Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘jesus

Customs in the Middle East (October 2, 2009)

Note 1:  The term Near East is not familiar to many English readers.  The Near East is the region in the Middle East that comprises Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the coastal shores of Turkey, and the region in Iraq where the Euphrates (Al Furat) River passes through.

It is my contention that the eastern region of the Tiger (Dujlat) River in Iraq was mostly influenced by the Persian culture and civilization. Thus, the geographic limit of the Near East starts from the western side of the Tiger River all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.

Note 2:  This post is a repository of the customs and traditions in this region as mentioned in the Bibles (Jewish, Christian, and Moslem). The customs and traditions of the Land in the Levant were practiced thousands of years before Judaism came to be.

The Jewish religion adopted the customs of the Land of the Levant (or what is known as the Near East) and the scribes wrote in the same style of imagery, maxims, and aphorism. The original manuscripts describe accurately the culture of the Land and in the same style.

Note 3: The Bibles are not famous for historical accuracies: they were not written by the dozens of scribes for that purpose.

The Bibles are excellent sources as repositories of the customs and traditions in the Near East, which are still practiced for over six thousand of years.  It has been said that if Abraham and his generation were resurrected they will feel perfectly at home and go about their daily routines and tasks as if they have just waken up from a dream.

Although “modernism” was forced upon the Levant, especially in the urban centers and megalopolis areas, the remote towns and villages have been practically spared and left untouched, even for cooking their weekly load of Levantine bread.  In this article, Near East means the Levant as one Land.

A brief Introduction:

Since time immemorial, the Near East was famous for exporting olive oil, grape wine and dried figs.  No wonder that grape vine, olive trees and fig trees are the symbols of prosperity and shade in this region where it does not rain for straight seven months. The coastal regions of the Levant imported all kinds of grains, especially, wheat and lentil.

The meals are frugal and consisting of thin large loaves of bread (khobz markouk) baked in special underground oven once a week, a few olives, tomatoes, onion, vegetable from the garden, and dried fruits in the off seasons.

Wheat was transformed in crushed wheat (borghol) for the kebeh and tabouli.  Dairy components were cooked into many varieties of cheese, yogurt, labneh, and keshk.  Meat was scarce and a single sheep was over fed during summer to be slaughtered in late autumn and the meat cooked and dried (kaworma) and saved for winter for the omelets.

A couple of goats or cows lived in the basement or a side room and chicken were raised for eggs and for the occasional guests.

Nothing would go to waste and summer time was a hectic period for all kinds of chores related to storing provisions for winter.

On the Written Style

The written style in the Levant is characterized by direct pronouncements expressing feeling and describing what is seen and heard.  The sentences are not encumbered by prefixes such as “I think”, “I believe”, “I am not sure”, “It is possible“, “There might be other versions”, “I might be wrong”, or “It is my opinion”, or what the western writers have adopted from the Greek rational style.

The style in the Levant sounds confident, categorical, and conveying the total truth though it does not mean that the people cannot discriminate or feel the variations and uncertainties.  The writers in the Levant simply feel that all these attachments are redundant since it is a fact of life that nothing is categorical or certain; thus, superfluous additions disturb the flow of thoughts and the ideas that need to be conveyed.  Consequently, the author feels that the western readers of the Bible should tone down their uneasiness with “outrageous” direct and assured pronouncements in the Bible.

On the Verbal Style

The verbal style tends toward the devotional and far from the business approach. The dialect in the Levant reveals the relationship with the Creator is the first of wisdom and spirituality is a foundation.  The recurring mention of God, the provider at the beginning of any reply or “peace of God be upon you” or telling a worker “God gives you health” or to the harvester “God bless your crop” or asking the shepherd “How are the blessed ones?” or saying “What’s its religion?” to get more information on the nature of a thing are all part of the daily utterances.

When the Levantine tells a story he is extravagant and the facts sound too far fetched simply because he wants to amuse and impress; the listener understands perfectly the intent of the fantasy and they share a good laugh.  The rational westerner gets the impression that the Levantine is not honest because he does not stick to the bare boring facts.

For example, when you wake up someone at seven you tell him “Get up, it is already noon and the daylight is over“.  When there is a large gathering we say “The entire town was assembled”.

Jesus said “if your right eye sinned snatched it out; better not your whole body ends up in the eternal fire” or “if someone asks to be clothed give him your robe and underwear too” or “Forgive seventy times seven a day” which drive the holy number seven to an extreme number of holiness; a number that should not be taken to the word but to drive in the message of ready forgiveness.

In the Bibles it is said “After six days” and you wonder starting from which date, which event?  Or it is said “They went up a high mountain” and you want to ask “how high?” and “which mountain?”  If you insist on the height of the mountain he would reply “it was so high it pierced the clouds”

The purpose of the story is to entertain and prepare for the punch line.  For example, John the Baptist is not in the mood of cajoling and says to the Pharisees “Sons of vipers, how will you escape the wrath of God? I tell you if God wished he will turn these stones sons of Abraham

The Levantine is ever ready to swear on his father, his head, his mustaches, and anything that is holy to convey the message of his sincerity.  It is this custom of constant swearing that baffle the westerner and increases his suspicions.  Jesus was aware of this custom and insisted on his disciples never to swear on anything but rather “let your answer be yes, yes or no, no”.  This summoning of Jesus had no effects whatsoever in our Land.

It is important to grasp 4 characteristics in the Levantine customs:

First, every region and every town has its own slang and it is the best proof of your origin. For example, the more Peter denied his knowledge of Jesus the more people were convinced that he was from Galilee. After the battle between the Galaad and the Efrem, prisoners were slaughtered because they pronounced “shiboulat” as “siboulat”.

Second, it is recommended to insist until requests are obtained; for example, Gideon insists on two material miracles from God to believe him; or when Jesus repeats three times “Do you love me Peter?” before he divulges the most important order of “shepherding the flock” of disciples.

Third, insinuation is not understood and abhorred and thus, a clear solemn affirmation is demanded.

Fourth, the Levantine does not appreciate constraining and transition expressions such as “As I see, or I think that, or it is alleged, or it is possible, and so forth”.  The Levantine verbal expression is of certitude and feeling, compatible to his spiritual and devotional nature.

On Business Transactions:

Abraham had no piece of land in Canaan; his clan let their goats and sheep graze in unclaimed lands. As there was a death in the family Abraham resolved to prepare for his burial; he sent a third party to ask Afroun son of Sohar of the tribe of Hath for a small piece of land to bury the dead. Abraham said: “I am a guest in your land. Could you give me a swath so that I may bury what is in front of me?

Every village had a burying ground facing east and guests, by the custom of hospitality, could be enjoying the same facilities. Afroun replied: “Abraham you are a reverend and I shall bury the deceased in the best of our graves” Abraham had set his mind to settle in Canaan and wanted his own burial ground, thus he asked to buy a piece of land.  Afroun replied: “A land of no more than 400 silver shekels should not be an obstacle” Abraham got the hint and sent the amount.

This polite and diplomatic negotiation is part of the Levant customs thousand of years before Abraham came to Canaan.

On Bread and Salt:

In the Levant, women leaven their dough overnight in clay pottery for the next day baking; the baking lasted a whole day for a week ration. The neighboring families would select a day to using the special oven dug in the ground.  The Jews were ordered to leave Egypt immediately.  They carried their unleavened dough in wooden boxes, as done in Egypt, and had to eat their bread barely leavened.  The shepherds in the fields in the Levant cook their own unleavened bread while at work.

Jesus said in the Lord prayer “Lord, give us our daily bread” The people in the Levant believe that their daily bread is not just from their labor; the Lord had participated from start to finish to offering the daily bread.

I cannot help but offer a current and political rapprochement: the successive US Administrations and the media “talking heads” would like us to believe that whatever prosperity is befalling other States it is simply because of US contributions. On the other hand, whatever calamities and miseries the world is suffering should not be laid on the USA: the USA does not bear any responsibility and should not be blamed.

It is the custom for a guest not to eat until he settles his recriminations with the host; thus bread and salt are the symbol of renewed friendship and loyalty.  The worst enemy is the one who shared your bread and salt and then shifted loyalty without any warning.  People never stepped on crumbs of bread (aysh meaning living); they pick up any bread off the ground, kiss it and then place it above ground level.

When Gideon gathered his “large army” to fight the Midyanites, God ordered Gideon to select the soldiers that stooped in front of the stream and drank off the palm of their hands.  That was the custom of the noble citizens in the land; the common people knelt and drank directly off the stream.

Thus, Gideon ended up with 300 soldiers who were deemed courageous, sober, and worthy to fight.

On Handicapped persons:

Handicapped individuals have a hard life in the Levant; they are nicknamed according to their handicaps. Up very recently they were hidden from the public.  In Jesus travels handicapped individuals had hard time approaching Jesus; the crowd would prevent them from coming close because handicaps were considered punishment from God.

A handicapped woman got her courage and dared to touch the robe of Jesus and was cured.  Jesus told her: “Woman, it is your faith and not my cloth that cured you. Go in peace” Jesus was alluding to the custom that touching anything holy would cure or satisfy a want.

On Injustice:

Carrying the cross Jesus said “Sisters of Jerusalem, don’t cry over me.  Those who manhandled moist branches what they wouldn’t do with the dry ones?

If the sacerdotal caste could sentence to death an innocent man then what you, sisters of Jerusalem, expect them to do with you and your children?  You should be starting to cry over your coming miseries and injustices.  Aphorisms on moist things versus dry ones, or bitter versus sweet tasty foods are many in the Levant.

On Animals:

Jesus warned Peter that he would repudiate him three times before the second crow of the cock.  There is a custom in the Levant when guest hear the second crow of the coq to start leaving.  The host has invariably to retort “You guys are mistaken, this is the first crow“. You may search Google for how many times a coq crows per day but in the Levant we maintain that coq crows at sun down, midnight and at dawn.

Jesus said about the surprise visit of sudden death: “Stay awake; you don’t know when the Master of the house will show up; in the evening, at midnight or the last crow of the coq”.

The oriental Christian communities used the nights to pray and watch for the second coming of “Son of God“, (be ready for leaving to the other life)

Pigs are considered the dirtiest and lowest of animals.  When Jesus chased out the demons off a crazy man then the evil spirit entered pigs that rushed to the lake.  The younger son who asked for his inheritance ended up caring for pigs (the lowest job anyone could get) and could not even eat what the pigs ate though he loved “kharoub” which fills the stomach.

On Wheat Grinding:

On the theme of sudden death Jesus recount another aphorism of the Land “Two of you are grinding wheat in a quern (hand mill), one is taken away and the other saved”.  It was the custom for two women friends to undertake the boring task of grinding wheat grain in two circular stone querns; a strong woman could do it alone but it is more fun to pass the time when two are chatting away.

Thus, you can never know when your closest friend will die.  Nowadays, in remote areas, the hand mill or “jaroush” is used to convert wheat grains into crushed wheat which is a staple ingredient to many traditional dishes like “tabouli”, “kebeh, and countless varieties.

On Revelations:

Revelations abound in the Bible to the prophets, Elizabeth, Marie, and many times to Joseph who obeyed and executed the orders promptly.  Revelations are common phenomenon in the Levant.  A family would pay visits to shrines dedicated to a saint for fertility or for kinds of handicaps; the family would stay at the shrine praying and fasting as many nights as necessary until a revelation related to their wishes descends.  The families visit shrines confident that their “demands” would be exhausted.

For example, Hanna, the mother of the Virgin Marie had a revelation that she would be pregnant, so had Elizabeth (Alisabat), the sister of Hanna, who begot John the Baptist, so had Marie who gave birth to Jesus, so did the mother of Melki Sadek, the highest priest of the Land and King of Jerusalem to whom Abraham paid the teethe (tenth of income) as did Isaac and then Jacob, so did the mother of Samuel (Name of El), so had the mother of Jeremiah (Aramia) and countless others.

Those mothers vowed (nezer) their offspring to monasteries that were common in Phoenicia and Galilee.  The offspring who stayed in these monasteries for a large part of their youth were called Nazereen.  Jesus stayed in the monastery of Mount Carmel and administered by the Esseneans, adjacent to the Great Temple, from age 6 until he was in the age of aiding the family earning a living.

That is why Jesus was said to be a Nazarenos or who lived in the region of Galilee of the Nazarenes.  The town of Nazareth did not exist until the second century after Christ and Jesus roamed Lebanon, the ten main cities in Syria and Jordan (Decapolis) while preparing his disciples to spread his message.

On Shepherding and Faith

Jesus said “I am the good shepherd who is ready to sacrifice for his sheep”. The shepherding was the oldest and most common job in the Levant and people learned leadership, and enjoyed freedom and solitude.  The shepherd, during the extended dry season, would lead his flock “the blessed ones” to the upper lands for grazing by mid March as the sheep or goat gave birth.

The shepherd would carry the new born and the mothers would follow him, confident in her shepherd.  The shepherd would arrange a stockade (hazeera) of stones about 5 feet high and top it with brambles and sleep at the entrance in a makeshift tent with his dog. “The truth is anyone who does not enter the stockade by the entrance is a thief; the shepherd enters from the door and the sheep hear his voice and their names and they go out to graze” because the stockade could be climbed with minor scratches.

By mid October, the shepherd dismantles his stockade and moves his flock to lower altitudes where the sheep are horded in a one room basement (mrah) with no windows; Isaiah said: “My residence was dismantled and taken away from me as the shepherd tent”

Shepherding requires skills in tight passageway amid the orchards that were not usually fenced.  The shepherd had to pay for whatever the sheep ate if he was unable to control his flock; the town people would not let the shepherd cross the village if they could not trust his guiding skills.  The flock trusted the shepherd because he would ward off wolves and hyenas and even follow the scavenger to its lair to retrieve the sheep or part of it and return it to the flock if alive.

Jesus said: “A shepherd would leave his flock to go after the lost sheep“. The flock is not afraid of narrow hazardous paths taken by the shepherd “the shadow of death valley” because it trusts its leader.

Grape vines:

When Jesus mentions “The product of grape vine” is meant wine; though grapes were customarily dried (zabeeb) in abundance.  Kids would always carry handful of raisins in their oversized pockets as sweet and also to bribe other children; when long caravans of camels arrive at the market place, kids would bribe the conductors with raisins for a ride to the wells.  Women would get frustrated because camels drank most of the well and the women had to dip their buckets far deeper.

Grape vines were used as aphorism such as “I am the vine and you are its branches” or “Your wife is like a fecund vine around your house. Your sons like olive trees around your dinner table”.  The Prophet Micah said “They will sit under the vine and the fig tree and nothing will scare them”

The ceremonies of grape pressing by men’ and boys’ feet lasted days and nights until the juices were flowed to special receptacles of stones and clay. The press was made of a large stone vat set up on the roof of the house with a certain incline for the flow of the juice. The settled grape juice (rawook) was drunk by the poor people who could not afford wine “the (poor) pressed and felt thirsty”.

The rawook would then be boiled at various degrees; sour wine was preferred by men but sweet wine needed high boiling temperature because preferred by women. When the juice was destined to prepare molasses “debs” then white clay was added to the grapes before pressing for more efficient filtering of organic components.  Isaiah (Ashaya) said “Why your robe is reddish and your cloth looking as you were pressing grapes?”

Nowadays, the national drink is arak or ouzou in Greece and it is basically the condensation of the boiled grape juice through alembics; it is called “mtalat” when the process of condensation is performed three times for a content 97% alcoholic.

Gideon wanted to avoid paying tax on his wheat harvest.  The grape was not ripe yet and thus, Gideon used the top of his house to beat the wheat where grapes were pressed by feet though it was not yet the season of grape pressing.  He was hoping that the Midyanites would not discover his subterfuge.

The Roof Tops:

The houses in the Levant used to be of just one large room where the entire family slept and ate in the winter season; the adjacent split room or a basement sheltered the chicken, goats, cows, or donkey.  The rest of the dry seasons that extended for over 7 months the main meeting place was the roof top; a makeshift tent of dangling grape vines and dry branches, and called “alyyeh“.

The roof was built with supporting tree trunks at three feet intervals and cross branches with no gaps and then 12 inches of dirt rolled over by a cylindrical stone at every season.

Official announcements or the arrival of caravans or any kind of major warnings such as the voices of field keepers (natour) were done by climbing a roof. Jesus advised his disciple to announce the Good News from the roof tops so that every one should hear the message clear and sound; that is what Peter did.

Families would go up to the roof tops to pray and cry and the new comer Hebrews didn’t like this custom of the Land.

When a paraplegic was dangled from a roof top for Jesus to heal the friends dug out the dirt and removed a few branches and made enough space (kofaa) then placed the sick man on a blanket with the four corners attached to a rope.

At the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples are eating on the roof top of a house, the “alyyat”; the family gathers in that shed during the hot seasons that extend for seven months from Mid May to mid September. Jesus and the disciples are sitting in a circle around several large platters of various dishes; everyone extends his hand to dip his piece of bread in the platter of his liking; there are no spoons or forks.

The scene is not as represented by Leonardo Da Vinci in the customs of Florence.

A server pour the wine in a single cup, starting by the most ranked in the gathering.  Before drinking the cup in one shot the guest wishes long life to his friends and ask them to remember him if he is about to leave them for an extended trip; then he selects the next guest to drink and the server pour wine for the selected person and in the same single cup.

After supper, the cup is passed around and everyone takes just a sip.  Jesus said “I longed so much to eat this supper with you before I suffer”

Jesus said: “The first one to dip his bread in my platter will deliver me tonight” was confusing to the disciples because they all dipped in Jesus’ platter one time or another. Judas was always the second in command and must have arranged to have his favorite platter close to him and Jesus for easy access; thus, Judas was the most plausible one to first dip his bread in Jesus platter.

Young John loved Jesus and expressed his feeling as to the customs of the Levant by reclining his head on Jesus’ shoulder.

Jesus adhered to the customs of eating supper and his salutes about eating his flesh or drinking his blood in remembrance of him had a spiritual undertone and suggesting that he was to leave his disciples for good.  Jesus dipped a piece of bread in a platter and specifically offered it to Judas as a symbol of friendship no matter what is in Judas’ heart and mind.

Jesus presented the box of money to Judas, the treasurer, as a sign that nothing is changed in Jesus faith to Judas loyalty in matter of financial transactions. Anyway, Judas was from a rich family and didn’t need small changes.

In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus expresses his feelings of sorrows and pains as a Levantine; he lets his feelings pour out and wants his closest friends to share his feelings.  Three times he invites Peter and the sons of Zebedeh to keep the wake with him because “my soul is sad to death”.  Jesus was praying with such earnestness that his “sweating was of blood”.

Jesus had no choice but to obey his father and urged God “Father, if it were possible to take away this bitter cup, but it is not as I wish but as you want”

Judas approached Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and kissed him several times on the cheeks. Judas was thus telling Jesus, according to the Levant customs, that as of this instant they are on a par in ranks and that Judas decided that he no longer considers Jesus as the Messiah. Some one of a lower rank would shake hands and fake to kiss the right hand and the higher ranked person would fake a kiss on the cheek. Judas was using a custom for greetings that could also be used as a sign for the soldiers to get hold of the leader.

On Obeying Parents:

Obeying parents is not just a filial feeling in the Levant but a religious duty.  The command is “Obey your mother and father” and God punished Adam for simply disobeying him, period.  The story of Luc when Jesus, aged 12 then, was found discussing among the priests in the Temple as the clan went on pilgrimage is revealing. Jesus had priority of which parents to obey first: he reminded his parents that he has a duty to obey his God El first.  In the Levant, no family starts or leaves on a trip before counting and making sure of the presence of all the members of the family.

After the count, Jesus decided to return to the Temple. After the count, his family didn’t worry about Jesus because he was supposed to be amid the wider clan of relatives and because the Great Temple on Mount Carmel (not Jerusalem) was a familiar visiting place and no more than half a day walk to “Bethlehem of Tyr or Efrateh” where they lived, on the east side of Mount Carmel in Upper Galilee.  In none of the parables you find the eldest son depicted as the villain or disrespectful of traditions.  Eldest sons represent the fathers and the continuation of customs.

On Kingdom of Heaven

In the Levant we understand intuitively the figures of speech and parables that the West has hard time to comprehend; we understand and readily accept the meaning though it takes a life time to assimilate the true meaning.  Jesus said “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a person who is convinced that there is a treasure hidden in a piece of land. He gathers all his saving a buy the land” The predicators in the West would like to interpret this sentence as a gold or silver mine in the land that need to be excavated and they go at great length into legal terms to differentiate among the words “hidden and buried”.

The customs in our Land was to bury the jar of saved gold and silver coins in the garden or an unclaimed piece of land because the habitat was small (barely one large room where the entire household sleep and eat in) and could not sustain serious hiding places.  Tribes would hide their treasure in the desert before waging a battle and many would never survive to dig up their treasures.

Thus, the individual who bought the land, if he were lucky would have to dig up most of the land anyway to find the jar of treasure.  The meaning is in order to reach the Kingdom of Heaven you would have to go through the same process of fulfilling a dream by investing money, time, and effort most of your life. Consequently, faith is a good starting point to sustain the duration of the long haul but it is not enough if you lack charity in your heart; you have to learn to care and love and support your brothers and neighbors. It is a hard and long endeavor to pass through the “hole of the needle

For example, many predicators in the west tried their best to explain the concept of “a hole in a needle” when Jesus said “It is easier for a camel to go through the hole of a needle than a rich person to go to heaven”.  The predicators in the west invented a more plausible and palatable explanation by saying that “the hole in the needle” was the small door in the huge gate reserved for the passage of individual; they said that a camel could pass through if not loaded with baggage; another nice figure of speech though not correct.

In the languages of the Land, Arabic, Aramaic, or Hebrew the names of the small doors in gates were never called by anything referring to needle. The language in the Levant is extravagant for describing the almost impossible tasks that require perseverance and ingenuity.

Jesus goes on: “Kingdom of heaven is like a land that was sawn with good grains of wheat.  At night, an enemy comes and saw “zouan” (a grain that resembles wheat but causes pain, dizziness, and suffering for many days when mixed with wheat grains; it is mostly used to feed chicken).  The cultivators (slaves) asked the master permission to sort out and pull out the “zouan” from the field. The master said that it is useless since the whole field is ruined” In dire periods of famine many would mix “zouan” with wheat to make profit regardless of the consequences.  The honest master would not take the chance of being perceived as a fraud if his good grain was inadvertently adulterated with “zouan”.  In another verse, Jesus told the servants to patiently and meticulously remove the “zouan” from the wheat then gather around a bonfire to burn the “zouan”

The same idea relates with leaven that was saved in a bag of wheat in order not to rot quickly; in another verse in order to leaven the entire bag of wheat flour.  In ancient periods, people would eat unleavened bread because it was very hard and difficult to keep usable leaven in hot and desert regions.  Thus, leaven had the bad connotation of spoilage agent, such as when Jesus warned his disciples “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees” but the disciples didn’t understand this figure of speech: they lived at an advanced and urban period when leaven was no longer associated with spoilage but as a good catalyst.  Consequently, the parable of Jesus “Kingdom of Heaven is like a leaven that a woman hide in three bags of wheat flour until all the bags were leavened and ready to bake refers to the good use of small quantities to affect large lots.

Thus, a term could be used to convey contradictory meaning if we are not conversant with the customs and period of the saying.  In the Levant, cultivators believe that “zouan” will grow among wheat no mater how careful we proceed in sawing fields. Consequently, it is advisable to rotate the field to grow other kinds of harvests in order to have the opportunity to pull out all the “zouan” that spoiled the field for later wheat harvests.

Jesus said “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a woman who had misplaced one of her ten coins.  She searches all nights and all days (when the husband is not home), she searches in every nook and cranny and she sweep the floor until she finds the missing coin.  Then this woman would call up her neighboring women friends to join her and celebrate” (Most of the time they spend more on these gathering than what the coin was worth).  People worked hard to earn a coin and the man of the house would invariable express his displeasure for a missing coin and every women had gone through the same experience many times in their lives and it was a real occasion for women to gather, recount, and recall their daily troubles.  There are times for anxiety and relentless searches and times for relaxation and sharing.

There are moments for prioritizing our quests and leaving many tasks undone to focus on an urgent one, such as saving our soul in order not to anger our Lord.  This story is almost identical in meaning as the shepherd who leaves 99 head of sheep grazing unattended in order to find the lost one.

On Women:

Regardless of exterior behaviors of “non-polite” communication with women, men have utmost respect and considerations for their wives and sisters and girls. Inside the homes the couples are at par in responsibilities and duties if not biased toward the wives; “When there is love affectation is redundant”.  In that spirit, it is the good intensions that count and not the actual behaviors.  The Levantine regards the expressions “If you please”, or “be kind enough” are superfluous because love and respect are natural and come with the territory.  This behavior is compatible with the simple and rough daily living; houses are simply furnished with the basic necessities and the entire family members sleep and eat in one room or two; there are no exclusive rooms or quarters for the grown ups; and thus privacy is not a priority.

The tradition of nomadic tribes raiding sedentary affluent villages and taking women captives heightened the protective customs in the Levant and restricted women’s work within the villages.   Women were restrained from showing off and retorting vehemently in gatherings of men.

The attitude of men of adopting the two extreme behaviors of sanctifying women (horma) and occasional “contempt” might convey a feeling of disdain but it is basically a childish behavior coupled with lack of a cultural life that the harsh demands for survival do not reserve time for “luxury”.  The Hebraic laws considered women with no soul and thus could be transacted as chattel; this is not the case for the rest of the people of the Land; and thus this huge cultural difference between the Hebrew Mosaic traditions and the traditions in the Levant.

“Thus spoken God; they will come carrying the little girls over the shoulders.  Kings will be your vassals and queens will nurse you”  The custom of carrying kid girls over shoulders is widely practiced in the Levant; mother resumes her daily tasks while the kid girls sit on their shoulders while getting a hold on the head. The prophet Isaiah (Ashaya) speaks in imageries what the “noble” class in the Levant expects the common people to practice in their presence.

New Borns were wrapped like mummies; first they are washed with lukewarm water and their bodies rubbed with salt and then scented before a square piece of cloth join their arms by the side of the body and the legs stretched.  An unwanted baby or when someone is cursed the maxim says “You were not rubbed with salt when you were born”

On Feet:

Feet were considered dirty parts and sources of impurity, as the left hand was:  people went barefoot or wearing thongs at best, and wiped their behind with their left hands. The same is true when John the Baptist said about the coming Messiah “I will be most honored if he permit me to untie his shoe lace” because stooping near feet is not acceptable and thus, the custom of sitting by the feet of a nobility is a mark of homage bestowed on him.  When the sister of Martha, Mary of Magdala, pours expensive perfumes on Jesus’ feet and rubbed them with her hair she was expressing her complete humiliation and attesting to the Messiah status of Jesus. 

Note 4:  I have published five posts on the theme of customs and tradition in the Near East extracted from the Bibles, Old and New, with some development and clarifications to the benefit of the western civilizations. This post is a compilation of my previous posts.

Note 5: This series of posts was inspired by the book that I reviewed “The Syrian Christ” by Abraham Metrie Rihbany; it was published in the USA and in English in 1916 and I read the Arabic translation.  I thought that it was a good idea to attach relevant contexts to the fragment of verses that Western predicators are found of using on the ground that abstract concepts don’t need any historical, geographic, or people’s customs context.

Note 6: The people in the Levant are people of faith; they refrain from rationally structuring their religion into dogma.  The early Christian communities relied on the custom of brotherhood and faith in the community. It is only when Christian communities were established in Greece and Rome that structuring got underway.  Hundreds of Christian sects mushroomed in the Levant according to a few alterations in the re-structuring of the dogma that spanned into political and self autonomous sects.

After the conclave of Nicee (Turkey) in 325, during the pagan Emperor Constantine, the Church got highly structured and hierarchical; the pagan ceremonies, symbols, and pageantry were introduced to win over the pagans who were in the majority.  Since then, persecution of the “heretic” Christian sects started and is still alive into modern time.

Note 7:  I am no theologian, and frankly, I don’t feel hot for any structured and formalized religions.  I am a guy who is appalled by sects abusing religion for political ends, for institutional profit, and for personal aggrandizement.  Occasionally, a few books of historical nature in matter of religion drop into my hands and they expose a few lethal fallacies; I have no choice but to react, expose the confusion related to abstract concepts out of their historical, geographical, and cultural context.

I cannot withstand sects that abolish individual reflection for the benefit of the “collectivity” or their close knit communities. I disseminate what my personal reflections feel right to inform and educate.

The high priests of Jerusalem denied Jesus membership

            Thus, Jesus accompanied by large numbers of followers is marching slowly toward Jerusalem. Jesus and most of his disciples are apprehensive of entering this hostile city of Jerusalem; they belong to a Jewish sect Essonite (Essenian) who worships in the Great Temple on Mount Carmel. The Sanhedrin in Jerusalem has infiltrated the masses of followers and is luring Jesus to advance.  The Sanhedrin formed of the highest priests of the Pharisee and Sadducee sects have no administrative, religious, or political hold on Jesus in the countries of his peregrination. (Read my previous post “Complete story of Jesus’ visit to Jerusalem”). 

            Jesus camped outside Jerusalem City limits and enjoyed a triumphal entrance on Sunday; he was acclaimed “Glory to son of man” (Oshana Ibn al Inssan).  Jesus returned to outside the city limits and sent Judas Iscariot (a genuine Jew from the tribe of Benjamin in south Palestine) to negotiate a formal meeting with the highest priests of the Sanhedrin.

            The Sanhedrin had gathered through intelligence on Jesus; it knew that Jesus of Galilee was the “son of Marie”; it was convinced, and their rumors aided a lot, that Joseph was not the legitimate father of Jesus; Mathew poured oil on the fire by relating a not convincing story 60 years later. I don’t care one way or another who was the real father of Jesus but everyone else at that period did care and must have known, especially the Sanhedrin. The Jews named the sons and, especially, the eldest son after the patriarch of the family.  The Sanhedrin knew that Jesus was a “gentile” who was circumcised by law during the century old Macabe Kingdom and were coerced to follow the Jewish rituals. Jesus sect the Essonite had many headquarters outside Galilee; it had the largest and most flourishing center in Alexandria and other centers in Damascus in Mesopotamia. Jesus was a high priest in that sect.  The Essonite sect read from their own Books and the educated members were very literate in Greek philosophy and Indian theologies; they preached mostly Gnostic messages while adhering to the strict Jewish laws and rituals.

            Initially, Jesus was to disseminate the Essonite message in Galilee and around Damascus. Then, on the third year of wandering in the vicinities Jesus was assigned the task of including the Essonite as a formal sect in the Sanhedrin along side the Pharisee and Sadducee sects. It was fundamentally the job of imposing reforms within the Sanhedrin to unite all Jewish sects under common denominators. Jesus entered Jerusalem in a strong show of force; his followers were numerous, a credible entity, and willing to accept Jerusalem as one of their main religious centers.

            Judas was lured into believing that a meeting is scheduled on Thursday.  The Sanhedrin was not about to permit Jesus in the Holy of Holy of the Jewish organization; Jesus was to face humiliation and an appropriate punishment for spreading a different message to the masses. Judas must have told Jesus that the Sanhedrin position was to apprehend Jesus for questioning before any decision of formal meeting could be contemplated. Jesus realized that his mission has failed and that he is trapped; the chances were very slim to meet the high priest at equal footing but it was an opportunity not to avoid. Jesus ordered Judas to lead the apprehending force.  The customs were that anyone with high rank or standing should be apprehended with someone of equal ranking; since no high priest was to lead the force then Judas is bestowed the rank of brother; honor was saved.  Indeed, the kiss of Judas to Jesus at Gethsemane was of equal ranks nature; Judas was thus to lead the disciple in periods of emergencies.  The swift trial and execution dashed any hope for further leadership.  Jack, the brother of Jesus and not even one of Jesus’ followers or believer in his message, was anointed leader of the congregation: customs are hard to break. In any case, the third of the original disciples were close relatives of Jesus and of the same town of Qana (Lebanon).

            Most probably Judas hoped that Jesus will have at least an occasion to expose and discuss his proposal; he had no idea that the events were planed to end into putting Jesus to death and even crucifixion, the lowest forms of execution. Jesus loved Judas and Judas’ family and this love was returned.  Judas could not imagine the Sanhedrin behaving for these kinds of humiliations and mistreatments. 

            Judas did not flee; he stayed in Jerusalem and bought a piece of land. Judas was not scared of the disciples who were huddled in secrecy and scared for their lives; actually, Judas didn’t have the heart of meeting with this bunch of cowards who followed Jesus in triumph and failed to support him in time of need: they would have had a stoke assuming that he might be leading the Pharisee forces to their hideout.  Judas followed ordered; he was the man for the hard missions, and he had no excuses to offer to anyone.  There are two stories: Judas hanged himself or he fell from a wall while working in his olive field. Both versions are plausible; I am inclined that Judas had the courage to decide for his own destiny. He was a leader, he had a mission, he failed, and he must commit suicide.

            The first martyr, the Greek educated Saint Etienne (Estephanous), was lapidated to death shortly after Jesus crucifixion. The Nazarene congregation in Jerusalem (as they were called for over 30 years after Jesus crucifixion), was headed by Jack (brother of Jesus).  Jack easily stroked a deal with the Sanhedrin; mainly with the Pharisee sect within the Sanhedrin. It seems that the terms were acceptable to Jack and most of the original ultra conservative disciples who observed the Jewish laws even stingier than the majority of the Jews in Jerusalem. This moratorium with the Sanhedrin could not have been reached without the initial attempt by Jesus and Judas Iscariot.

            A barely tenable coexistence went on for another 20 years until Jack was lapidated to death; the “Christians” fled Jerusalem and settled first in Qana (the birth town of Virgin Mary in Lebanon) before pushing further on to all directions.  I contend that most of the Essonite members in these vicinities joined the Nazarenes.  It is during this peaceful period that St. Paul visited the Nazarene congregation three times in Jerusalem. Saint Paul transformed the Essonite sect from one of the Jewish sects into a new religion with world ramifications.

 

Note 1: The Prophet Muhammad was initially a convert to an Essonite Christian sect in Mecca (the Arabic Peninsula).  The first 13 years of Muhammad’s message was to unite the three main Christian sects in the Peninsula under a common denominator dogma. The religion of Muhammad deleted most of the abstract concepts in the Byzantium “orthodox” Christian religion into a down to earth and simple dogma that could be understood by the Arabic tribes.

 

Note 2: The Christian Copts in Alexandria (Egypt), mostly of Essonite sources, converted to Islam: there were no major theological differences between their brand of Christian dogma and Islam. This principle applies to many Christian sects in Syria, Lebanon, and Mesopotamia (Iraq) when Islam conquered all these lands.

Jesus is denied the Sanhedrin; (September 20, 2009)

 

            Thus, Jesus accompanied by large numbers of followers is marching slowly toward Jerusalem. Jesus and most of his disciples are apprehensive of entering this hostile city of Jerusalem; they belong to a Jewish sect Essonite (Essenian) who worships in the Great Temple on Mount Carmel. The Sanhedrin in Jerusalem has infiltrated the masses of followers and is luring Jesus to advance.  The Sanhedrin formed of the highest priests of the Pharisee and Sadducee sects have no administrative, religious, or political hold on Jesus in the countries of his peregrination. (Read https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/09/19/complete-story-of-jesus-visit-to-jerusalem/)

            Jesus camped outside Jerusalem City limits and enjoyed a triumphal entrance on Sunday; he was acclaimed “Glory to son of man” (Oshana Ibn al Inssan).  Jesus returned to outside the city limits and sent Judas Iscariot (a genuine Jew from the tribe of Benjamin in south Palestine) to negotiate a formal meeting with the highest priests of the Sanhedrin.

            The Sanhedrin had gathered through intelligence on Jesus; it knew that Jesus of Galilee was the “son of Marie”; it was convinced, and their rumors aided a lot, that Joseph was not the legitimate father of Jesus; Mathew poured oil on the fire by relating a not convincing story 60 years later. I don’t care one way or another who was the real father of Jesus but everyone else at that period did care and must have known, especially the Sanhedrin. The Jews named the sons and, especially, the eldest son after the patriarch of the family.  The Sanhedrin knew that Jesus was a “gentile” who was circumcised by law during the century old Macabe Kingdom and were coerced to follow the Jewish rituals. Jesus sect the Essonite had many headquarters outside Galilee; it had the largest and most flourishing center in Alexandria and other centers in Damascus in Mesopotamia. Jesus was a high priest in that sect.  The Essonite sect read from their own Books and the educated members were very literate in Greek philosophy and Indian theologies; they preached mostly Gnostic messages while adhering to the strict Jewish laws and rituals.

            Initially, Jesus was to disseminate the Essonite message in Galilee and around Damascus. Then, on the third year of wandering in the vicinities Jesus was assigned the task of including the Essonite as a formal sect in the Sanhedrin along side the Pharisee and Sadducee sects. It was fundamentally the job of imposing reforms within the Sanhedrin to unite all Jewish sects under common denominators. Jesus entered Jerusalem in a strong show of force; his followers were numerous, a credible entity, and willing to accept Jerusalem as one of their main religious centers for worship.

            Judas was lured into believing that a meeting is scheduled on Thursday.  The Sanhedrin was not about to permit Jesus in the Holy of Holy of the Jewish organization; Jesus was to face humiliation and an appropriate punishment for spreading a different message to the masses. Judas must have told Jesus that the Sanhedrin position was to apprehend Jesus for questioning before any decision of formal meeting could be contemplated. Jesus realized that his mission has failed and that he is trapped; the chances were very slim to meet the high priest at equal footing but it was an opportunity not to avoid. Jesus ordered Judas to lead the apprehending force.  The customs were that anyone with high rank or standing should be apprehended with someone of equal ranking; since no high priest was to lead the force then Judas is bestowed the rank of brother; honor was saved.  Indeed, the kiss of Judas to Jesus at Gethsemane was of equal ranks nature; Judas was thus to lead the disciple in periods of emergencies.  The swift trial and execution dashed any hope for further leadership.  Jack, the brother of Jesus and not even one of Jesus’ followers or believer in his message, was anointed leader of the congregation: customs are hard to break. In any case, the third of the original disciples were close relatives of Jesus and of the same town of Qana (Lebanon).

            Most probably Judas hoped that Jesus will have at least an occasion to expose and discuss his proposal; he had no idea that the events were planed to end into putting Jesus to death and even crucifixion, the lowest forms of execution. Jesus loved Judas and Judas’ family and this love was returned.  Judas could not imagine the Sanhedrin behaving for these kinds of humiliations and mistreatments. 

            Judas did not flee; he stayed in Jerusalem and bought a piece of land. Judas was not scared of the disciples who were huddled in secrecy and scared for their lives; actually, Judas didn’t have the heart of meeting with this bunch of cowards who followed Jesus in triumph and failed to support him in time of need: they would have had a stoke assuming that he might be leading the Pharisee forces to their hideout.  Judas followed ordered; he was the man for the hard missions, and he had no excuses to offer to anyone.  There are two stories: Judas hanged himself or he fell from a wall while working in his olive field. Both versions are plausible; I am inclined that Judas had the courage to decide for his own destiny. He was a leader, he had a mission, he failed, and he must commit suicide.

            The first martyr, the Greek educated Saint Etienne (Estephanous), was lapidated to death shortly after Jesus crucifixion. The Nazarene congregation in Jerusalem (as they were called for over 30 years after Jesus crucifixion), was headed by Jack (brother of Jesus).  Jack easily stroked a deal with the Sanhedrin; mainly with the Pharisee sect within the Sanhedrin. It seems that the terms were acceptable to Jack and most of the original ultra conservative disciples who observed the Jewish laws even stingier than the majority of the Jews in Jerusalem. This moratorium with the Sanhedrin could not have been reached without the initial attempt by Jesus and Judas Iscariot.

            A barely tenable coexistence went on for another 20 years until Jack was lapidated to death; the “Christians” fled Jerusalem and settled first in Qana (the birth town of Virgin Mary in Lebanon) before pushing further on to all directions.  I contend that most of the Essonite members in these vicinities joined the Nazarenes.  It is during this peaceful period that St. Paul visited the Nazarene congregation three times in Jerusalem. Saint Paul transformed the Essonite sect from one of the Jewish sects into a new religion with world ramifications.

 

Note 1: The Prophet Muhammad was initially a convert to an Essonite Christian sect in Mecca (the Arabic Peninsula).  The first 13 years of Muhammad’s message was to unite the three main Christian sects in the Peninsula under a common denominator dogma. The religion of Muhammad deleted most of the abstract concepts in the Byzantium “orthodox” Christian religion into a down to earth and simple dogma that could be understood by the Arabic tribes. (read “Common denomenator prophet”)

 

Note 2: The Christian Copts in Alexandria (Egypt), mostly of Essonite sources, converted to Islam: there were no major theological differences between their brand of Christian dogma and Islam. This principle applies to many Christian sects in Syria, Lebanon, and Mesopotamia (Iraq) when Islam conquered all these lands.

Complete story of Jesus’ visit to Jerusalem; (September 20, 2009)

For six months now, Jesus had been marching toward Jerusalem for the yearly celebration.

Thousands of pilgrims and followers were accompanying Jesus. Jesus was not a desk Rabi; not an urban Rabi. Jesus was a walking Rabi followed by thousands of long marching disciples.

All indications point to the possibility that Jesus never visited Jerusalem: his mother Mary and her close relatives never set foot in Jerusalem: They had their Great Temple on Mount Carmel; they belonged to the Essonite sect. They lived in the district attached to Tyr (in Phoenicia, Lebanon) and in Galilee which was also attached to Tyr district, administratively and judicially (read https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/03/18/the-virgin-mary-is-from-the-town-of-qana-in-lebanon-book-review/.

Of the 12 original disciples only Judas Iscariot was an “original” Jew belonging to the tribe of Benjamin.

The ancestors of Judas were from around Beer Sheba by the desert before they relocated close to Jerusalem; John the minor and Judas were practically the only literate of the group of 12.

Thus, 11 of the original disciples were new converts to Judaism, a religion imposed upon them by the sword by the Hessonite (Maccabees or Hasmodite) Kingdom a century ago.

The Hasmodite Kingdom had conquered most of Palestine and forced the population to be circumcised and to abide by the Jewish Laws of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, way south.

As new converts, the disciples were ultra conservatives with respect to the Jewish laws but they had their own Great Temple on Mount Carmel north of Samaria. They also had no liking for the two southern Jewish tribes and apprehended visiting Jerusalem, as did Jesus.

The yearly pilgrimage of Jesus and the disciples was to the Great Temple; the pilgrimage this year was to Herod Temple in Jerusalem.

Judas was a political Jewish zealot and hated the Romans because they destroyed the Hasmonide Kingdom 60 years ago.

After Judas’ father Simon suffered leprosy the family acquired a summer residence in Galilee; Jesus cured Judas’ father; Jesus later resuscitated Judas’ brother Lazarus from the dead; Marie Magdalena, the sweet heart of Jesus, was Judas’ sister as well as Martha.

Jesus loved this family even more than his own. Jesus trusted and loved Judas more than most; Judas had the purse because he was rich and was highly literate.

Jesus must have discussed and gone into lengthy arguments with Judas the zealot. The advance to Jerusalem was slow; Jesus and the disciples from Galilee were not that excited of entering Jerusalem because it was a hostile city in their mind.

Two factors might have kept Jesus marching on, though he received many intelligence that the multitude of followers joining the trip were not excited for it.

The first reason is that the Pharisee priests of Jerusalem have been scheming for over a year to lure Jesus in: they had neither legal hold on Jesus in the counties he preached nor any power there.

The second factor might be the permanent encouragement of Judas Iscariot coaxing Jesus on. Judas had political ambitions since he was rich and a learned Jew from the southern tribes. The large followers of Jesus have encouraged Judas to plan for a bolder and direct political job.

Jesus enters Jerusalem on a Friday and chased out the money changers and those doing business as usual by Herod Temple. Jesus was chocked by these practices that were never done in the Great Temple of Mount Carmel; his wrath had no limit; he borrowed a whip and ran after those who desecrated the Holy Place; a place for prayer.

Then Jesus camped outside the city limit (this sinful city was no place to honor) and was received as a popular Rabi leader on Sunday morning; Jesus is mounted on a donkey.

On Thursday evening, and after the Last Supper Jesus is made prisoner and convicted of fomenting disruption by the Jewish Sanhedrin in Jerusalem.

From Sunday till the Last Supper what happened?

This year was not a run of the mill celebration; Jerusalem was swarmed by thousands of different brands of pilgrims and a walking Rabi entered preaching and speaking a new message; a walking Rabi who has been lambasting the Pharisee and the other Jewish sects of the priesthood for over six months by now.

The Jewish Sanhedrin has been gathering intelligence on Jesus for over a year and it has accumulated a thorough biography of Jesus and on his messages.

The Sanhedrin knew that Jesus of Galilee was the “son of Marie“; it was convinced, and their rumors aided a lot, that Joseph was not the genetic father of Jesus. And Mathew poured oil on the fire by relating a not convincing story 60 years later.

I don’t care one way or another who was the real father of Jesus but everyone else at that period did care and must have known, especially the Sanhedrin. The Jews named the sons and, especially, the eldest son after the patriarch of the family. The Sanhedrin knew that Jesus was a “gentile” who was circumcised by law during the century old Macabe Kingdom and followed the Jewish rituals.

The Sanhedrin was highly upset and frightened that this walking Rabi knew more on the Book and the history of the Jewish priesthood than the most learned among them. And yet, not a historian, not a document, not an anecdote recounted what happened between Sunday and Thursday.

These four days are as blank as the period of Jesus before he started disseminating his message at the age over 30.

From Sunday to Thursday we know nothing of the activities and whereabouts of Jesus or his apostles.

Were the disciples scattered to disseminate the new message?

Was Jesus preaching and meeting with the masses?

Has Jesus discussed with a few priests in the Sanhedrin?

What is certain is that the Roman Pilates had no facts or accounts on Jesus activities to substantiate fomenting any civil revolt. The Sanhedrin was reduced to asking Jesus abstract and metaphysical questions “Are you the son of God?

I am inclined to believe that Jesus camped outside the city limit and made scarce appearances. Jesus was awed and disoriented. The thousands of pilgrims in Jerusalem might be Jews but they didn’t look or behave like the Essonite (Essenien) sect he belonged to.

Jesus might have dispatched Iscariot to negotiate with the Sanhedrin for a peaceful pilgrimage; he would pray with his disciple in Herod Temple and leave.

Meanwhile, the Sanhedrin had actively fomented the southern Jews against Jesus and then lured Jesus within the city limit for Thursday’s Last supper. Plausibly, Jesus was to meet with the highest priests. The meeting was not to take place and Jesus realized that the trap is closed and that would be the last supper with his disciples.

Jesus was possibly no fool but he had no choice but to take that risk.

In the last year, Jesus realized that his message was not taking roots; he was followed out of his charisma and for performing miracles. Resuming the same wandering trips was leading to no where; his life was already nerve wracking and miracles were sapping his energy.

The other alternative was a kind of moratorium on his activities or an agreement to be included as a valued outsider member in the Sanhedrin. Judas might have thought that he had a win-win situation; whether the meeting between Jesus and the Sanhedrin is a success or a failure he was assured an honorable position.

Judas was rich and didn’t need these lousy 30 silver coins; maybe this money was a practical symbol as a first installment on a larger agreement. Judas had no intention of following Jesus any further and being settled in Jerusalem suited him grandly.

Most probably, the other disciples had no winds of the negotiations between Judas and the Sanhedrin; Judas was simply proselytizing the message, visiting old family relations, and preparing logistic accommodations. The other disciples (apostles later on) were pretty happy not to wander in this hostile city; they were as disoriented as Jesus was.

The Sanhedrin would not be humiliated by convicting a “gentile” on Jewish religious grounds; it would not legally stick with the Romans who did not meddle in sects divergences.

The Sanhedrin would not bring troubles to its structure of interests by spreading an accusation of a popular movement getting underway contesting its legitimacy. The Sanhedrin was in a major predicament but it would not allow Jesus to freely resume his teaching; Jesus was to die in Jerusalem before he gets out of their religious jurisdiction.

After Jesus was crucified, all the scared apostles huddled in a remote house. From the testimony of the apostles, all that they retained from Jesus’ message was that there is another “coming” and pretty soon.

After news of Jesus resurrection reached the apostles, the second coming was confirmed to the apostles with a twist: the second coming will take place during their lifetime; if they die before the “coming” then they will be resurrected within 3 days to participate in the final event.

Thomas would not be railroaded one more time: he wants to touch Jesus and check the wounds.

Jesus has been teaching his message in parabolas, the best technique for verbal retention; these parabolas were in the Gnostic literature of the Land and the examples were extracted from the customs and tradition of the Land.

The apostles learned nothing much of the spiritual message of Jesus; they didn’t even comprehend the message; they just discussed what in the message differed from the Jewish daily rituals and customs.

Maybe Jesus was funny and told his stories in a funny way but the testimonies of the apostles were not that funny; most probably the funny apostles with sense of humor were not taken that seriously and their accounts forgotten, burned, and destroyed.

These events did not take place in pre-history.

The Land was highly civilized and cultured. The elites spoke Greek, Roman, Aramaic, and Hebrew. The Land had been disseminating all sorts of philosophical schools, sciences, and literatures.

And yet, nothing to account from Sunday to Thursday! Could you say that we have a biography of Jesus? The Jews even created a biography for Noah! I love biographies and I am not at all satisfied with what I have got.

Thousands of Christian “heretics”, according to Imperial Byzantium Church, who believed only in the human nature of Jesus were persecuted, imprisoned, and crucified for not abiding by Byzantium orthodox dogma. Why did these “heretics” have to defy a stupid orthodox dogma since there were no confirmed documents describing the entire life of Jesus?

Thousands of Christian “heretics” who believed only in the spiritual nature of Jesus were persecuted and executed for not following the orthodox dogma; why did they have to revolt against the orthodox dogma since even the apostles did not care or comprehend that much about Jesus spiritual message?

Genesis of the word Arab; (September 4, 2009)

The ancient Akkadian Empire in current southern Iraq, around the years 2,000 BC, used the word Aribi to designate the nomads exchanging incense, myrrh, and precious stones with the urban centers in the kingdom.

People have the tendency to lump all kinds of nomadic tribes as a uniform way of rough life and scarce food varieties. There are caravansary tribes transporting goods, and there are tribes paid to secure borders and trade routes.  There are cold weather nomads and hot climate nomads. I’ll write more on that topic in another post.

The major nomadic tribes or “bedwins, bedouin” were hired by merchants and the central government of the existing Empires to safeguard the main land trade routes.

The powerful tribes of current Yemen in the southern region of the Arabic Peninsula had exclusivity in raising camels and dispatching caravans to many directions. Thus, the job of many nomadic tribes was to roam a restricted area and have their encampments close to the resting stations on the trade routes.

In period of wars, and as trade dwindled, the nomads made incursions in the nearby urban centers and looted to survive. Thus, this enmity and bad connotations attributed to the bedwins. It is in that perspective that we could comprehend the harsh description of the historian/sociology Tunisian Arabic Ibn Khaldoun (15th century) concerning the behavior and characteristics of Arabs, meaning the tribes still adopting the nomadic lifestyle.

Those nomadic tribes transported their precious cargo by land on camel caravans.  There were vast land networks for the caravans.

In the eastern shores of the Arabic Peninsula of Hadramout, by the Indian Ocean, the city of Shabwa was a major center for incense warehousing.  Incense is a white product that is collected from special trees (Boswelia sacra) that grow from Hadramawt to Zafar in actual Yemen.

Caravans start at Shabwa and travel to Ma3in along the coastal Red Sea.  From the town of Ma3in the route fork to either north or west.  The northern route passes through Maarib and then Najran toward the port of Gerrha on the Persian/Arab Gulf for the Persia and Iraq markets.

The western route passes by Timna (the ancient Capital of Yemen), continues to Yathreb (known as Medina), then Petra in Jordan and resumes the trip toward Gaza on the Mediterranean Sea.

The Roman historian Pline recounts that there were 65 halts between Timna and Gaza. Gaza was the major depot for all kinds of incense, myrrh, and precious stones.  Alexander was about to lift his siege of Gaza when a side door to the impregnable fort was opened following a minor struggles outside the rampart.  Alexander troops entered the fort and he sent all the incense that his superstitious mother needed to burn for her Gods.

Another main trade route was known as “The King route” crossing Syria to the port of Aqaba on the Red Sea. The Jewish tribes would be hired to keep this route safe from minor nomadic clans.  Later, there would be established the “Silk Road” from China to Persia to Turkey to Venice and Europe.

Another varieties of nomadic tribes from Central Asia, bordering the Persian Empires extending from Turkey to west India, would be safeguarding this major and long route.

Maritime routes from India were also used, but they ended in the eastern shores of the Arabic Peninsula or in the southern shores of Iran at the entrance of the Gulf to be transported by land.

So far, archaeology has discovered the word Arab in a text during the reign of the Assyrian King Salmanassar III. The document of 853 BC describes the King’s victory in Tell Karkar in the valley of the Orontes River (Al 3assi, Syria) against a coalition of the Kings of Damascus, Hama, Achab, Israel, and the Arab Gindibu with his one thousand camels.

Gindibu’s tribe had settled in the southern desert of Syria.  Camels were used by archers who dismounted at close range for the fight.  The Assyrian Kingdom with capital in northern Iraq (mostly Kurdish districts now) had replaced the Kingdom of Babylon and had subjugated many Arab tribes in the north of the Arabic Peninsula.

The nomadic tribes had Matriarchal structure and their priestesses (such as Zabibeh, Samsi, and many other priestesses) were called Queens by the Assyrian Empire.  The Assyrian documents prove that the Arab tribes were disseminated along the “King Road” and even in northern Syria.

The Hebrew word of “Arabah” means desert. Thus arabah meant tribes leading a nomadic life in desert-like regions.  The tribes in the southern regions of the Arabic Peninsula such as Yemen never considered themselves as Arabs.

The word Arab in Yemenite documents of the second century AC refers to people not urbanized or living off agriculture; it is the same meaning that the Prophet Muhammad used.

The Arab Nabatean tribe with capital in Petra (Jordan) controlled the “King Road” for over two centuries; they spoke an Arabic dialect but wrote in Aramaic.

In about 140 BC, the southern Jewish tribes of Palestine, led by the Maccabe, established a Kingdom that lasted over a century.  The Maccabe Kingdom during John Hyrcan conquered the southern part of Jordan and most of Palestine, including the Galilee region.  John Hyrcan converted to Judaism and by the sword all the inhabitants of his Kingdom. The people were to be circumcised and follow the Judaic rituals and laws of the Jewish sect in Judea.

That is why Jesus was not considered a “true” Jew by the Pharisee cast in Jerusalem.  Most Arab tribes in that region were converted to Judaism and many settled in Yathreb (Medina) to control the caravan route going to Gaza.

Note 1: The word Aribi, transformed into Arab, meant “the neighbors” (to the Kingdom).  In fact the nomadic tribes were spread along the borders of the Kingdoms of Akkad and later the Kingdom of Babylon.  Nowadays, each one of the Arab States has its Arab “neighbors” and it has no confidence in the friendship intention of their neighbors.

Note 2: There is a myth that I don’t care about, but is all the rage in theology and affecting religious dogmas.  It is recounted that Noah had Sem who was head of the tribe Terah; Sem (Semitic race?) had three sons: Abraham was the eldest, Nehor, and Aran (Arian race?).

Abraham had his eldest son Ismail from his “Egyptian slave” Agar; he also had Isaac from his “legitimate” wife Sarah.

The Muslims consider Abraham as their first prophet and “father” and are entitled to all the “legitimate” legacies of God; the Jews would like you to believe that legitimacy is inherited from Sarah’s legitimacy.  That is how I understand it.

Note 3: Arab does not designate any kinds of ethnicity. It is the ability to write and understand classical Arabic language or the Arab dialect that was spoken in the City of Mecca (imposed by the Prophet as the language of his religion) that forms the basis to be categorized an Arab.  Indeed, Muhammad said it that every religion has its own language and vice versa since all monotheist religions are fundamentally the same.  Moslems around the world have the Arabic Koran as common denominators but the translation of the Koran into the appropriate local languages will generate as many Islamic sects as there are major languages.

Note 4: The Aramaic language was the language of the Middle East for over 3,000 years; it was spoken by the people of all Empires in that region from current Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western part of Iran known as Ilam in ancient history or (Arabestan for late Saddam Hussein regime).  Aramaic is the root language of Arabic; the Arab nomads spoke several Arabic dialects but wrote in Aramaic as all the urban centers in the Middle East.

Note 5: The Omayyad dynasty, founded by Moawiyah, selected Damascus for the Capital of the Arab Empire and the people in the Near East spoke Aramaic as well as most of the “Arabic” tribes that settled in and around the urban centers of Syria, Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon. If there is an Arab civilization then it was created during the Umayyad period since the people in that part of the Near East could comprehend and write Aramaic.  The classical Arabic language was established and spread during the Umayyad dynasty.

Note 6: For the Arab Nations (about 22 States) to exist in the future they have to mind their classical language and enrich it with various modern “Arabic” slang words and expressions to be viable among the Arab people.

From Palm Sunday to the Last Supper: what happened? (August 27, 2009)

Jesus enters Jerusalem on a Sunday morning; he had chased out the money changers and those doing “business as usual” by the Temple the day before.  Jesus is received as a popular Rabi leader and messiah; he is mounted on a donkey (jahesh) that Jesus had already rented for the day.

For six months, Jesus advanced toward Jerusalem for the yearly celebration. Thousands of pilgrims and followers were accompanying him.  Jesus was not a desk Rabi; not an urban Rabi.  Jesus was a walking Rabi followed by thousands of long marching disciples.

On Thursday evening and after the Last Supper, Jesus is made prisoner and convicted of fomenting disruption by the Jewish Sanhedrin in Jerusalem according to 3 of the 4 formal testaments retained in 325.

From Sunday till the Last Supper what happened?

This year celebration was not a run of the mill event: Jerusalem was swarmed by thousands of different brands of pilgrims and a walking Rabi entered preaching and speaking a new message.

A walking Rabi was lambasting the Pharisee and the other Jewish sects of the priesthood.  The Jewish Sanhedrin has been gathering intelligence on Jesus for over a year now and it has accumulated a thorough biography of Jesus and his messages.

More plausibly, the Roman governor Pilate and the King of Lower Galilee Herod Epiphany were tracking intensively Jesus progress toward Jerusalem: Both were very edgy of this non-violent movement:

1. Herod had decapitated John the Baptist, a very close relative of Jesus  who is being followed by masses from Galilee, putting a serious dent on Herod political credibility…

2. Pilate was at ease with the current Jewish leaders and could not understand how to deal with this new unorthodox leader.

The Sanhedrin knew that Jesus of Galilee was the “son of Marie“; it was convinced and the rumors aided a lot that Joseph was not the genetic father of Jesus, and Mathew poured oil on the fire by relating a not convincing story 60 years later.

I don’t care one way or another who was the real father of Jesus, but everyone else at that period did care and must have known, especially the Sanhedrin. The Jews named the eldest sons after the patriarch of the family.  The Sanhedrin knew that Jesus was a “gentile” who was circumcised by law during the century old Maccabees Kingdom, and that he followed the Jewish rituals. Jesus of Galilee was attached administratively and juridically to the city of Tyr in Lebanon.

The Sanhedrin was highly upset and frightened that this walking Rabi knew more on the Book and the history of the Jewish priesthood than the most learned among them.  And yet, not a historian, not a document, not an anecdote recounted what happened between Sunday and Thursday.

These four days are as blank as the period of Jesus between 12 and 30 years of age.

After Jesus was crucified, all the frightened apostles huddled in a remote house. From the testimony of the apostles, all that they retained from Jesus’ message was that there is another “coming” and pretty soon.

After news of Jesus resurrection reached the apostles, the second coming was confirmed to the apostles with a twist: the second coming will take place during their lifetime. If they die before the “coming” then they will be resurrected within 3 days to participate in the final event.  Thomas would not be railroaded one more time: he wants to touch Jesus and check the wounds.

Jesus has been teaching his message in parabolas, the best technique for verbal retention. These parabolas were in the Gnostic literature of the Land and the examples were extracted from the custom and tradition of the Land.

The apostles had nothing else to teach of the spiritual message of Jesus: they didn’t even comprehend the message.

The apostles retained what differed from the Jewish daily rituals and customs. Maybe Jesus was funny and told his stories in a funny way, but the testimonies of the apostles were not that funny.

Most probably the funny apostles with a sense of humor were not taken that seriously and their accounts forgotten, burned, and destroyed.

From Sunday to Thursday we know nothing of the activities and whereabouts of Jesus or his apostles.

Were the disciples scattered to disseminate the new message?

Was Jesus preaching and meeting with the masses?

Has Jesus discussed with a few priests in the Sanhedrin?

What is certain is that the Roman Pilates had no facts or accounts on Jesus activities that may substantiate fomenting any civil revolt.  The Sanhedrin was reduced to asking Jesus abstract and metaphysical questions “Are you the son of God?

The Sanhedrin would not be humiliated by convicting a “gentile” on Jewish religious grounds; it would not legally stick with the Romans who did not meddle in sect divergences.

The Sanhedrin would not bring troubles to its structure of interests by spreading an accusation that a popular movement was underway contesting its legitimacy.

The Sanhedrin was in a major predicament, but would not allow Jesus to freely resume his teaching: And Jesus was to die in Jerusalem before he gets out of their jurisdiction.

These events did not take place in pre-history.  The Land was highly civilized and cultured.

The elites spoke Greek, Roman, Aramaic, and Hebrew.

The Land had been disseminating all sorts of philosophical schools, sciences, and literature.

And yet, nothing to account from Sunday to Thursday!

Could you say that we have a biography of Jesus?  The Jews even created a biography for Noah! I love biographies and I am not at all satisfied with what I have gotten.

Thousands of Christian “heretics” who believed only in the human nature of Jesus were persecuted, imprisoned, and crucified for not abiding by Byzantium orthodox dogma.  Why did they have to defy a stupid orthodox dogma since there were no confirmed documents describing the entire life of Jesus?

Thousands of Christian “heretics” who believed only in the spiritual nature of Jesus were persecuted and executed for not following the orthodox dogma; why did they have to revolt against the orthodox dogma since even the apostles did not care or comprehend that much about Jesus spiritual message?

The common denominator Prophet: Unifying the Books (August 11, 2009)

Historical Context

Before Moses, there was no such religion as Jewish.  Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob worshiped El, the all encompassing God of the Land from Mesopotamia, to Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine.  Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob paid the tithe to Melki Sadek, the highest grand priest and King of Jerusalem.  The mother of Melki Sadek had a revelation and her son Melki was dedicated to the temple; this story is repeated exactly through the ages such as with Hanna (mother of the Virgin Mary), Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist), and to the Virgin Mary; they all dedicated their sons and daughters to the temples (nazeer, and thus nazarean). The title of Virgin given to Mary is an earned sacerdotal label to virgins who served the temple from age of 3 till marriage.

The Bible mentions many prophets who were dedicate to temples as revelations descended on their mothers.  It was common to the noble and sacerdotal families to dedicate sons or daughters to temples.  The rank of Melki Sadek was the highest and it was for life and he could transfer that rank to anyone of his choosing by anointment (mesheeh), thus Messiah.

The scribes of the Bible in Alexandria (in the second century before Christ) mentioned that Moses received a revelation and the Ten Commandments from Yahweh (Jehovah); thus (Yahood or Jews).  Again, it is the same repetition of revelations and the descent of written messages and commandments through the ages to the chosen prophets.  Moses’ commandments had to be given by a supreme being for ignorant nomads who constantly needed to rely on a supreme being to alleviate their fears; these commandments and hundreds more were already included in the civil codes of laws of the Land since before King Hammurabi of Babylon.  The relatively urban towns and cities in the Levant and Mesopotamia had more sophisticated abstract concepts that could sustain diversities in belief systems.

Invariably, religions would like the believers to understand that their Prophets were illiterate in order to prove that only God could have interceded with the prophet for the message.  These allegations are pure fabrications. Abraham was educated, Moses was highly educated and a grand priest and Muhammad aided his uncle parson Warkat bin Nawfal in translating into Arabic the Aramaic versions of the New Testament of Mathew and the Bible.  All the prophets had read in the Books of their times.  Jesus was highly educated and was a “nazeer” in the Great Temple of Mount Carmen since the age of six; but Jesus didn’t need translated versions of the Books because he was Aramaic and a messenger of the Land.

Translation of Books to another language was not done literally; the meaning was retained as honestly as desired but the context and style were compatible with the cultures and customs of the targeted people for better understanding and memorization.  That is why reading in Books was done by chanting (tarteel) so that musical intonation could support the retention process.

Jesus mission was to win over “the lost sheep among the tribes” in Judea, Benjamin, and the Hasmonides because they staunchly continued to worship Yahweh, their nonspiritual God for earthly dominion by the sword. Jesus wanted to unite all the tribes of Israel (Tribes of El) and not of Yahweh.

Around 325 AC the Byzantium Emperor Constantine proclaimed Christianity to be the religion of the empire. Patriarchs and Bishops from around the empire met in many conclaves to unify the dogma of the new religion.  At each conclave serious cleavages would separate the bishops and schisms were created and were labeled “heretics” for not abiding by the “Orthodox” Byzantium dogma of the conclave.  By the 5th century there were two major categories of Christian sects: those on the western side of the Euphrates River (part of Byzantium) and those on the eastern side (belonging to the Persian Empires).  The western sects believed in the Credo, the duality of Jesus, the Trinity, and the Virgin Mary. The eastern sects believed in the one physical nature of Jesus (either man or son of God) and would not consider Mary as virgin or to be honored.

It is the eastern Christian sects “the heretics” that ventured as far as China and erected churches and monasteries along the “Silk Road”; they also reached the Arabic Peninsula where three of these sects were highly respected and honored in Mecca. Only the Christian-Jews three main sects (Ebyonites, Cerinthe, and Elxai, see notes) were referred to as “Nassara” (those Christian nazeers who were dedicated to monasteries to pray, read the Books, and meditate) and they read in the Book of the only and unique God and followed the Jewish daily laws and customs.

The Koran of Mecca:

The purpose of the Prophet Muhammad was to gather common denominators for the belief systems among the main Christian and Jewish sects in the Arabic Peninsula: they all worshiped One God, the Creator of all things, and they believed in Heaven and Hell.  In that direction, the Prophet accepted the premise that the monotheist sects shared Abraham (who was neither Jewish nor Christian) as their first prophet who had the Orthodox “haneef” belief.

Muhammad acknowledged all the prophets that succeeded Abraham. Muhammad accepted in their integral all the mythical stories in the Bible of the Creation, Noah, the Deluge, Joseph in Egypt and all the rest (these stories were indeed the myths of the Land for thousands of years before Abraham).  Muhammad was apprehensive that one of those diverse sects might think that he particularly biased toward one of Israel’s sects since they are all Moslems in God.  The prophet said “You are not believers until you value the Bible and the New Testament and what were descended on you. The Book descended on two previous religions but we were not aware of them” (because not written in Arabic)

Muhammad proclaimed Jesus as one of the latest and most spiritual prophet of all because he carried the Holy Ghost of Allah. Muhammad avoided the corny issues of the Trinity, the Virginity of Mary, the crucifixion and death of Jesus that divided the Christian sects. Muhammad venerated the Virgin Mary as the mother of the prophet who received revelations as well as John the Baptist.  In fact, Mary is the only female name mentioned in the Koran and Jesus (Issa) was mentioned as “Son of Mary”, thus “Issa ibn Mariam”.

In the Koran Muhammad proclaimed that the Christian-Jewish sects in Arabia were Moslems, years before he started his message: the teaching of the Koran was initiated because they relied on a unique God and didn’t admit that anyone else is part of him (shareek) such as Jesus or the Holy Ghost. The word Koran “Kuraan” has Aramaic roots “kuru” which means reading, reciting from a book.

During the Mecca period of proselytizing (about 13 years), what is known as the Koran of Mecca, there were Jewish sects and Muhammad never mentioned the Jews in these verses.  In fact, after Muhammad settled in Yathreb (Medina) the Christian Nassara sects would pay him visit from Mecca to mediate among them. The Prophet Muhammad was taken aback and said what amount to “They read in the Book that can answer all their questions and yet they come to me for mediation”

The Prophet did not face any obstacles from the Christian Nassara sects in Arabia simply because the Koran of Mecca was almost a carbon copy of the Books they read in: it was mainly an Arabic translation from Aramaic.

The problems with the Jews

The Jews in Yathreb and in Khibar revolted against the teaching of Islam who accepted Jesus as a prophet and got apprehensive of the growing power of Moslems in their midst.  The non-Moslem tribes of Mecca asked the Jews of Yathreb to cooperate with them and the Jewish leaders descended to Mecca to plot against the Moslems. Armed struggles decided the difficulties to the advantage of the Moslems.  The Prophet considered the Jewish sects as tyrannical and not behaving with charity toward the orthodox religions, complicating the belief system, and blasphemed the Virgin Mary and Jesus.  “God created man weak and He wants to make it easy on him and not complicate his life. We have sent a prophet to every nation” so that nations can read the message of the One God in their own language.

All the sects in Arabia were united around one religion that was made easy (khefat) and economical “moktassadat” to be comprehend by nomads and desert people who lacked knowledge of abstract theological concepts and it was easy to memorize by short rimed sentences and disseminated by chants.  Thus, Muhammad warned the Christian sects (such as the Jacobite, Nestorians, and Melkites) who believed in the divinity of Jesus, of the son of God, the trinity, and the resurrection to desist in their exaggerations and overestimation in religious beliefs (ghelou fi al deen) and accept the simple fact of One God as a unifying reality that unite the tribes of the believers in One God.

The genesis of Islam

In Mecca, Khadija, the first wife of Muhammad, and the parson Warkat bin Nawfal, the patriarch of the Christian-Jew sect of the Epyionites, transcribed Muhammad’s revelations and verses during his epileptic fits.  In Medina, Aicha bint Abu Bakr, the educated and most beloved wife of the Prophet, was almost exclusively in charge of recording the revelations when the Prophet Mohammad had his bouts of seizures. She would cover him with warm blankets and write down the verses until he falls asleep.  Aicha has dedicated her life into gathering, organizing the revelations and meeting with scholars and close friends of the Prophet to keep a complete record. Aicha saved her copies very jealously until the third Caliphate Othman bin Affan ordered the archive to be handed over to him.

Aicha didn’t trust Othman and she kept copies of all her documents.  At the time, only rich people could afford to write down documents because they were recorded on special leather in the Arabic Peninsula. Thus, rich educated people had the task of transcribing the verses for better retention, memorizations, and an act of devotion.

By the time Othman decided to issue an official Book for Islam (The Koran of Medina) most of the Byzantium and Persian Empires were conquered; Egypt was part of the Arab Moslem Empire. The formal or official Book had to take these political realities into accounts, realities of victors and vanquished.  The Caliphate Othman sorted out the verses and selected what suited the political interest of the new Islamic Empire; many verses were burned and disappeared, others were tampered with such as adding “nassara” (Christian) after Jews though the sentence would break the rime (sajaa).

Othman arranged verses by order of length, the longest verses first, and the gathered book was considered the official Koran. For example, the shortest revelations or verses are the first chronologically and represent the message of Islam in the first 13 years or the Koran of Mecca before the relocation to Medina or Yathreb in 633.  The longest verses dealt mostly with civil management, daily routine, penal codes, and organization of the converts to Islam.

It is my contention that Aicha bint Abu Bakr had hidden and distributed copies of her complete archive.  If there is the will there is a way to reconstitute the message of the Prophet Muhammad in its historical and chronological contexts taking into account the fundamental principle of working on the common denominators in the belief system among the majority of the monotheist religions; and hopefully discovering a copy of the original archive as the work is in progress.

The Prophet Muhammad was crystal clear in his message: making the religion easy, light, acceptable to most sects, and readable by the language of every nation.  It is about time we focus on the value of life and let the abstract limiting and restrictive theological concepts (ideology) to the few power monger sacerdotal castes.

Note 1: The Epyonite Christian-Jew sect was discussed and commented on by the early Christian scholars and Bishops like Irene, Epiphane, and Origene.  The name Epionites refers to the “poor” in Aramaic such as “Blessed be the poor”; this sect considered Jesus one of the great prophets. Jesus was not God or Son of God who received the revelations after John baptized him and thus, the messiah spirit entered him till he was crucified.  Jesus message was teaching and preaching the revelation, but didn’t include saving or forgiving our sins. The Aramaic Testament of Mathew is their only book in addition to the Bible.  This New Testament of Mathew used by the Epionites was revised, slanted, and distorted according to Epiphanous. This sect persevered on frequent washing for purification, not eating meat, and to focus on aiding and feeding the needy, widowers, and people of passage.  After the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, many of the priests in Komran immigrated to Hijjaz in the Arab Peninsula.

Note 2:  The Christian-Jewish Cerinthe sect proclaimed that Heaven resembled life on earth where the body will get its fill of every passion it needed to satisfy; that the role of Jesus was to free his people from the Romans; that Jesus message was political and social.

Note 3:  The Christian-Jew sect Elxai was Gnostic (knowledge).  It preached that Jesus is another human and the Messiah in him vacated his body before martyrdom.  The Holy Ghost is the mother of Jesus and the Angel Gabriel depending on events. Jesus received the Bible from the angel and Gabriel taught Jesus wisdom and the ability to foreseeing the future.

Note 4: I posted this essay on April 10, 2009 under the title “The Unpublished unifying Book” and decided to re-edit and abridge it.

Islam: In its two messages of Jesus and Mohammad (February 5, 2009)

Islam means submission (to God, the one and only).  I am throwing  a challenge to all theologians, religious researchers, and philosophers of all religious denominations (monolithic or not).

My hypothesis is:  The religious message of the Prophet Muhammad, during the first 13 years of proselytizing in Mecca, is identical to one of the “heretic” Christian sects (“heretic” as labeled by the Byzantium Emperor)

Muhammad was a learned man and read the Aramaic texts available in the Arab Peninsula and in Syria. Let me suggest the following procedure or protocol:

First, select all the religious Christian sects from the first to the Nicee council in 325; then select the remaining Christian sects after Nicee to the split between Rome and Byzantium around the year 1000, then the Christian sects that were formed between the year 1000 to the Martin Luther schism, then all the modern Christian sects from Protestantism, Calvinism, Baptism, Methodism, Episcopalian, Armenians (Catholic and Orthodox), and all the sects in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere.

Second, develop taxonomy of attributes in order to categorize all these Christian sects.

Third, allocate all the sects to one of six categories or more if need be.

Fourth, select the verses in Islam that correspond to the period before the flight of the Prophet Muhammad to Medina or Yathreb

Five, assign each verse in that period to the taxonomy of step two.

Six, allocate the message of the prophet Muhammad in one of the categories chosen in step three.

The foundation of my hypothesis stems from reading a manuscript titled “Islam in its two messages: Christ and Muhammad” The author of the book is late Antoun Saadeh, a Lebanese of Christian Geek Orthodox denomination.  The book was written in 1942 and Saadeh proves that Islam is almost identical to the message of Christ when we analyze the verses of the Koran pronounced during Muhammad proselytizing of his message before the legislation period for the new community in Medina.

Since Christianity is an amalgam of many sects that split into schisms in the last two thousand years, then I figured that, from a scientific perspective, it would be more appropriate to differentiate Christianity according to sects.

It would also be fitting to study Islam by analyzing the various Moslem sects; though the variations would be based more on the legislation and Hadith than the fundamental spiritual content during the first 13 years of the message.

“Thus Spoken J.C” (July 15, 2009)

          

“Rabbi (Master) how should I behave in life to get to Paradise?” asked a follower.  Jesus said “I am not teaching you what you don’t already know in the spirit of the Land. You carry the spirit of the Land; you have been following me to remind you of the soul and culture of the Land. Your mind has been obscured by the daily regulations of the Pharisee’ Laws out there in Jerusalem that codified your life and clipped your wings. My message is not a set of instructions delivered by a teacher.  If you badly need instructions in order to live then read the prophets who spoke in the wilderness and abide by the laws.  I tell stories and speak in parables (examples) of the Land.  If you want the light then follow the light. Unburden your shoulders; sell everything, follow me and don’t look back”

 

“Rabbi, how can I free my soul from earth attachments?”  Jesus replied “What you freely acquired from your environment and community is yours; it is your own responsibility for whatever you act upon. Don’t blame anyone or society for your behavior. Go to the wilderness and reflect on your soul.  Make sure the location has a large tree with umbrage.  Let the birds and the living creature share your habitat.  Do not overstay your loneliness.  You are not an isolated tree or a plant”

 

“Rabbi, I have been practicing the Ten Commandments of our prophet Moses. Is that good enough to salvage my soul?” asked a follower.  Jesus replied: “Following the Ten Commandments is a good practice to changing your behavior toward your neighbor. But no, if you never learn to love and show compassion to your neighbor then the doors of Heaven are closed to you.  The Commandments demand you to respect your family and neighbors; this is an excellent practical behavior to learn the hardest step of loving your neighbors. If your are slapped on the right cheek then turn the left”

 

“Rabbi, you are asking an impossible gesture toward my enemy that only utter cowards would follow; and certainly not because of love” said a disciple.  Jesus said: “You are quoting me out of context. I never mentioned the occupier enemies; that is not of my domain. How would you learn to respect your neighbor if you refuse to turn animosity into understanding of your neighbor’s behaviors?”

 

“Rabbi, are your parables the only truth and guidelines?” said a follower. Jesus went on:  “There are many versions to my parables but what I tell you are generated from the customs and traditions of the Land; you should have no difficulty comprehending them the appropriate way. People from other cultures may re-write them and edit them according to their fresh set of values. I am not to preach laziness of the mind but to nudge you to individual reflection.”

 

“Rabbi is there redemption?” asked a follower. Jesus said “The doors of the master of the house are opened as there is daylight.  Once the master goes to bed then the doors are closed for the night.  All the banging will not open the doors when you are late. I am the light and redemption. As long as you believe in my Father’s compassion there is always redemption.”

 

“Rabbi, I have the best intentions in the world; the harsh reality of life is not making it easy at all to show my good intentions” said a follower. Jesus said: “Good intentions are the first stepping stones.  Verily, verily, if you fail to nurture your good intentions into tangible acts of charity toward your neighbor then the doors of Heaven are locked to you” 

 

“Rabbi, are animal sacrifices acceptable to God for forgiveness of sins?” asked a follower. Jesus replied: “I have come to redeem humanity and liberate man of the superstition of Original Sin.  No sacrificial rituals of man, animal, or things are acceptable to God. You need to sacrifice your sinful tendencies by praying, reflecting, and changing your behavior toward your neighbor”

 

“Rabbi, the town is expecting your coming and it is preparing sacrificial lambs in your honor” Jesus replied” Do not imitate those hypocritical Pharisees who hide their sins behind external rituals of piety.  The only sacrifice agreeable to God is your individual conquest against sinful behaviors toward your neighbor. My Father never asked to sacrifice living creatures; this is a nasty habit that is not within the spirit of the Land”

 

“Son, what the neighbors would say about your wanderings with a bunch of friends?” said his mother.  Jesus replied “Woman, we are not at the same wave length.  You are always worried about the details for survival and society’s customs and traditions.  I have a message that you are not ready to comprehend.  Woman, leave it at that and stop harassing me”

 

“Rabbi, order Marie to help me out in the kitchen” said Martha.  Jesus replied “Martha, Martha, you are worrying about countless matters and you should work for the salvation of your soul.  Marie has poured expensive perfume over my feet and all she wants is to learn and follow my message”

 

“Rabbi, the Pharisees are parked in and around the temple in Jerusalem, selling and transacting usury” warned a followers. Jesus said: “As I arrive to Jerusalem I will chase out and away all the sacerdotal caste with a whip and turn over their tables. These hypocritical priests have been usurping the message of God of compassion and charity for profit.  The temple is for praying and not a location for the professional guild of priesthood.  Those serpents will humiliate me, put me to trial, bruise me, and then will put me to death because my message is to free the spirit and the mind”

 

“Rabbi, I don’t seem to get what I want” said a follower. Jesus said: “Knock on doors and it will be opened.  Keep knocking on doors; do not relent on asking for what you want. Keep applying and requesting. The birds have their lodging.  God will offer your “daily bread” as long as you confidently and feverishly ask for it.”

 

 

Night is a terrible period; people tended to sleep early. Night is synonymous to death in people’s mind. People tend to be more coward at night: all kinds of frightening ghost stories abound in the traditions of the Land. Jesus said about the surprise visit of death: “Stay awake and pray; you don’t know when the Master of the house will show up; in the evening, at midnight or the last crow of the coq”. Jesus said to Peter during the Last Supper “Peter, you will repudiate me three times before the second crow of the coq (at midnight)”.  (Implicitly, Jesus is telling Peter that he is already forgiven and that Peter’s Galilean accent will give him away).

 

Carrying the cross Jesus said “Sisters of Jerusalem, don’t cry over me.  Those who could manhandle moist branches what they wouldn’t do with the dry ones?”  (If the sacerdotal caste could sentence to death an innocent man then what you, sisters of Jerusalem, should expect them to do with you and your children?  You should be starting to cry over your coming miseries and injustices).

 

Handicapped persons have a hard life in the Levant; they are nicknamed according to their handicaps and up very recently they were hidden from the public.  A handicapped woman got her courage and dared to touch the robe of Jesus and was cured.  Jesus told her: “Woman, it is your faith and not my cloth that cured you. Go in peace” (Jesus was alluding to the custom that touching anything holy would cure or satisfy a want).

And in the Mud Glittered Nuggets of Gold (May 20, 2009)

People fail to engage and meet the proper way.

Jesus is sitting by a well at noon in a village of Samaria.

It is hot and Jesus has sent his disciples to purchase food. Jesus could have helped himself of water but he preferred to wait for a woman to show up to the well.

Jesus knows the customs of the land; only women who are banished from the village dare come to the well and they come around noon, after all the “good” women have filled their jar in the early morning and also at sun down. 

Jesus has something to say to women coming at noon to the well.  Before proselytizing, Jesus ask for a favor, a drink of water, a favor easy to offer but means a lot to a thirsty man.

The Samaritan woman gives Jesus water and then Jesus can tender the “water of life”.  If you want people to listen to you, you first have to ask a favor to be at a par, to demonstrate that you mean to listen to them, to understand them, to be part of them before you communicate your share of thoughts.

People fail to engage and meet the proper way.

People slave to becoming independent and self sufficient so that they would never ask for favors again. They go to humiliating situations in order to acquire power and lord it over other people.

Whatever favors they asked when “little” it was not to know and befriend people but to ruminate revenge afterwards.  What should have been the best mean of communicating friendship is turned around to be an ugly behavior that downgrades the sense of dignity and pride.

What goes to individuals goes to nations.

The colonial powers were not interested in learning anything from the colonized people; they were not in the mood of conversing and listening.

The colonizing powers started proselytizing the Christian “charity” and ideology, mouthing democratic utopia, exercising technological advantages, enforcing codes of rules, regulations, and laws that applied only to the white men in the colonized countries.

The colonial powers hurled at the colonized people whatever mud they had on hands.  Out of the mounds of mud, the under-developed States painstakingly dug up nuggets of gold.

The western nations did not modernize the under-developed people; it is the poorer people that proved to be more resilient and thirsty for development and progress against the will and interest of the colonizers.  This process did not change.

Whatever breakthroughs the ex-colonized people are achieving it is because of their will to catching up with centuries of neglect against the resisting wishes of the western nations.  The late President of Senegal, Leopold Sengor, said it wonderfully “The colonizers have certainly carried to us plenty of mud.  Amid the mud we discovered gold nuggets.”


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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