From “Standing Next To A Miracle”

Fear Not
Peggy Perry @ 2014

     “I can’t believe it! Betrayed by my own brother! Joseph, of all people!” Deborah looked around, startled, as her husband James slammed into the house and flung himself onto the cushions beside the dining table.
“What do you mean, betrayed?” she demanded.
James banged his fist on the table. “He’s going to keep her! He’s actually going to marry that – that whore! I went over there to help drag her out of the city and stone her for her adultery and he refused to let us have her! And worst of all, he says that he had a dream that God told him to marry her and keep the child! He’s gone mad!”
Deborah snorted, making her husband stare at her in surprise. “More likely he thinks like I do, that she was assaulted and lost her mind, and needs help, not punishment by stoning. She’s obviously trying to block out the attack, probably by someone passing through in a traders’ caravan, and has settled on this ridiculous story of an angel telling her she’s carrying the Messiah. That’s no reason to stone her. I can’t believe you’d suggest it.”
His jaw dropped. “No reason! What are you – she’s – it’s the law, woman!” he sputtered.
“It’s the law to kill a child – and that’s all she is, even though she’s about to be married – for being attacked? When did it become a crime to be a victim?” His wife flung her cleaning cloth down and glared at him with her fists planted on her hips.
James leaped up and began to pace from one end of the room to the other. He waved his arms about in agitation. “The book of the law says she must be stoned for adultery! Even if she was attacked, if it happened anywhere around people, she should have screamed for help! Otherwise she’s considered guilty of adultery! Why, even if Joseph is the father of that baby, it’s still considered adultery and he could be punished too!”
His wife was unimpressed. “Should have screamed for help, you say? What idiot came up with that?”
James choked. “It is the word of the Lord, woman! Do you want to be struck down, calling the Holy One an idiot?”
She shook her head. “I don’t believe it, not for a minute.”
His jaw dropped again. “Are you calling me a liar?”
She waved her hand. “Not you. I just don’t believe the Creator of the universe would think anyone would always have the chance to scream for help – and actually get it – in time to stop an attack. It sounds more like that came from some foolish man who had never been in trouble.”
Her husband began to sputter again, but she pointed her finger at him. “What happened when that merchant friend of yours got robbed? Hmm? Where did it happen? Remember that? It was only a month ago!”
James sank back onto the cushions. “He was leaving the marketplace with his moneybag. He was passing an alley when he was attacked.”
Deborah nodded. “Uh-huh. And as I recall, he even had his son who is quite large and who had a weapon along as a guard, didn’t he? And what happened?”
Her spouse stared down at his hands, clenched on the table before him. “They were both hit over the head and knocked unconscious.”
“Did they yell for help?”
“No, they were struck before they even saw anybody.”
“So tell me now, why should Mary be blamed for winding up pregnant and so traumatized she claims an angel was speaking to her? She’s obviously trying to ignore what happened. It’s also probably why she immediately went to see her cousin right after it happened.”
James dropped his head into his hands. “But, Deborah, you have to understand! We must obey the laws! Our Lord told us what would happen if we did not, and it has come true every time! That is how those cursed Romans came to be our conquerors right now! We were warned, and we ignored it! Now our people suffer and if we don’t obey His word, more evil will come upon us! We can’t just pick and choose what we will obey! Whether the child is Joseph’s or a stranger’s, she is pregnant out of wedlock and we are ordered by the law to stone her! It’s for the good of our people!”
Deborah sighed and sat beside her husband and took his hand. “James, I think you know I respect you and admire you and I was pleased when our parents arranged our marriage. I have had a very good life with you. You are a wonderful husband and father to our children. But I just cannot believe that something written by men centuries ago is worth the life of a girl who has lost her mind and the life of the baby she carries. Joseph is willing to let it go and marry her anyway. If he doesn’t care, you shouldn’t either. Forget it, James. There are far many more and far worse sins of our people to fret over.”

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