This is a Midrash on the Passion narrative by my good friend Billy Magee, a casino dealer and gambling addiction counselor.
Recent discoveries unearthed during renovations at Vatican City shed new light on the Passion of the Christ and the events leading up to Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, and Good Friday.
According to ancient Aramaic scripts, the events of the Gospels must be re-interpreted in a new light. When Christ arrived at Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the real purpose of the visit was to gamble with the Pharisees in the Temple of Herod. Unknown before the discovery of the aforementioned ancient text, a casino called Solomon’s Mine Casino was located in a secret part of the temple. Games of chance, played by the Pharisees, other Buffalo Hunters, and their Goombadies, took place 24/7. These games of chance were overseen by the Solomon’s Mine Gaming Commission (SMGC).
An unknown character, never mentioned in earlier gospels, played an integral part in setting up the game played between Christ and the Pharisees. This individual, Brunosius Bombatsi, was well-known to the twelve disciples, most of whom were fishermen. Prior to his move to Jerusalem, Brunosius got his start as the head of the Fish Mongers Local out of Galilee, the predecessor of the future Longshoremen’s Union. He did so well, that eventually he had all the Fish Mongers locked up from the Sea of Galilee, down the entire River Jordan, to the Dead Sea.
Brunosius had made earlier arrangements with Christ. The signal they agreed on was this: if a non-ridden ass was in place outside of town, then the game was on! History tells us the ass was there, and Christ knew all along (after all, he was Jesus Christ and he could foresee things like that.
After the pomp and ceremony of his entrance into the city had concluded, Christ and Brunosius covertly entered the temple and were escorted by SMGC to Solomon’s Mine Casino. This was centuries before cards were invented, so the game of choice was the dreidel.
Brunosius, who had connections with the SMGC, made special arrangements so that this four-sided gaming device had a lamb as one of its choices, rather than the traditional four-letter configuration which was standard at the time (and remains prevalent to this day). The Buffalo Hunters and Pharisees had a meeting to agree upon this alteration of the Dreidel at Brunosius’ request and the game was set.
Christ arrived at the gaming table with Brunosius and the table limit was discussed. The Buffalo Hunters wanted a 2,000 shekel table max, big stakes in those days, but Christ wanted a no-limit game (after all, the sky is the limit in his eyes). After much winging, whining, and gnashing of teeth by the Pharisees and Buffalo Hunters, it was finally agreed upon that the game was no-limit (unheard of in those days).
The Buffalo Hunters’ only concern was that this Christ character had only a pair of sandals and a robe. Besides, he showed up on a borrowed ass. Who was going to front the money? Brunosius, who was good friends with Marius Strobolini (the Pharisees’ credit host), used his open credit line to back Christ with 100,000 shekels. The game started.
Christ kept spinning lambs and the Buffalo Hunters were perplexed. At one point, they had the gaming commission use a micrometer on the dreidel to make sure it was on the square.
“Come on,” said one Buffalo Hunter, “Does this guy walk on water? It’s a 4 to 1 shot. He’s got to lose sooner or later.”
Christ never lost, and after the smoke cleared, he had beaten them out of 900,000 shekels (a tidy sum in those days). To add insult to injury, Brunosius had Marius comp Christ full room, food, and beverage for twelve at a private dinner house called The Upper Room on Thursday night.
The Buffalo Hunters called for a rematch.
“I ain’t gonna be around for it,” Christ replied, “I have to see a man about a cross in a few days. I have souls to save and places to go, but thanks for the action.”
The Pharisees were incensed, livid, and wanted revenge. One of them named Mordecei said, “I got the answer.” He knew a guy named Judas who got carved up pretty good casting lots with the Sardinian Centurions (“They stuck him like a pig!”). To make a long story short, Judas had to get a loan from a shylock called Akim from the West Bank in order to square with the Sardinians before they broke his legs. “He needs the cash,” said Mordecei, “Besides, his name is Judas, for Christ’s sake! He would sell out the Messiah himself for 30 pieces of silver, given half a chance.” So Mordecei and the two other Pharisees, Yehuda and Yoshi, all duked in a sawbuck and the deal was set. Judas flipped Christ and the rest is history.
After wining and dining at The Upper Room, which later became known as The Last Supper, a few of the disciples went to the Mount of Olives for some fresh air. While they were dozing and sleeping off their lavish meal, Christ quietly woke Simon Peter and gave him the winnings from the game. He told Peter in strict confidence that was to proceed to Rome, preach the Good News, and build a church upon a rock. The winnings were to be used as seed money for the future church.
Copyright 2010, William Magee. Reprinted with the author’s permission.