The purpose of this podcast is to provide the larger context to the situation in the Middle East. The history will be provided through audio recordings of my late father, Dr. David Neiman –an expert on the history of the ancient near east and the relationship between the Church and the Jews. He based his theses on historical records, linguistics and a deep understanding of the Bible and its origins.
Purim: The Same Old Story
Megillath Esther tells the story of a close call for the Jews, when a great threat, posed by the evil minister Haman, was thwarted by the beautiful Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai. The Purim story describes what would become a template for future cycles of anti-Jewish hatred.
In this podcast Dr. David Neiman gives a dramatic account of the battles of Salamis and Thermopylae. It is at these battles that the Persian empire was defeated by the up-and-coming Greeks. This loss created a fertile environment for the events that would later occur in Megillath Esther.
Paris - Still Burning
The phenomenon of Jews returning to Israel did not start after World War II, it began hundreds of years earlier.
After the collapse of the Crusader kingdoms in the 13th century, Jews started returning to Israel. The driving force behind this migration was the growing anti-Jewish agitation on the European continent.
One of the most destructive flare-ups of anti-Jewish hatred in medieval Europe was the Great Bonfire of Paris where thousands of Jewish books were burned.
Following the disputation of Paris, a great debate was organized in Spain between Pablo Christiani, a Jewish convert to Catholicism and Rabbi Moshe Ben Nachman a renowned Jewish scholar. The Disputation of Barcelona was held in the year 1263. Following this event Rabbi Nachman was forced to leave Spain. He moved to Jerusalem and founded a Yeshiva.
January: A Time For Reformation
In January of 1518 Martin Luther's "95 Thesis", an attack on the sale of Indulgences by the Catholic Church, was translated and distributed through a revolutionary technology - the printing press. Martin Luther captured the spirit of the moment with his thesis. The publication of this tract, gave voice to the sentiments of a heretofore-silent majority in Northern Europe.
Time And Space For The New Year
The official practice of numbering the years in sequence started with the emperor Seleucus. He chose 311 B.C.E., the year he came to power, as the year One. The Seleucid system was adopted by the Jews of Babylon who referred to this newly accepted practice as the "era of dating legal documents". About 700 years later the Jews of Babylonia recalculated the number for the Jewish calendar and that is the dating system used today. Today, the majority of the world uses the Egyptian solar calendar. The following clips discuss the development of this new way of marking time. Other calculations such as the number of hours of the day, are a human invention. This podcast also explores the sophistication of astronomy and math in the ancient world and the reconciliation of the solar and lunar calendar systems.
Jesus: Another Jewish Over Achiever
This episode of Context explores the Jewish character of Jesus, as described in the Gospels. Dr. David Neiman reads passages from the New Testament that paint a portrait of Jesus as a normal first century Jewish boy from a modest, traditional Jewish family.
The words of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels, are replete with references from Jewish literature, both traditional texts and popular works of the 1st Century AD such at Pirkei Avot, “The Wisdom of the Fathers”.
The people of Judea in the 1st century were split into a number of factions that crossed the political spectrum. Jesus’ words indicate that his attention was focused on preaching to his fellow Jews. Jesus’ world outlook was apocalyptic. He had a vision of an upcoming conflict that promised to be very violent.
It's All Greek To Me - The Complicated Story of Hanukkah
It’s no surprise that winter holidays around the world have light as their central theme. So too is the case with Hanukkah where we celebrate the miracle of the olive oil that fueled the Menorah at the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem by the Maccabees in 164 B.C.E.
But as you might expect, the story of Hanukkah is a lot more complicated than one might imagine. Getting to that olive oil is a journey through the dissolution Alexander the Great’s empire and the first clash between Greece and Rome. The events in ancient Israel are just a small part of an extended regional war.