When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.
The gold which rides in Darien’s satchel weighs heavily on Cyrus’ mind–not because it was Herod’s gold or because it is all the money they have for this journey. With every step he takes, he considers what else he might bring the Baby King. What might he find along his way fit to offer the Promised One?
The men, tired from hours of walking in sandaled feet, and riding on the backs of camel and donkey, finally see village lights ahead. Cyrus’ pace quickens, pulling his donkey along with calloused fingers.
“Bethlehem?” Baraz asks no one in particular.
“Not yet.” Darien grunts. “Tomorrow.” His own pace quickens, despite his lumbering camel. “Tonight we rest.”
Cyrus and Baraz sigh as their eyes rest on the village ahead, warm fires scattered throughout, trails of smoke rising into the night. As they gain distance, the smell of herbs and roots fill their noses, fresh bread from a nearby stove, humming from an open window. Darien steers his mount around a corner and hops onto the ground at the village well.
“We can rest here,” he gestures to the dirt at his feet, already unrolling a thick bedroll then stepping over it to reach the well.
Cyrus makes his own bed, fills his empty stomach with fresh water, and then sets out into the village with a nod to his friends.
He barely leaves the open space surrounding the well when sandaled feet fall in step with his own.
“Where are we going, brother?” Baraz asks.
“We only plan to bring gold?”
“We only have gold.”
“For the Savior of Israel–the world. He could likely make gold.”
Baraz lets out a hearty, rolling laugh. “What do you plan to do about it?”
Cyrus steers them down an alley. Heavy canopy roofs block out the starlit sky–block out the new prophetic star that leads them to Bethlehem. He stops only when he reaches the house at the end of the alley, the edge of the village, a wooden sign with blackened markings hangs beside the door. The space around the house is filled with tents and tables, cages and pins with slumbering animals, merchants packing up bread and meat, pulling children along by their wrists to head home for the night.
A balding man with a plump face and meaty nose answers the door when Cyrus knocks twice.
“Just closing up, boys.” He says, not unkindly.
“We need gifts, sir, fit for a king. Can you help?”
The man eyes them from dusty hair to blistered foot. He steps out of the doorway, looking behind them, to the left and right, shaking his head before he even looks to their faces.
“What on earth can you trade? You appear to have nothing.”
Baraz, smiles, realizing what Cyrus plans to do, and steps forward as if letting the man in on a secret between the three of them.
“We have two camels of the best stock in all of Jerusalem–Herod’s own, in fact.”
Cyrus laughs at his friend, quite the salesman, and nods at the merchant, now looking to him for confirmation.
*The story of the three wise men begins on Day 14. You can find it HERE.