Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Who Turned an Unacceptable Prophetic Jewish Religion into an Acceptable Christian One?

It was the Christian Church Fathers led by Eusebius.  The main clue is the fact that there are no Christian manuscripts from before the second/third century.  After that, the number of manuscripts increases suddenly.  Hurtado puts this down to the number of Christians that were increasing at this time.  I put it down to the fact that there was the equivalent of a University based in Judean Caesarea which attracted scholars from over the Mediterranean area.  The scholars (monks) fabricated Christianity from manuscripts originally produced by prophetic Jews and Roman historians.  Yes, these Church Fathers not only invented Christianity, they also changed what Roman historians had originally written to create the history they wanted.. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

My Conversation with Professor Larry Hurtado

“The Law” in the NT: Word Stats February 6, 2018
https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2018/02/06/the-law-in-the-nt-word-stats/#comments

Tools such as BibleWorks (and I am the grateful recipient of a copy of version 9) allow one to perform some quick analysis of word-usage and comparative frequency. Here are some raw numbers, with little by way of comment.


Greek forms of the word for “law” (νομος, νομον, νομου, νομῳ) appear some 191 times in the Greek NT. Of this total, the distribution is interesting: Romans (74x), Galatians (32x), Acts (16x), John (15x), Hebrews (12x), James (10x), 1 Corinthians (9x, 6 of these in chapter 9 ), Luke (9), Matthew (8x), Philippians (3x), 1 Timothy (2x), Ephesians (1x). No uses at all in Mark, 2 Corinthians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, Jude, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, or Revelation.

It’s particularly interesting to me to note the figures for the Pauline Corpus: In the undisputed epistles (I dispute that they were written by Paul.  This is Hurtado's arrogance.), the word appears 118x, in four epistles. The 74x in Romans accounts for 62% of this total, and uses in Romans and Galatians comprise 90% of the total. Clearly, Paul’s focus on “the law” was not characteristic of most of his letters. So, was the “law/gospel” theme quite so central for Paul as it became for Luther?? 

The statistics may be of interest to Hurtado, but he makes nothing of them.  I believe that in a high proportion of cases the word 'Law' has been substituted by the Church Fathers of Caesarea for the original word 'sacrifice'.  Paul never wrote anything.  The Pauline Corpus and the rest of the New Testament was written (or edited from original prophetic documents) in the second/third century by the Church Fathers.    

Of the Gospels, GJohn has the largest usage (15x), followed by GLuke (9x) and then GMatthew (8x). Interesting: that very “Judaic” looking GMatthew has a comparatively modest number of uses of “law”. But the combative tone of GJohn (featuring conflicts between Jesus and Jewish authorities and crowds) is reflected in the greater number of uses of “law”.

Geoff Hudson permalink
Larry, how would a Jew by birth know that a man was not justified by observing the law? (Gal.2.15,16)

Reply
larryhurtado permalink
Gal 2:15-16 is one Jewish *Jesus-believer* speaking to another. As such, Paul says, by their faith and baptism they have shown their agreement that the Law does not suffice to justify. REad more carefully Geoff.

Larry spouts the usual simplistic stuff.

Reply
Geoff Hudson permalink
Why would a Jew say he was a Jew by birth?

larryhurtado permalink
Geoff: READ THE TEXT of Galatians! It’s written to Gentile believers, and the scene in question (Gal 2) is where Jewish believers “from James” arrive in Antioch and insist that the Gentile believers should not be treated as full partners in faith. Paul portrays a confrontation with Peter about the issue, and his argument proceeds on the basis of a shared premise. “We, Kephas, are Jews by birth (not proselytes, or hangers-on). Yet we (by our faith in Christ) demonstrate that the Torah does not justify us, and that faith in Christ does.” But, as I say, Geoff, read the text of Galatins.

Professor Hurtado is naive.  I have read and pondered over the text many times.  He just cannot think out of his little box. There were no Jewish believers (including a fictitious Kephas or Peter) sent by a non-existent Jewish James who supposedly arrived in Antioch to confront a fictitious Paul. That was all the invention of the second /third century Church fathers.  But there was a Jewish rebel leader Eleazar (a son of the executed Caiaphas) who arrived in Rome to confront a real Agrippa I (a prophet) and a friend of Nero.  Eleazar, a priest, and Agrippa were deadly enemies - Agrippa had executed Eleazar's father for leading a rebellion against the fortress of Machaerus.  They confronted each other in a synagogue in Rome.  The confrontation was about sacrifice not the Law.  The prophets had given up on sacrifice as a means of receiving cleansing from the time of Judas Maccabeus. The priests had been outcasts from the temple. 

Geoff Hudson permalink
Please Note: Your comment is awaiting moderation - Larry refused to publish
Larry, I happen to think that this text was derived from a text far more fundamental. Thus Gal. 2.15,16 began with the words “We who are prophets by birth”. This would be as, for example, 1 Samuel 1.20 when Samuel was born to Hannah when she subsequently gave him to the Lord and he became a prophet residing in the temple. Prophets were thus dedicated to God at birth. For a Jew to say “We who are Jews by birth” is entirely unnecessary. From a prophets point of view, the verses then become: “We who are [Jews] {prophets} by birth [and not Gentile sinners] know that a man is not [justified] {cleansed} by [observing the law] {sacrifice}, but by [faith] {obedience} in [Jesus Christ] {the Spirit}”. 

Sacrifice was frowned upon by prophets, as it was by most other Jews in the diaspora.

Geoff Hudson permalink
Please Note: Your comment is awaiting moderation - Larry refused to publish
Larry, the confrontation was not with Peter, but with a priest, probably Eleazar the son of Caiaphas. This was an argument between a prophet and a priest.

My last two comments were not published by Hurtado.  They prompted outbursts from Larry by emails.  Previous to my comments, his replies are the standard garbage that one gets from academics in the field of biblical studies.  He believes the text literally as it stands and regards it as truth.  He lives in an academic institutional bubble having his back scratched by others tarred with the same brush.   


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Paul (Alias Agrippa I)

Introduction
Professor Larry Hurtado wrote here on January 25, 2018: "The 'Conversion' of Paul:  In the ecclesiastical calendar, today (25 January) is marked as the feast observing the 'conversion' of Saul of Tarsus, a.k.a., Paul the apostle. Quite how the day was chosen is unknown to me. Whether it should be called a 'conversion' is debated among scholars (did Paul change religions or simply realize in a traumatic experience that he was pursuing a misguided cause in 'persecuting' the Jesus-movement?). But the religious re-orientation signified was major and with profound and far-reaching results."
Many of the New Testament letters were supposedly written by Paul in Greek apparently to various churches in the Jewish Diaspora. A number of them were originally much shorter, as was normal. The original shorter versions were written by Agrippa I, usually from Rome, to the prophets who occupied the temple. The letters were found (may be by Titus's soldiers) before the temple was destroyed.  Later, the letters were  expanded and edited beyond recognition by the Church Fathers of Caesarea.  Thus the books of the New Testament now appear as treatises, not letters. The letters have been expanded by the imaginative and scheming Church Fathers. There were many Jews living in Caesarea at the same time as the Church Fathers. Ex Jewish priests were working with the Church Fathers writing 'history' in the writings attributed to Josephus that suited both parties.  Paul was thus fictitious.

In Acts we see the real reason why Paul (and Stephen) were created by the Church Fathers of Caesarea as a substitute for king Agrippa.   After he was appointed king by Claudius, he did three years of training to become a prophet (Ant.19, 343).  This was the same time it took for a priest to qualify as in the DSS.  Prophets were usually prophets from birth.  But they still had to qualify. They were dedicated to God by their parents, similar to Samuel by his mother Hannah and his father Elakanah. Agrippa was a champion of the Spirit of God.  Like Paul he travelled to the Jewish diaspora, for example Alexandria, probably to encourage the prophets.  As a boy he had been educated in Rome.  He was a friend of Claudius, his wife Agrippina and his son Nero. He would have met many of the Roman elite such as Seneca.  

Nero was placed under the care of Agrippa I, and stayed in a palace at Ein Gedi.  He had become interested in the Jewish prophetic religion of Agrippa.  The Spirit of God was proclaimed by the prophets.  Agrippa accompanied the young Nero to Rome to greet Nero’s father Claudius and his mother, Agrippina. This was an opportunity for Agrippa to proclaim the Spirit in Rome with the blessing of the Emperor Claudius.  It was not a knew religion, but was considered by its followers as a more pure form of the Jewish religion, without animal sacrifice, and in keeping with the Roman belief in spirits. The Romans were a spiritistic society, where the idea of someone being anointed by the Spirit of God was easily acceptable.  These were called Christianos (anointed ones) as at Pompeii (not Antioch).  Thus Agrippa had been in Rome proclaiming that the Spirit was God.  Agrippa spent some time in Rome, but on one occasion was called back to Jerusalem to deal with the priests who were causing trouble. Two years later Agrippa (alias James) met his death at the hands of an unofficial Sanhedrin organised by rebel priests (Ant.20,200). 

The Church Fathers of Caesarea have Paul first appearing in Acts in Jerusalem preaching that Jesus was the Christ.  He was the champion of a fictitious Jesus.  Later, at the end of his so-called missionary life they have Paul travelling to Rome at the same time as Agrippa went  back to Jerusalem.  Paul then vanished, typically for the Church Fathers who invented many characters who later disappeared. The fictitious Paul apparently knows so many Romans that he must have spent some time living there before embarking on his missionary journeys. (See Romans 16). Thus, it is mighty strange that he is said not to have visited Rome before.  

The Church Fathers had to acknowledge the importance of the Holy Spirit,  but for them it was received after the so called laying on of hands, and usually after baptism (See Acts 8:17).  By sharp contrast the prophets taught that God sent his Spirit to everyone, but only those who obeyed the Spirit received it.  This was a direct communication between God and man without an intercessor.  In Acts 7:51, Agrippa (alias Stephen) clearly identifies that Acts was about the Holy Spirit,  and the historical background of the Holy Spirit, beginning with Abraham. From the time of Moses, the priests had rejected the Holy Spirit. In Acts 7:52, Agrippa (Stephen) identifies himself as a prophet. In Acts 7;41,42 he speaks against animal sacrifice. In Acts 7:48,49 he teaches that the Holy Spirit is not confined to the temple. It wasn’t Moses the Jews had rejected, but God’s Spirit (changed to an angel) (Acts 7.35).  The stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:58) is pure fiction to introduce the fictitious Saul (Paul) out of the blue. Agrippa (Stephen) was man-handled out of the Synagogue by the priests attending the Synagogue in Rome. The priests dare not do any more to Agrippa who they knew was a friend of Claudius.
The story about king 'Herod' executing 'James' (Acts 12) is a good example of the Church Fathers knowing the actual details of an event, and using it to create fictitious stories, in this case about James (and Peter).   The same fictitious story about James is repeated in Antiquities 20.200 which was really about the death of king Agrippa. The true story was about the trial and execution of king Agrippa by a trumped-up Sanhedrin.  

In Chapter 26, Agrippa (alias Paul) has an audience with Claudius, who (in Chapter 27) makes the decision to send him back to Jerusalem with some of the prophets.  This was because the prophets were experiencing persecution by the priests.  They were to call in at Alexandria, and charter a grain ship, paid for by Agrippina. The grain was to help the prophets who were being starved by the priests.  It was Autumn. On leaving Alexandria, the ship had to face the North Easter, and was blown westward.  The ship's owner decided to take shelter for the winter in the lee of Cyprus at the harbour of Kato Paphos.  The shipwreck was pure fiction.

There are images of women in the catacombs of Priscilla, leading worship, both in groups and individually. Also high on a wall in the same catacombs is an image of a mother and child. The women is symbolic of the Spirit . She is the conveyor of the spirit to her child. In Jewish theology every person has a spirit. It is a person’s spirit which gives life which comes from God. In the early Christianos, the women prayed and led prayers in the Spirit, and the men concentrated on proclaiming the Spirit. (See Acts 6).

[ ] Read out  { } Read in

Chapter 1
This chapter is complete fiction.  There was no former book about Jesus.
1.1.[In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day
1.2.he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions to the apostles he had chosen. 
1.3.After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.  He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdomof God.
1.4.On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them
this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.
1.5.For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit”.
1.6.So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord,  are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 
1.7.He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times and dates the Father has set by his own authority.
1.8.But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
1.9.After he said this, he was taken up before their eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 1.12.Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city.
1.13.When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus, and, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James,
1.14.they all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus , and the brothers. 
1.15.In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty)
1.16.and said, "Brothers, the scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as a guide for those who arrested Jesus.”
1.17. He was one of our number and shared in this ministry.”
1.18.With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.
1.19.Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama that is, Field of Blood.
1.20.“For”, said Peter it is written in the book of Psalms, “ ‘May his place be deserted; let there be no-one to dwell in it,’ and, ‘May another take his place of leadership.’
1.21.Therefore It is necessary to choose one of the men who has been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us.”
1.22., beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us.  For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
1.23.So they proposed two men: ­­­­­­­­­­­Joseph called Barsabbas also known as Justus, and Matthias. 1.24.Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart.  Show us which of these two you have chosen
1.25.to take over this apostolic ministry which Judas left to go where he belongs.
1.26.Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; So he was added to the eleven apostles].
Chapter 2
The CHRISTIANOS (anointed ones) of Rome
This was a document written in the first person; an ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘we’, and ‘us’ document, written by Agrippa.
A group from Judea went to a synagogue in Rome.  This group was different. They were prophets led and filled by the Spirit of God. Being filled with the Spirit was a normal event for these prophets.  They did everything in the Spirit, as the Spirit enabled them.  To them the Spirit was God himself.  This was a time for the Feast of Unleavened Bread when the Spirit descended.  These are the words of Agrippa.

2.1.When the [day of Pentecost] {Feast of Unleavened Bread} came, [they] {we} were all together in [one place] {the synagogue}. 

2.2.[Suddenly a sound of the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 
2.3.They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and]   

{The  Spirit} came to rest on each of [them] {us}.

2.4.All of [them] {us} [were filled with the Holy Spirit and] began to [speak] {prophesy} [in other languages]  as the Spirit enabled [them] {us}.

2.5.Now there were staying in [Jerusalem] {Rome} [God-fearing] Jews from every nation under heaven.

2.6.When they heard this

[sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them,    
2.7.Utterly amazed,]

they asked: "Are not all these men [who are speaking Galileans] {prophets}?" 

2.8.[Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own language: 
2.9.Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
2.10.Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene, visitors from Rome
both Jews and converts to Judaism Cretans and Arabs –]

2.11."We hear them [declaring] {proclaiming} the [wonders] {Spirit} of God [in our own tongues] !" 

2.12.[Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"  
2.13.Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine”]

2.14.Then [Peter] {I} [stood up with the brothers, raised his voice and] addressed the [crowd] {congregation}: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in [Jerusalem] {Rome}, let me explain this to you;listen carefully to what I say. 

2.15. [These men are not drunk, as you suppose, it’s only nine in the morning.
2.16.No,]

this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: "

2.17."In the last days, God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people. 
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

2.18.Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days
,and they will prophesy."

2.19.[I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.
2.20.The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
2.21.And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
2.22.“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 
2.23.This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge, and you, with the help of wicked men put him to death. 
2.24.But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death for it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”
2.25.”David said about him: ‘I saw the Lord always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
2.26.Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will also live in hope,
2.27.because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your holy one see decay.
2.28.You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
2.29.“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried,  and his tomb is here to this day. 
2.30.But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.
2.31.Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ.
2.32.God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.
2.33.Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit has poured out what you now see and hear.
2.34.“For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord:  “Sit at my right hand
2.35.until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” ’ 
2.36.“Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.”
2.37.When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, “What shall we do?"
2.38. Peter replied,  “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.]

2.39."The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off -- for all whom the Lord our God will call." 

2.40.[With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation”
2.41.Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their  number that day.] 

2.42.[They] {We} devoted [themselves] {ourselves} [to the apostle’s teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and] to prayer.

2.43.[Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles].

2.44.All [the believers] {of us} were together and had everything in common. 

2.45.Selling [their] {our} possessions and goods, [they] {we} gave to anyone as he had need. 

2.46.Every day [they] {we} continued to meet together in the [temple courts] {synagogue}. 

2.47.[They] {We} [broke bread in their homes and] ate together with glad and pure hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the [people] {brothers}.

2.48.And the Lord added to [their] {our} number daily [those who were being saved].

Chapters 3,4,5 and 6 are fabricated.  


A division of labour - Men proclaimed the Spirit while the Women prayed in the Spirit 

6.1.[In those days when the number of disciples was increasing,]
The [Grecian Jews] {sisters} complained against [the Hebraic Jews] {brothers} because [their widows] {they} were being overlooked in the daily [distribution of food] {prayers}.

6.2.So [the twelve] {I} gathered all the [disciples] {sisters and brothers} together and said, "It [would not be] {is} right for [us] {the women} to [neglect the ministry of] {pray in} the [word] {Spirit} of God [in order to wait on tables.]

6.3.[Brothers, choose seven men from from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.  We will turn this responsibility over to them]

6.4.and [we] {the men} will give [our] {their} attention to [prayer and the ministry of the word] {the proclamation of the Spirit}."

6.5.This proposal pleased the whole group.

[They chose Stephen, full of faith; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.
6.6.They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid their hands on them.]

6.7.So the [word] {Spirit} of God spread. The number of [disciples] {Christianos} in [Jerusalem] {Rome} increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the [faith] {Spirit}

6.8.[Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.]

6.9.Opposition arose, however, from [members] {the priests} of the Synagogue
[of Freedmen as it was called– Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia].  These men began to argue with [Stephen] {me},

6.10.but they could not stand up against [his wisdom or] the Spirit by whom [he] {I} spoke.

6.11.Then they [secretly persuaded some men to say] {said}, “We have heard [Stephen] {Agrippa} speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against [God] {sacrifice}.”

6.12.So they [stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They] seized [Stephen] {me} and brought [him] {me} before the [Sanhedrin] {synagogue}.

6.13.They [produced false witnesses, who] testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against [this holy place and against the law] {sacrifice}”

6.14.For we have heard him say, that this [Jesus of Nazareth] {Spirit of God} will
[destroy this place and] change the customs Moses handed down to us.

6.15.All who were sitting in the [Sanhedrin] {synagogue} looked intently at [Stephen] {me}
[, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel].


NOTE: Agrippa was to meet his end at the hands of a rebel priest Eleazar, son of Caiaphas.  The son assembled a jumped-up Sanhedrin who tried and executed Agrippa along with some others. This was turned into the execution of James by the Church Fathers (See Ant.20.200). 


Chapter 7

Agrippa's Reply (Acts 7.51)

7.1[Then the high priest asked him, “Are these charges true?”]

7.2.To this {accusation} [he] {I} replied, “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The [God of glory] {Spirit of God} appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran.

7.3.{He said}, "Leave your country and your people [,God said ,] and go to the land I will show you."

7.4,So he left the land of the Chaldeans, and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, {the Spirit of} God sent him to [this land where you are now living] {the land of Canaan}

7.5.He gave him no inheritance [here] {there}, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child.

7.6.{The Spirit of} God spoke to him in this way: "Your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and ill-treated for four hundred years.

7.7.But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, [God said,] and afterwards they will come out of that country and worship me in this place."

7.8.Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.

7.9.Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt.
But {the Spirit of} God was with him.

7.10.and rescued him out of all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt; so he made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.

7.11.Then a famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great suffering, and our fathers could not find food.

7.12.When Jacob heard there was grain in Egypt, the Spirit sent our fathers on their first visit.

7.13.On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharoah learned about Joseph’s family.

7.14.After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all.

7.15.Then Jacob went down to Egypt where he and our fathers died.

7.16.Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money.

7.17.“As the time drew near for God to fulfil his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt greatly increased.

7.18.Then another king who knew nothing about Joseph became ruler of Egypt.

7.19.He dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our forefathers by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they would die.

7.20.At that time Moses was born, and he was [no ordinary child] {filled with the Spirit of God from birth}. For three months he was cared for in his father’s house.

7.21.When he was placed outside, Pharoah’s daughter took him and brought him up as her own son.

7.22.Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.

7.23.When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites.

7.24.He saw one of them being ill-treated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defence and avenged him by killing the Egyptian.

7.25.[Moses thought that his own people would realise that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.] (There is no mention of what Moses thought in Ex:2).

7.26.The next day, Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, "Men you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?"

7.27.But the man who was ill-treating the other pushed Moses aside and said, "Who made you ruler and judge over us?

7.28.Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?"

7.29.When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons.

7.30.After forty years had passed, [an angel] {the Spirit of God} appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai.

7.31.[When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to look more closely,]

He heard the [Lord’s] {Spirit of God’s} voice: "I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

7.32.Moses trembled with fear [and did not dare to look]. (He had looked already).

7.33.Then the [Lord] {the Spirit of God} said to him, "Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground.

7.34.I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.’

7:35.“This is the same [Moses] {Spirit of God} whom they had rejected with the words, 

[‘who made you ruler and Judge?’ (Ex: 2:14; this only refers to two Hebrews who were fighting)] 

"let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God, nor see this great fire any more, or we will die". (Deut:18:16, see Acts 7:37).

[He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to Moses in the bush.]

7.36. [He] {The Spirit} led them out of Egypt and did wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and for forty years in the desert.

7.37.[This is that Moses who told the Israelites, "God will send you a prophet like me from among your own people."] (Deut: 18:15 – presumably referring to Jesus, and next to Deut.18:16 which the writers originally had before them in Acts 7:35).

7.38.[He] {The Spirit} was in the assembly in the desert with [the angel] {Moses} who spoke to him on mount Sinai. And with our fathers, Moses received [living words] {the Spirit} to pass onto us.

7.39. "But our fathers refused to obey [him] {the Spirit}. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt."

7.40.They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us.

[As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt – we don’t know what has happened to him!’]

7.41.That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and held a celebration in honour of what their hands had made.

7.42.But {the Spirit of} God turned away, and gave them over to [the worship of the heavenly bodies] {their sacrifices}. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets:
‘Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings for forty years in the desert, O house of Israel?

7.43.You have lifted up the shrine of Molech and the star of your God Rephan, the idols you made to worship. Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.

7.44.“Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the [Testimony] {Spirit of God} with them in the desert.
It had been made as {the Spirit of} God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen.

7.45.Having received the tabernacle, our fathers under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations the Spirit drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David,

7.46. who enjoyed the {Spirit of} God’s favour and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for [the God of Jacob] {him} .

7.47.But it was Solomon who built the house for him.

7.48.However, the [Most High] {Spirit of God} does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says,

7.49. ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord
Or where will my resting place be?
Has not my hand made all these things?’

7.51.“You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears!
You are just like your fathers: you always resist the Holy Spirit.

7.52.Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute?

[They even killed those that predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him.
7.53.you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.”
7.54.When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.
7.55.But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
7.56.Look, he said, “I see heaven open and the son of man standing at the right-hand of God.”]

7.57.At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at [him] {me},

7.58.{and} dragged [him] {me} out of the [city] {synagogue} 


[and began to stone him. Meanwhile the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
7.59.While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit.”
7.60.Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord do not hold this sin against them.”
When he had said this, he fell asleep.]


NOTE: The stoning of Stephen was an allusion to the method of execution used for the stoning of Agrippa.  Stephen was invented.

Chapters 8 - 26 are complete fabrications, some alluding to real events.


Monday, January 08, 2018

Masada 'Siege' Wall was Built by Herod

In an article http://asorblog.org/p=71 Professor Jodi Magness wrote: "archaeology sheds valuable light on other aspects of the Roman siege of Masada, which was conducted in the winter-spring of 72/73 or 73/74 C.E. and probably lasted no longer than 2-3 months. The Roman siege works, including eight camps that housed approximately 8000 troops and a circumvallation (siege) wall, still are clearly visible encircling the base of the mountain."  Three of the camps are the Roman temporary camps thrown up from stones taken from the from the 'siege' wall. The temporary camps are just outside of the boundary of the wall.  The other five and the engineer's yard EY are built into the wall.  An examination of the layout of the wall reveals its purpose.  Much time and thought has gone into its design by professional architects for the defence and maintenance of the citadel. Significantly, the engineer's yard has been bulldozed to make way for tourist facilities.

Jodi Magness, and others, have a wrong date of between 72 to 74 CE for the capture of Masada.  It was in the imagination of the writers attributed to Josephus that the rebels could last for up to three years from 70/71 CE without food supplies. And how does Magness equate this with a supposed siege of 2-3 months?  Any rebels would have been under siege for up to three years. The date of 72/74 CE is ridiculous.  Masada (and Machaerus and Qumran) were taken by storm. That implies at most a few days. This was in 66 CE by forces under Nero.  The great Vespasian was fawning at Nero's feet.  In 66 Nero left Rome with his army (Nero 22.3-24) and sailed to Caesarea.  From there he went straight to Jerusalem.  He entered Jerusalem without opposition being let in by the prophets who were barricaded in the temple. The fictitious story of Cestius's defeat is a cover story created from Nero's free entry into Jerusalem (War 2.538,539). Most priests had fled earlier taking their manuscripts  (the so-called Dead Sea Scrolls) ransacked from Agrippa’s archives.  They went to the three fortresses they had captured from Agrippa’s guards.  Dio (63.8.4) sarcastically describes Nero as having overcome Terpnus and Diodorus and Pammenes.  Actually, Nero stormed the fortresses of Qumran, Masada and Machaerus (Qumran is not explicitly mentioned in the writings attributed to Josephus).  Only at these locations is there any evidence of Roman attacks.  There is no evidence of Roman attacks at the time anywhere else.  Vespasian was a liar. He was a mere general in Nero’s army.  He never went to Galilee or Samaria, and neither did the fictitious general Josephus.

Nero was a friend of Agrippa I (his son never became king Agrippa II). When Nero was about 16 years old, he went to stay with Agrippa at Ein Gedi. Agrippa had warmly welcomed him. Nero learned about Agrippa’s prophetic beliefs. He became familiar with the fortresses around the Dead Sea. Thus he would have known the layout of Masada and probably Qumran and Machaerus. This was especially useful later when Agrippa needed his help to suppress the rebel priests. Nero as a young man must have been an incredible athlete and soldier, ready to mix it with anyone. He was the best candidate to lead the army.

Nero led the army in 66 CE and was dead by June 68.  In his article on Page 142 in JUDEA AND ROME IN COINS, David Hendin shows the front and back of a coin of Vitellius (Fig. 26: Vitellius bronze - depicting the victory over the Jews).  Hendin says that with Vespasian supposedly running the war, the Romans were bound to win, and that Vitellius anticipated the victory. But Nero had already won the war four/five years previously, which was short, and not the sort of war created by Josephus.  Vitellius was simply starting a propaganda which Vespasian later copied with further issues of coins, presumably not caring if anyone noticed.  As Vitellius was the last emperor in the 'year of the four emperors', one can safely say that the 'war' must have been over four/five years before.  Vitellius was thus the first emperor to issue Judea Capta coins to celebrate  a false victory over the Jews.  He had thought of the idea before Vespasian. The Jewish revolt (by a relatively small number of priests) was over in a few days.  Nero had arrived too late to save Agrippa.  The captured priests were thrown in prison.  Nero left the temple intact with all its wealth.  There followed five years of peace, usually called the five years of revolt.  The so-called ‘coins of revolt’ issued during the four/five years of peace gave no indication of a destroyed temple. Marriages were being made and land bought and sold. The coins showed no antagonism to Rome.  What they did show were comments such as: “the freedom of Zion”; "the redemption of Zion"; "Shekel of Israel". These comments indicated that the prophets and their followers in Judea and the diaspora had been given freedom of belief from the laws of the priests.  The Jews did not celebrate any victory over the Romans.  The majority of Jews still considered the Romans as friends of long standing.  But things were about to change.     

Herod had previously reinforced many of his captured fortresses by building additional defensive walls around the existing fortresses. He knew the weak points. Earlier he had to capture the fortresses. Masada and Machaerus were not exceptions. Jodi Magness (along with just about every other archaeologist with an interest) says that the Roman siege works included a circumvallation (or a siege) wall. I totally reject the idea of a siege wall. Two archaeologists who agree with Magness on this point are Dr Guy Stiebel of Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Associate Professor Gwyn Davies in the Department of History at Florida International University. Gwyn Davies has written a book, Roman Siege Works. All three are stridently confident in their view that the 'circumvallation' wall at Masada was built by the Roman military. And so it seems is another archaeologist, Eberhard Sauer, Professor of Roman Archaeology in the University of Edinburgh. Dr Duncan B. Campbell, a scholar of Greek and Roman warfare would probably agree with the rest. He has written a book, Siege Warfare in the Roman World 146 BC to AD 378. These people are convinced of the might of Rome.  They also have been swayed by the writings attributed to Josephus, and by what scholars have said in the past. For example, according to the writings attributed to Josephus, Titus was supposed to have built a continuous stone wall around Jerusalem to put the city under siege. There are no signs of that wall and no photographs of it in any books. Yet Masada's well photographed wall is there for all to see. As far as I know no-one has done an archaeological study of the ‘circumvallation’ wall around Masada.

The scholars have all assumed, falsely, that Masada's wall was built by Romans.  The wall around Masada was a defensive wall built by Herod.  Herod had the time to build it. It is similar to the wall around Machaerus.  These walls were built by Herod to protect his palaces.  So in this article I consider that the circumvallation walls are defensive walls, assault ramps are construction ramps, and the 'camps' built into the walls are defensive guard houses. The defensive wall around Machaerus had the same purpose as the defensive the wall around Masada - to protect the fortress. In his review of Gwyn Davies' book (http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2007/2007-05-32.html), Duncan Campbell questions Davies' emphasis on circumvallation: "Not only is Davies's blueprint for the 'standard Caesarian siege approach' flawed, but the theory that an assault habitually accompanied a circumvallation is mistaken; in fact, only Caesar's sieges of Ategua (45 BC) and the town of the Atuatuci (57 BC) conform to this model."  So it seems as though one scholar at least is capable of independent thought.  I find Davies's book full of elementary schoolboy bias - in his first chapter he conditions the reader with pictures of the 'assault' ramp at Masada (page 22) and the 'assault' ramp at Machaerus (page 23).  The ramps were essential to build and maintain the citadels.  

I have been to Maiden Castle in Dorset. It is the largest hill fort in the UK and Europe. Significantly, the archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler considered it was taken by storm. It was here and at other forts that Vespasian gained experience in attacking forts during the conquest of England and Wales. Maiden Castle was not unlike Masada. It had several defensive mounds, one around the other. 

The Herod kings (Herod, Aristobulus, and Agrippa) built-up the defensive walls around Jerusalem.  The construction was not dissimilar from the walls around Masada and Machaerus.  They had integral towers and turrets. (See War Book 5, 152-171). 

Going back in time, Campbell points out the general reluctance of the Roman army to use siege tactics and their preference for storm, saying: "He (Davies) highlights Capua (212/211 BC) as 'the first real endorsement of the value of a well-organized circumvallatory scheme', claiming that 'there was a marked increase in the use of circumvallation' thereafter (page 64). But do the statistics really support this conclusion? There were two, perhaps three, circumvallations during the First Punic War (Agrigentum, Lilybaeum, and the possible example of Panormus, 254 BC), and another two during the Second Punic War (Capua, and Scipio Asiaticus' siege of Orongis, 207 BC). Thus, in the space of sixty years, Roman armies had utilised the tactic four or five times, as far as we know, whereas during the same period more than a dozen towns are known to have been taken by storm. Far from a 'marked increase in the use of circumvallation' (page 64), the seventy-five years separating the sieges of Orongis and Numantia witnessed a strategy of investment only twice, at Ambracia (189 BC) and at Carthage (146 BC)."



Machaerus

Eberhard Sauer said I should find other contemporary examples of walls to justify my view that the wall around Masada was a defensive wall built by Herod. I have found one contemporary example. It is the wall around Machaerus, a fortress on the border of the Dead Sea opposite to Qumran. The text of Josephus has this to say about Machaerus (see War 7.172-175): "But when Herod became king, he thought the place to be worthy of the utmost regard, and of being built upon in the firmest manner, and this especially because it lay so near to Arabia; for it is seated in a convenient place on that account, and hath a prospect towards that country; he therefore surrounded a large space of ground with walls and towers, and built a city there, out of which city there was a way that led up to the very citadel itself on the top of the mountain; nay, more than this he built a wall round the top of the hill, and erected towers at the corners, of a hundred and sixty cubits high; in the middle of which place he built a palace, after a magnificent manner, wherein were large and beautiful edifices". This description is accurate. The "large space of ground" contained the lower city and the upper citadel. Herod built a 3000 m long wall around the whole. Integrated with this wall he built defensive towers. The citadel and the palace is on the top of a hill within the boundary of the defensive wall. Herod built a second wall and towers around the top of the hill. These details are shown on plate 12, Chapter 5 of Gwyn Davies' book. Davies's caption for the photo is: The siege system at Machaerus (after Strobel 1974a and Kennedy and Riley 1990). The errors of former scholars are repeated. The wall depicted as a ‘circumvallation wall’ IS the permanent defensive wall with guard houses that Herod built around the whole complex of lower city and upper citadel. The Romans built one or two temporary camps near the defensive wall after they had captured Machaerus from the priests. These separate camps were to guard the city against re-capture. 

The text attributed to Josephus, makes no mention of Bassus (the supposed conqueror of Machaerus) building a circumvallation wall.  Nor does the text speak of any assault ramp.  But there is a construction ramp on the western side of the citadel. This is cut-off short of the citadel, a sure sign that the ramp was used for construction and not for any assault. When the construction work was finished a part of the ramp was removed to make the approach to the citadel difficult.  In his review of Gwyn Davies' book, Duncan Campbell has this to say (in Note 5) about Machaerus (http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2007/2007-05-32.html): "Davies refers to 'firing stations' for artillery, spaced along the circumvallation wall at Machaerus, but the platforms in question have a maximum depth of 2 m, which is far too small for a standard arrow-shooting catapult." (See pages 83 and page 88 of Davies' book). Davies makes a very feeble argument for these being Roman 'firing stations' firing inwards.  He says that although the width of a turret was too small for the lightest catapult, the full length along the wall of a turret, averaging 4 m, could have been used.  But the catapults would have had to fire along the wall.  This was hardly the efficiency which one expects from Romans. These turrets were for use by Herod's soldiers to guard and defend the fortress.  As at Masada, they face towards the sea and the shoreline, two possible routes for an attack.  They were a unique feature of the defensive walls at Masada and Machaerus.  Machaerus, Masada and Qumran were attacked simultaneously by a Roman force under Nero in 66 CE. Honours were given later to Bassus for a misclaimed victory at Machaerus.  

Why does the text of Josephus say that Herod thought the place to be worthy of the utmost regard, "especially because it lay so near near to Arabia"? Was it threats from Arabia that caused Herod to build these defensive walls around his fortress palaces? Herod went to war with the Arabians to support Augustus in the east who was fighting Anthony and Cleopatra's forces in the west. This was a very costly war for Herod. He lost a good proportion of his family in Alexandrium . The Arabians supported Cleopatra. Augustus later came with his army to pay tribute to Herod.

Masada

Masada was built on the same principle as Machaerus. It had a permanent defensive wall approximately 3000 m long with in-built guardhouses and defensive towers. Then it had a casemate wall approximately 1300 m long around the summit. The casemate wall had built-in living accommodation and defensive towers. In an email, Gwyn Davies said of the defensive wall around Masada: "I see no reason to deviate from the standard interpretation of the circumvallation as an integral element of Silva's siege strategy." Like Bassus, honours were also bestowed on Silva for his misclaimed victory over so-called rebels at Masada in 73 CE. Vespasian never began his campaign in Galilee where there are no camps or archaeological artifacts that show he had been there. His victory over Judea was also misclaimed.

The time of the coins of so-called revolt, was a time of peace in Judea. Land was bought and sold between 67 and 69 - not usual in a time of war (See Goodman, Rome and Jerusalem, page 19. He cites H. Eshel, Documents of the First Jewish Revolt.)  'Coins of revolt' were minted for five years from May 66 (Kokkinos,The Herodian Dynasty, Page 394). Coins from these years were numerous. The last issue for the fifth year will have lasted only about four months. The numismatist, Meshorer is puzzled by this. He says, (I am quoting from page 395 of Kokkinos) "The several different dies indicated that the quantity of coins struck in the last four months of the war was not small." The point is that the prophets and their followers probably had no idea of what the opportunist Vespasian was going to do after five years. The prophets had control of the temple, and the priests had been overpowered by Nero's forces in 66 CE. Vespasian’s (or rather Titus’s) attack on the temple came as a shock to the prophets. At the end of the five years of peace, after the deaths of four previous emperors, the temple was ransacked by Vespasian's forces for its gold. He used the gold to fund his army in a great rush for power, and later for his building projects in Rome, such as the Colosseum.
Nero had built temporary camps outside the defensive wall as a main base for his troops and to prevent the re-capture of the fortress. The camps are clearly separate from the defensive wall. (See Plate 11 of Gwyn Davies’ book Roman Seige Works). From his earlier visits to see Agrippa, Nero knew that Masada had good water storage facilities for his soldiers and horses. Herod had designed the defensive wall with built-in accommodation for guards to give an instant response to any attack. There was more accommodation for soldiers on the summit. The fortress was designed to be defended by at least 3000 soldiers. Herod had plenty of stores and accommodation. The priests who had captured and occupied Masada were few by comparison and no match for Nero’s professional Roman army. They found it impossible to defend a wall over 3000m long. Masada was vulnerable to a surprise attack by storm.

To build and maintain Herod’s palace, the ramp, with its principle of the inclined plane, would have been essential. Heavy stone parts would have been turned, cut and polished in the ‘engineer’s’ yard EY and pulled up the ramp. When any construction work was completed, the ramp was reduced. The yard (built into the defensive wall) is near to the ramp to reduce the distance parts have to travel. There is a gate in the yard (part of the defensive wall) to bring parts to the citadel. The yard is protected on the outside by outer walls, similar to a modern building site. The soldiers who occupied the permanent adjacent guard house E (built into the defensive wall) protected the yard, its workers and the entrance to the citadel.
An article in the Limes XVIII, Excavations at the Roman siege complex at Masada - 1995 written by Haim Goldfus and Benny Arubas, page 209, describes how logs of Tamarisk and Palm trees were laid to reinforce a foundation of locally quarried soft limestone and soil. This was poured on the top of the spur of rock forming the base of the ramp. Has it occurred to anyone to date the trees by carbon 14 dating and by their rings? Second there is a possibility that Optical Luminescence dating is sufficiently accurate to establish the date it was laid.
The writings attributed to Josephus describe the so-called assault tower as having a height of 27 m. This would have been highly unstable on such a narrow ramp with a slope of approximately one in two. The assault tower was supposed to have been constructed on a block of stones 22m wide by 22m deep at the top of the ramp, as a foundation. In his book Siege Warfare in the Roman World, Duncan Campbell wrote: "No vestiges of this extra layer have ever been found”.

Gwyn Davies wrote some pretty astonishing words to me. He said that no excavations had been done on any of the guard houses built into the wall, except for guard house A (built into the wall). But here's the rub. Jodi Magness wrote that she thought Shmaryahu Gutman, who excavated guard house A, had not published his findings. And Gwyn Davies wrote that Gutman has never published his findings in English, as though he might have published them in another language. Gutman, it seems, was holding back some information deliberately. Jodi Magness has excavated only the Roman camp F. There appears to be a massive ignorance of the archaeology of the guard houses and towers built into the defensive wall. Did Gutman find any Roman artifacts in guard house A, like those Magness found in the Roman camp F? Or, did he find no Roman artifacts? Did he find only Jewish artifacts? It appears that guard houses D, E, G, H and the engineering yard EY have not been excavated. Nor have the defensive towers 1 to 15 along the eastern and north easterly sides in the defensive wall. (See plate 11 of Davies’ Roman Siege Works). These towers are a unique feature of the defensive wall. They are clearly defensive against attack from the sea or the shoreline, as at Machaerus.

The article in the Limes XVIII, Excavations at the Roman siege complex at Masada - 1995, has some interesting comments about the defensive guard house A (see page 210) in the south-eastern side of the defensive wall overlooking the shoreline and the sea. . The writers of the article were puzzled by the presence of two headquarters, the Roman camp F on the western side and guard house A on the eastern side. There was no reason to build two places for headquarters with two Roman commanders. The temporary Roman camp F, near the ramp, incorporated stairways and a watchtower. The only other structure with stairways and a watchtower was guard house A. Thus guard house A was not Roman. It was an Herodian command post for defenders looking eastwards for a possible attack from the shoreline or the sea. Guard house A at Masada is in exactly the same position as guard house D at Machaerus. Each guard house is adjacent to a row of defensive towers facing the shoreline and the sea. Thus both guard houses, A at Masada and D at Machaerus, functioned as look-out posts for Jewish military commanders. It is extremely likely that both Masada and Machaerus were taken by storm from the shoreline.

In an email, Ebehard Sauer said that if these fortifications (the defensive wall, the built-in defensive guard houses and towers) were Herodian, they should yield closely dateable artefacts, and charcoal suitable for 14C dating and maybe hearth suitable for archaeomagnetic dating. He also said there are limited options for dating a stone wall, but that optical luminescence (OSL) dating of the soil covered by the stone wall might be possible - an expert could tell. My view is that the time between when the wall was originally built and the Nero’s invasion should be sufficient for the accuracy of OSL dating to differentiate the two times. Jodi Magness assumes that the dates of the artifacts recovered from her excavation of the Roman camp F also dates the defensive wall. Yet she admits that the defensive wall has not been excavated and thus not independently dated. One question to ask is: are there any Roman artifacts in the soil below the wall, or, are there only Jewish artifacts?

Guy Stiebel, wrote in response to one of my e-mails: "Constructing a siege wall had in addition to practical functions also psychological virtues. Namely the wall was built also as a statement. This is why on the south-eastern sector one can see that the wall was built only in the sectors that were visible from the fortress. Mind you that there is no need to build a wall at all in this area - but it was built." That the wall was built as a ‘statement’ for ‘psychological’ reasons is surely contrived. He admits that there was no need to build a wall at all in the southern area. Guy Stiebal's comments were in response to an e-mail in which I said, "South of the fortress, the path of this outer wall appears to be over a cliff face. There is a gorge between the fortress and this cliff. Fleeing defenders would have had great difficulty climbing up the face of the cliff. The Romans had no need to build the wall there to keep defenders in." I wrote the same comments to Nachman Ben-Yehuda, author of two books on Masada. He wrote back in upper case ‘A VERY INTERESTING POINT’. The wall was to keep attackers out, not defenders in.

In connection with the defensive wall Guy Stiebal also wrote: "First and foremost it is built together with the camps - the walls of the small camps are integrated with the wall.” Yes, the small camps (guard houses) are integrated with the wall but they are not Roman camps. Stiebal continued: “Herod did not build it - none of the coins and pottery there found attest this and so forth. None of Herod's fortress has such external so-called 'defensive wall'.” Yes they did. Machaerus had a defensive wall around the upper and lower parts of the city. Stiebal continued: “But it is above all the Roman camps that were clearly built together with it. All the material culture from the camps are from the time of the revolt! Coins, pottery weapons and so forth! They are simply not Herodian in date, nor is the wall." Yes, the wall was built at the same time as the small camps because Herod naturally built them together as permanent stuctures. For the Romans to build a permanent wall with small camps for a siege is absolutely ridiculous. Immediately outside the wall the Romans built their own temporary camps to guard the site from another attack. It is quite possible that the Romans did go into the small camps and leave various artefacts there. But the guard houses integrated with the wall have not been excavated, except for guard house A by Gutman, and he has not published his results, as testified by Magness. So how can Stiebal say that coins, pottery, weapons and so forth are from the guard houses? As far as I know, the only camp where Roman artifacts have been found is the Roman camp F which Magness and others excavated. Nor has the wall itself been excavated and dated.

Stiebal continued: "It (the wall) was built in accordance to the Roman drill, with ample parallels." Magness agrees with Stiebal. She said: "The identification of the circumvallation wall at Masada as Roman is based on Josephus' testimony as well as with its connection with the eight siege camps, which are indisputably Roman." Of Magness’s eight ‘siege’ camps five were guard camps built permanently with the wall. That the guard camps were Herodian is given away by the fact that the engineer’s yard EY is also integrated with the defensive wall. The other three camps were the larger Roman temporary camps built outside the wall. What was Roman drill? Does Stiebal mean that the wall was built in a Roman style? Does he think the Romans had a monopoly on such construction? Herod had Italian architects and builders to help with his palaces, so I see no reason why the same builders were not employed in the construction of his defences.

How did Herod defend his cities? (See Ant.15.292- 297) He fortified Jerusalem and the city of Samaria. "Besides all which, he encompassed the city (Samaria renamed Sebaste) with a wall of great strength, and made use of the acclivity of the place for making its fortifications stronger; nor was the compass of the place made now so small as it had been before, but was such as rendered it not inferior to the most famous cities; for it was twenty furlongs in circumference." (297) . Thus Herod built a wall around Samaria approximately 2.5 miles long, almost the same length as the walls around Masada and Machaerus. Herod understood the need for such walls as an extra defence. "He also sent to his youngest brother Pheroas ... to build a wall about Alexandrium." (War 1.308). Alexandrium was a fortress north of Judea near the border of Samaria. These were early days when Herod was establishing his power base, building defensive walls around captured fortresses. Herod recognised that the defences of the fortresses of earlier times were inadequate. It was a standard procedure for Herod to build walls around cities he captured. He was later to lose a large proportion of his family at Alexandrium, including his wife Mariamne, who the author of Josephus would have us believe he murdered.


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