How the Emperor Ahashverosh
"Your Royal Highness is not going to like it", conceded Mordekhay with an embarrassed face, "I would rather not mention this possibility to Your Majesty".
"I've asked you again and again to tell me this secret of you Jews, now I command you, Mordekhay. What is this thing, that as long as I hold to I shall have eternal life?".
"And I told you so many times, this is the Torah of the Lord of Heaven, as it itself says "a Tree of Life to all who hold her". As a Jewish keeper of the Torah, you will enjoy the kind of immortality that we Jews do seem to have as God's eternal People".
"I know all that already. I even told you I'll buy it, as long as I can keep it secret. We have conducted many Torah-study sessions together. But what I'm after is my own, my personal immortality. You admitted this can also be done. So come with it, or you will lose the favor you've found in my eyes all these years since I appointed you to administer my kingdoms in place of Haman. It's time to spill the beans or I'll have to look for some descendent of Haman to replace you".
"If you insist. There is that donkey I know of. It has lived for over three thousand years now and is still alive and kicking. Not so great looking, nothing like the glorious horses of yours, like that horse of yours I once rode, lead by the flustered Haman. But someone who keeps very close to that donkey, someone who, you might say, would carry that donkey upon his shoulders, may live for ever. But this is not the kind of life Your Royal Highness is likely to like".
"So its present keeper is himself an immortal", I asked, "I would like to meet one at last".
"He isn't", said Mordekhay. "Who would want to wander for ever, maybe for centuries yet, taking care of an old donkey until the rightful King will show up to ride upon it into Jerusalem. No one wants to live like that forever, and certainly not you, the greatest king who ever lived upon the face of the earth. You would not like to keep that donkey for the sake of another king".
But I felt that that paving stone was weighing heavily on my heart. For I'm the man who has had everything that could be asked for. But was I really greater than the King of Babel who erected that great city and its temple to the god Merodakh? That paving stone, as all the ten million paving stones on the processional road he had built, all carried the message "This pavement and temple and great city, all these I have built in Your Honor. Oh Lord Merodakh, give me eternal life". This paving tablet was dug from the ruins of that once greatest city in the world, greater, I must concede, from my own capital. Now this once great king is all but forgotten.
So I took that strange bargain, and here I am now, a wanderer with an old donkey, and together we roam the highways and byways of the whole earth and, in my own way, I'm happy. There is no more personal ambitions for me, I've already had everything. I'm just curious how the story will unfold, who will that other King Messiah be, to whom I'll deliver my beast of burden. As the years pass and the centuries fold and unfold, I see that human history is stranger and stranger than any one could have foreseen then, when I set in my beautiful garden discussing with my great minister Mordekhay the matters of state or the marvels of the world. I know that the Lord Himself must be curious how this old story of his is developing. I pray He is still entertained by it.
I guess that the Lord is a bit like me, like what I came to be after so many centuries of living as a marginal, almost detached, mere observer. I am Ahashverosh, really HaHash-baRosh - the one who feels only through his head, not an emotional sort of guy. Not I. For had I been emotional at all, my heart would have burnt for all the suffering and agony I've seen in that vale of suffering that is all human history, and the history of us Jews more than of any. I have seen countless persecutions, killings, burnings, rapes, mutilations and human bestiality. I'm still a lively person in my head, I even like the life I lead - I just refrain from entertaining any emotions.
If the Lord were emotional, surely He would have been frustrated with us Jews and with the Covenant that He has entered with us. I hope and pray that in some ironical way, He is entertained. It is for Jesus himself that I owe this insight. So would you like me to tell you about Jesus? my dear Isaac. A nice Jew like you. Would you care to hear about the Passion of Jesus? The true, insider story this time?"
That's how the story started for me, that Friday afternoon just outside the Lions' Gate in Jerusalem. With the Moslems streaming out from the Temple Mount, inflamed with some anti-Israeli propaganda passed out as a religious sermon. The old man was with his donkey at the gate and he winked at me. So we went to among the tombs under the Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount and set as he started telling me his stories. Stories that probably changed my life. Would you like to know them too? Proceed at your own peril, dear reader. For history will never seem the same for you again.
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