Thursday, November 09, 2006

Treasures of Darkness

A Monstrous Instrument

(1) Capture by the Philistines

"Within about a hundred and fifty years of Joshua's death, however, a change took place: a close examination of the relevant books of the Old Testament shows that, by this time, the relic was no longer routinely being carried into battle; instead it had been installed (in its Tabernacle) at an important shrine-sanctuary known as Shiloh, where it rested permanently."
- Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal

"Shiloh was first occupied in the period archaeologists call the Middle Bronze Age IIB.
"Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Middle Bronze Age finds is that, already in this period, there appears to have been a shrine at the site."
- Israel Finkelstein, Shiloh: The Archaeology of a Biblical Site (1995), p. 22

(According to the New Chronology the Israelites entered the Promised Land during MB IIB.)

"There is a legend to the effect that any who chanced to enter the Holy of Holies unclean were destroyed by a bolt of Divine fire from the Mercy Seat. If the High Priest had but on selfish thought, he would be struck dead. as no man knows when an unworthy thought may flash through his mind, precautions had to be taken in case the High Priest should be struck dead while in the presence of Jehovah. The other priests could not enter the sanctuary; therefore, when their leader was about to go in and receive the commands of the Lord, they tied a chain around one of his feet so that if he were struck down while behind the veil they could drag the body out."
- Manly P. Hall, Masonic, Hermetic, Quabbalistic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy

"In Ramesses III's reign (1198-1166 BC), the Egyptian Empire faced a major crisis when it was invaded by a league of peoples from the Aegean (the Greek islands) and southern Anatolia (modern Turkey). Known as the sea peoples, they included a group called the Philistines [Peleset]. Ramses pushed them back from the shores of Egypt in a great naval battle, but he could not stop them from settling in Canaan, at the southern end of the coastal strip."
- Bible Lands

Examining the reliefs "on the walls of Medinet Habu - we see that they [the Peleset] had ox-carts and spare ploughing oxen, which are the impedimenta of a slow-moving agricultural people in search of new land to cultivate. These specifications fit northern Syria, Anatolia, even possibly the foothills of the Caucasus, better than the Aegean islands and far-off Greek mainland."
"Of all the Land and Sea Raider of Merneptah's and Ramesses III's wars the Bible knows only the Philistines. This is probably because, by the time the Israelites felt themselves strong enough to attack the plains and coastal cities, in the 10th century, it was the Philistines who were their chief antagonists. They possessed the land to which they have given their name: Palestine."

"They were uncircumcised, but in Biblical times their religion was Canaanite. The very little that can be surmised about their language seems to point to Anatolia [the site of the Hittite empire on the coastal plain what is now Turkey]. Later Philistine rulers have Semitic names, but Luwian [an Indo-European dialect related to Hittite] affinities have been suspected. The Philistine oligarchy, the five lords of the five cities, were known as Seren, which may be related to Neo-Hittite sarawanastarawanas, and, less plausibly, to Greek tyrannos, so too the Philistine Akaish may be a Hurrian name from Cilicia [on the coastal plain south of the Taurus and Amanus mountains], rather than Greek Anchises. In material culture the Philistines were indistinguishable from their neighbors of the 1st millennium. They fought in chariots, and so did their neighbors, only the greaves of Goliath may have come from the Aegean or Cyprus, the rest of his armor could also be Canaanite. The Philistines may have formed nor more than a ruling class soon absorbed by the native population..."

"The style of pottery that has come to be known as 'Philistine' is a hybrid. On one side it owes much to Mycenaean potters, especially to those who originated the LH IIIC of the Argolid 'Close Style'. The shapes of many of the vases, as well as the designs painted on them - antithetic spirals, birds and various paneled patterns - are inspired by Mycenaean originals. On the other hand some shapes are native Levantine, as are the clay; and the matte paint, since Mycenaean paint is lustrous. There is a particular preference for a bird looking backwards, which is very rare in the Aegean, though not altogether absent."
- N. K. Sandars, The Sea Peoples - Warriors of the Ancient Mediterranean 1978, p. 165, 166

"By about 1150 BC, the Egyptians had effectively withdrawn from Canaan, leaving a vacuum to be filled by the Israelites and the Philistines. For nearly 100 years they lived side by side, the Philistines on the coastal plain, the Israelites in the more barren hill country. But during the 11th century BC, the Philistines tried to extend their territory."
- Bible Lands

After a débâcle at "the battle of Ebenezer, at which the Israelites were defeated by the Philistines and four thousand of their men killed, the Ark was carried into the field."
- Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal

The sanctuary at Shiloh was apparently destroyed by the Philistines.

"Israel was smitten, and they fled very man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen. And the Ark of God was taken."
- I Samuel 4:10-11

Upon hearing the news that the Ark had been captured, Eli the High Priest "fell back off his seat...His neck was broken and he died..." His daughter-in-law experienced labor pains and gave birth to a child called Ichabod meaning 'where is the glory?' Given vent to a great cry of grief "she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the Ark of God is taken."
- Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal

"When the Philistines had captured the Ark of God they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Taking the Ark of God, the Philistines put it in the temple of Dagon, setting it down beside [the statue of] Dagon. Next morning the people of Ashdod went to the temple of Dagon and there lay Dagon face down on the ground before the Ark of Yahweh. They picked Dagon up and put him back in his place. But early next morning there lay Dagon face down again upon the ground before the Ark of Yahweh, and Dagon's head and two hands were lying severed on the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left in its place."
- I Samuel 5

"At length God sent a very destructive disease upon the city and country of Ashdod, for they died of the dysentery and flux, a sore distemper that brought death upon them very suddenly; for before the soul could, as usual in early deaths, be well loosed from the body, they brought up their entrails and vomited up what they had eaten..."
- Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews IV 1:1

The plague "is possibly bubonic since mice are carriers of the disease."
- Robert Houston Smith, "The Book of Joshua" in Old Testament History

"The hand of Yahweh weighed heavily on the people of Ashdod and struck terror into them, afflicting them with tumors, in Ashdod and its territory....So they took the Ark of the God of Israel to Gath. But after they had taken it there, the hand of Yahweh lay heavy on that town and a great panic broke out; the people of the town, from youngest to oldest, were struck with tumors that he brought out on them. They then sent the Ark of God to Ekron, but when it came to Ekron the Ekronites shouted, 'They have brought us the Ark of the God of Israel to bring death to us and our people.' They summoned all the Philistine chiefs and said, 'Send the Ark of the God of Israel away; let it not bring death to us and our people' - for there was mortal panic throughout the town; the hand of God was very heavy there. The people who did not die were struck with tumors and the wailing from the town went up to heaven."
- I Samuel 5

"The situation after seven months is critical. The experts - the priests and diviners - are consulted. They recommend its return together with a guilt offering - a kind of payment for infringement on the rights of deity. by sympathetic magic five (for the five city-states; cf. I Samuel 17-18) golden tumors and...mice (symbolizing the plague and its cause) are to effect the deliverance."
- Robert Houston Smith, "The Book of Joshua" in Old Testament History

"...They loaded it [the Ark] onto a 'new cart' hauled by 'two milch kine' and set it rumbling on its way towards Bethshemesh, the nearest point inside Israelite territory."
- Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal

"They of Bethshemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley: and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the Ark, and rejoiced to see it. And the cart came unto the field of Joshua, a Bethshemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and the men of Bethshemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the Lord...[But] he smote the men of Bethshemesh because they had looked into the Ark of the Lord, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men; and the people lamented because the Lord had smitten many of the people with great slaughter." - I Samuel 6:13-14, 19

"Other more recent translations agree that certain men of Bethshemesh were smitten or 'struck down' by the Ark but put the number slain at seventy rather than fifty thousand and seventy - and it is the consensus of modern scholarship that this figure is the correct one."
- Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal

"No one is safe in the presence of the Lord, this holy God. To whom can we send it to be rid of him?"
- I Samuel 6:20

"At this point, suddenly and rather mysteriously, a group of Levitical priests appeared, 'took down the Ark of the Lord', and carried it off - not to its former home at Shiloh but instead to a place called 'Kiriath-Jearim' where it was installed in 'the house of Abinadab on the hill'.
"And on that hill it remained, isolated and guarded, for the next half century or so."
- Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal

(2) Enshrined in Jerusalem

"Archaeology tells us that by about 1000 BC the Philistines were again confined to the coastal plain in the area of their five cities. The wars that the Israelites fought, so the Bible tells us, brought them to nationhood. The biblical battle between Sisera and Barak and Deborah in the Vale of Jezreel, and the great Song of Victory that followed (Judges 5:2-31), considered by many authorities to be among the most ancient Bible passages, tell of the emerging federation and of the diversity of the tribes that followed Jehovah's Law."
- John Romer, Testament

"Faced with this threat [of the Philistines], the Israelites united into one nation under the leadership of first Saul, then David. In about 1000 BC David captured Jerusalem and was proclaimed king of the Israelite nation. He finally defeated the Philistines and expanded Israel's territory."
- Bible Lands

"By David's time, however, the Ark was no longer carried by wooden staves but transported upon a wheeled carriage. It was moved from one temporary place of worship to another..."
- Zecharia Sitchin, When Time Began

"They placed the Ark of God on a new cart and brought it from Abinadab's house which is on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio...were leading the cart. Uzzah walked alongside the Ark of God and Ahio went in front...When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah stretched his hand out to the Ark of God and steadied it, as the oxen were making it tilt. Then the anger of Yahweh blazed out against Uzzah, and for this crime God struck him down on the spot, and he died there beside the Ark of God."
- 2 Samuel 6:3-4; 6-7

"David, who was now King of Israel and wanted to consolidate his authority, was afraid of harboring the Ark in Jerusalem after this incident. "Instead he 'turned aside and carried it to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite'. At that house, while the Jewish monarch waited to see if it would kill anyone else, the Ark of the Covenant remained for three months. No further disasters occurred, however..."
- Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal

"It was told King David, saying, the Lord hath blessed the house of Obed-edom and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the Ark of God. So David went and brought the Ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the City of David with gladness."
- 2 Samuel 6:12

"With great ceremony, he [King David] fetched the Ark of the Covenant that had lain for many years discredited after its ignominious capture and return by the Philistines. Saul had completely ignored this potent sacral symbol; but now David brought it to Jerusalem and installed it in a tented shrine he had prepared for it, dancing and capering with such abandon that his wife was ashamed of him for exposing his genitals to the crowd."
- Magnus Magnusson, BC - The Archaeology of the Bible Lands

"&David and all the house of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumped [and] played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals...and David danced before the Lord with all his might...leaping and dancing before the Lord."
- 2 Samuel 6:5-16

"For historians the most enticing question is raised during David's reign, from 2 Samuel 9 to Solomon's accession (1 King 2, omitting 2 Samuel 20).. This section of the royal narrative is unlike any other. It contains no miracles but is full of intrigues and devious tricks: women are prominent in the action. It reports the private dialogues of persons of high rank; it tells an interconnected story, from the wars against Ammon to the affair of David and Bathsheba, the deaths of two of David's sons and the maneuvers to succeed to his throne."
"During these twenty years or so of David's reign, the main focus is on events at court among David's friends and enemies. As a result, D's source for these chapters has been described as a court history, the work of a near-contemporary with access to court secrets: was the author Nathan the prophet, perhaps, or Abiathar the priest or even (why not?) Bathsheba herself?
- Robin Lane Fox, The Unauthorized Version

"With the triumph of David over the Philistines, the establishment of his rule over Judah and Israel, and the designation of Jerusalem as the political and religious capital of the united kingdom, there arose two important needs. First of all the kingdom needed a 'story' that would explain its existence. In particular, the Judahite Abraham traditions needed to be integrated with the Israelite Jacob traditions, and Judah itself had to be seen as a member of the Israelite association of villages and their 'tribes'. Secondly, an 'apology' for David was needed. He had, after all, been a Philistine vassal, and was arguably related to the royal house of the Ammonites [from east of the Dead Sea]. These needs led to the creation, during the reign of Solomon, of what we might call a first draft of parts of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, the Books and Samuel, and 1 Kings 1-10."
- John Rogerson and Philip Davies, The Old Testament World

(3) The Magical Shamir

"Because Moses had commanded the Israelites not to use 'any tool of iron' in the construction of holy places, Solomon had ordered that no hammers, axes or chisels should be used to cut and dress the many massive stone blocks from which the outer walls and courtyard of the Temple had been built. Instead he had provided the artificers with an ancient device, dating back to the time of Moses himself. This device was called the shamir and was capable of cutting the toughest of materials without friction or heat. Also known as 'the stone that splits rocks'..."
- Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal

"The shamir may not be put in an iron vessel for safekeeping, nor in any metal vessel; it would burst such a receptacle asunder. It is kept wrapped up in a woolen cloth, and this in turn is placed in a lead basket filled with barley bran...With the destruction of the Temple the shamir vanished."
- Louis Ginzberg, The Legend of the Jews

Remarkable Vestments of the High Priest

"Over the specially woven white linen robe the High Priest wore a seamless and sleeveless habit, sky-blue in color and reaching nearly to his feet. This was called the Meeir and was ornamented with a fringe of alternated golden bells and pomegranates....The Meeir was also bound in with a variegated girdle finely embroidered and with gold wire inserted through the embroidery.
"The Ephod, a short vestment described by Josephus as resembling a coat or jacket, was worn over the upper part of the Meeir. The thread of which the Ephod was woven were of many colors, probably red, blue, purple and white, like the curtains and coverings of the Tabernacle. Fine gold wires were also woven into the fabric. The Ephod was fastened at each shoulder with a large onyx in the form of a button, and the names of the twelve sons of Jacob were engraven upon these two stones, six on each. The onyx buttons were supposed to have oracular powers, and when the High Priest asked certain questions, they emitted a celestial radiance. When the onyx on the right shoulder was illuminated, it signified that Jehovah answered the question of the High Priest in the affirmative, and when the one on the left gleamed, it indicated a negative answer to the query."

The breastplate was "a square tablet or pouch attached to the Ephod. It too was made of gold and a mixture of wool and linen. It was inlaid with twelve precious stones engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel."
- Notes on the Zohar (Daniel Chana Matt Editor)

"In the middle of the front surface of the Ephod was a space to accommodate the Essen, or Breastplate of Righteousness and Prophecy, which, as its name signifies, was also an oracle of great power. This pectoral was roughly square in shape and consisted of a frame of embroidery into which were set twelve stones, each held in a socket of gold. Because of the great weight of its stones, each of which was of considerable size and immense value, the breastplate was held in position by special golden chains and ribbons. The twelve stones of the breastplate, like the onyx stones at the shoulders of the Ephod, has the mysterious power of lighting up with Divine glory and so serving as oracles."
- Manly P. Hall, Masonic, Hermetic, Quabbalistic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy

"For as to those stones, which we told you before, the high priest bare on his shoulders, which were sardonyxes...One of them shined out when God was present at their sacrifices; I mean, that which was in the nature of a button on his right shoulder, bright rays darting out thence, and being seen even by those that were most remote; which splendor was not before natural to the stone."
"Yet will I mention what is still more wonderful than this: For God declared beforehand, by those twelve stones which the High Priest bare upon his breast and which were inserted into his breastplate, when they should be victorious in battle, for so great a splendor shone forth from them before the army began to march, that all the people were sensible of God's being present for their assistance. Whence it came to pass that those Greeks, who had a veneration for our laws, because they could not possibly contradict this, called the breastplate, 'the Oracle'."
- Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews III 8:9

"The writer then adds that the stones ceased to light up and gleam some two hundred years before he wrote his history, because the Jews had broken the laws of Jehovah and the God of Israel was no longer pleased with His chosen people."
- Manly P. Hall, Masonic, Hermetic, Quabbalistic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy

"Whiston, the translator of Josephus, adds a footnote here stating that this failure of the breastplate occurred in the days of John Hyrcanus, the last good High Priest of the family of the Maccabees [about 100 BC]."
- George Sassoon and Rodney Dale, The Manna Machine

"In the reverse side of the Essen, or breastplate, was a pocket containing mysterious objects - the Urim and Thummin. Aside from the fact that they were used in divination, little is now known about these objects. some writers contend that they were small stones (resembling the fetishes still revered by certain aboriginal people) which the Israelites had brought with them out of Egypt because of their belief that they possessed divine power. Others believe that the Urim and Thummin were in the form of dice, used for deciding events by being cast upon the ground. A few have maintained that they were merely sacred names, written on plates of gold and carried as talismans."
- Manly P. Hall, Masonic, Hermetic, Quabbalistic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy

"According to some, the Urim and the Thummin signify 'lights and perfections', or 'light and truth' which last present a striking analogy to the two figures of Re (Ra) and Themi in the breastplate worn by the Egyptians."
- Gardner, Faiths of the World

"By prophesying, when spoke of a high priest, Josephus means no more than consulting God by Urim...This was revealed to the high priest by an extraordinary voice from between the cherubim, when he had his breastplate, or Urim and Thummim..."
- William Whiston, footnote in Josephus' Antiquities of the JewsV 2:1

"Not the least remarkable of the vestments of the High Priest was his bonnet, or headdress. Over the plain white cap of the ordinary priest this dignitary wore an outer cloth of blue and a crown of gold, the crown consisting of three bands, one above the other like the triple miter of the Persian Magi. This crown symbolized that the High Priest was ruler not only over the three worlds which the ancients had differentiated (heaven, earth, and hell), but also over the threefold divisions of man and the universe - the spiritual, intellectual, and material worlds. These divisions were also symbolized by the three apartments of the Tabernacle itself. At the peak of the headdress was a tiny cup of gold, made in the form of a flower. This signified that the nature of the priest was receptive and that he had a vessel in his own soul which, cuplike, was capable of catching the eternal waters of life pouring upon him from the heavens above. This flower over the crown of this head is similar in its esoteric meaning to the rose growing out of a skull, so famous in Templar symbology. The ancients believed the spiritual nature escaping from the body passed upward through the crown of the head; therefore, the flowerlike calyx, or cup, symbolized also the spiritual consciousness. On the front of the golden crown were inscribed in Hebrew, Holiness unto the Lord.

"Though robes and ornaments augmented the respect and veneration of the Israelites for their High Priest, such trappings meant nothing to Jehovah. Therefore, before entering the Holy of Holies, the High Priest removed his earthly finery and entered into the presence of the Lord God of Israel unclothed. There he could be robed only in how own virtues, and his spirituality must adorn him as a garment."
- Manly P. Hall, Masonic, Hermetic, Quabbalistic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy

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