance lay the Torah, the Prophets, the Psalms and the Wisdom literature of the Hebrews and the sages of Yisrā'el.
Mariam was obedient to the letter and Hannah was so grateful for her that she would often give thanks for her in the silence of her heart.
From the moment she could walk, the child had avidly and wholeheartedly assisted her.
Hannah was loathe to let her out of her sight.
She recalled the girl's words when her father informed her that Yossef bar Ya'akov was to be her husband.
"Whatever thou shalt ask of me, I will do it" Mariam had replied.
Tears filled Hannah's eyes at the remembrance.
Mariam had always been with her.
And Hannah knew that giving her away her youngest daughter in marriage would be a great emotional wrench for her.
Many young girls wept as they were taken to the house of their intended. `
But Hannah knew that Mariam had quietly and assuredly accepted her destiny.
And she was of an age.
Soon Yossef bar Ya'akov would take her into his house and she would begin a new life.
The familial ties would be cut forever.
Her sister was already married and settled in Beth-tsaida.
Salome was married to a man named Zvad'yah.
He was a fisherman and a man of means and she had already presented him with two fine sons.
Now Yehoiakim had chosen Yossef bar Ya'akov to be Mariam's husband.
And the young girl was inwardly joyful that such a good man had been chosen for her.
Yehoiakim and Hannah could now have peace of mind that their youngest daughter would soon be settled.
|Mariam and Yeshua (stsachurch.org)|
A daughter of the desert.
Because Mariam had been a minor, she was betrothed to Yossef as Jewish law dictated.
According to Mishnic-Talmudic legislation, a girl attained majority when she began to menstruate or on the day after her twelfth birthday - whichever came first.
By the age of twelve and six months, a young girl became an adult and was expected to already be married.
Nuptials were presumed to take place within twelve months from the date of the engagement.
Now the young girl pondered everything that had happened as she drew water from the well.
It was like a dream.
And although the breaking of ties with her parents would be one that she felt deeply - Mariam bat Yehoiakim humbly accepted it as the work of Elohim.
It was quiet at the well as the young girl began to draw water.
The well was positioned over an underground spring and it had served for centuries as a local watering hole.
Suddenly a voice addressed her.
The young girl looked up.
But there was nobody there.
Mariam was sure that someone had spoken to her.
And it was a beautiful and unfamiliar voice.
The perplexed young girl tended to her task.
She must have been imagining it.
Soon her mother would be wondering where she was.
The voice called to her again, this time louder and with more urgency.
The bewildered young girl looked up again.
But again there was nobody there.
Mariam was fearful.
Somebody had certainly called to her.
Unless the heat was playing tricks on her.
Suddenly a dog barked.
Mariam quickly completed her task and set the water jar upon her shoulder.
Then she hurried away.
Yossef had left the shop early, leaving it in the capable hands of his protégé's.
It was mid afternoon and the sun was high in the sky.
Yossef leant by a wall as he silently beheld his wife and her first born son at the well.
Mariam had blossomed into a radiant and beautiful young woman.
Yehoiakim and Hannah had not long since passed and the devout little Jewish girl had become the maternal heart of the family.
The role of motherhood had come naturally to the compassionate Mariam.
Yossef watched as the swarthy, curly haired youth beside her assisted her with the water jars.
Mariam smiled approvingly at his gesture.
She placed her hand lovingly on his head.
Yeshua bar Yossef was twelve years old now.
And there was nothing out of the ordinary about the boy in his daily life.
He was a sturdy youth with robust health.
Yet Yossef and Mariam knew from the first that Yeshua was different.
He was not like his younger siblings; Ya'akov, Yossef, Yehuda and Shi'mon.
Nor did he resemble his two sisters either.
Yeshua bar Yossef was expected to follow in his father's footsteps.
Yet he was already wise beyond his years and had revealed an idiosyncratic character.
Those who heard Yeshua speak, marvelled at his words.
He spoke deep into their hearts.
The Torah seemed to come alive in him.
Yossef recalled how Yeshua had languished in the words of his mother as she recited the Oral Torah to him.
He seemed to perceive and understand more than any learned man that his father had encountered.
Yet nothing about Yeshua would have singled him out.
Nothing about his life in Netzeret was extraordinary.
He obediently and ably assisted his mother and already displayed a deft hand at carpentry.
And life continued as it had always done in Ha'Galil.
Yet Yeshua bar Yossef was different.
Now Yossef bar Ya'akov watched silently as the boy helped his mother draw water from the well.
And he recalled the many precious moments he had observed Mariam cradling the baby Yeshua in her arms.
Yossef's heart had often leapt with joy at such touching moments of tenderness between mother and child.
Mariam gently rocked the baby in her arms as she silently prayed over him.
Her sweet face was illuminated with love.
And Yossef pondered the wondrous manner in which it had all come to pass.
They had been carried through trial and tribulation
As if had been a dream.
And Yossef had not been alone in his devotion.
Others had joined him.
They continued to arrive in a steady stream at the house in Netzeret to catch a glimpse of mother and child.
There was an expectant hush among the throng as they gathered round the scene.
Mariam held the baby Yeshua in her arms as Yossef stood behind her.
She greeted the well-wishers with her generous smile as she held up the child.
"Behold my son, Yeshua!" Mariam declared.
A delighted murmur arose among them.
"Peace be upon him!" A man cried.
Tears of jubilation filled Hannah and Yehoiakim's eyes.
And Yossef bar Ya'akov fought the urge to shout for joy.
It was a transcendent moment.
Yossef smiled at the memory.
Then he cast his mind back.
He remembered how he had watched with pride as Yeshua took his first steps, gently guided by his mother.
How ecstatic he had been to hear the boy's first spoken words.
And Yossef vividly recalled the first day he had taken the boy to the shop.
Yeshua had wanted to touch every carpentry tool and had looked about him with wide eyed awe.
Yossef remembered how Mariam had waited for them both to return at the top of the hill.
And how he had cherished the sight of her unforgettable smile.
Those days were bliss.
Now Yossef watched as Mariam placed the water jar on her shoulder and Yeshua follewed suit, and mother and child made their way back to the house.
They did not see Yossef by the wall.
Nor did they hear his prayer of thanksgiving.
Twenty years had passed.
Life had continued as it had always done in Netzeret.
Yet the life of Mariam bat Yohoiakim had changed forever.
She had experienced joy and sorrow.
All but Yeshua.
He had grown into a sturdy man with a passionate temperament.
Yeshua had a wise face and swarthy skin.
He had piercing onyx eyes, shoulder length black hair and a fine black beard.
Yeshua spoke with a resonant voice and had an undeniably powerful presence.
Yossef and Mariam had always known that their first-born son was different.
From the very beginning Yeshua was conscious of his duty to proclaim and prepare for the imminent arrival of the Kingdom of Elohim and to bring his contemporaries into it through repentance and through surrendering themselves to Elohim.
He set aside his carpentry tools and left the trauma of his home town to commune with Elohim.
Yeshua had forestalled his career as a carpenter-builder to follow the desert preacher Johanan the Baptizer and remained with him in the wilderness.
He began his preaching mission in HaGalil after the imprisonment of Johanan by Herod Antipas.
Yeshua selected an inner circle of twelve apostles and a larger body of seventy disciples to assist him in the execution of his task.
Central to his message was the imminent coming of the Kingdom of Elohim; a vibrational place within.
Yeshua's charismatic message was centred upon the Law of Moses and he taught with authority, manifesting it in spiritual healing and exorcism by straightforward command.
"I came not to call the righteous" He declared "but sinners to repentance".
Yeshua chose Kefar Nahum as the base for his ministry in HaGalil and he frequently resided there, in the house of his disciple Shemayon Keppa.
He had made an unsuccessful return to Netzeret in which the townspeople had repudiated him and attempted to stone him.
They were outraged by his transformation and jealous of his miraculous feats.
"Is not this the carpenter?" They cried "The son of Mariam, the brother of Ya'akov, and Yossef, and of Yehuda, and Shimon? And are not his sisters here with us?"
Mariam had watched helplessly as the people she knew well, rejected her son.
Every slur and jibe was like a dagger to her heart.
Yeshua had come into the fullness of who he truly was.
But even his own family objected to his new vocation.
It was dusk in Netzeret.
The sky was a fiery red and purple.
Shimon and Ya'akov bar Yossef were standing outside the house of their father.
The two men had deigned to pay their mother a visit.
Mariam was within, quietly preparing dinner.
She was still beautiful.
In the intervening years, Mariam had lived the life of a devoutly observant Jewish woman and had run a home and bought up a family of five boys and two daughters.
And she had buried a husband.
Life had been hard.
Yet every one of Mariam's gestures had been forged in love.
"I am sick at heart" Ya'akov declared "Our brother talks in riddles ... and yet his words have authority and his deeds ... everything seems to have deeper meanings ..."
"He is our brother!" Shimon corrected him sharply "We have lived with him, broken bread with him and slept beside him ... "
He fought the urge to shake some sense into his brother.
"He is our flesh and blood!" Shimon added "He is still the same fiery tempered and impetuous Yeshua as he always was ... "
"He has never been one of us!" Ya'akov replied "He was always different ..."
There was a distant look in Ya'akov's eyes as he looked up at the starless sky.
He was remembering how noisy the family home had once been and how bellicose they all were from their youth upwards.
Family bonds were fierce in HaGalil.
Suddenly the family home seemed very quiet.
And Ya'akov recalled how his mother had always shown them boundless patience.
How she was a woman who spoke more in her silence than many spoke in a lifetime.
"Don't you remember what our brother said when we came to see him that day?" Ya'akov suddenly asserted "When we stood at the gates outside the gathering while he preached?"
"I remember how he spurned us!" Shimon retorted angrily "How he identified his family as being his followers ... and not us!"
"Brother it is we who have spurned him!" Ya'akov declared loudly "It is we who want him to stop this nonsense ... and yet ..."
"He has become a stranger to us!" Shimon interjected cuttingly.
The two men fell silent.
"Our mother could never reject him!" Ya'akov asserted thoughtfully.
"She fears for his life!" Shimon responded.
"It is a dangerous path he is taking ... and we know why ..." Ya'akov answered him knowingly.
"The coming of the Kingdom of Elohim!" Shimon snorted insolently.
Ya'akov watched as his brother shook his head.
They had all witnessed his miraculous deeds and Ya'akov could not deny what he had seen and heard.
Yet he was troubled in his mind.
He thought he had known his brother and now he realised he did not know him at all.
"And yet ..." Ya'akov muttered "And yet ..."
Yeshua had dramatically come into the fullness of who he really was.
He had emerged as a prophet, healer, exorcist and teacher .
But he did not reveal his full identity.
And his own kin did not accept him.
The desertion by his family was the saddest episode of Yeshua's life.
Yet he struck back with characteristic vigour.
Yeshua redefined the concept of family for the Kingdom of Elohim.
Mariam appeared at the door.
Radiant - even in the black raiment of a widow.
"Come!" She beckoned them warmly.
The troubling matter of their older brother was briefly forgotten.
Yet as Ya'akov entered the house with his brother, he knew in his heart that his mother would be praying for Yeshua.
Mariam had met her son on the way to Gol'gotha .
Yeshua had been beaten beyond recognition by Roman soldiers and brutally scourged.
A woven crown of thorns had been placed upon his head.
Yeshua was in unimaginable pain and was so weak from blood loss that he was already close to death.
Pontius Pilatus was the fifth procurator of the Roman province of Yəhuda and he was known for his cruelty and disregard for Jewish sensibilities.
Yeshua was condemned by Pilatus without trial as a violator of Roman law and sentenced to immediate crucifixion.
He was condemned for sedition after he caused a fracas during Pesach.
The perturbation had occurred in the merchant's quarter in the Yerushaláyim Temple.
An indignant Yeshua had driven out those who were buying and selling there, turning over the tables of the money-changers and the stalls of the merchants selling sanctioned sacrificial animals.
"Is it not written" he addressed them compellingly "My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? But ye have made it a den of thieves!"
Yeshua was the innocent victim of a miscarriage of justice.
He was to be crucified for a crime he did not commit.
Now the crowds gathered to stare and jeer at Yeshua as they followed him on the grim procession to "the place of a skull".
Gol'gotha was a hill outside the walls of Yerushaláyim where convicted criminals were put to death.
Mariam had been accompanied by her nephew Yohanna, the disciple whom Yeshua loved and the women who had supported her son.
The party included her sister Salome, mother of Yohanna.
Her sister-in-law, Mariam the wife of Clopas.
And Mariam of Migdal, a woman of means of whom Yeshua had cast out seven spirits.
Mariam clung to Yohanna as they struggled through the baying crowd.
A great stab of pain tore into her heart as she finally beheld her son.
Yohanna supported Mariam as she swooned from shock.
Her son was battered and bloodied from the cruel beating and the harsh scourging with flagellum that he had suffered.
To the world Yeshua was a prophet and an itinerant preacher who proclaimed the imminent coming of the Kingdom of Elohim.
He was the prophet, healer, exorcist and teacher who accepted the company of the publicans and sinners, the tax-collectors and prostitutes.
Nobody had ever seen anyone like him before.
But to Mariam, he was the son she had borne in her womb.
The son she had watched grow from boyhood to adulthood.
The son she suffered with.
Mariam reached out to Yeshua.
Tenderly she cupped his bloodied face in her hands.
Mariam had endured almost unbearable suffering since they had arrested Yeshua.
She had desperately longed to see him.
And yearned to hold him in her arms.
To soothe him with gentle words.
|Mariam and Yeshua (|
"Son!" Mariam addressed him with intense emotion.
Yeshua looked deeply into his mother's eyes.
He managed a smile.
"Eima!" Yeshua replied.
For several moments the world seemed to have stopped.
As mother and son communed.
Then the surly Roman soldiers began cursing and roughly shoved Yeshua along.
Mariam felt as if her heart had been torn from her body as she watched her son disappear into a sea of rowdy people.
Then the three women who had accompanied her, huddled around to comfort her.
Mariam felt as if she were about to give birth again.
And the labour pains had only just begun.
They had placed a notice above his head on the cross with a subscription written in Greek, Latin and Hebrew.
Yeshua Ha'Netzeret V'mlech Ha'Yehudim
Yeshua of Netzeret King of the Jews.
And as they hammered the nails into his hands and feet - it was as if they were hammering the nails into Mariam's own soul too.
She had been with her son at the beginning and she would be with him to the end.
Her heart was beating with his heart.
Mariam stood at a distance with Yohanna and the three other women.
She was weak from lack of sleep and the torment of watching her son die an excruciating death on the cross.
Nobody could comprehend what Mariam suffered as she watched her naked and broken son hang there between two convicted thieves.
Yohanna put a protective arm around her as the other women huddled together in their grief.
He had been entrusted as guardian of Mariam; and from that day on she would reside in his house.
All the other disciples had fled and gone into hiding.
Yeshua had been deserted and was dying in isolation.
At midday, the foreboding sky considerably darkened.
Some of the bystanders observing the crucifixion hurled insults and abuse at Yeshua.
"He saved others; himself he cannot save!" Someone jeered "If he be the King of Yisreal, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him!"
Yeshua was now suffering almost unendurable agony.
"Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtani?" He cried aloud with despair.
It was the prayer of someone who could not understand what was happening to him.
The Kingdom had not arrived immediately and in the depths of incomprehensible pain and humiliation it seemed that Elohim himself had betrayed him.
After a relatively short period of suffering, Yeshua gave a loud cry and died.
It was three in the afternoon.
The Suffering is Over
At last Mariam held her son.
And as she clung to his naked and ravaged body, she gave vent to her grief.
It was a body she had known so well.
The child she had carried in her womb.
The boy that she and Yossef had marvelled at.
The man she had tried to protect.
As Yeshua lay still in his mother's arms, Yohanna and the women gathered around her.
They watched with tears in their eyes as Mariam gently rocked her son in her arms.
The suffering was over.
Several days after the agony.
Mariam of Migdal could barely contain her excitement as she raced through the town to Yohanna's house.
After the darkest night of all, light had come in the morning.
The abject end had been transformed into a transcendent beginning.
Yeshua had not remained dead and buried but continued to be with them and act through them.
Yohanna and Salome met Mariam of Migdal at the door.
"This is a blessed day!" Mariam cried with joy "Yeshua is with us! I can feel his presence!"
Her whole face was illuminated.
She who had been so devoted to Yeshua and supported him
Mariam of Migdal had seen Yeshua.
Others had too.
He had risen again in them.
The three faithful disciples were enjoined in a solidarity of love.
Slowly they turned to the quiet figure in the room with them.
Mariam bat Yehoiakim, mother of Yeshua, smiled her generous smile and opened her arms to embrace them.
There was no need for words.
The tears and pain were all gone now.
|Within The Temple by Timothy Sim deviantart.com)|