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It is 28 CE, the time of the feast of Tabernacles. A servant girl is found in the baths of the palace of King Herod Antipas, her throat cut. Jerusalem is buzzing over the brutal death of a prophet, John, known familiarly as the Baptizer, and Prefect Pontius Pilate wants no more trouble. So he coerces Gamaliel, the chief rabbi and head of the Sanhedrin, into investigating the girl's death. Gamaliel is a Talmudic scholar, not a sleuth. But as he learns more of the dead girl's background and that of some key suspects, he begins to fit the evidence together. The entwined histories of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Herod the Great, Anthony, and Augustus Caesar suddenly gain relevance to affairs in Jerusalem. And all the while, an itinerant rabbi from Nazareth with his ragged band of enthusiasts and his habit of annoying Caiaphas, the High Priest, moves enigmatically in the background....