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JRP's Exegetical Compilation: Psalm 68

This is part of my Exegetical Compilation Project, which can be found here.

Psalm 68: This Psalm features God freeing prisoners in the Day of the Lord to come (which Paul in Ephesians 4 compares in principle to the original descent of Christ).

The Psalm starts out with hope of the day to come when YHWH shall destroy the wicked and lead out the prisoners into prosperity, leaving the rebellious to dwell in a parched land! (verses 1-6) That is the context of verse 18, where God ascends on high leading captive His captives–which shall result (as verse 18 also says) not only in God receiving gifts among men from those who are His followers at His coming, but even also from the rebellious so that “YaH God” may dwell with them!

It would also be worth observing that in extended context (indicated elsewhere in the OT), those people who are being saved by God from imprisonment by the rebellious, were put into that situation by God in the first place as punishment for their own rebellion.

I certainly allow that the specific events in view by David are most likely the institution of the millennial reign before the general resurrection (of which the OT has a lot to talk about), and so the rebels who repent (despite being left in the parched places deprived of their prisoners) could be survivors of God’s militant wrath against them (with Egypt sending envoys, although other prophecies indicate she will hold out a while due to faith in her river against punitive drought for continuing to rebel, and with Ethiopia–pagan at the time of the Psalm’s composition of course–quickly stretching out her hands to God, 68:31).

Even so, “God is to us a God of deliverances, and to YaH God belong escapes for death” (verse 20, difficult to interpret or even to translate). And while God shall bring back someone from Bashan (historically a land not only of super-pagans and enemies of Israel but also ruled by Og last of the Rephaim, one of the descendents of the Nephilim, at the time of its conquest and total slaughter by the armies of Israel) and from the depths of the sea–the latter of which is certainly one of the poetic ways of describing places where rebel spirits are imprisoned, and given the ancient context of Bashan in connection with rebel spirits slain and imprisoned by God, namely the Nephilim, so would “Bashan” in this case–in order to shatter them in blood and feed them to dogs (which must refer to a continuation of their punishment)…

…nevertheless, there are indications even in Psalm 68 (vv.15-16) that the mountain of Basham shall become the dwelling place of God, despite Basham being also the mountain of many peaks which is envious of the mountain of God.

(The physical territory of Bashan is somewhere in what became Gilead and eventually Samaria; which matches with Ezekiel’s prophecy that in the coming millennial reign of YHWH on earth a new city and sanctuary complex will be built, along with the restoration of Jerusalem, 30 miles north of Jerusalem for YHWH to reside and for many of the sacrifices to be reinstated. In any case, even though the territory of Bashan shall be desolated by God’s wrath, especially in the Day of the Lord to come, it shall eventually be made fruitful again by God, as its name itself implies.)

And if the rulers of Bashan/the depths of the sea are the same rebels who were imprisoning the people God rescues from imprisonment–where God Himself had sent them as punishment for their own sins–then even Psalm 68 indicates that those rebels shall give gifts to God eventually in order for Him to live with them. Which may be why Psalm 68, after mentioning God bringing them back from the depths of the sea to harshly punish further, states that “they”, same pronoun referent, have seen the procession of God into the sanctuary: which is at least related to (if not exactly the same as) the temple at Jerusalem for which kings will bring gifts to God (v.29). Compare with the kings of the earth entering the New Jerusalem after its descent in Rev 21!

Members are encouraged to discuss this Psalm below, and to add links to discussions elsewhere, either off site or in other threads of this forum.

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The Apostolic Bible Polyglot (which I think is an English translation of the Septuagint) renders v. 20 as:
“Our God, the God to deliver, even the lord delivering the ones at the outer reaches of death.”

A more rigid word-by-word translation would be:
The El {Strength/ Power/ “God”}
Our El
Of deliverances
Yah-weh {“He Is”} ‘Adonay {“the Lord[s]”}
For/Unto death
The issues/outgoings

Should this be interpreted as a direct reference to resurrection, or maybe martyrdom… or both? Considering how a section of this passage (namely v. 18, to which you’ve alluded) is used in Ephesians 4:8, what if it should read as follows?
“The Mighty [One]: our Power of deliverances—He Is the Boss of going out unto death.”

“The Strong [One]: the Power of our deliverances—He Is the Master of issuing forth from death.”

Either way some sort of mastery or ownership of death is definitely in view here, whether for the benefit or to the detriment of the one who (or the One Who) is encountering death.

Apparently the word ḥašmanîm khashmaniym] in v. 31, which you have as “envoys” (and which the Septuagint renders as an equivalent of elders, senators or ambassadors), is used only this once throughout the Scriptures. It is also said to be the word from which the Yehudîm dubbed their Maqab [Maccabean] rulers “Hasmonaeans.”

And, unless I’m mistaken, in the Hebrew here Kush (“Ethiopia”) is male so that the statement in reference to “him” literally says: “Kush shall make to run his hands to Elohîm.”

The Syriac translation of ḥašmanîm means something like “legates,” and the use of the term here is notable considering the relationship between Kush and Kemet/Mizraîm “Egypt”] during the [conventional dates for the] lifetime of Dawid [David]. What would come to be known as “Lower Nubia,” i.e. northern Kush, was then a colonial province of Kemet governed by a viceroy [legate/ dignitary] entitled the “King’s Son of Kush.”

Roughly 400 years later, in the reign of Ḥizkiyyahu [Hezekiah]—Dawid’s 13th descendant-successor on the throne of Yehudah—Kush had conquered Kemet and it was now an actual “son of Kush” who was both the king and “the King’s Son” over both realms. At that point in time the empire of Aššur Ash-shur, “Assyria”] was advancing in the direction of East Africa, swallowing some Levantine territories belonging or bearing connections to Kemet. Ḥizkiyyahu’s country was a natural buffer-zone between the “Egypto-Nubian” empire in the south of the Mediterranean Basin and the expanding Aššur in the east of said basin. The African empire had been agitating for the kingdoms which had so far been conquered by Aššur to revolt against their overlords and it sent ambassadors to Ḥizkiyyahu encouraging him to join in this effort. While it seemed to be a logical move strategically, Ḥizkiyyahu’s prophet Yeshayahu [Isaiah] prevailed upon the king of Yehudah to send these dignitaries away, prophesying that their proposed course of action would lead to its perpetrators suffering a humiliating defeat at the hand of Aššur and being borne ignominiously away into exile. Sadly for the Egypto-Nubians, they went through with their revolution-fomenting and Yeshayahu’s words eventually came to pass for them. The emperor of Aššur paraded their prince and royal dignitaries, together with other victims of his conquests, as war captives in the streets of Ninua [Nineveh]. Meanwhile a client king was installed to replace Taharqa (called “Tir-haqah” in the Bible) on the throne of Kemet while Taharqa himself had retreated to Kush. There was some tug-of-war between Aššur and Kush for Upper * Egypt for a while although the lately under-new-management Kemet’s victory was eventually decisive. The Kingdom of Kush continued in the south but with none of the control it had held over Kemet for just over a century prior to this.

Prophets in succeeding generations would have more bad news but also promises of salvation * for both Kemet and Kush, often in connection with whatever was in store for Yisra’el [Israel] and Yehudah in both cases. Amos is perhaps the most remarkable in that, according to him (in Ch. 9 v. 7), He-Who-Exists YHWH*] regards the sons of Kush the same way He regards the sons of Yisra’el and being just as much the One Who guided Aram [Syria] and the Phelishtiyim [Philistines] from their places of origin to their current respective homelands as He is the One Who did the same for Yisra’el in bringing them up out of Mizraîm. The affinity, with occasional accompanying tensions, between Mizraîm and Kush (who are brothers according to Genesis 10:6) is maintained in these sayings as well as in actual events, just as it is between Mizraîm and Yisra’el (the two of whom also bear a number of familial connections to each other). Both Yeshayahu and Zephanyahu “Zephaniah,” a great-great-grandson of Ḥizkiyyahu] anticipated that there would be scattered children of Yisra’el in Kush to be gathered back into the Promised Land in “that day” or on “the day I rise up for plunder.” Yeshayahu has the dispersed children returning from, among other places/peoples, Mizraîm and Aššur as well (Isaiah 11 & Zeph. 3).

The point of bringing all that up is to ask: Could Psalm 68:31 not be prophesying, at least in part, the Aššur conquest? As far as Kush is concerned, at least, I see a strong connection between this saying and the story in Ch. 8 of the Acts of the Apostles, which would also indicate the 1st-century AD presence (or at least influence) of Yisra’el’s children far south of Mizraîm, even “beyond the rivers of Kush,” as Zephanyahu puts it. (Isaiah 11:11 seems to mirror, on at least a few notable points, Acts 2:9-11, where people have “returned” to Dawid’s City from various parts of the world including Aigyptos [Mizraîm].)

The cloud-rider/sky-rider references in Psalm 68 vv. 4 & 33 seem to gain extended use in Daniel 7:13 where Bar-Enash “the Son of Man”] “arrives with the clouds of the sky,” even though this arrival, some centuries later, might not occur as overtly in the form of Tempest-Master as Nahum 1:3 describes it*, when Bar-Enash declares at His death-trial that “From now henceforth you will see the son of the adam sitting in the dynamic right-sided-nesses and arriving in the clouds of the sky” (Matt. 26:64 & Mark 14:62).

  • Perhaps I would be remiss, though, in failing to note that Bar-Enash did at some point tread on stormy waters, if not necessarily clouds, in the days when He most visibly camped “tabernacled”] in the flesh among the other sons of Adam.*

That was delightful!! :ugeek: :ugeek: :ugeek: It seems likely that’s connected to why sometime after the 2nd Temple period, a Jewish Temple (and briefly a Jewish state) was set up in the mountains of the upper Nile (southern Egypt or northern Ethiopia by more modern reckonings depending on where the property claims were being enforced in recent centuries), which if I recall correctly lasted into the early medieval (or late ‘dark age’) period, if not a little farther. (Not that ‘Ethiopia’ per se existed at that time; it was a bunch of minor kingdoms, I’m just using the term for convenience.)

Anyway. Very squeeworthy.

Mm-hm, that seems very likely, although my interest in the passage was for thematic context in how Paul uses it for a reference to something he thinks is still going to happen in his future, maybe in more than one way but with an eventual greatest completion of the sort Paul has been talking about in Ephesians.

(I expect you know already, but for the sake of other readers passing by: one of the general rabbinic theories in Paul’s day and afterward was that all prophecies would be fulfilled again in the day(s) of the Messiah, with different sub-theories about how God would go about doing that. Part of this was to explain how partial fulfillment or apparent non-fulfillment of various previous prophecies would be accounted for at last; some of it was based on the notion that as the King Messiah would be the perfect fulfillment of Israel compared to rebel Israel, so he would fulfill all prophecies of Israel.)

Whoa! Delightful, even? :smiley:

Your mention of a Jewish temple in Africa sent me in a spiral plunging down into some really fascinating research! Wowww!!! Apparently there were at least two(!) Jewish temples in Ancient Egypt at some points in time: the one at Yebu [Elephantinē] down by the southern border, and the other at Taremu [Leontopolis] in the north, closer to the Mediterranean.

Also! Some very detailed info I really don’t know how to feel about; no idea about any level of the source’s credibility, but ah, well, all this information we call “history” ultimately comes from some random writer’s head and his/her interpretation of something that may [not] have taken place, so anyway>> Apparently when Jesus’ family fled to Aigyptos they went to stay with their prominent kohan [priestly] relatives in the Delta: the Land of Onias (named after the priest who founded the Taremu temple and who was a fairly close relative of Jesus). This is reminding me of something I read back in the day in a kids’ book whose name, sadly, is not stored anywhere in my memory.drives, about how it is thought (I don’t know by whom exactly) that Jesus was related to the Sadducees and that His conflicts with them and the Pharisees bore a familial component.

Are you referring to a completely different temple, though? (I’m guessing not, since Yebu seems to fit your locational description.) The first thing your mention of this brought to mind, however, is Le Chat du Rabbin (“The Rabbi’s Cat”) by Joann Sfar. Have you read/watched it? (Also, before I went digging for more info on what you’d said, I thought you were talking about the Beta Israel of the modern nation-state called Ethiopia [and the Jews of the neighbouring Eritrea].)

This perspective is, as a matter of fact, mostly news to me. (& I’m gonna need to reread most of your compilation to be sure I’m apprehending the knowledge you be droppin’.) I’ve only recently begun to scratch the surface of how the prophecies (especially the BC ones) work[ed] and their historical contexts in order to appreciate which of them might already have been fulfilled, in what ways, which should be considered completely unfulfilled, etc.

Yep, I was talking about the Elephantine Temple. The Beta Israel group in Ethiopia / Eritrea is connected to them; also connected by some links to Solomon. (For those who don’t know, Eritrea is or was a coastal area of the Ethiopian region, previously conquered by pirates from what is now Yemen and Oman across the gulf in Southern Arabia, then conquered by Italy in more modern days before WW2 as part of their drive to compete in colonizing Africa and recovering bits of the old Roman Empire. I can’t recall offhand how much of that coast was recovered by Ethiopia, but that would have been during and after WW2 when the Allies were rooting out the Axis powers.)

I knew about the Jewish enclave up near the Mediterranean, although if I ever heard the name of it I didn’t remember; and that this was the most likely location for Jesus’ family to escape Herod’s reach. That would have been true even if Jesus wasn’t related to a priestly family, but there are various indications that Mary came from a priestly family. (Nazareth’s existence goes back to Old Testament times – a different, older version of the name is found in Joshua when the watchtower was built, and later it came to be used as a staging area for one or two priestly families to caravan to Jerusalem when serving during the major holidays and during their twice-yearly “courses”. That by itself doesn’t mean someone native to Nazareth comes from that lineage but there are a few other things pointing that way; Mary’s cousin Elizabeth had definitely married pretty dang high into priestly lineage, for example.) I never had heard that there was a Jewish Temple at that northern site, but come to think of it that would fit some legends of what happened when the Ark of the Covenant was captured.

Anyway, I haven’t heard about Jesus being related to anyone in the Sadducee party, but He demonstrably had a lot of connections to the Pharisee party (or parties, mostly the school of Hillel but some similarities to the school of Shammai, too. Crap, can’t remember if I’m recalling the other guy’s name right…) The connections (including via Saul of Tarsus being a disciple of Gamaliel I) are so strong, that there’s an interesting speculative theory I happen to like, that the old prophet Simeon who lives long enough to kiss the face of the Messiah wasn’t just some random highly-regarded Simeon hanging out at the Temple (most likely that all took place during that year’s Feast of Tabernacles, btw, with what we call Christmas being the conception and so the beginning of the Incarnation proper but not Jesus’ birth) – but was actually Simon the son of Hillel and father of Gamaliel I!

And while I don’t know of any familial connections to the Sadducee party, I do know of another theory that Papias’ reference to “John the Elder” (apparently distinct from John the Apostle) referred to John the son of Annas, the high priest emeritus who had been politically deposed by Rome but who kept his sons in operation as high priest for decades (the most long-running being his son-in-law Joseph Caiphas of course). John has a brief cameo along with his brother in Acts, just chilling in the background, though not long before Gamaliel’s much more important cameo. But Josephus says he went on to be high priest after Caiaphas; but then was deposed and replaced very quickly after only around a year, for no clear reason. Papias, unless he is talking poetically (which is possible), essentially says that John the Elder was once the high priest in the Temple!

No really hard evidence for that, but it’s a fun curiosity. :slight_smile:

According to a cache of documents called the Elephantinē Papyri, the Jews of Yebu Island acknowledged a certain Anat-Yahu, who has been interpreted a few different ways: that she’s a str8up syncretistic combo of “Yahweh,” the El of Yisra’el, and of Anat, a “goddess” who had been imported from Canaan more than a millennium earlier (around the time of Yoseph); or that she was Yahu’s wife or sacred consort or something of the sort; or that she was a personification of an aspect of Yahu (the last of which sounds kinda like a proto-Sophiology/Sophiolatry). I’m not sure if Anat-Yahu is supposed to have received honours at the Jewish temple at Yebu or if she was just a feature of life in the island’s Jewish community.

This temple was located next to another one, built by other Egyptians for their ram-headed Khnum, and tensions arose between the local Jews on the one hand and their neighbours who honoured Khnum on the other, especially around the Pasakh [Passover], because the former consumed the particular animal which was peculiarly sacred to the latter. Apparently on account of such tensions there was a rampage against the Jews and their temple was badly damaged. This happened in the same time-period that Neḥemyahu [Nehemiah] and Ezra were working hard to rebuild the walls and temple of Yerušalim [Jerusalem]. The Jews of Yebu petitioned Bagohi, the Persian governor of Judah, as well as even Neḥemyahu’s bitter rival Sanballat, for assistance in repairing their temple, which was, according to them, already a very ancient ancestral construction by the time of the Persian conquest of Egypt a few decades previously. Together with Sanballat’s son Delayahu, Bagohi granted them their request for permission to rebuild.

Fastforward about 60 years, however, to c. 350 BC: There’ve been a few regime changes. Though he doesn’t know it yet, the seating monarch Nakht-Ḥor-Ḥebyt [Nektanebos] II is about to be the last ever indigenous Peraa [Pharaoh] to rule all of Egypt as a genuine sovereign. Around this time, the temple of Yahu at Yebu has ceased to function and its place is taken up by the rebuilding and expansion of the neighbouring temple of Khnum. Shortly before or during or shortly after this, the Jewish population either has been assimilated into the more general one or has left, migrating farther southwards into Africa, some say, and ending up eventually as certain groups at present day like the Beta Israel. Persia ends Nakht-Ḥor-Ḥebyt’s reign by conquering Egypt a second time but occupies it for less than 10 years subsequently, until Alexander III [the Great] of Makedonia becomes the big cheese in vast chunks of this region of the world, Persia included. Both Egypt and the Promised Land thus pass from Persian control to Greek domination. D’you know of a revival of this temple after this time? Everything I’m reading about it says it was completely done in the 300s… BC!

Josephus says that it was during Alexander’s reign that the Samaritans built a temple on Mt Gerizzim; and of course it was also in this monarch’s reign that the city of Alexandria was founded in Egypt. Nearly 200 years later Egypt was being ruled by the 6th Ptolemy, “the Friend of His Mother” [Ptolemaios VI Philometor], and by his sister Kleopatra II, to whom he was married. [These two were descended from Alexander’s war generals.] According to the Ioudaike Arkhaiologia “Jewish Antiquities”], at that time, a grievous dispute arose between the Samaritans and the Alexandrian Jews regarding the legitimacy of the Mt Gerizzim temple on the one hand and the Yerušalim temple on the other hand. They put it to Ptolemy that representatives from each of their rival communities would debate before him regarding the issue and that whoever was deemed to have lost the argument would be put to death. Sadly for the two Samaritan debaters, the king ruled in favour of the one Jewish debater, with the hitherto agreed-upon consequences. Josephus concludes this story without further comment on the fate of the Mt Gerizzim temple. (Maybe he does so elsewhere, but immediately following this, he moves on to other matters.)

It’s quite curious, though, that the moral of that episode seems to be that the temple in Yerušalim had antiquity and the Torah of Mosheh on its side, over against “pretenders,” because that account comes immediately after the story of the foundation of the temple of Onias (Ḥoniyyahu or Honiah), c. 154 BC. Although he was apparently supposed to be next in line to become ha-Kohen ha-Gadol [the High Priest] of Yerušalim, he was passed over for another, and he ended up in Egypt together with a large body of his people. Here he acquired permission, so says Josephus, to erect, at Leontopolis, a temple specifically to rival the one back home. Together with his fellow immigrants, for their military and peacekeeping services to the Egyptians, Onias received tracts of land in a district between Menefera [Memphis] and Peramūn [Pelusium {called Sîn in Hebrew}] which for a long time thereafter was called the Land of Onias. According to Josephus, Onias convinced Ptolemaios and Kleopatra that his Levitical project was legitimised by the prophecy of Isaiah 19:19. It also apparently was helpful to his case that the temple in Yerušalim had been desecrated not too long beforehand and that this had been done by the Seleucid emperor Antiokhos IV Epiphanes, the uncle of Ptolemaios and Kleopatra who had become Egypt’s enemy and eventually Rome’s rival. Onias refurbished an abandoned building dedicated to the “goddess” Bastet in order to found his temple therein. It was demolished in the early 70s AD at the command of the Roman Emperor Vespasian in the wake of the destruction of Yerušalim, and this was done in order to eliminate it as a centre for further Jewish rebellion in the Empire. I’m not sure that anyone’s ever tried to connect the Lost Ark to this temple. I’m guessing not since the Ark is said to have gotten lost centuries before Onias’ time.

Here’s my source for the stuff about Jesus Christ having been a relative of Onias. Jesus’ grandmother—Miryam’s mother, whom this article cites as Anne/Annah/Hannah—is supposed to have been a third cousin of the Onias who migrated to Egypt. Hannah’s father (Christ’s great-grandfather) was Jesus son of Fabus, a.k.a. Yehoshua ben Phabet: Yisra’el’s Kohen Gadol [High Priest] who was removed from office by Herod I the Great in order to make room for Herod’s father-in-law Simon ben Boethus (who was also Yehoshua’s uncle?) in 23 BC. Two of Hannah’s sisters were Elizabeth (the mother of John the Immersionist) and Jane/Johanna (a grandmother of Christ’s disciples—and second cousins—James and John). There’s much more info than this in there, most of which I haven’t read, and most of which just looks fabricated to me, but since I’m a sucker for genealogies and colliding-worlds kinda stuff—whether they be from apocryphal, pseudepigraphical and Islamic sources or elsewhere—I’m really digging that aspect of it, and loving what you had to say about Old Man Simon and John the Elder. There might be something to be said, however, for the fact that Simon appears (although by no means explicitly) to be the kohen officiating the baby’s presentation to YHWH in Luke 2, and so most likely is not Shimon ben Hillel. Like you, however, I prefer the alternative.

Well, I hadn’t even heard of that Temple before (not having read Josephus entirely through), so I had no idea when it had been established. But various people trying to trace the Ark have plotted its path through that area, so naturally I wondered if there was any connection. (The author of the, um, book you linked to, DOES actually link the topics, sort of: the temple of Onias was built near the ruins of Pharaoh Shoshenq I, who may have been the biblical Pharaoh Shishak “that invaded Jerusalem and looted the Temple of Solomon”.)

Re the Elephantine Temple: I knew it had been set up in the 2nd Temple period, but not that early (i.e. before what’s usually regarded as 2nd Temple, which usually means from Herod I’s rebuilding project down to its destruction.) I’ve gotten the impression from somewhere that a small Jewish state existed there in the early medieval period (or late Dark Age, pre-1000), but if so then it must have been reconstituted. I don’t get the impression it lasted far into the medieval period (and I can’t recall where I saw reference to it).

Mary’s mother’s name is pretty solidly established in tradition, but whether it got there legitimately I have no idea. The other things I’ve never heard of. The author does seem to be going with the idea (that I generally approve of) that Luke is reporting Mary’s genealogy via Joseph being married into her family. I’m also a fan of the theory that Jesus was conceived on Dec 25 and then born 40 weeks later at the Feast of Tabernacles (a point which interestingly Edersheim doesn’t agree with, yet in one of his appendices he includes testimony that as late as the 400s one of the Jewish complaints was that Simon Peter had usurped both the feasts of Passover and Tabernacles/Atonement for Christianity. The specific rationale for what they were complaining about isn’t given, but seeing as how Passover marked the death feast, and that during this period the celebration of the birthday was officially set to be in December by Imperial fiat, it’s hard to figure out what the rabbis could have been complaining about if not that originally Tabernacles was regarded as Jesus’ birthday. If so, the reassignment of the commemorative feast to Dec 25 – but not to the solstice per se! – would be quite a stroke of genius, thus keeping the spirit of celebrating the start of the incarnation while making the holiday more politically and culturally open to Gentiles and not so tied to Jewish holidays. Hard to say whether or not that was a strategic mistake in the long run, though, if so: it sure helped foster more division from Christianity’s Jewish roots.)

I know what you mean: I easily lost two hours or more just semi-randomly paging through (the internet version of) that book this morning! I can’t tell how much of that is overconvenient guessing or melding of sources – I pretty constantly worry about the author’s ideological slants over-riding his self-critical faculties – but I REAAAALLLY love to study the Jewish historical and cultural context for early Christianity (and especially in regard to NT canon data). Mom surprised me by adding that she had also heard somewhere about JosArim being a double Davidian and allowed to sit in the Great Sanhedrin’s Seat of David. :open_mouth:

Ooh, I hadn’t read that part yet. Also I’d failed to take into account the other occasions on which the Jerusalem temple is reported to have been plundered. I was thinking mainly about the [conflicting] legends that the prophet Yirmeyahu [Jeremiah] hid the ark on Mt Nebo before Jerusalem was overtaken in his time (presumably plausible because the prophet was from a priestly family) and the story about how Menelik I of Abyssinia, the son of Shalomo [Solomon] by the Queen of Sheba, unwittingly took the ark with him to Aksum when the priest Azaryahu [Azariah], who was accompanying him hence, stole it… with some interesting justifications to go with that.

Tried to do some digging on that but didn’t get very far beyond some generally shocking stuff concerning which I’d been very uninformed in reference to the treatment of Jews in Europe in that period. Now all the mutual modern acrimony has so much more context. (Not to mention the fact that the notorious Torquemada was himself part Jewish! My lower jaw practically fell off my face and clattered remarkably ceremoniously to the floor when I read some background on that.) But the sunnier(?) material about the Jewish state whose origin you’re not remembering sounds like some very [as you put it earlier] squee-worthy stuff I’d be very interested in if you should ever recall it.

D’you mean the so-called [Proto]Evangelion/Apocalypse of James?

Is the idea here supposed to be that Peter instituted the “Christ-Mass”? Or at least that there were Jewish rabbis [in the 400s no less] who thought as much?! If so, this is brand new to me :open_mouth:

Aw, man! Now I feel bad (especially considering the user-unfriendly format of that “book,” which I’m guessing is a factor in the time-loss). Hopefully they were somewhat recoverable hours (insofar as time can ever be redeemed) :blush:

I think this might be the same guy who’s stuff I read half my [brief] lifetime ago when I was studying up on my “mythology,” who somehow combines Greco-Roman myth with Plato’s writings about Atlantis and a dash of Mesoamerican history, British folklore and Continental European monarchical aetiology! It was actually interesting and I was quite sure—if it’s the same dude—that he was self-consciously having fun with data rather than taking any of it all that seriously. So rather than something along the lines of Alexander Hislop with his notorious Two Babylons (1800s AD) he was/is more like Alexander Polyhistor (100s BC) and Flavius Josephus (aforementioned), the latter two of whom recount Bible stories about, e.g., Abraham’s younger sons in combination with African history and Greek mythology. Polyhistor even has, based on the alleged reports of another author, three of Abraham’s sons falling in with the hero Herakles [Hercules] in his adventures in Libya and Morocco. This supposedly takes place when Herakles kills his own cousin the giant Antaios, who also happens to be a son-in-law of “Aphra,” the son of Abraham who later gives his name to Africa, and from whom the founders of Carthage are descended. I’m not sure how much Polyhistor or Josephus would’ve cared if people believed these yarns. Which is how I figured, maybe mistakenly, the more recent author in question sees his own material, whether it’s about the birth of Herakles or that of Jesus.

Mom? (Like azzin your mom?) scratches scalp

& are you talking about the Nāśī’? Or is a double Davidian elaboration requested – what be this? So green am I!] different from the Nāśī’?

Yeah, Mom as in my mother. Doesn’t read nearly as much as I do, but she watches docs a lot with my Dad and is more reliable than him about details she heard. (More critical than him, too – she didn’t say she believed it, only that we mutually surprised each other for each of us having heard of it.)

The double-Davidian thing might be the Nasi – I’ve slept since I was paging through that guy’s book, I’m hazy about whether the terms were linked. But I hadn’t even heard of descent from David along both lines, mother and father, being specially honored before reading it.

Of course, thanks to the Virgin birth that wouldn’t count exactly, only by association, but I wasn’t able to parse (as far as I got) how hard the author was leaning on Jesus being physically descended from both lines. (I did notice one of his chapter or section titles was about the re-establishment of the Nathanic line or something like that, although that would have applied to the Lukan geneology if I recall correctly, not the Solomon geneology of GosMatt.)

The establishment of Mary’s mother’s name is a lot broader than that, but again I don’t know where it’s coming from. Hardly seems likely it’s coming only from that text, but that isn’t impossible. I don’t recall any source earlier than that mentioning the name of Mary’s mom, but I sure don’t have a photographic memory of ancient Christian texts (or even have read them all) and being Protestant my Mariology (for want of a better term) is more than a little deficient.

Re losing two hours or more semi-randomly flipping through that guy’s book: no, don’t be sorry, I wasn’t complaining! That stuff was like cake! (Not necessarily healthy, but fun to eat. :smiley: )

Well, not the Christ-Mass of Dec 25 or what specifically happens during that Mass. (The term as it’s used for the Lord’s Supper or Communion actually comes from late medieval times, where there was a subtle controversy over whether both the body and the blood of the Real Presence had to be consumed for whatever effect to happen. The conclusion was that each element, bread and wine (and water diluting the wine), had Christ’s full real presence, so that the bread had both the body and blood, and the wine/water mixture ditto. Consequently, to receive communion only one or the other had to be taken, not necessarily both. The Church tried to relieve the laity about this by enforcing a rule that the laity could only eat the bread, not drink the wine – which had some various other benefits, too, like making it easier to manage distribution during and outside service – and so the service began getting the nickname of the Mass which referred to the partiality of the service. I don’t know when this practice was rescinded; no doubt after the Reformation when one of the marketing positions for those groups still agreeing with the Real Presence was “we got the full Communion here”! :wink: My impression is that it was re-established in fairly modern times, though. Like 19th century or later.)

{checking back before the trivial digression} :unamused: :ugeek:

Right, no, in the excerpt I read they were saying Peter had established a feast for the birth of Christ during Tabernacles. The charge was interesting to me (Edersheim was quoting them for some other reason), because by the mid-300s or later (E thinks the main form of the legend dates to the 700s) the complaint wouldn’t seem appropriate. The only explanation that seems to fit is that they had a long-running complaint about what we now call the Feast of Michael and All Angels, Michaelmass, on Sept 29, the institution of which goes back far into antiquity, and depending on Jesus’ birth year would have corresponded with Tabernacles for that year.

Well, I suppose I could be slightly less lazy since I have Edersheim here at hand, and actually look up the appendix. :unamused:

This is an extended and interesting if somewhat trivial digression from a discussion in E’s chapter 37 (misprinted in the appendix as 38) of his 3rd book of The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, which collects a ton of E’s historical learning as a rabbinic convert to Christianity. (The book was compiled by him and his daughter in the late 19th century, but holds up fairly well today. It was part of a gigantic conservative scholarship effort which modern scholars today are only just learning to recover and appreciate the depth and critical skill of, the efforts having been lost with the disruption of scholarly debate in the two World Wars.) The material being digressed from is an argument that the declaration of Christ about Simon being the Rock upon which He will build His church, reports a gender-term change in Greek (Petros to Petra) which reflects the strong Aramaic character of the immediately surrounding language, and so should be taken seriously to mean not Peter personally (whom Jesus always calls Petros otherwise including when nicknaming him for the first time as reported early in GosJohn) but something that could be described as Petrine, namely the confession by faith. In supporting this argument, E reports that both Petros and Petra had come via Greek back into Aramaic Hebrew by the time of the Gospels’ composition, and goes on to give a (rather subsequent as he allows) report of rabbinic explanation for what Isaiah meant when he wrote (Isaiah 51:1) “Look unto the Rock from where you are hewn.” Christian interpreters would think of that as a prophecy that Israel should look to the Messiah via a pun for Rock being Son (ben), as Paul definitely uses some similar language from Isaiah in his epistles, the stumbling stone and cornerstone being the Son. By the time this saying was passed on, the rabbis were competing with Christianity and so were naturally looking around for something that would work without reference to a Son-pun for stone via analogy to Rock. (The word in Isaiah there isn’t ben, but tsur, so that wasn’t unreasonable.)

Their solution with typical rabbinic imagination was to compare and contrast how God founded the world, on morality, with how a king (a Gentile king by their experience then) would found a castle. So runs the comment (quoting from E here, reffing the Yalkut on Numbers 23:9, with Rab Shem having a similar explanation with trivial differences as noted below): “It is as if a king were going to build a city. One and another site is tried for a foundation, but in digging they always come upon water. At last they come upon a rock (Petra). So, when God was about to build His world, He could not rear it on the generation of Enos nor on that of the flood, who brought destruction on the world, but [now quoting the Yalkut directly] ‘when He beheld that Abraham would arise in the future, He said: Behold I have found a Rock (Petra) to build on it, and to found the world,’ whence also Abraham is called a Rock (Tsur) as it is said (Isaiah 51:1): ‘Look unto the Rock whence you are hewn’”. (Rabbi Shem tells the same story but all the patriarchs are the rock on whom the world is founded.)

Anyway. While carrying the parallel between Abraham and Peter further, E reports some Jewish legends such as that of Abraham sitting at the gate of Gehenna to prevent all who have the seal of circumcision from falling in, and then introduces some Jewish Haggadah about Peter (whom they always call Simon Kepha) the pertinent one being a statement that after his death the Christians built a church and tower and called it Peter ‘which is the name for stone, because he sat there upon a stone til his death’. So as not to digress further into curious Jewish legends about Peter, E then footnotes to the appendix.

After a paragraph talking about textual criticism of the main Haggadah on Simon Kepha (its four known rescensions, including in the medieval anti-Christian tract Sepher Toledoth Jeshu), and a quick mention of rationales of scholars (contemporary in E’s day) for the earliest form and its earliest dating, which can be no earlier than the 4th century and probably more like the 400s after the Papacy had become increasingly important for leadership claim over the whole church (but which earliest form “still seems to contain older elements” as E judges), he continues.

In the story that follows, Peter is actually a highly devout Jewish sage (and not one of the Twelve Apostles, though they are conceded to be Jewish men of good reputation otherwise) who agrees to run something of a con on the Nazarenes (i.e. the Christians) in order to get them to divorce themselves from Jewish synagogues and Temple fellowship in order to stop the murderous strife (here blamed entirely on the Nazarenes) of mixing their company. He proposes a plan that will make sure the Nazarenes will have no inheritance in the next world, and his deal is that he’ll do this if the sages will agree to take the sin of this deception upon themselves, leaving him blameless, which they agree to.

So Peter goes into the Sanctuary of the Temple and by virtue of having been given permission to receive something from the Voice, writes the Ineffable Name and inserts it into his flesh. Then he goes to the “metropolis” (actually the term used in the mishnah, transliterated of course) of the Nazarenes and cons them into thinking that he was actually the greatest servant and chief apostle of the Crucified, by means of doing miracles with the Ineffable Name, of the sort Jesus did when he was alive, namely healing a leper by laying on hands (without thus being polluted) and raising the dead. Seeing this, all Christians swear to follow him and to obey the commands he is (supposedly) passing down from Jesus.

The Christians agree to this, on the condition that Peter will remain with them; which he agrees to on condition that he eat only the bread and water of misery and affliction – E thinks the idea here was that Peter thus avoided eating unclean food and maybe also thus acted in continual penitence for his sin in misleading the Nazarenes – and that they should build him a tower in the middle of the city (the “metropolis” thus being Rome) where he would remain until he died. The Haggadah says they agreed to this and carried it out, but that Peter all his days afterward served only the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In fact, the Haggadah goes on to say that Peter during this period wrote many liturgical synagogue service poems which he sent throughout all Israel, especially to the Rabbis, to be in perpetual memory of him! Edersheim says other Jewish writers also describe him as the author of liturgical poems, one of which is still repeated in the Synagogues on Sabbaths and Feast-days!! :open_mouth: Edersheim doesn’t say whether the Beth ha-Midrash says which hymn this is, but now that I re-read the appendix I can’t help but be curious about this tradition.

Anyway, the Haggadah continues that Peter lived for six years this way before dying, and by his direction was buried in the tower, where the Nazarenes also raised a great fabric. But then a more wicked deceiver calling himself Elijah came to mislead them, saying that Simon had deceived them and that it had not come into Jesus’ heart at all to despise the Law of Moses, so that if anyone wanted to circumcise let him do so, or if not be baptized in foul waters, but if not then it was no great thing as they would still be safe in this world. Also they were to stop worshiping on the seventh day, and worship instead on the first when God created the heavens and the earth; and other statutes which the Haggadah says were not good (though E gives no further examples). When the crowd asked for an attesting sign, he retorted by asking what kind of sign they wanted, whereupon a rock from heaven killed him by crushing his head. “So perish all Thine enemies, O God, but let them that love Thee be as the sun when he goeth forth in his strength!” the legend concludes.

Not surprisingly, other recensions say the subsequent and more evil deceiver called himself Rabbi Shaul (i.e. St. Paul) or John. One version mentions Antioch and Tiberias and other places connected with the lives of Peter and Paul and the early history of the church, but this material contains later Roman terms. One version says Peter sent his liturgical poems to Babylon.

Ah… Me neither. Interesting stuff.

Gotcha :slight_smile:

And man! That’s some XtraXtra-intense stuff from Edersheim! I have never heard any inkling of any of this jazz. Not long before you posted this, I was reading the Haggadah which expounds on the creation of the universe, of Adam and Eve, and even of a cosmic bird called Ziz, whose identity is apparently obscured in English translations of the Poetry books of the Bible. All of that was very interesting but way more benign than these Simeon Kepha vibes.

Amazing! Have you since found anything else out?

The classical Mesopotamian one or the Egyptian one?

No distinction, so I’m supposing the Mesopotamian one (where lots of rabbinic work was still being done).

Oh. I thought Parthian Babylon was supposed to be nothing but a ruin at the time. Or am I suffering from a case of le the bad history? But if it wasn’t a ruin, is there a connection here with 1 Peter 5:13? (I’d always been told that this has to be an apocalyptic [veiled] reference to Rome but recently been introduced to the idea that this was a place, not anywhere in Europe, that literally was called Babylon.)

The original Mesopotamian city might have been a ruin (I don’t know about that), but the region around it wasn’t – all the reasons for there being a huge capitol city built there still applied. According to Edersheim, in the 1st century there was such a lively and pious Jewish presence in the area that bloodlines from Babylon were actually considered purer than in Judea!