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#41 Bonita

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Posted 04 August 2010 - 07:19 PM

Besides the religious reasons I listed above, the Babylonians were very much interested in Jerusalem for a more urgent political reason. Four years prior to giving permission for Ezra to return to Jerusalem, a revolt broke out in Egypt, along with the Athenians, against Persia. The Persian general, Megabyzus, finally subdued them in 456 BC, but two years before that, Artaxerxes, who needed to win the goodwill of the Jews, sent Ezra to Jerusalem. Judah was crucial to his success because it is on the border of Egypt and in the path of important trade routes.

So, one might wonder why Ezra needed to be sent since nearly eighty years before Zerubbabel and Joshua arrived to rebuild the city and the Temple. Ezra was actually sent to Judah as a Persian official and a Jewish legal expert sent to instruct the Jews in the law and to appoint judges. His familiarity with Jewish law was necessary in order to win over the people and pacify the region.

To the Chronicler, and, later, to all Jews, the ideal scribe was Ezra, the reformer who had come to Judah as a Persian official and Jewish legal expert in order to instruct the people in the law and to appoint judges. Levites were appointed to carry out the instruction. Thus a Jewish scribe was to serve as government official, as teacher, or as judge; in each case, his authority derived from special familiarity with the Mosaic law. (4. pg. 151)


Even though Ezra was a Persian, he was also a Jew and he had high hopes of preserving the Jewish race and preserving the law according to Moses in the Torah.

In restoring the Jewish state in Palestine, Ezra cherished two hopes, to preserve the purity of the Jewish race, and to spread the study of the Torah until it should become the common property of the people at large. To help on his first purpose, he inveighed against marriages between the Jews and the nations round about. . . In the realization of his second hope, the spread of the Torah, Ezra was so zealous and efficient that it was justly said of him: "If Moses had not anticipated him, Ezra would have received the Torah." In a sense he was, indeed, a second Moses. The Torah had fallen into neglect and oblivion in his day, and he restored and re-established it in the minds of his people. It is due to him chiefly that it was divided up into portions, to be read annually, Sabbath after Sabbath, in the synagogues, and he it was, likewise, who originated the idea of re-writing the Pentateuch in "Assyrian" characters. To further his purpose still more, he ordered additional schools for children to be established everywhere. . . (11. pg. 643)


As you can see, Ezra was responsible for making the written law available to everyone and established the synagogue schools, where Jesus would appear 450 years later. By then, the scribal system of teaching had become well established. He is also believed to be responsible for establishing the Jewish calendar. But more important than this secular history of Ezra is the sacred history and the significance of the theological concepts and religious practices that grew from his influence, which I hope to introduce next.

#42 Teobeck

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 09:58 PM

I hope you add to this information. I have always been fascinated by the history of Palestine in ancient times from a spiritual perspective, and even in modern times albeit from a more secular viewpoint. It has been in constant turmoil since the Ottoman Empire was broken up, being fairly quiet during that 400 years as I remember, with Jews living peacefully amongst the Muslims.

#43 Bonita

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 11:43 AM

As I see it, the Jews have always attempted to live peacefully among other civilizations, probably because they've been dispersed so many times and forced to live outside of their homeland. I find it amazing that they have found a way to maintain their social, cultural and religious identity regardless of where they are on the planet. But you've brought up a good segue for me to continue on this topic since to really get a grip on the different religious parties in Palestine, one has to study what happened during the Babylonian captivity.

But first a disclaimer: There is so much information out there, the more I look the more confused I become as to how to keep it all focused in order to highlight the teachings and revelations in TUB, yet satisfy my own need to dig as deep as I can for my personal understanding. In all of this, remember that I am just an armchair historian and every time I pick up a new book or discover a new website, my views change in order to incorporate the additional knowledge. So, what I put down here is really just a journal of my personal discovery on the topic and not the least bit conclusive. If a real historian should want to comment or add to any of this, I would be delighted.

There are dozens of entries in TUB concerning the Babylonian captivity and I hope to incorporate most of them in this discussion. This period, which lasted less than a century, was a pivotal time for the Hebrew nation in every aspect, social, cultural, political and religious. This was the time of the great prophets and also when the seeds of the various religious parties were planted. We know that the scribes predated the Pharisees and Saducees, we also know that Ezra, in all likelihood, was the father of the Sanhedrin. So, where do we begin?

Well, since this is more or less a journal of my own study of this topic, I'll begin with some of the material that got me thinking about all of this. My initial interest was concerning the mood of the Jewish people who were forced into captivity. How devastating was that to their group psyche and how did they manage to hold onto their identity? What changes occurred in their thinking about God and their experience with religion? Although the facts of history are interesting, it is more fascinating to understand what these people were actually experiencing because when it comes down to it, religion is based on personal experience and then it becomes social, cultural, and often political. TUB tells us that this period of Jewish history was tremendous, the psychic damage so depressing that in retaliation to it they reacted with a self-defensive, self-righteous and egotistical defiance.

93.9.9  The national ego of the Jews was tremendously depressed by the Babylonian captivity. In their reaction against national inferiority they swung to the other extreme of national and racial egotism, in which they distorted and perverted their traditions with the view of exalting themselves above all races as the chosen people of God; and hence they carefully edited all their records for the purpose of raising Abraham and their other national leaders high up above all other persons, not excepting Melchizedek himself. The Hebrew scribes therefore destroyed every record of these momentous times which they could find, preserving only the narrative of the meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek after the battle of Siddim, which they deemed reflected great honor upon Abraham.



It seems that it is a very human response to equate minority with inferiority, but were the Jews really treated as inferiors by their captors? Historical evidence paints a different picture.

Historical annals demonstrate that Assyrian kings attempted to deal with unruly populations through massive deportations. When a rebellious city was defeated, its nobility, skilled workers and soldiers were resettled closer to the Assyrian heartland where they could be more easily controlled. The remaining population was less likely to have the military and economic means to revolt again. . . . Exiles were often treated with extreme cruelty. . . . Sometimes, however, captives fared well and were able to rise to positions of authority. Personal names in Assyrian inscriptions indicate that some Israelites did rise to leadership positions within the Assyrian administration. (3. pg. 1337)


We know that Daniel, Nehemiah, Esther and Ezra were some Israelites who did rise to leadership positions. In fact, when Ezra was asked to lead a company of Jews back to Palestine, he actually had difficulty rounding up enough people who wanted to go back, particularly the priestly Levites, which indicates that life was probably not very harsh for them. If that was true, what was it then that fostered such an enormous swing toward national pride? It was the imagined inferiority of their religion. Why did the Jews feel that because of their exile, their religion and their God was relegated to inferior status? The following quote is enlightening.

The desecration or destruction of temples in the ancient Near East represented grave national and religious calamities. Temples were considered the abodes of deities who served as guardians of lands, peoples and nations, and elaborate temple liturgies were aimed at securing the presence of the deity. Conquering armies plundered temples as a demonstrable sign that the gods of the victors had triumphed over those of the vanquished. . . . From the perspective of the vanquished, it appeared that the temple had been abandoned by the deity. This gave rise to a genre of ritual laments for temples and cities that had been destroyed. . . The prophets used similar language to explain the destruction of the Jerusalem temple. Biblical laments assert that the Lord had abandoned his sanctuary because Israel had first abandoned her God. (3. pg. 1323)


The reason for heightened religiosity then falls into place, both from a individual human perspective and a national or racial perspective. It stands to reason that a new idea had to surface in order to comprehend what had happened to them. They surmised that God may have abandoned the temple, but he had not abandoned the Jewish people; instead, he followed them into captivity, just as he had during the Egyptian exile, and he would lead them out again with a new Moses. The process of collectively redefining God and his covenant with the Israelites had begun, and they started with rewriting the history of the Hebrew people in order to reestablish the covenant and its laws.

7.7.1   The destruction of the Hebrew nation and their captivity in Mesopotamia would have proved of great benefit to their expanding theology had it not been for the determined action of their priesthood. Their nation had fallen before the armies of Babylon, and their nationalistic Yahweh had suffered from the international preachments of the spiritual leaders. It was resentment of the loss of their national god that led the Jewish priests to go to such lengths in the invention of fables and the multiplication of miraculous appearing events in Hebrew history in an effort to restore the Jews as the chosen people of even the new and expanded idea of an internationalized God of all nations.

97.8.1  After the priests of the Babylonian exile had prepared their new record of God’s supposedly miraculous dealings with the Hebrews, the sacred history of Israel as portrayed in the Old Testament, they carefully and completely destroyed the existing records of Hebrew affairs — such books as “The Doings of the Kings of Israel” and “The Doings of the Kings of Judah,” together with several other more or less accurate records of Hebrew history.



During this process of the remaking of the Hebrews as the chosen people, one new idea did surface, and that is the idea that the Hebrew god Yahweh was actually the God of all people. From a human perspective, this idea served to put the Hebrew god above the Babylonian god and thus maintain their racial ego, but it surreptitiously transformed a racial god into a true monotheistic God of all people. The unfortunate part was that because Yahweh began as the Hebrew god, the Hebrews concluded that they were therefore a superior race.

To really understand how this thinking evolved, it's important to understand the ancient and primitive religious mind which believed that gods were intimately involved in the human drama and that men could become gods simply by cavorting with them. The gods were more human-like therefore it was easier for men to become more god-like. The membrane between gods and men was much thinner than we currently experience. And much of this, I believe, is merely a remnant of the days of Adam and Eve when men and gods did cavort together. In fact, the Babylonian god, Marduk, whom the Hebrew god had to supplant, was actually a perpetuation of the Adam myth. The Hebrew people had to become the true sons of God in order to dethrone Marduk and replace him with Yahweh. Incidentally however, we know from TUB that the Hebrews, at the time of Jesus, did contain one of the largest hereditary endowments from Adam and Eve.

92.5.3In Babylon the god Marduk was a perpetuation of the Adam legend, the son-of-God idea, the connecting link between man and God. Following the appearance of Adam on earth, so-called sons of God were common among the world races.

21.4.3 In the final bestowal a Creator Son appears as a member of one of the higher mortal races on some inhabited world, usually as a member of that racial group which contains the largest hereditary legacy of the Adamic stock which has previously been imported to upstep the physical status of the animal-origin peoples.



And because of this thin membrane, the higher notion of a monotheistic God of all people made it all the more difficult to maintain its thinness. It was becoming more and more difficult to rise to the level of godlikeness in the face of such a majestic God. Racial guilt of not living up to the chosen people image resulted in the necessity for harsher and stricter adherence to the laws of God in order to penetrate a much less porous membrane of righteousness. Hence, the scribes, who were not only the prophets and writers of religious history but the teachers of the law, the lawyers and judges, became an essential ingredient in the conversion of the collective psyche of the Jewish people. It was for this reason that Ezra was sent to Jerusalem. From the Persian perspective it was to control the populace, but from the Jewish perspective, it was to bring Yahweh back to the newly constructed temple. Ezra was the new Moses who was inspired to renew the covenant between Yahweh and his chosen people such that it would never happen again.

Next, more on how all of this was accomplished.

#44 Midsoniter woman

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 08:21 AM

Bonita, I have a question. How come I hear the word Israel all through out the Bible when the country of Israel wasn't created until 1948? If Israel wasn't a country until 1948, then what was it?
"If woman aspires literally to enjoy all of man's rights, then sooner or later, pitiless and emotionless competition will certainly replace that chivalry and special consideration which many women now enjoy, and which they have so recently won from men (Urantia Book, 938)."

#45 Bonita

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 04:45 PM

How come I hear the word Israel all through out the Bible when the country of Israel wasn't created until 1948? If Israel wasn't a country until 1948, then what was it?


Good question. I couldn't decide to give you the quick and easy answer or the scholarly answer. I decided to do the quick and easy, but remember that I am not an expert in this area and there is considerable disagreement among scholars and historians about this stuff. The scribes did a very good job of destroying the secular history of the Jews and if we hadn't experienced a renaissance of archeological evidence over the last century, we would only have the sacred, and unfortunately fabulated, biblical version of the history of this part of the world. Fortunately, the Egyptians and Assyrians and other civilizations kept decent records.

First of all, the term "Israel" means to struggle with God. It is the name given to Jacob after his struggle with the angel of God. Scholars actually believe it meant to mean a continuous effort to keep Jacob going, even though Jacob continued to fight God. It's a metaphor. As you know, Jacob, Abraham's grandson, was the father of twelve sons whose descendants became the twelve tribes of Israel. Isarelite meant a person belonging to one of those tribes, not a particular parcel of land. It's kind of like Islam, which means submit to God. There are Islamists but there is no parcel of land called Islam. Likewise, the people who live in Israel today are not called Israelites (descendants of the 12 tribes), they are called Israelis.

We know from TUB that there really never were 12 tribes of Israel and that the Israelites intermarried with the Canaanites. Canaan included modern day Israel, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, parts of Jordan, Syria and northeastern Egypt. Apparently there was a loose federation of tribes which eventually split into a northern and southern kingdom. The northern kingdom was known as Ephraim, or Israel. The southern kingdom was known as Judah, the home of Jerusalem. King David was said to have unified the two kingdoms, but that's another story. The term Judah is what the word Jew is derived from. Incidentally, the word Hebrew means to cross over and was applied to those who were nomads or wanderers, or members of the Exodus. Hebrew is really the language of the nomadic Israelites. Hebrew is derived from Yehudi, which means Judah. Hebrew is the language of those who lived in Judah.

Hope this helps. It's just a simplified overview.

#46 Midsoniter woman

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 09:46 AM

Thank you. So even though Israel was not a country before WW II, it was a recognized territory in the northern part of Canaan. It's strange that Jerusalem was the southern part of Canaan because today Jersusalem is the capitol of Israel. They must have been unified by David. I wonder how Muslims came on the scene to completely take over Palestine and Lebenon. The rise of Islam didn't happen until long after Christ. So I just wonder why the muslims refuse to admit that the Jews were there in Israel before them and not just put there in 1948. But I guess that's another story.
"If woman aspires literally to enjoy all of man's rights, then sooner or later, pitiless and emotionless competition will certainly replace that chivalry and special consideration which many women now enjoy, and which they have so recently won from men (Urantia Book, 938)."

#47 Teobeck

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 10:17 AM

I read the Koran years ago, and remember that Mohammad (about 600 years after Jesus) recognized Jesus as the last Prophet and named himself as the Messenger. All people of the book, Jews and Christians, were acknowledged as acceptable and were permitted religious freedom. Jews lived in peace in Palestine for 400 years during the Ottoman empire. When the British broke it up all of the problems started, as the Jews wanted a homeland, and then they took over politically. The Palestinian muslims never accepted that. The entire problem is political, not spiritual, much akin to Northern Ireland.

#48 Bonita

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 02:01 PM

It's strange that Jerusalem was the southern part of Canaan because today Jersusalem is the capitol of Israel.


Even though Israelis have put the seat of their government in Jerusalem, the international community recognizes Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel.

#49 Bonita

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 03:08 PM

I read the Koran years ago, and remember that Mohammad (about 600 years after Jesus) recognized Jesus as the last Prophet and named himself as the Messenger.


For the record, Jesus is not recognized as the last prophet by Muslims, he was the prophet who preceded Muhammad (like the Baptist), and it is Muhammad, himself, who they claim to be the final prophet to appear on earth. Actually, it was Muhammad who proclaimed himself to be a prophet and a messenger of God. The Jews could not accept him as such because they were expecting the final prophet to come from their own "chosen people". Muhammad slaughtered many Jews in Medina because they did not submit to his message. It was only years later that the different tribes began to "get along", but that was for economic rather than theologic reasons. Now, if Jesus went around slaughtering people who didn't believe his message, what would that tell you? Muhammad may have been a prophet, but he was not a messiah. In fact, Muslims believe that Muhammad will return as the Righteous One, but Jesus has to come first to slay the Antichrist.

92.5.3 Many races have conceived of their leaders as being born of virgins; their careers are liberally sprinkled with miraculous episodes, and their return is always expected by their respective groups. In central Asia the tribesmen still look for the return of Genghis Khan; in Tibet, China, and India it is buddha; in Islam it is Mohammed; among the Amerinds it was Hesunanin Onamonalonton; with the Hebrews it was, in general, Adam’s return as a material ruler. In Babylon the god Marduk was a perpetuation of the Adam legend, the son-of-God idea, the connecting link between man and God. Following the appearance of Adam on earth, so-called sons of God were common among the world races.



#50 Midsoniter woman

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 10:29 AM

Even though Israelis have put the seat of their government in Jerusalem, the international community recognizes Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel.


Oh, yes. How could I forget about the capitol Tel Aviv? I spent the weekend in Tel Aviv on the beach dating a Jewish guy named David.

Thanks, Teobeck. I see. The Ottoman Empire ruled over the Jews. The Jews wanted their own country while disenfranchising their current government. That is kind of like the state of Texas seceding from the United States. It's all starting to make sense now!
"If woman aspires literally to enjoy all of man's rights, then sooner or later, pitiless and emotionless competition will certainly replace that chivalry and special consideration which many women now enjoy, and which they have so recently won from men (Urantia Book, 938)."

#51 Bonita

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 05:02 PM

The Jewish religion was transformed by the Babylonian captivity and later solidified during the second Temple period which began when they returned from exile. As I pointed out in the last post, during captivity, the scribes reasoned that Yahweh was actually the God of all nations, and the Jews, as his chosen people, were destined to convert the world, why else would God allow them to be dispersed and why else would God turn the heart of the king to allow them to return to the Holy Land?

97.9.27 In Babylon the Jews arrived at the conclusion that they could not exist as a small group in Palestine, having their own peculiar social and economic customs, and that, if their ideologies were to prevail, they must convert the gentiles. Thus originated their new concept of destiny — the idea that the Jews must become the chosen servants of Yahweh. The Jewish religion of the Old Testament really evolved in Babylon during the captivity.

96.4.8  Under the teachings of Moses this tribal nature god, Yahweh, became the Lord God of Israel, who followed them through the wilderness and even into exile, where he presently was conceived of as the God of all peoples. The later captivity that enslaved the Jews in Babylon finally liberated the evolving concept of Yahweh to assume the monotheistic role of the God of all nations.



God, by means of the Diaspora, was making good his promise to Abraham that "through him all the nations of the earth will be blessed". Israel was in exile in order to turn the Gentiles to God. (6. pg.17)

Yahweh is God not only of the Jews, but also of the whole world. He can move the heart of a mighty Persian king in favor of his own people. Also, the book of Ezra clearly displays a sense of guilt for sins committed in the past by Israel. (7. pg. 221)


This sense of guilt, counterbalanced by the rise in national ego, stressed the importance of the need for Jews to keep their end of the covenant with God for the benefit of the whole world. Observing the law of the Torah became a moral responsibility and a necessity. In order to establish the inviolability of the covenant they rewrote the Torah to elevate, and make extraordinary, the relationship between the Jews and the God of all nations.

97.7.1   The destruction of the Hebrew nation and their captivity in Mesopotamia would have proved of great benefit to their expanding theology had it not been for the determined action of their priesthood. Their nation had fallen before the armies of Babylon, and their nationalistic Yahweh had suffered from the international preachments of the spiritual leaders. It was resentment of the loss of their national god that led the Jewish priests to go to such lengths in the invention of fables and the multiplication of miraculous appearing events in Hebrew history in an effort to restore the Jews as the chosen people of even the new and expanded idea of an internationalized God of all nations.



The Exile ended in 538 B.C.E., following Babylon's capitulation to Persia. Cyrus the Great permitted the Jews to return home where, under Ezra and Nehemiah, they rebuilt the Temple and organized their observance of Torah around Temple obligations. During this period as well, according to modern criticism, the text of Torah was redacted in light of the recent Babylonian Captivity. This trauma, infused with religious meaning, served ultimately to affirm the tradition's view of the inviolability of the covenant. (6. pg.77)

Israel's suffering has redemptive meaning, the prophets urged. Dispersion does not disconfirm God's promise, but expresses it: his punishments are born of a steady love. Through chastisement, Israel will come to repent her iniquity and will learn to do justice and righteousness. Thus the historical dialectic of exile and return rearticulates the spiritual dialectic of straying and returning (in the later Hebrew idiom to "do tshuvah'," i.e., repent), of turning from the Torah and turning toward the Torah, of sin and righteousness, of God's absence and presence. Through exile and tshuvah Israel would realize the promise to Abraham and bring blessings to the nations. Through Israel's faithfulness to Torah, peace would come to the whole world. 7. pg. 76)


This idea of repentance was foremost in the mind of Ezra on his return to Jerusalem. He saw the Israelite's sins as enormous and the need for salvation great. His goal was to bring discipline to the Jewish people and teach the Torah such that it was part of their inner natures. He drew up a plan for the Israelites that would ensure that they would never again be so harshly judged by God. This included new legislation of strict ritual and social purity.

When the exiles return to Zion, God will renew his covenant. It will be a new covenant, because the people will not need to hear or read or study it. It will be in their hearts. (6. pg.76)


97.7.3  These Hebrew priests and scribes had a single idea in their minds, and that was the rehabilitation of the Jewish nation, the glorification of Hebrew traditions, and the exaltation of their racial history. If there is resentment of the fact that these priests have fastened their erroneous ideas upon such a large part of the Occidental world, it should be remembered that they did not intentionally do this; they did not claim to be writing by inspiration; they made no profession to be writing a sacred book. They were merely preparing a textbook designed to bolster up the dwindling courage of their fellows in captivity. They were definitely aiming at improving the national spirit and morale of their compatriots. It remained for later-day men to assemble these and other writings into a guide book of supposedly infallible teachings.



Ezra the scribe and his Levite priests proceeded to establish new rites of purity and new fervor for the commandments exactly as written. The common belief was that by obeying God one reaps prosperity through righteousness, whereas disobedience results in disaster. Clearly the disobedience of the Israelites was the cause of their national disaster. By the time of Jesus, the Jews were entirely enslaved by the resulting ritualism and legalism.

121.7.3  The scribes, the Pharisees, and the priesthood held the Jews in a terrible bondage of ritualism and legalism, a bondage far more real than that of the Roman political rule. The Jews of Jesus’ time were not only held in subjugation to the law but were equally bound by the slavish demands of the traditions, which involved and invaded every domain of personal and social life. These minute regulations of conduct pursued and dominated every loyal Jew, and it is not strange that they promptly rejected one of their number who presumed to ignore their sacred traditions, and who dared to flout their long-honored regulations of social conduct. They could hardly regard with favor the teachings of one who did not hestitate to clash with dogmas which they regarded as having been ordained by Father Abraham himself. Moses had given them their law and they would not compromise.



Below is an example of some of those rituals and laws instituted by Ezra:

Ezra is the originator of institutions known as "the ten regulations of Ezra." They are the following: 1. Readings from the Torah on Sabbath afternoons. 2. Readings from the Torah on Mondays and Thursdays. 3. Sessions of the court on Mondays and Thursdays. 4. To do laundry work on Thursdays, not Fridays. 5. To eat garlic on Friday on account of its salutary action. 6. To bake bread early in the morning that it may be ready for the poor whenever they as for some. 7. Women are to cover the lower parts of their bodies with a garment called Sinar. 8. Before taking a ritual bath, the hair is to be combed. 9. The ritual bath prescribed for the unclean is to cover the case of one who desires to offer prayer or study the law. 10. Permission to peddlers to sell cosmetics to women in the towns. (11. pgs.643-644)


In addition to rigid compliance to rituals and laws, Ezra was responsible for doing much to increase suspicion of impure outsiders of the cult, the uncircumcised, resulting in a peculiar ethnocentricity. The fanatical desire for purity also resulted in the loss of culture by throwing out foreigners. Many of the men who married foreign women left with them and went to Samaria rather than divorce, thus increasing the animosity.

121.7.1  By the times of Jesus the Jews had arrived at a settled concept of their origin, history, and destiny. They had built up a rigid wall of separation between themselves and the gentile world; they looked upon all gentile ways with utter contempt. They worshiped the letter of the law and indulged a form of self-righteousness based upon the false pride of descent. They had formed preconceived notions regarding the promised Messiah, and most of these expectations envisaged a Messiah who would come as a part of their national and racial history. To the Hebrews of those days Jewish theology was irrevocably settled, forever fixed.



Ezra also laid the foundations for Rabbinical Judaism and provided the link between the Jewish prophet and the Jewish sage as well as setting the stage for the beginning of the messianic hopes of his people. As the spiritual lives of the Jews became dominated by the law, the prophets disappeared and were replaced by the sages or scribes who were the only legitimate interpreters; TUB describes this as a spiritual retrogression.

As time went on, some persecuted members of the Jewish community became pessimistic about an earthly kingdom of God and looked for salvation from above through direct intervention from God. This led to the development of apocalyptic eschatology, found in the Isaianic apocalypse and Third Isaiah. (7. pg.192)


97.10.3  National egotism, false faith in a misconceived promised Messiah, and the increasing bondage and tyranny of the priesthood forever silenced the voices of the spiritual leaders (excepting Daniel, Ezekiel, Haggai, and Malachi); and from that day to the time of John the Baptist all Israel experienced an increasing spiritual retrogression. But the Jews never lost the concept of the Universal Father; even to the twentieth century after Christ they have continued to follow this Deity conception.



#52 Rick Warren

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 06:46 AM

97.10.3  National egotism, false faith in a misconceived promised Messiah, and the increasing bondage and tyranny of the priesthood forever silenced the voices of the spiritual leaders (excepting Daniel, Ezekiel, Haggai, and Malachi); and from that day to the time of John the Baptist all Israel experienced an increasing spiritual retrogression. But the Jews never lost the concept of the Universal Father; even to the twentieth century after Christ they have continued to follow this Deity conception.


Thanks again for this study,

So happy moderns don't have to deal with Ezra's fictitious national ego or a capricious and strange God whose will it is that laundry be done on Thursdays. How do thinking people stay sane when ignorance, intransigence and stupidity are the accepted currency of religion, science and philosophy? It must be maddening! It must be the source of "heathen rage", not uncommon even today. Rage is a way to deal with stalwart ignorance and silly tradition, not the best way, but a way to express that ever building tension in lost ones who just want truth to be known and prevail. And collective rage must be a factor and a catalyst for animal hatred, riots and war.


.

#53 Teobeck

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 10:55 AM

As time went on, some persecuted members of the Jewish community became pessimistic about an earthly kingdom of God and looked for salvation from above through direct intervention from God. This led to the development of apocalyptic eschatology, found in the Isaianic apocalypse and Third Isaiah. (7. pg.192)


I never knew where apocalyptic eschatology originated, so thanks for that. It is the emphasis of so many Pentecostal groups' doctrine even today, also movies, and other books. I can see now how it was admixed with 2nd coming, Jewish Messiah concept, etc. It also explains the development of Rabbinic Judaism as a response.

Very enlightening study.

#54 Bonita

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 12:41 PM

So happy moderns don't have to deal with Ezra's fictitious national ego or a capricious and strange God whose will it is that laundry be done on Thursdays. How do thinking people stay sane when ignorance, intransigence and stupidity are the accepted currency of religion, science and philosophy? It must be maddening! It must be the source of "heathen rage", not uncommon even today. Rage is a way to deal with stalwart ignorance and silly tradition, not the best way, but a way to express that ever building tension in lost ones who just want truth to be known and prevail. And collective rage must be a factor and a catalyst for animal hatred, riots and war.


I wish it were true that we moderns don't have to deal with this level of ignorance. Unfortunately, this type of fetishism is alive and well and at the root of many of our modern international problems. The problem is making a fetish out of the written word. Ezra turned Torah into a fetish and today we have those who have done similarly with the Bible and Qur'an.

88.2.6 Words eventually became fetishes, more especially those which were regarded as God’s words; in this way the sacred books of many religions have become fetishistic prisons incarcerating the spiritual imagination of man.

88.2.7 In olden times the fetish word of authority was a fear-inspiring doctrine, the most terrible of all tyrants which enslave men. A doctrinal fetish will lead mortal man to betray himself into the clutches of bigotry, fanaticism, superstition, intolerance, and the most atrocious of barbarous cruelties.



What has amazed me about this period of Judaism is that a single man could enslave an entire civilization for over 500 years. The Jews were most unfortunate, in my opinion, in that fetishism not only incarcerated religion, but the state as well. One of the reasons they were so frequently conquered is because they refused to fight on the Sabbath, which is also the reason why they did not have to serve in the Roman army.

They were determined to have a holy marriage of the secular and the sacred to rule the Holy Land. The complete domination of the secular life by the religious life is what eventually led to messianic fever, the need for God to intervene in the mundane affairs of the world. They could not tolerate rule by the impure and the ungodly; they could not accept the dichotomy or duality of material existence.

88.2.10 To become fetishes, words had to be considered inspired, and the invocation of supposed divinely inspired writings led directly to the establishment of the authority of the church, while the evolution of civil forms led to the fruition of the authority of the state.

170.1.7 Just before the advent of Jesus on earth, the Jews combined and confused all of these ideas of the kingdom into their apocalyptic concept of the Messiah’s coming to establish the age of the Jewish triumph, the eternal age of God’s supreme rule on earth, the new world, the era in which all mankind would worship Yahweh.



Which brings me to Ted's post concerning the origin of apocalyptic eschatology. Ted, this type of thinking did not originate with Ezra; it is part of the Persian religions, particularly Zoroastrianism, which the Jews adopted during captivity. I was going to move on to the Sadducees and Pharisees next. If you like, we could start another thread on the origin of apocalyptic eschatology. I know everyone loves to talk about that stuff.

#55 Teobeck

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 06:11 PM

88.2.6 Words eventually became fetishes, more especially those which were regarded as God’s words; in this way the sacred books of many religions have become fetishistic prisons incarcerating the spiritual imagination of man.


And the quote goes on to say:

Moses’ very effort against fetishes became a supreme fetish; his commandment was later used to stultify art and to retard the enjoyment and adoration of the beautiful.


Wow! This explains fundamentalism in all religions, and incarceration of the spiritual imagination is not a good thing. TUB is a super expansion of that spiritual imagination.

Yes, more on apocalyptic eschatology would be great. This and the fetishistic prisons were what Jesus was up against. He turned it all upside down.

Edited by Teobeck, 11 August 2010 - 06:19 PM.


#56 Bonita

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 12:56 PM

Yes, more on apocalyptic eschatology would be great. This and the fetishistic prisons were what Jesus was up against. He turned it all upside down.


I spent last night thinking about this and the best way to present the information I have and I've come to the conclusion that if we narrow it to Jewish apocalyptic eschatology, it fits well into the current discussion. I did a brief search on the subject and found that most of the fodder for this began in the second Temple period. The foundation was set prior to this period with the divine kingship of David and the holy priesthood of Aaron. Then the house of cards proceeded to be built upon the belief that righteousness equals prosperity and sin results in disaster. But the really flimsy building materials were acquired during the Babylonian captivity when the Jews were exposed to the Persian theology of duality, good and evil, which further solidified the idea that God punishes sin and rewards righteousness. Combined with the Persian belief in the soul, dreams, visions, revelations, angels, the resurrection of the dead and a Judgment Day, the fragile structure began to take form. It also explains the reason why the rewritten history of the Jewish people took on such a fantastic, magical and mystical form.

It took about 300 years of continued subjugation by more dominant nations for the Jews to come to the conclusion that Judgment Day had to come and come soon. Embellishment with the notion of a messiah, or two messiahs (secular and sacred), started with the Maccabean Revolt against Hellenization, which is also the time when we see the scribes and priests split up into parties, Sadducees and Pharisees, and the appearance of the Essenes. Finally, about one hundred years before Jesus, apocalyptism became a new school of thought.

135.5.2  About one hundred years before the days of Jesus and John a new school of religious teachers arose in Palestine, the apocalyptists. These new teachers evolved a system of belief that accounted for the sufferings and humiliation of the Jews on the ground that they were paying the penalty for the nation’s sins. They fell back onto the well-known reasons assigned to explain the Babylonian and other captivities of former times. But, so taught the apocalyptists, Israel should take heart; the days of their affliction were almost over; the discipline of God’s chosen people was about finished; God’s patience with the gentile foreigners was about exhausted. The end of Roman rule was synonymous with the end of the age and, in a certain sense, with the end of the world. These new teachers leaned heavily on the predictions of Daniel, and they consistently taught that creation was about to pass into its final stage; the kingdoms of this world were about to become the kingdom of God. To the Jewish mind of that day this was the meaning of that phrase — the kingdom of heaven — which runs throughout the teachings of both John and Jesus. To the Jews of Palestine the phrase “kingdom of heaven” had but one meaning: an absolutely righteous state in which God (the Messiah) would rule the nations of earth in perfection of power just as he ruled in heaven — “Your will be done on earth as in heaven.”



The beauty of God's decision to allow Michael to incarnate at this time had to include the means to relieve these people of the oppressive pessimism that forced them to believe that the world was too evil for God to ever establish his kingdom. They reasoned that the world had to end first because the forces of evil were just too strong. Jesus made it abundantly clear that God's kingdom is able to overcome all evil and the kingdom had already come into the hearts of those who had faith. This must have been knee-buckling news to those suffering souls. No wonder it was so easy for him to just roam the countryside and spread the good news; people were ripe to hear it, unlike today.

#57 Teobeck

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 06:49 PM

But the really flimsy building materials were acquired during the Babylonian captivity when the Jews were exposed to the Persian theology of duality, good and evil, which further solidified the idea that God punishes sin and rewards righteousness. Combined with the Persian belief in the soul, dreams, visions, revelations, angels, the resurrection of the dead and a Judgment Day, the fragile structure began to take form. It also explains the reason why the rewritten history of the Jewish people took on such a fantastic, magical and mystical form.


This really explains the origins. The whole idea of physical rewards also seems to have taken root in Egypt as well.

But, so taught the apocalyptists, Israel should take heart; the days of their affliction were almost over; the discipline of God’s chosen people was about finished; God’s patience with the gentile foreigners was about exhausted.


This seems the only solution the Jews had, with that belief structure.

Thus Jesus' announcement that the Kingdom is within was definitely knee buckling, but it was the solution to overcome the Persian teachings as the basis for apocalyptic belief in a Messiah.While some Jews accepted this teaching, I can see where it was infinitely easier for the Gentiles where the new churches grew, as they had no pre-determined Persian notions, and no sacred history and law to live up to.

#58 Teobeck

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 09:13 PM

BTW - as an aside - I read the old 2008 thread about DNA and saw where one scientific type said the DNA science had evolved to determining that all modern humans came out of Africa and that Sangik DNA wasn't possible nor in the equation - so did some research and then found seems Neanderthal DNA completely different than modern human DNA - however not much info quickly available - seems that there was also some Heidelberg man DNA discovered and was different than modern human - so my quick conclusion is that modern human DNA does not disprove existence of Sangik people - possible that Sangik DNA merged with some others or modern humans evolved from ancient peoples or possible modern humans a new race which wouldn't disprove Sangiks - anyone here have any DNA info applicable to this?

(727.6) 64:7.9 In Europe they soon encountered the Neanderthal descendants of their early and common ancestor, Andon. These older European Neanderthalers had been driven south and east by the glacier and thus were in position quickly to encounter and absorb their invading cousins of the Sangik tribes.

(727.7) 64:7.10 In general and to start with, the Sangik tribes were more intelligent than, and in most ways far superior to, the deteriorated descendants of the early Andonic plainsmen; and the mingling of these Sangik tribes with the Neanderthal peoples led to the immediate improvement of the older race. It was this infusion of Sangik blood, more especially that of the blue man, which produced that marked improvement in the Neanderthal peoples exhibited by the successive waves of increasingly intelligent tribes that swept over Europe from the east.

(727.8) 64:7.11 During the following interglacial period this new Neanderthal race extended from England to India. The remnant of the blue race left in the old Persian peninsula later amalgamated with certain others, primarily the yellow; and the resultant blend, subsequently somewhat upstepped by the violet race of Adam, has persisted as the swarthy nomadic tribes of modern Arabs.

(728.1) 64:7.12 All efforts to identify the Sangik ancestry of modern peoples must take into account the later improvement of the racial strains by the subsequent admixture of Adamic blood.


Thanks,
Ted

Edited by Teobeck, 12 August 2010 - 09:23 PM.


#59 Teobeck

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 10:05 PM

I didn't mean to interrupt this thread - just figured Bonita would know where to get some DNA info, and she did!

Meanwhile, back to apocalyptic eschatology, which is most interesting. Particularly since I know the Essenes were really into that, and seems the entire Jewish population was looking for the temporal Messiah, and they still are.

#60 Bonita

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 12:18 PM

Well, I forgot about Karen Armstrong, one of my favorite authors and scholars. In paging through one of her books yesterday I came across a few quotes that do a beautiful job of summing up the human devastation that resulted from the three waves of Babylonian conquest of Palestine and the resultant exile of the Jews. I just have to share it.

This was a period of intense suffering. Recently some scholars have argued that the Babylonian exile was not really very traumatic: about 75 percent of the population remained behind, and life continued as before. The deportees were well cared for in Babylonia. They settled down and made lives for themselves as rent collectors, business agents, and managers of canals. Some even owned fiefs of land. But recent archaeological investigations have revealed the fury of the Babylonian attack on Jerusalem, Judah, and the entire Levant, which was far more destructive than the Assyrian onslaught. The country entered a dark age, one of the most miserable periods of its history. Jerusalem and its temple remained a desolate ruin. The book of Lamentations described its empty squares, crumbling walls, and damaged gates; the crowded, prosperous city was now the abode of jackals. People clawed at garbage dumps for food, mothers killed and boiled their babies, and handsome young men roamed the ruined streets with blackened faces and skeletal bodies. The people of Israel had looked into a terrifying void, but having lost everything, some were able to create a new vision out of the experience of grief, loss and humiliation. (13. pg.168)


That description sent chills up and down my spine with returning images of the more recent bombed out ghettos and the starving faces of the camps. Such resilience and spirit can make a person weep. I don't begrudge them their creative visions of renewal and hope. Armstrong goes on to describe the significance of the ancient story of Job, which scholars believe was written/composed between 2000-1000 B.C., and how it was reinterpreted in light of the exile and possibly rewritten. What she says is supported by TUB.

If Job was indeed written by one of the exiles, it shows that some of the community may have lost all faith in Yahweh. But others responded creatively to the catastrophe and began to develop an entirely new religious vision. The royal scribes continued to edit earlier texts. The Deuteronomists added passages to their history to explain the disaster, while priests began to adapt their ancient lore to life in Babylonia, where the Judeans had no cult and no temple. Deprived of everything that had given meaning to their lives-- their temple, their king, and their land-- they had to learn to live as a homeless minority, and once again, they were not afraid to rewrite their history, revise their customs, and find a radically innovative interpretation of their traditional sacred symbols. (13. pg.172)


In the following quote, she explains the psychological reasons why a return to racial and religious purity so dominated the thinking of these people. The need for a sense holiness arose in order to separate themselves from the profane and alien.

In times of social uncertainty, anthropologists tell us, ritual acquires a new importance. Among displaced people, in particular, there is a pressure to maintain the boundaries that separate the group from others, and a new concern about purity, pollution and mixed marriage, which help the community to resist the majority culture. (13. pg.176)


In addition, it was important to rewrite scripture in order to elevate Yahweh and make him more powerful than their oppressor's god, Marduk. Having been introduced to Persian lore and creation myth, they would have Yahweh perform on a higher standard.

Yahweh was far more powerful than Marduk. He did not have to fight a battle against his fellow gods when he ordered the cosmos; the sea was not a terrifying goddess, but simply the raw material of the universe; and the sun, moon, and stars were mere creatures and functionaries. Marduk's creation had to be renewed annually, but Yahweh finished his work in a mere six days and was able to rest on the seventh. He had no divine competition but was incomparable, the only power in the universe and beyond opposition. (13 pg.178)


They also redefined the covenant Yahweh made with Moses. In the quote, the letter "P" is meant to indicate unknown priestly author/s of this portion of the scripture.

For P the climax of the story was not the giving of the sefer torah but the gift of the life-giving presence of God in the tent of meeting. Yahweh told Moses that he had brought the people out of Egypt "in order to live [skn] myself in their midst." In his mobile shrine, the divine presence accompained the people of Israel wherever they were. The root word shakan, usually translated as "to live," originally meant "to lead the life of a nomadic tent dweller." P preferred this word to yob ("to dwell"), which suggested permanent habitation. God had promised to "tent" with his wandering people. He had no fixed abode, was not tied to any one shrine, but had promised to shakan with the Israelites wherever they went.
Israel was not a people because it dwelt in a particular country, but because it lived iin the presence of its God, who traveled with the people wherever in the world they happened to be. . . . P recast the history of his people, showing that the exile to Babylon was just the latest in a long series of tragic migrations: Adam and Eve had been forced to leave Eden; Cain had become a perpetual wanderer after killing his brother; human beings were scattered over the face of the earth after the rebellion at the Tower of Babel. Abraham had left Ur, the tribes had migrated to Egypt, and Yahweh had liberated them from captivity. But he had "tented" with his people in the Sinai desert for forty years, and -- the implication was -- he was still living in the midst of his people in this latest migration to Babylon. (13. pg.179-180)


What I did not know was that the revival of the dietary and purity laws, rites and regulations that occurred during this time had been in existence prior to captivity but were only practiced by the priests. It was not considered a priority that the common people practice such strictness. Now the thinking had turned into an ethical revolution which demanded that all people had to live as though they themselves were serving the divine presence in their daily lives, not just in the inner sanctum of the temple. I have to give them credit for coming up with a good solution, albeit imperfectly executed.

The great achievement of the exilic priests and prophets had been the avoidance of a religion based on resentment and revenge, and the creation of a spirituality that affirmed the holiness of all life. (13. pg. 183)


Next, I'd like to move on to the Hellenistic period of Palestine (332-141 B.C.) where the Jewish people were once again challenged to redefine their secular and sacred ideas.

13. The Great Transformation; the Beginning of Our Religious Traditions, Karen Armstrong, Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 2006




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