lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)
[personal profile] lethargic_man
XVI.2.43 tells us what the Jews of Josephus's day did on Shabbos:
And the seventh day we set apart from labor; it is dedicated to the learning of our customs and laws, we thinking it proper to reflect on them, as well as on any [good] thing else, in order to our avoiding of sin.

XVI.5.139 et passim confused me by referring to Augustus' wife as Julia; in I Claudius (perhaps shamefully, my main source of detailed knowledge of the period) she is called Livia. It turns out, upon investigation, that she was adopted posthumously into the Julio-Claudian imperial family, thus entitling her to the name Julia.

XVI.6.164, in a decree of Augustus's, gives the first reference to synagogues:

But if any one be caught stealing their holy books, or their sacred money, whether it be out of the synagogue or public school, he shall be deemed a sacrilegious person, and his goods shall be brought into the public treasury of the Romans.

XVII.6.149 describes Judas son of Saripheus, and Matthias son of Margalothus, thinking Herod was about to expire, pulling down a golden eagle which Herod had mounted above the Temple gate, in contravention of the Third Commandment (your numbering may vary). Given that the "-us" on the end of "Margalothus" is a Latinisation (presumably reflecting "-os" in the Greek, but at any rate absent from the original Aramaic name), and "th" in Classical Hebrew became "s" in Yiddish, I wonder if this is an early appearance of the name Jewish genealogists refer to as M*rg*l*s because of the extreme variation in its vowels (Margolis, Margolies, Morgulis, etc, etc).

About the eagle, Josephus says:

Now the law forbids those that propose to live according to it, to erect images or representations of any living creature.

Though this commentary points out that the making of images, without an intention to worship them, was not unlawful to the Jews, as evidenced by Solomon's making of brazen lions and oxen.

This sheds interesting light on the bronze temple vessels dug up by Yigael Yadin in the Cave of Letters near Qumran.

[piccy]
Are these vessels from the Second Temple?

These vessels―incense shovels and the like―are in some cases adorned with images of pagan gods―Rabbi Dr Richard Freund cites an example of Thetis riding a dolphin―as a result of which Yadin and other scholars argue that they must have been from a local Roman temple.

Freund, however, disagrees. He points to the fact one of the oldest synagogues known had signs of the zodiac on its mosaic floor, and that the Menorah taken from the Temple, as shown on the Arch of Titus, has similar artwork on its base, also including IIRC an image of Thetis riding a dolphin. He argues that artwork was treated as artwork in the late Second Temple period, rather than as idolatrous images; and therefore that the cache found in the Cave of Letters were of spares from the Temple, hidden there before the Roman siege of Jerusalem. Most scholars disagree with him... but since he made his assertion, the vessels in question have been displayed more prominently in the Shrine of the Book, and security around them has been stepped up.

So it's interesting to see how what Josephus has to say ties in with this. Josephus seems to claim it wasn't permissible to have images at all... but OTOH that when a king like Herod dedicated things to the Temple with images on, you smiled politely, said thank you, and accepted them anyway.

[Josephus] Josephus notes


Date: 2012-05-20 12:51 pm (UTC)
curious_reader: (Girafe)
From: [personal profile] curious_reader
The whale riding story reminds me of the belief of a still existing New Zealand Tribe. They also had a whale rider in their legends. It might not be specifically a dolphin but some other whale. There was a film about a little girl BBC iplayer some time ago (still on youtube) who tried to be like the boys. But was badly treated by her grandfather who believed in the partriachical society and seperate role of men and women. She proofed her point when she got the stranded whale moving. They had to rescue her because the whale just went under water. Dolphins supposed to be able to rescue people and not bringing them into danger. I am aware there is a big difference between behaviour of a Dolphin and a regular whale.

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