Lotán The Edomite

by Neph


Who is this who comes from Edom,
With garments of glowing colours from Bosra,
Majestic in his apparel,
Marching in the greatness of his strength? [Isaiah 63:1]

Respectfully dedicated
to the memory of RR
ob. February 21st 1980.

The days passed and became weeks. Lotán proved to be a very swift learner and, under Yannai's patient guidance, very shortly he spoke Hebrew almost like a native. Only a slight brogue gave his origin away, here and there, to the really attentive ear. Within a very short time it was clear to all who had eyes in their head that a very close bond had been created between these two boys. Yannai and Lotán were inseparable. The fact that Lotán was new to the country and to the people gave Yannai the opportunity to get out and about a bit, something that worried the lady Salomé Alexandra very much. Yannai was never allowed outside without an armed guard, even when accompanied by Lotán - which was always.

One day the two lads had climbed to the highest spot in the city. They looked east towards the Judean desert which could clearly be seen from their high vantage point. The sight of the distant desert landscape made Lotán homesick. "Then, let's see what we can see on the other side," said Yannai, who felt a great unease when Lotán spoke of his homesickness. They looked westward, as the land fell down hill from the city's perch into verdant fields and fruit orchards, and then rolling hills, painted in varied shades of green and brown. "What's that glistening in the far distance?" asked Lotán, shielding his eyes with his hand. "That's the sea," replied Yannai.

"What is the sea?" asked Lotán quite casually. It was only then that Yannai realized that this son of the desert had never even heard of the sea, let alone seen the sea. He told his mother that he and Lotán were going down to the coast for a couple of days. She was most disturbed about this, but in the end agreed to the trip provided the two boys were accompanied by at least 5 armed guards. Thus it was that for three whole days they ran naked across the virgin sands of the Mediterranean beach, splashed around frolicking in the cool waters and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Yannai taught Lotán how to swim. "I love swimming," he told his friend. "But I think that swimming in a pool is better than swimming in the sea. I'd go anywhere, any time, to spend time swimming in a pool." Upon their return from the coast, Yannai celebrated his fourteenth birthday. Lotán had no idea when his birthday was, so they just assumed that he was fourteen too.

* * * * *

One day, when Salomé Alexandra and the two boys were seated at lunch, Asdri'el came into the dining area much flustered and full of a sense of self importance. "His majesty, the King and High Priest!" he announced.

The lady Salomé Alexandra rose and went towards the doorway to greet her august guest. "Welcome, welcome indeed, Matityahu Antigonus, welcome to your brother's home."

"Thank you, Salomé Alexandra, you are most gracious; but this is no longer my brother's home: Alexander is dead and the mansion is yours."

The king kissed his sister-in-law on both cheeks. "Won't you join us for luncheon, Matityahu Antigonus?"

"No thank you, my dear. I have already eaten. And in any case, my visit is an urgent one. I have to direct the war, you know."

"The war, the war!" moaned Salomé Alexandra. "Why can't that wretched man leave us all alone and go back into the desert where his ancestors came from!"

"Herod was named king by the Roman Senate, and neither he nor they will rest in peace until he has ousted me from my father's kingdom and he has placed the crown of Judah on his own head."

"He will never succeed!" exclaimed Salomé Alexandra patriotically.

"He may very well succeed, sister," interjected the king. "And that brings me to the point of my visit."

"Boys, leave us, please," said the lady Salomé Alexandra. The boys rose from their stools, their lunch still unfinished.

"No, sister, with your leave," said Matityahu Antigonus, "since this concerns Jonathan Aristobulos, perhaps he should stay."

The boys sat down eagerly, all ears, for they knew full well that Yannai's mother could never gainsay the king.

"I have been fighting for my kingdom now for two years, ever since the Romans decided that Herod should be king instead of me. I am king because my father was king - even though some twelve years have passed since he was arrested by the Romans and taken to Rome where they cut off his head." The boys shuddered at the mention of this act of barbarity. "The war is not going in my favour. I shall hold out for as long as I can, but I fear that the day may come when Herod will defeat me and reign in my place. If and when that day comes, I do not know what will become of me. I think that it is highly unlikely that I shall live." He said this almost as a matter of fact, with all emotion suppressed, if there was any emotion.

"Our dynasty," he continued, "has ruled our land and our people now for nearly one hundred and thirty years. But I have no children. If anything should happen to me - and something is bound to happen to me sooner or later - there will only be the last surviving member of our dynasty to carry on."

Then he turned to Yannai. "Jonathan Aristobulos, how old are you now?"

"Fourteen. Nearly fifteen."

"Good. Old enough to understand. When I am no longer around you must remember that you are your grandfather's grandson. It is to you that all eyes will turn."

Yannai bowed his head and nodded.

The king now turned to his sister-in-law. "Sister, if Herod becomes king you must do everything you can to ensure the safety of both your children."

"Of course, Matityahu Antigonus. That goes without saying. Miriam is abroad at school. I do not think any harm can come to her there."

"Of course harm can come to her there! Salomé Alexandra, you do not know this man! He can be a monster!"

"Then what must I do?" asked Salomé Alexandra in a frightened voice.

"If Herod becomes king, bring Miriam Mariamne home and do your best to marry her off to Herod."

"What?" exclaimed both Yannai and his mother simultaneously.

"Be serious, Matti!" In her consternation she forgot to address him with his proper names.

"I am serious, sister. The only way to protect both Miriam Mariamne and Jonathan Aristobulos will be to make Miriam Herod's wife. I do not think that he would dare harm either his wife or his brother-in-law."

"What if Miriam doesn't want to marry Herod?" asked Yannai.

"Jonathan Aristobulos, hear me. To be a king or a queen means above all else to do your duty, to do what is right for your people and your country. You will never have the right to put your own convenience first. Miriam must marry Herod because that is what the country requires. She will be your insurance policy. You must survive at all costs."

Again Yannai bowed his head and nodded.

"And what if Herod doesn't want to marry Miriam?" asked Salomé Alexandra.

"Oh, he will. Believe me, he will. First of all, it will ensure that his heir will also be of our Hasmonean house. Secondly, and more importantly, I recently sent for a picture of my niece. She will certainly and absolutely capture his heart. He runs lustfully after anything pretty that wears a skirt."

"Matityahu Antigonus! Really! I do beg you!" spluttered Salomé Alexandra.

The king ignored the protest.

"Well, sister, I think that about completes what I had to say here and I must now get back to doing my best to deal with Herod and his forces."

He rose to go. He took Yannai's hand in his. "Be very careful, nephew, and always remember who you are and what you are. God be with you always."

Then he turned to Lotán. "I know all about you, young man. My agents have checked you out thoroughly. Look after your friend, even with your very life. He needs all the protection he can get."

With that he turned and left.

"* * * * *

"Yannai, you owe me an explanation!" They were back in 'their' suite in the mansion. Lotán was indignant and disturbed.

"What do you want to know, Lotán?"

"What was all that about dynasties and kings and danger...?"

"Let's sit down and I'll tell you all you want to know."

They sat down on the veranda, throwing the ball into the garden for Caleb to retrieve.

"My family has ruled this country ever since our ancestor, Judah the Maccabee, and his brothers liberated our people from the Syrian overlords. That's more than one hundred years ago. Since my family is descended from the priestly line, all the kings in our dynasty have served as High Priest as well.

"Both my grandfathers were king and high priest. My mother's father is still alive, but he was deposed as being incompetent by his brother, my other grandfather. My parents were cousins," he added by way of explanation. "My father's father was deposed by the Romans and taken to Rome where they beheaded him, as you heard. That was about twelve years ago. His son, the uncle that you just met, has held the throne after him. But two years ago an upstart whose ancestors were not even Jewish persuaded the Roman Senate to appoint him King of the Jews. They did so, leaving him to fight his own way to the throne. He has been waging a war against my uncle for two years now."

"Is that the Herod that they talked about?"

"Yes. My mother's father, when he was king and high priest, appointed Herod's father, Antipatros, to be his chief advisor. The adviser immediately appointed his own sons to positions of authority and Herod was made governor of Galilee. He has been bettering himself ever since. Everyone says that he is an extremely unpleasant, selfish man."

"How does all this affect you?"

"I will be the last surviving male heir of our dynasty if anything happens to my uncle. The family, and most of the people, would want to see me king and high priest. Herod would want to see me dead. That's the truth of it."

"So your uncle, the king, asked me, Lotán the Edomite, to protect you?"

Yannai was silent for some long seconds. Then he turned to Lotán and said, "Lotán, you don't have to worry about me if you don't want to. That's not why I made you my friend and that's not why I still want you as my friend. I would want you as my friend whatever happened."

Lotán said nothing. Yannai stood up, disappointed and abashed. Suddenly there was Lotán down on one knee before him. "Jonathan Aristobulos, last scion of the Hasmonean dynasty, I will do my best to protect you and defend you even if it should cost me my life."

"Yannai knelt down beside him. "Lotán, dearest soul, why would you do this for me? I am unworthy."

Almost in a whisper, Lotán murmured, "Because I love you, Yannai."

"What do you mean, you love me?"

"I have loved you from the day I first saw you in the entrance way of this mansion. I have adored you. I never want to leave you. I have spent night after night at your side hoping, praying to Caus that you would... would..."

"Would what, Lotán?" Yannai's voice was very gentle, quivering with emotion.

Suddenly Lotán drew up the courage to say it the only way he knew how. "Yannai, please. I want to be your pretty boy. I want to be your plaything for the rest of my life."

Suddenly Yannai was filled with regal rage, righteous indignation. He slapped Lotán hard on the side of his cheek. "How dare you say that!?"

Lotán was devastated. His world was falling apart. Yannai had rejected him. They could no longer be friends. He could no longer stay in this mansion. He had let his heart rule his tongue and so he had made it impossible to keep the oath he had taken just a few moments earlier. It was too much to bear. He fell to the ground, sobbing. Yannai pulled Lotán to his feet. "I never want to hear you say that you are my fancy boy again, Lotán." Then, very gently indeed, he said, "I want you to be my life-partner, my companion, my lover. I want you to share my bed. I want you to share my body. I want you to share my life, whatever fortune holds."

Lotán looked up at Yannai, hardly believing what he was hearing. Yannai brushed away the tears from Lotán's eyes with his little finger. "I love you, Lotán the Edomite. I love you with all my heart. I think I have loved you since you first came into this house. I just never had the courage to tell you. I thought you would just ... know."

Their emotions were so strong at that point that the two heads were drawn irresistibly towards each other until lips touched, at first gently and then more and more ferociously with tongues intertwining. When they parted, Yannai whispered, "Lotán, please love me as I love you, with all my heart and soul."

"I love you, Yannai. I shall never desert you. You are king of my life and lord of my soul. My heart you captured many months ago. Now my body is yours as well."

Gently, Yannai untied the sash of Lotán's kilt and let it fall to the floor. He went down on his knees and gently touched the waking member, and then he kissed it on the tip. "Yannai, you kissed my 'dagger'," said Lotán hoarsely.

"Touch me, Lotán, feel me. Please touch me. Now! I can't wait any longer. I have yearned for your touch all these past months."

Lotán loosed Yannai's kilt and let it drop to the floor. Yannai took Lotán's hand and pushed it onto his own penis, which by now was pulsing quite painfully. Lotán let his hand gently cup Yannai's balls. "You are so beautiful, Yannai. You are an angel from heaven. I don't deserve you."

"Come to bed, Lotán. Come to bed now! Let me feel that 'dagger' of yours. Let us at long last become one, indivisible."

They fell down next to each other on the two pallets. All night long Lotán taught Yannai everything that Shovál had taught him on the caravan trek. All night long Yannai taught Lotán much more. Yannai taught him how what he had learned enhanced the meaning of a love so deep that its ultimate depths could never be plunged.

"* * * * *

The days passed and became weeks; the weeks passed and became months and another year had gone. The boys were chafing and restless because, for several weeks now, despite Yannai's most impetuous and peremptory demands, his mother had absolutely refused to let them out of the house, not even with an armed guard. Indeed, two armed guards were stationed, night and day, at every entrance to the mansion. For several long days there was no real news. Eventually Yannai instructed Samson to go out into the city and find out what was going on - everything that his mother was keeping from them.

The news was devastating. A few days ago, Herod had at last taken control of Jerusalem; he was now King of the Jews in fact as well as in name. His first act as king had been to hand Matityahu Antigonus over to the Roman general Marcus Antonius who had Uncle Matti beheaded like his father.

Lotán looked at Yannai, fear and consternation in his eyes. "What happens now, Yannai?" he asked, a trembling in his voice. Yannai stood ramrod straight, shoulders erect and head held high and he said quietly but defiantly, "We will do everything that we can to survive and continue the Hasmonean dynasty." Lotán was not sure whether the 'we' included him or was the regal 'we'. He did not ask.

Suddenly, there was a commotion at the other end of the mansion, shouts of joy and greetings. Voices were raised in jubilation. Yannai jumped up shouting, "Come on! Miriam's home!" And he rushed out of the apartment with Lotán following in his wake. They skidded to a halt in the entrance way. There was the lady Salomé Alexandra hugging a young woman, just back from school with all her baggage still in the doorway. Servants were standing around beaming. The moment she saw him Miriam held out her arms to her brother who rushed forward and threw himself into her arms. "Miri, Miri, you're home at last! It's been so long! I have missed you so much." Lotán looked at the brother and sister hugging each other and for the first time in his life he felt the pangs of jealousy. Although she was a year older than her brother, Miriam was a head shorter than Yannai. But she was beautiful, really beautiful. She was as beautiful in a very feminine way as Yannai was beautiful as a man; for, yes, Yannai had almost reached manhood now that he was sixteen years old. Miriam's golden hair reached almost to her waist, her breasts were very full, her waist slight: she exuded beauty and inviting womanhood.

At last the brother and sister fell apart and Yannai turned round. "Miri, there's someone I want you to meet." Taking Lotán by the hand, he introduced him to his sister. "This is my very special friend, Miri." Miri raised enquiring eyebrows and Yannai gave a slight nod.

"How wonderful to meet you at last, Lotán," she said. "I have heard much about you from Yannai's letters." Letters? thought Lotán. I didn't know that Yannai had written to her about me. What had he told her? She drew him into her embrace and kissed him on each cheek. As she did so, she whispered, "Love him, Lotán, love him with all your heart. He is so very special." So she knew. And she approved.

The family which, of course, included Lotán, assembled in the sitting room of Salomé Alexandra for a family council. "Despite the times being dangerous for our family," the lady Alexandra began, "I have brought Miriam Mariamne home. I think you all know why." There was silence. Neither of the boys wanted to even think about the reason. Miriam sat regally, outwardly unperturbed. "While she was away, I had Miriam's portrait made. I sent the portrait to ... king... Herod." It was difficult for her even to name the man, let alone give him his new title. "He has indicated a great interest and wants Miriam to visit him."

"Miri, would you marry this man if he wants you?" asked Yannai.

"Jonathan Aristobulos," she said, "you know that we Hasmoneans will always do our duty." With her words she had not only answered him, but also given him a reminder that in many ways he was no longer his own master. That evening, in the privacy of their apartment, Lotán said, "She is very beautiful and very gracious." "Yes, my Lotán, she is both beautiful and gracious; but, in my eyes, there is no one as beautiful and as gracious as you. Come to me."

The night they spent together left no doubt in Lotán's mind that however much Yannai loved his sister, his love for Lotán had not changed or diminished one iota. That night, their lovemaking was prolonged, passionate, exhausting and very satisfying.

"* * * * *

Within a few days Herod paid a visit to see the woman whose portrait had set his loins afire. Proudly and pompously, Asdri'el announced to the assembled family, "His Majesty King Herod." Salomé Alexandra rose to greet the man who had murdered her brother-in-law, choking back her revulsion. "Your majesty," she said graciously. "Welcome to my home."

"I do not think it is your home, dear lady," said Herod unctuously. Then he turned directly to face Yannai. "I think that this young man must be the head of the family now," he said, and there was just a hint of a veiled threat in his tone. Yannai bowed his head and said coldly, "In filial respect, I defer to my mother."

"Very well," said Herod, carefully noting the young man's cool, but polite defiance. "And who is this?" he asked, turning his attention to Lotán.

"This is Lotán," said Yannai. "He is my good friend."

Herod looked at Lotán inquisitively. His native wit put two and two together and got the probable result of four. "Where are you from?" he suddenly asked Lotán.

"I came to this country from my homeland four years ago, Sire," said Lotán. Lotán had been looking at Herod very carefully. Although three or four generations had passed, the man definitely had all the features of Edom: swarthy skin, hair short and wiry.

"I know your homeland and I know when you came to my country. And I think I know why you have remained in this house," said Herod. His face was benign, but his voice still had that vague tone of threatening. 'His agents have been at work already,' thought Lotán.

At last he turned his attention to Miriam. "And this is the lady Miriam Mariamne," he said, his tongue moistening his lips. "I know you from your portrait. And I must tell you that the painter lied. You are far more beautiful than he portrayed you." Miri sat demurely, head bowed, and made no reply. The boorish man was trying to court this young girl. Suddenly, with no attempt at preparation, he asked, "Would you be prepared to be Queen of the Jews?"

"I am your servant, Sire. I shall obey you in every way," said Miri quietly.

"Well then," said Herod. "A match with you would be greatly advantageous to me as well as a great honour to you, my dear. You would become queen and any children that you bear me would be Herodian and Hasmonean princes at the same time. Wouldn't they, Jonathan Aristobulos?" he said, suddenly wheeling round on his heels to confront Yannai.

"They would, indeed, Herod son of Antipatros," replied Yannai unflustered. Herod made a mental note that this young man could be a formidable opponent. But, if he married this luscious wench, the boy would be his brother-in-law and he would be able to keep him in check. It would be much safer that way. But he is far too beautiful. He rivals his sister in beauty. But she must be mine. She must warm my bed. She sets my loins on fire.

He came out of his private thoughts. "Very well, ma'am," he said addressing Miri. "I shall do you the honour of making you my queen. Our nuptials will take place as soon as possible, just as soon as the lawyers have arranged my divorce from that bitch Doris and disinherited her son." He strode towards the door and turned to face the family. "Be ready, all of you, when the call comes." With that he strode out of the door.

"* * * * *

"That donkey-fucking, camel-shagging, weasel dagger-sucking son of an Edomite whore! That monster! That apology for a king! That..." Yannai grew ever more impatient because his power of invention ran out of expletives long before his anger had dissipated.

"Shush, calm down," said Lotán.

"I don't know how Miri took it. How could she demean herself like that?"

"She did what she had to do , just as you will do what you have to do."

"But he doesn't even love her!"

"Love her? Are you mad, Yannai? You only have to look at him to see that he is completely besotted with her. He lusts for her. He wants to fuck her again and again from now till kingdom come. With a lust like that there is no room for love."

"Oh fuck! Shit! Mighty Gehenna!"

"Jonathan Aristobulos! Really!" said Lotán doing a perfect mimic of Yannai's mother.

That stopped Yannai in full charge. He caught his breath and then they both laughed uncontrollably. The laughter was a release for the frustration, the indignation, the anger, the despair that had built up more and more during and after the meeting with Herod. "Come here," said Lotán, seductively, drawing Yannai towards him in an embrace. "He may think she's beautiful, but you are more beautiful than anyone else in the world."

"You're just saying that, silly."

"No I'm not. You are beautiful. And it's not just me who thinks so."

"What do you mean?"

"Did you see how he looked at Miri?"

"Of course I did. He was so common, so uncouth."

"He was mentally undressing her."

"What!? How do you know?"

I have seen that look in the eyes so often before."

"Where have you seen it?"

"Yannai, you just have to walk down the street and men stop and stare at you, gobbling up your beauty, and imagining to themselves what you look like with no clothes on. You just don't see it. You are oblivious to it. I'm not."

"Do you try to imagine me with no clothes on, Lotán," asked Yannai slyly.

"I did when we first met. You bet I did. But now I don't have to any more."

"Why don't you have to?" asked Yannai with wicked coyness.

Lotán reached forward and slipped both his hands underneath Yannai's kilt. He let his hands gently caress the two delicious round globes of Yannai's butt. "Because I can strip you naked whenever I want to." His hands moved round to the front and cupped two smaller balls. "I can have my way with you whenever I want, young man." Then Lotán found Yannai's penis, hot, engorged and ready. "And to prove it..." With that he undid the kilt and let it fall to the floor.

"But, sir! You know, there is a price to pay if you want to have your way with me." Yannai clasped Lotán to him and ran his hands across the skin of Lotán's back. "When you have your way with me, I have my way with you." His fingers tweaked Lotán's nipples and at the same time he began pressing his erect member against Lotán's kilt. "I want you to know that the very first day I so much wanted to see what you had under that ridiculous gulta. I lured you into the bath that day just to see you naked. But now I don't have to imagine because," he pulled open Lotán's kilt and let it fall to the floor, "I can see your beautiful body any time I like."

"Take me, I'm yours."

"And I'm yours for ever."

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