Woman, where are your accusers?
by beatrice ofwona
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Suddenly the door burst open and a pack of angry men rushed into my house. In the dimly lit room I could make out their excited, howling faces. Cowed, I sank deeper into the sheets as my partner instinctively jumped up and hid further into the shadows. The sweaty smell of their bodies hit my nostrils at just about the time that they started raining blows on me. I could feel tens of hands tearing at me as the kicks also found and connected with my helpless body. Amidst all the confusion and with my continued screaming, I realized that my partner was either forgotten or forgiven because they did not give him the slightest attention as they continued working on me; they were obviously baying for my blood. A pair of hands yanked at my hair with such force that I thought I was surely going to pass out. As this excruciating punishment continued, I said a silent prayer and prepared myself for death because I knew what the penalty for adultery according to the law of Moses was. Mercifully, the beating stopped as someone hurled me to my feet, shoved a loosely fitting dress at me and roughly pushed me to the door. I knew it was time. I was going to be stoned to death.
The crowd grew larger and more frenzied as I was half dragged, half carried through the streets. My body hurt from the pain that had been inflicted on me and which was now made worse by the sandy ground that scrabbed me raw. The dress hang loosely on me, torn and dirty. My throat was dry and I felt the need for a drink but I knew there was no mercy here. My eyes were swollen from weeping and silent sobs wracked my body as I thought of my fate. My life flashed before me as I thought of what I could have done differently in my years of living. As if from miles away, alternatives, solutions and options passed through my thoughts and I now saw that I could have been someone else; if only I had tried harder. The path I had however chosen was now going to be the death of me.
I felt his presence long before I saw him. He sat still as if in earnest prayer, unconcerned about the noise around him. From him emanated such serenity and peace that as soon as I was thrown at his feet, I knew that my judge was a just man. In my dazed state, bleeding, helpless and sorrowful, my eyes connected with his and for the first time in my life, I knew love. I felt a profound, unconditional regard for my welfare and though I had hitherto been an object to be beaten up, used, abused, an outcast and a necessary evil to the whims of men that I had served in the society, I realized that I had looked for love in all the wrong places. Who could have guessed that I could find it in the valley of the shadow of my death?
A clarity of mind seized me and I became acutely aware of my sins but I did not feel condemned as I looked into the eyes of the kind Jewish Rabbi. Strangely, I felt deeply remorseful as if I had somehow let him down. This I did not understand so I shut my eyes to block out this disturbingly familiar yet, alien face.
They smugly told him that I had been caught committing adultery and that I had to be stoned to death according to the Law of Moses. I listened intently and half opened my eyes in dreaded anticipation for the frightful verdict. I knew what to expect and had therefore made my peace with the world. I knew the law, I knew I was guilty and I knew that I therefore had to die.
The Rabbi did not answer them, instead he bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. Then he straightened up and asked that anyone who had not sinned to stone me. The men started moving away, first one and then another and soon none of them was left.
The Rabbi raised his ethereally kind eyes my way and asked me, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”.
“No one Sir”, I replied.
“Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin”, he said.
As I struggled to my feet, torn, mangled and bruised but resurged, I felt a renewal, a restoration and a rebuilding in myself and knew that my life was changed forever. I had been forgiven and I was saved from bondage and sin. Instinctively, I also knew that this was the much talked-about Christ who had finally helped me make my peace with God. I was saved!
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