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Posts tagged ‘Sukkot festival or Feast of Tabernacles’

Matthew 21:15-17 – those yelling Hosanna to the Son of David!

“15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant, 16 and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus *said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ’OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABES THOU HAST PREPARED PRAISE FOR THYSELF’?” 17 And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and lodged there.” (Mt 21:15-17 NAS)

Earlier when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem people had welcomed Jesus as the “son of David” and praised him as a king entering the city on a donkey. No word of Jesus were then written down by the gospel writers. But when Jesus had thrown-out the moneymakers from the temple, he acknowledged the children’s praise and said to the leaders of the temple that it was out of the mouth of babes and sucklings that some ordained strength because of their enemies, so that those enemies and the avengers could be stilled.

“From the mouth of infants and nursing babes Thou hast established strength, Because of Thine adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.” (Ps 8:2 NAS)

The religious leaders should have known the Psalm with those words.

These spiritual leaders were apparently a deputation from the Sanhedrin, the High Council. They were very indignant at what had happened here. First the presence of the lame and the blind in the Temple was not permitted and secondly Jesus healing them there in the House of God seemed not appropriate. As appears from the crying out and the Greek word used (pais = lad, youth), the singing of ‘Hosanna’ was not unknown to the children. The words used in the Greek manuscript are masculine, meaning boys or lads as in Matthew 2:16, and not the general term children as in Matthew 11:16. It would naturally be boys rather than girls, for comparatively few even of grown women went to the temple amid the crowds. Those youngsters were taught the Hosanna song as early as possible during the Feast of Tabernacles, to wave their palm branches whenever they heard the word ‘hosanna’. (SB, I, 853). They repeated the jubilant call the people had used on the previous day (v. 9).

Those kids and the disciples readily understood it to mean the Messiah; now observing the authority with which he cleansed the temple and healed the blind and the lame, they recalled that cry and were loudly repeating it, even in the temple.
The older people who had said the same on the Mount of Olives and in the streets of the city might have shrunk from making the bold proclamation in this most public place and in the very face of their religious rulers. Children are in such a case more ardent and more fearless.

They leaders of the temple were sore displeased, or, moved with indignation, (same word as in Mt 20:24). They ought to have been led to earnest inquiry whether he who thus asserted authority and wrought miracles and allowed himself to be hailed as the Son of David was indeed the Messiah. They were very well aware of the ancient scrolls telling about a messenger who would come and who would prepare the way before Jehovah of hosts. That sent one from God being like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap, a purifier of silver, who would purify the sons of Levi, and the one refining them as gold and silver.

“1  “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts. 2 “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 “And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. 4 “Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD, as in the days of old and as in former years.” (Mal 3:1-4 NAS)

They could see that Jesus had made a purification of the temple, though they did not want to know that Jesus would be a sent one from God, a prophet, and were indignant at the apparent claim. He was altogether different from their notion of the Messiah. The man of flesh and blood they saw was a worker son who came from an obscure village in distant Galilee (John 7:41 f., 52), who had not asked the recognition of the Sanhedrin, but seemed to be relying on mere popular recognition, and for them that crowd or mob knew nothing of the Torah (or Scriptures) {John 7:49 }.

Most people, even the disciples of Jesus at that time, expected the Messiah to be a revolutionist and civil ruler, taking care that the People of Israel would not be any more under Roman rules. Therefore the claim Jesus to be the Messiah and its popular support might was considered a dangerous thing. It would provoke the Romans to crush out the “nation,” and deprive these Jewish officials of their “place,” as some of them had intimated not long before. {John 11:47 f. } It was for that reason also that Jesus no longer had moved about publicly among the people of Judea, because he was aware of the counsel to put him to death. He had withdrawn to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples, but now he knew that the time had come and that he was to go for the Passover to Jerusalem.

It disturbed the leaders that Jesus did not do anything to “stop a thing so improper as to call him Son of David”. So during the triumphal procession, {Luke 19:39 } “some of the Pharisees from the multitude” openly called on him to rebuke his disciples for language implying that he was the Messiah, but he refused. (Comp. our previous writing on Matthew 21:9)

It is idle for critics to suppose this a mere inaccurate report of that former case, for the place is different, the persons making the outcry are here children, and the Saviour’s reply is also entirely different, and adapted to the testimony of children. The Scribes complaining may have been different, or may have included some ‘of the same persons, now still further outraged by the renewed hosannas.

The one who spoke about the Son of man being “Lord or Master of the sabbath“, now did not mind being called “son of David”. He had made hammock in the temple and previously also had said that they could see something greater than the temple being there.  {Matthew 12:6-8}

For “out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast established strength.’ the Septuagint has ‘thou hast prepared praise’; in several other passages (Toy) it has rendered the word for ‘strength’ by ‘praise.’ Matthew follows the Septuagint, as he so often does where it expresses the Heb. sufficiently for his purpose. (Comp. on #Mt 3:3 12:14) The Greek word means ‘prepared’ or ‘completely prepared,’ and so may be rendered ‘perfected.’

Suckling was sometimes continued among the Jews till the child was three years’ old (#/APC 2Macc 7:27), and such a custom is still reported by some travellers in the East. What the Psalmist declared true of sucking babes was also and still more true of these boys crying hosanna. Toy says that the meaning in which the words are here used is

“substantially the same as that of the Psalmist — God had shown these children a truth that the learned men did not see, and had thereby made them instruments of praise and strength.”

We should remember that it is God Who calls people and Who gives insight of His Works.

Jesus his wise answer, while not provoking, yet failed to restrain, the purpose excited by the triumphal entry and his cleansing the temple, viz., to destroy him if possible; the popular recognition and enthusiasm made them fear him all the more, for they accounted him a dangerous rival to their own position as religious instructors and rulers. {Mr 11:18 Lu 19:47 f }

The youngsters used a word of joyful acclamation in Hebrew, (ωσαννα; Heb. נא הושׁע, “Save, we pray;” σωσον δη, as Theophylact correctly interprets it), signifying “save now” also used as “welcome”. The Psalm from which it was taken, the 118th, was one with which they were familiar from being accustomed to recite the 25th and 26th verses at the Feast of Tabernacles. On that occasion the Great Hallelu, consisting of (Ps 118 Ps 119), was chanted by one of the priests, and at certain intervals the multitudes joined in the responses, waving their branches of willow and palm, and shouting as they waved them, Hallelujah, or Hosanna, or “O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.” {Ps 118:25 } This was done at the recitation of the first and last verses of; {Ps 118 } but according to the school of Hillel, at the words “Save now, we beseech thee” (vera. 25). The school of Shammai, on the contrary, say it was at the words “Send now prosperity” of the same verse.

Rabboni Gamaliel and R. Joshua were observed by R. Akkub to wave their branches only at the words

“Save now, we beseech thee” (Mishna, Succi, iii. 9).

On each of the seven days during which the feast lasted the people thronged in the court of the Temple, and went in procession about the altar, setting their boughs bending towards it; the trumpets sounding as they shouted Hosanna. But on the seventh day they marched seven times round the altar, shouting meanwhile the great Hosanna to the sound of the trumpets of the Levites (Lightfoot, Temple Service, xvi. 2).

The very children who could wave the palm branches were expected to take part in the solemnity Mishna, Succi, iii. 15; {#Mt 21:15 } From the custom of waving the boughs of myrtle and willow during the service the name Hosanna was ultimately transferred to the boughs themselves, so that according to Elias Levita (Tishbe, s. v.),

“the bundlers of the willows of the brook which they carry at the Feast of Tabernacles are called Hosannas.”

The term is frequently applied by Jewish writers to denote the Feast of Tabernacles, the seventh day of the feast being distinguished as the great Hosanna (Buxtorf, Lex. Talmai. s. v. ישׂע). It was not uncommon for the Jews in later times to employ the observances of this feast, which was preeminently a feast of gladness, to express their feelings on other occasions of rejoicing, {#/RAPC 1Ma 13:51 2Ma 10:6,7 } and it is not, therefore, matter of surprise that they should have done so under the circumstances recorded in the Gospels.

In the N.T. the sense Hosanna appears to be ‘bestow blessing.’

“Bestow blessing on the Son of David: bestow blessing [O thou who art] in the highest.” (Mt 21:9 Mr 11:9,10 Joh 12:13)

Concerning Jesus to be called the “son of David” we can find this in

Mt 1:1  {1 } The book of the {2 } generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. {1) Or The genealogy of Jesus Christ 2) Or birth; as in verse 18 }

Mt 12:23 And all the multitudes were amazed, and said, Can this be the son of David?

Mt 15:22 And behold, a Canaanitish woman came out from those borders, and cried, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a demon.

Mt 21:9 And the multitudes that went before him, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

Mr 10:48 And many rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried out the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.

Mr 12:35  And Jesus answered and said, as he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that the Christ is the son of David?

Joh 7:42 {1 } Hath not the scripture said that the Christ cometh of the seed of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was? {1) 2 Sa 7:12 ff; Mic 5:2 }

Also the scholar Saul (apostle Paul) in later years reminds the members of the group The Way

“concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,” (Ro 1:3 NAS)

“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel,” (2Ti 2:8 NAS)

Also the youngest disciple recognised his master teacher as the Kristos or Christ and as the son of David.

“and one of the elders *said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”” (Re 5:5 NAS)

The people cried Hosanna as Jesus entered in triumph into Jerusalem and now again in the temple; that is, they thus invoked once more the blessings of heaven on him as the Messiah, (This was also a customary acclamation at the joyful feast of tabernacles, in which the Jews repeated # Ps 118:25,26.)

Having brought praise to God and having Jesus being honoured as the son of David, confirming him to be that promised  Messiah, Jesus went back to Bethany (Matthew 21:17), a village about 2 miles (3.2 km) from Jerusalem on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. Perhaps Jesus lodged at the home of Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha, with whom he had close association (Luke 10:38–42; John 11:1–44; 12:1–3).

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Preceding

Matthew 9:27-31 – What others are saying about the blind men recognising the son of David

Matthew 9:32-34 – How others look at the blind, speechless and demoniac being healed

Matthew 9:35-38 – Looking at Jesus our shepherd

Matthew 12:22-30 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: the Charge of Demonism

Matthew 20:29-34 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Two Blind Men Pitied and Healed

Matthew 12:1-8 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Something Greater than the Temple

Matthew 21:1-3 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Sent Ahead for a Donkey

Matthew 21:4-5 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Your King Is Coming upon a Donkey

Matthew 21:6-9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Blessed the One Coming in God’s Name!

Matthew 21:10-11 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Who Is This?

Matthew 21:12-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Temple Cleansed

Matthew 21:12-14 – From a den of thieves to a house of prayer

Matthew 21:15-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Out of the Mouth of Babes

Multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David

Matthew 21:10-11 Who Is This? – a Question still posed today #1

Matthew 21:10-11 Who Is This? – a Question still posed today #2

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Additional reading

  1. Entrance of a king to question our position #1 Coming in the Name of the Lord
  2. Entrance of a king to question our position #2 Who do we want to see and to be
  3. Marriage of Jesus 2 Standard writings about Jesus
  4. Days of Nisan, Pesach, Pasach, Pascha and Easter
  5. Sukkoth, Gog, Magog, Armageddon, a covenant and Jerusalem
  6. Patriarch Abraham, Muslims, Christians and the son of God
  7. Lord in place of the divine name
  8. Lord and owner
  9. Concerning Christ #1 A god or the God, a son of man and son of God
  10. Servant of his Father
  11. Memorizing wonderfully 31 Son of David and God’s Kingdom
  12. Today’s thought “… with all your heart” (May 09)

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Further reading

  1. June 5, 2018 -Jesus, the Sabbath Breaker? John 5:1-18Lord of the Sabbath
  2. Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1 – 14; Mark 2:23 – 3:6; Luke 6:1 – 11)
  3. In Jesus’ Words: Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-3:6)
  4. Lord of the Sabbath, a prayer of confession based on Mark 2
  5. A telling of Matthew 21
  6. Jesus’ Triumphant Entry – Palm Sunday Exegetical Study Part 1
  7. Hashtag #PalmSunday #StunnedSilence
  8. Palm Sunday
  9. Palm Sunday as it really happened (not as it’s talked about in church)
  10. The Coming King
  11. Palm Sunday
  12. Palm Sunday – Hosanna!
  13. hosanna
  14. Hosanna to Hallelujah
  15. “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in God’s name! Yes! The King of Israel!” ~The Jerusalem crowds
  16. Music: Hosanna by Apostle Peter
  17. Hosanna… Save us, we prayHosanna shouting, “B lessed (celebrated, praised) is the K ing who comes in the name of the Lord ! Peace in heaven and glory (majesty, splendor) in the highest [heaven]!”Hosanna I’ve always wondered why Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey instead of a horse when He entered Jerusalem as a King.
  18. Oil and Palm Branches
  19. Hosanna – Palm Sunday Devotional
  20. Palm Sunday: Sanctification and Protection
  21. If The Jesus Fits
  22. Living Christ, Our Victory
  23. Hey Jesus!
  24. 3. Titles of Jesus: The Son of David and the Messiah
  25. Luke 20:41-44. Son of David
  26. Semana 2019
  27. From Cheers to Jeers
  28. Cheering to Jeering to Cheering Psalm 118
  29. A Promised Son
  30. Jesus: Son of David, or Son of God?
  31. Considering the Names of Jesus: Son of David
  32. Son of David 1
  33. Son of David 2
  34. Son of David. 41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ?
  35. How Is the Messiah David’s Son?
  36. Sons of David
  37. Son of David, Heal Me
  38. Who is Christ?
  39. Who is Jesus to you?

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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