In The Village Of Chorazin
a story by
In the village of Chorazin, in Galilee, lived the humble seer Yaniv the Simple. Now, the simplicity of Yaniv was not in the way in which he understood the world, as with the fool, but was rather in the way that he lived, for his dwelling place, sadly, was unadorned with silken drapes, clustered grapes, olive trees, honey bees, scimitars, and costly jars. The people of Chorazin liked Yaniv, for his simplicity extended into all areas of his life. Therefore, when he prophesied, he asked no payment for his words, and this made the people like him very much. It was known, though, that Yaniv was a false seer and teacher, for that which he spoke never came to pass in the way the people hoped—or if it did come to pass, it was too late for anyone to care. But Yaniv was all Chorazin had for a seer, and so when he sat in the famed Moses’ Seat to prophesy, the people gathered round about him, and they listened, for their purses were secure against his predictions, and this made them happy.
Yaniv the Simple had three exceptionally beautiful daughters. He also once had a gorgeous wife called Chayim, and two sons. The oldest boy, Achashverosh, left home early, though, and died in a skirmish with a Roman dispatch, the news of which also killed Chayim. This double tragedy left Yaniv the Simple with one son and three exceptionally beautiful daughters, all of whom worked alongside their father as tentmakers. This skill did the family work at with diligence, except for the slain Achashverosh and his dead mother Chayim, who were busy with more pressing matters.
One day another seer came to visit Chorazin. He sat in Moses’ Seat at the synagogue and spoke good words. It was whispered that he even lived the words that he spoke. Such a novelty! The people liked him and did gather round about him. Overwhelmed, though, by the cares of life and by a multitude of other difficulties, imagined or not, they took no heed to this new seer, though he did what Yaniv had never done—he healed the sick of Chorazin, and even raised a dead child back to life. After that day the healer visited the village many times, and drove unclean spirits from people inhabited by them, and spoke words of life-engendering wisdom, and better prepared the way for the Chorazinites, should they wish to follow him. But no one did follow him, and their disinterest spread like a disease also unto the neighboring village of Bethsaida across River Jordan, and even down unto Capernaum. It was, at that time, asked of Yaniv the Simple why he did not do these same miraculous things for his own people, and the false teacher replied that if he did so, would they believe in his message? The people of Chorazin took note of his reply, and in sorrow lowered their eyes and walked away, as if to say that no, they would not believe after all. But Yaniv knew that his words were false, and this distressed him, for his heart did long after the truth, but try as he might, he could not make his will comply with the wishes of his heart. Whenever he raised the first two fingers on his right hand and opened his mouth to speak, peculiar and altogether ridiculous ideas rolled from his tongue, and this is why all who heard him knew that his words were false. Notwithstanding this knowledge, they let Yaniv be, for he asked no money for his teachings, and this pleased the people. Otherwise, they would have driven him from their midst, or perhaps even stoned him to death in their anger and then driven him from their midst, to then do as he liked, but not in their midst. As it was, Yaniv the Simple was of Chorazin, he asked nothing for his words, he had one remaining son—and three exceptionally beautiful daughters who could make a tent of any man’s cloth.
It came to pass that the seer who spoke true and healed the dead visited Chorazin no more, for none in the village would heed his words. Yaniv continued to sit in Moses’ Seat to expound upon the torah and haphtarah readings of the day and to prognosticate and develop odd ideologies and hope that someone—anyone—would provide him and his family with a bag of dried dates and maybe some quality fish, for tentmaking had fallen to an all-time low, though, as said, his exceptionally beautiful daughters could raise any man’s tent with ease. These girls, though, soon discovered another skill befitting their natural affinities, and inside a fortnight their family proved one of the richest in Chorazin. Now Yaniv may have been simple, but he was no fool, for he knew the work which his daughters undertook in order to bring money into the household, and this knowledge did greatly grieve him.
“Really? Must you become shepherdesses? I, your father, am well-spoken of here in our village. We are Chorazinites through and through. Our age-old family helped to found the Village of Chorazin!”
“Father,” said Naamah, the oldest of the three exceptionally beautiful daughters. “Chorazin is only thirty years old.”
“That’s a young town,” said Vashtiy, the second oldest of the three exceptionally beautiful daughters. “Is Chorazin really only that new?”
“Never mind,” said Yaniv as he raised his two fingers into the air. “You are missing my point.”
“What is your point, father?” asked Yaffa, the third of his three exceptionally beautiful daughters. “Tentmaking has fallen to an all-time low, and sheep have always been a mainstay for our people.”
“Except when we were in Egypt,” said Azarya, the son of Yaniv who yet lived. “Egyptians don’t like smelly animals. I am fairly certain this proves that they are descendants of Cain, who was a farmer with no sheep or goats.”
“Please, Azarya,” said Yaniv. “Though I do love your deep and abiding interest in the history of our people, now is simply not the time for theological discourse. Your three exceptionally beautiful sisters have joined themselves up with the world’s third oldest profession, and my heart is breaking!”
“Would you prefer us to take up the world’s second oldest profession, father?” asked Vashtiy. “The three of us have noticed that many tents become raised in our presence.”
Yaniv fell to his knees and began to weep at the suggestion. “No! And a thousand times no! The world’s first oldest profession would be my will for all four of you, but none of you seems to hold interest in the opposite sexes. You, Azarya, for example. What happened to that gorgeous bundle of grain Chita? She took a great liking to you, yet the subtleties of stonemasonry seem to interest you far more than the subtleties of women.”
“I like to build things, father.”
“Then build a family, boy! Build a family! And you, Naamah. The wealthy merchant Ro’i of Bethsaida looks upon you with great interest.”
“Father! He is older than you are! His youngest son has three grown children of his own, all older than me!”
“What is your point, daughter?”
“Ewww!” And with that, Naamah, the oldest exceptionally beautiful daughter, ran from the main tent where the spur-of-the-moment meeting had developed. This action caused the two younger exceptionally beautiful daughters to lose interest in the conversation and also leave, Vashtiy saying something about her unattended sheep, and Yaffa reminding herself to go to market for bread. Seeing then the disinterest of his sisters, and feeling rather ill at ease about his theretofore undisclosed attention to the modest and elegant Chita, Azarya left his father’s presence under pretense of spying something curious a furlong away. This left the oldest son Achashverosh to stand with his father, but Yaniv, being a false seer, knew nothing of this, nor of his weeping wife Chayim who sat at their hearth. Anyway, both mother and son, being dead, were busy with more pressing matters.
And so went the days and nights of Yaniv the Simple of Chorazin, and of his family of one living son and three exceptionally beautiful daughters focused upon things which did not suit the desires of their father, but nevertheless did provide a stable lifestyle as time moved forward with the overbearing cares of life—even though the seer who once visited Chorazin had recommended that the lilies, who neither toil in the fields nor work at home, should be fully considered, especially in light of their beauty which outshines even the golden wealth of King Solomon, to whom the Queen of Sheba, intrigued by reports of his vast wisdom, traveled over twelve thousand stadia to hear.
‘The stories of Scáth Beorh are permeated with themes of violence, brutality, anguish, punishment, magical realism, and blurred lines between this and the afterlife. Sometimes veiled and at times more overt sarcasm about Christian values and moral inconsistencies underline an ingenious design behind the entertaining tales. The quality of the writing and storytelling indicate an extremely well-informed and competent author.’
~ Bucky, Editor