THE CHILDHOOD OF JESUS
THE GOSPEL OF JAMES

Biographical Gospel of the Lord

- Chapter 29 -
A Stranger Star O'er Bethlehem


 
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HE NOON-HOUR CAME, but this time the captain failed to arrive. And Joseph counted the moments in worried expectation, but the captain failed to appear.
 
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Thereupon Joseph turned to the Lord and pleaded, 'My Lord and my God, I beg You not to let me be tormented so much in my soul - see, I am old and fairly weak in all my joints.
 
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Therefore strengthen me by letting me know what to do, so I shall not come to shame before all the sons of Israel!'
 
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When Joseph had thus prayed, behold, there came the captain almost out of breath and said to Joseph,
 
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'Man in my highest esteem! I have just returned from a march which I made with an entire legion nearly a third of the way to Jerusalem to detect something of the Persians,
 
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and have placed spies in many places, but up to now I could discover nothing. Now just be calm, for when they do come, they must encounter the sentries I have posted.
 
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Then they shall not have an easy time in breaking through anywhere and in arriving here before I have not cross-examined them and tested their intentions. Therefore I am leaving again at once and shall increase the sentries - in the evening I shall be with you!'
 
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The captain now hastened away again, and Joseph praised God and said to his sons, 'Now set the food on the table, and you, Salome, ask Mary if she wants to eat at the table with us, or whether we shall bring the food to her couch?'
 
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Here Mary with the Baby came out of her tent in a happy mood and said, 'Since I am strong enough, I will eat with you at the table - only bring the little crib here for the Baby!'
 
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Joseph was full of joy at this and put the best morsels in front of Mary, and they praised the Lord God and ate and drank.
 
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Now they had just finished eating, when behold, a loud commotion suddenly arose in front of the cave. At this Joseph sent Joel to see what was going on.
 
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And when Joel looked out of the door (for the cave was timbered at the exit), he saw a whole caravan of Persians with packed camels and reported in a frightened voice,
 
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'Father Joseph, in heaven's name, we are lost! Just look, the notorious Persians are here with many camels and a great number of attendants!
 
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They are putting up their tents and are encamping in a wide circle sealing off our cave, and three leaders decorated with gold, silver and precious stones are unpacking golden bags and show signs of wanting to enter the cave!'
 
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This report almost robbed Joseph of his power of speech. With great effort he managed to bring out the words, 'Lord, be gracious to me a poor sinner! Yes, now we are lost!' - And Mary took the Baby, hurried into her tent with Him and cried out, 'Only when I am dead will you tear Him away from me!' -
 
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Then Joseph, led by his sons, went over to the door and stealthily looked out to see what the Persians were doing.
 
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But when he saw the great caravan and the erected tents he was doubly afraid in his heart and began to plead fervently with the Lord to help him out of such great distress, if only this once.
 
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While he was thus pleading, behold, there arrived the captain in full martial armor, led by a thousand warriors, and posted warriors at both sides of the cave,
 
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then went over and asked the three Magi why they had come and how - by him thus fully unnoticed - they had arrived at this place.
 
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And the three answered the captain in one voice: 'Consider us anything but enemies, for you can see that we are unarmed, nor do we carry concealed weapons with us!
 
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For we are astronomers from Persia, and we have an old prophecy in which it is written that in this time a King of Kings will be born to the Jews, and His birth will be manifest by a star;
 
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and that those who see the star should undertake a journey and go where the mighty star will lead them, for they will find the Savior of the world where the star will take its stand!
 
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And behold, above this stable stands the star, surely visible to everyone even in the full of day! The same was our guide to this place where it stood still above this stable, and we without any hindrance safely reached the spot where the wonder of wonders is present alive, a new-born Child, a King of Kings, a Lord of Lords from eternity!
 
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The Same we must see, worship and bring Him the greatest homage! So do not in any event want to bar our way, for surely no evil star has led us hither!'
 
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At this the captain looked for the star and was greatly surprised thereat, for it not only stood quite low, but its light was nearly as strong as the natural light of the sun.
 
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When the captain had ascertained all this he said to the three, 'Good, I have now become convinced from your words and by the star that you have come here with good intentions, but I just cannot see what you first had to do in Jerusalem with Herod! Did the star also show you the way there?
 
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Why did your marvelous guide not lead you here directly, since after all the place of your destination is here and not Jerusalem? - About that I still demand an answer from you, or you will not get into the cave!'
 
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The three replied, 'The great God will know that! Surely it must be part of His plan, for none of us had ever even considered going anywhere near Jerusalem!
 
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And you can altogether believe us - we were not at all pleased with the people in Jerusalem, and least of all with the sovereign Herod! But since we were already there and the attention of the whole city was directed at us, we just had to show what our intention was.
 
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The priests gave us information through the sovereign, who asked us to bring him tidings about the new King, so he might also come and bring Him his homage.'
 
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And the captain said, 'That you will never do, for I know the intention of this sovereign! Rather than that you will remain here as hostages! - I am now going inside and will confer with the father of the Child about you.'