Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Inn – Chapter 5 (Finale)

Foreword

This story came to me one evening while sitting inside a ‘living Christmas tree’ at Fellowship in the Pass Church in Beaumont, California. It’s a long story and you’re about to read one, so I’ll explain later.

But it occurred to me that no one had ever really tried telling the nativity story from perhaps one of the most misunderstood characters in a relevant Biblical story – the Inn Keeper. I’ve had a few people read it and give input over the years, and I even tried having a theater-type guy take a look at it, but he never got around to it due to his schedule. (Yeah, you know who you are!) So what you read may not be polished as well as it could be. But I did feel it necessary to share this story this Christmas season.

This ending to the The Inn is the best that I could do. After several rewrites and much soul searching it is what God has laid on my heart at the present time. I’m not sure it is ‘the’ ending, but it is what God has laid on my heart at this time.

And so here is my final chapter in the story about the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Inn

Chapter 5

Chaim was up before the sun the next day, feeling an urgency to simply be awake. He quickly put on his robe and sandals, gently kissed his wife on the forehead and headed for the door.

“Good morning husband,” Elisheva said softly.

“Good morning wife,” he said turning back through the closing door. “I’ll be back shortly. I just want to check on the couple in the stable.”

Chaim walked quickly through the streets to the edge of town, compelled to get to the stable as fast as he could. He didn’t understand it, but he knew that he had to get there. It was still but the lone star that still shone brightly over the city made it appear as midday. As he reached the gate of the city, his eyes caught hold of a sight he had trouble making out.

Still a few hundred yards off, Chaim could see what looked like a heard of small animals near the stables, small hunch-backed creatures with something sticking up from the ground. He searched his mind to try and find something in his memory that matched these creatures, but came up blank. He figured he had better get there quick in case the young couple were in danger.

Chaim’s pace slowed as he neared the stable entrance, as he now could make out what was going on. Reaching the first gate, he stopped dead in his tracks trying to make out the meaning of what he saw.

It became apparent that almost everyone near the opening of the cave was a shepherd, bracing themselves on their staff while on on bended knee and apparently bowing to the young couple and their newborn child.

Thoughts began to race through his mind as to what could have happened. Did the child not survive the birth? Was it not healthy? Did highwaymen descend on them in the night? All looked well, but until he got closer he couldn’t be sure.

Chaim passed through the first gate, securing it behind him. As he approached the pen where the couple resided, the gate had been left open to accommodate the crowd of shepherds now paying them homage. He looked around, and it appeared that even the animals remaining silent and gazing toward the family.

Upon reaching the back of the crowd Chaim stopped, looking through a miniature forest of staffs to see what he could. When he gained his focus he saw the woman, Mary, curled up in the hay with her baby in her lap. The newborn was wrapped in one of the blankets that Elisheva had brought out the night before, and Joseph was kneeling nearby offering comfort to his wife and the child.

It was only then that Chaim realized that he alone was standing, and quickly bent down next to one of the men in the back. He lightly placed his hand on the man’s shoulder to gain his attention and asked, “Why are you all bowing down to this man and his wife? Who are they that they should receive such honor?”

The shepherd slowly turned to look at Chaim, searching his face before eventually locking eyes with him, and then letting a smile crawl across his lips and face.

“It’s not the parents,” whispered the shepherd, “it’s the baby.”

 

∞                ∞                ∞                ∞                ∞

 

Elisheva was startled from her slumber as the bed shook. She was sure the earth had moved until she turned to see Tehila gazing at her in excitement.

“It’s them, mommy! It’s them!” exclaimed the child.

“Who?” said her mother, sitting up quickly and looking around the room. “Where?”

“The baby! From my dream!” she continued. “The people in the stable are his mommy and daddy!”

Still groggy from her sleep, Elisheva tried to process what her daughter was telling her. She could barely make sense of what Tehila was saying. How could these people be the parents of a baby that her daughter only been dreaming about? A baby that would make everyone happy…

“Go and wake your brothers now!” ordered Elisheva. “Tell them to get their robes and sandals! Go!”

It had all suddenly clicked. Chaim had never been one to be overly concerned with the guests, and his going out to check on the young couple seemed odd. But when coupled with Tehila’s dreams and the star, could it be that God was finally going to show her husband what she had long prayed for?

Elisheva threw on her robes and sandals and headed down the hall to wake her parents. They had to find Chaim.

 

∞                ∞                ∞                ∞                ∞

 

A look of disbelief came over Chaim’s face, not really understanding what the shepherd had said. It made no sense to him that these men should worship this man and his wife, much less their child.

“But who are they?” he whispered. “Who is this child that you would worship him?”

“He is God’s Messiah!” said the shepherd quietly, grabbing the lapel of Chaim’s cloak. “He is the Christ!”

Chaim’s head snapped back toward the family and immediately focused on the baby. This is what Israel had been waiting on? This baby was to be a Savior to the Jews? “This shepherd has been in the field alone with his flock far too long,” he thought to himself.

But as he continued to gaze at the child, he was unable to take his eyes off him. He looked like any other child that had entered the world, but there was something about this baby that captivated him. And as he sat there staring, pieces of prophesy from his youth flashed through his head.

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.

He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God…

The shepherd kneeling next to him rose, turned and started to walk back towards the field. Chaim rose and walked after him, grabbing the sleeve of his robe to draw his attention. The shepherd turned and smiled.

“How did you know to come?” asked a bewildered Chaim. “How did you know to find him in my stable?”

“God’s angels appeared to us in the night,” said the shepherd. “They proclaimed his birth and told us that we would find the baby in a manger in swaddling clothes.”

“Angels?” questioned Chaim.

“Yes!” said the shepherd. “They sang of his glory and told us to leave our flocks and to come worship him.”

Chaim was speechless. The shepherd placed his hand firmly on his shoulder and said, “You have seen God’s provision for Israel this night. Rejoice!”

The shepherd turned and began to walk away. As he did, Chaim looked past him and saw that other shepherds were coming toward his stable as well. And as he scanned to see more, he saw his wife Elisheva and the rest of his family coming out from the city. He moved to meet them, intercepting the group about 30 yards from the stable.

His wife gently cupped his face, looking at him with wide eyes and searching his face as though looking for an injury.

“My husband is everything alright?” she asked, looking him and pausing after she knew he was unhurt. “What have you seen?”

Chaim wasn’t sure what to say to her. He looked at his sons and his in-laws before finally settling on the face his daughter, being held by his wife. He quickly glanced over his shoulder to look at the stable and the small family it housed, before looking back at Tehila.

“It’s him, isn’t it daddy?” the girl whispered. “It’s the baby from my dreams isn’t it?”

Chaim paused to think, letting his disbelief get the better of him for the moment. “I wouldn’t know. I cannot see what you dreamed, now can I Tehila?”

“But the people are happy and the people in white, they sang about the baby didn’t they?” she asked.

The question made Chaim’s blood run cold. How could she have known what the shepherd said about the angels? Could his daughter really have dreamed about God’s Messiah and everything that had gone on?

Chaim turned and looked once again at the stable where the couple sat and the shepherds worshiped. His lowly stable was far from a palace and these people anything but warriors. Yet, something inside of him cried out that what he was seeing was God’s provision for Israel. That somehow this child was what his people had been praying and hoping for after hundreds of years.

That this baby was the Son of God.

Chaim slowly started to walk toward the stable and his family followed. A sliver of guilt began to run through him, as he realized that as God’s Messiah, he should have made room in the inn for him and his family. But how could he have known?

As they reached the edge of the stable and entered in to join the rest of those worshiping the newborn baby, Chaim knelt and was joined by his family. He felt Elisheva’s arms rest on his as she bowed her head, and the hand of his father-in-law grasped his shoulder as if to reassure him. He glanced at both before bowing his head to pray.

“God, You know I have had little faith that You would ever fulfill Your promise to send Your Messiah. And You know that I do not understand why You took my family from me as a child. But something about this child, something I cannot explain, makes me believe that he is Your chosen one. I do not understand how or why You chose my family and this stable to bring your Savior for your people into this world. I just need to know what you want me to do?”

Chaim breathed deeply, releasing the air in his lungs slowly as though he had run a long race. He searched his thoughts until they were blank, and then he heard it.

“Believe.”

Startled, Chaim’s mind spun as he turned his head slightly both ways to see if he could hear the voice again. But it became clear that it hadn’t come from anyone standing near him, but from within his very being.

Raising his head slowly, Chaim opened his eyes to focus once again on the baby. He looked like any other baby in appearance, but it was now clear to him that this child was unlike any other that had ever been born to man.

Elisheva felt Chaim’s movements, as did Ilan, and raised her head to look at him. “What is it my husband? Are you troubled by something?”

Chaim looked at the ground. He was suddenly aware of all the years he had spent in bitterness, doubting God because his life had not met his expectations. He now knew that God’s expectations were bigger than his disbelief.

“No,” he said, looking at his wife as a small tear rolled down one cheek. “Not any longer.”

Elisheva looked into her husband’s eyes, smiling as warmth washed over her in the realization that God had finally gotten through to him. She cupped his face with her free hand and gently kissed his cheek.

“Yes, I can see that,” she said.

Chaim rose and his family joined him. He put one arm around Elisheva and Tehila and the other around Ethan and Shimon. The boys looked at him not quite understanding what had happened in that moment. Looking down at them, Chaim knew he had a lot of explaining to do, to correct what he had taught them by his actions over the course of their life.

“We have much to do,” he said in a firm voice to the group. “This baby and his parents need food and fresh straw for their donkey. And we need to help them find lodging, for we cannot have this baby living in a stable for very long.”

Ilan looked his son-in-law up and down, a small smile creeping across his lips. “I sense a change in you my son. Is this true?”

Chaim thought for a moment, looking at the family in the manger and then back to his own.

“No, not a change. An understanding,” he said, breathing in the fresh morning air. “Let us go. They day is young, we have an inn to run and a Savior to care for.”

The Inn – Chapter 4

Foreword

This story came to me one evening while sitting inside a ‘living Christmas tree’ at Fellowship in the Pass Church in Beaumont, California. It’s a long story and you’re about to read one, so I’ll explain later.

But it occurred to me that no one had ever really tried telling the nativity story from perhaps one of the most misunderstood characters in a relevant Biblical story – the Inn Keeper. I’ve had a few people read it and give input over the years, and I even tried having a theater-type guy take a look at it, but he never got around to it due to his schedule. (Yeah, you know who you are!) So what you read may not be polished as well as it could be. But I did feel it necessary to share this story this Christmas season.

Each chapter will follow in it’s own file.

And so here is my take on the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Inn

Chapter 4

The rest of the afternoon was busy, but uneventful. Elisheva worked to prepare supper with her maidens while Chaim tended to the various minutia that came with running an inn. Guests came and went while performing their personal business, and as the afternoon turned toward evening a welcome cool settled over the valley as a breeze swept in from the Mediterranean Sea.

Elisheva was almost finished setting the table for supper when Chaim came in from his workshop. Tehelia followed her mother into the dining area carrying a bowl full of olives, and he immediately noticed the absence of his sons.

“It’s almost dark and they are not home yet,” Chaim growled. “I let them have some fun and they have proven not to be worthy of the trust I put in them.”

His wife shot him a disapproving look, but Chaim had barely gotten the words out of his mouth when he heard a commotion in the outer room. He stepped through the door to see two of the inn’s patrons entering, followed by their three children. Close behind were Ethan and Shimon, carrying an armful of goods that evidently belonged to his guests.

“Please forgive the boys, sir,” said the man. “We were returning from the bazaar and were overloaded. Your sons recognized us  as your guests and asked if they could help us. I hope you do not mind that I delayed them.”

Chaim shifted his gaze from the guest to his sons, giving them a slight smile. “It is not a problem at all,” he said, a tinge of pride of voice. “They have done as they should have. They have done well.”

A look of relief washed over both boys, as they knew they were likely to be in trouble for being late. But they now saw that helping this guest was not only the right thing to do, but had also saved their skins.

Ilan and Ofra exited the staircase and seated themselves at the table, joining the rest of the family as they prepared for the meal. Chaim took his place opposite Ilan at the other end of the table, with Elisheva to his immediate left. Ethan and Shimon returned from upstairs and sat to his right while Tehila squeezed in between her mother and grandmother.

Chaim looked at Elisheva, knowing what she expected of him and what he really didn’t care to do. But he also knew that with her father present, he could just as easily pass the buck.

“Ilan, would you say a blessing over the meal for us?” asked Chaim.

“I am honored” said Ilan and bowed his head. “Jehova, God of Isaac, Abraham and Jacob, bless this food and the hands that prepared it. Bless those who provide for this family. Speed the bringing of your Messiah to your children. Amen.”

As Ilan finished his prayer, he opened his eyes and looked at Chaim, and the two shared a knowing look that some of that prayer was meant for his son-in-law. Chaim looked at Ilan briefly before looking away and reaching for a dish. But before he could get any food to his plate, a knock came at the door. The family looked at each other, but Chaim quickly rose to answer it.

He opened the door swiftly, slightly upset that his supper had been disturbed. But has he looked out into the street, all he saw were a man and his very pregnant wife who was seated on a donkey. As mad as he wanted to be, all he could feel was helpless because he knew the man’s coming question and the answer he would have to give.

“Sir, my name is Joseph and this is my wife, Mary,” explained the visitor. “We have come from Nazareth to take part in the census as I am a native of this city. Do you have any lodging for us this night?”

Chaim sighed. He wanted to help and could see how much discomfort the man’s wife was in. But he also knew that he had no rooms left.

“I’m sorry, but we have nothing left,” Chaim said apologetically. “The census you are here to take part in has filled the city and every room that I have.”

Joseph looked at Mary, who gave her husband a reassuring smile. A moment later Joseph looked back at Chaim, thanked him for the information and then turned his donkey around into the street.

Chaim watched for a moment, his trance broken when Elisheva’s hand gently came to rest on his shoulder. He looked down at her and they locked eyes when inspiration sprang into Chaim’s brain.

“Joseph!” he called after the couple. “We have no rooms, but we do have a stable where you can water your donkey and rest on something softer than the ground.”

Joseph stopped and turned, a smile coming to his face. He looked to Mary and received a small nod as if to say that it would be fine.

“Thank you sir.” said Joseph.

Chaim thought for a moment while Elisheva just looked at his face from the side, then turning to gaze at the young couple with him. “I will take you out there now,” he said. “Elisheva, prepare two portions for them and send them out to the stable.”

Elisheva looked back at Chaim and he turned to meet her eyes. She was beaming with a smile of pride and happiness he had not found in her face in some time. “I will have them shortly,” she said, kissing his cheek and striding off to the kitchen.

“I will be back after I get them settled,” Chaim said closing the door slowly. He reopened it just a crack. “And make sure to save me some of your mother’s Kugel,” he added sternly. The remark made Ethan snap his to look at his father, who was starring right at him.

Without missing a beat, Tehila quipped, “That means you big brother!”

Everyone at the table chuckled and Ofra leaned in to laughingly shush the child as Chaim closed the door.

∞                ∞                ∞                ∞                ∞

It was short walk from the inn to the cave outside of town where he kept the animals. It wasn’t much, but the animals that were there were enough to keep the family well nourished and clothed. A few cows, a handful of sheep and few dozen chickens were kept in various pens. It was evident that Shimon had been by earlier and taken care of things, and Chaim was pleased that his son was finally showing the responsibility he knew was present in the boy … somewhere.

There was one empty stall that had housed a donkey before Chaim sold it a few weeks earlier. So it was a perfect for Joseph, Mary and their transportation. He led them inside the shallow cave, opening the empty stall for them.

On the short walk there, Chaim and Joseph talked about the couple’s journey to Bethlehem. Joseph had said that it was largely uneventful, but that he was very concerned that Mary would give birth any day, if not any minute. Joseph had repeatedly praised God for His provision and for how He had taken care of him and his wife. And as Chaim listened he had mixed feelings. On one hand he remembered the enthusiasm he once felt in his younger days when his father and mother displayed that same faith in God. On the other, he remembered the pain and despair at losing his parents and blaming God for all of it.

“You make yourself as comfortable as you can,” said Chaim, “and I will get some fresh straw for you and your donkey.”

“Thank you sir for this,” said Joseph. “May Jehova bless you for it. How much will we owe you to stay here this night?”

Chaim returned with a large armful of straw and set it down. He looked at the two and then to the ground. “Nothing,” he said solemnly. “You should not have to stay here, but this is all we have. But to ask you to pay for this would be wrong.”

Joseph smiled, looking back to Mary who was adjusting herself onto the mound of hay. “Bless you sir all the more!” exclaimed Joseph, turning back to Chaim.

Just about then the sound of people approaching could be heard. Both men looked back toward the city to see Elisheva, Shimon and Tehila coming toward them. The children carried two plates of food, bread and water while their mother had a pair of blankets.

“The nights have been warm, but maybe these blankets can help make it more comfortable for you out here,” said Elisheva, handing the blankets to Joseph. “And the children have food and drink for you both.”

Joseph put the blankets aside so he could take the plates of food. As the children got close enough to hand them to him, Tehila froze. She stood holding the plate and staring at Mary as though she had seen a ghost. Joseph looked at her, puzzled, stooped and pried the plate loose from her small hands. As he did so, her gaze slowly turned to him. And much to everyone’s surprise, her eyes got even wider.

“You’re his daddy,” Tehila said in a whisper-like voice.

Joseph grinned at the child and stood up. “Yes. Well, I will be soon, I hope,” he said, turning to hand the plate to his wife. Turning back, he took the other plate from Shimon and moved to sit down next to Mary.

“I hope so too,” said Mary. The group shared a laugh as they could tell the mother-to-be was more than ready to give birth.

Tehila was still in shock when her mother lifted her into her arms. Elisheva looked at her as if to ask if something was wrong, but Tehila just looked blankly past her at the visitors.

“Well, we will leave you to rest,” said Elisheva.

“Thank you and bless you sir,” said Joseph. “Thank for letting us stay here.”

“You’re welcome,” Chaim replied. “The timing of your arrival is unfortunate, but I’m glad we can offer you some comfort. Besides, I don’t see you two causing us a problem or raising a lot of noise.”

“No sir, we most certainly will not,” said Joseph.

Chaim and his family turned to walk back to the inn, with Tehila looking over Elisheva’s shoulder at the couple in the stable.

“What are you looking at?” asked her mother.

“That’s his mommy and daddy,” whispered Tehila.

“Who?” said Elisheva.

“The baby.” Said Tehila.

“What baby?” said Elisheva.

“The baby in my dream,” she said, her whisper becoming more excited. “The baby that made everyone so happy!”

Elisheva looked at her daughter in shock. As they continued to walk she slowly turned to look at Chaim, who was already looking at her. Elisheva’s face dawned a smile while Chaim’s eyes rolled back in his head.

“It was a dream woman, nothing more,” he said.

“Are you sure?” she asked.

Chaim stopped walking, turned and looked back to the stable. Joseph and Mary were eating and chatting, both smiling and content. He paused a few moments before turning back to his wife. “Pretty sure,” he said matter of factly. “Let’s get home. Not all of us have eaten dinner yet.”

As they turned and continued their walk, Shimon was looking into the sky. When he stumbled over a rock in the road, Chaim caught him by the arm to steady him.

“What are you looking at?” he asked.

“The stars,” Shimon replied, pointing upwards. “They’re very bright tonight, especially that one.”

Continuing to walk, Chaim looked up and saw the one star shining brighter than all the others, almost as if shining on the city itself. In fact, if he didn’t know better, it would seem that it was larger than all the others as well.

“It does seem large my son,” he said. “But it must be some sort of season or sign for those who know what it means.”

A few moments passed and Tehila’s voice cut through the air. “Maybe it’s the star for the May-Si-uh?”

“Maybe,” said Elisheva, kissing her daughter’s cheek. “Maybe.”

Chaim just kept walking, looking straight ahead and unwilling to show the conflict inside his head. That even now, despite being a devoted skeptic and pessimist of God’s promises, he was starting to wonder just what it all meant – if anything at all.

The Inn – Chapter 3

Foreword

This story came to me one evening while sitting inside a ‘living Christmas tree’ at Fellowship in the Pass Church in Beaumont, California. It’s a long story and you’re about to read one, so I’ll explain later.

But it occurred to me that no one had ever really tried telling the nativity story from perhaps one of the most misunderstood characters in a relevant Biblical story – the Inn Keeper. I’ve had a few people read it and give input over the years, and I even tried having a theater-type guy take a look at it, but he never got around to it due to his schedule. (Yeah, you know who you are!) So what you read may not be polished as well as it could be. But I did feel it necessary to share this story this Christmas season.

Each chapter will follow in it’s own file.

And so here is my take on the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Inn

Chapter 3

Elisheva, Shimon and Tehila worked their way through the marketplace, picking up the last of the needed supplies for the inn. Cooking for her family and the guests of the inn was a large task, but one that she and a few neighbor girls managed to keep up with.

“Elisheva!” came a booming voice from across the bazaar. “How are you and Chaim?”

The salutation came from Ahron, a vendor of dates and figs. A potbellied man with a large beard, Ahron had a personality as big as his waist. He had known Elisheva and her husband since they were youths, and loved any chance he had to speak with them and reminisce. He signaled them over to his stand with large circular motions of his hands and arms.

“Come! Come! How have you been?” he exclaimed, moving out from behind his stall’s table to greet his friend. “And how is this little one?”

Ahron reached down to scoop up Tehila in his arms. The young girl gave the bearded man a hug, then leaned back to get a better view of his face.

“We’re good! Very, very good!” shouted Tehila with a smile that stretched from ear to ear. “When are you coming to play again?”

Ahron glanced at the girl for a moment, acting as though he were surprised. But after as brief moment, his smile matched her own.

“Well, my dear,” speaking to the girl as though he were telling her a not-very-secret secret, “when I get the chance to get away from this market and my chores, our families will celebrate the Fest of Tabernacles together and thank Jehova for His wondrous provision! We will honor our God with the lulav and etrog, and I will prepare one of my turkeys for the feast. And yes Tehila, we will play and celebrate the love of Jehova.”

Tehila’s eyes lit up, and then let her exuberance bubble over onto Ahron again.

“Mommy says that God is going to send his May-suh, uh, Muh-si-uh to save us some day,” she said, stuttering over the word and trying desperately to get it right.

“That is right, my child! That is right!” exclaimed the jolly man, bouncing Tehila in his arms. Quickly, Ahron gave the girl another hug and let her slip down to the ground. He turned around and plucked a date from his stall, handing it to Tehila and patting her on the head.

“Thank you Ahron, that is very kind of you,” said Elisheva. Their families had always been close, and Ahron — even though he was a grown man — was more like child than most children. He had a happy, joyful spirit that overflowed no matter what the circumstance. “How have you and your family been? It has been too long since we sat together and ate,” she said.

“Ah, that it has,” responded Ahron. “And it is something that we must correct, just as I told your daughter.” Now his tone turned more serious, almost as that of a counselor. “And what of Chaim? How has he been since I saw him last?”

“He is good,” she responded thoughtfully. “He remains the same, as always, as steady as a rock.”

“Well, that came be a good thing, I suppose. Do I take that to mean that he is still at odds with God over his past?” asked Ahron, in a disappointed tone. “Will that man’s anger never cease?”

Elisheva sighed. “I don’t know Ahron. Sometimes I think it will, but then something comes along that seems to refresh his anger anew. Like this morning with Tehila talking about her dream and the Messiah…”

“Elisheva, it is a good thing for your child to speak of Jehova and His promised one,” Ahron admonished her confidently. “Chaim suffered greatly a long time ago, and only God will be able to break his heart to let in the truth.”

Elisheva broke her gaze with Ahron and looked at the ground, only for a moment. She looked back up, this time with a small tear forming in the corner of her eye.

“I hope you are right Ahron. It pains me to see him keep blaming God for what happened to him.”

Ethan had been standing at a distance since his mother and Tehila had seen Ahron and moved to his stall, but the boy was not so far off that he couldn’t hear what was said by the jovial friend of his family. He now cut through the hustle and bustle of the passers by to join the conversation, carrying a basket of fruit.

“Hello sir. Mother, I have the fruit we came for. Is there anything else we need before we go home?”

Ahron broke the conversation with Elisheva to look at Ethan as he approached. “And what of this one, is he still following in his father’s footsteps?”

“Footsteps?” questioned Ethan.

“He means, are you still taking on your father’s doubts about God,” explained Elisheva. “Well, are you?”

Ethan thought for a moment, letting his gaze fall somewhere between him and his mother. “Well… I just don’t understand why God would punish father for nothing. Why He would take his father and mother and make him suffer so much.”

Ahron let a small smile come to his face, as he clearly understood what the boy was going through. He reached across to grasp his shoulder as he spoke.

“Ethan, have you not heard the story of Job and his wondrous faith? Of how he suffered much, but did so to the glory of God? Have you not been told this story?”

“Yes sir, I have,” said Ethan. “But I have never understood why God would make someone to suffer so much, only to give it back to him in greater number. Why was it necessary for God to do that to him? And why has He done it to my father?”

“Ethan,” said Ahron, steadying the boy and attempting to calm his growing emotion, “God used Job to show his people and Satan who was in charge, and what one man and his faith had the power to do. Job never gave up his faith in God, even when his wife and friends begged him to. Maybe this tragedy in your father’s past is a test of his faith as well.”

“But why him?”

“I don not know why,” said Ahron. “I’m sure that Job did not know why he was being tested when he was in the midst of affliction, but his faith ensured that God would provide for him — regardless of what came. In time, I’m sure God will make it evident to your father why he has seen and experienced what he has.”

Ethan pondered the response for a moment, and sought to form one of his own. But, it wouldn’t come.

“Ahron is right, Ethan,” Elisheva interjected. “God will reveal Himself to your father, and then the choice will be up to him.”

Tehila wandered back to the group, leaving a couple of marketplace playmates as their parents gathered their goods and left.

“Mother, are we ready to go yet? There is no one left to play with.”

“Yes, Tehila, we are,” her mother answered, showering a loving smile down on her daughter.

“You have too much to carry,” said Ahron, gesturing to two of his boys. “Avi, Tevya, help my friends carry these goods to their home. And take care to listen to whatever Elisheva tells you, or I will hear of it!”

Ahron gave Elisheva a wink as the two boys helped her and Ethan lighten their load. “Goodbye! May the God of Isaac, Abraham and Jacob bless your house and all those who dwell there.”

∞                ∞                ∞                ∞                ∞

It was midday when Elisheva, Ethan, Tehila and the two boys returned to the Inn from the marketplace. The young girl ran ahead as they approached the rear door, looking to find her father. As she rounded the corner from the kitchen to their living room she saw her father sitting with her grandparents, Ilan and Ofra.

“Bubbee! Zaydee!” exclaimed Tehila, the young girl’s face lighting up and she raced to embrace them. Her grandparents hugged her warmly and kissed her cheeks. “We were just at the market place!”

“That is what your father was telling us child,” Ilan said gently. “Did you make sure your mother has enough for to feed everyone at the inn during the census?”

Ilan shot his daughter a wink and Elisheva smiled. “I think we have enough to feed all of Bethlehem for a day. God has provided wonderfully for us.”

Chaim glanced at his wife as he got up from his chair, giving her a frustrated look. “Well since you have arrived I will prepare a room for your parents. While you were gone we have had the inn filling. Shimon and I were barely able to complete our repairs.”

Elisheva moved to her husband and embraced him, looking into his eyes and smiling. “This is a good thing my husband, yes?”

“Of course it is,” he replied. “But with profit also comes more work.”

“Well I have already prepared a room for them, so you have a little less work to do, my husband,” she said. “So you can rest a little yourself.”

Shimon had stood by quietly, but now determined that if he were to have any fun today he had better speak up now.

“Father, my work will not come until later, correct?” the boy asked sheepishly. “May I go and play with my friends until evening?”

Elisheva felt Chaim stiffen in preparation to deliver a rebuke, but caught his glance and smiled. She could always soften him with that look, and she used it now to give her youngest son a break. After a moment, Chaim relaxed and relented.

“Yes,” he said grudgingly. “You need to check the stable and water the animals. But if all else there is in order, you may go. But be back no later than sunset.”

A few moments later he caught wife completely by surprise. “And Ethan, after you help your mother put away the food you may have some time with your friends as well. There still may be a few fish left to catch today.”

The room grew quiet as everyone looked at Chaim in shock.

“What?” he said, his face turning from a slight smile to a forced scowl. “Can I not be generous every now and then? Besides, they will have plenty of work to keep them busy soon enough.”

Shimon shot out the door before his father could change his mind.

“Thank you father,” said a surprised Ethan, and moved to the kitchen to quickly complete his tasks.

Chaim called after them, “Your are welcome. But remember, sunset!”

∞                ∞                ∞                ∞                ∞

Elisheva led her parents upstairs to their room. Like the other rooms of the inn, it was small with a bed, a table and a few chairs. But knowing that her parents would be coming, Elisheva had made sure to have everything just right, including some flowers on the table.

Ofra looked over the room and then to her daughter, a broad smile covering her face. “So how are you my daughter? All appears to be well with you and Chaim and the inn.”

“We are always busy,” said Elisheva. “But you know Chaim. He does his work and takes care of us all very well, but he never lets his guard down for a moment. I was surprised he let the boys off to go with the other children.”

Ofra took her daughter’s face in her hands gently. “He will Eli. He will. When he least expects it, God will show him His heart. I know He will show Chaim His love.”

“And when He does, my daughter,” Ilan added, “Chaim’s heart will soften. I would not have had you marry a man that I did not think was capable of knowing God’s love.”

Elisheva smiled at her parents and sighed. “I just hope that it is soon. Sometimes I fear that his heart will turn to stone, and that the boys will follow after him to the same fate.”

Ilan moved closer, putting his arm around his daughter’s waist, “Jehova has not abandoned His people, including your husband. We have prayed for Chaim continually and know that Jehova will find a way to turn his heart back to Him.”

Elisheva looked lovingly at her parents and then hugged each in turn. “I hope you are right father. I just hope it is soon.”

“I will leave you two to rest. I will see you at supper.”

∞                ∞                ∞                ∞                ∞

As Elisheva emerged from the stairwell, she saw Chaim speaking with couple and explaining the rules of staying at the inn.

“We have a few things to take care of in the market before returning for our room this evening,” said the man. “Is that acceptable?”

“Certainly,” said Chaim. “Your room will be waiting when you return.”

As the man and his wife left, Elisheva approached Chaim and embraced him. “Was that what I think it was my husband?”

“Yes. Yes it was,” he replied, somewhat shocked. “We have sold every room in the inn for the night. I cannot remember a time that we sold out so early in the day.”

Elisheva leaned back and smiled at her husband. “This is marvelous! I shall get to work on the evening meal.” She kissed Chaim’s cheek, moved away from him and into the kitchen.

Chaim stood motionless, surveying the inn’s outer room with his eyes. Business had never been this good. While Roman rule caused a number of hardships for Israel, it seemed that this decree of a census might actually benefit his family.

After a few moments, Chaim’s face once again turned slightly stern. “Well,” he said under his breath, “with something good there always seems to be something bad to follow. We will have to wait and see what our curse is this time.”

The Inn – Chapter 2

Foreword

This story came to me one evening while sitting inside a ‘living Christmas tree’ at Fellowship in the Pass Church in Beaumont, California. It’s a long story and you’re about to read one, so I’ll explain later.

But it occurred to me that no one had ever really tried telling the nativity story from perhaps one of the most misunderstood characters in a relevant Biblical story – the Inn Keeper. I’ve had a few people read it and give input over the years, and I even tried having a theater-type guy take a look at it, but he never got around to it due to his schedule. (Yeah, you know who you are!) So what you read may not be polished as well as it could be. But I did feel it necessary to share this story this Christmas season.

Each chapter will follow in it’s own file.

And so here is my take on the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

The Inn

Chapter 2

The sound of Ethan and Shimon exiting the inn and joining him in the work area broke Chaim’s introspection. Startled, he looked them over, unable to find any words for the moment.

“Father, mother said you were out here and would need our help,” stated Ethan, the older of the two. After a few silent moments passed, he looked his father over more closely. “Father, are you all right?”

Chaim tried a second time to break his thought-induced silence, this time with success.

“Yes. Yes Ethan, I’m fine. Just thinking about things, that’s all,” he said in a sort of broken speech. “Are you two ready to get to work?”

“Not really,” said Ethan. “I’d rather go down to the river with my friends and fish. Could I go, please?”

Chaim shot him a disapproving look. Ethan knew better, especially after last night and the brawl. Somewhere deep in the back of his mind he remembered what it was to be a teenager, but Chaim couldn’t let that become an excuse for his eldest to not learn the things that had to be done to run the inn, especially in case something ever happened to him.

And with that single glance, Ethan knew he was going nowhere.

“With Ethan here, you don’t need me, do you?” Shimon offered innocently. Standing behind Ethan, almost out of sight of his father, he figured now was his best chance to see if he could escape work for a day.

“Actually Shimon, you are going to be doing most of this work,” Chaim said flatly. “Your mother is going to the market place later, and she will need Ethan to go with her to carry her purchases.”

Shimon’s expectant smile quickly faded into disappointment. Ethan allowed a small grin to escape his lips, but hid it when his father looked to him to hold one of the table legs in place.

“Hold that steady for me while I replace the wedge to repair it,” commanded Chaim. And with a nod of his head, assigned his younger son to another task. “Shimon, you can get started on one of those stools over there.”

Chaim sought to lineup the chair leg and place the wedge at the proper angle to secure it in its hole. He had done this a thousand times it seemed, as things breaking around the inn seemed to be the norm.

“Father, what had Tehila up last night?” Ethan inquired; trying hard to hold the table leg where thought his father needed it.

“Some dream she had,” he said, continuing to work.

“It wasn’t just some dream father,” exclaimed Tehila as she bounded from the house and into the early morning sun. “It was the most wonderful dream I’ve ever had! It was so pretty and everyone was so happy!”

“Are you sure you weren’t just dreaming about your doll again,” interjected Shimon from the back of the work stall, looking to illicit a reaction from his sister.

“You leave me and my doll alone Shimon!” she shouted, turning to look at him with a cross expression and her hands on her hips. “Well, since my dream was so good, I think she would have been very happy about it too … if I could only find her to see it.”

“Yeah, well that’s one doll that ain’t ever gonna see anything, at least not for a while,” thought Shimon as he chuckled to himself. Being the family antagonist, he had his hid sister’s doll in the bottom of a grain basket where it would be found … eventually.

Chaim looked at his daughter, and then to his younger son, conveying a look of disapproval to the latter. He knew that Shimon knew where Tehila’s doll was, but what was he to do. At that age, Chaim knew he was involved in the same kind of mischief with his own siblings.

Chaim began hammering the wedge into the chair leg as Elisheva came out of the house, dressed and ready for her journey into the marketplace.

“So, is my strong-backed son ready to go yet?” She asked, looking over their project.

“He will be in a minute, mother,” replied Chaim. “I just need to get this table ready. It was the only one broken badly last night. Shimon and I can handle the chairs and other things that need repair.”

A few more whacks with the hammer and the leg was secure. Ethan helped his father turn the table upright, and both put a little weight on it to check its sturdiness. A quick glance at each other and they knew it was ready to go back inside the inn.

“Okay mother, he is all yours,” proclaimed Chaim. “And you,” he said turning on one heel and pointing at Shimon, “are mine!”

The boy stopped his work for the moment to look at his father, knowing that there would be little playing today. He bent back over and got back to working on the small stool’s broken leg.

“Come on Tehila,” said Elisheva, starting to walk away, an ever-growing grin spreading over her face. “When we get back, we’ll get your doll out of the grain basket in the kitchen.”

Tehila shot an angry look back at Shimon, who looked dumb struck at his mother as she grabbed the girl’s hand and led her out the gate. “How could she have known?” he mumbled to himself.

“She always knows,” said Chaim. “That’s what mother’s do.”

 

∞                ∞                ∞                ∞                ∞

 

The walk through the morning sun was pleasant, and Elisheva loved the sounds, scents and activity of the market. Her trips to get food and supplies for the inn were one of her rare chances to see friends and socialize, even with two children in tow.

As they neared the first few stalls, Tehila began questioning her mother.

“Do you really think that God will send us a May-Suh to save us,” she queried.

“That’s Messiah, my beautiful little girl,” Elisheva said laughing and placing her hand on Tehila’s head. “He promised us He would, and God has never lied to us before.”

“But why does father not think that the May-Si-uh will come?” she continued.

Elisheva decided to think about her answer carefully, but that only provided a chance for Ethan to jump in with his own response.

“Because God failed him when he was little,” he said with a snap, “and He hasn’t exactly taken great care of us, has He?”

“Ethan!” exclaimed his mother, stepping right into his path and pushing her face in front of his. “Watch yourself! Do not dare take that tone when speaking of Jehovah! Where did you get such an idea, or hear such a thing?”

But before she had asked the question, she knew the answer. Her husband had never been one to hide his emotions or his opinions. And from the look on his face, Elisheva knew that Ethan had inherited some his father’s lack of faith, if nothing else than by example.

The two stood close for a few moments before Ethan dropped his eyes to look at the dust. He felt slightly ashamed, knowing he had hurt his mother, still wanting to expound on his beliefs, but knowing that now was not the time to fight the battle.

Elisheva, knew turmoil that must be going on in Shimon’s head and felt the anger with her eldest son begin to subside, giving way to a mother’s love and her need to let him grow up … even if it was just a little bit at a time.

“Ethan,” she said, putting her hand to his chin and raising his eyes to meet her own, “What do we need that we do not have?”

She searched his eyes, and could tell that he was searching over a laundry list of things that he thought they should have, but didn’t really need.

“Ethan, God gives us what we need and even more,” she said. “God gives us food, clothing, a place to live. You do not see us sitting at the gate of the city and begging, do you?”

Ethan looked down, but did not attempt to remove his head from his mother’s hand. After a few moments, he shook his head in acknowledgement.

“And we have a wonderful family. Your father, brother and even your little sister,” she continued.

“Yeah! You have me! Don’t forget about me!” Tehila yelled, moving to his side and squeezing his leg with all the strength her small arms could muster “I love you Ethan!”

Ethan looked down at his sister as his mother released his chin and looked down at Tehila as well. Both smiled, but then Ethan’s face turned serious again as he looked back at his mother.

“But mother,” he said in a questioning tone, “why would God take father’s family from him they He did? Why would He make someone suffer the way He made father suffer?”

Elisheva could feel the conflict in her son. She knew he wasn’t trying to be disrespectful or just win the point, but he desperately wanted to know why God had apparently acted with such disregard toward his father, and her husband.

“I don’t know for sure Ethan,” she said, cupping his cheek lovingly and softly stroking his skin. “But we do know that God allowed Joseph to be torn away from his family and imprisoned before he was restored to a position of great authority under Pharaoh. And he not only saved the lives of his father and brothers, but of many in Egypt as well when the drought came.”

Elisheva paused, looking her son up and down, then resting back on his face and looking deep into his eyes.

“Maybe, just maybe, God has something as special planned for your father.”

In a quiet voice, Ethan replied, “I hope you are right mother. For father’s sake, I hope you are right.”

“You will see Ethan,” Elisheva said, beginning to smile slightly. “God will show you wondrous things, even if they are the simple things of everyday life.”

A few moments passed and Ethan allowed a small smile to escape his lips as well. But the tender moments lasted only briefly.

“Can we go to the market now?” asked Tehila.

“Yes my daughter,” said her mother, draping her other hand over her shoulder. “We have much to do today and many things to get for the inn. Let’s get going.”

 

∞                ∞                ∞                ∞                ∞

 

By midmorning, Chaim and Shimon had repaired most of the damaged furniture from the previous night’s brawl. The two carried the various pieces of furniture inside and put them in the hallways and rooms from which they came. As Chaim exited one of the rooms, he noticed a man in dark red robes standing at the front of the inn.

Alon stood in the doorway, a commanding presence that seemed to affect everyone around him. He was tall and statuesque, with dark gray hair that showed the number of his years. He looked at Chaim as he entered the room and smiled, the only surviving son of his childhood friend, Nahal.

“Welcome Alon. How are you today?” asked Chaim.

“I feel good, Chaim,” said Alon, moving to Chaim’s side, throwing an arm around his shoulder and smiling. “I hear you had some excitement here last night, is that true?”

Chaim began to retell the story of the night’s event, but knew that the guards had probably told Alon all he needed to know already. It was just like him to know exactly what was going on with his life, even if Chaim never told him. And being one of Bethlehem’s better-known Pharisees, Alon had all the right connections to get the word on anything and anyone that he decided to concern himself with. And for the last 27 years, he had concerned himself with Chaim and his family.

As a young boy, Alon had grown up just a few doors down the road from Chaim’s father. They played together, got in trouble together and even did a little work together. As they got older, they became the best of friends. And when Nahal and his family had been murdered, it was Alon that had come along side Chaim and assumed the role of his father.

Chaim appreciated the effort, but it just wasn’t the same as his own father. He knew that while Alon was a Pharisee and was supposed to know all about God and His laws, that Alon and the other Pharisees rarely kept them unless it was convenient for them to do so. It was frustrating to hear how great and awesome God was, only to have the man telling you do the opposite half the time. And it seemed that no matter what it was that they said God wanted done on earth, or at least in Bethlehem, the Pharisees always seemed to be the ones that benefited the most from it.

“Well, that is an interesting turn of events,” said Alon as Chaim finished his story. “But, it looks like you have the place back in order, do you not?”

“It’s getting there, and it seems just in time as well,” Chaim said, looking out the door and into the busy street.

“Yes, there do seem to be a lot of people in the city these days,” said Alon, seeming to share Chaim’s gaze. “But that is only to be expected with the census taking place. There are many returning to Bethlehem to be counted, and many passing to the north to reach Jerusalem or to the south to Hebron and Bethsura.”

Chaim didn’t really need the geography lesson. He knew the area as we’ll as everyone else did, but his surrogate father wanted to make sure that Chaim knew that he knew.

“Well, hopefully it will mean a good season for us before winter,” Chaim said expectantly. “With any luck, the inn should be filled by sun down.”

“I’m sure God will grant it to you, Chaim,” Alon said, as though he were personally assuring the occurrence. “I must be going now. The Sanhedrin has called a meeting in the temple to discuss some matters of importance and I cannot be late.”

“Alon, has someone committed a crime?” queried Chaim.

“No. I believe it has something to do with prophesy,” said the Pharisee, almost as though it were an annoyance. “Someone claiming they know something of coming events, of prophecies foretold by Micah, that sort of thing. How would it be possible for someone not of the Sanhedrin to know of such things when God’s servants do not? It’s absurd!”

Chaim looked at Alon and wanted to say something, but he knew better. He had far too much work to accomplish to spend time arguing with his is self-appointed surrogate father.

“Well, good luck and safe journey, Alon,” offered Chaim.

Alon took his leave, shooting a ‘thank you’ over his shoulder as he exited the building, waving to someone in the street.

 

The Inn – Chapter 1

Foreword

This story came to me one evening while sitting inside a ‘living Christmas tree’ at Fellowship in the Pass Church in Beaumont, California. It’s a long story and you’re about to read one, so I’ll explain later.

But it occurred to me that no one had ever really tried telling the nativity story from perhaps one of the most misunderstood characters in a relevant Biblical story – the Inn Keeper. I’ve had a few people read it and give input over the years, and I even tried having a theater-type guy take a look at it, but he never got around to it due to his schedule. (Yeah, you know who you are!) So what you read may not be polished as well as it could be. But I did feel it necessary to share this story this Christmas season.

Each chapter will follow in it’s own file.

And so here is my take on the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

The Inn

Chapter 1

Dawn always came early to the City of David, as it sat atop the mountains facing the east and the Wilderness of Judea. The valley majestically rolled out before Bethlehem, with the Dead Sea shimmering like a blanket of gems in the early morning light.

The sun poured over the small town, waking its citizenry from their peaceful slumber. The rays worked their way into the windows of the small inn towards the back of the city. It was here that Chaim awoke with the dawn each day to begin the work of providing for his wife, Elisheva, and their children.

He rolled out of their bed, trying not to wake his wife too early. She, like him, would have more than enough work to keep her busy and he knew she could use all the rest she could get. Chaim slipped on his sandals and quietly moved across the floor to the door, exiting the room and heading toward the front of the inn.

Chaim made his way to the family’s water supply, drawing a ladle full from the bucket and take a long drink. He let the cool water trickle down his throat in satisfaction, looking out at the rising sun between gulps as it shone brightly through the window.

As promising as most days seemed with every new sunrise, Chaim only wondered what work each day would bring. And no matter how much business the small inn did, it never seemed enough to satisfy him. His mood was always mixed with a scent of bitterness that seemed to have no end. And in Chaim’s mind, it never would.

His few moments of solitude were quickly broken by the sound of his daughter, Tehila, bounding through the door to find someone else awake.

“Good morning father!” exclaimed the little 8-year-old, as she jumped into her father’s arms.

“Good morning Tehila,” he responded thoughtfully, in a low tone, allowing the ladle in his hands to plunge back into the bucket with a splash. “How did you sleep last night?”

She could hardly contain her excitement. “Not very good father! I was so excited all night I could hardly sleep!”

“Excited? About what?” he inquired. “And try to keep your voice down, your mother and brothers are still sleeping.”

“I don’t know father,” Tehila replied in a loud whisper, trying futilely to contain her emotions and getting a little louder with every word. “Every time I’d fall asleep, I’d have a wonderful dream and then wake up again!”

Chaim was glad to see his daughter so excited, but was still trying to keep her from waking the rest of the inn just yet. But it was all in vain.

“Be quieter my child,” he exhorted her in a stern whisper. “Now, what is this dream that kept waking you all night?”

Tehila hunched over so as to be quieter. It seemed to help, but only for a few moments.

“I don’t know exactly father,” she bubbled over in an excited whisper. Her father looked perplexed. “I would see a baby and then everyone was singing and shouting and they were so excited. And all of these people in white, with wings, were flying in the night sky and singing. How could one baby make everyone so happy, father?”

Chaim’s countenance dimmed, and he stared out the window blankly.

“One baby can’t do that, Tehila. No one can.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that my husband.” The voice was clearly that of Elisheva as she entered the room. “I think you know better than that, don’t you?”

Chaim’s face now turned stern, bordering on angry.

“No. I believed that there might be someone like that a long time ago, but that was before I learned that God has forsaken us to ourselves,” he said with a scowl. “That was before…”

“Chaim!” exclaimed Elisheva, taking Tehila from him quickly and covering the young girl’s ears awkwardly. “Do not poison your daughter with your bitterness. You may not think so, but God has been gracious to us, and one day His Messiah will come. Maybe not when we expect it, or even before we die, but He will come.”

Elisheva dropped Tehila to the ground, where she landed and immediately looked back up to her mother.

“What’s a May-suh mother?” said Tehila, reaching up to try and put her arms around Elisheva’s neck.

Elisheva looked to Chaim, who turned away with a solemn look and headed out the door. “I have work to do after last night,” he said.

Elisheva looked back down at her inquiring daughter. “The Messiah is God’s promised one, who will deliver His people and establish His kingdom on this earth. He will come to reign over us and to love us.”

Tehila looked perplexed. It was obvious that the wheels in her mind were working hard to figure out what that all meant, but she just couldn’t sort it out.

“So how could a little baby do all that?” she asked innocently.

Elisheva looked at her daughter for a moment, knowing there was no single answer that would explain it all, at least not to an inquisitive 8-year-old.

“With God’s help and power and love, Tehila,” she said giving her daughter a warm embrace. “The same way we do all the things God wants us to do everyday.”

 

∞                ∞                ∞                ∞                ∞

 

Chaim sat at the stool near his tools and looked at the chairs and tables lying in need of repair. A few of the guests the night before had returned to the inn after drinking far too much. Words had been exchanged, threats made and before long a fight ensued. In the melee the combatants had thrown each other around their rooms and the hallways of the inn, breaking furniture and causing Chaim to have to send for the centurions. The guards from the Roman Cohort stopped the fight and carted the men off into the night, but not before the men had damaged several pieces of furniture along the way.

But his mind was hardly on the work at hand. Instead, Chaim’s conversation with Elisheva and Tehila a few moments before had got him thinking back to how he had inherited the inn. It was nothing pleasant, and the whole event had stained Chaim’s being all the way to his soul.

Chaim had worked at the inn with his father and mother, Nahal and Raisa. Like he did now, they ran it as a family and it provided well for them. Chaim was courting Elisheva then, and Nahal would constantly remind Chaim that one day he would have to either find a way to provide for his family on his own, or wait for him to grow old or die so that he could take over the family business. At the time, Chaim had no idea how close to reality his father’s latter suggestion really was.

One night, after his parents had purchased a substantial amount of food and supplies for the inn, robbers broke in and looted the goods. Nahal had caught them in the act, and in the process of trying to stop them was killed. The robbers then decided that they should make sure there were no witnesses, and set about killing Chaim’s mother and four younger brothers. Chaim fought bravely, and his life was spared only when the Roman guards showed up and stopped the attack.

For many months afterward Chaim was in a deep depression, questioning God as to why such a horrible thing to was allowed to happen and why he was left alive to deal with it. Chaim’s parents had always held true to all of the Jewish practices and sacrifices, and had spent a great deal of time engraining them into Chaim and his brothers.

He had always believed that God would send His Messiah to the Hebrews, and that they would be His servants when He came to establish His kingdom on earth. Back then, Chaim longed to be alive and see it firsthand. Now, it seemed that everything that his parents had taught him was a lie. How could a God that loved His people allow this to happen to one of them, much less a whole family? It made no sense, and Chaim determined that it never would.

With great sorrow, ownership of the inn had passed to Chaim. And while it provided a way for his soon-to-be wife and he to support themselves, it served as a constant reminder that God had deserted him and his family after a lifetime of worship and service.

As he sat staring at the projects that he had before him, he felt the sorrow  and anger wash over him again. And as he did so, Chaim felt the betrayal burn in him once more. He wasn’t angry with Elisheva for correcting him or even telling Tehila that the Messiah would come one day. He felt disappointment that his daughter and two boys, Ethan and Shimon, would grow up with a faith that was misplaced at best. But he figured that they, like him, would eventually figure out that either it was all a lie or that God just took delight in toying with those who chose to follow Him.

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