Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Crime and Punishment (not about the book) (07/21/11)
TITLE: Who Shall Die?
By Kathleen Langridge
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“Helena, I’ve told you, Samuel is not to be admitted to this house, when your Master is away,” Joanna said, turning back to her mirror, she finished brushing her hair.
“That is too bad, Joanna. You know Phillip wants me to look after all his household when he is away, which includes you, his beloved wife,” said Samuel, smiling from the doorway.
“Helena, leave us.”
“Samuel, please, I’ve asked you not to carry this affair any further. I am afraid Phillip has enemies on the council. If we are caught, we would both be stoned, and his business would be ruined by the shame.”
As Samuel captured Joanna in his arms he said, “I will not be caught.” He tore her gown away, lowering her to the bed.
Bursting through the door moments later, two teachers of the law accompanied by five Pharisees, rushed toward the bed. Joanna screamed and reached for the silk sheets to cover herself. Two of the Pharisees grabbed Samuel, dragging him from the room.
“Put your robe on, adulteress!” shouted one of the Pharisees, throwing Joanna’s torn robe at her. The men then gathered at the door turning their back as Joanna tried to cover herself with the beautiful robe now tattered by Samuel’s passion. Her tears flowed, she could not control them, or the trembling of her body, as two of the Pharisees pulled her wrists and pushed her through the door.
Reaching the outer courtyard, Joanna saw Helena holding the door, again though her head was bowed, a smug smile played at her lips. Where was Samuel, why wasn’t he being taken with her, who would be in the temple courts to see her shame? She knew there was nothing to be gained in asking any questions, or even speaking. Her fate was set she would die, today. Oh Phillip, why do you have to leave me to pursue business, so often? Why did you leave me in care of Samuel who pursued me, without ceasing?
The Pharisees and teachers pushed Joanna into the courts where a teacher named Jesus, was speaking. There she stood with as much dignity as she could embrace, the sin of adultery spoken over her, her once lovely robe and loose hair, confirming the sentence.
In the midst of her fear and shame Joanna realized, this wasn’t about her. She heard one of the teacher’s of the law standing behind her say, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the law Moses, commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
It was a trap. Even Joanna knew, the law commanded both the man and the woman to be stoned. She looked at this one called, Jesus. He didn’t respond to the question. He bent down from where he sat and wrote with his finger in the sand of the courtyard.
The Pharisees and the teachers kept firing questions at him, pushing for a response. Finally Jesus sat up and looking at them said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone, at her.” He then bent down, writing again in the sand.
Slowly, one by one the accusers left, the oldest first until Joanna stood alone in front of Jesus. Now it was just the two of them, everyone had gone. Joanna felt her heart begin to slow. He looked up and sat back in his chair. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
Somehow Joanna found her voice and with head bowed she said, “No one, sir.” She looked up, expecting the final blow.
“Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your sin.”
Before turning away, Joanna looked into the face of this teacher they called Jesus. She drew in her breath, as she saw a reality of love and compassion offered with powerful righteousness, which made her hunger to know more.
Turning away she realized someone had placed a large shawl over her shoulders, she pulled it around her hiding her loose hair, her torn robe, and strode freely toward home.
Arriving home, Joanna wasn’t surprised to find Helena arrayed in one of her finest robes. “Helena, get your own shawl and help me change. Hurry, I want to hear more of this Jesus, who is teaching in the temple. You need to hear him too.”
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