ABOUT THE PAST
In 928 B.C. king Rehoboam ((Heb) רחבעם [rehav’am]), the grandson of king David and the son of king Solomon, because of his stupidity and arrogance put an end to the United Kingdom of Jews. Two new kingdoms arose:
– Judea, which included lands of 3 Tribes: Judah, Benjamin, and Simeon.
– Israel, which included lands of the other 9 tribes.
Between 731 and 701 years B.C. Assyrian kings ravaged Israel. A great number of the Jews, i.e. more than 3 million (See the article “The Numbers“), was spread all over the world. A big part of them, probably around 1 million, settled in Greece and around Greece (See the article “Everything Comes Full Circle“). Thus, it was the end of the so-called “Dark Ages of Greece” and the beginning of the ancient Greek civilization (See the article “Why Does Europe Write Left-to-Right?“).
In 586 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar II, the king of Babylon, destroyed Jerusalem and took the religious and intellectual elite of Judea as captives with the purpose to raise the cultural level of his country. He let the Jews live in big cities and gave them absolute religious and cultural freedom.
The Jews all over the world fell into depression – the last Jewish state ceased to exist! There was no Homeland anymore!
The depression lasted for 48 years.
תהילים פרק קלז
א עַל נַהֲרוֹת בָּבֶל שָׁם יָשַׁבְנוּ גַּם בָּכִינוּ, בְּזָכְרֵנוּ אֶת צִיּוֹן
ב עַל עֲרָבִים בְּתוֹכָהּ תָּלִינוּ כִּנֹּרוֹתֵינוּ
ג כִּי שָׁם שְׁאֵלוּנוּ שׁוֹבֵינוּ דִּבְרֵי שִׁיר וְתוֹלָלֵינוּ שִׂמְחָה, שִׁירוּ לָנוּ מִשִּׁיר צִיּוֹן
ד אֵיךְ נָשִׁיר אֶת שִׁיר יְהוָה עַל אַדְמַת נֵכָר. ה אִם אֶשְׁכָּחֵךְ יְרוּשָׁלִָם תִּשְׁכַּח יְמִינִי
ו תִּדְבַּק לְשׁוֹנִי לְחִכִּי אִם לֹא אֶזְכְּרֵכִי, אִם לֹא אַעֲלֶה אֶת יְרוּשָׁלִַם עַל רֹאשׁ שִׂמְחָתִי
ז זְכֹר יְהוָה לִבְנֵי אֱדוֹם אֵת יוֹם יְרוּשָׁלִָם, הָאֹמְרִים עָרוּ עָרוּ עַד הַיְסוֹד בָּהּ
ח בַּת בָּבֶל הַשְּׁדוּדָה, אַשְׁרֵי שֶׁיְשַׁלֶּם לָךְ אֶת גְּמוּלֵךְ שֶׁגָּמַלְתְּ לָנוּ
ט אַשְׁרֵי שֶׁיֹּאחֵז וְנִפֵּץ אֶת עֹלָלַיִךְ אֶל הַסָּלַע
Psalms, Psalm 136
1By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.
2Upon the willows in the midst thereof we hanged up our harps.
3For there they that led us captive asked of us words of song, and our tormentors asked of us mirth: ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion.’
4How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?
5If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
6Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy.
7Remember, O LORD, against the children of Edom the day of Jerusalem; who said: ‘Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.’
8O daughter of Babylon, that art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that repayeth thee as thou hast served us.
9Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the rock.
In 538 B.C. king Cyrus ((Heb) כורש [koresh]) by decree allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and even subsidized their repatriation. They restored the state of Judea. Since that time the religious Jews all over the world would identify themselves with Judea and, therefore, call themselves as Judeans, and their religion would be named as JUDAISM.
Around 70% of the Jews repatriated to Judea from Babylon were born and grew up in Babylon. Their native language was Aramaic. They brought with them Aramaic letters to Judea. It was not difficult. The Aramaic alphabet was the younger brother of the Hebrew alphabet. It also had 22 letters with the same meaning of these letters. The Aramaic alphabet was different from the Hebrew alphabet only by way the letters were written, i.e. by type of font.
From that time the Jews started using both fonts, which were named as the ancient and the foursquare. Over time the square font was used more often, while the ancient one less and less often. The last usage by Jews of the ancient font was found to be in 135 A.D., on the coins of Bar Kochba.
Between 334 and 323 years B.C. Alexander the Great (See the article “Alexander the Great – Him Too?”) on purpose or unwillingly made Hellenism the dominant religion, while KOINE, a dialect of Greek, became the common language of international communications.
Every nation at all times has been trying and is trying nowadays to adapt the religion to its mentality. This explains the difference between Christianity in Italy, in Russia, and in Germany. This explains the difference between Islam in Saudi Arabia, in Iran, and in Turkey. The Assyrian peoples in the end of the 4th century B.C. accepted the external gloss of Hellenism, but not its essence, and adapted it to their primitive morality. Ancient Greek cities were famous for their support of sciences and arts, while the Hellenized aristocracy of Assyria was more interested in physical pleasures. In Ancient Greek cities, as a rule, the authority was divided between two governors, which were elected in different ways for a limited period of time, while in Assyria any elections were out of the question – the struggle for the throne in the territory of Assyria was ruthless and bloody at all times.
Between the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. the Assyrian Pseudo-Greek culture, aggressive and immoral, was the direct opposite of the Greek culture. Assyrian kings used Hellenism as a tool for subjecting the dependent peoples, and propagated Hellenism by force among these peoples. All peoples obeyed, except the Jews. From approximately 300 B.C. the pressure on the Jews started growing, which resulted in the rebellion led by the Maccabees in 165 B.C.
During this war, the cities of Greece supported the Jews and offered them help. The Jews, realizing that a conflict between Hellenism and Pseudo-Hellenism would be a very sensitive issue, refrained from taking any help.
CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THE SPARTANS AND THE JEWS
Here we offer the reader some fragments of the correspondence between Sparta and Judea. Three letters will be quoted in this article.
There are two sources, from which we know about this correspondence:
- Antiquities of the Jews – a book written by Flavius Josephus in Rome in the end of the 1st century A.D., in Koine language. This book quotes two letters: from the Spartans to the Jews, and the answer of the Jews.
- The First Book of the Maccabees – one of the deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament. This book gives the content of three letters: of two letters cited by Flavius Josephus, and of one more letter from the Spartans to the Jews.
It should be noted that Flavius Josephus (born Joseph ben Matityahu) was a priest of high rank from the high priest’s inner circle. Judging by the details set out in the translation of these letters, he had personally read the originals of the correspondence, which were subsequently lost. Therefore, we can assume that the texts of the letters presented in his book were the closest to the original. Now you can read two letters from the book of Flavius Josephus (text in Koine language + translation).
LETTER No.1 - The Spartans to the Jews, around 300 B.C.:
Antiquities of the Jews, Book 12, Chapter 4, Section 10
Areus, King of Lacedaimonians, to Onias, sendeth greeting.
We have met with certain books, whereby we have discovered that both the Jews and the Lacedaimonians are of one stock, and are derived from the kindred of Abraham. It is but just therefore that you, who are our brethren, should send to us about any of your concerns as you please. We will also do the same thing, and esteem your possessions as our own, and let you look upon our possessions as upon your property. Demoteles, our postman, will bring you this letter. The font is foursquare; and the seal is an eagle holding a dragon.
Dear reader! Try to guess: what language was this letter written in? The answer you’ll find in the end of this article.
LETTER No.2 – The Jews answer the Spartans, 165 B.C.:
Antiquities of the Jews, Book 13, Chapter 5, Section 8
“Jonathan the high priest of the Jewish people, and the council of ancients , and the assembly of priests, to the ephori, and the council of ancients , and people of the Lacedaimonians, send greeting.
If you be in peace, and both your public and private affairs be agreeable to your mind, it is according to our wishes. We are in peace also. In former times an epistle was brought to Onias, who was then our high priest, from your king Areus, by Demoteles, concerning the kindred that was between us and you, a copy of which is here subjoined. We joyfully received the epistle, and treated Demoteles with love, as well as Areus, although we need no demonstration of these kindred, because it was quite clear for us from our Holy Books. Yet did not we think fit first to begin the claim of these kindred to you, lest we should seem too early in taking to ourselves the glory which is now given us by you. And in spite of a long time since this relation of ours to you hath been renewed, we, upon holy and festival days, when offering sacrifices to God, always pray to him for your prosperity and victories. Although we have had many wars, by thirst for evil of our neighbors, in order not to be troublesome, yet have not we involve either you, or others that were related to us. And now, since we have overcome our enemies, we send Numenius the son of Antiochus, and Antipater the son of Jason, who are both honorable councilors, to the Romans and to you, and we give them the epistle to you also, that they might renew that relation which was between us. You will therefore do well yourselves to write to us, and send us an account of what you stand in need of from us, since we are in all things disposed to act according to your desires.”
So the Lacedaimonians received the ambassadors kindly, and made a decree for friendship and mutual assistance, and sent them back.
The same correspondence, but with the third letter in addition, is otherwise rendered in The First Book of the Maccabees. Taking into account lack of details, we can assume that this book describes the content of the letters, instead of quoting them.
ספר חשמונאים א’, פרק י”ב
(כא) אריוש מלך אשפרתא לחוניו כהן הגדול שלום
(כב) מצאנו כתוב בדברי הימים כי יושבי אשפרתא והיהודים אנשים אחים המה ואברהם אב לשניהם. (כג) ועתה כי ידענו זאת, הואילו נא וכתבו לנו השלום לכם, וגם אנחנו נכתוב לכם. (כד) גורל אחד יהיה לכולנו, מקנינו וקניינינו יהיו לכם, ומקניכם וקנייניכם יהיו לנו, אנוכי שפטתי אל נכון להודיעכם את כל אלה
The First Book of the Maccabees, Chapter 12
(21) Arius king of Sparta to Onias the high priest, greeting.
(22) We have found in our ancient books that the Spartans and the Jews are brethren, and that they are of the stock of Abraham. (23) And now since this is come to your knowledge, you do well to write to us of your prosperity, and we will also write back to you. (24) We will have a common fate, when our possessions are yours, and yours are ours. I therefore have commanded that these things should be told you.
ספר חשמונאים א’, פרק י”ב
(ז) יונתן כהן הגדול וזקני העם והכוהנים וכל עם היהודים לאחיהם אנשי אשפרתא שלום
(ח) הנה זה ימים רבים ואריוש מלככם שלח ספרים אל חוניו כהן הגדול לאמור כי אנשים אחים אנחנו, ככתוב במשנה הספר אשר מתחת. (ט) וחוניו שמח לקראת הציר אשר שולח, ויקח את ספר הברית והאהבה מידו. (י) ועתה אם אמנם לא חסרנו דבר ותורת ה’ אשר בידינו לתנחומים לנו. (יא) לא חדלנו משלוח לכם את מלאכינו אלה לחדש ולחזק את ברית האהבה והאחווה עמכם, פן נחשב כזרים בעיניכם כי ארכו הימים אשר שלחתם אלינו. (יב) לכן דעו נא כי כל שבת ומועד אשר נקריב בהם קרבן לאלוהים, ונזכרתם גם אתם על עולותינו ובתפילתנו, כאשר יאות להעתיר אל ה’ בעד שלום האחים. (יג) כי בשלומם ובכבודם יגל וישמח לבנו. (יד) ואף כי צרות רבות ורעות עברו על נפשנו, כי נלחמנו עם כל המלכים מסביב אשר קמו עלינו להשחיתנו. (טו) לא עלה על לבנו להוגיע אתכם או את בעלי בריתנו לבקש עזרה מידם במלחמות האלה. (טז) כי ה’ אלוהים היה בעזרנו, והצילנו מכף צרינו ויכניעם לפנינו. (יז) אולם בשלחנו כעת את מלאכינו את נומיניוס בן אנטיוכוס ואת אנטיפטר בן ישוע לאחינו בני רומא לחדש את ברית האהבה הנושנת עימהם. (יח) הפקדנו אותם ללכת גם אליכם לשאול בשלומכם, ולתת את הספר הזה בידכם, ולחדש את בריתנו אתכם. (יט) ואם ייטב בעיניכם תשיבו אותנו דבר
The First Book of the Maccabees, Chapter 12
(7) Jonathan the high priest, and the ancients of the nation, and the priests, and the rest of the people of the Jews, to the Spartans, their brethren, greeting.
(8) There were letters sent long ago to Onias the high priest from Arius who reigned then among you, to signify that you are our brethren, as the copy here underwritten doth specify. (9) And Onias treated the ambassador with honour: and received the letter from his hands, wherein there was mention made of the alliance, and amity. (10) Although we needed none of the proofs, and the Torah convinced us of the same. (11) We have not ceased dreaming to renew and strengthen our alliance of love and friendship, lest we should become strangers to you altogether: for there is a long time passed since you sent to us. (12) Let us tell you then, that every Shabbat and every holiday, when offering sacrifices to God, we remember you in our requests and prayers, and for God to save the peace between brothers. (13) And for prosperity and respect between us to calm and delight our hearts. (14) But we have had many troubles and wars on every side, and the kings that are round about us, have fought against us to destroy us. (15) But we would not be troublesome to you, nor the rest of our allies and friends in these wars. (16) For we have had help from God, and we have been saved, and our enemies are humbled. (17) We have chosen therefore Numenius the son of Antiochus, and Antipater the son of Jason, and have sent them to our brethren in Rome to renew with them the former amity and alliance. (18) And we have commanded them to go also to you, and to salute you, and to deliver you this letter, concerning the renewing of our alliance. (19) And now if you see that this is good, give us an answer hereto.
LETTER No.3 – The Jews answer the Spartans (around 165 B.C. or later):
ספר חשמונאים א’, פרק י”ד
(כ) ראשי בני אשפרתא והעיר, לשמעון הכהן הגדול ולזקנים ולכוהנים ולכל עם יהודה אחינו שלום
(כא) המלאכים אשר שלחתם אלינו ספרו לנו את כבודכם ואת גדולתכם בארץ, ושמחנו מאוד לקראתם. (כב) את אשר בקשו ממנו כתבנו על ספר דברי הימים אשר לקרייתנו לאמור. (כג) נומיניוס בן אנטיוכוס ואנטיפטר בן ישוע שלוחי היהודים באו אלינו לחדש את ברית האהבה אשר כרתנו עימהם
The First Book of the Maccabees, Chapter 14
(20) The leaders of the sons of Sparta and the cities to Simon the high priest, and to the ancients, and the priests, and to all the people of Judea, our brethren, greeting.
(21) The ambassadors that you have sent to us, told us of your glory, and honour, and we rejoiced over you. (22) And we registered what was said by them in our books, as it was suggested by you. (23) Numenius the son of Antiochus, and Antipater the son of Jason, ambassadors of the Jews, came to us to renew the former alliance of amity with us.
Conclusion No 1:
The above mentioned correspondence confirms that the Jews were the ancestors of the Spartans. This is not surprising at all – read the article “Everything Comes Full Circle“.
Conclusion No 2:
The last sentence of the first letter starts with the following: “The font is foursquare…” – this means that the letter was written in Hebrew.
IT IS INTERESTING
- Etymology of the word (Greek) Σπάρτη [Sparta]
The word Sparta comes from the word (Hebrew/Aramaic) אשפרתא [ashparta] = the most beautiful.
The root of this word שפר [sh-p-r], which means “to make better” or “to decorate“, has been widely used in Hebrew, just as it is used nowadays, for example:
– The surname שפירא [Shapiro or Shapira] is a common Jewish surname.
– The surname שפר [Schaefer or Schefer] is a common Jewish surname.
– Spree – the name of the river in Berlin.
– Sapphire – the precious stone.
– Schaffer (Ger) – the best man or the bridesman, the bride’s or the groom’s attendant.
– Schiefer (Ger) – a slate, a material used to cover the roofs.
2. Etymology of the word (Greek) λακεδαιμον [Lacedaimon]
The root (Heb) לקד [l-k-d] means to join together, to unite.
The word (Heb) המון [hamon] means: the crowd, a great number.
The word (Greek) λακεδαιμον [Lacedaimon] means “the united people“.
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