Pro and Con 1143

Posted 8-21-04

To those that have asked for an update on our health.

I now have a second opinion, and have had another set of x-rays explained to me in detail. I have Degenerative Disk Disease and arthritic spurs on my lumbar spine. My hips are ok. The spine isn't going to get any better, but the symptoms can be treated during a bad episode. The searing pain from the pinched nerve hits the right hip and the outside edge of the lower right leg. The numbness hits my lower right leg and foot. Other numbness in both feet is probably caused by Diabetes. That numbness started several years before Diabetes was diagnosed.

I have to do stretching exercises to try to relax muscles that are too tight. Soon, I will be getting 3 epidural cortizone shots spaced at 2-week intervals. Pray the Dr. hits the right spot, the epidural space, not the spinal cord or nerve.

Ed has been able to cut the amount of medicine he takes for Diabetes. Even so, he takes twice what I take. They sent him home from Cardiac Rehab without exercising this week, because he was too weak and unsteady. They didn't want him falling and breaking a hip. On the way home, I developed a sore throat, so Ed is probably fighting the same bug. It saps his energy and sense of balance, but so far, hasn't caused any other symptoms besides sneezing and an occasional cough. Only symptoms I have now are some coughing and swelling of glands. Agape

Incoming email

Dear Ms. Agee, I just finished reading your article on the pre-trib rapture.
(Note: "Why I think the first Rapture is before the Tribulation":
http://www.prophecycorner.com/agee/rapturepretrib.html)

After having digested volumes of material, books, articles, and learned tomes on the subject over the last 20 years I was delighted and amused to see that you have put together the finest, most elegant, and clearest argument I have ever encountered. All in just a few short pages !

Your clarification of the translation of the Hebrew word in Isaiah 57 is key. While the pointing for this word (and therefore its translation), in Job is different than that in Isaiah the rabbinic authority for pointing can be wrong.

I think your translation is right. I have asked for the input of some scholars that I work with for their input on this and will share it with you as I receive it.

Thank you so much for sharing your insight and inspiration. It is clear, good writing like yours that makes study a joy.

May the Lord bless you in your work and continue to inspire you....

PS: Interestingly, 57 is the standard gematria value for the the Hebrew word for "the beast". Something nice to escape.

My reply

Yes. Thanks for your kind words.

Since the first Adam's bride was taken out of his body in BC 4044, I have hope that the Bride of Christ will be taken out of the Body of Christ (the Second Adam) in 2004 AD. I Cor. 15:47 says, "The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven."

I looked up the Hebrew "acaph" (translated "taken away" in Isa. 57:1) in Gesenius' Lexicon. The meanings listed are very interesting. To me they suggest the Rapture.

Acaph means to scrape together, to collect (as fruit, corn), to assemble people, to take or receive to oneself, TO GATHER UP, TO TAKE AWAY, to take out of the way, destroy, kill, to bring up the rear, TO BE COLLECTED, TO BE GATHERED TOGETHER, TO BE RECEIVED, TO BE TAKEN AWAY, TO VANISH, to perish and TO BE ASSEMBLED.

I also looked up "abad" (translated "perisheth"). It means to be lost, to lose oneself, to wander, TO DISAPPEAR as it were. To me, both of these words fit the Rapture nicely. Isa. 56:7 (KJV) suggests the Rapture too. It says, "Even them will I BRING TO MY HOLY MOUNTAIN."

Re: the Rapture of the righteous, Isa. 57:1,2 (Rotherham) says, "The righteous one, hath perished (abad), And not a man, hath taken it to heart—Yea the men of lovingkindness, have been withdrawn (acaph) No one considering (biyn, discerning, understanding), That from the presence of calamity, hath the righteous been withdrawn (acaph) He entereth into peace, Let them rest upon their couches,—Each one who went on a straight path."

Re: the Tribulation, Isa. 57:3,4 (Rotherham) says, "But, ye, …draw near hither, Ye sons of divination,—Ye seed of an adulterer when your mother committed unchastity! Against whom would ye disport yourselves? Against whom would ye widen the mouth and lengthen the tongue,—Are not, ye, Children of transgression, A Seed of falsehood."

The order of events is right, first the Rapture, then the Tribulation. It agrees with Luke 21:36. Jesus said, "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be ACCOUNTED WORTHY TO ESCAPE ALL THESE THINGS that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."

Incoming email from: Donna Danna, Re: REPLY TO MARILYN AGEE -- CARCASE IS A DEAD BODY (MATT.24:28)

I have a Greek Pocket Interlinear New Testament with Jay P. Green Sr. as its Editor which shows the Greek word "ptoma" for Matthew 24:28, and this agrees with Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible which lists the word "carcase" for Matt. 24:28 as word #4430 which can be found in the back of their Greek dictionary. Word for word, from Strong's Greek dictionary, the meaning of#4430 "ptoma" - "from the alt. of 4098; a ruin, i.e. (spec) lifeless body, (corpse, carrion): dead body, carcase, corpse." The Greek word #4098 is "pipto"- "to fall (lit. & fig): fail, fall (down), light on." I also looked up "ptoma" in A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament And Other Early Christian Literature by Walter Bauer. It gives the meaning of "ptoma" as "that which has fallen, (dead) body, corpse, esp.of one killed by violence." The Greek Lexicon lists Matt. 24:28 under the Greek word "ptoma." So we can't change the meaning of carcase in Matt. 24:28 to represent a living body of people. Also the eagles in this verse could be literal eagles or figurative eagles which are symbolic, or they could possibly represent both meanings at the same time. So this verse may be showing the body of dead men (carrion or carcase) who have been killed already where the eagles (the eagles as both the elect as symbolic eagles there at the scene along with actual eagles, who are gathered to feast on the dead body of men.)

As for Luke 17:37, the body in this verse is #4983 which is the Greek word "soma." Strong's concordance shows the meaning as "the body as a sound whole, used in a very wide appliation lit.or fig.: -- bodily, body, slave." However, when I just checked my Greek Lexicon to find the meaning of the word "soma," the first definition of this word is #1. "body of a man or animal--a. dead body, corpse," and b. "the living body." Luke 17:37 is listed under 1a. dead body, corpse, and not under 1b. a living body. Does your Greek Lexicon show the same thing that mine does? God bless, Donna

My reply

Yes. Re: G4430, ptoma, Strong's says, "From the alternate of G4098; a ruin, that is, (specifically) lifeless body (corpse, carrion): - DEAD BODY, carcase, corpse." (emphasis mine)

Isa. 26:19,20 says, "Thy DEAD MEN SHALL LIVE, TOGETHER WITH MY DEAD BODY SHALL THEY ARISE (i,e. 1st rank of the First Resurrection, Feast of Firstfruits, 30 AD, Mt. 27:52).

"AWAKE (i.e., 2nd rank, at the Pre-Trib Rapture) AND SING (Rev. 5:9), ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, AND THE EARTH SHALL CAST OUT THE DEAD.

"COME (i.e., last rank, at the Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Tribulation saints, Rev. 7:14), MY PEOPLE, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: HIDE thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation (i.e., the wrath of God) be overpast."

Zeph. 2:3 says, "Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: IT MAY BE YE SHALL BE HID IN THE DAY OF THE LORD'S ANGER" (i.e., Tishri 1, Feast of Trumpets).

> > "ptoma" in A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament And Other Early Christian Literature by Walter Bauer. It gives the meaning of "ptoma" as "that which has fallen, (dead) body, corpse, esp.of one killed by violence."

> > So we can't change the meaning of carcase in Matt. 24:28 to represent a living body of people.

We don't have to. Those "killed by violence" can represent the MARTYRS very nicely. Rev. 6:9-11 says, "when he had opened the FIFTH SEAL, I saw under the altar the souls of THEM THAT WERE SLAIN for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, HOW LONG, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not JUDGE and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled."

At both Raptures, there is a resurrection of the dead. The Pre-Trib Rapture is the first "trump of God" (I Thess. 4:16). The Pre-Wrath Rapture is the "last trump" of God (I Cor. 15:51.52). Both are ranks of the First Resurrection.

I Cor. 15:22-23 says, "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be MADE ALIVE. But every man in his own order (tagmati, rank): Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming."

At the 1st Rapture, Christ comes in the air BEFORE the breaking of the FIRST SEAL (Rev. 4:1; 5:9; 6:1).

At the 2nd Rapture, He comes in the air AFTER the breaking of the SIXTH SEAL. Rev. 6:12,17; 7:1,14; 8:1,2 shows the sequence.

6:12: "when he had opened the SIXTH SEAL (on the Eve of Trumpets)...lo, there was a great earthquake; and the SUN BECAME BLACK".

6:17: "For the great DAY OF HIS WRATH (Feast of Trumpets) is come (at 6 PM); and who shall be able to stand?"

7:1,14: "And after these things...These are they which came (past tense) out of great tribulation" (the shortened last half of the Tribulation).

8:1,2: "And when he had opened the SEVENTH SEAL, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given SEVEN TRUMPETS."

So Mt. 24:28 can emphasize the resurrection of the DEAD in Christ at the breaking of the sixth seal. For "wheresoever the carcase (dead body) is (Paradise, the abode of the saved dead, was taken to Heaven on Christ's Resurrection Day, John 20:17; Eph. 4:8), there will the eagles (Tribulation saints) be gathered together."

Luke 17:36,37 emphasizes the LIVING saints. "Two men shall be in the field; the one SHALL BE TAKEN, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, WHERE, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body (soma, the Body of Christ) is (they are in Heaven), thither will the eagles (theTribulation saints of Rev. 7:1-14) be gathered together."

All the clues are not in one place. We must put like passages together to get the whole story. It can't be too plain, or the unbeliever could understand it. It must seem like foolishness to him (I Cor. 3:19). The "number of years is hidden to the oppressor" (Job 15:20) too. However, "the wise shall understand" (Dan. 12:10).

Mark 13:22-27 says, "false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. But in those days, after that tribulation, THE SUN SHALL BE DARKENED (SIXTH SEAL), and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming IN THE CLOUDS (not touching his feet to Earth, this is the Sign of the Son of Man, Mt. 24:30) with great power and glory. And then (i.e., when the Sign of the Son of Man is seen) shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect (to the general assembly in Heaven, Heb. 12:23) from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the EARTH (the Pre-Wrath Rapture) to the uttermost part of HEAVEN" (those caught up previously, some on Resurrection Day and others at the Pre-Trib Rapture). The Pre-Wrath Rapture is 7 Jewish months before the Second Advent (Eze. 38:18-20; 39:12,13). Agape

Donna Danna's reply To Marilyn's Reply, Re: CARCASE IS A DEAD BODY (MATT.24:28)

Later on Saturday I check my Greek Lexicon to see what it said about the word "eagles" in Matt. 24:28 & Luke 17:37 which is word #105 "aetos" in Strong's Concordance. According to my Greek Lexicon, the "eagles" in these two Bible Passages listed under "aetos" are "vultures." However, I don't see this as a problem in fitting in with Luke 17:37 which says, "wheresoever the body, thither will the eagles be gathered together." Matt. 24:30 & Mark 13:26 shows the Son of Man being seen by all the tribes on earth coming in the clouds of heaven which as you pointed out as the visible part of heaven which would also correspond with Rev.19:11-13 with Jesus appearance in heaven on a white horse, and in verse 14 the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean while Matt. 24:31 says, "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." And Mark 13:27 says, "And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, form the uttermost part of the earth to the utmost part of heaven." 'Then if you go back to the scenario in Rev. 19:14 after all the armies which were in heaven that follow Jesus on a white horse, we see in verse 17 an angel standing in the sun; and "he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the Great God; that ye may eat the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great." So Jesus and his armies of saints are at that point in the visible part of heaven, and vultures and birds also fly around in the visible part of heaven. The angel is telling all these fowls in the midst of heaven to gather themselves together for this supper of the Great God. So it looks like the fowls in the midst of heaven will gather themselves together in the visible part of heaven near where Jesus and his armies are also visible in heaven. At this point in time, the beast, the kings and armies are not dead that are gathered together to make war against Jesus on his white horse and his army which are shown in Rev. 19:19. Rev. 19:20 shows us the beast and false prophet being cast alive into the a lake of fire burning with brimstone. Then finally we see in Rev. 19:21, "And the remnant were slain with the sword of him (Jesus) that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh."

I guess my biggest problem was in picturing the body of Christ as being "the carcase" in Matt. 24:28 since the Pre-Tribulation Saints would all be alive in heaven; and although I know that the martyred tribulation saints will be under the altar in heaven according to Rev. 6:9-10., I normally think of a dead carcase or corpse as the physical part of the body that is in the grave or is on the ground with vultures hovering over it. So I really wasn't thinking about the collective body of the dead in Christ as being "the carcase" described in Matt. 24:28 since the rest of the body of Christ (Pre-Tribulation saints) in heaven are alive along with the fact that you see the souls of martyred saints under the altar who cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" They sound very much alive although they don't have their immortal bodies yet in this verse, and their dead bodies are not yet resurrected at this point in time. However, since the kings and army (body of men) assembled together against Jesus and his army have not yet been killed by the sword proceeding from Jesus' mouth at the time the angel tells the fowls in the midst of heaven to gather themselves together, then the kings and army as a body of men on earth assembled to war against Christ and his army must not be "the carcase" or dead body referred to in Matt. 24:28 & in Luke 17:37.

However, when Jesus told his disciples in Matt. 24 & in Luke 17 that the elect would be taken, and they asked him, Where?, at that point in time there was no "body of Christ" that was the church until after the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost when about 120 believers gathered in the upper room. When Jesus spoke the words recorded in Matt. 24 & Luke 17, Jesus hadn't yet died and been resurrected from the dead nor had he told them to take the gospel to all the nations of the world baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit as shown in Matt. 28:19-20, Mark 16:14-18, & Luke 24:45-48. The gentiles were not referred to the elect of the Lord in the Old Testament either so I doubt very much if they were thinking at that point in time that the elect included the gentiles until after Jesus resurrection when he directs them to take the gospel to all the nations of the world. Jesus appears to them after his resurrection and at that point in time according to Luke 24:45, it says, "Then he (Jesus) opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And year are witnesses of these things." However, it isn't until over in Acts 13:46-47 that we see the apostle Paul turning to the gentiles to preach the gospel to them specifically. Then in Romans 8:33, Colossians 3:12, & Titus 1:1, we see the elect mentioned as being Christians, and we are told in Galatians 3:26-29, "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ, For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." But Jesus' disciples didn't know that the elect in Matt. 24:31 & Mark 13:27 that would be gathered by the angels at Christ's second coming to earth would include gentile believes until after Jesus' opened their understanding after his resurrection. And until their understanding of the scriptures were opened by him, his disciples would have thought that it was the dead Old Testament Saints as "the carcase" which when resurrected made up "the body" along with the living elect of Israel. And wheresoever "the body" was, the eagles (vultures) would be gathered together. When Jesus opened up their understanding to the scriptures after his resurrection, their understanding of "the carcase" and "the body" would have dramatically changed to include "the dead in Christ" and "the living tribulation saints." God bless, Donna

My reply

> > when Jesus told his disciples in Matt. 24 & in Luke 17 that the elect would be taken, and they asked him, Where?, at that point in time there was no "body of Christ" that was the church until after the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost when about 120 believers gathered in the upper room.

The Body of Christ probably began to be counted from the resurrection of Jesus. That evening, Jesus, the head of the Body of Christ, came to the disciples even though the door was closed, but Thomas was not among them. John 20:22 says that Jesus "breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." That seems to be when the New Testament saints group called the Body of Christ first began.

Thomas was added to the Body of Christ the following Sunday. After that, 3000 were added on Pentecost (Acts 2:41). It seems significant that Thomas was added to the Body of Christ 7 days after Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on the other disciples. Thomas probably represents the Tribulation saints being caught up about 7 years after the main Bride group will be raptured. Thus, the Pre-Trib and Pre-Wrath Raptures would be 7 years apart, less the shortening of the Great Tribulation. At this time, 5765 and 5771 seem to be the most likely years for the two Raptures.

> > I really wasn't thinking about the collective body of the dead in Christ as being "the carcase" described in Matt. 24:28 since the rest of the body of Christ (Pre-Tribulation saints) in heaven are alive

Mt. 24:27-29 says, "as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened".

All of Luke 17:28-37 applies to this same time, filling in details not mentioned in Mt. 24. At that time, the Pre-Trib Rapture that is as the days of Noah is past. It is the Pre-Wrath Rapture that will fall on the Feast of Trumpets that is the Day of God's Wrath.

Luke 17:28-37 says, "Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the SAME DAY that Lot went out of Sodom (representing the Pre-Wrath Rapture) it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed (i.e., when the Sign of the Son of Man is seen, Mt. 24:30). In that day (Tishri 1), he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot's wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken (i.e., raptured), and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be TAKEN, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, WHERE, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is (the rest of the Body of Christ is in Heaven), thither will the eagles (high flyers, i.e., the Tribulation saints) be gathered together."

The 2nd Rapture is "the last trump" of I Cor. 15:51,52. Zech. 9:14 also speaks of this day. It says, "the LORD shall be SEEN over them (i.e., the Sign of the Son of Man, Mt. 24:30; Rev. 6:14), and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the LORD GOD SHALL BLOW THE TRUMPET, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south." This is the "last trump" (i.e., last Rapture) of God. It calls the Tribulation saints to "the GENERAL ASSEMBLY AND CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN, which are written IN HEAVEN, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect" (Heb. 12:23). At that point, we "shall be CHANGED. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (I Cor. 15:53).

Psa. 47:5 says, "God (YHWH of hosts, Isa. 44:6, YAHshua, Jesus) is gone up with a shout (as at the first Rapture, I Thess. 4:16), the LORD with the sound of a TRUMPET (one that HE blows, not the angels, as in the 7 trumpet judgments).

"For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall CHANGE our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body" (Phil. 3:20,21).

> > Jesus' disciples didn't know that the elect in Matt. 24:31 & Mark 13:27 that would be gathered by the angels at Christ's second coming to earth would include gentile believes until after Jesus' opened their understanding after his resurrection.

Both Mt. 24:31 and Mark 13:27 take place 7 months BEFORE the Second Advent. The Pre-Wrath Rapture is on the Day of God's Wrath, but before the asteroids of Rev. 8:8 and 10 impact Earth at noon. Zeph. 2:3-5 says, "Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be HID (i.e., raptured) in the day of the LORD's anger. For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the NOON DAY, and Ekron shall be rooted up. Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast". The asteroid of Rev. 8:8 will hit the Mediterranean Sea at noon. The whole Body of Christ will be in Heaven before it hits.

Eze. 38:18-20 happens on the Day of God's Wrath. It says, "it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that MY FURY shall come up in my face. For in my jealousy and in the fire of MY WRATH have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence (paniym, face, i.e., the Sign of the Son of Man, Mt. 24:30; Rev. 6:14f), and the mountains (asteroids of Rev. 8:8 and 10) shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground."

The cities of the nations will be destroyed (Rev. 16:18). After that Feast of Trumpets, there will be 7 Jewish months to the Second Advent on the following Nisan 1, the first day of the Jewish Regnal and Sacred Year. Eze. 39:12,13 says, "And SEVEN MONTHS shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land. Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them; and it shall be to them a renown the day that I shall be glorified (at the Second Advent), saith the Lord GOD."

The last year in this sequence must be a leap year, when the Jews add a 13th month. Otherwise, there would only be 6 months between Tishri 1 and the following Nisan 1. The Jewish 5771 (2010/2011) will be a Jewish leap year. Tishri 1, Feast of Trumpets, will fall on Sept. 9, 2010. Nisan 1 will fall on Apr. 5, 2011. I think that Tishri 1 will be the Day of God's Wrath, and that the following Nisan 1 will be the day of the Second Advent.

Hos. 6:3 says, "the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter (starts Nisan 1) and former rain (starts Tishri 1) unto the earth." Agape

Incoming email, Re: Israel Cave Linked to John the Baptist

By KARIN LAUB, Aug 16 04
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=624&ncid=753&e=1&u=/ap/20040816/ap_on_sc/israel_john_the_baptist

KIBBUTZ TZUBA, Israel - Archaeologists think they've found a cave where John the Baptist baptized many of his followers — basing their theory on thousands of shards from ritual jugs, a stone used for foot cleansing and wall carvings telling the story of the biblical preacher....

Tradition says he was born in the village of Ein Kerem, which today is part of modern Jerusalem. Just 2.5 miles away, on the land of Kibbutz Tzuba, a communal farm, the cave lies hidden in a limestone hill — 24 yards long, four yards deep and four yards wide....

Crude images were carved on the walls, near the ceiling, and Gibson said they tell the story of John's life.

One is the figure of the man Gibson spotted on his first visit to the cave. The man appears to have an unruly head of hair and wears a tunic with dots, apparently meant to suggest an animal hide. He grasps a staff and holds up his other hand in a gesture of proclamation.

James Tabor, a Bible scholar from the University of North Carolina, said there is little doubt this is John himself. The Gospels say that John was a member of the Nazarites, a sect whose followers didn't cut their hair, and that he adopted the dress of the ancient prophets, including a garment woven of camel's hair....
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Cave possibly used by John the Baptist found
By Amiram Barkat, 17/08/04
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=465786&contrassID=1&subContrassID=7&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y

...They also reported sifting about 250,000 pottery shards from the cave, the apparent remnants of small water jugs used in baptismal ritual. The oldest shards are from the mid-second century B.C.E.

"The site we've uncovered is seemingly the connecting link between Jewish and Christian baptism," said British archaeologist Shimon Gibson, who heads the private Jerusalem Archaeological Field Unit and supervised the dig....

The discovery, if confirmed, would be among the most significant breakthroughs for biblical scholars in memory....

Kibbutz Tzuba members led Gibson to the cave in 1999, and he proceeded to measure it as part of an environmental-archaeological survey he was conducting. To his surprise, he uncovered drawings carved into the walls when he crawled through the small opening and began removing boulders near the wall. The drawings, dated to the fourth or fifth century C.E., display symbols related to John the Baptist, including his image, decapitated head, hand (the only bodily remnant, according to scripture), and a cross shape....

The most striking discovery dates from the first century C.E.: it indicates "a ritual that differed from the normative Jewish ritual" of the time. Believers would have walked down 28 stone steps, at the bottom of which they would have placed their right foot onto a stone with an imprint of a foot, about shoe size 45. A small depression to the right of the imprint would have contained oil, to be poured over the foot for cleansing, Gibson said.

No less striking was the discovery that the whitewash covering the cave walls and steps dates from the eighth-sixth centuries BCE, a finding confirmed in tests by both the Weizmann and Geological Institutes. That means that activity at this site began during the reign of the Judean kings and ended with the destruction of the First Temple.
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http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1092626411935&apage=1

In 1999, Kalifon asked Gibson to inspect the cave more closely.

The archeologist, who has excavated here for three decades, crawled through the small opening and began removing boulders near the wall of the cave. When he pushed aside one of the stones, he saw a head carved into the wall – the top of the figure he believes depicts John.

Gibson, who heads the Jerusalem Archeological Field Unit, a private research group, organized an excavation. During the five-year project, he wrote a book, entitled The Cave of John the Baptist, to be published later this week.
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Cave in Israel linked to John the Baptist
By Kevin Frayer
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2004-08-16-cave-israel_x.htm

...Tradition says he was born in the village of Ein Kerem, which today is part of modern Jerusalem. Just 2.5 miles away, on the land of Kibbutz Tzuba, a communal farm, the cave lies hidden in a limestone hill — 24 yards long, four yards deep and four yards wide.
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http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=31&art_id=qw1092654904786B216

...Gibson said a figure holding a staff reminiscent of representations of John the Baptist in early Byzantine art was among images incised into the rock during the fourth and fifth centuries, by which time the cave had become a shrine to the Baptist.

"I am now certain that this cave was connected with the ancient cult of John the Baptist. Indeed, this may very well be the cave of the early years of John's life, the place where he sought his first solitude in the wilderness and the place where he practised his baptisms," Gibson told The Times....

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