Ignis de Caelo, Velikovsky and Sennacherib’s 185,000

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by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

A reader has written to me: “I understand the skepticism regarding “Worlds in Collision”. Many of Velikovsky ideas are outdated, with the exception of the electrical aspects. “The angel of the Lord went forth, and smote the camp of the Assyrians, . . , they were all dead corpses”. (Isaiah 37:36, King James).

 

Hello Damien,

 

I came across [your] thesis on “A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah” regarding your explanation of the demise of Sennacherib’s army. However the story on the heroine Judith is completely different from Jno Cook’s clarification by the event of an Ignis Coeli. [Recovering the Lost World, A Saturnian Cosmology].

Read: http://saturniancosmology.org/quet.php. Chapter “A Blast From Heaven”.
It is all about the electrical characteristics of the universe. It is quite an e-book to read and study, but most interesting.

…. [an electrical engineer from the Netherlands].

 

My reply:

 

…. If you read Isaiah (likely also the Book of Joel) on events surrounding the Assyrian invasion, and the demise of the army, it was clearly a rout. No mention of the planet Mars.

 

Nor is there any mention of Venus playing a rogue rôle (as according to Velikovsky) during the Plagues of Egypt and Exodus.

I personally think that it is all science fiction – but it makes for interesting reading.

Damien
Sydney, Australia.

 

Second message:

 

…. Thanks for your quick response.

 

Regarding the demise of Sennacherib’s army, the Ignis Coeli was generated by the inner planet Mercurius [Mercury].

 

I understand the skepticism regarding “Worlds in Collison”. Many of Velikovsky ideas are outdated, with the exception of the electrical aspects. “The angel of the Lord went forth, and smote the camp of the Assyrians, . . , they were all dead corpses”. (Isaiah 37:36, King James).

 

The events before and during the Exodus (1492 BC) can be explained by a line-up of the Sun, Venus and Earth, causing electrical, not gravitational, events.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJ7rbU64-2s

 

Also the “10 degrees backward” event (Isaiah 38:8) can be explained by electrical forces between planets. See chapter 26 of Jno Cook’s book.

 

[In] my view one has to examine such events by various disciplines: history, geophysics, cosmogony, physics, linguistics, etc.

….

 

My second reply:

 

How clever of that electrical event of yours (of Jno Cook’s) to have been able to zap, in just one perfect hit, “all” (as you suggest from Isaiah 37:36) 185,000 men of Sennacherib’s Assyrian army!

And yet apparently doing no harm whatsoever to the nearby people of Israel, nor causing any other massive natural devastations.

That Hebrew word, kol (כֹּל), “all” (here kulam, כֻלָּם), has been the downfall of many (perhaps more than 185,000) would-be interpreters, leading Creationists, for instance, to posit a global Flood – and vastly to over-extend other biblical incidents whose context clearly indicates these to have been purely localised.

 

There is much confusion surrounding what happened to Sennacherib’s army.

Herodotus, for one, managed to mangle it completely, and re-locate it to Pelusium in Egypt (http://www.varchive.org/tac/lastcamp.htm):

 

“Herodotus (II. 141) relates this event and gives a version he heard from the Egyptians when he visited their land two and a half centuries after it happened. When Sennacherib invaded Pelusium, the priest-king Sethos went with a weak army to defend the frontier. In a single night hordes of field mice overran the Assyrian camp, devoured quivers, bowstrings and shield handles, and put the Assyrian army to flight”.

 

The agent of the disaster for Assyria here are “field mice”, not electrical zapping, and rightly does Herodotus mention “flight”. Cf. Judith 14:12 (Douay version): ‘Go in, and awake [“Holofernes”], for the mice coming out of their holes, have presumed to challenge us to fight’.

Perhaps the swarm of field mice, suddenly attracted to electricity, quickly completed the job on the spot!

The Chaldean historian, Berosus, as quoted by Josephus, tells of “a pestilential distemper”:

 

“Now when Sennacherib was returning from his Egyptian war to Jerusalem, he found his army under Rabshakeh his general in danger [by a plague], for God had sent a pestilential distemper upon his army; and on the very night of the siege, a hundred fourscore and five thousand, with their captains and generals, were destroyed” (Antiquities 10.1.5).

 

In a retrospective Assyrian record we read the peculiar entry:

https://www.varchive.org/tac/esarh.htm

 

“‘In the sixth year the troops of Assyria went to Egypt; they fled before a storm’. This laconic item in the short “Esarhaddon Chronicle” was written more than one hundred years after his death; if it does not refer to the debacle of Sennacherib, one may conjecture that at certain ominous signs in the sky the persistent recollection of the disaster which only a few years earlier had overtaken Sennacherib’s army, threw the army of his son into a panic”.

 

Further confusion (apart from the misinterpretation of the Hebrew kol) has arisen due to the fact that, as some commentators have correctly suspected, the Bible has telescoped two separate campaigns of Sennacherib.

The first of these, narrated in Isaiah 36:1-37:13, was completely successful for Sennacherib (his Third Campaign). The second, anticipated, and summarised in Isaiah 37:21-38, was when the Assyrian king lost a large part of his army.

All the things that Isaiah had foretold in the second instance that the king of Assyria would not manage to do (37:33-35):

 

“Therefore this is what the Lord says concerning the king of Assyria:

‘He will not enter this city
or shoot an arrow here.
He will not come before it with shield
or build a siege ramp against it.
By the way that he came he will return;
he will not enter this city’,
declares the Lord.
 “I will defend this city and save it,
for my sake and for the sake of David my servant!”

 

the Assyrian king had actually done in his cruel siege of Jerusalem during his Third Campaign!

Isaiah was here describing a last campaign (after Sennacherib had destroyed Babylon), soon after which the king of Assyria was assassinated by his sons.

The Book of Tobit gives the correct historical sequence of events: (i) Defeat and flight of the Assyrian army; (ii) Sennacherib soon killed; (iii) Esarhaddon succeeds.

However Tobit, in its current form, also telescopes Sennacherib’s Third Campaign, in Judah, when he blasphemed, by linking it immediately with the significantly later campaign, when his commander-in-chief was killed and the Assyrian army fled. Tobit 1:18-21:

 

“I also buried anyone whom Sennacherib slew when he returned as a fugitive from Judea during the days of judgment decreed against him by the heavenly King because of the blasphemies he had uttered. In his rage he killed many Israelites, but I used to take their bodies by stealth and bury them; so when Sennacherib looked for them, he could not find them. But a certain citizen of Nineveh informed the king that it was I who buried the dead. When I found out that the king knew all about me and wanted to put me to death, I went into hiding; then in my fear I took to flight. 20. Afterward, all my property was confiscated; I was left with nothing. All that I had was taken to the king’s palace, except for my wife Anna and my son Tobiah. But less than forty days later the king was assassinated by two of his sons, who then escaped into the mountains of Ararat. His son Esarhaddon, who succeeded him as king, placed Ahiqar, my brother Anael’s son, in charge of all the accounts of his kingdom, so that he took control over the entire administration“.

 

Now, if the kingdom of Assyria had really lost, in one big hit, all 185,000 of its best troops, how was Esarhaddon able, shortly afterwards, to become the potent military commander that he did, threatening the mighty city of Tyre; defeating the Cimmerians; then Urartu; then – of all things – invading Egypt?

 

“Esarhaddon’s first campaign against Egypt in 673 BCE failed. He had rushed his troops into battle and was repulsed by Pharaoh Tirhakah and Egyptian forces in the eastern delta. But according to the Ancient History Encyclopedia:

 

Esarhaddon learned from his mistake and, in 671 BCE, took his time and brought a much larger army slowly down through Assyrian territory and up to the Egyptian borders; then he ordered the attack. The Egyptian cities fell quickly to the Assyrians and Esarhaddon drove the army forward down the Nile Delta and captured the capital city of Memphis. Although Tirhakah escaped, Esarhaddon captured his son, wife, family, and most of the royal court and sent them, along with much of the population of Memphis, back to Assyria. He then placed officials loyal to him in key posts to govern his new territory [Lower Egypt] and returned to Nineveh.

 

By the following year Tirhakah had retaken Memphis, and the local officials came over to his side. Esarhaddon mounted a return but died enroute, leaving it to his son, Ashurbanipal, to secure Egypt for the Assyrian empire”.

 

There are other echoes of the great biblical incident in the Islamic account of the non-historical Prophet Mohammed, and in Judith’s strange c. 900 AD reflection in Queen Gudit (var. Judith).

I have previously written of these:

 

Abraha (Abrahas)

 

This is the one that really grabbed my attention. It is chronologically important because it is (unlike (a) and (b)) dated contemporaneously with Mohammed. In fact, it is dated to the very year of his birth, supposedly c. 570 AD. It is the account of a potentate’s march on Mecca, with the intention of destroying the Ka’aba. The whole thing, however, is entirely fictional, though it is based upon a real event: namely, the famous march upon Jerusalem by the forces of king Sennacherib of Assyria (c. 700 BC). The reference to “elephants” is irrelevant (or irrelephant) in the neo-Assyrian era.

 

As noted in (a), Mecca and Ka’aba ought to be re-read, in the context of Mohammed, as, respectively, Jerusalem and the Holy of Holies.

 

The legendary account is as follows (http://www.dacb.org/stories/ethiopia/_abraha.html):

 

‘Abraha (Ge’ez: ‘Abreha) also known as ‘Abraha al-Asram or Abraha b. as-Saba’h, was an Aksumite Christian ruler of Yemen.

….

A number of legends of popular origin have been woven around ‘Abraha’s name in Arab tradition which have not yet been substantiated. Of these traditions, the best-known concern the expedition against Mecca. At this period Mecca was the thriving center of the pagan cult of the Ka’aba and the pilgrim traffic was in the hands of the powerful Qurays family. Fired with Christian zeal, ‘Abraha set out to build a magnificent church at Sana’a to serve as a counter-attraction to the surrounding pagan peoples. This aroused the hostility of the Qurays who feared that the pilgrim traffic with its lucrative offerings would be diverted to Sana’a. It is sometimes said that one of their adherents succeeded in defiling the church and this led ‘Abraha to embark upon a campaign against Mecca. This event is associated in Islamic tradition with the year of the Prophet’s birth, c. 570 A.D. ‘Abraha is said to have used elephants in the campaign and the date is celebrated as the Year of the Elephant, ‘am al fil.’ An indirect reference to the event is found in Surah 105 of the Quran. ‘Abraha’s expedition probably failed due to the successful delaying tactics of the Qurays and pestilence broke out in the camp, which decimated his army and forced him to withdraw. Another tradition relates the expedition to an unsuccessful economic mission to the Qurays by ‘Abraha’s son.

….

No reliable information exists about the date of ‘Abraha’s death although tradition places it immediately after his expedition to Mecca. He was succeeded on the throne by two of his sons, Yaksum and Masruq, born to him by Raihäna, a Yemenite noblewoman whom ‘Abraha had abducted from her husband.

 

This is just one of many later versions, more or less accurate, of the invasion of Israel by the almost 200,000-strong army of Sennacherib. E.g., Sirach refers to it accurately in 14:18-25, as did Judas Maccabeus in 2 Maccabees 8:19. Herodotus managed to mangle it and re-locate it to Pelusium in Egypt.

…. “Pestilence”, or was it “field mice” [or was it an electrical ‘fault’]?

Actually, it was none of these.

The real story can be read in the Hebrew Book of Judith, a simplified account of which I have provided in my article:

 

“Nadin went into everlasting darkness”

https://www.academia.edu/7177604/_Nadin_went_into_everlasting_darkness_

 

As with the story of Mohammed, this wonderful victory for ancient Israel has been projected into AD time, now with the (possibly Jewish) heroine, “Gudit” (read Judith), defeating the Aksumites [Axumites] (read Assyrians), the Axumites being the same nation as ‘Abraha’s  (http://www.africaspeaks.com/reasoning/index.php?topic=1103.0;wap2):

 

Historian J.A. Rogers in the early 1900s identified Gudit as one in the
same with a black Hebrew Queen named Esther and associated her with the
“Falasha” Jewish dynasty that reigned from 950 to 1260AD. Many Falashas
today proudly claim her as one of their own.

Yet it is of dispute that Gudit was of the Jewish faith. And many in
fact believe she probably adhered to indigenous African-Ethiopian based
religion, hence her seemingly strong resentment towards a then
encroaching Judeo-Christian Axum.

Whatever her origins or real name, Gudit’s conquering of Axum put an end
to that nation-state’s reign of power. Her attack came so swift and
efficiently, that the Axumite forces were scattered in her army’s wake.

 

That sounds like the culmination of the Book of Judith!

 

There may be some true glimpses of Sennacherib in the account of the invasion by the forces of ‘Abraha. It was actually Sennacherib’s son (the “Nadin” above) who was killed by Judith, and we read above: “Another tradition relates the expedition to an unsuccessful economic mission … by ‘Abraha’s son”. And, as Sennacherib died shortly after his army’s demise, so: “No reliable information exists about the date of ‘Abraha’s death although tradition places it immediately after his expedition to Mecca”. And Sennacherib’s death occurred at the hands of two of his sons, whilst: “[‘Abraha] was succeeded on the throne by two of his sons …”. (http://www.the-faith.com/featured/abrahas-elephant-destruction-kabah/)

 

Moreover, Sennacherib had formerly sent up to Jerusalem his official, Rabshakeh (Isaiah 36:2): “Then the king of Assyria sent his field commander with a large army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem”. Similarly: “From Al-Maghmas [Michmash?], Abraha sent a man named Al-Aswad ibn Maqsud to the forefront of his army”. Now, the sarcastic Rabshakeh had taunted the officials of king Hezekiah with these words (v. 8): ‘Come now, make a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses—if you can put riders on them!’ In a dim reflection of this powerful incident, whilst reversing it, we find ‘Abraha’s man saying: “I have come to the House that is your religion and the religion of your fathers and that is your sanctuary and protection – for the purpose of destroying it. You do not speak to me about that, yet you speak to me about (a meager) 200 camels that belong to you!”

2000 horses reduced to a tenth and becoming 200 camels.

 

In a further connection with Assyria, with Nineveh, Mohammed is said to have encountered a young Christian from that famous city. One wonders, therefore, if Mohammed ought to be re-dated closer to c. 612 BC (when Nineveh was irrevocably destroyed), or, say (for symmetry), to c. 612 AD.

The Christian servant ‘Addas was greatly impressed by these words and said: “These are words which people in this land do not generally use.” The prophet (s) asked: “What land are you from, and what is your religion?” ‘Addas replied: “I am Christian by faith and come from Nineveh.” The prophet Muhammad (s) then said: “You belong to the city of the righteous Yunus (Jonah), son of Matta.”

Even more worryingly, perhaps, Mohammed claimed to be the very “brother” of the prophet Jonah: “’Addas asked him anxiously if he knew anything about Jonah. The prophet (s) significantly remarked: “He is my brother. He was a prophet and so am I.” Thereupon ‘Addas paid homage to Muhammad (s) and kissed his head, his hands and his feet”.

 

The angel mentioned by Judith (13:20, Douay version): ‘But as the same Lord liveth, his angel hath been my keeper both going hence [into the camp of the Assyrians], and abiding there, and returning from thence hither …’, is presumably the same one as referred to in Isaiah 37:36, who slew the Assyrians by the power of ‘… the Lord [who] will destroy them under your feet’ (Judith 14:5, Douay). But Judith herself was the courageous human instrument who set in motion the whole chain of events – and without having any recourse to electricity!

Enemies of Christianity declaring new war on religion

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Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun

CHRISTIANS, prepare for persecution. Open your eyes and choose stronger leaders for the dark days.

I am not a Christian, but I am amazed that your bishops and ministers are not warning you of what is already breaking over your heads.

How mad that Queensland’s Education Department can now warn schools against letting students praise Jesus in the playground.

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The department has put out reports telling state schools “to take appropriate action if aware that students participating in (religious instruction) are evangelising to students who do not participate”.

It gives examples of what students must not say in the playground — such as “knowing about Jesus is a very important thing”, or “God, please help us to use our knowledge to help others”.

Nor may students hand out Christmas cards or decorations.

What do these bureaucrats fear from children inspired by Christ?

Is it that stuff about loving your neighbour? Or that instruction to respect the dignity of every human life that makes Christians the enemy of totalitarians?

But this ban on playground talk of Jesus is only the most shocking salvo of the new war on Christians.

Pastor Campbell Markham is facing an anti-discrimination complaint arising from blog posts he wrote relating to the marriage debate. Picture: Peter Mathew

Last week, two Christian preachers were summoned to Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Tribunal for preaching their faith’s stand on traditional marriage and homosexuality.Hobart pastor Campbell Mark­ham and street preacher David Gee, from Hobart’s Cornerstone Church, were denounced by an atheist offended by, among other things, Markham quoting a verse from the Bible.We’ve seen this before. Hobart’s Catholic Archbishop, Julian Porteous, was two years ago ordered by this tribunal to tell by what right he spoke against same-sex marriage.

How cowed the churches have been before this looming persecution, now picking off vocal Christians, one by one.

Just this year, Sydney University’s Student Union threatened to deregister the university’s Evangelical Union unless it stopped insisting members declare their faith in Christ.

Meanwhile, same-sex marriage extremists bullied Coopers Brewery into taking down a video of a Christian MP Andrew Hastie debating same-sex marriage, and lobbied IBM, PwC and Sydney University to punish staff belonging to a Christian group opposed to gay marriage.

Last week, 70 pro-Safe Schools activists picketed a church to abuse people at an Australian Christian Lobby meeting as “bigots”.

A sign explaining why Coopers Beer is not being served at a hotel earlier this year. Picture: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Last year, an ACL meeting was cancelled after the hotel venue was bombarded with threats.The state-funded SBS joined in by banning an ad by Christians defending traditional marriage, yet ran one for an Ashley Madison dating service for adulterers.The Greens are the political wing of this attack on Christianity, and are demanding churches lose their legal freedom to hire only people who live by their faith.

The media, too, often cheer this war, using as their excuse the sexual abuse of children by some priests and ministers decades ago.

Rarely do they admit the average gap between the alleged offences by Catholic priests and the lodging of complaints is 33 years. That suggests the churches did crack down on paedophiles decades ago.

But this vilification has had its effect. The Census shows the proportion of Australians calling themselves Christian has dropped from 74 per cent in 1991 to 52 per cent now.

No wonder, when the weaker churches cower before the persecution.

Last week, some even licked the boots of the anti-Christian ABC when it launched yet another attack, smearing churches as the haven of wife-beaters.

Christians are more inclined to volunteer, donate and keep families together, surveys show. Picture: Brendan Radke.

This ABC series led off with a ludicrously false claim: “The men most likely to abuse their wives are evangelical Christians who attend church sporadically.”A week after I proved this untrue, the ABC edited its reports to replace that false claim with another: “Overall, the international studies indicate that intimate partner violence is just as serious a problem in Christian communities, as it is in the general community.”Wrong again. Professor Bradford Wilcox, author of the American study the ABC cited as proof, complained “the (ABC’s) story … does not square with the evidence that church­going couples, in America at least, appear to be less likely to suffer domestic violence”.

In fact, Christianity produce better citizens in many ways.

Surveys show Christians are more inclined to volunteer, donate and keep families together.

So what do the enemies of Christianity wish to achieve by smearing, silencing and destroying this civilising faith? What would they replace it with?

With the atheism that preaches every man for himself? With Islam?

Or with the green faith that has not inspired a single hospital, hospice, school, or even soup kitchen?

Yet the persecution is starting. Are the churches ready?

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….

Taken from: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/andrew-bolt/enemies-of-christianity-declaring-new-war-on-religion/news-story/043ebd5d04cf40934e983d391d5658bd

Pope Francis: Suicide bombers are not ‘martyrs’

Yadda yan kunar bakin wake ta rungumi wani mutum kafin tada bam (Karanta)

The pontiff says true martyrs do not harm others as he addresses frequent attacks against Christian minorities.

28 Jun 2017 13:44 GMT

Pope has demanded Muslim leaders reject committing violence in God’s name [Vincenzo Pinto/AFP]

Pope Francis has repudiated the idea that suicide bombers can be considered “martyrs”, saying true martyrs do not harm others but rather are meek, honest and persecuted for their faith as true children of God.
“Christians are repelled by the idea that suicide bombers can be called ‘martyrs’. They are not martyrs. There’s nothing in them that can be even close to the attitude of children of God,” he said on Wednesday during his weekly catechism lesson in the Vatican.

Thousands of displaced Iraqi Christians afraid to return

The pontiff has frequently raised the issue amid attacks against Christian minorities in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Francis has lamented that there are more Christian martyrs today than in the times of the early church.
The latest attack against Christians took place in Egypt’s Tanta and Alexandria cities in April when two churches were blown up, killing at least 45 people.
The responsibility for the attacks against the country’s Coptic Christians were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.
ISIL also said it was behind a Cairo church bombing in December that killed 29 people.

….
Taken from: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/pope-francis-suicide-bombers-martyrs-170628131631576.html

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Gunmen kill 28 Coptic Christians on buses bound for Egyptian monastery

Three bodies lie covered in the desert in front of ambulances and bystanders.

Related Story: Egypt declares state of emergency after church bombings kill 44

Related Story: Who are Egypt’s Coptic Christians and why are they persecuted?
Related Story: Trump welcomes Egypt’s Sisi despite human rights concerns
 
Masked gunmen have attacked a group of Coptic Christians in southern Egypt, killing at least 28 people and wounding 25 others as they were driving to a monastery, the country’s Health Ministry said.

Key points:

  • 26 killed, 25 wounded as militants attacked buses
  • Group of Coptic Christians was travelling to a monastery
  • Muslim leaders including Hamas have condemned the attacks

The group was travelling in two buses and a small truck on Friday in Minya province, which is home to a sizeable Christian minority, medical sources and eyewitnesses said.

Eyewitnesses said the Copts were attacked as they were going to pray at the monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in the western part of the province.
They said masked men stopped the vehicles on a road leading to the monastery and opened fire.
One of the vehicles attacked was taking men to carry out maintenance work at the monastery while another was carrying children, officials said.
The Health Ministry said among those injured were two children aged two.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
However it bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State, which has been spearheading an insurgency that has carried out deadly attacks in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and, increasingly, on the country’s mainland.

Egypt launches airstrikes

Egypt responded by launching airstrikes against what it said were militant training bases in Libya.
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi announced the retaliatory action hours after the bus was riddled with machine-gun fire on a remote desert road by suspected Islamic State militants riding in three SUVs.
“What you’ve seen today will not go unpunished. An extremely painful strike has been dealt to the bases. Egypt will never hesitate to strike terror bases anywhere,” Mr el-Sissi said.
He also appealed to US President Donald Trump to lead the global war against terror.
Muslim leaders, including the militant Palestinian group Hamas, which is seeking to improve relations with neighbouring Egypt, condemned the attack.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum in a statement called the shooting “an ugly crime,” of which “the enemies of Egypt” were the only beneficiaries.
The grand imam of al-Azhar, Egypt’s 1,000-year-old centre of Islamic learning, said the attack was intended to destabilise the country.

Targeting of Coptic Christians continues

The Coptic church said it had received news of the killing of its “martyrs” with pain and sorrow.
Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 per cent of Egypt’s population of 92 million, have been the subject of a series of deadly attacks in recent months.
About 70 have been killed in bomb attacks on churches in the cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Tanta since December.
Those attacks were claimed by Islamic State.

Reuters/AP


….
Taken from: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-26/gunmen-kill-26-coptic-christians-in-egypt/8564934

Pope Francis arrives in Egypt on historic visit

A man rides a bicycle past a billboard with an image of Pope Francis April 26 ahead of the pontiff's April 28-29 visit to Cairo. (CNS photo/Amr Abdallah Dalsh, Reuters)

Catholic pontiff’s two-day visit is aimed at fostering peace between the Muslim and Christian-minority community.

28 Apr 2017 16:04 GMT

Pope Francis said violence cannot be committed in the name of God, in a speech at a Muslim-Christian conference in Egypt.
The 80-year-old touched down at Cairo airport on Friday before he was ushered in a car to meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Francis is in Egypt on a 27-hour visit to push for dialogue with Muslims and support the country’s embattled Christian minority that has suffered a series of attacks.
“Peace alone … is holy and no act of violence can be perpetrated in the name of God, for it would profane his name,” the Catholic pontiff said.

Pope Francis stands next to Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar [Andreas Solaro/AFP]
Pope Francis stands next to Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar [Andreas Solaro/AFP]
He also warned against rising populism.
“Demagogic forms of populism are on the rise. These certainly do not help to consolidate peace and stability,” he told the conference, organised by al-Azhar, the world’s foremost Sunni Islamic centre of learning.
“It is essential that we spare no effort in eliminating situations of poverty and exploitation, where extremism more easily takes root, and in blocking the flow of money and weapons destined to those who provoke violence.”
Acts that do not promote peace are “a gift to the proponents of radicalism and violence”, the pope said.
Amid high security, the pontiff is meeting with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Imam of the government-run Al-Azhar mosque and an Islamic philosophy professor, before meeting with Sisi and Pope Tawadros II, the head of Egypt’s Coptic Church.
Egypt has been under a state of emergency since two bombings in Coptic churches earlier this month that killed 45 people.
All of the country’s churches have been placed under additional protection because of the risk of another assault timed to coincide with Francis being in the country.
The most recent attacks have been claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group, which has warned of further attacks against Egypt’s Coptic Christians and on the Vatican.
Armoured cars have been stationed in front of the presidential palace and security men have been posted every hundred yards along a 20km stretch between the airport and central Cairo.
The Pope is also going to meet Coptic Pope Tawadros II.
Egypt’s Copts, who make up about 10 percent of the country’s population of 92 million, are the Middle East’s largest Christian minority and one of the oldest.
The two men are due to walk together to the Coptic church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the heart of Cairo, which was hit by a bomb attack in December claimed by ISIL that killed 29 people.
The attack was the deadliest targeting the Coptic community since the 2011 suicide bombing that killed 23 people in Alexandria.

On Saturday, the pontiff will preside over a mass for the country’s small Catholic community, estimated to number around 272,000 spread across various rites.
Egypt has seen a wave of attacks against Christians since 2013, when the military led by Sisi overthrew President Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president.
For decades, Christians have complained of discrimination, saying they are denied top jobs in many fields, including academia and the security forces.
They have also accused the security forces of failing to do enough to protect them from “religious extremists”, a complaint that has persisted under Sisi’s rule.

….
Taken from: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/04/pope-francis-arrives-egypt-historic-day-visit-170428113013811.html

Pope Francis goes to Egypt as a “messenger of peace”

Egyptian Coptic Christians protest attacks on Christians and churches, in front of the state television building in Cairo.

April 25, 2017

Pope Francis said he wants his visit to Egypt “to be a witness of my affection, comfort and encouragement for all the Christians of the Middle East, a message of friendship and respect for all the inhabitants of Egypt and the region, and a message of brotherhood and reconciliation with all the children of Abraham, particularly the Muslim world” in a video message to the Egyptian people released on Tuesday ahead of his April 28-29 visit to the country.

Pope Francis goes to Egypt as a “messenger of peace”

An altar boy holds a candle during a service at Saint Cyrill Greek Catholic Church, in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, April 23, 2017. Pope Francis is scheduled to make a two-day pilgrimage to Egypt this week. (Credit: Amr Nabil/AP.)

ROME — Pope Francis has sent a video message to the people of Egypt ahead of this weekend’s two day visit to the country, saying he hopes his trip “will make a fruitful contribution to interreligious dialogue with the followers of Islam and to ecumenical dialogue with the venerable and beloved Coptic Orthodox Church.”

On Friday, April 28, the pope will participate in an international peace conference taking place at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, which is the most prominent institution in the Sunni world.

Francis will join Pope Tawadros II, the head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, and Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of the worldwide Orthodox Communion (which does not include the Coptic Church), to present a united Christian front at the meeting, which Al-Azhar said was called to encourage “respect instead of rejecting each other, to live in peace instead of fighting, and to tolerate instead of being fanatical.”

On Saturday, April 29, Francis will celebrate Mass for the local Catholic community before flying home to Rome in the late afternoon.

In his video message, released on Tuesday, the pope said he was coming as “a friend, as a messenger of peace, and a pilgrim” to Egypt.

He noted Egypt was  “the land where Patriarchs and Prophets lived, and where God, Benevolent and Merciful, the Almighty and One God, made his voice heard,” and was the place which “gave refuge and hospitality to the Holy Family as they fled the threats of King Herod.

“I would like this visit to be a witness of my affection, comfort and encouragement for all the Christians of the Middle East, a message of friendship and respect for all the inhabitants of Egypt and the region, and a message of brotherhood and reconciliation with all the children of Abraham, particularly the Muslim world, in which Egypt holds so important a place,” Francis said. “I would also hope that my visit will make a fruitful contribution to interreligious dialogue with the followers of Islam and to ecumenical dialogue with the venerable and beloved Coptic Orthodox Church.”

Francis also referenced a spate of violence which has left dozens of people dead over the past weeks in Egypt, including twin bombings at two churches in Tanta and Alexandria, which left at least 45 people dead.

Egyptian police later arrested 13 people who were planning attacks against Christians and public institutions in the country.

“Our world is torn by blind violence, a violence that has also struck the heart of your beloved land,” the pontiff said in his video message.

“Our world needs peace, love and mercy,” Francis continued, “it needs peacemakers, people who are free and who set others free, men and women of courage who can learn from the past in order to build the future, free of every form of prejudice.  Our world needs people who can build bridges of peace, dialogue, fraternity, justice and humanity.”

Pope Francis will show his solidarity with the victims of anti-Christian violence on Friday, when he and Tawadros will visit the church of Sts. Peter and Paul, which had been bombed during a  Mass in December 2016, leaving 24 people dead and dozens of others injured.

The Vatican spokesman, Greg Burke, on Monday said that although heavy security is the “new normal,” Francis will not use an armored car during his visit to Egypt.

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Taken from: https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2017/04/25/pope-francis-goes-egypt-messenger-peace/

Scholar Suggests Mohammed’s ‘Uncle’ may be the biblical Omri

King Ahab

  

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

Further possible confirmation that the Prophet Mohammed, a non-historical character, is a biblical composite.

 

The biography of the Prophet Mohammed has borrowed so many of its bits and pieces from the Bible (Old and New Testaments) that it is no wonder that Mohammed has been portrayed as a most remarkable kind of man (verging on a superman), having such a breathtaking career.

The real miracle is that scholars down through the ages have been able to compile a coherent life of the man. The downside of it is – apart from religious implications – that it is historically a complete shambles. Better to view the whole thing as a marvellous work of fiction. Now, a Turkish writer, Ercan Celik, believes that he has traced the so-called “uncle” of Mohammed, to the biblical king Omri of Israel (https://iqsaweb.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/celik_abu-lahab-jezebel/):

 

Who were Abu Lahab and His Wife? A View from the Hebrew Bible

by

Ercan Celik*

 

In The Qur’an and Its Biblical Subtext, G. S. Reynolds observes that

…scholars of the Qur’an accept the basic premise of the medieval Islamic sources that the Qur’an is to be explained in light of the life of the Prophet Muhammad…

However, he proposes that critical Qur’anic scholarship not depend on prophetic biography (sīrah) or traditional Qur’anic exegesis (tafsīr), but rather,

the Qur’an should be appreciated in light of its conversation with earlier literature, in particular Biblical literature…This argument necessarily involves an examination of both the relationship of Muslim exegetical literature to the Qur’an and the relationship of the Qur’an to Biblical literature.

 

Sūrat al-Masad (Q 111) offers a valuable example for how a Biblical perspective can augment our understanding of the Qur’anic text. The text of the sūrah names its main character Abu Lahab, and mentions that he has a wife, but does not provide any further identifying information. Only extra-Qur’anic literature can give us more details about who he was. In this blog post, I compare how he may be identified through the Islamic literary sources and through the Hebrew Bible.

 

Abu Lahab In Islamic Literature

Abu Lahab, meaning “the father of flame,” is identified as the uncle of the prophet Muhammad, ʿAbd al-ʿUzza ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib, nicknamed Abu Lahab on account of his reddish complexion. He is said to have been a rich and proud man, and he and his wife Umm Jamil, sister of Abu Sufyan, are depicted as fierce enemies of Muhammad and the early Muslim community. There are many anecdotes in the Islamic literary sources about their verbal and physical attacks on the prophet. Some Qur’an commentators say that Umm Jamil used to litter Muhammad’s path with harmful thorns of twisted palm leaf fibres, and that this is the historical context for the final verse of Sūrat al-Masad: “Will have upon her neck a halter of palm-fibre” (Q 111:5).

 

Abu’l-Ahab in Biblical Literature

In searching the Hebrew Bible for a wicked man whose name resembles Abu Lahab, one finds Ahab (Hebrew: אַחְאָב), the seventh kings of ancient Israel (r. ca. 885-874 BCE), son of King Omri and husband of Jezebel of Sidon. We could read “Abu Lahab” alternatively, and without substantial change, as “Abu’l-Ahab,” father of Ahab. According to the Hebrew Bible, the father of Ahab is Omri, who is described in 1 Kings 16:25 as having acted “more wickedly than all who were before him.” His son Ahab, in his own time, “married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him . . . Thus Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:31-33).

 

Frederic Leighton, “Jezebel and Ahab,” ca. 1863, Scarborough Art Gallery; image from Wikimedia Commons.

 

As for Jezebel, it is said that she ordered the killing of prophets (1 Kings 18:4). The prophet Elijah escaped her persecution and with God’s command confronted Ahab with a challenge to the priests of Baal: “You call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord; the god who answers by fire is indeed God” (18:24). The supporters of Baal called upon their god to send fire to consume their sacrifice, but nothing happened. When Elijah called upon the name of the Lord, fire came down from heaven immediately and consumed their offering.

Eventually Ahab in killed in battle, and when Elisha, successor to the prophet Elijah, anoints Jehu king of Israel, the latter had the house of Ahab killed. Jezebel was captured by her enemies, thrown out of a window, trampled by a horse, and her flesh eaten by dogs.

 

A Comparison of the Qur’anic and Biblical Characters

 

There are some significant parallels between the qur’anic character of Abu Lahab and the biblical character of Abu’l-Ahab. To illustrate these, let us evaluate Sūrat al-Masad in light of the biblical account:

 

  • May the hands of Abu Lahab [Abu’l-Ahab] be ruined and ruined is he. The biblical story of Ahab fits well with this verse, in both linguistic and narrative/thematic terms. The father is invoked for ruin. Omri was the first person to introduce the worship of Baal in Israel, for which his progeny are to be ruined. In Qur’anic Arabic terminology, hands (here, yadā) are symbolic of power and of progeny. The fate of Omri’s progeny is pronounced not so much in the tafsir literature as in the biblical texts.
  • His wealth will not avail him or that which he gained. The Ahab of the Bible seems to have had greater wealth than the Abu Lahab of Islamic tradition; his great wealth failed to prevent his demise by God’s command.
  • He will [enter to] burn in a Fire of [blazing] flame. Hellfire is an eschatalogical concept associated with unbelief, especially with the sort of idolatry instituted by Omri and Ahab.
  • And his wife [as well]—the carrier of firewood. The feature of firewood (ḥaṭab) is key. The challenge at Mount Carmel consisted of sacrificing bulls on firewood in order. We can imagine Jezebel supporting the Baalist priests by collecting the best woods to burn the sacrifice easily. The image of Jezebel carrying firewood makes more sense of this verse than that of Umm Jamil dumping thorns.
  • Around her neck is a rope of [twisted] fiber. Traditional exegetes struggle to explain the meaning of the rope of palm-fiber (masad). It may be better understood in light of the Jezebel story. The term masad appears to be a hapax legomenon in the Qur’an that might have a Hebrew root and be related to Jezebel’s violent death. This term begs for further examination along these lines.