Brian: Excuse me. Are you the Judean People’s Front?
Reg: F**k off! We’re the People’s Front of Judea.
Reg: If you want to join the People’s Front of Judea, you have to really hate the Romans.
Brian: I do!
Reg: Oh yeah, how much?
Brian: A lot!
Reg: Right, you’re in.
-Life of Brian, Monty Python
I am a Christian and while reading the Old Testament, I am sometimes alarmed by how much the Israelites sound like what we call Middle Eastern terrorists. I first noticed this when a newcaster mentioned that the Taliban fought in the spring, but not in the winter.
I remembered this from 2 Samuel 11:1
“In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites…”
So I re-read Chronicles and was further alarmed that the Davidic kingdom only lasted eighty years before it fell apart due to internal conflicts and eventually Civil War. Then I researched Palestine just before Jesus’ birth and quite frankly, it was a mess.
To get rid of the Greeks, the Macabees, those great Jewish heroes that gave us Hannukah, staged a revolt. Then they set up the Hasmonean dynasty, which rampaged around the area, annexing territory, forcing people to convert to Judaism and be circumcised and crucifying thousands of dissenters.
The Hasmoneans killed each other, too, in an inter-tribal bloodbath that also lasted for eighty years. This was stopped only when one side asked the Romans to intervene, which they did. Being good imperialists, the Romans stayed and exacted tribute for their protection. Welcome to the world, Jesus.
The zealots still wanted to fight-to throw the Romans out and set up the kingdom again. When Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world, he ticked a lot of them off. That, and maybe his calling the elite “the children of the devil.” The Jews did revolt a couple more times before the Romans killed a whole bunch of them and threw the troublemakers out of Palestine.
Now I have to wonder if the troublemakers have come back to Palestine, which is what many Rabbis are saying. They seem to have the same goal in mind-to set up the kingdom of David and turn everyone else into “hewers of wood and drawers of water.” Will they last for eighty years? Time will tell.