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Posts tagged ‘Elizabeth – Elisheva’

Old language to confirm the promises

Once more in the Gospel we do find that a person speaks in language borrowed from a half dozen verses in the Hebrew Bible.

At the birth of his son, several times Zechariah or Zachariah, draws from the historical psalms. Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied that by this birth the God of Israel came and set His people free.  It was not God who came on the earth with John the Baptist, but his body was caused to be there on earth by his heavenly Father, Who set the power of salvation in the centre of our lives, and in the very house of David his servant. The priest tells us that this is just as the Most High Elohim promised long ago through the preaching of His holy prophets.

The priest knew that the Only One God is a god of His Word; Everything the God of gods promises comes true. Therefore the world should know that deliverance from our enemies and every hateful hand and mercy to our fathers shall also come true, as He remembers to do what He said He’d do.
Now God was going to make the horn of David to bud as he had ordained a lamp for His anointed.

“”Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for my anointed one.” (Psalms 132:17 NIV)

“He remembers his covenant for ever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations,” (Psalms 105:8 NIV)

“For He remembered His holy promise and Abraham His servant.” (Psalms 105:42 KJ21)

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” (Deuteronomy 7:9 NIV)

“and He remembered for them His covenant, and repented according to the multitude of His mercies.” (Psalms 106:45 KJ21)

“to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant,” (Luke 1:72 KJ21)

The child of Elizabeth/Elisheva and Zechariah is recognised by his father as a “Prophet of the Highest,” who will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways. He would become the man to present the offer of salvation to his people, the forgiveness of their sins. The child grew up, healthy and spirited. He lived out in the desert until the day he made his prophetic début in Israel.

The people of God had to know now the time was coming that Jehovah God His Decree would be established. A truly righteous David-Branch would by the Word of God become into being. The Holy Spirit, God His Force had taken care that a child could come into the world that would become a ruler who knows how to rule justly. He’ll make sure of justice and keep people united.  Seventy sevens were set for the people and for the holy city to throttle rebellion, stop sin, wipe out crime, set things right forever, confirm what the prophet saw, and anoint The Holy of Holies.

“”The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” (Jeremiah 23:5 NIV)

“”Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.” (Daniel 9:24 NIV)

The  the iniquity of the house of Judah,  the house of Israel could be beard again. Remembering His covenant God now took it in His hands and used those people Zechariah, Elizabeth and Mary to bring in fulfilment what He had promised at the beginning of the universe, in the Garden of Eden. His Word could come in fulfilment with the birth of John the Baptist and his nephew Jesus (Jeshua).

“He remembers his covenant for ever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations,” (Psalms 105:8 NIV)

“for their sake he remembered his covenant and out of his great love he relented.” (Psalms 106:45 NIV)

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Preceding articles:

Nazarene Commentary to Elizabeth Pregnant

Nazarene Commentary Luke 1:46-56 – Mary Magnifies God

Nazarene Commentary Luke 1:57-66 – Elizabeth Gives Birth To John

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Find also to read:

  1. God’s Salvation
  2. Waiting for Gods Salvation
  3. The Christ, the anointed of God

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File:Lucas Cranach the Elder, his studio? - The Birth of John the Baptist - Google Art Project.jpg

The Birth of John the Baptist – 1518, Workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553)

 

  • Luke 1:11-20 NIV – Miracles often depend on faith (pagprayer.wordpress.com)
    Zechariah serves in the temple only twice a year, but only once does he get to assist in the daily offering by going into the holy place.  Out of all of the priests (studies indicate that there were about 18,000 priests), today is the day Zechariah is in the temple, among people who are praying.  His job this day is to offer incense, in the holy place, symbolizing intercession rising up to God.  And Zechariah’s prayer is being answered.  In the midst of worship, God moves.
  • Luke 1:57-80 (oh-mag.com)
    As we read in Luke 1:17, Gabriel had given this exact account to Zechariah on the day that his speech was taken for disbelief. Now knowing that these things were indeed coming to pass, the first words out of Zechariah’s mouth are ones of praise and amazement. In verse 68 he speaks of the Messiah directly, knowing that redemption is at hand (remember, Jesus is just about to be born).  He exclaims that God is in their midst, and that He has not abandoned them.  In verse 69 the prophet says that God has raised up a horn (referring to strength) of salvation from the line of David.  As we have read in Matthew, Jesus does in fact fulfill this role as being in the lineage of David.  Inside Zechariah’s prophecy, we are being reminded of a past prophecy, found in Psalm 132 which talks about the future Messiah and his place of birth and reign.
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    Matthew 1:1-17

    There were no accidents, no mistakes, and no second plans as God laid out for all eternity the plans that brought forth a man who fulfilled over 1000 prophecies by the time of His death.  Let us consider the truths that Matthew is going to lay out before us as he makes the case that Christ is Messiah.

  • The Inerrancy of the Bible (924jeremiah.wordpress.com)
    In the Church, we witness God’s will happening amid human mistakes all the time. Sincere worship leaders play the wrong chords on their guitars. Obedient prophets get caught up in passion and embellish His message. Pastors lose their train of thought in the middle of an inspired sermon. Earnest theologians publish false teachings that they later wish they could retract. Evangelists mistake God’s promptings and present the Gospel message to souls who are already saved. Dynamic Sunday School teachers get stumped by a question that a child asks them. Christian publishers crank out books with glaring typos and spelling errors. Does the presence of error mean that God can’t be at work? Of course not. Human beings are imperfect bumblers. After we are saved, God chooses to let us keep on bumbling as He works through us to accomplish many good things. Our mistakes don’t slow Him down. Our immaturity doesn’t prevent Him from accomplishing His goals. If God isn’t threatened by mistakes, why should we be? Why does the Bible have to be perfect in order for it to be of value? Why can’t it still be Divinely inspired even if it has some obvious flaws?
  • Luke 1:67-69 – His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, (church4u2.wordpress.com)
    God is looking for the Zechariah’s of our day to fill them with His Holy Spirit and use them in amazing ways.
  • Morning Prayer 12.26.13: St. Stephen, Deacon and Martyr (dailyoffice.org)
    You have made my friend a bearer of your love for me; I see the light you made to shine in him. Shower my friend with blessings today, O Lord; make me worthy to receive the gifts he brings each time we’re together, and help me return in full measure the love I feel for him. You have made us one in your Spirit, O Lord; thanks be to God.
  • The Choice Mary Made (backseatwriter.wordpress.com)
    God created Mary, so He undoubtedly already knew how she would react to Gabriel’s proclamation that she would be the virgin to bear the long-awaited Messiah.But what if she had said no?  Could Mary have said, “No, you’ve got the wrong girl”?  Would there have been a Moses-like moment where God said that He created her womb, like He created Moses’ mouth?  If she had tried to flee, would God have brought her back with a Jonah and the big fish sort of event?  Could Mary have wrestled with an angel like Jacob?
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    Often times we don’t get to choose what diseases befall us, what those closest to us will do to cause us pain, or how the world will beat us up.  But we can choose how we react, knowing and trusting nothing escapes God’s loving attention.  When baby Jesus was finally born and presented in the temple, Mary was told her blessing was a double-edged sword.  Her heart would be pierced, just as her Son would be pierced for our transgressions.  My sins and yours.  The world’s greatest gift also came with huge responsibility, pain, and suffering.
  • Vayetze (rockofisraelweeklyparasha.wordpress.com)
    The answer to Jacob’s ladder right before your eyes! Yeshua (Jesus) is the ladder! He was sent to Earth to atone for our sins as the perfect Lamb of G-d, G-d raised Him from the dead through the power of the Ruach HaKodesh, Yeshua went up to Heaven to serve as our King, Priest and Prophet. Moshiach is soon to Return! Oh mishpachah, can you see it? Yeshua is the Son of G-d, our Messiah! We pray through the Name of Yeshua and our prayers go up to HaShem in Heaven, and the answer is sent down to earth through Yeshua’s Name!
  • Fourth Sunday in Advent: Dec. 22 (prayerscapes.wordpress.com)
    The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.
  • Tuesday, December 24, 2013 Advent Weekday (catholicquotesblog.wordpress.com)
  • You Prisoners Of Hope, I Will Restore Twice as Much to You (smritidisaac.wordpress.com)

Nazarene Commentary Luke 1:26-38 – Gabriel’s Appearance to Mary

Luke 1:26-38 – Gabriel’s Appearance to Mary

LK1:26 Now in Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy the angel Gabriel was sent from God to the village of Galilee called Nazareth, LK1:27 to a virgin[1] [Isaiah 7:14] promised in marriage to a man named Joseph of David’s House. And the name of the virgin was Mary.[2] LK1:28 Approaching Mary, Gabriel said to her: “Greetings, favored one! The LORD is with you!” LK1:29 At this statement Mary was very puzzled and kept wondering what this greeting meant. LK1:30 Then the angel Gabriel said to Mary: “Do not be frightened, Mary, for you have found favor with God. LK1:31 And, behold, you will conceive in your womb and will give birth to a son, and you will give him the name Jesus.[3] LK1:32 He will become a renowned person[4] and will be called a son of the Most High.[5] [Psalm 82:6] YHWH The God[6] will give to him David’s throne,[7] [Isaiah 9:7] LK1:33 and he will reign over Jacob’s House throughout the Ages. There will never be an end to his kingdom.” [Daniel 2:44] LK1:34 But in response Mary said to the angel Gabriel: “How can this be[8] since I have never known a man?” LK1:35 So the angel answered her: “Holy Pneuma[9] will come over you and the Most High’s power will overshadow you. As a result the One to be born will be also called Holy, God’s Son.[10] [Psalm 89:26] LK1:36 Now, look, your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age and this is now the sixth month of her so-called barrenness. LK1:37 For no message from God is impossible.”[11] [Genesis 18:14] LK1:38 Then Mary said: “Look, YHWH’s slave![12] May it all take place with me just as you say!” And the angel Gabriel left her.


[1] Virgin: Possibly borrowed from Isaiah 7:14 where a PARTHENON is foretold. For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 on Matthew 1:23.

[2] Mary: For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 on Matthew.

[3] Jesus: The traditional form of the Greek IESOUS here. The Hebrew form is Yeshua {BS note: contemporary writing in many languages: Jeshua} and means “Yehowah is Salvation.” It is the same as the name Joshua. Some argue over the exact form. Accents in pronunciation of foreign languages persist no matter the tongue. It seems unreasonable to many that God would insist every word translated from the Hebrew Bible must be spoken in a Hebrew accent. Even the accents of Jews differed in the 1st Century just as they do in English and Spanish in different places.

[4] Renowned person: Or, great.

[5] A son of the Most High: Or, [the] Most High’s Son, Son of the Highest, Son of the Most High. The Greek is HUIOS YPSISTOU with the article. Compare a similar phrase at Psalm 82:6.

[6] YHWH The God: The Greek is KYRIOS HO THEOS without the article and may indicate the Tetragram originally occurred here.

[7] David’s throne: An echo of Isaiah 9:7. Compare also 2 Samuel 7:12; Psalm 132:11; Jeremiah 23:5.

[8] How can this be: Note Mary is not rebuked for her question while Zechariah was.

[9] Holy Pneuma: Or, holy spirit. Note the Pneuma is paralleled with God’s “power.” For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 on Holy Pneuma; compare 1 Corinthians 2:16.

[10] God’s Son: Or, the Son of God. The Greek is HUIOS THEOU with the article. Compare Psalm 2:7; 89:26.

[11] For no message from God is impossible: Or, word, declaration. It echoes Genesis 18:14. [Psalm 115:3]

[12] YHWH’s slave: Or, handmaid. The Greek is DOULE KYRIOU.

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Preceding articles:

Nazarene Commentary to Elizabeth Pregnant

Story of Jesus’ birth begins long before the New Testament

Next: Nazarene Commentary Luke 1:39-45 – Mary Visits Elizabeth

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File:Piero della Francesca 002.jpg

Fresco cycle of the “Legend of the Holy Cross” in the choir of San Francesco in Arezzo. Detail: Annunciation – Piero della Francesca (1420–1492) – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002.

  • Mary and the Angel Gabriel (ts4jc.wordpress.com)
    while the responsibility that Mary was facing was indeed daunting, while the questions about her reputation and the reaction of Joseph indeed induced anxiety, she also felt the joy and humble gratitude that God had chosen her to be the one to have the honor of giving birth to the long-awaited Messiah. This, along with the encouragement of Gabriel and later Elizabeth, were gifts from God that helped her bear the burden. The revelation by dream to Joseph about how the child was conceived added the final and perhaps most necessary support, for Joseph would now provide for their everyday needs and social covering.
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    Mary is betrothed to Joseph and has pledged herself to him. To break any vow under Mosaic Law is serious sin. Since betrothal was more than our engagement, it was the preliminary part of the marriage process, to break that vow was doubly serious. Legally, only the husband could break it by a bill of divorce, and the wife’s parents could insist on him paying a fine for doing so.
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    While the KJV translates that as “virgin” in four of the seven times it appears in the Old Testament, the other three times it is translated as “maid” or “damsel”: in other words any young woman who has reached marriageable age, or even one who is newly married. Apparently, it is the latter meaning that most Jews give to this verse.Therefore Mary would not have expected the angel’s answer, that the child would be born of the Holy Spirit. To her the only answers appear to violate the Law or at least do something unconventional. At best, perhaps the answer she was hoping for, Joseph would have to agree to shorten the betrothal period and move up the marriage. However, to many people, that would still be scandalous, for what other reason to do so besides Mary’s obvious pregnancy in a few months?
  • An Angel named Gabriel. (amylwestdavidson.wordpress.com)
    Mary must have been a young woman of incredible faith. I once heard that we don’t know for sure that Mary was the first young girl that God had picked as the mother of Jesus, she may have just been the first one that accepted what God had asked. Just a teenager, engaged to be married, and given a message directly from God. From an angel.Far too often, we don’t hear when God is speaking to us. We are all sent messages from him, we need to learn to listen. The message might not be as world-changing- or even life-changing – as the message Mary got that day, but if God is trying to talk to us, we should listen.
  • Angels Spoke to Mary and Joseph (ccwckidology.wordpress.com)
    Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy and decided to divorce her quietly, but an angel visited Joseph and encouraged him to follow God’s plan and let the marriage take place as planned. God’s plan was far greater than Joseph’s plan.What were Mary and Joseph’s roles in God’s plan? God had chosen Mary and Joseph to be the earthly parents of Jesus. The baby Jesus fulfilled the prophecies about the Messiah in Isaiah 7:14. This was one of many Old Testament prophecies which Jesus fulfilled.
  • A Christmas Story – Day #1 – Isaiah 40:1-11 And Luke 1:26-38 (tomhuff.wordpress.com)
    3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
    4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
    5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
  • Messianic Prophecies (frommyheart2u.wordpress.com)

    Following her initial fear and reasoning she made that profound statement of surrender, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” She was not only fully surrendered to the will of God, but she was ready also! Was not her’s the attitude every true child of God should have at all times?  Approximately 33 years later, her Son would utter a similar prayer “Father not my will but Thy will be done.”  Let’s unify the two and pray today, ” Be it unto me according to Thy word, not  my will, but Thy will be done.”

  • Mary Did You Know? (devotionsinmotion.wordpress.com)
    remember Zechariah was rendered speechless for questioning Gabriel’s message from God.  I find it interesting; Mary asked the same question as Zechariah.  How can this be?  Zechariah and Elizabeth were old.  Mary was a virgin.  Both life altering decrees were impossible apart from a miracle.  The priest was dumb struck and the girl was given an explanation.  Doesn’t it make you wonder why Zechariah was dealt with so severely and Mary was given such grace?  Did it have to do with the fact that Zechariah had walked and talked with God for so long, and Mary was so young? God knows how He must deal with each of His children.  He allows whatever will bring the most glory to Him.
  • An Angel’s Conversation (heartstreamssinglesandmarried.wordpress.com)
    before she was formed in the womb Yahweh knew her and she has been carved and purposed for this end, she is just beginning to know It, but it wasn’t a secret to all of us who serves the father directly on the throne
    +”we often guide men to whom they will marry , since heaven has a plan for every of their marriages but you know them, the fall has complicate things, they all choose whomsoever and how so ever, that is why so much chaos exist in their marriages “whaoh! But why can’t someone tell them about it” Lamented Felixa
  • Foretold & Fulfilled: A Youth Christmas Program (seelsorge40.com)
    The story of Jesus’ birth begins long before the New Testament. In fact, it goes back all the way before creation (Ephesians 1:4). Today’s youth program begins in the Garden of Eden, where right after the fall into sin, God reveals the first promise of the coming Savior to Adam (Genesis 3:15). We continue by hearing the promise of the Savior’s birth to Abraham (Genesis 12, 17, & 22), Moses (Deuteronomy 18), David (2 Samuel 7, Psalm 132), the Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah, and Malachi), and Mary (Luke 1:26—38). We then behold the fulfillment of the promise with the birth of our Lord in Bethlehem (Luke 2). The program concludes with words from St. Paul from Acts 13, who declares the fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises in Jesus.
  • The Events Surrounding the Birth of Christ (eternallysecure.wordpress.com)
    Before Jesus was to be born John the Baptist had to be born first. He would be the forerunner for Christ, the coming Messiah preaching a message of repentance. This is often overlooked during the Christmas season.

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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