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Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:1, 2 – Factual Data

Luke 3:1, 2 – Factual Data

|| Matthew 3:1-12;[1] Mark 1:1-8[2]

LK3:1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar[3] – [when] Pontius Pilate[4] was governor of Judea, Herod[5] was the tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip[6] was the tetrarch of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanius[7] was tetrarch of Abilene, LK3:2 also Annas[8] and Caiaphas[9] were chief priests – God’s message[10] came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.


[1] Matthew 3:1-12: For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 on Matthew. The symbol || indicates parallel information in another Gospel.

[2] Mark 1:1-8: For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 on Mark.

[3] The fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar: One absolute date in human history is the year Augustus died and Tiberius became Emperor of Rome – 14 AD – thus this is the year 29 AD in the fall. This is the exact year Daniel foretold when Messiah would appear. [Daniel 9:24-27]

[4] Pontius Pilate: He was appointed Roman governor of Judea in 26 AD by Tiberius. Josephus mentions him. [Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 55-59 (iii, 1); (Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 60-62 [iii, 2]; The Jewish War, II, 175-177 [ix, 4])] As does the Jewish theologian Philo of Judea who is not flattering. [The Embassy to Gaius, XXXVIII, 299-305] An inscription was uncovered in 1961 confirming the existence of Pilate.

[5] Herod: For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 on Matthew 14:1.

[6] Philip: Son of Herod the Great by Cleopatra of Jerusalem.

[7] Lysanius: An inscription confirms his existence. [Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum, Vol. 3, No. 4521]

[8] Annas: For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 on Matthew 26:3, John 18:13, and Acts 4:6.

[9] Caiaphas: For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 on Matthew 26:65; John 11:49-53; 18:12-14; Acts 5:17.

[10] God’s message: Or, word, command.

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BS notes:

Philon.jpg

Philo of Alexandria (c. 20 BCE – c. 50 CE), also called Philo Judaeus, a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, during the Roman Empire.

Philo of Alexandria of Philo of Judea (Greek: Φίλων, Philōn; c. 20 BCE – c. 50 CE), also called Philo Judaeus, was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, during the Roman Empire and led a delegation of Alexandrian Jews to the emperor Caligula in 40 CE to protest the recent ill treatment of Jews by Greeks in their city. His account of the proceedings survives in the treatise entitled Legatio ad Gaium.

The emperor Caligula wanted to be celebrated as a god but recognised that the Jews did not want to believe that he had been given a divine nature.

As a religious believer, Philo was convinced that the truth of things was to be found ultimately in the teachings of Moses who believed in Only One God Who had given His word to Moses and to Abraham that Word was the Logos and as Being The Word of God it was the most important element for the Judean people. As a philosopher, he felt a need to express this truth in terms that were intelligible to a world imbued with the ideas of Greek philosophy. But trying to bring philosophy in unison with the language of Scriptures made that several people started to give more attention to the philosophical thoughts instead of the Scriptural thoughts.

Philo believed God is the Most High Who has always existed and shall always exist. It is a Spirit or Being which has no beginning but also no end and as such is the only reality that is eternal. It is the Eternal Force which is totally “other” than human beings and unknowable. His providence is “individual, ” manifesting itself in direct intervention in the universe, with suspension, if need be, of laws of nature for the benefit of meritorious individuals. Of His own goodwill, He, Jehovah God, endows the human soul with immortality. These views were strongly contrasted by Philo with Greek views, such as those found in Plato’s Phaedo and Timaeus, in which both matter and the Ideas are said to be coeternal with God; Providence is said to be manifested in the basic laws of nature, and the human soul is said to be of its very nature immortal.
In his attempt to reconcile both his belief in a uniquely transcendent, eternal Creator and his general acceptance of the Platonic theory of Ideas. He rejects the Ideas as eternal, transcendent entities. Rather, they are temporal and part of God’s creation. Their exemplars, however, do exist eternally — as thoughts in the mind of God. The home of the Ideas he called the Logos, or Reason, and this Logos, like the Ideas, was said to exist both transcendentally, as an eternal exemplar in the mind of God, and temporally, as part of God’s creation. With this doctrine Philo attempted to bridge the gap between a God who is totally “other” and the material universe; the Logos, being (unlike God) both transcendental and temporal, was the all-important intermediary linking man and the universe to their creator. But the linking to man made many scholars link Logos also to the human person and as such made Jesus into the Logos and considering because Logos is masculine that it could only be a man. But when they think that way Wisdom being feminine would make it to be a woman and when God is Wisdom would make God to be a woman.

According to Philo Logos is the intermediary through which God’s will acts and is thus the creative power that orders the world. Along with the Logos, Philo posited a whole realm of beings or potencies that bridge the gap between the Creator and his creation. Only fragments of Philo’s works remain, but numerous quotations from his writings are found in early Christian literature.

In a way he understood where the apostle John was pointing at, namely looking at the New Creation the disciple of Christ saw in his master the one who only wanted to do the Will of his Father, whom he wanted all the world letting Him be known. The apostles came to understand that their rabbi was the first-born of the New Creation and as such understood that The Word of God had brought into existence that New Creation. The Speaking of God had made everything possible. God His words brought by His messenger to the mother of John the baptist and to the mother of Jesus had brought insight into those women of the tribe of Juda. Having had the Word (the Logos) brought to king David, the Logos given to the young woman from the tribe of kind David came into fulfilment.

The messengers where the intermediaries through which God’s will acted and by which the two men came into existence by which salvation would become pronounced and by which the intermediary through which God’s will could act for those who were sinners but could find whitewashing in the one provided by the Most High, having become a reality by the Logos (the Speaking of God). The Voice of God or the Word of God coming to the world by the Speaking of God by the birth of Christ had now become flesh. It was not God Himself who had become flesh or a human being but the Words of God having become a reality, being his promise made at the Garden of Eden becoming into being or becoming true.

In the Holy Scriptures God has given His Words. They are the “Logos” which we can carry in our hearts and as such take God in our hearts. by taking the words of the Bible at heart it will not make us into gods or becoming god the Creator, like it did not with Christ Jesus who only did the wish of his Father and always declared he could not do anything without his Father.

“Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19 NIV)

“Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”” (John 20:17 NIV)

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5 NIV)

“to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:24 NIV)

“5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8 NIV)

“Now I want you to realise that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3 NIV)

“When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:28 NIV)

The Logos shall return to God, and the full circle shall be able to be closed when Jesus shall hand over the Kingdom of God again to his Father, Jesus and all his followers in subjection to the Most High Word of the world and the whole universe, the Only One God Who is One, Adonai Elohim Hashem Jehovah.

Philo – Woodcut from Die Schedelsche Weltchronik

Philo wrote mainly dealing with the Pentateuch. “De Opificio Mundi” brings his thought on the Creation, “De Vita Mosis” (On the Life of Moses), “Legum Allegoriae” (Allegorical Interpretation), “De Somniis” (On Dreams), “Quaestiones et Solutiones in Genesin” (Questions and Answers on Genesis).
In addition, he produced various philosophical treatises on such subjects as providence and the eternity of the world. He also wrote works (of great historical importance for understanding the situation of the Jews in Alexandria) against the oppression of Jews by Flaccus, and concerning the cruelty of the Roman emperor Gaius.

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Preceding article: Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:41-50 – Twelve Year Old Jesus in the Temple + Luke 2:51-52 – Jesus continued to be in subjection to his parents

Connecting articles:

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:1-6 – A Wilderness Baptist Prepares the Way

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:7-12 – Opposition and Two Baptisms

Nazarene Commentary Mark 1:1-8 – The Beginning of the Good News

Next: Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:3-6 – John Preaches Baptism of Repentance

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  1. The Word being a quality or aspect of God Himself
  2. Incomplete without the mind of God
  3. Immortality, eternality – onsterfelijkheid, eeuwigheid
  4. Is there an Immortal soul
  5. Dying or not
  6. 1 Corinthians 15 Hope in action
  7. We will all be changed
  8. Jesus begotten Son of God #11 Existence and Genesis Raising up
  9. Secret or public return of Jesus

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  • Saturday – Third Week of Advent (johnsramblings.com)
    In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.
  • Herod and Pontius Pilate . . . Gentiles . . . peoples of Israel (proclaimingthegospelofchrist.wordpress.com)
    Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. (Acts 4:27)
  • Jesus in Extra-Biblical Sources – Apologetics Canada (christianreasons.com)
    Like Suetonius, Tacitus was also a Roman historian. He is best known for his Annals which records events from the death of Roman emperors Augustus to Nero in 14-68 AD.6 In Annals 15.44, Tacitus makes a reference to Jesus:
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    Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.
  • Commentary On The Gospel Of Mark Chapter 15:1-3 (studyoftheword.com)
    Pilate was the Roman governor of Judea and was appointed by Tiberius in A.D. 26. He was in charge of the Roman army of occupation, in charge of the taxes going to Rome, had life and death power over his subjects, appointed high priests and decided cases involving capital punishment. He was a weak governor who let his personal and political agenda interfere with his duties. He knew that in Jesus’ case that justice was not being done and he did not want the Roman officials to know that he could not control the situation because this had already been brought to Tiberius’s attention.
  • Something about St. John the Baptist (englishminor1215.wordpress.com)
    St. John the Baptist was born in the city Orini , family priest Zechariah. Elizabeth , his mother, was a descendant of the tribe of Aaron . The birth of the prophet John spent six months before the birth of Jesus . Birth was given by the angel Gabriel to Zacharias while he was serving in the temple. To not give credence to those proclaimed by the angel Gabriel, Zechariah will remain silent until the release of his son ‘s name .
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    The fame of John the Baptist was so great , according to the evangelists Matthew and Mark that Herod come to believe that Jesus is actually John the Baptist risen from the dead to do wonders . The belief was widespread among Hebrew , as seen when Jesus asks his disciples who the crowds say that he is.
  • The Existence of Jesus Christ (gratiaetnatura.wordpress.com)
    There is one thing I have discovered–that those who do not wish to accept Jesus as the Christ will go as far as to deny even atheist scholars’ claims that He lived from around 4 B.C.E.-29 C.E. in ancient Palestine. One recently claimed that only a branch of scholars influenced by Christian apologetics accept the existence of Jesus. My sense is that someone who is ready to deny the vast majority of scholarship, not only Christian, but also atheist, agnostic, and Jewish scholarship, is unlikely to be persuaded by a blog post.
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    Both Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny the Younger (in his letter to the Roman emperor Trajan, 112 C.E.) mention Jesus as the founder of Christianity and that he was crucified under Pontius Pilate. These are the sure references to Jesus in extrabiblical literature of the second century. There is a reference, though later edited by Christians, to Jesus in Josephus, a first century Jewish historian.
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    Mainstream scholarship of all creeds or lack thereof accepts Jesus existence–if we denied it on the critics’ grounds, we would have to deny the existence of Plato, Julius Caesar, Herod the Great, and other ancient historical people. The similarity of the Jesus story to dying and rising god stories proves nothing about Jesus existence. The critics are inconsistent–they demand absolute, quasi-mathematical proof for Jesus’ existence, but not for other historical figures they accept as having existing.
  • A Brief Sample of Archaeology Corroborating the Claims of the New Testament (str.typepad.com)
    Sir William Mitchell Ramsay, a 19th century English historian and prolific writer, held a pervasive anti-Biblical bias. He believed the historical accounts in the Book of Acts were written in the mid-2nd century. Ramsay was skeptical of Luke’s authorship and the historicity of the Book of Acts, and he set out to prove his suspicions. He began a detailed study of the archaeological evidence, and eventually came to an illuminating conclusion: the historical and archaeological evidence supported Luke’s 1st century authorship and historical reliability:“(There are) reasons for placing the author of Acts among the historians of the first rank” (Sir William Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen, p. 4).

    Ramsay became convinced of Luke’s reliability based on the accurate description of historical events and settings. Ramsay wasn’t the only scholar to be impressed by Luke’s accuracy:

    “One of the most remarkable tokens of (Luke’s) accuracy is his sure familiarity with the proper titles of all the notable persons who are mentioned . . . Cyprus, for example, which was an imperial province until 22 BC, became a senatorial province in that year, and was therefore governed no longer by an imperial legate but by a proconsul. And so, when Paul and Barnabas arrived in Cyprus about AD 47, it was the proconsul Sergius Paullus whom they met . . .’ (F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, p. 82).

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    For many centuries, Luke was the only ancient writer to use the word Politarch to describe “rulers of the city.” Skeptics doubted that it was a legitimate Greek term until nineteen inscriptions were discovered. Five of these were in reference to Thessalonica (the very city in which Luke was claiming to have heard the term).

  • A Kenyan Lawyer Sues King Herod, Israel, And Italy over the Trial and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. (mojiakubudel.com)
    Mr Indidis, a Roman Catholic, and former spokesperson for the Kenyan Judiciary, filed the lawsuit regarding Jesus’ death with the International Court of Justice, the primary judicial branch of the United Nations based at The Hague in the Netherlands.He filed the lawsuit against Pontius Pilate, several Jewish elders, King Herod, Tiberius (Emperor of Rome 42 BC-37AD), the Republic of Italy and the State of Israel.

     “I filed the case because it’s my duty to uphold the dignity of Jesus and I have gone to the ICJ to seek justice for the man from Nazareth,” Indidis told the Nairobian in a recent interview.
  • New Ebook Released, just in time for Christmas!!! (sheiladeeth.wordpress.com)
    hat happened in those hidden years, those intervening decades between the return to Nazareth and the time when Jesus began his public ministry? Ms. Deeth fills this gap using logic, imagination and a subtle sense of humor. In so doing, she presents everyday life in Nazareth for the boy Jesus. Throughout the book’s fifty-plus chapters he assists Joseph in his carpentry work, interacts with friends and neighbors, and experiences the wider world beyond his hometown. The reader meets a young, but self-aware Jesus filled with boyish curiosity yet often wise beyond his years. Ever alert to the world around him, he catalogs the ups and downs of First Century life compiling a treasure trove of memories. And it’s from those memories and experiences that Jesus extracts the nuggets of wisdom for his parables.
  • Josefo, sobre Fílon de Alexandria (filal.wordpress.com)
    We find a brief reference to Philo by the 1st-century Jewish historian Josephus. In Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus tells of Philo’s selection by the Alexandrian Jewish community as their principal representative before the Roman emperor Gaius Caligula. He says that Philo agreed to represent the Alexandrian Jews in regard to civil disorder that had developed between the Jews and the Greeks in Alexandria, Egypt. Josephus also tells us that Philo was skilled in philosophy, and that he was brother to an official called Alexander the alabarch (Josephus, Antiquities viii. 8. 19). According Josephus, Philo and the larger Jewish community refused to treat the emperor as a god, to erect statues in honor of the emperor, and to build altars and temples to the emperor. Josephus says Philo believed that God actively supported this refusal.
  • In those days: some notes (friarmusings.wordpress.com)
    Matthew 3:1 in those days: This is an OT expression that marks the beginning of the new period, not necessarily a precise indication of time (see Mt 13:1; 24:22, 29, 36; 26:29). Here it marks the time-shift from the infancy narrative to the adult Jesus’ appearance.  the desert of Judea: wilderness would perhaps be the better word for modern English. The area is the barren region west of the Dead Sea extending up the Jordan valley.
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The Advent of the saviour to Roman oppression

Before Roman Judean rule

Rome, Ara Pacis museum: cast of a portrait of ...

Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti filius Augustus – Rome, Ara Pacis museum

The Trojan refugee Aeneas had escaped to Italy and founded the line of Romans through his son Iulus, the namesake of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. The Year of the Consulship of Balbus and Vetus was gone by and the Rome considered to have become a real Roman Empire bastion (on 21 April 753 bCE) had sent their conquerors also to the East. One of the most prominent patrician houses at Rome which were known for their pride and arrogance and intense hatred of the commonalty, brought Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti filius Augustus better known simply as Tiberius Claudius Nero. After he had divorced Vipsania Agrippina, he had married Augustus’ daughter Julia the Elder (from his marriage to Scribonia) and was adopted by Augustus, by which act he officially became a Julian, bearing the name Tiberius Julius Caesar. {Tiberius was the stepson of Augustus, grand-uncle of Caligula, paternal uncle of Claudius, and great-grand uncle of Nero.}

On the verge of accepting command in the East and becoming the second most powerful man in Rome, Tiberius suddenly announced his withdrawal from politics and retired to Rhodes, possibly as an interim solution: he would hold power only until his stepsons would come of age, and then be swept aside.

Instalment of Roman client king of Judea

Rome, Ara Pacis museum: collection of casts of...

Rome, Ara Pacis museum: collection of casts of busts showing the members of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto, March 28 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In in 63 BCE the Romans had taken over control of Syria, and then intervened in the Hasmonean civil war. A Roman client king of Judea was installed. But he seemed for many “the evil genius of the Judean nation” {Tierney, John. “Herod: Herod the Great”, Catholic Encyclopedia (1910): “Herod, surnamed the Great, called by Grätz “the evil genius of the Judean nation” (Hist., v. II, p. 77)} Though the Jews were granted exemptions from the official Roman state religion, they were not happy with this ambitious man and saw their tribe threatened very hard by this ruthless savage. For others he was Herod the Great (not to be confused with Herod Antipas who came later) and became known as Herod I. He has been described as “a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis“.

Worshippers of One God

By the Greek experience they had learned that others could not be forced to worship their idols and they saw for themselves that the Jews, who only wanted to worship One God, were not like other pagan people who had already several gods and perhaps could have advantage in some extra ones. By the years the Jews had prove that they were not going to conform to a worship which would not have been according to their Laws of worship. So the Romans granted the Jews an official status of being exempt from Roman state religion when they were willing to pay their punitive tax called fiscus Judaicus.

At the time Judea was a very important place for several major trade routes. It was sort of like the great way-station for the incense trade coming from Yemen up the Arabian Peninsula and going out to the Mediterranean. It was also one of the most agriculturally productive pieces of land in the Middle East famous for its olive oil (which was used as a main source of light, and not just for cooking), for its dates (the chief sweetener in the times before sugar), and for its wine.

Thorn in the flesh for the Jews

Roman Theatre

Roman Theatre

A thorn in the flesh was the centre of trade and the Roman administrative capitol of Judea, the artificial port city of Caesarea (one of the two largest in the Empire). Like in the most important Roman cities there was a beautiful amphitheatre, a hippodrome for chariot races and people could gamble and enjoy life or give one’s desires in their pleasure gardens. There was also a huge temple dedicated to the Roman god-emperor, Augustus Caesar.

Temples were sacred places and for the People of God the mount in Jerusalem was most sacred and they did not like the pagan ideas of their oppressor who had found an ambitious project in the re-building of ‘the Temple’, which was almost certainly an attempt to gain popularity among his subjects who, he knew, held him in contempt and also to make amends for his cruelty toward the rabbis.

Build walls around the Temple Mount

It took 10,000 men ten years just to build the retaining walls around the Temple Mount (on top of which the Muslim shrine, the Dome of the Rock, stands today). The Western Wall (formerly known as the Wailing Wall or “Kotel Ma’arabi”) is merely part of that 500-meter-long retaining wall that was designed to hold a huge man-made platform that could accommodate twenty four football fields. When it was completed, it was the world’s largest functioning religious site and until today it remains the largest man-made platform in the world.

‘Foresight is the essence of government’, he must have thought and forward looking to a growing Jewish community of which there were already about 6-7 million Jews living in the Roman Empire (plus another 1 million in Persia), they should have felt welcome in the town they had to visit in their lifetime. Because it was considered to go for pilgrimage to  Jerusalem for the three pilgrimage festivals: Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot.  (Exodus 23: 17; Deuteronomy 16:16). The Mishnah says,

“All are under obligation, to appear, except minors, women, the blind, the lame, the aged, and one who is ill physically or mentally.”

Also knowing that according to the Mosaic law every one should take an offering, though the value thereof is not fixed (comp. Exodus 23: 14; Deuteronomium 16:17) this would mean they had to buy goods in the city and could bring in money for the Roman Empire by the taxes. They were sure of collecting at least the tax for a fixed minimum of three silver pieces, each of thirty-two grains of fine silver (Ḥagai 1:1-2). While the appearance of women and infant males was not obligatory, they usually accompanied their husbands and fathers, as in all public gatherings (Deuteronomy 31:12), which would mean lodging and food for them to be provided. The Talmud plainly infers that both daughters and sons joined the pilgrims at the Passover festival in Jerusalem (Pes. 89a; Giṭ. 25a).

Herod understood that in case the Jews could find a nice place where they could come together to celebrate their festivals, they also would spend a lot of money over there, which would be good for the tax-income. To accommodate such a huge number of people there was a need for a huge space. Hence the size of the platform.

Several Jews where also astonished what the emperor could establish and in the Talmud it was notated:

“He who has not seen Herod’s building, has never in his life seen a truly grand building.” (Talmud-Bava Basra 4a)

In Judea the pilgrimages to Jerusalem were kept up regularly, but the principal gathering of the people was on the Sukkot festival, called “Ḥag ha-Asif” = “Festival of Gathering” (1 Kings 8:65; 2 Chronicles 7:8, 9). The people went undisturbed to Jerusalem for the festivals (Yer. Ta’an. iv. 7; Giṭ. 88a). From beyond Palestine, especially from the River Euphrates, they journeyed to Jerusalem for the festivals. Some even endangered their lives passing the guards posted to stop the pilgrimages (Ta’an. 28a; Grätz, “Gesch.” 3d ed., iii. 157, 668). The number of Jewish pilgrims to the Temple was computed by the governor Gesius Florus (64-66), who counted 256,500 paschal lambs at one Passover festival; allowing ten persons to one lamb, this would make 2,565,000 pilgrims (Josephus, “B. J.” vi. 9). The Tosefta records the census of Agrippa, who ordered the priests to take one hind leg of every paschal lamb, and counted 1,200,000 legs, which would make the total 12,000,000, (Tosef., Pes. iv. 64b). {These figures are evidently exaggerated, and are based on the desire to double the 600,000 of the Exodus, a tendency frequently noticed in the Haggadah.}  It is calculated that ancient Jerusalem comprised an area of 2,400,000 square yards, and, allowing 10 yards for each person, would contain 240,000 persons {see Luncz, “Jerusalem,” i, English part, pp. 83-102}. {Jewish Encyclopedia}

Temple servants also servants of the emperor

Having built the Temple, Herod took pains to make sure it would be run without future problems of this kind. He appointed his own High Priest, having by then put to death forty-six leading members of the Sanhedrin, the rabbinical court.

In that Holy of Holies which was covered in gold there was such a priest assigned service in the regiment of Abijah. His name was Z’kharyah or Zachariah who had a wife who descended from the daughters of Aaron. Her name was Elizabeth. Together they lived honourably before God, careful in keeping to the ways of the commandments and enjoying a clear conscience before God Who is One. He was a respected priest who could use his words to enlighten many people.
In the other buildings were the walls and columns were of white marble; the floors were of carrara marble, its blue tinge giving the impression of a moving sea of water, the congregation gathered and waited for Zachariah who did not seem to come at his regular time. They waited and waited  and became restless. what they did not know was what happened in the house, where the curtains were tapestries of blue, white, scarlet and purple thread, depicting, according to Josephus, “the whole vista of the heavens.” those heavens seemed to have opened for the priest who was astonished and did not believe his eyes and ears.

A special messenger to a priest

Unannounced, an angel of God had appeared just to the right of the altar of incense and got the priest Zachariah paralyzed in fear. But the angel reassured him not to fear because this messenger of God came to tell that their prayer to receive a child was been heard and would be answered positively.  Elisheva (Elizabeth), his wife, who also observed all the mitzvot and ordinances, but did not seemed to be blessed to have children, would bear a son by him. Both where were quite old and had passed the age of having children so Zachariah did not believe the angel Gabriel, the sentinel of God, sent especially to bring him this glad news.
As priest before God, now not believing the messenger of God, he was punished and became unable to say a word until the day of his son’s birth. He would not be able to say any word until he would be filled with the Ruach haKodesh (the Holy Spirit) when the baby would leave his mother’s womb and would get people to  rejoice when he was born, having to face the one who  was going to turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God Adonai Elohim Hashem Jehovah. That son of those old people would herald and go before his face in the spirit and power of Eliyahu (Elijah), to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to walk in the wisdom of the just; to make ready for the Most High a people prepared for him.

Dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things were performed, because he did not believe the words, which were fulfilled in their season, he went out the  sanctuary, to the waiting people, who marvelled while he tarried in the temple and saw at his face and how he behaved that something special had happened. They knew he had seen a vision. He continued speechless and had to use sign language with the people. When the course of his priestly assignment was completed, he went back home. It wasn’t long before his wife, Elizabeth, conceived. She went off by herself for five months, relishing her pregnancy.

Luke’s story of the temple priest

The physician Luke (Colossians 4:14) has generally been credited with the writership of the following account:

“5  In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. 7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well on in years. 8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshippers were praying outside. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well on in years.” 19 The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.” 21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realised he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak. 23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favour and taken away my disgrace among the people.”  (Luke 1:5-25 NIV)

Elisabeth’s other family member also receiving honour of being with child

Eastern Christianity fresco of the Visitation in St. George Church in Kurbinovo, Macedonia

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy by which God had taken away away her reproach among men or her  public disgrace, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of  Natzeret/Nazareth to an Essene young girl, a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Miryam/Miriam (the same name as the granddaughter of Hyrcanus, the Hasmonean princess). Miriam is today better known as Mary (Maria), the mother of Christ (and by many also called the mother of God, though God did not have a mother and has been for ever, so did not have a beginning as eternal Spirit).  Mary or Miryam/Miriam became pregnant with the Messiah and lost her virginity at the exact same time (her first time), thus confirming the Messiah’s physical birth (a physical to Spiritual parallel) as a First Born Son (physical for Mary and Joseph, but Spiritual for Jehovah), and legal heir to the throne of King David. This was a serious situation for the young girl, because in the East, the betrothal or engagement was entered into with much ceremony, and usually took place a year before the marriage and was so sacred that the parties entering into it could not be separated save by a bill of divorcement, which could be called in when somebody seemed to have been unfaithful. Unfaithfulness to each other was deemed adultery and could result in stoning to death.

26  In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God.” (Luke 1:26-30 NIV)

Shame over the family

Joseph or Yosef, her husband, being a righteous man,chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced, not willing to make her a public example, intended to put her away secretly. But when he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Most High appeared to him in a dream, saying,

“Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take to yourself Mary, your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She shall bring forth a son. You shall call his name Jesus, for it is he who shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21)

Not interested in Judean politics

At the time that Jewish nationalistic feelings were rising to the surface and Hellenism dominated Judea, the devote Miriam (Mary) was not interested in politics and the significant number of Greeks as well as other gentiles who adopted the Greek lifestyle who came to settle the land. As a result of Herod’s interference and the ever-spreading Hellenistic influences among the Jewish upper classes, the Temple hierarchy had become very corrupt, but her family always stayed truthful to her God, who was the God of Abraham and which she considered the Only One God, the Divine Creator. But perhaps she also might have looked forward to a solution and to their promised land and have sang:

“Maran de-bashamaya,” “Our Master in heaven, to Thee we beg, even like a captive to his master. All captives are ransomed with money; but Thy people Israel, with mercy and supplication. O grant us our request and prayer, and let us not return from Thy presence in vain.”

The Sadducees, a religious group of the wealthy, who collaborated with the Romans in order to keep their power base, now had come in control of the Temple, much to the chagrin of the mainstream Jewish majority, the Pharisees, and of the extreme religious minority, the Zealots.

Dating “Before and after Christ”

HerodtheGreat2.jpg

Basileus or King, emperor Herod the Great

Evidence for the 4 BCE date as the death of Herod in Jericho, is provided by the fact that Herod’s sons, between whom his kingdom was divided, dated their rule from 4 BCE, and Josephus tells us that Herod died after a lunar eclipse.  {Josephus, Antiquities, 17.6.4} Elisabeth and Mary having become pregnant before his death, should then also have been delivered their child before the so called Anno Domini (AD or A.D.) used to label or number years used with the Julian and Gregorian calendars.That Medieval Latin term specified more fully as Anno Domini Nostri Iesu (Jesu) Christi (“In the Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ”) was long wrongly taken as the year of birth of Christ Jesus. This Gregorian calendar dating system was devised in 525, but was not widely used until after 800, when the Trinitarians got in the majority of those who still kept to the teachings in which Miriam (Mary) strongly believed. Because BC is the English abbreviation for Before Christ, it is sometimes incorrectly concluded that AD means After Death, i.e., after the death of Jesus. However this would mean that the ~33 years commonly associated with the life of Jesus would not be present in either BC or AD time scales. {Donald P. Ryan, (2000), 15.} Others use it as “Anno Domine” “Year of the Lord” meaning Year of God an having the years BC ‘before Christ’ as the years ‘Before God’ of the “years before God his birth”, which would naturally be impossible, having God being the creator when he would not yet have been born or been in existence.

From told before

Palestine after Herod's deathIsrael had not yet seen realized the long-awaited fulfilment of the promise regarding the Seed through whom blessings would flow. (Ge 22:15-18) Israel had tried to create their won country and to liberate themselves many times from several oppressors. But their own efforts at salvation had produced nothing, unreality. They did not yet form a political nation where there could be found freedom “from enslavement to corruption” and peace for which all creation “keeps on groaning together and being in pain together.” (Romans 8:19-22; compare 10:3; 11:7.) Jehovah, their God had made Jerusalem like a woman who had been made pregnant by her husband and who brought forth numerous children. (Isaiah 54:1-8). After several prophets telling about a saviour to come the time seemed to be ripe.

Later the devout Jew and convert to the new faith, the apostle Paul quoted this prophecy of Isaiah chapter 54 and applied it to “the Jerusalem above [which] is free, and she is our mother.” (Galatians 4:26, 27)

At the end of the current time indication the stars and the moon came to stand in a situation which was predicted by the earlier prophets. Some wise men knew those predictions of a great king and noticed the signs which were predicted in many books. some started traveling and following the stars to find the right place where that king would come to earth.

They did not know that out of that simple devout woman from Nazareth would arise such a great prophet. The apostle John his vision recorded at Revelation 12:1-5 brings the pregnant heavenly “woman” to the forefront. In his revelation we can see that there is given birth to “a son, a male, who is to shepherd all the nations with an iron rod.” The shepherding of the nations with an iron rod is directly connected with the Messianic Kingdom of God, and hence the vision must relate to the producing of that Kingdom, so that, following the defeat of Satan’s attack on the newborn “child,” the ensuing cry goes forth:

“Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ.” (Revelation of the apostle John 12:10)

The anguish of the pregnant heavenly “woman” preceding the birth calls to mind Paul’s expression at Galatians 4:19, “childbirth pains” there apparently representing stirring interest and fervent desire to see full development of matters reached (in Paul’s case, the full development of the Galatian believers as Christians).

  • Lectionary sermon for 15 December 2013 (Advent 3 A) on Matthew 11:2-11 (billpeddie.wordpress.com)
    John’s undoing in this instance was that he believed Herod Antipas the Tetrarch had done something quite immoral, and despite knowing Herod Antipas’ unpleasant reputation, told him so. Herod Antipas had been named as king by Caesar Augustus on the death of his father King Herod the Great, but the Romans had decided his power should be limited and only gave him a quarter share of his father’s territory. He set about trying to win back more power by building the city of Tiberius in honour of his current patron the Emperor Tiberius. The immoral action which had offended John was that Antipas also fancied his brother’s wife, Herodias, so he divorced his own wife and married Herodias. Well it is one thing to believe the king had done wrong, but telling him so was quite another. It is understatement to say upsetting a ruthless king from a ruthless family by calling him immoral was not a wise career move and it was probably no surprise to anyone that John was now imprisoned, and, according to the historian Josephus, in the forbidding fortress Machaerus.
  • Tiberius (14-37) (mkukahiwaharuno.wordpress.com)
    During this time, Augustus’ death in 14 had then caused Tiberius to become ruler.  However, at the time of Augustus’ death, he had hesitated to take over as ruler because he felt as if he was inadequate for the position.  He had even gone as far as telling the senate that he was reluctant and inadequate to fill this role.  He was then appointed control of the Praetorian Guard.  The authority in which Tiberius had during this time since he was Augustus’ heir was also greatly and positively impacted because of his tribunician power, the fact Augustus adopted him and Augustus’ bequest to him of his estate along with one of the most important components, his name… Augustus.  However, Rome’s armies had saw the death of Augustus in a different aspect which was it simply being their way to possibly obtain munity.
  • Sorting out the Agrippinas (timesonline.typepad.com)
    One of the problems of the first century AD is that there are simply too many Agrippinas. Not only the “Elder Agrippina” (the wife of the glamorous prince Germanicus, who kept his memory alive after his suspicious death and was morally upright to the point of being a bit of a pain in the neck) and the “Younger Agrippina” (daughter of the Elder A, wife of Claudius and mother — and lover it was said — of Nero). There’s also the virtuous lady that we tend to know as Vipsania, who was the first wife of the emperor Tiberius….the one he really loved but was made to divorce in order to marry the dreadful Julia. Vipsania was actually “Vipsania Agrippina”, the daughter of Augustus’ aide, Agrippa.This last Agrippina is often missed. In fact the traditional title of the picture, below right (by Rubens, now in the National Gallery in Washington) was “Tiberius and Agrippina”… but has been changed to A0000e45“Germanicus and Agrippina”, partly because the traditional pairing seemed so odd (the Elder Agrippina hated Tiberius, whom she believed was heavily implicated in the death of Germanicus). But actually it’s a pairing that makes perfect sense if you remember it could be what we would call “Tiberius and Vipsania”. This is the sad loving couple who were forced to divorce by the imperial dynastic machine.
  • The Story of Mary and the Birth of the King (womenfromthebook.com)
    or over 500 years the nation of Israel chafed under the thumb of first one Gentile kingdom and then another—Babylon, Persia, the Greco Macedonians, and now Rome, with its absolute ruler Caesar Augustus, and Herod the Great, one of his ruthless client kings. It wasn’t unusual, particularly during Passover season, for passions to ignite as the tribes of Israel revisited the story of God’s intervention and the stunning liberation of their ancestors.  When the white-hot flames of resistance and rebellion flared, they were summarily stamped out under the cruel boot of Herod’s soldiers.Exorbitant taxation compounded the misery of oppression in pre- and first-century Palestine: the mandatory tribute to Rome; locally imposed taxes; several layers of temple tax; impromptu levies to fund military expeditions and building projects. Privation and hardship enveloped the land like a dank, smothering blanket, and peasants found themselves forced to sell their land holdings—inheritances from generations past—in order to survive. The swelling ranks of day laborers told the tale.
    +
    On a cool autumn morning sometime before Herod’s death, in the frontier town of Nazareth in Lower Galilee, a young woman prepared for a long trip to Bethlehem. Caesar Augustus called for a census, declaring “all the world should be taxed” (Luke 2:1-5) and ordered that everyone[1] must register in their ancestral home. And so, Mary, nearly full-term in her pregnancy, helped Joseph load the cart with the necessities they would need to see them through their journey to the ancient city of David.
  • Signs and Wonders (mnorth52.wordpress.com)
    Astrology boomed under the Caesars: here we had a severely autocratic regime which considered it worthwhile to be seen as “one with the gods”, and so it greatly benefited the emperors to have the legitimacy of their sovereignty literally “written in the stars.”Tiberius was no exception: having become self proficient in divination, after a dream which told him to give a large sum of money to a certain person, he decided he was the victim of enchantment, and had the man put to death. So even if you have no connection with someone (even an emperor), you could find your life terminated simply on the arbitrary say-so of interpretation of dreams. Freud no doubt would have been in his heaven among the Romans.
  • Rome’s Religion (ecpsocialstudies6.wordpress.com)
    Honoring gods was a big part of Roman life. There were thousands of Roman gods. The ancient Romans believed gods lived everywhere—in trees, by the side of the road, in a flower, under the bed, and maybe even in the oven in your house.  In ancient Rome, everything had a spirit in charge of it.
  • Tiberius Used Quantitative Easing To Solve The Financial Crisis Of 33 AD (businessinsider.com)
    Tiberius ruled the Roman Empire from 14 AD to 37 AD.  He was frugal in his expenditures, and consequently, he never raised taxes during his reign. When Cappadocia became a province, Tiberius was even able to lower Roman taxes. His frugality also allowed him to be liberal in helping the provinces when, for example, a massive earthquake destroyed many of the famous cities of Asia, or when a financial panic struck the Roman Empire in 33 AD.As with many financial panics, this one began when unexpected events in one part of the Roman world spread to the rest of the Empire. To quote Otto Lightner from his History of Business Depressions, “The important firm of Seuthes and Son, of Alexandria, was facing difficulties because of the loss of three richly laden ships in a Red Sea storm, followed by a fall in the value of ostrich feather and ivory. About the same time the great house of Malchus and Co. of Tyre with branches at Antioch and Ephesus, suddenly became bankrupt as a result of a strike among their Phoenician workmen and the embezzlements of a freedman manager. These failures affected the Roman banking house, Quintus Maximus and Lucious Vibo. A run commenced on their bank and spread to other banking houses that were said to be involved, particularly Brothers Pittius.
  • Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 22:15-21 (thedivinelamp.wordpress.com)
    Pharisees are in a special manner said to be the instigators or concocters of this scheme, to insnare our Redeemer, both, because they were most hostile to Him, and among them, especially the following captious question was agitated. Instead of being struck with feelings of dread at the punishment menaced by our Redeemer, and conceiving feelings of true sorrow, they become more hardened in their iniquity, and endeavour to insnare Him.
  • The man behind the emperor: major Augustus exhibit opens in Rome (rawstory.com)
    A political genius, a great reformer, a patron of the arts — but ancient Rome’s first emperor Augustus was also a family man, as highlighted in a new exhibition that opened in Rome this week.The show marks 2,000 years since the death of the founder of the Roman Empire and the man most associated with the “Pax Romana”, a period of immense architectural and artistic achievement.“We wanted to look at the personality of Augustus beyond the official persona,” said Daniel Roger, chief conservator at the Louvre museum in Paris, which is co-organising the exhibition in Rome.

    Through some 200 items including statues, jewelry and platters, the exhibition at the Scuderie del Quirinale delves into the emperor’s family life and tries to depict the ebullient mood of the time.

    The show brings together for the first time statues of Augustus in his attire as a divine leader and as a star general, as well as an equestrian one found in the Aegean Sea in Greece and displayed in Italy for the first time.

  • Augustus (aaam4e.wordpress.com)
    Augustus got very sick in 23 BC he died visiting his fathers grave on August 19 14 AD

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