The Balaam Prophesy and Roman Admissions to the Conspiracy
"I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star shall come out of Jacob and a scepter will rise out of Israel. It shall crush the foreheads of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth. Edom shall be dispossessed."–Numbers 24.17-19
Most likely originally a reference to King Josiah, this text came to be interpreted as a prediction of the coming of the Messiah, as can be seen in the Testament of Judah.
"And after this there shall arise for you a star from Jacob in peace. And a man shall arise from my posterity like the sun of righteousness, walking with the sons of men in gentleness and righteousness, and in him will be found no sin. And the heavens will be opened upon him to pour out the spirit as a blessing of the holy Father. And he will pour out the spirit of grace on you. This is the shoot of God most high; this is the fountain of life of all humanity. Then he will illumine the scepter of my kingdom, and from your root will arise the shoot, and through it will arise the rod of righteousness for the nations, to judge and to save all that call on the Lord."–Testament of Judah 24.1-6 alluding to Joel 2.28-29 and Isaiah 11.1-5
This text purported to have been written by the sons of Jacob actually only dates to the second century BCE. Similar references can be found from the Qumran document known as the "War Scroll." While the Jews in particularly the Essene and Messianic Jews saw this as a prophesy foretelling the coming of the Jewish Messiah, the Romans had their own interpretation.
"There had spread over all the Orient an old an established belief that it was fated at that time for a man coming from Judaea to rule the world. This prediction, referring to the emperor of Rome, as it turned out, the Jews took to themselves, and they revolted accordingly."–Suetonius, "Vespasian" 4.5
"What did the most to induce the Jews to start this war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how, about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth. The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular, and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their determination. Now this oracle certainly denoted the government of Vespasian, who was appointed emperor in Judea."– Josephus, "War of the Jews" 6.312-313
"The majority [of the Jews] were convinced that the ancient scriptures of their priests alluded to the present as the very time when the Orient would triumph and from Judaea would go forth men destined to rule the world. This mysterious prophecy really referred to Vespasian and Titus, but the common people, true to the selfish ambitions of mankind, thought that this exalted destiny was reserved for them, and not even their calamities opened their eyes to the truth."–Tacitus, "Histories" 5.13
The Jews, having taken this prophesy to heart produced an innumerable number of Messianic wannabes during the first century BCE and the first century CE. It seems that no sooner had the Romans nailed one messiah to the cross that another soon appeared. The most notable of these was Judas of Galilee and it was from his lineage that many of these would be messiahs sprang, like Menahem and later Simon bar Kosiba. This is also the lineage of Matthew's Jesus. For this reason the conspirators made the belief in one and only one true messiah a basic tenet of their new faith, and that person was to be the best kind of Jewish Messiah for the Romans, a dead one.
While writing 'Caesar's Messiah', Joseph Atwill unearthed a series of horticultural analogies used by the conspirators. After the war with the Jews, the Romans wanted to bring back a trophy of their victory to Rome and that prize was the title of Messiah. This is clearly stated in the following quote from Pliny the Elder. "The balsam shrub is native to Judea but was brought to Rome by "the Vespasian emperors" and "it now serves [Rome] and pays tribute along with its race (cum sua gente) [i.e. Judeans]. The Jews did violence to it as also to their own lives, but the Romans protected it in response, and there has been warfare over a bush!"–Pliny the Elder, who later died during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius (79 CE), dedicated his "Naturalis Historia" to Titus.
The Roman historian Tacitus also has his own horticultural analogy, 'destroy the vine and destroy also the branch.' Paul also enjoins with the following from Romans 11:24: "For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?" There is also the analogy made to describe the pruning of the Jewish warrior Eleazar during the siege of Jerusalem.
There is also another telling horticultural analogy and this comes from the Jewish writings. Elisha Ben Abuiah was from Jerusalem. His dates are unknown, but most place his adult life between the Jewish wars. It was he who was the Christian persecutor and later convert to Christianity. He was nicknamed Aher for traitor. The Latin version of Apollonius is Paulus, and both individuals are conflated into just Paul. While there exists no secular historical material pertaining to Paul, there is a record of the anti-Pharisaic Rabbi Elisha, probably a remnant of the defunct Sadducean sect, in the Jewish writings. Since he was a contemporary of Rabbi Akiva who was born in 50 CE, it is likely that he was at least a generation younger than the Paul of the scriptures. The idea that Paul (Apollonius) persecuted Christians is ludicrous, first because the Christ concept was his own idea which he was trying to sell, and even according to Christian scripture, the term Christian was only first used in Antioch c 41 CE.
"According to Grätz, he was a Karpotian Gnostic; according to Siegfried, a follower of Philo; according to Dubsch, a Christian; according to Smolenskin and Weiss, a victim of the inquisitor Akiba....The oldest and most striking reference to the views of Elisha is found in the following baraita (Hag. 14b; Yer. ii. 1): "Four [sages] entered paradise—Ben 'Azzai, Ben Zoma, Aher, and Akiba. Ben 'Azzai looked and died; Ben Zoma went mad; Aher destroyed the plants; Akiba alone came out unhurt."... It means that Elisha, like Paul, in a moment of ecstasy beheld the interior of heaven—in the former's case, however, with the effect that he destroyed the plants of the heavenly garden."–Jewish Encyclopedia. The Nazoreans considered reality to be heaven and their religion as the new shoot of Judaism. So, the destroying of the plants refers to the destruction of the shoot of Judah. I have no idea what a Karpotian means, nor as far as I can find does anyone else. There was a philosopher by the name Carpocrates whose followers were called Carpocratians, but this was during the reign of Hadrian (117-138 CE) which would fit the time frame of Aher.
The following affirms that even as late as the end of the first century, no one had ever heard of a crucified Jewish Messiah by the name of Jesus Christ. "Now there still survived of the family of the Lord grandsons of Judas [Thomas], who was said to have been his brother according to the flesh, and they were related as being of the family of David. These the officers brought to Domitian Caesar, for like Herod, he was afraid of the coming of the Christ [Messiah]."—Eusebius quoting Hegesippus, "Ecclesiastical History." Keep in mind that this statement was made by an early Christian chronicler during the second half of the second century, hence he refers to Judas as the brother of the family of the Lord. It is obvious that the Romans were aware that many of the messianic wannabes came from this very same family, but as of the time of Domitian the Romans had no reason to believe that the Jewish Messiah had as yet appeared. Hence, the story of the resurrected Jewish Messiah was not grounded in reality, but in the fictions of the gospels which were roundly rejected by Domitian who was Apollonius' arch enemy.
Quite strangely, there also exists an equally condemning entry in 1Thessalonians believed by many to have been the first of the Pauline Epistles published: "Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost."—1Thessalonians 2:15,16. What retribution could Paul possibly be talking about? This epistle is believed to have been written c 52 CE, and posted in the city bearing its name. How in the world could Paul have known of the destruction of Jerusalem at that time, an event which happened after the supposed beheading of Paul. Could it be, that as many scholars believe, that this was a latter day Christian interpolation, or could this reference actually refer to the taking of Jerusalem by Pompey after the execution of the Essene Teacher, and have nothing to do with the Jesus of scripture.
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