The Days of Shimon of Jerusalem
ha-seifer ha-y’mey shim`on lirushalayim

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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.

1 1After the death of Ya`aqov ha-Tsaddiq, his brother Shim`on was chosen by common assent to lead the congregation, as he was the last, close relative of Yeshua` who had heard the words of the prophet, and was still living.

           2After the martyrdom of Ya`aqov the Pious, and before the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, it is told that those of the emissaries and followers of Yeshua` of Nazareth who were still living, came together from all over the known world, to join with those who were related to the prophet (for the majority of them were also still alive at that time). 3They did so in order to take counsel together as to who was worthy to succeed the Pious One.

           4They all with one accord pronounced Shim`on, the son of Qlofas and brother of the Pious One, to be worthy of the seat of ‘Nasi of the Congregation of the Way’. He was a cousin, as they say, of the prophet Yeshua`. 5For it is recorded that Qlofas was a brother of Yosef, the father of Yeshua`.

           6However, there was one who opposed the election, a man called Thebutis. He attempted to cause discontent among the congregation, unhappy that he was not chosen to lead. 7He taught full allegiance to the Oral Law, and thereby set himself at variance with the teaching of Yeshua` and Ya`aqov; he was of a sect that only accepted Yeshua` as a great teacher, not as a prophet.

 

2.        1Just before the short-lived freedom of Jerusalem from the Romans, Shim`on received warnings from God by means of visions, that Jerusalem was soon to fall.

           2The members of the community in Jerusalem were thereby warned by means of an oracle given to Shim`on. 3For fear of the Romans, the oracle was delivered to the community in riddles and cryptic symbols, so that only those versed in the words of the Hebrew prophets would be able to discern its true meaning.

           4On the strength of this oracle, Shim`on urged all Followers in Jerusalem and the surrounding villages to leave the city before the war began. 5Being guided by God’s Message, the greater part of the community headed for Perea, and settled in a town called Pella.

           6Thebutis however, who had stood against Shim`on’s election, remained behind with those who chose to stay in Jerusalem; for he believed the Oral law when it taught that there are no more prophets, and that God no longer speaks through human beings.  7They remained in that fated city and ministered to the assembly of Israel. 8When the prophesied day came and the city fell, they suffered alongside the stubborn and the stiff-necked, and died beside them.

           9Blessed be the memory of the holy ones who remained in the Holy City to minister to the lost sheep of Israel; may they be remembered for good, into all eternity.

           10When Jerusalem was destroyed, it also destroyed the last vestiges of authority that Jerusalem may have had with regard to Paul’s Believers among the Gentiles. 11Thus when Jerusalem was destroyed, Paul’s Gentile churches were free to follow their own course.

           12After the destruction of Jerusalem, the various communities of the Way came together in Pella, and across all the Trans-Jordan, Nabatea and Coele-Syria. 13A significant number of them came to call themselves ‘the Poor Ones’, that is, Ebionites. 14The Ebionites were desperate to have the message of the prophet Yeshua` heard and taken to heart, and so in time, many of them came to teach – fatefully so, like the Hellenist Followers before them – that he had been the messiah. 15However, they were also fully aware that he was not born of Davidic descent, having known his immediate family. 16So they resolved this conundrum by teaching that he had become the messiah by spiritual adoption.

           17Meanwhile, among the Judean refugees who fled to the Galilee, there were to be found followers who had gone across to the teachings of Peter and Paul. 18These called themselves ‘Nazarenes’, and were a sad annoyance to the exiled Jewish communities of the Galilee.

           19Nazarenes were distinguished from Ebionites, in that they held to Paul’s beliefs and teachings. 20Nazarenes held Ebionites in suspicion and contempt, and considered them to dwell in poverty of faith, as well as in poverty of possessions.

              21It was a common practice among the Nazarenes to intercept Ebionite documents, letters and books, and interpolate what was written therein with their own words and ideas. 22There arose therefore two main Hebrew camps with regard to Yeshua`; the camp of the Ebionites, who, like other Followers of the Way, gave their faithful loyalty to Shim`on in Pella, 23and the camp of the Nazarenes, whose allegiance was to the inheritors of Peter and Paul’s teaching in Rome – to Linus, Anacletus and Clement.

 

3. 1When Shim`on led the community to Pella, he sent out the Emissaries to the four corners of the earth, so that the Way would not be lost. 2Andreas bar Yonah and Yo`anan bar Zavdi were sent to Greece, Ya`qov bar `Alfai to Egypt, Matthiyah bar `Alfai and Filip to Phrygia, 3and Netane’el bar Tolmai and Yudah named Toma departed for the lands of the distant east.

              4Now Yudah named Thaddai and Shim`on named the Qanayyan had already gone to their rest; for both had left for Phoenicia before the war broke out, 5but their souls were sent to God in the city of Berytus, three years after the death of Ya`aqov our Nasi.

 

4.        1Twenty years after the fall of Jerusalem, the rabbis of Yavneh formulated a benediction to be said by the precentor during the services in the synagogue. 2It came to be known in Hebrew as ‘ha-birkat ha-minim’, that is in Aramaic, ‘the benediction of the heretics’. The content of its wording was self-evidence that it was not a blessing but a curse.

           3It was directed against anyone who was not a Pharisee. The intent was that anyone who was not a Pharisee would not be able to pronounce a curse against themselves, 4and thereby non-Pharisees in the congregation would be rooted out.

           5The rabbis of Yavneh also decreed that Pharisees should not marry non-Pharisees; if they did, it was considered an illegitimate marriage, and their children would be considered mamzerim (that is in Aramaic, ‘offspring of forbidden unions’). 6Even lawful marriages between Followers of the Way were declared to be illicit unions. 7Furthermore, Pharisees were not to derive any benefit from non-Pharisees – neither in terms of trade, common assistance or healing.

           8A certain Follower, in Greek named Sason (that is in Aramaic, ‘Joy’), said to a rabbi named Abahu, “You will draw water with me in the world to come, for it is written, ‘With joy you shall draw water from the well of salvation’.” 9At these words – which had been spoken with friendly intent, from one Jew to his brother – Abahu answered him, “If it were written, ‘for joy’, then it would be as you say; but it is written ‘with joy’; we shall therefore make a water-skin of your hide, and draw water with that!”

           10The party of the Pharisees thereby cut themselves off from the rest of the House of Israel, and sent all non-Pharisees into a double exile – a second exile, one of faith, in addition to the one imposed by Rome. 11Forgotten was the affection they once had for our Ya`aqov, whom they defended before the corrupt High Priest Hananiah. 12They cast their brothers and sisters into the wilderness, for the birkat ha-mimin was what broke the stick of Judah asunder – a stick which was formerly one in God’s hand. 13They sent the Congregation of the Way into the wilderness of history, while they themselves remained to form the majority.

           14Our response, however, to cursing is blessing – to bless those who curse us. May all our fellow-Jews be blessed, and may their names be enrolled in the Book of Life; may they prosper, and may their names and the names of their descendants not be blotted out; 15may their wise men and women be found a place among the righteous, and may their holy ones be uplifted over the wicked, and be saved by the Glory and power of YHVH. 16May they find peace, may they be protected from our common enemies, and may they not become lost or extinguished.

 

5.        1Scorned by their Jewish brothers and sisters, Followers of the Way also faced vilification from Paul’s Gentile Believers for refusing to abandon the sacred Message of the Way, taught by the Prophet Yeshua`, and by Ya`aqov the Pious One. 2For the few Ebionites who dwelt there, the gospels scorned Capernaum and the refuge of the Galilee for having refused to accept the words of Paul before the war.

           3The living relatives of Yeshua`, of Ya`aqov and of Shim`on, came under particular persecution, for they were the living witnesses of Yeshua`’s words and Ya`aqov’s teaching. 4While they still lived, the living relatives of Yeshua` and Shim`on remained obstinate witnesses against them. It galled them that they could refute anything they claimed.

           5So during the time of the persecutions of Vespasian, Domitian and Traian, Believers in Paul’s teaching would regularly accuse Yeshua`’s surviving relatives of being Christians, simply so that they would be arrested, tortured and put to death – and thereby be silenced, in the same way as the Zealots had persistently accused Yeshua` of being the messiah, so that the Romans would put him to death. 6But in Rome, Jewish Followers of the Way were taken to die as martyrs alongside Gentile Christians; the Roman State made no distinction between the Followers of Yeshua` the man, and Believers in the god Christ.

           7In exile from the Holy Land, the relatives of Yeshua`, Ya`aqov and Shim`on faced false accusations from Gentile Believers that they were descendants of David, in order that they would be arrested for being rivals against Rome, and thereby crucified, and the light of their message extinguished.

           8The heirs of Yeshua`, Ya`aqov and Shim`on continued, however diminished in numbers and close to extinction, and refused to convert in the face of onslaughts against them.

           9In exile, the congregation of the Way continued as a pure and uncorrupt virgin; 10while if there were any at all who attempted to pervert the sound teachings of the prophet Yeshua` and of the Pious One, they were unable to stand before the light of the Message of the Holy One of Israel.

 

6.        1During the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian, there were two grandsons of Judah bar Qlofas (the youngest brother of Shim`on and Ya`aqov ha-Tsaddiq). 2These grandsons were Ya`qov bar Yudah and Zoker bar Yudah, who were betrayed to the Romans by certain Gnostic Christians. 3They were accused of being Christians, and of having messianic aspirations against Rome. They were put in shackles and taken before the Emperor of Rome to be questioned.

           4Domitian put the question to them, and said, “Are you of David’s race?”

           5They replied, “If you ask if we are of the same Hebrew race as David, our answer is yes.”

           6Then the Emperor asked them, “What properties do you own? And what wealth do you possess?”

           7To which they both replied, “We have neither silver nor gold, but of land we have thirty-nine acres, from which we raise our taxes and support ourselves and our families by our own labour.”

           8At these words, the Emperor’s brow furrowed, not believing that supposed descendants of royal blood would lower themselves to work the land and plough the soil. So he came forward and commanded them to put out their palms. 9When he saw the callouses formed by incessant labour on their hands, as well as the hardness of their bodies, he was inclined to believe them.

           10So the Emperor further asked them, “What is this kingdom of which your elders speak? When is it to appear? When will it come?”

           11At this the men replied, “God’s Kingdom is not an earthly or temporal one. It is heavenly, and will appear at the end of the world, when our God will come in glory and majesty, as Judge of all the earth. 12God will then give judgment according to each one their works.”

           13Upon hearing these words, the Emperor made no reply, but despised the men for the simplicity of their answer. He turned his back on them, and commanded them to be dismissed from his presence. 14Understanding accusations of messianic pretensions to have been a mere deception, by decree he ordered the persecution of the congregation of the Way to be brought to an end.

 

7.        1The persecution of the congregation of the Way resumed again under the Roman Emperor Traian. 2When Shim`on bar Qlofas was past his hundredth year, he was accused of being a Christian by some Gnostic Christians, and was arrested by the Romans to be tortured.

           3In the twelfth year of the reign of the Emperor Traian, Shim`on was questioned under orders from the proconsul Herodes Atticus. Time and again he was ordered to admit being a Christian, and a descendant of David. 4Since he was neither a Christian nor of the line of David, he could not admit to what was a lie; he could not confess to things about himself that were not true.

           5After being tortured for many days he suffered martyrdom, and all, including even the proconsul, marvelled that at such an advanced stage of years, he could endure so much. And orders were given that he should be taken out and crucified.

 

8. 1A prayer in memory of Shim`on bar Qlofas; let it stand for him as his memorial:

2“Whoever dwells in the shelter of YHVH –

         whoever abides in the shade of

         the Almighty,

Can say to Him, ‘You are my Defender –

         my Protector, my God in whom

         I trust!’

 

3It is He who will keep you from all hidden snares –

         from those who seek to destroy

         you.

He will cover you with His wings –

         you will be safe in His care.

 

4You will not fear the terror of the night,

         nor the arrow that flies by day.

Nor the plagues that strike in the darkness,

         nor the evils that slay at noon.

 

5YHVH has given,

         YHVH has taken away;

         Blessed be the Name of YHVH!”

 

6May the name of Shim`on bar Qlofas be remembered for good.

 

           7After Shim`on bar Qlofas died, there were no longer any left alive who had personally heard the words taught by the prophet Yeshua`; and within a few more generations, the relatives of Yeshua`, Ya`aqov and Shim`on would be no more. 8Therefore in Shim`ons stead, a man named Yustus, a Hellenist Jewish Follower of the Way, was elected to serve as head of the exiled congregation in Pella. He was a just, prayerful and humble man – a man of peace.

           9Thereafter, the appointment as Nasi of the congregation became an annual one. 10After Yustus came Zakkai, then Toviyah, Binyamin, Yo`anan, Matthiyah, Filip, Seneca, Yustus the Second, Levi, Efrayim, Yosef and finally, Yudah.

 

9.        1In the sixteenth year of the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, another great war engulfed the Holy Land, now renamed Palestine after the Philistine enemies of Israel, as an affront against the name of Judea.

           2Hadrian promulgated so many intolerable edicts against the Jewish religion, that the land rose up against them. 3There arose at that time yet another messianic claimant, a man called Simon, who called himself bar Kokhba [‘son of the star’].

           4Unprepared, the Emperor sent for one of his generals, one called Julius Severus, from the Roman province of Britannia. 5Although they suffered just as much as their Jewish brothers and sisters who did not follow the Way, Followers did not give their backing to Simon bar Kokhba, who was a tyrant of a man.

           6Our elders reminded us of the teachings which Yeshua` gave against the Zealots of his day – how they are dead to the Law of God, and seek only to bring about the Kingdom with violence. 7So they refused to support Simon. In defiance of bar Kokhba, they nicknamed him ‘bar Koziba’ [‘the son of falsehood’].

           8Koziba gave orders that if we refused to turn from the Way and support him, Followers of the Way were to be tortured. However, because of their refusal, many Followers were tortured to death. 9As leader of the congregation of the Way, Yudah was likewise taken by Simon bar Kokhba’s men and executed, supposedly for treason.

           10With Yudah’s death, the line of princes of the congregation came to an end. Faced with hatred from all sides – from their fellow Jews, from Romans, and from Gentile Christians, 11Followers of the Way dispersed from Pella, and went out across all the lands of the East, across Syria and Mesopotamia.

           12May their memory be recalled across the generations and held blessed. May their devotion to the saving Message of YHVH be held up in honourable memory of their name. 13May it be remembered that they did not take up arms against those who persecuted them, nor did they return the cruel hatred and persecution they faced with like hatred, 14but rather kept faith with the Holy One of Israel, and with the teachings that were entrusted to them for safekeeping.

 

10. 1Now it so happened that during the reign of Flavius Phocas Augustus, a certain man came to Reqem, the City of Weeping, that great home of tombs and temples in the province of Palaestina Salutaris. 2He traded there with the Reqemites, among them certain descendants of the Jewish Followers of Yeshua`, who bought various goods from him, and sent his wares on to Gaza and Aila.

              3They would give him gracious hospitality in their homes, and taught him the teachings of Yeshua` and the principles of the God of Abraham; from them he learned that God is One, and that Yeshua` was a prophet, and but a man like us. 4Thereafter he turned from his ancestral gods and the idols of his tribe, and gained followers of his own.

           5But then, when these Jewish Followers – and others – would not accept him as a prophet or messenger of YHVH, he ordered his Believers to turn their prayer away from YHVH’s holy city of Jerusalem, 6and to pray instead towards the Sanctuary of the Black Stone, within the Sacred Compound in Reqem – the place his tribe had always turned to in reverence to the Black Stone for generations, and around which devotees of the Nabatean gods would circle during their devotions. 7Then he declared war on the Jewish people, and put many of the Jewish citizens of Arabia to death for rejecting him; those he did not kill he expelled.

           8After his death, his Believers went to war against each other. During the siege of Reqem, the black stone was seized by the governor of Reqem. 9He had rebelled against Damascus; so he destroyed the Sanctuary of the Black Stone in Reqem, and took the black stone with him to a new place in the south.

           10When Reqem was finally destroyed in an earthquake, the pieces of the black stone were housed in the newly-built settlement of Maqqa in the Hijaz – a site where no one had ever lived before. 11There it was set into the wall of a new sanctuary built especially for it, similar to the one in which it had been originally housed in Reqem. 12At this time, adherents again changed the direction of their prayer, this time to face Maqqa.

           13Let us, as Followers of the Way of YHVH, seek peace and not war; let us seek neighbourly dialogue, and not belligerent argument; let us not return oppression for oppression, or answer enslavement with enslavement. 14Let us not simply give only rebuke to the wicked, but also encouragement to the good people among other nations, so that the good Name of YHVH may be glorified throughout the earth.

 

11. 1May one day the faith of Yeshua`, Ya`aqov and Shim`on return – to restore the ancient faith of Israel, the Way of YHVH, and to teach peace and justice to the nations. 2Blessed be YHVH forever, in every generation! Amein!

 

 

Sources

Passage 1 – Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiae, Bk 3, ch 11:1-2

Passage 2

           About oracles received: Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiae, Bk 3,          ch 5:4.

            About Thebutis: from Hegesippus, quoted in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book IV, Chapter XXII

Passage 3 – the fate of the various apostles; taken from the various historical traditions of their deaths

Passage 4 – Benediction of the Heretics:

            story of Rabbi Abahu: Succot 48b

Passage 5

Passage 6 – the 2 grandson of Judah bar Qlofas before Domitian

Passage 7 – persecution under Traian;

            torture and death of Shimon: Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiae, Bk 3, ch 32:6 (quoting Hegesippus)

            verse 7:6 from Ps 31.5, a traditional ‘last-breath’ prayer of ancient times

Passage 8 – Ps 91:1-6 prayer for the memory of Shimon

Passage 9 – the Hadrian persecutions; the rise of bar Kochba, the death of Yudah Nasi

Passage 10 – about Mohammed; there is a tradition mentioned in ‘A History of Jewish Christianity’, by HJ Schonfield, that the ‘Jewish-Christians’ of that time gave Mohammed hospitality – this is why I included it in the story; I wanted to show to Muslims that we are not their enemies.

Further notes for reading:  

Original direction of prayer for Mosques was Petra, not Mecca: Various Orientalists (Western Scholars of Islamic history, such as Dan Gibson) have concluded that, based on the GPS direction of ancient mosques, and the direction they faced, the original direction of prayer in 610, was Jerusalem. Sura 2:143-150 of the Quran says the direction of the Qibla was changed (in 624CE), but doesn’t say where to. Dan Gibson maintains, on the archaeological evidence, that it was changed to Petra (Reqem). The qibla (niche in a wall indicating the direction of prayer) of mosques from 610CE was Jerusalem; in 624CE, the qibla was Petra; in 706, it was between Petra and Mecca (between the Umayyad spiritual centre and the Zubayr centre); by 772, it was mostly Mecca, and after 876, it was only Mecca. According to Jacob of Edesssa, writing in 705CE, the direction of the Kaaba to which the ‘Mahgraye’ (Arabs) prayed was not to the south (Crone-Cook 1977:24) – i.e. not towards Mecca.

Mosques that point to Petra: (see Dan Gibson’s ‘Early Islamic Qiblas’ (2017): the following 20 Mosques point to Petra (within 2.9 degrees of accuracy): Mosque of the Qiblatayin, Medina (626CE), Great Mosque of Guangzhou China (627CE), Cherman Juma Masjid, India (629CE), Jami Hama al’Kabir, Syria (637CE), Fustat Mosque in Cairo (642CE), Kufa Mosque in Iraq (670CE), Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem (691CE), Humeina Mosque, Jordan (699CE), Amman Umayyad Mosque, Jordan (701CE), Grand Mosque, Sa’na, Yemen (705CE), Khirbet Al Minya Mosque, Israel (706CE), Masjid I Tariq Khana Damghan, Iran (708CE), Al Aqsa, Jerusalem (709CE), Khirbet al Mafjar, Jericho, Israel (714CE), Anjar Palace Mosque, Lebanon (714CE), Mushatta Mosque, Amman, Jordan (743CE), Sahi Ramdhah Bowhar, Oman (771CE), Suma’il Omani Mosque, Oman (771CE), Bibi Samarkan, Uzbekistan (773CE). The earliest Mosques directly facing Mecca (within 4.78 degrees of accuracy): Banbhore Mosque, Pakistan (727CE), Amman Citadel Mosque, Jordan (730CE), Qasr Ukhaydir, Iraq (764CE)

Evidence for the City of Petra as the city that is being described: Petra has all the geographical features mentioned in the Hadiths that Mecca lacks; Petra has 2 parallel valleys [Ibn Ishaq Al Bukhari 2:645, 2:685, 3:891, 2:815, 2:820, 4:227], it has a stream [Al Bukhari 2:685], it is nearer to Lot’s pillar of salt; it has fields [Al Bukhari 9:337]; it has trees, grass, fruit, loam [Sahih Al Tirmidhi 1535, Al Bukhari 4:281, 9:337, al Tabari VI 1079 p.6]; it has olive trees, and mountains. Also, the people of Ad, Thamud and Midian mentioned in the Quran, are all much nearer to Petra than they are to Mecca.

No archaeological evidence in Mecca: There is no archaeological evidence of habitation in Mecca before the early 8th century CE (no buildings, not even artefacts); the earliest written reference to Mecca is in 741CE (‘Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius Continuatio Byzantia Arabia’; Crone 1987, pp 134-136, Hoyland 1997, p.426); Mecca does not appear on any map until 900CE.

History of the period:

Siege of ‘Mecca’ (Petra) 683CE, when Abdullah ibn Zubayr, the governor of Petra, rebelled against Abd al Malik the caliph of the Umayyads in Damascus;

Zubayr destroyed the Kaaba (Al Tabari 20:537), the black rock was taken to Hijaz, he allied himself with the Abbasids of Baghdad.

Zubayr died in 691CE, (Dan Gibson says that the Kaaba was destroyed and the stone moved in the Islamic year 70 (689 CE), because in Al Tabari’s accounts of each Islamic year {A History of Islam, Vol 20}, the account for year 70 is only a few lines long (the account could have been deleted, because it contained an account of the move, and the fact of the move had to be expunged from history);

the Abbasids handed the stone back in c.706CE, and took it to Mecca, when it was set in a new Kaaba there.

In the Islamic year 89 HE (708 CE), the direction of prayer officially changed (a sign was hung in mosques to indicate the new direction of prayer).

Petra was destroyed by an earthquake in 713CE, so they needed a new religious centre.

There is also a very good YouTube video on the subject:

Dan Gibson’s ‘The Sacred City’

 

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