“Everything happens for a reason” said Jonah, as he crouched down and looked on the bloody beaten man. “Today it is you down here on the ground and me taking your money, but tomorrow who knows?”
Jonah and two other thieves, Enoch and Omri, had been waiting in the hills on the road leading up from Jericho to Jerusalem. They mostly saw groups of merchants and soldiers marching to the capital for the feast day, but Jonah knew that in time an easier target would soon walk alone up these roads and he and his fellow conspirators would find a target they could take alone.
Who they found was a Galilean day laborer who they suspected was carrying something valuable by the way he held his hands under his robe. Jonah, who deemed himself somewhat of a philosopher by his former years in the Greek gymnasium, admonished the others: “Into the mountain of the wolves comes this lost sheep, and today, we are the wolves.” As the road was quite empty before noon, they pounced with greed and and ambushed the unsuspecting Galilean, who struggled valiantly but was far outmatched. Omri alone might have weighed more than his other two conspirators combined easily detained the man, stripped through his belongings and were quickly off leaving the man for dead.
Omri, the biggest and youngest, had never robbed a man in such a brutal display. While he was used to skirmishes, it was usually he who was outnumbered, but the fight was usually fair. This troubled him as the adrenaline still ran through his body.
The three thieves reached a cave far off the main road and examined the plunder. It wasn’t much. The man was not well off, but it was still satisfactory. Jonah, quipped eloquently, “To each man his pay, all is vanity under the sun. Today we were the hunters, tomorrow the hunted”. The others nodded solemnly. It was enough for a weeks pay for each of them and for the next few days they could lay low. The company departed. Each would take a separate path back to Samaria. Enoch left first going right, and Jonah went next going left. The big man, Omri, would go from behind a little later.
The sun came up to full midday as Omri sat waiting in the cave. He never thought of himself a violent man. In fact he thought of himself as quite an honest upstanding Samarian. Jonah had approached him for a job and Omri knew it would involve taking money from a Jew. Omri didn’t really have much experience with Jews other than that they despised his people. But for whatever reason he was under the impression they would be robbing from a rich man, one who would never miss the money. He realized the peasant that they had robbed was not wealthy at all. The man’s clothes were common, his hands were worn, and it was clear he had seen much tribulation in his day.
Omri grew curious how the Galilean was doing. They had roughed him up a quite a bit. Omri had held him while the others had done most of the beating. It surprised Omri how his companions were capable of such lust and violence when only a few minutes before they were joking civilly from their hideout. He decided to go back and take a look. He approached the scene of violence and saw that the man was still lying on the road. At this time of day there was a lot more traffic. As he looked on hidden he was surprised that no one seemed to stop for the man. In fact he even saw fellow countryman walk on. Perhaps this was a common occurrence in this part of the land?
He saw a priest walk by and drop a few coins to the wounded man. “Won’t do much good, he is as good as dead” said his fellow travelers. “Well, every little bit helps. A little good is better than no good at all. May God bless you” he said as he walked along.
Omri stayed there for several more hours, with each minute becoming more agitated that no one offered to help the man. “Is this a world I should like to live in? Where a person that can be so easily helped is ignored by all who pass by? What could be more important?” Certainly if this were in Samaria someone would offer to help. These Jews seemed to have no regard for human life. Omri was certain that if he were waking from Homesh to Shechem and found a wounded stranger, of course he would help him. Angry, he walked openly on the road past the Galilean and back down toward Galilee.
In the mid afternoon after he had had a good drink at the inn he could not think of anything else but the Galilean. What would become of him? Surely he must have a family. Who would care for them? All these thoughts came to him as they usually do to a man when he finds his actions are not in line with the way he esteems himself to be. Guilt, a reckoning and then a resolve. Surely the Galilean wouldn’t recognize him. Omri was sure of that. He was in a robe and came grime behind. The man never saw him coming. The blows from Enoch and Jonah were too swift. A perfect ambush.
As the sun began to set Omri approached the man lain in the dust. He stopped over closer and saw the man really was wounded.
“Hey”, said Omri.
“Hey”, the man weakly replied. Blood dried on his face.
“You look like you could use some help”.
“Not from a Samarian” the man wounded man defied.
“Well it doesn’t look like you have a lot of options. The sun is going down and I can tell you it only gets worse out here. Come here I’ll put you on my donkey and take you back to Jericho.” Omri didn’t give the man a chance to resist, picked him up and put him on the donkey and walked back down the road.
“What is a Samarian doing down here?” Said the man coughing up blood.
“Business. Probably the same reason a Galilean comes here.”
The man was quiet. Then spoke: “I have no money to pay you. I have nothing. You might as well have left me in the road. Are you going to leave me in the streets of Jericho? They are not much safer.”
The Samarian didn’t respond. He just kept walking. Curious onlookers looked at the beaten man and his unlikely younger companion as they walked through the village. They arrived at the inn where the Samarian had been that afternoon and Omri asked for a bed for the Galilean, paid for it and was about to leave, but turned to the beaten man.
“I’ll be back in a few days. Recover here, you’ve been badly hurt. I know you have no money. I’ll take care of payment” he said loud enough so as the inn keeper could hear him.
“Thank you”, said the wounded man. “I am very grateful for your kindness. What is your name?”
Omri, looked a bit away, then back and said: ” I’m just a Good Samaritan. That is all.”
“Well”, said the Galilean, “I am Joseph of Nazareth, son of Heli, and I thank you for this kind deed. I shall never forget it.”