About Me

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Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable.  

I am filled with joy.  It can't be helped.  

Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired.  Filled, just filled, with Joy. 

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Jerusalem - the Manichaean City

Jerusalem was the largest fortified city in the world during the Republic. However, a within a few decades after the Empire, and in the face of an intense Zionist revolt against the Empire, Rome razed the city. To punish the Zionists, the Roman Emperor decreed that the land would not be called Judah, but "Palestine".

The Roman general, Pompey, destroyed the walls of Jerusalem in 70 a.d., and sold many Jews into slavery, spreading them throughout the world. Josephus claims that hundreds of thousands of Jews were hunted down. There were driven out of Jerusalem. Unlike many other tribes on the losing side, however, the Jews maintained the integrity of their community after forced expulsion, because they had a written language and a "Biblical" reference. They set up trade routes and communities throughout Europe offered protection to them to encourage trade. The fact that the Jews did not spend time and treasure on arms and military training, but devoted themselves to trade and prosperity, was noticed by a Persian holy man. We will mention Mani again.

Prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, but after the first Zionist objection to the authoritarian rules of the Empire (another great story), Jesus Christ began preaching an extraordinary message of Peace. He urged the Zionists to "turn the other cheek". This was not exactly an unheard of technique for any oppressed people. Many wives faced with a bullying husband will survive by being passive and take revenge by raising sons who hate their father. Perhaps Jesus understood the analogy to Rome, which was at its peak of power. It is certain that Zionism was defeated by Roman arms, but by alienating a large literate network, Rome itself became ungovernable. Rome was never again able to franchise the Middle East.

After the destruction of the Walls of Jerusalem, the message of Jesus was taught by Greek-Ptolomaic missionaries traveling throughout the world. The teachings reached Persia. Approximately 200 a.d. a prophet began writing and preaching the Christian message to Zoroastrian congregations. This Prophet, Mani, wrote many books, and he was described as a man to be emulated. He synthesized Buddhist and Zoroastrian teachings with the message of Jesus Christ appended to Judaism. "Manichaeian" became the most dominant religion of its day over a broad region from India to Europe for hundreds of years.

One of the main seats of Manichaean learning was Jerusalem. Unlike the Christians of the day who had abandoned it for Rome and Constantinople, the Manichaeans focused on the importance of Jerusalem to their beliefs. They revered Jesus Christ as holy, and the land where he was born, lived and taught, as important. Unlike the Christians of the day, the Manichaeans continued to believe in the Message of the Messiah, including the response of "turning the other cheek" to persecution.

As the Christians became ascendant (literate Greeks living for the hereafter were hired by Roman lords for their trustworthiness in a time of increasing corruption), they militantly wiped out the Manichaeans in Europe and systematically destroyed their literature -- the many books written by Mani and his followers. The "Catholics" of Rome and the "Orthodox" of Byzantium began fighting each other, but found resistance. Killing Manichaeans, however, was less dangerous, so in the hunt for heretics, the other great Christian sects systematically wiped out the numerically superior Manichaeans, and filled their respective coffers with the rich booty of the Manichaean civilization. This increased the chaos under the disastrous reign of Emperor Phocas.

In Jerusalem (known as Aolia Capitolina by all but the Jews and their Manichaean allies of the day), the Christians built the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on the place of Crucifixion where a Manichaean temple had been built. One of the main reasons for the Council of Nicea in 326 a.d., held in Constantinople, was to rebut the Manichaean "heresy" which did not exclude Jews.

Then the Mohammedans joined the fray. In approximately 570 a.d. Mohammed was born in Mecca. He never set foot out of Arabia and never indicated his intention to start a new religion. Like other Arab chieftains, he was a warrior, law-maker and judge, but unlike all others, he united the Arab tribes, and separated them from the Jews and Manichaeans. According to the contemporary accounts, Mohammad the tribal raider regarded Jews and Christians/Manichaeans as prey, for which he thanked Allah.

After the death of Mohammad in 632 a.d., without any successor to rule the newly-unified Arabia, the unity fractured. Arab historians refer to this period of years as the "Wars of Apostacy". The Persians and Turks in their contest with Rome and each other, saw opportunity. The Turks made a deal with the Meccan warlords (Sunni), and the Iranians made a deal with the Medina warlords (Shia). This remains the unresolvable schism in Islam.

By 638 c.e. the Turkic/Arab Caliphate rapidly expanded and by force of arms supplemented by Jewish troops from Arabia, seized Jerusalem from the Manichaeans. Curiously, Persian forces then occupied Jerusalem, slaughtering its largely Manichaean-Christian occupants and burning the city. Islam became a unifying "religion", although as the conquering armies advanced, no government or unified civic structure was created. Even the Ottomans (Turks) never established unified control, for example, over Spain, Africa, or Persia, even though Islam became required of all the inhabitants.

Manichaean temples in the East were converted into mosques, just as they had been converted into Churches in the West. The Manichaeans became everyone's favorite "infidel" or "heretic", because their persecution created no risk of revenge. Manichaeans were builders of wonderful buildings and their many innovations were usurped. After Christianity dug into Europe, and after Islam dug into the East, the innovations and spirituality of life rapidly ceased. When the pillagers had nothing left to pillage, life went back to daily survival around decentralized "feudal" estates -- with little lords conducting ceaseless feuds in the name of the one Lord, "no God but God".

In 691 c.e., six decades after the death of Mohammad, the Islamic Umayyad Caliph completed the Dome of the Rock. The Manichaean-Christian Church already on the site was destroyed, down to the foundations. The beauty of this inspired structure has not been surpassed to this day. Of Byzantine craftsmanship, it stands asymetrically upon a platform built in Herodian times (1st century c.e.) as the second Jewish Temple, and may have been the site of the first Temple. The Dome surrounds a large native stone supported by two sets of colonnades and an octagonal exterior wall. The central colonnade made of four piers and twelve columns supports a rounded drum that transitions into the two-layered dome, which is more than 20m in diameter. Light enters from grilled windows pierced in the drum and glitters on golden be-jeweled mosaics within.

The purpose of this structure is disputed. It may or may not be a "mosque", but prior to its construction there was no mosque in Jerusalem that Mohammad could have visited on a "Night Journey" carried on the back of a very fast and winged' horse. No contemporary texts, even on the walls, mention such an event until several decades later. Manichaean texts referring idiosyncratically to Jesus are translated into Arabic and quoted on the interior walls.

What is not disputed is that the Dome transects all of monotheism's divisions, is one of the most beautiful structures in the world, and is forbidden for "infidels" to enter. Archeologists are not permitted to excavate any portion in any manner.

It is true that by approximately 900 a.d., the Manichaeans were exterminated. Thousands of libraries with millions of books had been destroyed. The great Manichaean civilization of Central Asia, running along the Silk Route, with some of the most beautiful cities in the world, was completely and systematically destroyed by Islam's armies. We find remnants of learning and arts and science in remote caves as unarguable proof of what was destroyed.

In Europe, some of the temples were saved by "converting" them into Jewish houses of worship. A Manichaean foundation is under many Churches and even Jewish temples in communities which had few Jews. The Jews, for their part, never persecuted the Manichaeans, but aided in hiding them. To some extent, Manichaean influences can be found in the Rabbinic traditions and in the astounding patience the Jews demonstrated in the face of pogroms in Eastern Europe. The divergent Ashkenazi/ Sephardic traditions can be explained by Manichaean influences. Many Turkic Manichaean believers who were not Semitic adopted "Jewish" traditions and became Jews to avoid the persecution by and between Christians. Interestingly, a Persian Jewish/Arab alliance (non-Islamic) captured Jerusalem in 614 c.e. (The Jews and Arabs occupied Arabia for 600 years celebrating the same holidays, prayer five times a day, and the same dietary laws. Most of the inhabitants were either Jews, or followers of Mani or other sect of "monotheists").

Perhaps the last "Manichaean influence", and one of the most remarkable, is the Crusade of 1094. "Out of the blue" from a Christian perspective, a de-centralized and feudal Europe suddenly lit up with the idea of re-capturing Jerusalem. Rome and Constantinople were the only cities deemed worthy of their attention for an entire millenium, but suddenly the liberation of Jerusalem was widely accepted as an important goal. It was the discovery of remaining Manichaean texts in Europe, preserved by Jews, which were quoted from prior to the consignment of the books to flames by Catholic Priests. The holiness of Jerusalem was revivified for these Christians and they hurled themselves into a haphazard Crusade to liberate Jerusalem.

In 1099, the Christian Crusaders fought their way across the Levant and recaptured Jerusalem. The significance here is that the First Crusade was not an aggressive invasion of another country. Rather, it was an attempt to recover a City which had been invaded by a foreign power. The Islamic armies were invaders.

...[In 1187, the brilliant re-taking of Jerusalem by Saladin and the Kurds; Christian Crusaders briefly re-take it back twice. Then 1250 the Muslim Caliph dismantles the walls, and the population dramatically declines; finally in 1538, Seleiman the Magnifent [sic] restores some of the mosques in Jerusalem.]

It us true that all of Arabia and the Levant was ruled by the Ottomans until the end of World War I. Since the turn of the century, after the trial of Dreyfus, Herzl began his effort to find a homeland for the Jews. The Zionists' effort is delayed by the War, for which Jews were also blamed. Zionists begin fleeing from Europe to destinations all over the world, and many go to Jerusalem. Arabs also begin migrating to Jerusalem where new jobs were being created.

In 1917, the British fight the Ottoman Empire, liberate the Arabian Peninsula and Mesopotamia. Jerusalem is captured and for the first time in its history, it is not sacked. The British do not kill all of its inhabitants.

The only significant Arab tribe to rebel against the Ottomans were the Saudis, who were then attacked by the other tribes and the Turks. Ibn Saud led his tribe to victory with the aid of the British.

In 1948, the State of Israel was established. The Jews agree not to make Jerusalem their capital city. The Israelis make a new city -- Tel Aviv.

In 1967, Israel captures the Old city and reunifies the City. Israel now occupies land which had been given to Jordan and Egypt.