On December 2nd the 60 minutes news program did a report on the Aramaic Christians of Iraq and even mentioned the Aramaic language. The episode is called "The Purge" check it out at the 60 minutes website!
It is a pity that the news is getting out so late-but at least it is getting out-also remember my program on The Crossover that is on "youtube."
Hanukah: The Hammer of God
Of course Hanukkah is old Aramaic for “Dedication.” Aramaic plays an important part in the story of Hanukah. Judas changed his name to Maqqaba for the Aramaic word for “hammer” or “sledgehammer.” This Aramaic word gives us the name “Maccabee.” (Robert Graves in “King Jesus” argues that all the Maccabee brothers were “similarly nicknamed by their father after tools in his joiners chest-for example, Eleazar was called ‘Avaran,” the awl and Judah was named “Maqqaba” for “the Hammer.”) A Jewish account of the story of the Maccabbees is entitled “Megillat Aniochus” and is written in Aramaic. The story of Chanukah is found in the First and Second Book of Maccabees in Roman Catholic versions of the Holy Bible, or in translations of the Bible that include the Apocrypha. The story of the Maccabees (or the Hasmoneans) is also recorded in the books written by Flavius Josephus.
To understand the story of the Maccabees, you need to understand its historical background. Alexander the Great was a Macedonian. Macedonians were probably Celtic (they had their own non-Greek language) but became “hellenophile.” They copied Greek ways and promoted Greek culture. They were a warrior people. Alexander’s father was Phillip of Macedon. He united all the Greeks under his rule. Alexander as a child studied under the great philosopher Aristotle. When Phillip was assassinated Alexander became king. Some people suspect Alexander of being behind the assassination. If he wasn’t it is very possible his mother was. Alexander then went on the fight the Persian empire and to destroy it and its ruler, Darius. Alexander then went on to attempt to conquer the known world. He made it as far as India and had to turn back due to lack of morale among his soldiers and his being injured in a battle. After returning to Babylon he died at the age of 30. There are several good books on Alexander the Great. Oliver Stone made a movie on Alexander. There are three versions of the film. Two of them over-emphasize the fact that Alexander was bi-sexual. The film leaves out certain important episodes in Alexander’s life such as his battle against the Phoenicians and his time in Egypt, which was pivotal in his life. It also spends too much time on his relationship with his gay lovers and Roxana and fails to show the fact that he had other wives. It does have good sequences in it such as the Battle of Gaugamela and a battle in India.) After Alexander died his kingdom was divided among four of his generals. Alexander spread the Greek language and culture across the world. Some of the early church fathers felt that this was divine providence, that God was preparing the world for the coming of the Gospel through Alexander spreading Greek, a unified language, and the Romans who brought peace and built roads, which the apostles would use to travel the world and share the message of Jesus. There are stories that Alexander was received into Jerusalem in peace and that he went and prayed to God at the temple. This is probably true. Alexander was respectful of different traditions and different gods. When the empire was divided Israel was under the rule of the Ptolemys’ in Egypt. There was peace. However, later Israel came under the control of the Seleucid Greeks of Syria. Many of the Jewish people preferred Ptolemaic rule and there was dissent.
Finally, their arose a Syrian Greek leader named Antiochus Epiphanes. He decided that he would eliminate the Bible and all those who believed in it and lived their lives by it. He had all copies of the Bible confiscated and destroyed. The implemented an aggressive program of Hellenization. All Jews were to become Greek. They were to cease speaking Aramaic and Hebrew and to begin to speak Greek but also to adopt Greek modes of dressing, thinking and even worshiping. Antiochus then had to altar in the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem profaned. He had a statue of Zeus erected in the Inner Sanctum and had a pig sacrificed upon the altar. Jesus spoke of this “Abomination of Desolation” in Matthew 24:15. In Daniel 11:31 this events were prophesied. Soldiers came to the city of Modein in Judea and attempted to press the elderly Mattathias, a priest, to offer sacrifice to an idol. He refused. Then a Jewish man stepped up to volunteer. Suddenly, Mattathias was filled with righteous indignation. He quickly overcame the soldier and took his sword. With it he killed both the priest and the apostate Jew. Then he cried out, “All who are zealous for the Bible, follow me!” and he escaped into the hills with his sons. Eventually, a small group of guerrillas organized there. Not long after Mattathias died of old age. Judah began to lead his small unequipped and untrained army. They defied the most powerful military force in the world and miraculously overcame it. In victory they took the Temple and cleansed, purified and re-dedicated it. They decreed that hereafter in thanksgiving, all Jews should remember this great victory and the dedication of the Temple. This new holiday was called Hannakuh, Aramaic for “Dedication.” In John 10:22, we find that Jesus celebrated this holiday. Unlike the holidays established by Moses, this holiday is not obligatory for the Jews to observe and yet Jesus chose to celebrate it and even travel to Jerusalem from Galilee in order to join in this celebration. On this day, Jesus revealed that he is part of the Trinity. Judah Maccabee went on to fight in other battles. Eventually, he died in battle. It seems to me that after Judah died, the Maccabees quickly declined. They continued to fight more, unnecessary battles. After the temple was liberated and religious freedom was established, in my view, it was time to lay down the sword. The Hasmonians also became corrupt and immoral and eventually were replaced by the rule of the Edomite King Herod. It seems to me that we are again in a conflict with paganism-the way the Maccabees are and we need to stand up and work to defend God and his holy word in a wayward and sinful generation. Before Judah began his revolution there was terrible persecution and many martyrs were slowly tortured to death by the Greek pagans. This seems to be alluded to in the Book of Hebrews 11:33-39 were we find allusions to 2 Maccabees 6:18-31 and 2 Maccabees chapter 7.
RESOURCES on Chanukah: There were rumors of Mel Gibson’s planning on making a movie on the Maccabee’s but nothing ever came of it. Howard Fast My Glorious Brothers is a historical fiction novel that retells the story of the Maccabees.
Islam: What the West Needs to Know http://www.whatthewestneedstoknow.com/
Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West http://www.obsessionthemovie.com/
I believe we must fight Islamic extremism. See World War IV “The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism” by Norman Podhoretz
The Levitt Letter
Zola Levitt died recently of cancer but his ministry continues. Zola Levitt was a Jewish Christian bible teacher. I liked him and his ministry. Part of this is because he is more balanced than some other Messianic people. His ministry continues after his death (which apparently was related to cigarette smoking-a bad habit he gave up over 30 years ago-but too late.) The front page of the Levitt letter says, “Christian Arabs are vanishing” and in it he talks about the Assyrians and “Chaldeans.” I think it is very commendable that the Levitt Letter, which is ardently pro-Israel is getting the information out about Middle Eastern Christians. I consider myself pro-Israel but it bothers me how that Christians organizations go to great lengths to help Israel but refuse to say a word about Middle Eastern Christians.
The easiest way to learn Aramaic is through “Classical Aramaic: Elementary 1” written by Father Michael Bazzi, St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Church 1627 Jamacha Way, El-Cajon, California 92019
See also http://www.assyrianlanguaage.com/
Aramaic Bible Translation
Remember to support Aramaic Bible Translation by purchasing their Aramaic language products of by giving money to support them. http://www.aramaicbible.org/
Nimrod, Semarimas and Tammuz
It seems to me every year I have to listen to a constant barrage about how everything is “pagan.” As I have mentioned most of these ideas come from a hoax perpetrated by a man named Alexander Hislop in the mid 1800s. The myth is called the “Two Babylons” which means, the first Babylon is the false religion of ancient Babylonia while the second Babylon is Christianity, or more specifically Roman Catholicism. The lie Hislop invented is that soon after the flood Nimrod, a descendant of Ham, began proclaiming himself a god and married his mother, Semiramis. Shem, the son of Noah, then killed Nimrod and cut his body into pieces and left them scattered around to serve as a warning to those who would follow in his evil ways. Semiramis then reorganized and she claimed that the child she had conceived by Nimrod, Tammuz, was actually Nimrod reincarnated. Then she founded a religion of Sun worship that evolved into the Roman Catholic Church. The claim is that Roman Catholics are not worshiping Jesus and Mary but in reality are worshiping Nimrod and Semiramis! This is really absurd, however these ideas are very widespread among American Evangelicals.
First, There is no biblical justification at all. The Bible does not mention Semiramis at all and this story is found nowhere in the Bible. If this story is true it seems that the sacred writers would have felt it needed to be included in the Scriptures. In reality, the story of Nimrod and Semiramis did not exist until the cult leader Alexander Hislop invented it in the mid 1800s!
Second, there is no evidence of the Nimrod-Semarimis-Tammuz story from ancient sources, historical sources or archeology. I challenge any one who believes in the Nimrod hoax to provide evidence for it. There is nothing in Josephus, Philo of Alexandria, the Talmud or the Targums to give this Nimrod lie any support. There are Jewish legends about Nimrod but nothing about him marrying Semiramis or connecting her to her in any way.
The idea that all religions have a common origin and are based on sun worship is false. Sun worship is not central to many religions. Buddhists do not worship the Sun. In Hinduism Sun-worship is not central. However, in the Bible the Sun is used at times as a symbol for God and even for Jesus Christ. In the Nimrod thesis, Semiramis invented the first pagan religion and it was spread around the earth and while in different forms, such as Christianity or Roman Catholicism, it is still the same religion; the worship of Nimrod. People into the Nimrod cult seem to see the sun as a particularly evil object. Certain people almost mess their pants when they see Christians celebrating Christmas. They accuse them of pagan sun worship? In Malachi 4:2 Jesus Christ is called the “Sun of Righteousness.” Psalm 84:11 says, “For Yahweh God is a sun and shield.” In the Old Testament the sun is used to symbolize the Lord and Yeshua (Jesus). And yet many so-called Messianics turn into raving lunatics whenever anyone uses this symbolism-although it is perfectly biblical. Also, Tammuz, or Dumuzi as he is called in Babylonian, apparently was an agricultural god, not a sun god. Most of the most important gods in the ancient were fertility and agricultural gods-not sun gods. (In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh mocks Tammuz, this being so how could Tammuz have been the principal god of the Babylonians When Hislop wrote his book most of the Babylonian relics had not been deciphered. Now we know a lot about the beliefs and practices of the Babylonians. Hislop had his speculations and he has been proven WRONG!
What we know from history proves Hislop’s Nimrod Hoax false I viewed the treasures of “Ur of the Chaldees,” Abraham’s hometown, when they were here on display in Houston. During that time I picked up a book entitled “Babylonians” by H. W. F. Saggs. Naram-Sin (2291-2255 BC) was the first Babylonian king that claimed to be a god incarnate. Not Nimrod. . (Gilgamesh was supposedly 2/3rds divine but he wasn’t considered a “god.” Historians believe that he was a historical figure.)Here is how Babylonian religion developed. City states developed along the Tigris and Euphrates. Eventually, city-states merged or they were conquered by other city states until it became unified. Each city-state had its own gods and mythology. Eventually, these distinct mythologies merged together. For instance, Murdock had been a minor god but later on he became the chief deity. The myths were modified to when Murdock became pre-eminent. In reality, learning about the facts of Babylonia and not absurd lies from Hislop is very illuminating in helping us to understand the Bible better. Egyptian mythology developed the same way the Babylonian religion did. Part of the reason they had many gods was that originally the gods were gods of particular towns but when the country was unified so was the religion. The idea that Semiramis founded one religion doesn’t stand up to historical scrutiny or the archeological record. Christians are in no way obligated to believe Hislop’s trash. It simply isn’t true. The idea that all religions came out of worship of the sun is not true either. Lets read real research about Babylon and the Bible and not outdated tripe.
The real “Babylonian Mystery Religion” There is indeed a religion from Babylonia that has spread over the whole world and it is a form of divination and is forbidden in the word of God. It is the horoscope or astrology. Ironically, Michael Rood complains about Babylonian religion all the time and the information he puts our about it is fraudulent and at the same time he is actually a wizard and a practitioner of the occult and sorcery himself since a lot of his work and his (occult) calendar he promotes are astrologically derived.
Is Christianity “Pagan”?
Lee Strobel had to respond to attacks on the New Testament by Messianic Jews in his new book “The Case for the Real Jesus.” If Christianity is “pagan” then so is Judaism. Pagans inscribed their commandments and laws on stone tablets. They had temples similar to the design of the Tabernacle and the Temple of Solomon before these structures were erected. They practiced animal sacrifices. They made covenants. Many of the Psalms and Proverbs of the Old Testament are almost word for word identical to ancient pagan writings and liturgies archeologists have discovered. Jews, Christians and some pagans baptize. Does this mean baptism is derived from paganism? NO! These people who accuse Christianity of being “pagan” are actually blaspheming. There is a Messianic Jewish web-site (http://www.ebionite.org/) that attacks the New Testament and St. Paul as “pagan.” The people making these accusations are not being inspired by God’s Holy Spirit but rather by Satan.
The True Origins of the Christmas Tree: According to last years “Christian History and Biography” December edition and The Encyclopedia Britannica, Christmas trees originated in the 1500s. They was a legend that it was a tradition started by Martin Luther, but apparently this isn’t true. Christmas trees seemed to evolve out of “Christmas Pyramids,” which were used to display Christmas ornaments and the “Paradise Tree.” The birth of modern theatre was from the “Mystery, Morality, Miracle and Passion Plays” of the Middle Ages. In a Mystery Play about the “Garden of Eden” a “paradise tree” was displayed. This became sort of a fad with people making their own “paradise trees” and displaying them around the Christmas season. This later evolved into the Christmas tree. There is no evidence connecting Christmas tree to idolatry or the Germanic worship of trees. Christmas trees were unknown in America and in England as well until the late 1800s. The poem “T’was the Night Before Christmas” has stockings for gifts and no Christmas trees because American’s at that time didn’t know of Christmas trees. The practice of Christmas trees was introduced to America from Germany in the late 1800s. People usually attack Christmas by appealing to the “Two Babylons” hoax or literature from the Jehovah’s Witnesses cult group. There is no evidence that Christmas Trees are pagan.
We don’t really know when Jesus was born. And in reality it doesn’t matter. It is that he was born is what is important. Many Messianic Jews say that Jesus was born during the Feast of Tabernacles and that the reason he was born with the animals was because he was born in a “Sukkot” shelter. It is possible that Jesus was born on the Feast of Tabernacle. But it seems very doubtful that Herod would make people register for taxation during the Feast because the filing was supposed to be in the peoples “ancestral towns” and this would prevent many people whose families did not come from Jerusalem to obey the commandment of Moses to observe the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. The Bible doesn’t say that Jesus was born on the Feast of Tabernacles. Also, Sukkot were temporary shelters built for people to stay in during the feast-they weren’t barns. The Church Father’s thought that Zacharias was in the Temple during the Day of Atonement, because John’s mission was one of repentance. If John was conceived soon after the Day of Atonement in October and then Jesus was born six months afterwards, as the Bible says, then Jesus would have been born at the end of December. As Joseph Tkach says in “The Date of Jesus’ Birth”
When the temple was destroyed in a.d. 70, the priestly course of Jehoiarib was serving. If the priestly service was unbroken from the time of Zechariah to the destruction of the temple, this calculation has the course of Abijah in the first week of October. Some early Christian writers (John Chrysostom, 347-407) taught that Zechariah received the message about John’s birth on the Day of Atonement, which falls in September or October. This would place John the Baptist’s birth in June or July, and the birth of Jesus six months later, in late December or early January. Some advocates of this second method view believe that December 25 is the correct day of Jesus’ birth, while others believe that January 6 is the correct day.
See http://www.wcg.org/lit/jesus/datebirth.htm. (I’ve talked to people trying to figure out the dates mentioned in Luke such as “the sixth month.” Luke isn’t talking about months in the calendar but months in the pregnancy.) These are theories and no one knows for certain and I don’t think it is an issue worth fighting, arguing or making hateful accusations against other Christians about. I do recommend the movie “The Nativity Story” about the birth of Jesus. The only problem with the film is it has the Maji arrive the day that Mary gave birth. It is obvious they came after Jesus was circumcised and dedicated in the Temple.
60 Minutes News Program about Persecution of Assyrians
An Anglican clergyman in Baghdad, who has seen his flock murdered and forced into exile by Muslim extremists, says Christians there are worse off now than under Saddam's rule and are probably suffering more than any time in history. The Rev. Canon Andrew White, an Anglican priest known as the "Vicar of Baghdad," speaks to 60 Minutes' Scott Pelley for a segment on the persecution of Christians in Iraq to be broadcast this Sunday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. ET/PT."There's no comparison between Iraq now and [under Saddam]," says White. "Things are the most difficult they have ever been for Christians - probably ever in history," he tells Pelley, referring to the nearly 2,000 years of Christian history in the area. That's because White estimates that 90 percent of Iraq's Christians, once thought to number over a million, have either fled or have been murdered by Islamic extremists during the religious civil war.PRAY FOR IRAQ’S CHRISTIANS CONTACT STEPHEN: PO Box 882 Shepherd TX 77371 firstname.lastname@example.org