In the beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth. And
      the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon
      the face of the deep. And the Spirit of G-d moved upon the
      face of the waters. And G-d said, Let there be light: and
      there was light. And G-d saw the light, that it was good:
      and G-d divided the light from the darkness. And G-d called
      the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the
      evening and the morning were the first day."  

 With these simple words the Hebrew Scriptures describe the
beginning of recorded history. And so they continue to detail the
creations of each successive day of that first week, always ending
the description of each major creation with the words "and G-d saw
that it was good". And on the final day of creation, the 6th, the
scripture tells us that after G-d created man that "G-d saw
everything that he had made, and behold, it was VERY good".

Thus we are informed that the universe which had been divinely created was indeed positive, indeed excellent. And G-d tells man to subdue the earth and have dominion over it, and the symbol of man's mastery is that he is to give a name to every thing that lives.  Indeed, man is perceived by scripture as being somehow in G-d`s own image and therefore very much like G-d.  

Man is told to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. Given all of the above, we would suppose that man shall now live in a golden messianic age which is, after all, what Eden is. And man is G-d-like in more than that. We may suppose that he is also immortal since we are told that only "in the day that thou eatest of (the tree of knowledge), thou shalt surely die".  

We would think that there can be no better life for man than to be G-d's human G-d-like partner living in a messianic Eden for-ever. But alas, it is not to be. Man indeed wishes to be like G-d but not only as an innocent immortal being. No, immortality is not sufficient for him. He would have G-d's knowledge as well, to "be as gods, knowing good and evil". And so, he partakes of the tree of knowledge which is also the tree of death just as the tree of life is the tree of ignorance (innocence). Now he must be banished from Eden for he can never return to that primordial state of immortality and ignorance, nor would he ever wish to. Now he wishes BOTH knowledge and immortality and he must use his knowledge of good and evil to once again attain his lost messianic world.  

And so with every generation from Adam on, there is an attempt to regain the paradise that was lost. Cain and Abel wish to enter into communion with G-d by sacrificing that which is most closely identified with their lives. They are farmer and cattleman, and offer up the essence of their life's work but in vain. Strife and hatred bring murder into the world.  The generation of Noah attempts to combine all the various powers of every living being into one race of divine beings by mutual copulation and in the process they bring about idolatry and violence so that the earth has to be cleansed by the flood waters. The generation of the tower builders wish to reach up to heaven itself in an attempt to reach G-d and force Him to do their bidding. They are scattered and their unity is broken by misunderstandings.

And finally, when all seems lost and futile, a man is born through whom the world will have another chance to recapture its messianic golden age of Eden. It is a man through whom "all the nations of the world will be blessed", - Abraham, the father of nations.

Abraham was the first to realize that the way back toward a human reconciliation with G-d was not through a manipulation of Him by sacrifices nor through striving with Him in a test of strength nor through a twisting of nature by a forced combining of the animal powers. To Abraham, it was clear that the way back to Eden was through complete submission to G-d and obedience to His will, exactly the thing that Adam and all those who came after him had failed to see.

Jewish tradition tells us that on the night of Abraham's birth, a huge star appeared in the east as a sign that one had been born who would rid the world of idolatry and lead men back to the worship of the one true G-d (Sefer HaYashar).

G-d led Abraham and his family out of pagan Chaldea and into Canaan where he and his descendants were to do the divine will and restore the G-d-man relationship.

Hence Abraham is a sort of prototype messiah, a royal servant who is G-d's agent on earth. Nevertheless Abraham did not succeed in bringing about a total salvation of humanity. Internal strife within his own family, initially marked by his separation from his nephew Lot leading the latter on the road to Sodom and away from G-d, and ultimately the disharmony among his children, among his grandchildren and among his great-grandchildren led to their being sent out of Canaan, "compelled by the divine will" to go down to Egypt, the first diaspora, and led their generations to fall into slavery. Thus the messianic age, which could have come about in the days of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was post- poned to a later time when a more able leader might arise to  shepherd G-d's flock and bring about that complete submission to the divine will which would initiate the ultimate redemption of the human race and lead back to Eden.

Some four centuries were to elapse before the birth of yet another potential messiah, the Levite Moses. Moses, said to have been the most modest man on the face of the earth, accepted the role of G-d's messenger very reluctantly. It was no easy task for him to lead the Israelites out of slavery and across a wilderness for 40 years. We are informed that they were a "stiff-necked" people, and although they had seen the miracles of the Exodus and the giving of the Torah, they proved themselves not yet prepared to fully accept the responsi-bility of being a messianic people and they eventually caused Moses to forfeit his place in the and of Israel by their rebelliousness. Tradition says that had they beeen scrupulous in their obedience to the divine will, they would have entered Canaan together with Moses and immediately, upon defeat of the idolatrous seven nations, would have set up the Kingdom of G-d.

As it was, the conquest of the Land and the reshaping of their own inner lives towards that messianic goal took many centuries of trial and error. The books of Judges and Kings show us a story of continual conflict, conflict of Israel with her neighbors, conflict among their own tribes, and on-going conflict with what it was that G-d demanded them. There was a period of greatness and harmony during the reigns of David and Solomon the likes of which were never quite seen again. During this period, Israel achieved mastery over the Land of Israel and over adjacent lands, and a period of peace and prosperity en-sued which in later years caused the Jews to look back upon the reigns of these two kings as indeed "messianic" in scope, and to hope for the coming of a G-dly king fashioned in the image of David and Solomon. Indeed it would be only fitting that this great messiah be of the lineage of David for since the rift within the house of Abraham, the Hebrews had not been one people. Then a man of Israel, Boaz, united with a daughter of Lot (Moab), Ruth, to become the ancestors of the one who would be known as "the son of David", the Annointed King.

With the passing of Solomon, however, the kingdom fell apart. Two separate kingdoms came into existence to replace the united nation.In the north, the ten tribes formed the kingdom of Israel, later also known as the kingdom of Ephraim or Samaria. In the south, the Davidic monarchy continued to rule over the kingdom of Judah.

Over the several hundred years following the collapse of Solomon's kingdom, the story of the two rival Hebrew peoples was not a prettyone. Continuous internecine strife and the gradual introduction of idolatry into the religious life, especially in the north, led the prophets who had been sent to them to formalize an idea that had always been germinating in their minds - the idea of the messiah.

To the average Israelite living in those days, it must have seemed inevitible that as ordinary human beings the task of complete submission to the divine will, the eradication of evil in the world, the bringing about of the Kingdom of G-d on earth were difficult if not impossible. Therefore these goals, if they were to be achieved at all, could only be brought about by an extraordinary leader. Someone of the caliber of Abraham or Moses; certainly someone of the caliber of David and Solomon who, in their racial memory, had led the nation to greatness when each man "sat under his vine and fig tree and none made him afraid."  Thus was born in the conciousness of Israel the hope for a redemption of Israel and for the world when all nations would turn to G-d and forsake their evil ways and their idols. This would be a time of peace and harmony such as had not existed since the Garden of Eden. And who better to bring about this Kingdom of G-d than a very special King who would be G-d's viceroy on earth, banishing all evil and sickness, war and poverty, misery and godlessness.

Messiah! the "Annointed One" became the Israelite hope for a better tomorrow. It had been the custom in Israel to refer to all of G-d's servants as MESHIACH, annointed, be they priest or king. Since the beginning of the nation at Sinai these men bore the "annointing oil" on their heads when they were installed in office. It was a sign of their special relationship to G-d. From the time of Saul, the first king of Israel, the monarch was known as MELECH HAMESHIACH, the An-noited King, or MESHIACH HASHEM, the L--d's Annointed. As time passed, this designation took on a very special meaning when referring to the special man whose coming was earnestly looked for by the Israelite people, the Messiah, the Son of David.

One of the first to give formal articulation to this hope was the prophet Isaiah who began to prophesy about the year 740 before the Christian era. He is thought of as the messianic prophet PAR EXCEL-LENCE and his universalist visions of a world at peace are well known to every religious Jew and Christian:

      "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain
      of the L--d;s house shall be established in the top of the
      mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations
      shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye,
      and let us go up to the mountain of the L--d, to the house of
      the G-d of Jacob; nd he will teach us of his ways, and we will
      walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and
      the word of the L--d from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among
      the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat
      their swords into plowshares, and their spears into
      pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
      neither shall they learn war any more."
                                Isaiah 2:2-4

This same Isaiah tells us of the birth of a special child. The verses have been interpreted by both Jews and Christians as referring to the messiah.

      "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the  
      government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be
      called Wonderful Counselor is the Mighty G-d who is the Ever-
      lasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his
      government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of
      David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it
      with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.
      The zeal of the L--d of hosts will perform this."
                                Isaiah 9:6-7

The prophet Micah was a contempoary of Isaiah. He uses language very similar to Isaiah when he speaks about the role of Israel in the messianic era:

      "...for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the L--d
      from Jerusalem."
                                 Micah 4:2

But Micah also adds something to our knowledge of the messiah's coming:

      "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the
      thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto
      me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been
      from of old, from everlasting."
                                 Micah 5:2

Thus we learn that Bethlehem is the messianic birthplace. Whether this means that it is the messianic source, since it was the city of David, the ancestor of the messiah, or whether it is intended to be taken literally that the messiah HIMSELF will actually be born there is not certain. In any case, for the Jews, Bethlehem came to stand for both the city of David AND the city of messiah.

The prophets continued to tell the people that the golden age would come if they would only return to G-d and obey His Law. However neither in the northern kingdom nor in the southern kingdom did the ruling class set an example of the kind of religiosity that the prophets demanded.

Then, in the year 721 of the pre-Christian era, tragedy struck. The northern kingdom of Samaria was destroyed by the armies of Assyria and  its population taken away into exile and scattered among the nations. The ten tribes of Israel became "lost" in history, leaving only the kingdom of Judah in the south to carry on the divine history and the divine mission.

Over and over the prophets exhorted the kings and the people to turn to G-d in complete obedience and submission to the Torah, the divine covenant, the manifestation of G-d's will on earth for His people. But it was not to be. Led by whimsical kings and false prophets, the kingdom of Judah moved headlong down the path to its own undoing. In the year 586, less than two centuries after the destruction of its sister kingdom Samaria, the kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians, Jerusalem and its Temple were set to the torch, and the people of Judah were led away captive into exile in Babylon. Just as the ten tribes had disappeared earlier, it now seemed that the Jews might also assimiliate into Babylonian society and disappear from history. Certainly the coming of the Annointed One seemed remote, if not a dream. All seemed lost.

It was assumed by many of the Jewish exiles that the gods of Babylon had simply been more powerfull than the G-d of Israel. How else could He have allowed His people such a terrible defeat and humiliation? But the Jews were fortunate in a way that no other people conquered by the Babylonians had been fortunate. The Jews had prophets who con-tinued to exhort them to remain faithfull to G-d dispite what seemed to have been a defeat of that G-d. Jeremiah and Ezekiel both constant-ly stressed that it had not been G-d's weakness that He had permitted Babylon to crush Judah but that He had used Babylon as His instrument of punishment for the Jews' own previous faithlessness, especially the faithlessness of their leadership. But more than this, these pro- phets dwelt more on the hope of the future than on the sins of the past. As far as they were concerned, Israel was undergoing a purifi- cation by fire in their exile, and once that purification process was completed, Israel would once again find favor with her G-d and her nationhood restored in the Land of her fathers.

     "The hand of the L--d was upon me, and the L--d carried me out in
     a spirit, and set me down in the midst of the valley, and it was
     full of bones...And He said unto me: 'Son of man, can these bones
     live?' And I answered: 'O L--d G-d, Thou knowest.'...Then He said
     unto me: 'Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel;
     behold, they say: Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we
     are clean cut off. Therefore prophesy, and say unto them: Thus
     sayeth the L--d G-d: Behold, I will open your graves, and cause
     you to come up out of your graves, O My people; and I will bring
     you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the
     L--d, when I have opened your graves, and caused you to come up
     out of your graves, O My people".
                            Ezekiel, Chapter 37

    "Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the L--d, that it shall
     no more be said: 'As the L--d liveth, that brought up the child-
     ren of Israel out of the land of Egypt,' but: as the L--d liveth,
     that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the
     north, and from all the countries whither He had driven them';
     and I will bring them back into their land that I gave unto their
                          Jeremiah, Chapter 16,23

Also, after their return to the Land, at some future time, G-d would establish His Annointed One to rule over them as a united nation.

     "But they shall serve the L--d their G-d, And David their king,
     whom I will raise up unto them."
                            Jeremiah, Chapter 30

     "Behold, the days come, saith the L--d, that I will raise unto
     David a righteous shoot, and he shall reign as king and prosper,
     and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his
     days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely." Jeremiah,
                                      Chapter 23

   "And I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains
     of Israel, and one king shall be king of them all; and they shall
     no more be two nations, neither shall they be divided into two
     kingdoms any more at all."
                            Ezekiel, Chapter 37

But it was not only the prophets who held out hope and sustained the exiles in the land of their dispersion. A new type of leader also emerged, the scribe. He was a disciple of both the priests and the prophets. Learned in the scriptures, he taught the people from the Torah and the prophets, exhorting them to remain faithful to G-d and to the idea that they were a holy people, separate from the Babylonians who were presently their temporal masters. The scribe collected and distributed the sacred writings among the people, and acted as their spiritual guide when they convened together on Sabbaths and festivals at the newly created religious gathering center, the synagogue. The continuation on the part of the Jews of Babylon to rest from work on the Sabbath and on the biblical festivals, as well as their commemor-ation of the day of the Temple's destruction on the 9th day of the month of Av, served to hold them together as a distinct people in their exile. They has discovered what no other people of that time had discovered. It is possible to serve G-d even when one is removed from His special Land as long as one has hope, and because of who they were and because of their history and their past relationship with the Judge of all the earth, they continued to keep the messianic hope alive, a hope not only for the redemption of Israel but for all of humanity.

Years passed and the mighty Babylonian empire remained unchallenged in its might and in its imperial rule over many nations. The Jews continued living their day to day mundane lives, waiting for a sign from heaven, as three generations from the destruction of the Holy City passed. Finally that sign appeared. Among the leaders of the Jewish community in Babylon, was the visionary, Daniel. As a little boy he had been one of the exiles carried off to Babylon from Judah. Now, already a old man, he had gained the reputation as one of the wise men of Babylon. One night during one of the banquets of the king, a mysterious writing appeared on the wall of the royal dining room. The king ordered Daniel brought to him to interpret the super-natural "writing on the wall". Daniel appeared at the command of the king and seeing the divine message, exclaimed:

   "This is the interpretation of the thing:...G-d hath numbered
      thy kingdom and finished it...Thou art weighed in the balances,
      and art found wanting...Thy kingdom is divided, and given to
      the Medes and Persians."
                             Daniel, Chapter 5

In the year 539 BCE, the vision of Daniel came to pass. Babylon was defeated and crushed by the Persians. The Babylonian gods had proved not to be so mighty after all. Cyrus the Great became ruler of the new world empire. Cyrus was looked upon favorably by the Jews. Isaiah calls him both G-d's Shepherd(44.28) and G-d's Annointed (MESHIACH) (45:1). Within two years of his defeat of Babylon, he gave the Jews permission to return to Judah and rebuild their Temple.

      "Thus sayeth Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth
      hath the L--d G-d of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to
      build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is
      there among you of all his people? The L--d his G-d be with
      him, and let him go up."
                              Chronicles 36:23

Daniel not only prophesied the downfall of Babylon but also the downfall of the other kingdoms which would exercise hegemony over Israel. It is in this connection that he adds to our understanding of what the Jews expected of a messiah. In chapter 2 of his book, he outlines in brief detail the coming of three other kingdoms after Babylon (Persia, Greece, and Rome). Then he tells of a final kingdom sent by G-d Himself:

      "And in the days of these kings shall the G-d of heaven set up a
      kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall
      not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and
      consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever."
                                Daniel 2:44

Again, in chapter 7, he describes these kingdoms which shall be overthrown, and there he represents the kingdoms as animals; lion, bear, leopard, and some unknown beast, "dreadfull and terrible...diverse from all the beasts that were before it."                          
                                Daniel 7:4-7

After the description of these beasts he continues:
      "I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of
      man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient
      of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was
      given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all
      people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his
      dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass
      away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed...But
      the saints of the most High sall take the kingdom, and
      possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever...and all
      dominions shall shall serve and obey him."
                            Daniel 7:13,14,18,27

This "Son of man" coming down from the clouds is none other than the people of Israel who are described as a "human being" (Heb. son of man) in contradistinction to the four kingdoms which are described as beasts. Here, Daniel expects the whole people of Israel to be the messiah. However, within a very short time,  de-spite the fact that the Jews knew that the Hebrew idiom "son of man" means nothing more than "human being", they began to invest this symbolic heavenly figure with a distinct persona, and to identify it with the messiah.  Thereafter, the expressions "Son of David" and "Son of man" become synonomous.

Surely there must have been many living in Daniel's time who felt that they would pass away long before the defeat of the four kingdoms. THEY would not live to see the Son of man coming with the clouds of heaven nor dominion given to the saints of the most High. THEY were hearing these prophesies but would be robbed of the joy of seeing their fullfillment and of partaking of the great-ness of the messianic age. For them, Daniel has words of comfort.

      " that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that
      shall be found written in the book. And many of them that
      sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to ever-
      lasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."
                               Daniel 12:1,2

Here for the first time is the explicit expression of eternal life on earth for the righteous (those written in G-d's book). Yes, this generation will die out but at the end of days, when the messiah comes, the people of G-d shall be resurrected. They shall see the messiah and share in an everlasting kingdom of G-d on earth.

The visions of Daniel represent something new in the religious and messianic thinking of the Jewish people, - apocalyptic, visions of the future of Israel and of the world on a grand, cosmic scale; visions of the "end of days" in which Israel is elevated to "saint-hood" to share in the glory of dominion along with the Son of man who comes flying down from the heavens to vanquish the enemies of G-d and of Israel. In the following centuries, the book of Daniel gave rise to many imitators who composed many apocalypses of their own. We have their writings in the books of the Apocrypha ("hidden writings") and the Pseudepigrapha ("false writings") which were never accepted into the canon of Jewish scripture but which never-theless made an impact on the relgious attitudes of the Jewish people, and which greatly influenced the thinking of John the Baptist, Jesus the Nazarene, and those who followed them. But the theology found in the book of Daniel also made its way into the Talmud and the Midrash, that is, into mainstream Jewish religious and messianic thought.

The Jews returned to Judea (Judah). Persia allowed Zerub-babel, a descendant of David's, and Joshua the High Priest to assume the leadership of the Jewish people. Many Jews must have believed that the golden messianic age would begin very soon and that Zerubbabel would be the promised messiah. Persia, however, fearing that Zerubbabel would revolt and proclaim himself an in-dependent king of the Judea, deposed him shortly and Joshua be-came the sole Jewish leader in Judea.

After the return from Babylon, the prophet Zechariah spoke to the Jews about the glorious future awaiting them. He, like Daniel, speaks about the overthrow of kingdoms after which the Annointed One will come. But, unlike Daniel, he adds that many nations shall come seeking the G-d of Israel. Also, unlike Daniel, his vision of the messiah's coming is quite serene in its simpli-city.

      "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout O daughter of
      Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just,
      and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and
      upon a colt the foal of an ass."
                                Zechariah 9:9

This king-messiah is meek; he will abolish war and speak peacefully to the nations he rules over (9:10).

Presently I shall discuss how the Jews could believe that the messiah could be a human being "lowly, and riding upon an ass" and yet, at the same time, a pre-existent celestial being being "coming with the clouds of heaven."

In the year 517 B.C.E., the Jews began the building of the second Temple in Jerusalem. The Samaritans offered to help in the rebuilding but their offer was rejected by the Jews. By that act, a mutual bitterness that may have existed before turned into an enmity that continued to grow over the centuries.


It would be well, at this point, to give a brief resume of who the Samaritans are since they figure rather conspicuously in the gospel story.

The Samaritans, a people presently living near Mount Gerizim in Israel, claim their descent from the northern tribes of Israel which made up the later Kingdom of Israel whose capital was at Shechem (later called Samaria). If they are descended from some of the northern tribes then their feeling of ill-will against the Jews may possibly be traced back to the time when the Ark of the Covenant was moved by the high priest Eli from the city of Shechem to Shiloh. There seems to have been some sort of animosity between the northern Israelites and the people of Judah even during the reign of Solomon in whose time all the tribes had already been united. That union was short lived when, after the death of Solomon, the kingdom split in two. We are told in First Kings 16:24 that the Israelite king Omri bought the hill of Shemer and built upon it his new capital which he named after Shemer, Samaria. After the northern kingdom was destroyed by Assyria, the conquerors carried away the tribes of Israel and resettled them in foreign lands. The Assyrians then repopulated the north of Israel with foreigners. The tale is told in Second Kings 17.

      "And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from    
      Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Shepharvaim,
      and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the child-   
      ren of  Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the   
      cities thereof. And so it was at the beginning of their dwell-
      ing there, that they feared not the L--d: therefore the L--d   
      sent lions among them, which slew some of them. Wherefore they
      spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou  
      hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not    
      the manner of the G-d of the land: therefore he hath sent lions
      among them, and behold, they slay them...Then the king of    
      Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests
      whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there,
      and let him teach them the manner of the G-d of the land.
      Howbeit every nation made gods of their own...They feared
      the L--d, and served their own gods...Unto this day they do
      after the former manners: they fear not the L--d, neither
      do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or
      after the law and commandment which the L--d commanded the
      children of Jacob, whom he named Israel...So these nations
      feared the L--d, and served their graven images, both their
      children, and their children's children: as did their
      fathers, so do they unto this day."
                                Second Kings 17:24-29,33-34,41

Based on these verses, Jewish tradition has looked upon the Samaritans as insincere aspiring converts to Judaism who acted as opportunists when it suited them but who never really were Jews even though their ancestry may have included some remnant of the northern Israelite tribes who were not deported from the land by the Assyrians.

Apparently upon the return of the Jews from Babylon, there was some sort of dispute between Zerubbabel and the Samaritan high priest. Over the years, relations between Jews and Samaritans continued to worsen. The latter accused the scribe Ezra of having changed the text of the Torah. They also were angered that the Jews brought back the Assyrian alphabet from Babylon and substituted it for the earlier Canaanite alphabet which they, the Samaritans, continued to employ. As stated, the rejection of the Samaritan offer to help in the rebuild-of the Temple was a watershed in Jewish-Samaritan relations. After that the bitterness turned into an open feud.  When, in the year 128 BCE, the Jewish king, John Hyrcanus, captured the city of Samaria (Shechem) he destroyed the temple that the Samaritans had built on Mount Gerizim. In revenge, the Samaritans continuously interfered with the pilgrim-ages to Jerusalem and with the celebrations of the Jewish festivals. Jewish-Samaritan antipathy continued into the middle ages, at which time, the Samaritan community began to weaken and decline as a result of constant harrassment by the Moslem majority living in the Holy Land. They were completely disregarded as a minority by the Turks, and by the 19th century their welfare and their needs, vis-a-vis the the ruling Ottomans were looked after by the Jewish community in Palestine who acted as their agents to the Turkish government until the defeat of Turkey by the British in 1917. Upon the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, those Samaritans living within the borders of Israel began to receive humane treatment as citizens for the first time in centuries. After the Six Day War in 1967, this was extended to the Samaritan community which had been under the jurisdiction of Jordan for 19 years.

      It is not surprising to learn that the Samaritans have expected a messiah of their own. He is called the Taeb which means "he who re-turns" or "he who brings about redemption". The Samaritans believe that he will restore the true Torah (which they believe has become corrupted) and will convert the world, including the Jews, to the Samaritan religion. They believe that they are the "true Israel"; consequently they believe that their religion is the true Israelite religion. As to the Taeb, he is to be a descendant, not of the Judean David, but of the Israelite Joseph. That the Jews also believe there will be a Messiah descended from Joseph, who will be slain in the final battle of Gog and Magog before the Davidic Messiah comes to end the final war and bring a reign of peace, may be relevent here and the Taeb may be a reflection of Messiah ben Joseph. On the other hand, the belief in the Taeb may have risen in the north independent of any Judean influence. It is further interesting to note that, at least in one place in the New Testament, the Davidic descent of the messiah is brought into question by the gospel writer:

     "And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple,
     How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David? For David
     himself said by the Holy Ghost, The L--d said to my Lord, Sit
     thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.
     David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then  
     his son? And the common people heard him gladly."
                            Mark 12:35-37

Who are meant by "the common people"? (** see footnote below) Are they Galileans who, in contradistinction to the southern Judeans, also believed they were descended from the northern tribes? We are also told that some Jews were incredulous that Jesus should seriously be considered as the messiah because of his origin ("Shall Christ come out of Galilee?" John 7:41).

It is also interesting to note that there is no absolute proof that the man whom Rabbi Akiba claimed to be the messiah, Bar Kochba, was a desendant of king David. Jewish tradition merely ASSUMES he was for no other reason than that Rabbi Akiba believed him to be the messiah.

Another point of interest in this regard is the story of Jesus' journey into Samaria, a place that Jews usually avoided. The Gospel According To John relates that many of the Samaritans believed in him and besought him to dwell with them (John 4:39-40). Again, the same gospel writer reports that some Jews asserted that not only was he not the messiah but that his Jewishness itself was open to ques-tion ("Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan?" John 8:48). And lastly, we have the story of the "Good Samaritan" itself in which the Jews are made to appear less kindly than their nortehrn neigh-bors to say the least.


In 516 BCE, the building of the Temple was completed. It was modest in comparison with the first Temple, not at all resembling the rebuilt Temple pictured in the book of Ezekiel. It was another sign that the messianic age still had not dawned.

Approximately a generation after the completion of the Temple, a man was sent by the Persians to oversee conditions in the Holy Land. He was Ezra, a priest and a scribe. In effect he had the poli-tical power of a Persian administrator and became the leader of the Jewish people in that generation. Ezra found a high rate of intermarriage in Judea. So pervasive had it become that the children of the unions between Jews and non-Jews did not even speak Hebrew. Ezra saw this condition as a major impediment to the redemption of Israel and tried to force the intermarried couples to separate. This plan was not entirely successful but it nevertheless caused bad blood between the Jews and non-Jews living in the land.

About 20 years later, Nehemiah, the king's advisor was sent to Judea and appointed military governor there. He teamed up with Ezra and enacted laws forcing the inhabitants of the land to observe Torah laws, especially the laws of the Sabbath. In time, both men established the Torah as the constitution of the land and succeeded in putting a stop to intermarriage.

The advent of Ezra and Nehemiah marks a period of transition in the religious life of the Jews. It was the end of the age of the prophets and the beginning of the age of the scribes and the men who would later become known as rabbis. A prophet lived at this time who has something to tell us about the messiah and his times. He is the last of the prophets.

Malachi also complains about the religious slackness of the people. The priests are remiss in their Temple duties and they are among those who have taken foreign wives. Therefore the people are in a low state and he calls upon them to repent before the coming of the messiah. To help them in their repentence, G-d will send His messenger who will be the fore-runner of the messiah.

 "Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded
      unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and
      judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet be-  
      fore the coming of the great and dreadful day of the L--d:  
      and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children,
      and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come
      and smite the earth with a curse."
                              Malachi 4:4-6   

After the death of Ezra and Nehemiah, a century of peace and quiet prevailed in Judea. Through the period of 450 BCE to 350 BCE, it continued as a theocracy ruled by the high priest. The scribes thoroughly taught the scriptures to the people, encouraged knowlege and enacted laws, advanced the development of the synagogue, led discussions of the Torah that developed into what has become known as the Oral Law, and instituted something very new in the history of nations, - formal conversion to the religion of Israel which meant total integration into the people of Israel. By the year 350 BCE, the territory of Judea had expanded by reason of the con-version of many gentiles living in the area.

Ironically, as the nations in the area were weakening their identities, the Jews were growing as a people and becoming stronger in their own identity and religion. The stage was being set for the arrival of the messiah. Unfortunately his time still had not come. Very shortly, Daniel`s third kingdom, the Greeks, would dominate the Middle East. The gentiles would lose their identities completely to Hellenism; the Jews would fight Hellenism and triumph.

In 334 BCE, Alexander the Great came to the middle east. His forces quickly conquered Persia and Egypt. Unlike the kings of Babylonia and Persia, Alexander wished to impose a foreign culture on the conquered peoples. He built new cities and encouraged Greeks to settle in them. Within one generation, the middle east was on its way to Hellenization.

Very shortly after his triumph in the east, Alexander died and his generals quarreled over the conquered lands. Ptolemy gained con-trol of Egypt and Seleucis of Syria. The land of Israel remained in dispute until Ptolemy seized it. Seleucis acquiesed but the Seleucids never gave up claim to it.

The Greeks opened up the Mediterranean to trade and commerce and the Jews, along with other easterners, sought new opportunities in the west. Jewish settlements were established along the Mediter-ranean coasts and on the Green islands. Thus began the western Jew-ish diaspora. Those Jews that left the land of Israel picked up Greek learning and became acculturated to Greek civilization. But acculturation did not signify assimilation. They kept themselves aloof from complete integration into pagan Hellenized civilization. Because of their religious obligations and need for mutual support, they formed their own communities in the Greek speaking cities in which they lived. Within two or three generations, these diaspora communities were no longer able to speak or understand Hebrew or Aramaic. Probably for this reason, they wished to have the scrip-tures translated into Greek. This took place in Egypt, probably in Alexandria, between 288 and 247 BCE. There is a legend that the translation had been requested by Ptolemy Philadelphius who collect-ed the philosophical literature of his subject people for his own personal library. The translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek became known as the Septuagint because it was said that it was performed by 70 (some say 72) scribes. Now, for the first time, the Jewish "bible" became accessible to any literate person in the Hellenized world, and it was read avidly by Jew and cultured pagan alike, thus spreading the knowledge of biblical Judaism outside of the land of Israel.

The land of Israel itself was becoming more and more Hellen-ized as new Greek cities arose in its midst, and the culture and philosophical and religious ideas of the Greeks intruded themselves. However, the common people of Judea would not take part in a culture that they considered to be heathen and immoral. The scribes had done their job well. But the upper classes among the Jews in Jerusalem, fearing ridicule and animosity from the surrounding non-Jewish pop-ulations, had no compunctions about Judea appearing as Greek as any other country in the Hellenized world, and they began to imitate the ways and customs of the Greeks.

In 198 BCE, the Seleucid Antiochus III forcibly took control of the land of Israel from the Ptolemys. Rome, which was becoming the undisputed military power in the known world, forced the Sel-eucids to pay tribute money. To accomplish this, the Seleucids began to levy higher taxes on the subject peoples. They even hoped to con-fiscate the money in the Temple at Jerusalem. To this end, Antiochus installed a certain Hellenophile named Jason as the high priest, thereby effectively seizing complete control of Judea. They began a systematic process of increasing the Greek style of life into the country. Finding the pace of Hellenization too slow for their liking, they removed Jason and installed an individual named Menalaus who was more interested in his own ambition than in Jewish tradition. In order to pay for his appointment, he not only used the Temple treasury but even sold some of the holy vessels. The common people were so outraged by this that they regarded Menalaus as much of an enemy as Antiochus. This had been the first time that a gentile government had tampered with the office of the high priesthood and had allowed the robbery of the Temple treasury. Antiochus, wishing to quash any possible rebellion before it could start, now decided to FORCE Hellenization on the common people. He forbade the observance of the Sabbath and the practice of circumcision, placed an image of Zeus in the Temple, and ordered pigs to be brought to it as sacrifice. Judaism was declared illegal and this resulted in the death of thousands of martyrs among the common people. Shortly a revolt against the Hellenizers broke out in Judea. Its leader, Judah Maccabee (the Hammer) conducted a guerrilla war against the heathen to which the people rallied. The Hellenizers realized that they were being confronted with a full-blown rebellion. In battle after battle, the citizen army of Judah proved victorious. Finally Antiochus sent an expedition against the rebels. This Syrian force, augmented by Hellenized Jews, fought against Judah's army and was defeated. Judah now entered Jerusalem in triumph and cleansed the Temple pagan defilement, and rededicated it to the service of the G-d of Israel. Thus on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev in the year 165 BCE, the first celebration of the holiday of Hanukkah (Dedication) took place.

The Maccabees were now in control of Jerusalem and eventually gained control of all Judea. Upon his death, Judah was succeeded by his brother Jonathan as leader of the nation.During his leadership, a civil war broke out among the Syrians. Each side solicited his help but he aided neither side and just waited as they weakened and destroyed each other. With the Seleucids now in a weakened state, Judea stood unopposed. Judah, before his death, had sent an embassy to Rome to secure the friendship of the senate. Jonathan now sent a second embassy. The Romans did not particularly love the Jews but they hated the Syrians, and therefore the senate renewed its pledge of friendship which prevented the Syrians from troubling Judea again.

Jonathan now began to feel the exhilaration of power. He sent his army to the Phillistine coast and annexed it to Judea. He en-hanced the influence of the scribes and helped intensify the reli-gious life. He brought prosperity to Judea. Upon his death, he was succeeded by his brother Simon, a pious man who was scrupulous in the execution of his office as national leader.

Under the leadership of the three Hasmonean brothers, the people were content. They did not consider any of the Hasmoneans to be the messiah yet neither did they seem to mind that their Maccabean rulers were not of the house of David.

During this Greek period in the history of the Jewish people, a considerable amount of messianic-related literature was produced which further influenced Jewish popular thinking regarding the messiah and his times. Foremost among this literary output are the books of the Pseudepigraha. They are called Pseudepigrapha because their authorship is ascribed to holy men long since dead, i.e., biblical heroes, who supposedly had written them as prophecies con-cerning the present Hellenistic times or immediate future. The material contained within them relates to the appearance of the messiah or Son of man who will engage in a final global war with the enemies of Israel. These enemies are variously referred to as Gog and Magog (see the book of Ezekiel), or the Children of Darkness, or, simply, The Nations (Goyyim). Because the great final battle is supposed to occur in an area of Israel called the Mountains of Megiddo, the war is sometimes called the war of Har Megiddon, elided to Armageddon (see the book of Revelations, chapter 16). This final war is part of something called "birthpangs of the messiah" in which one catastrophe after another will occur to the Jewish people until finally G-d will reveal Himself by direct intervention through the sending of His messiah who will save Israel, vanquish her foes, est-ablish G-d's kingdom on earth, resurrect the dead, bring the wicked to G-d for His judgment, and establish everlasting peace.

Although there is the tradition that the appearance of the messiah is to be rather undramatic, that is, he will come to the Jewish people modestly, riding a donkey, the authors of the books of the Pseudepigrapha seem to have been more influenced by the tradition generated by Daniel's Son of Man. They portray the Son of man as being near to G-d and as having been created before the creation of the world. He will descend from the heavens with power, and lead the chosen people, here called the Children of Light, against the oppressors of Israel, called the Children of Darkness, and will vanquish them in the last apocaplypse. Then he will gather in the dispersed of Israel and resurrect the dead.

Although the books of the Pseudepigrapha were rejected by the Jews who continued to be mistreated by the Greek Syrians, some of the ideas of the Pseudepigrapha found their way into the Talmud. The Talmud takes the idea that the messiah was pre-existent before the creation of the world and interprets it to mean that the NAME of the messiah was created before the world and that his personality was already known to G-d. (This implies that a NEED for a messiah was known by G-d before he created man who brought about that need). Since the messiah's essence was pre-existent, it is therefore poss-ible that he could come either in a human form (riding on a donkey) or in some sort of angelic form "with the clouds of heaven". The determining factor of HOW he would come would be dependant on the behaviour of Israel. "Rabbi Joshua said: If they are worthy, with the clouds of heaven; if they are not worthy, riding on an ass."

Christianity worked this dual theme of the messiah's coming into TWO comings. In his first appearance on earth, the Christian messiah comes to Jerusalem riding on an ass. This is the well-known story of Palm Sunday (Jewish tradition says that the messiah will come on a Sunday; he cannot come on the Sabbath since that would mar the Sabbatical peace, hence he comes at the next earliest pos-sible time which is the first day of the week). In his second com-ing, which is at the time of Armageddon, also known to Christians as the Rapture, he will descend from heaven as the Son of man.

 "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he
     that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in
     righteousness he doth judge and make war...And the armies
     which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed
     in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth
     a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and
     he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the
     winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty G-d."
                          Revelations, Chapter 19

    "Jesus saith...I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the
     Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming
     in the clouds of heaven."
                          Matthew 26:64; (see also Mark 14:61,
                          Luke 22:69, Acts 1:9, and Acts 7:56)

As to the birth pangs of the messiah, that is, the time im-mediately preceeding his coming, we are given a vivid description in tractate Sanhedrin of the Talmud.

    "In the generation when the son of David will come, scholars will
be few in number, and as for the rest, their eyes will fail through
sorrow and grief. Multitudes of trouble and evil decrees will be pro-
mulgated anew, each new evil coming with haste before the other has
ended...the house of assembly will be a place of harlots, Galilee will
be in ruins, the border inhabitants will wander from city to city re-
ceiving no hospitality, the wisdom of the scribes will be in disfavor,
G-d-fearing people will be despised, people will have the faces of
dogs (brazen), and truth will be entirely lacking...young men will
insult the old, and old men will stand before the young (in contra-
diction to the Torah rule that the young must rise before the aged);
daughters will rise up against their mothers, and daughters-in-law
against their mothers-in-law...a son will not be abashed in his
father`s presence...impudence will increase...the world will be con-
verted to a heretical religion...people will despair of the redemp-
                        Sanhedrin 97a

The New Testament has its own reflection of this description of the days of the birth pangs of the messiah.

 "And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the
     father the child: and the children shall rise up against their
     parents, and cause them to be put to death...Think not that I
     am come to send peace on earth: I come not to send peace, but
     a set a man at variance against his father, and the
     daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against
     her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own
                       Matthew 10:21,34-36

Simon died in the year 135 BCE and was suceeded by his son, John Hyrcan. The children of the aristocratic Hellenizers decided to support him rather than rely on Syria anymore. Due to internal problems, Syria had no choice but to accept the status quo, and recognized John's government. Shortly thereafter, the Hellenizers disappeared from Jewish history.

Hyrcan felt that he ought to continue the policy of his uncle Jonathan to expand the borders of Judea in order to prevent the Jewish nation from atrophying. He conquered Idumea (Edom) which lay to the south in the Negev dessert. For many centuries there had been bitter enmity between the Jews and the Edomite ancestors of the Idumeans. To put an end to this, and to ensure the loyalty of the Idumeans, he forced them to convert to Judaism. There must have been many people who saw the irony of a man who was descended from a family which had fought for the religious freedom of its people, now denying religious freedom to a people he had conquered. Be that as it may, in time to come the Idumeans became loyal Jews, and zealots for the Jewish religion.

Hyrcan found himself surrounded by sympathizers who felt that the land of Israel had for too long a period of time been half pagan. Now, they felt, Jews must conquer and destroy paganism, or else paganism would eventually destroy Judaism.

It was during the reign of Hyrcan that two religio-political parties arose in Judea. The religious leaders known as scribes developed into the party known as Pharisees. The name "Pharisee" is based upon a Hebrew word which means "to separate", signifying separation from all those who did not subscribe to their tradition of the divine revelation. Hence their name means something like "Separatists" or "Opponents" or "Protestors". But it was not only a variant Judaism that they separated themselves from, but from the greed and political ambition of the ruling class as well. Since the time of Ezra, the scribes had taught the common people the Torah and had been the champions of the common people. Now, as a party, the Pharisees continued as the popular party, the people rallying around them and heeding their instructions. The other party, the Sadducees, was the party of aristocracy and the upper order of the priesthood. The name "Sadducee" may be based on the proper name, Zadok, who was the ancestor of the current high priests, but there is no conclusive evidence of its actual meaning.

A major point of distinction between these two parties was the way in which they viewed the spread of Judaism. The Pharisees saw the Torah as the way of life for the Jewish nation and sought to spread the influence of Torah to the surrounding heathen by means of religious persuasion. The Sadducees, on the other hand, saw the Torah as an instrument, a means of control, to be imposed on those nations which Judea conquered. They wished to control subjugated populations by Judaization in the same manner in which the Greeks sought to control by Hellenization.

The Sadducees looked upon the commandments of the Torah as laws to be strictly and LITERALLY observed as the constitution of the state. It was to be dictated by the priesthood. The Pharisees looked upon the commandments as PRINCIPLES to be applied liberally to every aspect of day to day life. They insisted that the written Torah was not the complete revelation, but that it had been supplemented by an oral revelation handed down as a tradition from generation to generation, from Moses, through the prophets, through the scribes, to the men of their day. The oral tradition augmented and CLARIFIED the written Law, and explained how the written Law was to be implemented. It was not merely to be dictated to the nation. It required thorough study on the part of all Jews.

The children of Hyrcan, raised as royalty, began to identify more and more with the aristocracy and the Sadducean party. Conversely, they began to disdain the Pharisees. They extended the boundaries of Jewish control to almost all of the land of Israel, including Galilee and Transjordan, forcing the Ammonites, Moabites, and Galileans to convert to Judaism on pain of death. Hyrcan's son, Alexander Janai, treated the Pharisees cruelly, killing many of them for real or imagined disloyalty. The fact that the Sadducees supported him unconditionally caused a lasting rift between them and the Pharisees which was never healed.

Upon the death of Alexander Janai, his wife, Alexandra Salome, assumed the reins of government. Being a Pharisaic sympathizer, she gathered the Pharisees around her as advisors, removing the Sadducees from their positions of power in the Sanhedrin (the Supreme Court of Israel), and replaced them with Pharisees. Assuming power, the Pharisees ended the policy of conquest and forced conversions. The Pharisees were eager for converts, but insisted that the pagans must be won over by persuasion and reason, and that the mission to proselytize must be a mission to individual gentiles, not to nations. Their success was not only proven by the large number of converts that they gained for the Jewish nation, but also by the fact that many pagans, who did not officially convert, came to constitute a group, both inside and outside the land of Israel, known as "G-d Fearers" (Heb. YIREY HASHEM). These were gentiles who gave up their pagan ways and took on certain obligations such as resting on the Sabbath and observing the Torah dietary laws. Many of them even attended synagogue and studied the Torah with the scribes. In many cases, although they themselves did not feel able to take on the whole responsibility of the Jewish religion, they had their young children and infants converted. (It was largely from this group of Heaven Fearing gentiles that Christianity was to acquire its first adherents). The Pharisees also established a universal education system in which every Jew had the right to learn Israel's written and oral traditions. Although this was extended to all Jews, it was mainly taken advantage of by city and town folk. Rural people and farmers found themselves with very little time, during the course of the year, to attend religious education. Thus, a sub-class emerged among the Jewish people known as AM-HA'ARETS (literally "people of the land") who were looked down upon by later generations for their inability to conduct themselves properly regarding Torah observance due to their lack of Torah learning. In time, the expression AM-HA' ARETS came to mean, not only illiterate peasants, but any Jew who refused to set aside time to learn the ways of Judaism and remained religiously ignorant. It has been suggested by many, whether correct or not, that Jesus the Nazarene attracted to himself people mainly from this class of Jewish society.

Alexandra Salome ruled Judea from 76 to 67 BCE. During this time there was peace in the land but continued resentment from the upper classes and the Sadducees. Upon her death, a civil war broke out between her sons, Hyrcan and Aristobulus. The war was won by Aristobulus who promptly raised the status of the Sadducees once more. This very war brought about the arrival, into the Jewish world, of Daniel's fourth and final kingdom - Rome.

At this time an Idumean Jew by the name of Antipater rose to prominence. An adept opportunist, Antipater befriended Hyrcan and persuaded him to rebel against Aristobulus, involving Judea in yet a second civil war. This coincided with the entry of the Roman army, under Pompey, into Syria which he turned into a Roman provence. Remembering that Rome had several times declared itself a friend of the Jews, both sides in the civil war appealed to Pompey to arbitrate the fight. Acting as Hyrcan's messenger, Antipater told Pompey that a decision in favor of Hyrcan would mean virtual Roman control of Judea. Pompey did not hesitate. He marched his army south into Judea and headed for Jerusalem. In the city, neither of the brothers would open the gates to him, but within a short time the Romans forced their way in. Choosing neither side and killing indiscriminately, the Roman army attacked the Temple. Once the Temple had been seized, Pompey himself entered into the Holy of Holies, both to see what treasures were cached there and to see if the Jews really did not worship images.

Ultimately, Pompey made the following decisions: Hyrcan would become, not king, but ethnarch of the Jews, including the Jews of the diaspora and Judea would be incorporated into the provence of Syria; Hyrcan would be a puppet ruler while the real ruler would be Antipater, a man Rome could trust; Antipater's son Phasel would be governor of Jerusalem, and his son Herod would be governor of Galilee.

Now that the fourth beast had appeared, the Jews may have thought that it was the proper time for the Son of man to arrive and redeem them but as he did not, there arose a popular rebellion as in the time of Judah Maccabee. The rebels took to the mountains to conduct a guerrilla war against the Romans. Rome looked upon these national liberationists as brigands and murderers. In fact, the Romans gave these men the Greek name LESTAS which means "highwayman" or "brigand", and hunted them down without pity. It is important to note here that Jesus was crucified along with two other men whom the New Testament Greek calles "LESTAS", incorrectly translated by the King James as "theives". Antipater and Herod both helped the Romans pursue and capture many of these rebels, making themselves odious in the eyes of the Jewish people.

Shortly thereafter, there followed several civil wars among the Romans, Caesar against Pompey; Brutus and Cassius against Mark Anthony and Octavius. Antipater and Herod always managed to switch loyalties, and side with the winners, allying themselves with Rome against their own Jewish brethren. Thus they came to be hated as traitorous tools of Rome. Ultimately, Herod killed off the last members of the Hasmonean family, and the Roman senate had him pro-claimed as king of Judea. With the end of the Hasmonean dynasty came the end of Judean independence. The Jews now had a king by the grace of the Roman government, a king who not only was not of the family of David but who was thorougly hated as a ruthless individual and champion for everything against which the Torah stood.



The region of northern Israel known as HaGalil ("the Circle") was originally settled by the tribes of Asher and Naphtali but by the time of the prophet Isaiah it was referred to as GALIL HAGOYIM, Galilee of the Gentiles (Isaiah 9:1), the inference being that it had become an area settled mainly by non-Jews. From the period of the Assyrian destruction of Samaria to the advent of Hellenism it became even less Jewish as pagan cities were founded within it by the different empires which exercised control over it. But during the reign of John Hyrcan, Galilee was conquered and Judaism was imposed on its inhabitants. In a very short time, the Galileans developed a very strong loyalty to the Torah. Galilee is not only famous for its Christian religious associations but for its Jewish religious associations as well. After the final Jewish revolt against Rome in 134 CE, the Jewish religious center moved north and eventually Tiberias and Sfat, situated near lake Kinneret, known as the Sea of Galilee to Christians, became two of the holiest cities in the land of Israel. Galilee became home to many famous rabbis. The tomb of Maimonides is found there, and it is in Galilee that the Mishna was edited.

Messianic longing became very strong in Galilee and out of her towns and villages there arose the most zealous fighters of the Roman wars. Among them were Judas the Galilean who founded the Zealot move-ment, his grandson Menahem who became prominent in the war of 66 CE, and another descendant, Elazar the Sicarus, who led the defense of Masada. Josephus refers to Judas the Galilean as a "brigand" or "bandit" which was the typical Roman name for rebels. From out of the Galilean resistance movement there also emerged men known as SICARII who mingled with the polulace and, using a short dagger known in latin as a SICA, dispached both Romans and Roman sympathizers. Sometimes there was a confusion between the two groups and the probability is that many Jews were Zealots as well as Sicarii. In documents of the period, the Zealots are sometimes simply called "Galileans". The gospel auther Luke tells his readers that Jesus' disciples informed him of the death of certain "Galileans":

    "There were present at that season some that told him of the Gal-
ilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices."
                            Luke 13:1

(This incidently gives us an insight to the REAL Pilate, not the mythical one portrayed as a saint in the passion narratives.)

The Romans did their utmost to find these Galileans and when they were captured they were sumarily crucified.

As a very young boy growing up in the Galilean village of Nazareth, Jesus could not have helped but to have been influenced by the self-sacrificing deeds of his fellow countrymen who fully believed that they were fighting G-d's fight just as Phineas the priest and Elijah the prophet had fought G-d's fight in their acts of zealotry. He must have seen hundreds of his fellow Galileans put on the cross by the hated Roman pagans who daily mocked the people of Israel and the G-d of Israel. Yet, he would have noted, crucifixion did not stop or deter them. The memory of the Maccabees inspired them with the belief that if they stood up and fought G-d's fight, then surely G-d would come to their aid and send His messiah to help defeat Rome. They belived beyond any doubt that G-d would not forsake them. The Romans might fill the land with crosses but in the end, G-d would raise the martyrs up again when the Son of David came.


In the year 6 CE, Rome placed Judea and Samaria under its won direct control without any intermediary Jewish governor. At that time it imposed a census on the Jews, which was the common practice of Rome whenever it incorporated a new territory, its purpose being to assess the degree of tribute it should impose. The imposition of a census was a further insult to the Jewish people not only because the Torah forbids Jews to be counted but also because it was a stark reminder that they were now fully under the power of a heathen master.

I have thus presented an unfolding of Jewish history both in the Biblical and post-Bilblical periods. Basically it is a history of failure. Man is a creature of G-d, created in His image, yet in his mind, not nearly G-d-like enough to restore the harmony that existed when he lived in imortal ignornance in Eden. His quest for knowledge led him away from G-d and yet G-d follows him, continually calling upon him to rise to his G-dlike potential. At times, he does rise but only to eventually fall again. Ultimately he seeks a royal leader, a man annointed by G-d to close the gap between G-d and man, thereby ending man's exile in this imperfect world and leading man back to an Eden of eternal peace and happiness.

** "the common people" - Perhaps the gospel writer wishes to denote something quite specific by this phrase. Does he, by his use of the
   idiom OKHLOS, intend to translate the Hebrew AM-HA'ARETS? This expression, in its most primitive, unadorned sense, means "people of    the land", "peasants", "simple folk". In later Rabbinic Jewish usage, it came to denote "uneducated people" or more negatively
   "ignorant and hence defiled" or "great unwashed". The idea here is that a religiously unlearned person cannot be trusted to carry out the    purifyingly ritual lifestyle of the good Jew. If AM-HA'ARETS is meant here, then the Evangelist may be engaging in another
   slap at the Pharisees, some of whom rejected this type of person, while contrasting the "Christian" attitude of universal acceptance.  
   This could be in complete connosance with how Judaism and Christianity have been traditionally viewed by both communities, viz, to be
   a good Jew, one must continually study more    and more in order to properly perform MITSVOT at a higher and higher level of excellence,
   while being a good Christian requires no deep learning at all, only "true belief".

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