Empires

March 1, 2022

There is more than 300 years between when the Old Testament ends, and the New Testament begins. This period is vital because it set the scene in which the King du jour of Jerusalem makes his entrance. This period begins with Alexander the Great, who in 333 B.C. defeated the Persian Emperor Darius, Alexander defeated and destroyed him at the city of Tyre in Phoenicia, then went into Egypt and built Alexandria in Tyre’s stead. Alexander pressed on south eastwards, he went into Babylon, then conquered the Punjab. After his death in 323 B.C. from suspected Malaria, his most trusted generals took control of the sprawling empire; Ptolemy Sotor became governor of Egypt, Seleucus ruled in Babylon, and Antigonus ruled in Macedonia and Greece. By the end of the century Palestine too, was part of Alexander’s empire.

By the turn of the century a new force was gathering strength in Europe, Rome. In 264 B.C. the Romans got rid of the Carthaginian rulers of Sicily, and captured Corsica and Sardinia. The noted Carthaginian general Hannibal fought back by seizing Saguntum (Spain). He led his troops through the Alps but was defeated at Zama by the Romans. Elsewhere, Antiochus III, a descendent of the Macedonian general Seleucus had become king of Syria and by 198 B.C. had become master of Palestine. His son Antiochus IV Epiphanes occupied Jerusalem, the action that gave rise to the Hasmonaean revolt of the Maccabees. Judas Maccabeus was killed in battle, but still they achieved Jewish independence in 142 B.C. By 107 B.C. Gaius Marius was was Consul of Rome, but the senate preferred Lucius Cornelius Sulla, and Sulla deposed Marius in 82 B.C. and Rome found itself under a terrifyingly malicious dictator.

By 63 B.C. the democratic statesman and general, Gaius Julius Caesar was elected to office, and he ordered troops into the Holy Land which was in a state of sectarian turmoil. The Pharisees who observed extremely strict ancient Jewish law, they had risen in revolt because of the more liberal Greek culture (Helenian), and they opposed the priestly caste of the Sadducees. This turmoil in Israel rendered it ripe for invasion, and under Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great) subjugated Judaea and seized Jerusalem, and at the same time annexing Syria and the rest of Palestine.

During that same period, Queen Cleopatra VII had been ruling in Egypt with her brother Ptolemy XIII. After Caesar liaised with the queen, she had her brother killed and began to rule on her own. After this, Caesar went on to wage war in north Africa and Asia Minor, when he returned to Rome in 44 B.C. he was murdered by Republicans on the Ides of March. General Mark Antony and statesman Marcus Lepidus then defeated Caesar’s assassins Brutus and, Cassius at Philippi in Macedonia. Antony then deserted his wife to be with Cleopatra, they were defeated at the battle of Actium by Octavian. Following their defeat, Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide. He fell on his own sword after being informed of her death, the queen died by an Asp, a poisonous Egyptian reptile.

At this time in history, Palestine comprised three different areas, Galilee in the north, Judaea in the south, and Samaria in the middle. Caesar had installed Idumaean Antipater as Procurator of Judaea with his son, Herod, as Governor of Galilee. Antipater was killed not long after and Herod was then appointed King of Judaea. To most of the people of the fledgling Israeli state, Herod was an Arab usurper, sure he had converted to Judaism, but he was not of the Davidic bloodline. In truth Herod’s authority was confined to Galilee, the real Roman power was with the Procurator at Caesarea. Between these two, more than 3,000 summary crucifixions were done to coerce the population into submission. They also levied prohibitive taxes on the population. This then, was the world that Jesus was born into. A world of oppression controlled by a false monarchy that was reinforced by a highly organized military force. These fledgling Israelis were in desperate need of their long awaited Messiah (anointed one) – from the Hebrew maisach to anoint. To the Jews, there was no thought of this individual being divine, the person they needed had to be a forceful liberator who could free them from their Roman overlords. In the Dead Sea scrolls there is a text known as the War Rule, this sets out an “Ultimate Battle” that names the Messiah as the Supreme Military Commander of Israel.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are the best tools that we have to help us understand the pre-gospel era. They were discovered by chance in 1947 by a Bedouin Sheppard boy named Mohammed ed-Di’b who had been searching for a lost goat among the cliff hill caves of Qumran, near Jericho. He found a number of tall earthen jars, subsequently archaeologists were called to the site and excavations were begun there as well as at nearby Murabba’at and, Mird.

Many jars were discovered in 11 different caves, all told they found 500 Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts, that contained Old Testament writings and documents of community record. It’s thanks to these texts that we found out that some of their traditions went back to 250 B.C. These texts had been hidden during the Jewish revolt against the Romans in 66 -70 AD and had never been retrieved The biblical book of Jeremiah is interesting in that it says in 32:14 “Thus saith the Lord of Hosts… Take these evidences… and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days”. The Copper Scroll gives an inventory of the treasures of Jerusalem and the Kedron valley cemetery, the War Scroll gives us military tactics and strategy, The Manual of Discipline describes law and legal practice as well as the importance of having the Council of Twelve to preserve the faith of the land.

In December 1945, another important discovery was made by two peasant brothers, Mohammed and Khalifah Ali,they had been digging for fertilizer in a cemetery near Nag Hammadi Egypt, when they came across a large sealed jar containing 13 leather bound books. These books were written in a style called Gnostic – with esoteric insight. The works were inherently Christian but had Jewish overtones, and gave us information about certain unknown Gospels. They described a world very different from that presented in the bible, where Sodom and Gomorrah were centres of learning instead of places of debauchery. They too incredibly give Jesus’s own account of the crucifixion, and his descriptions of what his his true relationship with Mary Magdalene was!

Throughout history, there has been much written and said about secret codes and number sequences in the bible, sure it is there, but much of it is meaningless. A lot of it was placed there on purpose by the church itself to try to increase the bible’s mysteriousness, thereby increasing the unlearned peasantry’s dependence on the church, in short, it is political theatre. However, some of this nonsense was based on real coded information, and it’s purpose was to help the Essenes relate Old Testament books to their own time, and to do this, eschatological knowledge was used. This was a form of coded representation that used traditional words and passages to which were attributed special meanings relevant to contemporary understanding, these meanings were understood by those who knew the code. In today’s world we use a sophisticated system of algorithms to encrypt intelligence, and there are equally sophisticated uses of dead drops and the like to move secret stuff around. In Jesus’s day, they had not developed these means, so instead they used language.

In the Gospels, we see the use of these codes in particular when heralded by the phrase, “for those with ears to hear”. An example is, when a scribe spoke of the Romans, they used the word kittim – a word for Mediterranean peoples that included the Chaldeans of who the Old Testament describes as, “that bitter and hasty nation which shall march through the breadth of the land to posses dwelling places that are not theirs” Habakkuk 1:6. Enlightened readers of the Essenes knew that kittim referred to Romans, similarly the word Babylon. The Gospels were constructed with these dual layers of meaning to protect themselves from the Romans, another example is in 2 Timothy 2:9, a seemingly routine passage “The word of God is not bound”, to an Essene, this was immediately understood to mean that Jesus was not confined because to them; Jesus was the word of god. Another instance is references to the poor, this was not about the under privileged, this indicated those who had been inducted into the Essenes, and who had been obliged to give up their property to the order for the betterment of all, this is from where the Knight Templar took their model from.

The term Lepers denoted someone who had not been inducted in to the higher echelons of the order of light, or the way, as they called it. Healing a Leper meant that the individual was being groomed to the way, there were no silly “miracles” involved here, that individual was doing good honest hard work healing his/her generational traumas.

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