From Chanukah to Christmas,
the History of IT
|My two chanukias. We light another candle each night for 8 nights|
Being we are so close to celebrating Chanukah, a time when the Hasmoneans, the family of Mattathias, defeated the armies of Antiochus, and became the royal family of Judea, it's time to find out what happened to our heroes.
General Pompey had conquered Judea in 63 BCE, where 3 million Jews lived. 4 million other Jews were living in other parts of the Roman Empire at that time. The population of the whole Roman Empire was not greater than 70 million, which is about what today's Turkey has as their population. No fewer than 1 of every 10 Romans was Jewish. This was the "only time in history that Jews formed so large a part of the known population of the Western world!"
The Jews were living under insane conditions. Right and Wrong meant nothing these days to the government. Innocent people were being murdered at the whim of the king. The Jewish society was split on how to deal with it. One trend of thought turned out to be the Zealots and the other were the Essenes.
The zealots were revolutionaries. They wanted to expel the Romans and restore Judean independence, which was a very normal idea. How to do this? They decided to use terrorism against the Romans and against any Jew who opposed their methods. One has to remember that this all happened about 2,000 years ago, but in reading about it you'd think these terrorists were Hamas or IS. They mixed in large crowds and stabbed to death political opponents who would have been Romans or Jews that were regarded as turncoats.
The Essenes were the hippies of their age, the dropouts, who became the first Jewish monks. They also wanted some radical change, but not from being under the Roman thumb. They were looking for change in themselves! They were New Age people! They figured that society was too corrupt and would never be improved. They withdrew from all society and gave up normal comforts of life like men later in Catholicism who did this sort of thing in monasteries. They were the first ever to follow a strict pattern; prayer, work and purification. They were very strict. They had to be neophytes for 3 years before they were accepted as full members. They are known for writing the Dead Sea Scrolls.
It came to be that some lived in cities and others lived far away in the desert in spiritual search for G-d. One realizes that they had given up women in all this, which made their group very small and had little effect on Judaism.
The Sadducees were another Jewish group. Like about 95% of the Jews of the United States today, there were some Jews who were also enjoying wealth and power even while under Roman rule like the Romans were doing. They wanted things to remain on an even keel. They formed a conservative political party and were called the Sadducees, a name they borrowed from Zadok, the first High Priest of the Jerusalem Temple. A large number of priests belonged to this party. They were priests who were very strict in interpreting the laws of the Torah and didn't want to deviate from old priestly traditions even in the new and unusual circumstances they found themselves in. In other words, they weren't keeping up with the times. It was a fairly small group. They were powerful for many years.
Rabbi Akiva (50-135 CE) Greatest scholar of his time
Another political party in existence was the party of the people who were made up of the rich, poor, farmers, laborers, priests and commoners. They were called the Pharisees, meaning separate one. They weren't moderates of their age, not middle of the roaders, but were dedicated and creative with leaders who risked their lives for their beliefs. In matters of their Jewish religion, they were extremely strict. However, they could be flexible and realized that many ancient laws had to be re-interpreted so that they held meaning for their own age. They were creating revolutionary changes to outdated practices, but the Torah continued to be a meaningful force in their lives. They also kept our practices enjoyable for families. It was they who initiated the practice of the woman of the house to light extra lamps just before sundown on Friday. It led to today's ceremony of lighting candles to celebrate the beginning of the Sabbath.
The story continues. Pompey returned to Rome and was defeated by Caesar and was then murdered by an Egyptian assassin.
Hillel left a family from which leaders came out of for the next 400 years. He had established a living tradition of study, piety and humanity which still lives on. Just look at Chabad. That is a great example.
Hillel started Judaism on the right foot of teaching us to be observant but humane and this formed the basis of future Jewish thinking and Jewish life. This became mainstream Judaism. The Zealots had brought revolution to the land but destruction to themselves.
Julius Caesar and Emperor Augustus were kind to Jews in their realm. Jews didn't have to serve in the military because they couldn't keep kosher food or observe the Sabbath there. But Herod had been terrible. When he finally died, Rome ended the monarchy and put in their own man, a procurator who was like our governors. They were replaced regularly to keep them from becoming too rich! Because of this, each one tried to steal as much as he could while in office.
Pontius Pilate was a procurator and he was one of the most bloodthirsty and corrupt. He ordered executions without trials, stole Temple funds and sent disguised solders among the Jews who massacred the demonstrators and casual onlookers. Even Romans protested his brutality, and they were raised in an era of such things, so you know how bad it had become.
Jews no doubt were suffering terribly. They prayed for help. "They had a tradition going back to the prophets that a descendant of King David, who had lived 1,000 years before (1010-970 BCE) would free his people from tyranny and resestablish an independent kingdom of Israel. He would be the perfect ruler, totally just and righteous and bring peace and happiness to the world. He would be annointed with holy oil like a king and so would be called "the annointed." or in Hebrew-Machiach, pronounced as Mashiakh or in English, Messiah.
Some thought that Joshua, or in Greek, Jesus, was the messiah they all were waiting for. This is who the Christmas story is all about.
It's important for people to understand that few facts are known with certainly about him. We do not have one word written by him or by anyone who ever saw him. Information comes from a book called the New Testament which is written by many authors and who were born as much as 100 years after his death. They disagree with each other in important areas. They wrote as spokesmen for the belief that he was divine and not as historians. Jewish belief is that we are all humans and nobody can be divine. Smart, yes, but not divine.
This idea of Jesus being divine was a belief in Greek and Roman religious thinking. Their gods were part human and part gods from Olympus. Today, new age historians with a program on TV (History 2) believe in people from outer space landing on earth and they might be replacing the god theory by somehow getting our females pregnant and improving our race that way.
Then we have Erdogen, president of Turkey coming up with Cuba having Muslims building a mosque on their hill in 1153 AD (CE for Jews) in which he is actually rewriting history to fool the Cuban people to convert to Islam. We have the Palestinian Muslims rewriting history as well in order to have the right to take Israel from the Jews and drive them into the sea. It seems that some people are unabashed in altering historical facts in order to gain something for themselves.
The Jesus story is that he died on the cross, just like thousands of Jews with and before him. To most all Jews, his death was proof that he was a human, and continued to pray for a Messiah to come. Paul, who became St. Paul, believed that Jesus had come back to life after 3 days of death in order to rule in heaven, so he was still king. This is how he is referred to by Christians as the Messiah (annointed with oil). In Greek, Messiah is Christos--Christ.
Christian teachings became more anti-Jewish. The New Testament portrays Pontius Pilate as a sensitive man who only wished to save Jesus's life. The Jews were portrayed as bloodthirsty and merciless and stopped Pilate from saving his life. Jews have had to live for 16 centuries with this story which has caused the persecution of Jews or anti-Semitism because people were taught that Jews were the murderers of Jesus.
Christmas gifts in green and red, Christmas colors
It's strange that Chanukah and Christmas both come in December, both joyful celebrations where both people give presents. We've learned to live and let live, even after such a history. Jews no longer are terrorists like the Hasmoneans stabbing people in crowds, but we see others hating us doing this very ancient 2,000 year old aggressive attack today, modern Muslim terrorists. Christians are still producing anti-Semitism, but not to the degree practiced for the past 2,000 years. Yet it still is happening.
Just the other day a rabbi was stabbed in the neck while walking to his synagogue by a Muslim. Muslims are rioting in Jerusalem. Terrorism comes in the form of ramming crowds of pedestrians with cars and killing a few. It had been coming from rockets, missiles and mortars from Gaza. Now it's coming from threats from Imans in Iran of being totally wiped out.
Yes, Jews, especially those living in Israel, are praying for the Messiah to come along and change things for the best. 2,000 years of praying and waiting; we don't give up. The arch of Titus in Rome remains among ruins of the Roman culture, a reminder of the grandeur of an empire that disappeared centuries ago. Judaism never left and Israel arose from the ashes.
Resource: My People, Abba Eban's History of the Jews Volume I
The New Standard Jewish Encclopedia
*I thought to respond:
Nadene, I thought to pull this portion of your article out adding commentary afterwards:
"The Jesus story is that he died on the cross, just like thousands of Jews with and before him. To most all Jews, his death was proof that he was a human, and continued to pray for a Messiah to come. Paul, who became St. Paul, believed that Jesus had come back to life after 3 days of death in order to rule in heaven, so he was still king. This is how he is referred to by Christians as the Messiah (annointed with oil). In Greek, Messiah is Christos--Christ.
Christian teachings became more anti-Jewish. The New Testament portrays Pontius Pilate as a sensitive man who only wished to save Jesus's life. The Jews were portrayed as bloodthirsty and merciless and stopped Pilate from saving his life. Jews have had to live for 16 centuries with this story which has caused the persecution of Jews or anti-Semitism because people were taught that Jews were the murderers of Jesus."
I believe that Rabbi Shaul (Paul) who was present during the death of Stephen wrote extensively about Yeshua (Jesus) based on the Ta-Nakh quoting more of the Torah scrolls then any writer of Biblical text (Much of the Brit-Chadasha , so called "New Testament" recording Besorah (good news) writings are a result)
2 Timothy 3:16 declares that all of the scrolls are Inspired of God..again, the new testament had yet been penned when Shaul wrote this. These were, after all, Jewish men writing about very Jewish history.
In fact, in the book of Acts (17:11) Lucas recorded the following: "Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." The only scriptures to examine was Ta-nakh....
Nadene, in your historical account Potius Pilate, (an emotional basket case who commits suicide) along with Herod, and Caiaphus (The High Priest of the temple, appointed by Rome, ha!) all inspected Yeshua during mock trials.
So, were he truly the lamb of YHWH he was found to be without spot or blemish...
He rode into Jerusalem just prior to Pesach on the tenth day of Nissan according to what was written in Zechariah 9:9,
He was slain on the fourteenth day or passover..We find the initiation of this convocation (Dress rehearsal) in Exodus 12...and again in Joshua 4:19 forty years later, begging the question,
Why did Yahweh command Israel to do these things during, and continuing after the time in the wilderness? Equally, the pattern of the festivals from Pesach to Sukkot are all detailed in the scroll of Joshua via his actions (Have I ever shared this with you Nadene?)
What the nations did to the writings of the Jewish sages is horrific...agreed!
The patterns, idiomatic expressions, chiastic writing styles, and hidden cyclical themes of Ta-nakh like the story of Joseph into an Egyptian or Jesus into a Christian continued (both are to reveal their true origin and both would do so to their Jewish brethren)
When we return the scriptures back to Israel we not only better understand the willful disobedience of the nation of YHWH but also the successes and the deeper meaning (PARDES) that much of the commentary (Talmudic) depending on what century your in of constant disagreement about ben David & and ben Joseph......(I believe that our Creator is capable of being a man...his idea, not ours)....I do not believe he is a three part being based on Constantin's lunacy at Nicea.......
Israel's problems obeying YHWH are also well documented. So too, are the consequences (many Jews get the Jewish Messiah and many Jews do not)...Christianity changed Yeshua's identity and made him into a greek god....Gigantic Mistake! I struggle with Jews who become Christians as opposed to Jews who accept the writings of their brethren via Brit Chadasha.(Most Jews that I have spoken with have never read the Jewish writings of the Brit Chadasha.
Nevertheless, 70 bulls were sacrificed for the nations making clear the purposes of YHWH. He is revealing himself thru....Israel in support of the restoration of the Nations that survive the attempt to crush Jerusalem
Devarim 18:18 I will raise them up a prophet from among their brothers, like you; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I shall command him. (Prophets are YHWH's idea not ours!)
Again, what is Adonai TsaVuot presenting all of this for and why does Israel need Mochiach.......If Yeshua (Abba) truly was the sacrifice which restores the covenant(s) with Israel or YHWH nailed to TAV (Tau) based on his Statutes, Commandments and Laws (Genesis 26:4-5)
The restoration of Israel is now guaranteed. Jeremiah 31:31---...Ezekiel 37:15-27 (Isaiah 60-61) Revelation 21:4
Mankind on the whole operates in mistakes; willful disobedience if you will!
But the entire Hebrew Bible and Christian Bible is written by Jews...The nation of Israel was given a gigantic task!
We should be grateful...I am grateful!
Christmas is of Emperor Constantin...Chanukah, based on the dedication of the temples and the miracle of defeating Antiocus Epiphanes IV, a nutball who forced millions of Jews to assimilate into Greek theology and who murdered Jews in some of the most heinous, horrific methods in human history. Both celebration entertain myths as well....I follow the Biblical narrative, not Santa!
Rabbi Shaul went into these communities nearly two hundred years later restoring in the Synagogues the prophecy of Mochiach......
Look at what happened to him in Jerusalem
Rabbi Shaul was speaking with the Jews and they had no problem until he said: (Acts 22:21) "He said to me, 'Depart, for I will send you out far from here to the Gentiles.'" This caused the Jews to want to kill him. They had no problem with his sharing the news of Mochiach they just did not want the Gentiles to defile their synagogues.
They listened to him until he said that; then they lifted up their voice, and said, "Rid the earth of this fellow, for he isn't fit to live!"
and so it goes!