Jesus the Nazarene and the Pharisees of Beit Shammai
The Divine Mission to Bring the “Good News” to the Gentiles
By the Seven Noahide Laws
By Robert Mock M.D.
Hillel said: Be You of the Disciples of Aaron,
One who Loves Peace, Pursues Peace,
Loves Mankind and Brings Them Nigh to the Torah. Avot 1:12
Over the last fifty years the scholarship on the Primitive (Early) Christian Church has emerged into a new reality. As an isolated nomadic preacher of the “Good News” who rose from a peasant family in Galilee, most Orthodox Christians believe that Jesus was barely literate, never studied in a rabbinic yeshiva, may not have even known Hebrew, yet he confronted the hierarchy of the Jewish temple culture, was crucified by Roman as a royal aspirant to the throne of David and viewed as a rebel against the Caesar of Rome. We may now see that this is not “evidence based history” of Jesus the Nazarene.
The Jesus that emerges is a fully engaged rabbi, identified with the Hasidim, the disciples of Hillel the Elder and the Essene disciples of Menahem the Essene. He was an ultra-Orthodox Torah observant, Shabbat (Seventh-day Sabbath) worshipping, kosher dieting, festival observing Jew who worshipped the temple of the Lord. Yahshua can now be seen as living a life to the highest standard of the Hasidim.
As part of the entire Jewish religious and social culture, Yahshua (Jesus) was a halakhah observant Jew who followed every “jot and tittle” of the Torah, taught a message of the “Good News of Salvation” that was fully part of the Mosaic traditions of the Torah at Sinai. Yet Jesus the Nazarene was not just an “episode of human history” divorced from Divine Revelation, He was an emissary of that Divine Revelation.
Is it inconceivable that the Almighty One of Israel would send emissaries to this planet earth? This concept is accepted in Jewish history, theology, philosophy and mysticism. There is also amply evident in their sacred history.
We remind ourselves of the emissaries that were sent to Abraham prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah? How about the archangels Michael (Daniel 10:13, 21, 12:1) and/or Gabriel (Daniel 8:16, 9:21, Luke 1:19, 26) that were sent to the Prophet Daniel and Miriam the mother of Jesus the Nazarene? (Daniel 8:16, 9:21, Luke 1:19,26)
In critical moments of human history, the Divine One has chosen to invade our physical world, called by the sages “Malkhut,” and alter the course of history. What is known in Jewish mysticism, the study of the invisible spiritual worlds, is that each of these emissaries represented an “emanation” from the Ein Sof, the Unseen and Unknowable monotheistic God of Israel.
According to sacred history, “Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:24) and talked with the emissaries and the God of the Spirits (Book of Enoch chapter 14-15, Book of Jasher chapter iii, Jubilees 4:16-26) and Elijah, the greatest of the Israelite prophets, was taken to the world of the Spirits in a Ma'aseh Merkavah, the Divine Chariot.
There is nothing in Jewish mysticism or theology that forbids the idea that the God of the Universes would not send an emissary such as His “only Begotten Son” to intervene in the course of Jewish history. When the Israelites escaped from Egypt, according to the Jewish sages, the children of Israel had sunk to the 49th level of Tuma (spiritual degradation). In their 49 day forced march to the mount called Sinai, their spiritual education on each day was to repair and elevate them until on the 50th day when they stood around Sinai, they would be prepared to meet their God. If the God of Israel would miraculously intervene and save Israel from Egypt when they had sunk into such spiritual decadence would He not intervene when His people descended to the same 49th level of Tuma seventy seven years before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple of Herod
As we have now seen, the decay and corruption of the High Priest and Torah scholars called the Shammaite Pharisees had taken the Jewish people back down to the 49th level of Tuma (spiritual degradation). The House of Ananus and the Shammaite Pharisees were threatening to destroy the entire Jewish race with their anti-Goyim (anti-Gentile) attitude and their love and worship of the Golden Calf. And so they did, when forty years after Yahshua HaMaschiach (Jesus the Messiah) was hanged from a tree near the site where the Red Heifer’s ashes were burned on the slopes of the Mount of Olives on 30 CE, the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem became a fiery inferno. The “Omens” during those years were only a footnote to that history.
The Roman general Titus wanted to save the temple but the Jewish Zealots had imbedded themselves into the Jewish population and made the temple into a citadel forcing the Romans to destroy the temple down to her foundation.
The sacred history suggests that such a “Being” came as an emissary from the emanation called the “Tiferet”, the one archetypical realm in the World of the Divine that represented the fullest manifestation of the Divine One that could be revealed to the human race. Seven, or the fullest measure of the ten emanations from the Sefirot of the Ein Sof, the Unknowable God of Israel, streamed forth through the life of this one emissary called by the sages of Israel, Metatron, the “Angel that stands before the Presence of the Divine One.”
It was also not inconceivable to a halakhah observing Jew that the “Tiferet” called “Beauty” (Zechariah 11:7, 10) would be incarnated into a babe and live among His people as the “fullest expression of the Torah living in the flesh.” For it was one Torah observing Jew, the Deputy High Priest or Sagan of the Nazarene Sanhedrin who wrote:
Besorah according to Yochanan (Gospel (Good News) according to John 1:1-5, 14 - “In the beginning was the Torah, and the Torah was with God and the Torah was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it…And the Torah became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
In one of the more pronounced supernatural identities that Jesus gave of Himself was to Caiphas in the nightly staged illegal interrogation that sealed His fate and destiny. The high priest, Caiphas, pronounced that it was blasphemy.
Matthew 26:64 – “I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
This same imagery of the glorified Jesus the Nazarene was also seen by the Stephen, the Nazarene deacon who also sealed his fate with Jonathan the son of Ananus the Elder, now the high priest after Caiphas, the son-in-law of Ananus, was deposed. He received a visionary epiphany of Yahshua in his transcendent position as the Tiferet, Metatron or the Angel that stands before the Presence of the Almighty One.
Acts 7:55 – “But he (Stephen), being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Here we add a third testimony for the Biblical scholars who are so depended on their understanding of the Q document. They believe that the gospel stories of Matthew, Luke and John are not eye-witness primitive accounts of the “sayings of Jesus.” As such, the foundation of the composition of the four gospels, come from the Q document as the primitive sayings of Jesus, and the rest of the gospels were all written after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
Tzemach Tzedek Chabad Lubavitch Synagogue (1841) looking over Ancient Pillars of the Cardo, the main thoroughfare in Byzantine Jerusalem – Photo by Robert Mock
This testimony stands outside the “critical” investigation of the authenticity of the biblical gospels. It was given as a historical extra-biblical testimony written by Hegesippus, quoted by Eusebius, of the testimony of James the brother of Jesus the priests and Pharisees at the temple. It was a testimony that sealed Yacov HaTzaddik’s (James the Just’s) death sentence at the hands of Ananus, the son of Ananus the Elder who was now the high priest in the temple at Jerusalem on 62 CE.
Hegesippus in his Memoirs, quoting James the Just – “Why do you ask me regarding Jesus the Son of Man? He is now sitting in the heavens on the right hand of the Great Power, and is about to come on the clouds of Heaven.”
Ananus the Elder was probably the “young priest” who notified the high priest in Jerusalem of the non-orthodox appearing pregnancy of Mary and Joseph. He was the high priest in 6 CE when the youth Jesus (Yahshua) went to his bar mitzvoth year Passover and was questioned by the chief priests and elders of Judah. It was Ananus the Elder who was the father-in-law of the high priest, Caiphas, who sentenced Jesus to death. Ananus was the father of Jonathan the high priest who sentenced Stephen the deacon of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia to death. Ananus the Elder was the father of Ananus the Younger, the high priest who now sentenced Jesus’ brother, James the Just, to death and had his bludgeoned body thrown over the temple parapet to the Kidron Valley below.
In the decade before the birth of Yahshua ben Yosef (Jesus son of Joseph), radical political and social movements were being instituted in the entire religio-philosophical arena of Judaism. A large body of Torah scholars as disciples of Hillel and Menahem the Elder left in protest or escaped for their lives to the “wilderness.” They understood that their country was descending into the same spiritual decadence that existed with the Israelites just prior to their redemption from their exile in Egypt. These disciples were sent on a rescue mission to the gentile nations in the hopes that it may also save their own people.
Their Torah master, Hillel, according to Falk, “was an Essene and probably the Teacher of Righteousness (Moreh Tzedek) in the Essene Dead Sea Scroll document called the Damascus Document. This “Teacher of Righteousness” was called a disciple of Ezra the scribe. (Sanhedrin 11a) Was Ezra the first of the Essenes? Not necessarily so. It was Kaufman Kohler who wrote the seminal article on the Essenes for the Jewish Encyclopedia stated:
Inside the Tzemach Tzedek Chabad Lubavitch Synagogue (1841) in the Jewish Quarter – Photo by Robert Mock
Kaufman Kohler – “Philo, who calls the Essenes "the holy ones," after the Greek ὅσιοι, says in one place that ten thousand of them had been initiated by Moses into the mysteries of the sect, which, consisting of men of advanced years having neither wives nor children, practiced the virtues of love and holiness and inhabited many cities and villages of Judea, living in communism as tillers of the soil or as mechanics according to common rules of simplicity and abstinence. (Jewish Encyclopedia, “Essene”; Quoted by Eusebius, "Præparatio Evangelica," viii. 11)
Kohler later recognized that throughout the history of the Hebrews there were Essene types. Claiming as direct descent from the Hasidim, they cited that the origin of the Essene brotherhood that came from Moses at Sinai. Yet these Essene types or proto-types included: Adam, Enoch, the Patriarchs especially Abraham, called the “Watik” because “he rose early” for prayer. They also included Shem-Melchizedek, Job, as the philanthropist and teacher of mystic lore, King Saul, Jesse the father of King David plus his ancestors, Obed, Boaz, and Salma. This also included the Rechabites, Jonadab, the founder of the “Water-Drinkers”, Jabez, and Jethro the Kenite who was possibly the founder of the Essene Jericho colony.
How could these Essenes have existed as according to the Talmud in Bava Batra 3B, it is documented that “Herod slew all the rabbis when he came to power, with the exception of Bava ben Buta whom he blinded?” (Ibid 116) This testimony has been disputed by Jewish historians. At the same time this testimony is accepted by Rabbi Harvey Falk for the reasons that he writes:
Rabbi Harvey Falk – “The Tosafists declare that this account cannot be accepted literally, since the Sons of Bathyra – who served as Nasi before Hillel – and Hillel served in a rabbinic office at the time. However, we know from Josephus that Herod held the Essenes in high esteem (Menahem, who was initially Hillel’s Av Bet Din, was an Essene who had foretold Herod’s rise to power), and Hillel’s affiliation with the Essenes would explain why he was spared.
As for the Sons of Bathyra, see Ta’anit 3A where it is recorded that the later R. Joshua ben Bathyra – of the same family – was called Son of Bathyra before his ordination. We may assume from this tradition that the Sons of Bathyra of Hillel’s time were similarly not ordained rabbis. This would explain Herod’s sparing them, as well as their lack of scholarship which led to Hillel’s appointment (Pesahim 66A).”
Even though Hillel the Elder remained as the head of the Sanhedrin, with the exodus of most of Hillel’s disciples to the Damascus, Qumran and other Essene villages, the leading School of the Pharisees shifted. According to this same history, the influence of the Shammaites began to dominate the temple culture at Jerusalem from the time Herod started rebuilding the temple to its final destruction by the Roman forces of Titus.
The Four Sephardic (Spanish Jews expelled in 1492) Synagogues – Ben Zakkai Synagogue (1610), Central Synagogue (1830s), Prophet Elijah Synagogue (1625), and the Isambuli synagogue (1857) – Photo by Robert Mock
When the School of Shammai came into ascendant power and authority in the temple hierarchy, it was also at the same time that the authors of the Damascus Document, discovered in the caves at Qumran, spoke of a breach of trust and definite animosity towards the “Pharisees” who were adherents of the School of Shammai. Here in the Damascus Document, they were called traitors (bogdim) or “men of war.”
Using the overlapping histories between the disciples of the School of Shammai, the exile of the disciples of Menahem the Essene and Hillel, the ministry of Jesus the Nazarene and the degradation of social order in the Jewish society under the mantle of the High Priest family of Ananus the Elder, we open up a potential new understanding of the Essenes and the Damascus Document with the Jewish Nazarenes and Gentile Christians with the New Testament Gospels. Rabbi Harvey Falk ventures with this historical context to identify the unnamed parties mentioned in the Damascus Document. As he writes:
Rabbi Harvey Falk – “The “Expounder of the Torah” (Doresth ha-Torah) is Menahem, former Av Bet Din of the Pharisees; the “Babbling Preacher” (Motif) and “Man of Lies” (Ish ha-Kazav) is Shammai, leader of an opposing group of Pharisees; the “Builders of a Rickety Wall” (Bonai Haitz) and “Men of War” (Anshe Milhama) are the School of Shammai, and would probably allude to a time when they had gained ascendancy over Bet Hillel; the “Princes” and “Nobles of the People” are the eighty pairs of disciples of Hillel and Menahem, who are described as having departed from the Land of Judah to sojourn in “the Land of Damascus” in order to search for God.
They are further described as having entered a “new covenant,” and living in encampments with their wives and children. This would have probably taken place about 20 BCE and would therefore identify this scroll as having been written by the disciples of Menahem and Hillel, who joined the Essenes when the Shammaites gained control of the Pharisees.” (Ibid page 54)
At the same time that Yahshua ben Yosef (Jesus son of Joseph) was introducing a “New Covenant” called the Brit Hadassah (New Testament) with His disciples, He was also introducing to them the foundation of the Damascus “New Covenant” that was begun almost fifty years prior with the disciples of Hillel and Menahem the Essene. About this same time, there came a prophecy that the School of Shammai (Beit Shammai) would come to its end at the time of the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem. (Ibid 117)
Orthodox Worshipper in the Ramban (Moses ben Nahman (Nahmanides) Synagogue – Photo by Robert Mock
Not only that, the Jewish rabbinate after the exile from Jerusalem came to believe if the opinions of Shammai did not agree with the opinions of Hillel that they would be considered null and void as seen in the following quote. (Ibid 117)
Berakhot 36B - The opinion of Bet Shammai when it conflicts with that of Bet Hillel is no Mishnah.”
The later opinion of the rulings of the School of Shammai came to such a low opinion that according to Berakhot 11A, it states that “he, who observes the teachings of Bet Shammai, deserves death.”
With these ideas and concepts swirling throughout the land of Judea and Galilee, are we to assume that Jesus the Nazarene was not a participant in this dynamic dialogue? Was he not trying to capture the minds and souls of the Jewish people for His “Abba”, whom He called the “Father in heaven?” In fact, to put Jesus the Nazarene into this historical picture, we feel compelled to suggest that He was a defendant of the House of Hillel. We shall revisit later the dialogues that Jesus the Nazarene had with the “Scribes and the Pharisee” and see the validation of His debates with those attacks He made against the Pharisees of the House of Shammai. It is one of these attacks depicting Jesus’ rebukes to the Pharisees when he said:
John 8:44 – “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.”
While Jewish and Christian scholars have portrayed this ideological battle between Jesus and the Shammai Pharisees to be unique, they have failed to document the verbal exchange of the first century Jewish sage, Dosa ben Harkinas who criticized his brother Jonathan for ruling in a legal case concerning a levirate marriage (Yevamot 16A) according to the legal decisions by the Beit Shammai. In this criticism, Harkinas called his brother, “the first-born of Satan.” Apparently this label of the Pharisees of the School of Shammai as followers or descendants of Satan was more widespread than thought previously. (Ibid 118)
These texts have been misinterpreted by Christian scholars over the millenniums. It as been the assumption that these texts were attacks by Jesus against the entire Jewish people. Yet it was these same Jewish people who were baptized by the thousands into the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia in Jerusalem because of their love and devotion to Yahshua whom they believed was their messiah. Within a decade after the death of Jesus, we find the Nazarenes had become a party within Judaism that outnumbered the Sadducees and the Pharisees of the House of Shammai. Later it would be these same Jewish leaders, who in essence fulfilled and validated the prophecy of Jesus that the teachings of Shammai would be “nullified.” (Ibid 118)
After the death of Jesus, the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia now under the leadership of Jesus’ brother, James the Just, quickly asserted its presence in the city of Jerusalem. After the fifty days of Omer between the Festivals of Passover and Pentecost and the very public expression of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) upon the disciples of Jesus, the followers were not only upbeat but excited. One thing the Primitive Christians did was to re-introduce into the Jewish lexicon a new word – BOLD. They were not embarrassed. They were not ashamed. They were not to be humiliated. And they were Jewish, through and through.
The 13th century Franciscan Construction over the Synagogue at the site of the House with the Upper Terrace – Photo by Robert Mock (2006)
Acts 4:31 – “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”
This was not a Gentile phenomenon. This was a Jewish phenomenon. This had not to do with ideological, theological, philosophical, exegetical, or hermeneutical differences. This had to do to the fact that according to the testimony of the Jewish Book of Acts, they were “all of one accord.” (Acts 2:1)
The focus of all the Primitive followers of the Nazarene was like taking the scattered and diffuse beauty of light and focusing it into one laser beam. The intense focus of that laser was on one man; Jesus the Nazarene. Let us read what happens next.
Here in the temple during Pentecost, there rises up that fisherman that was thought to be a bumbling, unschooled Galilean, not even trained under the great yeshiva sages in Jerusalem. Yes Simon Peter rises up and speaks to the masses of Jewish men in the Court of the Jews on Pentecost, speaking as a distinguished orator.
Acts 2:22-24 – “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know – Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”
Bear in mind, this was not a Christian speaking to or against the Jewish people. This was a “Man of Israel” speaking in the temple of Herod to thousands of Jewish “Men of Israel.” On that same day, three thousand “men of Israel” were baptized in the mikvahs surrounding the temple. Why? They were baptized in the same manner that the Hasidim or Essenes were baptizing in the wilderness and along the Jordan River.
The Mikvahs Baths at the Residence of the
High Priest Caiphas near the Tomb of David
– Photo by Robert Mock (2006)
It was now twenty years since the death of Hillel the Elder (10 CE). This sage of Judah lived for 120 years like Moses did of old. He was not only blessed with a long life, but was one of three notable Jewish sages whose paths crossed in that historical flow of time that lived 120 years; Hillel the Elder, Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai and Rabbi Akiba. (“Sefer Yohassin”, the Sephardic Sages by International Sephardic Leadership Council)
Simeon I was the son of Hillel the Elder. Upon the death of his father, Hillel the Elder, Simeon I became the Nasi or President of the Great Sanhedrin. Throughout most of the life of Jesus (10 – 30 CE), Simeon was the leader of the Jewish people. It is fascinating that Simeon I died probably the same year that Jesus the Nazarene was crucified.
The life of Simeon I was a puzzle to Rabbi Harvey Falk. In his testimony we find this dilemma.
Rabbi Harvey Falk – “Jewish scholars have long been mystified as to why Simeon - son of Hillel and father of R. Gamaliel the Elder – who served as the Nasi following Hillel’s death, is not quoted or discussed even once in the entire Talmudic literature (except for one brief statement that he succeeded Hillel [Shabbat 15A]). I believe that the Talmud is thereby telling us that the School of Hillel reached its nadir in his time, and that he had no say at all in the affairs of the community.”
Simeon I, the son of Hillel the Great, was a figure head in the Sanhedrin, held hostage by the disciples of Shammai. During his twenty year tenure as the Nasi or President of the Great Sanhedrin, a dramatic shift had occurred in the world view of Jewish Phariseism.
The Mikhvah Baths of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia near the Synagogue of the Nazarenes (Upper Room) over the Tomb of David – Photo by Robert Mock (2006)
The Pharisees of the School of Hillel who believed that there was such a person as a righteous Gentile who had an “inheritance in the world to come” were exiting from the center of Jewish religious politics on a special mission to the Gentiles. At the same time, the Pharisee School in control of the synagogue religious culture in Jerusalem for the last sixty years before the temple was destroyed were the disciples of the Judean Torah scholar, Shammai the Elder, Nasi Hillel’s Vice President (Av Beis Din).
Brooding and rigid in his religious ideology, Shammai the Elder placed protective barriers around Judaism. He virtually shut out the “Good News” that there is a God of Creation who loves all mankind and desires a relationship with each one of them. Here was the rise of the anti-Goyimism (anti-Gentile attitude) of the Jewish people that is even felt today by some Jews
The crucifixion of Jesus on 30 CE also saw the rise of the fourth party of the Jews: the Hebrew Nazarenes. The death of Simeon I and the death of Jesus the Nazarene also saw the mantle of the Nasi Prince of Judah placed on the son of Simeon I, Rabban Gamaliel I the Elder. Here was the rabbinic master and teacher of that young Pharisee called Shaul, the later Apostle Paul, who was one of the leading students of the Pharisees in the yeshiva (school) of Gamaliel.
The disciples of Shammai were equally determined to destroy the disciples of Jesus. They had great allies, the Sadducee High Priestly family of the House of Ananus the Elder and the reigning high priest, Caiphas, the son-in-law of Ananus. This powerful priestly family was the most potent of the enemies of Jesus the Nazarene. They had a “blood oath” against the family of Jesus that eventually took the life of his brother, James the Just, the first Nasi of the Nazarene Sanhedrin. He was murdered by the influence and leadership of the High Priest, Ananus son of Ananus in 62 CE.
It was here at the Gate called Beautiful where the pilgrims entered into the temple complex, Peter, accompanied by John the Apostle, healed a man who was lame since birth. This scene caused quite a commotion on the colonnade to the east of Herod’s temple called Solomon’s Porch. Here it states that the “priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, …and they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day.” (Acts 4:3)
The dynamics in the city of Jerusalem was tense as now the swelling ranks of the Nazarenes had now grown to five thousand men. (Acts 4:4) Then we read about the next day:
Acts 4:5-6 – “The rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest, Caiphas, John and Alexander and as many as were of the family of the high priest were gathered together in Jerusalem.”
When Peter and John were brought before them, they were challenged, “by what power or by what name have you done this?
The Entrance to the Tomb of David just below the Upper Room – Photo by Robert Mock (2006)
Once again, Peter returns the verbal volley this time to the leading rulers of the temple hierarchy and shocks them by his “boldness.”
Acts 4:8-12 – “Then Peter (Kepha), filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed (tov mitzvah) done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel (kol Yisra’el), that by the Name of Jesus the Messiah of Nazareth whom you crucified (impaled), whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief corner-stone (Rosh pina).’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other Name under heaven (shamayim) given among men by which we must be saved.”
Within this oratorical rebuttal was a “pun” when Peter proclaimed, “This is the stone which was rejected by you builders.” The chief Pharisees, called Beit Shammai, were disciples of Shammai, whose name meant, “builder.” Yes, Peter was directly speaking to the Shammaites, when he said, “rejected by you “builders.”
The “boldness” of Peter and John shocked the temple elders and leaders because these two were perceived as “uneducated and untrained.” Their testimony states that the rulers “marveled” and that the boldness was because “they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13) Peter and John were threatened not speak the “Name of Jesus” and were sent away without punishment.
The plot thickens. Peter and John return “to their own companions and report all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. While in prayer, the testimony states that “the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31)
This was not the same outpouring of the Holy Spirit witnessed days before in the temple. We may justly assume that this was a second manifestation of the Holy Spirit while they were meeting in the Upper Terrace, or the House with the Upper Room that stood over the tomb of David, the assembly room and future synagogue of the early Primitive Nazarenes.
The momentum of the early Nazarenes was astounding. The city of Jerusalem was riveted with the unfolding drama of the emerging power phenomenon. The people, the peasants, and the vast populous from the surrounding villages began to bring their sick and their emotionally tormented to be healed. As the tzit-tzit tassels on the hems of Jesus’ prayer shawl brought healing to the bleeding woman, the people now came in the hope that even the “shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.” (Acts 5:15)
The carefully crafted power structure of the elite in charge of the “Temple of Herod Inc” noticed with alarm that their revenue base was rapidly shrinking. The portrayal of the three days of the healing ministry of the “kingdom of God” during the Passover week while Jesus the Nazarene and the Passover Lamb were being examined in the temple was now being repeated by the emissaries or apostles of that rabbi they believed to be the Jewish messiah. They now “boldly” proclaimed and demonstrated in the temple the living reality of the “kingdom of God.”
Anyone less than an orthodox Jew would have been stoned immediately. There was no question that the orthodoxy or the halakhah of the Jewish apostles of Jesus was according to the “letter of the Law (Torah).” The fear, of the apostate high priest and the temple Pharisee elite of Beit Shammai, was not towards the orthodoxy of the Peter, John and the other disciples of Jesus. It was the masses of the Jewish people who loved and adored Yahshua HaMaschiach (Jesus the Messiah) that they feared.
The real fear within the House of Ananus and the Beit Shammai was caused by the power of the “Name” of Yahshua. This fear was not an ideological or theological battle. This fear was the living reality that was swarming around the entire temple culture in Jerusalem. The temple revenues were plunging. The House of Herod, Inc and the “Golden Calf” that they were serving was heading into an economic and spiritual bankruptcy.
They feared that the Jews may actually begin to love the Romans, whom they despised. They feared that Judea might become the center of the world. They would then be required to seek and to spread “hesed,” the acts of loving kindness of the “Good News of the God of Creation” to the entire Roman world. Their paranoia fear was that the Temple of Herod might actually draw millions of Gentiles to its premises in adoration to the God of Israel. No longer would they be a reclusive religious country club with a seclusive membership list called a “covenant.”
The Golden Temple Menorah constructed according to Comprehensive Halakhic Research by the Temple Institute – Prepared to be Placed in the Future Temple in Jerusalem
– Photo by Robert Mock
This was the fear that the Messiah of the Jews truly had come. As their prophetic sage Isaiah proclaimed; the covenant to the Jews was not an exclusive path to salvation. They were to be prepared for a “messiah” that would bring them a covenant of righteousness with the Messiah so that they could be a “light to the (Gentile) world.”
Isaiah 42:5-6 (parts) – “Thus says God the Lord, Who created the heavens and stretched them out…I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people (Jews), as a light to the Gentiles.”
They saw this reality in living color as Jesus first started His ministry in Galilee with the “call” in the lands of Zebulon and Naphtali to the “people who sat in darkness…and upon those…light as dawned” (Matthew 4:15-16):
Matthew 4:17, 19 – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand…Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then in Jesus’ first private recorded teaching with his disciples (talmidim) after healing, teaching and preaching about the “kingdom of heaven,” in the hills surrounding Galilee, He instructed His disciples in a very Jewish way of how to become a Tzaddik (righteous man):
Matthew 5:14-16 – “You are the light of the world, a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
While the voice of the populous swelled with praise and adoration to the blessings of the Lord, the high priest emeritus Ananus and his family dynasty were furiously plotting how they could break the power of this economic and political crisis that was surrounding them. And so the testimony of the Acts of the Apostles continues:
Acts 5:17-18 – “Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, and laid their hand on the apostles and put them in the common prison.”
This time it was not just Peter and John but others and possibly all of the apostles that were taken to the prison of the high priest. Here we witness a strange act. In the middle of the night, an “angel” clad in a white robe not unlike the sacred garments of the Essenes, penetrated the secured underground dungeon beneath the house of Caiphas the high priest. He led the apostles out of the prison with the command, “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.”
The “Broad Wall”, 22 feet thick, built by King Hezekiah in the 8th century to Enlarge Jerusalem for the Refugees from the Northern Kingdom after the Syrian Invasion in 722 BCE – to the Right are Remains of Houses Torn down as Described in Isaiah 22:10
– Photo by Robert Mock
In stunned surprise, rather than in prison, the next day the apostles were found teaching on the temple proper, when “the high priest and those with him came and called the council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel.” (Acts 5:21) The officers that were sent to get the apostles out of prison stuttered in their dismay with the realization that the secured perimeters of the prison of Ananus and Caiphas had been penetrated and compromised. Even the security of the inner sanctum of the palatial guarded residence of Ananus the Elder had apparently been breached.
Acts 5:23 – “Indeed we found the prison shut securely and the guards standing outside before the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside!”
It was a carefully controlled entry from the temple as the temple captain went with his officers to escort the apostles again before the council of the High Priest. Why were the protocols so strictly adhered to? “They feared the people lest they should be stoned.” (Acts 5:26) Here was the power and respect commanded by the apostles of Jesus the Nazarene. The populous, the poor, the disenfranchised, the “settlers,” were like the Jews living in S’derot under the shadow of the Qassam rockets from the Hamas terrorists in Gaza. The peasants were on the Apostle’s side. Jesus was their Master.
Let us carefully delineate the difference between the different participants in this tense drama. There was the House of Ananus and the influential high priest power brokers of the Sadducees. One of the reasons the House of Ananus had their political power was in part with the collaboration and collusion of the Pharisees of the Beit (school or disciples) of Shammai. In the first century, the Pharisees of Beit Shammai were in charge of the institutional Jewish religion and were in control of the matrix or fabric of Jewish life. This was because the entire fabric of Jewish life was centered in the Mosaic rituals held in the Temple of Herod.
As we now see, it was the disciples of Shammai, in collusion with the high priests Ananus and Caiphas, who were responsible for the illegal mock trial of Jesus. It was they who in violation of Torah Law turned a fellow Jew over to the Romans in order to be tried on sedition charges against the Caesar of Rome. The Jewish people have been innocent of the centuries of charges that the “Jews” killed Jesus and stand innocent to this day.
On the other hand, there were the Hasidim that were closely known as the Essenes who were buttressed by the disciples of the Beit (school or disciples) of Hillel the Elder. They viewed the temple hierarchy as apostates in the House of Zadok of the House of Aaron. They were descendants of the House of Zadok that had the divine authority to run the temple complex that had become corrupt like the sons of the Eli, the judge of Israel.
The Western Wall (Ha-Kotel ha-Maaravi) of the Temple Mount called the “Wailing Wall” – Photo by Robert Mock
Outside of these power brokers, there were the peasants, the masses of the Jewish population who were not affiliated with a sect or party. Yet something was happening. The carefully crafted lines of authority were being demolished. Instead of the monetary income flowing into the temple coffers controlled by the House of Ananus from the sale of animals for the temple sacrifices, the masses of the population were swelling the city of Jerusalem after the Pentecost not to bring sacrifices but to witness and experience the “kingdom of God” in living reality. No wonder the temple guards feared for their lives. This same fear was noted no less then two months prior when Jesus the Nazarene threw out the money changers in the temple and was healing the sick and teaching in the temple just before His death.
Caiphas and Ananus, the leading rulers and high priests in the temple of Herod now confronted the apostles:
Acts 5:27-28 – “And the high priest asked them, saying, ‘Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this Name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!’”
The “blood oath” was upon them and Caiphas and Ananus felt guilty as charged. The reply by the apostles was:
Acts 5:29-32 – “We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him, God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
How Jewish this whole scene is portrayed in historical reality. We see no Roman cross. We see no “blood oaths” upon the Jewish people but only upon the Jewish elite who forsook their God as the Shabbatian Jews do so today. We see a corrupt Jewish government and religious leadership that did not fulfill the commands of the Lord that is no different than the government of Israel led by Armalgus and many of the compromised Jewish rabbis today. We do not see the demonstration of the “attribute” in God’s sefirot called “hesed,” that demonstrates a life of giving loving kindness not only to the Jews but to all mankind.
Gamaliel, the Nasi, in Defense of the Nazarenes
Out of the midst of this surreal scene of corruption and hatred, the testimony affirms that “they (high priest and temple leaders) were furious and plotted to kill them (apostles).” (Acts 5:33) Yet, out of this chaos, we see the reasoned voice of a Hasid, a pious one.
The Encased Golden Menorah near the Justinian Era Cardo in Jerusalem (7th century CE) – Photo by Robert Mock
Acts 5:33-39 – “When they (the Council of the Sanhedrin) heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them. Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. And he said to them: “Men of Israel, take heed to your selves what you intend to do regarding these men.
For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing.
After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it – lest you even be found to fight against God.”
How easy it would have been to wipe out the entire hierarchy of the Primitive Nazarenes in one swoop. The High Priest and the Sanhedrin had the power to perform such an act. They proved that fact sixty days prior when Pontus Pilate cowered in the presence of the High Priest and the Shammaites. But the allegiance of the masses of the people, the Essenes and the untold number of Hasidim of Beit Hillel and Levitical priests in the temple gave them pause. They knew that such a division might cause a civil war and their own personal and economic destruction.
In spite of the moderating voices of the Grand Elder who sat on the seat of David, the Roman Decurion and wealthy tin merchant, Joseph of Arimathea, and the wealthy grain merchant, Nicodemus, who as an Essene was seeking the deeper mysteries of the Spirit, the Great Sanhedrin had gone radical.
With the demonic fury of the House of Ananus and the radical isolationism and the radical anti-Goyimism (anti non-Jewish Gentiles) of the Pharisees of the Beit Shammai, the Great Sanhedrin was almost fully under the control of radical Jewish elements that were anti-Torah and anti-God of Israel. This anti-Goyimism of the Beit Shammai would someday be repaid back with anti-Semitism from the Christian and Islamic world.
Rothschild Family Residence built in 1871 in the Batei Makhase Square – Photo by Robert Mock
This testimony of the defense by Rabbi Gamliel ben Simeon ben Hillel in the Acts of Apostles was “bold” and risky. This testimony leaves out one important historical record; Rabban Gamliel was the Nasi or President of the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. He was the revered scholar and head of the School of Gamliel of the Beit (School) Hillel, the son of Simeon I, the grandson of Hillel the Elder called the Great.
As the head of the Great Sanhedrin, he was in the minority with most of his religio-political support in exile at Qumran and other Essene centers in Judea, Galilee and around the Middle East. Alone he stood in front of the Sanhedrin that only two months prior had imprisoned and sought to kill Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus for their defense of Jesus the Nazarene.
It appears that Rabbi Gamaliel understood the ultimate purpose of the mission and destiny of Jesus the Nazarene; to form a religion for the Gentile nations according the Halakhah, the legal commands of the Jews. Out of this mission would also be a “Christian” half way house for the restoration of the “Lost Sheep of the House of Israel” to eventually be restored into a complete covenant relationship with their God.
The protecting finger of the God of Israel can be seen protecting his own people, like “lost sheep”. This is somewhat like Daniel of old who stood in the court of Nebuchadnezzar the Great and later Cyrus the Great in defense and protection of his people the Jews. So also this sage of the Sanhedrin stood out in defense of the Jewish emissaries (apostles) of Yahshua HaMaschiach (Jesus the Messiah). This was not a Christian-Jewish battle for these participants were all self-proclaiming, Torah observing Jews.
In the aftermath of the Bar Kochba Revolt in 135 CE, one of the greatest rabbis of the post-temple era that rose in prominence was Rabbi Meir. He was a disciple of Rabbi Akiva and was recognized as the third generation of the Tanna sages after the destruction of the temple in 70 CE. He lived in the land of Israel during the reigns of the Sanhedrin Nasis Rabbi Simeon II ben Gamliel (142-161 CE) and Rabbi Yehudah (Judah) HaNassi (the Prince) (165-192 CE). During these years, under his leadership, all the teachings of all the Jewish sages were gathered and compiled into six volumes called the Mishnah.
Roman Columns of Unknown Provenance in front of the Rothschild Mansion in the Jewish Quarter – Photo by Robert Mock
According to the legends of the Jews, after the last stand of the Bar Kochba Revolt and the death of Simon ben Kosiba in 135 CE at Bethar, the Roman forces of Hadrian persecuted the Jewish scholars severely. This occurred in part because Rabbi Akiva had given his authority and blessing that Simon ben Kosiba was the Jewish messiah.
One of the ten unforgettable Ten Pious Sages that were killed by the Romans, Rabbi Akiva, the mentor and illustrious teacher of Rabbi Meir, was murdered by the Romans before Meir’s own eyes. They killed him by combing Akiva’s flesh with iron combs until he expired. Even more so, Rabbi Meir’s father-in-law, the Tanna sage, Rabbi Hanina ben Tradyon, was murdered by being burnt alive.
According to a report by Dio Cassius, Julius Severus, the Roman general sent by Hadrian to Judea to quell the Jewish rebel revolt of Bar-Kochba, destroyed the city of Bethar after a siege of two and a half years. The Jewish city was reputed to have 500 schools with no less than 500 students in each school. As Dio Cassius reported:
Dio Cassius - “Julius Severus…razed fifty of their best fortresses and 985 of their most important villages, and that 580,000 men were killed in the sorties and battles, and the number of those who perished by famine, disease, and fire, could not be defined, so that most the whole of Judaea became a desert, as it had been predicted before the war.” (Dio Cassius, LXIX, 14 cited in Adolph Buchler’s “Economic Condition of Judea after the Destruction of the Second Temple.”)
During this time, Rabbi Meir fled to Babylon. When the persecution ended in the reign of Caesar Anthony Pius, Meir returned to the Land of Israel. According to his colleagues, it was stated about Rabbi Meir that "whoever saw him studying the holy Torah, got the impression that he was tearing up mountains and grinding them to dust upon each other." Rabbi Jose, a friend and rabbinic colleague of Meir, made this statement, “He is a great personage, a holy and humble man.
We continue to look for the traces of the Hasidim after the destruction and exile of the Jewish people from Jerusalem. According to the rabbinic sages, Rabbi Meir was noted for his adherence to a high level of Levitical purity. It has been suggested by Kaufman Kohler, in his comprehensive article on the “Essenes”, written for the Jewish Encyclopedia, that the “remnant of the Essenes” could be found as part of the disciples or students of Rabbi Meir. They were known as the “Edah Kdoshah” or the “Congregation of the Saints.” In an atmosphere where they remained Levitically pure, they spent their time in study, prayer, and work in the “Kehilla Kaddisha de-vi-Yrushalayim” or the “Holy Congregation in Jerusalem.” (C. Rabin devoted a whole chapter in the Qumran Studies to the similarities between the Edah Kdoshah and the Essenes cited by Ibid 65-66)
The Western Wall of the Temple Mount – Photo by Robert Mock
In fact it was a subsect of the Pharisees called the Haverim of the Pharisees that Rabbi Meir at Tanna continued to live out his life as a model for his students. Meir adopted the ethical spirit lived both by Hillel and the Essenes where a Torah scholar should be one who “loves mankind” (Avot 6:1) even though the social culture around him was in chaos and a low level of spiritual purity. It appears that Rabbi Meir was devoting his life in preserving an “ideal” by recreating a synthesis or symbiosis of both Pharisaism and Hasidism, or the Hasidic (pious) life of a Pharisee.
As we move into the 2nd century CE and search for the pious Hasidim after Rabbi Meir, we meet Rabbi Hiyya, a Tanna-Amora that was recognized by scholars to be a practicing Hasidim or Essene. In his possession were a group of Megilat Setarim (secret scrolls) which according to Kohler and the editors of the Soncino Talmud (Shabbat 6B) were Essene or other esoteric teaching documents.
In the Shabbat 6B or the Bava Mezia 92A, it attributes the author of the Megilat Setarim to an unknown sage called Issi ben Judah. In the Baraita (Pesahim 113B), it is noted that there were four sages called Issi, one of which is Issi ben Judah, yet who were they? Then there were two sages linked to Joseph that have been identified as Issi ben Akabia.
As if to confuse the issue, we find in Sotah 15B, Issi ben Judah and Issi ben Menahem having a dispute over temple issue. Was this a debate between one Essene and another? Can we be so bold to suggest that Issi ben Menahem was Menahem the Essene, who was the av beis din (“father of the court” in Hillel the Great’s Sanhedrin? What about the passage in Niddah 36B where Rabbi Assi states, “I am Issi ben Judah who is Issi ben Gur-Aryeh.” Was he identifying himself by the names that he was known in the Essene community?
Again we ask, who were the “Issi”? As we dig deeper, we find in the Jerusalem Talmud (Baca Kamma 3:7) that identifies Issi ben Akabia with Yose Kittunta cited by the Mishnah as the last of the important Hasidim in Sotah 49A. The weaving thread between all of these personages is the Hasidim or the Essenes. (Ibid 45-6)
According to Rabbi Harvey Falk, the connection between the title of Issi and the Essenes should not be too difficult. As stated:
The Jerusalem Cardo Shopping Center in what use to be Main Street Byzantine Jerusalem – Photo by Robert Mock
Rabbi Harvey Falk – “It would seem to me that the literal resemblance of Issi to Iss’im (plural for Essenes) is too close to be ignored. It would therefore suggest that Issi ben Judah was an Essene, and their preference for anonymity is probably in line with Hillel’s teaching in Avot 1:13:
Rabbi Hillel the Elder – “A name made great is a name destroyed.” (Avot 1:13)
As Rabbi Falk summarizes:
Rabbi Harvey Falk – “Our interpretation would therefore be that all were members of the same secretive Essene organization, who adopted the appellation (Issi) upon joining the group.” (Ibid 60)
This opens another mystery in the life of Jesus. As the Muslim people wait for the arrival of their messiah, the return of the “Hidden Mahdi” who will guide them through the final events of earth’s history, they also await the final messiah of Islam, Isa ibn Miriam (Jesus son of Mary). Does this give us any hints lost in the ancient migration of the followers of the Nazarenes that escaped into the deserts of Arabia as to the affiliation or identity of Jesus the Nazarene with the Essenes and the Hasidim, the disciples of Hillel and Menahem the Essene?
When the temple of Herod was destroyed in 70 CE, the “voice of the Lord” was heard proclaiming that the “words of Hillel” would become the respected and ascendant teaching of Judaism. The teachings of Hillel would become the Jewish halakhah, the practical way of living a life of Torah. The “spirit” nor the “teachings” of Shammai were not to remain a part of Judaism. The influence of Shammai disappeared. The question we must ask, did remnants of the “spirit” of Shammai remain?
Throughout the ages the anti-Goyim (anti-Gentile) voice of Judaism continued to be heard even to its harshest extent in the words of some of the rabbanim that the gentiles must be killed and destroyed to advance the kingdom of God. It was the Hillel inspired mission of Yahshua HaNotzri (Jesus the Nazarene) that led to the first Jewish attempt to bring the concept of the Universal God of Creation to the entire gentile world. This was done predominately by the “Apostle to the Gentiles” the Pharisee called Shaul. This same Shammaite Pharisee Shaul later became the Apostle Paul, after he converted and became a disciple of Hillel the Great and Menahem the Essene. He became part of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia in Damascus, it is believed that were also Essene disciples of Hillel and Menahem.
Jewish Owner of a Shop in the Cardo with Jerusalem Memorabilia – Photo by Robert Mock
We have learned of the influence of the Shammaites upon the life of that young Pharisee who was also trained under the feet of Gamaliel the Great, the grandson of Hillel the Great. Only until this radical Zealot, Shaul, on his way to Damascus, with a commando Jewish force to imprison or kill the members of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia, did the remarkable “voice of Yahshua” bring Shaul to a conversion experience that changed the entire course of the history of revealed truth. Through the ministry of the Apostle Paul as the “Apostle to the Gentiles”, the God of Israel would also become the God of the proto-Christians that were converts to the Jewish messiah, Yahshua HaNotzri (Jesus the Nazarene).
We know through the historical evidence that the early Christians later apostatized with the Gnostic influence of Simon the magician, who first met the Apostle Peter in Samaria and later moved to the capital city of Rome. There at the Basilica of Prassedes, the roots of Simon’s Gnosticism became interwoven into the primitive Nazarene Roman Christian culture as the soon to be Roman Orthodoxy. Yet we cannot deny that the primitive Nazarene Christians, to the core, were Jewish or gentiles associated and affiliated with Nazarene Judaism.
In Damascus, we then observe the Apostle Paul being sent to the deserts of Arabia for his continuing theological education under the disciples of Yahshua HaNotzri (Jesus the Nazarene). Why? This is where the leadership of the Nazarenes had escaped prior to the destruction of Jerusalem as the forces of the Romans were heading towards the Middle East in 64-65 CE.
The Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia, by this time, was under the leadership of Simeon ben Cleopus, the cousin (and possibly half-brother) of Jesus. He had become the second president, or nasi, nominated for the Nazarene Sanhedrin, when James the Just, the brother of Jesus, was stoned and clubbed to death in 63 CE. This occurred under the orders of the high priest, Ananus the Younger, the son Ananus the Elder who was instrumental in condemning Jesus (Yahshua) to death in 30 CE.
It was after the death of James the Just, when the entire Nazarene congregation safely escaped into the wilderness of Perea, under the courageous leadership of Simeon ben Cleopus, ahead of the arriving Roman forces. Many of the Nazarenes continued to flee further into the deserts beyond Damascus, and beyond, across the Fertile Crescent. It is here that we find the names of the Arabian tribes reflecting possibly the ancient remnants of the Jewish Nazarene Ecclesia.
Moshe at the Shorashim Biblical Shop on Tiferet Israel Street
– Photo by Robert Mock
It might not be a jump in logic to suggest that the truths of Judaism, the stories of the TaNaKh and the prophets that included a deep respect for Jesus the Nazarene as a prophet, were transmitted from the fertile sacred traditions of the Arabian Desert to the mind of Muhammad who became the prophet of Islam. Here was possibly a Jewish vestige or remnant of the ancient Nazarenes who vanished into the deserts of Arabia in the centuries after the destruction of Jerusalem.
During this era, the footsteps of the Hasidim “pure ones” also began to fade and vanish. There were many Jewish rabbis, maggids (Torah teachers), and Torah scholars. Instead of breaking new ground in the “revealed truth” of God, the Jewish sages devoted their lives to the preservation of the TaNaKh, the essence of Judaism and the Oral Law that provides the matrix of the Jewish halakhah today. Yet, they kept their convent with the God of Israel to preserve the oracles of God given to them as the Pentateuch (Torah), the Writings, and the Prophets.
Shorashim Biblical Shop on Tiferet Israel Street – Photo by Robert Mock
These were the years of the era that the Jewish Mishnahs, the Gomorrah’s, and the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud were formalized. It was in these years that the sages of Judah began to digest, archive, and reformulate the concepts of Judaism. This was a dynamic process in which the opinions of many rabbis contributed over the centuries, many times with dissenting opinions.
Here was also the era when Judaism became institutionalized, codified, and many commentaries solidifying the collective understanding of the great Jewish minds on Torah law, the divine concepts of God, and the interaction of the God of Israel in the history of Hebrews.
It was in this Islamic era when the “woman fled into the wilderness” for 1260 years. Under the protection of the Sunni Caliphates of Islam, the Jewish people were protected from the days of the Imamate of the 4th Imam of Islam, Ali (‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib - 599-661), who was accepted by both the Sunni’s and the Shi’as in 657 CE, until the proclamation by a “gentile power” that the Jewish people needed a new homeland by the British Prime Minister Lord Balfour in the 1917 with the Balfour Declaration.
During this 1260 years, the Jewish people participated in the “Golden Age of Islam” from 750 -1200 CE while the Roman Catholic Gentile world was living in the “Dark Ages”. Here the great academies of the Jews at Sura and Pumbedita in Iraq excelled in the studies of the Torah. The Jewish people also were experiencing enormous growth during the “Golden Age” of the Moors in Spain when Maimonides was codifying the Jewish Law in Spain. Then later, during the Mongolian Invasion that destroyed the Sunni Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad, the Umayyad Caliphate in Cordoba Spain continued to protected the Jewish people during the rise of the Catholic Inquisition.
During the 20th century, the gentile world saw the gradual decline and destruction of the last visible remnant of the ancient children of Israel during World War II and the massacre of the Jews in the Holocaust. If any person, including President Ahmadinejad of Iran, can deny that the holocaust of the Jews during World War II even occurred, in spite of the overwhelming documentary evidence by testimony, pictures, and the vast German and Allied archives, how easy would it be to deny that there is a God of Israel who created this planet earth, if the Jewish people were to disappear off the face of this earth? Is not the Islamic vision to control the whole earth predicated on the messianic zeal to destroy the last remnant of God’s chosen people?
Quiet Arch Walkway in the Jewish Quarter of Old Jerusalem
– Photo by Robert Mock
Here in Jerusalem, we will see the last stand of the God of Israel and the children of Abraham, as the “nations of the earth surround Jerusalem”. Let us seriously look over the millennium with the rise of fall of empires and nations. Of all the seventy tribes and peoples that God planted on the face of the earth, only the Jewish people remain today that have kept continuously their history, culture, identity, ancient records, their oracles, their tribal descents, with their laws, and customs. Plus, they kept all the detailed records of the opinions, dissent, and commentaries of the Torah, the law of God that was given to them on Mount Sinai.
Every other nation rose up and cast their fame across the lands and then disappeared with only scattering myths and legends to tell us that they were once there. Yet the Jews kept a living testimony and extensive records, history, and historical documentary of their existence. While they stand naked and exposed in their historical transparency, all the gentile nations, whose ancestors worshipped sticks and stones, bring only legends to the instigative table of history.
As Jewish prosperity has risen out of the ashes of the “European holocaust, that massacred their best sages and leaders plus half of the international Jewish population, today the Jews have become the envy of the nations as the gentile world lusts (“I must have it now”) for possession of Jerusalem.
Saddam’s Babylon has fallen, now for the second time in history. Now Ahmadinejad’s Persia now is lusting for possession of Jerusalem. Is not the thrust, of both the radical Shi’a Islam in Iran and Shiite Hezbollah along with the Sunni al-Qaeda and Hamas the same? In spite of their purported great geo-political divide, held together by one religious-ideological bridge; they both passionately desire the complete annihilation of Israel and the entire Jewish race? Is it their quest not to just destroy Israel, or the orthodox Jews, but every trace of Jewish blood on the face of the earth?
With Greece (America) at the gates of Baghdad and the largest American naval armada in history sitting in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea, Rome (Papal European NATO) has settled at the gates of Lebanon with the largest NATO naval armada in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea since World War II. How can the God of Israel give any more evidence that the “Signs of the Time” have now arrived?
Ruins of the Tipheret Yisrael Synagogue along the Tiferet Yisrael Street, one of the First Synagogues Destroyed by the Jordanians in 1948 War – Photo by Robert Mock
It has been estimated that the number of Jewish people, during the lifetime of Yahshua, consisted of 10% of the total population of the Roman world. Today the Jewish population has declined, after the holocaust in 1948, to only 1% of the entire population of that same region once controlled by the Roman Empire. Also today, the Jewish people have dropped to only 0.1% of the total world population. Why could not the Jewish people, by genocide, future holocausts, pogroms, or just assimilation into the populations of the world, disappear altogether? They could become like the ten Northern Tribes of Israel who completely disappeared twenty-five centuries prior?
The eradication of the “promised line of Isaac” would then be complete. The Davidian lineage that brought us the Jewish messiah called Yahshua ben Yosef, would vanish or be usurped by a Davidian Mason, Davidian Persian, or a Shabbatian Jewish anti-Messiah. Gone also would be the lineage of the hoped for messiah, David, son of David that the Jewish people are awaiting. The joy of the satanic hosts of heaven would be profound. As Satan sought to destroy the pure seed of Adam at the time of the flood of Noah, so Satan is seeking to destroy the pure genetic seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob today. In the city of Jerusalem, that the God of Israel proclaimed was His own Zion, the forces of the evil one will seek to divide and eventually conquer as his own possession.
Today the Rabbis of Judaism represent the School of Hillel but some act like they are part of the School of Shammai. There is a recent trend to pull away from their Christian brethren, and return to an anti-Goyim (anti-gentile) attitude. They would do better to accept Yehoshua and challenge His Torah.
Red Poppies at Jerusalem
– Photo by Robert Mock
Yet, many Christians today criticize the Jewish people severely for worshipping the Talmud instead of the TaNaKh, the Jewish Scriptures, as their source of biblical truth. In their covenant relationship with the God of Israel, they were to guard, protect, and preserve the Torah. The Talmud is their legal documentation on the challenges and rebuttals on how to live a life of Torah. It is a legal account of all the arguments for and against a halakhic dispute. As such, God of Israel may be asking them that this is an account that for eternity will be kept as a testament of how humans struggled with sin and how to come into oneness and fellowship with the Divine.
Is it not interesting how we criticize the Jews in their reverence for the Talmud for here they have preserved their arguments and debate over religious fine points of the Law while we Christians bring our religious amnesia? For two millenniums, the Christian world forgot that Jesus was an orthodox, Sabbath keeping, temple worshipping, festival celebrating, and a halakhah observing Jew. He was not a Palestinian for Palestine did not exist. He was an educated rabbi (teacher of the Torah) that spoke Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. He was not a poorly educated peasant of abject poverty. He grew up in a messianic culture with royal Davidian heritage, and He lived His life as the fullest manifestation of the Torah, while living a life as a Hasid, above and beyond the “letter of the Law”.
After the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple of Herod, rabbinic Judaism turned inward. They were desperate to preserve the oracles of God plus the traditions and the oral legacy of the Mosaic Law before its sages were totally wiped out by the Roman persecutions and pogroms. Yet as the Apostle Paul stated, the Jews were blinded by their own God for His own Divine Purpose.
Romans 9:3-5; 11:1-2 (parts), 7-12 - “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my country men according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law (Torah), the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God, Amen.”
I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew…What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks, but the elect (Nazarenes) have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. Just as it is written:
“God has given them a spirit of stupor,
Eyes that they should not see,
And ears that they should not hear,
To this very day.’ (Isaiah 29:10,13)
And David says:
‘Let their table become a snare and a trap,
A stumbling block and a recompense to them.
Let their eyes be darkened,
So that they do not see,
And bow down their back always.’ (Psalms 69:22-23)
I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the gentile, how much more their fullness!”
Orthodox Jews Praying at the Western Wall at the Kotel – Photo by Robert Mock
The God of Israel gave the Jewish people tunnel vision so that they were never forget their purpose; to preserve the testimony of their God from Sinai, that He is the Creator of this world and continues the love the descendants of that human creature He created in His own Image (Tiferet) called the red man, “Adam”.
It would be the role of the God of Israel to bring the right geo-political changes on this earth so that all men, Jew and Gentile alike, would have an opportunity to await the coming of the messiah. For those with “eyes that can see” that day of the messiah is at hand. The question must be asked, “Is it a burning desire in your life to see the coming of the messiah in your lifetime? Are you eagerly watching, preparing, and waiting for His return? Are you preparing your life and your family’s lives for the social, political, religious, and earth changes that are coming with the arrival of the birth-pangs of the messiah? Many of you want to say, yes, but are scared to do so?
It was the thesis of Rabbi Isaac Luria that the School of Shammai that were the “Pharisees” in power in first century Judaism might represent a shadow picture of how the Torah will be observed in the future messianic era. May we suggest that the theological idealism of the School of Shammai will once again return? If so, we might want to reconsider the philosophical ideology of the School of Shammai.
The disciples of the School of Shammai were not faulted for their brilliant legal understanding on how to live a life of Torah. The problem was, they did not practice what they preached. They were hypocrites! It was Yahshua (Jesus), who stood in opposition to the hypocrisy of the Shammaite Pharisees in Jerusalem, also stated that the legal rulings of the House of Shammai, as they sat on the “Seat of Moses” in the Great Sanhedrin, were correct.
Jewish Males in Study and Prayer at the Western Wall – Photo by Robert Mock
Matthew 23:2 – “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.”
There are some that may suggest that this article on Jesus and the Shammaites might be unfairly critical of the Pharisees in the days of Yahshua. We must not forget, it was the scribes and the Pharisees of the School of Shammai that Jesus reserved these forceful condemnations:
Matthew 23:23-25, 27-28 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith; These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone; Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence…
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
The issue was not that they truly brilliantly understood how to apply the Torah to everyday life, but that they failed to live it. They did not follow their own teachings. This is why they were called hypocrites. They portrayed an outer religious demeanor but inside they did not follow justice, mercy, or have faith (emuna) in the Sovereignty of the God of Israel. They wanted to be the providence for the Jews in Judea, usurping the role of the true Providence. They were “blind guides” who inside used extortion to satisfy their lives of indulgence. Their exteriors were like whitewashed tombs while inside they were spiritually unclean. Instead of following the letter of the Law, inside they were lawlessness (Torahlessness).
Over and over, Jesus would state the halakhah of the Jews and then provide a spiritual interpretation of that legal ruling of the Law of Moses. It was during this time in the era of the first messianic revival of Jesus the Nazarene that He preached and taught about living of life of Torah in the Kingdom of God. Here He gave a vision of that future prophetic messianic era. In that future era, the “conceptual” ideals of Shammai may not only become reality but be felt to be the most “pragmatic” and practice way of living a life of holiness in an era when the Torah will be revered around the world.
The Site where the Jewish People Plan to Build the Third Temple to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – Photo by Robert Mock
No longer would the Jews have to fear the anti-Semitic hatred of the world against the Jews. No longer would the imperial nations of the world seek to destroy the Torah culture of the remnant of the Hebrew people. By this time, the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 37:15-28) depicting the joining of the stick “For Judah and for the children of Israel” with the stick “For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel” will have been complete.
According to Rabbi Harvey Falk in the book of his study, “Jesus the Pharisee, A New Look at the Jewishness of Jesus”, we note that Hillel the Elder, though noted for his piety and humility, was not well known among his contemporaries. In fact, when he was appointed to the chief position as the Nasi or President of the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, according to the Talmud (Pesahim 66A), the sons of Bathyra, the family of Shemaya, the prior Nasi, had not heard about Rabbi Hillel.
When you look at the remarks of Hillel in Avot, it suggests that he blamed his appointment to this high office upon the fact that neither they nor any other candidate could be considered a man of diligent study and integrity. It also suggested that the qualities of the Hasidim (pious ones) were at a dearth in the Land of Israel.
Avot 2:5 by Hillel the Elder – “Where there are no men, strive to be a man.”
It was noted in the Talmudic passage in Berakhot 63A which states that in the presence of others who are able to teach the Torah, you should keep to yourself and not try to compete. It was noted by scholar Resh Lakish that immediately following this observation that a scroll of the Hasidim (Essene) was discovered. In this scroll was the emphasis on constant devotion. (Ibid 45)
In fact, the Talmud as well as the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Hillel and his disciples in the School of Hillel plus the Essenes were referred to in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 11A) as Hasidim. They were not described as Pharisees neither were they described as scribes. Over and over we have seen the clashes in ideology and philosophy as being between the Schools of Hillel and Shammai. More important, the secretive sect of the Essenes, in their attitude towards the Righteous Gentile, was closely aligned with the philosophical outlook of the Sanhedrin President or Nasi, Hillel the Elder.
Torah Ark Scroll at the Western Wall at the Kotel in Jerusalem – Photo by Robert Mock
There may soon come the day of the Messiah when David, son of David will rule and the Messiah of Israel will return to claim His own. May we suggest that in that millennial “Day of the Lord” the “kingdom of God” will be fully instituted with an era of Torah Enlightenment that will spread over the entire earth?
Isaiah 2:2-5 – “Now it shall come to pass in the later days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come and let us walk in the light of the Lord.”
There are many concepts of what the future millennial era will be like. Some millennial concepts are other-worldly new earths where we will have the privilege to traverse the universes in our glorified new bodies like Yahshua’s post-resurrection body. There are other millennial visual concepts that depict a this-worldly earth where the Jews, with the return of their Lost Tribal brothers of the House of Israel called Ephraim or Joseph, will reunite and a Torah Renaissance will radiate over this planet earth.
Jesus the Nazarene also gave us a shadow picture of how the “kingdom of God” will function in that future “Day of the Lord” when the Messiah will reign for a thousand years. Yahshua portrayed this era when the foundation of social, political, and religious order will be founded on the principles of living a life of Torah observance.
During the days of Rabbi Yahshua, the superior intellectual understanding of how to live a life of Torah (called halakhah) was best articulated by the School of Shammai. Yet the “spirit” of a life of Torah was best articulated and lived best by the hasidim of the School of Hillel and Menahem the Essene.
When Yahshua strode unto the stage of first century temple culture in Judea, He lived the “spirit” of Torah as the life of an Hasid, yet He understood the legal and intellectual halakhic understanding of living a life of Torah like the School of Shammai. We must not forget, Yahshua did not accuse the Pharisees of not understanding how to live a life of Torah. He accused them because they were hypocrites and preached one thing and lived another.
Yahshua reframed the message of both schools of Torah study. He gave a spiritual understanding to the disciples of the School of Shammai and a purer legal framework on Torah observance to the disciples of the School of Hillel and Menahem. As such, Yahshua took the pure message of Torah as given from Mount Sinai and showed how, with His Father in heaven living within their hearts, a true Torah filled person will exude the radiance of God’s holy love.
Maybe we will see that when the era of the Messiah arrives, the “spirit of Hillel” will be blended with the “Torah understanding of Shammai”. Out of this symbiosis and synthesis, the doors of Torah observance will be opened to the whole world with an understanding that all men of all races may open up their hearts with love and adoration to the Holy One of Israel. With the fading of anti-goyim (anti-gentile) attitude of Shammai Judaism coupled the “love for all mankind” by the hasids of Hillel, supported with the superb intellectual understanding of Torah by the Shammaites, the Golden Era of Torah Enlightenment will finally have its day to bless all the world with presence of the “Only Begotten Son of the Father in Heaven” that will allow the minds of all men to observe directly the glory of the Almighty One of Israel. May that “Day of the Lord” come soon!
Index for “The Divine Mission to Bring the “Good News” to the Gentiles”
Go to Part Four – “Jesus the Nazarene and the Pharisees of Beit Shammai”
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Letter of Rabbi Jacob Emden concerning Jesus the Nazarene -
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Index for “The Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia of Jerusalem”
Go to Part Eighteen – “The Flight of the Hebrew Nazarene to the Wilderness of Perea”
Go to Part Eighteen – “Jesus the Nazarene and the Pharisees of the School of Shammai”
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The Last of the Nazarenes and the Desposyni (“The Lord’s Kin”)Go to Part Twenty
Index for “Spring Jewish Festivals – Passover and Pentecost”
“Looking at the Death of Yehoshua (Jesus) from the
Perspective of First Century Judaism”
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“The Earthquake at Yahshua’s Death and the Time of the End”
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When does the First Month of Nissan (Aviv) Begin?
Index for “The Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia of Jerusalem”
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The Jewish Quarter by Bible Places
Jerusalem Cardo by Bible Places
The 19 Years of Jordanian “Guardianship” and Desecration of Jerusalem by Jewish Virtual Library
Jerusalem City of David and Area G – by Bible Places
The Cardo by the Department of Jewish Zionist Education
The Cardo by the Agency for Jewish Education
The Emperor Justinian and Jerusalem (527-586 BCE by New Jerusalem Mosaic, Hebrew University
Jerusalem in Early Christian Times by Israel MFA
The Empire Strikes Back in Jerusalem’s Cardo by Jerusalem Post
Jerusalem through Jewish Eyes by Jerusalem Post
Jerusalem, the Eternal City by Israel MFA
The Cardo in 3D in the Old City of Jerusalem by 3Disrael, inisrael.com
Jerusalem – University of North Florida
The Medaba Map and the Cardo
Jerusalem, the Nea Church and the Cardo by Jewish Virtual Library
Byzantine Jerusalem and the Medaba Map by James Lancaster Ph.D.
Jerusalem on the Medaba Map by New Jerusalem Mosaic, Hebrew University
The Nea Church by New Jerusalem Mosaic, Hebrew University
The Menorah by the Restoration Foundation
The City of David
Jerusalem’s City of David and Area G by Bible Places
City of David by the Elad Foundation
Area G by Virtual Jewish Library
House of Ahiel Opens Door on Jephthat by The Messianic Times
Area G by New Jerusalem Mosaic, Hebrew University
The Citadel of David by Dig the Bible
Rabbi Jacob Emden
Message from BibleSearchers
BibleSearchers scans the world for information that has relevance on the time of the end. It is our prayer that this will allow the believers in the Almighty One of Israel to “watch and be ready”. Our readiness has nothing to do trying to halt the progression of evil on our planet earth. In our readiness, we seek to be prepared for the coming of the Messiah of Israel so that goodness and evil will be manifested in its fullest. Our preparation is a pathway of spiritual readiness for a world of peace. Our defender is the Lord of hosts. The time of the end suggests that the Eternal One of Israel’s intent is to close out this chapter of earth’s history so that the perpetrators of evil, those that seek power, greed and control, will be eliminated from this planet earth. The wars of the heavens are being played out on this planet earth and humans will live through it to testify of the might, power, justice and the love of the God of Israel. In a world of corruption and disinformation, we cannot always know what the historical truth is and who is promoting evil or mis-information. We cannot guarantee our sources but we will always seek to portray trends that can be validated in the Torah and the testimony of the prophets of the Old and the New Testament.
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