The political situation in Galilee.
October 11th, 2001
Received by H.
My dear brother, are you not content with our messages? I’ve got this impression. You burn with the desire for knowing more about Jesus’ life. I do understand that what I have transmitted so far hasn’t provided you with much new information, but a lot of people don’t know these facts. In my opinion, it is necessary to offer some historical background, because without this background knowledge, it is very difficult to understand the world in which Jesus moved. Besides, is it not true that there has been new information for you? You ignored the situation in Bethlehem, you ignored the story of the return to Galilee, you received visual impressions of some of Jesus’ followers, which you could transform into drawings, almost as the police do for wanted people. And you can do this even better than the police, because you don’t depend on the descriptions of other people, you can draw first hand visions. You see, we really have been very productive.
I have also noticed, of course, that you have expressed your concern that you could not maintain this fast pace of message reception because it is very time consuming. But this is not exactly true. Thinking of how much time you waste daily, we could even duplicate our deliveries [Judas laughs]. The transmission is very quick. To write the text later on the computer takes more time as also translating it. But this is not so bad. I personally would like to maintain this pace, but everything depends on you.
By the way, I see that you are not happy with your portrait of James, Jesus’ brother, either. Well, perhaps he looks a little bit somber, but it is a good portrait - well done. I like it. You have to be aware that any portrait that you produce will not be a hundred percent accurate. These are not photographs, they are reproductions of mental images. And you are doing them very well. Many more drawings are going to follow, you’ll see.
I guess today is one of those days when you are not happy with anything, not even with yourself. You are a perfectionist without being perfect, and you won’t resolve that tension in the short term.
But let us continue now with our account.
In my last message I described the political situation in Judea. Now we will analyze the situation in Galilee. By the way, don’t you think it would be a good idea to insert here a map of Palestine? It would help the readers to see things clearer.
OK. In the year 4 B.C. Herod died, Herod the Great, of course. And in his testament he distributed his kingdom among his children, and the Romans ratified this. Very well, Archelaus received Idumea, Judea and Samaria.
Another son of the “old fox,” Herod Antipas, received Galilee and Perea. Perea was a strip of land east of the river Jordan. As I have told you, his father had considered him superior to Archelaus, and he had even designated him as his principal heir, but at the last moment, he changed his mind.
This Herod Antipas is that same Herod to whom Pilate sent Jesus, in his so-called trial, and who in turn sent him back to Pilate. This is a truthful story in the New Testament, and we will later talk about the event in more detail. And it was he who issued the order to execute Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist. Later, I will also explain to you what really happened.
Antipas, the youngest surviving son of Herod, was educated like his brother Archelaus as a private citizen in Rome. The dying king’s decision to change his testament, nominating Archelaus as king, precipitated an exhibition of rivalry amongst the brothers in front of the emperor in Rome. Augustus confirmed Herod’s last will, granting Antipas government only over Galilee and the trans-Jordan region, that is to say, Perea. The territory controlled by Herod Antipas encompassed approximately a fourth part of Herod the Great’s kingdom. Therefore, his title tetrarch.
I will explain the titles one more time. They always lead to confusion.
Herod the Great was a king, an independent sovereign, at least formally recognized by Rome. But Rome denied that title to his immediate successors. Archelaus, inheriting half of the territory, received the title ethnarch, ruler of the people, and Philip and Antipas received the title tetrarch, meaning ruler of a fourth part (of the Kingdom), and in fact, both received a fourth part of the territory.
Although he was only the governor of two small countries (or county), Antipas locally named himself “king,” and used the name “Herod,” to sustain his demand that he was the true heir to his father’s legacy.
There are some Bible scholars who like to quote some passages in the New Testament where Herod Antipas is called “king.” They take this as an indication that the actual author of those passages was not a Jew from Palestine, because he ignored the correct title of tetrarch. But this is not true. Antipas enjoyed using this title, and practically demanded that his subjects called him “king.” And that is all there is to it, and that is why there is such apparent confusion. You have to be very careful when reading these learned people’s comments, who in fact don’t know much. So watch out!
With the help of the Roman legions, he smashed the Galilean rebels, of whom we will speak tomorrow, and then he spent his efforts urbanizing the southern part of Galilee. He reconstructed the regional capital, Sepphora, which the Romans had destroyed in the civil war, and dedicated it to the emperor Augustus, calling it “Autocratoris,” city of the Emperor. After his Roman overlord, Tiberius, assumed the throne, in the year 14 A.D., Antipas decided to build a new and even more splendid capital, in the Roman style, for Galilee at the western bank of the Lake Genesaret, naming it Tiberias. In order to protect his southern flank, he formed an alliance with the Arab kingdom of Nabatea, marrying the daughter of the king of Petra, Aretas IV, but he divorced her later on, and married Herodias, his stepbrother’s wife, thus challenging the Jewish Torah.
Like his father, he was very sensitive when conservative Jews criticized him or his regime, and he quickly squashed popular agitators - just think how he acted in the case of John the Baptist. His Jewish citizens never forgave the fact that he had executed a person who they considered sent by God. When Aretas took revenge for his daughter’s misfortune, inflicting a decisive defeat on Herod in 36 A.D., many Jews took this to be a divine retribution for John’s execution. The real ambitions of Antipas were dented even more when the new emperor Gaius, better known as Caligula, named his brother-in-law, Agrippa I, king of the neighboring countries in 37 A.D., and you did hear right, he named him king, not tetrarch. Antipas’ protest against the young emperor’s decision and his demand for an equal rank, however, led Caligula to dismiss him and to send him into exile. He died soon afterwards in what is today’s Lyons in France, in the year 39 A.D., ten years after the Master’s crucifixion.
Another son, Philip, was named tetrarch over Gaulanitis, Batanea or Bashan, the southern part of modern Syria, Auranitis or Hauran and Trachonitis, regions in the southwestern part of Syria and the mountains of Lebanon, which Augustus had placed under Herod the Great’s jurisdiction between 23 and 20 B.C.
Philip had passed his childhood in Rome, being educated there, like his stepbrothers favored in the “old fox’s” testament. The education of Herod’s children was not due to preference or the better opportunities for their education, but it constituted a kind of insurance for the Romans. Herod’s children were in fact hostages, logically with all services and honors, but nevertheless they were hostages. In this way Augustus secured Herod’s loyalty. Officially he treated him as a friend and partner but he didn’t trust him. No, Herod was too cunning and could not be trusted. And Augustus was right.
Philip’s domain encompassed the less judaized and most hellenized part of Herod’s earlier kingdom. Among his subjects, in fact, there were very few Jews. Most of them were Syrians or Arabs, and these last ones, at that time still used to roam the area living in tents, and were dedicated to a nomadic life style. Herod the Great had built some cities, or villages, such as Adraa, the modern Dar’a, but he was unable to change their ways.
Like Antipas, Philip honored his Roman patrons, founding cities dedicated to the imperial family. Paneas, an ancient mineral water spring and pagan altar at the source of the river Jordan, became Philip’s imperial capital, which he named Caesarea Philippi, which you should not confuse with Caesarea Maritima, at the Mediterranean Sea, the administrative capital of the Roman authority in Judea.
Philip also set to work on the fishing port of Bethsaida, at the northwestern shore of the Lake of Genesaret, enlarging the place and renaming it Julias, in honor of Augustus’ wife, Livia, who nicknamed herself Julia Augusta. He married Salome II, who was his stepbrother’s daughter, Herod II, by his niece, Herodias. But he died in 34 A.D. without leaving heirs, and his domain was conferred on Herodias’ brother, Agrippa I.
To his nomadic subjects, Philip appeared like an Arab sheik. He travelled constantly throughout his country, escorted by only a small retinue. When somebody asked for his help, he immediately ordered his guards to set up his throne on the ground, because he always traveled with his throne in his baggage, and he listened to the complaints, and gave his opinion. It was like an improvised court of justice. Philip’s urban subjects considered their prince’s behavior rather weird, but the Arabs loved him, as Philip was like one of them, and in fact he had more support amongst them than in the cities.
He reigned over a war-fearing but still purer people, I mean, in the sense that the many corruptions that were present in the cities still had not damaged those people. Philip was a moderate person, and to tell the truth, he didn’t like what he saw in the cities, and his frequent travels were also his escape valve, his escape from a reality he did not like at all.
Philip also had Greek and Roman citizens, and they usually lived in the cities. In order to please them, Philip designed his coins totally according to the pagan style, presenting the emperor’s image, Tiberius, and on the reverse symbols of paganism, such as a temple for example. In Judea, the fortress of conservative Judaism, such an attitude would have been unthinkable, and was considered almost blasphemous by orthodox Jews.
When Philip finally died in Julias in the year 34, after having reigned over his domains during thirty-seven years, the emperor Tiberius subjected these territories to the jurisdiction and administration of the neighboring province of Syria. But with Tiberius’ death, Philip’s nephew Herod Agrippa I was installed by Caligula as a brand-new king governing over his deceased uncle’s fiefdom. But of that we will speak later. Agrippa doesn’t have anything to do with Jesus, but he does form part of early church history.
Very well, my dear brother. We have also talked a little about Philip, although he didn’t have anything to do with Galilee, but Jesus also went frequently to the territory which he governed. Some of his disciples also came from this area, from the eastern shore of the lake.
This is already quite a long message. Tomorrow we will deal with Jesus’ youth, and we will address in this way an area that you have ignored completely. Then your thirst for “news” will be quenched,
God bless you, H___, and don’t forget to pray. The world needs this now more than ever. And your soul always needs it.
I’ll come again soon,
Publishers Note - references to italics above.
Subsequent to the initial publication of this message, it has been pointed out that a number of paragraphs are, to all intents and purposes, identical, or very similar, to material published by Mahlon Smith on his web site Into His Own. This material is italicised above. As the medium did not copy this material consciously, Judas was asked about the situation. In this message, Judas confirms that he, Judas, extracted that material from H.’s mind, and that he would tend to use whatever material he finds in order to facilitate communication. H. has done a large amount of research in the pursuit of writing a book about Jesus, and has read the material on this site extensively. He has also read many other sources. It is important thus to attribute the source of this material. If any readers believe other sources have been used, kindly let us know, as under the circumstances, it is impossible to know what is original material. While we could set about altering the wording used here, that would not alter the fact that the material was sourced elsewhere, and it would not preserve the originality of this message. It is not our intention to seek to disregard the copyright of any author, merely to record what is Truth.
© Copyright is asserted in this message by Geoff Cutler 2013