I had, in the previous installment, covered the beginning of Israel as a nation, as well as pertinent considerations on the formation of Israel as a nation and tidbits from societies which pre-date Israel, since
Israel as such was not the beginning of humanity as a whole. Torah was written for Israel specifically, and any others who would choose to convert to it, as did a few individuals along the way. I find it interesting that Ruth, a Moabite woman, who came to accept Yahweh as her God, is also an ancestress of Israel’s second king, David.
King David who, although he had quite a bit of trouble concerning Bathsheba, was described as “a man after God’s own heart”. He himself had no small amount of wanderings during his life. Although he is apparently
an ancestor of mine, I will not digress largely about him. I WILL, however, note that it was his disobedience over Bathsheba, leading him to betray one of his most trustworthy generals and later arrange for his murder which prompted Nathan the prophet to make the fateful pronouncement that “trouble will never depart from your
house” (meaning King David’s). Although his son, King Solomon, first began his reign as a wise man without equal, it is very likely that his meeting the Queen of Sheba (or Queen of the South, named Sheba – there seems to be a bit of confusion about that) may have caused him to become complacent in his power later on. Some suppose that there was an involvement of a more romantic nature between Solomon and Sheba, as they were apparently approaching equal intellects. She, however, had her own realm to which to return, and I suspect that she was the inspiration for “The Song of Songs”. This could very well have contributed to Solomon’s later apathy and complacence toward God, which would be understandable. His marriages to those 700 wives would most likely have been marriages for political alliance, a common means of securing peace among nations of that time; hence, his 300 concubines.
Some works of an esoteric nature are attributed to him, not the least of them being the “Key(s) of Solomon”, and even after the Jews later revised the Tanakh (Old Testament) to exclude listings or practices of a more ritualistic nature to avoid persecution by the Roman Catholics, either the Book(s) of Kings or the (priestly) Chronicles still mentions that “he spoke of the uses of various plants and minerals”. I wonder how it read prior to 1,000 years ago. The Chronicles also mentions that it was his many wives which eventually led him astray, causing him to succumb to the worship of other gods. Although he led Israel to conquer a major portion of that part of the world, he was not without adversaries which arose after God warned him about his attitude. His son,
Rehoboam, turned out to be even worse, leading to the decline of Israel as a major world power (if not THE major world power) of the time. One of Solomon’s counselors, Jeroboam, became the King of Israel after the tribes which seceded from Davidic rule chose him to rule them. This occurred after Solomon suffered a repeat of history in that he tried to kill the one God chose to succeed him as king, causing Jeroboam to run to Egypt and remain there until the death of Solomon.
Unfortunately for Jeroboam and the seceding clans, he was even worse than Solomon was in his most complacent years, and started the trend of continuing to wander from God, even leading up to the eventual destruction of the other 9 2/3 (or 9 ¾) clans of Israel. This was in keeping with an obscure prophecy which was uttered by the word of a prophet which spoke of a people “who, though they do not know me, yet they keep my commands.” Since those events happened during the Assyrian conquering of Israel (the last time, obviously), and the other clans were never to return, I suspect that they would become the people known as the Celts. The initial historic mention of the Celts as a people place their beginnings in Central Europe, to which the Assyrian
Empire stretched at the height of it’s power. The similarity of the Hebrew day and the Celtic day beginning at sunset is a strong point in favor of this viewpoint for me, time being such a “universal” concept for humans. It also has a point in it’s favor in that Yeshua himself (in the KJV, at least), after his resurrection, speaks of having “sheep from another fold” to save – but that was for another, or others, to do in years to come. I’ll get to that later (no, I haven’t forgotten about what I wrote last installment concerning The Lost Book of Enki, either, I just haven’t gotten to that point yet).
To this date, there was a growing tendency of the priesthood to compile a number of derivative works, by name being Mishnah Torah (priestly interpretations relevant to the times and circumstances) and Halakhah (application to daily life for priest and commoner alike). These works would become rather important to the Israelite people, but could have been overly-restrictive, since Isaiah spoke a prophecy concerning it, which reads: “...precept upon precept, and rule upon rule. So that is how it shall be with this people”. What had begun as rules codified for a stubborn and stiff-necked people were carried to such extremes as to be burdensome to the people.
Israel did not do all that much better, but they were not to outgrow that tendency to stray from God until after the Babylonian captivity. Now, another point I ought to iterate at this point is this: Israel had already suffered quite a few instances of being on the downside of other conquering empires, those being the Egyptian (although that one was somewhat circumstantially-provoked), the Philistine, and the Assyrian empires. It was Judah alone which suffered the Babylonian captivity (during which time the term “Jews” was originated). One of the common tactics of conquerors used to make subject peoples more tractable is to take away any connection to their own unique history and beliefs. This apparently happened during the Jews’ Babylonian sojourn, and it may not have been the first time. The Book of Kings, during Josiah’s reign (or was it Chronicles?), mentions that the Book of Deuteronomy was recovered and that the initial reading of it led to Josiah tearing his robes and leading the populace in mourning that part of the law had “been lost” (although some have speculated some conspiracy theorist ideas about that – an idea lent some small credibility in that the name comes from the Latin for “second writing”. I don’t know, consult a theologic historian about that, in that I am yet an informed amateur).
What lends credibility to the idea that the Babylonians tried to destroy Judaeism as a way of life stems from the apocryphal works named I and II Esdras (works written in Greek, incidentally) [?]. At the outset of the book, “Ezra” was charged by Yahweh to recommit to ink and papyrus the sacred writings, which, being a Levite accustomed to temple practice, he would have had a formidable familiarity with the writings of the Torah. There is also repeated mention of later religious historians that indicate that there was (and is) an oral tradition which is not committed to pen and ink. I recall from the earliest mentions which were related in my hearing that it at LEAST involved each Israelite’s own ancestry and any oaths which were to be fulfilled “in perpetuity” for specific families. There was one such mention in a prophetic account of a family whose ancestor made such an oath as similar to the Nazirite vow, but only concerning alcohol consumption (of wine, at least). The Nazirite vow ALSO included not cutting one’s hair, as in Samson from the Book of Judges. (He frequently broke the one about strong drink, though, much to his later chagrin and demise). Anyway, later the oral tradition COULD have become more inclusive, making it all that much more difficult to destroy Torah as a way of life. It’s difficult to say what it includes, not having been raised in it, but discovering my own connection to Jewish ancestry later in life (though that carries some advantages, in a way).
Even during the Babylonian captivity, there were at least three attempts to destroy the Jews as a people, depicted in first the (apocryphal) Book of I Esdras, then in Esther, then in the Book of Daniel. Since these all refer to different rulers, they must have been separate occurrences. None of them were successful, but during this re-write of the books of the law and subsequent accounts, errors could have crept in, since even the most meticulous of any human often has imperfect memory, even after repetition (though if it IS divinely-inspired, than God would have seen to it that at least far less errors occurred). Author’s note: I present this to outline all relevant factors in this rather large puzzle as a fair witness, but I retain my own beliefs notwithstanding my attempt at an impartial presentation. Many in “main-stream” Christianity, and even some within Judaeism itself, do not accept the “apocryphal” works as valid, but I do, at least mostly. I will recap the whys and wherefores later, as with the previously-mentioned issues which I have also deferred.
Another point which leads me to suspect some later tampering with the accounts is that, although the Assyrians carried into captivity the other Israelites, who did not return, I find it curious that Ezekiel was directed to set aside territories for all the separate clans (tribes) of Israel. If they were to never return, then why? Also, I find it suspicious that God is accounted as “muddying the trail”, as Messers (from French "messieurs", lit. "my lords") Knight and Lomas depict (and which I verified myself) by directing Ezekiel to “take out the Egyptian elements” from the accounts. Prophets had previously lamented that “the people perish for lack of knowledge”, a rather common proverb among humans states “learn from history or be doomed to repeat it”, and Yeshua himself leveled his own charge at the San Hedrin for “taking away the key to knowledge”. Did God do this specific to Egypt, or was it a later edit to further muddy the trail by elitists bent on a control agenda? Hmm, difficult question, defer for now.
There is a strict esoteric sect which arose in Judaea subsequent to the Babylonian captivity which was
know as the Essenes. I had a look at a translation of the Manual of Discipline some years ago, which showed me second-hand (since I had to rely upon the translator) that their standards of conduct were far stricter than the “norm” for Judaeism. Located at Qumran, in close proximity to the Dead Sea (though they must have gotten their water from a fresh-water tributary river), this community probably arose shortly after the return from Babylonia. The reasoning was probably that if they agreed to stricter standards of living, then their piety would insure that Judaea would never fail to have the support of Yahweh. For example, laughing loudly would bring a solitary confinement of at least ten days. There was a reference in the Manual of Discipline to “the sons of Zadok”, referring to the restriction of the serving priesthood in the temple of Jerusalem to “the sons of Zadok”. The Book of Ezekiel mentions these sons as the Levitical line which did not contribute to leading the Israelites astray, but I wonder if the Zadok mentioned as among the priests who returned from Babylonia was who they meant in their manual, if they got him to contribute to founding the (effective) isolated “monastery”. Later they would evolve, in Yeshua’s time, to having a branch which functioned within Jerusalem itself, probably a necessary evolution for procuring supplies, and perhaps a recruiting station. It would be a factor in the Jewish culture of Yeshua’s time, as Yeshua’s cousin John would figure prominently in Gospel times.
All right, now we get to the times of the Maccabees, first Judas, then his four grandsons, namely Judas,
Simon, Onias, and Jason. I don’t recall much of the first Judas’ life at this time (think I’ll review it soon), but I DO recall that it was during the life of the later Judas that Ptolemy of Egypt (and Greece, thanks to “Alexander
the Great”) that Ptolemy’s attempt to ultimately destroy the Jews as a people occurs with a vengeance. It was during his attempt to Hellenize the Jewish culture and beliefs that he encounters the “mother of seven” [sons], which WAS mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah (recorded by Baruch, a “self”-appointed scribe). Though the Maccabean accounts state that Ptolemy made her watch each of her sons’ executions and at each one he sought to sway her from her beliefs, her repeated refusals to recant were a source of much vexation to Ptolemy – and Judas Maccabeus as well, but at Ptolemy, since Judas saw it for what it was – a deliberate attack with the sole intent of genocide of a people. This caused him to forswear his former contentment with exile and arise to lead
and organize the revolution which ultimately freed his people – and resulting in the inauguration of the Jewish holy day of Hanukhah, with eight-candled (sometimes nine) menorahs. What REALLY decided the matter (at least temporarily) to keep Ptolemy out was that he apparently reached an alliance with Rome, then a fledgling republic not yet subjected to Julius Caesar and successors. That is not to say that he did not assassinate Judas and his brothers (except Jason). But since they had liberated their homeland, they had to be lured away on pretexts and than killed, rather than do it while they were in Israel (or Judah).
Some do not accept the Maccabees as valid, though I do not know the actual percentage of practicing Jews, or even Christians, who deny their validity. The actual percentage is probably lower than I had first speculated, as Hanukhah is widely practiced among Jews – those who still adhere to Torah, at least. Perhaps I still needed to un-learn a tendency to focus upon the negative, which I could not accomplish until I acquired information relevant to my personal history four years ago and come to terms with it. Curious that, prior to that, I first had to confront these questions relevant to my chosen faith as I confronted various aspects of what Jung had termed the “archetypes”. This was after having compiled then-apparently-unrelated information for about 35 years or so before a pattern began to coalesce within me about the TRUE nature of what actually beset humanity.
I digressed again, but at least it was brief this time. To resume, the final stage of the Maccabean accounts
results in Onias ruling Judah (or Judaea, as it became after the partial Hellenization of Jewish culture) for a while. This ends when Jason succumbs to attempts at subversion by Ptolemy of Egypt (and Greece) and Antiochus of Syria. The accounts do not clarify his reasons for doing so, as memory serves, but still it was a
treacherous move, even if he was a dupe who believed the threats which were undoubtedly brought to bear.
History has shown, at least in the Hebrew (later Jewish) accounts, a periodic, seemingly-insane jealousy, or simple animosity toward the Hebrews (later the Jews), which had continued even into more recent centuries. Psychology indicates the possibility of a “collective human unconscious”, by which gross violations are remembered at the instinctive level, even if not the conscious. I find it curious that, except for the “oldest” book in the Bible – that being Job, actually – there was no mention of “Satan” as an individual until the New Testament, or Gospels. The book of either Kings and/or Chronicles mentioned that Saul, son of Kish the Benjamite, was troubled by “an evil spirit from the Lord” on occasion concerning David, especially after the Israelite populace sang of “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands”. Unfortunately, while the “collective human unconscious” may remember the violations, there is no guarantee that it would conform to that necessary concept for properly assessing the consequences of history, namely “perspective”. While the Gospels which refer to “the temptation of Jesus” could have meant the term “Satan” as an individual, it could as well have meant the “collective human unconscious”. My own supposition is that it could have very well meant both at one and the same time. This is from my OWN experiences, especially in more recent years.
So, at this point, we have reached the stage set for Yeshua’s birth, life, death, and (reputed) resurrection.
Rome would at some point betray the alliance with Judaea to render it a territory subject to Roman law and supervision, while the priestly body would evolve into what was named the “San Hedrin”, a “theocratic” agency in which the members were concerned more with preserving their own power and prestige during a time when further attempts by the Romans to remind the Jews that they were a conquered, subject people were common.
This would give rise to a shift in power to give the Zadokites (or Sadducees, as the term is said to have evolved) more of a “moral” authority. Unfortunately, sometimes sects which lend themselves to celibacy show a distinct
tendency to become apathetic to “mortal” concerns – they then find themselves at a “crossroads” concerning whether they remain true to the central tenets of what they initially professed or not. I commend the Buddhists
in that, by and large, they seem to have done better than their Jewish and Christian counterparts, as a whole. As I have read the Analects of the Buddha, I am aware that they do not subscribe to the concept of “miracles” per se, rather that doing whatever it takes to achieve individual enlightment and/or assisting others in that will produce an inner balance which seems to defy all reason.
At this point, I must point out that there are a great many books “missing” from the Christian version of the Old Testament. There is a version of the manuscripts named the “Septuagint” (meaning 70 books), yet the current version includes only 39 books. Where did the other 31 go? To examine the apocrypha, it includes 13, such as Judith, Tobit, I & II Esdras (perported Greek versions of the account of Ezra), the Maccabees I-IV, the Wisdom of Solomon, another by Jesus ben Sirach, and a chapter which was reportedly removed from Daniel, chapter 13. The New Testament clues us in to the book of Enoch and the Book of the Wars of God, and footnotes from the Old Testament refer to a book of Jasher. The Dead Sea scrolls also include a book of Isaachar, showing that the Hebrew patriarchs may have compiled books. That there are books which were not included induces in me a raised eyebrow, as I wonder why they were not included. Some were perhaps lost, while others were not included because they were not counted as “canonical”, for whatever reason.
On that note, I will end this installment to begin a compilation of what I believe occurred during the so-called “Silent Years” of Yeshua’s life (be it Yeshua haNosri or Yeshua haMashiach, whatever you believe). Be well...
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