A Day with Simon of Cyrene
My time on the road of history was brief. I came suddenly and left just as suddenly. But it was an important time. It was that time. For you to understand what it was like, you must understand something about who I am. I'm a Jew, but I did not live in the land of our fathers. My name: Shimon (Simon to you), from the Roman province of Cyrene.
I was raised both Greco-Roman and Jewish
Now, everything was a Roman province in my time. We tolerated the Romans, of course; you could do little else but tolerate Romans. If you didn't tolerate them, they got rid of you. But I lived in Cyrene, to you, North Africa. And as I said, I was Jewish by birth and by upbringing.
There was another side that made me, in many ways, two people. It was the cultured side, the side of the empire. Not the Roman Empire. Those Romans could do nothing but collect. No, the culture of our world was Greek. I was called a Hellenistic Jew by our countrymen in Palestine, and being both Jew and Greek caused me some concern. We had to go on this particular year to the Feast of Passover of unleavened bread, and we would stay the fifty-some days afterwards for the Feast of Pentecost. The Law of God said that every Jewish male was to go up to the Holy City three times a year; in the fall for the Feast of Booths, and in the spring to the Feast of Passover and the Feast of Pentecost. And so we went.
Now in those days the safest way to go was by ship, if you could call it that—those big tubs that the Romans had, which were run by Phoenician sailors. It would usually take us two weeks. Now, that was a good two weeks for me, for it gave me hours to read the Holy Scriptures.
From my youth, of course, I had known the Scriptures. I knew well the first five books ...