Sunday, August 06, 2017

The Common Factor in the Jewish Coins from the Hasmonean, Herodian and Bar Kokhba Periods

The common factor in all these coins (including those from the Galilee) is that there is no symbology (textual or graphical) that shows anything to do with sacrifice of animals, or an altar for burnt offerings, or of the high priest, or of the priests. Yet Josephus, the rabbis, Jewish and Christian scholars say that the priests and animal sacrifice were the most important feature of Judaism.  Priests in charge of the temple was fraudulently written into history by Josephus and the rabbis.  Jewish and Christian scholars accept Jewish history as it is written in Josephus.

Many symbols shown on the coins are related to the sanctuary and worship, in particular the Feast of Tabernacles when the Jews celebrated the coming of the Spirit.  This was the domain of the prophets.  The sanctuary facade with the holy place at the centre is common on a number of coins.  The coins all support my view that from the time of Judas, animal sacrifice by the priests had ceased and that the priests were exiled from the temple. Up to the time of the revolt by the priests the coins were often depicted as pro Roman with many showing the heads of the emperors. After Nero defeated the rebel priests he granted freedom to the prophets and the Jewish people. Then the Jews could mint their coins of peace without an emperor's head and in a prophetic style.  This went on for four to five years.  The relations with Rome couldn't have been better.  When Titus destroyed the temple, the good relations with the Romans ceased.  The coins of the Bar Kokhba revolt continued the same prophetic style of coin without images of an emperor.  But this time it was in defiance of the Romans.

The flans for every Bar Kokhba coin came from previously issued coins which were overstamped.  (See Judea and Rome in Coins, page 125).  Simon (Bar Kokhba) and Jerusalem are named on the Bar Kokhba coins.  An Eleazar the priest is mentioned on some coins of the first year of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, but not later. This would have been a priest who converted to the prophets, like Judas Maccabeus. Moses was a prophet although entitled to be a priest like his brother Aaron.                       

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Bar Kokhba Revolt was about the Elimination of the Prophets - The Real Revolt

What most scholars have not realised is that at the time of the Jewish 'revolt' around 66 CE there were two kinds of Jew who were irreconcilable.  The scholars see the Jews through the eyes of Josephus and the later rabbis who obfuscated. There were priests and there were prophets and each type had their followers. The priests were outcasts from the temple and had been so for a number of years from the time when Judas purged the temple. During all this time the authority over the temple was held by the prophets.  There was no altar for burned offerings and no animal sacrifices were carried out.  The prophets were friends of their kings and the Romans, including the emperor Nero.  The priests, always scheming, were no friends of the Romans.  This eventually led to a brief war called the first revolt which was led and fought by Nero.  The priests were imprisoned.  There was five years of peace miscalled the five years of revolt.  The prophet's friendship with the Romans ended.  After the five years of peace (misclaimed by Vespasian and Josephus as the period of the first revolt), Vespasian told his son Titus to invade the temple and get its treasure to fund his rise to power. Titus used one of the captive priests, Josephus, to go around the temple walls with his soldiers, and try to persuade the prophets to surrender. The prophets defended the temple from being robbed.      

The prophetic books of the bible (representing more than a half of the OT) testify to the prophet's disillusion with animal sacrifice as a means of cleansing.  In turn, the peshers (commentaries) on the prophetic books by the priests testify to the priest's disillusion with the prophets who they called "seekers of smooth things".

When the Seleucid repression started under Antiochus he supported the priests with their animal sacrifice and persecuted the prophets who did not accept it. Antiochus wanted a consistent approach to worship across his dominions.  Many prophets moved north to places like Galilee. They started to worship in homes and in synagogues using their own altars (like the Migdal stone) to burn the incense, as they had done in the temple sanctuary. They would see the smoke rise and smell the pleasant odour which would remind them of the Spirit of God and the temple. They also built mikveh to immerse themselves in water as a symbol of the cleansing they had received by God's Spirit.  This defiance led to more Seleucid persecution.

It was Judas who restored the prophets to power.  He defeated the military challenge of the Seleucids, purged the temple of the priests, dismantled the altar for burnt offerings, replaced the stolen furniture and curtains in the sanctuary, and restored the daily sacrifice of incense in the sanctuary.   The prophets became friends of the Jewish kings and the Romans. Later, post the revolt, the priests (probably including Josephus) gave the name of Judas to the betrayer of Jesus in their newly created religion of Christianity.  

The power of the priests increased up to 66 CE and so did their persecution of the prophets. They killed James a principal prophet and a friend of Nero. At the same time the priests applied pressure to their kings, finally killing king Agrippa the Great, also a friend of Nero.  It was these two events that led Nero to invade Judea and tackle the priests who had occupied the fortresses of Masada, Qumran and Machaerus.  The priests also controlled Jerusalem, but not the temple which was defended by the prophets. The 'war' was a local affair between priests and the Romans.  It was over in less than one month after Nero landed with his two legions at Caesarea.  The prophets opened the gates of Jerusalem at night and let the Roman army in. The priests were no match for the Roman army which probably numbered about 8000 soldiers. The three fortresses were stormed. Many priests were put in prison including Josephus.  No siege tactics were used anywhere.  The story of the war in Josephus was a fraud and a misclaimed victory. Vespasian never fought his way down through Galilee and Samaria. The temple remained as it was before the so-called war. 

After the war, there was five years of peace in Judea.  Immediately after the war Nero went to Greece leaving some soldiers to keep order.  For the people of Judea, things returned to normal. Marriages were made and land was bought and sold.  Under the prophets, worship continued in the sanctuary of the temple.  Little did the prophets know what was ahead. History was going to be repeated.  Persecution of the prophets would return.  Only this time it would be by the Romans, not the Greek Seleucids.

After great turmoil in the Roman world, Vespasian came to power as the emperor during the fifth year of the peace in Judea.  He ordered his son Titus to ransack the temple for all its wealth and to kill the prophets.  Many prophets (800 or so) were taken to Rome to celebrate Vespasian's misclaimed triumph.  A large number of prophets and their followers fled to the northern areas like Galilee where there already existed prophetic Jews from the time of Antiochus.  These became the future rebels of the Bar Kohkba revolt which contrary to popular belief was not centred in Judea but in Galilee.

The recent excavations at Megiddo give the lie to Vespasian going to the Galilee. Matthew Adams, head of the Albright Institute and co-director of the dig said (as reported by Ilan Ben Zion (see "that whereas the first Jewish revolt against Rome in the first century CE was waged in the Galilee and farther south in Judea, the Bar Kochba Revolt of 132 CE mostly took place in the hills near Jerusalem and comparatively less in the north." How strange? The permanent camp at Megiddo was built at the time of the Bar Kokhba revolt. It housed an estimated 5000 soldiers who were no doubt rested before another group came in from battle. This was not simply a holding tactic but a sign of the extensive long battles fought in the northern areas for which there were large numbers of Roman casualties.  This was denied recently by Danny Syon of the Israel Antiquities Authority.  He wrote  (see  "So far there is not a single unequivocal archaeological evidence for any activity connected with the Bar Kokhba revolt north of about the line of Tel Aviv." Danny is wrong.  Megiddo.  

As Danny wrote: "There is tons of Roman military ammunition and equipment found at Gamla, all dated to the Early Roman period".  Tons of equipment left behind means that the Romans threw everything into the battle for Gamla (just one of many of the northern places destroyed by Hadrian's forces) and incurred many casualties.

Vespasian started the persecution of the prophets after he stole the temple treasure as though it was a spoil of his fake war. Hadrian had the much more massive task to finish off the prophetic movement along with the prophets and their hope of rebuilding the temple. The prophets, once loyal to the Romans, had been betrayed.  Judaism became dominated by the priests who became the rabbis. 

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Caiaphas (The Source for the Resurrection of Jesus)

Caiaphas (the Beginning of the New Testament) – Ant. 18


The original text that follows was written before the gospels of the New Testament.  It was an account of the activities of one Caiaphas and his son Eleazar who were priests and the leaders of the zealots.  This original text of Antiquities was written by a Jewish author well before Josephus adapted it for his and the Roman’s ends, whereas Josephus's War was almost a totally fabricated text.  But Josephus' text of Antiquities 18 contains the earliest form of the New Testament, and not a later Christian interpolation. He greatly expanded the text with much fabricated Roman material which I have removed for clarity.  The original text was about a civil war between the priests (led by a Zadokite priest Caiaphas) and the Herodian kings (Aristobulus and his son Agrippa, who both supported the prophets).  The kings mistrusted the priests who they barred from the temple.  The priests had had their Scrolls (falsely called the Dead Sea Scrolls) confiscated and kept in the king's Citadel adjacent to the temple.  

Professor Helen Bond of Edinburgh University has written books about Pilate and Caiaphas. In her foreword (page vii), she describes Caiaphas as the longest serving Jewish high priest.  Given that his ossuary is accepted as valid, there is no inscription on it which says he was high priest.  Indeed, there is no evidence on any ossuary that anyone was ever high priest. The priests were out power living in exile, barred from the temple.  Josephus, a self-confessed priest, probably a Zadokite, and not a Hasmonean as he claimed, makes no reference to himself sacrificing any animal.  Power always had been with the Jewish kings, such as Hyrcanus, his son in law Herod, his son Aristobulus, and his son Agrippa the Great. According to Bond (Caiaphas, Page 36), "Jewish government, then, was in the hands of the chief priests".  This was a myth created by Josephus.  His hatred for the Herodians was shown by writing Aristobulus out of his history - he even created two characters with that name, one being supposedly killed by his father Herod and the other disappearing on the Island of Crete never to be heard of again. (See my post: Story of a Spurious Alexander and a Living Aristobulus, Ant.17.12) 

The kings were guided by their prophets, a sore point for the priests.  There were 30000 or so priests and approximately 4000 prophets.   According to the NT, Caiaphas was married to the daughter of a rich priest Annas. To support themselves, the poorer priests must have extorted donations from the people.  The prophets ruled the temple. They earned their keep by farming or doing skilled crafts such as metal or stone working.

On page 19, Bond says Josephus was a reliable witness to the temple and the sacrificial cult. But Josephus is disqualified as a reliable witness to anything.   We have the wishful thinking of a man who was desperate to reinstate the priests in history.  He was in effect a slave of the Flavian dynasty. The priests were outcasts from the temple.

Also on page 19 of Caiaphas, Bond writes that "we must treat everything that Josephus says with suspicion."  This is typical of what most scholars write about Josephus, but they hardly ever analyse what he did say.   Priests were known as liars, yet she considers both men fairly honest, and has it that "Josephus's views may not be far removed from those of Caiaphas."  Caiaphas was a priest who ‘drew’ other priests over to his rebel cause using lies and deception.  Caiaphas led separate seditions against two kings, Aristobulus the son of Herod, and Agrippa his son, known as the Great.  Caiaphas' son Eleazar followed his father.

At first the priests engaged in individual acts of terrorism which were inspired by Caiaphas and his son.  Then, Caiaphas along with large numbers of priests came to Jerusalem and petitioned the king to remove the Scrolls from the Citadel to the temple.  They wanted to be to parade their Scrolls into the temple.  Aristobulus rejected this appeal.  With the backing of his army, Aristobulus commanded the zealots to go ‘home’ (home was across the Jordan to Arabia where king Aretas ruled).  Then Aristobulus built a road from Jerusalem to the Jordan and a bridge across the river. This displeased the priests. Aristobulus sent his forces to take on the zealots.   He defeated them but many fled including Caiaphas. 

Caiaphas gathered his forces and led an attempt to attack the Citadel and recover the priest's Scrolls which were stored there.  The attack was put down by Aristobulus' military. (Josephus makes out that it was Pilate who put down Samaritans).  Caiaphas was able to escape. He took on the reputation of a messiah who was invincible, able to return from the dead.  This was the source for Jesus's resurrection.  On instruction from the emperor Tiberias, Aristobulus came to an agreement with Caiaphas that he should remain free provided he gave up his son Eleazar as hostage and that he should not set foot in Judea.  (Eleazar was the source for Barabbas, the ‘son of the father’).

After the death of Aristobulus,  Agrippa was appointed king by Tiberias. Caiaphas was up to his tricks again, breaking his previous agreement. He led an attack on the fortress of Machaerus, but was captured by Agrippa's forces.  Tiberias, not wanting to take any more risks told him to behead Caiaphas.  This time Agrippa didn't make the same mistake as his father. He had Caiaphas beheaded in the fortress of Machaerus (the source for the story of John the Baptist. In the NT, ‘Herod’ is said to have feared John - in reality Caiaphas feared Agrippa). 

Pilate was totally off the scene in Caesarea.  The editor uses Pilate as a substitute for Aristobulus and Caiaphas.  

Aretas, the king of Arabia Petrea, probably had a quarrel with Agrippa about his borders.  The dispute was not with Herod the tetrarch over Aretas’ daughter.  She apparently sought a divorce from the tetrarch who was supposed to have taken a fancy to Herodias the sister of Agrippa.  This story is a cover for Caiaphus being given shelter in Arabia.  It also blackened Herodias’ and Agrippa's name. 

Here Josephus makes the first primitive construction the New Testament.  Caiaphas  was his source for Jesus as a messiah who came back from the dead.  (The so-called Testimonium Flavium was thus not a later Christian interpolation, as some say.)  It is ironic that Josephus used his knowledge of Caiaphas, who in today's world would be considered a terrorist, to form the basis of the Christian religion. Josephus, a priest, reinstated the priests in history.  Caiaphus was Josephus’ hero.  The NT has Caiaphas as high priest. Vespasian would have heartily agreed with him, wanting to cover-up the fact that he deprived the prophets of a vast fortune which he stole from the temple. He was a mere general in an army being actively led by Nero.   

Caiaphus was also the source for John the Baptist. Josephus replaced the prophetic Jewish practice of immersion with Christian Baptism.  Josephus’ motive was to create a new religion to replace that of the prophets. He succeeded in eliminating from history the prophet’s belief in the Spirit, which was gaining ground among gentile Romans.  The prophets recognised that immersion did nothing for their standing before God.  The prophets belief in the Spirit was the excuse used by the Romans to classify the prophets as atheists, whereas the Christians met Roman requirements of sacrifice by the sacrifice of Jesus, and having him come back from the dead as God.   
Text Extracted from Antiquities 18 (Numbering is as Loeb)

(1) NOW [Cyrenius] {Aristobulus}, a [Roman senator] {Hasmonean}, and

[one who had gone through other magistracies, and had passed through them till he had been consul, and]

one who, on other accounts, was of great dignity came at this time into [Syria] {Judea}, [with a few others,] being sent by Caesar to be

[a judge of that Nation and to take an account of their substance.  (2) Coponius also, a man of the equestrian order, was sent together with him, to have the supreme power]

{king} over the Jews.

[Moreover, Cyrenius came himself into Judea, which was now added to the province of Syria, to take an account of their substance, and to dispose of Archelaus’s money; (3) But the Jews, although at the beginning they took the report of a taxation heinously, yet did they leave off any further opposition to it, by the persuasion of Joazar, who was the son of Boethus, and high priest; so they, being over-persuaded by Joazar's words, gave an account of their estates, without any dispute about it. Yet was]

(4) There was one [Judas] {Caiaphas}, a [Gaulonite] {a Zadokite}, [of a city whose name was Gamala,] who, taking with him [Sadduc] {Eleazar}, [a Pharisee] {his son}, became zealous to draw them to a revolt, who both said that this [taxation] {king} was no better than an introduction to [slavery] {impurity}, and exhorted the [nation] {priests} to assert [their liberty] {the Law};

(7) There were [also] very great robberies and murder of our [principal men] {prophets}. This was done in pretense indeed for the [public welfare] {law}, but in reality for the hopes of gain to themselves; (8) whence arose seditions, and from them murders of [men] {prophets}, which sometimes fell on those of their own [people] {order}, by the madness of these [men] {priests} towards one another, while their desire was that none of the [adverse party] {prophets} might be left.

(9) Such were the consequences of this, that the customs of our fathers were altered, and such a change was made, as added a mighty weight toward bringing all to destruction, which [these men] {the priests} occasioned by their thus conspiring together; for [Judas] {Caiaphas} and [Sadduc] {Eleazar} excited [a fourth philosophic sect] {the priests} among us and [had a great many followers therein], filled our civil government with tumults at present, and laid the foundations of our future miseries.

(30) Some of the [Samaritans] {priests} came [privately] {secretly} into Jerusalem, and [threw about dead men's bodies,] {killed some of the prophets} in the [cloisters] {temple}; on which account

[the Jews afterward excluded them out of the temple, which they had not used to do at such festivals; and on other accounts also they]

{the prophets} watched the temple (which they were in charge of) more carefully than they had formerly done.

(36) And now [Herod the tetrarch] {Aristobulus} [, who was in great favour with Tiberius,] built a [city] {village} [of the same name with him,] and called it [Tiberias] {Ein Gedi}. He built it in the best part of [Galilee] {Judea}, at the lake of [Gennesareth] {Salt}. There are warm baths at a little distance from it.

[, in a village named Emmaus. (37) Strangers came and inhabited this city; a great number of the inhabitants were Galileans also; and many]

{The prophets} were [necessitated] {invited} by [Herod] {Aristobulus} to come thither out of the country belonging to him [, and were by force compelled] to be its inhabitants; some of them were [persons] {prophets} of condition. He also admitted poor [people] {prophets}, such as those that were collected from all parts, to dwell in it. Nay, some of them were [not quite free-men] {trainees}, (38) and these he was benefactor to, and made them [free] {prophets} in great numbers; but obliged them not to forsake the [city] {village}, by building them very good houses at his own expenses, and by giving them land also;

(55) BUT now [Pilate] {Caiaphas},[ the procurator of Judea,] {petitioned the king to} remove[d] the [army] {Scrolls} from [Caesarea] {the Citadel} to [Jerusalem] {the temple},

[to take their winter quarters there, in order to abolish the Jewish laws. So he introduced Caesar's effigies which were upon the ensigns, and brought them into the city; whereas our law forbids us the very making of images;]

(56) on which account the former [procurators] {priests} were wont to make their entry into the [city] {temple}.

(57) [They] {The priests} came in multitudes to [Caesarea] {Jerusalem}, and interceded with [Pilate] {Aristobulus} many days that he would remove the [images] {Scrolls};

[and when he would not grant their requests, because it would tend to the injury of Caesar, while yet they persevered in their request.]

On the sixth day he ordered his soldiers to have their weapons [privately] {ready} while he came and sat upon his judgment-seat, which seat was so prepared in the open place of the city [, that it concealed the army that lay ready to oppress them]; (58) and when the [Jews] {priests} petitioned him again, he gave a signal to the soldiers to encompass them round, and threatened that their punishment should be no less than immediate death, unless they would leave off disturbing him, and go their ways [home] {back across the Jordan}.

(60) [But Pilate] {Aristobulus} undertook to bring a [current of water] {road from across the Jordan} (where Caiaphas’ army was) to Jerusalem,

[and did it with the sacred money, and derived the origin of the stream from the distance of two hundred furlongs.]

However, the [Jews] {priests} were not pleased with what had been done about this [water] {road}; and many [ten] thousands of the [people] {priests} got together, and made [a clamour] {war} against him

[, and insisted that he should leave off that design. Some of them also used reproaches, and abused the man, as crowds of such people usually do.]

(61) So [he] {Aristobulus} [habited] {sent} a great number of his soldiers

[in their habit, who carried daggers under their garments, and sent them]

to [a place] {the Jordan} where they might surround them.

[So he bade the Jews himself go away; but they boldly casting reproaches upon him, he gave the soldiers that signal which had been beforehand agreed on; (62) who laid upon them much greater blows than Pilate had commanded them, and equally punished those that were tumultuous, and those that were not; nor did]

They {did not} spare them in the least: and since the [people] {priests} [were unarmed, and] were caught by [men] {soldiers} prepared for what they were about, there were a great number of them slain by this means, and others of them (including Caiaphas) ran away [wounded].  And thus an end was put to this sedition.

(63) [Now there was about this time Jesus]

{Caiaphus}, a [wise] {wicked} [man] {priest}, if it be lawful to call him a [man] {priest}; for he was a doer of [wonderful] {wicked} works, a teacher of such men as receive [the truth] {a lie} with pleasure. He drew over (the sense is over the Jordan) to him [both] many of the [Jews and many of the Gentiles] {priests}. He was [the Christ] {messiah}. (64) And when [Pilate] {Aristobulus} [, at the suggestion of the principal men among us,] had condemned him [to the cross], those that [loved] {followed} him at the first (i.e. those that ran away) did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again [the third day] (Caiaphus’ first escape); as the divine prophets had foretold.

[These and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him.]

And the [tribe of Christians] {sons of Zadok}, so named [from him], are not extinct at this day.

(81) [There was a man who was a Jew]

{Caiaphas}, but had been driven away from [his own country] {Judea} by an accusation laid against him for [transgressing their laws] {sedition}, and by the fear he was under of punishment for the same; [but] in all respects a wicked man. He, then living [at Rome] {in Arabia}, professed to instruct men in the wisdom of the laws of Moses. (82) He procured also [three] other [men] {priests}, entirely of the same character with himself, to be his partners. These [men] {priests} persuaded [Fulvia] {Caiaphus’s wife} a woman of great [dignity] {wealth}, [and one that had embraced the Jewish religion,] to send [purple and gold] {money} to

[the temple at Jerusalem; and when they had gotten]


[they employed them for their own uses, and spent the money themselves, on which account it was that they at first required it of her.]

(83) Whereupon [Tiberius] {Aristobulus}, who had been informed

[of the thing by Saturninus, the husband of Fulvia, who desired inquiry might be made]

about it, ordered all the [Jews] {priests} to be banished out of [Rome] {Jerusalem};

(85) BUT the [nation of the Samaritans] {priests} did not escape without tumults. [The man] {Caiaphas} who excited them to it, was one who thought lying a thing of little consequence, and who contrived everything so that the [multitude] {priests} might be pleased; so he bid them to get together upon Mount [Gerrazim] {Moriah}, which is by them looked upon as the most holy of all mountains, and assured them, that when they were come thither, he would [show them] {get} those sacred [vessels] {Scrolls} which were laid [under] {in} [that place] {the Citadel}, because [Moses] {king Hyrcanus} put them there. (They were determined to get their Scrolls)

(86) So they came thither armed,

[and thought the discourse of the man improbable; and as they abode at a certain village, which was called Tirathaba, they got the rest together to them,]

and desired to go up [the mountain] {to the Citadel} in a great multitude together; (87) but [Pilate] {Aristobulus} prevented their going up, by seizing upon the roads with a great band of horsemen and foot-men, who fell upon those that were gotten together [in the village]; and when it came to an action, some of them they slew, and others of them they put to flight [, and took a great many alive,] the principal of which, and also the most potent {was Caiaphas} (his second escape).

[of those that fled away, Pilate ordered to be slain.

(91) {King} Hyrcanus

[; and as there were many of that name, he was the first of them; this man]

built a [tower] {fortress} near the temple, and when he had so done, he generally dwelt in it, and had these [vestments] {Scrolls} with him, because it was lawful for him alone to [put them on] {read them}, and he had them there reposited.

[When he went down into the city, and took his ordinary garments; the same things were continued to be done by his sons, and by their sons after them].

(92) When Herod came to be king, he

[rebuilt this tower, which was very conveniently situated, in a magnificent manner; and because he was a friend to Antonius, he called it by the name of Antonia.  (Herod was never a friend of Antony nor did he give a name the Antonia to the Citadel).  And as he found these vestments lying there, he]

retained them in the same place, as believing, that while he had them in his custody, the [people] {priests} would make no innovations against him. (93) The like to what Herod did was done by his son [Archelaus] {Aristobulus}, who was made king after him;

(96) Moreover, Tiberius sent a letter to [Vitellius] {Aristobulus}, and commanded him to make a league of friendship with [Artabanus, the king of Parthia] {Caiaphas};

[for while he was his enemy, he terrified him, because he had taken Armenia away from him,]

lest he should proceed further, and told him he should no otherwise trust him than upon his giving him hostages, and especially his son [Artabanus] {Eleazar}.

(101) When [Tiberius] {Caiaphas} had heard of [these things] {this}, he desired to have a league of friendship made between him and [Artabanus] {Aristobulus}; and when, upon this invitation, he received the proposal kindly, [Artabanus] {Aristobulus} and [Vitellius] {Caiaphas} went to [Euphrates] {the Jordan}, (102) and as a bridge was laid over the river, they each of them came with their guards about them, and met one another on the midst of the bridge.  And when they had agreed upon the terms of peace [Herod, the tetrarch] {Aristobulus} erected a rich tent on the midst of the passage, and made them a feast there. (103) [Artabanus] {Caiaphas} also, not long afterward, sent his son [Darius] {Eleazar} as an hostage,

[with many presents, among which there was a man seven cubits tall, a Jew he was by birth, and his name was Eleazar, who, for his tallness, was called a giant.]

(104) After which [Vitellius] {Aristobulus} went to [Antioch] {Jerusalem}, and [Artabanus] {Caiaphas} to [Babylon] {Arabia}; but [Herod the tetrarch] {Aristobulus} being desirous to give Caesar the [first] information that they had obtained hostages, sent posts with letters, wherein he had accurately described all the particulars,

[and had left nothing for the consular Vitellius to inform him of]. (Vitellius was never in the picture).

(106) About this time it was that [Philip] {Aristobulus}, Herod's ' [brother] {son}, departed this life, in the twentieth year of the reign of Tiberius, after he had been

[tetrarch of Trachonitis and Gaulanitis, and]

{king} of the nation of the [Bataneans also,] {Jews} thirty-seven years. He had showed himself a person of moderation and quietness in the conduct of his life and government;

(107) [he constantly lived in that country which was subject to him];

He used to make his progress with a few chosen friends; his [tribunal] {judgement seat} also, on which he sat in judgment, followed him in his progress; and when any one met him who wanted his assistance, he made no delay, but had his [tribunal] {judgement seat} set down immediately, wheresoever he happened to be, and sat down upon it, and heard his complaint: he there ordered the guilty that were convicted to be punished, and absolved those that had been accused unjustly. (108) He died at [Julias] {Jerusalem}; and when he was carried to that monument which he had already erected for himself beforehand, he was buried with great pomp. His principality [Tiberius] {Agrippa} took.

[, for he left no sons behind him, and added it to the province of Syria, but gave order that the tributes which arose from it should be collected, and laid up in his tetrarchy.] 

(111) So [Antipas] {Agrippa}, when he [had made this agreement] {was made king}, sailed to [Rome] {Judea}; but

[when he had done there the business he went about, and was returned again, his wife,]

having discovered the [agreement] {league of friendship his father} had made with [Herodias] {Caiaphas} {had been broken}  

[and having learned it before he had notice of her knowledge of the whole design, she desired him to send her to Machaerus, which is a place in the borders of the dominions of Aretas and Herod, without informing him of any of her intentions; accordingly Herod sent her thither, as thinking his wife had not perceived any thing; now she] (all fake news)

{Agrippa} [had sent a good while before] {went} to Machaerus

[, which was subject to her father and so all things necessary for her journey were made ready for her by the general of Aretas's]

{with his} army;

[and by that means she soon came into Arabia, under the conduct of the several generals, who carried her from one to another successively; and she soon came to her father, and told him of Herod's intentions. So Aretas made this the first occasion of his enmity between him and Herod, who had also some quarrel with him about their limits at the country of Gamalitis.]

So they [raised armies on both sides, and] prepared for war,

[and sent their generals to fight instead of themselves;]

and when they had joined battle, all [Herod's] {Caiaphus’s} army was destroyed

, by

[the treachery of some fugitives, though they were of the tetrarchy of Philip joined with Aretas's]

{Agrippa’s} army.

So [Herod] {Agrippa} wrote about these affairs to Tiberius, who being very angry at the attempt made by [Aretas] {Caiaphas}, wrote to [Vitellius] {Agrippa} to

[make war upon him, and either to take him alive, and bring him to him in bonds, or to kill him, and send him his head]

{behead him}. This was the charge that Tiberius gave to the [president of Syria] {king}.

(116) Now some of the [Jews] {prophets} thought that the destruction of [Herod's] {Caiaphus’s} army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against [John] {Agrippa} that was called the [Baptist] {Great} . (117) For [Herod] {Agrippa} [slew him, who] was a good man, and commanded the [Jews] {people} to exercise [virtue] {purity}, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, [and so to come to baptism]; for that the washing with water would be acceptable to him

[, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away of some sins only, but]

for the purification of the [body] {spirit};

[supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness].

Now when many others came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly moved or pleased by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise, thought it best ,by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it would be too late.]

(119) Accordingly [he] {Caiaphas} was sent a prisoner, [out of Herod's suspicious temper,] to Machaerus [, the castle I before mentioned,] and was there put to death. Now the [Jews] {prophets} had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon [Herod] {Caiaphas}, and a mark of God's displeasure to him.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The So-Called Coins of Revolt (66-70 CE) Were Coins that Celebrated Peace

I recently went to Edinburgh University for a one-day conference on coins related to the bible. Apart from the speakers, there seemed to be a general lack of knowledge and understanding about these coins on the part of the academics. I suppose that was why they decided to have a conference. Subsequently, professor Hurtado wrote on his blog about about two books on coins. One of the books was Judea and Rome in Coins which I had read and he hadn't. This is what he wrote about the book:

Judaea and Rome in Coins 65 BCE – 135 CE, eds. David M. Jacobson and Nikos Kokkinos (London: Spink, 2012), includes papers originally presented at a conference hosted by the publisher, 13-14 September 2010. These papers give much more focused attention to particular types of coins, with attention to coins of Herod, the Roman Prefects of Judaea in the early first century (including notably coins minted by Pontius Pilate), Jewish coins of the revolt (66-72 CE) and the Bar Kokhba revolt (132-135 CE), and coins minted under emperors Vespasian and Nerva.

I made a comment which did refer to the above book:

The coins of revolt (66-70) show no signs of antagonism to Rome, but rather declared a freedom. In the Autumn of 66, Nero declared a freedom for Greece as on the inscription. According to Goodman, in Rome and Jerusalem, there is documentary evidence that at the time of the revolt, marriages were made and land was bought and sold. Finally,according to Hendin, in Judea and Rome in Coins, the coins produced at the time of revolt were the best quality ever produced, with 98% silver. All together these are strange goings-on for a time of war.

He replied:
No. Not strange for people to marry during a war. And in the early years of the revolt of 66-72 CE a lot of Jews had reasons to think that it would succeed. For the first year or two, Rome was unable to mount any effective suppression. But in due course Roman might overwhelmed Jewish resistance.

Hurtado has closed the comments on his blog. Well I can allow him that people do marry in the time of war. But he says nothing about the buying and selling of land which did happen according to Goodman. He also doesn't make any comment about Nero granting freedom to the Greeks at the same time as the Jewish coins of so-called revolt declared a freedom for the Jews. There was obviously a link between the two. He gives no reason why the Romans couldn't mount an effective suppression starting in 66, when Nero had a large army in Greece in the Autumn of 66. I claim that Nero had fought a short contained war, not against the whole Jewish nation, but against the priests.  In the Autumn of 66, Nero came from Judea to Greece.  Vespasian, with the connivance of Josephus, later misclaimed the result as a great victory over the Jews. Then, in a mad scramble for power, we have the unseemly sight of Vitellius misclaiming the same victory as Vespasian on his Judea Capta coins (see Hendin, Fig 26 of Judea and Rome in Coins).  And we know what the mule trader's motive was. He had form, even fixing a triumph for Claudius. Vespasian was after robbing the temple.

On page 140 of Judea and Rome in Coins, Hendin has this to say about the coins of the first revolt (Hendin writes from the point of view that he believes the coins were produced by the Jews in Jerusalem during the first revolt):

1.The quality of workmanship was much better than before.

2. Precise manufacturing was a hallmark of the silver coins.

3. The coins were uniform in weight, purity, shape and striking.

4. The engraving of the dies was the best in the history of Judea.

5. Roth notes that for the first time we can clearly see “a mint geared for large-scale production, not with the work of part-time amateur artisans.”

6. This is rather remarkable considering the on-going civil war.

7. The political situation was certainly not consistent with the stable minting of coins by the rebels’ government throughout the five years of the revolt, Rappaport notes.

8. The changing situation among the Jews did not affect the striking of the silver coins, which reflected a “relatively SETTLED condition and the CONFIDENT ATMOSPHERE (capitals mine) of the country at the time” according to Roth.

9. Silver shekels and fractions of silver shekels of the Jewish war were not only unusually thick for ancient coins, but uniformly round, and struck with hammered edges which, according to experiments by Deutch and Drei, were hammered prior to striking.

10. Compared to both the early and later style of Tyre silver shekels and fractions, one notes that the only physical similarity between the two coin types is pureness of silver – 96% for Tyre coins and 98% for the Jewish war coins.

11. The weight of the Jewish War prutah is the highest for any Jewish coin struck since the first issues of the Hasmonaean Dynasty.

This isn’t all that Hendin has to say about Jewish War coins on page 140. If the above statements are true, then I cannot believe that the so-called War coins were produced in a time of war. They must have been produced in a time of peace, with the approval of the Roman administration, initially under Nero for two years. Where, for example, did the various skills required suddenly come from?  And where was the Mint?  Were the skilled craftsmen brought into Jerusalem from Caesarea or Tyre?  Or were these coins minted outside of Jerusalem? The purity, the working of the metal, and quality of the engravings of the silver coins points to Tyre as being the source of production.  

According to Abdy and Dowler (of the British Museum) in their book Coins and the Bible, page 64, the "the Hebrew legends usefully stated their denomination on the front - together with the mint ('Jerusalem the holy') on the reverse."  Jerusalem being the mint is an assumption on their part. Meshorer suggested the same view as Abdy and Dowler, but Deutsch says this has been rejected by other scholars (see page 116 of Judaea and Rome in Coins). One can understand Jerusalem being regarded as holy, but this label does not necessarily give the source of the production.  The Jews could now tell the world on their coins that Jerusalem was indeed holy, regardless of where the coins were manufactured. They had their freedom promised to them by Nero, and their temple was to be respected.  

According to Deutsch (page 116 of Judaea and Rome in Coins), 'Jerusalem the Holy' appears on all the silver Jewish coins, regardless of year of issue. Deutsch says that the inscription appears right from the start (on Year 1 coins) in order to create an affinity between the holiness of Jerusalem and its Temple, with the revolt.  I would say that the label created an affinity between the holiness of Jerusalem and its Temple, with the freedom granted by Nero, similar to the freedom he granted to Greece.  This freedom was one in which the countries of Israel, Greece and Rome would hold each other in respect. The other labels on the coins were Freedom of Zion and Redemption of Zion and Shekel of Israel. These were prophetic expressions of the then ruling group or order, the prophets who were in charge of the temple.  The priests had been put down by Nero's army. Josephus was one of the priests (along with the other one who didn't commit suicide).  But shortly the prophet's fortunes were reversed, by the despot, Vespasian.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Rise of the Prophets Post Exile - Antiquities 11

Antiquities 11 - Introduction

The prophets were trusted and respected by the Persian kings to build the temple.   The priests were not.  The prophets were the workers who had the physical skills.   The priests were the money men.  It was during the exile that the division between prophets and priests increased.  Their dispute was over who was going to build the temple.  Josephus has rewritten this chapter to give the impression that the priests were always powerful and in charge.  The Samaritans are fictitiously made the ones who obstructed the work. There would be no altar for burnt offerings and no animal sacrifice.  That would all be the creation of one Josephus.

The Jews that left Babylon were not the same as those who were taken into captivity. The prophets had the upper hand.  The priests had their tails between their legs.

1.IN the first year of the reign of Cyrus which was the seventieth from the day that our people were removed out of their own land into Babylon, God commiserated the captivity and calamity of [these poor people] {the prophets}, according as he had foretold to them by JEREMIAH the PROPHET, before the destruction of the city, that after they had served Nebuchadnezzar and his posterity, and after they had undergone that servitude seventy years, he would restore them again to the land of their fathers, and they should build their temple, and enjoy their ancient prosperity. And these things God did afford them; for he stirred up the mind of Cyrus, and made him write this throughout all Asia: "Thus saith Cyrus the king: Since God Almighty hath appointed me to be king of the habitable earth, I believe that he is that God which the nation of the Israelites worship; for indeed he foretold my name by the PROPHETS, and that I should build him a house at Jerusalem, in the country of Judea."

2.This was known to Cyrus by his reading the book which ISAIAH left behind him of his prophecies; for this PROPHET said that God had spoken thus to him in a secret vision: "My will is, that Cyrus, whom I have appointed to be king over many and great nations, send back my people to their own land, and build my temple." This was foretold by ISAIAH one hundred and forty years before the temple was demolished. Accordingly, when Cyrus read this, and admired the Divine power, an earnest desire and ambition seized upon him to fulfill what was so written; so he called for the most eminent Jews that were in Babylon, and said to them, that he gave them leave to go back to their own country, and to rebuild [their city Jerusalem, and] the temple of God, for that he would be their assistant,

[and that he would write to the rulers and governors that were in the neighbourhood of their country of Judea, that they should contribute to them gold and silver for the building of the temple, and besides that, beasts for their sacrifices].

3. When Cyrus had said this to the Israelites, the rulers of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with the Levites and priests, went in haste to Jerusalem; yet did many of them stay at Babylon, as not willing to leave their possessions;

[and when they were come thither, all the king's friends assisted them, and brought in, for the building of the temple, some gold, and some silver, and some a great many cattle and horses. So they performed their vows to God, and offered the sacrifices that had been accustomed of old time; I mean this upon the rebuilding of their city, and the revival of the ancient practices relating to their worship.  Cyrus also sent back to them the vessels of God which king Nebuchadnezzar had pillaged out of the temple, and had carried to Babylon. So he committed these things to Mithridates, the treasurer, to be sent away, with an order to give them to Sanabassar, that he might keep them till the temple was built; and when it was finished, he might deliver them to the priests and rulers of the multitude, in order to their being restored to the temple.  Cyrus also sent an epistle to the governors that were in Syria, the contents whereof here follow:

"I have given leave to as many of the Jews that dwell in my country as please to return to their own country, and to rebuild their city, and to build the temple of God at Jerusalem on the same place where it was before. I have also sent my treasurer Mithridates, and Zorobabel, the governor of the Jews, that they may lay the foundations of the temple, and may build it sixty cubits high, and of the same latitude, making three edifices of polished stones, and one of the wood of the country, and the same order extends to the altar whereon they offer sacrifices to God. I require also that the expenses for these things may be given out of my revenues. Moreover, I have also sent the vessels which king Nebuchadnezzar pillaged out of the temple, and have given them to Mithridates the treasurer, and to Zorobabel the governor of the Jews, that they may have them carried to Jerusalem, and may restore them to the temple of God. Now their number is as follows: Fifty chargers of gold, and five hundred of silver; forty Thericlean cups of gold, and five hundred of silver; fifty basons of gold, and five hundred of silver; thirty vessels for pouring (the drink-offerings), and three hundred of silver; thirty vials of gold, and two thousand four hundred of silver; with a thousand other large vessels. I permit them to have the same honour which they were used to have from their forefathers, as also for their small cattle, and for wine and oil, two hundred and five thousand and five hundred drachme; and for wheat flour, twenty thousand and five hundred artabae; and I give order that these expenses shall be given them out of the tributes due from Samaria. The priests shall also offer these sacrifices according to the laws of Moses in Jerusalem; and when they offer them, they shall pray to God for the preservation of the king and of his family, that the kingdom of Persia may continue. But my will is, that those who disobey these injunctions, and make them void, shall be hung upon a cross, and their substance brought into the king's treasury." And such was the import of this epistle. Now the number of those that came out of captivity to Jerusalem, were forty-two thousand four hundred and sixty-two.]

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Priests Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls

Last night I read again Chapter 10 - The Deepening Scrolls Controversy of Golb's book:
Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.  It is a Chapter which highlights the struggles that numerous scholars have had to identify the writers of the Scrolls.  It seems that the scholar's struggles are continuing today. Tigchelaar in his latest paper In Search of the Scribe Who Wrote 1QS, speaks of text being 'Qumranic'.

Chapter 10 contains the names of many scholars involved in deciphering and interpreting the Scrolls.  These include Rengstorf, Roth, Driver, Del Medico, Sukenik, Yadin, de Vaux, Dupont-Sommer, Vermes, Gibert, Laparrousaz, Broshi, Golb, Greenfield, Fitzmyer, Davies, Baillet, Weinfeld, Delcor, Philonenko, Trever, van der Woude, Martinez, Talmon, Newsom, Tov, Cross, Strugnell and VanderKam.  So why didn't all these bright folk, along with many others, reach a common agreement?  In the 32 pages of Chapter 10, Golb mentions each of these scholars (in what looks like a Who's Who of Qumran) at least once and some a number of times.  He agrees with a few, but lucidly dismantles the arguments of many, sticking doggedly to his view of the Jerusalem origin of the scrolls despite an almost unanimous opposition from other scholars.  He is to be admired for his tenacity under what must have been enormous pressure from other scholars.  

So where did all the above scholars go wrong?  A clue is on page 279 of Chapter 10 where Laperrousaz is described as arguing against Golb's theory of the Jerusalem origin of the scrolls.  Golb quotes Laperrousaz: "Among the Scrolls...are numerous ones that express vigorous opposition to the groups in power in Jerusalem, i.e. the priests and doctors of the law.  For what reasons, by virtue of what of what masochism, would these people in Jerusalem have taken such such care to preserve texts [as at Qumran - my comment] of such a kind as they had in their possession?"  I am not going to repeat the arguments between these two scholars.  These are on Page 279 of Golb's book.  Both scholars refer to Josephus for their basis.  

I dare say that both scholars accept Laperrousaz's view that the priests and doctors of the law were the ones in power, at least religiously.  Do all scholars think the same?  I think they do.  Josephus would be delighted.  Working for his Roman masters, he has re-written Jewish and Roman history.  Jewish history (an original Antiquities) was re-written so that the priests were never out of power.  Periodically Josephus has a fictitious high priest appointed, usually by a Roman, with few other details.  This was pure wishful thinking on Josephus's part. He wanted to reinstate the priests with an appearance of being homogeneous and lawful to suit his Flavian masters. This was a far cry from what the priests were before they went to war in what was initially a civil revolt against their kings and the king's prophets.     

The priests read and wrote a wide variety of scrolls representing a wide variation of opinion. They were a  a 'broad church' like the priests in the Church of England or the Catholic priests.  One thing united the priests.  They objected to their kings and the king's prophets. The priests believed that their interpretation of Jewish law was being flouted.  They were cast out of the temple and sent into exile in villages and towns.  The more violent were exiled out of Judea. Animal sacrifice was prohibited.  The altar for burnt offerings was removed in Judas's purge of the temple.  Their scrolls (including the Copper Scroll from an earlier hiding of treasure) were gathered by the kings and placed in the king's Citadel.  These multi-faceted scrolls were so loaded that only the king was allowed to read them.  From the time of Judas Maccabeus, the priests were never in control, but on a number of occasions they came close to gaining it.  During the rule of Gaius, the priests sought to erect the altar for burnt offerings again and resume the sacrifices.  Gaius, a friend of Agrippa's did not approve. Finally, the 30000 or so priests defeated Agrippa's forces, took control of Jerusalem and occupied a number of fortresses. They took their scrolls out of the Citadel and then set fire to it. They hid the scrolls in the caves near to Qumran, and then waited for the inevitable arrival of Nero.  In the meantime the prophets were barricaded in the temple. 

There never was a big war of the Romans led by Vespasian against the Jews .  That war was a creation of Josephus for his employer who had misclaimed a victory over the Jews. Misclaimed victories were also offered to De Silva and Bassus.  

In 66 CE Nero came with a large army of around 8000 troops to tackle the priests.  They were let into Jerusalem at night by the prophets.  There was no siege.  The Roman army set about the priests of Jerusalem.  They then mounted almost simultaneous attacks on the fortresses of Qumran, Machaerus and Masada which were all taken by storm.  Some priests were killed, and some, like Josephus, were were imprisoned.  Nero proclaimed the freedom of Judea and left part of the tenth legion in Jerusalem to make sure nothing untoward happened. He set off for Greece in the Autumn of 66.   He also declared freedom for the people of Greece. There were then five years of peace in Judea.  People got married, and land was bought and sold. Coins were minted to celebrate the peace and freedom.  There was no anti-Roman expression of any kind on the coins. The prophets were not interested in recovering the priest's scrolls. The temple still stood with the prophets worshipping in their usual way at the altar of incense.  Until Nero's death, no-one could have suspected what was round the corner.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Goodacre, Cargill and Moss have wrongly advised CNN (Finding Jesus)

The clip from CNN episode 1 is on Goodacre's blog (see :

Character 1. In the bible, Pilate is infamous as the man who tries Jesus.

Character 2.  Pilate is a fascinating character in Christian history.  He does seem tormented about whether or not Jesus is guilty and whether or not he should condemn him.  

Character 3 (Moss). The Pilate of the Gospels is uncertain. He seems deeply concerned with Jesus's innocence.

Character 4.  I have the authority to set you free.

Character 5 (Goodacre).  He's not firm and decisive about what he wants to do.

Character 6.  The discovery of his name in stone was ground breaking. 

Character 7 (Cargill).  The significance of the Pilate Stone is that it actually gives us hard evidence of this central figure from the story of the crucifixion of Jesus.  So Pilate really existed and he really was the prefect of Judea.  We actually have a literal touchstone, a point of connection between the between the story of the crucifixion of Jesus from the Bible and actual Roman history.

As camp prefect, he was third in command of a legion based in Caesarea.  He was a long serving veteran, an old hand, of lower status than a tribune (the second in command) or a legate (the legion commander).   He was responsible for training a legion and thus maintained the discipline of the army, like a modern sergeant major.  He was popular, hence the stone. But he had no authority to try Jews elsewhere, or to set them free. That was the responsibility of the king, who at the time was Aristobulus.  The hesitancy of Pilate over the crucifixion of Jesus is a complete fabrication. This was Roman propaganda. Flavian historians wanted people to believe that Romans were in control and all powerful. The discovery of the name of Pilate on a stone found in a theatre in Caesarea is thus not all that remarkable. He was prefect of Judea, merely an army position, not its governor or procurator which would normally fall to a legate. There was no Roman province of Judea led by a Roman governor allocated specifically to the task.  Pilate probably never left Ceasarea.        

Romans were in control but not in the way portrayed in the New Testament or in the record left by Josephus.  At the time Jesus is supposed to have existed, the herodian king, Aristobulus, the son of Herod, was ruling.  There was no break in the herodian dynasty from Herod to Agrippa I.  This is implied by Kokkinos in the Herodian Dynasty.  Kokkinos cannot begin to think that there was a break in the herodian rulers between Herod and Agrippa I. The herodian kings had the power of life and death over their subjects. They were regarded as reliable by Romans, completely capable of ruling their people.  They had their own armies, money, and the respect of the Romans.

The connection between Jesus and Pilate in the New Testament is purely literary.  It was convenient to use Pilate as a symbol of Roman military power.  This would have pleased Josephus's employers, the Flavians.  In Antiquities 18, Pilate is substituted for Caiaphas the leader of the rebel priests.  Josephus, a priest, doesn't want to talk about Caiaphas who was once his leader.  Josephus was an eyewitness alright, not to the great revolt of the Jews against the Romans, but to Nero's defeat of the priests.  The priests had been outcasts from the temple since the time of Judas Maccabeus and their scrolls had been confiscated by successive kings and kept in the Citadel. (See my post on Antiquities 18). Animal sacrifices were abolished by Judas.  There was no altar for burnt offerings.         

Cargill's hard evidence for a link between the "story" of the crucifixion of Jesus from the bible and actual Roman history thus evaporates. Both he and Moss like to cover their backs with words like "story" or "from the bible" or "the Pilate of the gospels". Typically, Goodacre carefully avoids such expressions. Not only have these academics portrayed Pilate as being
uncertain, they are uncertain about what they themselves say. They are supposed to be telling us history. Meanwhile they convince the public about what they think is history, when in fact the history they convey is a load of tosh. Cargill's "point of connection between the between the story of the crucifixion of Jesus from the Bible and actual Roman history" was purely a literary one.  That pilate existed and was prefect of judea are undoubted facts. That the story fabricated about him in the New Testament, is not history but a complete fabrication.

What they said in the trailers about Herod was unbelievably childish. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Nero was About Revolution - The Freedom of Greece and Judea/Israel

On page 140 of Rome and Jerusalem Martin Goodman quotes from a surviving Greek inscription: "Other leaders have liberated cities, only Nero a province." There is more to that inscription: (see the ERC project Judaism and Rome where you can read the inscription in full.)

Why did Nero feel that he owed a great debt to the people of Greece?  He granted them independence and freedom from taxation.  This was not what the Roman empire was about.  It was a revolution.  There must have been another reason which wasn't to do with the combative games in whatever form they took. The games receive NO mention in the inscription.  Dio saying this was a very special trip, is propaganda.  That Nero went to Greece was secondary.  In the Spring of 66 his main object was to make war on the 30,000 or so Jewish priests who had killed king Agrippa and were persecuting the prophets.  Nero was already in a very happy mood when he landed in Greece with a large army (later mocked by Suetonius).  He was feeling pleased with himself because of his recent victory over the Jewish priests.

In the inscription, Nero is called Zeus Liberator by his Greek hosts.  They understood what that meant in a local and a wider sense. It wasn't just the Greeks who had been given freedom.  In the autumn of 66 Nero had sailed from the port of Caesarea with his army.  He had been in Judea fighting the priests.  He had been let into Jerusalem by the prophets, then he took by storm the fortresses of Masada, Machaerus and Qumran which the priests had occupied.  The priests were killed, or thrown in prison along with Josephus. The temple was left standing with all its wealth.  Five years of peace ensued.  The prophets (obfuscated by Josephus as Essenes) and the people were given their freedom.  Land was sold and marriages were made - activities not usually associated with war.   In the fourth year of the so-called war, Jerusalem was supposed to be under siege, yet coins were being minted in Jerusalem - the last thing anyone would be doing. The so-called coins of revolt were coins of peace and freedom.  The coins carried symbols of items in the sanctuary.  Succoth, a time when the Spirit came down was celebrated. There were no symbols on the coins to do with animal sacrifice.  Nero left a part of the 10th legion in charge to prevent a reaction.   

Then there was the year of the four emperors. Towards the end of that year, General Vespasian saw his chance.  He sought the help of the priests, and commanded his son Titus to invade the temple, kill the prophets who controlled it,  and take prisoner those that were left alive.  They would be transported to Rome for Vespasian's misclaimed triumph.  Vespasian used the wealth from the temple to fund his rise to power (and later his building program) then he set fire to the temple, claiming that it was the Jews fault.         

Nero's links with Greece through his tutor Seneca and his Greek secretary Epaphroditus, among others, were deeply ingrained.  The philosophy of the Stoics, of which Seneca was a supporter, had a number of similarities to that of the prophets.  Nero had been a friend of Agrippa, staying with him, and at Ein Gedi  when he was younger.  Many of the prophets lived at Ein Gedi where the priests later massacred whole families.  The prophets, of which Agrippa was one, were for freedom in the spirit. The seeds were sewn of a new spiritual beginning for the Roman empire.  That new start was first in Judea and then Greece.  

Nero and his mother Agrippina had become followers of the Spirit like the Jewish prophets (See my post Nero and his mother follow the prophets). Seneca and Epaphroditus were probably of the same view, as were many other Romans.  'Christianity' with a crucified Jesus was imposed to hide this.     

Nero had left the temple intact for the prophets to continue their worship in the sanctuary. This was why the so-called ‘coins of revolt’ issued during the four/five years of peace gave no indication of a destroyed temple. More importantly they 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 an event that had occurred.  The coments ont the Bar Kohkba coins had comments for the freedom of ZionNero had granted freedom to the Jewish state and the Jewish people in the same way as he was going to do for Greece.  That meant not only freedom from direct Roman rule but also freedom from Roman taxation.  Also the coins depicted emblems that were in the sanctuary. There was nothing about the altar for burned offerings. The priests had been out of business, exiled from the temple, ever since the time of Judas Maccabeus who purged the temple and kicked the priests out. NONE of the Jewish coins, going back to the second century BC, show any activity, such as the altar for burned offerings, of the priests.  They had been causing trouble for kings and prophets many years. This illustrates the long arm of the Flavians and the extent to which they interfered with the text of Antiquities which I believe was originated by a Jewish prophet at the time of Claudius. Josephus, in keeping with the historians of his day, used another person’s writings.

Thus we have Nero granting freedom first to the province of Judea and then to the province of Greece. This brought him into conflict with the members of the Roman senate. We have ridiculous fabricated stories that tell us about his vile character. Nero must have intended the same for each country of the empire. He was obviously tolerant of all religions.  This liberal minded man preferred peaceful competitions.  He knew what had happened to the Greek empire.