Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Embassy to Gaius, the Number(s) of the Beast, and the Book of Revelation

I made some comments on Mark Goodacre's blog on the above topic which he has deleted, so I will continue the topic here.  You wouldn't think that this topic had anything to do with the priests being kicked out of the temple at the time of Judas Maccabeus.  Well it certainly has to do with an outcome of that.  It led to the revolt of the priests against their rulers and the prophets, and two years later the war against the Romans.  If you haven't watched the short video taken from a BBC series Bible Mysteries in 2003 on Mark Goodacre's blog then I would like you to do so.
(http://ntweblog.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/number-of-beast-on-bible-mysteries.html). 

The video is shocking with its images of a snarling beast.  The message of the video  is conveyed with a subtle scholarly air of authority. One English professor, Ian Boxall (now in America) casually chalking on a piece of pottery shows that Revelation's 666 is the code for Nero.  He assumes we already understand Nero to be evil or beastly.  Never mind that Nero was accused of all sorts of crimes which he did not commit.  This was by a subsequent hostile Flavian dynasty who distorted the history to an incredible degree.  The blaming of Nero is almost exactly the same as that meted out to Herod.  What was the crime that Nero was supposed to have committed when he was found guilty by the senate for being an 'enemy of the public'?  Was it for being an atheist, denying Roman gods?  Or could the crime of being an enemy of the public include the crime of being an atheist?  Was Nero converted to a Jewish prophetic belief in the Spirit of God?  I think he was.  (See my post: Nero and His Mother Follow the Prophets). Nero's murders of his family were fabricated the same as Herod's so-called murders of his family. There are obvious similarities between the generally accepted accounts of the two rulers.  Both accounts betray fabrication which was   typical of Roman historians in the first century.  

I sent the following email on 3/01/2017 to Professor Mary Beard, the joint author of a book Religions of Rome:
Dear Mary
Which would have been worse for a member of the Roman elite standing trial before the senate in the first century: 
 -to be accused of atheism/denial of the Roman gods, or
 -to be accused of being an enemy of the public?
 Or could the crime of being enemy of the public include the former crime?  
Mary has not yet replied, but I have read the relevant part of her book.  I think that Nero was accused of being an enemy of the public because he granted freedom to both Jews and Greeks.  This would have been a reverse of usual Roman policy.  

Then there is a second English professor David Parker (University of Birmingham) who tells us about some fragments of manuscript from Oxyrhynchus in Egypt. This manuscript has a number 616 which he calmly tells us is code for Gaius Caesar who we might think was equally bad as Nero.  Mark, take note, the commentator assumes that John is the author of both the book of Revelation and the third century fragment of Revelation found at Oxyrhynchus.  Quite clearly, there must have been two different authors involved to have two numbers of the beast.  In both cases I suggest we have editing of an original manuscript, which the commentator erroneously describes as an 'ancient apocalyptic tradition'.    

We were told in the video told that the early Greeks and Romans loved encoding.  It is a pity computers weren't invented then.  Those early writers could have applied their brains to more useful things.  Both numbers were probably substituted by people interpreting history as they received it from their ruling classes.  This is typical of the way early manuscripts were written or developed. In the case of Revelation the text was certainly developed from an earlier time.

As the video implies, Gaius Caesar is made to appear exceptionally evil because he is supposed to have ordered that his statue be erected in the Jewish temple.  One would naturally think such an action would have upset the Jews. 

The account is in Antiquities 18.8. The embassy to Gaius from Jews and Greeks of Alexandria is an edited account.  Jewish inhabitants of Alexandria have been substituted for priests from Jerusalem, and Greeks of Alexandria for prophets from Jerusalem.  The dispute was not between Jews and Greeks, but between priests and prophets.  And the 'embassy' was not to Gaius but to Agrippa.  Josephus, a priest, was writing for the Romans in 94, about events which occurred around 35 years earlier in 60 CE approximately. He was not going to admit the existence of prophets, or that priests were involved.  Josephus was editing an existing Antiquities.  

And you can forget about Philo representing the Jews, and Apion the Greeks.  They were both dead when Josephus was writing, so he could please himself what he wrote.   The account in Philo was not written by Philo.  It is a fabrication written after the time of Josephus, a massive 30,000 words approximately compared to 3,200 words in Ant. 18.8. There was no expense spared in re-writing history.  The account of the Embassy to Gaius in Philo is so far fetched and bears little relation to the record in Antiquities. In Philo, it is Agrippa who gets Gaius to change his mind about erecting his statue in the temple.  Apion representing Greeks is totally absent in Philo.  It was Gaius's death that let Petronius off the hook in Antiquities.  The accounts in both books are fabrications.

No reason for the 'disturbance' (Ant.18.257) between Jews and Greeks of Alexandria is given.  There is thus no connection with Gaius wanting to erect his statue in the temple in Jerusalem. (Ant.18.261).  The 'disturbance' was between the priests and prophets in Jerusalem.  The priests wanted to erect an altar for burning sacrificed animals.  This altar had been removed by Judas Maccabeus some 200 years previously when he purged the temple.  There had been no animal sacrifices since ,and no appointment of high priests. The priests had not been able to sacrifice in the temple through the time of the Hasmoneans and Herodians. Their frustration was building up to a peak.  War between Agrippa's forces and the priests was looming. That war eventually led to the death of Agrippa, and the intervention of the Romans under Nero.  

I doubt that representatives were chosen from the each 'party' (Ant.18.257), (the priests and the prophets) to go before Agrippa who would have been well aware of the views of the prophets. He was a prophet himself.  A representative of the priests probably went to Agrippa and charged the prophets with not sacrificing animals to God in accordance with the law (see Ant.18.266).   Agrippa became angry and 'directed him to be gone'.

Petronius was appointed Governor of Syria but that is all.  Agrippa was a trusted king who could manage his affairs well.  Ant.18.261- 288 involving Petronius is thus fabrication.

Aristobulus's Plot Against His Brother Agrippa
In Ant.18.289 we have 'But King Agrippa now lived at Rome'.  This is extremely unlikely. Ant.18.273 introduces King Agrippa's brother Aristobulus who was for the priests.  I suggest that it was this brother who lived at Rome who had gained the favour of Gaius.  Aristobulus spent a small fortune entertaining Gaius and offering him gifts.  He did nothing less than try to persuade Gaius ('cast the die' , Ant.18.298) to let the priests rebuild (erect) their altar for burnt offering.  He knew he was asking for something that would be dangerous for him to do.  Gaius admired Agrippa's virtue or piety and his administration.  He understood that Aristobulus's request would lead to war. He refused Aristobulus's request saying something to the effect 'I will make you an example to the present and to all future ages that they may not dare to contradict the commands of their Emperor'.  He had Aristobulus executed for plotting against his brother.  

News of Gaius's Death
In the extant text of Antiquities, Gaius supposedly wrote to Petronius.  We have the fanciful excuse of the ship carrying the letter going so slow that other letters came to Petronius telling him that Gaius had died. As if that wasn't enough, a little after the first letter, another letter was supposed to have been sent (presumably from Gaius while he was alive) telling Petronius to commit suicide. Needless to say Petronius rejoiced at Gaius's death.  Believe that and you will believe anything.  Endings with no resulting outcome are typical of Josephus. In reality, Gaius wrote to Agrippa giving him the details of Aristobulus's plot (Ant.18.305) to support the priests, and his execution.   
        
The Book of Revelation (to be continued)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Prof. Joan E. Taylor Disagrees with Golb (See her book The Essenes, the Scrolls and the Dead Sea)

Introduction 

Joan's book published in 2012 could almost have been written in 1995 when Golb produced his work Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Her book shows that confusion still reigns in the minds of many Scroll scholars who still insist that Essenes wrote the Scrolls at Qumran, as she does.   I hope to compare some aspects in both books and occasionally come up with some conclusions of my own.  Among the numerous books that I have read on the Dead Sea Scrolls, there is none that compares to Golb's for the detail of his personal involvement with the history and the characters of it.   


One conclusion I have, is that Joan's Essenes (Josephus's Sicarri) are priests who wrote the Scrolls.  But in reality,  Essenes are prophets.  We will see how the Essenes were given the title as a deliberate misnomer by both Philo and Josephus (or a later editor of their works) to deceive. The confusion has been perpetuated by scholars.  Priests wrote the Scrolls found in the Dead Sea area, as this blog attests.  The 'seekers of smooth things' and the 'wicked priest', mentioned in the Scrolls, were prophets.  The priests who wrote the Scrolls, in particular the pesharim, thought that prophets 'flouted the Law'.  The priests couldn't bring themselves to describe the 'seekers of smooth things' as prophets.  The 'wicked priest' was a priest by inheritance, but converted to the prophets, which was one reason why he was called 'wicked' by the priests.  He was of course Judas Maccabeus, a priest from a family of priests.  For the writers of the New Testament Judas was made synonymous with the disciple who betrayed Jesus.  

We owe our views of Essenes largely to Josephus, a proverbial liar. In his story, Josephus had himself appointed a general leading the charge in Galilee, a place for which there is no archaeological evidence for Vespasian being present.  In this case absence of evidence is evidence.  Joan sets out to define who the Essenes were. But I can find no reference (at least in the Index of Subjects, which is comprehensive) to the ‘seekers of smooth things’ and their leader the ‘wicked priest’. These were the unnamed, deadliest enemies of Joan's Essenes.  So if Joan wishes to define Essenes, she must also define their enemies. 

There are two parties in the Scrolls. One defines the other.  The two groups were poles apart. What one group was, the other was not. Joan's Essenes (the priests) were keen on keeping the whole Jewish law.  For the prophets, the keeping the whole Jewish Law written down by the priests was an irrelevance.  The prophets were interested in following 'the laws of their fathers' passed down probably orally.  The prophets kept the moral part of the law with much less emphasis on the ceremonial.  According to Joan's Essenes, their opponents sought 'smooth things' and 'flouted the Law'.  At one time the 'seekers of smooth things' had a leader who according to the Scrolls was a 'wicked priest'. So we have two questions to answer.  Who were Joan's Essenes who she says were the writers of the scrolls, and keepers of the whole Jewish law?  And who were the 'seekers of smooth things' who 'flouted the Law in the congregation' (as the Scrolls state).  My views are in the second paragraph.  I find it staggering that Joan has nothing to say about the 'seekers of smooth things'.  

And even worse Joan has nothing to say about the way the pesherim, written by her Esseneshad polluted the books of the prophets.  Not that the prophets would have bothered at the time of writing because they were all dead (that is according to most scholars).  I think the prophets were very much alive.  When we read the Scrolls we are getting just one side of the story, the priests view, particularly of 'the seekers of smooth things'.  And you only have to read the War Scroll to realise how zealous and ferocious the writers of the Scrolls were.   No wonder Joan says that Josephus describes them as a military 'battalion' or a military 'order'!  I don't trust Josephus. Most biblical scholars cannot believe what their eyes are telling them.  I approach his writings with a great deal of skepticism.  In any case, I don't believe Josephus was talking about military orders.  While explaining Judaism to his Roman readers, he (rather the original author of Antiquities) had in mind priestly orders, and particularly two (not three), the order of priests and the order of prophets. Joan's Essenes were no military 'order' in the sense of a Roman army.  But they had many characteristics similar to modern day terrorists.  And yes they did occupy Qumran for a short period at the beginning of their revolt, as they did Machaerus and Masada.  


Joan's Chapter 2 - Philo (Prophets turned into Essenes)

Was Philo the Earliest Writer About Prophets?  Philo is apparently a much bigger, cleverer, verbose liar than Josephus.  He takes ten words to say one of Josephus's. For the Embassy to Gaius, Philo has approximately 34,000 words.  Josephus has approximately 3,100 (see Ant.18.8).  That fact alone makes me think that Philo's works were edited by someone who knew the text that was in Josephus's writings.  On page 24, Joan considers that Philo's discussion of Essenes is the earliest extant text, being produced in the middle 20s CE.  This is very strange given that Moses was their legislator.  But much of what Philo has written about so-called 'Essenes' we only know because of a fourth century Christian Bishop, Eusebius, who quotes from 'lost' works of Philo which were probably destroyed deliberately. I cannot help thinking that Philo's works have been edited by a later writer, probably Eusebius.  Did Philo originally write things as he really saw them.  I think he did.  I think he was an honest broker.  For the term Essenes he would have used prophets. Eusebius had a motive for changing the text.  He didn't want to speak about prophets who didn't sacrifice, relied on the Spirit for cleansing, and didn't keep the whole Law, because that would have compromised Christianity.  Not only was Philo infected but also later writers were able to quote Philo as though they were stating facts.       

The Embassy to Gaius - A Pack of Lies  The story about an embassy to Gaius, in both Philo and Josephus was undoubtedly a cover for real events concerning disputes between prophets and resurgent priests who took their protests to king Agrippa.  The Embassy is a fabrication inserted in both author's works. In Ant.18, why would Gaius upset Agrippa (18.8.4) by wanting his statue erected in the temple when he had just given Herod's estate to Agrippa (Ant.18.7)?   The character of Gaius has suddenly been changed from being pro Agrippa to being against Agrippa.  Gaius wanting to erect his statue in the Temple was a complete fabrication.  There was no protest by Alexandrian Jews and Greeks to Gaius.  The characters Apion and Philo suddenly appear out of the blue, as though they were fictitious creations.  And Philo's editor creates that much bigger story.    

Two Natures of Jewish Society  Have you ever wondered why in all of his works Philo has much to say about priests and Essenes (really prophets) yet nothing about Pharisees or Sadducees? Here we see Philo's honesty that he really was talking about priests and prophets.  Philo didn't utter one word about Pharisees and Sadducees.  They obviously didn't exist.  Philo's editor (probably Eusebius) slipped up by not including them. And why does Philo, a Jew living in Egypt, a contemporary of Essenes the priests, recognise Essenes the prophets, as the 'prime example of the outstanding nature of the Jewish religion at least three times', according to Joan on page 22 of her book?   Joan mistakenly writes as though the Jewish religion, at the time of Philo, was of 'one nature'. That may have been true before Judas Maccabeus, but not around the time Philo was writing.  The prophets were ruling the temple, and the priests were exiled from it.   

On page 23, Joan writes that for Philo,  the Essenes, the prophets, "were representative of the whole of Jewish society", and were not "living on the fringes", as most scholars say they were.  Joan's Essenes were priests.  The priests were living living in exile from the temple in Jerusalem and in every town and village.  The prophets were also living in Jerusalem and every village and town, but they were the ones controlling temple worship at the altar of incense.  Animal sacrifices by the priests had been abolished. That is why Joan could write that Josephus states three times (there was probably more occasions originally) that the Essenes (really the prophets) were representative of the whole of Jewish society. I presume she would include Jewish kings also.  Most Jews were then following the prophets. The Hasmoneans, Herod (who had a Hasmonean wife),  the Herodians and Agrippa were following the prophets, not the priests. The priests had been outcasts from the temple since the time of Judas Maccabeus. 

Did Philo write for a Largely Non-Jewish Audience?  On page 23, Joan writes: 'Moses gets a mention as the lawgiver of the Jews (Prob. 29), but - strangely without the same dazzling compliments' which Philo attributes to Greek philosophers.  On page 24, Joan writes that Philo was writing for 'a largely non-Jewish audience skilled in Stoic philosophy'.  But there were large communities of Jews living in Egypt at the time, many of whom probably spoke Greek and had sympathies for the Essenes (the prophets) and Stoic philosophy.  The reason for Moses not being reported in glowing terms by Philo was that Moses was responsible for the Jewish Law which legislated for priests and prophets.  Philo died about 25 years before Vespasian came to power, so unlike Josephus, he was free to speak his mind. 

Where Have the Prophets Gone in History?  Prophets seem to be missing in our considerations.  Where have they gone to?  Were the Essenes in actual fact prophets?  Was the wicked priest descended from a priest, but turned prophet.  Why would prophets be turned into 'Essenes'?  I suggest it was because Josephus was opposed to the very existence of prophets and called them Essenes to obuscate. Josephus made it appear that Essenes had caused the War, saying that they had gone through all sorts of torment by the Romans (War 2.152) under their leader Judas the Galilean (War 2. 118).  This was Josephus fabricating and transposing an account of Judas the Maccabean and the dreadful time the prophets suffered at the hands of Antiochus from Antiquities to his fabricated history of War.  Josephus thus, in effect, shifted the blame for the Jewish revolt from the priests to the prophets in a false account created for War.  

The Essenes were prophets.  Scholars subsequently confused the situation further by calling the writers of the Scrolls, who were priests, Essenes, with an etymology for which there is no Jewish equivalent.  Philo even linked the Essenes' to the Graeco-Roman philosophers. (See pages 24 and 25 of Joan's book).  Philo tells us that Essenes did not sacrifice animals.  Josephus was less explicit.  According to him, the Essenes had 'sacrifices' of their own'.  I suggest those sacrifices were of incense on an altar of incense.  And it wasn't to keep their minds holy, as Philo's editor says (Prob.75), but their spirits pure.    

Philo's Editor a Roman Propagandist  It is clear to me that Philo's Editor was just another Roman propagandist like Josephus. Neither Josephus nor Philo's editor would admit to the existence of prophets. They twisted and obfuscated the meaning of prophets and made them harmless Essenes. The scholars have agreed with them.  They are afraid to question their own belief, whether Christian or Jewish. Josephus or Philo's editor invented the term Essene.  As far as I know, no other Jewish writer used this term.  On line 2 of page 26, Joan implies that all Jews used the term Essene to describe a people that lived among them. This is not true.  There were only two Jews that used the term Essene, Philo's editor and Josephus.     

Joan's Chapter 11 - The Dead Sea Scrolls

A Rapid Deposit
Joan writes on page 302, "With over 4000 Essenes living all over Judea", there would have been hundreds of small libraries."  She was attempting to explain the large number of Scrolls found in the Dead Sea area.  She invites us to believe that these 4000 Essenes were responsible the vast quantity of Scrolls documents, and that Essenes came from all over Judea to dump or hide their precious Scrolls by the Dead sea for no apparent real reason. Naively, she quotes 1QS 6:6 "And where there are ten, they will not lack a man among them who will not study the Law both day and night."  Of course this was the 'Law written down by the priests', but the prophets were interested in the 'the laws of their fathers'.  'The laws of their fathers' were more like recalled traditions which required them, for example, to be out working doing manual work during the day, not staying up day and night. If she wants to play the numbers game, she should think how many priests there were. There were approximately 30,000. They had plenty of time to write and study because they imposed on the people for their sustenance, and it seems begged from the Jewish and Roman authorities with written contracts.  When 1QS 6.6 was written, the priests were living in exile from the temple. From the time of Judas Maccabeus they had no temple duties to bother about.  

She claims (see pages 276 and 277) a strong linkage between natural Caves 1Q-3Q, 6Q and 11Q with the site of Qumran.    This she says was because in these caves, the type of jar used to put the scrolls in was the same type as found in the site itself.  She ignores the fact, as do most Qumranologists including De Vaux, that Qumran was a site for the manufacture of pottery.  When the rebel priests occupied Qumran by force (as they did Masada), they found jars in which they could preserve their Scrolls.  The rebel priests probably knew in advance that pottery was to be found there.  Golb says something similar.  He says that those who wished to hide the scrolls could have asked the locals for help.  (See Golb:Page 30, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls). 

Further she writes on page 277, "We also have a strong linkage of the artificial marl Caves 4Q, 5Q, 7Q-10Q since they lie within the occupation area of the Qumran settlement."  In other words a resident of Qumran would have been well aware of them.  Again the rebels would have been quick to hide their Scrolls in these Caves, particularly if they had filled up others further away..  It seems from her book that the scrolls in these Caves were less secure and were not placed in Jars for preservation.  The rebels probably ran out of time and space and would have used the Caves as a last resort.  

Her comments (pages 276 and 277) are wiped out by the fact that no fragments of the massive number of texts were found in the Qumran site itself.  And as Golb says, in effect, on page 61 of his book, no geographic terminology has been found in the texts that indicate a connection with the site, and even more widely no connection with places of habitation in the Judaean wilderness.  In the 1960's Golb had expected that de Vaux, with his knowledge of the site, would have in some way demonstrated decisively a link between the nearby Caves and the site.  Golb was thinking that perhaps de Vaux and his other workers had found some decisive inscriptional or pottery evidence of such a link.                

According to Golb, more than 500 scribal hands, or copyist's styles (none are original), are represented in the Scrolls found near Qumran. (See page 154 of Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls).  It was from the pool of 30,000 priests that the 500 scribal copyists must have come.  It is highly improbable that 4000 Essenes could have produced 500 people with the necessary scribal skills.  Golb further says, on page 154, that the Scrolls could only have come from libraries in Jerusalem.  They were documents of the priests who had been barred from the temple.  These documents had been collected by Aggripa and stored in his archives.  Those archives were in the citadel, misnamed the Antonia.

Joan attempts to link the scrolls and the caves in which they were kept, to the long term residence of Essenes at Qumran.  Back in 1970, Golb was questioning a number of people including Yigael Yadin and W.F. Albright, saying that "no legal documents were found in Qumran". Golb was referring to the type of documents that any organisation produces in its day to day running.  Albright (a believer in the Essene hypothesis) wrote to Golb, "Essenes must have had very important community documents, such as deeds, leases, wills and official letters to other leaders of the Essene world."  None have ever been found apart from the Copper Scroll, and some seemingly insignificant framents.  This is a big hole in Joan's argument. 

Golb has shown that in a site that contained an Essene community for a long time, as described by Joan in her book, there should have been legal documents which reflect the activity of the movement.  On page 60 of his book, Golb writes:"In 1982, however tiny fragments of what appear to be four or five documentary texts from the caves were published.  Thereafter, small portions of fifteen documents were included among the Photographs of the unpublished texts that appeared in 1991.  These latter texts, as well as they could be understood by 1994, appear to consist of accounts of grain sales, lists of witnesses, and deeds of purchase; there may also be an acknowledgement of debt from the reign of Herod (ruled 37-4 B.C), and an act of ownership dating to the reign of Tiberias Caesar (ruled 14-37 A.D.)  They all reflect the private ownership of goods and property, a fact basically inconsistent with the principles of communal ownership laid down in the Manual of Discipline."  So these documents have no connection with the site of Qumran. But they were taken along with other documents by priests from Jerusalem, and from a particular place (Agrippa's archives in Jerusalem) before they set fire to them (War 2:427).  These documentary texts clearly escaped the fire, probably accidentally in their hurry to bring them over to Qumran.  They are extremely like the sort of texts which Josephus speaks about.  These were about contracts which the 'Sicarri' (had made with their creditors. The 'Sicarri' hoped to avoid having to settle them.  War 2.427: "after which they carried the fire to the place where the archives were deposited, and hurried to burn the contracts belonging to their creditors, and thereby to dissolve their obligations for paying their debts."  Of course Josephus is silent about who owed what to whom, which speaks volumes.  The priests had been disenfranchised from the time of Judas Maccabeus.  No money was coming from the temple.  Immediately before the fire in the archives, the priests burnt the palaces of Agrippa and Bernice (and supposedly the house of Ananias the so-called high priest - no high priest had been appointed since the time of Judas Maccabeus).  Ananias has been brought into the story in preparation for his supposed death with his brother Hezekiah at the hands of the 'Sicarri' whilst hiding in an aqueduct (War 2.441).  The real person hiding was King Agrippa.  The intervening story (War 2.433 to 441) about Menahem the so-called son of Judas the Galilean and the Romans is a fabricated insertion.  In their haste it seems that the rebel priests let some of the contracts slip through the net and they finished up at Qumran. This I believe was along with the vast quantity of Scroll materials from Agrippa's archives. These were not sorted and could have contained all sorts of manuscripts.         

The deposits are so large and randomly distributed among the caves that those storing them must have been overwhelmed by the quantity.  Those who concealed the manuscripts expected at some stage to recover them.  As Joan says, all the manuscripts were not preserved in Jars.  The deposits have all the hallmarks of being done hurriedly.  She struggles to give a reason for hiding these scrolls.  The manuscripts were clearly readable and usable when they were deposited near the Dead Sea.  They came from Agrippa I's archives which the priests set fire to after they murdered him.  Agrippa had gathered up the priests manuscripts from wherever they were produced and kept them under lock and key.  He intended to use the scrolls as evidence. It was also to prevent their messianic message being spread.  In his account (War 2.441), Josephus substituted the name of a so-called high priest Ananias for king Agrippa who in reality, was killed by the priests, after being found hiding in an aqueduct.  At the same time, (see War 2.433), Josephus obfuscates and says 'Judas the Galilean' took 'some men of note' with him and broke into 'King Herod's armoury'.  This was the start of the priests rebellion against the king and the king's forces, with an attack on Masada.  Romans were nowhere in sight. The 'men of note' were priests.  'King Herod's' armoury was king Agrippa's. Judas the Galilean was a substitute, probably for Ananus the son Ananias.             

Rengstorf was nearly right when he said that the Scrolls came from the temple and that they were authored by priests (see pages 161-2, Golb: Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls).  Golb: Rengstorf rightly said that a number of the texts did give prominence to the priests who described themselves as sons of Zadok, unlike Joan, who makes a link between the Essenes and the site of Qumran. In her book, I cannot see any reference to the sons of Zadok or even to priests.  So who does she think wrote the Temple Scroll, if not priests keen on animal sacrifice?  But they were not stored in the temple because that was occupied and controlled by the prophets.  The prophets would have considered them as polluting.   After the death of the king, the priests raided Agrippa's archives, took their Scrolls, and probably a great quantity of other manuscripts.  These included the Copper Scroll, a record of treasure which the priests stole in the time of Judas Maccabeus.     

Archaeological evidence shows that Qumran was destroyed by a Roman army.  Strangely Josephus does not appear to cover this event (Josephus edited Nero's true war record to give the impression that the invasion occurred in another place, ie Jotapata in Galilee. (See my post - The Roman Attack on Judea in the Summer of 66 CE ). In 66 CE, the Roman army, under the command of Nero, attacked the rebel priests, who had occupied Qumran, Machaerus and Masada.  Nero was to take his revenge for the murder of his friends.  

There are only three places where there is archaeological evidence of Roman attacks in Judea during the first century: Qumran, Masada and Machaerus. (There is no such evidence of an attack on Jerusalem.)  The priests had captured these fortresses from their Idumean and Herodian guards. The Roman's took these fortresses simultaneously in the Autumn of 66 CE (see my Post The 'Circumvallation' Wall at Masada).  The Roman strategy was to hit these fortresses hard and take them by storm in a matter of days.         

           

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Christianity, Judaism and Islam are all Fabricated

Jesus did not exist, and never existed, but was invented, as this blog attests. (See my Post
Caiaphas, a Zealot and The Last Messiah - Edited to Jesus and John the Baptist in Ant.18). Christianity is thus wrong.  Muhammad thought Jesus existed, and referred to him on numerous occasions in the Koran as a historical character. Muhammad and thus Islam were wrong. The fabrication of Judaism and Islam is described below.  It is very important to humanity to get hold of this. This applies to all religions.  They are all fabricated by man.  

The Jewish religion is also fabricated and thus wrong. Up to the time of Judas Maccabeus, prophets and priests were co-existing, the priests sacrificing animals and the prophets sacrificing incense, each on their own distinct altars. The law of Moses prevailed with legislation for priests and prophets.  The priests developed a hatred for the prophets saying that they flouted the law.  With the help of Antiochus, the priests tried to impose animal sacrifice on the prophets who rejected it.  Judas, a prophet, but of priestly descent, came along and kicked the priests out of the temple.  The prophets were then in control of the Jewish religion.  The whole law of Moses was no longer applied.  Under the prophets, the spirit of God was considered the cleansing agent.  Then the only sacrifices were of incense in the sanctuary of the temple.  Animal sacrifice ceased after Judas destroyed the altar for burning sacrificed animals.  There were no high priests going into the holy of holies once a year.  Obedience of the law was rejected by the prophets who followed the spirit of God. This situation remained through the time of the Maccabeans and the Herodians.  The priests living in exile from the temple were constantly sniping at the prophets trying to bring back animal sacrifice in a new temple.  

The priests believed that sacrifice of animals was necessary to receive cleansing.  Around 64-65 CE, the priests brought about a civil revolt, killed king Agrippa (I), and raided his archives in THE CITADEL (FALSELY CALLED THE ANTONIA) to get their Scrolls.  They then set fire to the archives, and took their Scrolls in a mad scramble to deposit them in caves in the Judean desert.  They occupied at least three Herodian fortresses.  These included Qumran, Machaerus and Masada.  With a rapidly deteriorating situation, Nero gathered a large army, sailed for Judea, and defeated the rebellious priests in 66 CE.

The time of 66 to 71/72 was a period of peace.  The sure signs of peace were that marriages were arranged, land was bought and sold, and coins were minted celebrating the freedom granted to Judea by Nero.  This time has been dubbed the five years of the revolt. The priests were kept imprisoned by the roman garrison left by Nero. The temple was still standing with all its wealth and it continued to be occupied by the prophets. Vespasian, one of Nero's generals, was waiting to see what would happen with the changes of Roman emperors. He had his own plans to rise to the top.     
He released the priests from prison, and together with the Roman soldiery in Jerusalem eliminated many of prophets and took more than 800 captive.  Vespasian was after the wealth of the temple to fund his army and later building projects. The prophets were defeated, the temple taken and its gold treasures stolen.  Then the temple was torched.  Its design was such that it burned like a furnace.  

The priests were not allowed to return to their old ways.  In exchange for their freedom, they had to re-write their religion. Priests became law abiding rabbis.  One priest, Josephus working for the Romans, edited Antiquities, an existing history of the Jews up to the time of Agrippa I, and pretended that he was supposedly the original author.  The Romans also got Josephus to write a fabricated and glamorised version of the so-called war of the Jews against the Romans.  

Jesus and Islam are both literary creations

Christian and Muslim scholars have not been honest.  They know that Jesus and the Koran are literary creations with no foundations in reality.   They are responsible for not telling the world that this is so.  They and their predecessors have fabricated their religions.  Christian and Muslim leaders bear the heavy responsibility for bringing a great deal of misery, destruction and death on mankind.   But there is a totally peaceful and logical way forward. The truth is there in the printed words of the writings attributed to Josephus, and the Koran.   There is no need to get bogged down in evolutionary atheistic arguments as does the Oxford professor Richard Dawkins, but I agree with him .   Alister McGrath clashes with Dawkins and describes Dawkins as deluded.  McGrath is supposed to be a christian theologian, priest, historian, apologist and scientist.  He is also a professor at Oxford.  If he is a historian, I have to wonder if he has studied the writings attributed Josephus.  After all, most theologians are obliged to quote from these writings at some time in their career, even though they are unsure of Josephus's writings, and hesitate to quote him.  

So Muslim and Christian theologians beware!!  You believe in false god's.       

I have already proved that there was no historical Jesus, and that Jesus was therefore not real.  Briefly, Jesus was constructed from an important priest called Caiaphas, a zealot and a messiah.   (See the whole argument here:  http://raphaelgolb.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03 There I  reconstruct the testimony to Jesus in the writings attributed to Josephus as follows (Antiquities 18.3.3):  

Now there was about this time [Jesus] {Caiaphas}, [a wise] {an evil} [man] {priest}, if it be lawful to call him a [man] {priest}; for he was a doer of [wonderful] {wicked} works, a teacher of such men as receive the [truth] {a lie} with pleasure. He drew over to him [both] many of the [Jews] {priests} [and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ]. And when [Pilate] {Aristobulus I}, at the suggestion of the [principal men] {prophets} among us, had condemned him, to [the cross] {death}, those that [loved] {followed} him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them [alive again the third day] {as a Messiah}, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other [wonderful] {wicked} things concerning him.  And the [tribe] {sons} of [Christians] {Zadok}, so [named from him] {called}, are not extinct at this day.

I think you will all agree that the original sense of the text was more or less as I have written it in curly brackets. The Jewish law would hardly have called into question whether or not we should call him a "man". The non-descript "man" has been substituted for priest. The 'man' was a priest. The Jewish law held that a priest should behave in a certain manner towards people. There would be no need to say that this man taught other men "as receive the truth with PLEASURE". This priest taught other men who receive a lie with pleasure. "He drew over to him such men", as a villain does. He was a "doer of wicked works". And he was condemned to death, by a king.  Caiaphas was executed by a king, Aristobulus, the son of Herod.

The original text of Antiquities, as I have explained above, applied to Caiaphus who was considered a villain by the writer. I suggest that it was the priest Josephus who edited the original Antiquities and changed the text to invent Jesus. The original Antiquities was written before War and before the extant Antiquities. The original was written by a prophet (probably James), one of many prophets who were persecuted by the priests.  There is no context for the extant Testimonium.   The rebel priest Caiaphas is in context.

Islam teaches that Jesus was real.  The Koran talks about Jesus as though he was real, referring to Jesus in a large number of verses. It teaches that Jesus was born to a virgin, was sinless, performed miracles, and was superior to other prophets. It also teaches that Jesus was no more than a prophet, was not divine, was not crucified as a sacrifice for sins, and was not resurrected. The Koran is false because Jesus has never existed. References to Jesus in the Koran therefore invalidate Islam.  Muhammed was thus a false prophet.

Some of the References to Jesus in the Koran:


2:87 We gave Jesus the son of Mary Clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit.

2:136 We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them . . .

2:253 . . . To Jesus the son of Mary We gave clear (Signs), and strengthened him with the holy spirit.

3:45 O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah.

3:46 "He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be (of the company) of the righteous."

3:48 And Allah will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel.

3:49 And (appoint him) a messenger to the Children of Israel, (with this message): "I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah's leave: And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by Allah's leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe."

3:50 (I have come to you), to attest the Law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was (Before) forbidden to you; I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear Allah, and obey me.

3:52 When Jesus found Unbelief on their part He said: "Who will be My helpers to (the work of) Allah?"

3:55 Behold! Allah said: "O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute."

3:59 The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam . . .

3:84 . . . and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord.

4:157 That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";-but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not.

4:163 We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: we sent inspiration to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms.

4:171 O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not "Trinity": desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth.

4:172 Christ disdaineth nor to serve and worship Allah . . .

5:17 In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary.

5:46 And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah.

5:72 They do blaspheme who say: "Allah is Christ the son of Mary." But said Christ: "O Children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord." Whoever joins other gods with Allah,- Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode.

5:75 Christ the son of Mary was no more than a messenger; many were the messengers that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food.

5:78 Curses were pronounced on those among the Children of Israel who rejected Faith, by the tongue of David and of Jesus the son of Mary: because they disobeyed and persisted in excesses.

5:110 O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount My favour to thee and to thy mother. Behold! I strengthened thee with the holy spirit, so that thou didst speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. Behold! I taught thee the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel and behold! thou makest out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and thou breathest into it and it becometh a bird by My leave, and thou healest those born blind, and the lepers, by My leave. And behold! thou bringest forth the dead by My leave. And behold! I did restrain the Children of Israel from (violence to) thee when thou didst show them the clear Signs, and the unbelievers among them said: 'This is nothing but evident magic.'

5:112 Behold! the disciples, said: "O Jesus the son of Mary! can thy Lord send down to us a table set (with viands) from heaven?" Said Jesus: "Fear Allah, if ye have faith."

5:114 Said Jesus the son of Mary: "O Allah our Lord! Send us from heaven a table set (with viands), that there may be for us-for the first and the last of us-a solemn festival and a sign from thee; and provide for our sustenance, for thou art the best Sustainer (of our needs)."

5:116 Allah will say: "O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah'?" He will say: "Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart . . ."

6:85 And Zakariya and John, and Jesus and Elias: all in the ranks of the righteous.

9:30 The Jews call 'Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah.

9:31 They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One Allah: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him).

19:19 He said: "Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son."

19:20 She said: "How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?"

19:21 He said: "So (it will be): Thy Lord saith, 'that is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us': It is a matter (so) decreed."

19:22 So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place.

19:27 At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said: "O Mary! truly an amazing thing hast thou brought!"

19:30 He said: "I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet."

19:31 "And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live."

19:32 "(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable."

19:33 "So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)!"

19:34 Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute.

19:88 They say: "(Allah) Most Gracious has begotten a son!"

19:91 That they should invoke a son for (Allah) Most Gracious.

19:92 For it is not consonant with the majesty of (Allah) Most Gracious that He should beget a son.

21:91 And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for all peoples.

23:50 And We made the son of Mary and his mother as a Sign: We gave them both shelter on high ground, affording rest and security and furnished with springs.

33:7 And remember We took from the prophets their covenant: As (We did) from thee: from Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus the son of Mary: We took from them a solemn covenant.

42:13 The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah-the which We have sent by inspiration to thee-and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: Namely, that ye should remain steadfast in religion, and make no divisions therein: to those who worship other things than Allah, hard is the (way) to which thou callest them. Allah chooses to Himself those whom He pleases, and guides to Himself those who turn (to Him).

43:57 When (Jesus) the son of Mary is held up as an example, behold, thy people raise a clamour thereat (in ridicule)!

43:61 And (Jesus) shall be a Sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of Judgment): therefore have no doubt about the (Hour), but follow ye Me: this is a Straight Way.

43:63 When Jesus came with Clear Signs, he said: "Now have I come to you with Wisdom, and in order to make clear to you some of the (points) on which ye dispute: therefore fear Allah and obey me."

57:27 We sent after them Jesus the son of Mary, and bestowed on him the Gospel; and We ordained in the hearts of those who followed him Compassion and Mercy . . .

61:6 And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: "O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad." But when he came to them with Clear Signs, they said, "this is evident sorcery!"

61:14 O ye who believe! Be ye helpers of Allah: As said Jesus the son of Mary to the Disciples, "Who will be my helpers to (the work of) Allah?" Said the disciples, "We are Allah's helpers!" then a portion of the Children of Israel believed, and a portion disbelieved: But We gave power to those who believed, against their enemies, and they became the ones that prevailed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Copper Scroll - Archaeological Evidence for the Jewish Priests being Kicked out of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus

Antiochus Robs the Temple (A First Fabricated Attack)

"On his return from the conquest of Egypt in the year 143 (that is 169 B.C.), Antiochus marched with a strong force against Israel and Jerusalem.  In his arrogance he entered the temple and carried off the golden altar, the lamp-stand with all its equipment, the table for the bread of the presence, the sacred cups and bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, and the crowns.  He stripped off all the gold plating from the temple front.  He seized the silver, gold and precious vessels, and whatever secret treasures he found, and took them all with him when he left for his own country.  He had caused much bloodshed, and he gloated over all he had done."  (I Mac. 1:20-24).

The parallel story in Antiquities 12:246 and 247 is revealing.  "King Antiochus returning out of Egypt for fear of the Romans, made an expedition against the city Jerusalem; and when he was there, in the hundred and forty-third year of his the kingdom of the Seleucids, he took the city without fighting, those of his own party party opening the gates to him.  And when he had got possession of Jerusalem, he killed many of the opposite party; and when he had plundered it of a great deal of money, he returned to Antioch."  

On page 25 of his commentary on Maccabees, Barclay contradicts the above passage in I Mac.  He says "there was NO bloodshed in Jerusalem on this occasion".  Perhaps he says this because the passage in Antiquities says that he took the city without fighting.   The short passage gives no reason for Antiochus's attack.  Also Antiochus has apparently attacked Jerusalem immediately after a supposed conquest of Egypt. (Ant.12.244).  In fact he had actually been driven out of Egypt after defeat by Ptolemy's forces at Alexandria.  His withdrawal because of a supposed declaration of the Romans (Ant.12.244) and out of fear of the Romans (Ant.12.246) was later anti-Greek Roman propaganda.  After a defeat, any attack on Jerusalem seems extremely unlikely. Then according I Mac.1.24, he simply left for his own country, and that without saying a word to the priests who were to later appeal for his help.  This passage absolutely smacks of fabrication.

According to Antiquities (12.248), two years later Antiochus is said to have come again. This was obviously the first time that Antiochus came to Jerusalem.  At the request of the priests he came to help them impose animal sacrifice on the prophets.  He was let into Jerusalem by the priests ('those of his own party' who believed in animal sacrifice).   No doubt, that was the time that Antoiochus killed many of the opposite party, the prophets.  This was also the time that the Maccabeans his sons rebelled.  

suggest that it was the priests who took all of these treasures referred to in the first paragraph, at a time when they knew that the Maccabeans (Mattathias, Judas and siblings) were coming to kick them out of the temple.  And it was the priests who wrote the copper scroll saying where they had buried the treasure.  Thus Josephus (a priest) and Roman historians created the story and blamed Antiochus for stealing the Temple treasure.  The priests were thus seen as innocent.

The Migdal Stone - Archaeological Evidence for the Prophets Rejection of the Law at the time of Judas Maccabeus

The Migdal Stone (Found in a Synagogue in Magdala, Gallilee)

The tradition of burning incense away from the temple has its origin in the reign of Antiochus. Antiochus wanted to unify worship across his dominions so that everyone should only offer sacrifice of animals.  This was in agreement with his friends, the Jewish priests who were at loggerheads with the prophets. Antiochus's command to Mattathias was to not offer burning of incense.  "Worship of God" (Ant.12.6.2) was what the prophets did in the sanctuary at the altar of incense. This altar was removed by Antiochus with the co-operation of the priests.  The prophets having lost their altar in the sanctuary, resorted to burning incense in every town of Judea on temporary altars - they refused to give up the "worship of God". The propaganda of 1 Maccabees 1.54 calls them idol altars which were supposedly established by Antiochus's forces. They were altars of incense, not idol altars.

In Mac. 1:54, who was offering incense at the doors of houses, throughout the towns of Judea, if it wasn't Jews? Isn't this like the Jews watching the burning of incense at the opening of the sanctuary, during a festival.  They were also offering incense in the streets.  You have to credit these people with an advanced sense of God's presence everywhere.

There were supposed to be no Jews living in Magdala until the end of the second century BCE. Antiochus's persecution began in approximately 167 BCE. This led to many Jews being scattered. The current migrant crisis is a reminder of what persecuted communities do.   There is every possibility that a Jewish community established itself in Magdala shortly after 167 BCE. Mattathias taught his people to defend themselves, whereas they had been reluctant to do so.

The stone was easily transportable. A rough estimate from drawings is that the stone has dimensions of about 50 x 50 cm at the top and a height of 40 cm. Such a stone could have been made well before the synagogue was built.  Also it could have been hidden easily from Antiochus's troops. They had, in effect, a portable sanctuary - an altar with all the markings that represented the sanctuary.

The Migdal stone was all about the sanctuary, not the Temple as a whole. The symbols on the stone show no connection with animal sacrifices.  Animals were sacrificed outside the sanctuary.  The relation between the symbols and the sanctuary proper is very strong.  Some scholars think that the stone was an altar of incense. Was it one of the "idol" altars of 1 Maccabees?

At the dished top of the Migdal stone are two "palm trees".  They are probably symbols of Israels fruitfulness.  Also at the top is a symbol of an incense flower, linking the Stone to an incense altar.  The side views represent the curtains of the sanctuary.  They divide the sanctuary into its two compartments, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The two circular objects I take, were at one end of the Holy Place. If they are at one end of the Holy Place (it is difficult to tell from drawings at which end of the stone these circular shapes are) then I have to assume they were something to do with the sanctuary worship. Given the serious symbolism on the stone I doubt that the two circles were symbolic of the more mundane rings for transportation. (See the text below on Jesus and the Temple by James Charlesworth).  

1 Mac. 1:56 following on has: "All scrolls of the law which were found were torn up and burnt." This further propaganda would have us believe that Antiochus's forces did this. I suggest that Antiochus's forces were not responsible for tearing up the books of the law.  Mattathias's community were the culprits. This was a final break-up of the Jewish nation into two parties, essentially the priests and the prophets. The priests mocked and scorned the prophets greatly in their peshers of the Scrolls. Mattathias's community reacted, came to reject the law, and tore up the scrolls of the law, basically the Pentateuch.

The priests had approached Antiochus for his help in putting down the prophetic community who they regarded as "seekers of smooth things". The priests with Antiochus's troops put to death women their babies and their families. The propaganda has it that these people were fulfilling the law. They welcomed death. Does this remind you of Josephus's "Essenes". Essenes do not exist anywhere in the Scrolls. In Josephus they have been interpolated artificially back in time.  I suggest it was for disobeying the law established by the priests that people were put to death. 

Jesus and the Temple (Edited by 
James Charlesworth)

In chapter 5 of Jesus and Temple. Mordechai Aviam makes some very interesting observations on ritual bathing, stone vessels, clay oil lamps, synagogues, the Migdal stone and its interpretation, and the Gamla coin. "The earliest synagogues dated so far are the first phase of the synagogue at Modin, which is dated to the Hasmonean period, and the synagogue at the Royal Hasmonean palace in Jericho." (See Chap.5, page 131).  

All his comments seem to me to be about prophets and what prophets were interested in, which was purity of spirit and worship in the Spirit. 

Aviam links the two “palm trees” on the top of the dished Migdal stone to two rakes. He says that these were used to rake the ash and burnt bones from the main altar. But the “palm trees” would be useless for raking large animal bones.  The depiction of rakes seems mundane and of no deep significance compared to the rest of the imagery. The two "palm trees" were symbolic of actual palm trees; they were symbols of Israel's fruitfulness.   I suggest that the Migdal stone was all about the sanctuary and the altar of incense which was kept burning 24 hours a day.  The rose shaped symbol also on the dished top of the stone, was symbolic of the incense flower. Aviam says (See Fig. 5.6 on page 134)  that the "two rings"  symbolised at the end of each long side are two containers that held fresh incense to replenish that burnt on the altar. 

On page 125, Aviam says that the main reason for the creation of mikvaot was “the establishment of a powerful, aggressive and expanding Jewish kingdom, creating an enlarged territory that should be populated in a short period of time with new Jewish villages and towns.” This period started with the Maccabean-Hasmonean revolt.  He doesn't say why the revolt started?  In fact he doesn't even talk about the Maccabean-Hasmonean revolt, as though the mikveh were nothing to do with it. This was the start of a period of revolution, a pivotal and seismic moment for Jewish beliefs which became fundamentally prophetic.   

On page 125, Aviam admits "I am convinced that ... there were religious, social and cultural components in the creation of mikvaot".  But he sees this as being just a development in Judaism for Jews in general and not a drastic change in religious belief brought about by a particular group.  He doesn't ask the question, why did the mikvaot die out?  On the same page, Aviam describes the mikveh as a “portable purification installation". Anyone could immerse in a mikveh and be reckoned pure, and Jewish.  This was without the involvement of priests and animal sacrifices. Mikveh were everywhere.  The mikveh could not easily be removed.  In support Aviam cites Baumgarten and Cohn.  He says " both Joseph Baumgarten and Steve Cohn have suggested that many religious traditions and customs were first established during the Hasmonean reign".  But the so-called 'religious traditions' and 'customs' were radical changes in the beliefs of most Jews at the time.  

The mikveh at the fortress of Qumran were used by the Hasmonean and Herodian soldiers who had kept guard. Qumran was captured by priests for a short time around 65 CE when they revolted. These priests would not have been at all interested in the mikvaot.  They would not have used the mikvaot because they believed that only animal sacrifice could make people pure.   The same is true of all the other mikveh found at other fortresses such as Masada or the Mikveh found at the Hasmonean palace at Jericho.  Mikvaot would have been used by Hasmoneans who followed the philosophy of Judas Maccabeus.  On page 124, Aviam says "the mikveh at Queen Naphtali (see Fig.5.1) has a special importance as it is not in a private home or a rich palace but in a military structure that was used only by soldiers".  So who does he think used the mikvaot at Qumran and Masada if not soldiers?   

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Source of Christianity - Judas Maccabeus (And why Judas was made the betrayer of Jesus)


Introduction


Mattathias and his son Judas Maccabeus came on the scene at a critical turning point in Judean history and belief.  They changed dramatically what it meant to be a Jew, turning the very meaning of what it meant to be cleansed before God upside down.  This change in religion resulted in a number of events.  The Jewish kingdom was enlarged in a powerful militaristic way, and new Jewish villages and towns were populated in an enlarged territory in a short space of time.  Jewish stones (altars) like the Migdal Stone appeared as did the more frequently observed Jewish Mikvaot and Synagogues.  The principal cause was the change in religious philosophy.  

Some of the words in the above I owe to Mordechai Aviam (writing in Chapter 5 of Jesus and Temple edited by James Charlesworth). But I think Aviam was fundamentally wrong.    

Antiochus was Defeated when He Attacked Alexandria in Egypt

Antiochus Epihanes wanted to be king of Egypt as well as Syria.  1 Mac. 1.17-19: "He assembled a powerful force of chariots, elephants, and cavalry, and a great fleet, and invaded Egypt.  When battle was joined, Ptolemy king of Egypt was seized with panic and took to flight, leaving many dead.  The fortified towns were captured and the land pillaged." Then very strangely, there is no consolidation of his apparent victory.   

1 Mac.20,21 continues: "On his return from the conquest of Egypt, in the year 143, Antiochus marched with a strong force against Israel and Jerusalem.  In his arrogance, he entered the temple (actually the sanctuary) and carried off the golden altar, the lamp-stand with all its equipment, the table for the Bread of the Presence, the sacred cups and bowls, the golden censers, the curtain and the crowns.  He stripped off all the gold plating from the temple front.  He seized the silver, gold, and precious vessels, and whatever secret treasures he found, and took them all with him when he left for his own country.  He had caused much bloodshed, and he gloated over all he had done."   

The writer of 1 Mac. does not give a reason for Antiochus's attack, nor details of those he had killed.  The reader is left to assume that Antiochus's motive was purely greed.  But was it?  Was there something else going on?  I suggest there was no attack. The above text was taken from a later account.  The priests came under threat by Judas Maccabeus and were kicked out of the temple.  Knowing what Judas would do, they took what they could and buried it in various places as recorded in the extant Copper Scroll.    

Antiochus Turns on the Prophets in Jerusalem

According to the protestant Old Testament text, Daniel 11.31 has: "His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation."  

The Scrolls version of Daniel 11.31 has: "Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and and shall do away with the continual burnt offering; and they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate." 

The Scrolls version makes no mention of sacrifice, but does refer to continual burnt offering. The continual burnt offering was the burning of incense by the prophets on the altar of incense in the sanctuary.  This was not a daily sacrifice but a continual 24 hour offering. The smoke that came up from the fire was thought of as God's constant presence.  Here the Scrolls version is closer to original Daniel.  The protestant Old Testament text has been tampered with.  Antiochus abolished the altar of incense. He tried to abolish the prophets but did not succeed. 

The Septuagint version of Daniel 11:31 is revealing.  It has: "And seeds shall spring up out of him, and they shall profane the sanctuary, and they shall remove the perpetual sacrifice, and make the abomination desolate."  Here Antiochus's target of profanation is not the temple fortress nor the temple and fortress, but the location of the altar of incense, the sanctuary.  But we have the perpetual "sacrifice".  According to Josephus, the 'Essenes', really the prophets, had their own 'sacrifices'.  Well we know what they were.  They were sacrifices or offerings on the altar of incense.        

Judas restored the Altar of Incense

(1)The Account in Josephus (12.7.6)

"When therefore, he had carefully purged it, and had brought in new vessels, the candlestick, the table [of shew-bread,] and the altar [of incense,] which were made of gold, he hung up the veils at the gates, and added doors to them.  He also took down the altar [of burnt offering,] and built a new one of stones that he gathered together, and not of such as hewn with iron tools." 

The square brackets are not mine; they are in Josephus. 

(2)The Account in I Maccabees (4:41-50)

"He selected priests without blemish, devoted to the law, and they purified the temple, removing to an unclean place the stones which defiled it.  They discussed what to do with the altar of burnt-offering, which was profaned, and rightly decided to demolish it, for fear it might become a standing reproach to them because it had been defiled by the Gentiles. They therefore pulled down the altar, and stored away the stones in a fitting place on the temple hill, until a prophet should arise who could be consulted about them. They took unhewn stones, as the law commands, and built a new altar on the model of the previous one. They rebuilt the temple and restored its interior, and consecrated the temple courts. They renewed the sacred vessels and the lamp-stand, and brought the altar of incense and the table into the temple. They burnt incense on the altar and lit the lamps on the lamp-stand to shine within the Temple. When they had put the Bread of Presence on the table and hung the curtains, all their work was completed."


I Maccabees 4.46 has: “They therefore pulled down the altar, and stored away the stones in a fitting place on the temple hill, until a prophet should arise who could be consulted about them.”  Why should they have "stored away" the stones of the altar for the future when they were supposed to be polluting?  Why should the writer expect that a prophet might "arise" later and “be consulted” about the stones?  A prophet would have had no interest in these rejected impure “stones” of the altar.  The stones were 'impure' because the priests had burned sacrificed animals on them.  Judas simply got rid of the altar for sacrificing animals.

Judas is is supposed to have detailed his troops to engage those in the citadel adjoining the temple.  This is a fiction.  Any Syrian soldiers and priests must have fled well before Judas's arrival.  Judas would have detailed his soldiers to remove the altar upon which animals had been sacrificed.  This would have been done first as in 1 Maccabees. (In Josephus's shorter account, the altar for sacrifice of animals is removed second, after the new altar of incense has been brought into the sanctuary.)  Thus there were no priests to remove the altar used for sacrifice of animals.   Talk of a prophet arising later is pure propaganda.   Judas and his family were prophets or priests converted to prophets.  And why would a prophet want to consult the unhewn stones which were considered impure.  I suggest that the “stones” alluded to were the ones from the high priests breastplate which the prophets would have “consulted”. The prophets were alive and kicking and not dying out.   

Emphasis on the Law is Later Propaganda (1 Mac.4.41-54)

Mention of "priests without blemish, devoted to the law" (1 Mac.4.42) is the propaganda of later first century Jewish writers.  The propaganda includes phrases like: "They took unhewn stones as the law commands" (1 Mac.4.47); "sacrifice was offered as the law commands" (1 Mac.4.53).  Within the space of 10 or 11 verses we are greeted with an over-emphasis on the law.  The writer or editor wanted to create the impression that this was all done according to the Law.  The whole passage is permeated with propaganda.  

The Copper Scroll - Archaeological Evidence for the Jewish Priests being Kicked out of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus 



The Migdal Stone (Found in a Synagogue in Magdala, Gallilee)

The tradition of burning incense away from the temple has its origin in the reign of Antiochus. Antiochus wanted to unify worship across his dominions so that everyone should only offer sacrifice of animals.  This was in agreement with his friends, the Jewish priests who were at loggerheads with the prophets. Antiochus's command to Mattathias was to not offer burning of incense.  "Worship of God" (Ant.12.6.2) was what the prophets did in the sanctuary at the altar of incense. This altar was removed by Antiochus with the co-operation of the priests.  The prophets having lost their altar in the sanctuary, resorted to burning incense in every town of Judea on temporary altars - they refused to give up the "worship of God". The propaganda of 1 Maccabees 1.54 calls them idol altars which were supposedly established by Antiochus's forces. They were altars of incense, not idol altars.

In Mac. 1:54, who was offering incense at the doors of houses, throughout the towns of Judea, if it wasn't Jews? Isn't this like the Jews watching the burning of incense at the opening of the sanctuary, during a festival.  They were also offering incense in the streets.  You have to credit these people with an advanced sense of God's presence everywhere.

There were supposed to be no Jews living in Magdala until the end of the second century BCE. Antiochus's persecution began in approximately 167 BCE. This led to many Jews being scattered. The current migrant crisis is a reminder of what persecuted communities do.   There is every possibility that a Jewish community established itself in Magdala shortly after 167 BCE. Mattathias taught his people to defend themselves, whereas they had been reluctant to do so.

The stone was easily transportable. A rough estimate from drawings is that the stone has dimensions of about 50 x 50 cm at the top and a height of 40 cm. Such a stone could have been made well before the synagogue was built and brought from elsewhere.  Also it could have been hidden easily from Antiochus's troops. They had, in effect, a portable sanctuary - an altar with all the markings that represented the sanctuary.

The Magdala stone was all about the sanctuary, not the Temple as a whole. The symbols on the stone show no connection with animal sacrifices.  Animals were sacrificed outside the sanctuary.  The relation between the symbols and the sanctuary proper is very strong.  Some scholars think that the stone was an altar of incense. Was it one of the "idol" altars of 1 Maccabees?

At the top are two palm trees.  The side views represent the curtains of the sanctuary,
They divide the sanctuary into its two compartments, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The two circular objects which I take are at one end of the Holy Place. If they are at one end of the Holy Place (it is difficult to tell from drawings at which end of the stone these circular shapes are) then I have to assume they were something to do with the sanctuary worship. Given the serious symbolism on the stone I doubt that the two circles were symbolic of the more mundane rings for transportation.

1 Mac. 1:56 following on has: "All scrolls of the law which were found were torn up and burnt." This further propaganda would have us believe that Antiochus's forces did this. I suggest that Antiochus's forces were not responsible for tearing up the books of the law.  Mattathias's community were the culprits. This was a final break-up of the Jewish nation into two parties, essentially the priests and the prophets. The priests mocked and scorned the prophets greatly in their peshers of the Scrolls. Mattathias's community reacted, came to reject the law, and tore up the scrolls of the law, basically the Pentateuch.


The priests had approached Antiochus for his help in putting down the prophetic community who they regarded as "seekers of smooth things". The priests with Antiochus's troops put to death women their babies and their families. The propaganda has it for fulfilling the law. They welcomed death. Does this remind you of Josephus's "Essenes".  Essenes do not exist anywhere in the Scrolls. In Josephus they have been interpolated artificially back in time.



Daniel

Daniel is written as though it predicts the events it describes.  Of course we know in reality that it didn't.  According to page 482 of the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible by Abegg, Flint and Ulrich, Daniel was written in about 165 BCE, which was after those events.  And the eight scrolls of Daniel found in the Judean desert at Qumran were copies made in times from 125 BCE to 50 CE.  These scrolls are written partially in Hebrew and partially in Aramaic, attesting (according to Abegg et al) to the lateness of the writing. 

I suggest that scriptures were being written by prophets after the date of approximately 165 BCE, the exact time of the rise of the Maccabeans.  At this time, the prophets were considered by the priests (in the Scrolls) as "seekers of smooth things".  The situation between priests and prophets had rapidly deteriorated. The priests were thrown out of the temple by Judas a supporter of the prophets.  Animal sacrifice was abolished by Judas.  The priests were living in towns and villages away from Jerusalem and the temple.  They thought of themselves as being outcasts and were akin to the modern day Taliban believing in violence. The priests would have naturally rejected any scripture originated by the prophets. The prophets were then occupying the temple, worshipping God at the altar of incense, and "in" with their Hasmonean rulers.  They would have continued writing scripture in opposition to the priests, just as the priests opposed the prophets in the Scrolls originated in Jerusalem and found in the Judean desert and at Qumran.  

So, why at the precise time of Judas did prophecy apparently cease so that no scriptures were produced?  It was all to do with later Roman and Jewish propaganda produced later between 70 CE and 200 CE approximately.  

During the first century the prophets were hunted down by Vespasian.  800 or so prophets were taken to Rome for his triumph.  The rest were pursued mercilessly.  The killing was later attributed to Nero who was supposed to have persecuted 'christians'.  It was the Flavians who persecuted the CHRISTIANOS - latin for the anointed ones, or the prophets, many of whom had moved to Italy. The scriptures the prophets had written were taken by Vespasian's forces under Titus from the temple.  The prophets had defended the temple.  It was overcome by Titus who stripped it of all its gold to establish the Flavian dynasty.  Attacking temples was unknown among the Romans up to that time.

I Maccabees is biased against prophets.  Chapter 9:27 has: "It was a time of great affliction for Israel, worse than any since the day when prophets ceased to appear among them." Prophets are mentioned deliberately in Maccabees as though they ceased to exist around the time of 165 BC.

I Maccabees 9.54-56 has: "In the second month of the year 153, Alcimus gave orders for the wall of the inner court of the temple to be demolished, thereby destroying the work of the prophets. But at the moment when he began the demolition, Alcimus had a stroke, which put a stop to his activities.  Paralysed, and with his speech impaired, he could not utter a word or give final instructions about his property.  Thus he died in great torment."  

Here the prophets are in existence, but the editor creates a possible cause for their decline, when really this was a clash between the pro Syrian high priest Alcimus (with his fellow priests and troops), and the prophets. The prophets had built a wall to keep Alcimus and his troops, and Bacchides and his troops, out of Jerusalem.  Alcimus's 'stroke' at the 'moment he began the demolition' was more than likely wounds he received from the prophets as a result of the battle. Alcimus's intention was to "destroy the work of the prophets".  But Alcimus had his 'stroke' when he began his demolition of the wall, so he didn't succeed in destroying the wall.  The prophets had the victory.  9.57 has "On learning that Alcimus was dead, Bacchides returned to the king, and for two years Judea had peace."  Bacchides was Antiochus's general who retreated to Syria presumably with his troops, proof that the prophets had won the day.  The battle over the wall was a much bigger affair than portrayed. 

The prophets hated animal sacrifice.  It was Alcimus's intention to destroy the prophets with Antiochus's help.  Antiochus was pro animal sacrifice.  He intended to help the priests by keeping the altar for burnt offerings of animals and to seek vengeance on the prophets. Antiochus and the priests began a persecution of the prophets. 

When Judas with his relatives had fully defeated the priests and Antiochus's armies he came to purge the temple of the impure altar for burnt offerings.  The altar was demolished and thrown away on a rubbish tip. This was all blamed by later Jewish and Roman writers post 70 CE on Antiochus's persecution of the Jews.  Judas, according to the priests who wrote the Scrolls found in the Judean desert, was a wicked priest .   Later writers (1 Maccabees and Josephus) changed him to a national hero and rehabilitated him as a heroic priest. The post 70 CE priests (Josephus being one of them) in conjunction with their then Roman friends wanted to remove all trace of prophets after 165 BCE from their history.  Judas as a betrayer of Jewish priests was preserved in another story as the one who betrayed Jesus.

  by taking the golden altar of incense used by the prophets out of the temple.  This altar was kept alight all the time.  It was the later removal of the altar of incense (the altar of the presence of God) that became the Abomination of Desolation to the original author of Daniel, a prophet.