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The Paravars: Chapter 2 – The Jewish Lore


Myself

 By T. V. Antony Raj Fernando

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Previous: The Paravars: Chapter 1 – The Hindu Myths

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Parvaim 

Today, most of the Paravars live mainly in and around the seaport towns in the Tirunelveli district in south India and in some of the provinces on the north-west coast of Sri Lanka and are steadfast Roman Catholics. To the affluent Paravars, who wish to remove the stigma placed on the occupation of their caste which was considered “low and ritually polluting occupations,” namely, fishing, diving for pearls and chanks, and producing salt, the following information about Parvaim and Ophir ought to warm their hearts.

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Mudaliyar Simon Casie Chitty ( 1807-1860)
Mudaliyar Simon Casie Chitty ( 1807-1860)

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In 1873, in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, Volume 4, Issue 07, January 1837, pp 130-134, a paper submitted by Mudaliyar Simon Casie Chitty (1807-1860), District Judge of Chilaw and Maniagar of Puttalam, Ceylon, a writer of great repute, says:

“In the classification of the Tamil castes, the Parawas rank first among the tribes of fishermen, and they are generally allowed to have been the earliest navigators in the Indian Ocean, like the Phœnicians in the Mediterranean. They are described in the Tamil dictionary, entitled Nigundu Súlamaní, under the head of Neythanílémakkal, or inhabitants of the sea-coast. In Sanscrit, they are called Parasavas, or Nishadas, and in Tamil, Parathar, Parathavar, and Paravar. The author of the Historia Ecclesiastica (published in Tamil, at Tranquebar, in the year 1735), identifies them with the Parvaim of the Scriptures, and adds, that in the time of Solomon they were famous among those who made voyages by sea; but it does not appear that there is any solid foundation for this hypothesis.” (Art. V.—Remarks on the Origin and History of the Parawas)

Tranquebar is present-day Tharangambadi, founded by the Danish East India Company in 1620.

The word Parvaim occurs only in 2 Chronicles 3:6 in the Bible, as the place from which Solomon obtained gold for decorating his Temple.

He also covered the house with precious stones for splendor; the gold was from Parvaim. (2 Chronicles 3:6)

Some scholars have suggested that Parvaim derives from the Sanskrit word purva, a general term for ‘east’. Whether there was such a place called Parvaim in the East is doubtful.

Ophir

Some scholars have identified Parvaim with Ophir, but it is uncertain whether it is even the name of a place.

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King Hiram's freet brings gifts to King Solomon
King Hiram’s fleet brings gifts to King Solomon

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In the Bible (and the Torah) The Books of Kings and Chronicles tell of a joint expedition to Ophir, a port on the Red Sea, by King Solomon and the Tyrian King Hiram I from Eziongeber. They brought back vast amounts of gold, precious stones and almug wood from Ophir:

They went to Ophir, and obtained four hundred and twenty talents of gold and brought it to King Solomon. ( 1 Kings 9:28)

Hiram’s fleet, which used to bring gold from Ophir, also brought from there a very large quantity of almug wood and precious stones. ( 1 Kings 10:11)

But now, because of the delight I take in the house of my God, in addition to all that I stored up for the holy house, I give to the house of my God my personal fortune in gold and silver: three thousand talents of Ophir gold, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, for overlaying the walls of the rooms for the various utensils to be made of gold and silver, and for every work that is to be done by artisans. Now, who else will contribute generously and consecrate themselves this day to the LORD?” (1 Chronicles 29:3-5)

The servants of Huram and of Solomon who brought gold from Ophir also brought cabinet wood and precious stones. (2 Chronicles 9:10)

In those times Solomon went to Ezion-geber and to Elath on the seashore of the land of Edom. Huram had his servants send him ships and his own servants, expert seamen; they went with Solomon’s servants to Ophir, and obtained there four hundred and fifty talents of gold and brought it to King Solomon. (2 Chronicles 8:17-18)

King Solomon also built a fleet at Ezion-geber, which is near Elath on the shore of the Red Sea in the land of Edom. To this fleet, Hiram sent his own servants, expert sailors, with the servants of Solomon. They went to Ophir, and obtained four hundred and twenty talents of gold and brought it to King Solomon. (1 Kings 9:26-28)

Almug (sometimes rendered Algum) is a type of wood referred to in the Hebrew Bible, however, the variety of this wood is unknown. King Solomon constructed the Temple using almug together with cedar and pine. Almug was also used to craft musical instruments for use in the Temple. Likely the wood brought from the distant country of Ophir was very valuable.

There are references to the ‘gold of Ophir’ in several other books of the Bible:

And treat raw gold as dust, the fine gold of Ophir as pebbles in the wadi, (Book of Job 22:24)

Daughters of kings are your lovely wives; a princess arrayed in Ophir’s gold comes to stand at your right hand. (Psalms 45:10)

I will make mortals more rare than pure gold, human beings, than the gold of Ophir. (Isaiah 13:12)

There are specific possibilities that Ophir is in the Southern part of India – a region well-known for gold, ivory and peacocks. In ancient times, sandalwood came almost exclusively from South India.

In a dictionary of the Bible published by Sir William Smith in 1863, Hurd and Houghton, 1863 (1870), a note on page 1441 says that the Hebrew word for peacock Thukki, is derived from the Classical Tamil word Thogkai referring to peacock. Thogkai is just one of the classical Tamil words along with words for ivory, cotton-cloth and apes mentioned in the Torah.

This theory that Ophir is in Tamil Nadu, India, is further supported by other historians like K. S. Ramaswami Sastri, in The Tamils and their culture, Annamalai University, 1967, pp.16; Gregory James, Tamil Lexicography, M. Niemeyer, 1991, pp.10; Edna Fernandes, The last Jews of Kerala, Portobello, 2008, pp.98.

Some identify Ophir as Uvari, a coastal village in Radhapuram Taluk in Tirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu State, India. It is 59 kilometres towards the South from Tirunelveli and 704 kilometres from Chennai. The main occupation of the villagers is fishing. Many of the men are sailors.

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 Previous: The Paravars: Chapter 1 – The Hindu Myths

Next:  The Paravars: Chapter 3 – The Pearl Fishery Coasts in the Gulf of Mannar

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I Am the Good Shepherd…


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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i-am-the-good-shepherd

John, Chapter 10: 1-5

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.

The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”

i-am-the-good-shepherd-2

John, Chapter 10: 11-14

I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them.d

This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, …

Note: I have used the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Bible – John, Chapter 10

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King Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom (1 Kings 3:5-15)


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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The following verses 5 to 15 from Chapter 3 in the book of “1 Kings” in the Old Testament, shows how Solomon obtained the three gifts from God: a listening heart,  riches, and universal fame to rule over his subjects.

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Dream of Soloman by Luca Giordano (Madrid, circa 1693)
Dream of Soloman by Luca Giordano (Madrid, circa 1693)

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In Gibeon, the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night.

God said: “Whatever you ask I shall give you.”

Solomon answered:

“You have shown great kindness to your servant, David my father because he walked before you with fidelity, justice, and an upright heart; and you have continued this great kindness toward him today, giving him a son to sit upon his throne.

Now, LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed David my father; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.

I, your servant, among the people you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted.

Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and evil. For who is able to give judgment for this vast people of yours?”

The Lord was pleased by Solomon’s request. So God said to him:

“Because you asked for this—you did not ask for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies—but you asked for discernment to know what is right.

I now do as you request. I give you a heart so wise and discerning that there has never been anyone like you until now, nor after you will there be anyone to equal you.

In addition, I give you what you have not asked for: I give you such riches and glory that among kings there will be no one like you all your days.

And if you walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and commandments, as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”

Solomon awoke; it was a dream!

He went to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, sacrificed burnt offerings and communion offerings, and gave a feast for all his servants.

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Note:  I have used the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) version of the Holy Bible.

It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.”


Myself 

 By T.V. Antony Raj

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Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness by James Tissot (Brooklyn Museum, New York City)
Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness by James Tissot (Brooklyn Museum, New York City)

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Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.

He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterward, he was hungry.

The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.”

Jesus said in reply, “It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’

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Here, the tempter tries to utilize the cravings of the flesh, namely hunger as Jesus was starving.

For the Roman Catholics, the definition of Lent varies according to different documents.

The official document on the Lenten season, Paschales Solemnitatis, says: “the first Sunday of Lent marks the beginning of the annual Lenten observance” – representing a period of 40 days.

The Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar say: “The forty days of Lent run from Ash Wednesday up to but excluding the Mass of the Lord’s Supper exclusive“, representing a period of 44 days.

Both the above-mentioned sources agree that Lent ends on the evening of Holy Thursday, before the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

Historically, the season of Lent has varied from a week to three weeks to the present configuration of 46 days when we count all the days from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday. The Sundays of Lent are certainly part of the “Time of Lent”, but to reconcile this with the phrase “forty days of fasting“, they are not prescribed days of fast and abstinence. It would be more accurate if we say “forty days fast within Lent.

In the traditional doctrine of Christian spirituality, a constituent part of repentance, of turning away from sin and back to God, includes some form of penance. The Catholic Church has specified certain forms of penance to ensure that the Catholic will do something as required by divine law while making it easy for them to fulfill the obligation. Thus, the 1983 Code of Canon Law specifies the obligations of Latin Rite Catholics.

Canon 1250: All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.

Canon 1251: Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Canon 1252: All who have completed their fourteenth year are bound by the law of abstinence. All adults are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their sixtieth year. Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.

Canon 1253: It is for the conference of bishops to determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.

Thus, the Church has two forms of official penitential practices – three if the Eucharistic fast before Communion is included.

Abstinence

The law of abstinence requires all Catholics who are 14 years old and older to be bound by the law of abstinence until death to abstain from eating meat on all Fridays that are not Solemnities in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday.

Meat is considered to be the flesh and organs of mammals and fowl and moral theologians have traditionally forbidden the consumption of soups or gravies made from them.

Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted, as are animal-derived products such as gelatin, butter, cheese, and eggs that do not have any taste of meat.

When solemnities, such as the Annunciation, Assumption, All Saints etc. fall on a Friday, Catholics do not abstain or fast.

During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory, and is considered a sin not to observe this discipline without a serious reason such as physical labor, pregnancy, sickness etc.

Fasting

The practice of fasting before Easter developed gradually, and with considerable diversity of practice regarding duration. In the latter part of the second century, there were differing opinions not only regarding the manner of the paschal fast, but also the proper time for keeping Easter.

In 331, St. Athanasius urged his flock to follow a period of forty days of fasting preliminary to, but not inclusive of, the stricter fast of Holy Week.

In 339, after having traveled to Rome and over the greater part of Europe, St. Athanasius wrote in the strongest terms to urge this observance of fasting upon the people of Alexandria as one that was universally practiced, “to the end that while all the world is fasting, we who are in Egypt should not become a laughing-stock as the only people who do not fast but take our pleasure in those days”.

During the time of Gregory the Great (590–604), there were apparently at Rome six weeks of six days each, making thirty-six fast days in all. St. Gregory describes the thirty-six fast as the spiritual tithing of the year, since thirty-six days being approximately the tenth part of three hundred and sixty-five. At a later date the wish to realize the exact number of forty days led to the practice of beginning Lent on Ash Wednesday.

The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday [Canon 97] to the 59th Birthday [i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday] to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this reduction in intake of food as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal in quantity.

Such fasting is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The fast is broken by consuming drinks which could be considered food.

People excused from fast or abstinence

Besides those outside the age limits, those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment, manual laborers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline.

Aside from these minimum penitential requirements, Catholics are encouraged to impose some personal penance on themselves at other times. It could be modeled after abstinence and fasting. For example, a person could multiply the number of days they abstain. Some people give up meat entirely for religious motives (as opposed to those who give it up for health or other motives).

Some religious orders, as a penance, never eat meat.

The early Church had a practice of a Wednesday and Saturday fast. This fast could be the same as the Church’s law (one main meal and two smaller ones) or stricter, even bread and water. Such freely chosen fasting could also consist in giving up something one enjoys such as chocolates, candy, soft drinks, smoking, the cocktail before supper, and so on. This is left to the discretion of the individual.

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Is Bible the World’s Best-selling or Most-read or Most Distributed Book?


READERS HAVE VIEWED THIS POST MORE THAN 11,970 TIMES.

 

 

Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj

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A few days ago, some friends and I while discussing the Holy Bible unwittingly got divided into three factions. One group claimed the Bible as the world’s best-selling book. Another group upheld it as the world’s most-read books. The third group considered it as the most-printed and most-distributed Book.

Many devout Christians are quick to assert that the Holy Bible is the world’s best-selling book, for all time. They claim that because a great number of people purchased the Bible, it, therefore, has lots of philosophical truth in it.

The Bible, the Quran, and Quotation from Chairman Mao, often reported as the most-printed and most-distributed books worldwide have hundreds of millions of copies to their credit. Exact print statistics for such books are, in fact, not available, or inaccurate because many unrelated publishers have printed these books over several centuries. Many books such as Don Quixote, The Three Musketeers, Alice in Wonderland, The Adventures of Pinocchio, the individual Harry Potter books and much more generally cited as “best-selling books” do not have dependable sales figures.

Obviously, the mere volume of books sold has no relation to their content. Therefore, the Bible cannot be considered as the best-selling book of all time for several reasons:

Firstly, the Bible in its many versions have been in print for hundreds of years, and their number has not been reliably accounted for. Hence, over such a time, we can only estimate the number of bibles sold. Statistically, such an estimate without a measure of confidence with it is useless.

Secondly, not all copies of the Bible fetch money. In fact, many missionaries hand out enormous numbers of bibles free of charge. These cannot be counted in a bestseller list, not only because they have not been sold, but because the person receiving the book may not actually want it. Compare this to the Harry Potter series, where the numbers given away free dwindles into insignificance.

Thirdly, not all copies of the Bible are read, and almost no one reads them cover to cover. On the other hand, if you consider a modern novel, it would be ludicrous and unthinkable for a person to read only a few pages at random and ignore the rest. Do you know that most copies of the Bible placed in bedside drawers in some hotels across the world are never read, and in many cases rarely even seen by any living creature?

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Video: A Letter from Your Heavenly Father


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Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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I created the video A Letter from Your Heavenly Father” based on the text of “Father’s Love Letter” by Barry Adams of Father Heart Communications © 1999-2011.

Father’s Love Letter” is a compilation of Bible verses from both the Old & New Testaments that are presented in the form of a love letter from God to us.

Each line of the Father’s Love Letter message is paraphrased, which means that Barry Adams has taken each Scripture’s overall message and summarized it as a single phrase to best express its meaning.

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Barry Adams author of Father's Love Letter (Source: tvaraj2inspirations.wordpress.com)
Barry Adams author of Father’s Love Letter (Source: tvaraj2inspirations.wordpress.com)

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… I can remember the day that I asked God to help me to better comprehend His love in light of all of the scripture that I was now seeing throughout the Bible. In my heart, I immediately heard a still small voice say… ‘If you put the scriptures in the right order, they will form a love letter’. That was December 1998 and by January 1999 I had compiled a series of paraphrased scriptures into a PowerPoint presentation accompanied by Brian Doerksen’s song ‘Faithful Father’ that I played as a sermon illustration in my home church,” says Barry Adams

Click on this line to read the story behind “Father’s Love Letter” of Barry Adams.

I am a fan of Late Arthur C. Clarke and an avid reader of his works. In 1970, I met him in person in Sri Lanka and shook hands with him.

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Arthur C. Clarke

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In 1948, Clarke wrote a short story “The Sentinel” for a BBC competition. Though the story was rejected, it changed the course of Clarke’s career. “The Sentinel” introduced a more cosmic element to Clarke’s work. It was the basis for Stanley Kubrick‘s film “2001: A Space Odyssey” which I have viewed countless number of times.

The docking of the space shuttle from earth with the space station hovering between the earth and the moon, with “The Blue Danube” of Strauss lilting in the background, was the best cinematic scene that has ever impressed and inspired me.

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André Rieu (Source: hpistanbul.com)
André Rieu (Source: hpistanbul.com)

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So, I created this video “A Letter from Your Heavenly Father” using the docking clip from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” and the musical movement in the background is “An Der Schonen Blauen Donau Opus 314” (German: “On the Beautiful Blue Danube“), a waltz by the Austrian composer Johann Strauss II, composed in 1866 and rendered here by André Rieu and His Johann Strauss Orchestra.

I hope this video presentation of mine will inspire you with the verses created by Barry Adams.

Your comments are welcome.

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