Crier: Residents of Jerusalem and foreigners who are here for
the holidays… the authorities of this city are in search of this man
called Jesus, a peasant with a brown face, about thirty years old, tall,
sporting a beard, who comes from Galilee and calls himself a prophet
and Messiah. Any person who knows of his whereabouts should inform the
magistrates of the Sanhedrin and he will receive a reward of sixty shekels
of silver... The man is a dangerous rebel....
After that event the preceding Sunday in the Temple, when we invaded
the atrium of the gentiles with shouts and palm branches, the religious
leaders of the capital started to announce this news at the twelve gates
of the city of David, in the market and in the barrios…
Meanwhile, old Annas, the wealthiest and most influential priest in
the whole of Jerusalem, who controlled the sale of animals for sacrifice
at the Temple from his palace, was conversing with his son-in-law, Joseph
Caiphas, the High Priest for that year.
Caiphas: Had you been there, had you seen the confusion, you wouldn’t
be looking so smug....
Annas: I’m glad I haven’t seen anything. At my age, my dear
son-in-law, misgivings are dangerous.
Caiphas: We can’t take any more scandal like this. Believe me,
Annas, what happened last Sunday at the Temple was something truly unfortunate.
Annas: Well, I’m just sorry about my cows. Usually in these
cases, scoundrels take advantage of the confusion. Five cows of mine
have disappeared with their calves. At least four dozen sheep have been
lost, and this is not to include the pigeons.
Caiphas: I don’t count the money wasted on the stairs… The money
changers claimed they couldn’t defend themselves from the mob..... Fools....
It was exactly at noontime, when the most money had been collected,
when this agitator came and started the tumult.... Damn this Nazarene!
Annas: Anyway, my dear son-in-law, there’s no reason to worry.
The notice has been posted and announced all over the place.
Caiphas: What for?… The whole city is with them. They’re hiding
him. They’re protecting him.
Annas: But there’ll be always someone who will sing. Sixty shekels
of silver is enough bait for someone starving to death. Take it easy,
Caiphas. Don’t give too much importance to that silly farmer. Tomorrow,
or Thursday at the latest perhaps, this matter will be resolved... Even
if this Jesus hides himself in Sheol, we’ll get him. Now, rather than
biting your nails, why don’t you meet with the members of the Sanhedrin
to explain to them the “delicate situation” caused by the Nazarene?
All the magistrates will support you.... You know what to do after that,
my dear son-in-law…
It was Tuesday, the 11th of Nissan. Since Sunday we had been in hiding
with Jesus in Bethany, in the upper story of Lazarus’ inn. Judas of
Iscariot, who knew the city fully well, used to come and tell us the
latest developments in the city. But that morning, it took him some
time to return....
Barabbas: What the hell is your leader waiting for, Judas? What’s
he thinkin’ of?… True, last Sunday’s riot at the Temple was a good blow,
but that’s all. You don’t win a war with palm branches.
Judas: That’s what some of us were saying, Barabbas. But what
can we do? He’s our leader, and we do whatever he says.
Barabbas: What about the cause, Judas? And our cause is over and
above any one leader!
In one of the little huts in the barrio of Ophel, with closed doors
and windows, Barabbas, one of the leaders of the zealot movement, was
discussing with Judas of Iscariot....
Barabbas: Listen to me, Judas. You were one of us at one time.
I can trust you. We, the members of the movement have spent the whole
night discussing this and… and we have a plan.
Barabbas: Listen, buddy. One thing is clear. Of all the leaders
we have in this country, the Nazarene is the only one who is able to
mobilize people. That’s right, and we have to admit it. The leaders
of the movement find difficulty admitting this, but I was able to convince
them. The people find these rebels detestful because of their thirst
for blood. The leaders of Perea and Judea are already sick and tired
of this. Whom can we count on then?… Jesus is the only man who can make
the people rise in arms, do you understand?!
Judas: Sure I do, but what does all this mean?
Barabbas: Listen, Judas. We know where to obtain a good number
of swords and cudgels. We have men trained to raid the arsenal of Shiloh
and the one in Antonia Tower. It’s a matter of distributing the job
among ourselves and planning the assault well. You know how this thing
works, once it breaks out, there’s no stopping it. Only one thing is
Judas: For Jesus to take up the sword and give the first move,
is that right?
Barabbas: Exactly, Judas. Now, answer me: will Jesus do it or not?
Judas: I doubt it, Barabbas. The Moreno is… very idealistic.
He says that our strength is not in weapons but in joint protests until
we exhaust the patience of the Pharaoh, as Moses did in Egypt.
Barabbas: Idealistic, no, but an imbecile. I already told him when
they killed John, the Baptizer. If you don’t change your style, Nazarene,
you’ll suffer the same fate as the son of Zechariah.
Judas: Jesus won’t change his mind. Not for now, at least.
Barabbas: But now is our chance, Judas! It’s now or never! The
city is in turmoil waiting for the signal to attack the Roman quarters!
Judas: If you wish, we can talk to Jesus to see if…
Barabbas: No, Iscariot. This is no longer the time to talk, but
to act. And fast. If Jesus won’t decide, then, we will.
Judas: And what do the members of movement say to this?
Barabbas: Kill him.
Judas: How’s that again?
Barabbas: They want to kill him. To eliminate Jesus. We’ll cut
off his head. Then we’ll blame it on the Romans.
Judas: But, are you out of your mind? How can you even think
Barabbas: You know nothing about politics, Judas. A dead leader
can sometimes be more useful than one alive. Flags are made out of blood
that has been shed, do you understand?
Judas: But, what would you get out of this...?
Barabbas: For the people to rise up in arms, dammit! In two minutes,
the news will spread through all Jerusalem, and in the next two minutes,
the uprising will break out! That will be the spark we’ve been awaiting
for the great holocaust.
Judas: I can’t believe the movement is capable of such a thing…
You wouldn’t do such a lowly thing, would you… Barabbas?
Barabbas: It’s you who’ll do it, Judas. We’re counting on you.
You know where the Nazarene has gone into hiding. You’re one of them.
Judas: Am I hearing right, or…? Are you insinuating something,
Barabbas: I’m not insinuating anything, Iscariot. I’m telling you,
very clearly, how things are. Jesus is more useful dead. And you are
in the best position to carry out this plan.
Judas: Dammit! Hearing you talk makes me hate you, Barabbas!
Goodbye. You can’t make me kill a buddy. Much less Jesus.
Barabbas: Wait a minute, Judas. Take it easy. Try to understand
Judas: I’m sorry, Barabbas. I don’t betray my friends.
Barabbas: Why do you say friend?
Judas: What else?
Barabbas: Yeah. It’s not betrayal, but strategy. Someone has to
die for the people, for the country. Understand this, Judas!
That afternoon of Tuesday, the high priest, Joseph Caiphas called an
urgent meeting of the chief magistrates of Jerusalem…
Caiphas: Please try to understand, illustrious members of the
Sanhedrin. This is a serious matter and we must make a fast decision.
It is about the fanatic called Jesus, who, many of you must have heard,
has been much talked about. A man of the worst type, a rebel against
Rome, who blasphemes against the Temple: an agitator, a conspirator
and… and besides, an imbecile. Only a fool would try to bring down a
wall by throwing tomatoes at it.
Magistrate: It is my opinion, your excellency, that we
take drastic action on this matter. The leper, the unclean and the rebel
must be isolated from the community at the soonest possible moment.
Jeconiah: I’m sorry, but I don’t agree. The city is teeming with
pilgrims right now. The people are very restless with the new taxes.
Let us wait for the holidays to pass. Then, everything would be easier
and less noisy.
Magistrate: I agree
with my colleague, Jeconiah! Besides, it is not for us to arrest this
rebel. We will be criticized by the people. Let Governor Pilate take
care of him.
Pilate is tired of putting up crosses for our messiahs! He wants no
Jeconiah: On the contrary, Pilate seeks a new excuse to continue
robbing the Temple treasury!
Caiphas: Illustrious colleagues, don’t speak that way of the Governor.
Pontius Pilate has his little foibles, it’s true, but he is a prudent
man and has always supported us in governing this province... Personally,
I believe if we simply leave this Nazarene rebel alone, it would make
Governor Pilate nervous and he just might inform Caesar. His friend,
Sejanus in Rome doesn’t look well at our people. He could give orders
to invade Jerusalem and sack the Temple. Don’t you think it easier to
get rid of one man than risk the peace and order of our country?
All: Yes, yes, you’re right, your excellency!
This rebel must die!
Caiphas: I’m glad we have agreed on this decision. It is better
for one man to die in order to save the whole nation.
At that same hour, in a small hut in Ophel…
Zealot: Fine, Judas. I understand your reasons and… your feelings.
Why don’t we come to an agreement? It won’t be necessary to shed the
blood of the Nazarene, as Barabbas, our comrade proposed.
Judas: So what’s it this time?
Zealot: To get him arrested will be enough. Jesus is so popular.
When the people get to know about it, they’ll all take to the streets.
Judas: And what does the movement want from me?
Zealot: Aren’t you aware of the announcement by the magistrates
of the Sanhedrin? They’re after Jesus.
Judas: They’ll never find him. We have him well hidden.
Zealot: Yeah, Judas. Sooner or later, they’ll find him. They’ll
put him in jail once the pilgrims have gone, and things will never be
the same. You’ve got to understand, Judas. Now is the time. Jerusalem
is crammed with people. We can’t afford to miss this chance.
Judas: And you want me to squeal on him, is that right?
Zealot: Listen, Judas. Set aside your sentimentalism and try
to be reasonable. It’s necessary to have Jesus arrested during these
holidays. Don’t be scared. Before they put him on the cross, the uprising
will have broken out. The first thing we’ll do is free the prisoners
who are rotting in the dungeons of the Antonia Tower. Trust us, buddy.
We’ll bring back your beloved leader safe and sound. The movement promises
Judas: If I say yes, what would I have to do?
Zealot: Your mission would be a little unpleasant... but necessary.
You’ll have to go see the chief commandant of the Temple and tell him
the hiding place of Jesus.
Judas: In other words, I’d squeal on him.
Zealot: No, Judas, you’ll be a true fighter up to the last. Come
on, decide for yourself. Go to those sons of bitches and tell them where
the Nazarene is. If they reward you with money, accept it. This comedy
should be played well.
Judas: It’s the price of treason.
Zealot: No, Judas, it’s the price of the revolution. So, what?...
Can we count on you?… or not?
Commandant: What’s your name?
Judas: Judas… Judas of Iscariot.
Commandant: What do you want?
Judas: I know… I know where the man is.
Commandant: You don’t say!… Look, a number have come giving false
information, and I am not about to mobilize my men, just to go after
Judas: You can trust me… I am… I’m one of them.
Commandant: Oh yeah?… That’s better.... Where’s your leader?
Judas: You can’t get him now. He’s surrounded with people. I’ll
inform you at the right time.
Commandant: Don’t worry, because you’ll go with us too. If you’re
lying, we’ll cut off your head. Do you understand?
Commandant: Here, take it, parrot. This is one half in advance. Thirty
shekels of silver.... You’ll get the other half once we have the man
in our hands. Now, beat it!..... Puah… Poor souls… selling their own
leader for a few shekels....
Judas of Iscariot left the palace of the high priest, Caiphas, and vanished
into one of the dark and narrow streets of the city of Jerusalem....
Judas: Old fool… when the people rise in arms, you’ll remember