Everything - Chapter 1
Standing in the very same doorway he stood the night his father and mother had been murdered, Addi ben Zuriel, let his eyes wander around the room. Fifteen years had passed since that horrible night, and he was no longer that little boy, yet the memory of the death of his father Zuriel and mother Gila still played out in Addi’s mind, mostly on the rare occasion he stood here. Each time he entered his father's study, something he tried to avoid, he would see the vision of his mother and father on the floor next to the desk. As if it were a signal to his mind, he would again think all the ‘what if’ scenarios he could have done on that night. Actions might somehow have changed that horrible outcome and the continual memory of losing not only his parents that he loved so dearly, but the household staff he had grown up with and loved.
He should have screamed for help, but for some reason he didn’t. Even when he later learned there was no one still alive in the house who could have come to their aid, he did nothing except stand and watch from the doorway.
Whoever was behind the attack had been very thorough. They killed the two guards who were on duty at the front gate of their large walled estate. Even more horribly, the killers had taken the time to methodically visit the rooms of the seven members of the family’s house servants, murdering them in their beds while they slept, including two children, both younger than Addi. He shook his head at the idea of losing everyone he cared about in one night.
Trying to break the horror of the memory, Addi willed himself to move from the entryway and cross the space to where his father’s desk still sat as it did that night. Sitting down in his father’s chair, he glanced at the now clean and organized desk and wondered what his father had in his possession that brought the need to remove his family and servants from this life. At first, they thought it was a simple robbery attempt of a wealthy family, but very little was taken, and their interest seemed to be exclusively with the scrolls and papers his father had put together the past thirty years of his life. The biggest question that continued to grow in Addi’s mind with each passing year was why he was allowed to live. Being the only heir meant his father's estate and wealth would all go to him, the only surviving family member. There was nothing to be gained by anyone wanting to benefit from the removal of the family.
He remembered how diligent at first, friends and relatives were about finding their killers; but as weeks, months and finally years passed, their urgency eventually faded, but not for Addi. When he was nineteen, with the help of a close advisor, he hired Cleopas, who would later become one of his closest friends and someone who was exceptional in this line of work. Very quickly Cleopas discovered the name and possible location of the man with the knife who had done the killing. The man was an assassin the Romans often used to discreetly deal with issues they did not want exposed to the public.
Escorted by ten of Cleopas' capable and trained men, he went to pay a visit to the man to bring him to justice. Unfortunately, the Romans must have also learned about his discovery. They found the assassin dead in his bed. Like Addi’s family servants the assassin had killed, his throat had been cut as he slept. A fitting and appropriate end to such a ruthless killer, but it left all the questions he carried unanswered.
The other man who was in the room that horrific night, the one who had coldly continued searching through his father’s life work as the assassin slowly murdered his parents, had so far not been found nor had any information at all about him been uncovered. Hearing the man’s voice repeating in his mind, Addi had recognized the man’s accent was Roman, but it was not as strong as someone raised in Rome. It was his only clue and he vowed, as had Cleopas, to never give up the search for the man as long as he still had breath. Knowing Rome was behind it, Addi also vowed to God to use every available resource, including his very life, if necessary, to establish God’s kingdom back to Israel and drive out the Romans. That vow had put many dangerous plans in motion these past fifteen years.
“Did you find it?” the voice from down the hallway asked as he sat there. It was a voice he had known since childhood, had been there for him in his quest to find the answers he desperately wanted, and who also helped guide Addi’s plans and actions to fulfill his vow against Rome.
“Not yet,” Addi replied and began trying to find the inventory sheet of one of his recently acquired businesses.
“Check the second shelf down on the left. It should be there,” the voice called out again from the adjoining room. Addi turned in his chair and looked where he was directed. Reaching to pick up the heavy sheet of paper, he confirmed it was the item of his search.
“If you knew exactly where it was, why did you send me in here to find it?” Addi yelled and then realized he already knew the answer to that question.
“It’s good for you to know where things are in your own house Addi, especially the things that really matter,” the voice replied. But Addi knew the real reason his friend had sent him into the office. He looked around one more time, and with the requested paper now in hand, he headed toward the adjoining guest room that had been converted into a second office.
“I know what is going on with my investments Gavriel, and although I appreciate the effort, you don’t have to hide everything in that office just to make me go into it,” Addi said and raised an eyebrow toward his friend. Gavriel nodded and smiled.
“It’s time to put dark memories to rest my friend, and learn to live and love again,” Gavriel replied as he took the piece of parchment from Addi’s hand, glancing at the sheet until he found the numbers he needed. “The inventory is larger than I thought. You will make a sizable profit when we complete the transaction with the Romans,” Gavriel said, excessively excited about the prospect. Addi thought about the exchange and nodded, but deep down inside every item or service his vast and growing network of companies provided to the Romans caused the memory of revenge to burn deeper inside him. His wiser and older friend seemed to read his expression.
“Addi, we both know every piece of silver the Romans spend through you grows your wealth and power. And when it grows large enough, it will help bring about their downfall,” he said with deep conviction and then looked back at the numbers before him. “It also keeps you off their watch list of concerned citizens when they think they own you, which is getting more important the closer we are to reaching our people’s goals.”
Addi knew Gavriel was right. The idea of the nation of Israel driving out and defeating the most powerful empire the world had ever known was an act only God and wealth could achieve. Addi knew by the signs and promises within God’s Word that God’s hand was poised to deliver a Savior to Israel, a Messiah and King who would liberate them from their enemies and again establish their long-awaited kingdom.
As was the life purpose of his father before him, it was now Addi’s responsibility to provide the wealth and power that would help buy the swords, armor and power to sustain the new kingdom’s army. Early on he had set out to gather the most talented and trusted Jewish advisors to help him accomplish his father’s vision. Gavriel was the first person he hired to guide and tutor him. For being only a young boy at the time, choosing Gavriel was the best of many decisions he had made over the past fifteen years. With the guidance of his trusted and influential advisors, he had taken his father’s already established and successful enterprise and turned it into, not only one of the most powerful in Jerusalem, but one that now reached beyond the former boundaries of the nation. Only the foreign merchants of Rome held more power in Israel than Addi did, but even they recognized his reach and authority in this part of their empire and had learned from positive experiences it was more profitable to work through Addi to establish trade with the people of Israel, instead of in competition to him. All roads may lead to Rome, as Romans were fond of saying, but Addi and his team worked diligently to make sure those roads led easily through his enterprises on their way to Rome.
“Do not forget there is a Pesachya meeting tonight at the temple. Your presence is expected, and they need these numbers for an update on all our progresses. So memorize them before you leave,” Gavriel said without looking up from the papers in front of him. Addi just nodded as he thought about the Pesachya membership that met every forty-five days. Coming from the root word “petach” which means opening a door, it seemed fitting they used that name for their group. Addi knew Mordecai in the Torah was also referred to as Pesachya because he revealed hidden matters to the Queen.
The goal of the Pesachya group was really two-fold; one was to discover the identity of the prophesied Messiah, and the other was to prepare Israel to receive their new King. This meant rallying the people around their new king and ensuring his army had the arms and supplies they needed to defeat Rome under the Messiah’s leadership.
Addi knew Rome only humored the Jewish population by allowing them their dream of a savior. It was the same dream they had allowed most of the conquered nations in their empire, but dreaming is far different from what the Pesachya was doing. Addi and the rest of the Pesachya members knew their lives would be forfeited should Roman leadership, their spies, or the Herodians ever discover the second part of their agenda, and how far they had progressed toward it. Because of the secrecy, there were only a few members who had been invited or could be trusted with such information. Those selected and invited to be a part of it took great care to make sure the true purpose of the group remained a secret and the place secure, which is why they met in the Temple where only Jews were allowed to enter.
Addi watched as Gavriel moved from page to page, transferring the various numbers onto a single sheet of paper for Addi to memorize before burning it. At forty-eight years old and twenty-three years his senior, Gavriel was not only a 'father figure' to him, but one of his closest friends. Gavriel was one of only a few people who was never intimidated by Addi or the wealth and power he had attained. Although he would do it respectfully, Gavriel would never hesitate to speak the truth in all situations, not just tell Addi what he wanted to hear. Addi gradually learned Gavriel’s advice was rarely wrong and he learned to follow it no matter what his feelings or the emotion of the moment might be telling him. Gavriel had been the person who helped him bring this dream for his people to life and helped him fulfill his vow to God.
Gavriel handed the sheet with the combined numbers to Addi and smiled. As Addi looked down at the piece of paper, his heart leapt at the significant progress they had made over the last six months. God was surely with them.