Eleazar followed his father along the narrow trail from one level to the next. They moved beyond the grassy hillside onto the rocky path, descended to the valley below, then rose to the three peaks of the Mount of Olives.
At the crest, a vast wilderness stretched before them, and in the distance the pink-hued mountains of Moab stood against the pale blue sky. With the rising of the sun beyond those hills life came to the desert. Red and yellow wildflowers turned toward the heavens. Lush myrtle boasted clusters of white blossoms. The sweet scent of purple rockrose and the delicate aroma of white narcissus filled the air.
Eleazar tried to suppress the surge of excitement. He took a deep breath, inhaled the mix of nature, and looked ahead with anticipation. He knew this place, had eyed it from a distance. The miserable ones lived there. His mother's warning came back to him. He would sacrifice his own family to help the forbidden ones.
The forbidden ones. A chill ran through him. He looked with trepidation at the row of caves. It was too late to turn back.