I will stay here and watch, I said.
What are you thinking of, come with us.
I sat before the tomb like a dog which guards its master and doesn't believe
that he is dead. But they wouldn't leave me there. Soldiers came and chased
me with harsh words. The tomb watchmen. Why tomb watchmen? Was the terror of
Lazarus's return still in the authorities' bones? But Yeshua had woken
another in Bethany, he probably can't awaken himself from the dead. But
perhaps he taught his disciples and they will now awaken him. Or: those
words about the destruction of the temple and the three days until its
reconstruction, was it perhaps not merely blasphemy? In the closed circle of
Pharisees, who believed in the resurrection of the dead, those words were
taken very seriously Nicodemus told us. One can't know for sure. In any case
the tomb must be closely guarded.
So I left. Where to now? HE was nowhere now, not in Bethany, not at Veronica
's. Nowhere. No home anymore.
But I had to go somewhere for the night. So I went to Veronica's. All the
women were together there, also Lazarus and Yochanan. There was nothing more
to talk about.
Veronica said: It's cold, and we must eat in spite of everything. She made a
fire and hung the water kettle over it.
Someone said: But it's already the Shabbat. You may not do that.
Yochanan said: The ears of grain, the loaves. Make us hot wine, Veronica,
and give us matzo.
We drank the wine, but we couldn't eat that night.
The hot wine made us sleepy and towards dawn we all lay in deep sleep.
It was still dark when someone knocked. Our signal, three knocks at certain
Shimon. But how he looked. Like someone who had been attacked by thieves,
tortured. He fled immediately into the darkest corner and cowered there like
an animal that seeks a hiding place. His hands were ice cold and his teeth
chattered. I brought him wine, but he didn't take it. Eventually he stopped
that terrible teeth
chattering and whispered: I am the worst of all men, a miserable worm, a
coward, too cowardly to judge myself.
He lifted his head: Do you hear? The cock.
No cock had crowed.
Then I saw that he held a rope. He held it so fast that it took a great
effort to wrest it from him.
He sobbed. Then he looked up again: The cock! Do you hear it?
Nonsense, I said. There's no cock. Sleep now.
I wasn't friendly to him, for really: he had acted cowardly, and not only in
Hananya's courtyard. Where was he when Yeshua had to carry the beam? Where
was he when Yeshua was crucified?
I don't know why I said then: It's true that you were cowardly, but you will
atone for it, we will still need you.
At that moment he was completely useless.
I can't. Watch with him. Not even that. I will never sleep again.
I poured wine in his mouth almost with force. Then he fell asleep.
I couldn't sleep though. If I could only at least go to the tomb. But the
guards. Or to Golgotha, follow the trail of blood. Anywhere. What to do with
the whole long Shabbat?
I sat there and thought of nothing except: He is gone. He is dead. Gone and
dead. Still so young. And beautiful. And now the purification begins. If
only I could have poured my last flask of royal oil over him, over his face
that was so bloody, one eye wounded and shut, I will never see that face
So immersed was I in grief that I found no consolation in thinking: He said
three days, then we'd see each other again.
No, no, he didn't mean that literally. Three days, how long was that for
him? Don't count the days, Miryam, count as I do in Aeons. And seeing each
other again: where then, and how? No, that was no beam which I could hold on
One after the other they all woke up. Veronica brought us the prepared
Shabbat meal. We ate a little from politeness. Shimon slept and couldn't be
woken. Yeshua's mother said: Yochanan, recite all the psalms you can
He began from the beginning:
Blessed are those who do not follow the advice of the godless.
When he didn't know any more, another jumped in. Thus we prayed and prayed
and the day knew no end and prayer was no consolation. A day of lead.
Why did nobody speak of his return? Of the future? Of tomorrow's day, or
what would become of us? Time had been cut through with a knife. Could time
still exist? Hadn't HE taken everything with him that seemed to belong to
us? The Light was also gone. It was thundering and dark.
That day was worse than the previous one. There had been excitement,
something happened. Bad and horrible, but something moved. Now though: we
sat like shadows in the underworld and when it became completely dark
outside we fell asleep again. What else could we do? Later thinking back it
seemed to me: that's how one lives in the kingdom of shadows where the sun
never shines. Still later I thought: that's how one lives without him.
I woke before dawn. I woke Shulamit, who lay next to me. Come, let's go to
To do what?
I want to go to him.
To him? But he's dead. And in the tomb. And the stone covers the entrance.
And the soldiers are there. Miryam, that's a crazy idea.
How much money do you have?
She counted it.
That, together with mine, will be enough.
For what, what are you planning, tell me!
Bribe the soldiers. Are you coming or not?
It was still dark. The city still slept.
We came to the tomb.
There were no soldiers. But their helmets and spears lay strewn on the
ground. It looked like they had fled quickly. But what soldier throws away
his weapons? Who disarmed them?
We tried to roll away the stone. It was too heavy.
Then I saw a man among the trees in the olive grove in which the tomb was.
Shulamit fled. But the man wasn't a soldier. At least he had no weapons. He
came closer. I thought: if I give him money he will help me roll the stone
away. When he came closer I took him to be a worker, a gardener. So early
I became unsure. Was I afraid? My heart beat faster. The man came still
It was his voice.
Then I recognized him: Rabbi!
I fell at his feet and laughed and cried at the same time and was overcome
But when I tried to embrace his knees he stepped back. Not that, Miryam, no
more and not yet. Stand and stay where you are. Listen: I'm giving you a
task. Listen carefully!
I'm listening, Rabbi. Speak!
Go to the others. Tell them that you have seen me. Tell them that I'm going
ahead to Galilee. You will see me again, Miryam.
Then the place where he stood was empty. But I was burning inside. I took a
few steps forward. Maybe he was hidden among the trees. But there was
nothing there. And no trace on the damp grass. No sound of feet going away.
Shulamit called out: Who are you talking to? Who was that man? He called you
by your name.
You heard it? Tell me that you heard it!
And did you see the man?
Yes. He stood there where you are standing now.
Shulamit: it was HIM!
You're crazy, Miryam. Come, let's get away from here.
But you saw and heard him yourself!
I saw a man and I heard a voice that said your name, that's all, and you
didn't see and hear anything else. Come, come, maybe it was a ghost. They
say that during the first days ghosts leave the tomb and wander around.
Come, I beg you.
I'm not crazy and the man was no ghost. Believe it or not: it was HIM, and
he gave me the task of telling the others that he's going to Galilee and we
should follow him there. Does a ghost say that?
I left her standing there and ran and ran and almost tripped over the
threshold of Veronica's house.
I saw him, he lives, I swear to you by the Almighty: I saw him and he lives.
Shimon sprang up and clapped his hands and turned in circles. He lives, he
lives! Where is he?
No longer here, Shimon. He said we should go to Galilee, that we'll meet him
Up, let's go! Shimon shouted.
But Shulamit said: That's what you think. But the tomb was closed! The stone
was still there. How could he have come out?
Yochanan said: You are unlearned. It was his spirit-body that Miryam saw.
Shimon cried: What's that supposed to mean? Was it him or not? Spirit-body
or not, what difference does it make? We're to go to Galilee, so let's go!
Then Thomas butt in: But the soldiers! Did they simply let you go to the
There were no soldiers there any more. Their spears and helmets were there,
but no soldiers. Tell them, Shulamit, was it so or not?
Yes, that's true.
Shimon said: When Miryam says something like that we must believe her. She
has never seen ghosts and always thought rationally about what we called
Yeshua's mother, who had been sleeping in the upper chamber, came down.
I cried: Yeshua lives!
She said calmly: I know.
We thought she meant that she knew because she had heard us talking. But she
told me later that she knew even before I came back from the tomb. She didn'
t say how she found out. She didn't go with us to the tomb.
For what? She said.
The rest of us went. What did we expect?
Everything was as before. What to do? Open the tomb? If someone saw us they
would say: His disciples stole the body.
Maybe it was already stolen though, namely by the High Council so they could
say: Why are you talking about a resurrection, we have the body and it's all
a lie and a trick.
Shimon said: Would the rabbi agree to us opening the tomb? After all, he
said that he wouldn't stay in the kingdom of death, and if Miryam has
already seen him, why check again?
Yochanan said: That has nothing to do with it. We already believe. But we
must know what it's all about. It could be completely different. Come,
Shimon, let's roll the stone away!
They did so, and Yochanan walked bravely into the chamber.
When he came out again he held the linen cloth in which the body had been
wrapped after Josef took it off the cross. It showed signs of dried blood.
Yochanan held the cloth high like a flag.
It is as I thought!
We went into the chamber: it was empty.
Frank Thomas Smith