Babylonian handbags - meaning?

Babylonian handbags - meaning?


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What is the meaning of “handbags” that Babylonian gods are often depicted carrying ? ![god with handbag]


The Met has one of these panels on display:

It also has an interpretation of the image:

The figure depicted on the panel is eagle-headed and faces left, holding in his left hand a bucket and in his right hand a cone whose exact nature is unclear. One suggestion has been that the gesture, sometimes performed by figures flanking a sacred tree, is symbolic of fertilization: the "cone" resembles the male date spathe used by Mesopotamian farmers, with water, to artificially fertilize female date-palm trees. It does seem likely that the cone was supposed to hold and dispense water from the bucket in this way, but it is described in Akkadian as a "purifier," and the fact that figures performing this gesture are also shown flanking the king suggests that some purifying or protective meaning is present.

Another depiction can be seen here (I have cropped the image below to make it fit here):

This shows the same 'sacred tree' that was discussed in the Met image. So we have an early depiction of… a bucket. Probably being used probably in some form of fertility rite.


Babylonian numerals

The Babylonian civilisation in Mesopotamia replaced the Sumerian civilisation and the Akkadian civilisation. We give a little historical background to these events in our article Babylonian mathematics. Certainly in terms of their number system the Babylonians inherited ideas from the Sumerians and from the Akkadians. From the number systems of these earlier peoples came the base of 60 , that is the sexagesimal system. Yet neither the Sumerian nor the Akkadian system was a positional system and this advance by the Babylonians was undoubtedly their greatest achievement in terms of developing the number system. Some would argue that it was their biggest achievement in mathematics.

Often when told that the Babylonian number system was base 60 people's first reaction is: what a lot of special number symbols they must have had to learn. Now of course this comment is based on knowledge of our own decimal system which is a positional system with nine special symbols and a zero symbol to denote an empty place. However, rather than have to learn 10 symbols as we do to use our decimal numbers, the Babylonians only had to learn two symbols to produce their base 60 positional system.

Now although the Babylonian system was a positional base 60 system, it had some vestiges of a base 10 system within it. This is because the 59 numbers, which go into one of the places of the system, were built from a 'unit' symbol and a 'ten' symbol.


Here are the 59 symbols built from these two symbols


Now given a positional system one needs a convention concerning which end of the number represents the units. For example the decimal 12345 represents

which, in decimal notation is 424000 .


Here is 1 , 57 , 46 , 40 in Babylonian numerals


Now there is a potential problem with the system. Since two is represented by two characters each representing one unit, and 61 is represented by the one character for a unit in the first place and a second identical character for a unit in the second place then the Babylonian sexagesimal numbers 1 , 1 and 2 have essentially the same representation. However, this was not really a problem since the spacing of the characters allowed one to tell the difference. In the symbol for 2 the two characters representing the unit touch each other and become a single symbol. In the number 1 , 1 there is a space between them.

A much more serious problem was the fact that there was no zero to put into an empty position. The numbers sexagesimal numbers 1 and 1 , 0 , namely 1 and 60 in decimals, had exactly the same representation and now there was no way that spacing could help. The context made it clear, and in fact despite this appearing very unsatisfactory, it could not have been found so by the Babylonians. How do we know this? Well if they had really found that the system presented them with real ambiguities they would have solved the problem - there is little doubt that they had the skills to come up with a solution had the system been unworkable. Perhaps we should mention here that later Babylonian civilisations did invent a symbol to indicate an empty place so the lack of a zero could not have been totally satisfactory to them.

An empty place in the middle of a number likewise gave them problems. Although not a very serious comment, perhaps it is worth remarking that if we assume that all our decimal digits are equally likely in a number then there is a one in ten chance of an empty place while for the Babylonians with their sexagesimal system there was a one in sixty chance. Returning to empty places in the middle of numbers we can look at actual examples where this happens.

Here is an example from a cuneiform tablet ( actually AO 17264 in the Louvre collection in Paris ) in which the calculation to square 147 is carried out. In sexagesimal 147 = 2 , 27 and squaring gives the number 21609 = 6 , 0 9 .


Here is the Babylonian example of 2 , 27 squared


Perhaps the scribe left a little more space than usual between the 6 and the 9 than he would have done had he been representing 6 , 9 .

Now we have already suggested the notation that we will use to denote a sexagesimal number with fractional part. To illustrate 10 , 12 5 1 , 52 , 30 represents the number

in addition, of course, to 10 , 12 , 5 , 1 , 52 , 30 , 0 or 0 0 , 10 , 12 , 5 , 1 , 52 , 30 etc.

Finally we should look at the question of why the Babylonians had a number system with a base of 60 . The easy answer is that they inherited the base of 60 from the Sumerians but that is no answer at all. It only leads us to ask why the Sumerians used base 60 . The first comment would be that we do not have to go back further for we can be fairly certain that the sexagesimal system originated with the Sumerians. The second point to make is that modern mathematicians were not the first to ask such questions. Theon of Alexandria tried to answer this question in the fourth century AD and many historians of mathematics have offered an opinion since then without any coming up with a really convincing answer.

Theon's answer was that 60 was the smallest number divisible by 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , and 5 so the number of divisors was maximised. Although this is true it appears too scholarly a reason. A base of 12 would seem a more likely candidate if this were the reason, yet no major civilisation seems to have come up with that base. On the other hand many measures do involve 12 , for example it occurs frequently in weights, money and length subdivisions. For example in old British measures there were twelve inches in a foot, twelve pennies in a shilling etc.

Neugebauer proposed a theory based on the weights and measures that the Sumerians used. His idea basically is that a decimal counting system was modified to base 60 to allow for dividing weights and measures into thirds. Certainly we know that the system of weights and measures of the Sumerians do use 1 3 largefrac<1><3> ormalsize 3 1 ​ and 2 3 largefrac<2><3> ormalsize 3 2 ​ as basic fractions. However although Neugebauer may be correct, the counter argument would be that the system of weights and measures was a consequence of the number system rather than visa versa.

Several theories have been based on astronomical events. The suggestion that 60 is the product of the number of months in the year ( moons per year ) with the number of planets ( Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn ) again seems far fetched as a reason for base 60 . That the year was thought to have 360 days was suggested as a reason for the number base of 60 by the historian of mathematics Moritz Cantor. Again the idea is not that convincing since the Sumerians certainly knew that the year was longer than 360 days. Another hypothesis concerns the fact that the sun moves through its diameter 720 times during a day and, with 12 Sumerian hours in a day, one can come up with 60 .

Some theories are based on geometry. For example one theory is that an equilateral triangle was considered the fundamental geometrical building block by the Sumerians. Now an angle of an equilateral triangle is 60 ° so if this were divided into 10 , an angle of 6 ° would become the basic angular unit. Now there are sixty of these basic units in a circle so again we have the proposed reason for choosing 60 as a base. Notice this argument almost contradicts itself since it assumes 10 as the basic unit for division!

I [ EFR ] feel that all of these reasons are really not worth considering seriously. Perhaps I've set up my own argument a little, but the phrase "choosing 60 as a base" which I just used is highly significant. I just do not believe that anyone ever chose a number base for any civilisation. Can you imagine the Sumerians setting set up a committee to decide on their number base - no things just did not happen in that way. The reason has to involve the way that counting arose in the Sumerian civilisation, just as 10 became a base in other civilisations who began counting on their fingers, and twenty became a base for those who counted on both their fingers and toes.

Here is one way that it could have happened. One can count up to 60 using your two hands. On your left hand there are three parts on each of four fingers ( excluding the thumb ) . The parts are divided from each other by the joints in the fingers. Now one can count up to 60 by pointing at one of the twelve parts of the fingers of the left hand with one of the five fingers of the right hand. This gives a way of finger counting up to 60 rather than to 10 . Anyone convinced?

A variant of this proposal has been made by others. Perhaps the most widely accepted theory proposes that the Sumerian civilisation must have come about through the joining of two peoples, one of whom had base 12 for their counting and the other having base 5 . Although 5 is nothing like as common as 10 as a number base among ancient peoples, it is not uncommon and is clearly used by people who counted on the fingers of one hand and then started again. This theory then supposes that as the two peoples mixed and the two systems of counting were used by different members of the society trading with each other then base 60 would arise naturally as the system everyone understood.

I have heard the same theory proposed but with the two peoples who mixed to produce the Sumerians having 10 and 6 as their number bases. This version has the advantage that there is a natural unit for 10 in the Babylonian system which one could argue was a remnant of the earlier decimal system. One of the nicest things about these theories is that it may be possible to find written evidence of the two mixing systems and thereby give what would essentially amount to a proof of the conjecture. Do not think of history as a dead subject. On the contrary our views are constantly changing as the latest research brings new evidence and new interpretations to light.


Ancient Babylonia by R. Russell

2 Kin 24:13-14 "And Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king's house, and he cut in pieces all the articles of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had said. Also he carried into captivity all Jerusalem: all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land."


Ancient Babylonian Art

Simply to say the word Babylon conjures up hanging gardens and ancient civilizations. Located near the Euphrates River in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), the ancient city of Babylon began to grow in prominence after the fall of Sumer. It’s earliest recorded mention dates to the twenty-third century B.C. But after Sumer was conquered by the Elamites, the Amorites became the dominate force of the Fertile Crescent, as the region was dubbed in the last century. Under the Amorites, Babylon became a powerful city state and conquered other cities to become an empire which is known as the Old Babylonian Period.

Of course, during the ancient period Babylon was ruled by various groups after the Amorites like the Hittites, Kassites, and much later the Assyrians. In many ways, the city became an ancient melting pot. Spoken language changed and culture adapted to various ruling groups though it must be noted that Babylon’s art actually influenced the art of its rulers, particularly the Assyrians, since Babylon was regarded in the ancient world as a cultural center and was highly influential for centuries. Its art is a focal point among the arts of antiquity.

During the Old Babylonian Period, the art of the city was showcased in frescoes and with enameled tiles. Frequently religious in subject matter, as with other ancient civilizations, it became more complex throughout its development. Unlike the Assyrians who preferred the bas relief form, the Babylonians specialized in free standing statuary. These figures were three dimensional and largely realistic. Among the earliest examples of Babylonian statuary are the Statues of Gudea carved mainly from diorite, though alabaster, steatite, and limestone were also used. Due to a scarcity of stone, Babylon’s artists treated it as a precious material and became adept at stone cutting and carving.

Of course, household items like vases and seal cylinders were also often rendered with artistic treatment. Such items might be decorated with human forms or animals. While the ziggurat temple form was already known to the Sumerians, it continued to be constructed by Sumerians who would decorate the walls with elaborate works of art. Examples of the art’s subject matter might demonstrate wishes for good harvests or fertility. Perhaps the crowning achievement of Babylonian art is evidenced by the famed Ishtar Gate which was created in c.575 B.C. under the direction of King Nebuchadnezzar II. It is known for its bas relief dragons and the accompanying Processional Way which was lined with statues of dragons.

According to legend, Babylon was regarded as one of the most beautiful of ancient cities. The city became famous for its lush palaces and courtyards. And though its mythic hanging gardens have not survived, many of its artistic relics have been unearthed to be showcased around the world in the most prestigious museums of art and history.


Economic Activities

The economic activities which developed during the First Babylonian Empire are well-known thanks to the laws of the Code of Hammurabi, which is a very important historical source and which helps historians to know what the economy was like during the Babylonian Empire.

Thanks to it, we know that the base of the economy was agriculture, which just like the other nations (see Sumerians) depended on the construction of canals for irrigation. It was also an important development in livestock farming. The taxes or tributes to the Empire were paid in kind, that is to say, they consisted of the different products in which each region worked.

Commerce and the development of the technology and infrastructures were also affected very positively by the cultural development and, in particular, the development of mathematics and engineering. On the one hand, advanced knowledge of engineering was needed to be able to accomplish the plans for all the dikes, dams and other works of great size which were brought to completion during this time, gathered more than anything from the previous knowledge of the Sumerians.

In the same way, the sexagesimal metric system was used in Babylonia, which is a system very similar to our decimal system, but instead of being based on the number 10, it is based on 60. Thanks to the early development of this metric system in Babylonia the development of arithmetic or algebra was able to advance a great deal.

Religious Beliefs in Babylon

They constructed great monuments as is the case of the temples whose buildings in form of terraced towers reached a total height exceeding 100 meters (328 feet). The temples also possessed decorations in relief narrating important aspects relating to worship and the deity to which homage was made on the walls of the main rooms.

The most important gods represented in these temples were the following:

  • Anu: was the principal god during the most ancient era. He was the god of the sky.
    Enlil: he is the son of Anu. He carried the “tablet of destinies” with which he controlled the future of all beings. He ended up replacing his father as king of the gods.
  • Ea (o Enki): is the god of magical knowledge, who controlled fresh water, so important for agriculture in Mesopotamia. He was also charged with teaching the different trades to humanity.
  • Marduk: son of Ea. He was the principal god of Babylonia. He became king of the gods, beginning with the Babylonian Empire and also to other regions and cultures in Mesopotamia.
  • Ishtar: she is the goddess of love. With various names, she was known in all of western Asia, becoming the most popular goddess of the Mesopotamian pantheon.
  • Nabu: master of scribes and god of wisdom.

Unfortunately, due to the conquests and destruction of cities, to which was added the deterioration of time and erosion by environmental conditions, many of the works of art of the Babylonian culture were destroyed, but those which have been saved outline an important image for us of the general characteristics of the culture in these ancient cities.

This ancient civilization possessed important knowledge related to astrology thanks to which they created a fairly accurate calendar, of which many aspects are still used. They possessed knowledge about medicine, the prevention of sicknesses and the containment or spread of the same, which is surprising today if one takes into account the antiquity of this nation. The knowledge they possessed regarding mathematics is astounding.


All false religion started in Babylon

THE PAGAN ORIGIN OF ROSARY BEADS

PRAYER BEADS – OR – ROSARY BEADS

Rosary beads come in all shapes, colors, sizes and
quality. Some rosaries are strung with pearl, crystal,
wood and even plastic. But where did the ritual of
the rosary come from? And what, exactly, is the
significance of rosary beads?

The rosary in simplest terms is said to be a tool
used to aid prayer and meditation. The beads of a
rosary count the prayers as they are recited out loud
or in the mind. The user relies on the rosary beads
to keep track of how many times you’ve said a
particular prayer.

“Most commonly recognized in the United States
as a symbol of Catholicism, other religions including
Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism and Islam employ
rosary beads as well.”
-The Meaning of Rosary Beads
What Do Rosary Beads Symbolize?
By Jessica Ciosek

“Prayer beads, or prayer rosaries, are really
another form of the “witch’s ladder,” a knotted
rope or cord used to count repetitions during
a spell or ritual. Praying with beads is a spiritual
practice with a long history in most of the world’s
religions.”
-Sacred Mists Shoppe
Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone

“prayer beads originated with the Hindu faith.
Using beads for devotions dates to the 8th century BC
in the cult of Shiva. In India sandstone sculptures,
statues ca 185 BC, show Hindus with prayer beads.
The names of Hindu gods and prayers are repeated
on stringed beads, called mala, separated by larger
or different colored beads.”
-A HISTORY OF PRAYING ON BEADS
Patricia A. Dilley

“Hindu converts kept their traditional use of
prayer beads. Buddhist monks always carry a strand
of prayer beads, or rosary, usually of 108 beads.”
-A HISTORY OF PRAYING ON BEADS
Patricia A. Dilley

Prayer beads are used by : Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims,
and Catholics among others.

“Often, when religions sought converts,
they allowed them to retain some of their
pagan ways: ceremonial garb, heathen rituals
and traditions in order to add to their numbers.
This led to spiritual pollution.”
-A HISTORY OF PRAYING ON BEADS
Patricia A. Dilley

“Before the 12th century, rosaries were used for
talismans (amulet or occult charms). Rosaries and
prayer beads were intended by the catholic church
hierarchy, for use by the ignorant.”
-A HISTORY OF PRAYING ON BEADS
Patricia A. Dilley

“Pagans had used prayer beads even before the
8th century before CHRIST, and they still use
them today.”
-A HISTORY OF PRAYING ON BEADS
Patricia A. Dilley

The Bible warns us against use of prayer beads –
Matthew 6:7 says – “But when ye pray, use not vain
repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that
they shall be heard for their much speaking.

“And when you pray, do not…repeat the same
words over and over as the Gentiles (pagans) do,
for they think they will be heard for their much
speaking.”
(Matthew 6:7)(AMP)-BibleGateway

“But when praying, do not say the same things
over and over again, just as the people of the
nations do, for they imagine they will get a
hearing for their use of many words.”
(Matthew 6:7)(NWT)


What does Babylon mean in Reggae?

If your even the slightest fan of Reggae music you must have heard the term “Babylon” being used in some way or another. So what exactly is “Babylon”?

Well the Christian may recognize the term from the Bible when the Jews were captured and forced to undergo hardships in Babylon. The Rastafarians in their consistent historical consciousness recognized the similarities between this biblical saga and the reality which was the Transatlantic Slave Trade or Triangular Trade.

The reason why the tern “Babylon” is used as opposed to another is due to the fact that for the most part the Bible was the only reference point available to most enslaved Africans and since they were stripped of cultural identity and their children were forbidden from learning to read, biblical terminology proved to be the best way of communication between rastas and bald heads.

Its not only Babylon which is used, but also “Israelite” is used to refer to Africans as their sufferation under the “Babylonian” system is brutal, long and ongoing. Another popular term is “exodus” which depicts the “movement of Jah people across the red sea” – these are lyrics from Bob Marley & the Wailers, Exodus. The term “red” was used to describe the bloody facts about the middle passage in which many Africans were thrown overboard or died from the disgusting conditions of the slave ship.

The rasta have long made the point, which many academics are now recognizing that in the schools the entire curriculum is built around the culture, history and beliefs of the colonizers with vague references to Africa here and there. In fact many of Jamaica’s brightest upon leaving high school can only say “slavery happened a long time ago”. Because that is all they know about the issue yet they can describe Paris, London and can the tales of the Merchant of Venice. This is very disturbing.

� years and its the same philosophy” – Peter Tosh

In contemporary Reggae/Dancehall music biblical terms are still used extensively and “Babylon” refers to the system built on slavery i.e. the global free market/globalization system. The social hieracrchy has also come under fire as politicians and police officers have long been pointed out as being pivotal in the oppression of the poor. If you think about it, it makes absolute sense. When talks of what lead to modern capitalism is brought up, I often hear arguments of the steam engine but not once did I hear slavery which is an almost identical model of the global ‘North and South’ trading scheme only thing is goods are being shipped now as opposed to people. Dr. Eric Williams argued this point brilliantly in his book “Capitalism & Slavery”

But this is one thing I cannot overstand
dem nah teach me nothin bout mi ancient land
Inna the school and the college and the institution
the curriculum that I get is European
Ah teach me bout Marco Polo and Napolean
Nah teach me nuttin bout the river Nile bank
where civilization it began
You say thou shall not steal and should not kill no one
yet you steal treacherize and then you teach wrong
(Sizzla) yea yea slave and you murder all mi dad and mi mom
But wicked Babylonian and you will have to burn


The Number Warrior

I have written about the ancient Egyptian value for before, concluding that while the Egyptians had a procedure for finding the area of a circle, they didn’t have any real understanding of the ratio.

Conversely, the Babylonians found as a ratio (3.125) but, oddly enough, didn’t handle circles as well as the Egyptians.

Consider this tablet from the Yale Babylonian Collection known as YBC 7302:

Since the photo is hard to interpret, here’s a version with the numbers made clear:

That’s cuneiform, which fortunately in numbers isn’t too hard to read.

Based on positional context, 3 seems to be the circumference of the circle. Using the formulas and ,

While we’re used to a base 10 system () the Babylonians used a base 60 system (). Also at the time the Babylonians had no place value, so if there’s the number 󈬝” only context can tell if they mean 45, 45/60, or 45/60*60.

If we take the 45 from the tablet to mean 45/60:

and the Babylonian value of turns out to be simply 3.

Now, if you remember my Egyptian post, their value of was also pulled out of a circle area procedure in the exact same manner. Arguably it is unfair to go any further there are good reasons to call the Babylonian value of 3 and stop there.

However, there was some tablets found in 1936 which throw the case for a loop.

The tablets were found in Susa, in ancient times capital city of the Elamite Empire. (It also happens to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, at more than 7000 years.)

There are pictures in the Textes mathématiques de Suse, but I cannot reproduce them for copyright reasons.

One of the tablets (this one, I think) contains a list of geometrical constants. For example, it gives the number in relation to a regular pentagon, apparently meaning that:

The area of a pentagon = * The side of the pentagon 2

The actual number here should be , or approximately 1.72, so the Babylonians were off by only 0.06. The tablet also gives constants used in the same way for the hexagon (2.625, about 0.027 off the real value) and for the heptagon (3.683, about 0.049 off the real value).

One of the other constants is 24/25. On the tablet it matches with a circle with a hexagon inscribed inside.

Suppose we take 24/25 to be the ratio of the perimeter of the hexagon p to the circumference of the circle C.

If the radius of the circle is r, adding some equilateral triangles reveals the perimeter of the hexagon is 6r. So:

Because this is given as an actual fixed ratio (rather than being extrapolated from a circle area procedure) it’s arguably the first discovered value for . It’s also intriguing in that relating the inscribed polygon to the circle is how Archimedes gets the first truly rigorous calculation of — he just adds more sides to get a closer estimate. However, I can’t give the Babylonians full laurels because this is the only place this value of appears. They never reapplied it back to any problem requiring the area or circumference of a circle.


Who Is The Whore Of Babylon? (And Why Does It Matter?)

The Book of Revelation is like an art gallery filled with pictures painted in colours borrowed from Old Testament canvases. If you want to understand “the Whore Of Babylon” you have to go way back in the biblical story.

In the Old Testament, the city of Babylon gave birth to an empire that ruled the known world and imposed a worldview upon all of the peoples that she conquered. Those she did not destroy, she subverted. She could be brutal callous and proud and she believed that she would reign over the earth forever. She said in her heart: “I am, and there is no one besides me I shall not sit as a widow or know the loss of children” (Isaiah 47:8 ESV).

She spoke as a god and she thought herself secure.

Her destruction is announced in Isaiah 47. In response to her wickedness, arrogance, self-indulgence, and brutality towards the people of God the Lord announces sudden doom:

But evil shall come upon you, which you will not know how to charm away disaster shall fall upon you, for which you will not be able to atone and ruin shall come upon you suddenly, of which you know nothing. (Isaiah 47:11 ESV)

History tells us that the Babylonian Empire fell very suddenly and very unpleasantly to the Persians under Cyrus The Great in 539 BC. Later when Darius was King the Babylonians revolted unsuccessfully and as a consequence, they experienced many of the same brutalities they had previously inflicted upon the Jews. The Babylonians themselves strangled many of their wives and children to keep them from starving to death during the brutal siege of their capital city. When the city fell Herodotus says that the gates were pulled down and 3000 of the leading citizens were impaled upon the walls. The once great city – the Queen of the world – was defeated, devastated and despoiled.

Babylon next appears in the biblical narrative about 630 years later. The former seat of empire is now a village surrounded and nearly swallowed by a sea of sand. And yet her name begins to reappear in the New Testament canon as a symbol of the world at war with the people God. Peter uses it as a sort of code. He ends his epistle to the churches of Pontus and Bithynia by saying:

She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. (1 Peter 5:13–14 ESV)

Peter was nowhere near Babylon when he wrote that letter Peter was in Rome, but he uses the word “Babylon” as a symbolic way of referring to the new world culture at war with the covenant community. Peter is saying: Rome is the new Babylon. Rome is the new mistress who would seduce and subvert the people of God.

The city had become a spirit.

Her final appearance in the narrative comes in Revelation 17.

In The Book Of Revelation the reference to Babylon is obviously symbolic. John is carried away in the Spirit into the wilderness where he saw:

“a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” (Revelation 17:3–6 ESV)

The Whore of Babylon is the spirit of seductive culture, actively engaged in the deception and destruction of God’s people. That she rides upon “the beast” means she is propped up by the forces of anti-Christian government.

Just like the beast, who was, and is not and is about to rise, the “Whore” keeps on rising from the dead! A particular brand of her seductive charm may fall into the dust and be buried by the sands of time, but just you wait! Before you know it, she will rise again in another place, known by another name but waging the same destructive war against God’s covenant people.

As it was in the past, so shall it be in the future.

While scholars may debate some of the fine details of this particular vision, the main points of application seem abundantly clear:

1. Culture is not neutral.
2. The devil attacks God’s people via the front door through governmental persecution.
3. The devil attacks God’s people via the backdoor through seductive, idolatrous culture.
4. No enemy of God’s people will finally stand. The Lord has a day and that day is coming.

To listen to Pastor Paul’s Into The Word devotional podcast on the TGC Canada website see here. You can also find it on iTunes.

An earlier version of this article can be found here.


Babylonian handbags - meaning? - History

Babylonian and pagan roots of the Catholic Church

Roman Catholic Church (RCC) very often tries to eliminate and defame every person who expose RCC's pagan roots and that its origin is in pagan religions, not in teaching of the Bible. In the matter of fact, RCC has mixed up Biblical and pagan doctrines. This combination makes from it anti-Christian sect and cult, which doesn't represent Biblical Christianity. RCC has systematically tried to distort evidence that shows clearly wrong doctrines of RCC and its undisputed connections to paganism. The history of Christianity is mainly written by Catholics (NT texts aren't Catholic texts) and RCC has burned several books and texts that it has kept as "heretics". Church history written by Roman Catholics is not fair history. RCC tries to always lead the people to read Catholic history of Christianity, by thus they try to testify that they are the same thing as the Early Church, which they are not in any way.

The church history is mainly written by Catholics and therefore, its emphasis is Catholic and distortions are also mainly Catholic origin. In this world we don't for sure know all the things that have occurred in the history time after the Early Church. Something we can find, but not precisely. Actually, we don't have to know only that what the Bible tells, because the Word of God is sole spiritual authority to teaching of the Bible.

After the Early Church began to come apostasy concerning to the truth of the Bible. One of the things was emphasizing of the Catholic Church, in which the Early Church and the Lord Jesus taught nothing. In 1st century Ignatius first used the word Catholic (katholike) and the Roman Catholic Church put to use the word Catholic in 3th century. The Lord Jesus and apostles of the Early Church didn't use the word katholike (Catholic) and for this reason the word katholike is nowhere in the text of the New Testament manuscripts. The word Catholic (common) Church is written to the Apostles' Creed for the reason that people would emphasize the faith of the Catholic Church. It is very sad and ironic that Roman Catholic Church is not the Church of God, but anti-Christian sect, which has nothing to do with the Biblical faith. The concept Catholic Church in the Apostles' Creed has set to there for the purpose to bring authority to doctrines of the RCC. RCC teaches that how people must believe the Catholic interpretation and its tradition which are, however wrong teachings.

The text of the New Testament that we have in use have been written by apostles' of the Early Church and guided by the Holy Spirit, in which all copied NT's text's in all the times are coming from. I think that this the most important and the cornerstone that should will be enough for us and the evidence for it that the texts NT are not handwriting of Catholics as they try to indicate. During 1st and 2nd centuries arisen wrong teachings find their way inside the Catholic Church that was born in 3th century. In the New Testament is said about reading and spreading of the NT's texts at the time of the Early Church. Those who read, spread and copied first the texts of the NT were not Catholics. The concept and the word catholic came in the history at 1st century, but the Early Church born about 70 years before that the concept catholic was born. God has been taking care that the birth of the NT's texts and its message has kept away for a long distance from Catholicism, because the text of the NT has nothing to do with Catholicism that is the pagan sect.

The origin of the so called the Apostles' Creed is not written by the apostles of the Early Church, but it has been written after them. The Creed of the Early Church apostles' was very brief:

Romans 10:
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Some of the Early Church believers who got the grace of God to write teaching and message of the New Testament did not bring out the Church in their Creed, because the saving faith can obtain only in the Lord Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith. The word katholike means a common, but God did not give the Creed that we should connect the Church, because believing in the Lord Jesus is enough that will set all the things in the right places.

Apostle Paul said that after his departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock And also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Disciples of the Lord Jesus should be sufficient texts of the OT and NT, because they are the same thing as the Word of God. There is no meaning how people have believed after the Early Church, because only it does matter what the Bible tells. The church history after the Early Church shouldn't be for us as the signpost on how we should believe in the Lord Jesus, because only the Bible is the perfect and infallible and shows to us how we must believe in the Lord Jesus. After the Early Church have come numerous groups who have more or less get lost from the truth of the Bible. The Bible is error-free and perfect announcement of God and therefore it should be our sole spiritual authority for teaching of the Bible.

Many believers have erred to study and believe doctrines that have been written after the Early Church. I don't have any desire to study what has happened after the Early Church in that sense that I try to find there the truth, because I have the Bible where is the perfect truth. The intention of the RCC is to lead you to study church history written by Catholics, because it is a trap, which leads you away from the truth of the Bible, that you should believe in Catholic tradition, which actually fully corrupt teaching of the Bible. For this reason, it is very important that you put the Bible (OT-NT) your only authority of the faith, because the teaching of the Bible tells for us how we should believe in the Lord Jesus at the time in the New Covenant.

The focus of the disciples of the Lord Jesus should be the Lord Jesus and the truth of the Bible. Exposing the lies and pagan origins is not the center point of believers, but we must tell it that no one get lost and think that Roman Catholic Church is the Church of God. RCC can distort texts which have been written through the ages, but RCC can't distort what pagan religions have left behind them by hieroglyphs, relics, statues and images, because they tell clearly what pagan religions teaches and how they are identical with the doctrines of the RCC. When we compare evidence of pagan history, so they are identical with it that what RCC stands for.

6b.

10.
The papal tiara and Babylonian and Assyrian ruler's crown.

Picture 1. In the picture is the Black Obelisk of Assurian king Shalmaneser III so called Jehu relief, who performs oblation (drink-offering) to his god. Before the king is an eagle winged symbol of sun god Shamash. Shamash was Mesopotamian sun god that worshiped in Akkadia, Assyria and Babylon. Shalmaneser has in hand drinking-offering vessel and opposite stands a person who has above his hand the sun disk, which is the symbol of sun god Shamash.

Relief portrays how Jehu king of Israel comes to meet the Assurian king. In the picture Jehu is bending down to the ground. The picture portrays very clearly religious ritual with drinking-offering and round sun disk.

When you compare this ritual with RCC Eucharist, so the elements are the same for RCC's priest gives from chalice wine and round wafer to Catholics during the Eucharist.

RCC criticizes among other things Alexander Hislop based on his book the Two Babylons, in which he brings out that the RCC's Eucharist roots are in paganism not in the Bible. Historical Babylonian hieroglyph from sun god ritual testifies that Hislop was on the right track, even he would be mistaken in some details.

Very often when someone brings out wrong teachings of the RCC, so RCC demands evidence and tries to distort those evidence with misinformation. If someone makes a mistake by giving wrong information about the Catholic Church, so RCC raises a big noise from it, but RCC doesn't want to make repentance for its own faults and wrong doctrines.

RCC has through out of its history murdered and killed people for the sake of its theology and it teaches numerous wrong doctrines, in which RCC doesn't want to make repentance. Does this kind of institution have any right to demand of others, because it is not willing to repent its own sins and faults?

Picture 2. The monstrance is carried in the RCC's Eucharist, because the origin of the RCC's Eucharist doctrine and practice derives from Babylonian sun worshipping. When the real disciples of the Lord Jesus are gathered to the Lord's Supper there is no sun worshipping pagan religious objects, because the Bible forbids idol worshipping and objects of idol worshipping. God commanded the Israelites to remove all objects used in the idol worshipping. Same thing concern also the people of the New Covenant.

Picture 3. Babylonian sun god Shamash is sitting holding his hand sceptre and ring, which are symbols of his rule and power. On the left is the king with his two servants. On the middle is an altar where is a large 4-point sun disk with rays. Babylonian tablet portrays sun wheel or disk, which is round like the sun and through this sun wheel they were in connection witt the sun god Shamash.

When you compare Babylonian sun worship ritual with RCC Eucharist doctrine, so you see that both have an altar where is religious sun symbol used in worshipping. According to the teaching of RCC the bread and wine of Eucharist turns by the priest to the blood andthe body of Jesus and for this reason Catholics venerate and worship it also outside of the Eucharist.

Picture 4. Eucharist of RCC and and round wafer. Finnish Catholic saint Mary Church teaches for Eucharist on their website as follows (I translated text from Finnish to English): According to our Catholic faith the holy mass has the sacrificial character. The holy mass is simultaneously commendation sacrifice, praise sacrifice, memento sacrifice and atonement sacrifice of our sins. The sacrifice that Christ offered on the cross is one and the same sacrifice, only the offering form is different. The Church that is the body of Christ, participates its Head, Christ, carrying of oblation by celebrating the mass.

The mass sacrifice of RCC is not the same as Biblical Lord's Supper, but the ceremony and rite of pagan sun cult. The Bible teaches that the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus has been done once for all people, which was one sacrifice for sins for ever and no one can repeat and renew it not in any way.

According to the Bible a man shall be saved alone by the grace and by the faith when he confesses with his mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in his heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead. He shall have remission of sins who repent his sins and believe in the Lord Jesus.

Picture 5. In Vatican is St. Peter's Square. The square is built as the shape of eight ray sun wheel, which is a pagan symbol. In the middle of the sun wheel is a great obelisk that caesar Caligula brought from Heliopolis to Rome. In the middle of sun wheel is small four ray sun wheel having the same shape that has found from the temple of Baal in Hazor. Baal is pagan sun god. The sun wheel was used on the sun worshipping religions. In Babylon worshipping of sun god Shamash was sun wheel with four rayed star with sun rays. There was also eight rays sun wheels and so on.

St. Peter's square is dedicated to pagan worshipping. Sun wheel and obelisk patterns were familiar symbols to the Romans and everybody knew that they were objects of pagan worshipping. Because RCC keeps on view these symbols, so it is evidence that actually RCC worships idols (sun god), not God of the Bible.

Picture 6. Picture on the left is Babylonian king and he has in his wrist sun symbol. Picture on the right is the pope and he has in his glove also sun symbol where id letters IHS. RCC says that letters IHS come from Latin words Iesus Hominum Salvator (Jesus the Savior of men).

Because both pope and Babylonian king have sun symbols in their hands, so we have very good reason to think that letters IHS mean Egyptian idols Isis, Horus, Seb. From Babylon began the first religion of the world, which spread from there also to Egypt and Babylonian queen of heaven came goddess Isis in Egypt. One of the symbols of goddess Isis is round sun between horns of the Apis bull. Thus it is not far-fetched to say that Isis had a connection to sun worshipping. Thus we can't exclude possibility that Catholic Eucharist wafer letters IHS are dedicated to sun worshipping.

This conclusion shall be confirmed when you look at the picture 6b, in which Catholic symbol is depicted as the sun symbol of which inside is sun rays and the middle is letters IHS. Letters IHS in pope's glove is in the middle of sun symbols with sun rays. If IHS means Jesus the Savior of men, so why the letters are in the middle of pagan sun symbol? The logical conclusion is that in question is from pagan sun worshipping and not Jesus.

Picture 7. On the floor of St. Peter's basilica has been written Pontifex Maximus, which is one of the titles of the pope. Origin of Pontifex Maximus is in Babylon. Picture on the floor is triple crown that origins from Babylon. In the picture is also Fleur-de-lis (lily pattern) representing union between a man and a woman and in the middle of this pattern is god, in which a man and a woman are united. In the picture we can also see the tail of a fish that has been cut, which represent fish god Dagon. In the picture is also a lion with wings that is Babylonian symbol. In the picture is also "keys of Peter".

When Medo-Persian conquered Babylon, so they took in use some religious rites and ceremonies of Babylon. A Babylonian priest escaped to Pergamos that located in Asia Minor. Babylonian priests honored Greeks Pantheon temple (the temple of all gods), but they still continued to practise Babylonian religion.

The Babylonian religion of Pergamos came to Rome A.D 133. Babylonian religion that came from Pergamos to Rome was so popular and common in Rome that Rome was called as the New Babylon. The title Pontifex Maximum take in use also Roman Caesar and later the bishop of Rome (pope).

The Babylonian religion of satan came to Pergamos and from there it moved to Rome. The New Testament says that satan's seat is in Pergamos and it was there because Babylonian priests moved their Babylonian religion to Pergamos. From Pergamos Babylonian religion came to Rome A.D. 133 and in that way Babylonian religion moved inside to RCC in 3th century.

Picture 8. The statue of Egyptian Isis goddess, in which on her head is Fleur-de-lis. Fleur-de-lis symbolize union between a man and a woman and their connection to god. Fleur-de-lis on the head of Isis goddess proves that Egyptians believed that Isis goddess was the way to god. Isis cult was also in Rome that worshipped as one of the many deities. Fleur-de-lis is depicted with many other symbols of RCC. RCC worships Mary and worshipping of Mary is in ancient pagan religions where were worshipped goddesses.

The Bible forbids worshipping of the pagan queen of heaven. RCC teaches that Mary is the queen of heaven. The cult of the queen of heaven and her worshipping is pagan idolatry that RCC practise openly by worshipping of Mary. Actually object of worshipping is the ancient Babylonian queen of heaven goddess.

Picture 9. Pope John XXIII papal medal, in which is words Pontifex Maximus that is a title of pagan high priest. On the medal pope wears a triple crown and picture 10 bring out that origin of the triple crown is from Babylon.

The Pontifex Maximus was principal of Rome's religion who lead high-ranking college of Pontiffs (compare pope leads cardinals). Members of the college were high priest Pontifex Maximus. other high-ranking priests, flames and vestals who were virgins. Pontifex means bridge builder and Maximum greatest. Symbolically Pontifex Maximus means that he is bridging builder between gods and men (compare the RCC doctrine that the pope is the vicar of Christ on the earth). We can see very clearly how RCC has built the order of the Church according to order of pagan religion, which initial origin is in Babylon.

RCC is aiming to make non-Catholics Christians as Catholic by ecumenical connections. This goal comes into view very clearly for example from Catholic catechism:

Catholic catechism : 819. "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God the life of grace faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."274 Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity.

Every disciple of the Lord Jesus should be clear that RCC's foundations are in pagan religions and not even one disciple of the Lord Jesus can't participate with Catholic ecumenism, because through it people are building on the earth the kingdom of anti-Christ, not the kingdom of God.


History Crash Course #43: The Jews of Babylon

The oldest and most stable of Jewish communities was spared the ravages of holy warriors.

The story of the Jews of Babylon of necessity begins some 1,000 years before our current timeline ― in the 434 BCE, when the Babylonians first marched on Israel as part of their campaign to stake claim to the former Assyrian empire. In that first foray, the Babylonians did not destroy the Temple, nor send the Jews into exile. However, they did succeed in taking into captivity 10,000 of the best and brightest Jews. (See Part 22)

While it seemed like tragedy at the time, these brilliant men, Torah scholars all, immediately established a Jewish infrastructure upon arrival in Babylon. A dozen years later when the Temple was destroyed, the Jews who were exiled to Babylon found there yeshivas, synagogues, kosher butchers, etc., all the essentials for maintaining a Jewish life. (See Part 23)

Seventy years later, when the Babylonians fell to the Persians and the Jews were permitted to return, only a small number did. Of what was probably a million Jews living in the Persian Empire, only 42,000 went back, meaning that the vast majority stayed in Babylon under Persia domination.

During the Second Temple period, up until its destruction in 70 CE, the Jewish community in Babylon ― far from the eye of the storm that raged in the Land of Israel ― continued to flourish.

Indeed, this is where the center of Jewish rabbinic authority came to rest after the Roman Empire shut down the Sanhedrin in 363 CE.

The head of the Jewish community of Babylon ― who was officially recognized by the Persian authorities ― was called Resh Galusa in Aramaic, which means Rosh Galut in Hebrew, and "Head of the Diaspora" in English.

The Resh Galusa was a person who was a direct descendant of the House of King David. Even though he was not a king in the land of Israel, he was recognized as not only being the representative of the Jewish community in Babylon but as also having noble status.

Over 1,500 year history of the Jewish community in Babylon approximately 40 people held that title, all tracing their ancestry back to King David. This was a noble line that was always preserved in Jewish history.

Part of the reason for the stability of the Jewish community in Babylon was that the area was held by the Persian Sassanian dynasty from the 3rd century CE on. The Sassanians managed to keep out of their kingdom first the Romans and then the Byzantines. (For more on the Byzantines see Part 41) In this way the Jews of Babylon were protected from harm that the Byzantine Christians inflicted elsewhere.

In this atmosphere, Jewish scholarship was able to flourish in the great yeshivas at Sura (which was founded by Rabbi Abba Ben Ibo better known as Rav) and at Nehardea (which was founded by the Babylonian sage Shmuel) and which later moved to Pumbedita.

This is where the Babylonian Talmud was written, as we saw in Part 39, immortalizing the great rabbis of Babylon, especially Abbaye and Rava. As historian Berel Wein relates in Echoes of Glory (p. 267):

(Another great rabbinic scholar in Babylon was Rav Ashi, the editor-in-chief of the Babylonian Talmud in the early 5th century.)

These rabbis, as we explained in Part 39, are known in Jewish scholarship as Amoraim, "explainers" or "interpreters." The Amoraim lived from about 200 CE to about 500 CE.(1) They were followed by the Gaonim, the "great ones" or "geniuses." The Gaonim were the heads of the yeshivas in a time when Jewish scholarship thrived in Babylon.

But then the situation changed.

Things began to worsen for the Jewish Babylonian community in the middle of the 5th century when the Persian priests, fighting against encroaching Christian missionaries, unleashed anti-Christian persecutions and included Jews in the mayhem. Writes Wein (p. 277):

Things went from bad to worse ― with the Reish Gelusa executed at one point ― as Babylonia became embroiled in civil war and as the Byzantines continued their encroachments.

In the midst of this chaos, the Moslem conquest of the Middle East in the 7th century brought unexpected benefits to the Jewish community in Babylon.

Mohammed had died in 632 leaving no successor, a situation which led to immediate strife and a split in the nascent Muslim world. The candidates for caliph were two: 1) his cousin Ali, who married Mohammed's daughter Fatima and 2) his first convert and father-in-law, Abu Bakr.

This struggle gave rise to the creation of two Muslim sects: 1) the Shi'ites who recognized Ali as Mohammed's rightful successor and 2) the Sunnis, who recognized Abu Bakr as the rightful successor.

Today, the Shi'ites are the minority in the Muslim world, making up 16% of all Muslims. The majority of the Muslims are Sunnis, followers of Abu Bakr and his successor Omar, who founded the first major Islamic dynasty, the Omayyad (sometimes spelled Umayyad).

Caliph Omar recognized that the road to unity was to have a common enemy. He therefore embarked on a series of foreign wars of conquest, in which the Muslims were remarkably successful.

As part of his conquests Caliph Omar invaded Jerusalem in 638, taking it away from the Byzantines.

To see the remains of Byzantine homes from that period, you can visit today the archeological excavations below the southern end of the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was this area, in particular, that Omar turned over to 70 Jewish families following his conquest. (Until then the Byzantines had forbidden the Jews from living in Jerusalem at all.)

He found the Temple Mount site in ruins and covered with garbage as the Byzantines had deliberately decreed that garbage should be dumped there to humiliate the Jews. Omar had the site cleared and may have prayed at the southern end (toward Mecca) which could well be the first time that a small mosque was erected there, though historians are not certain.

It must be made clear that up to this time, Jerusalem had no special significance to Muslims. During his lifetime already, Mohammed had changed the direction of prayer to Mecca, and the Koran does not mention Jerusalem even once!

Possibly out of concern that the magnificent Christian holy sites in Jerusalem would attract Moslems to Christianity a connection was later made between Islamic tradition and Jerusalem through the story of Mohammed's midnight ride ― which is recorded in the Koran in Sura 17-al Isra(2) ― In that dream, Mohammed rides his flying horse, El Burak ― a steed with the body of a woman and the tail of a peacock ― to the "farthest place." The farthest place in Arabic is El Aksa. There he meets Jebril (Gabriel) and goes up to heaven for a forty-day sojourn, meeting all the prophets and talking to Moses and Jesus etc.(3)

The Omayyad leadership decided that the farthest place (El Aksa) had to be the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. And that the center of the Temple Mount, where a huge stone protruded, must be the spot from which Mohammed ascended to heaven.

In 691, some fifty years after Omar's conquest, an Omayyad ruler named Abd al Malik built the Dome of the Rock, called Qubbat as Sakrah, there. It still stands today and dominates the Jerusalem skyline.

Note that the Dome of the Rock is not a mosque. Rather it is a shrine built around the huge rock, which Jews believe to be the same stone where Abraham took Isaac to be sacrificed, where Jacob dreamed of a ladder to heaven, and where the Holy of Holies once stood. The mosque ― El Aksa ― is another building altogether, built at the southern end of the Temple Mount by Abd al Malik's son, El Walid in 701. The Dome of the Rock together with the El Aksa mosque are the first great religious building complex in the Islamic world and pre-date the building of the great Mosque in Mecca.

The Dome of the Rock was not always golden as it is today. It was covered with anodised aluminum in 1956, and more recently, the late King Hussein of Jordan, sold one of his houses in London and gold-plated it with 80 kilos of gold. Today, this site is the third holiest to Suni Muslims and the fourth holiest to Shi'ite Muslims, who list Karabala, after Mecca and Medina.

The Temple Mount is known to Muslims as Haram el Sharif, "the Noble Sanctuary." Jerusalem is known to Muslims call El Quds, "the Holy."(4) The taking of Jerusalem was a big blow to the Christians, reeling from other Muslim conquests that were sweeping the world. Jews greeted it more favorably, as the Christians had been merciless to the Jews. The Muslims might humiliate them, but they would not slaughter them outright.

Indeed, when Omar defeated the Persians and took over Babylonia, he immediately re-instituted the authority of the Reish Galusa to head the Jewish community. As a matter of fact, Omar was so fond of the Reish Galusa ― Bustenai Ben Haninai ― that when he himself decided to marry the daughter of the Persian king, he insisted that Bustenai marry her sister. Thus in a bizarre twist of fate, the Reish Galusa became brother-in-law to the caliph.

(After the death of Bustenai, his sons by an earlier wife sought to delegitimatize his sons by the Persian princess, claiming that she never converted to Judaism. However, this was unlikely as the case of a Reish Galusa marrying a non-Jewish woman without conversion would have caused a furor and public condemnation. Indeed the Gaonim of the day ruled that all his children were legitimate Jews.)

During the long history of Babylonian Jewry, sometimes the Reish Galusa wielded more power, sometimes the Gaonim. Much depended on the political climate and the personalities involved. Generally, however, the position of the Gaon was determined by scholarship, while the position of Reish Galusa was depended on lineage (as the Reish Galusa was traditionally the descendant of King David.)

And it was a dispute over lineage that gave rise to a splinter sect in 8th century Baghdad ― a splinter sect that came to be known as the Karaites.

When Shlomo, the Reish Galusa, died childless in 760, two of his nephews Hananiah and Anan vied for the position. Hananiah got the job and Anan went off to start his own religion.

This is another example of a pattern we have seen previously ― a split among the Jews due to pride and ego. (We saw it, for example, in Part 20 with Rehoboam and Jeroboam.)

The sect that Anan started in some ways was similar to the Sadducees. Like the Sadducees, the Karaites didn't recognize the authority of the Oral Torah and hence they read the Written Torah literally. (Their name, Karaites, comes from the Hebrew verb, kara, meaning "read.")

As we saw earlier, it is impossible to live a Jewish life without the Oral Torah as so much of the Written Torah is not specific enough. Thus, where the Torah commands "and you shall write them [these words] upon the doorposts of your home," how can anyone know which words of the Torah, or indeed, if the entire Torah is to be written on the doorpost? It is the Oral Torah that explains that this passage refers to the words of the Shema prayer, which are to be written on a parchment scroll and then affixed in a specified place and manner on the doorpost. The mezuzah!

As a result of their literal reading of the Torah, the Karaites came to observe Shabbat in total darkness, unable to leave their homes all day except to go to the synagogue. They did away with the observance of Chanukah because it is not mentioned in the Written Torah, as well as with the separation of meat and milk for the same reason. Ironically, because so many statements in the Bible cannot be explained with out the Oral Law, the Karaites had to create their own oral law as a way of translating these statements in the Bible into practical applications.

One might think that this sect would have little appeal but, this was not the case. The Karaites began to attract those Jews who wanted to dismiss the opinions of the rabbis this turned out to be a huge draw. (5)

That is, until the great sage, the Sa'adiah Gaon entered the picture.

Sa'adiah Gaon is famed for his writings, particularly the Book of Belief and Opinions, and for his critiques of the Karaites which made mincemeat of their beliefs. In addition to being the Rosh Yeshiva (The Dean) of the great Yeshiva of Sura, he was one of the greatest Jewish legal and philosophical minds of the period.

His arguments stopped the spread of Karaitism which could have overwhelmed the entire Jewish world. It was so popular at one point that in the 10th century the majority of Jews in the Land of Israel may well have been Karaites.

However, the Karaites never recovered from the assault of Sa'adiah Gaon on the logic of their beliefs. Their numbers shrunk with time, though unlike the Sadducees, they never completely disappeared.

(During the 19th century, in the Russian Empire, the status of the Karites change until eventually they were legally considered to be a religion totally separate from Judaism. During World War II, the large Karaite community in the Crime was spared by the Nazis who also did not consider them to be Jewish.)

Today, there is a small number of Karaites left, living chiefly in Israel, though no one is sure how many as the Karaites forbid census-taking. Their population has been variously estimated at 7,000 all the way up to 40,000. Until recently the Karaites were reputed to be very religious people, and from the outside appear indistinguishable from Orthodox Jews, though they are forbidden to marry other Jews and marry only each other.

When the Sa'adiah Gaon died in 942, the period of the Gaonim of Babylon was almost over. It would officially end in 1038 with the death of Chai Gaon. By then, a great many Jews had left Babylon, following the opportunities that were opening up for them in other parts of the world conquered by Muslims, especially in Spain.



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