The candle flickered as several rapid light taps rattled the doorpost of the small dwelling. It was late evening just before the household was about to retire. The entryway was quickly parted and in hobbled a worried bundled up friend. His name was Oded and though he was always welcomed, the owner of the domicile thought he would have much preferred a quiet evening to himself. He put on his happy face and cheerfully let his friend in. However, before pleasantries could be exchanged Oded hissed in hushed tones as if the entire Roman garrison might be listening in to the conversations of this humble nondescript shack in the least threatening part of the massive empire:
“Is it true then?”
Joseph gave a wry smile, and since he was still in a meditative mood decided to give his best answer to his fellow laborer. In a loud voice, so that the neighbors could hear, he bellowed:
“Ah my good friend, What is truth? It is such a strong word with so many connotations. What two men may agree upon as being true might actually mean completely different things to the parties when they bow, shake hands and depart. Why if you are referring to this doorway, I assure you it could fall down at any point and in fact has come down upon us poor inhabitants several times, twice in the same day sometimes. But I’m afraid it is still a doorway. Whether or not it be a good one is not relevant to the truth. But I suppose you are speaking of some other truth you wish to inquire about?”
“You are always making light of important matters Joseph! I mean – “, and then lowering his voice back to the hiss he commenced his inquisition, “that you are to remarry?!”
“That! Oh Yes, I had almost forgotten about that. Yes, I suppose I soon shall be. Quite soon in fact! It has all happened so quickly and given the circumstances I hope you do pardon me for not letting you know sooner. I regret that you found out about it by some other means. Have you come to give your old friend a pre-wedding gift?
“Again, making light of important matters. God have mercy upon you, but no Joseph, quite the contrary, this wedding should not be. Her family barely espouses our traditions. I’ve seen many sabbath breaking activities. Dancing, sometimes God forbid, working on things which ought be done during the week. No Joseph a man as honorable as you are in Nazareth should not debase yourself. This marriage will not do.”
As Oded continued in this fashion, Joseph turned his thoughts toward the first time he met his future bride. She was indeed striking but not in the traditional beauty that others had associated with his diseased wife Sarah. It was more the determination and fierce independence she displayed. He had been looking for workers to help,with the contract he had received and saw her among the men. She was dressed as a man and had fooled most but Joseph had recognized her piercing eyes
“You there” he motioned to her. “And what skills do you have that can help the tetrarch build the great city of Tiberious?”
“Stone is my trade” she answered in a gruff voice.
“Have you any samples of your work?”
“As it is written, the stone that was rejected has become the cornerstone. I am as good as any man”
“That may be so girl, but I can not hire you.”
Her eyes fixed on his. Rage filled within them. She stood abruptly, resolute with dignity and without a word walked out toward the fields. Normally he would have laughed to see such a display of folly but the girl carried herself unlike any he had ever seen. As if she were some other time from a far away past and would never fit in whatever role she was supposed to fulfill.
He stood, struck dumb for a moment. Soon, after she had gone off a little further in the distance, he called his crew and set off for the weeks work in Tiberius.