"My brothers, you recall how years ago we traveled together to Judea to seek the king who's birth we discerned by the reading of the stars (and the astonishing appearance of that one star, the like of which we had not seen before).
When we found him at last, my heart was strangely shaken. We all have stood in the halls of many palaces, and - because they sought our knowledge and counsel - have held audience with kings and princes from other lands. But on seeing this babe with his mother, my heart was pierced in a way beyond reckoning and I fell to my knees and wept (as you witnessed).
Remember that it was I to whom came a dream, which - when I had recounted it in all its detail - you agreed was a warning from Heaven that we should by no means return to Herod the King, but should leave that country in all haste, so much that we departed at the first sign of dawn without tarrying even to eat or drink, neither we nor our servants.
It is that dream - which I have never forgotten - that troubles my sleep still, for it often comes upon me again in the night;
In it, I stand in a bare room, dimly lit, in the third watch of the night (a lamp burns, but I cannot see it). On my right hand lay the babe king, lying still in his bed of straw, just as we found him (I am moved again to tears when I look upon him). He is a babe in appearance like any other, but in my dream He is a mystery, and I am struck dumb. His hair like a light and his eyes like night upon the sea... gazing upon him, I am at once bathed in the sunlight of a garden, and staring into the black abyss of the deep.
A soldier with his spear stands at the door, and beyond the threshold I see our Wandering Star in the night sky - and presently I see a shadow move. I cannot see his face (for he is a man), but his very shadow is a malevolence that freezes me with dread, and my feet are rooted to the floor. I cry out, but there is no sound. Somewhere in the street beyond, a drum throbs.
The shadow enters, stepping across the threshold - it is Herod. He slowly crosses and stands over the child. He turns unhurriedly to the centurion, without speaking takes up his spear, and begins again to approach the young king. I am desperate to stop him, for he means to kill this babe, this mystery... but my legs are like wood, and my shouts die in my throat. I reach out, but feebly, like an old man. I can do nothing. Louder and louder the drum throbs.
Here the dream ends, and here - always - I awake trembling and can sleep no more.
I see the babe always behind my eyes, now. I pore over our writings and watch the stars until I faint for sleep, but their signs and teachings only multiply the mysteries. I fear sometimes that I am going mad, (as I know you do) for it seems that either I have lost all understanding and all the wisdom of our craft, or this king has turned the earth on its head. I see him now in every heavenly movement and in every prophecy of our sages. That night in Judea, long ago, only one star was his, and now (I am going mad) they all have become his.
It is for this reason that I must travel again to Judea - even in my old age - and discover what has become of him, for I cannot put him out of my mind. The stars cry death and life, wrath and mercy, doom and blessing all at once.
I take two of my most faithful servants and one student with me.
Forgive me, my friends and brothers, for taking my leave of you without a farewell, but I know you would try to prevent me, and that you might succeed. I do not expect to return. Indeed, I do not know that I am equal to the journey, but should anything happen, I have made my servants and my understudy to swear an oath that they will return with all my records and make a report to you before they see even their own families.
Peace to you, and long life. You will ever be in my thoughts.