BET EMET MINISTRIES

Hebrew For "The House Of Truth"

Craig M. Lyons Ms.D., D.D., M.Div.

bennoah1@verizon.net

EZRA AND HIS INFLUENCE UPON THE REWRITING OF THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES AND JEWISH HISTORY

Scholars will tell you today that Judaism was created by the Persians in the fifth century.

Answer for yourself: Then what was the religious roots of the Jewish people before the influence of Ezra and Persia upon the Jewish nation and this creation of Judaism in the fifth century? Well get ready for the shock of your life.

TIME FOR SOME BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Colonistswere deported into Palestine under the influence of Ezra and Nehemiah; both members of Cyrus court. Their reward was to have control of a temple state which collected taxes for Persia and served as a buffer state between Persia and Egypt who often were at war. Only priests of the temple state were Jews—a nation of priests. The history of the Jews was reinterpreted and even "invented" by Ezra from Assyrian records and imagination in order to energize a people who were taught that they were former apostates who had to obey God diligently to atone for their past failings.

The Persian religion, founded by Zoroaster (or Zarathrustra) and whose priests came to be called the Magi, has had an influence on the world which today is unrecognized.

The appearance of the Wise Men of the East, considered to be Magi, in the gospel of Matthew offering gifts to the infant god seems to be a symbolic assertion that this new Christian god was superior to those of the Persian religion. This account mentioning the Persian Magi certainly implies that the writer of the Gospel of Matthew was aware of this Persian link with the Persian religious belief and needed to demonstrate to others who might notice it that his "Jesus" story was not indebted to Persian religion but rose above it.

Zoroaster was the driving force behind the Persian Religion and a real person but when he lived is unsure, not because there is doubt that he did but, because the evidence of the date is contradictory. It could have been any time between 1400 and 700 BC. Thus Zoroaster either preceded or was a contemporary of the prophets of Israel, Buddha, Confucius and Lao-Tse. Probably about 1000 BC is the best guess because the Gathas of Zoroaster (eighteen hymns composed by the great poet-prophet Zarathustra around 1200 B.C.) have certain things in common with the Vedas of India which are dated about then.

Before anyone other than the Pharaoh Akhenaton (the Biblical Moses), Zoroaster introduced monotheism; but understand that Monotheism began with Egypt and not Persia. We need to understand right from the beginning that Ormuzd was one of the highest gods in Egyptian belief, he being the personification of spiritual goodness, and the deadly enemy of Ahriman (the adversary). The closest that Egyptian mythology comes to the Devil, Ahriman was regarded as the antithesis of the gods of Egypt, the personification of darkness and evil, and the eternal enemy of the highest and most exalted Egyptian god, Ormuzd. These two are, in fact, not so much considered as gods, but as pure spiritual beings, perhaps the fathers of the Egyptian gods that followed. In Persian mythology, too, Ahriman is seen as the personification of evil, he leading the dark forces against the hosts of Spenta Mainya, the holy spirit, who assisted Ahura Mazdah, the wise lord, and final victor of the cosmic conflict (dualism).

Understand as well that all world religions were influenced one way or the other by Egyptian religion. Some nations kept these original Divine ideas concerning God intact as taught by Egypt; others however made changes. Over time mankind fell away from this simple understanding of God which Egypt understood and left recorded for us in the oldest religious documents known to mankind. The various tribes of Persia worshipped a pantheon of lesser gods and spirits, called Ahuras, but Zoroaster declared Ormuzd or Ahura Mazda, the Lord of Light, to be the single true God above all others as Moses (Akhenaton) had done previously in Egypt in declaring Aten the Supreme God over all others. Ormuzd is the same as Varuna of the Vedas. Like Varuna, he has a surrounding court of ministering spirits. Ormuzd was "Lord", "The Wise Lord", "The First and the Last", "The Father of the Good Thought". He created Right. He promised eternal life to good people:

In eternity shall the souls of the righteous be joyful.

To follow goodness or evil was one's personal choice. In the later development of the Persian Religion, Ahriman, the Devil, becomes identified with the Evil Spirit, but in the Gathas of Zoroaster the Evil Spirit is actually one of the two aspects of Ormuzd himself, the other being the Holy Spirit. We have nothing new here when you stop to consider that the concept of evil and the origin of evil has perplexed mankind's greatest thinkers since time immemorial. Attempts have been made to explain the origin of evil by attributing this origin of evil to a secondary entity at war with God and in so doing protecting the integrity and picture of an all-loving God. Even the Jewish sages were perplexed with this problem as seen in laying the blame of the census taken by David which resulted in God's punishment of Israel upon Satan when the other corresponding passage records that it was God Himself which moved David to take the census. Persian Religions was no different than the Judaism influenced by it in coming up with an alternate way of explaining how good and evil both come from the God of all things. When Ahriman became identified with the Evil Spirit, Ormuzd became a purely Holy Spirit. But man had free will to refuse evil in both stages of the religion. Thus we have the underpinnings of the development of an Ethical Monotheism.

Bliss shall flee from them that despise Righteousness. In such wise do you destroy for yourselves the spiritual life.

Either Zoroaster was a High Priest or "Zoroaster" later became a title meaning High Priest for he is sometimes referred to as the best or highest "Zoroaster" suggesting a hierarchy of priests or possibly a group of them at community level led by a "pontifex maximus". Later the Persian priestly caste were called the Magi (like the Brahmins of India) whose leader was considered a direct successor to Zoroaster. They introduced new elements into the Persian religion and revived some old ones.

Zoroaster, like Christians, wanted to convert everyone: he sent missionaries as far as Hindustan. It has been said that Zoroaster taught nothing about God which a Christian would not endorse and much that a Christian should add:

Alexander's conquests (330 BC) led to the destruction of many Egyptian and Zoroastrian texts. According to Diodorus, the historian, the Persian archives were held at Persepolis yet Alexander burnt the city and murdered many of Persia's leading scholars. In the second century BC a king called Valkash collected the remaining scattered manuscripts and the oral tradition and tried to reconstruct the holy works. Fortunately Zoroaster's Gathas, seventeen hymns composed by the great poet-prophet Zarathrustra around 1200 BC., being particularly sacred, seem to have survived essentially unaltered.

Other than Pharaoh Akhenaton (the Biblical Moses) whose efforts were primary in the influence upon the Hebrews toward monotheism we need look to Zoroaster who many scholars see as also influencing the introduction of monotheism to the Jewish people after their exile in Babylon and Persia. It has been said that the concept of Ormuzd is closer to that of the Jewish God than that of any other eastern religion. Yet prior to exile the Jewish god was a tribal god—one of many Semitic tribal gods and few Christians are aware of this fact.

WHY DID ISRAEL NEED TO BE TAUGHT MONOTHEISM?

The Israelites were not monotheists. At this time the Jewish nation captive in Persia worshipped primarily a tribal god. This, of necessity, implies polytheism since there are other tribes. The idea of the covenant with one tribe, the Israelites, implies polytheism. In it God commands:

Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3),

admitting there were other gods which these people worshipped when previously in Egypt. Monotheism for Israel came later (Isaiah 43:10-13, Jer 10:1-16).

Isa 40:10-13 10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. 11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. 12 Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? 13 Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? (KJV)

Jer 10:1-10 1 Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: 2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. 5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. 6 Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might. 7 Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee. 8 But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities. 9 Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men. 10 But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. (KJV)

After the return from the exile (following Persia's conquering of Babylon), when the sages wrote down the holy books, they introduced ideas from Zoroastrianism. The Jew's tribal god became a universal God but one which still favored his Chosen People. Deutero-Isaiah contains the first monotheistic declarations in the Bible; the first expression of universalism which has no antecedent in the Bible. In ancient Persia, Ahura ("Lord") is the title of gods, and the name for gods and spirits. The name was used to make a clear distinction between the Ahuras and the Daevas, who originally belonged to the same classification of godlike entities. The Daevas were in later religion degraded to the lesser beings, demons or devils, they are now.

At the time of the Jewish exile in Babylonia, much Zoroastrian thought had the chance to enter Judaism and surely did. Scholars once took this for granted. Thus, in Jeremiah, Rab-Mag was the chief of the Magi. 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Deutero-Isaiah show how close Persian and Jewish thought was. Darius Hystaspes, the Persian King of about 550 BC, worshipped Ormuzd. He was probably a Zoroastrian, as was his father Cyrus. Jewish history is dated from the reign of Persian kings and the Persian king Cyrus is seen as a Deliverer. He rebuilt the Jerusalem Temple as we know from inscriptions as well as the Old Testament and was much admired by the prophet, Isaiah. Herodotus confirms that he was a noble king.

The Jews, as well as Christianity today, derive most of their modern doctrines from Persian religion, the religion founded by Zoroaster. Persia gave Judaism its angelology, the immortality of the soul, the doctrine of the millennia , the heavenly book in which human actions are inscribed, a Last Judgment, rewards or punishments after death, paradise on earth or in heaven, hell, the final transformation of the earth and resurrection. Satan first appeared in Judaism as God's servant, His prosecutor, but with Persian influence he evolved into a Jewish Ahriman, God's enemy. The Messiah, conceived as a human warrior King who would save his people from oppression like king David of old, evolved into a cosmic saviour very similar to the Persian Saoshyant.

Ancient Judaism knew of no Last Judgement but they did in Egypt where the Hebrews once lived. This is just one example where the earliest Divine Revelations of mankind as held by the Egyptians were later altered by later nations. Before the exile the Jewish concept of death was Sheol, a dark and dismal place with no memory of God. After it the concepts of Heaven and Hell had emerged and the Jews had a doctrine of resurrection and Judgement for all. Ironically Persian religion restored this religious belief to the Jewish people which they had encountered before in Egypt. The "dry bones" of Ezekiel seems to be based on the Persian custom of leaving the dead to be picked by birds in towers, so that they do not defile the earth, after which they could be resurrected. The Persians, like the post-exilic Jews, believed the soul remained with the body for three days—a dead person was not really dead until the fourth day when the soul had departed. This explains why Jesus was to rise on the third day. It also shows that the raising of Lazarus was an afterthought. The greatness of the miracle of raising Lazarus in the fourth gospel is that he had been dead for four days. His soul had departed and he was beyond recall. Such is the influence of Persian Religious beliefs upon the Jewish nation.

Before the exile, the Jews conceived of their anthropomorphic tribal God as a vengeful, bloodthirsty and jealous God of fear. The priests returning from captivity had seen an image of a much nicer god. They wanted a good, perfect, remote and universal God of love—just like Ormuzd, the Persian Most High God. But they had to persuade the men of the land, the ordinary untaught and unskilled Jews who had never been in captivity, that the change was what they wanted. This would not be easy as the Old Testament testifies.

WHO WERE NEHEMIAH AND EZRA? WERE THEY JEWS?

By the order of Artaxerxes I (Ardeshir I) (465-424 B.C.) the walls of Jerusalem were built, and two of the royal court officials, Nehemiah and Ezra were commissioned to compile the Judaic dispensation (445-393 B.C.). Most Jews in Palestine did not want to change their religion and their concepts of God and resisted the Persian influence brought to them in the return of the captive Jewish nation from Persia. Nehemiah and Ezra came from Persia to make the Jews adopt this new image of god molded in this Persian way.

Because of the Persian protection and favorable attitude of the Achaemenid Kings, the Jews entertained warm feelings thereafter for the Persians and this made them more receptive to their influence. The vast difference between the preexilic and postexilic Judaic scriptures is so discernible that even Sigmund Freud contended that there could have been two Moses. We shall see upon study that innovative teachings of Zarathrustra-Zoroaster had been intermingled with the concepts of the Jew's earlier faith and some of his doctrinal views had been expanded and even altered beyond their originality as we find in Judeo-Christianity today.

Now we come to Ezra and his influence in the creation of Judaism (pseudo-Persian religion). In 397 BC Ezra was sent from Babylon by Artaxerxes, the Persian king, to teach in Israel statutes and ordinances (Ezra 7:10)

Ezra 7:10 10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. (KJV)

and to see if the people of Judaea were agreeable to the law of God. They were not teaching any religion that the people of Judaea could understand. Ezra is described in Nehemiah 8, reading from a book of law which neither Hebrew speakers nor Aramaic speakers could understand—the words had to be translated by the then Persian priests.

Neh 8:1-12 1 And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. 2 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law....7 Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. 8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

Answer for yourself: Did you notice that the people did not understand what Ezra was saying and had to be instructed by men sent among the crowds as Ezra taught? What language was this? What book of law was it? Why were these people not familiar with what Ezra was teaching if this was their faith? And how come that they did not know anything about the festival which Ezra proclaims?

Neh 8:10-11 So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved. (KJV)

Answer for yourself: Did you notice that the people had to be "stilled" [told to be silent] since they were in an uproar about what was being taught to them? If this was their prior faith then what could have been the problem? Or was this their prior faith as taught and understood by Moses? Was their faith being changed? (THINK).

The books of Ezra and Nehemiah indicate that they were successful in achieving widespread religious conversion in Ezra 6:19-21 and Nehemiah 10:28-29.

Answer for yourself: What were these people converting to? Simply a new Persian spin on their existing religious faith or a great divergence from Mosaic faith?

THE INFLUENCE OF EZRA...THE COVERUP OF THE EGYPTIAN ROOTS OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE

Zoroasterhad subjected the Aryan tribal gods to the one Most High God, Ormuzd. It is plain that Ezra, at the behest of the Persian king, was trying to do the same.

What I will say next will be hard for many to accept and I can only say you need to study. Much happened with the history of the Jewish people since leaving Egypt under Moses. Much happened to the earlier concepts of God which the Jewish people were exposed to while in Egypt. Some they retained and some they did not. Since leaving Egypt the influence of monotheism under Akhenaton had not taken hold as hoped as much of the Old Testament records; the oscillation between polytheism and monotheism by the Jewish nation continued and we see the result of this in the repeated judgments of God upon them because of such idolatry. This pattern of oscillation continued up until about 400 BC when Jerusalem comes under the power of the Persians. It is at this time that Ezra and Nehemiah formulated the Jewish scriptures as we have them today. In so doing however much of the tradition and history of the Jewish people were changed at the whim of Ezra; especially the links and legacy of Egypt owing to the fact that Persian and Egypt were often at war. In so doing Ezra changed the identities of the heroes of the Jewish people from Pharaohs to Patriarchs. Likewise anything concerning Egypt was portrayed in a negative light and the true reasons for the Exodus were obscured in order to cloud or conceal the Egyptian roots of these Jewish people. Ezra wrote out much of the Jewish mythology and altered many of the identities of the "Patriarchs;" incorporating a multitude of laws intended to make the Jewish gods into a single monotheistic god akin to Ormuzd, and the Jews into a civilized people. Let us understand that much of what Ezra did accomplished much good for the Jewish nation as it instilled an Ethical Monotheism into this people who had failed to adopt such an understanding of God when first introduced to it by Egypt and Akhenaton (Moses). Yet in so doing many of the earlier understandings of God, uniquely from an Egyptian viewpoint, were lost along with important information that comes from the Jewish Nation being influenced by Egypt. Where any Persian concepts appear in the Jewish scriptures at a time before the captivity, they have been written anachronistically into the account by the post-exilic priesthood. The writing of these religious documents by Ezra from the Persian religious persuasion was necessary if the Jewish people were to be sent back to their land and become a "buffer" nation separating Persia and Egypt with the hope of maintaining pro-Persian allegiances. In order for that to happen the Jewish people and their religion had to become Persian in many aspects and so it would.

One of Ezra's major reform was the prohibition of foreign wives. Marrying foreign wives had been Hebrew practice. The land of Canaan had not so much been conquered as the legend of Joshua makes out, as infiltrated by marriage of Hebrew men to Canaanite women. But inter-racial marriages were disapproved in Zoroastrian law. The distinction between clean and unclean animals in Leviticus and Ezekiel was from the Vendidad, a Zoroastrian holy book, which explains it. The purification rituals are identical in the Pentateuch and the older Vendidad. Ezra also introduced the new festival of booths in the seventh month, the Zoroastrian holiday of Ayathrem.

The Jews resisted the imposition of Zoroastrianism as Judaism. They opposed the building of a new temple with a vast treasure given by Cyrus. The native Israelites built their own temple on Mount Gerizim and wrote Jerusalem out of their Pentateuch. The Persian governors and priests in Jerusalem caused a great schism in the name of Judaism. The Sadducees, stood by the older traditions and believed in no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit (Acts 23:8)—no Persian innovations for them. The Pharisees or Persian faction—Pharisee, Parsee, Farsi—never numbered very high, not more than 6,000, although only Pharisaism survived the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

THE ESSENES AND PERSIA

Zoroastrian parallels with the Qumran and Essene documents are huge. The Damascus Document condemns those who enter the New Covenant but then leave to join the Liar. The Habakkuk Commentary enlarges on the theme of the Liar, telling of trouble within the community when the Liar secedes from the order and comes into conflict with the Teacher of Righteousness. In 2 Corinthians 11:31, Paul is insistent that he "does not lie" apparently answering an unpleasant criticism of him. The choice of language in these instances stems from Zoroaster. For Zoroaster the enemy was within, the Druj or the Lie.

The Qumran Community was an apocalyptic sect. They were expecting the end of the world. The apocalyptic movement arose with the death of classical Jewish prophecy when the Israelites were carried off to Babylon which soon became absorbed into the empire of the Persians. The Enoch-Essene Literature is Persian of about the fourth century BC. Apocalypticism seems to owe a great deal to Persia and the influence of Persian religion on Judaism stems partly from the apocalyptic writers. The Qumran library proves that Apocalypticism was a considerable movement in Judaism not merely a fringe interest. Christian theologians used to believe that the anticipation of God's kingdom to come was uniquely Jesus's message. Now we see it was hundreds of years old, had come out of Persia with the exiles and had been perpetuated by the Essenes.

THE MESSIAH AND PERSIA

In the preexilic period, Messiah was only a title of honor granted to important people, and generally the holder of the title was regarded as a person close to Yahweh. During the postexilic era however, it became an especial title for the Lord's Messiah. Fohrer (Fohrer G., Geschichte der Israel) after a careful analysis concludes that all the sections relevant to the advent of Messiah have entered the holy book during the postexilic era, and 2nd Isaiah is the prophet who in particular refers to the end of the world and coming of the Messiah (Ashtiyani J., A Research in Judaism, p. 366, in Persian). It is generally accepted that the prophets of Israel after liberation from the Babylonian captivity, in order to generate hope and confidence among the demoralized Jews, introduced the Persian concepts of future hopes such as victory of good over evil, resurgence of Israel, resurrection, future life, heaven and hell and the Kingdom of God. Particularly as the Israelites in this era longed for the reestablishment of Kingdom of David, they developed the notion of Messiah and in effect envisioned the Kingdom of Yahweh in the form of the promised Messiah that was different from the earthly Kingdoms (Ashtiyani J., A Research in Judaism, p. 465-366, in Persian). In other words the political hope of restored Jewish Kingdom headed by a "Meshiach Yahweh" came to be associated with the prophetic and apocalyptic vision of a Kingdom of God in the End of Days (Encyclopedia of Religion, Edited by Vergilius Ferm, Philosophical Library, 1981, p. 485). The prophets Haggai and Zechariah saw in Zerubbabel the possible fulfillment of this hope (Encyclopedia of Religion, Edited by Vergilius Ferm, Philosophical Library, 1981, p. 485). Thus, the concept of Kingdom of God, originally professed by Zarathrustra as "the chosen government", was eventually transferred through Judaism to Christianity and transformed into the "Kingdom of God". In Isaiah 42: 1-4, "the savior has the spirit of God and will not rest until he has established justice all over the world". Isaiah 11:6 after discussing the above adds after the coming of the Savior "world will live in peace, wolves will live in peace with lambs, and leopards will lie down to rest with goats". This notion is also reflected in Isaiah 62:25. Zechariah 4:14 even speaks of two saviors who are standing before Yahweh. Von Gall suggests that the writers of the book should have had the knowledge of two Zoroastrian saviors, of the later Avesta. Hoshidar and Hoshidar-mah (Von Gall A., quoted from A Research in Judaism, p. 367 in Persian by J. Ashtiyani). Some Authors contend that the three Magi who visited Jesus Christ at birth, were following the call for the future Saoshyant. The Jewish messianic ideal of a Deliverer as you can see came from Persia.

Another new development in the postexilic Judaism is belief in angels. Mills mentions that "the angelology of the oldest scriptures which was nearly as dim as their Sheol, became occupied with such figures as Michael and Gabriel (Michael (Daniel 10:21), Gabriel (David 9:21) while the number seven attached to them is as conspicuous as is significant" (Mills L. H.: Zarathrustra, Philo, The Achaemenids and Israel, A.M.S. Press, New York, 1977, p. 436). The seven postexilic angels (Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, Israfil, Israel, Uhiel and Uriel) are vividly reminiscent of the seven Amesha Spenta of the later Avesta. Another striking finding is "the person of devil as Satan ceased to remain a general term and became a proper names" (Mills L. H.: Zarathrustra, Philo, The Achaemenids and Israel, A.M.S. Press, New York, 1977, p. 436) and demonology began to develop. The struggle between the forces of good and evil, or light and darkness as reflected in the scrolls of Dead Sea reflects the Persian influence.

In Persian religion Ahriman (Satan) and his angels rose out of the Abyss to attack the Good spirit and the Angels of Light. Neither good nor evil was victorious but eventually Ahriman will be defeated by a Deliverer sent by god, the Saoshyant (Messiah). The Saoshyant, of the line of Zoroaster or perhaps the prophet himself reincarnated, heralds the beginning of a new age. There follows a "Day of the Lord" and trial by ordeal for mankind when the earth will be flooded with molten metal which burns up the wicked but allows the righteous to bathe in it as in warm milk. The earth would be levelled into a great plain just as it is in Isaiah 40. Finally Ahriman will be cast back into the Abyss and mankind will ascend to the realm of light to dwell with Ormuzd. There will be no repentance or pardon—in life, evil deeds can only be cancelled out by good deeds, and judgement is on this balance.

THE ESSENES AND THE SCROLLS OF QUMRAN...MORE PERSIAN RELIGION

Such a dualistic doctrine was unknown to the ancient Hebrews. But the Qumran documents speak of Good and Evil; Light and Dark, the Way of Darkness and the Way of Light, the Spirit of Darkness and the Spirit of Light, The Children of Darkness and the Children of Light, Truth is Light, Falsehood is Darkness. The Teacher of Righteousness is opposed by Belial, the Demon of Evil. The Way of Good leads to salvation, the Way of Evil leads to torment. Of the four gospels, John reflects this terminology most accurately showing its Essene links. In 2 Corinthians 11:12-15, Paul criticizes the Archapostles as disguising themselves as "Servants of Righteousness" and uses the sentence "Satan disguises himself as an Angel of Light" both betraying Qumran influence and apparently deliberately used against the upholders of the Community tradition.

The discovery of Khirbet Qumran-Essene scrolls in the caves of Dead Sea in 1947, shed light on the Essenes' tenets and practices. A French author, named Dupont Sommer, after reviewing the text of the scrolls, found many evidences of Zoroastrian influence. The common beliefs of the Essenes and Zoroastrians have been analyzed by different authors and reported (Ashtiyani J., A Research in Christianity, in Persian. p. 124-126) as:

CONTRIBUTIONS TO CHRISTIANITY

Let us never underestimate the enormous role played by Ezra in reformulating the Jewish Scriptures which laid the foundation for the latter influence of Judaism upon other world religions; especially Christianity. The permanent contribution of Zoroastrianism to European life and culture has come to us through its enormous influence upon the New Testament via the Essenes.

During the five centuries contact, interaction between the two traditions took place. The Jews under the Persian influence developed eschatology, angelology and demonology, and renewed hope for future in terms of victory of good over evil, advent of Messiah and establishing the Kingdom of Yahweh. Many of these doctrinal concepts, later were transferred to Christianity and Islam and were actually expanded them.

Essentially immortality of the soul, judgement and rewards and punishments after death were not recognized by the preexilic Judeans. Zaehner notes that the preexilic view of Sheol, a shadowy and depersonalized existence that is the lot of men regardless of their actions during life, was suddenly abandoned and replaced by the notions of heaven and hell, rewards and punishments when the exiled Jews came in contact with the Persians which later entered Christianity.

The Zoroastrians believed that the soul rises from the dead body and for three nights after death resides in the material world and then proceeds to the other world. This may be termed individual resurrection. Jesus Christ is also said to have risen from his sepulcher three days after crucifixion. The later Zoroastrianism also predicates a collective resurrection (Rastakhiz) when all the dead will rise. The concept of resurrection that was imbedded in parts of the early Hebrew scriptures as Exodus and Deuteronomy became vivid in writings of the postexilic prophets. Daniel 12:2-13 refers to rising after death and receiving rewards. In Isaiah 26:19, the dead will rise again from the graves, the ground will give birth to the dead.

Among the basic elements which the Synoptics obtained from Zoroastrianism we may mention the following: the intensely personal and vivid concepts of hell and heaven; the use of water for baptism and spiritual purification; the savior born of a true virgin-mother; the belief in demons who make human beings impure and who must be exorcised; the Messiah of moral justice; the universal judgment, based upon good and evil works; the personal immortality and the single life of every human soul; the apocalyptic vision and prophecy; and the final tribulation before the Parousia.

In addition, Paul, Revelation, and the Fourth Gospel drew heavily upon Zoroastrianism for elements which are absent from the Synoptics:

In Revelation, as in Zoroastrianism, seven is a holy and mystical number. Furthermore, we may note that until the middle of the third century, the Catholic Church shared with the Zoroastrians their horror for all idols, images, and altars. In the fifth century, the Church began accepting the doctrine of purgatory and early in the seventh this became established dogma.

And there were at least three other elements which Catholic Christianity drew from or shared with Zoroastrianism:

The Church took this infernal character to its heart and made of him the cornerstone of its speculative system.

CONCLUSION

Needless to say not all of the above contributions to Judeo-Christianity have proven good nor are they correct when compared to the earliest understanding of God and Ethical Monotheism on this planet as held by those who coined these concepts in the beginning; the Egyptians. I find without a doubt that after study of this Persian faith as it evolved into Judeo-Christianity that if one wants to get to the original concepts held by the earliest civilization concerning much of the religious beliefs that Persia adopted and later changed then one must begin his study with Egypt and their understanding of this Ethical Monotheism in its earliest form. Only then as one notes these beliefs in their inception and follows them in their transmutation over time can one come to understand for himself how the earliest and simplest messages of God were altered beyond recognition by successive conquering nations. I will leave that up to you...the reader.

If you so desire, Bet Emet Ministries offers a comprehensive CD of all of our Websites. Included with it is a "study plan" to assure the proper Spiritual evolution of your Soul and its proper development through the following in-depth studies. There is an order in which these numerous websites should be "studied" in order to maximize your learning spiritual growth. Just click on this link for the details as to how you can obtain the CD that consists of the ministry's fifteen websites, or should I say, books that were written over the last fifteen years. Many of these sites are actually books, consisting of hundreds of pages of knowledge that the Roman Church intended you never come to know.

In our CD of all out websites contained on one disk we provide a "study plan" for the student and give detailed instructions as how to study these websites "in order" to facilitate one's study. Please inquire for the CD for such thorough study will take you some time if you ever hope of cracking the "Jesus Puzzle" and coming to the answer of the question: "Who do men say I am?" Hidden in this study is the manner by which you, a Christian, can come to the point in your life where the true demonstration of the Power of God in your life can be found and experienced, where you can "say" to the mountains in your life "be gone" and they really flee. Just ask my wife who raised the Christ to life in her life, in a few short months, in time to reverse a disease process going on in her body and is alive today when medical science said otherwise. A mistaken literal and historical understanding of the sacred Scriptures "killeth," but a "mystical" and "metaphysical" understanding of the true indwelling Christ in you, as the real St. Paul teaches, raises you from the dead in this Earthly life and gives you the power and demonstration of the Power of God in your life. No tricks here, but just truth, truth kept from us by a less than truthful group of men that changed the original understanding of the Ancient Wisdom to keep humanity ignorant and in fear, thus selfishly controlling them when they no longer had enough swords to do so. Don't let this ignorance of the truth continue in your life. It is time to experience the resurrection of Christ from the dead in you NOW!