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Chapter 15.

And Nicodemus rising up, stood in the midst of the counsel, and said:  You have said rightly.  And are not the men who have come down from Galilee God-fearing, men of peace, hating a lie?  And they recounted with an oath, how “we saw Jesus sitting on Mount Mambre with his disciples, and he taught them in our hearing,” and that they saw him taken up into heaven.  And no one asked them this:  How he was taken up into heaven.  And, as the writing of the holy book teaches us, holy Elias too was taken up into heaven, and Elisæus cried out with a loud voice, and Elias threw his sheepskin over Elisæus; and again Elisæus threw that sheepskin over the Jordan, and went over and came to Jericho.  And the sons of the prophets met him, and said to Elisæus, Where is thy master Elias?  And he said, He has been taken up into heaven.  And they said to Elisæus, Has a spirit snatched him away, and thrown him upon one of the mountains?  But rather let us take our boys19681968    i.e., servants. with us and seek him.  And they persuaded Elisæus, and he went with them.  And they sought him for three days and three nights, and found him not, because he was taken up.  And now, men, hear me, and let us send into all Israel, and see lest Jesus can have been taken up somewhere or other, and thrown upon one of the mountains.  And that saying pleased all.  And they sent to all the mountains of Israel to seek Jesus, and they found Him not; but they found Joseph of Arimathæa, and no one dared to lay hold of him.

And they reported to the elders and priests and Levites:  We have gone round all the mountains of Israel, and not found Jesus; but we have found Joseph in Arimathæa.  And hearing of Joseph, they rejoiced, and gave glory to the God of Israel.  And the rulers of the synagogue, and the priests and the Levites, taking counsel in what manner they should send to Joseph, took paper, and wrote to Joseph:—

Peace to thee and all that is thine!  We know that we have sinned against God, and against thee; and thou hast prayed to the God of Israel, and He has delivered thee out of our hands.  And now deign to come to thy fathers and thy children, because we have been vehemently grieved.  We have all sought for thee—we who opened the door, and found thee not.  We know that we counselled evil counsel against thee; but the Lord hath supplanted our counsel against thee.  Thou art worthy to be honoured, father Joseph, by all the people.

And they chose out of all Israel seven men friendly to Joseph, whom also Joseph knew to be friendly; and the rulers of the synagogue and the priests and the Levites say to them:  See, if he take the letter and read it, for certain he will come with you to us; but if he do not read it, you may know that he is ill-disposed toward us, and, saluting him in peace, return to us.  And blessing them, they sent them away.  And they came to Arimathæa to Joseph, and 446adored him on their face upon the ground, and said:  Peace to thee and all thine!  And Joseph said:  Peace to you, and to all the people of Israel!  And they gave him the roll of the letter.  And Joseph took and read it, and rolled up the letter, and blessed God, and said:  Blessed be the Lord God, who hath delivered Israel from shedding innocent blood; and blessed be God, who sent His angel, and covered me under his wings.  And he kissed them, and set a table for them; and they ate and drank, and slept there.

And they rose in the morning; and Joseph saddled his ass, and travelled with them, and they came into the holy city Jerusalem.  And there met them all the people, crying out, and saying:  Peace be in thy coming in, father Joseph!  To whom he answered and said:  The peace of the Lord be upon all the people!  And they all kissed him.  And they prayed with Joseph, and were terrified at the sight of him.  And Nicodemus took him into his house, and made a great feast, and called Annas and Caiaphas, and the elders and chief priests and Levites, to his house.  And making merry, and eating and drinking with Joseph, they blessed God, and went every one to his own house.  And Joseph remained in the house of Nicodemus.

And on the next day, which is the preparation, the priests and the rulers of the synagogue and the Levites rose early, and came to the house of Nicodemus.  And Nicodemus met them, and said to them:  Peace to you!  And they said to him:  Peace to thee and Joseph, and to thy house and Joseph’s house!  And Nicodemus brought them into his house.  And the council sat; and Joseph sat between Annas and Caiaphas, and no one dared to say a word.  And Joseph said to them:  Why have you called me?  And they made signs with their eyes to Nicodemus, that he should speak with Joseph.  And Nicodemus, opening his mouth, said:  Father Joseph, thou knowest that the reverend teachers, priests, and Levites seek to hear a word from thee.  And Joseph said:  Ask.  And Annas and Caiaphas, taking up the law, adjured Joseph, saying:  Give glory to the God of Israel, and give confession to Him, that thou wilt not hide any word19691969    The Greek ῥῆμαmeans thing as well as word. from us.  And they said to him:  With grief were we grieved that thou didst beg the body of Jesus, and wrap it in clean linen, and lay it in a tomb.  Therefore we shut thee up in a house where there was no window, and put a lock and a seal on the gate; and on the first day of the week we opened the gates, and found thee not.  We were therefore exceedingly grieved, and astonishment came over all the people of God.  And therefore hast thou been sent for; and now tell us what has happened.

Then said Joseph:  On the day of the Preparation, about the tenth hour, you shut me in, and I remained there the whole Sabbath in full.  And when midnight came, as I was standing and praying, the house where you shut me in was hung up by the four corners, and there was a flashing of light in mine eyes.  And I fell to the ground trembling.  Then some one lifted me up from the place where I had fallen, and poured over me an abundance of water from the head even to the feet, and put round my nostrils the odour of a wonderful ointment, and rubbed my face with the water itself, as if washing me, and kissed me, and said to me, Joseph, fear not; but open thine eyes, and see who it is that speaks to thee.  And looking, I saw Jesus; and being terrified, I thought it was a phantom.  And with prayer and the commandments I spoke to him, and he spoke with me.  And I said to him:  Art thou Rabbi Elias?  And he said to me:  I am not Elias.  And I said:  Who art thou, my lord?  And he said to me:  I am Jesus, whose body thou didst beg from Pilate, and wrap in clean linen; and thou didst lay a napkin on my face, and didst lay me in thy new tomb, and roll a stone to the door of the tomb.  Then I said to him that was speaking to me:  Show me, Lord, where I laid thee.  And he led me, and showed me the place where I laid him, and the linen which I had put on him, and the napkin which I had wrapped upon his face; and I knew that it was Jesus.  And he took hold of me with his hand, and put me in the midst of my house though the gates were shut, and put me in my bed, and said to me:  Peace to thee!  And he kissed me, and said to me:  For forty days go not out of thy house; for, lo, I go to my brethren into Galilee.

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