Was the Temple of Onias modeled after the Temple of Gerizim?

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Joseph D. L.
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Was the Temple of Onias modeled after the Temple of Gerizim?

Post by Joseph D. L. » Sun Apr 22, 2018 1:29 am

This is what Josephus relates regarding the Jewish temple in Egypt:

So Ptolemy complied with his proposals, and gave him a place one hundred and eighty furlongs distant from Memphis. That Nomos was called the Nomos of Hellopolls, where Onias built a fortress and a temple, not like to that at Jerusalem, but such as resembled a tower. He built it of large stones to the height of sixty cubits; he made the structure of the altar in imitation of that in our own country, and in like manner adorned with gifts, excepting the make of the candlestick, for he did not make a candlestick, but had a [single] lamp hammered out of a piece of gold, which illuminated the place with its rays, and which he hung by a chain of gold; but the entire temple was encompassed with a wall of burnt brick, though it had gates of stone. The king also gave him a large country for a revenue in money, that both the priests might have a plentiful provision made for them, and that God might have great abundance of what things were necessary for his worship. Yet did not Onias do this out of a sober disposition, but he had a mind to contend with the Jews at Jerusalem, and could not forget the indignation he had for being banished thence. Accordingly, he thought that by building this temple he should draw away a great number from them to himself. There had been also a certain ancient prediction made by [a prophet] whose name was Isaiah, about six hundred years before, that this temple should be built by a man that was a Jew in Egypt.

Josephus, Wars, Book VII, Ch. 10.3

Josephus hear mentions that:

1) Onias constructed his temple so it did not resemble the Temple in Jerusalem, and
2) that this was a deliberate attempt to get revenge for being exiled.

Could Onias, then, have converted to Samaritanism? Compare what Josephus says about the temple to this image of the temple of Gerizim below. Notice the exceptionally high tower soaring beyond its walls.

Also note the passage in Isaiah, ch. 19:

In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border. It will be a sign and a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt. When they cry to the Lord because of oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and deliver them. And the Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the Lord and perform them. And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the Lord, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them.

Despite evidence that Jews had already a temple in Egypt dating to the fifth century, bc (the Elephantine papyri), rabbinical literature states that Onias and his temple, was solely and directly influenced by this passage in Isaiah.

This then opens a question for me...

Was portions of Isaiah Samaritan focused, written in the second century, bc?
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DCHindley
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Re: Was the Temple of Onias modeled after the Temple of Gerizim?

Post by DCHindley » Sun Apr 22, 2018 6:59 am

Joseph D. L. wrote:
Sun Apr 22, 2018 1:29 am
This is what Josephus relates regarding the Jewish temple in Egypt:

So Ptolemy complied with his proposals, and gave him a place one hundred and eighty furlongs distant from Memphis. That Nomos was called the Nomos of Heliopolls, where Onias built a fortress and a temple, not like to that at Jerusalem, but such as resembled a tower. ...

Josephus, Wars, Book VII, Ch. 10.3

... Compare what Josephus says about the temple to this image of the temple of Gerizim below. Notice the exceptionally high tower soaring beyond its walls.

Image
I'm afraid what you interpret as a tower is actually an ancient representation that does not involve any attempt at perspective, as perspective was not accurately represented in art until the Renaissance.

https://foundinantiquity.com/2013/08/09 ... e-artists/

The scene depicts a panoramic view of the Samaritan temple from a distance, probably from another hilltop adjacent to it as it gives the illusion of looking down upon it, sitting on the top of a large hill (note the circular objects on that hill, which to me clearly represent trees), with a stairway leading up the hillside (which you interpreted as a "tower") and a plaza at the bottom.

The building at the top of the hill, the Samaritan temple, appears to be a two story structure with a timber roof.

I am not exactly sure what the square blobs inside the staircase indicate, except perhaps decorative foliage at intervals.

The plaza at the bottom would be stalls or areas for registering animals and offerings, and/or areas/rooms for keeping stocks of incense, wood and such, and perhaps even money-changing booth(s) and ritual baths for the benefit of visiting worshippers.

What Josephus describes at Onias' temple at Heliopolis is a 90 ft high stone tower (60 x approx. 1.5 English feet per cubit), and this might actually refer to the fortress he built in tandem with his temple, unless the temple was supposed to have sat on top of the tower. There was also a wall that surrounded the temple & tower made of fired bricks with stone gates. There is nothing of the kind represented in the coin depicting the view of the Samaritan temple. I do not think anyone ancient or modern has suggested that the Samaritan temple was fortified. Modern archeologists are not even sure where it once stood, as there is little if any footprint of a massive structure.

DCH :goodmorning:

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Re: Was the Temple of Onias modeled after the Temple of Gerizim?

Post by Secret Alias » Sun Apr 22, 2018 8:46 am

Samaritan orthodoxy says there never was a Samaritan temple, because their ancestors would not have been misguided enough to build such a thing. According to this view, the accounts of the destruction of the Samaritan temple are actually accounts of the destuction of the boundary fences and protective awnings and rooves. As far as I know, archaeology supports the orthodox view. There are scholars that say there was once a temple building, citing some conflicting archaeological evidence and depictions on coins. While admitting I haven’t had the time to read the material properly, it does seem to me that what might well have looked like the front of a typical Temple building, with steps leading up to a porch behind pillars and elaborate bronze doors, could still have been regarded as a convenience to keep the congregation dry. It was in fact a fane. Stephen was murdered for saying all this.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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Re: Was the Temple of Onias modeled after the Temple of Gerizim?

Post by Secret Alias » Sun Apr 22, 2018 8:47 am

There is good reason to believe that the surviving Samaritan orthodoxy may have adopted (or preserved) Dosithean positions (owing to an ecumenical 'coming together of rival factions of 'normative' and 'Dosithean' congregationalist in the Islamic period when the Samaritan community as such was basically on life support) positions which included the rejection of building permanent 'temple' structures.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Re: Was the Temple of Onias modeled after the Temple of Gerizim?

Post by Secret Alias » Sun Apr 22, 2018 9:11 am

In case people want to know what the Samaritan orthodox position is. The orthodox Samaritan position is that it is offensive to put up a stone building and call it by the Pentateuchal terms the Mishkan (Tabernacle) or the Mikdash (Holy Place). The offence of the Jerusalem Temple was compounded, in this view, by actually CALLING it Bet ha-Mikdash, the Sanctuary Building, a contradiction in terms. It is acceptable and in fact appropriate to put a stone wall round the sacred ground. At this point the Dositheans would have said the ground is only potentially Sacred without the Tabernacle, but would probably not have objected to it being marked off. It is acceptable and in fact necessary for practicality to put some kind of roof or awning over the Tabernacle. In short, any stone structure and any roof or awning is only to mark off the sacred courts and protect the Tabernacle from the weather. Samaritan orthodoxy says there never was a Samaritan temple, because their ancestors would not have been misguided enough to build such a thing. According to this view, the accounts of the destruction of the Samaritan temple are actually accounts of the destuction of the boundary fences and protective awnings and rooves.

Now you will see why Coptic churches have stars painted on the ceiling, or why some Anglican churches have stars painted on the ceiling over what is actually called the Tabernacle, except that this is a box. Normally over the High Altar in an Anglican church there is a wooden replica of an awning held up by posts. Without going into detail here, the designs of such churches resemble the variety of Samaritan synagogue that was modelled on the Tabernacle and its courts.

With respect to Jubilees, there are only three physical forms marking a sacred place known to the author. The first two are an altar or a stele. These don’t mark a unique place. What marks the unique place, the Deuteronomic Place Chosen by God, is its boundary fence. This is of course the attested Samaritan view.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Joseph D. L.
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Re: Was the Temple of Onias modeled after the Temple of Gerizim?

Post by Joseph D. L. » Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:50 pm

DCHindley wrote:
Sun Apr 22, 2018 6:59 am
Joseph D. L. wrote:
Sun Apr 22, 2018 1:29 am
This is what Josephus relates regarding the Jewish temple in Egypt:

So Ptolemy complied with his proposals, and gave him a place one hundred and eighty furlongs distant from Memphis. That Nomos was called the Nomos of Heliopolls, where Onias built a fortress and a temple, not like to that at Jerusalem, but such as resembled a tower. ...

Josephus, Wars, Book VII, Ch. 10.3

... Compare what Josephus says about the temple to this image of the temple of Gerizim below. Notice the exceptionally high tower soaring beyond its walls.

Image
I'm afraid what you interpret as a tower is actually an ancient representation that does not involve any attempt at perspective, as perspective was not accurately represented in art until the Renaissance.

https://foundinantiquity.com/2013/08/09 ... e-artists/

The scene depicts a panoramic view of the Samaritan temple from a distance, probably from another hilltop adjacent to it as it gives the illusion of looking down upon it, sitting on the top of a large hill (note the circular objects on that hill, which to me clearly represent trees), with a stairway leading up the hillside (which you interpreted as a "tower") and a plaza at the bottom.

The building at the top of the hill, the Samaritan temple, appears to be a two story structure with a timber roof.

I am not exactly sure what the square blobs inside the staircase indicate, except perhaps decorative foliage at intervals.

The plaza at the bottom would be stalls or areas for registering animals and offerings, and/or areas/rooms for keeping stocks of incense, wood and such, and perhaps even money-changing booth(s) and ritual baths for the benefit of visiting worshippers.

What Josephus describes at Onias' temple at Heliopolis is a 90 ft high stone tower (60 x approx. 1.5 English feet per cubit), and this might actually refer to the fortress he built in tandem with his temple, unless the temple was supposed to have sat on top of the tower. There was also a wall that surrounded the temple & tower made of fired bricks with stone gates. There is nothing of the kind represented in the coin depicting the view of the Samaritan temple. I do not think anyone ancient or modern has suggested that the Samaritan temple was fortified. Modern archeologists are not even sure where it once stood, as there is little if any footprint of a massive structure.

DCH :goodmorning:
Win some, lose some, I guess.

Joseph D. L.
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Re: Was the Temple of Onias modeled after the Temple of Gerizim?

Post by Joseph D. L. » Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:56 pm

Although, I do wonder about the temple being a tower had something to do with this:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent [tabernacle] for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

emphasis added

Joseph D. L.
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Re: Was the Temple of Onias modeled after the Temple of Gerizim?

Post by Joseph D. L. » Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:14 am

continued

This holy tower/pillar may also be related to the Samaritan notion that Eden was located on Mt. Gerizim, and after the fall was lofted up in Heaven. The tower/pillar/ladder that reaches high into the heavens so as to bridge earth and Eden once more could--could--be implied. The crucifixion scene on Mt. Golgotha represents the same idea: the raised land/holy place; the cross/tower.

And this concept extends into other religions as well.

The Vedas have Purusha being sacrificed on the yupa, a sacrificial alter connected to the stambah, the pillar that supports the earth and heavens.

In Egypt, the dd was a sacred pillar associated with Osiris and Ptah. In the Pyramid texts Osiris becomes lodged in a giant sycamore tree, and the dd-pillar is cut from it. In the Memphis cult, Ptah-Tatenen are merged by the dd-pillar. Numerous depictions show the dd behind the backs of Osiris and Ptah, not unlike how the cross was behind the back of Jesus.

What's more, the dd was itself linked to raised lands. Aybdos, the center of the Osiris cult, was the burial mound of Osiris's head, and it was here that the dd-pillar was annually raised. (So we have a head/skull, a sacred mound, and a cross... ). Tatenen simply means the raised land, and Memphis also had their dd celebrations.

The Pyramid texts, conspicuously enough, calls the dd-pillar the tower of the mummified.

All of this is to say that the tower/pillar connecting earth and heaven was common place to some cultures, and may have went into Onias constructing his temple in such a manner.

So, with the above quoted Psalm, the tower was made to reach the sun (in Heliopolis, no less), the location of the tabernacle, and thus Eden.

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Re: Was the Temple of Onias modeled after the Temple of Gerizim?

Post by Ethan » Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:36 am

It's a Mizpeh (Watchtower) , they are very common and they appear throughout the Bible.

Habakkuk 2:1
I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.

Herodotus 2:30
In the reign of Psammetichus, there were watchposts at Elephantine facing Ethiopia, at Daphnae of Pelusium facing Arabia and Assyria, and at Marea facing Libya.

Isa 62:6
I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence

Sng 3:3
The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth

Isa 21:5
Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.
https://vivliothikiagiasmatos.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/joseph-yahuda-hebrew-is-greek.pdf

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