Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘judas

The Last Supper: Customs in the Levant; Chapter 3.  (March 22, 2009)


Obeying parents is not just a filial feeling in the Levant (Near East region of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine) but a religious duty. 

The command is “Obey your mother and father” and God punished Adam for simply disobeying him, period.  The story of St. Luke when Jesus, at aged 12, was found discussing among the priests in the Grand Temple of Carmel as the clan went on pilgrimage is revealing: Jesus had priority to obey his Father; 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 the town of “Bethlehem Efrateh” (Not the one close to Jerusalem) where they lived (on the east side of Mount Carmel in Upper Galilee) which was within the administrative district of Tyre (and not the Bethlehem in Judea).


At the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples are eating on the roof of a house.  In the Levant, most roofs have a grapevine dangling over an open shed called “aliyat“. 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 where you see a server pouring wine in a single cup, starting by the most ranked in the gathering. 

In the Levant customs, 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 guest sitting next to him to drink 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; his saluting expressions 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 Zebedee 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 his God by saying: “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, but the higher ranked person would fake a kiss on the cheek. Judas was using a custom for greetings that was used as a sign for the soldiers to get hold of the leader.

Judas Iscariot (December 11, 2008)


I am not hot religiously but I like good, interesting and coherent stories.  Judas Iscariot is the son of Simon (Iscariot, the leprosy, the Pharisee) whom Jesus cured from leprosy.  Judas is also the brother of Lazarus whom Jesus resurrected from death.  Judas is the brother of Martha and Marie Magdalena (Magdala) who poured a pound of perfume on Jesus’ feet when he visited the family in Bethany, near Jerusalem. 

Simon the Pharisee was a very rich man and living in the best house and he was a highly respected and visible personality in Bethany and Judea.  Simon came from a village called “Kerioth”; it is from this region that Judas Maccabee launched his successful assault on Jerusalem and conquered it from the Syrian monarch Antiochus 4 Epiphane over a century ago; thus this family’s sympathy to the zealot movement (those Jews who were intent on kicking the Romans out of Judea).   Simon didn’t have to join any colony of leprosies as was the custom.  Instead, as an impure by the Pharisee laws, Simon decided to move to Galilee, away from Bethany, in order not to pressure the inhabitants and to save face and he lived there comfortably.

Jesus cured Simon in Galilee and became very attached to his family; Marie Magdalena visited Jesus in her father’s house in Galilee and had cried over his feet and rubbed her hair on Jesus’ feet in repentance.  Simon was curious whether Jesus would realize that Marie was “a sinner” who lived freely from society’s prejudices.  Actually, Marie Magdalena, who had left her husband, a scribe in Jerusalem, and joined a Roman officer to the city of Magdala, was saved from being lapidated simply because she was from a very rich family.

Judas was the purse keeper of the apostles and he was rich and didn’t need any lousy 30 pieces of silver to sell his “Master”.  Judas was a fervent “zealot” Pharisee; he was a vehement and irascible man and he stated his mind.  Judas surely had Jesus’ ears and they discussed at length.  Did Jesus’ plan coincide with Judas’? Not necessarily for the long term and not for the same reasons.

Judas was not happy with the Sanhedrin state of affairs: those priests were very cozy with Pilate; Judas the zealot wanted something to be done.  Jesus, a high priest of the celibate, secluded, white clad and closed community Essenean caste of Qumran, was not happy with the Sanhedrin: he had the harshest words and diatribes against the Pharisee and the Sadducee sects. Jesus chased the merchants out of the temple; Jesus was on a war path when he ascended toward Jerusalem.

Jesus, the knowledgeable legist in the Jewish teaching, planned his entry to Jerusalem to coincide with the prophesies of the coming Messiah. He was welcomed as such by the whole City.  Nicodemus of the Sanhedrin met with Jesus secretly and they talked; something was being prepared.  During the “Cène” or Last Supper (commemorated according to the Essenean sect) Jesus dipped a piece of bread in milk and offered it to Judas (symbol of his closest friendship) saying: “Tonight, one of you will hand me over”. That was the code name for Judas to initiate the plan.

The plan was to incite the Sanhedrin to imprison Jesus and offer an excellent excuse for the Jews to revolt. Jesus knew that the Sanhedrin had no rights to put anyone to death, except Pilate. Judas was the catalyst to convince the Sanhedrin that Jesus has been claiming to be the coming Messiah and if they fail to get hold of him than it would be impossible to stop him once out of Jerusalem. Judas negotiated 30 pieces of silver to give credence to his maneuver and of the seriousness of his claims.  The Sanhedrin didn’t need Judas to lead them to where Jesus was located: the whole city knew where Jesus stayed.  Judas job was to make sure that Jesus was apprehended and then to spread the news for mass revolt.  The Jews in Jerusalem welcomed Jesus as a legislature leader and had no patience with another prophet martyr; they sided with the power to be and let go of their “Messiah”.

Jesus had to fall back on plan B.  He kept total silence with his Jewish captors in order not to be lead into any further mistakes or divulging names.  He spoke to Pilate of a Kingdom not of this world; thus Jesus has no plans to revolt against the Romans.  Pilate knew that Jesus plan was not against the Romans dominion as he has discovered that the Sanhedrin angst is real and serious; the Sanhedrin knew that Jesus revolt was to curb their hegemony over the Jews, to review the over 600 rules and regulations shackling the daily behavior of the Jews,  and thus to weaken and destroy their businesses.  When faced between liberating Barabas the zealot or Jesus Sanhedrin didn’t blink. Pilate also was not happy with a purist Jewish movement: he was very comfortable doing business with this rotten Sanhedrin.  Pilate washed his hands on account of a person called Jesus but not on a Jewish purist internal movement, a revolt that would have given him huge headaches.


Pilate divulged the whole scheme in one sentence: he ordered to write on top of the crucifix “Jesus of Nazareth. King of the Jews” It was known that Nazareth was a hot bed for the Essenean sect that planned to become the dominant sect among the Jews.

Judas did excellent on his first job but the dissemination task failed miserably: the Jews turned against Jesus. Judas felt let down by a meek Jesus who didn’t stand up as a legislature leader such as Moses.  Judas’ earthly dreams vanished; the arrogant and proud Judas returned the 30 lousy silver pieces; the Sanhedrin used that money to purchase a field since it could not recover impure and tainted money. Judas, the fervent zealot, hanged himself to avoid further investigation, retributions, and for not believing in redemption.  

            The Jew, Joseph of Arimathy, a rich friend of Pilate was permitted to handle Jesus body.  Pilate expressed surprise for a strong young man to die so quickly but he cut on any further discussions: Jesus is dead; go home everybody.  That is another interesting story. 




March 2023

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