Jerusalem In The Rebuilding
Ezra - Head Of The Babylonian Exiles
This series of articles on the general period of Ezra was inspired by a June 2010 article by a Karaite Jew, Allen Goldenthal/Kahana, a uniquely qualified writer, a man of Pharisaic upbringing who returned to his biblical roots, having strong family connections to the Aaronic bloodline in unbroken male succession.
There is controversy to this day concerning whether Ezra laid claim to the title of High Priest. The text suggests he could not have been such, certainly not at this time, as he would have been in defiance of Torah. Yet it will be shown that this may be construed prophetically and the exact opposite may be true based solely on this verse (Ezra9:3(4), 5(6), Matt.26:65a/Mark14:63a).
Ezra played his cards and enforced his marriage ban for Israelites and foreign women but there is a problem here with the literal reading of the translated text. Here the people are accused of acting treacherously, but it is those who were of the exiles (Ezra10:6). Here it is apparent that there is a great separation of time and outlook between Ezra's group and the original forty-nine thousand who departed after “King Koresh” (Ezra2:64-65). The original group, the builders and their supporters, were said to be under the guidance of two prophets (Ezra5:1, 6:14), yet they were accused of violating Torah! If they were doing evil then surely the entire community should have acted to prevent this happening at the time. This was a community who had sacrificed all they had for the glory of God (Neh.5). Other Israelites survived the Babylonian conquest without having been deported, and they had been dispersed throughout the land, yet they seem to be relegated to third class status at face value.
Reading between the lines, Ezra was determined to bring the entire people under his theological sway and to divide those who were less desirable to him (Ezra10:7-13). Those who were strongest, the princes (possibly those who had accompanied him from Babylon), who raised the charges (Ezra9:1(2)-2(3)), would receive confiscated properties from those who valued the integrity of their families. The timing was on Winter when it was weighing more heavily upon the people to assemble in short order, and no herald went beyond Judea. The entire assembly is supposed to have acknowledged their obligation to obey Ezra in the matter. Clearly they were those who valued their livelihoods and social ties above family. It was an ugly position to be in. Here Ezra changed the law according to his own edict and it became a Pharisaic law (halakah) enduring to this very day. A woman came to be the determinant factor in deciding whether a child was Jewish or otherwise. Professor Michael Corinaldi cites the Karaite viewpoint according to Torah thus: (15) And all the congregation they assembled in [the] first, unto the second month, and they declared lineage upon their families to their father's houses... (16) And coming forth, a son of an Israelite(fem.) woman, son of a higher Egyptian man, amidst the bani Yishrael, son of an Israelite(fem.) woman and a higher Israelite man, and they strove in camp. (17) And the son of an Israelite(fem.) woman cursed and denigrated The Name, and they brought him to Moses...
(18) In contrast the Talmud ruled by matrilineal descent. The origin of Talmudic matrilineal descent in contrast to the Tanaic Period Midrash Halakah is a subject of ongoing research.
Before the Torah stipulations were intended to be expanded, as is exemplified in the foremost command specifically derived by Ezra, as will be outlined imminently in translation, preparations for The Prince-Messiah to be reigning in Jerusalem, such as the closure of the Eastern Gate, were essential (Ezek.44:1-5). Neither King Koresh, nor Sheshbatsar (who is Daniel-see Rashi on Dan.1:8, the prince in exile, or possibly one of his students) resided in Jerusalem, so these potential candidates were not any of those anointed literally. Zerubbabel ben Shehaltiel never reigned as monarch in Jerusalem. It may be that Nehemiah was unable to provide any sound case for a fully independent state (Neh.6:6), and Ezra's expectations were focused on a rebuilt Temple in which a sequence of Davidic Messiahs would eventually reign over a restored Israel, and the surrounding nations. Indeed יהוה-God addressed Zerubbabel ben Shehaltiel through Haggai the prophet concerning the recently reconstructed Temple and its lack of glory (Hag.2:3) and there was a promise of great glory through three prophets. The very glory of יהוה and His Messiah (Ezek.44:2-4, Hag.2:9, Mal.3:1), a promise unto those who were partaking in the revival of Torah in Israel. The words were spoken according to the Second Temple era, and the allotment of time was measured out, having been given a firm foundation.
Ezra brought Torah readings to the people en masse. Rashi associates the next verse with the altered calendar of Orthodox Judaism's Rosh Hashanah; Head of The Year (Neh.8:2). This appears to be the precedent for the fundamental Pharisaic alteration of the Mosaic calendar.
Although Rashi and some Christian commentators claim that the words were being indiscriminately translated to the people, the language of the text does not support this assertion (Neh.8:7-9). The implication is that some tradition and/or other interpretation was being expounded to support their theology and usurpation of power.
The people now understood Torah according to how they were indoctrinated (Isa.28:9), but it was limited by the absence of passages omitted in the recitation to conceal the law in regard to intermarriage (Neh.8:12). Certain passages must have been read (Gen.24:3-4, 26:34-35, 27:46-28:1, 6, Num.25:1-15) and others avoided (Num.12:1), alternatively the latter passage was given a Rabbinical spin. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned regarding biblical editing when comparing the extent of one perspective on intermarriage over another (Ezra9:12(13), 14(15)-15(16)).
It is evident that for Ezra to pull off what was essentially a bloodless coup, in a tidy manner (Ezra10:7-8, Neh.13:25), he had to do something spectacular other than simply presenting the wealth and assuming the authority of a foreign king (Ezra 8:13-16, 21-22, 9:9). Presenting a scroll of Torah, reading by right according to his accepted lineage, and restoring the Mosaic Festivals was just so, and it was, conveniently, also necessary to restore the nation as part of a religious revival movement (Neh.9:32-10:39(40), 12:44-47). Yet there appears to be some missing terminology in the scroll describing the former events. The seeds of dissent sown by Ezra and his supporters were to reverberate throughout the history of the Second Temple period. There was never a period of extended stability and various forms of foreign superpowers, as prophesied by Daniel (Dan.2:31-45), dominated or at least continually troubled Israel. The Dead Sea sect were of Tsadokim origins, being those who had departed Jerusalem under Pharisaic persecution. The Phrushim fought the Tsadokim factions, even to the point of civil war during the Hasmonean warrior-priest's reign (circa 96BC), King Jonathan Alexander (Jannaeus), siding for a time with the Seleucid forces. They even fought each other treacherously some decades later in the disputes between the factions of Shammai and Hillel.
Concerning the Festival, what seems to be more likely is to read the text as though the bani Yishrael had not observed Sukkot consistently since the time of Joshua (Neh.8:17). It is of interest that those who observe the Festival are only those who returned according to the literal text, not necessarily those who remained, and the term, all the people, is not applied again in this scroll (cf. Ezra9:10-15).
(15) Num.1:18a, (16) Lev.24:10, (17) Lev.24:11a, (18) PURPORT -
Jewishness determined according to matrilineal descent (Michael Corinaldi, The Problem of the Patrilineal or Matrilineal Descent and Inter-Marriage According to the Samaritan and Rabbinic Halakah, Jerusalem, Israel.
Ezra & Nehemiah - Biblical Fraud Exposed
The Contradictions To Torah Are Cast Aside
(19) And great is the desolation in [the] midst of the land. (20) And in her, moreover, one-tenth yet turn-back. And there comes to be a purging, as a terebinth stump, and as an oak which is felled. In them her stump is a holy seed.
(21) And a widow, and she-who-has-been-cast-aside, they shall not take unto them to wed, rather that it be virgins from a seed of Israel's house, and the widow who has-come-to-be widowed from a Priest they shall take.
The repression concerning the foreign women follows an unflinching course (Neh.10:30(31)). The command not to give away sons or daughters to the former peoples of the land is applied to seven specific nations within Israel according to Moses (Deut.7:1-3). Given the promises to David's progeny despite his relationship with Bethsheba, who was married to a Hittite, the observance of this law must have been deemed as having run its course by this time (cf. Deut.23:3(4), Ezra9:11(12), Surah17:104), many generations having passed, Uriah being deemed a citizen, and the Way of Moses having surpassed the former religions. Yet here it is being forcibly applied, centuries later, to those who were not necessarily under the renewed form of the statute given in expectation of the Messiah to come and his Aaronic lineage, being applied specifically to those who qualified as Priests (Isa.6:13, Ezek.44:22), but not the Levites (cf. Neh.13:29-30). Apparently Nehemiah blatantly distorts the meaning of the Torah further on, claiming that a male Israelite cannot marry an Ammonitess or Moabitess (Deut.23:3(4), Neh.13:1-3).
(22) And the Priests and the Levites, they are purifying themselves, and purifying the people, and the gates, and the wall (Ezra2:63, Mark7:4, John18:28b-c, cf. 1Macc.4:34-36). Here at last we find the most definitive proof that Ezra, in conjunction with his strongest supporters, who were essentially running things, was some kind of Pharush, employing Pharisaic traditions not derived from Torah. Perhaps he is even a type of anti-Messiah, a false shepherd. Rashi's purport for the succeeding verse (Neh.12:31) tells us that the means to cleansing the city and the people was via the two great processions which may have given songs (JPS-1985) and/or sacrifice to God (Rashi et al), but this is beginning to read as the worship of the High Places! Indeed Rashi makes reference to the Talmudic writings which emphasise the essence of Pharisaism, the consumption of food in a ritually purified state (Bab. Talmud, Seder Nezikin, Tract. Shevuoth14a, 15). It does appear distinctly possible that when some of the Jews heard of Isaiah, being the first, speaking of being amongst a people of unclean lips (Isa.6:5, James3:9-10) then they assumed, incorrectly, that they were being instructed to eat and drink in a state of ritual purity. Yet even Rashi's best reference does not support what occurred, for it only reads ...Jerusalem is sanctified by that which must be eaten within it...and if it goes without it becomes invalid (Tract. Shevuoth15a), but this is considered to be in respect to the two loaves of offering within the House. The rabbis suggest that Nehemiah's two large thanks offerings were two large, leavened, loaves. Rashi reads: And when they went out of the city in order to encompass it, they went to the right side. Tosaf suggests, probably in as speculative a manner as Rashi, that they marched within the perimeter of the wall but I say, the whole thing is farcical. There is nothing from Moses which makes any connection to this line of thought and deed with respect to cleansing city walls and gates!
Surely it must be pointed out that the text is very vague in terms of identifying the source of this scroll. Yet the commentators seem unanimous that this portion is inferring the writer to be Nehemia (Neh.13:4-9). This is written in the first person therefore, but much of the previous text was in the third person. Some parts appear to be lists, and the same is true for Ezra. Around 454, or otherwise 433BC, Nehemiah was recalled to his master in Babylon, King Artaxerxes I of Persia, he being married to various queens of Babylon. When he is gone there is Eliashib, High Priest, (Neh.3:1, 13:28), in charge of at least one sector of the Temple, who consents to his relative, Tobiah, taking his rightful place in the sanctum (F. Josephus, Antiq., 17.13.1). He is apparently a foe to Nehemiah (Neh.6:1, 14-19). Let it be noted that Nehemiah was deemed a eunuch (see Rashi-Neh.2:6) in the extended Septuagint, and this is most likely the reason for his self-deprecating statement (Neh.6:11). On his return Nehemiah has Tobiah's chosen gear and food ejected, simultaneously declaring the chamber unclean. This is a clear case of political rivalry overshadowing Priestly affairs.
For reasons that are not preserved in the extant record there has been a serious lapse in the previous Temple order (Neh.13:10-13). It would seem that Ezra is now deceased, for these details are not ascribed to him in any way, but to one called Tsadok. Nehemiah orders tithes to be given again and the Levites and singers are recalled from the countryside. New appointments are made.
Nehemiah institutes a second wave of religious reform, restoring observance of the day of rest (Shabbat) to all Jerusalem (Neh.13:15-22).
Nehemiah took action in the form of capital punishment against his innocent Jewish brethren, according to the 1985 JPS, and Rashi's reading, it was lashes. He also tore out clumps of their hair with the help of his thugs instead of promoting learning Hebrew for the children who spoke a Palestinian dialect (Neh.13:23-27).
The grandson of Eliashib was son-in-law to Sanballet, the Moabite (Neh.6:1-14). It appears that Sanballet had tried many years ago to trick him into violating the sanctity of the House and potentially ending up dead through Divine retribution. If Ezra did not mess with Ezekiel's scroll then there was an extension of Torah preventing the line of Aaronide Priests from marrying non-Israelites. This being legitimised by the regulation of the available scripture, Nehemiah had him ejected from the city, he became an outcast, never to return (Neh.13:28).
(19) Isa.6:12b, (20) Isa.6:13, (21) Ezek.44:22, (22) Neh.12:30.
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