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Emet m'Tsiyon

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Menorah: From Jerusalem to the Roman "Peace Temple"

One of the problems of peace is what it means to different peoples, religions, cultures, states and governments, and international organizations. Another problem is whether peace is a value for them. For instance, peacemaking with Arabs and other Muslims is problematic because they actually do not believe in peace as such --at least not with non-Muslims, infidels, unbelievers, kufar. Their religion teaches them to fight a perpetual war against the kufar until the lands of the unbelievers --called Dar al-Harb [House of War in Arabic]-- are fully under Muslim control and Muslim law [shari`ah] prevails over the whole world. In Muslim teaching Muslims are in a state of cosmic peace with other Muslims. But in practice, Muslims are quite willing to slaughter other Muslims, especially for religious reasons. Consider Algeria and Iraq. In Iraq, Sunni Muslims have been slaughtering Shi`ite Muslims since 2003 when it appeared that the new dispensation brought to Iraq by the Americans would put the Shi`ites [the majority of Iraqis] in power, a situation intolerable to Sunnis who view Shi`ites as heretics. These acts of slaughter have been labelled "insurgency" by most of the world's "Left" and by the media, two agencies of mass indoctrination of the world population. In Algeria, Sunni Muslim fanatics have slaughtered up to 150,000 fellow Sunni Muslims in a civil war going on since 1991. In Pakistan, a state formed for the Muslims of India, there are regular slaughters perpetrated by Sunnis against Shi`ite mosques. Meanwhile, the world's foremost Shi`ite politician, Ahmadinajad of Iran, is building an atomic bomb and threatens to destroy the Jews of Israel. So much for peace with Arabs and Muslims.

Ancient Rome saw peace as victory, not compromise. When Rome defeated the Jews and destroyed the Jews' Jerusalem Temple in the year 70 CE, they brought the holy objects from the Temple to Rome and had them carried in a victory procession by Jewish captives. Afterwards, some of the holy objects were placed in a "Peace Temple" in Rome. Yes, it was called the Temple of Peace (Templum Paci). And that is where the menorah [candelabrum] of the Temple was placed after it had been carried in the procession as we see on the Arch of Titus to this day. The Arch is a graphic reminder of that historic event, the destruction of the Temple.

Before continuing about the Roman "Peace Temple," let's recall last night's performance by Iranian Nazi Ahmadinajad at the UN. He actually spoke rather moderately, at least for him. He attacked British and American imperialism [the Nazis too condemned British imperialism, by the way], which apparently doesn't bother the British or American governments very much since they haven't objected very strongly to what he said. When evaluating Ahmadinajad's remarks, we ought to bear in mind that when Goebbels came to the League of Nations assembly in Geneva in the fall of 1933, in Hitler's first year in power, he declared that Germany under Hitler was devoted to peace, democracy, and all the liberal goodies [see books by Genevieve Tabouis, author of They Called Her Cassandra, and several books in French]. So we should not assume that Ahmadinajad has dropped his Nazi, mass-murderous urges. However, allowing the Iranian fanatic to appear moderate before world public opinion, while he continues to prepare war and work on building nuclear bombs, is just another problem caused by the UN. It allows Ahmadinajad to create a sympathetic climate among public opinion --especially in the United States and among the so-called "left"-- while he can continue to prepare for aggression, thus aiding his war effort. This danger of the UN serving warmongers was explained by Abraham Yeselson and Anthony Gaglione in their book on the UN, A Dangerous Place [quoted in a previous post].

Josephus Flavius, a Jewish aristocrat who helped to prepare the revolt against Rome, then was captured and turned coat, wrote the most important book on the subject still extant. Flavius is the clan name of the family of emperors who had conquered Judea. Josephus added Flavius to his name while they were his patrons. His Hebrew name was Yosef ben Matityahu. In his book, The Jewish War, he describes the Roman triumphal procession for Titus, Vespasian, and Domitian [the Flavians] in Book VII:v:3-6. In Book VII:v:7 he mentions the Peace Temple.

After these triumphs [victory processions] were over. . . Vespasian resolved to build a temple to Peace, which he finished in a short time, and in so glorious a manner, as was beyond all human expectation and opinion. For he having now by Providence a vast quantity of wealth [looted from the Jerusalem Temple], besides what he had formerly gained in his other exploits, he had this temple adorned with pictures and statues; for in this temple were collected and deposited all such rarities as men aforetime used to wander all over the habitable world to see, when they had a desire to see them one after another. He also laid up therein, as ensigns [symbols] of his glory, those golden vessels and instruments that were taken out of the Jewish temple [in Jerusalem]. But still he gave order that they should lay up their law, and the purple veils of the holy place, in the royal palace itself, and keep them there. [Whiston translation].
One of the vessels mentioned was the golden menorah [candelabrum] of the Temple. By "their law," Josephus probably is referring to Torah Scrolls. The "purple veils" refers to curtains used in the Temple. These scrolls and curtains were kept in the royal palace, separate from the other holy objects. It is clear that the Peace Temple was more of a victory temple than a peace temple. It was devoted to --among other things-- the humiliation and defeat and despoiling of the Jews. This temple was a monument to a successful war. The name demonstrates how peace can mean very many different things to different people. It reminds us of what the Roman historian Tacitus once said about his own nation:
Where they create desolation, they call it peace

Ubi faciunt solitudinem, appellant pacem
[Tacitus, Vita Agricolae, cap. x; Life of Agricola, chap 10]

Indeed, one should always be careful about how the word "peace" is being used. Need we say that if the Romans could play semantic tricks with the word pax [peace], perhaps quite sincerely, then surely the Arabs too can play such tricks, and even the West can do it.
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Coming: What do scholars believe happened to the golden Menorah of the Temple?; more on Jews in Jerusalem, Jews in Hebron, etc.


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