YOHANAN2

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BOG: King Aristobulus II reigned until the intervention of Pompey after his conquest of Syria. The Romans were the up and coming thing. King Hyrcanus II was named ethnarch of the Jews and elevated over his brother but Pompey was the real king.

Officially Pompey maintained the Hasmonean Dynasty on the Judean throne, but only as clients. King Antigonus, son of Aristobulus II, was decapitated by a pretender to the throne named Herod who was favored by Marcus Antonius and Queen Cleopatra after they defeated Pompey.

Mark Antony, acting in his role of triumvir, subsequently declared Herod king of the Jews. Then King Herod conquered Joppa and Medeba and captured Jerusalem after a seige of three months. He occupied Samaria and made the second temple even more glorious than the first.

In Egypt the last Pharaoh was Ptolemy XV Caesarion, son of Gaius Julius Caesar and Cleopatra. Following the suicide of his mother in the wake of her defeat at the battle of Actium Caesarion was executed by Gaius Julius Caesar Octavius and Egypt was simply annexed by Rome.

In the waning years of the reign of Herod a day laborer named Yosef, son of Heli, married an even younger maiden named Miriam in the village of Nazareth. As with most such marriages in that time and place, the union was arranged by the families of both Yosef and Miriam.

Yosef became apprenticed to a craftsman skilled in cutting stone, and after years of being little more than a slave to him, Yosef picked up the rudiments of the art. Assisting his master on work in the nearby city of Sepphoris he fulfilled his period of apprenticeship.

Yosef and Miriam have a daughter named Salome and also after her sons named Yeshua, Shimon and Yosef Jr., who is nicknamed Yosy. The three boys in turn are apprenticed to their own father when he strikes out on his own, and in this way the family is just able to survive.

But being a stonecutter is very difficult and dangerous work that kills Yosef before he is even thirty-five years of age. Under the Kinsman Redeemer clause of the Law of Moshe, the brother of Yosef, Alphaeus, is required to marry Yosef's widow and adopt all his children.

After that the neighbors sometimes call Yosef's brother Clophas, which means "replacement" and the nickname sticks. Clophas has sons of his own named Yakob and Yudah and also a daughter named Miriam. After the wedding the cousins all become step-siblings of Yosef's kids.

With the enlargement of the family, especially with Yakob being a grown man in his own right with his own source of income as a scribe, Yeshua no longer must continue in the harsh livelihood of his dead father Yosef to ensure the well-being of his mother and siblings.

Yeshua departed the house of his mother and step-father and traveled toward the Jordan River. There an Essene prophet named Yohanan proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins without recourse to the priests or killing animals at the Jerusalem temple.

People from both sides of the Jordan River go to Yohanan to confess their sins and be baptized of him. Yohanan has gathered three men to be his disciples. They are named Philip, Bartholomew, and Thomas. After a time Simon the Canaanite and Judah Iscariot also follow him.

These five disciples aid Yohanan in his ministry by acting as screeners, letting through to the baptism of Yohanan only those who they judge to approach with a sincere intention of repentance. At these baptisms Yohanan preaches that the Day of the Lord is immanent.

This means a day when Yahweh judges with holy violence all the nations of the Earth who are currently ruling with power. He underscores the urgency of repentance and baptism so people can meet the end of human rule with a pure heart and accept the direct rule of Yahweh.

But the priests and Sadducees and ethnarchs and Roman overlords alike all believe that Yohanan is really just seeding the whole region with people who will be anxious for the coming of a new theocratic ruler who will reorder the laws of the land to favor the destitute.

When Yeshua arrives from Galilee to find Yohanan at the river's edge and be baptized by him, Bartholomew and Judah Iscariot interview the young man and let him pass through to be dunked into the river. But a curious thing happens after Yeshua is pushed under the water.

A deep green glow suffused the river, and Yohanan lost Yeshua. It was entirely beyond his experience. Then Yohanan panicked, and started splashing around in the water looking for the man. The river was wide but it was only waist deep, and Yeshua was nowhere to be found.

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