A belated post (no internet access)

6 03 2013

More idle thoughts from an idle mind (I confess that I have borrowed this phrase from Dave Hackenberg of the Blade).

Well, here we are, sitting in a truly big airliner, doing nothing. This big old bird started to leave, but had to turn back before it made it to the runway, because of some mechanical difficulty (the heating element for the front windshield, or so we have been told).

So while we are just sitting here (it ended up being for over an hour), I thought that I would share some more research “revelations.”

I didn’t realize the significant role that the Hasmonean Dynasty had played in setting the stage for many of the major events that occurred in Jerusalem, during the 1st century A.D., including the events of Jesus’s life and death, as well as the events leading up to the First Jewish Revolt in 70 A.D. Now the Hasmonean Dynasty would be the line of Jewish kings that began with the revolt of the Maccabees, and ended with the Roman’s intervention into a dynastic dispute between two Hasmonean brothers over who should be the next king (about 167 to 65 B.C.). It was shortly after this Roman intervention that the Romans made Herod the king of the Jews.

Of the many things that happened as a result of the Hasmonean rule, the most significant and surprising revelation, for me, involved Galilee. 

Allow me to give you the quick version of the background to this revelation. The Maccabees led the revolt against the rule of the Greeks over Judea. After the Maccabees finally won the war, they created an independent kingdom of Judea, and established their Hasmonean, family, dynasty. Now the kingdom that they established, Judea, was a really small kingdom. But soon, subsequent Hasmonean rulers began to expand their kingdom. One of these rulers grabbed the district of Idumaea to the south and Samaria to the north, annexed both of these districts into his kingdom, and forced the inhabitants of both of these districts to either convert to the Jewish religion or leave (which helps to explain why the Jews of Jerusalem and Judea looked down so on the people of these districts, viewing them as being socially and religiously inferior Jews).

Then, the very next Hasmonean king to come along, also decides to increase the size of his kingdom, and he does it by annexing the district of Galilee. He also follows in his predecessor’s policy of forcing the population of this district, which is largely non-Jewish, to either convert to Judaism or leave.

This happens around 104-103 BC, and for me, it was a surprising revelation that provided a whole new insight on scripture. I never realized that the Galileans were viewed as Johnnies come lately to the Jewish religion, during the lifetime of Jesus. I have always thought that the problem was that the Galileans were a little too much country, and the Jews from Jerusalem were a little too much city, but that wasn’t the case at all. It was because the Galileans were never truly accepted as being genuine Jews, but rather were viewed as being the red haired step children of the family.

This, for instance, explains why, with Jesus coming from the Galilean town of Nazareth, it was so important for the gospel accounts to establish His roots in Bethlehem, not Galilee. And it also explains why it was so important for the gospel accounts to include a genealogy line for Jesus, going all the way back to King David, not only fulfilling Messianic prophecy, but also demonstrating that Jesus of Galilee was indeed a genuine Jew. It helps to explain why someone in the gospel accounts (I confess that I forget the address) questions about Jesus by asking, “can anything good come out of Nazareth.” It also helps to explain for me why Jesus, on the one hand was virtually a rock star up in Galilee, but on the other hand, why Jesus struggled to obtain credibility and a fan base among the Jews of Jerusalem.

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