sifreyh deya‘qob żediqa
ha-séifer ya`aqov ha-tsaddiq
(THE BOOK OF JACOB THE PIOUS)
If you ever have any questions about what you read, or if you profoundly disagree with anything, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Exhortations is our equivalent of the New Testament, but does not have any scriptural authority; the only scriptural authority for Talmidis is the Galilean canon of the Hebrew Bible; therefore you do not have to agree with the contents of The Exhortations in order to call oneself a Talmidi.
Scroll One: Introduction
1. 1In those days, after the death of the Prophet Yeshua` of Nazareth, the whole assembly of the faithful chose Ya`aqov son of Qlofas, being a brother of the Master and a holy man, 2to stand at the head of the communities in the Galilee and Judea, and all the Diaspora; to lead them, and by wise words of exhortation to hold their faith steadfast and strong, in preparation for the days to come.
2. 1Now Ya`aqov drank no wine or strong drink, and no razor came near his head, being holy from his mother’s womb. 2As a boy he was dedicated by his mother into God’s service as an attendant in the Temple, and grew to adulthood in the service of YHVH. 3He did not eat meat, nor vainly anoint his body with oils, nor did he go to the Greek baths.
4He did not wear wool but rather linen, and he used to enter the Temple alone from early dawn, 5and was often found upon his bended knees interceding for the forgiveness of the people, so that his knees became as callused as a camel’s knees. 6Because of the constant supplication he made, and on account of his kneeling before God, asking forgiveness for the sins of the people – for this he was known as ‘the bulwark and the protection of the people’. 7For the sake of his prayers and his righteousness, the storm was held back; for it is said, ‘For the sake of the righteous, the world is not destroyed.’
8Ya`aqov was universally esteemed to be the most just of men, on account of the elevated philosophy and devotedness to God he exhibited during his life. 9He spoke kind words to the forgotten, gladly taught the children of the poor, and counselled the lost and those hungry for guidance, turning no man, woman or child from any tradition away. 10He was considered to be so holy by the people, that they earnestly sought to touch the hem of his clothing, or to kiss the blue cords of his fringes, 11so that they too might be inspired to the same holiness and observance; for they had heard that God was with him.
12More than this, he shunned riches, and was celibate. He fasted regularly, and took part in the daily distribution of alms to the poor, the fatherless and the widowed. He fulfilled every commandment of God’s Torah with humility and faithful observance.
Scroll Two: Disputations with Qayafas, and Paul’s assault on Ya`aqov
3. 1Now, it was the custom of Ya`aqov and the Emissaries to meet after prayers in the portico of Solomon in the Temple. 2And one day in the presence of a crowd, the High Priest Qayafas attempted to find fault with the teaching of the prophet Yeshua`, claiming that he spoke only of empty promises, saying to Ya`aqov, 3“He said that the poor are blessed, and promised them earthly rewards; that the virtuous who walked with humility would inherit the Land; 4and promised that those who observe righteousness shall be satisfied with food and drink; and indeed, I could charge this Yeshua` with teaching many more false things of this nature.”
5In reply to him, Ya`aqov argued that his accusation of emptiness was baseless and fanciful. 6He explained that the Prophets, whose words we believe are true, but which Qayafas and the Sadducees reject, taught these same things also and much more besides, 7and that Yeshua` pointed out how their words ought to be taken; 8in what manner these things would come to be, and how they were to be understood.
4. 1Thereupon Qayafas looked sternly again at Ya`aqov, sometimes in the way of warning and sometimes in the way of accusation. 2He said that Ya`aqov and the Emissaries ought in the future to be silent, and to desist from the preaching of Yeshua`’s words, 3lest it should bring destruction upon them and, being deceived by error themselves, they should also cause others to go astray.
4Then he further charged them with arrogance, because although the Emissaries were unlearned, and for the most part fishermen and rustics, they dared to assume the office of teachers.
5When he had spoken these and many other similar things, Ya`aqov said in reply, “Now see, we are in no danger if our Yeshua` was not a prophet, because we nevertheless accepted him as a teacher of the Torah; 6but you are in terrible danger if Yeshua` was a true prophet, as assuredly he was, for we believe in the Message the Holy One of Israel gave him to deliver. 7But you hold back your faith for someone else whom you do not know, one who has not yet come.
8‘And if those among us who are unlearned and ignorant men – as you say, mere fishermen and rustics – if they have more understanding than wise scribes and elders, then this ought all the more to strike terror into you. 9For if they had gone out for instruction, and then refuted you wise and erudite men, this would have been a work of time and human diligence, which is of natural provenance, and not a supernatural power of God; 10but if those whom you call ‘ignorant people of the land’ can convince and overcome you wise and erudite men, 11is it not clear to anyone who has any sense, that this is not the work of human cleverness, but of God’s divine will and gift, for whom all things are possible?”
5. 1Ya`aqov continued in his discourse to the chief priests and said, “Furthermore, because of the message God gave Yeshua` to deliver, we know beyond a doubt that God is very much displeased with the sacrifices that you offer, so the time of your sacrifices is almost at an end; 2and because you will not change the unworthiness of your sacrifices, the day is coming when the Temple will be destroyed, for your hearts and hands defile the sacrifices you offer. 3You oppress the poor, and imprison the innocent. 4The day will come when abominations of desolation will stand in the holy place; 5and because of you, and people like you, the Holy City will be given over to the Gentiles in witness against you, that your hardness of heart may be judged by their presence; 6for God does not want us to bring sacrifices offered in sin, nor does God desire burnt-offerings offered in iniquity. True sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit; God will not despise a contrite and penitent heart.
7“We therefore bear witness to you, and openly declare to you what has obviously been hidden from your eyes. 8It is now for you to consider what is to your advantage to do.”
6. 1When Ya`aqov had thus spoken, the whole multitude of the priests was in a raucous rage, because he had foretold to them the destruction of the Temple. 2At that point Rabban Gamaliel saw this. He was a Pharisee and a respected leader of the people (who secretly admired Ya`aqov, but by our advice remained silent about it).
3So he came forward and said to the priests, “Be quiet for a little while, O men of Israel, for you do not understand or perceive the trial which hangs over us. 4Therefore leave these men alone. If what they are engaged in be of human origin, it will fail and soon come to an end. 5But if it be from God, why do you sin needlessly, and gain nothing? You will only find yourselves fighting against God; for who can overpower the will of God?
6“Now therefore, since the day is waning and evening is coming, I shall myself dispute with these men tomorrow, in this same place within your hearing, so that I may openly oppose and clearly refute every one of their assertions.”
7By this speech of his the fury of the priests was to some extent checked, especially in the hope of their expectation that on the next day we might be publicly convicted of error; 8and thus he managed to dismiss the chief priests peacefully.
7. 1Now when the Emissaries had left with our Ya`aqov, they discussed with him all that had been said and done. 2They took food together that evening, and remained with him, spending the whole night in supplication to God Most High, in order that in the approaching disputation the Message of God’s truth would prevail.
3Therefore, on the following day, Ya`aqov our Nasi went up to the Temple with the Emissaries, and with the whole assembly of the faithful. 4There they found a large crowd, who had been waiting for them from the middle of the night. 5Therefore they took their stand in the same place as before, so that standing in a raised place, they might be seen by all the people present.
6Now, if at any time the Sadducees should attempt anything unjust or wicked against them, Gamaliel intended that he would either restrain them with a skilfully adopted plan, 7or else warn Ya`aqov and the others, so that they would be on their guard, ready to deflect it. 8So acting like an enemy against them, he spoke in this way so that he might persuade those present to be more willing to listen to their words. 9First of all looking to Ya`aqov our Nasi, he addressed him in this manner:
8. 1“If I, Gamaliel, deem it no disgrace either to my learning or to my old age to learn something from small children and the unlearned, 2should this not then be something prized and desired by all, to learn what one does not know, and then teach what one has learned? 3Perhaps there is something useful here to acquire in terms of salvation from our current ills. 4It is most certain that neither friendship, nor kindred, nor lofty royal power, should be more precious to us than truth.”
5As if enticing and coaxing us, he said, “My brothers, if you know anything more – if perhaps God has revealed something further to you – do not hesitate to bring it before all the people of God who are present, while everyone listens willingly and in perfect quietness to what you say. 6For why should the people not do this, when they see even me as an equal, ready and willing to learn from you.
7“But on the other hand, if you lack anything, do not be ashamed to be taught by us in the same way, so that God may make whole whatever is wanting on either side. 8Be assured, if those people whose minds are prejudiced against you make you afraid, and if through fear of their violence you dare not openly speak your sentiments, 9I swear to you by Almighty God, who lives forever, that I will allow no one to lay hands upon you, so that I might deliver you from this fear.
10“So, since you have all these people as witnesses of my oath, and since you hold our sealed covenant as a fitting pledge, 11let each one of you without any hesitation declare what he has learned; and let us, brothers, listen eagerly and in silence.”
9. 1These words of Gamaliel did not much please Qayafas. Apparently holding him in suspicion, he began to insinuate himself cunningly into the discussions. 2Smiling at what Gamaliel had said, Qayafas, the chief of the priests asked Ya`aqov, the chief of the elders, that the discussion about the teachings of Yeshua` should only be based on the Scriptures; 3“So that we may know,” he said, “whether Yeshua` was a true prophet or not.”
4Then Ya`aqov said, “First we must enquire from which Scriptures we are principally to derive our discussion.” Qayafas answered that it must be derived only from the Torah. 5Then, after he was with difficulty overcome by reason, also made mention of the Prophets.
10. 1For our Ya`aqov had begun to explain, that whatsoever things the Prophets say, they have taken from the Torah, and what they have spoken is in accordance with the Torah. 2He also made some statements respecting the Books of the Kings of Israel and Judah, in what way, and when, and by whom they were written, and how they ought to be used. 3And after similar discourses, Qayafas reluctantly admitted the use of the books of the Prophets.
4So Ya`aqov pointed out by a most clear exposition, where the Torah and the Prophets supported every teaching and message of the Prophet Yeshua`. However, more importantly, he brought into light most abundantly where the Prophet Yeshua` supported the Torah and the Prophets. 5By plentiful proofs he showed how God’s good promises in the books of the Prophets would come to their fulfilment; 6and he gave examples of warnings whose dangers were also drawing near.
7Then he spoke of how the Prophets had shown that whenever the priests of the Holy One fail to serve God in holiness, and when the reputation of God’s Name among the people became defiled, there would come a reckoning and a time of tribulation, and a threat of exile; 8and that before this tribulation, the Prophets showed us that God would send us a prophet like Eliyahu; 9and that this Eliyahu had indeed come – Yochanan the Immerser, who preached an immersion for repentance, and that the heart had to be purified by repentance before the body could be purified by water.
10Then he explained that after him, God had called Ya`aqov’s brother, Yeshua` son of Yosef, to follow after Yochanan – to call the nation to repentance, so that the many among the people could be sheltered on the day of the Holy One’s coming, and the nation of Israel not be completely destroyed. 11Through successive discourses he persuaded many of the people that they should therefore come forward and repent before the coming day of YHVH.
11. 1And at the point when many of the people were prepared to accept Ya`aqov’s words, a certain hostile guard entered the Temple courts with a few of his men. 2He was captain of the Temple guard, a convert named Saul of Tarsus.
3With shouts and anger he began to say, “What do you think you are doing, O men of Israel? Why are you so easily led astray? 4Why are you led headlong into the pit by the most miserable of men, these who have been deceived by that dead magician, that sorcerer Yeshua` of Nazareth?”
5While he was speaking these things, and adding more curses to the same effect, and while Ya`aqov our Nasi was trying to refute him, 6he began to excite the people and to raise a noisy tumult, so that the people were not able to hear what was said. 7In this way he began to upset everything with confusion and shouting, and to undo what had been achieved with much effort.
8At the same time he reproached the priests, and inflamed them with insults and admonishments and, like a madman, incited everyone to murder saying, 9“What are you doing? Why do you delay? You sluggish indolents, why do you not immediately seize all of them, and pull all these men to pieces?”
10When he had said this, he seized a flaming torch, and with it began to strike Ya`aqov and the Emissaries. 11Others too, seeing his example, were carried away with equal madness. 12There then ensued riotous shouts on either side, of the beaters and the beaten. There was much blood shed, and a confused flight. 13In the midst of all this madness, Saul our enemy attacked Ya`aqov our Nasi, and threw him headlong from the top of the steps of one of the exit tunnels. 14When he saw his leg broken, and supposing him to be dead, he did not bother to inflict further violence upon him.
12. 1But his brothers and friends lifted him up, for they were both more numerous and more powerful than their adversaries. 2But out of their reverence and respect for God and God’s Holy Sanctuary, they endured the prospect of being killed themselves by a weaker force, rather than endure killing others.
3But when evening came, the priests shut up the Temple. The Emissaries returned to the house of Ya`aqov in the lower city, and spent the night there in prayer, that he might be speedily healed of his injuries. 4Then before daylight they went down to Jericho, to the number of five thousand individuals.
13. 1Now about this time, news came to us that the prefect of Judea in those days, Pontius Pilatus, was to be recalled to Rome. 2This was the consequence of the terrible massacre he had inflicted upon Samaritan pilgrims some months before at Mount G’rizim.
3As equally as the greater part of the Jewish people yearn for a messiah of David’s line to come, so also the Samaritan people told of their hope in the coming of the one whom they called the Taheb – ‘The Restorer’, the prophet of the end-times. 4This man, so they said, would reveal the location of the sacred vessels from the Tabernacle, which had been hidden since the time of King Hoshea; 5they claimed that he would also reveal the true meaning of the Torah – evidently, confirming the Samaritan version of scripture. It was also told that this Taheb would proclaim these tidings from their holy mountain, Mount G’rizim.
6If you are aware of the suspect manner in which the Roman authorities view claimants to the title of the Jewish messiah, then you will also understand how they viewed claimants to the title of Taheb in like manner – with great scorn, as rebels and insurgents against Rome. 7So when a man appeared, claiming to be this Taheb, calling upon his followers to make their way to Mount G’rizim, 8Pilatus led his infantry and cavalry to prevent these armed people from reaching the mountain. This they did with such violence and slaughter, that many hundreds were killed outside the village of Tirathaba. The man claiming to be the Taheb was captured by Pilatus, and later ordered executed.
9So enraged were the leaders of the Samaritans by this massacre, that they sent a delegation to the Syrian governor Lucius Vitellius, claiming that the pilgrims had gone to Tirathaba in order to escape the violence of Pilatus. 10Vitellius therefore sent his friend Marcellus with orders to appear before the Emperor of Rome, to answer the charges of the Samaritans, and for inciting an uprising in the province.
11Pilatus left to make his way to Rome. In his stead, Marcellus remained as caretaker prefect, while awaiting the arrival of Vitellius himself in Jerusalem. 12Marcellus had no real power, and so Qayafas took it upon himself to rid himself of the Greek sect of Followers, who had been the most vociferous in their opposition to the Temple authorities.
14. 1So after Ya`aqov and the brethren had been in Jericho three days, one of the brothers came to us from Gamaliel, whom I mentioned before, bringing to us secret news that the enemy Saul had received a commission from Qayafas, the High Priest. 2He was to arrest any Follower who spoke against the Temple or the chief priests. He was to go to Damascus with his letters of authority, 3and also, employing the help of hostile elements there, he was commanded to bring havoc to the congregation of the faithful. 4Another reason why he was hastening to Damascus was because he believed that Keyfa had fled there.
5For certain among the brothers came to our Ya`aqov, and advised him that perhaps it was not in his interests to arouse the anger of the chief priests by speaking out against their sacrifices. 6However, a number of the elders, particularly those who spoke Greek, would not hold back or compromise in their criticism of the chief priests and the Temple sacrifices. 7Consequently, these brothers and their families were persecuted and arrested by Saul and his men, who put some of them to death by stoning.
8For it had been thus previously, that some of the Greek-speaking brothers felt their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of alms from the common purse. So the Council of Elders appointed seven men among the Greek-speakers to act as their own elders.
9The Council had happily agreed to this, since Followers who dwelt in the Galilee already had their own elders – the successors of the original Seventy; these had even sent missions to Rome from K’far Nachum. 10As a result Rome, in addition to our synagogues in Damascus and Alexandria, now followed the teaching of the Galilean elders; while synagogues in Jerusalem, around Judea and several communities around Greece, all followed after the teaching of the Emissaries. 11Meanwhile, our communities in Antioch – as well as some in Damascus – came to follow the teaching of Greek-speaking Followers.
12As a result of all this division in teaching, Saul could only justify the persecution of the families of the Greek-speaking Jews who railed against the Temple, because the teaching of those who followed the Emissaries, and of those who followed the elders of the Galileans, was mercifully less belligerent.
13As a result of the persecution of Greek Followers, they were scattered abroad, travelling as far as Cyrene, Cyprus, and Antioch in Syria.
14Now, about thirty days thereafter on his way to Damascus, Saul stopped while passing through Jericho. 15At that time we were absent, having gone out to the tombs of two brothers. 16These tombs were whitewashed by themselves every year, through which miracle the fury of many against us was restrained, 17because they saw that our brothers were held in blessed remembrance before God.
Scroll Three: The Troubles with Paul of Tarsus
15. 1So Saul, when he heard of this miracle, was exceedingly afraid, and came to the mind that perhaps our community might be possessors of some truth after all. 2Then he departed on the road to Damascus, and was immediately struck from his animal by God’s might. 3This time, Saul was terrified almost to his death, believing that this was some portent, that the mission upon which he was embarked was indeed in opposition to God’s will, and that if he proceeded, he would meet a greater or even fatal accident.
4So from that day, he pledged that he would no longer harm those who followed the Way, but that he would leave us alone, if the Almighty would but spare him.
5However, this put him at odds with his own men, and in direct opposition to the will of the High Priest, who had sent him on this commission. 6So he claimed a vision and a voice, saying that he had been made blind by this vision. 7He dared not return to Jerusalem, and thereby face the wrath of the High Priest, so thereupon he asked his men to take him directly to Damascus, where he knew a healer who could cure him.
8After he gained recovery from his blindness, he rested some days at the house of a healer, a Gnostic Nazorayyan he knew named Hananias. 9This Hananias immersed him in the name of Yochanan the Immerser for repentance, and taught him the pagan teaching that the spirit is pure, but the flesh is evil.
10Armed thus with his new-found beliefs, he began preaching nonsense in the synagogues of Damascus, so that he was chased from the city. 11Heaping curses upon the Jewish citizens of the city for rejecting his teaching, he departed at once to the small towns of Nabataea, where he spent three years hounding the Arabs with regard to his strange visions and eccentric new teachings.
12After that time, he returned to Damascus, where he again pestered the citizens of that city. 13So offensive did he become, that the citizens petitioned the governor to deal with him. The governor attempted to have him arrested, 14but with the help of his friend Hananias, Saul managed to escape.
15Thereafter he went up to Jerusalem, but only to visit Shim`on called Keyfa, and stayed with him fifteen days. During that time he formed a lasting and fateful friendship with him. He did not see any other emissary, but he did meet with our Ya`aqov. 16In that meeting he lied with regard to his motives, seeking to make excuses for what he had done to Ya`aqov without any form of apology. 17But Ya`aqov, being a man of great mercy, and a man whose soul had been lifted up by God’s lovingkindness, forgave him anyway for the blows that he had rained down upon him in the Temple.
18However, Saul threatened to arouse the same uproar in Jerusalem as he had done in Damascus and around Nabataea, especially among the Hellenistic Followers whom he had previously persecuted. 19So the brethren took him to Caesarea, whereupon he was put on a ship back to his home-city of Tarsus, in his native land of Cilicia.
16. 1After that, Saul did not return to Jerusalem for another ten years. He argued incessantly with the pagans of Cilicia, claiming that the resurrected saviour he taught was greater than all the resurrected saviours they believed in put together. He thereby honed his teaching and perfected his beliefs. 2After four years, a convert of Cypriot birth named ‘Barnabas’ went looking for him in Tarsus. Upon locating him, he brought Saul back with him to Antioch in Syria, where he sojourned with the community of Greek Followers and Godfearers. It was during this time that he reverted to the Gentile name of his birth, Paul. 3The community there had been swelled by Greek Followers from Cyprus, who were most fervent in their mistaken belief that Yeshua` had been the promised Messiah to the Jewish people.
4In Antioch, under Paul’s obdurate influence, the community came to believe that Yeshua`, as the Christ – that is, as the Messiah – died to save us all from our sins. Since, according to common Jewish belief, the promised messiah was not supposed to get killed, Paul had to invent a way to explain and justify his death. He resolved the conundrum by falling back on the tales of the dying and resurrected gods of his youth. It was because of this strident belief that Greek Followers became known as Christianoi – that is, Messianists. 5His rigid and uncompromising teaching prevailed in that city; and he remained there until Keyfa was made head of the community in Antioch.
6After that, Paul left with Barnabas to spread this new teaching of the Christianoi, which gave him a new standing and purpose. They travelled first to Seleucia, then Cyprus, Pamphylia and Pisidia 7(where he was expelled from the synagogue in Antioch for teaching the Jewish people there to abandon Torah).
Scroll Four: Agrippa’s Reign, the Gaius Crisis, and Keyfa flees to Antioch
17. 1Now as I have previously related, Pontius Pilatus had been summoned to Rome, in order to answer to Tiberius for his massacre of Samaritan pilgrims. However, by the time he arrived, Tiberius had already died in the Spring. 2Pilatus had feared the Emperor Tiberius, for he had already been rebuked by him once before, for provoking the Jewish people when he set up votive shields in the Jerusalem Temple some years earlier. He had done this, not out of any devotion to the Emperor, but specifically to annoy the Jewish population of Jerusalem.
3After the death of Tiberius, Gaius Julius became Emperor. He punished Pilatus with banishment, and the man fell upon such hard times under the edicts of the new Emperor, that he eventually committed suicide; others say that his suicide was under the direct orders of the Emperor himself.
4Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great, had been imprisoned by Tiberius as one of his last acts. Then when Gaius came to power, Gaius freed him, since they had been childhood friends. On his release, Gaius ordered that he be given a gold chain equal to the weight of the chains that had bound him in prison.
5Now, in the twentieth year of Tiberius’s reign, Herod Philip died. Tiberius had therefore taken his kingdom – the regions of Trachonitis, Gaulanitis and Batanea – for Rome, adding the regions to the province of Syria. Upon becoming Emperor, Gaius gave these same regions as a gift to his friend Agrippa, and conferred upon him the title of ‘king’.
6Meanwhile Herodias, the wife of Herod Antipas, pressed her husband to ask the Emperor for more power. Unfortunately, Agrippa had poisoned the new Emperor’s mind against Antipas. Antipas was removed from power, and exiled to Spain. Gaius thereby added the Galilee and Perea to Agrippa’s kingdom, in the second year of the Emperor’s reign.
18. 1The reign of the Emperor Gaius was the most trying and dangerous time for all the Jewish people around the world. There were insults and attacks against Jews around the Roman Empire, culminating in the Great Crisis during the second year of his reign.
2Among the Jewish community of Delta ward, in the city of Alexandria in Egypt, there was a small community of Followers who followed the teaching of the Greek elders, having fled there during the persecutions under Qayafas. 3At about this time, there was a prefect of Egypt called Aulus Avilius Flaccus. The Emperor did not hold him in very high esteem, and Flaccus’s ability to govern was marred by his fear of Gaius’s will. Also at this time, the Gentile citizens of Alexandria were becoming increasingly hostile towards the Jewish population. Those who were in Alexandria lived in constant fear of the Gentile majority, and of what they might do to them.
4A year after he had been named king by the Emperor, Agrippa had come through Alexandria on his way to Judea to take up his kingship. However, the Gentiles decided to mock this event; they seized upon an idiot, dressed him up in a parody of royal robes, and mocked him as if he were the Jewish king, and they, Jews.
5Flaccus, afraid that he might endanger his own position if he did anything to stop them, decided to go along with the repulsive mood of the mob. He withdrew all the unwritten rights that Jews had enjoyed over the generations, and ordered that they leave their present homes, and retreat into the one ward of the city where they had a legal right to dwell – Delta ward.
6The weeks and months thereafter were terrible – when Jewish women were spat upon in the streets, and Jewish men were pulled aside into dark corners and beaten up. Jewish properties were looted, and synagogues were desecrated or burnt. 7As a final humiliation, thirty-eight Jewish elders were publicly whipped in the street, as part of the Emperor’s birthday celebrations. This occurred near the end of Summer, in the first year of Gaius’s reign.
8Agrippa made complaint to his friend Gaius in Rome, so the Emperor sent a centurion and a company of soldiers to Alexandria; this was at the time of the Festival of Booths in that same year. The centurion had orders to arrest Flaccus and take him to Rome, where he was executed.
9After this, the troubles in Alexandria died down, and Jewish people were gradually able to return to their original homes throughout the city.
19. 1A short while after, a strange illness overtook the Emperor Gaius. When he recovered, a madness had overwhelmed his soul, filling him with all kinds of insanities, bloodlust and sexual perversions. He began to think of himself as a god, and there was no limit to the cruelty and violence he indulged himself in. To the misfortune of Rome and the Empire, there was no legal way of removing such a man from office.
2This is in contrast to the laws of our God, for all men and women are equal before the God of Israel and all the Nations. A king of the Jews is not above the law; he is subject to God’s decrees and principles as much as any other man. An unjust king of the Jews can be rebuked, and he cannot escape such a rebuke, ’though he be a king.
3Just as Antiochus ‘Epiphanes’ had thought himself divine, and had defiled the sanctity of the Holy Temple in the time of the Maccabees two hundred years before, so also would Gaius attempt to do the same.
4Now the city of Yavneh at that time had a mixed Jewish and Gentile population – as do many cities along the coast. To celebrate Gaius’s victorious campaigns in Germania, the Gentiles of the city set up an altar in his honour, in order to worship him as a god. The Jewish people of the city felt that this was an offensive flaunting of idolatrous practices, and so they pulled down the altar – the righteous thing to do, but not the wisest, given the madness of the Emperor.
5In time, Gaius came to hear of what had happened in Yavneh. He was so enraged, that he sent orders to the new legate of Syria to march with an army upon Jerusalem, and to set up a statue of himself in the Sanctuary of God’s Temple itself. It was to be dedicated under the title of ‘Zeus Epiphanes Neos’ – for he saw himself as Zeus reborn.
6This crisis in the third year of his reign not only united every party among the Jewish people, it also moved doom-sayers to go and stand in the Temple, proclaiming our times to be the end of days. 7So distressed and troubled was our Ya`aqov by these events, that he wrote a letter to be read in all our synagogues across the whole Mediterranean. He recalled the words of the prophet Yeshua`, who warned of ‘the abomination of desolation, set up where it ought not to be’. So he exhorted all our people – Follower, Pharisee and sectary alike – to endure patiently without violence, for the testing of our faith would perfect us, and we would thereby be acquitted before God and saved.
8As this legate, Petronius, marched south towards Judea, he was met at Ptolemais on the Phoenician coast by a deputation of members of the Herod family; also by several prominent men and other Jewish elders. They said that the entire nation would rise up as one and die as one, rather than let the Temple be desecrated. They added that, with the population rising up to make this protest, the fields would be left untended, and the payment of tribute to Rome would not be met. Demonstrations against the Emperor soon spread to Tiberias, and matters soon threatened to get out of hand.
9The delegation in Ptolemais thus persuaded Petronius to write to the Emperor, suggesting they should wait until the cereal crop could be gathered, and thereby tribute afforded to Rome. But nothing could dissuade Gaius from his folly. The erection of his statue in the Temple overrode any other matter of state concern. Even more annoyed, Gaius wrote back to Petronius, commanding him that the erection of the statue in Jerusalem should take precedence over everything else.
10Only Agrippa could turn him; when he heard report of the second letter, and how near to annihilation was our nation, Agrippa fell to the ground, sick at the shock. When he recovered, he wrote a long and careful letter, explaining the political and financial consequences of this action. He concluded by saying that he was even prepared to give up his friendship with the Emperor, rather than betray his own people or the religion of his ancestors.
11The letter caused Gaius to draw back from his demands, but he nevertheless made it clear that if any of his subjects wished to set up altars to him, they should be free to do so unhindered. If these altars were then pulled down, such acts would be met with the severest retributions, and he would go ahead with his original plan to erect a statue of himself in Jerusalem.
12Thus the storm abated and, for a few months at least, there were no more such problems in Gaius’s reign. The Emperor himself was not so fortunate; his cruelty and madness had become too much even for the people of Rome to stomach. 13Shortly thereafter in winter, four years after he had become Emperor, a conspiracy of senators and military tribunes set upon him and assassinated him. He was replaced by his uncle, Claudius.
14For his part Claudius, when he assumed power, very early on examined the situation in Judea. He saw how restless and volatile the people were in the Land, and in his wisdom decided that it was not a good idea to maintain a Roman governor in charge of the province. 15He came to the conclusion that it would fare better for Rome if one of our own were set over us, one who was accustomed to looking out for the interests of Rome as well. The best person he felt who filled these two criteria was Agrippa.
16Agrippa was, in addition, a little more acceptable in the eyes of most of the people. Unlike his grandfather, Herod the Great, Agrippa was a Hasmonean through his grandmother, Mariamme – the unhappy girl Herod had taken as wife, in order to please the Jewish people over whom he ruled on Rome’s behalf.
17Agrippa therefore became the appointed King over Judea – covering a kingdom almost as great in extent as that of his grandfather’s. Upon entering Jerusalem as king, he offered sacrifices of thanksgiving to God in the Temple. 18He also paid the expenses of some Nazirites who were nearing the end of the time of their vows – something considered by most to be a virtuous act for any Jew to perform. At the Festival of First-Fruits, he even carried his basket into the Temple court, just like any ordinary Jew would.
19Although he had his faults, cruelties and sins, Agrippa seemed to be, for the most part, a man who respected the religious sentiments of the Jewish people – who were on the whole relieved to have an anointed Jewish king over them once more. Within his own lifetime he was surnamed, ‘Agrippa the Great’; most of the population cared not to pay attention to his transgressions of the Torah in gentile areas.
20Now according to Torah, it is written in the Book of the Teaching of Moses:
21“At the end of every seven years, when the year of debt-cancellation comes round, 22when all Israel has come before YHVH your God at the place that God shall choose, you shall read this teaching (that is, the Torah of Moses) aloud at the festival of Booths in the presence of all Israel.”
And it continues:
23“In this way, your descendants who did not know it will hear it, and learn to revere YHVH your God in awe, for as long as you dwell in the land you have gone over the Jordan to possess.”
24Accordingly, shortly after Agrippa was anointed King of Judea, the Sabbatical Year came round. As King, he was given the task of reading the whole book of the Teaching, according to the Traditions of the Elders.
25A wooden platform was duly constructed in the Temple court, and a throne for Agrippa was placed upon it. He stood up and came forward to receive the scrolls of the Torah from the High Priest, Simon son of Boethus. 26However, instead of sitting down to read, as he was entitled as the king to do, he remained standing out of respect for the Torah of God. This action earned him praise from the sages present.
27So Agrippa began to read from the Torah. When he came to the passage regarding the law of kingship, he read, 28“You shall set over you one whom YHVH your God shall choose as king from among your brothers; you shall in no way set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.”
29At this point, Agrippa remembered his Idumean ancestry – foreign ancestry – and began to weep. 30But the sages comforted him and they, recalling instead his Hasmonean ancestry through his grandmother Mariamme, said, “Do not be afraid, Agrippa. You are our brother – you are our brother!”
20. 1So eager was King Herod Agrippa to please the leaders and wealthy men among our people, that he took up a cruel persecution of the Emissaries themselves. Now near the beginning of the fourth year of Claudius’s reign, a party of the richest men of Jerusalem was dining one day with Agrippa shortly before the Passover. They told him of the sect who call themselves, ‘Followers of the Way of Adonai’. 2They told him that our leaders were troublesome disturbers, who advocated common ownership of property, taking wealth and business away from the honourable people of the city, and distributing it to common vagabonds. They claimed furthermore, that these men were fomenting sedition by stirring discontent among the common classes against their God-given station, and supported a wholesale overthrow of the rich.
3Now, at that time, the most outspoken of all the Emissaries was Ya`qov son of Zavdi whom, together with his brother Yo`anan, the Master had surnamed ‘the sons of Thunder’, on account of their fiery and forthright temper. Two days before the Passover Ya`qov was arrested. On the false testimony of several prominent men in the city, he was convicted and sentenced to death.
4As he was being led away to be executed, he called out, saying, “I was born a man of means, but for the sake of the Kingdom of our God, I forswore my goodly foundation and became poor, like those who daily labour for naught but a few copper prutot under the heat of the Sun. Our Master Yeshua` taught us that those whom men put last, shall be reckoned first in the Kingdom of God. For the days are coming, when the poor of the Kingdom shall be redeemed, and dwell in safety in the Land. 5But in the days to come, gold shall be accounted as ash, and then the rich shall mourn and weep for what they failed to do in the days of their leisure! This very Temple will be torn down, so that not one stone will remain standing on another, and you will finally understand that what we tell you is the truth! 6I die in the assured knowledge of our heavenly Father’s embrace, with the promise of eternal life in the glory of God’s Presence! In my death, you send me to God!”
7The jailer who was leading Ya`qov came to a halt. He was so moved by Ya`qov’s testimony, that he declared himself a Follower of the Way alongside Ya`qov, and begged his forgiveness. Turning to him, Ya`qov smiled and gave him a kiss of peace, saying, “Peace be with you”.
8However, the captain of the Temple guard was so angered by this betrayal, that he led away both the jailer and Ya`qov to be executed together. The two of them were beheaded by the sword, under the direct orders of Herod Agrippa.
9Seeing that the death of Ya`qov greatly pleased the leading wealthy men of Jerusalem, the king made enquiries over who was the leader among the Emissaries. Discovering this to be Shim`on Keyfa, he gave orders for him to be arrested and executed as well. It was during the days of Unleavened Bread.
21. 1And when Agrippa’s men had captured him, he was thrown into prison, and delivered to a squad of sixteen soldiers to watch him. Agrippa intended to bring him before the same wealthy men who had accused Ya`qov son of Zavdi, but decided to delay the trial until after the Festival of Unleavened Bread was over. 2Keyfa was therefore kept securely in prison, but daily prayer was offered on his behalf, unceasingly by the community of Followers in Jerusalem.
3On the very night when Herod planned to have him brought out for trial, Keyfa was sleeping soundly between two soldiers, bound with two chains, while two jailers kept watch in front of the door. 4Then a young man woke him up, nudging Keyfa in his side, and saying, “Get up quickly!” He hastened to undo his chains, and they fell off from his hands. 5The young man would not explain who he was, but said to him, “Get ready to go – tie your sandals up!” And this he did. Then the young man said to him, “Cover yourself and wrap your cloak around you, and when I tell you, get ready to go!” 6In accordance with the young man’s directions, he followed the young man as he led him out of the prison; Keyfa was still not fully out of his sleep, and thought all this must be a vision, and that an angel was helping him to escape unhindered.
7When they had passed the first and then the second guard, they arrived at the iron gate that leads into the city, which had been secretly left unlocked. They came out onto a certain street, and at once the young man disappeared and left him. 8And when the cold night air brought Keyfa to his senses, he finally became fully awake and said to himself, “Surely Adonai must have sent His angel to deliver me from Herod’s clutches, and save me from everything the wicked had planned for me!”
9After he had considered the matter and explained it sufficiently to himself, he came to the house of Miriam the mother of Iohannis Marcus, where many were still gathered together praying.
10As Keyfa knocked at the lower door, a young woman named Rhoda went down to see who was knocking so carefully. 11When she recognised Keyfa’s voice, out of sheer joy she forgot to open the door. Instead she ran back to the upper room, and told everyone that Keyfa was downstairs, outside the door. 12But they said to her, “Are you mad?” Yet she persisted, and assured them she was telling them the truth. So then they told her, “It must be Keyfa’s spirit!”
13But Keyfa continued knocking. Once they opened the door and saw him, they were incredulous. 14There threatened a commotion to wake those in the neighbouring houses, so Keyfa beckoned them to remain quiet. He told them that an angel had helped him escape from prison. He told them, “Go, tell these things to our Ya`aqov and the brothers – I have to leave and get away as far as possible tonight!” That very night he departed from Jerusalem and Judea. 15He found himself a smuggler bound for Antioch – a man whom he had known from the Galilee – and left with him onto the Jericho road under cover of darkness.
16Now as soon as it was daylight, there was one huge uproar among the soldiers, who were all aghast and perplexed as to what had become of Keyfa. 17When Herod sent more soldiers to look for him without success, he had the two jailers questioned. When they would not talk, he had them executed for treason.
18Shim`on Keyfa remained safely in Antioch, and stayed with the community of Followers there who followed the teaching of the Greek elders – those who had escaped persecution under Qayafas. 19In time he was appointed head of the community of Followers there. On two occasions he met Paul again, who stayed with him whenever he visited Antioch.
22. 1That same year marked the end of Agrippa’s reign. He went down to the city of Caesarea, and there he exhibited various spectacles in honour of Claudius, for he had been informed that a certain festival was being celebrated there for the imperial birthday. 2At this same festival, a great number of prominent and wealthy persons of his kingdom were gathered together, along with certain Phoenician dignitaries of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to be reconciled with the king of their differences, since their land was provided with much grain from Judea.
3On the second day of the birthday celebrations, he donned a garment made wholly of silver thread, of a truly marvellous texture, and entered the theatre early in the morning. There the silver of his garment, being illuminated by the bright reflection of the sun’s rays, shone out in a spectacular manner; it was so resplendent that it spread awe over all those who gazed upon him. 4Presently the Phoenicians cried out – ever eager to please him – that he was a god. To this impiety they added, “Be merciful to us; for although we have hitherto revered you only as a man, henceforth we shall profess you as superior to mortal nature.”
5Upon hearing this, the king neither rebuked them nor rejected their sacrilegious flattery. But shortly afterwards a severe pain arose in his stomach, striking him with a vicious intensity. He therefore looked upon his friends, and said, “The one whom you called a god, will soon depart this life, and God will prove your praise to be naught but lies”. When he had said this, his pain became even more violent.
6He was carried straightaway into the palace, and the rumour spread that he would die very soon. The citizens of Caesarea sat in sackcloth, beseeching God – men, women and children. Everywhere was full of mourning and lamentation for the king’s recovery. 7As the king languished in an upper room, he saw the crowds below lying prostrate on the ground, and he could not keep himself from weeping. When he had been quite worn out by the pain in his belly for five days, he departed this life.
8Upon his death, his seventeen-year old son – also called Agrippa – inherited his title. However, because of his young age, Claudius kept him in Rome. 9In his place, the Emperor sent Cuspius Fadus to oversee Judea as procurator, thus placing Judea under direct Roman rule once more.
10During his time as procurator, a certain Judean named Theudas caused a disturbance. He persuaded a great part of the people to take their possessions with them, and follow him to the Jordan river; for he told them he was a prophet, that he would divide the river by his own command, and that he would afford them an easy passage over it. Many were deluded by his words.
11However, Fadus did not permit them to take any advantage of this wild endeavour, but sent a troop of horsemen out against them. After falling upon them unexpectedly, they slew many of them, and took many others alive. They also took Theudas alive, cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem.
23. 1In the sixth year of Claudius’s reign, Fadus was succeeded by Tiberius Julius Alexander, born of a Jewish family but one who neglected his religion. 2During his time in office, he condemned two Zealots – Yaqov and Shimon, sons of an earlier Jewish rebel named Yudah of Galilee – to be crucified.
3At about this time, Shim`on Keyfa returned to Jerusalem, having heard that the Agrippa who sought to kill him was no longer alive. He therefore carried the messianist teaching of the Antioch community around to all who would listen in Judea.
4A short while after, some elders of the Jerusalem community visited Antioch in Syria. One of them was a prophet named Agabus. At a meeting, he stood up and began to prophesy, saying that there would be a great famine all over the Land. 5And thus it happened, made all the worse because the following year was a Sabbatical Year, when the land cannot be sown or harvested.
6To give relief therefore for all the communities in the Land, Followers abroad determined to send a contribution for the assistance of the communities living in Judea, in proportion to whatever were their means.
7One cannot speak of the terrible famine of those days, without also speaking of the compassionate generosity of Queen Helena of Adiabene. 8She had converted to the Jewish religion some eighteen or so years previously, as had her son Izates on a separate occasion in Arbela (although secretly, and unknown to his people, for fear of what they might do to him and his sons).
9On a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, discovering the great severity of the famine here, Helena sent her servants to Alexandria to purchase a great quantity of grain, and to Cyprus to procure dried figs – all to be distributed among the starving people of Judea. 10When her son Izates, who was by now King of Adiabene, heard of the famine, he too sent a large amount of money to be spent by the chief men of the city towards the relief of those who were suffering.
11The congregations of our synagogues in Damascus, Syrian Antioch, Phoenicia, Alexandria, Cyprus, Cyrene, and even from around Greece and Rome – all sent according to their means for the relief of all those suffering want in Judea.
12Towards the end of the famine, a new procurator came to power, Publius Ventidius Cumanus. He would prove a bane to the people of Judea, worse than any famine.
Scroll Five: The Dispute in Antioch, and the Convention of Jerusalem
24. 1About that time, Paul of Tarsus returned to settle in Antioch of Syria, to dwell amongst his ‘Believers’, as they call themselves, but are called Christianoi by others. 2There he preached his own message which he had woven together, stubbornly refusing to admit any truth from Jewish Followers who had seen and heard Yeshua` speak, claiming that what he had learned in his visions alone was all he needed to make him ‘an apostle of Christ’. 3He therefore gained many Believers for himself amongst the Gentiles. Now, these Believers, in accordance with the teaching of Paul given to them, did not in any way follow the Jewish religion – neither in custom nor belief.
4Time passed, and Keyfa also returned to Antioch. He found that Jews, converts and Godfearers – all who followed the Way – sat regularly in table fellowship with Paul’s Gentile Believers. Being invited to spend time with them, he did so as well, and ate regularly with them.
5Then certain individuals came down from Jerusalem, and criticised this fellowship, saying that Followers had no way of knowing the nature of the food they were eating, and that it could contain blood, or that some of the meat could be from strangled animals, or even be the flesh of animals that had been offered to pagan idols.
6So at that point, Keyfa and all the other Followers withdrew from table fellowship. This upset the Believers greatly, and when Paul came to hear of it, he was enraged. 7For instead of being a good Jew, and diffusing the situation by carefully explaining the laws of kashrut to his Gentile Believers, he deviously seized the opportunity to raise his own standing in the eyes of his Believers; 8for they had not understood Jewish sensitivity over food, and thought instead that Followers were making a base distinction between Jews and Gentiles – and Paul took deliberate advantage of their misunderstanding. 9He furiously castigated Keyfa and the others, and challenged their change of heart, opposing them angrily to their face.
10As a result of this, he went up again to Jerusalem, feigning another revelation, this time accompanied by two of his Believers – a convert to the Jewish faith named Yosef son of Tolmai, nicknamed ‘Barnabas’, and a Godfearer named Titus. 11He attended a private meeting with Ya`aqov and the acknowledged leaders of the community – Shim`on Keyfa, who was once more head over those in Jerusalem and Judea who followed the teaching of the Emissaries, and Yo`anan son of Zavdi, who was head over all the communities in the Galilee(Filip the Orator, who was head over the Greek-speaking families, was not with them). 12He laid before them the teaching that he had taken to proclaiming among the Gentiles. And after listening carefully to his words, the elders considered this the question before them: What did Paul’s Believers have to do, so that Jewish Followers and Godfearers among us could sit in table fellowship with them?
13Now this same Paul also revealed that he was teaching how his Believers did not need to be circumcised to be part of the Covenant between God and Israel. 14Our Ya`aqov, being somewhat perplexed by this statement, asked him to clarify his teaching; and so he enquired of him if these Greeks wished to remain Gentiles, to simply live a righteous way of life – in which case, they most certainly did not need to be circumcised; 15or if they wished to follow Torah as Godfearers and remain uncircumcised, to revere and serve our God among the nations; or if they wished to go further and enter the Covenant of the Land and People, and thereby be admitted into the nation of Israel through the rite of circumcision. 16Paul replied that his Greek Believers wished to share in the blessings promised to Avraham, Yitzchaq and Ya`aqov, but should not in any way have to follow the Torah of Moses or be circumcised. 17And he said many other things besides this, which by their very nature, showed that he did not understand what the Covenant was for, or what circumcision signified; that his teaching fell with the lot of other nations, and not with the traditions of Israel.
18At this, Ya`aqov explained with great patience and kindness that many blessings had already been promised by God to all the nations, for indeed the God of Avraham was truly the Sovereign Father of all nations.
19The question then arose over what moral code Paul’s Believers would have to adhere to in order to be considered righteous before God. Paul said that his Believers were ‘justified’ by their faith in his ‘Christ’ alone, and did not need to follow the ethical demands of Torah to be ‘justified’ before God.
20Whereupon Ya`aqov said that, if they wished to follow the path of moral righteousness taught by Yeshua` and all the Hebrew prophets, then the God of Israel would bless them; there was no need to cleave to the Covenant and be a part of the nation of Israel for that. 21But if they wished to share in the particular blessings promised specifically to the House of Israel, and share in the promised fruits of the Covenant between God and Israel, 22then like any Godfearer, to become part of the Assembly of Israel they would eventually have to follow every just commandment of Torah; 23if they wished to go further and be considered as if they were native-born Israelites, then their men would also be obliged to be circumcised, and thereby gain for themselves and their descendants an inheritance in the Land, and commit themselves to the people of Israel.
24This displeased Paul greatly, and he grew enraged and hot with anger. Ya`aqov, for his part, could not understand the reason for his anger, and feared that he would seize him once more and strike him with blows, 25but Keyfa came and stood in-between Paul and our Ya`aqov, that he might defend him. But the threat came to nothing.
26At that point Ya`aqov, along with Keyfa and Yo`anan son of Zavdi, having consulted the other elders, decided that Paul should be satisfied to take his message to the Gentiles alone, to encourage them towards righteousness, and to remember the poor. 27In order that Jewish Followers and Godfearers among us could share table fellowship with Paul’s Gentile Believers, Ya`aqov therefore proposed to write a letter to Paul’s Believers, which would say,
28“Abstain only from meat offered to idols, from food contaminated by blood, and from the meat of strangled animals; and keep yourselves from any sexual immorality. 29In this way you will do well, and find blessing and favour from God. We are also sending Judas and Silas to confirm by speech what we have written.”
30If Paul’s Believers did this, advised Ya`aqov, then Jewish Followers and the Godfearers among us could sit in table fellowship with Gentile Believers once more, without any further foreseeable incident.
Scroll Six: The Break with Paul of Tarsus and his Christian Religion
25. 1While Ya`aqov was speaking thus, Paul suddenly began to assail him with blasphemies and curses, that he should cause division and dispute, and excite all so that he could not be refuted. 2He also aimed his curses at Keyfa, who was taken aback on account of his insults, in order to overcome him. 3Paul stood firm, and in spite of the polity of speech in which he had been addressed by the pillars of the community, especially by our Ya`aqov, he reviled them all the more.
26. 1Then the elders of the community entered the room to see what was happening, and what might be the cause of such heated shouting. In frustration and indignation they cast Paul from the meeting, driving him forth from the gate of the house; and only two people, Barnabas and Titus, followed him when he was driven out. 2Then silence being obtained, Ya`aqov began to address the brothers in this manner:
3“You ought, brothers, to bear patiently with men of this ilk; knowing that although God could cut them off, God yet allows them to remain even until the appointed time, at which point judgment shall pass upon all. 4Why then should we not bear with those whom God suffers? Why should we not bear with fortitude the wrongs that they do to us, when the One who is Almighty does not take vengeance on them, so that both God’s own goodness and the impiety of the wicked might be known? 5Because if Paul had not been found to do these things, doubtless another would have been found in his place; for it is of necessity that in this life offences come, ‘but woe to that man by whom they come’; 6and therefore Paul is rather to be mourned over and pitied, because he has become tempted to side with his evil inclination, which undoubtedly would not have happened had he not been corrupted by his former sins and offences.
7“In generations to come, when the leaders among his Believers have become sated with their own power, they will bring to Followers – indeed, to the whole House of Israel – enormous, untold suffering, because their religion will bear the fruit of the same flaws and offences which proceed from their founder – an angry man from Tarsus, who needs to have everything his own way. 8But our Followers shall never bring suffering upon his Believers; we will be gracious to them, because our Founder is the Holy One, the God of Israel; for we shall ever strive to bear the fruit of our One True Founder, who is merciful, just and wise.”
Scroll Seven: Main Criticisms of Paul’s Teaching
27. 1From that day to this, Paul and his Believers began to cause agitation and distress amongst the synagogues of the Roman Empire, breaking his sworn promise to go only to minister to Gentiles; 2first in Syria, then in Asia, and then in Greece and Rome. He madepretence of being a native-born Jew, even of formerly being a Pharisee, thinking that our people would thus be more inclined to listen to him, 3when in truth he was a Gentile convert, a Cilician born in Tarsus. He was a Roman citizen, the son of a freed slave; and as an adult he had occupied himself, not as a teacher of Torah among the Pharisees, but as a captain in the High Priest’s Temple police.
4And now he spoke things concerning Yeshua` which were not unlike the claims that foreign mystics make of their pagan gods; 5he lied to his own Believers, falsely claiming that Ya`aqov had told him that without circumcision, his Believers could not be ‘saved’ (for even they themselves did not know that circumcision was a sign of the Covenant with Avraham, marking God’s promise of possessing the Land, and not of salvation); 6he even told them that he had been reconciled to the community in Jerusalem, when in true fact, he had been expelled from it. And his greatest deception was that he claimed to be an emissary of the Master, when in true fact he never once delivered any of the Master’s words.
7Because of this he became known to us as ‘the Deceiver’, for he hid his deceit amongst pleasing and tender words. 8And whenever he was expelled from synagogues for teaching pagan doctrines and for misrepresenting the faith of Israel, he reviled all Jews as unbelievers before his Gentile faithful who, being innocent and knowing nothing of the traditions and laws of Israel, were not able to discern that he was lying to them. 9Even though we Jews rejected only his pagan teachings, Paul proclaimed that we were in fact rejecting the true religion of Israel. He called sweet bitter, and bitter sweet. 10When did our God tell us to drink blood? Or where did God command us to eat human flesh? No mortal man or heavenly being can find such commandments, nor point out the words!
11For his Gentile Believers he wanted all of the blessings and benefits of the Covenant, but none of its duties or obligations; he claimed the blessings of the eldest son for the youngest. Wherefore he taught that the Covenant between God and Israel had been superseded by a new covenant, and that the promises once given to the children of Ya`aqov would now be inherited by Gentiles. 12In this he ignored the teaching of Moses, who spoke with God face to face, and that God’s Message was that the Covenant with Israel is forever, and what God says, God does; for it is written:
13“God is not a man, that He should be fickle, nor a human being, that He should change His mind. If God promises, will God not do it? If God has spoken, will God not fulfil it?”
14Because he had ill-learned the laws, precepts and traditions of Israel, he melded the ways of his Gentile ancestors, together with the strange beliefs of the sectaries he had heard and listened to during his tenure as a Temple guard. 15He loved and heaped praise on those who were for him, but despised those who disagreed with him.
28. 1Now, from the early days it had been decided that Shim`on son of Yonah, called Keyfa (‘Rock’) by the Master, should lead those Followers in Jerusalem – and indeed throughout Judea – who followed the teaching of the Emissaries. 2But then it came to pass, that Keyfa came under the influence of the Deceiver, (for they had become friends of sorts over the years; Paul had even confronted Keyfa on several occasions, and Keyfa could not stand against him). 3The elders in Jerusalem became concerned; more and more each day they feared for the faithfulness of his teaching, for he taught the pagan deceptions of Paul, in the place of the true words of the Master.
4So one day Keyfa (who had been in Joppa), was summoned to Jerusalem to speak with Ya`aqov alone, so that they could arrive at some form of peaceful, brotherly agreement. 5And Ya`aqov said to him, “I have heard reports of your preaching, and that you have changed the message given to you by Yeshua` my brother – the words which he himself received from God in prophecy to deliver to the whole House of Israel. 6For many months, I had hoped these reports were simple falsehoods, for I knew you to be a humble emissary of the Message.
7In recent days, however, I have received the scrolls of your preaching, which you sent me after my request, for I feared that you now follow the teachings of Paul of Tarsus. 8He has not received any commission from myself or the Council of Elders, nor does he carry any scrolls of the Preaching. He is not even one who knew my brother, your Master of blessed memory, nor met him in the flesh. 9I have therefore asked you to come here, so that you, my brother, might have a chance to explain your past deeds and words privately, 10so that justice might be offered to you, and that there might be equanimity and brotherhood between us.”
Scroll Eight: The Demotion of Keyfa after he sides with Paul, and his Self-Exile to Rome
29. 1So Keyfa answered him, saying, “I know, my brother, your eager desire for justice and brotherhood – but I beg of you, please don’t tell anyone about the books of my preaching that I sent you – and don’t make any of my words public before you’ve had a chance to take a look at them yourself. 2Well, I say that – if you think any of my letters worth it, then let the elders know about them, just like the seventy elders who came after Moses. 3I mean, I completely understand how careful you’ve got to be, especially since there are people who don’t know our customs, and when they read the books of the Prophets, they say the first thing that comes into their heads! 4You can’t allow people like them to teach – like you always tell us, ‘Not until he has first learned how to use the Scriptures honestly and responsibly’.”
30. 1“Anyway, so you can test my teaching just like anyone else’s, maybe you can see your way into giving my preaching to the brothers – just so they can take a look for themselves, and see if there’s anything in there that’s not quite right!
2“Now I’m telling you this, not as if I’m any kind of prophet or anything like that, you understand, but I can already see a few dubious things going on around these parts. 3Besides, I think I know who’s been spreading these rumours about me! Yes, I’ll admit there are some Gentiles who haven’t quite got me when I taught them about the finer points of Torah; they do tend to fall in behind that ‘fellow’ when he rails against the Law – you know the one I mean – the one who tried to kill you by throwing you down the tunnel steps in the Temple all that while back?
4“But you know what really gets me? Some of them have the audacity to change what I’ve said, and then not only do they put these words about as if they’re mine, but they do it to my face! Just to make it look like I’ve abandoned the ways of our ancestors! 5Surely you can’t think that that’s the kind of thing I would say? I can assure you I haven’t been teaching anything of the sort, God forbid! 6Such a thing would fly right in the face of all the traditions of our ancestors, and go against everything we were taught in the Torah of Moses. Well, didn’t even the Master tell us the very same thing himself? 7What was it he said? “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one yodh or tittle of the Torah to become void.” Don’t I have a good memory?
8“But anyway, these lying, conniving cheats think they know what I’m thinking, and claim that they can explain my thoughts better than I can myself! They quote my words and say that this or that is what I mean – when I never thought anything of the sort! 9I tell you brother, if that’s how they explain my words while I’m still alive, just think how people are going to explain my words once I’m no longer around!”
10Then, after much protestation of innocence, Keyfa concluded and said to Ya`aqov, “So anyway, just so we’re clear on what I’m teaching people about, I’ll say plainly and simply, exactly what I’m telling people – that the Master was indeed the messiah – there you go! 11Oh, and also ‘that he suffered for our sins, and bore our wrongdoings’ – at least, that’s how Paul says it. And that ‘he died to save us from our sins, so that we might have eternal life’. That was what he said, wasn’t it?”
31. 1And Ya`aqov, being a man whom God had blessed with wisdom, discerned the confusion and want behind Keyfa’s words, and having compassion on him became sorrowful for him. 2Therefore Ya`aqov, after having read the letters many times, sent for the elders; and having read these letters to them, said:
3“Our Keyfa has sent to me the books of his preaching, which I have read. As you can see, although he himself is a decent and honest man, from his writings it is self-evident that his teaching is no longer in accordance with the Torah and the Prophets. 4Even though Yeshua` himself called him to be an emissary of his teaching, he has not remained faithful to his commission. 5His teaching has erred, and is no longer worthy of our blessing – nor of the authority my brother gave him to preach. 6For Yeshua` founded his teaching on the kingdom of God, sending us out to the lost sheep of Israel; by returning to God’s ways of justice, mercy and compassion – and to the proper godly concern for the poor and destitute – our people might be saved from the tribulation to come – so that the eternal Way given to our ancestors at Sinai may be preserved, and God’s promises be fulfilled; 7but although he does not dispose of Torah like Paul does, he nevertheless claims that the sole point of my brother’s preaching, was that he was the messiah – which he assuredly denied, ’though many of his enemies proclaimed it – and that the only object of his life was his death; and that our Saviour is not the Holy One, but rather my own brother!
8“Therefore let him be put under a probation of not less than six years. And then at the end of that time, we shall send someone who bears a copy of the scrolls of the Preaching. 9That one shall take him to a river or a spring, which is living water, where the regeneration of the righteous takes place, and immerse himself. 10Then he should be made, not to swear – for that is not lawful – but to stand by the water and adjure, that he has abandoned this new teaching, and has returned to the old paths.
32. 1“And then let him say this: ‘I declare this now before all present, that I shall always be obedient to him who gives me the scrolls of the Preaching, and to the one who sent him; 2and those same scrolls which he may give me, I shall not corrupt any word in them in any way, either by writing them falsely, or by speaking their content falsely, 3nor through any other form, or trick, or method, communicate them in any manner which presents the message of the Way of the Holy One falsely, against the teaching of Moses and all the Prophets; 4and I shall not accept the teaching of any man, unless I shall ascertain such a man to be worthy, just as I myself have been judged after a probation of not less than six years; 5but one who is religious and good, chosen to teach, I shall receive him, doing these things according to the will of Ya`aqov and the Council of Elders.”
33. 1“‘But if that teacher, even though he be my son or my brother, or my friend, or otherwise in any way is connected to me by kindred, if he is unworthy – a teacher not approved by the Council of Elders – then I will not entertain him; 2and I shall neither be terrified by his scheming, nor mollified by his gifts. 3But if it should ever seem to me that the scrolls of the Preaching given to me are not genuine, I shall not communicate any of their content, but shall give them back. 4And when I go abroad, I shall not carry any of these false writings with me, whatever of them I happen to possess. 5I shall not suffer them to be in my house, but shall deposit them with Ya`aqov and the Council.’”
6“And after this, let him partake of bread and salt with him who delivered the scrolls of the Preaching to him.”
34. 1Ya`aqov having thus spoken, the elders were disturbed that he was asking to require teachers of the Message to be approved first by him and the Council of Elders. 2Therefore Ya`aqov, perceiving that they were unhappy, said:
3‘Hear me, my dearest brothers and fellow servants. If we should give the scrolls of the Preaching to all indiscriminately, and they should be corrupted by any daring man or woman, or be perverted by false interpretations, as you have heard that some have already done, 4it will be the lot even of those who really seek the truth, ever more to wander in the shadow of darkness. 5Therefore, it is better that it should be so with us, and that we should communicate the Preaching with all due care only through those who wish to live piously, and to save others. 6But if any one, after taking this adjuration, shall act otherwise, he shall with good reason be called to account, and if he does not repent, our authority, approval and blessing shall be withdrawn. 7For why should he who is the cause of the destruction of others, not be called to account himself?”
8The elders therefore, being satisfied with the reasoning of Ya`aqov, exclaimed, “Blessed be the Holy One who, as One who foresees all things, has graciously appointed you as our Nasi!” 9To which Ya`aqov at once replied, “Rather, blessed be the Holy One who, as Sovereign Master of us all, has graciously appointed me as God’s servant!” 10Then they all rose up, and lifting their hands to heaven, prayed to the Father and God of Israel and of all the Nations, to whom be glory forever.
35. 1When this judgement of our Ya`aqov and the Council of Elders reached the hands of Keyfa – that his authority to teach had been withdrawn – he was greatly displeased and angered. 2He did not wish to wait for six years in the land of his ancestors, each day being reminded of the words, deeds and abodes of the Prophets, even of Yeshua` his Master, and yet not be allowed to speak himself. 3So he took himself off to Antioch, where he tarried a while with the Christianoi, before setting off for Rome, to that fateful city, where he was reconciled to Paul. 4Thereafter the two became as one voice, and spoke with one mind. 5Because of this, the Council of Elders, under the guidance of our Ya`aqov, passed judgement that Keyfa would henceforth be denied to speak under their authority. 6From that day until his death, his eyes were not granted the blessing of seeing the land of his birth ever again.
Scroll Nine: Ya`aqov’s warnings against those who change authorised writings
36. 1In time, it came to pass that those who were opposed to us, yet wanted secretly and deceitfully to pass our writings as their own, decided to take our books and change their words to accord more completely with their opinions.
2So Ya`aqov wrote to the various communities who were vulnerable and in most danger, saying:
3“From Ya`aqov, a willing and humble servant of God; may mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.
4My beloved brothers and sisters, in the letters I have written to you from my dwelling place – here in the city of my prayers – I have previously exhorted you all to live your lives in accordance with the way that was God’s original design, 5according to the terms of the Covenant that was cut between our ancestors and our One, True Sovereign Father. 6If we walk in God’s ways, and follow the path of holiness God has ordained for us, we shall be strengthened and encouraged, 7and God will give us the power and endurance to survive the days which are surely coming.
8This time however, I write to you about certain men that have come among you, who have called your good way evil, declared your righteous path to be in error, and your enlightened faith to have proceeded from darkness. 9These are the same men who raucously proclaim that they know Yeshua` better than I who called him brother; 10these are the same men who say that they know the very words of God’s prophet better than those who called him Master, walked with him while he lived, and heard him speak.
37. 1“They have furthered their dishonesty among you by taking the words of my letters, and the letters of the Emissaries, and they have changed them to make it seem as though we ourselves are in accord with their own teachings. 2I beseech you therefore, not to heed any teacher that comes to you, unless they carry a scroll of the Preaching. 3Observe the greatest caution, that you believe no teacher unless he also brings from Jerusalem a testimonial from me, or from whomsoever may come after me. 4For no one is by any means to be received, unless he has come up to Jerusalem, and has been approved as a fit and faithful teacher.
38. 1“If they proclaim another saviour to you, or another deliverer, 2do not forget with what mighty signs and awesome wonders the Holy One our God delivered our ancestors from Egypt; how God saved them from the wrath of the Egyptians, 3protected them from wicked armies, shielded them from the curses of pagan sorcerers, and brought them to the land promised to Ya`aqov and his descendants forever. 4This is the one same Sovereign and Father who is able to save us in these days, and deliver us from our present woes and sufferings, if we can only keep faith with God, and God alone.
5Therefore, I entreat you to remain informed in your faith, and in the ways of our ancestors, and remember the salvation that Adonai brought to them. 6Remember too the promises of salvation as yet to be fulfilled, which our God has not forgotten. If we endure and trust in Adonai alone, we will see the fruits of God’s Message to us.
39. 1“Do not pay any heed therefore to these people who come among you, for they slander those who aspire to the righteousness of God’s commandments and principles, and condemn those who love the Torah of Adonai. 2These people abuse whatever they do not understand, and what little they do understand will turn out to be fatal for them.
3For they are waterless clouds carried along by the winds; they are wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own dishonour. 4They are grumblers and malcontents; they indulge their own beliefs, borne out of the worship of false gods; 5they are pretentious and belligerent in speech, only flattering people if it is to their own advantage.
40. 1“We were forewarned there would be false teachers amongst us, who will secretly bring in destructive opinions. And because of these teachers the Way of Truth will be maligned. And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words.
2So therefore have pity on those among you who waver, for these teachers love to entice unsteady souls. 3They speak to them things that are self-evidently false, but they confuse and confound the unsteady, so that they cannot see any escape apart from the acceptance of their words. 4These teachers promise freedom to those who waver, but they themselves are slaves to confusion; for people are slaves to whatever masters them. 5They ensure that their followers are swept into such a state of turmoil, that they cannot understand the world unless they remain in their clutches; 6innocently they sought these men for understanding, and find that their last state has become worse for them than the first.
41. 1“Beloved brothers and sisters, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray with fervour to the Most High God, who is like no other, and cannot be compared to the pagan gods; 2keep yourselves in the love and awe of our living God; look forward to the tender mercy of our God, who keeps us alive through the many gifts God gives us.
3Remain therefore close to the only One who is able to save you – Adonai, the living God of truth. Keep faith with God’s ways, which alone can keep you from falling. 4And to the One who is able to keep you from falling, and make you stand without blemish in the presence of God’s Glory with rejoicing, 5to the only God, our Father and only true Saviour, be glory, majesty and power, since before all time, and now and forever. Amein.”
Scroll Ten: Political Troubles in the Land
42. 1Now one year, around the time of the Passover sacrifice, Galilean pilgrims were travelling through the Samaritan village of Ginea on their way to Jerusalem, when they were seized upon by some hotheads among the population there and were killed. 2When news of this arrived in Jerusalem, there threatened a disturbance. So some of the leaders of the pilgrims petitioned Ventidius Cumanus, the Roman procurator of the time. 3But he was induced by the Samaritans with money to do nothing in the matter. 4The Galileans were greatly displeased with this, and began to persuade the multitude of our people to take up arms.
5And there were certain elements in the crowd, those who follow the Way of the Dead. 6One of these was Eli`ezer son of Dineus. He led his followers to a Samaritan village in the district of Acrabata, and slaughtered everyone there in sight. 7As a result, Cumanus dealt with the Zealots, killing many and taking more prisoner.
43. 1So certain elders and eminently wealthy persons among the people in Jerusalem, seeing what terrifying heights things had reached, thought to go as one group to Ya`aqov and said:
2“We entreat you, restrain the people: For they have gone astray in their fury, discussing war, and threatening a conflagration which could engulf us all. 3We entreat you therefore to persuade all who have come here for the day of the Passover sacrifice. For we all listen to your persuasion; we, as well as all the people, bear you witness that you are just, and show partiality to no one. 4Therefore, persuade the people not to entertain erroneous and dangerous opinions.”
44. 1But he said to them, “My friends, there is something that you must do first. Tell me this: Why do you come to me? 2Is it because you fear for the common people, that the sons and daughters of Israel will suffer torture and misery? Is it because you fear being taken away from this holy city, the place of the House of our God? 3Or is it rather because you fear the loss of your wealth and influence? Is it that you fear losing your comforts and your easy living?
4“If you rich do not change your ways, and cease praying noble things for selfish reasons, then do not expect your selfish appeals to be answered. 5But if you change heart, then you will see, God’s mercy will triumph over judgment, and you will be saved.”
6At this there was disquiet among these eminent citizens, so they said to him, “Then tell us Ya`aqov, what must we do?”
7So Ya`aqov answered them, saying, “Put away your fine clothes, your precious jewels and your rings. Then fast against the trials to come, and show your repentance by your works. 8Give alms to the poor, and to those who have been widowed and orphaned in these disturbances. 9Then truly your prayers will rise like a sweet savour, a pleasing offering to our God. 10Then go before the people and appeal to them; only then will they understand that man’s anger does not serve God’s righteous purpose.”
45. 1Whereupon those eminent and wealthy citizens put on sackcloth, and heaped ashes upon their heads. 2Then by all possible means they besought the seditious, and persuaded them that they would set before their own eyes the utter subversion of their country, 3and the conflagration of their Temple, as well as the slavery of themselves, their wives, and children – the only consequences of what they were doing. 4And they beseeched them to change their minds, to cast away their weapons, and for the sake of the future be quiet, and return to their own homes.
46. 1After this matter calmed somewhat, the Samaritans, still seeking a vengeful justice, appealed to the governor of Syria, Ummidius Quadratus. 2In Caesarea, Quadratus had Cumanus’ Jewish prisoners beheaded, and sent him together with a delegation of Samaritans and Jews to Rome, where the Roman Emperor Claudius heard the case. 3He banished Cumanus for letting the situation get out of hand, and executed three of the Samaritans, who were innocent of any crime.
Scroll Eleven: The Prayer of Ya`aqov the Pious on behalf of the people
47. 1Each and every day, in response to the troubles that stood ready at our gates to devour us, it was the habit of our Ya`aqov to spend many hours before God in the Temple, in fervent and humble prayer on behalf of the people; 2for the prayers of the pious are powerful enough to make expiation for the sins of the many. And this is how he would pray:
3“With the utterances of my lips
I plead for Your people.
Though a man of little account,
I ask You to hear my prayer.
4Gladly I kneel before You,
And lift up my hands to Your Name.
5Do not permit the way of the
wicked to prosper;
Do not allow the workers of
treachery to triumph.
6You are a spring that never fails,
A river that never dries up.
7Never have You turned Your back on my voice;
Nor have You wearied of my pleading.
8Let my prayers make up for the sacrifices defiled;
And my works for the insincere prayers of the hypocrites.
9I plead for them on their behalf;
Therefore turn Your righteous anger away from them.
10Render just verdicts in Your courts,
And do not let the innocent suffer.
11For the sake of the righteous,
Let the Land not be consumed
because of the wicked.
48. 1O YHVH of the battalions of Heaven,
Eternal Judge, forever just,
2I have seen how You lift the needy from the dust,
And raise the poor from the depths.
3I have witnessed Your great
tenderness for the lowly,
I have seen Your abiding love for the meek.
4For their sake, hold back Your retribution against the wicked,
And forgive the sins of Your people.
5For the wicked are few, but the innocent are legion;
For the sake of the innocent
therefore, stay Your hand.
6Let the Judge of the whole earth deal justly.
7Though I am but dust and ashes,
hear my prayer;
Though no more than the soil of the earth,
attend to my plea.
8Demonstrate to the people Your great mercy;
Make them see that You are a righteous God.
9If now their thoughts are far from You,
Display Your tender care towards all.
10If the hearts of the people are found wanting,
Let Your love for them be made manifest.
11Let not the fields of this land become a desolate wilderness,
For then who would there be left to remember You?
12Let not the heights of the Land be laid waste,
For then, who would ascend them
to give thanks from on high.
49. 1If the people are spared,
Will they not praise Your Name forever?
If You save them,
Will they not remember Your mighty deeds?
2Do not scatter Your children from this place;
Let them not be driven to a place of mourning.
3Let not Jerusalem weep
Because her children are carried into exile;
Let not her walls cry out, because the fruits of her womb are no more.
4Though our iniquities testify against us,
Act with mercy,
for the sake of Your great Name.
Though our rebellion is great,
Deliver us from the wrath of foreign peoples.
5Do not reject us, O YHVH;
Do not shun us, O God.
We have strayed,
We have committed wrongs,
We have rebelled wickedly.
Our transgressions we acknowledge;
Therefore forgive us,
And do not let the glory of Your Name be defamed.
6Pity the weakness of the people,
And have compassion upon the suffering of Your children.
7For the Nations impose their wickedness upon us;
Foreign peoples goad us to war.
8Therefore, give Your people courage to turn away from them;
Let them not be tempted to violence.
9For we know You will not tolerate the cruelty of Rome forever;
We recognise You will act eventually against them.
10For the time of Your harvest is near;
The day for reaping approaches.
11Therefore clear away the briars that choke us,
But gather Your ripe grain into barns.
50. 1If needs must, then let only our wealth and treasure be carried away;
For the poor cannot eat silver or gold.
2Only let the fatness of the Land remain;
Let the nations not take bread from the poor.
3As for myself, this alone I pray:
4Make me a humble instrument of Your righteous purpose;
Use my heart and my mouth to speak of Your love.
5For the sake of Your people,
The children of Ya`aqov Your suffering servant,
6Let me never depart from the place of Your mercy;
Until the day I die, let my dwelling place be the courts of Your House.”
51. 1After his return to Jerusalem from Jericho, which he had visited with the brothers to recover after Paul attacked him, 2Ya`aqov never left the city. 3But each day he presented his case for the people before God. And for as long as he was alive, God listened carefully to his words, and forgave the people their transgressions. 4God had compassion upon the people, and called Ya`aqov God’s friend.
Scroll Twelve: Ya`aqov’s Preaching to Clement
52. 1One day, near to the time of the Festival of Lights, it came to pass that our Ya`aqov was leaving the Temple in the evening, having spent the whole day in prayer. 2And there was a young man who had come to Jerusalem to seek out Ya`aqov, so he took hold of Ya`aqov’s mantle. 3At this, Ya`aqov turned around to see who it was who had done this. The young man bowed to him and said, “Please, do not be afraid.”
4So Ya`aqov said to him, “The peace of our God be with you!”
5And the young man, all the while maintaining hold of his mantle, and keeping his head bowed low, answered, 6“All the people in this city say that you are a holy and a wise man, and that everyone attends on your words.”
7But Ya`aqov said to him, “If you were to show as much awe and reverence for God as you now show for the least of God’s servants, believe me, the kingdom of God would be fulfilled tomorrow!”
8So Ya`aqov invited him to his house so that they could talk freely beyond the ears of Roman spies, and the brothers prepared a meal for them. 9And Ya`aqov asked the young man, whose name was Clement, “Tell me, what troubles weigh so heavily on your soul?”
10So Clement answered and said, “I have lived in Rome for most of my life. In Rome, that harlot of nations and city of harlots, the rich practice fornication liberally, living a life of debauchery and deceit. 11That city is a city of living death, where human beings are less than chattel, and where a man is taught to love violence and death; he is pulled in every direction except the one which he needs for his soul to live. 12Rome, whose law determines that four hundred innocent slaves can be put to death for the actions of one guilty slave, runs her affairs like a slaughterer runs his slaughterhouse; for the foundation stone of the city is Death herself, disgorging her vanities upon the peoples of the earth.
13“A citizen there merely exists each week so that he can serve the needs of the next, and the poor struggle through one day so that they can repeat their struggle the next; 14they live in despair under wicked landlords, packed like donkeys into small rooms, piled high in fragile, rotten tenements. 15Each day in that city I sought answers to life, but I found only despair. So I turned to the stars, and sought out astrologers, 16that I might thereby find assurances in what is to come. But then I found no certainty in the nature of the things I was told.”
53. 1So Ya`aqov said to Clement, “I shall tell you the exact nature of astrology. If you were to go to one astrologer, and tell him that such and such a misfortune befell you at a certain time, and that you wish to learn what stars would have caused such a fate to befall you, 2he will no doubt answer you that such and such a malignant star was ruling your days, or that a certain star was in conjunction with another, and that this is what brought about the misfortune.
3“After that, if you were to go to another astrologer, but this time telling him the opposite – 4that such and such good fortune has blessed you, and all the while taking care to say that it happened at the exact same time and date that you told the other the misfortune befell you, 5you will see what figures he will invent for you, to prove what alignments came into being, that brought about your good fortune. 6For astrologers adapt whatever they have, and make it fit the circumstance.
7“The discrepancy does not proceed from the unskilfulness of either astrologer, but rather from the inborn errancy of the entire system itself. 8For the stars have no power over the freedom of our wills. They cannot foretell a birth or a death, nor the rise of a king or the fall of a kingdom. And they certainly cannot give counsel on the course of one’s life.”
54. 1At the same time as Clement admired Ya`aqov, his face was downcast. 2He said to him, “I am not as fortunate as others who are learned, nor eloquent in speech, nor practised in the ways of religion; 3for these skills escape me, and I am utterly envious of those who see what I cannot.”
4So Ya`aqov took pity on him and said, “Be content with the path that is set before you – the abilities that have come to you from God. 5For is a drop of water envious of the sky it comes from, or a grain of sand jealous of the mountain on which it rests? Is a thistle ever mindful of the tree it could have been, or does a shower regret the storm it never was? 6So then, if these tiny things which God has created in God’s infinite wisdom, are content with their station, and do not covet things mightier and greater, 7why should we – who are made a little lower only than the angels – be anxious over things that will never be? Therefore, do not fret over those greater than ourselves, nor covet their skills or their lot. 8Everything and everyone has their honoured place at God’s table; no one is forgotten or left short by our Father in heaven.”
55. 1So Clement, having listened to all this, was greatly heartened and said, “I have confidence that my journey here has not been wasted, for I have travelled a great distance for many months to obtain answers from you.”
2But Ya`aqov counselled him, saying, “Do not trust the man or woman who claims that they know all things; for there is only One who knows all things – the One who also made all things. 3For if one such as the Master declared that he knew not the day or hour whose signs he foretold, nor even the angels in heaven, instead reserving such knowledge to our heavenly Father alone, 4no one on earth should then account it a disgrace to be ignorant of some things, for even our Master had the courage to say, ‘I don’t know’.
5“Therefore, from what little I know, I will answer what the Holy One has deemed fit to give me, and place in this unworthy vessel. For I am what I am only because of Adonai.”
56. 1Then Ya`aqov said, “If we wish to have confidence in the things which are to come, we must first learn to have confidence in the only One who knows what is to come.”
2At this, Clement said to him, “How then might I proceed to friendship of the Creator?”
3And Ya`aqov said, “If we wish to proceed to friendship of the Creator, we must learn the process by which God continues to work in God’s creation. 4For God’s friendship is secured by living well, and obeying God’s will, since God’s will is the law of all that live.
5“Therefore, seek God’s will with all your heart and mind, with all your soul and with all your might; and do it with mercy, justice and humility. 6And draw near to those who love God, that your soul might be uplifted by their example; for the Glory of God is reflected in those who love God and seek in earnest to do God’s will.”
57. 1Then Ya`aqov continued this matter and said, “In order to understand the Creator’s righteous purpose, I need to recount to you the story of God’s creation.
2“In the beginning, when God had made the heaven and the earth, God divided the fabric of the universe into two parts, although it was still but one substance. 3The reason of the division was this: that the upper portion might afford a dwelling-place for the angels as a dominion of light, and the lower portion to human beings; 4and God fixed the firmament between them. Then God set the sun, the moon and the stars in their places, and everything else that travels across the heavens.
5“God determined their boundaries, and arranged God’s works in an eternal order, and their dominion God fixed for all generations. 6The celestial bodies neither hunger nor grow weary, and they do not abandon their tasks. They do not crowd one another, and they never disobey God’s command.
7“Then the Holy One looked upon the earth, and filled it with all God’s good things. With all kinds of living organisms God covered its surface, ordering living creatures to be produced from the waters, and then from the red soil of the earth.
8“Then the Holy One created human beings out of the dust of the earth – to which they shall one day return. 9Like all living things, God allotted them a fixed number of days, but God made them in God’s own image, and so granted them dominion over everything on the earth, that they might practise careful stewardship over the beasts and the birds, over the fish of the sea, and over everything that crawls upon the earth.
10“When human beings were created, God did not give them knowledge of their origin, nor of the origin of the universe. 11Instead, God gave them the use of the five senses of the body; but as a sixth God instilled in them the gift of the mind, and as a seventh, reason, as the interpreter of one’s faculties.
12“Yet with all this, human beings looked up at the majesty of God’s works, at all the things which the Holy One had made – the sun, the moon and all the stars – 13and instead of worshipping their Creator, they worshipped that which had been created.”
58. 1“So began humanity’s descent down the wrong paths, the one mistake being compounded by the next.
2“First, humanity invested rocks, rivers and trees with the powers of spirits. Then they imposed upon the wild beasts qualities of good and evil, which are not theirs to possess, even attaching to them the personalities of gods and spirits with magical powers. 3People sought to control the world and the beasts around them through rituals, chants and incantations. 4And they prayed to these animals to give them their strength and power, even imagining that they should drink the blood of these animals in order to imbibe of their vigour and might, 5not knowing that true strength and power comes from reverent awe of the Holy One.
6“Then they began to seek the answers to life from the celestial bodies – which in themselves have no voice – thinking that wisdom and learning comes from the study of the bodies that wander the heavens. 7If they had instead sought the Holy One in earnest, they would have known the true, living source of all wisdom and knowledge.
8“Thereafter, they engaged in the worship of imagined spirits, and the practice of magic arts, offering bloody sacrifices to gain control over the living world which God alone had created and has power over. 9They set up idols and worshipped them, inventing myths and histories for lumps of stone, clods of clay, and blocks of wood.
10“When they saw that their gods could not speak, not being satisfied with these deceptions, they sought to create gods of men; and thereafter the princes and kings of nations were worshipped as gods. 11And this fraud was even more disastrous than the former, for the former gods could not speak, and therefore could do no injury; 12but these men, being drunk on their own power, and on the fervour in which they were worshipped, 13made poisonous proclamations and edicts, and wrought havoc and murder upon the peoples that worshipped them.”
59. 1“Then at a time when the world was overspread with deceptions, and the earth was threatening to forever depart from the path which God had intended for it from the first stroke of creation, God chose one man to be the messenger of God’s true purpose.
2“In the twentieth generation after Adam, there was a certain wise man, a citizen of Ur, a former city of Shinar. 3This man, Avraham by name, being endowed with the faculty of reason with which God had gifted to all human beings, saw the order and magnitude of the stars, and the celestial bodies in the heavens, 4and he recognised something greater than these bodies themselves.
5“For just as we praise the potter for his work, and not the pot, Avraham saw how the answers so sorely sought by humankind were to be found, not in the worship of creation, nor by the adoration of created things, 6but rather through the solemn acknowledgment of the Creator, and that all things were regulated by God’s providence.
60. 1“Thereupon an angel, standing by him in a vision, began to expand upon those things which he was beginning to perceive through his intellect. 2The angel also showed him what belonged to his descendants and posterity forever.
3“Therefore Avraham, when he desired to learn the causes of things, and was intently pondering upon what had been told him, 4the Holy One came to him in glory, who alone knows the hearts and true purpose of humanity, and disclosed to him all things which he desired to know.
5“God taught him the knowledge of the One true God; gave him insight into the origin of the world, and likewise its end, when the veil dividing heaven and the earth would be dissolved; 6God showed him the immortality of the soul, and the manner of life which was pleasing to God; 7God declared the reward of the good, and the punishment of the evil – all to be regulated by righteous judgment; 8and having given him all this information plainly and sufficiently, God’s Glory departed again to God’s invisible abodes.”
61. 1“So you see, that in the generations while humanity worshipped only animals or idols, drinking blood and bowing down to lifeless stone, or else to the sun, the moon and the stars, God’s great purpose and design was ultimately hidden from them. 2But when one man sought the One, true living God, and desired earnestly to know the One who created all things, then thereafter all knowledge was revealed to him. 3He became God’s friend, and was counted as righteous. 4Through him, the nations of the earth would be blessed, and the path of God’s purpose be maintained.”
Scroll Thirteen: Ya`aqov tells Clement of the Story of the Hebrew People, from Abraham to the Babylonian Exile
62. 1When Clement had heard all these things, he was most eager to learn of the history of the Israelite people, and of their generations with the God of Avraham. So Ya`aqov related the generations of the Israelites, saying,
2“When Avraham was still called Avram, before God swore God’s eternal covenant with him, he had two sons. 3One was his servant Eli`ezer, his adopted heir, whose descendants joined with the Medes and Persians. Some of them were also joined with their neighbours, the Brahmans. 4And the other was called Yishma’el, from whom the nations of the Arabs proceed; and some of those who lived in Arabia were scattered to Egypt, because they were near it. 5Hence some Indians and Egyptians have come to observe the rite of circumcision, but in the passing of time the purity of the rite has been lost.
6“Yet God’s promises to Avram were not to be completed in these two lineages. The Holy One delayed, in order to deepen Avram’s faith, and to teach him many things over the course of time. 7He learned most of all that we mortals cannot force God’s hand; the Great One acts in God’s own time, and on the day of God’s own choosing.”
63. 1“However, when Avram was ninety-nine years old, God renamed him Avraham, to signal that he was to receive a new destiny. He would be the father of many nations, and God made an eternal covenant with him, that God would give him and his descendants the land of Canaan forever. 2As a sign of that promise, God required that he and all the men of his household be circumcised. God furthermore indicated that God’s covenant would not be passed down through his existing heirs, but in one yet to be born.
3Because he was just, his lawful wife Sarah would have a son, even though she was barren. She had been his wife from his youth. 4It was granted to her to have him whom he called Yitzchaq. And Yitzchaq was the father of Ya`aqov, and Ya`aqov the father of twelve sons, and these twelve fathered those who formed part of the seventy who went down into Egypt.
5“But when however, there was a famine in Canaan, all their family went into Egypt. Within four hundred years they had multiplied by the blessing and promise of God, but they were then afflicted by oppression and slavery under the Egyptians. 6But when they were afflicted, the True Prophet, Moses, was chosen to be sent to them. 7When the oppressing Egyptians did not allow the Israelites to depart and journey to the land of their ancestors, 8they were punished and scourged with ten plagues, in mockery of their false and powerless gods. 9After this, Moses led them – the people who were so beloved of the Holy One – from Egypt, along with a mixed multitude.
10“Because of this, the Egyptian people who were left behind conspired in burning anger with their king. They followed and overtook the Israelites. 11God made it seem to the Egyptians that the Israelites were directionless and hemmed in on all sides, with nowhere to go. This was so that the Almighty could demonstrate God’s great power. 12The Egyptians besieged them at the shore of the Sea of Reeds, and they desired to destroy them by the sword. But when they were about to come near them, 13God instructed the Prophet to strike the waters with his rod. When Moses did this, God parted the Sea of Reeds into two. 14In this manner the people crossed over. And the multitudes of the Egyptians in their arrogant presumption all followed after them.
15“For when the last of the Israelites had gone up, the last of the Egyptians went down; then the sea, which had been made firm by the command of the One who divided it, rushed back to its former state. 16And the Egyptians who pursued received due punishment in it, and died.
17By these events, the Israelites learned that there is none like the Holy One among the pagan gods. And we remember this with great joy each year at the time of the Passover offering; we recall how God led our ancestors out of Egypt. 18By the remembrance of God’s great miracle of redemption and salvation, we are strengthened and renewed each year.”
64. 1“Then Moses, by the command of God who knows everything, led the great multitude of the Israelites into the desert wilderness. 2He abandoned the short way which leads from Egypt to Canaan, and led them by the longer way of the desert wilderness, so that by forty years of wanderings he might purge the evil manner of life which had grown on them through their long sojourn in Egypt, 3and at another time be able to temper and change them by the giving of the Torah.
4“At last they came to Mount Horeb, and they heard with heavenly sounds the Teaching of God, and all Ten Proclamations. 5The first of them is this, that while keeping God’s Teaching, they should preserve themselves only to Him; 6and the second, not to make for themselves the image or likeness of anything in the heavens or on the earth to worship.
7“But when Moses had been gone for forty days, those assembled people – who had seen with what power and might Egypt was punished with ten plagues by God; and who had seen a pillar of cloud guide them by day, and a pillar of fire by night; 8who had passed over through a divided sea on their dry feet, and who had received heavenly manna for food, and who had drunk water from the rock at Meribah – 9when Moses delayed, those same people demanded that Aaron make them an image of God – which it is not lawful to do – one that would go at their head along their journey. 10So Aaron made for them a golden statue of an Apis bull, and declared that the Holy One in fact was the same as this Egyptian god. Now, our God has no equal or equivalent among the pagan gods, nor any form or being that we can touch or see, but still they worshipped Apis as if it were the Holy One.
11They bowed down to it, because after all the demonstrations of God’s mighty power, they were still not able to put away such evil customs from their hearts.
12“Because of this, Moses then came down from the mountain by the command of God, and those who had asked to see God in a corporeal form were punished as if they had committed adultery. He abandoned the shortest road which goes from Egypt to Canaan. 13He led them in that vast, desert wilderness, so that in the space of forty years he might at another occasion, in the giving of Torah, be able to change those evils which clung to them for an extended time with the many customs of the Egyptians.”
65. 1“Thus Moses, when he had ordered and arranged those things, appointed for them a general of the people who was named Y’hoshua`, 2who would lead them by the strengthening Message of God into the land of their ancestors. For he himself was not permitted to lead them into Canaan. At Qadeish in the desert of Zin, he had misrepresented the holiness of God by exhibiting a miracle of God as an act of magic.
3“When Moses went up before all of them he died, and no one to this day has been able to find his grave. 4Then those multitudes entered the land of their ancestors, and by the providence of God alone, they put to flight the native inhabitants of the Land as soon as they appeared – for they had lived a corrupted and most depraved form of religion. 5The Israelites entered into the land of their ancestors according to their tribes, taking possession of it in allotted portions.
6“During the time of the judges they did not have kings, and they remained firmly in their places. This was the time of Israel’s youth, when our society lived according to God’s ordained structure, with the Holy One as our only King. 7But then they demanded of the prophet Samuel an earthly king, not satisfied with the Holy One as our God and our King. With royal ambition they also built a temple in place of that which had been appointed beforehand for them for the purpose of prayer. When they realised that they had made for themselves tyrants who really were not kings, 8through a series of wicked kings who were seduced by foreign gods, 9the people through time were led away into the depravity of false gods by those evil kings who were over them.
10“As a result, those tribes who were formerly so firmly entrenched in the Land, were violently wrenched from it; first the northern kingdom, then the southern kingdom were taken into exile.
11“Even now, we stand at the precipice of the same disaster, for if we do not heed the warnings of the Immerser, and live the Message of God given to my brother, then we shall surely be cast out of the Land for the manifold sins committed against the holiness of our God.”
Ya`aqov teaches Clement about the Proper Place of Sacrifices in the Iraelite Religion
66. 1Clement said to Ya`aqov, “A few short days ago, I ascended the holy mountain for the first time, and I heard you speak in the Temple courts, 2saying that sacrifices are not necessary for the forgiveness of sin – that no blood need be shed for the God of Israel to forgive our transgressions. 3Why then was it given by Moses, of whom you speak, to offer sacrifices to the Most Holy God?”
4So Ya`aqov answered his enquiry, saying, “Now, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai and saw the people worshipping the Apis bull, 5because he was a good and faithful steward, he discerned that it was not possible to remove from the people all the sickness of the love of idol-worship, 6which had become ingrained in them from their long sojourn in Egypt. 7He realised that the practice could not easily be brought to an end because of their upbringing alongside the pagan Egyptians. 8Because of this God permitted them to make offerings; but God told them that they could only do this in the name of the God of Avraham, 9so that God could cut off and bring to an end if only one half of this sickness – the sacrificing to idols. 10But as for the correction of the other half – sacrifice itself – it was reserved for another time in the hand of someone else, one of those of whom Moses said:
11‘The Holy One your God will raise up for you prophets like me from among your own people; you must listen to them’; and one of those of whom God spoke, when God spoke of the same to Moses, saying, 12‘I will raise up for them prophets like you from among their own people; I will put my words in their mouth, and they shall speak to them everything that I command. 13Anyone who does not heed the words that they speak in My Name, I myself will hold accountable’.”
67. 1“Furthermore, God also set apart a place for them in which alone it was permitted to offer sacrifices, thus restricting the practise further. 2All of this was promulgated to them until a more opportune time should come, when they would be able to finally understand that God desires mercy, not blood-sacrifices; 3that God does not delight in the blood of bulls, or of sheep, or of goats. 4God would rather that we learn to do good – that we seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the fatherless, and plead for the widow.
5“Many times before now our people have been prepared for this; for the prophets whom God sent to us in God’s wisdom, those who warned us of impending exiles, and rebuked the sinful conduct of our ancestors, 6these also spoke of how God would rather we do justice and act with mercy, and how this was worth more than many blood-sacrifices.
7“But our ancestors did not listen to them, so first Ephraim was exiled to the cities of the Medes, 8and then Judah was exiled to the banks of a foreign river to mourn and weep for Zion.
9“And in those places where we dwelt, scattered among the nations, our ancestors did not have that place which the lawgiver permitted us for sacrifice, but nevertheless they kept God’s law without sacrifices; 10in those foreign lands, God heard their prayer and forgave their sin without blood and without animal-sacrifices, and they were restored and redeemed.
11“We were exiled so that our ancestors might understand that when they kept the law of God without sacrifices, they were redeemed. 12But they were slow to learn this, and the realisation came only to a few. 13Even the blessed knowledge of those few was darkened by those multitudes who thought otherwise, who were not able to perceive all this. 14Perhaps to distinguish and understand this is not given to the multitudes, but only to the few who can understand it – who have the ears to hear it, and the eyes to see it.
68. 1“Even in our own day Yochanan the Immerser, who himself was a prophet called and sent by God, tried to wean our people from the idea that forgiveness of sin comes through the blood of sacrifices, and he taught his message through a ministry of immersion; 2lest our people suppose within themselves that they were being deprived of the forgiveness of their sins through sacrifices, and this be troublesome for them, God appointed immersion for us. 3It was shown to us that true forgiveness of sins comes from repentance and striving to live in the true perfection of God’s Teaching.
4“Many people listened to him, but many more did not; so God, who is ever-merciful, chose our Yeshua` at a fitting time and gave him a warning to deliver, that if the wrongdoers among our people did not change their ways, exile would again fall upon us all. 5Those who heeded God’s Message would be led by the wisdom of God to the strong place of the Land, which is for the living; 6they would be preserved from the war which is yet to follow; those who please God will in God’s inexpressible wisdom be preserved from the war and tribulation to come.
7But those who because of their division and violence do not obey will be led to their own destruction. 8Just as they cannot ultimately do what they desire to do, so also when they are expelled from the Holy City they will understand and be instructed to do what pleases God in spite of themselves.”
Ya`aqov speaks to Clement about the present Troubles, and about the prophets Yochanan and Yeshua`
69. 1Then Clement enquired, “Does all this not push the priests to anger? Do not your words provoke their wrath? The High Priest and his men each day harass you, and challenge you to be silent on the teaching of Yeshua` of Nazareth. Knowing what happened to your brother Yeshua`, why do you still speak?”
2So Ya`aqov said, “Yeshua` was a good servant of God, a faithful prophet called by God to deliver the words of truth and justice which God had commanded him to speak. But even so, certain people did not listen, though they had been taught for so many generations to expect such things.
3“Some did not heed his words, because they had ordained in their arrogance that God no longer spoke through the mouths of prophets, even though the Torah and the Prophets show there are prophets yet to come – that ‘oracle will not cease from the prophet’. 4Others did not listen, because they said that there is no prophet until the True Prophet, the one like Moses promised to us. Yet others were possessive of their wealth, and despised anyone who called them to act with righteousness, an open hand and due justice towards the poor.
5“Then there were those who were simply content to dwell in their ignorance, for not only did they not listen, but they added insult to obstinacy by saying that he was a glutton, a slave to the stomach, and led by a demon, even though he had been called and sent by God to deliver the very words for their salvation.
6“In this way, evil finds its victory through the prejudices of a few malicious people; for without the wisdom of God to help those who prize the truth, their stiff-necked pride would have consumed almost everyone.
7“Then when the work before him threatened to become too great – which was the harvest of the righteous many, of which he spoke – the Master chose from among his most trusted followers, twelve in number, and appointed them as Emissaries of his teaching, 8that they might be sent out into the Land first to call the faithful and observant, and those true to God’s Way; also those who were seeking earnestly for God’s kingdom, but struggled along the way; 9and then those who were lost and had gone astray, and could not find their way back.”
70. 1“So our prophet, in the faithful service of the Holy One who called him, caused the most wretched of souls to have hope, 2freed those enslaved by debt from their burden, opened the hand of the greedy and selfish to the aid of the poor, 3lifted those imprisoned by the guilt of their sin to know God’s mercy and forgiveness, and turned the Dead back to the way of life.
4“For whenever it seems that our nation threatens to cast itself headlong into the abyss, the Holy One our God plucks an ordinary man from his normal way of life, and appoints him as a prophet of God’s Message. 5God sends these men, such as Yeshua`, to those who endanger the life of our nation.
6“But when they could no longer endure the truths that the God of truth placed on the Master’s lips, those who were scandalised by his teaching conspired to be rid of him. 7The Zealots plotted to call him messiah, knowing how the Romans would then seize him and crucify him for sedition. 8After all of their other schemes had failed to ruin his standing in the eyes of the people, their final lie succeeded in silencing his voice.
9“When he died, a sadness descended upon the Land as if in mourning. The sun was darkened from the sixth to the ninth hour; 10and the veil of the Temple was torn from top to bottom, as if lamenting the destruction threatening over the place.
11“Though the Zealots surround themselves with signs of the day of wrath to come, they themselves are not moved to consider the greater scheme of things, or the desolation they will bring upon us all.
71. 1“Now, the worldly powers which frequently darken and oppose the children of freedom are a trouble and a plague upon all the people. 2They prepared a great testing of their goodness, but it was God’s will that those who wish to draw near to the message of salvation should be stronger than the force which troubles them, 3and with their will they will easily receive victory in salvation.
4“In the meantime, after the Master had died, things returned speedily to normal. 5Those wicked people who had conspired to bring about his death, once more went back to themselves and their old customs and habits, 6because their fear of the message Yeshua` was given to deliver had ended.
7“Even the Roman authorities, after having stationed two guards to watch with all diligence over the place where he was entombed, and the following day finding the corpse missing, 8made the excuse that it was because he was a magician; others claimed that the corpse had been stolen and burned by our enemies.
72. 1“But in the end, their lies and deceit would all come to nothing, for what no one realised was that, however plainly the messenger was dead, the living Message of the God of truth cannot die. 2As the flame was rekindled in the hearts and minds of his followers, they came to realise this, and were no longer afraid. 3Thereafter the number called by that living Message of salvation increased daily.
4“To their own embarrassment, the priests became very much afraid that the whole people would return to the faith once delivered to the Prophets. 5Sending to us frequently, they used to ask us to discuss with them about Yeshua`, whether he were the prophet whom Moses predicted, whom they call, ‘the True Prophet’.
6“For this is the difference between those of our people who believe in the words of the Prophets, and the Sadducean priests who reject God’s Message: 7that they believe only in one final Prophet, who will come at the fulfilment of all things; 8but we believe that God acts and continues to act throughout all our generations by calling successive prophets. 9We teach that God’s guidance is constant, and steers us even when we have gone astray; and that the calling of each prophet proclaims the living Presence of our God to God’s people. 10And it is the duty of each prophet to remind the people of God’s great promises yet to be fulfilled.
11“But still the Sadducean priests frequently challenged us to prove our faith with regard to the words of the Prophets. 12However, we were looking for a more opportune time. So then six months passed since the death of the Master.
13“In that time, the community of those who follow the Way of God multiplied abundantly, and grew daily in their faith. 14In Jerusalem, during the Festival, this son of man was chosen to be the unworthy servant of those Followers. 15From that day to this, I have tried to govern our community according to God’s righteous Teaching and purpose.
73. 1“Now one day, when the twelve Emissaries had gathered on the day of the Passover sacrifice with the great assemblage of Israel in Jerusalem, that they might join together with all our brothers and sisters in the festival, 2I asked each one of them to tell me about the most important of those things which they had done among the people. Each one briefly reported to me, 3and when I heard their words I gave thanks to God. They spoke of the rich who had come to the aid of the poor, the Zealots who had turned from the way of the sword, of those who judge and condemn who now act with mercy, and of the hypocrites who now earnestly seek God’s true will.
4“During this time Qayafas the High Priest was sending priests to us, and asked us to come to him. 5He asked that either we should persuade him that Yeshua` was a prophet, or that he should convince us that he was not, 6so that in this way all the people should come to one and the same faith.
7“Many times he sent for us to do this, but we not a few times declined, as we were always seeking a more opportune time.”
8Many more things beside these Ya`aqov taught and related to Clement, and thus he was brought near to the God of Israel, and came to live as a Godfearer in the Assembly of Israel.
Scroll Fourteen: Ya`aqov’s Disputations with Various Sects
74. 1Now it came to pass, that the new High Priest, Yishma’eil ben Fiabi, frequently asked us through the priests that we might have a discussion about the Way that we follow, when an opportune time came, and it pleased the whole community to assemble, and we went up to the Temple.
2When Ya`aqov was standing on the southern steps to the Temple by the Huldah tunnels, together with our faithful brothers the Emissaries, the people were completely silent. First the High Priest began to exhort the people to listen patiently and quietly, and at the same time be witnesses of those things which were to be said.
3Next the High Priest, being a Sadducee, and so ignoring the words of the Prophets, began to extol with many praises the rite of blood sacrifice, saying that it had been given by God to the people for the forgiveness of sins, and that apart from the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. 4He contested the immersion preached by Yochanan the prophet as merely a recently introduced innovation, contrary to the will of God; and then he spoke against our Way, saying that our sins could not be forgiven, as long as we refused to offer sacrifices at the hands of Sadducean priests.
5So our Ya`aqov, knowing that the prophet Yeshua` was once a follower of the Immerser, and understanding his teaching, said straightaway that the High Priest did not understand the rite of immersion which the Prophet Yochanan taught. 6Then he proceeded to explain how Yochanan preached that the rite of immersion was a sign of repentance, and that the heart had to be purified by repentance before the body could be purified by water. 7It was therefore God’s intent, that we should understand that neither sacrifices nor immersion could cleanse an unrepentant heart.
8And then, since the High Priest had spoken against our Way, Ya`aqov began to show with confirmation from the Torah and the Prophets, how the God of our ancestors forgave sin without the need for the blood of sacrifices. 9And he spoke also to the people, saying, “Solomon was God’s chosen, God’s anointed, and he spoke under God’s spirit and said, ‘Through mercy and truth is sin expiated.’ 10He knew that our living God could cleanse us of our sins even in a foreign land away from here, without sacrifices, even in exile.
11How otherwise can the poor afford for their sins to be forgiven? When they can afford neither a sheep nor a dove, for them a grain offering is enough, for Torah says, 12‘He is to bring as an offering for his sin a tenth of an eifah of fine flour for a sin-offering. In this way, the priest will make expiation for him for any of the sins he has committed, and he will be forgiven.’
13“Furthermore, is not the holy half sheqel given to the Holy One as an offering for the expiation of our souls? 14And even though a man is sent to kill the scapegoat on the Day of the Expiations, the Torah of Moses tells us that this goat, which carries on itself the sins of the people, is to be sent away alive into the wilderness; its blood is not required.
15“So you see, that God desires mercy, not sacrifice; to obey God’s will is better than the blood of sacrifices, and to heed the Holy One is better than the fat of rams.”
75. 1Then one Samaritan, whose thoughts and opinions were against us as Jews, came forward, saying, “Your followers are right to speak against the sacrifices in Jerusalem, for we Samaritans know that the true worship of the God of Avraham is to be maintained on Mount G’rizim alone.”
2But Ya`aqov vigorously defended Jerusalem and spoke wisely, saying that all of God’s prophets, whom the Samaritans ignore, speak of Jerusalem as God’s chosen place, and that salvation would come forth from Jerusalem.
3Now, even though we had a command not to enter the cities of the Samaritans, nor take our message or preaching to them, Ya`aqov spoke so that the faith of the assembled people would not be reviled.
4For the Samaritan said, “Do not fear, I have not come to scatter dead men’s bones in the courtyards of your Temple, but rather I have come to see the errors of the Jews for myself. 5You yourself speak of this Yeshua` as a prophet, but we know that there will be only one true Prophet like Moses, the Restorer, who will return in the last days to restore all things. 6It is he who will find the sacred vessels of the Tabernacle that were lost to us, and restore the worship of the One True God to Mount G’rizim. 7He it is who will find the container of the omer of manna, and restore the Ark of the Covenant to its rightful place. 8Your people say that your deliverer will come from Judah, but we know that the Restorer will be of the tribe of Efrayim.”
9So Ya`aqov answered him and said, “In truth you speak well of the prophet like Moses, the son of Yosef, who will speak to God face to face. He will gather the scattered tribes of Israel, and assemble the banished children of Ya`aqov, for so speaks the Prophet Yesha`yahu.
10“But there is one opinion among your people which is openly professed like a teaching, but which will diminish your nation to the point of extinction, and that is in your hatred for the children of Judah. 11For your people attack our pilgrims, and when the Zealots reply in kind with their swords and daggers, you seek vengeance, blood for blood, and life for life. Meanwhile the Romans fall upon us both.
12“So I tell you this: there is no hope in vengeance, nor any justice in hatred. For vengeance only begets despair, and after it comes death. 13But if we live as neighbours, and honour one another in peace, then we shall flourish – the children of Israel and Judah will live. 14And our One Sovereign and Father will bless us both, and keep the promises God made to our common ancestors.”
76. 1Then a Nazorayyan, one of the followers of Yochanan the Immerser, asserted that Yochanan was foretold as the Prophet like Moses, and the Messiah. “For behold,” he said, “You and your brothers say that Yeshua` himself declared that Yochanan was greater than all men. 2If he is greater than all men, he must therefore without doubt be held to be greater than Moses. And if he is greater than all, he himself was the Messiah.”
3In answering him, our Ya`aqov declared that Yochanan was certainly greater than Yeshua`, for no man is greater than his master. And if this saying be so, then Yochanan is not greater than Moses, for Moses was our great teacher, and none is greater than he.
4Ya`aqov further said, “Yochanan was only a prophet. There is much difference between him who gives the Law, and him who observes the Law. For Moses knew and spoke with God face to face, but Yochanan only heard God’s voice calling to him in the desert.
5“Furthermore, we do not argue that on the one hand we should honour Yeshua` as a prophet, and on the other despise Yochanan’s words as false! Nor do we teach that a follower of Yeshua` should love him, and hate Yochanan. 6For behold, a master does not love one servant and despise all others under him; in this way, God held both Yeshua` andYochanan to be God’s devoted servants; and a servant boy does not simply obey his master, and disobey his rightly appointed stewards; instead he obeys his master, and the ones whom his master has sent. 7Therefore whomsoever God has called to be bearers of God’s Message, let neither you nor I despise.”
77. 1Then it so happened that a certain scribe from among the sectaries, shouting from the midst of the people, said, “This Yeshua` was an augur and a diviner, not a prophet!”
2So Ya`aqov countered him and said, “If Yeshua` was an augur and a diviner, then you make the same false accusation against Moses and all the prophets, for Yeshua` spoke the same words which God placed in their mouths, and their words were proved true.”
3Then the sectary accused Ya`aqov and the emissaries of giving the people false hope, for he claimed that his leaders alone were the true teachers of righteousness, who would show the only true way of salvation before the coming day of wrath.
4But Ya`aqov spoke with gentle wisdom, and said to him, “In truth, salvation can only come through Adonai, the Blessed One of Israel. For it is written in the Book of the Prophet Yonah, ‘Salvation is from the Holy One.’ And we hold this as an eternal truth, and self-evident. For salvation does not come through any other name.
5“Furthermore, God’s salvation reaches to the ends of the earth; and through God alone will the earth be saved. Those who revere man will be lost, but those who revere the Holy One in awe will be saved. Through the Holy One we have life, for it is written, ‘Humility and the reverent awe of the Holy One bring wealth, honour and life.’ 6And those who revere God in awe will be saved from destruction, for it is also written, ‘The reverent awe of the Holy One leads to life. Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.’
7“Even David, filled with God’s spirit, said, ‘God fulfils the desires of those who revere God in awe; God hears their cry and saves them.’
8“For if we set our minds to recall death, destruction and woe, then our souls themselves will slowly die; they will wither and turn to dust. But if we set our minds rightly on the mighty and wondrous deeds which the Holy One of Israel has done, then we will be renewed, and our souls will prosper. 9Each year we are commanded to remember our departure from Egypt, not to dwell on the miserable slavery of our ancestors, but rather to remember how the Blessed One saved us, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and how with great signs and wonders God saved us, and brought us out from that land of slavery.
10“For God desires us to recount to one another with awe and wonder how God protected our ancestors with a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night; and God desires us to tremble in reverent awe when we remember how God divided the waves, and led our ancestors through the Sea of Reeds on dry ground.
11“So therefore, if we set our minds on these things, then our spirits will be strengthened and healed, and our flesh made whole by our One true Saviour, the Holy One of Israel, in whom we have our only salvation.”
78. 1Now one of Paul’s Believers was in the crowd, and upon hearing all these words he came forward to pour scorn on Ya`aqov’s words, proclaiming that it was through his Christalone that they were saved, and that his god had sent his son to share in our suffering, and thereby truly know our pain.
2On hearing this our Ya`aqov was taken aback, and the people gasped a collective murmur of dismay. And so Ya`aqov answered him saying, “Does not our God already know all things in heaven and on earth, even before they happen? Even human parents feel the pain of their children, 3for does not a mother feel pain in her heart when she sees the child of her womb endure an agonising illness? Does not a father’s anger rise within him when he sees his children have been unjustly treated? 4If then, a mortal parent will feel these things, how much more so will God our Heavenly Father, who feels every slight and intimate misfortune that we endure?
5“We can know this, that God endures our trials with us, because our Heavenly Father knows even when a sparrow falls from a tree; how much more so will our Father in Heaven know when we go through times of trial, and act on our behalf! The One who comforts us on the rocky and treacherous path will not permit even the least of God’s children to suffer alone.”
6But this Believer, not content with this answer, and bitter at the knowledge and wisdom of Ya`aqov’s words, enjoined him further, saying, 7“You may have the acclaim of the people, but you do not have the approval of our god or his son. For he sent Christ to die for our sins, and those who do not acknowledge him will not be saved.”
8At this, the people were aghast and in disbelief, but Ya`aqov calmed them and said, “Our God has told us that another man cannot die for someone else’s sin, 9as it is written in the Book of the Teaching of Moses, and repeated in the Books of the Kings of Israel and Judah: ‘A man shall only die for his own transgression’.
10Furthermore, our God spoke God’s words of truth through the Prophet Y’chezqeil and said, ‘A man shall die for his own sins’, and, ‘I will judge each one of you according to his own ways.’ 11Therefore an innocent man is not made to suffer by our God for another man’s sin, nor does a righteous man suffer for the iniquity of the wicked.
12“Furthermore, if a righteous man sins, then his previous righteousness is not reckoned in his favour. Similarly, if a wicked man repents and turns back to God, then his previous wicked estate is not counted against him – this is the Way of our God. 13For Goddoes not take pleasure in the death of the wicked; God would rather they turn from their ways, so that they live.”
14But the Believer would not accept Ya`aqov’s words, and further insisted, 15“God sacrificed his only begotten son so that our sins could be forgiven!”
16Amidst gasps of incredulity from the people, Ya`aqov said to him, “I shall tell you what this teaching is like. 17It is like when some of our ancestors believed that their sins could only be forgiven by giving up their first-born children to death, and by passing them through fire. 18Now at that time, this was the true mind of God: the Holy One called this evil in God’s sight, a detestable thing which God did not command – a thing which did not even enter into God’s mind. 19So then, if it did not enter God’s mind to ask for our first-born children to be given over to death for the forgiveness of sins, how then can it be possible that it could ever enter God’s mind to give one of God’s children over to death for the forgiveness of sins? 20Such a doctrine only glorifies Molekh, the false god of a dead people, and profanes the holy name of our God.”
21When this Believer realised that he could not prevail against our Ya`aqov, he slid away, and returned to his own people, and his own country.
79. 1In time the Sadducees, when they saw how our Ya`aqov was answering every statement and question put to him with wisdom and grace, were filled with disquiet. So they sought to attack him through another line of argument. 2And when Ya`aqov spoke in support of someone from the crowd who spoke of the afterlife, they called out from the midst of the people, saying that those who look forward to dwelling in the heavenly Presence of God are greatly mistaken and in error, for they do not believe in the afterlife.
3In response, Ya`aqov taught that it is not an error, but a most certain matter of faith, saying, “The Holy One our King, who sits eternally throughout all ages on God’s throne in heaven, is served, honoured, and praised by the whole host of heaven. 4There the righteous who have gone before us are called to dwell in the eternal presence of their great King and Saviour. 5For the Holy One, our Father in heaven, is the God of Avraham, Yitzchaq and Ya`aqov; He is the God of the living, not of the dead. 6For how can the dead give voice to their words before the Sovereign of all, their Maker, if they were unknowing? How can they give praise to the One from whom all things proceed, their Creator, if they were only silent in the grave?
7“But if one does not acknowledge these things, then there is no hope for the lowly who see the wicked prosper, and the righteous suffer. Those however, who believe in the afterlife, have God’s assurance that God will sit in judgment, and divide the sheep from the goats. 8To the righteous, the Eternal Judge will say, ‘Come, sit at My right hand, at the place which has been prepared for you.’ But to the wicked God will say, ‘Away from Me, you evil-doers! Sit there in the outer darkness and remain there, until you have paid the last of the debt of your wickedness in full.’ 9For God does not ignore the tears of the oppressed, even if the worldly power of their oppressors succeeds.”
80. 1Then one certain Pharisee, when he heard Ya`aqov speak in answer to each of these men, came forward and said, “You have countered each man that has lifted his voice against you. However, you who are not a man even trained in the Traditions of the Elders, cannot claim to know God’s will, but we know that our Traditions preserve the true will of God, and our Traditions will preserve us in times of trial.”
2So Ya`aqov took up his theme and said, “God promised us that Torah, and not your Traditions, would cause the nations to hold us in respect and high honour, as it is written, ‘The Holy One has declared this day that you are God’s people, God’s treasured possession as God promised, and that you are to keep all God’s commands. God has declared that God will set you in praise, fame and honour high above all the nations God has made, and that you will be a people holy to the Blessed One your God, as God promised.’
3“But your followers do not keep all God’s commands. Indeed, you follow your own man-made laws and commandments. For you say that if the Torah of God says one thing, and your Traditions say another, then you are to follow your Traditions! Therefore, how can the nations hold us in honour, and have respect for us, when we do not follow the Way of the Holy One?
4“Furthermore it is written, ‘The Blessed One will establish you as God’s holy people, as God promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Holy One your God, and walk in God’s ways. Then all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the Name of the Holy One, and they will have an awesome respect for you.’
5“But how can the nations have an awesome respect for us, when your followers ensure that they witness only your laws, and not God’s? How can they know we are called by the Name of the Holy One, when you do not follow the Way of the Holy One?
6“God has promised us, ‘I will bless those who bless you,’ and furthermore, ‘All the clans of the earth will bless themselves by you.’ But how can others bless us, when our ways are closed off from the nations? How can they bless us, when they have no knowledge of our ways?
7“For God has said that the descendants of God’s servant Ya`aqov shall be a light to the nations, as it is written in the Book of the Prophet Yesha`yahu, ‘I will make you a light for the Nations, so that you may bring My salvation to the ends of the earth’. But your Traditions have built a wall and a fence around that light and so hidden it. 8Among the empires and kingdoms of the earth, the descendants of Ya`aqov are reckoned among the least in power, therefore God gave us Torah to protect us, and enable us to be free from persecution and hatred – God has promised this to us on oath. But this wall you have built prevents Torah from protecting us; your Traditions stand between us and our protection.
9“Yeshua` was right when he spoke of you and your brothers, for you have hidden God’s light under a bushel, and pushed it under a basket. How can Torah go out from Zion, and wise judgement from Jerusalem, when it is hidden and cut off from the world?
10“Furthermore, what God has declared a sin, you have called a virtue. But the day will come, when the fence you have built will be pulled down; the day will come when the vines that the Holy One has not planted will be dug up by the roots. On that day, the nations will learn Torah, and come up to God’s holy mountain. They will take firm hold of the hem of our cloaks, and ask to know about our God.”
11At this, the Pharisee was greatly disturbed and sorrowful, so he asked, “Then tell me Teacher, what must I do?”
12And Ya`aqov answered him, saying, “Whatever the Holy One says, then do and observe it. Whatever laws and principles God has given, they must come first; the Traditions of men are only commentary.”
Scroll Fifteen: Ya`aqov Recites Psalm 37 in the Temple
81. 1Daily the diverse matters which troubled the hearts of the sons and daughters of Jerusalem would come to the attention of Ya`aqov. 2So, filled with compassion for the downcast, the lowly and the oppressed, and his heart being filled with God’s spirit, 3Ya`aqov ascended the steps of the Temple, and delivered to them words of exhortation.
4“All you who have ears to hear – my brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of Israel, hear me. 5Do not think that I come to you with any artifice or any manner of deceit, for I do not wish to dishonour the Name I serve, nor defame the One whose words are just. 6Call to mind therefore the things that God, our Sovereign and Father, has promised. And we do not need to fear, for God fulfils what God has promised.”
7Then he lifted his hands to heaven and, speaking in the Aramaic language so that the people could understand, 8he recited a psalm of hope and faith, blessing the people with the Holy Name of God:
82. 1“Do not fret yourself over evil-doers,
Nor envy those who do wrong.
2For like grass they soon will wither;
Like the green of plants they will fade.
3Put your confidence in YHVH,
and do good;
Dwell securely in the Land,
and remain loyal.
4Take your delight in YHVH,
and God will give you the desires of your heart.
5Commit your destiny to YHVH;
trust in Him, and God will act.
6God will make your righteousness shine like daylight,
And your cause like the noonday sun.
7Wait confidently for YHVH,
remain patiently for Him;
8Do not fret over those who succeed whatever they do –
Over those who carry out fraudulent schemes.
9Refrain from anger, and cease from wrath;
Do not fret – it will only do you harm.
10For evil-doers shall be cut off,
But those who look to YHVH shall inherit the Land.
11A little longer,
and the wicked will be no more;
You will look at where they were,
but they will be gone.
12But the meek shall inherit the Land;
They shall enjoy abundant prosperity.
13The wicked plot against the righteous,
And gnash their teeth at them;
14But my Sovereign laughs at the wicked,
For God knows that their day is coming.
15The wicked draw swords and bend their bows
To bring down the poor and the destitute –
To slaughter those who act with righteousness.
16But their swords shall pierce their own hearts,
And their bows shall be broken.
17Better the little that the righteous person has,
Than the great abundance of the wicked.
18For the weapons of the wicked shall be broken,
But YHVH shall support the righteous.
19YHVH knows the daily needs of the pure in heart;
Their allotted portion is assured forever.
20They shall not come to grief in hard times;
In times of famine they will have abundance.
21But the wicked shall perish;
The enemies of YHVH shall vanish.
22They will be like bountiful pastures –
in the end, they will vanish in smoke.
23The wicked borrow, and do not pay back,
But the righteous are generous, and go on giving.
24Those whom God blessed shall inherit the Land,
But those whom God curses shall be cut off.
25Each one’s footsteps are made firm by YHVH,
But only when God looks with favour on our actions;
26Though we might stumble, we will not fall down,
For YHVH supports us by the hand.
27I have been young, and now I am old,
But I have never seen the righteous abandoned,
Nor their children begging for bread.
28They are ever generous and willing to lend,
So their children reap the blessing.
29Shun evil, and do good,
And you shall dwell secure forever.
30For YHVH loves what is just;
God will not forsake God’s faithful ones.
31The merciful shall be taken care of forever,
But the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
32The righteous shall inherit the Land,
And dwell in it secure forever.
33The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
And their tongues speak what is just.
34The Torah of their God is on their hearts;
Their footsteps will never slip up.
35The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
Seeking the chance to kill them.
36But YHVH will not abandon the righteous to their clutches,
Nor let them be condemned in judgment.
37Look to YHVH,
And keep God’s Way.
38God will raise you up to inherit the Land,
And you will see when the wicked are cut off.
39Once I saw a wicked and violent man,
Rooted firmly like a tree flourishing in its native soil.
40Again I passed by, and he was no more;
I sought him, but he could not be found.
41Consider the pure in heart, and look at the righteous,
Because there is a bright future for those who love peace.
42But those who turn their fate away from God shall be altogether destroyed;
The posterity of the wicked shall be cut off.
43The salvation of the righteous comes from YHVH;
God is their fortress in times of distress.
44YHVH helps them and liberates them;
God liberates them from the wicked and saves them,
Because they take refuge in God.
83. 1“Daily the oppressed and the troubled cry out to God and say, ‘How long shall we cry out for help, and You will not listen?’ 2For they see wrongdoing all around them, and the oppression of the innocent. Violence and banditry surround them, and contention and discord flourish; 3the law has lost its grip. The wicked outwit the righteous, and justice is perverted. The day of anguish is coming, and God does not act to save.
4“But I tell you this: if we look to the Holy One and keep God’s ways, writing God’s Torah on our hearts; if we put our confidence in God, and commit our souls into God’s tender care; and if we wait patiently for God, and trust in God, then we will dwell secure in our land. 5If we practice mercy, and do what is just; if we remain righteous to the Holy One, and love peace, then we shall not stumble; in times of famine God will open the hands of the rich and the poor alike, and we will have abundance – God will not abandon us. 6For the Holy One is our salvation in times of trouble; in times of despair, God is our refuge, and our rock.”
Scroll Sixteen: The Martyrdom of Ya`aqov the Pious
84. 1Now according to the Torah of Moses, it is the right of the priests to go and take their tithes of grain, even from the threshing-floor. This was a law of righteousness from God, who is the bastion of the poor, for this and many other laws were a salvation to the poor among the priests.
2But the chief priests, who owned land and thereby became rich, also had servants who were very wicked, who joined themselves to the boldest sort of people, and went to the threshing-floors, and by violence took away the tithes that belonged to the priests, and did not refrain from beating those who would not give these tithes to them. 3Since no one was able to prohibit them, some of the poorer priests, who formerly were used to being supported with those tithes, were not able to take their rightful share, and consequently died for want of food.
4Now this angered our Ya`aqov greatly. So, seized with the fire of God’s Message, he went and stood upon the southern steps of the Temple in the hearing of the chief priests, and spoke to them, saying, 5“Listen, all you who have ears to hear, will you never be satisfied? How much longer will you continue to rob the poor? You are like rivers in the desert after a heavy rain, gorged thick with mud, drowning the Land!
6“But well should you fear what lies ahead for you. Your deeds have spoken in witness against you before God. The day is near, very near, when you will be called to account for what you have done. I know that you will defend yourselves, saying, ‘It was for this reason, or for that reason, that we needed the grain,’ 7but your excuses are vain and empty – they shall come to nothing, for it is neither to me nor to the people to whom you should address your cause, but to the righteous Judge, the Holy One of Israel! 8And you cannot lie, for God knows the truth, and God will weigh you accordingly!
9“Is it right that ordinary folk, with little or nothing to sustain them, should starve, whilst the purses and barns of the rich overflow with what is not theirs to take?”
10And the people murmured their agreement with Ya`aqov, for he was held in high esteem by the people. But a priest among them, a Sadducee, said to him, “Why should you, a Follower of the Way, have any concern for those priests, who are not even counted among your followers?”
11And Ya`aqov said to him, “When an injustice seeks out its victims, it does not enquire after what way they follow, or what doctrines they adhere to. God says that we should not stand by when our neighbour is harmed; 12therefore, injustice should be challenged when it strikes, lest it should fell one victim and say, ‘Behold, I slew this one, and no one stood against me. Therefore I will seek out others to slay in like manner.’ 13If we claim to follow the living God and Father of all justice, we should show evidence of it by our works.”
14When these words reached the High Priest, he was driven into a heated rage, and wished to try him as a false prophet, but could do nothing against our Ya`aqov while the Roman procurator – who is the only one permitted to enact the death penalty – still sat over Judea.
85. 1Now, the procurator of Judea, Porcius Festus, died while still holding office, and it was several months before a successor could arrive to take over control. 2The High Priest at that time, Hananiah, possessed by a burning hatred for Ya`aqov – who spoke out day after day for God’s justice – seized this opportunity to arrest Ya`aqov our Nasi.
3Hananiah himself acted as accuser and judge. A number of Pharisees, who were of the school of Hillel, felt that to try Ya`aqov for the death sentence outside of a meeting of the Great Sanhedrin was a gross breach of the Torah. 4They entreated the High Priest to go before the Great Sanhedrin, but he would not listen.
5The innocent Ya`aqov was tried as a false prophet, and pronounced guilty. Thereupon he was taken out to be stoned to death by the High Priest’s guards. He walked peacefully and with great dignity and faith in the Holy One of Israel, blessed be He.
86. 1As he was being led to his place of execution, he delivered an exhortation to the brothers and sisters as they wept, saying,
2“Do not be surprised at fiery trials when they come upon you to test you,
As though something strange were happening to you.
3For you will be brought before councils and accused with many falsehoods;
You will be hated for the Message that you have been given to preach;
But you who endure to the end will be redeemed.
4People will malign you, and say many false things about you;
Indeed, the hour is coming when you and your families
Will be cursed and cast out of synagogues;
truly, the day is coming when those who curse you
Think that they are doing a sacred service to God.
5Be on your guard therefore,
For you too will be brought before sanhedrins,
And before gentile governors and kings, to bear witness before them.
6And when they imprison you and bring you to trial,
Do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say,
but say whatever is given to you in that hour,
For it is not you who speak, but the spirit of God within you.
7Therefore truly I say to you,
Bless those who persecute you; bless them and do not curse them.
Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
For it is better to suffer for doing good, if it be God’s will, than for doing evil.
8Who then can separate you from the Glory of God!
Can tribulation and persecution, or suffering and anguish,
Or famine and deprivation, or peril and death?
These things may separate you from life,
But they cannot separate you from the blessedness of God’s eternal Glory!
9The wicked will lay a snare for you,
But do not stray from the Way that has been set before you.
The insolent will utterly deride you,
But do not turn away from God’s righteous Kingdom;
bloodthirsty men hate those who are blameless
And seek the life of the upright!
10Therefore, if you are cursed and persecuted
For the sake of the Message you were given to speak,
Rejoice! Give praise to God!
For the very Glory of our God rests upon you;
And yours is the very Kingdom of God, into all eternity!”
87. 1As the guards were stoning Ya`aqov, he fell to his knees and, raising his eyes to heaven, said, “I beseech you Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
2Then one from among the sons of the Rechabites, seeing Ya`aqov fall onto his knees, cried out, “Stop what you are doing, the Just One is praying for you!”
3At this the guards ceased, but there was one among the crowd who was a fuller, and a hired brigand for the High Priest. He took the club with which he beat out clothes, and struck Ya`aqov on the head.
4By this cruel act Ya`aqov died. He was buried that day near the same spot where he died below the Temple, and his monument in the Kidron Valley is still there to this day.
88. 1Everyone in Jerusalem was deeply shocked, and grieved when they heard how Ya`aqov had died. They crowned him, ‘Ya`aqov the Pious’. 2Many ordinary people mourned his passing, including people who were not even of our community, for he was a just and a pious man who loved all, even to the least of men, and showed lovingkindness to all the sons and daughters of Israel, no matter what their way or teaching. He had been our wise counsellor and holy guide for thirty-two years.
3Ya`aqov’s execution greatly angered certain Pharisees of the school of Hillel, who were denied the opportunity to defend him on the Great Sanhedrin. So they made petition both to King Agrippa and to the new procurator, Lucceius Albinus, who was on his way from Alexandria in Egypt.
4Because they defended a Pious One, the judgment that was due to them was stayed, and the many were saved because of the actions of the righteous few.
5From Alexandria, Albinus wrote an angry letter, threatening to punish Hananiah for giving himself the authority and the power to apply the death sentence, which was the sole jurisdiction of a Roman procurator to hand down. 6King Agrippa, fearing that something worse could result from such a punishment, removed the High Priest from office, who had served in that position only three months.
7Thereafter, Shim`on son of Qlofas, being the last remaining relative of Yeshua` still alive who knew him while he lived, was elected to succeed his brother Ya`aqov.
Scroll Seventeen: Ya`aqov’s Brother Shim`on is Elected to Replace him
89. 1This is an account of the genealogy of Shim`on, the brother of Ya`aqov;
He was a son of Qlofas, who was the brother of Yoseif, who was the father of the Prophet Yeshua`.
2And Qlofas was the son of `Eili,
the son of Maththath,
the son of Leivi,
the son of Malkhi,
3the son of Yannai,
the son of Yoseif,
the son of Mathithyahu,
the son of Amots,
4the son of Nachum,
the son of `Esli,
the son of Naggai,
the son of Machath,
5the son of Mathithyahu,
the son of Shim`i,
the son of Yoshah,
the son of Yodhah,
6the son of Yo`anan,
the son of Reiysha,
the son of Neiri,
the son of Malki,
7the son of Addi,
the son of Qosam,
the son of Almodham,
the son of `Eir,
8the son of Yeishua`,
the son of Eli`ezer,
the son of Yorim,
the son of Maththath,
9the son of Leivi,
the son of Shim`on,
the son of Yehudhah,
the son of Yoseif,
10the son of Yonam,
the son of Eleyaqim,
the son of Maleya,
the son of Minna,
the son of Mathathah,
11the son of Ya`aqov,
the son of Maththan,
the son of Ele`azar,
12the son of Elihudh (who, it is said, was a follower of David, while he was being pursued by Saul).
And Elihudh was the son of Yakhin,
13the son of Tsadoq,
the son of `Azzur,
the son of Eleyaqim,
the son of Avihudh,
14the son of Yekhonyahu,
the son of Yoshiyahu,
the son of Amon,
the son of Menasheh,
15the son of Chizqiyahu,
the son of Achaz,
the son of Yotham,
the son of `Uzziyahu,
16the son of Yehoram,
the son of Yehoshafat,
the son of Asa,
the son of Aviyahu,
17the son of Zerach,
the son of Yehudhah,
the son of Ya`aqov,
the son of Yitschaq,
the son of Avraham.
Scroll Eighteen: The Jewish-Roman War and the Destruction of the Temple
90. 1Immediately after the death of Ya`aqov the Pious, the situation in our country under the Roman Occupation went from poor to insufferable. 2Albinus released those prisoners who had been put into prison on some trifling offence. He took money from them in payment, and dismissed them; as a result of this, the countryside was filled with bandits and thieves.
3During his time as procurator, a prophet arose in Judea named Yeshua` ben `Ananiah, a poor country peasant. 4Four years before the War against the Romans, during the Festival, this Yeshua` went up to the Temple and cried out among the porticoes, saying, 5“Woe unto Jerusalem! A voice calls out from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds! A voice speaks out against Jerusalem and the Sanctuary, a voice against the joy of bridegrooms and brides, a voice against all the people!”
6Thereafter, he went about the streets and alleys of Jerusalem calling out these words, and variations thereof. So incensed did the wealthier citizens of Jerusalem become with his message, that they arrested him and charged him to cease his disturbance. 7Without even bothering to engage with them or answer any of their charges, he cried out his message all the more. Seeing that there was no end to him, they hauled him up before the Roman procurator, Albinus.
8The governor had him brutally flogged and questioned. However, Yeshua` ben `Ananias seemed to him as one possessed, and incapable of answering anything put to him – neither who he was, nor from whence he came. 9He neither protested his torture nor answered the governor’s questions, merely repeating his sorrowful lament for Jerusalem over and over, and that a voice was rising against the city and the people therein.
10Albinus declared him a harmless maniac and released him. However, from that day until the outbreak of the War, he did not cease in his dirge of woe to the people of Jerusalem. 11Unlike our Yeshua`, he neither engaged with the citizens of Jerusalem, nor offered them any advice, teaching or solace, but repeated his woes upon them day after day, offering no defence or support of his claims. 12He did not curse anyone who challenged him, nor bless anyone who helped him; friend and foe alike was greeted with the same lament.
13Then after two years, Gessius Florus was sent as successor to Albinus by Nero. He filled Judea with an abundance of miseries. This Florus was so wicked, and so violent in the abuse of his authority, that by comparison, our people took Albinus to have been our benefactor, so excessive were the miseries that Florus brought upon us. 14He took every occasion to inflict every sort of violence, and every unjust sort of punishment. Nor was he moved by pity, for he would hear petitions for justice, and then ignore them. There were no bounds set to the nation’s miseries.
15Had Ya`aqov yet been alive, he would have enabled the people to endure, until such a time as God, through God’s own might and power, caused the Romans to fall away from our country. 16But the unhappy people, when they were no longer able to bear the devastations which the Romans inflicted upon us, took up arms against the Romans.
91. 1Four years after the death of Ya`aqov the Pious, war fell upon our country, and those who opposed the yoke of Rome gained the upper hand. But in the fourth year of our freedom, the Roman misery returned, and Jerusalem was destroyed. 2It was destroyed because no man of holiness and piety such as Ya`aqov was left alive in Jerusalem to make supplication to God on behalf of the people.
3The unrepentant among the people had each gone their own way, and sinned against God’s holiness, each community according to their ways. The Zealots sinned by shedding human blood in the Temple, and by setting up engines of war there; 4the Sadducees sinned, because they desecrated their office and defiled their offerings – they oppressed the poor, accepted polluted gifts into the treasury, acted with injustice and practised fornication; 5the Pharisees sinned, for their Traditions overruled God and nullified God’s commandments; and they decreed human commandments to silence God’s voice in prophecy; 6the Sectaries sinned, because they cursed the House of God’s Sanctuary; the rich sinned, for they withheld their tithes, and oppressed the poor – so also cursing God; 7the followers of Yochanan sinned, because they abandoned the righteousness of his teaching, and gave the ritual of immersion greater significance than what he taught it represented – thus they misrepresented God’s merciful forgiveness; 8and Hellenist Followers sinned, for raising the reputation of the prophet Yeshua` far above his station as servant of God, and for falsely proclaiming him messiah – thus they misrepresented the truth of the holy message of God he taught. 9Because of all these sins against God’s holiness the Temple was destroyed, and our people exiled. For sins against human beings can be forgiven, but sins against the holiness of God can never be forgiven.
10Hear us, O YHVH, save us! Rescue us from our present plight and deliver us! Hear the cries of Your people in this dark hour, Your innocents, and remember the promises of salvation You have made. 11You have said that You will not abandon Your people, and You keep the promises You have made. 12We have strayed, we have done wrong, we have committed grievous acts of rebellion; forgive us therefore our transgressions, uphold the reputation of Your Name, and restore all Your people to the land You promised to our ancestors.
© Shmu’eil ben Naftali
(International Talmidi Version,
First published Aug 2005
revised version 2017
– passages 13-14, 16-23, 89 added
and whole document renumbered)
If you have any comments or questions, please email: email@example.com
General List of Sources:
Ascents of James (from Clementine Recognitions)
Letter of Peter to James (from Clementine Homilies)
Book of Acts
Letter of Paul to the Galatians
1 & 2 Peter
Various Roman writers (Hegesippus, Eusebius, Jerome etc)
Scroll One (about Ya`aqov)
from various early Church writers:
1:1-2 (own composition from historical sources)
2:1-3 – Hegesippus
2:4-7 – Jerome & Eusebius (from Hegesippus)
2:8 – Eusebius
2:9-10 – Jerome
2:11-12 – Eusebius
Scroll Two (disputations with Qayafas, and assault by Saul c.34-36CE)
from Ascents of James, Book 1
3:1-9 – AJ, Ch 61
4:1-12 – AJ, Ch 62
5:1-8 – AJ, Ch 64 (5:6 = Ps 51:18-19)
6:1-8 – AJ, Ch 65
7:1-9 – AJ, Ch 66
8:1-11 – AJ, Ch 67
9:1-5 – AJ, Ch 68
10:1-11 – AJ, Ch 69:1-4, 8
11:1-14 – AJ, Ch 70
12:1-4 – AJ, Ch 71
13. Josephus, Antiq. Bk 18, Ch 4, pt 1-2 (Pilate’s massacre of Samaritans -35CE)
14:1-10 – AJ, Ch 71
(start of persecution of Hellenist Followers -36CE)
14:9-11 (existence of various Talmidi synagogues):
Damascus, Acts 9:2, 22:5, 26:20
Syrian Antioch Acts 6:5, 11:19-20
Phoenicia and Cyprus: Acts 11:19, Cyrene 11:20, 13:1,
Caesarea Acts 21:16,
Rome, Acts 18:2 (Jews who followed ‘Chrestus’ were asked to leave Rome),
Acts 28:17 (presumably at this point they had been allowed back)
Puteoli Acts 28:13-14
14:12 – Acts 8:1
14:13 – Acts 11:19
14:14-17 – AJ, Ch 71:2, 5-6
Scroll Three (troubles with Paul – 35-48CE)
From Acts, and Paul’s letters:
15:1 – narrative midrash (see end passage 12)
15:2 – Acts 9.4
15:6 – Acts 9.3
15:7 – cf Acts 9:8b (goes to Damascus)
15:8 – cf Acts 9:19 (stays with Hananias)
15:9a – cf Acts 9:17, cf Acts 19:3 (Hananias immerses him)
15:9b – Rom 7:18-23 (Hananias teaches him Gnostic beliefs)
15:10 – cf Acts 9:20-22 (Paul preaches in Damascus)
15:11 – Gal 1.17b (left Damascus for Nabatea)
15:12 – Gal 1:17c (returned to Damascus)
15:13 – 2Cor 11:32, Acts 9:23 (citizens tried to have him arrested)
15:14 – Acts 9:25 (Paul escapes Damascus)
15:15 – Gal 1.18-19 (stays in Jerusalem with Keyfa)
15:16 – cf. Gal 1.20, 2Cor 11:31b (claims not to be lying)
15:17– narrative midrash (Ya`aqov forgives Saul)
15:18 – Acts 9:28-30 (the elders put him on a ship to Tarsus)
16:1 – Gal 1.21, 2.1 (Paul leaves for Syria & Cilicia 39CE; the 14 yrs mentioned in Galatians
is from conversion in 35CE, hence 10 yrs in this verse)
16:2 – (Barnabas of Cypriot birth) – Acts 4:36;
(Barnabas brings Paul to Antioch 43CE) – Acts 11:25-26a
16:3 – (Cypriot Followers bring belief of Yeshua as the Christ) – Acts 11:20
16:4 – (first called Christians in Antioch) – Acts 11:26b
16:6 (left for Seleucia c.44CE) – Acts 13:1-4; (Cyprus) – Acts 13:4;
(Pamphylia) Acts 13:13; (Pisidian Antioch) – Acts 13:14;
16:7 – (expelled from synagogue in Pisidian Antioch c.48CE) – Acts 13:44-50
Scroll Four (from Paul leaving Jerusalem in 39CE, until return in Summer 49CE)
17. (start of Agrippa’s reign – 37CE)
17:2 (Pilate removed from office 36CE, death of Pilate after Mar 37CE)
– Eusebius, Ecclesia Historiae, ch?
18. (troubles in Alexandria – Aug 38CE) – Philo, Flaccus 39, 74
19. (The Gaius crisis – end 39 to end 40CE)
Josephus: Wars Bk 2, 184ff; Ant. Bk 18, ch 8, parts 1-9
19:4-5 – Philo, Flaccus 116
19:17 (Agrippa made king over all Judea by Claudius – early 41CE)
19:18b (Agrippa carried basket at Bikkurim – 41CE) Mishnah Bikkurim 3:4
19:21-22 – Dt 31:10-11
19:23 – Dt 31:13
19:24-30 (Agrippa reads from Torah at Sukkot in Sabbatical Year 41CE) –
Mishnah Sotah 7:8
19:28 (you may not set a foreigner over you) – Dt 17:15
20. (execution of Jacob bar Zavdi, before Passover 44CE); Acts 12:1-2;
Eusebius Ecc.Hist. Bk 2, ch9
21. (Peter’s escape from prison;
flees to Antioch, after Matzot 44CE) Acts 12:3-19
21:15 – narrative midrash
21:18 – historical midrash, to account for why Peter was in Antioch
22. (end of Agrippa’s reign – 6 Aug 44CE)
– Josephus, Ant. Bk 19, ch 8, pt 2; Acts 12:20-23
22:9-11 (Fadus as procurator – 44-46CE) – Ant 20:97-98; cf Acts 5:36-37
23. (famine in Claudius’s reign – 48CE)
23:4 (prophet Agabus) – Acts 11:27-28
23:6 (charity sent for famine relief) – Acts 11:29
(Acts has this happen in a famine in 41CE, but there was none)
23:7-8 – (Queen Helena gives grain & figs) Ant. of the Jews, Bk 20, Ch 2, pt 3-4
23:9-10 (King Izates also sends aid) – Ant. of the Jews, Bk 20, Ch 2, pt 5
23:11 (charity sent from synagogues around the Mediterranean) – Acts 11:29-30
23:12 (Cumanus made procurator) – Antiquities Bk 20, ch 5, pt2 – ch 6 pt 3
Scroll Five (the dispute in Antioch early 49CE, and the Convention of Jerusalem, Summer 49CE)
24:1 – Gal 2.1-2a – dated
24:2 – Gal 2.2b
24:3 – cf. Gal 2.3
24:5 – (dated early 49CE)
24:11-12 – cf. Acts 15.1, 5
24:13 – Acts 15.2a; cf Gal 2.6
24:15 – Gal 2.9-10
24:16-17 – Acts 15.19-20, 28-29
Scroll Six (excommunication of Paul, 49CE)
from Clementine Recognitions, Book 2
25:1-3 – Bk 2 Ch 48
26:1-6 – Bk 2 Ch 49
Scroll Seven (criticisms of Paul’s teaching)
from known historical Ebionite criticism of Paul
27:13 – Num 23:19
Scroll Eight (demotion of Keyfa, c. 52CE)
from ‘Letter of Peter to James’:
29 – LPJ ch 1
30 – LPJ ch 2
31 – LPJ ch 4.1 (21:10-11 from 1Peter 2:21, 2:24, 3:18)
32 – LPJ ch 4.2
33 – LPJ ch 4.3 cf. Pseudo-Clementine Homilies 11:35
34 – LPJ ch 5
35 – own composition
Scroll Nine (Ya`aqov’s warnings against those who alter Talmidi writings)
from 1 & 2 Peter
37:3 – Clem Rec, Bk 4, Ch 35
Scroll Ten (political troubles in the Land 50-52 CE; Ya`aqov is asked to intervene)
from ‘Antiquities of the Jews’, Bk 20, Ch 6, Pt 1
43:2-4 – Eusebius: Ecclesiae Historia, 2:23
Scroll Eleven (Ya`aqov’s prayer on behalf of the people)
From Jeremiah & various prophets
Scroll Twelve (story of Creation to Avraham – friendship of the Creator)
from Ascents of James, (Clementine Recognitions, Book 1)
52 – based on accounts of Roman life from Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny etc
53 – CR, Bk 10, Chs 11-12
55 – CR, Bk 10, Ch 14
56 – AJ, end of Ch 26
57 – AJ, sections of Ch 27; ben Sira 16:26 – 17:8
58 – based on beginning of AJ, Ch 31
59 – beginning of AJ, Ch 32
60 – AJ, end Ch 32, and Ch 33
61 – summary of previous chapters
Scroll Thirteen (Account from Avraham to Exodus)
from Ascents of James, (Clementine Recognitions, Book 1)
62 – AJ, Ch 33 (52:6-7 – midrash)
63 – AJ, Ch 34 (53:1-2, 11, 17-18 – midrash)
64 – AJ, Ch 35 (also, 54:9-10, midrash
65 – AJ, Ch 38
Blood, Sacrifices and forgiveness,
66 – AJ, Ch 36 (55:11 – Deut 18:15, 55:12 – Deut 18:18-19)
67 – AJ, Ch 37 (56:3 – Isaiah 1:11b, 56:4 – Isaiah 1:17)
68 – AJ, Ch 39
69 – AJ, Ch 40
70 – AJ, Ch 41
71 – AJ, Ch 42
72 – AJ, Ch 43
73 – AJ, Ch 44
Scroll Fourteen (Refutation of Sects, early 60s CE)
from Ascents of James, (Clementine Recognitions, Book 1)
74 – AJ, Ch 55 (flour offering – Lev 5:13, half sheqel – Ex 30:11-16,
scapegoat – Lev 16:21-22, mercy not sacrifice – Prov 16:6,
obey better than sac – 1Sam 15:22
75 – AJ, Ch 57 (son of Joseph – Isa 11:11-12)
76 – cf. AJ, Ch 60
77 – AJ, Ch 58 (Jon 2:9, Prov 22:4, Prov 19:23, Ps 145.19,
78:6-11 – Ezek 33:9, 33:20, 33:12, 18, 33:11;
Deut 24:16, 2Kgs 14:16, 2Chr 25:4
78:13 – John 3:16-17
78:15 – Micah 6:7
78:18 – Jeremiah 7:30-32
78:20a – 1Kings 11:7
78:20b – Leviticus 18:21
79 – AJ, Ch 56
80 – AJ, Ch 59 (Deut 26:18-19, Deut 28:9-10, Gen 12:3; Isa 49:6)
Scroll Fifteen (Psalm 37)
81 – introduction – own composition
82 – Psalm 37 in full
83:1-3 – Habaqquq 1:2-4
83:4-6 – summary of Ps 37
Scroll Sixteen (death of James – 62CE)
84:2-3 – Antiq. Jews Bk 20, Ch 9, pt 2
86 – (Yaaqov’s final address based on various verses in the NT about persecution)
86:1 – narrative midrash
86:2 – cf 1Peter 4:12
86:3 – cf Mk 13:13, Mt 10:22
86:4 – cf John 16:2
86:5 – cf Mark 13:9
86:6 – cf Mark 13:11
86:7 – cf Romans 12:14, 12:21, 1 Peter 3:17
86:8 – cf Romans 8:35
86:9 – cf Psalm 119:110, Psalm 119:51, Proverbs 29:10
86:10 – cf Mt 5:11-12, Lk 6:22-23
87:1 – Eusebius, Hist. Ecc, Bk 2, Ch 23, pt 16
Scroll Seventeen (genealogy of Shim`on)
89:2-10 – Lk 3:23-31
89:11-16 – Mt 1:7-15
89:17 – Mt 1:2-3
Scroll Eighteen (the Jewish War & the Fall of Jerusalem, 66-70CE)
90:2 – Antiq. Jews Bk 20, Ch 9, pt 5
90:3-4 – Antiq. Jews Bk 20, Ch 10, pt 1
90:6 – Antiq. Jews Bk 20, Ch 10, pt 1