THE HEART OF MARY
LIFE AND TIMES OF THE HOLY FAMILY
CHAPTER TWO :
“I AM THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA”
“Behold, I come quickly. Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this Book”. And I, John, heard and saw things. When I heard them and saw them, I fell down on my knees to prostrate myself at the feet of the angel who showed them to me.
But he said to me, “Do not do this, for I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book; worship God”. And he said unto me, “Seal not the speeches of the prophecy of this Book, for the time is at hand. Let him that is unjust continue in his unrighteousness, let him that is unjust continue in his unrighteousness, let him that is righteous continue in his righteousness, and let him that is holy sanctify himself more. Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give to every man according to his works. I AM THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA, THE FIRST AND THE LAST, THE BEGINNING AND THE END. Blessed are those who wash their robes to have access to the tree of life and to enter the gates that give access to the City. Away with dogs, sorcerers, fornicators, murderers, idolaters and all those who love and practice lies.
I, Jesus, sent an angel to testify these things to you concerning the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright and morning star. And let the Spirit and the Bride say, Come; and let him who hears say, Come; and let him who is thirsty come; and let him who desires take the water of life freely...Amen.”
The Saga of the Restorers
In those days (1st century B.C.) God raised up for his people a man to his liking. Of the lineage of Aaron, a priest, that man, Abijah by name, was the only citizen in all Jerusalem capable of standing before the king, cut him off, take away his speech, and throw to his face the forty truths that his actions and his way of governing was deserving.
The Hasmonean - Alexander Jannaeus was his real name - looked at this Abijah with eyes lost in the horizon, his thoughts fixed on one of the pages of the Book from which that man of God seemed to have escaped, possibly from the book of Nehemiah. One of those pages of kings and prophets that the children of Israel loved so much and their parents narrated to them with epic accents in their throats, the voice in the echo of distant drums playing warlike exploits, when the heroes of long ago, Samson and Delilah, the thirty brave men of King David and his harp of goat's hair strings, Elijah the seer flying on the backs of the four horses of the Apocalypse, one of fire, one of ice, one of earth and the last of water, all four riding together through the wind of the centuries after the Messiah who was to be baptized in the same waters of the Jordan that split in two to make way for a bald prophet. The holocaust of lost nations under ashes of apocalypses written on the wall, the wars of the end of the world of dead poets, the endless stories of the dreams of eternal Rome, visions of druids on a Babylon in full construction of a stairway to heaven, Hercules given birth by a she-wolf with poisonous milk, ruins of cities of nameless and homelandless Philistines in search of a paradise lost, the utopia of Egyptian harlots suckling Hebrews older than Methuselah, the hero of Ur the Dark proclaiming his divinity on the altar of the barbarians of the North, the South to the East of Eden, the West to the right of the river of life, when death had a price, at the beginning of time, at the dawn of the centuries. Once upon a time a cupbearer conquered an empire. Once upon a time there was a universal flood, an ark on the waters that covered the world. The passion of being, the fact of being, the ever-present, omnipresent, omniscient actuality of yesterday, more wars at the end of the world, more iron heroes, new masters of the universe, the future is tomorrow, the truth is held by the chosen one, the chosen one is the victor, to me those of Yahweh, I have the corner of your mantle strung on the point of my sword, king, lord. It takes more than a crown to be king, more than three arms to be the strongest, the past was yesterday, today is tomorrow, angels never drink or eat but sometimes they mate with human females and give birth to evil fury, the seed of the devil, when heroes were demigods and demigods were two-headed monsters imposing their law of terror. And it continues to bring names, and times to mind.
Ah, those myths and legends of the people who came out of the sea, scattered through biblical Palestine and revolutionized the history of the world with their earthquake of tribes on a sacred mission!
What child in Jerusalem did not know those stories of the times of who knows when!
“Goliath is coming”, the grandparents used to tell the children when they were bad and wanted to scare them.
The Hasmonean King of Jerusalem mocked those children’s stories and laughed to death in the face of those ghosts of the past. He, Alexander, the king, was real; his prophet Abijah was real. What good had the dream of the messianic kingdom been to anyone? Where had the desire to make a messianic kingdom lead them time and again?
“And they still want to try one more time! Madmen”, thought the Hasmonean to himself.
The men of the king of Jerusalem, all dogs of war, all soldiers of fortune from deep, dark Palestine in the service of the Abomination of Desolation, all looked at the last Hebrew prophet with eyes pierced with rage. Even if Hasmoneus was amused by his personal prophet of misfortunes, the truth is that his face changed every time Abijah launched his oracles point-blank at him. However, in his role of king for a prophet the Hasmonean stopped the rage of his men and left his ears be rinsed with those so apocalyptic phrases about his fate.
“Listen to the oracle of Yahweh about your lineage, son of Mattathias”, with that voice so much his own, Abijah announced to him.
“The God whom you profane on the throne and in his Temple will uproot your seed from the face of the earth over which you reign. The LORD has spoken and will not repent; he will not abolish his sentence: your children will be devoured by a foreign beast”.
To the hired assassins of the Hasmonean cursed the grace that the king of Jerusalem found in such announcements of deaths, desolations, ruins, devastations, destructions, hells. But how could he, Alexander Jannaeus, a legitimate descendant of the Maccabees, of pure race, allow himself to be spoken to in such a way by a priest? those dogs of war asked each other.
Alexander looked at them with an astonished face: was it worth wasting his time trying to explain to them why he would let his ears be washed with such lurid sentences, so biblical, so typically testamentary, so clearly sacred? One moment he thought about it, but the next he told himself, no. They would never understand.
Even if he stopped for days on end to explain to them what it was all about, the brains of his mercenaries would never be able to rise higher than the distance his swords were from the ground.
Was the world to waste time waiting for the donkeys to fly in the wake of the chariot of the sun, or for the fish to fly through the snowy mountains in search of the last yeti, or for the birds to swim the waters behind the ship of an unborn Columbus? How could the Hasmonean get it into the heads of his dogs of fortune that Abijah was his prophet!
Abijah was the prophet who gave all the divine meaning to his crown. Without his particular, personal, his own prophet, his crown would never transcend, his dignity of king would never be sublimated in the eyes of the future. Abijah would be the chariot of glory on which his name would transcend the centuries and carry his memory beyond the millennia. It might be that his name would be forgotten, but that of Abijah would live forever in the memory of the people.
“Do you understand, now, does it enter your heads? My name and his name will be associated in eternity. But if I kill him, I will kill my memory. Does this prospect tell you anything about the nature of my relationship with the creator of your most terrible nightmares?” the Hasmonean tried his best to put some intelligence into the stone skulls of his dogs of war.
All for nothing.
But it was the truth. Alexander should congratulate himself because God had been given his own prophet. All the kings of Judah had their jester, their harem, and, of course, their prophet. For better or for worse is another matter; the important thing was to have one.
Otherwise, from the point of view of politics, this Abijah was harmless. Yes, his prophet was as harmless as a dragonfly in the royal pond, as harmless as a spider in the garden of his harem swaying in the dust of the curtains, as helpless as a sparrow abandoned with a broken wing in the open air of a boreal winter. One slip of the tongue, one false step, and in the blink of an eye “the last prophet” would be turned into the trace that the breath of dawn left somewhere on the other side of the horizon. Or did his mercenary dogs believe that he, Alexander Jannaeus, the son of the sons of the Maccabees, would allow this Abijah to cross the line between announcing misfortunes and provoking them? Were they right in the head?
These were his people. The Hasmonean did not love them, nor did he feel any nationalistic passion for his people, but they were his people, and he knew how their minds worked. If Abijah did not cross the line it was not because he was afraid of death; it was because it was not in his nature to provoke what he announced, he limited himself to give the Oracle of Yahweh. His God said and he spoke. He could keep silent and not expose himself to a sword cutting his neck with a slash, but that would be against his nature.
Moreover, with the same passion that Abijah served his head on a silver platter without fear of any kind that one day the Hasmonean would get tired of the dance, with the same passion his prophet, not the prophet of that king, or of king so and so, his prophet, his own, that Abijah lashed out without cutting a hair of his tongue against Sadducees and Pharisees together for adding fuel to the fire of hatred that consumed them all and dragged them to civil war.
“This Abijah is unique” he said. And the Hasmonean went on his way laughing his head off.
The Slaughter of the Six Thousand
Curiously enough, the people thought the same as their king about the sacred mission of the last living prophet who remained to them.
The people rushed to meet the priest Abijah, filled the Temple during his turn. Just as if they were a swarm of children abandoned to their fate in the most violent core of a jungle of passions fed by a hatred that is never satisfied, and suddenly they saw a real man rise among them, the people of Jerusalem ran to meet Abijah in search of understanding, comprehension and hope.
“Weep not, ye children of Jerusalem, for the souls that are driven from their homes by violence. In Abraham's bosom they rest waiting for the day of Judgment. Weep rather for those who remain because their destiny is eternal fire” Abijah said to them.
The man of God and the People were made for each other. It was the truth. And he, the Hasmonean, was made to cut off heads and then hear the sentence of his prophet over his own:
“The Lord, the Oracle of Yahweh, has spoken, and he will not repent. The eagle beholds the serpent from on high, and the vulture glides, waiting for the spoil. Who is he the one who labors for another’s house? In due time it will be seen that there is God on this earth when the serpent flees from the eagle”.
And this too was true. A truth as big as the island of Crete, as the Great Sea, as the infinite sky full of stars, as the great pyramid of the Nile. And if not, let them ask the mountain that the Hasmonean raised with the heads that he tore from their necks that day to forget.
There were not two or three, not one hundred or two hundred. It was “six thousand” heads that the grandson of the Maccabees sacrificed to his passion for absolute power. Six thousand souls in a single day, what horror, what madness, what humiliation!
It happened in Jerusalem the Holy, that Jerusalem to whose walls directed their prayers all the Jews of the world. It did not happen in the city of a barbarian king, nor did it happen in the midst of the battlefield during the finishing of the fallen. Nor were the heads of a strange people who ran downhill Via Dolorosa up to finish at the foot of Golgotha. It was the heads of his neighbors, the heads of the people who greeted him every night, the heads of the people who used to say good morning to him. What a disaster, what a shame, what a tragedy!
It happened during the celebration of a religious feast. One of the many that the Temple calendar had consecrated to the memory of the unforgettable events lived by the children of Israel from Moses to the going day. It happened that the Hasmonean inherited from his fathers the high priesthood. As High Pontiff, he went to celebrate the opening rite that broke the monotony of the year. That detail of believing himself equal to Caesar, general and maximum pontiff in a whole, bothered the nationalists more than anything else in the world. When was a snake ever seen dreaming of being an eagle?
In his role as Pope of the Jews, to the Temple went the Hasmonean to declare open the festivities that used to break the monotony of the year. He sat on his high priestly throne, all involved in his role as His Holiness on Earth. He was about to give his blessing urbe et orbis when, suddenly, without warning, moved by an inexplicable change of mood, the People began to throw him in the face rotten tomatoes, fetid worms, potatoes churned in wormy mud, lemons from when the dinosaurs inhabited holy ground. A scandal! His enemies watched the show from the walls. With their eyes they asked themselves everything: What will the Hasmonean do? Will he get inside and let the ball run? Or will he come out, enraged with the anger of a demigod taken out of his seventh dream, the triumphalist?
By the beard of Moses, if the Hasmonean had let them go on, surely the Jerusalemites would have turned the party into a contest, and they would have gambled their souls for being the first to throw the killing stone. No wonder, the Hasmonean drew his sword from under the armpit of the saints and gave the order to his dogs of war: “Kill’ em all. Let not one alive!”
What was seen then had never been seen before in the history of the Jews. Never before had an army of macabre demons been seen leaving the Temple, sword in hand, slaughtering without regard to age or sex.
If the Lord God had his throne in the Temple of Jerusalem, then at whose orders were those murderous monsters cutting down lives without looking at whom?
Was it not rather the Devil who had his throne in the Jerusalem of the Hasmoneans, inconsolable relatives of the dead would later ask themselves as they accompanied their dead to the Jewish Cemetery, Via Dolorosa below.
On that day of feast and joy the dogs of the Hasmonean scattered through the streets and, as they found heads on two legs, they slit their throats, pierced, mutilated, beheaded, cut them to pieces, for fun, for sport, for passion, for devotion to the Devil.
This one, the Devil, seated on his throne, the Devil contemplated that orgy of blood and terror, and seized by the anguish of one who knows that the earthly day has only 24 hours, he lamented how fast two dozen sixty minutes pass. If he had had at his disposal a dozen more, he would surely not have left a single Jew alive. The Devil’s will be clear, to kill them all; but his servant’s power to execute it did not go that far. So lord and servant had to settle for the figure of six thousand heads. Which was not so bad for a single day. After all, the meanest devil working on a piecework would not have exceeded that figure by much. Six thousand dead in one day is good enough, a god harvest for that matter.
Flavius Josephus, the official historian of the Jews, in his day accused by Christian historians of falsehood, aimed high in giving Six Thousand dead in one day. The question is, did Flavius Josephus reduce the number of victims to its minimum possible expression looking to soften in the eyes of the Romans the extent of the tragedy? Or, on the contrary, did he, moved by his policy of hatred towards the Hasmonean dynasty, exaggerate the number?
As everyone knows, among the Jews the popularity of the Hasmoneans fell very low in later times, to the point of being considered by the generations that succeeded them a cursed period, a black mark in the history of the chosen people. Surely Flavius Josephus was of the latter opinion and especially critical of the Hasmonean dynasts, especially with the government of Alexander I Jannaeus, he inflated the nature of their crimes with the aim of conveying to his countrymen his particular hatred. Or it could have been the opposite and deflated the account thinking of the visceral repulsion towards the Jews that his Roman readers would feel reading the story of that slaughter. Let us return, however, to the facts.
From the point of view of the Hasmonean it would have been nice if there had been no one left to tell the story. But since the dead do not speak, the fame of that day would not have found a place in the national memory, and tomorrow no one would have remembered his glorious deed.
Unfortunately for the wicked, the Devil praises his glory more than his infernal glory deserves; consequently, his servants always end up frustrated and trapped in the webs of a spider that, without being all-powerful, is strong enough to engulf them all in his maneuvers. The natural thing would be for a prince of Hell to sit and contemplate his work from the epicenter of the glory of the one who is beyond good and evil; fortunately, the Devil's horns twist downward, and naturally end up sticking the devil himself in the back. Ignorant of their fate, sooner or later their worshippers screw up, and of course, they stink like that.
In short, even if the will of the Devil was the total extermination of the Jews, man!, I say that some of them had to be left. And as it seems that the next day Jerusalem got tired of crying, I'm not lying when I say that some of them did remain.
Then, thinking it over with more clarity and time, the Hasmonean could not find the way out of the labyrinth in which his anger had gotten him. It all happened so fast, if only he had smelled the stew that was cooking behind him! In any case, he showed no sign of regret either. On the contrary. “You see, it's a wonder how long it takes a puppy of the human species to grow up and how little time it takes to bleed to death!” he said to himself.
The Hasmonean never tired of marveling. Later, during the mass burial of the unfortunate Jerusalemites who were caught in the nets of his insane madness, the Hasmonean kept shaking his head. Nobody knew if it was out of pity or because he was missing one or another dead person.
I believe that the Hasmonean was doing his killing with the mind of the scientist in the middle of experimenting with a new formula. “If I kill two hundred, what will happen? What if I subtract one and add thirty-something?” A monster! His love for research had no limit. Now he would fry a bunch of children made in Phariseoland, now he would devour a plate of virgins in their sauce. But without being carried away by passion, all very correct, very scrupulously, with the cold and steely objectivity of an Aristotle teaching Metaphysics in the open air.
Who said that men cannot become demons if we know that some became angels!
They called him the Hasmonean - his nickname for posterity - in memory of a namesake from hell, a devil from the court of the prince of darkness. Just like his evil namesake, Alexander Jannaeus felt for the throne a murderous love that devoured his entrails and transformed his blood into fire.
The Hasmonean had fire instead of blood in his veins. The fire in his eyes came out of his criminal thoughts. Whoever dared to look at the Hasmonean saw the Devil behind the balls of his eyes, dominating his brain and from his brain scheming all kinds of evil against Jerusalem, against the Jews, against the Gentiles, against the whole world. And the most tragic thing was that the Hasmonean did not believe in anything.
“If God does exist, how can the Devil live?” the supreme pontiff of the Hebrews confessed to his men. An atheist pope! That Caesar was supreme pontiff and a pagan, atheist and all the other paraphernalia, is admissible. But that the Pontiff of the Jews was more atheistic than Caesar, how do you swallow this ball?
The truth is that on that occasion the Hasmonean was almost on the verge of being massacred. At the end he thought better of it and said to himself “but what a fool I am, a little more and I really believe that I am the Holy Father”.
The truth, if the whole truth must be told, the truth is that the popular mood went rising at such a speed from the healthiest joy to the most absolute dementia that nothing could be done to stop it. So how to blame the Hasmonean for having fought for his life and defended himself by taking the sacred right of self-defense to the extreme?
And how to absolve him of having provoked with his crimes such a tremendous situation?
It is not easy to find the guilty party, the scapegoat to blame for that monstrous slaughter. What the Hasmonean was not going to do was to blame himself. He was not fool.
“Let the stones of the Wailing Wall tremble”, he said to himself. “That the raging blood sails Jerusalem down to the Garden of Olives, let it sail. That the wind carries in broken cheeks an elegy for Jerusalem that will tear the soul to Alexandria of the Nile, to Sardis, to Memphis, to Seleucia of the Tigris and even to Rome itself, let it carry it. What worries me is when life will grant me the grace to finish off the cowards who fled like rats. If they loved their loving so much, since they mourn them so much, why did they abandon them to slaughter?”, in this way the Hasmonean excused his crime.
The sicarii of the Hasmonean laughed openly. The Jews on the other hand did not know how to restrain their cry for vengeance. If before they could not bear the Hasmonean, who tore away their daughters without giving them money in exchange, and took them and sold them at his will, invoking Solomon traditions, all of them holy; if they could no longer bear him when he killed their children for merely trying to peel back their lips to protest his deaf crimes; after the Slaughter of the Six Thousand in one day hatred gave hand to madness and the declaration of war without quarter against the Hasmonean was heard from one end of the world to the other.
“The Hasmonean must die”, demanded Alexandria of the Nile.
“Death to the Hasmonean”, repeated Seleucia on the Tigris.
“The Hasmonean shall die”, swore Antioch of Syria.
“Amen” answered Jerusalem the Holy.
The Magi of the East
The Hatred to the Hasmonean was transmitted from synagogue to synagogue. One synagogue passed the slogan to the other, and in less time than the Hasmonean would have liked, the whole world of the Jews was aware of his exploits.
“Light indeed are the wings of Mercury, your highness”, came Alexander’s dogs of war with the news, throwing logs to the fire of his worries.
For the comfort of fools, tears of crocodiles, said the proverb.
The fact is that the hatred of the Jerusalemites against the Hasmonean flew with light wings from one corner of the Jewish world to the other. Of course, the news also reached the mother synagogue, the Great Synagogue of the East, the oldest synagogue in the roman world.
Although founded by the prophet Daniel in the Babylon of all times, the Babylon of legends, the classical Babylon of the ancients, with the change of times and the transformations of the world the Great Synagogue of the East changed its location. At the present time the Magi of Nebuchadnezzar had moved to the capital of an emperor who did not know the glory of the Chaldeans nor was he interested in the ghosts of Akkad, Ur, Lagash, Umma and other eternal cities of the Age of Heroes and Gods, when creatures from other worlds found human females beautiful and against divine prohibition crossed their blood with them, committing against the laws of Creation unforgettable sin, a crime punishable by banishment from the entire cosmos.
Alexander the Great, as you all know, overthrew that Babylon of Legends. His successor on the throne of Asia, Seleucus “the invincible”, must have thought it was not worth rebuilding its walls, and in its place an entirely new city was built. Following the fashion of the time he called it “Seleucia”; and “of the Tigris” for being on the banks of the river of the same name.
Forced by the new king of kings the inhabitants of Old Babylon changed their domicile and came to populate the New Babylon. Willingly or by force of decree is the dilemma. But knowing the structure of that world one can afford the luxury of believing that the change of domicile was made without any protests other than those who were denied permission to reside. In building Seleucia on the Tigris its founder removed from his City the Persian elements not purged by Alexander the Great. A measure that, as you will understand, benefited the Jewish families that in the shadow of the Persian aristocracy directed the trade between the Far East and the Empire. Protected by the Achaemenids and experts in all the functions of government, the Jews reached an important social position in the Persian Empire, to the point of arousing the envy of a sector of the aristocracy. The Bible tells us how the plot of this sector against the Jews gave birth to the first final solution, miraculously aborted by the ascension to the throne of Queen Esther. This trance overcome nature took its course. The descendants of the generation of Queen Esther devoted themselves to trade, and eventually became the true intermediaries between East and West.
When Alexander overthrew Babylon, the Jewish families were freed from subjection to the Achaemenid master. Alexander was succeeded in the government of Asia by his general Seleucus the Invincible. With the change of master the situation of the Jews improved. The only thing that Seleucus demanded of the residents of Seleucia on the Tigris was that they should devote themselves to business and not get involved in politics.
With the Persian competition eliminated, alone at the forefront of trade between East and West, at the height of the century in which we find ourselves, First Century before Christ’s Birth, the Hebrew families that had survived the transformations of the two centuries gone became enormously wealthy.
Let us not forget that the mines of King Solomon had their source in the control of trade between East and West. Towards this area the Freedmen of Cyrus directed their talents. All the more so since the reconstruction of Jerusalem and the peaceful purchase of the lost land would have cost them mountains of silver. As we all know, the tithe due by every Hebrew to the Temple was a sacred duty. When the Temple disappeared, the tithe ceased to have any meaning. But when it was rebuilt and came into operation once again, the need to bring the Universal Tithe to Jerusalem demanded the birth of a collection branch, the Synagogue.
The Great Synagogue of the East, directed by the Magi of Babylon, was created to be the central bank from where the tithe of all the dependent synagogues of the Persian Empire would be channeled to Jerusalem. The better off all the synagogues were, the more the river of gold, either in metal or in spices - gold, frankincense and myrrh - would flow into the Temple.
Universal peace was of Jewish interest insofar as it guaranteed communications between all parts of the empire. The years of the Greek conquest and the subsequent decades of civil war between Alexander's generals was an obstacle that stopped the influx of gold and spices that every year used to bring the Magi to Jerusalem. However, in what was tragic for the Temple, the closing of that golden supply was rewarded to Jerusalem when Alexandria of the Nile became an imperial city, from its Synagogue a new tributary of sacred capital was born. That is to say, whatever happened the Temple always won; and whatever political changes occurred the Magi from the East always arrived in the Holy City with their cargo of “gold, frankincense and myrrh”.
In the Maccabees days, in the Jewish community of Seleucia of the Tigris the news of the war of independence of the Maccabees raised a spontaneous prophetic clamor. From afar, the Great Synagogue of the East had been waiting for centuries for this sign. At last the Day announced by the angel to the prophet Daniel had arrived. Three centuries had been spent waiting for this moment, three centuries had been diluted on the other side of the ortho of time, three long, infinite centuries, waiting for this Hour of National Liberation. Daniel’s prophecy had hung over the horizon of the Synagogue of the Magi of the East like a mad sword about to go into battle.
“The vision of evenings and mornings is true” he said, “keep it in your heart for it is for a long time”.
“The ram with the two horns which thou sawest is the king of Greece, and the great horn between his eyes is his king: when he is broken, four horns shall come forth in his place. And the four horns shall be four kingdoms, but not as strong as that one”.
Was not the prophecy fulfilled when Alexander the Great horned the king of Persia and Media and perfected when at his death his generals divided the empire, resulting from the war of the Diadocus the formation of four kingdoms?
The prophecy of the conquest of the empire of the Persian by the Hellenist fulfilled, the enthusiasm that awoke among the young men of the New Babylon the Maccabean Uprising was as intense in passion as great was in the leaders of their Synagogue the desire to be young again, to take up the sword and follow to the victory the champion that God had raised them.
Also in Alexandria of the Nile, in Sardis, in Miletus, in Athens and in Regio Calabria, wherever a synagogue took root and prospered, wherever the young men enlisted their elders equipped them for glory.
Long live Israel! With this proclamation the brave men responded to the Maccabeess battle cry: “To me those of Yahweh”.
The final victory of the Maccabees, however prophetically announced to them from the beginning, did not cease to be celebrated by the Jews as if no one had ever advanced them. The Maccabean brothers fell, as everyone knows, but their deeds were written in the Book of books so that their names would remain forever in the memory of the centuries.
Sadducee Party versus Pharisee Syndicate
The exaltation for the conquered Independence raised the morale of the people. The cry of victory that the War of the Maccabees engendered in the Jewish world raised in the people: Hope.
What happened next was not expected by anyone. The satisfaction of living Freedom still sweetened their souls. It can be said that they were enjoying the intoxication of the sweet wine of freedom when, just around the corner, and starting down the straight line to the Messianic Kingdom the old ghost of Cain’s fratricide awoke from its lethargy.
Did it come suddenly, or maybe not? How to affirm it? How to deny it? Did they see it coming, did they not see it coming? What were they thinking when they looked back? Did they never learn? Wouldn’t those who propitiated from within the final solution of Antiochus IV Epiphanes break the peace again, sowing in the day of freedom the tares of violent passions for the control of the Temple Treasures?
Was it not the Sadducees, the priestly party, who pushed Antiochus IV Epiphanes to decree the final solution against Judaism? The Bible says yes. It gives names, details. High priests who kill their brothers, fathers who murder their children in the name of the Temple.
Also later, when the criminal hordes of Antiochus the Fourth came around to harvest heads of the jews, the Sadducees were the first to abandon the religion of their fathers. They chose life, deserted the God of their fathers, sacrificed to the Greek gods. Cowards, they surrendered to Death, bent their knees, sold themselves to the world, and what is worse, sold their own people.
It is therefore logical that when the Maccabean War broke out, the Pharisees, the syndicate of the doctors of the Law, and directors of the national and foreign synagogues, took the reins of the National Liberation Movement, surrounded the Maccabee with the glory of the general that the Lord had raised up for them, and launched themselves to victory with the confidence of the one who is proclaimed victor from the first day of his uprising.
C’est la vie! Once the history of the Maccabees was written, the history of envy began to be written. The old ghosts of the struggle between the Sadducee party and the Pharisee syndicate threatened another storm. The wind began to stir. The rain would not be long in coming.
Did the Aaronite clergy ask forgiveness for the sins committed during the Seleucid domination?
The Aaronite clergy did not ask for public forgiveness for their sins. The Sadducees did not bow their heads, they did not accept their faults. The Temple belonged to them by divine right.
Not God, they were the owners of the Treasures of the Temple. On the contrary, wouldn’t the Pharisees taking control of the Temple mean a rebellion of the servants against their masters?
Of course, it would. From the point of view of the Sadducean party any movement of the union of the doctors of the Law against their priest masters would be taken as a declaration of civil war.
Amazing thing is the human being! As soon had the Nation broken its chains their leaders began to sharpen their nails. How long would it take for the ultimatum to come?
Truth be told, the ultimatum did not take long to make its fratricidal proclamation heard. “Either power was returned to them”, the Sadducees threatened, “or they would crown a king in Jerusalem”.
There was hair-pulling, head-scratching, torn robes, showers of ashes, threats giving birth to ghosts, spears that broke on their own, battle-axes that were lost and found as if by chance. Sadducees and Pharisees were about to kill each other in the name of God!
Who would stop them, who would stop their feet?
The threat of civil war hung in the atmosphere of Jerusalem for the duration of John Hyrcanus I’s rule. God forbade the Jews to give themselves a king outside the House of David. The Sadducees not only thought of a son of the Maccabees as king but went from thought to deed.
The Pharisees hallucinated. When they discovered the masterful move to check the Law that the Sadducees were thinking of, the Pharisees cried out.
“Are we a nation without brains?” their wise men asked publicly. “Why do we fall again and again into the same trap? What is wrong with us? What is the nature of our condemnation for the sin of our father Adam? Every time the Lord gives us life we run to the fruit of the forbidden tree. Now Cain wants to challenge God to stop him from killing his brother Abel, and we are going to allow the shepherds to throw the flock into the ravine of their passions? If a son of the Maccabees reigns, we betray God. Brethren, we have been put beyond the dilemma. Rather die fighting for the truth than living on our knees worshipping the Prince of Darkness”.
Many words were exchanged. It was clear from a full moon night that civil war would break the peace at dawn. As much as Abel loved his brother Cain, Cain’s madness in challenging God forced Abel to defend himself.
Times had changed. The first Abel fell without exercising his right to self-defense because he was born naked, he lived naked in front of his parents and his brother. He never raised his hand to anyone. Peace was his problem. All Abel was peace, how could he imagine the existence of a dark heart fed with darkness right in his own brother’s chest! Abel’s innocence was his tragedy.
And his glory in the eyes of God.
Cain did not think with his head, he thought with his muscles. The man believed that the strength of the intelligence and the strength of the muscles exist subject to some mysterious law of correspondence. He who has the strongest arm is the wisest. The strongest is the king of the jungle. Consequently, the fate of the weak is to serve the strongest or perish.
Like Cain, the Sadducees fell into the trap of their personal ambitions. Civil war for power was bound to break out sooner or later. Perhaps sooner rather than later. It was the same thing. Nor could anyone predict the when, the exact date. The thing is that civil war was brewing in the air. The atmosphere was being charged. It was something you could smell in the air. One day, one day... But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The people were still celebrating the victory against the Seleucid Empire when suddenly word of the abominable crime committed by the son of John Hyrcanus I spread. Not content with the High Priesthood, which the nation accepted against their own conscience, but kept silent thinking of the circumstances, the son of John Hyrcanus I girded himself with the crown.
With his coronation the Hasmoneans added to a bad crime, against nature, another even worse. At the head of such a violation of the sacred laws were the Sadducees. The Sadducee Party -let us remember its origins- was a spontaneous creation of the priestly caste. It was created to defend their class interests. The interests of the priestly clans had to do with the control of the Temple Treasury. With the passage of time changes in the Hierarchy of the Temple were engendering powerful clans, whose relatives were joining by inertia to the Sanhedrin, a kind of Roman Senate in the style of the most Solomonic traditions. The struggle between these clans for control of the Temple’s Treasure was the machine that led the Jews to the situation of final solution adopted by Antiochus IV, final solution that so much innocent blood poured into the chalice of evil ambition of the fathers of these same Sadducees who now crowned against the Law of God the son of Hyrcanus I as king of Jerusalem.
Indirect creators of the final anti-Jewish solution, the Sadducees lost the reins of the Temple all the years that lasted the deeds of the Maccabees. Judas the Maccabee expelled them from the Temple. It is logical that in the eyes of the Sadducees, the Maccabees were dictators!
The Pharisee Syndicate - let us enter a little in the opposition - came from the bases in charge of the collection of the Tithe. The Syndicate was the apparatus used by the Party to keep flowing from all over the world to the Temple coffers that river of gold at the origin of the fratricidal struggle between the different priestly clans. Officials at the service of the Aaronite clergy, the Pharisees lived from the collection of the Tithe and the offerings for the sins committed by individuals.
When the Sadducees began to kill each other for the control of the Hen of the Golden Eggs, the Pharisees assumed the direction of the events and used the offerings of the people to equip the young volunteers who came running from all over the world to fight at the orders of the Maccabees. So by the end of the War of Independence the tables had turned and it was the Pharisee Syndicate that was in command of the situation.
The Sadducee Party, understandably, was not to suffer this change for long. The Sadducee Party's counter-offensive was neither elegant nor brilliant, but it was effective. All that had to be done it was to get into the skin of the Serpent and tempt the Hasmoneans with the forbidden fruit of David’s crown.
That internal battle between the Party and the Syndicate for control of the Temple raised in the Hebrew vanguardist world a spontaneous clamor of indignation and anger. It was then when the same resources in their day put to the service of the Independence jumped to the scene ready to dethrone the usurper.
Between Pharisees and Sadducees they were turning the nation into an abominable sight in the eyes of the Lord.
It was urgent to do something, it was urgent to declare war on the private interests of the Party and the Syndicate, to restore the national status according to the model described in the Scriptures.
It was urgent.
So many things were urgent.
And nothing was urgent.
According to the most eminent sages of the most elegant schools of Alexandria of the Nile, of Athens and of the New Babylon - Seleucia of the Tigris, all the Jews of the world had the holy obligation to take the reign of the Hasmoneans as a transitional government between Independence and the Davidic Monarchy.
No sir, to the fragility of the newly conquered Independence it did not suit to catch the flu of civil war. For the sake of strengthening the reconquered Liberty all synagogues had to stand together and support the king of Jerusalem. According to the progress of events, the necessary steps would be taken to move in the direction of the transfer of the crown from one house to the other.
“The wise men, always wise! They think they know everything, and in the end, they know nothing” the new generations began to answer themselves. The indignation of the new generations at the accepted situation took a long time to come to the fore. But it ended up doing so in the wake of the Six Thousand Massacre.
Simeon the Righteous
“The Presentation in the Temple”: When the days of purification according to the Law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of the Lord that every firstborn male should be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer in sacrifice, as prescribed in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Now there was in Jerusalem a man named Simeon, a righteous and devout man, who was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was in him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he came to the Temple, and when the parents came in with the child Jesus to fulfill what the Law prescribes about Him, Simeon took Him in his arms and, blessing God, said: Now, Lord, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to enlighten the nations and the glory of your people Israel.
Simeon - our next protagonist - was descended from one of those families who survived the sack of Jerusalem and managed to make progress by planting their vineyards in Babylon. This was a truth that Simeon could prove whenever and wherever he was called upon to do so.
Although it does not sound perfect or good to say so, because it brings to mind laws that invoke sad and nefarious events, Simeon was a full-blooded Hebrew. In front of the most expert and qualified authorities of his people when they wanted him to, and if it was a question of curious gentiles entering the subject in order to embarrass the lovers of pedigree, stale lineages and all that, the same thing; when they wanted him to and on the table that they put him, Simeon the Babylonian was ready to put the genealogical document of his parents, which was like a direct ship to the roots of the tree under whose branches Adam conquered Eve.
His fathers knew the Babylonian captivity, also the fall of the Chaldean empire; they greeted the coming of the Persian empire; they lived through the Greek revolution. Of course, the dominion of the Seleucids. With the passage of time the house of Simeon grew, became a powerful House among the Jews and rich before the Gentiles. Under normal conditions Simeon would inherit his father’s business, visit the Holy City sometime in his life, be happy among his own and strive all his life to be a good believer before men and God. Heir to one of the wealthiest bankers of Seleucia on the Tigris, everything was arranged so that when Simeon died he would be mourned by mourners without number. After his death, when the kingdom of Israel would be proclaimed by the son of David, his descendants would dig up his bones and bury them in the Holy Land.
This chronicle should have been the summary of the existence of Simeon the Babylonian. But the usurpation of the sons of the Maccabees erased from the book of his life all that perfect happiness. Such beautiful plans had not been made for him. To sit and wait to see how events would unfold before taking definitive action, in case the Lord was using the reign of the Hasmoneans as a transition period between the Maccabees and the Messianic kingdom, as advised by the leaders of the synagogue of Seleucia on the Tigris, was not for him. Simeon had already been listening to that nonsense for too long. And after the Slaughter of the Six Thousand, he did not even want to hear such words of prudence.
The overthrow of the Hasmonean was no longer something that could be postponed for tomorrow, or for the day after tomorrow, or even for the afternoon of that same day. The Hasmonean had to die, now. Every day Alexander was still alive was an offense. Every night he went to bed, the Nation was one step closer to its destruction! The Hasmonean had broken all the rules.
First: His family had been chosen and received the high priesthood overruling traditions and hereditary rites. A foreigner, not the full council of the saints had given him supreme authority.
The sentence against such usurpation of sacred functions was capital punishment.
Second: Against the traditions which forbade the high priest to wield the sword Hasmoneus had placed himself at the head of the armies.
The penalty against this crime was another capital punishment.
Third: Against the strongest canonical traditions Hasmoneus had not only trampled on the monogamy that regulated the life of the high priest, but also, like Solomon revived, he cultivated his own harem of girls.
The penalty against this crime was more capital punishment.
And Fourth: Against the divine law that forbade access to the throne of Jerusalem to any member not of the House of David, the Hasmonean, by doing so, was dragging the whole nation to suicide.
For all these reasons the Hasmonean had to die, no matter what the cost or the means to be employed.
These arguments of Simeon finally convinced the chiefs of the synagogue of Seleucia on Tigris of the urgent need that the orb had to put an end to the Hasmonean dynasty. With this sacred mission Simeon the Babylonian left the house of his fathers and came to Jerusalem.
Rich and bearer of the Tithe of the Synagogue of the Magi of the East, his policy of friendship with the Hasmonean crown, in need of financial support to expand the military reconquest of the kingdom, this spearhead which would win to Simeon the Babylonian the friendship of his enemy, it would win him at the same time the distrust of those among whom he should rise as the invisible hand pulling the pro-Davidic strings. A double game that would keep him walking on a rope in the abyss from the day of his arrival until the day of victory.
While putting all his power to preserve the balance of his head on his neck, Simeon the Babylonian had to keep his revolution within the strict limits of home affairs. The Egypt of the Ptolemies was lying in wait for the weakening of Jerusalem, and a Jewish civil war would serve as an opportunity to invade and plunder the country.
On the other side of the Tigris River were the Parthians. Always threatening, always eager to break the border and annex the lands west of the Euphrates.
Although agonizing to the north, the Hellenes awaited revenge and did not lose the fight to, taking advantage of a Roman civil war, reconquer the lost Palestine.
In short, the need to cleanse Jerusalem of the desolating abomination could not endanger the freedom conquered by the fathers of the Hasmoneans.