As the mysterious stranger walked through the shop door and out into the dusty street, Barabbas began to think. He thought as he closed up shop and got ready to go home. He thought all the way up the street to his ordinary looking home. He thought, perhaps it would be possible. “If only we could all band together--.” That was what the stranger had said, wasn’t it? But, how? How could it happen? If only---
Should he tell his wife, or not? She’d certainly be against the whole idea. She greatly resented the fact that her father had been brutally executed for plotting against the life of Herod, the great. She knows things are bad, but she’ll just say, “We might as well grin ‘n’ bear it,” or “We’ll get along somehow.” They had gotten along so far. But things are getting worse. Who knows if another insurrection might not succeed? If enough people could be gathered together to fight--- but that was a big "if".
Well, too late now for any further mental deliberation. The ‘little tigers’ had spied him coming and were running out to meet him as usual. Big and boisterous, short and stocky, petite and ladylike, all three of them descended upon him at once, pulling and screaming.
“Daddy, you’re home!”
“Peace yourselves, you little bunches o’ joy!” He said, reaching out his big brawny arms to enfold them.
As they approached the doorstep, she appeared: a tall, thin, golden haired vision of beauty. Her apron was still on, as she stepped decisively up to her huge husband, smiling radiantly. “Barabbas! You’re home late today!”
“But not by much, Deborah dear. An important customer came in just as I was closing.”
“Well, come here you big brute and let me feast my eyes upon y’!”
But it wasn’t only their eyes that met. “Mmm, mmm!”
“Wow! Momma’s kissin’ Daddy!”
“Mmm!” As much as he enjoyed her kisses, his stomach told him it was time to think about supper. “Alright, alright! Enough of this for now! I’m tired ‘n’ starved half to death!”
“Supper’ll be ready in just a minute, dear. Come on, sit down and wash your feet. Th’ water’s already poured.”
“Can I help y’, Daddy? Can I?”
They tugged and pulled at him from all sides.
“I want t’ help, Daddy.”
“Now, Caleb, you helped me yesterday. It’s Jason’s turn.”
Alright. Then, I’ll get y’r slippers.”
“I wanna get Daddy’s slippers!”
“No! I asked first!”
“Now, you kids stop your bickerin’! I’ll get my own confounded slippers!”
“I heard that, Barabbas! You know you shouldn’t talk like that, especially in front o' th’ children!
“Now, Deborah! All I said was I’d get my own confoun---”
“But you didn’t have t’ say ‘confounded’!”
“Oh, alright, then! I’ll get my own slippers! Confound it!”
“Barabbas! When will you learn? Why, I’ll bet you don’t talk like that to your customers. Just because you’re home, you think you can----”
“My foot, Deborah! You make such a fuss over one little word! Tend to th’ supper! I’m starved!” The sound of Barabbas’ heavy tread upon the bare floor was heard as he walked deliberately to the bedroom. Then there was a bang, as he flung the door open. Entering, he grabbed a pair of rough leather slippers and returned to his chair to sit for the washing of the feet by eldest son, Jason.
When the feet were washed and dried, Jason slipped the sippers on his father’s feet and turned to go.
“Hey, where do you think you’re going'? Aren’t you forgetting something? You know emptying th’ pan is part of the job."
“Sorry, Daddy, I forgot.” He picked up the pan and left.
Barabbas sat and waited. The joy of being home after a hard day’s work had taken his mind away from the mysterious stranger and his exciting challenge. He was really hungry and the aroma of boiled mutton wafting through the room made it all the worse. What could be taking her so long in the kitchen? But just then, he heard again the patter of tiny feet.
“Daddy, supper’s ready.”
“Well, it’s about time! I’m half starved to death!”
“Me too, Daddy!”
“Now, what could you have done to get so starved?” He asked, putting his arm around his little daughter as they walked toward the kitchen table.
“I helped Momma clean th’ house.”
"That's my girl! We’ll have to see what can be done about that,” he whispered.
As they took their seats, he perused the feast before him. “Ah, that beans ‘n’ mutton sure smells good!"
It was one of the best meals he’d had in a long while. After supper and the reading of the Torah, they got the children ready for bed. Then, they got ready for bed themselves. Thus, the night went by without Barabbas telling his wife about the stranger’s strange visit. No need. He could discuss it with her tomorrow, if she was in a better mood, or maybe next week, or next month, or maybe never.
Sleep was long in co ming that night. What was it that the stranger had said? “If only we could all band together---.” But, no! It was utterly impossible.
He glanced at his sweet wife, sleeping so peacefully at his side. What did she really know of all this anyway? It wasn’t her grandfather whom they crucified for no reason. She didn’t even keep up with all the raises in taxes. As long as they managed to get by she was happy. But, if things kept up, they might not be getting by for long. If only something could be done!
Then, his mind turned to the stories of the holy scripture: stories like that of Gideon, who defeated the whole Midianite army with only three hundred men; of Samson, who slew a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass; of Joshua and the walls of Jericho; and of Jehoshaphat, who defeated the enemy through song.
The next thing he knew, the golden rays of the morning sun came streaming through his window. He awakened with a curiously combined feeling of despair and hope.
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