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Posts tagged ‘Passover festival’

The Most important weekend of the year 2018

Soon we shall gather to remember two major instances in the history of the People of God. The first remembrance is the liberation from the slavery in Egypt, where God gave enough signs so that people could come to recognise Who is the Most High God above all gods. The second celebration is that of the Jewish master teacher Jeshua (Jesus Christ) who came together at the upper room to remember the Exodus from Egypt but also to install a special moment, namely bringing some symbols in the light of the evening.

Some disciples close to this master teacher had seen how their master had come typically to the Jews in the end of their age as Prophet, (teacher) as Priest (“when he offered up Himself,” `Heb_7:27`.) and as King. (When he rode into their city at the close of his ministry.) But those disciples could see how the moment of glory was very short and how their Jewish brethren did not receive their master in any of these forms.

For a short time they had walked with him and had witnessed miracles. For them it was clear they had some one in front of them who was

“a teacher sent from God“.

They looked up at him, but still expected him to be  a warrior who would defeat the Romans and would become their “King” or ruler.

The Jewish “Feast of Passover” commenced on the fifteenth day of their month Nisan and lasted seven days. Though before that day, there was the the killing of the lamb on the 14th of Nisan, which shall be this coming Friday, March 30, Erev Pesach or Fast of the First born, followed by Nisan 15, 5778 or Pesach 1.

Having the Friday and Saturday the remembrance moments of the liberation of the Jews and the Gentiles, we should jubilate. You could think we should be sad, because Jesus would be slaughtered as a lamb, but we do know that by his offering we were bought free. By his offering at the stake freedom came over mankind, him making an end to the curse of death. And that should bring happiness in our hearts, also three days later mankind got the proof that a man could get out of the dead.

In case Jesus would have been God we would not have any proof that man could resurrect from the death. But now with this man of flesh and blood, the world could see how God had lifted him and has given him a very special place.

Jesus had told his disciples a lot about how to behave and how to treat others, like the homeless, the poor, the needy and how to handle the material provisions, wealth, prosperity, riches, but also poverty and to be prepared to live a life for God. They had heard strange things, like that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. They also had heard that when when their master, the Son of Man, would be sitting on his glorious throne, they who had followed him would also come to sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  (Matthew 19:27-30)

They were so convinced they would come to see that kingdom in their lifetime, but that night this man talked about his death, him leaving them. He took bread and spoke about this being his body. They knew Jesus did not turn the bread into his literal flesh and the wine into his real blood. Jesus’ fleshly body was still intact when he offered this bread and wine. Jesus’ apostles were not really eating his literal flesh and drinking his blood, for that would have been cannibalism and a violation of God’s law. (Genesis 9:3, 4; Leviticus 17:10)

According to Luke 22:20, Jesus said:

“This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf.”

The apostles never thought that the cup presented to them literally would have become “the new covenant”. They knew that would be impossible, since a covenant is an agreement, not a tangible object.

Hence, both the bread and the wine have to be looked at as only symbols. The bread symbolizes Christ’s perfect body. Jesus used a loaf of bread left over from the Passover meal. The loaf was made without any leaven, or yeast. (Exodus 12:8) The Bible often uses leaven as a symbol of sin or corruption. The bread therefore represents the perfect body that Jesus sacrificed. It was free of sin.​—Matthew 16:11, 12; 1 Corinthians 5:6, 7; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 2:1, 2.

The red wine represents Jesus’ blood. That blood makes valid the new covenant. Jesus said that his blood was poured out

“for forgiveness of sins.”

Jesus made it clear that humans can become clean in God’s eyes and can enter into the new covenant with Jehovah. (Hebrews 9:14; 10:16, 17) Jesus was convinced that God would accept his offering and consider his act as a covenant, or contract.

Let us come together Friday night to remember that special sent one from god who was willing to give his life for our sins.

 

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Preceding articles

Preparing for the most important weekend of the year 2018

Voorbereiding op het belangrijkste weekend van het jaar 2018

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Additional reading

  1. Commemorating the escape from slavery
  2. First month of the year and predictions
  3. Entrance of a king to question our position #2 Who do we want to see and to be
  4. Seven Bible Feasts of JHWH
  5. Preparation for Passover
  6. The Atonement in Type and Antitype 1 Sacrifices and High Priests
  7. The Atonement in Type and Antitype 2 Going forth to Jesus
  8. 9 Adar and bickering or loving followers of the Torah preparing for Pesach
  9. Making sure we express kedusha for 14-16 Nisan
  10. This day shall be unto you for a memorial and you shall keep it a feast to the Most High God
  11. Days of Nisan, Pesach, Pasach, Pascha and Easter
  12. Yom Hey, Eve of Passover and liberation of many people
  13. 8 Reasons Christian Holidays Should Not Be Observed
  14. Shabbat Pesach service reading 1/2
  15. Who Would You Rather Listen To?
  16. Solution for Willing hearts filled with gifts
  17. Celebrations pointing to events of ultimate meaning
  18. Most important day in Christian year
  19. Thinking about fear for the Loving God and an Invitation for 14 Nisan

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Related

  1. The Symbol of Blood in Christianity & Upcoming Easter Special
  2. Bread and Cup
  3. Remembering Passover
  4. My Christian testimony: leaving behind the new age deception
  5. Everything Jesus had to say about the homeless, wealth, prosperity, poverty, riches, the poor, the needy and giving
  6. Nisan 14 Sundown March 30, 2018
  7. The Last Supper: What did they eat?
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Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:41-50 – Twelve Year Old Jesus in the Temple

Luke 2:41-50 – Twelve Year Old Jesus in the Temple

LK2:41 Now each year [Jesus’] parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. LK2:42 So when Jesus was twelve years old[1] he went up with them according to the custom of the festival. LK2:43 After fulfilling the days [of the festival][2] [the parents] returned but the boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem. His parents were unaware of this, LK2:44 thinking him to be in the traveling group. Then after a day’s journey they went looking for Jesus among their relatives and friends. LK2:45 But they did not find him so they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. LK2:46 Then after [looking] three days[3] they finally found Jesus sitting among the [Jewish] teachers in the temple [courtyard]. Jesus was listening to the teachers and asking them questions.[4] LK2:47 Everyone listening was amazed at his comprehension and the answers he gave. LK2:48 When his parents saw him they were astonished and then his mother said to him: “Son, why did you do this to us?[5] Look, your father and I were in a lot of pain[6] searching for you!” LK2:49 Then Jesus said to his parents: “Did you not realize that I would be in my Father’s House?”[7] LK2:50 But, his parents did not understand[8] this statement he made to them.

Luke 2:51-52 – Jesus continued to be in subjection to his parents

LK2:51 Then he descended with them and they all arrived in Nazareth and there Jesus continued to be in subjection[9] to his parents. His mother treasured all of these things in her heart.[10] LK2:52 And Jesus continued to increase in wisdom and physical growth[11] and in favor with God and people.[12]


[1] Twelve years old: It is possible Jesus had turned twelve in the fall around October for it is now spring.

[2] Fulfilling the days [of the festival]: Eight days.

[3] Three days: Missing four days, it is interesting these Jewish parents did not think of the temple first.

[4] Jesus was listening to the teachers and asking them questions: Nothing here tells us Jesus was teaching these rabbis. He was “listening” and asking questions. At the age of twelve the Jewish boy became a “Son of the Covenant.” The next phrase shows Jesus answered their questions well and this impressed those listening.

[5] Son, why did you do this to us: Or, Child; TCN: treated us like this. A mother’s question. We note it is not Joseph who speaks. It is interesting that such an intelligent lad did not make some provision for telling his parents. Perhaps he knew had he asked they would not have given their permission.

[6] In a lot of pain: Or, anxious, distress, anguish. Though it is known Jesus had four brothers and at least two sisters, nothing is mentioned about them here.

[7] In my Father’s House: Or, business. The Greek is only “things” and so does not refer at all to the Jewish temple proper. There were several courtyards in the compound of Herod’s temple. A woman was not permitted in the Court of Israel where only men worshipped God. It is likely they were all in an outer courtyard. The word “house” is used of the tabernacle of Moses and the temples that followed. [Psalm 26:8; 27:4]

[8] Did not understand: This was a common reaction to things Jesus said, including his own later disciples. To Bible readers looking at matters in retrospect the failure to understand is surprising. The use of the word “Father” was very rare in the context of God. The Hebrew Bible uses the word “father” over a thousand times, but in all of these only about a dozen refer to God and most of these are in a Messianic context.

[9] Jesus continued to be in subjection: Or, NEB: under their authority; TCN: submitted himself to their control; MON: always obedient. If Jesus were to observe the Law of Moses perfectly then he would also keep the Commandment to honor his parents. [Ephesians 6:1, 2]

[10] His mother treasured all of these things in her heart: Or, KNX: kept in her heart the memory all that had occurred. Luke has a firsthand source in Jesus’ mother and his brothers and sisters. We can see the good doctor listening intently as these and others related their experiences with Jesus.

[11] Wisdom and physical growth: Or, stature. The “missing” eighteen years of Jesus life will one day be a fascinating read. We learn from this phrase two important things: a] Jesus continued to grow in that “wisdom” found in the Hebrew Bible [Proverbs 1-3]; and, b] Jesus experienced growing up throughout his teenage years through his twenties as a Jewish lad in a small village under the occupation of the Roman world, influenced considerably by Greek heritage. Jerusalem was right in the center of the great trade routes of the ancient world. For an eager and brilliant mind there was much to stimulate a growing youth. At some point Joseph dies and likely Jesus becomes something of the family head as the oldest son. He learns much about motherhood, womanhood, growing children, Jewish rituals, neighbors good and bad, Roman occupation, Greek culture, providing a livelihood for a large family, and the need to find solitude.

[12] In favor with God and people: Jesus not only learned but he increased in God’s favor [approval, blessing, love] indicating he was certainly not God Himself. How does one increase in God’s favor? By ever increasing faith demonstrated by a love for God’s Word and fellowship with His people. We can imagine a young man who the local people could not commend enough. He was not a selfish, egotistical, self-centered carpenter in Nazareth. Jesus learned how to get along with his neighbors, how to keep quiet and not express an opinion when it would accomplish nothing. He was no young upstart who irritated the elders of the community. He was liked by everyone and his reputation was flawless in his community. Everyone knew that the young carpenter did excellent work and asked a fair price. Later Paul will put it: “He learned obedience from the things he suffered.” [Hebrews 5:8]

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Preceding:

Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:1-7 – A Firstborn’s Birth In Bethlehem

Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:8-14 – Angels and Shepherds in the Night

Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:15-20 – Shepherds Find the Infant Christ

Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:21-24 – Presenting the Baby to God

Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:25-35 – Simeon’s Blessing and Warning

Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:36-38 – Anna’s Thanks before Those Waiting

Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:39-40 – The Young Child Grows

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File:Giovanni di Paolo - Infant Christ Disputing in the Temple.jpg

  • Jesus the Messiah celebrated the festival of Hanukkah (ivarfjeld.com)
    Could the Messiah have been born around the Feast of Tabernacles in October?

    It would be easy for the Roman Occupiers of this land, to arrange for a census in Jerusalem when millions of Jews came home to their own native village. Most of the ancient Biblical villages were located around Mount Zion, the city of Jerusalem, a day walk away or so. Even Jesus the Messiah, was dedicated in the Temple, shortly after His birth.

    It would be wise to arrange for a census when Jews celebrated a feast. It would be difficult to force Jews to travel around 25th of December, when there is no Jewish feast. And cold winds, and even snow are the normal climate, on the 700 meters high Mountains of Zion.

    Catholicism is fraud. It was fraud in 325 A.D, and it is fraud today.

    Celebrate the birth of Jesus the Messiah every day, and reject all kinds of paganism arranged for in his name. If you want to celebrate the birth of Messiah on 25th of December, at least be aware of who started this celebration. It was not the Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah, but rather the pagan papacy.

  • 2014 Scripture Reading Plan – Week of January 12, 2014 (bishopbillmcalilly.com)
    Jesus replied, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?”
  • Was Jesus a prophet like Moses? (dailyminyan.com)
    Moses was born to normal human parents, while Jesus was born to a virgin who was made pregnant by G-d while betrothed to a man. That’s very unlike Moses, a mortal human being who had to overcome his weaknesses to submit himself to G-d, and was not a “100% G-d and 100% man” sinless superman capable of amazing feats. While Jesus also called himself a prophet (Luke 4:24), in the Hebrew Bible G-d always used normal, often flawed human beings to be prophets to His people. G-d never acted as His own prophet and servant to Himself.
  • The Reason Jesus Could Overcome All Trials and Death (asicansee.wordpress.com)
    Jesus is a man who lived having given up all the earthly hopes people normally cherish from the time of his youth. We must know that Jesus lived from early on with a hope for which he could forsake his family, his environment, his religious denomination, and even his nation. He had a firm belief and hope in Heaven that no one could change. The hope that he cherished in his young mind was an immutable, thorough-going one with which he could withstand whatever difficulties he might encounter. Therefore, we must remember once again that Jesus ran the path he had to take with unflagging perseverance.

    Jesus went to the temple in Jerusalem with his parents when he was twelve. His parents came back first, and Jesus remained there. When his parents came looking for him later, Jesus scolded them, saying, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49) We must know that Jesus cherished hope only for the Father.
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    Even though he raised twelve disciples, Jesus was pursued here and there. However, the more he was pursued and the more people were unable to understand his heart, the more ardently he thought about the Father’s nation and the Father’s heart. Although many battles and difficulties knocked against him, they could not crush Jesus’ perennial hope.

  • O’Neill-Fitzgerald “Christ Myth” Debate, #8: Why should anyone have noticed Jesus? (vridar.org)
    Tim O’Neill (TO) repeats, and repeats again and again in both 2011 and 2013, another common apologist mantra in his review of David Fitzgerald’s Nailed: Why would any Greek or Roman or even Jewish author have even noticed Jesus, let alone have bothered to write about him? After all, Jesus was just another nobody Jewish peasant and miracle worker — they were a dime a dozen — and this one was, even worse, in the “backblocks of Galilee”. Why, no-one apart from Josephus even mentions much more politically significant Jewish figures (various Jewish rebels) — (not true, as we saw in an earlier post) — so why would a Jewish peasant who didn’t even lead an armed rebellion against Rome have attracted any notice?
  • Carissimi: Sunday’s Mass; [Day VII] in the Octave of the Epiphany (frjeromeosjv.wordpress.com)
    “Sitting in the midst of the doctors who” were astonished at His wisdom and answers. Moreover since, “as God hath delivered to everyone the measure of Faith”, (Epistle) Christian souls form but “one body in Christ” (Epistle), they ought to be penetrated with the wisdom of Him who far from “conforming himself to the maxims of this world,” reforms “and rules human life according to the will of God” (Epistle).
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    “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” said the young boy Jesus. This wholly supernatural wisdom whose guiding principles exceed, without destroying those of the natural order, is beyond our unaided powers.
  • Article Of Faith: Women In The Ministry Of Jesus, by Femi Aribisala (naijaobserver.wordpress.com)
    The religious elite forbade the teaching of the scriptures to women. However, Jesus did not abide by this sexual discrimination. He taught Mary of Bethany and commended her scholarship to her sister, Martha; who was more inclined to perform the conventional female tasks of cooking and serving. He said to her: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42).
  • Breaking Down Barriers (plowsharesfromwords.wordpress.com)
    If today you were to visit Jerusalem you would find a massive Islamic building called the Dome of the Rock. This golden roofed structure sits atop of what used to be the center of the covenant between God and God’s chosen people, Israel. Starting with Solomon, the 3rd king of Israel, the Temple in Jerusalem became the place where God descended and dwelt. Solomon’s Temple was a particularly massive project. The Holy of Holies (the place where the LORD’s presence would dwell) was made of 600 talents of gold. A talent equals roughly 75 pounds. That means that there was over 45,000 pounds of gold (almost 23 tons) in the Holy of Holies. The Temple was 90 feet long and 30 feet wide. The height of the ceiling would make a claustrophobic happy…it was 45 feet high. Truly, Solomon constructed one of the great buildings of his time. However, Solomon’s Temple would be destroyed and rebuilt. It lost its grandeur in the rebuilding.
  • We can not see where Friday: Dec. 27 (prayerscapes.wordpress.com) gets the connection in this part of Scripture that “Jesus establishes that Christmas is about family”? The festival spoken of in this chapter is not at all about the 25th of December, the birthday of the goddess of light, but is about the people getting saved from the slavery of Egypt.
  • Following The Way: 3 ~ Jesus Did It And So Can You (butterfliesdragonspeace.blogspot.com)
    Jesus learned how to focus his mind completely on the task at hand. Perhaps he began to develop this skill in his fathers carpentry shop. A slip with an adze, chisel, saw, or other sharp wood working tool can be fatal. However he started to develop single mindedness he perfected it in the act of prayer. Prayer so deep and powerful it should properly be called meditation. His fourty days in the desert, the multiple times he is recorded as going to mountains to be alone and pray, his abilities to focus his energy for healing all shout out ‘single minded’ concentration.

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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