The Synagogue of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia
Study into the Archeology and History of the Hebrew Nazarene Synagogue
Called by Christians ‘The Apostolic Church in the House with the Upper Room’
Commentary by Robert D. Mock M.D.
Fourth Sabbatical Passover, 55 CE
The foundation of the Nazarene congregation began with the death and resurrection of Yahshua and the nomination of the brother of Jesus, James the Just as the nasi, the president of the Nazarene Sanhedrin and the high priest of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia of Jerusalem. A traditional image of the Apostolic Ecclesia was that it struggled to maintain its identity in its early formative wars only to have the ascent of the Gentile Christian Church eventually usurp the role of the Jewish Ecclesia (aka Jerusalem Church) and eventually the Hebrew Nazarene faded into history.
Yet twenty five years later, 55 CE, the party of the Nazarenes had its major synagogue located at the Tomb of David on the hill called Nea Zion. It was reaching its maturity and influence in the Jewish temple culture before the destruction of Jerusalem. The Apostle Paul was at the peak of his evangelistic missionary thrusts to the middle and eastern Mediterranean seaboard.
The Apostle Peter had already traversed the world from Babylonia, Rome and Celtic Europe. The Apostle John was establishing the twelve churches in Macedonia. Over on the western isles of the West, the disciples of Joseph of Arimathea, family of Caradactus, the Arch-Pendragon of the British, the most feared warrior against Rome, had arrived in the city of Rome as slaves only to be used as Nazarene missionaries to establish the first Christian Church in Rome.
Back in Jerusalem the storm clouds of the future appeared to be ominous as progressive disorder and violence were erupting in the province of Judea. In the midst of this era, two major events happened: the Apostle Paul was almost stoned to death in a riot in the temple and James the Just, brother of Jesus was stoned and bludgeoned to death by the temple priests under the leadership of Ananus son of Ananus.
Here in the Mother Synagogue of the Nazarene faith was the former home of Mary and her son John Mark with its Upper Room. This spacious room seating over 120 people was where the ‘preparation day meal’ for the Passover, called the ‘Last Supper’, was held with Yahshua and his disciples. For forty days after the resurrection of Christ, a synergy of spiritual forces drew close to beloved ones of the Lord until they were of “one accord”. Then the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) rained down upon the followers of Jesus as ‘tongues of fire’ making a celestial descent. Out of this baptism of fire roared the mighty ascendancy of the Nazarenes in the religio-politics of Judea.
The death of Jesus was not a miscalculated event. It was the plan of the Almighty, even though many of the players were following their own evil inclinations. History now testifies that Pontius Pilate was earlier involved in a seditious plot to assassinate Claudius Caesar. With this knowledge, can we assume that Caiphas, the high priest, knowing of this plot could have used it to blackmail the Roman governor? Reading between the lines in Josephus, we see the skill of Ananus, the father-in-law of Caiphas in skillful manipulation of the Roman authorities. Did Caiphas or Ananus trade secrecy with Pilate over this seditious plot in order to gain Roman tacit approval to allow the high priest to complete their murderous plot to execute Yahshua ben Yosef, the messianic rabbi of Galilee?
Jesus was of Davidian birth from both his mother, Miriam and his father Joseph is the testimony of the Gospels. The Lucian genealogies of the Davidian descent from Solomon to Heli have now been shown to be the genealogy of Mary, whose father Heli, Eliakim or Joachim was also the brother of Joseph of Arimathea who dared to expose himself politically and laid his nephew, Yahshua, in his own rock hewn tomb on the western slopes of the Mount of Olives. Yet there was also Heli’s other brother, Cleopas, who also was the uncle to Jesus, who walked home with Jesus four days after His crucifixion.
Suddenly the life and ministry of Jesus takes on a new meaning as the wealthy tin merchant, Joseph of Arimathea, is recognized as the maternal uncle of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea was one of the leading elders of Israel who sat on the seat of David in the Sanhedrin, a Roman Decurio and a member of the Roman Judean Provincial Council. Not since the days of Zedekiah, the last anointed king of the House of David, had a king of Davidian descent sat on the throne of David. It was the expectation of the Jewish people and their prophets that a righteous one of the House of David would once again hold the scepter of authority. From one calamity after another, the expectation of the fulfillment of the prophets of old appeared to be in vain.
The calamities of the Jews since their restoration from the land of Babylon began in the days of the Seleucids, the descendants of Alexander the Great. In their power thrust for hegemony in the multiple kingdoms of the Middle East, the Seleucids were planting centers of Hellenistic culture in their wake. Such was the desire of Antiochus Epiphanes IV. He sought to quell the stubborn resistance of the Jews in their focused worship and belief in a Monotheistic God. Of all the cultures in the Levant, the Jewish were the most resistant and rebellious to the introduction of Hellenistic culture. Antiochus sought to introduce in his perception the brilliance of the culture of Greece and the principles of democracy in which all men could participate in the renaissance of culture and learning.
In a political feat never attempted since Nebuchadnezzar the Great, Antiochus Epiphanes IV sent a vast army into the heartland of Judea and captured and desecrated the heart of the Jewish culture, the temple of God. In an act not unlike today of wrapping the corpse of a Muslim in pigskin, Antiochus IV who called himself ‘Epiphany’ because he thought that he basked in the brilliance of the divine, entered the temple of Zerubabbel in 173 BCE, deposed the last remaining hereditary High Priest of the House of Zadok, Onias III and set up the office of the high priest as a commercial office to the sale of the highest bidder.
Not satisfied with the progress of his reforms, Antiochus IV disbanded the high priestly office, outlawed the Jewish religion, forbad circumcision, and in June 168 BCE, entered the temple and sacrificed a pig on the altar of the Almighty One and rededicated the temple to Jupiter Olympios, the Seleucid pagan deity. In one swoop of power and control, this Syrian ruler sought to completely destroy the Hebrew nation and their religion sacred to their God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The foundations of the Hebrew nation, religion and culture appeared to be destroyed. This was the mini-drama of the abomination of desolation spoken by the prophet Daniel and a shadow picture of the future abomination of desolation that will occur at the time of the end. (Reuven Efraim Schmalz and Raymond Robert Fischer, The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church, Olim Publications, POB 2111, Tiberias, Israel, 1999, pg 10)
Daniel 11:20-23, 24(parts), 30-32 – “And there shall arise in his (the short-term successor of the king of the North) place a vile person, to whom they will not given honor of royalty; but he shall come in peaceable, and seize the kingdom by intrigue. With the force of a flood they shall be swept away from before him and be broken, and also the prince of the covenant. And after the league is made with him he shall act deceitfully for he shall come up and become strong with a small number of people. He shall enter peaceably…only for a time (one year)….So he shall return and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant. And forces shall be mustered by him and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; they shall take away the daily sacrifices; and place there the abomination of desolation. Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”
On the ninth day of the fourth month (9th of AV) in the Jewish year 3338, King Zedekiah, with the remnant of his royal body guards fled through Solomon’s grotto in Zedekiah’s Cave trying to escape out the tunnel system the passed through the “gate between the two walls”. The history of the Jews as calculated by the medieval monks of the Roman Catholic Church state that in 568 BCE, the last anointed ruler of Israel, Zedekiah, of the House of David was sent into exile to Babylon. Yet according the Jews, in their linear calendar calculated since the days of Adam as recorded in the Seder Olam Rabbah (The Great Order of the World), the destruction of the temple of Solomon was in the Jewish year 3338, which is 421 BCE according to the Gregorian calendar.
Here now, 248 years later, in the Jewish Year of 3586, the last anointed high priest of the lineage of Zadok, the one anointed to the office by King David was removed from office. It was the duty of this anointed one, the high priest of Israel, to teach the law (Torah) to the nation and to represent the chosen ones of the Lord yearly by entering the holy of holiest in the presence of their God and seek atonement for his people. A spiritual exile was beginning for the Jewish people and they knew it not.
Though the historical account is sketchy, either Onias III who was deposed or his son Onias IV and many fundamental Jewish followers of the ancient cult of YHVH fled to Egypt and were given safe haven at Leontopolis where they built a rival temple to YHVH.
Josephus, Jewish Wars, 7:10:1-4 – “So Ptolemy complied with his (Onias) proposals, and gave him a place one hundred and eighty furlongs distant from Memphis. That Nomos was called the Nomos of Heliopolis, where Onios built a fortress and a temple, not like to that at Jerusalem but such as resembled a tower. He built it of large stones to the height of sixty cubits; he made the structure of the altar an imitation of that in our own country, and in like manner adorned with gifts, excepting the make of the candlestick, for he did not make a candlestick, but had a single lamp hammered out of a piece of gold, which illuminated the place with its rays, and which he hung by a chain of gold, but the entire temple was encompassed with a wall of burnt brick, though it had gates of stone.”
The temple services in Egypt continued with ‘pure libation offerings” made to the God of Israel. There is no evidence that any animal sacrifices were offered in the rival temple to YHVH at Leontopolis until it was closed down by Vespasian in 73 CE after the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.
It was the Maccabean revolt that restored the national pride of the Jewish people when they drove out the Seleucid king, Antiochus Epiphanes IV and cleansed the temple and the festival of Hanukkah in 163 BCE was instituted to commemorate the restoration and rededication of their temple to the God of the Hebrews. Here began the yearly festival of Lights which Yahshua attended during his lifetime and also when Jesus proclaimed, “I am the Light of the World.”
Yet the Maccabees also left in their legacies two ‘infamous’ acts that destroyed the sanctity of the temple and left the nation of Judea confused as to who was the God ordained “king of the Jews”.
In the year 153 BCE, Jonathan of the House of Maccabees invested himself with the office of the high priest. He was of the house of Jehoiarib, a family of priests who were not eligible to become high priests of Israel. At that time the office of the high priest was permanently removed from the house of Zadok, the family of priests that God ordained from their ancestor, Zadok the high priest of king David.
Not only did the Hasmoneans usurp the office of the high priest, they mercilessly persecuted the priests of the lineage of Zadok. It was these Zadokians who fled to the wilderness in the region of Damascus and the sect of the Essenes was born. As the years went by, any hope of returning to the hereditary role of the high priest as ordained to them by God through King David faded away. They took hope in the passage of Isaiah,
Damascus Document 8:12-14 on Isaiah 40:3 – “And these shall become a community in Israel according to these rules, they shall separate themselves from the dwellings of the people of lawlessness, to go into the wilderness and prepare there the way of the Lord as it is written: ‘In the wilderness prepare you the way of the Lord.’” (quoted Ibid 12)
“Prepare ye the way of the Lord” was not only the banner or motto of the Essenes but also the ‘Elijah message’ that stormed out of the wilderness under the cloak of John the Baptizer preparing the way for the soon coming Yahshua the Nazarene.
Two thousand years later the Essenes had become a lost sect of Judaism. Not until the Damascus Document was discovered in the year 1947 when a Bedouin discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, did the nature of the Essenes become fully revealed. It was over fifty years earlier that fragments of a work initially called the “Zadok Fragment” was found by a Solomon Schecter of Cambridge in 1896 in the old manuscript storage room, or genizah, of the Cairo Synagogue. This Egyptian synagogue was felt to be an ancient Karaite synagogue and this document found in the genizah, the Zadok document, was felt to be an ancient covenant of the proto-Essenes, who arose out of the Zadokian exile into the wilderness new Qumran.
In the milieu of the corruption of the high priest’s office, the exile of Onias, the last hereditary high priest of the house of Zadok, and the exile of the legitimate priests of Israel, the apocalyptic writings of the inter-testament period were written. Many Christians feel to this day that these writing are apocryphal or pseudo-epigraphic and thereby not legitimate revelatory scripture. Yet the thrust of these works was, “the Kingdom of heaven is at hand”. Considering the number of copies of these works that were preserved in the cave of Qumran suggests that these works were regarded as scripture to the Essenes and this Essene literary style flowed throughout the gospel story of Yahshua and the books of Jude and Revelation. We would not have the Book of Revelation today if the apocalyptic literature Book of Enoch plus the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Book of Jubilees and Ben Sira had not been written. Dozen of phrases unique to the Book of Enoch are noted in the Book of Revelation.
These Messianics fervently awaited the coming of the Messiah. They felt that the coming age would only be preceded by war between the “Sons of Light” and the “Sons of Darkness”. During this time the wicked and evil priesthood would be vanquished, the Romans called the Kittim would be destroyed in the Gog-Magog wars, a New Jerusalem and a heavenly temple would descend out of heaven and David son of David would return to rule. At this time a son of Zadok would again be anointed as the high priest of the Lord. Eden would then be restored and Torah would become the law of the world. Here encapsulates the belief system of the proto-Nazarenes or the apocalyptic culture that sprouted and nourished the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia of Jesus.
While the first infamous act of the Maccabean family was when Jonathan Maccabees invested himself with the office of the high priest, the second infamous act was when Aristobulus the Hasmonean of the House of the Maccabees placed a crown on his own head and self-proclaimed himself as the “King of the Jews”. According to Josephus, this was the first king since the Babylonian captivity. To the Essenes and the Zadokians who were waiting and pondering the events of the future as they awaited the coming of the Messiah, it was Aristobulus Maccabean, a Hasmonean that was to usurp the throne of the House of David. The potential for civil unrest was brewing for both the ancient houses of David and Zadok and all their adherents were about to rise in revolt. They were no longer looking for a messiah but a Moshiach (Messiah) with a capital M. (Ibid 14)
David and Zadok both were raised to the honor as the Lord’s anointed in the days of the prophet Samuel. Both of their lives were interwoven and entwined with the first temple that was to be built for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in Jerusalem by Solomon. It was they who completed the blueprints of the temple, designed the temple services, trained the priests and Levites in the various roles they were to perform in the majesty of the most beautiful religious edifice every built on this planet earth by Solomon, the son of David. Though David was anointed by Samuel, it was David who anointed Zadok and Zadok who anointed Solomon. It was Solomon who was a prototype of the “Messiah” and the first ruling descendant of the House of David.
So now a Maccabean usurper was claiming the throne of David and also a Maccabean that was also a usurper and presiding as high priest of the temple built by Zerubabbel. Out of this revolt arose the Essenes, the arch-conservatives who believed that only the Lord of hosts could change what He had designed for His people. It was the Essenes who carried the torch for the restoration of the House of David to the throne of Israel and the restoration of a legitimate descendant of the House of Zadok as the high priest of Israel.
One of the early centers of this revolt and one of the headquarters in the wilderness for the Essenes was Kirbet Qumran, the final resting place of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Within these archives we find the Damascus Scroll speaking of a legendary leader called the “teacher of righteousness” of the House of Zadok who was martyred by a “wicked priest” of the house of Hasmoneans. These two figures that many scholars place in the last half of the 2nd century BCE in Judea have never been identified.
If this was a proto-type or a type/anti-type, it surely would later have been fulfilled in the life of Yahshua ben Yosef, also a Tzaddik and a teacher of righteousness who was killed by a wicked priest, Caiphas. Yet we also later find another famous Tzaddik (righteous man), James the Tzaddik (Just) whose body was stoned and bludgeoned to death as incited by Ananus, the son of Ananus, the high priest and then thrown over the wall into the Kidron Valley below.
Is it not interesting that central to both of these events we see the Ananus, the patron father of the immensely powerful and wealthy Sadducean family who ruled the office of the high priest? In fact, this one family of high priests controlled the office of the high priest for thirty-two out of thirty-five years from 6 CE to 41 CE and afterwards four other sons and one grandson ruled as high priest until 69 CE the year of the siege of the Roman forces of Vespasian.
It was this family that was the ‘ruling elite’ when Jesus was crucified, that incited the Pharisee Shaul who sought to kill James the Just and then went on a pogrom to exile and destroy every Nazarene in the land. It was this same family of priests who ruled in the temple when the deacon Stephen was stoned to death, Peter was imprisoned with intent to kill him, when Joseph of Arimathea was exiled from Judea with the closest friends of Jesus in a boat with no sail or rudder, when James the brother of John was beheaded, and as we shall soon see was responsible for the stoning and bludgeoning to death of James the Just, brother of Jesus. If there was any person or group of people that could be called “The Jew” or “The Jews”, it was the House of Ananus and all the Sadducean and Pharisee families that kept this ‘evil and wicked priest’ and his family in power.
If we were to postulate that the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia did become an important presence in the city of Jerusalem, why do we not know more about the congregation of the Nazarene and the Mother Synagogue that did exist within the city?
By the year 55 CE, the third Sabbatical Passover Supreme Council of the Nazarene Ecclesia, since the death of Yahshua, was in session. In the year when Jewish pilgrims from all around the Diaspora were returning to the land of Israel to celebrate Passover and Pentecost, so did not also the friends and disciples of Jesus also return? As good Torah observing orthodox Jews they came to celebrate the festivals of the Lord and also to meet in convocation with each other on the Seventh-day Sabbath and to discuss and make joint decisions on the future of the Ecclesia.
According to the commandments of Torah, every seventh year the land of Israel was to lay fallow and the people of the Lord were to study, follow the Torah and learn of its righteousness. It was in violation of this commandment that for seventy Sabbatical ‘weeks of years’ (490 years), when Israel did not obey the command of the Lord to let the land rest every seventh year, that the Lord of host exiled Israel out of the land of Israel and gave the land rest for seventy years. It was to the land of Babylon that the remnant of Israel (the House of Judah) went for seventy years. ‘The Land’ did not belong to Israel. ‘The Land’ belonged to the God of Israel, and it was He who allowed them to live in the land under the proviso that they would follow the commandments of their Lord.
After the Babylonian captivity, the Jewish priesthood in the land of Judea did follow the Sabbatical rules for resting the land. According to Josephus, King Herod died at the end of the Sabbatical Year of 4-3 BCE. Also in Josephus, the year that Vespasian troops surrounded the city of Jerusalem was also in the Sabbatical Year of 68-69 CE, the year before the final destruction of the Herod’s temple. By this calculation, the Sabbatical Years began at the New Years on Rosh Hashanah 4 BCE, 3 CE, 12, 19, 26, 33, 40, 47, 54, 61, and 68 CE. The Sabbatical Passovers in which the Jewish pilgrims traveled from all over the diaspora to visit the temple in Jerusalem occurred in the years, 3 BCE, 4 CE, 13, 20, 27, 34, 40, 48, 55, 62, and 69 CE. This festival, Pesach, known as the Sabbatical Year Passover was the most major event in the life of a Jew. Upward to three million people would crowd into the walls of the crowded city of Jerusalem and worship in the temple of Herod during this week long festival.
By the Sabbatical Year Passover in 55 CE, the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia in Jerusalem was now mature, and for almost a decade the Nazarenes in Jerusalem appeared to be at peace or at least tolerated by the Jewish temple hierarchy. The Nazarenes were now an established sect or party in the Jewish economy whose number of adherents probably surpassed the older and more elite sects of the Sadducees and the Pharisee/Scribes of Israel. The Essenes as a sect appeared to diminish at this time only in reality to have them absorbed into the youthful and more vigorous sect of the Nazarenes. Together the Nazarene/Essene movement spread like wildfire throughout the land of Judea and Galilee. From the ‘wilderness of Damascus’ and across the Golan Heights to the eastern coast of the Sea of Galilee was the land of the zealots for the Torah. Here also was the fruitful heartland of the Nazarenes. That their main adherents were the peasants and the dispossessed, am-ha-aretz, is a fact of history.
That Yahshua was a peasant and a dispossessed is not a fact of history. Yahshua was a Davidian, and though recognized as one of the “Poor”, this name was not a measure of possession or lack of it but was a name that the Essenes called each other, for they gave up all of their possessions and shared one with another, very much like the early Nazarenes did after the resurrection of Jesus. It was the Ebionites, “the Poor”, a subsect of the Nazarenes who would in the later centuries return to their fundamental Jewish, proto-Nazarene Essene identity. It was they who were the “Judaizers” who severely opposed the Apostle Paul and may have split the Nazarene as early as 49 CE when the Nazarene Ecclesia admitted the Gentile Christians into fellowship with them as an extension of the more ancient Noahide Law.
It was these Torah believing Jews who did not have stations of power, greed and control that formed the majority of the early Messianic adherents to “The Way.” Here they had villages which sprang from the virgin land in the wilderness, in the land of Perea east of Galilee that were called Kokhba (the ‘stem’) or Notzri (the ‘star’) in reference to the Messianic passages of the prophecy of Balaam.
Numbers 24:15 (parts), 17 – “The utterance of Balaam the son of Beor, ….
I see Him, but not now;
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of Jacob;
A Scepter shall rise out of Israel,
And batter the brow of Moab,
And destroy all the sons of tumult.
In the days of Jesus and John the Baptist, Essene communities sprung up all throughout the land of Galilee and Perea with major communities at Khirbet Qumran near the Dead Sea and though persecuted, they kept a persistent presence in the Essene Quarter of the city of Jerusalem. They also had their own private gate into the city, called the Essene Gate. What purpose was the exclusiveness and what was the purpose of their own enclave in the city of Jerusalem? First the Essenes were a political force that was diametrically opposed to the ruling elite in the priesthood of the temple and especially the House of Ananus. These ruling high priests were not only usurpers to the priestly lineage of the house of Zadok but were viewed as mini anti-Christs.
Like Protestant Christians today, there were many sub-sects of Essene life or denominations. Many Essenes and those we know most about were Nazarites, who lived a celibate life. They did not cut their hair or partake of any fermented beverages. Yet there were also Essenes that married and had families and there were military communities of Essenes who were prepared to fight the ‘Powers of darkness’, who as Zealots for the Law and Zealots for Israel were prepared to drive the hated Kittim, or Romans, from the land of Judea. There were even the Sicarii, a radical fundamental sect of the Zealots, who were assassin squads who sought to eliminate the Jewish friends of the Romans.
Within the family and disciples of Jesus, we find disciples who were like various types of Essene followers: John the Baptist as the one ‘crying in the wilderness,’ James the Just a Nazarite, Simeon the Zealot and also Judas Iscariot (the Sicarii).
Remember Jonathan the Maccabean who invested himself as the high priest of Jerusalem in 153 BCE? With his investiture came a fierce persecution of the families of the House of David and Zadok. Here we see fierce animosity of Jew against Jew. The Hasmoneans were historical revisionists who sought to change the Jewish temple culture instituted by the prophets of old and David and Solomon.
It was the Essenes, the inheritors of the ‘old culture’, the pious, who sought to preserve the YHVH culture in Judea. They were against the non-anointed usurpers of power and authority in the Judean economy. They were the messianics looking for a Moshiach to rise from the House of David and to restore the anointed lineage of the king and the priests. Was this an idle dream? No! This was the literal message of their prophets of old.
If we adhere strictly to the history of the canon by reading the Acts of the Apostles, we learn very little about the life of the Nazarene congregation much less their role in religious politics in Judea from the resurrection of Yahshua in 30 CE and the destruction of Jerusalem the forty years between 30 and 70 CE. It wasn’t until about 1990 that a discovery was made near of what is now felt to be the synagogue of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia on the hill called Mount Zion. It was reported by Ludwig Schneider, editor of Israel Today in Jerusalem, to Reuven Efraim Schmalz and reported in the small book called ‘The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church.” Here is the story of Ludwig Schneider.
“In 1990, I became acquainted with Tech Oteeoos, a Greek Orthodox monk in his nineties who lived by himself in an obscure, dank and foul smelling, small building in the Old City of Jerusalem. I was drawn to the ancient monk whom I visited several times. I kept my distance until he could emerge into the fresh air. The human stench of the dwelling kept me from exploring its interior.
One day, I believe it was on my third visit, Tech Oteeoos showed me, to my absolute amazement, several ancient artifacts which he had excavated at a nearby site, in the vicinity of the building traditionally known as the original church founded by James the Just, the brother of Jesus. The central feature of each piece was a hand executed rendition of the symbol, either etched into or painted upon the surface.
Needless to say, I was fascinated by both the symbol and its obvious significance. It was clear to me that God Himself had laid before me a long-forgotten testimony informing the world about the true roots of the Church.
Several visits later, the old monk finally lured me into the interior of his foul smelling dwelling. It was there that I saw for the first time his collection of about 30 to 40 beautiful and varied pieces, all bearing the three-part symbol. As I stared at this treasure in wonder, my host carefully selected eight of the pieces which he later, during a subsequent visit, presented to me as a gift. On this occasion, I excitedly photographed the eight artifacts which had been set aside for me.
But an even greater gift from this dear messenger of God lay in store for me. During a subsequent visit, after he had, as usual, devoured my chocolate bar gift, he took me by the hand and led me to the nearby site where he had personally excavated his entire collection. The special place was an obviously very old Jewish mikvah located near the Tomb of David.
After we had climbed over an unimposing fence, the old man led me down the traditional seven cosmic stairs leading to the place used for ceremonial cleansing. We proceeded past this place, and entered a catacomb that continued on into the quickly fading light. After what seemed like a short distance, just before the first bend, my ancient monk friend and benefactor was excitedly pointing out his special gift to me on one of the walls, a perfect rendition of the three-part symbol etched into the stone.
In my initial excitement, I rushed back to the priests of the monastery to report this incredible find. I was shocked by the audience I received. They rebuffed me, refused to answer my questions about the “Seal” and locked me outside the monastery gate.
I was overwhelmed by the great significance of the find, and its meaning to the church and the entire world, and I determined with confidence, that I should bring these pieces to the attention of the Israel Museum so they, in turn could promulgate their incredible message to the world. Thus I called the curator of the museum and made an appointment.
The curator was most friendly, even gracious, I was ushered into his office with the picture of the eight pieces, which he examined with careful and studied interest. He then told me, matter of factly that the museum already had seen other artifacts with this very same three-part symbol that had come to them from other sources which he did not specify. The curator assured me that the museum had firm plans to have a special exhibition of these artifacts and their unique symbol, and that he would make an announcement regarding them to the world press in the near future. This was in 1990. Quite frankly, I am not surprised that these artifacts or the three-part symbol with which they are adorned have as yet – as far as I know, never emerged, nor has any information about them. Israeli officialdom, perhaps, was afraid of what the world might think if the truth became known: the early church was Jewish and the original believers in Jesus were Jews.
You can’t image in my frustration over this seeming suppression, but even more my sorrow when I returned for a somewhat delayed visit to my dear benefactor Tech Oteeoos. Tearfully, I learned that he had died, and irrespective of his earlier promise that the rest of the pieces were to be mine, his dwelling had been completely emptied, and all of his remaining treasure had vanished.
Despite the passage of years, I couldn’t stop thinking about the importance of the symbol and the need to present it to the world. It was thus in 1996 that I opened a small gift shop in the Old City where I sold traditional tourist gift items, to which I added several products bearing a simple artist’s rendition of the ancient symbol.
Within days, I was threatened by Orthodox Rabbis who insisted that I remove these ‘evil, heathen’ objects from my shop. By now, although none had any idea about the profound significance of their purchases, tourists had begun to enthusiastically buy my symbol adorned souvenirs in sufficient quantity to entice my competitor shops (some owned by orthodox Jews) to produce and offer for sale, copies of my unique products.
This unfriendly competition wasn’t to last long. When I refused to remove these items from my shop, the orthodox gathered outside in large numbers and stoned the place, breaking my windows; not once, but several times. I finally gave up, and closed my shop less than a year after it had been opened, taking little satisfaction from the fact that the other shops had also soon removed the symbol-carrying products from their own shelves. Presumably, between the combined efforts of the Israel Museum and the orthodox rabbis, the precious symbol proclaiming the true origins of the Church had vanished from public view.
My earnest prayer, is that the truth about the Jewish origins of the Christian Church will be made known throughout the world so that all might know: Jesus was a Jew, the early (first century) church in Jerusalem was attended exclusively by a sect of Essene Jews who had accepted Jesus as their Messiah, and the entire church in the world today has been built upon this precious Jewish foundation.” (Reuven Efraim Schmalz and Raymond Robert Fischer, The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church, Olim Publications, PO Box 2111, Tiberias, Israel. p. iv-vi)
What was this synagogue like of the Nazarenes that was presided over by the brother of Jesus, James the Just?
To the south-west of the present Temple Mount is another hill called today, Mount Zion. Near the crest of this hill is a cluster of ancient buildings, known as the Cenacle. Within this building, discovered in archeological digs, there was found a torah scroll niche. The strange thing about this niche is that it does not face the Temple Mount on the hill called Moriah. In the first century walls of this building, are the floors and foundations of a building that archeologist now suggest was the house with an ‘Upper Room’. It is this site that was known as home where the Last Supper was celebrated, the first place the disciples met Jesus after his resurrection and the house of prayer where the Holy Spirit descend upon the heads of the 120 disciples of Yahshua which ricocheted like a cannon around the world.
Located just outside the present Gate called Zion to the south of the old city of Jerusalem, are the archeological remains of the first floor of this small first century Synagogue. For the Jews, this is the site of the traditional Tomb of David. How are these two important sites blended into one?
By Christian tradition, the site of the Upper Room was the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark. It appeared to be the largest intra-city residence that had the capacity to hold many people. Though it appeared that Mary was a widow, she did possess a large residence and had the affluence to keep domestic help on the property, no different than the servant girl who sought the identity of Peter while he was observing the trial of Jesus in the home of the high priest Caiphas. (John 18:17) So we see at this house of Mary, the Apostle Peter running as he was escaping from prison.
Acts 12:12 – “So, when He (Peter) had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer.”
Here we find a lad who was an observer in the Garden of Gethsemane which the temple guards came to arrest Jesus. In the fight and scuffle, this young man, presumed to be John Mark, was seized by the temple guards, yet twisted out the hands of his captors and fled naked, leaving his linen garments in their hands.
Mark 14:51- “Now a young man followed Him (Jesus), having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.
In describing this Upper Room in Mark 14:15, John Mark uses the Greek word anogeon (an-ogue-eh-on in Strong’s 508) meaning the second floor of a building used for a dome or a balcony on the upper story.
Mark 14:14-15 (Luke 22:12) – “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him. Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ Then he will show you a large upper room (anogeon), furnished and prepared; there make ready for us.”
This same exact account that is used in Mark 14:15, is used by Luke (Luke 22:12) in his account of the pre-Passover ‘Last Supper” which Jesus shared with his disciples in the Upper Room.
Luke 22:12 – “The he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready.”
Yet in the account in the Gospel of Mark is the Greek word for ‘room’ is anogeon yet in the Luke account, the Greek word for ‘room’ is hyperons. If Luke is the author of the book, Acts of the Apostles, when describing a similar room at the time of the Pentecost, he calls this ‘room’ an apartment or upper chamber room in the third story according to the Greek, hyperons (hoop-er-o in Strong’s 5253).
As the disciples were returning from the Mount of Olives after observing the ascension of Jesus into the dimensions of the heavens, they returned to Jerusalem and went to the Upper Room as though it was a place where the disciples resided. It was also a suitable place to hide from the chief priests after the moment of the resurrection of Jesus.
The textual phrase and context for the word for Upper Room in both Luke 22:12 is the same as Acts 1:13 yet as we have seen, they are two different Greek words.
Acts 1:13 – “And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room (hypereon) where they were staying;
Yet when Jerome translated the New Testament into the Latin version called the Vulgate (382-405 CE), he combined both of these words into a single Latin word, coenaculum or cemaculum, which actually mean, ‘dining room’ which was usually built on a second floor. When the Latin was translated into English, the name of this edifice was called the ‘Cenacle’. So today, we don’t look for the Upper Room in Jerusalem or the hyperon or the anogeon. It is called predominately by its Latin name, the “Cenacle” or the “Coenaculum”.
The Synagogue of the Nazarenes – Part Two
Archeological Evidence for a Synagogue at the Site of the Upper Room
Synagogue Orientation – was it Messianic Nazarene or Jewish?
The Nazarene Synagogue after the Hadrian /Bar Kokhba War
Manuscript and Archeological Evidence for a Nazarene Synagogue
The Pilgrim of Bordeaux and Eucherius
Caradactus, Gladys and Rufus Pudens and the Basilica of Ste. Pudentianna
The Mosaic Apse of the Basilica Ste. Pudentianna
The Map of Jerusalem in the Madaba Mosaic
The Believers of the Hebrew Nazarene Synagogues were Jewish
The Star of David and the Seal of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia
Links and Book Orders
Order – The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church by Olim Publication
Order – The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church and related Jewelry at Israel’s Harvest
About the Messianic Seal by Ari Levitt, Adat B'nei HaMelech
The Messianic Seal by Jane Diffenderfer, Messianic Home
Ancient Messianic Synagogue Seal by Evangelical Press News Service
The Most Ancient Symbol of Christianity – Reuven Schmalz
The Menorah, the Star of David and the Fish by Reuven Schmalz and End of Times Ministries
The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church by Family Bible
The Messianic Seal by HalleluYah Ministries
Messianic Seal of the Early Church by Christianity Network
How Many Symbols do You See? by Threemacs Jewish Roots of Christianity
Found the Seal of the Messianic Church by Tough Love Faith Web
An Anthropolgists looks at the Judeo-Christian Scriptures by Richley S. Crapo
How we Lost the Sabbath by The Bible Only
Jesus the Nazarene and His Jewish Followers by Scholomo
Jewish Remnant History by Elisheva Gamaliel
Christianity and its relationship to Judaism by JewishEncyclopedia
Moses’ Seat and Messianic Nazarene Yisrael by Rabbi Moshe Yoseph Koniuchowsky
Are the Nazarenes and the Ebionites the only True Israelties? By Christian Think Tank
What is Nazarene Judasim? By James Trimm
Nazarenes and Christians by Paul N. Tobin
Shomrai HaBrit-Keepers of the Covenant by G. Shapiro
The Early Nazarenes and Rabbinic Judaism by William F. Dankenbring
What is the Original Faith of the Apostles by Norman Willis
A Response to Anti-missionary who claim that the Nazarenes never existed – by Messianic Apologestics