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The Lepers and the Siege

The following story is taken from Telling It Simply. It happened in the times of the Kings and Elisha is the prophet of God to the people.

The main Syrian army came though, led by Benhadad, the king, himself  They surrounded Samaria and began to starve the people out.  It got to the point that food was so expensive that an ass’s head was sold for eighty pieces of silver and they were even buying dove dung to eat.

The final crunch came when the king was walking round the city walls in despair.  One of his subjects, a woman, called out to him.  Her tale of woe was horrific.

“This woman said to me, we will eat your son today and mine tomorrow.  So we boiled mine and ate him and now she has hidden her son.”

The king was devastated.  He tore his robes and the people could all see that he was wearing sackcloth next to his skin.  And he blamed Elisha.  

“God do the same to me if I have not beheaded Elisha by this time tomorrow!” he declared.

Elisha was in the city in a house with the elders.  

“That murdering monarch wants to take off my head,” he remarked.  “When his messenger comes to summon me, hang on to him.  His master will be right behind him.”

He was.  The king raged at Elisha, “This evil is from God!  Why should I wait any longer?”

“God says, it will soon all be over,” Elisha replied.  “About this time tomorrow, a measure of fine flour or two measures of barley will each be had for just one shekel in the gate of Samaria.”

“Yeah right!” scoffed the lord who, by virtue of his highest rank, gave his arm to the king as he walked.  “Just as likely that God would make windows in heaven!”

Elisha eyed him coldly.  “You will see it happen – but you will not eat a mouthful.”

Now it happened that there were four lepers living in the gate of Samaria.  They had moved into the protection of the city walls because of the siege but could not live in the community.  They were talking amongst themselves.

“Why are we sitting here until we die?” they asked each other.  “If we go into the city we will die.  If we stay sitting here we will die.  And if we go out to the Syrians, all they can do to us is kill us.  Or feed us.”

They came to the conclusion that their best option had Syrians in it.  So off they went to the invading army camp in the last of the evening light.

To their amazement, the camp was silent and still.  The horses and asses were tethered but the tents were all empty of soldiers.  And the first tent they came across had food in it.  The lepers ate and drank.  Then they started gathering up silver and gold items and stashing them for later.

“This isn’t right,” one of them said as they scurried gleefully about in the dark.  “This is a day of good news for the whole city not just us.  And anyway, if we wait until morning, we shall be blamed for sure for not telling everyone.”

They went back to the city gate and told the porter what they had found.  He went to the king.

“It’s a trap,” said the king at once.  “They want to lure us out and then ambush us.”

He sent out a scouting party using a couple of the last remaining horses.  What they found was amazing.  The Syrian soldiers had evidently fled in haste, for the way was littered with clothes and pots they had dropped in their panic stricken run.

The news spread like wildfire through the city and all the people rushed to get out of the city and find food.  The high ranking courtier who had scoffed at Elisha’s word from God, was on gate duty and he saw the stampede of starving people surging towards him.  There was food and to spare outside in the abandoned camp but he never got to eat a mouthful because the stampeding mob mowed him down and trampled him underfoot.  He died right there.

And, just as Elisha had prophesied, one measure of fine flour and two of barley were on sale in the gate of Samaria that very day, just one shekel each.

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Telling It Simply

These are the stories as they appear in the Table of Contents in Telling It Simply. Some will be familiar to you, others possibly not. Together they make up the entire story of how God shows Himself to us.

TELLING IT SIMPLY – TABLE OF CONTENTS

GENESIS 14

Creation Week 14

Adam and Eve and The Fall of Man 15

Cain and Abel … and Seth 17

The Sons of God 17

Noah’s Ark 18

The First Rainbow 19

Noah Gets Drunk 19

The Tower of Babel 20

Abram – the beginning 20

The Egypt Incident 21

Sodom and Gomorrah 1 21

Lot in Trouble 22

The Covenant with Abram 23

Hassle with Hagar 23

Abraham, Sarah and Circumcision 24

Sodom and Gomorrah 2 24

Abraham and Abimelech 26

Isaac is born and Ishmael goes 27

Isaac the sacrifice 27

One funeral … 28

… and a wedding 29

Death of Abraham 30

Jacob, Esau and the Red Pottage 30

The War of the Wells 31

Jacob and Esau 32

Jacob’s Ladder 34

Jacob and the Well 35

Jacob and Laban 35

Jacob and his Two Wives 36

Jacob, Laban and the Wages Question 37

The Sinew that Shrank 39

Wild Child Dinah 40

A Promise, a Birth and a Death 41

And a Funeral 42

Joseph and his Coat of Many Colours 42

Judah’s Heir 44

The Adventures of Joseph 46

Joseph and the Dreams 47

Joseph, the Famine and a Cup 49

The Hebrews move to Egypt 53

The Death of Jacob Israel 54

EXODUS 55

The Birth of Moses 55

Moses Runs Away 57

Moses in Midian 57

Moses and the Burning Bush 58

The Non-Peaceful Journey 60

The Ten Plagues 60

The First Passover 66

The Parting of the Red Sea 66

The Bitter Water 68

Manna 68

The Curious Tale of the Amalekites – part 1 69

Jethro’s Idea 70

The Special Question 71

Dinner with God 71

The Ten Commandments 71

The Golden Calf 72

Anger and Glory 72

Moses’ Downfall 74

LEVITICUS 75

The Strange Fire 75

The Laws 76

NUMBERS 76

Travelling 76

The Mutiny of Aaron and Miriam 76

The Twelve Spies 78

The Man Who Gathered Sticks 80

The Rebellion of Korah 81

The Racing Plague 82

Aaron’s Rod 82

Deaths of Miriam and Aaron 83

The Fiery Serpents 84

Sihon – the Legendary King 84

Og the Giant 85

Balaam’s Donkey 85

Balaam and the King 87

Phinehas the Hero 88

The Census Count 89

The Five Daughters 90

The Annual Feasts 91

The Doom of Midian 92

The Inheritance of Reuben and Gad 92

The Death of Moses 93

JOSHUA 94

Rahab and the Spies 94

Crossing the Jordan 95

Surprise Week 96

The Fall of Jericho 97

Achan and the Accursed Thing 98

The Battle of Ai 100

Cursings and Blessings Altar 101

Gibeon’s Trick 101

Five Kings in a Cave 102

Taking the South 103

The Mighty Massive Army 104

The Dividing of the Land 105

The New Altar – Right or Wrong? 106

Death of Joshua 107

JUDGES 108

The Battles of Judah 108

The Traitor of Luz 108

Disobedience of the Tribes 109

The Judges and their Principal Achievements 110

The King Who Was Too Fat 110

Shamgar and the Ox Goad 111

Death by Tent Peg 112

Gideon and the Angel 113

Gideon and the Fleece 115

The Water and the Barley Cake 115

The Battle of Lamps and Pitchers 116

The Punishments at Succoth and Penuel 117

Gideon’s Honour 118

The Rise of Abimelech 119

One Stone and Bramble Fire 120

Two more Judges 122

Jephthah’s Daughter 122

Death by Lisping 124

Three more Judges 125

The Birth of Samson 125

Samson and the Lion 126

Samson’s Revenge 128

Samson and the Huge Gates 129

Samson and Delilah 130

Samson and the Temple of Dagon 132

The Idols of Micah 133

The Levite’s Concubine 134

The War against Benjamin 136

The Brides of Benjamin 137

RUTH 138

The Famine and the Widows 138

Ruth meets Boaz 139

Naomi’s Plan 140

The Loose Shoe 141

1 AND 2 SAMUEL 141

The Birth of Samuel 141

The Voice in the Dark 143

Disaster 144

Adventures of the Ark of the Covenant 145

God v. Baal and Dagon 146

We Want a King! 147

Saul and the Donkeys 148

The Strange Journey Home 149

Samuel Presents the King to the People 150

“Give Me Your Right Eyes!” 150

Samuel’s Storm Speech 151

Saul’s Terrible Mistake 152

Jonathan the Valiant 152

Silly Saul 154

Saul and the Amelekite King 155

Samuel and the Shepherd Boy 156

Saul meets David 157

David and Goliath 158

David and Jonathan 160

David, Saul and the Music 160

David, Saul and the Dowry 161

The Murder Plot 161

The School of the Prophets 163

The Feast at New Moon 163

The Flight  of David 164

The Cave at Adullam 166

Doeg’s Slaughter 166

The Relief of Keilah 167

David and Jonathan’s Last Meeting 168

Saul in Pursuit 168

The Robe and the Sword 169

Death of Samuel 170

The Fool and his Wife 171

Saul’s Spear and Water 172

David the Bandit 173

Saul and the Witch of Endor 174

David and the Philistines 176

The Marauders of Ziklag 176

Saul’s Last Battle 177

The Two Kings 179

The Field of Sharp Swords 180

The Great Pursuit of Asahel 180

Abner and the Two Kings 181

Abner 182

The Traitors 182

King David of Israel 183

Jerusalem 184

The Sound of Marching in the Mulberry Trees 184

Bringing back the Ark of the Covenant 185

Part 1 – Failure 185

Part 2 – Success 185

David’s Good Idea 186

David’s Reign – Victory, Treasure and Peace 187

Mephibosheth 187

Half Beards, Short Robes 188

David And Bathsheba 189

The Story of The Poor Man’s Sheep 190

Death of an Infant 191

Bathsheba and the New Baby 192

The Atrocities at Rabbah 192

Amnon’s Wicked Plan 193

Absalom’s Revenge 194

The Clever Widow 195

Absalom – the Hair and the Barley Fields 196

Absalom – the Horses and the Treachery 197

The Flight of David 198

The Counsel of Ahithophel 199

The Night of Adventure 200

Absalom, the Battle and the Hair 201

The Runners 202

Joab’s Rebuke 203

Joy and Justice … 204

… and Jealousy … 205

… plus a Grisly Murder… 205

…and a Flying Head. 206

David in Jerusalem 207

Justice for the Gibeonites 207

The Giant David Did Not Kill 208

The Four Sons of Goliath 208

Tales of the Mighty Men of David 209

The Cave of Adullam 209

The Sin of the Census 210

1 AND 2 KINGS 211

1 AND 2 CHRONICLES 211

Rival Heirs 211

The Forfeit Lives 212

The Wisdom of Solomon 213

Solomon and the Temple 214

The Queen of Sheba 215

Solomon  and Jeroboam’s Coat 216

Solomon died and … 217

The Kings of Judah and Israel 217

The Stories of the Kings 219

The Withered Arm 219

The Strange Story of the Disobedient Man of God 220

The Failed Disguise 221

Shishak and the Gold Shields 221

The Trumpets 222

The Queen’s Grove 222

The Royal Line of Jeroboam Ends 223

The Stolen Fort 223

The Judgement on Baasha 223

Drunk and Incapable 224

Arson at the Palace. 224

Samaria 224

The King So Good he was Given Presents 224

The Battle of Praise God and Watch 225

Ahab Introduces Baal 225

Elijah and the Ravens 226

Elijah and the Widow 226

Elijah and the Widow’s Son 226

Elijah and the Prophets of Baal 227

Elijah and the Still, Small Voice 229

Ahab and the Insolent Syrians 230

The Parable of the Missing Man 231

Naboth’s Vineyard 232

Jehoshaphat and Ahab’s Last Battle 233

Ahaziah Keeps the Calves 234

Jehoshaphat, Ahaziah and the Sunk Navy 234

Ahaziah’s Accident 235

The Sad and Sorry Tale of Jehoram of Judah 236

Elijah and the Chariot of Fire 237

Elisha and the Poisoned Water 238

Elisha and the Gang of Youths 238

Elisha and the Misleading Red Water 238

Elisha and the Penniless Widow 240

The Shunemite Lady and the Holiday Cottage 240

The Shunemite Lady and the Child 240

The Shunemite Lady and the Stolen House 241

Elisha and the Poisoned Stew 241

Elisha and the Feeding of the 100 242

Naaman the Leper 242

The Floating Axe 243

Tricking the Army 244

The Lepers and the Siege 245

Treachery and Murder 246

Jehu Cleans Up 247

The Wicked Queen 249

The First Collection Box 250

From Boy King to Bad King 251

Death of Elisha – the Prophecy and the Last Miracle 252

The Foolish King 252

The Proud King 253

The Slaves who Weren’t 254

The King who said “I want one of those!” 254

Origin of the Samaritans 255

Hezekiah and the Distant Battle 256

Hezekiah and the Angel of Death 257

The Great Boil and the Sundial 257

Visit from Babylon 257

Manasseh – the King in Prison 258

The Murder of Amon 258

Josiah’s Great Discovery … 258

…And his Big Mistake 259

Jeremiah’s Scroll 260

Jeremiah and the Rechabites 260

Zedekiah and the Israelite Slaves 261

Jeremiah and the Pit of Mire 262

The Fall of Jerusalem 263

The Fall of Jerusalem – Aftermath 263

Jeremiah’s Last Sign 264

JOB 265

JONAH 267

DANIEL 269

The Healthy Eating Plan 269

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream 270

Nebuchadnezzar’s Image 271

Nebuchadnezzar’s Story 272

The Writing on the Wall 273

Daniel and the Lions’ Den 274

ESTHER 275

Queen Vashti and the Drunk King 275

Esther 276

Mordecai and the Plot 277

The Curious Tale of the Amalekites (part 3) 277

Esther’s Peril 278

Haman’s Gallows 279

The King’s Sleepless Night 279

Haman’s End 280

The Feast of Purim 280

EZRA and NEHEMIAH 281

The Persian King and the Hebrew Prophecy 281

The Curious Tale of Anathoth 282

The Temple and the Trouble 283

Ezra’s Return 284

The Great Marriage Fiasco 285

The Stone and the Sword 286

The Poverty Rebellion 287

Schemes, Plots and Lies 287

Repentance … and Forgiveness … Again 288

The Unwanted Tenant 289

The Unwanted Traders 289

The Unwanted Marriages 289

Nehemiah’s Prayer 290

MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE and JOHN 290

Zacharias and the Angel Gabriel 290

Mary and the Angel Gabriel 291

Birth of John the Baptist 291

Birth of Jesus 292

Jesus Presented in the Temple 293

The Wise Men 294

Herod Slays the Innocents 294

Chlldhood of Jesus 295

Jesus baptised by John 296

Temptation of Jesus 297

Calling the Disciples 297

The Wedding at Cana 299

Nicodemus 299

The Samaritan Woman 300

Official’s son healed 301

The Madman in the Synagogue 302

Teaching in Nazareth 302

Peter’s Mother-in-Law 303

The Talkative Leper 303

The Paralysed Man and the Hole in the Roof 303

Pharisee Grumbles 304

The Pool at Bethesda 305

The Sermon on the Mount 306

The Lord’s Prayer 306

The Centurion’s Servant 308

Widow of Nain’s Son 308

Message from John the Baptist 308

A Story for Simon the Pharisee 309

The Demon, the Pharisees and Jesus’ Family 309

The Emergency Pulpit 310

Stories Jesus Told about the Kingdom 310

Calming the Storm 312

Legion and the Pigs 313

Jairus’ Daughter and the Diseased Woman 313

Two Blind Men 314

One Mute Man 315

Sending Out the Twelve 315

The Death of John the Baptist 315

Feeding of the Five Thousand 316

The Feeding of the Four Thousand 317

Walking on Water 317

A Delegation of Pharisees and Scribes 318

Feast of Tabernacles 319

Corn, a Withered Hand and the Sabbath 319

Crumbs From the Table 320

An Unusual Healing of a Deaf Man 320

Blind Man in Bethsaida 321

Peter’s Confession 321

The Transfiguration 322

Boy With a Demon 322

Temple Tax Payment 323

Stories Jesus Told 324

Story of the Wicked Servant 326

The Adulterous Woman 326

The Man Born Blind 327

The Good Shepherd 329

Seventy Sent Out and Return 329

The Good Samaritan 330

Martha and Mary 330

Lunch and a Plot 331

The Quarrelling Brothers 332

Pilate’s Atrocity in Galilee 332

The Woman With a Bent Back 332

Stories and Healing in a Pharisee’s house 333

Raising of Lazarus 335

Ten Lepers 337

The Unjust Judge 338

The Pharisee and the Publican 338

A Pharisee Question on Divorce 338

Little Children 339

Rich Young Ruler 339

The Labourers in the Vineyard 340

The Ambitious Mother 341

Blind Bartimaeus 341

Zaccheus 342

Mary Anoints Jesus’ Feet 343

Triumphal entry into Jerusalem 343

Withered Fig Tree 344

Cleansing of the Temple 345

Story of the Vineyard 345

Trick Questions – and One Scribe 346

The Widow’s Mite 347

Signs and Stories 348

Judas and the Thirty Pieces of Silver – Part 1 351

The Last Supper 351

Garden of Gethsemane 352

Judas and the Thirty Pieces of Silver – Part 2 353

Peter’s Denial 354

Trial after Trial 355

Crucifixion 356

Resurrection 358

The Road to Emmaus 360

Jesus Appears 361

Doubting Thomas 362

Jesus in Galilee 362

Breakfast on the Beach 363

The Ascension 364

ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 365

The First Prayer to Jesus 365

Tongues at Pentecost 365

The Lame Beggar 366

Ananias and Sapphira 368

The Prison Miracle 368

Quarrel in the Church 369

The Stoning of Stephen 370

The Scourge of Saul 371

Philip and the Sorcerer 371

The Ethiopian Eunuch 372

The Road to Damascus 372

Ananias Heals Saul 373

Escape by Basket 374

Paul and Barnabas 374

Peter and Aeneas 375

Peter in Joppa 375

Peter and Cornelius 376

Antioch and the Christians 378

The Martyrdom of James 378

Peter in Prison … 379

… And Out of Prison 379

The Silver God Suit 380

Elymas the Sorcerer 380

Problems in Pisidia 381

Escape from Iconium 382

A Lame Man and Flowered Oxen 383

The Stoning of Paul 383

Going Home 384

Moses v. Jesus – the Question of Circumcision 384

A Sharp Quarrel 385

Circumcising Timothy 386

Luke 386

Off to Europe 387

The Slave Girl Soothsayer 387

Miracle in the Prison 388

An Angry Mob 389

The Bereans 389

Mars Hill 390

Corinth 391

Paul’s Haircut 393

Eloquent Apollos 393

Handkerchiefs and Aprons 394

The Vagabond Jews and the Bonfire 394

Demetrius and the Silversmiths 395

Sleepy Eutychus 395

The Girdle of Agabus 396

Riot in the Temple 397

The Sanhedrin, but not as Paul knew it … 399

Paul and Jesus 401

The Hunger Strike Plot 401

Felix 402

Festus and the Jews 404

Festus and the King and Queen 404

Shipwreck 405

The Poisonous Snake 407

Publius 407

Rome 408

The Runaway Slave 409

Final Story 409

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Call Me Alf

Bob left Tracey at nine o’clock on Christmas Eve.  The children were in bed but, as they were too excited to sleep, the last bitter row had been in half whispers, harsh and throat straining.

Tracey had been trying to fill the stockings with an inadequate number of sweets, crayons and cheap colouring books.  He had sat watching, wanting to help, to share, but not knowing how.

In the end she had thrown everything across the room and it was too late.  His “precious toolbox” had been thrust at him in the same whirlwind of anger and she had told him to go.  Numb with the failures heaped on him for the last hour, he had gone.

He was a failure.  Couldn’t find a regular job.  If he earned casual money he declared it when he signed on.  Other men didn’t.  Why did he have to?  What was being ‘straight with himself’ compared to Tracey’s happiness?  What was so special about himself that he couldn’t sacrifice his stupid pride for his family?  

The damp streets glistened under the street lights and eventually he found himself at the river.  Inky black, it roiled under the bridge.  He had always feared the water.  Never learnt to swim.  He watched it slide menacingly beneath his feet.

He could go on walking and walking.  But to what?  Not Tracey and the kids.  Not a job.  After two years he knew there were no jobs.  Not for a middleaged craftsman who cared which way the wires went.  Only for fresh out of college whizzkids with electronics coming out of their ears and willing to accept a boy’s wage.

It would be quick and easy this way.  His heavy boots and donkey jacket would drag him down.  So would his toolkit.  He could tie it to his belt.  Kittens in weighted sacks.  Quick.  And all over.  When there was no hope why carry on piling failure on failure?  Admit defeat and go.

He fumbled in his pocket and found a piece of string, neatly coiled.  He slipped it through his belt.  Tracey would be all right.  She’d just said so, hadn’t she?  He took a last look round at the town on both sides of the water and noticed a church spire, black against the night glare of street lights.

He’d never been a religious man.  Wasn’t even sure if there was a God.  But his mother had always said there was.  He tried to formulate a clumsy thought that if there was anything up there it/He would look after Tracey and the kids.  Then he hefted up his toolbox to his belt.  Don’t stop to think.  All over in just two minutes, five at the most…

Running footsteps came up behind him.

“Excuse me?”

He turned, startled.  The street had been deserted for a long time.

“Excuse me…”  A youngish man with a breathlessly pink face above a white dogcollar was hurrying towards him.  “You don’t know anything about electricity, do you?”

Bob hesitated.  “Some,” he said cautiously.

“Only we’ve lost all the lights and heating in the church.  No-one I’ve met so far has had the least idea.  If you can help we’d be so grateful.  It’s only two hours to go…”

Somehow Bob found himself falling into step beside the younger man as he rattled on about midnight services and the elderly congregation.  They went up a side street and into a dark and silent church.

“St. Barnabas,” explained the young man.  “The wiring is unbelievably ancient and it’s finally given up.  And the fuses don’t look right somehow…  This is really good of you.”

Bob had met some bodge-ups in his time but nothing like the sight that met his stupefied gaze in the back of that church.  He played his torch over cobbled wires and fuses wrapped in silver foil in silence.

“The name’s Alphasael,” said his companion chattily.  “Alf for short.  Yours?”

“Bob.  Two hours, you said?”

“That’s right.  People might start arriving a bit before but…”

“Best get started then.”

The fault was not hard to find.  Someone, at some time, had run out of silver paper and rerouted the lighting circuit straight into the heating circuit.  When Alf, the curate, had gone round switching on all the little used heaters in readiness for the larger than usual congregation expected for the Christmas midnight service, the overloaded system had given up.

Bob had the lighting back in half an hour but the heating was another matter.

“We’ll have to check each heater individually.”

Time crept on.  The vicar arrived and was effusively grateful.  Bob and Alf crawled into alcoves and up stepladders.  A mouse-chewed cable was found and replaced.  Alf commented hopefully on the mildness of the night.  Feet were heard in the outer porch.

“That should do it,” said Bob.

He sat alone in the vestry with a mug of tea, listening to the sounds of the service through the closed door.  The heater blazed heat on his cold limbs and the high pure voices of the choir soared beyond feeling.  It had been good to work again.  He hadn’t realised just how much he’d missed the close companionship of a workmate.  Alf was a good lad… quick hands and a steady eye.  Funny little feet though.  And his shoes… like old-fashioned plimsolls…His eyes drooped.

Later, the vicar and several parishioners came in to the vestry.  There was talk and laughter, mince pies and more tea.  A big man shook Bob’s hand commenting he knew a brave man when he saw one, touching wires Reverend had had a go at.

“Mark of a professional,” said Alf, passing with a tray of used cups.  “First sight to fixed-it in two hours.”

The big man eyed Bob thoughtfully.  Then he went to look at the fusebox. 

“I restore listed buildings.  High grade work for top paying customers.  Not looking for a job, are you?”  he asked when he returned.

Alf strolled home with Bob.  It was on his way, he said.  They didn’t talk much.  His earlier chattiness seemed to have gone and Bob felt as relaxed and easy in his company as if they had known each other years.  Somehow he knew Alf had no family to go home to for Christmas.

“Come in and….”  The invitation died on his lips.  Alf wasn’t there.  Had he said goodbye?  Bob couldn’t remember.

Through the lit front room window he could see Tracey sprawled asleep on the settee.  She should be in bed.  He’d make her a hot drink, tell her everything was going to be all right.  Tomorrow he and the kids would make her breakfast…

He trod eagerly up the path, careless for once of its puddles, opened the front door and shut it behind him.

On the pale cement of the step the footprints of his heavy boots showed dark in the streetlight.  And beside them were another set, smaller, as if made by a pair of old fashioned plimsolls.  And, if anyone had inspected the path and pavements, they would have seen that the smaller footprints had kept in step with the larger ones every inch of the way.

THE END

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THE MAN BORN BLIND

(A play for 7 characters based on Mark 8 23-25 and John 9)

Characters:

Greek Chorus – 2 people – GK1 asks the question and GK2 replies
Young Man
Mum (looks shabby and careworn)
Dad (a workman in overalls, hard hat, with a notebook and pen at the ready in his top pocket for union infringements)
Vicar (male or female dressed very dressily)
Jesus

Props:  Clear stage apart from a small table and chair back Left  with an Argos catalogue on it.
GK1 and GK2 are standing back Right.)

GK1 – What’s this?
GK2 –  We are in a village open space.
GK1 –  What’s that over there?
GK2 –  A table with an Argos catalogue on it.
GK1 –  What is it doing there?
GK2 –   Waiting for its part to be played.

Enter Young Man, pointing about him as he speaks excitedly.

YM –  (gabbling )I can see!  I can see!  Mum! Dad! Anyone! I can see.  Suddenly – at last – I can see what everyone else can see.  Mum – come quickly – I can see.  Dad, Dad I can really truly see.  (turns to audience)  I was born blind, you know.  My eyes didn’t grow properly.  I’ve never known what it is to be able to see – until now.  I can see the sky – it’s blue – and grey – and those white bits are clouds – real clouds – and there’s a butterfly – red and black and white and blue and gold and orange – and they always said grass was green but it’s lots of other colours as well.  Suddenly – I can see it all. (moves to back Centre still acting excitedly)

GK1 –  Who is that coming?
GK2 –   His mother.

Enter Mum.

YM(moving forward) Mum – guess what!  I can see.
M – I’m sure you think you can dear, but to see you have to have eyes and you were born without any.  Come on home and have your tea, now, do.  All this shouting isn’t doing you any good.
YM – No, Mum, listen.  Look at me.  I’ve got eyes now.  Look.
M(peering at him)  What?  How?  I don’t understand.  How can you just grow eyes?
YM – A man did it for me.  He came up to me and spat in my eyes and …
M – He did what?  A strange man came up to you and did what?
YM – I just told you.  He came up to me and spat in my eyes and covered them with his hands and …
GK1 –  Who is coming?
GK2 –   His father.
GK1 –  Will he sort this out?
GK2 –   Possibly.  He is a Union man.

Enter Dad.

D – What’s all this then?  (He speaks belligerently as he pulls a notebook from his pocket and licks the end of his pencil)  A strange man walks up to you and spits in your eyes?  You just tell me exactly what happened and I’ll go and sort him out.  No one abuses my son and gets away with it!
YM –  No, Dad, no, you don’t understand.  I was just telling Mum …
M – He says he can see.  He says this man spat in his eyes and covered them with his hands or something and grew new ones for him.
D –  Rubbish!  No one can do that.  Except God.
YM – No – truly Dad – I can see.  It’s not just dark any more.  I can see houses – and birds – and that donkey over there (points to a member of the audience).  I can see so much it makes my head spin.
F – All I’m saying is – if there’s a man going round growing eyes it’s a pity he has to break Health and Safety Regs to do it.  Spitting in someone’s eyes is assault that is and if one of my union members came to me and said …
YM –  Dad!  Listen to me!  Look at me!  Look!  I can see.  It doesn’t matter about Health and Safety.  All that matters …
M –  (soothingly)  All that matters is that our son believes he can see.
YM – I can see, Mum.
M – What am I wearing?  What colour?
YM – (describes top, skirt etc.  As he does so, Mum begins to beam ecstatically and clasp her hands under her chin as she realises her son can see)  …but Mum, I used to imagine what you looked like – and it wasn’t like this.  I thought you’d be… well … slimmer … and not so … shabby somehow.
M – (looking downcast as he finishes speaking and tugging futilely at her saggy clothes in an effort to smarten them up)  I suppose I have let myself go a bit.  Not had much time over the years to look after myself.  I’ve been caring for you …(turns away sadly)
GK1 –  Why is he speaking like that to his mother?
GK2 –   Because he can’t see her.
GK1 –  Why can’t he see her when he has new eyes?
GK2 –   You need more than eyes to see a person.
GK1 –  Perhaps he can see his father?
GK2 –   Perhaps.  Let’s see.
D –  Can you really see, son?  After all these years, can you really see?
YM – Yes Dad.  I can see you in your grubby overalls and scuffed boots with your comical yellow hard hat.  You look just like a workman, Dad.
D – I am a workman, son.  I’m a mechanical engineer.  I’ve been working on the Big Ben project to get all the overtime. To pay for your special school fees.  You know that.
YM – Overtime?  To get extra money?  Could you get some more d’you think?
D – Yes …but …
YM – Only I’d like a bike now I can see.  And a computer.  I used to think you worked too hard but now I can see you just live for working and don’t want any time off.  (drawls affectedly) You are just sooo workman, Dad.
D – But son …
YM – (spotting Argos catalogue) Ooh, what’s this?  (thumbs through)  And a Play Station.  And a petrol, not definitelynot battery, remote controlled 4×4 model car .. it goes at 60,  Dad, and it’s only 200 quid …and what’s this …?  (continues to pore over catalogue while Dad shrugs helplessly.)
GK1 –  who is coming now?
GK2 –   It is the Vicar.
GK1 –  Will she sort this out?
GK2 –   Only if she comes with God.

Enter Vicar (dressed smartly for Harvest Supper.)

V – Hallo, just drumming up support for the Harvest Supper.  You three are all coming of course.
YM – Count me out.  Boring!
V – Pardon??
M – He can see now.  He’s got new eyes.  (Dad nods in agreement)
V – (crosses to Young Man, takes catalogue away and firmly shuts it)  Now just you look here, young man …(to Parents) …he’ll listen to me.  I am the Vicar, after all.
YM – I’m looking straight at you, Vicar, and you don’t look like a proper Vicar at all.
V – Whaaat!
YM –  And now I come to think of it, you never told me God could give me new eyes.
V –  He can’t.  I mean, yes, he could, but it just doesn’t happen like that.
YM –  Yes it does.  I’ve got new eyes to prove it.  A strange man, who must have been from God, grew them for me.  You don’t know anything about God, you just pretend you do.
V – How dare you!  You are certainly not welcome at the Harvest Supper (turns to parents)  and neither are you if you support him.
M – Well, we do actually.
D –  Because it’s happened.  So it must be God in some way or another.
GK1 –  Who has the Vicar met?
GK2 –   That’s Jesus, the Son of God.
GK1 –  Will he sort out this problem.
GK2 –   Yes.  Trust him.

(Vicar storms furiously off and meets Jesus entering at far side of stage.  They look at each other for a moment then Vicar continues to exit but more slowly and thoughtfully. Jesus quietly follows off.)

(Young Man starts thumbing through catalogue again)

(Parents confer together at front of stage.  While they do so the Young Man starts to listen to them, until he is ignoring the catalogue, which falls unnoticed to the ground, and he is open-mouthed at what they are saying.)

M – I don’t like our son like this.
D – Neither do I.  He seems to look at us as if we were objects, not … us!
M – As if we were no more to him than just … just … trees – walking about.
D – We need to find the man who did this to him.
M –  I don’t want him blind again.  I’m really glad he can see now.  And he’s our son and we want what’s best for him.  But … but … 
D – …but not like this.  I mean, what’s the good of sight if you can’t see straight?
M – There’s no good at all.  Not if you can’t see straight.
D –  We’ve got to find the man.
GK1 –  Who will help these people?
GK2 –   Jesus.
GK1 –  Who will help the young man see straight?
GK2 –   Jesus
GK1 –  Where is he?
GK2 –   Always here when you need him.

Enter Jesus who walks forward onto centre stage to join them.

J – I’m here.  What’s the problem?
YM – (jumping up) You’re the man who grew my eyes from spit.  Are you from God?
J –  Yes.  I’m His son.  Can you see all right now?
YM – No, not really.  I can see – but I see people like … like …
M –  …trees walking about.
D – Not as people at all.
J – Stand still.  (He reaches out and covers the Young Man’s eyes with his hands.)  Try that.
YM – Hallo Mum.  Hallo Dad.
M – Can you see us properly now?
YM – Yes.  I couldn’t before but now I can see you clearly.  It’s good to see you both at last.  (they all clasp hands with Jesus saying ‘thank you’.  Enter Vicar to join in.)
GK1 –  Is that the end of the play?
GK2 –   Yes but now it’s the song.
GK1 –  Will everyone join in the singing?
GK2 –   Yes – the words are on the overhead.

Song to follow The Man Born Blind play.

To the tune of I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash

Verse 1 – Choir – fronted by Young Man

I can see clearly now my sin is gone

I can see the light of Christ in every face

Gone is the disbelief that kept me blind

Now I can praise, praise praise the God of grace

Chorus – all

“I came to heal the sick,” is what Jesus said,

“Make the blind to see and the dumb to sing,

Bind up the broken hearts weighed down with sin.”

Let us praise, praise, praise our God and King.

Verse 2 – Choir – fronted by Mum and Dad

We can see clearly now we’ve all been healed

We have met Jesus face to face

All of our labours now to him we yield

And we can praise, praise, praise the God of grace.

Chorus

Verse 3 – Choir – fronted by Vicar

I can see clearly now the way to go

Jesus Christ is truly the Living Way

All of my whole life through I will praise his name

Let us praise, praise, praise the God of grace.

Chorus

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SEASONS AND MONTHS IN ISRAEL IN BIBLE TIMES

Everyday life in Israel in Bible times was largely affected by that which was beyond the control of man, the seasons and the weather.

The Two Seasons

In the yearly cycle, the four seasons are not as clearly marked as the lands to the north of it. But to the Jew every season was a special time and a reminder of the promises of God, as He said to Noah “seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter” (Genesis 8: 22).

Though the Bible specifically mentions summer, winter, spring and autumn, it may come as a surprise to know that the Bible never mentions four seasons, but only two.

The Hebrew word “stav”, translated today as autumn, is mentioned only once in the Bible in the Song of Solomon: “for lo, the winter is passed, the rain is over and gone…” (Song 2:11), “stav” really speaks of the time of the winter rains.

The Hebrew word “aviv”, translated today as spring is mentioned twice in the Bible, both referring to a stage in the ripening of barley rather than a season. The month of Aviv (hodesh ha’aviv) is the time when this ripening of barley takes place, this is of course the Hebrew month of Nissan.

There is no mention of a season called spring anywhere in the Bible.

Therefore we must conclude that the Bible only recognizes two seasons, summer and winter, or as the writers of the Talmud put it, “the days of sun” and “the days of rain.”

The Four Seasons

Under the influence of the Greco-Roman civilization, the Jews divided the year into four seasons by using the original Hebrew names of the months in which each season began:

  • Tishri (October)
  • Tevet (January)
  • Nissan (April)
  • Tammuz (July)

The Climate

The climate of Palestine is for the most part a land of sunshine and good weather. Though the land constituted a very small geographical area, there are considerable differences in temperature. For example Mount Hermon, with its white snow caps all year-round, towers 9000 feet above sea level, while the Dead Sea is 1292 feet below sea level. The land of Israel enjoys sunny blue skies from the beginning of May to the end of September, with little or no interruption, and this made it possible for the large number of pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem for the various Feasts, to spend several days with Christ in the wilderness.

All along the Mediterranean coastline the lands have a climate which is almost tropical. The winters are wet and the summers are hot and dry. Because of the blessing of this seasonal contrast in Israel snow will fall on the mountains and tropical fruits will ripen in the plains.

The Romans reckoned the hours from midnight, a fact which explains the apparent discrepancy between John 19:14, where, at the sixth hour (of Roman calculation), Pilate brings Jesus out to the Jews, while at the third hour of the Jewish, and hence the ninth of the Roman and of our calculation (Mark 15:25), He was led forth to be crucified. The night was divided by the Romans into four, by the Jews into three watches. The Jews subdivided the hour into 1,080 parts (chlakim), and again each part into seventy-six moments. 

The Rainfall

In Israel the amount of rainfall really depends on how high above sea level you are. It rains much more in the mountains then it does in the plains. The mountains many times capture the stormy clouds and prevent them from reaching inland. The highest mountains, those north of Galilee, receive the most rain. For example in the hills of Judea they may only receive 20-30 inches of annual rainfall whereas Mount Hermon and the other mountains in the area may receive 60 inches. As you reach the southern tip near Beersheba it may only rain less than 8 inches.

It is interesting to note that because of the Rift, the long straight land trench of the Jordan valley, the city of Jericho receives very little rainfall, maybe 4 inches annually, while in Jerusalem, only 15 miles to the West there is approximately 20 inches of annual rainfall. This may explain why Lot chose the area of Sodom and Gomorrah to dwell, and why 2 1/2 of the 12 tribes of Israel decided that the land east of the Jordan was a good land and remained there (Num. 32). During Roman times this land became famous for its fertility, in fact Mark Antony had given his balsam plantations in this territory to Cleopatra.

Another interesting fact is that the rainfall in the land of Israel was never really consistent. Sometimes there were very wet winters and other times they were famines and drought. This fluctuation play an important role in history of God’s people teaching them that they needed to depend on Him rather than any certainties in the climate.

The Dew

In many areas in the land of Israel, especially along the coastline, there were extremely heavy dews. They came in from the Mediterranean on the summer days, and then fall to the ground as it cooled into night. Some areas along the coast have dew three-quarters of the year, which would provide for them nearly one-quarter of their moisture. This also played a major part in the life of the people of Israel. Elijah the prophet, for example, when he predicted the coming drought said, “there will be neither dew nor rain” (I Ki 17:1).

The Months

Note: the first number before the month indicates the numerical order of months in the religious calendar and the second number in parenthesis refers to the civil calendar.

11 (5) January . (Shebat, new year for trees). This is the coldest month, which brings with it dark and gloomy days and heavy rainfalls.

12 (6) February. (Adar, almonds blooming). During this month rainy days and sunny days alternated frequently. This is why the Arabs would call this month “the one eyed” because it had a dark face on one side and a bright one on the other. They would also say “February has no bounds” and “the storms have the smell of summer in it.” During this month the almond trees begin to blossom and the late barley seeds are sown.

1 (7) March. (Nisan, beginning of barley harvest). This month had much sunshine but very heavy winds. The rains of March and April are known in Scripture as the “latter rains”, which supplied nourishment to the barley and wheat crops before they are “white for harvest.” Sometimes this month would receive the heaviest rainfall, the apricot and almond trees would show off their beauty.

2 (8) April. (Iyyar, barley harvest). This was called the month of flowers, and it was the greenest and considered the most beautiful of all the months. Many times during this month the dry desert winds would blow in for three days at a time, melting the snow, and quickening the vegetation. During this month the harvesting begins in the Jordan valley and on the coastal plain. The fruit trees are in blossom and show their young foliage. The peach, pomegranate, olive, and many more.

3 (9) May. (Sivan, wheat harvest). During the month of May the heat magnifies and the rain ceases for about five months. Because of the change in landscape of this hot month Jesus may have drawn His analogy “the grass withers and the flowers fade away.” Also in May the harvesting begins in the plains and the lands, the spring fruits are ready, the green almonds, apricots, plums, and the vines are in blossom.

4 (10) June. (Tammuz, harvesting). During June the land for the most part becomes barren and parched, and harvesting continues in the highlands.

5 (11) July. (Av, grapes, figs and olives are ripe). During this month the intense summer heat is cooled by the westerly breezes and the commoners are busy on their threshing floors.

6 (12) August. (Elul, vintage begins). This is the hottest month of the year, and even on the coast it is 90 degrees in the shade, and much hotter inland. During this month the grapes, figs, peaches, apples, and pears ripen.

7 (1) September. (Tishri, early rains, plowing). During September the summer heat is intensified by the “siroccos” or desert winds, which can last much longer than the winds of spring. The farmers would dry their figs for winter, and a would make their grapes into raisins, syrup, and wine. The pomegranates and bananas would ripen. Usually around the end of September would be the first shower after a long summer drought.

8 (2) October. (Heshvan, wheat, barley sowing). Farmers would be finishing with their grape and fig harvests, olives would be gathered, the fattened sheep would be slaughtered, and the sugarcane and dates would ripen, plowing would begin and the rains would loosen up the hard dry ground. During October were the heavier rains known in Scripture as “the former rains.”

9 (3) November. (Chislev, plowing and sowing). During this month there would be much plowing and sowing of wheat and barley.

10 (4) December. (Tebeth, rainy winter months). December would bring heavier rains and cooler weather. Fruit trees would ripen with their oranges, citrons, and lemons. The vines would be pruned.

It is hoped that the above information should be of help when preparing discussion group papers and Sunday School lessons which involve dates and seasons.