Sunday, September 30, 2012

The ASOR Blog | Was this Hyrcanus, the "Wicked Priest"? And was Simon the "Teacher of Righteousness"?

Was this Hyrcanus, the "Wicked Priest"? And was Simon the "Teacher of Righteousness"?  Was Hyrcanus a son of Tobias?  Was he in fact John Hyrcanus I?  If so, he was neither the youngest son of Joseph nor the third son of Simon the Maccabean

1 and 2 Maccabees make no mention anywhere of Joseph being the son of Tobias.  In his commentary (see page 4), Bartlett assumes (without citing) that the writings attributed to Josephus are correct, i.e. that Joseph was the son of Tobias.  This was in spite of 2 Macc.3.10,11: "The high priest intimated that the deposits were held in trust for widows and orphans, apart from what belonged to Hyrcanus son of Tobias, a man of very high standing."  

The writer has 'son of Tobias', not "one of the sons of Tobias" which could be taken as a descendant of Tobias.  He describes Hyrcanus as a leader of some sort, "a man of very high standing", who was not the high priest, but who kept deposits in the temple presumably for widows and orphans.    

On page 4 of his commentary, Bartlett refers to Joseph as "this latter day Joseph in Egypt".  There could have been such a person, but a skeptic would have doubts and think that something was afoot. In the following text which I have edited, notice how the sentence: "His uncle also, Onias, died about this time, and left the high priesthood to his son Simon"  appears as an interpolation.  I suggest that Tobias had died and his son Hyrcanus succeeded him.  

Ant 12.4.10 And [now] Hyrcanus's father, [Joseph] {Tobias}, died. He was a good man, and of great magnanimity; and brought the [Jews] {prophets} out of a state of poverty and meanness, to one that was more splendid. He retained the farm of the taxes of Syria, and Phoenicia, and Samaria twenty-two years. 

[His uncle also, Onias, died about this time, and left the high priesthood to his son Simon.] 

And when he was dead, [Onias] {Hyrcanus} his son succeeded him in [that dignity] {as leader of the prophets}. To [him] {Hyrcanus} it was that [Areus] {Ptolemy}, king of the [Lacedemonians] {Egyptians}, sent an embassage, with an epistle; the copy whereof here follows: 

So was this Hyrcanus (the son of Tobias), Hyrcanus I?  Hyrcanus the son of Tobias apparently committed suicide out of fear of Antiochus Epiphanes (See Ant.12.4.11).  This was despite the fact that he was in a well defended place between "Arabia and Judea, beyond Jordan, not far from the country of Heshbon." (See Ant.12.4.11).  It seems an unlikely end to the life of Hyrcanus.

What did Hyrcanus the son of Tobias think was his purpose in life?  

"And they report, that the answer he made to the king's messenger was this: 'That there was a law of his that forbade a child that was born to taste of the sacrifice, before he had been at the temple and sacrificed to God.' " (See Ant.12.4.8.)

What do we make of the above obviously garbled, yet highly suspicious text?  Hyrcanus had been invited to a celebration in honour of Ptolemy's son where there would no doubt have been meat offered to idols.  The above text alludes to Hyrcanus being born a priest, of the tribe of Aaron.  But there was a law of his (unwritten or oral) that forbade him to eat meat.  As a child he had been taken to the temple and "sacrificed" or dedicated to God.  Hyrcanus was a prophet. 

And this text below?: 

"The high priest intimated that the deposits were held in trust for widows and orphans, apart from what belonged to Hyrcanus son of Tobias, a man of very high standing."  
(2 Macc.3.10,11) 

2 Maccabees covers a period of 175-160 BC.  Thus it was perfectly possible that Hyrcanus the son of Tobias more than likely was Hyrcanus I, a supposed son of Simon the Maccabean, and supposedly "the young man". (Ant.13.7.4) 

Did I Maccabees follow Antiquities and did Antiquities follow an original Antiquities about prophets?

An interesting text is I Macc.12:20-23 etc. It seems that I am not the only person interested in this text - see http://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/12310/how-are-spartans-the-son-of-abraham.  


1 Macc 12 in the RSV contains a supposed copy of a letter which the supposed Jonathan wrote to the supposed Spartans:

6."Jonathan the high priest, the senate of the nation, the priests, and the rest of the Jewish people to their brethren the Spartans, greeting.
7.Already in time past a letter was sent to Onias the high priest from Arius, who was king among you, stating that you are our brethren, as the appended copy shows.
8.Onias welcomed the envoy with honor, and received the letter, which contained a clear declaration of alliance and friendship.
9.Therefore, though we have no need of these things, since we have as encouragement the holy books which are in our hands,
10.we have undertaken to send to renew our brotherhood and friendship with you, so that we may not become estranged from you, for considerable time has passed since you sent your letter to us.
11.We therefore remember you constantly on every occasion, both in our feasts and on other appropriate days, at the sacrifices which we offer and in our prayers, as it is right and proper to remember brethren.
12.And we rejoice in your glory.
13.But as for ourselves, many afflictions and many wars have encircled us; the kings round about us have waged war against us.
14.We were unwilling to annoy you and our other allies and friends with these wars,
15.for we have the help which comes from Heaven for our aid; and we were delivered from our enemies and our enemies were humbled.
16.We therefore have chosen Numenius the son of Antiochus and Antipater the son of Jason, and have sent them to Rome to renew our former friendship and alliance with them.
17.We have commanded them to go also to you and greet you and deliver to you this letter from us concerning the renewal of our brotherhood.
18.And now please send us a reply to this."


1 Macc.12 also contains a copy of the supposed original letter written to Onias by Arius king of the Spartans, which copy Jonathan is said to have included with his letter:
19.This is a copy of the letter which they sent to Onias:
20."Arius, king of the Spartans, to Onias the high priest, greeting.
21.It has been found in writing concerning the Spartans and the Jews that they are brethren and are of the family of Abraham.
22.And now that we have learned this, please write us concerning your welfare;
23.we on our part write to you that your cattle and your property belong to us, and ours belong to you. We therefore command that our envoys report to you accordingly."
24.Now Jonathan heard that the commanders of Demetrius had returned, with a larger force than before, to wage war against him.


That the Jews and Spartans were "brethren" was wishful thinking by the later Jewish writer who was no doubt aware of the story in the writings attributed to Josephus.  The same team of Flavian/Roman writers were probably involved.  "In time past a letter was sent to Onias the high priest from Arius" shows that the writer was aware of what was in the writings attributed to Josephus.  To fight Demetrius , the writer saw the Jews as Spartan warriors.  That Spartans and Jews were "of the family of Abraham" is absolutely ridiculous.

Ant. 12.4.10 has: "And when he was dead, Onias his son succeeded him in that dignity. To him it was that Areus, king of the Lacedemonians, sent an embassage, with an epistle; the copy whereof here follows:'AREUS, KING OF THE LACEDEMONIANS, TO ONIAS, SENDETH GREETING.We have met with a certain writing, whereby we have discovered that both the Jews and the Lacedemonians are of one stock, and are derived from the kindred of Abraham.  It is but just therefore that you, who are our brethren, should send to us about any of your concerns as you please. We will also do the same thing, and esteem your concerns as our own, and will look upon our concerns as in common with yours. Demoteles, who brings you this letter, will bring your answer back to us. This letter is four-square; and the seal is an eagle, with a dragon in his claws.' "

Antiquities has: "we have met with a certain writing" with no mention of where it was found.  I Maccabees has:  "It has been found in writing concerning Spartans and Jews".  Which do you think was the most genuine? You might think that I Maccabees was because it specifically refers to Spartans and Jews, and it is in some sort of context of Jonathan seeking Roman assistance in his war with Demetrius. But did the writer of I Maccabees wish to direct the reader to thinking that the "writing" was really about Spartans and Jews?

The writer of Antiquities had "met" with a writing, in other words he (and some others) had actually read it somewhere.  1 Maccabees has:"It has been found in writing" from which one could assume that the writer had not actually read it.  

Antiquities has seemingly more genuine words: "We will also do the same thing, and esteem your concerns as our own, and will look upon our concerns as in common with yours."  Maccabees has the very strange words: "your cattle and your property belong to us, and ours belong to you" 

Antiquities has:  "Demoteles, who brings you this letter, will bring your answer back to us."  Demotoles receives no mention in Maccabees but these words are replaced with: "We therefore command that our envoys report to you accordingly."
.
In Antiquities the letter appears out of the blue with no context whatsoever.  It ends as abruptly as it began with no linkage to what is before in Ant.12.4.10, or after in Ant.12.4.11.  Now that is typical of how history is fogged in the writings attributed to Josephus.  It was made more vague in I Maccabees.  So I think that Antiquities is the most genuine but both are edits of fraudulent historians.  In the actual history, who wrote the letter, and what was it about? And why was the actual letter garbled in the first place?     

"We have met with a certain writing" (Ant.12.4.10) - of course they had.  But it wasn't  Lacedemonians (Spartans) that had "met with a certain writing", it was Ptolemy and the Egyptians who had the recently translated the Hebrew bible into Greek (see the long Chapter 2 of Ant.12).  The Septuagint certainly doesn't describe "Jews and Lacedemonians" as "of one stock".  But there are two groups which it does, priests and prophets, who are both sons of Abraham. 

Ant 12.4.10 And [now] Hyrcanus's father, [Joseph] {Tobias}, died. He was a good man, and of great magnanimity; and brought the [Jews] {prophets} out of a state of poverty and meanness, to one that was more splendid. He retained the farm of the taxes of Syria, and Phoenicia, and Samaria twenty-two years. 

[His uncle also, Onias, died about this time, and left the high priesthood to his son Simon.] 

And when he was dead, [Onias] {Hyrcanus} his son succeeded him in [that dignity] {as leader of the prophets}. To [him] {Hyrcanus} it was that [Areus] {Ptolemy}, king of the [Lacedemonians] {Egyptians}, sent an embassage, with an epistle; the copy whereof here follows: 

"[Areus] {Ptolemy}, king of the [Lacedemonians] {Egyptians}, to [Onias] {Hyrcanus}, sendeth greeting. 
We have met with [a certain writing] {the book of Exodus?},hereby we have discovered that both the [Jews] {priests} and the [Lacedemonians] {prophets} are of one stock, and are derived from the kindred of Abraham.  It is but just therefore that you, who are [our] {their} brethren, should send to us about any of your concerns as you please. We will also do the same thing, and esteem your concerns as our own, and will look upon our concerns as in common with yours. Demoteles, who brings you this letter, will bring your answer back to us. This letter is four-square; and the seal is an eagle, with a dragon in his claws."

Ant.12.4.11.And these were the contents of the epistle which was sent from the king of the [Lacedemonians] {Egyptians}. But, upon the death of [Joseph] {Tobias}, the people grew seditious, on account of his sons. For whereas the [elders] {priests} made war against Hyrcanus, who was the youngest of [Joseph's] {Tobias’s} sons, the multitude was divided, but the greater part joined with the [elders] {priests} in this war; as did Simon the high priest, by reason he was of kin to them. 

The aim of the Flavian editors of the writings attributed to Josephus was to eliminate all trace of the history of the prophets.  Academics say that prophets died out in earlier times.   Vespasian and his son Titus did not wish to reveal that they had finished off the prophets to get the temple gold.  Right here in Antiquities 12.3.1 and 2 we have a long piece of Roman propaganda interpolated into the text.  It shows their sensitivity to this issue, and the long arm of the Roman propaganda machine which reached into the whole of the writings attributed to Josephus.  Antiquities 12 was the start of the real separation of priests and prophets and the origin of the Chrestianos.  The writer calls it a "digression".  It says they (Vespasian and Titus) "overcame the prayers of the Alexandrians and the Antiochians".  This was a subliminal allusion to the prophetic Jews who recieved support from Egypt and the priests who were supported by Antiochus.  Antiochus did not abolish the normal animal sacrifice.  He insisted that all Jews did sacrifice.  The prophets rejected animal sacrifice.  

Ant. 12.3
1.And when the people of Alexandria and of Antioch did after that, at the time that Vespasian and Titus his son governed the habitable earth, pray that these privileges of citizens might be taken away, they did not obtain their request. in which behavior any one may discern the equity and generosity of the Romans, especially of Vespasian and Titus, who, although they had been at a great deal of pains in the war against the Jews, and were exasperated against them, because they did not deliver up their weapons to them, but continued the war to the very last, yet did not they take away any of their forementioned privileges belonging to them as citizens, but restrained their anger, and overcame the prayers of the Alexandrians and Antiochians, who were a very powerful people, insomuch that they did not yield to them, neither out of their favor to these people, nor out of their old grudge at those whose wicked opposition they had subdued in the war; nor would they alter any of the ancient favors granted to the Jews, but said, that those who had borne arms against them, and fought them, had suffered punishment already, and that it was not just to deprive those that had not offended of the privileges they enjoyed. 

2. We also know that Marcus Agrippa was of the like disposition towards the Jews: for when the people of Ionia were very angry at them, and besought Agrippa that they, and they only, might have those privileges of citizens which Antiochus, the grandson of Seleucus, (who by the Greeks was called The God,) had bestowed on them, and desired that, if the Jews were to be joint-partakers with them, they might be obliged to worship the gods they themselves worshipped: but when these matters were brought to the trial, the Jews prevailed, and obtained leave to make use of their own customs, and this under the patronage of Nicolaus of Damascus; for Agrippa gave sentence that he could not innovate. And if any one hath a mind to know this matter accurately, let him peruse the hundred and twenty-third and hundred and twenty-fourth books of the history of this Nicolaus. Now as to this determination of Agrippa, it is not so much to be admired, for at that time our nation had not made war against the Romans. :But one may well be astonished at the generosity of Vespasian and Titus, that after so great wars and contests which they had from us, they should use such moderation. But I will now return to that part of my history whence I made the present digression. 

Ptolemy redeems the prophets from Judea, where they were slaves of the priests, to Egypt

Earlier in the writings attributed to Josephus, the prophets and their followers were slaves of the priests in their own land of Judea.  Those of a prophetic inclination worked the land as peasant slaves.

In his book The Cambridge Bible Commentary - 1 and 2 Maccabees (page 6), John Bartlett writes that at the time, there was "growing division between rich and poor".  He also writes that this was often "in parallel with the division between hellenizers and orthodox".  It seems artificial to categorize a division between rich and poor as a division between hellenizers and orthodox. 
Are we talking about a division between priests and prophets, with the prophets coming from an  agricultural, poor background?  And did the prophets have a champion in the form of a business man, one of the new rich also from a prophetic background?  With such people as their leaders, the prophets would have felt more confident.  

Tobias, a landowner and a commander, was married to the sister of the high priest Onias II, the daughter of the high priest Simon I.  The family of Tobias were tax farmers, first for the Ptolemies.   That meant that they collected tax from people who worked on the land.  Tobias reminds me of the earlier 'Rechabites'.  The sons of Rechab married the daughters of high priests and were very prophet like.  

1 Maccabees covers a period from 175-134 BC.  2 Maccabees covers an even shorter period of 175-160 BC. (Bartlett, CBC, page 1).  Could it be that they were specially written to obfuscate the true history of the Maccabeans?  And was Antiquites also garbled to hide the truth about the Maccabeans?  

New light on an old problem

Vermes is a proponent of Scrolls produced at Qumran by Essenes.  Vermes’s translation of  1QS 8.12-15 is interesting: “And when these become members of the Community in Israel according to all these rules, they shall separate from the habitation of unjust men and shall go into the wilderness to prepare there the way of Him; as it is written, ‘Prepare in the wilderness the way of …., make straight in the desert a path for our God’ (Isa. Xl, 3). This (path) is the study of the Law which He commanded by the hand of Moses, that they do according to all that has been revealed from age to age, and as the Prophets have revealed by His Holy Spirit.”   

Vermes sees "go into the wilderness" as implying residence at Qumran.  Golb said that this had nothing to do with going anywhere, but that the phrase had a metaphorical meaning that they should study the Law.  Later Schiffman (without acknowledging Golb) also said the phrase was symbolic, meaning the study of the Law.  But inconsistently he still kept his sect at Qumran.  We can now see that "go into the wilderness" or "separation" did mean a physical separation from a building, the pre Herod temple, which had "unjust men" within it. The intention of the priests was that they were going to leave the existing temple desolate, build their own, and study the law.  The priests provocatively justified this by invoking the prophets from their past, including Moses, never mind that the unnamed "unjust men" were prophets.  1QS was a rule, not just for one community, but for every town and village (the wilderness) before the new temple would be built. 


The origin of the Temple Scroll - and why did Antiochus attack Egypt and the prophets of Jerusalem? 

We are dealing with a time when the Jewish religion was being split down the middle to form two sections, one led by priests, the other led by prophets.  The priests wanted to build a new temple in Jerusalem and leave the prophets out of it.  The Temple Scroll makes no provision for prophets.  The priests had already designed a new temple as in the Temple Scroll 11QT.  The priests view of the prophets was this: "If a prophet or dreamer appears among you and presents you with a sign or a portent, even if the sign or the portent comes true, when he says 'Let us go and worship other gods whom you have not known!', do not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer for I test you to discover whether you love YHWH, the God of your fathers with all your heart and soul.  It is YHWH, your God, that you must fear and his voice that you must obey, and you must hold fast to him.  That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for he has preached rebellion against YHWH, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt" (Vermes 11QT 54)  The prophets were proclaiming a different God, one that didn't demand sacrifice of animals.  And they looked to Egypt as well as Jerusalem

The priests "were distressed, and retired to Antiochus, and informed him that they were desirous to leave the [laws of their country] {temple}.
[, and the Jewish way of living according to them, and to follow the king's laws, and the Grecian way of living.]
Wherefore they desired his permission to build them a [Gymnasium] {temple} at Jerusalem. And when he had given them leave,
[they also hid the circumcision of their genitals, that even when they were naked they might appear to be Greeks. Accordingly,]
they left off all the customs that belonged to their own [country] {temple}
[, and imitated the practices of the other nations].  (Ant.12.5.1)

We can see the blatant obfuscation in the writings attributed to Josephus, swallowed by scholars down the centuries.  The priests were not going to leave "the laws of their country", or "follow the king's laws" or adopt "the Grecian way of living", or the even the more ridiculous idea of building a "gymnasium" where "they might appear to be Greeks" by being "naked".  This was all  Flavian/Roman propaganda.  Antiochus IV took away from the existing temple the very things that the prophets used in their worship.  He was thus complicit in wanting to abolish the prophets.  

There is more Flavian/Roman propaganda of Greeks in 1 Maccabees to hide the fact that Antiochus IV, with the priests, had tried to abolish prophets.  Thus there was no death penalty for possessing a copy of the Torah, observing the Sabbath or practicing circumcision.  And priests were not compelled to build altars to idols or to sacrifice pigs.  There was no altar built on top of the altar of burnt offering.  The temple became "desolate" because the priests left it.  They were going to build a new one that they thought would be more pure. 

2 Maccabees adds to the propaganda against Greeks.  The temple was not renamed for Olympian Zeus, and the Jews were not made to honour the god Dionysus.  And Antiochus IV did not decide to abolish the ENTIRE Jewish religion.  He had agreed with the priests that the prophets should be abolished.  This was not so inconsistent  with the good relationship that Antiochus III had had with the Jews.      

Antiochus IV was happy with the priests wanting to build a new temple in Jerusalem where animals would be sacrificed, just as elsewhere in his kingdom.  

Ant.12.5.2."Now Antiochus, upon the agreeable situation of the affairs of his kingdom, resolved to make  an expedition against Egypt, both because he had a desire to gain it, and because he contemned the son of Ptolemy, as now weak, and not yet of abilities to manage affairs of such consequence; so he came with great forces to Pelusium, and circumvented Ptolemy Philometor by treachery, and seized upon Egypt. He then came to the places about Memphis; and when he had taken them, he made haste to Alexandria, in hopes of taking it by siege, and of subduing Ptolemy, who reigned there. But he was driven [not only] from Alexandria, [but out of all Egypt,] by the [declaration of the Romans] {prophets}"

The "agreeable situation of the affairs of his kingdom" involved the decision of the priests to build a new temple with no place for the prophets.  This was the reason Antiochus IV attacked Egypt first because Egypt was the place where support for the prophets was strongest.  Our Flavian editor wanted to convince us that it was out of fear of the Romans that Antiochus IV left Egypt.  The phrases "declaration of the Romans" and "fear of the Romans" look like, and are, interpolations. He was driven out by the large number of Jews, particularly the Jews of Alexandria.  These were of a prophetic inclination, living away from the influence of the priests and the temple. So Ant.12.5.3. begins: "King Antiochus returning out of Egypt [for fear of the Romans,] made an expedition against the city Jerusalem;" He was angry with the prophets and their followers, and his next port of call was the place where they were most vulnerable, Jerusalem.  

A certain Onias would eventually build a temple in Egypt where God would be worshipped without sacrifice of animals. 
  
Antiochus's persecution was against a particular section of Jewish society - the prophets 

Steven Weitzman says in JBL 123/2 (2004) 219-234: 
1. "Antiochus IV's persecution of Jewish religious tradition is a notorious puzzle, which the great scholar of the period Elias Bickerman once described as 'the basic and sole enigma in the history of Selucid Jerusalem' ".  This wasn't the beginning of religious persecution as Weitzman says, but it was the coming to a head of long antagonism between priests and prophets, when the priests betrayed the prophets.  

I am not saying this is absolutely correct, but this is my version of Ant.12.5.5.  In its extant form it has obviously been garbled, being totally out of context.  The original had nothing to do with Samaritans.

When the [Samaritans] {priests} saw the [Jews] {prophets} under these sufferings, they no longer confessed they were of their kindred, nor that the temple [on Mount Gerrizim] belonged to [Almighty God] {the prophets}.  This was according to their [nature] {law}[, as we have already shown]. And they now said [they] {the prophets} were [a colony of Medes and Persians] {of the tribe of Benjamin} : and indeed they were a [colony] {tribe} of theirs. 

So they sent ambassadors to Antiochus, and an epistle, whose contents are these:- “To king Antiochus the god Epiphanes, a memorial from the [Sidonians] {priests}, who live at [Shechem] {Jerusalem}.  Our forefathers, [upon certain frequent plagues, and] following [a certain ancient superstition] {the law}, had a custom of observing [that day which by the Jews is called the Sabbath] {sacrifice}.   And when they had erected a temple at the mountain called [Gerizim] {Zion}, [though without a name,] they offered upon it the proper sacrifices.

Now upon the just treatment of these wicked [Jews] {prophets}, those that manage their affairs, supposing that we were of kin to them, and practised as they do, make us liable to the same accusations, although we are [originally Sidonians] {sons of Aaron} as is evident from the public records.   We therefore beseech thee our benefactor and saviour, to give order to [Apollonius, the governor of this part of the country, and to] Nicanor, the procurator of thy affairs, to give us no disturbance, nor to lay to our charge what the [Jews] {prophets}  are accused for since we are aliens from their [nation] {tribe} and from their customs; but let our temple which at present hath no [name] {sacrifice} at all, be [named the] {a} temple of [Jupiter Hellenius]{priests}.  If this were once done, we should no longer be disturbed, but should be more intent on our own [occupation with quietness] {law}, and so bring in a greater revenue to thee.”   

When the [Samaritans] {priests} had petitioned for this, the king sent them back the following answer in an epistle;-  “King Antiochus to Nicanor.  The [Sidonians] {priests}, who live at [Shechem]{Jerusalem} have sent me the memorial inclosed.  When therefore, we were advising with our friends about it, the messengers sent by them represented to us that they are no way concerned with accusations which belong to the [Jews] {prophets} , but choose to live after the customs of the [Greeks] {priests}.  Accordingly we declare them free from such accusations, and order that agreeable to their petition, their temple be [named the] {a} temple of [Jupiter Hellenius] {priests}.”           

So who do you think this referred to?
"Behold, an accursed man, a man of Satan, has risen to become a fowler's net to his people, and a cause of destruction to all his neighbours.  And [his brother/son?] arose [and ruled?], both being instruments of violence.  They have rebuilt [Jerusalem and have set up?] a wall and towers to make of it a stronghold of ungodliness ... in Israel, and a horror in Ephraim and in Judah ... They have committed an abomination in the land, and a great blasphemy among the children [of Israel.  They have shed blood?] like water upon the ramparts of the daughter of Zion and within the walls of Jerusalem." (Vermes, 4Q175)

"Judas also rebuilt the walls round about the city, and reared towers of great height against the incursion of enemies, and set guards therein." (Ant.12.7.7)  Now Judas was supposed to be a Jewish hero.

So who was the "accursed man of Satan"?  He was Mattathias the father of Judas.

"But he (Antiochus) was driven not only from Alexandria, but out of all Egypt, by the declaration of the Romans, who charged him to to let the country (Egypt) alone.  Accordingly, as I have elsewhere formerly declared, I will now give a particular account of what concerns this king - how he subdued Judea and the temple; for in my former work I mentioned those things very briefly, and have therefore now thought it necessary to go over that history again, and that with great accuracy."  (Ant.12.5.2).  We have a Flavian writer about to write 'history' about a Greek enemy of Rome.  I don't expect "great accuracy". There is an asterisked comment in Ant.12.5.3: "Hereabouts Josephus begins to follow the first book of the Maccabees."  This leaves me wondering which followed which, or did some agree on what the 'history' should be?  One has to suspect that "hereabouts" means there are earlier and later lies told by the Roman historian related to Greeks and in particular Antiochus. 

Ant.12.5.3:"King Antiochus returning out of Egypt, for fear of the Romans, made an expedition against the city of Jerusalem; and when he was there, in the hundred and and forty-third year of the kingdom of the Selucidae, he took the city without fighting, those of his own party opening the gates to him.  And when he had gotten possession of Jerusalem, and slew many of the opposite party; and when he had plundered it of a great deal of money, he returned to Antioch."

Antiochus was let into the city by those of his own party and he killed many of the opposite party.  Who were his own party?  And who were the opposite party? Both were residents of Jerusalem.  Why doesn't the text say who these parties were?  Antiochus didn't just decide to "make an expedition against Jerusalem", as though he was invading the city.  He was invited by those of his own party who were being troubled by the opposite party.  And those of his own party were his friends.

So what was Antiochus out to do? His purpose was to CREATE A JEWISH RELIGION SIMILAR TO HIS OWN WITH ANIMAL SACRIFICES.  He tried to make the opposite party (the prophets) fall into line with his own party (esentially priests). 

Does this remind you of the reputation of some folk? (Ant.12.5.4) 
"He (Antiochus) also appointed overseers, who should compel them to do what he commanded.  And indeed many Jews there were who complied with the king's commands, either voluntarily, or out of fear of the penalty that was denounced: But the best men, those of the noblest souls, did not regard him, but did pay a greater respect to the customs of their country than concern as to the punishment which he threatened to the disobedient; on which account they every day underwent great miseries and bitter torments;  for they were whipped with rods, and their bodies were torn to pieces, and were crucified while they were still alive and breathed:" 

War 2.8.10 has: 
"They contemn the miseries of life, and are above pain, by the generosity of their mind.  And as for death, if it will be for their glory, they esteem it better than living always; and indeed our war with the Romans gave abundant evidences what great souls they had in their trials, wherein, although they were tortured and distorted, burnt and torn to pieces, and went through all kinds of instruments of torment, that they might be forced to either blaspheme their legislator or to eat what was forbidden them, yet could they not be not be made to do either of them, no, nor once to flatter their tormentors, nor to shed a tear; but they smiled in their very pains, and laughed those to scorn who inflicted the torments upon them, and resigned up their souls with great alacrity, as expecting to receive them again."  

It is obvious that the text of War 2.8.10 about 'Essenes' was taken from the original text of Ant. 12.5.4 about the party opposed to Antiochus.  War is largely fabricated.  And the text of Ant.12.5.4 was about prophets who did not wish to blaspheme their legislator, Moses. He  had established the prophets with responsibilities in the sanctuary.  Ant. 18.1.5 gives an indication of what the prophets were about: "they do not offer sacrifices, because they have more pure lustrations of their own; on which account they are excluded from the the common court of the temple, but offer their sacrifices themselves". This was on the altar of incense in the sanctuary.  The writers of War and Antiquities couldn't resist a jibe at Judas. Significantly, War 2.8.1 starts with "Judas prevailed with his countrymen to revolt".  And Ant.18.1.1 has: "yet there was one Judas, a Gaulonite, of a city whose name was Gamala, ... became zealous to draw them to a revolt."  Judas prevailed with his fellow countrymen to revolt against Antiochus's command to sacrifice animals for sin. He was from a 'city' whose name was Modin.  Indeed Judas appears in a number of interpolations in both Antiquities and War, and they all owe their origin to Judas the Maccabee.  The editors were ex priests now in the employ of the Roman state.  They had not forgotten their hatred for the prophets.

How far back in time were the priests exiled from the temple?   
The scrolls indicate that this was an issue much earlier than the time of Herod.  The Community Rule (Manual of Discipline), one of the early manuscripts, has: 

"When these become members of the Community in Israel according to these rules, they shall establish the spirit of holiness according to everlasting truth.  They shall atone for guilty rebellion and for sins of unfaithfulness that they may obtain loving kindness for the Land without the flesh of holocausts and the fat of sacrifice.  And prayer rightly offered shall be as an acceptable fragrance of righteousness, and perfection of way as a delectable free-will offering.  At that time, the men of the Community shall set apart a House of Holiness in order that it may be united with the most holy things and a House of Community for Israel, for those who walk in perfection.  The sons of Aaron alone shall command in matters of justice and property, and every rule concerning the men of the Community shall be determined according to their word."   
(Vermes, 1QS:9).


The priests (sons of Aaron) had stopped animal sacrifice, even though in normal circumstances they considered that sacrifice was important.    They had left the temple and hoped to draw in "Israel" (all Jews) to form a figurative "House of Holiness" or  "House of Community".  

There was probably a time delay between events and the writing, so that the writer is always looking back. 

The priests walked all over the prophets
The priests rubbished the scriptures that the prophets used, and turned the meaning against them.  I refer to the technique of pesher or interpretation.  In the light of conflict between priests and prophets we can see pesher for what it is. James VanderKam describes pesher in modern academic terms as: "a type of biblical exposition that is the earliest-known antecedent of the modern running commentary". (See page 44 of The Dead Sea Scrolls Today).  He may be partially correct. But the priests deliberately changed the natural meaning of scripture in a propaganda war against the prophets.  Pesher was a political tool. If anyone needed proof that prophets were the targets, just consider the known books in which pesher is critical of "the seekers of smooth things": Isaiah, Psalms, Hosea, Micah, Zephania, Nahum, Habakkuk. Esther is absent from the Scrolls. 

The presence of pesher of one sort or another in much of the Scrolls material is indicative of a kind of paranoia resulting from being exiled from the temple.  

1 comment:

  1. In view of the known facts about Dr. Magness's board-of-trustees role at ASOR:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20080430130057/http://www.nowpublic.com/culture/charity-fund-involved-dead-sea-scrolls-conflict

    her use of the ASOR blog as a new vehicle for Qumran-Essene propaganda efforts comes as no surprise.

    ReplyDelete