Thursday, 23 September 2021

Edmonton's "Christian" university holds a silent online auction

Bold, links in original:

The King's University in Edmonton, Alberta

The King's University is Edmonton's Christian University and serves students and communities across Western Canada and internationally. Its campus is located in Alberta's young and vibrant capital and sits on Treaty Six territory, the traditional home of many Indigenous peoples.
The world can be studied best when acknowledged that it was created by and belongs to God. Come to King's and you'll see friendly, welcoming faces. We do our best to reflect Christ's love and grace to all students. The university receives top rankings and recognition on national surveys for student-faculty engagement, a supportive campus, and quality of teaching. It's no wonder King's boasts of a 98% post-grad employment rate!

Anyone who thinks that The King's University is Christian simply isn't paying attention; submitted for your approval, the university's silent online auction:

About Our Auction

We are excited to once again host our annual silent auction online to raise funds for student scholarships at The King's University! All auction items have been donated by generous donors, so all funds raised from this auction ill support student scholarships at The King's University!

Last year, we raised over $11,000 for student scholarships and this year we would like to reach higher with the goal of $35,000! With the support of our generous donors and sponsors, you can make a King's education more accessible to our hardworking students! We know you will be able to enjoy winning these wonderful auction items, so please bid generously!

Once again, we are holding our Harvest Banquet online for all to attend for free! Please register so you can receive the link to the livestream and plan to join us on October 2 @ 7:00 PM:

The auction includes the following distinctively Christian items; there's still time to bid on them as of the publication of this post, although I doubt any real Christians will be interested.

$150 iava wellness Gift Certificate

Item Description

$150 Gift Certificate for services at Iava Wellness, located near King's on 50th St in Edmonton, AB.
Value: $150.00 CAD
Ends: Oct 3, 2021 - 1:00pm MDT

And what does Iava Wellness practice? Acupuncture; Massage; Access Bars; Subconscious Imprinting Technique (S.I.T.); and Reiki.

1 Hour Restorative Yoga
in person at Iava Wellness or online via Zoom
Value: $50.00 CAD
Ends: Oct 3, 2021 - 1:00pm MDT

Item Description

The winning bidder on this item will have their choice of attending an in-person yoga class with Ting Elger at Iava Wellness (near King's in Edmonton) OR a private Zoom Yoga lesson with up to 5 friends.

This 60 minute foundational Yoga class is designed to center and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the "rest and digest". Beginning with comfortable sitting pose followed by easy pranayama breathing technique. This gentle sequence will incorporate arm and upper body movements in a very slow and repetitive manner until there is some calming flow and rhythm. Depending on the class- will progress to sun salutation and standing poses then cooling down to more restorative shapes near the end. This is open to beginner up to advance practitioners and open to requests, modifications and substitutions.

Ting works at King's Development Department. She is a registered Yoga Teacher for adults, children and family. She also loves to paint abstract florals, write little poems, brew kombucha and concocts essential oils & herbs :) . She is a strong believer in radical self care which may look like going for a quick walk or simply taking a deep, relaxing breath. She presently teaches a yoga workshop #SELFLOVE in Iava Wellness.

AlleyKat Brewery Tour & Specialty Glassware
Value: $50.00 CAD
Ends: Oct 3, 2021 - 1:00pm MDT

Item Description

This Alley Kat Brewery package is perfect for any beer fan in your life. Containing two Alley Kat beer glasses and two sets of brewery tour tickets, purchase this basket to learn how Alley Kat makes their beer, and maybe try some along the way!

There are 2 brewery tour passes for 2 people each, so take up to four people on a great night out.

Blindman Brewing Merchandise
Zip Up Hooded Sweatshirt & Brumate Hopsulator Trio
Value: $75.00 CAD
Ends: Oct 3, 2021 - 1:00pm MDT

Item Description

This listing is for a Blindman Brewing Zip Up Hooded Sweatshirt and a Brumate Glitter Rose Gold Hopsulator Trio

The package includes:

1. Hoodie (XL: can replace for different sizing if need be)

2. Brumate Glitter Rose Gold Hopsulator Trio

3. Blindman Brewery Stickers

Fort Distillery Canadian Boreal Gin
Value: $35.00 CAD
Ends: Oct 3, 2021 - 1:00pm MDT

Item Description

Canadian Boreal Gin is our vibrant take on a pink gin, using haskap berries and local honey for a bright, berry forward, warm & spicy tasting experience, with a honey cinnamon nose, and floral finish. Named for the iconic Canadian Boreal forest, and the spectacular Aurora Borealis, and inspired by the ingredients of Northern Canada and the people who grow them. Raw honey, haskap berries, and organic botanicals, all grown in Northern Alberta, produce a truly Canadian gin.

This item is not eligible for shipping. Winning bidder over of the age of majority must pick up the item at The King's University.

The preceding item is also available here.

Fort Distillery Classic Old Fashioned
Ready to Serve Cocktail - 750 mL
Value: $35.00 CAD
Ends: Oct 3, 2021 - 1:00pm MDT

Item Description

Our exclusive bourbon blend pairs with mellow demerara sugar and Alberta made bitters for the perfect Old-Fashioned. There’s a reason the Old-Fashioned is called such, as one of the earliest cocktail concoctions developed, and our version is just as delicious, and even simpler to execute. Enjoy the fine and balanced complexity of this traditional favourite, anytime, anywhere.

This item is not eligible for shipping. Winning bidder over of the age of majority must pick up the item at The King's University.

The preceding item is also available here.

Wine Tasting Evening
with Ralph & Angela Troschke
Value: $450.00 CAD
Ends: Oct 3, 2021 - 1:00pm MDT

Item Description

Wine Tasting Experience with King’s VP Finance, Ralph Troschke and his beautiful wife and King’s student life staff, Angela.

Angela and Ralph have been hosting wine tastings for 29 years. They have hosted over 100 tastings and have been wine judges at fall fairs as well. Ralph was once invited to participate as a finalist in the Canadian national amateur wine tasting championship. They would love to host a wine tasting in your Edmonton area home for 8-10 people.

Our tasting is a fun-filled classroom experience where we will focus on how to taste/evaluate wine and draw comparisons between wines. It is guaranteed to be social and get louder as the evening rolls along.

The evening will consist of:

A 2.5-hour show with one flight of red and one flight of white wines for 8-10 people

4 samples per person of white wine, choice of Chardonnay or Riesling

4 samples per person of red wine, choice of Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir

Ralph & Angela kindly request that the winning bidder schedule their wine tasting by June 30, 2022.

Indigenous Cultural Items
from Nordegg, AB
Value: $316.00 CAD
Ends: Oct 3, 2021 - 1:00pm MD

Item Description

Gourd container with dream catcher. Handmade and signed

Talking Stick: handmade with selenite & amethyst beads. Wood burning decoration, "All is possible to those who believe"

Abalone shell, to be used as part of the traditional smudging ritual, said to enhance feelings of peace, compassion, and love.

Smudging feather, handmade with deer hide, glass beads & a wild turkey feather.

Sweet grass. Sweetgrass is one of the main herbs used by Native people. It is often part of the medicine used when smudging along with sage and cedar. Just as sage is used to clear negativity, to cleanse, sweetgrass is used to bring positivity.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

140 years ago: U.S. President James A. Garfield dies after being shot by a pseudo-Christian utopian socialist

On September 19, 1881, James A. Garfield, 20th President of the United States of America, died at the age of 49. He had been shot in the back on July 2 at a train station in Washington. His wound was probably survivable, and it's been speculated that his death resulted not so much from the wound as from infection caused by poking and prodding by his doctors with unwashed hands using unsterilized instruments in an effort to find the bullet.

Mr. Garfield had taken office on March 4 and had made civil service reform a priority of his presidency. The assassin, Charles Guiteau, was an unsuccessful lawyer from Chicago who has been largely passed over in the history books as simply a deranged office-seeker. However, the history books have overlooked, as Paul Harvey would say, "The rest of the story."

Charles Guiteau, the fourth of six children, was born on September 8, 1841 in Freeport, Illinois and moved with his family to Ulao, Wisconsin in 1850, moving back to Freeport with his father after his mother died in 1855. He failed the entrance examinations for the University of Michigan, and abandoned remedial studies.

Mr. Guiteau's father Luther was closely affiliated with the Oneida Community in Oneida, New York. The United States of the mid-19th century contained a number of utopian sects, and the Oneida Community, founded by John Humphrey Noyes in 1848, was one of them. Mr. Noyes was influenced by the preaching of Charles G. Finney, the "Father of American revivalism," and underwent a religious conversion at the age of 20 in 1831; he claimed to be a Christian, but eventually embraced the unbiblical doctrine that believers can attain sinless perfection in this life. He studied at Dartmouth College, Andover Theological Seminary, and Yale Theological College, and while at Yale, came to the conclusion that the second coming of Christ had occurred in A.D. 70 and that "mankind was now living in a new age."

Mr. Noyes was a Perfectionist--he believed that it was possible for man to be free from sin in this lifetime--and on February 20, 1834, he declared himself perfect and free from sin. Mr. Noyes' declaration provoked outrage from Yale Theological College, and he was expelled and stripped of his recently-earned license to preach. Mr. Noyes returned home to Putney, Vermont, where he continued to preach his Perfectionist doctrines. In 1847 he was arrested for adultery, and he and some followers fled to Oneida, where he established a community in 1848, raising canned fruits and vegetables, and achieving success in various industries, including the silverware trade. The Oneida Community, which practiced communalism, complex marriage, male sexual continence, and mutual criticism, grew to over 300 members by 1878, and had branches in other locales.

Charles Guiteau joined the Oneida Community in June 1860 at the age of 18, and expressed perfect confidence in Mr. Noyes and his teachings. Despite the community's practice of group marriage, Mr. Guiteau was generally rejected by women during his five years there. He left twice, returning once and then leaving for good, filing several lawsuits against Mr. Noyes, demanding payment for work he had done on behalf of the community. Mr. Guiteau studied law, but failed in a brief career as a lawyer and at several other jobs. He met and married librarian Annie Bunn in 1869, but was abusive to her. Mr. Guiteau eventually reinvented himself as a theologian, although his writing on the subject was largely plagiarized from Mr. Noyes. He was increasingly convinced that his actions--which included defrauding clients--were divinely inspired, but by 1875 Luther Guiteau was convinced that his son was possessed by Satan.

Charles Guiteau turned his interest to politics, originally supporting former President U.S. Grant for the 1880 U.S. Republican Party presidential nomination, and then supporting Mr. Garfield after the latter won the nomination. Mr. Guiteau believed his support had been crucial to Mr. Garfield's electoral victory, and made repeated personal requests--always rebuffed--for a consulship in Paris. By July 2, 1881, Mr. Guiteau was convinced that God wanted Mr. Garfield "removed."

In contrast to today, justice was swift in 1881. On October 14, Mr. Guiteau was charged with murder. His trial began on November 17; a plea of temporary insanity was unsuccessful, and he was convicted on January 25, 1882 and sentenced to death. On June 1, he composed a lengthy poem claiming that God had commanded him to kill President Garfield in order to prevent Secretary James G. Blaine’s "scheming" to war with Chile and Peru. Mr. Guiteau also accused Chester Arthur, who had succeeded Mr. Garfield as President, of the "basest ingratitude" for not pardoning him when he knew that the death of Mr. Garfield had saved the United States.

Mr. Guiteau was hanged in Washington, D.C. on June 30, 1882 at the age of 40. While on the scaffold, he recited a poem he had composed titled I am Going to the Lordy.

Monday, 9 August 2021

Evidence of earthquake from the time of King Uzziah discovered in Jerusalem

The storage vessels after restoration (Dafna Gazit/Israel Antiquities Authority)

As reported by All Israel News, August 5, 2021:

“On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.” Zechariah 14:4-6

“The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa—the vision he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel.” Amos 1:1

A recent archaeological find in Jerusalem is evidence that a massive earthquake 2,800 years ago that shook the land of Israel also affected Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced.

While archaeologists have found evidence of the earthquake in other locations in Israel – such as Hazor, Gezer, Tel Agol and Tell es-Safi/Gath – this is the first time they found any in Jerusalem.

“Now, the latest excavations we conducted in the City of David indicate that the earthquake probably hit Jerusalem as well,” the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement.

Jerusalem was the capital of Judah at the time. Some 200 years after the quake, Jerusalem fell to Babylon.

That’s why researchers were surprised to uncover a “layer of destruction” and identified “a row of shattered vessels, including bowls, lamps, cooking utensils, storage and storage jars, which were smashed as the building's walls collapsed.”

Those items would likely have been seized or destroyed by fire by the Babylonians had they not been buried. The researchers determined that with no evidence of fire, the building’s collapse was probably caused by the earthquake.

“When we excavated the structure and uncovered an 8th century BCE layer of destruction, we were very surprised, because we know that Jerusalem continued to exist in succession until the Babylonian destruction, which occurred about 200 years later,” said Joe Uziel and Ortal Chalaf, excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“We asked ourselves what could have caused that dramatic layer of destruction we uncovered. Examining the excavation findings, we tried to check if there is a reference to it in the biblical text. Interestingly, the earthquake that appears in the Bible in the books of Amos and Zechariah, occurred at the time when the building we excavated in the City of David collapsed,” they explained. “The combination of the finds in the field together with the biblical description, led us to the conclusion that the earthquake that struck the Land of Israel during the reign of Uzziah king of Judah, also hit the capital of the kingdom – Jerusalem.”

The researchers said this earthquake was probably one of the strongest and most damaging earthquakes in ancient times.

The evidence will be on display next month at the City of David National Park during the annual archaeological conference of the Megalim Institute, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday.
As reported by Israel365 News, August 4, 2021 (link in original):

...Earthquakes in the Bible [are] also used as an example of divine wrath.

And the Valley in the Hills shall be stopped up, for the Valley of the Hills shall reach only to Azal; it shall be stopped up as it was stopped up as a result of the earthquake in the days of King Uzziyahu of Yehuda.—And Hashem my God, with all the holy beings, will come to you. Zechariah 14:5

According to the researchers: “The earthquake that occurred in the middle of the 8th century BCE was probably one of the strongest and most damaging earthquakes in ancient times, and evidence of its occurrence has been discovered in the past in excavations conducted at a variety of sites throughout Israel, such as Hazor, Gezer, Tel Agol, and Tell es-Safi/Gath.

Earthquake debris have been discovered at six sites (Hazor, Deir ‘Alla, Gezer, Lachish, Tell Judeideh, and ‘En Haseva”). The debris is tightly confined stratigraphically to the middle of the 8th century BCE. The latest excavations we conducted in the City of David indicate that the earthquake probably hit Jerusalem as well.

It should be noted that this threat of an earthquake was still strong in the public mind 230 years after the earthquake in the days of Amos.

After the gigantic earthquake, no Hebrew prophet could predict a divine visitation in judgment without alluding to an earthquake. Just a few years after the earthquake, Isaiah described an end-of-days seismic event.

And they shall enter the clefts in the rocks And the crevices in the cliffs, Before the terror of Hashem And His dread majesty, When He comes forth to overawe the earth. Isaiah 2:21

A seismic event in Jerusalem is prophesied to be an essential part of the Messianic process that will result in the Third Temple.

The doorposts would shake at the sound of the one who called, and the House kept filling with smoke. Isaiah 6:4

Monday, 12 July 2021

Israeli archaeologists discover inscription from the time of the Judges, bearing the name "Jerubbaal"

As reported by Israel365 News, July 12, 2021:

Jerubbaal inscription (Dafna Gazit, Israel Antiquities Authority)

For the first time: an inscription from the time of the biblical Judges and relating to the Book of Judges has been recovered from excavations at Khirbat er-Ra‘i, near Qiryat Gat. The rare inscription bears the name ‘Jerubbaal’ in alphabetic script and dates from around 1,100 BCE. It was written in ink on a pottery vessel and found inside a storage pit that was dug into the ground and lined with stones.

The site, which is located at the Shahariya forest of the KKL-JNF, has been excavated every summer since 2015 and the current excavation season is its seventh. The excavations are being conducted on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority, and Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, under the direction of Prof. Yossef Garfinkel, Sa‘ar Ganor, Dr. Kyle Keimer and Dr. Gil Davies. The program is funded by Joseph B. Silver and the Nathan and Lily Silver Foundation, the Roth Families Sydney, Aron Levy, and the Roger and Susan Hartog Center for Archaeology at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology.

The inscription was written in ink on a jug – a small personal pottery vessel that holds approximately one liter, and may well have contained a precious liquid such as oil, perfume or medicine. Apparently, much like today, the vessel’s owner wrote his name on it to assert his ownership.

The inscription has been deciphered by epigraphic expert Christopher Rolston of George Washington University, Washington DC. It clearly shows the letters yod (broken at the top), resh, bet, ayin, lamed, and remnants of other letters indicate that the original inscription was longer.

Prof. Garfinkel and Ganor explain, “The name Jerubbaal is familiar from biblical tradition in the Book of Judges as an alternative name for the judge Gideon ben Yoash. Gideon is first mentioned as combatting idolatry by breaking the altar to Baal and cutting down the Asherah pole. In biblical tradition, he is then remembered as triumphing over the Midianites, who used to cross over the Jordan to plunder agricultural crops. According to the Bible, Gideon organized a small army of 300 soldiers and attacked the Midianites by night near Ma‘ayan Harod. In view of the geographical distance between the Shephelah and the Jezreel Valley, this inscription may refer to another Jerubbaal and not the Gideon of biblical tradition, although the possibility cannot be ruled out that the jug belonged to the judge Gideon. In any event, the name Jerubbaal was evidently in common usage at the time of the biblical Judges.”

Inscriptions from the period of the Judges are extremely rare and almost unparalleled in Israeli archaeology. Only a handful of inscriptions found in the past bear a number of unrelated letters. This is the first time that the name Jerubbaal has ever been found outside the Bible in an archaeological context – in a stratum dated to around 1,100 BCE, the period of the Judges.

“As we know, there is considerable debate as to whether biblical tradition reflects reality and whether it is faithful to historical memories from the days of the Judges and the days of David,” say the archaeologists. “The name Jerubbaal only appears in the Bible in the period of the Judges, yet now it has also been discovered in an archaeological context, in a stratum dating from this period. In a similar manner, the name Ishbaal, which is only mentioned in the Bible during the monarchy of King David, has been found in strata dated to that period at the site of Khirbat Qeiyafa. The fact that identical names are mentioned in the Bible and also found in inscriptions recovered from archaeological excavations shows that memories were preserved and passed down through the generations.”

The Jerubbaal inscription also contributes to our understanding of the spread of alphabetic script in the transition from the Canaanite period to the Israelite period. The alphabet was developed by the Canaanites under Egyptian influence in around 1,800 BCE, during the Middle Bronze Age. In the Late Bronze Age (1,550–1,150 BCE), only a few such inscriptions are known of in Israel, most from Tel Lachish near present-day Moshav Lachish. The Canaanite city of Lachish was probably the center where the tradition of writing the alphabet was maintained and preserved. Canaanite Lachish was destroyed in around 1,150 BCE and remained abandoned for about two centuries. Until now, there was considerable uncertainty as to where the tradition of alphabetic script was preserved after the fall of Lachish.

The newly-discovered inscription shows that the script was preserved at Khirbat er-Ra‘i — roughly 4 km from Lachish and the largest site in the area at the time of the Judges — during the transition from the Canaanite to the Israelite and Judahite cultures. Additional inscriptions, from the time of the monarchy (tenth century BCE onwards), have been found in the Shephelah, including two from Khirbat Qeiyafa and others from Tel es-Safi (Tel Tzafit) and Tel Bet Shemesh.

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

"Christians," Muslims, and Jews open House of One in Berlin

Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Amos 3:3

The Antichrist's agenda continues to advance on schedule; as reported by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz of Israel365 News, June 29, 2021 (links in original):

Last month, a rabbi, imam, and priest laid the cornerstone for the House of One, a multi-faith prayer space built on top of the ruins of the 13th century Petrikirche (St. Peter’s Church) in Berlin. The original church was damaged in WWII and torn down by the Communist regime in 1964. During the ceremony, a Jewish prayer book, a piece of cloth from the Kaaba in Mecca, a miniature of the Coventry Cross of Nails (symbol of peace and reconciliation), and a copy of the document naming the provost of what was then St. Peter’s Church as the first citizen of Berlin in 1237 were placed in a copper capsule and enclosed in the cornerstone.

Ten years of planning went into the project and it is estimated that construction will require €47 million and be completed in four years. The final building will include a mosque, synagogue, and a church linked to a central meeting space. The central hall will also be used for gatherings of other faiths and atheists.

“The idea is pretty simple,” said Roland Stolte, a Christian theologian who helped start the project. “We wanted to build a house of prayer and learning, where these three religions could co-exist while each retaining their own identity.”

The three religions will be represented by Imam Kadir Sanci, Rabbi Andreas Nachama, and Father Gregor Hohberg, a Protestant priest. Rabbi Nachama, a rabbi organizing the project, said that Christians, Muslims, and Jews would worship separately, but would visit each other for religious holidays, commemorations, and celebrations.

Roland Stolte, a Christian theologian who helped start the project, noted that there were concerns from the public.

“In the first few years there were some fears that we were mixing religions or trying to create a new religion, Stolte told the Guardian.”

Despite the fears, the concept of universal prayer has its roots in the Bible and is explicitly described by the Prophet Zechariah:

And Hashem shall be king over all the earth; in that day there shall be one Hashem with one name. Zechariah 14:9

This concept of multiple religions worshipping God together is further described in prophecy as the basis for the Third Temple in Jerusalem:

I will bring them to My sacred mount And let them rejoice in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices Shall be welcome on My mizbayach; For My House shall be called A house of prayer for all peoples.” Isaiah 56:7

This vision is shared by Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein, founder and director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute. Rabbi Goshen-Gottstein is planning a similar project in Jerusalem named the Center for HOPE (an acronym for ‘House of Prayer and Education’). He approved of the project while noting that Jerusalem has a special role to play in this Biblical vision.

“Berlin may have some negative historical connotations for some people but as a city, it symbolizes reconciliation and becoming whole again,” the rabbi said.

“The Biblical prophecy of God’s name being one does not mean everyone converting to one religion,” the rabbi said. “It will be more like each religion going through an internal conversion that will bring us all together to serve God.”

Rabbi Goshen-Gottstein sees prayer as playing a vital role in this process.

“We want to change the image of religion from one of competition to one that brings us together with all people turning to one God,” Rabbi Goshen-Gottstein said. “It is a very simple thing. Each religion prays in the presence of the other in parallel prayer spaces, affirming the presence of the other, indicating a willingness to live together in peace.”
As reported by the English newspaper The Guardian, February 21, 2021 (link in original):

On the site of a church torn down by East Germany’s communist rulers, a new place of worship is set to rise that will bring Christians, Jews and Muslims under one roof – and it has already been dubbed a “churmosquagogue”.

The foundation stone of the House of One in Berlin will be laid at a ceremony on 27 May, marking the end of 10 years of planning and the beginning of an estimated four years of construction, and symbolising a new venture in interfaith cooperation and dialogue. The €47m building, designed by Berlin architects Kuehn Malvezzi, will incorporate a church, a mosque and a synagogue linked to a central meeting space. People of other faiths and denominations, and those of no faith, will be invited to events and discussions in the large hall.

“The idea is pretty simple,” said Roland Stolte, a Christian theologian who helped start the project. “We wanted to build a house of prayer and learning, where these three religions could co-exist while each retaining their own identity.”

Andreas Nachama, a rabbi who is turning the vision into reality in partnership with a pastor and imam, said: “There are many different ways to God, and each is a good way.” In the House of One, Christians, Muslims and Jews would worship separately, but would visit each other for religious holidays, commemorations and celebrations, he added.

“It is more than a symbol. It is the start of a new era where we show there is no hate between us.”

The House of One will be built on the site of St Peter’s church in Petriplatz, which was damaged during the second world war and demolished in 1964 by the GDR authorities. When the foundations of the church were uncovered more than a decade ago, consideration was given to a memorial or a new church on the site. “But we wanted to create a new kind of sacred building that mirrors Berlin today,” said Stolte. “The initiators are acting as placeholders. This is not a club for monotheistic religions – we want others to join us.”

The federal government and the state of Berlin have between them contributed €30m to the cost of the project, with another €9m coming from donations and fundraising. A new drive for contributions, launched in December, is expected to fill the gap of nearly €8m.

The project has been generally supported by faith communities and the public, said Stolte, although “in the first few years there were some fears that we were mixing religions or trying to create a new religion”.

The inclusion in the planning of people of no faith was a very important aspect of the House of One project, he said. “East Berlin is a very secular place. Religious institutions have to find new language and ways to be relevant, and to make connections.”
The leaders of the House of One aren't even united on who God is, and they're deceived if they think this edifice is anything other than an abomination to the God of the Bible. The rabbis quoted in the above articles are especially deceived; like those in the time of Jesus, they don't know the scriptures. The complete text of Isaiah 56:7 reads:

Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

The phrase "holy mountain," which appears seven times in the book of Isaiah and several times elsewhere in the Old Testament, always refers to Jerusalem. This is particularly clear in Isaiah 66:20:

And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord.

Thursday, 24 June 2021

New Homo species discovered in Israel

The perceptive reader will notice at least a couple of things: every time a discovery such as that mentioned below takes place, the scientists have to revise all of their theories; and how little fossil evidence there is on which the theories and revisions are based. As reported by Judy Siegel-Itzkovich of Israel365 News, June 24, 2021:

Ramla, a mixed city of 80,000 people (three-quarters of them Jewish) near Ben-Gurion Airport, in the central district of Israel, is not known for making much news. Founded in the early 8th century CE by the Umayyad prince Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik as the capital of Jund Filastin, the district he governed becoming caliph in 715, did have strategic and economic value because of its location at an intersection connecting Cairo with Damascus and the road connecting the Mediterranean port of Jaffa with Jerusalem. And it did suffer severe damage from earthquakes in 1033, 1068, 1070, 1546 and 1927.

But now Ramle is now definitely making the headlines because the bones of an early human (hominid) – until now unknown to science that lived in the Levant at least until 130,000 years ago – were discovered in excavations at the Nesher Ramla site, near the city. According to common practice, the new Homo fossil was named after the site where it was discovered – the Nesher Ramla Homo type. The find is considered one of the most important anthropological discoveries in the past century. Human evolution, the researchers said, is much more complicated than believed until now.

Recognizing similarity to other archaic Homo specimens from 400,000 years ago that were found in Israel and Eurasia, researchers from Tel Aviv University (TAU) and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI) reached the conclusion that the Nesher Ramla fossils represent a unique Middle Pleistocene population that has now been identified for the first time.

According to the researchers, the morphology (form and structure) of the Nesher Ramla humans shares features with both Neanderthals (especially the teeth and jaws) and archaic Homo (specifically the skull). At the same time, this type of Homo is very unlike modern humans – displaying a completely different skull structure, no chin and very large teeth.

The teams shared their find with a team of dating specialists from France (CNRS, Université Bordeaux Montaigne, National Museum of Natural History in Paris and Université Paris-Saclay) who dated them to 120,000 years ago, when Homo sapiens and Neanderthals were the only known human species roaming about Africa, Europe and the Near East.

The discovery of a new Homo group in this region, which resembles pre-Neanderthal populations in Europe, challenges the prevailing hypothesis that Neanderthals originated from Europe. This suggests that at least some of the Neanderthals’ ancestors actually came from the Levant.

Following the study’s findings, researchers believe that the Nesher Ramla Homo type is the ‘source’ population from which most humans of the Middle Pleistocene developed. In addition, they suggest that this group is the so-called ‘missing’ population that mated with Homo sapiens who arrived in the region around 200,000 years ago – about whom we know from a recent study on fossils found in the Misliya cave.

The new finding indicates that two types of Homo groups lived side by side in the Levant for more than 100,000 years (200,000 to 100,000 years ago), sharing knowledge and tool technologies. These were the Nesher Ramla people who lived in the region from around 400,000 years ago and the Homo sapiens who arrived later, some 200,000 years ago.

The researchers claim that at least some of the later Homo fossils found previously in Israel, like those unearthed in the Skhul and Qafzeh caves, do not belong to archaic (early) Homo sapiens, but rather to groups of mixed Homo sapiens and Nesher Ramla lineage...

...The TAU anthropology team was headed by Prof. Israel Hershkovitz, Dr. Hila May and Dr. Rachel Sarig from the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Dan David Center for Human Evolution and Biohistory Research and the Shmunis Family Anthropology Institute, situated in TAU’s Steinhardt Museum. An archaeological team at HUJI was led by Dr. Yossi Zaidner from its Institute of Archaeology...

...“This is an extraordinary discovery,” enthused Zaidner. “We had never imagined that alongside Homo sapiens, archaic Homo roamed the area so late in human history. The archaeological finds associated with human fossils show that “Nesher Ramla Homo” possessed advanced stone-tool production technologies and most likely interacted with the local Homo sapiens..."

... According to Dr. May, despite the absence of DNA in these fossils, the findings from Nesher Ramla offer a solution to a great mystery in the evolution of Homo: How did genes of Homo sapiens penetrate the Neanderthal population that presumably lived in Europe long before the arrival of Homo sapiens?

Geneticists who studied the DNA of European Neanderthals have previously suggested the existence of a Neanderthal-like population which they called the ‘missing population’ or the ‘X population’ that had mated with Homo sapiens more than 200,000 years ago, she said. The new Israeli anthropological paper suggests that the Nesher Ramla Homo type might represent this population, heretofore missing from the record of human fossils.

Moreover, the researchers propose that the humans from Nesher Ramla are not the only ones of their kind discovered in the region and that some human fossils found previously in Israel, which have baffled anthropologists for years – like the fossils from the Tabun cave (160,000 years ago), Zuttiyeh cave (250,000), and Qesem cave (400,000) – belong to the same new human group now called the Nesher Ramla Homo type.

“People think in paradigms,” commented Sarig. “That’s why efforts have been made to ascribe these fossils to known human groups like Homo sapiens, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis or the Neanderthals. But now we say: No! This is a group in itself, with distinct features and characteristics. At a later stage small groups of the Nesher Ramla Homo type migrated to Europe – where they evolved into the ‘classic’ Neanderthals that we are familiar with, and also to Asia, where they became archaic populations with Neanderthal-like features. As a crossroads between Africa, Europe and Asia, the Land of Israel served as a melting pot where different human populations mixed with one another, to later spread throughout the Old World. The discovery from the Nesher Ramla site writes a new and fascinating chapter in the story of humankind...”
Click on the links for the abstracts of the original articles A Middle Pleistocene Homo from Nesher Ramla, Israel by Israel Hershkovitz, Hila May, Rachel Sarig et al in Science, Volume 372, Issue 6549, pp. 1424-1428, June 25, 2021 and Middle Pleistocene Homo behavior and culture at 140,000 to 120,000 years ago and interactions with Homo sapiens by Yossi Zaidner, Laura Centi, Marion Prévost et al in the same issue, pp. 1429-1433.

Saturday, 19 June 2021

60 years ago: U.S. Supreme Court sides with atheist in Maryland case

On June 19, 1961, the Supreme Court of the United States, in Torcaso v. Watkins, ruled 9-0 that states were prohibited from requiring a religious test to hold public office. The case involved Roy Torcaso, who had been appointed a notary public by Maryland Governor John Millard Tawes. The Constitution of Maryland required "a declaration of belief in the existence of God" in order for a person to hold "any office of profit or trust in this State." Mr. Torcaso was a professing atheist, refused to make such a declaration, and was denied the position.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Maryland requirement violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, and had the effect of imposing a religious test for holding office. I doubt that those who wrote those amendments had that in mind when the amendments were approved. This decision has been forgotten in the light of the subsequent U.S. Supreme Court rulings Engel v. Vitale (1962), which prohibited an official school prayer, and Abington School District v. Schempp (1963), but it should be included with them as part of a series of rulings, starting with Everson v. Board of Education (1947), that increasingly ordered God out of public life.

I'm not going to talk about how five of the U.S. Supreme Court Justices in 1961--Chief Justice Earl Warren, and Associate Justices Hugo Black, Tom Clark, William O. Douglas, and Tom Clark--were known to be Freemasons. Roman Catholic journalist Paul A. Fisher, in his book Behind the Lodge Door (1988, 1989), noted that the Supreme Court's anti-religious decisions came during a three-decade period from the 1940s to the 1970s when the Court was dominated by Freemasons.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

50 years ago: The death of J.I. Rodale

Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Proverbs 27:1

I'm going to live to be 100, unless I'm run down by some sugar-crazed taxi driver. J.I. Rodale

Missed it by that much! Maxwell Smart

Jerome Irving Rodale, born Jerome Irving Cohen on August 16, 1898, co-founded the electrical equipment firm Rodale Manufacturing with his brother Joseph in 1923, and founded Rodale Press in 1930. J.I. Rodale was concerned with his health and became a health and food faddist, establishing an organic food farm, and publishing magazines such as Organic Farming and Gardening and Prevention. He was also a playwright, operating a couple of theatres to stage his works.

On June 8, 1971, Mr. Rodale was a guest on The Dick Cavett Show; the show was taped early in the evening for broadcast several hours later. During his interview, Mr. Rodale said, "I'm in such good health that I fell down a long flight of stairs yesterday and I laughed all the way;" "I've decided to live to be a hundred;" and "I never felt better in my life!" After the interview, Mr. Cavett was interviewing journalist Pete Hamill, and Mr. Rodale, who was sitting further down the couch, slumped over dead; efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. The program was never broadcast.

Monday, 31 May 2021

United Church of Canada holds racially segregated mandatory workshops--for "racial justice"

The United Church of Canada continues to be completely beyond the possibility of satire. As reported by True North Wire, May 25, 2021 (link in original):

The United Church of Canada is holding courses on “racial justice” — with attendees being segregated by race.

According to the United Church’s distance learning website, the church is offering a four part “Racial Justice Workshop,” with two of the parts being segregated into white and non-white classes.

The training is mandatory for all active ministry personnel and open to the public.

“We will be meeting in separate groups according to our racial identities: one group are people who self-identify as Indigenous, Black and other Peoples of Colour (BIPOCs) and another group are people who self-identify as White,” the course description reads.

Ministry personnel in the United Church have been required to take racial justice training since 2006 and have appeared to make combatting racism a priority, going so far as to create a “Dismantling White Privilege Working Group.”

The course description goes into detail trying to justify segregating attendees by race, saying that white people and people of colour have different needs...
From the horse's mouth, i.e., the U.C.C.'s United in Learning page (bold, links in original):

Racial Justice Workshop

Course Description

The racial justice educational sessions take place over four sessions. For sessions 1 and 2, which form the mandatory components, we will be meeting in separate groups according to our racial identities: one group are people who self-identify as Indigenous, Black and other Peoples of Colour (BIPOCs)*** and another group are people who self-identify as White.

Sessions 3 and 4, which are optional sessions, will be in racially mixed groups. Select this link for more details on these sessions.

Why are we meeting in separate groups for these initial sessions? It is because the learning needs of BIPOCs are often different from the learning needs of White people. Because of their lived experiences, BIPOCs certainly have different day-to-day realities than those of White people. At times, in past educational sessions, BIPOCs were often called on to “educate” White people about racism but did not necessarily have opportunities to do their own learnings. And White people have sometimes felt that the need to self-censor because they did not want to say anything “wrong” in front of a BIPOC person, even if they had genuine questions about racial justice. As a result, not everyone was receiving the full educational experience.

The Rev. Dr. Bill Smith, previous Chairperson of the Dismantling White Privilege Working Group, also adds the following, “The White Privilege Working Group realizes that separating into groups along racial lines may be uncomfortable for some and may be seen as an act of segregation.” There is, however, a difference between historical segregation and creating settings by self-identified groups that are beneficial for people to have their own space and conversations. The method used in these racial justice sessions is by self-identified groups and is in response to requests made by people who are Indigenous, racialized, and bi-racial to have their own space for dialogue.

Our churches have a history of occasionally gathering people separately, based on their identities or their learnings needs—many churches, for example, will gather children and youth separately for Sunday school or youth programs (instead of being part of the worship service). Similarly, self-identified women might gather separately as part of the United Church Women. For this particular educational program on racial justice, having groups meet separately who self-identify differently racially can take into consideration the different lived experiences and different learning needs of people’s encounters with race. It offers a safer (or brave) space for people to explore questions with people who may have had similar experiences with as themselves.

*** We want to note that language is ever-changing and evolving, and language is always imperfect. Previously, this workshop has used the term “racialized” to denote a reference to all people of colours. At the moment, we are using the term BIPOC for racialized. We encourage the participants of these workshops to please be mindful not to get hang up on the terms as labels to one’s racial identity. The intent of the workshop is to help us work towards our commitment on dismantling systemic racism in our denomination and local communities of faith.

Mandatory Training

Racial justice training for all active ministry personnel was mandated at the 39th General Council 2006. The proposal came out of a long history of the United Church's engagement with issues of social justice. In 2000, the United Church adopted its Anti-Racism Policy statement; racial justice training is one effort to help the church continue to live out its principles.

As of 2017 we're also opening this program to all members of the church. The Program Committe on Programs, Mission and Ministry notes, "The current form of the racial justice training is receiving very good feedback, and it is therefore particularly commended to people serving in any leadership capacity within the church."

Currently, unlike the Boundaries credential, this credential does NOT need to be refreshed every five years. Those who have done racial justice training previously, either online with United-in-Learning or in a Conference-based course, need not take it again. Ministry Personnel, however, must complete Sessions 1 & 2 of this credential in order to register for Sessions 3 & 4.

Please note that records of online participants since 2011 have been uploaded to during the summer of 2019. Records of participants at Conference-based face-to-face programs are still in process. If you participated in one of these programs, and Church Hub does not yet indicate this, don't panic! The records will be completed soon. However, if you require a letter of good standing immediately, and you don't see your participation recorded at Church Hub, you can contact the Office of Vocation Minister at your Regional Council Office and show them a copy of your certificate of completion.

Cost: $49.99 -- $5 discount if you pay online

Dates and Times

Please note the course is divided into two sessions. They are each 2.5 hours long

In order to complete the course you must attend both Session 1 and Session 2; it's best, if possible, to do these both on the same day

the links in the "Session times" show the start times in each of Canada's time zones

Choose Your Dates

For sessions 1 and 2, which form the mandatory components, we will be meeting in separate groups according to our racial identities: one group are people who self-identify as Indigenous, racialized, and/or bi-racial, and another group are people who self-identify as White. Please indicate which category you fall into, to see the available dates

Which category fits you best?
...Select one
White person
Black, Indigenous or Person of Colour

Waiting List

If these dates aren't convenient for you, click HERE for our waiting list, and we'll email you when new dates are announced.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Oklahoma pastor's wife charged in his murder as evidence of their involvement in a love triangle is revealed

...and be sure your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:23b

As reported by Nolan Clay of the Oklahoma City Oklahoman, March 26, 2021 (updated March 29, 2021):

ADA — Last Sunday morning, Harmony Church pastor Dave Evans preached about attacks from the devil and all he and his wife had overcome to be victorious in life.

Hours later, he was killed at his home in bed.

His wife, Kristie Evans, 47, called 911 at 1:11 a.m. Monday and reported an intruder had shot her husband.

Now, she has confessed to a role in the murder, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation announced Friday.

She was arrested Thursday at the Ada Police Department.

In her confession Thursday, she admitted she recruited a lover to kill her husband, provided him with a gun and bullets, and left the backdoor unlocked for him to enter the house, an OSBI agent reported in an arrest affidavit.

She said she had to urge him to "proceed with the plan" after finding him crouched down in the dining room and worrying about making too much noise, the agent reported.

She said she waited in the living room until she heard a "pop" from the bedroom, according to the affidavit. She said she then called for help from her side of the bed after her lover ran out the backdoor.

The second suspect, Kahlil Deamie Square, 26, was arrested at a residence in Newalla Thursday night, the OSBI said.

The investigation found that the pastor and his wife were leading a secret life as swingers.

The two had met Square at a Super 8 for sex "on more than one occasion" since their first encounter months ago, the OSBI agent reported in the arrest affidavit.

"On one of those occasions, Kristie secretly dropped her phone number on the floor for Kahlil," the agent reported. "Kristie continued to communicate by phone daily with Kahlil without David's knowledge."

She spoke to Ada police and the OSBI multiple times after the shooting. In one interview, she admitted Square stayed the night with her March 17, 18 and 19 while her husband was on a mission trip to Mexico, according to the affidavit.

She claimed in another interview that her husband was verbally abusive and called her names like "slut, fat, ugly and whore," according to the affidavit. She said she had told Square about the mistreatment and he had responded, "Damn." She also told him "it would be nice to have more freedom."

She told her daughter on Thursday before confessing to the OSBI that she had "begged" Square to kill her husband, according to the affidavit.

In his sermon Sunday morning, Dave Evans preached about being a witness for God.

"Who’s believing in Jesus because of us?" he asked. "And if we’re doing anything in that direction, expect for the enemy to come to destroy you. So don’t be shocked and start whining and crying. Expect it. Be prepared for it. If the devil is not attacking you, there is a reason. If the devil is attacking you, there is a reason.”

The pastor was pronounced dead at his home Monday from a gunshot wound to the head. He was 50.

The OSBI and Ada police used surveillance videos from a next-door neighbor's home, a bank and a marijuana dispensary to place Square's car in Ada on the night of the shooting, according to the affidavit.

“OSBI agents from across the state worked tirelessly on this investigation for days," OSBI Director Ricky Adams said Friday. "With the help of OSBI intelligence analysts and multiple law enforcement agencies, the suspects ... are in custody.
As reported by Jacklyn Chappell of Oklahoma City television station KFOR, March 26, 2021 (updated March 28, 2021) (links in original):

ADA, Okla. – Two arrests were made in the murder of Ada pastor David Evans. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation tells KFOR his wife, Kristie Evans, was arrested Wednesday after confessing to his murder and an accomplice, Kahlil Square, was also arrested for murder. All three of them were allegedly involved in a love triangle.

“A couple of months ago is when the three of them first met up,” said Capt. Beth Green, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

David’s wife, Kristie Evans, along with alleged accomplice Kahlil Square, were found responsible for David’s death.

“The three of them, Kristie, Kahlil and David, had a sexual relationship. Kristie and Kahlil also had a separate sexual relationship, just the two of them,” Green said.

David was the pastor of Harmony Freewill Baptist Church in Ada. OSBI was brought into investigate on Monday after Kristie called 9-1-1, reporting an intruder had come into their home and shot David.

“She came back on her own accord yesterday to the Ada Police Department and confessed. Prior to that, she had been interviewed several times,” Green said.

Court documents say the couple “first met Kahlil months ago at a Super 8 Motel.”

The documents also say “Kristie, David, and Kahlil had sex at a Super 8 Motel on more than one occasion.”

Kristie secretly gave Kahlil her phone number without David’s knowledge.

Then just last week, Kahlil stayed over at Kristie’s house, while David was away on a mission trip to Mexico. That’s when the murder was planned.

“The plan was for Kahlil to come into the house in the middle of the night and shoot David with the gun and ammunition that actually belonged to David that Kristie had given Kahlil,” Green said.

Neighbors gave investigators surveillance footage showing what was allegedly Kahlil’s white Ford Mustang at the house the night of David’s death.

Kristie shared a post to her Facebook page on the day before the murder, saying David had sent her specialty-made necklaces while he was in Mexico. The post saying in part, “So, every day, I opened a card and was reminded of how blessed, loved and lucky I am!!! I love you so much, David!!!!”

But she told OSBI a different story, saying David would call her names like “slut,” “fat” and “ugly.”

“What she told agents was that he was verbally abusive and controlling of her,” Green said.

David also shared a post to Facebook on the morning before his death saying, “Live your life so that people realize we are no longer dead, but are alive again.”

Harmony Freewill Baptist Church sent KFOR the following statement on Friday:

“Harmony Free Will Baptist Church has been grieving the death of our Pastor, David Evans, over the last few days. The circumstances that are now coming to light have taken us by surprise and we are greatly saddened. We serve a perfect Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave His life for us. These revelations do not diminish that truth and we will continue to serve Him. We are aware that even pastors can succumb to human frailty and we ask that our privacy be respected at this time as we as a church family grieve and process all of these events.”

Both Kristie and Khalil are facing first-degree murder charges. Kahlil was found in Newalla on Thursday night and booked into the Cleveland County Detention Center while Kristie currently sits in the Pontotoc County Detention Center.
The Harmony Church website contains information on what to expect on your first visit, but no events are scheduled, and no information on the church's doctrine or leadership is provided.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Tyre coin from Second Temple period discovered in Jerusalem's Tower of David

As reported by All Israel News, March 31, 2021 (links in original):

Tyre coin uncovered during a conservation project (Tal Rogovski/Tower of David Museum)

During a comprehensive conservation project in the iconic Tower of David in Jerusalem’s Old City, Israeli archaeologists discovered a rare Tyre coin believed to be used by Jewish pilgrims to pay the Temple tax during Passover in the Second Temple period.

These shekel coins from Tyre were minted from around 125 BC until the outbreak of the Great Jewish Revolt against the Romans in 66 CE.

Caroline Shapiro, director of International Public Relations & Strategic Communications for the Tower of David Museum, spoke to ALL ISRAEL NEWS about the remarkable discovery of the rare coin. Shapiro placed the Tyre coin in the wider context of understanding the ancient texts and the history of the land of Israel.

“Every time physical evidence is discovered from thousands of years ago, it sheds more light on the ancient texts. Amit Re'em, Jerusalem District archaeologist from the Israel Antiquities Authority describes it as if the text and physical evidence meet to shake hands,” Shapiro told All Israel News.

Given the large interest in the history of ancient Israel, Shapiro told ALL ISRAEL NEWS that the public would eventually be able to see the Tyre coin and other discovered artifacts in a future exhibition in Jerusalem.

“They will be displayed in the new permanent exhibition of the history of Jerusalem when it opens in spring 2022,” said Shapiro.

These coins originate from the ancient town of Tyre in present-day Lebanon. While historical accounts from the Second Temple era mention Tyrian shekels, very few coins have so far been unearthed. The coins are believed to have been used by Jewish pilgrims who paid Temple tax while visiting the Temple in Jerusalem during Passover. As is often the case with important archaeological discoveries, the ancient coin was found by chance inside a box with artifacts that were originally excavated in the 1980s. Prior to the discovery, the box had been buried and forgotten for around four decades.

Yotam Carmel, the conservation manager at Ken HaTor, the company in charge of the project, stressed the importance of the Tower of David in the history of Israel and Jerusalem.

“The Tower of David is one of the most important structures in Israel, both in terms of its history and location,” Carmel said.

The Tower of David is located in an ancient citadel adjacent to the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City in Jerusalem. It includes King Herod’s ancient palace, the place where the trial of Jesus took place according to some historians and theologians. The name “Tower of David” derives from the fifth century AD and refers to the Phasael Tower, the tallest tower in the structure.

During the British Mandate in the 1920s and 1930s, the historical structure was also used for cultural events. The modern museum, which contains a permanent exhibition, is an ideal place to discover Jerusalem’s fascinating and diverse 3,000-year history. There are also temporary exhibitions housed in the ancient Crusader halls.

The Tower of David Museum was inaugurated in 1989 at the initiative of Jerusalem’s former celebrated mayor Teddy Kollek.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Parchments from books of Nahum and Zechariah added to Dead Sea Scrolls

As reported by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz of Israel365 News, March 19, 2021 (links in original):

For the first time in 60 years, archaeologists announced the recovery of ancient parchments adding to the Biblically significant trove of Dead Sea Scrolls.

The parchments were part of an effort to save artifacts from antiquity theft, a growing problem in the region. Among the finds were a cache of rare coins from the days of Bar-Kokhba, a 6,000-year-old skeleton of a child – likely female, wrapped in a cloth and mummified, and a large complete basket dating back 10,500 years, likely the oldest in the world.

But for the Biblically-minded, the parchments were of intense interest. Israel365News interviewed the researchers, Tanya Bitler, Dr. Oren Ableman and Beatriz Riestra of the Dead Sea Scrolls Unit at the Israel Antiquities Authority, who focused on the parchments and asked several questions.

Though the artifacts came from many different sites, the parchments all came from a site called the Cave of Horror, officially cataloged as Cave 8, in the Judean Desert reserve’s Nahal Hever, so named because the skeletons of 40 men, women, and children were discovered inside when researcher first investigated the site in 1960. The skeletons were the remains of Jewish refugees from the Bar Kokhba revolt in 136 CE. At the top of the cliff were the ruins of a Roman camp used for the siege of the Jews hiding in the cave. The cave poses unique difficulties for the researchers as it is located roughly 80 meters below the cliff top, is flanked by gorges, and can only be reached by rappelling precariously down the sheer cliff.

“More than 80 pieces of parchment were unearthed in the present excavation, of them, more than 40 are written or bear some ink remains, the researchers said. “The fragments are quite small, the biggest being nine centimeters square.”

The parchments were radiocarbon-dated back to the second century CE. A 1961 excavation of the cave found previous parchment fragments but none have been found since then. The recent find includes portions of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets written in Greek, including the books of Zechariah and Nahum. The verses were Greek translations of the Hebrew text. The name of God appears in ancient Hebrew script, known from the times of the First Temple in Jerusalem.

The verse from Nahum:

The mountains quake because of Him, And the hills melt. The earth heaves before Him, The world and all that dwell therein.Who can stand before His wrath? Who can resist His fury? His anger pours out like fire, And rocks are shattered because of Him. Nahum 1:5–6

The verse from Zechariah:

These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to one another, render true and perfect justice in your gates. Zechariah 8:16

The researchers concluded that the parchments were written by two different scribes.

“The new fragments are part of a manuscript already known which was discovered in the 1950’s by antiquities looters and which is kept today by the Israel Antiquities Authority,” the researchers said. “Both the previously known fragments and the new ones are written by two different hands which differ in the size and style of the letters. While hand 1 is smaller is more ornamented (meaning it carries hooks and half-serifs), hand 2 is bigger and less ornamented. However, the overall general dimensions of the column blocks are similar in both hands, as is the character of the translation. Thus, both hands are considered to be part of one single manuscript and not two different scrolls.”

They also concluded that both scribes copied the text towards the end of the 1st century BCE and the fragments were part of a larger scroll.

“​All of the newly discovered fragments belong to a manuscript known as ‘8HevXII gr’ or ‘the Greek Minor Prophets Scroll’,” they responded. “This is the largest Greek manuscript of the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

All of the fragments can be viewed on the Dead Sea Scrolls website.

Despite being written 1,900 years ago, there are precious few discrepancies.

“​For the most part, the text is identical,” the researchers noted. “However, there are minor differences that can be found. Among the new fragments, the most notable textual difference is that at the end of Zechariah 8:16 there is the word ‘streets’ instead of the word ‘gates’ that appears in all other manuscripts.”

In an interview with Israel365, Rabbi Barnea Selavan noted that this small difference has much larger implications.

“The gates were where business was done,” Rabbi Selavan explained. “As a result, the courts were also at the gates in order to be on hand to adjudicate and disputes. Writing streets is very different.”

Rabbi Selavan suggested that the scribe may have mistranslated the original text.

“The prophet Zechariah lived around 520 BCE,” Rabbi Selavan noted. “This means the parchment was written about 400 years after the prophet lived. This means the text was written close to the subject matter. It is like someone today writing about Napoleon.”

“This seems to indicate that perhaps the text of the Bible was a bit more fluid than it is today. Minor textual variations between manuscripts were not necessarily perceived as a problem.”

The method of writing the name of God was significant.

“The name of God, what we cal the Tetragrammaton, was written in the ancient Hebrew script. This script was rarely used even in Hebrew manuscripts at the time. However, the use of the ancient Hebrew script specifically for writing the names of God is well documented in several different manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This phenomenon is also documented in some Greek fragments discovered in Egypt.”

They noted that it was not unusual for Jews to have Greek translations of the Biblical text.

“Greek was the international language of the time, much like English is today. As such, there were Jewish communities around the world that were primarily Greek-speaking. Most notable among these was the very large Jewish community of Egypt. In Judea, Jews tended to speak Hebrew and Aramaic, but many seem to have been familiar with Greek as well.”
Sections of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets scroll discovered in the Judean Desert expedition as they were found (Ofer Sion, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Part of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets scroll, written in Greek (Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Latest discoveries in Judean Desert include 6,000-year-old mummified girl, fragments of scroll from minor prophets

As reported by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz of Israel365 News, March 16, 2021:

Dozens of fragments of a biblical scroll from the Bar Kokhba period, a 6,000-year-old skeleton of a child, and the oldest complete basket in the world were found by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in the Judean Desert Nature Reserve. This marks the first time in approximately 60 years that archaeological excavations uncovered fragments of a biblical scroll.

The scroll, which was written in Greek, includes portions of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, including the books of Zechariah and Nahum. The IAA operation was aimed at preventing the looting of antiquities in the Judean Desert.

Verses from Zechariah written in Greek were discovered on dozens of parchment fragments found in a cave where Jewish refugees hid almost 1900 years ago.

These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to one another, render true and perfect justice in your gates. And do not contrive evil against one another, and do not love perjury, because all those are things that I hate—declares Hashem Zechariah 8:16-17

In addition to the scroll fragments, the operation uncovered additional extraordinary finds from various periods: a cache of rare coins from the days of Bar-Kokhba, a 6,000-year-old skeleton of a child – likely female, wrapped in a cloth and mummified, and a large complete basket dating back 10,500 years, likely the oldest in the world.

The discoveries were retrieved from the “Cave of Horror” in the Judean Desert reserve’s Nahal Hever. The cave, roughly 80 meters below the cliff top, is flanked by gorges and can only be reached by rappelling precariously down the sheer cliff.

Additional finds left behind by the Jewish rebels who fled to the caves at the end of the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 136 CE include a cache of coins from the revolt bearing Jewish symbols such as a harp and a date palm, arrow- and spear-heads, woven fabric, sandals, and even lice combs.

Also identified, on another fragment, are verses from the Prophet Nahum.

The mountains quake because of Him, And the hills melt. The earth heaves before Him, The world and all that dwell therein.Who can stand before His wrath? Who can resist His fury? His anger pours out like fire, And rocks are shattered because of Him. Nahum 1:5–6

Another exciting aspect about this scroll is that despite most of the text being in Greek, the name of God appears in ancient Hebrew script, known from the times of the First Temple in Jerusalem.

Another astounding discovery was found near the rock wall inside the Cave of Horror: A 6,000-year-old partially mummified skeleton of a child, wrapped in cloth. According to prehistorian Ronit Lupu of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “On moving two flat stones, we discovered a shallow pit intentionally dug beneath them, containing a skeleton of a child placed in a fetal position. It was covered with a cloth around its head and chest, like a small blanket, with its feet protruding from it. It was obvious that whoever buried the child had wrapped him up and pushed the edges of the cloth beneath him, just as a parent covers his child in a blanket. A small bundle of cloth was clutched in the child’s hands. The child’s skeleton and the cloth wrapping were remarkably well preserved and because of the climatic conditions in the cave, a process of natural mummification had taken place; the skin, tendons, and even the hair were partially preserved, despite the passage of time”. A preliminary study of a CT scan of the child, carried out by Dr. Hila May from Tel Aviv University, suggests that this child was 6-12 years old.

Another find, currently unparalleled worldwide, was discovered by youths from the Nofei Prat pre-military leadership academy in one of the Muraba‘at Caves in the Nahal Darga Reserve: a huge intact basket with a lid that was also exceptionally well preserved due to the high temperatures and extreme aridity of the region. The basket dates to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period, approximately 10,500 years ago. As far as we know, this is the oldest basket in the world that has been found completely intact and its importance is therefore immense. The basket had a capacity of 90–100 liters and was apparently used for storage. The basket provides fascinating new data on the storage of products some 1,000 years before the invention of pottery. The basket is woven from plant material and its method of weaving is unusual. When it was found it was empty, and only future research of a small amount of soil remaining inside it will help us discover what it was used for and what was placed in it.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Small church in Las Vegas becomes a Covid-19 casualty

Online church services are better than nothing, but they're not an acceptable substitute for in-person services; as reported by John Przybys of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, February 15, 2021 (updated February 16, 2021) (links in original, inserted by blogger):

A church that opened last year with plans to conduct a live Easter service during the COVID pandemic is closing.

The Rev. Joseph Guy said Open Arms Community Church’s last service will be a virtual service on Feb. 28.

Guy last year announced plans to open the new church with a live Easter service attended by 35 to 50 members. At the time, state mandates prohibited gatherings of 10 or more people.

Guy, the church’s lead pastor, eventually canceled the live service. Instead, the Easter service was livestreamed, and Guy said the church never was able to recover from the live service’s cancellation.

While an established church may be able to more easily transition from live to virtual services, “when it’s a new church, you’ve got to make that personal connection with people,” he said, and not being able to do that “was just too much to overcome.”

Church members gathered for their first live service on Father’s Day, Guy said, but “we just couldn’t generate the crowd that we expected because it had been so long from Easter to June.”

Other services, mostly virtual, followed, but Guy said participation never exceeded 50.

The church’s final service will begin at 11 a.m. Feb. 28, and can be seen on Open Arms Community Church’s YouTube channel.
See also my post Covid-19 provides opportunities for police state persecution of Christians (May 7, 2020).

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Equatorial Guinea plans to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem

As reported by Ron Kampeas of Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 21, 2021:

Equatorial Guinea is the latest country that plans to move its embassy to Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

The pledge came in a conversation Friday with the oil-rich African nation’s president, Teodoro Mbasogo, Netanyahu’s office said.

Netanyahu has throughout his 11 years in continuous leadership pressed for greater Israeli engagement with Africa. Netanyahu “noted that Israel is continuing to deepen its cooperation with African countries and said that Israel is returning to Africa and Africa is returning to Israel in a big way,” his office’s statement said.

The United States and Guatemala have moved their embassies to Jerusalem since 2018, and about half a dozen other countries have pledged to do so as part of a diplomatic initiative launched by former President Donald Trump.

A handful of nations had embassies in Jerusalem until the early 1980s; most keep embassies in Tel Aviv, not recognizing Israel’s claim to the city until its status is resolved in a peace deal with the Palestinians.
See also my posts:

El Salvador denies that it's moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Ramallah (January 28, 2016)

U.S. President Donald Trump declares Jerusalem to be Israel's capital (December 7, 2017)

Guatemala follows U.S.A.'s lead in announcing that it will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem (December 25, 2017)

South Africa downgrades its embassy in Israel to a liaison office (January 2, 2018)

Czech Republic recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital (January 2, 2018)

Romania reportedly intends to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem (January 2, 2018)

Philippines denies reports that it intends to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem (January 2, 2018)

Conservative Party of Canada promises to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital--if they ever get back into power (March 1, 2018)

Paraguay and Honduras are reported to be ready "in principle" to move their Israeli embassies to Jerusalem (March 16, 2018)

Honduran Congress votes to move the country's Israeli embassy to Jerusalem (April 18, 2018)

Australia recognizes West Jerusalem as Israel's capital (December 17, 2018)

Israel punishes Paraguay for moving its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, and then back to Tel Aviv (December 31, 2018)

Brazil to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in 2020 (December 17, 2019)

Israeli and Sudanese leaders agree to move toward normalization of relations, while Uganda studies moving its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem (February 3, 2020)

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Jews not mentioned among religious groups invited to Pope Francis' inter-religious prayer service in Iraq

Pope Francis continues his efforts to unite the world's religions; as reported by Mohammed Aty of Reuters, February 22, 2021:

BAGHDAD - Pope Francis is due to hold an inter-religious prayer service at the ancient Mesopotamian site of Ur when he visits Iraq next week - an event local archeologists hope will draw renewed attention to the place revered as the birthplace of Abraham.

Popular with Western visitors in the 1970s and 1980s, Ur is scarcely visited today after decades of war and political instability shattered Iraq’s international tourism industry. The coronavirus crisis now also keeps local tourists away.

Located about 300 km (200 miles) south of the capital Baghdad, the site comprises a pyramid-style Ziggurat and an adjacent residential complex as well as temples and palaces.

It was excavated about 100 years ago by Leonard Woolley, a Briton who recovered treasures rivalling those found in Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt. But little work has since been doneon one of the world’s oldest cities, where urban dwelling, writing and central state power began.

According to the State Board for Antiquities and Heritage director for Ur, Ali Kadhim Ghanim, the complex next to the Ziggurat dates back to about 1900 BC...

...According to Ghanim, the housing settlement was restored in 1999, after Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope John Paul II, announced a trip to Iraq. But his visit was cancelled when negotiations with the government of then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein broke down.

This time, Ghanim hopes that Pope Francis’ visit will attract international attention to the site, which he says is badly needed to fund restoration works on its palaces and temples.

“Not only tourism, but we believe that there will be a Christian pilgrimage season,” Ghanim said.

Un Ponte Per, an Italian-based organisation, is working with the United Nations Development Programme on infrastructure works such as paths, rest areas and signposts to help visitors.

Roads around the site are being renovated and powerlines extended ahead of the pope’s visit.

But without adequate funding, Ghanim says his administration has been limited to containing further damage to the site, such as digging trenches to divert rainwater from the ruins.

Basra’s Archbishop Habib al-Naufaly stressed the symbolic importance of the pope’s March 5-8 visit as Iraq is still recovering from the war against Islamic State that destroyed scores of Christian heritage sites.

The inter-religious prayer service will be attended by Christians, Muslims, Mandaean-Sabaean, Yazidi and other religious minorities present in Iraq.

The focus will be on harmony between religious groups in a service the Vatican has named “Prayer for the sons and daughters of Abraham”.
As reported by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz of Israel365 News, February 24, 2021 (links in original):

...Iraq declared war on the newly established Jewish state in 1948 and since then the two countries have technically been in a state of war. Iraqi forces participated in wars against Israel in 1967 and 1973.

The plight of the Christians in the Muslim country is not much better. Twenty years ago, Pew Research Center reported there were 1.4 million professing Christians in Iraq, but today there are only about 270,000.

Despite the oppression of Christians and suppression of Christianity, Iraq seems to hold a fascination for the Vatican. Pope John Paul II, planned a trip to Iraq in 1999 but his visit was canceled when negotiations with the government of then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein broke down...

...The pyramidic ziggurat, located about 200 miles south of the capital Baghdad, is a Neo-Sumerian structure located in what was the city of Ur near Nasiriyah, in present-day Dhi Qar Province. In ancient times, this ziggurat served as a religious center as it was part of a temple complex dedicated to idolatry. The recovery of about 2,000 burials by archaeologists indicates that the site, excavated about 100 years ago by Leonard Woolley, was used for the practice of human sacrifice on a large scale. The bodies were buried in elaborate graves nearby. The sacrificial murders were carried out by a sharp instrument being driven into their heads after which they were buried in elaborate funerals. Their bodies were usually arranged neatly, the women in an elaborate headdress, the men with weapons at their side.

The ziggurat also holds great significance to modern despots. In the 1980s, Saddam Hussein restored the façade of the massive lower foundation of the ziggurat, insisting that his own name be stamped on all of the modern bricks used in the reconstruction. He also built his personal palace to mirror the ziggurat. In 1981, the site was where celebrations took place to commemorate the first anniversary of the Iraqi invasion of Iran, with officials using the slogan, Nebuchadnasar al-ams Saddam Hussein al-yawm (yesterday Nebuchadnezzar, today Saddam Hussein). During the war led by American and coalition forces, Saddam Hussein parked his MiG fighter jets next to the Ziggurat.

The timing of the papal visit is auspicious and perhaps even prophetic. It will come right after the Jewish holiday of Purim commemorating the salvation of the Jews of Iraq from Haman, the descendent of Agag, King of Amalek and whose connection to the future war of Gog is hinted at by the Prophet Ezekiel.

As those who traverse the country make their rounds, any one of them who sees a human bone shall erect a marker beside it, until the buriers have interred them in the Valley of Gog’s Multitude. Ezekiel 39:15

The Hebrew word for ‘multitude’ is הֲמוֹן (Hamon, similar to the name Haman). Haman is known as an Agagite, also connecting him at least etymologically with Gog.

The visit also comes a few weeks before the “twenty-fourth day of the first month (Nisan)”, the day on which Daniel had his vision, described in chapter 10, that took place on the Mesopotamian River Tigris. In his enigmatic vision, Daniel saw, “a man dressed in linen, his loins girt in fine gold,” and the “sound of his speech was like the noise of a multitude.” The man in the vision gave Daniel a message:

“Do you know why I have come to you? Now I must go back to fight the prince of Persia. When I go off, the prince of Greece will come in. Daniel 10:20

Many modern interpretations of prophecy identify Persia as Iran and Greece, a country founded by the offspring of Esav, as Catholicism.

Since ascending to the papacy in 2013, Pope Francis has been working openly to bring Esau and Ishmael together by enhancing Christian-Muslim relations. On the return flight from a recent visit to Morocco, where the official state religion is Islam, the Pope spoke with journalists about his vision for uniting the descendants of Esau and the descendants of Ishmael.

In 2016, Pope Francis hosted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Vatican.

These efforts by Pope Francis culminated in 2019 when he signed the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azha, an agreement that was harshly criticized by Catholics and Muslims alike.

Jewish tradition contains a prophecy that the children of Esau (today’s Western nations) and the children of Ishmael (today’s Arab nations) will unite against the Jewish people at the End of Days.

This alliance was forged at the very beginning of the Bible when Esau married Ishmael’s daughter, Mahalath, whose name means ‘disease’.

So Esau went unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives that he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth, to be his wife. (Genesis 28:9)

This is explained by Rabbi Yechiel Weitzman explains in his book The Ishmaelite Exile “During the End of Days, Ishmael and Esau will join forces to seek the destruction of the Jewish people.”

Rabbi Weitzman concluded his introduction to the End of Days alliance with good news. “At the very outset of their history, Ishmael and Esau forged a bond through marriage. And so it shall be at the End of Days. This alliance between them will bring history to its culmination in the redemption.”
While Jewish tradition and eschatology may be interesting, the Bible itself is the only authoritative and reliable source of truth.

Saturday, 30 January 2021

Royal purple fabric from the era of Kings David and Solomon discovered in southern Israel

As reported by Judy Siegel-Itzkovich of Israel365 News, January 28, 2021 (link inserted by blogger):

What did a fashionable King in Israel wear 3,000 years ago? The color purple as well as red and blue were prominent in their wardrobes.

Four years ago, archaeologists at Tel Aviv University (TAU) discovered reserved pieces of cloth from King David and King Solomon’s time at ancient copper mines in the Timna Valley in Israel’s southern Negev desert that had been colored blue and red with dye from various plants. Thanks to the very dry climate in the area, the colors have been preserved for three millennia.

Now, in a “breakthrough discovery,” the team have found ancient scraps of fabric dyed in true royal purple from shellfish. “The color immediately attracted our attention, but we found it hard to believe we had found true purple from such an ancient era,” said TAU’s Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef. According to the researchers, true purple [argaman in Hebrew] was produced from three species of mollusk native to the Mediterranean Sea – the banded dye-murex (Hexaplex trunculus), the spiny dye-murex (Bolinus brandaris) and the red-mouthed rock-shell (Stramonita haemastoma). The dye was produced from a gland located within the body of the mollusk by means of a complex chemical process that lasted several days.

According to the Song of Songs, King Solomon had a carriage made from wood brought from Lebanon whose seat was upholstered with purple cloth. Now, for the first time, rare evidence has been found confirming this.

While examining the colored textiles from Timna in a study that has lasted several years, the researchers were surprised to find remnants of woven fabric, a tassel and fibers of wool dyed with royal purple.

Direct radiocarbon dating confirms that the finds date from approximately 1,000 BCE, corresponding to the biblical monarchies of David and Solomon in Jerusalem. The dye, which is produced from species of mollusk (shelled animal) found in the Mediterranean, over 300 kilometers from Timna, is often mentioned in the Bible and appears in various Jewish and Christian contexts.

This is the first time that purple-dyed Iron Age textiles have been found in Israel, or indeed throughout the Southern Levant. The research was carried out by Dr. Naama Sukenik from the Israel Antiquities Authority and Ben-Yosef of TAU’s department of archaeology and ancient Near Eastern Cultures, in collaboration with Prof. Zohar Amar, Dr. David Iluz and Dr. Alexander Varvak from BIU and Dr. Orit Shamir from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). The unexpected finds are being published today in the prestigious journal PLoS (Public Library of Science) One under the title “Early evidence of royal purple dyed textile from Timna Valley.”

“This is a very exciting and important discovery,” said Sukenik, the IAA’s curator of organic. “This is the first piece of textile ever found from the time of David and Solomon that is dyed with the prestigious purple dye. In antiquity, purple attire was associated with the nobility, with priests and of course with royalty. The gorgeous shade of the purple, the fact that it does not fade and the difficulty in producing the dye – which is found in minute quantities in the body of mollusks and often cost more than gold – all made it the most highly valued of the dyes. Until the current discovery, we had only encountered mollusk-shell waste and potsherds with patches of dye, which provided evidence of the purple industry in the Iron Age. Now, for the first time, we have direct evidence of the dyed fabrics themselves, preserved for some 3,000 years”...
Go here for more information on Tel Aviv University's Central Timna Valley Project (CTV).