Four-part drama retelling the classic biblical tale. Joseph cannot accept Mary's explanation for her pregnancy, while Herod's suspicions are aroused by the arrival of the Magi.
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-Your tax is late. Take it in meat.
-No, please! I'm...
I've heard the Magi talk of a new King in Israel.
-Sire, who could possibly threaten you?
-It's not safe.
-What if Herod or the Romans attack our convoy?
-The Magi must be there.
You are blessed amongst women.
-You carry the son of God!
-He is a good man. He will care for you and the child.
What must you think of me?
There are things I have to tell you.
What could that be?
Things aren't what they seem.
So you're not pregnant?
You've stolen a melon from the market and hidden it under your dress?
-No. I am pregnant.
-Then everything's exactly as it seems!
Please listen to me!
I'll go... You'll never see me again,
but don't you even want to hear what I've got to say?
I'm not asking you to change how you feel,
not even to understand, but just to let me explain as best I can!
You at least owe me that.
I'm all right.
Who is he?
There isn't one.
Not in the way you mean.
-I haven't betrayed you.
For God's sake, Mary, you're pregnant. I know it isn't mine!
This isn't my doing.
You were raped?
A messenger came to me!
-The messenger, he told me I would bear a son,
that the holy spirit would enter me and give me a child.
-This is what you wanted me to listen to?
-It's the truth!
-I'm still a virgin!
-You're saying that a messenger came from God and told you that you'd bear a son?
-While you were in Judah?
No, before I left.
-Before you left! You didn't think to mention it?
-I tried, but I couldn't find the words!
I was frightened and confused. And he also talked about my cousin.
That's why I had to see her, to be sure.
You're carrying God's son?
-Or is the truth that you went to Judah, had too many glasses of wine and ended up in bed with someone?
Then you're not pious Mary everybody thinks you are,
-that despite being betrothed, you've been whoring yourself in Judah!
Believe you're a virgin and are carrying God's child?
Or forgive your whoring?
-What I told you is the truth!
-So it's not enough that you betray me,
you want me to look like a fool as well?
I haven't betrayed you.
I loved you.
I know what you think of me.
You said this child wasn't Joseph's, was that the truth?
-He didn't pressure you into saying this?
What I told you was the truth.
What you have done is bad enough,
but at least be honest about it instead of inventing this stupid story.
It's not a story!
Of everyone in the whole world,
I thought that you'd be the one person who would believe me.
You've broken your mother's heart.
Will Joseph stand by you?
I can't blame him.
He's a good man and you've humiliated him.
Then I will do this on my own.
He will expect us to seek an audience to state our business.
But invite us to his palace, we could be there for days. Time is pressing enough as it is.
We can't cross the border without asking Herod's leave.
But we're here to see Balaam's star, not indulge in petty politics.
-So what do we do?
-We do what we set out to do.
We move on.
If it's news from Rome, I have no interest.
The census is costing me a fortune.
People can't pay their taxes while they're travelling.
Magi caravan crossed the border this morning.
Have they sought an audience?
No, sire. But their course will bring them to Jerusalem.
Without my permission?
Then send the army to teach them some manners.
They hold a great influence, sire. It might not be wise to offend them.
They offend me!
Then perhaps I should go and meet them.
-Ask them to state their business.
-Then do it quickly!
And if there's a conspiracy, I want it crushed!
Strew their carcasses across the desert.
I have a sick wife, a baby, and a father to feed,
and yet they leave me with nothing!
They will be judged by God.
And in the meantime, I watch my family starve?
God will provide.
My whole life, I've heard the same thing,
yet seen nothing to convince me that it's true.
You must believe that,
as God's chosen people, he will come to our aid.
But God also says...
an eye for an eye.
So why can't we fight back?
Because we can't fight the whole Roman empire.
Even if there were a thousand Romans to every one of us,
if God is really on our side, then how could we lose?
Wouldn't that be a real test of faith?
God will show us the way. The Messiah...
How many Jews will be left to see him?
-You don't belong!
ALL SPEAK OVER ONE ANOTHER
Help us! Please!
You'll have to leave.
-At least let my mother stay.
-No, you mustn't go out there!
-This is the house of God.
-They'll stone her to death!
Please let us stay here.
This is no place for an adulteress.
-I want to leave.
-But the people... They're still outside.
-Then let them do as they will.
In the name of God!
She's my child.
You can leave the back way.
I have to register for the census.
Will you come back?
I don't know.
I have family in Bethlehem.
I have to ask you something.
I know I have no right, but I ask it anyway.
You don't even need to ask. You and Anna have been good to me. I'll set the betrothal aside in private.
I won't see her stoned.
Mary was attacked in the town today.
I don't know how I can protect her.
This is none of your doing.
I bear you no ill will.
Has she told you who the father is?
Forgive me, but there's something else I need to ask of you.
Anna and I have been talking.
It's not safe for Mary to stay here,
not any more.
Even without you making a charge against her, the mob would still see her stoned.
And how much worse will it be...
when the child is born?
I don't see what I can do.
-You could take her with you.
Just give her safe passage to Bethlehem.
Then once we know she's safe, we can work out what to do for the best.
If people see you leave together, it might...
-You've no right to ask this of me!
And I wouldn't ask if I could think of another way.
I'll pay you.
I don't want your money!
She's still my daughter!
Take care of her.
I'll make sure she gets to Bethlehem safely. Then she's on her own.
Look! Listen to this. Consider this.
Riders are coming!
-I am Nicolaus of Damascus, envoy of King Herod.
-He asks you to state your business.
-We are Magi.
Not even Magi cross borders without paying their respects to their host.
We study the stars, they determine our destination.
So, what should I tell the King?
That we had manners enough to offer you
food and drink before your journey back.
Your work must be important to bring you so far from home.
All our work is important. There is much to learn from the stars.
Some say you can foretell the future.
Certain alignments can foretell events, but the nature of them...
that's far from clear.
Which alignment brings you to Judaea?
-Do you study astronomy?
-I take an interest in a great many things.
My own people, the Greeks,
believe the conjunction of stars heralds the birth of great leaders.
Then your countrymen must be wise, indeed.
You still haven't told me which alignment brings you here.
There are many.
-Are none more special, none more significant, than the others?
And yet you travel a thousand miles.
Well, we often travel far in search of clearer skies, new stars.
The pursuit of wisdom cannot be measured in miles.
No. Well, let us hope the Jews do not hear of your journey.
-It may give them hope.
They have been waiting a very long time for the God of Abraham to send them a great leader.
They call him the Messiah,
a new king of the Jews.
But ones so learned as yourselves must have heard of this prophecy, surely?
We know of many prophecies.
And yet you come to Judea.
-We simply follow the stars.
So you said.
It's a strange belief, even for the Jews.
The Messiah, born of a virgin no less.
Raised in the city of David.
As you say, it's a strange belief,
-even for the Jews.
So, what shall I tell the king of your plans?
That we intend to return to Babylonia once we have rested.
You don't intend to enter Jerusalem?
The king would be pleased to see you at the palace before you leave.
Thank him for his hospitality,
but as our time here is so brief, we don't wish to inconvenience him.
As you wish.
Should you find anything of significance,
the King would be happy to hear of it.
-You kicked me!
-Quiet, or I'll kick you again!
Why did you tell him we weren't going into Jerusalem?
I should have realised that Herod must know about the Messiah.
He must fear him above all others.
Not being born a Jew,
he must know that...
the people rise around such a man.
Do you think that's it? That's what the stars foresee?
-The coming of this messiah?
-Yes, I do.
-You knew all along.
That's what you were talking about, the bridge between Heaven and Earth.
It's more than a bridge perhaps.
There are some who believe that the Jewish messiah will be more than a man.
That he will be God himself...
in human form.
And you? What do you believe?
Get the charts.
I've asked myself that question
for every one of the thousand miles we've travelled.
you saw Jerusalem as the centre of the alignment...
..but, look, project the line.
As the stars merge they will slow down, taking the alignment
away from Jerusalem to the south and west.
The prophecy says that the Messiah will be born in the city of David.
It's there we will learn our answers.
The Magi ride a thousand miles to look at the stars.
They seemed to be intrigued by a certain alignment, sire.
What kind of alignment?
They didn't say.
I won't have them in Jerusalem.
Before we know it, the Jews will be heralding the arrival of another damned prophet.
The subject was raised.
I knew it!
They also seemed to be aware of the Jewish prophecy of the Messiah.
-The old one knew of it.
-Are you saying that's why they are here?
No, simply that the subject was raised.
I've been plagued by tales of this new king coming to claim my throne
since I came to this godforsaken country!
Ignore it! No-one but the zealots believe it.
Yet the Magi travel a thousand miles, for what?
They assured me they were leaving.
I want them watched.
Every step they take.
I want to know where they go,
who they see!
If they do seek this new king...
..let them lead us to him.
That I may cut his throat myself.
Herod's soldiers are watching the camp.
-They're waiting for us to leave.
-And if we don't?
-Then he will...
He will know that we have lied.
Even if he lets us move further into the kingdom, he will watch us
-every step of the way, all the way to Bethlehem!
-Then we must go back.
To die in my bed...
knowing I was this close to witnessing the day the world changed forever?
Herod is a butcher.
If he knew the truth, that the one thing he fears is about to happen,
-he would send his army into Bethlehem.
-We can't go back, not when we've come this far.
We have no choice!
Blessed are You, HaShem, our God,
King of the Universe...
..by whose word everything comes to be.
Help us, your humble servants,
wait patiently in the coming of the Messiah.
Look! They're going back.
Are you sure this is wise?
We won't have any guards.
I'll lend you a sword.
Melchior will see what he's come to see if I have to carry him to Bethlehem on my back.
Let's go. May they watch the lights.
We'll make camp for tonight,
carry on tomorrow.
-Are you all right?
-It was just a bad dream.
You should drink.
Do you want to tell me about your dream?
Was it about me?
There was a man sent to defend you.
He said you were carrying the light of the world inside you.
A light that will shine for a thousand years.
Did you believe him?
My mind was telling me what I wanted to hear. Nothing more.
And yet I can feel it,
-the light inside me.
-We'll be in Bethlehem tomorrow.
I'll find you somewhere to stay.
My defender in your dream...
..his name was Gabriel...
..and when he spoke there was such a warmth, such a feeling of love.
As though you were in the presence of God himself.
He told you I was carrying the Messiah.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Joseph cannot accept Mary's explanation for her pregnancy. Her neighbours turn against her, and she is in danger of being stoned. Her father, Joachim, begs Joseph to take her to Bethlehem, since he must travel there for the census.
The arrival of the Magi on his borders makes Herod deeply suspicious, so he sends Nicolaus to discover the reason for their mission. The Magi, however, are wary of revealing the truth to the emissary of a king with Herod's reputation.
Thomas the shepherd seeks answers for his plight. He hears of the coming of the Messiah but takes no comfort in the words.