The Birth of John the Baptist

Josephson

Member
Elisabeth
“Notwithstanding which, there is a fountain by Jericho, that runs plentifully, and is very fit for watering the ground; it arises near the old city, which Joshua, the son of Naue, the general of the Hebrews, took the first of all the cities of the land of Canaan, by right of war. The report is, that this fountain, at the beginning, caused not only the blasting of the earth and the trees, but of the children born of women, and that it was entirely of a sickly and corruptive nature to all things whatsoever; but that it was made gentle, and very wholesome and fruitful, by the prophet Elisha. This prophet was familiar with Elijah, and was his successor, who, when he once was the guest of the people at Jericho, and the men of the place had treated him very kindly, he both made them amends as well as the country, by a lasting favor; for he went out of the city to this fountain, and threw into the current an earthen vessel full of salt; after which he stretched out his righteous hand unto heaven, and, pouring out a mild drink-offering, he made this supplication, - That the current might be mollified, and that the veins of fresh water might be opened; that God also would bring into the place a more temperate and fertile air for the current, and would bestow upon the people of that country plenty of the fruits of the earth, and a succession of children; and that this prolific water might never fail them, while they continued to be righteous. To these prayers Elisha joined proper operations of his hands, after a skillful manner, and changed the fountain; and that water, which had been the occasion of barrenness and famine before, from that time did supply a numerous posterity, and afforded great abundance to the country. Accordingly, the power of it is so great in watering the ground, that if it do but once touch a country, it affords a sweeter nourishment than other waters do, when they lie so long upon them, till they are satiated with them. For which reason, the advantage gained from other waters, when they flow in great plenty, is but small, while that of this water is great when it flows even in little quantities… so that he who should pronounce this place to be divine would not be mistaken
– Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book IV, 8:3​

Wow, a fountain which was barren and caused every living thing, plant and animal, to become barren, then Elisha throws in a bucket of salt, waves his hands around in the air “after a skillful manner”, says some magic words and poof, the fountain is now fruitful producing a “numerous posterity”. I am sure some of you are going to be tempted to think that maybe the salt killed a colony of harmful bacteria or algae or something like that, but I am going to go ahead and assume that it was the “proper operations of his hands” which made the fountain become fruitful. And since this place can now be pronounced “divine”, this sounds like the perfect occasion for the creation of a Greco-Roman fertility goddess! If we were going to create here a fertility goddess we would want to take the name of the prophet who created her, Elisha, and make a more feminine and Hebrew sounding name, for example “Elishabeth”, which in Hebrew would mean “Elisha's house”, however, neither Latin nor Greek have the “sh” sound, so they would have had to modify it to “Elisabeth”:

“There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years… And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord… But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.”
– Luke 1:5-13​

I think it is important to keep in mind here that Jews do not have fertility goddesses, Greeks and Romans do, but the author of the Gospels was able to create a fertility goddess for the fountain near Jericho and was able to hide it in the form of a blessed Jewish woman. But from this fertility goddesses will be born a hero of the Roman army, one who will go before Titus and prepare him the way. His name is Placidus and he will be married theologically to John the Essene to produce the combined force of nature, the two lesser generals from either side of the conflict helping Jesus bring about the annihilation of Israel. And it had the keywords “general” and “war”, so naturally this passage captures the attention of Luke. But Matthew notices the keyword “divine” and adds his take on the passage in the next section.

“…He adds another Grecian fable, in order to reproach us…”
– Flavius Josephus Against Apion, Book II :8​
 

Josephson

Member
Zacharias
“NOW, by this crafty speech, John made the zealots afraid; yet durst he not directly name what foreign assistance he meant, but in a covert way only intimated at the Idumeans. But now, that he might particularly irritate the leaders of the zealots, he calumniated Ananus, that he was about a piece of barbarity, and did in a special manner threaten them. These leaders were Eleazar, the son of Simon, who seemed the most plausible man of them all, both in considering what was fit to be done, and in the execution of what he had determined upon, and Zacharias, the son of Phalek; both of whom derived their families from the priests. Now when these two men had heard, not only the common threatenings which belonged to them all, but those peculiarly leveled against themselves; and besides, how Ananus and his party, in order to secure their own dominion, had invited the Romans to come to them, for that also was part of John's lie; they hesitated a great while what they should do, considering the shortness of the time by which they were straitened; because the people were prepared to attack them very soon, and because the suddenness of the plot laid against them had almost cut off all their hopes of getting any foreign assistance; for they might be under the height of their afflictions before any of their confederates could be informed of it. However, it was resolved to call in the Idumeans; so they wrote a short letter to this effect: That Ananus had imposed on the people, and was betraying their metropolis to the Romans; that they themselves had revolted from the rest, and were in custody in the temple, on account of the preservation of their liberty; that there was but a small time left wherein they might hope for their deliverance; and that unless they would come immediately to their assistance, they should themselves be soon in the power of Ananus, and the city would be in the power of the Romans. They also charged the messengers to tell many more circumstances to the rulers of the Idumeans. Now there were two active men proposed for the carrying this message, and such as were able to speak, and to persuade them that things were in this posture, and, what was a qualification still more necessary than the former, they were very swift of foot; for they knew well enough that these would immediately comply with their desires, as being ever a tumultuous and disorderly nation, always on the watch upon every motion, delighting in mutations; and upon your flattering them ever so little, and petitioning them, they soon take their arms, and put themselves into motion, and make haste to a battle, as if it were to a feast. There was indeed occasion for quick despatch in the carrying of this message, in which point the messengers were no way defective. Both their names were Ananias; and they soon came to the rulers of the Idumeans. Now these rulers were greatly surprised at the contents of the letter, and at what those that came with it further told them; whereupon they ran about the nation like madmen, and made proclamation that the people should come to war… and twenty thousand of them were put into battle-array, and came to Jerusalem, under four commanders, John, and Jacob the son of Sosas; and besides these were Simon, the son of Cathlas, and Phineas, the son of Clusothus. ”
– Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book IV, 4:1​

“There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth… And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.”
– Luke 1:5-20​

“Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father {he was dumb, not deaf!;}, how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.”
– Luke 1:57-66​
 
Top