Mark 6 – Jesus Rejected in Nazareth & Politics in the Holy Land Leading Up to the Time of Jesus

The Romans were barbaric and deceitful people, and that was towards Roman citizens.  Imagine how they treated outsiders, like the Jews.  We can only dream how horrible they must have been towards Jesus, a man they feared.

There can be no doubt that Jesus had a hard life, so tomorrow we’re going to look at…

Mark 6
Jesus Rejected in Nazareth

1 And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him.

The holy site of Nebi Samuel is the traditional tomb of prophet Samuel, with remains from the Hasmonean period (2nd C BC) through the Crusaders period (12th C A.D.).

2 And when the Sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?

3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

“Carpenter” – Matthew reports that Jesus was called “the carpenter’s son”; only in Mark is Jesus Himself referred to as a carpenter.  The Greek word can also apply to a mason or smith or builder in general.

“They were offended at him” – they saw no reason to believe that He was different from them, much less that He was specially anointed by God.

4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.

5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.

“He could there do no mighty work” = it was not that Jesus didn’t have power to perform miracles at Nazareth, but that He chose not to in such a climate of unbelief.

In the mid-60 BC, Pompey joined Marcus Licinius Crassus and Gaius Julius Caesar in the unofficial military-political alliance known as the First Triumvirate, which Pompey’s marriage to Caesar’s daughter Julia helped secure. After the deaths of Julia and Crassus, Pompey sided with the optimates, the conservative faction of the Roman Senate.

6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.

7 And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;

8 And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse:

“No scrip, no bread, no money in their purse” –they were to depend entirely on the hospitality of those to whom they testified.  A scrip was a small bag.

9 But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.

“Not put on two coats” – at night an extra tunic was helpful as a covering to protect from the cold night air, and the implication here is that the disciples were to trust in God to provide lodging each night.

10 And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place.

11 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.

12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent.

13 And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.

“Anointed with oil many that were sick” – in the ancient world olive oil was widely used as a medicine.

14 And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.

15 Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets.

16 But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.

“John…risen from the dead” – Herod, disturbed by an uneasy conscience and disposed to superstition, feared that John had come back to haunt him.

17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her.

This reconstruction shows the peristyle courtyard at Machaerus, where Herod Antipas sat and watched the deadly dance of his step-daughter Salome.
Author Győző Vörös told Bible History Daily that this reconstruction was based on details from the excavation, including “hundreds of fragments from the red tiled roof of the former Herodian royal palace.

“Laid hold upon John and bound him in prison” – Josephus says that John was imprisoned at Machaerus, the fortress in Perea on the eastern side of the Dead Sea.

18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.

19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not:

20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.

21 And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee;

22 And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.

23 And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.

“Unto the half of my kingdom” – a proverbial; reference to generosity, not to be taken literally (see Est 5:3, 6).

24 And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist.

Excavated and partially reconstructed city of Scythopolis from the theater; beyond is the massive, 160-foot-high tell (Tell al-Husn, “fortress mound”) of the Old Testament-era city of Beth Shan, containing some twenty layers of settlement dating back over 9000 years.

The Gospels state that Jesus’ travels took him through the Decapolis region at various times. As he wandered through the region he might have imagined he had been magically transported to Greece. The ten cities located there were out and out Greek cities that took Athens as their model.

They had temples honoring Zeus, Artemis, Dionysus and other Greek gods, all in a prominent location in each city. They were the first thing any visitor would have seen. The cities also had other public structures typical of Greek cities: theaters, colonnade-lined streets and marketplaces, stadiums, g
ymnasiums and baths.

Mk 7:31 records that Jesus passed through the Decapolis after he left the region of Tyre and Sidon, and there healed “a man who was deaf and could hardly talk.” Also, Matt 4:25 states: “Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.

25 And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist.

26 And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.

27 And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison,

28 And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother.

29 And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.

30 And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.

31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

32 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.

“They departed into a desert place by ship privately” – John reports that they went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  Luke more specifically says they went to Bethsaida, which locates the feeding of the 5,000 on the northeast shore.

33 And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him.

34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.

35 And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed:

36 Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.

The Decapolis (“Ten Cities”; Greek: deka, ten; polis, city) was a group of ten cities on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire in Jordan and Syria.
The ten cities were not an official league or political unit, but they were grouped together because of their language, culture, location, and political status, with each possessing a certain degree of autonomy and self-rule.

The Decapolis cities were centers of Greek and Roman culture in a region that was otherwise Semitic (Nabatean, Aramean, and Judean). With the exception of Damascus, Hippos and Scythopolis, the “Region of the Decapolis” was located in modern-day Jordan.

37 He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?

“Two hundred pennyworth” – the usual pay for the day’s work was one penny or denarius, meaning that about 200 denarii would take about eight months to earn.

38 He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? Go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes.

39 And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass.

“Green grass” – grass is green around the Sea of Galilee after the late winter or early spring.

40 And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.

“In ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties” – recalls the order of the Mosaic camp in the wilderness (e.g., Ex 18:21).  The word translated “ranks” means “garden plots,” a picturesque figure.

41 And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and break the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all.

42 And they did all eat, and were filled.

43 And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes.

The Arnon. The water from the Transjordan tableland flows east from an elevation of more than 5000 feet to the Dead Sea (nearly 1300 feet below sea level). This picture shows the Arnon a few yards before it reaches the Dead Sea. During the rainy season there is much more water.

 44 And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.

“Five thousand men” – the size of the crowd is amazing in light of the fact that the neighboring towns of Capernaum and Bethsaida probably had a population of only 2,000-3,000 each.

45 And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.

46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.

47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land.

48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.

“Walking upon the sea” – Jesus did not do this to show off the power of God, but to show the power of faith.  The same with his parable about the mustard seed (Matt 13:31-32; Lk 17:6).

If you have true faith there is nothing you cannot do because God will do anything you ask Him to do.  Do know that if you have true faith there is nothing you would want to do that was evil.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us:

And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that  we desired of him (1 Jn 5:14-15).

His will for us is anything that will make us happy and if what we ask for is evil then the devil still has his hand on us and we are lacking in faith.

49 But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out:

The Phasael Tower of the Citadel in the Second Temple Model
King Herod built the three heavily fortified towers of the citadel upon a location that was already a very fortified position since the days of Solomon.

Jerusalem’s citadel was the highest point of the city about 2500 feet above sea level. Herod built the citadel and towers to protect the western side of the city of Jerusalem and his marvelous palace. These were fantastic towers, the largest was the Phasael Tower but the most beautiful was his Mariamne Tower.

“A spirit” – popular Jewish superstition held that the appearance of spirits during the night brought disaster.  The disciples’ terror was prompted by what they may have thought was a water spirit.

50 For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.

51 And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.

52 For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.

“They considered not the miracle of the loaves” – if the disciples would have understood the feeding of the 5,000, they wouldn’t have been amazed at Jesus’ walking on the water or His calming the waves (Matt 8:26).

“Their heart was hardened” – Jesus’ disciples having fear or even being amazed at things He did shows that they are lacking in their faith, the devil still has his hand on them.  That doesn’t mean they are going to hell or anything like that, it means that they are not equal to a mustard seed.

53 And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore.

54 And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him,

55 And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was.

56 And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.

“Touch if it were but the border of his garment” – it was not the garment that healed the people, or the lady with the blood disease (Mk 5:25), it was their belief, their faith, that if they touched Jesus they would be healed.

“But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith (Gal 3:11).

Politics in the Holy Land
Leading Up to the Time of Jesus

The Holy Land just prior to and during the time of Jesus was formally under the supervision of the Roman governor of Syria. The Roman period began in 63 B.C. and culminated with the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. and the establishment of Jerusalem as a pagan city in 135 A.D.

Augustus, 63 BC-14 AD, Roman emperor
The Roman Period (63 B.C–324 A.D)
The Early Roman Period (63 B.C–70 A.D)
The Second Temple Period
In 63 BC, Pompey conquered Jerusalem and turned Judea into a protectorate. The Jewish state had lost its sovereignty and independence and the Roman Period had begun.

Pompey did not find a unified, stable government but rather civil strife between contenders from members the Hasmonean dynasty vying for the high priesthood. In their internecine squabbles, they recruited the help of neighboring countries. Rome felt no commitment to the Hasmonean dynasty which in the past had worked against its interests.

And as Pompey saw little chance for a stable Jewish government to arise in the Land of Israel, it did not take much effort for him to impose his authority by means of the sword. The hasty decision by Aristobulus to go to war against Pompey when the Roman seemed to be favor Aristobulus’ rival Hyrcanus sealed the fate of the Hasmoneans for the Romans.

As a critical epoch in the history of Israel, ancient contemporaries and modern interpreters view these years as a period of tremendous change, expectation and consequence.

Arrival of Rome
and the End of the Hasmoneans

Roman control debuted in Israel in the wake of a conflict for succession between two sons of the Hasmonean queen Salome Alexandra: Hyrcanus II, who had served as high priest, and Aristobulus II, who had been the chief military commander.

Although Hyrcanus initially yielded to his brother, he was pressed by the Idumean leader Antipater to fight for the throne. Both sides sent delegations before the Roman general Pompey in Damascus, who eventually sided with Hyrcanus.

In the meantime, the supporters of Aristobulus had barricaded themselves in the temple of Jerusalem. Pompey’s forces besieged the temple mount for three months, eventually taking the area. Josephus recorded that Pompey desecrated the temple by entering into the Most Holy Place (Wars, 1.7.1 -6).

Hyrcanus was confirmed in power, although denied the title of king and stripped of all coastal and Transjordanian Greek cities. After another rebellion in 57 B.C. by Aristobulus’s son Alexander, Hyrcanus retained only the high priesthood and the temple, while the province of Judea was divided into five administrative districts.

During the course of a Roman civil war between Pompey and Julius Caesar, the Idumean Antipater encouraged Hyrcanus to support Caesar and to send auxiliary troops to his aid in Egypt (47 B.C.).

As a gesture of thanks, Julius Caesar conferred upon Hyrcanus the title Ethnarch of the Jews (an Ethnarch was a man appointed by Rome to be ruler of a people) and named Antipater as the first procurator of Judea.

Antipater named his two sons, Phasael and Herod, as prefects over Judea and Galilee, respectively. Herod quickly distinguished himself and was named prefect of Syria by the Roman governor.

Herod the Great

Caesar’s assassination in 44 B.C. was a blow to Jewish communities throughout the empire and produced a period of instability in Rome. During this interval the eastern empire was attacked by Parthians from Mesopotamia.

The decline of the Hasmoneans coincided with the rise of Rome, but it wasn’t coincidence, for the once great Jewish family had become a shell of its holy roots.

In the year 67 BCE, Queen Salome Alexendra (also known as Queen Shelomtzion) died. With her death, the dynasty of the Hasmoneans began a steady decline. Over the next 20-25 years it would fall apart completely.

They named Antigonus, the son of Aristobulus, as high priest and king in Jerusalem. Phasael was captured and slain, while Herod fled to Rome. After the defeat of the Parthians, Mark Antony and Octavian (Julius Caesar’s heir) conferred the title King of the Jews upon Herod in 37 B.C.

Herod ruled from Jerusalem with the support of Rome from 37 to 34 B.C. He functioned as a client-king (a king who rules under the authority of an outside power) and was considered a “friend and ally of the Roman people” (a title conferred by the senate upon non-Romans whose support their valued).

He was dependent upon Rome for his kingship and was compelled to swear an oath of allegiance to Caesar (Josephus, Antiquities, 17.2.4). In return he promised stability, order and tax revenue.

Herod earned an international reputation as a great benefactor and builder of cities and temples, but his legacy within Judaism is almost entirely negative.

Josephus recorded the contemporary evaluation that Jews suffered more during the reign of Herod than during the entire period prior to Herod since the Babylonian exile (Josephus, Wars, 2.6.2).

…the Messianic conflicts and the fall of Jerusalem.

Mark 5 – Devils Cast Out & Herod’s Successors and Uneasy Relations Between Rome and the Jews

As noted below (v. 3) a lot of the poor people had lived in a cave that was also a grave site.  Now days no one in the world has to be homeless. 

For example, Oprah Winfrey makes approximately $6,000,000 a week/$10 a second, and she is worth approximately 2.8 billion dollars.

Hidden Facts about Oprah
1. She says she is an advocate for woman. But when a woman had the chance to be the 1st female president, she went and helped Obama. And then she had the audacity to belittle these women who questioned her on that.

2. She berated the children of America by saying that all children here in the USA were materialistic. All they wanted were cell phones and other material things. Did she forget that she used to and still does give out material things on her talk show; she would give the audience material things. “Look under your chair. Here is a car for you.” She is as guilty as anyone else when it comes to material things.

3. She created a school in Africa. Why not create a school here in the USA? We have poor kids too.

4. She talks about helping African-Americans, but what communities has she helped.
5. Oprah does not give to charities quietly. She has to tell the world what she has done to “help us.” Nobody likes a braggart.

6. Oprah is a racist.
7. Oprah says you can’t catch anything unless you want to, including AIDS.

8. Oprah’s an advocated for the Book, “The Secret,” which defies God.

9. Oprah said on television that God is a feeling experience, not a believing experience. And if you still believe then what you believe in is not really God.

10. Oprah says that Jesus didn’t come to die on the cross, but to show us how to live without Him

11. Oprah argues with her audience, saying that Jesus is not the only way to heaven.

How many houses do you think she could build, and she’s one of the poorest billionaires. 

Does it sound like I’m jealous or envious of wealthy people?  If it does, I’m not.  I’ve never liked them because most of them are stuck up, but now that I got my head on right, i.e., I walk with Jesus, I feel sorry for them because Jesus said:

“…Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matt 19:23-24).

I’m not bashing Oprah, I’m just stating the facts.  She was born into poverty and grew up pit poor so you would think she would do all that she could, not just a little now and then to help people to the best of her ability, especially since she tells people how much she cares for others.

Remember, talk is cheap, it’s action that matters and we should practice what we preach, as Jesus did.

I also grew up poor, and even though I’m far from wealthy, I’m okay now.  I know what it’s like to be poor, to be needy, it sucks and if I had a billion dollars I’d spend it all on the poor.  I’d create businesses and hire only the poor, build low cost housing, anything to give everyone an equal chance.

If you love Jesus and admire Oprah you may want to watch this: Oprah says we don’t need Jesus to get to Heaven.

Anyway, tomorrow we’re going to look at… 

Mark 5
Devils Cast Out

1 And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.

“Unto the other side of the sea” – the east side of the lake, a territory largely inhabite4d by Gentiles, as indicated by the presence of the large herd of pigs – animals Jews considered “unclean” even though God had told Peter that nothing that He has made is unclean (Acts 10:11-15), and therefore they were unfit to eat.

I am so thankful that I’m not a Jew.  To be ignorant is bad enough, but also, I love pork.

“Country of the Gadarenes” – Gadara, located about six miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee.  Matthew (8:28) identities the region by the city of Gergesa in the hills overlooking the eastern shore of the sea.

2 And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,

3 Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:

“Had his dwelling among the tombs” – it was not unusual for the same cave to provide burial for the dead and shelter for the living.  Very poor people often lived in such caves.  It would be better than being homeless. 

4 Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.

5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.

Philip the Tetrarch (sometimes called Herod Philip II by modern writers) was son of Herod the Great and his fifth wife, Cleopatra of Jerusalem. He was a half-brother of Herod Antipas and Herod Archelaus; and should not be confused with Herod II, whom some writers call Herod Philip I.

6 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,

7 And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.

“I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not” – this has got to make you laugh.  The devil and his demons thing they are so bad, but this one is confronted by Jesus and he starts whimpering, begging for mercy and basically says, “If you beat me up I’m going to tell your dad.”

Notice that the demon didn’t call on Satan for help, but begged for God to be merciful just a little bit longer.

8 For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.

9 And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.

“My name is Legion: for we are many” – a Roman legion was made up of 6,000 men.  Here the term suggests that the man was possessed by many demons and perhaps also represents the many different powers there could be and they all are opposed to Jesus, who embodies the power of God (cf. Eph 6:12).

10 And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.

“Not send them away out of the country” – the demons feared that Jesus was going to send them into eternal punishment now, instead of alter, i.e., the Lake of Fire (Rev 19:20, 20:8, 10, 14, 15).

Herod’s son Philip made Banias his capital, renaming it ‘Caesarea Philippi’, and the place later became a site of Christian pilgrimage, having been mentioned in the gospels.

11 Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.

12 And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.

13 And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.

14 And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.

15 And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.

16 And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.

17 And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.

18 And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.

Caesarea Philippi (Ancient Greek Καισαρεία Φιλίππεια) or Caesarea Paneas (Καισαρεία Πανειάς) was an ancient Roman city located at the southwestern base of Mount Hermon, adjacent to a spring, grotto, and related shrines dedicated to the Greek god Pan, and called “Banias, Paneas”, or Baniyas (not to be confused with Baniyas in northwestern Syria).

The surrounding region was known as the “Panion”. The city is mentioned in the gospels of Matthew and Mark. The city is now uninhabited, an archaeological site in the Golan Heights.

19 Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.

20 And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.

21 And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea.

22 And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet,

23 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.

24 And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.

25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,

26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,

Caesarea Philippi (Ancient Greek Καισαρεία Φιλίππεια) or Caesarea Paneas (Καισαρεία Πανειάς) was an ancient Roman city located at the southwestern base of Mount Hermon, adjacent to a spring, grotto, and related shrines dedicated to the Greek god Pan, and called “Banias, Paneas”, or Baniyas (not to be confused with Baniyas in northwestern Syria).

The surrounding region was known as the “Panion”. The city is mentioned in the gospels of Matthew and Mark. The city is now uninhabited, an archaeological site in the Golan Heights.

“Had suffered many things of many physicians” – the Jewish Talmud preserved a record of medicines and treatments prescribed for illnesses of this sort.  The Jews and the Catholics will tell you anything if they believe they can make a buck off of you.

The Jews would sell their own mother for a slice of bread.  The Catholics say that if you abide by the rules of the Rosary that they can forgive you of your sins.  They also have this little cap/bonnet that they say Saint Mary wore and if you have it on when you die then you won’t go to purgatory.

27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.

28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.

29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.

30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?

31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?

32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.

33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.

The Gates of Hell
To the pagan mind, the cave at Caesarea Philippi created a gate to the underworld, where fertility gods lived during the winter. They committed detestable acts to worship these false gods.

Caesarea Philippi’s location was especially unique because it stood at the base of a cliff where spring water flowed. At one time, the water ran directly from the mouth of a cave set in the bottom of the cliff.

The pagans of Jesus’ day commonly believed that their fertility gods lived in the underworld during the winter and returned to earth each spring. They saw water as a symbol of the underworld and thought that their gods traveled to and from that world through caves.

34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

35 While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?

36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.

37 And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.

38 And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.

39 And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.

40 And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.

41 And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.

42 And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.

43 And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.

Herod’s Successors and Uneasy Relations
Between Rome and the Jews

Herod’s Successors

When Herod died in 4 B.C., the predominately Gentle area northeast of the Sea of Galilee known as Iturea and Trachonitis was given as a tetrarchy to Philip, the half-brother of Antipas.

The great port city of Caesarea was born out of the genius of one man: Herod the Great (c. 73–4 B.C.).
This Idumean politician, with the support of the rulers at Rome, rose to become king of Judea.

On the site of a dilapidated town, he built a glorious new city, splendid in every detail—from its chief temple down to its sewer system. The effort took over a decade (from 22 to 10/9 B.C..), but Herod spared no expense in materials or in construction.

He named the new city Caesarea as a politic compliment to the emperor under whose aegis he rose, Caesar Augustus.

The ancient historian Josephus gives us the closest to a contemporary account:
“When Herod had observed that there was a place near the sea, formerly called Strato’s Tower, which was very well suited to be the site of a city, he set about making a magnificent plan and put up buildings all over the city, not of ordinary material but of white stone.

He also adorned it with a very costly palace, with civic halls and—what was greatest of all and required the most labor—with a well-protected harbor, of the size of the Piraeus [of Athens], with landing-places and secondary anchorages inside…

In a circle round the harbor there was a continuous line of dwellings constructed of the most polished stone, and in their midst was a mound on which stood a temple of Caesar, visible a great way off to those sailing into the harbor, which had a statue of Rome and also one of Caesar…
Herod also built a theater of stone in the city, and on the south side of the harbor, farther back, an amphitheater large enough to hold a great crowd of people, and conveniently situated for a view of the sea.”

Philip ruled his territory well from his newly constructed capital, Caesarea Philippi (which we just studied in chapter 3). When he died in 34 A.D. his tetrarchy was incorporated into the Roman province of Syria.

Galilee and Perea were assigned to Philip’s half-brother Antipas (known as Herod the tetrarch. Herod Antipas ruled from Sepphoris near Nazareth, and later from Tiberias until his banishment by the Roman emperor Caligula in 39 A.D.

He is often remembered of his illegal marriage to his brother’s wife, Herodias, and for his imprisonment and execution of John the Baptist (Matt 14:3; Josephus, Antiquities, 18.5.1-2).

Judea and Samaria were placed under the control of Herod’s son Archelaus (the full brother of Antipas and half-brother of Philip), who was given the title of ethnarch. 

Archelaus began his reign by slaughtering 3,000 people during the Jewish Passover, and he was eventually banished for incompetence by Augustus to Gaul in 6 A.D. (Josephus, Antiquities, 17.13.2).

At this point a became a Roman province, ruled directly by a series of Roman prefects (6-41 A.D.) and then procurators (44-66 A.D.), who maintained their residence in Caesarea and at the Fortress of Antonia near the temple in Jerusalem.

The most important prefecture for early Christianity was that of Pontius Pilate (26-36 A.D.).

The Uneasy Relations
between Rome and the Jews

The first act of direct Roman rule was the taking of a census by Quirinius, legate of Syria, in order to determine the amount of tribute owed by Judea. The census itself and the paying of tribute provoked great animosity within Judean society.

Under the prefects, internal Jewish affairs were governed by the high priestly aristocracy and judicial cases were determined by the Sanhedrin, or court of seventy-one.  The prefects reserved the power of the sword, or the right of capital punishment.

However, Jewish leadership seems to have retained this power in cases that dealt exclusively with religious crimes, especially those having to do with the sanctity of the temple.

It is for this reason that Jesus, Paul and Stephen were tried on the accusation of’ speaking against” or “defiling” the temple (Matt 26:61; Acts 6:13- 14; 21:28). The prefects further maintained their authority over the high priests through the power of appointment and by means of Roman custody of the high priestly garments (Joseph us, Antiquities, 20.1.1).

After a brief return to Herodian rule under Agrippa from 41-44 A.D., Judea, Samaria and Galilee were ruled by a series

Tacitus Historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius.

of procurators until the outbreak of war in 66 A.D.

Agrippa’s son reigned over a small kingdom in the north from 48-66 A.D., and several later procurators are known from the New Testament, including Marcus Antonius Felix (52-59 A.D.; Acts 23:24) and Porcius Festus (59-62 A.D.; Acts 24:27), under both of whom Paul was imprisoned.

The reality of Roman control during the time of Jesus produced various reactions within Israelite society. Archaeology has revealed the large extent to which the upper classes adopted Greco-Roman customs and welcomed this new relationship.

Evidence for such Hellenization can be observed in both public and private architecture, civic institutions and the widespread use of the Greek language.

At the same time, Roman control generated widespread animosity and concern for the vitality of traditional Jewish values and expectations.

…the politics in the Holy Land that led up to the time of Jesus.

Mark 4 – The Parable of the Sower & Herod the Great

Talk about an evil and perverted family.  God prohibits fornication:

Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbors, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger (Eze 16:26).

But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood (Acts 15:20).

But also incest:

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife (1 Cor 5:1).  

None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the Lord (Lev 18:6).

But what do you expect, they were heathens/pagans.

Tomorrow we’ll look at…

Mark 4
The Parable of the Sower

1 And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.

2 And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine,

“Parables” – usually stories out of ordinary life used to illustrate spiritual or moral truth, sometimes in the form of brief similes, comparisons, analogies or proverbial sayings.  Ordinarily they had a single main point, and not every detail was meant to have significance.

3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.

5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:

6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.

7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty and some sixty and some a hundred.

“Did yield…an hundred” – a hundredfold yield was an unusually productive harvest.  Harvest was a common figure for the consummation of God’s kingdom.

This hundredfold is what we are to strive for, this is what Paul is talking about when he says that we are to run the race (1 Cor 9:23-25).

And Joel and John, in regards to the harvest, are talking about the rapture (Joel 3:13: Rev 14:14-20).

9 And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

10 And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.

11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:

“Mystery of the kingdom of God” – in the New Testament “mystery” refers to something God has revealed to His people, i.e., believers.  The mystery is proclaimed to all, but only those who have faith understand.  In this context the mystery seems to be that the kingdom of God had dawn near in the coming of Jesus Christ.

Yet, J esus tells us in Acts 1:7 that there are some things that no one is to know.

12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?

14 The sower soweth the word.

“Word” – the interpretation calls attention to the response to the word of God that Jesus has been preaching.  In spite of many obstacles, even with the many obstacles then or difficulties that Christians have today, God’s word will accomplish His purpose (Is 55:11).

15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.

Jesus stated, “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matt 13:45-46).

16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;

17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,

19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

“Deceitfulness of riches” – prosperity tends to give a false sense of self-sufficiency, security and well-being.  Here Jesus is talking about the greedy wealthy people, those that give a little but hoard most.

20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

21 And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?

22 For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was anything kept secret, but that it should come abroad.

23 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.

The wealth of rich people is like a city that makes them feel safe. They think of it as a city with walls that can’t be climbed (Prov 18:11 NIV).

24 And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.

25 For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.

“He that hath, to him shall be given” – the more we appropriate truth now, the more we will receive in the future; and if we don’t respond to what little truth we may know already, we’ll not profit even from that.

Jesus surely isn’t talking about material things, but neither is He talking about knowledge of God’s existence or even His power.  But about the knowledge obtained due to the personal relationship that person has with Him. 

This is what the Solomon was talking about when he said:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom… (Prov 9:10).

26 And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;

4:26-29 – only Mark records this parable.  Whereas the parable of the sower stresses the importance of proper soil for the growth of seed and the success of the harvest, here the mysterious power of the seed itself is emphasized. 

27 And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.

28 For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

29 But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

“Immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come” – see v. 8.  Jesus mentions this a lot because there will be few people that go to heaven, most will burn in hell for eternity (Matt 7:13-14).

30 And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?

4:30-34 – the main point of this parable is that the kingdom of God seemingly had insignificant beginnings.  It was introduced by the despised and rejected Jesus and His 12 unimpressive disciples. 

But a day will come when its true greatness and power will be seen by all the world, Jesus Christ.

Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.  Even so, Amen (Rev 1:7).

31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth:

32 But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.

33 And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it.

34 But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.

35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.

4:35-41 – although miracles are hard for modern man to accept, the New Testament makes it clear that Jesus is Lord not only over His church but also over all creation (see Jn 1:3-4; Eph 1:20-23; Col 1:15-17).

36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.

37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.

38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?

39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

Herod the Great

Herod the Great began his career as military governor of Galilee in 47 B.C.  The Roman Senate then appointed him king over Judea in 40 B.C. 

Herod, also known as Herod the Great and Herod I, was a Roman client king of Judea. He has been described as “a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis”, “the evil genius of the Judean nation.

After violently suppressing a significant opposition from the aristocracy in Jerusalem, he formally began his reign in 37 B.C. and ruled until his death in 4 B.C.

Herod’s father, Antipater, was an Idumenan covert to Judaism, and his mother, Cypros, was a Nabatean.  Herod curried favor with the Jews but was staunchly allied to Rome and embraced Greco-Roman culture and religion.

He is known for his extensive building programs; evidence of some of this activity can still be seen today.  In this arena, Herod’s accomplishments were impressive and included the following:

– Temples to Roma, Augustus and Baal Shamim; the Pythian temple at Rhodes; and, of course, the Jerusalem temple.

–  Palaces at Masada, Jericho, Ascalon and elsewhere.

– Gymnasia, baths, fountains, colonnades, markets and other public buildings throughout the eastern Roman Empire.

– Entire cities, such as Caesarea Maritima and Sebaste.

Herod’s rise to power came about during a tumultuous period in Roman history—the civil wars of the First and Second Triumvirates.

Herod often backed the losing side; for example, he was on the side of Antony and Cleopatra when they were at war with and finally defeated by Octavian (later known as Caesar Augustus).

Nevertheless, Herod had remarkable political instincts and was able to save his lift and power by quickly submitting and swearing allegiance to Octavian.

Indeed, every move he made was designed in some way to ensure that he eliminated his enemies and held on to the support of the people who mattered.

For example, Herod divorced his first wife, Doris, and became engaged to Mariamne, granddaughter of the high priest Hyrcanus II (Herod ultimately executed both of them).

His tenuous hold on power—a single misstep and he could have lost everything— may have contributed to the paranoia that led him to execute so many, including his own children.


Jesus was born during the reign of Herod (Matt 2:1), who, near the end of his life, gained eternal infamy by having the baby boys of Bethlehem put to death (Matt 2:16).

Caesar Augustus is reported to have once made the pun that he would rather be Herod’s pig (in Greek, hus) than his son (huios), a reference to the fact that as a nominal Jew Herod at least had scruples about killing pigs—if none about executing his own family members.

The holy family fled to Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath. While they were there Herod died of disease in his palace at Jericho, which has been excavated. 

His body was carried in an elaborate procession to Herodium, near Bethlehem, where he was interred with splendor.  In spite of extensive excavations as Herodium, Herod’s tomb has never been located.

Herod’s kingdom was divided among three of his four surviving sons: Archelaus, ruler of Judea and Samaria; Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Perea; and Philip II Tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis.

Classical Greek philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle are fine—if lofty thinking is what you want. But philosophy means love of wisdom, not love of thinking.

Other members of Herod’s extensive family (he had ten wives) are mentioned in the New Testament: a fourth son, Philip I; a granddaughter Herodias, who married two of his sons (her uncles), Philip I and Herod Antipas; a grandson Herod Agrippa I; a great-grandson Agrippa II; great-granddaughters Bernice, Drusilla and Salome.

…Herod’s successors and relations between Rome and the Jews.

Mark 3 – Jesus Heals Many by the Sea & Caesarea Philippi

In Matthew chapter 4 we had talked a bit about King Herod so tomorrow we’ll…

The first-century Capernaum synagogue in which Jesus preached has probably been found. Because more than one synagogue may have existed in Capernaum at this time, we cannot be sure that this new find was Jesus’ synagogue. But this recently discovered first-century building is certainly a likely candidate.

Rough black basalt residences of first-century A.D. Capernaum stand in stark contrast to the smooth white limestone of the fourth-century synagogue in the background. Under this synagogue, excavators have found another synagogue made of the same black basalt as the residences in the foreground. The lower synagogue was built on nearly the same plan as the upper limestone synagogue visible here.

The walls of the lower synagogue were nearly four feet thick—much thicker than those of these residences—and the walls were made of worked stones, rather than the unworked stones builders used in the residences. The upper synagogue has three entrances on the south, Jerusalem-facing facade. Through these entrances can be seen three rows of columns forming aisles on either side of the prayer hall and the back wall.

Mark 3
Jesus Heals Many by the Sea

1 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.

3:1-6 – a demonstration that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath.

2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the Sabbath day; that they might accuse him.

3 And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.

4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.

5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

6 And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.

“Herodians” – evidently influential Jews who favored the Herodian Dynasty, meaning they were supporters of Rome, from which the Herods received their authority.  They jointed the Pharisees in opposing Jesus because they feared He might have an unsettling political influence on the people.

As the saying goes, “Not everything is what it seems.”  Jesus is by far much more than what the heathens saw.

7 But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea,

8 And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.

Many think that the meaning of the Sabbath is for us to relax and not work.
This is true, but we are to with God, not relax but going to the bar or go water skiing with friends.
On the Sabbath you can do anything you want, but to honor God you include Him in all that you do, and he doesn’t drink, but He’s be happy to go water skiing with you and your friends.

Here we see impressive evidence of Jesus’ rapidly growing popularity among the people.  This geographical list indicates that the crowds came not only from the areas in the vicinity of Capernaum but also from considerable distances, the poor walked a long way.

9 And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him.

10 For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues.

11 And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.

12 And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known.

13 And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him.

14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,

15 And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:

16 And Simon he surnamed Peter;

Herodian architecture is a style of classical architecture characteristic of the numerous building projects undertaken during the reign (37 BC – 4 BC) of Herod the Great, the Roman client king of Judea. Herod undertook many colossal building projects, most famously his reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (ca. 19 BC).

Many of his structures were built upon comparable, previous Hasmonean buildings and most of his have, in their turn, vanished as well.

17 And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:

18 And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite,

“Thaddaeus” – apparently the same as “Judas the brother of James.”

19 And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house.

“Iscariot” – probably means “the man from Kerioth,” the town Kerioth-hezron, 12 miles south of Hebron.

20 And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.

21 And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.

22 And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.

He is infamously known for his kiss and betrayal of Jesus to the hands of the chief Sanhedrin priests in exchange for a payment of thirty silver coins. Though there are varied accounts of his death, the traditional version sees him as having hanged himself out of remorse following his betrayal. His place among the Twelve Apostles was later filled by Matthias.

His name is often used to accuse someone of betrayal.

“Beelzebub” – see Matt 10:25.

23 And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?

24 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.

25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

26 And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.

27 No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.

“Enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods” – that is what Jesus did when He freed people from Satan’s control and He still does that today.

28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:

29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:

30 Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

31 There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.

32 And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.

33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?

Kerioth – cities. A town in the south of Judea. Judas Iscariot was probably a native of this place, and hence his name Iscariot. It has been identified with the ruins of el-Kureitein, about 10 miles south of Hebron.. A city of Moab, called Kirioth.

34 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

“Whosoever shall do the will of God” – membership in God’s spiritual family, evidenced by obedience to Him, is more important than membership in our human families.  And obedience is much greater than repenting (see 1 Sam 15:17-23).

Caesarea Philippi

The area of Caesarea Philippi was first known (c. 200 B.C.) by the name Panion, meaning “sanctuary of Pan,” a pagan god associated with fields and herds.

Cave sacred to the god Pan at Caesarea Philippi

In 23 B.C. Augustus assigned the area in Herod I to rule for the Romans, and Herod’s son, Philip, took control of the region after his father’s death.

Philip constructed an administrative capitol building at Panion and changed the name to Caesarea Philippi, honoring both Caesar and himself. (Caesar Philippi is not to be confused with Caesarea Maritima, a city on the Mediterranean Coast.)

There is no record of any civilian habitation  at the time, so Caesarea Philippi was an administrative center and not yet a city during Jesus’ lifetime.

The Gospel accounts carefully observe this fact, recording that Jesus and the disciples frequented the villages (Mk 8:27) or the region (Mt 6:13) of Caesarea Philippi.

Pan was the god of shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music. He wandered the hills and mountains of Arkadia playing his pan-pipes and chasing Nymphs. His unseen presence aroused feelings of panic in men passing through the remote, lonely places of the wilds.

In the year 53 or 54 A.D. Agrippa II became king of the principality and transformed Caesarea Philippi into a Greco-Roman city. The magnificent administrative palace was converted into a public bath house, and a long colonnaded street was constructed through the middle of the city.

Fresh water was supplied through underground pipes and a new aqueduct. In A.D. 70 the city was the scene of notorious savagery.

The Roman general Titus, after destroying Jerusalem, brought a large number of Jewish prisoners to Caesarea Philippi, where they were massacred in games as a public spectacle. The city reached its peak in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. but appears to have undergone a sharp decline from the 4th century on.

Although the site has been a popular tourist destination since the 19th century, systematic excavations did not begin until 1988. Work has focused on the sanctuary of Pan and the central area of the city.

Much of the Roman-period architecture was destroyed during the Middle Ages, when the location was used as a military outpost by both Muslims and crusaders.

Stone blocks were mined from the ancient buildings to be reused in later structures, making the work of reconstructing the ancient city more difficult.

Archaeologists have uncovered numerous medieval pieces of pottery, metal and glass and are confident that further exploration will reveal remains from the Biblical era.

The city’s athletic facilities and a temple built for Augustus by Herod I are among the important edifices yet to be excavated.

…go into more detail about this horrid king.

Mark 2 – A Man with the Palsy Healed & Nazareth

Tomorrow we’re going to look at…

Mark 2
A Man with the Palsy Healed

1 And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.

Remains of a Byzantine Church built over St. Peter’s House.

2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.

3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.

4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.

“They uncovered the roof” – a typical Palestinian house had a flat roof accessible by means of an outside staircase.  The roof was often made of a thick layer of clay (packed with a stone roller), supported by mats of branches across wood beams.

5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.

6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,

The ruins of this building, among the oldest synagogues in the world, were identified by Charles William Wilson. The large, ornately carved, white building stones of the synagogue stood out prominently among the smaller, plain blocks of local black basalt used for the town’s other buildings, almost all residential.

The synagogue was built almost entirely of white blocks of calcareous stone brought from distant quarries.

7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?

“Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies?  Who can forgive sins but God only?” – the Jews knew that only God could forgive sin and they didn’t believe Jesus was anything more than a man.

8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?

9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?

10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)

11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.

12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

13 And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.

Herod Antipas -a nickname derived from Antipatros was the son of the Jewish king Herod the Great and his wife Malthace; he was full brother of Archelaus and a half brother of Philip.

With his brothers Archelaus and Philip, he was educated in Rome, a kind of honorable detention to guarantee his father’s loyalty. In his father’s testament, Herod Antipas was appointed tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea (the east bank of the Jordan). The Roman emperor Augustus confirmed this decision and Antipas’ reign could begin (4 BCE).

14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.

“Levi the son of Alpheus” – Matthew.  His given name was probably Levi, and Matthew (“gift of the LORD”) his apostolic name.

“The receipt of custom” – Levi was a tax collector under Herod Anitpas, tetrarch of Galilee.  The tax collectors booth where Jesus found Levi was probably a toll booth on the major international road that went from Damascus through Capernaum to the Mediterranean coast and to Egypt.

15 And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.

“Sat at meat” – to eat with a person was a sign of friendship.

“Sinners” – notoriously evil people as well as those who refused to follow the Mosaic law as interpreted by the scribes. The term was commonly used of tax collectors, adulterers, robbers and the like.

Sculpture of the Hasidic movement on the Knesset Menorah, shaped by the wide influence of its Tales on Jewish culture. Hasidic ecstatic prayer is shown as a candle surrounding the soul’s wick, amidst Nature embodying the Shekhina divine presence.

16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?

“Scribes and Pharisees” – that is, scribes who were Pharisees – successors of the Hasidim, pious Jews who joined forces with the Maccabees during the struggle for freedom from Syrian oppression (166-142 B.C.).

They first appear under the name Pharisees during the reign of John Hyrcanus (135-105 B.C.).  although some, no doubt, were godly, most of those who came into conflict with Jesus were hypocritical, envious, rigid and formalistic.

According to Pharisaism, God’s grace extended only to those who kept his law, such as the Jews and Catholics of today.

17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

“I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” – Jesus is not saying that some people are not sinners, because we all are (Rom 3:23).  He is saying that He came for those that want to be saved. 

18 And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?

Bab Sharqi Street at the east end of Damascus Straight Street.

“Fasting” – in the Mosaic law only the fast of the day of atonement was required (Lev 16:29, 31; 23:27-32; Num 29:7).  After the Babylonian exile four other yearly fasts were observed by the Jews.  In Jesus’ time the Pharisees fasted twice a week.

19 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride chamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.

20 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.

21 No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.

22 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.

Roman triumphal arch on Damascus Straight Street.

23 And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the Sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.

24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the Sabbath day that which is not lawful?

25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?

26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?

27 And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath:

“The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” – Jewish tradition had so multiplied the requirements and restrictions for keeping the Sabbath that the burden had become intolerable. 

Jesus cut across these traditions and emphasized the God-given purpose of the Sabbath – a day intended for man (for spiritual , mental and physical restoration – see Ex 20:8-11).

28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.


The town of Nazareth is located north of the Jezreel Valley in the hills of lower Galilee, approximately 3 miles south of Sepphoris.

The inside of a home in Nazareth that could have been occupied by Joseph and Mary.
The prophet Micah prophecied that a great leader will come from Bethlehem in Judaea.

The Gospel of Luke tells how “Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judaea, the birthplace of king David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David.”

While Sepphoris was an opulent Greco-Roman city during Jesus’ youth and functioned as the capital of Galilee until 20 A.D., Nazareth remained in relative obscurity.”

Nazareth occupied about 60 acres, with a population of only about 500. In his writings Josephus named some 45 Galilean towns but never once mentioned Nazareth, and neither does the Talmud, which names 63 other Galilean sites.

The Talmud is the Jewish Bible and they deny Jesus being the Son of God, let alone God in the flesh (Jn 1:14; 1 Tim 3:16), so of course they aren’t going to mentioned Jesus’ hometown.

The insignificance of Nazareth provoked disparaging comments already in Jesus’ day, such as Nathanael’s retort:

“…Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?…” (Jn 1:46).

Nevertheless, the New Testament explicitly identifies Jesus as:

And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth in Galilee (Matt 21:11).

This humble town was the residence of Mary and Joseph and the place where Jesus grew up. It was also the jumping-off point for his public ministry and the site of his first rejection.

Archaeologists on Monday unveiled what they said were the remains of the first dwelling in Nazareth that can be dated back to the time of Jesus — a find that could shed new light on what the hamlet was like during the period the New Testament says Jesus lived there as a boy.

The dwelling and older discoveries of nearby tombs in burial caves suggest that Nazareth was an out-of-the-way hamlet of around 50 houses on a patch of about four acres.

He is frequently referred to in the Gospel narratives simply as “Jesus of Nazareth” and the titulus (official placard) that Pilate affixed to the cross dubbed him “JE SUS OF NAZARETH,THE KING OF THE JEWS (Jn 19:19).

Even his earliest followers were labeled “the Nazarene sect” (Acts 24:5).

Both Matthew and John, however, connected the origin of Jesus from Nazareth with an important precedent in the Bible. Matt 2:23 states that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy:

He will be called a Nazarene.

What was Matthew referring to?


There is no Old Testament text contains those specific words, and Matthew did not indicate the source of his reference. Some have conjectured that he was alluding to Is 11:1, in which the Messiah is called a “Branch” (the Hebrew word for branch netzer, sounds similar to Nazareth).

Others have proposed that Matthew was referring to the concept of the Nazirite, a person consecrated to God’s service (Num 6:1 -21; Jdg13). But John also linked his first mention of Jesus’ origins in Nazareth to his assertion that Jesus was the fulfillment of what Moses and the prophets had written (Jn 1:45).

John did not claim that Jesus’ coming from Nazareth in and of itself fulfilled Scripture, but he did report Nathanael’s astonishment at the idea that the Messiah could have hailed from such a little-known hometown (Jn 1:46).

Archaeological excavations conducted beneath the Church of the Annunciation have revealed that ancient Nazareth was an agricultural village. Pottery was found there dating from the Iron Age II (900-600 B.C.) to the Byzantine period (330-640 A.D.).

This village is on the northern side of Sea of Galilee, and was the center of the activities of Jesus and his town during that time. A grand 4th C Ad Synagogue was excavated, which stood over the Synagogue from the time of Jesus.

Excavations have also uncovered a number of Jewish tombs, including four that were sealed with rolling stones, typical of tombs used up to 70 A.D. and similar to the one in which Jesus was laid.

In addition, a 3rd century A.D. Jewish-Christian synagogue was discovered there. Oriented toward Jerusalem, it contained Jewish-Christian iconography within its mosaic floor.

The synagogue that Jesus attended as a young man and in which he first proclaimed his Messianic identity probably stood beneath this later structure.

The present-day Basilica of the Annunciation at Nazareth was dedicated in 1969 and represents the largest Christian church structure in the Middle East.

…Caesarea Philippi.