All posts for the month March, 2018

Judas Maccabeus – Judas the Galilean

Published March 24, 2018 by amaic


“In 19 CE [AD], the time must have seemed right for action.  Judas’ popularity soared, and the call against Rome was a strong rallying cry.  God would deliver the Jews from the hands of the invaders just as He had done in the days of Judas Maccabee”. 

 Daniel T. Unterbrink



Mark Twain is alleged to have remarked: “History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes”. That sure appears to be the case with Judas the Maccabee, and, close to two centuries later, Judas the Galilean.


Here I take some illustrative sections from Daniel T. Unterbrink’s “Judas the Galilean”:


…. In the year 4 BCE [BC], two learned teachers of the law gazed out upon their students, an army of young men thirsting for righteousness.  Every day this throng of Israel’s future sat and listened to the wizened Matthias and his younger partner, Judas, preach the Kingdom of Heaven.  The relationship between the two wise men can be argued as well as their ages, but the pattern of the Maccabees suggests that Matthias was the older father figure (or literal father) and Judas, the son.  How they came to the Temple, to this point in the history of Israel can be deduced from what preceded them.



In 25 BCE …. A movement was forming that was based upon the distant exploits of Mattathias and his son Judas Maccabee (170 BCE).  In this new Jewish sect. a leader named Matthias taught about the true meaning of God’s promises, freedom from pagan influences and the equality of all Jews.  Whether or not Matthias began in Jerusalem or among the cities of Galilee, we will never know.  But his teachings did bring him to Jerusalem by 4 BCE, along with his son, Judas.

….  According to the Slavonic Josephus, Matthias and Judas said this to their followers:

“Come, men of Judaea, now is the time for men to behave like men, to show what reverence we have for the Law of Moses.  Let not our race be shamed, let us not bring disgrace on our Law-giver.  Let us take as the model for [our] exploits Eleazar first and the seven Maccabee brothers and the mother who made men [of them].  For, when Antiochus had conquered and subjugated our land and was ruling over us, he was defeated by these seven youths and [their] old teacher and an old woman.  Let us also be worthy of them, let us not prove weaker than a woman.  But even if we are to be tortured for our zeal for God, a greater wreath has been plaited for us.  And if they kill us, our souls as it leaves [this] dark abode will return to [our] forefathers, where Abraham and his offspring [dwell].”  (After War 1.650) (Emphasis mine)

The passage emphasizes that the current freedom movement should be modeled upon the Maccabee uprising.  Note that there is also an emphasis on family: a father, a mother and seven brothers.  It is quite probable that Matthias was the father and Judas the son.  However, it also implies that there were other brothers involved.


It is clear that Judas the Galilean had sons because Josephus mentioned the crucifixion of two sons, James and Simon, in Ant. 20.102 and the stoning of another son, Menahem, in War 2.433-434.  It is quite probable that Judas also had brothers who helped carry on the movement when he himself was killed.

Included among the prisoners were the authors of the sedition, Matthias and Judas.

A trial of sorts was arranged, but the sentence had already been passed.


The sentence of death was the expected outcome.  Herod had Matthias and his followers burnt alive.  Josephus stated in the War that both rabbis were killed, but in Antiquities mentioned only the death of Matthias.  What most likely occurred was the execution of the movement’s leader, Matthias, and a number of his followers.  Those remaining, including Judas, were imprisoned in order to dangle their fate in the face of the seditious.  In short, Judas was an insurance policy against any other rebellious acts against Herod.  A second powerful motive in imprisoning Judas involved Herod’s desire for true mourning at his own death.  Josephus stated that Herod planned to kill a great number of people at the time of his death so that there would be mourning throughout Israel.  Judas and his followers may have been part of this plan.  Either way, it was just a matter of time until Judas would meet the same fate as Matthias.

Judas and his fellow prisoners were spared an eventual death for only one reason: Herod the Great had died (4 BCE), and his insane orders of mass murder were not obeyed.  In terms of stability, the death of this tyrannical yet able administrator rocked the country.  But it also presented a great opportunity for those who had been persecuted and oppressed for so many years.  Herod’s death coincided with the Passover feast, a time when pilgrims flocked to Jerusalem to celebrate Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.  This left Herod’s son, Archelaus, with a dilemma: how could he gain firm control of the government without offending the masses?

The crowds sensed that Archelaus was not dealing from strength and that he might be swayed by their desires.  They asked if he would ease their annual taxes and remove all taxes related to sales and purchases.  These were very serious requests, for a king must have revenues to rule effectively.  Even so, Archelaus assented to their will, pretending to agree to these requests.  And a segment of the people, those who mourned the death of Matthias, asked one other favor: release those who had been imprisoned by Herod.  And once again, Archelaus agreed.  Judas was now a free man.  (Some argue that Archelaus did not release prisoners as he promised.  That may be true for his tax promises, for these promises could only be realized sometime in the future.  But the release of prisoners could be made now.  Josephus also mentioned that Archelaus replaced the High Priest upon the requests of the crowd.  This plea, too, could be accomplished at the present and was therefore acted upon.)

Archelaus soon realized that any concession to the followers of Matthias and Judas was fruitless, for these fanatics could never be won over by friendly intentions.  In this, he was correct, for this new movement had no intention of meekly following the Herodian dynasty.  In fact, they wished to upset this structure in order to fully implement their theocracy.  Predictably, tensions arose and the military slaughter began.  Judas escaped with a group of disciples and headed to Galilee, to the city of Sepphoris.

Judas had witnessed the execution of Matthias and many of their students and had just fled from a massacre in Jerusalem.  His thoughts must have been upon the security of the small group he now led.  In a bold move, he attacked the armory with its large cache of weapons.  His followers were now well armed and could defend themselves from all except the army of Archelaus.  His reliance upon these weapons of man diminished as he witnessed the awesome power of Rome.  Consistent with guerrilla warfare, Judas and his bandit followers blended into the countryside as the Roman army marched upon Sepphoris, burning it to the ground, enslaving all its inhabitants.  Surely, this sight hardened Judas against Rome and the Herodian sycophants.

But safety depended upon guile and resourcefulness.  The message of fealty to God and refusing to be a slave to human masters (Rome) was transmitted to eager ears throughout Galilee on a small-scale basis.  Judas did not draw too much attention to himself by setting up base in any city.  Instead, he moved throughout the countryside, always prepared for a quick getaway.


Jeremiah and John the Baptist

Published March 14, 2018 by amaic
Image result for jeremiah and john baptist

“Is this all blind coincidence? Of course not! This is God’s plan from the beginning! St. John the Baptist, the last and greatest of the prophets, the new Elijah, the new Jeremiah,

is completing Jeremiah’s final work so the Kingdom of God can begin”.

 Rev Eric Culler



Reverend Culler has here drawn some compelling parallels between the ancient prophet Jeremiah (including also Elijah) and the great St. John the Baptist who came centuries later:…/Advent_C_2_-_Baptist.338114608.doc


The New Jeremiah


The greatest danger to Christians today is a type of familiarity with our faith that breeds contempt. We know about the miracles that God worked in the past, we know about the prophecies of Christ fulfilled in Scripture, and we know about the workings of the Holy Spirit in us and in the Church today. But sometimes we say “so what?” We grow bored with the drama of salvation history, and we do not see how God affects our lives. Boredom and contempt have led Christians to give up their faith and embrace strange new religions that keep them entertained with lies.


If we would only read what the Scriptures really say! If we would only study what has really happened in history! We would see the ingenious and awe-inspiring plan of God carried out to the smallest detail in the life of every human being on the planet, including each of us. We would be ecstatic with His plan to transform us into living reflections of his glory and power like the very angels in heaven by sanctifying us with his own Holy Spirit through our sacramental life in the Church.


And we would appreciate the earth-shattering appearance of St. John the Baptist today.


What began almost 900 years earlier with Elijah finishes with John, who is the last and greatest of the prophets. Elijah appeared suddenly from nowhere, wearing rough clothing and rebuking King Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel. John the Baptist also appears suddenly in the desert, wearing rough clothing and rebuking King Herod and his wicked wife Herodias.


But if we look deeper into God’s plan, we will be even more amazed by the similarities between St. John the Baptist and another prophet. Over 600 years before John lived Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a priest of the old covenant, born of a priestly family, though it seems he never served in the Temple. John was also a priest, born of his priestly father Zechariah, though he too never served in the Temple. At the start of the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, God tells him “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I sanctified you and made you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). John was sanctified by Christ in the womb before he was born, which caused him to leap for joy in his mother Elizabeth’s womb, and he became Christ’s own prophet to prepare the way. Both Jeremiah and John never married because of the difficult days ahead, and indeed, both of them were imprisoned by wicked kings and executed by their own people: John by beheading, and Jeremiah by being stoned to death. John is not only a new Elijah come to convert Israel; he is a new Jeremiah.


Mackey’s comment: While Jeremiah’s trials are sometimes described as a “martyrdom”, there is no scriptural evidence that he was “stoned to death”.

The Christian legend (pseudo-Epiphanius, “De Vitis Prophetarum”; Basset, “Apocryphen Ethiopiens,” i. 25-29), according to which Jeremiah was stoned by his compatriots in Egypt because he reproached them with their evil deeds, became known to the Jews through Ibn Yaḥya (“Shalshelet ha-Ḳabbalah,” ed. princeps, p. 99b); this account of Jeremiah’s martyrdom, however, may have come originally from Jewish sources.


Reverend Culler continues:


And if we look deeper still, we see that John shares more than outward characteristics with Jeremiah. John also completes the final work of Jeremiah. Jeremiah lived at the end of a kingdom. In his last days, Babylon was threatening to destroy the Kingdom of Judah and everything holy to the Chosen people. So Jeremiah commanded the people to hide three sacred items to preserve their bond with God before they fled into Egypt. He commanded them to take the holy fire from the altar in the Temple and to keep it burning secretly, to keep the Law of God hidden within their hearts by refusing to worship idols, and to hide the Arc of the Covenant, the seat of God’s living presence among them (see 2 Maccabees 2:1-7).


600 years later, St. John the Baptist is living at the beginning of a Kingdom—the Kingdom of God which he is heralding. The time has come to reveal those three sacred items hidden by Jeremiah—to complete his work—so that God can recreate a holy people. The holy fire from the altar consumed all offerings, giving them forever to God. John reveals to the people that the Christ will baptize them with the Holy Spirit and fire. The Holy Spirit will consume the faithful, body and soul, like offerings, giving them forever to God through baptism.

The Law of God taught the people how they ought to live. By his teaching, John reveals to the crowds how they ought to live, and prepares them for the Lawgiver himself, Jesus Christ. Finally, the Arc of the Covenant was literally a seat or throne for God in the Temple. The Holy of Holies was the room that held the Arc, which was God’s living presence among the Chosen people. John reveals to the people the real, living presence of God among them as one of them: the true man and true God, Jesus Christ himself.


Is this all blind coincidence? Of course not! This is God’s plan from the beginning! St. John the Baptist, the last and greatest of the prophets, the new Elijah, the new Jeremiah, is completing Jeremiah’s final work so the Kingdom of God can begin.


As Advent continues, we will hear about miracles and prophesies. We will hear about the ingenious and awe-inspiring plan of God which involves each one of us here. Let the Scriptures inspire you! Let human history inspire you! See God’s plan with fresh eyes, and be filled with joy that he has chosen to transform you into a reflection of His own glory—into a son or daughter of God! ….


Comparisons between Hezekiah and Josiah texts

Published March 5, 2018 by amaic
Image result for hezekiah and josiah


Damien F. Mackey


“There was no one like him [Hezekiah] among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.”  2 Kings 18:5 (NIV?) “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him …”  2 Kings 23:25 (NIV?)

Previously in this series, I wrote:


“The reigns of the goodly, reforming kings Hezekiah and Josiah are so alike – with quite an amazing collection of same-named officials – that I had actually once begun a series (but then scrapped it) in which I had attempted an identification of Hezekiah with Josiah.

But, given this new blueprint, there must have been a serious overlap between the two”.

Since writing this I have stumbled (again) on The Domain of Man’s Chart 37, which shows up some striking comparisons between Hezekiah and Josiah (though this rather extreme site may need double checking in some cases):



Comparison of Hezekiah and Josiah Narratives


Hezekiah Narrative
2 Chron. 29-32
2 Kings 18-20
Book of Isaiah
Josiah Narrative
2 Chron. 34-35
2 Kings 22-23
Book of Jeremiah
Hezekiah, “son” of Ahaz
mother:  Abijah daughter of Zechariah
Josiah, “son” of Amon
mother:  Jedidah daughter of Adaiah
25 years at ascension, reigned 29 years 8 years at ascension, reigned 31 years
“There was no one like him [Hezekiah] among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.”  2 Kings 18:5 (NIV?) “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him …”  2 Kings 23:25 (NIV?)
Jerusalem to be spared destruction in his lifetime
2 Kings 19:1; 20:2-19; 2 Chron. 32:20,26
Jerusalem to be spared destruction in his lifetime
(2 Kings 22:14-20; 2 Chron. 34:22-28)
Revival of Laws of Moses
“according to what was written”
2 Chron. 30:5,16, 18; 31:2-7,15
Discovery of the Book of the Law (of Moses)
2 Kings 22:8-10; 2 Chron. 34:14-15
Passover Celebration Passover Celebration
“For since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.”
2 Chron. 30:26
“Not since the days of the Judges (Samuel) who led Israel, nor throughout the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah, had any such Passover been observed.”  2 Kings 23:22
Year not given
14th day of the second month
Year 18
14th day of the first month
17,000 sheep and goats, 1,000 bulls
(not including the sacrifices of the first seven days)  (1 Chron. 30:24)
30,000 sheep and goats, 3,000 cattle
Participating tribes:  Judah and Benjamin,
Manasseh, Ephraim,
Asher, Zebulun & Issachar
(2 Chron. 31:1)
Participating tribes: Judah and Benjamin,
Manasseh, Ephraim,
Simeon & Naphtali
(2 Chron. 34:9,32)
Temporary priests consecrated for service Employed “lay people” 2 Chron. 35:5
“. smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles”  2 Kings 18:4; 2 Chron. 31:1 “. smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles”  2 Kings 23:14
High places and altars torn down High places and altars torn down
“. broke into pieces the bronze snake” “. burned the chariots dedicated to the sun”
Name Comparisons
Hezekiah Narrative Josiah Narrative
Sennacherib oppresses Jerusalem Assyrian oppression omitted
Name of High Priest omitted Hilkiah, “High Priest”
Eliakim son of Hilkiah, palace administrator Eliakim “son” (?) of Josiah (future Jehoiakim)
Zechariah (descendant of Asaph)
Azariah, the priest (from family of Zadok)
(variant of Azariah)
Shaban/Shebna/Shebniah, scribe Shaphan, scribe
(son of Azaliah son of Meshullam)
Hashabiah/Hashabniah  (2 Chron. 35:9)
Isaiah son of Amoz, prophet
Joshua, “city governor”
Hoshaiah (Jer. 42:1; 43:2)
Asaiah, “king’s attendant”
Ma’aseiah, “ruler of the city”
Jerimoth Jeremiah son of Hilkiah
Conaniah and his brother Shemei, supervisors
(2 Chron. 31:12)
Conaniah/Cononiah, along with his brothers Shemaiah and Nethanel (2 Chron. 35:9)
Hananiah the prophet, son of Azzur/Azur (Azariah)  (Jer. 28)
Nahath Nathan-el/Nathan-e-el/El-Nathan/Nathan-Melech
2 Kings 23:11
Mattaniah, Mahath Mattaniah (future Zedekiah)
Jehiel Jehiel, “administrator of God’s temple”
Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun
2 Chron. 29:13-14
Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun
(2 Chron. 35:15)
Shallum/Meshillemoth (reign of Ahaz) Meshullam (the Kohathite)
Shellemiah son of Cushi (Jer. 36:14)
No mention of a prophetess

[Mackey: What about Judith?]

Huldah, wife of Shallam/Meshullam,
prophetess (spokeswoman of the “Lord”)
Shemaiah Shemaiah
Jozabad Jozabad
Jeiel Jeiel
Joah son of Zimmah (“wicked”)
Joah son of Asaph, recorder
Joah son of “wicked” Jo-Ahaz (King Ahaz)/
Obed, prophet (reign of Ahaz), Abde-el, Tabeel Obadiah