John the Baptist's Cave
the Case in Favor

By Shimon Gibson and James Tabor

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We found the cave by chance in the winter of 1999 when I (Shimon Gibson) was conducting an archaeological survey of ancient agricultural remains on the slopes of the hills and in the wadis next to Kibbutz Tzova, a short distance from the traditional hometown of John the Baptist at Ain Karim, west of Jerusalem. Crawling into the cave, whose entrance was hidden by a thicket of bracken and thorn bushes, I was completely surprised to see on the wall the crude visage of a man holding a staff with one arm raised as if in proclamation, as well as other symbols, such as an arm and a head, and Christian crosses. It was an exciting discovery and, given that I was in an area richly associated with John the Baptist, it immediately occurred to me that these drawings might have something to do with his memory or veneration. Indeed, I thought at the time that the central figure might well be an attempt to depict John the Baptist himself.


Among those I spoke with about what I had found was James Tabor, of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He expressed an interest in joining me in a thorough excavation of the site and the two of us became co-directors of the excavation of the Cave of Suba (after the old name of the site). (1)

The long, narrow rock-cut hall extended 78 feet into the heart of a mountain, with a width of about 13 feet. Large boulders were heaped up on both sides of the cave's interior, and thick layers of soil reached almost to the ceiling.


It soon became obvious that the cave was not simply an abandoned reservoir haphazardly filled with mud, silt, rocks and washed-in debris. We were clearly into carefully stratified archaeological layers that were unambiguously dated by discrete layers of pottery.


We began scrutinizing the layers closely, and we utilized the latest scientific procedures to test the material as it emerged from the ground: flotation and micro-artifact analysis, geomorphological examination of silts between floors, quantification and seriation procedures on the masses of pottery uncovered, and tests on the plaster, both radiometric as well as thorium-uranium dating. We worked extremely slowly since we did not want to miss even one shred of evidence. The amount of ceramic material we extracted from the ground was overwhelming, and its full and final publication should be very significant for understanding the chronological sequence of pottery types within the early Roman period.

Approximately 6 feet of material provided a sequence extending from the late first century B.C. to the mid-second century A.D. These early Roman layers contained enormous quantities of shattered ceramic vessels. A very large proportion of these turned out to be one-handled jugs, not the type of vessel one would expect to find within water cisterns (storage jars would be much more sensible). We did not find any whole vessels, only potsherds; the pulverized potsherds lay on the floor surfaces. This indicates that the jugs had been intentionally smashed. Even more striking was that the ceramic evidence showed this practice was going on for at least 150 years-beginning in the first century A.D.-the time of John the Baptist. None of us could explain this, nor had anyone we talked to ever encountered anything like this elsewhere. The silt accumulating within the cave during the winter months from the annual rains was never removed, the walls were never replastered and hard-tamped earthen floors were created descending towards the back of the cave where the rainwater accumulated as in a pond. Cultic stone basins were incorporated within the floors to the right as one entered the cave, a series of stone circles (some paved) were built on top of the floors, and in the lower floors a "pathway" bordered by a row of stones on either side led down towards the back of the cave.


An important piece of the puzzle turned up when we uncovered a very large and unusual stone close to one of the earliest earthen floors in the cave. The upper surface of this stone was carved with the sunken shape of a right foot and leading to it was a channel extending from a small round depression that would have held a jug. Clearly the stone was used for the anointing of right feet with some kind of liquid, perhaps oil. The anointing of feet with oil is referred to in the Gospels, not in connection with John but with Jesus, whose feet were anointed with perfumed oil by Mary Magdalene (John 12:13). The fact that only the right feet were anointed on our stone must indicate it was part of some cultic ritual; otherwise there should also have been a stone with an imprint of the left foot, but none was found. The discovery of this foot-anointing stone, combined with the evidence that the cave was not used for any kind of domestic or agricultural activity, suggested that the cave was being used in this period for various kinds of ritual activities, including water purification rites.

Because of the size of the cave and the unusual character of its installations, we believe it was used for group rituals that were performed in the front part of the cave before and after what was most likely some type of immersion procedure. As best we can put things together, people would have gathered in the front of the cave and then some kind of ceremony was performed, with individuals standing within the stone circles and using ceramic jugs, perhaps to pour water upon each other before ceremonially smashing the jugs. Subsequently, those who were gathered there immersed themselves within the water found near the back of the cave. On emerging, their right feet were anointed.


The ritual immersion procedures that took place in our cave in the early Roman period seem to resemble the baptism ceremonies performed by John the Baptist at the Jordan River (Mark 1:9-11). According to the Gospel accounts, crowds gathered to listen to John's teachings, accompanied perhaps with fasting (Mark 2:3) and set prayers (Luke 11:1). This led to the remission of sins, perhaps with water being ritually sprinkled over the people. This took place on the bank of the Jordan River before the immersion itself. Having undergone purification of the spirit, so to speak, people then descended into the river in order to purify the flesh, with John calling on the divine name and perhaps pouring libations. Emerging from the water there must have been an expectation that the holy spirit (the shekhinah) would ultimately descend upon those who had been purified.


The two main stages of this baptism ceremony, with activities relating to the remission of sins on the bank of the river and activities relating to the purification of the flesh during the actual immersion in the river, would seem to be mirrored in the archaeological remains we uncovered from the early Roman period in the cave at Suba. In the front of the cave are earthen embankments, with installations and ceremonial features, where people would have gathered; at the back of the cave was water in which people would have immersed themselves.


Our first hint that the cave may have had an earlier history came from a geologist and expert in ancient plaster, Aryeh Shimron. While visiting the cave, he proclaimed that, based on the consistency of the plaster, it must be from the Iron Age. At the time none of us had even considered such a possibility. Now it is clear that probably from the ninth to eighth centuries B.C. the cave was part of a type of sophisticated water system that will be described for BAR readers in a future article by Tsvika Tsuk, a leading expert on ancient water systems.


There is a problem here, however, that is difficult to answer: What would a water system of such technological sophistication be doing so far away from any Iron Age city or village? The closest settlement from the Iron Age is in fact at Suba, but the distance involved and the fact that there was already an abundance of springs and water systems there would seem to make unnecessary an additional water system such as ours. Since there was no settlement surrounding our cave, nor was it situated next to any major road, it is difficult to determine what it was used for. It was not used for irrigation purposes since there is no evidence of water-lifting devices at the cave. It is also unlikely to have been used for watering animals since they could not have managed to descend the steep 18 steps into the cave without breaking their legs.


If the purpose of the cave was simply to provide drinking water for the occasional passerby, then a much smaller cistern would have sufficed. One possibility is that it served as a major source for drinking water for the Judahite state administrators-but only at times of crisis. Such a reservoir with a water-collecting system along a valley may even have been referred to in the Old Testament as gbym (singular gbi), which have been translated in the past as "ditches" or "pools." 2 Kings 3:16-17 makes it clear that the gbym were features situated in valley landscapes and that they were sources of water that were tapped when water was scarce. Such installations would have made excellent pools for bathing at times when water was plentiful.


Our cave also had a later history, after the time of John the Baptist. When the cave was apparently abandoned after the early Roman period, it continued to build up silt so that in the Byzantine period someone standing in the cave could almost reach the ceiling. And this brings us to the startling drawings chiseled into the old Iron Age plaster on the walls.

The drawings are quite large (the man is about 2.5 feet high). Due to the hard cement-like consistency of the plaster, the person who originally made the drawings must have used a chisel (which is also indicated by the breaks and fractures of the lines).

The main drawing is of a shepherd-like figure shown with upraised arms, a large head with eyes gouged out (probably by some iconoclast) and with a crooked staff resting against his left hand. The figure wears a hairy garment (indicated by a series of 32 dots), which reminds us that John the Baptist is said to have worn an "outer garment of camel's hair and a leather girdle" (Mark 1:6). Next to him on his left is a schematic representation of a vessel on a tripod, or a lamb. If indeed this is a representation of a lamb it may be linked to John 1:36, in which the Baptist proclaims Jesus the "lamb of God." Below the drawing of the figure is an oval hole, which likely contained some relic (perhaps a finger bone or a piece of cloth), with marks along the edges indicating that wire netting was hammered over it to keep the relic in place.

Other drawings also appear to be connected to the Byzantine tradition of John the Baptist. Cut into the wall opposite the main figure is a drawing of a head; this probably symbolizes the decapitation of the Baptist at Machaerus, or his relic head. According to the Gospels, Herodias and Salome demanded from Herod Antipas the head of John on a platter. There are numerous relic heads said to be that of John in churches around the Mediterranean and the Near East. On a nearby wall is a life-size drawing of an upraised arm that is probably a rendition of the relic arm of the Baptist. Early church sources relate how at the time of Julian the Apostate (c. 363 A.D.), the tomb of John the Baptist at Sebaste (Samaria) was broken into and desecrated by pagans and his bones scattered. However, certain visiting pilgrims from the Monastery of St. Philip in Jerusalem saved his relic arm or hand from destruction. A superb gilded relic arm of John the Baptist is kept in the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul in Turkey. The drawing in our cave may be of this relic arm.

Other drawings on the walls of the cave include a T-shaped staff with streamers on the sides, "Greek"-type crosses and a group of three crosses that most likely symbolize the crucifixion of Jesus and the two thieves on Golgotha.

The iconography of the drawings indicates a Byzantine to early Islamic date. The drawings must have been incised into the walls sometime between the fourth and eleventh centuries.


The drawings are not random graffiti but were clearly undertaken at one time by one individual. They represent a coherent set of features intended as a means of redirecting the observer towards a clarification of faith. Otherwise they would be meaningless. In a sense they served as visual aids, as triggers or cues during a storytelling instruction given to monks, describing John the Baptist (represented by the drawing of his figure and possibly by a relic), his first martyrdom (the beheading shown by a drawn head), his second martyrdom (represented by the drawing of John's arm retrieved following the desecration of his tomb), his function as the precursor of Christ (shown here by the symbol of his staff), the coming of Jesus (shown by a large cross) and the Crucifixion (shown by the three crosses on Golgotha).


Most probably this was a memorial cave used by monks coming from the nearby Monastery of Zacharias and Elizabeth (named after John's parents), about an hour's walk away at Ain Karim (ancient Beth Haccerem) which was the traditional hometown of John the Baptist mentioned as a "city of Judah" in Luke 1:39-40. Today this monastery is known as the Church of the Nativity of St John. Archaeological remains uncovered beneath the church include a first-century A.D. dwelling with a miqweh, a Jewish ritual bath.


Because the Suba cave evidently had no domestic function and was not in continuous use during this 700-year period (from the fourth to eleventh century A.D.), we assume monks came to the cave for instruction about John the Baptist and to recall his solitude in the wildernesses (Luke 1:80), and perhaps also to mark John's nativity or death according to dates in the Eastern Byzantine calendar.


Why did the Byzantine monks choose this specific cave as a memorial cave? We shall probably never know for sure, but it is likely that this was because of some oral tradition connected to the cave going back to Roman times, which seems to be confirmed by our archaeological evidence that unusual baptism practices were performed at the cave precisely at the time of John the Baptist.

Unaccredited photos courtesy of the Jerusalem Archaeology Field unit.

Foot Note:

Excavations were conducted at the cave from 2000 to 2003 by Shimon Gibson and James Tabor on behalf of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the Jerusalem Archaeology Field Unit, and with the sponsorship of the Jerusalem Historical Society (directed by the late Joseph Peeples) and the Foundation for Biblical Archaeology (directed by Sheila Bishop). The project was funded through the generosity of the John C. Whitehead and the Altman-Kaziekes Foundations. Principal team members consisted of Egon Lass (field director and flotation expert), Rafi Lewis (site manager and assistant field director), Reuven Kalifon (kibbutz liaison), NoŽl Siver (pottery restoration), Fadi Amirah (surveyor) and Sandu Mendrea (photography). Specialists working with us included Neil Munro (geomorphology), Edward Maher (archaeozoology), Aryeh Shimron (plaster expert), Mira Matthews (thorium-uranium tests) and Elisabetta Boaretto (radiocarbon tests). Our thanks are extended to the members of Kibbutz Tzova for the logistical support they lent to the expedition throughout the dig. Recent conservation work was conducted at the cave by the conservation department of the Israel Antiquities Authority. To visit the cave contact Yael Kerem at Kibbutz Tzova:


Tourists entering the Cave of John the Baptist


Kevin Frayer/AP

Monday, 16 August, 2004, UK

British archaeologist Shimon Gibson, left, gestures with a wave of his hand, and site manager Rafi Lewis places his foot in a ceremonial stone as they stand in a large cistern, in the cave where the excavation team believes John the Baptist anointed many of his disciples.


Kibbutz Tzuba, Israel - Archeologists said Monday that they have found a cave where they believe John the Baptist anointed many of his disciples - a huge cistern with 28 steps leading to an underground pool of water.

During an exclusive tour of the cave by the Associated Press, archeologists presented wall carvings they said tell the story of the fiery New Testament preacher, as well as a stone they believe was used for ceremonial foot washing.

They also pulled about 250,000 pottery shards from the cave, the apparent remnants of small water jugs used in baptismal ritual.

"John the Baptist, who was just a figure from the Gospels, now comes to life," said British archeologist Shimon Gibson, who supervised the dig outside Jerusalem.

Others, however, said there was no proof that John the Baptist ever set foot in the cave, about four kilometers from Ein Kerem, the preacher's hometown and now part of Jerusalem.

"Unfortunately, we didn't find any inscriptions," said James Tabor, a religious studies professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Mr. Tabor and his students have participated in the excavations.

Both Mr. Tabor and Mr. Gibson said it was very likely that the wall carvings, including one showing a man with a staff and wearing animal skin, told the story of John the Baptist. The carvings stem from the Byzantine period and apparently were made by monks in the fourth or fifth century.

Mr. Gibson said he believed the monks commemorated John at a site linked to him by local tradition.

He said the carvings, the foot washing stone and other finds, taken together with the proximity of John's hometown, constituted strong circumstantial evidence that the cave was used by John.

John, a contemporary of Jesus who also preached a message of redemption, is one of the most important figures in Christianity. The discovery, if confirmed, would be among the most significant breakthroughs for biblical scholars in memory.

The cave is on the property of Kibbutz Tzuba, an Israeli communal farm just outside Jerusalem. A member of the kibbutz, Reuven Kalifon, knew of the cave's existence - the community's nectarine orchards run right up to the mouth of the cave - but it was filled with soil almost to the ceiling.

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

The archeologist, who has excavated in the Holy Land 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.

Mr. Gibson, who heads the Jerusalem Archaeological Field Unit, a private research group, organized an excavation. During the five-year project, he wrote a book, The Cave of John the Baptist, to be published later this week.

Mr. Gibson said the cave - 24 meters long, about four meters wide and four meters deep - was carved in the Iron Age, somewhere between 800 and 500 B.C., by the Israelites who apparently used it as an immersion pool.

"It apparently was adopted by John the Baptist, who wanted a place where he could bring people to undergo their rituals, pertaining to his ideas of baptism," Mr. Gibson said.

Believers would have walked down 28 stone steps. To their right, they would have discarded their clothes in a niche carved into the wall.

At the bottom of the steps, they would have placed the right foot onto a stone with an imprint of a foot. A small depression to the right of the imprint would have contained oil, to be poured over the foot for cleansing, Mr. Gibson said.


Later, Shimon Gibson wrote a book documenting this 'eye opening' discovery entitled, 'The Cave of John the Baptist' that was first published in September of 2004. To quote in part:


"At the time of this discovery, we had great fun getting the diggers to model their feet within the depression, while we clicked away with our cameras. Of all the people there, Rafi Lewis's right foot (size 42 cm) was the only one with the perfect fit! I also tried and found that I could just get my (slightly larger) right foot into the depression. An important point to mention is that it was not at all possible to insert the left foot because the depression had been shaped specifically only for the form of the right foot. I tried inserting my right foot backwards, i.e. in the opposite direction, with my toes toward the heel of the depression, but again without success. We concluded therefore that the stone must have been used in the Early Roman period for foot anointing: the initiatory would have stood facing west with his back against the wall, with his right foot inserted into the foot-like depression and with his left foot resting on the living surface. The saucer-like depression probably served as the base for a one-handled jug, similar to those found in the hundreds in the cave. It could have contained water or oil, but the fact that there is a small groove extending from the cup-mark to the foot depression, suggests that it was the later. After all, water could be splashed around but every attempt would have been made to conserve precious oil dripping down the jug. The existence of only one foot depression and specifically only the one to accommodate the right foot has to indicate that the stone was connected with cultic practices and not with daily ablutions. In our reconstruction of this event, we believe that it was another person rather than the initiatory himself who would have administered the washing and anointing of the foot with the oil from a jug. This discovery was very special and nothing like it, as far as I knew, had ever been found at an Early Roman site in Israel/Palestine."


Israeli archaeological site manager Rafi Lewis places his foot on a stone that the excavation team believes was used for ceremonial foot washing, during a tour of the Kibbutz Tzuba site on Monday.



Photo: Kevin Frayer/AP

Israeli archeological site manager Rafi Lewis stands in the water of a large cistern in the cave where the excavation team believes John the Baptist anointed many of his disciples on the Kibbutz Tzuba, near Jerusalem. Associated Press


In the Depths of the Cave of John the Baptist



Steven Shelley standing with hand on the stone with a carved out place for a foot (size 11), it is believed that this was used in the anointing of the right foot of the penitent with the holy oil of Moses.


Close up of anointing stone taken by another tourist.


Details of the face of John, His arms are stretched
upward; the staff in His right hand has a cross on the top.


Byzantine Monk depiction of the Crucifixion. Three crosses, with a dove coming down over one of the crosses to the right a staff connected to Hermes, the messenger of the gods, this would be used to draw the connection with John as a messenger who would go before the Messiah.


The way leading out from the cave of
John the Baptist.



Tourists leaving the Cave of John the Baptist


In Israel, Archeology fuels believers' passions and provokes skeptics in a sharp debate without end. By Jerry Adler and Anne Underwood/Newsweek August 30th, 2004

The 550 residents of Kibbutz Tzuba, a few miles down the road from Jerusalem toward Tel Aviv, mostly just want to be "left alone in their own little patch," Yael Kerem says apologetically. She ought to know, as marketing director for the guesthouse with which the kibbutz supplements its main businesses, a fruit and dairy farm and a small factory that makes bulletproof windshields. Yet even as she spoke last week, her cell phone was burbling as requests poured in for tours and interviews: a group of monks from Jerusalem, five busloads of visitors from Turkey, reporters from the United States and Europe. She gestures expansively toward a stand of olive trees. "We might have to pave over this area," she says, "so we can park the buses."

Israel, it has been said, is a place of too much history and too little geography. The very earth beneath Kibbutz Tzuba's nectarine trees hides the walls of settlements going back to the dawn of civilization, cisterns and caves used by wanderers in the time of Jesus. Wanderers very much like the Biblical John the Baptist, who, according to written tradition dating to the fourth century, was born just two miles from here. That distinction meant little, though, until last week, as word spread of a new book by one of Israel's most ambitious archeologists, Shimon Gibson, who spent three years excavating a cave on the grounds of Kibbutz Tzuba. Gibson's electrifying claim is that the cave contained a man-made pool in which John--and possibly even Jesus himself--may have performed the ritual cleansing known as baptism. If those claims are accepted--already a chorus of skeptics is rising to dispute them, and it is hard to see how they could ever be proved--the Tzuba cave would be, for Christians, one of the holiest places on earth.

Which is, perhaps, a mixed blessing, and not just for the kibbutzniks who would prefer an olive grove to a parking lot. The buried history of the Holy Land is a subject of no less contention than its endlessly fought-over land and water. In this part of the world, shards of pottery and scraps of parchment are weapons. The father of Israeli archeology, Yigael Yadin, who died in 1984, sought to show that the Jews' claim to the land of Israel dates back 3,200 years to the conquests of Joshua. The extreme wing of the so-called minimalist school--which claims that Biblical accounts of a Jewish presence in the Holy Land have no basis in fact--is suspected in Israel of trying to undermine the case for Zionism. Both sides, though, have had to hold their fire in the face of the Palestinian uprising, which in four years has reduced the number of full-scale academic digs in Israel from about 45 to approximately four. William Dever, professor emeritus at the University of Arizona at Tucson and one of America's leading authorities on Near Eastern archeology, calls the situation in his discipline "a crisis." And Jews and Arabs are both wary and solicitous of the powerful American Christian groups who support research aimed at vindicating the Gospels, for which there is virtually no surviving physical evidence. For all that his words did to change history, during Jesus' time on earth he was but one man among 300 million, his tracks long since covered by the dust of the centuries.


The quest for artifacts related to Jesus Christ spans virtually the entire history of the church, from the fourth century, when Saint Helena is said to have retrieved a piece of the True Cross, to two years ago, when an Israeli antiquities collector produced a stone box with an inscription suggesting it had held the remains of Jesus' brother James. Each era sees in these relics a reflection of what it values most. The touch of the Cross was believed able to bring back the dead; the owner of the so-called James Ossuary valued it at $2 million. The magic powers of neither were put to the test, however, because both are now considered forgeries. Just two years ago the fragment of the Cross supposedly found by Helena--she said it was a part of the Titulus, the headboard with its famous inscription ("Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews")--was dated by scientists to be between the 10th and 12th centuries. As for the inscription on the ossuary (a limestone box in which first-century Jews stored the bones of their dead), "the overwhelming scholarly consensus is that it's a fake," according to Eric Meyers, a Judaic-studies scholar at Duke. The Israeli police have confiscated the box from the owner, who claimed to have bought it for $200. A minority, though, holds to the view of Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archeology Review, and co-author of a book on the ossuary, that the inscription may be genuine.


In any case, serious scholars rarely bother with religious relics that turn up in churches or dealers' shops, removed from the vital archeological "context" that situates them in a time and place. "Even if the [James] Ossuary is genuine, it provides no new information," says Andrew Overman, head of classics at Macalester College. Nor do archeologists generally set out to prove, or disprove, a point of scripture, although there are fundamentalist groups that try to enlist them in that quest. "They've got big checkbooks, but they can't get anyone to take their money," says James Strange of the University of South Florida, Tampa, who directs one of the excavation teams at the first-century city of Sepphoris, the capital of lower Galilee. "They say, 'Would you help me find the giants of Genesis 6?' A serious archeologist can't expend his credibility on that."

The value of archeology is not in validating scripture, but in providing a historical and intellectual context, and the occasional flash of illumination on crucial details. An ossuary containing the only known remains of a victim of crucifixion suggests that artists may have erred in their depictions of Christ on the cross; this victim's feet were not nailed one on top of the other, but positioned on either side of the cross and fixed with a horizontal spike. Scholars like John Dominic Crossan, [Note: On November 3rd, 2005 this editor attended the Anne Evans Woodall Lecture at All Saints Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Georgia. John Dominic Crossan was the speaker and when questioned stated, "The term Messiah (anointed in English) is just a title for King. It does not mean that Jesus was anointed with the Holy oil of Moses. I don't know of any scholar that supports the idea that Jesus was ever anointed with the Holy oil of Moses." From Universal Orthodox Doctrine of Heaven and the Love of Truth pgs. 110, 111. Universal Orthodox Editor] a professor emeritus of religious studies at DePaul University and former co-chair of the Jesus Seminar, can read volumes into a simple signpost in the Biblical town of Ephesus. "There's a gate to the market that Paul would have walked under," Crossan relates. "On top, it says Caesar is the son of God. When Paul applies that name to Jesus, it's not just a nice title. It's the title of Caesar. That is known as high treason."

Even more evocative to Crossan is a fishing boat discovered in the Sea of Galilee in 1986: a sturdy workhorse of a vessel with two oars on each side, a keel and mast, very likely the sort of boat on which Jesus himself might have set out. Crossan is intrigued by signs that the boat's owner fell on hard times, patching it over and over and finally removing the nails before pushing it out to sea. To Crossan--although other scholars dispute the point--this suggests that hard economic times had befallen the Galilee fishermen. Against this backdrop he sets the Biblical account of fishermen leaving their nets and following Jesus. "Did they just drop everything and take off after Jesus? Well, maybe. But maybe there were human reasons. Life was getting tough around the lake."

Perhaps the most revealing Biblical site excavated in recent years has been Sepphoris, five miles from Nazareth, which has been under excavation since 1985. Although not mentioned in the Bible by name, Strange believes it was the "city on a hill" Jesus had in mind in Matthew 5:14. It was razed by the Romans right around the time of Jesus' birth, and reconstructed afterward, and it's not unreasonable to think Jesus himself might have worked there. But more important than the chance of finding Jesus' tool belt is what it tells us about his milieu. "Jesus has a lot to say about the rich, and most of it is not good," says Strange. "This is where he would have encountered the rich, not in Nazareth." Archeologists have excavated three villas with interior courtyards, richly frescoed walls and luxury goods similar to those found anywhere in the Roman Empire--but unmistakably the homes of Jews, with ritual baths and inhabitants who obeyed Jewish dietary laws. (At least until the fourth century, when Christianity became the official religion and pig bones make a sudden appearance in the garbage.) "It gives us an entirely new way of thinking about the social context of Jesus' life," says L. Michael White, a religious-studies professor at the University of Texas at Austin. "He is not just a poor peasant from a remote village; he's living close to a large, multilingual urban center, heavily influenced by Roman culture."

For some believers, no doubt, this kind of information helps make the Bible more real; others, perhaps, don't really want to be told that the economics of the Galilee fishing industry was a factor in spreading the Gospel. But Christian believers have no quarrel with archeology, because they assume it will vindicate scripture eventually. On a hot and wind-swept Saturday afternoon, 34 tourists from Poland, most of them born-again Protestants, tramped the barren plateau of Megiddo behind their pastor, Janusz Szarzec. They had already spent the morning in Nazareth, and now they were taking in the high stone gates believed to be part of King Solomon's northern citadel--a simple demonstration, says Szarzec, that "excavations prove what was written in the Bible." His sky-blue eyes glistening, the pastor read to them a prophecy of the battle of Armageddon (Megiddo) from Revelation. "You must take this literally," he urged his flock, "because it's going to happen!"


But the issue is more complicated for Jews. Orthodox Jews consider it a sin to disturb Jewish graves, but Dever, the American scholar, suspects the issue of Jewish graves is hiding a more serious agenda: "They don't want scientific investigation," he charges, "because they're afraid it will prove their patriarchal stories aren't historical." And, in fact, current scholarship is not especially congenial to Old Testament literalists. There is, essentially, no evidence for the existence of Abraham and the other patriarchs, and--despite more than a century of intensive study of Pharaonic Egypt--only the barest wisps of support for the Exodus, the central event in Jewish theology. There are accounts of Egyptian raids into Palestine that brought back captives, presumably as slaves, and a dispatch from a border guard in the early 12th century B.C., reporting that two people had escaped from Egypt into the Sinai. On the basis of what has been found so far, "there was no Exodus, at least not of hundreds of thousands of people making a miraculous escape across the desert," Dever says. "And there was no conquest" of the land of Canaan by Joshua. "There are several chapters in Joshua on Jericho," says Carol Meyers, a professor of Biblical studies at Duke, "but Jericho wasn't even inhabited at the time." Some things do check out: an Egyptian artifact, the Merneptah stele, refers to a victory by Pharaoh's Army over the Israelites in about 1200 B.C. That date falls in the period when the minimalists deny that Jews even lived in the Holy Land. This particular question is so politically fraught, according to Claire Pfann, a New Testament scholar in Jerusalem, that minimalists have accused their opponents of forging evidence to bolster the Zionist case.


[Note: The above is refuted in documentary available at the History Channel. Order this title for historical accuracy and revelation: The Exodus Decoded DVD - At the very heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam lays the story of the Exodus, an epic tale of plagues, miracles and revelations. But the truth behind these events has been obscured by faith and time--until now.


After six years of unprecedented research, host Simcha Jacobovici and a team of renowned archeologists, Egyptologists, geologists, and theologians shed revelatory new light on the Exodus and the era's ruling Egyptian Dynasty. Their new theory pushes events hundreds of years earlier than previously thought, allowing age-old stories to sparkle with new perspectives and startling historical import.


Using elaborate, state-of-the-art CGI, THE EXODUS DECODED offers a stunning virtual account of stories like the birth of Moses, the ten plagues, and the parting of the Red Sea, revealing once and for all the difference between acts of Nature and the hand of God. Executive Produced by James Cameron (who appears on camera) and Simcha Jacobovici (who also hosts), the viewer follows Jacobovici to Egypt, Greece and Israel, on an investigative archaeological journey that pieces together a puzzle of tantalizing clues. (And all for just $20 - Universal Orthodox Editor.]


The story continues: So the territory on which Gibson has embarked is a treacherous one, both politically and geologically, but for good or ill he has jumped in with both feet. Gibson, 45, was born in England to a mother who moved the family to Israel when he was 9, and he studied archeology at London's prestigious Institute of Archaeology. His peers consider him an outstanding archeologist in the field, but his decision to publicize his cave finding in a popular book before publishing in a scientific journal has raised some eyebrows. "I don't want to spoil the celebration," says Ronnie Reich, a respected archeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, "but I'm skeptical."

He first crawled inside the cave, Gibson writes, in 1999, brought there by a kibbutznik who had discovered it years earlier. On a wall he saw an incised drawing of a crude stick figure holding a staff, with one arm raised upright as if in blessing; he recognized it immediately as an icon of John the Baptist. That meant two things to him: that the cave was worth excavating and that with the right connections, money would be available to help excavate it. He contacted an archeological enthusiast from Texas, Joseph Peeples, who raised funds from donors including John C. Whitehead, a wealthy New York banker and former deputy secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan. Whitehead, on a trip to Israel, visited the cave with Gibson and, after one look at the drawings, agreed to bankroll the excavation along with his friend and fellow financier Roger C. Altman. "You can't help but be a little tingly about what might have taken place there," Whitehead recalled last week. What neither of these men apparently realized--and what Gibson himself denies knowing--is that Peeples, who died in 2002, served time in prison on two separate federal fraud convictions. But there is no evidence that his connection to Gibson had any sinister purpose.

Peeples's other contribution was to put Gibson in touch with James Tabor, professor of early Christianity at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, who agreed to help with the dig--a role that included supplying students to wield the shovels. On a March day in 2000 two of those students, Lee Hutchison and Jeff Poplin, reached the floor level of a shelf on the right side of the cave. For days, the team had been unearthing pieces of thick, gray pottery from the fourth and fifth centuries. Gibson had already concluded that Byzantine monks, the ones who had engraved the icons on the wall, had probably established a shrine to John in the cave. At their feet, the students saw something new, a delicate red shard of pottery. They took it to Tabor, who showed it to Gibson, who at a glance pronounced it "First-century Roman."

And that put an entirely new face on things. As Gibson dug down, he found thousands of these shards, suggestive, to him, of pottery that was intentionally shattered, as if in a ritual. He uncovered a stone with an indentation in the shape of a human foot, linked by a channel to a small basin: it looked to him like a kind of font for anointing the foot with oil. And armed with those archeological clues, and the oral and written traditions linking John to the region, he makes what some of his colleagues call the stupefyingly audacious leap to the conclusion that John himself may have used the cave to baptize believers.

"In archeology," Gibson admits, "nothing is certain, not even written evidence." But, he says, the evidence that the cave was used by John "is as strong as you can get in terms of archeological remains. Of course it would be nice to have an inscription saying, 'I, John the Baptist, was here and my disciples are using it as a ritual site.' But you usually don't get that."

Few of his colleagues, even the few who have seen the cave, go along with him. "Maybe Gibson and the kibbutz want to attract tourists," says David Amit, a senior archeologist with the antiquities authority who describes himself as a friend of Gibson's. "It's pure fiction. It's not archeology." Even Tabor, who agrees with Gibson that the cave was undoubtedly used for ritual purposes in the first century, concedes that "you can't prove John was there." Among other objections to Gibson's theory, there is nothing in scripture to suggest that John baptized believers anywhere except in the Jordan River. And there is little more than conjecture for a scenario sketched in Gibson's book by which John "might very well have sent Jesus intentionally to visit the scene of his early baptism activities... and our [Tzuba] was just that place."

In any case, unless someone comes along with conclusive evidence to refute Gibson, for better or worse the cave will be attracting tourists for a long time to come. Two thousand years ago, Jesus, John and the disciples changed human destiny forever, and then disappeared into history. One way or another we have been trying to bring them back into our lives ever since.



[Kibbutz Tzuba, Israel ( August 19, 2004]

A recently discovered cave near Jerusalem could be the place where the New Testament prophet John the Baptist developed his ideas and got his start before he began baptizing multitudes in the Jordan River, archaeologists said today. Although the cave's significance was discovered several years ago, it was kept a quasi-secret for scientific reasons until Monday, when archaeologists decided to go public with their findings.

Dr. Shimon Gibson, a British-born archaeologist, said he believes that the find will shed new light on the life of John the Baptist and baptism itself.
"By fitting together all of the new archaeological facts with the basic historical information that has been available (sometimes even buried) in scholarly literature for a long time -- I believe I am able to throw an amazing amount of light on the personality and mission of John the Baptist -- the man, the prophet," said Gibson.

The cave -- actually a cistern -- is located at the bottom of a rocky cliff in the orchards of the community of Kibbutz Tzuba, near Ein Kerem where John the Baptist was born, about seven miles from Jerusalem. Although members of Kibbutz Tzuba -- the Biblical Tzova -- had known about the cave for years, it was member Reuven Kalifon who suggested that Gibson take a look at it.

"We have an orchard there," said Kalifon. "Everybody at one time or another in his life would work in the orchards. In the wintertime, it would start raining, and people would look for a shelter."

The opening to the cave, hidden by bushes and filled with mud, was barely big enough to scramble into, but once inside, it was very deep, he said. During a general survey that Gibson was conducting in the area in 1999, Kalifon suggested that he visit the cave.

"We entered into the cave, we had to crawl on all fours, and then, behind a series of boulders against the walls -- the cave was full of soil almost up to the ceiling -- we were able to make out some drawings and move some of the boulders, and you could see the figure of John the Baptist," said Gibson. Excavations were then undertaken during the next four years on behalf of the University of North Carolina, he said.

According to Gibson, the primitive cave drawings etched in the walls were probably used by Byzantine monks starting in the 4th century A.D. as a teaching tool to tell new monks about the story of John the Baptist and his significance to Christianity. Beneath the Byzantine-era finds in the cistern, Gibson and colleagues discovered a layer correlating to the time of John the Baptist.

"Those installations that we uncovered there were totally different from Jewish ritual purification practices of the time, and they much fit into what we know about the rites that [John] performed, based on the description of the baptism down in the Jordan Valley." Because of these findings, the proximity of the cistern to John's birthplace and the Byzantine tradition, which lasted hundreds of years, linking the cistern to John the Baptist, Gibson said he believes it could be the desert or wilderness place described in the Bible where John spent much of his youth.

John the Baptist -- a contemporary of Jesus who heralded his coming -- preached repentance and baptized people for the "remission of sins," the Bible records. Although all four Gospels indicate that John baptized in the Jordan River -- nowhere near Kibbutz Tzuba -- Gibson said that he believes John had developed his ideas and practice of baptizing earlier, perhaps even in this cave.

"The story of John down in the Jordan River has been highlighted in the Gospels for the obvious reason that that's the place Jesus was baptized by John, but this actually happened right at the end of his life," Gibson said. "He was born in Ein Kerem region, and one assumes that he was baptizing because he comes to the Jordan River with fully fledged ideas about baptism...In the Gospels, it talks about people from the city of Jerusalem streaming down to the Jordan River to be part of the rituals undertaken by John the Baptist, which means that basically, they knew about the rituals."

This particular cave contains those "archaeological features" that can be "linked to the rites as they are depicted in the Gospels," he said. Gibson, who heads the Jerusalem Archaeological Field Unit, a private research group, wrote a book on the findings, The Cave of John the Baptist, which is due to be published later this week.

Egon Lass, an American archaeologist who has been part of the excavations, described the site as "terribly unusual." Lass, who described himself as a "field archaeologist" who does not indulge in theories, nevertheless said the findings at the site do not conflict with Gibson's claims. But even at a first glance, the site is extraordinary, he said.

Twenty-eight "monumental steps" lead from the outside through the opening all the way down to the floor of the cistern. They are "monumental" because they span the entire width -- about four meters -- of the cistern, said Lass. As one descends the stairs, there is a large niche on the right side, which could have been used for bathers to place their clothing.

"Now, that would all be perfectly fine if you could go in three meters and hit a wall. Then you would have a mikveh [Jewish ritual immersion bath]," said Lass. But there is no wall. The cistern stretches for some 26 meters (85 feet) with a water reservoir at the far end and is about four meters (13 feet) high and wide. "This is huge," he said. "That's one thing that's unusual, very unusual."

According to three separate experts who dated the plaster on the walls, the cistern was dug during the Iron Age between 800 and 500 B.C. -- which preceded any of the other ritual baths in the country by a number of years. As the excavations continued, the archaeologists discovered a "huge stone" with an imprint of a large right foot. Next to it was a little basin connected by a channel that may have been used for some kind of oil or water anointing, Lass said.

There was no such ritual in Jewish tradition. It was definitely connected to a ritual and not just something practical, like washing the dirt off one's feet because it only fits one foot, Lass said. They also found hundreds of thousands of pottery shards, mostly from two- to three-liter jugs, indicating that the jars were used in some kind of rite. At the bottom of the steps is a sandy pathway that would have made it easier for participants to walk through the cave to the immersion pool without hurting their feet.

"This is also something that you don't find in a cave -- the pathway," Lass said. "People don't walk in water cisterns. "Now you put all this together, and you have the drawings on the walls. If you want to interpret the drawings according to a logical scheme the way [Gibson] has done...I think you come up with a logical picture," he said.

Lass said the archaeologists have not been in touch with the Vatican over their findings, but they were told by an Italian television reporter that thousands of people would now want to visit the site. "I hope people come and's a special site," said Kibbutz member Kalifon. "We're talking about a wonderful, wonderful site which is interesting for the Jewish public, and you can see the roots of Christianity."

Arial view
Cave of John the Baptist Cistern Complex

Cave of John the Baptist Cistern Complex in part 1.

Cave of John the Baptist Cistern Complex in part 2.

Cave of John the Baptist Cistern Complex in part 3.

The Commemoration of the Priest Zachariah

"The Father of St. John the Baptist"


Meskerem 08 - September 18

On the 8th day of Meskerem - September 18th, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church commemorates the Priest - Prophet, father of St. John the Baptist, Zachariah, who was martyred by the hand of Herod the King.

When the Archangel Gabriel announced to Zachariah the birth of John his Son, he did not believe his word and the Archangel made him dumb, unable to speak until the child was born. (St. Luke 1: 18-22) When they named the child, he asked for a writing table and wrote that his name would be John. Then he spoke, and praised God. (St. Luke 1:63-79) The Holy Gospel gave testimony concerning him that he and his wife were righteous, walking in the Law of God without blemish.

When our Lord God and Savior, Jesus the Anointed was born, and the "Wise Men" [Ethiopian Israelite priests, the Ark of the Covenant at that time was hidden upon an island in the middle of Lake Tana, Ethiopia a land of the "east" - Universal Orthodox - Editor] came to worship Him, Herod was troubled and feared for his kingdom. Therefore, he gave the order to slay all the children of Bethlehem, from two years old and under, so he would kill the Lord Christ among them. An Angel of God appeared to St. Joseph in a dream saying, "Take the child and flee to Egypt." St. Joseph took the Child Jesus and St. Mary, His mother, and went to Egypt as the Angel of the Lord had told him. But John's mother took him and fled to the mountain were she dwelt, bringing him up for six years. After her departure to heaven, the child remained in the desert till the day of his appearance to Israel. (St. Luke 1: 80)

It was said that during the slaughter of the children, Herod thought that John was the Anointed. He requested John from his father, Zachariah, who said, "I do not know where the child is." They threatened to kill him, but he did not heed. Herod ordered his soldiers to slay him. It was also said that when Herod sought John to slay him, Zachariah escaped with him to the Temple and put him on the Altar and when they caught up with him, he told the soldiers, "From here I accepted him from the Lord," and thereupon the Angel of God snatched away the child, and took him to the desert Zifana. When they did not find the child, they slew Zachariah between the Temple and the Altar.

In Matthew, "Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar." xxiii. 34, 35.

Zachariah the Priest, son of Bar-a-chi-as; he is not Zachariah the Prophet, who was one of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Zachariah the Prophet was not martyred but died and his body was found without decay. His prayers be with us. Amen.


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Archaeologist finds religion.


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John the Baptist's cave?


Psalm 68

To the victor. A psalm of David; a song. Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; and let those who hate Him flee from before Him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish from before God; but let the just be glad; let them triumph before God; and let them have joy in gladness. Sing to God, sing psalms to His name; extol Him who rides on the clouds, by His name Jah; and triumph before Him. A father of orphans, and a judge of widows, is God in the abode of His holiness. God makes the solitary to dwell in a house; He brings out those who are bound in fetters: but the defiant inhabit a parched land. O God, when Thou didst go forth before Thy people, when Thou didst march in the solitude; Selah. The earth did quake, the heavens also dropped before God; this Sinai, before God, the God of Israel. Thou, O God, didst shake down a bountiful shower; Thou didst make firm Thine inheritance, when it was weary. Thy wild beast dwelt therein; Thou, O God, in Thy goodness, didst prepare for the afflicted. The Lord gives the saying; Great is the army of those who proclaim it. Kings of armies flee away, they flee away, and the homemaker of the house parts the spoil. If you lie down between the settings, the wings of a dove will be covered over with silver, and her pinions with the greenish yellow of choice gold. When Shaddai spreads out kings therein, it snows in Zalmon. A mountain of God is the mountain of Bashan; a mountain of peaks is the mountain of Bashan. Why do you leap, O mountains, ye peaks of the mountain? God has desired to dwell in it; yea Jehovah will inhabit it perpetually. The chariots of God are two myriads, thousands redoubled; the Lord is among them, Sinai in the sanctuary.Thou hast gone up on high, Thou hast led captivity captive, Thou hast received gifts among men--and even among the defiant; that Jah God might inhabit it. Blessed be the Lord from day to day, He bears the load for us; He is the God our salvation. Selah. God is for us a God for salvation; and to Jehovah the Lord, belong the outgoings of death. Surely God will smite through the head of His enemies, the hairy top of the head of him who goes on in his guilt. The Lord said, I will return from Bashan, I will turn back from the depths of the sea; that thy foot may be dashed in blood, that the tongue of thy dogs may have its portion from the enemies. They have seen Thy goings, O God, the goings of my God, my King in the sanctuary. The singers went before, after them the players on the harp, in the midst of the maidens playing on timbrels. Bless ye God in the assemblies, the Lord from the fountain of Israel. There little Benjamin dominates over them, the princes of Judah, their company, the princes of Zebulon, the princes of Naphtali. Thy God has commanded thy strength; be strong, O God; Thou hast wrought this for us. From Thy temple above Jerusalem kings shall bring oblations to Thee. Rebuke the wild animal of the reeds, the congregation of the bulls, among the calves of the peoples, trampling upon the fragments of silver, He has scattered the peoples; they delight in combats. Nobles shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia (Cush) shall quickly move his hands to God. Sing to God, ye kingdoms of the earth; sing psalms to the Lord; Selah. To Him who rides upon the heaven of heavens, which are of old; behold He gives forth with His voice, a voice of strength.Give ye strength to God; His excellence is over Israel, and His strength is in the ethers. O God, Thou art to be feared out of Thy sanctuaries; the God of Israel who gives strength and might to the people.Blessed be God.


John the Baptist upon cavern wall
artist rendition black and white

John the Baptist upon cavern wall
Kibbitz Tzuba photo


Matthew 3

And in those days John the Baptist presented himself, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is near. For this is he who was declared by Isaiah the prophet, saying, The voice of him who cries in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. And the same John had his clothing of camel's hair, and a leather belt about his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then went out unto him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region roundabout Jordan, and were baptized by him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

And seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said unto them, O generations of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the anger to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance; and think it not right to say in yourselves, We have Abraham for our father; for I say unto you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham. And already also the axe is laid to the root of the trees; therefore every tree which brings not forth good fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you in water into repentance; but He who comes after me is stronger than I, whose shoes I am not fit to carry; He shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire, whose fan is in His hand; and He will purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the barn, and will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.


Then comes Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbade Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Let it now be so; for thus it is becoming to us to fulfill all justice. Then he suffered under Him.

And Jesus being baptized, [Note: in mystery the water ritual is recounted. The anointing in private ceremony event took place without the witness of John's disciples present. Universal Orthodox doctrine Editor] went up straightway out of the water; and lo, the heavens were opened to Him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him; and lo, a voice from the heavens saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. [After this apparition of the dove, John the Baptist knew who is to be the Anointed. Universal Orthodox doctrine Editor]


In John, And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it above upon Him. And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizes with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. i. 32-34.


Isaiah 40


Comfort ye, comfort ye, My people, saith your God. Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem, and proclaim unto her, that her warfare is fulfilled; that her iniquity is pardoned; that he has received from the hand of Jehovah double for all her sins. A voice of one proclaiming in the wilderness, Turn ye your face unto the way of Jehovah! Make straight in the desert a highway for our God! Every ravine shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and that which is slanted shall become a plain, and the elated places a vale: and the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of Jehovah has spoken. A voice saith, Proclaim! And I said, What shall I proclaim? All flesh is grass, and all the glory thereof is as the flower of the field: the grass dries​up, the flower fades, because the spirit of Jehovah blows upon it; verily the people is grass. The grass dries up, the flower fades; but the Word of our God shall rise up for eternity. Get thee up into the high mountain, O daughter of Zion, who bringest good tidings; lift​ up thy voice with strength, O daughter of Jerusalem, who bringest good tidings; lift it up, be not fearful; say to the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord Jehovih shall come with power, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and the recompense of His work before Him. Like a shepherd He shall shepherd His flock; in His arm He shall gather​ ​up the young lambs, and shall carry them in His bosom; and He shall guide the sucklings.


Who has measured the waters with His handful; and has meted out the heavens with a span; and has contained the dust of the earth in a third measure; and has weighed the mountains in a scale, and the hills in a balance? Who has directed the Spirit of Jehovah, and as a man of His counsel has let Him know? With whom has He counseled, that he should instruct Him, and teach Him the path of judgment; that he should teach Him knowledge, and let Him know the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are as a drop from the bucket, and are reckoned as the small dust of the balance; behold, the islands He takes up as something thin; and Lebanon is not sufficient to burn; nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt​◠​offering. All the nations are as nothing before Him; they are reckoned by Him as less than nothing, and what is void. And to whom will ye liken God? And to what likeness will ye value Him? The craftsmen melts​down a graven image; and the refiner spreads it out in gold, and refines chains of silver. The desititute of an uplifting chooses wood that will not rot; he seeks for himself a wise craftsman to prepare a graven image, which shall not be moved. Have ye not known? Have ye not heard? Has it not been declared unto you from the beginning? Have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He that sits upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as locusts; that stretches​ out the heavens as a curtain, and spreads them out as a tent to sit in; that reduces rulers to nothing; that makes the judges of the earth as the void. Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown; yea, their trunk shall not take root in the earth: and He shall also blow upon them, and they shall dry​ up; and the whirlwind shall bear them away like the stubble.


Lift your eyes on high, and see who has created these. He leads out their army by number, He calls to them all by name; from the multitude of strength, and the courage of power, not a man lacks. Wherefore sayest thou then, O Jacob, and why speakest thou thus, O Israel; My way is hidden from Jehovah, and my judgment has passed away from my God? Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the eternal God is Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth? He faints not, neither does He toil; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint; and to him that has no might He multiplies strength. The youths shall faint and toil, and the young​men stumbling shall stumble; but they that wait upon Jehovah shall renew1 their power; they shall go​ up with pinions as eagles; they shall run, and not toil; they shall walk, and not faint.


In Luke, And in the fifteenth year of the governing of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip being tetrarch of Iturea, and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, in the time of the chief​ priests Annas and Caiaphas, the Word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the region​round about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness1 of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled full, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Then he said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, Generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the anger to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say in yourselves, We have Abraham for our father (Faith alone Ed.); for I say to you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham. And also the axe is already laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that brings not forth good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire. And the crowds asked him, saying, What then shall we do? And answering, he says to them, He who has two tunics, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise. And the publicans also came to be baptized, and said to him, Teacher, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is ordered you. And the soldiers also asked him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said to them, Do violence to no one, neither accuse any falsely, and be content with your wages. And as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he were the Anointed or not, John answered, saying to all, I indeed baptize you with water, but there comes One stronger than I, the strap of whose shoes I am not fit to loosen; He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire; whose fan is in His hand, and He will purge His floor, and will gather His wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire. And exhorting in many other things indeed, he announced the gospel to the people. iii. 1-18.


In Micah, But it shall be in the last days, that the mountain of the house of Jehovah shall be established in the head of the mountains, and it shall be lifted​up above the hills; and peoples shall flow as a river to it. And many nations shall come, and say, Walk, and let us go​up to the mountain of Jehovah, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths; for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. And He shall judge between many peoples, and reprove numerous nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into mattocks, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig​tree; and none shall frighten them; for the mouth of Jehovah of Armies has spoken it. For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of Jehovah our God to eternity and forever.


In that day, saith Jehovah, will I assemble her that halts, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her to whom I have done​ evil; and I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a numerous nation; and Jehovah shall reign over them in Mount Zion from now and even​◠​to eternity. And thou, O tower of the drove, the summit of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come; and the rule of the first shall come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem. Now why dost thou shout out aloud? is there no king in thee? is thy counselor perished? for travailing strengthened thee as a woman giving​birth. Travail, and bring​ out, O daughter of Zion, as a woman giving​ birth; for now shalt thou go​out from the city, and thou shalt inhabit the field, and thou shalt come even to Babylon; there shalt thou be rescued; there Jehovah shall redeem thee from the palm of the hand of thine enemies. Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be contaminated, and let our eye behold upon Zion. But they know not the thoughts of Jehovah, neither discern they His counsel; for He shall bring them together as the sheaves of the threshing floor.

Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion; for I will set thine horn as iron, and I will set thy hoofs as bronze: and thou shalt make thin many peoples: and I will devote their gain to Jehovah, and their belongings to the Lord of all the earth. iv.


Apocalypse Explained 504:17 (Emanuel Swedenborg 1688-1772)

In the day of Jehovah's vengeance, the brooks of the land shall be turned into pitch, and its dust into brimstone, and the land shall become burning pitch; it shall not be quenched night or day, the smoke thereof shall go up forever (Isa. 34:8-10). They have become as stubble; the fire hath burnt them; they shall deliver not their soul from the hand of the flame (47:14). Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks; go into the place of your fire, and into the sparks that ye have kindled (50:11). Their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched (66:24).In Ezekiel:


I will give thee into the hand of burning men; thou shalt be for food for fire (21:31, 32). In David:  Thou shalt make them as an oven of fire in the time of Thine anger, and fire shall devour them (Ps. 21:9). Burning coals shall overwhelm the wicked; fire shall cast them into pits, they shall not rise again (Ps. 140:10). In Matthew:


Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the fire. He will cleanse His floor, and gather His wheat into the garners, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire (3:10, 12; Luke 3:9, 17). As the tares are burned with fire, so shall it be in the consummation of the age (13:40). The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that cause stumbling, and them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire (13:41, 42, 50). He said to them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (25:41). Whosoever shall say to his brother, Thou fool, shall be subject to the hell of fire (5:22; 18:8, 9; Mark 9:45, 47). In Luke:


The rich man in hell said, Father Abraham, send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame (16:24). When Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them; after the same manner shall it be in the day that the Son of man is revealed (17:29, 30). In Revelation:

If anyone worship the beast he shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone (14:9, 10). The beast and the false prophet were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone (19:20). The devil was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone (20:10). Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire; and if anyone was not found written in the book of life he was cast into the lake of fire (20:14, 15). The unfaithful, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone (21:8). In these passages, "fire" signifies all cupidity belonging to the love of evil, and its punishment, which is torment. To this may be added what is presented in the work on Heaven and Hell (n. 566-575), where it is shown what is meant by "infernal fire" and by "the gnashing of teeth."


Apocalypse Explained 612:7 (Emanuel Swedenborg 1688-1772)


That the Lord's coming is meant by "proclaiming good tidings" and by "good tidings" can be seen also from the following passages. In Luke:

The angel said to Zacharias, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak unto thee, and to proclaim to thee these good things (1:19). In the same: 

The angel said to the shepherds, Be not afraid, behold I proclaim to you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For there is born to you this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (2:10, 11). In the same: 


That John proclaimed to the people the good tidings respecting Jesus (3:16-18); Jesus said, The law and the prophets are proclaimed until John (16:16). And elsewhere: 
That the Lord Himself and His disciples also proclaimed the good tidings of the kingdom of God (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:15; Luke 7:22; 8:1; 9:1, 2, 6). "The kingdom of God" means a new heaven and a new church from the Lord.


Doctrines of the New Church


The following doctrines (Emanuel Swedenborg 1688-1772 excepted)were first written and published in New Church Life by: "William Frederic Pendleton (born March 25, 1845 in Savannah, Georgia - November 5, 1927) the first Executive Bishop of the General Church of the New Jerusalem, in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. Pendleton was the son of Major Philip Coleman Pendleton and Catherine Sarah Melissa Tabeau. He became the first Executive Bishop of the General Church of the New Jerusalem in 1897." Wikipedia


These doctrines are referenced in the Founding Documents pt. 2 of the Universal Orthodox and recorded in Fulton County, Deeds Book 548 Pages 548-555; Atlanta, Georgia U.S.A. in Ignorance of Invoice and Truth of Doctrine pages 9-16 addressed to Executive Bishop Thomas L. Kline by Right Reverend Gregory Karl Davis, August 17th, 2006. Founding Documents pt. 2 continues on the Universal Orthodox: Doctrine of the Rites of Adult Baptism - APPENDUM TO RECORD pages 1 of 3 & Universal Orthodox Church Sacrament of Baptism in rev. Saint Gabriel Day pages 1 of 10.


Doctrine of the Baptism of John.


The use of Baptism are not fully understood until it is known what is involved in the Baptism of John, and in the Baptism of the Lord by John; and when at the same time the distinction between the Baptism of John and Christian Baptism has been brought into view.


Elijah the prophet was to come and prepare the way for the Lord, and the Lord taught the multitudes that John was the Elijah who was to com. (Matthew 11: 14.) John and Elijah both represented the Lord as to the Word, especially the Word of the Old Testament, and in particular the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning the Lord and His coming into the world. And since, in its broad aspect, the entire Old Testament is such a prophecy, all looking to the advent of the Lord, it can be seen why John and Elijah are coupled together, when the representation of the Lord in His coming as the Word is under consideration, - the two prophets representing the same thing.


John, appearing in the wilderness of Judea, proclaimed the advent of the Messiah, (Anointed ed.) and preached the baptism of repentance, calling upon the Jews to repent of their sins. It was necessary that they should repent, because they had made the commandments of God of none effect through their traditions. (Matthew 15: 6.) They had perverted and profaned the Law, as given to Moses on Mount Sinai, and for that reason the communication with heaven by the externals of worship was about to be severed; the breaking of which meant the ruin and destruction of that nation and of all mankind. Hence a reformation must take place. A restoration of their representative worship, even though temporary, must be effected, in order that the Lord God the Savior might descend and be present among them, to do His work for the salvation of men. For the Lord, when He comes, enters only into His own, into that which is from Himself, into that which is of Divine order, with men.


Doctrine of the Wrath to Come.


It is recorded that 'when John saw the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?' (Matthew 3: 7.) It was by the Pharisees and Sadducees that the communication with heaven was about to be severed. This they did not know, but they knew from the Prophets that the coming of the Messiah (Anointed ed.) was to be a time of great wrath. They knew not the nature of this wrath, or its spiritual cause, but a prophet was proclaiming in the wilderness that the great day of wrath was at hand, and He was calling upon the Jews to come and be baptized, repenting of their sins, and in this manner to prepare for the great day of Jehovah. And they believed that, if they heeded the voice of the prophet, the Messiah (Anointed ed.) would come and deliver them from a foreign yoke, and make them the greatest nation in the world, subjecting all people to their dominion. They were to be led by their fears, and at the same time by their ruling love, to prepare for the Messiah (Anointed ed.). And so there 'went out to John, Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, to be baptized of him in the Jordan, confessing their sins." (Matthew 3: 5, 6.) Crowds came to him from the whole land, and so there was a reformation practically of the whole Jewish nation, in preparation for the coming of the Lord.


The repentance to which they were called was not the repentance of the Christian Church, which was to come, but a representative repentance. "Unless this representative had preceded, the Lord could not have manifested Himself. . . Unless a representative of purification from falsities and evils had prepared that nation by baptism, it would have been destroyed. . . The baptism of John could produce this effect, because the Jewish Church was a representative church, and with them all conjunction with heaven was effected by representatives." (A. E. 724.) Thus the baptism of John was not the baptism of a spiritual church, but a representative of it.


(Note: The first three paragraphs from Apocalypse Explained 724 [1] [2] [3] (Emanuel Swedenborg 1688-1772 are referenced here for amplification on Doctrine of the Wrath to Come. Universal Orthodox Editor)


In Revelation, "And she brought forth a male child." xii. 5. - That this signifies the doctrine of truth, which is for the New Church, which is called the New Jerusalem, is plain from the signification of a son, as denoting truth, and of a male (masculus) child, as denoting the genuine truth of the church, consequently its doctrine, for the truth of the church from the Word is its doctrine, since doctrine contains the truths that are for the church. But the genuine doctrine of the church is the doctrine of good, that is the doctrine of life, which is that of love to the Lord and of charity towards the neighbor; still it is doctrine of truth, for doctrine teaches life, love, and charity, and so far as it teaches these it is truth. For when a man knows and understands what good is, what life is, what love is, and what charity is, he then knows and understands those things as truths, since he knows and understands what good is, how he ought to live, what love and charity are, and what kind of man he is who is in the life of love and charity. And as long as these things are matters of knowledge (scientia) and of the understanding, they are merely truths, and thus doctrines; but as soon as they, from being knowledge and understanding, pass over into the will, and thus into act, they are then no longer truths but goods, for interiorly man wills nothing but what he loves, and that which he loves is to him good. From these things it is evident, that every doctrine of the church is a doctrine of truth, and that the truth of doctrine becomes good, and becomes that of love and charity, when from doctrine it passes into life.


[2] This doctrine, signified here by a male child, is especially the doctrine of love to the Lord, and of charity towards the neighbor, thus it is the doctrine of the good of life, but which is yet the doctrine of truth. That the doctrine of the good of love, and thence of life, is here signified by a male child, is evident from this, that the woman, who brought forth the son, was seen encompassed with the sun, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And the sun signifies love to the Lord, and the crown of twelve stars signifies the knowledges of good and truth; and from such a woman and mother, nothing could be born except what pertains to love and good, thus doctrine concerning them. This therefore is the male (masculus) child.


[3] That doctrine is for the New Church, which is called the New Jerusalem, because the woman treated of in this chapter is the one that is called the bride, the Lamb's wife, which was the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God (xxi. 9, 10). This is why she was seen encompassed with the sun, for the sun means the Lord as to Divine Love, as may be seen above (n. 401, 525, 527, 708). The male child also signifies the doctrine of the church, because a son, in the Word, signifies truth, and the doctrine of the church is truth in its whole extent. That a son, in the Word, signifies truth is evident from what has been said before concerning the woman, the womb, and bringing forth, namely, that woman signifies the church, womb the inmost of love and the reception of truth from good, while to bring forth signifies the production and fructification of these. See above concerning woman (n. 707); the womb (n. 710); and bringing forth (n. 721). From this it follows that sons and daughters, since they are births, signify the truths and goods of the church, sons its truths, and daughters its goods; in a word, that all terms relating to marriage and thus to procreation on earth, signify such things as belong to the marriage of good and truth, thus father, mother, sons, daughters, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandsons, and several other terms, signify goods and truths procreating, and goods and truths procreated, and in fact derivative goods and truths in their order. (Paragraphs continue)


Doctrine of Smiting the Earth with a Curse.


"John prepared the way by baptism, and by proclaiming the Lord's coming; without that preparation, all in the world would have been smitten with a curse, and would have perished." (T. C. R. 688.) This is foretold in the closing words of the Old Testament: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord; and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." (Malachi 4: 5, 6.) By the 'fathers' in this passage (and in Luke 1: 16, 17) are meant the angels of the ancient heavens, who, because of the intervening imaginary heavens, had been separated from the children, that is, from the simple good in all the religions of the world. This communication must be restored; the 'fathers' and the 'children' must be reconciled, or a might curse would follow. This reconciliation was represented in the baptism performed by John, on the basis of which the Lord effected a last judgment upon the imaginary heaven, casting the evil of that false heaven into hell, and receiving the simple good into the heaven which had been occupied by the evil. This last judgment was the 'great and dreadful day of the Lord,' the 'day of great wrath,' the 'day of a mighty curse,' unless the 'fathers and the sons' could be reconciled. But the wrath predicted was not the wrath of an angry God, nor was the curse the curse of God, but a wrath and a curse that had its origin in hell. For it was to effect the rescuer of men from the impending wrath and curse of hell that the God of infinite love and mercy came into the world. Hence the first effect of the baptism of John was the closing of the hells, that the way might be prepared for the descent of Jehovah God into the world, in order that the good might be saved, and the race of men preserved from destruction. A God of infinite love could do no other.


Doctrine of the Baptism of the Lord.


The baptism of the Lord was similar in the outward form, and it its general effect, to the baptism of others by John. But with the Lord Himself, in Himself, the effect had no finite limitation, as with men. These effects were infinitely more far-reaching and universal, extending through all time and into eternity itself. Let us remember that Baptism is introduction and insertion, as has been explained. With the Lord it was introduction on earth into the Jewish Church, now reformed and brought into it former order externally and temporarily by the baptism of John; and it was thus prepared to received Him; and the Lord Himself was made ready actively to begin His word of salvation, for which all His previous life with men had been a commencement and a preparation.


By the baptism of John, the Lord also inserted Himself among those in the spiritual world who were looking for the Messiah (Anointed ed.) In all the ancient religions, there was some kind of expectation of a Messiah, (Anointed ed.) who was to come into the world to be the Savior of men. (See what is said of the Wise Men from the East. A. C. 3249, 3762, 9293.) All these, - the simple good of all nations, - continued this looking after death, and were gathered together in the spiritual world. The Lord must place Himself among them, from which a new church could descend, - 'the future church of the Lord.' He at the same time closed hells, that the good might by led safely into heaven, which He entered more interiorly, making His presence felt by the angels more than ever before. And, infinitely more than all, He was introduced into a more complete union with the Father, which being finished by the word of glorification and the bringing of the hells into order, He would be placed in a position to preserve this order, and regenerate men to eternity, and thus ever to fulfill the justice of God.


Doctrine of the Baptism of John and Christian Baptism.


In what manner does the baptism of John differ from the Christian Baptism that followed? The fact that the Apostles re-baptized those who were converted to Christianity, and who had been baptized by John, indicates clearly that they saw a distinction. Concerning this we learn from the Book of Acts (19: 1-6) that the action of the Apostles was based upon the teaching of the Lord that what is meant by the Holy Spirit was not in existence when John baptized. (See John 7: 39 and T. C. R. 158.) Hence there was a distinction in the representation of the two baptisms. 'The baptism of John represented the cleansing of the external man, but the baptism which is at this day among Christians represents the cleansing of the internal man, which is regeneration.' (T. C. R. 690.) For, as has been shown, John's baptism had in view a reformation of the Jewish Church, and a restoration of its representative character, having as its basis a representative repentance. But the purpose in Christian Baptism was a true spiritual reformation, a spiritual restoration of the internal order of the Ancient Church; for the internal of the Ancient Church was similar to that of the Christian Church (A. C. 1083, 1141), but not to that of the Jewish Church. And so the Baptism of the Christian Church was representative of a true spiritual repentance from sin. This distinction was also indicated in what was said by John to the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to him. 'I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but He that cometh after me (is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear He, ed.) shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire' (Matthew 3: 11); and in what John said to the Lord, 'I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?' (Matthew 3: 14.) Also in what Jesus said to Nicodemus, 'Except a man be born of water, and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.' (John 3: 5.) By the 'kingdom of God' is meant the Christian Church, which the Lord was now about to establish, and which was to received a baptism of the spirit.


Doctrine of the Teaching Concerning the Baptism of John.


'By the baptism of John a way was prepared that Jehovah God might descend into the world and perform redemption.' (T. C. R. 688.) 'That John will be sent before the Lord, lest that nation should then perish.' (P. P. Malachi 4: 3, 4.) 'Without this sign in heaven before the angels, the Jews could not have subsisted and lived at the coming of Jehovah, that is, of the Lord, in the flesh.' (A. R. 776.) 'John was the prophet sent to prepare a way for Jehovah, that He might come down into the world and accomplish the work of redemption; and he prepared the way by baptism, and at the same time by proclaiming the Lord's coming; and without such a preparation, all therein would have been smitten with a curse, and would have perished.' (T. C. R. 688.) 'A way was prepared by the baptism of John, because by it they were introduced into the future church of the Lord, and were inserted in heaven among those who waited for and desired the Messiah (Anointed ed.); and thus they were guarded by angels, that the devils might not break forth from hell and destroy them.' (T. C. R. 689.) The future church of the Lord was a yet in the new heaven, which was then being formed by the Lord; it afterwards descended on earth through the work of the Apostles. It is similar now. 'All would have perished, . . . unless a way had been prepared for Jehovah by means of baptism, which caused a closing of the hells, and a guarding of the Jews from total destruction.' (T. C. R. 689.) Hence it appears 'with a curse and destruction the Jews would have been smitten, unless they had been prepared by the baptism of John to receive the Messiah (Anointed, ed.) . . . and they were prepared by this, that they were enrolled and numbered in heaven among those who in heart expected and desired the Messiah (Anointed, ed.); hence angels were sent to guard them.' (T. C. R. 691.) 'Unless a representative of purification from falsities and evils by baptism had prepared that nation for the reception of the Lord, it would have perished by diseases of every kind at the presence of the Divine. This is what is meant by the words, 'Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.' (A. E. 724 (7). The remnant escaped spiritual death, and all were rescued from natural death 'by diseases of every kind.' In this we have an intimation of what the world escapes now by the new Christian Baptism. 'The Baptism of the Lord Himself signifies the glorification of His Human. . . Therefore, when He permitted John to baptize Him, He said, 'Thus it becometh us to fulfill all the justice of God' (Matthew 3: 15), . . . which signified to subjugate the hells, and to bring the hells and the heavens into order, and to glorify His Human.' (A. C. 10239; T. C. R. 144.) Thus it will be seen that the Lord, when in the world, did all things according to His own order, which is meant by 'fulfilling the justice of God.'


True Christian Religion 684.(Emanuel Swedenborg 1688-1772)


The third purpose of baptism, which is its end in view, is a person's regeneration. This is the real purpose behind baptism, and so the end with a view to which it was instituted. The reason is that one who is truly a Christian gets to know and acknowledge the Lord the Redeemer, Jesus Christ; and since He is the Redeemer, He is also the Regenerator. Redemption and regeneration are one; see section III [579-582] in the chapter on reformation and regeneration. Another reason is that a Christian possesses the Word, in which is available a description of the means of regeneration, and these are faith in the Lord and charity towards the neighbour. This is the same as when it is said of the Lord that He will baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8-11; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). The Holy Spirit means the Divine truth of faith, fire the Divine good of love or charity, both of these proceeding from the Lord. For the Holy Spirit meaning the Divine truth of faith, see in the chapter on the Holy Spirit; for fire meaning the Divine good of love, see APOCALYPSE REVEALED 395, 468. These two are the means by which all regeneration is accomplished by the Lord.


The reason why the Lord Himself was baptised by John (Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9; Luke 3:21, 22) was not only to introduce the practice of baptism for the future and to lead the way by His example, but also because He glorified His Human and made this Divine, just as He regenerates a person and makes him spiritual.


685. These and the foregoing remarks enable us to see that the three purposes of baptism combine into one, just as do the first cause, the intermediate or efficient cause, and the last cause or the effect, which is the real end in view for the sake of which the others exist. The first purpose is for a person to be named a Christian; the second is what follows from this, so that he may get to know and acknowledge the Lord, the Redeemer, Regenerator and Saviour; the third is so that he may be regenerated by the Lord, and when this happens, he is redeemed and saved. Since these three purposes follow one succeeding the other and combine in the last, so that angels think of them together as one, then when baptism is performed, read about in the Word or mentioned, the angels present understand not baptism, but regeneration. So these words of the Lord:

He who believes and is baptised will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:16; are understood by the angels in heaven as meaning that the person who acknowledges the Lord and is regenerated is saved.


[2] This too is the reason why baptism is called by the Christian churches on earth the washing of regeneration. The Christian ought therefore to know that one who does not believe in the Lord cannot be regenerated, despite being baptised. Baptism without faith in the Lord is of no avail; see above in this chapter, 673. Every Christian ought to be fully aware that baptism involves purification from evils and so regeneration, for when he is baptised as an infant, the priest makes the sign of the cross with his finger on his forehead and chest as a token of the Lord, and then turning to the godparents asks whether he renounces the devil and all his works, and whether he accepts the faith. To which the godparents answer in place of the child: 'Yes, indeed.' The renouncing of the devil, that is, of the evils which come from hell, and faith in the Lord, bring about regeneration.


686. It is said in the Word that the Lord God our Redeemer baptises with the Holy Spirit and with fire; this means that the Lord regenerates a person by means of the Divine truth of faith and by means of the Divine good of love or of charity, on which see above, 684. Those who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, that is, by the Divine truth of faith can in the heavens be told apart from those who have been regenerated by fire, that is, by the Divine good of love. Those who have been regenerated by the Divine truth of faith go around in heaven dressed in clothing of white linen, and are called spiritual angels. Those who have been regenerated by the Divine good of love go around in purple clothing, and are called celestial angels. It is those who go dressed in white clothing who are meant in these passages:


They follow the Lamb dressed in white and clean fine linen. Rev. 19:14.

They will walk with me in white. Rev. 3:4; also 7:14.


The angels in the Lord's tomb were seen in white, shining garments (Matt. 28:3; Luke 24:4). They were of the spiritual type, for fine linen means the righteous acts of the saints (Rev. 19:8, where this is explicitly stated). For clothes in the Word meaning truths, and white clothes and fine linen meaning Divine truths, see APOCALYPSE REVEALED (397), where this was shown.


The reason why those who have also been regenerated by means of the Divine good of love wear purple clothing is that purple is the colour of love, a colour derived from the fire and redness of the sun; fire means love (see AR 468, 725). It is because clothes mean truths that the man among the invited guests who was not wearing a wedding garment was thrown out and cast into outer darkness (Matt. 22:11-13).


687. Moreover, baptism as representing regeneration is evidenced by many things in heaven and in the world. In heaven, as just said, by white and purple clothing, and besides by the wedding of the church with the Lord; also by the new heaven and the new earth, and the New Jerusalem coming down from there, of which He who sits upon the throne said:


Behold, I shall make all things new. Rev. 21:1-5. It is also meant by the river of water of life* which issues from the throne of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:1, 2); and also by the five wise virgins who had lamps and oil, and went in with the bridegroom to the wedding (Matt. 25:1, 2, 10). One who is baptised, that is, regenerated, is meant by every creature (Mark 16:15; Rom. 8:19-21) and by a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15); for creature is derived from being created, which also means being regenerated (see APOCALYPSE REVEALED 254).


[2] In the world there are various representations of regeneration, such as the way all the earth's products flower in springtime, and then stage by stage develop until they bear fruit; and likewise by the way any tree, shrub or flower grows from the first month of warm weather until the last. Another representation is the stages by which all fruits gradually ripen from the first rudiments to the full development. Then again it is represented by early morning and late evening showers, and by dew, which when it falls makes flowers open, and the shades of night make them close again; or again by the fragrant smells from gardens and fields. Another representation is by the rainbow in the cloud (Gen. 9:14-17), as well as by the glorious colours of sunrise. In general it is represented by the way everything in the body is continually renewed by means of the chyle and animal spirit, and so by the blood, which perpetually undergoes purification from exhausted matter, and is so renewed and, so to speak, regenerated.


[3] If we turn our attention to the humblest creatures on earth, there is a wonderful picture of regeneration presented by the way silk-worms and many caterpillars are transformed into nymphs and butterflies, and other insects which as time goes on are adorned with wings. To these examples even more trivial ones can be added, such as the fondness of certain birds for plunging in water in order to wash and cleanse themselves, after which they revert to their role as song-birds. In short, the whole world from first to last is full of representations and models of regeneration.


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