And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. Revelation 17:4-5
“Israel and Judah were never united again... Surprisingly, they even fought wars against each other from time to time... A very important fact that many do not realize is that Judah, that is, the Jewish people of today, are only one of the tribes of Israel - while all Jews are Israelites, not all Israelites are Jews.
“Because of their forsaking of Him, God permitted the two kingdoms to be destroyed. First, the northern kingdom of Israel was gradually conquered by the Assyrians,… and by 721 B.C. they had practically all been taken into exile to Assyria (2 Kings 17:1-23). The vast majority of them never returned, and have become known as the ‘Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.’
“Then, about 135 years later, by 586 B.C., the southern kingdom of Judah was completely conquered by the Babylonians,... and the people of Judah were taken into captivity to Babylon. The original Temple of God in Jerusalem was destroyed at that time... The people of the southern kingdom of Judah however did return after the Babylonians fell to the Persians..., and their descendants have become the Jewish people of today - but that return in the time of Nehemiah, or the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948, were not the fulfillment of the many prophecies dealing with the future (as the context of the prophecies clearly show) gathering of all of Israel, Israel and Judah.”
“In his De Vita Contemplativa the Alexandrian Philo makes an extremely remarkable description of an ascetic community with which he was familiar and which was settled not far from Alexandria, namely above Lake Mareotis. Philo's intention in this treatise is...to sketch the way of life of a specific monastic community of Egyptian Jewish ascetics. At the very beginning of his treatise, Philo notes the substantial contrast between the Therapeutae and another Jewish ascetic sect, the Essenes. The Essenes led a more practical and active life, while the Therapeutae were dedicated to contemplative life. One could observe also other differences between the two ascetic traditions. The Essenes were exclusively male communities while women participated in the communal gatherings of the Therapeutae communities. Although the Essene’s highly organized communal life involved great frugality, there is no conclusive evidence that it denied the lawfulness of marriage. The ascetic tradition of the Therapeutae, on the other hand, insisted on absolute sexual abstinence. The Therapeutae did not practice the Essene communistic way of life but lived separately as anchorites. They practiced renunciation of property, living a life of severe discipline, fasting and praying daily according to an established horarium.” (The Therapeutae of Philo)
“The Alexandrian fathers furnished a theoretical basis for this asceticism in the distinction of a lower and higher morality, which corresponds to the Platonic or Pythagorean distinction between the life according to nature and the life above nature or the practical and contemplative life. It was previously suggested by Hermas about the middle of the second century. Tertullian made a corresponding opposite distinction of mortal and venial sins. Here was a source of serious practical errors, and an encouragement both to moral laxity and ascetic extravagance. The ascetics, and afterwards the monks, formed or claimed to be a moral nobility, a spiritual aristocracy, above the common Christian people; as the clergy stood in a separate caste of inviolable dignity above the laity, who were content with a lower grade of virtue. Clement of Alexandria, otherwise remarkable for his elevated ethical views, requires of the sage or gnostic, that he excel the plain Christian not only by higher knowledge, but also by higher, emotionless virtue, and stoical superiority to all bodily conditions; and he inclines to regard the body, with Plato, as the grave and fetter of the soul. How little he understood the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith, may be inferred from a passage in the Stromata, where be explains the word of Christ: ‘Thy faith hath saved thee,’ as referring, not to faith simply, but to the Jews only, who lived according to the law; as if faith was something to be added to the good works, instead of being the source and principle of the holy life. Origen goes still further, and propounds quite distinctly the catholic doctrine of two kinds of morality and piety, a lower for all Christians, and a higher for saints or the select few. He includes in the higher morality works of supererogation, i.e. works not enjoined indeed in the gospel, yet recommended as counsels of perfection, which were supposed to establish a peculiar merit and secure a higher degree of blessedness. He who does only what is required of all is an unprofitable servant; but he who does more, who performs, for example, what Paul, in 1 Cor. 7:25, merely recommends, concerning the single state, or like him, resigns his just claim to temporal remuneration for spiritual service, is called a good and faithful servant. Among these works were reckoned martyrdom, voluntary poverty, and voluntary celibacy.” (“Heretical and Catholic Asceticism”)
“While the treatment of Jews by the Romans in Palestine was often harsh, relations with the rulers in Rome were generally much better. Julius Caesar, for example, was known to be a friend of the Jews; he allowed them to settle anywhere in the Roman Empire. According to historians, when Caesar was assassinated by Brutus in 44 B.C.E., Roman Jews spent day and night at Caesar’s tomb, weeping over his death. His successor, Augustus, also acted favorably toward the Jews and even scheduled his grain distribution so that it would not interfere with the Jewish Sabbath. Two synagogues were founded by slaves who had been freed by Augustus (14 C.E.) and by Agrippa (12 B.C.E.)...