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Posts tagged ‘Second Temple’

The Burnt House: Memorial of Jerusalem’s Destruction.


Photo: The Burnt House (Travelujah)

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” (Matt. 24:1-2).

During the excavations that took place in the Jewish Quarter after the Six Day War in 1967, archaeologists discovered the ruins of a house that had collapsed and been burnt by a fierce fire.

Welcome to Beit Katros — the home of an important family of priests who served in the Second Temple and are mentioned in the Talmud. Visitors to the restored ancient site are in for a unique experience: a gripping multimedia, sound and light show dramatically recreates the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the Second Temple against the backdrop of the social strife and fraternal division that undermined the foundations of the Jewish nation.

The drama makes every visitor a part of the Katros family and of Jerusalem during those last tragic days of the city that Jesus knew and loved.

Entering the small museum, as one walks down towards the remains of the house, panels along the stairs bear sobering inscriptions from the Talmud and from the first-century Jewish historian Josephus Flavius attempting to explain the destruction of the city and its sanctuary:

“Why was Jerusalem destroyed? The first time because of idol worship; the second time because of unqualified hatred.”

“Woe to the children because of whose sins I destroyed my home and burnt down my sanctuary and cast them into exile among the nations of the world.”

The excavations have uncovered the full fury of the catastrophe: collapsed walls, stones seared by fire, charred wooden beams, soot, and shattered household utensils beneath heaps of fallen stones.

An iron spearhead found leaning against the wall in a corner of a room and the bones of a young woman’s arm found in the kitchen are further evidence of the fierce battle that took place here.

Numerous stones vessels remain in the various chambers, as well as stone tables, basalt mortars, cooking pots, measuring cups, weights and containers. As is the case in the houses of the Herodian Quarter, the predominance of stone items is explained by the Jewish laws of ritual purity, which state that stone vessels cannot become ritually impure.

An engraving found on one of the weights says “(de) Bar Katros.” The House of Katros is known to have been one of the priestly families serving in the Second Temple.

In an instant, the scene of destruction comes back to life as a film is projected on a screen lowered over the ruins and we are transported nearly 2,000 years back into the villa of the Katros family.

The story, narrated by a young man by the name of Zadok, begins with a festive Passover meal in the Katros home. Pinchas, Zadok’s father, is the head of the family and a priest. As the family and their guests commemorate the Exodus and their freedom from Egyptian slavery, they are clearly preoccupied by the immediate danger of the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman army. The Jewish revolt that had begun four years earlier has taken a disastrous turn. Like most priests, Pinchas tends to favor conciliation with the Romans. But Zadok is distressed that people are being killed by the Romans down in the lower city while the Jewish zealots are leading active resistance against them.

Pinchas reassures those present: “We have nothing to worry about: we are a family of priests. Who would touch a family of priests?”

He even dismisses his wife’s worries and her suggestion that they leave the city: if worse comes to worse, says Pinchas, they will find refuge in the Temple. When she suggests that even the Temple could be destroyed — as it had already happened in the past — Pinchas is outraged: “The Temple … destroyed? Unthinkable!”

Then Pinchas finds out something about his son Zadok’s role in the resistance against the Romans that makes him livid with anger. He is just about to throw his son out of the house when the housemaid intervenes: “the Temple will not survive if you continue to hate each other!”

As the Romans break into the city, tragedy strikes — first the Temple, and then the Katros family. When Zadok returns home, in the midst of his grief he exclaims: “Something tells me that we will one day return here, and that we will again inhabit the streets of Jerusalem.”

These words of hope are echoed by the words of the prophet Zechariah as the film transitions into images of lively families and children in the rebuilt Jewish Quarter of today:

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. … Thus says the LORD of hosts: behold, I will save my people from the east and from the west country, and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness” (Zec 8:4-8).

Revisit and experience the last days of Second Temple Jerusalem with a visit to the Burnt House!

If you go

Opening hours:

  • Sun. 10:00-17:00
  • Mon. 09:00-17:00
  • Tue. 09:00-17:00
  • Wed. 09:00-17:00
  • Thu. 09:00-17:00
  • Fri. 09:00-13:00

Entrance fee: $4.75 per adult, $3.75 per child

Address: 2 Hakaraim St., Jerusalem

Location: Jewish Quarter of the Old City

Phone: 972-2-6287211

Ariel Ben Ami was born in Canada and is currently a doctoral student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and writes regularly for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. He is fascinated by the Jewish roots of Christianity and enjoys writing about biblical and theological topics. He is the founder and director of Catholics for Israel, a lay apostolate dedicated to building bridges and fostering reconciliation between Israel and the church.

Travelujah is the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.

Publication date: May 10, 2012

Israel’s Answer to Valentine’s Day: Tu B’Av.


Couple holding hands
(© Orangeline | Stock Free Images)

Growing up in America, celebrating Valentine’s Day changed during the different stages in my life.

I remember the fun-themed Valentine’s Day cards that I would write in elementary school, hoping to receive a card from my Valentine, who was eight, by the way. What does an 8-year-old know of Valentine’s Day, besides the heart candy saying: Be My Valentine?

As I got older, Valentine’s Day took on a whole new meaning. In high school and in college, if you weren’t in a relationship, you wanted this day to come and go as quickly as possible. Eating out in restaurants was a huge mistake, as all the happy couples were expressing their love.

Living in Israel, I was so excited to realize that Israelis don’t pay too much attention to Feb. 14 because of its Christian origin.

Ok, restaurants have special (overpriced) menus and flowers are being sold. But it isn’t the crazed over-the-top, hit you on the head, “Hallmark holiday” like it is in the United States.

Little did I know that Judaism has a “Day of Love” of its own!

Tu B’Av, the 15th Day of Av, was celebrated in the time of the Second Temple period (before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.) marking the beginning of the grape harvest. It also served as a matchmaking day for unmarried women. The unmarried girls of Jerusalem dressed in white garments and went out to dance in the vineyards.

Today in Israel, it is celebrated as a holiday of love, Hag HaAhava (חג האהבה), similar to Valentine’s Day.

Sure, the marketing promotions are visible with shopping malls being decorated with pink and red hearts, bakeries selling heart-shaped cookies and cakes. But thankfully, these love-cliché items only make their appearance just a few days before, as a reminder of the love we cherish if we have it, and the love we long for if we don’t.

No matter where you live, you can’t escape a holiday for love. So I guess I should just embrace it instead of hiding from it. I don’t think I will see many unmarried girls here dance in vineyards this year. But on Valentine’s Day and on Tu B’Av, which falls this year on July 22, 2013, I will be sure to raise a glass of wine to my loved one.

For the original article, visit israelforver.org.

Source. CHARISMA MAGAZINE.

Is the Sabbath Still Required for Christians?.


EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an excerpt from 40 Questions about Christians and Biblical Law by Thomas R. Schreiner (Kregel Academic & Professional).

Believers today continue to dispute whether the Sabbath is required. The Sabbath was given to Israel as a covenant sign, and Israel was commanded to rest on the seventh day. We see elsewhere in the Old Testament that covenants have signs, so that the sign of the Noahic covenant is the rainbow (Gen. 9:8-17) and the sign of the Abrahamic covenant is circumcision (Gen. 17). The paradigm for the Sabbath was God’s rest on the seventh day of creation (Gen. 2:1-3). So, too, Israel was called upon to rest from work on the seventh day (Exod. 20:8-11; 31:12-17). What did it mean for Israel not to work on the Sabbath? Figure 5 lists the kinds of activities that were prohibited and permitted.

The Sabbath was certainly a day for social concern, for rest was mandated for all Israelites, including their children, slaves, and even animals (Deut. 5:14). It was also a day to honor and worship the Lord. Special burnt offerings were offered to the Lord on the Sabbath (Num. 28:9-10). Psalm 92 is a Sabbath song that voices praise to God for his steadfast love and faithfulness. Israel was called upon to observe the Sabbath in remembrance of the Lord’s work in delivering them as slaves from Egyptian bondage (Deut. 5:15). Thus, the Sabbath is tied to Israel’s covenant with the Lord, for it celebrates her liberation from slavery. The Sabbath, then, is the sign of the covenant between the Lord and Israel (Exod. 31:12-17; Ezek. 20:12-17). The Lord promised great blessing to those who observed the Sabbath (Isa. 56:2, 6; 58:13-14). Breaking the Sabbath command was no trivial matter, for the death penalty was inflicted upon those who intentionally violated it (Exod. 31:14-15; 35:2; Num. 15:32-36), though collecting manna on the Sabbath before the Mosaic law was codified did not warrant such a punishment (Exod. 16:22-30). Israel regularly violated the Sabbath—the sign of the covenant—and this is one of the reasons the people were sent into exile (Jer. 17:21-27; Ezek. 20:12-24).

FIGURE 5A: WORK PROHIBITED ON THE SABBATH 

Kindling a fire                  Exod. 35:3
Gathering manna              Exod. 16:23-29
Selling goods                   Neh. 10:31; 13:15-22
Bearing burdens              Jer. 17:19-27

FIGURE 5B: ACTIVITIES PERMITTED ON THE SABBATH 

Military campaigns          Josh. 6:15; 1 Kings 20:29; 2 Kings 3:9
Marriage feasts               Judg. 14:12-18
Dedication feasts            1 Kings 8:65; 2 Chron. 7:8-9
Visiting a man of God     2 Kings 4:23
Changing temple guards  2 Kings 11:5-9
Preparing showbread and putting it out   1 Chron. 9:32
Offering sacrifices           1 Chron. 23:31; Ezek. 46:4-5
Duties of priests and Levites  2 Kings 11:5-9; 2 Chron. 23:4, 8
Opening the east gate      Ezek. 46:1-3

During the Second Temple period, views of the Sabbath continued to de­velop. It is not my purpose here to conduct a complete study. Rather, a number of illustrations will be provided to illustrate how seriously Jews took the Sab­bath. The Sabbath was a day of feasting and therefore a day when fasting was not appropriate (Jdt. 8:6; 1 Macc. 1:39, 45). Initially, the Hasmoneans refused to fight on the Sabbath, but after they were defeated in battle they changed their minds and began to fight on the Sabbath (1 Macc. 2:32-41; cf. Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 12.274, 276-277). The author of Jubilees propounds a rig­orous view of the Sabbath (Jubilees 50:6-13). He emphasizes that no work should be done, specifying a number of tasks that are prohibited (50:12-13). Fasting is prohibited since the Sabbath is a day for feasting (50:10, 12). Sexual relations with one’s wife also are prohibited (50:8), though offering the sacri­fices ordained in the law are permitted (50:10). Those who violate the Sabbath prescriptions should die (50:7, 13). The Sabbath is eternal, and even the angels keep it (2:17-24). Indeed, the angels kept the Sabbath in heaven before it was established on earth (2:30). All Jewish authors concur that God commanded Israel to literally rest, though it is not surprising that Philo thinks of it as well in terms of resting in God (Sobriety, 1:174) and in terms of having thoughts of God that are fitting (Special Laws, 2:260). Philo also explains the number seven symbolically (Moses, 2:210).

The Qumran community was quite strict regarding Sabbath observance, maintaining that the right interpretation must be followed (CD 6:18; 10:14-23). Even if an animal falls into a pit it should not be helped on the Sabbath (CD 11:13-14), something Jesus assumes is permissible when talking to the Pharisees (Matt. 12:11). In the Mishnah thirty-nine different types of work are prohibited on the Sabbath (m. Shabbat 7:2).

I do not believe the Sabbath is required for believers now that the new covenant has arrived in the person of Jesus Christ. I should say, first of all, that it is not my purpose to reiterate what I wrote about the Sabbath in the Gospels since the Sabbath texts were investigated there. Here it is my purpose to pull the threads together in terms of the validity of the Sabbath for today. Strictly speaking, Jesus does not clearly abolish the Sabbath, nor does he violate its stipulations. Yet the focus on regulations that is evident in Jubilees, Qumran, and in the Mishnah is absent in Jesus’ teaching. He reminded his hearers that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). Some sectors of Judaism clearly had lost this perspective, so that the Sabbath had lost its humane dimension. They were so consumed with rules that they had forgotten mercy (Matt. 12:7). Jesus was grieved at the hardness of the Phari­sees’ hearts, for they lacked love for those suffering (Mark 3:5).

Jesus’ observance of the Sabbath does not constitute strong evidence for its continuation in the new covenant. His observance of the Sabbath makes excellent sense, for he lived under the Old Testament law. He was “born under the law” as Paul says (Gal. 4:4). On the other hand, a careful reading of the Gospel accounts intimates that the Sabbath will not continue to play a significant role. Jesus proclaims as the Son of Man that he is the “lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28). The Sabbath does not rule over him, but he rules over the Sabbath. He is the new David, the Messiah, to whom the Sabbath and all the Old Testament Scriptures point (Matt. 12:3-4). Indeed, Jesus even claimed in John 5:17 that he, like his Father, works on the Sabbath. Working on the Sabbath, of course, is what the Old Testament prohibits, but Jesus claimed that he must work on the Sabbath since he is equal with God (John 5:18).

It is interesting to consider here the standpoint of the ruler of the syna­gogue in Luke 13:10-17. He argued that Jesus should heal on the other six days of the week and not on the Sabbath. On one level this advice seems quite reasonable, especially if the strict views of the Sabbath that were common in Judaism were correct. What is striking is that Jesus deliberately healed on the Sabbath. Healing is what he “ought” (dei) to do on the Sabbath day (Luke 13:16). It seems that he did so to demonstrate his superiority to the Sabbath and to hint that it is not in force forever. There may be a suggestion in Luke 4:16-21 that Jesus fulfills the Jubilee of the Old Testament (Lev. 25). The rest and joy anticipated in Jubilee is fulfilled in him, and hence the rest and feasting of the Sabbath find their climax in Jesus.

We would expect the Sabbath to no longer be in force since it was the covenant sign of the Mosaic covenant, and, as I have argued elsewhere in this book, it is clear that believers are no longer under the Sinai covenant. There­fore, they are no longer bound by the sign of the covenant either. The Sabbath, as a covenant sign, celebrated Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, but the Exodus points forward, according to New Testament writers, to redemption in Christ. Believers in Christ were not freed from Egypt, and hence the covenant sign of Israel does not apply to them.

It is clear in Paul’s letters that the Sabbath is not binding upon believers. In Colossians Paul identifies the Sabbath as a shadow along with requirements regarding foods, festivals, and the new moon (Col. 2:16-17). The Sabbath, in other words, points to Christ and is fulfilled in him. The word for “shadow” (skia) that Paul uses to describe the Sabbath is the same term the author of Hebrews used to describe Old Testament sacrifices. The law is only a “shadow (skia) of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities” (Heb. 10:1). The argument is remarkably similar to what we see in Colossians: both contrast elements of the law as a shadow with the “substance” (sōma, Col. 2:17) or the “form” (eikona, Heb. 10:1) found in Christ. Paul does not denigrate the Sabbath. He salutes its place in salvation history, for, like the Old Testament sacrifices, though not in precisely the same way, it prepared the way for Christ. I know of no one who thinks Old Testament sacrifices should be instituted today; and when we compare what Paul says about the Sabbath with such sacrifices, it seems right to conclude that he thinks the Sabbath is no longer binding.

Some argue, however, that “Sabbath” in Colossians 2:16 does not refer to the weekly Sabbaths but only to sabbatical years. But this is a rather des­perate expedient, for the most prominent day in the Jewish calendar was the weekly Sabbath. We know from secular sources that it was the observance of the weekly Sabbath that attracted the attention of Gentiles (Juvenal, Sat­ires 14.96-106; Tacitus, Histories 5.4). Perhaps sabbatical years are included here, but the weekly Sabbath should not be excluded, for it would naturally come to the mind of both Jewish and Gentile readers. What Paul says here is remarkable, for he lumps the Sabbath together with food laws, festivals like Passover, and new moons. All of these constitute shadows that anticipate the coming of Christ. Very few Christians think we must observe food laws, Passover, and new moons. But if this is the case, then it is difficult to see why the Sabbath should be observed since it is placed together with these other matters.

Another crucial text on the Sabbath is Romans 14:5: “One person es­teems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” In Romans 14:1-15:6 Paul mainly discusses food that some—almost certainly those influenced by Old Testament food laws—think is defiled. Paul clearly teaches, in contrast to Leviticus 11:1-44 and Deuteronomy 14:3-21, that all foods are clean (Rom. 14:14, 20) since a new era of redemptive history has dawned. In other words, Paul sides theologically with the strong in the argument, believing that all foods are clean. He is concerned, however, that the strong avoid injuring and damaging the weak. The strong must respect the opinions of the weak (Rom. 14:1) and avoid arguments with them. Apparently the weak were not insisting that food laws and the observance of days were necessary for salvation, for if that were the case they would be proclaiming another gospel (cf. Gal. 1:8-9; 2:3-5; 4:10; 5:2-6), and Paul would not tolerate their viewpoint. Probably the weak believed that one would be a stronger Christian if one kept food laws and observed days. The danger for the weak was that they would judge the strong (Rom. 14:3-4), and the danger for the strong was that they would de­spise the weak (Rom. 14:3, 10). In any case, the strong seem to have had the upper hand in the Roman congregations, for Paul was particularly concerned that they not damage the weak.

Nevertheless, a crucial point must not be overlooked. Even though Paul watches out for the consciences of the weak, he holds the viewpoint of the strong on both food laws and days. John Barclay rightly argues that Paul subtly (or not so discreetly!) undermines the theological standpoint of the weak since he argues that what one eats and what days one observes are a matter of no concern.1 The Old Testament, on the other hand, is clear on the matter. The foods one eats and the days one observes are ordained by God. He has given clear commands on both of these issues. Hence, Paul’s argument is that such laws are no longer valid since believers are not under the Mosaic covenant. Indeed, the freedom to believe that all days are alike surely includes the Sabbath, for the Sabbath naturally would spring to the mind of Jewish readers since they kept the Sabbath weekly.

Paul has no quarrel with those who desire to set aside the Sabbath as a special day, as long as they do not require it for salvation or insist that other believers agree with them. Those who esteem the Sabbath as a special day are to be honored for their point of view and should not be despised or ridiculed. Others, however, consider every day to be the same. They do not think that any day is more special than another. Those who think this way are not to be judged as unspiritual. Indeed, there is no doubt that Paul held this opinion, since he was strong in faith instead of being weak. It is crucial to notice what is being said here. If the notion that every day of the week is the same is accept­able, and if it is Paul’s opinion as well, then it follows that Sabbath regulations are no longer binding. The strong must not impose their convictions on the weak and should be charitable to those who hold a different opinion, but Paul clearly has undermined the authority of the Sabbath in principle, for he does not care whether someone observes one day as special. He leaves it entirely up to one’s personal opinion. But if the Sabbath of the Old Testament were still in force, Paul could never say this, for the Old Testament makes incredibly strong statements about those who violate the Sabbath, and the death penalty is even required in some instances. Paul is living under a different dispensa­tion, that is, a different covenant, for now he says it does not matter whether one observes one day out of seven as a Sabbath.

Some argue against what is defended here by appealing to the creation order. As noted above, the Sabbath for Israel is patterned after God’s creation of the world in seven days. What is instructive, however, is that the New Tes­tament never appeals to Creation to defend the Sabbath. Jesus appealed to the creation order to support his view that marriage is between one man and one woman for life (Mark 10:2-12). Paul grounded his opposition to women teaching or exercising authority over men in the creation order (1 Tim. 2:12-13), and homosexuality is prohibited because it is contrary to nature (Rom. 1:26-27), in essence, to God’s intention when he created men and women. Similarly, those who ban believers from eating certain foods and from mar­riage are wrong because both food and marriage are rooted in God’s good creation (1 Tim. 4:3-5). We see nothing similar with the Sabbath. Never does the New Testament ground it in the created order. Instead, we have very clear verses that say it is a “shadow” and that it does not matter whether believers observe it. So, how do we explain the appeal to creation with reference to the Sabbath? It is probably best to see creation as an analogy instead of as a ground. The Sabbath was the sign of the Mosaic covenant, and since the cov­enant has passed away, so has the covenant sign.

Now it does not follow from this that the Sabbath has no significance for believers. It is a shadow, as Paul said, of the substance that is now ours in Christ. The Sabbath’s role as a shadow is best explicated by Hebrews, even if Hebrews does not use the word for “shadow” in terms of the Sabbath. The author of Hebrews sees the Sabbath as foreshadowing the eschatological rest of the people of God (Heb. 4:1-10). A “Sabbath rest” still awaits God’s people (v. 9), and it will be fulfilled on the final day when believers rest from earthly labors. The Sabbath, then, points to the final rest of the people of God. But since there is an already-but-not-yet character to what Hebrews says about rest, should believers continue to practice the Sabbath as long as they are in the not-yet?2 I would answer in the negative, for the evidence we have in the New Testament points in the contrary direction. We remember that the Sab­bath is placed together with food laws and new moons and Passover in Colos­sians 2:16, but there is no reason to think that we should observe food laws, Passover, and new moons before the consummation. Paul’s argument is that believers now belong to the age to come and the requirements of the old cov­enant are no longer binding.

Does the Lord’s Day, that is, Christians worshiping on the first day of the week, constitute a fulfillment of the Sabbath? The references to the Lord’s Day in the New Testament are sparse. In Troas believers gathered “on the first day of the week . . . to break bread” and they heard a long message from Paul (Acts 20:7). Paul commands the Corinthians to set aside money for the poor “on the first day of every week” (1 Cor. 16:2). John heard a loud voice speaking to him “on the Lord’s day” (Rev. 1:10). These scattered hints suggest that the early Christians at some point began to worship on the first day of the week. The practice probably has its roots in the resurrection of Jesus, for he appeared to his disciples “the first day of the week” (John 20:19). All the Synoptics emphasize that Jesus rose on the first day of the week, i.e., Sunday: “very early on the first day of the week” (Mark 16:2; cf. Matt. 28:1; Luke 24:1). The fact that each of the Gospels stresses that Jesus was raised on the first day of the week is striking. But we have no indication that the Lord’s Day func­tions as a fulfillment of the Sabbath. It is likely that gathering together on the Lord’s Day stems from the earliest church, for we see no debate on the issue in church history, which is quite unlikely if the practice originated in Gentile churches outside Israel. By way of contrast, we think of the intense debate in the first few centuries on the date of Easter. No such debate exists regarding the Lord’s Day.

The early roots of the Lord’s Day are verified by the universal practice of the Lord’s Day in Gentile churches in the second century.3 It is not surprising that many Jewish Christians continued to observe the Sabbath as well. One segment of the Ebionites practiced the Lord’s Day and the Sabbath. Their ob­servance of both is instructive, for it shows that the Lord’s Day was not viewed as the fulfillment of the Sabbath but as a separate day.

Most of the early church fathers did not practice or defend literal Sab­bath observance (cf.Diognetus 4:1) but interpreted the Sabbath eschatologi­cally and spiritually. They did not see the Lord’s Day as a replacement of the Sabbath but as a unique day. For instance, in the Epistle of Barnabas, the Sab­baths of Israel are contrasted with “the eighth day” (15:8), and the latter is described as “a beginning of another world.” Barnabas says that “we keep the eighth day” (which is Sunday), for it is “the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead” (15:9). The Lord’s Day was not viewed as a day in which be­lievers abstained from work, as was the case with the Sabbath. Instead, it was a day in which most believers were required to work, but they took time in the day to meet together in order to worship the Lord.4 The contrast between the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day is clear in Ignatius, when he says, “If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death” (To the Magnesians 9:1). Ignatius, writing about a.d. 110, specifically contrasts the Sabbath with the Lord’s Day, showing that he did not believe the latter replaced the former.5 Bauckham argues that the idea that the Lord’s day replaced the Sabbath is post-Constantinian. Luther saw rest as necessary but did not tie it to Sunday.6 A stricter interpretation of the Sabbath became more common with the Puritans, along with the Seventh-Day Baptists and later the Seventh-Day Adventists.7

SUMMARY

Believers are not obligated to observe the Sabbath. The Sabbath was the sign of the Mosaic covenant. The Mosaic covenant and the Sabbath as the covenant sign are no longer applicable now that the new covenant of Jesus Christ has come. Believers are called upon to honor and respect those who think the Sabbath is still mandatory for believers. But if one argues that the Sabbath is required for salvation, such a teaching is contrary to the gospel and should be resisted forcefully. In any case, Paul makes it clear in both Romans 14:5 and Colossians 2:16-17 that the Sabbath has passed away now that Christ has come. It is wise naturally for believers to rest, and hence one principle that could be derived from the Sabbath is that believers should regularly rest. But the New Testament does not specify when that rest should take place, nor does it set forth a period of time when that rest should occur. We must remember that the early Christians were required to work on Sundays. They worshiped the Lord on the Lord’s Day, the day of Jesus’ resurrection, but the early Christians did not believe the Lord’s Day fulfilled or replaced the Sab­bath. The Sabbath pointed toward eschatological rest in Christ, which be­lievers enjoy in part now and will enjoy fully on the Last Day.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS 

1. What is the strongest argument for continued observance of the Sabbath?

2. What evidence in Paul suggests that the Sabbath is no longer required?

3. How does Hebrews contribute to our theology of the Sabbath?

4. What is the relationship between the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day?

5. What is your view on observing the Sabbath today?

Footnotes:

1. John M. G. Barclay, “‘Do We Undermine the Law?’ A Study of Romans 14.1-15.6,” in Paul and the Mosaic Law, WUNT 89 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1996), 287-308.

2. So Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., “A Sabbath Rest Still Awaits the People of God,” in Pressing To­ward the Mark: Essays Commemorating Fifty Years of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, ed. Charles G. Dennison and Richard C. Gamble (Philadelphia: The Committee for the Historian of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 1986), 33-51. Gaffin argues that the rest is only eschatological. I support Andrew Lincoln’s view that it is of an already-but-not-yet character (Andrew T. Lincoln, “Sabbath, Rest, and Eschatology in the New Testament,” in From Sabbath to Lord’s Day: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Investigation, ed. D. A. Carson [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982], 197-220).

3. For a detailed discussion of some of the issues raised here, see R. J. Bauckham, “The Lord’s Day,” in From Sabbath to Lord’s Day: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Investigation, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982), 221-50; idem, “Sabbath and Sunday in the Post-Apostolic Church,” in From Sabbath to Lord’s Day, 257-69.

4. So Bauckham, “Sabbath and Sunday in the Post-Apostolic Church,” 274.

5. Cf. the concluding comments of Bauckham, “The Lord’s Day,” 240.

6. Martin Luther, “How Christians Should Regard Moses,” in Luther’s Works, vol. 35, Word and Sacrament, ed. Helmut T. Lehmann (general editor) and E. Theodore Bachman (Phil­adelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1960), 165.

7. Bauckham’s survey of history is immensely valuable. See Bauckham, “Sabbath and Sunday in the Post-Apostolic Church,” 251-98; idem, “Sabbath and Sunday in the Medieval Church in the West,” in From Sabbath to Lord’s Day, 299-309; idem, “Sabbath and Sunday in the Protestant Tradition,” in From Sabbath to Lord’s Day, 311-41.

Copyright 2010 Thomas R. Schreiner.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Kregel Publications
P.O. Box 2607
Grand Rapids, MI 49503.

By Thomas R. Schreiner

Discovering the Jerusalem From the Time of Jesus.


Photo: Inside the Herodian Quarter (Travelujah)

What did Jerusalem look like in Jesus’ days? For most of Christian history, this question remained shrouded in mystery.

When the Temple and city were destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., the ruins remained buried for nearly two millennia — even after the Jewish people began to return to the Land of Israel at the end of the nineteenth century. During the War of Independence (1948), the Jewish Quarter of the Old City was largely destroyed by the Jordanians and it remained off limits to Jews for 19 years, until Israel retook the Old City during the Six Day War (1967).

After the Six Day War, during the renovation of the Jewish Quarter (1967-82), the ancient site was uncovered, revealing spectacular finds: a luxurious Second Temple-period residential quarter in the Upper City of Jerusalem. Because of its grandeur and opulence, it was renamed the Herodian Quarter, also known today as the Wohl Museum of Archeology.

In the days when Jesus came up to Jerusalem every year to celebrate the Jewish festivals, the wealthy aristocratic and priestly families lived in the magnificent houses of the Herodian Quarter. It is easy to see why this area, built on a hillside overlooking the nearby Temple Mount, would have been particularly attractive to priests who ministered in the Temple every day.

Today, this is the largest and most important site from Second Temple times that can still be seen in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter. Perhaps even some of the priests and Sadducees whom the Gospels recall as disputing with Jesus, lived in these houses.

Descending three meters below the present ground level, we go back 2,000 years in time, to the upper city of Jerusalem in the Herodian period.

The archeological remains of the cellars of six luxurious homes — probably then two stories in height — provide a vivid picture of the inhabitants’ wealth. Numerous storage rooms, reservoirs, bathhouses and ritual baths, ovens, colorful mosaics, frescoes, elegant household items and other decorative adornments led archaeologists to conclude that the residents enjoyed a very high standard of living.

One unique find is the seven-branched menorah (candelabra) carved on one of the walls. This is the oldest explicit depiction of the menorah, and it was probably carved by a person who had actually seen the original menorah, still at use at that time in the Temple.

Throughout the museum there are displays of terra cotta tableware, imported amphorae for wine and delicate flasks. The presence of several ritual baths and many stone vessels are an indication that the residents were priests who strictly adhered to the Jewish laws of ritual purity, because stone vessels were not subjected to ritual impurity.

Comparative pictures in the museum show how the site developed over the years, with illustrations of the Jewish Quarter in the 1940s (before it was destroyed in the War of Independence), during the excavations in the 1970s, and the rebuilt Jewish Quarter in the 1990s.

On the eastern side of the site, we arrive at a row of columns that belonged to a “peristyle” — a colonnade surrounding an open court — which formed part of an especially fine mansion. The Peristyle Building testifies to the wealth of the neighborhood and to how the inhabitants designed their homes meticulously in the Greco-Roman style that was popular in those times. From here the residents would have had a splendid view of the Temple esplanade where Jesus spent much of his time when he was in Jerusalem.

The Peristyle Building

Photo: The Peristyle Building

A little further down, there is a beautiful mosaic floor found in the reception hall of another elegant Jewish residence. Then, we come to the “palatial mansion,” the largest and most splendid of the houses uncovered on the site, probably inhabited by one of the families of the High Priest.

As one nears the end of the tour, a burnt room provides a glimpse of the tragic and violent end of the neighborhood and its inhabitants: The charred wooden beams that collapsed from the ceiling and the burnt mosaic stones testify to the great fire that raged in the city and to the destruction wrought by the Romans — the last moments of Jerusalem in its glory.

Herodian Quarter model

Photo: A model of the Herodian Quarter as it would have looked at the time of Jesus

The Wohl Museum is situated just off the main square in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Guided tours and private tours are available, as well as MP3 recorded tours. For reservations, call 02-626-5922 or visit http://www.jewish-quarter.org.il/.

Ariel Ben Ami was born in Canada and is currently a doctoral student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and writes regularly for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. He is fascinated by the Jewish roots of Christianity and enjoys writing about biblical and theological topics. He is the founder and director of Catholics for Israel, a lay apostolate dedicated to building bridges and fostering reconciliation between Israel and the church.

Travelujah is the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.

Publication date: February 21, 2012

Discovering the Jerusalem From the Time of Jesus.


Photo: Inside the Herodian Quarter (Travelujah)

What did Jerusalem look like in Jesus‘ days? For most of Christian history, this question remained shrouded in mystery.

When the Temple and city were destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., the ruins remained buried for nearly two millennia — even after the Jewish people began to return to the Land of Israel at the end of the nineteenth century.

During the War of Independence (1948), the Jewish Quarter of the Old City was largely destroyed by the Jordanians and it remained off limits to Jews for 19 years, until Israel retook the Old City during the Six Day War (1967).

After the Six Day War, during the renovation of the Jewish Quarter (1967-82), the ancient site was uncovered, revealing spectacular finds: a luxurious Second Temple-period residential quarter in the Upper City of Jerusalem. Because of its grandeur and opulence, it was renamed the Herodian Quarter, also known today as the Wohl Museum of Archeology.

In the days when Jesus came up to Jerusalem every year to celebrate the Jewish festivals, the wealthy aristocratic and priestly families lived in the magnificent houses of the Herodian Quarter. It is easy to see why this area, built on a hillside overlooking the nearby Temple Mount, would have been particularly attractive to priests who ministered in the Temple every day.

Today, this is the largest and most important site from Second Temple times that can still be seen in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter. Perhaps even some of the priests and Sadducees whom the Gospels recall as disputing with Jesus, lived in these houses.

Descending three meters below the present ground level, we go back 2,000 years in time, to the upper city of Jerusalem in the Herodian period.

The archeological remains of the cellars of six luxurious homes — probably then two stories in height — provide a vivid picture of the inhabitants’ wealth. Numerous storage rooms, reservoirs, bathhouses and ritual baths, ovens, colorful mosaics, frescoes, elegant household items and other decorative adornments led archaeologists to conclude that the residents enjoyed a very high standard of living.

One unique find is the seven-branched menorah (candelabra) carved on one of the walls. This is the oldest explicit depiction of the menorah, and it was probably carved by a person who had actually seen the original menorah, still at use at that time in the Temple.

Throughout the museum there are displays of terra cotta tableware, imported amphorae for wine and delicate flasks. The presence of several ritual baths and many stone vessels are an indication that the residents were priests who strictly adhered to the Jewish laws of ritual purity, because stone vessels were not subjected to ritual impurity.

Comparative pictures in the museum show how the site developed over the years, with illustrations of the Jewish Quarter in the 1940s (before it was destroyed in the War of Independence), during the excavations in the 1970s, and the rebuilt Jewish Quarter in the 1990s.

On the eastern side of the site, we arrive at a row of columns that belonged to a “peristyle” — a colonnade surrounding an open court — which formed part of an especially fine mansion. The Peristyle Building testifies to the wealth of the neighborhood and to how the inhabitants designed their homes meticulously in the Greco-Roman style that was popular in those times. From here the residents would have had a splendid view of the Temple esplanade where Jesus spent much of his time when he was in Jerusalem.

The Peristyle Building

Photo: The Peristyle Building

A little further down, there is a beautiful mosaic floor found in the reception hall of another elegant Jewish residence. Then, we come to the “palatial mansion,” the largest and most splendid of the houses uncovered on the site, probably inhabited by one of the families of the High Priest.

As one nears the end of the tour, a burnt room provides a glimpse of the tragic and violent end of the neighborhood and its inhabitants: The charred wooden beams that collapsed from the ceiling and the burnt mosaic stones testify to the great fire that raged in the city and to the destruction wrought by the Romans — the last moments of Jerusalem in its glory.

Herodian Quarter model

Photo: A model of the Herodian Quarter as it would have looked at the time of Jesus

The Wohl Museum is situated just off the main square in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Guided tours and private tours are available, as well as MP3 recorded tours. For reservations, call 02-626-5922 or visit http://www.jewish-quarter.org.il/.

Ariel Ben Ami was born in Canada and is currently a doctoral student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and writes regularly for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. He is fascinated by the Jewish roots of Christianity and enjoys writing about biblical and theological topics. He is the founder and director of Catholics for Israel, a lay apostolate dedicated to building bridges and fostering reconciliation between Israel and the church.

Travelujah is the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.

Publication date: February 21, 2012

By Ariel Ben Ami.

Archaeologists Find Rare ‘Pure to God’ Temple Seal.


Archaeologists digging near the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City unearthed a rare find used in the daily work of the ancient Jewish Temple.

The small clay seal is inscribed with two words in Aramaic meaning “pure to God.”

“This is the first time we got [found] something that belongs to God, belongs to something that came from the temple,” Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Eli Shukron said.

Archaeologists say the seal is the first archaeological evidence of the administrative workings of the Second Temple. That temple was built around 500 B.C. after Solomon’s Temple had been destroyed.

Experts believe temple officials used the seal as a stamp to indicate that an object, such as oil or an animal for sacrifice, was approved for ritual use in the temple.

Archaeologists found this latest treasure, dated between the first century B.C. and 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed the Second Temple, while excavating near the foundations of the Western Wall.

“It’s very, very exciting to find something that priests use in the temple before 2,000 years—something that belong[ed] to the temple, and this is the first time we found a thing like that—ever,” Shukron said.

Layers of soil covered the giant foundation stones of the outer wall of the Temple Mount. During the time of the Second Temple, the main street of Jerusalem would have been above it … including the years when Jesus walked the city.

Shukron said all the dirt and debris from the area is meticulously sifted for artifacts.

“And the dirt that covered this stone from here we took it to the sifting and then we sifted and found the seal from this area, from this area that we stand,” he explained.

Archaeologists are not allowed to excavate on the Temple Mount itself because of political and religious sensitivities. It currently houses the Muslim mosques and shrines.

Not long ago, archaeologists found coins in a ritual bath under the nearby Western Wall, which indicated that King Herod the Great, builder of Jerusalem, didn’t finish the Western Wall himself before he died.

By Julie Stahl/CBN News.

Important Archaeological Discoveries inJerusalem.


Israeli archaeologists made two important discoveries during excavations of a drainage channel in the ancient City of Davidincluding a Roman sword from the time of the destruction of the second Jewish temple in 70 AD and an engraving of a Menorah on a piece of stone dating from 66 AD.

The finds, which were announced on Monday by the Israel Antiquities Authority, show that the drainage channel in theCity of David served as a hiding place for the residents of Jerusalem during the Roman siege of the second temple, the IAA said in a statement.

Excavation directors Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa noted thatthe sword likely belonged to a Roman infantryman.

“The sword’s fine state of preservation is surprising: not onsraeli archaeologists made two important discoveries during excavations of a drainage channel in the ancient City of Davidly its length (23.6 inches, 60 cm.), but also the preservation of the leather scabbard (a material that generally disintegrates quickly over time) and some of its decoration,” the IAA statement said.

The second temple, built by King Herod, was destroyed in 70 AD by the Roman.

A stone object engraved with a picture of a menorah was found next to the channel. Researchers believe that the etching of the golden seven-branched candelabrum may been carved by a visitor to the nearby temple, but later tossed aside.

The carving confirms the original design of the menorah’s base: a tripod shape, Shukron and Reich said.

The sword is the third Roman one found in Jerusalem.

The ancient drainage channel begins in the Siloam Pool and runs from the City of David to the archaeological garden near the Western Wall.

The excavations are being conducted on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority and underwritten by the City of David Foundation

By Nicole Jansezian.

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