The Apple Of God's Eye

March 24, 2011

Who Build The Great Pyramid At Gizeh, Egypt?

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Did you know the builder of the Great Pyramid at Gizeh, Egypt is identified in the Bible? Not only that, it tells when and why it was built.

Opposite Cairo, across the Nile River, lies the most famous architectural wonder of the world — the Great Pyramid at Gizeh. It is still the world’s most MASSIVE building. For 3500 years it was also the world’s TALLEST building. Only in the last century has man built taller buildings than the Great Pyramid. Yet the Empire State Building in New York is only about 2/5 the volume of the Great Pyramid!

The Cambridge Ancient History“, Vol. 1, page 281, declares of the Great Pyramid: “… its perfect building compels our admiration; its alignment {with the points of the compass} is mathematically correct; often one cannot insert a penknife between the joints of the stone.”

“The Great Pyramid is so incredibly precise that COMPASS ERRORS CAN BE CHECKED AGAINST IT,” writes Leonard Cottrell in his book “The Mountains of Pharaoh“.

Sadly, the external appearance of the Great Pyramid has been ruined by the Arabs. For centuries they have carted away and used the polished white casing stones which once made the Pyramid gleam in the sun and moonlight.

But the interior of the Pyramid remains an architectural marvel. The stones within have not moved a hair’s-breadth since the day the workmen fixed them in place. The flatness of the surfaces of the stones and the squareness of their corners are extraordinary. Literally acres of polished stone surfaces — equal to opticians’ work of the present day — line the passages of the Great Pyramid.

But not all is perfect workmanship. Human imperfection is noticeable in the rough, unfinished masonry on the floor of one of the chambers. We found the floor of the “King’s” chamber flagrantly out of level. All this speaks of remarkable human workmanship — But does it speak of a divine relationship, as pyramidologists theorize? If this mighty architectural wonder is a divine revelation, where is the divine perfection?

Yet the Great Pyramid is one of the wonders of the world. It is the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world which still remains. Surely there is some significance in its endurance through the ages — especially since this pyramid, missing its capstone, is found engraved on our money. Why should we Americans — the children of Joseph’s son Manasseh — engrave this Egyptian Pyramid on our money? Who was actually responsible for the building of this marvel of the ages? (more…)

January 11, 2010

Where Did Baptism Originate?

Water Baptism - Immersion Into God's Way Of Life

One of the greatest miracles of the Old Testament was a forerunner and type of what true baptism pictures today. It was the Exodus of Israel out of Egypt.

In I Corinthians 10:11, God reveals that these Old Testament events occurred to be examples to Christians. Now read verses 1-2: “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, and were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”

The word here translated “baptized” means “immersed” or “plunged into.” Let’s understand the full meaning of this event.

Israel had just come out of captivity in Egypt. God said that He was going to bring them up out of that land of oppression — that pagan land of strange customs and evil ways. So God sent Moses to deliver them from their bondage in that land of sin. Israel was in sin, living the wrong way. And God set His hand to deliver them.

After Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, God brought them to encamp “beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon” (Exodus 14:9). To Israel’s amazement, they found themselves trapped, with the Egyptians closing in on them. The only way of escape was through the Red Sea. (more…)

September 1, 2009

The Power Of Parental Example

“He’s the spitting image of his father.”  — “He’s a chip off the old block.”   — “Like mother, like daughter.”

Expressions like these reflect that we tend to follow the example set by our parents.  How good or how bad an example do you set as a parent?

Children are richly blessed in life if they have good examples to follow. This leaves you as a parent with a major question to answer: By following your parental example, where will your children end up?

To help answer that question, let’s look at some ways that your children learn from your example. Here are several traits you may occasionally exemplify, and what those examples will produce in your children.

Hostility

A child living with hostility will learn to fight. Have you ever been out somewhere and observed children who punch, scratch, pinch, push, bully, swear at and tattle on other children?

If this is their behavior in public, then what must the example they see at home be like?  Are your children guilty of such conduct? If so, from whom do they learn it?

Parents who stand on the sidelines of sporting events yelling and urging their children to win at all costs — and who get upset and angry when their children lose — are teaching a spirit of competitiveness. They are also teaching that winning is all that matters.

Do you know parents who will only play sports if they can win all of the time and who are extremely irritated at losing? They will not play with people they cannot beat. Ever wonder what attitude their children will adopt toward fair play and being able to lose gracefully?

Why not teach children by example, that winning, though important, is not the supreme goal? Playing the game in sportsmanlike fashion and showing concern for the other players is most important.

Children exposed to bad sporting examples quickly absorb the message that to solve a problem you argue and fight. What a pity they are not rather learning that peace comes from practicing the principles that make for peace (Jas. 3:18).

Criticism

A child who lives with constant criticism will learn to grumble and complain. Is the family dinner table a place for gossip, criticism and cynical remarks? If it is, then children are learning to be complainers.

Do you have gripe sessions in front of them? If you must air grievances, do it privately, away from young, impressionable minds. This may take restraint on your part when you have the urge to be critical. Better still, overcome such negative habits.

Certainly, you should teach your children to accept criticism — it’s a tool for growth — but criticism should always be constructive and be given in a spirit of love.

Disregard for law

It is surprising to see the extent to which some “Christians” flout vehicle speed laws and parking directions. Some apparently feel that traffic regulations are “only man’s laws anyway.”

What is of greater concern about such disregard, beyond that you could wind up hurt physically, is that you are nourishing a belief in your heart that you are above law. This teaches children double standards. Derogatory remarks about authority figures — whether police, teachers, government officials or ministers — also set a bad example.

Paul warns, “Obey those who rule over you” (Heb. 13:17) — even when you consider the rules inadequate or foolish. Your purpose is to learn to submit to authority. If you don’t set the example, how can you expect your children to submit to you? Disregard for law and order encourages rebellion.

Unequal love

Isaac grew up in a family atmosphere that reflected unequal love toward his half brother Ishmael (Gen. 21:8-11). Eventually Ishmael was forced out of the camp and separated from his father, Abraham, because of Sarah’s and Hagar’s feelings against each other.

In time, Isaac had his own family — twin sons — Esau and Jacob. But personality differences took root in the family because Isaac favored Esau while Rebekah gave more of her love to Jacob (Gen. 25:28). This led eventually to Jacob’s taking Esau’s birthright by deceptive means worked out by his mother. Not the best example of family togetherness. But where did Isaac learn to conduct his family this way?

Favoritism

If you practice favoritism, your children will learn to be partial. Continuing with the above story, we read that Jacob had many children from his two wives and their handmaids. But the child Jacob loved most was the youngest, Joseph.

The problem with this was in being so open about it before the others, culminating in the special gift of the coat of many colors (Gen. 37:3-4). This produced family jealousy and rivalry.

Of course, Joseph’s dreams and his approach in telling his brothers didn’t help matters either (verses 5-11). The end result of Jacob’s practicing partiality was that Joseph was sold into Egypt as a slave.

Joseph, himself, was partial years later in Egypt when he gave a banquet for all his brothers. Guess who got the biggest share of food? Benjamin, the youngest, was openly favored (Gen. 43:34).

This resurrected a family resentment that resurfaced at the death of Jacob. Joseph’s brothers became fearful, thinking that with the patriarch out of the way, Joseph would take revenge on them (Gen. 50:15).

Hypocrisy

Children see through hypocrisy, especially in the Christian example you set. Do you say one thing — or even tell your children to do one thing — while you yourself do something else?

Does your child know and see that you pray, study the Bible, fast, get anointed when you are sick and serve others? Or does he see a show at Church services each week and general disinterest the other six days? Whatever you practice, your children see and tend to copy, whether for the good or bad.

But what if you yourself have been the victim of bad parental influences and find yourself struggling to change?

God gives encouragement through the prophet Ezekiel. As long as you are willing to take heed to your ways, to consider right and wrong and seek to change faults, you can avoid being an injurious example to your own children (Ezek. 18:14-17, 27-28). You can, if you are willing to make the effort, teach them God’s way.

Joseph and Mary must have set a fine example for Jesus. God the Father must have been especially mindful that a right kind of family environment would be needed to nurture and admonish Jesus during His boyhood years.

With the help of this fine family example, Jesus grew up to be “in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).

Could there be a better goal in child training than this, that as a result of the godly family environment you create for your children, they grow up to be “in favor with God and men”? How richly blessed your children will be if this happens. And what a commendation for you as a parent!

If your family environment reflects criticism, hostility, ridicule and competitiveness, your child will learn to fight, to feel shy and guilty, to be spiteful and hateful and perhaps be destined to end up as an ineffective parent himself.

But if your family environment reflects tolerance, encouragement, praise, fairness, honesty, security and approval, your child will learn acceptance, patience, confidence, justice, faith and to find true and enduring friendships.

The parental example you set has great impact upon your children. Make your example a good one!

Source: The Good News, May 1983

May 20, 2009

Should Christian Men Wear Earrings?

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Before I answer the question about men wearing earrings, we should first see that there is a need to keep a clear distinction between the two genders (male and female). God made two sexes. There is no third category, such as transsexuals.

Even today, there is a vast difference between men and women clothes and fashions, with each culture holding a clear distinction between male and female apparel. We need to accept that there is a gender distinction, a God-given male/female distinction that is defined by a culture and needs to remain a firm standard.

Zephaniah 1:8 states, “And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.” The Jamison, Fausset and Brown Commentary explains “strange apparel” as “…garments forbidden by the law—e.g., men’s garments worn by women, and vice versa.”

Is it biblically permissible for men to wear earrings?

The Bible does not speak directly about the matter of men wearing earrings. However, we find guidelines in God’s Word to follow in such matters. For example, we read where the apostle Paul says that even nature (common sense) should teach us that “if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him” (I Cor. 11:14). When considered in context, it is obvious that Paul was saying it is shameful for a man to look like a woman.

This, then, is a basic guideline. Men and boys should appear obviously masculine and not easily mistaken as feminine. Or, said another way, men and boys should not look like women and girls. Even more clear, however, is the clear command not to cross-wear, that is, men are not to wear women’s clothes and women not to wear men’s clothes.

A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 22:5)

So why is it now common to see men wearing an earring? One is tempted to conclude that because men now wear them, then there is no longer any feminine association with this action. But getting caught up in fads is wrong and it is precisely here where Christians can get caught off guard. Woman’s apparel should never become acceptable to both men and women.

God’s Word does mention earrings worn by men in several places, but they ALL involve God’s servants telling people to remove or give up earrings. There were pieces of jewelry worn on the ear lobe in Bible times (Gen 35:4). While these were generally worn only by Israelite women, the men among the ancient ISHMAELITES apparently wore earrings too (Judg 8:24-25). There is one incident where the Israelites (young men and women) brought their earrings to Aaron in order for him to make an idol out of it. It must have been an Egyptian (pagan) custom for young men to wear earrings. See Exodus 35:22, Numbers 31:50,; and Judges 8:24-26.  Also, recall the story of the golden calf ( Exodus 32). Aaron fashioned it out of the Israelites’ earrings—including the men’s (verses 2-4). In this account, idolatry is linked to earring-wearing!

Popularity does not make gender cross-wear permissible.

Christians need to accept that certain things which are acceptable to people within a culture are not acceptable to God.Why? Because it has crossed gender lines and distinctions become blurred every time men or women wear other clothing or apparel like earrings from the other gender.

Wearing earrings is traditionally a feminine thing. Men just did not wear earrings (in the modern Western context). Women can wear big or small earrings. Both are considered feminine even though one might be popular and the other not. On the other hand, men can wear all sorts of hats or jeans, but not feminine hats or jeans. When men blur the line of gender distinction, they are rebelling against God’s command to not share styles and customs. This is why there should not be any cross gender custom change. It is not popularity that makes it right or wrong, it is God’s word. Because it started off in rebellion, it will remain an item that displeases God.

The Christian attitude should be one of modesty, humility, and service to God and neighbor. Making a male look like a female or vice versa, or going to extremes — being motivated by personal vanity — is condemned. Our CHARACTER, rather than our outward appearance, should be the outstanding and memorable quality about us.

Modesty is the biblical admonition

According to the Word of God, a Christian is not to appear strange or outlandish, either in his actions or attire. In that light, men should also not become all fussy, have their nails buffed and dye their hair. A man bag is still a pocketbook and nail polish is nail polish even if it’s clear and you’re an aggressive stock trader with a firm handshake.

The Bible does not encourage us to call undue attention to ourselves, and it certainly speaks against rebellion (see Romans 1:28-32 and II Corinthians 12:20). Instead, we are to avoid “all appearance of evil” (I Thess. 5:22), and to be a light (Matt. 5:13-16). In short, God wants us to be good citizens and to set a clean and wholesome example of modesty and right behavior based on His law. Therefore, we ought to consider how our appearance will affect our relationship with others.

April 1, 2009

Is The Bible True?

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DID the children of Israel REALLY cross the Red Sea? We are told in the Bible that Israel fled Egypt during the Days of Unleavened Bread. That they were driven out because the Egyptians had been SUPERNATURALLY PUNISHED by God. But at the last minute, Pharaoh changed his mind! It took yet another miracle to deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt, says the Bible — the “miracle of the Red Sea.” DID THIS MIRACLE REALLY HAPPEN? 

Do Miracles Happen Today? 

It is time we asked ourselves if it takes a miracle TODAY for Christians to separate from this world, to come out of this world’s society, and to live as God has ordained? Those who say that the miracle of the Red Sea did not happen are, the same people who today say we do not have to rely on any supernatural power to overcome this world. 

The supreme lesson we must learn from the Days of Unleavened Bread is that, after Christ has PASSED OVER our mistakes and overlooks our past, we have to go through a period of separating from this world — and in this process we cannot extricate ourselves from this world WITHOUT A DIVINE MIRACLE. This miracle is something that God, not man, has to perform — just as God performed, according to the Scripture, THE MIRACLE OF THE RED SEA! God told the children of Israel, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” 

Now let’s look through the story of what really took place during the seven days of Unleavened Bread — from the time the children of Israel left the land where they observed the Passover to the time they crossed the Red Sea. 

Modern critics have all kinds of theories as to the directions the children of Israel took when they journeyed in Egypt from the city of Rameses, where they met at the night of the Festival, to the Red Sea. One sometimes wonders where the children of Israel would have been taken had all the modern critics instead of Moses led them from Pharaoh! 

What portion of the land of Egypt did Israel journey through upon leaving? What is the route of the Exodus? Did the crossing of the Red Sea really occur? 

The Background of the Story 

Let’s turn, for the background of the story, to Genesis 15:18, “In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, FROM THE RIVER OF EGYPT unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” 

Is this “river of Egypt” the Nile? 

Some modern critics tell us “no.” They claim it is, instead, a dry river bed, which flows only in the winter, in midst of the Sinai peninsula. 

But the Bible plainly declares it is the River OF EGYPT, not the river of THE SINAI PENINSULA. It is not the river of the Philistines. It is the river of EGYPT! There is only one river of Egypt — the Nile. 

If God had not given Abraham’s descendants dominion to the river of Egypt, but had given them only a dry river bed in the middle of the Sinai desert, then what right have his descendants — the British and other Western Europeans — had to build the Suez Canal? Why was it wrong for Nasser to have taken over the Suez Canal unless it belonged to Israel in the first place? 

The very fact that God used Israel to build the Suez Canal is in itself proof that the children of Israel should possess the land of Egypt to the Nile! 

Certainly from fulfilled prophecy the river of Egypt is the Nile. 

We have this confirmed in Joshua 15:4. This Scripture tells us that the border of the land in the south passed toward Azmon, and went out unto the river of Egypt; and the goings out of that coast were at the sea: this shall be your south coast.” 

Also in verse 47, “Ashdod with her towns and her villages, Gaza with her towns and her villages, unto the river of Egypt, and the great sea, and the border thereof.” 

When we come to I Kings 8:65, we find the same border: “And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath [near the Euphrates] unto the river of Egypt” celebrated a festival. 

Now we want to find out if God ever caused the children of Israel to possess the territory east of the Nile. Was the land east of the Nile ever possessed by the children of Israel? 

Where Is Goshen? 

Notice what the Egyptians themselves promised for the children of Israel because of what Joseph did for them. Here is what we find in Genesis 45:10, “And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen,” says Joseph to his father at Pharaoh’s command, “and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast.” 

Jacob and all of the family of Israel could dwell in the land of Goshen. But — where is the land of Goshen? 

Modern scholars tell us that it is a small, semi-desolate area east of the Nile halfway between the Nile and the Suez Canal today. This is supposed to be the land with which God blessed Jacob in the land of Egypt. 

Because critics have assumed this is the land of Goshen, they cannot believe that there were 600,000 Israelite men, beside women and children, at the time exodus occurred. 

Of course in this area which the scholars tell us is the land of Goshen, there couldn’t have even been 6,000 men, beside women and children, with all of their cattle. The fact is, scholars haven’t understood where the land of Goshen is. 

Genesis 46:28 tells us more of the story. “And he [Jacob] sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen.” Jacob was coming down from Beersheba in Palestine into Egypt. “And they came into the land of Goshen. And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up [northward] to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him.” 

Did you notice that Joseph was not in the land of Goshen? Joseph dwelt where Pharaoh was. And Pharaoh was at Memphis, the capital of lower Egypt. “Joseph made ready his chariot, AND WENT UP TO MEET Israel his father.” He went up to Goshen. He was going NORTH. Therefore, the land of Goshen was NORTH of the capital of Egypt at this time. 

Now verses 33 and 34 of Genesis 46: “And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?” — Joseph instructs his father to say this — “That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers; that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.” Egyptians often hired foreigners to tend to their cattle. So the purpose was to have the children of Israel dwell in the land of Goshen to tend cattle there. 

Chapter 47, verse 5 picks up the story. “And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: The land of Egypt is before thee; IN THE BEST OF THE LAND make thy father and brethren to dwell; IN THE LAND OF GOSHEN let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.” 

Did you notice that Pharaoh said to the children of Israel, “The land of Egypt is before you, the best of the land, the land of Goshen.” This is the portion of Egypt that Pharaoh is actually turning over to the children of Israel because of what Joseph did! Remember, God told Abraham that his descendants were going to control land to the river of Egypt — the Nile. This is how God began to fulfill that promise! 

Now to verse 10: “And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh. And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, IN THE BEST OF THE LAND, IN THE LAND OF RAMESES, AS PHARAOH HAD COMMANDED.” 

The best of the land, in verse 6, is called “the land of Goshen,” while in verse 11, it is called “the land of Rameses.” Obviously, then, the land of Goshen and the land of Rameses are the same! It is the best of all the land of Egypt. 

The Land of Rameses 

One of the titles belonging to rulers of Egypt was “Rameses.” This title, one of several applied to the rulers of Egypt, existed from the beginning of Egyptian history — long before the “Pharaoh Rameses the Great” of history, who actually began to reign about 790 B.C. 

Ancient Egypt was a feudalistic world. In feudalism the king claims theoretically to own everything. He leased the land out to his princelings and lords (who lease parts of their land to others of still lower rank), but the king reserves a certain portion for himself. 

Pharaoh naturally reserved the best land for himself — the land of Goshen. It belonged personally to Pharaoh. So Pharaoh was not taking land leased to his lords. He is granting this territory to Joseph, who was next highest in the kingdom, for his service. The fee for receiving the land of Goshen or Rameses is stated in verse 6: “And if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over MY cattle.” 

Where were Pharaoh’s cattle? In the land of Goshen, the land of Rameses. Pharaoh knew that if Joseph could bless all Egypt as he had done, his family would also be bound to bless his own stock. But in so doing, the Egyptians granted the right of the children of Israel to this territory. And by command of their ruler all the land of Goshen, the land of Rameses, is given to the children of Israel — as partial fulfillment of God’s promise that Abraham’s seed should extend to the river of Egypt, to the Nile. 

Goshen During the Plagues 

Continuing the story with Exodus 8:22. Another dynasty has risen up; Moses is dealing with a new Pharaoh. One of the plagues is about to occur: “I will sever in that day,” God says, “the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou [Pharaoh] mayest know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between my people: and thy people: tomorrow shall this sign be.” 

And this sign did occur, “… the Lord did so” (verse 24). These flies contaminated and plagued all the land of Egypt where the Egyptians were, but the flies did not plague the land where the children of Israel dwelt. 

The land of Goshen is a particular territory where the children of Israel were dwelling. This was the land that had once belonged to the royal house. God makes a separation between that land and the rest of the land of Egypt. 

Verse 26, chapter 9 tells us almost the same thing: “Only in the land of Goshen, WHERE THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL WERE, was there no hail.” 

Now to Exodus 12:19, the night of the Passover. “And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt” — this was midnight on the 14th day — “from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon [or the prison-house] and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. And HE CALLED FOR MOSES AND AARON BY NIGHT, AND SAID, RISE UP, AND GET YOU FORTH from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said [if they were to stay there any longer], We be all dead men.” 

In verses 34 and 35 the story continues. “The children of Israel … borrowed of the Egyptians” among whom they had been living. The next night — the 15th of Abib — having “spoiled the Egyptians” and driven their cattle, the Israelites came to the city of Rameses. 

Stop for the moment and consider these facts. God told Moses, “Go not out of your houses until the morning.” 

Moses and Aaron naturally would have remained in their house this night — all of the night of the 14th. But Pharaoh, who was not a firstborn son, came out of his house by night to find Moses and urge him and all Israel to leave. 

Modern critics tell us that Pharaoh at this time lived in the city of Thebes in upper Egypt, the land of ancient Sheba. But they are wrong! Pharaoh’s headquarters was at the city of Memphis. The ruling dynasty in Moses’ day came from Xois in the Delta, but the capital of all lower Egypt was at Memphis. This is where the government administration originated. It was at Memphis that Pharaoh that night rose up and went to Moses, and said, “Get out of the land and all your people, and he was urgent on them.” 

Pharaoh could not have been far from where Moses was. That very night, he saddled his camel and went to Moses and Aaron! Wherever the children of Israel observed the Passover was a place very NEAR THE CITY OF MEMPHIS! 

Remember, Israel dwelt in all the land of Goshen, but they had assembled in one particular area to keep the Passover. From this area they journeyed on the daylight part of the 14th of Abib to the city of Rameses, and met there the next night, the night of the 15th! 

The Night of the Exodus 

“The children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle” (Ex. 12:37-38). 

From here the children of Israel left on the night of the 15th! (Deut. 16:1). 

Numbers 33:3 makes it even plainer. The children of Israel “departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the Passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand IN THE SIGHT OF ALL THE EGYPTIANS. 

Between the morning after the Passover and the next night, “the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so they lent unto them,” that is, PAID them, “such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians,” that is, they took their wages that the Egyptians withheld from them for nearly two centuries. 

Then they gathered at RAMESES. Where was this city? 

Let me read what Josephus plainly tells us. Josephus, “Antiquities Of The Jews,” Book II, Chapter XV. “So the Hebrews went out of Egypt, while the Egyptians wept, and repented that they had treated them so hardly … Now they took their journey by LETOPOLIS, a place at that time deserted, but where BABYLON was built afterwards, when Cambyses laid Egypt waste.” So Rameses was the city of Letopolis, which later under Persian rule, was called the city of Babylon. Did you know there was also a Babylon in Egypt as well as in Mesopotamia where Nimrod started his kingdom? 

What city is this today? Josephus, writing in Greek, calls this the city of Letopolis — a Greek name for Rameses. POLIS means city in Greek. A METROPOLIS is a “mother city.” So Letopolis was the city of Letona — one of the names of Semiramis or Easter, the Queen of Heaven. It is the same from which LATIN has come. So this was one of the cities dedicated anciently to the Queen of Heaven. No wonder it was also called BABYLON later! 

Smith’s Classical Dictionary Of Greek And Roman Biography” says of the city of Babylon in Egypt that it “is in later-times called Fostat OR OLD CAIRO, a fortress in lower Egypt on the right bank of the Nile exactly opposite to the pyramids of Giza, and at the beginning of the canal which connected the Nile with the Red Sea. 

The city of Rameses, built by the children of Israel in honor of the Pharaoh, was Letopolis, the very city which today the Mohammedans call Old Cairo! 

Notice the accompanying map. God gave the children of Israel the land all the way to the Nile River. The land east of the Nile toward Palestine was the land of Goshen. That’s where the cattle of Israel were grazing. 

The capital city of lower Egypt was Memphis. That is where Pharaoh had his court. 

The children of Israel, when they assembled in Kameses, were assembling at Old Cairo. Since they reached Rameses or Old Cairo on the night after the Passover, they must have assembled for the Passover a little to the south of Old Cairo — near Memphis, Pharaoh’s capital. Memphis is on the west side of the Nile. Old Cairo is a little farther north on the east of the Nile River. Old Cairo is but a suburb of modern Cairo today. It is just an old section of town. Most visitors are not even permitted today to see Old Cairo because it is such a ramshackle place — though it is not as deserted today as the children of Israel found it then. That is why they met there — because there weren’t Egyptians living in that area. 

Many Bible maps cannot be relied upon. They disagree with each other and with the Bible. The producers of these maps do not use the Bible as evidence, but their human theories instead! 

Josephus at least should know as much as the scholars today. And when you put his evidence with the Bible, it’s very clear that it had to be near the city of Memphis where they kept the Passover! As the congregation of Israel were leaving northward they gathered at the city of Rameses, which Josephus calls Letopolis — Babylon or Old Cairo in Egypt. 

Israel Builds Pyramids 

Israel naturally had their headquarters near Memphis because at Memphis, the Egyptian orders were issued. That is the region where the pyramids were built. Interestingly enough, as we go through the account of Josephus we find the following surprising facts. Josephus tells us in his “Antiquities Of The Jews” (Book II, chapter IX) that the children of Israel were forced to channel [make channels for the river], to build walls for the Egyptians and make cities and ramparts … they set them also to build pyramids after the pattern of the Great Pyramid, and by all this wore them out …” 

The majority of the pyramids start from Old Cairo and go SOUTH, not north. The children of Israel must have labored in the area centered at the region of Old Cairo and on south throughout the heart-land of Egypt. 

Notice a plain statement in the “Imperial Bible Dictionary” (published in England, Volume 5, subject, Rameses”): “Immediately south of this region of Old Cairo there is an area where there were ancient quarries in a rocky mountain, from which much of the material for the pyramids was procured, AND IN WHICH THE POOR JEWS ARE SAID BY MANETHO [an Egyptian historian] to have worked.” 

This confirms what Josephus tells us in his work entitled “Apion,” Book I, chapter 26. Near these quarries on the east of the Nile opposite Memphis is an area called “Mera-vad-Musa, or the ‘Habitation [or dwelling] of Moses.'” Moses was the leader and as he communicated back and forth with Pharaoh it is logical that opposite Memphis, where many of the lesser pyramids were build, Moses should have his headquarters — to this day bearing the name, “the Habitation of Moses.” 

Now continuing with the “Imperial Bible Dictionary:” “From thence [that is, MERA-VAD-MUSA or the Habitation of Moses”] they moved northward, passing, as Josephus says, by ancient Babylon or Old Cairo, and then by or over the site of modern Cairo, proceeding along the direct route to the land of Canaan, as far as Succoth, or BERKET EL HADJ, the ‘Pool of the Pilgrims,’ …” “Succoth” merely means booths — or an encampment. It was where Moslem pilgrims, to this day, can go from Egypt over to Mecca, the holy city of the Mohammedan religion. It is on the way that led out of Egypt to the wilderness of the Red Sea. 

But let us go on to Numbers 33 and read the rest of the account. “And they departed from Rameses [Old Cairo] in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month … and went out with a high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians. For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the Lord had smitten among them: upon their gods also the Lord executed judgments. And the children of Israel removed from Rameses, and pitched in Succoth. 

“And they departed from Succoth, and pitched in Etham, which is in the edge of the wilderness. And they removed from Etham, and turned again [literally turned back] unto Pihahiroth, which is before Baalzephon: and they pitched before Migdol. And they departed from before Pihahiroth, and PASSED THROUGH THE MIDST OF THE SEA into the wilderness, and went three days journey in the wilderness of Etham, and pitched in Marah.” 

The miracle of the Red Sea! Did it really happen? 

What Road Did Israel Take? 

Now let us pick up the story with Exodus 13:17: “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through THE WAY OF THE LAND OF THE PHILISTINES.” Here we have the first of several highways named. 

In ancient Egypt there were major roads which went out of Egypt. One was “the way of the Red Sea” which was southeast from the Delta. Another was “the way of Etham,” or “the wilderness of Shur” which went from Egypt through Beersheba. It was the road by which Jacob came down into Egypt. The third is “the way of the land of the Philistines” which went up from the coast through Gaza by the Mediterranean. See the accompanying map. 

As Israel was proceeding north through Old Cairo, they could have easily taken the way, or the highway of the Philistines — the Philistine highway. Many assume that this road must have been by the Mediterranean. They are wrong! The way of the land of the Philistines extended far into Egypt. 

While the Israelites were still in Egypt, they could have traveled by the road that led northward to the land of the Philistines. But, instead of taking that, near as it was, God said, “Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and return to Egypt,” GOD LED THE PEOPLE ABOUT THROUGH THE WAY OF THE WILDERNESS OF THE RED SEA. 

This is another road. This is the most southerly of the three major roads in Egypt. Instead of taking the northerly route which would have taken them through the land of the Philistines, or the middle route in an easterly direction through Beersheba, they took the road leading southeast into Sinai and Arabia. God led them, not straight north, but through the way of the Red Sea. 

This is the common road that even to this day the Moslem pilgrims take to the holy city of Mecca in Arabia. It is a road that has been used from the very beginning of time when human beings have dwelt in the land of Egypt. 

Continuing: “And the children of Israel went up harnessed [or, in ranks of five] out of the land of Egypt” marching up the road. “And Moses took the bones of Joseph [perhaps from the Great Pyramid just west of Old Cairo?] with him: for he had straightly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. And they took their journey from Succoth,” the first stopping point on this road which went toward the Red Sea. And from there, they took their journey “and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness [of Sinai].” 

At this point, they could have gone straight out of Egypt into Sinai, and Pharaoh never could have caught them! All they had to do was to follow the road just as the Arabs do today — out of Egypt through the Sinai peninsula down through Arabia to Mecca. 

Here they were at the border of Egypt, just north of the Red Sea, not by the Mediterranean. What happened next? 

Now “the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night” (Ex. 13:21). It took them the seven days of Unleavened Bread to leave Egypt altogether. 

God “took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people” (verse 22). “And the Lord spake unto Moses (Exodus 14:1-2), saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they TURN [don’t continue, but turn sharply to the right] and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea.” They now camp by the seashore. 

Where Are These Places? 

The “Imperial Bible Dictionary” tells us again. “Pihahiroth, therefore, must have been the name of some natural locality, such as a mountain, or a range of mountains, a cliff, precipice, cape or promontory. It is said of the children of Israel, when [they were] overtaken by Pharaoh at the Red Sea, that they were entangled in the land, being shut in by the ‘wilderness’ or mountains (Ex. 14:3).” 

Israel could not have gone farther in its line of march. Pharaoh had them bottled up in front of the Pihahiroth range of mountains! Did God make a mistake in leading them by the hand of Moses? 

Israel ended up on an area at the upper portion of the Red Sea by the Gulf of Suez where there is a huge mountain range that comes right down to the sea. When they got into this area, it was like entering a bag. They could not go any farther by land. The only place they could go was out into the water because the mountain range comes right down to the seashore. 

Opposite Pihahiroth was Baalzephon. This must have been a city where Baal was worshipped. Zephon means “the north.” This was “Baal of the North” — the Baal that comes down from the north pole, clad in red and white every December 25! This was the ancient seat of Santa Claus worship. 

They also camped near Migdol. Where was it? 

Trumbull, in his book called “Kadesh Barnea,” page 377, reveals something about the city of Migdol: “A short distance to the northwest of Suez … there is a station, or a pass, known as El Maktal” — the Migdol. “It is directly on the line of the Hajj route.” The HAJJ is a modern Arabic term for “the way of the Red Sea.” The modern El Maktal is “near the track noted … as the ‘Way of the Bed’ween into Ancient Egypt.'” “Wilkinson judged ‘from its name and position,’ that this represents ‘the Migdol of the Bible.'” 

As they encamped before Pihahiroth, which is a mountain range, and Baalzephon, then Baalzephon was on the north, and Pihahiroth was the mountain range on the south. Then between Migdol, in the west, and the Red Sea, in the east, there is an area large enough for the children of Israel to be bottled up. 

The Red Sea is nearly 8 miles across here! There is a very extensive area — many thousands of feet wide — which could have opened up for the children of Israel to cross. 

Crossing the Red Sea 

Let’s continue with Exodus 14:3: “For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.” And God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, “And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel.” Pharaoh overtook them camping by the Red Sea on what probably was the sixth day of Unleavened Bread. 

The Israelites were now frightened. They said in verse 12, “Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians. For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, THAT THEY GO FORWARD” — into the water? No! 

Notice: “But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, AND DIVIDE IT: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.” 

The miracle was wrought when Moses stretched his rod forth. The sea parted thousands of feet wide! Then the winds came in to drive back the waters and to build them up as a wall on either side! 

Now verse 21: “Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back.” It was a miracle! Contrary to seasonal weather a strong wind blew “all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel WENT INTO THE MIDST OF THE SEA UPON THE DRY GROUND: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, EVEN ALL PHARAOH’S HORSES, HIS CHARIOTS, AND HIS HORSEMEN. And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, And took off their chariot wheels, that they drove them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians. And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it.” 

Here was an area wide enough for 600 chosen chariots of the Egyptians to race through, beside a great many troops in order to capture the nearly 2,000,000 Israelite men, women and children. Verse 28, the waters “returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; THERE REMAINED NOT SO MUCH AS ONE OF THEM. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses.” 

Egypt Left Desolate 

Pharaoh’s army was slain. There was not one left (Psalm 106:11). Read Exodus 15:4: “Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are DROWNED in the Red Sea. The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. 

God won the battle for the children of Israel. They were delivered out of the land of Egypt. They now rested on the peaceful shores of Sinai, where even today such names as “Ayn Musa” and “Ras Musa” testify to the Exodus. Not one of the Israelites perished, but all the Egyptians who pursued were overthrown. 

Josephus adds some vivid details to the same story! “The number that pursued after them was six hundred chariots, with fifty thousand horsemen, and two hundred thousand footmen, all armed. They also seized on the passages by which they imagined the Hebrews might fly, shutting them up between inaccessible precipices and the sea; for there was … a [ridge of] mountains that terminated at the sea, which were impassable by reason of their roughness, and obstructed their flight; wherefore they there pressed upon the Hebrews with their army” (“Antiquities Of The Jews,” Josephus, page 76). 

A few verses in Psalm 77 are worth reading at this point. “I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings” (verse 11). What were God’s doings? 

We find them in verse 16: “The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled. The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad. The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: THE LIGHTNINGS LIGHTENED THE WORLD: THE EARTH TREMBLED AND SHOOK. Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. Thou leadest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” 

Thunder and rain and great lightning shook the land that night. In early morning the waters just poured in on PHARAOH AS HIS CHARIOT BECAME STUCK IN THE MUD AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA — AND HE IS THERE TO THIS DAY! 

Psalm 78 also tells us a little about it. Verse 12: “Marvelous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, IN THE FIELD OF ZOAN.” The word “field” here is properly translated elsewhere as “country” or “kingdom.” 

The “land of Egypt” is “the field,” or “the country,” or “the kingdom of Zoan.” Zoan gave its name to Egypt because it was the earliest city built in Egypt (Numbers 13:22 says that it was built 7 years after Hebron and was apparently the first city built in post-flood Egypt). 

The country of Egypt was named after Zoan just as Israel was often named after SAMARIA, or Judah was named after JERUSALEM. 

The miracles that God wrought WERE IN THE LAND OF EGYPT — in the land of Zoan. They mean the same thing! These miracles did not occur in some obscure field outside the city of Zoan near the Mediterranean! 

Egypt’s Historians Admit What Happened 

That is the story of the miracle of the Red Sea. And it is corroborated from the Egyptians’ own record of history! 

From the Exodus forward, Egypt was for almost four centuries overrun by Amalekites (or Hyksos, the Egyptian word for “shepherds”) and punished for having enslaved the Israelites. Even as late as the days of Saul and David the Amalekites dominated Egypt. 

In I Samuel 30 David meets an Egyptian slave left by his Amalekite master to die in the wilderness. “And David said to him, To whom belongest thou? and whence art thou? And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me …” (verse 13). 

The ancient Egyptian historian Manetho admits all this: “There was a king of ours whose name was Timaus [the Greek form of Thom, a king of the 14th dynasty]. Under him it came to pass, I know not how, that God was averse to us, and there came after a surprising manner, men of ignoble birth out of the eastern parts [the Amalekites], and had boldness enough to make an expedition into our country, and with ease subdued it by force, yet without our hazarding a battle with them …” (“Against Apion” by Josephus, Book I, Part 14). 

So the historical record of Egypt, when rightly understood, CONFIRMS THE BIBLE. There was neither Pharaoh nor army left to defend the country! They disappeared in the Red Sea without leaving a trace. Not until the days of King Saul did Egypt recover her former power (See “Ages In Chaos,” Vol I). 

The miracle of the Red Sea did happen! The Bible is true! And the same living God who delivered ancient Israel from the world will intervene miraculously for us today to deliver us from our enemies. If we trust him and wait upon him, we, too, “shall see the salvation of the Lord.” 

Source: Good News, July 1959, Vol. VIII, Number 7, Herman L. Hoeh 

March 23, 2009

Did Pharaoh (Amenhotep II) Die In The Red Sea Crossing?

Filed under: Israel - House Of,Miracles — melchia @ 9:36 pm
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The pharaoh of Egypt at that time was Amenhotep II. The overwhelming biblical and historical evidence is that he did not die with his army in pursuit of Israel.

In Psalm 136:15, we find that God “overthrew Pharaoh and his host (army) in the Red sea.” The Hebrew word translated here as “overthrew” is “na’ar.” This word is also found in Exodus 14:27. It does not mean “to drown” or “to toss or tumble about as in the water” as some have attempted to assert. It simply means “shook off” as is mentioned in the margins of many Bibles and in “The New Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon.”

(Nehemiah 5:13 is a good illustration of how “na’ar” should be translated.) Therefore, these verses simply say that God shook off the Egyptians (including Pharaoh) from their pursuit of the Israelites. These scriptures say nothing of who was drowned.

In Exodus 14:28 we see that the waters covered “the host of Pharaoh,” but Pharaoh himself is not mentioned. Exodus 15:19 in the Authorized King James Version reads: “For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them.”

At first, this might appear to be evidence that Pharaoh drowned. But an examination of this verse reveals that “horse” should not be singular. Verse 19 of Exodus 15 is correctly rendered in the New King James Version (also called the Revised Authorized Version): “For the horses of Pharaoh went with his chariots and his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought back the waters of the sea upon them.” Naturally, the horses and horsemen of Egypt were considered to be Pharaoh’s. But this scripture does not say that Pharaoh’s personal horse, or that Pharaoh himself, drowned in the sea.

This is significant because the death of such an important person would almost certainly have been given special note in the Bible. The Old Testament contains many clear references to the deaths of enemy kings, most of them much less important than this pharaoh. Archaeology proves that Amenhotep II ruled for at least 16 years after the Exodus.

March 8, 2009

Is The Word "Amen" Of Pagan Origin?

Filed under: Prayer — melchia @ 6:53 am
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Some say the word “Amen,” used at the end of a prayer to God is of pagan origin. It is true that an Egyptian pagan  god was called AMEN (the supposed personification of air or breath and represented by a ram or a goose). But there is absolutely no evidence to link the Hebrew word amen –meaning “truth” or “so be it” — in any way to this or any other pagan deity.

What we do find is that the inspired writers of the Bible were led to use this Hebrew word frequently. Surely that is endorsement enough. But, there’s more, as we’ll see shortly. First, however, what about the claim that those who wrote the Bible got this word from the Egyptians?

It would appear that if anyone “borrowed” this word from another people, the Egyptians got it from what was once the pure language spoken by everyone prior to the building of the Tower of Babel. Was this a deliberate counterfeit? In the Bible we find that Jesus Christ is called “the Amen” (Rev. 3:14).

How does the Bible define this word? Notice again the passage just cited. Jesus is “the Amen, the faithful and TRUE witness.” Its use here, directly connected with the word TRUE and emphasizing the TRUTH for which Christ stands, shows conclusively what its meaning is as used in the Scriptures.

If our own use of the word is based on the Hebrew, we need not fear that we are sinning when we use it. Of course, if we attribute existence or power to some mythical god in our minds as we use it, we are using it wrongly and not the way those who wrote the Bible did. See Romans 14:23, last part.

Jesus Himself included the word AMEN as part of the model prayer. He gave for all Christians (Matt. 6:9-12). Therefore it is not incorrect to use it.

February 23, 2009

Between The Testaments, Part 2

From: The Good News Of Tomorrow’s World

September 1971

By Ernest Martin and Harry Eisenberg

After a series of battles with the Syrians, Ptolemy I, the Greek king of Egypt, took firm control of Judaea in 301 B.C. His descendants retained that control for over ONE HUNDRED YEARS, until 198 B.C. This one-hundred-year period of Greek-Egyptian domination is very important in the religious history of the Jews. This is the period in which many great and significant changes first began to take place in Jewish religious life.

“During the comparatively quiet rule of the Ptolemies, Greek ideas, customs and morality had been making peaceful conquests in Palestine” (Charles Foster Kent, “History of the Jewish People”, page 320). There was little resistance to these inroads. We are informed by Dr. Jacob Lauterbach, a learned Jewish scholar, that Jewish tradition knows of no religious teacher who taught any form of religion from the death of Simon the Just (270 B.C.) until about the year 190 B.C. (Jacob Z. Lauterbach, “Rabbinic Essays”, Hebrew Union College Press, Cincinnati, 1951, page 196).

“This would have been impossible,” Dr. Lauterbach says, “if there had been any official activity of the teachers in those years” (ibid.). But there was none. In fact, whole generations came and went, offering no great resistance to the new customs which were encouraged by the commercial and educational intercourse taking place between the Jews, Greeks and Hellenistic Egyptians. In fact, thousands of Jews migrated to Egypt during this period. By the end of the Ptolemaic period, there were over a million Jews in Egypt, out of a total population of about seven million.

A prime example of Hellenistic influence is the PAGAN concept of the immortality of the soul. This doctrine was widely publicized in the writings of the pagan Greek philosopher Plato.

The Coming of the Seleucids

In 198 B.C. the Seleucid kingdom of Syria conquered Judaea and drove out the Egyptians. Like the Ptolemies, the Seleucids were also of Greek origin and equally Hellenistic in culture and outlook. At first, conditions in Judaea were pretty much like what they had been under the Ptolemies. The Seleucid ruler, Antiochus III, was favorably inclined toward the Jews.

Conditions rapidly changed, however, with the coming to the throne in 175 B.C. of Antiochus Epiphanes. Shortly after he ascended the throne, there was a contention among several of the priests in Jerusalem for the office of High Priest. Jason, the brother of the reigning High Priest, persuaded Antiochus to transfer the office to him, by offering a large sum of money to the King.

Jason was Hellenistically inclined and was followed in this by many of the people. “A passion for Greek costumes, and Greek names (Jason’s Hebrew name was Joshua) seized the people. Large numbers were enrolled as citizens of Antioch (the capital of Syria). Many even endeavored to conceal the fact that they had been circumcised …. To demonstrate that he had left all the traditions of his race behind, Jason sent a rich present for sacrifices in connection with the great festival at Tyre in honor of the god Hercules” (Kent, “History of the Jewish People”, pp. 324-325). Of course, not everyone in Judaea went this far, but by and large, most people are inclined to follow their human leaders, at least to a certain extent.

About three years after Jason assumed office, Menelaus (Hebrew name “Onias”), a man most believe to have been of the tribe of Benjamin (not a descendant of Aaron and therefore not truly a priest) offered Antiochus a larger bribe than Jason, and he was named High Priest instead. Because of this, Jason fled beyond Jordan to the Ammonites for refuge. (See McClintock and Strong, “Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature”, Vol. I, pp. 271-272; and II Maccabees, Chapter 4).

Many of the Jews thought Jason had been unjustly deprived of becoming High Priest. Many of the people began to take sides — some for Jason, some for Menelaus. Fighting broke out between the two groups, both of whom were led by outright Hellenists.

Jason’s forces won out and Menelaus fled to Antioch. There Antiochus became infuriated to learn that many of the Jews had taken sides against his appointed official or, in effect, against his government itself! At that time Antiochus was planning to conquer Egypt. When that failed, due to the intervention of the Romans, he decided to take out his anger on the rebellious Jews at Jerusalem. He planned not only to subdue the Jews but to put an end to their religion once and for all.

Antiochus, feigning peace, proceeded to take the city. He polluted the Temple by burning swine’s flesh on its altar, and erected a statue of Jupiter Olympus in the Holy Place. This had been prophesied by Daniel (Dan. 11:29-31). He plundered the Temple of all objects of value and then issued a decree forbidding the Jews to worship God or in any way to exercise their religion.

Despite the severity of this decree, there were many Hellenistically inclined Jews who nonetheless accepted it without protest. Many of these Hellenists were priests and Levites. On the other hand, for many other Jews, the majority of whom may have been only slightly interested in religion previously, this decree forbidding such basic practices as circumcision and requiring idol worship was simply too much.

The Maccabean Revolt

In the small village of Modi’in, the head of a priestly family, Mattathias, and his five sons, stood up to oppose Antiochus and his decree. “If anyone zealous for the laws of his country and for the worship of God, let him follow me,” he proclaimed (Josephus, “Antiquities of the Jews”, Book XII, Chapter VI, Part 2).

Thousands flocked to his banner and a full revolt was under way. Just before his death, Mattathias made his third son, Judah (called Maccabee), general of their army. After a long series of battles with his forces greatly outnumbered, Judah defeated the Syrians and their Samaritan allies. In 165 B.C. he went up to Jerusalem and purified the Temple, restoring the true ritual of God. Judah was killed in a later battle.

Finally Simon, the last survivor of Mattathias’ sons, was able to proclaim an independent nation with himself as High Priest. The nation was now, at last, free of foreign domination. But the years of religious anarchy and Hellenistic influence had taken their toll. Dr. Lauterbach states: “During the seventy or eighty years of religious anarchy, many new practices had been gradually adopted by the people” (Lauterbach, page 205).

The British scholar Travers Herford adds: “In the absence of authoritative guidance, the people had gone their own way; new customs had found a place among old religious usages … new ideas had been formed under the influence of Hellenism which had permeated the land for more than a century, and there had been no one to point out the danger which thereby threatened the religious life of the people” (Herford, “Talmud and Apocrypha”, pp. 64-65).

The Sanhedrin

We are now at the point where the Pharisees first make their appearance in history, some time after the Maccabean wars. But before we note this, we need to examine briefly the rise of the Sanhedrin, the body which they dominated during much of its existence.

While some sources would lead us to believe that the Sanhedrin was the direct successor to the Great Assembly, this was not the case. It was not until about 196 B.C. after a hiatus of some eighty years that the Sanhedrin was first established. This is shown by an ancient manuscript found today in a text called “Fragments of a Zadokite Work”. This text points to 196 B.C. as the year the Sanhedrin first met. This body is said to consist of “men of understanding from Aaron” (that is, priests), and “from Israel wise teachers” (that is, non-priestly teachers) (Lauterbach, “Rabbinic Essays”, page 203).

This is significant! The writer mentions there were both priests and lay teachers in the new Sanhedrin. This was an innovation. Until this time only the priests, with their assistants, the Levites, were considered to have the authority to teach religion to the people.

This would not have been permitted while the Great Assembly, the successor of Ezra, was in authority. This is clearly shown from the writings of Malachi, who was contemporary with Ezra, Nehemiah and the early days of the Great Assembly. “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he (the priest) is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts” (Mal. 2:7). The law of Moses, which God had directly commanded him, dearly enjoined that the priests and Levites were to perform the functions of teachers, not just any layman who would presume to do so. (See Deut. 18:1-7, 33:10 and also Ezek. 44:23.),

Lay Teachers Reject Sole Authority of Priests to Teach

Why this radical change? Again we must briefly go back to the period of religious anarchy when the Egyptian Ptolemies ruled Judaea. Both the Ptolemies and the later Seleucid rulers looked upon the High Priest as the head of the Jewish nation. In turn, it was the High Priest, with his assistants (other priests) who dealt with the Hellenist rulers on behalf of the nation.

Outstanding among these were Joseph, the son of Tobias, and his son Hyrcanus. In order to be successful diplomats at the Hellenistic court in Alexandria, they felt it necessary to adopt Greek ways. And these they brought back with them to Judaea. Thus, it was the priests, the ones who should have been teaching the people God’s Law, who became the chief proponents of Hellenism.

From 206 to 196 B.C. a series of battles between the rival Hellenistic kings of Syria and Egypt devastated many parts of Judaea. Some blamed Hellenism for this trouble and began to seek to return to the laws of their fathers. But to whom could they turn?

The priests as a whole had become thoroughly Hellenized. In fact, different priests were taking sides in the wars and were even raising up armies to help either the Syrians or the Egyptians. The only ones who had studied God’s Word and remained committed to it in any form were a few laymen and some minor priests. These sat in the new Sanhedrin.

What Was God’s Way?

Prior to and during the Maccabean revolt, the outwardly Hellenistic priests and their followers supported Antiochus Epiphanes. The lay teachers and the Sanhedrin as a whole supported the Maccabees. Religiously speaking, the major result of the Maccabean victory was the TOTAL DISCREDITING OF HELLENISM in Judaea. The High Priesthood was given to the Hasmonean (Maccabean) family itself, which descended from minor priests. No one was an outright Hellenist any longer. Many were desirous of following God’s way. But whatever religious unity there might have been was short-lived.

The question basically was one of determining just what was God’s way. There was, of course, the written Bible (the Old Testament). But how were the people to apply its teachings to the various problems and events that arise in daily life? The Jews, remember, had just emerged from a period where the teaching and practice of God’s Law had been forbidden. And this had been preceded by an era of some eighty years during which Hellenism had made great inroads into the daily lives of the people; and all this while there had been no organized body directing religious life.

Hundreds of years before, Ezra and those priests and Levites assisting him had “… read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and (had given) the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Neh. 8:8.). Through the ages, God’s servants have been responsible to show the people (with His guidance) how His Law applied in various situations in their lives. This was never the prerogative of anyone who wanted to choose “the ministry,” “the priesthood” or “the rabbinate” for a vocation, but only those whom God specifically chose. And in ancient Israel, under the Old Covenant, God chose the priests, primarily, with the Levites to assist them, for this purpose of teaching.

The Pharisees Come on the Scene

Following the Maccabean victory there were many priests who were ready and willing to resume their ancient, God-given role as teachers and expounders of the Law. But there were also the lay teachers who had come to sit in the Sanhedrin and had made a notable contribution to the Maccabean cause at a time when many priests were outright Hellenists and supporters of Antiochus Epiphanes. Lauterbach says that the lay teachers “refused to recognize the authority of the priests as a class, and, inasmuch as many of the priests had proven unfaithful guardians of the Law, they would not entrust to them the regulation of the religious life of the people” (Lauterbach, page 209). It was these lay teachers who organized themselves into the party of the Pharisees.

Although many of the priests had indeed become Hellenized, this did not necessarily give the lay teachers the right to usurp some of the priests’ God-given authority. But, sadly they insisted on following the way that seemed right to them (Prov. 14:12; 16:25). However, two wrongs did not make a right in that day any more than they do today.

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