Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ptolemy and the Battle for Ancient Alexandria

Ptolemy sharpened his knife with a small stone as he carefully studied the dark waters for any sign of movement. The dense cloud-cover created an almost pitch-black night. By his feet laid a sword and bronze helmet, heavily dented and scratched from years of hand-to-hand combat in the wars of Alexander the Great. He thought to himself, if he were to bring twenty thousand men across that river for a surprise attack, tonight would be the night. Only Ptolemy's tall silhouette was visible when men finally approached and knelt down.
"General. We have a sighting."
That moment occurred two thousand, three hundred years ago in the Pelusium region of Egypt, when one man named Ptolemy was all that stood between Perdiccas, a power-hungry heir to Alexander the Great's empire, and civilization's most significant and influential achievement in science and technology, the Great Library of Alexandria. Ptolemy's astounding leadership and commitment to his vision was a gift to all man-kind, for all ages to come.
Not many people know that much of our advanced technology stands on pillars of math and science developed thousands of years ago during this magical time known as the Ptolemaic dynasty in ancient Egypt. And even less known, was the shocking violence that almost ended Ptolemy's dream of the cosmopolitan city named Alexandria before it ever had a chance. Dedicated to the peaceful pursuit of math, science and the arts, Alexandria left a legacy of unimaginable technology.
How ironic that the fate of such an advanced institute of peace, so far ahead of its time, would be determined by such barbarism and brutality, but that's how it was so long ago, and that was the burden this one man carried. Ptolemy, born in Macedonia, was the boy-hood friend of Alexander the Great, and eventually one of the top Generals in Alexander's legion. But when Alexander died and negotiations over who would inherit his vast empire failed, Ptolemy immediately took those soldiers most loyal to him and claimed Egypt as his own.
Perdiccas, another x-General from Alexander's legion, loathed Ptolemy after on-going disputes over territory and ruling power. But when Ptolemy literally stole Alexander's body from the control of Perdiccas, that was the final insult. After building an immense legion with massive war elephants, an insanely angry Perdiccas marched his deadly war machine towards Egypt to put an end to Ptolemy and his plans for the new city.
Facing such a horrific Armageddon of death, most anyone else would simply flee, but despite the minimal size of his defensive force, Ptolemy decided to fight for the future of Alexandria. Along the banks of the Nile River, the brilliant leadership of Ptolemy was put to the ultimate test in the shocking events that followed.
History may not remember with clarity all details of the battle for Alexandria, but we should never forget that long ago, thousands of men sacrificed their lives in the name of peace and science. And even today, our world is better because of it.
The magnificent and inspirational story of Ptolemy and the battle for ancient Alexandria is now told in my new novel, "Alexandria, the Stones of Macedonia", available at http://www.mpsoldo.com. When purchased through that site, I will personally sign all copies sold, making them an extra special gift or addition to your personal collection.
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Heroes & Villains in the Quest for Spirituality: 100 Significant Characters of the Hebrew Bible

There are hundreds of named men and women in the Old Testament. Merely to list all of their names would fill many pages and be of little profit. If you want to investigate every one of them, I recommend Herbert Lockyer's books, All the Women of the Bible and All the Men of the Bible, or any good Bible dictionary, such as Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary.
Here are the 100 most significant Old Testament people, based not on what I think or who I like, but on how many chapters are devoted to their lives. You will meet peasants and princes, queens and harlots, shepherds and soldiers.
I have identified each with a short description and a Bible reference. This doesn't mean the reference cited is the only place this person is mentioned. Keep in mind that these are in alphabetical order, not in either chronological order or in the order in which they appear in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Aaron - Brother of Moses and Israel's first high priest.
Abner - The general of King Saul's army, treacherously killed by David's general, Joab.
Adebnego - One of Daniel's three friends who were thrown into the fiery furnace for refusing to worship the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar. "Abednego" is the Babylonian name assigned to him by his captors. His Hebrew name is Azariah.
Abimelech - One of the "Judges" of Israel who for a short time ruled as a king.
Abraham - The man whose life of faith and covenant with God established the nation of Israel, his descendants, as the people of God.
Absalom - The son of King David whose bitterness at how his father treated him led him to usurp his father's throne. David's general Joab killed Absalom to end the rebellion.
Adam - The first human being, created out of the dust of the ground. His wife's name was Eve.
Adonijah - A son of David and half-brother of Solomon who tried to steal the throne during David's declining years.
Ahab - Powerful king of Israel (though in fact he only ruled over the northern 10 tribes). As a result of marrying Jezebel, Ahab introduced his kingdom to Baal worship.
Ahasuerus - King of the Persian empire and husband to the Jewess Esther.
Amos - Farmer-shepherd whom God call to denounce the northern nation of Israel.
Athaliah - Wicked daughter of Ahab and Jezebel who ruled over Israel until she was executed to make way for the boy-king Joash.
Baalam - Non-Israelite prophet who prophesied blessing for Israel rather than the curses he was being paid to declare. Balaam is also known for beating his donkey, who then spoke to him by God's power.
Bathsheba - Wife of Uriah with whom David committed adultery before murdering her husband. Bathsheba's second child, and the only to survive more than a few days, was Solomon.
Belshazzar - The last ruler of the Babylon before it was conquered by the Medes and Persians. Daniel prophesied his destruction--a prediction fulfilled that very night.
Bildad - One of the three friends who visited Job and ended up discouraging him rather than comforting him.
Boaz - A godly man in an ungodly age, Boaz married Ruth of Moab and was great grandfather of King David.
Caleb - A tribal leader who, along with Joshua, counseled Israel to courageously conquer the land they and the 10 unbelieving leaders had spied out.
Cyrus - As the first great leader of the Medo-Persian empire, Cyrus abruptly changed the policy of the Babylonians, allowing exiled peoples to return to their ancestral homelands. In doing this, Cyrus was unwittingly fulfilling Isaiah's much earlier prophecy that he was actually carrying out God's will.
Daniel - One of the Israelites taken into Babylonian exile who, because of his faithfulness to God and to the king, rose to great power and influence in both the Babylonian and Medo-Persian empires.
David - Second king of Israel and famous as "the man after God's own heart," as a singer of psalms, and the slayer of the giant, Goliath. David's reign and that of his son Solomon, was the time of greatest power and prosperity for the nation in ancient times.
Darius - The first ruler of Babylon in the Medo-Persian empire, Darius the Mede appointed Daniel to be his advisor. Darius was manipulated into throwing Daniel to the lions, but was greatly relieved when God's prophet emerged unharmed.
Deborah - As the only woman who served as a "Judge" of Israel, Deborah led the Israelites to a military victory over Sisera of Damascus.
Delilah - This Philistine woman deceived Samson into revealing the secret of his great strength so that she could deliver him to his enemies.
Eli - The high priest who took in Samuel when his mother Hannah dedicated him to the Lord. God punished Eli for not restraining the wickedness of his sons.
Elihu - A young man who became angry as he listened to the discourse between Job and his three friends. In contrast to the friends, Elihu believed that God imposed suffering on Job, not to punish him for sins but to prevent him from sinning.
Elijah - One of the greatest of the prophets, Elijah stood for God virtually alone during the time King Ahab and his wife Jezebel were persecuting true believers and promoting the worship of Baal.
Eliphaz - One of the three friends of Job, all of whom were convinced that God was punishing Job for his wickedness.
Elisha - The successor of Elijah as God's prophet. Elisha sought and apparently received a double dose of Elijah's miraculous power.
Esau - The elder brother of Jacob, who sold the birthright of firstborn to his brother and later also lost his father's blessing to his brother. Although at the time of this second incident Esau vowed to kill Jacob, he later on was reconciled to him declaring how much God had blessed him.
Esther - A beautiful Jewess whom the Persian king Ahasuerus married and made his queen. Esther later on saved the Jews from certain destruction by exposing the plots of Haman against her uncle, Mordecai.
Ezekiel - Prophet among the Hebrew exiles in Babylonia who saw visions of why God would destroy Jerusalem and how He would restore it.
Ezra - A righteous priest and one of the exiles who returned under the sponsorship of the Persian government. Ezra helped Nehemiah to turn the hearts of the people back to the Lord.
Eve - The first woman, created from the side of the first man, Adam.
Gideon - One of the "Judges" of Israel, convinced to lead the army against the Midianites by two miracles involving a fleece and dew. At God's prompting, Gideon reduced his large army down to 300 men, and still won the victory.
Gomer - Wife of the prophet Hosea, whom he married despite her prostitution. Gomer's unfaithfulness to Hosea was symbolic of Israel's unfaithfulness to God.
Habakkuk - A prophet who struggled to understand how God could punish the wicked of his nation by the Babylonians, who were even more wicked. God's reply, to which Habakkuk complied, was simply to trust him.
Hagar - The slave of Sarah, the wife of Abraham. When Sarah remained childless after many years of trying to conceive, she gave Hagar to her husband--a practice common to the culture of that time. Hagar conceived and bore Abraham his first son, Ishmael.
Haggai - Worked closely with his fellow-prophet Zechariah to inspire the people returned to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile to finish rebuilding the temple of the Lord.
Haman - An advisor to King Ahasuerus whose arrogance and pride led him to plot against Mordecai, the righteous uncle of Esther. When Esther uncovered Haman's plot, the king ordered that he be hung on the gallows he had built to hang Modecai.
Hannah - Mother of Samuel who dedicated him to the Lord as soon as he was weaned.
Hezekiah - Righteous king of Judah who sought and received God's deliverance from the Assyrian army, reformed the worship of God, and brought about a second golden age similar to that of David and Solomon. Hezekiah benefitted greatly from having the prophet Isaiah for an advisor.
Hiram - King of Tyre who entered into a treaty and a close personal friendship with King Solomon. Hiram supplied the cedars for the building of the temple and Solomon's palace.
Hosea - Prophet of God who obeyed God's command to marry the prostitute Gomer, as a living parable of God's relationship to wayward Israel.
Isaac - Second son of Abraham but regarded as the firstborn, since he alone was son of Abraham's wife Sarah. Isaac also entered into covenant with the Lord and prospered under His blessing.
Isaiah - Prophet of God who advised King Hezekiah and, along with Micah, inspired the nation of Judah to return to the Lord.
Ishmael - First son of Abraham, by Hagar, the slave-woman of Abraham's wife Sarah.
Jacob - Also known as "Israel" (Prince of God), Jacob was son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham, husband of Leah and Rachel, and father of twelve sons, who became tribal leaders of what would be known as "The Sons of Israel." Jacob also had a daughter named Dinah.
Jehu - The successor of Ahab as king of the northern nation of Israel. Appointed by the prophet Elijah, Jehu had Ahab's wife, Jezebel killed, as well as all of Ahab's sons.
Jephtha - A judge of Israel who delivered the nation from the oppression of the Ammonites (Judges 10 - 11). Jephthah foolishly vowed that if the Lord gave him the victory, he would sacrifice whatever came out to greet him upon his return home. Little did he know that it would be his only daughter (Judges 11:30-40).
Jeremiah - Called by God when very young and serving as a prophet for many years, denouncing Judah for its sin and predicting its fall to the Babylonians and a 70-year exile. Jeremiah lived to see his prediction fulfilled when Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem in 586 B.C.
Jeshua - High priest for the Israelites allowed by Cyrus to return to Jerusalem. Along with Zerubbabel, Jeshua led the people to complete the reconstruction of the Lord's temple, in response to the prophetic ministry of Zechariah.
Jezebel - Princess of Sidon who married Ahab and led the northern nation of Israel into the practice of Baal worship. Jezebel tried to kill off all of the faithful prophets of the Lord, including Elijah. Among her other sins, Jezebel ordered the murder of Naboth in order to sieze his vineyard. She was killed at the order of Jehu.
Joab - The nephew of David who served as the general of David's army once David became king. Joab was a treacherous and violent man who nevertheless was fiercely loyal to David.
Joash - A righteous king of Judah contemporary with Jehu, king of Israel. Joash became king when he was only six years old, having survived the wrath of Queen Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. Among his other righteous deeds, Joash repaired the temple of the Lord. He was assassinated at age 22.
Job - (pronounced "jobe"). A righteous man whose severe trials and enduring faith are the subject of the book that bears his name. The book is a series of dialogues between Job and his friends regarding the cause of his suffering.
Joel - A prophet the Lord sent to the northern nation of Israel, calling them to repentance on the occasion of a locust plague that happened during a drought. Joel describes the spiritual renewal that awaits those who heed his call.
Jonah - A prophet the Lord sent to warn Nineveh that the city was about to suffer destruction. Jonah tried to run from God but eventually delivered the message, prompting the city to respond in fear and repentance. Jonah was angry that the Lord spared the penitent Ninevites and received a rebuke from the Lord in the form of an object lesson.
Jonathan - As son of Saul, Jonathan was prince of Israel and should have been next in line for the throne. But the Lord had chosen David as Saul's successor, and Jonathan, who was David's best friend, was willing for David to assume the throne in his place. Jonathan lost his life in a battle against the Philistines on Mount Gilboa.
Joseph - As the favorite son of his father Jacob, Joseph provoked the jealousy of his 10 older brothers, who sold him into slavery. God blessed Joseph, however, so that he eventually rose to become the ruler of Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh. From this position of authority, Joseph was able to save his entire family from a famine after he had demonstrated to his brothers that he had forgiven them.
Joshua - The assistant of Moses who after the Lawgiver's death, became his successor and led the Israelites in their conquest of the land of Canaan. The book of Joshua relates the history of his life.
Josiah - A righteous king of Judah who led important religious reforms. Unfortunately, Josiah lost his life in a battle near Megiddo against Pharaoh Neco.
Judah - One of the sons of Jacob whose descendants became one of the most populous tribes of Israel. Judah's was the tribe of both David and Jesus.
Laban - Brother of Rebekah and father of Leah and Rachel, Laban
Leah - Wife of Jacob, sister of Rachel, and daughter of Laban, Rachel was the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, during whose childbirth she died. Rachel was her husband's favorite wife.
Lot - Nephew of Abraham whom Abraham had to rescue from being a prisoner of war. After barely escaping from the destruction of Sodom, Lot fathered a son by each of his two daughters after they got him drunk on two successive nights. The descendants of the two boys became the nations known as the Moabites and the Ammonites.
Malachi - Prophesied during the period after the return from Babylonian exile. Malachi predicted the coming of both John the Baptizer and Jesus.
Manasseh - Succeeded his father, righteous Hezekiah, to the throne of Judah, Manasseh was one of the most wicked, responsible, according to tradition, for stuffing the prophet Isaiah into a hollow log and then sawing the log in half. After being punished by the Lord by going into exile, Manasseh turned back to the Lord at the end of his life.
Meshach - One of the three friends of Daniel who refused to bow to the image of Nebuchadnezzar and were thrown into a fiery furnace. The Lord rescued the three from martyrdom as a testimony to Nebuchadnezzar of His greatness. "Meshach" is the name the Babylonians assigned to him; his Hebrew name was Mishael.
Micah - A prophet of the Lord who prophesied to the nation of Judah. Micah was an older contemporary of the prophet Isaiah.
Michal - Daughter of Saul given in marriage to David. When David fled from the wrath of Saul, Michal's father gave her in marriage to another, who was forced to return her to David when David became king. Later on in their marriage, Michal came to despise her husband. She died childless.
Miriam - Sister of Moses and Aaron and a prophetess. Miriam led the women in their song of rejoicing after the Lord drowned the Egyptian army in the Red Sea (Exod. 15:20-21). Miriam was temporarily struck with leprosy as punishment for joining with Aaron in questioning Moses' unique authority (Num. 12:1-15).
Mordecai - Uncle of Esther who raised her as his own daughter. Mordecai enjoyed a position of favor in the court of Ahasuerus after exposing a plot against the Persian ruler. Esther rescued him from a plot against his life by wicked Haman
Moses - Used by God to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. Among the men of the Old Testament Moses was unequaled as a prophet and the lawgiver for the Israelites. His life is recorded in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. He is believed to be the author of Genesis, and Psalm 90 is also ascribed to him. Moses was brother to Aaron and Miriam.
Naaman - Syrian military leader who sought a healing of his leprosy from the prophet Elisha. The Lord healed his leprosy after he dipped seven times in the Jordan River, as Elisha directed him.
Naomi - The mother-in-law of Ruth, who brought the young widow with her when she returned to Bethlehem from Moab after the death of her husband and both of her sons. It was Naomi who advised Ruth to seek protection from Boaz, resulting in Ruth's eventual marriage to the rich kinsman.
Nahum - A prophet of the Lord who predicted the fall of Nineveh. His predictions were fulfilled in 612 B.C. when the Babylonians conquered the Assyrian capital.
Nathan - Faithful prophet of the Lord who served as David's trusted spiritual advisor. Nathan had the honor of announcing to David that his dynasty would last forever (2 Sam. 7), a prophecy ultimately fulfilled in the eternal reign of Jesus Christ. To Nathan also fell the unpleasant task of confronting David with his sin of adultery and murder and announcing that his infant child would die (2 Sam. 12).
Nebuchadnezzar - King of the Neo-Babylonian empire, who deported nobles from Judah, including Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, better known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. A few years later, in 586 B.C., the Babylonian army laid siege to Jerusalem, captured it, and destroyed it. Nebuchadnezzar recognized the potential of the young Hebrews and promoted them to leadership positions in his kingdom.
Nehemiah - Cupbearer to the Persian king Artaxerxes and appointed by him to be governor of the exiles returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of the city. Against strong opposition, Nehemiah led his people to rebuild the walls of the city and helped Ezra in turning the people's hearts toward the Lord.
Noah - A man who found grace from the Lord in a desperately wicked generation and built the ark that rescued from the Great Flood his entire family and representatives of all of the land animals then living upon the earth. Upon leaving the ark, Noah entered into a covenant with the Lord and received from Him gracious promises, including the promise never again to destroy all life by a flood.
Obadiah - A prophet the Lord used to denounced the Edomites for celebrating the fall of the Israelites and even cutting down their refugees. Obadiah's predictions that Edom would be utterly destroyed were fulfilled.
Rachel - The wife whom the patriarch Jacob loved more than his other wife, her older sister Leah, and who gave birth to Jacob's two favorite sons, Joseph and Benjamin. Benjamin became the head of one of the tribes of Israel, almost wiped out in a war against the other tribes.
Rahab - A prostitute of the pagan city of Jericho at the time the Israelites were about to invade. Rahab hid the Israelite spies in exchange for their protection in the coming battle. After the spies kept their word and spared her at the fall of the city, she married an Israelite, becoming one of the ancestors of Jesus Christ.
Rebekah - Wife of Isaac chosen by Abraham's servant because of her willingness to serve him by drawing water for him from a well and watering his camels. Rebekah was the daughter of Nahor and the sister of Laban. When Isaac became blind in his old age, Rebekah conspired with her son Jacob to deceive him into giving Jacob the Father's Blessing in place of his older twin, Esau, to whom it rightly belonged. When Rebekah heard Esau threaten his revenge, she sent Jacob off to her father's people and died without ever seeing him again.
Reuben - The firstborn son of Jacob who lost his position over his brothers because of his sin with his father's concubine. When his brothers wanted to kill their younger brother Joseph, Reuben intervened and persuaded them not to kill him. Reuben's descendants became one of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Ruth - A woman from Moab who, after the death of her Israelite husband, firmly committed herself to attend her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, the Israelite. After the two women returned to Bethlehem, Naomi's home, Ruth married Boaz, Naomi's kinsman. Their son Obed turned out to be the grandfather of king David.
Samson - An Israelite dedicated to the Lord from before he was born, who nevertheless was vain, selfish, sensual, and violent. God used him despite his sinfulness to bring deliverance to Israel from their Philistine oppressors. Samson was deceived by a Philistine woman Delilah to reveal the secret of his great strength, his long hair, uncut as a sign of his dedication to God. When Delilah cut off Samson's hair while he slept, Samson lost his great strength and fell victim to his enemies, who put out his eyes and bound him with chains. Samson got his revenge, however, for when his hair grew back, he pulled down a Philistine temple to which he was chained, killing not only Samson, but all of the Philistines who had assembled there to mock him.
Samuel - Another Israelite dedicated to the Lord before he was born and raised as the servant of the high priest Eli. Samuel grew up serving God and after Eli's death, became the last judge of Israel and also one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament. Under the Lord's guidance, Samuel anointed both Saul and his successor, David as the first two kings of Israel.
Sarah - Wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac. Sarah was very beautiful even as an older woman. The Lord blessed her to conceive her child after she was beyond the age of bearing children, in fact, when she was 90 years old.
Saul - The first king of Israel and a powerful warrior who led Israel's armies against the Philistines. Because Saul sinned against the Lord and apparently did not repent, the Lord took his kingdom away from him and gave it to David. Saul compounded his sin by trying to kill David again and again. Saul committed suicide on the battlefield after he realized the Philistines had won the battle and were about to capture him. Saul's son, Jonathan was killed in the same battle.
Sennacherib - King of Assyria who led an invasion that swept through Syria, Israel, and Judah at the end of the eighth century B.C. Sennacherib destroyed all of the fortified cities of Judah except Jerusalem. He surrounded Jerusalem and would have destroyed it as well, had not Hezekiah prayed and received from the Lord a mighty deliverance--in one night an angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 soldiers of Sennacherib's army. Sennacherib returned to Assyria in humiliation, where two of his own sons assassinated him. Sennacherib's palace in Nineveh has been excavated, on the walls of which he depicts the taking of Lachish, an Israelite city near Jerusalem. He boasts, "I walled up Hezekiah in his city like a bird in a cage," but makes not mention of taking Jerusalem or of the decimation of his army.
Shadrach - One of the three friends of Daniel taken into exile by the Babylonians before they destroyed the city of Jerusalem. His Hebrew name was Hananiah. With his two friends, Mishael and Azariah, better known as Meshach and Abednego, Shadrach refused to worship the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar. Although the three of them were thrown into a furnace of blazing fire, God sent someone Nebuchadnezzar described as "someone like a son of man" to rescue them, and they escaped unharmed.
Solomon - King of Israel, succeeding his father David to the throne. At the beginning his reign, the Lord offered to give him whatever he wanted. Although quite young, Solomon asked for wisdom rather than riches or long life. In response, the Lord gave him all three, blessing his reign until he became renowned as the wisest and richest king in history. Tragically, however, his many marriages to foreign women turned his heart away from the Lord. Despite being remembered for building a glorious temple to the Lord in his capital city of Jerusalem, Solomon actually became an idolater.
Uriah - A Hittite warrior among the elite soldiers in the army of King David, whom David treacherously ordered to be exposed to the enemy in battle and killed to hide the king's adultery with Uriah's wife, Bathsheba. The Bible has nothing but praise for this victim of a king's lust and the subsequent, self-serving cover-up.
Uzziah - King of Judah and father of King Hezekiah. Uzziah was also known as Azariah (not the much later Azariah also called Abednego). He was a righteous king, but at the end of his reign became conceited and wrongly offered incense in the temple of the Lord. The Lord punished him with a leprosy that remained with him until his death.
Zechariah - A prophet of the Lord who, along with Haggai, persuaded the returned exiles to complete the temple they had begun four years earlier and neglected to finish while they built their own houses. Zechariah greatly encouraged the governor, Zerubbabel, that the Lord could care for the nation's se while he devoted himself to finishing the sanctuary of God. Zechariah also encouraged the high priest, Jeshua, that the Lord Himself purified him for his duties as the spiritual leader of God's people.
Zephaniah - A prophet of the Lord chosen from among the royal household to urge the people to return to following after the Lord.
Zerubbabel - The Persian-appointed governor of the exiles who returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Supported by the prophetic ministries of Zechariah and Haggai, along with the ministry of the high priest, Jeshua, Zerubbabel was able to motivate the people to complete the rebuilding of the temple of Solomon in 516 B.C.
Zophar - One of the friends of Job, who, in the guise of trying to comfort him in the loss of all of his children, his possessions, and his health, instead sought to accuse him of deserving God's punishment because of some hidden sin. Eventually the Lord vindicated Job and prompted him to pray for his three friends.
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Copyright ©2006 Steve Singleton
Steve Singleton has written and edited several books and numerous articles. He has been an editor, reporter, and public relations consultant. He has taught college-level Greek, Bible, and religious studies courses and has taught seminars in 11 states and the Caribbean.
Go to his DeeperStudy.com for Bible study resources, no matter what your level of expertise. Explore "The Shallows," plumb "The Depths," or use the well-organized "Study Links" for original sources in English translation. Check out the DeeperStudy Bookstore for great e-books, free books, and great discounts. Subscribe to his free "DeeperStudy Newsletter" or "DeeperStudy Blog."
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Egyptian Culture - Love Potions

Many ancient observers have commented on the devout nature of ancient Egyptians. Hardly a day went by apparently, without a religious event of some sort. They were a thankful people always ready to express their gratitude to their gods. Ritual in the temples was a fine art with a great many people helping to make the experience deep and profound.
Today our finest minds have split the atom, travelled to the outer planets and constructed an internet system that is inspired. We were no less clever in our ancient past when great minds were working on the refinements of worship. Geniuses of ancient times worked hard to provide the props for a passionate experience of divine drama. Had there been award ceremonies in those days, the Egyptians would have won all the Oscars!
In the four months of the year when the farmland flooded, temporarily redundant labourers were employed on fabulous building projects producing pyramids, magnificent city temples and palaces. Divine architecture was a national pre-occupation and even today, crumbling and unpainted, these buildings still hold a charge. In their heyday when they were properly maintained and freshly painted they would have been electrifying.
The interiors were no less impressive. The way to an inner sanctum was through a series of sealed doorways designed to stimulate a rising climax and a feeling of exclusion and secrecy. Beautifully painted murals directed the supplicants towards a magical otherworld until they eventually arrived at an inner chamber or womb. Within this holy of holies was the sealed shrine containing the statue of the deity about to be reborn for communion. This was always accompanied by perfume.
In a country with high temperatures, perspiration and body odour was a constant factor in temple gatherings so the use of incense was essential to maintain an experience of divinity. Frankincense and myrrh were widely used and this exquisite scent would produce a feeling of holiness by association. Egypt was famous throughout the known world for producing the finest perfumes and many gorgeous varieties were available. The distillation of alcohol was not known until the fourth century BC, so scent was extracted by steeping in oil to obtain essential oil. This essence was then blended with other additives using great skill.
There is a theory about 'anointing' that suggests an altered state of mind where "The Anointed One" would receive enlightenment and divine experience. What were they anointed with I wonder? The skills of apothecaries were highly refined and hallucinogens and other mind altering ingredients wouldn't have been overlooked. Opium and hashish were widely used. Is it possible that perfumes were also enhanced with these emotional intensifiers and called enchantments? Or love potions?
Read about this and many other fascinating aspects of Egyptian culture in Nile God, a paperback novel and ebook. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A4COHJO The author, Garth Meaney is an antiques dealer, restorer and collector of ancient artefacts. His interest in all things Egyptian provides an informed background for this thrilling tale of romance, secrets and magic.
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The Greeks Admired Ancient Egypt

It was the year of 300 Before Christ (B.C) and Alexandria the great had given the land of Egypt to his close friend Ptolemy I Soter. They must have known a lot about the Egyptians way of thinking and how the hieroglyphic system worked, because they would keep these traditions alive though themselves.
Normally when one conquers another land, the losing part tend to be destroyed, and what can be used is taken into the winning conquers own registries as their own.
But Alexander did not do this to the land of Egypt, nor did they destroy their gods and goddess. Actually they took in everything that Egypt was, even thou they must have known that the ancient people of Kemet (Egypt - The Land of magic) were the last to hold a true key of pure knowledge. Alexandria added his own section to the Luxor temple, in its most holy of holiness. There he placed his name among the very ancient Egyptian pharaohs and so did he unite himself with them. They understood the Egyptians so well that they were able to change words and expressions, without the people revolving. Actually they probably just changed everything from the inside (another Trojan horse).
The real ancient Egyptians had ended long before the Greeks ever came, and their knowledge, seems baffling compared to the Greeks and other older cultures. They were truly the ancient modern society, but they had been at war for so many years, then at peace for lesser years, and then at war again. This was the time between Tut-ankh-amun's (around 1300 B.C) death up until the time of Jesus (around 7 B.C) birth.
The ancient way of thinking has always been kept alive, through the knowledge that more modern societies would come too displayed.
Many ancient Greeks used Astrology like their ancestors did. From birth until death, the stars would never fail them. Some used their means for doing real mean in reality, other became humble servants of the old way of thinking. But never again would there be an Egypt so great and with the truth from the even older.
The Greeks never figured out everything about the Egyptians, because even until this day such matters are unknown. Still they say; how did they build such magnificent things?
The truth shall never be destroyed, therefore it was written in stone for all to see. Yet before this time where the people that was even more humble in mind, they declared that they knew nothing and therefore left nothing for the naked eye.
The Secret of Anubis; The Winter Triangle ISBN 87-991527-9-7
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Legend of the Holy Grail

The legend of the Holy Grail represents the symbol of life.
The Holy Grail is identified as a sacred vessel out of which Jesus drank the Last Super; used in the final meal with his disciples, the legendary sacred object has captured our imagination down through the centuries. And the intrigue continues to be more than an illusion of archaeological romance. The Grail is hidden in guise of many stirring accounts; some stories are just mythical engrossing wiles, on a journey of vengeance from Jerusalem to England, depicting battles with the old adversary Satan. The stories are truly fascinating, galvanize with symbols of life to engage our imagination in the metaphor of spiritual journey.
The Holy Grail is describe in Christian traditions and early literature as a legendary object and some commentators have made mention that the object itself is a plate, but most have said it is a cup of some description. While the search for the mysterious existence of the Holy Grail continues, the quest has not always been for the finding of a physical object, because for some pursuers, the Holy Grail represents something more than the treasures of gold, silver or brass; it becomes an important union of fellowship with God. The state of grace with God is to be free from the burden of sin and to have peace abiding within, when the guilt and penalty of death has gone then the heart becomes justified by faith.
What is the significance of the Holy Grail?
It brings together a number of obsessions in mind, first the ingredient is connected with Christ, at his Last Supper meal, and therefore, the nobility of such defining moments lend credence to the belief that the Holy Grail possesses superior spiritual powers, perhaps similar to those associated with the Ark of the Covenant, lost from sight in the Old Testament. As we look at the Holy Grail, let us delve back into history for a time where curiosity has driven our imagination to uncloak something out of this mystery, where numerous attempts have been made to popularize the hazy shroud of historical artifacts. Film directors go to great length to present a compelling picture of the puzzle, DA Vinci Code, looks at the mystery of the Holy Grail. The portrayal emphasized the hidden object of a cup, which then can be looked at in the story taken up in the account of Joseph of Arimathea, who is alleged to have caught the blood of Jesus as he hung dying on the cruel Roman cross. Joseph of Arimathea is no stranger to bible scholars, because it was he who had donated his own tomb for Jesus burial.
While this may not be the view of everyone, it certainly is the most consistent line of thinking, even for those who are of none Christian concept. The fascinating subject of the Grail emerges with consummate romance, and takes us through the labyrinth of time, with different cultures, promising the fulfillment of a lifetime quest. The power of the Grail may be indiscernible to us, greater than all the concepts we imagine, yet so infinite; that no other powers on earth can compare.
This spiritual powers must be awakened by our own purity and good intent, then we will not be drawn to the negative conclusions that surrounds this precarious object of interest, by invoking rites of magic or other spiritual activity that are conceived in secret.
So much for the importance of the Holy Grail in our lives, the obsession may be the greatest need for association, by learning the truth about God, we can study the bible with great intensity; but history demands that time and tales rightly discern the times, for stories that plays a nursery part in people's lives. We then notice the importance of the Grail and the stir it caused when first the eye of the world was called upon to voice their opinion, the subject stream rises to the top of the fountain and remains supreme.
The legend is associated with profound ecstasy, fusing elements of mythology and Celtic lore, of horn made drinking goblet, which could restore life, and produce magic for hope, such were the stories, and other accounts relating to tales of medieval England in the Middle Ages, a period from about A.D. 500 to 1500. This period is sometimes called the dark ages.
During this period of time, King Arthur's knights of the round table was connected with the account of Holy Grail, this story alleged, that the grail was hidden in one of the most horrible part of England, whereupon only the purest knight would be worthy enough to perceive and understand the path that lays between life and death. so the knight would roam the country in search of it, this became their noblest quest, and it is believed that only Sir Galahad was the virtuous hero, with the privilege of having envision the rhapsody of the over powering revelation.
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