A Gold Solidus (Roman Coin) Discovered in Israel. reminds us of History often ignored by Christians

by fulltimestudent 1 Replies latest jw friends

  • fulltimestudent

    Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports the finding of a rare gold coin (a solidus) minted during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius II,

    This Theodosius was an influential Emperor in the Eastern Empire based in Constantinople. He was appointed as a co-emperor (as an infant) by his father in 401 and died in 450.

    In this report, the MAFA quotes numismatic expert Dr. Gabriela Bijovsky's explanation of the coin, “The gold coin is a solidus minted by the emperor Theodosius II in Constantinople (now Istanbul) around 420–423 CE. Similar coins are known from the Eastern Byzantine empire, but this is the first of its type discovered in Israel. One side depicts the image of the emperor and the other shows the image of the Goddess Victory holding the Staff of the Cross.”

    The report also comments on an action by Theodosius that affected Judaism, Quote: “The emperor Theodosius II abolished the post of the ‘Nasi’, the Head of the Sanhedrin Council, and decreed that the Jews’ financial contributions to the Sanhedrin be transferred to the Imperial Treasury.” Amitzur continues, “The Sanhedrin Trail initiated by the IAA, tells the story of the Jewish leadership in the Galilee at the time of the Mishna and the Talmud in the Roman and Byzantine periods. It is symbolic that the gold coin discovered adjacent to the Sanhedrin trail reflects the period of dramatic events when the Sanhedrin ceased to function in the Galilee, and the centre of Jewish life (was) transferred from the Galilee to Babylon.”

    That last point is interesting. and helps us to understand the non-Jewish influences that had influenced Judaism over long centuries, Most people have heard of the so-called 'Babylonian Captivity,' when the Jewish elite were exiled in Babylon, While, for some who were part of that elite, who may have felt as Psalm 137 puts it,

    "By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept. when we remembered Zion. ... How can we sing the songs of the Lord, while in a foreign land?

    The majority buckled down to life in Babylon, and in time a thriving Jewish community came into existence.That explains why Babylon became the centre of Jewish life in the time of Theodosius II. While in Babylon the Jews were influenced by religious concepts such as Zoroastrianism. By 323 BCE, Palestine became part of Alexander the Great's Hellenic Empire and different religious and philosophic concepts began to influence the Jews. Colonies of Greek ex-soldiers were established all over the empire, One was established near to Jerusalem

    Most of us (as witnesses) may never have read Maccabees, but 1 Maccabees 1:14> tells how some Jewish people reacted to Greek ideas.

    "14 So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom, 15 and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil"

    And 2 Maccabees also comments: (ch4 verses 7 to 15)

    During the second century B.C., when the Seleucids under Antiochus Epiphanes tried to convert the Jews to Greek culture, Jason, one of the Jewish high priests, built a gymnasium in Jerusalem. Aristocratic Jewish young men began to frequent the gymnasium and to participate in Greek activities. The pious Jews were shocked at both their nudity, prohibited by Jews, and their practice of wearing the broad-brimmed Greek hats, associated with the worship of the Greek god Hermes. In addition some of the young men became ashamed of and tried to hide their circumcision. These practices were one of the causes for the Maccabean rebellion of 175 B.C.

    The author, is as you can see, is quite hostile to these developments, but we easily get a picture of young people wanting to try new ideas. And like many young people raised as JWs, they have no interest in the boring old ways.

    So even many young levites. serving in the temple, wanted to got to the gym and participate in the various sports naked. But that raised a problem Jews were circumcised and the head of their penis thus exposed. To Greeks it was shameful to expose the head of their penis. They often tied a string or ribbon around their foreskin to prevent exposure of the penis glans. So these young Jews started attempting to increase the length of what remained of their foreskins

    Galilee, also gets a mention in the MAFA note. So Jesus (whoever he may have been) grew up in an area that had become Hellenised. That's why many scholars believe that Jesus probably spoke in greek. Galilee you may recall was a centre where Jesus (according to the Gospels likely written more than 2 decades after the death of Jesus) focused his preaching. Galilee, it is generally thought, was a wealthier area than say the Jerusalem area, and more influenced by Greek culture

    Galilee became the main Jewish centre after Rome ( who had conquered the West Asian area by 64 BCE) defeated Jewish rebels (between 66 C.E. and 136 C.E.) and commenced a policy of excluding Jews from Jerusalem and area.

    The excluded Jews and christians, (most of whom were ethnic Jews) fled as refugees to Galilee, hence the point made by the MAFA report that Jews in Galilee (in the time of Theodosius II) left Galilee and moved to Babylon, which became a centre for Jewish studies.

  • fulltimestudent

    The Israel MAFA report (as above) can be found at: https://mfa.gov.il/mfa/israelexperience/history/pages/1600-year-old-rare-gold-coin-found-by-school-pupils-16-april-2019.aspx?fbclid=IwAR2win1xIsbmsfbJOUixkiIHK8K6rvzYDHP0lDUF7Z1ml5qN0otTrNMxmjc


    Two more actions of Theodosius II may be worth mentioning:

    First, he founded the University of Constantinople. It had 31 departments and taught subjects like aw, philosophy, medicine, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music and rhetoric. (That was in 425 C.E.)

    And, second, he established a commission of inquiry to collate all the laws promulgated in Constantinople since it was established by Constantine and update them as necessary. In 438 C.E. this work was published as the Codex Theodosianus. This collection and the subsequent collation known as the Law Code of EmpeeerorJustinian

    In 429, Theodosius appointed a commission to collect all of the laws since the reign of Constantine I, and create a fully formalized system of law. This plan was left unfinished, but the work of a second commission that met in Constantinople, assigned to collect all of the general legislations and bring them up to date, was completed; their collection was published as the Codex Theodosianus in 438. The law code of Theodosius II, summarizing edicts promulgated since Constantine, formed a basis for the later law code of Emperor Justinian I, ( the Corpus Juris Civilis) help us to understand the transformation of Greek/Roman culture by a layer of laws that governed that society,

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