Chapter Twenty Eight

                             TIME OF TROUBLE

       Peter was dead as were the two James', son of Zebedee and brother of
Jesus. Although the other original disciples' fate, at this time, is not
known (for the most part, the New testament disregards them), John the
Beloved Disciple lived still, presumably at Jerusalem. Yet he did not
succeed James as the new Nazarene leader. In true royal style, the Nazarene
scepter was passed to Jesus' cousin, Simeon son of Cleophas.

       From this point, we are on shaky ground when discussing the con-
tinuing history of Jesus' Jewish folowers. The gentile followers of Paul
eventually inherited the major continuity and became the guardians of
Orthodox Christian Tradition while the Nazarenes (later called Ebionites)
became a minority sect of heretics, heretical to both Jews and Christians.
Documentary evidence of the development of Ebionism is rather scarce, and
we must rely on the religious writings of both the Synagogue and the Church
for rare snips and allusions to it.

      We can safely assume that during the years 62 CE to 66 CE, the
Nazarenes were mostly successful in Judaizing the gentile communities that
Paul had set up, as well as planting other Nazarene communities. Paul
himself testifies that during his own imprisonment he saw the beginning of
the turning of his own convert communities to Torah Judaism and to the
"other Jesus" (the historical one) whom Paul claimed he did not know.

       Yet new rumblings and portents of the trouble to come between Rome
and Judea began to present problems for the Nazarenes as they did for all
other Jews. At the time that Simeon ben Cleophas was appointed viceroy of
the Assembly of the Faithfull, Nero gave appointment to a man who was to be
the worst Roman governor of Judea even out-stripping Pontius Pilate in that
distinction. That man was Gessius Florus, a reprobate who permitted all
kinds crimes to occur under his jurisdiction so long as he got his "cut".
Robberies and violence increased throughout the Holy Land, and Gessius
himself openly engaged in grand larceny whenever possible, including
appropriating Temple funds as he pleased. This added to the fuel of hatred
that Jews already felt to the Roman occupation, and Zealot membership and
activity increased, leading to more arrests and crucifixtions of Jews.
Towards the end of CE 64, construction work which had been on-going in the
Temple for over half a century suddenly ceased, throwing 18,000
construction workers out of work. The sudden increase in unemployment and
idleness in Jerusalem did not help the atmosphere as the Zealots could
always play on the discontent of men with no money and families hard to
feed, turning personal resentment into national patriotic resentment
against the Romans and their Sadducean accomplices. Towards the end of CE
64 and the beginning of CE 65, news of the mass killings of Jewish
messianists in Rome by Nero began to reach Judea, adding to the popular
rage. Even to a disinterested observer, it would seem that Rome was
deliberately goading the Jewish nation into an open rebellion. Jospehus
adds that Gessius himself ardently wished for a war to erupt so that he
might be able to better cover up his own indiscretions as governor. During
the half century in which Rome had ruled Judea, messianism had increased,
and many suspect that Rome sought an occasion to quash it by a display of
military might in which they might destroy all seditious Jewish groups,
both in the Homeland as well as in the diaspora, including Nazarenes and
Christians between whom they recognized no distinctions.

       Fearing an immanent outbreak of violence, two groups began to exodus
from Jerusalem during this time. Many Pharisees left for the city of Yavneh
where a prestigious Yeshiva, or learning academy had been established; and
perhaps as many Nazarenes sought sanctuary in the cities of Pella, Batanea,
and Hauran in Trans-jordan. Despite the fact that Brandon denies the
presence there of Jewish believers in Jesus at this time, the overwhelming
weight of scholarly opinion is that Nazarene colonies were planted in
Trans-jordan this early, chiefly in Pella, and all early Church fathers
agree to this.

      As emotionality between Jew and Roman rose, all natural phenomena
became invested with special meaning, including earthquakes, comets and
other "signs" of a coming apocalypse in which the Sons of Light would be
victorious over the Sons of Darkness, bringing about the long awaited
Kingdom of Heaven. Yet at the same trime, fear of destruction was also very
real else the departure of the Pharisees and the Nazarenes makes no sense.
There was a duality of reasoning involved. On the one hand, there was a
precedent for the triumph of the enemy in the memory of the Babylonian
destruction. On the other hand, that destruction had been prophesied by the
Isaiah and Jeremiah due to the idolatry of the people. But now the Jewish
people were no longer idolators. In fact the religious level was believed
to be high. Yet there is a very revealing story in the Talmud as to another
reason for the second destruction of Jerusalem and of the Temple, and the
much longer Exile. This is the story of Kamsta and Bar-Kamtsa.

       There lived in Jerusalem, a very wealthy man by the name of Kalba
Savua. This was not his actual name but a nick-name given to him by the
citizens of Jerusalem who looked upon him as a generous man. The name Kalba
Savua is an Aramaic name which means "Satisfied Dog", and he came by it in
this way. The home of Kalba Savua was open daily to the poor and the
beggars of Jerusalem who would come and eat and drink at his tables. In one
of the grand dining rooms of his mansion there were spread out many tables
full of food and drink to which any poor and hungry person could come and
sate himself. It is known to all that the dog is an animal that does not
ever seem to have enough food. Whereas other creatures eat what is
sufficient to maintain life and health, the dog eats beyond the point of
satiation. It was said that those who came to the home of Kalba Savua left
with enough food in them to satisfy even a dog. Thus was his generosity to
the poor legendary and wide-spread.

       It is this very magmanimosity of Kalba Savua that makes his
behaviour in the story of Kamtsa and Bar-Kamtsa even more bizarre, and
which shows that even the best well intentioned men of the day were not
living up to what the Torah demanded of its children.

       Now it happened that Kalba Savua's daughter was to be married and he
made a lavish wedding feast for her to which all the honorable men of
Jerusalem and all the Land of Israel were invited. These included the
leading sages and rabbis of the day since Kalba himself was considered to
be quite a Torah scholar who frequented the Yeshivah daily. Naturally all
the poor of the City were invited as well to share in the joy of the day.

       Kalba Savua had a dear friend by the name of Kamtsa to whom he sent
one of the very first invitations to his daughter's wedding. As bad fortune
would have it, the servant who was delivering the invitations mistakenly
delivered it to a man named Bar-Kamtsa. Now Bar-Kamtsa and Kalba Savua were
long-time sworn enemies, and having received this invitation, Bar-Kamtsa
naturally assumed that Kalba Savua wished to make peace between them.

       The day of the wedding came and Bar-Kamtsa arrived with a very
equisite and expensive gift. Looking around him, he could see the other
guests that hadbeen invited, the most important men and women in Jerusalem,
among them the leading rabbis and sages of the day. Bar-Kamtsa naturally
felt very good to have been invited to this very prestigious affair by
theperson he considered as his once enemy now turned friend, and he went to
seek out the host of the party.

       Seeing Kalba Savua, Bar-Kamtsa smilingly approached him with out-
stretched arms. When Kalba saw his hated enemy, here in his home, on the
very day of his daughter's wedding, he flew into a rage. "What are YOU
doing in my home?", he demandingly shouted. Bar-Kamtsa was taken aback.
"Why, you invited me to this wedding", he answered perplexed. "I did no
such thing", Kalba screamed at him. "Why would I invite my worst enemy to
my only daughter's wedding?", he sneered. Bar-Kamtsa began to stammer. "But
... but ... here is the invitation." He held out the invitation which Kalba
ripped from his hand. Looking at the invitation, Kalba immediately realized
that the servant had delivered it to the wrong man. Knowing that his enemy
now stood in his home and that his friend Kamtsa had never received the
invitation and would most assuredly interpret not being invited to his
friend's daughter's wedding as a grave insult, Kalba last wits left him,
and shouted to his servants, "Throw this man out! He is here by mistake
while my good friend Kamtsa has been slighted because of a stupid servant's

       Bar-Kamtsa was aware that all eyes in the room were staring in
disbelief that their host, the usually affable Kalba Savua, who never
turned away the most miserable beggar from his door, that this man was now
ordering his servants to bodily eject Bar-Kamtsa. Everyone knew that the
Tradition said that he who embarrasses his fellow in public, it is as
though he has committed murder (blood rushes to the face of the one who is
shamed and it is as though the one shaming has shed blood). Yet no one
spoke either because of the shock or because they did not want to confront
the host who had invited them.

       Bar-Kamtsa was sweating. He felt as though the entire world was
looking upon his shame. He said to Kalba, "Please do not throw me out and
shame me. I will pay for my own food and drink."  Kalba pointed at him and
replied, "Damn your money! Get out!". "Please", Bar-Kamtsa implored, "do
not shame me. I will pay for half the wedding." Kalba was trembling with
rage. "You dare to insult me with your money! Get out of my house now!"
Bar-Kamtsa realized that it was futile to beg but why should he allow
himself to be a victim of circumstance due to a mistake over which he had
had no control? He tried one more time to asuage the anger of Kalba.
"Listen to me, Kalba Savua. By shaming me you shame yourself and mar the
happinessof your daughter on her day. Do not put me to shame before all of
these people. Do not cast me out of your house like a dog. I will pay for
the entire wedding."  But Kalba had worked himself up to the point beyond
all rationality. He felt that his servant's mistake had made him look like
a fool in the eyes of all Jerusalem, and he became thoroughly unforgiving.
"You will insult me no more with your money", he hissed through clenched
teeth. "Get out!" With this, his servants grabbed Bar-Kamtsa and bodily
ejected him from the house and out of the gates.

       Bar-Kamtsa stood outside the gates, shaking with humiliation and
rage. He had stood in that house BEGGING not to be shamed in front of the
people of Jerusalem. By tomorrow the whole cit would know of the incident.
How would he ever again be able to hold his head up among men? And the
worst aspect of it all was the silence of the Sages. They had stood and
watched, and had said nothing. They hads watched a fellow Israelite put to
horrible shame and did NOTHING. This was the ultimate injustice. If the
leaders whom the people trusted allowed groundless hatred to abound and did
nothing - then they were not fit to lead, thought Bar-Kamtsa; if the people
whe were to love their fellow Jew as themselves treated him no better than
dirt, they were unworthy to dwell in G-d's holy City, and unworthy to
worship in His Temple. Jesus had sought to have the KHRUVIM on the Ark face
one another in love. But daily, in the streets of Jerusalem, there was
strife and contention, one group against another. Instead of rallying
togther to fight the common enemy, they fought each other. Where was the
love that the Torah demanded? Not in the home of the man who fed all the
beggars of Jerusalem, and not in the hearts of the leaders who allowed this
disgrace at a wedding feast. Bar-Kamtsa would have his revenge for this
infamy, and with it, a lesson would be learned. Groundless hatred was as
evil as idolatry, and the Temple had once been taken away from Israel
because of idolatry.

       Bar-Kamtsa went to Rome and was granted an audience with Caesar. He
said, Sire, the Jews will rebel against you. Caesar answered, we have no
reason to suspect their loyalty. Bar-Kamtsa said, Sire, you know that they
have promised to offer a sacrifice for your well-being in the Temple every
day. This you have granted them instead of making them sacrifice TO you as
every other nation does. Caesar said, Yes, and in so doing, they show us
their loyalty. Bar-Kamtsa said, Caesar -  they will begin the rebellion by
ceasing thedaily sacrifice in your honor. Caesar asked, How can you be sure
of this? Bar-Kamtsa said, You yourself, Caesar, ought send the sacrifice
that they offer for you. They will add insult to injury and refuse to offer
the sacrifice. Thus shall Caesar know that the rebellion has begun. Caesar
said, we will do what you have said; we will send a sheep for the
sacrifice. Said Bar-Kamtsa, I shall be most happy to deliver it to the
Temple myself, Sire. Thereupon Caesar had the finest sheep in his own
private flock brought to Bar-Kamtsa to deliver to Jerusalem in his name.
Bar-Kamtsa took leave of Caesar and sailed for Judea

       O  the way to Judea, Bar-Kamtsa committed the deed that led to the
destruction of Jerusalem and the long exile of Israel. He took his knife
and cut the lips of the sheep that Caesar had entrusted him to deliver as
his sacrifice. Thus the sheep was rendered unfit for sacrifice according to
the Torah which commands that a sacrifice may have no blemish. Bar-Kamtsa
arrived in Jerusalem as the special emissary of the emperor, bearing his
sacrificial gift. When the priests and the rabbis saw the now-blemished
animal they reacted with terror. Some believed that this was the final
insult of Rome to the G-d of Israel, the sending of a gift that was unfit.
When the knowledge became public, the people became angry. Led by the
Zealots, they cried out to the priests, Away with Caesar's insult to our
G-d. We will no longer offer the sacrifice for Rome. A curse upon Caesar.
We have no king but G-d. That day, the sacrifice for Rome ceased.
Bar-Kamtsa was satisfied that he would be revenged. When word reached Rome,
Nero dispatched Vespasian to put down the rebellion, and to destroy
Jerusalem if the people persisted in the revolt.

       Whether one believes this story to be the occaision of the
beginning of the war between Judea and Rome, or whether one believes the
death of James the TSADIK to be the occasision is not really important.
Both stories tell the same message, namely, that there existed
groundless hatred between Jew and Jew during that period, and the
religious leadership found itself  unable to deal with it. This
internicene strife increased once the war began, and contributed greatly
to the loss of it by the Jews and thereby to the eventual separation of
Judaism and Christinaity as two separate religions, and to the
inevitable disappearence of the Jewish followers of Jesus the Nazarene.

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