Read Rabbi Gabrielle Ignites a Tempest Online

Authors: Roger Herst

Tags: #thriller, #israel, #catholic church, #action adventure, #rabbi, #jewish fiction, #dead sea scrolls, #israeli government

Rabbi Gabrielle Ignites a Tempest

BOOK V:
RABBI GABRIELLE IGNITES A TEMPEST

ROGER E. HERST

 

 

The Rabbi Gabrielle Series

Book I:
Rabbi
Gabrielle’s Scandal

Book II:
A Kiss for
Rabbi Gabrielle

Book III:
Rabbi
Gabrielle’s Defiance

Book IV:
Rabbi
Gabrielle Commits a Felony

Book V:
Rabbi
Gabrielle Ignites a Tempest

See the end of this book for teasers!

Diversion Books

A Division of Diversion Publishing Corp.

80 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1101

New York, New York 10011

www.DiversionBooks.com

Copyright © 2011 by Roger Herst

All rights reserved, including the right to
reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

For more information, email
[email protected]

First Diversion Books edition June 2011.

ISBN: 978-0-9838395-4-5(ebook)

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

 

Table of Contents

Beginning Note
Foreword

Chapter 1
Chapter
2
Chapter
3
Chapter
4
Chapter
5
Chapter
6
Chapter
7
Chapter
8
Chapter
9
Chapter
10
Chapter
11
Chapter
12
Chapter
13
Chapter
14
Chapter
15

Postcript
The Rabbi
Gabrielle Series

 

 

Beginning Note

While the characters in this story are
entirely fictitious, the historical background and setting
accurately reflect the time and place where the events occurred.
While the story is fiction, the biblical scholarship is fact.

Rabbi Gabrielle Ignites a
Tempest
didn’t happen, but it may well have!

 

 

KHIRBET QUMRAN, NEAR THE DEAD SEA
WEST BANK OF THE JORDAN RIVER

Night had chased away the winds, bringing to
the wilderness a precarious calm. As the sun climbed from the
eastern horizon over the biblical Hills of Moab where tradition
says Moses was buried, long shadows crossing the rocky terrain
thinned. Cliff swallows now darted through the young sky in erratic
patterns, snatching up newly hatched insects for breakfast. A
suggestion of heat warmed the cold igneous rock and storm blown
sand. Dawn's gray light slowly gave way to a subtle mixture of
browns and reds, establishing a new day upon the Judean Desert.

A Bedouin shepherd was watching his goats
graze on winter grass when a series of bright mirror flashes
distracted him. He directed his eyes to the distant bursts of
light, recognizing immediately a familiar silhouette of the gentle,
rounded mountains where his cousin, Mumud banu-Nazeem, pastured his
flock. The light came in starts and stops, matching his tribe's
code by deflecting the sun's rays with quick shifts of the mirror
to shape the length and intensity of a signal. He missed the first
few words, but not his cousin's unique signature on an urgent
message calling for help. He wanted to signal back with his mirror
that he would forward this plea to others, but the sun was behind
him in the wrong position.

Instead, the young shepherd left his goats to
climb a wall of volcanic rock, seeking higher ground on which to
alert another kinsman farther south. Mumud banu-Nazeem's message
was instantly relayed to four Bedouin camelmen guarding the
northern perimeter of the tribe's winter migration. Within minutes,
these powerful shepherd-warriors were mounted and caning their
animals to advance at a fast trot. Simultaneously, the young
shepherd's distress signal continued from one tribesman to another
along a desert telegraph to the black tents of the Ta'amireh
encampment.

As tribal chieftain, Telfik banu al-Fahl knew
the precise location where each of his teen-age boys pastured their
flocks. Four days before, he had given Mumud banu-Nazeem his
consent for a dangerous mission. Now that trouble had erupted, he
regretted having put the youngster in harm's way.

To save time mounting a rescue, Telfik
dispensed with the customary coffee at the tribal council and
granted Mumud's father only a few words before barking orders.
Several kinsmen were instructed to gather Lee Enfield rifles and 30
rounds of ammunition for each man; others, to pack three folding
tents along with coils of rappelling rope and two 5-gallon jerry
cans of fuel oil.

Only fourteen minutes after Mumud's message
had arrived in the Bedouin camp, ten of his tribesmen were racing
north over a desert track in a pair of Land Rovers, kicking up
behind them ferocious fantails of dust. Several kilometers ahead,
the camelmen had already turned from the flat desert sands into
rocky terrain, driving their beasts relentlessly in the direction
of their injured kinsman at Qumran.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

Seven hours earlier, under a still
star-bright sky, the Reverend Timothy Matternly brought
night-vision binoculars to his eyes, focusing on the opposite
mountainside. Only someone who knew what to look for would notice
how a tarpaulin camouflaged the entrance to a cave cleaved from the
dolomite and soft chalk. Occasionally, he would see a man open one
of its flaps and, for a brief moment, become silhouetted by faint
light from inside. Someone behind would pass buckets of dirt that
were scattered widely over the escarpment. Twice during this
night’s vigil, men emptied their bladders before disappearing back
into the cave.

Winter sun in the Judean Desert can be quite
warm, but after nightfall, the temperature drops to a bone-chilling
two degrees Celsius. Tim Matternly burrowed against cold rocks to
shelter himself from the January wind seeking to penetrate his
sweater, cap, and gloves, all as black as the charcoal coating his
face. To fortify his resolve, he stroked the stock of a World War
II carbine, a clip of 30-caliber ammunition locked below the
chamber. Often during the three nights he had been observing
thieves looting historical artifacts from this newly discovered
cave, he would envision scenarios in which bloodshed might become
necessary, reminding himself that he hadn't brought along a carbine
as a fashion accessory. He knew he was departing from the bookish
persona of a university professor and that his colleagues at the
University of Chicago would disapprove of what he was about to do,
though they might well understand his hunger to make contact with
their biblical ancestors. Like his Savior, who had died for a
higher purpose less than twenty-five kilometers from this very
spot, Tim prepared himself to act and, if necessary, suffer the
consequences.

Coiled beside him for warmth was the squat,
muscular body of Dominican priest Benoit Matteau, dean of the École
Biblique et Archéologique Française in Bethlehem, a man known to
possess eyes and ears everywhere in the Judean Desert. Nothing
happened in this remote wilderness by way of archeology that he
didn’t know about. Well, not exactly, because he hadn’t been privy
to the initial discovery of this new cave, a mere half-kilometer
from where the Dead Sea Scrolls had first been unearthed in 1947.
But through his network of Bedouin informants, he learned soon
enough that cave robbers were in the process of looting its
treasures.

Benoit had briefly considered sharing this
information with the Israel Antiquities Authority that regulates
and protects artifacts of its nation’s archeological history. But
throughout his forty-one years working in the Holy Land, he had
found the Israeli government annoyingly insensitive to the nuances
of Christian archeology. With respect to this newly discovered
cave, he was in no mood for cooperation. At sixty-eight years of
age, he couldn’t afford bureaucratic delays seeking official
permission to study what this new cave was certain to disgorge. He
stood firmly with Reverend Matternly on the need to snatch up its
treasures before thieves placed them on auction blocks in London,
Geneva, New York or, God forbid, E-bay!

Based on how dolomite walls in the original
Dead Sea caves had collapsed and required extensive excavation in
the prior half-century, Benoit and Tim knew that before anything
substantial could be extracted from this cave, large amounts of
dirt required displacement. Boring ventilation holes in the
dolomite was backbreaking toil, especially with the hand tools
needed for an operation in which secrecy was paramount. The clerics
planned to wait until the looters had completed this
labor-intensive toil then, as Father Benoit put it in the foul
language he cultivated for the startling effect it had on laymen,
"Let those bastards do the heavy lifting before we swoop in for
some judicious cherry picking."

For three nights, Benoit and Tim had been
observing looters avoiding being spotted by drone aircraft of the
Israel Air Force patrolling for terrorists. On this third night,
the illuminated dial on Tim’s watch confirmed that in two hours the
sun would rise in the east over the mountains of Moab. He listened
for the telltale growl of a drone in the night sky, its
high-intensity cameras missing virtually nothing. Fortunately, for
the moment, there was only the gentle whistle of wind through the
desert sage, a propitious time to abandon their observation post
and establish a new position on the opposite mountainside above the
cave entrance.

Faint shafts of daylight had begun to
penetrate the darkness as the clergymen approached the spot from
which they planned to rappel down to the cave. Along with dawn's
first light, came the looters who, precisely as they had done on
two previous mornings, ended their night’s work and began climbing
along rappelling lines secured nearby. Tim and Benoit strained to
hear what language they spoke, but, much like themselves, the
thieves honored the desert’s protocol of silence. The churchmen
stripped off their heavy night clothing to expose beneath light
camouflage tunics with multiple utility pockets stuffed with
equipment. They adjusted their backpacks and strapped headlamps
above stocking caps like miners in anticipation of darkness below
the earth's crust. In case one or more of the looters remained
inside the cave, they switched off the safeties on their
weapons.

A rising sun peeking over the hills in the
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan now exposed them to a new danger, for
in addition to the drone aircraft above, Israeli soldiers on the
ground were bound to be scanning the hills with high-powered field
glasses. Their government boasted that, within minutes, attack
helicopters armed with machine cannons and air-to-land missiles
could cover every square kilometer of desert. Against Israeli
firepower, Tim's antique carbine and Father Benoit’s 9-mm Uzi
wouldn’t stand a chance. And if discovery by the Israelis was not
enough, Bedouin grazing their flocks nearby were known to possess
the eyesight of Peregrine falcons.

Tim and Benoit quickly located the climbing
lines the looters had hidden and redeployed them. Hand signals
telegraphed when they were ready to rappel off the sandstone to the
cave entrance twenty-five meters below.

They lowered themselves along the hillside on
separate lines until they flanked the entrance, where a heavy
goatskin tarp stained in desert colors blended into the terrain.
Tim took a series of deep breaths to steady his nerves, then
readied himself to swing inside by poking the muzzle of his carbine
through a slit in the curtain. By releasing his footing, he let his
weight drop him through the tarp. The opening produced a shaft of
intense sunlight that startled one of the looters left behind on
guard. As far as Tim could see, the man was seated in the dark with
a rifle on his lap when the unexpected flash of light blinded him.
Tim was no more ready for combat because his carbine hung from his
shoulder on a leather strap and he needed both hands to stabilize
himself once inside the cave. The guard recovered a portion of his
sight a moment before Tim regained his balance. Two blasts of
bullets spewed from an automatic rifle he raised to spray the
invader. The first slugs slammed into the cave wall beside Tim's
hip; the second ripped through the tarpaulin to his right. He
imagined the burning sensation of lead tearing through his vital
organs and his life cascading into darkness. Were any ancient
treasures, however illuminating of the past and however valuable
for biblical scholarship, worth his life? The brief reflection
ended with the crack of more bullets—two, three, then three more in
an angry salvo.

But they were not from the guard. Tim saw
Father Benoit flying through a second slit in the tarp, his Uzi
flaring. The guard—who appeared to Tim as little more than a
shadow, toppled backward—but just as suddenly, the tarp slapped
closed and sunlight from the desert disappeared. Sounds of
scrambling filled the new darkness. Tim staggered for better
footing until his boot struck a metal object, sending it spinning
over the earthen floor. The beam of his headlamp suddenly circled
the walls and came to rest on the earth where the looters had left
a pile of black rubber tubs with rope handles commonly used to haul
dirt from archeological sites.

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