Zephaniah 3 – The Future of Jerusalem & Lost Cities of Europe: Pompeii

The Power of God Cannot be Controlled!
I live in Texas and even though I have never seen a tornado upfront, I have felt the power and seen the damage.

That right there is one example of how powerful You are.

The two paragraphs below:

A huge mushroom cloud of fire, ash, smoke and rubble reached 183 miles into the air and then began to rain down as ash and light pumice, with the occasional heavy chunk of rock. In this phase of the eruption 2.6 cubic kilometers (½ cubic mile) of rock was blasted skywards at a rate of 150,000 tons a second.

For the people living around Vesuvius this must have been an awesome and terrifying sight, made even more scary when the cloud blotted out the sun and the day turned to blackest night.

That would scare the hell out of anyone, but that is nothing compared to what You can do, and I have no doubt that what John said You are going to do in the end will be much more devastating:

“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

Don’t mess with God,

And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Rev 6:12-17).

All I can say is, watch out all you heathens, when my God says “Fear the Lord your God” only a fool doesn’t.

Chapter 3 is the last in this book so tomorrow we will start with…

Zephaniah 3
The Future of Jerusalem

A fresco (removed from Pompeii and now housed at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples) from the Temple of Isis at Pompeii, showing Isis receiving Io at Canopus. Io (on the left) wad a priestess who was turned into a cow at one point, hence the horns.

1 Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city!

2 She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God.

3 Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow.

3:3-4 – Princes…judges…prophets…priests” – all classes of Judah’s leaders are castigated for indulging in conduct completely opposed to their vocations and covenant mandated responsibilities.

“Roaring lions…even wolves” – those in power are rapacious.

4 Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.

“Are light and treacherous persons” – claiming to be prophets of the Lord, they proclaimed only lies.

“Violence of the law” – when they should have been teachers of the law (Deut 31:9-13).

5 The just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.

The Via diMercurio (Mercury Street). The raised curbs and the stepping stones in the middle distance allow carts and horses through while also letting pedestrians cross the street without walking through mud and dung. Mount Veduviud looms in the background.

“No shame” – “Shame” is a prophetic by-word.  The wicked don’t have any; but in judgment, God will give it to them in full measure.

6 I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant.

7 I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings.

8 Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.

9 For then will I turn to the people a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.

3:9-20 – a three-part oracle (vv. 9-13, 14-17, 18-20) announcing redemptions that will follow God’s judgment.

3:9-13 – the Lord gives assurance that the nations will be purified, the scattered remnant restored and Jerusalem purged.

A bakery at Pompeii, with the runner (top half) of a millstone in the foreground (note the slot where a stave could be inserted so that the stone could be turned) and oven in the background.

“Call upon the name of the LORD” – see Joel 2:32.  God’s fearful judgment of the nations will effect (or be followed by) their purification so that they will call on His name and serve Him.  Israel’s God will be acknowledged by the nations, and God’s people will be held in honor by them.

10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.

“Ethiopia” – the most distant area imaginable.  The most widely dispersed will be restored.

“Bring mine offering” – rather than Baal’s and Molech’s.

11 In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain.

12 I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.

“Afflicted and poor” – not to be understood as a negative.  The idea is that they won’t suffer from the pride and arrogance that plague the “haughty.”

13 The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.

14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.

A planter cast of one of the victims of Veduvius at Pompeii. The cast was made by filling the void left by the did integrated body of a Pompeian who had been buried in ash and pumice stones.

3:14-17 – Joy in the restored city (in two parts: vv. 14-15 and vv. 16-17) – the prophet’s reassurance.

15 The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.

16 In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.

17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

18 I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.

19 Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame.

“At that time” – the “now” of vv. 15-16 and the “not yet” is the tension that every mature believer embraces.  Christ is with us now and will be with us at His coming.  We have nothing to fear.

20 At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD.

“Will make you a name” – see Gen 12:2-3.

Lost Cities of Europe:

Pompeii

Location: Bay of Naples, Italy
Date of Construction: 6th century B.C.
Abandoned: 79 C.E.
Built by: Etruscans? Romans
Key Features: Preserved Streets and Buildings; House of the Faun; House of the Vettii; Villa of the Mysteries; Thermopolis; Brother; Graffiti; Mosaics and Murals; Voids in Form of Incinerated People.  

Arguably the most important archaeological site in the world, Pompeii is also one of the largest, in terms of coherent, contiguous ruins.

Vesuvius has erupted about three dozen times since 79 A.D., most recently from 1913-1944. The 1913-1944 eruption is thought to be the end of an eruptive cycle that began in 1631. It has not erupted since then, but Vesuvius is an active volcano, it will erupt again.

The oldest dated rock at Mt Vesuvius is about 300,000 years old. It was collected from a well drilled near the volcano.

Vesuvius erupted catastrophically in 79 A.D., burying the towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii. The Somma Rim, a caldera-like structure formed by the collapse of a stratovolcano about 17,000 year ago, flanks Vesuvius to the east.

The 79 A.D. eruption of Vesuvius was the first volcanic eruption ever to be described in detail. From 18 miles (30 km) west of the volcano, Pliny the Younger, witnessed the eruption and later recorded his observations in two letters.

But for recent closures to help conserve the fragile site, a modern visitor would be able to explore almost exactly the same geography as his ancient counterpart – an entire city, from the grandest public buildings to the meanest back-alley hovel, preserved to an unprecedented extent by fallout from the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 C.E.

Pompeii is a ruined town on the lower slopes of Mount Vesuvius on the Bay of Naples. In its heyday as many as 20,000 people lived there and the town was prosperous thanks to the rich, fertile volcanic soils of the region, local industry, maritime trade coming into Italy via the nearby ports (in ancient times it was much closer to the sea than it is now) and the popularity of the Bay of Naples area as a fashionable resort and leisure destination for Roman senators, noblemen and wealthy businessmen.

The oldest settlement on the site dates back to the Iron Age, in the 8th century B.C., although nearby sites date back as far as the Bronze Age, and suffered a similar fate to Pompeii itself – caught unawares by the previous eruption of Vesuvius, some 1,800 years earlier.

Pompeii itself was founded in the 6th century B.C., either by a local tribe, the Oscans, or possibly by Greek colonists or the Etruscans. By the 4th century B.C. the area had fallen under the hegemony of Rome, but Pompeii did not become a Roman town until it joined with other towns in the region in an unsuccessful rebellion against Rome, found itself on the losing side and was finally declared a Roman colony in 80 B.C.

Many of the buildings visible at Pompeii today, including much of the infrastructure, were built in the Roman period. The reign of Augustus (30 B.C.-14 C.E.) saw particularly intensive building work.

The Oscan speakers adopted the Etruscan alphabet to write their language. This event probably occurred around the 7th century BCE but the first evidence of the Oscan alphabet did not appear until the 5th century BCE in the form of inscriptions on coins.

Because the Oscan language is Indo-European, its phonology is different from that of Etruscan. As a result, many letters not used in Etruscan but inherited from Greek were revived to denote Oscan sounds such as [b], [g], and [d].

Sometimes the u letter is used to denote the [o] sound (which did not exist in Etruscan and therefore there was no letter for it). Also, two new letters were invented during the 4th century BCE, namely í and ú, for the long vowels of [i:] and [u:]. The total tally of letters in the Oscan alphabet is therefore 21.

Rough Guide to Pompeii

Excavations have uncovered 109 of the 163 acres occupied by the city. It is roughly oval in shape, with the long axis oriented east-west. A city wall, pierced by seven main gates, encloses the whole.

Most visits begin at the Marine Gate in the southwest, which leads almost immediately to the forum, the center of public life in Pompeii and the site of a bustling market. Around the forum are many of the main public buildings, including the Temples of Apollo and Jupiter, the basilica (where legal business was done), one of the city’s baths, the macellum (market/shopping mall) and the local government offices.

Southeast of these is Pompeii’s “leisure complex,” a group of buildings including the Samnite Palaestra (a kind of gym), the theatre and the odeon, the gladiator’s barracks and the Temple of Isis.

Although an eastern cult, worship of Isis became extremely popular and this temple was the only one to be fully restored after the earthquake of 62 C.E.

Running east from the forum, passing to the north of the leisure zone, is the Via dell’ Abbondanza, a long, mostly straight road that runs all the way to the Sarno Gate at the eastern end of the city.

Along or just off it can be seen many of the most interesting private or commercial buildings of Pompeii, including a fullery, the brothel, the Stabian Baths and the Thermopolium of Vetutius Placidus.

A thermopolium was a kind of bar/cafe, which served hot food to customers who stood at a bar into which were sunk terracotta containers for hot stews, soups, etc. Pompeii’s thermopolia seem to have done a roaring trade, indicated by the bag of over a thousand coins discovered at one such establishment, believed to be the takings on the day that the eruption struck.

The Via dell’ Abbondanza leads towards the palaestra (exercise courts for wrestling/boxing – a kind of Roman gym) and the amphitheater. With seating for 20,000 people this is the oldest stone amphitheater in the world.

Augustus (Latin: Imperator Caesar Divi F. Augustus,[note 1] 23 September 63 BC – 19 August 14 AD) was the founder of the Roman Empire and its first Emperor, ruling from 27 B.C. until his death in 14 A.D.
Gladiatorial games were staged here, but it was closed down for a decade from 59 C.E. after spectators from Pompeii and the nearby town of Nuceria started a riot. North of the Via dell’ Abbondanza are the main parts of the city that have yet to be excavated.

In the northwest section of Pompeii are some of the most interesting and important private houses. For instance, the House of the Vettii is one of the most famous in Pompeii. The owners are thought to have been the Vettii brothers, whose signet rings were discovered on the site.

They may have been wine merchants and used their riches to create a beautiful and stylish house that would show off their wealth and taste.

In particular, they created a large garden that can be seen from the street through the front door; it was decorated with marble and bronze statues, some of which spouted water into basins. Around the garden is a portico, decorated with elaborate murals.

Diagonally across an intersection from here is the House of the Faun, named for the statue of a “faun” (actually a satyr) found at the site. The largest private house in Pompeii, it was possibly built in the 2nd century B.C. and after the Roman conquest it may well have housed one of the city’s new rulers.

Its interior was decorated to underscore the wealth and prestige of its occupant, with massive and extremely detailed (and therefore enormously expensive) mosaics, including the famous replica of a Greek painting showing Alexander the Great defeating the Persian king Darius at the Battle of Issus, which is made up of over a million tesserae (tiny tiles).

This villa, built around a central peristyle court and surrounded by terraces, is much like other large villas of Pompeii. However, it contains one very unusual feature; a room decorated with beautiful and strange scenes. This room, known to us as “The Initiation Chamber,” measures 15 by 25 feet and is located in the front right portion of the villa.

The term “mysteries” refers to secret initiation rites of the Classical world. The Greek word for “rite” means “to grow up”. Initiation rites, then, were originally ceremonies to help individuals achieve adulthood.

Leaving from the city’s northwestern gate, the Herculaneum Gate, the visitor passes through a cemetery and then reaches the Villa of the Mysteries, which gets its name from the megalographia (life-size mural) that runs around all four walls of one of the rooms.

This unique frieze is believed by many to show various stages of initiation into the rites of the Dionysian Mysteries, one of several religions/personal growth movements that were popular in the ancient world.

Only those who were initiated knew the secrets of these Mystery religions and were forbidden to reveal them [like the Illuminati], so this mural from Pompeii is one of the primary (and only) sources for our knowledge of this important element of Roman life.

The End of Pompeii

In 62 C.E. a severe earthquake struck the Bay of Naples region, badly damaging many buildings in Pompeii and other towns. Today vulcanologists understand that this was probably an omen of the much worse catastrophe to come, signifying an upwelling of magma through the crust beneath the mountain.

With nearly two millennia elapsed since the last eruption, the Romans had no idea what a menace the volcano posed, still less that Vesuvius is of the type of volcano where the longer the period between eruptions, the more serious the next one is likely to be.

Although the 62 C.E. earthquake caused alarm and fear, and many left the area altogether, there is clear evidence that extensive rebuilding of Pompeii started immediately. 

The Bay of Naples in the Campania region of southern Italy is bordered in the north by the cities of Naples and Pozzuoli, in the east by Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii and in the south by the Sorrentine Peninsula and the main town of Sorrento.

The islands of Capri, Ischia and Procido are a ferry-ride away in the Bay.

In the years leading up to 79 C.E., multiple minor earth quakes,, heralding the imminent eruption, struck, and causing subsidiary damage to Pompeii. This too was repaired, Pompeii was too prosperous for its citizens to abandon.

Around 1 pm in the afternoon on 24 August 79 C.E. (this s the traditionally attributed date, but cutting edge research at the site has led to the controversial suggestion that the eruption actually took place later that year), after says of tremors, plumes of gas and the ominous failure of springs around the mountain’s flanks, Vesuvius erupted.

The first phase of the eruption was what vulcanologists call Plinian, in which gas-rich, frothy, highly-pressurized magma from the top of the magma column blasts high into the atmosphere, carrying with it huge chunks of the mountain.

A huge mushroom cloud of fire, ash, smoke and rubble reached 183 miles into the air and then began to rain down as ash and light pumice, with the occasional heavy chunk of rock. In this phase of the eruption 2.6 cubic kilometers (½ cubic mile) of rock was blasted skywards at a rate of 150,000 tons a second.

For the people living around Vesuvius this must have been an awesome and terrifying sight, made even more scary when the cloud blotted out the sun and the day turned to blackest night. A steady rain of ash and pumice started to weigh down and then collapse roofs, killing many.

This painting is in the House of the Vetti and the scene is of viniculture here have led some scholars to speculate that it was in wine production that the brothers Vettii made their fortune.

Others were killed by falling rocks. But at this stage, although there was panic, there was a relatively low risk of death. Most of the population, generally estimated to be about 12,000 at this point, were able to wade through the ash and light pumice, and flee the town.

The Plinian phase continued for about 18 hours, but around 7 pm on the following day the much more lethal Pelean phase began.

As the pressure inside the volcano lessened and the heavier, less gassy magma reached the top of the column, the plume of material collapsed to ground level and what had been an airborne cloud turned into a pyroclastic flow – a rolling, ground-hugging avalanche of super-heated gas, smoke and ash, preceded by a shockwave of heat at temperatures up to 800°C (1,472°F).

People in its path were either instantly carbonized, or choked and baked within a few seconds. Buried within the layers of ash and loose rock that continued to accrete, their bodies decomposed to leave voids.

Ingenious mid-19th century Italian archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli would later inject these voids with plaster to create casts, preserving, for our horrid fascination, the forms of people in their death throes, right down to the expressions of terror on their faces.

How many were killed? It is known that virtually the whole population of nearby Herculaneum, which suffered a similar fate, perished in the pyroclastic flow.

The House of Faun was built in the 2nd century BC, during the Samnite period (200-80 BC) and is one of the biggest most expensive houses in Pompeii.

It housed many great pieces of art and reflects this time period better than most archaeological evidence found in Rome. The house features beautiful peristyle gardens, had an entrance passage, a number of bedrooms, dining room, a reception room, and an office.

They had made it as far as the seashore, but tsunamis created by the huge tremors that accompanied the eruption made it impossible to evacuate by ship and the terrible cloud of death caught them sheltering in boat sheds and the seafront arcade.

But only around 2,000 bodies have been recovered from Pompeii and the surrounding area, and it is often assumed that most of the inhabitants of Pompeii escaped.

However, contemporary accounts make it clear that for the region as a whole this was a catastrophe of unprecedented scale, suggesting that tens of thousands were lost at minimum. And while it was normal practice to rebuild towns after natural disasters, the Romans never settled at Pompeii again.

So perhaps the missing Pompeians did not escape death – it is simply that the fatal cloud overtook them on the roads south from Pompeii and that the huge mass of carbonized bodies lies beneath unexcavated and unexplored countryside.

Pompeii was rediscovered in 1748 and has been progressively excavated ever since. But archaeologists have found evidence that there was extensive salvage and looting of the site in ancient times.

As soon as the dust had settled it seems that enterprising Romans returned and dug down to look for valuables. The site is riddled with tunnels and many walls have been bored through.

…the Book of Haggai.