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Posts tagged ‘Flavius Josephus’

Luke 1 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Luke 1:5-7 – Zechariah and Elizabeth

Luke 1:5-7 – Zechariah and Elizabeth

LK1:5 In the days of Herod,[1] king of Judea, there happened to be a certain priest named Zechariah[2] out of the [priestly] division of Abijah,[3] as well as his wife named Elizabeth[4] from the daughters of Aaron. LK1:6 Now they were both righteous before The God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and righteous requirements of the LORD. LK1:7 Elizabeth had never had any children as she was barren and they were both well along in years.

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[1] In the days of Herod: Luke does not begin with something obscure, as “once upon a time in a land far away.” He states the Roman appointed king of Judea, something that could be confirmed. There is considerable information in Josephus on the house of Herod and its various rulers. Though scholars disagree on the time of the death of Herod it is possible he lived until 2-1 BC, about the time of the birth of Jesus.

[2] Zechariah: Meaning “Yah Remembers.”

[3] Division of Abijah: King David divided the priests into 24 divisions. Abijah was the eighth. [1 Chronicles 24:10] Each of the divisions served for one week every six months.

[4] Elizabeth: Meaning “God of Plenty.”

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Preceding

Luke – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Introduction to the Third Gospel

Luke 1 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Luke 1:1-4 – A Factual and Logical Statement

Matthew 24 about temples or Houses of God and the end of the age

Today we start with a chapter where Jesus, after he has been discoursing all day in the courts of the temple, went out from the temple, going on his way to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples coming to him to show him the buildings of the temple. (Matthew 21:23; 24:3)

The apostle Mark let us know that the disciples particularly pointed out the stones of the temple, as well as the buildings.

“In that temple,”

says Josephus, the Jewish historian,

“were several stones which were forty-five cubits in length, five in height, and sixth in breadth”;

that is, more than seventy feet long, ten wide, and eight high. These stones, of such enormous size, were principally used in building the high wall on the east side, from the base to the top of the mountain. They were also, it is said, beautifully painted with variegated colours.

The Temple was renowned for its beauty and was considered to be one of the wonders of the world. It is written in the Talmud,

‘Whoever has not seen Herod’s Temple has never yet seen a beautiful building.’ (SB I,944).

We find the disciples on the Mount of Olives where they question the Nazarene in particular about his own future coming, the time of the desolation of God’s temple and its destruction and the sign of its advent and the end of the world (verses 1-3). They do not understand Jesus his predictions and cannot believe that the temple should be destroyed in their time. – The one by Herod I in 20 BCE. The new construction of the temple that was started was only really completed seven years before it was destroyed.

We are coming closer to the imprisonment of Christ. The writing here can well be talking about the last private school before their final gathering at the upper room. Jesus comes to talk once more about a future time, namely of the last things, and extends to the end of the world, modelled on the impending end of the Jewish Republic. But this private school is still somewhat linked to the previous lesson. – Jesus went out, as he said, and away from the temple,
in which he made the previous speech, of which the last words were that their house should be left deserted to them. Thus, these words refer back to chapter 23:38, where is mentioned that the House shall be left abandoned.

We shall find a discourse that foretells in the outset the destruction of Jerusalem (e. g., v. 15-21, v. 34); and in the conclusion certainly foretells the final coming of the son of man, with the gathering of all nations, the general judgment of mankind and the resulting permanent state of the good and the bad, (Matthew 25:31-46) in a way substantially equivalent to the predictive descriptions afterwards given by the apostles.

The question of the disciples in verse 3 was obviously misguided, because it attracts the response from Jesus

“Take heed that no man deceive you”.

which echoes the words of God to Zedekiah (Jeremiah 37:9) where he was anticipating a deliverance from the Chaldeans. – When the Romans were surrounding Jerusalem there would have been Jews who encouraged the people, falsely, saying that the Romans would not over throw the city.

Did the disciples think that the coming of Jesus, and the end of the world was to be very soon? Jesus goes to great lengths to let them in gently on the fact that the “time of the gentiles” was to come in the intervening period. (v. 6, 8, 14).

Today still many may wonder what an unfolding end with beginnings of birth pains and those rumors of wars may imply. They should remember it shall only be when the Good News of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

In this last of the five major sermons, Jesus focuses on prophetic and apocalyptic themes of judgment and the end times. The disciples have been listening to the prophetic judgment Jesus has issued on the religious leaders. They have images of collapsing temple buildings, of prophets pursued from town to town, of floggings, and of blood-soaked garments. They can imagine themselves blood-soaked. They wonder when this all will happen, and what it means.

Their master teacher Jeshua answers them to be careful that no one leads them astray, which we should take at heart also! We too must be be aware of it for many will come in Jesus name, doing as if they are the Messiah or the one who can bring people to salvation. Jesus warns for all those people, preachers and so called prophets who, by their talking and frigtening people will lead many astray. (Matthew 24:4-5,11)

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but should not directly be alarmed, for this must happen but it is not yet the end. In Scriptures many signs of times to come are notated. In the Book of books is written that nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. But all these things are only the beginning of birth pains, it is to say the start of a generation which shall come to see more. (Matthew 24:4-8)

In Scriptures is told that God provides time for man to listen to His Words, and as such, first all over the world, shall the Good News being preached, before the worst battle commences. And we should know that those who preach the Good News and worship the Only One True God, Who is One (and not two or three), shall be mocked and laughed at, and even worse being hand over to persecution and being killed. They that pronounce the Name of the Only One True God  and the true name of the Messiah, Christ (Jeshua the Messiah) will be hated by all the nations because of Jesus and his Father’s name’s sake. (Matthew 24:9-14)

We shall have to face it that many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one other. All that leading astray might happen because of people prefering to listen to false prophets and human dogma‘s instead of listening to the the Word of God and the believe in the Biblical dogma‘s. It shall all happen also because lawlessness will multiply and the love of many will grow cold, by their selfishness.
Though we might have hope, because those who endures to the end will be saved. They that take time to listen to this Good News of the kingdom which shall be proclaimed in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, shall recognise the signs when there will be great trouble such as has not happened since the beginning of the world, the end will come. We must hear and listen to the words of Jesus Christ, know and believe that for the sake of the chosen, those days will be cut short.(Matthew 24:10-14, 21-22)

Even when false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and show great signs and wonders so as to lead astray, if possible, even the chosen, we should be alert and keep tot he writings of Scripture and the call of God and His master teacher, because that last one told us beforehand. (Matthew 24:24-25)

We should know that it shall be with the coming of the Son of Man, being as lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, that we should come to see the signs clearly. Because immediately after the trouble of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light and the stars will fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
That is when the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. (Matthew 24:26-28, 29-30)
At that time all the tribes of the land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. He will send out his angels with a great shofar, and those heavenly messengers will gather his beloved faithful elect from the four corners of creation, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:30-31)

This 24th chapter concludes with a parable of a fig tree. We too should learn from that parable from the fig tree. (Matthew 24:32-33)
Jesus tells them that story because he wants to warn that generation which will not pass away until all these things happen. Though it will pass away, Jeshua’s words will never pass away. (Matthew 24:34-35) But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven nor the Son, except the Father alone, because only Jehovah God is the Only God above all gods Who knows everything. (Matthew 24:36)

Afterwards Jesus also reminds his disciples of those days before the flood, when people enjoyed all the best things of life and were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. We may not forget that at that time they did not understand until the flood came and swept them all away, but then it was too late. So shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:37-39) Then many shal be at work as well, but also find some one taken and the other one left. (Matthew 24:40-41) Therefore we all have to stay alert; for like Jesus and his disciples did not know the time of the end, we do not know what day our Lord is coming. (Matthew 24:42) But know this, that if the master of the house had known what time the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and not let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:43-44)

The chapter ends by talking about the “Faithful Servant“, a subject that can also confuse or despair many, or use some to present their leaders as that only reliable servant.
Jesus questions

“ “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?” (Mt 24:45 NIV)

and then continues with telling that the faithful and wise servant, has to be some one who takes good care of that household to give them the necessary things at the proper time (Matthew 24:45-46)

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Preceding

Matthew 11:20-24 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 5 Reproached Cities a Lesson for Judgment Day

Matthew 12:33-37 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Judgment Day

Matthew 13:36-43 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Zizania in the Field Explained

Matthew 13:47-50 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Dragnet

Matthew 16 Calvin’s view

Matthew 16 Asking for signs from heaven

Matthew 16:1-4 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Signs of the Times

Signs of the last days when difficult times will come

Matthew 23:37-39 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Jerusalem, Jerusalem – Your House Is Abandoned!

Next:

Matthew 24:1-2 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Desolation, Oppression and the Parousia – The Setting

Photo from the blog of Aaron Richert, pastor of The Church at North Pole in North Pole, Alaska. From the article: Is Matthew 24 about the Rapture?

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Additional reading

  1. Looking into the Future
  2. Prophecies over coming days
  3. Signs of the Last Days
  4. Sign of the Times and the Last Days #1 The Son of man revealing
  5. Sign of the Times and the Last Days #2 Wars, natural disasters, famine and false Messiahs
  6. Signs of the times – “An object of scorn and ridicule”
  7. The Rapture Wars
  8. Jesus … will come in the same way as you saw him go
  9. Memorizing wonderfully 35 When the son returns it shall be As it came to pass in the days of Noah
  10. Be not afraid of those trials which God may see fit to send upon thee
  11. From pain to purpose

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The ice in the photo above reminded Tekoa Manning of judgment that often is described using hail. Mexico’s second-largest city, Guadalajara, has an Arabic name meaning ‘valley of stones and also, a valley of streams.’ – Photo from Obadiah’s Cave article Comfortably Numb

Related

  1. Give Your Precious Time To God
  2. The Events of 70 AD do not Fulfill End Times Prophecies Jesus prophesied that the Great Tribulation will be the most severe time in world history. It will surpass all other times of crisis. Some seek to minimize this prophecy by reducing it to symbolism or by seeing it as being totally fulfilled in 70 AD.
    The Great Tribulation will be so severe that God shortens it to three and a half years to keep the entire human race from being physically killed (Matthew 24:21-22). One million people died in 70 AD and in World War II, 50 million died.
  3. This is Not the Way It’s Supposed To Be
  4. Abundant Fruit (Matthew 24: 6, 11)
  5. Famine
  6. Storm Clouds
  7. Stars Falling From the Sky: Figurative Language
  8. Day 159: There will be wars
  9. A Rising Called For!
  10. Fear Not!
  11. Be alert
  12. Comfortably Numb
  13. Trouble Such as Never Was before
  14. “This Generation” Shall Not Pass Away “Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled”
  15. What Did Jesus Mean When He Said “This Generation Won’t Pass Away”?
  16. The darker it gets
  17. The Olivet Discourse: For Israelis Only?
  18. The Olivet Discourse: 02 – The Destruction of the Temple Foretold
  19. The Last Days Acceleration of Time
  20. Study Guide for Matthew 24: (Matthew 24:1-2) Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple. (Mat 24:3) Jesus’ prediction brings up two questions. (Matthew 24:4-8) Jesus describes general world conditions during the period between His Ascension and the time immediately preceding His second coming. (Matthew 24:9-14) Jesus describes what His disciples must expect during the time between His Ascension and Second Coming. (Matthew 24:15) The sign: the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel.
    1. Yet when we understand the importance and what is said about this event – the abomination of desolation – we must give priority to this event, even more than the easiest interpretation of Matthew 24:34.

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  1. Explaining Matthew 24
  2. Matthew 24:1 // Reboot – The end of times
  3. Matthew 24:3 And Olivet’s Structure
  4. AND when you SEE these THINGS BEGIN
  5. Apocalypse Talks: Temporary Temples – Matthew 24:1-8
  6. Apocalypse Talks: The Fall Is Approaching – Matthew 24:9-14
  7. Apocalypse Talks: Mitigating Disaster – Matthew 24:15-22
  8. Apocalypse Talks: The Bigger Picture
  9. Apocalypse Talks: The Mean Time
  10. Armageddon, Part 3: Are there ‘signs’ that the end is coming?
  11. 11.24.19 Matthew 24 Part I
  12. 11.24.19 Matthew 24 Part III
  13. 11.24.19 Matthew 24 Part V
  14. Matthew 24:12,13
  15. Matthew 24:14
  16. Matthew 24:23,24
  17. Matthew 24:36-44 Sunday School Lessons and Activities
  18. Matthew 24 and the Fig Tree Matthew 24:32-33
  19. Three things that must happen before Jesus returns – Matthew 23:37-39; Matthew 24:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:3
  20. End Times Q&A
  21. Christ’s Coming Again to Judge
  22. Timing of Christ’s second coming
  23. Don’t Be Deceived (about the Coming of Christ)
  24. The Parable of the Fig Tree
  25. Mark 11 – Fig Tree
  26. Being a good servant – talk-notes for 27th Oct 2019
  27. Called or Chosen?
  28. Paul Explains the Second Coming
  29. Hope in the Second-Coming
  30. Faith That Is Fruitful For God

Matthew 16:13-20 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Building a Hades-Proof Congregation

Matthew 16:13-20 – Building a Hades-Proof Congregation

|| Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21

MT16:13 Upon arriving in the area of Caesarea Philippi[1] Jesus asked his disciples, “Whom do people say[2] the Son of Humankind is?” MT16:14 The disciples answered, “Some: John the Baptist;[3] others: Elijah;[4] still others: Jeremiah[5] or one of the prophets.” MT16:15 Jesus asked them, “But, you [disciples], who do you think me to be?”[6] MT16:16 Simon Peter responded, “You are the Messiah,[7] the Son of The Living God!”[8] MT16:17 Jesus replied to Peter: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jonah,[9] because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you,[10] rather it was my heavenly Father. MT16:18 And so I tell you: You are Peter[11] and upon this rock[12] I will build my Church[13] and the gates of Hades[14] will never triumph[15] over it! MT16:19 I will give you[16] [Peter] the keys of the Realm[17] of Heaven. What ever you [Peter] bind on earth[18] will be bound[19] in heaven, and whatever you release[20] upon earth will be released in heaven.” MT16:20 Then Jesus gave the disciples a rebuke[21] so that they would tell no one that he was the Messiah.[22]

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[1] Caesarea Philippi: After 70 AD, General Titus held gladiatorial shows here. He used captured Jews as victims [The Jewish War, VII, 23, 24 (ii, 1)]. The name was changed (after 70 AD) to its older name Paneas. In Arabic this became Banyas. The use of Caesar Philippi would argue the Gospel of Matthew would have had to be written before 70 AD. See the book The Jesus Papyrus. Josephus describes a deep cave filled with still water that is the spring source of the Jordan river. It was turned into royal gardens.

[2] Whom do people say: What is the talk or gossip among the crowds? The time has approached for Jesus to begin to declare himself more clearly to his disciples.

[3] John the Baptist: Compare Matthew 14:2 and Luke 9:7. Herod thought John so great he may well return from the dead.

[4] Elijah: Jesus is to explain this later. Compare Malachi 4:5.

[5] Jeremiah: Some Jews thought Jeremiah had taken the Ark of the Covenant and hid it on Mount Nebo. Tradition had it before Messiah appeared Jeremiah would return with the Ark (See 2 Maccabees 2:1-12; 2 Esdras 2:18).

[6] Who do you think me to be: After more than a year or two of association with Jesus he asks for their opinion as to his identity. Peter speaks for the apostles.

[7] You are the Messiah: Or, the Christ, that is, The Christened (Anointed) One. Likely the original in Hebrew would have been Ma·shi’ach. This designation is drawn from Psalm 2:1, Isaiah 61:1, and Daniel 9:26.

[8] The Son of The Living God: Nowhere does Peter suspect that Jesus was God Himself. Everywhere he is the “Son of The God” – the same conclusion reached by John 20:31. Peter writes later about a further confirmation of the Sonship of Christ (2 Peter 1:17). The idea of God’s Son is drawn largely from Psalm 2:6, 7 and Psalm 89:26 (Compare 2 Samuel 7:14).

[9] Simon Bar-jonah: Or, Son of Jonah. The “Bar” in place of “Ben” hints to an Aramaic original. Peter’s full name in Aramaic. “Simon” is related to the Hebrew root “hear” or “listen.”

[10] Reveal this to you: The Greek for “reveal” is APECALYPSEN. This could have been revealed to Peter by understanding, for example, Psalm 2:1, 7 (a text he later quotes in Acts 4:24f) where the Christ is also the Son of God. Additionally, he had been eyewitness to the miracles of Jesus.

[11] You are Peter: The Greek is the masculine “Rock.” Or, NEB: Peter, the Rock; TCNT: Peter, a rock.

[12] This rock: Or, TCNT: Your name is Peter, a rock, and upon this Rock I will build my Church; WMS: your name from now on is to be Peter, Rock, and on a massive rock like this I will build my Church; MON: you are Petros (a rock), and on this petra (rock) I will build my church. The Greek has PETRA here, the feminine of Petros. Some view this as Peter (Barclay), other’s Christ (Augustine). The Catholic view is that the Church would be built upon the rock Peter. Some Protestants make much of the masculine and feminine differences of the two words (PETROS, PETRA). However, the context seems directed at Peter in these verses; and, the facts in Acts indicate Peter’s prominence in presenting the Evangel to first the Jews, then the Samaritans, and, finally, the Non-Jews (Galatians 2:7).

[13] I will build my Church: The Greek ECCLESIA is recognizable throughout Europe as the word for a “church.” Some render it “congregation” or “assembly.” The word means EK(=out)KALEO(=call). The old Scottish word “church” is from KIRK an Anglicization of the Greek KYRIOS (Lord).

[14] The gates of Hades: Research the word HADES for details. Or, KJV: hell; GDSP: powers of death; LAM: doors of Sheol. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:50-55.

[15] Never triumph: Or, KJV: no prevail; GDSP: not subdue; WMS: never overthrow; WEY: no triumph over.

[16] I will give you: The Greek “you” is singular and refers to Peter. Note the immediate context is the rock upon which Jesus will build his Church.

[17] The keys of the Realm: Not the keys of heaven as in the mistaken traditional picture. Rather, it refers to the door into the Church, or the realm of profession. Some take these keys as three in number and reference their use in Acts chapters 2, 8, and 10 – the Jews, Samaritans, and Non-Jews as the first members of the church or kingdom of Christ (Colossians 1:13).

[18] What ever you [Peter] bind on earth: An example of this is seen in the cases of the lying materialists Ananias and Sapphira (Acts chapter 5).

[19] Bound: Or, KJV: bind; RIEU: forbid; MOF: prohibit.

[20] Release: Or, KJV: loose; RIEU: allow; MOF: permit; TCNT: allow. Compare John 20:23 and Matthew 18:18.

[21] A rebuke: Or, KJV: strictly charged; KNX: strictly forbade; BECK: warned; NEB: strict orders. It is not a mere suggestion. Another rebuke, even more stern, is about to happen.

[22] Tell no one that he was the Messiah: Though the disciples understand the fundamental truth that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God they still do not comprehend other prophetic truths which will now be explained. The Nazarene wanted people to arrive at their own conclusions without a public proclamation. The disciples were not yet ready to explain all that being the Messiah meant as the account goes on to demonstrate in Peter’s case. Jesus gives this warning several times (Matthew 8:4; Mark 7:36; 8:30; 9:9; Luke 5:14; 8:56; 9:21)..

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Preceding

Matthew 16 Asking for signs from heaven

Matthew 16 Calvin’s view

Matthew 16 Spurgeon’s view

Matthew 16:1-4 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Signs of the Times

Matthew 16:5-12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Watch Out for the Leaven of False Teaching

Matthew 2:16-18 – Slaughter of the Innocents

Matthew 13:44 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Treasure

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Additional reading

  1. A rich history of ancient and Biblical Jordan to explore
  2. Self inflicted misery #4 To whom to listen
  3. Self inflicted misery #5 A prophet without a hedge around him
  4. Jesus begotten Son of God #3 Messiah or Anointed one
  5. Jesus begotten Son of God #16 Prophet to be heard
  6. The saviour Jesus his human side
  7. Marriage of Jesus 8 Wife of Yahweh
  8. Memorizing wonderfully 31 Son of David and God’s Kingdom
  9. Servant of his Father
  10. Anointing of Christ as Prophetic Rehearsal of the Burial rites
  11. United people under Christ
  12. Congregate, to gather, to meet
  13. Congregation – Congregatie
  14. Meeting – Vergadering
  15. Democratic principles for the church of today
  16. Intentions of an Ecclesia

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Related

  1. A sheep or not a sheep?
  2. Do You love Me?
  3. Ministry of Congregating
  4. All you, people
  5. In the Congregation
  6. Church?
  7. Bearing Witness
  8. DNA in a Congregation
  9. The Beauty of “The Church”
  10. Counting the cost: Mark 14
  11. Study | Church Beginnings
  12. 1A. Called To Be a Disciple
  13. 3. Confessed Jesus To Be the Christ
  14. Fact vs Fiction: Who was the Apostle Peter?
  15. Simon Called Peter
  16. Jesus Commissions Peter
  17. Peter the First Pope?
  18. Simon Peter and Pope Peter the same?
  19. The ‘Simon Peter’ Paradox
  20. Simon Peter is Cool
  21. 1B. Appointed To Be an Apostle
  22. Michael Kok: Hinderance to Petrine Authorship of 1 Peter
  23. The Calling and Ministry of Peter – A Night of Worship/Illustrated Sermon
  24. Study | Experiencing Glory

Matthew 16:5-12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Watch Out for the Leaven of False Teaching

Matthew 16:5-12 – Watch Out for the Leaven of False Teaching

|| Mark 8:14-21; Luke 12:1

MT16:5 Now the disciples arrived on the other side of the lake and they forgot to bring loaves of bread with them. MT16:6 So, Jesus told them, “Watch and pay attention regarding the leaven[1] of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” MT16:7 The disciples now carried on a dialogue among themselves, “We brought no loaves of bread.” MT16:8 Realizing what they were talking about, Jesus said to them, “Men of very small faith,[2] why are you having this dialogue just because you did not bring loaves of bread? MT16:9 Do you not perceive[3] or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many surplus baskets you gathered? MT16:10 Or the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many surplus baskets you gathered? MT16:11 Why do you not realize that I was not speaking about loaves of bread? Rather, be alert regarding[4] the ‘leaven’ of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” MT16:12 Then the disciples finally got the point that Jesus was not talking about the leaven of loaves but rather the teaching of[5] the Pharisees and Sadducees.

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[1] Leaven: Compare Mark 8:15 where Jesus includes the party followers of Herod; and, Luke 12:1 where “hypocrisy” is included. See notes on Matthew 13:33.

[2] Men of very small faith: See notes on Matthew 8:26.

[3] Do you not perceive: One gets the feeling that the miracle of feeding the crowds was more of an object lesson for the apostles.

[4] Be alert regarding: Jesus believed in Biblical Truth and made no effort to compromise his teachings with others. He wanted his disciples to pay close attention to what others taught and view as ‘leaven’ (or corrupt doctrines) those teachings or manners which did not line up with his own teachings.

[5] The teaching of: Jesus has mentioned three groups in this context. Regarding the Pharisees (self-righteous conservatives) Josephus records: “And so great is (the Pharisees’) influence with the masses that even when they speak against a king or high priest, they immediately gain credence.” [Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 288 (x, 5)] “They believe that souls have power to survive death and that there are rewards and punishments under the earth for those who have led lives of virtue or vice: eternal imprisonment is the lot of evil souls, while the good souls receive an easy passage to a new life.” (Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 14 [i, 3]) “Every soul, they maintain, is imperishable, but the soul of the good alone passes into another body, while the souls of the wicked suffer eternal punishment.… [The Pharisees] attribute everything to Fate and to God; they hold that to act rightly or otherwise rests, indeed, for the most part with men, but that in each action Fate co-operates.” [The Jewish War, II, 162, 163 (viii, 14)]

            Sadducees (liberal free-thinkers) ‘denied the workings of fate, maintaining that an individual, by his own actions, was solely responsible for what befell him.’ [Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 172, 173 (v, 9)] They ‘rejected the many oral traditions observed by the Pharisees and also Pharisaic belief in the immortality of the soul and in punishments or rewards after death. In their dealings with one another, the Sadducees were somewhat rough. They were said to be disputatious. According to Josephus, their teachings appealed to the wealthy.’ [Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 298 (x, 6); XVIII, 16, 17 (i, 4); The Jewish War, II, 162-166 (viii, 14)]

            Herodians (political) are unknown in secular history but much involved in the politics of Jesus’ homeland. Compare Matthew 12:9-14; Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 20:21-26.

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Preceding

Matthew 12:9-21 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Is It Lawful to Cure on the Sabbath?

Matthew 13:33 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Fermented Whole

Matthew 16 Asking for signs from heaven

Matthew 16 Calvin’s view

Matthew 16 Spurgeon’s view

Matthew 16:1-4 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Signs of the Times

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Hebrew inscriptions on ancient slab of marble near Lake Kinneret

Israeli archaeologists find Hebrew inscriptions on ancient slab of marble near the Galilean Sea

In December 2015 Hebrew inscriptions were discovered on an ancient piece of rare marble discovered by Israeli archaeologists during an excavation on the shores of Lake Kinneret [which is 64 sq mi (166 sq km), extending 13 miles (21 km) from north to south and 7 miles (11 km) from east to west, it is pear-shaped]. The lake is c.700 ft (210 m) below sea level and occupies a downwarped basin being fed and drained by the Jordan River.

The finding of the 1,500-year-old slab in the great depression of the Jordan, dug up by scientists in Kursi confirms historians’ belief that the ancient village of Kursi was inhabited either by Jews or Christians.

Kursi is located in Golan Heights

English: Tilapia zilli (redbelly tilapia, &quo...

Tilapia zilli (redbelly tilapia, “St. Peter’s fish”), typical serving in a Tiberias restaurant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kursi lies on the eastern shore of Israel’s most important source of drinking water. Today it is also known for the Talmudic site which is located near the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee (also Sea of Chinnereth or Chinneroth, Kinneret, from the Old Testament or Hebrew Tanakh “sea of Kinneret” in Numbers 34:11 and Joshua 13:27, also known as Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias) on the bank of a river bed, Nahal Samakh, descending from the Golan Heights, where one can find the ruins of a 5th century monastery and its church, staying in use throughout the Byzantine period (in Israeli-Judaic terms: the Mishnaic and Talmudic periods). In the New Testament the lake is named variously from nearby geographical features – Galilee, Gennesaret, or Tiberias. The lake was the source of a thriving fishing industry in the time of Christ. The fish life of the Sea of Galilee has an affinity with that of the East African lakes. Fish species to be found today include damselfish, scaleless blennies, catfish, mouthbreeders, tilapia or ‘St. Peter’s fish‘ and barbels.

PikiWiki Israel 19333 Geography of Israel.jpg

Tiberias, Tveria, Tiveria, Israeli city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee

The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote of nine cities on the shores of the lake in ancient times, but of those only one of the four Jewish holy cities, the Israeli city on the western shore Tiberias has survived. Kefar Naḥum (ancient Capernaum), near the northwestern shore, has preserved one of the most beautiful synagogues of the Galilee region, dating from the 2nd and 3rd centuries ce. A sanctuary for the Druze (an independent sect founded in the 11th century with a creed containing elements of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) is located near the Moshav shitufi Kefar Ḥittim near the western shore.

The finding of the 1,500-year-old slab with Hebrew text is the first indication that there was a Jewish presence, and it reinforces the belief that the town of Kursi was the place where Jesus performed the ‘Miracle of the Swine.’ At this place Jesus healed one or two men possessed by demons by driving these into a herd of pigs (Mark 5:1-20, Matthew 8:28–34, Luke 8:26-39). The apostle look at the miracle from a different angle and as such details differ somewhat in the three gospels dealing with the episode, and again some more in different ancient manuscripts of those same gospels. The events take place in the land of either the Gerasenes, Gadarenes or Gergesenes located near the modern city of Jerash, Jordan (Mark 5:1, Matthew 8:28, Luke 8:26). Exorcised was either one man (Mark and Luke) or two (Matthew). The whole herd of swine subsequently ran into the Sea of Galilee and perished.

English: Kursi, Israel

Kursi, Israel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Israeli archaeologist Dan Urman started his research when in 1970 by road construction the labourers bumped on the ruins of a monastery. The major excavation took place between 1971 and 1974. Dan Urman and his Greek colleague Vassilios Tzaferis for the Israel Antiquities Authority excavated the largest Byzantine monastic complex found in Israel. Further excavations have since been taking place, the marble-lined bath-house being one of the more recent discoveries.

Prof. Michal Artzi of Haifa University and Dr. Haim Cohen in concert with the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority supervised the recent excavations and finding of the stone slab.

Photo courtesy: Haifa University/Jennifer Munro

Slab of marble with Hebrew inscription found in Kursi – Haifa University/Jennifer Munro

Further reading

  1. 1,500-year-old marble tablet at the Sea of Galilee suggesting place was once a Jewish or Jewish-Christian settlement
  2. Kursi, Northeast Shore of the Sea of Galilee: Hebrew inscriptions found
  3. Excavations Near the Sea of Galilee Uncover Evidence of Where Jesus Miraculously Cast Out Legions of Demons Into a Herd of Pigs
  4. The Five Most Beautiful Places in Israel
  5. Murals I created for a sukkah: panels 1, 2, 3, showing Sea of Galilee, Golan Heights
  6. The Golan Trail
  7. ‘Israel concerned with build-up of Iranian forces in Syria near Golan border’
  8. Islamic State gaining ground on Golan border as moderate rebels wither
  9. Giant Oil Deposit Found in Southern Golan
  10. Let me understand: Rothschild takes the Oil in the Golan, Israel takes the Middle East and we Europeans should take the immigrants?
  11. Why don’t they bargain like this: The Russian Federation keeps Crimea, Israel keeps the Golan and Assad keeps the rest of Syria. And the war ends.
  12. Israel is braced for Russian aerial intrusions over its Golan border
  13. Israel to annex Golan Heights after ‘billion barrel’ oil find
  14. The IDF starts training drill on Golan Monday night

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