Tuesday, December 2, 2014

From 139 BCE to 139 CE: The Fight To Remain Monotheistic

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                        

Ever since the Greek civilization from about 776 BCE to 146 CE, mankind in that area had been believing in many gods living in the upper stratosphere of Olympus who either were pure gods who could accomplish great godly feats or could mate with humans to create half-gods. The Greek pantheon came into existence just before Assyria attacked Israel in 722 BCE.   The king of the gods was Zeus and his queen was Hera.  Others in the family were Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Dionysus, Hades, Poseidon, Aphrodite, Artemis, Athena and others.  People built temples for their favorite god or goddess.  Each had a particular talent and could perform wondrous things.
The Romans, also from c 509 BCE -313 CE, adopted this religion as they had attacked Greece, and many Greeks became their slaves. The religion became more of a  complex interrelations between gods and humans than the Greeks saw them.    They used Latin names for the same gods such as the king was Jupiter and the queen was Juno.  There were also Neptune, Pluto, Apollo, Diana, Mars, Venus and many more.The collection of all their gods was called  the Pantheon.  " Under Emperor Diocletian, the persecution of Christians reached its peak. However, it became an officially supported religion in the Roman state under Diocletian's successor,Constantine I, with the signing of the Edict of Milan in 313, and quickly became dominant. All religions except Christianity were prohibited in 391 CE by an edict of Emperor Theodosius
                                             Idol from Ur-where Abraham lived and left
                                              His father, Terah, had been an idol maker.

Mesopotamia itself also believed in many gods and goddesses, hundreds of them, such as Baal.  Their story of the beginning of the world was that gods and goddesses were depicted like humans who were tired of working, and so they created humans to do their work.  Their gods controlled the world and included demons and monsters.
Do you get the picture of what Abraham, born about 2,000 BCE was fighting against with his idea of monotheism?  He didn't want his children to believe that idols were gods so left Ur with his father, wife, and household and moved to a better place. His father's occupation had been that of an idol maker!  Abraham put an end to that!   The family line was interrupted by becoming slaves for 400 years in Egypt, another place of many gods.  Egypt had many gods and goddesses also, the first being Atum who then spit out Shu and Tefnut, etc.
So by the time Moses, who died in 1271 BCE,  went through the change of being spoken to by G-d and  also embracing his people's original belief in one G-d that Abraham had also been enlightened about through G-d,  we see he had his hands full trying to educate 600,000 people into following a monotheistic religion instead of a polytheistic one. The Ibrus knew they were a special people who were set apart to believe in one G-d, though, long ago.   Even he had to go through a metamorphosis from being reared in Egyptian polytheism to finding out he  actually was from Israelite parents and undergoing a strict monotheist belief.  I have a feeling that those genes were doing their thing and he had been fighting against the Egyptian culture and beliefs anyway.  He could have been growing up feeling different.

We come to the year 139 BCE during the Roman heyday of Rome attacking a world to create their empire.  Their eyes are on Judah, who has already been attacked way back in 722 BCE by the Assyrians and then twice again 200 years later by the Babylonians in 597 BCE and 586 BCE where each time their people were stolen away to become slaves.   Now Jews in 139 (the name of Judeans) have a community of their own right in Rome.  When Rome burned down Jerusalem in 70 CE and took people as slaves, those slaves later wound up living in this community.

Rome appointed their own king over Judea, Herod I, 3 years later when they took over the site and started to turn it into a Roman city.  Herod was from Idumean parents, a neighborhood next door to Judea who had been converted, the Jewish error of trying to convert people who weren't ready to understand the meaning of their monotheistic set of laws.  The Jews rioted when he died and the Roman response to this was to crucify 2,000 Jews.

By 30 BCE another of Herod's descendants ruled Judah, Herod the Great.  Julius Caesar had 25,000 Jews crucified from then till 70 CE.  The Roman General Publius Quinetilius Varus crucified 2,000 Jews to stop more uprisings against them.

25 years later in 5 BCE, Roman soldiers were stationed in Bethlehem, Judea, Jerusalem.  They were living there and worshipping their own gods, no doubt.  The Roman soldiers were from Greece, Gaul and Syria.  This is when they were given to the orders of King Herod to kill all male children under age 2.

By 1 CE, the first year of our calendar, a Jewish zealot, Abba Sikra who lived in Jerusalem helped to escape out from Jerusalem during a revolt.  By the year 6, there were Jews living in France, Luxembourg and along the Rhine River in Germany.

Pontius Pilate was ruling in Judea, which became Judea through Roman naming from Judah.  By the year  29, Jesus was crucified during his rule which started the narration of Christianity.  

 By the year 39, Jews were living in Lyon, France. Jews who migrated away in this direction were later called Ashkenazis.

25,000 Jews were crucified by Herod until 70 CE.  Jews were trying to flee from Jerusalem before around the years 61 on who saw what the Roman Occupation was plotting.

The Jews fought the Romans from 66 to 73 even though Judaea had become a Roman Province and their occupation meant they were expected to accept the Roman gods and goddesses.  The Romans resorted to bringing out 5 Legions of 60,000 to 80,000 men at the Jerusalem siege.  Judaea had 200 Sicarii fighting.  20,000  Roman soldiers were killed and 25,000 to 30,000 Judean rebels were killed with 10,000 radical factions of other groups.  Finally, 1.1 million Jewish militants and civilians were killed and the rest were enslaved.  Some were taken to the mines in Egypt to slave away there.  Some were used in circuses for entertainment or food for the lions.
The Romans took away 97,000 Jewish slaves from Judaea in 70 CE after burning down Jerusalem.  They celebrated by doing the regular Roman parade-the parade of bringing in slaves to Rome and this was pictured on the Arch of Titus, the General who led them.  He would then become the emperor.  The Romans took everything; the Menorah, things from the Temple of value as well as the slaves.

In 73, the 960 Sicarii fighters held up at Masada in one of Herod's Palaces with their wives and children. They held the Romans off for 3 months but were being attacked by 15,000 Roman troops, so they committed suicide.  1 woman and 5 children lived to tell the tale to Josephus.  

From 37 to 100, The Romans occupied Judaea.  Jews were taken away or escaped while some remained in Judaea.  40,000 survived.  

By the year 60, Nero was the Roman ruler.  There were 700,000 Jews in Judaea and 1,500,000 Jews scattered and living in other places.  In all, the Jewish population in the world at this time was about 4,200,000.  
A very brave Jewish man, Bar Kochba, a General, led a final attack against the Romans for Jerusalem in 132.  He had taken Jerusalem and kept it for 3 years with his men but was killed in the final battle in 135.  The Romans were furious and engaged in mass executions and enslavement.  They destroyed the remaining Judeaean towns and said that no Jew could live in Jerusalem.  Jews became a permanent exiled people with no national homeland.  Those Jews living in the Negev and Galilee were restricted with new laws and more taxes, lots of discrimination and social exclusions. 

 The Romans brought in the culturally pagan Syro-Phoenicians and others to populate the land.  At this time, Judaea was known as Syria Palestina.  The following people, the Crusaders who came after the Romans, alienated Jews from the land of Israel and Judaea and worked to ensure that no Jewish Temple, Jerusalem or state ever rose again.  

Throughout all this surrus and  heartache, Jews involved in the Jewish religion kept together to keep it alive.  
The Jewish family in Rome, the Kalonymos, who were prominent and were leaders and rabbis, were expelled from Rome along with all the other Jews in 139.  Jews had no choice but to go into the unknown lands of Europe or back to Mesopotamia from where they originally had come from.  They traveled with their religion and kept it alive.  

The next city they went to was in Worms, Germany which became a Jewish center. They studied, taught, debated, worshipped together and discussed the points of their religion.     

All this from the desire and need to remain their own people and continue what Moses had started; the belief in one G-d only; to be the light of the world for others to learn from, to practice the law given by Moses which concerned the way to not treat others-to not  treat them as you would not want to be treated.  

That we live and love in this world and it is this world that is the most important and that we must learn to abide each other.  This was the message that Moses brought to us.  The world had no respect for life and it is living that is most important.  If you want to get G-d's attention, follow the law, respect life, and do right by each other instead of stabbing them in the back.  

To date, Jews are still being persecuted and attacked and people,  especially those in the Middle East, have not learned a thing at all about how to treat their neighbors and live with each other responsibly.  They keep thinking that this light isn't good enough and have wanted more.  Has it helped?  
History goes in circles.  The TV History 2 program intimates that space aliens are really the gods of the past, and have been here for a long time doing such acts as lifting stones and such that people couldn't possibly do.  Here we go again with multiple gods and goddesses who are really outer space travelers, wouldn't you know?  Some even have come from different styles of governments and have fought each other just like the movies we have seen, but by gosh, all the drawings in the caves are of the aliens (spacemen, that is) we see in drawings.

For us, man is a man, not a god.  Man is special enough anyway, a step above the animals we are responsible for.  We are made in G-d's image but we aren't to draw a picture of god or depict him.  For us he is indivisible and spiritual as well as infinite (no end to him).  Man is finite (we end)  physically and also has perceptual and intellectual abilities that are also finite.

If such as G-d were capable of being altered and transformed by man, even killed and destroyed,  this would not be G-d, the omnipotent and omnipresent spiritual Being in whom we express our faith.  Our conception of G-d is of a moral G-d who demands moral, ethical living and justice of all mankind.  The notion of man becoming G-d or G-d assuming the form of man is repugnant to the Jewish religious spirit.  The Jewish mind and faith cannot accept the notion of the infinite Divine reducing Himself to a finite mortal.  Such things were happening all the time in the Greek and Roman religions.  Our 2nd of the 10 Commandments is "You shall not make for yourself a sculptured image...you shall not bow down to them nor serve them." and this brings to mind exactly what had been going on in other lands.

The sin of the Golden calf  that happened when Moses went up the mountain of Sinai and didn't come back quickly wasn't that the Israelites suddenly denied their belief in G-d and thought the calf to be G-d, but that they insisted on a visual image to represent Him.  
Let no person think Judaism is a dead religion and has been replaced.  It has kept up with every generation by rabbis who are very aware of their responsibilities.  Though one book ended, the Book of Moses,  it is continually explored for its message.  Others have been written by the prophets, and since then more writings have been going on, re-teaching the message so that people of all ages understand. For a people to have been practicing this monotheistic way of life for the past 3,325 years since meeting Moses, or the past 4,000 years since Abraham,  we have learned many things.

Resource: http://greekgodsandgoddesses.net/
To Be a Jew, by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin
http://israel-nadene.blogspot.com/2014/08/jews-living-in-judea-samaria-and-other.html Timeline

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