Rabbinic Judaism Inc. –

A Portable God for the World’s First Multinational Business

Jesus Never Existed – The Chosen People


email the author
Kenneth Humphreys

 


25.10.11

Home       Section      Complete list of articles       Search

 

 

 

"The Jews... embraced every opportunity of overreaching the idolaters in trade."

– Edward Gibbon (Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire)

 
 
 

Graven Images R Us!

In the 2nd and 3rd centuries, in defiance of both Law and tradition, synagogues were decorated with human figures.

The deluxe decor of the synagogue at Dura-Europa on the upper Euphrates (3rd century AD).

Along with the Patriarchs is a rendering of Pharaoh's naked daughter!

 

Dura-Europa was originally a Greek colony on the Euphrates. In 165 AD it became a Roman garrison city.

On the frontier of two empires and the major trade route between Palmyra and Mesopotamia, Dura became a wealthy caravan terminus and centre of pan-Jewish commerce. It was destroyed by the Sassanids in 256 AD.

 

Soon-to-be-king David stands out from the crowd in his purple toga (just like the Caesars!)

 
 
 
 

"Pagan?
We have pagan ..."

4th century synagogue near Tiberias.


Mosaics of Greco-Roman nude athletes, the sun-god Helios and signs of the zodiac decorate the floor!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4th century sarcophagus.

The Jewish menorah, this time with personifications of the Seasons and cherubs. (Catacomb Vigna Randanini, Rome)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something for the Boys ...

 

14th century Hebrew manuscript "Golden Haggadah" ("Stories of the Exodus").

Pharaoh's naked daughter takes a dip (a popular theme). For personal use.

 

 

 


 

The Way of the Rabbi

Whatever daughter religions might spin off from old Judaism, the parent religion itself had inevitably to refashion itself for the new era. After the disaster of 135 AD, a number of Jews retreated into asceticism, banning meat and wine altogether, since sacrifice in the temple was no longer possible. Others lost themselves in mysticism, attempting to reach the "celestial throne" via their imagination (the apostle Paul would have understood!) – the forerunners of the later "Kabala".

But for all their suffering, most Jews were not ready to bastardise their traditional creed by infusing it with the dying godman mythology. The vacuum was filled by"Rabbinic Judaism", the inheritor of the Pharisee tradition.

"The rabbis, a smallish group (perhaps a hundred or so in the whole Roman empire) of religious specialists descended from the Pharisees, gradually enhanced their status and developed a specifically Jewish way of arguing, which marked them off quite dramatically from both Christians and Romans."

Keith Hopkins, A World Full of Gods, p234.


In Palestine itself, where the Jews were now a minority, what remained of traditional Judaism turned inward. No longer could its priests use the
"temple magic" once used to summon divine favour, no longer could Judaism be proselytised.

The Rabbis became "clericalised" – obsessed with cultic rules as a practical substitute for the lost temple. They peopled the air itself with beneficent and malign spirits. A Jewish "code to live by" - the Mitzvoth (the forerunner of monastic rules) detailed no fewer than 613 rules, governing every pious moment from waking to sleeping, to keep the Jew on the right side of an all-seeing God.

"His rising from his bed, his manner of putting on the different articles of dress, the disposition of his fringed tallith, his phylacteries on his head and arms, his ablutions, his meals, even the calls of nature were subjected to scrupulous rules – both reminding him that he was of a peculiar race, and perpetually reducing him to ask the advice of the Wise Men, which alone could set at rest the trembling and scrupulous conscience."

Milman, History of the Jews, p165.


Within a few generations Judaism would be codified anew, into a portable (albeit confining) religion which could accompany and – fatally – identify this pseudo-race in the centuries ahead. Roman historians attest to Judaism's successful evangelization in the 2nd and 3rd centuries and archaelogy reveals substantial synagogues built in this period.
Proselytizing rabbis – perhaps a few hundred at the most – established enclaves of Judaism (and "Jewishness") in the major cities of the Roman empire. As a result of their energetic missionary activity, most "diaspora" Jews were not exiles at all, but converts and the descendants of converts from the indigenous pagan populations.

But the new Judaism also had its factions and with the 4th century triumph of Judaism's most wayward heresy – Christianity – the momentum within the empire for conversion to Judaism ceased. Indeed, "adoption of Jewish manners" became an illegal activity and, faced with official hostility, many descendents of the original pagan converts found it prudent to embrace the now favoured Christianity.

In regions beyond the reach of Rome, Jewish proselytizing continued. Iranians of Adiabene, Ethiopic tribes of the Horn of Africa, and Arab tribes of the Yemen and Spasinou/Charax were among those pagans who found an enthusiasm for the religion of Abraham and Moses. Subsequently, even greater numbers from the Turkic tribes of the Caucasus and Berber tribes of north Africa also embraced the Mosaic faith.

From India to Spain, from Arabia to Gaul, the Jewish "people" – bonded by a faith not chromosomes – capitalising upon a network of safe havens, and a filial presence in every major resource, from African ivory to Germanic slaves, to throw themselves into the commerce of the ancient world.

Jewish merchants traversed with impunity the hostile frontiers between Rome and Persia, sailed the sea lanes from the chilly rivers of Germany to the balmy seas off the Horn of Africa. The Jews became dealers in amber and fur, gold and silver, slave-traders and money-lenders. But they were also dealers in superstition as well as produce:

"The empire swarmed with Jewish wonder-workers, mathematicians, astrologers, or whatever other name or office they assumed or received from their trembling hearers."

– MiIlman, History of the Jews, p158.


Levies on their new wealth paid for a programme of synagogue building, and in turn, the synagogues strengthened the bonds of the Jewish communities. Maintaining a detachment from their host cultures, and convinced they were especially favoured by the deity (and thus strengthened in their faith), the heady mix of piety and mercantilism rewarded the Jews with an unparalleled financial success – and an unequalled and universal opprobrium.

In the mid-years of the second century, the centre of commercial/religious Judaism lay on an axis between Palestine and Babylon. The light hand of Rome allowed the displaced Jews of Siria Palestinia to re-establish their ancestral faith, complete with religious police and a self-appointed hierarchy, with a new corporate headquarters at Tiberias, in Galilee. At its head stood a "CEO" in the guise of an hereditary Patriarch of the West, the recipient of tithes which had once gone to the Temple. Every synagogue was visited by legates of the Patriarch – they were called ‘Apostles’! – who collected contributions.

As a high dignitary of the Empire, the Illustrious Patriarch shared the status and privileges enjoyed by Rome's consuls, top military commanders and chief ministers. One provincial governor of Palestine learned the hard way the folly of insulting the Patriarch, who out-ranked him in the official hierarchy. He was executed by the ferocious Christian Emperor Theodosius I.

Lamented the Christian writer Origen:

"Even now, when the Jews are under the dominion of Rome, and pay the didrachm, how great, by the permission of Caesar, is the power of their Ethnarch!

I myself have been a witness that it is little less than that of a king."

Milman, History of the Jews, p149.


The Patriarch ultimately controlled his far-flung corporation by the power to censure. The issue of an anathema, an excommunication from the chosen people or a curse, could confer social death. After the fearful cost of rebellions, delinquency was not tolerated. The Jews settled down to business.

During the reign of the Emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161), and under a wary Roman eye, Jewish schools of the Law were allowed to re-open.

The Jewish scribes began codifying God’s ineffable word at the very time Christian scribes were furiously at work writing and revising their own holy stories.

Across the Persian (Parthian) frontier, another hierarch, the so-called Prince of the Captivity, had also furnished himself with a fabulously appointed ecclesiastic court, financed by the Jews of Persia. Here in Parthia, prestigious centres of Judaism flourished:

"It was Babylonia, with great academies in Sura, Puapeditha, Nehardea, Mehoza and Nersh, active from 200 C.E. until the Arab Conquest (c. 640 C.E.), which fashioned that marvellous structure of Jewish law called the Talmud."

– Albert H. Friedlander, This People Israel: The Meaning of Jewish Existence


Yet soon after the ascension of Marcus Aurelius (161) Parthia advanced into Roman Syria and destroyed an entire legion (XXII Deiotariana) at Elegeia, on the Armenian frontier. For the second time in a century, Rome was drawn into a costly and protracted conflict over a wide area in the east – Syria, Armenia, Cappadocia, Mesopotamia and Media.

The five year war ended in a painful triumph for Rome. Returning troops were to bring plague into the heart of the Empire and in the long term, the withdrawal of legions to fight in the east was to fatally weaken the Danubian front. But, with the capture of Ctesiphon, once again Mesopotamian Jews were brought under the dominion of Rome. Unfortunately for them, they threw in their lot with a rebellious Roman commander, Avidius Cassius, which set the normally tolerant Marcus Aurelius against them.

As a result of a power struggle between the two pontiffs in the 3rd century – very reminiscent of the conflict between Rome and Constantinople – the Babylonian Jews became subordinate to the Western patriarch (business merger?)

Pagan Rome, wearied by recurring rebellions of the Jews, came to regard them with suspicion and disdain– but the Christian Empire which was to follow refined this contempt into a bloody hatred. Though tolerated for their commercial usefulness the Jews would ever-after face the murderous intent of those who were "Loving Servants of the Lord."

 

 

Sources:
Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews (Phoenix Grant, 1987)
Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion (Pluto Press, 1994)
Dan Cohn-Sherbok, The Crucified Jew (Harper Collins,1992)
Henry Hart Milman, The History of the Jews (Everyman, 1939)
Josephus, The Jewish War (Penguin, 1959)
Leslie Houlden (Ed.), Judaism & Christianity (Routledge, 1988)
Karen Armstrong, A History of Jerusalem (Harper Collins, 1999))
Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People (Verso, 2009)
Norman Cantor, The Sacred Chain - A History of the Jews (Harper Collins, 1994)

 

 

Related articles
Home
The Way of the Rabbi – Racism and Intolerance
 
Genesis: First invent your Jew, then invent your Christ  …
 
Babylon: Nurturing the Jewish Priesthood
 
Egypt and the Patriarchs – Palpable nonsense
 
The Poisoned Chalice – The Early Christians invent Anti-Semitism
MAJOR SECTIONS
Do you really think it all began with a sanctimonious Jewish wonder-worker, strolling about 1st century Palestine? Prepare to be enlightened.
  Jesus The Imaginary Friend

Still holding to the idea that some sort of holy man lies behind the legend? Better check out...
Godman – Gestation of a Superhero

A closer look at the glib assertion that the Jesus story "got off the ground quickly and spread rapidly."
What DID the Early Christians Believe?


Many currents fed the Jesus myth, like streams and tributaries joining to form a major river.
Sourcing the legend – The Syncretic Heritage of Christianity


Much of the mythology of Christianity is a rehash of an older and even more transparent fabrication – Judaism.
Jew Story – The Way of the Rabbi


Human ingenuity and cunning is matched by mankind's equally monumental credulity and wishful thinking.
Christianity's Fabrication Factory


Church organisation, authority and membership preceded rather than followed the justifying doctrine. As the organisation and its needs changed so has the ‘Testament of God’ adapted accordingly.
Dogma – The Word in all its Savage Glory

From religious policeman to grandee of the church, from beast fighter in Ephesus to beheading in Rome, Paul's story has more holes than a swiss cheese.
 St Paul the Apostle Dead in the water?


Orchestrated by ambitious Christian clerics, a cancer of superstition, fear and brutality was imposed across Europe.
Heart of Darkness – The Criminal History of the Christian Church


The Christian Heaven may have been a vain folly but the Christian Hell has been real enough.
Hell on Earth – A Brutal Superstition Spreads Across the World


Raised to the status of State religion the Christian Church reigned over the destruction of civilization. As the centuries passed religious barbarism grew ever more vicious.
Winter of the World – The Terrible Cost of "Christendom"

For two millennia Christianity's anti-sexual, puritanical doctrines have inflicted untold damage on the mental, emotional and physical lives of countless millions of people.
Those SEXUALLY hung-up Christians – Loved-up for Jesus


With a Jewish father (stern patriarch) and a Christian mother (obsession with guilt and heaven) it is not surprising that Islam grew up a bit of a tartar.
Islam's Desert Storm – 'Christendom' Reaps a Whirlwind

Heaven help us. The richest, most powerful nation in history has a psychotic infatuation with Jay-a-sus the Lawd!
The Christianizing of the Americas
 
 

 

 



 

 

Some fifty articles are now available as a book. For your copy order:

 

 

 

Copyright © 2004 by Kenneth Humphreys.
Copying is freely permitted, provided credit is given to the author and no material herein is sold for profit.