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Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Please Note, the following article is NOT written by myself, all credit is to the Authors and editor respectively.

BARABBAS - JEWISH AND ROMAN LAW

I will present you a few facts about Jewish and Roman law in the days of Jesus, and how these facts render the gospel stories to be inaccurate at the very least.
According to Matthew, each year on Passover the Roman procurator (in this case Pontius Pilate}, offered the Jews gathered in Jerusalem the opportunity to save the life of a prisoner condemned to death. That year, the choice was between a brigand and anti-Roman revolutionary named Barabbas and Jesus.
According to Matthew, the Jews without exception chose Barabbas and shouted concerning Jesus, “Let him be crucified.” (Mat 27:22-23) Obviously it was important to Matthew that ALL the Jews shouted this response, that way, all their descendants could be implicated in their ancestors' supposed crime of causing "deicide.” Do Christians truly believe this is logical? If they would just think about it, instead of acting upon their emotions they would see that every element in this story {Matt 27:11-26}, including the mob's cry, can be shown to be full of historical inaccuracies and unthinkable acts.

First, Matthew asserts that although Pilate offered the Jews a choice between Jesus and Barabbas, his own desire was to spare Jesus. In that case, as asked by the late Israeli Supreme Court Justice Chaim Cohn in The Trial and Death of Jesus, "Why then did he [Pilate] not pardon him [Jesus]? Pilate functioned in Judea as a dictator with his power only limited by the Roman Emperor himself. Had he chosen, he could have simply released Jesus. Even if the Jews had the privilege of demanding the release of one prisoner, they certainly had no right to demand the execution of a man that Pilate wished to save.

Justice Cohn also asks: "Even if such a choice existed, why was the choice limited to only Jesus and Barabbas?" Limiting the choice to two people is an effective literary technique that heightens dramatic tension in a story, magnifies the idea that the Jews are evil and helps to focus on the event or events portrayed.

Since the New Testament (NT) shows that Barabbas is a brigand, an instigator of a large riot and a murderer {Luke 23;19}, the Jews choice of him over Jesus is the perfect retinue to portray the Jews as evil. Author Hyam Maccoby discusses this point in his book Revolution in Judea. After a long study of the Barabbas story, Professor S.G.F. Brandon, a Christian historian of the rise in Christianity, concluded that this incident never happened. To cite just one of the incongruities that convinced him that the story is fiction: "The outcome of Pilate's amazing conduct was that he sentenced to death one he knew was innocent, and released a popular resistance fighter, probably a Zealot who had just proved how dangerous he could be." ( Jesus and the Zealots, page 262)

Given that the Barabbas story contradicts what we know historically about the actions of Rome on conquered territories, what purpose does this story have? There appear to be two purposes here:
First, to prove to Roman leaders that, although they had executed Jesus, he was no enemy of Rome. The Roman procurator wished to exonerate him {Jesus}. Therefore, Jesus was only executed because the Jews "forced" Pilate to do so.

Second, by showing that the Jews were the betrayers of Jesus, the early church could more justifiably argue that the Jews had caused God to be "killed" therefore losing their place as being chosen of God and that Christianity now replaced Judaism. For this reason, the story has ALL the Jews clamoring for Jesus' blood. It would have been much less dramatic to only have the high priest and a few elders responsible.
Furthermore, do you know that Barabbas means: Son of the Father (from the Aramaic Bar abbas), and that his first name was Jesus !!! His real name is even still to be found in the first editions of the NT in the 4th century C.E., but was removed later on so people would not know this fact. (Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine by Audustinus Merk, edited in 1933 by the Istituto Biblico Pontificio, page 101)

So:
• Jesus, the SON of the Father, (Barabbas) was freed (according to NT)
• Jesus, the King of the Jews, was executed (according to the NT)
Since the latter was a politically dangerous stand which would provoke rebellion for which the Romans would not permit.Ypu should see this is all theology and not a real description of the events. None of these NT events was ever recorded by a single contemporary historian.

Historically, there was NEVER a habit of freeing a prisoner before Passover. Furthermore Pilate was a very cruel man (see Flavius Josephus, and Philo on this), who NEVER listened to anybody, but himself. For a Roman procurator to wash his hands of responsibility for carrying out imperial policy is not only illogical, it is absurd, particularly given that Roman records indicate that Pilate was removed as procurator partially for excessive cruelty. Also historically, there was no established Jewish or Roman custom at the time of giving up a condemned state criminal to a mob.

But the gospel writer had to set Pilate free of guilt, for in Rome where the first gospel was written about 71 C.E.. this was the only way to tell about such an execution without alienating the Romans. The Romans could live with a mystical spiritual "Son of the Father" entity, but could NOT live with killing a real person messiah King, who would bring rebellion among the Jewish masses against the Romans.

To address the issue of the trial and crucifixion, we need to recognize a few things. First, that Jewish law was in force at the time as long as it did not conflict with Roman rights. When we read about Jesus going into the Temple and overturning the tables of the moneychangers, two things must be remembered. First, that the moneychangers were there for a sacred purpose―to exchange ritually unusable roman coins for Jewish tokens and to facilitate the purchase of animals and other offerings for sacrifice. This act instigated both the Romans and the Sadducee hierarchy against him for motivating political unrest.

How do we know in the NT story that the Romans considered Jesus dangerous? Well, the original Greek term used for the unit which arrested him in gethsemane is “cohortes.” It has been variously translated as group, company, squad, etc. Some Christians guess that it would number no more than a couple of dozen soldiers and perhaps Sadducee temple guards. However, the word ”cohorts” has a very specific meaning to historians of ancient military. Roman nomenclature for military units included in ascending order the maniple, century, cohort, and legion. At the time of the crucifixion, the size of a cohort in provincial service was at least 700 roman soldiers. In a place with unrest like Judea, it would have been larger, and would also have included another 300 to 700 local or mercenary auxiliaries. There is evidence of this magnitude throughout Caesar's The Conquest of Gaul and many other contemporary Roman sources.

One is left with the question―Why did the garrison commander of Jerusalem (whose headquarters was at the AcraFortress, Northwest of the temple mount and near gethsemane) send upwards of one thousand legionaries (a large and significant fraction of the city's garrison) to arrest a supposedly peaceful man and a few of his supporters? They were probably afraid of the 'popular' support Jesus had―a lot of people looked to him as a Messianic figure, and the Romans probably wanted to make sure they'd be able to put down any spontaneous unrest Jesus' arrest might lead to. Considering that the Romans saw him as a threat, and had more than enough reasons to deal with him, it becomes clear that the story as reported in the gospels about a Jewish trial is surely added to make the story political acceptable in Rome.

Why can we say that the Jewish trial of Jesus as described in the gospels never happened? Well for one: Roman law was permissive of national legal authorities as long as they did not interfere with imperial affairs. In fact such legal systems were encouraged during the PAX ROMANA from the time of Augustus until the advent of Vespasian. Any court, had they in fact convened and convicted someone of a crime mandating the death penalty, would have been permitted, even encouraged to carry out the penalty, unless the accused was a Roman citizen.

So if Jesus would have been brought before a Jewish court and would have been found guilty, then the sentence would have been executed by the Jewish court, a Sanhedrin could have had him killed, had they actually tried him. But we read nothing of the sort. The gospels tell us he was crucified. And, crucifixion was a particularly Roman punishment for crimes against the empire.

When a Jew looks at existing Jewish history and law, he will see no basis for the NT account in any practical sense, but he will in fact see evidence that the writer or redactor was wholly IGNORANT of Jewish law and custom, and even of Roman history and law of the period.

There is no alternative but to reject this account not only for its odious “assumption” of responsibility by the Jews. By the way, despite all of the collected protestations to the contrary, the NT specifies Jews as a whole, not Pharisees or Sadducees and not all peoples of the world either. But this NT account should be rejected because it is incompatible with existing law, custom and history of the period.

Laws of the Sanhedrin Regarding Trials:
1. There was to be no arrest by religious authorities that was effected by a bribe Ex. 23:8
2. There were to be no steps of criminal proceedings after sunset.
3. Judges or Sanhedrin members were not allowed to participate in the arrest.
4. There were to be no trials before the morning sacrifice.
5. There were to be no secret trials, only public.
6. Sanhedrin trials could only be conducted in the Hall of Judgment of the Temple Compound.
7. The procedure was to be first the defense and then the accusation.
8. All may agree in favor of acquittal, but all may not argue in favor of conviction.
9. There were to be two or three witness and their testimony had to agree in every detail. Deu. 19:15.
10. There was to be no allowance for the accused to testify against himself.
11. The High Priest was forbidden to rent his garments. Leviticus 21:10
12. Charges could not originate with the judges; they could only investigate charges brought to them.
13. The accusation of blasphemy was only valid if the name, of G-d, itself was pronounced (and heard by 2 witnesses).
14. A person could not be condemned on the basis of his own words alone.
15. The verdict could not be announced at night, only in the daytime.
16. In cases of capital punishment, the trial and guilty verdict could not occur at the same time but must be separated by at least 24 hours.
17. Voting for he death penalty had to be done by individual count beginning with the youngest so the young would not be influenced by the elders.
18. A unanimous decision for guilt shows innocence since it is impossible for 23-71 men to agree without plotting.
19. The sentence could only be pronounced three days after the guilty verdict.
20. Judges were to be humane and kind.
21. A person condemned to death was not to be scourged or beaten beforehand.
22. No trials are allowed on the eve of the Sabbath or on a feast day.
As Chaim H. Cohn (at that time justice of the supreme Court of Israel) wrote in his Reflections on the Trial and death of Jesus: "Such wholesale violation of all the rules of law and procedure is not only highly improbable, but, in view of the rigorous and formalistic exactitude for which the Pharisees were notorious, rather inconceivable."

Also the High Priest would NEVER ask if he was "the Son of G-d, the Messiah...” The whole 'son of G-d' idea was a pagan idea of sons of gods. In Judaism in those days a son of G-d was a Jew who lived according to Torah, so such a qualification was not to be a ground for conviction of anything, or even to be tried for! It has no connection to Moshiach, apart from the fact that Moshiach of course also is a son of G-d in the Jewish sense.

All of the above makes abundantly clear that a Jewish trial as described in the NT, and meant to accuse the Jewish people, NEVER happened.

I hope you are willing to open your eyes and to start to realize that Jews are viciously portrayed to be responsible for killing Jesus, by means of made-up stories that are inconsistent and incompatible with Jewish and Roman history and practice of those days.

Remember, yetzias Mitzraim, which was done for the Jews, ONLY, to come to Sinai, where we accepted the most beautiful gift a people could possibly ask for, TORAH.

Jews are set before the choice as Moshe tells us in Devarim (28-30), to do as G-d has commanded us and keep His Torah, or to (chas ve sholom) turn away from it, to follow foreign deities.

Make the right choice.
--Kochav


Sources:
Chaim H. Cohn Reflections on the trial and death of Jesus
H. Maccoby Revolution in Judea
David Donnini Fake Trial
Arieh


HYPERLINK "http://jdstone.org/cr/pages/s_trial.html" RETURN

1 comments:

pascale said...

I thought you might be interested in learning about OUR Jewish traditions which embrace the real Christ. We are the Frankist Association of America. One of our members has a new book out:

http://www.amazon.com/Real-Messiah-Throne-Origins-Christianity/dp/1906787123/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245892844&sr=8-1

These are our teachings passed on through generations. If you can't afford the book you can see the website of one of our teachers - www.stephanhuller.blogspot.com.

Shalom

Beth El Jacob Frank

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Hi, I really enjoy hanging out with friends and family. I also enjoy studying comparative religion and hope one day to be a History Teacher and a Psychologist. If you'd like, you can also watch me on Youtube.
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