Aemilia Metella Interviews Tabitha – part 2

Even death could not stop her

If you have not already done so, read part 1 of Aemilia’s interview here ( She left us with the ultimate cliffhanger, so read on to see what happened next.

“Yes, the day I died,” Tabitha said. “That still seems strange to say.”

Melia took my hand and led me to a flight of stairs leading to the upper floor, and Tabitha and the other ladies followed me into a large room. A row of low beds lined the walls, with blankets folded up neatly on each one. 

Selena pointed to a bed identical to the others. “This is where we all sleep,” she said. “That’s Dorcas’s bed, where she died.”

I had heard that Tabitha used her home for other purposes than to teach weaving. “Do you use this room to meet together to pray and worship?”

“Yes,” Tabitha replied. “The beds are all pushed to one side, which gives us room for all the believers in Joppa to meet.”

“It can be a bit of a squeeze sometimes,” Selena said. “Our numbers are growing at such a rate that we are now going to have two meetings to fit everyone in.”

“And that’s your fault, Selena!” The ladies laughed at Daphne’s comment. “I told you she can’t stop telling people about Jesus and how he restored her to a good life.”

I walked over to Tabitha’s bed. “So, this is where you died?”

“Yes, it is. My memory is hazy about the circumstances around my death.”

“Perhaps we should tell it.” Melia took a deep breath. “She had been ill for a couple of days. No one thought it was serious, just a little cold. But towards evening she developed a fever and lay shivering on her bed. We took it in turns to sit with her, then…”

Selena butted in. “It was my turn with her, and I think I may have nodded off, and when I checked her she was not breathing anymore, and I screamed for help.”

Melia grabbed my arm. “We all came running and saw her, poor Tabitha, lying on her bed.” 

“Was she really dead, and not just in a deep sleep?” I asked.

“We wondered about that at first, but by daybreak, we knew for a fact that she had died.”

“Oh, yes. She was definitely dead,” chimed Daphne. 

“For sure. We have all seen enough of death to know when someone has passed from this life to the next. The doctor confirmed the death.”

Death is a mystery for us all, no matter whether we are a believer in Jesus or a follower of other gods. Tabitha returned my stare.

“No, Aemilia. I know what you are thinking. No, I remember nothing specific. Except that I wasn’t scared. Warmth spread through my body and I was at peace until they woke me.”

“After the doctor left, we discussed what do to,” Daphne said. “I was about to visit her family to arrange her burial in the family tomb when Selena had a better idea.”

“Martha of Bethany came to Joppa the year before and taught us all the wonderful things that Jesus said and did,” Selena told me. “She told us about her brother, Lazarus, who died and was placed in the tomb. It was four days later that Jesus arrived and raised him from the dead. If he can do that for him, then why not Tabitha?”

 “We had heard that Peter, a friend of Jesus and our leader in Jerusalem, was in a village about a day’s walk away. News had reached us he had healed a paralysed man called Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years. So, I sent my sons on a mission to get there as soon as possible and tell Peter what had happened to Tabitha.”

“Oh, it was a terrible wait, and it’s still upsetting.” Daphne wiped a tear away from her cheek. “It was an endless day and an even longer night and wait on the following day.”

“When it grew dark on the second day, I gave up hope. I trusted my sons to give the message and trusted Peter to come, but thought perhaps it was too late. We couldn’t leave it much longer as her body needed to be put in the tomb before it decayed any further. Her body was already grey with the pallor of death. I took a lamp and walked out onto the roof and scanned the road out of Joppa. I was about to return inside when I saw a light on the road and wondered who travelled at night when it was dangerous. Then I saw the outline of three men, two I recognised as my sons. They were here.”

Selena took up the next part of the story. “When Melia shouted they were here, I ran downstairs and opened the outer gate. Peter understood the urgency of his mission and asked me to take him to Tabitha straight away. We showed him upstairs and told him of the wonderful things Tabitha had done for us. The very clothes we wear are made here, and more than that, she is our dear friend.”

“Peter shooed us out of the room and closed the door. We stood outside with my sons and waited, wondering what would happen. If there was to be a miracle, I wanted to see it, but was too afraid to open the door.”

Daphne smiled. “That didn’t stop you from putting your ear to it to listen, though.” She said.

“Well, I wasn’t going to miss anything.”

“What did you hear?” I asked Melia.

“He was very quiet, and I had to listen very hard to hear what he said. He simply said,ˋTabitha, get up!ˊ There was a sharp intake of breath, followed by a groan. Peter said we could come in and we burst through the door to see him holding Tabitha’s hand with her sat up resting on her pillow.”

“We crowded around her bed and watched her skin turn pink as the life-giving blood rushed through her once-dead grey body. She blinked a few times and said. ˋWhere am I? ˊ”

“That was too much for us and we cried and hugged her until Peter said to give her some space to breathe.”

“What about you, Tabitha? How would you tell the story?” I asked.

She was quiet for a while before adding. “The first thing I remembered was Peter smiling and the way he held my hand was strange because why would he be in my bedroom? Then everyone raced in and hugged me, and I was still none the wiser. Peter filled me in, saying that my friends were so worried that they had sent for him. I’ve thought about it a lot since it happened and have come to realise that it was not my time to die. Whatever took place was not part of God’s plan for my life and there is more to come.”

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

“Yes, the day I died,” Tabitha said. “That still seems strange to say.”

Photo by Soraya García on Unsplash

There was a sharp intake of breath, followed by a groan

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

We crowded around her bed and watched her skin turn pink as the life-giving blood rushed through her once-dead grey body.

Naples National Archaeological Museum, CC BY-SA 2.0 <;, via Wikimedia Commons

This is part 2 of the story of Tabitha. You can read part 1 here (

The story of Tabitha, or Dorcas, is found in the Bible in the book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 9 verses 36 -43. She is a very interesting character, more so than the short eight verses imply. But, it is not only the story of her, but of her friends also. I was so carried away with their collective story that I must tell it in two parts.

Susan Sutherland is the author of Leaving Bethany, a historical Biblical fiction novel written from the point of view of Martha of Bethany, a friend of Jesus. The sequel, Return to Caesarea, will be out in early 2023.

If you liked the blog, why not join Susan’s mailing list and receive a free copy of her eBook, The Interviews of Aemilia Metella?

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