Journey Unto Shiloh: Part 11

For those that are struggling with the concept that I raised last issue that Ezra, pillar of Jewish society, was anything but a paragon of virtue, then I owe it to you to explain exactly what I saw when I was instructed to reread the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. If I can get you to see what I saw, then you will understand completely. I confess, that prior to that day in 2008 when I was commanded to do so, I was very much like you, believing everything I had been taught by my instructors, having no doubt that the Scribe acted strictly under the command of God and that he was a saviour of the nation in troubled times, committed to the restoration of our honour and integrity. I can only tell you how shocked and disappointed I was to find that my religious perspective regarding this instrumental time in our history was nothing more than fallacy, intentionally designed to override our true purpose and deliberately steer us in a direction completely at odds with what God intended for us as his holy people.


Harsh words, you’re probably thinking. Fighting words to some of you who are strict adherents to Rabbinical philosophies and blindly follow every false statement that drips from the mouths of the Chief Rabbis. Then, why should you be any different from the hundreds of millions of Catholics that sheepishly follow anything proclaimed by their Popes, no matter how fallible and mistaken those edicts might be? Even should the Pope want to hand in his resignation to the Almighty, literally saying, “Take this job and shove it!”, then that too is perfectly acceptable. Why? Because the Pope says so, even though it had only been done once before, approximately five hundred years ago, at a time when Popes bore surnames such as Medici and Borgia. Those surnames say it all! I ask only that you open your eyes, much as I had to do, and let me show you exactly what I saw during those fateful days of 2008. Let’s see if I can do exactly what I was instructed to do and bring those seeking the correct path back to the Lord. Those same instructions that He had given our forefathers that were deliberately altered by malefactors having an entirely different self-serving purpose.

Let me take you on that Journey Unto Shiloh, holding your hand while we walk this precarious path that will be fraught with condemnation by others that have no desire to change the status quo. But let us say defiantly to them, if we do not change, if we do not examine where we have gone astray, then we will be doomed to continue exactly in the manner of existence that has condemned us for over two millennia. We are the wheels within wheels that Ezekiel so aptly described, hamsters running in a never-ending circle on our exercise wheels, only to be ultimately punished by our intransigence and our refusal to admit that perhaps our current beliefs are ‘wrong!’ Our failure to admit and acknowledge that we have preferred the words of men over those that came directly from the Lord through his prophets, most notably, Moses will be our undoing. Moreover, this time the punishment will be even more severe because everything is being laid out before you. Like a feast at a banquet table it is all there to feed your mind and your soul and you are responsible for exactly how much or how little you choose to ingest. If you choose not to listen, if you choose not to see, then your refusal can no longer be laid in the lap of those that have led you astray but is your decision to bear no matter what the consequences. Now is the time if you have eyes, to listen, if you have ears to see, for your senses have betrayed you in the past and for the first time you must look beyond the obvious and recognize what has always been there before you. We can no longer stare in the mirror and see the reflection of what we want to see; we must view the image exactly as it appears.

BOOK OF EZRA

To examine the secrets concealed within the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, will mean an intensive examination of those passages which immediately imprinted as images upon my mind as God had intended. The revelations were numerous and that in turn means that it will take several articles to relay all that information to you. Of course, trying to put into words exactly what I saw would be an insurmountable task, so the best I will do is provide you with brief summaries of each. You will likely not see the images, hear the sounds, feel the anguish that I experienced during my education but that in no way should diminish the impact of what I have to say. My words should be sufficient in making you appreciate and understand just how far we have strayed from the Lord’s intent. If you need confirmation of what I will tell you, then close your eyes, open your heart and ask the Lord directly if what I am telling you is not true. Listen with all your heart and your soul and you will hear His answer. If I can get you to do that, then I am succeeding in fulfilling the task that has been assigned to me.

א וּבִשְׁנַת אַחַת, לְכוֹרֶשׁ מֶלֶךְ פָּרַס, לִכְלוֹת דְּבַר-יְהוָה, מִפִּי יִרְמְיָה: הֵעִיר יְהוָה, אֶת-רוּחַ כֹּרֶשׁ מֶלֶךְ-פָּרַס, וַיַּעֲבֶר-קוֹל בְּכָל-מַלְכוּתוֹ, וְגַם-בְּמִכְתָּב לֵאמֹר.

1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying

ב כֹּה אָמַר, כֹּרֶשׁ מֶלֶךְ פָּרַס--כֹּל מַמְלְכוֹת הָאָרֶץ, נָתַן לִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי הַשָּׁמָיִם; וְהוּא-פָקַד עָלַי לִבְנוֹת-לוֹ בַיִת, בִּירוּשָׁלִַם אֲשֶׁר בִּיהוּדָה.

2 'Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD, the God of heaven, given me; and He hath charged me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah


The first two lines of Ezra, tell us an amazing story that must not be glossed over. They have to be examined in depth because they contain so much potential meaning that in themselves they are a book. It says that Cyrus, King of Persia, in 558 BCE was visited by the word of the Lord and that he was instructed to give the Jews special status because they worshipped the Lord of Heaven, identical to his own beliefs in Merodach, god of heaven. Although Cyrus was a Pagan, it was Merodach that was chief of all his gods. Equating the one and only God with is god tells you the intensity of his convictions following Yahweh making his presence known. By granting the Jews the privilege of re-establishing the Temple in Jerusalem, as well as permitting all those that had been exiled by Nebuchadnezzar to return to Judea, he was officially recognizing Yahweh as being supreme and identical to Merodach. Automatically, in response to this edict, all the Jews within the Empire held a privileged and unique status in Persia, becoming a nation blessed above all others for their worship in the God of Heaven.


As a result, Cyrus was declaring by default to every other people within the Empire that monotheistic worship of Yahweh would not only be rewarded but was of equal recognition to those that still worshipped the pantheon of Babylonian gods. In reality, he was providing the royal seal of approval for any other citizen within the Empire wishing to follow Judaism to do so, since any edict by a Persian King was irrevocable and binding upon all kings and people to follow. This permanence of an edict is an important point to remember. It was the reason why Ahashverosh, (Xerxes to the Greek world and Achsayarsa to the Persian world) could not simply revoke the edict that he gave to Haman about slaughtering the Jews but had to provide a second edict that gave the Jews permission to arm themselves from the city armouries.


It is likely that many saw Cyrus fulfilling the prophecy of Genesis 49:10 as he would be recognized as the King that would take the sceptre from Judah, not being a Jew himself, but would rule the known world and deliver the Jews. Similarly, there would have been many that would be determined to destroy all that had been gained under Cyrus, in order to prove that he was not the fulfilment of the Shiloh prophecy and they were so intensely phobic of any suggestion that God would favour anyone with the mantle of leadership over the people, other than a Jew. It is this direct opposition of philosophies, which occurred amongst our own people as a result of Cyrus’s edict, that the books of Ezra and Nehemiah are precisely detailing. I was instructed and in turn you must examine how these identical tenets to modern day Rabbinic Judaism were sewn into a core of hardliners that ultimately destroyed all that Cyrus and the High Priest Jeshua had set in motion and intended to achieve. Every time God hands us an opportunity there are those amongst us whom destroy it, and what is even worse is that the majority of us follow along blindly after these false leaders without any resistance.


WOLVES IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING

This latter faction of Jews would have found it extremely unacceptable that God would have chosen a pagan, a heathen, an uncircumcised pig-eater, to carry out the prophecy of return as described by Jeremiah. It wreaked of subordination, of servitude and humiliation as far as they were concerned, totally the antithesis of their beliefs in a miraculous in-gathering where all of Israel’s enemies would be laid to waste and only the followers of the one true God would remain. Religious fundamentalism and fanaticism is not a creation of the modern Islamic world. It was well entrenched in the peoples of the region thousands of years ago and the Jews were just as guilty as others of practicing it. To them, no matter how glorious the civilization that Jedaiah, the High Priest, and Sheshbazzar, the Prince, would have created, it would never have been good enough, pure enough, ‘Jewish’ enough for their liking. To put it simply, it wasn’t ‘Kosher’, as far as they were concerned. In that regard, Ezra tells us how there were many that mixed their tears of remorse with those that shed tears of joy at the rededication of the Temple that Jeshua built. It wasn’t only the Temple they were crying about he insists but the entire resurrection of the Jewish state, which those like him with their xenophobia, and religious exclusivity and ‘racism’ could not accept and felt compelled to save..

Even today, in Meah Shearim and elsehwere, the Neteurei Karta represent that same hypocritical, racially obsessed, xenophobic faction that has forever cursed us and brought down the wrath of God upon us. They cannot accept the modern State of Israel because it had not been created in their own image. They actually claim that it is because a Jewish State or Kingdom is in direct contradiction to the Torah and they will do whatever possible to ensure its demise. A curse upon them, a curse upon Ezra and all that think in that manner. For the Lord has shown me how this people cut from this very same cloth have made us suffer horrible oppressions because they have ‘hijacked’ the Judaism of our forefathers and worked against the will of the Almighty at every turn. Their influence has contaminated the rest of us and so many of us still can’t see them for the cancer they have become, upon the body of our world.


RETURN OF THE ARISTOCRACY

As we see from sentence 8 of the first chapter, Cyrus not only approved the return from exile but financed it completely, restoring all that had been removed from the Temple by the Babylonians and providing much more from his own coffers. In doing so, he probably foresaw a return of stability to the province and a unification of the different tribal inhabitants into a unified, cooperative and cohesive theocracy. As God’s agent, Cyrus was doing exactly what the Lord had commanded the Children of Israel to do. To be a Light Unto the World and thusly, a unifying force to bring all the people into the true faith. His royal edict would eliminate any resistance and dissension from the inhabitants, and the return of a son of Jeshua to the High Priest would guarantee the compliance of the Jews that had been left behind. The books even give us evidence that the Tobiads were very satisfied by the edict of return and this wealthy, priestly family, with strong connections to the Sanballets of Samaria worked to ensure a smooth transition of the peoples from the north and south of Israel, forging a new nation under God. This is not to say that Cyrus was in any way a monotheist; nor did he want to see a separate, revived and totally independent nation but most certainly he was a pragmatist. As the new ruler of an expansive Empire that extended from the borders of Greece to India, he valued stability, and loyalty above all else. If being an instrument of the Lord meant that he could rest assured of those qualities in the West, then he would gladly serve as such.

ח וַיּוֹצִיאֵם, כּוֹרֶשׁ מֶלֶךְ פָּרַס, עַל-יַד, מִתְרְדָת הַגִּזְבָּר; וַיִּסְפְּרֵם, לְשֵׁשְׁבַּצַּר, הַנָּשִׂיא, לִיהוּדָה.

8 even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah


Let’s correct a misconception right away that has been created by those that have been responsible for teaching us the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah in our religious schools. It would be wrong to think that the Babylonians had removed the entire population of Judea to Mesopotamia after Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem. The records of Cyrus mention that it was only around 40,000 in number. These would have been only the high-borns of the land; the princes of the tribes, the priests, perhaps even some of the government bureaucrats such as scribes. This meant that there were still hundreds of thousands that remained behind in Judea and Samaria but religiously for forty years, they would have been leaderless. Government officials from Babylon and subsequently Persia would have filled the gaps to ensure the systems kept functioning, but during these intervening years, the people would have suffered a spiritual famine. They would not have become faithless or practisers of heathenism in that short time frame as Ezra tries to suggest, but merely lapsing in their beliefs and practices. Jedaiah, grandson of Jeshua was well aware of this and in Chapter 2, beginning with sentence 36, we see that he comes well prepared to deal with the situation. Armed with religious leaders, scrolls and gold aplenty, he was equipped to restore all as it had been prior to the exile.


לו הַכֹּהֲנִים: בְּנֵי יְדַעְיָה לְבֵית יֵשׁוּעַ, תְּשַׁע מֵאוֹת שִׁבְעִים וּשְׁלֹשָׁה. {ס}

36 The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy and three. {S}

לז בְּנֵי אִמֵּר, אֶלֶף חֲמִשִּׁים וּשְׁנָיִם. {ס}

37 The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two. {S}

לח בְּנֵי פַשְׁחוּר--אֶלֶף, מָאתַיִם אַרְבָּעִים וְשִׁבְעָה. {ס}

38 The children of Pashhur, a thousand two hundred forty and seven. {S}

לט בְּנֵי חָרִם, אֶלֶף וְשִׁבְעָה עָשָׂר. {ס}

39 The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen.


With over 4,000 priests, Jedaiah would fill the religious vacuum that existed througout the land, no just Jerusalem. The House of Immer, I should mention, were those priests that were related to the Prophet Jeremiah, Immer’s grandfather. Though a secondary line to that of the House of Jeshua, it was vitally important for the people to see the return of the prophet’s family, a sure sign that the prophecy had been fulfilled. This act of restoring the prophet’s house was a strategic move that would prove that the return was with God’s official blessing.


As I mentioned, it was not just Jerusalem that Jedaiah saw to the needs of. In his reestablishment of the religious systems, he redesigned the entire system of synagogues and prayer houses, ensuring that every major city and town had its place of worship under the direction of proper and trained individuals as can be seen in the following sentence 70 from Chapter 2. Contrary to the false concept provided by Ezra in his later chapters, which he used as the excuse for his necessary return to Judea in 458 BCE, there was no shortage of priests, Levites, or Nethinim. Where Ezra took exception, was to the fact that there was an entire system of religious structures and priesthood that practiced a different Judaism than the one he envisioned. His version of Judaism, which as a scribe he was possibly guilty of writing with his own personal insertions and aspirations, would not accommodate the religion which Jedaiah had returned to the people and which was now being faithfully practised. One that was steeped in the ancient ways when the people had been nomadic and therefore possibly less stringent in the practices. Now it must be pointed out that Jedaiah, the son of Jarib, the son of Jeshua, the son of Jehozadak, the son of Seraiah, whom served as High Priest in the Temple of Jerusalem, was most likely trained in the official ways of the religion and services that pre-existed the exile by those that had actually seen it before the Babylonians destroyed the Temple. Ezra, who would have been born around 520 BCE, by the time he reached an age for training would have had no one surviving that had seen the Temple services to instruct him. Therefore, his versions of how he thought things should be would have had no grounding in historical evidence. His concept of religious purity centred upon his own concepts and designs and were forged in Babylon, not in the land of Israel. Having been separated by 100 years from the Judaism that was restored, and the Judaism that he now practiced in Babylon, we can only imagine how different our practices are today, for those of us living in North America as compared to our great-grandparents back in the hillside villages of Eastern Europe. Like night and day, but to Ezra, there was only his version of Judaism which mattered.


ע וַיֵּשְׁבוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים וְהַלְוִיִּם וּמִן-הָעָם וְהַמְשֹׁרְרִים וְהַשּׁוֹעֲרִים, וְהַנְּתִינִים--בְּעָרֵיהֶם; וְכָל-יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּעָרֵיהֶם. {ס}

70 So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinim, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities. {S}


In Chapter 3 we learn that Jeshua, the High Priest had returned to the land along with his grandson, Jedaiah. Born around 600 BCE, it is likely that Jeshua would have witnessed the entire Temple service, been fully trained in the laws and rituals, but too young to have served as High Priest in the Temple before it was destroyed. We also learn that Zerubbabel, the nephew of Sheshbazzar and grandson of Jehoiacin, King of Judah, returned from exile. Perhaps his uncle was too old to make the journey, but we know that as head of government, a Prince of Judah, familiar with the conduct and governance of the land had returned to the people as well. Everything therefore would have been restored as it had been before the Babylonian conquest, of that there should be no doubt. For us to even surmise that it had not been restored faithfully is to play the game that Ezra wanted us to, to provide him with justification for the coup that he led a century later.


ב וַיָּקָם יֵשׁוּעַ בֶּן-יוֹצָדָק וְאֶחָיו הַכֹּהֲנִים, וּזְרֻבָּבֶל בֶּן-שְׁאַלְתִּיאֵל וְאֶחָיו, וַיִּבְנוּ, אֶת-מִזְבַּח אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל--לְהַעֲלוֹת עָלָיו, עֹלוֹת, כַּכָּתוּב, בְּתוֹרַת מֹשֶׁה אִישׁ-הָאֱלֹהִים.

2 Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt-offerings thereon, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God


Furthermore, from Chapter 6 below, we see they kept the covenant faithfully and restored the holidays and festivals as God had instructed. Though the temple had not been fully reconstructed by this time, at least it was functional, and the people gathered to worship as they had done before the conquest. All would appear to be in order, harmonious, and satisfactory in the eyes of the Lord. The Judaism of our ancestors, the religious beliefs as they were intended, inclusive of all people that dwelled in the land had been resurrected. There were no exclusions, there were no walls, and all was right in the eyes of the Lord.


כ כִּי הִטַּהֲרוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים וְהַלְוִיִּם, כְּאֶחָד--כֻּלָּם טְהוֹרִים; וַיִּשְׁחֲטוּ הַפֶּסַח לְכָל-בְּנֵי הַגּוֹלָה, וְלַאֲחֵיהֶם הַכֹּהֲנִים וְלָהֶם.

20 For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together; all of them were pure; and they killed the passover lamb for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves.


IN CONCLUSION

So how is it, that during the time interval from this first return from exile, until the time of Ezra, only a mere hundred years later, that everything turned to excrement according to the Scribe? How is it that just having successfully restored the Temple services, the belief in God as the one and only God in Heaven, the distribution of synagogues and houses of worship throughout the land, the establishment of Jewish law under a descendant of David, that Ezra could expound that it all vanished in such a short time? How is it that when the princes and chiefs that returned with Jedaiah, Jeshua and Zerubabbel, only to find themselves surrounded by the hundreds of thousands of Israelites that were never sent into exile, felt compelled to take wives from the non-Hebrew residents as the Scribe accuses them? The fact of the matter is that it didn’t happen as Ezra describes. They didn’t abandon their beliefs, their customs, their restored religious institutions, and most of all God, in that brief period of time. The only one to make that claim was Ezra, levelling his accusation in Chapter 9, claiming that only a remnant had remained righteous. But it only takes one man to destroy a lifetime of other’s achievements. As I’ll describe in the next Chapter of this series, Ezra had his reasons and they were far from righteous and he was certainly no pillar of integrity as we have been led to believe.

As I told you in Journey Unto Shiloh: Part 10, the Lord spoke to me in 2008 with the express purpose of opening my eyes and letting me see exactly where we as a people have failed Him. Praised be Yahweh that he provided me with the insight to see what has been transgressed for so long. He wanted me to be aware that every time He intervened in our history, attempting to set us back on the correct path, someone from our people has come along to steer us away in the other direction. You are free to choose whether you believe or don’t believe in the words I am relaying. That is the extent of your freewill but remember it comes with a heavy price when you choose incorrectly.


Regrettably, it has been our history as a people that rather than reject those individuals that steered us along paths that digressed from the Torah, we repeatedly chose to follow them blindly and in turn rejected what it is that God had delivered unto us. In 558 BCE He gave us back our land, our priesthood, our ruler through the hand of a Gentile King that He selected. The Lord does work in mysterious ways and until we understand that He makes no exclusions of anyone that is God-fearing and a believer in his Holiness, we will never completely be true to His teachings. It was a lesson that just because we are Jews, we cannot lay claim to being the sole possessors of His holy words. We cannot own God and keep Him all to ourselves. He is not something that we can place in a box and claim that it is now our turn to do as we please, the Talmud being evidence of that behaviour. To do so, was never our purpose nor His intention. That was never the reason that He chose us to carry the burden of the Torah. And it is a mighty burden! Don’t ever pretend or assume that it was not a burden! But every burden can be made lighter if we learn to share it with others. It was an undertaking that t we promised to assume in a covenant with the Almighty by the base of a mountain in the middle of a desert. No matter how difficult that mission might prove, it was never an option that we could withdraw into a shell and hide from the rest of the world, refusing to share ‘our precious’ with anyone else. So who are we, in fact who was Ezra, to demand that we must cast aside the outsider? In so doing, Ezra ripped our newly reborn nation apart, doomed us to two thousand years of hardship and suffering. It is enough! Ezra was guilty of the sins of false pride and overwhelming envy, as I will explain in the next chapter of this series. To hold him in esteem is to share in that guilt and our own personal sin.


May we learn from our past mistakes,


Avrom Aryeh Zuk Kahana


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Comments 2 comments

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Kahana 3 years ago Author

In his edict for the return of the Exiles, Cyrus admitted having heard from the Jewish God in heaven which he equated to Merodach, the Persian god of heaven. Ezra would have only reported what had already been written in the king's edict. For Cyrus to have made such an astounding statement, to grant Yahweh, equivalent status to the chief God of the Persian/babylonian pantheon is inconceivable when you look from the context of his time and place and only would have been done had he actually had one of the epiphanies I speak about. Does this automatically make Cyrus a prophet. No, because I believe the role of prophets runs far deeper than just relaying a message. Cyrus merely relayed a message but had the power and authorit to make it happen. His role was not one of trying to convince a headstrong and stubborn people the error of their ways, and revealing the truth of the Torah, which I see as the definition of God's prophets.


alanbedford 3 years ago

Wait a minute -- who said Cyrus received orders from God? Was it Cyrus himself? Or was it Ezra? If it was Cyrus, then why should we believe that he was a legitimate prophet? Lots of people claim to have received revelations from God, but that doesn't mean that we should believe them. If it was Ezra, then I would say that I would not believe him because I don't believe Ezra was a legitimate prophet, and I don't think you do either, Kahana.

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