If you have purchased this document you are about to embark on one of the most unlikely pilgrimages, I believe, you have ever traveled. I did not start out with a desire to publish a personal account for public consumption. Indeed, I was on a private mission. My only intent was to record in minute detail for the great high priest the journeys, words, and deeds of one Yeshua, a Galilean of Nazareth.
I began with disgust and something resembling murderous intent toward the man. Somewhere along the way my hatred became mingled with a morbid fascination of the Imposter. I grew to be consumed, yea even addicted, to trailing him---to insuring that he would not bring more affliction down on Jewish heads.
My goal was indeed reached when the Roman procurator sentenced Yeshua to death as a common peasant outlaw. I had fulfilled the final objective of Joseph Caiaphas.
But there is more. I wish you to follow this story to its ultimate conclusion. I have added much extra detail, that even interested Gentiles may understand my account. I believe you will find this story one of the most strange and remarkable you have ever read.
-Baruch of Jerusalem, 31 A.D.
Baruch of Jerusalem
28th of Kislev, 26 A.D.
I received word this morning that Joseph Caiaphas wished to see me. It was with a mixture of wonder and vague apprehension that I followed the messenger to the palace of the high priest. Caiaphas had never shown particular interest in me before, though I always believed I could be of invaluable service to him.
When I appeared before him, the man spent no time in greetings or pleasantries. He stared at me with those black coals for eyes and asked, "Have you heard of the Nazarene?"
I replied that I had heard a few reports about a peasant in Galilee who has supposedly done a miracle or two. There was a story about wine at a wedding...
Caiaphas waved his hand brusquely. "Any fool magician can pretend to conjure wine from water. But the common people are saying the man was blessed by the Baptist as one greater than he. Crowds are beginning to grow. We cannot afford another wild one like Judas, son of Ezekias, or some fool teacher claiming messiahship.1 We will only lose face with the Romans."
I began to speak but he waved me silent.
"Rome has ruled us for ninety years and shows no sign of weakening. During the seven decades just past, well over one hundred and fifty thousand of our people have been slaughtered in uprisings. The two thousand Jews crucified by Romans only three decades past still horrifies the nation. The Sanhedrin must see that no more multitudes are slaughtered in hopeless rebellions."
His hard gaze made me distinctly uncomfortable. "Baruch, you have been suggested as a trustworthy man to follow the Galilean and report his activities. I wish to know of his confidantes, his teachings, his supposed miraculous signs, his military maneuverings, any seditious moves. You and whatever comrades may accompany you must be both aggressive and sly to discern what is occurring behind the scenes. You will perform our messianic test---quiet observation, aggressive investigation and, finally, necessary prosecution. Do you think you are capable of this?"
I began to state reasons why I was a superior choice, but Caiaphas waved me silent. "Go prepare for your mission," he said. "If you fail I will replace you with no misgivings."
I knew I could not fail. I also understood why Caiaphas was worried. We Jews have experienced far more than our share of persecution at the hands of foreigners. We do not need another empty-headed revolutionary claiming to be messiah and leading peasants to their death.
Slavery in Egypt left our people hopeless and broken. Then we were captured and brutalized by both Assyria and Babylonia. Then the Syrian, Antiochus, slaughtered more hordes, tried to destroy both our sacred books and our religion, dedicated our temple to Zeus and desecrated our holy altar. Now the Romans reign over us and have appointed the cruel Idumaean, Herod, to the throne of David. Except for a brief golden age, our history reads like a slave odyssey.
Yes, I will follow this Nazarene wanderer. I will hound him. I will examine him. I will find out exactly what the man is about.