Zechariah 9 – The Coming of the King & The Mongols Nomad Conquerors

It is questioned on which conqueror was better, Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan. They were both military geniuses and fierce warriors and they both erred in the most important matters of life, neither of them worshiped You.  

And therefore, I can honestly say neither of them was the greatest of all, King David had them both beat.

A Psalm of David.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Ps 23).

Most commentators believe that King David’s great masterpiece of faith, the twenty-third psalm was written when David was a youth, before he met the mighty Goliath in battle (1 Sam 17).

This great faith can sustain us and give us courage to stand up to all the problems of life.

“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

I know you that You will not walk away from those that walk with you:

“There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Josh 1:5).

And by Your own words, I can’t believe anyone could have been a greater warrior then David:

“And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:22).

Alexander had some good fighting men, so let’s look at…

Zechariah 9
The Coming of the King

1 The burden of the word of the LORD in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be the rest thereof: when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the LORD.

Damascus commonly known in Syria as ash-Sham and nicknamed as the City of Jasmine is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo.

It borders Quneitra, Daraa and As-Suwayda to the south, Jordan to the east, Homs to the north, and Lebanon to the west. It is also the capital city of one of the country’s 14 governorates.

In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major cultural and religious center of the Levant. The city has an estimated population of 1,711,000 (2009 est.)

9:1-8 – probably a prophetic description of the Lord’s march south to Jerusalem, destroying – as Divine Warrior – the traditional enemies of Israel.  As history shows, the agent of His judgment was Alexander the Great.

“Hadrach” – Hatarickka, north of Hamath on the Orontes River.

“Damascus” – the leading city-state of the Arameans.

2 And Hamath also shall border thereby; Tyrus, and Zidon, though it be very wise.

“Tyrus, and Zidon” – Tyre and Sidon, Phoenician (modern Lebanese) coastal cities.  Their judgment is also foretold in Isa 23; Eze 26:3-14; 28:20-24; Amos 1:9-10.

3 And Tyrus did build herself a strong hold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets.

“Strong hold” – the Hebrew for this word is a pun on the Hebrew for “Tyrus” (meaning “rock” but also “siege enclosure”).  The stronghold was Tyre’s island fortress, which became a “rampart” for invading forces.  It fell to Alexander in 332 B.C.

4 Behold, the Lord will cast her out, and he will smite her power in the sea; and she shall be devoured with fire.

5 Ashkelon shall see it, and fear; Gaza also shall see it, and be very sorrowful, and Ekron; for her expectation shall be ashamed; and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.

9:5-7 – the Philistine cities were greatly alarmed at Alexander’s steady advance.

6 And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.

The Straight Street of Damascus, the Biblical “Street called Straight”

“Bastard” – people of mixed nationality; they characterized the post-exilic period.

7 And I will take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth: but he that remaineth, even he, shall be for our God, and he shall be as a governor in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite.

8 And I will encamp about mine house because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth: and no oppressor shall pass through them any more: for now have I seen with mine eyes.

9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

“Riding upon an ass” – a suitable choice, since the donkey was a lowly animal of peace, as well as a princely mount before the horse came into common use.  The royal mount used by David and his sons was the mule.  And of course, the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem (Mk 11:1-11).

10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.

Ruins of the Jupiter Temple at the entrance of Al-Hamidiyah Souq

11 As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.

12 Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee;

13 When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man.

14 And the LORD shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord GOD shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south.

15 The LORD of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar.

One of the rare periods the Barada river is high, seen here next to the Four Seasons hotel in downtown Damascus.

16 And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.

17 For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids.

The Mongols
Nomad Conquerors

In the early 13th century, north of the medieval civilizations of China and Southeast Asia, a collection of nomadic clans coalesced into one of the largest and most fearsome of all empires: the Mongols.

A bronze paise offered save passage across Mongol trade routes.

For centuries, nomads on horseback had roamed the high plateaus of Central Asia. Their chilly, windswept lands ran from the Siberian tundra south to the Gobi Desert and from the Altai Mountains in the west to the Great Khingan Range in the east.

In the center were grasslands, steppes that just barely fed the cattle, sheep, and goats that the nomads drove north and south with the seasons.

Mongol clans shared the steppes with Turkic tribes to the west and Tatars to the east. In the 12th century, these Altaic-speaking peoples consisted of feuding groups ruled by chiefs, or khans.

Around 1162, a boy named Temujin was born to one of the clans. According to the 13th century Secret History of the Mongols, Temujin’s father, the tribal chief, was poisoned when Temujin was a child, and the boy, his mother, and his siblings struggled to survive by scavenging berries and rodents on the steppes.

Captured by an enemy clan and imprisoned in a wooden collar, Temujin supposedly escaped by using the collar to: knock his enemy senseless.

Whatever the accuracy of the early tales, there is no doubt that by the time he was a young man, Temujin had acquired a wife, a household, and a leadership position among the clans.  Through force and alliance, he pulled rival groups together under his sole control and built an army.

Genghis Khan is portrayed by a 13th century Chinese artist.

 Among the first to fall to his warriors was the rival Merkit tribe, which had brought Temujin’s wrath upon themselves when they had stolen his young wife, Borte.

Next to succumb to Temujin’s force were the Tatars; in a typical combination of ruthlessness and inclusiveness, Temujin ordered the killing of all Tatar males taller than the linchpin of a cartwheel, while adopting other Tatars as full members of his tribe.

By 1206, Temujin had conquered the Mongolian steppes. At an assembly of Mongol khans, he was named Genghis Khan, or Universal Ruler. According to the Secret History, the chieftains pledged:

“We will make you Khan: you shall ride at our head, against our foes. We will through ourselves like lightning on your enemies.  We will bring you their finest women and girls, their rich tents like palaces.”

Genghis Khan went on to lead one of the world’s most successful armies.  The warlord insisted that male children be trained in riding and archery almost from birth.  By promoting soldiers on merit and forcing warriors to report to him, not to clan leaders, he broke the division power of the tribal groups.

The army – at its peak containing no more than 125,000 Mongols – was divided into units of 10<000, 1,000, and 100 men.  A new discipline was enforced.  No more would raiders be allowed to invade a camp and then loot at leisure while the enemy fled; Mongol soldiers would pursue and annihilate the enemy first.

Mongol Empire

Wives and children of fallen soldiers would receive a share of the booty, ensuring their loyalty.

Genghis also molded Mongol society through his Great Yasa, a code of law governing proper behavior.  The death penalty awaited adulterers, spies, sorcerers, those who defiled water, and many other transgressors.

However, the code shows the leader’s respect for learning and his religious tolerance as well. 

“Khan decided that no taxes or duties should be imposed upon fakirs, religious devotees, lawyers, physicians, scholars, people who devote themselves to prayer and asceticism, muezzins and those who were the bodies of the dead,” noted later transcriptions of the code.

“He ordered that all religions were to be respected and that no preference was to be shown to any of them.  All this he commanded in order that it might be agreeable to Heaven.”

Having unified their forces, the Mongols turned their attention toward their prosperous Asian neighbors with  “their rich tents like palaces.”  Riding into northern China, the great Khan was held off for a while with bribes from the Jurchen emperor, but eventually the Mongol army broke through the Great Wall.

Driving refugees before them, the Mongols used captives as human shields as they besieged one city after another, starving and terrifying the inhabitants.  The Mongols were not above trickery and propaganda, promising at times to spare a city only to renege on their word, entering later and destroying it.

A Persian illustration depicts the tents of Genghis Khan’s nomadic camp.

Valuable craftsmen and specialists were captured and put to use.  Form Chinese engineers, the Mongols learned to build devastating siege weapons such as mangonels and trebuchets.  In 1215, they razed the Jurchen capital of Zhongdu. 

The treacherous Khan then returned to Mongolia to plan his next deadly attacks, leaving a general in charge of the Chinese territories.

For the next few years, the Mongols turned their attentions to lands to the west.  Attempting to open up a trade relationship with Persia in 1218, Genghis Khan sent envoys and merchants to the Khwarazm shah.

When the shah murdered his Mongol visitors, it so enraged the khan that he assembled a huge army and personally led it into Persia on a scorched-earth campaign, destroying city after city, massacring millions, even wiping out their irrigation system. Chroniclers told of mountains of skulls.

Not content with terrorizing the Persians, the Mongol armies also moved into Armenia, Ukraine, and the Crimea. There, for a time, they halted their westward expansion to look east again toward the rebellious Tanguts.

Genghis handily suppressed them in 1227, but then developed a fever and died. By the time of the great khan’s death, the Mongols controlled Central Asia from Persia to northern China.

After a brief power struggle among Genghis’s sons, the Mongol realm was divided among four heirs to form four khanates, in Central Asia, Persia, Russia, and China. Chief among his heirs was Ogodei, the new great khan.

Genghis Kahn hunting with falcons, from Chinese silk painting.

Building a Mongol capital city at Karakoram, on Mongolia’s steppes, Ogodei encouraged traders to pass through with their textiles and jewels and welcomed practitioners of various religions, including Muslims, Christians, and Buddhists.

As ambitious as his father, Ogodei sent armies under his sons and grandsons, guided by experienced generals, in two directions: toward Europe and Russia in the west, and toward Song- dynasty China in the east.

The Mongol horsemen swept ruthlessly across Russia, taking Moscow and Kiev and moving into Hungary European observers were horrified as they watched the advance of the seemingly unstoppable “hordes,” which spread “fire and slaughter wherever they went.”

But Mongol politics spared Europe from what might have been a history-changing invasion: Even as the path lay open to Vienna, Ogodei died, and all Mongol chiefs were recalled to a council to choose a new great khan.

The title passed to Genghis’s grandson Mongke, and after his death in 1259 to possibly the greatest of Genghis’s descendants: Khubilai Khan. Khubilai represented a new kind of Mongol: cultured and settled—though just as aggressive in war.

In 1271, Khubilai declared himself the new emperor of China and the progenitor of the Yuan dynasty, although it took him a few more years actually to subdue his tenacious Song opponents. Khubilai built a luxurious palace at his new capital of Khanbalik near the Yellow River—a city that eventually became Beijing.

Glazed fritware – Islamic pottery – from the Ilkhanate era.

There, attended by his huge court, he received visitors from East and West and attempted to rule the resentful Chinese. The most famous of his guests, to modern  audiences, was the young Venetian merchant Marco Polo.

Arriving at Khubilai’s court in 1275, he became a favorite of the khan and stayed for 17 years.  His admiring accounts of the Mongols, published in his Travels, describe the wealth of Khubilai’s court, his many concubines, his herds of albino animals, his portable summer palace, and the curious (to Polo) use of paper currency.

Marco was impressed by the skill of Mongol warriors:

“They avail themselves of bows more than of any other things, for they are exceedingly good archers, the best in the world…They are good men and victorious in battle and mightily valiant and they are very furious and have little care for their life, which they put to every risk without any regard.”

The young Polo also noted the khan’s distinctly un-European welcome of various major religions—Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Buddhists—although Khubilai himself held to the shamanistic beliefs of his Mongol heritage.

Despite his accomplishments, Khubilai struggled as an administrator of his vast agricultural lands, so foreign to Mongol experience. The Mongol leaders and their Chinese subjects never blended well, holding each other in mutual disdain, and the Mongols ended the useful Confucian educational system.

Khubilai’s costly attempts to extend his empire east to Japan and south to Thailand, Burma, Java, and elsewhere failed repeatedly. The Japanese invasions were foiled twice by typhoons—to the Japanese, “divine winds.”

An earthenware figure of a cheeful actor in costume, from the Yuan Dynasty.

The Yuan dynasty faced economic problems with inflation inside China, as well as epidemics of bubonic plague, which spread to Europe. In 1368, 74 years after Khubilai’s death, Chinese rebels captured the Mongol capital at Khanbalik and the Mongols returned to the steppes.

In Persia, Mongol rule started brutally with the bloody siege of Baghdad in 1258, the death of the Abbasid caliph, and the massacre of more than 200,000 inhabitants. Further advances into Egypt and Syria were foiled by the Mamluk army; reportedly, the Mamluks led the Mongol horsemen into rocky territory, where their unshod horses suffered.

Meanwhile, they burned the grasslands that would feed the animals.  Under Hulegu, Khubilai’s brother, the Mongols settled in to rule Persia, but delegated most of the administration to Persian bureaucrats.

 Hulegu acknowledged his alliance to the great khan by naming his realm the Ilkhanate  (“subordinate khanate”). Fairly quickly, however, the Mongol invaders were assimilated into Persian culture. 

By 1295, the Ilkhan ruler Ghazan converted to Islam and replaced the Mongol code with the sharia, Islāmic law. Poor administrators there as elsewhere, the Mongols were overthrown in Persia by the nomad leader Timur and the Turks in the 14th century.

In Russia, the Mongols had a longer lasting influence. In part, this was because the societies they conquered were less sophisticated and closer to Mongol culture. Known as the Golden Horde, possibly because of Mongol leader Batu’s supposedly golden tent.

Mongol conquerors shepherd their prisoners and loot, including livestock, during the invasion of Hungary ion 1241.

The Russian Mongols ruled from The Urals into Siberia.  They prized the region’s pastures but had less use for its cities, viewing them primarily as sources of tribute.  They too, became gradually Islamicized, and like the Ilkhans, most were eventually overthrown by Timur’s invading forces in 1395.

In the Crimea, however, the Golden Horde Horde Mongols continued to occupy the land until the 20th century.

The khanate of Chagatai, smallest of the Mongol territories, encompassed the conquered cities of Bukhara and Samarkand and traditional nomadic pasturelands of Central Asia. Gradually the Chagatai Mongols, too, became assimilated and Muslim and, like their brethren in Persia and Russia, were overcome by Timur and his Turkish armies.

At its height in the 13th century, the Mongol Empire controlled territory from the Arctic Ocean to the Strait of Malacca, and from the Pacific Ocean to Hungary— between 11 and 12 million square miles.

Brilliant and pitiless warriors, the Mongols did not have the skills to successfully rule most of the lands they conquered. (“The empire was created on horseback, but it cannot be governed on horseback,” observed Ogodei).

A mounted Mongol archer, shown in a lithograph from a Chinese drawing.

They left little behind in terms of tangible culture: no distinctive architecture, literature, crafts, or religion. However, they appreciated skill and learning in others and went far toward integrating Eastern and Western cultures by maintaining trade routes and resettling captured peoples, particularly prized craftsmen and scholars.

Religions, foods, technologies, medicine, and more spread from east to west along Mongol roads. 

Perhaps the most enduring legacy of the Mongols is genetic. Researchers have traced a direct genetic link between the ruling Mongol family and about 8% of the men in the regions of the former Mongol Empire—meaning that about .5% of the world’s population today may be descended from Genghis Khan.

…what type of army did Genghis have?

Zechariah 8 – God’s Intent to Restore Jerusalem & Angkor Wat

Many things of ancient time are a mystery to us today.  Since our own world is a mystery to us, how can anyone question if anything about You is a mystery?

If people want to know You, they just need to spend more time with You.

“Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (Jas 4:8).

The next great empire of Medieval Asia I would like to look at is…

The photographs below are not connected to the Bible in any way.  Yet, the talent it takes to perform the items only can only come from God.  These are amazing.

International 
Mosaiculture  Exhibition
Montreal – Summer 2013

Even if you’re not into gardening yourself, the plant sculptures in the international Montreal Mosaiculture Exhibition will blow your mind.

As defined in the official website of the event, mosaiculture “is a refined horticultural art that involves creating and mounting living artworks made primarily from plants with colorful foliage (generally annuals, and occasionally perennials).”

It is also a highly complex form of art, requiring different sets of skills from all the participating artists: not only do they have to plan and build the framework of the sculpture and match the colors, it is also important to understand the maintenance of each plant they use.

The Mosaïcultures International competition was founded back in 2000 by Lise Cormier after her visit to China: this is where Lisa saw an enchanting 40-feet-high sculpture of 3 doves and was instantly inspired to bring the idea back home.

Considered the world’s most prestigious competition of horticultural art, the 2013 edition of Mosaiculture is currently on display at Montreal Botanical Garden in Quebec, Canada.

More than three million flowers were raised in greenhouses throughout Quebec, and then shipped to the gardens in May, where designers wrapped them in steel meshes to create living works of art.

The sculptures are created using steel or aluminum forms that are wrapped in metal mesh, filled with earth and planted with flowers, ivies and grasses whose foliage provides texture and color.

Interior watering systems and growing medium were added so that the flowers could last all through the summer till the end of the exhibition on September 29.

Some 50 works graces the 2.2 km circuit through the enchanting grounds of the Botanical Garden.

The theme this year is “Land of Hope”. About 200 of the world’s most talented horticultural artists are taking part in this international competition, representing 20 countries. Entries have come from cities in countries as far as Turkey and Uganda, with China and Japan heavily represented.

Zechariah 8
God’s Intent to Restore Jerusalem

1 Again the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying,

8:1-23 – ten promises of blessing, each beginning with “Thus saith the LORD [of hosts].”

2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.

3 Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.

4 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age.

5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.

Barn Owl

6 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If it be marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvelous in mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts.

7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country;

8 And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.

9 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which were in the day that the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.

10 For before these days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast; neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the affliction: for I set all men every one against his neighbor.

11 But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the LORD of hosts.

Bird Tree. This huge sculpture is 40 feet high and they built special high bridge at this end so people could take photographs more easily. Every branch becomes a different bird. The wing span of the condor must be at least 8 feet.

12 For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.

13 And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.

14 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the LORD of hosts, and I repented not:

15 So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.

16 These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:

8:16-17 – such moral and ethical behavior sums up the character of those who are in covenant relationship with the Lord.

Big Flowers. These are growing in the midst of the Exhibition Gardens, some of the thirty gardens which comprise the Botanic Garden. Notice the bee.

17 And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbor; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.

18 And the word of the LORD of hosts came unto me, saying,

19 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.

20 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities:

21 And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also.

22 Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.

23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

Angkor Wat

The five terraced towers of Angkor Wat’s central shrine represent the five peaks of Mount Meru.

Mysterious Angkor Wat, strangled in jungle vines, became a romantic symbol of lost civilizations to Westerners in the 19th century.  It was never, of course, truly lost: Buddhist pilgrims and stray European explorers had been visiting the temple complex for centuries. 

But when the French became the colonial rulers in Cambodia in the 1860’s, their archaeologists and artists brought the world’s attention to the remote site and it’s spectacular, crumbling buildings.

A 13th century Khmer relief depicts Shiva and his wife, Devi.

Enclosed by a wall 2.2 miles long and a wide moat, the temple was the world’s largest religion complex.  Its sandstone blocks were held together without mortar, and its central shrine represented Mount Meru, the sacred Hindu mountain.

Miles of sinuous sacred and historical bas-reliefs covered walls and passageways. Much of the complex had fallen to rubble since the Khmer Empire vanished.

French archaeologists set to work in the late civilization. In 1994, the area was even scanned by radar from the space shuttle Endeavour. Scientists believe that many more artifacts of ancient Khmer culture remain to be found.

…the Mongols.

Zechariah 7 – Hearts of Stone & Khmer, An Empire of Temples

As I had stated in earlier boxes, One World Order is not a new concept, it’s been in the fix as far back as the Tower of Babel (Gen 11)

Yet, that is not the only time the idea has been initiated, it’s worldwide.  Different nationalities, different lifestyles, different cultures, different languages, but they all want the same thing. But those that are pushing for it ARE NOT with God.

The temples of Angkor Wat are absolutely stunning. The Angkor Wat temples were built around the height of the Khmer Empire as a capital for all of South East Asia.

As you can imagine, these temples are massive. One can really appreciate the power which the Khmer Empire welded when visiting Angkor Wat.

There can be no question that one man stands behind it all, and that’s the devil.  Satan is not God, he’s not even close to being like God, he was created by God, he’s a fallen angel. 

God doesn’t need everyone in one place to speak to or even control, as He showed that in the very beginning.  During the building of the Tower of Babel everyone was the same, but God made us different nationalities and languages (Gen 11:6-7).

Satan is not omnipresent, omniscient, or omnipotent like God, and he needs to get us all in one conglomerate to control and destroy us.  The best way for him to do that is for us to have One World Order.

I have no valid proof of this happening, other than the Bible, but I guarantee it’s going to happen and it’s going to be bad.  I am unsure if this will occur before or after the rapture.  Of course, I am unsure if the rapture will occur before or after the Great Tribulation.  My belief is that true Christians will not see the Great Tribulation.

Yet none of this matters, stay strong in the Lord no matter what, it will all be worth it, besides, don’t we owe that to Jesus for what He did for us?

Tomorrow we’ll take a closer look at…

Zechariah 7
Hearts of Stone

Full view of Biston, the largest stone relief
and inscription in the world, near Kermanshah.

1 And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Darius, that the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah in the fourth day of the ninth month, even in Chisleu;

“Fourth year…fourth day…ninth month” – December 7, 518 B.C. – not quite two years after the eight night visions.

2 When they had sent unto the house of God Sherezer and Regem-melech, and their men, to pray before the LORD,

3 And to speak unto the priests which were in the house of the LORD of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these so many years?

4 Then came the word of the LORD of hosts unto me, saying,

7:4-7 – a rebuke for selfish and insincere fasting on the part of the people and the priests.

5 Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?

A Close view of the rock relief and inscription
with Darius the Great standing in front of his defeated enemies. Fravahar, the symbol of Ahura-Mazda is seen above them.

“Fasted…fifth and seventh” – since these fasts commemorated events related to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, the 70 years here are to be reckoned from 586 B.C.  strictly speaking, 68 years had transpired; 70 is thus a round number.

6 And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?

7 Should ye not hear the words which the LORD hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain?

8 And the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah, saying,

A close up of Darius the Great showing his feet on the body of Gaumata the false king; while holding his right hand up thanking Ahura Mazda for his triumph in saving his empire.

9 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother:

7:9-10 – four tests of faithful covenant living, consisting of a series of social, moral and ethical commands.

10 And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.

11 But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.

12 Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.

“Adamant stone” – see Eze 3:8-9.

13 Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts:

14 But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.

Khmer, An Empire of Temples

The title Khan means “Great Lord of Lords,” and certainly he has a right to this title; for everyone should know that this Great Khan is the mightiest man, whether in respect of subjects or of territory or of treasure, who is in the world today,” wrote Marco Polo of the Mongol emperor Khubilai Khan. This was not medieval hyperbole.

As great khan, Khubilai ruled over an empire stretching from the Pacific to the Mediterranean. While Europe was struggling to rebuild after the collapse of the Roman Empire, Asia was witnessing a flowering of powerful civilizations from Southeast Asia to China and across the steppes to the Black Sea.

Cambodian stone carvings depicting he birth of Buddha.

Early in the first millennium A.D., the peninsulas and islands that now make up Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Myanmar (Burma) became a crossroads of trade between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Indian merchants introduced their culture to the region—Sanskrit, architecture, and, most significantly, the Hindu religion and the idea of the ruler as god-king.

Indian influences shaped the loosely organized kingdom of Funan, which grew up around the lower Mekong River in the 1st century A.D. Flowing out of southwest China, the Mekong winds its way to the South China Sea through subtropical lands that alternate between dry winters and wet drenched summers.

One Mekong tributary runs into Cambodia’s huge lake, Tonle sap, which quadruples in size every flood season.  By the 6th century, migrants from the north were pushing into the fertile river valley. 

The Funan kingdom dissolved, and for a time invaders from Java controlled the area. Eventually they were replaced by a larger, more powerful and more centralized empire: the Khmer, ruling from the kingdom of Angkor.

Like some other legendary leaders, the founder of the Angkor kingdom began his career in exile. Jayavarman II (c 770-850) was either a prisoner or a hostage at the Hindu court of Java before he returned to the lower Mekong plain as a vassal of the Javanese around 800.

Within two years, he had thrown off Javanese domination and  established himself not only as ruler of the Khmer people but also as a devaraja—a divinely anointed king. At Mount Kulen, northeast of Tonle Sap, he built his first capital, crowned with square towers.

Soon he moved closer to the lake and built another capital, Hariharalaya, featuring even larger, stepped-pyramid Hindu temples.

King Jayavarman at Bayon Temple near Angkor.

Jayavarman’s son inherited the throne, but in 877 he was supplanted by his cousin, Indravarman I. Indravarman topped the architectural achievements of his predecessors by building the largest temple yet at Hariharalaya: the Bakong “temple mountain.”

Made primarily of stone, it used a hundred times more material than any previous temple. More valuable, in a practical sense, was Indravarmans construction of a vast reservoir, one of many that would be built over the centuries along with a widespread, sophisticated system of irrigation canals.

Water collected in the reservoirs during the monsoon season could be released in the dry months, allowing for multiple rice harvests.

Succeeding Indravarman was Yasovarman, who established the city for which the empire is famous, Angkor Thom (Great City), at the end of the 9th century.

Built on the banks of the Siem Reap River, just north of the Tonle Sap lakeshore, the city became both a religious center, filled with temples, and the core of a thriving agricultural civilization. Hundreds of miles of canals and dikes connected to huge reservoirs spread out around Angkors walls.

The walls themselves, almost two miles on a side, enclosed a metropolis the size of modern New York City that at its height might have had 750,000 inhabitants.  More than a thousand temples rose within the city, which was laid out to reflect the Hindu world order.

A moat symbolizing the oceans surrounded the walls. In the center, sacred Mount Meru was represented by the Bakheng temple, five stories tall with 109 towers; 33 towers are visible from each side of the temple, possibly represent 33 gods living on Mount Meru.

Tens of thousands of priests, workers, and dancers served Angkor’s temples and in turn were supplied by a sizable population of rice| farmers in the countryside.

This 11th century bronze figure of Vishnu reclining, from Angkor, is one of thousands of images of Hindu deities from Khmer capital.

Despite occasional periods of conflict, the kingdom was for the most part calm and prosperous under Yasovarman’s successors. As the 11th century began Suryavarman I reestablished control over breakaway areas and took over portions of Thailand to the west.

After some dynastic struggles, Suryavarman II (unrelated to the previous Suryavarman) took the throne in the early 12th century.  Also a vigorous soldier, he is better known today for beginning the magnificent temples complex of Angkor Thom.

Dedicated to the god Vishnu, it’s central temple re[presents Mount Meru.  Miles of bas-reliefs along its wall show scenes from Hindu sacred texts, vignettes of daily life (men playing a board game for instances, a victorious battles against warriors from the neighboring kingdom of Champa in Vietnam.

Throughout the centuries, the Khmer rulers struggled with their neighbors, but during the 11th and 12th centuries, they were largely victorious.  At their greatest extent, the leaders of the Khmer Empire expanded their rule over part of what are now Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Laos, as well as Cambodia.

Cham invaders destroyed parts of Angkor in the 12th century, but they were driven out by Jayavarman VII, who conscripted hundreds of thousands of workers to build new temples in the complex. 

Buy Jayavarman VII’s rule marked cultural change in the Khmer Empire.  He was a devout Buddhist, although religiously tolerant.  Buddhist temples joined earlier Hindu structures in Angkor Wat.

A carved aspara (celestial dancing girl) at Angkor Wat. The Khmer absorbed religious imagery from India.

Although surrounding kingdoms nibbled away at the Khmer Empire in the next couple of centuries, Angkor remained a prosperous city and a hub of trade.  As a visiting Chinese official, Chau Ju-kua, described it in the 13th century:

“The officials and the common people dwell in houses with sides of bamboo matting and thatched with reeds. Only the king resides in a palace of hewn stone.  It has a granite lotus pond of extraordinary beauty with golden bridges, some three hundred odd feet long . . .

There are some two hundred thousand war elephants and many horses, though of small size…The native products comprise elephant’s tusks…good yellow wax, kingfisher’s feathers (Note: Of which this country has great store), dammar resin, foreign oils, ginger peel, gold colored incense, sapan wood, raw silk, and cotton fabrics.

The foreign traders offer in exchange for these gold, silver, porcelain ware, sugar, preserves, and vinegar.”

In the 14th century, Angkor began to decline. Thai peoples, pushed south by Mongol forces, began to invade the kingdom along Angkor’s fine roads.  Climate change and the decay of Angkor’s complicated irrigation system may have contributed to a stressed, dwindling population.

By 1432, the Thais had captured the capital city, driving out the Khmer and establishing a capital farther west.  The exquisite temples of Angkor Wat were overtaken  by jungle vines, remaining in obscurity until they were brought to international notice by awestruck European explorers in the 19th century.

…Angkor Wat.

Zechariah 6 –Four Chariots of Divine Judgment & Lost Cities of Europe: Entremont (4 of 4)

Now I’m going to sort of step away from the Bible, but then again, they are all involved, i.e., One World Order was on the mind there too, so we’ll start with…

Zechariah 6
Four Chariots of Divine Judgment

1 And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass.

Mount Zion is located on the south-west side of the old city, outside of the present walls. In Greek and Roman times this was the southern side of the walled city, the place of the Jesus last supper and the home of the high priest high priest Caiaphas.

6:1-8 – the eighth and last vision.  It corresponds to the first (1:7-17).  Babylonian, a land of idolatry, was in appropriate locale for wickedness – but not Israel, where God chose to dwell with His people.  Only after purging it of its evil would the promised land truly be the “holy land.”

“Four chariots’ – angelic spirits as agents of divine judgment.

“Two mountains: – possibly mount Zion and the mount of Olives, with the Kidron Valley between them.

“Brass” – bronze, perhaps symbolic of judgment.

2 In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses;

6:2-3 – “Red…black…white…grisled and bay” – the hroses may signify various divine judgments on the earth.  See Rev 6:1-8.

3 And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses.

4 Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord?

5 And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.

6 The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the grisled go forth toward the south country.

Mount of Olives
Mount of Olives is the hill facing the old city of Jerusalem, on the eastern side of Kidron creek. It is a Holy place, referred in the Old and New Testaments. It is dominated by a large cemetery on its slopes.

7 And the bay went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth. So they walked to and fro through the earth.

8 Then cried he upon me, and spake unto me, saying, Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted my spirit in the north country.

“The north country” – primarily Babylonian, but also the direction from which most of Israel’s foes invaded their nation.

“Have quieted my spirit” – the angelic beings dispatched to the north have triumphed and thus have pacified or appeased God’s spirit (i.e., His anger).  Another view reads, “have given my Spirit rest.”  In either case, since conquest was announced in the north, victory was assured over all enemies.

9 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

6:9-15 _ the fourth and fifth visions were concerned with the high priest and the civil government (in the Davidic line).  Zechariah now relates the message of those two visions to the Messianic King-Priest.

The Kidron Valley runs north-south between the Mount of Olives and the eastern wall of the Temple Mount and the City of David.

This valley actually continues all the way to the Dead Sea. The total length of the valley is 20 miles, and it falls 4,000 feet. The Gihon Springs naturally filled this valley, but the settlers of Jerusalem diverted the water into pools and channels to be used by the city.

This picture is the view standing in the Kidron Valley looking south. The Mount of Olives is to the left and the Temple Mount is to the right at the top of Mount Moriah.

6:9 – Introduces a prophetic oracle.

10 Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah;

11 Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest;

“Crowns” – the Hebrew for this word is keren, from which the English “crown” is derived.  It is not the same as that used for the high priest’s turban, but one referring to an ornate crown with many diadems.  The royal corwing of the high priest foreshoadwos the goal and consummation of prophecy – the crowing and reign of the Messianic King-Priest.

12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:

13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

14 And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the LORD.

15 And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.

 

Lost Cities of Europe (4 of 4)

Entremont

Location: Provence, France Date Of Construction: C 1 80 B.C.
Abandoned: C 90 B.C.
Built By: Salyens
Key Features: Old And New Town; City Wall; Hypostyle Hall; Reliefs And Idols Of Heads And Heroes; Olive Presses

The Greeks in pre-Roman Gaul have a significant history of settlement, trade, cultural influence, and armed conflict in the Celtic territory of Gaul (modern France), starting from the 6th century BCE during the Greek Archaic period.

Following the founding of the major trading post of Massalia in 600 BCE by the Phocaeans at present day Marseille, Massalians had a complex history of interaction with peoples of the region.

Traditionally Western European history before the coming of the Romans has been seen as a dark age of savage tribes and primitive villages of rude wattle and daub huts, but a large and sophisticated Gallic settlement in southern France shows that this picture is misconceived.

History only officially begins when it starts to get written down, with the result that pre-literate societies like the pre-Roman Gauls are cast into the darkness of prehistory; relegated, in the traditional historical imagination, to the fringes of the drama – shadowy groups and figures just beyond the reach of the spotlights, lurking offstage, unseen but for brief, bloody incursions into the world of the Greeks and Romans.

As archaeology advances and historical understanding becomes more subtle and informed, many of these groups are moving from prehistory to what is known as protohistory, a discipline in which scant mentions in ancient texts are combined with data from inscriptions, art, artefacts and archaeology to build up a picture of groups, societies, cultures and whole civilizations that were comparable in sophistication and achievement to their better known, more advanced neighbours.

Examples include the Scythians and the Celts.

Entremont is a 2nd to 1st century B.C. settlement of the Celto-Ligurian Salyens (known as the Saluvii by ancient Greco-Roman writers) in Provence in southern France that well illustrates this point.

Here, on the fringes of the Greco-Latin world, a large town of regular grid like streets, massive well-planned fortifications, multiple storey grand public buildings and elaborate religious precincts comparable to the nearby Greek colonies flourished, until besieged and sacked by a Roman army.

Greeks and Gauls

Around 600 B.C. Greeks from Phocea founded a colony called Massalia (modern Marseilles) near the mouth of the Rhone, a great river that provided access to much of France and central Western Europe, and via other, closely related river systems, all the way to the British Isles, the Baltic and beyond.

The first known hominid settlements in the Nice area date back approximately 400,000 years; the Terra Amata archeological site shows one of the earliest uses of fire and construction of houses and flint findings are dated as around 230,000 years old.

Nice (Nicaea) was probably founded around 350 BC by the Greeks of Massilia (Marseille), and was given the name of Νικαία (“Nikaia”) in honour of a victory over the neighbouring Ligurians (Nike is the Greek goddess of victory).

The city soon became one of the busiest trading ports on the Ligurian coast; but it had an important rival in the Roman town of Cemenelum, which continued to exist as a separate city until the time of the Lombard invasions. The ruins of Cemenelum are in Cimiez, which is now a district in Nice.

All the valuable natural wealth of Europe, from amber and furs to tin and slaves, was available to the Greeks. In return they traded the products of the Mediterranean civilizations – wine, fish products, glass, worked metals, and, above all, quality pottery.

The Greek colony had a significant impact on societies reaching far up into Europe, but especially on those along the Rhone and the Cote d’Azur, the trading routes to and from southern France.

And because Greek and Latin writers recorded some of the interactions between the colonists and their neighbors, we know the names of many of these groups.

One that particularly stands out was the Salyens, a confederation of tribes of Celts, who had migrated from Central Europe into much of the rest of the continent  from around the same time as the foundation of Massalia, and Ligurians, the indigenous peoples of the area.

The Salyens had a fraught relationship with the Greek colony. Although there was considerable trade and peaceful contact, there was also constant tension and occasional outbreaks of violence.

In the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C., to protect their trade routes against piracy, the Greeks founded subsidiary colonies along the coast such as Nikaia (Nice) and Antipolis (Antibes), but these too came under threat from land-based forces. The Salyens gained a reputation, in the ancient texts, for extreme barbarity.

Their typically Celtic custom of taking heads as trophies made a particular impact on the ancient imagination.

Settlement at Entremont

Entremont is the modern rendering of a medieval name, Intermontes, for a pass from the low valleys of the Arc and Touloubre to a plateau that rose towards the foothills of the Alps. Here, on the southern edge of the plateau, was a natural defensive site controlling the valleys and the passage to the north.

The base of an olive press from Entremont – oil from crushed olives would follow the incised grooves and feed out through the runnel for collection.

What its Celto-Ligurian inhabitants called their settlement is not known, but here they founded what Julius Caesar would later call an oppidum – a fortified settlement.

The site probably had religious or ritual significance before it was settled, as indicated by steles (carved stone posts) from around 500 B.C., that were reused in later buildings, but the first settlement on the site dates back to around 180 B.C..

It was small, only about 2 ½ acres in area, and was situated at the summit of the plateau. The edges of the settlement were aligned with the south and west sides of the plateau and it had the shape of a displaced square (i.e. a parallelogram).

The northern side of the town, which gave on to the open plateau, was fortified with a 4½ feet wide wall that had three towers. 

Within this wall,10-feet wide streets were laid out in a regular crisscross pattern, parallel with the sides of the town, which divided the houses into blocks of around 258 square feet. The streets were not paved, although they were set with stones and fragments of pottery to help stabilize them.

Each block of houses was subdivided by walls of stone blocks with mud bricks for their upper courses, into groups of seven simple rooms. Roofs were made of wood frames and wattle and daub.

Massalian silver drachma 375-200 BC. Obv. head of Artemis, rev. lion, Greek inscription ΜΑΣΣΑ(ΛΙΑ), “Massalia”.

Mud bricks were used to create small structures inside the cell-like houses, such as hearths, but fireplaces were also often built in the street outside the house because of the limited space.

One of the blocks was probably devoted to crafts such as metal working, but on the whole the evidence is that the inhabitants of the old town lived at a simple, near-subsistence level, producing little more than they needed for their own survival.

The New Town

Around 150 B.C. the town was dramatically enlarged and seems to have taken a step up economically, but there is also evidence of a major shift in the social structure. The new town was much bigger – an area of about 8¾  acres – and had a massive, extensive defensive wall enclosing nearly the whole area of the plateau.

This was presumably to prevent attackers from gaining a foothold on level ground. This new wall was 11½ feet thick and up to 23 feet high. It had massive protruding towers, 31 feet wide and 26-29½  feet high, and these were positioned every 17½ feet along the wall. Drains set into the base of the wall allowed rainwater running off the plateau to escape.

The lower courses of walb were of tone, which had survived to preserve the plan and layout of much of the town. Viable in the foreground are furnaces for metal-working.

The new town was also organized into slightly off-square blocks, but these were more than twice as large as those in the old town. Most of the streets were wider and the houses were larger, with between one and five rooms.

There is evidence that more activities were going on in the domestic spaces, as more commodities were available to the inhabitants. In particular, many counterweights for presses have been found.

Chemical analysis of residues from jars and the floors of houses indicate that these presses were for producing olive oil, so it looks as though the people of Entremont had developed a significant cottage industry.

The biggest building of the new town backed onto the line of the old town wall, which had been destroyed and recycled. It was a monumental hypostyle hall, 65½ feet long and 16½ feet wide, with a series of wooden pillars supporting a second storey.

The walls were made of stone in the lower courses and packed clay in the upper, with a timber-framed facade. The pillars of the facade rested upon a long stone bar, or stylobate, which included stones previously used in the primitive sanctuary that predated the settlement.

Twenty skulls pierced with holes have been found scattered around the stylobate, suggesting that the facade was decorated with heads nailed to the timbers. The floor of the building was fine-packed clay, while the internal walls were coated with white lime.

The oppidum of Entremont is an archaeological site of 3.5 hectares located in Aix-en-Provence , 3 km from the city center, at the southern end of the plateau Puyricard , in the locality of Entremont. Entremont was in the ancient capital of the Confederacy Celto-Ligurians.

It is inhabited from 180 BC. BC – 170 BC. AD , which corresponds to a late habitat compared to other oppida protohistoric the region, such as the oppidum of St. Blaise , 123 BC. BC , the plateau is abandoned and the populations of the oppidum come to populate the new Roman town built at the foot of the plateau: Aquae Sextiae . To 90 BC. AD , the city was completely uninhabited. The period of occupation has been extremely short: about 80 years.

The street in front of the hall was enlarged and the effect was to create an impressive public building set apart from the rest of the town. Although admittedly probably based on Greek models, which the Salyens would have seen in Massalia or other colonies, this building is a remarkable symbol of Gallic sophistication and ability.

The Cult
of the Heroes

Arguably the most important parts of the settlement were the four religious sanctuaries. These are marked by carved stelae and lintels, sculptures, statues and skulls. Some of the lintels have recesses for heads or skulls, alongside reliefs of heads.

The sculptures show heroic figures, seated in Buddha-like poses, with weapons and trophies, including skulls. The heads and skulls might represent either trophies of the dead or relics of revered ancestors.

Such idols and votive figures have a long history going back to the beginnings of Gallic culture, but at Entremont the context in which they are displayed speaks of changing social structures.

Although Celtic society is traditionally renowned as an egalitarian one, the evidence of this and other sites is that it was becoming much more stratified, with aristocratic lineages asserting their superiority and dominant status.

In the Entremont sanctuaries the heroes are displayed in close association with representations of these aristocratic lineages, suggesting that the ruling classes were trying to appropriate the preexisting cult of the hero to bolster their own prestige and status.

Historians believe that the influence of the Greco-Roman trade via Massalia, which brought wealth and luxury goods, may have helped to drive this social shift.

The End of Entremont

During the Punic Wars between Carthage and Rome, Massalia supported Rome, and later, when their colonies were threatened by the Salyens and others, the colonists appealed to Rome, the rising power in the western Mediterranean, for help.

This picturesque city, once the home of Cezanne, is perfect for lovers of impressionist landscapes and includes the added bonus of beautiful fields of lavender.

Built and developed around art and culture, Aix is at the centre of one of France’s most important tourist regions and a perfect starting-point for visitors to explore many places of interest, all within an easy drive.

Aix-en-Provence (usually known as Aix) is a small city but the addition of the TGV (high-speed train) station has brought lots of holidaymakers from the north and Aix has become an area of great popularity despite its small size.

The price of this assistance was acceptance of Roman hegemony. Italian merchants took over trade through Massalia, which increasingly dealt with imports from Italy.

In 125 B.C. Roman forces moved against the troublesome Salyens, but Entremont, probably the Salyen capital, resisted the legions.

In 123 B.C., under the Roman consul C. Sextius Calvinus, another force besieged the city, which is littered with evidence of the savage onslaught, including stone balls hurled by catapults, iron bolts fired by giant ballistae (crossbows) and the heads of many Roman pilae (javelins).

The defenders left their own traces – clay slingshot balls, iron daggers, arrows and spears. But Roman military might was too much and the city was taken and sacked, as the remains of broken amphorae attest.

In a few of the houses, small caches of coins, jewelry and other valuables buried in the mud floors eluded discovery by the rapacious legionnaires.

According to ancient sources the Saluvian king and his nobles fled to the north and took refuge with a tribe called the Allobriges, while the surviving inhabitants of Entremont were deported (possibly into slavery), with the exception of a nobleman called Craton, a Roman collaborator.

Along with 900 of his people he was allowed to remain at Entremont, where they apparently lived until c 90 B.C., when a second military destruction suggests that Craton’s descendants did not maintain their cordial relations with the Romans.

After this the site was abandoned, while a new Roman town founded nearby (now Aix-en-Provence) flourished.

…Medieval Asia, the Khmer.

Zechariah 5 – The Flying Roll. & Zechariah’s Authorship

It doesn’t matter who wrote it because You dictated all of books.  No one can claim authorship of the Bible because You are the true author.

Tomorrow, let’s close the section on the Lost Cities of Europe with…

Zechariah 5
The Flying Roll

1 Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll.

Darius the Great reigned over the Persian Empire in the time of Zechariah.

5:1-4 – the sixth vision.  Lawbreakers are condemned by the law they have broken; sinners will be purged from the land.

2 And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll; the length thereof is twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits.

“Twenty cubits…ten cubits” – Thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide, unusually large, especially in its width, fall to see.  Such a bold, clear message of judgment against sin should spur the people on to repentance and righteousness.

3 Then said he unto me, This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth: for every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it.

“Everyone that stealeth” – breaks the 8th commandment (Ex 20:15).

“Everyone that sweareth” – such a person violates the 3rd commandment (compare #4 with Ex 20:7).  Although theft and perjury may have been the most common forms of law-breaking at the time, they are probably intended as representative sins.

The people of Judah had been guilty of infractions against the whole law (cf. Jas 2:10).

4 I will bring it forth, saith the LORD of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof.

“It shall ever…shall consume” – “It” refers to the curse.  God’s word, whether promise or warning, always accomplishes its purpose (Isa 55:10-11; Heb 4:12-13).

5 Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth.

5:5-11 – the seventh vision.  Not only must flagrant, persistent sinners be removed from the land, but the whole sinful system will be removed – apparently to a more fitting place (Babylonian).

6 And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth.

“Ephah” – a measuring basket, usually not large enough to hold a person.  This one was undoubtedly enlarged, like the flying roll, for the purpose of the vision.

7 And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah.

8 And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.

9 Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.

“Wind” – also an instrument of God (Ps 104:3-4).  The removal of wickedness would be the work of God alone.

10 Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah?

11 And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base.

Shinar” – Babylonian, a land of idolatry, was an appropriate locale for wickedness – but not Israel, where God chose to dwell with His people.  Only after purging it of its evil would the Promised Land truly be the “holy land.”

Zechariah’s Authorship

Before the 16th century A.D. the authorship of Zechariah was uncontested. The book was believed to have been written in its entirety by the prophet Zechariah. Zechariah began his ministry in 520 B.C., a mere two months after Haggai commenced his own.

Zechariah’s vision of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse(Zechariah 6:1–8), engraving by Gustave Doré.

During the 17th century A.D., on the basis of Matt 27:9 (which quotes Zec 11:12-13 but ascribes it to the prophet Jeremiah), the suggestion was made that the latter half of Zechariah (chapters 9-14) was actually written by Jeremiah.

Since then the unity of Zechariah has been questioned by many critical scholars. Some hold that the entire work was written before the time of Zechariah, while others are convinced that it was written long after his day.

The various arguments include:

The first eight chapters allude to the historical situation during the restoration of the temple and include the dates when the visions occurred, while the last six chapters contain no such allusions or dates.

There are marked differences in style and vocabulary between chapters 1 -8 and 9-14.

The reference to Greece in 9:13 suggests to some scholars a composition date in the late 4th century B.C., after Greece under Alexander the Great had conquered the Near East. Since Persia, not Greece, was the prevailing power in Zechariah’s day, many believe this particular verse to have been written after the fall of the Persian Empire.

There is little disagreement that chapters 9-14 are different from 1-8 or that the two sections were written at different times.  This does not necessarily preclude, however, the assumption that Zechariah did in fact write the entire book.

Russian icon of the prophet Zechariah.

The fact that Zech 1-8 dates it’s prophecies, while chapters 9-14 do not, can be accounted for without postulating a second author.

The first section relates to the crucial events of 520 to 518 B.C., focusing on specific individuals and time frames. This specificity in purpose requires a more concrete historical setting.

The second section is for the most part eschatological (focused on the end times) and oriented toward the distant future.

The first section was most likely written well before the second. Zechariah was a young man in 520 B.C. (2:4) but may have written chapters 9-14 decades later.

The prophet need not have maintained one writing style throughout his ministry. The apocalyptic-type visions of chapters 1-8 are reminiscent of what we see in Ezekiel (completed c. 575 B.C.) and Daniel (completed c. 530 B.C.). Zech 9-14, on the other hand, returns to a more classical style of prophecy.

With regard to 9:13, the Hebrew Scriptures already refer to Greece (“Javan”) before Zechariah’s time (Isa 66:19; Eze 27:13); Greece was a significant power already in the 6th century B.C. By 520 B.C. the Greeks were a considerable irritation to the Persian Empire.

And within a few decades the Persians would assemble one of the greatest armies of ancient history to deal with them— and suffer a catastrophic defeat. Indeed, the Persians may already have experienced a major setback in Greece by the time of the writing of Zech 9-14, and yet those chapters could still be the work of Zechariah himself (the Battle of Marathon was fought in 492 B.C.).

Zeruabbel and Joshua begin the rebuilding of the Temple.

Several solutions have been offered for Matthew’s reference to Jeremiah. Some have argued that since the Talmud places Jeremiah at the head of the collection of prophetic books, any prophetic quote might be considered as belonging to the literary collection of Jeremiah.

Others suggest that Matthew originally ascribed the passage to Zechariah but that the name Jeremiah crept in through scribal error. Matthew may have been quoting Zechariah but referring the reader to the prophecy found in Jer 19:1-13 and 32:6-8, which had been repeated and expanded in Zechariah’s work.

In addition to the arguments presented above, the work shows internal signs of unity. The first and second sections are both concerned with the divine protection of Jerusalem, judgment against Israel’s enemies, the Messiah (Zec.3:8; 9:9) and the outpouring of the Spirit (4:6; 12:10).

…Entremont.