Tag Archives: Israel

Are The Tallit and Tzitzit of the Jews Equivalent to Prayer Beads Used in Other Religions?


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The prayer beads (rosaries and mala beads) are common accessories among spiritual traditions of many religions except in Judaism.

The orthodox Jews frown upon such devices. They consider it a mortal sin tantamount to idol worship. Many Judaic sources frown, prohibit or discourage the use of prayer beads and such, since these practices could lead the observant to take the name of God in vain. However, there are other sources that verify such use as a common kabbalistic practice kept secret for over hundreds of years.

However, there is something comparable to the use of prayer beads in traditional Jewish practice, though there is no direct reference to any kind of rosary practice.

The tallit 

The tallit is a prayer shawl, used for centuries by Jewish people. It is a rectangular garment with parallel stripes across the shorter ends. Most tallitot (plural) are white with navy or black stripes. Originally it was woven without seams.

Tallit
Tallit – a Jewish prayer shawl

The Jews place the tallit over their head and shoulders while praying in private and in the synagogue, and during other significant times of prayer.

Tallitot are first worn by children on their Bar Mitzvahs. Among orthodox Jews in the Ashkenazi circles, a tallit is customarily presented to a groom before marriage as part of the dowry.

In the Torah, in the book of Numbers, chapter 15:37-40, we read that the LORD designed the tallit and gave the directions to Moses:

37 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying:

38 ‘Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them throughout their generations fringes in the corners of their garments, and that they put with the fringe of each corner a thread of blue.

39 And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye go not about after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go astray;

40 that ye may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy unto your God.

Again in Deuteronomy 22:12 we read:

“Thou shalt make thee twisted cords upon the four corners of thy covering, wherewith thou coverest thyself.”

The tzitzit

In Hebrew, tzitzit is the name for specially knotted ritual fringes worn by observant Jews. Tzitzit are attached to the four corners of the tallit and tallit katan.

A tzitzit
A tzitzit

There are specifications for constructing the tassel, winding the thread separating the knots, and making the knots themselves.

God, in his concern for his people to obey his commandments and avoid punishment of death, told Moses to have his people include a specified number of fringes or knotted tassels on its four corners, and on the hems or borders of all their garments, in a very specific fashion, called tzitzit.

Each of these tzitziyot should include a cord of blue to remind that the origin of the Law is heavenly and not sin against the Holy One of Israel, Yahweh, God the Father.

Also, these verses from the Torah might lead some to subtly infer that numbers are as spiritually significant to the tallit in Judaism as they are to prayer beads in other traditions. However, there are no reference to using these knots in any kind of rosary practice.

The tallit katan

The tallit katan meaning ‘small tallit‘ is a fringed garment traditionally worn either under or over their clothing by Jewish men. It is a poncho-like garment with a hole for the head and special twined and knotted fringes known as tzitzit attached to its four corners.

An Orthodox Jewish man wearing a Wool Tallit Katan under his vest
An Orthodox Jewish man wearing a Wool Tallit Katan under his vest.

The four corners are generally regarded as the four corners of the earth’s cardinal directions; and the tassels to remind them of the commandments. By the way, the Jews have a total of 613 do and don’t commandments to follow and not just the 10 that are generally known.

Generally, a tallit katan is made of wool or cotton. The requirements about the fabric and fringes of a tallit katan are the same as that of a tallit gadol, the prayer shawl worn during the morning services in synagogues by all male participants, and in many communities by the leader of the afternoon and evening prayers as well.

“Who touched me?”

Most of us forget that Jesus was a Jew. Here is an interesting episode in the life of Jesus narrated by Luke in Chapter 8:42-48.

Woman grabbing yeshua's tzitzit
Woman grabbing yeshua’s tzitzit

… As he went, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years, who [had spent her whole livelihood on doctors and] was unable to be cured by anyone, came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. Immediately her bleeding stopped.

Jesus then asked, “Who touched me?”

While all were denying it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are pushing and pressing in upon you.”

But Jesus said, “Someone has touched me; for I know that power has gone out from me.”

When the woman realized that she had not escaped notice, she came forward trembling. Falling down before him, she explained in the presence of all the people why she had touched him and how she had been healed immediately.

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

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The Magnificat: The Song of Mary / The Canticle of Mary


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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The Visitation by Mariotto Albertinelli
The Visitation by Mariotto Albertinelli

Mary Visits Elizabeth – Luke 1:39-45

During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said,

“Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.

Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.

The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.

His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.

He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.

He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.

The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,

according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

    • When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, (Luke 1:41)

is reflected in

    • But the children jostled each other in the womb so much that she exclaimed, “If it is like this, why go on living!” She went to consult the LORD, (Genesis 25:22)
    • And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of [the] Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. (Luke 1:14-16)

Also,

    • cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. (Luke 1:42)

has similarities in

    • While he was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” (Luke 11:27-28)
    • Most blessed of women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, blessed among tent-dwelling women! (Judges 5:2)
    • Then Uzziah said to her, “Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God, above all the women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, the creator of heaven and earth, who guided your blow at the head of the leader of our enemies. (Judith 13:18)
    • Blessed be the fruit of your womb, the produce of your soil and the offspring of your livestock, the issue of your herds and the young of your flocks! (Deuteronomy 28:4)

And then Elizabeth says,

    • “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43)

Even before his birth, Jesus is identified in Luke as the Lord through the phrase,

    • “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:45)

Luke portrays Mary as a believer whose faith stands in contrast to the disbelief of Zechariah,

    • “But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.” (Luke 1:20).

Mary’s role as a believer in the infancy narrative should be seen in connection with the explicit mention of her presence among “those who believed” after the resurrection at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles:

    • All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. (Acts 1:14).

The Magnificat

Although Mary is praised for being the mother of the Lord and because of her belief, she reacts as the servant in a psalm of praise, the Magnificat.

The Magnificat or “[My soul] magnifies” in Latin is also known as the Song of Mary or the Canticle of Mary. It is a canticle frequently sung liturgically in Christian church services. It is one of the eight most ancient Christian hymns and perhaps the earliest Marian hymn. The name comes from the first word of the Latin version of the canticle’s text.

Because there is no specific connection of the canticle in the context of Mary’s pregnancy and her visit to Elizabeth, the Magnificat with the possible exception

    • For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. (Luke 1:48)

may have been a Jewish-Christian hymn that Luke found appropriate at this point in his story. Even if this canticle was not composed by Luke, it fits in well with the themes found elsewhere in Luke:

    • joy and exultation in the Lord;
    • the lowly being singled out for God’s favor;
    • the reversal of human fortunes;
    • the fulfillment of Old Testament promises.

The loose connection between the hymn and the context is further seen in the fact that a few Old Latin manuscripts identify the speaker of the hymn as Elizabeth, even though the overwhelming textual evidence makes Mary the speaker.

The Song of Hannah

The canticle echoes several biblical passages from the Old Testament. The most pronounced allusions are to the Song of Hannah, from the Books of Samuel (1 Samuel 2:1-10) ,

1 And Hannah prayed:
“My heart exults in the LORD,
my horn is exalted by my God.
I have swallowed up my enemies;
I rejoice in your victory.

2 There is no Holy One like the LORD;
there is no Rock like our God.

3 Speak boastfully no longer,
Do not let arrogance issue from your mouths.
For an all-knowing God is the LORD,
a God who weighs actions.

4 “The bows of the mighty are broken,
while the tottering gird on strength.

5 The well-fed hire themselves out for bread,
while the hungry no longer have to toil.
The barren wife bears seven sons,
while the mother of many languishes.

6 “The LORD puts to death and gives life,
casts down to Sheol and brings up again.

7 The LORD makes poor and makes rich,
humbles, and also exalts.

8 He raises the needy from the dust;
from the ash heap lifts up the poor,
To seat them with nobles
and make a glorious throne their heritage.
“For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s,
and he has set the world upon them.

9 He guards the footsteps of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall perish in the darkness;
for not by strength does one prevail.

10 The LORD’s foes shall be shattered;
the Most High in heaven thunders;
the LORD judges the ends of the earth.
May he give strength to his king,
and exalt the horn of his anointed!”

Along with the Benedictus, as well as several Old Testament canticles, the Magnificat is included in the Book of Odes, an ancient liturgical collection found in some manuscripts of the Septuagint.

The original language of the Magnificat is Koine Greek, the language of the New Testament. However, in the liturgical and devotional use of the Western Church, it is most often found in Latin or the vernacular.

English Scripture text: Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.

Amen

Latin (present official Roman Catholic form)
Magníficat ánima mea Dóminum,
et exsultávit spíritus meus
in Deo salvatóre meo,
quia respéxit humilitátem
ancíllæ suæ.Ecce enim ex hoc beátam
me dicent omnes generatiónes,
quia fecit mihi magna,
qui potens est,
et sanctum nomen eius,
et misericórdia eius in progénies
et progénies timéntibus eum.
Fecit poténtiam in bráchio suo,
dispérsit supérbos mente cordis sui;
depósuit poténtes de sede
et exaltávit húmiles.
Esuriéntes implévit bonis
et dívites dimísit inánes.
Suscépit Ísrael púerum suum,
recordátus misericórdiæ,
sicut locútus est ad patres nostros,
Ábraham et sémini eius in sæcula.Glória Patri et Fílio
et Spirítui Sancto.
Sicut erat in princípio,
et nunc et semper,
et in sæcula sæculórum.
Amen.

“The Beast” in President Barack Obama’s Fleet Broke Down


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Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj

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President Obama's limousine. Photograph- Handout/GPO via Getty Iimages
President Obama’s limousine. Photograph- Handout/GPO via Getty Iimages

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One of the limousines in US President Barack Obama’s fleet broke down at the start of his visit to Israel.

Some Israeli media reported that the car was inadvertently filled with diesel fuel and not gasoline after a confusion over whether the vehicle ran on diesel or gasoline. However, Edwin Donovan, a secret service spokesperson said: “One of our protective vehicles experienced mechanical problems in Israel.” He added that the Secret Service did not yet know what the problem was and since breakdown happened before the president arrived in Israel his itinerary was not affected because of it. POTUS drove away in a different vehicle, he said. “That’s why we bring different multiple vehicles.”

When Obama travels, the US Secret Service flies many presidential vehicles around the country and across the world, using US Air Force transport planes that fly ahead of Air Force One.

According to Israel’s Channel 10, the US Secret Service is flying another vehicle in from Jordan.

Obama uses various bulletproof vehicles. One of them known as “The Beast” built by GM is a heavily remodelled Cadillac. The specifications of the car are kept secret, but there have been reports it has its own oxygen supply, carries hi-tech communications scrambling equipment and has special reinforced tyres and wheels.

In this graphic from The Daily Mail, it appears the vehicle indeed runs on diesel.

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the-beast-daily-mail
“The Beast” (Image: The Daily Mail)

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This is not the first time that Obama’s entourage had car trouble abroad. In 2011, a presidential limousine, which was a backup car and (not “The Beast”) got stuck on a bump as it left the US embassy in Ireland.

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Is the Real Doomsday Near?


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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MiddleEast-map-iran-iraq-israel

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Now that we have forgotten the uneventful December 21, 2012, can we be sure we are safe?

Today when we turn on the Television or radio, or read the newspapers, we see and hear only about Israel and Iran.

If Israel strikes Iranian nuclear sites, or Iran bombs, Israel, then what would happen? Would it not trigger the real doomsday for all of us living now on this Earth?

Iran sees Israel as its arch enemy, and it also considers Saudi Arabia as an enemy since it supplies its oil to the U.S. If Israel strikes Iran then the latter would retaliate by bombing Saudi oil fields.

I came across this video titled “The Day The World Ended” released by FutureMoneyTrends.com, a top trends research newsletter. This video simulates what could happen if Israel or Iran pulls the trigger.

In this simulation, the oil prices spike from $30 to $120 per barrel when the USA receives word that Israel has bombed Iran, and after an hour, the oil price soars up to $305, and by 9:30 AM, it rises to $450 per barrel forcing a systemic collapse of the world economy. Gold and silver become unavailable. Riots, civil unrest, force the governments to take drastic actions as a prelude to World War III.

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To watch Part 2 of this simulation video visit: http://FutureMoneyTrends.com/TheEnd

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Which Countries Voted for Palestine …


Palestine vote

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The UN general assembly has just voted overwhelmingly to recognize Palestine as a state. An astounding 138 nations chose to support the path of peace and justice.

Just weeks ago, the vote was expected to be much closer, with Israel and the US lobbying hard to deny Palestine key European support. But in the face of major public pressure and vigorous campaigning by the Avaaz community, countries such as France, Spain, Belgium and Sweden decided to vote yes to statehood for Palestine. In the end, just nine countries ended up on the wrong side of history: Israel, the US, Canada, the Czech Republic, Panama, Palau, Nauru, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

Celebrate this historic moment, share this map with everyone.

[Update: This map has been corrected to show New Zealand also voted in favor, rather than abstaining.]

Source: AVAAZ.ORG

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The Story of the Molten Calf


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

 

The Adoration of the Golden Calf by Nicolas Poussin, 1633-4
The Adoration of the Golden Calf by Nicolas Poussin, 1633-4

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The Torah, comprising the first five books of the Jewish Bible, severely condemns the worship of graven images. However, the Israelites collectively committed a grave sin while wandering through the desert. When Moses, who went over to the Sinai mountain to meet God, did not return at the appointed time, they demanded of Aaron, the brother of Moses, to make them a god to lead them in the desert.

The Molten Calf – Exodus 32:1-6

When the people saw that Moses was delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for that man Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.”

Aaron replied, “Take off the golden earrings that your wives, your sons, and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.”

So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He received their offering, and fashioning it with a tool, made a molten calf.

Then they cried out, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”

On seeing this, Aaron built an altar in front of the calf and proclaimed, “Tomorrow is a feast of the LORD.”

Early the next day the people sacrificed burnt offerings and brought communion sacrifices. Then they sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.

According to the Aggadah

Aggadah or Haggadah (Heb. הַגָּדָה, אַגָּדָה; “narrative”) is one of the two primary components of the classical rabbinic literature of Judaism. Citing the Aggadah, some rabbis claim that the demand for the idol was due to the forty thousand mixed multitudes, which joined the Israelites at the time of the Exodus.

  • A crowd of mixed ancestry also went up with them, with livestock in great abundance, both flocks and herds. (Exodus 12:38)

Two Egyptian magicians, Jannes and Mambres, were among the crowd. They aided in the making of the molten calf (Midrash Yelammedenu, Ki Tissa, Ex. xxxii.)

The crowd said that it was the sixth hour of the fortieth day since Moses had left, the hour which he had previously set for his return. They claimed that since he had not yet appeared he would never come. The people had included the day of the ascent of Moses in their calculation, whereas he had excluded it (Rashi, Shab. 89a).

Satan added fuel to the state of affairs by showing the people a vision of Moses’ bier. This convinced them that he died. So, they demanded Aaron to make a god for them (Shab. 89a; Tanh. B., Ex. 112–3).

God was also blamed since He enslaved them in Egypt where they were exposed to the most idolatrous of ancient civilizations; and giving them an abundance of gold and silver when they left Egypt.

Hur, the son of Miriam and Caleb, tried to dissuade the people from committing the sin of idolatry. Even so, they killed him. Aaron feared that he would share the same fate. Since he wanted peace to prevail, he conceded to their demand. To gain time, he asked them to bring the gold ornaments of their wives. He knew their wives would not part with their ornaments. The men thereupon gave their own jewelry.

Aaron then threw the collected gold into the fire, still hoping that Moses would return. Instantly, however, a calf appeared, alive and skipping. It was the result of a splinter thrown into the fire by the wicked Micah. This splinter contained the words עלהשור (aleh shor, “Come up, Ox”).

Moses had previously thrown this splinter into the Nile when he desired the coffin of Joseph, whom he compared to an ox, to rise above the surface so that he could transport his remains to Ereẓ Israel (Tanḥ. Ki Tissa, 19).

According to another version, the Egyptian magicians made the calf move as if it were alive (Song R. 1:9, no. 3).

Aaron then postponed the celebration to the next day to gain time. God knew that Aaron was motivated by good intentions. So, the high priesthood was not taken away from him. Still, he was severely punished by the subsequent death of two of his sons.

The tribe of Levi and its 12 leaders did not join the worship of the molten calf. The remaining Israelites were mercilessly punished. Whoever sacrificed and burned incense before the altar of the molten calf died by the sword; whoever embraced and kissed the calf died by the plague; and whoever rejoiced in his heart died of dropsy (Yoma 66b).”There is not a misfortune that Israel has suffered, which is not partly a retribution for the sin of the calf” (Sanh. 102a).

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The Temple in Jerusalem


Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple (Hebrew: בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ‎) was one of a series of structures which were historically located at the current site of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. These successive temples functioned as the centre of ancient Israelite and later Jewish worship. The Jews believed the Temple acted as the figurative “footstool” of God’s presence on earth. Also, it was believed that a Third Temple will be built in that location in the future.

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Building of the Temple of Jerusalem by Jean Fouquet, c.1470

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The Shekinah (dwelling place) of the god of Israel, was originally the portable shrine called the Ark of the Covenant, which was placed in the Tabernacle tent.

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The Tabernacle in the desert

When the Israelites wandered in the desert, they had a portable sanctuary – The Tabernacle (Hebrew: משכן‎, mishkan, “residence” or “dwelling place”) for the divine presence. Moses built it according to the specifications revealed to him by God (Yahweh) at Mount Sinai. The Tabernacle accompanied the Israelites on their wanderings in the wilderness, from the time of the Exodus from Egypt through the conquering of the Promised Land of Canaan. It housed the Ark of the Covenant which was eventually placed in the First Temple in Jerusalem.

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First Temple in Jerusalem

Solomon’s Temple, also known as the First Temple, was the main temple in ancient Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount (also known as Mount Zion), before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE.

King David, after unifying all Israel, brought the Ark of the Covenant to his new capital, Jerusalem, intending to build there a temple to house the Ark in a permanent place. David purchased a threshing-floor for the site of the Temple.

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The Oracle of Nathan – 2 Samuel 7:1-17

After the king [David] had taken up residence in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent!”

Nathan answered the king, “Whatever is in your heart, go and do, for the LORD is with you.”

But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan: Go and tell David my servant, Thus says the LORD: Is it you who would build me a house to dwell in?

I have never dwelt in a house from the day I brought Israel up from Egypt to this day, but I have been going about in a tent or a tabernacle.

As long as I have wandered about among the Israelites, did I ever say a word to any of the judges whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel: Why have you not built me a house of cedar?

Now then, speak thus to my servant David, Thus says the LORD of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the flock, to become ruler over my people Israel.

I was with you wherever you went, and I cut down all your enemies before you. And I will make your name like that of the greatest on earth.

I will assign a place for my people Israel and I will plant them in it to dwell there; they will never again be disturbed, nor shall the wicked ever again oppress them, as they did at the beginning, and from the day when I appointed judges over my people Israel. I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you: when your days have been completed and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, sprung from your loins, and I will establish his kingdom.

He it is who shall build a house for my name, and I will establish his royal throne forever.

I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. If he does wrong, I will reprove him with a human rod and with human punishments; but I will not withdraw my favor from him as I withdrew it from Saul who was before you.

Your house and your kingdom are firm forever before me; your throne shall be firmly established forever.

In accordance with all these words and this whole vision Nathan spoke to David.

But King David was a man of war and Yahweh told him that he would not be permitted to build a temple but promised that his son Solomon would build it.

After David’s death his son Solomon built the Temple. He followed the plan revealed to Moses by God, incorporating all the elements of the Tabernacle. However, the Book of Chronicles says:

  • All this he wrote down, by the hand of the LORD, to make him understand it—the working out of the whole design. (1 Chronicles 28:19)

that the LORD himself gave the plans for the temple to David and he wrote them down “under the hand of the LORD.”

1 Kings Chapters 6 to 8 describe the construction and dedication of the Temple under Solomon.

So, according to The Bible, the First Temple was built in c. 957 BCE by King Solomon who is believed to have reigned between c. 970 to c. 930 BCE. This solid Temple in Jerusalem superseded the portable Tabernacle as the dwelling-place of God among the Israelites. The Temple replaced the portable sanctuary constructed in the Sinai Desert under the auspices of Moses, as well as local sanctuaries and altars in the hills, as the sole place of Jewish sacrifice.

This temple was however sacked a few decades later by Sheshonk I, Pharaoh of Egypt.

From time to time, efforts were made at partial reconstruction of the Temple.

In 835 BCE Jehoash, King of Judah in the second year of his reign invested considerable sums of his wealth in reconstruction. But his efforts were thwarted c700 BCE by Sennacherib, King of Assyria in c700 BCE.

The First Temple was totally destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE when they sacked the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon.

There is no further mention of the Tabernacle after this destruction.

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The Second Temple

The Second Temple replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon. It stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE and was an important Jewish shrine.

In 538 BCE, when Cyrus the Great of Persia allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and re-establish Jerusalem, the rebuilding of the Temple became possible. We read in Ezra and 2 Chronicles as follows:

The Decree of Cyrus – Ezra 1:1-4

In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom, both by word of mouth and in writing:

“Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: ‘All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.

Those among you who belong to any part of his people, may their God be with them! Let them go up to Jerusalem in Judah to build the house of the LORD the God of Israel, that is, the God who is in Jerusalem.

Let all those who have survived, in whatever place they may have lived, be assisted by the people of that place with silver, gold, goods, and livestock, together with voluntary offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem.’”

Decree of Cyrus – 2 Chronicles 36:22-23

In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to realize the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD roused the spirit of Cyrus, King of Persia, to spread this proclamation throughout his kingdom, both by word of mouth and in writing:

“Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given to me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. All among you, therefore, who belong to his people, may their God be with them; let them go up.”

Construction of the second Temple started at the original site of Solomon’s Temple, which had remained devastated during the approximately 70 years of captivity.

Seven years later, Cyrus the Great, died and was succeeded by his son Cambyses II.

Now for a slight diversion.

According to the traditional view based on the majority of ancient sources, such as Darius the Great’s Behistun inscription, as well as Herodotus, Justin, and Ctesias, although there are minor differences between them, Bardiya is the Persian name of Smerdis who possibly died in 522 BCE, and was a son of Cyrus the Great and the younger full or half-brother of Cambyses II.

According to Ctesias, on his deathbed, Cyrus appointed Bardiya as satrap (or governor) of some of the far eastern provinces.

According to Darius the Great, Cambyses II, after becoming king of Persia but before setting out for Egypt, killed Bardiya and kept this secret.

However, according to Herodotus who gives two detailed stories, Bardiya went to Egypt with Cambyses and was there for some time but later Cambyses sent him back to Susa out of envy, because “Bardiya alone could draw the bow brought from the Ethiopian king.” Herodotus then states that “Cambyses had a dream in which he saw his brother sitting on the royal throne. As a result of this dream Cambyses sent his trusted counselor Prexaspes from Egypt to Susa with the order to kill Smerdis” (i.e. Bardiya).

Since Bardiya’s death was not known to the people, in the spring of 522 BCE a usurper pretended to be him and proclaimed himself king on a mountain near the Persian town of Paishiyauvada. Darius claimed that the real name of the usurper was Gaumata, a Magian priest from Media. According to Herodotus, the name of the Magian usurper was Oropastes, but according to Ctesias, it was Sphendadates.

In Daniel, we read,

  • It was the first year that Darius, son of Ahasuerus, of the race of the Medes, reigned over the kingdom of the Chaldeans; in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years the LORD had decreed to the prophet Jeremiah: Jerusalem was to lie in ruins for seventy years. (Daniel 9:1-2)

In the second year of Darius’ rule, the work of rebuilding the temple was resumed and carried forward to its completion.

It was ready for consecration in the spring of 516 BCE, more than twenty years after the return from captivity. The Temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius, amid great rejoicings on the part of all the people although it was evident that the Jews were no longer an independent people, but were subject to a foreign power.

According to the biblical account, some of the original artifacts were lost after the destruction of the First Temple. And so, the Second Temple lacked the following holy articles:

In the Second Temple, the Kodesh Hakodashim (Holy of Holies) was separated by curtains rather than a wall as in the First Temple. Still, as in theTabernacle, the Second Temple included:

The Second Temple also included many of the original vessels of gold that had been taken by the Babylonians but restored by Cyrus the Great. According to Jewish tradition, however, the Temple lacked the  Shekinah / Ruach HaKodesh, the dwelling or settling divine presence of God, present in the first.

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Herod’s Temple

Around 19 BC, Herod the Great renovated the Temple of Jerusalem, which became known as Herod’s Temple.

The temple area that John writes of (John 2:14) is not the sanctuary, the holy of holies, that contained the tabernacle, but the Court of the Gentiles – a part of the nineteen acres of space that surrounded the sanctuary. This space was divided into four courts, and as one walked toward the sanctuary from the east, he had to pass successively through the following courts: Court of the Gentiles; Court of the women; Court of Israel; and finally the Court of the priests.

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The Court of the Gentiles was primarily a bazaar, for the convenience of the people, with vendors selling sacrificial animals such oxen, sheep and doves, food, souvenirs, etc.  Oxen and doves were abundantly needed for sacrificial purposes.  Also, every family required a lamb to be eaten during the Passover, and so, the sheep were found  in large flocks in the market. Also, as Passover was nearing, the number of vendors had increased.

There were money changers, exchanging Roman coins such as the aureus (gold), the denarius (silver), the sestertius (brass), the dupondius (brass), and the as (copper) for money from other regions outside the Roman Empire since the Romans did not allow Jews to coin their own money.

Guides that provided tours of the premises were also available since Jewish males had the unique opportunity to be shown inside the temple itself.

And there were the omnipresent priests, wearing white linen robes and tubular hats, directing pilgrims and advising them what kinds of sacrifices were to be offered.

All the evangelists have written about the cleansing of the Temple because they all concur on the one reason for Jesus’ fury – for Jesus, there was far too much commercialization in the Temple of worship whereby the Pharisees amassed wealth.

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De profundis


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Credits: Photograph uploaded by alexj in http://art-profiles.com

In the Holy Bible, Psalms 130 is one of the Penitential psalms. This penitential lament, is the De profundis used in liturgical prayers for the faithful departed in Western liturgical tradition.

Psalms, Chapter 130

1 A song of ascents.
I
Out of the depths I call to you, LORD;

2 Lord, hear my cry!
   May your ears be attentive
   to my cry for mercy.

3 If you, LORD, keep account of sins,
   Lord, who can stand?

4 But with you is forgiveness
   and so you are revered.

II

5 I wait for the LORD,
   my soul waits
   and I hope for his word.

6 My soul looks for the Lord
   more than sentinels for daybreak.d
   More than sentinels for daybreak,

7 let Israel hope in the LORD,
   For with the LORD is mercy,
   with him is plenteous redemption,

8 And he will redeem Israel
   from all its sins.

In deep sorrow the psalmist cries to God. Deep anguish makes the psalmist feel “like those descending to the pit.” (Psalm 130:1–2)

He asks for mercy for the sins committed. The experience of God’s mercy leads one to a greater sense of God. (Psalm 130:3–4).

The psalmist’s trust ((Psalm 130:5–6) becomes a model for the people ((Psalm 130:7–8).

This is the Latin version of the Septuagint text:
[Canticum graduum]
De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine;

Domine, exaudi vocem meam.
Fiant aures tuæ intendentes
in vocem deprecationis meæ.

Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine,
Domine, quis sustinebit?

Quia apud te propitiatio est;
et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Domine.

Sustinuit anima mea in verbo ejus:
Speravit anima mea in Domino.
A custodia matutina usque ad noctem,

speret Israël in Domino.
Quia apud Dominum misericordia,
et copiosa apud eum redemptio.

Et ipse redimet Israël
ex omnibus iniquitatibus ejus.

I searched for a listenable video clip of De Profundis. A few days ago a video clip 5′ 5” long on YouTube titled “De Profundis (Septuagesima Sunday, Tract)” uploaded by SGeorgeAZ on Jul 13, 2011 impressed me.

This video in addition to the music has Gregorian chant notation from the Liber Usualis (1961), p. 499 and Latin lyrics sung by the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos.

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