The Return of Caligula – The Degenerate

Caligula tries to desecrate the Temple

Sometime between 39 and 40 CE, Caligula sent orders to Petronius, the governor of the Roman province of Syria. Petronius was to install the emperor’s image within the Temple of Jerusalem, using whatever military force was necessary to see his orders through.

Bust of the emperor Caligula

Why is Jesus ignoring what the Romans are doing to Judea?

Trump was supposed to have been arrested. How about Netanyahu?

Trump and Netanyahu have flirted with religious leaders about the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. Does this involve the desecration and tearing down of the Temple of Human Justus? Apparently, because men like this always offer to bring GOD’S JUSTICE back to the people. They will claim they are the embodiment of God’s Justice Restored here on earth. For this reason – they are ABOVE THE LAW – and can do no wrong. They are literally – WITHOUT SIN!

John ‘Nazarite Judge’

Far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene demanded on Wednesday that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg be jailed for “prosecutorial misconduct” related to his investigation of former President Donald Trump. 

“Now it’s time to arrest Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg for prosecutorial misconduct after hiding hundreds of pages of exculpatory evidence!” Greene (R-Ga.) wrote in a tweet

“Bragg is on the verge of indicting an innocent former President and top Presidential candidate against the opposing ruling party,” she added.

“What kind of person can charge another person, in this case a former President of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting President in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a Crime, when it is known by all that NO Crime has been committed, & also known that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country?” Trump wrote in a Truth Social post overnight.

Many Christian leaders and thinkers decried the attack on the Capitol, but few went as far as Moore; he laid the blame squarely at the feet of a man many evangelicals believe to be their hero: President Trump. “This week we watched an insurrection of domestic terrorists,” Moore wrote, “incited and fomented by the President of the United States.” When asked about that statement during an interview from his book-lined Brentwood, Tenn., home office a week later, he doubles down. “He called them to the rally. He told them that the future of our country was at stake, that the election had been stolen from him and that weakness could not be an answer,” Moore says. “And after the attack took place with our Vice President under siege, with people calling for him to be executed, the President continued to attack the Vice President on Twitter. It’s indefensible.”

Flags, Hate Symbols and QAnon Shirts: Decoding the Capitol Riot

In criticizing President Trump, Moore has diverged from such influential evangelicals as Franklin Graham, who compared Republicans who voted for Trump’s second impeachment to Judas Iscariot; Jerry Falwell Jr., who said he’d give Trump a third honorary degree if he were still head of Liberty University; and author Eric Metaxas, who devoted almost his entire Twitter feed after the election to increasingly bizarre and implausible conspiracy theories on the method by which it was stolen. Moore’s position differs even from that of the guy tipped to be the next head of the SBC, the Rev. Albert Mohler, who voted for Trump in 2020 and said–even after the events at the Capitol–that he’d do it again.

In Israel, Another Divisive Law on Another Day of Mass Protest

Story by Isabel Kershner • 45m ago

Israel’s Parliament passed legislation early Thursday that would make it more difficult to declare prime ministers incapacitated and remove them from office, a move that critics said was aimed at protecting the country’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption.

Demonstrators in Tel Aviv on Thursday protesting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to overhaul Israel’s judicial system.© Ohad Zwigenberg/Associated Press

Under the legislation, the latest in a series of divisive bills pursued by the government, a sitting prime minister could only be declared incapacitated on physical or mental health grounds.

The bill, passed by a bare majority of 61 in the 120-seat Parliament, came just before tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets for another stormy day of protest against the government plan for a broad overhaul of the judiciary.

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Opponents of the plan, which would give the government more control over judicial appointments and weaken the Supreme Court by severely restricting judicial review of legislation, say that it would subvert the country’s democratic system.

A rally in Tel Aviv on Thursday. Thousands of demonstrators blocked major highways across Israel to protest the government’s plans.© Jack Guez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The bill passed on Thursday detailed more exactly the grounds upon which a prime minister could be removed. Previously, the law did not specify what constituted incapacity or the basis upon which incapacity could be declared, though it did imply that reasons other than health could be used.

The new bill takes the power of removal out of the hands of the attorney general and the court and puts it in the hands of Parliament. If a prime minister were unwilling to be removed from office, even temporarily, a vote of three-quarters of cabinet ministers and a supermajority of 80 lawmakers would be required.

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Mr. Netanyahu went on trial in 2021 after his indictment on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

The attorney general has barred him from involvement in the plans for the judicial overhaul, citing a conflict of interest. Critics of the proposed judicial changes have accused Mr. Netanyahu of promoting them as a means of extricating himself from his legal troubles. Mr. Netanyahu has denied any such intentions.

The so-called incapacitation law is the latest in a slew of contentious legislation being advanced by Mr. Netanyahu’s three-month-old government — the most right-wing and religiously conservative in Israel’s history — and it is likely to be challenged in the Supreme Court. That could lead Israel closer to a constitutional crisis, and bring the government into direct confrontation with the courts.

The legislation passed on Thursday would make it more difficult for Mr. Netanyahu, top second from left, to be declared incapacitated and removed from office.© Abir Sultan/EPA, via Shutterstock

The legislation passed on Thursday, an amendment to an existing law, is not part of the core package of the overhaul plan, but it is related.

Some opponents of the judicial overhaul have argued that Mr. Netanyahu is inherently in a conflict of interest because of his corruption trial and have called on the attorney general to remove him. There has been no indication that the attorney general intended, or even had the clear authority, to take any such action.

The new bill feeds the widespread public anger about the proposed judicial changes. The core of that legislation is aimed at giving the government more influence in the choice of new judges, and it would severely restrict the Supreme Court’s ability to strike down laws, practically ending judicial review, while allowing Parliament to override court decisions with a bare majority of 61.

Its supporters say change is essential to restore a correct balance of power between the elected government and an overactive judiciary that has granted itself increased authority over the years. Opponents say the proposed changes will remove any check on government power and any protection for minorities, and will lead to rule by the majority.

The planned day of protest on Thursday, which organizers called a day of “national paralysis,” involves a growing circle of Israelis from different walks of life. Thousands of demonstrators blocked major highways around the country. The police in Tel Aviv turned a water cannon on protesters who had blocked a main road for hours.

A group of surgeons protested by occupying helipads around the coastal town of Caesarea, where Mr. Netanyahu and his family have a luxury private home. The protesters marched in a circle with flags surrounded by large banners reading, “Fighting for democracy” and “One must resist dictatorship,” according to drone footage distributed by the demonstration’s organizers.

Elsewhere, navy veterans blocked an entrance to the port in Ashdod with burning tires, staff and retirees of Israel’s military industries protested outside a weapons manufacturer in northern Israel, and groups showed up outside lawmakers’ homes around the country and blocked access to a site near Ben-Gurion International Airport, where government ministers were scheduled to attend a ceremony.

Later Thursday, protesters planned to march to Bnei Brak, a Tel Aviv suburb predominantly inhabited by ultra-Orthodox Jews, in a move that could lead to clashes with the police or local residents. Ultra-Orthodox members of the government are vehement supporters of the judicial overhaul and have long despised the Supreme Court, which has struck down legislation aimed at formalizing mass exemptions of ultra-Orthodox men from obligatory military service.

Ancient Rome and Judea: Caligula and the Temple of Jerusalem



Cover image “The Second Holy Temple in Jerusalem” by Alex Levin. Web:

In the previous post, we looked at Caligula’s reception of Philo’s Jewish Embassy in Rome. The meeting, documented by a Jewish grammarian, is invaluable as it provides one of the few non-Roman perspectives on the emperor Caligula, elsewhere portrayed as mad, bad, and dangerous-to-know.

Today’s post looks at another run-in between Caligula and the Jews under the Roman Empire. Specifically, it deals with Caligula’s attempt to erect a statue of himself in the Temple of Jerusalem, thus desecrating the symbolic centre of the Jewish Diaspora.

The Temple of Jerusalem, and within it the Holiest of Holies, lay at the symbolic heart of Judaism. It provided a focal point for the Jews, both at home in Judea and dispersed across the Jewish Diaspora. And it would continue to do so: physically until the Temple’s destruction in 70 CE – spiritually, we could argue, into the present age

Reconstruction of the Second Temple

Julius Caesar and Augustus, Caligula’s predecessors, had respected the Jews’ autonomy, allowing them to continue worshipping as long as they made token sacrifices to the emperor. Tiberius strayed from this permissive path, but not as much as Caligula, who seems to have taken the Jews’ refusal to recognise him as a god both personally and with ire

Jewish participation in the Imperial Cult

Before we look at Caligula’s attempt to desecrate the Temple, we should remind ourselves of the complicated relationship between the Jews’ freedom to worship and their participation in ’emperor worship’ (the imperial cult).

The first and most important thing to consider is that Judaism prohibits the worship of idols, not least those representing figures of power. A passage in the Mishnah (2nd/3rd century) censures the worship of statues holding anything in their hand, whether that be a bird, a staff, or a sphere (Abodah Zarah 3.1).

The Mishnah is rather ambiguous, though the common denominator of these objects is as symbols of power. It’s likely that the time the Mishnah was written, during the height of the Roman Empire, necessitated such ambiguity. But the Babylonian Talmud, which was written later, is more direct, singling out imperial statues made for worship as the idols to be avoided.

The Jews could offer sacrifices on an emperor’s behalf. They just couldn’t afford him the same honours as a god.

The difference is crucial and was the source of contention between Caligula and the Jews. Indeed, when Philo met Caligula during his embassy, he assured the emperor that nobody excelled the Jews in loyalty to the imperial house, as expressed with “prayers, preparation of votive offerings and quantity of sacrifices, not only at general festivals but also on a daily basis.”

Judging by his decision to desecrate the Temple of Jerusalem with his image, Caligula seems to have been unconvinced.

Caligula tries to desecrate the Temple

Sometime between 39 and 40 CE, Caligula sent orders to Petronius, the governor of the Roman province of Syria. Petronius was to install the emperor’s image within the Temple of Jerusalem, using whatever military force was necessary to see his orders through.

Bust of the emperor Caligula

Before even departing from Syria, Petronius found himself confronted with thousands of protesting Jews, pleading with the governor to reconsider. As the news of Caligula’s orders spread, Jews across the Roman Empire reacted in horror. Not for 200 years had they faced such a threat to the fundamentally aniconic and monotheistic nature of their religion.

According to Philo (Embassy to Gaius 203-337), when Agrippa I, Herod Agrippa’s grandson, heard what the emperor was planning to do, he was so shocked he suffered a stroke. Agrippa managed to recover swiftly and fully enough, however, to pen an urgent letter to the emperor imploring him not to go through with his plans.

The question was whether he could manage to persuade Caligula before Petronius and his forces arrived in Jerusalem.

The emperor changes his mind

Meanwhile in Syria, Petronius was in no hurry to march on Jerusalem and install the emperor’s statue. The politically astute governor realised the act would pour fuel on the already flaming tensions between Romans and Jews under Caligula’s rule.

Petronius’ gamble paid off. The time he bought by procrastinating proved enough for the emperor to change his mind, though exactly why Caligula did so is unclear.

One suggestion is that Agrippa’s power of persuasion was enough to convince him that forcing his statue among the Temple of Jerusalem was unwise. Josephus, meanwhile, suggests a more mundane reason: Caligula had promised Agrippa a favour in return for an especially good meal, and on this occasion, Agrippa decided to call it in (Antiquities of the Jews 18.290-309).

Bust of the emperor Caligula

Whatever the reason, the crisis was averted, and the Temple of Jerusalem remained unpolluted by pagan iconography. Caligula was the first emperor to try to force Jews to participate in the imperial cult. He was also, as it happens, the last.

Did Jesus come only for the Jews and not the Gentiles?

Jesus Jews only


Jesus is the Messiah that the Jews had been anticipating for centuries (see Luke 2:253:15). As such, He was born into a Jewish family and was reared according to Jewish law in a Jewish town (see Luke 2:27Galatians 4:4). Jesus selected Jewish disciples, spoke in Jewish synagogues and the Jewish temple, and traveled mostly in Jewish areas. His mission, in fulfillment of the Jewish prophets, was to the Jewish people. However, none of this means that Jesus’ ministry was limited exclusively to the Jews.

In Matthew 15, there is an incident that, at first, seems to confirm the idea that Jesus came only for the Jews. Jesus was traveling through Tyre and Sidon, a Gentile region, and “a Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly’” (Matthew 15:22). This Gentile woman recognized Jesus as the Messiah (“Son of David”), but “Jesus did not answer a word” (verse 23). As the woman kept up her appeals, Jesus finally responded, but His words seemed to hold little hope: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” (verse 24). However, the woman did not give up, and Jesus eventually granted her request, based on her “great faith” (verse 28).

The fact that Jesus helped the Canaanite woman, even though His mission was to the Jews, is a significant detail in the Gospel narrative. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus gave other indications that His power and compassion reached to all people. He healed a Roman centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1–10). He traveled through the Gentile region of the Gerasenes (Mark 5:1). He ministered in a Samaritan city (John 4).

Jesus came to save everybody (1 John 2:2). Jesus Christ is God Himself (John 1:1). Jesus died on the cross as the payment for all our sins, and He rose from death in resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3–4). Jesus said He was the Good Shepherd, and He predicted that His flock would be greatly expanded: “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16).

It took a while for the early church to recognize that salvation was available to the Gentiles. The Jewish Christians who fled the persecution in Jerusalem went into the Gentile regions of Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, but they were “spreading the word only among Jews” (Acts 11:19). Peter was hesitant to bring the gospel to a Gentile household, but God made it plain that Cornelius was also one of the elect (Acts 10).

“Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too” (Romans 3:29). Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, but He had come to offer salvation to everybody. The Messiah was to be a “light for the Gentiles” (Isaiah 42:6). So call on Jesus, because “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21).,draws%20us%20together%20as%20the%20nation%20of%20God.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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