“before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you.“
I suspect Paul of Tarsus was a strict Pharisee in Tarsus located in Anatolia, who was for circumcising Jews and Gentile converts – before Jesus was born – whenever that was. The Judaizers came amongst the Celtic Galatians and told them they need to be circumcized. To be, or not to be! Paul switches sides! However, whatever, Paul is suggesting Jesus was crucified amongst the Celtic people with blue and green eyes – in Anatolia. Could this be true?
Pontus is where all – THE REAL ACTION IS – thanks to Antiochos “THE MAD MAN” This is where Celts from Gaul had converted to Judaism a hundred years before Paul and Jesus were born. What need God-Jesus to blind Paul, and then heal Paul, then appoint Paul the dude who is going to convert the Pagan world – starting in France? Nope! Why, because the Gauls there are already practicing Judaism, and they hate Paul because he persecuted them, locked them up – and murdered them! Are you confused?
Strap yourself in, for we are going to the Big Tent where the Main Attraction is. Paul treats the Galatians as a Sideshow. Wrong! Here is how Paul got so powerful. He was a PAID AGENT by powerful rulers who wanted him to INVENT A NEW RELGION in yet another attempt to stabilize this region. All roads lead to Anatolia.
Galatians 3:1-3King James Version
3 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
In 175 BCE, amid this social-political unrest, a new ruler, Antiochus IV, ascended to the throne of Greco-Syria. As did many rulers, he appended the title Epiphanes (“God Manifest”) to his name; but many people referred to him instead as Antiochus Epimames (“The Madman”).
Immediately upon assuming power, he decided to pursue the conquest of Egypt, which no other Seleucid king had been able to accomplish. The Romans were advancing eastward and expanding their empire. If Antiochus could conquer and annex Egypt, his kingdom’s size and power would be greatly increased and the Romans might be resisted.
But before doing so, he would have to stabilize his own country and consolidate political support by uniting the disparate cultural, social, and religious elements. Under Alexander the Great, hellenization had been a movement that still allowed room for cultural variation; under Antiochus, hellenization was intended to take a big step further and become the agent of cultural totalitarianism.
Antiochus’ Relationship with Jews
The Jews were clearly targets of Antiochus’s strategy of Hellenization. He understood that to ultimately succeed in Egypt, he would need to disrupt the influence of the Jews within his own territories. He decided to tackle the priesthood in Jerusalem by replacing Onias the Third, the latest Kohen Gadol (high priest), with Onias’s brother Joshua, who was loyal to the Greeks. Joshua became High Priest and immediately changed his name to Jason.ADVERTISING
To a certain extent, Antiochus’s plan worked. Jason submitted to the king’s will and helped implement the new totalitarian doctrine. Jerusalem became a little version of Antioch, replete with a gymnasium where the Jewish Kohanim often played Greek sports in the nude. Meanwhile, King Antiochus had access to the Temple treasury to help fund his military campaign to conquer Egypt.
All these activities fueled the restless anger of the pious Jewish peasants, who became even more enraged when Antiochus allowed Menelaus, a Tobiad, to purchase the position of Kohen Gadol. They were incensed that this sacred position, for which Menelaus had outbid Jason, was for sale at all. But to make matters worse, Tobiads were not even descendants of Aaron, who was the brother of Moses and the traditional ancestor of all Kohanim.
As a condition of his appointment, Menelaus had promised he would increase the tax revenue. When he failed to do so, he was summoned to appear before the king. While away, Menalaus left his brother Lysimachus as High Priest in his stead. Lysimachus proceeded to rob the Temple of many of its sacred vessels, an action that led to riots in the streets, during which the supporters of Jason (even knowing all his faults) battled the supporters of Menelaus.
Expansion in the Middle East
Meanwhile, after a decisive battle in 169-8 BCE, Antiochus was on the brink of annexing Egypt to Syria. The Roman army, however, was moving victoriously eastward. With its own sights set upon Egypt, Rome warned Antiochus not to expand his kingdom in that direction. Antiochus was not powerful enough to defy the mighty Roman Empire; and finding his ambitions for conquest thwarted, he would become even more aggressive toward the people he already ruled.
While Antiochus was away, Jason had managed to retake Jerusalem from Menelaus — a victory based on the rumor that Antiochus was dead. But he was not able to seize control of the government, and he was forced to flee. Antiochus, furious with the rebellion, returned to Jerusalem, slaughtered thousands of people, and reinstalled Menelaus. Once Antiochus departed and heard that a second rebellion had broken out, he outlawed Judaism. Among the now-forbidden practices were the rite of circumcision, the study of Torah, and the keeping of kashrut (Jewish dietary laws).
In the Jews’s Holy Temple, he placed a statue of Zeus — the god he believed was manifest in his own royal being — and sacrificed swine on the altar. He stripped the Temple of its sacred vessels, including the seven-branched golden menorah, and stole the silver and gold coin.
Reprinted with permission from Celebrating the Jewish Year: The Winter Holidays, published by Jewish Publication Society.