Sunday, March 7, 2010

My Reaction Paper During College: The World of Jesus

Reading about the world of Jesus made me feel that I‘m in his time. That I was there when he preached, perform miracles, etc.
I pictured out the Palestine, the land where most of the great events in the bible took place. I learned the different Jewish provinces such as Judea, where Jesus was born and died; Galilee, where Jesus grew up and began hi mission; and Perea, which the gospel refer to as “beyond Jordan’. There were also non- Jewish provinces such as Samaria, where Jesus cured the ten lepers, the Decapolis, Phoenicia, Philip’s Tetrarchy and Idumea.
Jesus’ hometown was like a usual town. There were streets where villagers greeting each other Shalom!, kissing each other as friendly gesture, children playing and many more. For their recreation, they did not attend public entertainment because they were forbidden to mix with the Gentiles likewise they played their own games. I was surprised to know that the people in Jesus time have also their local well or fountain as a meeting place for gossips. They were carpenter’s shops, schools and many more.
I found out that the children learn through studying the Law. They learn reading, writing, geography and history. They also learn writing with a stylus on waxed tablet.
The synagogue was the main building of the village and the meeting place of the people every Sabbath. They come there to pray and listen to the Word. At the end of the service, each person dropped his contribution to the collection box as he left the synagogue.
The Jerusalem temple was the center of Israel’s sacrificial worship. It was divided into seven parts. There is the Porch of Solomon, the Court of Gentiles, Court of Women, Council of Israel, Court of Priests, The Holy place and The Holy of Holies, the most sacred part of the sanctuary where no one was allowed to enter except the high priest during the Day of Atonement. the overall in charge of the temple services was the high priest including the exclusive function of entering the Holy of Holies.
A Jewish typical house was made of stones held together by mud and straw. The house had a single low door and lacked windows. Except for a low table, they don’t have other furniture like chairs, bed etc.
I was amazed to know that Jewish life as a whole was interwoven with prayer. They have Shema and the 18 Blessings, which a Jew had to recite morning, noon and afternoon. They also observed 3 major religious feasts such as the Passover, Pentecost and the Feats of the Tabernacle.
There were also religious groups in Palestine. The Sadducees where mostly belonged to the priestly class and the wealthy; the Pharisees, known for their strict observance of the Lawn and severe penance; the Scribes, those who were well- versed in the Law; and the Essenes, who were mostly celibates. Other groups were the Zealots, Herodians, the Poor and the Outcasts.
I felt sorry to know that the Jews lived the hard life of a colonized country. They were under the Roman rule since 63 B.C. the Roman vassal ruling Palestine was Herod the Great. The Jews hated him for his cleverness, ambition and cruelty. He was nearing his end when Jesus was born. He died in Jericho before the Passover in 4 B.C. After his death, the Palestine was divided among his 3 sons: Archelaus, who received Idumea, Judea and Samaria; Herod Antipas, who received the Galilee and Perea; and Philip, who received Gaulanitis, Iturea, Balanea, Trachometea and Auranitis.
Because of Archelaus wicked qualities, he was deposed in his position. Emperor Augustus decreed that the Roman procurator would govern the province. The procurator’s main job was to collect taxes, to ensure internal peace, to appoint and depose high priest, to confirm all death sentences and to report all developments of Rome.
The most known and familiar to me was Pontius Pilate who handed Jesus to be crucified.
There were also other rulers such as Herod Agrippa I who was a personal friend of the emperor and reigned over all the territories of his uncles. He was the first to persecute the early Christians. Herod Agrippa II on the other hand was only 17 when his father Agrippa I died. So he did not inherit his father’s territory as a whole. He had a little influence on the Jews.
The actual ruler of Palestine between the de3ath of Agrippa I and the outbreak of the first revolt were the Roman procurators who gave little consideration to Jews. On such notorious procurators was Felix, after him came Festus, and the last and the worst was Florus.
The Jews suffered a lot under Roman control. For me, it seems that they were being punished for their sins and for what they have done to Jesus. But still, I pity them because they were still the Chosen People and beloved children of God.

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