Thursday, January 24, 2019

What you missed in the Jonah drama


The epic movie The Story of Jonah—A Lesson in Courage and Mercy was released during the 2018 regional conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and may be viewed here:

https://www.jw.org/en/publications/videos/story-of-jonah-courage-and-mercy/

This video is highly recommended and is my all-time favorite.

In it though is a scene with some significance that you may have missed:


The vignette Jonah is looking at is the famous depiction of the chaos monster Tiamat being defeated by Marduk. This is a creation myth where Marduk made the oceans and watery atmosphere from Tiamat’s body. This connects with Jonah’s earlier statement to the sailors that Jehovah is “the One who made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1:9) He is then depicted as looking at the same creation act being attributed to the false-god Marduk.



Additional reading:
Credits: The first two pictures are from jw.org.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Notes on Japheth

Japheth, one of the three sons of Noah who survived the Noachian Deluge, may enjoy independent corroboration among his progeny in Greece and Rome.

Iapetus, or Iapetos in Greek, comes from Greek mythology. “Iapetus’ sons were thought to have been the ancestors of humans, and that they had some detrimental qualities that not only led to their own demise, but they also passed them down to humans.”
(Greek Mythology.com. https://www.greekmythology.com/Titans/Iapetus/iapetus.html)

“Iapetus as the progenitor of mankind has been equated with Japheth (יֶפֶת), the son of Noah, based on the similarity of their names and the tradition. … Iapetus was linked to Japheth by 17th-century theologian Matthew Poole [Commentary on the Holy Bible (1685), vol.1, 26] and, more recently, by Robert Graves [The Greek Myths vol. 1 p. 146] and by John Pairman Brown. [Israel and Hellas (1995), 82]”

“Iapetus (“the Piercer”) … His name derives from the word iapto (“wound, pierce”) and usually refers to a spear, implying that Iapetus may have been regarded as a god of craftsmanship, though scholars mostly describe him as the god of mortality.”
(Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iapetus)

“His name derives from the Greek word meaning to pierce usually with a spear; therefore, Iapetus may have been considered as the god of craftsmanship, although other sources site him as the god of mortality.”
(Greek Mythology.com. https://www.greekmythology.com/Titans/Iapetus/iapetus.html)

Japheth in Insight on the Scriptures means “May He Grant Ample Space.” The Jewish Encyclopedia says: “The name ‘Japheth’ is derived, according to Gen. ix. 27, from the Aramaic root פתה = ‘to extend,’ in allusion to the expansion of the Japhetites. Saadia and the modern lexicographers, as Gesenius and others, derive it from יפה = ‘fair’; but this interpretation had already been rejected by Ibn Ezra.”

It adds: “As to the identification of Japheth with the Iapetos of the Greek mythology, see D. S. Margoliouth in Hastings, ‘Dict. Bible’; comp. also Sayce in ‘Tr. Soc. Bibl. Arch.’ 1883, p. 154.”
http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8516-japheth

Wikipedia adds: “The meaning of the name Yafet/Yefet (יָפֶת/יֶפֶת) is disputable. There are two possible sources to the meaning of the name.
  1. From Aramaic root פתה, meaning to extend. In which case, the name would mean may He extend (Rashi).
  2. From Hebrew root יפה, meaning beauty. In which case, the name would mean beautiful.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japheth

So the meaning of Japheth is debatable, and the Greek meaning from iapto (“wound, pierce”) may be coincidental. Since his name matches phonetically with Iapetus and since they both were “the progenitor of mankind,” being the father of the Japhethitic Romans and Greeks, it seems quite reasonable that Iapetus is the Greek and Roman version of Japheth. This would provide independent corroboration for the historicity of Japheth, even though Iapetus is isolated from any Flood legend in a mythological matrix.

To Summarize:
  • Iapetus and Japheth match phonetically
  • Both are progenitors of humans
  • Thus, even though isolated in a mythological setting, Iapetus provides independent corroboration for the historicity of Japheth

See also:
Credits:
Iapetus from Greek Mythology.com. https://www.greekmythology.com/Titans/Iapetus/iapetus.html


Iapetus is also one of Saturn’s moons.

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Satanic Scheming

The end of diabolical scheming

As shown in the blog entry The Festival of Dedication,[1] there was a time when Messianic prophesies were doomed to fail. The Gentile king Antiochus IV had defiled Jerusalem’s Temple to Jehovah, cutting the legs out from underneath those prophesies. This state of affairs harmonizes with what Paul called “the crafty acts of the Devil.” (Ephesians 6:11) The schemes of Antiochus IV to eradicate Judaism were so diabolical that they must have been orchestrated by Satan in an attempt to prevent the Messiah from coming. But Satan’s machinations were crushed by Jehovah supporting the Maccabean Revolt (which itself may have been prophesied at Micah 5:7-8 and Zechariah 9:13) which defeated Antiochus IV and rededicated the Temple, thus restoring the legs under the Messianic prophesies.

But Satan hardly admitted defeat and continued to try to sabotage the Messiah’s coming. (Compare this tenacity with Luke 4:13.) This can be seen when the Roman-appointed king Herod the Great, an Edomite, installed a golden eagle, a symbol of Jupiter, over the main entrance of the Temple of Jerusalem.[2] This too can be seen as a defilement threatening the legitimacy of the Temple which had to be standing with its services in operation at the time of the Messiah’s appearance. (Psalm 69:9; John 2:17; Daniel 9:27) Thus, as with the Maccabean Revolt and its success, there too was an uprising to remove this reproach. Josephus reports that a group of “young men…let themselves down from the top of the temple with thick cords, and this at midday, and while a great number of people were in the temple, and cut down that golden eagle with axes.”[3] This last-ditch effort at defiling the Temple—making it unfit for a messianic appearance—is dated to 4 BCE, two years before Jesus Christ was born!


However, Satan was hardly deterred. Even though thwarted twice in defiling the Temple, he resorted to a different tactic that would deeply affect the Messiah personally: an extreme Roman rage against anyone called the “King of the Jews.” In this strategy, he was successful. Prior to Jesus’ birth, the Roman Senate had appointed Herod to rule in Jerusalem and replace the last king of the Maccabbean (Hasmonean) dynasty, Mattathias Antigonus. However, in attempting to duplicate the success of the first Maccabean ruler, Judah, he led an unsuccessful revolt against Roman rule. This became a very bloody and abhorrent tragedy. As Josephus recorded, due to Antigonus‘ resistance King Herod

made an assault upon the city, and took it by storm; and now all parts were full of those that were slain, by the rage of the Romans at the long duration of the siege, and by the zeal of the Jews that were on Herod's side, who were not willing to leave one of their adversaries alive; so they were murdered continually in the narrow streets and in the houses by crowds, and as they were flying to the temple for shelter, and there was no pity taken of either infants or the aged, nor did they spare so much as the weaker sex; nay, although the king sent about, and besought them to spare the people, yet nobody restrained their hand from slaughter, but, as if they were a company of madmen, they fell upon persons of all ages, without distinction.[4]

A horrendous slaughter ensued, and Antigonus was captured alive and handed over to Roman general Mark Antony. So great was the Roman rage that befell him, the “King of the Jews,” that he was “bound to a stake [stauros] and scourged, a punishment no other king had suffered at the hands of the Romans, and so slew him.”[5] Citing this passage, scholar J. G. Cook writes: “σταυρός [stauros] in certain contexts can be used for the stake to which an individual was bound … and then flogged.”[6] This makes more sense than the usual translation of stauros as “cross” here. Thus, he was treated like a common contemptuous criminal: shackled to a scourging stake and mercilessly flogged.[7] This highlights the extreme, brutal rage against this “King of the Jews.” Not only was scourging royalty unprecedented, but exactly how he was slain was too, for he was then beheaded, “the first example of that punishment being inflicted on a king” Plutarch observed.[8] Josephus concurred, stating that “Antony seems to me to have been the very first man who beheaded a king, as supposing he could no other way bend the minds of the Jews so as to receive Herod.”[9] This occurred in 37 BCE, just under 70 years before Jesus was also labeled as the “King of the Jews.” So the aftermath of Antigonus’ botched resistance was to make the title “King of the Jews” odious and libelous, inviting the unrelenting rage of the Romans, making the streets run red with blood.

Excursus: Insulting the King of the Jews
Josephus reports that Antigonus was first handed over to the Roman general Gaius Sosius in Jerusalem. He added that Sosius “took no pity of him, in the change of his fortune, but insulted him beyond measure, and called him Antigone [i.e. a woman, and not a man;] yet did he not treat him as if he were a woman, by letting him go at liberty, but put him into bonds, and kept him in close custody.”[10] What a strange turn of fate that the “King of the Jews” was insulted as a “woman” and that Jesus the “King of the Jews” is ubiquitously depicted effeminately! Jesus was also ‘insulted beyond measure’ during his punishments at the hands of the Romans.
End excursus

This special rage against this title provides “behind the scenes” historical context for Herod’s brutal response to the inquiry in Matthew 2:2, “Where is the one born king of the Jews?” First, he obviously wanted to kill him (Matthew 2:13), not bow to him as he lied about in Matthew 2:8. Being thwarted from that by divine intervention (Matthew 2:13), Herod “flew into a great rage, and he sent out and had all the boys in Bethlehem and in all its districts killed, from two years of age and under.”—Matthew 2:16.

With the memory of the bloody pogrom from 37 BCE seared into public consciousness, it is no wonder then that the Jews responded the way they did in John 19:15 to Pilate’s plea: “See! Your king!” (John 19:14) Their response was the same earlier in John 19:5 when Jesus was presented before the mob “wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe,” sadistic and mocking symbols of royalty, when Pilate declared: “Look! The man!” On this, the NET Bible noted: “Pilate may have meant no more than something like ‘Here is the accused!’ or in a contemptuous way, ‘Here is your king!’” Thus, it was likely out of fear of a repeated pogrom that the response was “We have no king but Caesar.” Satan had successfully infused the title “King of the Jews” with extreme odious contempt. This explains why when given the choice to free him as “the King of the Jews” or Barabbas the robber, that they chose the latter.—John 18:39-40.

Indeed, this contempt was seen precisely in the brutal excesses of the crown of thorns that was beaten down on his head. Matthew 27:29-30 says that: “they braided a crown out of thorns and put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying: ‘Greetings, you King of the Jews!’ And they spat on him and took the reed and began hitting him on his head.” This is repeated in Mark 15:17-19: “they … braided a crown of thorns and put it on him; and they began to [mockingly] call out to him: ‘Greetings, you King of the Jews!’ Also, they were hitting him on the head with a reed and spitting on him, and they [mockingly] got on their knees and bowed down to him.” None of these brutal abuses and ‘insults beyond measure’ were necessary or required for Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. But they were added due to Satan’s machinations of earlier infusing the title “King of the Jews” with extreme prejudice with the fall of Mattathias Antigonus. This is also why this charge was written the way was on the titulus crucis, the “sign” on the crux. All the Gospel accounts harmonize on this one detail:
  • “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.”—Matthew 27:37.
  • “The King of the Jews.”—Mark 15:26.
  • “This is the King of the Jews.”—Luke 23:38.
  • “Jesus the Nazarene the King of the Jews.”—John 19:19.
Stressing how frightful this charge was, “the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate: ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews,” but that he said, “I am King of the Jews.”’ Pilate answered: ‘What I have written, I have written.’” (John 19:21-22) They felt the urgent need to have that title contested and diluted to avoid any resulting Roman retaliation on their lives.

The same concern was voiced earlier after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding a colt. (Matthew 21:8-11; Mark 11:7-11; Luke 19:37-40; John 12:12-15) In Matthew’s account, the supportive crowd cheered: “Save, we pray, the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in Jehovah’s name! Save him, we pray, in the heights above!” (Matthew 21:9) In Luke’s account, they repeated: “Blessed is the one coming as the King in Jehovah’s name! Peace in heaven, and glory in the heights above!” (Luke 19:38) In response to this standing ovation and clamor, Matthew reports that “when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in an uproar, saying: ‘Who is this?’ The crowds kept saying: ‘This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee!’” (Matthew 21:10-11) And Luke reports that Pharisees became very concerned and pleaded with Jesus: “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” (Luke 19:39) Announcing someone entering Jerusalem in this manner, fulfilling the royal Messianic prophecy at Zechariah 9:9 that declares “Look! Your king is coming to you!”, is nothing short of inviting calamity. Satan was trying to make it impossible for any Messianic prophecy to be fulfilled.

Thus from this analysis it has been observed that Satan is tenacious and indefatigable in his scheming. If he could not defile the Temple and sabotage the rightful appearance of the Messiah, then he would rig society to either have him killed as a defenseless baby or, failing at that, add brutal excessive torture to his sacrificial death. These were clear acts of war.

Defiling the Temple:
  • Converting the Temple to one for Jupiter/Zeus.
  • Placing a symbol of Jupiter in the Temple.
Scandalizing the title “King of the Jews” with extreme prejudice and fear:
  • Endangering his life as a baby.
  • Brutal excesses in torture.
The full, bullying force of the later can only be seen in the Messiah having a pre-human existence, contrary to Adoptionism.[11] Indeed, that someone else had to help Jesus make it to Golgotha (did Jesus become incapacitated?) indicates the severity of the excesses, making it a victory over Satan that he even arrived there to die.—Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26; compare with John 19:17.

With all of Satan’s schemes though failing in succession, including his temptations of Jesus himself (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:1-13), would we expect that Satan would then leave the Messiah’s resulting, nascent congregation alone, not trying to corrupt it to make it unfit as an approach to God? That would be naive as even the Apostles were all too aware.—Acts 20:29-30; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 7-12; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Peter 2:1, 3; 1 John 2:18; 1 John 4:2, 3; 2 John 1:7, 8.

Scheming after Christ
This period of time in early post-Biblical Christian history is murky with only sporadic information on councils and unifying decrees.

Part 2: jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2019/04/satanic-scheming-part-2.html

Footnotes:
[1] http://jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-festival-of-dedication.html
[2] Josephus. Wars 1.33.2
[3] Ibid. 1.33.3
[4] Antiquities 14.16.2
[5] Dio Cassius. Roman History 49.22.6
[6] Crucifixion in the Mediterranean World. (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014), 5 n. 17. Cook repeats this point in his second, 2019 edition where he writes that “There seems to be no evident justification for translating this usage of σταυρός as ‘cross.’” (Page 467.)
[7] Regarding this, I had written that “Of particular import though is how he was “bound” to the scourging stake. His remains found in an ossuary reveal that nails were driven though the back of his hands into the stake.” However, Cook in his second, 2019 edition of Crucifixion in the Mediterranean World disputes this claim that his remains were in this ossuary. (Pages 464-5.) Indeed, supporting this contention is that Dio Cassius did not record a brutal act of nailing his hands to the scourging stake. However, the simple fact that he was scourged alone illustrates the hatred of the Romans without the need to add nailing to it.
[8] Life of Antony 36.4
[9] Antiquities 15.1.2
[10] Supra note 4.
[11] A position denying Christological preexistence, that Jesus was “adopted” by the Father after his birth from Mary.

Credits:
  • The arch-villain in Star Wars coming to his end.
  • Golden eagle depiction from The Rabbis and Herod’s Golden Eagle https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/rabbis-herods-golden-eagle/

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