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Signs and Wonders: Read an Excerpt
The snap of fresh air that hit Lamech as he stepped out of the inn reminded him that he must hastily exit the village. He sought out Jurja at their agreed meeting place. Jurja was now expecting to head back into the inn and show people the samples of the robe, but Lamech grabbed his arm and said to him, "We must go back to the farm, and quickly."
Something must have gone wrong—maybe badly wrong. Lamech and Jurja's fast pace soon took them out of the village and on to the rutted dirt lane that led to the farm. They were in utter darkness, and Lamech had quickly put on his cloak and gloves in defense against the brittle cold that suggested winter was soon to conquer autumn. Lamech had no idea where the farm was—there were no lights anywhere in the distance, but Jurja had remembered a sequence of four trees that marked the dirt path to the farm, and they cautiously made their way back to the barn.
There was a small stove with dried wood that allowed them some bit of heat, but only after Jurja labored to strike a flint to the tinder. Neither was hungry. Lamech would only say that his appearance was successful—perhaps too successful—and they would talk more tomorrow about what to do. He then retired to the loft, advising Jurja to grab whatever warmth he could from the fire before retiring. Jurja took this advice, but then determined to sleep in the hay with the animals, as the stench of urine permeated the entire barn. Whatever had happened, it was obvious Lamech was preparing to reappear as Jehoshua.
The next morning as they ate a small breakfast Lamech told Jurja that their plan had been more than successful; everyone in that room had been quickly convinced he was Jehoshua. It would probably be necessary for him to make but one appearance in each town or village in order to have everyone talking about Jehoshua. "But let's be certain, Jurja. You should travel to Beth-Horn this morning and see if news has spread about my appearance. Bring some samples with you. I'll wait here and let's meet again around mid-day."
The hours went by slowly. Both of Lamech's hands throbbed regularly now, but he knew he could not abandon his self torture. It was the one thing that provided witnesses with absolute conviction that Jehoshua had come back from the dead. At times he thought to himself he should abandon the whole enterprise, and that no amount of money was worth whatever damage he was doing to his hands. But then he thought of the cries of the people who believed in him, and the authority his words took on when he promised them a healing, or forgave them whatever crimes they had committed. He would try this one more time.
Jurja came back later than expected. "I am sorry Master for the delay. I had to get more food, and many people wanted to talk to me when they heard I had seen you on the road. Everyone is talking about the resurrection, and they really didn't want to talk about buying a portion of the robe. Those who did could only pay two denari—these are poor people in these villages. Also, I suspect they thought to themselves, 'why should I buy a portion of his clothing, when the real Jehoshua is going to come back and perform miracles.' The witnesses said you promised them you would return."
Lamech admitted this was correct. "Let us move on then to Timna. It is a bigger town and not everyone will have heard about the events last night." Lamech and Jurja packed up their belongings and headed out on the road. The distances to neighboring towns and villages in this area were relatively short, and they would be able to reach Timna by nightfall. It was now imperative that Lamech stay cloaked and hooded whenever he met anyone on the road. There were few travelers at first but carts and other walkers began to appear as they neared the town. They began to travel off to the side of the road, and eventually were forced to hide in a copse of trees. Lamech instructed Jurja to seek out lodging for the night and report back to him when it was safe for him to travel.