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Chapter Twenty-eight 


The Thirteenth Tribe


With the good Reverend out cold after drinking his Valium-spiked tea, Hanna covered him with a blanket. Thomas was confident that the Reverend wouldn't wake up for at least a few hours. Hanna grabbed the church keys and they walked into the church together. It was a beautiful church inside, with deep red pews and painted walls and beams, which showed it had been loved by its creator. His gut told him the stone would likely be hidden in the church proper because there were more spaces to hide something that wasn't as small as a coin.

"Are there any areas in the church that you think would be suitable for your father to use as a hiding place?"

"That's what I was thinking about before we were interrupted for tea," her voice simmered with alacrity. "If there was a stone that needed to be hidden in the church, there is a place where there's a chance it could be. I don't know, but if father did have it then he may have kept it in this secret room." She led him from the alter to the east wall of the church where there were large portraits of what looked like the twelve disciples. They both studied the portraits painted onto the wall.

"Ever since I was a little girl I've had reoccurring dreams that there was a secret chamber behind one of these portraits," shaking her head in embarrassment. "It sounds crazy I know, but if he had something like that, my intuition tells me it would be somewhere in this wall."

"Actually, this whole thing for me started with a dream."

"In the dream there was a secret chamber behind one of the disciples, but I don't know which one." Standing there in the half-dark church with the sun beginning to lower through the stained-glass windows above the portraits, his mind thirsted for a clue. When he counted the number of portraits of each disciple, he thought he had miscounted, but from the trail of clues he knew he hadn't.

"There are 13 portraits on this wall, not 12."

"Then maybe one of them is Jesus." Stepping closer to the portrait in front of him Thomas noticed a shield obscured by the man's robe.

"These are not the disciples," he said with a rising voice. "These each represent a tribe of Israel. It's quite clever really. Your father has modeled them on the looks of the 12 disciples plus Jesus, but see these?" He held his lighter close to the shield on the portrait. "See his shield? And here, you can see the symbol on the shield. It's a ship."


"That's the symbol for the Tribe of Zebulun of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. They were the sea-faring tribe who eventually landed in modern-day Holland. Each Israelite tribe had their symbol inscribed on their shields. And it just so happened the Dutch were sea-farers."

"Okay, but I thought there were only 12 sons of Jacob? Judah and Levi who became the two Judaic Tribes of the House of Judah, and their ten brothers who became the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel known in the Bible as the House of Israel." Beside the wall with his mouth agape, he smiled at Hanna.

"A woman who knows about the Ten Lost Tribes is a woman who is worthy." Giving her a wink, she dipped her chin slightly blushed.

"My mother and father were brought together by their passion, so naturally some of it rubbed off on me." His laughter echoed off the walls in the church.

"Jacob did have 12 sons, but remember Joseph?"

"Jacob's favorite son, and chosen by God."

"Joseph, had two sons: Ephraim and Manasseh." Before he had a chance to finish Hanna was quoting scripture:

"'Now then,'" she said, "'your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine, Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine.' Genesis 48:5." He loved the fine creases around her mouth. "I always loved Genesis." He knew she could see what was in his heart.

"So if you count the two sons of Joseph, you get 13 tribes."

"How do we know which one is the thirteenth tribe?"

"I'd hazard a guess that the 13th tribe is Manasseh because their symbol is a bundle of olive branches, just like on the coin. See?" With his lighter, he showed the phoenix holding 13 olive branches. "I think that's why America uses 13 as their number and why your father left the coin with 13 as its number."

"I thought it was because of the original 13 colonies?"

"Myth. Manasseh and e plurus unum and 13 could be defined as the grafting in of the natural branches to the original olive tree. It fulfills the prophecy that Manasseh will become a great people, settle the Promised Land and fulfill Manifest Destiny."

"I haven't heard of that."

"It's part of the Mormon scriptures, that the Tribe of Manasseh came to the shores of North America around the sixth century BC and were the principal ancestors of the Native Americans. Lehi, one of the prophets in the Book of Mormon, came from the Tribe of Manasseh after the destruction of Jerusalem."

"You mean the Bnei Menasche?"

"Yes. Yes. That's what they're called here. You've heard of them?"

"Yes, of course. They have a song they sing during harvest season that has the same words as a well-known prayer from the Old Testament."

"I know what you're saying. I think it's a prayer called Miriam's Prayer."

"You're right. The Kachin people up here, who call themselves Bnei Manasche, have been singing that song for a few thousand years and in it they talk about the parting of the Red Sea and a bunch of things from the Book of Exodus." Her eyes widened a little when she saw his smile. He wasn't sure if it was the thrill of the search or being with Hanna, but at that moment in the darkened church looking for ancient symbols of Hebrew tribes was when he knew his life was irretrievably changed. 

They scanned the portraits lining the wall.

"I only know a few of them," he said. "That one is the Tribe of Naphtali; the deer is their symbol. And that one, the eagle, is the Tribe of Dan who settled Denmark. And of course the lion is the symbol of the Tribe of Judah. There's the wolf so that's the Tribe of Benjamin." It was the very last portrait closest to the alter that had 13 olive branches on the shield.

"Is that it?"

"It is. This is Manasseh - the thirteenth tribe."

"Look at this," she said, pointing just below the portrait. When he flicked his lighter they saw it was Latin: "E PLURUS UNUM."

"And see this?" He pointed his finger to the bottom corner of the portrait. "1804. It's code for 13. One plus eight plus four is thirteen." He ran his fingers over the painting, hoping to find an incongruity on the surface. The portrait of the bearded men from the Tribe of Manasseh was faded and dirty from the years of neglect and the moisture of the rainy seasons, but he felt a rift along the right edge of the shield. He slid his fingers along the rift until he felt a thin indentation about an inch long. Taking his Swiss Army knife from his pocket, he gently pried at the opening, which loosened the plaster.

"With respect," he said, solemnly. Putting his fingers under the rift along the rim of the shield, he pulled, causing almost two feet of plaster to break off from the wall. He could feel a corner of a metal box.

"What is it?"

"Feels like a metal box or something. Here, let me-" When he applied force a large chunk feel clean from the wall, revealing part of a small metal door.

"I see it!"

"It's been built right into the wall. Could be that secret chamber you dreamt of." Thomas used his sleeve to wipe off the surface of the metal, and saw a keyhole.

"This could be it." He inserted the grandfather key and turned. They heard a latch snap into place and the door opened a half-inch.

"Oh my God," said Hanna, stepping closer. With his fingertips he pulled the edge of the metal door open, debris landing at their feet. The church was too dark to see anything in the chamber so again he flicked his lighter, the flame shining on the stone treasure within.

"I think this is it!" The sacred stone rested on two blocks of wood, buried horizontally deep into the wall.


Part One - Canada
1.      The Twin From the East Returns  
2.      The Sundancer  
3.      Waxing Gibbous 
4.      The Second Coming of the Messiah 
5.      The Sacred Twin Story 
6.      The Sign of the Pahana 
7.      Palongawhoya and Poqanghoya 
8.      Rainbow Thunderbird and Red Phoenix 
9.      The True White Brother 
10.    The Lost Louis Riel Notebooks 
Part Two - Hong Kong
11.    A Mixture of Revulsion and Pity 
12.    A Classroom of Scallywags 
13.    Illegitimati non Carborundum 
14.    The Distant Fire of Empyrean
Part Three - Burma
15.    The Monastery of Sacred Tablets 
16.    The Outpost of Tyranny 
17.    When the 12th Moon Comes 
18.    The Pigeon Left & the Crow Took His Place 
19.    Go North and Find Your People 
20.    Finding Orwell 
21.    Though the Monkey is in a Hurry, the Tree Branch is Not 
22.    The Castle at God's Toes 
23.    The General and Sergeant Betel Nut 
24.    The Tattooed Station Master 
25.    Reverend Crow's Life's Work 
26.    Yield Not to Adversity, But Press on More Bravely 
27.    A Bitter Cuppa Tea 
28.    The Thirteenth Tribe 
29.    When a Lamp is Lit You Must Expect Insects 
30.    John the Christian 
31.    A Guardian Angel Named Hanna 
32.    The Bar Car & Betel Nut 
33.    The Son of Light 
34.    Slipping the Karmic Knot
Part Four - Hong Kong
35.    The Tonsure Warning 
36.    The Phoenix Reborn 
37.    Touching the Empyrean 
38.    Joshua the Gatekeeper 
Part Five - Canada
39.    Lapsit Exillis 
40.    Thunderstones 
41.    The Time of Great Purification  


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