The Chosen Review Episode 2: Shabbat


Building upon the first episode, the second installment continues telling us about all the characters. The connecting thread is the approaching Shabbat (sabbath.) We don’t have a good way of relating to a Jewish Shabbat. We live in the industrial age where almost everything we could want is open 24/7. You want Twinkies at 2:00 am? Walmart is open. You want a AAAA battery for your Bluetooth stylus? Walgreens has it right now! You cand find almost anything on demand. The longest wait we have is 2-day prime shipping (and sometimes they are late!) 2020 and Covid 19 brought us back to a time when stores closed up at 5:00pm and people went home for dinner. How many times did you readers park your car and walk up to the doors only to realize they were locked, and you couldn’t get Twinkies? I had that experience many times. The closest thing we have in American culture to Shabbat is Christmas day. We plan ahead, we have our food ready, gas tanks are full; because we know EVERYTHING is closed. Imagine that Christmas day was every week, every Saturday. Another point of interest is the Jewish clock. Days start at sunup and end at sundown. Six o’clock Friday night is the start of Shabbat and you were expected to be in your home with your family observing certain rituals with your meal. The next morning you would go to synagogue and listen to the reading of scripture and then to a sermon. From then until sundown, all good Israelites would rest and definitely not go fishing.

“I was one way, now I’m completely different.”

In Episode 1, the Roman Praetor Dominus had been pressuring Nicodemus to help with a tax problem. The Jews had been secretly fishing Friday night and not reporting their catch, so Rome wasn’t getting their cut of the profits. Nicodemus agreed to preach against the sin of fishing during Shabbat but only because it right, not because Dominus demands it. Episode 2 further develops Nicodemus as a man pondering deep questions that would be seen as heresy just to ask. He expresses his thoughts to his wife, who is shown to be supportive but certainly more concerned with their status in Jerusalem high society. He was shaken by his encounter with Mary and his inability to cast out the demons. When he sees her whole and well, He asks Mary who healed her. She does not know, but says, “I was one way, now I’m completely different.” Nicodemus is stirred up again and expresses to his wife his dissatisfaction with the state of Judaism and religious thought. His wife urges him to put on his mask as the Teacher of Teachers and Nicodemus leads a stiff, by-the-book Shabbat.

Mary has herself been preparing to host her first Shabbat and is extremely nervous about it, but friends help her to prepare. Meanwhile, we learn more about Matthew and his relationship to Dominus and to his parents. His family has cut him off as well as everyone else; he has no place to go for Shabbat. Simon continues to scheme his way out of financial trouble and entangles himself with Dominus. His wife knows he is fishing during Shabbat, and to say she is unhappy about it would be like calling wrestling a Grizzly bear risky. Simon’s Shabbat is not a harmonious event.

“You’ve never been to Shabbat?”
“Oh, lots of times. I’ve just never been invited before.”

The episode concludes with Mary’s Shabbat, which is the last resort for the poor and undesirable of Capernaum. One man even states he has never been invited to Shabbat. “You’ve never been to Shabbat?” Mary askes. “Oh, lots of times. I’ve just never been invited before,” the man replies. This scene is again a heartwarming end to the episode, but I have to give a fly here as I doubt a woman would have led Shabbat. Mary may well have hosted the dinner, but she would have asked a man to lead in the prayers. This is a mistake storywriters often make: taking the moral beliefs of today and dropping them into a time when no one would have thought that way. We need to present history as it was, not as we wish it was.

Filtering Required Hist./Biblical Accuracy Fictional Story


Now for my rating. I give this episode one fly for historical inaccuracy. Otherwise, this is an excellent continuation of the series. Grace and peace be unto you, and please be amused responsibly.