The Thirteenth Tribe
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.
there any areas in the church that you think would be suitable for your father
to use as a hiding place?"
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.
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."
this whole thing for me started with a dream."
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.
are 13 portraits on this wall, not 12."
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.
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."
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."
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.
woman who knows about the Ten Lost Tribes is a woman who is worthy."
Giving her a wink, she dipped her chin slightly blushed.
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.
did have 12 sons, but remember Joseph?"
favorite son, and chosen by God."
had two sons: Ephraim and Manasseh." Before he had a chance to finish Hanna was
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
if you count the two sons of Joseph, you get 13 tribes."
do we know which one is the thirteenth tribe?"
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
thought it was because of the original 13 colonies?"
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."
haven't heard of that."
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."
mean the Bnei Menasche?"
Yes. That's what they're called here. You've heard of them?"
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."
know what you're saying. I think it's a prayer called Miriam's Prayer."
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.
scanned the portraits lining the wall.
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?"
is. This is Manasseh - the thirteenth tribe."
at this," she said, pointing just below the portrait. When he flicked his
lighter they saw it was Latin: "E PLURUS UNUM."
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.
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!"
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.
could be it." He inserted the grandfather key and turned. They heard a latch
snap into place and the door opened a half-inch.
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.
think this is it!" The sacred stone rested on two blocks of wood, buried
horizontally deep into the wall.