Mr. J. Fish, Mr. M. Slim, and Mr. Kr. Stan walk into a coffee shop.
“Hi, boys. Isn’t it late to be drinking coffee?” The flamboyant barista asks. Mr. Kr. Stan leans over and whispers something in the barista’s ear.
“Yes, sir. Right away, sir.” The barista responds. The barista pulls a lever behind the counter and a door opens behind the coffee display.
The three men walk through the door, each carrying a heavy bag. They head down a sterile corridor illuminated by fluorescent lighting. The corridor smelt like a swimming pool. At the end of the hall is an elevator with no buttons. They enter the elevator and start to ascend. Many floors fly by until the door finally opens. They have reached their destination.
They approach a row of machines. There were so many machines. It looked like the ceiling itself was held up by these square apparatuses. Mr. J. Fish takes the contents of his bag out and puts them inside a machine, he then mumbles something and sits down on a chair. Mr. M. Slim follows and does the same. Mr. Kr. Stan looks around, and slowly approaches the third machine. But instead of taking out the contents of his bag, he sniffs them, cringes and throws the whole bag in. Then also sits down.
“Hey bros, what are you three dudes doing here?” a voice was heard from across the room. That was the voice of ignorance, and hate. That was the voice of a boy that will grow up and will lead people, without truly understanding what it is that he is leading them to. The voice of the boy that will stop the world from spinning and the sun from shining.
Mr. J. Fish, Mr. M. Slim, and Mr. Kr. Stan turned their heads to face the boy. The three then looked at each other and came to a consensus without words.
“Come here boy, we have some time to kill… Let us educate you, so that hopefully you will be able to lead people through knowledge and enlightenment, and not through hatred and fear,” said Mr. M. Slim.
“Nah bro, I don’t swing that way,” the boy replied. But he knew deep inside that he kind of did “swing that way”… so he sat down next to the three men.
“You, my son, are an imbecile. Now listen to Mr. J. Fish, you might learn a thing or two. Try to read between the lines, as they say.” Said Mr. Kr. Stan to the boy pointing at Mr. J. Fish.
“Man… All three of you are horrible. I know what each one of you have done. The horrendous acts you have committed through history. I do not trust any of you. I would rather follow that science fiction writer. What’s his name…?” Said the boy.
He pulled out his phone and opened up the Twitter app. The boy was very worried about the termite population. He was worried about how the mites would hold up with the decrease in production of the wooden chair and an increase in the plastic chair industry. He followed the twitter feed #biteformite to see if there were any developments on this concerning matter. Later on today he was meeting up with some of his friends. They plan to walk around and bite unsuspecting people on the street to raise awareness for the mites, maybe even raise some money to build sanctuaries for the termites. What will happen to the termites if there will be no more wooden stools? Where will the termites find wood? Those were serious concerns.
Mr. J. Fish began, allowing the boy’s comment to pass unnoticed. “We will tell you three stories; you will listen to all three. You will make your own assumptions and come to your own conclusions. This time your convictions will have a basis though, a foundation. What you do with this foundation will be entirely up to you. Make sure you make your own opinions and do not judge others without knowing their story and looking unto yourself first. The first story is about the Jewish people, my people. Listen, and do not interrupt…”
“It all started long ago with a man named Abraham, he was born in Ur, modern Iraq. He saw a vision of God and was instructed to go to Canaan, the land of Israel, where he and his children would live and follow God’s teachings.
They would become an example to the rest of the people and the world would be as God wanted it to be. You see, for many years before Abraham, the world was a disaster, God wanted the Jewish people to fix it.
Abraham married Sarah, but she was barren, so he took a surrogate wife named Hagar (she was apparently the pharaoh’s daughter). They have a child by the name of Ishmael.” Mr. J. Fish nodded at the Mr. M. Slim and continued, “He did not carry on Abraham’s mission, but started his own race. Muhammad was his descendant; he was the father of Islam. But that is not my story. My story continues with Isaac, Abraham’s second son, magically born from Sarah when she was ninety and Abraham was ninety nine.
Isaac followed his father’s footsteps. He married Rebecca and they had twin boys. Jacob and Esau. You see… the two boys were very different… Jacob was a scholar while Esau was a fighter. Isaac liked Esau more, because he was a fighter and because he was a couple minutes older than Jacob. Rebecca liked Jacob more and made sure that he was the one to receive his father’s blessing.
This angered Esau and his descendants became the great enemies of the Jews. The Amalekites. The nation is not identifiable anymore, but it is our belief that Amalekites are still around embodying anti semitism.
Anyway, Rebecca was worried for Jacob’s safety. Afraid of Esau, she sends Jacob to live with her brother in Haran, present day Turkey. Her brother Laban, not a very nice guy, he made Jacob work for his daughter’s (Rachel) hand, whom Jacob loved. He then tricked Jacob into marrying Leah (his other daughter) and Zilpah (the housemaid) too. Jacob fathered twelve sons and one daughter from them. Their descendants would become the twelve tribes of israel.
Now… You better not forget their names. There will be a quiz in the end, ha-ha: Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Ephraim and Manasseh. Just kidding… or not…
Anyway… all of Jacob’s children followed the Jewish traditions. God then comes to Jacob and tells him that he needs him to return to Canaan with his family. So, Jacob packs up and leaves for Canaan. On his way he meets with Esau who is still mad at him, but offers to travel together. Jacob declines.
Hey… Are you snoring?” Mr. J. Fish exclaims.
Mr. M. Slim smacks the sleeping boy on the head. The boy jumps up startled. This awakens Mr. Kr. Stan who was also sleeping… he had heard this story thousands of times.
“Now listen…” Continued Mr. J. Fish. “Jacob’s 11th son was Joseph. He was Jacob’s favorite because Joseph was Rachel’s first son, the second was Benjamin. Joseph’s other brothers were jealous, and frankly found him to be a bit of a loose cannon, so they sold him into slavery. He was taken to Egypt to serve under a man named Potiphar.
Things don’t get much better for the boy from there. Potiphar’s wife had a thing for Joseph, and when he refuses her advances he is thrown in jail. The boy had a talent though, he could interpret dreams very well and he practiced his ability on the prisoners.
One of the prisoners was a baker, who when released from jail went to serve for the Pharaoh of Egypt. The Pharaoh had nightmares, and upon hearing of Joseph’s talents, from the baker, summoned him. That’s when it all turned around for Joseph.
Joseph interprets the dreams of the Pharaoh and declares that there will be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. The Pharaoh believes him and makes him the viceroy of Egypt. Just like that, Joseph is in charge of all of the stockpiles and infrastructure. Pretty cool eh?
When the famine finally hits after seven years, Jacob sends ten of his sons in search of provisions, all except for Benjamin. After some traveling, they end up in egypt, in front of Joseph. He does not reveal himself though, he needs to test the brothers to prove that they are still… cool… as you youngsters say.
He had a pretty interesting idea: He told the brothers to bring Benjamin, he then planted a silver cup in Benjamin’s bag and accused him of theft. He then told the brothers that if they sell Benjamin into slavery then he will let them go. Judah, the fourth brother and the leader, offered himself instead, proving that they have changed their old ways.
Joseph reveals himself and a heartfelt reunion follows. The whole family is then invited into Egypt. Seventy Jews enter Egypt and within a very short time the population rises to three million.
After many years, after the brothers are long gone, the Pharaohs start to get nervous. Too many Jews are now living in Egypt. The Pharaoh decides to solve the problem by killing all of the Jewish boys.
One mother, worried for her son, puts him in a basket and sends him down the river. Can you guess who this boy was?”
“I don’t know man, it’s your story!” said the arrogant boy.
“It was Moses, you dimwit. The daughter of the Pharaoh finds him and raises him as her own. He has a pretty good childhood as the Pharaoh’s grandson. But one day he sees an Egyptian beating a Jew and he kills him. The Jews, themselves, inform on Moses and he is forced to flee. In his travels he sees the famous burning bush and hears God’s voice telling him that he needs to free the Jews from Egypt.
He returns to the Pharaoh and demands that the Jews be freed. The Pharaoh did not oblige. Moses then unleashed the ten plagues on egypt: blood, frogs, lice, flies, diseased livestock, boils, thunderstorm of hail and fire, locusts, darkness for three days and death of firstborn. On the final plague the Pharaoh gives in and allows Moses to leave with his people. But, the restless Pharaoh would not let it go though and followed Moses across the desert. To get away from the pursuers Moses famously parted the red sea, crosses it and then closes it behind himself right on top of the Egyptian army.
After wandering the desert for some time Moses and his people came to Mount Sinai. At Mount Sinai God talks to the people. God tells the Jewish people of the ten commandments:
I am the LORD thy God…
Thou shalt have no other gods.
No graven images or likenesses.
Not take the LORD’s name in vain.
Remember the Sabbath day.
Honour thy father and thy mother.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness.
Thou shalt not covet.
Moses then goes up the mountain to talk to God. He is gone forty days. The people are anxious by the fortieth day and start to worship an idol that they have created. When Moses comes down the mountain, he is very displeased at the sight of the golden calf. He breaks the tablets that God wrote. He also destroys the idol and kills all the people responsible for it. He then goes back up the mountain again for forty days to write a new set of tablets.
After Forty days, he returns with the new set of tablets and instructions of how to build a sanctuary for God. A sanctuary where the tablets would be kept. The wooden box containing the commandments was called the ark of Covenant. This box was believed to hold tremendous power… The ark is lost to us now.”
“Indiana jones and the raiders of the lost ark, Bro,” The boy interrupts. After which he promptly receives another smack from Mr. Kr. Stan.
Mr. J. Fish continued:
“The people spend a year at Mount Sinai, then pick up the Ark and go to the land of Israel. Before entering Canaan though, they sent out scouts, one from each tribe to see what lay ahead. The scouts all came back with bad news except for two. The people got scared, they were afraid that they would not be able to conquer the people living in the area.
God was mad at this distrust and forces the people to wander another forty years through the desert before they could enter the holy land. He wanted the generation that was afraid to enter to die out so a new more trusting generation would lead the people of Israel. During the travels, Moses became annoyed with the people and publically displayed his anger. God did not like that and forbade Moses from ever entering Israel.
After forty years the Hebrews finally arrive at Canaan. Joshua assumes leadership after Moses dies. God tells him that he needs to eradicate the seven Canaan tribes living in the area because they will be a bad influence. Joshua and the twelve tribes conquer the Canaan land with God’s help and settle there.
At that time they did not have a king, and were governed by “Judges”. The Judges were religious leaders who took it upon themselves to govern the tribes. They did a pretty good job fighting off the Canaan tribes. Samuel was the last of the judges. He appoints the first king of the Jews, king Saul.
King Saul was a good man, but too humble to be a good ruler. So, Samuel went in search of the next king to succeed Saul. He chose David from Jesse’s (a farmer) eight sons in Bethlehem. David was chosen to succeed Saul, but was not yet appointed king, he would have to wait for Saul’s reign to be over.
David was destined to be great…
During a battle with the Philistines a champion was chosen to fight against the Jewish people. His name was Goliath. He was incredibly big… I mean huge! He called upon the champion of Israel to challenge him. Nobody wanted to face this giant. Except for David, he was outraged at the profanities that the giant was screaming and armed with just a sling shot defeated the colossal man.
David becomes a celebrity. This makes Saul jealous, so David is forced to hide from him. But then Saul dies in battle and David is appointed king of the Jews. His lineage is thereafter considered the royal bloodline, from which (was foretold) the final messiah will come.
David as king is able to fully subdue the Philistines and conquer Jerusalem for the Jewish people. He wastes no time in bringing the Ark to Jerusalem. His great plan involved building a permanent temple to hold the ark, but God would not allow it, because of the tremendous amount of blood that David has spilled on the battlefield. He does promise that David’s son will build the great temple, though.
David fathers a son, Solomon, from Bathsheba. He does so by stealing her away from a general and sending the general to his death. David was not proud of this, and God was angry, so for years David repented for his mistake.
David dies and Solomon becomes king. Solomon was a wise man, not only in a religious sense but also in the sciences.
Solomon builds the temple that David dreamt of. The people of Israel at that time live in peace and spirituality, able to feel God’s presence at every corner. This was the closest thing to the world that God wanted for the Jewish people.
After Solomon’s death it all went downhill for the jews, again. The northern part separated from the south, and starts to worship Idols.
At the same time the Assyrian civilization rose to power. They conquer the northern tribes and following their idea of “exile”, migrate the conquered people to a different area and bring new settlers in to live in the conquered land. The new people were the Samaritans. The Samaritans adopt Judaism, but are never accepted by the Jews.
The ten northern tribes that are conquered, assimilate and are now considered the ten lost tribes of Israel. Assyria then sets their sights on the southern kingdom of Judah, the two remaining tribes, Judah and Benjamin. King Hezekiah fortifies Jerusalem and when Sennacherib attacks, a plague hits his army and he is forced to retreat. Leaving Jerusalem unharmed.
Then Babylon takes over Assyria and wages war on Jerusalem. Babylonians enter the city, kill many people and destroy the great temple. The Babylonians then move the remaining Jews into Babylon. There the Jews are left alone and are allowed to practice their religion as long as they dont bother anyone.
Then Cyrus of Persia invades Babylon. He allows the Jews to return to Jerusalem. Forty two thousand jews went home and started to rebuild. Darius helped the Jews rebuild the temple, but it was never as good as Solomon’s. The Ark of the Covenant was missing and God was not felt throughout the city anymore. There were no more prophets. The great assembly was established to lead the people and keep record of the Torah. The assembly was a collection of people who took it upon themselves to assemble the Hebrew Bible –the Tanakh”
“Old Testament,” interrupted the Mr. Kr. Stan.
“Yes, it is also called the “Old Testament” by the Christians.” Continues Mr. J. Fish, “The Persians were good to the Jews, they allowed the Jewish people to flourish. This was not the case when the Greek take power.
When Alexander the great took over Persia he did not destroy the Jewish city. He just absorbed it, he was a good guy. Alexander conquered lands, but did not destroy them. Instead he Hellenised them, made them adopt the Greek ways. Jerusalem was different from other conquered lands. The people did not want to absorb the traditions of the Greeks, they were happy with their own. For a while, the Greeks let it slide, but not for too long
After a while, the Greeks used extreme measure to try and convert the Jews. For example: they did not allow the Jews to keep Sabbath and circumcise their children. The penalty for which would often be death. When the Jews had enough they revolted, this was termed the revolt of Maccabees.
One day during the revolt, the Jews return to their temple. They find it converted to a pagan worship site, and they become trapped behind the temple walls. They managed to survive for eight days through miracle, using oil (that could not possibly last that long) to light the menorah. Hanukkah is now celebrated to remember this miracle.
After twenty five years of fighting, a peace agreement was reached. The land of Israel belonged to the Jews once again.
The Jews did an interesting thing then, they forcefully converted the Hasmoneans to Judaism. Which was unheard of. Jews in general did not like conversion. This will come back to bite them.
Then came the Romans. A vast empire intent on conquering everything in their path.
When the romans finally finished of the Greeks, General Pompey entered Israel. The romans slaughtered many Jews and instituted their own puppet leader. Israel became the Roman province of Judea.
The Romans would eventually destroy the second temple and the Jewish people would scatter all over the world.”
“BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.” The story was interrupted by three high pitched beeping sounds.
Mr. J. Fish, Mr. M. Slim, And Mr. Kr. Stan synchronically stood up from their seats. As if performing a ritual, they opened the machines, looked inside, closed them again and returned to their seats.
The boy was amazed. He has not seen anything like this for a while.
He was kind of getting into the story now and wanted to know the rest, but it seemed that Mr. J. Fish has retreated into deep thought.
“Hey man, are you going to continue or what?” Asked the boy. (We call him a boy because of his relative age to the other three men. In reality he is twenty-six years old, a man now ready to take on the world… and save the termites.)
“No,” said Mr. J. Fish “I had my turn, it is now up to Mr. M. Slim.”
“Let me tell you a story…” Mr. M. Slim began…
TO BE CONTINUED…