Tags: Historical fiction
, Christian fiction
, Jesus Christ
, Classic fiction
, life of Jesus
, life of Jesus Christ
, Frank Slaughter
, ministry of Jesus
, christian fiction series
, Mary Magdalene
own son, Antipater, was conspiring against him, Herod seemed to linger on only to receive the permission he had requested of the Emperor Augustus to execute his own son. This given and the sentence promptly carried out, the king lived only five days more. Buried in splendor in the castle of Herodeion, whose grim bulwarks Joseph had seen on the day when he and Mary had hurried to Bethlehem and again on their flight into Egypt, Herod ended a reign of thirty-seven of the bloodiest, yet, strangely enough, the most prosperous, years Israel had ever experienced.
By Herod’s will, Archelaus, son of Malthace, a Samaritan woman, was made ruler of Judea. Antipas, a younger brother to Archelaus and also called Herod, was given the governorship of Galilee and Peraea with the title of tetrarch, a sort of lesser king. Philip, son of Cleopatra of Jerusalem, was made tetrarch of that part of Herod’s kingdom lying northeast of the River Jordan. Not one of Herod’s sons inherited the title, King of the Jews.
Archelaus quickly proved himself another Herod in cruelty. Embarking upon a reign of terror, he sold the office of high priest to the highest bidder and sought to destroy all who dared resist him. His reign, though short, was turbulent and violent, ending finally in removal from office, trial before the emperor in Rome, and banishment to Vienne in Gaul. Judea was never again to know a king, for Rome now appointed procurators, civil servants who were responsible directly to the emperor.
To Joseph, living quietly with Mary and Jesus on the banks of the Nile in Egypt, the angel of the Lord came once again in a dream with the command that he should return now to Israel. Echoes of the turbulence which had kept the district of Judea a virtual battleground since their escape had come even to Egypt, so Joseph chose to return to Nazareth rather than go to the City of David. And since he desired no contact with the reign of terror Archelaus was carrying out in Judea, he kept to the westward and came into Galilee from that direction.
Traveling as did thousands of wayfarers each year along the Way of the Sea, the great caravan route between Damascus and the cities of Egypt and one of the oldest thoroughfares in the world, Joseph and his family journeyed by way of Gaza, Ascalon, Jamnia, and Lydda, leaving Jerusalem well to the east. From Lydda, they went by way of Antipatris, keeping largely to the border between the Plain of Sharon and hilly Samaria, which was under the dominion of Archelaus. Following the eastern border of the Plain of Sharon and leaving the Roman capital of Caesarea on the seacoast to the west, they turned northeastward then toward Nazareth in the hills of southern Galilee.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Upper Galilee, a land of mountains, caves, and passes, was a region of vast panoramas, crisp air, and rugged people. This same ruggedness produced many who fought against authority under the leadership of men who rose now and then to rebel against the yoke of Rome and the Herods. Judas the Gaulonite had come from this region and because of him many hundreds of Jews had been crucified before the government center of Sepphoris when he led a rebellion against Roman rule. Thus the dwellers in southern Galilee, the most populous and orderly portion of the land, distrusted northerners and gave them a wide berth whenever possible.
South of Lake Huleh the Way of the Sea crossed the turbulent Jordan by way of the Jisr Benat Yakub , the “bridge of Jacob’s daughters.” Icy cold and bluish green in color, the river hurried on to plunge into the Sea of Galilee. Along the river banks grew oleanders with beautiful white and pink blossoms and the tall, fanlike papyrus from which for thousands of years Egyptians had made long rolls for writing upon. Also growing there was the balsam whose nutlike fruit contained an oil much prized for making the famous “Balm of