Welcome! Jesus Christ is my LORD and Savior! Romans 10:9-10,13; John 3:16

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Thank you for coming.
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In the Year of our LORD Jesus Christ
2017
-- As of January 20, 2017
A Sigh Of Relief With The Inauguration Of Donald John Trump as President of the United States of America, And Hope For A Prosperous Future For All United States Citizens (we who are a nation called "the melting pot of the world"). We shall be great and exceptionally great again.




Peace and Liberty. Semper Fidelis.





Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Generalized Bible Study Lecture: First And Second Century A.D.(And Beyond) Jewish Traditions Of Men Sometimes Act As A Block Toa Trusting Faith Into Messiah Yeshua / Christ Jesus



    ( I start this  generalized / simplified and broad  lecture with a side note that: A general knowledge and acquaitance with the Bible, the histories of Josephus, and the Babylonian Talmud may be required for some readers.).  


       For those of us who are born-again Christians, and having a desire to learn and grow more in the trusting Faith which Christianity in its purest form embraces,  I personally believe that it is important that we understand the legalistic mind-set of the First Century Jew, and such practices as they exercised which were also among the Christians in the First and Second centuries A.D., because these were primarily Jewish Synagogue oriented in their origins.  The first Christians were all Israelites, and later the tribes of Israel were usurped in name and relabeled by the Judean sect of the Pharisees as "Jews" or "all Jewish" by decree, as they asserted their demand of authoritative dominance on the other 10 tribes outside that of the Judean tribes of Judah, Levi, and Benjamin.  The Early Christian writers often use language and practices most familiar to that of the synagogue, and such an understanding is useful in the study and deeper understanding of New Testament Scripture.  


The Epistle to Diognetus informs us:
   "I do not speak of things strange to me, nor do I aim
    at anything inconsistent, with right reason;   but, having
    been  a disciple of the Apostles, I am become a Teacher
    of the Gentiles.  I minister the things delivered to me to
    those that are disciples worthy of the Truth.
        …the fear of the Law is chanted, and the grace of
        the Prophets is known, and the Faith of the Gospels is
 established, and the Tradition of the Apostles is preserved,
 and the Grace of the Church exults…."
                                        (The Epistle to Diognetus, .11)

     
The chanting of the Law is a practice found among the Synagogues.  The Christians often attended the Synagogues in their first decades of evangelism and development.  For a few decades, the Christian and Jew may have worshipped almost peaceably together.  The separation of Early Christians from the Synagogue was tragic, and it was forced into a reality specifically by Jewish persecution and murder of those who were Christians, as they cast them out of synagogues and cities by various means of religious and political persecutions.  This aspect of Jewish history, which led to later reverse persecutions of “Christian Institutions” against the Jewish people, is lost on Jewish apologists.  Had not the Jewish zealots persecuted and killed so many Christians in the First Centuries, the Spanish Inquisition and other reverse persecutions either might never have happened, or in a worse case scenario, might never have reached the severity, which they did. 


     Interestingly absent in most Bible Study discussions among many Protestant denominations is the hostility of Jews toward Christians and Christianity, and a special vicious hatred of Jesus / Yeshua as the Messiah in the Talmud, when virtually every false Jewish Messiah is spoken of with pride or apathy, but with Jesus, it is as if atheist possessed by demons demanding that even the mention of GOD is inhumane torture or affliction to their ears, minds, and souls.  By example, in 1631, the rabbinical councils in Poland sent forth a letter to other Jews to consider excising their Talmuds from any mention of Jesus, to avoid “Christian persecutions” of them.  In spite of the admonitions, those references survived, and by the grace of GOD, the persecutions began to lessen in severity anyway.  Modern writers claim such Talmudist references never existed, but the records and references of those who lived in these times of antiquity prove otherwise. 

         In spite of such trespasses against Christ, we need to remember the words of the LORD, and remember that we too need to daily forgive others their trespasses, so that GOD will forgive us ours; lest those trespasses be visited again upon us, or those descendants of ours in the generations after us.  We must nail our sins with Christ, to the Cross; and place them under His atoning blood, which cleanses from all sin and unrighteousness.   The blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin (I John 1:7), as a mikvah or ritual bath also washes the dirt of the world away.  

Mishneh, Yoma 8:9, also tells us that,
               “The Bath [or Mikvah] of Israel is the LORD.”

For we who trust into the King Of Israel, YHVeH Messiah, Jesus the Christ who is called Yeshua HaMesshiach by Jewish believers, Christ Jesus is our ever cleansing ritual bath through faith in what He did at the Cross and the trusted into spoken and sometimes unspoken (except in the heart and mind) word of prayer washing away all sins, trespasses, mistakes, and transgressions of every type.
  
      The Christianity that sprang from Rome erred in the persecutions of Jews, for their origins were Jewish through Peter and Paul, and the first bishops of the Christian Churches that were founded there.  In Rome, it was only after the appointment Xystus / Sixtus that Rome lost its Jewish ness, and became eminently Gentile.  Elsewhere, in Antioch of Syria, in Ephesus of Asia, in Corinth of Achaia, and in Alexandria of Egypt, such an effect of a breaking away from Judaism had not yet truly come about.  In regards to a return to its Jewish roots, the Church of Rome almost did so with the help of John the Apostle’s Disciple in the mid-150s A.D.  In circa 157 A.D., shortly before his martyrdom in Smyrna, the 116 years old plus Polycarp did bring to Rome, and help to reinstate the Passover.  From that visit to Rome, through the acceptance of Polycarp’s witness by Rome’s bishop Anicetus, we have ever after celebrated that Tradition of the Passover in the Church.  That Passover is kept by and through the Communion with the bread and wine.   The partaking of the bread is from taking the Passover’s second of three Matzot, which is hidden away and brought back to the table.  That second Matzoh is then “broken up”, and taken with the third cup of Passover wine: the cup of Communion.  The Matzoh is baked and unleavened, representing “that which is without sin”.  It has the stripes of being criss-crossed with burn marks, and it is pierced through with tiny holes. It is broken up, even as the flesh of Christ was broken up by the cat-and-nine-tails whippings, chunks and bits of flesh ripped out, and falling to the ground.   Thus the teaching of Messiah:
   “There is no form or majesty to Him,
     that we should see and believe Him;
     and having not an appearance that we should  desire Him.
     But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
     broken up for our iniquities;                 
     for our peace, the discipline was upon Him;
     and by His wounds from stripes and blows, 
     we ourselves are healed.”
                  (Isaiah 53:2b, 5   -- translation mine)


  That Jewish-ness of Christianity, as brought forth by Polycarp, shortly before his martyrdom, had been dissipated since circa 119 A.D with Sixtus.   Sixtus had become Bishop over the Churches of Rome only 17 odd years after the death of Judeo-Christian Clement in circa 102 A.D.  The lack of Jewish ness to Christianity in Rome in this period, may have simply been the by-product of a largely underground Church whose elements and fundamental doctrines were evangelically geared to a non-Jewish congregate.  By better understanding the Jewish ness if our faith, we can grow in knowledge and wisdom in ways and blessings beyond description.  Therefore, by seeing Christ in the environment from which He chose to come through, we see His Plan of Salvation, and as it relates to the Cross, all the more fully and richly. 


       Shortly after the birth of Christ, in what would be reckoned as October of 5 B.C., shortly after this date the famous Jewish sage, Hillel, arrived from Babylonia.  It was not until his arrival that Jews were reintroduced to the Hebrew Scriptures, after a large absence of over 200 years.  Most of the Hebrew Torah scrolls that remained were disintegrating.  In this time, Hillel brought fresh and well-maintained Hebrew copies of the Torah to Israel; and thus is credited with helping to save and preserve the Jewish identity of Israel.     25 years later, when Jesus began his ministry, the children of Israel, largely, were still memorizing Scriptures primarily out of the Greek Septuagint, called “the Egyptian text”.  But the Hebrew Scriptures, as copies were slowly and meticulously were churned out, began to take hold among the people.   This advent took place primarily in the region of Judea, the Galilean Disciples still being dependant upon the Greek Septuagint. 


          Why were the Hebrew Scriptures kept primarily in Judea in these first years?  Because the first ones to capitalize on their return and revival were the Pharisees in Judea.  Along with this Hebraic reintroduction to the Scriptures, came the insights of "letters" with hidden numerical values, dating back to Nehemiah’s return from Babylon, and perhaps before.  These “insights” were often the deciphering of the Hebraic language itself.  The Torah was viewed as a book of codes, that once properly discerned and deciphered, it could open the secrets of the Scriptures.  This process was called by the Jews as being  "Gematria."     The Pharisees, and their elders and scribes seized upon this teaching, brought back into Israel by Hillel.  It was not to be taught or shared among the people.  Knowledge of this “insight” into GOD’s Word was seen as a means to obtain and secure more influence and power over the common folk, and government.   So if someone should know this teaching in Israel outside the Pharisaic upper class, not having learned “letters”, they would have been viewed to either have been educated in Babylonia, or divinely instructed by GOD (John 7:15, 3:2).  

[Yet, it is by this very process, by Gematria, by which “we”  (John 14:26) who are Christians blessed with this gift of insight, can also open up insights and revelations into Christ and about His Cross, to which has not yet been revealed to the world, and perhaps should remain for those who truly appreciate and believe, or want to know the True Reality of things as they really are. ]

        Now, the more wealthy and affluent Sadducees appeared less inclined toward precise interpretation and tradition of the Fathers than the Pharisees.  The after-life was almost a state of non-existence with them:  what mattered was the here and now.  However, the Sadducees were ever captivated by the kingdom teachings of the LORD in and with Israel; and ever longing for the political restoration of Israel as a sovereign nation.  Their struggle for positioning in the here and now, was somehow thought, it seems, to secure position in the coming Kingdom of GOD in the world to come.  Therefore, if you die a sage or high priest, you were given exalted status in the world to come.  If you died a poor man, then --well, good luck.  Although they might not have phrased it in that way, this indeed appears to be the reasoning by which they approached the “world to come’ or the “after-life”.

     In some ways, this socio-religious view became as a tradition of Judaism in and of itself, and enabled a work ethic toward survival in the grimmest of economic plights and circumstances despite an refusal to acknowledge that much of the Diaspora among the nations they endured ws due to the curse of unbelief GOD forewarned them in Deuteronomy Chapter 28.  
       The obsession with money was as if an obsession with the affairs of this life and survival.  Family needed to support and help other family.  Clans and tribes needed to stick together to further the good of the ethnicity.  And when all else failed, those of the national heritage were to be supported, that is those of the other tribes of Israel, against that of all outsiders.  The tale of Jewish survival from the first to the twentieth century was one of isolationism for survival among the nations.  However, once in their own native soil given them by GOD Himself, by verbal covennant contract, GOD has used and supplied various benevolent Gentiles, usually Christians, to help Israel as a helper in their homeland...most often because of their influence in the United States (which the usurper of the United States Presidency, Obama,  and his co-conspirators (some of whom are agents and assets of militant Islam) are trying to subvert and overthrow).

This region of the Middle East in and of and surrounding Israel, has throughout history, especially in the 1st century B.C. and the 1st century A.D.,  seemingly has ALWAYS been torn: by famines, by drought, by pestilences, and by wars from without; by civil wars from within, by robber bands, and by mobs following false messiahs and crazy men; by foreign forces which swept back and forth across the Land, and by opinions and politics that was as attractive as a kazoo brass band.    Exhaustingly, this strife was so annual that there hardly seemed to ever be a year or two together that could be called "peaceful".  Except for a generation or two here and there, well for over 1500 years after the 1551 B.C. Exodus from Egypt and the 1511 B.C. entry into the Covenant to them by GOD land of Israel,  something bad always seemed to be going on; and sadly, often enough, power seemed to go to those who had influence, affluence, knowledge, and the iron will.  In the 1st Century A.D. period of New Testament history, we never really read or find that the “Land had rest”, as we might in the book of Judges.  History then shows us, that these poor souls suffered from a form of emotional and spiritual burnout, in the years preceding the coming of the Messiah.  The Christian will do well, to learn by their sufferings and example.  We are to put our trust exclusively in Christ, both for our life in this world, and for the one in the world to come.  We are to know that we can obtain the promises of the goodness of the after-life by trusting in His payment for our sins upon the Cross, and by the glorious power of His Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven.


       In Sanhedrin 88b of the Babylonian Talmud tells us that in this period of history, (which includes the period of Christ's ministry), the Pharisees and Sadducees were so distinct, that there was a great fear in the Land and among the two sects -- that the One Torah  [one Law or Instruction from the 5 Books of Moses] might end up as Two Torot.  The idea was that the Torah was as the Tree of Life; and that like an Olive Tree, it might branch out, and create two trees from the same root (cf. Romans 11:16-25).  But that in the process, they might grow apart, until they became like the separation of Judah and Samaria: each one serving GOD differently, and in his own way.  If that happened, (from the Jewish perspective), Israel would no longer be special among the nations.  The nations of the earth, according to this line of reasoning, would then be justified in either practicing idolatry or in the worshipping of GOD on a moral and spiritual equivalency with the Jew.  “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”, the Bible says.

       It was into this fray that Christ came, correcting and admonishing in the true spirit of the Torah in Israel's time of need.  Apparently, while prayers for aid went up to GOD, those doing the praying, were  (more often than not), doing it for an open show of piety instead.  They were just not listening to how and what they were praying.  Perhaps instead of a humble request as the Greek  “Aiteo” (Matthew 7:9; John 11:22), they prayed in demands to GOD as the Greek word  “Erotao”, that of an equal.  This is exactly what is the sin of the “Church” today.  


       Christ prayed in the attitude of “Erotao” (as an equal to another equal) with humility in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 17:9,15,20), and admonished His disciples to pray with the spirit or attitude of  Aiteo” (as one of very low rank humbly and respectfully asking one of very high respect and rank). Erotao and Aiteo does not involve what specifics we pray, in as much as how we pray.  If you were a time-traveler, and for the sake of hypothesis, went back in time to approach  a very rich and powerful ancient king in the seat of his power-base, and were you to walk up and say in his ancient language  “Give me what I ask, punk!”, then that king would very likely have you executed, perhaps even on the very spot you stand.  In the same way, we in our own present time, whensoever in time that is, are also called to make foolish or disrepectful demands of GOD,  nor try to use prayers and petition in such a way so as to deceive and obtain by lies or flatteries, as though GOD cannot see within our hearts and thoughts (cf. I Chronicles 28:9).  The notion of deceptive prayers is to place oneself as smarter and greater than the one you are petitioning.  Perhaps, this aspect of Oral Torah and Traditions of Men of the First Century Era of Judaism was, whether in part or in whole, what “the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod"  was about (Mark 8:15).  We must remember, that Christ’s “goings forth are from of old, even from everlasting” (Micah 5:2); while our “goings forth” are not.  It appears that their era, then, was not so alien from ours as we are wont to think.  Although, the religious beliefs of those who practiced deception were sometimes so alien and outside the Torah, that they could be viewed as just being ambition in the form of a  socio-political power spin. 


     From the Pharisaical viewpoint, it is the mission of the religious Jew to produce a form of righteousness in the world, and thereby fulfill bringing GOD’s Kingdom on earth -- because “ Righteousness is (considered to be) equal to all other Commandments combined!”  (Bava Batra 9b).  This notion, that was so strong of an addiction among the rabbinate and priesthood that the Apostle Paul had to -- repeatedly -- blast this away from the Christian as being a form of deceptive thinking.  In practical application and in view of the Scripture, those zealots who believed such thoughts as Bava Batra 9b were going about  “in ignorance, going about to establish their own righteousness, and not submitting themselves unto the Righteousness [i.e., Christ] of GOD.”  (Romans 10:3; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 5:18)  It with this reasoning, then, that  the Pharisees and Lawyers rejected the COUNSEL of GOD against themselves, being not baptized of Him.”  (Luke 7:30)  They failed to recognize, to know, to understand the difference between the righteousness of GOD and acts of self-righteousness.  


      We are to learn from this.  It was for the payment of our sins that Christ went to the Cross.  We are called out, not to make the mistakes of others, but to learn from them. The examples of mistakes and wrong actions are peppered throughout the Bible as learning aids.   That is why such an examination of the nuances and stubbornness of the Pharisees are so important.  Often, they are a mirror reflection of ourselves, and are the likeness we are called NOT to be.  Knowing more about them will hopefully show us when we are falling, sooner than later, before we run and slip, and our rump goes “thumpa, thump, thump!” as we bounce across the ground.


Causeless hatred
     If we, in our Day, were to bring up the prophetic utterances of Deuteronomy chapter 28 and many other passages, which warned as to why the Temples were destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and Titus, and as to why the Diaspora occurred:  in discussing it with most Jews, we would hit a brick wall.  In the mind of many modern Jews, Jerusalem was not lost by defeat to the Romans, or to Nebuchadnezzar, inasmuch as it was to  “sinat khinam” -- which means, “causeless hatred.”   It other words, sin against GOD was to have played no part in GOD vomiting them from their own lands.  Idolatry, as He Himself prophesied, was not to be believed as a first or primary cause.  It was, they say, a defeat brought about by acts of causeless hatred:  of Jew against Jew.  The idolatry then, is found in the Jewish cultural faith of “humanism”, which most often precedes their worship of YHVeH.   Therefore, as Christians, we are to be wary of unbelief; lest it be a root cause for tribulations and downfall. 
     

Forgiveness of Sins: one of two Jewish Favorite holidays         
     One example of what Pharisees and Sadducees could seem to agree on, was that the happiest days of the year fell on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and the 15th of Av (Mishna, Ta’anit 4:8).   The Day of Atonement absolved one of his sins against GOD.  The drawback from this being the happiest day of the year was that, though he were absolved of sins against GOD; yet was he NOT absolved of sins against his fellow man, unless first that injured person had been, in some manner or way, appeased (Mishna, Yoma 8:9).  Even though the forgiveness of sins was a call for rejoicing, the insistence had to be made for one to do it, whether they  “felt like it” or not.    The Day of Atonement was a call for there to be a Heaven-sent:  happiness, peace, and good-will towards man.   


         The Earthly happiness appeared to take greater personal importance, because it helped establish a man his man-hood.  This “happiest” of all days was to be found on the 15th of Av.  It appears that this date was the one that most marriages in the first century A.D. were arranged.    The 15th of Av would be precisely 6 days after the anniversary date of the destruction of Solomon's Temple in 586 B.C., which was on the 9th of Av of that year.  Hence, the idea of civilization being born again, as each married couple became a type of Adam and Eve, called to populate the Earth…to be fruitful, and multiply.  Marraige is a man and a woman in the design relationship given by the Creator, GOD, and it is NOT for any perverts or freaks seeking to homosexualize marraige in order to justify their unnatural insanity, be it from a self-induced or pedophilia rape induced mental illness and spiritual wickedness that is against both GOD and the design of His Creation.  

The Day of Atonement and the 15th of Av are good traditions and examples for us to keep in this currently 21st Century world.  



The Origin of the Harshness Behind First Century Pharisaic Mindsets
 In the years before Christ, “Herod I”  also called "Herod the Great" (a thieving severely oppressive tyrannical dictator who) built his own personal bodyguard intelligence service.  This, I believe, had a direct bearing to why the Pharisees would seek to harden their hearts, and crucify the Messiah to the Cross.  Herod’s Secret Service was so efficient, that it was actually mimicked somewhat more poorly by the S.S.- Gestapo organizations of Nazi Germany 20 centuries later.  These spies would intermingle on the road, at inns, in the market place, or wherever people met; as soon as they overheard a wrong utterance, in or out of context, arrest and imprisonment with tortures and/or execution resulted.  There was no accountability for any misdeeds or misdoings except to a wicked and cruel tyrant, who seemed encourage harshness as though it were a virtue and a means of achieving ever-greater notoriety.

Herod released to his subjects the third part of their taxes, under the pretence of relieving them after the long drought and starvations they had; but the main reason was, to recover their good-will, which he now wanted; for they were uneasy at him, because of the innovations he had introduced in their practices of the dissolution of their religion, and the disuse of their customs, and the people everywhere talked against him, like those that were still more provoked and disturbed at his procedure; against which discontents he greatly guarded himself, and took away the opportunities they might have to disturb him, and enjoined them to always be at work;  nor did he permit the citizens either to meet together, or to walk, or to eat together, but watched everything they did, and when any were caught, they were severely punished;  and many there were who were brought to the citadel Hyrcania, both openly and secretly, and were there put to death; and there were spies everywhere, both in the city and in the roads, who watched those that met together….” Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 15 Chapter 10 Section 4.

   In some ways, although the Pharisees were already inclined to have the authority to pardon and banish as they pleased (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 1.5.2); it does appear that the Pharisees learned their later harshness from the bitterness of experience with Herod I.  It was Herod, whom upon coming to power, says Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews 14.9.4, who put the entire Sanhedrin to death  (save 1, called Samaes).  But like Europe in the 1930’s A.D., there was a point in which the Sanhedrin and its Temple Police could have prevented Herod, for they called him to accounts to stand before them and answer for murder.  Compare the words of Samaes as was scribed at the time, and recounted to us by Josephus out of the salvaged scrolls of Jerusalem, with the later comparison or anti-thesis in Jesus.

And Samaes, a righteous man, and member of the Sanhedrin, arose and said:
 “…Every one, whosoever he be, that comes to be tried by the Sanhedrin, presents himself in a submissive manner, and like one that is in fear of himself, and that endeavors to move our compassion, with his hair disheveled, and in a black and mourning garment:  but this admirable man Herod, who is accused of murder, and called to answer so heavy an accusation, stands here clothed in purple, and with the hair of his head fine trimmed, and with his armed men about him, that if we shall condemn him by our Law, he may slay us, and by overbearing justice may himself escape death….”   
“…And when Herod had received the Kingdom, (indeed) he slew all the members of the Sanhedrin, and Hyrcanus himself (the high priest and king) also, except for Samaes -- for he had a great respect for him on account of his righteousness.”
                                                (Josephus, Antiquities, 14.9.4.)


The very act of slaying an entire Sanhedrin, save one righteous man, sent a shock wave into the Jewish Community to which, over the next century and a half, it never recovered.  That massacre would linger in the minds of Sanhedrins to come, and be the means by which it would justify conspiracy and collusion with terrorists and ungodly underground cults, such as Mithras and Pan. 


       Now with the implementation of Roman Governors / Pro-Consuls into this region of the Middle East by the Government of Rome, the long term political strategy of the Pharisees appears to have been geared to the bring about a revival of the Ptolemaic "Archaereus", a High Priest King / Governor of all the lands of Israel, even if it were by or through Roman appointment.  In order for this to come about, repeated resistance to Roman appointed Judean pro-consuls and repeated emergency emissary visitations to Caesar were required.  These things the ultra-Orthodox Pharisees did, but to no avail.  Therefore, when Christ came, the Pharisaic sect was probably certain of eventually receiving, and therefore determined to receive this power from Rome.  Not even GOD Himself, if they had any say about, was going to wrest away that power -- that affluence -- or that once in a century or more opportunity from coming about.  Those in power in the Sanhedrin would then be, once again, the masters and rulers of all Israel -- with the Roman sword to back them up!  Again, another reason why Christ must be crucified.   


When the Pharisees called for the execution of Christ, and cried their loyalty for Caesar, they acted as those who were unbelievers to their own Torah, being politically (not religiously) motivated.  The Judean sect (called "Jews" in the Gospels, but Pharisees are meant or implied), tried to manipulate the procedure more against Pilate than any one else.  Rather than acting the part of "holy ones' who were noted for their meekness and gentility and humility (Eruvin 13b), it appears that the leaders and zealots among the scribes took a different view than the one whitewashed upon their history by their descendants (hundreds of years into the future).  Josephus, a contemporary with those who had lived in Jesus' own time, and some having opposed him, tells us that certain of the leadership conspired with terrorists against their own people and the honest souls of the Holy priesthood  (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 20.8.5. ff.,).


De facto, Herod’s massacre of the Sanhedrin in the late 30s B.C., and his use of the theater and games with music orchestration, drew multitudes away to the desecration of their souls.  It is also likely that the best games and events were probably reserved for the Hellenized and Roman crowds and held on the Sabbath:  even though the great Olympic and Circension money award events were every 5 years.  Josephus informs us,
“…Herod revolted from the Laws of his country, and corrupted their ancient Constitution by the introduction of foreign practices…those religious observances which used to lead the multitude to piety, were now neglected for, in the first place, …a theater in Jerusalem, built in honor of Caesar, as also a very great amphitheater in the Plain.  Both of them were indeed costly works, but opposite to the Jewish customs…the wrestlers…and the principal persons that were most eminent in these sorts of exercises, were gotten together, for there were very great rewards for victory proposed, not only to those that performed their exercises naked, but those that played the musicians also, and were called THYMELICI….” 
                                                 (Josephus, Antiquities 15. 8. 1.)


  When reading and researching history, to those wanting strict primary sources and not commentary,  we are to carefully choose our source data.  What testimony has more weight…one closer to the actual generation, one an eyewitness to events or within two or three generations of hearsay eyewitness testimony, or those of hundreds of years  or even that of a thousand to what is now literally almost two thousand years later?     

   Sanhedrin 17a, 36b instructs us that these men of this elite body of the Sanhedrin, were quite scholarly, and likely to have been agnostic  -- which means "not knowing" or "ignorant", usually in application to a belief in GOD -- if not in conflict with their own Faith's practices and beliefs.    Even though they were to be thoroughly versed in Torah Scriptures, (the first 5 books of the Bible),  the emphasis instead, appears to be on: multi-lingualism, skills in math and medicine, thorough knowledge and familiarization with all forms of sorceries and witchcrafts -- especially intimate with their ceremonies and practices, and not childless.  Like the scholars of today's Bible teaching Seminaries, the shock is present when fellow colleagues actually believe the Bible.  The inert desire is to viciously undermine such a colleague’s credibility and standing; and perhaps to covet that person’s prestige and office within the administration.  So it appears to have been in the First Century, there is almost a sense of shock when someone like John the Baptist, actually believes the Torah and the Prophets, and practices righteousness.  And in so doing, the people, who are thirsting for the Word of GOD, consider him a prophet, and the whole countryside empties out to dunk themselves in a river before him (Matthew 3:5-6).  More so, it is even worse for the membersof the Sanhedrin, the appointed elders of Israel,  that an actual son of David, being near to Kingship, goes around and rallies all of Israel as a Torah thumper, ignoring the authority of a “religious governing body” basing their authority and dictates on the traditions of men;   -- and whom threatens to impose GOD’s Instructions, without a need of a Sanhedrin of Israel present in the coming administration!   I truly believe that this was the view of the opposing faction of the Pharisees who sought to have Christ crucified, and it may also be said that the Apostle Paul, once a Pharisee in this time period, argued in the same way (1 Corinthians 2:8).


According to the Dead Sea Scroll Community of Jews own Manual of Discipline (8:6-10), the people of GOD, the tribes of Israel, were called to be as a “Living Temple” of YHVeH, who were to make a type of sacrificial atonement for the Land of Israel.  The theme was that in Heaven, there are no animal sacrifices where GOD’s Throne is.  Rather, these animal sacrifices are replaced with sacrifices of the lips, in words of prayer and praise to the Almighty (Manual of Discipline 1:11-13, 9:4-5; and Isaiah 1:11-20).    It appears that this may have been an Essene or even a dirgent split of Pharisaic theology based on Scripture. 


John the Baptist chose the wilderness areas to call the people out of Jerusalem, and make them a people having hearts made ready for the appearance of a GOD Messiah or YHVeH Messiah ... A concept of GOD as the Messiah that is clearly Biblical and known then, but debated by those who have been wrongly swayed otherwise…and refuted by the archaeological literary evidence coming to light, such as the Hazon Gabriel stone, which invokes the Isaiah prophecy in the name Eliakim (the G-D who rises / resurrects [as from the dead, like Jesus would later do]).

Isaiah 22:20-23
"And it shall come to pass in that day,
that I will call my servant Eliakim 
[the G-D who rises / resurrects]
the son of Hilkiah [YHVeH who is my protection / portion]:

And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.

And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

And 
I will fasten him as a nail [hang, such as the crucifixion] in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house."

The very use of Eliakim as the identity, more than just simply as the Name of the Messiah, teaches us that He is to be a GOD figure, who is the son of GOD the Father (of Him). Thus, Jesus concept of his being GOD from GOD is seen by just one of various examples through the prophets and various books through the entire Old Testament (with perhaps Esther being the exception). This lack of like translations of the meaning of Hebrew names into English, is perhaps a project which one day needs to be remedied.

There is some controversy among Dead Sea Scroll scholars and commentators as to whether or not John the Baptist was a Qumranian Essene. It appears to me that he was not likely to have been. 

In the Dead Sea Manual of Discipline, 6:11-12 it reads:
"And in the Assembly of the [i.e., of the leaders of the] the Congregation, no man shall speak without the consenting of [the leaders of the] Congregation, nor indeed [without the consenting of] the Guardian of the Congregation."

In the role of a prophet, even if John were an Essene, John would not have needed this permission of the Guardian of the Congregation. And clearly, it does not appear as if HE were guardian over any group, other than his small band of disciples...which included Andrew, the later disciple of Christ and brother to Simon (later called Peter).

"...(leave) from the dwelling-place of the men of perversion, in order (that you may) go to the Wilderness to prepare the WAY of Him, as it is written:

'In the Wilderness, prepare the way of **** 

[YHVeH is referenced here in the scroll by 4 dots],
make straight in the desert a mecillah for our GOD.
This is the search of the Law."
 (Manual of Discipline, 8:13-15).
In the ancient times, when the Jordan flooded from the rains, the Jordan swelled beyond its modern known width of 15-30 feet wide (like that of a creek today) at Bethabara/ Bethany, and gained a slow moving width in excess of  200 - 300 feet wide and more, perfectly suitable for baptisms, with a depth perhaps exceeding 12 feet in the middle of the stream.  Clearly, John's disciples could have easily stood with the hundreds of thousands of Israel at its Western banks while John stood as a witness on its Eastern banks / shoreline, shouting from the wilderness. 

It appears that for a matter of months, most all Israel believed Jesus / Yeshua was their Messiah, but they were cautious about it.  Thanks to John the Baptist, who evangelized a doctrine of repentance, they were made ready to believe...but a many centuries turning away from the Prophets and their writings undid a full acceptance of Messiah and what he did at the Cross, and every single one of them did not expect the resurrection of Messiah as it stated in Isaiah 22:20-23, because the rabbis failed to believe the writings of the Prophets, and clearly passed on this mistaken tradition of unbelief or at least an agnosticism in transmission, even as the scribes faithfully preserved the books of the Prophets of the Bible's Old Testament.  It seems that a veil hung on the minds of those who occasionally heard the Prophets of the Bible being taught, and the polite thing  to do was listen, even as many who attend Church or Synagogue in our own day,  without taking it to heart...or so it seems.



  In regard to the transmission of the Oral Torah / the Oral Law in this period, it appears that this teaching also was held close to the vest, like to a group-cult, where often its woirds were closely guarded and to “members only”.  The average first century A.D. Israeli was likely often faced with rabbis who cited contradictory decions to his own benefit in asserting authority over his own congregates, and had no access to truly figure out what was only always passed by verbal memorization and never written down.   In the second century, attempts were made to write down various Sadduccee versions of the Oral Laws of the Sanhedrin, but they were quickly suppressed within decades and those only edited and submitted by the Pharisee dominated Sanhedrin's own approved (Pharisee) Rabbi Judah ben ha Nasi, won out.  These Oral Laws were most often the Oral Teachings of the Pharisees sprinkled with Temple and actual rituals for all of Israel for both preservation as well as claims of authenticity, and after the second century, very often even as unto this day, all other sects or denominations of Judaism were treated as if unbelievers if they expressed a Judaism differing from the Pharisaic version. 


Middle Ages Judeo-Christian Application toward the Jewish fear of the Cross 
Once we understand the factual basis or 'Truth' upon which our Tradition comes from, once we establish that this belief into Christ is founded upon and embedded deeply into the ROCK of historical and prophetical accuracy contained in the Word of GOD, the Holy Bible, rather than upon the ever changing socio-political climates and the mere opinions and conflicting teachings of men -- then once our trust into GOD and His Holy Word is established, our trusting Faith is assured, personally, and it cannot be broken down, even if at times slightly shaken.  It is for this reason, for those who truly wish to know that our faith   is deeper than any man or group can ever manipulate, or ever create, that this generalized lecture is given.


       Even the Spanish Inquisition of the Jewish descendants of Spain is subject to interpretation in moral justification, or vice versa; and gives way to the justification of prejudices by the Jewish peoples in centuries to come.  This debate occurred before James of Aragon, King of Spain, in 1263 A.D., shortly before the event of the Spanish Inquisition.  In this debate, between Pablo Christiani (a converted Jewish Christian) and Nachmanides (a very high ranking Jewish politician in the Spanish Government), three questions were argued over:
1)    Did the Messiah come as Jesus, or is He still yet to come; 
2)     Is the Messiah actually GOD, or is he to be just a man only; and
3)    Who practices the perfect interpretation of the Law, Jews, or Christians? 


      Nachmanides argued to the effect that Jesus claims to be the Messiah were authentic, but that the issue was not to be decided on his ancestry that tied him to King David, etc.  Nachmanides said the issue was whether Messiah, or any Messiah for that matter, was GOD.  In part, it is this very debate to which I readdress and answer, to lay the very cause or obstacle of Jewish offense to Christ aside. 


        Nachmanides committed abomination  [“toeba” - toeh ata ba, “you are erring in this way”: Nedarim 51a]   in his ignorance of   Isaiah 7:14, Lamentations 4:20, I Samuel 2:10 with Zechariah 14:9, etc.    Further, he was of a mind that, since Isaiah 2:4 had not been fulfilled right away after Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem, and that he was personally ignorant of any change in the character of the world since that time, why should he believe?   But GOD answered Nachmanides in His time: with the spread of the Bible from the priests and elite to the common man in the coming centuries, so too did the spread of Christianity birth the Renaissance, the era of Ideological, Scientific, and Religious Enlightenment.  It was through Christianity that the Kingdom of GOD was made near to humanity, and changed the faces of whole civilizations.  Isaiah 2:4 is saved until after the heavens roll up like a scroll, and Zechariah 12:10, 13:1 - 14:4 is fulfilled, in which 2/3rds of all Jews upon the face of the Earth are slaughtered, and YHVeH the Great KING Himself delivers them as their Messiah. 


        The Inquisition followed this debate before King James of Spain in 1263, and Jews were forced to either convert to Roman Catholicism, or be tortured and persecuted.  It was from this time that the Jews called themselves as either of a Sephardim (Spanish) or Ashkenazi (German) descent.  This is most curious, as it does not denote their particular tribal affiliations, be it Reuben or Judah or Levi (etc.), but of where they had dwelt among two Gentile lands in the 13th Century A.D.  In fact, when they had lost their sense of who they were, they ever after then blamed the Gentiles to which they chose to dwell as foreigners amongst, for the loss of their identity.  (cf.  Deuteronomy 4:26-28; and 28:1, 15ff.).  As you read these passages, which I cite, please pay particular attention to Deuteronomy 4:27; and 28:1,25,36-37,47,65-67.  Deuteronomy 28:66 is particularly disturbing to the unbelieving Jewish mind, as they see the Catholic Cross before them, and the image of Yeshua “hanging and quivering”, [the Hebrew “talah”], vibrantly still alive in His suffering state upon the Cross.  However, a state of unbelief will largely persist in the Jewish psyche into the millions of them until the Tribulation and Great Tribulation period (Deut. 4:30).  We, however, are not to severely criticize nor persecute the Jew, but to show favor to them, even if we disagree and point out proper historical context; we need to avoid permanently hurting them or give them the kid glove treatment whenever possible.  For as it is written in   Genesis 12:2-3 - GOD will bless those who bless them, and curse those who curse the seed in which His NAME is entrusted  (i.e., His NAME is as Jewish and among the 13 tribes of Israel).  In   Deuteronomy 29:2-8, 20  - if the Hebrews return to the VOICE or WORD of GOD, then they shall be blessed and their enemies persecuted.  Therefore, as Paul writes in Romans 11:1-29  - boast not against the Hebrews to replace them, for the gifts and calling of GOD upon them to be His Ministers and Teachers and Distributors of His Holy WORD are without repentance.  (cf. Galatians  3:14-18.)   After all, the New Testament and the Covenants of GOD were given to the Israelites, who in turn, distributed the good news among the nations of the earth.  And because it was so early a date, from 17 to 27 years after the Crucifixion, death - burial - Resurrection - and Ascension; it simply adds to the proves of how the activity of the Cross is genuinely and Divinely placed as the center point of all human existence and history.

The First Century Jew was as much lost and as much found as he or she is today.  Many Jews who seriously study the Scriptures of the Old Testament in straight doses suddenly realize that when they are removed from the peer and family pressure of anti--Christian propaganda, GOD Himself is leading them to a restoration of their Faith in and through Yeshua HaMesshiach, whom the Gentiles call Jesus Christ.  Christianity is the most persecuted faith upon the Earth, and it is the most intellectually enlightening of all humanity.  Christians are those who choose to believe GOD at His Word, and have His Divine Spark within; while unbelievers are those who rather live out live with an emptiness and GOD shaped hole within, and live life intellectually in the dark, and waste their eternal soul in hell rather than be saved and made into joyous beings of Heaven upon their departure from their bodies at the time of their mortal demise / death from this lower physical world and its present order of things.   But don't pity those we leave behind, but joy in those who join us in faith through Christ, and by faith are written in the Lamb's Book of Life...whosoever will, both freely and without price.  Amen.   






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