Jesus, Joseph, Mary, Nazareth, Galilee, Bethlehem, Roman Occupation, King Herod and the Massacre of the Innocents

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 24th, 2013

History 101

(Originally published December 25th, 2012)

If Jesus were to pick up His Mortal Life where He left it He would go to the Nearest Synagogue

Some on the Left have tried to advance their agenda by appealing to the religion they hate.  Christianity.  Or, rather, the many religions based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, the New Testament and the Old Testament.  They hate the religions of Christianity because they frown on a more fun and libertine lifestyle.  And judge those who participate in a more fun and libertine lifestyle.  In particular those who use birth control and abortion to engage in sex outside of marriage.

So they are no fans of these Christian religions.  But they do try to use Jesus to advance some of their causes.  Such as their campaign to get rid of the gas-guzzling and air-polluting SUV.  Where they ask, “What car would Jesus drive?”  With the implication that Jesus would choose to drive a car that would not pollute the planet that He created.  Or, if you don’t believe in the Trinity (where Jesus is Father, Son and Holy Spirit), the planet His Father created.  Which is a silly question to ask Christians as they believe that Jesus is everywhere as well as within them and would not need to drive anywhere.  Still, they ask the question to try and make Christians feel that they are doing something that would make Jesus sad.  Driving an SUV.

Here’s a question for the Left.  If Jesus was walking the planet today as the man He was before His crucifixion which Christian church would He attend?  An Orthodox church?  A Catholic church?  Or a Protestant church?  The answer?  None of the above.  For this is a trick question.  If Jesus were to pick up His mortal life where He left it He would go to the nearest synagogue as Jesus Christ was a practicing Jew.  And a rabbi.

The Roman Province of Judea was a Complicated Place between the Roman Occupation and King Herod

It was being Jewish that got Jesus into so much trouble.  From the moment of his birth.  Joseph, Jesus’ father, came from Bethlehem.  While engaged to Mary she became pregnant.  Before their wedding.  And not by him.  Turns out God blessed her to bring Jesus into the world.  Joseph had some trouble believing that but after a visit by an angel Joseph was convinced that she did not cheat on him.  That the Immaculate Conception story was legitimate.  At least according to the Gospels.  Written many years later and may not be a literal historical narrative.  But they do include historical fact.  Where history becomes more a matter of faith is difficult at times to determine for the historical record is rather sparse at times.

Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth.  In Galilee near the border with Samaria.  During the time of the Roman occupation.  Who were pagans.  Herod was an Edomite.  Born in the Kingdom of Edom just south of the Kingdom of Judah.  Though he practiced Judaism he was not considered Jewish by the powers-that-be in Judea, the Jewish lands that became a Roman province.  Herod was governor of Galilee.  With Rome’s approval.  He lost his throne.  Rome helped him get it back.  The Roman Senate then voted him King of the Jews.  Three years later he and the Romans conquered Jerusalem.  And elevated him to king of all of Judea.

So the Roman province of Judea was a complicated place.  The Romans tolerated the Jews as long as they did not cause too much trouble.  The Jews did not like living under Roman occupation.  And they were none too keen with King Herod who wasn’t religiously pure, lived a decadent lifestyle and was a brutal tyrant.  It was this world Mary was about to bring Jesus into.

The Last Thing you want to tell the Current King of the Jews was the Location of the New King of the Jews

According to the Gospels Roman emperor Augustus ordered a census.  The Census of Quirinius.  Requiring all residents of Judea to return to their ancestral lands for counting in a census.  Though this may not have been Roman custom they may have called for this in Judea.  That complicated place where the Jews kept their religion and customs.  So Joseph had to return to Bethlehem.  Worried about leaving Mary behind in a land where others may not be so open minded about her Immaculate Conception he took her along.  Which is why she made that great trek so close to her delivery time.

With everyone else returning to Bethlehem the only shelter they could find was in a stable.  Mary gave birth and they placed Jesus in a manger.  A food trough for the animals.  As the word got out about the son of God being born it attracted a lot of attention.  Some were overjoyed that the prophecy in the Old Testament was being fulfilled.  Some were not quite that happy.  Some in the Jewish hierarchy.  Who didn’t foresee this event.  And King Herod.  Who when he heard that a new king had been born to rule over mankind felt nothing but a challenge to his power.  So when the three wise men from the East, the Magi, came to Herod to ask where this new king was King Herod couldn’t tell them.  But when they found Him they were to send word back so he could come and worship Jesus himself.

Of course the last thing you want to tell the current King of the Jews was the location of this new King of the Jews, this son of God.  Jesus Christ.  Because he would want to kill Him.  Well, the Magi got the message in a dream and went back East without telling Herod after delivering their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  (The frankincense and myrrh were aromatic gum resins used as incense.)  King Herod took this betrayal as another challenge to his power.  So to protect his power he ordered that all male children in the Greater Bethlehem area 2 years old and younger were to be slaughtered.  The Massacre of the Innocents.  There is no record of this outside the Gospels.  Though it would be something King Herod would have done.  For he killed his own children when they were a threat to his power.  Based on the size of Bethlehem the number of children falling in Herod’s criteria may have been about 20.  The slaughter of which would be a tragedy.  But the number may not have been large enough to enter the historical record.

An angel warned Joseph of Herod’s plan in a dream.  Telling him to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt until the dust settled.  Returning to Galilee after Herod’s death.  Where he grew up.  Jesus of Nazareth.   But his problems with the politically connected Jewish hierarchy and the Romans weren’t over.  He would have about 30 years on earth, though, before that trouble would catch up with Him.

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Jesus, Joseph, Mary, Nazareth, Galilee, Bethlehem, Roman Occupation, King Herod and the Massacre of the Innocents

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 25th, 2012

History 101

If Jesus were to pick up His Mortal Life where He left it He would go to the Nearest Synagogue

Some on the Left have tried to advance their agenda by appealing to the religion they hate.  Christianity.  Or, rather, the many religions based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, the New Testament and the Old Testament.  They hate the religions of Christianity because they frown on a more fun and libertine lifestyle.  And judge those who participate in a more fun and libertine lifestyle.  In particular those who use birth control and abortion to engage in sex outside of marriage.

So they are no fans of these Christian religions.  But they do try to use Jesus to advance some of their causes.  Such as their campaign to get rid of the gas-guzzling and air-polluting SUV.  Where they ask, “What car would Jesus drive?”  With the implication that Jesus would choose to drive a car that would not pollute the planet that He created.  Or, if you don’t believe in the Trinity (where Jesus is Father, Son and Holy Spirit), the planet His Father created.  Which is a silly question to ask Christians as they believe that Jesus is everywhere as well as within them and would not need to drive anywhere.  Still, they ask the question to try and make Christians feel that they are doing something that would make Jesus sad.  Driving an SUV.

Here’s a question for the Left.  If Jesus was walking the planet today as the man He was before His crucifixion which Christian church would He attend?  An Orthodox church?  A Catholic church?  Or a Protestant church?  The answer?  None of the above.  For this is a trick question.  If Jesus were to pick up His mortal life where He left it He would go to the nearest synagogue as Jesus Christ was a practicing Jew.  And a rabbi.

The Roman Province of Judea was a Complicated Place between the Roman Occupation and King Herod

It was being Jewish that got Jesus into so much trouble.  From the moment of his birth.  Joseph, Jesus’ father, came from Bethlehem.  While engaged to Mary she became pregnant.  Before their wedding.  And not by him.  Turns out God blessed her to bring Jesus into the world.  Joseph had some trouble believing that but after a visit by an angel Joseph was convinced that she did not cheat on him.  That the Immaculate Conception story was legitimate.  At least according to the Gospels.  Written many years later and may not be a literal historical narrative.  But they do include historical fact.  Where history becomes more a matter of faith is difficult at times to determine for the historical record is rather sparse at times.

Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth.  In Galilee near the border with Samaria.  During the time of the Roman occupation.  Who were pagans.  Herod was an Edomite.  Born in the Kingdom of Edom just south of the Kingdom of Judah.  Though he practiced Judaism he was not considered Jewish by the powers-that-be in Judea, the Jewish lands that became a Roman province.  Herod was governor of Galilee.  With Rome’s approval.  He lost his throne.  Rome helped him get it back.  The Roman Senate then voted him King of the Jews.  Three years later he and the Romans conquered Jerusalem.  And elevated him to king of all of Judea.

So the Roman province of Judea was a complicated place.  The Romans tolerated the Jews as long as they did not cause too much trouble.  The Jews did not like living under Roman occupation.  And they were none too keen with King Herod who wasn’t religiously pure, lived a decadent lifestyle and was a brutal tyrant.  It was this world Mary was about to bring Jesus into.

The Last Thing you want to tell the Current King of the Jews was the Location of the New King of the Jews

According to the Gospels Roman emperor Augustus ordered a census.  The Census of Quirinius.  Requiring all residents of Judea to return to their ancestral lands for counting in a census.  Though this may not have been Roman custom they may have called for this in Judea.  That complicated place where the Jews kept their religion and customs.  So Joseph had to return to Bethlehem.  Worried about leaving Mary behind in a land where others may not be so open minded about her Immaculate Conception he took her along.  Which is why she made that great trek so close to her delivery time.

With everyone else returning to Bethlehem the only shelter they could find was in a stable.  Mary gave birth and they placed Jesus in a manger.  A food trough for the animals.  As the word got out about the son of God being born it attracted a lot of attention.  Some were overjoyed that the prophecy in the Old Testament was being fulfilled.  Some were not quite that happy.  Some in the Jewish hierarchy.  Who didn’t foresee this event.  And King Herod.  Who when he heard that a new king had been born to rule over mankind felt nothing but a challenge to his power.  So when the three wise men from the East, the Magi, came to Herod to ask where this new king was King Herod couldn’t tell them.  But when they found Him they were to send word back so he could come and worship Jesus himself.

Of course the last thing you want to tell the current King of the Jews was the location of this new King of the Jews, this son of God.  Jesus Christ.  Because he would want to kill Him.  Well, the Magi got the message in a dream and went back East without telling Herod after delivering their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  (The frankincense and myrrh were aromatic gum resins used as incense.)  King Herod took this betrayal as another challenge to his power.  So to protect his power he ordered that all male children in the Greater Bethlehem area 2 years old and younger were to be slaughtered.  The Massacre of the Innocents.  There is no record of this outside the Gospels.  Though it would be something King Herod would have done.  For he killed his own children when they were a threat to his power.  Based on the size of Bethlehem the number of children falling in Herod’s criteria may have been about 20.  The slaughter of which would be a tragedy.  But the number may not have been large enough to enter the historical record.

An angel warned Joseph of Herod’s plan in a dream.  Telling him to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt until the dust settled.  Returning to Galilee after Herod’s death.  Where he grew up.  Jesus of Nazareth.   But his problems with the politically connected Jewish hierarchy and the Romans weren’t over.  He would have about 30 years on earth, though, before that trouble would catch up with Him.

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William of Orange, Mary, Glorious Revolution, Bill of Rights, Act of Succession, Whigs, Tories and Constitutional Monarchy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 9th, 2012

Politics 101

Englishman John Lock believed not in the Divine Right of Kings but in the Sovereignty of the People

After the English Civil War, and the English Republic with Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector, Britain had a king again.  Charles II.  Taking the throne in 1660.  And after what Britain just went through he was going to rule a little more carefully than his dad Charles I.  Who was, after all, beheaded by Parliament.  Charles believed in the Divine Right of Kings.  But he wasn’t going to mess with Parliament.  He didn’t want anyone saying like father like son about him.

In fact, things really began to change under Charles II.  It was the age of empiricism.  The era of observing things.  And making sense out of what you saw.  Which led to some questioning of Church doctrine.  For the Church said they understood everything.  Such as the earth being the center of the universe.  And in the Divine Right of Kings.  But then Galileo observed that the earth revolved around the sun.  Contrary to Church doctrine.  So if the Church was wrong about how the universe worked then perhaps they were wrong about the Divine Right of Kings, too.  People started questioning things.  Francis Bacon who lived through the English Civil War questioned some of the old books.  Believing more in observing things.  And thinking about what you observed.  Tom Hobbes observed life and thought people were a lost cause.  And needed the heavy hand of government to protect them from each other.  To alleviate their suffering from a life that was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”  John Locke, a veteran of the English Civil War, thought a lot about what he observed.  He believed everyone was born equal.  And innocent.  He didn’t believe in the Divine Right of Kings or the nobility.  And that government ruled at the consent of the governed.  The idea that kings weren’t sovereign.  The people were.

It was also a science renaissance.  Smart guys were figuring out how to master their environment.  And the seas.  This was the era when the world got smaller.  As ships began to navigate the oceans.  And the great European powers colonized other lands.  Things were looking up in Britain.  Until Charles II died and his son took over being king (1685).  King James II.  Who had none of his father’s cunning political skill (who ruled following a civil war that ended monarchy).  Who liked to rule as he pleased, believing more in the Divine Right of Kings than in Parliament.  But worse of all he was a Catholic.  While the English were still Protestant.  And fiercely anti-Catholic.  Especially with all of this new thinking going on.  They were done with Catholic dogma for good.  And when James started making the Protestant churches of England and Scotland Catholic, well, the people had had enough.

The Act of Succession brought a German from Hanover to the British Throne

James II was chased out of England into exile in France.  A Dutch prince came over to do the job.  William of Orange.  A stout Protestant.  Who had married James’ daughter.  Mary.  With James abdicating his throne (by running away) Parliament made William and Mary joint monarchs.  Not quite a revolution.  But we call it one anyway.  The Glorious Revolution.  Because the William/Mary monarchy was conditional on a Bill of Rights.  Which basically said Protestants and Parliament were in.  The Divine Right of Kings and Catholics were out.  Which was good if you were a Protestant.  But particularly unpleasant if you were a Catholic in Scotland or Ireland.  Who suffered dearly under William.

Things were looking up again for Protestant, liberty-loving Britons.  But the royal monarchs were getting old.  And had no male heirs.  Even Mary’s sister, Anne, failed to produce a male heir.  Big problem.  Then they found a widow of a dead German prince with some Stuart blood in her.  Sophia of Hanover.  Whose mother was the daughter of one James I.  (The dad of Charles I.  King Charles I, of course, being the king Parliament executed after he lost the English Civil War).  And more importantly she was a Protestant.  Problem solved.  The Act of Succession (1701) formally passed the throne to Electress Sophia after everyone else ahead of her died.  And to her heirs upon her death.  The act further stated that a Catholic shall never, ever, sit on the British throne.

Queen Mary died in 1694.  William III followed in 1702.  Making Anne Queen.  Under her reign Scotland joined England in formal union.  Creating a large free-trade zone.  The impetus for the Scots to sign on the dotted line.  The Act of Union ended the Scottish parliament.  Scottish ministers now sat in the British parliament.  In the new union called Great Britain.  In time the Scots and the English would stand shoulder to shoulder on battlefields throughout the world.  Fighting Catholics.  And others.  Building an empire.  Meanwhile Sophia died.  Before Anne.  So when Anne died the throne passed to her son.  George.  Who enjoyed being home in Hanover more than being in England.  And spent more time in his German kingdom.  At first angering Parliament.  But then they grew to like the idea of having all that unfettered power.

British Americans enjoyed their British Heritage, their Religious Freedom and their Constitutional Monarchy

It was the age of Parliament.  And constitutional monarchy.  While George was home in Hanover Parliament governed Great Britain.  It was political parties that fought each other.  Not the Parliament and king.  The Whigs (who favored the Hanover line of succession).  And the Tories (who favored the House of Stuart).  Whigs supported religious freedom.  For them any form of Protestantism was okay.  The Tories preferred only those Protestants in the Church of England.  But they united in their opposition to all things Catholic.  Thanks to a financial scandal tied to the Tories the Whigs ruled for most of the 18th century.  The Whigs MPs grew powerful.  Especially Sir Robert Walpole.  Who the people began calling Prime Minister.

The 18th century saw a series of wars in Europe and throughout the world.  All of which could be boiled down to two things.  Economic advantage.  And the never ending battle between Protestantism and Catholicism.  Which put Protestant Great Britain and Catholic France in a near perpetual state of war in the 18th century.  In the Old World.  And in the New World.  Meanwhile the British Americans in the New World were coming of age.  Enjoying their British heritage.  Their religious freedom.  And their constitutional monarchy.  For awhile, at least.  Until they picked up on that idea Locke had.  About the people being sovereign.

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Happy Birthday, Jesus. And Merry Christmas to Everyone Else.

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 24th, 2010

Jesus, Mary and Joseph away in a Manger a Long Time Ago

‘Tis the season.  People have their holiday trees up.  They’re wishing their friends and neighbors Season’s Greetings.  Yule tidings.  Or Noel.  Racing all over town for last minute gift buying.  Our halls decked in boughs of holly.  And other things.  Santa Claus.  Rudolph and his red nose.  Snowmen.  All kinds of decorations.  But you won’t see many crèches.  Especially in front of public buildings.  Because Mary, Joseph and Jesus depicted in a manger to commemorate the night Mary gave birth to Jesus in a manger with Joseph at her side is not suitable for Christmas.  That time of year when we commemorate the birth of Jesus.  In a manger.  With Joseph at Mary’s side.  Funny.

Some will fight for the right of Muslims to build a Muslim community center near Ground Zero.  With a mosque inside it to boot.  But they tell us not to say ‘Merry Christmas’ or show images of the nativity because it might offend some people.  Unlike the Muslim tradition of building mosques on conquered territory (as those who attacked us see Ground Zero as.  Conquered).  No, these same people don’t find that offensive.  But saying Merry Christmas is.  Funny.

Sure, it’s a double standard.  It always seems to be with Christianity.  And that’s sad.  For this is a Christian nation.  Based on Judeo-Christian values.  The original colonies had established Christian religions.  And some Jews were instrumental in our founding, too (Haym Salomon perhaps being the greatest American no one knows today).  So we should be able to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  For the words of Christ greatly influenced our Founding Fathers.  You might even say Jesus was present at our Founding.  If in spirit only.

Jesus Christ Could Even Charm an Atheist

Jesus was born a mortal.  And some of His greatest works were done as a man.  The words of Christ that influence millions all over the world today were spoken by a young man of thirty something.  But they were remarkable words.  For they impressed theist and atheist alike.  And greatly impressed the Founding Fathers.  Especially Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson was probably an atheist.  He hated anything that infringed upon a man’s liberty.  Be it government.  Royalty.  Or religion.  Especially religion.  For he saw religion as another way to oppress and exploit the masses.  Being of English stock and not that distant from the English Civil War (where Protestant fought Catholic), it is easy to understand why Jefferson thought like he did.  Many did.  That said, Jefferson was a big Jesus Christ fan.

He thought Christ was the greatest philosopher of all time.  That His message was the best message ever to mankind.  The Sermon on the Mount said it all.  For the atheist to reconcile his aversion to all things religious and his love of Christ, he made his own Bible.  It was basically the New Testament with all the God stuff edited out.  Jefferson would die still opposed to organized religion, but felt that the world would be a better place if it was a Christian world.  And that’s something coming from an atheist.

Jesus Christ is American as Apple Pie

Jesus Christ wasn’t an American.  But America wouldn’t be the same without Him.  He instilled in us a moral compass.  Which made America special.  And we rejoice in our faith.  So celebrate Christmas.  Wish friends and families a Merry Christmas.  And ask the good Lord to look over our service people serving in harm’s way away from home.  May God bless them and help them get home safe.

And now, how about a little birthday music?

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the new born King
Peace on earth and mercy mild ,
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful all ye nations rise.
Join the triumph of the skies
With th’angelic host proclaim
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”

From Hark, The Herald Angels Sing sung by Nat King Cole.

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
Pray for peace people everywhere
Listen to what I say
The child, the child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light

From Do You Hear What I Hear sung by Johnny Mathis

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6llIRhq74w

Here comes Santa Claus
Here comes Santa Claus
Right down
Santa Claus Lane

He’ll come around
When the chimes rings out
That it’s Christmas morn again
Peace on Earth
Will come to all
If we just follow the light
So let’s give thanks
To the Lord above
‘Cause Santa Claus comes tonight

From Here Comes Santa Claus sung by Gene Autry

So let God and sinners be reconciled.  Let’s pray for peace everywhere.  It shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.  If we all just follow the light.

Merry Christmas.

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