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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Once We Were Kings!

Of the end of days, Daniel 8:22 says - One was broken and four came instead - that means: four kingdoms will arise out of a nation, but without its power. When their kingdoms are at an end, when the measure of transgressions has been fulfilled, then a king will arise, impudent and versed in intrigue. He will have great strength, but not through his own strength. He will be extraordinarily destructive; he will prosper in what he does, and destroy the mighty and the people of holy ones. By his cunning, he will use deceit successfully. He will make great plans, will destroy many, taking them unawares and will rise up against the chief of chiefs, but will be broken, not by human hands.  

What you're about to read is an (edited) explanation provided by Rabbi Eliyahu Bunin on Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman known as the Vilna Gaon, who was commenting on The Zohar of Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai. From the Book Sod (Secrets) Hachashmal- on the end of days prophecy.

It is written there will be 44 kings of Edom. The 45th, the Zohar says will not arise, and 45 is gematria (Hebrew numerology) 'geula' (redemption). The Zohar gives very clear signs about the 44th King of Edom including his three inherent lineages - Eisav (Esau Jacob's son), Yishmael (Ab(v)ram's first son with Pharaoh's daughter Hagar), and Ham (Noah's son). A possible allusion to President Barack Obama?

How do we know that Edom is America and not Rome as per tradition and that these are the end of days? Each nation using the Eagle on their flags or coat of arms descends in some way from (Esau) and is part of the nation of Edom. The USA is the last of the great Edomic nations to have been formed. The Vilna Gaon explains Rabbi Shimon was explaining the secret of the last lines of the book of Daniel 12:12: The signs of Moshiach (Messiah) will be seen in the 1290th year; lucky is the one who lives and sees the year 1335. The difference is 45 and a hint of 'geula'. Rabbi Shimon explains the secret of the year 1290...

When Yishmael died, his soul went to H-Shem (G-d) and demanded that his decedents will live in the Holy Land (Israel) because he claimed that he is the son of Avraham, and H-Shem promised that Avraham's children will live in the land of Israel. As it is written in the Hebrew Bible, it does not say that Avraham blessed his son Yitzchak (Isaac) with Israel (Jacob) - this is written only in other works including Talmud and midrash). H-Shem said, I will grant Yishmael's request in the merit of his bris (circumcision or covenant). However, since your (Yishmael's) bris is without priya (separation of the inner layer of the foreskin from its outer layer) it is incorrect, therefore your descendants will only live in Israel (the Holy Land) for a limited time.

H-Shem told Yishmael that for each of the (age) 13 years, when you do your bris (the age at which Yishmael was circumcised), I will give you 100 years, ie. a total 1300 years. Rabbi Shimon says that 10 years before the end of this period, I (H-Shem) will give a sign in the world that not only is the end of time (in Israel) for Yishmael nearing, but the unlimited time has also arrived for Jews to be in the land. This it is very clearly written in the Zohar in 2 parshiot (verse/section):Vayera (where Sodom and Amora {Gemora} is destroyed), and the end of Balak (the King who wanted to defeat Israel, before they entered the land at the time of Moses). Here it is written that in the end of days, Yishmael will take a fiery sword and will cut down two towers in the capital city of Edom right before Rosh Hashanah. From this time, Yishmael will spill a lot of blood all over the world, and will cause much suffering for Jews and Israel, and when he seemingly wins, he will fall.

So 1290 years from the Islamic conquest of Spain, the westernmost conquest of Europe (considered Edom), which follows the Daniel prophecy is the year 2001 and 10 years later, 2011 was the beginning of the Arabic Spring revolution. In the language of the Zohar, H-Shem's reward for Yishmael was complete. From 2011 their mazal (fortune/constelations) will continue to fall until their complete crash until they leave all the borders of Israel.

The Vilna Gaon continues: It is also written of the end of days in the Pesach haggada. There were 10 plagues. One of them was hail, the midrash concentrates on this plague. The midrash confirms that the hail stones were not only fire inside ice, but it was ''slo'im'' (from 'selah' which means a cliff). When Moshe stopped the hail that fell on Egypt, part stayed in the air in order to fall on the enemies of Israel at the end of days.

A grandson of Israel's first Chief Rabbi, Rav Kook also told me (Eliyahu Bunin) personally of this. Rav Kook united these 2 things, the midrah says SLO'(Y)IM is a hint towards Israels neighbours: Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan (Yarden) and Egypt (Mitzrayim). It will not be hail that falls, but the countries will fall. Rav Kook told me this 7 years before the Arabic Spring.

King David was crowned in the Hebrew year 2884; the mid point of history alluded to in the name of the first born from whom all of modern man descends; Adam - the beginning, David - the mid point , and Moshiach (Messiah) - the end of history. Double the mid-point 2884 made the year 5768 (2008) the end of history. President Barack Obama, the 44th was elected in 2008, so what does it mean the 45th will not arise? Perhaps an allusion to a woman President, maybe a businessman, maybe a President who must accept Israel’s dictate of foreign policy, or some other unforeseeable occurrence? In any event, we are living through remarkable times as the inherent character of man is revealed!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Rebuilding Jerusalem's Temple

East Face of Mount Moriah  time of  Jacob (~1550 BCE)
On the Eastern slopes of Mount Moriah, a high ridge above Jerusalem’s Gihon Spring, archaeology leads to one striking conclusion: This location and its features confirm the recently re-discovered Matzevah as the stone Jacob anointed (Genesis 28:22) as his covenant at Beit El. Therefore, it is also the beacon that will ultimately identify the location of the altar for Israel’s third temple.  


It has already been confirmed that features carved into the side of mount Moriah, immediately below the high ridge, date back to the early bronze age. Further, that the ‘soft’ burial by one of the last kings of Israel, around 2600 years ago protected the high ridge for thousands of years until its recent discovery. Finally small idolatrous items discovered in the soft layers were remnants of that era and do not disprove the bedrocks sanctity. The city walls built by the Emorites and Jebusites over the high ridge would have concealed the high ridge in the 210 years Israel was in Egypt.


Jebusite City facing South-North fortress over Gihon Spring
and city walls at the time of Joshua (~1300 BCE)


High Ridge Art (3).jpg
High ridge as it may have once looked at the time of Jacob (~1550 BCE)
For 37 years the Ark of the Covenant was housed in the City of David, prior to Davids son King Solomon moving it to the temple he constructed a few hundred meters further up the mountain. Some think King David constructed on the high ridge to temporarily locate the Ark of the Covenant, but that's unlikely. In any event, Iron age King David would not have erected a matzevah because that practice ceased with Israel’s forefathers around the Bronze age time of Jacob. Additionally the bedrock was chiseled using stone implements not iron, a sure sign of its Bronze age origin. Finally the matzevah must be naturally formed because it is thin, precisely honed and smoothed, well beyond the technology of that time.

Matzevah Avi .jpeg
Jacob's stone (matzevah) anointed by him

The impressive features including, oil and grain press, vessel holders, small animal pen, liquids channel, animal processing area, matzevah and platform of the original altar are definitive signatures of holy worship. Based on small artifacts retrieved in soft layers, some archaeologists have opined it may have been used for unholy worship, but they misread the overwhelming holy character of the high ridge in context.


The high ridge location on the neck of Mount Moriah contradicts mainstream Jewish custom that the correct place for the altar of the future temple will be on the top of the mountain. This issue can be resolved in a number of ways according to the character and stature of Jewish law and custom, but it will take time before it is accepted as its valid location by the authoritative leaders of Israel. Traditionally the neck of a mountain was always the location associated with the altar, but the first and second temple altar followed the location chosen by King David based on events of his life which opposed prevailing Jewish law.

As the excavation on the high ridge nears completion the public will, for the first time in thousands of years be able to make decisions about this amazing discovery Exposing this phenomenon to the public may just be the beginning of an impressive transformation.  

Monday, June 29, 2015

I Hope Jihad Will Kill Your Apathy Before It Kills You!

A king once summoned a soothsayer to curse Israel. Sensitive to Ethereal opportunity his autospeak, absent of curse was muttered as blessing, a surprise to the king. Still he appealed to the king’s women to afflict Israel’s men via a sordid brand of sexual worship. The recollection ignores Israel’s aging leader whose Ethereal sensitivity had failed, but his most zealous defender arose to defeat the rebellion and kill the soothsayer.
I avoid suggestive images promoting decapitations, gratuitous violence and torture. I don’t need the details, the gruesome facts unjustified by insanity that promotes them. As the years roll on Islamic insurgents invent even more brutal affronts that seemingly meet the intention of their ridiculous ideologies. Still I don’t really want to see, but they just keep creeping directly into media and my social feeds. Now that I have seen so many, am I battle hardened?
Terrorism is such a genteel word considering it describes the acts of murderers, criminals and parasites who rob people of their dignity to further their spiteful cause. Polarizing world views is a well known tactic that progressively makes it ‘ok’ to terrorize for a ‘sympathetic’ cause - can that be correct? Are these images numbing my senses that they and the criminal enterprise behind them become palatable, even acceptable?
Israel’s former Justice Minister was recently asked by BBC of her activist parents - “they were terrorists weren’t they?” “No” she exclaimed they targeted their violence legitimately against the oppressive British Army, not the citizens of Britain or other countries. That BBC would stoop so low illustrates my point such a simple distinction, but the lines are blurred and distinctions already bleeding.
Where are our leaders with Ethereal sensitivity to the righteous cause? The US Supreme Court approved gay marriage declaring the institution that originated as a religious ideal altered forever. Notwithstanding a humans legal right to ‘Marriage’ equality, regardless of sexual preference lawmakers will blend distinction, insensitively eroding the once beautiful ideal of religious cultures and communities that enshrined it in their law.
A gunman shot British tourists in Tunisia. A suicide bomber blew up a mosque in Kuwait. Christians are beheaded in Syria. An angry mob tore down shelves in Tesco’s Birmingham supermarket, another looted stores in France, another burned objects in Sydney’s streets and angry mobs in London clashed with supporters. I’m no longer appalled, just desensitized, awaiting even more terrible moments that will spawn yet more horrific images as “Infidels” in civil societies are pushed aside or to breaking point.
Majorities that subject themselves to the insensitivity of dominant minority ideals and allow their representatives to succumb, signal weakness to even more violent insurgent benefactors. The psychotic condition signals support for those intent on fighting against the views of the majority. Democracies that fail to articulate cultural sensitivities and adopt representative, judicial and enforcement regimes that reflect real community ideals simply beam their collective willingness to concede to the will of opposing zealots. Jihad thrives on apathetic democracies with split personalities and valueless leaders who pursue their agendas at the expense of nationwide sensitivities for the majority. Inevitably the incongruous nature of government, administration and judiciary supports enemies of otherwise libertarian trending societies inviting them to popularize their opposing views to take command.
Your apathy ensures a Jihad will find you and when it does, it will inspire you to fight or lie down and die. Our dynamic world responds to these perceptions and in the end you will be forced to decide which form of zealotry you want for yourself and your future generations. Then, perhaps the world will see Israel’s tentative right shift for what it is and with some luck it will deal fatal blows to criminals whose public incitements prod the majority rule. Until radicals are marginalized and polarized in the civil societies in which they live and minorities respect majority sensitivities, dominance and Islamic terror win!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Deconstructing Prophecy - Hiding the Ark of the Covenant

The recently discovered matzevah or ha-tziyun, is this it?


Every year a story is told about an 8 year old boy, a remnant in the line of King David who was anointed King over dwindling Judea. Inspired to correct the wayward worship of his Jewish people, King Josiah destroyed idolatrous altars and impure objects that had infused into Jewish practices since King Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem. During the turmoil the King hid the Ark of the Covenant[1], which has never been seen since. His successful efforts resulted in the most celebrated Passover feasts in Israel’s history. The nice story[2] is recalled on the second day of Passover exclusively outside of Israel. However, the story was edited to exclude[3] an intriguing, related prophecy some 300 years earlier.

In the 18th year of his reign, King Josiah sent his royal scribe to advise the high priest that all donations must be used exclusively to restore Jerusalem’s aging temple. The high priest showed the scribe a recently rediscovered scroll that Moses himself had written. The King was most upset because the scroll was found open to the section describing Israel’s curses for disobedience including subjugation of the King and exile of the nation[4]. Ignoring Israel’s senior prophet Jeremiah (a doomsayer), the King requested Huldah the prophetess interpret it, her report was ominous.

Motivated to repent, the King marched his hierarchy into The House of Hashem (the temple denoted using the tetragrammaton[5]) where he read them the open section of Moses Torah. He demanded the nation repent, perhaps to counter the ominous sign and the prediction of Hulda and previous prophets about the dire future of the City and its inhabitants. Everyone accepted his covenant and immediately set out on their national cleansing. The high priest was instructed to and removed false altars and all idolatrous objects from the House of Hashem. The King burned the idolatrous articles in the Kidron Valley (below the Temple) and had the ashes carried to Beit-El (House of God denoted without the tetragrammaton). He also dismissed the priests who had permitted these practices, burned the Asherah idol from the temple and ground the ashes to dust, which he scattered on the graves of the common people. He removed the Ark of the Covenant from its usual place and hid it.

At this point the intriguing edit from the Passover passage ignores the gory details of idols that were destroyed and the prophecy: Also, the altar that was in Beit-el (denoted here with a small “e”) from the high place of worship set up by King Jeroboam (King of Samaria - 300 years prior), he destroyed and defiled with human bones. Then, an unlikely continuation the King asked “what is this tombstone I see?” The people of the city answered; it is the grave of the man of God who came from Judea and prophesied about the deeds that you have done upon the altar of Beit-el. The King responded, leave it alone! Let no man move those bones. His bones saved the bones of the prophet who came from Samaria. The story re-joins the Passover recitation when the King commanded the people to perform the Passover offering and continues to describe the celebration.

Precision is the hallmark of Biblical script. Here the word tombstone (above) is written “ha-tziyun”, used once only in the entire 24 books of the Bible, an apparent alternative to the more common word matzevah.

Deconstructing this earlier prophecy; the man of God from Judea usurped King Jeroboam with a prophetic proof that split King Jeroboam’s altar[6] at Beit-el (in Samaria). But, on the way home the man of God prophet from Judea succumbed to the persuasion of a false prophet from Samaria. He disobeyed his instructions and was mauled to death by a Lion that sat peacefully with his Donkey. The false prophet buried the man of God in his grave and requested his sons bury him together in the same grave.

King Josiah’s dueling true (Judea) and false (Samaria) prophets and exclusive reference to ha-tziyun, juxtaposes his Beit-El, Jerusalem (in the territory of Judah) defilements with his defilement of Jeroboam’s altar at Beit-el in Samaria (in the territory of Joseph/Ephraim). This was predicted by the man of God prophet from Judea who apparently did not come from Samaria, neither did the false prophet because he lived in Samaria , so what point was the King making?

This edit and its powerful message must reflect confusion for the reader since the King destabilized aberrant Jewish communities and towns as well as foreign residents who had introduced their idolatrous practices. That confusion was amplified by the split Jewish nation who, at the time could worship Israel's traditional God or idolatry at the other altar’s of the temple and idolatry at Jeroboam's altar. The last-ditch attempt to unify Israel’s disparate tribes is said to be the reason prophet Jeremiah was absent[7] when prophetess Huldah was consulted. The King buried the Ark of the Covenant a contradiction to his purifying, unifying mission.

Although the King held hope, the writers choice of ha-tziyun over matzevah may be the most telling of all. The unique matzevah recently discovered on the high ridge above the Gihon Spring, in Beit El at Jerusalem’s City of David could suggest the retrospective state of national confusion, even to the King. This abandoned matzevah may have inspired the King to recall the prophecy before it was respectfully buried along with the ashes and broken idolatrous artifacts. Beit El and ha-tziyun at this location would mark the northernmost territorial boundary of Judea, which by tradition and Jewish law mark Israel's coalescent. 


On the last day of Passover outside of Israel, Isiah's Messianic prophecy[8] is recalled. In it the jealousy of Judah and Ephraim will be subdued and peace between the warring nation of Israel will finally arrive. Looking at these two days external to Israel, we can imagine a time when the mystery of the true Beit El of Jacob (Jerusalem), a man of God from Judea who came from Samaria will finally be resolved.

[1] Yoma52b
[2] 2Kings 23:1-9, 21-25
[3] 2Kings 23:10-20
[4] Deuteronomy 28:36
[5] 2Kings 23:1
[6]Kings 13:11-32
[7] http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/112503/jewish/Huldah-the-Prophetess.htm

[8] Isiah 10:32-12:6

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Impressionable Incantations

In deserts, caves, tents, honed structures and modern buildings over 3300 years the same cantillations have been used to express the words of Torah - the book of Jewish ritual and law. Many distinguish the 79,847 words or 304,805 letters of Torah, but four rarely used, unique tunes (tropes) characterize stand out words and phrases. Why these?


Two cantillations known as Yerach ben yomo and Karne Parah appear once each in the entire Torah and once each in the Book of Esther, which was written 1000 years later. Yerach ben Yomo in Numbers 35:5 on the letter “peh” of the word word Alpayim (אלפים, two-thousand) is followed by an equally exclusive Karne Parah on the letter “mem” of the word B'amah (באמה, cubit) in the first of four occurrences of this phrase in the verse.


In the Torah’s weekly reading for Masei (Numbers 35:5) these cantillations are made in the verse that instructs how much land must be set aside for the Levites who were not recipients of tribal land, but were gifted residential land near the temple. The Torah instructs Israel to measure off two thousand cubits outside the town to the east, south, west and north side, with the town in the center:- This will be the Levite’s grazing land. The unique use here may emphasize and remind the nation of the essential nature of this righteous practise at least to the Levites who originated the tunes.


Yerach ben yomo means ‘day old moon’ (think about shape) it looks like a cow’s yoke:

פַּ֪ (peh)

Karnei Parah means ‘cow’s horns’ (think about shape) and looks like the eyes:

(mem) מָּ֟

(Please note on some mobile devices intricate details on the fonts may not appear)

The chapter in which these verses appear also covers; the 42 journey’s of Israel on their exile from Egypt to Israel; their momentary disobediences and the character of their resulting long term enemies; the land boundaries of Israel; details of leadership and tribal inheritance; the land to be set aside for Levite priests; the requirement of witnesses for murder; the cities of refuge for the protection of accidental homicides and; the recognition of women's rights of inheritance.


In the Book of Esther 7:9 Yerach ben Yomo followed by Karne Parah simply reads, “Behold the gallows made by Haman for Mordecai, who spoke well for the king, were standing in Haman’s house, fifty cubits high!” And the king said, “Hang him (Haman) on it!” Here perhaps the trope highlights that its not over till its over, or the threat can disguise the opportunity or what goes around, comes around.


Unlike the containment to one verse above, the Shalshelet appears four times in four different verses in 4 chapters of Torah, it means chain (continuity) and looks like the spring:
שֶׁ֓
In Genesis 19:16, on the word "VaYitmah'maH" (and he lingered), when Lot was lingering in Sodom as it was marked for destruction, to show Lot's uncertainty. In Genesis 24:12, on the word "VaYomar" (and he said), when Abraham's servant Eliezer was trying to find a woman (other than his own daughter) to marry Abraham's son Isaac. It indicates the hesitation of the servant to pass over his daughter. In Genesis 39:8, on the word "VaY'maen" (and he refused), during Joseph's attempted seduction by Potiphar's wife, to indicate Joseph's struggle against temptation. In Leviticus 8:23, the Shalshelet is used on the word (VaYishlach (and he slaughtered)  when Moses was slaughtering an animal in preparation for the anointment of his brother and nephews as priests, a position he coveted for himself.


Each incident above reflects a moment of self-struggle and each verb is preceded by  “and” as if to say without it the outcomes would have been different. Each highlights a  victory over temptation that would otherwise have surely changed the course of Israel’s dynasty.


Our final tune of note is the Mercha kefula meaning double comma, which appears five times.


Genesis 27:25 - and he brought (ל֦וֹ) to him wine and he drank, when Jacob deceived his father and obtained blessings he traded from his older brother. Exodus 5:15 - why (תַעֲשֶׂ֦ה) do (you) do with your servants this way, when the Israelites complained to Pharaoh who was inflicting them with hard labor. Leviticus 10:1 - strange fire they had (לֹ֦א) not been commanded to bring, when Nadav and brother Avihu elatedly brought offerings in their stupor. Numbers 14:3 - were it not (ט֦וֹב) better for us to return to Egypt, when early in their exile, the spies returned and made a discouraging report about the challenges ahead causing Israel to stay in exile. Numbers 32:42 - and called (לָ֦ה) to it Nobah after his own name, when the tribe of Menashe settled the land on the opposite side of the Jordan River.
Perhaps the acts of deception, punishment, transgression, regression and secession expressed using the Mercha kefula instruct future generations about redemption.


In summary, heralding priestly rights, resisting temptation and the tribulations that slow  redemption are emphasized week after week, year after year in the reading of Torah to Jewish communities the world over. For one reason or another these tunes survived thousands of years to emphasize these words, sentences and verses.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Can bleeding heart Jewish liberals be cured?

Was Jesus a bleeding heart Liberal?
I recently read “Out of the Cave”, a philosophical inquiry into the Dead Sea Scrolls research. It is an example of the extreme ignorance, perhaps antisemitic bias against the Jewish record and the desire by many to ignore the evidence of Jewish significance in Israel as far back as 2600 years ago. 

The late Edna Ullmann-Margalit exposed these biases, which occurred over more than 50 years of academic research into the discoveries at Qumran. Her honest rendition of events also exposed her own biases against her Jewish heritage as influenced by the international consensus that quickly formed to shape what many hoped would be a momentous event for Christianity.


After the discovery of the magnificently preserved collection of scrolls, the predominantly Christian academic fraternity, permitted by the Jordanians quickly characterized the texts and people of Qumran an Essene sect. They did this to support their religious conviction that among other elements celibacy, practiced by the Essenes was a precursor the missing link between Judaism and Christianity. It was only after 1967 when Israel reclaimed its 1948 land west of the Jordan River, that qualified Jewish academics began to obtain access to the records and inject their cultural knowledge to restore sanity to the research.


It turns out, Jewish academics familiar with issues of halacha (Jewish religious law) were able to decipher much more than Christian academics ignorant and blind to the ways of righteous, orthodox, Torah observant communities. They described a priestly scribal community at the Qumran site, people engaged in extensive holy writings. A people who immersed in Mikvah (Jewish ritual bath) each day, especially those involved in writing God’s holy names, a practice that continues among Jewish scribes to this day.


Clearly this community isolated itself from the ravages of Roman influence on the Jerusalem Temple community of Levite priests to the West. Some of the specific rules governing this scribal community also describe the minute details that motivated their departure from other righteous communities in Jerusalem. Greek then Roman insurgence into the region pressurized Jewish life to such a degree that communities with foresight began to question their own devotions, often highlighting differences between the failing branches of Jewish practices and those that would ultimately survive.  


Edna admits to be a proponent of the Essene theory, but as she progresses Out of the Cave, seemingly she recognizes the importance of interpretations by halachic authorities and knowledgeable academics of Jewish life. However she finds their technically proficient interpretations “decidedly unromantic” and hints that the more exciting Essene theory be momentarily permitted to irrationally define her brilliant academic credential. Perhaps this was too much to ask, because deep ignorance of her own culture shattered her academically compromised view, still she refused to submit to its superior logic.  

I once wrote of Winston Churchill's statements on the extreme anti-Israel/Jewish bias that caused him to pass comment. Winston Churchill said "God deals with the nations as they deal with the Jews. Of every fifty officers who come back from the Middle East only one speaks favorably of the Jews. That merely convinces me that I am right." Edna’s remarkable honesty is evidence, a wonderful insight to Jewish people who have drifted far from their cultural practices to a place where in the vacuum, emptiness and self loathing is the expected deeply psychological response. People who have been torn from their indigenous root and modern societies that recognize them and who pay tribute are testament to the long journey home for the Jewish people.

Reconciling the torrential ordeals of their past makes it difficult for many Jews, but with the passage of time they will all fill the void by bleeding their hearts toward the warm, secure comfort offered by indigenous Jewish custom and culture. Jewish healing has well and truly begun and Israel's unique inner source is being restored to shed light on an increasingly desperate world!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Jews - Crawling Out of the Cave!

I recently read “Out of the Cave”, a philosophical inquiry into the Dead Sea Scrolls research. It highlights the extreme ignorance, perhaps anti-semitic bias against the Jewish record and the desire by many to dismiss significant Jewish evidence in Israel as far back as 2600 years ago. 

The late Professor Edna Ullmann-Margalit exposed these biases which occurred over more than 50 years of academic research into the phenomenal discoveries at Qumran. Her honest rendition of events also exposed her own biases against her Jewish heritage as influenced by the international consensus that quickly formed to shape what many hoped would be a momentous event for Christianity.


After the discovery of the magnificently preserved collection of scrolls, the predominantly Christian academic fraternity, permitted by the Jordanians quickly characterized the texts and people of Qumran an Essene sect. They did this to support their religious conviction that among other elements celibacy, practiced by the Essene's was a precursor, the missing link between Judaism and Christianity. It was only after 1967 when Israel reclaimed its 1948 land west of the Jordan River, that qualified Jewish academics began to obtain access to the records and inject their cultural knowledge to restore sanity to the research.


It turns out, Jewish academics familiar with issues of halacha (Jewish religious law) were able to decipher much more than Christian academics ignorant and blind to the ways of righteous, orthodox, Torah observant communities. They described a priestly scribal community at the Qumran site, people engaged in extensive holy writings. A people who immersed in Mikvah (Jewish ritual bath) each day, especially those involved in writing God’s holy names, a practice that continues among Jewish scribes to this day.


Clearly this community isolated itself from the ravages of Roman influence on the Jerusalem Temple community of Levite priests to the West. Some of the specific rules governing this scribal community also describe the minute details that motivated their departure from other righteous communities in Jerusalem. Greek then Roman insurgence into the region pressurized Jewish life to such a degree that communities with foresight began to question their own devotions, often highlighting differences between the failing branches of Jewish practices and those that would ultimately survive.  


Edna admits to be a proponent of the Essene theory, but as she progresses Out of the Cave, seemingly she recognizes the importance of interpretations by halachic authorities and knowledgeable academics of Jewish life. However she finds their technically proficient interpretations “decidedly unromantic” and hints that the more exciting Essene theory be momentarily permitted to irrationally define her brilliant academic credential. Perhaps this is too much to ask, because deep ignorance of her own culture shattered her academically compromised view, still she refused to submit to its superior logic.  

I once wrote of Winston Churchill's statements on the extreme anti-Israel/Jewish bias that caused him to pass comment. Winston Churchill said "God deals with the nations as they deal with the Jews. Of every fifty officers who come back from the Middle East only one speaks favorably of the Jews. That merely convinces me that I am right." Edna’s remarkable honesty is evidence, a wonderful insight to Jewish people who have drifted far from their cultural practices to a place where in the vacuum, emptiness and self loathing is the expected deeply psychological response. People who have been torn from their indigenous root and modern societies that recognize them and who pay tribute are testament to the long journey home for the Jewish people.

Reconciling the torrential ordeals of their past makes it difficult for many Jews, but with the passage of time they will all fill the void with the warm, secure comfort offered by indigenous Jewish custom and culture. Jewish healing has well and truly begun and Israel's unique inner source is being restored to shed light on an increasingly desperate world!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes, Mordechai, Binyamin

Modern propaganda can distort historical retrospect. To unravel the mystery one must be sensitive to actors and cultures that influenced people of an ancient time. One such example is the great Xerxes, a Persian King of mythical proportion about whom modern movie going audiences are unlikely to ever restore a real sense. Historical documents, archaeology, anthropology and punctuated moments during his rule are the only tools we have to reconstruct his story. One such source is the Jewish perspective, you see, Xerxes is the Greek name of the well known King Ahasuerus of Susa (Shushan), from the story of Purim.


Shushan housed the palace of Xerxes, an ancient Persian city, close to the the border of modern Iran and Iraq. It was here, some 70 years prior that the Jewish nation had been exiled by the Babylonians shortly before the Babylonians, in Shushan were defeated by Persian King Cyrus The Great.



It was the confidence, displayed by Jewish leaders, in their prophecy that predicted the Jewish exile would be limited to 70 years that bewildered Persian officers and kings. Was the prediction arrogant enough for Jews to dominate the will of the Persian King? As the time approached and the intellectual challenge to Xerxes grew more intense, he strengthened his hand, subjecting the Jews to a battle of wits. He hosted an elaborate feast that lasted 6 months and subjected the pious Jewish community to foods, luxuries and practices they were not accustomed. During the feasts his sorcerers served from the vessels that had been captured and only ever previously used in the temple in Jerusalem.


Rapid assimilation became Xerxes objective. Ultimately, when that did not appear to shake the confidence of the Jewish nation, he empowered his officers who would ensure the Jewish genocide. His leading bureaucrat, known through the Jewish story as Haman is considered to be of the Amalekite bloodline that also became Hitler’s Germany, primed and ready for the final genocide. Haman negotiated with Xerxes and paid to obtain the coveted post and access to the impending Jewish spoils.


Unbeknown to Xerxes, one of his recently isolated harem girls, one whom he is said to have favored, became his Queens’ envy. In a moment of jealousy the Queen challenged Xerxes. He banished her and began a courtship with Hadassah the hidden harem girl who was a relative, some say wife of her Jewish nobleman, uncle Mordechai of the Benjamin tribe. As the seventy year prophecy drew closer and conditions for the Jews became intolerable, Mordechai incensed Haman, by refusing to bow. This became the catalyst that drew the events of the Purim story to a head.


In the miraculous series of events that followed, Hester, which means hidden (Esther) influenced Xerxes to see futility in Haman's plot and the insult to her and her people who had fasted and prayed for three days prior to her approach. Xerxes and his successor integrated the Jews into Persian society, they became loyal servants of the King, they were permitted to return to Jerusalem and rebuild. Although the prophecy of return from exile had in fact come true, the significant majority of exiled Jews never returned. Life in Persia had become comfortable, Xerxes had cleverly integrated them into his society, the Jews would empower his dynasty for many generations into the future.


The small number of returnees to Jerusalem under Nehemiah and Ezra, the head of the Great Assembly eventually restored the destroyed temple and rekindled the age old practices of the Jewish people. Jewish influence was then centered in Jerusalem and Persia. For the millions of Jews entrapped in their Persian exile who did not return, modern day Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine became places of their later journeys.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to speak to Congress on 13 Adar, the day Jews remember the Fast of Esther is reminiscent of Mordechai’s incite, but when the annihilation of your nation is threatened by Iran, the very nation over which Xerxes ruled one must surely stand firm!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Jewish Ancestral Path

If archaeology revealed the ancestral, holy origin of Jerusalem and the Jewish people would we follow it? 

It's difficult to imagine how an ancient city developed into a modern metropolis especially when archaeological records are confounded by population settlements spanning many cultures over more than 4000 years. However, Jerusalem has an almost perfect record, the origin of which remained untouched and was only recently discovered. From the site of its origin, the city obtained its holy reputation, on the mountain known as Mount Moriah, but one major event in the life of King David left its mark on our modern retrospective.


I watched a video on the Hamas strategy to attack Israel using tunnels built and destroyed during the recent Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. It was not the preemptive intelligence of the Israeli Army or the conviction of politicians that exposed the high-level threat, it was the seemingly unrelated brutal murder of three young Israeli Yeshiva students that instantly unified the nation and transferred their nationwide authority to their defense force who ultimately finished the job. A similar transference took place for King David at a crucial moment in Jewish history.


The City of David, the original Ancient City of Jerusalem exists outside of the walls people know as the Old City of Jerusalem. The walls of this higher elevation Old City, built 500 years ago, during the Ottoman period purposely cut off the Ancient City, disposing it, relegating its lower elevation, to the garbage dump that The City of David  became. In the following image, the Old City walls enclose today’s Temple Mount, Jewish, Armenian, Christian and Muslim quarters.


Click to enlarge
~North⇓


Discovering traces of the first people that lived in the area required a combination of archaeological science, anthropology, cultural narratives and tradition. Each piece had to objectively fit in order that a theory spanning close to 5000 years of occupation could prevail. Remarkably the intact archaeology and narrative of Biblical forefathers seemed to weave into the perfect tale. Its a story of sporadic dwelling, holy attraction, ancestral honor punctuated by invasion, reclamation, growth, unrest, conquest, defeat, occupation, exile and return.  However, without understanding the nationally inspired authority to act, we can’t contextualize the archaeological "bread crumbs".


This historical rewrite dates Jerusalem’s origin to the Early Bronze Age dwelling discovered behind the bedrock of the cliff face of the Upper (High) Ridge, above the Upper Gihon Pool and Spring. The cave dwelling contains 3-4, hollowed stone sleepers and internal family seating around a fire pit. The approximate location can be seen in the brown circle on the green boundary around the City of David in the (above) aerial image of Jerusalem. The simple dwelling, natural pool and worship on the upper ridge (facing East) preceded the later development of the more structured constructions represented in the image below.


Gihon Ridge - before city walls (time of Jacob)
~North ⇗


The preceding archaeology supports the Biblical narrative of Melchizedek, the Righteous King, High Priest of Salem, said to be Noah’s son Shem. Toward the end of his life he was visited by younger relative Abram, who he blessed. Then, in the immediate years after Abraham bound and offered his son Issac as a sacrifice to God at Mount Moriah it became Isaac's home. Remarkably, there exists a most intriguing artifact located on the perfectly preserved Upper Ridge. The monument or matzevah on the bedrock of one of four chambers, I argue was erected by Isaac's son Jacob when he accepted his new name Israel and began developing Beit El (House of God) to fulfill his covenant made at that spot. According to many well known Jewish sources this matzevah was erected on Mount Moriah by Jacob and marks the place of the famous Jacob’s ladder dream. The same sources suggest it was located adjacent to the altar on which father Isaac was offered. According to Jewish Law the altar on which Isaac was bound is the site of Israel’s Temple altar.


Jebusite City - without Palace or Temple (time of Joshua)
~North⇗

After Jacob left Mount Moriah, him and his descendant nation Israel were exiled to Egypt, Jacob never returned. Some 200 years later, his descendant Joshua returned to find the Gihon Spring, Upper Ridge, Pool and new city occupied and protected by buildings and high walls.


Jewish sources tell of the pact Abraham and Isaac entered with the Father or Nation King (Avimelech) not to dispel his peacekeeping descendants from their ancestral land. Despite attempts to do so by Joshua and the tribes of Israel, until the time of King David some 400 year later, Israel was unable to conquer the city from the Jebusite/Emorite descendants of Melchizedek's brother Ham, progenitor of Avimelech.


Archaeological remnants of the walls of the Jebusite City demonstrate they were later reinforced at the time of King David after he and his men were able to penetrate the underwater channel of the Gihon Spring, enter the city, occupy it and live together with Avimelechs’ remaining peacekeeping relatives including their King. From this city - Jerusalem, his ancestral inheritance, King David progressively obtained control, extending the city and building his palace as a symbol of the nations center, but national authority was not easily forthcoming. Toward the end of his life it was a nationwide pandemonium that inspired the essential, momentary transfer of authority. In the time between disaster and resolution, the King identified the site, built an altar at the top of Mount Moriah and designated it the location of the nations future Temple, which his son Solomon would build.


King Solomon's City - with Temple (time of Solomon)
~North⇗

King Solomon followed his father’s extensive plan, extending the city walls north to the top of Mount Moriah where the First Temple was constructed and where the second Temple ultimately followed. The national unity engineered by King David did not last long, immediately following the reign of Solomon, his son Rehoboam was denounced by challenger Jeroboam and the nation, once again divided. In part Jeroboam founded his national support in pluralistic idolatry. Since then, some 2900 years ago, despite many royal attempts the tribes of Israel have never been reunited.


Jacob left this site of his ancestors for Egypt and never returned. Joshua was unable to conquer it, King David declared the pact of his ancestors void, invaded and recovered Jerusalem city from occupiers. It's entirely possible they may have already buried the high ridge of the Gihon during the construction of their walls and citadel. Eli Shukron the lead archaeologist on the Gihon dig revealed that all four chambers of the Upper Ridge including the matzevah had been preserved in softly packed loose earth between two walls. The dirt contained small artifacts dated back to King Hezekiah. Perhaps Hezekiah had revealed it during his major excavation of the tunnel system that carried water from the Gihon Spring into the city's Shiloah Pool at the base of the Kidron Valley.

Inevitably we must answer the question of the Upper Ridge. Whether King David knew of its existence and purposely obfuscated it, declaring the site on the top of the mountain the altar of the temple, is irrelevant. If Jewish law prescribes the site of Isaac’s offering the only place for the Temple’s altar then we must ask - is the Upper Ridge at the Gihon that place and will we return to the forgotten cornerstone of our Jewish ancestral heritage?