Monday, March 19, 2012

The Pope of Egypt Dies

Please remember to pray for the Coptic Christians of Egypt and for the Assyrian Christians of Iraq and Iran-pray for all Middle Eastern Christians (Maronites, ect.) and other non-Christian minorities (Yezidis and Mandaeans) who are suffering persecution during this new era of Islamic fanaticism.



Pope Shenoudah III, Patriarch of the Coptic (Egyptian) Orthodox Church of Egypt Dies.

AP Maggie Michael and Lee Keith Saturday, March 17, 2012

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — Pope Shenouda III, the patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church who led Egypt's Christian minority for 40 years during a time of increasing tensions with Muslims, died Saturday. He was 88.

His death comes as the country's estimated 10 million Christians are feeling more vulnerable than ever amid the rise of Islamic movements to political power after the toppling a year ago of President Hosni Mubarak. The months since have seen a string of attacks on the community, heightened anti-Christian rhetoric by ultraconservatives known as Salafis and fears that coming goverments will try to impose strict versions of Islamic law.

Tens of thousands of Christians packed into the main Coptic cathedral in Cairo on Saturday evening hoping to see his body. Women in black wept and screamed. Some, unable to get into the overcrowded building, massed outside, raising their hands in prayer.

"He left us in a very hard time. Look at the country and what's happening now," said Mahrous Munis, a Christian IT worker in his 30s who was among the crowds. "Copts are in a worse situation than before. God be with us."

Munis' friend, Sherif Sabry, interrupted. "He was our rock. God help us find someone who can fill his place."

An archbishop later announced to the crowd that the funeral would be held in three days, and in the meantime Shenouda's body would be put on display in the cathedral, sitting in the Mar Morqos — or St. Mark — throne from which the pope in his elaborate regalia traditionally oversaw services.

Shenouda died in his residence at the cathedral, and the state news agency MENA said he had been battling liver and lung problems for several years. Yasser Ghobrial, a physician who treated Shenouda at a Cairo hospital in 2007, said he suffered from prostate cancer that spread to his colon and lungs.

U.S. President Barack Obama paid tribute to Shenouda as "an advocate for tolerance and religious dialogue."

"We will remember Pope Shenouda III as a man of deep faith, a leader of a great faith, and an advocate for unity and reconciliation," Obama said in a statement issued by the White House. "His commitment to Egypt's national unity is also a testament to what can be accomplished when people of all religions and creeds work together."

"Baba Shenouda," as he was known to his followers, headed one of the most ancient churches in the world. The Coptic Church traces its founding to St. Mark, who is said to have brought Christianity to Egypt in the 1st Century.

For Egypt's Christians, he was a charismatic leader, known for his sense of humor — his smiling portrait was hung in many Coptic homes and shops — and a deeply conservative religious thinker who resisted calls by liberals for reform.

Above all, many Copts saw him as the guardian of their community living amid a Muslim majority in this country of more than 80 million people. Christians have long complained of being treated as second-class citizens, saying they face discrimination and that police generally fail to prosecute those behind anti-Christian attacks.

Shenouda's method was to work behind the scenes. He sought to contain Christians' anger and gave strong support to Mubarak's government, while avoiding pressing Coptic demands too vocally in public to prevent a backlash from Muslim conservatives. In return, Mubarak's regime allowed the Church wide powers among the Christian community.

In the past year, young and liberal Christians grew increasingly overt in their criticism of his approach, saying it brought little success in stemming violence or discrimination. Moreover, they argued, the Church's domination over Christians' lives further ghettoized them, making them a sect first, Egyptian citizens second.

"This was the mistake of Baba Shenouda and his predecessor. The state wanted to deal with Christians through one person," said prominent Christian columnist, Karima Kamal.

"We want the state to deal with Christians as citizens and for the Church to step aside," she said. "Christians are increasingly dealt with just as a sect."

Shenouda had one significant clash with the government, in 1981 when he accused then-President Anwar Sadat of failing to rein in Islamic militants. Sadat said Shenouda was fomenting sectarianism and sent him into internal exile in the desert monastery of Wadi Natrun, north of Cairo. Sadat was assassinated later that year by militants. Mubarak ended Shenouda's exile in 1985.

The incident illustrated the bind of Egypt's Christians. When they press too hard for more influence, some Muslims accuse them of causing sectarian splits. Many Copts saw Mubarak as their best protection against Islamic fundamentalists — but at the same time, his government often made concessions to conservative Muslims.

After Mubarak's fall, ultraconservative Salafis grew older and more vocal, accusing Christians of seeking to convert Muslim women or even take over the country. Several churches were attacked by mobs. Christian anger was further stoked when troops harshly put down a Christian protest in Cairo, killing 27 people.

In an unprecedented move aimed at showing unity, leaders from the Muslim Brotherhood along with top generals from the ruling military joined Shenouda for services for Orthodox Christmas in January at the Cairo cathedral.

"For the first time in the history of the cathedral, it is packed with all types of Islamist leaders in Egypt," Shenouda told the gathering. "They all agree ... on the stability of this country and on loving it, working for it and working with the Copts as one hand for Egypt's sake."

During the first post-Mubarak parliament elections late last year, the Church discreetly urged followers to back a liberal, secular-minded political bloc, an unusual political intervention aimed at balancing religious parties. Nevertheless, the Muslim Brotherhood won nearly half the seats in parliament and now dominate the political scene. Salafis won another fifth of the seats.

The Brotherhood's political party offered its condolences "to the Egyptian people and its Christian brothers."

Parliament speaker Saad el-Katatny, a Brotherhood member, praised the pope in an evening session, calling him a "man respected among Coptic Christians and Muslims" for his love of Egypt and his opposition to Israel's annexation of Jerusalem. Under a long-standing order, Shenouda barred his followers from pilgrimage to Jerusalem as a protest of Israel's hold on the city.

Under Church law, the process of choosing Shenouda's successor can take up to three months, though an interim leader will be picked within a week. A synod of archbishops, bishops and lay leaders will then form a committee to come up with three candidates. The names are then put in a box and a blindfolded acolyte picks one — a step meant to be guided by the will of God.

Two leading contenders are close associates of Shenouda. Archbishop Bishoy, head of the Holy Congregation, the main clerical leadership body, is seen as the more conservative figure; Archbishop Johannes, the pope's secretary, is younger — in his 50s — and seen as having a wider appeal among youth.

Shenouda was born Nazeer Gayed on Aug. 3, 1923, in the southern city of Assiut. After entering the priesthood, he became an activist in the Sunday School movement, which was launched to revive Christian religious education.

At the age of 31, Gayed became a monk, taking the name Antonious El-Syriani and spending six years in the monastery of St. Anthony. After the death of Pope Cyrilos VI, he was elected to the papacy in 1971 and took the name Shenouda.

During the 1990s, Islamic militants launched a campaign of violence, centered in southern Egypt, targeting foreign tourists, police and Christians until they were put down by a heavy crackdown. Muslim-Christian violence has flared repeatedly in the past decade, mainly in towns of the south and in the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria. Sometimes it was sparked by local disputes that took a sectarian tone, sometimes by disputes over the building of churches. The most startling attack came on New Year's 2011, when suicide bombers attacked an Alexandria church, killing 21 worshippers.

At the same time, Christian emigration has increased tremendously. Coptic immigrants in the United States, Canada, and Australia number an estimated 1.5 million, according to the pope's official Web site.

Throughout, Shenouda largely worked to contain anger among Copts.

But in one 2004 incident, he stepped aside to allow Coptic protests, sparked when Wafa Constantine, the wife of a priest, fled her home to convert to Islam. Many Christians accused police of encouraging or forcing Christians to convert. Amid the protests, Shenouda isolated himself at the Saint Bishoy monastery until the government ensured Constantine returned home. She was later quoted as saying she converted to Islam to divorce her husband, since divorce is banned by the Church.

Shenouda kept a strict line on church doctrine — including the ban on divorce, except in cases of adultery — in the face of calls by secular and liberal Copts for reform, including reducing the role of clergymen in Christians' life.

Archbishop Moussa told mourners at the cathedral that Shenouda would be buried at the Bishoy Monastery.


Caliph Uthman burned Qu'rans

Shortly after Muhammad's death the Quran was compiled into a single book by order of the first Caliph Abu Bakr and at the suggestion of his future successor Umar. Hafsa, Muhammad's widow and Umar's daughter, was entrusted with that Quranic text after the second Caliph Umar died. When the third Caliph Uthman began noticing slight differences in Arabic dialect, he sought Hafsa's permission to use her text to be set as the standard dialect, the Quraish dialect now known as Fus'ha (Modern Standard Arabic). Before returning the text to Hafsa, Uthman made several thousand copies of Abu Bakr's redaction and, to standardize the text, invalidated all other versions of the Quran. This process of formalization is known as the "Uthmanic recension". The present form of the Quran text is accepted by most scholars as the original version compiled by Abu Bakr. In about 650, as Islam expanded beyond the Arabian peninsula into Persia, the Levant and North Africa, the third caliph Uthman ibn Affan ordered the preparation of an official, standardized version, to preserve the sanctity of the text (and perhaps to keep the Rashidun Empire united, see Uthman Qur'an). Five reciters from amongst the companions produced a unique text from the first volume, which had been prepared on the orders of Abu Bakr and was kept with Hafsa bint Umar. The other copies already in the hands of Muslims in other areas were collected and sent to Medina where, on orders of the Caliph, they were destroyed by burning or boiling. This remains the authoritative text of the Quran to this day.

If one of the so-called "Rightly Guided Caliphs" burned Korans because they contained certain alternate readings, then why are Muslims killing innocent people in Afghanistan because Korans containing terrorist messages written on the margins were destroyed?

What really happened was different versions of the Koran contained different readings in certain places. There were textual variations. Muslims claim that the Koran is the perfect word of God. How can you insist upon that when different versions of the Koran don't agree with each other in certain places? The solution the Muslims can upon was to standardize the text and destroy all non-authorized versions. Most likely many authentic oracles given by Muhammad were destroyed in the process. Uthman probably also took the opportunity to alter the text, and get rid of certain controversial and embarassing Suras, such as "the Camel of God," about a magical Camel. (The story is alluded to in other Suras but John of Damascus was familiar with the original account.)

Uthman was one of the so-called "Rightly Guided Caliphs." I think it is interesting that all the "Rightly Guided Caliphs" died violent deaths and that says a lot about Islam. (Abu Baker was poisoned the rest were violently assassinated.) The "Rightly Guided Caliphs" called the rashidun were:

Samaritans and Kenites

Samaritan Aramaic, or Samaritan, is the dialect of Aramaic used by the Samaritans in their sacred and scholarly literature. This should not be confused with the Samaritan Hebrew language of the Scriptures. It ceased to be a spoken language some time between the 10th and the 12th centuries. In form it resembles the Aramaic of the Targumim, the Aramaic word for "interpretation" or "paraphrase", and is written in the Samaritan alphabet. Important works written in Samaritan include the Samaritan translation of the Samaritan Hebrew Pentateuch in the form of the targum paraphrased version. There are also legal, exegetical and liturgical texts, though later works of the same kind were often written in Arabic.

Exodus XX.1-6:

  1. Umellel Elâ'e yet kel milleyya aalen elmimar.
  2. Ana Šema Eluek deppiqtek men ara Mişrem mibbet awadem.
  3. La ya'i lak ela'en uranem al eppi.
  4. La tewed lak efsel ukel demu debšumeyya millel wedbaraa millera wedbameyya millera laraa.
  5. La tisgad lon ula tešememminon ala anaki Šema elaak el qana fuqed ob awaan al banem wel telitaem wel rewi'a'em elsenai.
  6. Wabed esed lalafem elra'emi welnateri fiqqudi.

Notice the similarities with Judeo-Aramaic as found in Targum Onqelos to this same passage (some expressions below are paraphrased, not literally translated):

  1. וּמַלֵּיל יְיָ יָת כָּל פִּתְגָמַיָּא הָאִלֵּין לְמֵימַר
  2. אֲנָא יְיָ אֱלָהָךְ דְּאַפֵּיקְתָּךְ מֵאַרְעָא דְּמִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עַבְדוּתָא
  3. לָא יִהְוֵי לָךְ אֱלָהּ אָחֳרָן, בָּר מִנִּי
  4. לָא תַּעֲבֵיד לָךְ צֵילַם וְכָל דְּמוּ דְּבִשְׁמַיָּא מִלְּעֵילָא וְדִבְאַרְעָא מִלְּרַע וְדִבְמַיָּא מִלְּרַע לְאַרְעָא
  5. לָא תִּסְגּוֹד לְהוֹן וְלָא תִּפְלְחִנִּין אֲרֵי אֲנָא יְיָ אֱלָהָךְ אֵל קַנָּא מַסְעַר חוֹבֵי אֲבָהָן עַל בְּנִין מָרָדִין עַל דָּר תְּלִיתַאי וְעַל דָּר רְבִיעַאי לְסָנְאָי כַּד מַשְׁלְמִין בְּנַיָּא לְמִחְטֵי בָּתַר אֲבָהָתְהוֹן
  6. וְעָבֵיד טֵיבוּ לְאַלְפֵי דָּרִין לְרָחֲמַי וּלְנָטְרֵי פִּקּוֹדָי


The Samaritans (Hebrew: שומרונים‎ Shomronim, Arabic: السامريونas-Sāmariyyūn) are an ethnoreligious group of the Levant. Religiously the Samaritans are adherents of Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism. Based on the Samaritan Torah, Samaritans claim their worship is the true religion of the ancient Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel, as opposed to Judaism, which they assert is a related but altered and amended religion brought back by those returning from exile. Ancestrally, Samaritans claim descent from a group of Israelite inhabitants from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (the two sons of Joseph) as well as some descendants from the priestly tribe of Levi,[4] who have connections to ancient Samaria from the period of their entry into the land of Canaan, while some suggest that it was from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the Samaritan Kingdom of Baba Rabba. The Samaritans, however, derive their name not from this geographical designation, but rather from the Hebrew term Shamerim שַמֶרִים, "Keepers [of the Law]"[5]In the Talmud, a central post-exilic religious text of Judaism, Samaritan claim of ancestral origin is disputed, and in those texts they are called Cutheans (Hebrew: כותים‎, Kuthim), allegedly from the ancient city of Cuthah (Kutha), geographically located in what is today Iraq. Modern genetics has suggested some truth to both the claims of the Samaritans and the mainstream Jewish accounts in the Talmud.[6]
Historically, Samaritans were a large community — up to more than a million in late Roman times, but were then gradually reduced to several tens of thousands a few centuries ago — their unprecedented demographic shrinkage has been a result of various historical events, including, most notably, the bloody suppression of the Third Samaritan Revolt (529 AD) against the Byzantine
Christian rulers, and the mass expulsions and conversions to Islam in the Early Muslim period of Palestine.[7][8] According to their tally, there were 745[1] Samaritans as of November 30, 2011, living exclusively in two localities, one in Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim near the city of Nablus in the West Bank, and the other in the Israeli city of Holon.[9] Also eight families in Gaza City were found to be Samaritans. There are followers of various backgrounds adhering to Samaritan traditions outside of Israel, especially in the United States. With the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language by Jews in Israel, and its growth and officialization following the establishment of the state, most Samaritans in Israel today speak Modern Hebrew. The most recent spoken mother tongue of the Samaritans was Arabic, as it is for those in the West Bank city of Nablus. For liturgical purposes, Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic, and Samaritan Arabic are used, all of which are written in the Samaritan alphabet, a variant of the Old Hebrew alphabet, distinct from the so-called square script "Hebrew alphabet" of Jews and Judaism, which is a stylized form of the Aramaic alphabet.[10] Hebrew, and later, Aramaic, were languages in use by the Jewish and Samaritan inhabitants of Judea prior to the Roman exile.[11]
According to Samaritan tradition, Mount Gerizim was the original Holy Place of the Israelites from the time that Joshua conquered Canaan and the tribes of Israel settled the land. The reference to Mount Gerizim derives from the biblical story of Moses ordering Joshua to take the Twelve Tribes of Israel, (the number of which did not include the priestly tribe of Levi) to the mountains by Nablus and place half of the tribes, six in number, on the top of Mount Gerizim, the Mount of the Blessing, and the other half in Mount Ebal, the Mount of the Curse. The two mountains were used to symbolize the significance of the commandments and serve as a warning to whoever disobeyed them (Deut. 11:29; 27:12; Josh. 8:33). The Samaritans have insisted that they are direct descendants of the Northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, who survived the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 722 BC. The inscription of Sargon II records the deportation of a relatively small proportion of the Israelites from Samaria (27,290, according to the annals),[12] so it is quite possible that a sizable population remained[13] that could identify themselves as Israelites, the term that the Samaritans prefer for themselves. Samaritan historiography would place the basic schism from the remaining part of Israel after the tribes of Israel conquered and returned to the land of Canaan, led by Joshua. After Joshua's death, Eli the priest left the tabernacle which Moses erected in the desert and established on Mount Gerizim, and built another one under his own rule in the hills of Shiloh. Thus, he established both an illegitimate priesthood and an illegitimate place of worship. Abu l-Fath, who in the 14th century AD wrote a major work of Samaritan history, comments on Samaritan origins as follows:[14]
A terrible civil war broke out between Eli son of Yafni, of the line of Ithamar, and the sons of Pincus (Phinehas), because Eli son of Yafni resolved to usurp the High Priesthood from the descendants of Pincus. He used to offer sacrifices on an altar of stones. He was 50 years old, endowed with wealth and in charge of the treasury of the children of Israel...He offered a sacrifice on the altar, but without salt, as if he were inattentive. When the Great High Priest Ozzi learned of this, and found the sacrifice was not accepted, he thoroughly disowned him; and it is (even) said that he rebuked him. Thereupon he and the group that sympathized with him, rose in revolt and at once he and his followers and his beasts set off for Shiloh. Thus Israel split in factions. He sent to their leaders saying to them, Anyone who would like to see wonderful things, let him come to me. Then he assembled a large group around him in Shiloh, and built a Temple for himself there; he constructed a place like the Temple (on Mount Gerizim). He built an altar, omitting no detail — it all corresponded to the original, piece by piece. At this time the Children of Israel split into three factions. A loyal faction on Mount Gerizim; a heretical faction that followed false gods; and the faction that followed Eli son of Yafni on Shiloh. Further, the Samaritan Chronicle Adler, or New Chronicle, believed to have been composed in the 18th century AD using earlier chronicles as sources states: And the children of Israel in his days divided into three groups. One did according to the abominations of the Gentiles and served other gods; another followed Eli the son of Yafni, although many of them turned away from him after he had revealed his intentions; and a third remained with the High Priest Uzzi ben Bukki, the chosen place.

Assyrian account of the conquest and settlement of Samaria

However, the following account of the Assyrian kings, which was among the archaeological discoveries in Babylon, differs from the Samaritan and Jewish Biblical accounts:

[the Samar]ians [who had agreed with a hostile king]...I fought with them and decisively defeated them]....carried off as spoil. 50 chariots for my royal force ...[the rest of them I settled in the midst of Assyria]....The Tamudi, Ibadidi, Marsimani and Hayappa, who live in distant Arabia, in the desert, who knew neither overseer nor commander, who never brought tribute to any king--with the help of Ashshur my lord, I defeated them. I deported the rest of them. I settled them in Samaria/Samerina.(Sargon II Inscriptions, COS 2.118A, p. 293) Also, The inhabitants of Samaria/Samerina, who agreed [and plotted] with a king [hostile to] me, not to do service and not to bring tribute [to Ashshur] and who did battle, I fought against them with the power of the great gods, my lords. I counted as spoil 27,280 people, together with their chariots, and gods, in which they trusted. I formed a unit with 200 of [their] chariots for my royal force. I settled the rest of them in the midst of Assyria. I repopulated Samaria/Samerina more than before. I brought into it people from countries conquered by my hands. I appointed my eunuch as governor over them. And I counted them as Assyrians.(Nimrud Prisms, COS 2.118D, pp. 295-296)

The Samaritan religion is based on some of the same books used as the basis of mainstream Judaism, but differs from the latter. Samaritan scriptures include the Samaritan version of the Torah, the Memar Markah, the Samaritan liturgy, and Samaritan law codes and biblical commentaries. Samaritans appear to have texts of the Torah as old as the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint; scholars have various theories concerning the actual relationships between these three texts.

Religious beliefs

The Samaritans retained the Ancient Hebrew script, the high priesthood, animal sacrifices, the eating of lambs at Passover, and the celebration of Aviv in spring as the New Year. Yom Teruah (the biblical name for Rosh Hashanah), at the beginning of Tishrei, is not considered a new year as it is in Judaism. Their main Torah text differs from the Masoretic Text, as well. Some differences are doctrinal: for example, their Torah explicitly states that Mount Gerizim is "the place that God has chosen" for the Temple, as opposed to the Jewish Torah that refers to "the place that God will choose". Other differences are minor and seem more or less accidental.

Relationship to mainstream Judaism Samaritans refer to themselves as Bene Yisrael ("Children of Israel") which is a term used by all Jewish denominations as a name for the Jewish people as a whole. They however do not refer to themselves as Yehudim (Judeans), the standard Hebrew name for Jews, considering the latter to denote only mainstream Jews. The Talmudic attitude expressed in tractate Kutim is that they are to be treated as Jews in matters where their practice coincides with the mainstream but are treated as non-Jews where their practice differs. Since the 19th century, mainstream Judaism has regarded the Samaritans as a Jewish sect and the term Samaritan Jews has been used for them.[40]

Religious texts Samaritan law is not the same as halakha (Rabbinical Jewish law). The Samaritans have several groups of religious texts, which correspond to Jewish halakhah. A few examples of such texts are:

    • Samaritan Pentateuch: only inspired text. (Contains about 6,000 variations from the Masoretic text. Most are minor.)
  • Historical writings
    • Samaritan Halakhic Text, The Hillukh (Code of halakhah, marriage, circumcision, etc.)
    • Samaritan Halakhic Text, the Kitab at-Tabbah (Halacha and interpretation of some verses and chapters from the Torah, written by Abu Al Hassan 12th century CE)
    • Samaritan Halakhic Text, the Kitab al-Kafi (Book of Halakhah, written by Yosef Al Ascar 14th century CE)
    • Al-Asatir—legendary Aramaic texts form 11th 12th centuries, containing:
      • Haggadic Midrash, Abu'l Hasan al-Suri
      • Haggadic Midrash, Memar Markah—3rd or 4th century theological treaties attributed to Hakkam Markha
      • Haggadic Midrash, Pinkhas on the Taheb
      • Haggadic Midrash, Molad Maseh (On the birth of Moses)
  • Defter, prayer book of psalms and hymns.[41]

Kenites (Jewish —Biblical Data: A tribe of Palestine, mentioned in the time of Abraham as possessing a part of the promised land (Gen. xv. 19). At the Exodus it inhabited the vicinity of Sinai and Horeb; and to it belonged Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses (Judges i. 16). In Ex. iii. 1 Jethro is said to have been "priest of Midian" and a Midianite (Num. iv. 29); hence the conclusion seems justified that the Midianites and Kenites are identical. The Kenites journeyed with the Israelites to Palestine (Judges i. 16); and their encampment, apart from the latter's, was noticed by Balaam (Num. xxiv. 21-22). At a later period some of the Kenites separated from their brethren in the south, and went to northern Palestine (Judges iv. 11), where they existed in the time of Saul. The kindness which they had shown to Israel in the wilderness was gratefully remembered. "Ye showed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt," said Saul to them (I Sam. xv. 6); and so not only were they spared by him, but David allowed them to share in the spoil that he took from the Amalekites (ib. xxx. 29).

E. G. H. B. P.—Critical View: According to the critical interpretation of the Biblical data, the Kenites were a clan settled on the southern border of Judah, originally more advanced in arts than the Hebrews, and from whom the latter learned much. In the time of David the Kenites were finally incorporated into the tribe of Judah (I Sam. xxx. 29; comp. ib. xxvii. 10). Their eponymous ancestor was Cain (Kain), to whose descendants J in Gen. iv. attributes the invention of the art of working bronze and iron, the use of instruments of music, etc. Sayce has inferred (in Hastings, "Dict. Bible," s.v.) that the Kenites were a tribe of smiths—a view to which J's statements would lend support. Jethro, priest of Midian, and father-in-law of Moses, is said (Judges i. 16) to have been a Kenite.This indicates that the Kenites originally formed part of the Midianite tribe or tribes. In Ex. xviii. 12 et seq., according to E, Jethro initiates Moses and Aaron into the worship of Yhwh. Several modern scholars believe, in consequence of this statement, that Yhwh was a Kenite deity, and that from the Kenites through the agency of Moses his worship passed to the Israelites. This view, first proposed by Ghillany, afterward independently by Tiele, and more fully by Stade, has been more completely worked out by Budde; and is accepted by Guthe, Wildeboer, H. P. Smith, and Barton. The Kenites, then, were a nomadic tribe, more advanced in the arts of life than Israel. Their habitat, according to the first Biblical reference to them, was in the Sinaitic peninsula (unless Horeb is to be sought in Edom), and a part of them, viz., Jethro and his family (Num. x. 29-32; Judges l.c.), migrated with the Israelites to the neighborhood of Jericho, afterward settled in the south of Judah, and were finally absorbed by that tribe.


(The below is from the Jewish Virtual Library and Encyclopedia Judaica)

KENITE (Heb. קֵינִי), a large group of nomadic clans engaged chiefly in metal working. The root qyn has the same meaning in cognate Semitic languages, e.g., in Arabic qayna, "tinsmith," "craftsman"; in Syriac and Aramaic qyn'h, qyny, "metalsmith." In the Bible the word kayin (qayin) also means a weapon made of metal, probably a spear (II Sam. 21:16); and the proper noun "Tubal-Cain, who forged all the implements of copper and iron" (Gen. 4:22) is a compound name in which the second noun indicates the trade. There is a connection between this trade and the story of *Cain who wandered from place to place and was protected by a special sign: "Therefore, if anyone kills Cain, sevenfold vengeance shall be taken on him" (Gen. 4:15). Among primitive tribes to the present day there are clans of coppersmiths and tinsmiths whom it is considered a grave offense to harm.

The Kenites came from the south: Midian, Edom, and the Arabah. Hobab (*Jethro), son of Reuel the Midianite, who aided the Israelites in the desert and served as their pathfinder (Num. 10:29–32), was also known as the Kenite (Judg. 1:16; 4:11). Enoch, son of Cain (Gen. 4:17), is also mentioned among the Midianites (Gen. 25:4; I Chron. 1:33). Balaam's prophecy about the Kenites, "Though your abode be secure, and your nest be set among cliffs" (Num. 24:21) appears to be a reference to the mountains of Midian and Edom (cf. Obad. 3–4), and Sela ("cliffs") designates perhaps the Edomite mountain-fortress Sela (today al-Saʿl near Baṣrah) around which rich copper deposits were located. The house of Rechab, which had preserved traditions of the time of the Exodus, was related to the Kenites (I Chron. 2:55), and apparently also to Ir-Nahash and Ge-Harashim (I Chron. 4:12–14), modern Khirbet Naḥās ("copper ruin," or "ruin of the copper city") in the Arabah, a copper mining center.

The Kenites were enumerated among the early peoples of Canaan, together with the Kenizzites and the Kadmonites (Gen. 15:19). Relations between the Israelites and the Kenites were good, but B. Stade and others argued for Kenite influence on Moses and the religion of Israel. This "Kenite hypothesis" (updated by Halpern and by van der Toorn) holds that YHWH was not originally the God of the Hebrews and was not even known to the Hebrews. He was originally a Kenite tribal god who became known to Moses through his Kenite father-in-law, Jethro. Moses then made YHWH known to the Hebrews, who accepted Him as their God. As observed by van der Toorn, the Kenite hypothesis nicely accounts for the absence of Yahweh from earlier pantheons, Yahweh's link with Edom (Deut. 33:2), the Kenite connection of Moses, and the Bible's positive attitude to Kenites. The major problem comes from the current scholarly view that the majority of Israelites originated in Canaan and did not trek through the desert encountering Kenites all the way as the Bible would have it. The historical role of Moses is likewise problematic. Nonetheless, the important role of the Kenites in early Israelite worship has been emphasized by the discovery of an Israelite sanctuary at *Arad. This explains the note of Judges 1:16 about the Kenite family related to Moses (according to the Septuagint descendants, this venerated family served as priests in the sanctuary). They entered the region from the "city of palm trees," which cannot here indicate Jericho, but more likely refers to Zoar or Tamar in the northern part of the Arabah. Also, Heber, the Kenite husband or clan of Jael, who was at the time of the Deborah battle in northern Ereẓ Israel near Mount Tabor belonged to the Hobab family (Judg. 4:11). It is hardly incidental that they pitched their tent at the oak (Heb. eʾlon) in Zaanaim or Zaananim, evidently a holy tree. Their connection with early Yahwistic worship does not exclude the assumption that for a good part they made their livelihood as metal craftsmen (Judg. 5:26).

Other Kenite families evidently occupied the region in the south, centering around Arad. This is the Negev of the Kenites and the cities of the Kenites referred to in the stories from the time of David (I Sam. 27:10; 30:29). These settlements apparently included Kinah near Arad (Josh. 15:22), and possibly Kain on the border of the wilderness of Judah (15:57). In the same region were also found the Amalekites, who wandered in Edom, Sinai, and the Negev, and among whom the Kenites lived. According to the Septuagint, Judges 1:16 should read "and dwelt among the Amalekites" (MT, "among the people (ʿam)"). In view of the kindness the Kenites had shown to Israel during the Exodus (I Sam. 15:6), Saul gave them friendly warning before attacking the Amalekites.


Abel, Geog, 1 (1933), 273; W.J.T. Phythian-Adams, Israel in the Araba (1934); Th. J. Meek, Hebrew Origins (1936), 93ff; S. Abramsky, in: Eretz Israel, 3 (1954), 116–24; W.F. Albright, in: CBQ, 25 (1963), 3–9 (incl. bibl.); idem, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan (1968), 33–37; Aharoni, in: Land, 185, 198, 259, 298; B. Mazar, in: JNES, 24 (1965), 297–303; R. De Vaux, in: Ereẓ Israel, 9 (1969),

New Discoveries?

First century ossuary inscribed with Sacred Name of God?

On one crudely hand-carved box is what appears to be a large fish spewing forth a person, iconography that suggests the story of Jonah and the whale, a popular Bible story that Christians associate with the resurrection of Christ (just as Jonah was resurrected from the whale). On a second ossuary bearing ornamental rosette carvings is what they claim is a rare inscription: "Jehovah (God), raise up, raise up." It's this inscription in ancient Greek that, together with the fish and Jonah symbols, suggests early Christian beliefs and perhaps a belief in Jesus' resurrection. "It is the only statement of faith found on any ossuary out of some 2,000 [that have been found in the area]," Jacobovici said. Indeed, marking an ossuary with such symbols would have been contrary to Jewish beliefs at the time, as would naming God in stone. This is why Tabor and Jacobovici are convinced the markings represent the beginnings of Christianity.

BUT-Jacobovici has a tendency to sensationalize things and has made some strange leaps to bizarre theories.

For more information see

Questions raised about possible clues to Jesus and disciples
Written By
John R. Quain Published February 29, 2012 F
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Help Suffering Aramaic Chrisitans

Iraqi Christian Relief Council, a 501(c)(3) organization, in coordination with entities and organizations in the United States of America, is responsible for educating the Americans of the religious and ethnic cleansing being inflicted on Christians in Iraq. Our objective in raising awareness among the Americans is asking for their prayers, raising, and delivering financial assistance for the Iraqi Christians affected by these atrocities. All contributions are deductible for computing income and estate taxes.

Iraqi Christian Relief Council


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Telephone: 847.401.8846


Juliana Taimoorazy

Israelis reportedly don't plan to notify US if decision made to strike Iran (Feb 27) Israeli officials say they won't warn the U.S. if they decide to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, one U.S. intelligence official familiar with the discussions told the Associated Press. The pronouncement, delivered in a series of private, top-level conversations, sets a tense tone ahead of meetings in the coming days at the White House and Capitol Hill. Israeli officials said that if they eventually decide a strike is necessary, they would keep the Americans in the dark to decrease the likelihood that the U.S. would be held responsible for failing to stop Israel's potential attack. The U.S. has been working with the Israelis for months to persuade them that an attack would be only a temporary setback to Iran's nuclear program. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak delivered the message to a series of top-level U.S. visitors to the country, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House national security adviser and the director of national intelligence, and top U.S. lawmakers, all trying to close the trust gap between Israel and the U.S. over how to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions. Iran claims its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but the International Atomic Energy Agency has raised alarms that its uranium enrichment program might be a precursor to building nuclear weapons. The US has said it does not know whether the government has decided to weaponize its nuclear material and put it on a missile or other delivery device.The secret warning is likely to worry US officials and begin the high level meetings with Israel and the US far apart on how to handle Iran. But the apparent decision to keep the U.S. in the dark also stems from Israel's frustration with the White House. After a visit by National Security Adviser Tom Donilon in particular, they became convinced the Americans would neither take military action, nor go along with unilateral action by Israel against Iran. The Israelis concluded they would have to conduct a strike unilaterally -- a point they are likely to hammer home in a series of meetings over the next two weeks in Washington, the official said. Barak will meet with top administration and congressional officials during his visit. Netanyahu arrives in Washington for meetings with President Barack Obama next week. The behind-the-scenes warning belies the publicly united front the two sides have attempted to craft with the shuttle diplomacy to each other's capitals. "It's unprecedented outreach to Israel to make sure we are working together to develop the plan to deter Iran from developing a nuclear weapon," and to keep them from exporting terrorism, said Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee. He traveled there with the intelligence committee chairman, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., to meet Israel's prime minister and defense minister, along with other officials. "We talked about the fact that sanctions are working and they are going to get a lot more aggressive," Ruppersberger added. They also discussed talked about presenting a unified front to Iran, to counter the media reports that the two countries are at odds over how and when to attack Iran. "We have to learn from North Korea. All those (peace) talks and stalling and they developed a nuclear weapon," he said. "We are going to send a message, enough is enough, the stalling is over. ... All options are on the table." "I got the sense that Israel is incredibly serious about a strike on their nuclear weapons program," Rogers told CNN on Monday. "It's their calculus that the administration ... is not serious about a real military consequence to Iran moving forward. They believe they're going to have to make a decision on their own, given the current posture of the United States," he added. U.S. intelligence and special operations officials have tried to keep a dialogue going with Israel, despite the high-level impasse, sharing with them options such as allowing Israel to use U.S. bases in the region from which to launch such a strike, as a way to make sure the Israelis give the Americans a heads-up, according to the U.S. official, and a former U.S. official with knowledge of the communications

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March 2, 2012President Barack Obama warned that he is not bluffing about attacking Iran if it builds a nuclear weapon, but in an interview published Friday, Obama also cautioned U.S. ally Israel that a premature attack on Iran would do more harm than good. His comments appeared aimed more at Israel and its supporters in the United States than at Iran. "I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff," he said Obama will try to convince Netanyahu to postpone any plans his government may have to unilaterally attack Iran's nuclear facilities in coming months. An attack that soon would not carry U.S. backing

Saudi Arabia May Be Tied to 9/11, 2 Ex-Senators SayBy

Published: February 29, 2012

WASHINGTON — For more than a decade, questions have lingered about the possible role of the Saudi government in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, even as the royal kingdom has made itself a crucial counterterrorism partner in the eyes of American diplomats. Now, in sworn statements that seem likely to reignite the debate, two former senators who were privy to top secret information on the Saudis' activities say they believe that the Saudi include the work of a number of Saudi-sponsored charities with financial links to Al Qaeda, as well as the role of a Saudi citizen living in San Diego at the time of the attacks, Omar al-Bayoumi, who had ties to two of the hijackers and to Saudi officials, Mr. Graham said in his affidavit "I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia," former Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, said in an affidavit filed as part of a lawsuit brought against the Saudi government and dozens of institutions in the country by families of Sept. 11 victims and others. Mr. Graham led a joint 2002 Congressional inquiry into the attacks. ment might have played a direct role in the terrorist attacks. Unanswered questions

Is the truth about Saudi Arabia being a terrorist state finally going to be told?

Well-Obama isn't going to do it. One of his first acts in office was to literally and disgracefully prostrate himself before the Saudi Arabian king with his infamous bow. Democrats attacked Bush for holding hands with the terrorist leader the terrorist leader the terrorist leader King Abdullah-the Obama bows down before him. Obama's reaction to radical Islam overall has been very weak and tepid. If we had a real leader in a president-he would list Saudi Arabia as a state sponsor of terrorism. "But Obama killed Bin Ladin" they say! Obama's reaction to radical Islam overall has been very weak and tepid. If we had a real leader in a president-he wouild list Saudi Arabia as a state sponsor of terrorism. ing Abdullah-then Obama bows down before him. Obama's reaction to radical Islam overall has been very weak and tepid. If we had a real leader in a president-he wouild list Saudi Arabia as a state sponsor of terrorism. ing Abdullah-then Obama bows down before him. Obama's reaction to radical Islam overall has been very weak and tepid. If we had a real leader in a president-he wouild list Saudi Arabia as a state sponsor of terrorism. ing Abdullah-then Obama bows down before him. Obama's reaction to radical Islam overall has been very weak and tepid. If we had a real leader in a president-he wouild list Saudi Arabia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

I will give him credit for that-but you have to look at the big picture. His weakness is emboldening Iran and Syria. I lived in Syria. His weakness is encouraging the regime there (which is controlled by Iran) to massacre thousands. Also, you have to go against the ideology of terror. Bin Ladin was just one man-a very influential man-but we need to discredit and delegitimize radical Islam-something that Clinton, Bush and now Obama won't do. u have to go against the ideology of terror. Bin Laden was just one man-a very influential man-but we need to discredit and delegitimatize radical islam-something that Clinton, Bush and now Obama won't do.

I think that Bin Ladin should not have been killed-and it was a kill mission. He should have been arrested, stood trial and then have been executed for his crimes against humanity. He was probably killed to protect the Saudis-since Bin Ladin was clearly a Saudi agent. Didn't the Iraq war do more to de-stabilize the Middle East and encourage terrorism than anything Obama has ever done? No. After the surge we brought considerable stability to Iraq. I know-I was there both before and after the surge. He has squandered the stability we bought with our blood with his premature withdrawal. 911 and the Iraq War have little to do with the rise of radical Islam. I have been to the Middle East many times since 1991-watching violence against Coptic and Aramaic Christians and a growing threat the world chose to ignore and still ignores-while the genocide against Middle Eastern Christians continues.

I was in Iraq-helping people-and showing the Iraqis great kindness-in both of my deployments. I think it is disgraceful that democrats undermined the war effort so that they could influence the coming elections-disregarding what was best for national security and the stability of the region and for the people of Iraq. All the lies and distortions and hateful propaganda in movies-coming from people who are cowards and don't have the guts to serve. Most "Middle Eastern Studies" departments are Saudi financed and the "experts" put out the Saudi line. Most insurgeants were non-Iraqi or working for Saudis and Syrians. These dictators didn't want a functional democracy in their backyard-otherwise you would have what we have now in Syria-a pro-democracy movement. People say a lot of crap-but I have lived in the Middle East and talked to the common people-they respect America for its democratic traditions-and MANY,MANY Arabs have said to me what they admire most about America is term limits and they want free and fair elections and term limits in their own countries-but the experts say Arabs don't want democracy-well-they are fighting and dying for it right now-while Obama turns his back on them and a blind eye to the Iranians and Syrian regime wiping out thousands-and Obama refused to give the Iranian people our moral support in 2009 and let a possible revolution fail.

Obama Negotiates not only with terrorists-but with the very terrorists who carried out the 911 attacks

Romney, who has won the first two Republican contests in the race to pick a nominee to face Democratic President Barack Obama in November, strongly rejected any sort of talks with the Taliban."The right course for America is not to negotiate with the Taliban while the Taliban are killing our soldiers," Romney said during a debate of the five Republican presidential hopefuls ahead of Saturday's South Carolina primary. "The right course is to recognize that they are the enemy of the United States." Romney said Obama had put the United States in a position of "extraordinary weakness" because he had made a decision based on a political calendar on when to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and because he has even publicly announced the date when the United States would completely withdraw from the country. "We don't negotiate from a position of weakness as we are pulling our troops out," Romney said. "We should not negotiate with the Taliban. We should defeat the Taliban."

Obama says-"Yes, I have brought radical Islamist regimes into power in Libya and Egypt and yes, I am giving Iraq to Iran, and I am letting Iran massacre innocent thousands in Syria and I am allowing Iran to become a nuclear power and yes, I am giving Afghanistan back to the Taliban who orchestrated the 911 attacks, and yes I have demonstrated American weakness to the world and shown the world that America will not stand beside her allies by pulling all the troops from Iraq and yes, I have apologised to terrorists who murdered American heroes in Afghanistan because Korans that had terrorist messages written into them were accidently destroyed-BUT I KILLED BIN LADIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" It is called satire. The point is Obama policy is advancing radical Islam and endangering America-but you try to discuss these serious issues with an Obama-zombie they say-"he killed Bin Labin." Under Obama the world has become a much more dangerous place. Let us also add-that he has done nothing to speak out in the defense of Assyrian and Coptic Christians BUT he apologizes because Korans that terrorists were using to pass messages to each other were destroyed. When Bibles were burned in Afghanistan by the US Army-less-God forbid-Muslims read them-no apology. Imagine what would happen if Afghans got those Bibles-why they might have learned about Christianity and Judaism-they might have been exposed to different points of view and become more educated and perhaps learned about others and become more open minded and tolerant. So. Liberals are relieved that those Bibles were burned-I am still waiting for the apology from the White House. Liberals often compare conservatives to Nazis-but who celebrates book burning? By the way-I am very offended that the US Army forced Army chaplains to burn copies of the Bible in Afghanistan. It was an act of sacrilege. Look, I read the Koran-we need inter-faith communication. Muslims need to learn about other religions too and gain tolerance.

Other issues to be concerned about: The United States government paid 5 million dollars to the Egyptian government who was holding several American aide workers as hostages. This is an outrage. Also, Google has changed its privacy rules-meaning peoples private information isn't private anymore. At the same time the UN is trying to take over the internet. (The obscure branch of the U.N. at issue is the International Telecommunication Union, whose 193 member states include the U.S. and which was convening this week in Geneva. The ostensible purpose of the conference is to seek consensus for an updating of the last set of international telecom regulations, known as ITRs, which were issued in 1988. Read more: ) That is very dangerous. My main fear is that they would silence any criticism of Islam or anything that portrays or could portray Islam in a negative light-such as news of Christians being persecuted in Africa in Islamic countries, in the Middle East and other Islamic regions. Another thing to be concerned about is the UN's "Agenda 21" program-which is designed for the UN to take over the world. The UN openly discusses this sinister plot on their website saying, "Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment." The plot was organized in 1992. A UN report released last month called "21 Issues for the 21st Century" has sounded the alarm for those who don't appreciate a group of non-elected official telling countries how to behave. The report comes after 2 years of research conducted by 22 core scientists. The Rio+20 United Nations Conference in June on Sustainable Development in Brazil is expected to highlight the report. The report calls for a complete re-do on how the world's food and water is created and distributed, they say in order to save us from ourselves. An article from drops a quote from author Chris Horner (his book–Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud and Deception to Keep You Misinformed):
UN to propose planetary regulations of water, food The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Foresight Process report, titled "21 Issues for the 21st Century," suggests global regulations of food and water to deal with impending shortages and threats. (UNEP) An environmental report issued by an agency of the
United Nations last month has some critics sounding the alarm, saying it is a clarion call for "global governance" over how the Earth is managed. The report, "21 Issues for the 21st Century," from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Foresight Process, is the culmination of a two-year deliberative process involving 22 core scientists. It is expected to receive considerable attention in the run-up to the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which will be held in Rio, Brazil, in June. The scientists who wrote the report say it focuses on identifying emerging issues in the global environment, and that it is not about mandating solutions. But its critics see an agenda lurking in its 60 pages, which call for a complete overhaul of how the world's food and water are created and distributed -- something the report says is "urgently needed" for the human race to keep feeding and hydrating itself safely. Read more:

What is going on with Stephen?

I am very busy right now with CCCC-Chaplain's Captain Career Course. Half of March I will be taking this intensive on-line course. It is a huge amount of work. The residency portion of this course will be the last two weeks of April. In May I will be promoting my books and comics at Comicpalooza in Houston.
I hope to do some traveling this summer. I will be taking CCCI instead of going on annual training. I should have time for travel this summer-since I won't have weeks of military obligations as I usually do.

MARCH: finishing on-line portion of CCCC. Perhaps going to Southwestern to look into their doctoral program.

APRIL: Last two weeks I have military duty.

MAY: Comicpalooza-at the end of the month-In the early part of the month I will be preparing for the convention. Comicpalooza in May 25-27th.

In the summer-except for drill weekend-I will be free.

Summer Travel

I would like to go either to Egypt or to China-for the Silk Road tour. China would take some study preparation. There is a group going on a Silk Road tour-but I am not certain if I want to go with that group or go out on my own. I am ready to go back to Egypt-having been there before. In Egypt I would be studying the Exodus and visiting with the Coptic Church. If I go on the Silk Road Expedition-I will be studying the history of the Nestorian Church on the Silk Road and in China.

Doctoral Studies

I still haven't decided where I am going to pursue my education. I have three main choices: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dallas Theological Seminary and Liberty University. I am mainly considering SWBTS and Liberty. What I would like to study is Old Testament-and focus on the Exodus. I would have to study at Fort Worth if I go to SWBTS. If I go to Liberty I will be studying "Apologetics" and I would have to go on 16 weeklong intensives at Lynchburg, Virginia. That is a lot of trips to Virginia. DTS has a class on multi-cultural ministry in Houston-but I am not really interested in "multi-culturalism."

Financial Situation

Not good. But I am going to have faith in God's provision.

Points to Ponder:

I went to Africa. It was basically a missions trip. I need to try to build on this experience and continue the work. How do I do that? I need to say involved with global missions.

I was also thinking-I should earn a doctorate-but I shouldn't earn a doctorate just to earn a doctorate. I need to begin a teaching ministry. I should earn a doctorate-but I need to have a teaching ministry NOW. What I would like to do is have a teaching ministry like Perry Stone and Michael Rood. (Michael Rood puts out a lot of fraudulent information-but has good presentations.) I have some teaching videos. I have a good foundation with my youtube, which has received about 400,000 hits and my blog which has about 20,000. Once I finish with the CCCC I will be able to focus on other things. For now it is basically consuming all my time. I have to finish probably forty hours or more of course work by March 15.

ONE OF THE THINGS I FEEL I NEED TO DO SOON: is to create a couple of booklets entitled "A History of Christianity Under Islam." Part One will be about the Copts and part two will be about the Assyrians. I want to have a quick reference of all the pogroms and massacres of Christians that have occurred on average about every fifty years starting with the Islamic Invasion or "Islamic Conquest." It perturbs me that Muslims claim to have shown Copts and Assyrians great tolerance-when the historical record says differently. The problem is people don't know history-and it isn't accessible. And since people don't know-they assume that Muslims must be telling the truth.

So-please pray for me that I would have wisdom, direction and the resources that I need.

Iranian pastor sentenced to death for leaving Islam

Please pray for this Iranian pastor. I am a warrior and I have served in combat twice. The way forward to peace is the four principles of "Moderate Islam." Islam must reform based on these four principles:
1. A total rejection of violent Jihad
2. Sharia law must be only a personal lifestyle choice-not a legal system
3. Muslims and non-Muslims (IE Copts and Assyrians) must have complete equality everywhere in the world (even Saudi Arabia)
4. All Muslims should have freedom of religion-meaning they can leave Islam if they choose.
This is the only way forward.