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Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #270 on: November 09, 2019, 02:42:07 PM »
JOSEPHUS' ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS: BOOKS I-II, FROM ADAM TO JOSEPH

<<Does Magog refer to southern Russia, when Josephus writes anout him in Book 1?>>

   Yes, among other places inhabited by the Scythians. In Book I, Josephus wrote: "Japheth, son of Noah, had seven sons. ... Magog founded the Magogians, thus named after him, but who by the Greeks are called Scythians."
   According to Wikipedia's article for the "Scythians", they lived on the Pontic steppe:
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The Scythians... were a nomadic people who dominated the Pontic steppe from about the 7th century BC up until the 3rd century BC...
   They made a resurgence in the 1st century AD and laid siege to Chersonesos, who were obliged to seek help from the Roman Empire. ... The most important site of the Late Crimean culture is Scythian Neaoplis, which was located in Crimea and served as the capital of the Late Scythian kingdom from the early 2nd century BC to the beginning of the 3rd century AD.
   
   The territory of the Scythae Basilaei ("Royal Scyths") along the north shore of the Black Sea around 125 AD
   According to Wikipedia's article on the Pontic Steppe:   
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The Pontic–Caspian steppe, Pontic steppe, or Ukrainian steppe is the vast steppeland stretching from the northern shores of the Black Sea (called Euxeinos Pontos [Εὔξεινος Πόντος] in antiquity) as far east as the Caspian Sea, from Dobruja in the northeastern corner of Bulgaria and southeastern Romania, through Moldova and eastern Ukraine across Russian Northern Caucasus, Southern and lower Volga regions to western Kazakhstan, forming part of the larger Eurasian steppe, adjacent to the Kazakh steppe to the east.
   
   The Wikipedia article on "Scythia" says:
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Scythia was a region of Central Eurasia in classical antiquity, occupied by the Eastern Iranian Scythians,[1][3][4] encompassing Central Asia and parts of Eastern Europe east of the Vistula River, with the eastern edges of the region vaguely defined by the Greeks. The Ancient Greeks gave the name Scythia (or Great Scythia) to all the lands north-east of Europe and the northern coast of the Black Sea.
   However, Biblically, Magog's land was in Turkey, northern Assyria, or northern Syria. Ezekiel 38:2 refers to "Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal". According to Wikipedia's entry on "Meshech," Meshech refers to the Mosocheni in Cappadocia in central modern Turkey. It says:
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Meshech is named with Tubal (and Rosh, in certain translations) as principalities of 'Gog, prince of Magog' in Ezekiel 38:2 and 39:1, and is considered a Japhetite tribe, identified by Flavius Josephus with the Cappadocian "Mosocheni" (Mushki, also associated with Phrygians or Bryges) and their capital Mazaca.
   The Wikipedia entry on "Tubal" associates Tubal with modern Turkey, especially its southern part:
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Modern scholarship has identified the biblical Tubal with Tabal, an Anatolian state and region mentioned in Assyrian sources. Tabal was a post-Hittite Luwian state in Asia Minor in the 1st millennium BC. Its neighbours, the Mushki, are traditionally associated with Meshech.[3] Some historians[who?] further connect Tabal and Tubal with the tribe on the Black Sea coast later known to the Greeks as Tibareni, though this identification is uncertain. The Tibareni and other related tribes, the Chalybes (Khalib/Khaldi) and the Mossynoeci (Mossynoikoi in Greek), were sometimes considered the founders of metallurgy. Most reference books, following Flavius Josephus, identify Tubal in Ezekiel's time as an area that is now in Turkey.

<<Does Abraham's wife Sarah's laughing "inside herself" cryptically prefigure the process of the Messiah's virgin birth? Or is laughing inside oneself a Hebrew expression equivalent to "laughing quietly to oneself" in modern English?>>
   It doesn't prefigure the process of conception or birth, because Sarah laughed within herself at hearing the prediction of Isaac's birth, which she heard before she conceived. It is more like a way of saying that she laughed to herself.
   Book 1, Chapter 11:2 of the Antiquities says:
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   Thereat the woman smiled[e] and said that child-bearing was impossible, seeing that she was ninety years old and her husband an hundred; whereupon they could maintain dissimulation no longer but confessed themselves messengers of God, of whom one had been sent to announce the news of the child and the other two to destroy the Sodomites.

   LOEB'S FOOTNOTE
   [E] Gen. "Laughed within herself."
   Isaac was born of a mother in a birth that was not naturally expected. Sarra was such an old woman that she did not think she could give birth. It was a miracle that the three divine beings told her about. Hearing that she would give birth made her "laugh inside her", or as the Hebrew of Genesis 18:12 says, "Sarah laughed within herself." This in turn made her name the child after the word "laughter".
   In his lecture "Typology of Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac, Gen. 12-22", Dr. Lawrence Feingold sees Sarah's birth of Isaac as prefiguring Mary's birth of Christ:
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Isaac’s miraculous birth according to God’s promise from a woman both barren and greatly advanced in age is clearly a type of Christ’s birth from a Virgin. As Isaac is a type of Christ, so Sarah is a type of Mary and her virginal conception.
   A not infrequent theme of the Old Testament is pairs of women, one infertile and the other fertile: Sarah and Hagar, Leah and Rachel, Hannah and Peninnah. In each case the promise is given to the infertile woman... Isaac’s very name is connected to his being a type of Christ. “Isaac” means “laughter,” for Sara laughed incredu-lously when the angel told her that she would conceive. Isaac is appropriately named for laughter, for he brought the supernatural joy of the fulfillment of God’s promise against all appearances. The Fathers see Isaac’s name as a type of the supernatural joy brought into the world by Christ and the Gospel, promised so many centuries before.
   Some reasons that her laughing wasn't a metaphor for conception are that: Abraham also laughed, but he didn't perform a miraculous birth. Sarah laughed at the news, but not when the Lord made her conceive. In Gen 18, verse 14, after Sarah laughed God said to Abraham, "At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son."
   Instead, the laughter alludes to her humor and the unlikelihood of the birth, and the unlikelihood in turn alludes to Mary's birth of Jesus. Isaac's name means "He laughs", Abraham laughed when he heard that Sarah would bear a son, and Sarah laughed within herself when she heard the news. In Genesis 21,"Sarah said, 'God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.'" Everyone can normally share in Sara's joy, but not everyone can normally have a conception at her age.

<<The stories of Ishmael's circumcision and rejection by Abraham are confusing as to Ishmael's age. How to reconcile them? Circumcision in the Bible was God's special covenant with Abraham, so if Ishmael got rejected by Abraham at a very young age, how did Ishmael get circumcised at 13?>>
Josephus writes in Book I, Chapter 12 about Ishmael's age at the time of his rejection by Araham when Ishmael's mother Hagar was caring for him: "...she laid the little child, expiring, under a fir-tree and went...."
The Egyptians and others used circumcision before even the Abrahamic covenant, and so as Voluntt said:
My guess is Hagar believed in it just as much as Abraham and whoever took them in (and presumably married her/adopted Ishmael) agreed to do it when she asked him. Then Ishmael did it to his sons, then...

<<Was the angel whom Jacob wrestled a good angel or a bad one (eg. a demon)?>>
   He was a good angel, and likely was also God taking on the form of an angel or of a man. Here is Josephus' telling of Jacob wrestling with the angel:
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when they had crossed a torrent called Jabacchos, Jacob, being left behind, encountered a phantom, wrestled with it and overcame it. The struggle had been begun by the spectre, which now found a tongue and addressed him, bidding him rejoice in his achievement and not to imagine that it was a puny adversary whom he had mastered : he had defeated an angel of God and should deem this victory an omen of great blessings to come and an assurance that his race would never be extinguished and that no mortal man would surpass him in strength. He moreover bade him take the name of Israel, which in the Hebrew tongue denotes the opponent of an angel of God. ...
   The apparition, having thus spoken, vanished; and Jacob, delighted with the vision, named the place Phanuel," that is to say, " the face of God." And because in the contest he had suffered injury near the broad sinew,^ he himself abstained from eating that sinew, and for his sake we too are forbidden to eat of it.
   Genesis 32 calls the angel a man, but otherwise makes it sound like the angel was God:   
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Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”
   Jacob asking for a blessing makes it sound like the angel was good, the angel's declaration that Jacob has strived with God and men makes it sound like the angel was God, as does Jacob's declaration that he saw God face to face. Plus, the Bible does not counter Jacob's statement that he saw God. That the incident resulted in the name Israel, which can mean "Struggles with God" is further evidence that the angel was God. In his commentary on the Biblical passage, Russian theologian Alexander Lopuhin writes that Jacob's ongoing limp served as a reminder that Jacob's victory was only due to the secret Wrestler's condescension. He sees Jacob's wrestling as a having a component reflecting Jacob's persistence in faith despite hardships.
   In his essay "What prompted Jacob to wrestle an angel?" (in the Times of Israel, November 2018), Israel Drazin theorizes why the angel wrestled with Jacob:
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Jacob had reached the Wadi Jabbok on his return home after an absence from Canaan of some twenty years. He was about to face his brother Esau who had wanted to kill him twenty years earlier as revenge for Jacob taking the blessing that their father Isaac intended to give to Esau. During the night, Jacob took his family across the Wadi Jabbok and entered Canaan. Then he returned to the other side where he was alone. While there, “a man wrestled with him until the break of day. ..."
   Rashbam [Rashi’s grandson] states that the angel was preventing Jacob from abandoning his resolution and fleeing Canaan because of his fear of Esau. By stopping the flight, God was able to fulfill the divine promise to Jacob that Esau would not harm him.
   In Genesis 31, God told Jacob to return home, which would entail crossing paths with his brother Esau again: "And the Lord said unto Jacob, 'Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.'" Then in Genesis 32:10-12, Jacob says that he is unworthy of God's mercies because he divided his herd and followers, sending one group to Esau and telling the other to flee if Esau attacks the first group. He prays:
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10. I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. 11. Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. 12. And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.
Next, Genesis 32 says about how he went over the brook Jabok, meaning crooked - perhaps alluding to his thigh getting hurt, with his family and then sent them back:
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22. And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok. 23. And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had. 24. And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
So God had promised Jacob that his descendants would greatly multiply and told Jacob to go to his kindred (eg. Esau), but Jacob was dividing his forces and fleeing across the brook. So the angel was effectively stopping Jacob from continuing to flee against God's order.
   Further, since Hosea said that God punished Jacob according to his deed, and since Jacob wrestled Esau in the womb and grabbed Esau's leg, it seems that the angel wrestling Jacob and attacking his leg in response to Jacob's wrestling Esau. Hosea 12 says:
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2. The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him. 3. He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: 4. Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us;
   David Stratton theorizes on Stack Exchange that Jacob was not especially moral before the wrestling and that it was a test of faith:
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Jacob wasn't "good" by any means. If you look at Jacob before this, he has stolen the blessing that was Esau's birthright. (Genesis 27). He had several children with women he didn't love, and was certainly no great father to them. (Genesis 30-31). By the time he wrestled with this angel (or with God depending on the translation - I'm going to stick with God) in chapter 32 starting in verse 24, he'd pretty much shown that he was not a "good" man at all. Yet, God chose him to the the father of the nation of Israel...
   Jacob was injured - he was disabled by a mere touch, to show that God is powerful and compared to God, he is nothing. Whether he was "seriously injured" depends on whether or not you consider a dislocated hip "seriously injured". Yet, knowing full well that he was nothing, Jacob did something brave and remarkable. He refused to give up until God gave him a blessing. He continued to fight, but now it was for God, not against God. I believe that the reason for the encounter was to ensure that Jacob, who became Israel afterward, had the correct motivation, heart, and attitude toward God. it was a lesson in humility, and Jacob responded by a show of faith and longing for God.

<<If the twelve tribes of Israel are named after Jacob's 12 sons, then is there a group or legacy left in the wake of his daughter Dinah? Women traditionally did not inherit wealth AFAIK if there were sons.>>
The patriarch Joseph married Dinah's granddaughter Osnat, who gave birth to Manasseh and Ephraim, which became the names for two of Israel's Tribes.

<<Supposing that Josephus deliberately includes cryptic allusions to Jesus in the Antiquities, does he do so in the story of Joseph and Pharaoh's cupbearer and baker? Besides Josephus' own retelling, does the Biblical story allude to the Eucharist or to Christ's Passion and resurrection? And why should bread or the baker's profession be associated with a tragic fate in the story?>>
   The Biblical story of Joseph's enslavement, imprisonment with Pharaoh's servants, redemption, and raising in rank have so many coincidences with Jesus' story that Joseph's story serves as a prefigurement, including of the Eucharist, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. Josephus was basically retelling the story, except that he changed the Baker's execution into a crucifixion, which he probably did either because he saw the execution as a prefigurement, or in order to make the execution method more familiar to his 1st century audience, or for both reasons.
   To give an example of a possible allusion in Josephus' writings to Jesus' story, there is a potential connection in Josephus' autobiography between Josephus Bar Matthiyu's request that the Romans take down his three Jewish friends who were crucified during the Jewish revolt and the Biblical story of Joseph of Arimathea requesting the body of Jesus who had been crucified between two criminals, one being a rebel. Here is the passage in Josephus' Life:
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And when I was sent by Titus Caesar with Cerealins, and a thousand horsemen, to a certain village called Thecoa, in order to know whether it were a place fit for a camp, as I came back, I saw many captives crucified, and remembered three of them as my former acquaintance. I was very sorry at this in my mind, and went with tears in my eyes to Titus, and told him of them; so he immediately commanded them to be taken down, and to have the greatest care taken of them, in order to their recovery; yet two of them died under the physician’s hands, while the third recovered.
Josephus was not writing about Jesus directly in the passage above, since Jesus was crucified in 33 AD, and Josephus' freeing of his three friends occurred in the 70's AD.
   Joseph Atwill writes about numerous connections that he sees between Josephus' writing and the Gospel stories in his book Caesar's Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus. He includes a table listing coincidences and common themes like:
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In Jesus' Ministry: At Jerusalem, the 'Son of Mary' offers his flesh to be eaten'; in Titus' Campaign: At Jerusalem, describes a son of Mary whose flesh is eaten.
Atwil writes:
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Jesus foresees a martyr's death for Simon at Rome but spares John at conclusion of ministry; Titus sends Simon to a martyr's death at Rome but spares John at conclusion of campaign.
   The Gospels' stories concerning fishing for men, a legion of demons coming out of one man to infect many, a human Passover lamb, three crucified one survivies, and a conclusion where Simon is condemned and John spared, can be seen as satirizing very few works of literature. It is, therefore, quite implausible that the New Testament describes, by chance, so many episodes that can be seen as satirizing the events in a single book. ...
   Further, a 'Joseph of Arimathea' arranged for both survivors to be taken down from the cross. This is to say that the last names of the two Josephs- 'Josephus Bar Matthias' and 'Joseph of Arimathea' are homophonically similar. 'Arimathea' is an obvious play on Josephus' last name, 'Bar Matthias,' which is quite similar to the 'Iscariot/Sicarii' pun noted [earlier in Atwil's book]. THe Gospel of Barnabas, a noncanonical Gospel from the middle ages, does not even bother with this word play and states that the name of the individual who took Jesus down from the cross was 'Joseph of Barimathea.' 'Joseph of Arimathea' is also identified as the 'type' of Josephus bar Matthias by his job description-counsellor. (Luke 23:50)
   Atwil also sees Josephus' story of saving his friend from crucifixion as having a chronological placement in Josephus' narrative analogous to the placement of Jesus being taken down from the cross in the Gospels. Although I don't agree with Atwil's theory that the Romans invented Jesus, I do think that Josephus occasionally deliberately included Christian images and themes in his writings, and that this explains the numerous coincidences that Atwil sees.
   Josephus' changing of the method of the Baker's death would fit a pattern of including cryptic allusions to Christ in his writings. But it would also fit his practice of retelling ideas in Jewish traditions in terms more familiar to his gentile audience (eg. his explanation of Resurrection in a way that sounds like Reincarnation - ie the resurrected people acquiring new bodies). Since Josephus didn't explain why he changed the Baker's fate into crucifixion, and since he doesn't have a pattern of specifically changing the Old Testament stories to make them more Christian, it is hard to judge his motives in this case. He knew that Christ was crucified, and he might have known that Joseph's story in the Bible was a Christian prefigurement. In fact, the Baker's execution served as a prefigurement of Christ's bodily death within the scheme of this prefigurement. But it is very ambiguous whether Josephus was alluding to Christ when he changed the manner of his death to exactly match Christ's.
   The story of the wine cupbearer's and bread baker's dreams has elements common to the Eucharist and three day death and resurrection theme. This is because (A) their dreams and professions involve wine and bread, and (B) the dreams meant that in three days the servants would receive either freedom or death. In Josephus' narrative, the baker tells Joseph:
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"that I was carrying three baskets upon my head, two filled with loaves, and the third with dainties and divers meats such as are prepared for kings, when birds flew down and devoured them all, heedless of my efforts to scare them away."
   He was expecting a prediction similar to that made to the butler ; but Joseph, grasping on reflexion the import of the dream, after assuring him that he could have wished to have good news to interpret to him and not such as the dream disclosed to his mind, told him that he had in all but two days yet to live (the baskets indicated that), and that on the third day he would be crucified and become food for the fowls, utterly powerless to defend himself.
   Since the wine and bread allude to the Eucharist, which in turn has meanings of blood and body, the two servants' opposite fates are an allusion to the teaching that "the life is in the blood" (Lev 17:11).
   The abstract for Abdulla Galadari's article "Joseph and Jesus: Unearthing Symbolisms within the Bible and the Qur’an" gives an impressive explanation of correlations:
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Joseph had been left in a pit (cistern) by his brethren. He was taken out by a caravan and sold for twenty pieces of silver. Jesus was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver. In Egypt, Joseph enters the prison, which is described in the Bible also as a pit (cistern). Two others enter the prison with him, the cupbearer and the baker. Jesus is also crucified with two thieves. The cupbearer and the baker have similarities to the Last Supper, as Jesus distributes bread and wine. By interpreting their respective dreams, Joseph tells the cupbearer that he will be restored to his position in three days, while the baker will be crucified. Jesus informs one of the thieves that he will be with him in his kingdom, implying that one of the thieves is saved, while the other is not. In the story of Joseph, the fulfillment of the dreams occurred after three days, which coincided with Pharaoh’s birthday. After crucifixion, Jesus enters a pit of grave, which is also described as a prison by Peter in the Bible, and is fulfilled in three days when he is resurrected. Joseph asks the cupbearer to remember him when he returns to Pharaoh, but the cupbearer forgets. One of the thieves asks Jesus to remember him when he returns to his kingdom, and Jesus promises him that they will be together.
   So the execution of the baker is correlated with that of the murderer on Jesus' left. The article itself says:
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The king’s chief cupbearer and chief baker also enter the prison with Joseph. This symbolizes the Last Supper, when Jesus gives bread and wine to his disciples. Also, as Josephenters prison with two individuals [Genesis 40:2 – 3], so was Jesus crucified with two thieves[Mark 15:27]. Joseph interprets the cupbearer’s dream as that he will be restored back to hisposition in three days. However, to the baker, he interprets his dream as that he will be crucified [Genesis 40:12 – 13, 18 – 19]. The usage of this symbology is important. Jesus symbolized wine as blood [Matthew 26:28]. In the Torah, blood is life [Leviticus 17:14]. Hence,the cupbearer was to live. Jesus symbolized his flesh as bread [Matthew 26:26]. Bread isbroken symbolizing the destruction of the flesh. Hence, the baker was crucified. The Hebrew Bible uses the word (lachm) for bread, which means both bread and flesh (meat). ...
When Jesus symbolizes wine and bread, the same symbology of the cupbearer and the baker is made, but instead of it being fulfilled in two different individuals, it is being fulfilledin one. The wine is blood, which is life, and life is the opposite of death. Therefore, Jesus,as Life, cannot truly die, as the cupbearer. The bread is flesh, which is crucified and destroyedunto death, as the baker. Hence, the Gospels speak of Jesus’ crucifixion, which is true, as itis talking about the destruction of his flesh, as the baker.
   As for why the Baker was the one killed, in Genesis 40, after the Butler/Cupbearer tells Joseph his dream, the text says:
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16. When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said to Joseph, “I also was in my dream, and there were three [c]white baskets on my head.
   One could theorize that first the Butler gave his story because he trusted Joseph, and it was only after hearing that the news was good that the Baker gave his story, so the Butler was more trusting and thus favored.
   The "Let’s Talk Scriptures" Blog's Bible Study on "Joseph and The Holy Communion" says:
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The cup bearer represented the wine, which is the blood of Jesus. The Baker represented the bread which is the body of Jesus.
The blog article sees a connection between the cupbearer raised to present the cup to Pharaoh in three days and Hebrews 9:22,24, wherein everything is purified by blood, and "Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf." The article continues:
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The baker was to die, just as the bread must be broken. This showed that the body of Christ would be hung, as the perfect sacrifice to pay for sins committed by all mankind.
   Hebrews 10:10 (ESV)  And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
   But let’s look at something interesting. The baker died and that was it, yet the cupbearer lived on before pharaoh and it was the testimony of the cup bearer that got Joseph out of prison... The baker died, that’s the sacrifice of the body of Christ which was given once and for all. Yet the blood continues to testify on our behalf. And it is that blood that brings our redemption
   Hebrews 12:24 (ESV)  and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

<<Why does the meaning of the Hebrew name that Josephus says that Pharaoh gave Joseph (Discoverer of Secrets) differ so much from the meaning of the Biblical Egyptian version (Zaphnath-Paaneah), which Josephus himself seems to recognize?>>
Such a difference would reflect that the exact meaning was lost in course of over a millenium. Nonetheless, it looks like Josephus was approximately correct, because it looks like Zaphnath-Paaneah includes a combination of Hebrew words for Hide and Uncover, as well as the suffix -enath from his wife's name.
   In Genesis 41, Pharaoh remarks favorably about Joseph's success in dream interpretation:
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38. And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?”
   39. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you.
   Pharaoh gave Joseph presents and powers of rulership, saying:
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44. ...“I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man may lift his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.”
   45. And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnath-Paaneah. And he gave him as a wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On.
   Pharaoh's repeated characterization of Joseph as blessed by God suggests to me that later when Pharaoh gives him a name it could incorporate a reference to God. The context of Pharaoh's compliments also points to Joseph's name including a reference to his role as discovering secrets, like the meaning of dreams.
   The Wikipedia entry on Joseph's Egyptian name says that Jewish traditions in Targum Onkelos, Targuhum Pseudo-Jonathan, and Josephus interpret the name to mean the revealer/finder of mysteries, or one to whom mysteries are revealed.
   So both the context for the name's meaning and the Jewish traditions agree with Josephus' explanation about the name. Here is how Josephus tells the story:
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He [ie. Joseph] had now completed his thirtieth year and Joseph's was in the enjoyment of every honour at the hand of the king, who called him Psonthomphanech(os), in view of his amazing intelligence, that name signifying " Discoverer of Secrets."
   Thackeray's Note:
   Heb. Zaphenath-paneah. The interpretation here given of the Hebrew form of the name (the first half of which was connected with Heb. zdphan, " to hide ") recurs in the Syriac version and in the Targum of Onkelos. The meaning of the underlying Egyptian name is uncertain.
   What I meant as the difference between Josephus' explanation for the name and the real meaning that even Josephus seemed to recognize was that the real meaning seemed to include a reference to God. I said this because Josephus writes that Joseph's brother Judah later made a speech to Joseph suggesting that Joseph shared a name with God:
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...thou already rejoicest in that title and wilt be preserved in unimpaired possession of it by God, who is the Father of all ; since, in virtue of that name that thou thyself sharest with Him, it will be deemed an act of piety towards Him to take pity on our father...
   I took this to mean that Joseph's name included an Egyptian word for God, which is something that some scholars interpret to be in Josephus' name. But Judah's speech could also mean that Joseph's name as also a title for God, as in God being a "Revealer of Secrets."
   Joseph's name could have taken its middle part, -enath, from the name of his Egyptian wife Asenath. Scholars theorize that -enath could refer to Neith, the Egyptian goddess of the heavens (which could fit with the idea of his name as containing a divine name), or that the name Asenath was a female counterpart of the Egyptian male name Afenat.
   Tyson Thome theorizes on the Think-biblically website that Zaphnath-Paaneah (צָפְנַת פַּעְנֵחַ Ṣāfnaṯ Paʿnēaḫ) is related to the Hebrew words צפן פִּעְנֵחַ (tsaphan paneach), meaning to hide & to interpret. This would go along with Josephus' explanation that the name meant "Discoverer of Secrets."
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The name Zaphenath-Paneah that was given to Joseph, can be derived from the Hebrew roots: צפן פִּעְנֵחַ (tsaphan and paneach). Tsaphan means “to hide, treasure or store up”. Paneach means “to decipher; solve; decode, interpret”. Thus, Zaphenath-Pa’neach, Joseph’s Egyptian name, might be translated as, “He who explains hidden things”.
   So whereas Egyptologists have not been able to find a clear meaning for the name as an Egyptian word, the context and the closest known Hebrew words fit together to point to something like Josephus' explanation, "Discoverer of Secrets."   
« Last Edit: November 09, 2019, 02:43:02 PM by rakovsky »
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #271 on: November 10, 2019, 08:06:48 PM »
JOSEPHUS' ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS: BOOKS III-V, FROM MOSES TO SAMSON

<<Does Josephus' description of  the Ten Commandments' two tablets mean that on the front cover there were two and a half commandments, and then 5 commandments on the inside cover? The total would be 15 commandments, so that would sound wrong. What does OPISTHOGRAPHA mean, and how would you translate the underlined part that M. Weill renders "deux et demie par colonne"?>>
Josephus' description is apparently saying that he put 2 1/2 commandments on each face of the two tablets, implying that each tablet had two faces.
   Here is Loeb's edition of Book 3 of the Antiquities, wherein Josephus records details about the tablets of the 10 Commandments that are not in the Bible:
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ταύτῃ τὰς δύο πλάκας, ἐν αἷς τοὺς δέκα λόγους συγγεγράφθαι συμβεβήκει ἀνὰ πέντε μὲν εἰς ἑκατέραν ἀνὰ δύο δὲ καὶ ἥμισυ κατὰ μέτωπον, ἐγκατέθετο. καὶ ταύτην ἐν τῷ ἀδύτῳ κατατίθησιν.
   To the cover were affixed two figures, (Ex. xxv.) " cherubs " as the Hebrews call them—winged creatures these, but in form unlike to any that man's eyes have seen, and Moses says that he saw them sculptured upon the throne of God.(Footnote A) Within this ark he deposited the two tables, whereon had been recorded the ten commandments, five on each of them, and two and a half on either face.(FOOTNOTE B) The ark itself he laid up in the sanctuary.
   Thackeray's footnotes
   (A) Not in the Pentateuch, nor apparently (to judge from M. Weill's silence) in any known Rabbinical tradition. Perhaps,
as suggested by M. Weill, a reminiscence of Ezekiel's vision, in which cherubim uphold the firmament which supports God's throne (Ezek. x. 1).
   (B) The tables being regarded as OPISTHOGRAPHA. For this last detail no parallel has been found in Rabbinical tradition for "five on each" cf. § 101 note. M. Weill, however, renders "deux et demie par colonne."
   According to the webpage https://www.dictionary.com/browse/opisthograph , opisthograph means "a manuscript, parchment, or book having writing on both sides of the leaves." Since it has an "a" at the end in Loeb's footnote, Loeb's is putting the term in the Greek plural. (eg. the plural of "autograph" in Greek is "autographa")
   Weill's phrase "Deux et demie par colonne" means "Two and a half per column" when translated from French.
   The phrase "δύο δὲ καὶ ἥμισυ κατὰ μέτωπον," must mean "two and a half per face". The word "μέτωπον" literally means "between the eyes." So in the Book of Revelation it is used to mean "forehead." On the Greek Textkit forum, Jeidsath writes: "Looking through all of Josephus' uses of μέτωπον, which he uses to mean geometric "face" or "front" a great number of times -- unlike the Septuagint or NT, which do not ever use it that way -- I can't convince myself that he means 'columns.'"(SOURCE: https://www.textkit.com/greek-latin-forum/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=69241&p=207383#p204698)
   If there are "2 1/2 commandments per face", and there are 2 "faces" per tablet (one on either side of a table), and 2 tablets total, then there are ten commandments.

<<Josephus says that Moses instituted the Festival of Booths (Sukkot) for the Hebrews to build tent-booths in September or October to protect themselves against the onset of winter. Does this festival correlate to the Transfiguration, when Jesus looked white as snow and Peter proposed making booths? The Transfiguration feast is in August, not September - October.>>
Apparently they are connected in meaning, but not in calendar timing. The Torah Portions website says:
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Simon Peter did not have that type of symbolic significance in mind when he offered to build the shelters. Nor was he attempting to keep the mandate to dwell in booths during Sukkot. The gospels provide no reason to assume that the transfiguration occurred during the festival of Sukkot. Had it been Sukkot, the Master and His disciples needed to be in Jerusalem for the festival, not at Caesarea Philippi. (https://torahportions.ffoz.org/disciples/synoptic-gospels/three-sukkot-on-mount-transfig.html)
Yuri Ruban writes on the Orthodox Church Calendar website that the story of the Transfiguration points to the festival of Sukkot/Tabernacles. He notes that Sukkot was "established in memory f the wandering people in the wilderness, when people lived in huts. Booths are associated in the consciousness of the faithful Jew namely with the shining cloud, in which God showed Himself (more precisely, His 'glory') in the Tabernacle of the assembly..." Marina Golubina also discusses the connection between the two holidays on the Katehon website (http://katehon.com/ru/article/vizantiyskaya-ikonopis-preobrazhenie-gospodne).

<<In Book IV, Josephus refers to the ban on eunuchs in Deuteronomy 23. How does this compare with Matthew 19:12>>
Deuteronomy 23:1 runs:
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He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.
In contrast, Jesus in Matthew 19 isn't praising "eunuchs" in the sense of those who mutilate themselves, but rather those who abstain from sex voluntarily and ascetically.

<<This Question has 4 Parts: (A) Was the extermination of Canaanites God's order or just something that Moses decided on in accordance with God's more general command to conquer the area? (B) Could the Israelites, in fulfilling their instructions, spare the Canaanites who surrendered and gave up their idolatry and political independence? (C) How could Josephus say that there were no Canaanites left after the Israelite conquests, but then talk about the Canaanites as still existing later? (D) Can one reconcile Moses' instructions on killing Israel's enemies with Christian principles of mercy towards one's enemies?>>
   (Part A) According to the Bible, the "destruction" of the Canaanites was God's order, although "destruction" could be political and cultural and does not necessarily mean killing. Psalm 106 complains about the Israelites in a way that mentions that God commanded the destruction:
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34. They[ie. the Israelites] did not destroy the peoples, Concerning whom the Lord had commanded them, 35. But they mingled with the Gentiles And learned their works; 36. They served their idols, Which became a snare to them.
   In Deuteronomy 7, Moses announces to the people:
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1. When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;
   2. And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:
   Deuteronomy 20 speaks as if God commanded destroying everyone in the cities given as an inheritance:   
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Only in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the Lord your God. (Deut. 20.16–18)
   Paul Coulter, in his article "Old Testament Killings" argues that per a closer analysis, the specific commands were not actually necessarily for killing, but could be for driving out the Canaanites:
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There is a range of verbs used in the commands to Israel concerning how they should treat the Canaanites. Some of these clearly speak of extermination, but others speak of driving them out (see Deuteronomy 7). Deuteronomy 9:3 brings these two ideas together succinctly: “you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the LORD has promised you”. It seems from a careful reading of the related passages that God’s intention was that the Canaanites would have a possibility of fleeing the land as the Israelites advanced. In the case of those kings and cities that refused to do so, there was no option but annihilation. There is no suggestion that Canaanites who left the land must be pursued; rather the commands to annihilate are connected only with people in the cities of the land.
   Presumably if Canaanites had left Canaan they would then have been treated like all other nations and the Israelites could have made treaties with them and would have been bound by the more general codes of conduct in warfare given in Deuteronomy 20 (see 1. above).
   So, this was not so much a case of genocide (the extermination of an ethnic group) but rather forced removal from the land of Canaan. God’s judgement was primarily that the Canaanites would lose the land because of their detestable religious practices and in order to preserve the purity of Israel’s worship of Him. As we read through Joshua and Judges this appears to be born out, as the extermination of the Canaanites is never fully implemented.
The order must not necessarily have been to kill them all, or else it would have been pointless to also order driving them out.
   (Part B) The Israelites, in keeping with their orders, could have spared Canaanites who surrendered and gave up idolatry and independence. There are actually examples of Canaanites doing that and being spared and depicted respectfully by the Biblical author. Greg Koukl writes in "The Canaanites: Genocide or Judgment?": "Aliens shared the same legal rights in the commonwealth as Jews (Lev. 19:34, Lev. 24:22, Deut. 10:18–19)."
   Archeologists theorize that the Israelites themselves have a major Canaanite component in their ancestry, which implies that many Canaanites did convert over the centuries to the Israelites' religion.
   Rahab was the Canaanite woman who protected Israelite spies in Joshua 2, and she and her family joined the Israelites.
   The Gibeonites tricked the Israelites into making a covenant of protection with them, and although this contradicted Joshua's instructions, the Bible actually looks favorably on the Gibeonites as deserving protection. In his article "Good News in the Gibeonite Deception", Tyler Kenney notes the Gibeonites' recognition of God's plan for the land when they tell Joshua, "Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you—so we feared greatly for our lives because of you and did this thing." (Josh. 9). Kenney notes numerous parallels with Rahab, which implies that the Bible looks similarly with favor on the Gibeonites:
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Like the Gibeonites, Rahab was a native of Canaan (Joshua 2:1). Like the Gibeonites, she had confidence God was giving the land to Israel (2:9). Like the Gibeonites, she responded with fear before God's people, Israel (2:9-11). Like the Gibeonites, Rahab acted with cunning in order that she and her family might find refuge among the people of Israel (2:12-13).
Plus, later after Saul had massacred Gibeonites out of zeal for Israel, God sent a famine on Israel because of the massacre according to 2 Samuel 21.
   (Part C) In Book V of the Antiquities, Josephus writes that there were no Canaanites left, but he must mean that there were none left in the cities, because the order in Deuteronomy was directed against cities, Josephus precedes his statement about there being none left with a statement about Joshua capturing and massacring cities, implying that he was talking about the cities being empty, and he follows it by saying that Canaanites survived who escaped through the walls:
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Advancing very far in pursuit, Joshua destroyed the whole of the enemy's army, save for a few, —the kings all fell—in such wise that, when there were no more men to be killed, he slew their horses and burnt the chariots. He then overran the country unmolested, none daring to come out to give him battle ; the cities too he captured by siege and massacred every creature that he caught. A fifth year had now passed away and there was no longer any Canaanite left, save for such as had escaped through the solidity of their walls.
   Further, to say that one destroyed one's enemies was sometimes hyperbolic in this era in the Near East. Reuel Leasure, in his article "Did God Command Genocide in the Old Testament?", gives other examples from this period:
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King Mesha of Moab (840 BC) reported that the Northern Kingdom of Israel “has utterly perished for always.” — In truth, Israel was around long enough to be taken into exile one hundred years later.
   Tuthmosis III of Egypt (1500 BC) declared that “the numerous army of Mitanni was overthrown within the hour, annihilated totally, like those now not existent.” — Actually, Mitanni continued to fight for another two hundred years.
   Merneptah of Egypt (1230 BC) bragged “Israel is wasted, his seed is not.” — Guess who is still around today?
   When Moses or Joshua spoke in exaggerated ways, they were simply adopting the common hyperbolic rhetoric that all ancient Near Eastern military leaders used. Everyone reading the accounts would have understood it that way, just like we understand hyperbolic sports language.
   Leasure also argues that "destroy" can mean drive out based on how it was used in Deuteronomy of the Israelites as being scattered:
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On another occasion, God threatens to “destroy” Israel for their disobedience, but this destruction did not mean genocide. It meant driving them away from the promised land. Consider Deuteronomy 28:63-64
   And the LORD took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the LORD will take delight in destroying you. You shall be plucked off the land… And the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other.
   Here is a clear example where “destroying” really meant driving them out of the land.
   (Part D) The basic conflict is that Moses' instructions apparently included killing civilians, whereas the Christian principles of mercy promote compassion, forgiveness, and alleviating suffering. Christian writers have suggested numerous ways to address the potential cruelty in Moses' instructions, like arguing that it was hyperbole, that it didn't necessarily entail killing, and that it was just, due to the Canaanites' sins. If one can address the potential cruelty, then the next challenge becomes reconciling justified harm with the principle of mercy. I think that this runs into a deeper potential conflict in the Bible between the punishment system in Moses' Law and the New Testament's especially strong encouragement of mercy. One way to reconcile them is to say that justice and mercy reflect two different categories of principles, and thus are not necessarily in conflict. To prove this, one could point to instances where God acted mercifully toward the Canaanites, as in the case of Rahab and the Gibeonites.
   One argument goes that Moses' orders were justified because of the Canaanites' deep sinfulness, like their practice of sacrificing children to Moloch. Paul Coulter, in his article "Old Testament Mass Killings", writes:
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Passages like Deuteronomy 9:4-6 (“it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you”), Deuteronomy 18:12... and Leviticus 18:24-25 (“Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants”) clearly claim that God was judging the Canaanites. The wrath of God against sin and His righteous judgement of sinners are important biblical principles.
Justin Taylor, in his article "How Could God Command Genocide in the Old Testament?", notes that the New Testament itself has a concept of major penal judgment:
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At the end of the age, Christ will come to judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; 2 Tim. 4:1; 1 Pet. 4:5), expelling them from the land (the whole earth)... That is the day “the Lord Jesus [will be] revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might (2 Thess. 1:8-9)."
   Another explanation, mentioned in part (C) above, is that Moses' orders were hyperbolic rhetoric and could actually mean driving out the inhabitants, not necessarily killing them.
   A third explanation that such aggressive actions can be justified if they are necessary to meet some even greater need, like selecting only certain people for a lifeboat that cannot hold everyone who wants to get on it. In the case of Moses' orders, part of the need could be defensive. Peter Enns, in his essay "On Creation and Killing Canaanites", notes:
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that Chemosh, god of the Moabites, tells king Mesha (or better, Mesha tells us what Chemosh told him) to take Nebo from the Israelites and “put to the ban” the entire population–and that the word “ban” corresponds precisely to the Hebrew word for the same sort of behavior
Another need that is sometimes argued is to cleanse the land from sin and idolatry because of the greater plan that God has it in Salvation history wherein He redeems the world.
   A fourth argument goes that God's mercy was reflected in his patience as he waited for the Canaanites to repent. William Lane Craig, in his article "Slaughter of the Canaanites", comments on the passage from Genesis about God waiting before his orders against the Amorites:
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“Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. . . . And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites [one of the Canaanite clans] is not yet complete” (Gen. 15. 13, 16)...
   God stays His judgement of the Canaanite clans 400 years because their wickedness had not reached the point of intolerability! This is the long-suffering God we know in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Eric Lyons, in "God’s Just Destruction of the Canaanites", makes the same argument:
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Indeed, God waited. He waited more than four centuries to bring judgment upon the inhabitants of Canaan. ... He would wait until the Israelites had been in Egypt for hundreds of years, because at the time that God spoke with Abraham “the iniquity of the Amorites” was “not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16). [NOTE: “The Amorites were so numerous and powerful a tribe in Canaan that they are sometimes named for the whole of the ancient inhabitants, as they are here” (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, 1997).] In Abraham’s day, the inhabitants of Canaan were not so degenerate that God would bring judgment upon them. However, by the time of Joshua (more than 400 years later), the Canaanites’ iniquity was full
   A fifth argument is that stopping the Canaanites' sinfulness through the Israelite conquest was actually merciful because of the extent of the sinfulness. While the innocent Canaanite children were driven out of the cities with their families, they and their descendants didn't continue performing or undergoing ritual sacrifice.
   Finally, Paul Coulter, in his essay "Old Testament Mass Killings", sees parallels between the events of the Great Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the conquest of Canaan, and the New Testament's concept of the Last Judgment, suggesting that these events actually sharing an underlying moral foundation and operation of God's patience and Salvation. Coulter arranged the events in a table to show their similarity:   
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------- Judgement (agent) | Time to repent|  God’s witness  |   Salvation through faith       Flood | Genesis 6:5-7 (the Flood)| While the ark was being built (1 Peter 3:20)|   Noah  |  Noah and family built and entered the ark (Genesis 6:9; 7:8)      Canaanites   |  Deuteronomy 9:4-6, 18:12; Leviticus 18:24-25 (Israelite armies under Joshua)|  Israel’s 40 years in the desert (news reached Canaanites – Joshua 2:10)|  Israel led by Moses and Joshua  | Rahab and family – she tied a scarlet thread outside window (Joshua 2)
   These same principles also apply to what the New Testament says about the final judgement:
   a. God will judge fairly – once again God initiates the judgement, but in this case the outcome will be more than physical death. The consequences will be either eternal punishment or eternal blessing (Revelation 20:11-15).
   b. Time to repent – God is now patiently waiting, giving people an opportunity to repent (2 Peter 3:9). When Christ returns, God’s judgement will come and no one will be able to escape from it.
   c. God’s witness – Christians are present now in the world as witnesses to God’s truth and love (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).
   d. Salvation through faith – There is salvation for any who will repent and trust in Christ for salvation (Acts 2:21).   

<<What do you make of the word Elohim in Exodus 22:28, "Thou shalt not revile Elohim (the gods/God/the judges), nor curse the ruler of thy people."?>>
It means "Elohim" in the sense of the Hebrew word for "God." God is the most important Elohim whom you shouldn't revile, whereas other gods are reviled sometimes in TaNaKh.
   Interpreting the word in Exodus 22 as "judges" would be redundant because the verse also bans reviling the ruler and Israel was then ruled by judges. Jezebel's instructions against Naboth helps to confirm that it doesn't mean "judges" when she orders, "And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, 'Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.'" The form of the reason that she gives ("Thou didst blaspheme God/Elohim and the king") for her order matches the prohibition in Exodus 22. As King Ahab's wife, she would be unlikely to refer to the judges before referring to the king, who would be more powerful than the judges.
   A large majority of translations on the Bible Hub translation list say "God", although some say "gods" or "judges": (https://biblehub.com/exodus/22-28.htm)
   
<<Does the Biblical story of Yael killing the Canaanite commander Sisera in Book V have an allegorical meaning, particularly one referring to the Passion?>>
   Apparently Deborah's song praising Yael for killing Sisera prefigured the archangel Gabriel's praise for the Virgin Mary and Mary's own song in Luke's Gospel because of resemblances between the songs. Deborah's and Gabriel's songs calls the women to whom they were directed "Blessed" among women, and Mary's praise sounds militaristic in one place ("He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly."). So Yael herself is a prefigurement of Mary. Commentators see Yael's killing of the Canaanite commander Sisera, who had been attacking the Israelites, as representing the defeat of Satan or the AntiChrist. They see Yael's nail as prefiguring the nails of the Crucifixion that were used in Christ's saving work on the cross. Some also see the nail's piercing Sisera's skull as prefiguring the Cross being put into the great rock of Golgotha, which means "the place of the skull".
   Here is Josephus' narration:
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But Sisares, having leapt from his chariot when he saw that the rout was come, fled till he reached the abode of a woman of the Kenites named Iale; she, at his request to conceal him, took him in, and, when he asked for drink, gave him milk that had turned sour." And he, having drunk thereof immoderately, fell asleep. Then, as he slumbered, lale took an iron nail and drove it with a hammer through his mouth and jaw, piercing the ground; and when Barak's company arrived soon after she showed him to them nailed to the earth. Thus did this victory redound, as Dabora had foretold, to a woman's glory. But Barak, marching upon Asor, slew Jabin who encountered him and, the general having fallen, razed the city to the ground; he then held command of the Israelites for forty years.
   FOOTNOTE
   [Iale refers to:] Bibl. Jael.
   The detail of using a mallet and nail to kill Sisera through the skull has been curious or unexpected enough for me to consider the story to have a possible allegorical meaning like the stories of the Binding of Isaac and Joseph's capture in the pit do. The use of a nail especially brings to mind the nails used at the Crucifixion, and Sisera's skull could conceivably represent the rock at Golgotha as I mentioned. In this story, Sisera could conceivably represent evil gentile rulers, the Antichrist, or Satan. Beyond this, however, it is hard for me to have a strong sense of how exactly the killing of Sisera would prefigure the Passion. This is one of the hardest questions for me in the first five volumes of Josephus' Antiquities, and it seems to originate in the problem that such potential prefigurements are sometimes not clear, as they rely on coincidences between two separate events that imply a mystical connection.
   My own hypothesis, which came to me when I read this story, was Yael gouging Sisera's temples represented opening metaphorical "ears" in them, which in turn represented allowing the gentiles to hear God's word, in agreement with David's Psalm 40:6. I thought of this because of the unusual choice of gouging him through the temples, as well as how nails and gouging show up in other Biblical passages.
   In Deuteronomy 23:13, the Israelites were instructed to use a spike ("yated") to dig holes for their refuse. In Judges 4, Yael (יָעֵ֣ל) fed sour milk to Sisera, the Canaanite commander who had been attacking the Israelites, made him sleep, took a spike ("yated") and nailed it through Sisera's temples, fastening his head to the ground. In Psalm 22, the Messianic narrator cries that his enemies "gouged (kara) my arms". And then in Psalm 40, David sings, "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened (literally: gouged/dug, kara)". I took this to mean that God made ears in David symbolically, allowing him to hear God's word.
   So my hypothesis was that Yael gouging Sisera's temples symbolized God (Yah, El) digging/gouging/opening symbolic "ears" in gentiles to let them hear His word. I thought that gouging a nail through someone's temples could metaphorically be like gouging "ears" into them. On the other hand, Yael's name is not quite the same as "Yah-El". And I couldn't find other writers seeing anything special in the nailing of the temples. So at this point, it looks like my hypothesis is only a possibility. It is common for writers to perceive real or imagined prefigurements that other writers don't see, and it can be hard to have certainty about whether they are right.
   
<<Does a Christological prophecy appear in Book V, when Josephus tells how the ruler, Gideon died, and Gideon's youngest son killed his own brothers, with only his brother Jotham escaping? Is the parable that Jotham gave to the people a prophetic reference to the crown of thorns?>>
   The story of Gideon's death, Abimelech killing his half-brothers, and Jotham's escape are found in Judges 8-9. It is hard to exclude the possibility that the story serves as a mystical, hidden prefigurement of Christ's experience, since mystical prefigurements are by nature hidden and not stated directly. Nonetheless, it also appears hard to find a solid Christological prefigurement in the story of Jotham's escape. Judges 9:5 refers to the half-brothers' deaths and Jotham's escape:
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And he went unto his father's house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.
One Biblical commentary noted that this event reflected an ancient phenomenon in the Middle East of a claimant to the throne killing his brothers who could be competitors, in this case Abimelech killing his half-brothers in order to take the throne.
   Worship in the Northern Kingdom, which focused on Mount Gerizim where Jotham made his speech was a kind of inverted version of Judah's worship. In Judaism, worship and sacrifices were supposed to be focused at Jersualem's Temple, but the Northern Kingdom focused on the mountain in Israel's north. And if I had to read the story in Judges 9 of Abimelech killing his half-brothers and Jotham's escape as a Christological prefigurement, it would have to be as an inverse of its New Testament fulfillment. Abimelech's 70 pieces of silver would be like the pieces of silver given to Judas, the 70 victims would be like 70 apostles who were Jesus' "brothers". The 70 brothers' killing and Jotham's escape would be an inversion of Christ's killing and the apostles' escape at Gethsemane. The killing on the stone could be pointing to the Crucifixion on Golgotha, or if it meant that they were knocked down from the stone and killed, then it could point to the killing of Jesus' brother James, who in early traditions was knocked down from a wall and stoned.
   However, the theory of an inverse prefigurement seems strange and unlikely, and so the hypothesis that Jotham's escape served as a prefigurement of Christ's experience also seems unlikely. Besides, the elements don't coincide very well. Abimelech gave his co-conspirators 70 pieces of silver, one for each victim, whereas Judas was given only 30 pieces of silver.
   As for Jotham's parable, the bramble serves as a prefigurement, either as a prophecy or by sharing an allegorical, spiritual meaning with the Crown of Thorns. Here is Jotham's parable in Judges 9:8-15:
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8. The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. 9. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? 10. And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. 11. But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? 12. Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. 13. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? 14. Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. 15. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.
   The article "THE PROPHECY BEHIND THE CROWN OF THORNS" sees in this parable a prophecy of the Crown of Thorns:
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In Jotham’s parable, the bramble was asked to become king over all the trees in the forest. At Calvary, that bramble bush was made into a crown to be worn by the King. Looking at it in perspective as it sat on the head of Christ in all of it’s shame, piercing the flesh, bringing the blood, it was indeed a lowly bramble bush. It was not a crown made out of olive wood, it was a crown made from a bramble bush. ... In Jotham’s parable, when the bramble was invited to be their king, it replied, “If in truth, ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow…” (Judges 9:15). In prophetic fulfillment, one can see the savior of the souls of humanity hanging their in utter humility beneath the shadow of the bramble bush. One can see it exalted upon his head... When the bramble bush answered the request of the other trees, it said, “… put your trust in my shadow, and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.” It did not say, “I will devour the olive tree.” It did not say that it will burn the fig tree, or the vine. It said, “I will devour the cedars of Lebanon.” Forty years later, a fire devoured the great cedars of Lebanon, just like the parable said it would. The fulfillment of that prophecy came when the Romans burned the Jewish Temple to the ground. The doors of the Temple were made out of cedar wood from Lebanon. The prophet Zechariah also predicted it… “Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars” (Zechariah 11:1).
   https://endtimesdarknessdescending.wordpress.com/2018/07/15/the-prophecy-behind-the-crown-of-thorns/
   The article "Thorns in the Bible" sees an indirect relationship between the parable and the crown of thorns, in that thorns were part of the curse after the Fall in Genesis. It cites Isaiah 55, which in contrast predicts a blessed time when
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Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
   The article "From the Old Testament: Jotham’s Parable. What does it mean?" shares the view that there was an indirect link, in that Jotham's parable was a curse in that it used a thorn, which was a curse under Genesis 3. It also notes:
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After being mocked, beaten and spat upon by the Roman soldiers, Jesus was crowned with thorns and this highlighted that His suffering and death were a curse. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” (Hebrews 3:13) When our Lord was crowned with a crown of thorns, His torturers unknowingly punished Him with a symbol fitting of the suffering Messiah.

<<Was the angel who foretold Samson's birth to his mother the Lord, and if so, how can one explain His appearance in light of the Biblical verse that no man can see God and live? Maybe the angel kept his face covered?>>
   Yes, it must have been the Lord, and he appeared in a man-like form that Samson's mother could handle seeing. The angel wasn't veiling His face because the mother and her husband, Manoah, saw that the angel's face was awesome/fearful.
   The verse that one cannot see God and live is in Exodus 33:20. There, God appears to Moses and tells him, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” So God lets Moses see His back instead.
   In Judges 13, Manoah asks the angel,
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“What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?” And the angel of YHWH said to him, 'Why do you ask my name, seeing it is Wonderful?'
   This sounds like more than just an angel, because angels gave people their names like Michael. The couple were in awe of the angel and so he knew that they saw his name as wonderful.
   "Wonderful" is also one of the seemingly Messianic divine names in Isaiah 9:
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6. For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of YHWH of hosts will perform this.
   Although the passage in Isaiah 9 could be at face value about the birth of King Hezekiah, "Almighty God" is too high a title for Hezekiah. Plus, the author or editors of the Book of Isaiah would have known that Hezekiah's rule did not achieve the extreme successes in Isaiah 9's declarations like establishing the kingdom with justice forever, so they likely would not have included such extreme accolades their final version of the book if they had directed the praise to Hezekiah alone (and not to the Messiah as well).
   Subsequent verses in Judges 13 help confirm that the angel was God:
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19. So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to YHWH, to the one who works wonders, and Manoah and his wife were watching.
   20. And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of YHWH went up in the flame of the altar. Now Manoah and his wife were watching, and they fell on their faces to the ground.
   21. The angel of YHWH appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of Yahweh
   22. And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.”
That Judges 13 notes that YHWH works wonders, that the angel's name is Wonderful. as well as Manoah's assertion that he saw God suggest that YHWH was the angel. The Bible does not counter Manoah's assertion that he saw God, but rather lets it stand, thus adding further support to the assertion.
   The article "Manoah's Wife" says:
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As angels do not receive worship, the supernatural person the over-awed couple saw was no ordinary angel, for they fell on their faces and said, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God” (Exodus 33:20). It is clearly evident, therefore, that Manoah and his wife had witnessed one of those Old Testament theophanic appearances of Christ.
   The couple had asked the angel's name to honor him, and they fell on their faces when he went up, suggesting worship, and the Bible doesn't counter their statement that they saw God, so it suggests that the man was God.
   As to how they could see God and live, the woman and the chapter itself repeatedly referred to the angel as a man, like when she said: “A Man of God came to me, and His countenance was like the countenance of the Angel of God, very awesome". The wife of Manoah gave a good explanation: “If the Lord had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have told us such things as these at this time.” So God wanted to appear to them without killing them, so He must have done so in a way that they could handle.
   The teaching that one cannot see God and live, given in Exodus 33, must mean that a normal person in a physical body cannot look at God in His divine essence and live because of how powerful it is. Natalya Budur in the Russian-language book Orthodox Faith reasons that since we would go blind from staring at the sun, then this would be even true if we looked at God, who is stronger than the sun.
   St. Irenaeus, in Against Heresies, Book 4, Chapter 20, theorizes that humans cannot normally see God, but that God could reveal himself in ways that they can handle:
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The prophets, then, indicated beforehand that God should be seen by men; as the Lord also says, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 But in respect to His greatness, and His wonderful glory, no man shall see God and live, Exodus 33:20 for the Father is incomprehensible; but in regard to His love, and kindness, and as to His infinite power, even this He grants to those who love Him, that is, to see God, which thing the prophets did also predict. For those things that are impossible with men, are possible with God. Luke 18:27 For man does not see God by his own powers; but when He pleases He is seen by men, by whom He wills, and when He wills, and as He wills.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2019, 08:10:18 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #272 on: November 30, 2019, 05:20:45 PM »
JOSEPHUS' ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS: BOOKS VI-VII, FROM SAUL TO DAVID

<<The Greek word used in Book VI for aristocracy is "aristokratios". What form of government was that exactly? Rule by a council of nobles?>>
In Book 6, Josephus narrates why Samuel the prophet resented creating a kingship over Israel:
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These words sorely grieved Samuel by reason of his innate righteousness and his hatred of kings ; for he was keenly enamoured of aristocratic government, accounting it divine and productive of bliss to those who adopted it.
The term meant rule by a council of distinguished citizens, as Josephus explains it. He writes that they were under aristocracy under Moses and Joshua, then anarchy, and then returned to aristocracy in the form that he describes: "entrusting supreme judicial authority to him who in battle and in bravery had proved himself the best ; and that is why they called this period of their political life the age of Judges."

<<Is Zabulon, referred to in Book VI, the territory that includes Jesus' home of Nazareth?>>
Yes, according to Bible Hub's article on Nazareth, https://biblehub.com/topical/n/nazareth.htm

<<Josephus calls Jerusalem the City of David. But wasn't Bethlehem also called The City of David?>>
In Book VI, Josephus wrote:
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When David had driven the Jebusites out of the citadel and had himself rebuilt Jerusalem, he called it the City of David and continued to dwell in it for the whole length of time that he reigned.
The City of David was a title used for both places, according to Christian Answers' article on the "City of David": https://christiananswers.net/dictionary/davidcityof.html
      
<<Since David is seen as a prefigurement of the Messiah, is his battle against Goliath also a Messianic prefigurement?>>
Yes, because the Bible sees David as a Messianic figure, and because of coincidences between the battle and Jesus' story. Goliath could represent paganism or the devil, Saul's armor could represent the outward accoutrements of a king that Jesus gave up in coming as a heavenly leader, and the five stones could represent the five wounds of Christ. Damasus Winzen, in his article "David: Prototype of Christ", notes that "David jumped into the breach, without armor, a true soldier of his God, knowing that 'not with sword or spear does the Lord deliver, for the battle is the Lord’s' (1 Samuel 17:47). With a sling, a stone and a stick, David overcomes all the most up-to-date might of Goliath (17:5)." Winzen proposes that David brings to mind Christ, "who jumped into the breach to give his life for the whole people and conquered the power of Satan with the cross". Christ served as a mediator who achieved victory with what would normally be a weak instrument to do so, the Cross. Since David was trained as a Shepherd and used a shepherd's tools of a staff and sling, he reminds us of the Messianic image of the Good Shepherd. The stones could represent the 5 stone/metal weapons used on Jesus, the 4 nails and the spear. Jason Miller in his essay "Discovering the Hope" notes that in general, the Bible sees the Messiah as associated with David. He sees Goliath as prefiguring the Adversary in the story for trying to enslave Israel. Miller notes that there is no clear reason why the writer specifies 5 stones, so Miller seeks other explanations, like the number of books in Torah and Christ's 5 wounds at His crucifixion. That is,
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two in the hands, two in the feet and one in the side. The wounds of Christ, signifying his death, were certainly the means by which Christ defeated Satan on the Cross. As five smooth stones were gathered by David to conquer Goliath, so five wounds were suffered by Jesus as he defeated Satan.
   The second element of David’s victory over Goliath was Goliath’s own sword, which David uses to cut off Goliath’s head. The prefiguring continues: just as David used Goliath’s own weapon to completely defeat, so Christ used Satan’s own weapon to completely defeat him: by death he destroyed death.
   Miller notes David's brothers' displeasure at David's arrival at the battle, noting that "The three oldest brothers are part of the army of Israel facing Goliath and the Philistines. They react with anger at David’s appearance at the battle (1 Samuel 17:28)". The brothers' displeasure could represent the skepticism of Jesus' siblings toward Jesus or Jesus' rejection by the pharisees and Jewish religious leaders. Miller also notes that when Saul
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allows David to go fight Goliath, he clothes him in his own armor, which David cannot use. David instead needs to fight Goliath on his own terms, not as an armored warrior, but as a shepherd. The people of Israel try to clothe Jesus in their own conception of what a Messiah should look like, seen especially in the disciples’ numerous queries about when Jesus will restore Israel, as well as the shouts of Hosanna to the Son of David at the Lord’s entrance to Jerusalem. Saul, the King of Israel representing the people of Israel, also prefigures the people of Israel in the time of Jesus.
David Guzik's outline, "David and Goliath", shows how elements of the story can relate to the Gospel story. He notes that "David is said to be the youngest of eight sons of Jesse; yet Psalm 89:27 calls David God's firstborn, demonstrating that "firstborn" is as much a title and a concept as a description of birth order". This brings to mind that Christ is God's firstborn. 1 Samuel 17:15-16 notes about David and Goliath the Philistine before the battle: "But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem. And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days." Guzik notes: "Forty days (or years) is used in the Scriptures rather consistently as a period of judgment and/or testing (Noah, Israel, Jesus)". Guzik lists "Examples of how David's victory over Goliath prefigures Jesus' victory on our behalf":
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1. Goliath wanted to be a representative of his people; whatever happened to him would happen to the Philistine nation; whatever happened to the representative of God's people would happen to God's people
   2. The battle took place on ground that rightfully belonged to God's people, ground that they had lost
   3. Goliath was able to dominate the people of God through fear and intimidation alone
   4. Who sent David to the battle ground? He was sent by his father (1 Samuel 17:17)
   5. David was scorned and rejected by his own brethren
   6. David fought the battle without concern with human strategies or conventional wisdom
   ...
   F. ([1 Samuel 17, Verses] 55-58) Saul meets a victorious David
   1. Why didn't Saul recognize David, when David had played for him in the palace? Four possible solutions:
   a. He did recognize him, but wanted to know his family background for the sake of marriage
   b. He could not recognize David because he is, or was, too mentally and emotionally unstable
   c. Perhaps Saul never really saw David, because David played behind a curtain
   d. Perhaps David had matured greatly (had he grown a beard?) in his time away from Saul
   e. Young man in verse 56 means one who is fully grown, mature, and ready to marry
Saul's inability to recognize David reminds me of Herod's, the Sanhedrin's, and pharisees' inability to recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
   Goliath was from the city of Gath, and as Joshua 11:22 notes, some of the Anakim remained in Gath. Moses' scouts had reported to Moses about the Land of Canaan: "There we saw the Nephilim (the Anakites come from the Nephilim); and to ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them." So the Anakim and Nephilim were giant. Genesis 6:4 describes the origin of the Nephilim in the time before the Great Flood, when "the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown." If the "sons of God" refer to fallen angels as some writers theorize, Goliath would be more closely associated with Satan due to this heritage.
   Further, like Jesus' experience in the Gospels serving as a lesson revealing God to humanity, David announced in 1 Samuel 17 that he would defeat Goliath "that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear".
   Dr. Lewis Johnson, in his sermon on "David, Goliath, and David's Greater Son," explains the types that he sees that the story serves of Jesus:
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...when David came his brothers rejected him? Eliab rejects him. And, when our Lord came, his brethren rejected him, too. “He came unto his own, and his own,” the Apostle says, “And his own received him not."[John 1] David’s victory was won by apparently foolish means. The Cross is a foolish means, apparently... But, it’s by the Cross that our Lord overcomes. It’s by death that he overcomes death. It’s by what apparently is more foolish than the sling and the stones that David had. And so David’s equipment and his victory, in which he slays Goliath and slays him with his own sword, suggests that our Lord overcomes, ultimately, by the very thing that Satan had delegated in his power, the power of death.
David's stone hitting Goliath in the head can also represent the crushing of the serpent's head promised in Genesis 3.

<<How would you answer the moral dilemma of whether it can be morally right to lie in order to achieve a greater purpose?>>
I asked because in the story of Melcha voluntarily saving David from King Saul, Melcha lied to her father Saul that she helped David because David forced her to. Here is Josephus' account:
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But when her father rebuked her for having saved his enemy and tricked himself, she resorted to a plausible defence ; her husband, she declared, had threatened to kill her and so, by terrifying her, had secured her aid in his escape, for which she deserved pardon, seeing that she had acted under constraint and not of her own free will. (Antiquities, Book 6)
   One answer is that there is a hierarchy to God's commands, and preserving life is a higher duty than truthfulness alone. Another answer is the Defense of Necessity and Self-Defense. If someone is going to attack you, you have a right to fight back in a commensurate way to protect yourself (ie. without using violence that is in excess of the threat). And if one can use violence for self defense, then the same principle must also be true as in the case of lying for defence. If instead of attacking the person who was looking to find and attack you or a loved one (like David in this example), you could lie to them about your or your beloved's location, then the option of lying would be better than attacking the pursuer since at least the lying would not be violent.

<<As in David's case, if a king thinks that his own son is building up forces against him, what would be the best thing for the king to do, when the son is not in open opposition?>>
He should try to reconcile with his son, gain his son's loyalty, address the underlying and direct factors behind the revolt, and if he bears some responsibility for the conflict, then he should address his responsibility.
   In this story, David's son Absalom had smoothed over a conflict with his father, but told lots of people that as king, he (Absalom) would have supported the peoples' causes and court cases that David had rejected. Absalom then went to Hebron, where he started to built up a following. Then, David, supposedly out of fear, fled Jerusalem the capitol. However, a major part of a kingdom rarely in history supports a king's son in a war against his own father, and David had his status as the sill-reigning monarch as an advantage. Absalom would have a much harder time overthrowing his father openly, since his own claim to the throne depended on his heritage through his father David. David's decision to flee in effect made the conflict open, and in turn the conflict's openness allowed his military the opportunity to openly conquer the rebels. Had the king stayed in Jerusalem and kept control of the capitol while his son secretly plotted in Hebron, it would be harder to make the conflict so clear to the people.
   By comparison, King Herod's decision in a situation of potential intrigue was to claim that his sons were plotting against him - which may or may not have been true - and then to kill them as plotters.
   In general, the ideal strategy would be for the king to develop such a close bond of loyalty with his son that the son would be strongly against a rebellion against his father, would try to protect his father, and would oppose other potential rebels.
   Msgr. Charles Pope, in his article "King David – A Great King, but with a critical flaw that is all too common today", notes that David himself bore some responsibility for his son Absalom's rebellion. Absalom had wanted David to punish David's oldest son Amnon for raping Absalom's sister Tamar. But David refused to do anything, so Absalom killed Amnon, developed resentment to David, fled abroad, and while he later became reconciled with David, this created a history of conflict between Absalom and David. Monsgr. Pope writes:
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Hence, due to David’s inaction, one of David’s other sons (and full brother of Tamar), Absalom, grew furious at what was done to his sister. He thus plotted, and eventually killed Amnon, and then fled to the Land of Geshur. David now had lost two sons and had a daughter who had been raped. For indeed, though eventually pardoned by his father, King David, Absalom had grown bitter against David and raised an effective rebellion against him. In the war that ensued, Absalom and his rebellion were put down, and Absalom killed.
   David seemed well aware of his role in Absolom’s rebellion and demise. He had said earlier, when one of Absolom’s followers came cursing him: If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’” David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.” (2 Sam 16:10-12)
David might have had a chance, by trying to undo his mistake, to end the rebellion in a way that reconciled himself better with his son. He had made a reconciliation with Absalom, but perhaps he could have done more to reconcile more deeply.
   Jim Bomkamp, in his essay "2 Sam. 12: 'David Is Restored To The Lord But Still Suffers The Consequences Of His Sin'", cites and comments on 2 Samuel 12:9-12 that portrays Absalom's revolt as punishment for David's sin against Uriah and Bathsheba:
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9. ‘Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. 10. ‘Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11. “Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. 12 ‘Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.’

   (Verse 10)‘The sword shall never depart from your house.’
The rest of David’s days would be filled with the worst of domestic strife. He would never again have peace and his life would forever be filled with great heartache.
   (Verses 11-12) Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes...) This will be fulfilled when David’s son Absalom rebels and tries to take the kingdom away from David, and then lays with David’s concubines in public sight so that all would not about it.
Bomkamp, in his essay on 2 Samuel 13, theorizes how David's sin with Bathsheba led to Amnon's sin, which led to Absalom's conflict with David:
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Ammon is just following the actions of his dad. David, acting as king over Israel, used his power as king to obtain Bathsheba so that he could lay with her, even though he knew all along that she belonged to another man. In like manner, Ammon forced himself upon his sister Tamar to lay with her. David had used deception in arranging for Joab to murder Uriah the Hittite, the husband of Bathsheba, and now with the help of his cousin Jonadab and Jonadab’s suggestion to Ammon, Ammon now uses deception to lure Tamar to his bed so that he could lay with her.
In the essay, after describing how David was suffering the indirect consequences of his sin with Bathsheba, Bomkamp generalizes on how people can address similar situations of negative consequences:
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If we find ourselves reaping one thing after another that we have sown walking in the flesh in disobedience to God, to get out of that cycle we’ve simply got to repent of our sins and re-submit our lives to the Lord and put Him back upon the throne of our life. Only then will the process begin to reverse and we will begin in time to reap good things for our actions.
Thus, David's repentance, like that which he puts in some of his Palms, is an important part of addressing his conflict with Absalom.
   Bomkamp writes more about how David's sin with Bathsheba led to Absalom's revolt in his essay, "2 Sam. 14-15: 'David Allows Absalom To Return To Israel However Absalom Tries To Take The Kingdom Away'”, noting:
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Ahithophel who had been David’s counselor ( and prime minister ) had been in cohorts with Absalom and was ready at Absalom’s word to come and join him in his rebellion against David. We shouldn’t be too surprised at Ahithophel turning against King David for we can deduce from 2 Sam. 11:3 and 23:24 that he was the grandfather of Bathsheba, and thus he surely resented what David had done to his granddaughter and her family.
Ben Christian in his essay "Setting sh it on fire to get attention (2 Samuel 14:28-33): An Apology in Defense of Absalom" notes how Absalom's treatment of David's concubines during the revolt resembles Nathan's prophecy about David's concubines and Amnon's treatment of Tamar:
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At one point Absalom goes as far as raping David’s concubines to politically and legally emasculate his father. And it is not lost on most readers that this act hearkens back to what happened to Tamar, or that these abused women are treated exactly like Tamar once David regains the throne and decides that they are damaged goods (2 Samuel 20:3).
Ben Christian tries to figure out why David didn't punish Amnon, and he quotes a Biblical passage and comments that David ignored her crying:
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"When King David heard of all these things, he became very angry, but he would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn (2 Samuel 13:21)." ... Perhaps Amnon was also being groomed to be king, but the bottom line is that David would not punish his son for the sake of is daughter. He loved one more than the other. Need more proof? When Amnon was faking having a witty bitty cold, David dropped everything, went to visit him, and arranged for Tamar to play his nurse (2 Samuel 13:6). He appeared when summoned by his son. David could not be bothered to visit Tamar, his own daughter, after her rape. She remained locked away in her older brother's home, ignored by the one who was supposed to protect her.
   And after that, this father blocked out the cries of his daughter. "But Tamar put ashes on her head, and tore the long robe that she was wearing; she put her hand on her head, and went away, crying aloud [za`aq] as she went. (2 Samuel 13:19)"
   The Hebrew for "crying aloud" is the word used when describing not mere tears, but trauma. It is biblically employed for childbirth, war cries on the battlefield, and most notably, the people of God crying out for His help while under the unbearable weight of oppression and slavery in Egypt: "And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried [za`aq], and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. (Exodus 2:23)"
So David was ignoring Tamar's trauma, and this played a role in Absalom'ss bitterness with his father, which in turn led to the revolt.

<<What episodes, if any, in David's life might the Psalmist have referred to when making the Psalms about the king's death and resurrection?>>
Psalm 3 concerns the Psalmist David sleeping and waking up despite the rebellion, and sleeping and awakening serve as metaphors for death and resurrection in the Bible. Psalm 3's prologue says that the occasion for the Psalm is David's flight from Absalom. Psalms 22 and Psalm 30 more clearly have images of death and resurrection.
   Psalm 16 is about God preserving the narrator or his seed descendant, God's "Holy One," from physical decay, since verses 9-10 say:
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9. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. 10. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Greg Herrick, in his essay "The Use of Psalm 16:8-11 in Acts 2:25-28", notes that the scholar Walter Kaiser
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1) a severe sickness of David after he had finished the palace; 2) during David's stay at Ziklag among the Philistines when he might have been tempted to idol worship; 3) David's word under the influence of Nathan's prophecy (2 Samuel 7) about his future dynasty, kingdom and throne. Kaiser says the third is the most likely because of the "scope of Nathan's prophecy and the linkage made in Psalm 16."
Kaiser is referring to Nathan's promise in 2 Samuel 7, which says "And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever." This brings to mind Verse 6, which runs, "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage." Further, like the apostle Peter in Acts 2, one could theorize that David was predicting the Messiah's own experience of not physically decaying when David wrote in Psalm 16, "neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption".

   It is not certain at what point David wrote Psalm 22, but it seems most connected with his sickness from which he recovered at the end of his life. In particular, the Psalm 22 could be set at dawn, because the superscription says that the Psalm is "On the Star/Doe (’ay-ye-leṯ) of the Morning." Esther Menn writes in her essay, "No Ordinary Lament", that, "Curiously, the superscription of the Targum to Psalm 22 claims that this is a psalm 'concerning the virtue of the Continual Morning Sacrifice.'"
   The article "Psalm 22 – The Messiah’s Mind" on The Lampstand website sees three periods in David's life as possible settings for Psalm 22: A) David’s sin with Bathsheba, B) Absalom’s revolt and David’s ultimate redemption, and C) Adonijah’s conspiracy, David’s sickness and Solomon’s coronation. In favor of (A) is that the Psalm bears close resemblance to Psalm 32, which is about repentance, and David's repentance after his sin with Bathsheba was a major point in David's life. But I think that (A) is unlikely as the setting for Psalm 22, in which the narrator suffers severely, because David was not being persecuted at that point like he was in (B) and (C). The article "Psalm 22 – The Messiah’s Mind" sees the setting of Psalm 22 as David's flight from Absalom because of numerous parallels between David's flight and Christ's Passion (explored in the next question), and because of parallels between Psalm 22 and the Passion (eg. Christ reciting the words of Psalm 22:1). The article also compares Psalm 22:20's phrase, “From the power of the dogs” with Abishai's complaint to David about Shimei in 2 Sam 16:9 “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king?” Shimei in this verse could be compared to a dog, but he is not the only one, so the verse in Psalm 22 is not necessarily referring to this verse in 2 Samuel.
   The article "Psalm 22 – The Messiah’s Mind" shows the strongest connections between Psalm 22 and (C), the succession of events in David's old age of Adonijah’s conspiracy, David’s sickness and Solomon’s coronation. The article says:
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David’s recovery and appointment of Solomon, followed by his coronation in 1 Chronicles 28 and 29 provide significant links to show that Psalm 22 could also have been written about this time:
   PSALM 22__________TIME OF ABSALOM’S REVOLT
   “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (v1) 1 Chron 28:20 “Even my God...He will not fail thee nor forsake thee” 1 Chron 29:17 “My God, thou triest the heart”
   “I will declare thy name unto my brethren” (v22) 1 Chron 28:2 “Hear me, my brethren
   “Will I praise thee” (v22), “Praise him, glorify him” (v23) 1 Chron 29:13 “Praise thy glorious name”
   “In the midst of the congregation will I praise thee” (v22) “My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation” (v25) 1 Chron 28:1,8; 29:1,10,20 David assembles “the congregation”  1 Chron 29:10,20 “David blessed YHWH before all the congregation”
   “For the Kingdom is YHWH’s” (v28) 1 Chron 29:11,23 “Thine is the Kingdom... Solomon sat on the throne of YHWH”

   Another key piece of evidence is the links between Psalm 22 and Psalm 71. The setting of Psalm 71 can be seen as late in David’s life from verse 18, “I am old and grey headed”:
   PSALM 22_______PSALM 71
   “My God, my God” Psa 71:22 “Oh my God”
   “Why hast thou forsaken me?” (v1) Psa 71:9,18 “Forsake me not”
   “I was cast upon thee from the womb” (v10) Psa 71:5-6 “Thou art my trust from my youth...from the womb”
   Psalm 71:9 specifically speaks of David’s cry of “forsake me not” coming in his old age, which provides a strong suggestion that Psalm 22 could be related to this time. When we see the flow of Psalm 71 into Psalm 72 and the wonderful connection of Solomon as a type of Christ both in 2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 72, it provides more significant points for the later timing of Psalm 22.
   Yet all these events are related. The revolt of Absalom and Adonijah both arise as consequences of David’s sin. So it would be fitting for David to recount the events of Absalom’s revolt and the lessons learnt during Adonijah’s conspiracy. David also had loose ends for Solomon to tie up which further connect the two scenarios (1 Kings 2v7-9).
Considering that Psalm 23 and 24 that follow it could have connotations of a funeral and resurrection, this set of Psalms, 22-24, could fit David's own death and resurrection. David could have been summarizing his life experiences that fit into a category of salvation.

   Psalm 30 appears to express being in a state of death and then brought up out of it, as verse 3 says, "O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast enlivened me(ḥîyîṯanî), that I should not go down to the pit." The superscription for Psalm 30 is "A Psalm. A Song at the dedication of the house (bayith) of David." Bayith literally means "house", so the verse refers to a song at the dedication of his house, which was a palace. The Enduring Word commentary notes that Psalm 30
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says nothing about the house itself; rather the focus is on God and the greatness of His deliverance. At the dedication of David’s house, David wanted God to be praised, not himself."
   "I will extol You, O LORD": At the dedication of his own house, David did not extol himself – rather, the LORD. What might have been understood as the achievement of a man was instead the occasion for praising God. 2 Samuel 5:11-12 (and 1 Chronicles 14:1-2) describe the completion of King David’s palace: "Then Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters and masons. And they built David a house. So David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel, and that He had exalted His kingdom for the sake of His people Israel."
   "You have brought my soul up from the grave": We don’t know if David here described what we might call a near-death experience or if it would be more like a narrow escape from death. Either way, in his life as a soldier and leader he had more than one time when death was near, and God rescued his soul from death.
Apparently, David was also recapping earlier points in his life. The Sons of Korah webpage on Psalm 30 says:
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Verse 6 and 7a tell of the somewhat careless attitude that David had in the midst of an easy run in his life. But David got a rude shock when all this was taken from him (vs. 7b). The result of this was that David was shaken into some solid faith-action and this is demonstrated in his prayer described in verses 8-10.
David's Psalm 30:2–3,9–10 bears major similarity to Isaiah 38:16–19, in which King Hezekiah prays for recovery from illness, saying:
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“O YHWH, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so will you recover me, and make me to live. Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but you have in love to my soul delivered it from the pit [grave] of corruption: for you have cast all my sins behind your back. For the grave [sheol] cannot praise you, death can not celebrate you: they that go down into the pit [crypt] cannot hope for your truth. The living, the living, he shall praise you, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known your truth.”
This suggests that the Psalm could be referring to David's healing from illness. David got a major sickness toward the end of his life, and it may have been the cause of his writing of Psalm 22. One problem with relating Psalm 30 with his sickness in old age is that David's palace was dedicated in 2 Samuel 5, which occurred before David's illness in old age.
   David Sielaff's article "The Tomb of David and Psalm 30" suggests that Psalm 30 described DAvid's recovery from illness:
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The Hebrew word “healed” means from a illness, not from some malady of the soul or a lapse of morals, but healed from a physical problem or illness that threatened death. While David suffered many afflictions in his lifetime (Psalm 132:1), these were not illnesses but rather they were humiliations and physical dangers such as combat or “close calls” that threatened David’s life. In Psalm 30:1, however, the word “healed” does mean healing from an illness that brought David close to death. ...
   Some have thought that David’s illness and healing were related to the episode of David’s numbering of Israel (2 Samuel 24:1–17; 1 Chronicles 21:24–22:1). However, there is no record of David ever being sick or near death because of that situation, only the people of David’s kingdom suffered and died. Therefore there is no reason to believe that Psalm 30 has reference to the numbering of Israel incident. Furthermore, David’s numbering of Israel occurred very late in David’s reign, shortly before his death.
   Albert Barnes provides more background on Psalm 30 in his commentary:
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It was usual for the Hebrews to “dedicate” a house when it was finished; that is, to devote it in a solemn manner to God, probably with appropriate religious exercises. Deuteronomy 20:5, “what man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it.” ...
   The allusion in the psalm is rather to a previous state of depression, trouble, and sorrow, such as occurred in the life of David before he conquered his enemies, and before he was peaceably established on his throne - and to the joy which he felt when he had triumphed over his foes, and was peacefully established as king in Jerusalem. All the circumstances seem to me to accord best with the time when David erected a house for his own abode - a palace - upon Mount Zion, and to the act of dedicating such a house to God. See 2 Samuel 5:9-12; 2 Samuel 7:1-2. ...
   That the allusion in the psalm is to “sickness,” seems to me to be evident from Psalm 30:2-3, Psalm 30:9, though at what time of life this occurred, or what was the particular form of disease, we are not informed. From Psalm 30:3, Psalm 30:9, however, it is certain that it was a “dangerous” illness; that he anticipated death; and that he was saved from death only in answer to fervent prayer. The psalm, therefore, in this respect, has a resemblance to Psalm 6:1-10; Psalm 41:1-13; psalms composed also in view of sickness.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2019, 05:26:51 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #273 on: November 30, 2019, 11:55:54 PM »
Let me clarify what I said about Psalm 16 above. Greg Herrick, in his essay "The Use of Psalm 16:8-11 in Acts 2:25-28", notes that the scholar Walter Kaiser gave three background settings for Psalm 16:
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1) a severe sickness of David after he had finished the palace; 2) during David's stay at Ziklag among the Philistines when he might have been tempted to idol worship; 3) David's word under the influence of Nathan's prophecy (2 Samuel 7) about his future dynasty...

SOURCE: https://bible.org/article/use-psalm-168-11-acts-225-28
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #274 on: December 02, 2019, 04:22:21 AM »
Rakovsky my man,

What can you tell me about the origins of the Gospel of Thomas, the Acts of Thomas and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas?  My thought is the disciple of Mani who took the name Thomas wrote the latter, whereas the former two were the work of a Syrian Gnostic, perhaps Tatian or Severian.  Thoughts?

Also, what do you make of the Gospel of Philip, or what is left of it?

Council of Nicea:
Εθη ἀρχαῖα κρατείτω. 
Mores antiqui obtineant.
The ancient ways shall prevail.

The sentiment of Nicea in Greek and Latin, translated into English.

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #275 on: December 02, 2019, 01:49:05 PM »
Alpha,
The Gospel of Thomas' origins are curious, a mix of versions of NT quotations,  some nonbiblical quotes from Oral tradition that show up in the fathers, a few potentially Gnostic verses, and a few antignostic ones. The Acts of Thomas are a story about his travels, especially to India, and have some strange or fantastical parts, but not clearly gnostic. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas seems the same kind of thing- a seemingly nongnostic story with strange elements, except some parts seem to have Jesus sinning, making it heretical. Mani was born c. 216 AD, whereas the first two works were written before his time, I think. The Gospel of Philip is apparently a Gnostic text from 180-250 AD as this page on it says: http://earlychristianwritings.com/gospelphilip.html
Good luck with your forum support.
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #276 on: December 02, 2019, 10:46:23 PM »
JOSEPHUS' ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS: BOOK VII, DAVID

<<Could David's conflict with Absalom parallel in some way Christ's rejection by, or conflict with, the Jewish religious leadership, since David is seen as a Messianic prefigurement?>>
Yes. David crossing the Jordan could be a reference to Christ's crossing the barrier of death. The Jordan in the Pentateuch, by analogy, is used as a crossing point of the Israelites into the Promised Land. Achitophel's hanging suicide could have relation to Judas's death. Absalom's hair getting stuck in the tree could resemble the crown of thorns, and Joab's spears in Absalom could represent the nails and spear wounding Christ. The women hiding the messengers for David in the well could have a relation to the women seeing angels at Jesus' tomb. David's wish to have died in his son's place recalls the atoning theology in Christ's death. The article "Psalm 22 – The Messiah’s Mind" on The Lampstand website sees David's conflict with Absalom as paralleling Christ's Passion:
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From David fleeing in 2 Samuel 15:17, as “the King went forth” and “passed over the brook Kedron” we see the parallels to the path that Christ himself walked on the night he was betrayed (cp John 18:1). Compare:
   2 Sam 15:25-26 with Christ in the garden as he surrenders to the Father’s will (Luke 22:42)
   2 Sam 15:30,32 with Luke 22:39,44; Heb 5:7
   2 Sam 17:2 with Matt 21:38; 26:31
   2 Sam 17:23 with Matt 27:4-5
   2 Sam 19:15 with Zech 14:4
2 Samuel 19 mentions that the people had anointed Absalom, and this implies that they had rejected David during the conflict:
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Now all the people were in a dispute throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “The king saved us from the hand of our enemies, he delivered us from the hand of the Philistines, and now he has fled from the land because of Absalom. But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, has died in battle. Now therefore, why do you say nothing about bringing back the king?”
This prefigures the people's rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. One could note that in both cases, there were still Israelites loyal to David and to Jesus, respectively, but not enough to prevent the revolt against David or Jesus' condemnation.
   The Enduring Word commentary notes that later in verses 11-14, David swayed their hearts to have him come back. It quotes the verse "Why are you the last to bring the king back to his very house", noting that
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David would not force his reign on Israel. He would only come back if the tribes who rejected him for Absalom agreed to bring back the king. “David didn’t lift a finger to re-establish his authority… His return to sovereignty was decided by the voluntary submission of his kinsmen and by their loving obedience to his will.” (Redpath)
   The Enduring Word commentary also quotes the verse "So he swayed the hearts of all the men of Judah, just as the heart of one man", and comments:
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The efforts of Zadok and Abiathar succeeded. David would not come back until welcomed by the hearts of all, and that could not be forced – their hearts had to be swayed. God will not force His reign on us. We must welcome His reign and He will not force our heart response. Our hearts must be swayed by the work of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.
   In "David in the Gospels", Margaret M. Daly-Denton sees David's flight from Absalom as representing Jesus' time in Gethsemane in sorrow, among other parallels:
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Matthew’s detail that Judas went out and hanged himself (Matt 27:3–5) serves to cast him in the role of Ahithophel, David’s betrayer (2 Sam 17:23), thereby hinting at a parallel between David and Jesus. Luke makes a similar comparison by means of imprecatory passages from two “Psalms of David” spoken by Peter “against” Judas (Acts 1:18–20, quoting from Pss 69 and 109). The theme of betrayal by a confidant is common to the “passions” of both David and Jesus (2 Sam 15:31; 16:23; Matt 26:20–25 and parallels). Like Ahithophel who plots to take King David at night (2 Sam 17:1), Judas arranges for the arrest of Jesus by night (Mark 14:17, 30; Matt 26:31; Luke 22:53, 66). The announcement of the defection of the disciples and of Peter’s denial and their protestations of loyalty on the way to the Mount of Olives (Mark 14:29–31; Matt 26:30–35; Luke 22:33) is strongly evocative of 2 Sam 15. There, walking sorrowfully towards the Mount of Olives (2 Sam 15:30), aware of the defection of those close to him, David receives pledges of loyalty from faithful servants (2 Sam 15:15, 21). Like the David of 2 Sam 15:30–31, a distressed Jesus prays on the Mount of Olives. It is also possible that 2 Sam 17:1–2, where Absalom says, “I will come upon him while he is weary and discouraged...and all the people with him will flee,” may have influenced the shaping of the synoptic arrest scenes.
   The Fourth Gospel account of Jesus’ death begins with a recollection of David’s crossing of the Kidron on his departure from Jerusalem with his loyal followers at the time of Absalom’s conspiracy (1 Sam 15:23; John 18:1).4 A foreigner, Ittai the Gittite, says to David, “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the King lives, in whatever place my lord shall be, whether it be for death or life, there shall your servant be.” Echoes of this declaration of loyalty can, perhaps, be heard in John 12:26: “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also.” Earlier in John’s narrative, Caiaphas has given advice: “You do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish” (John 11:50). On comparison with 2 Sam 17:3 (“You need only seek the life of one man and all the people shall have peace”) Caiaphas sounds suspiciously “Ahithophelian.”

<<How would you resolve the potential confusion between 2 Samuel 14:27 and 2 Sam. 18:18 over whether Absalom had children?>>
   2 Samuel 14:27 says: "And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Tamar: she was a woman of a fair countenance." But later, 2 Samuel 18:18 says: "Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom's place."
   In Antiquities VII, Josephus takes the view that Absalom did have children:
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He [Absalom] dwelt, however, in Jerusalem two years and became the father of three sons and of one very beautiful daughter, whom Solomon's son Roboamos " married later and by whom he had a son named Abias.** [Absalom set up] a marble column, two stades distant from Jerusalem, which he named Absalom's Hand, saying that if his his children should perish, his name would remain in connexion with the column. He had, in fact, three sons and one daughter, named Thamara, as we have said before.
   THACKERAY'S FOOTNOTE:
   Josephus, in attributing to Absalom the fear that his children might die before him, disposes of the difficulty caused by the contradiction between 2 Sam. xiv. 27, referred to in § 190, and the present verse, 2 Sam. xviii. 18, which reads, " for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance." A rabbinic tradition has it that Absalom's sons died before him as a punishment for having set fire to Joab's field ; another tradition states that Absalom left sons "but they were so insignificant that Scripture speaks of them as though he died childless"...
   I would resolve the contradiction by suggesting that Absalom erected the pillar when he had no sons, and then later he had three sons. When 2 Samuel 18:18 says: "Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar", the words "in his lifetime" mean that the Biblical writer is not indicating when in Absalom's life he made the pillar, so this could have happened before his sons were born. Randy McCracken notes in his essay "How Many Sons Did Absalom Have?: Intentional Ambiguity as Literal Art":
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This could well mean that Absalom made this statement before he had any sons, especially since lifting an event from its chronological context is a common technique in the books of Samuel (e.g., 2 Sam. 4:4; 21:1–14)...
   A less likely option is that the sons died before he built the monument. This is unlikely because 2 Samuel 14:27 says that he had three sons, and it is unlikely that all three would have died before Absalom made his pillar. They could have been killed in Absalom's revolt, but the pillar was made before the defeat of his revolt. Plus, if the sons had died while Absalom was still alive and a contender for the throne, the Bible could have mentioned their deaths. eg. Absalom could have said in his announcement that he had no sons left to carry his name.
   Another, less likely explanation is that Absalom's words "I have no son to keep my name in remembrance" meant that he did not have any sons who bore his name, Absalom. This seems unlikely, because if Absalom meant that he did not have a son who bears his name, he would more likely have said "I have no son who has my name for remembrance", not "I have no son to keep my name in remembrance." Absalom did at some point have sons to whom he could have given the name "Absalom", so based on the phrase "I have no son to keep my name in remembrance", he must not have been speaking at the time when he had a son. This is because the son could have kept the name in remembrance either by bearing the father's name or by remembering it in prayers and other commemorations.

<<Does David's use of instruments suggest that it is proper to use instruments in singing the Psalms, or else in the course of liturgy?>>
Yes, in that the ancient Israelites played instruments while performing the Psalms in the Temple. Some Psalms include instructions for playing on instruments. For instance, Psalm 5 has a superscription saying "On Nehiloth" or "On a Wind Instrument." However, the synagogues in the First Century did not use musical instruments, and the method of using instruments ceased with the Temple's destruction. According to scholars, early Christians did not use instruments in their worship, either. A factor in the churches' lack of using instruments was likely the synagogues' similar lack, since Jewish Christians had been part of Jewish religious life in the First Century. The Church fathers generally wrote against using instruments.
   In "The Choir in Jewish History", Jonathan L. Friedmann writes:
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Following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E., the Rabbis abolished the sacrificial rite and its accompanying instrumental and vocal music. So, even as most other elements central to the Jewish tradition survived the destruction, the Levites refused to divulge their "trade secrets," and their musical culture was lost.(http://www.jewishmag.com/123mag/choir/choir.htm)
   Clement of Alexandria, in c. 190 AD rejected the use of musical instruments for accompanying religious music:
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Leave the pipe to the shepherd, the flute to the men who are in fear of gods and intent on their idol worshipping. Such musical instruments must be excluded from our wingless feasts, for they arc more suited for beasts and for the class of men that is least capable of reason than for men. The Spirit, to purify the divine liturgy from any such unrestrained revelry chants: 'Praise Him with sound of trumpet," for, in fact, at the sound of the trumpet the dead will rise again; praise Him with harp,' for the tongue is a harp of the Lord; 'and with the lute. praise Him.' understanding the mouth as a lute moved by the Spirit as the lute is by the plectrum; 'praise Him with timbal and choir,' that is, the Church awaiting the resurrection of the body in the flesh which is its echo; 'praise Him with strings and organ,' calling our bodies an organ and its sinews strings, for front them the body derives its Coordinated movement, and when touched by the Spirit, gives forth human sounds; 'praise Him on high-sounding cymbals,' which mean the tongue of the mouth which with the movement of the lips, produces words. Then to all mankind He calls out, 'Let every spirit praise the Lord,' because He rules over every spirit He has made. In reality, man is an instrument arc for peace, but these other things, if anyone concerns himself overmuch with them, become instruments of conflict, for inflame the passions. The Etruscans, for example, use the trumpet for war; the Arcadians, the horn; the Sicels, the flute; the Cretans, the lyre; the Lacedemonians, the pipe; the Thracians, the bugle; the Egyptians, the drum; and the Arabs, the cymbal. But as for us, we make use of one instrument alone: only the Word of peace by whom we a homage to God, no longer with ancient harp or trumpet or drum or flute which those trained for war employ. (Source: Clement of Alexandria, "The Instructor", Book II, Chapter IV)
And still, Clement of Alexandria did not perceive the use of certain musical instruments as inherently bad, provided that they didn’t bring to mind pagan feasts,
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And even if you wish to sing and play to the harp or lyre, there is no blame. You shall imitate the righteous Hebrew king in his thanksgiving to God” (Instructor 2:4).
   In The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Ritual, Rikard Roitto writes that in Justin Martyr's Address to the Greeks, Chapter 8, Justin
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explains that during the heavenly descent the Divine will use men as musical instruments such as the kithara and lyre, and through this instrumental usage, knowledge of the divine is revealed. This does not inherently suggest a negative attitude  towards instruments, as we find in later writings, but the sole use of metaphorical images of instruments may suggest a subtle hint to move away from their usage within the Christian assembly.
   G. I. Papadopoulos, in A Historical Survey of Byzantine Ecclesiastical Music, wrote:
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The execution of Byzantine church music by instruments, or even the accompaniment of sacred chanting by instruments, was ruled out by the Eastern Fathers as being incompatible with the pure, solemn, spiritual character of the religion of Christ. The Fathers of the church, in accordance with the example of psalmodizing of our Savior and the holy Apostles, established that only vocal music be used in the churches and severely forbade instrumental music as being secular and hedonic, and in general as evoking pleasure without spiritual value...
   After several centuries, musical instruments began to be introduced into Church music in Western Europe. "Organs seem to have been in common use in the Spanish churches in A.D. 450, according to Julianus, a Spanish bishop." (James Hastings, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. 9, p. 32) In "From Silence to Golden: The Slow Integration of Instruments into Christian Worship", Jonathan M. Lyons wrote that
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Around AD 670, Pope Vitalianus introduced an organ into a Roman Catholic Church in Rome, resulting in what many consider to be the first recorded example of instruments in Christian worship. 14 Another early example of the organ in worship comes from the eighth century. After King Pepin of France installed at his royal court the organ that he received as a gift from Byzantine Emperor Constantine V, his son, Charlemagne, had a replica of that organ built for the Cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle.

<<Are there modern recordings that reflect what the Psalms' melodies sounded like when accompanied by the instruments?>>
We do not know what were the original melodies used in Temple worship. However, there are recordings of modern performances of Psalms with instrumental accompaniment and Middle Eastern melodies that can give the listener an idea of what the Psalms would have sounded like in Temple worship:
This is a Playlist for Psalms 1-28 sung by Simon bar Moshe with stringed accompaniment:    ://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJMS6FXxmozjqsyBY7trz8GfAN2HXc0Id
   Psalm 30 (with accompaniment on strings, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6_OxeZRFs0)
The ones below might use post-Temple instruments like electronic keyboards, organs, or clarinets:
   Psalm 1 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=56&v=9pSe4xLNMmI)
   Psalm 3 with a Yemenite melody (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=47&v=wUoEqogBKgg
   Psalms 16, 32, 41, 42, 59, 77, 90, 105, 137. (Psalm 16 starts at 2:35, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXm2xajUt5k)
   Psalm 95 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=25&v=CKW53eBWKGw)
   Psalm 104, "traditional Jewish babylonian arrangement" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--UABwqW9Sg)
   Psalm 121 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=if7-qkhGY5I)
   Psalm 147 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHX1yFIaV_4)

<<Why was David's census-taking sinful or deserving of punishment?>>
The punishment of a plague shows that David must have failed to take a tithe for his census, since Exodus 30:12 commands the Israelites: "When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them."
   In Book VII, Josephus suggests that David's census was sinful in forgetting to tithe the people for the census:
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Then King David, desiring to know how many tens of thousands there were of the people, forgot the injunctions of Moses who had prescribed that, when the populace was numbered, half a shekel should be paid to God for every person; and he ordered Joab, his commander, to go out and take a census of the entire population. And, though Joab told him that there was no need to do this, he did not listen to him, but ordered him to proceed without delay to the numbering of the Hebrews.
   THACKERAY'S FOOTNOTE:
   Cf. Ex. XXX. 12 f. This explanation of David's sin in numbering the people is also found in rabbinic tradition.
   Moreover, the Biblical account doesn't specify that God (in His anger) or Satan incited David to fail to pay the shekels, only that God (in His anger) or Satan incited David to take the census itself. Likewise, when the Bible says that the census failed to include the Levites and Benjamin, the Bible explains this by saying that Joab failed to number them because the king's order was abominable to Joab, not that Joab disobeyed because the failure to pay the shekels was wrong. (1 Chronicles 21:6: "But Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them: for the king's word was abominable to Joab.") This suggests that the order to take the census itself was mistaken, although the verse in Exodus means that had David arranged for a census tax that the plague wouldn't have occurred.
   The basic reason why the census was troubling appears to be that David's performance of the census implied that David owned the people whom he counted, whereas in fact the people belonged to God. This is because Exodus 30's requirement of "a ransom for his soul unto the Lord" implies that the people belonged to God and that David was taking possession of them, similar to one person paying a "ransom" to take possession of another person. Joab's objection to David's order also suggests that one problem with the order was that the people belonged to God, not to David. In 1 Chronicles 21, Joab objects: "May the Lord multiply his troops a hundred times over. My lord the king, are they not all my lord's subjects? Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?"
   Another way in which David's order was troubling was that he commanded including the Levites in the census. Numbers 1:49 says: “Only the tribe of Levi you shall not list, and you shall not take a census of them among the people of Israel. 1 Chronicles 21 records that Joab did not take a census of Levi, in diobedience to David's order.
   On Christianity StackExchange, Mason Wheeler noted that in Luke's gospel the census was used for taxation in the 1st century. Wheeler also pointed to 1 Samuel 8, in which Samuel, as instructed by God, warned against appointing a king to rule the Israelites because of how the king would assign his citizens duties like an autocrat:
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11. This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
   12. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
   13. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
   14. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
   15. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
   16. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
   17. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
   18. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.
   So making a census would be bad for the Israelites because it would be one of the steps in this process of autocracy that God warned about. David charged the commanders of his army with carrying out the census and before finishing the census, they returned with the number of Israelites surveyed who "drew the sword", ie. those prepared to fight (2 Samuel 24.9; 1 Chronicles 21.5). This suggests that David was taking the census particularly for military purposes, like using his forces' strength to decide whether to engage in battles. So David was aiming at relying on his own forces, rather than on God, whom the Bible doesn't record as being consulted in prayer for the census. ie. David was going to take God's people and consider using them for his own military aims and decisions.
   So David's clearest fault with the census taking was that he failed to collect the ransom required. But the Bible also gives a sense that he was acting harmfully in counting the people for making military preparations according to his own purposes.

<<Does the Temple location's former status as a threshing floor hold a mystical or spiritual meaning?>>
Yes, it holds a spiritual meaning, especially in that threshing in ancient Israelite culture represented judgment, like separating wheat from chaff. This spiritual meaning is also mystical (in the sense of an inner, mysterious, non-explicit meaning), because the Bible never openly explains that the Temple's location of a threashing floor has spiritual significance of judgment. In the story of David's choice of location for the Temple, God agreed to stop the pestilence that served as punishment for David's census and He commanded David to make a sacrifice at Araunah the Jebusite's threshing floor in Jerusalem. Araunah has his equipment, threshing floor, oxen and plough sacrificed there. This location became the Temple Mount, as Josephus records in Book VII:
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Then, when David saw that God had hearkened to his prayer and had accepted the sacrifice with favour, he resolved to call that entire place the altar of all the people, and to build a temple to God... he came close to foretelling what was later to happen, for God sent a prophet to say that in this place a temple would be built by the son who was destined to succeed him on the throne.
A key Biblical verse identifying the threshing floor with the Temple site is 2 Chronicles 3:1: "Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite."
   Regarding the association between the Temple and judgment, it's noteworthy that the Yom Kippur/ Day of Atonement sacrifice was a key Temple ritual involving placing the blood of a sacrificed goat onto the Ark of the Covenant, which held the Ten Commandments. The blood on the altar in the Temple, which was built over the threshing floor, covered the guilt of the people's sins so that they were not punished.
   David, who chose the threshing floor for the Temple's location, compared the righteous to a tree and the wicked to chaff, writing in Psalm 1:
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He [ie. the righteous] will be like a planted tree over streams of water, producing its fruit during its season. Its leaf never droops—but in all he does, he succeeds.
The wicked are not so. For they are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand during the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
   In Isaiah 21:10, God's people are compared to threshed grain: "Oh, my threshing and the grain of my floor! That which I have heard from the LORD of hosts, The God of Israel, I have declared to you." The Pulpit Commentary theorizes about this verse in Isaiah:
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Her chastisements have long been 'threshing' Israel, separating the grain from the chaff, and will do so still more as time goes on. The prophet's message is for the comfort of those who shall have gone through the process and become the true "children of the threshing-floor" - pure wheat, fit to be gathered into the garner of God (Matthew 3:12).
Biblehub's word study for the word "threshing" used in Isaiah 21 says that the Hebrew root word is "dush", meaning to tread or thresh. So the verse in Isaiah refers to the people as trodden upon, and as the Lord's "grain" or beneficial produce.
   Two more meanings derived from the threshing floor are that the Temple provides spiritual food, comparable to threshed grain, and that the Temple is a place for a symbolic spiritual marriage between God and His people. Karen Holland writes in "The Threshing Floor: A Place of Worship?":
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Threshing and winnowing are common metaphors for judgement (Dan 2:35; Isa 21:10; Jer 15:7, 51:2, 33; Hos 13:3; Mt 3:11-12; Lk 3:17). The threshing floor is a place where good is separated from bad, true from false. The sheaves are beaten or crushed in order to make this separation. ...while the threshing floor is a place of judgement and testing, it is also a place to receive blessing. It is a place where the grain of the harvest is actually taken from the sheaves. As such, it is a place where the blessing is received. The Bible refers to “the increase of the threshing floor” (Num 18:30) and to a time when “the floors shall be full of wheat” (Joel 2:24). Like the threshing floor, the temple is also meant to be a place of blessing for God’s people. It’s out of this blessing received from the threshing floor that an offering to the Lord is to be made (Num 15:20, 18:27). This links the threshing floor to worship. The threshing floor as a place of receiving blessing, offering and worship fits perfectly with the temple! The judging, testing, and separation processes can be viewed as preparation for this worship. ...
   Ruth also washed and anointed herself; then put on her best clothes before going to meet Boaz (Ruth 3:3). Is it a coincidence that Ruth in the time of the barley harvest went to the threshing floor to meet Boaz? Boaz represents Christ (our kinsman redeemer) and Ruth, the Bride of Christ, the church. This expands the meaning of the threshing floor even further as a place where the Bride and Bridegroom meet and recognize one another. The “grinding of grain” can be seen as a depiction of the act of marriage (Job 31:10). Along the same lines, the image of the threshing floor is used when God’s people are not faithful. God calls it “adultery” or “playing the harlot” (Ezek 23:37, Hos 4:12). Notice what God says to Israel in Hosea 9:1 – “You have loved harlots earnings on every threshing floor”.
   Dinah Dye, in her article "Understanding Temple Idioms: The Threshing Floor", compares the threshing floor of the Temple with the concept of food for gods in other Ancient Near East (ANE) nations, and she also sees it as symbolizing marriage:
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The ziggurat [in other ANE cultures], which enabled the god to descend from heaven to his second home on earth, was an altar where food from the garden was cooked and offered back to him. Sacrifices, therefore, played a major role in providing sustenance for the god and his entire household. The Temple in Jerusalem and its environs was structured in a similar fashion. The garden, described as a field, was for growing grain; the ziggurat was the altar or threshing floor for separating the grain from the stalks; and the Temple was the granary/storehouse for storing the seed grain for food consumption.
   Here the grain seed was stored in order to bring fruitfulness to the whole world. In reality, the Ark of the Covenant rested on the Foundation Stone inside the Holy of Holies, where it served as God’s earthly throne. Attached to the house/temple was a sacred garden where seed grain was planted, cultivated, and harvested as food for the entire household. The Garden of Eden functioned in much the same way. Adam, the gardener, also served as a priest and worked the garden to harvest food for his family and provide offerings for his God. The Hebrew word for garden is gan (!g). When the letter resh (r) is added to the word gan, it becomes goren (!rg), which is a threshing floor. Goren can also mean the first place for the gathering of seed. The garden was “the field,” which according to the sages was a term related to the Temple complex...
   The “grinding of grain” alluded to the act of marriage, which brings to mind the story of Ruth and Boaz and their unusual encounter. Spreading the corner of Boaz’s robe over Ruth as she lay at his feet on the threshing floor was symbolic of an ANE proposal ritual (Ruth 3:9). The covering indicated Ruth’s submission to Boaz as the bride and his responsibility to protect her from an enemy who would seek to steal and destroy the grain seed. ...Israel is holy to Adonai, the first (reisheet) of His crop (Jer. 2:3). The first fruit (reisheet) of the wheat harvest was offered at Shavuot (Feast of Weeks or Pentecost) when the Temple was standing.
   The concept of holiness in Judaism could be related to the idea of separating out grain from stalks. The Hebrew word "Qadash" means consecrated or set apart, and "Qodesh" means apartness, sacredness.
   The idea of the Church/Ekklesia as a bride is a NT concept (wherein the husband is Christ-God), but the concept also shows up in the TaNaKh like when Hosea sees his wife as a figure for Israel. It also shows up in Jeremiah 31, where God says of Israel's fathers with whom He made a covenant when He brought them from Egypt, "I was a husband to them".
   Don Walker notices the themes of grain production, offering, and marriage in the image of the threshing floor and connects them with the Temple in his essay "Worship and the Threshing Floor":
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The first mention of a threshing floor is found in Genesis 50:10-11, “the threshing floor of Atad”, where Joseph and his brothers mourned the death of their father, Israel... The next reference we have to the threshing floor is in regards to the “heave offering” in Numbers 15:20. It speaks of the “offering of the the threshing floor”. We see a similar reference in Numbers 18:27... Let us consider what the threshing floor represents in the Scriptures. Its meaning goes beyond merely “the place where grain was threshed”. It is symbolic of the relationship between the Bride and the Bridegroom. It is not insigificant that Ruth came to Boaz at the “threshing floor” (Ruth 3:6-14). Boaz represents Christ (our kinsman redeemer) and Ruth, the Bride of Christ.
   At the center of the threshing floor, one finds two large flat stones, one resting on the top of the other. They were “fitted and joined” together. The top stone was known as the “female” and the bottom stone the “male”. The “grinding of grain” was a depiction of the act of marriage (Job 31:10).
   The act of marriage is a physical depiction of the “spiritual communion” God desires between Himself and Man. When God’s covenant people stray from Him and worship other gods, God calls it “adultery” or “playing the harlot” (Ezek. 23:37, Hosea 4:12). Notice what God says to Israel in Hosea 9:1, “You have loved harlots earnings on every threshing floor”.
   Victoria Radin, in her article "The Threshing Floor", gives a theory that the worship at the Temple is connected to judgment also:
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The altar was a place of sacrifice and worship. The threshing floor, on the other hand, was the place where the harvest was prepared for usefulness, the place where the harvested grain, corn, and spices were subjected to the violence of the sledge, the grinding wheel, or vigorous shaking. It was usually built on heights or in open fields to insure the help of the wind in the winnowing process. As the place of separating the good from the bad, the threshing floor and its threshing and winnowing process became a metaphor for judgment (e.g. Isaiah 21:10, Jeremiah 15:7, 51:33, Daniel 2:35, Matt. 3:12). So how do we reconcile the idea that the threshing floor is also a place of worship and in one case, even a place of mourning before God (Genesis 50:10-11)?
   The unmistakable message of the 2 Samuel 24 story is that worshiping God not only involves love and passion, but also sacrifice and judgment in its violence against sin. In other words, in worship we are stepping onto “the threshing floor” where our “wheat and chaff” are threshed by the Lord while a holy wind (the Holy Spirit) does the winnowing by blowing away the chaff from our lives. In the midst of our worship, we mourn before the Lord for having held onto any worldly ways and we praise the Lord for removing the things that impede our spiritual relationship with Him.

<<How common was the idea in ancient Judaism that after death, "no one can ever return to learn what is happening among the living"?>>
The quotation in the main question above is from Book VII, where Josephus has David say to Solomon before dying:
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I am now, my son, going to my destiny and must depart to my fathers and travel the common road of all men now alive or yet to be, from which no one can ever return to learn what is happening among the living.
   In fact, Josephus was paraphrasing David's words from two Biblical passages, and doing so in a way that could be misleading in suggesting that David didn't believe in an Afterlife. Thackeray's translation of this section in Josephus' Antiquities cites 1 Kings 2:1, says:
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1. Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, 2. I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man... 10. So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.
   David says that he goes the way of all the earth, but this does not necessarily mean that his soul won't go to God. His statement recalls the beginning of Genesis, when God tells Adam that he is from the dust and that he will return to it. It is true that Adam is from the dust, but his soul and spirit came from God, so it makes sense that Adam would return to God. Plus, 1 Kings 2 says that David "slept" with his fathers, which does not necessarily mean that his soul was annihilated, as sleep is distinguishable from death.
   The other passage that Josephus took his quotation from is 2 Samuel 12:23, where David refers to the death of his son:
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22. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? 23. But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
There, David was asserting that his child won't actively return from the dead to him on earth, but he was not necessarily denying that anyone could return to life on earth after dying. In fact, the statement that David will go to his dead son could imply that he will see his son again in the afterlife.
   The preacher in Ecclesiastes postulates this kind of idea that none of the deceased can come back, although the book ultimately appears to reject this thesis. In Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, the person asks rhetorically: "Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?" It sounds like the person is asking polemically what happens to the spirit in the afterlife. The book could be like the "back and forth" of a Socratic dialogue. Later, in Chapter 9, the preacher claims that the dead know nothing and don't get any reward:
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...the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.  Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.
   Yet the preacher ends his talk by making a statement in Chapter 12 that implies that there is an afterlife:
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7. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. 8. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.
Then in Chapter 12, the voice switches back to the narrator who introduced the preacher in Chapter 1. The narrator weighs in with his own judgment:
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13. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
This conclusion goes against the sense of alot of the content of what thee preacher was preaching in the body of the text, so it makes me think that the narrator's point was really about God's judgment, and that it isn't true that everyone really gets the same level of rewards (nothingness). The preacher in the story was preaching sarcastically or making different hypotheses about everything being vain, which is true in some sense in that the world will eventually end, and about there being no knowledge after death, but these hypotheses are also refuted at the end of the book with the preacher saying that our souls go back to God and the narrator saying that God will judge everything.
   The Sadducee sect of the first centuries BC-AD rejected belief in an afterlife, so some ancient Jews shared their view on the question.
   Nonetheless, Biblical stories like Elijah raising a youth show ancient Israelites believed that a person could return in a way that he/she could learn what is happening among the living. Another such story was that of the deceased prophet Samuel learning of King Saul's fate when the witch of Endor called up Samuel's spirit.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2019, 10:47:46 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #277 on: December 04, 2019, 04:45:31 PM »
JOSEPHUS' ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS: BOOKS VII-VIII, Solomon

<<Did Solomon desecrate the Temple's altar by killing Joab there?>>
Yes. When Solomon kills his own brother Adonias, Joab runs to the Temple for protection and grabs the altar for protection. Solomon orders him to the court, but Joab refuses, saying he would prefer to die there at the temple, so Solomon has him killed there. 1 Kings 2 says:
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Then tidings came to Joab: for Joab had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom. And Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD, and caught hold on the horns of the altar. ... And Benaiah came to the tabernacle of the LORD, and said unto him, Thus saith the king, Come forth. And he said, Nay; but I will die here. And Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me. And the king said unto him, Do as he hath said, and fall upon him, and bury him; that thou mayest take away the innocent blood, which Joab shed, from me, and from the house of my father.
   Solomon's order to kill Joab at the altar instead of dragging him away violated Exodus 21:14, which instructs that "if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor to slay him with guile, thou shalt take him from mine altar that he die". The Pulpit Commentary theorizes that "Possibly the desperate character of Joab made literal compliance with this command well nigh impossible." However, even if Joab was strong and dangerous, Solomon's soldiers could have waited until he gave up through exhaustion to remove him.
   Further, the Torah entailed that a person or object that makes contact with a corpse becomes ritually unclean. Numbers 19:11,14,22 says:
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Whoever touches any dead body will be unclean for seven days. ... This is the law when a person dies in a tent: Everyone who enters the tent and everyone already in the tent will be unclean for seven days... Numbers 19:22 says: "Anything that an unclean person touches becomes unclean, and anyone who touches it becomes unclean till evening.” Even Moses' soldiers had to intensely purify themselves after the battles that the Lord had commanded. So even if the killing of Joab was justified, the killing at the altar would still desecrate the altar.
   Jung Ju Kang, in his essay "The Persuasive Portrayal of Solomon in 1 Kings 1-11 and the Josianic Redaction Theory", theorizes that there is tension in the narrative in 1 Kings because of the risk of desecrating the sanctury by killing Joab. He writes:
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Benaiah hesitates to kill Joab at the altar, and requests Joab to come out from the altar, instead of carrying out Solomon's command. However, Joab replies,. `No! but here I will die' (v. 30). Benaiah reports back to Solomon with what Joab has said. Thus, Solomon faces a problem choosing between public violation of the right of sanctuary and some sort of amnesty. In this dilemma, Solomon repeats his original command and the reasons for the necessity of Joab's execution (vv. 31-32). These reasons are the bloodguilt of Joab and the innocence of the house of David. Solomon describes Joab's murders as being `bloodguilt without cause', that is, a deliberate manslaughter, whose perpetrator could be forcibly removed from the altar and put to death (Exod 21: 12-14). Finally, Benaiah strikes Joab down, defiling the sanctuary.
Kang continues:
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The narrator shows a contradiction in Solomon's instructions for the desecration of the sanctuary of YHWH and the murder of Joab there. In order to remove the guilt of innocent blood, Solomon is guilty of breaking the law. Regarding this point, Provan has argued that
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in ordering his execution beside the altar, Solomon himself is guilty of breaking the law. Exodus 21: 12-14 quite clearly states that a murderer is to be taken away from the altar and put to death, and Benaiah certainly seems to be aware of this... Solomon's willingness to ignore the letter of -the law when it suits him only throws into sharper relief his vindictive treatment of Shimei in [1 Kings] 2:36ff, where the letter of the law is crucial.
   Further, as Nelson observed, there is another irreducible inner tension. Does Joab die because of his past crimes, as David and Solomon accused him (vv. 5,31-33), or because of his support of Adonijah, as the narrator and Joab argued (v. 28)? This tension and contradiction cause the reader to be suspicious about Solomon's motive. This suspicion can be identified by placing this episode in its larger context. First, there are sufficient reasons for Joab to kill Abner and Amasa. Joab argues that Abner has a hidden motive in his visit to David (2 Sam 3: 24-25) and he realises Amasa's suspicious behaviour in 2 Sam 20: 4-5. In this larger context, the reader may realise that David and Solomon accuse Joab for private reasons: that is, Joab's killing of Absalom and the subsequent humiliation of David (2 Sam 18: 33-19: 8), and Joab's support for Adonijah (1 Kgs 2: 28).
   Wesselius has also argued that the narrator indicates these private motives through the form and context of the statement of David and Solomon. For example, David's charge to Solomon in 1 Kgs 2: 1-9 is focused on the fate of three men, Joab, Barzillai and Shimei, who had been involved in Absalom's revolt. On the other hand, Solomon dealt with Adonijah, his partisans (Abiathar, Joab), and Shimei. According to their attitudes toward David and Solomon, Barzillai and Abiathar were rewarded or spared, while the others suffered a death-sentence. The narrator intends to point out in this way that David and Solomon had their own private reasons to want Joab dead. In the view of the narrator, Joab is not punished on the basis of the morally debatable accusations of the murder of Abner and Amasa, but mainly because of his belonging to Adonijah's party.
   Kang is referring to Joab's justifications for killing Abner in 2 Samuel 3:6-10, 24-27. In those verses, Abner was Saul's ally, but then switched to David's side because he wanted Saul's concubine Rizpah. Abner went to David and David sent Abner to get allies for David, and when he was away, Joab came and decided to catch Abner on the charge that he was deceiving David. Kang's thesis is that the narrator is portraying Solomon as murdering his political opponents to secure power that he already controlled.
   Kang's argument that Solomon's motives are doubtful is persuasive for me, although I am also skeptical of Kang's claim that Joab had sufficient reason to kill Abner, since David had agreed with Abner's proposition to send him (Abner) away. However, even if Joab's killing was justified, the altar was still desecrated according to Numbers 19.

<<Did the Temple have an upper level or a second story, and if so, what was there?>>
Yes, it had three levels, but we have no information on the contents of the upper floors, other than that they were accissible by stairs, had gold walls, and had trapdoors for repair workers to enter down into the Holy of Holies from the Second Floor.
   In Book VIII, Josephus referred to the stairs, writing:
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And the king contrived a stairway to the upper story through the thickness of the wall, for it had no great door on the east as the lower building had, but it had entrances through very small doors on the sides.
   The Jewish Encyclopedia's entry on Herod's Temple comments about the Second Temple's upper side chambers:
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The Temple building had an upper story similar in size to the lower ("B. J." v. 5, § 5). Side-structures, as in Solomon's Temple, afforded space for three stories of chambers on the north, south, and west sides of the Temple. These chambers were connected by doors; and trapdoors afforded communication from those of one story to those of the story immediately above or below.
   "Aliyah" in Hebrew literally means an "Ascent", but it also can mean a "roof chamber", a loft, or a second-story chamber. 1 Chronicles 28 uses the term "wa-‘ă-lî-yō-ṯāw" ("and its upper chambers"), when it says about the designs for the Temple:
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11. Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlours thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat, 12. And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit, of the courts of the house of the Lord, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things...
   2 Chronicles 3 refers to the gold in the upper chambers:
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8. And he made the most holy house, the length whereof was according to the breadth of the house, twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits: and he overlaid it with fine gold, amounting to six hundred talents. 9. And the weight of the nails was fifty shekels of gold. And he overlaid the upper chambers with gold.
   There were three floors, starting with a bottom one, based on 2 Kings 6:
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5. Against the walls of the temple and the inner sanctuary, Solomon built a chambered structure around the temple, in which he constructed the side rooms. 6. The bottom floor was five cubits wide, the middle floor six cubits, and the third floor seven cubits. He also placed offset ledges all around the outside of the temple, so that nothing would be inserted into its walls. 7. The temple was constructed using finished stones cut at the quarry, so that no hammer, chisel, or any iron tool was heard in the temple while it was being built. 8. The entrance to the bottom [literally: the middle, hat-tî-ḵō-nāh,] floor was on the south side of the temple. A stairway led up to the middle level, and from there to the third floor. 9. So Solomon built the temple and finished it, roofing it with beams and planks of cedar.
   A close reading of Josephus' Book VIII of the Antiquities shows that he was saying that the main sanctuary area was 60 cubits tall but that there was a second story on top of it so that the whole building stood 120 cubits:
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They erected its entire body, quite up to the roof, of white stone; its height was sixty cubits, and its length was the same, and its breadth twenty. There was another building erected over it, equal to it in its measures; so that the entire altitude of the temple was a hundred and twenty cubits. Its front was to the east. As to the porch, they built it before the temple; its length was twenty cubits, and it was so ordered that it might agree with the breadth of the house; and it had twelve cubits in latitude, and its height was raised as high as a hundred and twenty cubits.
   The rabbinical text Massecheth Middot 4:5 describes the maintenance workrs using the trapdoors to enter the Holy of Holies:
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And a winding-stair 34 went up from the north-eastern angle to the north-western angle, by which they went up to the roofs of the chambers. One went up the winding [[inclined]]-stair with his face to the west, and went all along the north side, until he came to the west. He came to the west, and turned his face to the south, and went all along the west side till he came to the south. He came to the south, and turned his face eastwards, and went along the south side, till he came to the entrance of the Alijah; for the entrance to the Alijah opened to the south, and in the entrance to the Alijah were two beams of cedar, by which they went up to the roof of the Alijah, and the heads of the beams divided in the Alijah between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. And trap doors opened in the Alijah into the Most Holy Place, by which they let down the workmen in chests, that they might not feast their eyes in the Most Holy Place.
In his book The Temples of the Jews and the Other Buildings in the Haram Area at Jerusalem, James Fergusson says that the question of what was in the Alijah of the Temple has been a neglected question and that it hasn't been answered by scholars.
   In ancient Israel, the Temple building was generally reserved for the use of priests. The Jewish Encyclopedia's article on Temple Administration says:
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The priests' hall was reserved for the priests and Levites; occasionally, however, men and women presenting sin-offerings, sacrifices on which they were required to place the hands ("semikah"), made use of it. At the festivals, to accommodate the large crowds, all Israelites were permitted to enter the priests' hall, on which occasion the curtain of the vestibule was raised to show the people the interior of the "Hekal". [The Hekal being the Temple]
   As the Encyclopedia's entry states, men and women who were not priests were allowed into the Temple to wave their offerings. So there are theories, based in part on the story of the presentation of the Virgin Mary in the Infancy Gospel of James, about non-priests at times entered the Temple. Those who entered the Temple building could have included male and female ascetics like the Nazirites, as well as women the who wove the cloth for the Temple's use.

<<In addition to the Ten Commandments, did the Ark also hold Aaron's rod that had budded or the manna from the desert?>>
Yes, at the time of Moses it did. But in Solomon's era it apparently no longer held Aaron's rod or the manna. Exodus 16 says:
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33. And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for your generations. 34. As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.
Saying that it was "laid up before" the Testimony "to be kept" suggests that the item was laid in the Ark together with the tablets for safekeeping. The Hebrew word for "before" in "before the Testimony" is "lipne" (לִפְנֵ֥י), and this word shows up in Exodus 30:6, which describes the altar as "before" the mercy seat that is over the Testimony: "And thou shalt put it before (lipne) the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before (lipne) the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee." Since Exodus 16 says that the manna was before the Testimony, rather than before the mercy seat that was over the Testimony like the altar was, it suggests that the manna was in the Ark with the Testimony. Similarly, Numbers 17:10 says about Aaron's rod:
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The LORD said to Moses, "Put Aaron's staff back in front of the Testimony, to be kept as a sign for the rebellious, so that you may put an end to their grumbling against Me, lest they die."
When in Hebrews 9 Paul writes about Moses' time when “a tabernacle was prepared”, he noted that, "Inside the ark were the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant."
   Referring to the time of Solomon's reign, 1 Kings 8:9 says: "There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the LORD had made a covenant with the Israelites after they had come out of the land of Egypt." 2 Chronicles 5:10 says similarly of this time: "There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the LORD had made a covenant with the Israelites after they had come out of Egypt." Josephus was referring to the era of King Solomon when he wrote in Book VIII: "And the ark held nothing but the two stone tablets which preserved the ten commandments spoken by God to Moses on Mount Sinai inscribed upon them."
   GotQuestions.org gives two possible answers for why the manna and rod weren't in the ark in Solomon's time:
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One is that the ark in Moses’ time contained all three items mentioned in Hebrews but, by Solomon’s time hundreds of years later, only the stone tablets remained. The other items could have been removed in Eli’s time by the men of Beth Shemesh when “they looked into the ark of the Lord” (1 Samuel 6:19). Before that, the ark was in the possession of the Philistines for a time, and they could have removed some of the ark’s contents. It could also be that Solomon himself had the manna and the staff removed from the ark and set nearby in the same room at the time of the temple’s dedication.
   Another possibility is that the bowl of manna and Aaron’s staff were not usually inside the ark of the covenant, but rather beside it. God’s command in Exodus 16:33 was for Moses to place the manna “before the LORD” (ESV) or “in a sacred place before the LORD” (NLT)... So, the manna and the staff were kept in the same place as the tablets of stone, but it’s possible they were not, strictly speaking, inside the ark. (https://www.gotquestions.org/inside-the-ark-of-the-covenant.html)
However, the second option is unlikely because the items must have been in the Ark for the reasons that I discussed above.

<<Is there a connection between the number of talents of gold brought to Solomon for the Temple's construction (666) being the same as the number of the beast or AntiChrist in Revelation? Maybe there is some underlying meaning in the number 666 that is shared between the two usages?>>
Yes, there is certainly a connection between the use of 666 in the amount of gold coming annually for the Temple and in the number of the beast, because Revelation repeats images and motifs from the Old Testament. For instance, the commander Magog at Armageddon being a commander in the apocalyptic battle in the Book of Ezekiel. The underlying meaning seems to be something like a deification of man or of his earthly riches.
   In describing the building of the Temple, Josephus says: "The weight of the gold that was brought him [to Solomon] was six hundred and sixty-six talents, not including what was brought by the merchants or the gifts which the governors and the kings of Arabia sent to him."(Book VIII)
   Similarly, 1 Kings 10 says:
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14. Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold, 15. Beside that he had of the merchantmen, and of the traffick of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country.
   Revelation 13:17-18 says, "And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of ["a"?] man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six."
   The use of 666 in both stories appears connected because whereas Solomon received 666 gold talents annually, Revelation 13 predicted that in order to buy or sell, a person would need to have the number of the beast's name, 666. Both stories deal with commerce, the number 666, and a ruler's immoral earthly power.
   The arrival of 666 talents was part of Solomon's earthly immoral power. Deuteronomy 17 bans kings from multiplying their gold, which Solomon did by getting the same amount each year. JTaum on Hermeneutics Stack Exchange observed:
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If we look back at the law for kings in Deuteronomy 17, It prohibits the king from multiplying horses and chariots, wives, and wealth. This is exactly what Solomon is doing in 1 Kings 10-11. Chapter ten begins by commending his great wisdom, but then steps through his decline - that is, he begins violating the rules for kings by multiplying gold (666 talents a year), multiplying horses and chariots, and finally multiplying wives who turn his heart away from following YHWH. He sets up centers of false worship for all the foreign gods of his wives. So, the number 666 is associated with Solomon in his fall, his abuse of power, and his turning away from true worship of YHWH.
   Julian Farrington theorized on the Quora website:
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The link with Solomon, I believe is that Solomon was accounted as the wisest man on Earth, yet Jesus said ‘the Queen of Sheba traveled from the uttermost part of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and yet ONE GREATER than Solomon is here”. It’s in the same passage that Jesus was referring to the Queen of Sheba’s travels [1 Kings 10], that we learn Solomon was paid 666 talents of Gold in a year. It’s pretty likely that some of that would have come from Sheba for hearing his wisdom. Jesus also said that ‘The flowers of the field don’t work for money or make their own clothes, but that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these”.
   Solomon has wisdom, but he ended up using his wisdom to make money, and that (according to Jesus) is NOT wisdom. Jesus taught that we should not work for money, but work for God (Matthew 6:24), and if we do this, God will feed and clothes us (Matthew 6:25–34). The mark of the beast relates directly to this, we’re either going to work for God, and live by faith, or we’re going to (as Solomon did), place our faith in money, and take the mark.
   As for the shared underlying meaning, one explanation could be that 666 is the numerological name for the Antichrist, eg. the emperor Nero, and Solomon's receipt of 666 gold talents served as a prefigurement because Solomon's multiplied earthly power prefigured the AntiChrist's. The Youtube video, "666 - Numberphile" notes that in Greek, the instructions in Revelation 1 say that the reader should "calculate" the number of the beast, which is 666. Counting names in Hebrew is Gematria, and in Greek it is called Isosophy. The video presenter writes out Nero Caesar in Hebrew. Nero in Hebrew is Neron, and the letter N in Hebrew Gematria has the value of N. The video notes that Nero Caesar without the n at the end of Neron comes out to 616 in Gematria, and it notes that in some early manuscripts of Revelation, the number of the beast is 616, so the editor must have recognized that the basic name was Nero's and he was using a different way for writing Nero's name with Hebrew letters.
   Noam D. Elkies, in his article "The Numerology of the Beast," says:
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Nero Caesar in Hebrew is NeRON QeiSaR; adding up the letters we get 'the number of the man', 666. ...  It made sense for an early Christian to represent Nero, and the pagan and powerful Empire that Nero stood for, as the Beast. It also made sense to use the code of gematria. If you write plainly that Nero and Rome are doing the Devil's work, then you're an enemy combatant [in the eyes of Rome], and the Roman legal code had no Bill of Rights. ... But the really suggestive hint is that the oldest manuscripts don't agree on the number: some have 616 instead. It's much harder to concoct an explanation that fits both numbers, and only one of the proposed interpretations of the Number of the Beast accounts for both: Nero. Remember it was NeRON QeiSaR in Hebrew. But the final N of NeRON is optional: the name can also be rendered NeRO, subtracting the letter N [Nun] and its value of 50 to get -- 616. (http://www.math.harvard.edu/~elkies/mp666.html)
Wikipedia explains:
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Nron Qsr
   The Greek version of the name and title transliterates into Hebrew as נרון קסר‎, and yields a numerical value of 666,[39] as shown:
   Resh (ר) Samekh (ס) Qoph (ק) Nun (נ) Vav (ו) Resh (ר) Nun (נ) Sum ______   200 60 100 50 6 200 50 666

   Nro Qsr
   The Latin version of the name drops the second Nun (נ), so that it appears as Nro and transliterates into Hebrew as נרו קסר, yielding 616
David Chilton writes in "Days of Vengeance": "The form Neron Kesar (1) is the linguistically "correct" Hebrew form, (2) is the form found in the Talmud and other rabbinical writings, and (3) was used by Hebrews in the first century, as archaeological evidence has shown."
   Evert Jan Hempenius notes in his outline, "Revelation 13:11-18 -Who is afraid of the number 666? Be wise!" how the beast or AntiChrist would set himself up as divine:
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▪ The first beast wore blasphemous names, like “god,” “lord,” and “saviour.” It is about a man who wants to be like god, to be God himself. It is the root of all sins that man wants to be like god.
   ▪ When we look back at the first encounter with the serpent and dragon in Genesis 3, we read: “The serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:5).
   Read also 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4: “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.”
   (https://www.academia.edu/37365531/Revelation_13_11-18_-Who_is_afraid_of_the_number_666_Be_wise)

   Another explanation for the shared underlying meaning is that 6 is a number for man, and 666 triples the number, and since God is a Trinity, tripling man's number would be vastly growing the number in a way that would be like deifying man in an arrogant way. Scott Pauline, on the Catholic 365 website theorizes:
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A mystical way to look at this symbolism is to reverse the relationship between God and man. We see this by first recalling that 7 is the number of perfection and so, in one sense, of God. It follows that 6 is a symbol of imperfection and therefore of man, who falls very short of God. But then, just as God is three Divine Persons in one Nature, so three 6’s in one number symbolizes man [6] making himself as God [three in one]. Consequently, whereas GOD made man in GOD'S Image and Likeness, the flip side is that, through the evil number above, MAN makes God in MAN'S image. [A] severe form in the nature of man making God into his image is the blasphemous tendency of humanity to even deify themselves, presuming utter independence from God, the makers of their own destiny and fulfillment, and the final arbiter of truth.
666 written in Greek per the Greek method of writing numbers is in three digits: χξς. However, having three digits is not the only way in which it is "threesome". It is also a "triangular" number. The Youtube video, "666 - Numberphile" says that a triangle number is a number that results from summing lesser consecutive numbers starting with 1. For example, 1+2+3=6, so 6 is a triangular number. A practical example is that the roulette table has numbers running from 0 to 36, and the sum of their values comes to 666. Perhaps summing the numbers in this triangular way to reach 666 is another way to "count the number of the beast" as Revelation 13 says. (666 - Numberphile, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkZqFtYtqaI)
   
   Revelation 13:7-8 literally says: "Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast for it is the number of man and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. It is not specifying that it is the number of "a man". The Greek wording in the verse says, "ἀριθμὸς γὰρ ἀνθρώπου ἐστίν," meaning literally "number for of man it is". On the 6th day, God made man.
   The Bible Study Tools page on this verse says:
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Ἀριθμὸς ἀνθρώπου [Arithmos anthrōpou] , simply number of man. The definite article (“the”) is not found in the Greek text. Wallace sees the missing article as an indication that the number is not of a man, but the number of humankind.(1)
   (1) “If ἀνθρώπου [anthrōpou] is generic, then the sense is, ‘It is [the] number of humankind.’ ... In light of Johannine usage, we might also add Rev. Rev. 16:18+, where the Seer clearly uses the anarthrous ἂνθρωπος [anthrōpos] in a generic sense, meaning ‘humankind.’ The implications of this grammatical possibility, exegetically speaking, are simply that the number ‘666’ is the number that represents humankind. Of course, an individual is in view, but his number may be the number representing all of humankind. Thus the Seer might be suggesting here that the antichrist, who is the best representative of humanity without Christ (and the best counterfeit of a perfect man that his master, that old serpent, could muster), is still less than perfection (which would have been represented by the number seven).”—Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics - Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament
Revelation 13 says 666 is the number of the beast and the number of man. And in Genesis 1, the beasts and man were made on the same day:
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24. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...
So Lorito Kara-Ann made an interesting observation on the Quora website: "Why is 6 the number of man and the number of the beast? Answer: 6 is the number of man and the beasts because they were created on the 6th day."
   If 666 refers to deifying man on his own without God, the number would fit the character of the Roman emperor, who persecuted Christians for failing to worship him.
   As to how the number of the beast (AntiChrist) could be also the number of "man", consider that the beast may refer to both a man and to a greater entity, the Roman empire. Eduard Wilhelm Reuss writes:
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The beast of the thirteenth chapter is not an individual, but the Roman Empire, regarded as a power. The writer himself tells us (chap. xvii.) that the seven heads of the beast represent the seven hills on which his capital is built; and again, seven kings who have reigned, or still reign, there. This is quite true, but he tells us quite as plainly that this beast is at the same time one of the seven heads, a combination apparently inconceivable and more than paradoxical, but at the same time very natural, and even necessary. The idea of a power, especially of a hostile influence, always tends to assume a concrete form, to personify itself in the popular mind. The ideal monster becomes an individual; the principle assumes a distinct human shape, and under this personal form ideas become popularised, till individuals come in their turn to be the permanent representatives of ideas and influences which outlive themselves. ... The beast is, then, at once the Empire and the Emperor... (Eduard Wilhelm Reuss, History of the Sacred Scriptures of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1884), 155)
   In his essay "Demystifying the number of the beast in the book of revelation: examples of ancient cryptology and the interpretation of the “666” conundrum", M G. Michael quotes modern writers' views, including:
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"In this context six is an evil and pretentious approximation; triple six perhaps represents the evil trinity of the dragon, the sea beast and the land beast, posturing as God" (P. Barnett, Apocalypse Now and Then. Maryborough: Anglican Information Office, 1989. )   
   "666 is the counterfeit of the divine Trinity." "...this pseudo-trinity is that of Satan (the dragon) plus antichrist (the first beast) plus the false prophet (the second beast)..." (P. E. Hughes, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary. Leicester: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990.)
   "The number is symbolic of all that which parodies the Divine, and so always falling short of God." "...666 is then the number of man pretending to be God (cf. Mk 13:14, 2 Thess 2:4) or falling short of God" (J. Richardson, Revelation Unwrapped. New South Wales: MPA Books, 1996.)

<<Jospehus wrote in Book VIII: "And Solomon summoned from Tyre, from Eiromos's court, a craftsman named Cheiromos,' who was of Naphthalite descent on his mother's side". Aren't those names "Hiram" and "Hiram" in Hebrew?>>
Yes, according to Thackeray's footnote.

<<What are the function of the twin pillars named Jachin and Boaz? Do they hold up the entrance, do they open the gates, or are they purely decorative?>>
They do not have a structural function, apparently. They may have held incense, but their main purpose appears decorative and symbolic. ("Jachin and Boaz", Jewish Virtual Library, https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jachin-and-boaz)
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20