Written by W.G. Finlay DD, Covenant Message, November 1979.
Posted and images added by Jackie
JUDAEA AND IT INHABITANTS
Having seen that Nazareth in Galilee was peopled by the descendants of those true Israelites who had escaped the deportation by the Assyrians, attention is now focused on the minority section of the twelve tribes, the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The Babylonians, who succeeded the Assyrians as the then world power, devastated the land occupied by the two remaining tribes and took them into captivity where they languished for the seventy-year duration of the Empire’s existence. During this time, nomadic people took possession of the land and there is no means whereby they can be identified except to note that they were not of the family of Abraham for they stated:
- “Son of man, they that inhabit those wastes of the land of Israel speak, saying, Abraham was one, and he inherited the land: but we are many; the land is given us for inheritance”. (Ezekiel 33:24).
When, under the decree of Cyrus, the Medo-Persian king, a remnant of the Babylonian captivity returned to rebuild Jerusalem
- Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, (Ezra 1:2)
certain ‘adversaries’ were drawn to the work which again suggests that another un-named element was present in the land. When the work of reconstruction was completed, it was evident that the remnant of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin which had returned from Babylon were a minority population group for Ezra recounts that the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians and the Amorites were in the land.
- “Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites”.( Ezra 9:1).
If one considers how relatively small the territory was and the wide diversity of people who subsequently took up residence there, one can appreciate something of the story of the land which came to be known as Judaea. It is not known who coined the name Judaea, but it is known that the territory so named comprised an area some fifty-five miles from north to south and from twenty-five to thirty miles in width. It has been suggested that the name was derived from Judah, which could have been the case, but to call the whole population by the name of a small portion of a remnant of the tribe of Judah which returned would have been as ludicrous as suggesting that South Africans are part and parcel of the general term ‘African’. The name Judaea was a territorial and not a racial- or tribal one, and when it is considered that the modern English word ‘Jew’ is derived from the historical Judaea it will be seen that a geographical and not a racial term has been perpetuated.
The northern boundary of Judaea certainly did not take in Galilee, nor did it cover the people living there — the difference being so great that even the dialect spoken in the north differed from the Judaeans.
- “Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee”. (Matthew. 26:69-73).
It was from the Galileans that the Lord Jesus Christ selected His disciples and on the occasion of calling Nathanael, it will be noted how far the Pharisaic propaganda had penetrated. It will be recalled that the Hebrew netzer which covered the true Israelites who had been left in the land and who had never been associated with the population of Judaea finally developed into Nazareth – facts which were certainly known to the hierarchy which now controlled Judaea. In typical vein they coined an expression based on the identity of the people which was contrasted with their own heterogeneous origins:
- ‘Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth’? (John 1:46).
Here, without a shadow of a doubt, is the work of the anti-God conspiracy which in David’s time had raised its head and had proclaimed its mission at the demise of Israel.
- “Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance”. (Psalms 83:1-4).
The remnant of true Israel – the uppermost branches – were in Nazareth while the cosmopolitan Judaeans were claiming to be God’s chosen people – it is small wonder that they, the counterfeit, engendered a complex within the Nazarenes — Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?
THE INSCRIPTION ON THE CROSS
Notwithstanding the scriptural facts as presented above, there are still those who insist on using the Inscription on the Cross
- – ‘Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews’ – as the basis for their identification of Him with the Jews. Despite the fact that He had categorically stated that they, the Jews, were ‘not of God’ (John 8:47) and that they were ‘not my sheep’ (John 10:26) –
despite this, there are still those who persist in identifying Him as a Jew. The subject of the Inscription on the Cross is a very poor basis for identification, for apart from it being an English translation, and incorrectly translated at that, it might surprise many people to realise that the Inscription was changed three times during the period of the Crucifixion. All that is necessary to confirm something surrounding the confusion created by the Inscription is to study the Gospel accounts again and note the series of events as they are related in the four Gospels.
As must be obvious, the Inscription is a title and as Mark’s account is merely the conventional accusation which accompanied the convicted to his punishment, this account can be left out of the story.
- “And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS”. John 19:19,
it will be noted that Pilate ‘wrote a title’ which was written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin and, being a Roman, the Latin would rightly express the title which Pilate intended to convey. In Latin this title read: “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum,” and an accurate English translation of this is: ‘Jesus the Nazarene Ruler of the Judaeans’ which, far from making Him a Judaean, establishes Him as a Nazarene, which is obviously not a Judaean. There is of course no modern English development for the word Nazarene, as there has been for the word Judaean, but had there been, the gulf between the Lord Jesus Christ and the Jews would have been emphasized more than it is in the original languages.
Be that as it may, the next point to note is the argument which developed between the chief priests and Pilate concerning what had been written – this argument being recorded in verses 21 and 22 of John 19.
- “Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.Pilate answered, What I have written I have written”. (John 19:21-22).
- Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. (John 19:23)
And although, John does not record the outcome of the controversy, Matthew picks up the story
- “And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, (Psalms 22:18, Jackie) They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots”. (Matthew 27:35)
and relates, they set up his title after they had parted His garments – a title which had removed the reference to His Identity as a Nazarene. There is no evidence in Matthew’s account to suggest that this title which was set up after they had parted the Lord’s garments was in the three languages, which the original had been written in before it left Pilate’s presence, as he makes no mention of languages – only the title. One wonders if the chief priests had second thoughts about deliberately changing what Pilate had written, and it is quite conceivable that they believed he would send someone to investigate the Inscription. If the Inscription contained only one language, as is suggested by Matthew’s account, there could be repercussions from Pilate and so a third Inscription appeared, and it will be noted that this took place ‘at about the sixth hour’ when darkness began to fall and this Inscription was written in Greek, Latin and Hebrew – a reversal of the order of languages as it had been originally written by Pilate. In the dark, three languages could be seen, and any investigator would not take the trouble to note that the order had been reversed. He would not see, too, that the Nazarene Identity of Jesus had been removed.
The duplicity of the chief priests in the matter of the Inscription placed over the Lord is reflected by those today, who take whatever account happens to suit them in their insistence that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed a Jew. They fail, too, to appreciate that in the English translations they are dealing with the interpretations of men, interpretations which have been coloured by the traditions of men. The irony of the modern situation is that if Christ came today as He came at the First Advent,
- 1/ HE would be hounded as a ‘racist’ –I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel’ (Matt. 15:24).
- 2/ HE would be castigated as ‘antisemitic’ – “Ye =(the Jews) are of your father the devil’ (John 8:44)
- 3/ and HE would be accused of violating ‘human rights’ by limiting His disciples’ activity to one people alone
But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:6).
It is indeed small wonder that in the preview of His Second Advent, the Lord Jesus Christ related that His Identity would be an enigma for His Name – the Word of God – would be unknown among men. Today, while men seek to mould Him in conformity with their own ideas – to make Him a Jew, a Black, a Coloured or simply Universal Man – He awaits the time when He will take the Throne of His father David (Luke 1:32) when He shall rule over the house of Jacob (Luke 1:33) and when His influence shall spread among His people and His Government shall bring order into a totally disorganised world. It is at this time that the deluded world will be startled by the Identity of this ‘Man of Nazareth’ the Son of the Living God.