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Chapter 15.

And Nicodemus stood up, and stood before the Sanhedrin, saying:  You say well;18471847    Perhaps better as a question. you are not ignorant, you people of the Lord, of these men that come down from Galilee, that they fear God, and are men of substance, haters of covetousness, men of peace; and they have declared with an oath, We saw Jesus upon the mountain Mamilch with his disciples, and he taught what we heard from him, and we saw him taken up into heaven.  And no one asked them in what form he went up.  For assuredly, as the book of the Holy Scriptures taught us, Helias also was taken up into heaven, and Elissæus cried out 423with a loud voice, and Helias threw his sheepskin upon Elissæus, and Elissæus threw his sheepskin upon the Jordan, and crossed, and came into Jericho.  And the children of the prophets met him, and said, O Elissæus, where is thy master Helias?  And he said, He has been taken up into heaven.  And they said to Elissæus, Has not a spirit seized him, and thrown him upon one of the mountains?  But let us take our servants18481848    Lit., boys. with us, and seek him.  And they persuaded Elissæus, and he went away with them.  And they sought him three days, and did not find him; and they knew he had been taken up.18491849    2 Kings ii. 12–18.  And now listen to me, and let us send into every district of Israel, and see lest perchance Christ has been taken up by a spirit, and thrown upon one of the mountains?  And this proposal pleased all.  And they sent into every district of Israel, and sought Jesus, and did not find Him; but they found Joseph in Arimathæa, and no one dared to lay hands on him.

And they reported to the elders, and the priests, and the Levites:  We have gone round to every district of Israel, and have not found Jesus; but Joseph we have found in Arimathæa.  And hearing about Joseph, they were glad, and gave glory to the God of Israel.  And the rulers of the synagogue, and the priests and the Levites, having held a council as to the manner in which they should meet with Joseph, took a piece of paper, and wrote to Joseph as follows:—

Peace to thee!  We know that we have sinned against God, and against thee; and we have prayed to the God of Israel, that thou shouldst deign to come to thy fathers, and to thy children, because we have all been grieved.  For having opened the door, we did not find thee.  And we know that we have counselled evil counsel against thee; but the Lord has defended thee, and the Lord Himself has scattered to the winds our counsel against thee, O honourable father Joseph.

And they chose from all Israel seven men, friends of Joseph, whom also Joseph himself was acquainted with; and the rulers of the synagogue, and the priests and the Levites, say to them:  Take notice:  if, after receiving our letter, he read it, know that he will come with you to us; but if he do not read it, know that he is ill-disposed towards us.  And having saluted him in peace, return to us.  And having blessed the men, they dismissed them.  And the men came to Joseph, and did reverence to him, and said to him:  Peace to thee!  And he said:  Peace to you, and to all the people of Israel!  And they gave him the roll of the letter.  And Joseph having received it, read the letter and rolled it up, and blessed God, and said:  Blessed be the Lord God, who has delivered Israel, that they should not shed innocent blood; and blessed be the Lord, who sent out His angel, and covered me under his wings.  And he set a table for them; and they ate and drank, and slept there.  And they rose up early, and prayed.  And Joseph saddled his ass, and set out with the men; and they came to the holy city Jerusalem.  And all the people met Joseph, and cried out:  Peace to thee in thy coming in!  And he said to all the people:  Peace to you! and he kissed them.  And the people prayed with Joseph, and they were astonished at the sight of him.  And Nicodemus received him into his house, and made a great feast, and called Annas and Caiaphas, and the elders, and the priests, and the Levites to his house.  And they rejoiced, eating and drinking with Joseph; and after singing hymns, each proceeded to his own house.  But Joseph remained in the house of Nicodemus.

And on the following day, which was the preparation, the rulers of the synagogue and the priests and the Levites went early to the house of Nicodemus; and Nicodemus met them, and said:  Peace to you!  And they said:  Peace to thee, and to Joseph, and to all thy house, and to all the house of Joseph!  And he brought them into his house.  And all the Sanhedrin sat down, and Joseph sat down between Annas and Caiaphas:  and no one dared to say a word to him.  And Joseph said:  Why have you called me?  And they signalled to Nicodemus to speak to Joseph.  And Nicodemus, opening his mouth, said to Joseph:  Father, thou knowest that the honourable teachers, and the priests and the Levites, see to learn a word from thee.  And Joseph said:  Ask.  And Annas and Caiaphas having taken the law, made Joseph swear, saying:  Give glory to the God of Israel, and give Him confession; for Achar being made to swear by the prophet Jesus,18501850    i.e., Joshua.  Josh. vii. 19, 20. did not forsware himself, but declared unto him all, and did not hide a word from him.  Do thou also accordingly not hide from us to the extent of a word.  And Joseph said:  I shall not hide from you one word.  And they said to him:  With grief were we grieved because thou didst beg the body of Jesus, and wrap it in clean linen, and lay it in a tomb.  And on account of this we secured thee in a room where there was no windows:  and we put locks and seals upon the doors and guards kept watching where thou wast locked in.  And on the first day of the week we opened, and found thee not, and were grieved exceedingly; and astonishment fell upon all the people of the Lord until yesterday.  And now relate to us what has happened to thee.

And Joseph said:  On the preparation, about 424the tenth hour, you locked me up, and I remained all the Sabbath.  And at midnight, as I was standing and praying, the room where you locked me in was hung up by the four corners, and I saw a light like lightning into my eyes.18511851    Comp. Acts x. 11.  And I was afraid, and fell to the ground.  And some one took me by the hand, and removed me from the place where I had fallen; and moisture of water was poured from my head even to my feet, and a smell of perfumes came about my nostrils.  And he wiped my face, and kissed me, and said to me, Fear not, Joseph; open thine eyes, and see who it is that speaks to thee.  And looking up, I saw Jesus.  And I trembled and thought it was a phantom; and I said the commandments, and he said them with me.18521852    Or, and he spoke to me.  Even so you are not ignorant that a phantom, if it meet anybody, and hear the commandments, takes to flight.  And seeing that he said them with me, I said to him, Rabbi Helias.  And he said to me, I am not Helias.  And I said to him, Who art thou, my lord?  And he said to me, I am Jesus, whose body thou didst beg from Pilate; and thou didst clothe me with clean linen, and didst put a napkin on my face, and didst lay me in thy new tomb, and didst roll a great stone to the door of the tomb.  And I said to him that was speaking to me, Show me the place where I laid thee.  And he carried me away, and showed me the place where I laid him; and the linen cloth was lying in it, and the napkin for his face.  And I knew that it was Jesus.  And he took me by the hand, and placed me, though the doors were locked, in the middle of my house, and led me away to my bed, and said to me, Peace to thee!  And he kissed me, and said to me, For forty days go not forth out of thy house; for, behold, I go to my brethren into Galilee.

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