CHRISTMS *'4m3f A one-hour old-fashion melodrama about Christmas

The birth of Jesus didn't happen this way, but it could have.

ONE SET: A Bethlehem street. Whitewashed mud buildings and
arches or a bare stage. No scene changes or curtain cues.

Herod      Rich, greedy, lustful villain
Natasha    Romanian gypsy con artist
Nathan     The handsome hero rabbi
Esther     The beautiful heroine
Mary       The Biblical mother of Jesus
Joseph     The Biblical father of Jesus
(all bit parts can be played by one person)
voice of God
Herod's son

SUMMARY: Natasha drifts into Bethlehem and sees Herod as an easy
mark. She sells Herod his own throne. Then, she tries to sell
Herod Nathan's betrothed bride, Esther, telling him that she is
a princess and the chosen mother of the messiah. Herod, a
descendant of Esau would love to embarrass the God of Israel by
defiling the virgin mother. When Herod finds out that Esther is
neither a princess nor the chosen mother of the messiah, he goes
to great lengths to make sure that the messiah is not born in
Bethlehem, as prophecied by the God of Israel. All of his
efforts are rebuffed by Nathan, a Godly rabbi, whom God assigned
to protect Mary and Joseph. In protecting them, Nathan endangers
his own future marriage to Esther. But, in the end, the Lord's
plan and purpose prevails.

(Note: Natasha's Romanian accent:
W pronounced V
V pronounced W
short i pronounced eee
short u pronounced ooo
h pronounced (like you're clearing your throat)
th pronounced Z
ing pronounced eeenG (hard G)
"How wonderful, darling" = "Hhhhhhow Vonderrrrfoool, DarrrleenG")

                     CHRISTMAS FOR PROPHET
                          by Bob Snook

NATASHA -- (slinks onstage, acknowledges boos) Please, darlings,
show a little kindness for a poor unfortunate widow. I am but a
stranger here in Bethlehem. I came here to eek out a meager
living. Is that too much to ask?

MESSENGER -- (enters, carrying scroll) Excuse me, can you tell
me where I might find a man named Herod?

NATASHA -- Herod? (overemphasizing the r's)

MESSENGER -- No, his name is Herod.

NATASHA -- That is what I said.


NATASHA -- This Herod you're looking for, he wouldn't happen to
have a lot of money, would he?

MESSENGER -- I'm told he's the richest man in Israel.

NATASHA -- (smiles to audience, raises eye brows) Oh, really?

MESSENGER -- You know him?

NATASHA -- As a matter of fact, darling, I am Herod's personal
secretary. What do you wish to see him about?

MESSENGER -- (holds up scroll) I have a message for him.

NATASHA -- (reaches) I'll take the message, darling.

MESSENGER -- (withdraws) I'm supposed to deliver the message
directly to Herod himself.

NATASHA -- Herod is a very busy man, darling. I'm sure you can
appreciate that he doesn't want every Tom, Dick and Harry
bothering him. Perhaps, if you'll just let me take a peek at
that message.... (reaches)

MESSENGER -- (withdraws) I was told that this message was for
his eyes only.

NATASHA -- (pushes Messenger toward exit) Herod is really too
busy now. Why don't you just go back to... Jerusalem and come
back another time. (turns, crosses)

MESSENGER -- (follows) But this message is from Rome.

NATASHA -- (smiles to audience, raises eye brows) I suppose the
next thing you're going to tell me is that you're message is
from emperor Caesar himself, ey, darling?

MESSENGER -- Well, as a matter of fact, it is.

NATASHA -- (smiles to audience, raises eye brows) Listen,
darling, I hate to doubt your word, but you have no idea how
many people come here wanting to see Herod and claiming to be
somebody important. (pushes messenger back) So, why don't you be
a good boy and go home.

MESSENGER -- Oh, I couldn't do that. The emperor would be very
angry with me if I didn't deliver this message.

NATASHA -- Pardon me while I yawn. (fakes a yawn)

MESSENGER -- Alright, I'll just tell you what it says.

NATASHA -- (smiles to audience, raises eye brows) Don't tell me
you snooped into the message, darling?

MESSENGER -- Please don't tell.

NATASHA -- (harshly) What's in the message, gonzo?

MESSENGER -- The emperor is going to make Herod King of the

NATASHA -- (smiles to audience, raises eye brows) Very
interesting. (pushes Messenger offstage) You wait here, while I
fetch Herod.

MESSENGER -- Please don't tell anyone that I peeked at the
message. (exits)

NATASHA -- You're secret is safe with me, darling. (points
offstage, backing away) Sit. Stay. Good dog.

HEROD -- (enters opposite, backward, shaking finger) I'm not a
charity! Pay up or get out! (acknowledges boos) Business is
business. (points offstage) I would have kicked her out long
ago, if she weren't my mother.

NATASHA -- (crosses to Herod) You must be Herod.

HEROD -- (clutches money pouch) Who are you? You're not getting
any of my money!

NATASHA -- (turns) Very well, I shall find somebody else for the

HEROD -- (follows) Job? What job?

NATASHA -- (speaking over shoulder) The emperor asked me to find
a suitable king for the Jews. But I don't suppose you'd be

HEROD -- Emperor?! Emperor Caesar sent you?

NATASHA -- Do you know any other emperor in Rome?

HEROD -- (walks around in front of Natasha, stops her) I'd like
to be King of the Jews!

NATASHA -- (smiles to audience, raises eye brows) I'm not sure
you could meet the qualifications.

HEROD -- What are they?

NATASHA -- The emperor hired me because I am a palm reader....

HEROD -- (pushes his hand in Natasha's face) Here, read my palm!

NATASHA -- Oh, very well (takes his hand pokes his palm) Uh,
huh! Uh huh! Oh, oh.

HEROD -- What's the matter?

NATASHA -- You're life line and your heart line are fine, but...

HEROD -- But what?

NATASHA -- But, you're royalty line is not at all well

HEROD -- My royalty line? I didn't even know I had a royalty
line? (examines hand)

NATASHA -- Now you know why. Sorry. (attempts to exit)

HEROD -- (steps in front of her) Wait. I really would like to be
King of the Jews. (pulls out money pouch) I don't suppose we
could make an arrangement.

NATASHA -- (smiles to audience, raises eye brows, holds out hand)
What kind of arrangement did you have in mind, darling?

HEROD -- (aside to audience) Frankly, I don't trust this woman
any farther than I can throw an elephant. But, if I were to
become King, I would not only be rich, I could be powerful too.
(digs into pouch) Perhaps twelve shekels of silver would
lengthen my royalty line...

NATASHA -- (attempts to exit) I really don't think you have what
it takes to be King.

HEROD -- (steps into her paths) I'm sorry, did I say twelve? I
meant twenty.

NATASHA -- (attempts to exit) Your royalty line is far to

HEROD -- (steps into her paths) I'm sorry, did I say twenty? I

NATASHA -- (hand out, harshly) Did want to be King, or not,

HEROD -- ... oh, alright you can have fifty. (drops pouch into
her hand)

NATASHA -- (smiles to audience, raises eye brows, bows) Your
Majesty. (pushes Herod toward messenger's exit) Now, there's a
messenger out here who will show you where to get your crown.
Good bye. (crosses counting coins in pouch, shouts) Nice doing
business with you, Your Majesty.

NATHAN -- (enters opposite, dancing, stops briefly to
acknowledge audience applause)

NATASHA -- Well, hello, darling. Why are you so happy? Did you
inherit some money? (to audience) I hope.

NATHAN -- Alas, no. I am as poor as a church mouse.

NATASHA -- (disappointed) Oh.

NATHAN -- I'm happy because I'm getting married today. (dances)

NATASHA -- I don't suppose your wife is wealthy.

NATHAN -- Actually, I have no idea. But it doesn't matter. I'm
told she is very beautiful.

NATASHA -- You're told? You mean you've never seen the woman
you're going to marry?

NATHAN -- Of course not. It's a custom in my family for the
parents to choose the bride for their son and to keep the
identity of the bride a secret until the day of the wedding.
(stops dancing) You're not from around her are you?

NATASHA -- No, I am just a poor widow roaming abroad trying to
eek out a living wherever I can. (aside to audience) I wonder
what price King Herod would pay for a beautiful... (to Nathan)
Tell me, this woman,... is she a virgin?

NATHAN -- Excuse me?

NATASHA -- A virgin. I she a virgin.

NATHAN -- A weerrrgeen?

NATASHA -- You know, a woman who has never been married.

NATHAN -- Oh! A virgin!

NATASHA -- That's what I said, didn't I?

NATHAN -- Oh, yes, of course she's a virgin. I'm a rabbi.
Rabbi's are not allowed to marry women who have been married
before. Why do you ask?

NATASHA -- Does she live here in Bethlehem?

NATHAN -- No, she's coming from up north, from Nazareth near the
Sea of Galilee. Why?

NATASHA -- And she's coming today?

NATHAN -- Yes, she should be arriving any minute. Why are you
asking all these questions?

NATASHA -- (smiles to audience, raises eye brows, turns to
Nathan) And your name is....

NATHAN -- Nathan. My name is Nathan. Why are you asking all
these questions?

NATASHA -- Oh, dear. Oh, dear.

NATHAN -- What's the matter?

NATASHA -- I was hoping I would not find you. I was hoping
beyond hope that I would never have to tell you the bad news.

NATHAN -- What bad news? What are you talking about?

NATASHA -- On my way into town I came across a woman who had
been beaten and robbed.

NATHAN -- Oh, no!

NATASHA -- She died in my arms.

NATHAN -- Oh, no!

NATASHA -- Yes, darling, but she made me promise to find
a rabbi named.... what was your name again?

NATHAN -- Nathan.

NATASHA -- Oh, dear. She said, (cough, cough, grabs Nathan's
tunic) "Find my Nathan, and tell him... tell him..."

NATHAN -- Yes? Yes? Tell me what?

NATASHA -- "Tell Nathan to reimburse the widow lady for my
burial expenses".

NATHAN -- Oh, I'm sorry, I'd love to but I can't. I'm as poor as
a church mouse.

NATASHA -- (to audience) It was worth a try.

NATHAN -- Excuse me? (look out to audience)

NATASHA -- Nothing.

NATHAN -- Well, where is her grave? I should bring flowers.

NATASHA -- Oh, ah, I buried her in an unmarked grave in the
pauper's graveyard on the north side of town.

NATHAN -- The pauper's graveyard is on the east side of town.

NATASHA -- (exiting) East side, I meant east. Well, I delivered
the news. Sorry. I have to go now. (exits)

NATHAN -- (follows) Tell me, was she beautiful?

NATASHA -- (reenters, harsh) She was gorgeous and she was a
wonderful cook. (exiting) Get over it.

NATHAN -- (kneels) Oh, Lord, I thank you that you graciously
chose a beautiful wife for me. But I am sad that you took her
from me. I just want you to know that I won't hold it against
you. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the
name of the Lord. I will serve you with all of my strength
until the day I die.

GOD -- (voiceover) Nathan.

NATHAN -- I will teach your word. I will serve you with the
sweat of my brow.

GOD -- Nathan.

NATHAN -- There is nothing I wouldn't do for you.

GOD -- Nathan! Would you be quiet and listen?

NATHAN -- Sorry, Lord, I'm listening.

GOD -- Nathan, we're about to be interrupted, but I have
something important to tell you. I am coming to earth and I will
occupy the body of a man....

NATHAN -- I know, Lord, I've read all the prophecies....

GOD -- Just be quiet and let me finish before we're interrupted.

NATHAN -- Oh, sure, Lord.

GOD -- I will be born as a baby and I have selected the parents
who will raise me. But I am assigning you to safeguard the
parents during the pregnancy.

NATHAN -- Oh, you can count on me, Lord, you know I'll do my
very ....

GOD -- Nathan! Give it a rest!

NATHAN -- Sorry, Lord. I'm listening.

GOD -- The father will be your lifelong friend Joseph and the
mother will be....

(frying pan clanks offstage)

ESTHER -- (enters holding head, moaning)

NATHAN -- The mother will be... Who will be the mother, Lord?

ESTHER -- (drops to knees, falls back into Nathan's arms)

NATASHA -- (follows Esther, wielding frying pan, halts, lurks)

NATHAN -- Oh, dear. Who will be the mother, Lord? (looks at
Esther) Her? Is it her, Lord? I'm sorry for interrupting, Lord.
I don't blame you for not wanting to talk to me, Lord, but could
you just tell me if it's her?

ESTHER -- (moans) Oh, who hit me?

NATHAN -- I think maybe the Lord was swinging at me and he
missed. I'm sorry.

ESTHER -- (faints)

NATHAN -- Oh, boy, this really looks bad. Here I am with the
Joseph's future wife in my arms. Lord, I really messed things up
this time. Maybe you should get yourself another guardian for
the messiah. Lord, are you listening?

ESTHER -- (groans, holds head) Where am I?

NATHAN -- You've been hit on the head and it must have given you
amnesia. Let me see.

ESTHER -- (removes hand) Who are you?

NATHAN -- (touches wound)

ESTHER -- What am I doing here... ouch!

NATHAN -- Oh, I'm sorry. You've got a big lump there. This is
all my fault.

ESTHER -- Did you hit me?

NATHAN -- Oh, no, I would never do such a thing. I don't know
who hit you.

ESTHER -- Where am I?

NATHAN -- I'm sorry to say you're in my arms.

ESTHER -- No, I mean, I don't recognize this place.

NATHAN -- Oh, yes. You're in Bethlehem.

ESTHER -- Bethlehem.

NATHAN -- Yes.

ESTHER -- I was going to Bethlehem... for some reason.

NATHAN -- Could it be you're here to marry someone?

ESTHER -- Yes, that's it. I was going to Bethlehem to marry

NATHAN -- Who? Who are you going to marry?

NATASHA -- (moves closer, raises frying pan to strike)

ESTHER -- I... I don't remember.

NATASHA -- (retreats slightly)

ESTHER -- Whoever he is, I hope he's as handsome and gentle as

NATHAN -- Nothing would please me more than if it was me. But,
alas, my intended bride has died. Could your future husband's
name be Joseph?

ESTHER -- I... I'm sorry, I... I don't remember.

NATHAN -- What's your name?

ESTHER -- My name is... My name is... Isn't that funny? I can't
remember my own name.

NATASHA -- Her name is Esther.

NATHAN -- What are you doing with that frying pan?

NATASHA -- Frying pan? (drops frying pan with a loud clank) What
frying pan?

NATHAN -- That frying pan.

NATASHA -- Oh, that frying pan! Lunch. I just had lunch. The
young lady's name is Esther. She is the great great great
granddaughter of King Xerxes and Queen Esther. She just came to
Bethlehem to marry King Herod.

ESTHER -- Esther. Yes, that's it. My name is... Esther.

NATASHA -- We've been looking all over for you, Your Majesty,
come with me. (helps Esther to her feet)

NATHAN -- Wait a minute. Herod is not a King.

NATASHA -- Yes, he is. The Roman emperor just made him King of
the Jews.

NATHAN -- Herod can't be King of the Jews. Herod is not even a
Jew, he's an Edomite. Edomites hate the Jews.

NATASHA -- I assure you, Herod is now King. He is being crowned
King of the Jews as we speak. Come along, Esther.

NATHAN -- Wait a minute. I thought... I thought Esther was
supposed to be the mother of the coming messiah.

NATASHA -- Excuse me?

NATHAN -- Oh, nothing. It was my mistake. I mistook her for the
future mother of the coming messiah.

NATASHA -- Perhaps she is. What's a messiah?

NATHAN -- When the God of the universe comes to earth as a human
being, he will be called the messiah, the savior.

NATASHA -- This messiah, he will be born of royal blood, no?

NATHAN -- Well, yes, of course.

NATASHA -- (aside to audience) What a wonderful idea. King Herod
would pay handsomely if he thought his new bride was not only a
beautiful princess, but also the mother of the coming messiah.
(to Nathan) Well, she's the one then.

NATHAN -- The one what?

NATASHA -- The mother of the messiah. Like you said.

NATHAN -- (scratches head) Wait a minute. I'm not sure there's
anything in the prophecy about the father of the messiah being
an Edomite. And I'm quite sure that God just told me that my
friend Joseph would be the father. (moves toward exit)

ESTHER -- Where are you going? (holds out hand)

NATHAN -- Oh, I'm going to go to the synagogue to read the
Bible, to see if an Edomite is mentioned in the prophecies.

ESTHER -- Please don't go.

NATHAN -- Oh, you're right. (returns, holds Esther's hand) The
Lord told me to safeguard the messiah until he is born. On the
other hand, if my friend Joseph is supposed to be the father,
then I might be protecting the wrong mother. Oh, dear. I really
messed up this time. You wait here. (exiting) I'll just run over
to the synagogue and consult the Bible scrolls and be right

ESTHER -- Please hurry.

NATASHA -- Save your affection for your husband, darling. Oh,
speak of the devil! King Herod is coming down the street. Wait
here. (crosses to Herod)

HEROD -- (enters wearing crown) Well, how do I look in my new

NATASHA -- Rich. Very rich.

HEROD -- (walks by Natasha, oggling Esther) Oh, say, look what
we have here!

NATASHA -- (grabs Herod's elbow, turns him in circle) Not so
fast, buster! I hope you brought your money.

HEROD -- You mean, she's for sale?

NATASHA -- You can't afford this woman.

HEROD -- How much?

NATASHA -- Too much for you. She a virgin.

HEROD -- A weergeen? What's a weergeen?

NATASHA -- You know, a woman who has never been married.

HEROD -- Oh, a virgin!

NATASHA -- That's what I said, a virgin.

HEROD -- How much?

NATASHA -- She's a princess, the great great great granddaughter
of King Xerxes and Queen Esther.

HEROD -- You're just saying that to jack up the price. How much?

NATASHA -- Would I lie to the King of the Jews?

HEROD -- Only when you move your lips.

NATASHA -- Your majesty! Did I not select you to be King?

HEROD -- Well, yes, I guess so. Alright, how much?

NATASHA -- She's way out of your league. The rabbi just told me
she's been selected by God to be the mother of the coming

HEROD -- The messiah, eh?

NATASHA -- Cross my heart and hope to die.... (softly) some day.

HEROD -- (aside to audience) This widow has no idea of what she
has here. If this virgin is who she says she is, I am in a
position to avenge my ancestor Esau for being tricked out of his
rightful inheritance in the line of the messiah. If I marry this
princess, I will put the Edomites back into the line of messiah
(laughs fiendishly, returns to Natasha) Alright, let's not
haggle. I'll give you fifty shekels.

NATASHA -- Fifty shekels, for the mother of the messiah?

HEROD -- It's all I've got on me. Take it or leave it. (pulls
out money pouch)

NATASHA -- (backs away) I knew she was out of your league. But I
understand the emperor will pay dearly for a princess and the
mother of the messiah.

HEROD -- Alright! One hundred shekels, but that's my final

NATASHA -- I'll say hello to the emperor for you. (backs away)

HEROD -- Two hundred! I'll give you one hundred now and one
hundred after we've tied the knot. (hands the pouch to Natasha,
reaches for Esther)

NATASHA -- (smiles to audience, raises eye brows) Wait an
minute. (grabs his elbow, turns him around) There can't be more
than 50 shekels in here. Where's the rest of my money?

HEROD -- It's at my palace. You'll get it. (reaching for Esther)
Now, let's have a look at my....

NATASHA -- (grabs his elbow, turns him around) When I get money,

HEROD -- (backs away, drooling) What a gorgeous creature!

NATASHA -- (motions to Esther) Come, Esther, darling, we're
going to the King's palace.

ESTHER -- That nice man told us to wait here.

NATASHA -- We'll be right back. That nice man is a rabbi and he
will be the one who performs the royal wedding ceremony.

ESTHER -- (looks back toward Nathan) Oh, alright.

(all exit together)

NATHAN -- (enters reading Bible scroll, crosses to C, stops,
looks around, not finding Esther, sighs) She's gone. I'm sorry,
Lord, I blew it again!

JOSEPH -- (enters running) Nathan, have I got great news for

NATASHA -- Joseph, I was just talking to the Lord about you.

JOSEPH -- Well, my friend, your prayers have been answered. My
bride just came to town today.

NATHAN -- Her name wouldn't happen to be Esther, would it?

JOSEPH -- Esther? Who's Esther?

NATHAN -- (sigh) Oh, it's a long story. I'll explain later. So,
tell me about your bride.

JOSEPH -- She's a beautiful girl. She loves the Lord. She'll be
along any minute. My mother is introducing her to the neighbors.
What are the Bible scrolls for?

NATHAN -- Joseph, you're not going to believe what happened
today. The Lord told me that YOU would be the earthly father of
the messiah.

JOSEPH -- Me? You mean the Lord really picked me for the father
of the messiah?! Oh, Nathan! What a privilege!

MARY -- (enters, crosses to Joseph) Hello, Joseph.

JOSEPH -- Oh, here she is. Nathan this is my bride, Mary. Isn't
she beautiful?!

NATHAN -- Yes, she is. It's nice to meet you, Mary.

JOSEPH -- Mary, this is my best friend in the whole world,

MARY -- Nice to meet you, Nathan. Joseph tells me you're a

NATHAN -- (holds up scrolls) Yes, I was just looking up a

JOSEPH -- Nathan just told me that the Lord has selected me to
be the earthly father of the messiah. Isn't that wonderful?!

MARY -- (smile melts, bewildered) That means I am to be the

NATHAN -- I... I'm not so sure.

JOSEPH -- Don't joke with us, Nathan. If I'm to be the father,
then, Mary HAS to be the mother.

NATHAN -- The problem is, just a few moments ago, another woman
claimed to be the mother of the messiah.

JOSEPH -- Is she beautiful?

MARY -- Joseph!

JOSEPH -- I'm sorry. I don't know what to say. It would be a
tragedy if I married the wrong woman.

NATHAN -- (examines scroll) According to scripture the messiah
is to be from the family of King David. Joseph is from the
family of King David.

MARY -- King David was an ancestor of mine too.

JOSEPH -- Really?!

NATHAN -- No kidding?

MARY -- On my father's side of the family.

NATHAN -- Well, that certainly makes you eligible to be the
messiah's mother. (examines scroll)

JOSEPH -- What about that other woman?

NATHAN -- Well, she's supposedly the descendant of queen Esther
and King Xerxes. But as near as I can tell, Queen Esther was not
even from the tribe of Judah, that means she couldn't possibly
be in the line of David.

JOSEPH -- So,...

NATHAN -- So, it's looks like you're marrying the right woman,

JOSEPH -- (clasps hands with Mary) Then we shall make
preparation for the wedding.

MARY -- What about that other woman?

NATHAN -- I don't know about her. She's supposedly from royal
blood, but I'm not sure I can believe that. The widow also
claimed she was the mother of the messiah.

JOSEPH -- Widow? What widow?

NATHAN -- It's a long story. You two go about making your
wedding plans.

JOSEPH -- (skipping to exit with Mary, stops) What about you
Nathan? You were supposed to meet your bride today, too.

NATHAN -- (sigh) Alas, I'm told she was killed by robbers on the
way here.

JOSEPH -- Oh, Nathan! (approaches)

NATHAN -- Oh, don't make a fuss over me. I have already made
peace with the Lord about it. You two go about your business.

JOSEPH -- Come with us.

NATHAN -- I have to find the other woman. I think the widow may
be taking advantage of her. (whisks them away) Go. I'll catch up
with you later.

JOSEPH -- (exiting) See you later, Nathan.

MARY -- (exiting) Good bye. It was nice to meet you, Nathan.

NATHAN -- Yes, it was nice to meet you too. (shouts) Take care
of yourselves. (to self) What am I saying? The Lord assigned me
to take care of them.(begins to exit after Joseph, turns) On the
other hand, I should find Esther before she gets into trouble.

HEROD -- (enters, crosses) Oh, there you are, Rabbi. I want you
to marry me.

NATHAN -- Me? Marry you?

HEROD -- Not me. Not you. Not you and me. Me and her. (points

NATASHA -- (enters pulling a reluctant Esther) The King will
marry the princess at once.

NATHAN -- Esther, I hope you know what you're getting into.

HEROD -- I beg your pardon!

NATHAN -- Esther was under the impression that she was going to
be the mother of the messiah.

ESTHER -- You mean, I'm not?

NATASHA -- Let's just get the ceremony over with.

HEROD -- Wait just a minute. I just paid you one hundred shekels
of silver as downpayment for the mother of the messiah. I'm not
parting with another hundred shekels until I know what I'm

NATASHA -- What does a rabbi know?

HEROD -- He knows the scriptures. (to Nathan) Rabbi, do you know
something we don't know?

NATASHA -- We can clear up the details later.

HEROD -- Silence!

NATASHA -- (backs slowly toward exit)

NATHAN -- (points at scrolls) According to the Prophet Isaiah,
the messiah will be born into the family of King David. Queen
Esther was not even in the tribe of Judah, let alone the family
of David.

HEROD -- (turns toward the missing Natasha) Alright, where's my
money? Where did she go? (exits running) Come back here with my

ESTHER -- (approaches Nathan) Did you mean it? I'm not going to
be the mother of the messiah?

NATHAN -- I'm afraid not. I've already met the woman who is
going to marry the messiah's earthly father. They're both from
the family of King David. I'm quite sure that she will be the
messiah's mother. I'm sorry.

ESTHER -- I'm not. It means I won't have to marry King Herod. He
doesn't seem to be a very nice man.

NATHAN -- He's not. His tribe, the descendants of Esau, have
been rivals of us Jews for a long time. If a Jewish woman were
to marry him, I'm quite sure she would be mistreated.

ESTHER -- I wish I could marry a kind and gentle man like you.

NATHAN -- Me too.

(they lean in, about to kiss)

JOSEPH -- (enters running) Nathan, you'll never guess what just
happened. (stops) Oh, I'm sorry. I...

NATHAN -- (nervously steps back from Esther) Oh, ah, ah, (points
to Joseph) Ah, Esther, ah, this is, ah... (snaps fingers) ah, ah...

JOSEPH -- ... Joseph. I'm your best friend, remember?

NATHAN -- Yes, of course, Joseph, this is the woman I was
telling you about. This is Esther.

JOSEPH -- How do you do?

NATHAN -- Esther, this is Joseph.

ESTHER -- Nice to meet you, Joseph. Are you the one who will be
the earthly father of the messiah?

JOSEPH -- Yes, that's what I wanted to tell you, Nathan. An
angel of the Lord came to see me while I was doing my afternoon

NATHAN -- Really?

JOSEPH -- Yes, and he told me exactly what the Lord already told
you, that I was to be the earthly father of our messiah. He told
me that the next time I see Mary she will pregnant but that I
should go ahead with the wedding as planned.

MARY -- (enters cautiously) Joseph, may I see you for a moment.

JOSEPH -- Mary! We were just talking about you. Come share the
good news.

MARY -- I really should talk to you alone, Joseph.

ESTHER -- (sneaks backward offstage)

NATHAN -- Joseph, I think Mary is embarrassed that she is
pregnant before she was married.

JOSEPH -- (approaches Mary) Oh, Mary, an angel of the Lord came
to me and told me about the pregnancy.

MARY -- He did?

JOSEPH -- Yes, and he told me to go ahead and marry you as

MARY -- He did?

JOSEPH -- Yes, oh, Mary, isn't this wonderful?

MARY -- It is? Then, you don't think anyone will be ashamed of

JOSEPH -- Oh, no.

NATHAN -- Actually, Mary, it's a wonderful thing that the Lord
impregnated you BEFORE you were married so that it was very
clear to everyone that this child was from God and not from man.

MARY -- You think so? I mean, it's a privilege to be chosen to
bear the son of God. But, I don't want to bring shame on my

NATHAN -- Well, then, you two go home and get dressed for the
wedding. I will join you two in matrimony immediately.

JOSEPH -- Great idea, Nathan! The fewer tongues that wag the
better. Let's go, Mary. (they exit)

NATHAN -- (turns to Esther, who is gone) Well, Esther, isn't
that.... Where did she go?

ESTHER -- (backs onto stage, followed by Natasha)

NATHAN -- Oh, there you are, Esther. Where did you...

NATASHA -- (enters, dragging Herod, Esther) Well, I guess we're
all assembled. Let's get the wedding ceremony underway.

NATHAN -- I thought the wedding was off.

NATASHA -- We renegotiated the price.

HEROD -- (rubs hands together) I lost a messiah, but I still
have a virgin princess to defile. Let's get started.

ESTHER -- (groans, holds head, spins, faints into Nathan's arms)

NATHAN -- (lowering Esther to a sitting position) Oh, dear. Oh,
dear. I'm not very good at this sort of thing.

HEROD -- She's just stalling. Wake her up.

NATASHA -- Esther, darling, wake up. I've got a lot of money
riding on you.

HEROD -- If she's not awake in two minutes, I want my hundred
shekels back.

NATASHA -- (pats Esther's face) Esther, darling, wake up. You
can sleep after the wedding.

HEROD -- Not on your life.

ESTHER -- (groans)

NATHAN -- Esther are you alright?

ESTHER -- (groans) Where am I?

NATASHA -- We already had that conversation once.

NATHAN -- You're in Bethlehem, Esther, remember?

ESTHER -- Oh, yes, I came to get married.

HEROD -- (rubs hand together) Boy, did you ever.

ESTHER -- (points to Natasha) You're the woman who was following
me with a frying pan in your hand.

HEROD -- What's going on here?

NATASHA -- She's fine, let's stand her up and get her married.
(lifts her up)

NATHAN -- I think Esther is getting her memory back. What's
you're real name?

ESTHER -- Esther.

NATHAN -- Your real name is Esther?

ESTHER -- Yes.

NATHAN -- You're sure?

ESTHER -- Yes.

NATASHA -- You see? Everything's fine. Let's get the ceremony
over with. I have places to go, people to see.

ESTHER -- You were the lady who hit me in the head with a frying

NATASHA -- It was nothing personal. Let's finish the wedding.
Make it fast, please, Rabbi.

ESTHER -- I remember now, I came to Bethlehem to marry a rabbi
named Nathan.

NATHAN -- That's me!

NATASHA -- (backs away toward exit)

HEROD -- Wait a minute. Are you, or are you not a virgin

ESTHER -- Well, I'm a virgin, but I'm not a princess.

HEROD -- (looks around) Where is that widow?! (exits) Come back
here with my money!

ESTHER -- So, you're Nathan, the man I'm supposed to marry?

NATHAN -- My name is Nathan, but the woman I'm supposed to marry
is dead.

ESTHER -- I think the widow made that up so she could sell me to
Herod. What a dreadful man. I'm so glad I found out in time.

NATHAN --  Me too. But tell me something.

ESTHER -- Yes?

NATHAN -- Why did you disappear when I was talking to Mary.

ESTHER -- Mary. Oh, Mary! Mary's here in Bethlehem too!

NATHAN -- Yes.

ESTHER -- It's all coming back to me now. Mary and I came from
Nazareth together. She's my best friend.

NATHAN -- No kidding. Joseph, the man she's going to marry, is
my best friend.

ESTHER -- I know. Our parents had apparently arranged a double
wedding for us. Isn't that wonderful?

NATHAN -- Yes, but that still doesn't explain why you
disappeared when Mary showed up.

ESTHER -- Oh, it all made sense at the time. Let's see. I had
just said goodbye to Mary outside of town, just before I got hit
in the head. I guess I associated Mary with being clobbered. I
guess I thought she had something to do with it.

NATHAN -- Well, if the widow heard you two say goodbye to each
other, that would explain why she knew your real name.

ESTHER -- Yes, of course.

NATASHA -- (enters running, looking back, stops silently, lurks)

ESTHER -- Oh, Nathan, I'm so glad it's you I'm supposed to

NATHAN -- Me to. I'm so glad you're still alive. Imagine, a
double wedding with the mother and father of the messiah.

ESTHER -- I think Mary and Joseph will be good parents for the
son of God, don't you think?

NATHAN -- Yes. Speaking of being parents, do you like children?

ESTHER -- I love children! I want to have boy babies who look
just like you.

NATHAN -- And I want to have girl babies who look just like you.

(they lean in to kiss)

NATASHA -- (interrupts) How touching.

NATHAN -- Oh, it's you.

ESTHER -- Can't you just leave us alone?

NATASHA -- Oh, no, darling. King Herod has the hots for you.
And you are going to marry him.

ESTHER -- I will not!
NATHAN -- She will not!

NATASHA -- Oh, I think you will, darling. You see, I happen to
know that the Lord chose Nathan here to safeguard the messiah's
parents until the baby is born. No?

ESTHER -- Yes. So what?

NATASHA -- So, I think two people as dedicated to the Lord as
you two are would gladly give up being married to each other in
exchange for the safety of the messiah's mother and father, no?

NATHAN -- You wouldn't.

ESTHER -- I think she would do anything for money, Nathan.

NATHAN -- I could never let her sell you to that filthy Herod.

NATASHA -- (turns) Let's see if that filthy Herod would like to
meet Mary and Joseph.


NATASHA -- (smiles to audience, raises eye brows, turns) Yes?

ESTHER -- The future of the whole world is at stake in the
messiah, Nathan.

NATHAN -- You're right, Esther. I'm being selfish. I'm not
thinking about the safety of the son of God.

ESTHER -- Promise us that you won't tell Herod about Mary and

NATASHA -- You have my word on it. (crosses fingers behind back)

HEROD -- (enters) Well, there you are. Give me back my money.

NATASHA -- (hands back the pouch) Perhaps we could renegotiate a
lower price.

HEROD -- You've got nothing to sell.

NATASHA -- On the contrary, I may not have a princess, but I do
have a virgin.

HEROD --  You mean...

NATASHA -- I mean, the love birds have decided not to get
married after all.

HEROD -- Is this true, my delicious morsel? (picks up her hand,
attempts to kiss it)

ESTHER -- (pulls away) You can have me after we're married.

HEROD -- (kisses own hand) Very well, we have a rabbi present,
let's have a wedding.

NATASHA -- (holds out hand) There was just a matter of a
finder's fee? No?

HEROD -- Later. I have gone to the well and found it dry once
too often to trust you. You will get your money AFTER the

NATASHA -- (crosses arms) Then, make it snappy, Rabbi.

NATHAN -- (sigh) Esther, do you take this evil, loathsome,
despicable lowlife to be your lawfully wedded husband.

HEROD -- Hey, watch it.

ESTHER -- I do.

NATHAN -- Herod, do you take this beautiful, innocent, sensitive
woman, who loves children and is everything I ever wanted in a
woman.... (turns away) I'm sorry, I can't do this.

ESTHER -- Me either. (steps to Nathan's side)

NATASHA -- We had a deal.

NATHAN -- I know, but I can't bear the thought of this nasty,
no-good gentile defiling this gorgeous creature. (grabs
Esther's hand, exits) Come on, Esther.

HEROD -- (sigh) Oh, well, at least I've still got my money.
(exits opposite)

NATASHA -- I know the true identity of the messiah's mother and

HEROD -- (reenters) You do?


HEROD -- And why should I be interested?

(Nathan and Esther reenter, lurk)

NATASHA -- Did you know that under the divine right of Kings, a
King may marry any woman who pleases him, even against her will?

HEROD -- Are you suggesting that I force myself upon the mother
of the messiah?

NATASHA -- A King who would do that would certainly change
history, wouldn't he?

HEROD -- What do you mean?

NATASHA -- Well, the God of Israel promised that his son would
be born into the family of David. It would be quite a slap in
his face for the God of Israel if one of his parents turned out
to be a descendant of Esau, wouldn't it, your majesty?

HEROD -- (to audience) Noone has ever been able to wreck a
prediction of the God of Israel until now. If I could marry the
virgin mother, they would be talking about me for thousands of
years. (to Natasha) The woman is a virgin, no?

NATASHA -- But of course.

HEROD -- I'll give you twenty shekels.

NATASHA -- Fifty.

HEROD -- You have a miserable track record. Twenty.

NATASHA -- In advance.

HEROD -- Done. (digs in pouch)

NATASHA -- For another ten shekels, I could arrange to defile
father of the messiah also.

HEROD -- How?

NATASHA -- I could arrange to have him marry that cute little
Esther. How do you think that would look in the history books,
your majesty?

HEROD -- Vengeance is mine. (laughs fiendishly as they exit)

(Nathan and Esther kneel, pray)

(light cue: lights dim to dark, dim up full)

(Herod and Joseph stand next to two veiled brides in white

NATHAN -- (sigh) And now, by the power vested in me by God
almighty, I pronounce you husband and wife.

(Joseph lifts brides veil. It's Mary. The three exit quietly)

HEROD -- (lifting veil) Pucker up, sweetheart, here comes a wet

(uncovers a scarecrow or sewing dummy)

HEROD -- (screams) Curses, foiled again! Oooo! Where is that

NATASHA -- (hops onstage, bound and gagged)

HEROD -- Oh, there you are. (removes the money pouch from
Natasha's pocket, exiting) This is the last time I'll do
business with you.

NATASHA -- (screams through gag as she follows hopping)

NATHAN -- (sneaks onstage, motions to Esther, whispers) They're

ESTHER -- Congratulations, Nathan, your plan worked.

NATHAN -- I am not usually a violent man. I'm sorry I had to tie
up a woman like that. But the Lord's integrity was at stake. If
Herod had been allowed to marry into the messiah's family, noone
could ever trust the Lord's word again.

ESTHER -- Noone is blaming you, Nathan. Mary and Joseph are
married now, just as the Lord intended.

NATHAN -- Yes, but if I know Herod, he isn't finished yet. He'll
stoop to any depths to make the God of Israel look like a fool.

ESTHER -- Especially since you made Herod look like a fool.

NATHAN -- I really did, didn't I?

ESTHER -- You're my hero.

NATHAN -- That reminds me. You and I are supposed to be married.

ESTHER -- Yes, we are.

NATHAN -- Have I told you how beautiful you are?

ESTHER -- Have I told you how handsome you are?

(they lean in to kiss)

NATASHA -- (enters) That was very clever, of you, Rabbi.

ESTHER -- Oh, oh.

NATHAN -- Don't worry about her. She has nothing to sell

NATASHA -- You're right, Rabbi. I will admit when I am licked.
(cries) I am just a poor widow, trying to eek out a living in a
foreign country.

ESTHER -- Oh, Nathan, she's crying.

NATHAN -- You be careful of her, Esther. Remember, she was the
same woman who whacked you over the head with a frying pan.

NATASHA -- (cries) King Herod took every last shekel I owned. I
am penniless, absolutely penniless. I don't blame you for taking
no pity on me, I have been ruthless, and merciless to you. I
deserve your scorn. (sobs)

ESTHER -- There, there. Don't be so hard on yourself.

NATASHA -- I should have known better than to takes sides
against the likes of your God, the God of Israel. He has never
broken a single promise since the beginning of time. Has he?

ESTHER -- No, he hasn't.

NATHAN -- What is she up to?

NATASHA -- I am the lowest of low lives. I am the worst of
sinners. The time has come for me to repent of my immoral

NATHAN -- She's up to something.

NATASHA -- This very day. Right now, I would like to become a

ESTHER -- You would?

NATASHA -- Tell me about your Bible. Tell me about your messiah.

ESTHER -- What do you want to know?

NATASHA -- Tell me everything. I hunger for knowledge of your
messiah, the Son of God.

NATHAN -- (aside to audience) I don't trust this woman any
farther than I can throw an elephant. But, if there is a chance
that she is really sincere, I can hardly be the one to deny her
salvation. (to Natasha) Well, as you know, the prophet Isaiah
promised that the Messiah would be born of a virgin, and that he
would be born into the family of David.

NATASHA -- Yes, I already knew that. Tell me more.

NATHAN -- Well, the Prophet Daniel predicted the exact date that
the messiah will ride into Jerusalem as messiah the King.

NATASHA -- Yes. Yes. And what date is that?

NATHAN -- Oh, that won't take place for another thirty three
years or so.

NATASHA -- That's too far away. Tell me things that will happen

NATHAN -- Well, the prophet Micah predicts that the messiah will
be born right here in Bethlehem, the birthplace of King David.

NATASHA -- (smiles at audience, raises eye brows) Is that so?

NATHAN -- Yes. Would you like to make a profession of faith in
the God of Israel?

NATASHA -- (exiting) No, I think I've had enough religion for
one day.

NATHAN -- Oh, oh.

ESTHER -- What's the matter?

NATHAN -- I think I just gave her another weapon that she can
use against us.

ESTHER -- What do you mean?

NATHAN -- I just told her that the Lord promised that the
messiah will be definitely born here in Bethlehem. If she tells
Herod, he will do everything in his power to make sure the baby
is NOT born here.

ESTHER -- Oh, oh.

HEROD -- (enters) You're quite right, you know.

ESTHER -- She told you.

NATASHA -- (enters, holds up money pouch, crossing to opposite
exit) I'm just a poor widow trying to eek out a living in a
foreign country. (smiles at audience, raises eye brows, exits)

ESTHER -- You are a despicable woman!

HEROD -- I've given the order to have the city of Bethlehem
evacuated. You and your friends, Mary and Joseph, had better
pack your bags.

NATHAN -- Why? What are you going to do?

HEROD -- Let's just say that the messiah cannot possibly be
born here in Bethlehem, because Bethlehem will soon be nothing
but ashes.

ESTHER -- You wouldn't burn down a whole city just to prevent a
prophecy from being fulfilled!

HEROD -- It's a dirty job but somebody has to do it.

NATHAN -- (grabs the scarecrow, begin charging Herod) Burn this,
you sorry excuse for a human being.

ESTHER -- (stands in the way) Nathan. (exits with Nathan)

NATHAN -- (stops) You're right, Esther. "Vengeance is mine,
saith the Lord." (carries scarecrow offstage)

HEROD -- On the contrary, vengeance is MINE! (laughs fiendishly
at audience, exits laughing)

MARY -- (enters carrying cloth bags stuffed with clothing) Are
you sorry you married me now, Joseph?

JOSEPH -- (follows, carrying cloth bags stuffed with clothing)
Not at all, my love. It will be such a pleasure being the father
of the messiah. Remember, Mary, he will be the son of God,
incapable of sinning. He won't disobey his momma or talk back to
his papa. He won't even steal apples from the neighbor's apple

MARY -- Yes, of course that's true. But I mean, because you
married me, you have to pull up your roots and move to Nazareth
with me.

JOSEPH -- Your family is there.

ESTHER -- (follows carrying cloth bags stuffed with clothing)
My family too. We'll all do fine there, once we get settled in,
right, Nathan?

NATHAN -- (enters carrying cloth bags stuffed with clothing)
That's right. Nazareth is a growing city. There is certainly
room there for a good carpenter like Joseph.

JOSEPH -- And a good rabbi like Nathan.

MARY -- Chances don't look good for the baby to be born here in
Bethlehem, do they?

NATHAN -- For the God who created the universe with a spoken
word, nothing is impossible.

MARY -- (sigh) You're right. Why do I fret? If the Lord promised
it, he will do what he promised?

NATHAN -- We all need to renew our trust in God.

(all kneel, pray)

NATHAN -- Lord, you promised Father Abraham a son when it was
physically impossible for him to have a son. But you gave him a
son just as you promised. And when our people were slaves in
Egypt, you promised them a land of their own, a land flowing
with milk and honey, at a time when it seemed impossible. And
yet here were are in the midst of it. You promised us victory in
many battles that we were sure to lose, and yet we won. And now
we are faced with yet another impossible situation. But, we face
it boldly knowing that you will keep your promise. We turn our
destiny and our worries over to you, Lord.

ALL -- Amen. (rise and exit to Nazareth)

NATASHA -- (enters, remains near exit) Well, everybody is gone.
Bethlehem is a ghost town. When do I get the rest of my money?

HEROD -- (enters with lit candle, remains near exit) You're sure
this is going to work?

NATASHA -- The Son of God can hardly be born in Bethlehem if
there is no such thing as Bethlehem, can he?

HEROD -- (hands Natasha pouch)

MESSENGER -- (enters, stands near Herod) I have a message for
the people of Bethlehem.

HEROD -- I'm a little busy right now. Come back later.

MESSENGER -- It's from Caesar, Emperor of the Roman Empire.

HEROD -- It can wait. I'll be through here in just a few hours.

MESSENGER -- Sorry, your majesty, but the emperor says this is

HEROD -- Urgent.

MESSENGER -- Yes, your majesty.

HEROD -- Alright, but make it snappy.

MESSENGER -- (opens scroll, reads very loudly) It is hereby
decreed by Emperor Caesar....

HEROD -- You don't have to shout. The town is empty.


HEROD -- Yes, I've had the town evacuated.

MESSENGER -- Evacuated?

HEROD -- Yes, so you don't have to shout.

MESSENGER -- Oh, okay. (reads) It is hereby decreed by Emperor
Caesar that a census shall be taken in all provinces of the
Roman Empire.

HEROD -- Thank you, that was very nice.

MESSENGER -- I'm not done yet.

HEROD -- Well, can you hurry it up, please I'm on a rather tight
schedule here.

MESSENGER -- Oh, sure. (reads) The census shall be taken on the
vernal equinox of this calendar year and shall include every man
woman and child in the Roman Empire.

HEROD -- Is that it?

MESSENGER -- No. One more paragraph.

HEROD -- Get on with it.

MESSENGER -- In order to assure an accurate count, each man
shall bring his family to the birthplace of his family
patriarch. (rolls up scroll) Well, that about does it, Your

HEROD -- It's about time.

MESSENGER -- What's the candle for?

HEROD -- Well, if it's any of your business, I'm going to burn
down the city of Bethlehem.

MESSENGER -- (blows out candle)

HEROD -- What did you do that for?

MESSENGER -- You can't do that.

HEROD -- What do you mean I can't do that?! I'm the King of the
Jews, I can do anything I like.

MESSENGER -- No, I'm sorry. Bethlehem is a birthplace.

HEROD -- So?

MESSENGER -- So, (opens scroll, reads) In order to assure an
accurate count, each man shall bring his family to the
birthplace of his family patriarch. (rolls up scroll) If you
burn down Bethlehem, King David's family won't have any place to
be counted in the census.

HEROD -- My heart bleeds.

MESSENGER -- (opens scroll) You'd better read the fine print.

HEROD -- (reads) Anyone who interferes with the accuracy of this
census shall be put to death.

MESSENGER -- (rolls up scroll, exiting) I think that includes
you, Your Majesty.

NATASHA -- (sneaks toward opposite exit)

HEROD -- Curses, foiled again! (looks for Natasha) Where do you
think you're going with MY money?

NATASHA -- I left something on the stove.

HEROD -- Freeze, woman!

NATASHA -- (stops, doesn't turn) Your majesty,... I'll give the
money back.

HEROD -- (approaches) I don't want the money.

NATASHA -- You don't?

HEROD -- No, I want revenge.

NATASHA -- Revenge.

HEROD -- People of Bethlehem used to admire my wealth. They used
to fear my power.

NATASHA -- I'm sure people still....

HEROD -- Quiet!

NATASHA -- Sorry, I...

HEROD -- Do you realize how many thousands of people are going
to laugh at me because I unsuccessfully tried to burn down their

NATASHA -- It was a good idea. You had no way of knowing...

HEROD -- Quiet.

NATASHA -- I'm quiet.

HEROD -- Time after time I have fallen for your cute little
schemes to make the God of Israel look like a fool, but the only
person looking like a fool is me.

NATASHA -- Well, I wouldn't say that...

HEROD -- Quiet!

NATASHA -- (turns an imaginary key, locking her lips shut)

HEROD -- Now, in just a moment, I will give you permission to
speak. And when I do, you will have just two minutes to come up
with an idea to make the God of Israel look foolish. But if you
fail, you will be in deep, deep, deep, deep trouble. Do I make
myself clear?

NATASHA -- (nods)

HEROD -- You have two minutes.

NATASHA -- In order to make the God of Israel look foolish, all
you have to do is have him break ONE of his many promises....

HEROD -- I will remind you that we tried that. We tried to
pollute the family of King David, by marrying the messiah's
mother. But that didn't work. We tried to defile the virgin
birth. But that didn't work. We even tried to burn down his
promised birthplace. But that didn't work. If you think I'm
going to wait thirty-three years for the next promise, forget
it. You now have less than one minute.

NATASHA -- You won't have to wait for thirty years.

HEROD -- What do you mean?

NATASHA -- I mean, the messiah hasn't been born in Bethlehem

HEROD -- We covered that. Caesar won't let me burn down the

NATASHA -- You don't have to burn it down. What if, when Mary
and Joseph come back to Bethlehem for the census, there's no
place for them to stay?

HEROD -- Keep talking.

NATASHA -- What if you rent all the hotel rooms in town before
Joseph and Mary get back here for the census?

HEROD -- You know, you may have an idea there. (turns to exit)
Take care of it.

NATASHA -- (follows) I need some money to rent the rooms.

HEROD -- You already have my money.

NATASHA -- It was worth a try.

HEROD -- Woman, if this doesn't work, you will be in deep, deep,
deep, deep trouble.

(both exit)

(light cue: fade to black, fade up full)

MARY -- (enters, very pregnant, crosses slowly to opposite exit,
speaking) Oh, Joseph, what are we going to do?

JOSEPH -- (follows) I don't know, Mary. There's not a vacant
hotel room in the entire city. I don't understand it.

(Herod and Natasha enter, lurk)
(Nathan and Esther follow, lurk)

MARY -- The baby is due anytime now, Joseph. We have to do
something. We can't have the baby out here in the street.

JOSEPH -- I suppose you're right, Mary. I suppose we'll have to
go to Jerusalem. There should be plenty of hotel rooms in

(Mary and Joseph exit to Jerusalem)

NATASHA -- Was I right or was I right, your majesty?

HEROD -- At last, the God of Israel will look like a fool and I
will get my revenge!

NATASHA -- You get your revenge and I get reimbursed for buying
up all the hotel rooms.

HEROD -- (exiting) Come, I'll get you the money.

NATASHA -- (follows) Mention money and I'll follow you anywhere.

ESTHER -- Did you hear that?

NATHAN -- No wonder we couldn't find a hotel room?

ESTHER -- What can we do?

NATHAN -- We'll do what we should have done before we came to

(both kneel, pray silently)

NATHAN -- Lord God in Heaven, hear our prayer...

BLACKSMITH -- (enters, carrying large mallot or sledge hammer,
stand near Nathan)

ESTHER -- Nathan, there's a man standing next to you with a

NATHAN -- (opens eyes, startled) Aaaah!

BLACKSMITH -- I'm sorry to disturb your prayers, but the Lord
told me you might need some assistance.

NATHAN -- I don't need anything pounded.

BLACKSMITH -- Oh, I'm sorry, I should have probably mentioned
that I'm the new blacksmith. I just finished building a brand
new stable. But there's no livestock in it yet. So, it's clean
and dry. If you need a place to stay....

NATHAN & ESTHER -- (hands to God) Thank you, Lord! (stand and
exit running) Mary, Joseph, wait!

NATHAN -- (reenters) We'll be right back. (exits)

BLACKSMITH -- (scratch head)

ESTHER -- (enters backward, hands extended to Mary) Breathe,
Mary, breathe. (puff, puff, puff)

MARY -- (enters, helped by Joseph and Nathan, grunts, crosses
slowly, while speaking) He's coming! My baby is coming! (puff,
puff) I'm not sure I can make it. (puff, puff)

JOSEPH -- Hold on, Mary, you can make it. We're almost there.

BLACKSMITH -- Oh, dear! (turns, shouts, returning to exit)
Ruthy, honey, you'd better boil some water!

ESTHER -- (hands extended to Mary) Breathe, Mary, breathe (puff,
puff, puff)

MARY -- (puff, puff, puff) He's coming. He's coming. (puff,
puff, puff)

JOSEPH -- Hold on, Mary, you can make it. We're almost there.

(all exit)

HEROD -- (enters, extending money pouch, crossing slowly) Here
you are, woman.

NATASHA -- (follows, takes pouch) At last I get my money!
(counts money, bites one coin)

HEROD -- At last I get my revenge! You are now looking at the
only King is history ever to outsmart the God of Israel. (laugh
fiendishly at audience)

SHEPHERD -- (enters) Excuse me?

NATASHA -- (turns) Yes, darling?

SHEPHERD -- I'm looking for the King of the Jews.

HEROD -- (turns) That would be me.

SHEPHERD -- I guess I didn't make myself clear. I said I'm
looking for King of the Jews.

HEROD -- I am the King of the Jews. The Roman government crowned
me King of the Jews months ago.

SHEPHERD -- Oh, dear, I think there's been some kind of mistake.

NATASHA -- Mistake? What mistake, darling? I can assure you that
this man is the King of the Jews. I selected him myself.

SHEPHERD -- Well, I'm not sure how to explain this, but just a
moment ago I was tending my sheep (points over shoulder), when
all of a sudden, an Angel of the Lord appeared to me out of
nowhere. Nearly scared my sheep to death!

HEROD -- I'm a very busy man! Can you get to the point?

SHEPHERD -- Oh, yeah, sure, anyway, the angel of the Lord told
me to go and worship the King of the Jews.

HEROD -- Very well, then, I have a minute. But only a minute.
You may worship me.

SHEPHERD -- (thinks, looks back to sheep)

HEROD -- Well, what are you waiting for? Are you going to
worship me or not?

SHEPHERD -- Well, you're not exactly what I'm looking for.

HEROD -- What exactly were you looking for?

SHEPHERD -- A baby.

NATASHA -- He's talking about the messiah, darling.

SHEPHERD -- You know about the messiah?

NATASHA -- Well, I'm afraid to disappoint you, shepherd, but
there's been a slight change of plans. Thanks to my ingenious
plot, the baby was not born in Bethlehem. Go look in Jerusalem.

SHEPHERD -- I'm sorry, but the angel was very specific. He said
that the baby was born in a stable....

HEROD -- A stable?

NATASHA -- (sneaks toward exit)

SHEPHERD -- Yes, in a stable.

HEROD -- Here in Bethlehem?

SHEPHERD -- Yes, here in Bethlehem. He said the baby would be
wrapped in rags and lying in a feed trough.

HEROD -- A feeding trough.


HEROD -- Here in bethlehem.


HEROD -- That's impossible, we just saw the mother and father on
their way to Jerusalem, didn't we, woman? (turns to Natasha)
Where is that widow?! (exits) Come back here with my money.

(baby cries offstage)

ESTHER -- (enters carrying baby) It's a boy.

JOSEPH -- (follows) Let me see. Aw! My son the messiah! Praise
the Lord!

NATHAN -- (follows) Praise the Lord, indeed.

JOSEPH -- (taking baby in his arms) How's Mary?

ESTHER -- She's fine. But she's very tired. It's been a long
ordeal. She's sleeping.

JOSEPH -- Seems a pity that the Son of God should sleep in a
feeding trough.

SHEPHERD -- (crosses to Esther, kneels, bows low) Praise God,
the King of the Jews!

NATHAN -- How did you hear about the birth of the King?

SHEPHERD -- An angel of the Lord appeared to me that I would
find the newborn King in a stable, wrapped in rags and lying in
a feeding trough.

NATHAN -- Oh, oh!

JOSEPH -- What's the matter?

NATHAN -- If the shepherds know about the baby Jesus, soon
everyone will know.

SHEPHERD -- Jesus? Is that the name you have called him?

JOSEPH -- Yes, it was the name given to us by the Angel of the

SHEPHERD -- The name Jesus means "God is Salvation". We have
been waiting for the salvation of God for thousands of years.

NATHAN -- How many people have you told about the birth of

SHEPHERD -- Just two, a foreign woman and the King.

NATHAN -- Not King Herod?!

SHEPHERD -- I came through town asking the whereabouts of the
King of the Jews. Herod thought I was looking for HIM.

JOSEPH -- Oh, no. King Herod is sure to do something terrible to
my baby!

NATHAN -- Egypt.

JOSEPH -- Excuse me?

ESTHER -- What about Egypt?

NATHAN -- The Lord prophecied in the scriptures "Out of Egypt I
called my son." Maybe we're supposed to go to Egypt until King
Herod's anger subsides.

JOSEPH -- That explains it.

MARY -- Explains what?

JOSEPH -- I had a dream last night. I dreamed I saw the Lord and
he told me to take the baby and go to Egypt. I thought it was
just a dream, until now. (exiting) I hate to wake Mary, but we
must flee to Egypt.

SHEPHERD -- (exiting) Praise God. I have seen the son of God.

ESTHER -- Oh, Nathan, we planned to be married tomorrow. Shall
we never be married?

NATHAN -- Have faith, Esther, darling. Our time will come.
Right now our job is to protect baby Jesus until he is out
of danger. (exiting together)

(light cue: fade to black, fade up full)

JOSEPH -- (enters on tip-toes, looks around, motions for the
others to come, whispers) All clear.

MARY -- (enters cautiously carrying baby, motions to Nathan and

MARY & JOSEPH -- (stand upstage, toss confetti as Nathan and
Esther enter in wedding clothes) Congratulations!

(Nathan and Esther pause to kiss)

NATHAN -- (interrupts) Wait a minute. We're not sure if Herod is
here in Bethlehem. (turns, examines the area thoroughly)

JOSEPH -- My dream was very clear, Nathan. The Lord told me that
it was now safe to return to Bethlehem.

NATHAN -- (points off stage) Quickly! Hide! Somebody is coming!

JOSEPH -- (looks around) There's no place to hide!

NATHAN -- Then act casual. Try to blend in.

JOSEPH -- I told you, you can relax, Nathan. You've done your
job. The Lord says that we're out of danger.

ARCHELAUS -- (enters opposite) Well, it looks like somebody just
got married.

NATHAN -- (nervously) Yes. Yes. Finally tied the knot. Say, we
were wondering if King Herod was still here in Bethlehem.

ARCHELAUS -- You must be from out of town. King Herod is dead.

JOSEPH -- (turns away, pumps arm victoriously, whispers) Yes!

NATHAN -- Listen, I don't want to doubt your veracity, but it's
very important to me to be absolutely sure. How do you know that
King Herod died?

ARCHELAUS -- I was with him when he died. I'm his son.
(continues toward opposite exit)

NATHAN -- (whispers) Praise the Lord!

MARY -- Nathan, should we be concerned about Herod's son?

NATHAN -- I think Joseph is right, Mary. The danger has passed.
Herod's son apparently didn't recognize us. And even if he turns
out to be as nasty as his father was, there is not another
prophecy for him to try to interfere with for another
thirty-three years. But just to be on the safe side, I think we
should all move back to Nazareth, out of his reach.

ESTHER -- Yes, Nazareth will be a nice place to raise a family.

NATHAN -- A family. I want lots of girl babies that look just
like you.

ESTHER -- And lots of boy babies that look just like you.

(they lean in to kiss)

JOSEPH -- I hate to interrupt you, Nathan. But you're not in
Nazareth yet.

NATHAN -- (oblivious) Did somebody say something about Nazareth?

ESTHER -- (oblivious) Nazareth is my home town.

NATHAN -- Did I ever tell you how incredibly beautiful you are?

ESTHER -- Did I ever tell you how incredibly handsome you are?

(they lean in to kiss)

JOSEPH -- Nathan! Nazareth! (exits with Mary)

NATHAN -- Oh, yes, of course. Come, my love. (exit with Esther)
Nazareth awaits.

ARCHELAUS -- (enters casually, strolls)

NATASHA -- (follows) Excuse me, sir.

ARCHELAUS -- (turns) Yes?

NATASHA -- The emperor sent me to find a suitable King to
replace King Herod. I don't suppose you'd know anyone who would
like to be King of the Jews...

ARCHELAUS -- I'd like to be King!

NATASHA -- (crosses by Archelaus toward opposite exit) The
emperor hired me because I am a palm reader....

ARCHELAUS -- (follows, pushes his hand in Natasha's face) Here,
read my palm!

NATASHA -- Oh, very well. (takes his hand pokes his palm) Uh,
huh! Uh huh! Oh, oh.

ARCHELAUS -- What's the matter?

NATASHA -- You're life line and your heart line are fine, but...

ARCHELAUS -- But what?

NATASHA -- But, you're royalty line is not at all well

ARCHELAUS -- My royalty line? I didn't even know I had a royalty

NATASHA -- Now you know why. Sorry, darling. (moves to exit)

ARCHELAUS -- (follows) I really would like to be King of the
Jews. (pulls out money pouch) I don't suppose we could make an
arrangement. (exits with Natasha)

NATASHA -- (smiles to audience, raises eye brows, holds out hand)
What kind of arrangement did you have in mind?

(light cue: fade to black)

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