A liturgical play in one act by Jean H. Klein
Eldad ben Jacob searches for a magnificent yellow pearl rumored to come from the reefs of Bahrain. Hadanyeh points to a direction across the desert. In time, Eldad is accompanied by a Bactrian chief who has also heard of this elusive pearl.
They travel throughout the Roman empire where they are accosted by Roman guards. The Romans had given the pearl to a brave young Centurion. While he wore it, it began to lose its heavy cast and turned a feathery gray with a rainbow sheen. From the Centurion, the pearl went to a money lender, Jason, by name. Eldad finally traces him to the port of Antioch only to discover that Jason had died abroad. No one knew what had happened to his personal property. There, at the seaside, Eldad admits to himself that he is growing old and blind. He begins to give up his quest.
Defeated, he encounters people in need for the first time in his life and gradually gives away the rest of his fortune to the poor. He has lost everything and is in despair, With the help of the beggar, Eldad ben Jacob reaches the place where Jesus is speaking. The voice of the Prophet thrills Eldad. It was like the music of a waterfall. Like the humming of honey-bees. He spoke of a kingdom where the rich are kind to the poor; where the strong help the weak and all are good to God.
There, Eldad finds his rumored pearl but he has learned the value of a pearl beyond price.
Time: shortly before the Crucifixion
From the Play
Eldad, a prosperous gem merchant
Merchant, another gem merchant
Hadanyeh, a Prince, and old friend of Eldad’s
Bactrian Chief, a wild man from the North
Two Roman Guards
Onones, King of Parthia and friend of Eldad’s
Old Man, a stranger encountered by Eldad
A Poor Woman, one of a crowd.
Levi, a Toll Collector
A Poor Boy
Several Poor People
(NOTE: Several of these roles can be double cast allowing the play to be performed with 11 actors. Larger casting is possible.)
The Scene: Numerous areas around Capernaum, the Euphrates, old Rome, and Jerusalem. The set, itself, is a simple bare stage, decorated only with possible shrubbery or landmarks which can be rolled on an off between scenes, sometimes by the actors themselves. As scenes change, props or wagons are rolled on to suggest a change in locale.
Time: shortly before the Crucifixion
Narrator: Eldad Ben Jacob followed the camel trains from the mouth of the Euphrates to the palace of his friend, Hadanyeh, in the south of Arabia. Eldad was a young and wealthy gem merchant in search of a wonderful yellow pearl that we rumored to come from the reefs of Bahrein
(The lights rise and we see Handanyeh sitting on a throne. He is a young man, clad in regal garments. The NARRATOR retreats as Eldad enters. He is in his middle years and is obviously wealthy.)
Eldad: Hadanyeh, my dear friend. I’m glad to see you again.
Handanyeh: Eldad ben Jacob! My old friend. What brings you so many miles across the desert?
Eldad: I’m looking for you. If my prayers are to be answered, you may be able to help me today . . .
Handanyeh: You don’t look as if you need help to me, Eldad. Your eyes glow as brightly as your famous rubies It looks as if business has gone well with you . . .
Eldad: (somewhat feverishly) You might think so. In this pouch, I have rubies and emeralds more beautiful than most men have ever seen. And pearls of almost every color. But today I still call l myself a poor man.
Eldad: I’ve heard you have a jewel my heart aches to own.
Handanyeh: (laughing) Eldad ben Jacob! I can’t believe that anything in my poor purse would make a great gem merchant like you envious.
Eldad: It’s a pearl, Hadanyeh. A yellow pearl.
Handanyeh: (thinking) A pear? Hmm. Ah! The yellow pearl! I should have known you’d come looking for it one day.
Eldad: (excited) Then you have it! My dear friend. Please. Let me buy it. I’ll trade you everything that I have. Take it. Just let me have the pearl.
Handanyeh: If I had it, I would. I’d give it to you as my friend. But I’ve already given it away as a gift. Just a little while ago. I sent it with my servant to another old friend in Parthia. Poor man was waylaid by thieves before he got there. I haven’t heard anything about the pearl since.
Eldad: I can’t believe you gave it away! Why?
Handanyeh: I don’t know. It had a strange power. I meant to possess it. But I started to feel that it possessed me.
Eldad: Then everything I’ve heard about it must be true! I have to have it.
Handanyeh: Think twice before you go any further, my friend. This is a very odd gem.
Eldad: Is it as beautiful as I’ve heard?
More than I could have ever imagined. It’s even hard to remember it.