Scottish Rite: Prince of Jerusalem
The backstory to the drama is given in the 15th degree. Zerubabbel is tested by Kind Cyrus to see if he is strong enough to lead the Hebrews from Babylon back to Jerusalem, this is the period known as the Babylonian Captivity. Zerbabbel passes the test and he and his people are freed to return to Jerusalem to, as King Cyrus says, "..rebuild the walls of their city and the Temple of their God...".
The 16th degree, where I "acted," picks up some years later in Jerusalem. The Jews cannot make any progress on the Temple owing to their being blocked by their neighbor nations and the order of King Cambyses, successor to Cyrus from the previous degree. Once King Darius succeeds Cambyses, Zerubabbel, at the prodding of Joshua, goes to see Darius and plead their case.
At the court of King Darius, Zerubabbel and his companions are greeted warmly by the King. The King has posed a question to his courtiers: what is the strongest and holds the most powerful sway over people. Three courtiers answer with wine (Araspes), the King (Artaban) and women (Bartacus). These answers enrage Zerubabbel, who interrupts with an impassioned speech that Truth, as an attribute of God, is by far the most powerful. The King recognizes the rightness of Zerubabbel's answer, despite how intensely and possibly rudely the answer is given. At one point, Zerubabbel exclaims:
"Wine is wicked! The King is wicked! Women are wicked! All the children of men are wicked! Their works are sinful! Unless there is Truth in them, they will perish."Not precisely gentle persuasion. I hardly bears saying, that I could totally relate. M.W. Bro. Chuck Ridlon and R.W. Bro. Jeff Simonton had enticed me to joining the Scottish Rite with "a role [I] was born to play". They were right. I have really enjoyed the Scottish Rite and look forward to more degrees in the future.