I came to a fork in the road, so I took it.
In Response To: Herod's Money ()

Of course I'll help if I can. I'm fascinated with the period, as you know.

I would like to share once again my belief that when we speak of the Babylonian captivity period, we are speaking of the tribes Judah and Levi, not Israel. I think this is a critical point, because by the time of the second temple period, there was already a well established "Jewish" Hellenistic and Roman Elite who had long since abandoned the type of militant fundamentalism of the Maccabees that led to the Second Temple.

There is a myth that the Israelite tribes went into captivity when Samaria fell. In fact, the Bible and Assyrian cuneiform records agree that few Israelites were left in the land when Samaria fell. While many had gone into captivity in earlier Assyrian invasions, most Israelites migrated voluntarily by sea and land to several new locations. Their descendants built two new empires. The first was Carthage. Unlike the land-bound Greeks and Romans, Carthage constructed a maritime, commercial empire linking its colonies on several continents. Carthage's language and culture was based on its Hebrew orgins. The other new power was Scythia, and its people were named the Sacae tribes. The term "Saacae" preserve the name of the Hebrew Patriarch, Isaac. Scythia's Israelite origin is extensively documented. The names of many Israelite tribes and clans are present and identifiable among the Sacae tribes.

Which brings me to Parthia: the greatest Israelite empire in the post-exilic period, the one empire which Rome actually feared. Its Semitic/Israelite origins are well-documented as is the fact that its single dynasty, the Arsacids, were descended from King David. In the wake of Alexander, the Parthian Empire rose to power as Carthage fell, and the names of Israelite tribes and clans are much in evidence within the Parthian Empire. Josephus records that the ten tribes were a very numerous people in Asia and he identifies them as living in Parthia's empire.

The deliberate attempts by the gospel writers to "easternize" Jesus' pedigree is very interesting, as it shows just how wide Rome was casting its net with the gospels. The presence of the Magi, and the obvious respect and deference which Herod showed them suggests to me that he either feared them or owed them for either money or power. Also, the many ways in which Jesus is portrayed as an Arsacid heir, with very clear catchphrases and symbolism, is subtle enough for the western eye to overlook it, but a very clear message to the east as well.

The Essene-Helen-Egypt connection suggested by Eisenman would be another place where you could apply your interpretive powers along the lines of your Pax Syriana hypothesis of interconnected royalty. As if we need another mystery! but, the Dead Sea Scrolls, where the Hasmoneans are so vilified, has plenty of dirt left to be turned. Plus, identifications of the "Teacher of righteousness", the "wicked priest", the "spouter of lies", and the "Kittim" would be very relevant to the Herodian work you have already done and may lead to to a new layer of your typecast that brings some of our mysterious characters into stronger relief. Anyway, may I suggest Wise, Abegg, and Cook's; which has excellent commentary text.


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Israel and Phoenicia