March Index

March Index
1 = Sefer Y’hoshua – Book of Joshua – a 2 week study
2 = Y’hoshua – Part II, the Philippian Jailer
3 = Y’hoshua – Part III
4 = Y’hoshua – Part IV

7 = Y’hoshua – Part V

10 = Y’hoshua – Part VI

12 = Y’hoshua – Part VII

14 = Y’hoshua – Part VIII
15 = Y’hoshua – Part IX

17 = Patrick of Ireland – the history of this good Christian
18 = Y’hoshua – Part X
19 = Y’hoshua – Part XI
20 = Y’hoshua – Part XII
21 = Y’hoshua – Part XIII – finished!
22 = A Purim Play – a short play written about the Book of Esther

24 – The Price of Special, concerning the Pesach lamb and Nisan 10
25 – The Lamb was Silent, a first person account of the death of a passover lamb
26 – About the Crucifixion, a Doctor’s Testimony about this method of putting to death
27 – Resurrection Morning, a short story from John 20
28 – My Special Casserole, a plea for prayer and common sense
29 – Outward Appearance, “Ugly, the Cat”. A beautiful story of love
30 – Sweets for the Sweet, a great candy recipe
31 – A Good Weight Loss Plan, Pat Robertson’s Weight Loss Challenge

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A Good Weight Loss Plan

3/30/05
After yesterday’s “sweet treat” – it’s time to think about the modern epidemic – American obesity! Here’s what Pat Robertson of CBN has to say. This guy is in his 70s and can bench press 400 pounds!
I think it’s safe to listen to him…. I did this and lost 43 pounds …so far! It’s great for me because I like it simple without a lot of choices. Why not give it a try for a month. See what happens! If you don’t need to diet, read through it anyway to see some healthy food choices. Then skip to the archives and find something else more suited to you!


PAT ROBERTSON’S WEIGHT LOSS CHALLENGE

The fattening of America – it’s been called a crisis and an epidemic. A recent Time Magazine article (June 7, 2004) reported that two-thirds of U.S. adults are officially overweight. The Surgeon General estimates that $117 billion is spent each year on obesity linked illnesses, and that diet and poor exercise rank No. 2 behind tobacco as a preventable cause of death.

The Bible says, “My people perish for lack of knowledge.” I want to help you gain the knowledge you need to live a full, vibrant, and healthy life. I’m going to show you how you can lose weight and keep it off – and never be hungry. Believe me, it’s possible! In fact, I challenge you to commit to this plan until you reach your weight loss goal — and maintain a new “set point” as your normal weight. You’ll lose fat, gain muscle, and feel more healthy and alive.

I’ve made a great study of nutrition these past years. All of the most popular diets of our time – Atkins, South Beach, The Zone, Perricone, Bill Phillips, and others – have at the core of their message a basic commonality: weight loss is achieved by the management of calories. How you manage those calories, those units of energy, and the foods you choose to supply your body with its caloric need is vitally important.

How you divide those calories, the ratios of fats, carbohydrates and proteins, plus your exercise plan will determine the weight you lose.
On my Weight Loss Challenge plan you’ll lose fat – not muscle because you’ll be eating a healthy amount of protein, essential fatty acids, and low-glycemic carbohydrates. And you will never be hungry on this plan.

Protein is essential for robust health. Protein is the main ingredient in our cells, and next to water, comprises most of our skin, hair, eyes, nails and muscle. On the Weight Loss Challenge you’ll provide your body with a continuing supply of protein, from morning till night.
The object of this program is to force your body to mobilize your stored fat for energy. For this reason, you should not add any supplemental fat – no butter, no cheese, no fatty meat, no sausage, etc. I have added the essential fatty acids that will promote health, lower your fat levels, clear out cholesterol, and be generally beneficial. Even these “good fats” are limited so that your body can be turned into a fat-burning machine.

Under no circumstances should you digest what are called trans-fatty acids – - these are the fats normally used in fried foods in fast-food restaurants.

A landmark study conducted at the University of London in England in the 1950s found that patients who were given a 1,000-calorie diet high in fat (90%) lost significant amounts of weight, while the same patients when given a 1,000-calorie diet high in carbohydrates (90%) lost virtually no weight at all. Eating good fat does not make you fat; it actually helps your body burn fat more efficiently.

It’s in the area of carbohydrates where most confusion occurs concerning healthy eating. Adding to wrong choices is the misleading and inaccurate information regarding the so-called “food pyramid.” We must understand that our bodies have a very small and limited ability to store carbohydrates. Our bodies will use carbohydrates as fuel to burn for energy, but will convert excess carbohydrates into fat and store it as fatty tissue.

But that’s not the whole story. When you eat a high-glycemic carbohydrate food, you raise your blood glucose rapidly. In order to counteract that rapid rise in blood sugar, your pancreas will secrete insulin into your bloodstream. Insulin’s job is to find excess carbohydrate calories and store them as fat. Not only that, but insulin signals your system not to release any stored fat. Basically, think of it this way: insulin stores fat and won’t let it go.

When you continue to stimulate the production of insulin, your adrenal glands will be exhausted, and when this happens, adult-onset diabetes may result. It is the eating of so much sugar, sweets, white bread, and other high-glycemic foods that is believed to be the principle cause of the epidemic of adult-onset diabetes in middle-aged people and even children.

The speed at which carbohydrates enter the bloodstream is called the glycemic index. The more simple the sugar, the faster the entry rate and the higher the glycemic index. Our goal is to avoid high-glycemic carbohydrates. One slice of white bread has a glycemic index of 100. Sugar, honey, jams and jellies exceed that mark, while peanuts and soybeans have a glycemic index of 15. Most fruits and vegetables are low-glycemic carbohydrates and rich in fiber. I recommend that you visit www.glycemicindex.com for index listings and a searchable database of food index values. White flours, breads, grains, pasta, rice, starches, and all bakery items are high-glycemic carbohydrates. These foods spike your system with insulin, and those calories are converted to fat that won’t let go.

Now that you have a basic knowledge of the way your body uses calories, let’s look at the Weight Loss Challenge plan.

DAILY MENU PLAN
BREAKFAST: Weight Loss Challenge Health Shake
It is vitally important that your body is loaded with supplies of protein and necessary minerals to fill you with vitality and promote good health.
Here’s how to make the Weight Loss Health Shake that will provide all those good things:

In a standard blender combine the following:
1. 6 – 8 – 10 ounces of distilled water.
(Experiment with the volume of water. It’s a matter of taste, and since water has no calories, you’re able to pick the amount that you want.)

2. Two tablespoons of Natural, Non- Pasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar. I recommend the natural apple cider vinegar distributed by Bragg. Vinegar is very important because it aids digestion. This is especially beneficial for older people who have decreased hydrochloric acid in their stomach. Nutrition Express has a product they call Complete Digestion. It enables seniors to get the most value from the foods they eat. This product is available from Nutrition Express at 1-800-338-7979.

3. One tablespoon Safflower Oil.
This rich source of Omega 6 is able to reduce cholesterol, increase HDL lipids in the body, and lower the bad LDL lipids.

4. One tablespoon Flaxseed or Fish Oil.
A great source of Omega 3, this oil, like Safflower oil, will do wonderful things for your heart and health.

5. One scoop Lindberg “Protein Blend” Powder.
This is an all-natural, four-protein blend of soy protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, milk, egg white, and hydrolyzed whey made by Lindberg Nutrition (Protein Blend may be ordered from Nutrition Express at 1-800-338-7979.) This type of protein has been shown to be a dramatic protector against breast cancer, uterine cancer, and prostate cancer. Some experts believe that soy protein isolate stimulates the thyroid to help your body burn fat.

6. Two Scoops “Optimum Nutrition’s Pro Complex” Protein Powder. This super-powder gives you the highest biological proteins available from egg whites, whey, and BCAAs. These two scoops deliver a power-packed 55 grams of protein. Optimum Nutrition’s Pro Complex is available in 4.4 pound tubs and may be purchased from Nutrition Express.

7. One Teaspoon of Glutamine Powder.
This tasteless, white powder builds up muscle, especially after strenuous workouts. In addition, glutamine speeds healing after surgery and has been shown to raise the production of human growth hormone levels. Glutamine is a pre-cursor to glutathione, which is considered a master antioxidant. This is a great weapon against the ravages of aging.

One Teaspoon of MSM Powder.
This sulfur-based product has tremendous benefits. According to Judy Lindberg McFarland, an expert on vitamins and natural foods, sulfur is “necessary for healing and repair of most tissues in the body, especially our skin…sulfur slows down the aging process…it is called ‘nature’s beauty 1. mineral’ because sulfur keeps hair glossy and smooth, the complexion clear and youthful and the nails strong.”
2. Six to Eight Frozen Strawberries.
Low in calories and rich in antioxidants, strawberries help defend our systems against free-radical damage and disease. They also make your shake taste good!

3. One-Quarter Cup of Blueberries.
Blueberries are delicious and a powerful source of antioxidants, they help protect us from cancer and age-related illnesses.

4. One-Half of a Banana (Optional).
A good source of potassium and flavor.

5. One Packet Non-Caloric Sweetener.
Use Sweet’N Low, Splenda, or Stevia. Avoid the use of aspartame products. Aspartame has been shown to increase cravings, encourage tumor growth and migraines, and cause other harmful effects.

6. If desired add a few ice cubes and blend until smooth and frothy.

This is the recipe for an active adult male. For smaller body frames and appetites drink half the shake and refrigerate the second half for a mid-day snack.

The Weight Loss Health Shake is very filling! That’s the idea, so drink it all. You’ll find it will carry you without hunger throughout the morning. In fact, you’ll feel so full and satisfied, you won’t even think about eating or desire anything more. That’s the power of protein and healthy carbohydrates. To review:

Weight Loss Health Shake
In blender combine:
6 – 10 ounces distilled water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Safflower Oil
1 tablespoon Flaxseed or Fish Oil
1 scoop Lindberg Protein Blend protein powder
2 scoops Optimum Nutrition Pro Complex protein powder
1 teaspoon Glutamine powder
1 teaspoon MSM powder
6 – 8 frozen strawberries
¼ cup blueberries
½ banana
1 packet non-caloric sweetener
If desired add a few ice cubes and blend till smooth.

MID-MORNING SNACK: One Protein Bar
The market is full of so-called energy and protein bars. Some taste very good and some are horrible. From trial and error, I recommend Doctor’s CarbRite Diet bars. They taste delicious and deliver 21 grams of protein and 22 grams of low-impact carbohydrates, which makes an excellent balance. These bars are available from Nutrition Express at 1-800-338-7979. You may find others that fit your tastes better.

LUNCH: One 4 ounce piece of Chicken Breast or Fish, one slice of Whole Wheat Bread
Four ounces of chicken or fish will deliver between 20 – 30 grams of protein. If some other food will give you the same food value, don’t be afraid to experiment. This will add variety to your daily menu.

In addition to the marvelous protein powders used in the Health Shake, I recommend you use turkey, skinless chicken, eggs, and non-fat cottage cheese as excellent sources of protein for your lunch serving.

The whole wheat bread you eat provides fiber and will help your body’s furnace to burn fat during the day.

AFTERNOON SNACK: One Protein Bar
(a nice balance of protein and carbohydrates)

DINNER: Weight Loss Health Salad
Now you’re going to feast on a huge salad. Treat yourself to the freshest vegetables the season provides. Experiment with many vegetables and find your own favorites. Remember, most vegetables rank “low” on the glycemic index, so try as many as you like. Here are the ingredients I recommend:

In a large bowl combine:
One cup torn spinach leaves
One cup torn romaine leaves
¼ cup tomatoes
¼ cup green peppers
¼ cup onion
¼ cup broccoli flowerets
¼ cup chick peas
5 – 6 pecans
3 – 4 snap beans
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (make sure it’s extra virgin – this is the best)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

This makes an enormous salad that will fill you up and leave you feeling stuffed without causing you to gain weight. It’s packed with important vitamins and minerals that will build you up and defend you against disease.

MID-EVENING SNACK: Weight Loss Health Shake
The same shake as breakfast, but omit the oil and soy protein powder.
I guarantee you, when you follow the Weight Loss Challenge, you will be full and never hungry. In fact, I’ve joked that we could call this the “Eat Till Your Stuffed Silly Diet.” It’s that filling, satisfying, and delicious. And it’s simple. No complicated menu preparations. Just wonderfully fresh food and powerful nutrients that melt off the fat. The object is to eat a lot – not a little. You eat six meals a day, and never allow yourself to be hungry!

It’s really in the math. In order to maintain your weight, you have to supply 15 calories for each pound of body weight. So, if you weigh 200 pounds, that comes to 3,000 calories, or 15 x 200 = 3,000. Take a moment to calculate your maintenance calorie total. Multiply 15 times your weight. That is your maintenance number of calories. Now aim for 800 – 1,000 calories below that maintenance number each day.

In addition, it is essential that you add exercise to your daily routine. Not only will you receive the benefit of a healthier heart, mood elevation, and greater flexibility, but you’ll also be increasing your calorie deficit.

Wow, that’s a lot of information! But I can tell you it works! I’m still working at it. Let me know if you want to try it. It’s more fun to lose weight together….

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Sweets for the Sweet!

In the mood for something sweet? It’s a long way from Chanukah, but here’s a great recipe for anytime of the year! I got it from a friend who perfected it and sold it at Farmer’s Market type places and it always does very well. It may seem like a hard recipe but it’s not. It’s fun! Especially if you have someone to help you stir….All you need is a little determination and a candy thermometer. I don’t dare make it but once a year… and then I like to give ONE to all my friends! Here’s a little poem I wrote to go along with it.

“Chanu-Roca”

The recipe was chosen with care and delight,
A wondrous concoction of sweetness and light.
The ingredients gathered were quite fresh and pure,
Guaranteed to please all, that was for sure!

The day finally came and with a deep sigh,
We entered the workplace, my husband and I.
We found the best pan, our old wooden spoon;
The butter and sugar were there in the room.

“Measure and stir, keep your eye on the dial,
310 degrees – that’s gonna take a while.”
We stirred and we stirred, we could not take a break,
A masterpiece royal, we were determined to make.

The almonds were chopped and toasted just right,
The chocolate slowly melted – what a grand sight!
At last it was finished and we poured out the blend,
A great pan of confection to share with a friend.

Because it’s so tasty, so rich and so sweet,
We’re sending just ONE for you each to eat.
So enjoy our toffee – we made it with love,
A Chanukah Treat – with help from above.

Chanu-Roca – adapted from English Toffee

3 cups sugar
2/3 c cold water
1 lb butter cut into 1 oz pats
2 c toasted coarsely chopped, toasted almonds
1 1/2 bags chocolate chips (16 oz bags – dark, light or mixed)

Spray sides of a large heavy pan with Pam or similar spray or wipe with butter. DO NOT SCRAPE DOWN SIDES OF PAN!

Mix cold water with sugar. Do NOT heat pan until sugar is completely stirred into the water.
Heat on medium heat until it bubbles.
Slowly add butter, one pat at a time until it reaches hard crack stage. 300 – 310 degrees. Takes about an hour and will be very thick and the color of coffee with cream in it.
Pour onto large oiled cookie sheet which has been covered with the almonds.
Sprinkle over the hot mixture, 1 1/2 bags choc chips. May use part white chocolate. As it melts, spread over evenly. Sprinkle more nuts on top if desired. Makes 3 1/2 lbs. candy. (More or less) Rabbitzim Ramelle Richardson

English Toffee from the Rabbi’s Wife 12/03

See you tomorrow!
Shalom, Sharaka
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OUTWARD APPEARANCE

“…for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.”
2 Corinthians 5:12

Everyone in the apartment complex I lived in knew who Ugly was. Ugly was the resident tomcat. Ugly loved three things in this world: fighting, eating garbage, and shall we say, love. The combination of these things combined with a life spent outside had their effect on Ugly.

To start with, he had only one eye, and where the other should have been was a gaping hole. He was also missing his ear on the same side, his left foot has appeared to have been badly broken at one time, and had healed at an unnatural angle, making him look like he was always turning the corner. His tail has long been lost, leaving only the smallest stub, which he would constantly jerk and twitch. Ugly would have been a dark gray tabby striped-type, except for the sores covering his head, neck, even his shoulders with thick, yellowing scabs.

Every time someone saw Ugly there was the same reaction. “That’s one UGLY cat!!” All the children were warned not to touch him, the adults threw rocks at him, hosed him down, squirted him when he tried to come in their homes, or shut his paws in the door when he would not leave. Ugly always had the same reaction. If you turned the hose on him, he would stand there, getting soaked until you gave up and quit. If you threw things at him, he would curl his lanky body around your feet in forgiveness. Whenever he spied children, he would come running meowing frantically and bump his head against their hands, begging for their love. If you ever picked him up he would immediately begin suckling on your shirt, earrings, whatever he could find.

One day Ugly shared his love with the neighbors huskies. They did not respond kindly, and Ugly was badly mauled. From my apartment I could hear his screams, and I tried to rush to his aid. By the time I got to where he was laying, it was apparent Ugly’s sad life was almost at an end. Ugly lay in a wet circle, his back legs and lower back twisted grossly out of shape, a gaping tear in the white strip of fur that ran down his front. As I picked him up and tried to carry him home I could hear him wheezing and gasping, and could feel him struggling. I must be hurting him terribly I thought.

Then I felt a familiar tugging, sucking sensation on my ear-Ugly, in so much pain, suffering and obviously dying was trying to suckle my ear. I pulled him closer to me, and he bumped the palm of my hand with his head, then he turned his one golden eye towards me, and I could hear the distinct sound of purring. Even in the greatest pain, that ugly battled-scarred cat was asking only for a little affection, perhaps some compassion.

At that moment I thought Ugly was the most beautiful, loving creature I had ever seen. Never once did he try to bite or scratch me, or even try to get away from me, or struggle in any way. Ugly just looked up at me completely trusting in me to relieve his pain.
Ugly died in my arms before I could get inside, but I sat and held him for a long time afterwards, thinking about how one scarred, deformed little stray could so alter my opinion about what it means to have true pureness of spirit, to love so totally and truly. Ugly taught me more about giving and compassion than a thousand books, lectures, or talk show specials ever could, and for that I will always be thankful.

Ugly had been scarred on the outside, but I was scarred on the inside, and it was time for me to move on and learn to love truly and deeply. To give my total to those I cared for.

Many people want to be richer, more successful, well liked, beautiful, but for me, I will always try to be Ugly.

~Author Unknown

See you next time!
Shalom, Shakaka
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My Special Casserole

Years ago we had a very special anniversary dinner at our Congregation and everyone brought their finest dish. I looked and looked for just the right recipe and finally found one that I thought would be a winner! It was quite involved and complicated and I spent a lot of time on it. I love to cook and felt it had turned out even better than usual.

We went to the party early and my dish went into the slow oven with everyone else’s to keep warm. It was great seeing so many people that I hadn’t seen for years and there were so many there you could hardly get around to everybody. I noticed they had plenty of help in the kitchen so I didn’t go near thinking perhaps I could help with clean-up. At last it was time to eat and we found a good table and went through the buffet line. What a groaning board! That’s what they used to call tables that were overloaded with food! There were so many people that they had opened up some of the classrooms for extra seating. We continued our joyful conversations and lingered over the meal. At last we reached the saturation point – both in the food and in the chatter and the tables started to thin out as one by one they drifted off to find a seat upstairs for the rest of the program.

It was time to help with the clean up and I began to clear the tables. There were a lot of hands so it didn’t take long. I went to get what I thought would be my empty dish and I didn’t see it anywhere. I checked everything – it just wasn’t anywhere! I finally quit looking and went into the classrooms to make sure they were all clean. And what did I find? There sitting all forlorn and alone was my beautiful, if somewhat soggy, casserole! Someone had put it in there because there was no room on the buffet table. That classroom hadn’t been used after all and no one saw my wonderful, special casserole that I had worked so hard on. I was crushed. All that work – for nothing. Maybe I deserved it —– was I just trying so hard to make an impression? I didn’t want to think so.

But it wasn’t for nothing …. It made me think about how hard we can try to do something for G-d. How much time we can spend in study and preparation. How we can work on our research and delivery to make it just right. But you know, if we don’t get our work out where the people are – if no one sees or understands what we are trying to do – what good is it? Sharing the good news is a great thing but it has to be given to the folks who need it, or it’s just a lot of hard work for nothing! It takes prayer and common sense to do it right. Make sure what you do for the Lord is done at the right time and at the right place! Don’t become a soggy left-over! Make sure your best efforts count for G-d.

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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A Story for Resurrection Morning

Resurrection Morning
A story of Kefa, Yochanan and Miryam in John 20, by Fern Julian Carlson © 1986

Miryam* from Magdala, whose life had been so changed by the Master, just couldn’t stay away any longer. She rose before the first rays of spring sun streaked the eastern sky; dressed by the light of the tiny oil lamp and hurried outside the gate toward the Place of the Tombs.

By the time she reached Yosef’s* tomb in the gray-pink dawn, she was chilled to the bone and the horror of the past few days flooded her mind. She had to go, there was still something she could do for her Friend.

But where were the soldiers and ………… what!? The still dim light revealed the stone, pushed away from the small chiseled out hole in the rock wall, lying on its side. “The Romans couldn’t leave Him in peace – even in death!” she thought as she fled back to the City, hot tears again coursing down her cheeks.

Kefa*, too, had risen early. Sleep didn’t come too easily these days. The shame of his denial had only increased and in the quiet darkness, he could still see those eyes, boring into his soul. Over and over again he’d relived the happenings of the past week. The joy of celebrating yet another Pesach with the Master and that after the tremendous “welcome” into Yerushaliyim*. But after that nothing had gone right. When he had sliced off Malchus’ ear, Y’shua* had severely rebuked him and then that awful business in the Courtyard. He just couldn’t go into the Palace of the Kohen HaGadol* with Yochanan* when they had taken Y’shua* in for questioning. Instead he had stood by the fire and said those unthinkable words – “I never knew Him!”

“Kefa*? Are you ready? Let’s go!” Yochanan’s* call jarred him back to the present. He finished rolling up his sleep mat, tossed it on a shelf and started the reluctant journey to the tombs.

“He’s gone – they’ve taken His body away!”

They left the trembling Miryam* on the path and raced to the sepulchre. Yochanan*, reaching the rough hewn opening first, stood frozen at the door staring (1) at the burial sheets. Kefa* pushed past him and saw (1) the body lying on the rock slab but the face cloth was neatly folded and set aside.

When Yochanan* came the rest of the way into the tomb, he saw (2) and believed! He immediately knew the Greatest Miracle of all had taken place. Yochanan*, the Beloved Talmidim*, and the only one to die a natural death, was the first to really experience the fact of the Resurrection.

The burial sheets, (the strips of linen soaked in 75 – 100 lbs. of myrrh and aloes like the Egyptians had taught them had been wound around the body) had hardened into the exact shape and form of the Saviour! The face cloth, being removed, left only a hole in the hardened strips revealing the fact that THE BODY WAS NOT THERE!

Oh Hallelujah! Our Messiah has risen! Y’shua HaMashiach* is alive!

Strong’s Concordance explains the Greek words used.

staring (1) = to see, behold, look at, perceive
saw (1) = to see, behold, look at, perceive
saw (2) = to see, to know, to be sure, to understand

Hebrew words

Miryam from Magdala* = Mary Magdalena
Yochanan* = John
Talmidim* = disciple or student
Y’shua HaMashiach* = Jesus the Christ
Kohen HaGadol* = High Priest
Yosef’s* = Joseph of Aramathea’s
Kefa* = Peter
Yerushaliyim* = Jerusalem

See you tomorrow!
Shalom, Sharaka
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About the Crucifixion

This is an article by a physician and concerns the technical matters of crucifixion. It is very detailed and graphic. You may or may not wish to read it, but I think it is good for us to know a little more of what Y’shua went through ——— for us.

A Physician Testifies About the Crucifixion
by Dr. C. Truman Davis
About a decade ago, reading Jim Bishop’s The Day Christ Died, I realized that I had for years taken the Crucifixion more or less for granted — that I had grown callous to its horror by a too easy familiarity with the grim details and a too distant friendship with our Lord. It finally occurred to me that, though a physician, I didn’t even know the actual immediate cause of death. The Gospel writers don’t help us much on this point, because crucifixion and scourging were so common during their lifetime that they apparently considered a detailed description unnecessary. So we have only the concise words of the Evangelists: “Pilate, having scourged Jesus, delivered Him to them to be crucified — and they crucified Him.”

I have no competence to discuss the infinite psychic and spiritual suffering of the Incarnate God atoning for the sins of fallen man. But it seemed to me that as a physician I might pursue the physiological and anatomical aspects of our Lord’s passion. What did the body of Jesus of Nazareth actually endure during those hours of torture?

This led me first to a study of the practice of crucifixion itself; that is, torture and execution by fixation to a cross. I am indebted to many who have studied this subject in the past, and especially to a contemporary colleague, Dr. Pierre Barbet, a French surgeon who has done exhaustive historical and experimental research and has written extensively on the subject.

Apparently, the first known practice of crucifixion was by the Persians. Alexander and his generals brought it back to the Mediterranean world — to Egypt and to Carthage. The Romans apparently learned the practice from the Carthaginians and (as with almost everything the Romans did) rapidly developed a very high degree of efficiency and skill at it. A number of Roman authors (Livy, Cicer, Tacitus) comment on crucifixion, and several innovations, modifications, and variations are described in the ancient literature.
For instance, the upright portion of the cross (or stipes) could have the cross-arm (or patibulum) attached two or three feet below its top in what we commonly think of as the Latin cross. The most common form used in our Lord’s day, however, was the Tau cross, shaped like our T. In this cross the patibulum was placed in a notch at the top of the stipes. There is archeological evidence that it was on this type of cross that Jesus was crucified.

Without any historical or biblical proof, Medieval and Renaissance painters have given us our picture of Christ carrying the entire cross. But the upright post, or stipes, was generally fixed permanently in the ground at the site of execution and the condemned man was forced to carry the patibulum, weighing about 110 pounds, from the prison to the place of execution.

Many of the painters and most of the sculptors of crucifixion, also show the nails through the palms. Historical Roman accounts and experimental work have established that the nails were driven between the small bones of the wrists (radial and ulna) and not through the palms. Nails driven through the palms will strip out between the fingers when made to support the weight of the human body. The misconception may have come about through a misunderstanding of Jesus’ words to Thomas, “Observe my hands.” Anatomists, both modern and ancient, have always considered the wrist as part of the hand.

A titulus, or small sign, stating the victim’s crime was usually placed on a staff, carried at the front of the procession from the prison, and later nailed to the cross so that it extended above the head. This sign with its staff nailed to the top of the cross would have given it somewhat the characteristic form of the Latin cross.

But, of course, the physical passion of the Christ began in Gethsemane. Of the many aspects of this initial suffering, the one of greatest physiological interest is the bloody sweat. It is interesting that St. Luke, the physician, is the only one to mention this. He says, “And being in Agony, He prayed the longer. And His sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground.”

Every ruse (trick) imaginable has been used by modern scholars to explain away this description, apparently under the mistaken impression that this just doesn’t happen. A great deal of effort could have been saved had the doubters consulted the medical literature. Though very rare, the phenomenon of Hematidrosis, or bloody sweat, is well documented. Under great emotional stress of the kind our Lord suffered, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat. This process might well have produced marked weakness and possible shock.

After the arrest in the middle of the night, Jesus was next brought before the Sanhedrin and Caiphus, the High Priest; it is here that the first physical trauma was inflicted. A soldier struck Jesus across the face for remaining silent when questioned by Caiphus. The palace guards then blind-folded Him and mockingly taunted Him to identify them as they each passed by, spat upon Him, and struck Him in the face.

In the early morning, battered and bruised, dehydrated, and exhausted from a sleepless night, Jesus is taken across the Praetorium of the Fortress Antonia, the seat of government of the Procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate. You are, of course, familiar with Pilate’s action in attempting to pass responsibility to Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Judea. Jesus apparently suffered no physical mistreatment at the hands of Herod and was returned to Pilate. It was in response to the cries of the mob, that Pilate ordered Bar-Abbas released and condemned Jesus to scourging and crucifixion.

There is much disagreement among authorities about the unusual scourging as a prelude to crucifixion. Most Roman writers from this period do not associate the two. Many scholars believe that Pilate originally ordered Jesus scourged as his full punishment and that the death sentence by crucifixion came only in response to the taunt by the mob that the Procurator was not properly defending Caesar against this pretender who allegedly claimed to be the King of the Jews.

Preparations for the scourging were carried out when the Prisoner was stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. It is doubtful the Romans would have made any attempt to follow the Jewish law in this matter, but the Jews had an ancient law prohibiting more than forty lashes.

The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum (or flagellum) in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back, and legs. At first the thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles.

The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows. Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is finally stopped.
The half-fainting Jesus is then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with His own blood. The Roman soldiers see a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be king. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still need a crown to make their travesty complete. Flexible branches covered with long thorns (commonly used in bundles for firewood) are plaited into the shape of a crown and this is pressed into His scalp. Again there is copious bleeding, the scalp being one of the most vascular areas of the body.

After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from His hand and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they tire of their sadistic sport and the robe is torn from His back. Already having adhered to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, its removal causes excruciating pain just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, and almost as though He were again being whipped the wounds once more begin to bleed.

In deference to Jewish custom, the Romans return His garments. The heavy patibulum of the cross is tied across His shoulders, and the procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves, and the execution detail of Roman soldiers headed by a centurion begins its slow journey along the Via Dolorosa. In spite of His efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious blood loss, is too much. He stumbles and falls. The rough wood of the beam gouges into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tries to rise, but human muscles have been pushed beyond their endurance.

The centurion, anxious to get on with the crucifixion, selects a stalwart North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. Jesus follows, still bleeding and sweating the cold, clammy sweat of shock, until the 650 yard journey from the fortress Antonia to Golgotha is finally completed.

Jesus is offered wine mixed with myrrh, a mild analgesic mixture. He refuses to drink. Simon is ordered to place the patibulum on the ground and Jesus quickly thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action being careful not to pull the arms to tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum is then lifted in place at the top of the stipes and the titulus reading “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” is nailed in place.

The left foot is now pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The Victim is now crucified. As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists excruciating pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain — the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.

At this point, as the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by his arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, he is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sentences recorded:
The first, looking down at the Roman soldiers throwing dice for His seamless garment, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” The second, to the penitent thief, “Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise.”

The third, looking down at the terrified, grief-stricken adolescent John — the beloved Apostle — he said, “Behold thy mother.” Then, looking to His mother Mary, “Woman behold thy son.”

The fourth cry is from the beginning of the 22nd Psalm, “My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?”

Hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain where tissue is torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins…A terrible crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.

One remembers again the 22nd Psalm, the 14th verse: “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.”

It is now almost over. The loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level; the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissue; the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain.

Jesus gasps His fifth cry, “I thirst.”
One remembers another verse from the prophetic 22nd Psalm: “My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou has brought me into the dust of death.”

A sponge soaked in posca, the cheap, sour wine which is the staple drink of the Roman legionaries, is lifted to His lips. He apparently doesn’t take any of the liquid. The body of Jesus is now in extremes, and He can feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues. This realization brings out His sixth words, possibly little more than a tortured whisper, “It is finished.”

His mission of atonement has completed. Finally He can allow his body to die. With one last surge of strength, he once again presses His torn feet against the nail, straightens His legs, takes a deeper breath, and utters His seventh and last cry, “Father! Into thy hands I commit my spirit.”

The rest you know. In order that the Sabbath not be profaned, the Jews asked that the condemned men be dispatched and removed from the crosses. The common method of ending a crucifixion was by crurifracture, the breaking of the bones of the legs. This prevented the victim from pushing himself upward; thus the tension could not be relieved from the muscles of the chest and rapid suffocation occurred. The legs of the two thieves were broken, but when the soldiers came to Jesus they saw that this was unnecessary.

Apparently to make doubly sure of death, the legionnaire drove his lance through the fifth interspace between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. The 34th verse of the 19th chapter of the Gospel according to St. John reports: “And immediately there came out blood and water.” That is, there was an escape of water fluid from the sac surrounding the heart, giving postmortem evidence that Our Lord died not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure (a broken heart) due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.
Thus we have had our glimpse — including the medical evidence — of that epitome of evil which man has exhibited toward Man and toward God. It has been a terrible sight, and more than enough to leave us despondent and depressed. How grateful we can be that we have the great sequel in the infinite mercy of God toward man — at once the miracle of the atonement (at one ment) and the expectation of the triumphant resurrection morning.

Dr. C. Truman Davis is a nationally respected Opthalmologist, vice president of the American Association of Ophthalmology, and an active figure in the Christian schools movement. He is founder and president of the excellent Trinity Christian School in Mesa Arizona, and a trustee of Grove City College.

If you have never accepted Y’shua/Jesus as your Saviour, now would be a great time to do that. He died for you and He wants you to live for Him. Let Him be the Lord of your life, surrendering all that you are and ever will be into His care. Ask the Lord to direct you to a good G-d-fearing Congregation that believes in the whole Bible and keeps His commandments. Y’shua said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” May the Lord bless you as you consider these words of life eternal.

See you in the Olam Haba – the World to Come!
Shalom, Sharaka
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THE LAMB WAS SILENT

This is not a nice story. But life is like that sometimes. I received it a few years ago from Jerusalem and share it with you today.

FINALLY TODAY – FROM ISRAEL THE LAMB WAS SILENT

A group of us were going to have the special Seder meal together and I offered to bring the lamb. There is a believer who runs a sheep and goat farm just outside Nazareth and as the days grew closer I knew deep inside I was not only to bring the lamb but go see him be slain. (Most people say “yuck, oogh or something” about this time in the story – - so go ahead.)

Anyway, I called and set the time to meet the butcher at the farm and follow him to the place. Overnight the plans changed (as they often do here!) and so upon arrival we saw a kid born only minutes before, then went to meet them at the shop. It was a reminder of the ongoing cycle of life and death. The sense though of being drawn to watch all this was not a logical thing at all, so I simply decided to open my heart and eyes to take everything in and hope to hear what the Holy Spirit was wanting to reveal.

I didn’t have any idea what to expect except a lot of blood poured out of course. There he was with his two hind legs and one front one bound together, laying silently (those are key words) on the slab. At first I thought he’d been drugged because he was just quietly waiting as if he knew this was what he was born for. There was no struggle at the condition and strange place he found himself in. I petted his nose and looked into his eyes. He showed no fear or panic. I’m known to often talk to animals, but what do you say to someone who’s about to die for you?? No words came. Then the butcher pulled him up onto the pallet and began washing his neck. The sound of the rushing water startled him, he tried once to get up, but not like he was trying to escape. Then he lay quietly back down again as the knife was put to his neck. My friend was taking pictures and he even held the knife there for what seemed like ages. There was no “rushing to get it done quickly” here. Then one swift cut and the blood flowed. But…… NEVER DURING THE WHOLE TIME DID HE OPEN HIS MOUTH!! NEVER – NOT ONCE. Think of it. Isaiah 53:6-7 .. and the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, YET HE OPENED NOT HIS MOUTH; He was led as a Lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, SO HE OPENED NOT HIS MOUTH.

It says this is how it was, but to watch it with your own eyes! It was not so much the fact of his death – of the life, the blood, being poured out that struck me. It was the manner, the character in which he went through it that pierced my soul. Here before me was absolute trust, obedience and submission. His innocence wasn’t cause his wool was all white, bright and fuzzy (it wasn’t anyway!) And he took it so quietly, willingly, patiently! It was then that I felt so unlike the Lamb…..

Not only this dying one before me, but the One who died that we might have Life. I’m so quick to want to speak out against injustice, use and especially abuse in the Body of Messiah. I haven’t even fully mastered counting it all joy in my trials and now we’ve moved on to the must of learning to die silently. Ouch. What I heard that day is that it isn’t enough to thank and worship Yeshua, the Lamb of God, for what He did for us nearly 2000 years ago, the fact of His death. Without one word in this drama, He seemed to be calling us up higher to become like Him…not just apply the blood to forgive our sins, but feed on the Lamb and let Him get inside. It’s a place where we must take on His Life and nature and give our “unlamblike” character to Him in exchange! All creation is eagerly waiting (on tiptoe) for the manifestation of the sons of God (Rom 8:19). He will have a bride of like character.

May we all take communion some time this weekend with a new commitment to become one heart with the Lamb!
WORTHY IS THE LAMB WHO WAS SLAIN……(Rev. 5 all!)

AUTHOR: Barbara Richmond, from Jerusalem, April 2001

To those celebrating Pesach today – Chag Sameach!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Nisan 10 – “The Price of Special”

“This is the day that the Lord hath made – let us rejoice and be glad in it!”

We are ‘special people’ – the Lord called us His ‘peculiar’ people. Some of us are more peculiar than others but we won’t talk about that today! The word ‘peculiar’ can mean strange or odd but it also means “uncommon, unusual, exceptional, extraordinary, unique, special’. We are special unto the Lord! – and there is a price to be paid for special.

Shabbat HaGadol! – the Great Sabbath! The Sabbath just preceding Pesach. Tradition says, according to Alfred Eidersheim, the noted Austrian Jew, who converted to Christianity, and lived from 1825 – 1889, that the 10th of Nisan, fell on a Sabbath at the time of the Exodus. (Ex. 12:5). It was probably around the year 1446 BC.

Nisan 10 was the day to ‘put up’ the lamb. I believe it was a Sabbath the year Y’shua was crucified. This is in keeping with a Wednesday crucifixion. Some say the crucifixion took place on Thursday. Whichever it was we know it wasn’t Friday! This was to be ‘a lamb of the first year (could have been as young as eight days) without spot or blemish’. Interestingly enough, it could be either a sheep OR a goat. You don’t hear much about them using goats but it was permissible.

Flavius Josephus, the famous Jewish historian, whose Jewish name was Yosef ben Mattias, born in AD 37 or 38, gave a good account of the number of people in Jerusalem during Pesach. He gives a number between 2,565,000 thousand and 3 million! That means counting the lowest computation of one lamb for every ten persons, at least 256,500 lambs were slain every Pesach! This was done over a very short period of time in the afternoon of Nisan 14. The Pesach celebration – the Seder – was a private home celebration rather than a public event. There were to be no less than ten around the table and no more than 20. The lamb was to be roasted on a spit made of pomegranate wood.
Pomegranates refer to kingship!

Now let’s put ourselves back into that picture – it’s the 10th of Nisan and I want to talk more about “lambs”. Just think of bringing that little fella into your home and carefully tending it, feeding it, watering it, making sure the younger kids were kind to it and looking over every inch of it to make sure there was no blemish. The kids may have fought over it to see who was going to get to take care of it the most – or they may have fought over who was going to have to clean up after it!

Four long days went by. The lamb by now had become part of the family. Just when you are really used to it – Dad takes it to the Temple and slits it’s throat! The law decreed he had to use a very sharp knife and do it just right. The knife must be very sharp and could have no knicks in it. Even ‘tho God demanded them to kill the sacrifice animals, He wanted it to be done in the most humane fashion possible. (I’m so glad I didn’t live then!) That had to be a ‘special’ lamb. It had to be treated just so.
And then look what happened to it.

Y’shua was special! He was God’s only Son. He left the glories of heaven to come to a dirty stinking old poverty filled planet to live amongst sinfiul men in a dusty hot desert. To be watched over and whispered about. Even the circumstances of His birth was in question. The other kids could have even called Him names and made fun of Him. His family was poor; His parents could only afford to pay for turtledoves for the sacrifice at His 40 day Presentation at the Temple. He gladly and willingly came to endure it all for the sake of “the joy that was set before Him.” They have called the Jews Christ-killers for 2,000 years but that’s a lie. Nobody killed him – He simply lay down His life – like the little innocent lamb that never did any body any harm – He just let them take Him away to the Cross.

He paid the price for being “Special”.
Would you like to guess how many times the word “lamb” appears in the gospels? Everybody knows that famous quote, “Behold! the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.” Well, that’s it! John said it at the baptism in the Yarden or Jordan and again the next day when he saw Him approaching. Twice. In the four gospels. It is written 27 times in the Book of Revelation. And who was it that wrote the Book of the Revelation? John, again. Cousins sometimes can be closer than brothers and in this case it was only John, His cousin, who recognized Him as the Lamb. We see that the Lamb will be very much in view in these last days. Let’s be like John and know Him for who He is.

We can know Him – because He is special!

So what’s in it for us? God said we are His “special people”. We are to be spotless and without blemish. We are peered at and whispered about. If everybody loves you – something is wrong! Y’shua said we would suffer, too. “Count it all joy when ye come into divers temptations”
Is that what it says?

You might be tempted but you don’t have to give in to it. Like the old saying goes, Maimonodes I think,”You can’t stop the birds from flying over head but you don’t have to let them build a nest in your hair!” Go ahead – be Special! Be one of God’s peculiar people. Accept the price He paid for you with His death and then pay the price to live for Him. He only asks for everything you have – for the rest of your life!

Is that special enough?

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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“Why This Night?” – a Passover Poem

It’s almost time for Pesach – Passover. The first Feast of the year!

When my husband and I became Messianic some 20 years ago, our children did not embrace our Hebrew roots as we did. This poem was written to help explain Passover and why we celebrate it. I’m still praying for that to happen. I know G-d is faithful and hears my prayers. I have the utmost confidence that it WILL happen one day! Never give up on your loved ones. Keep praying for them. My children are Believers for which I thank G-d, and most of my grandchildren are, too. I expect to spend Eternity with ALL of them!
A Messianic pastor friend made the last verse and the chorus into a song which they sing at their Congregation every year at Passover.

“Why This Night?”

In the beginning God made Man, a gentle and pure creation.
Sad to say, sin came along, causing instant separation.
Abraham of old, God called; his son and grandson too.
To be the fathers of the new, mighty Nation of the Jew.

To Egyptland they made their way, hungry flocks and families came.
Kind Yosef offered food and drink – he didn’t play their kind of game.
That Nation, blessed of God, grew strong ’til a new Pharaoh began to rave.
He decided then and there to make each Jew into a slave.

Four hundred years they bowed their backs, they toiled for the rotten king.
But God had a plan and Moshe was born to lead them out, to dance and to sing.
First came ten plagues with destruction and death. But our heroes all made it out.
They crossed the Red Sea and made it home – with only forty years of doubt….

The night ‘fore they left, they killed a lamb, it’s blood marked the place to be passed.
God’s Chosen were spared and they were set free to claim God’s Promise at last!
So this night we remember the Lamb that was slain. Y’shua, the Passover Lamb.
Not from Egypt, we’re freed but from sin’s dreaded curse and oh how grateful I am.

May you each accept Him –
the Passover Lamb and into your hearts receive
the One who died and rose again.
All you need do is Believe.
All you need do is Believe!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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A Purim Play!

This is a 16 Scene Play, with a Cast of 15, that follows the Biblical account accurately and with humor. It takes place as a TV News story with two news people taking the lead parts. They must be people who can read well and project dramatically.
We have two local newscasters that appear on a nightly news show. His name is Steve Reible and her name is Susan Hutchison. Since this is Purim, and just for fun, we changed his to Steve DREIDEL and hers to Susan HUTCHIN-GROGGER – using two Jewish symbols, the dreidel and the grogger. Enjoy!
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A Short Play for Purim
by Fern Julian Carlson
Finished at 8:10 am , 2/5/2000

“The KAYF Evening News” brings you the best of “Esther” – a play for Purim

Scene One: [News Room]
(Seated at a TV newsdesk, an anchorman reads the “news” from side of stage. Spotlight’s on him.

Newsman : (loud and friendly) “Shalom and welcome from the friendly folks at KAYF Television Studios! This is Steve Dreidel, (slight pause so the name can sink in) bringing you the latest reports from our continuing Top Story of the day. What do you see out there from your post in the field, (say it slowly) Susan Hutchin-grogger?”

Newswoman : (excitedly) “Well, Steve, the riots are continuing! Mass confusion and hysteria rule the evening as the casualty reports flood in! At latest count 75 thousand from all 127 Provinces have been slain. The Jews are proving themselves completely victorious! Seems like Someone or something is fighting for them! For those just tuning in, let’s repeat the story again from the top. Would you play that tape again, please, Steve Dreidel?”

Newsman:
“Sure, Susan, here we have it from the Palace at Shushan:”

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Scene Two: [King’s Palace]
(King Ahashvarosh, seated on his throne, a little tipsy (?) bragging at the party about his queen. Bodyguard stands near. Gold and silver goblets and wine bottles fill a table in front of him. Two advisors sit on either side. Several others are seated around, being very attentive, on silver and gold seats. Background curtains hanging from dividers are blue and white and purple)

“I tell ya, she’s the world’s most beautiful woman – that queen of mine! Smart, too! I wish you could see her – all decked out in her jewels! (pause, as if thinking, then face lights up) You know, the women are all over at her place tonight having their own party. (hand stroking chin) I’ll think I’ll just have her come over and parade around here a while! Nothin’ like a little beauty to liven things up! And this party’s getting a little boring. We’ve been at it for a week now! I’ve spent 6 months showing off all my wealth and possessions – might as well have the little lady top it off! Go on over there, Bigthan and Teresh, and tell her to come at once wearing her finest jewels!”
(The two servants leave)

Scene Three:
[Queen’s Quarters]
Queen Vashti: (sitting around with a few lady guests when messengers arrive)

Messenger #1: “Oh Queen, the King has sent an order – you are to appear at the Palace Party -Room wearing your finest jewels!” (and nothing else!)

Messenger #2: “And the King is in a mood so you’d better hurry!”
Queen Vashti: (jumps up and yells at the king’s servants, hands in the air) “Absolutely NOT! I’m not going over to any drunken party, not NOW – not EVER! I’ll do almost anything the king commands, but not this, uh uh. I am the queen of this land and I WILL keep my dignity!” (She claps her hands twice and Messenger runs up) “Go tell the King I WILL NOT COME!” Messenger rushes over to the King’s Palace)

Bodyguard: (shouts) “The Messenger comes!”
(Messenger whispers in his ear and runs out)
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Scene Four: [King’s Palace]
King Ahash: (furiously jumping to his feet) “WHAT! NOT coming! How dare she? I want her over here, now! I always get what I want! (King leans to one side to his advisor and asks in a little quieter tone) What shall I do – she won’t listen?”

Advisor #1: “O king, may you live forever! I say get rid of her – you know – give her the ax. She is not only messing it up for you, but look ..”

Advisor #2: “…what a bad example she’s going to be for all us other husbands. We’ll have a revolt on our hands if the First Lady is allowed to get by with this!”

King: “Yeah, you’re RIGHT! And I think I’ll send a letter to all my Provinces, you do know I control everything from India to Egypt! I wanta make sure all men STAY boss in their houses! We have to keep these women in their place! (mumbling to himself) Won’t come! I don’t believe this!”
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Scene Five: [News Room]
Newsman: “Well, there you have it – the snowball that started the avalanche! All because Queen Vashti held on to her value system. Was it? – is it worth it to do what you think is right or should you just follow blindly along and do what you are told?” That’s a very important question!

Newswoman: “I think it depends on who is doing the asking. You know this is 483 BC and in modern times like these we have to weigh out the circumstances and count the cost. This time, I’m on the Queen’s side. He’s going to be sorry he got rid of her. These riots are going to cost him plenty! Back to you, Steve.”

Newsman: Thank you, Susan, we have another tape ready.

Scene Six: [King’s Palace]
King: (sitting alone in the semi-darkness, speaks slowly as if depressed) “This is pitiful! It’s so lonely – here at the top! What have I done? I really miss that woman. I think maybe I was a bit too hasty. But what’s done is done and I can’t undo it!”
(Enter King’s advisors:)

#1 says: “What’s the matter? You’re sittin’ here in the dark?”

#2 says: “Yeah, what’s wrong?”

King: “Oh, I’ve just been thinking – I miss my beautiful queen. Maybe I should have taken more time to solve the problem.”
#1 says: (loud and excitedly) “A contest – that’s it! Let’s send throughout all the kingdom and get all the most beautiful, refined young ladies to appear before the king.

#2 says: The one that pleases you the most – make her your new queen!” You’re the king – you can do what you want! (King begins to smile broadly)
*********************************
Scene Seven: [Newsroom]
Newsman: “That’s just what they did. The message went out to all the Provinces. Officers were appointed to scout out and bring in the most beautiful young virgins. It was the mother of all Beauty Contests! And it took a while! It was over a year before the contest could even begin. These girls came in from almost every country in the known world. Many languages and customs had to be dealt with. But the big winner came from right here in Shushan —— Susan, do you have more on that?”

Newswoman: “Yes, I do, Steve. (shuffling through papers) Mordechai, the Jew from the tribe of Benyamin, who has been one of the kings staunchest supporters had adopted his niece – Miss Hadassah, bat Mordechai. Her Jewish name was changed to a more suitable Babylonian one – Esther, named for our goddess, Ishtar. This girl was taken from Mordechai and placed in the care of the king’s chief Harem Keeper. Nobody knew she was a Jew! Those people have been here for years – came in with Daniel in the Great Israeli Captivity back in 605. Anyway, Hadah – or Esther, that is, was a big hit with the crew over in the Harem. She was sweet, sensible and by far the most beautiful! Hegai gave her all sorts of tips on how to please the king. It is said he gave her the costliest ointments and perfumes and saw that she received special treatment. She even got seven serving girls and was moved into the best quarters in the place. She was a shu-in from Shushan and when the Big Day came – sure enough, she won the king’s heart and became Queen Esther! She ——–

Newsman: “Uhhh, Susan, —– (adjusting ear piece) I’m getting a message from the studio.”
It seems there is a hanging going on in the courtyard of Haman’s house. Whoa! Sounds like another mob scene. I remember Haman. He was getting to be quite a favorite around the Palace, here. That is until he lost his head … do you recall what happened, Susan?”

Newswoman: “Yes, Steve, they have that tape ready to roll now. Let’s take a look.”
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Scene Eight: [King’s Palace] King Ahash, his 2 advisors and a few servants)

King: “Who is this Haman, anyway? I always see him here at court. Seems to be watching me and trying to please me all the time. He does seem to have some good ideas.

Advisor #1: “He is a very loyal subject, Your Highness! I think we’ll be seeing a lot of him!”

Advisor #2: “Yes, It will be interesting to see how far he will get in your kingdom, mighty one.”

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Scene Nine: [News Room]
Newsman: “Sorry, that was the wrong tape – could you try it again, please?”
Newswoman: “Sure, but since we’re hearing about Haman, here’s an update on him. (reads from paper) He is an Agagite, comes from Idumea, I think they trace their line clear back to Esau! Sort of a cousin, you might say, to the Jews. They were Amalakites and Amalek was the grandson of Esau. The God of Israel has been against them for years. God even told King Saul to wipe them out but he didn’t do it. No wonder there has been trouble between him and the Jews. (listening intently to earphone) I think they have the right tape up now.”

*********************************
Scene Ten: [Gates of the city of Shushan]
Bigthan and Teresh stand talking animatedly together – angrily . Two or three others sit around. Mordechai sits nearby holding a scroll and thinking out loud.)

Mordecai: “I am so thankful, (raises one hand toward heaven) may His name be praised, for the opportunity given to Hadassah. If only my uncle could see her now! He would be so pleased. His little Hadassah, queen of the Land of Babylon! And her mother, of blessed memory, wouldn’t she be proud? I tried to do my best with her. It’s all in HaShem’s hand’s now. Uhhh, what in the world are those two talking about? I know THEM! That’s Bigthan and Teresh, two thugs that somehow got on the king’s payroll as door-keepers! I don’t like the sound of this! Why, they’re – they’re plotting to … KILL the king! They don’t realize I understand their language. I’ve got to go and report this! (He hurries off to get word to his niece, Queen Esther.)

(Haman and Mordechai pass each other and a few people bow and scrape before Haman – Mordechai keeps walking… doesn’t indicate he even sees him.)

Haman: (wearing black clothes (a cape?) and a three-cornered hat) “Ohhhh! There goes that Mordechai! He makes me furious! Why can’t he realize how great and mighty I am in this kingdom. I’m second to the king now….. I’ve got to come up with something! …. Those Jews are all alike – No respect! I’m going to fix them (louder) – I’m going to fix them all!”
*************************************************
Scene Eleven: [News Room]
Newsman: “That was the beginning of the end for Haman. The story we have is that he went home and spoke with his advisors. They were all are into lottery games, “Dungeons and Dragons” and ouiji board stuff. They threw the dice and made a decision – the date the dice or purim came up with was just before Passover – the 13th day of the month of Adar. Haman went to the king and talked him into letting him write a paper to be sent throughout all 127 provinces calling for ALL Jews to be killed – destroyed, annihilated – zip – done – like dead! The whole schmeer! Susan, is that your consensus?”
Newswoman: “Yes, Steve, Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, succeeded in his diabolical plot to wipe out the Jews from the face of the earth – or at least it looked like he did! He and his cronies plotted all year just how to do this. In the meantime, back at the Palace, Queen Esther found out what was coming. She couldn’t see her Uncle Mordechai, because she couldn’t leave her quarters, but she had a trusted servant communicate with him regularly. Mordechai – well, don’t we have something on film?”

Newsman: “Yes, Susan, I think we can do that…”

***********************************

Scene Twelve: [Gates of the city]
Mordechai: (wearing sackcloth and putting ashes on his head…and giving mournful cries) “I can’t remove these clothes – this is a sign of my mourning! Doesn’t Hadassah know what’s going on? Surely, there is a plan and a way of escape for our people. (He drops to his knees and murmurs a prayer [count slowly to 20]. Arises with a smile and says:) I will get word to the queen! I will give her the decree against us. Perhaps it was for such a time as this that Hadassah has become queen of all the land. It covers the earth. If the Jews are annihilated…, (bows head) noooo. I won’t even think this. YES, there IS a plan!”
*******************************************

Scene Thirteen: [Queen’s Quarters]
Esther: (seated with servant and reading a large scroll …) “My people are in great danger – I must do something to help. No wonder I was made queen! I have to think of a way to get to the king.”

Servant: “But my queen, he hasn’t called for you for a month. If you go into his presence without being summoned, you could be put to death! There must be another way.” (starts to cry)

Esther: I will ask Mordechai to gather our people here in Shushan and fast for three days. There will be no Passover Seder for us this year! Girls, we must fast and in three days I need you to help me get ready to approach the king. I WILL get in to see him. I MUST or we all perish.” (She bows her head)
***********************************

Scene Fourteen: [Haman’s House]
Haman: (yelling loudly) “Zeresh, get in here! We have to talk! (She comes slowly into the room from down the aisle wiping her hands on a dish towel and mumbling loudly to herself – what does he want NOW! Running around all hoity-toity to the queen‘s banquet and I have to stay home and do all the work. Reaches Haman‘s side)

Zeresh: (bows slightly and sweetly says -) “Yes Dear, what is it?”

Haman: (seated, speaks angrily and overly loud – ) “I had such a great time tonight – even got invited back tomorrow! Yes, I did have a good time, that is until that jerk Mordechai just SAT there at the gate – not bowing – no show of respect. Nothing! Man, I hate that guy! I can hardly wait ‘til he’s DEAD! I hope I get the honor myself! Yes! (with an evil smile) I’ll insist on it!”

Zeresh: (rolling her eyes and mouths to the audience, ‘OH, brother!’) “Yes, I know you hate him hanging around – well, if he’s going to do that – why not let him REALLY hang around! Build a gallows 75 feet high and let him swing!”

Haman: “Hey! Excellent idea!” (smiling, holds her shoulders at arm‘s length) “You’re no Queen Esther, but you’re not so bad yourself!” I’ll get started right now!” (gives her a hug and runs off)

Zeresh: (throws her hands up, rolls her eyes so the audience can see and sighing, turns and goes back down the aisle)
*********************************
Scene Fifteen: [Queen’s Quarter’s]
King Ahash: (sitting at the table, holding his glass and gazing at the queen) “I am still amazed at your beauty, Queen Esther! And now, you MUST tell me. Haman and I have come these two nights at your request, but tell me my lovely one, what is it you REALLY want? I will give you up to half of my kingdom.”

Queen Esther: (arises from the table and kneels at his feet – back NOT to the audience – says passionately) ”Oh my Lord, if you care for me at all and if it pleases you – just let me live!”

King Ahash: “My dearest Esther, let you live? I have become so fond of you. (hand on her shoulder) I would never want anything to happen to you. Are you ill? What are you saying?”
(Haman starts to look really nervous and antsy, begins to wring his hands – but not overly so as to look too fakey)

Queen Esther: “I am to die – I and all my people. You see, I am a Jewess from Israel, of the tribe of Benyamin. Forgive me for not telling you but you didn’t ask … and now we are all to be destroyed because of a wicked man’s pride!”
King Ahash: (excitedly and loud) “WHO – WHO would dare to set his heart to do such a thing? Where is he?

Queen Esther: (now standing) “The enemy of our people sits before you! (she turns to face Haman and points to him) He’s the one!”
(Haman looks very scared and sits shaking his head slowly and jerking a little)
(the king gets up and starts toward him, then changes his mind and quickly exits)
(Esther falls on the couch and leans to one side, head in her hand)
(Haman runs to her and kneels close to her in the direction she is leaning kind of on the couch, grabs her hand with both of his)
King Ahash: ( returns to the scene and shouts) “What is this? Will you try to attack the queen right here before me! Guard! Seize him!” (The bodyguard and messengers rush in. Bodyguard covers his face and takes him out.)
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Scene Sixteen [Newsroom]
Newsman: “Well, that’s the wrap up, folks, and that’s all we have time for this go-round.” Susan, do you have anything to add?
Newswoman: “I think that about covers it for this hour – word is that the Jews have made quite a name for themselves and they plan to immortalize this day by celebrating it every year on this date – Adar 14. They have declared a holiday and are sending gifts to each other AND (S L O W L Y) I hear somebody’s writing a book! Back to you, Steve.”

Newsman: “Thank you, Susan, see you next hour. Goodnight from beautiful downtown Shushan and thanks to all the good people at KAYF Television (nods to the audience) for sponsoring this newscast.

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
********************************************

Y’hoshua con’t…. Part XIII

To begin this study at the beginning – click on March 1st and then every highlighted day on the March calendar. Today marks the final chapter!

Chapter 24

The History of the Children of Israel
Y’hoshua recalled the history of his people. Abraham – Abram at the time – was the first one to “cross over” the river “Eber”, on their way to the Promised Land. Therefore, Abraham became the first Hebrew.
Ya’acov (Jacob) became the first Israelite and Yhudah (Judah, son of Jacob) was the first Jew. I know this is technical information – but it is true! The Brit Chadasha (New Testament) speaks of “the Jews” because they were mainly the only ones left in the land. Today, all Hebrews/Israelites are all lumped together as “Jews”. Every Jew is a Hebrew – but not every Hebrew is a Jew.

Y’hoshua had an excellent memory. Truth was passed from father to son and great care was taken to keep it all accurate. G-d was always there for His people – and He will always be there for YOU. He gives us choices and when we make the right ones – we thrive and survive. When we rebel and act up against Him – we pay! It’s not worth it. One generation tries to tell their children how to live and do they listen and obey? No! They have to make all the same mistakes and receive all their bumps. All we can do is pray for our children, live a good example before them and trust G-d to pull them through. We wish we could spare them the pain that we went through but it is not possible. Each generation must face the battle and win or lose according to their faith and obedience to G-d.

Here is a great “speech” from the Lord that Y’hoshua passed on at Shechem:
“I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant. Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil for you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…… But as for me and my house – we will serve the Lord.”

G-d created Adam and Chavah (Eve) with a free will. He wanted them to have the choice of obeying Him or listening to hasatan (the devil). He could have created puppets or robots to do His will and love only Him, but that isn’t love! You can’t force that. It is freely given or withheld. It’s a choice. He wanted humans to have a choice and He wanted them to choose Him. We have always had choices —– and usually we have chosen wrong! He created us to be His friends – His children. He wants all of us – freely given. After all He has done for us, is that too much to ask?

The children of Israel that day at Shechem promised faithfully to serve the Lord and Him only. Y’hoshua warned them they would be severely punished if they broke their word – which, of course they did. How like them we all are! Y’hoshua made a covenant with the people and erected a huge stone as a witness and a memorial to that fact. The people then returned to their homes all over the land.

The bones of Yosef (Joseph) that were carried out of Egypt were buried in Shechem. Eleazar, the son of Aaron died and was also buried in the lands of Ephraim.

Y’hoshua died at 110 and was buried on his land, on the north side of Mt. Gaash. The people served G-d all the days of Y’hoshua’s life. This goes to show the people follow their pastors, their leaders. A Congregation is only as good as it’s pastor. A country is only as good as it’s leaders. And so ends the history of Y’hoshua, the namesake of the Son of G-d.

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Y’hoshua con’t…. Part XII

To begin this study at the beginning – click on March 1st and then every highlighted day on the March calendar.

Chapter 21 b

When these two and a half tribes reached the Jordan River, they erected a great impressive altar on the west side. When the rest of Israel heard this, they were shocked and appalled…. And prepared to go to war against them. They sent The priest’s son and ten rulers from the tribes to find out what was going on. It’s still good to “count to ten” and get to the bottom of a problem before you start getting radical about it! Many of us “shoot and ask questions later..”

The “Western group” accused them of treachery and rebellion against G-d. They felt G-d would be angry with the whole Congregation for them doing such a thing. They offered them other lands if their first choice was “unclean” and reminded them of Achan’s sin and how they had all suffered because of it.

The “Eastern group” accepted them and gently provided an answer. They said because of the River, the main Congregation might feel, in years to come, that the “eastern’ group were so detached from them that they would no longer recognize them as brethren. They built the altar, not for sacrifice or burnt offerings but as a memorial and a witness to their relationship. They promised they meant no harm or disrespect to G-d or to the rest of Israel.

What a relief! Everybody went home happy and they called the altar “Witness” “for it is a witness between us that the Lord is G-d!”

Chapter 22

Many years later, after there had been peace in the land, Y’hoshua called for all Israel to come and gave them this message. He said he was “old, and advanced in age.” He reminded them of all that had happened and admonished them to be ’very courageous’ and to keep doing all of the Lord’s commandments. He warned them not to mingle with the nations around them, intermarry with them or even speak the name of their gods. He told them how G-d was with them and fought for them and how one man could chase a thousand – with G-d at his side.

He wanted them to be a living “Shema”, loving G-d with all their hearts and souls and strength. He continued reminding them that their future was with the Lord and only sorrow and everlasting shame would be theirs should they turn away from the Lord G-d of Israel. How sad that in these last days maybe 80% of Israel is secular and not following the Lord. We see the words of Y’hoshua are coming to pass. There may soon be a Palestinian State and that will surely signal the beginning of the end…. We must pray for the peace of Israel and do all we can to convince our leaders that our survival depends on our treatment of Israel. Will we be cursed or blessed? It all depends on how we treat His land and His people. Scripture tells us that one day Israel will stand alone against the world. That saddens me. Would that America stand with Israel and continue to be a great and strong Nation. G-d help us!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Y’hoshua con’t…. Part XI

Y’hoshua con’t…. Part XI
To begin this study at the beginning – click on March 1st and then every highlighted day on the March calendar.

Chapter 20

Cities of Refuge
The Lord spoke to Y’hoshua and told him to appoint “six cities of refuge” for the children of Israel and for the gerim among them. A ger (say gare) is one who lives among the Israelis and stands with them. One might say they are adopted in. I am a ger, and proud to be one! The people leaving Egypt during the time of the exodus were called a “mixed multitude”. There were many, many non-Jews among them who were accepted and adopted into the various tribes. They received land right along with the Israelis. Same rules applied for all.

There were three cities on the west side of the Jordan River and three on the east side. They were pretty well spaced to allow access to all the people. The purpose for these cities was this: If an Israeli accidentally killed another Israeli without meaning to they could flee to the nearest city of refuge and be safe from the family of the victim. In those days, if someone was murdered, the family had the right to go after them and kill them. There was no long court battle, no endless amount of attorney’s fees and no super long delays for those on “death row”. Plain and simple – if you murdered someone, your life was taken immediately. When you arrived in one of these cities, you went to the gate and declared your innocence to the elders of the city. There was, of course, no radio, no TV, and no newspapers. The city gate was the place where people went to “catch the news”. Important men of the city gathered there to decide matters, hear the latest, and be seen by the inhabitants and travelers coming and going. The refugee was given a place to live and I would suppose, employment of some kind. Then he went before the Congregation to be examined. If you were found innocent, you had to stay inside that city until the death of the Cohen HaGadol (high priest). After that he could safely return to his own city and take up his life without fear of retaliation.

Chapter 21

The Levites were given 48 cities and their common lands. Many of them were also cities of refuge. The land was thus divided and Israel was able to rest. None of their enemies stood against them and everything happened just as G-d said it would. It was a good time for the Israelites.

Chapter 22

The two tribes and the half tribe which were granted land on the east of the Jordan had been requested to leave their families on their new lands and the warriors were to do battle along side the rest of the nation until all had received their portion. This was now accomplished. Y’hoshua commended them for their good work and sent them home to their families. He sent them with his blessing as these words – which are apropos for us today. I think this verse would be a good one to memorize and live by!

Joshua 22:5: But take diligent heed to do the commandment which Moses, the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your G-d, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and soul.

If we do this, we will be doing well!

See you next time …
Shalom, Sharaka
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Y’hoshua con’t…. Part X

To begin this study at the beginning – click on March 1st and then every highlighted day on the March calendar.

Chapter 17

This chapter tells about the land given to the half tribe of Manassah. The rest of their tribe already had a spot east of the Jordan. These people wanted a great area for their own but they were hesitant to go in and claim it, saying that the people were too much for them. They did not succeed in driving out the Canaanites but put them to forced labor.

When we have things in our lives that are not pleasing to G-d, we simply need to get rid of them. However, this is not always so simple! Instead, we often make a place for our pet sins in our lives and try to live with them. Everyone else’s sin is always so much worse than our own! Let’s ask G-d to check our hearts today and see if there be any sins left lying around. Sin must be recognized and gotten rid of or we can never live up to the full potential G-d has given us.

Chapter 18

“The Congregation of the Children of Israel”……..assembled together at Shiloh.

“Congregation” is the English translation of the phrase “called out ones”. Those that G-d, Himself, has called out and they that have answered the call. The Greek word for this is erroneously translated as “church”. Christian Biblical scholars have taught that the “church” was born at Pentecost (Acts 2:1) another Greek word meaning “50 weeks” or as the Hebrews say “Shavuot”. The “called out” ones were, in fact, called out at Mt Sinai hundreds of years before. The word “church” comes from the pagan word “kirke”. The Old English word KIRKE was the word referring to their pagan places of worship. When they became Christianized, the Anglo-Saxons continued to call their places of worship KIRKES and as the language evolved “churches”. It is still a pagan word and I prefer to say Congregation because G-d did.

The tent of meeting, or tabernacle, was set up at Shiloh. In Samuel, it is erroneously translated as Temple. Remember the Temple was not built until the day of Solomon.

Seven tribes did not yet have their land and Y’hoshua was a little disgusted with that. He told them to pick out three men from each of the seven tribes and to go survey the land and divide it into seven sections. They were then to bring the information to Y’hoshua, who would cast lots before the Lord in Shiloh — there we go with the lots again — to see who got what. Yhudah (Judah) was already situated in the South and Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) in the North.

It turned out that Benyamin received land near Judah and included the city of Jabus (later changed to Yerushalayim or Jerusalem) This was the birthplace of their father, Benyamin, so it rightly belonged to his descendents. He was the only son of Ya’acov (Jacob) born in the Land.

Chapter 19

Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan received their portions. When they finished the task, a special city was given to Y’hoshua. It was the one he asked for – Timnath Serah in the mountains of Ephraim. He was an Ephraimite. This was the end of dividing up the Land.

You might say the Land of Israel was somewhat like the United States of America. Each tribe was responsible for their own portion but they were united under the leadership of Y’hoshua, and ultimately – G-d. Would that that would be true of America!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Patrick of Ireland

Let’s take time out to review this bit of History on this the anniversary of the death of the first missionary to Ireland. I don’t know all the true story, but from what I have studied (being Irish…) I have come to believe Patrick was a follower of Y’shua and loved Him with all his heart. He was a Welchman, who spent his first 16 years just treading water, so to speak. He knew of G-d, but he didn’t really KNOW G-d. It took being a slave to bring him to his knees and give himself to the Lord G-d Almighty. This story appeared on the 700 Club. Take it or leave it. I hope it’s all true!

Patricius: the True Story of St. Patrick

By David Kithcart, 700 Club Producer

CBN.com – Before all the festivities focused on shamrocks and leprechauns and good luck wishes, there was truly something to
celebrate: a man willing to stand in the gap for Jesus Christ. Reporter David Kithcart reveals the inspiring true story behind this courageous and fervent Irishman we all know as Saint Patrick.

It was an act of defiance that changed the course of a nation. Patrick lit a fire in pagan 5th century Ireland, ushering Christianity into the country. Who was this man who became the patron saint of Ireland?

Ireland was a beautiful island shrouded in terrible darkness. Warlords and druids ruled the land. But across the sea in Britain, a teen-ager was poised to bring this nation to God.

Patrick was born into a well-to-do Christian family. His father was a deacon; his grandfather a priest. The 16-year-old was living in a place called Bannavem Taburniae, somewhere on the mainland of Britain.

The Dark Ages were falling across Europe.

“The lights of the Greek and Roman civilizations, the Greek and Roman world, particularly the Western Roman Empire — these lights were going out. Barbarian invasions from the North were sweeping down, and it looked as if it were a serious threat to two things: one, civilization itself; and, second, to Christianity and the Christian church,” says Irish historian Harold Calvert.

Around 400 A.D., Patrick was abducted from his village and thrown onto a slave ship headed for Ireland.

Now enslaved, the frightened young Patrick landed on the Irish seacoast, not sure of what his fate would be. His thoughts turned to the faith he had once taken so lightly.

“He admits that he was a Christian, the son of a Roman decorio, deacon Corpornius,” says Most Rev. Sean Brady, DCL Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland. “He wasn’t very strong in his faith; he was indifferent, lax. He saw that as God chastising him, first of all. That was his first view. He says we deserved what we got. We’re carried of at 16 years of age over to this foreign land.”

Patrick was sold to a druid chieftain named Milchu. He spent six years tending his master’s flocks on the slopes of the Slemish Mountain. Patrick recounts his time as a slave in his memoir entitled The Confession.

” ‘I prayed a hundred times in the day and almost as many at night,’ ” says Rev. Brady, quoting Patrick’s Confession. “Through that experience of prayer and trial, he came to know another God — God the Father, who was his protector. He came to know Jesus Christ in those sufferings, and he came to be united with Christ and he came to identify with Christ, and then of course, also the Holy Spirit, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God had walked in his life.”

One night during a time of prayer and fasting, Patrick wrote: “I heard in my sleep a voice saying to me: ‘It is well that you fast. Soon you will go to your own country.’ And again, after a short while, I heard a voice saying to me: ‘See, your ship is ready.’ ”

Patrick escaped and traveled 200 miles cross country to the west coast. He found a ship ready to sail, but was refused passage. After a desperate prayer, he was allowed aboard.

Patrick eventually returned to his home and family. His experience of God’s grace and provision solidified his faith. He began to study for the ministry.

Says Calvert, “Now, sometimes people ask — they certainly ask it here in Ireland — ‘Was Patrick a Roman Catholic or was he Protestant?’ The short answer to that is he was neither. He was a 5th century Christian, a 5th century Christian bishop.”

Years later, Patrick wrote of another dream, a dream that would shape a nation.

“He said he heard the voice of the Irish calling him back,” says Rev. Brady about Patrick’s mission. “But basically, it was that he believed that he had something good, the message of life to bring back to the Irish. That’s what took him back, this vocation, God’s grace working in him calling him back.”

Patrick convinced his church that he was called to be a missionary to Ireland.

Patrick landed at the mouth of the Slaney River, a river that is strong enough to take a ship the size of Patrick and run it aground. When Patrick set foot on this shore, a new era dawned on this island.

“The Ireland of his day really wasn’t much different from the Ireland of a few years ago here where we are sitting here at this moment,” notes Most Reverend Dr. Robert Eames, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland. “It was an Ireland of tribalism, an Ireland of war, an Ireland of suspicion, an Ireland of violence and death. Here he came as a virtual stranger to this country of warring factions.”

Patrick came face to face with the chieftains and their druid priests. The showdown came on the morning of his first Easter in Ireland.

Monsignor Raymond Murray, parish priest of Cookstown in Northern Ireland explains further: “You had many kingdoms in Ireland, but you had a high king who dwelt at Tara. And part of the pagan worship of fall to spring, from the beginning of the summer, was that a fire was lit, and first of all, the fire on the hill of Tara and no other lights at all in Ireland. So this gave a great symbolism of the sun rising. And, of course, he was a ‘sun king,’ if you like.”

This monastery on the hill of Slane is where Patrick — in direct defiance of the high king of Tara — lit a forbidden fire.

“The druids looked out and saw this fire,” notes Rev. Brady. “Who dared to break the law of the king? He was summoned before the king, and he explained that he wasn’t a threat, because he was bringing the new light, the light of Christ, the Savior of the world, the Light of the world. And he was not punished. He was allowed to go his way and continue his ministry.”

“The first light of Easter day was dawning. Patrick brought the hope of Easter day to Ireland,” says Rev. Eames.

The weather can be absolutely brutal here in Ireland. But just imagine how it must’ve been for Patrick in the 5th century as he trekked across the countryside bringing the Gospel to the pagan Celts.

“The dangers he faced from wild animals and sometimes from bans of men, violent men, he mentions in The Confession. He mentions how he was put in chains in various occasions, brutally treated, and so on,” notes Calvert. “He did suffer a great deal for his faith as a Christian as he carried on his work.”

“You might say, here in Ireland you had the old death, destruction, and combat and fight. And here comes a man of peace with a new message,” says Monsignor Murray.

“Preaching the Gospel, of course, baptizing converts, confirming them, appointing clergy, and training young men who would become leaders in Christian mission work, training them for ordination,” continues Calvert.

In 432 A.D., Patrick built a church on the site of the present day St. Patrick’s Memorial Church in Saul — the first ever Christian church in all of Ireland. It’s considered the cradle of Irish Christianity.

Celtic Christians believe that God is interwoven with all aspects of life and that He is at the heart of it all. Just look at part of Patrick’s poem “The Breastplate” in paraphrase:

“Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”

Myths and legends have grown up around this hero of Ireland.

As Monsignor Murray explains, it is sometimes difficult to describe the triune aspect of God. So, according to the story, to better illustrate the central teaching of the trinity, Patrick took a shamrock and pointed out the three leaves on it. Interestingly, it is only in Ireland that you find this shamrock. Therefore, the people believed.

This is not the only legend born from Patrick’s ministry.

“One of the famous legends, of course, is that Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland,” says Calvert. In fact, any snakes in Ireland had disappeared during the Ice Age. “The legend about the driving of the snakes may, in fact, really symbolize the driving out of evil spirits, evil powers, and so on,” says Calvert.

Patrick’s ministry lasted 29 years. He baptized over 120,000 Irishmen and planted 300 churches. Ireland had been won to Christ.

To this day, no one knows where Patrick is buried, but many believe that it is somewhere beneath the church on the hill at Down Cathedral.

“People, I think, are aware of the debt which we owe to Patrick. We need to reflect more upon that, that he was a man who came to face and help his former enemies, for example, those who had enslaved him. He came back to help them and to do them a great favor, the greatest favor he possibly could,” says Rev. Brady.

“I honestly feel that what Patrick taught Ireland was that there is a cost to discipleship, but it’s a cost worth paying. And I believe, to bring this right up to date, the church of St. Patrick must be constantly saying to people, ‘Discipleship demands of you, but it’s a cost that Christ will help you to pay.

Back to Y’hoshua tomorrow!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Y’hoshua con’t…. Part IX

To begin this study at the beginning – click on March 1st and then every highlighted day on the March calendar.

Chapter 14

The land was divided by lot. Remember Jonah was chosen by ‘lot’ to see who was to blame for the storm when the ship sailed from Yaffa? The replacement disciple for Judas was chosen by ‘lot’ and by ‘lot’ the day chosen to kill all the Jews in the Book of Esther was decided. Many decisions of that day were made by ‘lot’ or a throw of the dice. It was thought that YHVH would speak through this method.

Concerning Calev/Caleb: Caleb, which means ‘dog’, and was a slang term for Gentile, was one of the two men out of the twelve who gave a good report concerning the Land when they were sent in to spy it out. He was the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite, but adopted into the tribe of Judah. He was chosen to go into the land as the one representing the tribe of Judah. There is much in the Bible concerning adoption. The expression, “to bear a child upon the knees” refers to adoption. (See Genesis 30:3) As Believers, we are adopted into the Commonwealth of Israel. That makes us former Gentiles just as loved and able to inherit the same as the Israelites! We can now be rightly called Israelites and therefore Children of G-d, too!

Caleb came to Y’hoshua at Gilgal, where they still had their original camp, and asked for certain land that he had wanted. Moshe promised him the land where “your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance.” It was time to collect! He was 85 years old and as strong as he ever had been. Y’hoshua blessed him and gave him Hebron, the mountain he wanted. This word is pronounced “heh-BRON”, sounding the “O”, not “HEB-rahn”. This is where King David ruled his first seven and a half years before he reigned in Yerushalayim. It is where Abram lived with his family for so many years. The current administration in Israel today wants the PA to rule over Hebron. How ironic and sad! The original name of this city was called Kirjath Arba, and it is also still there today. Caleb took his land and Israel rested from war.

Chapter 15

This chapter deals with the borders of the land given to Judah. An interesting side note tells us about how Caleb offered his daughter, Achsah, to who ever conquered the city called Debir (Kirjath Sephir) in his portion of land. His nephew wanted her so he went up and conquered the city.

The Jebusites were living in Yerushalayim at that time. The children of Judah were never successful in driving them out so they lived together in harmony. Remember that Ornan, the Jubusite, sold King David the threshing floor where the Temple was built?

Chapter 16

The lands given to the sons of Joseph are revealed here.

G-d has a specific place for you. A spot perhaps no one else can fill. It is so important to be obedient to what the Lord has for you to do so that your job will get done. If you have no idea what your ministry is, ask Him. He will show you what His plan is for your life. You just need to surrender to Him and determine in your heart to follow His will for you.

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Y’hoshua con’t…. Part VIII

To begin this study at the beginning – click on March 1st.

Chapter 12

This chapter names all 31 kings and their cities that were defeated by Moshe and Y’hoshua in the Land.

It is true that G-d GAVE the Land to his people – but they had to go in and take it! It is true that G-d has provided healing for us – by His stripes we were healed – notice the past tense. Yes, we ARE healed, but we have to claim our healing and possibly do something toward it. We need to eat the right foods, drink enough pure water, get enough sleep and enough exercise, think pure thoughts, stay away from evil, etc. etc. We must do our part to be well and healthy. You’ve heard the old saying: “G-d helps those who help themselves.” Well, I can also say G-d helps those who cannot help themselves! If we do our part to keep our bodies – our temples – in the right condition, then G-d is able to do what we cannot and bring healing. He is ALWAYS able to heal us, but sometimes for whatever reason He does not. He is a sovereign G-d who has His reasons. He never makes mistakes, never comes too soon or too late. He ALWAYS answers prayer – Yes! Every one! The answer is “Yes, No or not now!”

Chapter 13

By this time Y’hoshua was old. He had lead the people many years. The Lord told him he was old and yet there was still much land to be possessed. It was time to stop fighting and divide up the land to the nine and a half tribes that had none as yet. Remember that Moshe had given some land to the north east of the Jordan River to Reuben, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh because they asked him for it? The Levites were the only tribe who were not given land. That still made 12 tribes to inherit the land…. Joseph’s two children, Ephraim and Manasseh, were each made a separate tribe, leaving Levi landless. Their job was to serve in the Temple (which hadn’t been built yet). The Levites were later divided up into 24 courses and each course served at the Temple for two weeks twice a year as well as during the three pilgrimage feasts when all the males were to come up to Jerusalem. They were given some of the offerings that came from the people’s sacrifices. The Levites lived in certain cities and had a certain amount of land that they could raise their gardens and a few animals to sustain their households. Every Israeli was a farmer!

See you tomorrow!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Y’hoshua – Part VII

To begin this study at the beginning – click on March 1st.

Chapter 10

Even as far back as this, there was a Jerusalem! And the king (named the Lord is righteous) of it heard about the Israelites. At that time, every big city had its king. These were all Amorites. King Adoni-tzedek called on the kings of four other cities to join with him and attack Gibeon to pay them back for making a treaty with Israel. All their armies camped before Gibeon and prepared to war against them. Naturally, Gibeon called upon their new “brethren” to come to their aid and the Israelites felt duty-bound to go to war. G-d Himself, told Y’hoshua not to fear, that they would win this battle. The Israelites soldiers marched all night to reach Gibeon and a great battle was fought. The Israelis quickly won. After they had battled a long while, – the Lord sent great hailstones down upon the Amorites and more were killed from the hailstones than from the sword!

Y’hoshua was so elated at this victory, that he called upon the sun to stand still so he could continue the battle. And it did! For about the space of a whole day, the sun did not move from its place. This had never happened before nor did it happen again! Y’hoshua must have been a very righteous man, zealous for G-d in all his ways. Daylight lasted until all the enemies were slaughtered. The five kings ran from the battle and hid themselves in a cave. They were discovered and brought to Y’hoshua who killed them and hung them from five trees until sunset. Does this sound somehow familiar? What other king do you know that was hung from a tree and released before sunset? This record was found in the Book of Jasher. I haven’t ever read that book —– it has been lost to us. Just as well, I don’t really like war stories anyway!

Y’hoshua and his men were now on a roll!! They marched against and took seven cities and then won cities with their kings from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza clear up to Gibeon. They “destroyed all that breathed”. The Lord G-d fought for Israel and no one could stand against them. After this, the men returned to their camp at Gilgal.

Chapter 11

The great Israeli warriors, with G-d as their General, took most all of the land. They took the spoil (valuables and goods of the conquered cities) and the livestock but killed every human. They even destroyed the Anakim – the giants of the land. They remained only in Gath, in Gaza and in Ashdod. Remember Goliath from Gath? When all these battles were fought and won, the men returned to their families and rested from war.

We as Believers today are in a battle. Everybody you know almost is in the middle of some kind of a battle – physically, financially, or spiritually. We can win! We are winners! All we have to do is stay close to the Lord and listen to His plan for us. If we obey – we can conquer! If we refuse to listen to Him and obey His voice, we will be lost. Looks like we have two choices: Listen and live or refuse and lose.
What’s your choice today?

….to be continued
Shalom, Sharaka
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Y’hoshua – Part VI

Chapter 8

The Lord told Y’hoshua NOT to be afraid – now that the sin in the camp had been taken care of. We sin. We ALL sin – and when we do, bad things happen. But when we repent and ask forgiveness, things can go back to ‘normal’. Except – there is always a price to pay, forgiven or not. One family of Judah was gone forever. Completely wiped out. That was a tremendous loss. A murderer can be caught, placed in jail and sentenced to death. What if they repent, ask forgiveness of G-d and the victim’s family? Yes, G-d will forgive them and they will spend eternity with Him – BUT most likely, they will still have to pay the penalty here for what they did. They can witness to others on Death Row and lead them to teshuvah (repent with the intention of never doing it again) But they will still die!

Thirty thousand warriors went up to Ai and this time won the battle and 12,000 people were slaughtered! G-d allowed them to take the spoil and the cattle for themselves. (Reward for obedience?) These are hard things to understand. Maybe we never will. All I can say is, if they left anyone alive, even the youngest ones, one day down the road they most likely would have rebelled and turned against the Israelites and would be a ‘thorn in their sides’ forever! G-d doesn’t make mistakes and whatever He says is right, no matter how hard it seems to us.

Y’hoshua built an altar to the Lord and sacrifices were made. I’m sure they worshipped the Lord at that time, even though Scripture does not record it. Y’hoshua read every word of Torah to the people. It specifically mentions the foreigners among them., proving once again there is no separation between races when you give your life to the Lord. All are treated the same – receiving good and bad at the Lord’s hand.

Chapter 9

The entire countryside, from the all the coasts along the Mediterranean Sea clear up to Lebanon, heard what had happened at these cities and the people were terrified but they decided to come as one against the Bnei Yisrael – the Children of Israel. One group of peoples – the Gibeonites, from three days away, came up with a clever plan. They dressed in raggy clothes and worn out shoes. They made themselves look as if they had traveled a very long way and approached Y’hoshua, pretending to have come from a far off country and had heard about G-d’s people. They said they had come to make a covenant with them. Y’hoshua did not consult with G-d about this and was tricked into making peace with them. They left happy! Soon their secret was found out, as all secrets are sooner or later and they got caught. However, since the covenant was made in good faith – even with such a lie involved, Y’hoshua would not break his word. The Gibeonites were allowed to live and be slaves to the Israelites. They worked as woodcutters and water drawers for generations. This was the curse they received. When we lie and deceive, there is always a terrible price to pay and it lasts on and on! Best thing to do is repent and ask the Lord to forgive you and then make Him Lord of your life! Many people believe in G-d! But that’s not enough! Even the devil himself believes in G-d. Won’t do HIM any good! If we love Him, we are to keep His commandments – Torah – all that applies to us today.

The ABCs of salvation are:
Admit that you are a sinner. All have sinned and come short of the glory of G-d. Ask G-d’s forgiveness. Romans 10:13
Believe on the Lord Y’shua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ) and thou shalt be saved. John 3:16 Become a child of G-d by receiving Y’shua. John1:12
Confess that Y’shua is the Lord of your life (Romans 10:9) and that you will obey Him. He said, “If you love me – keep My commandments.

…..to be continued.

See you next time!
Shalom Sharaka
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